(NC)—Bathrooms and kitchens are tied (at 43 per cent) as the top home improvement projects this year, while basements are gaining in popularity, according to the 19th Annual RBC Homeownership Poll. Three-in-10 of us (33 per cent) are considering making improvements to our basements, up 20 percentage points since 2009.

“This increase may be a natural progression since many Canadians may have already completed bathroom or kitchen renovations—the projects that typically add the most value to a house,” says Richard Goyder, vice president of Personal Lending at RBC.

There are many reasons to renovate a house he points out: to update the look and value of the home, to create more space for a growing family, or for personal enjoyment.

“Whatever your reason to renovate, there are smart ways to finance the project,” Goyder explains. “Talk to a financial expert before you start, to find the right financing options for you.”

Here are three tips for financing and saving money on a home renovation project:

• Plan, plan, plan: Prepare a budget and then research the cost of materials and perhaps the services of a contractor. Track spending throughout the project, from every nail to can of paint to tool purchases or rentals. Don’t forget insurance and leave wiggle room for unforeseen delays.

• Explore financing options: Credit cards and cash may be enough for smaller projects. But if it’s a bigger project, such as finishing a basement, consider other options. For example, RBC tells us that the MyProject MasterCard is a cross between a credit card and a personal loan. Pay for renovation materials and services with the card and be interest-free for six months. After that, the card converts into a personal loan with monthly payments at a low interest rate.

• Green your home: Make the most of your renovations by improving the energy efficiency at the same time. Consider getting an energy audit, a new furnace or a new boiler, or adding insulation. These steps can help you save money in the long run.

More information is available online at www.rbcadvicecentre.com/home_ownership/renovating_your_home


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