Green Your Grilling for Guilt-Free Backyard Barbecues

Come summer, the Earth and its atmosphere gets hit hard with excess CO2 and smog. There’s the increase in air conditioning, which drives up power plant emissions and the fumes from mowers and lawn equipment are responsible for about 20 million tons of CO2 a year. Even the heat alone can cause problems. Ozone is temperature-sensitive, so when the heat skyrockets, it can trap pollution and smog.

Even America’s favorite pastime, the backyard barbecue, isn’t immune. Charcoal grills, in particular, emit quite a bit of greenhouse pollutants pound-for-pound, mainly because burning briquettes is a fairly energy-inefficient cooking technique, at least compared to gas grills or conventional ovens. Charcoal grilling burns much more fuel than necessary to get a good char on a couple of hot dogs and burgers, and the smoke from charcoal nuggets releases up to 11 pounds of carbon dioxide every time you grill. By comparison, a propane grill nets about half of that, but it’s still got a hefty carbon footprint in its own right.

Of course, that’s a lot to think about when you’re standing in front of the grill, drink in hand, ready to chow down on some juicy burgers and dogs. Luckily, there are ways to “green” your average barbecue for an outdoor shindig that’s fun and Earth-conscious. Here’s how:

Which Is Greener—Gas or Charcoal?

Many green-thinking grillers wonder which fuel source is better for the Earth. You might think that charcoal would be greener. After all, charcoal—which is essentially superheated wood—counts as a natural biofuel, whereas propane is a byproduct from natural gas refining.

But propane grills heat food a lot more efficiently than charcoal, which means they consume less fuel every time you turn them on. And there’s no waiting for the coals to burn down with a propane grill; you simply shut it off and it’s no longer emitting chemicals. Adding to charcoal’s poor environmental performance is that fact that the majority of charcoal briquettes are produced from harvested green wood. This means that the world’s forests must make the ultimate sacrifice so you can enjoy that burger.

If you’re like most Americans, though, you probably prefer the way charcoal grilling feels and tastes. So if you’re determined to stick with briquettes, you can still avoid some of the deforestation issues by choosing green charcoal made from sustainable coconut husks. However, if you’re trying to decide between propane and charcoal, you’re better off with the gas — at least environmentally-speaking!

Alternatives to Conventional Grilling

Gas and charcoal are easily the most popular choices for outdoor cooking, but they’re not the only choices. Electric grills are much safer and don’t have the carbon footprint—as long as you use a cleaner fuel to power your home, like solar or wind power. Otherwise, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory says electric grills rack up even more emissions than propane does, when you count the carbon consumed by coal-fired power plants. Electric grills, ORNL found, emit 15 pounds of CO2 per hour when powered this way.

That’s no picnic, either, unfortunately. However, solar-powered cookers and grills offer a fourth alternative. Solar cookers use advanced reflective techniques to funnel the heat of the sun into your food, thus giving it a low-and-slow burn that cooks almost anything you need to on a grill while using absolutely no fossil fuels. Keep your eyes peeled for solar-thermal grills, too, which are currently being developed at MIT, and would make nighttime solar cooking a reality.

The Meat Footprint: Greener Food Choices

Okay, the idea of green meat doesn’t exactly sound delicious, but this is one case where a little green in your burger isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While you definitely shouldn’t feel guilty about the occasional indulgence, red meat in particular has a pretty bad environmental record. Beef produces eleven times the greenhouse gasesthan other barbecue staples like pork or chicken, and it requires a great deal more water and land, too. In fact, experts say that ditching cows as a food source would do more good for the environment than giving up cars!

Choosing greener alternatives like turkey burgers, chicken, or pork ribs, or even supplementing your spread with veggie burgers or grilled vegetables, could make a huge difference here. If you must have your beef, find a local farmer who runs a well-managed grass-fed cattle operation. By shopping local, you’ll offset some of the carbon used to transport meat long distances to the grocery store. And you’ll probably get fresher food for your trouble.

