Monthly Archives: March 2019

The Need for National Guidelines and Testing in the Home Improvement

It is time for Washington to step up and put legislation in place that will force states to better regulate the home improvement industry. Up to now Washington has left the regulation of the home improvement industry up to state regulators, and for whatever reason(s) many states have fallen considerably short.

There are still some states that do not even have contractor licensing in place for home improvements. For some of the states that do have licensing, the license requirements do not include that the applicant demonstrate the ability to do any type of home improvement work. (That is like saying I will issue you a license to cut hair but you don’t have to demonstrate that you know how to cut hair……… ouch!) Then why do states bother issuing licenses if there are no requirements to demonstrate competence? Revenue? Or could it be that they need more consumer complaints for Consumer Affairs and BBB to handle? The unfortunate consequences of this problem are that homeowners are the ones who are paying the price by receiving poor workmanship and a cascade of home improvement problems.

Let’s be honest, the home improvement industry does not seem to attract the most reliable, honest and competent individuals. The lure of a quick buck and the relative ease to “qualify” to do home improvement work, brings many a “character” to your door. When I was a contractor I needed to hire people for a variety of field positions. Most of the people, who I interviewed and sometimes hired, seemed to have the same type of problems with past employers. These problems consisted of substance abuse issues, honesty issues, and reliability issues. The labor pool never seemed to have an over abundance of talent and employability to pick from.

I remember always reading article after article that dealt with the significant manpower shortage in the home improvement industry. The bottom line of each article would always be the same, “If you can find an honest, reliable and competent person to work for you, pull out all the stops to keep them!!!! Do whatever you need to do to keep that person happy because you’ll never know if you will be lucky enough to find someone to take their place.” As an owner, it was a very constant and stressful problem to deal with. You were almost afraid to try and increase project production because you knew you would have to try and find someone to do the additional work. Finding employees was always an adventure, an adventure that I never looked forward to.

For the last 10-15 years the number one problem in the home improvement industry is the lack of manpower. Many contractors are training and hiring minorities to try and solve this major problem.

If you were to talk to your state authorities about what is being done to improve regulations and screening in the home improvement industry, they will probably tell you something is in the works or there is no money for more regulations (testing). I have been hearing this for 30 years. The county in which I live (Suffolk County, New York) still does not require any demonstration of home improvement ability to obtain a home improvement license. The fee has consistently gone up but the requirements have pretty much stayed the same. We are one of the highest taxed counties in the country, so I refuse to believe there is no money to develop and implement a better policing and screening process in the home improvement industry.

The National Association of The Remodeling Industry (NARI) http://www.nari.org is the only national organization that offers certification of home improvement individuals. They have a number of different certifications that one could obtain. To obtain these certifications the applicant needs to demonstrate a variety of knowledge, ranging from good business practices to project knowledge. NARI’s main certification is called – Certified Remodeler (CR). This certification requires the applicant to prepare an extensive matrix or resume of their experience and knowledge as well as obtaining a certain score on an 8-hour exam. There are only approximately 1000 CR’s, out of the hundreds of thousands of home improvement contractors in this country. I earned this certification in 1994 and still proudly hold this certification today. I will admit that obtaining this certification is a time consuming process and does take considerable effort, but it was well worth it. What I also like about this certification is that it has to be renewed every year by demonstrating continued involvement and knowledge in the home improvement industry.

Why then couldn’t Washington mandate some type of screening, nationwide, that all people interested in doing home improvements must be able to “pass” to obtain a license? This license could be used nationwide. Use a screening process that emulates what NARI does for its certifications. You could make the screening as simple as a comprehensive test with multiple choice questions. A test that could be machine scored.

I think an ideal situation for licensing would be to divide up home improvement licensing into sub-licenses. For example, if you were a bathroom contractor you would obtain a license for bathroom home improvements only. This would refine what licensees are qualified to do, rather then issuing one license that could wrongly give the impression that the licensee is capable of doing any type of project.

The reason I think Washington needs to get involved with this problem is because the American public doesn’t have the time to wait for each of the 50 states to come up with a similar solution, individually.

