8 Home Projects with a High ROI

Posted in Remodeling AdviserUncategorized, by  on August 7, 2017

Image2Article Submitted by Fixr.com

With warmer weather and longer days, summer is the ideal time of year to take on a project in or around your home. Many contractors and other pros often find this time of year a little slower, as many homeowners are waiting until fall to tackle big interior projects, which means that you’ll have an easier time finding the right person for the job.

These eight projects are designed to add value to your home, without breaking the bank at the same time. Tackling them now will make your home more comfortable for the coming months, while ensuring that you can get maximum ROI when the time comes to sell.

 

1. Fix Window Leaks

Air gap around your windows could be driving your air conditioning bill up higher than it needs to be this summer. Old or leaking windows can cause you to lose as much as 20% of the energy you use to heat and cool your home, which can also make it less comfortable as well.

There are two ways to fix window leaks: installing new replacement windows, or installing weatherstripping around your existing windows. While both will help you save money on your energy bills, replacement windows will also help you recoup about 73.9% ROI at time of resale.

Cost: Weatherstripping your windows costs around $168 on average, while replacement windows cost between $650 and $1,500.

Money Saving Tips: Get an energy audit done on your home before you start replacing windows. You may find that only a few need to be replaced, while the rest can be caulked or weatherstripped to save.

2. Basement Remodel

Remodeling your basement is a great way to increase your existing living space, without the hassle or expense of a major addition. Basements are often cooler in the hot summer months than the rest of the home, so remodeling can help you gain more usable living areas during this time of year. A basement remodel featuring things like waterproofing or french drain installations can also recoup you about 70% at time of resale.

Cost: A full basement remodel including a new bathroom can cost around $50,000. However, waterproofing costs around $5,000, while installing a new set of stairs costs around $1,000 to $2,000.

Money Saving Tips: Simply waterproofing your basement will help make the area livable, allowing you to simply paint the concrete walls and floors, and begin furnishing the room for less.

3. Bathroom Remodel

Bathrooms are among the most frequently used rooms in the home. During the humid summer months, older bathrooms can often become home to things like mold and mildew, which makes now the best time to start remodeling. A bathroom remodel, including all new fixtures, shower, and ceramic tile can recoup you around 64.8% at time of resale, while making your home healthier and more functional at the same time.

Cost: A full scale bathroom remodel costs around $18,000. However, there are many components that can be done for less, such as installing a new bathroom fan to help dry out the room for $350 – $400 or putting in a new mirror for $120 – $150.

Money Saving Tips: Cosmetic updates to an otherwise functional bathroom can save you a lot of money. Simply painting the walls or replacing the sink and faucet can give your bathroom a facelift for less.

4. Add Attic Insulation

Another way to help lower energy costs this summer is to add some insulation to your attic. Most homes are underinsulated, particularly in this area, which can contribute to higher energy costs. Insulating your attic will make your home more comfortable, while saving you money on your AC bill this summer. Best of all, attic insulation recoups a whopping 107% at time of resale.

Cost: The cost to insulate an attic is around $400 for fiberglass insulation.

Money Saving Tips: Purchase the highest R-value you can find for your climate, and you’ll save even more on your energy bills year round.

Image35. Build a New Deck

Enjoy more time spent outdoors this summer on a new wood deck. Decks increase your usable outdoor space, make entertaining easier, and have a rate of return at around 71.5%. Start this project early in the summer to make the most of your new space before fall.

Cost: The average cost to build a new deck is around $10,630.

Money Saving Tips: If you have an existing deck, consider having it repaired, rather than replacing it. Often pressure washing and staining a deck, while replacing some of the boards can help extend its life.

6. Replace Your Roof 

After a long winter filled with ice dams, your roof may be in poor condition and in need of replacement. Don’t wait until summer storms send water pouring in through your ceiling; have your roof taken care of at the start of the season to ensure that it’s in good condition for the rain to come. A new roof will help you recoup about 68.8% at time of resale as well.

Cost: The average cost of a roof replacement is around $6,000.

Money Saving Tips: If the majority of your roof is in good condition, you may want to opt for a partial replacement or roof repair to save money.

7. Replace Your Siding 

Siding is just as important as your roof when it comes to both protecting your home from the elements, and to giving it its curb appeal. The nicer weather of the summer makes this the ideal time of year to take care of this important project. Replacing your siding can recoup you as much as 76.4% at time of resale. Replacing your siding can also help you take care of other issues such as rotting fascia, and can improve the appearance of your home at the same time.

Cost: The average cost of replacing your siding is around $7,510 for vinyl siding.

Money Saving Tips: If your siding is in decent condition, consider making repairs to those areas that require it, and painting the entire exterior to give it a fresh look for less.

8. Universal Bathroom Design 

Universal design is one of the newest trends that’s recouping costs in a big way. In many cases, universal design costs less than a complete bathroom remodel, but can make your home easier to sell because it appeals to a wider group of people. Take on the project this summer when plumbers aren’t as busy to get the job done faster. This type of project also recoups about 68.4% at time of resale.

Cost: The average cost of universal bathroom design is around $9,000.

