Home Improvement for The Ladies!

Your Own Homes Improvement Outline

(One for the Ladies)

Let me begin by saying what a home improvement plan will not do! I have seen this happen more than once, so I will say this now. A home improvement project, addition, upgrade, remodel, or makeover will not make up for a troubled marriage. So for those that think home improvement may save a marriage, I’m telling you now that it will add more stress and it is a poor substitute for proper counseling.

With that said, when you see a home being sold due to a divorce, take a good look at the house because you may see evidence of a great remodel job. However, the marriage still failed. The scenario above leads into other areas of home remodel, acquisition and selling points. Gentlemen, pay attention here! It is generally recognized that women are responsible for 80% of all decisions on whether or not to purchase a particular home.

So what influences the ladies in their decisions concerning home purchases and remodeling? By far the two biggest items are the kitchen and the bath. If I had to choose one or the other, I believe I would look at which area was in need of the remodel more, while at the same time looking at the costs of both options.

As for the men, what do they want? They would be happy with a large garage/workshop plus a secluded den or office to carry on with business or to retreat to the solitude of a “cave.” Men, as we can see, really don’t spend as much time feathering the nest so as a result we see that contrary to popular belief, men really tend to follow the female’s lead.

Generally speaking, you’ll find that men don’t pay much attention to draperies, window treatments, flower boxes, state of the art appliances, Jacuzzi tubs, well-lit bathrooms, large closets or floral patterns of any kind. They often prefer brown and gray everything, with a big garage, a shed, a sprinkler system and a privacy fenced back yard for barbeques and lounging in private. Men also like low maintenance houses so they aren’t constantly being asked to fix or repair things. If left up to the men to decide, you would find that faucets, toilets, sinks, baths, floors, mirrors, cabinetry, appliances and furnishings would tend to be favored by their industrial strength qualities as opposed to beauty.

Those are general observations and many times they will not apply. However, by keeping them in mind and using the 80/20 rule, they may help in the decision making process. So now using what we know, it would be wise to slant your remodel towards the light and bright feminine side of life. It seems to make sense that if the women are the decision makers then we should let them decide on what really needs attention first!

Let’s look at the kitchen first. Can you paint or refinish the cabinetry and change the knobs and handles to get the new look? Would new Formica laminate over the old counter tops with a matching backsplash do the trick? Maybe a white ceramic sink with a new faucet will achieve the desired effect. Quite possibly you may decide to rip it all out. If that is the case, then paint the walls and consider tiling the floor also. Often times, adding some minor electrical and lighting upgrades will help transform and modernize the entire effort. Don’t forget the new built in dishwasher and plumbing as well.

Custom cabinets, if designed, built and installed by a local reputable cabinetmaker with references and a picture book of previous work done, are often very attractive in price and quality. I use craftsmen with low overhead who work on one job at a time. Often I will ask them to make, in addition to the kitchen, a base cabinet for the bathroom to match, all for one low price. When working with kitchens I always look to see if a wall can be opened up to create a pass through or bar stool counter top. This lets in more light and allows the person in the kitchen to talk with and see the people in the adjoining room. It also creates the effect of a more spacious kitchen.

The bottom line is that a well-lit, light, bright and spacious kitchen, well equipped with modern appliances, plenty of storage space and decorative tiles, paint and window treatments, will add value and appeal to any home’s remodel plan.

Next, lets look at remodeling the bathroom. Here again, we look to the feminine side as the women seem to spend more time here then the men. So with the ladies in mind concerning the upgrade, I will often bite the bullet and rip it all out, the tub being the only exception! If I can leave the tub in, the job is easier, faster and cheaper. However, if I am looking at an olive green or yellowed chipped up and rusting ceramic eyesore, than a new fiberglass insert with a sliding glass door is going on my list of items to buy at the local Home Depot.

Jet tubs are the in thing, so I won’t rule them out as a possible upgrade. This decision again is based on the female as most men don’t take candlelit bubble baths or require a pulsating massage. Walls are painted with Sherwin Williams semi-gloss paint which creates an excellent moisture barrier to the walls. With regard to walls, by adding tile or laminate half-wall wainscoting to the lower three to four feet of the wall, you’ll add a nice touch. Since you have torn out the old toilet and base cabinet, now is also the perfect time to rip up the old vinyl and put down ceramic floor tile before the new fixtures are installed.
New lighting, mirrored vanity cabinets, G.F.I. electrical outlets, wallpaper borders, towel rings and bars are usually the finishing touch. Even a man can appreciate coming home to a spacious, clean, modern, functional and aesthetically pleasing kitchen and bath. One final note here: Be sure to caulk everything when you’re through. You’ll want to protect your new investment from rotting, from the inside out. Dampness and wood eating insects are your homes worst enemies.