However, if Washington were to step up and mandate a national screening and testing situation, you would still have to address the screening of the people who show up to work on your house. (if they were not the person(s) who was screened and licensed) These people would hopefully be employees of the person who was screened. Is the homeowner then back to square one with not knowing the qualifications of the people working on their house? I tend to think not, because the person who went through the screening and obtained the license would want to keep the license. It is in the best interest of the licensed individual to make sure the project is done correctly. Problems develop when a contractor has too much work and attempts to get it all done by using inexperienced and unqualified help. The lure of completing more work and making more money sometimes leads to his or her business getting “out of control”. This subsequently leads to quality and project completion problems. Employees of licensed and screened contractors need to “qualify” on some level similar to NARI’s lead carpenter certification.

Will any of these desperately needed changes occur any time soon? To be honest, I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for Washington to step up to the plate and I don’t think your state or local governments will dramatically improve home improvement regulations either.

So what should a homeowner do to protect their home and property? Get the right “tools” and knowledge to be able to protect your home from poor home improvement decisions and situations.

Home Improvement Financing Tips

Improving your home can be a good thing, but it can also put a hurting on your wallet. Most home improvement projects can cost a lot of money. Most people need to make some home improvements but really cannot afford it. So if you are thinking about making some major home improvements to the inside or outside of your home you should definitely think about the consequences before getting in over your head.

Home Equity Loans

Home equity loans are among the most popular for home improvements. It is a great way to borrow money. This is because the interest is deductible from your taxes. Also, most of the time the rates are lower with home equity loans than other types of loans. The great thing is that these loans can be quite easy to get for homeowners.

Home equity loans are great for home improvements because the improvements can raise the value of your home. It is kind of like borrowing money to invest in something. Additions to your home such as bathrooms or bedrooms can really increase the value of your home but can be expensive, therefore by borrowing the money to make these improvements you are borrowing money for an investment that will be of use in the long run, especially if you decide to sell your home.

A Word of Precaution

You should be very careful when getting a home equity loan. You have to remember that when you are getting this type of loan you are using you house as collateral. If you get to a point where you cannot make the payments on time you can end up losing your home. This is bad because when you borrowed the money you did so to make home improvements, so all the time and money you have now put into your home you will lose. Though this is a bad thing, the worse part is that you will loose the place that you live in. This can leave you high and dry with bad credit.

There are many people who use home equity loans for other things like vacations. This is not really a great idea, because they are left to rely on the current value of their home and if the value decreases over the years it could leave them without the money to pay off their loan. Therefore, it is best to use a home equity loan for improving the value of your home so there is never the chance that the value of the home would decrease below what you borrowed in the first place.

These are just a few things to keep in mind when thinking about getting a home equity loan. You do not want to be indebted because you wanted money for home improvements. Home improvement projects can greatly increase the house’s current value and be good investments for the long run. You should always go into a loan office with a keen mind to avoid making any bad decisions that could very well cost you your home.

Gaetane Ross is a Home Improvement Consultant who has spent over 4 years focusing helping people remodel and improve their homes. She also specializes in Holiday Home Decorating. Gaetane’s mission is to positively transform the lives of people by providing advice on Home Interior Design.

Home Improvement Projects

Home improvement projects can improve the look and value of your home dramatically. Though in some cases, using a home improvement project as a way to increase the value of your home can actually backfire and cost you money. So how will you be able to tell if the project that you have planned will add to the value of your home or decrease the value of your home?

The first thing that you need to know is the appraised value of your home. You must know the appraisal value, or estimated resale price, of your home before you can determine if a project will increase or decrease the value of your home. Although you may feel that your home is worth a certain amount of money, and that a home improvement will increase the value by X amount of dollars, your feelings will not set the final selling price, the appraisal will.

When completing a home improvement project that you believe will dramatically improve the resale value of your home, you need to consider your neighbors houses. If you have the nicest house in your neighborhood, but you are trying to sell it for twice as much as the appraisal value of other homes in the neighborhood, you will be disappointed.

A general guide is to not try to sell your home for more than 20% of what the surrounding homes will sell for. For simplicity, let us assume that the homes in your neighborhood are appraised at a value of $100,000. This would mean that you could expect to get about $120,000 out of your home if you make selective home improvements.

What this means for you as a homeowner is that you should seriously rethink any home improvement project that would cost more than $20,000 going by our above example. Using the above example, it is easy to see that a $30,000 home improvement project would cause you to lose money in the long run.