Money Saving Tips: Many things in a universal bathroom can be installed DIY for less, including lever handles on faucets and a universal height toilet.

To find out more about projects you can tackle around your home, be sure to visit the Cost Guides.

Blog Contributor

This post was contributed exclusively for REALTOR® Magazine.

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The Secret to Making Money in Real Estate May Be Buying a Home Near This Grocery Store Chain

By  | Aug 3, 2017

Here’s some food for thought.

Americans who own homes that are closer to a Trader Joe’s grocery store—as opposed to a Whole Foods or ALDI grocery store—saw higher home price appreciation, according to data from released this week from real estate analytics firm ATTOM Data Solutions. The study looked at 1,275 ZIP codes nationwide with a least one Whole Foods store, one Trader Joe’s store and one ALDI store.

Indeed, homeowners nearest to a Trader Joe’s have seen an average 5-year home price appreciation of 67%, compared to 52% appreciation for homeowners near a Whole Foods and 51% near an ALDI. Average appreciation for all ZIP codes with these grocery stores nationwide is 54%.

Plus, homeowners near a Trader Joe’s also have added equity, owning an average 36% equity in their homes ($232,439), compared to homeowners near Whole Foods, who had an average of 31% equity ($187,925) and homeowners near ALDI, who had an average 18% equity ($46,352). The average equity for all ZIP codes with these grocery stores nationwide is 24%.

While it’s not clear why exactly homeowners near a Trader Joe’s are coming out ahead here, it could be that, while Whole Foods tends to put its stores in more established, affluent neighborhoods, Trader Joes might pick trendier, a little-less-established ones, says Eric Zollinger, the director of sales for Manhattan development 196 Orchard, which is being sold by real estate firm Douglas Elliman and has an Equinox in the building. He notes that while established affluent neighborhoods have seen plenty of home price growth, those that are up-and-coming and super trendy sometimes see even faster home price appreciation.

If you’re an investor hoping to flip your home—meaning that you will buy and sell it within a year—however, the calculations may be different. “Properties near an ALDI are an investor’s golden goose with an average gross flipping ROI of 69%, compared to properties near a Whole Foods which had an average gross flipping ROI of 41% and Trader Joe’s at 36%,” the report revealed. “The average gross flipping ROI for all ZIP codes with these grocery stores nationwide is 57 percent.”

Plus, properties near an ALDI had an average gross rental yield of 10%, compared to properties near a Whole Foods with an average gross rental yield of 6% and Trader Joe’s at 5%. The average flipping ROI for all ZIP codes with these grocery stores nationwide is 8 percent.

This story originally appeared on Moneyish.com.

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Inspections And Appraisals in this Hot Real Estate Market

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Our local real estate market continues at the hot pace we’ve been on, although there are signs of inventory increasing with homes beginning to come onto the market at a faster pace than they have recently. That is a good sign in that we may see more balance in the market soon.

As I mentioned previously in this space, the intense competition for listings has impacted the role and effects of both home inspections and appraisals.

Typically, once agreement has been reached between buyer and seller, the buyer will have ten days (could be less, depending on the terms) to conduct a thorough home inspection and respond back to the seller.

These inspections are done for the benefit of the buyer, and generally consist of a licensed inspector taking a thorough look at the home, from the crawlspace to the roof, checking plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling systems, etc. Often, especially with older homes, a sewer scope inspection is also done.

Inspections in any market always constitute a second round of negotiations. Options for the buyer include simply approving the inspection and moving forward to closing, rejecting the inspection and terminating the transaction, or most commonly, asking the seller to make some repairs or concessions. The seller may agree to all repair requests, or agree to some but not all, or to none. Then the ball is back in the buyer’s court. Unless the seller agrees to all requests, the buyer can continue to negotiate, though they have limited time to do so, can agree with the seller, or reject the response and terminate the sale.

Recently we’ve seen some buyers making exorbitant requests to compensate for feeling that they may have overpaid for a home which had lots of competition. This has often caused sales to fail.

Once the parties have agreed on the inspection results, the next step is to order the appraisal.

Appraisals are done primarily for the benefit of the mortgage lender, though they do assure the buyer that the value of the home is appropriate to the sales price. The focus is value, though the appraiser will look for glaring signs of deferred maintenance, such as peeling paint or a bad roof, and may call for those sorts of items to be repaired. These repairs are not negotiable; if the loan is to be approved, the seller MUST do these repairs.

In the case of a home selling at an inflated price, the appraisal value may come in below the agreed upon sales price. In that event, the parties have options. The seller may agree to sell at the reduced price. The buyer may agree to bring additional money to closing, to keep the new loan amount at or below the appraised value. They may dispute the appraisal and ask for a review, or negotiate a compromise. Or the sale may simply fail.

Our current market requires up to date strategies for both buyers and sellers. Develop a plan with your REALTOR®. Be realistic, and you can do well, and have fun in the process!

Help! My Home Isn’t Selling

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You listed your home for sale, but the home isn’t selling! Learn the simple things you can do to sell your home faster with Coldwell Banker real estate agents.

