Friday, 23 February 2018 19:53

Renovate your old home on the cheap

Home renovations aren’t cheap and can be especially costly for old homes, but there are ways to give your old home a facelift without spending a fortune. Follow these tips to renovate your old home on the cheap.

1) Finish your walls to the floor

What I mean by “finish your walls to the floor” is to hang your drywall so that it comes as close to your floor as possible. Finish your walls to the floor also means applying wall texture as far down the wall as you can if you’re using wall texture. You don’t want to leave a few-inch gap because you know there will be baseboard trim there and then find after you’ve attached the trim that there are glaring spots lacking texture. You can’t re-apply wall texture without covering your trim or removing it, so do the work properly upfront and you won’t run into problems that waste your time or money later.

 

Leaving a considerable gap between your floor and your wall might force you to buy a wider baseboard to affix to the base of the wall in order to hide the gap. That’s exactly what the former owners of my 1925 home did, likely because of damaged edges of the drywall they thought the 3.25-inch baseboard would cover and didn’t. Hint: the baseboards you’ll commonly find at home improvement stores are 3.25 inches wide, and the next largest size is likely 4.5 inches, which increases your costs considerably. Special ordering 3.5-inch baseboard trim is a possibility, so if you have other renovations you can do while you wait for your baseboard, do that.

 

If your renovation can’t wait on a special order, you can affix another piece of trim, called a toe kick, to the bottom of the baseboard so you can cheat the baseboard up the wall and cover the unfinished portions of your walls. The toe kick can help hide the slope of your floors, too, as you can affix it to the baseboard while it’s flush with the floor. It’s a lot easier to do with an automatic nailer loaded with finishing nails than to risk damaging your floors using a hammer.  This is all more expensive than finishing your walls to the floor, though.

2) Use as little wall texture as possible

Wall texture makes painting your walls more expensive, and it’s expensive itself. You’ll undoubtedly use more paint to cover the bumps and holes wall texture brings with it, and you’ll spend more than $12 per can on wall texture to cover your mistakes. That can doesn’t go as far as it says on the can, either. On the medium setting, you can blow through a can of wall texture before you finish two walls in an average-sized room.

 

If you finish your walls properly, you shouldn’t need to use wall texture. Finish your walls with thin layers of drywall mud and then sand them to a flat finish. Vacuum the dust off the floor and the walls, and then wash the walls with a damp rag. You should be able to get away with one coat of paint in most cases.

3) Always paint, never wallpaper

Wallpaper is a pain in the ass to hang and remove. It’s also more expensive than paint. And eventually, you’ll tire of the puppy wallpaper you hung in your son’s bedroom when he was a toddler, but won’t be too excited about taking it down. So just paint instead.

 

In fact, you can save a bunch of money by planning your paint projects ahead of time. I shop the “Oops” paint at hardware stores to get a gallon of paint for less than $10. There is nothing wrong with “Oops” paint. The color just wasn’t acceptable to whomever ordered it. I was actually paid $1 for buying a gallon of “Oops” paint at Lowe’s after a mail-in rebate. That paint goes for $45 per gallon regularly. Even if one gallon isn’t enough to complete my project, I can have the color matched and get just enough to finish the job at regular price.

 

I stretch my paint as far as I can by using a paintbrush as much as possible. Rollers waste a lot of paint, so if you are going to use a roller, invest in the “high-dollar,” sheepskin rollers that advertise “one coat coverage” on the package. They’re usually only a few cents more expensive than economy rollers and are more efficient when painting walls with a lot of wall texture.  

4) Reuse what you can

I took out one of my two bedroom doors and put in recessed shelving in its place, which meant I needed baseboard trim for the wall I added that matched the trim already in the living room. The same trim is used throughout the house, but a lot of it has paint drippings dried to it because the last person who painted failed to tape over the trim. Since that trim needs to be removed, sanded and refinished, I cannibalized a piece of baseboard in my bedroom that was roughly the same shade and mostly clear of paint and affixed it to the new wall in the living room. Since I’m painting the baseboard trim in the bedroom, I’ll buy a new piece and paint it to replace the one I moved.

 

You’d be surprised what you’ll wish you had kept when you start renovating your old home. Since I intend to add both a bathroom and kitchen sink in my unfinished basement, I kept all the plumbing pieces from my kitchen sink upstairs that were no longer needed after I installed a dishwasher. I’ll keep the old faucet when I install a new one as well.

5) Find more square footage between the studs

Old homes tend to have a lot of potential in unutilized space. Homebuilders back in the day were less concerned with how to best utilize the square footage of the home than they were with building a home that was structurally sound.

