Some improvement projects pay off better than others


Maybe you’ve watched one too many home improvement shows. Perhaps you’re still stinging from that holiday guest’s comment about how your kitchen countertop has seen better days. Or maybe you’re just really tired of the same old, same old every day.

Whatever the reason, the remodeling itch has settled into your brain. But before you bring in a contractor—or pick up a hammer—you should consider two important questions: How will you fund your project? And will it be worth it in the end?

A little research and credit self-assessment can answer both questions. In addition to pulling your credit report to see how likely you are to qualify for good loan terms, you should consider the potential resale value of the improvement, how it will improve your life and if it will enhance your enjoyment of your home.

Fortunately, it’s not difficult to evaluate the potential resale value. Kitchen and bathroom remodels, adding a deck, or finishing a basement or attic are all popular renovations because they upgrade the most-used rooms in the house or add living space.

In terms of resale value, here are some popular projects with high paybacks, according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2009-10 Cost vs. Value Report:

• Adding an attic bedroom, 83.1 percent.

• Adding a wooden deck, 80.6 percent.

• Minor kitchen remodel, 78.3 percent.

• Major kitchen remodel, 72.1 percent

• Basement remodel, 75.4 percent

• Bathroom remodel, 71 percent

Keep in mind that smaller remodels, while costing less than major jobs, can still have a major impact on how your home looks and feels.

For example, simply replacing that old front door with a steel version can cost around $1,000 but offers a return on investment of nearly 129 percent, according to the report.

Another factor to consider when weighing the value of any remodeling project is how it will affect your quality of life in terms of financial security. It’s important to be sure the cost of the project won’t be a financial burden that detracts from your enjoyment of the results.

To help understand your current credit status and how it might affect your remodeling loan terms, obtain a copy of your credit report. Websites like CreditReport.com can provide you with a credit report with your paid monitoring membership.

Obtaining your credit report and monitoring your credit can help you identify any inaccuracies or errors that might lead to higher interest rates, and also catch and resolve potential fraud quickly.

You’ll also find tips on the website for understanding your credit, and tools such as a credit score tracker to help you anticipate how certain financial decisions—like financing a remodel—might affect your credit.

Remodeling projects will likely remain popular as homeowners continue to stay put in a still-sluggish real estate market, experts agree.

With some careful planning, budgeting, research and credit insight, you can ensure you reap the most financial and personal value for whatever renovation you decide to undertake.


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