When it comes to tackling a backyard makeover, there is no time like the present to start planning. Unless you’re planning to build your own deck, one of the first items on your “to-do” list should be hiring a contractor. To help ensure you find the right professional for your project, consider these five often overlooked questions.
5 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Decking Contractor
(Family Features) When it comes to tackling a backyard makeover, there is no time like the present to start planning. Unless you're planning to build your own deck, one of the first items on your "to-do" list should be hiring a contractor.
Quality deck builders can book up quickly and often have waiting lists by early spring. By doing your research in advance, you can ensure a spot in the project queue and have a brand new deck in time to make the most of outdoor living season.
While many questions are obvious, such as costs and timelines, homeowners sometimes overlook other key considerations when vetting contractors. To help ensure you find the right professional for your project, consider these five often overlooked questions:
1. Are you and your company licensed and insured? Make sure the contractor you choose has insurance and the required licenses to obtain permits by calling his or her insurance company for verification. Without such coverage, you could be held accountable for property damage or injuries that occur on your property.
2. How will the permit process be handled? Nearly every deck building project requires a permit. If you build without the necessary permits, you may have issues with paperwork or have to pay a fine when you try to sell your home. Most deck builders handle the permit process but be sure to obtain a copy for your records.
3. What decking materials do you work with? Your deck is a permanent addition to your home that affects its value, so it's important to choose a contractor who is skilled and comfortable working with your preferred material. If you want to build with composite, for instance, Trex Company, a leading brand of wood-alternative decking, has an international network of pre-screened and hand-selected contractors, known as TrexPros, who have completed specialized training in working with high-performance, low-maintenance composite decking.
4. Can you provide references? It's one thing to read online reviews, but to personally speak with a previous customer offers another level of reassurance. Once your preliminary questions have been answered and you feel comfortable with the contractor, take the time to contact a few references to ask questions about the quality of work and overall experience to help ensure you are making a good hiring decision.
5. Do you offer a warranty? Typically, contractor warranties only cover structural damage related to the construction of the deck. Reputable builders should provide a written statement that spells out the type and length of time they will guarantee their workmanship. Be sure to also inquire about any manufacturers' warranties on the products being used. For example, Trex decking is backed by a 25-year limited fade and stain warranty.
Find more information and other common questions at trex.com.SOURCE:
Bathroom and kitchen upgrades are among the most popular home renovations, but not just because the improvements are likely to increase the home’s value. Renovations to these high-use areas can enhance the practical enjoyment of your home while adding aesthetic appeal and style.
Home Upgrades that Really Work
Ideas and inspiration to create more functional spaces
(Family Features) Bathroom and kitchen upgrades are among the most popular home renovations, but not just because the improvements are likely to increase the home’s value. Renovations to these high-use areas can enhance the practical enjoyment of your home while adding aesthetic appeal and style.
A Better Bathroom
Aging and Accessibility
Create a New Kitchen
It’s the hub of the home, so it’s no surprise that many homeowners start with the kitchen when they’re planning functional upgrades. New appliances, countertops and tilework all add to the style and function of a kitchen, but don’t overlook these highly functional features that can make your home more enjoyable.
Find more ideas and inspiration for your kitchen or bathroom upgrade at jcpenney.myhomeprojectcenter.com.
Planning Your Project
Define your desires. Although obvious, many homeowners find this to be among the most challenging aspects of a renovation. Start by determining the scope of your project. It may be just a new tub or shower, or it may be the entire kitchen. Some homeowners find it helpful to consider their project in terms of must-haves and nice-to-haves so it’s easier to make adjustments as obstacles or finances require.
Set a budget. The easiest way to overspend on a renovation is to go into it without an established budget. If you specify what you can afford from the outset and plan against that budget every step of the way, you’re more likely to feel satisfied with your investment in the long run.
Expect the unexpected. If possible, review a blueprint of your home (or have your contractor take a look) to identify details behind the wall, like the layout of the plumbing and electric lines, which can be costly to relocate. It’s also a good idea to take a thorough inventory of your current space so you’re aware of any damage or wear that will need repaired before you begin.
Hire the help (or not). With some preliminary information on the complexity of the job and a better idea of exactly what you’re hoping to accomplish, you should be able to make a decision about whether the project is something you’re prepared to tackle on your own or if hiring professionals is more likely to provide the results you’re seeking.
