Estimating Home Improvement Projects

More and more homeowners are turning to home improvement to transform their New York homes to ideally fit the needs of the family, realize their dreams of luxury and style, make everyday life a whole lot more convenient, boost property value, or just any other reasons. One of the most crucial factors when jumping into the bandwagon is the right budget. The more accurate the estimate, the closer you are to achieving project success. To get to this, here are essential things to know about estimating home improvement projects ideal whether you are in Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, Brooklyn or Staten Island.

Estimating your planned home improvement project is a crucial task that should be taken carefully. Falling short on budget can cause grave issues such as an incomplete project, an inferior result, or financial instability that can lead to debts that can easily snowball into other problems.

If you haven’t done anything similar to the home improvement you have in mind, then getting an estimate would be the best way to start your project. This would get you a good idea on how much the entire project would cost thus helping you get financially prepared and preventing a busted budget. Just as no two houses are exactly the same; your specifications would vary with that of others even for the same project. There are a lot of factors that affect the overall cost and asking around for other homeowners who have had done something similar would be the roughest assessment you can get.

When estimating home improvement projects, the easiest and fastest way to get one is through using an online remodeling calculator from any renovation and home improvement or contractor website. But the closest and most accurate estimate you can get is one from a reputable professional or contractor company.

There are various factors that will affect your home improvement project estimate and these are:

Scope of the Project – this includes the size of the room or rooms that you plan on improving. What materials and supplies you want to integrate into the project. How you envision the project finish and what are the methods and steps to take to achieve the specific look, feel and functionality.

Labor Trends and Regional Pricing – fact is, remodeling costs will differ depending on the state that you are in. This proves true for both contractor fee as well as material costs.

Labor Fees – There are choices when it comes to managing home improvement projects and this includes: managing it yourself, getting a general contractor or hiring a project manager part-time or full time. Each option has its pros and cons and deciding on which depends on your experience, preference, budget and availability. Aside from the labor trends in different states, other factors that will affect contractor fee are specialization/s, experience, skills and even how well established and well-reputed the contractor or company is in the industry.

One of the greatest tips when undergoing home improvement projects is to allot a budget that is more than that of the estimated amount. By allowing flexibility in your finances, unexpected expenses that may arise throughout the project (which are not uncommon), can be accommodated efficiently before the problem balloons. If you have to save, then choose to do so in a smart way. Cut costs without sacrificing quality and you can do this by buying materials on sale and scheduling work at off-peak seasons.

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Four Great Tips for Your Home Improvement Project

You probably have tons of ideas swimming around in your head about how to improve the look of your house, but what’s the best way to go about the remodeling or redecoration project? You may believe you have the best advice available just by watching shows on HGTV, but how aware are you about what a remodel entails? You’ve been told myth after myth about it, so which ideas do you throw out and which do you believe? Here are four great pieces of advice to ground you while you move forward with your next big project.

Ask for Help

Unfortunately, many homeowners take on huge remodeling projects and suffer the stress and financial strain that comes from classic cases of “Do It Yourself Syndrome.” We know: you think you can do it yourself. What’s worse is you think you can do the entire thing yourself! However, it’s important to take a step back and consider your own capabilities. Maybe you are gifted and talented at doing the siding yourself, but you truly don’t know how to hang a door. Know when to ask for help when you hit a wall, whether literally or figuratively.

Don’t Follow Fads

You don’t have to follow the latest home improvement trends and, in fact, you should take new fads with a grain of salt. Please don’t feel you have to use mixed materials to “look industrial” or “rugged” or “shabby chic.” Instead, go with your personal preferences and what will work for your family’s needs. Trends come and go, and many phase out in remarkably short amounts of time. But committing to one with a home remodel can affect your home’s resale value at a later date. Avoid major trends and instead stick to classic, traditional looks that have timeless appeal in order to ensure that your home appears beautiful no matter how many years pass.

Stick to Functional Fixtures

Although new innovations often come side by side with major trends, many of them add functionality to the structures in your home and are great choices when you want to improve your home’s fixtures. For example, the new models of curb-less showers are convenient and beautiful. Electric sockets that take USB ports called are another item today’s household can make use of for a family’s electronics. Innovations like these add convenience to any home.

Don’t Forget Curb Appeal

You may have heard it said that interior home improvements are the most important. After all, you’ll be spending the majority of your time inside your house using the fixtures and features you’ve purchased. However, don’t underestimate the importance of curb appeal. Consider your roofing, siding, gutters, decks, and awnings, as these are items that can make a big difference if the purpose of your remodel is to sell your property later.

Hopefully, keeping this advice in mind will help you to focus on the parts of your remodeling project that are truly the most important.

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Home Improvement – The Green Way

Today, people are more environmentally conscious than ever. They make sure that what they eat, drive, and even build is all sustainable and friendly to the environment. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the biggest green trends happening in the home improvement industry.

Eco-friendly Flooring

More and more homeowners are making the switch to environmentally safe flooring. Some popular forms of green flooring are bamboo, cork, sustainable hardwood, and recycled linoleum. Not only are these flooring options eco-friendly, but they are also stylish and affordable. Some things to keep in mind when purchasing sustainable hardwood: make sure it is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and that it is harvested from a local source in order to reduce energy expenditure.

Solar Energy

Solar power is somewhat like the poster-child of green building. It’s been around for quite some time now and is one of the highest impact green building elements today. It can even pay for itself over a span of several years. Yes, you will be paying a lot upfront for the panels themselves and installation, but your electric bills will be reduced drastically and save you more money in the long-term.

