Real Estate Blog
Thursday, February 28 2013
Expect to see emerald everywhere — Pantone’s 2013 color queen.
Goodbye Tangerine Tango. Hello emerald, Pantone’s 2013 color of the year
Why emerald, or as Pantone’s swatch names
“Green is the most abundant hue in nature — the human eye sees more green than any other color in the spectrum,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, a color consultant to corporations.
Eiseman says emerald sparkles, fascinates, and “brings a sense of clarity, renewal, and rejuvenation, which is so important in today’s complex world.”
Tangerine Tango, last year’s color queen (and my new favorite hue), was a pinkish orange that packed an energy punch. 2013’s emerald is a vivid, verdant green that “enhances our sense of well-being … promoting balance and harmony,” Pantone says.
Expect to see the color on everything from kitchen colors
to gas grills to $25 commemorative mugs
Emerald green: love it or hate it?
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/blog/painting/pantone-color-of-2013-emerald/#ixzz2LvWTXrFR
Wednesday, January 25 2012
To calculate how much remodel you can afford, follow these four steps: Ballpark the cost, establish a spending limit, make a wish list, and set your priorities.
What’s on your remodeling wish list? Maybe you’re longing for a spa-like master bathroom, a new eat-in kitchen, or a garage with space enough to fit your cars and your outdoor gear. Well, when it comes to home improvements, knowing what you want is the easy part. The tougher question is figuring out how much you can afford. Follow this four-step plan to arrive at the answer.
Ballpark the costs
The first step is to get a handle on how much your remodeling dreams will cost. Remodeling Magazine’s 2010-11 Cost vs. Value Report gives national averages for 35 common projects. Or you can use a per-square-foot estimate: In general, major upgrades, such as a bathroom remodel or a family-room addition, run $100 to $200 per square foot. Your local National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) affiliate can help with estimates. At this point, you’re not trying to nail down exact prices, but to get a rough sense of what your project might cost.
Figure out how much you have to spend
Once you have a ballpark cost estimate, the next question is whether you have the money. If you’re paying cash, that’s pretty easy to answer. But if you’re borrowing, you need to assess how much a bank will lend you and what that loan will add to your monthly expenses.
For the vast majority of homeowners, the best way to borrow for a home improvement is a home equity line of credit. A HELOC (pronounced HEE-lock) is a loan that’s secured by your home equity, which means that it qualifies for a lower rate than other loan types, and you can deduct the interest on your taxes. Because a HELOC is a line of credit rather than a lump-sum loan, it comes with a checkbook that you use to withdraw money as needed, up to the maximum amount of the loan. For help shopping for a HELOC, download our free worksheet.
The catch is that the minimum payment on a HELOC is just that month’s interest; you’re not required to pay back any principal. Like only paying the minimum due on a credit card, that’s a recipe for getting stuck in debt. Instead, establish your own repayment schedule. You can do this simply by paying 1/60th of the principal (for a five-year paydown) or 1/120th (for 10 years) in addition to the monthly interest. If you can’t afford that much, then you should reconsider your project.
Get quotes from contractors
Once you have ballpark estimates of what your job might cost and how much you can spend, you know whether it’s feasible to move forward. Assuming the numbers are within shooting range of each other, it’s time to get a nuts-and-bolts assessment of project costs.
Don’t ask contractors for bids yet, though. First, you need to determine exactly what you want, right down to the kitchen countertop material and the type of faucet. By specifying these details up front, you ensure that contractors are all pricing the same things, rather than the countertop and faucet they assume you want. If you’re using an architect or designer, bring them in now to help with these choices. If not, consult magazines, go to showrooms, and visit friends’ houses for ideas.
Next, get recommendations for at least three contractors from friends, neighbors, and other tradesmen that you trust. Give each one your project description and specific product lists and request an itemized bid. To make a final decision, assess some of their previous work, their attitudes, and their references, and then choose the contractor who impresses you most.
Prioritize and phase
Take the winning contractor’s bid and add a 15% to 20% contingency for the unforeseen problems and changes that occur on every project. Is the total still within your ability to pay? If so, you’re ready to get started. If not, it’s time to scale back your plans.
