Handy Home Improvement Tips to Help You Create a More Energy Efficient Home

Posted on June 6, 2019 in Uncategorized

Whenever you take on a home renovation task, you can go beyond making visual enhancements. Home renovation projects also provide you with the ability to increase the energy efficiency of your home. Remodeling for a more energy efficient home won’t just be great for the environment – it will also save you money in the long run. No matter what kind of home improvement project you’re considering, it’s a good idea to find out if there are ways you can enhance your home’s energy efficiency. A good renovation project offers you the opportunity to add more beauty and value to your home, but it will be even more successful if you’re able to use that project to lower your energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint.

Tips for the Bathroom

The bathroom is one of the most popular areas to start home improvement projects. When you’re ready to start making some changes in your bathroom, it’s the smaller decisions that can help you to increase the energy efficiency of your bathroom. If you’ll be replacing faucets, sinks and showerheads as a part of your home improvement project, you can save on water by going with low-flow options that still provide you with plenty of water pressure. Another option is to invest in a dual flush or low flow toilet that will help improve energy efficiency in the bathroom.

Tips for the Kitchen

Kitchens are often the heart of the home and they are also a popular place for home renovation projects. It is possible to work on home improvement tasks that improve the function and aesthetic beauty of your kitchen while also working to make your home more energy efficient. Many kitchen home improvement tasks focus on replacing surface features, including floors, counters and cabinets. You can go with sustainable materials to help out the environment. Choosing the right appliances for the kitchen is the real way to save energy while taking on a kitchen home improvement project. Look for ENERGY STAR products that use less water and power, helping to cut down on your energy bills. These energy efficient appliances also come in great sizes and trendy styles so they’ll go along with your d├ęcor of choice in the kitchen.

Tips for Other Living Areas

While it may be more difficult to make living rooms, offices and bedrooms more energy efficient, there are still ways that you can work on energy efficiency when you take on these home improvement tasks. When you’re ready to remodel these areas, work to go with sustainable materials, such as hardwood flooring that is harvested in a sustainable way. Another option is to choose curtains that will help cut back on heat transfer, which will help keep energy bills down. Adding in some extra insulation while involved in home improvement tasks or adding in new ceiling fans can help reduce the cost of heating and cooling your home as well. Also, keeping in mind that materials pulled from the home can be recycled when you do a home renovation in living areas.

As you can see, you can find many ways to take on a home improvement project to improve your home’s aesthetic beauty, function, value and energy efficiency. As you plan out your next home improvement task, make sure you keep energy efficiency in mind. You’ll be taking great measures to help improve the environment while also finding ways to save money over time with a more energy efficient home.

Home Improvement – How to Recession-Proof Your Home Improvement Plans

Posted on June 4, 2019 in Uncategorized

As the 2008 recession lingers into its fourth year, many consumers have closed their wallets to a long list of “big ticket” purchases, and home improvements appear to be riding the top of that list.

According to a 2010 Bigresearch.com study, home owners are throwing their home improvements plans out the window like burnt toast. Over 20% of those surveyed said they were putting-off all forms of home improvement indefinitely. Interestingly, this percentage ranked second highest among all survey questions, with only “vacation travel” showing a higher figure (25%).

With cash reserves at a premium, many home owners have simply decided to wait on making improvements, and understandably so. Faced with record unemployment, higher costs of living, rising taxes and a dim view of any short term changes for the better, who could blame them?

Worse yet, home improvements have historically yielded very low returns when compared to their actual cost. In fact, Remodeling Magazine’s 2009-10 “cost vs. value” report reveals that home owners, on average, recoup less than of 65% of the money they invest in their home improvement projects.

But before you conclude that your home improvement plans should be scraped, let’s take a step back.

There are very few home owners who wouldn’t admit to needing some measure of improvement to their home. Whether it’s as simple as repairing the leaky faucet gasket that drives you crazy with its relentless dripping, or an unreliable front porch light fixture that leaves you fumbling around in the dark when you return home from a long day at work. Every house has its deficiencies.

But with a recession in full bloom, and statistics showing little to no hope of ever getting your money back, why would anyone bother with a home improvement project?

Though at first it may seem like a lost cause or verging on lunacy, there are simple solutions that many consumers are using to solve this problem.

First, let’s address the big one. The statistics from Remodeling Magazine and other similar resources, assume that a building contractor is being paid to perform all the labor and to supply all the materials. And if you assume, on average, approximately 50% of the total costs of most home improvement projects will be attributable to labor and fees, you can literally transform the investment returns by performing the majority of the work yourself. What was once a 35% loss becomes a 30% gain by simply providing your own labor force. Not a bad return in any economy.

Second, although the IRS does not allow deductions for most voluntary home improvements, they do allow you to add the costs of your improvements to the cost basis of your home. And for tax purposes, this will help minimize any tax burden you might face when you sell your home. I don’t claim to be a tax expert, but you can easily verify your cost basis and tax deduction options by talking with you’re tax accountant.

So how do you perform the work yourself? If you think tackling your home improvement project is beyond your ability, you’re in for a surprise. It’s not!

Like many things, the more you do something the more proficient you become, but construction is not terribly complex. It doesn’t require years of schooling and technical expertise to comprehend. It’s not brain surgery. It’s arguably more art than science. In fact, if you can draw a straight line, read a measuring tape and you don’t mind getting a little dirty you’re a perfect candidate for tacking your own home improvements.

