Thursday, 7 May 2015

Many homeowners dream of renovating, but worry about the price tag attached.

It's a valid concern. Houzz, a home design site, reports averages on home renovations by room. Kitchen renovations in the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, have an average price tag of $42,000. In New Orleans, the same room runs almost $19,000. Bathroom redos in Denver can cost you around $8,400, while the same room can cost an average of nearly $15,000 in New York City.

Gulp. But it doesn't have to be this way. There are several alternatives to paying high prices to renovate your home. Here are a few ideas:

Plan for an off-season upgrade

Contractors are busiest—and most expensive—when the weather is nice, so try booking a job in the winter instead. And remember to negotiate because they're usually looking for work in the off-season, and may be more willing to give you a better rate.

Bonus: Tell your contractor that you'd like to do demolition and/or cleanup. This may help lower the quote.

Make modest changes

Small tweaks are key to saving money on a home renovation. Try changing the color of your lamp shades, curtains, and pillow covers to give your bedroom a brand-new look. Painting your fridge and upgrading your faucets are also a great way to make your kitchen appear more modern. These tiny alterations can sometimes give you the desired effect of a large-scale renovation—without the large-scale cost.

Visit your recycling center

Recycling centers can be excellent places to find discarded—but often still in good condition—items for your home renovation. Try looking up a nearby ReStore. Run by Habitat for Humanity, these are home improvement stores located around the U.S. that offer low-cost appliances and other home items. It's perfect for do-it-yourself upgrades.

Road trip to a no-sales-tax state

If the light fixture you've been eyeing for months is at the high end of your budget and you aren't sure how to keep costs low, consider hopping in your car and driving to a nearby state that doesn't have sales tax. These states include Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Alaska.

Poke a hole in your ceiling

Instead of creating a new window—a process that can be quite costly—consider paying for the installation of a solar tube skylight. This is a tube that goes between your roof rafters and filters sunlight into any space in your house, giving you the sunlight you crave.

Stick with stock sizes

Custom renovations can get pricey. Consider asking your contractor about stock sizes for everything from windows and doors to appliances and new furniture.

Shop clearance

Few things are better than finding an awesome piece for your house in the clearance section of your neighborhood home decor shop. Spend time looking around in these kind of places, including thrift stores and other secondhand shops. You can also try eBay and Craigslist for good deals on things like appliances, art, and even furniture.

Buy the floor model

You've been checking out that beautiful fridge at the store for weeks, but can't stomach paying the high price for it. Ask the salesperson if they're willing to sell you the floor model, and also ask about discontinued products. These are items that may be difficult to sell and could be given away at deep discounts.

Know your limits

It's tempting to  try to save money through DIY projects, but recognize there is always a risk that you could do more damage than good and end up with a significantly higher project price tag.  

And if you decide to hire experts to redo that bathroom, install new hardwood floors, or build a deck, understand your financing options, including a Home Equity Line of Credit, sometimes referred to as a HELOC. With a HELOC, you borrow money using the equity in your home as collateral. The interest rates are variable—adjusting with changes made to the Prime Rate. 

Other financing options include refinancing your mortgage or using a credit card. Each comes with pros and cons, so  research them and consult your legal, tax, or financial advisor to determine what best suits your personal situation.

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