As the excitement of the holidays wind down, we find ourselves at the point of making resolutions for the coming year. And, while ideas such as eating healthy, exercising and losing weight tend to be at the forefront of our minds, let us not forget to also set goals as homeowners. Having a plan for the year ahead can help you optimize your finances, save you money and ensure your home is well-maintained. Here are a few areas to focus on:
Examine Your Finances
Once you have established how much money is coming in, you can concentrate on where it is going out. In aspiring to be debt free, see if you can find a way to maximize your mortgage. Evaluate your property tax, assessed value and homeowner insurance. If you have questions about these, talk to a professional and educate yourself about options.
Save Yourself Cash
If you are considering home updates this year, do your research and set a budget. Knowing how much you have to work with will help you to prioritize and not overspend.
Maintain Your Home & Value
Create a maintenance schedule for the year and include items like changing CO2 batteries, replacing furnace filters, winterizing sprinklers and planning deep cleans. In addition, create a punch list of things that need to be fixed and stop putting them off. Separate those that you can do yourself from those that will require a professional.
Once you have a plan in place be sure and stick to it, and you are guaranteed to enjoy a happy home in 2018.
WINTER PREPARATION FOR YOUR HOME
With the early onset of winter weather, it seems an appropriate time revisit some home maintenance tasks. Though we go through these changes every year, sometimes it is nice to have a reminder of what needs to be examined before the temperatures changes too dramatically.
First off, since our heating systems are about to get a lot more use (if they are not already), let’s be sure everything is in good working order. If you have a gas or oil furnace system, have someone come out to inspect it to be sure everything is in good working order. And don’t forget to check those air filters. If you use electric heaters, keep the area around these clear, thus avoiding potential fire hazards. For those with a wood stove, have a chimney sweep come out and do a thorough clean. It is recommended to do this annually, before the cold season if possible.
Other areas of note: examine your insulation, particularly if you have an attic, and feel for spots where cold air may be leaking through. Changing out insulation now will help you heat your home more efficiently all winter long. Weather stripping may also need to be replaced to keep cold air from seeping in around doors and windows.
Outside your home, make sure that hose bibs are covered up and hoses stored away for the season. Gutters should also be cleaned out, especially after all the leaves that have been falling off trees recently. And speaking of trees, take a look around the house and note any branches that could cause problems under heavy snow or wind conditions. Better to take preventative measures than have problems later on down the road.
Finally, stock up on emergency supplies such as first aid, flashlights, batteries, blankets, water and extra food. For those of you living in the higher elevations, such as Buck Mountain, this is extremely important. We have already had our first winter warning on Orcas, so don’t delay in checking these items off your To-Do-List. A prepared home is a happy home.
John Dunning, Designated Broker/Owner
Most people think home-renovation projects will always add value to a home, but this isn’t necessarily true. According to Scott McGillivray, host of the HGTV series Income Property and author of How to Add Value to Your Home, these 7 renovations should never be done…
1. DO NOT expand your master bedroom if that means eliminating another bedroom. Small master bedrooms are a common complaint, particularly in older homes. But in many cases, the only realistic way to expand a master bedroom is to sacrifice one of the home’s other bedrooms, which is likely to be a costly mistake. Fewer bedrooms equals fewer potential buyers.
2. DO NOT convert a garage into living space. Finishing a garage can seem like a cost-effective way to enlarge a home-it is significantly less expensive than having an addition built from scratch. Trouble is, many buyers will not even look at properties that do not have garages.
3. DO NOT add artistic flourishes or personal touches to the home itself. The smart way to add art and/or personality to a home is to hang art on its walls, not to alter the home in ways that can’t be easily undone when it is time to sell, such as a mural painted on a wall or ceiling, a large masonry fountain in the yard, or a mosaic artwork incorporated into the tile in the kitchen or bathroom. Buyers want a home to be a blank slate for them to fill, not a reflection of a prior owner’s tastes.
4. DO NOT paint interior walls dark colors. Dark interior walls have become a trend – decorators will tell you that they can make rooms feel cozy and ¬elegant. But many home buyers think “small and unwelcoming” when they walk into a dark-walled room. Light-colored walls might not be trendy, but they make spaces feel larger and friendlier, which buyers value more than -stylishness.
5. DO NOT attempt do-it-yourself home repairs if the result will look like ¬do-it-yourself repairs. Home owners who have the skills to do basic home repairs can save themselves thousands of dollars over the years. But when home buyers (or home inspectors) see evidence of do-it-yourself work, they often start to worry about what else the home owner might have done on his/her own that isn’t so evident-such as electrical and -plumbing work or foundation work-and whether this work was done properly. Potential buyers feel much more confident when it appears that a home has been professionally maintained.
6. DO NOT texture interior walls and ceilings. Drywall compound can add texture to interior walls and ceilings, resulting in a stucco look. This textured look goes in and out of style and might not be in vogue when you sell.
7. DO NOT install a chain-link fence in your front yard. These look low-end and unwelcoming, giving potential buyers a negative first impression of your home. If you must have a fence, it’s worth paying extra for wood (or composite or vinyl fence designed to look like wood). These can cost twice as much as chain link, but they will not reduce the value of the home – a nice wood picket fence could even increase the value.
