Remodeling your home can be exciting. You finally get to have the home that you dream of (or at least an improvement of the one you currently have). However, if you’re not careful, a remodel can saddle you with debt. So, before you begin, be smart and follow these ways to save on a tight budget. You’ll end up with an improved house that fits your finances.
Nearly 40% of Americans plan to renovate their home within the next two years, but I’m not one of them. Even though my house could definitely use some updates, I’ve decided that the cost of bringing my 1970s home into the 2020s just isn’t worth it.
I Wouldn’t Get My Money Back
Studies have shown that you almost never get your money back when you pour it into home upgrades.
My kitchen currently has blue laminate countertops, so it could definitely use a minor remodel. But if I decide to sell my home down the line, I’ll only get back about 77% of the money I put into redoing the counters.
Instead of spending that money improving the aesthetics of my kitchen, I could put it in the stock market and get a 7% return. That’s one of the main reasons why I decided home improvement projects aren’t worth investing in.
Upgrades Wouldn’t Improve My Home’s Function
I was lucky to find a house that has newer home systems with a lot of life left in them. I don’t have to make any upgrades to bring my home up to a livable standard. Any renovations I do now will only improve the look of my home, not the function.
Even though the bathroom has linoleum tile that’s a little scuffed up from years of use, it still does its job. I’d only be replacing it because I like the appearance of slate better. That doesn’t seem like a very good reason to pull a few thousand dollars out of my savings account in an unstable economy.
Home Improvement Takes Time
Home improvement projects take a lot of time, especially if you try to do some of the work yourself to reduce labor costs.
I don’t want to devote tons of time to home maintenance because it would take me away from my business and side hustles. Time is money, and I don’t want to sacrifice it making home upgrades that won’t give me a good return when I could be working instead.
Renovations Can Be Unpredictable
Renovations are unpredictable, and a lot of things can go wrong financially.
There’s always a chance that the contractor you hire will perform substandard work that you’re not happy with. It’s not always possible to get your money back, so you may have to spend extra money to make things right.
Remodels can also go over budget, which can cause financial strain. I put a lot of money down on the house, so I don’t want to drain my savings further by remodeling my kitchen.
Finishes Go In and Out of Style
Another reason I’m not rushing to remodel is because design styles are constantly changing.
Right now, farmhouse decor and all-white kitchens are super popular. But if I renovate my home to match current trends, it could look outdated in the future when those finishes are no longer in fashion.
That’s why keeping your house updated is pretty difficult. It will always be outdated to some degree, so I’ve learned to embrace the blue carpets and track lighting in my home.
Since I’m treating my home mainly as an investment, I’ve decided home improvement projects aren’t worth my time or money.
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HomeAdvisor cites an increase in home equity over the past five years as a confidence booster that provides America’s homeowners with more money and the comfort level to spend – regardless of overall economic concerns. Study respondents spent an average of $5,157 on home projects between February 2016 and February 2017. Almost two-thirds (63%) intend to spend an equal or greater amount between February 2017 and February 2018.
Homeowners are also willing to take on larger projects, with such ambitious jobs as building an addition (average cost of $40,825), building a garage (average cost of $25,008), and remodeling a basement (average costs of $18,807) listed among the top ten improvement tasks by HomeAdvisor.
How will these projects be funded? The vast majority of homeowners plan to do so with cash. The study found that just less than 1 in 5 home improvement projects require alternate financing.
A surprising 45% of homeowners who will finance plan to use credit cards – a risky proposition given the relatively high interest rates and increased chances of racking up interest charges. If you can afford to put a small project on your card and pay it off at the end of the month to maximize rewards points, that’s reasonable – otherwise, there are plenty of options that may be preferable for your situation.
Jordan Goodman, a Personal Finance Expert and Author known as “America’s Money Answers Man”, suggests that while mortgages should target the maximum needed to buy a home, “if you need to do home improvements later, do that through a home equity line of credit (HELOC).” A HELOC is well suited for home improvement projects because of its relative flexibility and generally lower interest rate. HELOCs were the choice of 22% of study participants planning to finance their projects. For more information, read the entire HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Report.
