Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Turn Your Home Green with These Eco-Friendly Remodeling Ideas

There are more eco-friendly homes now than ever before. These properties use sustainable materials, minimize the use of resources and even save homeowners money. If you are preparing for a home remodel, consider getting on board with the eco-friendly movement, regardless of whether you consider yourself an environmentalist or not. The following tips make it easy to turn your home “green.”

Participate in an Energy Audit

Before you do anything else, have someone come out to your home to complete an energy audit. After an extensive examination of your property, the auditor identifies how much energy you are using each month and recommends simple ways to make your house more sustainable. Use their information during the remodeling process as a guide to ensure that you stay on track.

Select Eco-Friendly Materials

Once you start the planning state of the remodel, you must decide what materials to purchase for the project.  Look for low VOC (volatile organic compound) paints, sealers and caulks.  Avoid vinyl, since it is a particularly harmful plastic that is linked to health issues.  Also, rather than using carpet or hardwoods, opt for cork, bamboo or reclaimed wood flooring.  Most carpets release volatile organic compounds.  In addition, cork and bamboo grow much quicker than trees.  For all other materials, seek out products certified by green organizations, like the Forest Stewardship Council.  

Reuse and Recycle

Remodeling gets messy. Once renovations begin, a lot of materials and products make their way out of your house. To avoid seeing it all wind up in the trash, research to determine if there are any local businesses that can use your “waste.” For example, Habitat for Humanity is always on the lookout for salvageable building materials. Also, take the time to figure out what can be recycled and get it to the proper location.

Room by Room Recommendations

Every house is different, but there are a few green remodeling ideas that work in most spaces. In the kitchen, replace your appliances with Energy Star models. If the cabinetry is getting an overhaul, opt for formaldehyde-free products. Also, instead of granite countertops, consider recycled glass instead.
When constructing a new room, think carefully about how much space you should add. You don’t want to be wasteful. Make sure the room is properly insulated so as not to waste energy, and think carefully about how many windows to put in the space. More light shining in means that the room stays warmer in the winter. Add shades to help keep things cool in the summer.

Finally, in the bathroom, purchase and install a low-flow toilet. Also, look into flow reducers, which can help you save water in the shower and even when running the faucet. Recycled tiles are another solid purchase when renovating this space.

Not only is an eco-friendly remodel good for the environment, it can help you save money over time. Plus, when the time comes to list your house with a real estate company, you’ll often find that it is more marketable because of the “green factor.”

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Article source: greenerideal.com 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

3 Simple Tips for Remodeling on a Budget

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 www.charlesirion.com, www.irionbooks.com and/or www.summitmurdermystery.com 

Kitchen makeover: 3 simple tips for beauty on a budget

If you’re tired of looking at your outdated kitchen, but feel replacement would be impractical, you’re not alone. In 2014, consumers will be trying to find solutions they can afford to do themselves. Check out these three DIY remodeling trends for simple and unique ways to refresh the most used rooms in the home.

1. Mini-makeover kits
You may be the type who prefers to opt out when it comes to getting your hands dirty. If so, you will be pleased to know that as the DIY or the “do-it-yourself” movement grows, so are the increasingly easy product/project solutions.

Many larger retailers have caught on to this home DIY trend and have begun stocking mini-makeover kits. Each kit is designed for a specific project with simple application tools.

Among the hottest right now: kits that include everything you need for countertop, cabinet or appliance refinishing. The new Giani Granite countertop kit covers all typical existing counter surfaces and transforms your laminate or composite material into the look of natural granite. These kits stress the ease of application as “being easy enough for anyone.”

Nuvo Cabinet refinishing kits are designed for the DIYer who is looking for an easy makeover project. They do not require pre-priming, sanding or even removing the cabinet doors. So before you hire a contractor, check out the mini-makeover movement because remodeling may now be simple enough for even the most DIY challenged.