Posted in Porch.com by Porch.com
Written by Peter Kim
A brand-new roof is a massive investment, but no other element of your home is quite as valuable. While the average lifespan of a roof is about 15 years, careful homeowners have a few ways to extend the life of their homes without enduring too many headaches. Take a look at these three quick maintenance tips that will make your roof last.
1. Keep Your Gutters Clear
Most people don’t think of their gutters as part of their roof, but allowing debris to accumulate and clog your gutters adds extra weight and pulls away at your roof’s fascia, which can be a costly fix. Look down the length of your roof for any signs of sagging or bending – that’s a sure sign your gutters are carrying too much weight and pulling at your roof. Downspouts should also be carefully maintained, but don’t be fooled by easy-flowing water. Moss and algae buildup on and around your roof can slowly eat away at your roofing material and severely compromise its integrity.
2. Focus On The Attic
The exterior of your roof isn’t the only area you should be focused on. Your attic is your roof’s first line of defense against damage and you have two methods of attack: insulation and ventilation.
Insulating your attic has the double benefit of keeping your home’s internal temperature at a more reasonable level while also preventing vapor and moisture buildup on the underside of your roof. When combined with proper ventilation (which may mean adding a fan to your attic), your attic can stay dry and keep your roof’s rafters safe from moisture damage.
3. Catch Problems Early
Check on your roof regularly, whether it’s with every change of the season or after a significant storm. Catching small issues early on can only save you money in the long run, so utilizing the services of a reliable, professional roofer is an invaluable asset. As with any working professional, it’s a good idea to establish a working relationship with a roofer and even consider scheduling a yearly checkup for your roof just to make sure there aren’t any problems sneaking up on you. After all, spending a little each year to maintain your roof is a lot better than dropping $15,000-$50,000 on a new one, right?
How long should they last?
Posted in Living by Tara Sharp
Nothing in life lasts forever – and the same can be said for your home. From the roof to the furnace, every component of your home has a life span, so it’s a good idea to know approximately how many years of service you can expect from them. This information can help when buying or selling your home, budgeting for improvements, and deciding between repairing or replacing when problems arise.
According to a National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)study, the average life expectancy of some home components has decreased over the past few decades. (This might explain why you’re on your third washing machine while Grandma still has the same indestructible model you remember from childhood.) But the good news is the life span of many other items has actually increased in recent years.
Here’s a look at the average life spans of some common home components (courtesy of NAHB).
Appliances. Of all home components, appliances have the widest variation in life spans. These are averages for all brands and models, and may represent the point which replacing is more cost-effective than repairing. Among major appliances, gas ranges have the longest life expectancy, at about 15 years. Electric ranges, standard-size refrigerators, and clothes dryers last about 13 years, while garbage disposals grind away for about 10 years. Dishwashers, microwave ovens, and mini-refrigerators can all be expected to last about nine years. For furnaces, expect a life span of about 15 years for electric, 18 for gas, and 20 for oil-burning models. Central air-conditioning systems generally beat the heat for 10 to 15 years.
Kitchen & Bath. Countertops of wood, tile, and natural stone will last a lifetime, while cultured marble will last about 20 years. The life span of laminate countertops depends greatly on use and can be 20 years or longer. Kitchen faucets generally last about 15 years. An enamel-coated steel sink will last five to 10 years; stainless will last at least 30 years; and slate, granite, soapstone, and copper should endure 100 years or longer. Toilets, on average, can serve at least 50 years (parts such as the flush assembly and seat will likely need replacing), and bathroom faucets tend to last about 20 years.
Flooring. Natural flooring materials provide longevity as well as beauty: Wood, marble, slate, and granite should all last 100 years or longer, and tile, 74 to 100 years. Laminate products will survive 15 to 25 years, linoleum about 25 years, and vinyl should endure for about 50 years. Carpet will last eight to 10 years on average, depending on use and maintenance.
Siding, Roofing, Windows. Brick siding normally lasts 100 years or longer, aluminum siding about 80 years, and stucco about 25 years. The life span of wood siding varies dramatically – anywhere from 10 to 100 years – depending on the climate and level of maintenance. For roofs, slate or tile will last about 50 years, wood shingles can endure 25 to 30 years, metal will last about 25 years, and asphalts got you covered for about 20 years. Unclad wood windows will last 30 years or longer, aluminum will last 15 to 20 years, and vinyl windows should keep their seals for 15 to 20 years.
Of course, none of these averages matter if you have a roof that was improperly installed or a dishwasher that was a lemon right off the assembly line. In these cases, early replacement may be the best choice. Conversely, many household components will last longer than you need them to, as we often replace fully functional items for cosmetic reasons, out of a desire for more modern features, or as a part of a quest to be more energy efficient.
Are extended warranties warranted?
Extended warranties, also known as service contracts or service agreements, are sold for all types of household items, from appliances to electronics. They cover service calls and repairs for a specified time beyond the manufacturer’s standard warranty. Essentially, warranty providers (manufacturers, retailers, and outside companies) are betting that a product will be problem-free in the first years of operation, while the consumer who purchases a warranty is betting against reliability.
Warranty providers make a lot of money on extended warranties, and Consumers Union, which publishesConsumer Reports, advises against purchasing them. You will have to consider whether the cost is worth it to you; for some, it brings a much needed peace of mind when making such a large purchase. Also, consider if it the cost outweighs the value of the item; in some cases it may be less expensive to just replace a broken appliance than pay for insurance or a warranty.