Posted by Betsy Graziano on 9/17/2018

While some home improvement projects are done purely for aesthetic reasons, window replacement projects offer a wide range of benefits.

If your current windows are decades old, they're probably difficult to clean, provide poor insulation, and get stuck every time you try to raise or lower them.

Old wooden window frames also tend to deteriorate over time, which negatively impacts both their appearance and their ability to seal out drafts and outdoor temperatures.

Modern, energy-efficient windows make older models look like they're straight out of the Stone Age! Many windows manufactured today meet strict U.S. government standards for energy efficiency and durability, which can help you save money on your home energy bills. These new features include multiple panes of glass, which provide improved insulation and impact resistance. Instead of using just plain air, many of these advanced windows are insulated with non-toxic gases, such as argon and krypton. (As long as you're not Superman, you'll do just fine!) If you're willing to pay extra, there's also the option of having mini-blinds inserted between the panes of glass.

Reducing Home Energy Costs

According to the EPA, "Replacing old windows with ENERGY STAR certified windows lowers household energy bills by an average of 12 percent nationwide. Lower energy consumption also reduces greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and shrinks a house's carbon footprint."

Energy Star-certified windows also have special coatings that reflect both infrared and ultraviolet light. That not only helps keep your home cooler in summer and warmer in winter, but it helps stop the sun's rays from fading furniture colors, flooring, and other materials.

Some of the newer windows are available with three or more layers of glass panes, which can help make your home more comfortable and quieter. If external noise is an issue, installing well-insulated windows with multiple panes can reduce that problem significantly.

Although many of the new window products are constructed of wood, they're often covered with vinyl or aluminum to be more weather resistant and durable. Fiberglass is another low-maintenance, durable material that offers good insulation qualities.

Cost Versus Benefits

While a window replacement project can take a big chunk out of your home improvement budget or bank account, it does provide a return on your investment. In addition to the fact that your home energy costs should decrease, installing new, energy-efficient windows will improve your home's marketability in the future. If and when you decide to put your home on the market, the fact that you've installed energy-efficient, easy-to-use window replacements will be a major selling point in the minds of prospective buyers.

As is the case with all home improvement contractors, it's always a good idea to get several estimates and check references, read online reviews, and take a look at Better Business Bureau ratings before choosing someone to handle the project.





Posted by Betsy Graziano on 5/7/2018

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.





Posted by Betsy Graziano on 1/15/2018

If you're a homeowner or are planning to become one in the near future, hiring contractors to maintain and upgrade your home is a fact of life. Although older homes often need more TLC than newer ones, "newness" (like youth) can be a fleeting quality! Time passes quickly, and before you know it, your house needs a fresh coat of paint, landscaping improvements, or even wet basement solutions.

There may be times when you're tempted to accept the first estimate you're given for a home improvement project, but there are sound reasons for taking your time and choosing home contractors carefully and in a methodical way.

  • Saving money: It's not unusual for one home contractor to quote a price that is literally thousands of dollars more than the competition. While, on one hand, very low prices may be a sign of inferior quality, there is no guarantee that high prices assure superior quality. Fortunately, there are plenty of good contractors who charge competitive prices and make it their business to provide customers with exceptional value. If you get references, read online reviews, and make sure your prospective contractor has all the necessary insurance coverages, licenses, and relevant experience, then you'll be ready to make an informed decision based on quality, service, and pricing. Regardless of the caliber of a contractor's work, if you don't get at least two or three estimates, you'll always be wondering if they overcharged you. When you get multiple quotes, you'll never be plagued by that nagging question!
  • Getting helpful ideas: In addition to finding a qualified tradesman with solid expertise, project management skills, and competitive pricing, it also pays to choose one who offers innovative suggestions and creative ideas. By interviewing three contractors, you'll gain insights into their communication style, their overall attitude, and their willingness to provide helpful advice when needed.
  • Personality factors: After meeting with prospective contractors, you'll know which of the three you feel the most comfortable doing business with. Many home improvement projects can easily last between 3 days and a couple weeks, so you'll tend to be a lot more satisfied with a contractor who's courteous, punctual, above the board, friendly, professional, and customer-service oriented. If they seem annoyed with your questions or evasive in their responses, you can be reasonably sure there will be problems down the road in working with them -- possibly even quality assurance issues. If they tend to complain about other customers or berate their competition, then that is also a potential red flag.
Once you've received three project proposals and are able to compare "apples to apples," you're in a good position to choose the right contractor for your needs -- one who takes pride in their work, looks for solutions not problems, and provides a high level of customer value for a good price.





