- Remodeling and the Budget: Tips for Avoiding Trouble
Most homeowners rely on a contractor to give them an estimate before ever attempting to budget a project, and I suspect you are going to do the same. After all, you are not an experienced contractor, and you cannot be expected to know the cost to demo and dispose of your old kitchen cabinets or what it will cost to replace them. In addition to that you would also have to estimate the cost of replacing old plumbing, as well as under counter lighting, counter tops, flooring and a host of other things.
When To Create Your Budget:
So, when do you create your budget? And the answer is – after you have read my next two posts. Then, you will know how to collect estimates so that you can prioritize your wish list. Doing so will help tweak your list, eliminating or adding items to get the most for your money. Bear in mind that no one contractor can anticipate unforeseen problem encountered on a project. I have often found active termite damage while widening a doorway, which can be almost impossible to detect during an initial assessment of the property.
On one occasion I had just completed a large remodeling project for a customer and was about to be paid. Mrs. A. was standing barefoot in her tiled entryway holding my check. Suddenly she glanced at her feet and asked, “Why am I standing in water?” My son-in-law had just installed the last finished piece of baseboard in her entry and apparently shot a copper water line in the wall with a brad nail. Now, what are the odds of that happening?
The last thing any contractor wants is for you to be stressed about over-spending. Typically, you should set aside at least 10 to 15 percent over and above the total estimate for the project. Not allowing for unexpected expenses may compromise your design choices. In my next post, I’ll talk about picking a contractor that you can trust.
- Intro to Home Remodeling
You are about to get some of the best advice you could ever hope for when it comes to remodeling. In fact, you can learn to avoid some of the worst mistakes homeowners often make.
You see, I owned and operated a successful remodeling business for over twenty years before passing the torch to my son-in-law in 2011. I succeeded because I truly loved the challenge of turning someone’s home into a show place. It did not matter whether it was updating a kitchen straight out of the 60’s on a shoestring budget or building the kind of walk-in shower that your neighbors would lust after.
I’ll not only cover numerous time-tested remodeling tips that will help you avoid some of the most common disastrous mistakes but includes many proven tips and techniques for making the right product selections and where to find them.
More importantly, this post contains a detailed interview worksheet for weeding through prospective contractors to find the right one for your remodeling project – one who you can trust!
I paid the price to acquire the skills of my trade, and for about the price of a double skinny latte you can now leverage what I know to tackle any size project with more confidence and less stress. Now, let’s get started!
CAN YOU PICTURE THAT?
Out of the hundreds of completed remodeling projects, there has only been a hand full of homeowners who did not have an emotional attachment to their homes. However, most folks were dissatisfied to say the least with something if not everything about their homes…be it an outdated kitchen, a tiny entryway, a pink bathroom from the 50’s, or just worn out flooring. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being disgruntled over a worn out toilet, tired paint colors, or kitchen cabinets that look older than you. In fact, you do not have to feel a bit guilty about wanting more. So, just go for it!
Making a Wish List:
Now it is time to sit down at your kitchen table, clear your mind of everything that is competing for your attention and concentrate on what you would like to change about your home if money were no object.
Go ahead – fantasize. Have a little fun! Then, start listing all the changes you would make. It is not important that you organize the list at this point. It is all about brainstorming. Later, you will organize your list by major categories (kitchen) and subcategories (cabinets, flooring, etc.).
Do not be concerned about missing something, as you can always go back and revise the list. And, this is definitely not the time to be anxious about how much it will cost, or you may someday regret not considering something that should have been on your list. You can always eliminate items when it comes time to budget the project. The point of this exercise is to produce a list of priorities – what you can live with and what you cannot live without. Well, you get the point!
Now, practically everyone has seen home improvement shows on TV at one time or another. They are a great source of ideas. But, I cannot begin to tell you how many calls I have gotten over the years from frustrated homeowners who proudly launched their do-it-yourself project only to discover that it is harder than it looks.
I am in no way dissing these programs. Most of them are professionally produced and highly informative. However, you must understand that most of the people showcased on these programs are more than just weekend warriors. You also have to remember that the shows are edited for TV – “bloopers” have been eliminated. And yes, they are using the latest and greatest tools furnished by their sponsors.
Renting professional tools might seem like a perfectly logical solution, but you will quickly find that most rental construction tools have seen better days. If you prefer to rent, I recommend checking out the tool rental department at The Home Depot, www.homedepot.com.