2. Upcycling
Upcycling is the process of converting old or discarded materials into something useful and often beautiful. For example: using slices of used corks to create a cork mosaic backsplash. Home decor artist Nicole Fleming agrees, “There seems to be something more genuine about the story and pride each repurposing project provides compared to owning something that has been mass manufactured.”

Upcycling also makes a positive impact on the environment. When you upcycle, you remove items from the global garbage print. Some avid upcyclers even argue that repurposing instead of recycling can actually be more beneficial because recycling requires energy or water to break down materials, while upcycling only requires your own resourceful creativity. So instead of throwing out your junk try the smart alternative of upcycling by turning your throw aways into something genuinely sensational.

3. Pin-spiration
Many homeowners wanting to spruce up their kitchen, struggle with knowing where to begin. When looking for kitchen design inspiration, start your project online. Turn to popular social networking sites that focus on sharing innovative ideas. Among the hottest right now is Pinterest, whose focus provides tips on everything from small decor crafts to full room renovations.  Pinterest also allows you to engage with other users and discuss projects, helping to work out any remodeling hurdles.

Large hardware companies like Home Depot and Lowes - as well as the remodeling HGTV Network have caught on to this useful online plethora of tips. They understand why one single place to get millions of ideas and tutorials on home projects holds such importance.
Before you decide a kitchen refresh is too difficult or impractical, check out these three popular trends and begin making what you have, look like a million bucks.

Read more from Journal Sentinel: http://www.jsonline.com/sponsoredarticles/kitchen/kitchen-makeover-3-simple-tips-for-beauty-on-a-budget8087250102-252437961.html#ixzz2xBMuJEty

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

5 Things to Consider Before a Home Renovation

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 www.charlesirion.com, www.irionbooks.com and/or www.summitmurdermystery.com  

 Here is a great article I thought was worth a share!

5 things to consider before a home renovation

There are some of us who think we can do everything. We take on multiple projects at a time, rarely say “no” and take a special level of pride in completing projects from start to finish on our own. We’re stubborn, proud and don’t mind rolling up our sleeves and getting down to business in order to get things done ourselves.

We want to do everything, even if that means driving ourselves crazy in the process.

However, when it comes to DIY projects around the house, especially if it’s pretty major project that you’d like to look beautiful and last for years (not to mention add value to your home), sometimes you just have to know when to DIY (Do it Yourself) or DIP (Do It Professionally). We recently learned our lesson and are so happy we knew when to throw in the towel.

As you know, we’re redoing our bathroom--re-tiling the walls, the floors, installing a new sink…. a fairly sizeable project. It started off earnestly enough; Eric tore up the floors, installed the sub floor and ripped out the old tile, while I got to work putting up new subway tile along the bottom half of the walls. We finished these portions of the project within a week, and then…. nothing. The bathroom sat half torn up for about three weeks. An out-of-town trip, followed by a death in the family, followed by both of us getting sick (me one week, him the next), meant no progress was made whatsoever. The walls sat half tiled, waiting for cuts and grout, and we took our time finding a sink that would work.

One morning, after almost a month since the project began, we looked at each other, looked at the bathroom and came to a realization: We were completely over trying to do this ourselves. The amount of time, stress we would put on ourselves, along with our relative inexperience in doing this kind of overhaul on an entire room pushed us over the edge. It was time to call in a pro.

So right now our pro, who helped us last year with the beautiful work of creating the open floor plan on our first floor, is finishing up the job in our bathroom. Although we love doing home projects on our own, we knew when it was time to hand it off.

Knowing when to bow out and leave it to the pros is a decision that can save time, money and stress to any homeowner. When you’re sitting on the fence about doing the project yourself or hiring someone to do the work for you, here are five questions you should ask yourself:

1. How skilled are you? This is the first, most important question you’ve got to ask yourself. Have you done a project like this before, or are you aware of all the steps and intricacies of the project? Are you generally handy, or do you need help switching out a light bulb? Take a step back and honestly assess your skill level. Chances are, even if you’re not skilled you can take on a project like tiling a backsplash, but steer clear of rerouting plumbing or electrical work throughout the house (or anything else that may be dangerous to do with little skill).

