The Internet’s Broad Home Improvement Resources

The World Wide Web, commonly referred to as the internet, is one of the best home improvement resources. For home improvement ideas, simply search over your favorite internet browser and you will find thousands of sites dedicated to improvement and renovation projects. These web pages are rich with how-to information, step-by-step do-it-yourself guides, contacts for local contractors and reviews of house improvement services.

Using online mapping sites is very ideal in finding local contractors and hardware stores in your area. Conveniently in front of your computer, you can search and browse for home improvement shops. Usually, store reviews are also presented.

In addition to store reviews, the internet also provides lots of product reviews. If you are planning to buy a new home improvement item, take the time to check the product reviews from various resources online. By doing so, you can learn about the pros and cons of certain products which have been used and tested by customers like you. Information on price, durability, power and ease of use are the common concerns covered in these product reviews.

Online quotations are often provided by home improvement websites. With these quotations, you can easily have an idea regarding the project’s price and the estimated cost of materials. Online quotes are great tools to give you a fairly accurate idea of the expenses you would have.

How-to’s and do-it-yourself guides are to be found on many online home improvement resources. The internet offers tips on everything about home renovation projects, even about the smallest and simplest task of hanging a picture frame on the wall.

There are also many web communities where you can connect with other individuals engaged in home projects. These message boards, forums and web communities are filled with helpful tips and advices. By joining one, or by simply reading the online pages of these resources, you can have your questions answered without having to pay for professional help.

Home Improvement Tips: Financing Home Repairs and Improvements

Finding funding may be a project itself, depending on the scope of your home improvement plans, For smaller projects, you may be able to save for it from your regular household budget. But for major projects, you will probably need financing. It may be possible to borrow against the cash value of your life insurance policy. Talk to your life insurance agent for information about this option.

Contact your bank, savings and loan, or credit union for information about home improvement loans. Compare interest rates, repayment options, and penalties from a few lending institutions before selecting one of the following options:

Second mortgage: A second mortgage is loan against the equity in your home, in effect, an additional mortgage. Typically, financial institutions let you borrow up to 80% of the appraised value of your home, less the balance on your original mortgage. For example, if your home is appraised at $100,000 and your current mortgage balance is $70,000, you may be able to obtain $10,000 by a second mortgage. You may also have to pay all the fees normally associated with a mortgage, including closing costs, title insurance, and any fees. Your tax advisor can tell you if the interest on a second mortgage is tax-deductible.

Refinancing: This option pays off your current loan and takes out a new mortgage on your home. Generally, you’ll need to have equity in your home, a solid credit rating, and a steady income. Again, you’ll incur all the closing costs that you’d pay on a new mortgage. Unless your remodelling project is extensive and you can get an interest rate at least two points less than you currently pay, refinancing may not be a good choice for you.

Home Equity Line of Credit: A home equity loan-like a second mortgage-lets you tap into up to about 80% percent of the appraised value of your home, minus your current mortgage balance. Since it’s set up as a line of credit, you won’t have any interest charges until you make a withdrawal, but you will pay closing costs. You can make withdrawals as needed when you start paying contractors and suppliers. The interest rate is usually variable and may be based on the outstanding balance.

Make sure you thoroughly understand the terms of the loan. For example, if your loan stipulates that you need to pay interest only for the life of the loan, you’ll have to pay back the full amount borrowed at the end of the loan period or you could lose your home. Ask your tax advisor if the interest on a home equity loan is deductible.

Unsecured Loan: Although the interest rates on unsecured loans are frequently higher and you generally won’t get a tax deduction for the interest you pay, the costs of obtaining an unsecured loan are usually lower. And the relative ease of getting this kind of loan may make it a good choice for small projects of $10,000 or less. The lender will evaluate your application based on your credit history and income.

You’ll be happier with the outcome of your home improvement project if you plan carefully and do your homework. The information in this article and a realistic idea of your needs and budget will help you make your home closer to your dream of perfection.

Making the Most of the Relationship With Your Construction Manager

Congratulations. You have decided to build your new home or major renovation. You have picked out your construction manager and you are finally ready to get started.

Building a new home or doing a major remodel is an exciting time. And the most important relationship you have during this time is with your construction manager and maybe primary contractor. Here in Panama, like most places they are usually the same firm.

If you do it right, your project will be a dream and your friendship will be a long one. But, if this relationship is strained, the venture could turn into a nightmare of never ending expense and bad feelings.

Here are 5 steps to keep a good relationship with your construction manager.

Set a Proper Budget

Your budget should be determined before anything else is done. This includes getting your initial quotes and estimates. Without knowing a budget, it is almost impossible to come up with a proper estimate. It’s possible to do a $5,000 dollar kitchen or a $50,000 dollar kitchen. Without a budget, it is impossible to proceed.

Also, when you are doing your budget, you need to allow for changes and over runs. 80% is a good benchmark. So, if you have $200,000 to allocate to your new home, your budget should be around $160,000. If you have it and don’t need it, you can use your extra 20% for furniture. But, if you need it and don’t have it, everyone’s schedule needs to go on hold while you find the extra funds.

Pre-Plan

The most important stage of any construction project is the pre-planning you do with your construction managers. A good plan will eliminate or reduce changes and problems along the way. But, not having a good plan is sure to result in cost overruns and bad feelings.

You should know everything in advance. The makes and model numbers of supplies, how they will be installed, everything. This planning will help keep everything on schedule and as expected.

Keep to the Plan

Wherever possible, try and keep with the plan. When you change anything along the way, schedules are interrupted and it is going to cost you. Probably more than the upgrade or change would have cost originally. So, if you change from a $20 door knob to a $40 door knob, it may end up costing you more than the $20 dollar difference, due to extra trips to the store, schedule changes etc.

This is a small example, but any change at this point causes a disruption, and any disruption takes time from the schedule. If possible, nothing should be changed at this point. If a change needs to be done, use a proper change order. This way all parties know exactly what is expected and what it is going to cost. It will save misunderstandings later.

Follow Up During the Process

Sometimes, no matter how well things are planned, there are misunderstandings during the construction process. Maybe you thought one thing, while the construction manager’s understanding is something different.

Regular follow ups through the construction process will ensure costs are kept to a minimum. If you wait until the project is done before telling the contractor that you wanted a different finish, it might mean ripping out some other finishing work later. And disrupting your entire schedule.

Do a Walk Through / Punch List

Finally, after the construction is completed, do a walk through with your construction manager. Waiting for 3 months to inform the construction manager that there is a problem isn’t going to help you resolve the issue. Get everything out in the open right away, so it can be dealt with.

Working with a construction manager is a process starting before your construction begins, and ending after it is complete. If things go well, the relationship could last for years.

The most important parts of the entire relationship are in the preplanning stages. So make sure that ample groundwork is done.

Make your next construction project a dream come true, and make your construction manager your best friend.