Types of Home Improvements – Know it Before You Do It

Home improvement generally refers to a process that involves introducing alterations in order to change the layout of the home. This involves changing exterior properties of a home which may comprise of lawn, garage, and garden. Home improvement includes various kinds of changes that help in making a home comfortable, safe and stylish. There are various changes that people can create in their homes according to their interests. Some of which are as follows:

People may add certain features that may enhance the beauty and add charm to the place. This involves adding new flooring like hardwood or wooden flooring. This may also include tiles, carpets and linoleum. People can give a beautiful look to their place by using attractive wall papers, or painting walls and using wood paneling to make the place look more elegant and well-designed.
People may also introduce latest cabinets and fixtures to update their homes as per the trends prevalent in this industry.
People can use latest fittings for their bathrooms like sauna baths and whirlpool tubs to relax and rejuvenate themselves.
People can improve their backyards by using wooden patio decks, sliding doors, fencing and patio gardens.
Comfort is the primary motive that people want to attain by introducing changes that are stylish yet provide great amount of relaxation. People may upgrade their heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. They would also want to increase the capacity of electrical as well as plumbing facilities, soundproofing their bedrooms or bathrooms and waterproofing their basements. By upgrading these essential facilities, people enjoy immense comfort level and relaxation.
Home improvement may also include certain repair and maintenance projects. Sometimes people can make a huge difference to their homes by making necessary repairs. Repair and maintenance projects may include fix-ups or replacement, electrical and plumbing repairs. These may also include concrete and masonry repairs as well as repairs caused due to natural disasters or water damage.
The process of home improvement may also undertake installation of safety measures. Burglar alarm systems can be installed in order to prevent and reduce the instances of thefts. Doors and windows can be equipped with security locks to ensure greater safety.
In order to protect homes from fires, fire sprinkler systems can be used as a preventive measure.
In order to protect homes from the hazards of hurricanes and tornadoes, storm cellars can be used effectively.
Home improvement also includes installing backup generators to provide power backup.

People can use the services of a contractor that would help in making design plans, getting people to do the work whereas supervising and coordinating to ensure that everything is done as per the plan. Alternatively, people can hire tradesmen to do the job. For instance, if one wants to do bathroom remodeling, he is required to contact an architect to draw the plans. Once the design is ready, he can then contact people to do necessary construction. This would also require calling electrician and plumber to do all the necessary fittings. This approach is feasible in case of small jobs. Larger projects require the services of a contractor to get the job done effectively. Home improvement is a great way to upgrade homes and everybody must make necessary changes from time to time to make them updated as well as vibrant.

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Homeowners Get A Break To Fund Home Improvements

Most homeowners are committed to making improvements in their home. Why wouldn’t they? It can maintain or improve the value of the home, improves the aesthetic feel of the home and can even save money over time. With the new trend to “go green” many homeowners have begun to make environmentally conscious choices for home improvement products. By reducing the amount of energy consumption, they can save money while playing an integral role in helping the environment.

Not everyone is dedicated to the “green” movement as others. Many homeowners have looked into buying energy efficient appliances or adding new, environmentally friendly products to their homes only to realize the additional costs involved with the process. The truth is, energy efficient product may save the homeowner money over time, but the expense to purchase such items may not be feasible for most homeowners. Upgrades such as energy efficient windows, solar panels, recycled roofing materials and a new type of insulation in the attic, all cost a substantial amount of money. So while many desires to make improvements that protect the environment while saving money on energy bills, this economy has left many without the funds to pay for such upgrades.

The Energy Efficient Mortgage Program

For the past ten years, The Federal Housing Authority (FHA) has provided a program that helps homeowners fund purchases for energy conserving products for their homes. The Energy Efficient Mortgage Program (EEMP) has recently begun to get more attention from homeowners wanting to make environmentally friendly home improvements. The idea is that the EEMP will allow homeowners currently under a FHA or VA loan to fold the costs of the improvements into their existing loans.

Under this program, homeowners would be able to borrow up to $8,000, or 5 percent of the home’s value, whichever is larger; in order to pay for the upgrades. The borrowed amount is eligible to be rolled into a 15 or 30 year FHA or VA loan, without adding additional costs to the loan. The funding is available for improvement such as insulating an attic, replacing a furnace or cooling system, replacing windows and doors, repairing/replacing hazardous roof materials, or installing solar panels.

Qualifying For EEMP

The program outlines specific rules for homeowners as to which types of products can be used and who qualifies as an approved contractor. The idea is to control the type of improvements being made to ensure the products being used meet the industry standard for energy and environmentally friendly. Eligibility for the program requires that the projected energy savings is greater than the cost of the work, which is determined by comparing the calculated average of energy used by the home before and after the improvements are made.

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Home Improvement Trends

From cabinets to floors, home improvement efforts have not stopped, even in the current economic downturn. If you are thinking of improving something around your space, consider these hot trends in the industry.

Bathrooms

Bathrooms are quickly becoming the hottest trend in home improvement. Homeowners are no longer viewing these as simply a functional space. They are now turning them into a quiet oasis, where a soak in the tub is not just time to get clean, but also time to rejuvenate the senses and refocus for another day. Clean lines, uncluttered space, and comfortable pieces are the hottest trends for bathrooms.

Outdoor Spaces

As the property market continues to struggle, more and more property owners are putting money into improving their outdoor space. Doing so helps ensure that the house looks as good as possible when they decide to sell. This curb appeal can make or break a potential sale. As an added bonus, the property’s owner has a beautiful space in which to live while still owning the house.

