Prepare Your Fall Home Remodeling Projects in the Summer.

Many people take on projects in the first few months of the year thanks to their income tax return providing a boost of cash. By now, most people have completed their landscaping projects and are focused on other outdoor projects while the weather is still good. Luckily most outdoor projects are relatively inexpensive due to the nature of the materials and skill of labor required to complete the job.

As people start to head back inside at the end of summer they refocus on the larger, inside projects in which sweat equity may bring some added value. Unfortunately remodeling always requires some careful consideration. Now is the time to start doing some serious budgeting for the projects you plan to start inside the house come fall. Proper research on how those projects can help you build the safety net you need in order to see the best return on your investment.

5 Tips to Prepare for a Major Remodeling Project

Do Your Research First

Larger projects tend to base the projected budget around a percentage of the value of the home. For example, the National Kitchen and Bath Association states that the proper amount to budget for your entire kitchen remodel (cabinets, countertops, floors, appliances, lighting, and labor) should be

between 5-15% of the value of your home. If you spend less than 5%, you will undervalue your home, and more than that will mean you are spending money that you won’t see in the future sale of your house. If your home has not been recently appraised, check out to find a reasonable estimate of the sale value of your home.

Speaking to a local Realtor can be a great way to see trends in the housing market for your area to give you an idea for the best options that you should go for. Also, speak with professionals who might be doing the work to get their opinions and feedback on what trends they are seeing.

Determine Your Needs

As you prepare for a major project, look at what your needs for the house are. If you are planning on staying in the house only a short time longer, look to do the things that will get you the most money back when you sell and purchase a new home. If you are planning on leaving your current home feet first, then rank your personal desires and purchase accordingly. Speak with your financial advisor and local realtors to ensure that your investment will be worth your time and effort.

Get Your Money’s Worth

As you are preparing for the project, a major concern should be whether or not you can recoup your costs when you decide to sell your home. One of the best tools for this is’s Cost vs. Value report that it does every year. It looks at the top 35 remodeling projects that you can do to your home and what the average costs and added resale value are.

Accordingly, you should plan on doing the right projects at the right time of year. Fall is a popular time to start major projects on summer homes, since the season is over and the work won’t interfere with enjoying the space. It is also a popular time to work on secondary rooms inside the house, such as offices or attic bedrooms, since this does not disturb the overall flow of the house or have major issues related to the weather (such as installing a deck or redoing a roof). Make sure that your costs are similar to the average cost for your area and type of job so that you see your return on investment.

Proper Budgeting

Never go with the first estimate. Always shop around and get multiple estimates for any job. Also, check Angie’s List or other forums for reviews on the work that that contractor has done previously. Once you have the estimates, start doing the research on what you can actually afford. Always add 15-20% to the offer you choose due to unforeseen circumstances.

While you can always pay cash for your project, some major projects are just too costly. You can then either borrow from a bank or credit union in the form of either a loan or a home equity loan, or some project sources, like major home improvement stores, offer financing options. Both options are going to look at your Debt-to-Income Ratio.

Your Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI) is calculated by adding your current monthly expenses plus the monthly payment for your project, divided by your gross monthly income. Most lenders will be upfront about what their required DTI is when you go in to speak with them.

Prepare Yourself

When people take on a new project, they are often losing the use of an entire room of their house. Talk to professionals about the time frame that they are looking at and be ready to make some major changes to your lifestyle for at least as long as they told you. Depending on the scope of the project, that can be anything from having to move all of your furniture to another level of your house to redo your floors or to eat only microwaved meals for 8 weeks while your kitchen is being gutted and put back together.

Also, always prepare that extra 15% for surprises when you get ready to do the work. Depending on the age of your house and the skill level of previous owners, you may find anything from wiring and plumbing not being up to code to newspaper for insulation. There is always a surprise waiting for you.

Get the Ball Rolling the best way to prepare for any project is to start early. Speak with your Realtor or contractor to see if the projects you’ve chosen will add value to your home. And talk to your financial planner about saving and budgeting so you can afford to improve your home. Sometimes cash is not the best way to pay, but only your accountant or advisors will be able to find the best route for you.

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