Thursday, September 25, 2014

Top 10 Reasons to Remodel Your Kitchen

For many households the kitchen is the center of the home and the hub of activity. Remodeling the kitchen can be a major undertaking. It is not just the expense, but also the inconvenience to the household that gives many homeowners pause when considering such an undertaking. In spite of this, homeowners continue to find good reasons to proceed with a kitchen remodel. Reasons for remodeling vary, and your neighbor may not share your top reason for the project.



Deterioration

The kitchen might simply be falling apart. Cracked tiles, peeling countertops, broken or missing cabinet doors and outdated appliances don’t inspire gourmet cooking or family gatherings. The deteriorated kitchen has simply outlived its usefulness and needs a remodel.

Value

Homeowners often remodel their kitchens to increase the value or marketability of a property. A remodeled and attractive kitchen will appeal to prospective home buyers more than a boring and outdated one. The homeowner may or may not recoup the investment of the remodel; this will depend on a variety of factors, such as the degree of the remodel and current market prices.

Energy Savings

Energy savings might be the prime motivation for a kitchen remodel. Adding skylights brings in more sunshine, reducing the need for artificial light. Energy-efficient appliances and solar water heaters cut the utility bill and place less stress on the environment.

Modernity

The kitchen can be pristine yet outdated. If the kitchen says 1950s, but you want to live in the here and now, it is time to transform your retro kitchen environment into a room for the 21st century.

Lifestyle

The kitchen layout may have worked great for the previous homeowner, but not for you. Perhaps it lacks a breakfast bar, and your family wants to gather informally in the kitchen to enjoy coffee or grab a quick meal without going to the dining room table. Whatever the reason, one motivation for a kitchen remodel is to arrange the room to best suit the family’s needs.

Special Needs

It is sometimes necessary to remodel the kitchen to better accommodate the needs of disabled family members. For example, if one of the family is in a wheelchair or no longer able to reach high cupboards, a remodel can make the room more usable.

Financial Incentives

The prime motivation behind a remodel might simply be financial incentives, such as energy-saving rebates offered by government entities or vendors. Financial incentives include sales at home improvement centers, cash rebates for trading in outdated appliances, remodeling grants and low- or no-interest loans.

Change

Some homeowners simply want change. The current kitchen might be functional, updated and attractive, yet no longer appeal to the homeowner.

Home Improvement TV

Watching home improvement shows on cable television inspires many homeowners to remodel their kitchens. They may never have considered such a project until a home improvement program showed them the possibilities for their kitchen.

Gourmet Kitchen

For a homeowner who enjoys preparing fancy meals and considers himself a gourmet cook, the prime reason for a remodel is the desire to create a dream kitchen. A gourmet kitchen with fancier amenities than most accommodates the cook’s needs.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Contractor Tips: 10 Home Areas That Likely Need a Pro

If you are working on a DIY remodel, deciding whether to call in a specialty contractor to perform a specific task comes down to several areas you'll need to consider: 
  • Skill. Do you have the necessary skills to build a sound structure, and do it safely?
  • Scale. Is the size of the project one that you can handle in a reasonable amount of time?
  • Cost. When factoring in the value of your own time, can the project be completed for less cost by a professional? Do you have the tools you need?
  • Aesthetics. Can you finish the project attractively enough that you're not sacrificing resale value? Would a rough grout joint or wallpaper seam bother you?
Learn more about the specific problem areas that often require professional help below.

1. Structural elements. Beams, footers, headers etc. — these are the unglamorous and often hidden parts of a home that are critical to its long-term stability and safety. Don't take chances with structural components. Everything should be drawn or approved by an engineer, whose specifications should be followed to the letter.

2. Electrical. Here's another one where safety and skill intersect. Poor wiring can be a safety hazard — just because you were able to wire something up and it worked, doesn't mean you haven't created a safety hazard. If you aren't confident you have the knowledge to perform the needed work and assess the implications of your work on the rest of the circuit and panel, call in a professional.



3. Roofing. Here's a good example of a project where even if you feel you have the skills to perform the task safely and properly, you may not be able to complete the project in a short enough period of time to avoid exposing your home to damage from rain. If you can't get your roofing project done in a couple days, don't start it. Even professionals can underestimate the time a project will take to complete, so you may want to double your estimate.



