Long before you start tearing down walls or ripping up floors, you should consider the following:
Still unsure if your project is worth the cost? Here’s a more in-depth look at the questions above.
No matter how much homeowners try to nail down a renovation budget, there are likely to be unforeseen costs along the way. Plan ahead by getting a clear view of how much you can spend.
Talk to contractors, compare their rates, and get your priorities in check. It’s easy to spring for granite countertops over laminate when you’re visiting the showroom, but if you need to rewire electrical to install the new kitchen appliances later, you might be out of funds — and out of luck.
While the size of a project is largely dependent on budget, in some cases a quick fix repair may cost more money over time than a large-scale renovation that solves a major headache.
For example, if mold is growing on your first floor ceiling due to a leak in an upstairs shower, simply replacing the grout may be enough to resolve the problem in the short term. However, in order to maximize your return on investment — and to be sure the mold stays away for good — instead consider completely redoing the tile and upgrading the quality while you’re at it. In some cases it’s worth tearing it all out so you can replace the drain and pipes too.
If you're preparing to put your home on the market, make sure your renovations will appeal to buyers. One of the biggest misconceptions among homeowners is that major home improvements equate to more money in the final sale. That's not always the case. If you're planning to live in your home for several years, make sure you can realistically live with the changes long term.
It's important to consider the value of renovations in your region—not just on a national scale. Energy efficiency projects may reap more value in colder climates, while a swimming pool may dissuade buyers.
On the other hand, in warmer regions, a pool may actually attract buyers to your home. Other areas of your home, say an office, may fit your personal lifestyle, but pouring your money into building a home office may not make sense before selling your home to somebody who will use that office as a playroom.
Home improvement projects can get stressful and can’t always be completed over the weekend. Be sure to plan a realistic project timeline as well as for any arrangements needed to get through the chaos of a renovation. With major renovations, it’s often pragmatic to set aside funds in case you need to stay overnight in a hotel or simply plan a fun day out if you’ll have to spend several hours away from home while contractors complete their work.
Sometimes home improvement projects solely benefit you — and that’s okay! Increasing your home’s value has several benefits. If you’re staying in your home, you might be able to apply the equity to secure a home equity line of credit (HELOC), a home equity loan (HOL), or even a cash-out refinance to help pay off debts, pay for college tuition, or purchase a new car, for example. And if your home is on the market, it could sell faster and for more money.
Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer with a growing family, or a near-retiree looking to sell and downgrade, it’s important to understand which home renovation projects will make the most sense for you. So set aside a budget, plan ahead, and do your homework! After all, you have to live with(in) the results.