Tips to Affordable Home Renovation

Your home is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever have. And just like any investment it is important that you take care of your house by doing the necessary repairs, regular maintenance and most of all keeping the house design up to date. By doing so, the value of your home will significantly increase. However, due to today’s economic problems, a home renovation project may not be on top of your to-do list at this time.

But what if I tell you that there are ways on how you can save a lot of money on home remodeling? Yes, you can remodel your home at a price you can afford. All you need to do is strategically plan your materials, design and timing for your home remodelling project. You will see that it is actually not so hard to cut costs without compromising the quality of the project. Here are some tips on how to remodel your home without blowing up your budget.

1. Efficiency matters, not size. Reorganizing your home, bathroom or kitchen for maximum utility doesn’t necessarily require building or creating more space. You can do this by using shelves with concealed cabinets or pullout drawers. This can be very useful especially in the kitchen, where careful planning to get additional space pays off by not needing to extend the cabinetry into the other rooms.

2. Let there be light. You can let in more natural light into your house without building additional windows and doors. Before smashing your walls for more windows or bifold doors, why not think of less expensive and less invasive ways of having more light. For example, you can make a windowless hallway brighter by installing a solar tube skylight which could be more affordable than putting up a new window.

3. Do-it-yourself demolition. If you are planning to start a home renovation project on a tight budget, you can begin by being your own demolition team. Even though knocking down a part of your home may not be as expensive as rebuilding it, you can still save a few dollars by doing some of the demolition work yourself. Just be careful and take extra precautions. Don’t forget to salvage reusable building and slightly used fixtures. If you have more time to spare, you can also try some of the finishing work yourself such as painting, sanding, installing the insulation and rubbish removal.

4. It’s all about the timing. Renovation jobs can be costly especially if you’re doing it on peak season. Contractors usually double their charges if they are highly in-demand. So, you might want to create a timetable on when to efficiently start your renovation project. This way, you will have more bargaining power with the contractor and it is likely that you will get a fair deal for your remodelling project. It is also important to get price quotes from more than one contractor.

5. Consider long-term expenses. Purchasing pre-finished materials may be costly upfront but it allows you to save cash on extensive paint or finishing jobs. For example, you can get primed and painted weatherboard, skirting, decking boards and even prefabricated wall finishes. These items usually cost more upfront but they will also help you save some valuable time and money by preventing costly paint jobs.

6. Go out and buy your own remodeling materials. Remodeling materials are normally expensive. Furthermore, there are some contractors who add a little price commission on the building materials that they buy in your behalf, thus, making the process even more expensive. This is why it would be better if you buy them yourself instead of handing over that task to the contractor to make sure that you are getting exactly what you are paying for. This also allows you to monitor every penny you shell out on your renovation project.

Buying Luxury Real Estate

Investing in real estate is often about meeting your specific needs. You want to buy a house that feels like a home, so you need to purchase real estate that is going to give you the amenities, space, and features you desire. But what really adds value to a property?

View your property purchase as an investment, not just an opportunity to get the space you need at that moment. Think long term. Is this property worth the investment in terms of overall value? What makes it stand out? There are some features that make all of the difference now, when you are buying it, and years down the road, when you are likely to resell.

Location Is Everything

You have heard the saying location is everything. It is the most important component when it comes to choosing a home. When factoring in the importance of location into your real estate purchase, consider everyone’s needs. Is it easy to get work, shopping, or school? Next, consider the more long-term factors. Are there plans to build close by, or other potential changes that could limit the desirability of your property?

Space Is Important

Does it matter how much square footage is available? It does. And, in the years to come, space in popular areas is likely to increase in value. For example, if you are buying a luxury condo in the heart of the city, you could benefit significantly from a few extra hundred square feet now, and again, later. Space is always a valuable commodity.

Workmanship Over Style

Owning a stylish home is important to any luxury real estate buyer. Aside from buying based on stylistic choices, you also need to consider what contributes to the overall value. For example, travertine floors are stylish now, but may not be in ten years. On the other hand, the quality of workmanship used to build solid cabinets will likely stand the test of time. Look for quality in the product and materials, not just the appearance.

Onsite Amenities

There are several onsite amenities that will always provide important value to your property. For example, if you are buying a luxury condo, you will likely expect to have an onsite pool, fitness club, or concierge service. These are features that are likely to remain desirable even in the long term.

