Whether you’ve lived in your house for five months or five years, chances are that you have a few maintenance tasks to accomplish this year. While some home renovation projects won’t take much time or money, the major ones can put a significant dent in your time and budget. One way to avoid mistakes is to carefully judge whether the problem merits a major renovation or a quick fix. This checklist can help you assess the damage and make a plan to address it.
#1 You’re Repeating Your Mistakes
Did that wall patch not hold again? Are you always replacing that one crooked tile? If your home repairs feel like a bad remake of Groundhog Day, it may be that larger forces are at play. Recurring small repairs may indicate issues with the foundation, HVAC systems, or a lack of insulation. If you’re frequently making the same types of repairs in the same areas, a remodel may be in your future.
#2 The Time is Right
Many people remodel when they can’t stand to look at that same discolored kitchen counter for another day, or the floor is too uneven to walk on safely. Another strategy is to make significant improvements when it’s most affordable to do so, such as:
- Wait for a sale on wood floors to redo your hardwoods.
- Plan for repairs in the off-season. For instance, you might find a better deal on HVAC in the fall, when the warmer months have passed.
- Work to improve your credit to qualify for the best loan possible. If your credit score is in a good place and loan rates are right, a personal home improvement loan may make it the perfect time to get going on your repairs.
#3 It Saves Money Later
It takes time, energy, and cash to do most remodels, and many of us may find it hard to justify the price. Putting off an essential remodel, however, can cost more down the road.
Leaky roofing will lead to mold growth or damaged drywall. Drafty windows cause higher-than-normal heating bills and can even lead to pests entering the home.
One question all homeowners should ask when considering a remodel is, “It costs money to fix this now, but what will it cost to fix later?” You may not be able to afford delaying that remodel after all.
#4 You Can Work in Phases
Another common objection to doing a major project is that the mess can disrupt life for those living at home. That’s why it’s smart to look at whether you can break down a renovation into manageable phases. Evaluate what it will be like to live in the home during those phases as well as what it will cost.
A bathroom remodel that leaves you without a shower for a week may not sit well with your family. A carefully planned project where the toilet isn’t working for a few hours, however, is more suitable. Plan out your projects carefully to see what each stage will do to your budget and your lifestyle.
#5 Help is Available
Good help is hard to find, and nowhere is that truer than in the home improvement category. Whether you plan on tackling it DIY, or you’d rather put a contractor in charge, you’ll need to bring in some wise and reputable experts for at least a portion of your project.
Since major weather disasters, seasonal trends, and even the market can determine if professionals are available for hire (and what their prices will be), consider planning your project around when you can get the work done right.
What if it’s not time to remodel? What if your budget, the market, or your schedule won’t allow it? As long as the damage or wear doesn’t affect your home’s safety, you may be able to get by with some lesser repairs until the time is right. However, a personal loan can help you cover the costs, with average interest rates much lower than that credit card in your wallet.
Finally, whether your project is big or small, buy quality supplies. They look better, and they will last longer than the cheapest model, which will save you money in the end. If you’re buying a new toilet, consider the high-end model you’ll want for your dream bathroom. If you need to patch and paint, look at options that will be easy to remove when it’s time to create that custom built-in. Financing is available for even small projects.
Repairs happen. Take care that they are a step forward in your quest for a full remodel, and not a stumbling block to progress.
Linsey Knerl is a personal finance expert, author, public speaker, and member of the ASJA. She writes for Upstart and has a passion for helping consumers and small business owners do more with their resources through awareness of the latest financial services.