All in all, it’s important to recognize that grilling makes up just a small portion of carbon emissions every year. So even if you grill the old-fashioned way, if you only do it every once in a while, you’re probably not causing too much harm. Just being aware of your options and the impact you’re having on the earth is a great step forward! So until next time, here’s to the chef!

Five Smart Buys in Smart Home Devices

Smart home technology is a common sight in homes all across the Des Moines area. In fact, in 2019, a third of all homeowners in the United States reported having some type of Smart device at home. The number is expected to jump to more than half by the end of the year! 

In our household, we added Smart cameras and garage door access last year and it has been a great experience. The technology has made our home more secure, efficient and connected to us when not home or traveling. And when it comes time to market the home, the technology is a differentiator for discerning buyers. 


A Smart Lock

This is top of the list for many buyers. Smart locks are a great addition to your home security. It’s a time saver when someone forgets a key, or you want to let a housekeeper or contractor into the house when you are not home. Secure the entire home with a click of a button. Your able set people up with their own access code as well and you’re notified anytime the lock is engaged or unlocked. 


A Smart Doorbell Camera

We’ve all seen the videos capturing porch thieves. The name brand cameras connect through an app on your phone and your home wireless. Your phone will let you know when someone comes to the door. You can speak with visitors remotely or tell the porch thief to smile for the camera! There is a small yearly fee to store the videos and you will want to store. 

A Garage Opener

Systems like MY Q from Chamberlain attach to your existing system and allow you to control your garage door through an app. Maybe you forgot to shut the garage? No problem. Opening and closing the garage door remotely is a snap! Teenage driver in the home?  It’s worth the investment!  


A Smart Learning Thermostat

Energy conservation and convenience are the plusses with a smart thermostat. The top end units learn your habits and create a schedule based on your actual usage.  You will be able to control your heating and cooling system even when you’re away from home.  Buyers like to see Smart thermostats and it gives a home a modern feel.

Five Smart Home additions! They may just be the relatively low-cost addition that will not break the bank but adds value to your home.  

6 Tips for Summer Lawn Care

Don’t you hate it when the grass is greener at your next door neighbor’s place? This summer you could have the lawn that turns everyone’s eyes green with envy and admiration, but you’ve got to get on it right now! Follow these tips to manifest the lawn of your life.


1. Inspect
Inspect your lawn and note any spots that need special attention. If you notice brown patches, you need to act quickly to identify the disease so you can treat it. If the entire lawn is somewhat flattened from winter weather, call in an aeration service. Those little holes in the lawn will last just long enough to loosen up the soil and allow better water and nutrient absorption.

2. Rake

Rake any dead spots and reseed using a variety of grass seed to match the rest of your lawn. For larger areas that may have been damaged by snow plows, for example, you can remove entire sections and replace with sod. If you notice areas where there has been a lot of soil erosion, mulch beds are a good way to shore up future runoffs.

3. Fertilize

Apply a slow-release fertilizer to feed the grass over weeks. Pick a day that’s not windy and check to make sure there’s no rain in the immediate forecast to keep the fertilizer where you want it. Dispose of any leftover fertilizer appropriately, as you would household chemicals like paint.


4. Water

Make sure to water deeply, not daily. Deep watering will encourage a healthy root system. Whether you drag the hose out in the morning or have an automatic sprinkler system, set a watering schedule. Your lawn needs an inch to an inch and a half of water a week.

5. Lawnmower Maintenace

Keep mower blades sharp and balanced for clean cuts, and change the pattern every time you mow so grass blades will stand up straight. Remember to let your grass clippings fall where they may, and remain there. “Grasscycling” returns nutrients to the soil, allowing them to fertilize the lawn.

Proper lawn care prevents the most common lawn problems from getting out of control. Keeping the grass at the right length will help keep it healthy and keep weeds at bay.


6. Rake & Weed

When autumn arrives, and the leaves begin to fall, don’t wait for large amounts to pile up. Remove leaves often, so they don’t get a chance to become wet and sticky. Blankets of wet leaves can create a fungal problem that will plague your lawn long after the last snow falls.

