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8 Home Renovation Tips for Homeowners

8 Home Renovation Tips
Melissa Brock
Melissa BrockUpdated March 27, 2023
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
When you’re planning a home renovation, there are a number of decisions you’ll need to make, including choosing a contractor, figuring out which renovations to tackle first, and picking the proper materials for the job. Making the right decisions at the beginning can save you money over the course of the project. The home renovation tips in this guide could help you get your dream renovation while keeping costs down. 

What Is the Average Home Renovation Cost in 2023?

Home renovations in the U.S. average $48,264, and most projects range between $17,709 and $78,971. The size of your space is one of the biggest factors in how much your remodel will cost. Per square foot, you may spend approximately $10 to $60. However, costs could be as much as  $150 per square foot if you opt for high-end materials and top of the line appliances.By following the home improvement tips below, you may be able to make your project more affordable. 

Home Renovation Tip 1: Focus on Projects That Increase Efficiency 

Rather than expanding the size of your rooms, you can make the existing space in your home work more efficiently and effectively. For instance, in your kitchen, add three drawers rather than one cabinet for items like plates, bowls, and glasses. You can store packaged foods and canned goods in these drawers as well. Add racks and dividers to existing cabinets so that you can put more items in each one.This technique can work in a bathroom, too. Adding drawers for storage can maximize space for towels, bath and shower items, and other products. Using the space you have in a better way means you don’t have to spend even more money to make it bigger.  Recommended: Guide to Creating an Accurate Home Renovation Budget

Home Renovation Tip 2: Embrace Natural Lighting 

If you have dark rooms or spaces in your house, rather than adding and installing new windows, which can be expensive, make use of the natural light you already have by using a technique called daylighting. To do it, take steps to brighten up your home. Paint the walls and ceilings light, bright colors, such as white or off white, to reflect the natural light. And use glossy paint, which is more reflective than satin. Put mirrors in your hallways and other dark areas, and consider installing glass tiles in your kitchen and bathroom. And use light tubes, also called sun tubes, to channel sunlight from inside your roof (the tubes fit between the roof rafters) down into the area you want to brighten up.In addition to saving you money on renovation costs, these methods can also save energy by reducing your dependence on lights, cutting down on your electric bill. 

Home Renovation Tip 3: Utilize Recycled Material

Another of the useful home renovation budget tips: Consider using recycled materials on your home renovation, which will be about 50% to 75% cheaper than purchasing new materials. For example, you can build a new deck using recycled materials, use reclaimed wood in sliding doors and beams, or have it made into recycled furniture. You can also save money by using recycled countertops and recycled tile in your kitchen or bathroom. Recycled building materials are more eco-friendly as well.You may be able to find recycled materials through the following resources: 
  • Craigslist
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • Planet Reuse
  • Habitat for Humanity Restore
  • Local salvage stores

Home Renovation Tip 4: Learn to Do It Yourself (DIY)

Instead of hiring professionals to do everything, you may be able to DIY some or all of a renovation project yourself to save money. However, you need to know what you’re doing,  and you need to have the time to devote to the project. Home improvement projects can be very labor- and time-intensive. Also, some renovations should be left to the professionals — namely anything involving electric or plumbing.If you’re handy, you can start small by doing a project like DIY winterizing a home. Or install a deck or a shed. These projects could teach you skills you can use for bigger projects in the future. 

Home Renovation Tip 5: Consider Long-Term Costs

Rather than focusing only on the immediate expenses of your renovation, one of the key tips for home improvement is to think about the long-term ramifications as well. For instance, high-quality materials may be better able to withstand wear and tear over the years compared to cheaper materials. They might cost a little extra now, but they could save you more in the long run. For example, you may want to spend more on good flooring and cabinetry because they tend to be more durable and last longer. They may also require less maintenance and possibly even help to increase the value of your home. 