Creating a Vision:
This brings us to the next phase – visualization. You may be one of those homeowners who have the funds to hire an interior decorator. That’s great! Then, you and your decorator can work together on communicating your vision to your contractor. Otherwise, you can pass on hiring an interior decorator and do what Becky did. In fact I will never forget what an elementary school teacher by the name of Becky unwittingly taught me during my early years as a general contractor. She and her husband owned a beautiful, white wood frame home with high ceilings and a rap around porch in an older section of the County Club subdivision.
Spending hours brainstorming with homeowners over what they wanted to accomplish with the remodel was routine for me. However, that all changed when Becky placed an expandable folder on her kitchen table. It was filled with magazine clippings of everything from kitchens to bathrooms. Without hesitation she started showing me how she wanted her kitchen to look. I could clearly see what she wanted to accomplish. Needless to say, this was one of the most enjoyable projects of my twenty year career.
What Becky did intuitively, I highly recommend that you do purposefully. Select photos of styles that convey your desires and vision. As you decide on the style, paint colors, and other finishes with your contractor make an organized file of all the samples. The purpose of having a portable file like this is to minimize purchasing mistakes.
A decorator would take the sample collection one step further and make a story board (collage) of paint colors, wood stains, tile, carpet swatches, fabrics, etc. glued on a foam board. Compiling your own story board will not only save you valuable time but will prove to be much more effective than relying on your contractor to read your mind.
Do not jump the gun here! This is not the time to launch a buying spree for paints and flooring. All of the purchasing tips for paints and flooring are covered in a later post.
When you visit your local paint store to collect samples for your story board, solicit the help of an experienced professional. This person will help you make the right color and finish choices, again saving valuable time and money on your project. Be sure to select a minimum of three color schemes, a favorite and two alternates. Then, you are ready for a collection of flooring samples.
Choosing the right flooring can be challenging, due to the number of choices. Simplify the process by first deciding on the types of flooring you want to use. For example, do you want travertine or porcelain tile for your kitchen? Do you want hardwood throughout your den, living room, hallway and dining room? Don’t know what you want? Chapter 5 will help answer these questions when I cover flooring in more detail.
- Your Next House (and Mortgage)
Whether you’re an adventurous person, a DIY expert or simply a persnickety home buyer, the thought of building your own home might be a thrilling prospect. After all, when you choose to build your own abode, you get to call all the shots. That means you can determine the precise layout, dictate the exact number and type of rooms, handpick all the finishes and even add an indoor pool, an aquarium wall or a stairway slide, for that matter. Perhaps that’s why 27% of surveyed home buyers custom-built their own home, according to a 2015 National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Research Center survey.
And, rest assured, we’d like to be your home builder in Greenville if you move forward. While building a one-of-a-kind home from the ground up may sound exciting, financing such a major undertaking is an entirely different story. Obviously, the majority of home buyers don’t have enough money tucked away to cover the construction costs of their custom home – which means they’re going to need a loan. Unfortunately, landing a loan for a self-build project is easier said than done. If you’re considering building your own home, here are a few things to keep in mind as you search for a loan.
A Standard Mortgage Loan Won’t Do the Trick
For buyers purchasing an existing home, it’s relatively easy to get approved for a conventional mortgage , as long as they have good credit and reliable income. On the other hand, it’s virtually impossible to score traditional financing when you’re building your own home. Why? Think of it this way: You’re basically asking the lender to shell out money for something that doesn’t exist yet. To make matters worse, construction is a risky process, and lenders don’t like risk.
Seek Out a Construction Loan
If you plan to self-build, you’ll need to pursue more specialized financing avenues. Enter the construction loan. Sometimes called a self-build loan, a construction loan is typically a short-term loan (usually one-year maximum) used to cover the cost of building your home.
These loans generally have variable rates that are higher than traditional mortgage loan rates. Once construction on your house is completed, you can either refinance the construction loan into a permanent mortgage or get a new loan to pay off the construction loan (sometimes called the end loan”)
Get Ready to Lay Lots of Groundwork
As you gear up to apply for a construction loan, you should probably do some serious stretching. These loans require a ton of legwork on the borrower’s part. You’ll need to jump through numerous hoops to prove your home-building project is real, viable and relatively low-risk for the lender.
For most construction loan applications, you’ll need to provide the lender with a project timetable and a realistic budget. You’ll also need to supply a comprehensive list of construction details, including everything from floor plans and the type of building materials to insulation and ceiling heights. (Experienced builders typically create a blue book” that includes all of these details for a home-building project.)
Prepare for a Sizeable Down Payment
At a minimum, most lenders require a 20% down payment on a construction loan, and some require as much as 25%. Why are the down payment requirements so high? Because construction loans are viewed as higher risk” than a traditional mortgage loan, and the lender wants to ensure you don’t walk away from the project.
