Archive for the ‘affording remodeling’ Category

How to Increase Natural Light in Your Home

Energy Efficient Windows

Natural Lighting

There are many ways that you can increase how much natural light comes into your Baltimore, Maryland home or business. By doing this, you are able to save some money on your utilities, stop your eyes from being strained, and it can have a positive psychological and physical effects. Having increase natural light in an area can cause better concentration, better moods, and even a productivity increase at work. Here are a few tips on how to get more natural light into your home.

Maximize Existing Natural Light

One of the simplest things you can do is make sure that the curtains and shades get pulled all the way back and all the way up. By moving furniture that blocks more natural light from entering, natural light will pass to the rest of the room. Continue reading

How to Reduce Summer Utility Bills

Air Conditioning Thermostat

`Heating and Air Conditioning Thermostat

Well folks, summer is just around the corner here in sunny Providence New Jersey.  Getting your home ready for the warm summer is equally as important as weatherizing your home for the chilly winter.    There are ways to prep your house for summer and trim your cooling bills.  Most of us cringe before opening our electric bills during the summer.  We know it’s going to sting a little but just how much is the question.  Hopefully in this article we can help curb that anxiety. Continue reading

Cost of Second Story Floor Addition

This is a guest post by

Erick D. Smith is a blogger living in San Diego who writes about home construction and remodeling. To get a more accurate estimate from one of San Diego’s expert home construction firms, click here.

A second story addition can be a great way to increase the spaciousness of your home, raising its value and giving your growing family the room it needs. Undertaking the project, however, is no small thing. It can be very costly, depending on the size of your house, and regardless of size, it will involve a lot of planning, time, and hard work. Making a thorough cost analysis and creating a realistic budget will make the whole process a whole lot easier and will help you avoid overspending. To help get you started thinking about and planning your second story addition, here is a brief breakdown of the costs that will be involved.

Important Things to Consider

• City and County Requirements – Before you get started on the logistics of the project, it’s important to do some research into the region’s second story addition regulations. Every city and county has its own set of rules regarding how much square footage you’re allowed to add to your home. This is usually based on the amount of land you have. Using San Diego as an example, a good place to find the information you need is the sandiego.gov construction permits page.

Temporary Housing – A lot of contractors will recommend that you live somewhere else, temporarily, while your house is being remodeled. This is a good idea, as it will be more comfortable for you as well as safer, so start thinking of a good place where you might stay before beginning your project. The cost of alternative temporary housing is something you should definitely calculate into your budget.

Standard Expenses

• Contractors – Even if you opt to do as much of the managerial work as possible yourself, there’s no getting around the cost of skilled subcontractors. About 30 – 40 percent of your budget is likely to go towards contract work. The average cost for contractors when adding a second floor to your home is usually between $70 and $150 per square foot.

• Structural Engineer – When you’re looking for home construction services, be sure to look for a good structural engineer in your area. This is someone who will be able to inspect your home and determine whether the existing foundation will support a second story addition, or whether additional foundation work will be required.

• Architect – An architect is an important part of a successful second story addition project. He or she will be needed to create a blueprint of the project and an accurate set of plan drawings. The cost of an architect depends on the size and complexity of the project, and will either be a flat fee or a 5 to 15 percent commission.

Effect on Your Home Value

Adding a second story to your home will lead to a reassessment of your property taxes. This means that they’ll probably increase, but in most areas the reassessment will only be of the second story addition, not of the whole house. The overall value of your home will increase significantly, but keep in mind that utility bills are also likely to go up.

Adding Value to Your Home

This is a guest post by, Kevin Fortmyer

Kevin was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. He lives with his wife and 2 kids, and enjoys spending his free time camping and fishing. He works for various online schools as a freelance writer.

In the current economic climate, every penny counts more than it has since the Great Depression. Nowhere is this more evident than in the realm of home improvement. Hit hardest in the current recession, the present real estate market is slowly on the rebound, but is growing at a much slower pace than the rest of the economy is. Many home owners have seen their greatest investment, their house, lose up to 40% of its value in the past 3 years. Many are enacting various home improvement projects in an attempt to shore up or increase the value of their home as a result. Some are even attending interior design schools to become experts in home improvement and design. This begs the question: what are the best home improvement options to consider in the current economic climate?

1. Paint

Painting is a cheap, easy way to remodel any room of your house or revamp the exterior. With many space-enhancing color schemes to choose from, it’s hard not to find a room that could do with a splash of new color and personality. Speaking of personality, stenciling is making a comeback during the recession, allowing for an expensive look with minimal overhead cost.

