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If you've been thinking about home remodeling, you've probably found plenty of inspiration from magazines and online. Now it's time to plan your project. Write up a wish list and prioritize it from the "must haves" to the "it would be nice to haves." The more specific your project description, the more accurate the cost estimates remodelers will provide.

If you expect to finance your home addition or remodeling project, get prequalified for the amount you can borrow at a mortgage lender, bank or credit union. A home-equity line of credit (HELOC) is well suited to remodeling because you can withdraw funds as the project progresses. Including your first mortgage and the HELOC, you can typically borrow up to 75% or 80% of your home's appraised market value. You'll pay a variable rate -- recently an average of 5.2% - on the outstanding balance.

If you can't get a HELOC large enough to fund your home remodeling project, try a construction loan. In that case, you refinance your first mortgage to an amount equal to the future value of your home, based on an appraisal of its current market value and your project's plans and specifications. Most such loans allow a loan-to-value ratio of 95% or more.

Ask for the names of contractors from friends and neighbors whose projects you have admired. Search for remodelers online. For more information on home additions contact Manzola Carpentry.

Chicago Tribune

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