Maintaining Your Home

Owning a home requires a lot of responsibility. You should regularly check your home and make necessary repairs. You should perform seasonal and/or annual maintenance. Other repairs require major work and you may need to take out a loan for the project.

Home Improvements

When deciding to make home improvements, the first thing you should do is read about the project you would like completed. The following Web sites have project information.

When you are reading about the project, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Does the improvement add value to the home? Keep in mind the value of surrounding homes. The total value of your home after the improvement should be no more than 20% above the average value of homes in the area.
  • Do you have the skills to complete the project? Don’t take on projects that you can’t finish or that won’t look professional. Be honest with yourself.
  • Do you have the tools needed? Tools can be expensive, but you may be able to rent them. Consider the cost of renting or buying the tools when you make the budget for the project.
  • Do you have the time necessary? Home improvement can take a lot of time.
  • Are you going to live in the house while you make the repairs? If you’re remodeling the kitchen, you want to do it as quickly as possible so you can regain use of this room. Improvements can get messy and the mess can be tracked into other rooms.
  • Is there a class you can attend to learn more about the project? Home Depot and Lowe’s offer free classes on a variety of topics. Look at their Web sites or call your local store to get the class schedule.

Home improvement can be costly and time consuming. Be honest and realistic with yourself. Typically, you should leave projects that include extensive electrical work, plumbing, roofing and other difficult work to professionals.

Hiring a professional

  • You can save time and money because professionals are more efficient. Contractors may get discounts on supplies, which can lower the cost.
  • Be sure to check with friends and family for recommendations just like you did for REALTORS® and lenders.
  • When interviewing the professional, ask for at least three references. Find out if the other homeowners had a good experience with the professional.
  • Make sure contractors are insured and bonded and have workman’s compensation insurance so you won’t be liable if they get injured on your property.
  • Ask for firm, line-item bids from two or three contractors.
  • Get agreement in writing about budget, schedule and design. Sign a contract.
  • Ask if you need to get any permits for the work.
  • Do not make any final payments until all of the work is done.