Real Estate Information Archive

Blog

Displaying blog entries 1-4 of 4

7 Home Improvement Ideas That Stretch Your Dollars the Most

by The Schnoor Team

Enjoy your home more today — and sell it for the best price tomorrow.

When it comes to home improvement ideas, some are more financially savvy than others. And if you’re on a limited budget, it becomes even more important to be savvy.

Here are seven affordable home improvement projects that’ll help you enjoy your home more today and provide excellent financial return in the future.

#1 Add the Finishing Touch of Molding

Crown molding makes rooms seem both bigger taller. It's an elegant addition to any home.

Plus, wood moldings come in hundreds of options -- from simple to ornate -- that you can stain, paint, or leave natural.

You can also find moldings in flexible materials, such as foam, that make installation a whole lot easier. Some moldings even include lighting that casts a soft, ambient glow. 

And at $1.50 per foot if you DIY it, or $8 per foot if you hire, it’s a no-brainer in terms of personalizing your home while adding value. (Although we don’t recommend DIY unless you’ve got above-par mitering skills.)

A few tips about molding:

Be careful about proportions. If your ceiling height is 9 feet or less, go with simpler styles to avoid overwhelming the room.

Place a chair railing at one-third the distance of the ceiling height. Chair railing placed incorrectly can make a room seem out of proportion.

Don’t forget entryways, doors, and windows: Bump up the trim around these areas to give rooms a completed and expensive feel.

#2 Hang Quality Ceiling Fans

If your ceiling fans are old and outdated, new ones (coupled with a fresh paint job and crown molding) could give your rooms a refreshing update while saving money.

Some tips about ceiling fans:

  • Hang 7 to 8 feet above the floor.
  • If you’ve got a low ceiling, buy a hugger ceiling fan that’s flush-mounted.
  • Go for the biggest Energy Star-rated fan that will fit the space.
  • Choose quality. You’ll get better cooling results, less noise, and good looks at a digestible price point of $200 to $600.

​​

#3 Plant Some Trees

Say what? Adding trees doesn’t instantly pop into your head when you think of adding value to your home. But trees are moneymakers that get better with age.

A mature tree could be worth between $1,000 to $10,000, says the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers. A 16-inch silver maple could be worth $2,562, according to a formula worked out by the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service.

In urban areas, money really does grow on trees. A recent study of home sales by the Pacific Northwest Research Station of Portland showed that street trees growing in front of or near a house boosted its sale price by an average of $8,870 and shaved two days off its time on the market.

There’s more. Trees also:

  • Save $100 to $250 annually in energy costs
  • Lower stress
  • Prevent erosion from downpours and roof runoff
  • Protect your home from wind, rain, and sun

#4 Install a Deck or Patio

But don’t go crazy and trick out your outdoor space with high-end amenities, like an outdoor kitchen — especially if you’d be the only one on the block with one. When it’s time to sell, you won’t get back much — if any — of your investment on outdoor kitchens and other high-end amenities. Instead, keep it simple and functional to see a return on investment.

A professionally installed deck costs about $10,000 to install, but if you DIY it, you'll save more than half that while adding to your equity.

Don’t skimp on deck lighting. It can make all the difference in functionality and beautification.

#5 Upgrade Your Insulation

It's not as sexy as a kitchen remodel, but it doesn't cost as much either ($65,000 vs $2,100).

Plus, you'll save all year long on your utility bills. Win-win!

#6 Add Some Creative Storage

We don’t have to sell you on the value of storage and built-in organization. Since when have you heard someone complain about too much storage? Never, we bet.

Adding storage is a no-brainer, but it does take a little brainpower to find your home’s hidden storage.

Here are a few ways to think outside of the toy box:

  • Open drywall to create storage cubbies between your wall’s studs.
  • Install platform storage that hangs from your garage ceiling.
  • Even stairs can give you more storage. One clever mom repurposed an old chest of drawers and created storage within a basement staircase.

#7 Install Landscape Lighting

Exterior lighting makes your home shine in the evening, accents features you like most about your house, and helps keep burglars away. Installing motion-detecting lights can even lower some homeowners’ insurance premiums.

Landscaping lighting tips:

  • Place accent lights under your favorite trees to show off your landscaping’s top earners.
  • Put them on a timer so you don’t waste energy running them during the day.
  • Choose a warm, white light. It'll make your home look and feel welcoming.

Source: "7 Home Improvement Ideas That Stretch Your Dollars the Most"

Tips to Create a Simple Garage Workshop

by The Schnoor Team

You can build a garage workshop, complete with lighting, for less than $500.

Garages often harbor a not-so-secret second life: heroic home workshop. They’re well-suited to the task, with a tolerance for the noise and dust of do-it-yourself projects.

