Home improvement has become almost as popular as reality TV, with shows like Fixer Upper and This Old House bringing in huge ratings. But jumping in with both feet and spending money on renovations without any thought to their return on investment can be a big mistake. The best home improvements are those that make a homeowner happier in the short term, while adding value to the property and possibly saving money on energy costs.
One of the biggest mistakes homeowners can make is not knowing how much a project will cost before hiring contractors and getting started. This could lead to projects that exceed budgets and push a homeowner into debt. “It’s important to know the full scope of work and all associated costs before committing to any major upgrades, such as new flooring or kitchen cabinets,” says John Anderson, an analyst with Homeownership Endowment Fund.
The good news is that with historically low mortgage rates, many homeowners can afford to remodel and get a significant return on their investment, according to a recent report by home renovation loan marketplace RenoFi. Some of the most popular projects include sparkling bathroom overhauls, basement remodeling and kitchen renovations.
When it comes to the resale value of your home, it’s also crucial to consider what buyers are looking for in your neighborhood. For example, adding a fountain and lush gardens may not appeal to buyers who prefer more traditional landscaping. Likewise, you won’t see a high return on your investment if you build a deck and outdoor fireplace in a neighborhood where most people have garages instead.
If you’re unsure about which improvements will add the most value, seek advice from a local real estate agent or home renovation specialist before starting any major work. They will be able to give you an idea of which projects are most likely to add value and how much they should cost.
Whether you’re tackling a major kitchen or bathroom renovation or just painting your bedroom, you should always plan and budget carefully. Write a detailed list of exactly what you want done and be specific when negotiating with contractors to avoid any surprises or extra charges. If possible, try to negotiate with contractors who are licensed and insured. This will protect you from unscrupulous contractors who try to sell you on unneeded upgrades or repairs.
When choosing materials for a home renovation, opt for quality over brand name items. For example, granite countertops are more expensive than laminate but they will last longer and are less likely to crack or chip.
If you’re planning a major project but don’t have enough cash saved, consider using credit cards or personal loans that offer 0% interest for 12 months. This will give you more time to save for the work and avoid paying interest on projects that might not increase your home’s resale value.