improving house exterior

Improving the Exterior of Your House For Added Resale Value

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Sometimes we forget how extraordinarily valuable the homes we live in really are; we just live in them, sleep in them, eat in them and laze about in them if we haven’t got anything better to do at the weekends.

Well actually, we have got something better to do at the weekend; we can dedicate at least a part of every weekend to improving our homes. Don’t get me wrong; R&R is as necessary and productive in its own right as it has ever been,if you think of the increasingly chaotic lives we lead nowadays, and so is socialising and getting out of the house to enjoy the great outdoors.

But some of these activities may not necessarily be mutually exclusive if you consider, for instance, that you can devise enjoyable and relaxing projects for your yard and garden which will improve the value of your home and, just as importantly, improve your home pride.

Your yard is, after all, an outdoor area and there’s no reason why you can’t make it great; inviting friends and family over will be that much more rewarding if you’ve got a pleasant yard to entertain them in.

Good projects for your yard

It’s not so much exactly which projects you should be doing as which type of projects. If you aren’t planning on going anywhere anytime soon and you want to turn your home in a personal oasis, then you can really do anything that tickles your fancy, I guess.

However, if you’re not the only one sharing the house or you’re thinking of selling and moving on some day, then you should stick to small scale building projects or less permanent projects that improve your yard without radical alterations.

This is why I wouldn’t recommend wholesale landscaping projects or installing an in ground pool. Not only will they incur significant time and expense, but these improvements, which can by all means be personally very satisfying, generally do not represent very good returns on investments and may indeed discourage future buyers who do not share your tastes or have other things in mind for the yard.

A better project would be building a pergola, for instance. You can easily find numerous free design ideas, scale drawings with full specifications, and handy construction and maintenance guides to help you successfully build improvements at your own pace with a little help from your spouse, friend or neighbour.

They really require little more than preparing the base with gravel, concrete and some form of pavement, and the right timber for your columns (which can also be in cement or fiberglass), main beams and crossbeams.

Conclusion

Similar projects which I really love include greenhouses, tool sheds, adventure playgrounds, trellises, car ports, garden paths, picket fences, decks and anything else that you can generally put together with supplies from your local timber and hardware store and a good circular saw.

These kinds of improvements represent far better returns on home investments than anything requiring earth moving equipment and large quantities of concrete, and they are also features that you can potentially disassemble and take to your next dwelling, transportation costs permitting, that is.

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Advantages of Having a Deck in Your House

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Adding a deck to your house is a very smart way to add value to your home as well as new found function and style.

In fact, decking ranks as one of the most popular forms of home improvement on the market, and can make dramatic improvements to the way you and your family enjoy your home, the way you entertain guests and the way you use and appreciate your precious yard space in general.

If you read on, you’ll find out more about why building a deck is a fantastic investment for your home, and what you can do to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Adding a deck for extra living space

If you and your family are tired of spending all your free home time watching television in the living room or kitchen, then you might want to compare the benefits of extending your home with the joys of having a deck in the yard.

Adding a rumpus room or a sunroom can certainly represent a marvellous addition to your home, but the associated costs can be enormous. And while an extra bedroom and bathroom for a growing family might constitute an unavoidable necessity, if you’re just looking to add an extra dimension to your home for everyone to enjoy, then a deck is probably a much better option.

The overall plan of your new deck must, of course, respect the current structure of your home and the geometry of your yard. Even the simplest designs for smaller yards can elegantly accommodate a barbecue and a table and chairs for outdoor family banquets at the weekend or for magical summer breakfasts and dinners.

If there are trees around to provide shade, you can perhaps forego any overhead structures, but there is also an enormous variety of canopies and roofing that you can add to stave off the beating sun or a bit of morning or evening drizzle.

If your property and budget can accommodate a large deck, then you can add more outdoor furniture and perhaps even segment the deck into different functional areas for cooking, eating, reading and sunbathing, and entertaining.

Adding a deck for aesthetics and style

A new deck will always add that extra warm, country touch to any house with a suitable yard. But if you’re looking for an addition that will really boost your home pride, and if style is as important to you as function, then you need to spend a little more time, and probably a little more money, to think it through.

The things you can do with a deck are virtually limitless, be it a raised platform deck with various tiers and landings overlooking an ample yard with lots of trees and shrubs, or a ground level deck that merges with the yard, with small islands for plants, rock pools and the like.

The temptation can, of course, be such that you go well over your budget or develop something that really doesn’t go with the size of your house and your yard. Proportion is a key aspect here, and if you really want to be stylish, you should limit yourself to something that is in keeping with the style of surrounding properties and is commensurate with your own property.