Monitor progress. Even if you’re handling the project on your own, it’s a good idea to continually monitor the project in terms of budget, timeline and quality of work. It’s easier to make corrections as you go than to get to the end and discover a problem that needs reworking.
Photo Courtesy of Getty images (Main image Kitchen with brown chairs)SOURCE:
JCPenney Home Services
A fresh coat of paint is one of the easiest ways to upgrade your home. Whether you’re revamping a main living area or freshening up your home’s curb appeal, some planning and preparation, plus the right painting tools, can go a long way toward helping you achieve a professional-looking finished project. Execute your paint project flawlessly with these tips and tricks.
Refresh Your Space
5 steps to simplify your next paint project
(Family Features) A fresh coat of paint is one of the easiest ways to upgrade your home. Whether you’re revamping a main living area or freshening up your home’s curb appeal, some planning and preparation, plus the right painting tools, go a long way toward helping you achieve a professional-looking finished project.
Execute your paint project flawlessly with these tips and tricks from Jennie Kitchen, product manager, Valspar Applicators at The Sherwin-Williams Company, Consumer Brands Group:
Step 1: Choose Your Color
Step 2: Pick Your Tools
“The quality of your paint rollers and brushes is just as important as the paint you use,” Kitchen said. “For a smooth finish and easy application, I recommend Valspar’s line of applicators and accessories, which are now available at Lowe’s and work well with all paints and stains. Our quality painting tools make it easy for DIYers to bring their projects to life.”
Step 3: Prep Your Space
Step 4: Apply Your Paint
When you’re ready to roll, start at a corner of the room in a 2-by-4-foot section at the top of the wall. Then roll downward into a narrow V shape, filling in any unpainted areas as you go. Once you are done with the top section, move down and repeat until you’ve reached the baseboard.
If you’re painting standard height ceilings or taller, it’s helpful to use an extension pole. For a seamless finish, it’s important to always keep a wet edge and let the weight of the loaded roller do the work. Some pressure can be applied as the roller cover starts to run out of paint, but if you hear a “sizzling” sound, that means it’s time to reload with more paint. To finish, use the roller and roll straight down all the way across your walls.
Step 5: Clean Up Your Mess
Find more tips and tricks for your next paint project at valsparpaint.com/applicators.SOURCE:
Just as filling your plate with colorful foods is typically good for your body, filling your kitchen with color can be good for the soul. In fact, color is an important element in interior design not only for its aesthetic value, but also because it can shape perceptions and emotions. Consider these design tips, which take into consideration the psychology of some of the most popular colors for the kitchen.
Bring New Life to Your Kitchen with Color
(Family Features) Just as filling your plate with colorful foods is typically good for your body, filling your kitchen with color can be good for the soul. In fact, color is an important element in interior design not only for its aesthetic value, but also because it can shape perceptions and emotions.
“Color is powerful – when you walk into a room, you can instantly feel its subconscious effect on your mood, your heart rate and even your appetite,” said color trend expert Janice Fedak. “That’s why it’s important to choose colors that ‘speak to you,’ express your unique personality and truly make you feel at home.”
The experts at Elmira Stove Works offer these design tips, which take into consideration the psychology of some of the most popular colors for the kitchen.
One way to bring blue into the kitchen is through 1950s-inspired appliances from Elmira Stove Works in Beach Blue, a hue that takes its cue from days spent lazing by the pool or at the seashore. From refrigerators and ranges to microwaves and dishwasher panels, retro appliances can bring a fun, welcoming vibe to kitchens.
“Color – whether bold or on the subtler side – can really make a kitchen come alive,” said Tony Dowling, vice president, Elmira Stove Works. “Appliances are a great way to introduce color while also creating the foundation for the rest of the space.”
“Whatever colors you choose for your kitchen, the most important thing is to trust your intuition and to wrap your kitchen in hues that make you feel good,” Fedak said.
Explore more colorful ideas for your kitchen at elmirastoveworks.com.SOURCE:
Elmira Stove Works
When picking a color for cabinetry, personality and lifestyle are essential considerations. The current styling trend is a marriage of traditional and contemporary finishes, materials and fabrics equating to a classic, timeless design. Beloved white is now making way for trending warmer tones featuring shades of gray, green and blue.
