Making the most of your next remodeling project


2017 is going to be a big year for home remodeling. In fact, according to experts, it’s going to be the biggest year.

Per the ambitiously named Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (whew), Americans are expected to spend $327 billion on home renovations and repairs in 2017. This is due in part to an improving economy and increasing wages creating more financial flexibility.

If you think it’s about time you finally got around to that remodeling project you’ve been dreaming of, first consider the following tips for making the most of your investment in your home.

Decide if you’re staying or going

How long are you planning on staying in your house? If you’re looking to sell in the near future, you should understand the potential impact a proposed remodel might have on your home’s value. Certain features are more valuable in different areas of the country, so if recouping your investment is important, check out this interactive Cost vs. Value report to see what upgrades and changes make the most market sense for your area.

However, if you aren’t planning to sell any time soon, then who cares about the resale value? Pick projects that make you happy and make your home a place that feels comfortable for you.

Think long-term

Today’s convenience can be tomorrow’s hassle if you aren’t prepared to do the proper maintenance. Try to think long-term and scope out the future costs (both in terms of money and effort) to continue enjoying your expensive new remodel. Some remodels and repairs can save you quite a bit of money in the long run. Think about your priorities and big picture goals before deciding what changes you want to invest in. A larger kitchen might sound nice, but maybe what you really need is a more efficient kitchen.

Communicate clearly with the remodeler

Whatever changes you choose to make, remodeling your home is costly. The last thing you want to do is pay all that money and not end up with the changes you envisioned. Your remodeler doesn’t want that, either. So make sure everyone is on the same page in terms of what will happen, when it will happen, and how much it will cost. Then put it all in writing. Starting an expensive remodeling project without a detailed contract in place is just asking for trouble down the road.

Prepare to be inconvenienced

Remodeling a kitchen or bathroom means those very essential amenities won’t be available to you until the project is complete. Make sure you have a plan in place to help you cope with this inconvenience. Also, keep in mind, life in general will be disrupted during a remodel. Be sure to work with your remodeler ahead of time to understand what you should expect during the process, so you aren’t surprised or irritated by all the noise and equipment and strangers roaming around your home.

Donate the old stuff

Remodeling usually means you’ll be getting rid of old appliances or furniture and ripping out plenty of potentially reusable building materials. Before you begin your project, check to see if you have a Habitat for Humanity ReStore in your area. They can take those materials off your hands (and often offer pick-up services for larger items). The money raised goes towards building new homes for local families in need. Plus, the donation can be claimed as a charitable donation on your income taxes.

DIY when you can (but not when you shouldn’t)

Most of us aren’t contractors (that’s just a statistical fact), so when it comes time for the work to begin, you’ll really just want to stay out of the way. There are, however, certain tasks you may be able to handle on your own, and the more you do, the less you have to pay other people to do it for you. Of course, that’s a fine line to walk, so don’t push your luck. If you can save a delivery fee by picking up materials yourself, go for it. If you’re building a new deck, you’re probably okay having a go at tearing down the old deck. Unless you actually know what you’re doing, however, you’re probably better off avoiding doing your own demolition work inside the house. When in doubt, leave it to the professionals.

Jesse Campbell photo.

Jesse Campbell is the Content Manager at MMI, with over ten years of experience creating valuable educational materials that help families through everyday and extraordinary financial challenges.

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