Thursday, April 28, 2016

Tips for building an outdoor kitchen for clients


Outdoor kitchens have been growing in popularity over the years. The benefit of learning how to build an outdoor kitchen is that the profit margins are traditionally higher than standard indoor kitchen remodels given that the select group of contractors with the skill of installing them is small and their services are in demand.

The outdoor kitchen is comprised of four distinct zones: the hot zone, which is where your grill, cook top and pizza oven goes; a wet zone, which is where your sink goes; a cold zone where you keep your cooler or refrigerator; and a dry zone, which is where you want to keep cooking and storage items dry.

Of all the zones within the outdoor kitchen the dry zone requires the most specialized equipment. Special water-tight  and water-resistant cabinets will need to be put in to keep storage items dry. Among the offerings are NatureKast high-density resin and Werever marine-grade HDPE cabinetry that are so impervious you can clean them with a water hose. Kalamazoo also makes beautiful stainless steel cabinets and appliances for the outdoors.
 
Werever marine-grade cabinetry
In regards to appliances for an outdoor kitchen, Kalamazoo makes the nicest, most durable appliances you can buy. They make warming drawers and side burners. They even make outdoor dishwashers, which is a real luxury item if you think about it.

Another aspect of building an outdoor kitchen is to select the right grade of tile. Tiles that work best outside are high-grade porcelain tiles, which are nearly impervious to moisture, and quarry tiles that are highly durable in structure. Another building material you can consider working with is stained concrete with a durable layer of polymer coating.  If you choose to stamp the concrete you want a very low stamp level, which will make cracking less of likelihood. Also if you want to put wood deck flooring in your outdoor kitchen, pick the most water-impervious grade of wood you can. Epay wood is a highly recommended outdoor wood flooring option. Remember sourcing the most durable materials you can and paying more initially is better in the long run as the life of the kitchen can be extended into many decades of time.

Although many keep the outdoor kitchen as closely adjacent to the indoor one as possible, it should not be relegated to just the backyard. You can put outdoor kitchens on the roof as well.
Building an outdoor kitchen is not a necessity but it is a luxury symbol. Many homeowners appreciate what an outdoor kitchen can provide in terms of entertaining guests, and may be eager to have one custom built.

To order your copy of Remodeling Hell, CLICK HERE
For more information about Remodeling Hell, CLICK HERE
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Friday, April 22, 2016

6 spring chores to do now to protect your home's value

As of early Sunday morning on the East Coast, spring officially has sprung. But before you break out in your happy dance, you've got some work to do.   To protect what's probably your biggest investment, it's important to take care of a few spring chores. Nino Sitchinava — principal economist at Houzz.com, a leading platform for home remodeling and design — offers her top tips for getting your property back in shape after winter:
1. Tackle any drainage issues. The 2016 Houzz Landscaping Trends study revealed that drainage issues are the top challenge homeowners face when updating their yards. After winter, you likely know where excess water pools around your home. Spring is the best time to fix this to avoid erosion and mold issues.

2. Fix a leaking roof. During winter, it's common to patch or tarp a roof as a temporary fix for leaks, but now is the time to resolve issues for good. According to the 2015 Houzz & Home study, which had more than 170,000 respondents in the U.S.,  homeowners are nearly two times more likely to remodel their kitchen (27%) than roofing (15%), an important update when needed. "Fixing leaks and maintenance repairs should be prioritized ahead of other remodeling," Sitchinava says. "Leaks can cause problems like pests and mold. Often these repairs are also lower budget and require less planning."
3. Refresh your entry or mudroom. During winter, you're likely to track snow, road salt and mud into your entry or mudroom. In spring, make sure to thoroughly clean your walls, floors and doors to avoid any long-term damage.

4. Clean and repair gutters. Winter debris can build in gutters, and it's important to remove it before spring rains. To avoid water running down the side of your home, check for places where the gutters may have pulled away from the house. "Termites and other pests, which become most active during this time of year, are attracted to moisture," Sitchinava says. "Standing water can create mold issues and cracks in driveways and paths create tripping hazards."

5. Clean siding. Similar to your entry or mudroom, salt and mud can build up on the exterior of your home during the winter. Depending on the type of siding, you can use a hose or pressure washer to clean your siding.

6. Update paths and your driveway. Often driveways and paths crack during the winter, especially in regions that experience freezing conditions. During landscaping projects, more than half of homeowners update their paths (51%) and 17% update their driveways, according to the 2016 Houzz Landscaping Trends study.