Set yourself up for another lovely lawn the following spring and summer by doing some weed control now, and an application of fertilizer for nutrients to feed your grass throughout the cold season.

Keep in mind, if you plan to sell your home, having a nice lawn is crucial. But the homes that show the best have more than just end-to-end grass. According to a recent survey in Turf Magazine, the landscapes that have the best value are those with “a sophisticated design with large deciduous, evergreen and annual color plants and colored hardscape.” The right shade trees will also protect your lawn and keep your house cooler this summer.

Notice summer lawn care doesn’t just cover June through September. By preparing your lawn well in advance of the summer heat, you’ll have a yard that will withstand the stress of summer and thrive through the fall.


Meredith Hale is a gardening and landscape writer, and design addict. She has coordinated the design on many house flipping projects, admitting that her favorite part is creating inspired outdoor spaces.

4 Ways to Help Make Moving with Kids Easier

The following is a guest post by Laura McHolm, Co-Founder of NorthStar Moving.

Summer is here! For families, it’s the most popular time to move to a new home because school is out. If there is any comfort in togetherness, nearly 40 million of us move in the summer. Don’t feel alone, we’re here to guide you! 

It’s no secret, no one likes to move and that includes your kids. Moving is one of the most stressful times in life, and it brings lots of change. For your kids, it means making new friends, and maybe, adjusting to a new school. If you have a little mover in tow, moving your home certainly adds to the baby adventures!

Here’s the good news, if you plan ahead and take simple steps, the trek through the moving process will become a walk in the park (well, maybe not, but it can be a manageable stroll up hill.) Way before you break out those card board boxes, use these pointers to help your kids, toddlers and babies get through the moving process.

Here are four steps to a successful move with a young family. It’s all about: timingtransition, getting the kids involved, and an adjustment period.


1. First consider the timing of your move, this is probably the most important element:

– What grades are your children in? If your eldest is about to be a senior in high school, it may be best to let them live with a trusted relative to finish up high school with their friends. If your youngest is about to enter middle school, this is an ideal time to move since they will be entering a new school either way. Is school on a break? Much better to time a move with kids when school’s out.

– Babies and kids love and need their routine. Don’t let the moving to-do list and packing get in the way of your regular daily routine. Instead of pulling an all-nighter to pack, try to pack over a long period of time. Use naptime and baby’s early bedtime to get packing done in bits. Baby & parents need their sleep!


2. Second, make the transition into the new home as easy as possible for your kids and little ones. Try these tips to make the transition a smooth one:

– Make the new home the kids’ own. Allow them to walk through the new house before the move. Let them feel that they are part of the decision. Allow them (as much as possible) to choose their own bedroom, paint colors (“Here, let’s pick the paint color for your new room: which do you choose between these two.”), and play the imagination game with them: “Let’s imagine what this room will be like when it’s yours? Where will your stuffed animals go? Where will the bed go?” etc.

– In the old house, talk about how their favorite toys, games, etc. are going to be in the new house too. This is not the time to clean out the closet and discard unwanted clothes and toys. You don’t want your kids associating loss with the move. If you need to de-clutter your kid’s room, do that way before the subject of the move comes up. De-cluttering is an excellent pre-move activity and really doesn’t have to involve the word “moving” at all.

– TALK and LISTEN to your kids. Ask them what they are excited about and what things they are going to miss. Address their concerns: “What are we going to do about that? How about…”

– During the actual moving day, when boxes and furniture are being moved, little ones should be somewhere else. Ask a trusted babysitter, friend or family member to take your kids and bundle of joy for the day. It is also ideal to use childcare for days leading up to your move so you can get more done on your moving calendar. There are greatnanny and babysitting services that help you find qualified childcare.

– Stay connected to friends, neighbors and family back home. Arrange facetime appointments with the children’s friends before you move to the new home, it will help make the transition easier when they know they can keep in touch with their old friends. And, set up a play date for the old friends to come over for a sleep over.