2. Are you on a deadline? Do you have a specific date you need to have the project finished by (out-of-town-guests, visitors, before a vacation, before the next holiday…)? Many times, no matter how skilled or determined you are, DIY projects can take much longer than you anticipate. As I’ve learned, unexpected circumstances can get in the way, and many times (especially if you work all day during the week) you just don’t want to devote hours every night after work to completing the project yourself. Also take into consideration how put out you will be by certain areas of your home being unusable during the reno. In our situation, we’re out of a toilet and a sink in our downstairs bathroom (thankfully we can use the shower during the reno, but have to rely on our upstairs half bath for everything else), which is a little annoying, but we’ve dealt with it. However, after a month of living this way, we couldn’t take it anymore.

3. Do you have the necessary tools? Research the project and make note of every tool you may need to complete it. Do you have them all? Can you borrow or rent them? If not, how much will it cost to buy everything you need? Always consider the tools before taking on a project yourself. If the job requires a $200 miter saw, consider the possibility that you’ll ever need to use this tool again. If you do end up buying it, add the cost to your overall project budget.

4. Are you on a strict budget? Budget is something to consider before any project, but when weighing the option to DIY versus hiring a professional, it’s especially important. Getting a quote from a handyman or contractor may be a little shocking at first, but usually the pro will include the materials needed, use of their tools, not to mention their high level of skill and time devoted to the project. You may think you’re cutting costs by DIYing, but every DIY project should include some kind of contingency fund for the inevitable time when things don’t quite go as expected (you need to buy new tiles after some break during cutting, you forgot to seal up your mortar and now it’s all dried out, your subfloor has water damage, etc.). Many times these unexpected costs will actually be more than what you would pay to hire a professional to do the job.

5. What else is going on in your life right now? Aside from skill level, this may be the most important factor in your decision. Is work busy right now? Do you have a lot of upcoming weekend plans? Is a big life change around the corner (planning a wedding, baby on the way)? If you’ve got a lot of outside stressors or plans coming up, you’ll save yourself so much anguish by hiring a pro. And those of you brave souls with little kiddos running around? Please consider going the professional route. If I’m stressing over completing a project and my biggest distraction is an interruption of my marathon of “The West Wing,” you definitely don’t want to have to worry about installing kitchen cabinets with a four year old tugging on your work belt the whole time. If you’re already stressing about something else, you’ll drive yourself crazy trying to tackle a renovation.

Of course, the decision is yours. There is a huge sense of satisfaction in completing a home renovation on your own. Nothing makes you feel like more of an accomplished adult (except, you know, maybe that whole “having a child” thing). But the route to get there is often filled with headaches, stubbed fingers, credit cards and (so, so many) swears. Weigh the options, consider the questions I’ve posed above and think realistically about the scope of your project.

Sometimes, even when you’re a stubborn, proud, do-it-all (like myself), it pays to know when to hand it off to a pro.

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Get ready for Spring with Early DIY Projects

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 www.charlesirion.com, www.irionbooks.com and/or www.summitmurdermystery.com 

Embrace spring early with fresh DIY home and landscaping projects

(BPT) - People across the country are feeling the winter blues after an unusually cold and snowy winter. But with warmer weather arriving soon, you can create a feeling of spring indoors and out with some simple do-it-yourself projects.

Roll up your sleeves and embrace the season of growth with these home and gardening tips:

* A fresh coat of paint is the perfect way to bring springtime indoors. Find inspiration from outdoor hues such as fun yellows, vibrant blues or a bright blend of pinks, oranges and reds. Start with an accent wall, which you can complete in just a few hours for under $50 with supplies from your local home improvement store.

