If you were offered $100,000, no strings attached, what home improvements would you do? Chances are, a long laundry list of changes come to mind, from refinishing the hardwood floors to adding a new bathroom. Some home improvements, however, are more likely to increase your home's value than others. Although you shouldn't think of your home as an investment, with limited home improvement funds, it's good to consider whether a project has a decent return on investment.
Unfortunately, most home improvements do not pay for themselves. If you can't afford to finance the project in full with cash, know the different ways you can finance your home improvement without putting your home at risk. Also, if you know the difference between tax breaks you get for home repairs or home improvements, you can make the proper deductions at tax time and get some money back from your project. Similarly, if you're paying private mortgage insurance, home improvements that increase the value of your home could help you eliminate that cost, which, although it doesn't raise funds for your project, can reduce your housing expenses overall.
You’re right that there should definitely be some kind of ventilation in a bathroom to prevent moisture build-up. My husband and I are remodeling our bathroom and removing the window that is attached to one wall (it’s just so awkward having one there) and installing a vent to replace it is definitely something we’ll want to look into. I’m not sure if we already have an inlet valve, but our toilet can be rather noisy, so we’ll have to talk to the contractor about that, as well.
Take the time to chat with friends, family, and neighbors about the renovation work they have done, and the challenges they have faced during the process. Having a wealth of information from homeowners who have been in your shoes can be invaluable in the planning process, and this information may alter your end plan. Check out our 17 Smarter Renovation and Home Improvement Tips to get started.

We all want a bathroom that would be a reflection of our personal style and be able to deliver the comfort we need at the same time. However, aside from that, it’s also important that it has the right fixtures and amenities that are capable of providing function and value as well. Fortunately, through careful planning and choosing the right design, you can have it all.  Here are some of the best tips that could turn your bathroom remodeling dream into reality.
"A remodeling project is going to affect every room in the house," says A. J. Paron-Wildes, general manager of DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. "The homeowners need to take down pictures, move vases, and pack away valuables before work begins." While you're at it, take steps to protect your immovable fixtures, including built-in cabinets and chandeliers. Have flooring covered with cardboard sheets if it needs to stay in good condition.
Dear Debbie: Tipping isn’t the standard in the home services trades, as it is in the restaurant and personal grooming trades. Still, it’s a question many homeowners wrestle with. To help answer it, Angie’s List recently polled nearly 5,000 home service professionals across the nation to find out if they expect a tip and if so, what they tend to collect.
If you have a concern about poor quality work or materials, you must provide written notice to the contractors or suppliers before any legal action may be filed. The contractors and suppliers have an opportunity to respond to the claims, including the right to inspect and test alleged defects. You have the right to accept or reject settlement offers – in full or in part – via written notice.
Before starting all the mess of a remodel, it’s a good plan to designate a renovation-free zone for your family to gather in semi-relaxation. Make sure you have everything you need in one place, such as a kettle or microwave, so you have one functional space to gather, eat or just unwind at the end of the day. For more relaxation ideas, check out our 8 Projects for Backyard Fun.
Any good contractor will have no problem providing references, and copies of liability insurance before a job begins. Don’t rely solely on client testimonials, search out actual customers that can give you a firsthand account and answer any questions you may have. For any project, ask to see before and after images of a contractor’s prior work, and most importantly—trust your gut and know which questions to ask.
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