Boston Area Home Improvements: No Regrets?

Statistics show nearly 75% of homeowners took on do-it-yourself (DIY) Boston area home improvements in the past three years. According to a recent survey from Zillow Digs, 40% of them regretted that decision. It’s an age-old question: Should you hire a professional remodeler or do a project yourself? Getting the job done right the first time by somebody who knows how to do it can spare regrets later. Here’s a list of the most and least regretted DYI projects.

Boston Area Home Improvements – “To DIY or Not DIY”

Boston area home improvements continue strong

Adding or expanding a room was the biggest DIY regret among those surveyed. Over half of those responding said they were unhappy with the results of their DIY project. Most of that work was done to bathrooms or bedrooms. Smaller DIY projects such as replacing cabinet hardware or lighting fixtures fared better. Less than 20% of respondents said they regretted doing that work themselves.

Of course, saving money is one of the main reasons homeowners take on DIY projects. However, almost 25% of homeowners said they went over budget on their project. Larger renovations often went over budget, but smaller projects like painting or replacing plumbing fixtures were easier to keep within budget. One advantage a professional remodeler has over the average homeowner is knowing the materials needed to do the job. The professional can usually buy the materials at wholesale prices because he’s a contractor or preferred customer of the home improvement supplier. In addition, the professional generally has all the tools necessary to perform the work. Most homeowners have only the basic tools and may have to buy or rent the tools they need. That can cause the price of the DIY job to get out of hand quickly.

Zillow Digs home design experts say DIY tips and videos make some Boston area home improvements seem easier than they really are. For larger projects it’s usually best to hire a professional. Many renovation or remodeling jobs require skills and experience the average person probably doesn’t have. Hiring a qualified professional can help homeowners avoid costly mistakes, added stress and regrets.

The Zillow Digs survey included responses from homeowners across the U.S. Here are the results of the survey:

The 5 Most Regretted DIY Projects:
Add or expand a room (such as a bathroom or bedroom)
Refinish the kitchen or bathroom cabinets
Refinish the attic or the basement
Replace the carpeting
Refinish or install hardwood floors

The 5 Least Regretted DYI Projects:
Replace lighting fixtures
Replace cabinet hardware (in the kitchen or bathroom)
Paint one or more rooms
Install new kitchen appliances
Replace plumbing fixtures (the toilet, bath or sink)

For more information on Boston area home improvements, see the Boston Real Estate Categories to your right. We also post on Facebook and Twitter, be sure to follow us there as well.

Boston Area Home Improvements Include Painting

If you’re a homeowner, you probably already know that a remodeler’s best friend is paint. Painting is relatively easy, it’s cheap and it can make a big difference in the appearance of your home. Therefore, it should be at the top of your Boston area home improvements checklist. Here are a few tips and tricks to help your next paint job go smoother than ever.

Boston Area Home Improvements: Painting Tips

Try these ideas on for size –– and convenience!
Use a lint remover to clean dust, fuzz, or other debris particles from a paint roller.

There’s no need to ever clean another paint tray. Simply line it with aluminum foil or a small plastic bag, pour your paint in, and remove and dispose when finished.

If you’re doing more painting the next day, don’t clean your roller or brush. Wrap it with aluminum foil, make sure it’s air tight, and put it in the refrigerator. It should last for days.

If you have an old roller, you can salvage it and use it again by trimming the ends with scissors.

Hate the smell of paint? Mix a little vanilla extract in it.

If your masking tape has hardened, put it in a microwave for thirty seconds and it will soften up.

Keep paint cans clean by wiping your brush on a rubber band stretched across the top of the open can.

When it’s time to clean up, put your brush in a pot with a little vinegar and heat it up on the stove. Even a stiff brush will come clean more easily. However, this works on latex-based paints only.

For more information on Boston area home improvements see the other real estate related categories to the right. To keep you better informed, we also post daily on Twitter and Facebook.

Boston Area Home Improvements – Seriously Solar

When it comes to Boston area home improvements, going solar probably isn’t your first thought. Adding solar panels to an existing home sounds to some like an idea that will never see the light of day. However, it may be time to seriously consider going solar — a new day is dawning.

Boston Area Home Improvements: Let the Sun Shine

When it comes to Boston area home improvements, solar panels are probably not on your list

From 2013 to 2014 solar powered homes increased by 30%. Greater growth is expected through 2016 and beyond. In fact, California recently became the first state to generate over 5% of its electricity from utility-scale solar power.

The reasons solar panels should be considered among the top Boston area home improvements are many. Saving money on your home’s electric bill is one. Increasing the value of your home is another. For many, becoming a part of the movement to decrease our carbon footprints is an even bigger incentive. It is estimated that in just 20 years a home powered by solar energy can offset tons of carbon dioxide from the Earth’s atmosphere.

One of the biggest challenges solar energy faces are the commonly-held misconceptions of many homeowners. Let’s address a few.

Solar panels are unaffordable.
Experts say the cost of solar panels has reduced dramatically. Ten years ago the average cost for solar panels on a home’s roof was $43,000. Today the cost is roughly $29,000. In addition, there are renewable energy tax credits available for homeowners who use solar energy. Plus, if you install solar panels on your home, you can claim a 30% rebate. That could give new interest in adding solar energy to your list of home improvements. Still need convincing? There are solar panel leasing options available.

In bad weather, solar panels are useless.
This is a common misconception. The truth is that solar panels operate off of ultraviolet light which is present even on cloudy days. Case in point: Germany leads the world in solar energy implementation despite enduring harsh winters with minimal sunlight.

