Top 10 Value-Enhancing Home Improvement Projects For Older Homes

Do you own an older home, and are you looking to make upgrades that matter? Strategic enhancements not only increase a property’s resale value, but also its functionality.

Here are some leading home-improvement projects for older homes:

Technology additions: Smart-home features are frequently requested in new construction. Fortunately, your older home can become a smart home too when you implement technology, such as home automation. Thanks to WiFi, there’s no need for clumsy and costly rewiring. Smart thermostats, smart music and programmable lighting are prime examples.

Tankless water heaters: Tankless water heaters are ideal for older homes because they are easy to install, take up much less space and can reduce energy costs by as much as 60 percent. Because they heat water on demand, you never have to worry about running out of hot water. What’s more, longer warranties than what can be found with traditional storage-tank water heaters are now available. Check out the new 25-year warranty from Noritz on select tankless water heaters.

Wall removal: Removing a wall between the kitchen and living room can enhance the functionality of the area and provide a modern open concept design. Cutouts in walls are another option if the wall cannot be completely removed. Remember to ensure any wall is not load-bearing before removal, so you don’t impact the structural integrity of the home.

Popcorn ceilings: Once upon a time, popcorn ceilings were the top trend installed in every house. Today, they distract the eye and make a home look old. Consider hiring someone to redo your ceilings or research how to scrape it yourself. Leave flat or add a knock-down texture, which is a popular modern drywall finishing technique.

New paint/wallpaper: That ’70s pea-green paint in the bathroom and the ’80s floral wallpaper in the bedroom instantly date your home. By updating the walls, your house will feel more modern and you can customize to your personal tastes. Dedicate a weekend to painting the walls in your favorite spaces and you’ll be amazed at the transformation.

Painting old grout: After years and sometimes decades, grout in bathrooms and kitchen spaces really takes a beating and turns a dirty color that’s impossible to clean. It can be time-consuming and tedious to replace grout, so to get a fresh look consider painting it instead. Specialty grout paint makes the process simple with easy application features that simply roll on.

Update hardware: Hardware throughout a home gets dingy and dated. To update a space without an overhaul, simply change out the hardware. Cabinet knobs, drawer handles, towel racks and more in a modern metallic hue can make a space feel fresh again without much investment. Don’t forget about air registers, which can also impact the visual appeal of a space.

Energy-efficient insulation: There are many modern insulation options available today that weren’t around when older homes were built, and many of those homes have little to no insulation at all. In addition to insulation, remember to seal spaces for air loss, such as air ducts, doors, windows, pipe inlets and the attic.

Embrace the history: Be sure to research the history of the home and neighborhood. Would pulling out that original wood built-in be a detriment to the home’s authenticity and value? Perhaps you can hire someone to update the original wood flooring, so it has the modern stain tone you like, but the planks still maintain the home’s original luster.

Light fixtures: Light-fixture styles change through the years and can make your home appear older than necessary. Replacements can make a world of difference. For example, replace an old brass chandelier with a modern pendant design. Not only will it be a style update, but the light output can make the space more usable.

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Connectivity Is King This Home-Buying Season

The spring home-buying season is just around the corner and that means people are busy making improvements to get their homes ready to sell. These days, home upgrades are increasingly focused on one key feature: connectivity. In 2019, buyers want smart homes they can easily control from anywhere. From smart HVAC and sprinkler systems to connected garage door openers, it’s all about creating convenience and comfort.

Security gets connected

Security systems are nothing new, but the technology used to arm those systems is changing rapidly. More and more home security companies now offer fully connected systems that allow users to protect and monitor their homes from any smart device. Whether it’s a live video feed, the ability to lock and unlock doors remotely or just checking that all sensors are working properly, integrated security systems offer peace of mind. Having the infrastructure in place can be a selling point for buyers who want to make sure their new home is as safe as possible, given they’ll only have to set up the monitoring subscription upon move-in.

Updated garages add value

According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2019 Cost vs. Value survey, a garage door replacement is the number one home improvement project in terms of return on investment. But these days, more homeowners are taking it a step further and installing new technology to make the garage more user friendly. For example, the SilentMax Connect garage door opener from The Genie Company comes with Aladdin Connect technology built-in to improve convenience and functionality. Not only is the opener super quiet – ideal for attached garages – but the connectivity features allow you to check whether your garage door is open or closed, grant individual access with virtual keys, instantly know when someone is operating your garage door (authorized or not), and provide a log of when each opener was used – all from your phone or smart device. Thanks to this technology, you can open the garage door remotely for delivery people, a housekeeper or for your child coming home from school. Considering your garage is one of the most accessed points in your home, this functionality is a great security feature and proves that garages offer more than just storage space. With the right connectivity tools and features, they can provide convenience that will be attractive to future owners.

