My parents just finished remodeling their kitchen. They changed the layout, and installed new cabinets, countertops, and flooring. The result is a much more open kitchen, and one that looks updated and modern. This has been part of an ongoing effort to upgrade their home. In recent years they have installed energy efficient windows, remodeled the master bathroom and added a bay window to the front room.
For them, these carefully considered upgrades have been worth the money, since it adds to the comfort of their home, and even enhances the value of the home (although not in terms of a dollar-for-dollar increase in value).
Almost two years ago, my husband and I decided to make a small upgrade to our own home by adding high-quality flooring. It’s increased our enjoyment of the home, and it means that when we sell (which is a very real possibility in the next 12 months), we won’t need to provide a flooring allowance.
But it doesn’t always make sense to upgrade your home. Here are some things to think about before you change things up with your home:
What Are the Permit Requirements?
First of all, before you start a project, you need to know the permit requirements in your city. In my town, people finishing their basements need proper building permits displayed in their windows, and my parents needed a building permit for the bay window. If you are building an addition to your home, or converting garage space to living space, you probably need some sort of permit.
You should also make sure that you fall within the zoning requirements. There are some residential areas that won’t allow you to remodel your home to include a full apartment (with its own kitchen). You need to make sure that your upgrades fit within the rules and regulations of your locality before you get started, and then obtain the proper permits (and figure any cost into your plans).
How Much Will It Cost to Remodel?
Get estimates for the work. This should include estimates from professionals that will be working on the home. Get between three and five estimates so that you have a good idea of what things will cost.
Then, you need to decide whether or not it will be worth it to pay that kind of money. You won’t get out what you put in on any remodeling or home upgrade project. You just won’t. So you need to consider the other benefits. Will it at least make your home more sellable when the time comes, so that it’s not on the market as long? Will you enjoy your home more with the upgrades?
Consider the intangible and tangible benefits, and decide whether or not you want to pay the cost. An important consideration is whether there are any available tax deductions or credits for your home improvement project. You can also think about what else you could do with the money, and determine whether or not you might want to do something else with it.
How Will You Pay For It?
Finally, once you know what it will cost, you need to figure out how you will pay for your home upgrades. Many people choose to use home equity lines of credit to upgrade their homes. However, this isn’t always an option for everyone. If you don’t have enough equity in your home, it won’t work.
You should also be wary of getting a loan. You need to make sure that you can repay it, and that it makes sense for your situation. For something small, you might be able to save up. My husband and I saved up for our flooring, and it went well. You might also have to get creative, perhaps doing some of the work yourself, and maybe doing it a little at a time, as you get the money.
Plan ahead, and make sure it’s what you really want before you decide to make home upgrades. Your pocketbook will thank you.
Photo credit: Nancy Hugo, CKD.