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Archive for the ‘HOME IMPROVEMENTS’ Category

Do-It-Yourself! Most homeowners love all things DIY!

But some home projects are just not worth doing on your own: whether for time, cost or safety reasons.

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According to Jeff Kaliner, co-founder of the Power Home Remodeling Group (the fourth largest home remodeling company in US) these home projects should be left to the professionals:

 

1. Roof Repair

Not only can you hurt yourself if you attempt to fix your roof on your own, but you can also damage your roof and end up in need of even more costly repairs from a pro. Limit your interaction with your roof to seasonal check ups to remove debris from gutters and check for cracked or broken shingles. Since most roof systems can last for up to 20 years, this is definitely a case where you should leave it to the pros.

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2. Window replacement 

Installing new windows is a great way to save energy and in turn, lower your monthly energy bills. However, from the specialized tools required to form exterior cladding, removal of lead-based paint, and the time it takes to master the art of working with aluminum, there are several elements of this project that make it best left to a pro. While new windows can be pricey, by having them properly installed you’ll save that money (and likely more) in the long run on energy bills and tax credits.

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3. Exterior painting 

Paint and preparation vary depending on the surface, but no matter the material, several steps of power washing, sanding, paint scraping and caulking must be completed…and that’s before you even begin to prime the surface. The goal of many DIY projects is to save time, but this one is a definite time suck that requires a good deal of expensive tools and materials. Do yourself (and your neighbors) a favor and avoid making a mistake the whole block will have to suffer along with you. Hire a pro and stick with painting the interior of the home. Please also keep in mind that older homes likely have lead-based paint issues, which can be hazardous to your health if not handled with care and costly if not disposed of properly.

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4. HVAC

Unless you’re performing a relatively simple task like installing a programmable thermostat to save energy, most HVAC projects require the help of a professional because very few homeowners know more than just the basics of air ventilation and circulation. In addition, keep in mind that your family’s safety could be at risk if your home’s ventilation is not working properly. The multiple steps involved, from creating a frame for ductwork to sealing and insulating the ductwork and finding the proper locations for return vents, mean these projects can take a novice much longer than a weekend to complete.

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5. Attic Insulation

If your attic is easily accessible, it can be tempting to attempt to insulate your attic on your own, but think twice before buying fiberglass insulation materials to install. In order to achieve the energy savings you’re looking for, an attic must be sealed prior to installation of insulation. A licensed contractor will use specialized diagnostic tools to find and repair leaks, and if you are not completely thorough with this step, the insulation will not make the difference you are looking for.

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6. Structural changes

While most homeowners know to keep away from loadbearing walls, some forget to also avoid walls that contain water or gas pipes, electrical wires and ductwork. Hiring a professional can save you the time you’d spend with the guesswork involved in figuring out what walls can go and what must stay.

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7. Gutter repair

The installation of new gutters can add great value to a home, but keep in mind that it’s difficult to near impossible to repair gutters without impacting your roof. Instead of risking injury by repairing downtrodden gutters on your own, look into the cost of having a professional replace them first. It will likely pay off in the amount of time you save and equity you add to your home.

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8. Installing decking

In most municipalities, homeowners must secure a permit when building a deck higher than 18 inches off the ground. Building codes will also affect your build and how far you’ll need to dig before installation of footings. Add to the fact that most deck material companies offer installations at a discount when purchasing materials, and this is a project best left to the pros.

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9. Basement Waterproofing

Do your homework before attempting to solve your water problems. While minor issues can be temporarily fixed with waterproofing paint, the results are sure to fade after one or two heavy rainstorms. For a permanent solution, look to professionals who can waterproof the foundation of your home and ensure proper water management that will keep your basement dry.

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10. Tree Removal

Forget that you’ll need to figure out what to do with the tree once you’ve knocked it down and consider the time you’ll spend measuring and preparing for the fall. There are a lot of factors at play here that a professional tree remover will be much better equipped to handle, oftentimes at a relatively low cost.

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SOURCE: DIYlife.com, Power Home Remodeling Group

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Not all home improvements are a good investment, and some may even take away from the resale value of a home.