Because you have an itemized bid, you can get a good sense of what you’ll save by eliminating various aspects of the project. Enlist the contractor’s help: Explain that you’ve decided to hire him (and you’re not trying to nickel-and-dime him) but that the bid is over your budget, and ask him to recommend ways to cut costs. He may suggest phasing parts of the job—keeping your old appliances in your new kitchen, for example, because they’re easy to upgrade later—or stealing some underutilized square footage for part of your family room to reduce the size of the addition. He may even suggest waiting until the slow winter season, or letting you do some of the work yourself. Once the bottom line on the bid matches the bottom line on your budget, you’re ready to transform your home.
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/planning-your-remodel/how-to-budget-for-home-remodel/#ixzz1kU1Kha1p
Friday, December 09 2011
With construction costs rising and the hassles associated with taking on a renovation project, many homeowners can be reluctant to tackle certain projects when it comes to remodeling their home. However, according to the 2011-12 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, several inexpensive exterior replacement projects are not only crucial to a home’s regular upkeep, but are also expected to recoup close to 70 percent of costs.
Exterior replacement projects continuously outperform other remodeling projects in terms of resale value, especially siding, window and door replacements. These types of projects are considered essential to regular home maintenance so homeowners will need to implement them anyway to keep their house functioning properly. The good news is that these projects do not require expensive materials. Many exterior replacement projects can be performed with durable low-maintenance materials and they also have the added bonus of instantly adding curb appeal, which is important to those looking to sell.
The 2011-12 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report compares construction costs with resale values for 35 midrange and upscale remodeling projects in 80 markets across the country. Realtors® provided their insight into local markets and buyer home preferences within those markets. Overall Realtors® estimated that home owners would recoup an average of 57.7 percent of their investment in 35 different improvement projects, down from an average of 60 percent last year.
Seven of the top 10 most cost-effective projects nationally in terms of value recouped are exterior replacement projects. Upscale fiber-cement siding replacement was judged by Realtors® as the project expected to return the most money, with an estimated 78 percent of cost recouped upon resale. Two additional siding replacement projects were in the top 10, including foam-backed vinyl siding and upscale vinyl siding. In addition, three door replacements were among the top exterior replacement projects. The steel entry door replacement is the least expensive project in the report, costing little more than $1,200 on average and is expected to recoup 73 percent of cost upon resale. Both the midrange and upscale garage door replacements are expected to return more than 71 percent of costs.
There are regional differences when it comes to the resale value of particular remodeling projects. Relators® can help homeowners decide what low-cost improvement investments will provide the most upon resale in their particular market. It’s important to keep in mind that resale value is just one factor among many that homeowners must take into account when making a decision to remodel.”
Three interior remodeling projects are also considered worthy investments. A midrange attic bedroom remodel is expected to return 72.5 percent of cost. Out of all the projects it is the least expensive way to add a bedroom and bathroom within a home’s existing footprint. A minor kitchen remodel and wood deck addition are also expected to recoup more than 70 percent of costs. Improvement projects that are expected to return the least are a sunroom addition and a home office remodel, both estimated to recoup less than 46 percent of costs.
The 2011-12 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report is published by Remodeling magazine publisher Hanley Wood, LLC and is in collaboration with the National Association of Realtors®. Additional data for the report can be found at NAR’s consumer website, HouseLogic.com. The website includes a wide variety of ideas and projects to help homeowners maintain, enhance and improve the value of their homes.
Thursday, May 12 2011
For the most part, the real estate markets around the country have flattened out, and homeowners are breathing a tentative sigh of relief. So, where do homeowners go from here? It will be a while before we start to see home values appreciate on their own, because demand will need to drastically increase before that happens. So, if you want to increase the value of your home, you’ll need to do it the old-fashioned way. Here are seven ways to improve your home’s value:
1. Remodel the Kitchen. Take into account the value of your home. If you have a $750,000 house, you should probably put $50,000 into a kitchen remodel. If you have a $250,000 house, you can get away with $5,000 to $10,000 in remodeling. Instead of replacing cabinets, try refinishing or re-facing them. New tile flooring, upgraded countertops, and a new sink are great things to update that don’t cost a ton of money.