Now, if you can make a home improvement that costs very little, but results in a higher resale value, it may be a good idea to pursue that project. Going back to our example, if you can spend $5,000 on a project and this results in your home being appraised at $115,000, then it is a great investment idea.

You also want to consider the appeal that your home improvement project would have to a future owner. For example, swimming pools and hot tubs may be something that you enjoy, but would a potential buyer pay extra for those features? There are some fairly safe projects that you can pursue that other home buyers generally find valuable. Some of these include kitchen remodeling, adding or remodeling a bathroom, adding a new room, landscaping, etc.

Also keep in mind that maintenance projects do not usually result in an increased value for your home. Replacing a broken furnace or hot water heater usually will not improve the value of your home when selling it. These are considered maintenance issues that all homeowners expect the home to have working. Most people would not consider paying full price for a home that does not have these basic features in working order.

Home Improvement and Remodeling

Do you want to change the color of the walls from a certain room? Do you want to replace your old heating system and forget about cold seasons? Do you need an air conditioner in order to enjoy fresh summers? You want to change your kitchen storage cabinets and you don’t have enough money? I will make this short: do you want to improve the quality of your life? Well, from now on you can start modernizing the interior for your home. You can start to enjoy all benefits that are offered by home improvement loans, because from now on, anyone can have access to a home improvement loan.

If you don’t meet your burning desires, you will be dissatisfied for the rest of your life. It’s not true that you have to get used to your financial situations, because nowadays, financial institutions help people realize all their dreams. You only need a rich imagination! It is true that nowadays, not too many people have enough money in order to make improvements inside their home. Home improvement loans allows to each resident to build a place that can be called home or to make some improvements in their already existing home.

The first thing that has to receive all your concentration and all of your attention is represented by the interest rates. It’s very important to see the interest rates for home improvement loans that are offered by different financial institutions. If you are interested in getting a home improvement loan you must know that you have to look after low interest rates. These rates also have to be fixed. Borrowers should also know that advertised rates can or can’t be low rates for their profiles. People who are interested in getting a loan like this will find out the interest rates are personalized. In all cases, these rates for this type of loans are depending on whether the borrower offers or not a security for the loan. Actually, that means that home improvement loans are divided in two categories. They are either secured or of course, unsecured. Keep in mind that secured home improvement loans require collateral.

A pro for the unsecured loans is that they are approved without any security. Of course, these 2 categories of loans come with their ups and downs. If the borrower needs a large amount such as $25,000-$75,000 or even above he can obtain it at some very low interest rates and with a flexible term in which he has to repay the amount. The major disadvantage of secured home improvement loans is that borrowers risk losing the properties which they offered as securities if they don’t repay right on time the amount of money.

Unsecured home improvement loans are the perfect solution for borrowers who need small amounts of money. In this case there is not a major disadvantage. If the borrower will not repay the money in the established period, his credit rating will have to suffer. Before you decide what type of home improvement loan you choose, you first have to know the cost of your project. Make a detailed list with all the materials that you need for your project and write down their cost. In this way you will decide easier which type of loan to choose.

Don’t think that you are wasting your time looking for home remodeling loans. All your effort and all your patience will be rewarded with a good rate of interest and convenient terms and conditions. Take your time and make comparisons between different offers that you find. On the Internet you can also find a home improvement loan calculator that you can use in order to find out the costs of monthly installments. You only have to insert your income, the amount of money that you need and the calculator will offer you the expected result. Don’t confuse home improvement loans with long term loans. Specialists recommend future borrowers to choose a period within 5 and 10 years in which they can repay the amount of money. It’s not convenient at all to repay the amount that you borrow in more than 10 years.

Nowadays, many financial institutions offer bad credit payers the possibility of having access to home improvement loans. If you are a bad credit, begin with your credit report, know the credit score and start searching for tempting offers. With home improvement loans people can make their dreams come true: they can renovate their home, purchase new furniture and they can even rearrange their yard!

Understanding Secured Home Improvement

Repairing, furnishing, designing or decorating; whatever you want to do with your home, you need money. This is surely the most important necessity behind fulfillment of our desires. So, if you belong to the category of haves, you can meet your needs. Now, what if you belong to the group of have-nots? Well, do not worry. Nothing can stop you to improve your home and fulfill your desires. Say thanks to secured home improvement loan, which makes it possible.

