7 Must-Follow Tips for Starting a House Renovation

Before you start your next renovation project, take note of these tips homeowners wish they had known or done before they started remodeling.

You know you want to renovate your house but don’t know where to start, right? Well, you’re not alone. Many homeowners dive into planning a home renovation with no clue of what to expect. It’s only after they suffer through renovation mishaps that they regret not having a plan. Without preparation, the home renovation process can be full of disappointments because, unlike building a new house, you aren’t starting with a blank slate. There can be unforeseen expenses and issues that make the process complex. So before you go down the twists and turns of the renovation path, here are seven things you must know about where to start with renovating a house.

1. Invest in a Key Lockbox

painted brick exterior of midcentury-modern home with wood front doors
ANTHONY MASTERSON

If you’re renovating your home before moving into it and live far away, consider investing in a key lockbox. You’ll need to hire a contractor if there are significant projects on your checklist that you can’t do yourself. Remember that contractors start early, so unless you want to drive in morning rush-hour traffic to let workers inside, plan to attach a lockbox or install smart door hardware that allows you to provide entry to guests with a code. It can save you countless hours, gallons of fuel, and painful, early morning wake-up calls.

2. Spend Time in the Space

Living room with bookshelves and large USA map
BRIE WILLIAMS

As obvious as it might seem, it is essential to hold off on some decisions like paint colors, carpet, and light fixtures until you spend time in the space you’re renovating. For example, the choices can be overwhelming if you want to replace dated carpet. Dense or loose fibers? Striated or no pattern? What exact shade of gray? The answers depend on the other aspects of the renovation, like choosing paint colors.

If you select paint palettes before the renovation starts, you still need to see them on walls. Your decisions about colors could change as you spend time in the house. Also, freshly painted walls and new carpet can reveal that existing light fixtures don’t illuminate the space as you thought they would.

If you spend a little more time before painting and recarpeting to consider how everything works together in the room you’re remodeling, you can save several back-to-the-drawing-board moments.

3. Be Realistic About Your Timeline

gray and white master bathroom with double vanity
ANNIE SCHLECHTER

Your renovation will take longer than expected, so be prepared when planning a home renovation and make accommodations to avoid frustration. For example, you might think that replacing a whirlpool tub and outdated double vanity in a bathroom will be quick. Removal of the old fixtures can take a few hours, but locating a new tub and vanity you love can take several weeks. It can be another two weeks before they’re delivered. An expectation of using your new hall bath within a week can turn into a six-week waiting period. Be realistic about the renovation process and timeline, and select your new updates before removing the existing materials.

4. Expect the Unexpected

Kitchen with wooden floors and dark blue cabinets
JAMES NATHAN SCHRODER

All homes hold secrets—in the walls, under the floors, and elsewhere. A renovation can bring those to light.

For example, your contractor tells you your floors are uneven due to a shifted center joist while measuring for your highly anticipated new hardwood floors. You’ll need to deal with the home inspector who missed it and get the floor joist repaired before the new material can go down. This is just one possibility of the unexpected and why you should be planning for extra time during your renovation and extra money into your renovation budget to allow for unanticipated mishaps along the way.

5. Interview Multiple Contractors

blue-gray bathroom with red flowers
ANTHONY MASTERSON

It pays to interview multiple contractors and compare bids. Suppose you want your water heater removed from an upstairs closet and a new one installed in the garage. The first plumber you ask may say he plans to charge $6,000 and would reroute hot water lines, cutting into your living room tray ceiling. The second plumber may find it’s too much work for his schedule. Plumber three plans to finish the job in a day and charge $3,285 with no water line rerouting needed.

You risk paying too much and not getting what you want without interviewing multiple contractors. It pays to do your homework and talk to several experts before making a final decision.

remodeled modern gray, white, and wood kitchen
NATHAN KIRKMAN

6. Renovate Your Kitchen First

Homeowners often want to know in what order they should renovate a house. It’s best to start with the kitchen because these remodels add significant value to your home. According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry’s 2022 remodeling impact report, Realtors estimate that homeowners can recover 75% of the cost of a complete kitchen renovation if they sell their home. Plus, if you have an outdated kitchen, upgrading the worn-out space will let you better enjoy the space while you’re home.

Practically speaking, you’ll want to do the kitchen remodel first because that work will create the most dust and debris, which you won’t want to land on new paint or finish jobs. It’s always a good idea to isolate any demolition mess by putting plastic over doorways or pass-throughs. Since an extensive kitchen remodel typically takes several months, you’ll want to set up a temporary substitute kitchen in your house’s dining room, family room, or another adjacent area.

