Thursday, August 28, 2014

To Remodel or Not to Remodel - That is the question

To Remodel or Not: 5 Deciding Factors

by David Hollies
Home Remodeling
For most of us, homes are not only where we live, but also our single biggest investment. As a living space, a home's design and condition impact our lives day in and day out. As an investment, we seek to preserve and enhance value in the marketplace.
When considering remodeling and improvement projects, we must consider both roles. In general, a well-maintained home yields better day-to-day service and long-term financial returns. Taking care of repairs as they arise makes sense, so problems are solved while still small, and the home remains a safe and comfortable place in which to live. Renovations, remodeling and other major home improvements are more complex.
The best starting point is your own home improvement needs. How much more do you think you will enjoy your home if you remodel or put in an addition? How long do you think you'll stay in the house?
If you are planning to stay in the house ten years or more, most of your decision should be made based on how much the enhancements will improve your lifestyle.
If your length of stay is shorter, uncertain, or a contemplated project is quite large, you have to pay more attention to the improvement's impact on probable resale value.
While every real estate market is different, you probably already know quite a bit about your area's real estate market simply because you live there. With that knowledge and an understanding of the 5 D's of remodeling, you should be in a position to sort out all the advice you'll get from general contractors, neighbors, home magazines and family members. The five D's are:
  • Distance
  • Deficiency
  • Distinctiveness
  • Demand
  • Degree
Remodeling Factor #1: Distance
Distance, or curb appeal, has to do with how well the property looks from the street before a person gets out of a car and takes a closer look. If someone doesn't have any interest at first glance, you'll never get them inside.
Things that give your home better curb appeal generally have a high rate of return. Landscaping, the front entrance, and the condition of the paint or siding are the biggest factors in curb appeal.
When it comes to landscaping, nothing elaborate is necessary. Well-trimmed foundation plantings, potted plants at the corners of the front porch, a groomed lawn and mulched flower beds all contribute to the house's appeal. Flowers certainly add to curb appeal, but it may be better to add them at the last minute depending on seasonal considerations.
The front entrance can be a big draw and seems to play a large role in curb appeal. The door should be in good shape with a fresh coat of paint. New hardware can also upgrade its appearance. If the houses on your street look alike, it might be worth adding more elaborate door trim, flanking windows, and/or a sharp looking stoop or porch.
The paint should be in good shape. Sometimes a thorough washing can freshen the look of paint or siding. Also, make sure the shutters are in good shape and hung straight.
Remodeling Factor #2: Deficiency
Deficiency has to do with whether or not your house is flawed compared to nearby homes.
If you have one bath, for example, and everyone else in the neighborhood has three, adding a bath is likely to have a relatively high return.
Obvious deficiencies substantially reduce the value of the home. People tend to lower the offering price by an amount greater than the actual cost of the remodel or addition. Taking care of such problems not only makes sense in terms of resale value, but also will make your stay in the home more pleasant.
Remodeling Factor #3: Distinctiveness
Distinctiveness is the one thing most people talk about. In fact, it's what you and your realtor talk about when you describe the house to others.
When people buy a house, they tend to buy on emotion and then back up the decision with rational considerations. A key to selling a house at a good price is to get the buyer emotionally interested in the home.
Homes generally sell better if they have two or three special or distinctive features. A walk-in closet, a whirlpool bath, a fireplace, attractive landscaping or a grand foyer can separate your home from the crowd and stir interest for buyers. These special features become very important in a competitive real estate market where a lot of similar homes are on the market.
Remodeling Factor #4: Demand
While the special features that make up distinctiveness are important, they are of no help and can even lower the value if these features are not widely in demand.
You may think a whirlpool in the living room will give your home a terrifically distinctive character, but if those looking to buy your house don't see that as valuable, you may actually reduce the value of your home by adding the feature.
Anything zany or out of character with the neighborhood should be avoided. For example, an ornate fireplace with a sculpted marble mantel may add plenty of value in an upscale neighborhood of $500,000 homes. But the same fireplace may be seen as difficult to clean and not energy efficient in a working class neighborhood.
Limit improvements to those for which there is documented demand.
Look at new model homes to verify that features you're considering adding are present in those homes. If the builders, with all their market research and surveys, aren't including the feature, you can bet that the market for it is limited.
Remodeling Factor #5: Degree
Remember things need to be done by degrees. No matter what you do, don't overdo it. If the front entrance is attractive already, renovating it in a new color will rarely be worth the cost.
Whether enhancing how your home looks from a distance, adding distinctiveness, or addressing deficiencies, one can usually get a fairly high rate of return up to some point. After that the rate of return drops off markedly.
If your house is the only one on the street with only one bath, spending $4,000 on adding a new bath might yield a return of $6,000 to $8,000 in terms of resale value. However, adding a bath that costs $15,000 may also yield an increased value of only $6,000 to $8,000.
If the house already has a number of special features, each added one would have a relatively smaller impact on resale value.
The best resource for getting more information on how various improvements might affect resale value is a real estate professional who knows the market in your neighborhood. Discuss the five D's with them, and you should come away with a pretty good idea of where you stand.
Just keep in mind that only you can determine what the improvement means in terms of your enjoyment of the house while you continue to live there.
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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"Designing the Kitchen of Your Dreams"

