Should I have gotten the HELOC? I don't know why I'm so worried about this. What's done is done and there is nothing I can do about it now. But still...
At first, we couldn't get "another" HELOC because we had already opened one to purchase the house. We took out a second(HELOC) loan to pay 20% on the primary loan. In this way, we avoided PMI. Naturally, we couldn't take out another HELOC because the equity was already maxed out when we purchased it. For the next 2 years or so, we paid for the repairs of our house with cash and good ole credit cards. We opened a Home Depot card (and should have purchased stock in the dang company) to take advantage of many of the savings we could get through their advertised offers. Other purchases went on an MBNA card that went towards getting awards points for travel. At one point, I had $20K+ on credit cards from all of the remodeling costs. I paid them off rather quickly, but still, I did pay some interest.
Recently, we remodeled our bathroom and kitchen...with cash and credit cards. Now, 2.5 years later, I could have gotten a HELOC. In the fall of last year, we refinanced and got both previously mentioned loans locked into a 5.7% 30 year fixed loan. We have since gained approximately $200K in equity in the house. So, technically, I could have opened a HELOC to pay for the $30K in expenses it cost us to remodel, but I just couldn't do it. I know about the advantages of saving on taxes from the interest paid and we probably could have "written off" some of the fees, but I just couldn't do it pyschologically.
I didn't understand that I could pay back a HELOC like I was paying back the credit card. I didn't pay enough attention before we started to realize that it would have been the smarter way to go. I didn't want to take out any equity. I didn't want to go there. I'm still not completely sure why I didn't want to do it. That'll take a bit more discerning.
What's done is done. Hindsight is 20/20.