Know Where You Land
If you don’t already own the lot where you plan to build, the cost of the land will need to be included in the overall amount of the construction loan. If it’s financially possible, try to pay for the land upfront. Otherwise, you’re going to have make a much larger down payment to qualify for the construction loan.
Work With a Qualified Builder
To gain approval for a construction loan, you’ll need to prove you have a qualified builder involved in the project. A qualified builder is usually defined as a licensed general contractor with an established home-building reputation.
If you intend to act as your own general contractor or build the home yourself, this presents a unique challenge – and you likely will not be approved for a standard construction loan. In this scenario, you may want to turn your search to owner-builder construction loans. In today’s housing market, it can be tough to qualify for these type of loans; but it is possible if you provide a well-researched construction plan that demonstrates your home-building knowledge and abilities. Don’t forget a contingency fund for unexpected surprises – see New Construction’s Hidden Costs Can Burn Buyers
Don’t Bother With Online Shopping
Unlike traditional mortgages, construction loans are rarely offered online. If you’re ready to shop around for a construction loan, you should start with your local credit union or regional bank. Because local banks are familiar with the housing market in their area, they are typically more comfortable making home construction loans to borrowers in their community.
The Bottom Line
While building your own home from the ground up can be an extremely rewarding process, landing a construction loan is no walk in the park. To increase your chances for approval, put together a detailed project plan, get a qualified home builder involved and save up enough money for a large down payment before you apply.
- Repair Your Windshield Early for Best Results!
There are several reasons to repair a windshield chip as soon as you can:
-A windshield chip can crack at any time. Increased pressure could turn the chip into a crack at a moment’s notice-including while driving.
-A windshield provides up to 30% of a vehicle’s structural strength. In a crash or roll-over accident it supports the roof, helps the airbags deploy and prevents you being thrown from the vehicle. If your windshield is weakened by a chip or a crack, you’re compromising your safety.
-Safelite repairs windshields quickly. Repairing a chipped windshield can take as little as 30 minutes.
-Windshield chip repair saves money. The cost of windshield replacement far exceeds that of repairing a chip. Repairing your windshield immediately could save you money down the line if your chip or crack grows larger from driving or weather. Costs can stack up if you choose to repair the chip yourself, as DIY windshield repair kits do not have a warranty and may continue to crack, leaving you the only option of spending money yet again, on a windshield replacement in Greenville, SC.
What’s the evidence?
The longer you leave a windshield chip, the more likely it is to get worse. A recent windshield damage survey showed once again that stressors like extreme temperatures, driving and fatigue will cause existing windshield chips and cracks to spread quickly. The best way to stop this is to get the chip repaired promptly.
Cold weather stress
According to a study conducted at the Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA), chips were likely to spread more than 80% of the time at temperatures of 14 degrees (-10 c). Windshield chips tested at 32 degrees through computer simulation were nearly 60% likely to crack.
Warm weather stress
Warm weather conditions cause windshield chips to spread into vertical cracks. The same study conducted by MIRA suggested that the heat distorts the shape of the windshield glass, which can lead to cracking by itself. The cooling effect of the air conditioning unit makes even more likely to crack.
Driving and fatigue stress
Driving over a speed bump, pothole or other uneven terrain can cause a windshield chip to crack. The force radiates through the car and puts additional pressure on the edges of the chip, which can quickly lead to a crack. Although it is not possible to say how long it will take for a windshield chip to spread, the study suggests that stressors like weather changes or simply driving will eventually cause or lengthen a windshield crack. Getting a windshield repair early can stop the damage from spreading and prevent the need for a windshield replacement.
- Is the More Costly Lockset Really More Protective?
Most people tend to go by the saying “you get what you pay for”, and a lot of the time, that tends to be true. Sometimes though, that saying just doesn’t live up to itself. There were plenty of times for most people when they were expecting a lot out of something and it ended up paying back very little in return. With locks, this tends to be true more often than most of us would like.
Be careful when you choose a locksmith company that charges high prices for locks! We asked our favorite Greenville locksmith to weigh in on the benefits of “paying up” for sets that cost more and their response is telling.
Deadbolt locks have a lot of advantages, one major advantage being that it works regardless of whether or not the electricity is working. Most people would probably agree that is a huge plus. Compared to newer high-tech locks, deadlocks are relatively cheap. There are some disadvantages to deadlocks, such as possibly losing your key, but as long as you have a spare available, you are good to go.
