Home Remodeling: The Dos and Don’ts – A Guide For Chicago Homeowners


In Chicago’s dynamic real estate market, where the architectural charm meets urban living, smart home improvements can significantly enhance both the value and appeal of your property. Whether nestled within the city’s bustling neighborhoods or in quieter, leafy suburbs, every Chicago home possesses unique potential for transformation. In this ever-evolving market, savvy homeowners recognize the power of strategic upgrades. From enhancing the historic character of a classic Chicago bungalow to modernizing a downtown condo, the right remodeling choices can not only tailor your home to your lifestyle but also boost its marketability.

With Chicago’s diverse architectural styles and varying neighborhood demands, understanding the do’s and don’ts of home remodeling is crucial. This guide aims to equip Chicago homeowners with essential tips to make informed decisions in their remodeling journey, ensuring that their investments are both personally rewarding and beneficial in the context of Chicago’s competitive real estate landscape.

1. Do: Hire Reputable Contractors

Choosing the right home remodeling company in Chicago can make or break your project. Look for professionals with a strong track record and positive reviews, particularly those experienced with homes in your area of Chicago. Verify their credentials, including licenses and insurance, and don’t hesitate to ask for references or examples of their previous work. A reputable contractor will be transparent about costs, timelines, and the challenges specific to your project. They can also provide invaluable insights and suggestions to enhance the outcome of your remodel. Remember, the cheapest bid isn’t always the best choice; prioritize quality and reliability for long-term satisfaction.

2. Don’t: Ignore Your Home’s Architectural Style

Chicago’s architectural heritage is rich and varied, ranging from Victorian to Chicago-style bungalows. When remodeling, it’s important to respect the original architectural style of your home. This doesn’t mean you can’t modernize or add personal touches; rather, it’s about making changes that enhance rather than clash with the existing style. For instance, adding ultra-modern elements to a classic Chicago bungalow might disrupt its historic charm. Instead, look for ways to update your home while maintaining its character. This approach not only preserves the architectural integrity of your home but also contributes to the overall aesthetic continuity of Chicago’s neighborhoods.

3. Do: Consider the Climate

Chicago’s climate, characterized by cold, windy winters and hot, humid summers, should heavily influence your remodeling decisions. Select materials and designs that can withstand these extreme conditions. For instance, when choosing exterior materials, opt for those that offer good insulation and can withstand freeze-thaw cycles. Inside the home, consider energy-efficient windows and proper insulation to maintain a comfortable indoor environment year-round. Additionally, features like heated floors can add extra comfort during cold months, making your home more pleasant and reducing energy consumption.

4. Don’t: Overlook Energy Efficiency

Incorporating energy-efficient elements in your remodel is not only good for the environment but also for your wallet. In Chicago, where energy costs can fluctuate significantly, improvements like upgrading to ENERGY STAR-rated appliances, installing better insulation, and using LED lighting can lead to substantial savings. Consider also smart home technologies that allow for more efficient control of heating, cooling, and lighting. These upgrades can significantly decrease your home’s energy footprint and make it more attractive to future buyers who value sustainability and cost-effective living.

5. Do: Plan Your Budget Carefully

A well-structured budget is crucial for a successful remodel in Chicago. Factor in not only the costs of materials and labor but also unexpected expenses that might arise. It’s common for remodeling projects to uncover additional needs once underway, such as electrical upgrades or additional insulation. Setting aside a contingency fund can help manage these unforeseen costs without derailing your project. Additionally, be mindful of overinvesting in renovations that may not offer a good return in your specific Chicago neighborhood. Balancing your desires with practical financial planning will lead to a more satisfying and financially sound remodeling experience.

6. Don’t: Forget About Permits

Obtaining the necessary permits is a critical step in the remodeling process in Chicago. Permits are required for most significant home improvements, including structural changes, electrical work, and major plumbing updates. Failing to acquire the proper permits can lead to fines, legal complications, and issues when selling your home. It’s advisable to work with contractors who are familiar with the permitting process in Chicago and can ensure that all aspects of your project are compliant with local regulations. This not only keeps your project on the right side of the law but also ensures the safety and reliability of the work being done.

7. Do: Research Chicago’s Building Codes

Chicago’s building codes are a vital aspect of any home remodeling project. These regulations ensure safety, energy efficiency, and structural integrity. Familiarize yourself with relevant codes, which may vary depending on your project’s scope – from electrical work to structural changes. Neglecting these codes can result in costly corrections and legal issues. It’s advisable to consult with professionals who are well-versed in Chicago’s building regulations. They can provide guidance on permits, inspections, and code-compliant materials, ensuring your project meets all legal requirements and is executed safely and effectively.

8. Don’t: Underestimate the Timeline

Home remodeling in Chicago can be a time-consuming process, often taking longer than initially anticipated. Factors like weather, permit approvals, and the availability of materials and labor can impact your project’s timeline. Be realistic in your planning and expect some delays. Clear communication with your contractor about timelines and progress updates can help manage expectations and reduce stress. Additionally, consider the time of year when scheduling your remodel; some projects may be better suited for warmer months, while others can be undertaken during the winter.

9. Do: Focus on High-ROI Projects

Certain remodeling projects tend to yield a higher return on investment, particularly in Chicago’s competitive real estate market. Kitchen and bathroom updates, for example, are often appealing to potential buyers and can significantly increase your home’s value. Additionally, creating functional outdoor spaces, such as decks or patios, can be a wise investment, enhancing the livability and appeal of your home. When planning these projects, consider current trends and buyer preferences in Chicago, but also choose updates that you will enjoy while living in your home.

10. Don’t: Neglect Interior Design

The final touches in interior design can greatly impact the overall appeal of your remodeled space. Don’t overlook elements such as paint colors, fixtures, and finishes. In Chicago, where homes range from historic to contemporary, choose a design that complements your home’s architecture and your personal style. Consider consulting with an interior designer who can help bring your vision to life and ensure a cohesive and attractive result. The right interior design can elevate your remodel, creating a space that is not only functional but also aesthetically pleasing.


Remodeling your Chicago home can be an enriching process that adds both value and comfort. By following these dos and don’ts, you can navigate the complexities of home improvement with confidence. Each decision should be made with consideration for Chicago’s unique market, climate, and architectural styles. With careful planning, the right team, and a clear vision, your remodeling project can transform your home into a space that meets your needs and reflects the beauty and vibrancy of Chicago living.

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