Solar panels require constant maintenance.
On the contrary, rooftop solar panels need minimal maintenance. Manufacturers recommend you clean the panels with a water hose once a year. Normal rainfall will usually suffice. The only other suggestion is to make sure there isn’t excessive debris such as pine straw or leaves that may block the panels from doing their job.

If you’re ready to look into solar for one of your desired home improvements consider this: not all roofs are able to accommodate solar panels. Contact a roofing contractor trained and certified in photovoltaic (solar panel) work by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners. And do your homework. Ask for references you can contact.

If everything checks out, you may just enjoy the solar energy advantages resulting from your Boston area home improvements wish list. That’s guaranteed to give you a sunny disposition!

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Boston Area Home Improvement Tips for the Holidays

Boston area home improvement projects can be inexpensive, fun and timely — especially now as the holiday season approaches. You can give your home a minor makeover just in time for the first waves of guests or family you may plan to entertain. Let’s look at a few simple “spruce-ups” that will make the holidays even more festive.

Easy Boston Area Home Improvement Ideas

An easy Boston area home improvement could be to paint, re-finish, or replace your front door.

The best welcome starts at your front door. You can make a tired and worn out front entry door look warm and inviting. Replacing or repainting it can really change your home’s appearance. Adding a festive wreath with a colorful bow is a nice touch. Pay attention to your landscaping. Often it’s the first thing a visitor sees from the road. Enhance your home’s curb appeal by trimming hedges, pruning trees, raking leaves and edging around flower beds.

Cosmetics for your powder room. One of the least expensive Boston area home improvement jobs you can perform is giving your bathroom a little facelift. Replace old cabinet or vanity hardware. Add a new mirror, lighting or upgrade your faucet. Even adding new towels and accessories will give a tired bathroom new life. For a little more money you can replace your toilet with a new, more efficient water-saving model.

Paint the town… or, at least, a room or accent wall. Nothing makes a dull, dingy-looking wall look better than a fresh coat of paint. Sometimes just painting one or two accent walls in a room is all that’s needed. Use an off-white, neutral color. An interior latex eggshell or flat paint will mask minor irregularities or blemishes better than glossy paint. Best of all, this is one Boston area home improvement task you and your spouse can complete in a few hours over a weekend.

Cut through the clutter and clean up the mess. We all have “those places” in our homes that just seem to be magnets for clutter. Whether it’s a drawer, a table or a home office desk, it doesn’t take long for clutter to accumulate. Go through each piece and make a decision to either keep and file, or throw it away. With a little focus and determination, the clutter will disappear before your eyes in no time. Don’t forget to vacuum up the dust bunnies. Once you’ve eliminated the trouble spots, take time to deep clean your carpets or area rugs.

Clean light fixtures, replace old bulbs and brighten up your day. Light fixtures and lamps are notorious for collecting dust. Give your fixtures a good cleaning with a little soap and water. And while you’re at it, replace old lightbulbs with newer energy-saving bulbs. Your home will look brighter and more inviting to guests. And after all, isn’t that one of the reasons you began your holiday Boston area home improvement plan in the first place?

We have more tips for all you Boston area home improvement projects under our Boston Home Improvements section just below our Boston Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.

Remember, we also post daily on our Facebook Page, and over at Twitter. We’d love you to check us out there too.

Boston Area Home Improvement: Fueled by Refi’s?

Many Boston area home improvement projects are taking shape thanks to rising home values. There’s probably no greater investment opportunity over the long run than the growth in real estate equity. As a result, many homeowners are taking advantage of the opportunity to use that equity to fund home improvements by refinancing their mortgages.

Why is the Boston Area Home Improvement Market Booming?

The Boston area home improvement market is booming, and here is the reason...

Financial analysts report refi’s increased 68% in the second quarter of 2015 compared to 2014, the highest volume since 2010. Insiders say this is due in part to homeowners being able to access their equity more easily — and more inexpensively — and they are capitalizing on their home’s appreciation while values are higher and interest rates remain low.

One major beneficiary of the equity refinancing phenomenon is the Boston area home improvement market. Increased home prices — along with the threat of rising interest rates — coupled with fewer homes available for sale, has made more homeowners content to stay put in their existing homes. And, when potential home buyers do this they tend to tackle previously-shelved remodeling projects.

Boston area home improvement contractors have enjoyed good business so far in 2015. Remodeling projects have been revived by homeowners flush with new-found equity turned into available cash. In addition, industry insiders predict remodelers will see a 10% or more increase next year.

It’s estimated that homeowners have gained nearly $1 trillion in home equity during the past year, averaging roughly $65,000 on a cash-out refinance. And, experts say, that’s more than enough to undertake a number of Boston area home improvement projects ranging from room additions to kitchen upgrades and most everything in between.

When homeowners are less likely to move due to the availability of new or comparable homes they often elect to perform improvements previously on the back burner. Luxuries such as backyard patios, outdoor kitchens, decks and patios and even swimming pools are within financial reach to many by way of equity gained from refinancing. While the dollar amount is significant, it still represents a lower loan-to-value ratio (LTV) of, on average, 68% — much less than of a decade ago. What this means is, homeowners are in a more grounded equity position than that of their peers during the most recent housing crisis, where many borrowers were “upside down” in their LTV ratios.

Find more tips related to Boston area home improvement projects by checking our other articles in the Boston Home Improvements section under Boston Real Estate Categories to your right. And remember, we post tips daily on Twitter and Facebook. Check us out there as well.