If you do have some extra money to spend, you could always invest it in landscaping and other backyard improvements that, while not directly associated with the deck, can still make a tremendous improvement to the overall aesthetic experience.

Adding a deck to improve the value of your home

Statistically speaking, decks rank as one of the best returns on investment with respect to improving the value of your home, with some surveys declaring at least a 75% return. So if you spend $10,000 on your new deck, then you can expect the value of your home to immediately rise by at least $7,500.

The slight downside is that this is factored into your rates payments when you obtain permits for constructing a deck, but all told it does not translate into a significant rise, and it is certainly less than if you were add an extension instead.

If increasing the sale value of your home is definitely on your agenda, then be extra careful to ensure that your new deck adheres to the relevant norms and regulations for decking. You can be certain that a home inspection professional will look closely at your decking at sale time, and you don’t want your boon turning into some form of bane.

You should also remember that decking will require care and maintenance. The modern pressed and treated timbers used for decking have outstanding resistance characteristics with respect to sunlight, humidity and mould, but they can’t work miracles and require inspection, thorough cleaning and treatment with special timber products at least on a yearly basis.

Conclusion

There’s not a lot more to add really, if you really love your home and want your family and guests to be able to enjoy it to its full potential, then you can’t go past adding a fine deck to the back of your home, or front, for that matter.

A deck is not necessarily the simplest of constructions, but neither is it beyond the scope of the home handyman. So if you’re looking for a substantial project to sink your teeth into for at least a couple of months, then think it through carefully, do lots of research, decide the equipment and calculate the material you will need, and then slowly but surely get to work on a beautiful new deck for your home.

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Tips Before Deciding To Construct Your House

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Having your house built new has got a lot of advantages over buying a pre-existing property in terms of cost, flexibility, resale value and sheer personal satisfaction, but it usually amounts to a lot of extra work and there is the risk that things can go horribly wrong. Before you decide to proceed with construction, take a look at the following breakdown of the things you will need to manage before, during and after construction, and then think about whether it’s something you want to get involved in.

Finances

Before you even think about building, you need to have a good grasp of what you’re facing in terms of capital outlay, and how you’re going to finance it. It is crucial that you factor in the costs like government duties, inspection and valuation, legal costs, settlement fees, property taxes, site preparation to your overall budget, and don’t forget you’re still going to need money for furniture and refinements. Once you have fairly accurate estimates of house, land and sundry costs, you then to approach financial institutions for a loan. There are a lot of different loan packages on the market, so you may want to enlist the help of a good broker to dig up the solutions that best fit your circumstances.

Location, location, location

Pardon the cliché. There is, however, a great deal that you need to research and think about before choosing your lot. You need to check all the public utilities and find out whether you can connect to sewerage mains or if you’re going to have to install a septic tank. You also need to consider intangible amenities like schools and transport services, as well as crime rates and general affluence in the area. You need to examine at the land title very carefully, especially looking for any covenants and encumbrances on the block, and you also need to check with the local council regarding any special requirements or building restrictions. While you’re there, find out whether there are any works planned for the area in the foreseeable future. Then you need to assess with your builder how you’re going to orientate your planned house with respect to the land, bearing in mind energy and light factors associated with the passage of the sun.

Building quotations and contracts

If you were asking yourself whether you were having fun yet, well get ready for plans, permits and building contacts. Designing your house can be an exciting phase, but remember that there is no perfect solution and every design involves some degree of compromise. And the spatial layout is only half the job; you need to look very closely at the construction materials you are going to use and the distribution of electricity, gas, water, phone and Ethernet cabling throughout the house as well as door and window fixtures, lighting and insulation, just to name a few.

Once you’ve gone through the rigmarole of obtaining permits and, assuming there haven’t been any major hiccups, it’s time to get down and dirty with the builders. The contract phase with your builder can make you or break you, so you need to scour quotations and contracts thoroughly to be sure you know exactly what you are and aren’t getting in the contract, and remember to consider details like fixtures, lighting, built-in cupboards and wardrobes, plumbing, taps, fittings, pavements, driveways, flooring… everything.

The contract elaboration process is a very good moment to get a qualified building inspector involved, as they are industry professionals who can help you identify any potential issues with the contract and also give you a lot of important advice regarding your rights. Remember that once you’ve signed the dotted line, don’t expect that you can just cancel the contract without incurring penalties, and there is no “cooling off” period to speak of in the building game.