You can assemble a basic workbench, cabinets, shelving, and add simple overhead lighting for less than $500.

But if a garage workshop isn’t comfortable and convenient to use, you’ll avoid projects rather than enjoy them.

Here are the essentials:

Get (or Build) a Solid Workbench

Your primary work surface should be a rock-solid bench with a hard and heavy top. Buy or build the best you can manage. (Then vow to keep the top clear — tools and materials have a way of eating up workbench space).

Premade workbenches run $100 to $500 and come in many lengths; they’re usually 24 inches deep. A 38-inch height is typical, but you might be more comfortable with a work surface as low as 36 or as high as 42 inches. Some benches include vises, drawers, and shelves.

Build one yourself using readily available plans. A simple, sturdy workbench takes less than a day to build and materials cost less than $100. The Family Handyman magazine offers detailed instructions for several, including an inexpensive, simple bench. A more complex bench with a miter saw stand and drawers costs $300-$500 to build and takes a weekend.

 

Install Bright Light

Garage work surfaces need bright ambient light and strong task lightening.

  • High-intensity lights (halogen, LEDs, and others) are great for over-bench task lighting. An LED task light with a flexible goose-neck ($75-$150) puts light where you need it.
  • If your garage has a finished ceiling, recessed fixtures (can lights) are inexpensive ($10-$20) and are good for task and ambient lighting.
  • Ceiling-mounted fluorescent light fixtures are the classic, low-cost solution for workshop lighting. A two- or four-bulb, 48-inch fluorescent fixture costs less than $50.

When shopping for workshop lighting, think lumens rather than watts. A lumen is a measure of lighting brightness, and is a handy way to compare today’s new energy-efficient light bulbs. Lighting fixtures and bulbs have labels that indicate lumens per device. A general rule of thumb is to use 130 to 150 lumens per square foot of work space.

For example, a 40-watt fluorescent bulb puts out about 2,200 lumens. A 60-watt incandescent bulb puts out about 800 lumens.

Be Sure to Have Adequate Electrical Power

Along with your new lights, be sure your garage workshop has adequate electrical service — outlets and capacity — to accommodate your arsenal of power tools. Place outlets nearby; don’t depend on extension cords stretched across your garage — they can be a tripping hazard. If you don’t have 30-amp circuits on your garage service, talk with an electrical contractor about making this simple upgrade.

Ballpark $75-$100 an hour for an electrical contractor, plus a probable service-call fee of $50 to $100. Rates will vary across regions of the country.

Good electricians work quickly, so installing shop lights might take only an hour or two if access to electrical service is readily available. Increasing circuit capacity generally requires running new, heavier-gauge wire from your circuit-breaker box to the shop site.

Create Smart Storage

Don’t make yourself rummage through old coffee cans full of rattling bolts and bits: Visit home improvement centers for garage storage ideas and products.

Modular, wall-mounted garage storage systems let you configure shelves, bins, and hooks the way you need. Cost is about $10 per sq. ft. of wall space.

Plastic bins and hefty tubs protect tools, sandpaper, and tool manuals from insects, rodents, and dust. A 10-gallon plastic tub with lid is $5-$8.

Old kitchen cabinets, available where salvaged building materials are sold, are a great way to add storage — and a homemade workbench. Salvaged cabinets are about 50-75% cheaper than new. Top a run of cabinets with ¾-inch plywood for a durable work surface.

Source: "Tips to Create a Simple Garage Workshop"

The Best Time of Year to Buy Things for Your Home

by The Schnoor Team

When to look for sales on mattresses, appliances, tools, furnishings, and materials.

Buying stuff can be stressful. Cheap out, and you could regret it. Overspend, and you’ll cut into your budget. Knowing the best time of year to buy appliances and other household items can lessen the anxiety.

Here’s a list of the best time of year for sales.

Furniture: January and July

You could save 30% to 60% buying furniture in January and July, as stores try to clear out inventory and make way for new pieces, which manufacturers introduce in February and August.

Floor samples especially often sell for a song, so don’t hesitate to ask.

Storage Essentials: January and August

In August, retailers slash prices and offer free shipping on shelving, organizing systems, baskets, and storage bins, baiting parents who are packing kids off to college or getting organized for a new school year. (No offspring? No problem. Proof of parenthood is not required to qualify for deals.)

It happens again in January, when stores roll out more sales — and selection — to help you find a home for all those holiday gifts and meet your organizing goals for the New Year.

Linens and Towels: January

Department store “white sales” — launched in 1878 — are still a favorite marketing tactic and make January the best time to binge on high-quality bedding and towels. If the exact color or style you’re seeking is out of stock, ask in-store for a rain check, so you can get exactly what you want at the price that can’t be beat.