2. Remodel the Bathrooms. This doesn’t need to be a lot. A new vanity, new flooring, a fresh coat of paint, and new fixtures can be done for less than $5,000.
3. Put up a Privacy Fence. You’ll get 100% return on your money by putting up a privacy fence, and when you go to sell the house, your house will appeal to people with children and pets.
4. Replace the Windows. This is a great upgrade that many savvy buyers will look for when they are shopping for a house. New windows helps improve energy efficiency to the home.
5. Finish Your Basement. We don’t have basements in Florida, because 10 feet below us is water. But many of you do have basements that are not being used or collecting junk. You can drastically improve your finished living space by putting up drywall, paint, and some carpet or laminate flooring.
6. Replace the Roof. You drastically improve the re-sale value of your home if you roof is new. Not only can you sell it for more money, but your house will stand out above other houses when trying to sell it. If a buyer is torn between your house and another house, a new roof can seal the deal, because many buyers don’t want to deal with buying a new roof when they first move in.
7. Add a Deck. EVERYONE loves wood decks. They never go out of style and they are great for entertaining. Decks are always a great selling feature. My advice would be to have your deck professionally installed, unless you are great with carpentry. No one wants an uneven deck.
There are many improvements you can make to your home, but only few of them will actually increase the value to your home. Also, make sure that you factor in where you live. You don’t want to put $100,000 into a house in a neighborhood full of $150,000 houses. Find the most expensive and the cheapeast homes in your neighborhood, then make improvements to put your value somewhere in between the median home prices and the most expensive prices.
By: Heather Levin
Friday, April 01 2011
The do-it-yourself home improvement market has faced a 21 percent drop from 2005-2010, according to the latest research from market researcher Mintel. Yet, that’s not due to lack of will on home owner's part, but more about lack of money, according to the survey.
More than a quarter of DIYers surveyed said they would undertake a major home renovation or addition to their home if they had the funds.
Nearly 40 percent of DIYers say that making a major home improvement is the best long-term investment they can make.
However, with the sagging housing market, many home owners have opted to put off major renovation projects, but forecasters are already seeing signs that is changing.
“We forecast growth to accelerate in 2011 and, presuming a stabilization of the housing market, to remain positive through 2015,” says Bill Patterson, senior analyst at Mintel. “Pent-up demand, ongoing need for repair and maintenance, retro-fitting, and renovations from boomers approaching retirement and demand from millennials should all propel DIY spending.”
Thursday, March 10 2011
Remodeling kitchen trends are creating stylish kitchens with cleaner lines, built-in dining, and pops of color, according to a recent article in RISMedia.
Here are some recent trends in kitchens across the country.
1. Built-in dining areas. Eat-in kitchens are in high demand as more remodelers are opting for extensions in counters that resemble a table, either in lower or higher height to the countertop. The counter extension is different than bar seating because diners can sit around the edge and face one another, and not just sit in a row. The counter extension saves space, offers an extra buffet service, and more kitchen storage, says Deanna Carleton of Kitchen Design Group.
2. Dressing up the kitchen with lighting. An affordable way to upgrade a kitchen is just by switching out the lights, designers say. For example, hand-blown glass shades on pendant lights, contemporary drum shades, and chandeliers can quickly update a kitchen. Layers of light continue to be popular, such as with a ceiling lighting fixture combined with under-counter lighting as well as ambient lights behind a glass-front door, designers say. LED under-counter lighting and LED recessed ceiling lights are also popular.
3. Pops of color. Neutral colors in the kitchen is the safe preference, but more kitchens are adding bolder pops of color--such as in persimmon or pomegranate--to spice up the kitchen. Colored knobs, kitchen accessories, and even appliances are bringing in these pops of color. Designers say pops of color can also be brought in by the fabric choice in kitchen window seats, the upholstered seats, or window valances.
4. Striving for simplistic luxury. Clean lines and transitional designs are “in” while ornate Tuscan and French country kitchen styles are falling out of favor in the kitchen. Betty Nairn of Cabinet-S-Top in Granger Township, Ohio, says “simplistic luxury” is the kitchen trend nowadays.
