Friday, September 19, 2014

Keep Your Budget On Track!


25 Tips to Keep Your Budget on Track

Follow these budget tips for remodeling, decorating, and design ideas to update your space without breaking the bank.








You would never spend thousands of dollars on a car without researching the type of vehicle you need, selecting the features you want, and haggling with the salesperson for a fair price. Nor should you embark on a remodeling or decorating project without doing the same sort of legwork.

Here are 25 tips that are sure to keep your budget on track.

1. Brake for garage sales. One person's junk can be a do-it-yourselfer's treasure. Never pass a garage sale or antiques store without stopping, especially when you're on vacation or passing through a neighborhood other than your own. Keep an eye on neighbors' curbside trash piles for great castoffs.
2. Look for local outlet stores or wholesalers. They can be sources for buying plumbing supplies, kitchen goods, tile or stone, and other specialty items at huge discounts.
3. Utilize the Internet. Auction sites can help you comparison-shop for the best price on used furniture and other goodies, as well as bid on the items of your dreams. Some sites also offer free design advice and Q&A forums that allow you to post a question about a decorating or remodeling dilemma and read others' responses.
4. Scout out unwanted items. Snag overstocked or misordered items for a fraction of retail. Ask builders what they do with leftover materials, such as windows and flooring, or check out www.buildersexpress.com to bid on excess building materials.
5. Seek cheaper alternatives. If your heart is set on granite countertops, opt for tiles instead of a slab. If you plan on painting your new molding, choose urethane over stainable wood. Rather than costly hardwood wainscoting or paneling, search for wallpaper that mimics the look of wood.
6. Don't be afraid to bargain. Appliances with scratches or dents can be had at huge savings. Discontinued items, such as fabric, are often marked down dramatically, as are display models of sinks, faucets, and cabinetry. Offer to purchase them, and you might get a discount. Make sure to ask about the return policy before you buy.

7. Barter for materials or labor. Offer your skills in return for someone else's. For instance, pitch in during your brother's painting project in exchange for his assistance with yours.
8. Stick with standard sizes and models. Custom kitchen cabinets, for example, are very expensive. Save money by choosing stock ones, then attaching molding, corbels, or wood carvings for flair.
9. Seek out free advice. Take advantage of design services—through computer-aided design (CAD) programs or from on-staff professionals—at local boutiques, garden centers, and home improvement stores.
10. Rent or borrow what you don't have. Check with neighbors and friends for miter saws and power drills. Home centers rent heavy-duty tools, such as tile cutters, power washers, and nailers, for a weekend fee (usually about $50).
11. Stay put. When redoing the kitchen or bath, keep the fixtures and appliances where they are and work around them. Not having to move plumbing or gas lines will keep costs down.
12. Refresh, don't replace. Touch up scratches on sinks, tubs, and appliances with spray paints specially formulated for appliances. Or, check the Yellow Pages under "Bathroom Remodeling" for companies that resurface tubs and sinks for less than the cost of new models. You can also cover a dated refrigerator or dishwasher with wood or stainless-steel panels; some companies, such as Frigo Design, stock standard sizes in kits.
13. Refurbish when possible. Update kitchen and bathroom cabinets or a piece of furniture, such as a hutch, by replacing the door panels with glass, fabric, or chicken wire. This option is less expensive than buying new cabinets or new doors.
14. Use expensive materials sparingly. Install stone tiles as a border around less costly ceramic. Upgrade the range in your new kitchen but opt for a cheaper refrigerator and sink.
15. Consider unconventional fabric. Sheets make great tablecloths, shower curtains, window treatments, and other fabric projects. Sheets are wider than most decorator fabrics, so they're ideal for tall or wide windows, and they come already hemmed. Or, consider burlap or terry cloth: Both lend a room texture and don't cost much.
16. Purchase plain, then embellish. Instead of splurging on expensive, patterned fabric for pillows or window treatments, purchase less costly solid-color fabric and dress it up with iron-on transfers, easy-sew appliques, or fabric paint.
17. Update the details without spending a fortune. Instead of buying a new dresser or kitchen cabinets, replace just the hardware. Pillows in trendy fabrics will refresh a tired sofa; fluffy new towels will liven up an old bath.
18. Paint can cover a multitude of sins. Revive furniture, flooring, and walls with a fresh coat of paint. Just be sure to prepare the surface by cleaning, patching, and priming before painting.
19. Find new uses for conventional things. Take a leisurely stroll through a hardware store or antiques shop and envision plumbing pipe as a curtain rod, old spoons as drawer pulls, vintage windows as screens or wall hangings, and an ottoman as a table.
20. Pull the furniture off the walls. Don't line the sofa, end table, and wing chairs along the perimeter of the room. Turning them on the diagonal is a free way to put a new perspective on a room -- and lets you visualize what items you need to complete the scheme.
21. Light it up. Strategic lighting is an easy—and inexpensive—way to change the look of a room. Use a floor lamp to illuminate a dark corner or to spotlight a colorful piece of wall art. A simple way to alter the mood is to replace your bulbs with lower-wattage models to create a dimly lit, intimate setting.
22. Deck the walls. You don't need pricey artwork. Frame inexpensive items, such as family photographs (especially in black and white), posters, pages from an old calendar, pressed flowers, a quilt, or vintage clothing.
23. Look outside for inspiration. Indoor-outdoor slate tiles, for example, are cheaper than the type used exclusively inside and are still attractive and durable. Pickets for fences make whimsical wainscoting, headboards, or mantel decoration. A wooden or metal trellis, when placed in a container of soil, laced with a climbing vine, and set on a sunny windowsill, stands in as a privacy-giving "curtain."
24. Cover up. Instead of reupholstering an entire sofa or chair, simply re-cover the cushions in coordinating fabric.
25. Work with what you have. Dishware inherited from your grandmother might make a dazzling display in a glass-front hutch. Lively quilts layered on a bed are a striking focal point to a bedroom.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Remodeling Design Tips

