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Home Improvement Guide 2007
On the money
Whether it's a fresh coat of paint or a total home renovation, sooner or later it comes down to paying for it.
On the money
Finding cash for your remodeling plan
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9. Squeeze money from home improvement stores
You can often find very attractive promotions through home improvement centers, 5 percent to 10 percent off a major purchase from The Home Depot or Lowe's, or zero interest for a year on windows from Sears. "If your first purchase is for $25,000 in cabinets, that is a lot of money," says Fritschen.

Those promotions are meant to drive up sales. As long as you follow the rules to the letter, they make sense. But, just like with credit-card offers, a missed or late payment, even by a day, could set off retroactive interest rate that wipes out the benefit and more. Also like credit cards, it is often a good idea to have a refinancing method lined up before you commit to the charge. That way you arenít stuck with an expiring promotion and no way to pay it off.

10. Watch out for loans from a contractor, family member or other private party
Some contractors will "help you out" by offering to front money for repairs, but Ferrara warns that a contractor loan, as with any private-party loan, is an incredibly risky proposition. That's because commercial lenders use standard documents and would be less likely than a private lender to slip in onerous clauses. "A great rule of thumb for any paperwork is, the longer the document and the smaller the print, the closer you should look at it," he says.

If you are borrowing from family, make sure you know what you are getting into. While many families get along just fine, introduce money into the equation and you could be putting your relationships at risk. "You have to keep your mind open to a world of possibilities, but if you are using a non-traditional loan, read the fine print, and read it again," Ferrara says. "It may even make sense to have a lawyer scan over the paperwork if you are getting the loan from someone other than a lender."

-- Posted: April 4, 2007
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