Heather + Stephanie, Real Estate's Blog
If you're a homeowner or are planning to become one in the near future, hiring contractors to maintain and upgrade your home is a fact of life. Although older homes often need more TLC than newer ones, "newness" (like youth) can be a fleeting quality! Time passes quickly, and before you know it, your house needs a fresh coat of paint, landscaping improvements, or even wet basement solutions.
There may be times when you're tempted to accept the first estimate you're given for a home improvement project, but there are sound reasons for taking your time and choosing home contractors carefully and in a methodical way.
- Saving money: It's not unusual for one home contractor to quote a price that is literally thousands of dollars more than the competition. While, on one hand, very low prices may be a sign of inferior quality, there is no guarantee that high prices assure superior quality. Fortunately, there are plenty of good contractors who charge competitive prices and make it their business to provide customers with exceptional value. If you get references, read online reviews, and make sure your prospective contractor has all the necessary insurance coverages, licenses, and relevant experience, then you'll be ready to make an informed decision based on quality, service, and pricing. Regardless of the caliber of a contractor's work, if you don't get at least two or three estimates, you'll always be wondering if they overcharged you. When you get multiple quotes, you'll never be plagued by that nagging question!
- Getting helpful ideas: In addition to finding a qualified tradesman with solid expertise, project management skills, and competitive pricing, it also pays to choose one who offers innovative suggestions and creative ideas. By interviewing three contractors, you'll gain insights into their communication style, their overall attitude, and their willingness to provide helpful advice when needed.
- Personality factors: After meeting with prospective contractors, you'll know which of the three you feel the most comfortable doing business with. Many home improvement projects can easily last between 3 days and a couple weeks, so you'll tend to be a lot more satisfied with a contractor who's courteous, punctual, above the board, friendly, professional, and customer-service oriented. If they seem annoyed with your questions or evasive in their responses, you can be reasonably sure there will be problems down the road in working with them -- possibly even quality assurance issues. If they tend to complain about other customers or berate their competition, then that is also a potential red flag.
When you buy a new sofa or chair, it’s a big investment. You want to know that whatever kind of fabric that you choose will be a good color and texture for a long time to come. When you’re shopping for upholstery, the most important thing is practicality. You may not want to buy a leather sofa with a toddler running around, for example. Any kind of fabric that could get dirty easily, or rip and stain, may not be the best choice when you have kids around the house. There are plenty of durable fabrics available.
You also need to worry about any pets that you have in the home. Cats and dogs tend to scratch things, rip them, or relieve themselves where they aren’t supposed to. This can cause beautiful, expensive furniture to be ruined in minutes. You’ll want to choose something that is easy to clean the pet hair off of and even easier to clean.
Choose A Durable Fabric
Even if you don’t have kids, since the majority of people don’t live in a bubble, you’ll want to choose a fabric that is both comfortable and versatile. Adults spill things too! Don’t forget that slipcovers are always an option as well. This allows you to change your fabric anytime that you wish easily and inexpensively.
If You’re Free Flaunt It
If pets and kids aren’t aren’t a worry for you, you should flaunt your freedom! You can go a bit more elaborate in your choice of fabric and materials. You won’t need the same types of fabrics and colors that a household with kids would need if you’re on your own. Go for that white sofa and own it!
Consider How The Material Will Age
When shopping for furniture, ask a lot of questions about the lifetime outlook for certain fabrics. You’ll also want to understand how difficult maintaining certain types of fabrics will be. Leather, for example, is a bit more high maintenance than other types of fabric. If the sofa will be near windows, the sun can easily wear through the color of a material. You should have all of these things in mind while you’re shopping for the perfect sofa or chair.
Take A Look At Everything In Person
While online shopping can be great for many things, you probably don’t want to choose your fabrics for furniture solely based on an internet search. You should be able to see and feel the material to help you decide how it will fit into your home. It’s also important to know how sitting on a certain material feels to you. A material may look nice in a picture, but may not work at all for your needs when you see it in person. Ask for advice from the associates at the furniture store as well. They can help you to find the right material to suit your needs and wants.
An open house may prove to be exceedingly important, particularly for a buyer who plans ahead and makes the most of this opportunity. Because if a buyer enters an open house with a plan in hand, he or she can gain the necessary insights to determine whether to set up a home showing or consider other residences.
Now, let's take a look at three things that every buyer needs to know about open houses.
1. Open houses generally take place on weekends.
If you plan to pursue a home in the near future, you may want to keep your weekends open. That way, you can attend as many open houses as possible and boost the likelihood of discovering your ideal residence.
Most open houses are held on Saturdays and Sundays, and these events may begin late in the morning and end late in the afternoon. There is no requirement to attend an open house as soon as it begins. However, it is important to remember that the early bird catches the worm. And the sooner you attend an open house, the sooner you can determine whether a residence is right for you.
2. Each open house is designed to provide a stress-free experience.
During an open house, you can walk around a residence and explore all aspects of a home at your own pace. Meanwhile, a seller's real estate agent is present and can respond to your concerns or questions as well.
Oftentimes, it helps to craft a list of questions prior to an open house. This will enable you to receive immediate responses to your queries from a seller's real estate agent.