Save energy, increase comfort

As home improvement trends go, increased connectivity is rivaled only by the desire for more energy-efficient homes. Smart thermostats accomplish both these aims and can increase the value of your home in the process. Smart thermostats let you easily control the temperature in your home from any connected device. You can set a daily schedule for your heater, adjust the temperature in individual rooms or let the system program itself based on your usage history. For energy-conscious buyers, this kind of technology provides a way of living that’s as aspirational as it is attainable.

Lighting the way

Smart lighting has turned from a novelty to a practical tool as products have gotten more advanced. Programmable lighting allows you to schedule when your lights will come on, turn on and off lights remotely or change the lighting to improve aesthetics. With a smart lighting system, you’ll never have to get out of bed to turn the lights off downstairs, and you can always come home to a fully lit house, boosting your sense of security. With these kinds of applications, your home’s lighting can go from a ‘given’ to a must-have, attracting buyers like a moth to a flame.

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Avoid Chilling Accidents With These Tips To Winterize Your Home

Winter will be here before you know it. The season has a way of sneaking up on you and before you realize you’re not ready, the first chilling breezes have already arrived.

Begin with winterizing your home now to ensure you’re prepared for the season. Apply the following tips and your home will be winter ready in no time.

* Prime your plumbing. If you live in an area where freezing pipes are a threat, this is one area you’ll want to correct immediately. A frozen pipe that bursts can cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars, depending on damage. Shut off any water lines tied to outdoor spigots and your sprinkler system if you have one. Indoor pipes running along the exterior walls of your home are also potential freezing risks, so cover them with a towel or wrap to insulate them through the season.

* Be sure your heating system is ready for the season. The importance of your home’s heating system during the winter cannot be understated. If it isn’t up to the test, replace it now before winter arrives. The York(R) Affinity(TM) Series YZT two-stage heat pump offers a two-stage compressor to deliver higher energy efficiency and quieter operation. A smart home integration is easy with the YORK(R) Affinity(TM) Hx3(TM) 4.3-inch Touch-Screen Thermostat. Control your home’s temperature by voice command or by using your smartphone when you’re away from home. Program auto-alerts to stay aware of necessary maintenance and replace the filter each month to ensure your home heating system performs at its best all season long.

* Have your home audited. A home energy audit can help you make sure your home will be energy efficient and comfortable throughout the winter. Your energy audit will show you where energy is being wasted and provide suggestions on how to correct them. You may discover opportunities to add insulation in drafty areas or replace appliances that are no longer operating efficiently.

* Seal the leaks. Even the smallest draft could end up costing you big time over the course of a winter and repairing this problem is easy. Inspect each of your home’s windows – replace the broken ones – and use caulk to seal any cracks you find around the window frames. You can also apply weather stripping where appropriate and when winter begins, don’t be afraid to keep the curtains closed to block cold air from coming into your home through the glass.

* Protect yourself from CO concerns. Colder temperatures cause many of us to seek alternative heating sources, but this can often be dangerous. Never use a generator, camp stove, or other gasoline- or charcoal-burning device inside your home or garage. These devices, combined with closed windows, can result in carbon monoxide poisoning. If your home does not have a carbon monoxide detector, buy one immediately and if you do have a detector, make sure to test and replace the batteries regularly. A C02 detector is a vital component in keeping those in your home safe throughout the winter and beyond.

Don’t let winter freeze you out

Winter’s frigid temperatures haven’t struck yet, but the season will be here before you know it. Apply the tips above in your home today and you’ll stay nice and warm inside no matter what the outside weather conditions may bring.

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Winter Weatherproofing: Preparing Your Home To Stay Safe And Save Energy

The heat will certainly be on this winter. With winter storms hitting many parts of the country early in the winter season, furnaces are plugging away, causing heating bills across the country to increase. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the typical U.S. family spends at least $2,200 per year on energy bills – with nearly half of that going toward heating and cooling.

To help homeowners combat the cost of heating a home during the winter months, Valerie Mastalka, a home heating and energy efficiency expert at Lennox, suggests looking at areas around the house to keep the warm air in and the cool air out.

“There are many simple, inexpensive ways consumers can save money on utility bills this winter, and still stay warm and cozy as temperatures begin to drop,” said Mastalka. “By taking the initiative to weatherproof their homes before the start of the cold weather season, homeowners will be able to enjoy a warmer and more energy-efficient house. The little time it takes to make a few quick checks and adjustments can yield dividends in savings and comfort in the long run.”