Home Renovation Tip 6: Work With Licensed Contractors

Working to find the right contractor for home improvement is very important. Make sure to choose one that’s licensed and insured in your state, and check to see that their license and insurance is up to date.A licensed contractor knows building codes and can make sure your project is in compliance with them. They also routinely work with subcontractors, and can call in all the experts your renovation may need. Finally, licensed and insured contractors also carry liability and worker’s compensation to cover against accidents, physical injury, or property damage. 

Home Renovation Tip 7: Review the Contract

Before you sign a contract with a contractor, review it carefully. The contract should contain a detailed description of the work and all prices, list the necessary permits and approvals needed, give the start and end dates for the project, and spell out the payment schedule. The first payment you make shouldn’t be more than one-third or half of the total job cost.You and the contractor should both sign the contract. Keep a copy of the fully-executed contract in case you need it. 

Home Renovation Tip 8: Secure the Funds for Home Renovation Early 

Determine your budget at the beginning of the process so you know what your expenses will be upfront. This will likely involve meeting with your contractor to hammer out the costs. As soon as you know the amount you’ll be spending, apply for home renovation financing to get the funds you need to get the project underway. Otherwise, a delay could put your project on hold.

Ways to Fund Home Renovations

There are a number of different ways to finance home renovations. Here are a few to consider.  
  • Personal loans: You can use these loans for improving your home. With a personal loan, you borrow money from a bank, credit union, or online lender. You get the funds as a lump sum that you pay back in regular installments over time with interest. The higher your credit score, the lower the personal loan interest rates you may get. Once you’re approved for a personal loan, you may expect to receive funds quickly, typically within one to five days. 
The personal loan amount you can get ranges from about $1,000 to large personal loans into the tens of thousands of dollars. If you’re renovating a bathroom, for instance, there are $15,000 personal loans you might want to explore. You can borrow the amount that works best for you, as long as you meet the personal loan requirements.
  • Home equity line of credit (HELOC): A HELOC is a secured loan backed by your home that allows you to access the equity you have in it. A HELOC is a revolving credit loan, which means you can continue borrowing whenever you need money, up to your credit limit. After this borrowing period is over (it’s called your draw period), you repay your loan over a period of years. However, if you default on a HELOC, you could lose your home.
  • Home equity loan: This type of loan allows you to tap into the equity on your home,  like a HELOC does. However, a home equity loan gives you a lump sum of money that you repay over time instead of a revolving line of credit. But again, just like with a HELOC, if you fail to repay the loan, the lender could seize your house.
  • Cash-out refinance: With this method, you replace your current mortgage with a bigger loan that has a new interest rate. You use the extra cash to pay for your renovation. However, you will have to pay closing costs with a cash-out refinance, so do the math and make sure it’s worth it.
  • Credit cards: You could put the cost of a renovation on your credit card. You might be able to qualify for a new card with a 0% introductory APR, which means you wouldn’t owe interest until the introductory period is over. However, unless you can pay off the balance in full by that time, you’ll owe interest on the remaining amount. Credit card interest rates tend to be quite high.  Also, you’ll need a credit card with a high enough credit limit to cover the renovation cost.

Loan Tips From Lantern

Using home improvement tips could help save you money on your renovation. With a few smart strategies, you can make your space more functional and beautiful — and potentially increase the value of your home.  Picking the right method for financing the project is also key. If you’re interested in taking out a personal loan for home improvements, Lantern can help. In our marketplace, you can quickly and easily compare personal loan offers from multiple lenders all at once to choose the best rates and terms for your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Photo credit: iStock/Bulgac

About the Author

Melissa Brock

Melissa Brock

Melissa Brock is a higher education and personal finance expert with more than a decade of experience writing online content. She spent 12 years in college admission prior to switching to full-time freelance writing and editing. Her work has appeared on Yahoo Finance, Entrepreneur, Investopedia, The Balance, FinanceBuzz, The Journal of College Admission, MarketBeat, College Finance, Rocket Mortgage, LeverageRx, Benzinga, Morty, Ally, and more.
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