If your mortgage terms are poor compared to currently available rates, or you planned to refinance anyway, you can simply fold the increased borrowing for home improvement plans into a standard mortgage refinancing. MoneyTips is happy to help you get free refinance quotesfrom top lenders. Otherwise, a HELOC may be preferable. As Goodman puts it, “You don’t want to be paying for thirty years on home improvements.”
Home equity loans offer another path for home improvement financing. They are similar to HELOCs in that you are borrowing against the equity in your home, but a home equity loan has a fixed borrowing amount and payment schedule just as your mortgage does. You may prefer a home equity loan for simplicity in budgeting.
Traditional bank loans and construction loans are reasonable alternative options for larger projects that will cost more than the equity you have in your home. You will have to evaluate your loan offers to see how the interest rates and terms compare with the refinancing path, since HELOCs and home equity loans would not apply here.
In some cases, a contractor will arrange financing for you if they already have a standing relationship with a finance company – but these are usually done for convenience and not for economics. Inserting a middleman into any process rarely produces lower cost.
Your ability to borrow is based on your credit score. You can check your credit score and read your credit report for free within minutes using Credit Manager by MoneyTips.
If you plan to join the home improvement trend, we wish you well regardless of how you plan to finance your project. Verify that your project is well planned and outlined before you begin, make sure that you find the financing that works best for your situation, and avoid changing your mind halfway through the project.
If you are interested in refinancing your home loan, MoneyTips is happy to help you get free refinance quotes from top lenders.
This article was provided by our partners at moneytips.com. You may also like:
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Photo: Julien Dumont
Planning will help you understand how to go about the project, but if you haven’t got the necessary funds, a personal loan for home improvement is your solution. However, before you approach a lender and apply for the loan, here are a few things you need to keep in mind.
Home Improvement as a Personal Loan
A home improvement loan is simply a personal loan, and bears all the conditions of a regular personal loan. Personal loan interest rates vary across different loan vendors, and a little extra research on your part can help you find the one with the lowest interest rate. Since these loans are also unsecured, getting a bank to sanction the loan is an easy task. There’s no need to provide collateral or to divulge your reasons for taking the loan.
You’ll have to show documents like your proof of address, identification and financial statements from the last three months. Lenders will use this information to assess whether you’re financially stable to repay the loan.
No Strings Attached
When you take a home improvement loan, you can use the funds to renovate spaces both inside and outside your home. For example, you can install new windows to allow more light to enter your home. You could even install a porch or add another room using the money from a home improvement loan. A few lenders even let you use the funds for new furniture. Taking out a personal loan for home improvement allows you to do just about anything you want with your home.
Keep it Small
When you opt for a home improvement loan, try using it to take care of simple work, like installing a new window, fixing the plumbing or painting the house. It’s easier to calculate the cost and time of completion in the case of smaller projects. That makes it a lot simpler to budget accordingly, and you’ll end up spending a smaller amount of money.
Bigger projects like adding a room or switching up the look of your kitchen can be time-consuming and expensive. Also, you may run into other financial obstacles while the project is underway. That means you’ll have to ask for a bigger loan amount. Also, some larger products (i.e. a new roof) can be covered by homeowner’s insurance in some cases, so you may want to check and see if your project is covered prior to taking out a loan.
These are a few things to keep in mind before you take a home improvement loan. Ensure that you’ve done a stringent check on the lender that you’re approaching, so that you understand the terms and conditions involved.
Photo: Flickr: Phil Roeder
Tracking home improvement projects can be a risky adventure if you are not managing the details of the project process and the budgets throughout the improvement process. These details include the items necessary for the project, the labor if any for the project, and time and when certain items need to be procured. Managing budgets as the project goes through its process is necessary to insure that enough funds are available to complete the project. The last thing anyone wants is a half completed project in a home which occurs more often than you might think.
Home improvement projects generally have five phases. Each phase can guide you to the next phase and help you better prioritize your home’s and your family’s needs. By following a project management methodology for your home improvement projects, you are more likely to have awareness of the specifics about your project or projects and to follow the details needed to complete the project. Here are the five phases.
Managing Your Project Ideas and Concepts
When determining what you need and want done to your home in the form of projects, it is time to get them all in a wish list. Some projects might be fix it projects like updating a roof or replacing a hot water heater. While other projects are design or renovation projects that either require cosmetic updates or complete demolition and construction of a room or location in your home. When it comes to our homes, many of these projects feel like a priority but discussing what needs to be completed and the desire of the projects will help identify project priorities.
