Selling Your Home? Home Improvement Projects to Avoid

Many homeowners each year make the mistake of thinking that any home improvement project is a good one in terms of adding value to their home. Unfortunately, this is simply not true. There are some home improvement projects you can take on which will not improve the value of your home in terms of the money you spend on the project and there are even other home improvement projects which can detract from the value of your home. If you think you may sell your home at some point in the future, it is imperative to make sure you know which home improvement projects to tackle and which ones to avoid.

The first thing to keep in mind when considering any home improvement project is that you do not want to outdo the neighbors. While the old adage of keeping up with the Joneses is certainly true to a degree, you do not want to exceed them. A home that is largely out of the price range of its neighbors is usually going to be more difficult to sell than a home that is in keeping with the rest of the neighborhood.

Two of the biggest mistakes you can make on home improvement projects is spending money on highly individualized projects and technological advancements. Avoid spending money on items such as saunas and steam baths. Such improvements might add to the value of your property but if the buyers viewing your home are not interested in these items you may find it more difficult to sell the property.

The same is also true for swimming pools. Many homeowners make the grave mistake of believing that a pool with add to the value and desirability of their home. This is definitely not true. Many buyers, especially those with small children, avoid homes with pools. Even if a buyer does not have small children they may be concerned about the maintenance issues that go along with having a swimming pool. The simple fact is that homes with pools generally tend to take longer to sell than homes that do not have a pool. If you are considering adding a pool to your home make sure you are doing it for the right reasons, because you will enjoy it, and not because you want to improve the value of your home. Otherwise, the addition of a pool should be avoided.

In addition, it is imperative to avoid spending a lot of money on technological advancements which will usually quickly become outdated. This is a waste of money that will usually not net you a large return.

Ideally, it is usually the simplest things which will bring you the highest rate of return in terms of home improvement projects. Simple projects such as ensuring your home has a fresh coat of paint or improving your landscaping can add a lot of value to your home and make it more desirable. Never underestimate the power of curb appeal; particularly in homes that are considered to be luxury properties.

This has become increasingly popular today when more buyers are beginning their property search on the Internet. Statistics indicate that some 80% of buyers actually begin looking for properties online. A photograph is truly worth more than a thousand words in these circumstances. If your home lacks curb appeal this could mean that it will the house that languishes on the market for months while other homes with more curb appeal sell much faster.

There are certainly some areas in which it makes more financial sense to focus your money if you are considering selling your home. Staging is one of them. Studies indicate that homes which have been professionally staged are selling faster and for more money than homes that have not been professionally staged. Luxury homes may even be able to sell for up to 20% more with staging than homes that are not staged.

You should also keep in mind the features that are most popular in homes right now. Kitchens and master bedrooms continue to rank high in importance with most buyers. Buyers are looking for master bedrooms which can serve as sanctuaries and have features such as vaulted ceilings and fireplaces.

The main key is to make sure that regardless of what types of home improvement projects you take on, you do not go too far. There is definitely something to the old cliché ‘too much of a good thing’ and that is certainly true in the case of home improvement projects.

Getting the Correct Home Improvement Contractor

When one decides to begin renovating your home or one of your rental properties, it is essential that you are able to choose the correct home improvement contractor for the job. Taking the time to actually select a qualified and reliable home improvement contractor could very well save you a load of time and frustration in the long run, let alone money.

You should be aware that this industry is very competitive and this leads to there being numerous substandard contractors out there who are simply in it for the money, however there definitely are very scrupulous and have a good work ethic. Here are a few pointers as to what you should look at to be sure that you are able to find a reliable home improvement contractor:

· Be sure of your goal and know what you want – Before you even consider entering into home improvements, be sure to know exactly what it is that you want to achieve by doing the improvements. Have detailed sketches or plans available to show to the contractor you are considering so that he has a definite picture of what it is which you would like done.

· Know what questions to ask – Having predetermined questions which you will ask the contractor regarding the job at hand as this will give you an indication as to their work ethic. Questions pertaining to cost implications, time period and suggestions as to how to reduce costs will greatly help you in choosing the correct contractor.

· Do not rush your selection – Many people make the mistake of simply choosing the first or cheapest contractor, avoid this mistake. Take your time to establish the reputation and reliability of the contractor which you choose, be sure that you both have a clear understanding of what it is you wish to achieve and have all the necessary agreements in place.