Posted by Betsy Graziano on 12/18/2017

In times of rising temperatures and growing concerns of climate change, many of us are looking for small ways we can make a difference in our everyday lives. What better place to start than your own home?

It can be overwhelming to plan drastic eco-friendly changes to your home. That’s why we’ve broken these tips down room-by-room so that you can make changes in just one area and then build from there. Starting small will help you see your environmentally-minded project through to the finish.

Read on for tips for each room of your home to make your life more eco-friendly.

Bedroom

We’ll start with a small and easy one: the bedroom. Odds are your bedroom isn’t hogging too much power or creating a lot of waste. However, there are a few small changes you can make that will help you save some money while helping out the environment.

If your bedroom tends to get chilly at night, try using insulating curtains to help keep the cool air from slipping in through the windows. Similarly, on hot days close the curtains at peak sunlight hours to keep the bedroom cool. This small change could save you from having to turn up the heat or air conditioner when you enter your room each night.

The next time you clean out your closet, bring your items to a local thrift store or charity drop-off. You can even ask for a receipt which will make your donation tax-deductible. This way your clothes can extend their lives and stay out of a landfill a bit longer, and you’ll be helping out someone who could use the clothing.

Kitchen

Kitchen appliances offer a lot of opportunity for energy and water waste. When shopping for appliances, seek out appliances that meet Energy Star standards.

When it comes to water, forego the plastic bottles and buy a glass or metal refillable water bottle. Tap filters can greatly improve the taste, and you might find after a few days that you don’t even notice the water tasting differently.

Consider composting kitchen scraps in a composting bin. You can later use this for fertilizing plants in your yard and garden. And, finally, be sure you’re recycling all of your empty food and beverage containers.

Living Room

Is your living room your entertainment center? If so, many of your devices, like cable boxes and streaming media devices, might continue running on “standby mode” wasting electricity. To prevent this, simply plug all of your devices into a power strip and turn it off at night.

Bathroom

Start by using refillable hand soap containers rather than buying a new one each time you run out. This will save you a lot of money in the long run and save you trips to the store as well.

If your hot water takes a long time to heat up and you find yourself running the tap often, consider installing a recirculating water pump in your bathroom.

House-wide improvements

To save on electricity throughout the house, make sure you’re using compact fluorescent bulbs and only keeping the lights on when you’re in the room.

When cleaning, try using non-toxic cleaners or making your own from solutions of water, vinegar, and citrus essentials. 





Posted by Betsy Graziano on 11/13/2017

Want to boost your home's value? Completing home improvement projects enables you to do just that, as you can perform these tasks regularly to maximize the value of your residence. So which home improvement projects should you prioritize? Here's a closer look at three important home improvement tasks that every home seller should consider: 1. Painting the walls. Picking up a can of paint and various paint supplies ensures you can revitalize the walls in any room of your home instantly. Over an extended period of time, the paint on your home's walls may start to chip or peel. However, adding a fresh coat or paint (or two) to your residence's walls serves as an inexpensive way to transform bland, unattractive walls into visually appealing ones. Devoting even a few hours to paint the walls of your home can help you boost your home's value. And ultimately, your new paint job may allow you to receive multiple offers at or above your asking price, too. 2. Installing a water filtration system. Does your kitchen have a water filtration system? If not, you could be missing out on a golden opportunity to increase your residence's value. A water filtration system offers multiple benefits, as it ensures a homebuyer won't necessarily have to worry about buying bottled water if he or she purchases your residence. Plus, this system is one of many features that may help differentiate your home from others in a highly competitive real estate market, thus making your residence that much more appealing to homebuyers. Installing a water filtration usually is fast and easy as well. Furthermore, you won't have to worry about breaking your home improvement budget to complete this project. 3. Cleaning up the front lawn. High grass and weeds will damage your home's curb appeal and may significantly reduce your chances of a quick sale. On the other hand, spending some time mowing the lawn, raking leaves and performing other essential front lawn care tasks can deliver long-lasting benefits. A clean front lawn likely is one of the first things a homebuyer will notice about your home. And home sellers who are committed to maintaining a pristine front lawn can improve their home's value and their chances of a quick sale. Also, maintaining your front lawn can be easy if you spend even an hour per day performing yard work. Or for those who want to avoid lawn work altogether, professional landscapers typically are available that can keep your front lawn in great shape until your home sells. As a home seller, you'll want to take the necessary steps to up your home's value before you add your home to the real estate market. And with any of the aforementioned home improvement projects, you'll be better equipped to boost the value of your home quickly and efficiently. Stay focused on increasing your home's value consistently and keeping your residence in excellent shape. By doing so, you'll be able to keep your eyes on the prize – maximizing your home's value and selling your residence to the highest bidder.