Involve Your Kids:

3. There is no easier way to keep kids happy than giving them a feeling of control – get them involved!

– Have them arrange their own room. Draw out a floor plan of the rooms in the new house and let the children make paper doll furniture and arrange what they want in their room.

– Encourage your kids to pack themselves so they are involved in the moving process. They can have their own boxes and suitcases that they are responsible for. Give them color codes or fun stickers to stick on their boxes that belong in their room. You can oversee this. But, give them one box to pack freely with the stuff they want, it will be the first box they open in their new room.

– Give each child a backpack to fill with overnight items so you don’t have to dig through boxes. Include their toothbrush, pjs, stuffed animal, favorite bedtime story, remember to put the children’s medications in mommy’s purse or back pack for safe keeping.

– Pack a baby bag with all of your needs for three days. If you’re moving a long distance, you may want at least one month of supplies with you rather than on the moving truck. Once you move into your new place, you may not have easy access to diapers, baby food, pacifiers and the all important security blanket, you’ll be happy that you know just where to look for those items.


4. Last, is the adjustment to the new home and neighborhood. It’s an extremely important phase of a move; it sets the stage for your new life in your new home. Here are suggestions to make the adjustment period a great one:

– When moving in, set up the nursery first. This will allow you to easily change your baby’s clothes and diapers. You’ll have a nice space for that first bedtime story when you put them to sleep on the first night in your new home. Arrange the nursery as closely as possible to your previous nursery. The familiarity will help you and your baby in the transition.

– Host a party in your new neighborhood and invite children of the same age as your own kid(s) over so that they can make new friends. It’s as easy as a pool party, pizza party, or cookout. Try to host the party the first weeks of being in your new home.

– Take them for a drive by their new school, the local ice cream place, playground, if they have a hobby such as dancing, show them that there is a dance studio here too, so they can see their new neighborhood has all the same things as the old.

– Set up a tour of the new school and to meet their new teacher before school starts.

– If you move in the beginning of the summer, sign them up for camp or other local activities where they can meet new kids before school starts. It also keeps them out of the house so you can continue the unpacking!


By taking these four points into consideration, your next chapter in your new home will start out with ease – giving every member of your family time to make the new house home. Wishing you and your family happiness in your new home!

Laura McHolm is an organizational, moving & storage expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company. NorthStar Moving Company is an award winning, “A+” rated company, which specializes in providing eco-luxury moving and storage services.


Laura McHolm is an organizational, moving & storage expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company. NorthStar Moving Company is an award winning, “A+” rated company, which specializes in providing eco-luxury moving and storage services.

6 Steps for Designing Your Garden

The following is a guest post by Francesca Singer

Spring is coming, which means it is almost prime time for gardening. Whether you are a novice gardener or an old pro, there are a few critical actions to take when you set out to design a garden. Read on for six steps for designing your garden–and get started stat!

Step 1: Location, Location, Location

Like so many things in life, with gardens, location is everything. Determine where you want your garden to be. There are a few important considerations to keep in mind. If you want a landscaped garden around your home, you will have to take into account the shadow cast by the house, drainage, and other logistical issues. If you want a vegetable and herb garden, you will need a place that receives full sunlight for most of the day but especially in the morning.

Step 2: Map it Out
These days, drawing out an aerial perspective isn’t difficult. Use some of the tools technology has given us, like Google Earth, to make an aerial image of your property or the specific part of your property where your garden will go. You don’t have to be a skilled artist to do this: you need a printer and some tracing paper. It doesn’t have to be perfect, either. You just want a visual reference of your site.

Step 3: Evaluate Your Options

Walk around your future garden site, make observations, and take notes. Note where the shadows fall during the day, which direction prevailing winds come from, and where water drains during heavy rains. Using your site drawing and some tracing paper (or multiple copies of the drawing), note these conditions on your map where they occur.

Step 4: Scale Your Drawing

This may sound difficult, but it really isn’t. The easiest way to make a scale drawing is to find the edge of a wall, measure it, and then decide on a unit to represent each foot. A good scale for design is ¼ inch to a foot. That would make a fifty-foot length just over twelve inches in your drawing. Again, it does not have to be perfect.

