Home improvement projects—whether you hire a pro or DIY—do cost a pretty penny, so most of us have to take out some sort of loan to pay for them. You've probably received "you've been approved for a personal loan!" letters in the mail or have been told you can refinance your mortgage and take money out for whatever you want. As with other major financial decisions, however, it's really worth the time to understand your different choices so you don't screw yourself in the long run. Let's take a look.
Doing a cash-out refinance means it will take you longer to pay off your home, but it also gives you access to the lowest possible borrowing rates to pay for home improvements. Lenders typically require homeowners to retain some equity after the cash-out refinance, commonly 20%, so you’ll need to have plenty of equity if you want to pursue this option. You’ll also need to be employed, have a good credit score and meet all the usual requirements to get a mortgage. (For more, see When (And When Not) to Refinance Your Mortgage)
1 Your loan terms, including APR, may differ based on loan purpose, amount, term length, and your credit profile. Rate is quoted with AutoPay discount. AutoPay discount is only available prior to loan funding. Rates without AutoPay are 0.50% higher. Subject to credit approval. Conditions and limitations apply. Advertised rates and terms are subject to change without notice.
Disclaimer: Views expressed may not necessarily reflect those of Citizens Bank. The information contained herein is for informational purposes only as a service to the public, and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel, nor does it constitute advertising or a solicitation. You should do your own research and/or contact your own legal or tax advisor for assistance with questions you may have on the information contained herein.
Homeowners with limited equity can get an FHA Title I loan for improvements that make a home more livable and useful, including accessibility improvements and energy conservation improvements. These loans can’t be used for luxury items such as swimming pools or outdoor fireplaces, however. Loans for less than $7,500 are usually unsecured; the most a homeowner can borrow is $25,000 for 20 years to improve a single-family home. The lender determines the interest rate. You’ll need to find an FHA-approved Title I lender to get this type of loan. As with any loan, you’ll need good credit and a demonstrated ability to repay the loan. 
What’s more, sometimes making a necessary change to a house to keep it livable makes more sense than moving, even if you have to borrow. And some people just won’t want to wait to make upgrades; they’ll prefer to borrow now for that nice kitchen and pay off the project over time. Whatever the reason, if you’re going to borrow money for home improvements, you should know what your options are and which ones might be best for your situation.
Since these projects may involve some demolition and plumbing, you may want to consider a contractor. It is important to obtain several quotes that include the following: project start and completion dates, a guarantee to clean up debris, a warranty on the work, and a payment plan. Then, compare quotes to make sure you get a competitive price without sacrificing quality. Once you've found a contractor you want to work with, check out Citizens Bank's competitive home improvement loan rates to make these major projects a reality.
HELOCs have two phases. During the draw period, you use the line of credit all you want, and your minimum payment may cover just the interest due. But eventually (usually after 10 years), the HELOC draw period ends, and your loan enters the repayment phase. At this point, you can no longer draw funds and the loan becomes fully amortized for its remaining years.