Major Appliances: January, September, October, and the Holidays

The prices on this year’s appliances bottom out when they suddenly become last year’s models. With the exception of refrigerators (more on that below), you can pick up last year’s models for way less in September, October, and January, when stores are making room for new inventory.

For good deals on this year’s models, wait for Black Friday and the holidays. The season rivals inventory clear-out bargains as the best time of year for sales on appliances. And if you’ve got more than one appliance on the fritz, holidays are often the time to find incentives for buying multiple items.

Mattresses: February and May

Even the most obscure holiday seems to inspire mattress sale commercials. Annoying, yes, but also a reminder that you should never pay full price for a mattress. The best time of year for sales is February (courtesy of Presidents Day) and May (Memorial Day).

Many department stores offer coupons for additional savings on the sale price, while specialty chains — which have the biggest markups — can drop prices 50% or more. But don’t waste your time price shopping: Manufacturers have exclusive deals with retailers for each model, so the only way to find a lower price is to snuggle up to a different mattress.

Refrigerators: May

Unlike other big-ticket appliances, new fridges are released in May. Combine the need for retail turnover with Memorial Day sales, and you get epic savings nearly all month long, making it the best time of year to buy a new refrigerator.

Snow Blowers: March and April

The best time to pick up a low-cost snow blower is exactly when you DON’T need it: in March and April. That time of year, no store wants them taking precious floor space away from spring merch like patio furniture and grills.

Vacuums: April and May

New vacs debut in June, so last year’s models go on sale in April and May — just in time for spring cleaning.

Roofing: May

For the lowest price on materials, buy in May.

But if you’re paying a pro to install a new roof, contractor rates begin their climb April 1 and stay high through fall. So if weather allows for wintertime installation, you could save big.

Gas Grills: July and August

Come July 5, there’s still smoke in the air from Fourth of July fireworks, but stores are already moving on to Halloween, with Christmas not far behind. So, they’ll cook up juicy savings on grills and other summer staples in July and August. Sales peak by Labor Day, so you could pick up a new grill and still have time to host one final summer hurrah.

Lawn Mowers: August, September, and May

August and September are the perfect time to retire an ailing mower. You’ll find the lowest prices of the year (but also the slimmest selection) as stores replace mowers with snow blowers. Retailers also kick off the season with sales every April. You generally won’t save quite as much, but you’ll have more choices.

Perennials: September

Unlike non-perishable goods, there’s not much retailers can do with last season’s perennials, so September brings savings of 30% to 50% and two-for-one offers on plants like hostas, daylilies, and peonies. And note that independent gardening stores can typically offer deeper discounts than big chains.

Cooler weather also makes this a great time of year to plant. How’s that for a win-win? If you prefer planting in the spring, many nurseries offer 10% to 20% off when you pre-order in February or March.

Power Tools: June and December

Power tools are a favorite go-to gift for Father’s Day and the holidays, so June and December are the best time to buy tools like cordless drills.

Paint: January, May, July, November, and December

Prices for interior and exterior paint bottom out when the mercury (and demand) falls — in November, December, and January, but also when it rises back up, in May and July.

HVAC equipment: March, April, October, and November

Like snow blowers, the best time to buy furnaces and whole-house air conditioning systems is when you don’t need them. Prices are lowest during months with moderate temperatures — generally March and April, then October and November.

Many installers also run promotions during these slow seasons to help load their books. They also may be more willing to negotiate a lower price or throw in a free upgrade like a fancy thermostat.

Flooring: December and January

From mid-December and into January, homeowners tend to take a break from major remodeling projects because of the holidays. Flooring retailers and installers are looking for business, so that gorgeous wide-plank flooring or luscious carpet can be yours for an even more scrumptious price. Happy Holidays to you.

Source: "The Best Time of Year to Buy Things for Your Home"

7 Genius Entryway Storage Ideas to Get You Out the Door Faster

by The Schnoor Team

Creating personalized bins is a good start.

It’s so easy (and so unfair) how quickly your entryway can go from clean to chaos — and that chaos makes trying to get out the door brutal.

Think of all that time wasted hunting for your keys and umbrella, or digging through a pile of coats to find the one you need. Five minutes spent searching for stuff each morning becomes 35 minutes a week, or more than 30 hours a year!

Corralling your clutter can feel overwhelming, but with the right mindset and a few clever hacks, your entryway can be what helps you get out of the house on time — not what slows you down.

Here are seven ideas to help you out:

#1 Personalize Buckets

How do those hats and gloves end up all over the entryway? Half the time, it happens when someone tosses them aside while searching for their own stuff. That’s why separating each person’s storage space is so ingenious.

“Susie has her own basket, Tommy has his own basket,” says professional organizer Yve Irish. Assigning space and responsibility to each individual family member saves you — and your kids — time digging through other people’s belongings.