Living in Color
(Family Features) When picking a color for cabinetry, personality and lifestyle are essential considerations. Gray and white cabinets are options for the modern active living lifestyle, whereas green and blue tones may work better for a more eclectic existence.
Whichever way you go, colored cabinetry is more than just a trend: it's a design approach that is here to stay. That's why careful planning is necessary when you set out to redesign the kitchen. After all, this essential living space is an area where you spend plenty of time, so it should feature visual elements and colors you find appealing.
White kitchen cabinets have dominated the market for many years. White cabinetry is constant, safe and classic. However, reports from designers and data on market buying trends are showing a slight shift in painted cabinetry design from classic white to pops of color.
"We know kitchen cabinetry is an ever-evolving dynamic, but we also believe certain trends are more constant and everlasting," said Angela O'Neill, director of marketing and advertising at Wellborn Cabinet. "We trust consumers and we believe they have spoken and have spoken very loudly in regard to painted cabinetry."
The current styling trend, reflected in Wellborn Cabinet's latest colors, is a marriage of traditional and contemporary finishes, materials and fabrics equating to a classic, timeless design. Beloved white is now making way for trending warmer tones featuring shades of gray, green and blue.
A Calming Effect
It All Started with White
Also remember that although it's simple, there's nothing dull about white cabinetry. Embrace the classic white spacious kitchen in your home but take it up a notch with brass lanterns, a round dining table and fabric- covered chairs.
Choose the Right Cabinet Color
Once you've made the decision to add colored cabinets to the kitchen, there's an obvious next question: which color? With so many options to choose from, you may need to answer some basic questions to narrow down the field.
Bold vs. Subtle
All Over vs. Accent
Fit Within the Home
Completing the Design
If you're still having trouble narrowing down your selection, many designers recommend selecting an inspiration piece and designing the rest of the room, including the cabinetry, to complement it.
Find more inspiration and planning tools to create the contemporary kitchen of your dreams at wellborn.com.SOURCE:
Cooking equipment is the top cause of home fires, and the second leading cause of home fire deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Be prepared to fight the small flames by following the below tips to stay safe in the kitchen.
tips(BPT) - Cooking equipment is the top cause of home fires, and the second leading cause of home fire deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
“Considered to be one of the more preventable types of fires, kitchen fires can be avoided by following a few common-sense guidelines,” says Tarsila Wey, director of marketing at First Alert.
“Home safety experts recommend having at least one fire extinguishing product conveniently located in the kitchen, as well as on every level of the home and in the garage.”
Be prepared to fight the small flames by following the below tips to stay safe in the kitchen.
Properly equip your home. Keep your family and house safe by ensuring that functioning smoke alarms are installed throughout your home. The NFPA recommends one alarm on every floor, including the basement, and inside every bedroom. In addition, install smoke alarms at least 10 feet from cooking appliances to minimize false alarms. All alarms should be tested monthly, and for alarms without 10-year batteries, replace the batteries every six months.
Keep an eye on your food. Staying in the kitchen while cooking is key to preventing oven or stovetop fires. Whether you’re simmering, baking, boiling or roasting, check on your food regularly. If you need a reminder that the oven or stove is on, just set a timer. Be aware that fires can happen fast, so if you must leave the kitchen — even for a short period of time — turn off the stove.
Clean your appliances. Keep all your appliances clean of grease and food debris that could potentially cause a fire. Clear the toaster of crumbs and wipe down the stovetop as needed. Ovens should be cleaned at least every three to six months.
Clear off kitchen countertops. Keep your countertops clean and clear of flammable objects. Move items such as pot holders, wooden utensils, plastic bags, food packaging and paper towels away from the stove, oven or any other kitchen device that generates heat.
Be prepared when disaster strikes. Over 70 percent of fire extinguisher owners say that they would not feel very comfortable actually operating one. Providing homeowners with a user-friendly, affordable solution, the First Alert Tundra Fire Extinguishing Spray features a lightweight spray-can design that has no pins or levers — making it easy to use. It can put out common household fires, including cooking oil, fabric, paper, wood and electrical fires. Tundra sprays four times longer than an average fire extinguisher and fits perfectly in your kitchen cabinet. Plus, it won’t damage your stove or countertop; simply wipe the area clean with a damp cloth.
