Archive for the ‘remodeling’ Category

Realty Times – Kitchen Trends 2012

If you are considering updating your kitchen take a look at this.  You want to be certain that you are making updates that have value if you should decide to sell your home. 

“The kitchen is the center of activity for families,” said Janice Jones, vice president of merchandizing for national homebuilder PulteGroup. With the popularity of open floor plan designs, Jones said the kitchen – more than ever before – has evolved into the most important part of the family’s communal space. “In the past, home design was driven by practicality, but now homeowners want function and design to meet – and it starts in the kitchen.”

Read the full article at Realty Times – Kitchen Trends 2012.

Installation Musts for Below Grade Bathroom Fixtures – A Reprint from Inman News

This is important information when installing bathroom fixtures bel0w-grade (in the basement) – this comes from Inman News ( author Paul Bianchina

Q: We need to install  a toilet and sink just below grade going into a septic system for my elderly  parents. Do we need an ejector-type toilet? Also is there a specific make/brand  that we should be looking at? Does someone also make an ejector sink or is  there a way to connect it to the toilet? –Susan M.


A: For the type of installation you describe, where both the  toilet and the sink are below grade, you actually need a sewage ejector pump.  With this type of installation, all of the liquid and solid waste from all of  the below-grade fixtures flows into a holding tank.


When the waste reaches a  certain level, a float mechanism triggers a pump, which pumps the waste up to  the home’s main sewer line. With this type of arrangement, you can also install  other fixtures below grade, such as a shower, bathtub or washing machine.


A complete installation includes the holding tank, which is  a noncorrosive tank that’s usually around 30 gallons of capacity; the pump and  float; a waste line that’s connected to the home’s sewer line; and a vent line  that’s connected to the home’s plumbing vent system. A grounded electrical  connection is also required for the pump.


If you’re not familiar with this type of installation,  you’ll want to have it done by a licensed plumber who’s experienced with  remodeling work. You’ll also need to check with your local building department  to see what plumbing and electrical permits will be required for the  installation.


Q: We recently  purchased a 7-year-old brick home with a crawl space. The inspector said we  need to get a vapor barrier installed in the crawl space to prevent mold. We  haven’t moved in completely yet but do stay at the house for four to eight days  a month.


During our last stay  we noticed that it took a long time to get hot water to the kitchen faucet.  It’s about 30-35 feet from the water heater. I haven’t been in the crawl space  but I’m wondering whether the floor is insulated. What would you recommend we  do? –Dave H.


A: You actually have three different issues here, so let’s  take them separately, along with my recommendations.


The vapor barrier in the crawl space is used to prevent  moisture from the soil from migrating up into the crawl space and, as the  inspector suggests, potentially causing mold problems. It can also cause  problems on the wood framing, and other issues in the crawl space. The vapor  barrier should be 6-mil black plastic sheeting, laid directly on the  dirt.


Crawl-space vapor barriers have been code for quite some  time, so it’s surprising that your 7-year-old house doesn’t have one. My  recommendation: Have a vapor barrier installed as soon as possible.


Issue No. 2 is the floor insulation. Because you had a home  inspection, the inspector would have noted the presence — or lack thereof —  of floor insulation in his report. A crawl space definitely needs a vapor  barrier if it has floor insulation, so unless the vapor barrier was removed for  some reason, you probably don’t have an insulated floor.


My recommendation: Floor insulation definitely helps with  heat loss, so it will keep your home more comfortable and keep your energy  bills down. If the floor isn’t insulated, I’d certainly suggest that you have  that done.


While floor insulation can help with hot water delivery by  keeping water pipes from losing heat, that’s not going to be the cause of your  delay in getting hot water to rooms that are some distance away from the tank.


My recommendation: Drain and flush the tank to be sure it’s  clean and operating properly. Check the thermostats to be sure they’re set  properly. Insulate all the water pipes under the house. Consider having a  plumber install a recirculating pump, which will make a big difference in how  fast hot water makes it to the back of the house.


Q: We live in a 2  1/2-story home with a finished attic. We recently had it insulated. I just  found out that [the insulators] didn’t insulate the attic floor, which I  thought they were supposed to have done. My husband says they shouldn’t, that  it needs to be “open.” Who’s right? –Kris C.


