Thursday, April 26, 2012

Outdoor Home Renovation / Improvement Projects

Is this the year that your yard will be the talk of the neighborhood – in a good way? Your tax return can fund a number of outdoor home renovation / improvement projects that can increase the curb appeal – and your enjoyment – of your home. From affordable DIY projects to major additions that require the skilled labor of a local contractor, here’s a quick look at some popular home renovation & improvement projects for the spring and summer.

Re-sod Your Lawn

A raggedy, ill-maintained lawn can turn even the prettiest lot into an eyesore. Get rid of the bare patches and crabgrass with an all-out makeover. Tearing up and re-sodding or re-seeding a lawn isn’t a project that requires a lot of skill, but it is time and work-intensive. You can rent the necessary tools to make the work easier, but it’s easier still to hire a local contractor skilled in doing lawn care and maintenance to do the work for you. You can even contract with the lawn maintenance company to take care of the mowing and upkeep throughout the summer – and generally for a very affordable cost.

Plant Flower Beds

Flower beds along the frontage of your property or lining the paths are a quick and easy way to give your home an instant facelift. Gardening may be a pleasure for some, but even avid gardeners might prefer to avoid the backbreaking labor of preparing a flower bed for the first time. Depending on the size of your intended flower patches, you can probably hire a local contractor with a cultivator to break up the lawn, turn the soil and add any amendments needed – and leave you the fun work to do.

Extend Your Kitchen

Turn your backyard into a complete outdoor kitchen. Professional contractors are expert at building out a patio or deck and outfitting it with everything you need to entertain in style. Working with a local contractor gives you a number of advantages over doing it yourself, including the fact that most pros have connections with local distributors of appliances and construction materials. That often means that local contractors can often work deals and get their hands on hard-to-find items that will turn your backyard into a showplace.

As a bonus, each of these home renovations & improvements actually add more value to your house. They’re among the top ten renovation projects that provide a decent return on investment when it comes to the valuation of your house for sale.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

When Should You Hire a Contractor for Your Home Improvement / Renovation Project?

We are a DIY society. It fits the rugged American spirit and the can-do attitude that typifies it. If you watch television, you’ll see all the ads for the big box home improvement / renovation stores focusing on the industrious homeowner who does it all – builds his own deck, paints his own house, cares for his own lawn and does his own landscaping. It’s no wonder that most homeowners are almost embarrassed to admit that honestly, they’d rather not DIY all their home improvement & renovation projects.

There are certainly some advantages to doing your home improvement & renovation projects yourself. Generally, it’s less expensive if you provide the labor yourself, and there’s a certain sense of accomplishment in pointing to your new tiled wall or brick patio and saying, “I did that myself.”

On the other hand, there are also some major disadvantages, especially if you’re not skilled in doing the work in question. Some projects can be accomplished relatively easily by anyone who is detail-oriented and can follow directions. Some home renovation or home repair projects, however, require specialized trade knowledge and skills. If you mess up on painting your living room walls, for example, you’ll just have to live with a few drips or a sloppy job. If you mess up on a plumbing job, on the other hand, you could end up having to pay a plumber big bucks for an emergency repair job.

So when should you turn to a local professional contractor to handle your home improvement & renovation projects? The answer will vary according to your skills, abilities and the time you have available, but in general, you should opt for a contractor under the following circumstances.

The Job Requires Specialized Skills or a Licensed Contractor.

Electrical and plumbing jobs – especially those that involve heating systems and natural gas – should be done by a professional contractor, or at least inspected by one. Making a mistake on an electrical job or a job involving natural gas can create a major safety hazard. If you’re not experienced with them, call in a professional to handle the task.

You Own a Rental or Commercial Property.

Check with your local code office about who can perform certain jobs in a commercial or rental property. At the very least, in jobs that involve safety issues, you’ll have to have your work inspected by a professional in order to have it approved.

You Want to Sell Your Property.

If you’re making home repairs, home improvements & renovations with an eye to increasing your property value, it makes sense to pay a professional contractor and get a quality job. The television DIY programs make it look easy, but when the results are important, the extra dollars can make a big difference.

You Just Don’t Want to Do It Yourself.

The very best reason of all to engage a professional to do your home improvement / renovation jobs is that you’d rather relax and watch someone else work. You can almost always find an affordable contractor for any job you want done if you shop around online and get several bids on your job.