Category Archives: Home Maintenance

Your Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

When winter departs, it’s time to check for damage and prepare for hot weather ahead

March 17, 2018 Houzz Contributor. I cover topics ranging from decorating ideas, product picks, Houzz tours, and interviews with designers and architects, to the monthly home maintenance checklist. My favorite pieces to write center around the emotional aspects of home and savoring life’s simple pleasures. Blog + online workshops: https://www.lauragaskill.com/

What To Do When Your Pipes Freeze

Here’s how to thaw frozen pipes and avoid having them freeze in the future

January 6, 2018
Houzz Contributor. Hi there! I live in a 1920s cottage in Atlanta that I’ll describe as “collected.” I got into design via Landscape Architecture, which I studied at the University of Virginia. I’ve been writing about design online for quite a few years over at Hatch: The Design Public Blog.

Best Financial Investments for Your Home

Best Financial Investments for Your Home

Posted on Nov 22 2017 – 10:31am by Housecall576

financial investment

By Craig Middleton

Over the last couple of years, rehabbing TV shows have become increasingly popular. In these shows, people fix or introduce new features to their homes while adding substantial market value to the house in the process. If you own a home, you can make many of these types of fixes or additions to increase the value of your home, too. You can also enjoy these changes for as long as you live there. Some of the best financial investments you can make to your home include:

Major Problem Fixes

The first high-return investment you should make in your home is to correct all major problems. If your home has serious issues, such as a broken air conditioner or a pipe leak, fixing those issues should be priority No. 1. Repairing or replacing the roof and siding can be a great investment, and potential buyers will generally factor in both the time and cost of having to fix it. Problems like these are always easier to fix when they’re small than later after having put them off.

Exterior Improvements

Investing in the facade of a home can also bring great returns. Replacing garage doors is one of these investments. If your garage door looks new, your house will look new, as well. Painting the outside of your home is another good investment in the exterior. If you don’t want to take the time and money to fully repaint your home, pressure-washing can be a quick way to make the outside of your home look much more presentable.

Entryway Improvements

Another good investment is to invest in a new entryway door. Like the garage door, the front door is important in making a good first impression on a potential buyer. Replacing your front door with a steel door can also make your home safer; increasing the safety of your home can be another great selling point for a potential buyer. Replacing windows is another way to make the outside of your home look better, as well as improve the home’s energy efficiency.

Fixes and additions to the inside of your home can be a great financial investment. A fresh coat of paint to the interior can add value by making the home look cleaner and brighter.

Update Bathroom, Kitchen and Appliances

Improving your home’s bathroom, particularly visible elements such as vanities, lighting, toilets and tubs, can create a high return. For bathroom improvements, you may obtain a better return on investment by spending your money on items in the bathroom that a potential buyer would see, instead of completely gutting the bathroom.

Kitchen remodels can be another way to significantly improve the value of your home. For kitchen remodels, you’ll want to spend money on functional items such as cabinets, drawers, pantry doors and appliances. Appliances such as refrigerators don’t have to be completely new, but they should keep up with current trends. Kitchen remodels should also suit the home. A kitchen that looks like it belongs in a $300,000 home will feel out of place in a $150,000 home.

Adding high-efficiency appliances to a home can modernize it and also save you money on electricity. Some states and cities have tax programs that could reduce your taxes if you buy and use high-efficiency appliances that require less electricity.

Overall, you should research the investment potential of your home before making any purchase. If you are trying to increase the value of your home, you need to make sure your fix or addition will increase the value of the home not only for you, but also to potential buyers.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of RISMedia.

Winterize Your Home

Anne & Molly have compiled some easy to implement tips to winterize your home this season. We are actively doing our snow dances, with some potentially coming tonight, but the delayed start to the season gives you more time to prep! (Keep doing your snow dances! ❄️☃️💃)

How to Get Your Home Back in Shape After the Holidays

Putting your home in order can be a great way to transition from the holiday season to a fresh new year
December 27, 2017
Houzz Contributor. Jeanne Taylor is a professional home organizer in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the co-owner of Tailorly with her business partner Patricia Lee. Together they create beautiful homes through decluttering, organizing, and styling. For more information visit www.tailorly.net.

