When it comes to bettering their surroundings, homeowners are eager and at the ready to make improvements to their humble abodes.

According to a new survey nearly three in four (73 percent) homeowners surveyed plan to make home improvements this year, a 26 percent increase from 2018, according to the sixth annual LightStream Home Improvement Survey conducted by The Harris Poll.

Homeowners also plan to spend more on those renovations – an average of about $9,000, the highest amount since the survey began in 2014. In addition, more homeowners this year will take on projects with major price tags. Those planning to spend $25,000 or more on improving their homes grew by 83 percent compared to last year.

In terms of what’s driving these renovations, Americans are more focused on creating a space they love than increasing the value of their home as an asset. Personalization is the number one motivator for investing in a home renovation (27 percent), ahead of increasing home value (14 percent); improving a home for sale (7 percent); or preparing for a major life event (4 percent) such as a new baby or retirement.

“The majority of homeowners are planning on staying in their homes for at least 10 years—or never move,” said Todd Nelson, senior vice president of strategic partnerships at LightStream. “Regardless of their age, we found that most consumers are focusing their home improvement projects to reflect their personal lifestyle, comfort and interests.”

As Americans prepare to tackle home improvement projects, lack of education and preparedness can often lead to unnecessary stress.

“Financial stress can impact the renovation process,” Nelson said. “By budgeting and educating themselves up front, homeowners can reduce strain, save money and manage an important project with confidence.

Here are three tips to help consumers take on a home improvement project with financial confidence:

Build the Budget: The first step is to price out the bigger expenses, like materials and labor, then move on to inventory everything you will need to complete your project, down to paint brushes and tape. Make sure to leave room in your budget for unexpected expenses.

Drill Down on DIY or Contractor: If you are willing to get your hands dirty, simple DIY-friendly efforts such as painting, demolition and landscaping will save money if you take them on yourself. Projects that include heavy construction, plumbing or electrical work may be best done by licensed professionals, who can save you from headaches in the long run.

Choose the Right Funding: Many people taking on home improvement projects this year are planning to tap into their savings (60 percent), followed by credit cards (32 percent) and a home improvement loan (10 percent). While using a portion of savings can be a smart solution, it is also important to consider other funding options before dipping into money set aside for the future, like emergency funds or 401Ks. When planning larger projects, consider a home improvement loan instead of paying with high-interest credit cards or draining your savings.

“Unsecured home improvement loans can provide immediate financial means, flexibility and low, fixed interest rates for any project,” Nelson said.

Source: LightStream