With the television schedule crowded with shows like Fixer Upper and This Old House, it’s no surprise homeowners want to spruce up their living space. But it’s important to know what home improvements will increase a property’s value and which ones are best left alone.
While some home improvement projects do add value, the amount you get back on a remodel is tied to the cost of the project and what similar renovations in your neighborhood are selling for. It’s also important to consider your long term plans – if you intend to sell your house in the near future, talk to a real estate agent about specific renovations that would make your home stand out from others in the area.
Before you start any home improvement, always get multiple estimates from contractors and ask for as much detail as possible. This should include an outline of the work to be done, materials and a completion date. Don’t automatically choose the lowest bidder, and if there is a big difference between the estimates, ask for an explanation. And never pay the full cost upfront. In fact, New York state law requires that a contractor establish a payment schedule and withhold final payment until the work has been completed and all required inspections and certificates of occupancy have been secured.
Finally, be careful not to go into debt to finance your home improvement project. Even if you pay cash, it’s not a good idea to raid your emergency fund for this purpose. You should have enough saved to cover three to six months of living expenses before you take on a large project.