Almost all credit lines have variable interest rates, and if the rate is raised, it can be applied to your existing balance — something credit card companies are not allowed to do. So be sure to check the lender’s offer to see how often, and by how much, it can raise your rate. If you’re not careful, a once-affordable loan balance could become hard to repay.
I cover the money side of home-related purchases and improvements: avoiding scams, making sense of warranties and insurance, finding the best financing, and getting the most value for your dollar. For CR, I've also written about digital payments, credit and debit, taxes, supermarkets, financial planners, airlines, retirement and estate planning, shopping for electronics and hearing aids—even how to throw a knockout wedding on a shoestring. I am never bored. Find me on Twitter: @TobieStanger
Cash is usually preferable to accumulating more debt. However, with the average major kitchen remodel costing $54,909 and a bathroom remodel averaging $16,128, it could take decades before you've saved enough to do your projects and actually enjoy the results. For small projects, however, if you're able to save enough in cash, this is probably the best way to go.
However, a cash-out refinance can be costly in the long run. In addition to possibly high closing costs, you'll pay a higher APR than if you simply refinanced without getting cash out. Also, you'll owe more on your mortgage again, which is not fun at all. If you're 10 years into your 30-year fixed mortgage and refinance into a bigger 30-year loan, the clock restarts. Instead of 20 years left to pay, payments are now stretched over 30 years.
One advantage of these loans is that borrowers can get them very quickly—within a few days or even the same day—less time than it typically takes for a bank to approve a home-equity-based loan or line of credit, says Steve Allocca, LendingClub's president. What's more, you're not putting your home at risk when you borrow this way because it's not used as collateral against the loan. 
Home equity loans are a second mortgage on your home. They're usually a fixed interest rate for the life of the loan, and you get the money in one lump sum. Terms vary, but many home equity loans have you pay back the principle and interest within 15 years with monthly payment plans. This might be the best option if you need a set amount of money for something important and have enough room in your budget to make the payments, of course.
Some of that affordability is negated, though, by Prosper’s loan origination fee. This lender charges a fee based on your credit profile, which could cost you anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars depending on your credit score and how much you need to borrow. Other lenders offer lower interest rates and don’t charge loan origination fees, so make sure you weigh all the factors if you decide to go with Prosper for your loan.
Since these projects may involve some demolition and plumbing, you may want to consider a contractor. It is important to obtain several quotes that include the following: project start and completion dates, a guarantee to clean up debris, a warranty on the work, and a payment plan. Then, compare quotes to make sure you get a competitive price without sacrificing quality. Once you've found a contractor you want to work with, check out Citizens Bank's competitive home improvement loan rates to make these major projects a reality.