To get secured home improvement loan, you need to place your own home as security for the loaned amount. Now, the security, which you will place against the amount will primarily work on behalf of you. It ascertains the safe return of the loaned amount to the lender. In this way, secured loan is quite different from unsecured loan, where a borrower need not to place any security for the loaned amount.

As secured home improvement loans are secured against collateral of the borrower, lender feels safe and offer several attractive loan terms and favourable loan condition to borrowers. Lenders here offer a good amount of money along with flexible repayment option.

You can use secured home improvement loan for any of your requirement. You can use this loan to renovate kitchen, painting on walls, expanding living space, repairing of roof to name a few. Now, another beneficial aspect of secured home improvement loan is that this type of loan is open for all borrowers irrespective of any credit history. Thus it helps bad credit holders also to fulfill their desires with a hefty amount of money. Moreover with the help of secured home improvement loan, a bad credit holder can also improve his credit score.

Thus with all of its features, secured home improvement loan is indeed a sound and flexible loan for all in quest of monetary assistance to cater their needs. But as an awakened borrower, you should always be aware of its demerits. Actually under this loan, if you fail to repay the loaned amount within proper time frame, then the lender could easily repossess your security which is placed as a security for the loaned amount. But you need not to think about this if you have full confidence upon you and your repayment ability.

Home Improvement Ideas to Consider

Home improvement is a very widespread field, with many ideas from which to choose. During the summertime, countless people think about remodeling their homes, making improvements to certain rooms of the house, but are often not sure which improvements to do. Low-cost home improvements that not only improve your home’s appearance, but also help you save money in the long run, are the hottest plans currently. I’m writing this to list these ideas and hopefully, help spark your imagination. These are the top 5 home improvement ideas for 2009:

1.) Installing “Green” Technology – Due to the need of almost everyone to save money right now, and because of the increased awareness of the need to save our environment, the top home improvement plan right now is the installing of “green” technology, also known as “going green.” This could include such installments as solar panels, power-generating windmills, environmentally-friendly cleaners, energy efficient heating and cooling system, and energy-saving light bulbs. Solar panels may be costly at first, but they will save a huge amount of money in the long run by generating your own electricity. The same goes for the energy efficient heating and cooling system – it will help you save money on your electric bills. Windmills can not only help you generate your own electricity, but they can be made with parts from the junkyard. You can’t get much cheaper than that! Also, many of these “going green” improvements will help you qualify for a tax break and help out the environment. It’s a win-win situation.

2.) Install a programmable thermostat – This may be a very simple improvement, but don’t underestimate it. Installing a programmable thermostat will help save money on your electric bills. How does it do this? Instead of having the air conditioning or the heater running all day, the pre-programmed thermostat only turns on the AC or the heat when the temperature of the house gets too hot or too cold. This keeps the central heating and cooling system from running unnecessarily and, in turn, saves you money.

3.) Re-insulate your home – Making sure your home is well insulated will also help save you money on electric bills. That is because a well-insulated home will not let out cool air in the summer, and it will not let out warm air in the winter. That also keeps hot or cold air from drafting into the house.

4.) Paint or re-decorate your living space – This may seem like a very simple improvement to your home, but it is effective. Painting your rooms and re-decorating in soothing colors and accents will help you relax and want to spend more time in your newly decorated home. Pamper yourself along with the new designs and you will feel like you are at a spa getaway.

5.) Put in a patio – This is probably the most expensive option (unless you have close friends or family who are carpenters) but it is worth the splurge. A patio or a sun deck will allow you to relax and soak up some rays in your own back yard. You can grill out with family and friends, sun bathe on a chaisse lounge, or watch the stars from your patio. The good thing about putting in a patio is that it is actually less expensive than adding a room onto your house. A patio may be a small addition, but it will more than pay for itself with all the hours of relaxation it will afford.

Simple Home Improvement Projects

Home, sweet home. Big or small, a home is always precious to its owner. A home is a person’s palace and place of comfort. After a busy day, it’s going home that a person looks forward to. So every homeowner wants to decorate his or her home according to his or her own tastes and make it as comfortable and a safe environment to live in.