Scan locks as a whole tend to be more expensive. This is because not only do the parts used to make it cost more, but also you are buying the extra security that they tout. However, looks can be deceiving. Due to “bump keys” which are easily found on the online market for cheap, these locks can still be compromised by someone who is not even skilled at picking locks. The reality is that a majority of scan locks found at homes and businesses today are no more secure than a good quality deadlock, yet they cost a lot more.
The consensus is that it is ultimately up to you to decide which lock is best for your home or business. If you live in a safe area, the high cost for the small amount of extra security you get may not be worth it; and even if the area is not so safe, many expensive scan locks are easily broken into with an easily obtainable bump key, so be sure to do your research thoroughly when it comes to paying extra money for a scan lock.
So, the answer is no! A more expensive lock is not necessarily more secure.
- How to Select the Best Floor Covering when Remodeling your Kitchen or Bath
There are a wide variety of flooring options available today for your kitchen or bathroom. When it comes time to remodel your kitchen or bathroom, you need to carefully consider how you want the finished product to look, as well as how much time and energy you want to put into its maintenance.
For example, hardwood flooring is an extremely popular type of flooring on the market today, but its use in the kitchen or bathroom can be problematic. If it regularly becomes wet, or stays wet for prolonged periods of time, or it is generally damp, hardwood flooring will eventually buckle and warp. Even water-treated hardwood flooring may buckle and warp over time due to the cumulative effects of always being wet, but there are some types of wood – such as Brazilian teak, treated with polyurethane – which hold up well over time in environments such as the kitchen or the bathroom. Such treated woods can actually be extremely easy to clean, as well as being attractive and stain-resistant. Other options, perhaps better suited for the kitchen or bathroom than are many types of wood flooring, include vinyl, as well as ceramic tiles.
Vinyl flooring is extremely popular because it has a certain amount of yield to it; it “gives” imperceptibly under pressure, resulting in added foot and arch support. This is particularly helpful in the kitchen, where food preparation – and cleaning up after a meal – may result in prolonged periods of standing, particularly on special occasions such as holidays, birthdays, and other assorted family get-togethers. Vinyl is available in tiles or in sheets, and it can be fashioned to mimic the appearance of wood, ceramic, or other forms of flooring materials, thus adding to its appeal… as does the fact that it is not particularly expensive. For a certain simplicity of style and elegance, meanwhile, there are few options which really beat the ceramic tile, particularly in the bathroom. If you are looking for a bathroom remodel in Greenville SC, ask the experts at Mountain Creek Kitchen and Bathroom about ceramic tile flooring. It is inexpensive, durable, and easily cleaned using common all-purpose floor or surface cleaners. When properly grouted, it is water-resistant, and it will last for years.
Visit the Website for Mountain Creek Kitchen and Bathroom, located at http://www.kitchenbathroomremodelinggreenville.com, for more information about the options available to you when you choose to remodel your kitchen or your bathroom.
- Transmission Repair vs. Replacement
The difference between replacing and repairing your car’s transmission is a matter of great expense and considerable time and effort. Which solution is more viable depends upon the state of your vehicle’s current transmission, with the obvious intention being to catch any transmission problems before they snowball out of control – so that you can take your car in to be serviced, and to have its transmission repaired, before it’s too late to do so.
Repairing a fixable transmission may cost you anywhere from $1000 to $2000; by comparison, replacing an irreparable transmission will cost you between $1800 and $3600… and that’s for the replacement itself. You still need to come up with the money for the transmission; even for a salvaged transmission, that’s usually another $1,000 minimum. For something completely remanufactured, you might be talking about an additional $3500 or more. For many used cars, it quickly becomes more economical to simply replace the vehicle.
If you need transmission repair in Greenville, or in the surrounding area, you want to come to All-Trans. All-Trans are the recognized leaders in the diagnosis and repair of transmission problems within the Greenville, SC region. They carry a wide variety of both manual and automatic transmissions, and are recognized leading experts in transmission installation and transmission maintenance.
If it’s worth your while to have your transmission replaced, they will do it for a reasonable cost – and you can rest assured that your vehicle has a transmission which was installed by the best. The helpful staff at All-Trans will help you to understand the best ways to take care of your car or truck, so as to maximize the viable lifespan of your transmission. Whether you need your transmission repaired, or you need an entirely new transmission installed, All-Trans are the people to go see in the Greenville SC area.
Under no circumstances should you trust transmission repairs to your local corner service station. Service station mechanics are capable and skilled individuals… just like your family doctor. Like your family doctor, they can diagnose and “treat” a large number of conditions, as well as advise you on how to best avoid those conditions in the future. The transmission on your car, however, is an extremely difficult and time-consuming part of your car to examine, diagnose, and repair. You wouldn’t go to your family doctor for open-heart surgery; don’t go to your corner mechanic for a transmission problem! Take it to the experts instead.