Step 5: Plant Selection
Finally, the fun begins! Make a list of all the plants you want, and if you’re not sure, visit a local gardening center and see what types of plants are available. There are also numerous online gardening guides to ornamental plants, or you can visit a local campus or botanical garden for inspiration. Make sure you select for species that will thrive in your hardiness zone.

Step 6: Planting Plan
Garden designers everywhere love this step: it’s the reward for all your hard work. Using your scale drawing and your notes on site conditions, create a design for planting. Have fun with colors, heights, and textures, but bear in mind which plants can tolerate shade and sun to ensure their success. Draw in your plants to the dimension they will be when mature so you can make sure they aren’t overcrowded.

And voila– you now have a solid design for a successful garden. If these six steps for designing your garden seem like a little too much work, or you aren’t sure how to put them in action, don’t hesitate to ask a landscape professional for help. It may seem like a lot of work, but that work will pay off when your garden is the envy of the neighborhood.

Francesca Singer is a former farmer & landscape architect who is passionate about organic gardening, DIY everything, and the great outdoors. When not writing, she can be found working in the garden, wrangling her toddler, or wielding power tools.

5 New Homeowner Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid (And How to Avoid Them)

The following is a guest post from Jessica Thiefels

Become a first-time homeowner is one of the most exciting and stressful times of your life, even after the closing papers have been signed and key is in hand. Suddenly, you’re faced with a whole new set of challenges: how to manage a home that’s yours, not your landlord’s. There are a lot of opportunities to learn—and as you learn, mistakes will be made.

Luckily, many new homeowner mistakes can be easily avoided with a little preparation. Don’t let the following potential mistakes damper your excitement. Instead, plan ahead and keep these tips and tricks in mind as you learn the ropes of being a homeowner.

Ignoring Routine Maintenance

You likely just did a walk-through with a licensed inspector during the homebuying process, so you’re aware of what issues need attention and which can wait. That’s not where home maintenance stops. Home maintenance includes tasks you may have never thought of before, like cleaning the gutters, power-washing the house, prepping your pipes for winter and much more.

The best way to avoid missing these critical tasks, which could lead to costly damage, is to set up a quarterly or monthly maintenance schedule for all of the areas of your home. This should include indoor and outdoor maintenance as well as details like plumbing and electrical. Use this checklist from Better Homes and Gardens as a starting point to creating one that’s specific to your home’s unique needs.

Not Budgeting for Additional Expenses

Moving can be expensive but any veteran homeowner will tell you that there’s always more to budget for—and these issues seem to pop-up out of nowhere, like a broken washer right after you need to patch a leak in the roof. Plan for the unexpected by putting away extra money for emergency house needs.

Experts at HGTV suggest putting away 1 to 3 percent of your home’s purchase price each year to develop an emergency fund. They give the example, “For example, if your home cost $300,000, set aside at least $3,000 each year. Make one large deposit or spread the amount out in monthly deposits.”

Getting Locked Out

Being a new homeowner can make you more susceptible to being locked out: you have the new keys, you run out to get something and realize that the new key isn’t on your old keyring. You walk outside with the trash, forgetting that the new door locks behind you.

This mistake can lead to another one: choosing a locksmith that’s not reputable. In your hurry to get back into the house, it’s easy to forget to do your research and listen for clues that something’s not right.

That’s why experts from Lokology Locksmith share an important tip, “Ask the locksmith for an estimate prior to their arrival. If the locksmith cannot give you a quote or a price range over the phone—that should be a red flag.” This is a simple way to test whether a company is reputable to reinforce the quick research you did.

Making Major Renovations Right Away

It’s exciting to think about how you’ll make your new home feel more like yours with renovation projects. While small changes are to be expected, major renovations should wait. Give yourself time to live in the home, see how it feels, and determine what larger renovations will look like as needs arise.

For example, you may find the location of your fridge makes it hard to move around the kitchen seamlessly. This might be a focus of your kitchen renovation that would have otherwise not been considered.