Refinancing costs: Because you’re getting a brand new home loan, closing costs can make refinancing expensive. Also, you’re extending the life of your loan, so the new monthly payments will mostly go toward interest payments instead of reducing your loan balance. But, if you have sufficient funds on hand, you can always pay extra and eliminate your debt early.
"For those borrowers who do not have equity in their homes for a traditional home equity or second mortgage loan, borrowers can usually access some form of unsecured home improvement loan or revolving credit," says Ron Haynie, senior vice president of mortgage finance policy for the Independent Community Bankers of America, which represents the interests of the community banking industry. "Most banks will make an unsecured home improvement loan."
To possibly have the quickest impact on your home's resale value, replace overgrown bushes with low, uncluttered plantings. In the backyard, add a simple patio made of pavers, a fire pit or a fountain fashioned out of rocks or pottery. Choose evergreen, perennial plants as the primary elements in your garden. These are low maintenance, and in the winter your home will show better with full bushes instead of twigs. On the other hand, if you live in a warm climate, build an outdoor living space with gravel, pavers, umbrellas and plush patio furniture.
Thinking about building a new pool, putting solar panels on the roof, or remodeling the kitchen or bath? When you have good credit, our national online lending division, LightStream, offers unsecured, fixed-rate loans from $5,000 to $100,000. You'll have the cash in your account to pay the contractor when you're ready—as soon as the same day you apply2. Enhance your home and your home's value.
If you’re planning to refinance, a remodeling loan may make it more difficult. When you refinance, the lender holding your home improvement loan must agree to "resubordinate" the loan, or “agree to sign off and say they’ll stay second in line,” McBride said. While this is often a formality, he said, if you are in default on your home improvement loan, “the lender may use it as leverage.”
Think carefully before you embark on this type of refinance, though: You’ll be using your home as collateral for a bigger loan, and you’ll be financing short-term costs with long-term debt, which adds interest and other fees to the price of the renovations. In most cases, a cash-out refinance is appropriate only if you’re improving your home in ways that will increase its value.
The advent of online lending portals has made it easy for borrowers without collateral to get an unsecured personal loan from both national and local lenders. The rates for this type of debt are significantly higher than for home equity debt; on Bankrate, average APRs for personal loans range from a low of 10.3 percent for someone with excellent credit—a FICO cedit score of 720 and higher—to 32 percent for someone with poor credit.
Great tips. At the onset of explaining various causes of a squeak, Tom Silva says it can be alignment, either of the door-to-hinge, or hinge-to-hinge. Hmm, seems to me those two scenarios different than the case in the vid, that being singular hinge with the barrels out of alignment. So, the vid shows a great solution to fixing out of alignment barrels, but what about fixing doors with hinges out of alignment from each other, or hinges out of alighment on the door? How do you make that determinations, and what is the solution? thx
Refinancing costs: Because you’re getting a brand new home loan, closing costs can make refinancing expensive. Also, you’re extending the life of your loan, so the new monthly payments will mostly go toward interest payments instead of reducing your loan balance. But, if you have sufficient funds on hand, you can always pay extra and eliminate your debt early.
Energy-efficient mortgages (EEMs). Suppose your home's R-value is the envy of your block. An EEM from Fannie Mae or elsewhere could boost your debt-to-income ratio by up to 2 percent. Utility bills are lower in energy-efficient homes, so the homeowner can afford a bigger loan. EEMs have been used for new construction; lenders are now pushing them for existing homes. An EEM requires a determination that your house meets Fannie Mae's stringent energy-efficiency standards.
The interest rate will also depend on the borrower’s credit score, the loan term and the amount borrowed. For example, SunTrust Bank offers home improvement loans for $5,000 to $9,999 with terms of 24 to 36 months and interest rates of 6.79% to 12.79% (rates include an autopay discount of 0.50%), while a loan of $50,000 to $100,000 for the same amount of time comes with an interest rate of 4.79% to 10.29%. 
A “home improvement loan” is usually an unsecured personal loan that is used to pay for home repairs and improvements. An unsecured loan does not require you to put up an asset, such as your house, as collateral. Home improvement loans can range from $1,000 to $100,000, with interest rates from 5.99 percent to around 36 percent if your credit is bad. Personal loans have a fixed interest rate and a fixed monthly payment and are available at traditional banks, credit unions, online lenders and peer-to-peer lenders.
Home-equity lines of credit. These mortgages work kind of like credit cards: Lenders give you a ceiling to which you can borrow; then they charge interest on only the amount used. You can draw funds when you need them — a plus if your project spans many months. Some programs have a minimum withdrawal, while others have checkbook or credit-card access with no minimum. There are no closing costs. Interest rates are adjustable, with most tied to the prime rate. Most programs require repayment after 8 to 10 years. Banks, credit unions, brokerage houses, and finance companies all market these loans aggressively. Credit lines, fees, and interest rates vary widely, so shop carefully. Watch out for lenders that suck you in with a low initial rate, then jack it up. Find out how high the rate rises and how it's figured. And be sure to compare the total annual percentage rate (APR) and the closing costs separately. This differs from other mortgages, where costs, such as appraisal, origination, and title fees, are figured into a bottom-line APR for comparison.
If you tend to have trouble getting out of debt, keeping your finances organized or meeting deadlines, this isn’t a good option for you. Borrowers who are disciplined, detail oriented and spend within their means could find this to be the least expensive option. However, it may not be possible to borrow as much with a credit card as you could with a home equity loan or cash out refinance, depending on how much equity you have and how good your credit is.

Many people turn to home improvement loans even though saving up and paying cash for home improvements is often the least expensive option. After all, when you pay cash, you don’t have to pay interest. However, sometimes home improvements come in the form of emergency repairs, and paying interest on a loan is less costly than saving up to pay cash while your roof leaks for months and causes mold, rot and damaged ceilings that will cost even more to repair later.

The catch is that to keep the 0% rate, you will likely be required to make minimum monthly payments on time every month, even during the 0% introductory period. You need a clear plan for repaying the full amount you borrow before the introductory period ends, or else you will have to pay interest on the remaining balance, usually at a much higher rate.


Home improvement loans are unsecured, meaning they’re approved based on the borrower’s credit history and income and do not require collateral. They are offered by online lenders, banks, or credit unions and work similarly to personal loans. Once approved, you’ll receive funding through direct deposit or paper check, and then be able to pay for your building supplies and contractors.
×