If you've ever had to live in a home a while with only half of your remodeling project completed, I feel your pain. Planning ahead for overages when you're budgeting can spare you the headache of working your life around open walls or unfinished woodwork. Sometimes it's just a matter of neglecting to deal with the little things up-front that drag your renovation to a blinding halt.
First things first: How much can you afford?
As you're preparing a remodeling budget, learn as much as possible about your personal Debt-to-Income ratio. Even if your credit rating is strong, you can't afford to borrow more for home remodeling than your existing financial health is projected into the future.
Beware the desire to over-reach financially
You can't count on the economy to dramatically improve right now. If your home is the black sheep in the neighborhood, spending extravagantly on improvements to make it competitive for sale may be the final leap into fiscal madness. Can you really afford to upgrade all your appliances? Are you thinking of adding a room when some real estate experts claim that smaller square footage is likely to attract home-buyers right now?
How much to you need to dress up your home?
Do you need a new set of kitchen cabinets, or can you get by with a less-expensive refacing project using veneer or thermofoil? You can even boost resale margins with kitchen cabinet refacing. You could put down throw rugs, choosing to refinish the floor later. Dress up your kitchen with fresh paint and inexpensive, attractive backsplashes.
Will your upgrades bring a return in value?
Leaky windows and doors can be replaced without completely disrupting your home. If you're tightening up your thermal envelope against rising energy costs, why not choose energy efficient replacement windows that appeal to cost-conscious buyers? Renovating successfully means taking the long view while tackling more-immediate problems.
Tracking your expenditures
Waiting for a final, soul-crushing bill is a poor strategy. Budget by affordable phases that allow you to pay as you go, completing each remodeling section before embarking on a new one. You won't be living amidst sawdust and exposed conduit that way.
The best advice for remodeling during shifting economic tides is to plan wisely and spend realistically.