Sure, we’ve now made it out of the dire straits that were the 2007 economic meltdown. That’s safe to say. But the memory of the turbulent times still lives on, the fear still grumbles below the surface acting as a constant reminder of what could happen, and that makes risks slightly more unattractive. This includes buying a house and more specifically buying a bigger and better house. That’s why home improvements have become such a popular alternative.
It doesn’t matter if you have recently bought a new-build house, or if you have moved into a condo that sits slap bang in the middle of a nice community, or if you have decided to gamble on a little fixer-upper; every single homeowner has thought about making a few little tweaks, a few little upgrades, and home improvements. It is an itch that we can’t ignore and an itch that everyone is susceptible to.
But that doesn’t mean you should just rush into it all willy-nilly and without a care in the world because, well, some improvements are better than others. That’s where we come in. We have spoken to a few industry professionals; anyone from construction pros to real estate agents, and come up with a list of top tips, tricks, and bits of advice – golden rules – to help you turn your humble home into your dream dwelling. Enjoy.
Know What Will Add The Most Value
Look, your home is your home, it’s your castle, your fort, your little piece of the earth, that is its primary role. But that doesn’t mean you can’t think about home improvements while wearing your commercial cap. If you’re looking at plunging money into your home, whether it be a little bit at a time or a great big chunk all at once, it is well worth thinking about whether your improvement plans will provide a healthy return on your investment.
To put it as simply as possible, some home improvements are far more (financially) rewarding than others. Okay, if you need to replace the floor in the kitchen because the wooden boards are warping then you need to replace the floor. If your hip roof needs to be re-tiled because it is leaking then you need to do this. But if you are just looking for ways to invest in your home then there are certain things you should consider.
Upgrading the kitchen, renovating your bathroom, making your home more environmentally-friendly, converting the attic into another bedroom and turning your basement into a self-contained apartment; all of these could add a huge amount of value to your home. You may not be planning to sell just yet, but that doesn’t mean you won’t want to in the future.
Always, Always Have A Plan
One of the biggest mistakes people make when taking on the home-improvement challenge is starting without a plan in place. This means starting without having an understanding of the, what should we call it, the bigger details. These are things like the cost of it, how long it will take to complete, what materials will be needed, and what designing will be needed. It is also important to not kid yourself on this front.
There will be nothing more detrimental to your project than having to change your attempts halfway through. For example, it will be pretty annoying if you put a bath in the wrong place, or choose the wrong tile, or don’t leave a space wide enough for a fridge. Yet all of these are common issues with people that don’t plan or prepare. What’s more, it is such an easy thing to avoid because, even if you are doing these upgrades with your two hands, there are design tools out there that will help conceptualize and cost-up. No excuses there.
Please Pick the Right Builder
The last thing you want to do is fall prey to a cowboy builder, and that means you have to be careful about which contractor you go with. Cheap doesn’t mean good. What is good, however, is value. You maybe sat reading this thinking, “what do I need a contractor for, I’ll do it myself?” But there are more than a few DIY don’ts when it comes to home improvements. That’s why you’ll wanna find a trustworthy and responsible handyman. Trust us, it will cost you more if you get some cheap because you’ll have to pay them and then you’ll have to pay someone else to redo the work the cowboy did. Bish, bash, bosh, it’ll be expensive.
How can you make sure you get a trustworthy and responsible contractor? Simple. Start off by asking around, get recommendations from friends or family or neighbors. Google the contractors they suggest and just see if there are any bad reviews out there. Make sure you know what task you want them to take on and then find out what permits, certifications and qualifications they should have. Oh, and absolutely 100% make sure they have insurance. There is a load of stuff you can do to protect yourself, it is just about being a little street-smart.
A Good Workman Can Absolutely Blame His Tools
If you’re gonna take on some home improvements that don’t need a skilled contractor to help then you need to make sure you have the right tools. Even Chuck Norris wouldn’t be able to perform home improvements with just his hands. Okay, maybe Chuck Norris would, but not you. Sorry. As such, make sure you get yourself a toolbox and then make sure you equip it with essential tools.
As a sort of general rule of thumb, this should include things like a screwdriver set, a claw hammer, a good portable workbench, pliers, adjustable wrenches, a level, tape measure, torch, electric drill, hacksaw, Stanley knife and duct tape, definitely, have some duct tape ready. Of course, if you’re taking on a more specific challenge, say plumbing, first off, you’re brave and secondly, you may need more niche tools. So plan. Yup. We’re already linking it back to the need to plan. It is also worth mentioning the need to be realistic again. You may have put up a few shelves and have a garage full of tools, and you may be a seriously confident person, but it important to know your limits when it comes to making home improvements. Just a heads up.
Always Have Some Inspiration In Mind
The internet is going to be your friend on this one. Ask any homeowner that’s considering some improvement work about what they do in their spare time and they will more than definitely tell you they scroll through Pinterest. Yeah, Pinterest is the Holy Grail of home improvement inspiration. It is an abyss that you may never find your way out of again, though. We know a lot of good people that have been swallowed by the infinite amount of ideas and hacks on that platform.
Of course, Pinterest isn’t the only option available to you. There is Houzz, BHG, and even This Old House, all of which will become pretty good acquaintances from the moment you first meet them. Another great one to look at is Zillow Diggs. What makes this one special is that it does the whole-look-at-our-awesome-project-photos-thing, but then it goes that little bit further by giving you cost estimates and suggested contractors too. Now that is pretty darn cool. Of course, your phone will inevitably run out of battery at some stage (in approx 2.5 hours if you have an iPhone), in which case you will have to resort to the television. But that’s cool. There’s a ton of home improvement shows out there from HGTV to Grand Designs to Amazing Spaces. So just watch these for an hour or so while your phone gets some juice back.
We Have To Mention The Money Thing
Yeah, we don’t want to talk about this bit either, but we kind of have to. You see, if you can’t afford to make the home improvements you want to make entirely on your dime, then you’re going to have to find some for of gap financing that won’t put your home at risk of anything bad. It is also well worth knowing the tax breaks, which can be something as menial as your project being a home repair instead of a home improvement. But this could save you a pretty penny should you make the proper deductions at tax time.
It could even be your private mortgage insurance that see’s a little bit of a tweak come its way and, although it won’t help with the paying for your project, it will save you on future running costs and that is pretty sweet.
Basically, there is a lot to consider on the old money front and so it could be worth speaking to an accountant first and seeing what your best play is from start to finish. They will be able to guide you in the right direction should you need a loan, they will be able to explain what tax deductions you’re in line for and what legal loopholes are in place, all of which see you make more changes sooner than you thought you could.
*This post was contributed. Family friendly post are welcome.