A man sitting with his dog measuring a wall.

Every homeowner wishes to change things after some time. The big question is where to start. It seems that once a small project begins, a bigger project quickly takes shape, and this can create a problem with any budget.

Preparing for a remodeling project is a lot like preparing to buy a car. You know what make and model you want, but choosing any extras can add up quickly. By taking the time to research your project, you can find creative ways to stretch the remodeling budget and end up with the home you want.

Get a Budget Together

When it comes to planning a remodeling project, homeowners must establish a realistic budget and actively manage it. Unless you have a large amount of cash on hand, you will probably need to borrow from a lender. You can do this several ways. With Rivermark, you can look into applying for a home equity line loan, a credit card or a personal loan.

Once you are approved, you’ll know what type of budget you have to work with. With any remodeling project, a good rule of thumb is to save 10%-20% of your budget to allow for extras and incidentals. Even with the most experienced contractor, any remodeling project will have a few unexpected costs.

Hire a Contractor

The importance of selecting the right contractor cannot be stressed enough. There are hundreds of contractors out there, and if you don’t research their background you very well could be hiring the wrong one.

First, ask friends and family for a referral. Chances are someone can refer you to a qualified, licensed contractor in your area.

Once you’ve chosen a contractor, make sure he is familiar with the building codes in your area. If he is not, your project may look finished, but not be up to code. Fixing the problem can be extremely expensive. A critical step to managing your budget is to ask your contractor for an itemized, detailed timeline and contract. This contract can prevent costly mistakes or additions to the scope of your project.

Plan Ahead

Once you’ve decided to remodel, dreams and wishes can overcome realistic options. You will surely save money by planning ahead. First, go through the design process and choose everything you want to include in your project, from appliances to paint and light fixtures.

Once you have chosen all of your “wants,” you’ll be able to discuss them with your contractor to see if they align with your budget. He will most likely be able to tell you the differences in wood grains, tiles, and paint which can save you money but still get the look you desire.

Choose your space wisely: 
Before you choose which part of the house to remodel, talk to a real estate agent in your area. They will be able to guide you as to which part of your home can get you the best return on your investment should you choose to refinance or sell your home in the future. For example, remodeling the living room from top to bottom will probably never be as profitable as remodeling your kitchen.

Be prepared to trim your budget if needed: 
The best way to decrease the cost of your remodeling project is by being open to less expensive products. For example, when choosing to remodel your countertops, granite is a great decision, but you can save hundreds of dollars by choosing granite tiles as opposed to a slab.

Another way you can save money is by offering to help with some of the standard labor intensive projects, like staining your cabinets. Hourly labor fees can add up quickly and putting a little of your own elbow grease into your project can save you a lot.

Start slow, and be creative: 
Sometimes there are other ways to accomplish your remodeling project before you actually hire a contractor. By being creative and utilizing existing space, you can change the look and feel of your home without moving a wall. A simple paint job can dramatically change a room, as can wallpaper.

Finding and creating more space: 
Creating more space can bust your budget if you’re not careful. However, it’s also a great way to increase the value of your home because once you add square footage to a home, the price increases significantly.

Instead of creating an entirely new space, one alternative is to borrow space from a neighboring room, also known as space reconfiguration. For example, a great place to steal space for a bathroom expansion could be from the linen closet.

Another way to borrow space is to create an optical illusion to make a small room appear larger. To transform a small bath, install a bow window or a skylight. To increase the feel of a living area, vaulted ceilings can be a nice touch.

Adding new space: 
If you find the need to expand outside the home, consult with your contractor for the best and most affordable ways to create a new space. By choosing to expand by just a couple feet, you can eliminate the need for excavation which can save you hundreds—if not thousands—of dollars.

Living in your home during the remodel: 
If you plan on remodeling a couple of areas in your home, your living situation probably won’t be too compromised. However, if you’re remodeling the entire home, you will want to save a portion of your budget for a hotel or have a temporary living arrangement in place.

Remodeling your home should be a fun project, but it can also be very expensive. Planning ahead and talking to professionals can help you get the changes you want to see within the budget you can afford.

Next steps

The equity you’ve built in your home can be used to provide much-needed flexibility that credit cards and other loans cannot. The Rivermark home loan team will work with you to find the best options available for your situation. Check out our Home Equity Loan and Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) options, stop by any branch, or give us a call at 503.626.6600 or 800.452.8502.