Minimizing the more difficult projects like relocating load bearing walls, or changing roof lines, can make the project much easier and less costly. And you may need a licensed electrician, plumber or other skilled craftsman along the way, but if you use them sparingly and only when absolutely required, you’ll save a tremendous amount of money.

There are plenty of free resources you can use to estimate material costs, determine the right tools to use, and establish the right strategy for actually getting the work done efficiently.

So start with online resources. There are thousands of them. You’ll find estimating tools, materials suppliers and hundreds of “how to” manuals. Even the “Dummies Store” can be a great resource. And don’t hesitate to talk with the professionals at your favorite material supply store when you need advice. Asking for assistance and opinions from someone you trust (a neighbor or relative) can also be extremely helpful. Most of the expertise you need is at your fingertips, and it won’t cost you a penny.

Don’t forget to check with your lender, your city officials (construction permitting) and any governing HOA for the requirements they may have related to your planned improvements.

And if you don’t have the tools you need to complete a specific part of the project, remember tools can be rented. And you can find them in most pawn shops for pennies on the dollar. Don’t assume you have to buy “new” tools.

The benefits of this straightforward strategy are multi-faceted. Not only can you enjoy the convenience of your improvements, but you can enjoy a tremendous return on investment at the time of re-financing or sale.

And in light of the economy, it’s not a bad way to get the family, friends and neighbors involved in something productive, something everyone can contribute to and something everyone can enjoy for years to come.

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Making Home Improvements That Add Value, Avoiding Those That Don’t

Posted on June 2, 2019 in Uncategorized

You watch that TV channel. The one with all the stories about real estate and what improvements you can make to your home to increase its value. It all sounds great — simple even. Add a room, get better counters, slap down some hardwood, command top dollar at closing. Sorry to have to say this, but slow down. It’s not that simple.

Do Home Improvements Really Increase the Sale Value

The average return on home improvements will, of course, follow the ups and downs of the real estate market itself. In 2006, for instance, every dollar spent on improvements raised the value of the home by 76.1 cents. In 2007, the figure was 70 cents, and by 2008 it fell to just 67.3 cents.

Looked at in terms of recouping the expense of the improvement itself, the ratio is rarely 1 to 1. You’re not going to get $20,000 more for a home you’ve put $20,000 into. There are, however, regional exceptions to that rule. In San Francisco, the addition of a deck, the number-one-rated improvement for that city, often returns more than 100 percent the cost of the work. This raises an extremely salient point.

If you are making improvements specifically to increase the value of your home before selling it, talk to a real estate professional first and find out what upgrades the local market values. Even if you’re thinking of selling within five years, take the time to visit with a real estate agent. Some improvements are widely accepted as being of higher value than others, but each market may put a different emphasis on what constitutes “value” and what does not.

Kitchen Renovations Are Always a Winner

It’s difficult to go wrong with kitchen improvements since, for most people, especially families, that’s the room that is the heart of the house. At minimum, fresh paint, new or refreshed cabinets, and new flooring will go a long way. Higher end improvements might include granite counters or stainless steel appliances. On average, kitchen remodels return 75 percent of the amount invested.

Bathroom Makeovers Are a Close Second

Let’s face it. No room in a house has the potential for a bigger “ick” factor than the bathroom. No one wants to buy someone else’s dirt. Even the cleanest tub in the world is going to look dirty with peeling, moldy grout or rust stains around the drain. Most of us never look twice at our own bathrooms, but will recoil in horror at one in a listing we’re viewing.

At the very least, a bathroom in a home for sale should be so clean it sparkles. If there’s no way to get sparkle, then get new tile, a molded sink, marble vanity, and nice fixtures. So whatever you have to do to make the bathroom look pristine. You’ll easily see 75 to 80 percent of the cost coming back to you at the time of sale.

New Emphasis on Green, Energy Efficient Improvements

Especially in Texas and the Southwest where brutal summer heat saddles residential customers with astronomical electric bills, green improvements to a home can significantly add value to a property. This could be anything from insulating doors and windows to a roof with a radiant barrier, high-performance insulation, and potentially alternative energy systems. The latter are most likely to be solar panels or small, residential wind turbines. At present, these sorts of modifications appeal to a highly select clientele, but such additions are likely to grow in acceptance and value rapidly over the next decade.

Upgrades that Generally Don’t Add Value

Not all home upgrades are created equal. In picking things like counter tops, cabinets, and fixtures, try to match the overall “quality” or “range” of the home. Ultra high-quality upgrades in a fairly “normal” or “modest” home stick out like the proverbial sore thumb.

Avoid adding rooms that make no sense in terms of the basic floor plan. Always preserve the flow from one room to the next, and don’t do things like adding on a family room only to cut off any view from the dining room. Worse yet, don’t add on a room that can only be accessed by going through the master bathroom! You get the idea. If it feels “tacked on” to you, the potential buyer will experience that same feeling to the tenth power.

Finally, it’s best to avoid pools. Once seen as a premium enhancement to value, most buyers now perceive a pool as a home maintenance albatross. This is especially true in climates where the pool is only usable a few months out of the year. You might be able to make a case for a pool being a selling point in Florida. That likely won’t fly in South Dakota.

Always Understand the Local Market for Upgrades

These are the kinds of factors that make a consultation with a real estate professional essential before you start knocking out walls. Find out which upgrades sell in your area and try to match a dollar figure to what “sell” means. Only undertake the improvements that make the most sense for your property and the ones that will largely pay for themselves when you sell the home.

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