It doesn’t matter if you’ve bought a newly built home, a condo in a maintained community, or a fixer-upper – owning your own place brings out the home improvement itch in us all (or at least requires us to make necessary repairs and maintenance tasks). Here are ten pieces of advice to help turn your dwelling place into a better home.
1. Have a Plan
Last but not least, one of the worst things you can do when it comes to home improvements is to start a project without the major details—cost, time, materials, and design—as realistic as possible from the start. Nothing costs more than having to “change horses in midstream” (e.g., you want to move the fridge somewhere else now or want to change your tile choice). Use design tools to conceptualize your project and add a healthy buffer (10-15% more) to your time and financial budget to account for the inevitable surprises.
2. Save Money on Your Home Improvement Projects
The more money we save on one home improvement project, the more we have left for all the other ones we want to do. In addition to knowing the remodeling projects that offer the most bang for your buck, know which elements of a project you can splurge or skimp on—spend more on items that are hard to replace, such as the bathtub, but skimp on the faucet, for example, or spend more on a professional range if you’re a gourmet cook and save on the decorative tiles and flooring that look like premium materials.
3. Choose the Right Contractor
About as important as finding a good dentist and finding a good therapist: Finding a responsible handyman or contractor. Horror stories of homeowners being scammed by contractors or having work done so shoddily that it cost thousands of dollars to redo (not to mention the money already spent) give me the shivers.
4. Find Money for Your Home Improvement
Unfortunately, most home improvements do not pay for themselves. If you can’t afford to finance the project in full with cash, know the different ways you can finance your home improvement without putting your home at risk. Also, if you know the difference between tax breaks you get for home repairs or home improvements, you can make the proper deductions at tax time and get some money back from your project. Similarly, if you’re paying private mortgage insurance, home improvements that increase the value of your home could help you eliminate that cost, which, although it doesn’t raise funds for your project, can reduce your housing expenses overall.
5. Get the Right Tools
You can’t really improve your home much with just your bare hands (you’ll need a multi-tool at least!). Equip your toolbox with the essential tools for any minor repair or major project, such as basic plumbing tools. Don’t forget your smartphone might be the best DIY tool in your kit, though, and, when all else fails, there’s duct tape.