7. Be Specific About Design Ideas

soft palette living room table
JOHN BESSLER

You’ll want to narrow your design preferences before meeting with an interior designer. Get inspiration from browsing home decorating magazines, interior decorating websites, and design shows. Getting a handle on a design direction will help you avoid being talked into a designer’s personal ideas, which might differ from your vision for the renovation.

Also, keep your designer strictly on your budget. Don’t allow them to purchase expensive materials and charge you for them later. If you try to stay within a specific time frame, your costs will remain low, too.

 

Interested to learn more about Home Improvement? Visit BetterHomes&Garden website to learn more: https://www.bhg.com/

Source&Credits: https://www.bhg.com/home-improvement/advice/planning/read-this-before-you-start-your-home-renovation-281474979547593/


The Best Way To Keep Track of Mortgage Rate Trends

If you’re thinking about buying a home, chances are you’ve got mortgage rates on your mind. You’ve heard about how they impact how much you can afford in your monthly mortgage payment, and you want to make sure you’re factoring that in as you plan your move.

The problem is, with all the headlines in the news about rates lately, it can be a bit overwhelming to sort through. Here’s a quick rundown of what you really need to know.

The Latest on Mortgage Rates

Rates have been volatile – that means they’re bouncing around a bit. And, you may be wondering, why? The answer is complicated because rates are affected by so many factors.

Things like what’s happening in the broader economy and the job market, the current inflation rate, decisions made by the Federal Reserve, and a whole lot more have an impact. Lately, all of those factors have come into play, and it’s caused the volatility we’ve seen. As Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, explains:

“Ongoing inflation deceleration, a slowing economy and even geopolitical uncertainty can contribute to lower mortgage rates. On the other hand, data that signals upside risk to inflation may result in higher rates.”

Professionals Can Help Make Sense of it All

While you could drill down into each of those things to really understand how they impact mortgage rates, that would be a lot of work. And when you’re already busy planning a move, taking on that much reading and research may feel a little overwhelming. Instead of spending your time on that, lean on the pros.

They coach people through market conditions all the time. They’ll focus on giving you a quick summary of any broader trends up or down, what experts say lies ahead, and how all of that impacts you.

Take this chart as an example. It gives you an idea of how mortgage rates impact your monthly payment when you buy a home. Imagine being able to make a payment between $2,500 and $2,600 work for your budget (principal and interest only). The green part in the chart shows payments in that range or lower based on varying mortgage rates (see chart below):

No Caption Received

As you can see, even a small shift in rates can impact the loan amount you can afford if you want to stay within that target budget.

It’s tools and visuals like these that take everything that’s happening and show what it actually means for you. And only a pro has the knowledge and expertise needed to guide you through them.

You don’t need to be an expert on real estate or mortgage rates, you just need to have someone who is, by your side.

Bottom Line

Have questions about what’s going on in the housing market? Connect with a real estate professional to take what’s happening right now and figure out what it really means for you.

 

SOURCE: https://www.keepingcurrentmatters.com/2024/04/23/the-best-way-to-keep-track-of-mortgage-rate-trends/?utm&utm_medium=email&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_tvlMGq9RcDcMzgWGw3E-HMMHlLSQ2Atcuu-je-8jIkZdcW0q_3Kp51GJrrCBJQ88GSn5qysy_zWBA1cxca6i7NuuICiUpXFR3sdCQbKd7VDMSoes&_hsmi=303933647&utm_content=303933647&utm_source=hs_email


10 Energy saving tips during spring

Here are just a few simple things you can do to improve the energy efficiency and comfort of your home as warmer temperatures arrive:

1. Service your air conditioner. Easy maintenance such as routinely replacing or cleaning air filters can lower your cooling system’s energy consumption by up to 15 percent. Also, the first day of spring could serve as a reminder to check your air conditioner’s evaporator coil, which should be cleaned annually to ensure the system is performing at optimal levels.

2. Open windows. Opening windows creates a cross-wise breeze, allowing you to naturally cool your home without switching on air conditioners. This is an ideal tactic in spring when temperatures are mild.

3. Use ceiling fans. Cooling your home with ceiling fans will allow you to raise your thermostat four degrees. This can help lower your electricity bills without sacrificing overall comfort.

4. Cook outside. On warmer spring days, keep the heat out of your home by using an outdoor grill instead of indoor ovens.

5. Install window treatments. Energy efficient window treatments or coverings such as blinds, shades and films can slash heat gain when temperatures rise. These devices not only improve the look of your home but also reduce energy costs.