For people with money, time and energy, home improvement has become very common activity. Home improvement projects are not restricted to just walls and paint. It goes far beyond that. The prime function of home improvement is to add value and comfort to your home, as well as its beauty.

Professionals can be hired if the home improvement project is more complicated than you can do just by yourself. In such cases, professionals are the best ones to do the job you want in order to make your home look great. You can hire specialized contractors or general contractors, depending on your particular home improvement requirements.

Homeowners are usually concerned with all the nitty gritty stuff, as well as the more common aspects of a home improvement project like furniture, functionality and overall style. Home improvement ideas largely depend on one’s individual taste but it is the job of a home improvement expert to do the more technical parts of the job.

Although it is recommended you hire a professional for your home improvement project, many homeowners prefer to do the jobs themselves.

There are some do-it-yourself (DIY) home improvement projects that you can carry out yourself even if you don’t have an interior design degree. All you have to do is a little research and find the accessories that fit your tastes to make your home the talk of the town.

Below is a list of some home improvement ideas that you can consider for your home improvement project:

Laminate flooring: laminate wood flooring is very popular with many homeowners. The richness of the hardwood floors would add warmth and charm to any home. The laminate hardwood floors are durable with a tough finish and can be used in any area of your home even if you purchase discount laminate flooring.

Decorative area rugs: Using a decorative area rug is a great home improvement idea. You can select the decorative area rugs from a wide number of area rug discount choices that are available online as well as offline. Select a well-designed rug including Persian rugs will help make your home ‘one of a kind’.

Improving the look of your home does not really require any effort than simply installing new window treatments. This might not seem like a big thing, but after you’ve installed new window blinds you will quickly see the huge difference they make in the feel of your home. The right window blinds will add a softness to your window areas. Plus you can now better control the amount of light that enters your home and the amount of privacy you desire.

Now that you have a fair idea on several possible home improvement projects, you can add value to your home at your own pace whether you’re an interior decorator or not. Doing this will help to ensure a better home value and guarantee that your home is updated to current standards as well as can withstand any storms.

Do not hesitate to invest in home improvement – just remember that with a wise investment in your home, you are increasing its market value too beside making it a more enjoyable place for you and your family to live.

Home Improvement Tips

When you think of home improvement tips you are usually thinking about ways to add more space or do a repair or two. Sometimes the best home improvement tips are to add a little light to the room. This article will examine some lighting options and other home improvement tips to brighten your room’s appearance.

Go With a Theme for Your Next Home Improvement Project

There are so many lighting options on the market today that one must look deeper to discover the best fit for their setting. Some good home improvement tips you might consider would be to develop a theme for your room. This can be a fun project if you are looking to add flavor to your home.

Some home improvement tips for a theme would be to consider either a color theme or a setting theme. Color themes are easy to accomplish with lights and a few added items. Try adding a few color lights that create a unique blend of colors and then add some items in the room for those lights to reflect off of. Other home improvement tips would be to use an outdoor theme for a room inside your home.

You can accomplish an outdoor theme by adding a few lights to a corner of your room and perhaps place some wood or other items that would generally fit outside. Try adding these items around the base of the light or you could even place some items on the wall. This might not sound like it would fit in a room, but you just might be surprised at how these types of home improvement tips can spice up a room.

Be Creative with Some Lamp Shades

One home improvement tips idea you might consider if you want to save some money, but add real flair to a room would be to buy some cheap lamps with lamp shades. You might even look at the local second hand store and purchase some used lamps with lamp shades. Once you have found some suitable lamps you can decorate the lamp shades to fit the theme of your room. You could even put some colored bulbs in the lamps to give a slightly different appearance.

These home improvement tips will only cost you a few dollars to accomplish, but it could add some nice character to your room. If you are a loss for the perfect idea there are hundreds of home improvement tips in the books at your local library. A short visit to the library may save you hundreds of dollars next time.

Exquisite New Bathroom Home Improvement

Owning your own home can be fun and exciting. You can do anything you want to it and there are just so many exciting things available now days to dress it up and change the looks of your old bathroom. Bathroom home improvement has become so popular that there are stores now that focus on mainly just that. You can get anything from towels and candles to furnishings you can’t even imagine. Since we spend a lot of time in the bathroom, wouldn’t it be nice to do a bathroom home improvement that will make you feel good every time you enter. You can not only change the looks, but the upgrades are incredible.