You listed your home for sale with high hopes. You love your property and you felt certain that it would sell in a reasonable amount of time. But it’s been several months since you listed your home.

You’ve had some interests and several showings. You’ve received a few lowball offers. Maybe you’ve even experienced the emotional turmoil of watching a contract fall apart. Regardless of the details, one fact is clear: your property is very much still for sale.

What went wrong? What can you do? Here are 8 effective tips to facilitate a faster sale.

Depersonalize
If your house has been on the market for six weeks or more without so much as a nibble of interest, it’s time to take a hard look at what might be putting buyers off.

If buyers can’t imagine themselves living in a home, they’ll be reluctant to make an offer.

To make your home appealing, pack away all of your family pictures, child artwork, and mementos. Paint your walls a neutral color like beige, cream or white. Pack away any polarizing or controversial pieces of artwork or decor. Depersonalize and try to make your home look like a model home.

Declutter
Buyers like to see clean, wide-open living spaces. If you have physical or visual clutter in the room, you’re sending a message to the buyer that you don’t have enough storage space.

Don’t send that message. Instead, get those moving boxes and start packing. You may not have a contract yet, but if you minimize your possessions and declutter the space, you’ll make the rooms look larger and create the impression of having tons of storage space.

Remove Evidence of Pets
We love our four-legged friends, but their food and water dishes, crates, and even just hair on the carpet can be a big turn-off to buyers who don’t like animals.

If you know that someone is coming to look at your home, put the food dishes away, store the crate in the garage or outside, and make sure to remove all signs of pet fur and dander.

Freshen Up the Space
Don’t let buyers turn up their nose at your home. Smell is the first thing potential buyers notice when they walk into a house.

Clean your home to get rid of any dusty or musty smells. If the weather is nice, open the windows to let your home air out. Install all-natural room fresheners or light scented candles in discreet places like the bathroom closet, laundry room, and garage. Choose a neutral and natural scent, like vanilla, rather than a pungent floral scent.

You could also consider investing an essential oil diffuser to leave running during home showings. Sage, lemon, lavender, and cinnamon are all subtle, relaxing, and inviting scents that help brighten your living space.

Work on Curb Appeal
Some buyers won’t even step into your home if they don’t think the property has curb appeal. Clean the windows and make sure that there are no visible cobwebs. Mow your yard and trim the edges, prune the bushes, plant fresh flowers, and spruce up your shutters by giving them a fresh coat of paint. You may even want to install a new mailbox and outdoor light fixtures.

Consider an Affordable Mini-Renovation
Not everyone likes a fixer-upper. Stained carpets and less than appealing paint colors may look like dollars needed for (and the hassle of) renovation in the buyer’s eyes.

Small renovations may lead to big payoff. Consider painting the walls a neutral color, installing a smart thermostat, replacing hardware and fixtures and other fairly inexpensive changes that will take away the label of a fixer-upper.

Stage Like an Expert
You’ve depersonalized, decluttered, renovated, and worked on curb appeal. Now it’s time to stage your home like a pro.

Place brand new, neatly folded towels and candles in the bathroom. Place a decorative bowl filled with bright red or green apples, lemons, or limes in the kitchen. Fill a clear glass cookie jar with fresh cookies on the kitchen counter.

Ask Your Agent About Pricing
If your home isn’t selling after you’ve done everything above, it’s time to talk to your real estate agent about adjusting the price.

This is where your agent’s knowledge of your market and the amenities of your home come into play. If your home is priced competitively, buyers will feel like they’re getting a great deal. A $5,000-$10,000 reduction may be all it takes to motivate the right buyer.

Make Your Home More Accessible
Make your home available for showings. If you limit your home to pre-scheduled viewings, you’re definitely not going to be able to sell as quickly. If you’re flexible with when you allow buyers to come see your property, you’ll have a better chance of getting more foot traffic and more potential buyers into your home.

Think Home Prices Are High Now? Why They’re Likely to Keep Going Up

2017

Buyers might want to sit down for this: Homes flew off the market like the hottest of hotcakes in the first quarter of the year—causing prices to rise even higher than predicted in many parts of the nation.

The median price of existing single-family homes hit $232,100 in the first quarter of the year, according to a recent quarterly report from the National Association of Realtors®. That’s up 6.9% from a year ago—and is nearly double the 3.9% price growth realtor.com® had forecast for 2017.

The NAR report looked at 178 markets across the nation.There were 1.83 million existing homes for sale in the first three months of the year—down 6.6% from the first quarter of 2016.

“Prices are increasing faster than we expected them to because of the continual shortage of new homes coming onto the market,” says Senior Economist Joseph Kirchner of realtor.com. “People that had been holding back on buying a home … now have good, steady jobs and are less worried about losing their jobs and hence are going into the housing market.”

If the shortage of homes continues, prices could rise 7% to 8% year over year in 2017, he says. Ouch.

That means buyers on a budget “will be able to afford one less bedroom [or need to] accept a house with a longer commute,” Kirchner says.

The first quarter of the year marked the strongest quarterly sales pace in a decade, according to the report.

“Prospective buyers poured into the market,” NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement. “Those able to successfully buy most likely had to outbid others—especially for those in the starter-home market.”