Source: "8 Areas to Pay Attention to When Updating Your Kitchen," RISMedia (March 5, 2011)
Tuesday, February 15 2011
February is a great time to accomplish simple tasks that will add to the value and appearance of your home. We hope that you are enjoying the unique experience of being a homeowner! We have done a little research and have compiled a list of quick, easy projects that you might enjoy!
If you need additional tips or advice, please feel free to call us anytime at 812-499-9234 for Rolando and 812-499-0246 for Kathy. We would be happy to hear from you and would love to offer any guidance that we can!
FIVE QUICK AND EASY HOME IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS
A few changes to the landscaping of your home can make a world of difference! You might want to consider planting some fruit trees in the backyard, adding a touch of color with some bright and unusual flowers or perhaps finally starting the vegetable garden you've always dreamed about.
Add a touch of color:
Feeling creative? Why not give the family room, bedroom or bathroom a whole new look? By focusing on the improvement of one room at a time, you'll find that what can seem like an overwhelming job becomes fun and simple. Repainting a single room can be inexpensively completed over a single weekend.
Bright and beautiful:
Replacing the light fixtures in your house with personally selected pieces can drastically increase your home's beauty and value. Choose a cohesive look for the entire house, or decorate room by room! The installation of new fixtures is generally a quick do-it-yourself task.
Tile it up:
While it might seem like a daunting task, installing new tile in a kitchen or bathroom can be easily accomplished with a little know-how and the right supplies. Your local home improvement warehouse will have everything you need to revamp and personalize the flooring of your choice!
The beauty beneath:
Always dreamed of having beautiful hardwood floors? Choose a room, pull up the carpet, and you'll be on your way to accomplishing just that! Repairing, refinishing and staining the floor is a simple step-by-step process that you can achieve without the heavy expense of installing new wood panels.
While it might seem like a daunting task, installing new tile in a kitchen or bathroom can be easily accomplished with a little know-how and the right supplies. Your local home improvement warehouse will have everything you need to revamp and personalize the flooring of your choice!Replacing the light fixtures in your house with personally selected pieces can drastically increase your home's beauty and value. Choose a cohesive look for the entire house, or decorate room by room! The installation of new fixtures is generally a quick do-it-yourself task. Feeling creative? Why not give the family room, bedroom or bathroom a whole new look? By focusing on the improvement of one room at a time, you'll find that what can seem like an overwhelming job becomes fun and simple. Repainting a single room can be inexpensively completed over a single weekend.
A few changes to the landscaping of your home can make a world of difference! You might want to consider planting some fruit trees in the backyard, adding a touch of color with some bright and unusual flowers or perhaps finally starting the vegetable garden you've always dreamed about.
Thursday, January 06 2011
FIVE TIPS FOR DO-IT-YOURSELF WORK AROUND THE HOME
· Make a list: Spend some time taking stock of the kinds of maintenance and improvement projects you'd like to begin. A well-considered list will help you to set reachable goals.
· Assess your skills: Make sure that you carefully consider which projects you are fully capable of completing. For example, unless you have sufficient experience with electrical, plumbing or construction work, you should probably leave those tasks to the professionals.
· Establish priorities: Which projects are most important to you? Which projects will be the most costly? Which is more important: timeliness, quality or cost? Before beginning any do-it-yourself project, it is always wise to determine specific goals and priorities so that you are fully prepared when it comes time to begin.
· Create a budget: For each project that you want to complete, make certain that you have a firm budget in place. Allowing for unexpected circumstances (such as errors or the need for additional materials) in your budget will keep you from overspending.
· One step at a time: When it's time to begin, remember to pace yourself! Rome wasn't built in a day, and your new garden terrace will take time as well. Complete one task at a time, and soon you'll feel the wonderful sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that doing-it-yourself can bring!
Wednesday, December 22 2010
As part of the 2010-11Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, REALTORS® recently rated exterior replacement projects among the most cost-effective home improvement projects, demonstrating that curb appeal remains one of the most important aspects of a home at resale time.
