When you own a home instead of renting, you lose the benefit of being able to call a landlord and request maintenance; you are your own landlord. However, you now have the freedom to make changes to your home and add your personal style, making the space work for you rather than trying to get comfortable in another person's space.
Whether you’re looking at renovating one room or the complete overhaul of a fixer-upper, there are steps you can take to ensure you don’t break the bank while investing in your biggest asset.
Get a Home Improvement Loan
A home improvement loan can help you finance your upgrade efforts without signing up for extremely high interest rates or swiping your credit card until the strip wears off. Home improvement loans can be worked into your mortgage, should you opt to purchase a home that you know will require some TLC.
There is a lot of misconception about using one’s mortgage to fund upgrades. Many people gravitate toward having a lower mortgage while acquiring more credit card debt. Having a home improvement loan that works with your mortgage can help keep interest rates low and returns on investment high.
Take it One Room at a Time
If you have a limited budget, there is no need to handle everything all at once. Instead, prioritize things that need to be done. Create an ABC list of tasks to be completed. If something is required to be able to live in the home, prioritize it as an A item.
If you need to have something done to be able to live comfortably, but you can get by for a while without it, list it as a B item. If you can live comfortably but the upgrade would enhance your quality of life, list it as a C.
Alternatively, you may focus on which room needs the most work to make the house livable. If it comes down to a bathroom that is ugly yet functional and a kitchen that has cupboard doors hanging off and a stove that doesn’t work, you know which you have to address first.
Know When to DIY and Ask the Experts
Some tasks are relatively simple to learn and execute, while others should be left to the professionals. For example, you can cut costs by laying your own tile and painting the walls if you are moderately handy or have prior experience in these areas.
However, anything that is trade-specific like plumbing and electrical work should be left to the experts. Not only is trying to manage plumbing and electrical dangerous to you and those around you, should anything happen to your home as a result, insurance may not cover it.
If you feel uncomfortable with any task, call a professional, even if you’ve already partially completed your work. Don’t underestimate the difficulties of some tasks, such as hanging cabinets or sheetrock. If you skimp on these areas and do a terrible job, you limit the value of your home if you decide to sell.
Look at Wholesale and Discounts
Look at outlets and clearance centers for flooring, closet doors, fixtures, etc. Use whatever discounts you can to drive down costs. If you know that you plan on renovating the bathroom in the future, don’t hesitate to pick up a pedestal sink now because it’s heavily discounted.
Smart shopping and deal hunting can make a significant difference when it comes to home improvement projects.
Remember to be open-minded as you go about this process. If you find tile that is not exactly what you wanted but has a similar look at a fraction of the cost, consider changing direction and using the cheaper tile instead. Be smart when starting a home improvement project and it will all come together in the end.
About the Author
Joseph Hogue is a financial expert and investment analyst. After serving in the Marine Corps, he started his career investing in real estate before becoming an investment analyst for some of the largest private investors. He's appeared on Bloomberg and on CNBC as an investment expert and has published ten books in personal finance. Now he helps investors reach their financial goals and invest in the stock market with some of the same advice he used when working for the rich.