Is your house in need of a change? Do you need to renovate an out-of-date kitchen or bathroom? Or remodel by combining a kitchen and dining room into one large eat-in-kitchen?

If you have been wondering where to start, here’s some information that may give you that boost of confidence you need.

First, let’s define the terms. Remodeling is often broadly used to describe any kind of change to an existing house. It’s changing the use of a space or spaces. Renovating refers to a more specific term. It means to make a space new again without changing its use.

Step 1. Decide if the remodeling is worth it

Get the facts; don’t move forward based solely on emotion. Use the 2015 Cost vs Value Report to decide if adding that sunroom is a smart move if you plan on moving in the next 2 years.

What are your intentions for your house? How will the remodel advance those plans? Realtor.com suggests you consider these questions:

  • How long do you plan to live in your current home?
  • Will you get to enjoy the results of your remodeling project?
  • Will the remodel meet an immediate but temporary need? Or be an investment in your lifestyle?
  • If you are close to retirement, is now the time to invest in home improvements?
  • How much chaos can you live with during the renovation process?
  • Will your home need a lot of updates? Will there be simple ways to update things like energy usage?

Inevitably the question becomes: How much will this improvement add to the value of my home? Much of the time the answer is: Not as much value as it costs to actually make the improvement.

That answer does not mean you should put the brakes on your plans. It does mean, however, that you proceed with a clear budget in mind. 

Step 2. Set your budget

If you have more ideas than money, it’s time to calculate what you can afford.

When financing is necessary, many people use one of three methods: a cash-out refinance, home equity loan, or home equity line of credit.    

Redstone Federal Credit Union® has a home equity line of credit (HELOC) that offers many attractive benefits.

Use this four-step plan to set your remodeling budget.

Spend the necessary time on planning and budgeting the project and try not to under-budget. Thoroughly research, compare prices of labor and materials, and be certain to factor in a contingency fund to pay for unexpected expenses. These expenses could include: asbestos, structural flaws, water damage, etc.  

How much should you set aside for a contingency? Many experts suggest after setting a budget, subtract 20 to 30 percent for contingencies. This is your “build to” budget – not your slush fund.

It’s not all gloom and doom. There are ways to save money on remodeling projects: such as bringing in natural light without adding windows or picking up goods and materials yourself – avoiding delivery fees.   

Step 3. Plan your project

Starting a remodel is like facing an enormous blank slate. Here’s how to get inspired, get motivated, and get started.

Know what you want before you get estimates. Have a clear, specific plan before talking to contractors. You’ll get a more accurate estimate if you are specific in what you want done and the materials you would like to use to make it happen. 

Step 4. Choose your team and set a schedule

The people you select for your project should be problem solvers, good listeners, and budget watchdogs. Ask these questions before you hire.

Interview at least three contractors and get a written bid from each one. When you compare bids, make sure each one includes the same materials and the same tasks, so you’re comparing apples and apples, said Angie Hicks, for an article in US News Money. Hicks started a company in 1995 that would become Angie’s List, which provides reviews of contractors and other service providers.

Expect a contractor to be too busy to start right away. That’s a good sign that they are keeping their customers happy.

Should you hire an architect? It depends on a few things: if your taste runs toward the traditional, you may find what you want among stock building plans. Stock plans ordered through the mail or downloaded from a website may include floor plans, foundation plans, structural framing plans, electrical and plumbing plans, cross-section drawings, and elevation drawings.

Search Houseplans.com to find a variety of stock plans.

If you want something that is truly unique to you, an architect may be warranted.   Architects are licensed professionals with training that covers many areas, including building design, structural engineering, and ergonomics.

Find out what is in the contract: hard costs, fees, furniture? Your team should help you understand what is in those budget numbers. Hard costs include the costs of the construction materials, and fixtures required to actually build the structure. Soft costs generally include fees for permits, consultants, and designers.

Step 5. Keep your project on track

What is your project timeline? Create a realistic one and stay the course. There will be paperwork to complete; equipment breakdowns; supply shortages and other obstacles to overcome. So factor those in as well.

Step 6. Update your homeowners insurance

Increase the amount of your coverage before the remodel is complete. If not, and the improvement is damaged or destroyed, you may have to pay for the repairs out-of-pocket.  You should also protect yourself from liability by ensuring that the workers performing the renovations have proper insurance coverage. 

 

You must be an RFCU member to obtain a mortgage loan. Must be eligible for membership and open a share savings account. A $5 minimum balance is required to open share savings account and must be maintained in share savings account at all times. All mortgage loans are subject to credit approval.  Various types of mortgage loan programs and terms are available.  Must have Online Banking username and password to access online application. Must create separate user name and password to gain access to mortgage application process. Redstone Federal Credit Union is an Equal Credit Opportunity Lender. Fees and other restrictions may apply.

 

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Helpful Resources

See award-winning area contractors and their winning projects at Alabama Remodeling Excellence Awards.  

National Association of Remodeling Industry provides list of its member contractors.  

Guildquality publishes results of customer satisfaction surveys for the construction and real estate industry.

Check out Redstone Discounts® 2 for deals from area businesses.   

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