Prices went up in 85% of those metros, which are highly populated areas made up of one or more city cores surrounded by suburban and rural communities. That’s down slightly from 89% in the previous quarter, but 30 metros did see double-digit price hikes in the first three months of 2017.

“Several metro areas with the healthiest job gains in recent years continue to see a large upswing in buyer demand but lack the commensurate ramp up in new home construction,” Yun said. “This is why many of these areas— in particular several parts of the South and West—are seeing unhealthy price appreciation that far exceeds incomes.”

Four of the five most expensive markets were in California. Silicon Valley’s San Jose took the lead, as the median existing single-family home came with a $1,070,000 price tag. The metro was followed by San Francisco, at $815,000; Anaheim, CA, at $750,000; Honolulu, at $746,000; and San Diego, at $564,000.

Overall, the West was also the most expensive housing region. The median price for an existing single-family home was $342,500 in the first quarter of the year. That’s up 8.4% year over year.

Homes weren’t cheap in the Northeast either, at a median $255,000. They were up 2.2% annually.

Prices in the South rose 8.8% year over year, to hit $209,000.

The most affordable region was the Midwest, where buyers could snag a property for a median $176,600. But prices were 5.7% higher annually.

“You can get a much nicer home here than in many places in the country” for quite a bit less, says Lincoln, NE–based Realtor® Ron Herms, of Sellstate Performance Realty. “A lot of other states in the Midwest are going to be similar. … [And] the quality of life in the Midwest is very good.”

The cheapest metros were Youngstown, OH, at $79,200; Cumberland, MD, at $81,800; Decatur, IL, at $86,100; Elmira, NY, at $90,000; and Binghamton, NY, at $91,200.

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These 8 Emerging Design Trends Will Be All the Rage in 2017

 2017

With the start of 2017, we’ve said farewell to some tired interior decor trends that have worn out their welcome. Once considered innovative and edgy, those bad boys are now giving us the blahs.

But, when one trend goes out, another must come in. It’s the design circle of life!

So what’s replacing the old fads with fun, new ideas? Your friends will fawn over these eight trends—from “jungalows” to jewel tones—that promise to hit it big in 2017. Want to be a showoff (the good kind)? Be the first to integrate them into your home.

1. Geometric patterns

Say goodbye to soft, gentle curves—funky geometric patterns will rule the roost in 2017. Embrace your memories of high school math with geometric throw pillowswallpaper, and quirky planters.

“Large, mod geometric designs made an appearance in 2016 and will be a front-runner in 2017,” says Jeffrey Weldler, marketing director with VÄNT Wall Panels.

Scared this fun new style will feel out of place in your old-school home? Don’t be.

“Don’t feel like your home needs to have all modern design in order to add geometric patterns,” Weldler says. “Geometrics even have a place in an industrial farmhouse–style home.”

2. Jewel tones

Traditional Family Room
Traditional Family Room

Photo credit: Houzz
Last year welcomed the bold return of art deco–inspired designs, and with them come luxurious jewel tones. Indulge your regal side with rich emerald chairs, bold sapphire walls, and amethyst accents.

“These colors offer depth and a richness that will make a space feel cozy, yet luxurious,” says designer Liz Toombs.

Pair the designs with neutral, minimal wall colors for a toned-down take on the trend, or go wild and slather your entire living space in vivid color.

3. Cork

Bedroom
Photo by The Neighborhoods of EYA

It’s 2017. Isn’t it time to fully embrace our eco-friendly side? Cork walls are “not only trendy, but also functional,” says Than Merrill, a real estate investor with FortuneBuilders.

Swap out your old chalkboard wall for cork, and pick up some fun pushpins (try fabricflowers, or even teeny rabbits). Keep track of to-do lists, notes, reminders, and your favorite recipes on your cork board (aka the original Pinterest).

Not sure where to put a cork in it? Merrill recommends “livening up dead space” in a home office or kitchen.

4. Tropical influences

Kohler
Photo by Kohler
It’s the year of the “jungalow.” Your new, jewel-toned walls will look fabulous alongside lush tropical plants: spider plants, Dracaena, and gorgeous ferns.

Cursed with the blackest of thumbs? You can still embrace the tropical trend, which “mixes printed and embellished textiles ranging from novelty fruits to animal print to palm fronds,” says textile designer Caroline Cecil. Add accents in bright yellows, deep greens, and earthy oranges and reds to bring this creative look home.

5. Rich blues

Somfy
Photo by Somfy Systems

Pantone’s Color of the Year might be an interesting yellow-green, but its spring trend forecast is “all about the blues,” says Weldler. Dressing your home in shades of sky—from sapphire (another one of those glorious jewel tones) to teals and soft baby blues—has never been so fashionable.

Whether you want to express confidence and strength or calm down after a long day at work, there’s a blue tone perfect for your space. And when those tones are mixed together, it’s the ultimate in relaxation.

6. Wood accents

Bathroom Driftwood Clock
Photo by Agnes Blum
We’re moving away from metal and back to an earthier feel. Wood accents will be everywhere in 2017, says Erika Dalager of home design startup roOomy.

