When Life Hands You Lemons…
I don’t want to get too topical here. These articles are intended as easy-to-understand financial explanations, how-to guides, and references for anything related to your personal or small business finances. We’re timely, but not meant to be tied specifically to the news of the day.
So, rather than address anything specific, let’s just assume that – for whatever reason – you’re home with a little time on your hands these days (like me).
Probably a mix of keeping up with current events and catching up on your favorite streaming series and clearing off the DVR. Still, it doesn’t take long before you’re bored out of your mind.
I’m the same way. I enjoy a few days, but after that, I get restless. Sure, I can hide out in the basement and play Fallout 4 AGAIN. But what I’ve learned to do to avoid malaise or outright frustration is to take advantage of the time to finally get to those tasks – small and large – which I’ve been putting off until I “have the time.”
Which now, of course, I do.
So, I clean the kitchen, FOR REAL this time. Or finally, replace that nasty trim upstairs. Maybe organize my computer files and music and back it all up the property on two separate drives. I pull out those clothes that I keep pretending will fit me again someday but probably never will. And take them to Goodwill or the Salvation Army or whatever.
Anytime is a great time to start!
Get the Loan to Repair Your Deck
Not everything worth doing is a single morning’s job, of course. You may be looking at something a bit more substantial. Something which might require materials, the right tools, and maybe a few YouTube videos to guide you through the tricky parts. If it’s a major undertaking, you might even be talking about a home repair loan of some sort. And that’s OK.
For most of us, our homes are the single most valuable item we’ll ever own and our greatest source of wealth. The importance of your home goes far beyond it’s officially assessed dollar value, of course, but it’s also a major investment which is either losing or gaining monetary value each and every day. It’s probably your largest source of equity should you ever need cash for a major purchase or security for a loan. How you care for your home affects what it’s like to live there, for you and everyone else in your care. It also shapes what your home is worth should you ever choose to sell it or borrow against it. And, whether we like to think about it or not, how well you take care of YOUR home impacts the value of everyone else’s home around you. That’s just how things work in our world.
There are all sorts of projects you may be comfortable tackling in and around your home. One of the most common for do-it-yourself-ers (or at least do-it-with-the-laptop-nearby types) is maintaining or repairing your deck. It’s one of the most visible, obvious parts of your home, and it’s subject so more abuse than almost any other single feature. Running, eating, playing, working, hot summers, freezing winters, rain, wind, and who-knows-what-else – there’s simply no rest for your poor outside deck.
So, Mr. Productive – what can you do?
What Are The Advantages To A Home Improvement Loan To Repair Your Deck?
If your home requires major renovation or repairs, there are some loans for repair needs. A home equity loan might be appropriate. And cash-out refinancing can be used for just about anything. Both, however, are tied to your mortgage. Both use your home and the equity you’ve built up in it over the years as collateral. Yes, this helps keep your interest rate low, but drawing on that equity also means more paperwork and additional upfront fees. If you need $50,000 or more to do whatever you’re trying to do, one of those structures may be the best way to do. If you need that much to repair your deck, however…
Well, let’s just say your deck is clearly a bit nicer than mine.
A more appropriate loan to repair your deck might be a basic home improvement loan. While these can certainly be for large amounts, many lenders will let you take out much smaller home improvement loans as well. It may be that your deck needs some serious work, and that you’ll be hiring a local company you’ve researched online and that the family down the street used and was happy with the results. For our purposes, let’s say they’ve given you an estimate in nice round numbers – $2,000 parts and labor. That’s not an amount worth refinancing your home over. It’s also not a price point which should require your home as security.
Should You Take Out A Loan To Repair Your Deck?
Maybe. It’s certainly an option. Or, rather, it’s several options.
A loan to repair your deck is in many ways similar to any other loan to fix up house elements or features, and like any other sort of home repair loan, there are several possibilities for what this might look like.
A home equity loan may be an option if you’re looking at a major repair and you expect the costs to be substantial. This sort of loan allows you to use the “paid for” portion of your home as security for the money you borrow. Using your equity as collateral in this way dramatically lowers the risk to the lender, meaning lower interest rates and higher borrowing limits for you.
Home Equity Loans
Home equity loans are usually for fairly large amounts taken out in order to pay for major expenses – including home renovation and repair. So, yes – this is a valid option for a loan to repair your deck, assuming the repair is a major one. That said, home equity loans can technically be used for anything you like. Be aware, however, that failure to make your payments on time, every time, can lead to the loss of your home. That’s not something you shoud take on lightly!
Cash-out Refinancing as Option
Cash-out refinancing is another option. As the name implies, this is a complete refinancing of your current mortgage – as if you were buying the house for the first time. The difference between this and the first time is that you now have equity in your home. It’s presumably worth more than you own on it. Some of that equity can be taken out in cash and repayment rolled into your new mortgage payments on the same terms as the rest of your refinancing. This sort of loan can be a powerful financial tool. But as with a home equity loan, you want to proceed cautiously. Your home is literally on the line if you are for any reason unable to keep up with your payments at any point during the life of the loan.
I’ll be honest, though – I’m not sure I’d go with either a home equity loan OR do cash-out refinancing for deck repair. I think I’d seriously consider just a basic personal loan like a small home improvement loan.
How Does A Loan To Repair Your Deck Actually Work?