- 5 Reasons To Use An Air Compressor
Air compressors can come in very handy when you are doing bits and pieces of DIY. Whether you a complete novice, or a veteran when it comes to DIY once you have used air compressors you will never want to go back to hand held tools.
There are different types of air compressors suitable for different people as well as for different functions. So here are 5 reasons to use air compressors
- Air compressors are great when used to power a nail gun. You could buy a battery unit powered nail gun costs around $200 – $500 and the battery charge does not last too long during heavy periods of use. An air compressor powered nailer will set you back $50 – $300 and air lasts a lot longer than a single battery charge does. The more building work you do the more useful your air powered nailer becomes.
- It makes spray painting so much easier. An air compressor powered paint sprayer will make paint jobs so much faster to finish. A sprayer is really useful when intricate details need to be painted, or you to paint in harder to reach places.
Using brushes is fine, yet you can get better results with a sprayer, for instance on kitchen cabinets. As a sprayer makes the results look like a pro did it you will have to pay for a new kitchen, or for contractors to paint the existing one.
- Air compressors allow you to do DIY auto repairs. Just think how many dollars you will save by being able to remove bolts in hard to reach or confined spaces and then carry out simple repairs and maintenance work. Using hand hand tools often put people off doing auto repairs themselves, taking a couple of hours to remove a rusty bolt with a ratchet and socket is nobody’s idea of a good time. However with an air ratchet combined with an air compressor those stubborn bolts will be removed in a matter of seconds.
It is something that many garages would not like you to do, because they lose money. For more details see this article which talks about best garage air compressor to help you make the right choice.
- Air compressors are really versatile and allow you to use a whole host of air powered tools. Plus all those different tools allow you to perform a wide variety of tasks to very high standards with a just a little bit of DIY knowledge. With tools so simple to use, and air compressors using less energy than battery powered or corded tools you can save thousands of dollars by doing jobs yourself.
With air powered tools you can paint things on your own, fix minor things in your car, and remodel rooms without money you cannot really spare. Air tools have a greater life span too as long as you maintain them properly.
- Air compressors put simply are just cool. They look cool when you are using them. Sure they can be a little tricky at first, that is when our advice and videos come in handy for you.
- Tips (and Tricks) from a Locksmith
If you want the key to home safety, who better to ask than a locksmith? With their experience making and repairing locks and their home security expertise, there is no one better to advise you. So today, we’ve compiled a list of locksmith tips and tricks. Whether you’re a new homeowner or an old hand, it never hurts to refresh your memory and remind yourself of important security advice. You never know—you just might learn a thing or two!
Locksmith Tips and Tricks
- ON NEW HOMES. Always rekey or replace your locks when you buy a new house. The previous owner could have extra copies of the keys, or they could have given spare keys to neighbors, family members, friends, or even contractors. If you don’t want strangers to have access to your home, you need to replace your locks (the pricier, more complicated method) or rekey your locks (which is quicker and cheaper). To learn more about replacing/rekeying your home’s locks, visit this locksmith in Asheville.
- ON DEADBOLTS. Install a deadbolt lock for superior home protection, but make sure that it’s installed correctly. Many contractors don’t know how to install locks the right way, so call a locksmith for best results.
- ON WINDOWS AND LOCKS. If there is a window near your deadbolt lock, realize that a criminal could easily break your window and unlock the deadbolt. To avoid this simple mistake, use a double cylinder lock that needs a key instead. And don’t leave the key sitting in the lock!
- ON HIRING. Looking to hire a new locksmith? Take your time. Many “locksmiths” out there are scam artists who will charge you far more than they quoted and far more than the service is worth. You need to find someone trustworthy, reliable, and experienced, so don’t call up the first name you see in the yellow pages. Use our tips to find a locksmith you can trust.
- ON STURDY DOORS. Use sturdy, solid doors made of solid wood or steel. If the door is made of a weak, flimsy, or hollow material, it can easily be kicked in or broken. A great lock needs a great door.
- ON HIDING PLACES. Never hide your door key under the mat! Do you really think you’re the first person to think of that hiding place? If a criminal wants to access your home, they will usually search obvious places in the 10 feet surrounding your door. Doormats, pots, planters, mailboxes, rocks, and fake rocks are all common hiding places. Choose somewhere 15-20 feet away from the door that is unusual and protective instead. Or better yet, give your spare key to a friend or loyal neighbor!
I hope these locksmith tips and tricks come in handy. Be sure to share them with any new homeowners you know, as well as your friends and loved ones.