"Often, it's not an option to resolve these issues during the winter because it's too cold to have workers on site and there may still be snow on the ground in colder climates. So, it's important to address them ASAP in the spring."

To order your copy of Remodeling Hell, CLICK HERE
For more information about Remodeling Hell, CLICK HERE
For more information about the Summit Murder Mystery series, CLICK HERE
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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tips for building an outdoor kitchen for clients


Outdoor kitchens have been growing in popularity over the years. The benefit of learning how to build an outdoor kitchen is that the profit margins are traditionally higher than standard indoor kitchen remodels given that the select group of contractors with the skill of installing them is small and their services are in demand.

The outdoor kitchen is comprised of four distinct zones: the hot zone, which is where your grill, cook top and pizza oven goes; a wet zone, which is where your sink goes; a cold zone where you keep your cooler or refrigerator; and a dry zone, which is where you want to keep cooking and storage items dry.

Of all the zones within the outdoor kitchen the dry zone requires the most specialized equipment. Special water-tight  and water-resistant cabinets will need to be put in to keep storage items dry. Among the offerings are NatureKast high-density resin and Werever marine-grade HDPE cabinetry that are so impervious you can clean them with a water hose. Kalamazoo also makes beautiful stainless steel cabinets and appliances for the outdoors.
 
Werever marine-grade cabinetry
In regards to appliances for an outdoor kitchen, Kalamazoo makes the nicest, most durable appliances you can buy. They make warming drawers and side burners. They even make outdoor dishwashers, which is a real luxury item if you think about it.

Another aspect of building an outdoor kitchen is to select the right grade of tile. Tiles that work best outside are high-grade porcelain tiles, which are nearly impervious to moisture, and quarry tiles that are highly durable in structure. Another building material you can consider working with is stained concrete with a durable layer of polymer coating.  If you choose to stamp the concrete you want a very low stamp level, which will make cracking less of likelihood. Also if you want to put wood deck flooring in your outdoor kitchen, pick the most water-impervious grade of wood you can. Epay wood is a highly recommended outdoor wood flooring option. Remember sourcing the most durable materials you can and paying more initially is better in the long run as the life of the kitchen can be extended into many decades of time.

Although many keep the outdoor kitchen as closely adjacent to the indoor one as possible, it should not be relegated to just the backyard. You can put outdoor kitchens on the roof as well.
Building an outdoor kitchen is not a necessity but it is a luxury symbol. Many homeowners appreciate what an outdoor kitchen can provide in terms of entertaining guests, and may be eager to have one custom built.

To order your copy of Remodeling Hell, CLICK HERE
For more information about Remodeling Hell, CLICK HERE
For more information about the Summit Murder Mystery series, CLICK HERE
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Friday, April 1, 2016

6 spring chores to do now to protect your home's value


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As of early Sunday morning on the East Coast, spring officially has sprung. But before you break out in your happy dance, you've got some work to do.   To protect what's probably your biggest investment, it's important to take care of a few spring chores. Nino Sitchinava — principal economist at Houzz.com, a leading platform for home remodeling and design — offers her top tips for getting your property back in shape after winter:
1. Tackle any drainage issues. The 2016 Houzz Landscaping Trends study revealed that drainage issues are the top challenge homeowners face when updating their yards. After winter, you likely know where excess water pools around your home. Spring is the best time to fix this to avoid erosion and mold issues.
2. Fix a leaking roof. During winter, it's common to patch or tarp a roof as a temporary fix for leaks, but now is the time to resolve issues for good. According to the 2015 Houzz & Home study, which had more than 170,000 respondents in the U.S.,  homeowners are nearly two times more likely to remodel their kitchen (27%) than roofing (15%), an important update when needed. "Fixing leaks and maintenance repairs should be prioritized ahead of other remodeling," Sitchinava says. "Leaks can cause problems like pests and mold. Often these repairs are also lower budget and require less planning."
3. Refresh your entry or mudroom. During winter, you're likely to track snow, road salt and mud into your entry or mudroom. In spring, make sure to thoroughly clean your walls, floors and doors to avoid any long-term damage.
4. Clean and repair gutters. Winter debris can build in gutters, and it's important to remove it before spring rains. To avoid water running down the side of your home, check for places where the gutters may have pulled away from the house. "Termites and other pests, which become most active during this time of year, are attracted to moisture," Sitchinava says. "Standing water can create mold issues and cracks in driveways and paths create tripping hazards."
5. Clean siding. Similar to your entry or mudroom, salt and mud can build up on the exterior of your home during the winter. Depending on the type of siding, you can use a hose or pressure washer to clean your siding.
6. Update paths and your driveway. Often driveways and paths crack during the winter, especially in regions that experience freezing conditions. During landscaping projects, more than half of homeowners update their paths (51%) and 17% update their driveways, according to the 2016 Houzz Landscaping Trends study.
"Often, it's not an option to resolve these issues during the winter because it's too cold to have workers on site and there may still be snow on the ground in colder climates. So, it's important to address them ASAP in the spring."