Phoenix Home Remodeling Company, Republic West Remodeling, Launches Guide Titled "Designing the Kitchen of Your Dreams"

This informative document outlines the steps to getting the most from existing kitchen space.  Topics covered include:

  • Opening up kitchen space
  • Analyzing space usage
  • Avoiding fads
  • Considering transitional design elements
  • Adding ample storage
  • Sizing an island appropriately
  • Selecting the right appliances
  • Installing innovative lighting
  • Making budget trade-offs
"Our latest guide provides lots of design tips and remodeling suggestions for homeowners to consider," said Jim Weisman, owner of Republic West Remodeling, a leading Phoenix home remodeling company.  "We explain how to breathe life into a kitchen design without falling victim to the latest fads.  By thoroughly reviewing their options before beginning a remodeling project, homeowners will be well on their way to getting a space they'll be happy with for years to come.
Interested homeowners can download the guide by clicking here.  They can also request a complimentary design consultation by visiting the company's website.

About Republic West Remodeling
Republic West Remodeling is a leading specialist of home improvement in Phoenix, offers the highest quality home remodeling services including kitchens, bathrooms, room additions and outdoor living spaces. Jim Weisman founded the company in 2011 after co-founding Republic West in 1995. The belief from the beginning was that ethical standards, honest communication, quality work performed by company employees and a low key education and design driven sales approach was what the customer yearned for.

Republic West Remodeling is an operationally driven company that utilizes various disciplines, processes and procedures to help insure that it can deliver what is promised and is careful to only promise what it can control.

Learn more about Republic West Remodeling's home remodeling services in Arizona and the Phoenix Metro area by visiting the company's website.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bath Renovation Tips

Bathroom renovations
In typical homes, bathrooms don't take up a lot of floor space, but they're often the most expensive to remodel.
Bathrooms are not much over 10 percent of the floor space in typical homes. But per square foot, they're often the most expensive due to all the plumbing, fixtures and finishes like tile instead of drywall. That goes for remodeling, too, where estimates for updates cause sticker shock.

Bigger footprint
There are two ways to get one: build an addition, or steal space from an adjoining room. With minimal framing, trade an adjacent walk-in closet for a sauna or whirlpool tub. Reframe a long clothes closet, and double sinks can recess into the area freeing up bathroom floor space. Partial reframing can make a big change, but save time and money by leaving most of the room intact.
Adding space from scratch, though, amounts to a small slice of the full home-building process from excavating to roofing. You need plans, permits, concrete, framing, the works. The investment can pay off handsomely if the old-fashioned, one-person space becomes a modern master bath with walking-around room. Gutting also allows major improvements like radiant floor heating, and vent systems that deal with moisture automatically. But it's not worth the disruptive and expensive project to gain only a few feet.

