There are few things more satisfying than a well-planned home improvement project. But renovations can be expensive, and there’s always the risk that a hiccup or surprise will add to the bill. That’s why it’s important to carefully research and plan projects before you start swinging a sledgehammer. The most popular home improvements are updates to kitchens and bathrooms, which are easy to complete on a budget and will have a big impact on how your home looks.
You’ll also want to consider whether any projects will improve your home’s energy efficiency, which will save you money on heating and cooling costs over time. New windows, a heat pump or added insulation can all help.
Other common home improvements include adding a deck or patio to create an outdoor living space, and converting a basement into a finished family room. These projects can also increase your home’s value and make it more livable for you and your family.
According to a 2017 survey from Chase Home Lending, married couples with children were the most likely to undertake home improvement projects, and they spent the most on average. By contrast, single adults were the least likely group to take on renovations, and they spent only 6 percent of the total market’s spending that year.
Before hiring a contractor, ask friends and neighbors for recommendations. Then, visit some of their homes to see the work they’ve had done. Also ask for a copy of the contractor’s insurance policy and verify that it includes workers’ compensation and general liability coverage. A reputable contractor will be happy to provide you with this information.
It’s also a good idea to get your mortgage lender involved in the planning process, especially if you’ll be using a loan to fund some of the renovation costs. That way, you’ll have a clearer picture of what your financing will be like and how it will work with the overall cost of the project.
The key is to focus on projects that will add the most value to your home, and avoid those that will decrease its usable space or require a lot of upkeep. If you’re unsure about how to proceed, talk to a real estate professional or use online tools such as 3D modeling programs. And remember: Home improvement projects rarely go exactly as planned, so it’s wise to build in 10-15% of buffer to your estimates.
One thing that’s for sure: there’s always a next project on the horizon. So stay tuned!