“This year’s Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report highlights the importance of exterior projects, which not only provide the most value, but also are among the least expensive improvements for a home,” said National Association of REALTORS® President Ron Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I. “Since resale value can vary by region, it’s smart for home owners to work with a REALTOR® through the remodeling and improvement process; they can provide insight into projects in their neighborhoods that will recoup the most when the owners are ready to sell.”
Nine of the top 10 most cost-effective projects nationally in terms of value recouped are exterior replacement projects. The steel entry door replacement remained the project that returned the most money, with an estimated 102.1 percent of cost recouped upon resale; it is also the only project in this year’s report that is expected to return more than the cost. The midrange garage door replacement, a new addition to the report this year, is expected to recoup 83.9 percent of costs. Both projects are small investments that cost little more than $1,200 each, on average. REALTORS® identified these two replacements as projects that can significantly improve a home’s curb appeal.
“Curb appeal remains king – it’s the first thing potential buyers notice when looking for a home, and it also demonstrates pride of ownership,” said Phipps.
The 2010-11Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report compares construction costs with resale values for 35 midrange and upscale remodeling projects comprising additions, remodels and replacements in 80 markets across the country. Data are grouped in nine U.S. regions, following the divisions established by the U.S. Census Bureau. This is the 13th consecutive year that the report, which is produced by Remodeling magazine publisher Hanley Wood, LLC, was completed in cooperation with REALTOR® Magazine.
REALTORS® provided their insight into local markets and buyer home preferences within those markets. Overall, REALTORS® estimated that home owners would recoup an average of 60 percent of their investment in 35 different improvement projects, down from an average of 63.8 percent last year. Remodeling projects, particularly higher cost upscale projects, have been losing resale value in recent years because of weak economic conditions.
According to the report, replacement projects usually outperform remodel and addition projects in resale value because they are among the least expensive and contribute to curb appeal. Various types of siding and window replacement projects were expected to return more than 70 percent of costs. Upscale fiber-cement siding replacement was judged by REALTORS® the most cost effective among siding projects, recouping 80 percent of costs. Among the window replacement projects covered, upscale vinyl window replacements were expected to recoup the most, 72.6 percent upon resale. Another exterior project, a wood deck addition, tied with a minor kitchen remodel for the fourth most profitable project recouping an estimated 72.8 percent of costs.
The top interior projects for resale value included an attic bedroom and a basement remodel. Both add living space without extending the footprint of the house. An attic bedroom addition costs more than $51,000 and recoups an estimated 72.2 percent nationally upon resale; a basement remodel costs more than $64,000 and recoups an estimated 70 percent. Improvement projects that are expected to return the least are a midrange home office remodel, recouping an estimated 45.8 percent; a backup power generator, recouping 48.5 percent; and a sunroom addition, recouping 48.6 percent of costs.
Although most regions followed the national trends, the regions that consistently were estimated to return a higher percentage of remodeling costs upon resale were the Pacific region of Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington; the West South Central region of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas; the East South Central region of Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee; and the South Atlantic region of the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.
The regions where REALTORS® generally reported the lowest percentage of costs recouped were New England (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont), East North Central (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin), West North Central (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota), and Middle Atlantic (New York and Pennsylvania).
“It’s important to remember that the resale value of a particular improvement project depends on several factors,” said Phipps. “Things such as the home’s overall condition, availability and condition of surrounding properties, location and the regional economic climate contribute to an estimated resale value. That’s why it is imperative to work with a REALTOR® who can provide insight and guidance into local market conditions whether you’re buying, selling or improving a home.”
Results of the report are summarized in the January issue of REALTOR® Magazine. To read the full project descriptions, access national and regional project data, and download a free PDF containing data for any of the 80 cities covered by the report, visit www.costvsvalue.com. “Cost vs. Value” is a registered trademark of Hanley Wood, LLC.
Hanley Wood, LLC, is the premier media company serving housing and construction. Through four operating divisions, the company produces award-winning magazines and websites, marquee trade shows and events, rich data, and custom marketing solutions. The company also is North America’s leading provider of home plans. Founded in 1976, Hanley Wood is a $240 million company owned by JPMorgan Partners, LLC, a private equity affiliate of JPMorgan Chase & Co.
