How to get a better paint job
Painting is one of the most inexpensive ways to give your home a makeover. Whether it’s updating an old bathroom paint scheme or adding a bold accent wall, painting can totally transform a room. But painting can be a big hassle and come with tons of prep work and clean up. Here are a few top tips to getting a better paint job, make your painting experience more enjoyable, and lead to a more professional finish.
Prep beyond tape and drop cloths
A drop cloth will protect your floors, but a thick and durable drop cloth is also a little clumsy to maneuver. For smaller, awkward items that are in danger of paint splatter, use plastic wrap. It’ll make it much less frustrating to protect a toilet or bathroom sink.
Be ready for spills and splatters
At the very least, a few drops of paint are going to end up where you don’t want them. Have a rag and some Q-Tips ready for the inevitable paint splatter, so that you can quickly wipe them off before they dry and set on your frames, countertops, or hardwood floor.
Use heat to remove tape
Patience is key when removing painter’s tape, but it can still tear and leave splotchy edges no matter how careful you are. Hold a heat gun or hair dryer a few inches away from the tape as your remove it little by little. The heat will break down the adhesive and make removing the tape a much less frustrating task.
A DRY FOUNDATION IS A HAPPY FOUNDATION
Keeping water away from your home’s foundation is an important part of maintaining your home’s structural integrity. Water can cause soils to expand and contract as well as do damage to the interior of the home should it flood.
Keep your gutters clean and make sure downspouts will divert water to a place where it can drain away. If your home is equipped with a sump pit you may want to install a pump, or if you have a pump make sure it is operating properly. If your basement has a drain be sure it is clear in the event that you have an interior water leak, such as a broken pipe.
BEFORE YOU TAKE THE PLUNGE WITH A FIXER-UPPER, THINK ABOUT RESALE VALUE
We’ve all watched the HGTV programs that show a run-down old house transforming into a dream home. Tackling a big renovation project on an outdated property can indeed pay off big—both with the home of your dreams, and with a return on investment. If resale value is a primary concern, consider these factors as you’re making your fixer-upper plans.
Is the price right?
How much can you invest in a home beyond the sale price while staying in line with the value of homes in the neighborhood? You don’t want to improve a home to the point that it’s worth far more than the norm for the area. You’ll enjoy the property while you’re living there, but if you ever decide to sell, your ROI could be limited by the market value of nearby houses.
Low cost, instant equity
There are a lot of low cost and DIY improvements that will add equity almost immediately, such as rehabbing the landscaping and adding fresh coats of paint. These improvements add value to the property almost instantly.
What’s worth spending on?
A little elbow grease goes a long way, but there will inevitably be projects that require some serious spending. If you’re concerned with getting a return on your investment, focus your dollars toward the roof, floors, and the home’s exterior. They’re not flashy upgrades, but they’re important for future buyers. On the other hand, luxuries like a swimming pool are unlikely to see any return on investment.
START HERE IF YOU NEED TO TACKLE SPRING AND SUMMER MAINTENANCE
Winter is hard on your home even in the south. The cold expands and contracts the materials your home is made of. Now that the winter weather is behind us, here’s a few quick tips to get started on your spring and summer maintenance.
Roof and shingles: It’s pretty common for shingles to get damaged or detach completely after a long cold winter. Thoroughly inspect your roof to ensure that shingles are in good condition and the roof is structurally sound. It may not be time to replace your roof yet, but consider how many more years it has left and start preparing a budget.
Check your gutters: The weight of heavy melting snow and debris is more than enough to make your gutters sag or loosen. Clear out all the leaves and other debris that’s collected in the gutters, and make sure they’re still securely attached at all points.
Check concrete surfaces: Fluctuating temperatures cause concrete to expand and contract. This can lead to damaged driveways, walkways, and other surfaces, and that can spell bad news for water drainage. Fill the cracks with an appropriate material, and seal your surfaces if possible.
HVAC service: Before you put your central air conditioner through a rigorous summer, clean the coils and change the filter. Better yet, bring in a professional for yearly maintenance.
