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HomeHomes
Published: 6/20/2007

How to Handle a Home Remodel

(ARA) - Whoever coined the phrase "a man's home is his castle" probably never imagined how close to true that phrase would become in modern home building. "More" seems to be the operative word in new home design these days, from more living space and rooms to increased upgrades, bells and whistles.

Perhaps as a backlash against the "McMansion" trend, many homeowners are opting to remodel the home they have, rather than build something new. Even if you are among those who choose to stay put, chances are you'll want the same upgrades and extra touches found in many new homes. But trying to keep up with the neighbors could break the bank if you make unwise decisions.

"Budget and benefit are the two most important factors to consider when planning any home remodeling project," says Maxine Sweet, vice president of public education for Experian. "Homeowners need to set firm goals, have realistic expectations and commit to a budget to make their remodel succeed."

So if you're thinking about a home remodeling project, consider these tips first:

Some of the hottest trends in new home building may not be the best investment for your remodeling dollars. Sure, you can install a second laundry room in your master suite, or create a luggage room where your on-the-go family stores their bags between trips. But when it's time to resell, those improvements aren't likely to provide as much return on investment as a kitchen or bath redesign. However, if you plan to stay in your home for many years to come and you travel extensively, then the luggage room might make sense for your family.

If you want to improve resale value, go with the tried and true, such as kitchen and bath upgrades. If you won't be selling anytime soon, choose upgrades that enhance your enjoyment of your home.

Walk into virtually any home improvement store and you could lose your head over some of the thrilling upgrades available today. But those glass fronted kitchen cabinets that you loved in the showroom may not be your favorite home improvement when you find they require almost daily cleaning. The whirlpool bath with warm-air vents may be wonderful for grown-up enjoyment, but not the ideal place to bathe your toddler.

"Don't let dazzling effects distract you from your ultimate objective of enhancing your home in a way that makes sense for you," says Sweet.

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The surest route to disaster is to start work before you know how you'll pay for it," says Sweet. Before hiring any contractors or buying materials, establish your budget. You can finance your project a number of ways, and one of the most popular methods is a home equity loan. Because your home is the security for the loan, you will probably be able to get a lower interest rate and even some tax breaks. The amount you already owe on your house and your credit rating will affect how much you can borrow for remodeling.

Before applying for financing, it's a smart idea to check your credit report. Credit reporting companies make your report available online. Obtain a copy and make sure everything is in order, with no payment disputes, accounts you don't recognize or other questionable items. If you find something wrong, rectify it before you apply for financing.

"With careful planning, you can accomplish a home remodeling project that will both improve your home's value and enhance your family's enjoyment of your house for years to come," says Sweet. Courtesy of ARAcontent



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