No, we’re not talking about wood paneling (although that’s sneaking its way back, too). Look for modern wood clockssculpturestrays, and furniture that pair perfectly with today’s streamlined aesthetic. And yes, a lot of that wood will be reclaimed—so we can keep our wonderful forests.

7. Black stainless steel

Samsung Black Stainless Steel Appliances
Photo by Appliances Connection
Remodeling your kitchen in 2017? Now’s your chance to get ahead of a trend. Stainless-steel appliances have ruled the kitchen for years now. And why not? They’re sleek, easy to clean, and pretty. But it’s time for a change.

Black stainless steel is sleek, modern, and sophisticated,” says Weldler. And even better: It’s not in all of your friends’ kitchens. “Brushed stainless steel had its time, and now people are looking for a subtle change.”

8. Bold front doors

Kirkland Residence
Photo by Allied8 (formerly Verge AD)

Say adios to plain old black. Get rid of that sad, boring straight-from-the-store wood. If you’re eager to try something bold in 2017, try painting your front door.

“Next year, homeowners should focus on transforming their front door into one that pops,” Merrill says. Try one of those bold blues, or maybe a bright red. Or figure out what you want your door to say about you, and pick a color accordingly.

“An entryway is the perfect place for a homeowner to express him or herself and show off his or her unique personal style,” Merrill says. “If the interior of your home screams ‘cozy beach cottage,’ find a front door that matches the atmosphere.”

And if you hate it? Don’t worry: You can always paint again.

Ready to be a 2017 home trend setter? Let us know on House Talk.

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7 Smart Strategies for Kitchen Remodeling

Tips For Kitchen Remodeling Kitchen Remodeling StrategyImage: KraftMaid/Masco Retail Cabinet Group

Follow these seven strategies to get the most financial gain on your kitchen remodel.

Homeowners spend more money on kitchen remodeling than on any other home improvement project. And with good reason: Kitchens are the hub of home life and a source of pride.

A significant portion of kitchen remodeling costs may be recovered by the value the project brings to your home. A complete kitchen renovation with a national median cost of $60,000 recovers about 67% of the initial project cost at the home’s resale, according to the “2015 Remodeling Impact Report” from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

The project gets a big thumbs-up from homeowners, too. Those polled in the “Report” gave their new kitchen a Joy Score of 9.8 — a rating based on those who said they were happy or satisfied with their remodeling, with 10 being the highest rating and 1 the lowest.

To maximize your return on investment, follow these seven strategies to keep you on budget and help you make smart choices.

1. Plan, Plan, Plan

Planning your kitchen remodel should take more time than the actual construction. If you plan well, the amount of time you’re inconvenienced by construction mayhem will be minimized. Plus, you’re more likely to stay on budget.

How much time should you spend planning? The National Kitchen and Bath Association recommends at least six months. That way, you won’t be tempted to change your mind during construction and create change orders, which will inflate construction costs and hurt your return on investment.

Some tips on planning:

Study your existing kitchen: How wide is the doorway into your kitchen? It’s a common mistake many homeowners make: Buying the extra-large fridge only to find they can’t get it in the doorway. To avoid mistakes like this, create a drawing of your kitchen with measurements for doorways, walkways, counters, etc. And don’t forget height, too.

Think about traffic patterns: Work aisles should be a minimum of 42 inches wide and at least 48 inches wide for households with multiple cooks.

Design with ergonomics in mind: Drawers or pull-out shelves in base cabinets; counter heights that can adjust up or down; a wall oven instead of a range: These are all features that make a kitchen accessible to everyone — and a pleasure to work in.

Plan for the unforeseeable: Even if you’ve planned down to the number of nails you’ll need in your remodel, expect the unexpected. Build in a little leeway for completing the remodel. Want it done by Thanksgiving? Then plan to be done before Halloween.

Choose all your fixtures and materials before starting: Contractors will be able to make more accurate bids, and you’ll lessen the risk of delays because of back orders.

Don’t be afraid to seek help: A professional designer can simplify your kitchen remodel. Pros help make style decisions, foresee potential problems, and schedule contractors. Expect fees around $50 to $150 per hour, or 5% to 15% of the total cost of the project.

2. Keep the Same Footprint

Nothing will drive up the cost of a remodel faster than changing the location of plumbing pipes and electrical outlets, and knocking down walls. This is usually where unforeseen problems occur.

So if possible, keep appliances, water fixtures, and walls in the same location. Not only will you save on demolition and reconstruction costs, you’ll cut the amount of dust and debris your project generates.

3. Get Real About Appliances

It’s easy to get carried away when planning your new kitchen. A six-burner commercial-grade range and luxury-brand refrigerator may make eye-catching centerpieces, but they may not fit your cooking needs or lifestyle.

Appliances are essentially tools used to cook and store food. Your kitchen remodel shouldn’t be about the tools, but the design and functionality of the entire kitchen.

So unless you’re an exceptional cook who cooks a lot, concentrate your dollars on long-term features that add value, such as cabinets and flooring.

Then choose appliances made by trusted brands that have high marks in online reviews and Consumer Reports.

4. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Lighting

Lighting can make a world of difference in a kitchen. It can make it look larger and brighter. And it will help you work safely and efficiently. You should have two different types of lighting in your kitchen:

Task Lighting: Under-cabinet lighting should be on your must-do list, since cabinets create such dark work areas. And since you’re remodeling, there won’t be a better time to hard-wire your lights. (Here’s more about under-cabinet lights.) Plan for at least two fixtures per task area to eliminate shadows. Pendant lights are good for islands and other counters without low cabinets. Recessed lights and track lights work well over sinks and general prep areas with no cabinets overhead.

Ambient lighting: Flush-mounted ceiling fixtures, wall sconces, and track lights create overall lighting in your kitchen. Include dimmer switches to control intensity and mood.

Related: How to Choose the Best Bulb for the Job

5. Be Quality-Conscious

Functionality and durability should be top priorities during kitchen remodeling. Resist low-quality bargains, and choose products that combine low maintenance with long warranty periods. Solid-surface countertops, for instance, may cost a little more, but with the proper care, they’ll look great for a long time.

And if you’re planning on moving soon, products with substantial warranties are a selling advantage.

Related:

6. Add Storage, Not Space

Storage will never go out of style, but if you’re sticking with the same footprint, here are a couple of ideas to add more:

Install cabinets that reach the ceiling: They may cost more — and you might need a stepladder — but you’ll gain valuable storage space for Christmas platters and other once-a-year items. In addition, you won’t have to dust cabinet tops.

Hang it up: Mount small shelving units on unused wall areas and inside cabinet doors; hang stock pots and large skillets on a ceiling-mounted rack; and add hooks to the backs of closet doors for aprons, brooms, and mops.

Related: Storage Options that Pack More Space in Your Kitchen

7. Communicate Clearly With Your Remodelers

Establishing a good rapport with your project manager or construction team is essential for staying on budget. To keep the sweetness in your project:

Drop by the project during work hours: Your presence broadcasts your commitment to quality.

Establish a communication routine: Hang a message board on site where you and the project manager can leave daily communiqués. Give your email address and cell phone number to subs and team leaders.

Set house rules: Be clear about smoking, boom box noise levels, available bathrooms, and appropriate parking.

Be kind: Offer refreshments (a little hospitality can go a long way), give praise when warranted, and resist pestering them with conversation, jokes, and questions when they are working. They’ll work better when refreshed and allowed to concentrate on work.

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All in the Family: Multigenerational Living Makes a Comeback

By  | Aug 2, 2017

It was the cycle that defined American life for decades. People got married, bought a house, and started a family. The kids grew up, left the nest, and didn’t come back. The empty nesters then downsized to a smaller place to enjoy their golden years. Their kids eventually started families of their own, and bought their own homes. And so it went. Instead of the circle of life within a household, it was more like a straight line.

But in recent years, the line has begun curving again. This entrenched societal pattern is becoming upended in favor of a mode of living that harks back to an earlier era.

Fueled by economic and cultural factors, a growing number of people are moving back in with their folks, or opening their homes to their aged parents. It’s a large-scale change making its impact felt in all corners of the real estate market—and American life itself.

Nearly 1 in 5 Americans is now living in a multigenerational household—a household with two or more adult generations, or grandparents living with grandchildren—a level that hasn’t been seen in the U.S. since 1950. About 60.6 million adults, or 19% of the population, were residing with their family in 2014, according to the Pew Research Center’s analysis of census data, up from 57 million in 2012.

Rising home prices, staggering child care expenses, college debt, longer life expectancies, and the growth of ethnic communities in which extended families traditionally live together are all fueling this shift. And as people become accustomed to this style of living, it’s altering the way they buy and build their homes, and how they plan for the future.

Modern homes built for many generations

With buyers seeking homes and renovations to suit multigenerational lifestyles, builders and developers are responding to meet the demand—and a lucrative new market.

While cottages, casitas, and apartments over garages are still part of the picture, so are fully decked-out homes with ample square footage and a separate wing for the extended family. Many of these homes have modern amenities such as dual thermostat controls so the whole family doesn’t have to swelter when Grandma catches a chill.

Tracy Elkins, 39, lives with her husband, their three kids, her mother, and three dogs in one of the Next Gen line of homes from Lennar, the nation’s second-largest homebuilder. In their open and airy 6,100-square-foot home, the in-law suite is no afterthought: It has a separate living room, kitchenette, bedroom, bathroom, laundry, and private garage with a separate entrance. Lennar describes it as “a home within a home.”

The Elkins decided to partner with Tracy’s mother to buy the Thornton, CO, home in August 2016, when the Elkins’ landlord decided to sell their rental home. Tracy’s 63-year-old mom was retired, and the purchase seemed like a logical move.

“Even I have to admit I was a little scared,” Elkins says. “You come to a point where living with your parents is not an easy option. It wasn’t something we had to do, but it worked out really well.”

“As home prices increase, more families tend to opt for living together,” says Valerie Sheets, a Lennar spokesperson. “Everyone is looking for the perfect home for any number of family situations, such as families who opt to take care of aging parents or grandparents at home, or millennials looking to live with their parents while they attend school or save for a down payment.”