Renovating Small Kitchens

People with small kitchens are often known to expand their space by knocking down walls and incorporating dining rooms into kitchen space. However, some are opting to make the best use out of what they have through revitalizing their small space, incorporating vertical storage to add functionality, and adding fishing touches to make it look modern without adding physical space.

Focusing on the Environment

Environmental friendliness is becoming a household term, and this is showing up in home improvement efforts time and time again. From using renewable resources for the actual materials to choosing the most energy efficient appliances for the house, homeowners are making more responsible choices when they redo areas of their properties. Even windows and doors are becoming the target of remodels, as people are replacing drafty windows with energy efficient options. By focusing on energy efficiency, not only are they improving things for future generations, but they are also ensuring that their current energy bills will be lower.

Wood Flooring

Today’s homeowners are opting out of carpeting and choosing wood or laminate flooring for their homes. This is helping to improve indoor air quality for families who suffer from allergies, and it also helps improve property values. When the time comes to sell the house, potential buyers will be pleased to see lovely wood or wood-like flooring, rather than carpeting that they will want to replace or professionally clean.

Unusual Materials

For those who are planning to stay in their homes, unusual materials are becoming more and more prevalent in home improvement. Bamboo or metal cabinetry, for example, is becoming common in today’s markets. Sometimes these unusual materials can detract from a future sale, but for those with no intention to put their house on the market, they can add a touch of class and drama to your living space.

Lots of Color

White is out, and color is in! If you are thinking about painting, make sure you embrace this trend! Choose a color that you love, and add it to your home improvement plans. If it is too much for the whole room, consider an accent wall or furniture piece in a brilliant, bold color. With today’s trends, your living space does not have to be boring!

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Home Improvement – The Green Way

Today, people are more environmentally conscious than ever. They make sure that what they eat, drive, and even build is all sustainable and friendly to the environment. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the biggest green trends happening in the home improvement industry.

Eco-friendly Flooring

More and more homeowners are making the switch to environmentally safe flooring. Some popular forms of green flooring are bamboo, cork, sustainable hardwood, and recycled linoleum. Not only are these flooring options eco-friendly, but they are also stylish and affordable. Some things to keep in mind when purchasing sustainable hardwood: make sure it is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and that it is harvested from a local source in order to reduce energy expenditure.

Solar Energy

Solar power is somewhat like the poster-child of green building. It’s been around for quite some time now and is one of the highest impact green building elements today. It can even pay for itself over a span of several years. Yes, you will be paying a lot upfront for the panels themselves and installation, but your electric bills will be reduced drastically and save you more money in the long-term.

Natural Cotton Insulation

Natural cotton insulation is actually just a fancy term for recycled denim. That’s right, denim jeans are now diverted from piling up in the landfill and are actually being used to regulate temperature in your home. The huge bonus with denim insulation is that there is literally zero waste when producing it and it doesn’t contain any chemical irritants like its traditional counterpart. Another bonus to having any sort of insulation in your home is that it keeps the heating and cooling bills down by keeping your home at a relatively constant temperature.

Other Exterior Green Building

There are two major outdoor renovations that many homeowners may overlook when thinking about making their home more eco-friendly. Both your home’s fence and garage door are potentially two big items that can be damaging to the environment. Massive amounts of wood or steel are used for both of these structures, leading to deforestation and large amounts of energy expended. Try instead to use recycled wood or bamboo on your fence, and use reclaimed wood garage doors as well.

There are many agencies and organizations out there to help you get more educated on what you can do to go green with your next project. Some good ones are the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).

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Doing a Home Improvement Project Yourself-Yes or No?

After you have defined your home improvement project, the thought of doing the project by yourself or with a “HANDY” friend or neighbor may cross your mind. DO-IT-YOURSELF projects are a popular trend in the Home Improvement Industry. However, before you put on your tool belt, you should look at all aspects of your project and ask yourself the following 10 questions.

1) Do you have reliable work habits? Do you tend to stress out easily, lose your temper, or become confused under pressure? Will you have the patience and persistence to complete the project in a timely fashion? What will happen if it is not completed in a timely fashion?

2) What will you do if your project goes awry? Remember most contractors are wary about completing and/or redoing someone else’s mistakes, including yours.

3) Are you attempting to do the project yourself for financial reasons? If so, have you looked at the entire cost, including the cost of materials, your time, and the tools you may need to purchase, and then possibly never use again?

4) What happens if you make a mistake and have to spend more time and effort to correct it? How much money are you really going to save then?

5) Do you know all the construction steps involved in the project? For most projects this is not the time to be using an installation manual.

6) How many projects of this type have you done? I hope at least 1 project.

7) Do you have the skills to complete this project? For most projects this is not the time for on-the-job training.

8) Is it safe for you to do the project? Some projects can cause serious injury or be fatal if proper precautions are not taken.

9) Are you familiar with the local building codes and permit requirements? If you do not follow the building code you may be forced to tear down the project and rebuild it to meet the proper code specifications.

10) Do you have the time to do the project?

If your answers to these 10 questions still leave you feeling comfortable about doing your project, than I would say go ahead! However, if time is of the essence, it normally takes a “Do-it-yourself” project longer to complete because most people are not familiar with all the “nuances” that one would learn from doing the project more than once. Think long and hard about doing a project yourself, especially if it is a large project. Large projects require more time and effort and are usually best left to a professional.

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