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Are you thinking about renovating your house into the forever home of your dreams? If you're ready to make the changes you've been eyeing for years, but don't know where to begin, don't sweat it. Billy Snelson, a life-long home remodeler, has five great tips for renovating your home that will give you the comforts you crave without crushing your wallet.

Tip #1: Prioritize Changes that Enhance Day-to-day Living

"Know how you live in your home and look to renovations that add to the lifestyle you love," says Snelson.

Perhaps you'd enjoy a larger kitchen to entertain guests and start your cooking club. Or maybe you want to convert that unused bedroom into a spa-quality bathroom. Lifestyle renovations can include anything from cosmetic upgrades to accessibility accommodations such as walk-in showers. When making a list of must-haves for your nest, make sure to include the changes that will allow you to live life to the fullest.

Tip #2: Consider Renovation Phases Versus "All at Once"

No matter what kind of renovation you make, there's going to be a certain level of inconvenience — an unusable room (or rooms), limited access, and contractors coming and going during the day.

"When you renovate a home all at once, you have greater inconvenience for a shorter period of time," says Snelson. "You might have to move out of your home, which means renting a short-term place to stay or bunking with relatives."

If the disruption to your lifestyle outweighs the benefit of having your dream home completed all at once, you may want to consider renovating in phases. By doing this, you get to stay in your home and manage your budget a little more. There's a lot of value and convenience in renovating one bathroom and leaving another one for daily use. However, by renovating multiple bathrooms at the same time, you may be able to take advantage of quantity pricing. You should also consider the benefits of a contingency budget to account for additional, unforeseen renovation costs.

Tip #3: Know Which Renovations to Prioritize

When possible, try to prioritize and reduce the number of emotional choices you make — these choices can cost you more in the renovation process.

For example, Snelson had his heart set on walnut cabinets for his most recent home renovation. He recognized that they cost more, but it was a non-negotiable for him. If you love the idea of a specific item but not the accompanying hefty price tag, speak to your contractor about what budget-friendly alternatives are out there. For Snelson, choosing wood veneer cabinets maintained the look he wanted at a more affordable cost.

It might also be wise to consider renovations that provide the highest return on investment. According to HGTV, that includes minor bathroom and kitchen renovations, landscaping, and the addition of a deck or patio.

Tip #4: Get It in Writing

When you decide to renovate your home, make sure you get multiple bids, references, and everything in writing.

"A good quote or contract will include line items for materials and labor separately," says Snelson. "If I don't see those items broken out, I'm going to be skeptical." Seek out referrals for contractors from people you know in addition to looking at online reviews from sites such as Houzz and Angie's List. It's comforting to know that the person you'll likely be giving a key to your home has already delivered in a trustworthy fashion for a close friend or family member.

Tip #5: Understand All of Your Financing Options

Whether you're buying, refinancing, or improving, KeyBank can offer a home lending solution that is perfect for you. Keep in mind that spring is the most popular time of year for home buying and renovations thanks to the warmer weather. When it comes to financing these renovations, be sure that you have a solid understanding of your options. Consider scheduling an appointment with an expert that can help find the perfect match for you and your situation.

  • Home Equity Line of Credit: This comes with a variable rate with the ability to lock in fixed-rate options to avoid rising interest rates. In some cases, you can borrow up to 100 percent of your home's equity so you can withdraw money whenever you need it, pay it off, and use it again. However, keep in mind that you'll have to pay interest on whatever you withdraw.
  • Home Equity Loan: This is a fixed-rate loan with a set principal and interest amounts that make it easy to fit the payments into your budget.
  • Home Improvement Loan: If equity isn't an option for you, or you don't want to tap into it, this is a loan that doesn't require any collateral.
  • Refinance Your Current Mortgage: By lowering your monthly mortgage payment, you can use those additional funds to finance the renovations you'd like to make. Options to refinance into a lower monthly payment include securing a better interest rate, changing to a fixed or adjustable rate, and/or restructuring the repayment period of your loan.
  • Cash-Out Refinance: This allows you to convert equity in your home into cash by creating a new mortgage for a larger amount than the original. If you currently have a mortgage, you will receive the difference between your new and existing mortgage in cash at closing. If you don’t have an existing mortgage, you will establish a new mortgage secured by your home equity and receive the proceeds in cash.

Rate and closing costs may vary by product and each has varying levels of complexity based on factors unique to you (how much is still owed on the home, assessed value, and so on). Be sure to consult with a banker or trusted mortgage loan officer for more information.

Now, as you make your dream list of renovations for your future home, you have five smart tips to get the most for your money and for as little inconvenience possible.

This information and recommendations contained herein is compiled from sources deemed reliable, but is not represented to be accurate or complete. In providing this information, neither KeyBank nor its affiliates are acting as your agent or is offering any tax, accounting, or legal advice.

By selecting any external link on, you will leave the KeyBank website and jump to an unaffiliated third-party website that may offer a different privacy policy and level of security. The third party is responsible for website content and system availability. KeyBank does not offer, endorse, recommend or guarantee any product or service available on that entity's website.

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