Monthly Archives: December 2017

Upgrading Your Home

If you are a home owner then you should know the importance and benefits of home improvement. First let us define what is home improvement. Home improvement is the process of making changes into one’s house and thus improving its level of comfort, aesthetics and safety. Home improvement is usually done by hiring professionals such as handymen and contractors but the home owner can do it personally if he or she knows what she is doing. As we all know properties are subjected to depreciation over time. But with proper maintenance and improvement you can keep your property’s real estate value up. So if you are planning to sell your house someday, maintenance and home improvement is very important.

But home improvement is not all about increasing the real estate value of our home. Improving the home is also important for those who are currently living in the property. If you want to make your home a better living place for you and your family, home improvement jobs are a must. If you perform maintenance checks for your home, you can detect and anticipate structural damage to your home which could be a potential threat to you and your family’s safety. Utilities such as heating and cooling systems, smoke detectors, ovens and many others also needs to be subjected to regular maintenance checks to prevent them from malfunctioning because they may cause accidents. Maintenance checks will also address the common problems associated with insect infestations such as termites which as we all know can cause great damage and deterioration over time.

Aside from maintenance checks, improving your home also means remodeling or renovation. Over time it is very possible to be bored with the decor of your home, so a renovation is certainly a great way to spruce it up. Home remodeling can be quite simple. From a fresh coat of paint to the house’s as well as new furnishings to changing the curtains or the carpet in the living room, it all counts as remodeling efforts. A good example of renovating your home is to install UPVC French doors into your home. French doors are ideally installed in doorways that leads to the house’s exterior locations such as the patio or the poolside. French doors does a great job of enhancing the looks of your home as well as providing other functionalities such as being an insulator. If you cannot handle the tasks of remodeling and renovation, then you can always hire a profession to make the job easier for you. You’ll be surprised at just how a remodeling or renovation, may it be simple or complex, can change the overall mood of your home.

How to Recession-Proof Your Home Improvement Plans

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.

Home’s Value Through Home Improvements

There are many home improvements you can do to boost your property value. Though not every homeowner agrees with the value of home improvements, most agree that you will get a better price for your home, in the event of a sale, if you make a few changes.

Home improvements will not only get you a better resale value, but will give you a more pleasant living environment while you are there. So don’t underestimate the value of making a few improvements to your home.

Making improvements to your home can also increase your homes overall safety. This is considered a big benefit. There are many factors to consider when deciding what improvements to make.

First, plan your budget and decide what you want to do. Having a clear plan before you get started can make the process go much smoother. If you are making big home improvements and upgrades, hiring a contractor may be your best bet.

As a tenant, you may or may not have the right to make improvements to the property so check with your landlord. If you own the property and are unsure where to begin, there are professionals that you can hire to help you decide what improvements to make to get the most for your money.

Making outdoor improvements may require that you check with your homeowner’s association, if you have one, and your local governments to ensure your improvements are allowed. Some improvements may require special permits so be sure to file the necessary paperwork ahead of time.

If you have a limited budget and can only concentrate on one area, renovate your kitchen. Replacing old countertops and floors can make a drastic change and be relatively inexpensive. You can also consider upgrading your appliances or adding a splash-guard.

Rules of Home Improvement

Many homeowners are beginning to recognize the higher standards that are being demanded from home improvement contractors.The new rules of certification, accreditation and independent verification have complemented well the old ways of selecting a contractor so that the two establish a benchmark that bodes well for the professional perception of the industry. It is not a coincident that in 2010 credentialing and training organizations have achieved their highest growth rate in recent years.

I believe that a profound shift is taken place in the home improvement industry. This shift has embraced certification, accreditation and independent verification as the new rules of doing business. As a contractor who has been in the business for many years, for me, this shift means one thing – a chance to increase market share by showcasing a brand that understands and welcomes the new reality. Indeed, homeowners are beginning to demand this higher standard of training and perceived credibility to measure value. And, the surest way to achieve this is by checking for the credential of companies and the skill of their people. Now, besides the old ways of relying chiefly on word-of-mouth recommendation, customers will be able to more independently check for and measure the training and professional underpinning of a company. This is quite a significant development in the home improvement business brought on by dramatic emphasis on energy efficiency improvements in building.

The Federal government and large utility companies have contributed to this by providing tax credits and purchase rebates respectively for energy efficiency improvement initiatives. States have seized on these opportunities and have enacted changes to their building codes to encourage higher efficiency standards in building. The State of Massachusetts for example, has adopted the ‘Stretch Energy Code'” which its cities and towns are using to promote energy efficiency improvement to their building stock. The execution of these strategies create jobs, save money on utility bills and decrease the Carbon output to the environment from buildings. The savviest of small home improvement contractors are using these new rules to improve their companies’ image to portray a well trained professional operation. The majority of the buildings in the nation are in need of some sort of energy efficiency improvement, if we are committed to improving our building stock then the adoption of these new rules are just the start of the revolutionizing of the home improvement industry.

To be clear, the changes that are taking root are a result of the budding Home Performance Improvement industry that is taking shape and which is buttress by the Building Performance Institute (BPI), a national credentialing and training organization. Indeed, I believe two things, one, this is setting a new benchmark for the professional assessing of the home remodeling industry. Two, brand recognition will be an important criteria in selecting a home improvement company. The companies that recognize this and make the necessary positioning adjustment will be the winners.