 

Wrap Presents! And 6 More Ways to Make the Most of This Weekend

Wrap Presents! And 6 More Ways to Make the Most of This Weekend

Light up the night, add a special touch to gifts, plan your holiday table and more

December 19, 2017
Houzz Contributor. I cover topics ranging from decorating ideas, product picks, Houzz tours, and interviews with designers and architects, to the monthly home maintenance checklist. My favorite pieces to write center around the emotional aspects of home and savoring life’s simple pleasures. 12 Days of Holiday Hygge (free course) enrolling now:https://www.lauragaskill.com/holiday-hygge

Dream to Done: How to Build a Renovation Plan to Match Your Budget (Houzz)

Work with pros to make sure your renovation hopes and dollars line up
July 26, 2016
Houzz Editorial Staff. Writing about the cost of renovation and what it takes to remodel. Former Forbes real estate reporter. Fascinated by cool homes, watching the bottom line.

Part 1 in a new series on how to remodel a home, from the initial vision to completion

As a client, you may feel like you have little influence over whether your remodeling project stays on budget and hits the finish line on time. But you have more control than you might think. Remember, the scope of your project and the specific materials are up to you.

The key to keeping a project on budget and on schedule is nailing down the details before ground breaks. If you’ve never renovated or built a new home, you may not be sure about how the seed of an idea turns into a completed project. Here’s a road map for two early steps: putting together your renovation team and nailing down your project’s cost.

Who Will Help You Build Your Vision?

Before you meet with a professional, you should know what you want to accomplish. Is your goal to tear out your entire kitchen and start fresh? Or are you looking for less costly upgrades, perhaps replacing cabinet fronts and a tired backsplash? Or do you want to remodel your whole house?

Some homeowners know only that the current home isn’t working for them but aren’t sure how to fix it. If you are in this group, you may decide to work with professionals who can help you develop a plan and advise you on cost. A recent survey showed that 85 percent of Houzzers who renovated in 2015 did so with professional help. The survey covered 120,000 registered Houzz users, including 70,000 who renovated.

What Exactly Do Pros Do?

The most important documents you will need are the construction plans. Your building plans must be approved by an agency to make sure the home is safe and meets local codes. So unless you are familiar with building codes and construction methods, you will want to hire a professional to draft these plans. Rules for which pros can draft plans vary by state (and in some states by county or municipality) and with the size and type of project. Look to the local building department or the professionals you contact to explain the rules in your area.

Each profession has its special emphasis. Architects and interior designers create concepts and draw plans. General contractors build the plans. Landscape architectscreate designs and plans for outdoor spaces. Design-build firms offer both design and building services, some with in-house architects, others by contracting the design work out. 

Houzz guides to home improvement pros

Houzzers who remodeled in 2015 said the most valuable contributions of general contractors and design-build firms were delivering a quality result, finding the right products and materials, staying on budget and managing the project.

Architects, interior designers, and kitchen and bath designers were appreciated for helping clients integrate their personal style into the design. Houzzers valued architects for understanding and complying with local building codes, and interior designers for finding the right products or materials. But these are only their most-appreciated contributions; each profession has a wide range of skills and resources to offer owners.

Ask About Options

Many pros offer a range of services, from initial design to project management, which may be priced as menu options or charged at per-hour rates. For just one example, architects can provide evaluation and planning services, which can involve site analysis and selection, economic feasibility studies and helping you determine what you want, need and are willing to pay for.

Architecture firms offer design services, including documents that define the space’s shape, and they may work closely with engineers as needed in relationship to the structural elements. They also may offer construction management services, involving consulting and coordinating with the various agencies overseeing your project, or manage the bidding process when you search for the right contractor. These are just a handful of the services your architect may provide, so it is worth asking about pricing and what is involved as you shop around. This AIA guide can be helpful. Also, there could be some overlap in the menus of services provided by the different pros, so be sure that you are clear on what you need and what services each will perform.

Even if you are not planning to hire a professional to design or manage your renovation, you may want to hire a pro on a per-hour basis to help you refine your ideas. “A small percentage of upfront money with a professional can really help clarify the scope of the project and the budget before you get too involved,” says John Firmin, general contractor at Build-A-Home Inc., in Fayetteville, Arkansas, who founded the firm 16 years ago.

