Remodeling: Keeping it Affordable

In the current tough-as-nails housing market, there’s no question that remodeling your home can add some much needed resale value to your home. While taking out a loan and hiring a licensed contractor to do a major remodel will yield great results, many of us just can’t afford the cost. Luckily, there are many simple things you can do to drastically change the look of a room in your house while not spending a lot of money.

Before we begin with the specifics, let’s get into some general concepts.

Remodeling: Keeping it Affordable
1) Concentrate on one room or one series of rooms (kitchen or bathrooms come to mind) instead of tackling the whole house.

2) Second, if you’re remodeling on a budget it’s best to pay cash for everything and not take out a loan.

3) Keep a very close eye on your budget. Lists and spreadsheets are your friend. Plan it out ahead of time.

4) Warm colors are in right now—they’ll bring a positive, relaxing energy to your home. Fifth, start small but look at the big picture. This will make more sense as we go through some specific ideas.


That little plate around your light switch or electrical outlet is often ignored, but let’s face it- these often off-white or cream-colored pieces of plastic often accumulate a staggering amount of dirt and grime over the years. Swapping them out with new switchplates (in warm colors) will highlight all the work you’ve done to a room. They’re cheap and they make a big difference.


Faucet knobs, cabinet hardware and door handles are easily replaced. Since we touch them so much, they often show signs of wear and tear faster than many other items in our homes. Sticking with the warm color scheme, bronze or a convincing faux-bronze are great options for sprucing up a room.


This is perhaps the cheapest way to make a big change in a room. For a kitchen or bathroom, try using a high gloss paint that won’t absorb spills or splatters. If you’re on an extremely tight budget, remember that you can change the whole tone of the room with just one accent wall painted in a different color.


Old, raggedy curtains are an eyesore. Old floral curtains that have been in a home for decades can also bog a living space down. There are many inexpensive curtain options available, and almost any set of curtains that looks bright and clean will drastically improve the look of a room.


Just as faucets get an overwhelming amount of traffic from our hands, rugs are abused by dirty shoes and what we track in from the outside world. Kitchen and bathroom rugs are battered by water, both dirty and clean, and a multitude of soaps and cleaning products. Look closely at the rug in the room you’re remodeling, and if it needs a change, swap it out. A new rug can really tie a room together.


Even if you’re not replacing the entire cabinet system, this can add up quickly. If it’s in your budget, swap out cabinet doors with freshly varnished or painted replacements. If you’re on a slimmer budget that does not allow new cabinet doors, just replace the handles and hardware. A little new metal goes a long way.


This is perhaps the cheapest thing you can do to improve the look of a room. Remove the clutter from bookcases, countertops and other surfaces. If a surface looks wide open then it looks more inviting. Less clutter gives a room a new, cared-for feel. No one is saying you need to get rid of your knick knacks or your salt and pepper shakers—just put them somewhere out of sight.

Utilizing any combination of these ideas should provide a cheap, easy way to breathe new life into a room without relying on loans or a contractor. If you plan the remodel out ahead of time, keep a tight budget and look at the big picture while you change small things, you’ll be living in a brand new space in no time at all.

About the author : Tim Richmond is a passionate blogger who writes about the economy, finance and home ownership. He is an online publisher for 1st Tribal lending.
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An Idiot’s Guide to IR35

An Idiot’s Guide to IR35
Have you ever found yourself feeling slightly dazed and confused about IR35 legislation? If so, you’re not alone! The IR35 is a difficult topic to get to grips with for many contractors and entrepreneurs, so it’s about time we put together a straightforward, no-nonsense idiot’s guide to this piece of legislation, to allow you to stay out of financial difficulty.

The legislation was introduced back in 2000 in early April. At the time, the UK ir35 rules launched by the government were intended to stop individuals from leaving their jobs on Friday before coming back to the office the following Monday in the role of a contracted ‘consultant’, thereby enjoying tax relief benefits while still receiving the standard employee benefits. This sort of ‘disguised employment’ was a massive problem in the 1990s, and the IR35 was meant to render the widespread issue redundant in the workplace.

Unfortunately, things didn’t exactly go to plan!

Since the introduction of the IR35, numerous sole traders and limited companies have found themselves falling unwittingly foul of the legislation, perhaps as a result of their business practices not closely matching those of contractors in the same industry, or perhaps as a result of failing to produce accurate documentation of their business practices for an official HMRC investigation.

Let’s take a look at the aspects HMRC may investigate in order to check whether or not you fall outside IR35:

Financial Risk: It is a rare occurrence for permanent employees to put their finances at serious risk. It therefore makes sense that, In order to be outside IR35, you need to prove that you’re at financial risk. Let’s say, for example, that a client fails to pay you on time. As a contractor, this places you at financial risk and this is something you need to prove.

Company Benefits: All contractors falling outside IR35 will not be entitled to company benefits such as holiday pay, pension contributions, sick pay, or training courses.

Control: Are you in control of your daily work schedule? Can you clearly demonstrate this? You’ll need to be able to if HMRC start prying.

Company equipment: The company equipment debate is a bit of a grey area, as some clients do not allow personal laptops to be used due to security fears. It is, however, something to keep in mind.

Performing Your Task: The IR35 rules state that there should be a clause in your contract that disallows any other person from performing the role you’ve been hired to perform by any given company.

Dismissal period: If you have a set notice period in certain industries, HMRC might consider this asking to the rules that apply to a permanent employee. As such, many contractors have immediate terminations written into their contracts. This might seem like a bit of a negative point, but think positively; this could turn out well for you if the company hiring you turns out not to be the best to work for!

It is worth remembering that there are significant advantages to keeping within IR35 as a contractor. For example, you will be able to enjoy tax relief by claiming business expenses, with the aim being to help develop your business for the future while improving the services you have to offer potential clients.

One thing to bear in mind, though: you need to keep receipts as evidence of all the expenses incurred during your work contract. HMRC are within their rights to ask to see all records dating back as far back as the last six years, so don’t be too quick to throw those flimsy bits of paper in the bin!

Claiming expenses if you own a limited company is quite a straightforward process. Any expenses claimed must be for your business, which can cover aspects such as travel costs, overnight accommodation, meals consumed away from your place of work, pensions, and training courses.

Meanwhile, if your contract falls within IR35, bear in mind that the only expenses you can claim are admin costs, fixed at 5% of your contract income, travel and accommodation expenses, pension contributions.

Being a full time employee brings with it its own benefits, but contracting through your own limited company or setting up as a sole trader can also bring with it some serious advantages. The IR35 rules may well be open to interpretation due to a couple of grey areas, but a good contractor accountancy will be able to clarify any confusion for you. Some accountants will even offer a verbal review free of charge in order to encourage you to call back with other issues and requests for services.
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