To order your copy of Remodeling Hell, CLICK HERE
For more information about Remodeling Hell, CLICK HERE
For more information about the Summit Murder Mystery series, CLICK HERE
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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Kitchen remodel: Tips to improve your ROI

Kitchen remodel: Tips to improve your ROI

Looking to achieve a better return on investment from your next home remodel? The design options can be staggering and a remodel can quickly become overwhelming if you’re inexperienced with what design options will attract future buyers.

It’s important to focus on what needs improving, in the space people use the most. In Chicago, that’s the kitchen. Real estate agents here agree almost unanimously that the space you cook and entertain in yields the best ROI at time of sale. This is where all the action is. So, to make it the best it can possibly be you should focus on updating the things people value most: the cabinets, counters and appliances.

It should come as no surprise that these are typically the most costly items in the kitchen. Luckily though, updating them can return anywhere from 60 to 100 percent of your initial investment. Granted, this is if you know what you’re doing, and have the right help.

Rule number one: Know what the market sale of homes are in the area. You don’t want to drop $50,000 dollars to improve the home only to find out you’ve priced yourself right out of the market. In most neighborhoods a kitchen remodel that falls between $25,000 and $35,000 has a better chance toward a greater ROI. So with a budget in place, you need to know how to divvy it out for the big-ticket items in your space.

Appliances: Unfortunately, there’s really only one aesthetic choice that people like right now: stainless steel. The pros: it’s clean, sleek, and fits with nearly anything. The cons: it will generally cost more. So, if your dishwasher, oven, and microwave are relatively new and fully functioning, you might be better off looking elsewhere for ROI.

Cabinetry: It’s probable you look at it almost every time you step into your kitchen. Are you satisfied with the appearance? What would your dream cabinets look like? The image in your mind is actually not that unrealistic, so long as the cabinet structure stays in place. Everything else can be replaced.

Doors, drawers, hardware—it can all go. This is nearly 75% of what people see., and resurfacing costs nearly half that of a full gutting and replacing. Save money and time by installing new door and drawer fronts, new veneers, and new cabinet hardware.

Once you’ve removed the above sections and the cabinet is down to its skeleton, you’ll want to affix some flat panel doors. These offer a sleek, simple, and most importantly, modern look. Glass panels are also popular, though more depth usually comes with a little higher cost. Still, if you want to show off what you’re storing, this is the option for you.

Countertops: After the cabinets are in prime shape, you’ll want to turn your attention to the countertops. A good stone can make or break your kitchen at the point of sale, so you want to get the best material on the market. None is better than granite. Chicagoans are enamored by granite at the moment, and why shouldn’t they be? Granite is a powerhouse — resistant to stains, scrapes, scuffs, spills, and nearly anything else you want to throw at it. You can beat it up all you want, it will still outlive the house and you.

Granite has it in the looks department as well: greens, reds, blues, grays, and everything in between. Best of all, it works with any aesthetic preference, whether you’re a traditionalist, modernist, or fan of something else entirely.

It’s not necessarily how much money you spend, but how you spend it that matters. Don’t spend money for things that don’t need fixing, and keep in mind that most homes will be on the market for three to five months. We are confident you can cut this time in half, and recoup most — if not all — of your money by updating the things people look at the most, in the space people use the most.

About the Author: Stephen Joseph Constable is in the business of home remodeling and owns Chicago Kitchen Remodeling Inc. He graduated from Indiana University Bloomington in 1999 and grew up in Oak Park, Illinois. Contact him for more information at kitchenremodelingchicago.com

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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Property Brothers' Top 15 Home Remodeling Tips