During construction

Once construction is underway, you really should visit the site as often as you can to check the work is proceeding according to plan. Progress payments will likely be part of the original contract agreement and you need to be sure that the builder has actually properly completed the work you are being billed for.

Unfortunately, with the amount of money that goes into building a house, a builder can skim tens of thousands of dollars off construction costs by simply switching to inferior materials and lowering specs and, well, the temptation is just too great for the average human being. Make very sure that you are as vigilant as you can be during the construction process. Remember your building inspector? This figure can help you immensely in this respect, and will give you the added piece of mind that they will be checking things that, as a layman, you may never have even dreamed of. As well as conducting progress inspections and providing detailed, documented reports, the building inspector is also responsible for the final inspection, which is vitally important with respect to enforcing a builder’s legal obligation to provide maintenance and fix shortcomings within a specified time after construction has been completed.

Moving in and furnishing your new home

If you didn’t factor in moving and furniture costs when you first developed your estimates and arranged financing, you’re going to regret it now. This can be such a painstakingly long and expensive process that there is little wonder that so many new homes are never quite complete even a few years after the owners have moved in. Never mind. When you do buy furniture, look closely at the quality of the workmanship and think carefully about whether it will service your needs in the immediate and longer term future, as family conditions change and evolve over time.

Don’t forget to inform various government departments and public institutions, the local electoral office, banking and insurance companies and other interested parties of your new address.

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Tips To Remember When Renovating Your Home

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Renovating and remodelling your home is a very good idea, considering that for most people it’s the greatest asset they have. The whole process from go to woe can mean different things to different people; some might find it exciting, others may not be looking forward to it at all and have probably been putting it off for years. When it’s over however, the pleasure of a successful renovation job can be immense.

The idea to renovate your home usually comes from the desire to revamp a decidedly decrepit part of the house, or a response to the changing needs of the family. Whatever the case may be, you need to do as much planning and homework as you can spare before you even touch anything. Make a dedicated folder on your pc and buy a sketchpad or notebook, and start taking measurements and making rough sketches of what you have in mind. Try to be methodical in this phase and break everything down to basic categories like floor, walls, ceiling, fixtures, amenities etc. It’s important at this stage to think about things that you can’t see like electricity, plumbing and insulation.

Once you have a good idea of what you’re hoping to achieve, it’s time to start shopping around and asking for professional quotations. As that round, vague figure of what it’s all going to cost starts to crystallise, start making firm decisions about what you’re really comfortable with managing financially. It’s not really about what you can and can’t afford, we can all get a loan and spend copious amounts of money on renovations and extensions; it’s really more about making disciplined decisions regarding what you can comfortably manage, bearing in mind other future expenses and contingency funds. It is also always a good idea to add a 15 to 25% buffer percentage to your overall estimate to cover unforeseen costs.

Once you’ve got clear ideas about what the job will involve, how long it will take and how much it will cost, it’s time to start setting up the contracts, obtaining permits and placing purchase orders. If you aren’t totally sure about what you’re getting into with respect to contracts, you really must have your lawyer and independent building inspectors go through the contract with you and carefully explain your rights and any possible caveats. It is also a good idea to get a quote from your building inspector to supervise the job during the various work phases. You may not have initially considered this expense, but always bear in mind that things can go terribly wrong when you are having work done to your house and a professional building inspector is a very good way to keep everyone honest before, during and after the renovations. Remember also, that inspection reports from qualified building inspectors will be your lawyer’s primary source of ammunition should you need to take legal action with builders; without them you’ll be dead in the water.

Last but not least, you need to reorganise your furniture and daily routine to accommodate the flow of workers and materials coming into and out of the house over the coming weeks. It’s a hassle, but if you think it over carefully and plan everything with your family and possibly neighbours, it is time very well spent.

Renovating your home is about making an improvement, not stressing yourself mentally and financially. Take your time, be prudent, and get all the professional help you need to make sure everything goes smoothly. And when it’s all over, relax, pop a bottle of champagne and soak up the delightful new aspect of your beloved home.

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Top Reasons for Renovating Your Kitchen

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The kitchen is probably the area in the house which endures the highest amount of traffic, the largest range of chemicals, the greatest variations in heat and has the most services connected to it. No wonder, then, that kitchens are liable to age more quickly than other sections of the house, and often get to the point where quick fixes and cover-ups cost so much time and money that you’re just better off renovating your kitchen entirely.

