Just about everybody dreams of turning an okay-but-not-perfect home into a dream home. That’s why home improvement stores and do-it-yourself television programs have become so popular in recent years. And there’s no reason you shouldn’t remodel… as long as you know what you’re getting yourself into, so you can avoid the pitfalls that often snag unsuspecting homeowners.

So, how do you fix up your home correctly? Keep the following “worst” remodeling mistakes in mind when you’re planning and carrying out your project.

1. Be careful about over-expanding with additions.

Adding an addition can be a mistake. If you love your neighborhood and your location, and you’re planning on staying in your home for the rest of your life, an addition can make sense. If, however, you see yourself moving someday, think about the ramifications adding a lot of square footage onto your house could have.

You’d think that any increase in size would automatically add value, but if the other houses in the neighborhood are one-level, one-garage ranchers, your decision to add a second story and a bunch of fancy bump outs might just look out of place. This can make it difficult to sell. People want a big upscale home in a neighborhood with other big upscale homes, not a big home that dwarfs everything else in a modest neighborhood.

2. Watch out for under-budgeting problems.

Home improvements are always more expensive than you originally estimate. They usually take a lot longer to finish than estimated too. This means homeowners regularly go 20-30% over their budgets, which can leave them in a world of financial hurt.

To protect yourself, be very conservative when figuring out how much of a remodeling job you can afford. Assume costs will go over estimates and make sure you can handle that additional financial burden.

3. Don’t turn your home into something it isn’t.

Make sure to take the style and design of your house into consideration when you plan remodeling projects. An ultra-modern bathroom with concrete counter-tops and stainless steel cabinets is going to look a little odd in a Victorian house.

Changes that don’t match the style of the home will be a big turnoff to potential buyers down the road. This is particularly true with historical homes; people want the original details. They’re a big part of what gives those older homes their appeal and value.

4. Don’t do it yourself if you’re not qualified.

There are plenty of projects that do-it-yourselfers can handle, but when it comes to big remodeling jobs, you’re better off letting a pro take care of it unless you’re experienced at both design and construction. Due to inexperience, amateurs end up doing sloppy jobs, and that’s something that devalues the house when it’s time to sell. Even worse, you may find out half way through the job that you’ve screwed something up big time and you need to hire a pro to fix it. Then you’ll not only have to pay the cost of the job, but you’ll have to pay extra for your own mistakes.

5. Don’t take on unnecessary renovations.

If you’re remodeling at least in part to increase the value of your home for when you sell it, don’t bother with projects that won’t recoup their cost (and there aren’t many major remodels that do). If you’re selling your home, fix anything that’s broken and do simple (and economical) cosmetic jobs. Let the future homeowner spend the big money.

Of course, if you’re remodeling to turn your home into your dream home and you want to live there for a long time to come, then you can make any changes that make sense to you. Just don’t think of remodeling as a financial investment; think of it as an investment in improving your lifestyle.