REALTOR® Magazine is published by the National Association of REALTORS®, “The Voice for Real Estate” and America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
Thursday, October 21 2010
Monday, July 12 2010
Adding tile accents to your bathroom can turn a ho-hum space into a work of art! These tips on tile can help you design a bathroom that is sure to wow your guests.
Tile Design: Let the Beauty Begin!
Tile is a very versatile way to design a bathroom that is uniquely yours. These ideas can spark the creativity necessary for that beautiful bathroom tile design:
- Choose tile that mimics the soothing feeling of water. Light blue tiles, glass tiles, and tiles that cascade down in a variety of blue and cream colors can create a visual that reminds you of water. Tile the shower walls for a more dramatic feeling.
- Use vivid tile as an accent to liven up a rather neutral bath. Splashes of lively color can be a focal point in a sizable bathroom, or make a small bathroom seem larger.
- Want your bathroom to be a real show stopper? Consider mirrored tile throughout. Not only does it make the space seem larger, it adds a brilliance that can't be matched with any other option.
- Go earthy with rough tile in natural tones. Greens, browns, and deep reds can help bring the outside in, especially if you have large windows that offer a great deal of light.
- Why stick with one color or style? Mix and match bathroom tile colors and textures to add an interesting element to your bathroom. Contrasting colors can add an elegant depth that gets your guests talking.
- Geometric shapes and patterns work well for a contemporary or minimalist bathroom style. When you use small tiles of varying colors, the options are virtually endless.
- Make a splash with large granite and slate tiles in your shower. The natural textures and colors can make your shower feel more like a waterfall than a man-made structure.
- Want to make your shower even more interesting? Opt for shower tiles on the floor that look and feel like wide, flat rocks.
- Prove your eco-friendly savvy by opting for tiles made of recycled materials. Plastic bottles are often used to create tiles and the like; make sure the tiles you choose are as close to 100 percent recycled as you can get.
- Reach for heights of elegance in your bathroom with a decorative tile mosaic. Choose a design that suits your personal style and hire a professional to create your very personal work of art.
Both functional and decorative, tiles in the bathroom can turn a simple room into a beautiful oasis.
About the author: Shannon Dauphin is a freelance writer based near Nashville, Tennessee. Her house was built in 1901, so home repair and renovation have become her hobbies.
Wednesday, June 09 2010
Working with a contractor takes effort and know-how in order to keep your project on time and on budget.
You’ve chosen a great contractor, you have a clear and well-designed project plan, and now you’re ready to sit back and watch your dreams become a reality. Unfortunately, the hardest part of your job has yet to begin. No matter whom you’ve hired to construct your home improvement project, you’re going to have to actively manage the process in order to keep it on target, on time, and on budget.
Get apathetic or lose your focus for even a single day and you may pay for it—quite literally. Here’s what you need to know to stay organized and maintain strong communications with your contractor and construction team.
An allowance is a line item in the contractor’s bid for something that’s yet to be determined. Let’s say you haven’t chosen your plumbing hardware for your new master bathroom or the decking you’ll use for your new three-season porch. The contractor will put a number in the budget as a placeholder. But with such a wide range of price points for these products, his guess may be far lower than what you wind up spending, which can lead to cost overruns. Try to eliminate allowances by sorting out all of your material and product selections before the contractor gives you an itemized bid for the job. Otherwise, at least do enough shopping to give the contractor an accurate ballpark price for the materials you’re considering.
Establish a communication routine
Ask the contractor how he prefers to communicate with you. Depending on the size of the job and how his team operates, he may say that he’ll be on site to talk with you every morning before you leave for work. He may give you his cell phone number and say, “call me anytime,” or tell you that his foreman can handle whatever comes up. In any case, try to meet with the project leader at least once a day. This is an opportunity for you to hear progress reports and find out what work is scheduled over the coming days—and to ask your questions and voice any concerns you have.