Now with the kitchen and bath out of the way, what do you feel is next? I myself spend on average about seven hours a day in the bedroom, so I tend to go there next. Once again, the closet is of importance to the ladies so I will look to paint that bright white, upgrade the lighting and install a closet organizing system to maximize the space that is available. A tip for the guys! Put in a shoe rack for the ladies, as most of you wouldn’t even think about that little upgrade.

Once the closet is done, I’m back patching and painting the rest of the room. Another smart thing you can do is to let the female decide on what color of Sherwin Williams brand satin super paint they would like to have applied. I always make sure I get enough paint to do the ceiling as well because when you’re on your back, you will be looking at it. Once the walls and ceiling are done, the ceiling fan with light kit and dimmer switch go in. Then the baseboards are prepared for installation before the carpet goes down. Usually I paint them a shade darker than the walls and tack them to the wall about one-half inch above the floor.

Now that the paint is put away, it’s time to install the plush carpet and a dense quality pad beneath it. In order to really bring the room together you will need to take a paint swatch or chip to the carpet dealer to choose the carpet color that really sets off the walls and base board trim. As for final touches, those include mini blinds, a curtain, and decorative switch plates and receptacle covers. A solid core door represents today’s modern standards with a keyed lock set for security, so I will add that factor in too. Just add candles and you’re done!

As for the rest of the house, I will choose one-color paint and use it throughout all the remaining areas that are to be lightened and brightened. Earth tone, eggshell or tan sand colors are a neutral favorite of many, so unless you have a floor that is going to clash with it, earth tones are a safe bet. Speaking of floors, I will follow appraisal rules that tell me wood is better than carpet, except in bedrooms. And tile is better than vinyl. With that in mind, I will use tile and Pergo flooring everywhere else. Once the tile and wood are installed, I never have to replace it and maintenance is a breeze. The appraiser also looks upon wood and tile as an upgrade, so at the earliest opportunity, they are getting incorporated in my plans.

There you have it! A general Joe homeowner remodel job, but what about the infamous addition? With this consideration, you’ll have many more options to weigh, so let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of adding square footage.

When does it make sense to add square footage?

#1. Is it physically possible, legally permissible, and financially feasible? Will the new addition serve your intended purpose to the maximum extent?

#2. Does the current floor plan, layout or design of your home allow for a smooth flowing traffic pattern in, out and through the proposed addition?

#3. Will your lot size accommodate a larger dwelling and will the neighborhood surrounding your home support the higher value that you expend?

#4. How long do you intend to stay in the house that this upgrade is planned for? Five years from now, will the addition return, dollar for dollar, the money you have spent to the sales price of the home if you sold it?

#5. Are you prepared to deal with draftsmen and plans development, contractors, building officials and permits? Will you mind living on a construction site for about 6 months? Are your finances in place with an additional 10% set aside for cost overruns? Has everyone agreed upon what this addition should look like and the purpose it will serve?

Let us say you have considered the above and would like to continue towards the improvement. From here, we should consider the economic principle of what is called progression. Example: You have a 2-bedroom, 1-bath home, located in a neighborhood of more expensive 3-bedroom, 2-bath homes. In this case you could, with more certainty, add another bedroom and bath and expect to be able to realize or achieve the value from the addition’s expense as the more expensive homes around you will tend to pull the value of your home up along with theirs.

Now the reverse is also true, so you must consider the opposite case that is called the principle of regression. That says that if you over-improve beyond the value of the homes that are surrounding you, then those lower value homes will tend to keep the value of your home in the lower price ranges. So putting it another way, try not to pass the point of diminishing returns. In essence, saying that you can only improve so much before you reach a point where, for every dollar you spend, you will receive less of that same dollar back when you sell.

A good rule of thumb to use is to try to get at least two dollars of increased value for every dollar you spend. Once you begin to approach “break-even,” then you should consider maintaining what you have as opposed to adding to it. A simple way to say it: Don’t over-improve!

Another watchword to know is super-adequacy. That would be like putting gold faucets in a mobile home. It’s overkill and too high-end for the properties overall value, so the final decision on remodeling and additions comes down to balance and a happy medium being reached. Also, take into consideration the cost, aggravation, the net gain, the need for improvement, the improved quality of life, the suitability to all occupants taste, needs and desires and in the end the ability to receive a higher sales price.

I choose to remodel more often than add-on because it goes much faster and the profits role in quicker too. If I need more space to live in, I simply remodel the house I’m in and rent it out for top dollar, and then get an equity line to buy a bigger house! When remodeling my own home I will attempt to do everything myself, aside from building cabinets or rewiring electrical circuits. As with everything else, if I get in over my head, I will concede defeat and call in an expert to finish what I started while I learn where I went wrong by watching them finish it up.

