We Modernized Our 1890s Chicago Cottage by Using Our Home’s Equity

Published April 25, 2024
Jen Herrmann
by Jen Herrmann

We were searching for our dream home for months. When we couldn’t find it, we decided to make it ourselves — by modernizing an 1890s Chicago cottage that was last updated in the 1990s.

From tackling awkward family rooms to revamping outdated bathrooms, every step of the renovation project brought us closer to our vision of the perfect home. But when we started budgeting, things added up quickly. So, we decided to explore a home equity line of credit (HELOC). And honestly, the project wouldn’t have been possible without it.

Jen in front of stairs.

So, what is a HELOC? It’s a way to turn your home equity into cash by tapping into your property’s value. That cash acts like a revolving line of credit that you can use for anything from funding large expenses to debt consolidation. Not only did it help fund our renovations, but it also increased the value of our home.

Here’s how we used a HELOC to create our dream home — plus tips on how you can do the same.

Jen with family in yard

Tackling renovations to create the home of our dreams

Our family room — with its awkward layout and outdated features — was once the quirkiest room in the house. But with the help of our HELOC, we were able to tear down walls, install built-ins, and lay down new hardwood floors to create a space that’s both functional and stylish. It’s now the heart of our house, where we gather with family and friends to create memories that will last a lifetime.

Similarly, our backyard was a neglected space, but with a HELOC in hand, we transformed it into a tranquil oasis perfect for relaxing and entertaining. From landscaping projects to refinishing our deck, we carefully planned and executed every detail to create a space that’s truly our own. It’s now our favorite spot to unwind after a long day and enjoy the beauty of nature right in our own backyard.

Cash from your couch. Check your eligibility in as little as 3 minutes.

Budgeting and money decisions were made easier

One of the nice things about having a HELOC is being able to budget over time and space out our renovation projects.

While we refreshed the entire first floor and added hardwood floors throughout, we’ve always dreamed of adding another bedroom and bathroom to the upstairs. Without a HELOC, it would have been cost-prohibitive for us. It made it easier to maintain and carve out a contingency budget for unexpected expenses. While our contractor was terrific, we encountered two $5,000 surprises throughout the process. However, I didn’t stress because I knew we had the HELOC to cover us. It helped me run the project more like a general contractor.

Testing paint colors

We navigated the HELOC process with ease

Applying for a HELOC can be overwhelming, but if you have a reliable team of experts to help you navigate the process, it becomes extraordinarily easier. From determining eligibility to securing the best possible terms, find a company that can help you every step of the way.

Our HELOC became an invaluable tool, helping us turn the house we bought into our dream home. If you’re considering a renovation project or looking for support to achieve your financial goals, I highly recommend exploring the possibilities of a HELOC. It’s a decision that could change your life for the better, just like it did for us.

Transform your home equity into cash in as little as 7 days.

Paid partnership with Better Mortgage.

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