Natural Cotton Insulation

Natural cotton insulation is actually just a fancy term for recycled denim. That’s right, denim jeans are now diverted from piling up in the landfill and are actually being used to regulate temperature in your home. The huge bonus with denim insulation is that there is literally zero waste when producing it and it doesn’t contain any chemical irritants like its traditional counterpart. Another bonus to having any sort of insulation in your home is that it keeps the heating and cooling bills down by keeping your home at a relatively constant temperature.

Other Exterior Green Building

There are two major outdoor renovations that many homeowners may overlook when thinking about making their home more eco-friendly. Both your home’s fence and garage door are potentially two big items that can be damaging to the environment. Massive amounts of wood or steel are used for both of these structures, leading to deforestation and large amounts of energy expended. Try instead to use recycled wood or bamboo on your fence, and use reclaimed wood garage doors as well.

There are many agencies and organizations out there to help you get more educated on what you can do to go green with your next project. Some good ones are the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).

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Home Improvement Trends

From cabinets to floors, home improvement efforts have not stopped, even in the current economic downturn. If you are thinking of improving something around your space, consider these hot trends in the industry.

Bathrooms

Bathrooms are quickly becoming the hottest trend in home improvement. Homeowners are no longer viewing these as simply a functional space. They are now turning them into a quiet oasis, where a soak in the tub is not just time to get clean, but also time to rejuvenate the senses and refocus for another day. Clean lines, uncluttered space, and comfortable pieces are the hottest trends for bathrooms.

Outdoor Spaces

As the property market continues to struggle, more and more property owners are putting money into improving their outdoor space. Doing so helps ensure that the house looks as good as possible when they decide to sell. This curb appeal can make or break a potential sale. As an added bonus, the property’s owner has a beautiful space in which to live while still owning the house.

Renovating Small Kitchens

People with small kitchens are often known to expand their space by knocking down walls and incorporating dining rooms into kitchen space. However, some are opting to make the best use out of what they have through revitalizing their small space, incorporating vertical storage to add functionality, and adding fishing touches to make it look modern without adding physical space.

Focusing on the Environment

Environmental friendliness is becoming a household term, and this is showing up in home improvement efforts time and time again. From using renewable resources for the actual materials to choosing the most energy efficient appliances for the house, homeowners are making more responsible choices when they redo areas of their properties. Even windows and doors are becoming the target of remodels, as people are replacing drafty windows with energy efficient options. By focusing on energy efficiency, not only are they improving things for future generations, but they are also ensuring that their current energy bills will be lower.

Wood Flooring

Today’s homeowners are opting out of carpeting and choosing wood or laminate flooring for their homes. This is helping to improve indoor air quality for families who suffer from allergies, and it also helps improve property values. When the time comes to sell the house, potential buyers will be pleased to see lovely wood or wood-like flooring, rather than carpeting that they will want to replace or professionally clean.

Unusual Materials

For those who are planning to stay in their homes, unusual materials are becoming more and more prevalent in home improvement. Bamboo or metal cabinetry, for example, is becoming common in today’s markets. Sometimes these unusual materials can detract from a future sale, but for those with no intention to put their house on the market, they can add a touch of class and drama to your living space.

Lots of Color

White is out, and color is in! If you are thinking about painting, make sure you embrace this trend! Choose a color that you love, and add it to your home improvement plans. If it is too much for the whole room, consider an accent wall or furniture piece in a brilliant, bold color. With today’s trends, your living space does not have to be boring!

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Doing a Home Improvement Project Yourself-Yes or No?

After you have defined your home improvement project, the thought of doing the project by yourself or with a “HANDY” friend or neighbor may cross your mind. DO-IT-YOURSELF projects are a popular trend in the Home Improvement Industry. However, before you put on your tool belt, you should look at all aspects of your project and ask yourself the following 10 questions.

1) Do you have reliable work habits? Do you tend to stress out easily, lose your temper, or become confused under pressure? Will you have the patience and persistence to complete the project in a timely fashion? What will happen if it is not completed in a timely fashion?

2) What will you do if your project goes awry? Remember most contractors are wary about completing and/or redoing someone else’s mistakes, including yours.

3) Are you attempting to do the project yourself for financial reasons? If so, have you looked at the entire cost, including the cost of materials, your time, and the tools you may need to purchase, and then possibly never use again?

4) What happens if you make a mistake and have to spend more time and effort to correct it? How much money are you really going to save then?

5) Do you know all the construction steps involved in the project? For most projects this is not the time to be using an installation manual.

6) How many projects of this type have you done? I hope at least 1 project.

7) Do you have the skills to complete this project? For most projects this is not the time for on-the-job training.

8) Is it safe for you to do the project? Some projects can cause serious injury or be fatal if proper precautions are not taken.

9) Are you familiar with the local building codes and permit requirements? If you do not follow the building code you may be forced to tear down the project and rebuild it to meet the proper code specifications.

10) Do you have the time to do the project?

If your answers to these 10 questions still leave you feeling comfortable about doing your project, than I would say go ahead! However, if time is of the essence, it normally takes a “Do-it-yourself” project longer to complete because most people are not familiar with all the “nuances” that one would learn from doing the project more than once. Think long and hard about doing a project yourself, especially if it is a large project. Large projects require more time and effort and are usually best left to a professional.

Hank Jaworowski has been a Nationally Certified Remodeler (CR) through the National Association of The Remodeling Industry (NARI) since 1994. Mr. Jaworowski has been actively involved in the home improvement industry for nearly 30 years. He was the past president of Contemporary Home Remodeling Corp from 1978-2003.

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