Maintenance or fix projects oftentimes become a first priority in that it affects a way of life. A broken hot water heater results in cold showers. Or a non-working heating and air conditioning unit can result in very cold winters and very hot summers. These projects are not the end of the world, but may find themselves in your priority list due to your lifestyle.
When it comes to decorating, design or updating your projects, determining your style or theme of what you want your home or a particular room to be like is important. You style will lead you in considering the materials and finishes you want to incorporate into the design of your projects. This is important as some materials may be more expensive than others but there may be a comparable material on the market that will still fit your needs but may fit into your budget more effectively.
In determining style, you will need to also gain a clear understanding of your spatial layout in your home or room. Having an understanding of your existing room or area sizes or understanding your room sizes for future additions is important to spatial layout. You can love all the products you want, but if they do not fit in your room than you will find it difficult to incorporate them in your design. Make sure your measurements are accurate for the space and the items that will be incorporated into the space.
Once the wish list process is underway, the number of projects that all the parties want in a home start increasing and the need to prioritize when each project will be started and then completed is a conversation for everyone involved. This can also help with managing expectations over a period of time. Managing projects over one year or over multiple years still becomes important to make sure visibility is transparent and the projects are moving smoothly. By managing multiple projects over time, all the parties involved can agree on when a specific project will be completed and when. Keep in mind weather conditions can help you design your project schedules. Conducting landscaping projects in winter where it snows might not be a wise use of time or dollars.
Following the Money
Once you have identified your projects, it is time to gather the data about the costs of these projects. Simple research can be done to find estimates of projects both from a parts and materials component and also a labor component. This research can be gathered online, while out shopping, talking to friends and even interviewing contractors or product manufacturers. Gathering this data about your projects will help you identify what budget requirements are needed for these projects and how to prioritize them against one another but also against the other items in your life like vacations, cars, education and more. This process also gives you an opportunity to start understanding the basic details of project expenses. This phase is your first opportunity to understand the finances and the time it takes to complete a project.
DIY or Contractor Hired
Understanding your capabilities and whether or not you have the time and the experience to conduct your projects or you need to hire them out will help you also identify the budget requirements for your projects. Hiring contractors to perform the work will result in a labor costs that you may not have been aware of and need to now budget. Labor costs can vary depending on the project and the crew that will come in and finalize your project.
This process may also include hiring a designer. If you struggle with understanding how to make a home truly yours or are looking to create a specific look, then hiring an interior designer can help you move the process along and also help you find exactly what you want as these individuals have connections with a lot of vendors and suppliers that could help with the design and feel of the room. An interior designer’s fees will need to be incorporated into your project budget. Interior designers can also help with recommending and/or hiring contractors. This community generally has a number of parties that work together and are familiar with each other’s style and communication methods.
An interior designer or a contractor can help with the overall project management process of the project, which could result in increased fees but if this burden is too heavy for you, this could be a great compromise. You will however need to make final decisions on the overall project process.
When hiring contractors, interview multiple ones for the job and also ask for customer references. Once you understand that the contractors have the right skill, previous experience, and you feel like you have a contract that supports both you and the contractor, then you are in a position to start the hiring process. It is important to stay involved in the process and to establish a communication methodology to keep the project on time. Both contractors and owners can slow the process down by not making decisions quickly.
Labor costs can also change should an unexpected situation arise. Sometimes delays can occur due to permits or unexpected weather conditions can delay a project, among other things. Having a fall back position in your mind or in your budgeting process of extra labor costs can help you manage through any of these unexpected situations and keep you on top of potentially increased labor costs.
It is important and best that if you do not have the time nor the skills to perform the specific project, hire the right contractor to help you get the project completed. Nothing is worse than doing a project that you are not equipped to perform and then having to redo it thus spending double or more the money due to someone needing to come in and fix the initial project.
Always keep in mind your safety if you choose to do these projects yourself. Not having the skills to perform a contact can result in safety issues that could result in more challenging situations long term.
Shopping for Project Details
Now that you know which projects are in your near future, it is time to start shopping for the specific items necessary for your project. Homeowners will often remember the large items like appliances, large furniture, cabinets, countertops, and more in a project but forget the smaller items like garbage disposals, faucets, towel racks, etc..
