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What to Consider Before Renovating Your Home

renovating your homeRenovating your home can vastly improve both its resale value and energy efficiency. It can also increase your own personal comfort and quality of life. However, the cost of those renovations can be daunting. This can cause people to put off making the improvements they’ve always wanted. Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re looking to determine the cost of your home renovation projects.

Set a Budget

You might not be able to predict the exact amount you’ll spend on renovations, but you should set a budget. Knowing your budget will also help you prioritize different aspects of the renovation. Understanding what you’re willing to compromise on versus what is a “must have” can help you keep your expectations in line with your budget.

Typical home renovations cost somewhere between $100 and $200 per square foot. This can be a good rule of thumb to keep in mind when setting your budget. You should know that prices can vary based on the scope of the project, the quality of craftsmanship, and the length of time it takes.

Find Contractors You Can Trust

A big part of knowing what you can afford is finding contractors that are upfront about the projected renovation cost. Ask your friends and family for recommendations, so you can be sure to find a company you can trust.  You can’t predict unexpected problems, but a trustworthy contractor can give you an idea of what to expect in any scenario.  Be sure to find out the details of how the renovation is going to be executed.  Are they doing it all themselves or are they hiring subcontractors for a special skill set such as plumbing or electrical?  Whichever direction you go in make sure everyone working on your renovation is licensed to perform the work.

Utility Companies May Work with You

Some utility companies will help you pay for your renovations if they are aimed to help increase the energy efficiency of your home. Utility companies looking to comply with environmental government initiatives will sometimes offer discounts, rebates, or give you a loan to help you make your home more energy-efficient. You can then pay off these loans as part of your monthly bill. You can use this comprehensive list of the options that may be available to you in your state.

Focus on the Long-Term Value

This one isn’t so much about affording the renovations, as much as it’s about making sure they pay-off in the future. If you’re planning on eventually selling your house, it should go without saying that any major updates you make to your home should be ones that bring it added value. Some renovation ideas are more valuable in the long-term and allow you to increase your asking price when you go to sell. Things like in-ground swimming pools, lavish landscaping, and even added sunrooms have been found to lower the return on your investment when it’s time to sell your house. If you want to get the most bang for your buck, focus on updates to your kitchen, bathrooms, energy efficiency, and outdoor living spaces like a deck or balcony.

Look into Renovation Loans

If you’re investing in more of a “fixer-upper,” or you’re looking into making major changes to your home, you might be eligible for a renovation loan. The benefit of these loans is that they let you borrow against the future appraised value of your home. Take a look at the two options below:

FHA 203(k)

203(k) loans come with the benefit of having lower credit requirements as compared to HomeStyle conventional loans. However, the FHA program does require private mortgage insurance payments for the entirety of the loan period. There are two types of FHA 203(k) loans; streamline, and regular. The streamline option is less expensive, but will not cover any structural renovations or health and safety improvements. The regular option is a bit more complex but will cover any type of renovation you need.

Fannie Mae HomeStyle

A conventional loan that lets you borrow up to $417,000 for your renovation, but keep in mind that a down payment will be required. It is the cheaper of these two options, but you can only use 50% of your home’s future value for the renovations.

Whatever the project may be, make sure it’s something that you truly want for your home. The right renovations will go a long way to turn any house into your dream home, and long-term payback.

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