Lennar, which builds homes in 19 states, is offering Next Gen homes in 36 key markets. The blueprints vary by market, but they generally offer the main home and an adjacent unit with private living room, bedroom, bath, laundry, and garage.

“It has great benefits. There are some people who can’t live with aging parents in a traditional setup,” Elkins says. “If it wasn’t for this home, I probably wouldn’t want to live with my mother either.”

A big family requires a big kitchen.
A big family requires a big kitchen.Hero Images/Getty Images

Learning to love the extended family

Economics might have forced the issue, but people now are rediscovering the advantages of this way of life, according to Donna Butts, executive director of Generations United, a family research nonprofit and advocacy group. The Great Recession drove a lot of young-adult “boomerang children” back to their parents’ homes when they couldn’t find a job.

“People came together by necessity, and they stayed together by choice,” says Butts. “In many other countries, it’s just a way of life. It helps strengthen the family.”

The percentage of people residing in multigenerational homes peaked around 1950, when 21% of households had such an arrangement. But in raw numbers it amounted to only 32.2 million people—a far cry from today’s 60 million-plus.

Data suggest that multigenerational living is more prevalent among Asian (28%), Hispanic (25%),  and African-American (25%) families, while U.S. whites have fewer multigenerational homes (15%).

Continued demographic shifts in the U.S. mean this trend isn’t going anywhere but up. In Asia and Latin America, multigenerational living is widely accepted. For example, an estimated 30% of urban Indian families and 60% of rural Indian families live in multigenerational households, according to a report by the International Longevity Centre Global Alliance. In the U.S., immigrants from those areas are more likely to live in multigenerational households.

Even immigrants who don’t have relatives living with them full time might need to accommodate long visits from them. Kyung Hae Karen Park sees this among her Korean and Chinese clients, who’ll plunk down a few million on a desirable dwelling.

Park, a real estate agent in New Jersey, caters to luxury buyers with budgets in the seven-figure range. Her clients often have in-laws who will visit for six months at a time from Asia to dote on their grandchildren. Considering where these relatives will stay while they’re in the U.S. is a key purchasing decision for Park’s deep-pocketed clients. Park says private first-floor suites and extra laundry rooms are especially critical to these buyers.

“Asians tend to be more attached to their grandparents and grandchildren,” Park says. “With a house purchase, they always think about their extended family.”

Diversity demands in Houston

Houston-based custom homebuilder Partners in Building sees an expanded definition of what it means to be multigenerational in the sprawling cities of Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and Nashville. Company President and CEO Jim Lemming says he’s seen siblings and other family members buy a house together. It’s increasingly expected that they will help each other out.

“We live in a very diverse area,” Lemming says. “With that comes different aspects of multigenerational living.”

Lemming says he has seen increased interest in these types of homes among South Asian and East Asian buyers. His estimates say multigenerational homes account for as much as 30% of his company’s business.

Multiple kitchens, separate entrances, and more than one master suite are the norm in these dwellings that are priced for close to a million dollars. Lemming also sees demand for amenities that cater to the needs of older people, including elevators and bathrooms with grab bars, taller commodes, and wider doors for wheelchairs or walkers.

Zoning restrictions pose a challenge

Living with extended family members might require some adjustment in how you plan your home—and your future. As builder Mark Pattersonpoints out, a big home meant to accommodate elderly parents might feel too big once they’re gone.

“Your parents are with you for five or 10 years. Then what?” asks Patterson, co-owner of PATCO Construction, which builds custom homes in Maine and New Hampshire.

Years ago, the norm was to put an apartment over a garage, but that might not be a long-term solution for a graying housemate.

“That works well until about 80, but after that, they are having challenges with their stairs,” Patterson says.

One solution is to create a house whose spaces can be adapted over time, he says. However, zoning regulations can be a challenge, he says. Some communities will allow a flexible floor plan, but rules governing the specifics of the finished product can be strict.

Across the nation, there’s a patchwork of local zoning restrictions on granny flats and other accessory dwellings. Some locales are fine with separate wings, but other places draw the line at a stove in an in-law suite. But California, home to some of the country’s most in-demand and expensive markets, passed a pair of laws this year that eased restrictions on building a second unit on a piece of land—a move that could usher in change elsewhere.

Secrets of success in multigenerational living

It’s also helpful to plan out how all these relatives across different generations can cohabit successfully.

Jessica Bruno, 44, has been blogging about her nine years living with four generations under one roof at FourGenerationsOneRoof.com. They all live in her childhood home in a small town about 45 minutes outside of Boston. The home was originally 1,600 square feet, but they expanded it to 6,200 square feet to accommodate more family members.

She says her key to success is a firm set of boundaries before anybody moves in. Agree on how bills are split, groceries are paid for, and who is allowed to eat your food. Lots of fridges and separate TV rooms are big.

“Having your own TV room is pretty important, so you don’t have to go watch ‘Bonanza’ with your grandparents,” Bruno said. “It’s kind of a time warp around here.”