The View

Today, and 10 years from now, a great view is going to add value to any property. There is no doubt the skyline will ultimately change, but a quality, panoramic view tends to remain valuable to a buyer at any time. The view plays an intricate role in the aesthetic value of a property.

Overall, buying real estate is not just about finding a dream home for you now. It is also about considering the long-term value of the property. When you find the right combination of both, then you will be ready to enjoy the investment fully.


Getting Your Home Renovation Done on Your Terms

Thinking about an upcoming home renovation?
Pop quiz. Which of these expectations would you want your contractor to meet?

  1. Your project finished with all the work you want done
  2. Your Quoted Price
  3. Your Schedule
  4. All of the above

If you are going to invest any amount of money in your home you are, of course, going to want results. Rightfully so, you should never settle for less than ”all of the above.” So the question is, ”how can you make sure you get your next project done while meeting your valid expectations?”

I am going to give you six ways that can help you protect your investment and more importantly, yourself. This way you can have a bit more control over the situation and lower the amount of emotional and financial stress you are up against. A recent survey found that over 48% of participants would not work with their last contractor again. This proves there is obviously a high probability that your service experience can go sour, so anyone in the market for a home renovation can use these tips.

How to Make Sure Everything You Want is Included

Of course, you want your project to turn out the way you envision and you need to make sure your contractor will do the work you want them to do. One way to get your home renovation off on the right foot is by creating a detailed to-do list.

To start your list, all who will play a part in any decision-making should sit down and think through the dream. List everything you want that seems feasible to include. Think about how you will use your space and try to picture what you want your space to look and feel like when it’s complete. This reminds me of habit two in Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is to begin with the end in mind. If you start by thinking of your target, you will definitely be able to aim for it throughout your renovation.

Once your list is complete, it’s time to connect your ideas with photos examples. You can create an idea folder compiling ideas which connect to your style. By cutting pictures out from magazines, searching the internet, or taking some photographs of the type of space you are looking for, you can give your contractor a good concept of what you’d like to achieve. Houzz Idea Books provide a great way to do this on your computer. This is good because you can easily just add or delete items as you develop your list of inclusions.

When meeting with prospective contractors all the information you came up with needs to be shared with them and during your meeting you need to let them know that you’d like to be provided a detailed list of all the tasks associated with the work along with a list of specifications. This is the second way you can ensure your project is done on your terms. These lists can then be cross-checked against your original list to make sure everything discussed was included. The specifications (specs.) should list all your selections including product, material, fixtures, appliances, and other items that are to be installed. Each item on this list can include a manufactures name, model or item number, dimensions, and even color specified. As long as these two documents are incorporated by reference into your contract, this will make sure that you are going to get the work you want accomplished the way you envisioned.

Get Your Normal Life Back ASAP by Staying on Schedule

Is this going to take longer than promised? We live in a world of instant gratification, fast food, and the one-hour photo. Unfortunately, construction doesn’t work that way and it can take a toll on any homeowner if not done right. Our little tip for ensuring your project gets completed within your time frame is to hire a contractor who is willing to negotiate the contract. Since the schedule is, of course, going to be a topic of discussion when you are interviewing your contractors, we suggest you take it a step further and make sure the completion date is written in black and white. The language in your agreement under the scheduling clause needs to note your contractor’s deliverables on the subject which should include:

  1. Frequency of updates to the schedule
  2. Written or computer-generated master schedul
  3. Written weekly task lists being made available, and
  4. A commitment to holding project schedule update meetings.

These items can obligate your contractor to providing you what you already expect and you can request to set the parameters for your updates, so you can be informed as often as you would like and trust me, daily verbal progress updates are not an unreasonable request. These items may take some time on your contractor’s part, but they actually increase efficiency and assist in keeping them on schedule.

Don’t Get Burned, Control Your Budget

Earlier in this article you learned how to make sure your contractor will do the work you want them to do and get everything done. That is also the first step in staying on budget because you need all the details about the work and written project specifications to obtain a fixed proposal pricing. Estimates can provide a job cost range, but with a valid fixed price (lump-sum contract) you know exactly what you are paying for upfront.