There are so many things you can do for a bathroom home improvement that it is hard to begin. Besides obvious things like paint and wallpaper in which there are numerous choices, just to change the mirror can be an enormous task. You can choose from a wide variety of styles, shapes and sizes. There are single mirrors, double mirrors, to a whole line of wall mirrors. Even electrical covers come in a large variety. You can match designs, colors, to different shapes for any bathroom home improvement. Wow, the list goes on and on. You may want to change light fixtures which will give you endless possibilities again. There is a light fixture to match any decor or color you may be looking for.

You will want to visit a home improvement store to see the latest styles, shapes and sizes of toilets and sinks for your bathroom home improvement. It is always nice to see what your choices are and many stores carry a full line for you to view. You will be able to see how big they are and the choice of handles or faucets you can select to go with them. A bathroom home improvement can be challenging, but very rewarding when you are finished. You will not only have given your home a new look, but increased the value of it as well.

One of the last choices for a bathroom home improvement would be to decide whether you want a tub or shower, or both. The tubs alone come in many sizes, colors and styles from modern to old fashion, like the big claw feet. You can get sunken tubs to tubs with jets installed in them. It’s all about luxury and comfort. There are also wide choices of showers to choose from. You can get a bathroom home improvement shower that is tiled, may have some seats built in, or may be completely enclosed in glass. What ever your hearts desire, you can get it. If you can’t find what you are looking for, there are builders who will design it for you.

Affordable and Applicable Home Improvement

Everyone wants to upgrade and renovate his/her house in affordable way. Budget is the major factor of consideration. If your budget does not allow you to start major renovation projects such as adding new room or changing floor or alteration in room dimensions you can also go for less expensive affordable home improvements. Minor changes may results in remarkable difference in your home. With less expensive improvement projects you can improve your home and also save money for major renovation project. There are various styles available you can chose such as Victorian, country and modern. Now day’s modern style is most popular home décor. Due to popularity modern home décor has become expensive. But there are still some ways to upgrade your home in affordable way. You can take advantage of certain affordable home improvement tips for affordable home improvement.

Affordable Home Improvement Tips
Affordable home improvement tips allow you to upgrade your home in less expensive way. Following are some affordable home improvement tips.

Use of Inexpensive Home Decorating Items
Use of inexpensive objects to decorate your home is the most easy affordable home improvement tip. You can use inexpensive home decorating accessories to make your house look impressive. Such accessories include curtains, fancy cushions and table covers that look compatible with the pattern and main wall color. This will make your room warmer and modern. Even a good family photograph at suitable place can add character to your room.

Paint
Paint is also less expensive and easy way to give brand new look to your home. You can select any color of your choice. You can use paint on old furniture, walls and floors to give new look. You can also create different designs with paint.

Mirrors
Addition of mirror to any place can make your room look larger than its actual size. It is best for small rooms. In larger rooms you can also use mirrors. Mirrors look great above fireplaces, beds, dressers and in bathrooms. It gives instant fresh look without making complete changes in every thing. It is also a useful and affordable home improvement tip.

Fabrics
Fabric is easy to use in different ways. You can use it in lot of creative ways. It is not necessary that you must buy new fabric to use. You can even use old fabrics in your house. Normally everyone has old table cloths and scarves in their homes. You can change the look of old furniture by simply covering it with cloth. You can also make pictures by covering canvas boards with beautiful scarves or cloth. This is very cheap way to add look as compared to buying expensive show pieces from stores.

Old Furniture
Another affordable home improvement tips is simply change the setting of your old furniture and give a fresh look to your house. This can be done by simply putting same furniture in other room with different theme. You can make your furniture look different by painting it with different color or by covering it with fabrics.

Stenciling
It is also a simple home improvement tip to make your room alive. Stencils are easily available. It can easily paste on the walls. You need to paint them and remove them. It will leave a nice and clearly defined design to add character to your room. It can also used on fabrics and furniture.

Photographs
Beautifully framed photographs are also good option for adding value to your room. It is very affordable home improvement tip for those who have limited budget to renovate your room. The only cost is framing of photograph. Photographs can give pleasant effect to your room.