* Spread the spring theme from your freshly painted walls into your outdoor gardens. Start now by planting seedlings indoors for delicious edible plants and beautiful, colorful blooms you can enjoy all summer long. Lowe’s garden center offers regionally relevant plants and the tools necessary for potting, planting and transplanting seedlings into your backyard garden once spring arrives and the ground thaws. In the meantime, cherish the beauty of your indoor garden as it reminds you of the warm weather on the way.

* As temperatures begin to warm, time to enjoy the outdoors is just around the corner. Soon enough you’ll be relaxing with family and friends on your deck or in the backyard around a fire pit. Take time now to get prepared for spring and summer days. Decorate and furnish your outdoor space with allen + roth patio furniture from Lowe’s. From bistro sets perfect for enjoying breakfast to conversation sets that will make your guests linger during longer days, you can create a specialty look at affordable prices.

* Get a jumpstart on your landscaping projects by removing traces of winter from your yard. As soon as the snow melts and the ground thaws, pick up or mow leaves and fallen twigs, trim or prune the bushes and give your grass a professional look by edging along paved pathways. Kobalt offers all the tools you need in its new outdoor power equipment line. Launched this spring, the line includes seven cordless tools that all operate off a single, interchangeable, 40-volt lithium ion battery. The selection includes two push lawn mowers, a chainsaw, pole saw, string trimmer and edger, blower and hedge trimmer. No need to wait for all the batteries to recharge – just switch them out from tool to tool and you can spruce up the yard in no time.

Spring is calling with these simple, affordable DIY projects that are sure to leave the winter blues behind you. In a weekend or less, your home and backyard will feel a sense of spring renewal that will provide long hours of enjoyment for months to come.

Article source: Journal Sentinel: http://www.jsonline.com/sponsoredarticles/home-improvement/embrace-spring-early-with-fresh-diy-home-and-landscaping-projects8076630405-248255231.html#ixzz2v1Rsdz1v

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Monday, February 10, 2014

The 10 Best Renovation Websites

 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 www.charlesirion.com, www.irionbooks.com and/or www.summitmurdermystery.com 


The 10 Best Renovation Websites For Living Out Your Dream Home Fantasies

Any HGTV viewer knows that renovating is far easier said than done. That doesn't stop any of us from mentally making a few changes to our homes -- whether we own them or not -- even though we don't intend to hire a contractor anytime soon. Or, perhaps a renovation is actually within reach, but you're not pleased with the generic inspiration found at your local home superstore. No matter which camp you're in, you're bound to love these 10 websites that are for anyone who has ever looked at a wall...and thought about moving it.
Retro Renovation  retro renovation

Best for: Anyone who doesn't think of a 1960s living room as a bad thing. Whether you're looking for resources for restoring your old home, adding retro flair to a newer place or just looking for the best midcentury inspired sofa, this is your heaven. I visit it daily.
porch dot com

Best for: Actually committing to the whole renovation thing. Here, you can easily find professionals in your area and look over their best work.
Best for: Getting inspired to make changes big (overhauled kitchen) to small (paint color ideas) -- and seeing how hundreds of other people have done those very things.
Best for: Plotting your new, high-end dream home. Though the site has broadened its mission away from simply providing remodeling ideas (who would of thought?), you can still find great images waiting to be added to your "Dream Life" pinboard.
DIY Network
Best for: Finding practical advice and finding projects by budget. The network that brought you multiple Vanilla Ice-pegged reality shows has an exhaustive website that borders on overwhelming at times -- but they know their stuff.
This Old House
Best for: Fantasizing about a simpler, self-reliant life in a meticulously restored Victorian that was once nearly uninhabitable. It's specific, but you know what we mean. We imagine the editors finding their bliss at salvage yards, or trading recommendations about screwdrivers all while turning an old found door into a stately table. And we look up to them for that.
Best for: Imagining an impeccably tasteful life filled with ridiculously functional (but incredibly designed) surroundings, alongside men with architectural glasses and women with indie-chic short haircuts.
Best for: Seeing how a real family renovated (and continues to renovate) on a tight budget. While the blog can be a little wonky at times, the content is good.
HGTV Remodels
Best for: Figuring out what's actually doable versus what projects will have a bigger commitment. You'll see ideas ranging from clever storage tricks and closet ideas all the way to choosing a new addition's foundation.