2. Extend

Adding an extension to your house can add between 10 and 50% to its value, depending on where you put it and how well it’s built and finished. The key here is to find a need your home has and consider the addition to accommodate that need, such as expanding a tiny kitchen or adding a necessary bedroom for your growing family. Another idea is to add an outdoor room extension, giving you extra space for a playroom, home office, or whatever your heart desires.

3. Kitchen Remodel
Though it can be expensive, remodeling your kitchen can add 10% to your home’s value, essentially paying for itself. It is the first room potential buyers will look at that will make or break their interest in your home. It is also a room you’re likely to spend a lot of time in, and should be as comfortable, modern, and spacious as possible. Some easy and relatively inexpensive ways to improve your kitchen are:

• Add new lighting fixtures.
• Add an island.
• Paint and revamp the cabinets.
• Install new counters.
• Replace the kitchen sink.
• Make a backsplash.

4. Re-insulate
Improving the insulation in your home is a basic cost cutting home improvement you can do in a weekend that can cut your utility bill by as much as one-quarter! And while rolling out the pink fiberglass in attics and basements is a great start, there are other areas where insulation is needed that many homeowners do not consider:

• Weather-strip doors and windows to prevent both heat loss and cold air invasion.
• A water heater insulation jacket prevents heat loss through the walls of your water heater.

• Insulating your connected garage will form an extra protective barrier between your home and the elements.
• Some homes have room for blown in insulation in between the siding and the frame of the house.

5. Where you go
Although it may not seem an obvious choice, improving your bathroom is a great way to add value to your house in a room everybody will be visiting sooner or later. Adding new tile and a splash of light color to the walls can be enough to give the bathroom a completely different ambiance. Changing the lighting and the counter space can also change it into a completely new room.

As with anything in life, do not embark upon home improvement ideas without having a good plan and the proper tools and materials to execute them. Attending some classes at interior design schools is another great way to prepare yourself for the home improvement tasks that are placed before you.

2010 Federal Tax Credit for Energy Efficiency

This is a guest post by James Kenton

James Kenton is owner of Advanced Metal Roofing, a residential metal roofing company featuring ENERGY STAR metal roofing colors that qualify for the 2010 Federal Tax Credit.

The federal government is offering a tax credit for energy efficiency that expires December 31, 2010 through its ENERGY STAR program. This means that now is the time to make home improvements or jump start that remodeling job you’ve been waiting on in order to benefit from the tax credit. It’s important to first confirm with your home improvement contractor that the appliance or parts they are installing comply with the qualifications of the tax credit. You can also check this yourself in order to hold your home contractor accountable.

The ENERGY STAR website provides information on what type of home improvement or home remodeling projects qualify for the energy efficiency tax credit. They point out that products that qualify for the ENERGY STAR seal do not necessarily qualify for the tax credit, but they do ensure that you are helping to make your home more energy efficient while also saving money on home heating, cooling, electric, and/or gas bills. Categories of home improvement projects that do qualify for the 2010 federal tax credit include:

  1. Windows, Doors, and Skylights
  2. Storm Windows and Doors
  3. Metal Roofs with Appropriate Pigmented Coatings
  4. Asphalt Roofs with Appropriate Cooling Granules
  5. Insulation such as Bulk Insulation and Air Seal Products such as Weather Stripping, Spray Foam, Caulk, and House Wrap
  6. Gas, Oil, and Propane Water Heaters
  7. Electric Heat Pump Water Heaters
  8. Advanced Main Air Circulating Fans
  9. Air Source Heat Pumps
  10. Central Air Conditioning
  11. Gas, Propane, or Oil Hot Water Boilers
  12. Natural Gas or Propane Furnaces
  13. Oil Furnaces
  14. Biomass Stoves

The home improvement items listed here each have specific requirements that make them eligible for the tax credit. You can check with your contractor to make sure that the appliance, item, or system you choose will meet those requirements. You can double check for yourself on the ENERGY STAR 2010 Federal Tax Credit website.

Each of these items are eligible for a 30% tax credit of the cost of the item up to $1,500. You may have heard of this tax credit referred to as the 30% Tax Credit or $1,500 Tax Credit. Those are both slightly misleading because you may receive a full 30% if the cost is under $1,500 or you may receive $1,500 if the item cost exceeds that amount. In most cases, the tax credit does NOT include installation costs.

In order to take advantage of this energy efficiency tax credit, you must purchase the qualifying home improvement item before December 31, 2010. Then you must file an IRS Form 5695 with your 2010 federal taxes (this link is for the 2009 version of the form – please check back with the IRS for the 2010 version).

The ENERGY STAR website has more information and answers to frequently asked questions: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=tax_credits.tx_index. This post is not a definitive resource. Please be sure to read the ENERGY STAR website thoroughly to be sure you are in compliance with their guidelines and that you follow their instructions in order to receive the energy efficiency credit.

Happy Home Remodeling!