Winterizing your home is one of the best ways to get comfortable and save energy costs. It’s not too late to get a few projects done before the holidays, so here’s a short weekend list of to-dos to help you.
Check the furnace. Typically, a heating system has a heat/cooling source, distribution system, and thermostat, so there is plenty of room for error. Make sure that your system is properly inspected and cleaned and has fresh filters according to maintenance directions. Call a master certified plumber to look for potential dangers such as carbon monoxide leaks.
Check detectors. Since you’ll be indoors more, it makes sense to also check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. According to EPA.gov, smoke detectors with a UL rating have a useful life of 10 years so don’t just push the button to see if it’s working. Stick a real flame source, such as a candle or a match, to see if the detector can actually pick up on the smoke being emitted.
Check insulation. Energy leaks put a hole in your wallet, so do your best to identify and seal all leaks in your ceiling/attic and cracks in or around your windows and doors. A quick way to check if you have enough insulation is to go into your attic and look at your rafters-if you can see ceiling joists you can add some more insulation. Though this will be an expensive process, your heating costs will drop right away.
One pleasure in buying an older home is the beauty of mature trees on your property and their dazzling display of fall colors when the weather turns cool. But, what happens to the leaves when they fall?
What you don’t want is leaves clogging your gutters, preventing them doing their most important job – to route roof water away from vulnerable areas of the home’s exterior and garden. If your new home doesn’t have gutters or needs new ones, consider investing in them as an important and elegant part of your home’s curb appeal.
Today’s gutters are far from the boring half-pipe gullies of the past. You can choose gutters in an array of sizes, materials and designs that add style and value to your home. A general rule is the more durable and valuable the material, the higher the cost, but the longer it will last, according to Bankrate.com.
Vinyl is the most economical, but least durable. Aluminum is more durable but can crack like vinyl, but not as quickly. Some lower cost options may be available in faux-metal finishes. If your home is surrounded by trees, or your area experiences strong winds, choose steel, zinc or copper which can carry much more weight and last a lifetime.
A popular choice for gutters is the K-style which has a staircase design that resembles crown molding, so your home appears finished in finer detail from the street. Choose gutters with leaf and debris guards to minimize home maintenance chores.
Angieslist.com suggests that a typical asphalt shingle roof will last about 20 to 25 years, depending on variables such as the quality of the shingles, the professionalism of the installation, homeowner maintenance over the years, and, of course, the weather.
Your roof should have several lines of defense or redundancies. If one part fails, such as when a shingle blows off, there should be other protective layers such as an underlying membrane, flashing around chimneys and sealants that prevent the roof from leaking.
Because 70 percent of U.S. homes have asphalt or composition shingle roofs, replacement roofs tend to be similar. According to Roofingcalc.com, the average roof size in the U.S. is 1,700 square feet. Professional roofers calculate area by 100 square feet, so it would take 17 “squares” to reroof the average home. Materials and labor can run anywhere between $350 and $550 per square, or approximately $6000 to $9350.
Leaks through the ceiling, missing shingles, frayed or curling shingle edges, or erosion of the mineral granules are all signs that it’s time to repair or replace your roof. Have your roof inspected by a reputable roofing contractor, who can tell you if the roof was properly installed and maintained.
Check with your homeowner’s insurance company about coverage. Insurance.com warns that many companies will amortize coverage according to the age of the roof and refuse coverage if the roof has two or more previous layers of roofs or if the roof is 20 years or older.
According to Kitchen and Bath Business, homeowners have higher expectations for their bathrooms than ever before. They want a luxurious, spa-like space like the wealthiest mansion-dwellers enjoy.
So, what are the secrets to achieving a luxurious bath?
Space: Getting ready for the day or night out is done in one large room, with adjoining closets and separate sectors for bathing, grooming, and dressing.
Privacy: A master bath should be inaccessible to any other rooms besides the master bedroom. Separate “his and her” water closets, along with separate dressing areas, help keep the marital romance alive.
Serenity: You’ll find most luxury baths in Houzz.com or Pinterest.com, feature soothing colors, like gentle shades of water.
Quality: Wealthy people choose designs that stand the test of time including high-quality metal fixtures, solid core-doors, and fine wood, stone, and tile.
Remodeling isn’t always practical, but even using one idea will help you enjoy your bath more. Meanwhile, light some candles and dim the lights for a long soak in the tub. You’ll feel like a million.
Cabinets set the style for any kitchen, and with advances in functionality as well as beauty, your new cabinets should transform your food prep workspace.
All kitchens have trouble spots that can be fixed with the right design. Hire a certified kitchen designer, who’s adept at space planning, traffic control and up to date on the newest products.
The most popular cabinet doors today are flat fronted with hidden hardware for a modern esthetic. Look for “quiet closing” cabinets that close softly to prevent slamming. Storage that pulls down, rotates or lifts up can save your back and the need for a stepladder. Drawers that pull out under countertops are easier to use than shelves because you can see everything that’s stored. Cabinets that reach the ceiling can accommodate items you don’t use daily, like holiday dinnerware.
Many new kitchen cabinets come in various wood grains and stains, factory-painted wood, and porcelain or laminate fronts. Island cabinets often feature a contrasting color to the wall cabinets.
Be open to new products that can save you valuable time, such as built-in drink stations, refrigerated drawers and large trough sinks. Visit kitchen showrooms with your designer for more inspiration.
If you’re a seller refreshing your home for resale or an
investor selling a remodeled home, you should know that some updates won’t
impress today’s homebuyers. Inexpensive updates in lieu of the more durable and
sustainable materials that buyers prefer may scare buyers into wondering where
else you cut costs.
Single coat paint – Single coats can leave a ghost of the
previous color that peeks through, nor do they deliver the rich color and
texture of carefully applied second coats.
Peel and stick tiles– Nothing says cheap like peel and stick
tile for floors or backsplashes. Yes, you can remove them, but the real thing
wears and looks better.
Faux Granite – What makes granite beautiful and the focal
point of a kitchen or bath is the natural veins and spots of color. While some
laminates and quartz closely copy granite, you’re better off choosing a solid
color countertop replacement and putting the wow factor somewhere else, like a
decorative tile backsplash.
Acrylic one-piece shower/tub— It may look clean and new, but
you don’t want your bathroom to look like it belongs in a motel. Spend the
money for a new tub, fresh grouted tile and a contemporary glass door.
Painted cabinets – Paint eventually chips and doesn’t really
update worn, outdated cabinets. It doesn’t make up for the lack of easy sliding
drawers, pull-out shelving and hidden hinges that are standard features of
modern cabinets. New factory-painted doors could be an inexpensive update that
will look and wear better.