Over the past two years, we've all spent a lot more time in our homes than we usually do. And if 2020 brought about a housing boom, then 2021 brought about a home improvement boom. With more time on their hands and more time spent in their homes, there has been a notable increase in interest in home improvement projects — the search volume for home remodeling-related terms has doubled from 2020 to 2021. If you have a list of home improvement projects you are hoping to tackle, read on for our home improvement tips.
1. Make a Plan
You may have a long list of ideas of home improvements or DIY project ideas you want to take on — but where do you start?
Start by identifying your goal. Are you renovating purely to raise the resale value of the home, or are you renovating because you plan to stay for a long time and want to make improvements and make the home fit your style better?
If you are renovating to resell, you will want to prioritize home improvements that will add the most value to your home, like remodeling the kitchen or bathroom, upgrading appliances, boosting curb appeal with things like a new front door, and so on. If you plan to stay for a while, you may opt to focus on the projects that will add the most value to your life and meet your specific needs- like adding a gaming room, for example.
Something else to consider when making a plan is whether or not you want to renovate the entire house at once or do it in pieces. Again, if you are renovating or remodeling to resell, you probably have a time frame and want to do it all at once. But if you have more time, or if you are a new homeowner and don’t have a lot of budget, it’s better to take it one room at a time.
Also, consider starting small before you dive into any huge renovations. Simple things like adding or updating crown molding, adding a new layer of caulk, buying new lighting fixtures, or installing some new shelving can make a big difference aesthetically and functionally.
2. Be Smart About Your Budget
Setting a budget is a crucial step in any home improvement project. But making a budget and sticking to it are two different things. As you are planning your budget for any project, be sure to add in padding for unforeseen costs that may arise. A good rule of thumb is to take your budget and add an additional 30% to account for these unexpected expenses. Make sure you’re getting accurate pricing for the type of materials you’d like to use—the cost of materials can vary quite a bit.
3. Know Your DIY Threshold
If you are trying to save costs, you may want to attempt to do all of the home improvements yourself. Or maybe you've watched some YouTube videos and want to get creative with DIY projects. But before you start any big projects, it is important to reflect on how much time, energy, and money you can really put into DIY projects. If you don’t know what you’re doing, a DIY project can easily spiral out of control and end up costing a lot of additional money and time. Sometimes it’s better to work with a professional to get the job done, especially if you have a deadline you’re trying to meet. So take serious stock of the skills that you have and don’t have, and don’t hesitate to bring in outside help to cover the gaps.
4. Find the Right Contractor
If you do decide to bring in outside help for your home improvement project, you want to be sure to do your due diligence when searching for a contractor. Look for contractors who have years, if not decades, of experience. Any good contractor will have a portfolio of their work available for you to look at, and they should be able to provide references. Don’t hesitate to reach out to references or to ask to see the contractor’s work in person. If you don’t know where to start, ask friends, family, or neighbors for referrals!
A reliable contractor can help you make sure your budget’s on track, recommend the best solutions for home improvements, and generally give you much-needed advice. The right contractor can make your project go a lot smoother.
5. Know Your Financing Options
When it comes to financing your home improvement project, you have several options.
You can opt for a home improvement loan, which is a type of loan designed specifically for borrowers looking to complete more substantial home improvement projects with a contractor. This type of loan does not use your home as collateral and can work well for small to medium-sized projects.
If you do have a large amount of equity in your home, you might consider using a home equity loan, which uses your home as collateral. This type of loan allows you to borrow a lump sum at a fixed interest rate. Similar to a mortgage, you receive all of the money up front and make regular payments over the life span of the loan. These loans are better for more large-scale projects and huge renovations.
A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is similar to a home equity loan in that your home is used as collateral. But with a HELOC, you get a revolving line of credit, meaning you withdraw only the amount of money that you need to make purchases or cover expenses as you go, much like a credit card. A HELOC is great if you want to do home improvement projects in phases.
6. Invest in Decent Materials and Tools
Materials and tools are the crucial ingredients that can make or break your home improvement project. Though it may be tempting to opt for the cheapest to cut down on costs, you typically get what you pay for. It’s usually worth it to invest in nicer materials that will hold up longer and save money in the long run.
It’s often recommended to buy more materials than you think you need. Running out of materials can greatly slow down the process and could even force you to use materials with mismatched colors or patterns. When purchasing materials, buy 20%-30% more than what you think you need. Depending on the types of materials you’re using, you might be able to return what you don’t end up using.
And before you dive into a DIY home improvement project, do some research on the tools you’ll need. Missing a tool can slow things down, so make a list of everything you might need. If there are tools that you don’t own or don’t want to buy, you might be able to borrow it from somebody or even rent it from a home improvement store.
Make Your Next Home Improvement Project a Success
DIY home improvement projects may seem easy when reading about them in an article or watching a Youtube video, but when the time comes to actually do the work, it can be overwhelming. A little bit of planning, budgeting, and scheduling can go a long way. After you get the right financing, the sky's the limit!