The exception is a bump-out. Floor framing is strengthened by doubling joists or changing 16- to 12-inch centers, or both, and extended to cantilever beyond the foundation, say, by the depth of a sink counter. This increases floor space without changing the foundation footprint. But the front and both sides of a bump out become exterior walls — not the best place for plumbing. Consider upgrading the protection against frozen pipes by using 2-by-6 wall framing with room for more insulation, and adding insulating foam board under siding as well.

Modern mechanicals
Remember that moving fixtures means moving plumbing. Water lines are not a big problem, specially with a flexible PEX system that requires no fittings to turn corners. Drains and their vents need more effort, like opening up the floor. Among other glitches, drain lines for older toilets flushed with more water and could carry away waste at a modest slope. Replace one with a code-mandated low-volume unit, and it may not clear waste without multiple flushes, defeating the water-saving purpose unless you re-plumb the drain with a greater slope. Low volume sounds very green — until you have to use twice as much water to make it work.

Existing ductwork for heating and cooling can usually handle a small increase in square footage like claiming a closet from the next room. If HVAC estimates show the capacity a bit shy of the new space, consider an electric heater. It might be a toe space unit under a vanity, or built into an overhead fan, enough to bridge the gap.

A contractor may also be able to steal some supply from another room with a diverter — an in-duct baffle that directs more air to the larger bath space. But when the remodel is more than a bump-out — half again as large or more — the original supply will have to be upgraded.

In a bath built mid-1990s or so, an electrician may have to pull new lines and upgrade circuits to handle more lights, more outlets, a more powerful vent fan, assuming your existing service panel has the capacity. If not, it can be several thousand more to upgrade the panel. Even on a small redo, an electrician will need to meet code with GFCIs (ground fault circuit interrupters), a quick-tripping type of outlet. In some areas, inspectors also want the protection of AFCIs (arc fault circuit interrupters.)

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Take Fast Action when Water Damage Occurs

Take Fast Action when Water Damage Occurs

Photo: .waldec/
Photo: .waldec/

Water from flooding or plumbing problems can be a very destructive force in your home. Be prepared for a possible emergency scenario so that you can act quickly should water damage actually occur. Here are the essentials you need to know.
Be Prepared
Make sure that your homeowner’s insurance policy covers water damage. Have the insurance company’s 24-hour emergency number handy on your cell phone and land line and on a business card in your wallet in case you do not have access to your telephones.

Maintain an up-to-date list of major possessions and their approximate value, recording new items as you purchase them.

Keep a charged emergency light and a camera easily accessible. Having safety gear (rubber gloves, boots and a face mask) at hand is also recommended.

Show all adult household members where the main switches for electricity and water are.

Teach children to tell a grownup immediately if they see water in any unusual places in the home.

Set up a secure place – a neighbor or relative’s home – to take your kids to in an urgent situation.

Keep copies of important documents such as your house deed on your computer and in a waterproof box. Valuable possessions like jewelry or coin collections should be stored in your safe deposit box when not in use.

First Response
Make sure everyone is safe and accounted for.

Call your insurance company and check out the best course of action.

Wear rubber boots or other non-conductive footgear and avoid standing in water. Turn off your main power switch safely; if this is impossible, call a professional electrician.

Identify the source of the water – for example, a roof leak due to heavy rainfall. In a dry area like Nevada, the cause is more likely to be a blocked pipe or an overflowing appliance. Turn off the main source of water and contact a Las Vegas plumber if necessary.                                                                                                          
Take photographs or video and make notes on the damage you see.

Open all the windows if it is not raining.

Salvage Your Possessions
Remove small items which are expensive or have sentimental value.

If you can do so safely, unplug your electrical appliances. Move small electronics out of harm’s way. Dry thoroughly before attempting to use them again.

Pull up the carpet (a major water absorber) and remove it to a dry place. The under padding acts like a sponge and will probably have to be discarded.

Movable items, such as upholstered or wooden furniture, that are thoroughly soaked should be taken outside if feasible. Otherwise place them in the shower or bathtub.

Photocopy essential papers if you have not already backed them up.