An old, haggardly kitchen in its death throes is not, of course, the only reason to want to completely change your kitchen. A carefully considered kitchen design can give a new look to the entire living area of the house and reflect the personalities and tastes of the owners. The very fact the a kitchen consists of cabinets, appliances, tables, chairs and bench tops means that any number of materials, colours, patterns and styles can be used to create a marvelously unique look that can greatly revive your house pride and win a lot of praise from visiting friends and family.

Yet another perfectly good reason to do away with your old kitchen is to improve the way the spaces are used and generally make for a more efficient kitchen and user friendly area. If you’ve had your old kitchen for a long time, there’s probably quite a few layout and design changes you could think of that would make a marked difference to the way the entire space is used. You might wish the dishwasher was closer to the sink or the bench top weren’t so small or far away from the stove, for instance. The real expert in these situations is you, and while you can and should get the advice of professional kitchen builders, interior designers and architects regarding design improvements, remember that you are the one who has used the area hundreds if not thousands of times and can therefore provide the best input for the cleverest solutions.

Nothing ever stays the same, and that is very true for families. The old kitchen may have serviced your needs well enough when there was only one or two of you, but what happens when that figure becomes four? Your kitchen may not be able to meet the demands of a growing family, and a bigger fridge may not really solve the problem. When the children are still young, the problem may not be so obvious; although any conscientious parent should think very carefully indeed about the potential hazards in the kitchen, and there are many. As the kids get older, however, the kitchen gets very busy indeed. You really need to ask yourself if your kitchen is up to the task of handling all members of the family running busily around the kitchen, hurriedly preparing breakfast as they are late for school and work. Heaven forbid they invite friends to sleep over!

You can renovate your kitchen cheaply; it is not necessarily an expensive endeavour, and it will add value to your home. So if you’re planning on selling your house, ask yourself whether the kitchen is doing it any justice. A dank kitchen will only put buyers off and drive the price of the house down, but a bright, new kitchen will spark the imagination of buyers and help you get the sale at the price you were aiming for. Relatively small investments in these cases can really pay themselves back handsomely, and make you very glad indeed that you had the foresight to do it.

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Building Inspectors Can Get You Out of Deep Water

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With the amount of money involved in houses these days and the potential for agonizing heartbreaks and devastating financial losses, anyone who tries to do everything on his or her own without enlisting the help of industry professionals is taking enormous risks. Most of us only get one shot at establishing the perfect nest for ourselves and our loved ones and the consequences can ruin our lives if we get it wrong. Residential building inspection services can help prevent any such misgivings and may just help us avoid making the single biggest mistake of our lives (apart from getting married).

There are many situations, often critical, in which professional building inspectors can intervene and help us make informed decisions about buying, selling, repairing and renovating our houses.

When it comes to buying a house, most of the negotiating is done with real estate agents whose primary interest in the transaction is the commission they will earn on the closed sale. We are not taking a swipe at the level of professionalism and ethics of real estate agents here, we are just talking about a simple, undeniable fact that every buyer has to keep in mind when they’re about to invest their life savings in a new home. Professional building inspectors, on the other hand, are on the buyers’ side and are there to make sure that people get what they’re paying for.

Sellers also need to get in on the act when it comes to building inspection if they don’t want to risk lawsuits, or being landed with a hefty defect liability for a problem they may have overlooked, or could have avoided. They should also bear in mind that buyers will run for the door at the first signs of trouble, or cleverly use anything they find as leverage to negotiate prices down. All of this amounts to massive headaches and substantial financial haircuts, which could easily have been avoided. It is also important to realise that many codes and regulations pertain to a particular state, city or municipality. This means that building inspection in Sydney, for instance, will entail differences to similar practices in other cities and states.

It is needless to point out that houses deteriorate with time and require regular maintenance and repair. Ageing houses can begin to suffer from problems relating to structural fatigue, humidity, mould, termites and other situations that only worsen with time. Some houses may also still have asbestos panels incorporated into the structure, which spells serious health implications for the inhabitants. All of these problems can be identified by inspection professionals who have been trained to spot the symptoms and locate the areas in the house requiring immediate attention.

Renovations and extensions almost always involve knocking down sections of the house and rebuilding or adding new areas. From an engineering perspective, this often involves adding new loads to existing structural elements in the building, and renovators need to be dead certain that these elements can withstand them.

There really is no doubt regarding the necessity of having building inspectors survey the properties we live in or intend to buy. There are many well-trained professionals in the business, but the best ones would have to be the service providers that are also, to some extent, builders themselves, even if they are comparatively small construction companies. The reason is that these companies, especially those which provide across-the-board or macro solutions, have the inside knowledge and experience necessary to find the problems that are less obvious and more difficult to identify. In short, they know where to look.