The truth is that most home improvements don't increase the value of your house as much as they cost. If you are getting ready to move and want to make home improvements that actually increase the value of your house, check out the Home Sale Calculator at HomeGain. The calculator will help you determine which areas you should concentrate on and list the top 10 home improvements that will give you the most bang for the buck according to home sales agents. Here is an example of their recommendations:
1. Clean / de-clutter - 973% Average Return on Investment: Remove clutter by storing items in basement, attic or friend's home. Rent a storage space or sell excess items, if needed. Keep every room very clean during open homes. Do pre-open house cleanliness inspections.
2. Lighten and brighten - 865% Average Return on Investment: Replace any burnt-out bulbs and use higher wattage bulbs, if possible. Have defective electrical components repaired or replaced. Make sure skylights are clear and keep drapes open during the day.
3. Yard - 426% Average Return on Investment: Store away personal effects from front yard. Hire gardener or landscaper to trim back the overgrowth and maintain yard. Make sure that your lawn has a healthy green appearance.
4. Plumbing and electrical - 260% Average Return on Investment: Consider repairing or replacing any defective plumbing or electrical items in your home. Make sure you have the right person for the job by getting several estimates.
5. Staging - 251% Average Return on Investment: Buy some fresh flowers, live plants and other decorations to liven up the home. Dispose of old furniture or other large items. Consider renting furniture or hiring a staging consultant.
6. Update kitchen and bath - 168% Average Return on Investment: Update kitchen and baths by resurfacing cabinets or painting with neutral color. Replace toilet seats, dated fixtures and drawer/cabinet handles. Freshly caulk and redo grout in countertops, sinks, tubs and showers.
7. Paint interior - 148% Average Return on Investment: Repair any damaged interior walls by patching all chips, holes and cracks; then touch up or repaint interior walls with neutral color.
8. Carpeting = 104% Average Return on Investment: If carpets are only lightly soiled, shampooing and/or spot removal should suffice. If there are rips, fading, heavy wear, smells or deep stains, replace with neutral color.
9. Flooring - 101% Average Return on Investment: Repair and refinish damaged floors, or cover with neutral-colored wall to wall carpet and note damage in your disclosure.
10. Paint exterior - 76% Average Return on Investment: Repaint or resurface the outside walls of house, as needed. Patch and repair any damaged areas.
House painting is the quickest way to improve your home. I thought I would share some tips.
Interior: First of all, preparation is the key to a great paint job. Lay down some drop cloths at least 3 feet from the wall and I like to tape it to the trim to hold it in place. Move the furniture to the center of the room or (out of the room if you can) and cover it from splatter. If you are new to painting, buy painter's tape ( usually blue in color ) and tape around the trim and window sills to avoid painting them. As long as your using latex and not oil based paints, clean-up is easy while the paint is still wet, so carry a clean cloth with you always and simply wipe up any mess. Remove the light switch and receptacle covers and put them all in a ziploc bag with all the screws. If the covers are in bad shape, you can buy replacements at any home improvement store for less than a buck a
piece and it makes a nice finish to a great paint job. Now it's time to clear the walls of any pictures, stickers, etc.
I like to take the backside of any screwdriver and tap it over the nail or screw hole to push in any strands of wall board and to create a little concave area for compound. Fill the holes with a quick drying compound using a 2" putty knife. After this dries, it usually requires a second application after sanding the area. For larger holes up to 1'' in diameter, you will need possibly 3 or 4 coats to get the area smooth and feathered out.
Now to painting, I recommend a primer coat when changing colors. I have seen people paint 5 and six coats of paint to cover up the old color and this is a waste of time and materials and can be avoided with a good quality primer coat. After that dries ( read the can for time ) using a good quality paint (eggshell or a satin sheen covers best) and roller cover, apply the paint in a cross patern to avoid lines and be careful near the ceiling to avoid causing yourself additional work later. After the rolling is done, you will need to "cut-in" with a small brush 2" or smaller in the corners, near the ceiling and at the baseboards. The key to trimming or cutting-in is to be patient and get close enough to your work to see where exactly the brush tip is at all times. I use a pair of reading glasses to make it clear. Remember, you must dip your brush and wipe off the excess to avoid drips and always carry a clean cloth with you for mistakes. After the paint dries ( usually 24 hours ) then you can "CAREFULLY" remove the painter's tape and finish touching up the base boards. Don't forget to caulk ( using painter's caulk) the area where the baseboards meet the wall as usally there is a gap there, and it just completes the great paint job. If you have any tips or have questions about house painting or any home improvement project, please visit us at http://jrhomeimprovement.bizThanks.
With our homes closed up for the winter, mold and mildew has had a chance to form in our kitchens and mostly bathrooms. I have been doing a lot of these repairs lately so I thought I post some tips on prevention. First of all, Bath Fans: There should be an exhaust fan in every bathroom preferrably over or near the shower and it has to be running during the shower and for about 30 minutes to an hour after the shower to remove all the moisture from the room. If you have children that love their "hour-showers" you really have got the potential for a bad mold and mildew problem. Once the mildew has formed in tile corners, on caulk, around plumbing fixtures, it has to be killed off. Vinegar and water works well and won't cause the damage to the chrome fixtures that are in most homes. Don't use bleach or anything alcohol related as these will permantly scar the finish and you will be left with a chrome handle that will not shine any longer. Second: caulking should be in good shape keeping the water out from behind the fixtures and inside the walls. Once the walls get that moisture in them, the insulation and the paper backing on the drywall will absorb it and you will forever have it inside your walls. ( this is very expensive to repair ) If you plan to replace your caulk yourself, it is very important to clean the area very well of any old caulk and the area is dry. Now, not all caulking is the same. They run $ 1.50 a tube to $ 6.00 a tube and you definitely get what you pay for here. I recommend a good silicone based caulk in the color that matches your decor well. For trim that comes in contact with the wall, make sure you use a "Paintable" product as silicone cannot be painted! Third and lastly: Check the condition of the grout ( the stuff between the tiles ) this naturally wears down over time from cleaning and will allow water to get in behind the wall. Grout can be purchased in tubes just like caulk at home centers and can easily be applied in pretty much the same manner. Just remember to clean up the excess grout or caulk from the tiles as it will leave them with a dull finish. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to check us out at www.jrhomeimprovement.biz and use the contact us section for help.
January and early February should include pressure washing the exterior of your house. I have had good success using a inexpensive chemical sprayer ( around $ 20.00 ) at home depot or lowes filled with a gallon or two of degreaser or house wash. I do not dillute it and recommend gloves, mask and eye protection as you spray the solution directly on the stucco or shingles that show signs of mold and mildew. TIP: DO NOT SPRAY ON A WINDY DAY. You should take care not to spray the solution on your shrubs and plants. Let the solution stay on the house for about 30 minutes and then use your pressure washer to spray the area clean with just water. You may have to use a second application on very stubborn areas especially in the shaded areas of your home. Also, take time to trim the plants and trees away from the sides and roof of the house as this is causing a lot of the problem as well as making a "bridge" for crawling pests to get onto and into your home.
The month of December is perfect for home improvements and maintenance of your Florida home. The weather is very tolerable and the low humidity is helpful for exterior painting projects or touch up, caulking doors and windows, and trimming up landscaping. Those crepe myrtles need pruning now for a full looking tree in the spring. Also, lawns should receive a dose of weed control. The outside of your home is begging to be power washed as is the moldy walks and driveways. Remember, the longer the mildew grows on your home, the more the damage will be to your paint and wood or stucco. If you have any questions regarding this article, please visit my website at JR Home Improvement