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Kauai Real Estate > Home Improvement

Sweat Equity Home Improvement Tips

Supplying your own elbow grease to a home improvement job is a worthy effort to save you money and boost the bottom line of value returned to your home.

Botch the job, of course, and the opposite will be true. The cash you hoped to save could get sucked into a money pit you create by insisting you can do what you can't.

Before you undertake any do-it-yourself home improvement project, it's best to first know thy self, be aware of your limitations and recognize when it's time to throw in the towel and call in the pros.

Experts suggest you first start small and steer clear of your home's major components -- bearing walls, foundations, roofs, and major electrical, mechanical or plumbing work.

Money Management International, a nonprofit credit-counseling and financial education agency, says if you decide to do-it-your self, recognize the two hats you'll wear as both a contractor and general manager.

Beginning with a detailed spending plan that allows for incidentals such as equipment rentals and delivery charges, you'll need permits, a full array of tools necessary for the job and a lot of insight.

To gain that insight, Money Management offers the following suggestions:

• Get real. If the goal is to increase your home's value, get input from a professional with local real estate market expertise. A $50,000 master bath upgrade doesn't mean your home's value will increase by $50,000. Even with quality work, the direction of the housing market, floor plans of other homes in the neighborhood and the materials and designs you use, among just a few variables, can affect how much of a value boost your home gets for the money and sweat you put into it.

• Get a clue. "Do-it-yourself" doesn't necessarily mean you have to hammer in every nail and fasten down every bolt. Some projects will require skills that are over your head or labor intensive. Hire a professional you can work with. Enlist the skills of friends, neighbors and relatives.

• Get set to stop. Home improvement projects can snowball into massive renovation jobs. Whenever possible, start and stop each project within well defined parameters. At the end of each project re-evaluate your budget and the time necessary for the next project. Build through the winter holidays and your family will serve you up as the turkey.

• Get the best. Build with quality equipment, materials and workmanship. Skimping up front means skimping on the boost-in-value end.

• Get your homework done. Research local building and zoning codes, secure all necessary permits before you start and go to the local home improvement store for some strategic advice about performing the job. Be sure to bone up on the specific components involved in your project.

• Get options. Instead of installing a new floor, paint and change the lighting. Rather than expand the bathroom, add new fixtures and a brighter decor scheme. Small efforts for less money can often produce big changes. Many low-cost energy efficient home improvements, for example, come with cash-back opportunities in the form of lower utility bills, rebates and tax breaks.

• Get the "deferred" out of maintenance. Taking good care of your home can help you avoid costly repairs down the road. For example, changing your heating and cooling system or appliances air filter regularly will improve the quality of your air and improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling systems. Keeping your gutters and downspouts clear of debris will prolong their lives.

"Remembering that your project may be a 'want' and not a 'need' can help you to enjoy your home sweet remodeled home," said Cate Williams, vice president of financial literacy with Money Management.
 

 

 

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