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Home Improvements – Tricks of the Trade

When it comes to home improvements and building contractors, there are some tricks of the trade you need to be aware of, especially if you’re looking to hire one for a job you’re considering.

When it comes to building contractors and home improvements, it pays to know the tricks of the trade BEFORE you sign on the dotted line.

We have more tips and advice for you on Home Improvements. Just click on the link under “Myrtle Beach Home Improvements” in the Categories listing to the right.

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Home Improvements That Never Go Out of Style

Home Improvements That Never Go Out of StyleIf you’re looking to remodel or upgrade your house these days, creating lasting value is sure to be a top concern. You’ll want to add features that won’t be outdated just a few years from now — reducing your home’s marketability and making your house look like it just crawled out of a time machine. Many people have the idea that a home remodel has to involve a new kitchen or bathroom. But some simpler, less expensive projects, can also bring lasting value to your home.

Lighting: Adequate light is more than just brightness — it’s a major contributor to our sense of comfort and well-being. Good interior lighting reduces fatigue and stress by reducing strain on eyes; outdoor lighting adds curb appeal and safety. Interior and exterior lighting fixtures — recessed ceiling lights, sconces, track lights, and flood lights — contribute to the overall value of a house and property, making it more marketable when it comes time to sell.

Storage: Storage is one of the most sought-after features of prospective home buyers, and built-in storage solutions always deliver. Built-ins have a neat, fitted appearance that takes advantage of every available square inch of wall area. Because they make use of existing structural components, such as wall studs, built-ins generally cost less than free-standing furniture of comparable size, quality, and function. Fit built-in storage solutions under stairs, as window seats, and in closets.

Paint: From boring beige to rocketing red, your rooms will never go out of style. Why? Because you can easily redo them — a new paint job is one of the simplest, least-expensive of all remodeling projects. A Do-It-Yourself paint job on a 12-by-12-foot room costs only about $150 for paint and painting tools; if you’re not the do-it-yourself type and need to hire someone, expect to pay a licensed paint contractor $300-$400.

Wood Floors: Shag carpets come and go, but wood flooring has the uncanny ability to look great in any setting, whether traditional, contemporary, or country. The warm, upscale ambience of wood floors helps preserve the value of your home, and the cost isn’t prohibitive: Pre-finished wood floors in oak, maple, and bamboo run $8-$12 per square foot, installed.

Molding: Adding architectural interest with trims and moldings is a good way to bring rooms to life. Little details can have a big impact when it comes to creating homes that really stand out. You’ll pay $1-$3 per linear foot for a 5-inch-wide, paint-grade crown molding; $1.50-$6.50 for wood.

Stonescaping: Masonry materials used to create walkways, patios, and retaining walls helps define and shape outdoor spaces. Making your yard usable for sitting and strolling increases living area, which contributes to your property’s value. Materials, such as brick and stone, are virtually indestructible, readily available, and have timeless good looks. You’ll pay $17-$28 per square foot for professionally installed natural stone pavers.

5 Tips For A Cheaper Winter

When it comes to bang-for-your buck home improvement projects, there are few that top making your home more energy efficient.

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Remodeling Mistakes Homeowners Make

House Remodeling Tips and MistakesBecause fewer and fewer people are deciding to take the plunge into the troubled waters of buying or selling a home, remodeling projects are on the rise. Instead, home owners are refinancing and investing more into their existing homes to make them more comfortable, to modernize them or perhaps to make it easier to sell in this competitive market.

In their haste to make their house beautiful, people face a lot of the same problems over and over again. Whatever the reason for the remodel, it’s important to do your research and plan, plan, plan, so you don’t make many of these common remodeling mistakes.

Setting an Unrealistic Budget

Most homeowners underestimate their budget by at least 25 percent. As you can imagine, not having enough money to complete a project can not only stress you out, but can also force you to live with a half-finished project for a lot longer than you expected. Most experts suggest calculating your budget and then increasing it by 20 percent. It will help provide a financial buffer zone for when you run into unexpected costs – like finding out your kitchen pipes had a leak when all you budgeted for was a new countertop and sink.