Understanding the features, costs and specific details of each item is important during the project lifecycle. What you want versus what you can afford is a struggle we all face with our home projects. Should you spend more money on appliances and less on flooring and countertops? If you buy the high end bath tub you really want, can you save money elsewhere on the project and still be within your budget? These types of questions are ones that many people struggle with in seeing various aspects of the big picture.
Tracking Project Costs
The phases of a home improvement project allow homeowners the ability to understand how to manage individual cost budgets for projects and help keep you aware of any changes that might occur during a project. Tracking costs of multiple projects also help track the funds and cash flow needed over a specified period of time.
By tracking the project details including receipts, warranties, and photos of before and after will come in handy during tax time of the year if you decide to sell your home. These project details also come in handy when you need to update your home inventory and details with your homeowner’s insurance agent. Making sure you are properly insured when new projects are updated can insure that you are aware of your home’s details should anything unexpected happen like a fire or some other tragic situation.
Once your project is complete, It is also time to schedule the maintenance on your newly updated parts of your home. Appliances require regular maintenance where you will follow the recommended maintenance instructions from the manufacturer’s owners manual. Other items like countertops might also have suggested maintenance depending on the materials. Follow the recommended maintenance activities for these items by referencing sources that focus on these items. Determining if you need a service provider to come into your home occasionally can also help with the process of staying on top of your maintenance.
The most common reasons a project is over budget is poor planning, no budget or estimates, no comparison shopping, bad contractor contract, and not pitching in on labor.
Following these phases of the home improvement process can help you stay aware of your projects that include the details, the schedule and the budgets. Focusing on a process can also help identify if any unexpected changes need to be made to your projects that could result in increased dollars needed to complete the project. Following these simple steps can bring awareness and visibility to home improvements along the way avoiding any potential risk of an incomplete project.
It’s usually at times like this when you start thinking about moving. Maybe moving to a newer, bigger, swankier house would give you a lift, make things more exciting, or give you more room. The trouble is, moving is expensive and time consuming, if you can even accomplish it in this economy. By the time you sell your current house, find a new house, and wade through all the paperwork and labor, you’re likely to find that it wasn’t worth it.
Improving your home doesn’t have to be expensive, though. You can change a lot of things, jazz up rooms, and even create new spaces inexpensively. All you need is some creativity and some labor and time. Here are some ideas to improve both the inside and outside of your house.
Changing just a few key light fixtures in the rooms you use most often can give those rooms a lift and change the atmosphere. You don’t even have to change the whole fixture; just changing the shade or globes can be enough.
You don’t have to order all new cabinets. Cabinets can be painted or refinished inexpensively if you do the labor yourself. Shelf paper inside of the cabinets can cover wear and spills.
If you love the look of granite but can’t afford to get all new countertops, there are paint kits now that do a good job of mimicking the granite look. You have to be careful and follow the directions exactly, but you can get the look you want for less.
Tiles can add impact to a lot of rooms. You can put a backsplash in the kitchen, put some tile around a fireplace, accent a bathroom sink, or even create some artwork or trim on the walls.
Paint is just about the cheapest way to change a room. You can add stripes, textures or other patterns if you want a bigger change. And if you don’t like it, it’s relatively easy to change. Get some sample cards and idea books and experiment.
If you hate your carpet or it’s in need of replacement but you can’t afford new, you can lay area rugs over the worst spots and hide the stains or damage. If you have light carpet and want a darker change, lay down some darker colors to take away the brightness. And vice versa if you want to create a lighter feel.
Moulding or Trim
Moulding is inexpensive and easy to install. You can add chair rail, crown moulding, change your existing trim, or create patterns of your own design for very little money.
Upholstery and Slipcovers
Maybe you can’t get new furniture, but you can probably recover what you have, either by getting some slipcovers, doing it yourself with some fabric of your choosing, or by hiring an upholsterer.
Simply giving the house a good cleaning and de-cluttering can go a long way toward making it more attractive and livable. Get rid of the junk and discover how much room you have. Clean the grout in your tile and see how new the bathroom looks. Steam clean the carpets and maybe they’re not so bad. Clean your light fixtures and enjoy a brighter room. Wash your woodwork and see it shine.