Here are a few parting shots that you may or may not know:

Painting everything inside and out is the greatest value producing improvement that you can make on a dollar for dollar return basis. When painting, ensure you buy the absolute best paint available, as it is true that the expense of painting lays in the application of the paint not the paint itself. So if you have to apply two coats because of an inferior watered down paint then the cost just doubled in time and the added paint needed to get the job done.

This next tip alone will save you the cost of this entire book and here it is. Without naming any names, whether it be the manufacturer or the distributor of the product, there is a problem out there with what used to be considered top brand, quality paints. It has been said that some manufacturers have thinned out their paint and left their good name on, all in the name of allowing certain retailers the ability to sell hundreds of thousands of gallons a month at what appears to be a bargain price. Unfortunately, the consumer is fooled by the name and ends up coming back for more paint when they find that it takes more of the thinned out product to get complete coverage.

I, for one, as you can well see by now, am a real fan of Sherwin Williams brand, super paint. This blend is so superior in my mind to any other paint available to the little guy, that I refuse to use anything else. I have applied it to exterior walls located in the worst conditions and climates and ten years later its still as good as the day I put it on. The elasticity, color and protection are still in place with absolutely no chalking, cracking or deterioration of any kind, The same goes for interior paint as well. The coverage and wash ability are unmatched!

I also would like to say Sherwin Williams has not paid me to say one word of this. It is for your sole benefit that I harp on it to the degree that I do, as it burns me to no end to see trusting people get ripped off and not even know it!

But wait! It gets even worse. As if to add insult to injury, the retailers don’t really even shoot for the highest profit margin on the paint. They make their profit when you start buying all the tape, rollers, trays, brushes, handles, scrapers, sand paper, buckets, screens and new fangled gadgetry along with a host of other products that may be required to finish all phases of the job at hand.

Has anyone ever told you that? If you doubt it, take a viscosity cup and run the super paint through it and then do the same with the other paint. After this test, you will need no further proof of which paint is going to save you time and money in the long run.

Well, enough said. I hope you get the point on paint. Now another thing you can do to improve your home substantially is landscape it. Landscaping, if done right, can add up to 30% to the value of your home. I prefer to plant shrubbery and low maintenance hardy plants and trees of all types. A few flowers to add color and my job is done.

Back to the addition. If you decide to add a room or two, it has also been proven that you can save about 30% here too by being your own contractor. I would encourage you to get a book titled, “How to Be Your Own Contractor,” as it will often take an entire book to give you a proper grounding on the subject. Just know this! It is entirely within your realm of ability to tackle the over site and scheduling that you would pay that 30% to the general contractor to do. If you feel up to the task, get a book and be vigilant. In the end, you will have that new addition at a significantly lower price.

Home Improvement on a Smaller Budget

When it comes to remodeling to any degree, many people are put off by the large price tags that come with the work. What may come as a surprise is that home improvement on a budget is very doable with the right research and dedication. This does not mean that there is some secret method of getting the highest quality appliances and materials at a cheap price, but it does mean that many changes and improvements can be made within any budget range so that your house can be the best that you can make it to be.

There are some general things to keep in mind when trying to make home improvements on a budget. Do not try to copy all the people on television. The prices that are quoted are often much lower than actual cost and give people false hopes on what can be accomplished. Be specific in planning what you ask for so that a budget can be made out to only cover those items included. If you decide to drop something from the list, leave it dropped because adding in work half way can double costs. In general there needs to be a financial cushion slightly over any planned budget if rather large projects are being planned.

Other than that there many cost effective ways to accomplish many remodeling desires. Alternative methods should be considered in order to save the most amount of money. One common way to increase unnecessary expenditures is to have square footage added to a room. This is most commonly done in kitchens when people are looking to add more up-to-date appliances and cabinets. In many cases, proper planning and rearranging can make a small space fit much bigger objects without the added cost of demolition. If demolition must be done, consider doing whatever possible on your own to save on labor costs.

On the same note, many small projects can be done by simply reading some instructions. If a person has the time and the tools available, home improvement on a budget is much easier to accomplish. When rather large projects are being considered, always consult with and consider hiring a professional. Sometimes it can be much more costly hiring someone to fix bad work than it would have been just hiring someone experienced to do the job initially. Planning is also essential. When projects are planned out as much as possible, decisions can easily be made with a lesser chance of being swayed to pay for bigger, better things.

This also reduces the chance of mistakes occurring. Another way to reduce mistakes is to try to focus on projects that will be the less invasive. An example of this is the addition of natural light to places like internal bathrooms or hallways. In can cost a good chunk of money to have windows installed because they must be structurally sound with the framework of the house while simple light tubes through the ceiling can have the same effect at a quarter of the cost. With some research, there are many other ways for a person to efficiently perform home improvements on a budget.

