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House & Home

How to Approach Home Improvement like a Millennial

Posted October 13, 2015

It's a fascinating phenomenon. Even though millennials are the youngest entrants into the real estate marketplace, they make up more than a third of home buyers. And that's taking into account the fact that the junior members of this generation, born between about 1982 through the early 2000s, will not be old enough to qualify for a mortgage for another few years. (The minimum age is 18 in most states.) Despite their youth, this group, also known as Generation Y, tends to buy resale properties, which are often older than the new homeowners themselves. All this means that millennials are developing a healthy interest in home improvement … but their approach is very different from their parents'. Whatever era you were born into, take a page from Gen Y's virtual notebook and update your own approach to home improvement.

Set Your Priorities

Technology plays a major role in home design for millennials, in terms of both communications and smart house management. Thinking of adding a home office or a cozy reading nook? How about a more relevant area -- one which is less isolated and more accessible, conducive to Kindle-ing, tablet-ing, texting and using other electronic devices? (After all, a generation that loves to work in the high energy atmosphere of coffee shops tends to appreciate flexible space and chances are you will too.) Millennials are jumping onto the smart house bandwagon … rightly so, for a number of excellent reasons: 1) comfort, 2) environmental friendliness combined with budget-friendly savings on utility bills, and 3) security. To accommodate these updated priorities, consider including an electrical panel upgrade, together with easily-accessible yet neat-looking electric outlets and electronics chargers, on your home improvement to-do list.

Play with Ideas

Ideas for home improvement abound on the social media superhighway. Stop by where the millennials gather … Pinterest for decorating and revamping suggestions, Hometalk forum discussions among DIY mavens and professionals, or how-to videos courtesy of YouTube. All of these can provide a mixture of inspiration and expertise. Armed with a vision of how you want to upgrade your home, you can then turn to the fascinating array of software that will help you reach your goals. For example, try out different paint colors on photos of each of your rooms -- or your home's exterior; color envisioning programs offered free by major house paint manufacturers allow you to experiment freely and sample various shades without investing a dime in product or labor. If your home improvement agenda includes structural changes, draw up your plans in three dimensions with Google's SketchUp or similar 3-D CAD (computer-aided design) software.

Work with Professionals

The old days when homeowners relied on building professionals as their main source of information and advice are long gone. Do your homework a la tech-savvy millennials and find out for yourself the facts and figures related to any home improvement projects that you're considering. Research products, techniques, and prices. You will then be in the confident position of knowing the basic facts; from there you can ask for interpretations and advice from any remodeling pros you might hire.

Take another tip from moneywise millennials and save some cash on your home reno by doing part of it yourself. Once again, consult your home improvement pro in advance about what is feasible on a DIY basis and what is best left in the hands of the experts. A case in point is preparing to install new hardwood flooring, where you could do your bit by removing old carpet, for instance.

Laura Firszt writes for network.com.

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