A: Insulation is used primarily to slow down the movement of  heat between heated spaces and unheated spaces, such as between the inside of  the house and the outside, or between a living space and an unheated attic.


Because both your main house and the attic above it are heated living spaces,  from an energy standpoint there is no reason to insulate the floor between the  two spaces. You could, however, insulate it if you wanted to reduce transmitted  noise from that upper room.


Remodeling and repair  questions? Email Paul at All product reviews are based on the author’s actual testing of free review samples provided by the manufacturers.

Six Worst Home Fixes for the Money – A Reprint

The following is a reprint from  It reminds us that you should consider how far you should go when fixing up, remodeling your home.  Is the cost really recoupable? 

It’s the magic phrase uttered by almost anyone who’s ever considered the cost  of home remodeling: “We’ll get it back when we sell.”

Unless you keep those projects practical, though, you might just be kidding  yourself.

For example:

  • Steel front door: Good.
  • Master suite addition costing more than the average American home:  Bad.

Every year, Remodeling magazine looks at the hottest home upgrades and  renovations and calculates just how much owners get back with they sell.

Upkeep is more popular than upgrades these days, says Sal Alfano, editorial  director for Remodeling. These are the projects that often recoup the biggest  slice of expenses at resale. But prices and returns do vary regionally, he  says.

Ever wonder what brings the lowest return when you plant that “for sale”  sign? Think high-dollar, high-end and highly personalized add-ons that make you  drool. Like a totally tricked-out garage built from the ground up. Or a super  luxe master suite addition. Or the home office redo designed just for you.

Here are the six improvements that rank dead last nationally  when it comes to getting those renovation dollars back at resale.

Want to get an idea what today’s office-away-from-the-office looks like? Walk  into Starbucks.

These days, a home office consists of a multiple-choice combination of  wireless laptops, smartphones, PDAs and touch-screen tablets. And that worker  bee might be toiling anywhere from a home patio or a favorite restaurant to a  park bench.

The standard home office renovation, meanwhile — complete with plenty of  built-in storage and high-tech wiring — is this year’s biggest loser in the  resale value sweepstakes. Nationally, homeowners spent an average of $28,888 and  can expect to recoup about 45.8 percent at resale, according to the report.

Return on investment doesn’t reflect your enjoyment of the space, Alfano  says.

He offers two tips for home-office remodelers when they sell. First, opt for  something that can be easily converted back into a bedroom or den for (or by)  the next buyer.

Second, when you’re selling, call it a study, den or hobby  room. “There’s lots of call for multipurpose space. Don’t lock yourself into  that one use,” Alfano says. Don’t use words that invoke images of actual work.  Or the office.

You see a backup generator and imagine all of the comforts no matter what the  weather.

But potential buyers hailing from outside your local area may not share that  vision. (And a handful of those who do might have watched too many zombie  movies.)

On average, when homeowners have a heavy-duty backup power generator  installed, they spend about $14,718, according to the report. Going with a  slightly less expensive model or having a less complicated installation could  cut the costs significantly, Alfano says.

Average amount of the price recovered at resale time: 48.5  percent.

Real estate agents will tell you that potential buyers want square footage,  pristine condition and lots of light. So a brand-new room that has the word  “sun” in it, it has to be great for resale value, right?

Not necessarily.

Your first clue: The word “addition” — which means expanding the footprint  of your home — indicates that this is not a renovation for the faint of heart  (or wallet). “It’s one of the more expensive projects,” Alfano says.

While it seems simple enough, the national average for a sunroom addition is  $75,224, according to the report. Homeowners can expect to recoup about 48.6  percent when they sell.

That doesn’t mean that adding a sunroom is always a bad move.

If your home needs another common area, a sunroom could be the  answer, says Katie Severance, co-author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to  Selling Your Home.” An addition is best considered in the context of the whole  home, she says. “The doctor has to treat the whole patient. You have to look at  the house and say ‘What’s out of balance?'”

Who doesn’t want to wake up in a five-star-hotel-quality suite with an  attached spa bathroom and a kitchenette that affords you coffee and pastries  before facing the world?