Fro

12 Home Repairs That Are Way Too Risky to Put Off

home-reapairs-dont-delay

Nobody ever cheers at the thought of tackling home repairs. They’re annoying, costly, time-sucking endeavors. So often we put them off, over and over, justifying to ourselves that they can wait. Light switch doesn’t work? Whatever—you never go in that room anyway. Squeaky floors? You’re already used to them!

But there are some home improvement projects that simply can’t wait, lest you risk much bigger problems (and costly expenses) down the line. Here are 12 home repairs experts say you should never put off:

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Watch: 5 Home Repairs That Are Too Dangerous to Delay

1. A leaking roof

If you see water stains on your ceiling or down your walls, get moving on the repair stat—there are a host of problems that can arise and get progressively worse with a leaking roof.

“Not repairing a leak as soon as you notice it can lead to mold, damage to the structure of your home, water damage, and even fire if water comes in contact with electrical wiring,” says Carlos de León, vice president of the León Group, an estate management company on Long Island, NY. Scared yet? Good.

2. Damaged or missing shingles

This one seems obvious, but Derek Perzylo, owner of Big 5 Exteriors in Calgary, Canada, says he regularly encounters homeowners who have never had their roof inspected.

“After a big storm, especially if there’s a lot of gusting wind and hail, it’s always a good idea to visually inspect your roof,” he says. “If you see shingles out of place, or if you see shingles on the ground, you might have some damage that could cause potential problems, like leaks, down the road.”

3. Sagging roof

Roof sagging can be caused by moisture in the attic space, says Joe Todaro, director of operations at Gold Medal Service in East Brunswick, NJ. If left untreated, the structure of the wood will weaken and settle, causing cracks in the exterior walls. Proper ventilation is essential for an attic.

4. Cracks in the foundation

Your home’s foundation may develop small cracks over time, and it’s best to address them to prevent spreading. Otherwise you might have to replace the foundation, which can cost as much as $100,000. Large cracks that go unaddressed can lead to everything from leaking to parts of the concrete collapsing.

“The damage could be life-threatening if your home is not supported properly,” León says.

5. Gas leaks

Silent but deadly
Silent but deadlyBanksPhotos/iStock

Since natural gas and propane are heavier than air, they “pool” in the low points of your home. The second you smell gas (a telltale rotten egg–like smell), call your gas company and vacate the premises until a company worker arrives.

“You risk having an explosion or fire by not doing something about a gas leak immediately,” León says.

6. Plumbing leaks

Leaking water can lead to mold, structural problems, and health issues. Homeowners should check under sinks at least once a year to ensure no water is leaking into the cabinets. If you see any, call a plumber right away.

7. Mold

Is there good mold and bad mold? Not really. When you see it, deal with it. And simply having a “mold remediation” company come in to assess things is not the entire answer, says Jeff Wilson, HGTV host and author of “The Greened House Effect.”

“The reason the mold formed in the first place needs to be sussed out and the problem fixed by a building science professional trained by an organization like Building Performance Institute,” he says.

So just to be clear: While not all molds are life-threatening, all of them—even the ubiquitous shower mold—can potentially make you sick. So it’s best to be aggressive no matter what kind you see.

8. Overtaxed or poor electrical systems

More than 40,000 electrical fires occur each year in the United States. And most of them could have been easily avoided. Some warning signs of faulty electrical work include circuit breakers blowing unexpectedly, lights flickering, and outlets and/or switches being warm or hot to the touch. Not calling an electrician can result in your home catching fire. Got it? Call the electrician.

9. Clogged gutters

Clogged gutters are easy to ignore, but they can cause substantial damage to your home if you don’t make it your business to keep them clean.

The role of gutters and drainpipes is to draw rainfall away from the home. If they’re stopped up, water begins to pool in vulnerable areas. You’ll face a higher risk for wood rot around the fascia and for foundation damage in low, sloped areas around the perimeter of your home.

Homeowners should clean out their gutters twice a year and water test them with a garden hose afterward. Make sure the water travels easily through the gutter system, into the drainpipe, and away from the home’s foundation.

10. Cracked driveways

Most driveways are pitched to direct water away from your foundation. If there are cracks and settling in your driveway, not only are they a tripping hazard, they could also lead to possible water damage in your home.

11. Damaged decks

The No. 1 danger spot with decks is when there’s worn or missing flashing, the thin layer of material that keeps water from getting into places it doesn’t belong. Without flashing, water can get into the ledger board (which connects the deck to the house) and weaken the wood and metal fasteners that hold the deck together. And if a weakened deck is overloaded, it can have expensive—if not deadly—consequences.

12. Clogged dryer vents

Removing the lint from your dryer vent isn’t just one of those things your mama nagged you to do. It could mean the difference between life and death.

“It’s not a big project by any means,” says Aaron Rovner, vice president of business development at ServiceWhale in Trevose, PA. “But if you allow lint and other fabric to sit in a dryer vent, it will ultimately cause an airflow and exhaust backup that will turn into a major fire hazard.”

So you have your work cut out for you. The good news is that you don’t have to do many of these repairs frequently. But when you see warning signs, get going pronto—or risk bigger problems down the road.

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