Rearrange the Furniture
Take the time to rethink how your furniture is arranged. Maybe you’ve always assumed that it will only fit one way, but there might be other, better options.
Blinds, valences, shades, and curtains are inexpensive ways to add color to a room or change the appearance of the windows. There are so many styles and shapes to choose from these days, you’re no longer locked into the standard mini blind.
Convert a Room to a New Purpose
We long ago realized that we were never going to use our formal dining room as a dining room. We just don’t entertain that way. Rather than let it go unused, we converted it to an office just by changing the paint, adding a couple of more electrical outlets, and putting some french doors on the archway leading to the kitchen. All total, it cost about $600 and allowed us to change the guest bedroom that had formerly been our office back into a bedroom. The space was much better utilized and it gave us a “new” area in our house. If you have a room that’s not being used to it’s fullest potential, think about how you can repurpose it.
New flooring doesn’t have to mean expensive, exotic hardwoods and natural stone tiles. There are many varieties of laminate and vinyl available today that can replicate the look of expensive products for a fraction of the cost. They’re also pretty easy to install yourself. And there’s no one saying that you have to redo all the floors at once. Pick your two most used or ugliest rooms and start there. You can also use alternative materials like concrete, fabric, remnants, carpet samples, or even simple paint.
Maybe you want different furniture but can’t afford to hit the name brand stores. Try looking at your local Goodwill, yard sales, or thrift stores. Often you can find pieces in excellent condition or pieces that just require a little TLC. It’s not “new,” but it’s new to you and that can be enough to make you feel better. You can also build or create your own furniture using inexpensive materials and a little ingenuity. For items like kitchen or desk chairs, a new seat cushion can give a quick lift.
New Shower Curtains and Bath Mats
Jazz up a bathroom with a new shower curtain or some new bath mats/area rugs. If your bathroom is boring white, give it a color lift. Similarly, if you have a pink, gold, or green bathroom from the 60’s or 70’s that you can’t stand, choose some colors that complement the decor while also minimizing the parts you don’t like.
New Bed Linens
Pick out a new comforter and pillow shams to instantly jazz up the bedroom. Maybe you’ve had grandma’s quilt on the bed long enough and now it’s time to bring out the Caribbean feel you’ve always wanted.
Fix whatever is broken in the house. Replace burned out bulbs and add more light. Patch and paint any holes or cracks in the walls. Fix the broken end table you keep meaning to get to. Simply repairing all those things you’ve been meaning to can improve your home for little cost.
New Toilet Seats
I’m serious. You’d be surprised at how much a new toilet seat can jazz up a tired bathroom. You don’t have to stick with standard white. There are lots of colors, patterns, and textures available today that can complement your decor or become the focal point for the bathroom.
Updating your kitchen and bathroom fixtures can give those rooms a much needed update and most are easy to install yourself, no plumbing experience necessary.
New Knobs on Cabinets and Doors
They seem like small things, but the knobs on your cabinets and doors can change the feel of your home. Maybe you have brass and you want a brushed steel look. Or you’ve got those crystal knobs from the 50’s and you want something newer. They don’t cost a lot but the little change can spice up your house.
New Towel Rods
Try changing out the towel rods in your bathrooms and kitchen for a quick lift.
Maybe it’s time for some new family photos on the walls, or to better arrange what you already have. Maybe it’s time to look for some new paintings or posters or to reframe something you have and love. You don’t have to get the works of the old masters; something you like presented well can change a room.
A well placed, large plant can hide an ugly fireplace or unused radiator. Smaller plants with bright blooms or leaves add color to a room. Plants can match the mood you’re trying to create, as well. Tropical plants make a room seem more Caribbean, while evergreens make it seem woodsier. Plants also improve the air in your home.
Embrace Your Retro-ness
If you have a pink bathroom, a gold kitchen, or metal kitchen cabinets from the 50’s, stop thinking about how to modernize it and figure out how to embrace it. Retro is in, so play it up. Find some vintage artwork at Goodwill and hang it up. Put some magnets on those cabinets. Create a retro-looking calendar and hang it in the kitchen. Buy some retro-looking lamps or fixtures. Instead of fighting your decor, play with it and create a look.