Repair the roof. It’s important to inspect the roof to make sure shingles are in place to prevent water from seeping inside the house. Mastalka emphasizes that it can be dangerous to be on the roof once cold weather ensues, so check it out before the onset of winter. If large gaps are found, hire a professional roofing company to repair the problem areas. In addition, avoid covering roof vents or turbines for the winter as this will prevent air from circulating properly through the attic and will reduce the overall energy efficiency of the home.

Dodge the drafts. Air leaks caused by cracks or holes around windows and doors can enable warm indoor air to escape and cold outside air to seep in, preventing you from maintaining a consistent indoor temperature. To identify air leaks in outside-facing walls or doors, try holding a candle near suspect areas to reveal drafts and then seal leaks with caulk or weather stripping.

Mind the (chimney) gaps. To prevent warm indoor air from escaping the home, Mastalka reminds homeowners to keep fireplace dampers closed when not in use; however, always make sure the damper is fully opened before starting a fire. Look for any gaps in the mortar between bricks, as they can allow moisture to build up and compromise the roof’s integrity. Also check for soot accumulation in the chimney, and if needed, hire a professional chimney sweep to perform a thorough cleaning before the start of winter.

Don’t forget the furnace. Mastalka recommends having your furnace thoroughly inspected by a certified technician. In addition, changing furnace air filters at least once a month and vacuuming the heater vents in the living areas of the home will help keep your heating system clean and running efficiently.

Attend to the attic. The attic is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to heat loss. If you are experiencing high heating bills and having difficulty keeping your home warm, it could be time to add additional insulation to the attic. Mastalka says that attic insulation should be approximately five inches deep. Homeowners can hire a professional or add insulation themselves with portable blowing units available for rental at home improvement stores.

By making a few minor adjustments around the home, homeowners can help lessen safety concerns and reduce the amount of wasted energy – all while staying comfortable during the chilly season.

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Top Exterior Trends To Inspire Your 2019 Home Projects

Thinking of adding a deck? How about replacing the tired, worn siding on your house? Now that the weather is colder, it’s the perfect time to curl up with a hot beverage and start planning your 2019 home projects so you can nail the budget and settle on the look you’re after.

“Updating your home’s exterior can make an older home look more modern, but it can also make a new build feel warmer and more established,” says Kristine Swint, an in-house design expert at Royal Building Products. “Whether you plan to sell, or stay and enjoy your new features, anything you do to update the exterior can maximize the value of your home.”

Swint shares these insights and tips that will help you get inspired and plan your exterior home projects in 2019.

Think “cool neutrals” for the color story

When someone suggests a neutral tone for your exterior, do you think boring beige and tepid taupe? When it comes to vinyl siding, you may be pleasantly surprised to discover there’s a broad range of color and style choices to meet your taste and design preferences, including soft grays, bolder mid-tone blues and warm earth-toned terra cottas.

“Going neutral no longer means sacrificing style, or having your house look like all the others on the block,” Swint says. “Today’s neutrals convey warmth, comfort and closeness to nature – all traits we desire in a home.”

Bring the inside out

If you’ve decided this year is the year to add a deck or a patio, don’t settle for an uninspired open-air platform. Today’s designers are remaking the deck concept altogether by bringing traditionally “indoor” amenities outside. Rugs, arbors and high-design furniture will turn your deck into an outdoor living room. By adding a fire pit, portable furnace or heater, you and your family can spend time on the deck year-round. For a finishing touch, a floor-to-ceiling sliding glass door not only brings in more sunlight and natural views, it creates a seamless transition between inside and outside.

Make relaxation a top priority

Home is where the heart is, right? So it makes perfect sense to make it into a space where self-care is a priority. That’s why wellness and mindfulness have become huge influences in interior and exterior spaces, Swint says. To turn your backyard into a retreat space, consider amenities like water features, zen gardens or even a shaded reading nook.

Reframe the possibilities of your shed

Garages and sheds can be more than a storage space for your lawnmower and tools. These four walls hold many other possibilities, and homeowners have come up with creative, free-time-oriented uses for these simple backyard structures. The options are only limited by your imagination: backyard bar, outdoor shower, or the classic she-shed or man cave. You can even make it into a home office for those telecommuting days. To dress up a plain shed, Swint says, add siding with complementary trim, windows (and flower boxes), finished with a sleek glass door.

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What Does The Color Of Your Home Reveal About You?

A home’s curb appeal leaves a powerful first impression. Yet, according to the recent poll conducted by Ply Gem Building Products, only half of homeowners say their home’s exterior reflects their personality. This is an especially surprising statistic since 81 percent of Americans say the exterior of a home shapes their view of the homeowner.