You don’t need a huge closet to do this — even little baskets in an inexpensive Ikea shelving unit can do the trick.

Irish recommends pairing a storage system with training to make personalized buckets work: “Teach your children to return items to their basket when they come home,” she says. “You want to make sure that happens and they get into the habit.”

#2 Hang Your Purses and Bags

Digging through a forest of coats to find the right purse for your outfit is a hassle. It’s also not great to shove your bags onto a cluttered closet shelf or (ugh) pile them on the floor — a practice some believe is bad luck. There’s a feng shui saying, “A purse on the floor is money out the door.” So hang your bags from the closet rod using S-hooks instead.

Lacking a closet? If your walls are less than five feet apart, you can install a tension rod between them. Or choose a decorative wall shelf with hooks.

No matter how you hang them, do a purse purge first to avoid creating a handbag jungle. Keep that oversized bag you only pull out for special occasions tucked out of the way.

#3 Create a Charging Station

While you might charge your primary smartphone overnight by your bedside, creating a charging station in your entryway can save valuable time, especially if you have a work phone or use the kids’ tablets for car rides. When they’re always charging in the same spot, you won’t waste time in the morning hunting down chargers.

Assemble tech storage using assigned baskets with neatly-organized cords, or go big with a built-in. At organization blog “A Bowl Full of Lemons,” a cabinet with plugs inside was installed in the mudroom to serve as a neat home for laptops, tablets, and smartphones, which all charge up inside.

#4 Install an Information Station

Papers can be pernicious devils, accumulating in ugly piles, blocking surfaces, and creating stress. Cut off the problem at its head with an information station, starting with a customized paper organizer on the wall.

“We had an extreme amount of clutter,” says Aniko Levai, the blogger behind “Place of My Taste.” As part of a grand entryway remodel, she created a wall organizer to keep papers and small items out of the way.

The process is simple enough for even the newest DIYer. Levai created the organizer by combining painted wood, fabric, a few small hooks, and a $15 wall magazine rack from Ikea.

But not all paper needs to be saved, and mail-sorting procrastination is the stuff cluttered entryways are made of. Setting up your recycling center near your entryway — in the closet or a free corner — can turn paper sorting into a quick, easy to-do task every time you walk in the door.

If you have the space, add a shredder into the mix or add a whiteboard for reminders.

#5 Add Lots of Shoe Storage

Step into any big box home store and you’ll find two dozen shoe storage options, from stackable organizers to hanging canvas cubbies. The perfect option for you is a matter of taste and space, but let’s be serious: However many shoe cubbies you think your family should need, the truth is probably three times that amount. That’s why we’re partial to this clever solution from Sara Davis, who transformed an old wooden mail sorter — found at a local antique shop — into a gorgeous, 45-slot shoe cubby.

While antique mail sorters may not be available everywhere, you can create your own by converting a bookshelf or cabinet, bundling cut PVC piping into handmade cubbies, or buying a large shoe cubby. Davis’ solution is perfect for her long, thin mudroom, which is 17 feet long, but only five feet wide.

“It’s hard to miss, so it’s a great reminder for the kids to take off their shoes,” Davis says.

#6 Assign Lockers

Industrial-style decor is in — take advantage of the trend in your entryway by installing lockers. (Yes, we mean the aluminum models your kids use at school.)

While not ideal for a super-small entryway, lockers can instantly triple your storage space if you have the room, as each one has hooks on three surfaces, as well as shelving. Even better, install short tension rods and use S-hooks for even more hanging storage.

And they provide plenty of room for creative decoration. You can paint them to match a variety of decor.

#7 Make a Station for Wet, Muddy Footwear

Your entryway is always one of the first victims of nasty weather. Is it a rainy autumn? Say hello to a puddle of dirty leaves. Winter? Snow boots can leave the entire room soaking and soiled.

Weather-safe storage solutions can be the key difference between an unorganized mess and a pristine entryway. The biggest culprit is shoes. While a mat can go a long way toward preserving the cleanliness of your entrance, you’ll need to develop a plan for storing boots — without them dripping everywhere.

Try this DIY solution: Line the bottom of a chest with a mud tray, and then fill the tray with a layer of river rocks. The rocks allow the water to drain away from the soggy boots so they’ll be ready to use the next morning — and the whole process is hidden away inside the chest.

Source: "7 Genius Entryway Storage Ideas to Get You Out the Door Faster"

 

Displaying blog entries 1-4 of 4

©2017 BHH Affiliates, LLC. An independently owned and operated franchisee of BHH Affiliates, LLC. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices symbol are registered service marks of HomeServices of America, Inc.® Information is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed. This is not a solicitation if you are currently working with a real estate broker. Equal Housing Opportunity