Young House Love
young house love
Best for: Those with more traditional design tastes, especially those in need of family-friendly advice. The couple behind this blog has made a mini-empire based around their love of remodeling homes. We recommend taking a peek through their archives -- their first home remodeling project is a tad more accessible to the average homeowner than their current (though incredibly gorgeous) big house project.

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Article source: Huffington Post 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Money tips for home remodeling

 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 www.charlesirion.com, www.irionbooks.com and/or www.summitmurdermystery.com  

Homeowners expected to spend more on remodeling

By Amy Hoak, MarketWatch 
A 20-year-old house in suburban Atlanta is getting a makeover to create a more open floor plan for its kitchen, dining room and living room. The homeowners had wanted to make the improvements for a while, but because they purchased the home when prices were at peak levels, their plans were shelved. 

Until now. 

“The rebounding economy gave us the confidence to invest in our property — even though it is still worth less than what we paid, at peak,” said Jeffrey Ulrich, who lives there with his wife and three children. “At the same time, we have no intention of going anywhere else. This is our home, and we made a decision to invest in our everyday living, and think it will pay dividends now and in the future.” 

Researchers at Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies think there will a fresh crop of homeowners like Ulrich, finally going forward with postponed remodeling plans in 2014. In fact, they are expecting 10% to 15% growth in remodeling spending through the third quarter of this year, compared with the same period a year ago — which would add up to a “very good year for the industry,” said Abbe Will, the research analyst who puts together Harvard’s Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity. The projection is based on a wide variety of housing data. 

“Homeowners are starting to feel much more confident about the fact that their homes are not just retaining value, but are starting to see home-price increases in many markets,” Will said. To fund these discretionary projects, there’s an improving environment for home-equity lending; until just recently, home-equity loans and lines of credit were nearly impossible to get. 

Remodelers are getting more requests for kitchen and bath remodels, home exterior improvements, changes to help homeowners age in place — even additions, said Tom O’Grady, chairman of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry’s strategic planning and research committee, as well as president of O’Grady Builders, based in Drexel Hill, Pa. 

The increased demand had many remodelers entering 2014 with jobs in the pipeline, something that hasn’t happened for years, he said. Remodeling activity started slowing back in 2006, O’Grady added. 

Renovation of distressed properties is also helping fuel the remodeling industry, as owners invest money into foreclosures and short sales that have been neglected over the years, Will said.

Before you remodel

If you’re planning a remodel of your own, consider the following before hiring a contractor. It will make for a smoother process, and ensure you’re getting the most for your money. 

Collect ideas: Go online to get ideas, and share pictures that you like with your contractor, Ulrich said. That will help you communicate your desires, and will make it easier for the contractor to quote jobs. “It puts everyone on the same page from the beginning,” he said. 

Set a budget: For yourself, set a maximum budget and make sure you have a contingency for any splurges you may want to make or problems that you could run into, said Liza Hausman, vice president of community for Houzz.com, a home remodeling and design website. Then, create a goal budget to share with your contractor. As much as you can, research materials to understand what they’ll cost. That will help you understand whether your budget is realistic. 

Take a breath: Don’t rush into major remodeling jobs if you’ve just moved in. “Live in the home for a few years so you know what you want to fix,” Hausman said. Only then will you understand how your house works — and what really needs improving. 

Research contractors: Contractors should be licensed and insured. Read online reviews, but make sure that the site you’re using allows both positive and negative reviews (some only post the positive), Hausman said. Don’t forget to ask for referrals from former clients, and reach out to them to find out how they liked working with the contractor, she said. 

