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5 Factors to Consider Before Starting a Home Improvement Project

When it comes to home improvement projects, most of us start with a checklist of items we’ll need to complete the project – lumber, nails, tools and paint, for example. The allure of choosing paint colors and picking out new fixtures make it easy to forget some very important steps in the project planning process. Before you pick up a hammer or head to the hardware store, consider these important factors:

1. Budget Enough Money – And Then Some.

Once your home improvement project is defined, you will need to budget enough money to cover it. In addition to calculating the cost of materials, allocate an additional 15 to 20 percent of your anticipated budget for the unexpected. How frustrating would it be to get halfway through a kitchen remodel only to find out that there’s faulty wiring that needs to be replaced? You can’t predict every roadblock that might pop up, but you can financially prepare to handle one if it does occur.

2. Know Your Options to Finance the Project.

Maybe you have a savings account just for projects like this, or room for charges on a credit card. Depending on the project, you will want to weigh the pros and cons of financing the cost versus dipping into savings. Financing options may include a home equity line of credit, a home equity loan, or a personal loan. Your credit union can help you determine the option that best fits your needs, allowing you to keep your savings intact and take advantage of a low rate offer. Visit for more information on affordable financing options.

If you’re thinking about borrowing from your retirement to finance your project, be sure to consult your financial advisor first. You will want to find out the short-term and long-term consequences of taking money from your retirement. Don’t have a financial advisor or want to learn more about Sunmark Wealth Management services? Click here.

3. Debris Removal and Disposal.

Almost any home improvement project will require the disposal or removal of materials. Cabinets, appliances or other gently used furniture may be donated to local non-profit organizations. Some resale or salvaged wood shops may even accept flooring. For other materials that are unsalvageable, you will need to check with your waste removal company to see what you’re allowed to throw out and what they’re allowed to take. If you have the means, you can haul the materials to a landfill yourself. Otherwise, research local junk removal companies and be sure to include the waste removal cost in the project budget.

4. Will Your Insurance be Affected?

For a do-it-yourself home improvement project, know the limits of your own homeowner’s liability insurance. Whether you’re working solo or receiving help from a friend, it’s important to know who and what will be covered in the event of an accident. Your project could also result in a discount on your homeowner’s insurance, or you may need to expand coverage if your square footage or home value increased. Don’t wait until the project is complete to contact your insurance agent. If the improvements suffer damage before completion, you will have to pay out of pocket. To learn more about possible discounts or coverage required resulting from your home improvement project, contact SIS Insurance at 518.783.1010 or via email at

5. Do You Need to Obtain a Permit?

For anything more than a simple paint project or replacement of fixtures, you will want to find out if your project will require a permit Check with your city or county to see if your project meets local codes and if it will require a building permit. Building permits ensure that your home meets requirements that minimize potential safety risks from fire hazards, structural failures or electrical shock. As tempting as it is to ignore this step, addressing it now can save you headaches later. If your project does require a permit, factor the cost into your overall project budget.