Everyone looking for a home renovation will at some point wonder if final price is going to be higher than what was quoted. This legitimate concern is backed by a recent report published by a qualified independent research firm which noted 71% of construction projects experience cost overruns. However, with the specifications and detailed task list in hand, this does NOT have to be the case on your project.

Another easy trick is to pre-shop all your selections for finish products to ensure a minimal amount unknowns. If you know the products and materials you want installed, they can be priced. This eliminates the need for allowances in your proposal which are a typical culprit of cost overruns. A cash allowance in the quote sets aside funds to portions of the work. These usually end up including installation of finishes which were not sufficiently specified during the time the quotation was prepared. A little extra time spent pre-planning can go a long way.

We hope these tips help you get your next project done on your terms.

Ways to Buying a First Home

A home is a special place; it is where we nurture relationships, make a family, retire to at the end of a long day, and find peace in. Because you are a first time home buyer, you have to be extra careful about the aspects that are involved in home buying. Here is a step-wise procedure that should be followed while buying a house. I call it the top-to-bottom procedure since we will be discussing the issue from the top, i.e. from the most important aspect, to the bottom, i.e. the least (but not lacking in importance) but comparatively less important point.

Issue 1: The most important and personal issue of all is, your budget. How much are you willing or how much can you afford to spend on buying a home? The rest that follows largely depend on this one. Here is where you have to plan the payment scheme that you can undertake for the purchase.

If taking a home loan, what is the limit that you can get on your current salary and what are the interest rates, payback schemes, and home insurance schemes? You have to visit multiple banks before choosing the one that is right for you. However, I would suggest you to do a rough inquiry and not make any paper-based deals unless you’ve dealt with other important matters first.

Issue 2: This issue covers the point regarding the location of the house from the city limits, convenience store, place of work (including your partner’s), school (if you have children), hospital, police station, and the like.

Issue 3: Now, depending on Issue 1, decide what type of home you prefer. Since this is your first home, you have to make the selection by considering the number of members in your family. Whether you want an apartment, a cottage, a bungalow, a row-house, a farmhouse, a villa, a micro-apartment, etc, will solely depend on how many people will be living in it, or if you will be occupying it alone.

Issue 4: Now, you can think about the surrounding aspects like the locality of the house. Can you deal with a bustling locality or do you prefer pin-drop silence? Remember, Issue 1 will vary a little depending on your decision, since the location can change if you’re particular about noise, pollution, privacy, and the like.

Issue 5: If any of the houses that you’ve checked out interest you, try not to disclose enthusiasm until you’ve run a background check on the builder(s) and the property where the house sits. You can sift through government records that are kept at a center, and look into additional documents regarding the deed of the land.

If you have selected an apartment and it was previously owned by someone else, inquire from neighbors or other sources about its previous inhabitants. You may also want check the adjoining/lower/upper apartments that are identical to the one you like, to get an idea of how your apartment will look once its furnished. If you opt for a house that is still under construction, you can ask the builder what type of construction methods he intends to employ ,with respect to materials used, which contractor/company is supplying the material, and the like.

If you are constructing your own house through a contractor, remember to keep a close eye on the raw materials and the mounting bills. If it is a co-operative housing accommodation, inquire about the society’s policies and services like water supply, gas, electricity, health clubs, common facilities, maintenance tax, parking, security, etc.

Issue 6: After you have covered the exterior of the house, take a good look at the interiors to make sure that it is up to the mark, and that nothing has been done unprofessionally or hurriedly.

Issue 7: Based on issue 5 and 6, once you have selected the house, do a little research on the market value of the place from local real estate agents and brokers. If the price demanded for the house is not appropriate according to you, find out about this from the builder or the person selling the house. Negotiate on logical terms and see if any alterations can be done about the financial aspects.

Issue 8: Negotiate the payment scheme with the house owner as well as the bank (in case you are getting a loan). Depending on the above issues, you must decide on your payment scheme ratio, i.e. cash:loan. If you find the loan schemes beneficial, you can bend the ratio towards the loan. Also, discuss the possession date after adhering and looking over the terms and conditions, by finalizing the deal on the appropriate government stamp paper. Consult a real estate attorney for this purpose if you aren’t familiar with how to handle the legalities of such a deal.

If you are hiring an interior decorator or landscape architect for remodeling the house, convey your requirements clearly to him and keep the whole business documented.