Remove Standing Water and Clean Up
Distinguish between white water (clean liquid, as from a broken pipe), gray water (containing traces of detergent or food, perhaps from a dishwasher) and black water (contaminated sewage). Hire a professional to deal with toxic black water.

A relatively small amount of water may be cleaned up with mops and old towels, bedding or rags. Clear larger amounts using buckets; empty them down the drain if your pipes are not blocked, otherwise pour the contents onto your lawn. A wet/dry vacuum can be helpful. If there is a great deal of flooding, you may need to rent a sump pump – place it at the lowest point on the flooded floor.
Shovel out any mud.

Wipe any moisture off the walls and ceiling, and then disinfect them to prevent the growth of mildew and mold.

Important Tips
Be very careful when attempting to clean a flooded area. Moisture can do serious damage to drywall. If you have any doubt about the safety of the building structure, get expert help.

Keep all receipts from expenses related to the water damage, such as rental equipment or temporary accommodation, for your insurance claim.

Laura Firszt writes for

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

12 Inspiring DIY Home Decor Projects

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

FrogTape(R) Launches iPad App to Inspire Home Design

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Homeowners Can Virtually Paint and Design Rooms With New Interactive Tool

Within the past five years, the popularity of DIY projects -- especially painting -- has significantly increased. New homeowners are eager to personalize their spaces, and those who have lived in their homes for years are looking to freshen things up by doing it themselves. However, the thought of where to start can be daunting. To help homeowners find inspiration and start planning their paint projects, FrogTape® brand painter's tape is excited to introduce a new, interactive iPad app to assist with the process.

The new FrogTape app will provide homeowners and paint/design enthusiasts with inspiration that they can use in their own homes. Users can virtually place a number of FrogTape products on an interactive canvas to create unique designs, patterns or shapes. Once their layout is finished, users can select and apply the perfect color combinations within the canvas, finishing off the virtual wall. Best of all, they can see how the finished product will look in a number of room settings, including living and dining rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms, then save these designs within the app.
FrogTape(R) Launches iPad App to Inspire Home Design
Key app features include:
  • Tape Selections - choose between FrogTape Multi-Surface or new Shape Tape™ in chevron, scallop or wave patterns.
  • 72 Paint Color Options - an extensive paint palette is available for users to mix and match colors as they create their projects and designs.
  • Room Prototypes - for a realistic approach to DIY projects throughout the home, the app includes a living room, dining room, bathroom, bedroom and a blank room prototype that users can paint and style as they choose.
  • My Designs - Users can save their designs to view later when they are ready to make their virtual DIY projects a reality.
"FrogTape has always been rooted in innovation, and we're excited to continue on that path with our new app," said Dave Rodgers, senior digital marketing manager, ShurTech Brands, LLC. "Many decisions go into DIY painting, and the FrogTape app will help to alleviate stress by giving homeowners a place to visualize their design and work through color and design choices before the painting even begins."

FrogTape is the only painter's tape treated with patented PaintBlock® Technology, which reacts with latex paint and instantly forms a micro-barrier to seal the edges of the tape, preventing paint bleed. There are a number of tapes available within the family of FrogTape products including FrogTape Multi-Surface, FrogTape Delicate Surface, FrogTape Textured Surface and FrogTape Shape Tape.
The FrogTape app is free and available for download at or from the iTunes store.
For project inspiration, or to learn more about FrogTape brand painter's tape, visit

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

12 Ways to Save Money at Home Depot

Hi Everyone!  Thank you for reading my blog!  Did you know that I'm the author of not just one, but thirteen books?  For more information, please visit, and/or 


12 Ways to Save Money at Home Depot

save money at Home Depot
Home Depot is a popular place for people who enjoy DIY projects, or are in the middle of renovating or building a house. It’s easy to get lost in their stores, wandering up and down the aisles, and filling your cart with a bunch of different items. Sometimes this means you end up spending more money than you originally intended. A trip for a $20 purchase could easily turn into a $200 trip. If you’re someone who does tend to spend a lot of money at when shopping at Home Depot, here are a number ways to save money at their stores:

Savings Center

Before you head on over to your local shop, make sure to check out the savings center section of their website. This page shows all the best deals and sales happening each week and month at their stores. The savings center shows deals and sales for every applicable department, and many of the sales range from 5% off to 50% off. If there’s something specific you’re thinking of buying, it’s a great idea to check out the sales before making a purchase.