Finish the Unfinished
If you have an unfinished attic, basement, upstairs storage area or any other space you can convert to usable space, doing so can give you a lot more room. It’s more expensive than some other ideas, but can still be reasonable if you do your own labor. You may also want to think about converting a garage to a usable room if you’d rather have the space than a garage.
Adding on is pricey, but it’s a lot cheaper than moving. You can add to the ends of your house, or off the back without too much inconvenience to you. Doing so can give you one or more extra rooms or simply expand an area like the master bedroom or the living room.
Hit the Thrift Stores
All kinds of things can be found at Goodwill, thrift stores, consignment stores, yard sales and flea markets. Almost anything listed above for your home can be found there. You can also find things like tablecloths, place mats, artwork, frames, knick knacks, memorabilia, and many other decorative items. Much of it will be in great condition.
Wash the House
If the funk is so thick on your house that you can write your name in it, you need to wash your house. You can rent a
power washer and do it yourself, or you can pay someone around $100 to do it for you. It will make the house look new.
Pick up the Trash
Don’t leave piles of trash around the outside of your home. Just looking at that stuff can drag you down and make you hate your house. Make sure your household trash is collected (or hauled to the dump) each week. Pick up newspapers and flyers and clean up any trash that’s not even your fault such as cigarette butts and other litter.
Paint or Replace the Mailbox
The mailbox is the first thing you see when you come home. If it’s broken, falling over, or ugly, it can make everything else seem shabby, too. Paint the post, replace the box, if necessary, and plant a few flowers around the base.
Kill the Weeds
Get rid of weeds in your planters and in your foundation plantings, if applicable. If your driveway is gravel, get rid of weeds there. If you have a concrete driveway and sidewalk, look for weeds in the cracks.
Trim the Shrubs
If you have shrubs along the front of your house or along the driveway, give them a good trim so they aren’t overgrown. This is also a safety issue as overgrown bushes give burglars a place to hide.
Paint the Shutters
Whether your shutters are vinyl or wood, they need care. Vinyl will fade and painted wood will peel. For the cost of a few cans of paint (if you have vinyl shutters you can get the spray paint that’s made for plastic) you can make them look dramatically better. You can also change colors entirely to give the house a new look.
Clean your Fixtures
Clean anything like light fixtures, door knockers, house numbers, door knobs, kick plates, or mail slots. If they are brass you might need to polish them to really make them shine.
Change your Fixtures
Outdoor fixtures like lights, knockers, house numbers, kick places, and doorknobs typically don’t cost that much. Maybe you want to change form brass to a brushed nickel look, or vice versa for something new. You can also paint many fixtures.
Clean and Organize the Garage
You’ll have more space (maybe you can even finally get your car in there) and it’s refreshing to come home to a clean, functional garage. You may finally be able to move your hobbies out there, giving you more room in the house.
Paint the Front Door
A new color on your front door can give your house a new look.
Paint the House
If your home is wood and the paint is peeling or faded, give it a fresh coat. Change the color for even more impact.
Plant Something Pretty
If you have areas where plants can go, such as around the mailbox or along the front of the house, plant some durable flowers, shrubs, or ground cover. A couple of pots near the door or steps filled with flowers can help, too.
Clean the Doors and Windows
Give glass exterior doors and windows a thorough cleaning.
Paint or Repair Fencing
If you have a fence, give it a fresh coat of paint/stain and repair any broken or sagging areas.
If you have areas where grass doesn’t grow well, such as under trees or play sets, consider adding some fresh mulch to add color and definition to the yard.
Clean the Driveway
If you have a concrete driveway and it has oil spots, paint spills, or “artwork” from your kids, clean it off. You can buy cleansers made for concrete at home improvement stores.
Re-do Your Patio or Deck
If you have an outdoor space made of wood, give it a wash and stain, if desired. Patio furniture is relatively inexpensive, so you might be able to find something new to replace your rusting table. Or, you can just repaint that table. Add some plants and upgrade the lighting and you can have a like-new outdoor area.
Of course, doing all of these at one time is likely to be as expensive as moving would have been. But you don’t have to do them all at once. Pick a few that will give you the most bang for the fewest dollars and work on those. When you have some more money, do some of the others. If you do them a few at a time and do your own labor, you can rejuvenate your old house for very little money.
(Photo courtesy of meddygarnet)