Kitchen and baths remodeling remain among the best investments that provide the highest returns on resale of the property. Well built, quality decks, basements, plentiful storage areas also add value and are popular with buyers.

Swimming pools, on the other hand, are more controversial, especially in colder climate. Few buyers are willing to pay extra money for the luxury of owning a swimming pool, and many buyers will NOT purchase a home with a swimming pool, especially if they have small children for safety reasons, even if otherwise they would purchase the same home IF it did NOT have the swimming pool.

In most parts of the country, it is not likely that pool owners will get their money back when they sell the property.

The cost of buying and operating a pool can be prohibitive, as well.

Anyone who contemplates owning a swimming pool should expect it to cost at least $3,000 a year, or $5,000 if they turn the job of maintaining it over to a pool service.

Installing a swimming pool along with the required extras like a high fence can cost at least $25,000 and up to $50,000.

Swimming pool is a great feature for homeowners who plan to live in a home for many years, but it should NOT be treated as an investment. Most homeowners will never get their money out of it on the resale.

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SOURCE: The Wall Street Journal

 

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Consumer Reports magazine advises home owners not to put off important maintenance projects, noting that waiting until the economy rebounds could end up making the repairs more costly while putting a family’s health at risk.

The magazine identifies five crucial maintenance issues:

  • Check the gutters: Clogged gutters, broken fasteners and separations where the gutters meet the fascia board will lead to roof leaks if they haven’t already.
  • Inspect the roof: Cracked, curled and mussing shingles mean a roof is nearing the end of its useful life. Cracks around chimneys, skylights, and roof valleys can also suggest the roof might be leaking.
  • Look for bugs: Termites and carpenter ants can bore through a home in a few short years. Probe the sill plate on top of the foundation with a screwdriver to check for rotten wood. Also look for carpenter ants and termites along windowsills and walls.
  • Avoid mold: Mold and mildew can cause musty odors, dank air, and make residents sick. Check under carpets and around windows for visible mold or mildew.
  • Don’t ignore cracks: Foundation cracks wider than 3/16 of an inch can be a problem. These require examination by a structural engineer.

 

SOURCE:  Consumer Reports, REALTOR Magazine

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For the second year in a row, REALTORS® report that exterior remodeling projects return the most money as a percentage of cost.

On a national level, wood deck additions and all types of siding replacements–upscale fiber cement, midrange vinyl, and upscale foam-backed vinyl–returned more than 80 percent of project costs upon resale. Of these, the most profitable project was upscale fiber cement siding, which recouped 86.7 percent of costs, followed by wood decks at 81.8 percent, midrange vinyl siding at 80.7 percent, and upscale foam-backed vinyl siding at 80.4 percent.

The 2008 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report compares construction costs with resale values for 30 midrange and upscale remodeling projects comprising additions, remodels and replacements in 79 markets across the country, expanding from 60 markets last year.

Projects With Highest, Lowest Returns

In addition to wood decks and siding, window replacements and kitchen remodels also returned a relatively high percentage of remodeling costs on a national basis.

All types of window replacements–upscale and midrange wood and upscale and midscale vinyl–returned more than 76 percent of costs. A major midrange kitchen remodel returned 76 percent of project costs, while a minor midrange kitchen remodel returned 79.5 percent of costs.

On a national level, bathroom remodels, while still a relatively good investment, do not return as high a percentage as in previous years. A midrange bathroom remodel was estimated to return 74.4 percent on resale, comparable to a midrange attic-to-bedroom conversion, at 73.6 percent of costs recouped, and a midrange basement remodel, at 72.7 percent of costs recouped.

As in last year’s report, the least profitable remodeling projects in terms of resale value were home office remodels, sunroom additions, and back-up power generators, returning only 54.4 percent, 56.6 percent, and 57.1 percent, respectively, of project costs.

National Association of Realtors® President Charles McMillan says the resale value of any given remodeling project depends on a variety of factors.

“A home’s overall condition, availability and condition of surrounding properties, location, and regional economic climate are all factors that will influence the value of any remodeling project,” he says.

SOURCE: National Association of REALTORS®

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