You also may want to carry a notepad and pencil with you as you walk through an open house. This will allow you to keep track of any notable home features or flaws, and ultimately, weigh the pros and cons of a residence.
3. An open house provides no guarantees.
There is no guarantee that you'll find your dream residence during the first open house you attend. In fact, you may need to attend dozens of open house events before you discover a home that matches or exceeds your expectations.
As a buyer, there is no need to leave anything to chance as you search for your ideal house. And if you collaborate with a real estate agent, you can stay up to date about open house events for residences that correspond to your homebuying criteria.
A real estate agent is a property buying expert and will do everything possible to help you discover your dream house. In addition to keeping you informed about open house events, a real estate agent will set up home showings and offer homebuying recommendations and suggestions. By doing so, a real estate agent will help you achieve the best-possible results during the property buying journey.
Hire a local real estate agent today, and you can take the first step to find and buy your dream house.
Home improvements are a vital part to keeping your home up-to-date with the times and also to ensure that it doesn’t lose value when it comes time to sell.
To save money, many homeowners take the do-it-yourself route and use the tools at their disposal to upgrade their homes. Sites like YouTube have made it easier than ever to follow step-by-step tutorials that show you how to make substantial repairs and upgrades to your home without having to pay a professional.
The down side, however, is that when you choose to DIY, you take on the risk of going over budget by making mistakes. You also risk stretching out your project weeks or months longer than necessary due to a lack of time to work on it.
In today’s post, we’re going to talk about how you can stay on budget and on track to finish your home improvement project without bringing in the professionals.
Making a timeline
Let’s start with the big picture for your home renovations. When deciding which improvements to make, it’s important to know your limits in terms of the work you can do.
Set a reasonable number of hours you can work on your projects per week. Go easy on yourself. Most of us are already tired when we get home from work and probably won’t be able to start tackling big projects in the evenings. Rather, try to give yourself one weekend day to work on your projects and one weekend day to relax.
The most important aspect of creating your timeline is to try and keep your schedule open. So, write down the time you want to work on your home in your calendar, planner, or whichever app or tool you use to plan your time.
This will help you to avoid creating conflicting events and obligations, and help you stay on track to finishing your improvement projects.
If you’re looking for an evening activity related to your home improvement projects, it’s a good idea to start watching some video tutorials of people doing the same renovations as you. This will help you avoid mistakes and look out for common obstacles that you’ll face along the way.
Budgeting your improvement
You’ll want to save up for your project in advance, if possible, to avoid accumulating credit card debt. Your home improvement project should, in effect, gain you money by increasing the value of your home, not make you lose money on credit card interest payments.
Budgeting in itself is an art that few of us are taught in school. Fortunately, there are several free budgeting apps available. Or, you can simply draw one up yourself.
The key to creating a home improvement budget is to know how much of your monthly savings you can devote to this project without having to dip into other funds. To do this, you’ll need a clear understanding of where your income goes.
Once you have a budget and a timeline for your home improvement project, you’re ready to begin. Just make sure you check in on your timeline and your budget throughout the length of the project to make sure you’re meeting your goals and aren’t overspending.
Curb appeal, the illusive secret weapon that enamors potential buyers from afar and draws them into your home. There have been several attempts to nail down the “secret formula” for curb appeal.
In reality, the best approach to improving your home’s presentation from outside is to take the time to consider what fits.
In this post, we’ll give you some budget ideas to help you find the curb appeal boosters that will match with your home.
1. Fresh paint
One well-known curb appeal strategy is to repaint some of the notable components of the outside of your home. The places that have to most impact?
Front door - a front door that pops, but that also fits with the style of your home and complements its main color will make your home stand out from the neighbors.
Shutters - repainting your shutters is another inexpensive area to add some color to your home. However, be wary of choosing bright colors for your shutters if they’re going to clash with or disrupt the overall style of your home.
Mailbox - a neglected, dented, and a dirty mailbox is a huge turn off for potential buyers. Buying a new one, or adding a fresh coat of paint to your old one that matches one of the highlight colors of your home, can be a great way to add a sense of continuity to the exterior of your house.
2. Sparse decorations
Just like the inside of your home, less is often more when it comes to decoration. There are a number of things to add to your yard that will improve its overall presentation. But, just be sure that it doesn’t appear out of place or tacky. A single, small, and brightly colored bird house in a tree is usually a safe bet.
3. Simple landscaping
There’s no need to hire contractors for elaborate landscaping or to purchase expensive plants and shrubbery. A well-manicured yard is enough to make your home stand out. And, remember that potential buyers will most likely be looking for a home that is low-maintenance. A simple lawn and walkway say just that.
Also be sure to trim and prune your current trees, bushes, and flowerbeds. You might find that a cleanup is all they needed to be impressive once more.
4. Pressure washing
Most of us grow accustomed to how our home looks and might not notice the accumulation of dirt on the siding. By hiring or renting a pressure washer for a day, you’ll be able to update a number of aspects of curb appeal. From siding and decks to walkways and driveways, you can cover a lot of square footage with a pressure washer.
One note on pressure washers: the better ones can be dangerous. That means hiring a professional could help get the best results for your money. Also, while you can buy a pressure washer, you might find that for the amount you use it, it’s easier just to hire or rent every few years.