This program is designed to allow sorority member, family, friends and the communities we serve to be trained on three phases of Home Ownership. Information is available on any one or all three phases



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Maintaining a Home


Home maintenance and repair is a critical part of homeownership. Proper maintenance of a home:

  • Keeps the property value up.

  • Saves money, because small issues addressed during regular maintenance do not turn into bigger, more expensive issues later.

  • Helps sell a home, since potential homeowners are more likely to purchase a home that doesn't require large projects and has been well cared for.

Plan to do a comprehensive "audit" of your house annually to see what work needs to be done. Make home maintenance part of your budget – experts estimate that 1–3% of the market value of the home is the typical amount spent on maintenance annually.

Plan ahead – if you know that your hot water heater is old and probably only has a year before it needs to be replaced, start budgeting for its replacement now. Keep track of the age of appliances, the roof, decks, etc. By knowing when things are likely to need maintenance or replacement you can avoid unpleasant, and expensive, surprises.


The Home Maintenance Warning Sign


An early warning sign that there are financial challenges is when there just isn't the money for home maintenance. If several years go by without proper maintenance the house may begin to lose its market value and small fixes may turn into major repairs. This can be a warning that a homeowner is unable to afford their home.

If this happens to you, don't ignore the problem. Take an honest look at your financial picture. If you have been lagging on home maintenance because you have reallocated funds to non-necessities, now is the time to make home maintenance a priority before problems arise that are too expensive to fix. However, if home maintenance has been neglected because there just isn't enough money, you may be overextended.



Consider your options and talk to a housing counselor or credit counselor. If you find yourself in a house too expensive to care for properly, you may be able to sell it and downsize before major expenses and financial set backs limit your options.

Remodeling


Most homeowners do some type of remodeling. Remodeling projects also vary greatly from small (painting a room), and medium (updating the cabinets in your kitchen), to very large (like building a new room or finishing the basement).

Remodeling Steps


  • Set your goals. Why are you remodeling? Do you need more space or do you just want a newer kitchen? Are you hoping to increase the value of your home?

Most homeowners remodel because they want to enjoy living in the remodeled or expanded home and are not concerned about the impact on its resale value. However, if you're remodeling to increase the resale value of your home, be sure to look at the homes in your neighborhood. A remodeling project that is not consistent with other homes in the neighborhood may not increase the resale value of your home, although it may increase your own enjoyment in living there.

  • Talk to a real estate agent. They can help you determine which improvements could make your house easy to sell.

  • Decide who will do the work. Some homeowners enjoy do-it-yourself projects, while others hire contractors. You could save a lot of money doing smaller projects yourself, but be sure you know exactly what the project involves before you decide.




Benefits of Doing It Yourself

Benefits of Hiring a Contractor

Budget: Can be less expensive than hiring a contractor.

Mid-remodeling changes: You may have more flexibility.

Personal enjoyment: Many homeowners find it satisfying to work on their own.

Security: Many contractors are new businesses, may not be well qualified and may be under-capitalized or under-insured. If there are problems with the project, you may have little or no legal recourse.

Size of the project: Big projects are sometimes too complicated for a do-it-yourselfer and require a specialist.

Plumbing, electrical, and carpentry work: Can include substantial tasks and may require a contractor.

Building to code: Contractors are professionals who understand local codes. You don't want to jeopardize your safety or the safety of your home or get hit with a fine later for failing to follow local building codes.

Permits and inspections: Contractors often take care of the paperwork for you.

Time constraints: Improvements can sometimes take less time with contractors.

If you decide to hire a contractor, get references - and call them to ask what was done and whether they were happy with the work. Ask your friends and neighbors who did their work and whether or not they were happy with it. Your real estate agent and the Better Business Bureau are also good places to start your research.

Get at least three estimates from different contractors before deciding on one. Ask questions. Remember, you're hiring them for a job, so interview your contractor and make sure the contract they prepare has everything you agreed to in writing.



  • Make a budget. If you hire a contractor, he or she will work with you to develop the budget. If you're doing the project yourself, determine the materials you need and price them at several stores. Don't forget items like glue, nails, and screws. And add 10-20% for miscalculations or challenges during the project. Remember, a very detailed budget can reduce financial surprises as your project moves forward.

  • Keep a punch list. Keep a "punch list" during the remodeling project. A punch list is a list of items that still need to be addressed before the project can be considered completed. As the project is nearing completion, schedule a walk-through with your contractor and go over the items on the list. Do not make the final payment or sign off on the project until all the items on the punch list are completed to your satisfaction.

Resources


Remodeling projects that add the most value include:

  • Kitchen improvements - both major (completely re-hauled) and minor (flooring, countertops, new appliances, repainting, etc.).

  • Bathroom remodeling or adding a bathroom.

  • Building a large addition to the home - for example, an annex that includes a family room, bedroom, and full bath.

  • Adding a new room or bedroom.

  • Repainting the exterior or getting new siding.


The least returns on your investment include:

  • Roof replacement

  • Sunroom addition

  • Home office addition

  • Deck addition

  • Window replacement



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