Break down bids: Bids should include detailed information on what everything should cost, including materials and labor, Hausman said. But there can be wide variations when it comes to material costs, she said. Find a contractor who can “value engineer” your project and “help you find ways to pull stuff out or do things in a creative way,” so you’re spending your money in a smart way and getting elements that are the most important to you, she said. 

Trust your contractor: Choose a contractor you trust, but also make sure that the person who gets the job is a good communicator. That will go a long way to making sure you’re happy with the final result. “We’ve heard plenty of horror stories from friends,” Ulrich said. His contractor was good about following up after the initial inquiry — and Ulrich took that as a good sign. 

Start with a small job: Although he had a good feeling about the team doing the work, Ulrich gave his contractor a smaller project, a bathroom remodel, first, before hiring him to do his large-scale great room project. “How you’re treated on a small project is going to be how you’re treated on the big project,” he said. “They treated us like the most important customer they had, and it showed.” 

Prepare for inconveniences: Workers will be in your home all day, and if you’re redoing a kitchen, take-out dinners will become the norm. And then there’s the dust. But remember that remodeling requires a spirit of adventure, Ulrich said. “Take a deep breath and say ‘This is all going to turn out great, and it’s a small price to pay for decades of enjoyment.’” 

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Does DIY add to the value of your home?

Hi Everyone!  Welcome to today's blog post about DIY projects!  Did you know that I'm the author of not just one, but thirteen books?  For more information, please visit www.charlesirion.com, www.irionbooks.com and/or www.summitmurdermystery.com

Does DIY add to the value of your property?Wherever you look in the world, there are literally millions of people attempting do-it-yourself on their home properties and investment properties. If you know what you are doing, and you are confident in your own ability, there is the potential to add significant value to your property and make yourself some serious money. So, if DIY is so easy why do so many people fail to see the increase in the value of their property that they expected?

There are many reasons why DIY does not work for everybody, it is not as easy as it looks, there are potential pitfalls and the bottom line is that you need to know exactly what you are doing. We will now take a look at some of the issues surrounding DIY and why you should only attempt it if you are confident in your ability.

Simple DIY is easy
There are many different levels of do-it-yourself taking in anything from painting to roofing, from electrics to fitting a new bathroom and many more in between. When it comes to very simple tasks such as painting and “tidying up” a property to assist with a potential sale then this is something which is not out of the reach of the vast majority of homeowners. You would be surprised to learn how big an impact a simple “tidy up” and repainting job can have on the saleability of your home – making your property more “easy on the eye”

Medium level DIY
We then move on to the medium risk DIY projects which take in the likes of flooring, replacing tiles, wallpapering and other similar tasks. On the surface, again, this type of project seems fairly simple but have you ever tried to lay flooring? Are you confident climbing ladders and replacing tiles? Are your wallpapering skills as good as you think they are?

When we move towards medium level DIY this is an area which can have a detrimental impact upon the value of your property, its saleability and can actually impact upon your finances. If you make a hash of replacing flooring, replacing tiles, wallpapering, etc then the likelihood is that you will need to call in the experts at some point at further expense. Indeed, if you have made a mess of your medium level DIY then it can actually cost more to put it right than it would have to bring in the experts from day one. Nothing is ever as simple as it seems where DIY is involved!

High level DIY
DIY projects such as installing gas equipment, rewiring your home, fixing new lights and fitting a new roof to name but a few are high-level DIY projects which require professional skills. There are many tasks in the DIY arena which experts would think twice about tackling unless they have specific focused skills in the relevant areas. Just because you can wire plug does not mean you can rewire your home, just because you can fit a few tiles does not mean you can fit a new roof. You also need to take into account the safety aspect, the fact that tackling electrical, gas and other challenging DIY activities can not only place you in danger but also those around you.

If you are looking at any level of DIY on your property you need to make sure you have the experience, the expertise and perhaps just as importantly, the right tools. Many people will make a success of their DIY projects, they may well add a significant amount of money to the value of their property but there are more people who make a mess of their DIY projects and end up paying more to get their mistakes corrected!

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