Making Major Life Changes at the Same Time

 As you can see, becoming a first-time homeowner is a lot of work. Adding to that by having a baby or getting married at the same time only increases the likelihood that you’ll make mistakes or become overly stressed. If possible, leave yourself time to get to know what it’s like to be a homeowner and avoid making costly mistakes that come with being stressed, and in-turn, overlooking simple details.

Avoid New Homeowner Mistakes

There are some mistakes you can’t avoid—but many others that you can. As you get familiar with your role as a homeowner, keep these simple mistakes in mind. If you plan ahead as best you can, you’ll be able to enjoy all the excitement of owning your first home with less stress and frustration.


Jessica Thiefels is an entrepreneur and founder and CEO of Jessica Thiefels Consulting. She’s been writing for more than 10 years and has been featured in top publications like Forbes. She also writes for Business Insider, Virgin, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @JThiefels and connect on LinkedIn.

Spotting Foundation Issues When Buying a Home

The following guest post is from Sarah Hutchinson

Buying a home is both exciting and stressful. After all, you want to find a place that suits your living needs and is in great condition. One of the biggest concerns is that the property you purchase is structurally sound, and this often starts with the foundation. Consider these tips about how to spot potential issues when viewing homes with your real estate agent.

Courtesy of Ram Jack

Watch for these warning signs
When touring homes, keep an eye out for the following signs of foundation problems. Pay extra attention if you’re looking at homes built more than a decade ago or in an area with clay soil, which is notorious for damaging foundations.

What to look for on the outside:
• Horizontal cracks in the foundation itself
• Stair-step cracking in exterior bricks
• A chimney that leans away from the house
• Gaps above windows and doors or around the garage door
• Sunken porches or stairs

What to look for on the inside:
• Cracks in the drywall
• Misaligned windows or doors that are hard to open and close
• Sloping floors or cracked tiles
• Cracks in the ceiling
• Any separation between walls and the ceiling
• Moisture in crawl spaces or the basement

What should I do if I see these warning signs?
Many buyers run for the hills when they think a home’s foundation isn’t structurally sound, but you don’t need to immediately rule out a house if you believe it has foundation problems. Take a deep breath and investigate the issues—the more you know, the better decisions you can make. Keep in mind that some situations will only require minor repairs, while others can be quite complex.

Start here to weigh the pros and cons:
• Ask the seller if they’ve had foundation repair work or an inspection done. In most cases, sellers are required by law to disclose foundation issues.
• A routine home inspection may not be enough, so have a specialized foundation company, like Ram Jack, assess the home.
• Research the potential cost of repairs to help you determine a fair price. A wealth of information is available online—search for “foundation repair cost” to get an overview of what to expect.
• Find out if the issues will affect your financing. Often, houses with unresolved foundation problems can only be purchased with cash or a special type of mortgage.

What if a home I’d like to buy has had the foundation repaired?
Many buyers would look at this as a positive, especially if the repairs were done by a reputable contractor who offers a warranty. The best foundation repair companies offer a lifetime warranty that is transferable when the home sells. Just be sure that all the proper permits were pulled at the time of the repair and that there hasn’t been any trouble since. If the foundation has been stabilized, any remaining cosmetic issues can be resolved easily and quickly.

What if I’d like to make an offer but don’t want to end up with a nightmare on my hands?
Make sure your offer is written up with contingencies that protect you if things turn out differently than expected. A contingency will make your offer dependent on specific conditions, such as inspections or repairs. Discuss your options with your real estate agent.

Should I ask the seller to fix the foundation as part of the sale?
You can ask the seller to make the repairs, but it’s common for them to reduce the price of the home and sell it “as is.” If you aren’t up for making the repairs yourself, you may need to look for a different house. Additionally, some buyers worry that if the seller is held responsible, they will choose the most affordable option, not the most thorough one.

5 Ways to Pay for a Pricey Home Remodel

Remodeling your home can be a great way to change your living space without buying a new house. Whether your overgrown starter home needs an extension or you want to add luxury upgrades to your basic bathroom, a remodel can give you the home you want using the resources you already have.