Another great way to save money is by taking advantage of the rebate finder on their website. The website lists all the available rebates for products that the stores sell, some of which go as high as $1,000. Since they don’t normally offer coupons, utilizing rebates is a great way to save some money on your purchases.

Special Buy of the Day

Another feature that is offered on their website is a “special buy of the day.” They pick one item in their store and set a special sale price for 24 hours. Keeping an eye on this section in case something you’ve been meaning to buy pops up as a special sale is well worth your while.

Free DIY Classes

One of the great offers that you can take advantage of is the free do-it-yourself classes that Home Depot offers. While this won’t save you money on the purchase price of the materials you buy, it can save you hundreds, and even thousands, of dollars on hiring someone else to do the project. You may be surprised that with a bit of instruction, how much you really can do on your own to save money, and this confidence will help you tackle other home repairs around the house (although some aren’t cut out for DIY projects). They even offer free workshops aimed specifically toward women.

Sales Catalog

Checking out the sales catalog is another way to save money during your next trip. The sales catalog contains the weekly sales happening at your local store, and often includes items that aren’t shown on the Savings Center webpage. These catalogs are available both online and in-store and can be a great way to help you plan your trip and spending.


Home Depot offers a Garden Club newsletter and signing up will grant you with special member only perks and deals, such as discounts and coupons. Such coupons could be $5 off a $50 purchase or 10% off. The newsletter also provides great tips and tricks of gardening and outside home care and repair, so if this falls under your interests, you should consider signing up to take advantage of their expertise.

Price Match

If you find a product for a lower price at a competitor store, Home Depot will honor the lower price as long as you can prove it (such as bringing in the flyer or pulling up the competitor’s price on your smartphone). Not only do they promise to match the price, but they’ll to beat it by 10%. Checking the competitors advertised deals before you go on the things you plan to buy can end up being a great savings. Don’t only look at other home improvement stores when searching for the best price. Also look at discount stores like Walmart and Target that might also stock the items you’re looking for to claim the price match deal


Home Depot doesn’t often offer coupons, but a quick search online for “Home Depot coupons” brings up a decent amount of results. Before you go on your next Home Depot trip, it’s a good idea to search for coupons online to see if there are any available. Even if you can’t find any, not all is lost because the stores also honors competitor coupons. That means if you have a Lowe’s coupon tucked away somewhere, you can claim that savings on your trip.

Military Discount

If you’re in the military or a veteran, you can show the cashier your military ID in order to obtain a 10% discount on your total purchase. Many places offer discounts to members of the military, so just remember that Home Depot is one of those places!

Gift Cards

There are a lot of places online that sell discounted gift cards or that will allow you to swap an unused gift card for a different gift card. If you have, for instance, a bunch of department store gift cards laying around that you’ll never use, head on over to a site like CardSwap and swap it in for a Home Depot gift card. You can also buy discounted gift cards on these sites, with discounts being as high as 40% off the original gift card amount. If you know that you’re going to be doing a big project and will be spending a lot at the store, loading up on gift cards that you can buy for less than retail value can save you hundreds of dollars.

“Special” Items

Home Depot often has a separate section of the store for items that have been returned or gently damaged (such as dents in cans or scratched items). These items are still up for sale, but at a greatly reduced price. If you’re looking to save money and don’t mind some dented paint cans or tools that have been scratched and don’t look shiny and new, shopping in the clearance/returned/special item section may be where you want to look. If you can’t find this section on your own, just ask an employee where it’s located, and they will happily show you where it is.

Free Entertainment for Kids

In addition to adult do-it-yourself workshops, the stores also offer DIY workshops for kids. Not only do the kids learn important hands-on creating skills, they get a half day of free entertainment while they do it. Even better, the skills that they learn can be utilized to help you on DIY home projects as they get older, saving you even more money.

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