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    It’s a good time to improve the house. We’re staying home more than usual, we’re probably a little bored, and improving our homes can sometimes mean more in sales profits later on down the line.

    But upgrading your home isn’t always simple. Even with a how-to guide or a helpful expert YouTube video, there’s a lot of room for error — and those errors could cost you (in aesthetics or serious cash).

    Are you planning some home improvements this summer?

    Here are the dos and don’ts you need to know to get them right:

    Do: Clear it with your HOA first.

    If you have a homeowner’s association (HOA) that oversees your community, then there are probably a lot of rules in place for how your home can look and what sort of changes you can make to it. Certain projects may even need to be cleared with the HOA board before you can dive in. (If you don’t, you likely risk a hefty fine.)

    Don’t: Forget your permits.

    Similarly, your city may also require approval before certain projects — usually larger ones or ones on the front exterior of your home (like building a front porch or installing a new door).

    Check with your city’s building department to make sure you’re in compliance or you could have trouble selling the home later on (it may not pass inspection). 

    Do: Leave wiggle room in your budget.

    Pricing out your project and having an all-in budget is important, but make sure you’re not committing every single dollar upfront. DIY projects always come with some unexpected expenses, so always leave a little buffer in your budget. Have a home improvement budget of $1,000? Don’t spend more than $800 on supplies. That leaves you a nice safety net in case something comes up.

    Don’t: Forget to account for long-term costs.

    Make sure you’re thinking beyond the here and now. If you’re planting a garden, are you prepared for the time and money it will take to maintain it? When you’re budgeting, account for both the upfront costs of your upgrade, as well as those you’ll incur over the long haul.

    Do: Choose your projects carefully.

    Not all home improvement projects are created equal. Some offer considerably more return on your investment when it comes to reselling your house. Others are just more work (and more money) than they’re worth. Make sure you do your research and study up on ROIs before picking your projects.

    You also might consider talking with a local real estate agent to see if the upgrade is in line with what are homebuyers are looking for. Over-improving the property might actually make it harder to sell later on.

    Don’t: Take on too much.

    It can be tempting to totally overhaul your home, but unless you’re able to leave the house entirely, that can mean serious hassle and headache (not to mention a higher chance of error).

    You’re better off picking one or two projects to focus on, completing those thoroughly, and then moving onto another once you’re done. 

    Do: Stay in your comfort zone.

    It’s OK to DIY some of your home improvements, but if a project is pretty far outside your skillset and experience, then proceed with caution — even with clear-cut instructions on hand.

    If you’re taking on a project that’s particularly large or complicated, or one that requires specialized skills in carpentry, plumbing, or electricity, it’s probably best left to a professional.

    Don’t: Take unnecessary risks with contractors.

    Given the current health climate, it’s important to be careful when bringing outsiders into your home. If you do have a project that requires a contractor (or team of them), make sure to take precautions.

    Ask them to wear a mask and gloves when they enter your home, stay at least six feet away when they’re on the property, and wipe down any shared surfaces once they leave.

    Do: Keep a record of everything.

    Make sure to keep your receipts, contractor quotes, measurements, and more. You might need these later on if something’s wrong with the materials or workmanship, and you will also want details on hand when it comes time to sell (you’ll need to include any upgrades on your seller’s disclosure). 

    Don’t: Scrimp on safety.

    Home improvement can be dangerous — especially if you have kids or pets around. Always take the proper safety precautions before, during, and after your projects.

    Set up a gate around the renovation area, keep tools unplugged and out of reach from little ones, and make sure you have proper ventilation anywhere you’re painting, priming, or using chemicals.

    Need home improvement funds?

    If you’re thinking of upgrading your home this summer, get in touch. A cash-out refinance may be able to help cover the costs of your renovations, as well as any other expenses you’re dealing with.

    Contact an Embrace Home Loans mortgage specialist today to discuss your options.

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