Must-Read Remodeling Design Tips

Make your home remodeling design a success with these expert insights.








Do you have a bathroom that needs an upgrade, or an addition that you dream about building? No matter the project, remodeling design can be both a scary and exciting prospect. But there are steps you can take to soothe your worries -- and mind your budget, too. Here are some helpful ideas.

What type of remodeling design client are you?

Maybe you've assembled a carefully organized folder of photos, sample plans, and ideal fixtures and finishes. Or perhaps you just want your living room and kitchen to flow together better, but aren't sure how to get there. Either is OK, and both will have different remodeling design needs says Bill Shaw, owner of a design/build firm in Houston.

Establish a remodeling design need/want/wish list Whether you're a home remodeling design expert or a novice, there's a common place to start, Shaw says. Create three lists: needs, wants, and wishes. "Needs are the things that must be resolved or addressed, or the project won't happen -- the core reason for the home remodel," Shaw says. The key about needs is that they aren't cost sensitive.

Wants and wishes, on the other hand, are where reality and dreams start to separate. "When we talk about budget versus what we want to do, typically most of my clients are not aligned," Shaw says. "To help them decide, I tell them that if they give me their core needs then I can give them an idea of what budget will work. Then we'll address wants and wishes as options, so we can decide what their package is."

While wants and wishes are more cost sensitive, as the project develops there may be some items on those lists that are more cost effective to do right away rather than later.

Get inspired by remodeling design -- in a realistic way
  Online inspiration boards are great -- up to a point. The problem is when you can't afford what you've fallen in love with, or when the ideas won't work in your spaces -- that overpowering chandelier in a home with 9-foot ceilings, for example. One tool that Shaw encourages homeowners to ask about when approaching remodeling design is 3D modeling. "It really helps clients who may not be able to visualize it, so there's not that letdown during construction, when you're looking at a set of one-dimension drawings, and expectations and assumptions are not aligned," he says

Understand remodeling design services and budgets Every person involved in remodeling design brings something different to the table, and it's up to you to understand those services and how they're provided. And don't make the mistake of hiring based on the low bid, too. "Don't make the mistake of hiring based just on cost," Shaw says. "Quality is important, too."

Shaw suggests interviewing companies, putting a list of questions together, and doing your homework. Figure out what's important to you, what criteria you have, and how you can use the interview process to understand how remodeling design team members can help meet that criteria.

Realize, too, that there's no standard for what things cost. A kitchen project in one area of the country may be completely different in budget from what yours will be, and variables differ, too -- hidden problems in a home, for example, or deals you may find on fixtures or appliances.

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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.
Article source: homeadvisor.com

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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/flickr.com
Photo: .waldec/flickr.com

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 networx.com.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

12 Inspiring DIY Home Decor Projects