6. Caulk air leaks. Using low-cost caulk to seal cracks and openings in your home keeps warm air out — and cash in your wallet.

7.  Bring in sunlight. During daylight hours, switch off artificial lights and use windows and skylights to brighten your home.

8. Set the thermostat. On warm days, setting a programmable thermostat to a higher setting when you are not at home can help reduce your energy costs by approximately 10 percent.

9. Seal ducts. Air loss through ducts can lead to high electricity costs, accounting for nearly 30 percent of a cooling system’s energy consumption. Sealing and insulating ducts can go a long way toward lowering your electricity bills.

10.  Switch on bathroom fans. Bathroom fans suck out heat and humidity from your home, improving comfort.

Check out our home cooling and landscaping infographics for more ways to cut energy costs this spring. And visit Energy Saver for additional tips on improving your home’s energy efficiency.

SOURCE/CREDIT: https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/articles/10-energy-saving-tips-spring#:~:text=During%20daylight%20hours%2C%20switch%20off,costs%20by%20approximately%2010%20percent.


Your Guide to Spring Gardening

Spring is an uplifting time of year for many of us as we watch the natural world burst into life. Learn some handy gardening tips on creating blossom displays, pruning and mowing, and the types of flowers and vegetables to plant this season.

 

What to plant in spring

Once the soil is warm enough, you can start planting potatoes and onions and sowing hardy vegetables, including broad beans, cabbages, carrots, radishes, lettuce, rocket and spinach.

March and April are good months to plant perennials, sow hardy annuals such as marigolds, and plant summer-flowering bulbs, including lilies and gladioli. Prepare your beds in late May by removing weeds and digging and raking the soil to a fine tilth.

Want to create more plants for free? As daffodils and other spring bulbs die back, start dividing crowded clumps to spread them out for next year.

Things to do in the garden during spring

Weed and mulch

Rising temperatures accelerate growth in borders and vegetable beds, so it’s important to keep on top of weeds with regular hoeing.

You can also mulch your borders in early spring, provided the soil is moist, to help prevent weeds.

Prune hydrangeas

Prune hydrangeas in March. Look for a set of healthy strong buds and cut the old flower heads back to just above them.

For mature or congested plants, take out some of the older growth to encourage them to reshoot from the base.

Look out for wildlife

Take care not to disturb nesting birds and always check carefully before pruning hedges or shrubs.

When you tidy and cut back winter growth in spring, remember it may be home to insects and amphibians, or even a hibernating hedgehog.

Leave the lawn for pollinators

Join the growing trend of leaving all or parts of your lawn uncut for a few weeks at a time. This will allow clover, daisies and other lawn species to flower, providing nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinating insects.

Volunteers re-potting geranium seedlings into plug trays in the nursery at Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire
Volunteers in the nursery at Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire | © National Trust Images/Mike Hodgson

Container growing

If you have a small garden, patio or terrace, then container growing could be for you. Here are some useful tips to help you make the most of container growing.

Choosing plants for containers

Bulbs and annuals are great for growing in containers because you can replant each year to create new schemes. Herbs such as parsley, basil and thyme will also grow well in pots – place them near your kitchen door for easy access.

Many perennials and even small shrubs and trees will grow in containers, but species choice is important so make sure you do your research before you buy.

Compost and care

Use good-quality peat-free potting compost for temporary displays. For shrubs and perennials, which will stay in the same compost for a while, choose one with soil in it or add your own.

Plants in containers need regular watering, so ask a helpful neighbour to take care of them when you’re away.

Planting small trees for blossom

Even if you have a small garden, you can create an eye-catching blossom display. The key to success is choosing the right size trees or shrubs for the space you’ve got.

You can buy bare-root trees and shrubs between November and March or in containers all year round. It’s best to plant them in autumn or early spring.

Apple blossom in April, in the fruit orchard at Cotehele, Cornwall
Apple blossom in the fruit orchard at Cotehele, Cornwall | © National Trust Images/Ross Hoddinott

Choosing the best blossom tree for your garden

Personal taste, colour and smell are obvious criteria for selecting a blossom tree, but remember to check the plant’s soil preferences and potential height once it’s fully matured. A container shrub will fit into the smallest of spaces, but remember this will need regular feeding and watering.

If you’ve got space for more than one tree, think about how they will complement each other – flowering in sequence or contrasting colours. You may want a tree with multi-season interest or one that produces fruit. Fruit tree blossom is great for pollinating insects.

SOURCE/CREDITS: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/discover/gardening-tips/gardening-tips-for-spring#rt-things-to-do-in-the-garden-during-spring