 

Old homes tend to have load-bearing walls in all the wrong places, and small homes are even worse because there are so few walls. Neither allow homeowners to easily take out walls and create a more open floor plan that makes the home look bigger. So you have to find space where you can. The easiest place to find more square footage in every home is between the studs of every wall.

 

Don’t buy bookcases and make your home smaller. Build a bookcase into your walls and make it look bigger. Every two-inch by four-inch wall has roughly 3.5 inches of potential shelf space between the studs, which are usually 16 to 24 inches apart. While 3.5 inches doesn’t sound like a lot, it provides plenty of space to install supports for a shelf you can extend beyond the depth of the wall.

 

That shelving unit I installed in place of my second bedroom door will have 7.5-inch shelves I can use to store my vinyl record collection. Those records are 12.5 inches wide but don’t need a shelf equal in width to support them. I know this because they currently sit on shelves that are 7.75 inches wide. I’ve pulled them out more than an inch, and they still sit flat on the shelf.

 

So instead of storing my records on a bookshelf sitting on the floor and losing valuable square footage in my home, I’m actually making my tiny home look bigger than it is by keeping the shelves off the floor and recessed into the walls.

 

I’ve already found more square footage in my old home by building a custom shelving unit into my living room walls for my stereo equipment. Instead of having an entertainment center with my turntable, amplifier, receiver and power center sitting on the floor, it’s all neatly stacked in the corner of the living room above my subwoofer. What previously robbed my home of eight square feet now sits in an area less than 2.5 square feet in size.

 

Follow these tips to renovate your old home on the cheap and you’ll not only save some money for a potential addition or new appliances, but you’ll save yourself valuable time, space and headaches.

 

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If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: USA Prepares, Building America, Free Talk Live, American Survival Radio, Jim Brown’s Common Sense, Drop Your Energy Bill, The Tech Night Owl, What’s Cookin Today, The Easy Organic Gardener, Home Talk

Published in News & Information
Monday, 12 February 2018 17:42

7 home improvements that will payoff most

The Home Building and Remodeling Expo visited Minneapolis over the weekend, providing ample opportunities to win things, ranging from complete kitchen and bathroom remodels to an ATV. There was also ample opportunity to schedule free estimates for home improvements and remodels.

The Dody Kettler Team of Keller Williams Realty put together a flyer with the four “home improvements worth doing,” including estimates and expected cost recuperation according to the 2018 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report. That information was mostly incomplete and is based on who is buying homes now and not who will be buying homes.

Millennials are looking for different things than their mothers and fathers did when buying their first homes. Some staples like curb appeal and off-street parking are still important, but you’d be surprised what Millennials want in a home. So here are the seven home improvements that will payoff the most given the new market of Millennial buyers.

7) Exterior lighting

More than half of all buyers desire well-lit exteriors, but Millennials showed a stronger preference compared to other generations. A well-lit exterior conveys safety and security, and if you think homebuyers won’t drive by your home at night, you’re wrong. Thoroughly informed homebuyers know to visit the neighborhoods where they’re shopping to see what the neighborhood looks and sounds like at night. If you’ll forgive the cliché, the difference can be night and day.

Installing exterior lighting around garden beds and lights operating on motion sensors is a modest expense that will really improve your curb appeal and keep the offers coming. Path lights run $10 a piece, and motion-sensor lights can be had for less than $20.

6) Energy efficient appliances

It should be no surprise that energy efficiency is important to Millennial homebuyers entering the market. They are environmentally conscious and frugal to boot. That’s why you shouldn’t ignore updating your appliances before selling your home.

Installing a Solar Array

If you own a small home and require very little electricity, installing a solar array could pay itself off before you even complete the rest of your home renovations. I averaged 312 kilowatt-hours in January at a rate of roughly 15 cents per kilowatt-hour through Xcel Energy. Wholesale Solar has a calculator that can recommend a solar array perfect for your home and estimates how long it will take to payoff. I could install a solar array for just over $1,000. It will pay for itself in just two years, so don’t let anyone tell you installing a solar array is too expensive.

Replacing Your Hot Water Heater

Besides your heating and cooling systems, your hot water heater is the most energy intensive appliance in your home. My furnace and hot water heater were recently replaced and played a big role in influencing my purchase. Any home with a hot water heater or furnace more than three years old were basically knocked off my list immediately.

Your hot water heater is also the cheapest of the “big three” appliances to replace. Units that can heat 30 gallons run less than $400, and 40-gallon units are less than $600.

Replacing Your Washer/Dryer

Replacing that old clothes washer/dryer combination is an absolute must. Your washer and dryer are responsible for 13 percent of your home energy consumption. That’s way more than your refrigerator, which accounts for four percent of your home energy consumption.