Having the necessary fire safety tools and knowledge, and talking with your family members about these safety precautions, can help prevent potentially fatal kitchen fires. To learn more tips and tricks, visit www.FirstAlert.com.
If the ultimate goal of your home improvement project is aesthetic, the greatest benefit may come from your personal enjoyment of the new space. However, if you’re looking to add true value to your home, it’s important to consider which projects are likely to bring the greatest return on your investment.
Home Improvements with High ROI
(Family Features) If the ultimate goal of your home improvement project is aesthetic, the greatest benefit may come from your personal enjoyment of the new space. However, if you’re looking to add true value to your home, it’s important to consider which projects are likely to bring the greatest return on your investment.
With a variety of styles available, you can find a metal roof to match nearly any home style. For example, CertainTeed Metal Roofing offers profiles crafted to simulate Spanish barrel tile, slate and wood shake. Made from high-performance, deep-drawn steel, these roofing systems offer a lifetime-limited warranty and are engineered with a special multi-layered paint process that resists the elements while offering realistic color details and gradations. Find inspiration and explore a design gallery at CertainTeed.com.
If you’re still uncertain about the right investments for your home, it may be wise to consult a local real estate expert who can provide insight on the features that bring the most value in your market.SOURCE:
To help homeowners with their renovation projects, Marcus by Goldman Sachs(R) is sharing budget-friendly home renovation tips. There are several ways to finance larger projects and it’s important to explore your options to find the one that’s right for you. This article contains five important tips to keep in mind when deciding how to fund your next home project.
(BPT) - Whether it’s transforming a fixer-upper into your dream home or just giving a makeover to your kitchen or bathroom, home improvement projects are on the minds of many new homeowners across the country.
While many things about renovating your home are flexible, your budget might not be. In general, not a single floor board is laid, or a new countertop installed without money, which is why every home renovation project should begin with careful financial planning.
To help homeowners with their renovation projects, Marcus by Goldman Sachs(R) is sharing budget-friendly home renovation tips.
There are several ways to finance larger projects and it’s important to explore your options to find the one that’s right for you. Below are five important tips to keep in mind when deciding how to fund your next home project.
1. Shop around. The better you plan, the better chance you’ll save money. Before anything gets torn out or installed, you should spend time consulting with contractors and getting estimates. Look at the work they’ve done to see if they would be a good fit. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions to make sure you’re working with the right people and paying the right price.
2. Consider financing options. There are several options when financing a home improvement project and it is important to choose the right fit for you. Home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOC) require you to borrow against the value of your home, with home equity loans offering a lump sum while home equity lines of credit provide you with a credit line you can borrow against. An unsecured home improvement loan can be used based on your creditworthiness and ability to pay, not tied to a piece of collateral.
3. Create a budget. Because of the nature of remodels, things often end up costing more than you might think. No matter how big or how small the project, you need to have a solid sense of what your “all in” budget number is. This should not only account for hard and soft costs for things like labor, materials and designers, it should also account for contingency costs. Experts typically recommend budgeting an additional 15 to 20 percent for unexpected scenarios that might arise. A thoughtful budget will help keep your priorities in front of you and prevent you from spending more than you want.
4. Remember, this is an investment! Not all home renovations will pay off in the long term. It’s important to consider cost vs. value before you start making changes, especially for homeowners looking to sell in the near future. If you plan on putting your house on the market sooner rather than later, be sure to keep track of the top home features to get the best return on your investment.
5. Work with a designer. This might sound like a luxury or an added expense, but in many cases, a designer could actually help save money by finding deals or providing suggestions for less expensive alternatives, such as using quartz or white concrete instead of marble. Above all, their expertise can help avoid costly mistakes that can often arise when people try to cut corners on their own.
With these tips, you should be better prepared to finance your home improvement project. When you’re ready to start, you shouldn’t have to wait weeks for a home appraisal to get your renovation project underway. You could see your home improvement loan options from Marcus by Goldman Sachs in as little as five minutes and once approved, most people see the funds in their bank accounts in as little as four days. With Marcus you could be one step closer to your dream home.
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