Home improvement has been considered a leisure activity, as it involves both work and leisure. However, the reality is that there are many home improvement problems that have caused substantial personal and professional costs, due to poor maintenance or shoddy workmanship.

Home improvement requires careful planning. Professional contractors should be hired, but also homeowners can plan for home improvement by taking a few simple steps themselves.

The first step is to remove all clutter from the room, including books, magazines, cans, and anything else that cannot fit in a new place. Determine how much storage space is available in each room, and assign each item a place.

For instance, if you have a lot of shelving on one side of the room, then decide which items can be placed in the middle, including electrical outlets, cabinets, drawers, and racks. Select furniture and appliances to fit these places. If they do not fit there, move them elsewhere.

The next step in planning a home improvement project is to figure out what you need to get rid of or change. Do you need to take out a section of the wall? Have you just moved or relocated, and need to replace a door or window? These problems should be taken care of before tackling more “serious” or more costly home improvement projects.

Other improvements to consider including a change of lighting, painting, or simply putting a new paint job on an old piece of furniture. Furniture is one of the easiest and most affordable things to change about a room because so many variations are available for such little money.

Make sure the house is properly tested for safety and comfort before the homeowner begins any home improvement project because it can make the difference between a mold-free home and one filled with dirt and mildew. Even a basic inspection should be done before any serious work gets started, and anyone who handles a home improvement project needs a proper license.

Depending on where the work will be done, a building permit can be required, and in some parts of the country, this may be required before any major home improvement project is done. Check with your local city to see if any inspections are required, and if not, ask the contractor about the correct procedures for finishing the job.

Many home improvement projects can be accomplished with help from professional contractors, but many do it themselves. If the project will be difficult, it is usually best to leave it to the pros. Doing it yourself requires some care, but sometimes the projects are necessary, and it is worth the extra effort to save money and avoid unpleasant surprises later.

Every home will be different, and many people will have different ideas of what should be done to make a home comfortable and appealing. A home improvement consultant may be able to recommend better solutions to your specific situation.

So when someone asks you about home improvement, take it seriously. You are saving time, money, and the trouble of having to start over, and it is well worth the effort.