With countless material options and accents like shutters and trim, there are several ways to add color to your home. Replacing old siding with vinyl siding tends to be a popular approach because it can improve the look of an entire home exterior, while also being low maintenance and durable. Before replacing your home’s siding, you may be interested to learn what your color choices say about your personality. The following profiles will provide some insight and inspiration for making big decisions about your home exterior:

* Calm, cool, collected = Blue: More than half the population (55 percent) believes the color blue has the most positive impact on their mood, which explains why blue skies are synonymous with peace and happiness. Along these lines, blue siding coordinates easily with a variety of accent colors whether it be white and gray or red and orange.

* Safe, certain, dependable = Neutral: Neutrals are the norm when it comes to exterior color preferences. Fifty-three percent of Americans would choose neutral colors such as beige, white or gray for the exterior of their home. In fact, if you want the latest on-trend curb appeal, consider shades of gray, which have grown in popularity by about 5 percent over the past four years. Gray is very versatile – it can easily be mixed and matched with just about any accent color and trim selection.

* Brave, confident = Bold: If you want to stand out and make a statement, dramatic siding colors are the way to go. Fifty-five percent of Americans say homes with bold colors belong to people with bold personalities. Recent advances in vinyl siding technology, such as the SolarDefense reflective technology from Ply Gem Mastic, have made it possible to choose daring colors such as deep reds, greens and browns.

Are you still unsure about which siding color best suits you? Take the risk out of choosing colors by using an online visualizer tool like the one available from Ply Gem Mastic. The visualizer lets you preview what your color choices will look like on your home before you make a commitment.

Colors are important, but don’t forget maintenance

While colors can send a message, that statement can be undermined by a lack of upkeep. Seventy-eight percent of Americans say the maintenance of a home also impacts their first impression of a homeowner. Consider low-maintenance products like vinyl siding, which come in endless color options, but do not require upkeep such as painting or staining.

Is it time to make a change?

Thirty-seven percent of homeowners say they did not get to choose the exterior siding on their home. If you’re part of that group, what better time than the present to update the look of your house (before the holiday season kicks in)? Doing so could also add significant value to your home. According to the latest cost versus value survey by Remodeling Magazine, upgrading to vinyl siding recoups 76 percent of the project cost on average. For more information on adding personality – and value – to your home, visit www.mastic.com.

Courtesy of Brandpoint Content

3 Reasons Fall Is A Great Time For Roofing

Cool breezes and falling leaves are around the corner and for many parts of the country those telltale signs of fall signal the best possible season for roofing.

So what makes fall a great time for roof repairs or a full replacement?

1. Perfect weather

The same perfectly cool weather that makes fall a favorite time of year for camping and outdoor activities also makes it a great time for roofing.

2. Spring and summer storms

The warmth and humidity of the spring and summer months are notorious for spawning severe thunderstorms. Hail can fall any time of the year, but is most common in the spring and summer months, reaching a peak in June in several regions. High winds from spring storms can also uproot trees and snap limbs, both of which can fall on the roof.

“We always recommend homeowners hire a professional to examine their roofs, both for their safety, and to protect their roof,” said Stephen McNally, vice president of sales and marketing for TAMKO Building Products.

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New Home? 6 Steps For Preventing Pests From Moving In

Moving into a new home is chaotic. You’ve got decorating to do, a neighborhood to explore, and a house to keep in tiptop shape. The last thing you need in the midst of all that commotion is the added headache of household pests like ants, cockroaches or rodents.

Look for collecting water

Stagnant or standing water attracts a variety of pests, from nuisance wildlife to mosquitoes. It doesn’t take a lot of water, either – mosquitoes can lay as many as 100 eggs in the cap of a bottle of water. Try to reduce standing water in sources such as pots and tires, and be sure to change out your birdbath at least once a week.

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4 Ways To Prep Your Home For Winter

When you start feeling those first hints of winter, the instinct to get ready kicks in.  But what do you do to protect your house against the hazards of
winter? If you don’t take time for maintenance and winterization now, you can end up paying for it later, whether it’s in the form of higher energy bills, frozen pipes or fixing a broken furnace.

Here are four problems that can hit home during the winter and what you can do to ward them off.

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8 Home Security Hacks Recommended By Police

Did you know that many police departments have a community affairs officer whose primary goal is to build a strong working relationship with the community? That means you have access to a trained safety expert who wants to give you ideas to keep your home and neighborhood safe.

Read on for eight simple home security hacks from a recent home safety evaluation conducted by a police officer.

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