Keep a project journal
Part scrapbook, part diary, part to-do list, a project journal will help you stay organized. Use a notebook to record progress, note things you want to ask your contractor, jot down ideas, record product order numbers, and anything else that comes along. It’ll help you keep things on track, communicate with the team, and provide a record of exactly who said what when—which could help you iron out disagreements later on.
Track all changes in writing
No matter how thorough your planning is, your home improvement job will inevitably evolve as it moves along. You may encounter unforeseen structural issues, or you may decide to include additional work as you see the project take shape. Any good contractor can handle these changes—just make sure that he bids them in writing first. Tell the contractor at the outset (and put in the contract) that you want to sign off on written change orders for anything that’s going to add to the bottom line of the job. That means he has to give you a bid (a description of the change and a fixed price for what it will cost) and you both have to sign it before the work is done. This eliminates the risk of expensive changes happening without clear communication about how much more you’re spending, and it helps you keep track your bottom line from one change to the next.
Check their work
It’s much easier to nip problems in the bud than to undo mistakes after the fact, so try to be proactive about checking your contractor’s work. As fixtures arrive on site, compare the model numbers on the boxes against your receipts, invoices, and the contractor’s bid to ensure that the right product was delivered. As walls get framed, check their locations and the locations of window and door openings against the blueprints. To the extent that it’s possible, conduct these investigations after hours or during lunch breaks so you don’t seem like you’re looking over the workers’ shoulders (even though you are).
Pay only for completed work
Money is power. As soon as you’ve paid the contractor, you no longer have the upper hand, so it’s crucial that you keep the payment schedule in line with the work schedule. The contract should establish a series of payments to be made when certain aspects of the job are completed. For example, your contract could stipulate that you’ll pay in three equal installments, with the last payment to be made after the project is complete, and after you and your contractor agree the work is satisfactory. Never put down more than 10% upfront; that’s too much cash to hand over before any work is complete. Your contractor should be able to get any necessary supplies on credit.
Be a good customer
One of the best ways to get quality work out of a construction crew is to make them enjoy working for you. That means being decisive with the contractor—and giving him a check promptly at the agreed-to points in the project. It also means being friendly and accommodating of the workers in your house: designating a bathroom that they can use, greeting them by name each morning, and perhaps serving them cold lemonade on a hot day. Complimenting their work (as long as you feel it’s worthy of praise) can be a great way to motivate them to do their best for you.
A former carpenter and newspaper reporter, Oliver Marks has been writing about home improvements for 16 years. He’s currently restoring his second fixer-upper with a mix of big hired projects and small do-it-himself jobs.
Thursday, December 17 2009
-- Don't ignore safety
This goes for any home-improvement project. Simple precautions like wearing safety goggles, not overloading outlets and turning off breakers will only take a few minutes or a few extra bucks -- but these steps can save you from disaster.
-- Don't forget about the subfloor
Laminate flooring needs an underlayment/vapor barrier for almost any surface upon which it is being installed. Not only will a subfloor protect flooring from moisture, it will also help with soundproofing. Hardwood floors need an even subfloor; use subfloor compound to ensure a level surface. If laying tile in a bathroom, cement backer board should be used underneath.
-- Don't skimp the grout sealer
You can spend a lot of time and money installing tile, but if you don't properly seal the grout it can absorb water, dirt and other stains.
-- Don't get the wrong pro
If you need to hire a pro, make sure the person is qualified for the job. Never let anyone other than a licensed electrician repair or alter the wiring in your home. The same goes for plumbing -- many states also require them to have a license or state certification.
-- Don't skip the primer
The key to a successful paint job is comprehensive preparation. A coat of primer will seal the surface, provide durability and create a solid bond for the paint to adhere. The only time primer may not be needed is when painting latex over latex, and the colors have a similar intensity.
-- Don't forget the building permits
The last thing anyone wants is to spend time and effort building a beautiful deck only to find out it must be ripped up because there was no permit. Check out the rules and regulations for building permits, codes and inspections before you start any remodeling project.
-- Don't get the wrong style of window
The wrong windows can have consequences on both the interior and exterior of the home. When choosing windows, make sure the style matches the appearance and architecture of your home's exterior. On the inside, windows will affect the light, ventilation and temperature of the house.