This sort of home repair loan is a standard personal loan for home repairs. While lenders may ask the purpose of the loan, they’re far more interested in your credit score and recent credit history. The reason for this is that you are not using your home as security for the loan. Instead, it’s all about your credit and your good name.
On the one hand, this can be tricky if you don’t have good or excellent credit. You may pay a higher interest rate than you would on a secured loan. But – and this is a BIG BUT – you’re not risking your home if something goes wrong and you’re unable to make your payments on time at some point during the life of the loan.
We still don’t want that to happen, of course. Every loan is an opportunity to strengthen and build your credit through regular payments. But a small home repair loan to improve your deck most likely comes with a fixed interest rate and predictable monthly installments you can easily budget for. That means a chance to repair your credit while you repair your deck. In the end, you have a better credit score and a much nicer deck – and that means increased value for your home as well.
Why Not Pay for Repairs From My Savings?
If you can do that and still leave yourself with a nice cushion in your emergency fund, that’s not a bad idea. What we want to avoid, however, is draining our savings for things we could be paying for in other ways. Your deck and the overall value of your home is important, but that doesn’t mean this is an emergency.
If the repair IS an emergency, things may be a bit more urgent. If circumstances allow, however, I’d still suggest looking at a loan to repair your deck before you drain your savings. You never know when something far more critical might come up, and while we can’t be prepared for everything, a few thousand dollars set aside can make a huge difference in many different situations!
Why Not Just Use A Credit Card?
If the cost is going to be within the range of whatever limit you currently have available on your credit card, using plastic is certainly an option.
As with your savings, however, credit cards are a flexible tool for a variety of situations, and it’s nice to keep them “in reserve” for unexpected situations or emergencies.
If you’re the type to pay your balance in full every month and haven’t anted up for a dime in credit card interest since Woodstock, then by all means – whip that baby out in lieu of a loan to repair your deck. If you’re like most of us, however, and carry a balance each month which you keep hoping you’ll be able to pay down a bit more quickly than usually happens, this is probably not the way to go. Interest rates on credit cards tend to be higher than what you can probably secure for a home improvement loan. And those “minimum payments” due on your cards are designed to keep you paying interest indefinitely while making only the tiniest dent in your balance.
Credit cards can be a powerful financial tool. But they can just as easily bind us up and smack us around.
Before you do anything, inspect the deck carefully – all the way around, top and bottom. Look for structural problems – rot, splinters, missing fasteners, or just normal wear and fading. Pay particular attention to the ledger (the part of the framing that attaches the deck to the house). Many forms of wear and tear are primarily cosmetic – they matter for the look, comfort, and value of your home, but they’re not dangerous.
Your deck pulling away from the house is a bit more serious – especially if you’re on it enjoying a small get-together when it happens.
If your deck isn’t actually damaged or dangerous, improvement might be as simple as a good cleaning. What this involves depends on the materials used to build it. But generally, supplies are as simple as a putty knife (to remove debris), a broom, a hose, and a commercial cleaner from your favorite home improvement store.
Don’t forget to cover your plant life before you bust out the chemicals – just in case.
If your deck is wood, it’s usually a good idea to apply fresh sealers and stains annually. I know, I know – but just because you didn’t get to it last year (or the year before, or the year before that) doesn’t mean you can’t do it now. Before you run to buy your materials, go over the entire deck carefully to identify missing or broken screws or nails. Fix those first. It can be tedious, but it’s not particularly difficult, and like so many things, it’s the little stuff that adds up over time – for better or worse.
What If There Are Bigger Problems With My Deck?
If serious work needs to be done – something more than you’re comfortable taking on yourself, or which will require extensive materials and tools even if you do it yourself – you may wish to consider a loan to repair your deck. It’s tempting to let something like deck repair slide, especially if money is tight, but this may be short-term thinking that leads to long-term problems and greater long-term expenses. Maybe it’s been cold and you don’t go out there that much, or maybe it’s still usable, just not… well, you know, stable. Or safe.
OK, so it’s not exactly “usable.” But you can work around it, right?
Just like letting little problems go leads to big problems, letting big problems slide usually means much bigger headaches and expenses in the future – sometimes, in the near future. Structural damage rarely gets better on its own, usually, it gets worse. Quickly. There’s also the danger of someone getting hurt. That’s bad if it’s you or one of your kids; it’s worse if it’s someone else – the neighbor’s kid, for example.
Besides, you remember the part about your home being a major investment and all that? Part of that value is keeping it in good repair, inside and out. And the part everyone can see most easily is the “out” part.
It’s entirely up to you, of course. Maybe there are other things around the house you’d rather focus on first – or maybe you want to think bigger and do more than a loan to improve your deck. Maybe you want a larger home repair loan allowing you to tackle several tasks at once.
Whatever your borrowing needs, Loanry can help. We maintain a curated database of reputable online lenders who would be happy to talk with you in more detail about your options. If you’d like us to connect you to one of them, let us know.
Either way, good luck with the deck and whatever else you’re tackling. Safety first, and always keep your endgame in mind!
Blaine Koehn is a former small business manager, long-time educator, and seasoned consultant. He’s worked in both the public and private sectors while riding the ups-and-downs of self-employment and independent contracting for nearly two decades. His self-published resources have been utilized by thousands of educators as he’s shared his experiences and ideas in workshops across the Midwest. Blaine writes about money management and decision-making for those new to the world of finance or anyone simply sorting through their fiscal options in complicated times.