One roadblock, however, can be cost: renovating or remodeling can end up being an expensive ordeal. Before you write off your chances of renewing your living space, consider these five methods of raising cash for your project. No matter what credit profile or financial situation you have, you can find a way to afford the changes your home needs.

  1. Taking out a home equity line of credit

If you own your own home, you may be eligible for a line of credit that ties to the equity you already have in your home. HELOCs are variable-rate loans that you can borrow against over time, and the terms of your HELOC will vary due to your creditworthiness. A home equity line of credit (HELOC) works best for those who have paid off most or all of their home’s mortgage.

You can expect to borrow up to 85 percent of your home’s value, minus whatever’s left on your mortgage. Since the amount you’ve already paid toward your mortgage will be used as the collateral for your loan, a HELOC won’t be an option for those who owe more than their home is worth. Remember that with a HELOC, your home is put up as security and can be forfeited to the bank if you don’t make your payments on time.

  1. Choosing a personal home improvement loan

A personal loan comes with less risk than a HELOC, so it’s a safer way to borrow for that new tile in the kitchen or an upgraded garage door. A personal home improvement loan is generally unsecured, meaning it’s only tied to your creditworthiness. With an unsecured loan, you won’t lose your house if something goes wrong. You also have more freedom on how to use the funds from this loan, including:

  • Home repairs
  • Renovation supplies
  • Consolidating existing credit card debt

Homeowners often choose a personal loan because they don’t require collateral for approval and because they offer set monthly payments that can be paid off in a few years. With that lower risk level comes a lower loan amount: home improvement personal loans will generally be smaller than a HELOC.

  1. Borrowing from family or friends

Asking for money can be difficult, especially when you’re asking people you love. But turning to your friends and family for help funding your renovation may be worth considering. With a legally-sound contract in place for repaying the money, borrowing from your personal circle may be profitable for both parties. Your friend or family member will earn interest on the loan amount, and you will move one step closer to that dream addition.

If you have a solid relationship with someone who has expressed an interest in helping out, they may be a sound choice for financing that home remodel. For the sake of your relationship (and your financial security) make sure you create a contract that both parties are willing to honor.

  1. Finding a low-interest credit card

Credit cards can be a helpful way to finance purchasing the supplies and building materials you’ll need for your home renovation project. You may even qualify for a retail card to a home supply store, which come with cash-back rewards and big discounts on your home repair buys.

Unfortunately, not all builders and contractors take plastic, or they may charge an exorbitant processing fee. While it might be tempting to simplify your purchase with a cash advance from your favorite card, remember that this comes at a hefty price. Interest on cash advances can be 25 percent or more. If you choose a credit card cash advance, make sure you are prepared to pay the debt off quickly. Pay close attention to even the standard credit card APR as well. If you carry a balance month to month, you may end up paying high amounts of interest.

  1. Saving up your cash

This method of financing won’t cost you a cent in interest or origination fees, making it the only risk-free option on our list. If possible, saving up for a large expense is one of the most compelling financial options. 

However, depending on the reason for the renovation, you may need to act quickly.  Leaky pipes or a damaged roof can become huge problems if you let them go untreated. One other drawback to cash is inflation: the cost of building supplies can increase anywhere up to 30 percent in a given year, with new tariffs only driving up the costs. By the time you save up what you need, your project cost may have doubled.

To choose the right financing option, we recommend asking yourself the following questions:

  • How much will I need to borrow?
  • Do I want to put my home up for collateral?
  • Will borrowing money from family or friends strain those relationships?
  • Does my funding choice carry additional fees or penalties?
  • Will I need a one-time loan or an ongoing line of credit?
  • If I need additional repairs or upgrades in the future, do I have to apply for a separate loan or account?
  • Do I need to consolidate other debts or pay for additional purchases?

With the right funding, you can act quickly to turn your current home into the house of your dreams. Your renovations should also raise your home’s value, giving you more equity and even making it easier to sell your home someday.