real estate

5 handy ways to save on home rehab

Less is the new more
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Less is the new more

Gone are the days of lavish renovation projects like adding a second story, with budgets bigger than your average McMansion. Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies found that remodeling expenditures more than doubled from 1995 to 2007, reaching $326 billion. However, they declined by 16 percent by the end of 2008, and the NAHB's Remodeling Market Index slipped in the second quarter of 2010.

With conditions weak, homeowners who have considerably less home equity to finance improvements are bucking for a bargain and prizing the practical, says Scott Duncan, owner of Duncan's Creative Kitchens in Bradenton, Fla. "The one major trend I am seeing is 'budget-conscious,'" he says. "Everyone is weighing the benefits versus the costs of any upgrade they consider. Practicality is reigning supreme."

Your best bet is to focus on thrifty upgrades that will make you glad you're home. For example, a whirlpool bath you'll never use is money down the drain. Opt instead for a handheld shower head with multiple settings. Top-of-the-line luxury can be had for a few hundred dollars.




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