Layman’s Guide to Home Improvement in Westchester County

Home Improvement in Westchester County_Dibico

The thought of a home improvement project can be stressful and intimidating, even to a veteran homeowner. Budgeting, logistical planning, and finding the right contractor can quickly become overwhelming, which can tarnish the excitement of updating your home. With the right planning and research, however, you can achieve the best results for your home improvement project.

Every county has its own guidelines for home improvement contractors, including licenses and permits. To make sure you find the best and safest service provider for your project, use the tips we’ve included in this Layman’s Guide to Home Improvement in Westchester County.

1. Plan thoroughly

Every successful project starts with a detailed plan. Start with deciding which part of your home you want to improve. Next, budget. Your budget will dictate the size and scope of your project, so decide on an amount you can afford and stick to it. Depending on the size and location of your renovations, your home may not be safe to live in during construction, so be sure to have food and lodging arranged. Above all, plan for the inevitable bumps and time extensions that may arise so that you are prepared for anything.

2. Choose a dependable contractor

Choose a Dependable Contractor_DibicoYour project’s success and your satisfaction depend on the contractor you choose. Once you have your project planned, carefully research the contractors in the area. Westchester County requires all home improvement contractors to gain a license through the county, so check online to ensure your service provider has a valid, current license. You should also make sure that your contractor doesn’t have any outstanding liens or judgments, which is a sign that you may experience difficulties in your business relationship and project. To help protect you from the worst offenders, Westchester County offers a list of “renegade renovators” who should be avoided.

Once you have verified their licensing, be sure to ask about prior projects, renovation methods, and overall experience. You can also ask for estimates from each of the contractors you are considering. Price is important, but remember, your choice should depend more on experience and expertise if you want your project to be a success.

3. Know your options

Homeowners planning for home improvement in Westchester County may qualify for a local home improvement program. These programs are designed to improve energy efficiency, support first-time homeowners, and rehabilitate the community by helping fund home improvement projects. Home improvement programs available to residents of Westchester County include the following:

NYSERDA Loans

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority offers two loan options for residents who want to improve energy efficiency and renewable energy. Residents who meet low income requirements or cannot qualify for traditional funding may qualify for lower interest rates.

Hudson Valley Home Ownership and Revitalization 

Homeowners who qualify for this program can receive up to $25,000 to purchase and improve a home. At least $12,750 of this amount must go to renovating or repairing the home. This includes correcting structural defects, extending the home’s useful life, or repairing basic systems that affect the homeowner’s health and safety. Applicants must meet income requirements.

Home Ownership Program

First-time homeowners may qualify for this program, which offers up to $25,000 to assist in the purchase of a house, cooperative, or condo. At least $1,000 of the awarded amount must be used to improve the housing standards. This program offers this assistance as a deferred forgivable loan with recapture provisions.

Yonkers Home Improvement Loan Program

This program offers low-interest loans to qualifying homeowners in the City of Yonkers. Participants can receive up to $25,000 for a single-unit home and up to $15,000 each for three additional units. These funds must be used to correct a housing issue that threatens the health, safety, or lives of residents.

White Plains Neighborhood Housing Rehabilitation Program

To help preserve and improve communities throughout White Plains, the city offers loans at below-market rates. These funds can be used to repair and improve homes, though priority is given to repairs that can protect and preserve lives and safety. Homeowners who apply must meet income qualifications.

4. Work with your contractor

Work with your contractor_DibicoYou may lack the skills and resources needed to complete your home improvements, but that doesn’t mean you should be hands-off during the project. Instead, work closely with your contractor to make sure he understands your vision and you understand the process. Check in for regular updates and never hesitate to ask your questions. The best home improvement contractors are those who take the time and attention to give you the home of your dreams.

A list will help you stick to your plan and therefore, budget