Many people overlook the importance of finding the correct home improvement contractor for the job you wish to get done, by simply shirking the responsibility of being completely thorough in your decision, you will be lining yourself up for a couple of nasty surprises.

Home Improvement – The Top 10 Home Improvement Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

Although a major home improvement can prove to be a rewarding project, it can also turn your life upside down if you are not prepared. I’ve heard of some worst case scenarios involving people who have lost their homes because they got in over their heads and others who ended up with incomplete project nightmares that cost them thousands of dollars to correct.

Following is a list of the top ten mistakes homeowners make when undertaking home improvement projects and tips on how to avoid them:

1. References. Do enough research and background checking to satisfy you. Walk away if the contractor is not willing to provide references from former clients. Do an online search of the contractor’s business and personal name. Check with local courts for judgments filed against them and with the Better Business Bureau for any consumer complaints. Look at previous work completed (in person). Check with material suppliers since a good contractor will have a long-standing relationship with suppliers. Contact other contractors who have worked with them before. Check their credit standing – contractors with bad credit are often disorganized and don’t manage their business well. Inquire about insurance, workers compensation and licensing.

2. Project management. You need one person to help you manage your project. Most issues occur when inexperienced homeowners try to manage their own project. A project manager is a single point of contact between the homeowner and other contractors and is responsible for scheduling and workflow.

3. Contracts. Make sure your contract is solid. As obvious as this may sound, failure to get a contract or signing an incomplete contract is one of the most common mistakes. Put all the details in writing – never take someone’s word for it. Following are items that should be included in the contract: (1) the full name of the company and the person you are doing business with and their contact information, (2) an addendum consisting of the complete set of plans, (3) an addendum consisting of the materials to be used, (4) the price of the goods or services, (5) the manner and terms of payment, (6) a description of the work to be performed, (7) a start date and an estimated completion date, (8) a default clause in the event either party defaults that specifies how damages will be calculated, (9) warranties and (10) signatures.

4. Warranties. Make sure you receive a warranty with detailed terms and conditions. Don’t accept a contract that simply states that all work is guaranteed. There is often confusion as to who is responsible for the warranty. Get the following in writing: (1) Who is backing the warranty? (2) What is covered and what is not covered? (3) How long is the warranty valid for? (4) What can void the warranty? (5) What is the process for placing a warranty claim?

5. Changes. During the project, you may change your mind on certain design aspects which may require more or less work from contractors. It is critical to document every change order and note the exact cost or savings. Changes should be signed and dated by all parties.

6. Plans. Get a clear description on what will be done, how it will be done and the materials to be used. For smaller projects, contractors can draw up plans. For larger and more complicated projects, find a qualified designer or architect. And, for example, if load-bearing walls will be altered, find an engineer to review the structural side of the plans.

7. Costs. Estimating costs tends to be a big problem because people do not make realistic comparisons. Homeowners may hire the contractor with the lowest price but that price may turn out to be much higher in the end. “Allowance items” tend to be the main culprit in estimating costs. For example, contractors may give you allowances for flooring, lighting or hardware that are artificially low. The bid looks enticing until you examine it closely. Request a line item for straight costs on materials and labor since some contractors mark up materials and labor so they can make a profit on it. Ask the contractor to pass along costs to you and to add a line item for their fee. This creates a more clear and honest assessment of the job.

8. Financing and payments. Before signing the contract, figure out how you are going to pay for your home improvement project. Make sure you maintain control of the money – don’t let your project manager or contractor control the money. This sounds obvious but many homeowners allow contractors to make draws on construction accounts only to realize that the draws were not used for the intended purpose. What does this mean? It means your contractor scored a new truck, you’re out of money and the project is incomplete. Tips: (1) don’t pay a lot of money up front, (2) pay when materials are delivered, (3) pay when work begins and (4) pay as work progresses. Pay only after work and materials are inspected and approved.

9. Inspections. Don’t wait until your home improvement project is almost complete to do the inspection. Plan phased inspections along the way so work doesn’t need to be re-done. Don’t rely on city and county building inspectors to protect you since the codes they enforce don’t guarantee quality (and they often miss things too!). Before paying for work, hire an independent inspector to do periodic phase inspections.

10. Materials. Stick with products that are tried and true. This rule especially holds true when it comes to windows, doors, framing materials, roofing products, concrete coverings, epoxy floors, plumbing, light fixtures and electronics. You don’t want to be the guinea pig that test runs the supposed latest and greatest new products or materials only to find out that these items don’t last or turn out to be fire hazards!