Select Your First Team Member

When hiring your first design team member, you can start with a builder, architect, designer, design-build firm or remodeler, depending on your needs and priorities. If you already know a contractor whose work you like, he or she will probably have a list of architects and interior designers to recommend. That is also true if you start with other pros. You also can use Houzz’s directory to find individual professionals, see their past projects and read client reviews.

Narrow your list down to your favorites and then interview a few people. Ask for — and check — references, and drive out to see past projects. Also, see how it might feel to work together — make sure you have a rapport with the professional. You should find out whether they listen and whether they are good communicators, says Jon Dick, an architect with Archaeo Architects in Santa Fe, New Mexico, who has been practicing 30 years and worked on more than 100 homes. “Their design ability is very important,” Dick says. “But it’s also a long-term relationship. They’re going to ask pretty personal questions and know a fair amount about you.”

You should follow this same basic process with an interior designer, landscape architect, general contractor or design-build firm. Keep in mind that the average kitchen remodeltakes about five months once construction starts, but three times that long from initial design phase to completion, according to a recent Houzz survey. So the professionals you hire should be people you like and can communicate with.

Whether to Hire One Pro — or More

Which pros and how many you hire is up to you. Among Houzzers who hired pros for their renovation projects last year, nearly half hired a general contractor, builder, kitchen or bath remodeler, or design-build firm — the professionals who actually build the project. About 20 percent employed an architect, interior designer or kitchen and bath designer.

A recent Houzz survey found that 2015 home buyers spent $66,600 on renovations, while would-be 2016 home sellers spent $36,300 on renovations.

Be Up Front About Your Number

It’s helpful to be honest about your budget with the professionals you contact. Pros typically work with clients whose budgets are within a certain range. (Sometimes a pro’s range can be found on his or her Houzz profile.) If you fall in love with a pro whose projects start at $50,000, but you have $5,000 to spend, you’re probably not a match. Some homeowners pay a high-end designer to create the initial plan, only to realize that the products and materials suggested are out of range.

Homeowners without constrained budgets may be afraid to be too forthcoming for fear that pros will push them to spend more than they would like. That’s where checking references and finding people you can communicate with comes in. In the process of vetting the pros you are considering, you will find reputable people who will not push you but use your target number to help guide your plan. 

Some Averages to Go On

If you have never renovated or built a home, you may have no idea how much it’s going to cost. To give you a sense of average budgets, here are some recent stats: People renovating kitchens had budgets ranging from less than $5,000 to more than $100,000, according to a survey of nearly 2,500 owners conducted by Houzz. One-quarter of renovators had budgets of $25,001 to $50,000, while 20 percent had budgets of $15,001 to $25,000. Only 10 percent had budgets of $5,000 or less, and only 6 percent had budgets of more than $100,000. The range of figures here is national; it should be noted that renovation costs vary by region and even city.

That said, not everyone stays on budget — and that’s true regardless of geography. Only about one-third of Houzzers who renovated last year stayed on budget, while just 3 percent came in below budget. Another third exceeded their budgets, while the remaining third had no initial budget at all. Among those who exceeded their budgets, the top reason was selecting nicer finishes or materials.

Major kitchen renovations cost an average of $50,700 for spaces 200 square feet or larger, while major renos in smaller kitchens cost about half that, according to Houzz data. A major kitchen renovation includes at least replacing cabinets and appliances. Major master bathroom renovations cost an average $25,600 in rooms at least 100 square feet and about half that for smaller bathrooms. A major bath renovation includes at least replacing the vanity or cabinets and countertops and toilet. Doing it yourself, of course, is less costly.

Homeowner’s Workbook: How to Remodel Your Bathroom (Houzz)

I love Houzz, they are always one place I go for inspiration. Here’s some helpful tips to remodel your bathroom! 


Homeowner’s Workbook: How to Remodel Your Bathroom

Create a vision, make a budget, choose your style and materials, hire the right professionals, and get it done on time

February 2, 2016: Houzz Editorial Staff. Home design journalist writing about cool spaces, innovative trends, breaking news, industry analysis and humor.

Your Home Can Help You Recharge (Houzz)

Whether it’s an escape from the city, or a comfortable place to relax after playing hard in the mountains with family a mountain home can especially help you recharge.


Decorating 101: How to Choose Your Colors

Learn where to look for palette inspiration — and one commonly advised place maybe you shouldn’t…

June 14, 2014
Houzz Contributor.