Posted by JoAnn M. Drabble on 10/9/2018

Doing a home improvement or renovation is a great way to add value to your home while learning something new. If you decide to DIY, you can enlist the help of your family and learn together.

But, when you’re taking on a task you’ve never done before, there’s a lot that can go wrong. You might go over budget, or the project might take significantly longer than expected. Sometimes we start jobs that we don’t have the expertise (or permits) to finish and have to call in a professional sinking more time and money into what was supposed to be an inexpensive renovation.

To help you avoid some of these common pitfalls, we’ve provided these tips for running a successful home improvement project so you can focus on your renovation and not on the headaches that come with it.

1. Know when to call the experts

Undertaking a do-it-yourself project can be fun and rewarding. However, some tasks are better left to the professionals. Plumbing and electrical mistakes, in particular, can be dangerous and costly if you get it wrong. You don’t want to disregard the safety of you, your family, and your belongings just to save money on hiring a professional.

2. Call the best expert for the job

Call multiple professionals for a quote before accepting an offer.

If you received what seems a very low quote for a job, make sure to call other experts in the industry to see how much they would charge for the job. Getting an unusually low offer could be a sign that the contractor will rush the project or use cheap materials.

Alternatively, if you receive a quote that seems too high, the contractor may have a busy schedule or might not really want the job, so they’ve offered you a price they don’t expect you to take.

Regardless of who you choose, see if you can find reviews and testimonials to make sure you’ve selected a contractor who is professional and has good customer feedback.

3. Aim high with your budget

When homeowners take on a renovation, they tend to underestimate the costs. To avoid being shocked by going over budget, estimate what you think the total costs would be and then at another twenty percent. That twenty percent could account for damaged building materials, mistakes, or last-minute changes and customizations--all are frequent on DIY projects.

4. Don’t work without a design or blueprint

Even for simple home improvement projects, it’s best to start out with a plan. Having detailed measurements and drawings to refer to will help you avoid costly mistakes. We’ve all felt the temptation to “eyeball it” when working on a project--taking the extra few minutes to measure and refer to your plan will save you time in the long run.

5. Relax and focus on the results

Home improvement projects can be a source of frustration for many families. If you aren’t an expert, it’s easy to get angry when things aren’t going as you planned. If you find yourself frequently hitting a wall-literally or figuratively--step back from the project and refocus on the end goal, improving your home for years to come.

Categories: Home improvement   renovation   DIY  

Posted by JoAnn M. Drabble on 9/5/2018


Savvy homeowners are always on the lookout for ways to boost their property's resale value. If you're not living in your forever home and plan to sell in the future, a renovation can make a big impact on your home's worth.

While the thrill of buying a fixer-upper might appeal to some folks, the reality is that taking on lengthy, backbreaking projects—like overhauling the kitchen or bathroom—is not everyone's cup of tea.

“People buying may not have the greatest imagination, and they want to walk into something that’s turnkey,” says Sandy Scheinman, a real estate salesperson at Douglas Elliman Real Estate in New York City. “In a competitive market, offering a home that looks renovated and new is really what you need to do to compete.”

Paint a room

Approximate price: $200 to $400
Project duration: One day

Updating walls with a neutral color like a white or warm gray won’t cost much and gives the home a fresh feel. Painting a room or rooms yourself can cost you less than $200. All you need are paint and supplies.

If you hire a painter, it’s a good idea to do more than one room, so you get more bang for your buck, recommends Laura Sears of Laura Sears Interiors in Canton, GA.

Hiring a painter for one room will cost around $400; expect to pay more if you need extra work done such as drywall repair.

Make sure the color you choose for the walls is neutral and not a polarizing color. Eggplant might be your favorite paint color, but it might affect prospective home buyers' ability to envision themselves in your home.

Crown molding

Approximate price: $300 to $500 per room
Project duration: A few days

Crown molding is a small flourish that will improve a room's look and could lead to a better sale price, according to Richard McMurray, owner of DFW Crown Moulding in Fort Worth, TX.

This finish, typically made of wood, can be added to the top edge of walls, door frames, or cabinets to add a distinctive, classy look. Painting, prep, and installation won't take more than a few days, so you don't have to commit a lot of time to this renovation project.

“This renovation increases value by setting the home apart from other comparable homes in the area,” says McMurray.

Crown molding can also be used to cover problem areas on walls and around windows and doors.