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

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 Remodeling and Home Improvements – Make Your Dream Home a Reality

Are you looking for some home improvement, or possibly to remodel your home? Are you unsure where to start. Is the mere thought of the cost making you nervous? There are so many ways that you can make changes to your home that will not be too expensive. Maybe you could do one or two rooms now and then in another couple of years, make some more changes.

But even if you don’t yet have the money to remodel your home, you can definitely dream about it and you should start designing it.

There are many websites that offer you the capability of building your dream home online. Using these websites, you can go through the different rooms and select all the different designs and furnishings, as well as windows and lamp-shades for every part of the house.

Some of the available things you can do in a house.

New construction and room additions, kitchen and bathroom remodeling, roofing and gutters, adding a swimming pool, painting, flooring, windows, and much much more.

For example, you decide to build a virtual kitchen plan online. You begin with the layout of the room, do you want a separate kitchen and dinette, or are you looking for an ‘Eat-In’ kitchen?

You then choose the layout of the room, where to place the counters, cabinets, appliances and sinks. Whether or not to include an island in your kitchen, and placement of mechanicals (such as electricity, gas, and plumbing.)

Once you have selected the general floor plan, it is time to start choosing from seemingly endless options of floors, paint colors, and moldings. Next you begin to add the counters and cabinets. Will it be pressed wood or hardwood, will the counters be Formica or granite, Will the back-splash be part of your counter tops, or will it be tiled?

Then you add the appliances. The fixed appliances, such as refrigerator, oven, stove top, microwave oven, and dishwashers. As well as counter top appliances, such as food processors, bread machines, mixers, and blenders.

Once your kitchen looks complete, it still is not! There are still so many accessories to choose from, and add. Hardware, such as drawer pulls or knobs. Task-lighting for the counter tops. You can also install Child-Safe cabinet, drawer, and appliance locks.

Storage compartments can also be added into each cabinet, and drawer. There are specialized drawers for utensils, and for pots. There are roll out drawers made specially for cabinets to maximize space as well as keeping things organized.

There are endless, endless possibilities for customizing your kitchen (as well as the rest of your home), to suit your own personal taste and budget.

It can be really exciting to plan and will definitely make you want to remodel your home that much sooner.

So if you are ready for some home remodeling, go online and shop around. Read reviews and get the best deal. You can even get a great payment plan so that you can spread the cost over a certain amount of time.

How to Avoid Common Mistakes in Home Improvement

Spring and summer are the ideal seasons for home improvement, whether you’re just focusing on window replacement or you’re knocking down walls to turn your dining room into a bowling alley – the weather is ideal and it can create a bit of chaotic zeal in homeowners. Sometimes the excitement of the seasonal change as well as the potential change in the home leads to mistakes in the home improvement process. Here are some of the more common mistakes… hopefully with the proper forethought you can avoid them.

Water Cutoffs – Before you start any renovation project in your home, even if you’re using a general contractor, you need to locate the water cutoff in your home as well as at the street level. This is especially true if you’re doing any renovation or improvement on the wet work areas of your home (kitchen, bathroom, etc.) If you know where the cutoff is you can quickly address an issue if disaster strikes.

Minimize Dust and Debris – Homeowners often neglect to consider that renovation and remodeling is messy. If there’s demolition involved of any sort, it’s even more so. Take the time to prep the work area for containment to minimize dust and debris from traveling around your home. Use plastic sheets for floors and hang drapes or screens in the work area. At the end of every work session, go over your area with a shop vac.

Don’t Rush – It might be fun to start swinging a sledge hammer to take down a wall, but don’t rush into any home improvement gig, especially where there’s demolition involved. Informed and careful remodeling is safe remodeling. Shut down electricity, check for load-bearing wall placement, cut water to the demo area, locate studs, pipes and wires, cut investigative holes in walls – make sure you know what you’re getting into when you prep to rearrange the floor plan of your home.

Protect Surfaces – If you have finished surfaces in your home, then mask them off. This includes cabinets, walls, baseboards, flouring, trim, etc. If you have tile work and finished countertops, cover those as well. There’s always the potential for dropped tools, flying debris, sharp debris, spills and other incidents that could mar the surfaces in your home.

Plan Around Plumbing – You might think you’ve got this home improvement gig in the bag but plumbing has a way of being a pain for many homeowners that shoot for DIY projects. Jobs also have a way of expanding suddenly as they deviate from the plans. Make sure you have end-stop fitting caps to close off pipes if you can’t finish in a day. This way you can turn your water back on.

Protect Floors – If you’re remodeling in a space with appliances then you need to protect your floors. Put down carpet or Masonite so that you can roll appliances around easily. Make sure the floor is clean and swept so that debris, dust and dirt can’t scratch the surface while you’re moving items around.