Keep in mind that, more than anything, Millennials want a laundry room, and Millennials prefer their laundry to be on the same floor as their bedroom, so if you have a room on your main floor for a stackable washer/dryer and can run some plumbing to it easily, it would behoove you to do so.

Replacing Your Refrigerator/Freezer

The refrigerator/freezer is the cornerstone of the kitchen. As the biggest item in your kitchen, it dictates the look and feel of your cooking environment and tends to turn heads, in either a good or bad way.

Before you decide to replace your refrigerator/freezer, though, use Energy Star’s calculator to determine whether it’s worth it. A new refrigerator isn’t going to sell your house, but if you have other renovations that will take years to complete, or intend to stay in your home for awhile, having an energy efficient refrigerator/freezer could payoff. Replacing a refrigerator/freezer made in the early 1990s with an Energy Star refrigerator/freezer can save you over $150 per year.

Oven/Range

New appliances can make your kitchen bigger and give it an updated look that will be appreciated by anyone who cooks. I moved out an old, 40-inch-wide gas range in my kitchen and replaced it with a newer, more efficient 36-inch range that gave me enough room to add an 18-inch dishwasher to a kitchen measuring roughly 100 square feet. So not only am I saving energy, but I made my kitchen bigger, which goes a lot further than new appliances in selling your home. I even scored a newer microwave that matches the oven/range! If new appliances aren’t in your budget, shop Craigslist for local deals.

5) Wood deck additions

Curb appeal is still most important when it comes to enticing offers on your home, and nothing improves your curb appeal like a wood deck addition. Composite decking might hold up better against the elements, but wood still looks and feels better, as is indicated by the fact that three of every four new decks built are still constructed with pressure-treated lumber. Much of that has to do with cost.

A two-by-six-inch piece of pressure-treated lumber runs a little more than $1 per linear foot. Composite decking is more than twice that, and plastic decking is three times the price. So if you’re going to build a deck, build it of wood. You won’t mind washing it annually and putting a stain on it every few years because it will look and feel so much better than your neighbors’ cold, composite deck.

The 2018 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report says you can expect to recuperate almost 83 percent of your costs on a wood deck addition. That cost is estimated at $10,950 on average. A composite deck addition only recuperates 63.6% of an average cost of $17,668.

4) Manufactured stone veneer

Again, improving the curb appeal of your home continues to top the list of home renovations that payoff the most. Adding a manufactured stone veneer around the base of your home will have homebuyers salivating before they cross the threshold...or even park the car.

You don’t have to be a millionaire to give your home good masonry anymore. Rock work has exploded in popularity, so there are more people doing it and materials that allow it to be done at a reasonable rate. You can get enough manufactured stone to cover 150 square feet for just over $1,100.  

You’d probably be surprised to discover that adding a manufactured stone veneer is estimated to cost just over $8,000 on average. The return on investment is even more shocking -- 97.1 percent and climbing considerably.

3) Steel entry door replacement

As this list indicates, curb appeal is still king when it comes to selling your home, and nothing improves that appeal more than a designer front door constructed of steel. Replacing your front door not only provides the best return on investment but is the cheapest renovation you can make to your home before putting it on the market.

Even if you’re not selling your home, purchasing a new front door is a smart investment. You can dramatically lower your heating and cooling costs by adding a new front door, and why not change the door if you have to change the locks anyways?

The 2018 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report estimates the cost of replacing your front door at $1,471, which is a bargain considering how much it’ll payoff. You can expect to get 91.3 percent of that cost back in resale value.

2) Landscaping

This would be number one on the list if the return on investment was just a little bit higher. The beauty of improving the landscaping surrounding your home is that it’s something you can do yourself and, hopefully, enjoy doing.

Planting some trees and bushes and putting in a garden with some nice, stone pavers is cheap, and a 2016 survey conducted by The National Association of Realtors and the National Association of Landscape Professionals found the return on investment to be 105 percent. Again -- curb appeal.

1) Insulation

Insulation isn’t typically seen or noticed by homebuyers unless your realtor makes it a point to sell the energy efficiency of your home, but the payoff of proper insulation is better than any other home renovation you can make. It’s also cheap.

Most insulation installations can be done for less than $1,500 -- on par with the replacement of your front door -- but the return on investment was 108 percent in 2017, according to Remodeling Magazine. The best part is, added insulation is a good investment whether you intend to sell your home or not.

So there are the seven home renovations that will payoff the most given the Millennials looking for their first homes. Invest wisely.


If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: USA Prepares, Building America, Free Talk Live, American Survival Radio, Jim Brown’s Common Sense, Drop Your Energy Bill, The Tech Night Owl, What’s Cookin Today, The Easy Organic Gardener, Home Talk

Published in News & Information

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