4. Plumbing. A clogged drain line and a faucet that needs to be replaced are tasks that you know you can complete. Before you do either yourself, though, think about the true cost.
What is your time worth? Do you have the tools? If you end up renting a drain snake from the home center that doesn't work when you get it home, and you need to make another trip before you even clear the drain, you may lose much of a precious Saturday.


5. Insulation. Certain types of insulation, such as spray foam, should be left to the professionals. Many people assume that installing batt insulation like fiberglass is an easy project, but there is a lot of room for error here. If you leave gaps you can create spots that draw heat and moisture into your walls — a bad combination. Even if you do the job well, it's messy work. Plus, insulation contractors get a much better deal on the material costs than you would, offsetting the labor savings of a DIY project.

6. Carpentry. Even if you have the skills to complete the project, professional carpenters will have the tools and experience to get the job done quickly. If you are trying to complete the project on a part-time basis, remember to factor in setup and cleanup time. Working a full day is often much more efficient than an hour here and there.

7. Masonry. This is one that bridges all four factors — if there is a structural component to the masonry project (and there usually is), safety is a concern. The scale of projects involving stone, brick and concrete can be deceiving. Make sure you know what you're getting into. Wrestling a heavy stone into place and making it look good takes years to master. When you factor in all of this, the cost of paying for good work can be a bargain.

8. Wallpaper. There isn't much room for error here. You have to get it right the first time. You're drawing attention to the wall by dressing it up, so it had better look good. You wouldn't pay an arm and a leg for a beautiful fabric and then make a sloppy-looking dress, so don't buy a gorgeous paper and put it up with misaligned seams and bad corners.



9. Tile. The pace of tile installation is slower than that of wallpaper, and there is a lot of contemplation that goes into a good tile installation. If you aren't experienced, you may discover something you should have thought about when it's too late. You also want to prep correctly. Tiles are all different and require different approaches to installation. Your DIY tile floor may look good when it's done, but can you be sure it will hold up and not crack in a year or two? If you are confident about that, go for it. If not, call a professional.

10. Painting. I know, it sounds ridiculous — if you can't paint, what DIY project can you do? Keep in mind, I'm not here to stop you from painting your own house. Just consider that a good, lasting paint job takes a lot of prep work. Sometimes this can involve wall repair, scraping paint (which can be a health risk if it's lead paint), priming and caulking over old finishes with various products. Depending on what you're working with, you may need someone with more experience to help. 

Source: Houzz.com

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Rochester Construction Off to Strong Start for 2014

Construction spending in Rochester for the first half of the year has increased strongly from the same period last year.
There was $169.5 million in construction, up from $125.3 million in the first six months of 2013. This year's total was higher than in five of the last six years, with the only more prosperous year coming in 2012, at $198.7 million in construction spending.
Much of the spending came from large commercial and public projects, including several senior living facilities, hotels and additions to the elementary schools for kindergarten classrooms. The promise of Destination Medical Center has also led to increased construction activity too, according to business insiders.
However, Home building has actually dropped. There were 153 single-family home building permits filed in Rochester in the first six months of this year, down from 162 in the same time last year.
Nationwide, economists are forecasting that housing and overall construction will regain momentum in coming months, helping to boost overall economic growth.
There are signs that the housing market is stabilizing. Price gains are slowing. And mortgage rates have dipped. That could boost sales in coming months.
Sales of both new and existing homes showed gains in May, providing evidence that housing is regaining lost momentum following a weak second half of last year when sales were hurt by a rise in mortgage rates and the lack of adequate supplies of new homes and then a harsh winter, which dampened demand further.
In the most recent report, in May, construction spending edged up 0.1 percent in May after a much stronger 0.8 percent April increase, the Commerce Department reported.The construction industry has struggled with an unusually severe winter which curtailed building activity in many regions.
Overall nationwide, housing construction is up 7.5 percent from a year ago.

A slump in construction in the winter contributed to the economy shrinking at an annual rate of 2.9 percent in the January-March quarter, the biggest decline since the first quarter of 2009 during the depths of the Great Recession.