Find out what you missed from the Capital Remodel + Garden Show

 
Photo via Shutterstock/Naphat_Jorjee
This past Saturday, the Capital Remodel + Garden Show hosted over 375 companies, more than 4,000 square feet of "dream gardens," and two frontrunners that stole the show, Jonathan and Drew Scott. These real estate and home renovation celebrities, known for their HGTV show, Property Brothers, spoke on everything from when to be bold to where to find home remodeling inspiration.
For those who missed the show or wish to relive it, Curbed listed the top 15 tips and tricks these two brothers discussed below:
  1. The home is the largest investment you'll ever make, so surround yourself with people who will help you succeed. Get someone who understands how you work as well.
  2. Dream big. For one moment, forget everything about price. After listing everything you truly desire for your abode, narrow it down to the must-haves. These must-haves should be things that will make your life easier and will up the property value.
  3. Get a couple of contractors to come through and quote everything. Do your research. Plan ahead. Take your time. Otherwise, you'll likely blow your budget.
  4. Do not be afraid to be bold, but you need to think of resale value. Don't do any renovations that may be too specific to your needs or may go out of style soon.
  5. You don't need to get rid of everything during a renovation. Repurpose when you can.
  6. Do not be in a rush to buy whatever is trendy at the moment. If you want to buy something, know the pros and cons to that product.
  7. Property Brothers
    Photo courtesy of Dennys Ilic
  8. Breaking down a wall or two to make more space can be unnecessary. Sometimes, just changing furniture layout is enough.
  9. Do not look at houses until you know what you can afford.
  10. When you make your budget, do not base that budget off of your current income situation. For example, are you planning a baby? Expect some changes to that budget.
  11. Once you make your budget, stick to it.
  12. Do not do renovations on credit cards.
  13. When selling your home, take the emotion out of it. Take a step back and look at your home from the eyes of a homebuyer. You need to resolve any issues as you only have one chance at a first impression.
  14. Look for inspiration online.
  15. Value your time. It can be worth paying someone to do a job if they will do it quicker than you and with less stress.
  16. Be careful when you look to the Property Brothers for home remodeling advice. You will never be able to renovate at the same cost as them. Why? They don't charge for their time.

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Friday, February 26, 2016

Rehab projects not for everyone


Are you ready to tackle a fixer-upper?

Buying a house that needs some TLC can be rewarding, said Matthew Provenzano, a Sewickley real estate investor who’s bought, rehabbed and sold many older western Pennsylvania homes in the past 10 years.

“You have the ability to buy a house at less than market value and make it your own,” he said. “Rehabbing a house can be fun, and it’s something you’ll take pride in for many years.”
However, it’s not for everyone. Here are a few basic questions to ask before you buy an older house that needs work.

• Can I see beyond cosmetics? A DIY home might be right for you, Provenzano said, if you have a basic understanding of mechanicals (heating, plumbing, electrical systems) and a bit of vision. “For instance, a home might not be selling because it has a cramped galley kitchen. If you can envision what it would look like with a wall knocked out, you might get a great value.”

• Did I get a home inspection? An inspection is a good starting point, said Gina Mercurio, a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway in Sewickley. But be aware that even the most thorough inspection may not show all problems; issues with the roof, gutters and chimney may develop with time, or it may be too cold to inspect the air conditioning system. “Exterior conditions are often overlooked, too,” Mercurio said. “Trees, for instance, can cause mold and clog gutters, adding to basement moisture.”

• What will renovations cost? Most mortgages don’t allow for renovation expenses, so a DIY-er needs a certain amount of cash in hand, Provenzano said. “I use a spreadsheet and itemize every item. Before I hire any contractor, I always get four or five quotes.”

• Do I have the resources to handle unexpected issues? It’s the rare rehab project that comes in under -- or even close to -- budget. “After the demolition and renovations begin, dreams tend to increase, and buyers want bigger, better, and more,” Mercurio said. Unforeseen problems and delays -- the warehouse sent the wrong size windows, for instance -- tend to crop up once work is underway. A good rule of thumb? Budget 25 percent more than the quote for each job, said Provenzano, and have patience with what can seem like an endless process.

• Do I have enough experience? You need to know what you can handle, and what’s better left to the pros. Mercurio said that buyers often make the mistake of thinking they can complete a DIY project without addressing the underlying problems. “Oftentimes, buyers talk about how they’ll knock down a wall to open up a room without considering if the wall is load-bearing,” she said. “Or, maybe they want to add a master suite on a third floor, with no knowledge of how the plumbing will be run.”

• What do similar homes in the area sell for? You want to be able to get your money out of the house, even if you’re not planning to sell right away. “People go in and buy a house and throw an exorbitant amount of money at it because their friends tell them it will sell for $500,000,” said Provenzano. “You need to be smart about it and research the area; every dollar you spend over market value, you won’t get back.”


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