Home improvement project: removing old asphalt roof

Spring and summer are often the time to roll out those power tools and work on the home improvement projects you have been waiting to do. Some homeowners are just now realizing their house needs work either before the next time cold weather hits or before they can sell their house.

The trouble is, which projects are worth it to do yourself and what ones are absolutely best done by a professional? In addition, if you need professional help, how can you finance it?

Here are practical tips to help you decide if you should do that home improvement project or to hire a professional.

Doing It Yourself

There are a few big questions to answer before you know whether a certain project is worth doing yourself. Before you get into a big one, make sure you have really done your research. Otherwise, you may end up paying double for a contractor to get you out of your DIY predicament.

Do You Have the Time and Energy to Invest in This Project?

I’m not just talking about the energy required to do the work, but also the energy required to live with the constant state of a mess as you navigate through your job, your family life, and the unfinished work and state of mess that inevitably comes with a DIY job.

While things like finishing a basement, landscaping, or even painting your home’s exterior yourself might be worth the hassle of the workaround, replacing all your kitchen cabinets and countertops yourself might not be worth it in the loss of your kitchen for weeks or months.

Is it Safe for a Novice?

Even experienced DIYers know better than to take on something that could be dangerous or cause expensive problems if done incorrectly. Things like electrical, plumbing, and removing walls are best left to the experts.

Do You Truly Have the Skills to Do it Right?

Many of the projects on DIY shows aren’t as easy as the professionals make them look. Installing tile is often touted as a DIY project. However, it can be tricky and costly to get wrong. Do your research, take a class, and practice before you commit.

How to Finance a Home Remodel

There is good news if you need home improvement and know you can’t tackle it yourself. There are many ways to finance home improvements.

Personal Loans

According to an article in US News, there are some personal loans available for as low as $1,000. Although they do have the drawback of short repayment times, they do not affect your home equity.

Home Equity Loans

A home equity loan is basically a smaller second mortgage for a fixed amount of money that is secured by your home. They typically have fixed interest rates that never change, so the monthly payment will be the same.

These loans have higher interest rates than mortgage rates, but they are much lower than a typical credit card. They also come in larger amounts - usually about 85% of the value of your home minus what you still owe on your current mortgage. You can also get a tax deduction under certain conditions.

The disadvantages of a home equity loan are that you use your home’s equity, so it doesn’t exist anymore or isn’t as high. There is a risk of foreclosure if you fail to pay the loan since the collateral is your home’s equity. Also, this isn’t a good product to use for short-term expense since you could end up paying more than if you had used a different loan product.

Contractor Financing

If you need a new roof, for instance, most companies offer financing to get you into the new roof you need right now and offer 100% financing. In fact, most contractors offer project financing that doesn’t affect your home equity, is easy to sign up for on the spot, and doesn’t tie up your personal credit card balances in case of emergency.

This option can often give you the ability to have a nicer renovation than you had anticipated and cover the total cost. However, keep in mind that it is a loan and a contractor is interested in selling you a higher-priced product by showing you a low monthly price you feel you can afford. Make sure to do your homework beforehand.

Best Home Improvement Projects for Return on Investment

Lifehacker.com lists the top three money-saving home improvements you can do. These are worth checking out even if they aren’t cosmetic. Not only are they worth the money, but they are, in some cases, very inexpensive.

  • Seal up all drafty areas - windows, doors, etc.
  • Update your old energy-wasting appliances
  • Clean your gutters and check for structural problems.

Conclusion

The best thing you can do to make a decision about home improvements and how best to get them done is to do your research, both on how long it actually takes to DIY a project AND how much it actually costs to finance.