Bathroom makeover

Approximate price: $35,000 to $65,000-plus
Project duration: Three weeks to three months (depending on inspections)

Bathrooms were once small rooms that served a family’s basic needs—and that was about it. Now, bathrooms are a home’s grand showcase.

Tiny, prewar bathrooms are a turnoff for today’s buyers, according to Liza Nematnejad, a real estate agent at Douglas Elliman Real Estate in New York City. People want large bathrooms with a soaking tub and natural light.

“We’re seeing a trend where people are expanding the size of the bathrooms and having his-and-her showers. It’s more of a room than what it was in the past,” Nematnejad says.

Extra bells and whistles like heated floors or a whirlpool bath may give you an advantage in a red-hot real estate market, but remember to keep an eye on your budget and other homes you’re competing against. In other words, don’t invest $100,000 in a bathroom renovation when homes in your neighborhood go for only $200,000.

If you want to update your bathroom but don’t have a large budget, Sears says, you can invest in smaller upgrades. Some buyer-pleasing ideas include replacing a linoleum floor with tiles, painting the vanity, installing a new sink and faucet, and putting in new lights.

Kitchen renovation

Approximate price: $65,000 to $100,000-plus
Project duration: Six weeks to three months

Believe it or not, kitchens were once secondary for buyers. Beautiful, spacious living rooms and dining rooms were what buyers coveted. Kitchens were simply a place to cook.

Scheinman says homeowners now see kitchens as another living area. They’re a place to entertain, and eat-in kitchens are popular with buyers.

Nematnejad says high-end appliances, marble countertops, and even wine rooms are kitchen amenities that are likely to pay off. Across the board, home buyers are going to be impressed by plenty of counter space and shelving.

Robert LaFleur, owner of Building Professionals, Inc. in Westford, MA, says a major kitchen remodel can usually recoup about 65% of costs. So, even though you might pay $75,000 for a major kitchen renovation, you will make back a lot of that on the sale of the home.

“The more you put into [a kitchen renovation], the higher the resale cost recouped percentage is going to be,” says LaFleur.

Categories: Uncategorized  

Posted by JoAnn M. Drabble on 7/4/2017

When a loved one needs a bit more help to get around the house, whether they have simple physical limitations or rely on the use of a wheelchair, you’re going to need to make some major changes both inside and outside the home. You may be overwhelmed with the idea that you need to overhaul your entire home in order to make suitable accommodations. The good news is that you can boost safety around the property and make your home easier for you or loved ones to get around without huge renovation projects that will take months at a time. Below, you’ll find some of the most important projects that will need to be completed in order to make a home handicap accessible as well as safe and healthy.

Check The Doorways

If wheelchair use is part of the accommodation, you’ll need to check the width of the doorways. Some doorways may need to be modified in order for wheelchairs to move freely about the home. Widening doorways can cost anywhere between $500-$1,000 to complete depending on where the throughway is in the home. 

Adjust The Showers

The safest way to make a shower handicap accessible to is make it a walk in tub or a wheelchair accessible tub. Depending upon the extent of the accommodations that are needed, you can go a cheaper route and install a bench seat in an existing shower. Hand rails can also be added to the tub for extra safety.

Think Of The Entire Bathroom

The simple addition of grab bars can make a big difference in the safety of a bathroom. Make sure that the bars are installed in easy to reach places. Also any supplies that are needed in the bathroom like soaps, shampoos, and toothpaste should be easy to reach. A toilet riser can also be considered to help people who have issues bending down in order to make the toilet easier to use. 

Don’t Forget The Kitchen     

The kitchen should be a place where accommodations for handicap individuals are definitely present. First, all supplies should be easy to reach. Next, appliances should be adjusted accordingly. Grab bars should also be installed in the kitchen to make safety a priority and accessibility easy.

Install Ramps

Whether or not a disabled person uses a wheelchair, installing a ramp can make a huge difference in the home for a disabled individual. Converting stairways to ramps actually isn’t as expensive as you might think it would be, with costs starting at just $100 for a basic ramp. Custom ramps can run a bit more expensive- as much as $1,000. These make it easier for disabled people to get in and out of the home or around the inside of the home with ease. The total cost can vary based on the size of the ramp and the type of materials being used.

Mind The Floors

To make a home handicap accessible, thick carpets should be removed. Any types of flooring that make it hard to maneuver a wheelchair or walker should be modified.

Categories: Uncategorized  

JoAnn M. Drabble