If you have planned a renovation with a mock budget and know what the end total looks like, a good first step is to evaluate whether it's feasible to fund with cash. Creating this budget will not only help you pinpoint your expenses, but if you end up going with a loan, it will be an integral step in showing lenders that you’re prepared for the renovations.
HELOCs come with a draw period and repayment period. During the draw period, which often lasts about 10 years, you can spend the money in your credit line. Your monthly payments would cover mostly the interest and a little bit of the principal on any outstanding balance. During the repayment period, which typically lasts around 15 years, your monthly payments would probably be higher because they’d include more principal.
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. 
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Home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) are popular ways to pay for home improvements because they have long repayment periods, which means the monthly payments are low. They also have low interest rates, as they’re secured by your home, and the interest is tax deductible if you itemize. But there is a small risk of losing your home when you take out this type of loan, because if you default, the lender can foreclose. Also, you take 20 to 30 years to repay your home equity loan or HELOC; it can actually cost you more in interest than a shorter-term loan with a higher interest rate, such as a traditional home improvement loan or a personal loan.

Whether you want to give your kitchen a fresh look, build the deck you’ve wanted, or want to make a few bigger home repairs, one of the decisions you’ll face is how to pay for your home improvement. Sure, you could use your credit cards or maybe take advantage of in-store financing, but one of the most convenient ways to pay for larger projects is with a home improvement loan.
To qualify for a home remodeling loan, you will need a good credit score and enough monthly income to comfortably pay for all of your debts, including the monthly loan payment. While qualifying for remodeling loans isn’t as difficult as qualifying for a mortgage, “lenders will be very diligent about verifying debt ratios,” McBride said. So, be prepared to supply a lot of paperwork to prove your financial standing.
To determine the loan amount, lenders use the loan-to-value ratio (LTV), which is a percentage of the appraisal value of your home. The usual limit is 80 percent—or $100,000 for a $125,000 home (.805125,000). Lenders subtract the mortgage balance from that amount to arrive at the maximum you can borrow. Assuming your balance is $60,000, the largest loan that you can obtain is $40,000 ($100,000-$60,000=$40,000). If you have a good credit rating, a lender might base your loan on more than 80 percent of the LTV; if you don't, you might get only 65 to 70 percent. While many lenders go to 100 percent of the LTV, interest rates and fees soar at these higher ratios.
Interest rates: While the shorter timeline will help, personal loans often come with higher interest rates than home loans, so you’ll need to evaluate your options carefully. If you have great credit and sufficient income to repay, you might expect a rate well below 10%. Credit cards are also a form of personal loan. Rates on credit cards range from 0% promotions to more than 20% APR for borrowers with bad credit.
As with other lenders, your interest rate will be based on your credit score, how much you want to borrow and your repayment period. Because these loans have relatively short repayment periods of three to five years, you’ll get out of debt quickly and won’t be paying interest for years. And you may be able to get a peer-to-peer loan even though you have less-than-stellar credit, though you can expect to pay a high interest rate if you’re approved.
Only you can decide if your home improvement or repair is worth it to you. Some homeowners place a higher personal value on enjoying their living space while they occupy the home; for some, it is important to recover a greater percentage of renovation costs when they sell the home. Remember, a number of factors may determine whether you recover some or all of your expenses.
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.

If you have equity in your home and are planning on projects costing $50,000 or more, the best loans to tap will probably be tied to your property. HELOCs, home equity loans, and cash out refinances offer the best rates (30-year fixed mortgage rates are among the lowest we've seen in decades, at 4.06% . A 15-year fixed home loan is currently 3.12%, according to WSJ.) Also, you might be able to deduct the interest on these loans and any points you pay to reduce the interest rate on your taxes (check with a tax advisor, though).
Interest rates: While the shorter timeline will help, personal loans often come with higher interest rates than home loans, so you’ll need to evaluate your options carefully. If you have great credit and sufficient income to repay, you might expect a rate well below 10%. Credit cards are also a form of personal loan. Rates on credit cards range from 0% promotions to more than 20% APR for borrowers with bad credit.
The biggest problem or obstacle to getting home improvement projects done? Contractors. Many people research DIY solutions but do so not to perform the work themselves but to have some knowledge when hiring someone else to do it for them.Where are the articles on the realities of dealing with contractors, not the glossed over 1,2,3... steps which are hardly helpful in the experiences of so many?Perhaps TOH can shine a bit of light of what no one really wants to talk about on the side of sites selling ads, displaying links to Home advisor and those types of hyped up services?Maybe TOH could spend a little bit of time advocating better service providers than displaying their ads everywhere?Most people know the usuals, the defined scope, the quotes and so on. How many contractors can easily pass a reference check and then the home owner discovers the work is shoddy, the communication practically non-existent and the contractors think it's their project? It's the homeowners project.
B and C loans. What if you have less than A credit or don't fit the usual employment or income mold? B and C loans are a fallback. While many banks offer them, so do credit unions, brokerage houses, and finance companies. You'll also find lenders that push B and C loans for debt consolidation with enticing introductory rates. Beware, though: Total interest and fees tend to be high because of the lenders' added risk. And since B and C loans lack consistent requirements and terms, comparing them is difficult.
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.
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.

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.
There are many ways to pay for home improvements, from traditional home improvement loans to personal loans to home equity lines of credit to government programs to credit cards. Regardless of which type of loan you’re considering and what type of lender you want to work with, shopping around will help you make sure that you’re getting the best rate and terms on your home improvement loan. If you apply with several lenders within a short period, the impact on your credit score will be minimal. (For more, see The 5 Biggest Factors That Affect Your Credit, An Introduction to the FHA 203(k) Loan and Applying for an FHA 203(k) Loan.)
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