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How to affordably finance remodeling projects

by Alexandra E. BodieMay/4/2016

It's National Home Improvement month and homeowners across the country are planning to tackle remodeling projects. However, too often the last thing that homeowners focus on is how to affordably pay for work that goes beyond a can of paint or a few swings of a hammer. Since remodeling costs can run from the hundreds of dollars easily into the thousands, it's appropriate to take time and consider the best financing and money-saving options.

Buying on credit

For do-it-yourself projects, labor isn't a relevant cost but materials are. Before pulling out a credit card, check to see if there are discounts available or cash back when purchasing items from certain stores. Does a credit card from the store that you're buying materials offer any 'same as cash' incentives such as no-interest if paid in full within a set amount of time? This may be a good option if you're disciplined enough to pay off the debt in the allotted time frame. If not, interest charges on these types of store cards could easily top 20 percent annually.

If you're considering paying for remodeling with credit, visit Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland (NHS) and receive housing counseling that could help clarify a complicated decision.

Also, for qualified homeowners, NHS and other nonprofits in the community have affordable loan and even grant products that could be tapped to pay for remodeling.

Rent the tools you need

Most people have a hammer in the house, but not everyone owns all of the tools necessary for more than a minor repair. If you'll need more tools than what's sitting under the sink or gathering dust behind boxes in a garage, consider renting them. Larger home improvement stores rent tools at a fraction of the purchase price. Why buy a tool to cut stone, ceramic tile or lumber when it could be rented for a lot less?

Moreover, there may be a tool library in your community. Often, the City of Cleveland’s community development corporations have programs in place to lend tools to residents, recognizing that especially in lower income communities, the cost of maintenance shouldn't be an obstacle to keeping a home well maintained and updated.

Another great option is borrowing a tool from a neighbor. A survey from NeighborWorks America last summer found that 86 percent of people believe that a neighbor would lend them a tool or help out in other ways.

Be sure you know how to operate the tools and take all necessary safety precautions. Many rental places and NHS offer training on the safe and proper use of many tools.

Put that tax refund back into your home

Two-thirds of taxpayers expect to receive a refund this year. According to the Internal Revenue Service, roughly one in seven taxpayers wait until the final day. Whether you've waited until the last minute or already have a refund in hand, a way to use the cash is to help pay for a remodeling project.

Even if your refund isn't near the average of just above $3,000, combining any refund received with other funds is a way to lower any interest costs that come with borrowing to pay for a home remodeling project.

So, this month, or whenever you choose to tackle a home remodeling project, keep an eye on the financial side of things. It will make living with the finished project that much sweeter if lingering costs aren't interfering with enjoying the fruits of all that labor.

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