Keeping Up with the Joneses

One of the biggest mistakes people make is remodeling or redesigning a space for what’s most popular right now. The more trendy the project, the more likely it will feel out-of-date in a few years. That’s not to say you shouldn’t update your home to match your style and interests, but if you’re looking to sell in the near future, do not get hung up on trends. A good idea would be to match the redesign to the style of your home. If you have a craftsman style bungalow, chances are investing in a very stark modern industrial look isn’t going to age well. Investing in classic styles with spots of your personality thrown in here and there will always stand the test of time.

Over-Improving

A lot of the time, homeowners invest in remodeling their home hoping that when they do sell, they will be able to maximize their return on investment. However, they fail to consider the quality and state of the homes in their neighborhood. Say you invest in a $50,000 swimming pool, top-of-the-line products – marble counters, glass and imported hardwoods – to make your remodel a true showplace, but the rest of the homes in the neighborhood are modest and average, then you run the risk of having an even more difficult time selling the home.

You will be hard pressed to find someone to pay $250,000 for a home with extra amenities in a neighborhood with $100,000 properties.

Doing it Yourself

This is probably the biggest problem homeowners make when deciding to remodel. In order to keep budgets low or reduce the costs of some projects, many homeowners think they can tackle big projects themselves. HUGE MISTAKE. Unless you have the right tools, training and connections, you could actually cause more problems down the line – including doubling your budget when you have to call a professional to come in and fix your mistakes.

Remember, when hiring a contractor, don’t try to cheap out by hiring the contractor who simply offers the lowest bid. It’s easy to find someone who will charge less just to get the job. It’s harder to find one who not only fits within your budget and your personality, but also is licensed, insured and comes with a list of great references.

Winterize Your Myrtle Beach Home – Save on Heating Costs

Tips to Winterize Your HomeWith temperatures falling and meteorologists predicting a colder than normal winter, the easiest and most cost efficient way to keep your home’s heat inside, while keeping your heating bill respectable, is to add fresh insulation to your attic, ceilings, basement, and walls.  Mark Wolf (of the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association) states that these do-it-yourself home upgrades could cause instant energy savings between 10 and 20%.

Here is a list of four cheap and easy tweaks to seal up and insulate your home that will surely lower your heating bill this winter.

  • Update Your Thermostat– Cost $80, Yearly savings $200+According to Consumer Reports, a memory management thermostat unit can cut 20% from your heating and cooling bill. You can program the thermostat unit to save heat while you sleep and wake up to a warm and toasty home in the morning by upgrading to a programmable thermostat.

 

  • Weatherize your Doors and Windows– Cost $100, Yearly savings $200+This is an important, yet easy step to insulating your home. First, apply water-based acrylic caulk to seal small leaks around doors and windows.  Second apply weather stripping to your doorframes to seal air leaks around movable joints. Last, apply shrink film to old windows, single-pane windows, or unused openings (like a small pet door) to keep cold air out and warm air inside.

 

  • Insulate Water Heater (Pipes)– Cost $30, Yearly savings $200Exposed hot water pipes can lower water temperature at the tap by as many as four degrees. Insulating these exposed pipes on your water heater with fiberglass or foam sleeves costs less than $30 in most cases and can save you five times that amount yearly (via heating bill).  An insulating blanket for the tank of your water heater costs $20  but will save you nearly 9% on your heating bill.

 

  • Cover Wall Openings– Cost $50, Yearly savings $150Spray insulating foam sealant around the holes for outdoor faucets, wiring, and outlets. Nearly 15% of air leakage manifests at wall openings.  Foam sealant will keep the cold air from entering through these small openings.

Inflation is elevating the cost of living in many facets of life, but a lower heating and cooling bill can be obtained through the methods listed above.  Insulate your home properly and beat the winter chill with lower heating bills.

