Planning Your Improvements

It’s project time!

All of your home is yours to care for now. We're talkin' the paint, the gutters, the lawn AND the creepy crawl spaces. Make it your mission to maintain it well and find opportunities (where you can comfortably afford) to make improvements –smart improvements! Whether you’re a total DIY-er, not at all, or somewhere in between, we can help you learn and plot a course that fits.

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Keep in mind…

What’s the best way to pay for home improvements? If you can save up and pay in cash, we recommend it. If you need to use credit, try to prioritize things likely to increase the value of your home.

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What is your equity?

Equity is the amount of ownership you have in your home. To get a quick estimate of the equity you have in your home, subtract the current balance of your mortgage from your current market value.

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Prioritize your projects

In order to get a sense of everything it takes to keep your home in top shape, create a prioritized checklist. Identify what’s to be done both inside and outside the home, and the right time of year to do it.

Using less energy can save you more

Are you a proud bargain hunter? If so, looking for rebates to make your home more energy efficient might be a fun new experience for you. Most utility companies have freely available cash incentives to upgrade every energy-using thing, from LED bulbs to solar panels. They’re often seasonal, so check your utility company website for new deals in summer and winter.

Getting a home energy audit (also often free through your utility) will leave you with a list of impactful improvements. Heating and cooling uses more energy than anything else, so installing a programmable thermostat, which raises and lowers the temp throughout the day, (no need to pay for A/C when you’re not home) is a great first project to consider.

To DIY or not to DIY...

There’s no wrong answer, it’s just about knowing yourself and making choices that work for you. A DIY approach might save you money, but do you really have the time and energy? On the other hand, you might be willing to pay for a pro, but how much more valuable would it be to learn a new skill for yourself?

That said, always hire a pro for dangerous stuff: dealing with lead paint, anything electrical, and anything on the roof. Get a few estimates and make sure the person you hire is licensed and insured.

Many home improvements require city permits. A pro will get them for you, but you can save some money if you run the errands yourself.

Create and wisely use equity

Your equity is the value of your home that you own. All yours. When you make an improvement that increases its market value, or if your property value goes up, your equity goes up. But the way to increase equity that is most reliable and always in your control is paying down your mortgage principal as quickly as you can. ‘

As you create equity, you unlock options to borrow against it. The equity is yours and you’re free to use it as you choose, but we need to offer a clear, strong, and in-your-interest recommendation: the wisest use of equity is as a down payment on another home, or for repairs or improvements for your current home.

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