Once you see the price tag, it won’t just be the coffee keeping you up at  night.

For a super-deluxe master suite addition — which adds square footage and  uses only top-dollar materials — the average cost is about $232,062, according  to the report.

That’s 460 nights at a posh resort with enough left over to raid the  minibar.

In years past, this project was “sort of a trend in vacation homes” that  migrated to primary dwellings, Alfano says. Sellers can expect to recover about  52.7 percent at resale.

Your buyer can purchase a newer house with the same features as part of the  original floor plan that “probably lays out better anyway,” says Loren Keim,  author of “How to Sell Your Home in Any Market.”

So while the next buyer may appreciate your luxury  accommodations (which could even tip their decision in your home’s favor),  chances are they won’t want to pay the full tab for your remodel

Unless you’re a hermit who never entertains, you’ve probably wished for an  extra bathroom now and then.

But bathroom additions require serious coin. For a moderately outfitted  addition with synthetic stone or plastic laminate surfaces, figure parting with  about $21,695, according to the Remodeling report. Go upscale, with finishes  like premium marble or fine tile, and you can easily spend in the neighborhood  of $40,710.

Either way, you get about the same return: 53 cents on the dollar. “In the  buyer’s mind, the additional bathroom isn’t worth that additional $20,000 to  $40,000,” Keim says.

Investigate a less-expensive way to get the same result without  flushing quite as much cash. While additions usually cost more, pros might be  able to reconfigure your existing space to add a bathroom for less, Alfano  says.

Instead of cleaning out the garage, how much would you pay to have a new one  built from scratch?

This time, it would have all the organizational built-ins, and a durable,  easy-to-clean floor to ensure it would never be messy again. And windows for  natural light.

Oh yeah, and you could store a couple of cars in there, too.

The price tag for a top-of-the-line detached two-car with all the trimmings  is about $90,053, according to the report. You can expect to recover about 53.6  percent of that when you sell.

“This one is completely decked out on the inside,” says Alfano. “It’s a dream  garage.”

And that’s likely some of the problem with recovering the value  at resale. Says Keim, “You’ve got a very small target audience out there that  wants an upscale garage.”

Remember that resale is what the new buyer is willing to pay.  Bottom line is that while they may like these items, do they find them important enough to pay extra for them. 

Which Remodeling Projects Payoff – A Reprint

This information was pickedup from the National Associaton of Realtors Blog.  It is great information for anyone thinking about selling their home and reminds one of the importance of only doing those projects that bring more value to the home. 

2011-2012 Cost vs. Value: Which Remodeling Projects Pay Off the Most?

On January 25, 2012, in Helpful Tools, Remodeling Adviser, by Melissa Tracey

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

When tackling home remodeling projects, you’ll find some projects pay off more than others at times of resale. Remodeling Magazine, in conjunction with REALTOR® Magazine, recently released findings of its annual Cost vs. Value report for 2011-2012, revealing which remodeling projects offer the biggest bang for your buck.

Overall, the trend right now is replacement over remodeling–swapping out the old for the new rather than doing a total gut job, which can be much more costly.

This year’s Cost vs. Value report found that exterior replacement projects–such as new garage doors and a new entry door–offer some of the best returns at resale, allowing home owners to recoup close to 70 percent or more of the costs of the project at times of resale.

The following are the top, mid-range projects from this year’s report, based on what home owners stand to recoup at time of resale:

1. Replacing the entry door to steel

Estimated cost: $1,238

Cost recouped at resale: 73%

2. Attic bedroom (converting unfinished attic space into a bedroom with bathroom and shower)

Estimated cost: $50,148

Cost recouped at resale: 72.5%

3. Minor kitchen remodel (including new cabinets and drawers, countertops, hardware, and appliances)

Estimated cost: $19,588

Cost recouped at resale: 72.1%

4. Garage door replacement

Estimated cost: $1,512

Cost recouped at resale: 71.9%

5. Deck addition (wood)

Estimated cost: $10,350

Cost recouped at resale: 70.1%

6. Siding replacement (vinyl)

Estimated cost: $11,729

Cost recouped at resale: 69.5%

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