Federal energy tax credits were eliminated on December 31st of last year, meaning, home improvements on insulation can no longer qualify for the $1,500 tax credit.

5 Renovations That Are Cheaper in the Summer

Depending on where you live and the local climate, the summer months can be an ideal time to do home renovations, especially if outdoor work is involved.

Here are ideas for projects that can be completed more efficiently in the summer and may save you time and money along the way:

Driveway paving

If you have an asphalt driveway that’s loaded with patches of grass growing through the cracks, summer is the best season to have it redone. The main reason is that asphalt is much easier to work with in higher temperatures, so you can avoid problems and additional costs by doing it right the first time.

Creating a smooth asphalt surface requires time and high temperatures to prevent the material from prematurely hardening. The lower the temperature dips, the less time the contractor will have to evenly spread the asphalt to form a level surface. Otherwise, you may be left with an irregular surface with bumps and valleys.

Home addition

Adding a room or an upper floor will require you to open up your home to the elements. Doing this during the summer will likely minimize the exposure and allow the work to be completed more quickly. It will also probably save you money in the process.

Finish the design work and find a contractor several months before the work will start. You don’t want to be held up because materials aren’t available or the permit process hasn’t been completed. If there isn’t time to get something this major done this summer, think about postponing that major addition until next year.

Kitchen

If you plan to gut your kitchen and do a complete remodel, you may be faced with eating in restaurants until the work is finished. Since that can get expensive, another alternative is to cook outdoors. If you have a grill and burner, you’ve already got what you need to cook a majority of your meals.

Move your refrigerator to another room or into the garage. Use paper or plastic plates and utensils if you don’t have access to your kitchen sink or dishwasher. If you’ve ever considered adding an outdoor kitchen, this would be the time to do it. It will add to your enjoyment of the outdoors once your inside kitchen is completed.

Prepare for your kitchen remodel early in the year, after the holidays. Once you have a plan, purchase the materials that you will need. Many retailers conduct some of their best sales in January and February to clear out their unsold Christmas inventories. It’s a good time to buy appliances, tile, fixtures, lighting and new cabinetry. If any of your items require special ordering, this will ensure that everything arrives in time for the work to begin on schedule. You’ll also get more attention from design consultants who can help you put your kitchen layout together.

Again, just like with the major addition above, if there isn’t enough time left in the warm season to do this, think about better planning next year, and take advantage of times when you can catch things on sale and not pay full price for them.

Landscaping

The summer months are also a good time to upgrade your landscaping and home exterior. If you’re thinking about saving time and money maintaining your yard, consider a landscape design that incorporates native plants that don’t require much water or fertilizer. It’s also a good time to install an automatic sprinkler system that is timed to turn on and off at the best times of day.

Incorporate a wide variety of flora that will enhance the look and texture of your landscape. If you enjoy wildlife, consider plants that attract the types of birds and other animals that you’d like to see. You might add some solar-powered lights to accentuate walkways and decks.

You can also save money and add color and diversity by planting your own garden. Initially, you may incur some cost to create the right soil conditions, but the long-term payoff is enjoying your own fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers.

In-ground pool and deck

If you live in a climate where the ground freezes, you have to wait for the thaw before you can do any serious digging in your yard. Start this project during spring and finish it in time to enjoy for most of the summer.

Warmer temperatures are also needed for properly installing and curing the materials used to construct the pool. These include gunite, plaster, cement and certain polymer compounds.

One way to save on a pool is to find one or more neighbors who want to install a pool similar to yours. Since pools are constructed in stages, it’s more efficient and less costly to a contractor to simultaneously build more than one. The savings could be applied to installing a new deck area around the pool. Beyond the enjoyment value, it will add to your home’s resale potential.

Bottom Line

Summer is a good time to get things done outside, when some contractors may be looking for work. Accomplish common maintenance items such as caulking windows, applying weather stripping, cleaning gutters, washing windows, repairing fences, treating wooden decks, painting the exterior or adding siding. Do your homework and get multiple estimates before you commit to anything.

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