INVESTMENT PROPERTIES: HOW YOU CAN MAKE MONEY IN THE SHORT AND LONG TERM
You’re probably well aware that there’s more to real estate than just owning your home. There are countless success stories of people who made a fortune—or even just a comfortable extra income—by investing in real estate. Here’s an overview to get you thinking about an investment property.
Improving a home
Quickly flipping a home is one way to make money off a real estate investment, but it can be risky. A safer play is to buy a fixer upper and carefully manage costs over a year or so as you improve the property. You’re likely to get a great return.
Instead of selling your investment property, you can rent it and make a good monthly profit if the rent exceeds your costs. Renting to a stable, reliable tenant can put extra money in your pocket every month for years on end. You can even hire a property manager to handle repairs, rent collection, and other administrative tasks. And if you’re ever ready to stop dealing with tenants, you can sell the home and profit on the improvements and appreciation of your asset.
Multi-family rental properties
Renting out a single family home is a good starting place for investment properties, but you can get an even better return once you learn the ropes and move on to multi-family homes. Buying an apartment building or dividing a larger home into several apartment units comes with some added complications with taxes and regulations, but it also comes with huge income potential.
5 INEXPENSIVE HOME IMPROVEMENTS
The cost of some home renovations can seem daunting, but not every home improvement has to break the bank. Here are 5 simple improvements you can make that will have a major impact, but are still relatively inexpensive.
Add some trees: Want to add some curb appeal to your home and feel better when you’re pulling into the driveway after work? You won’t believe the difference a few trees can make. And compared to the cost (mature trees starts at around $1,000), they provide a great return on investment for you property value and can lower energy bills by providing shade.
Add Moldings: Molding instantly adds a classy, sophisticated touch to any room, and if you do it yourself, it can cost less than $2 per foot. If you ever sell your home, buyers consistently say that molding is a big plus.
Upgrade your ceiling fans: An efficient ceiling fan costs far less than air conditioning, and if your current ceiling fan is on its last legs, a replacement can totally change the look of a room.
Energy efficient appliances: Still using the appliances that came with the home? Upgrading your range, fridge, or dishwasher won’t just give your kitchen a sleeker appearance. Newer, more energy-efficient appliances will also lower your utility bills.
Invest in storage: One of the biggest ways to improve your home is to declutter. Throw out what you don’t need, and invest is some good storage solutions for what you keep.
4 Things NOT to do when redesigning your kitchen
The kitchen is one of the areas of a home that sees the most wear and tear. All the water, heat, and food spills add up quickly, so it’s important to focus on quality and lasting appeal if you’re choosing materials for a kitchen remodel. Here are a few things you should avoid:
Cheap laminate counters: The bottom rung of laminate is extremely susceptible to wear and tear. It can melt if you forget to place a hot pad under a pan that’s fresh off the stove, and the edges can chip off from repeated exposure to moisture and heat.
Flat paint: A flat or matte finish is great in rooms with lower traffic, but it’s a bad idea in the kitchen, where the walls are regularly exposed to splatters and spills. You need paint that can withstand an occasional heavy scrubbing, so opt for gloss or semi-gloss finishes.
Trendy backsplash: If you watch any home remodeling shows, you’ve certainly seen kitchens with expensive, elaborate backsplash designs and materials. Those trends can be pricey to pursue, yet can look dated in a hurry. Subway tile is a cheaper, classic option that you’ll never regret—and you’ll have more room in your budget for quality materials elsewhere.
Cheap flooring: Just like the countertops, your kitchen floor needs to be strong enough to take some abuse. Cheap flooring easily scuffs and peels (especially from moisture). Quality flooring is worth the investment.
5 Simple Ingredients for some of your Dreaded DIY Projects
Is there a DIY home maintenance project that’s been lingering on your to-do list for too long because you’re dreading the trip to the hardware or craft store?
Here are some projects you can tackle with items that are almost certainly already in your home.
- Vinegar: There’s probably a jug of vinegar in your pantry right now. You can soak items in vinegar to remove mineral deposits (like in a clogged showerhead), and you can boil vinegar in your microwave to remove odors and make it easier to clean.
- Cola: A can of Coke or Pepsi can be used to clean many surfaces, including your glass windows, porcelain toilet, or chrome fixtures. Just do some research before using it on metal surfaces, as it can be corrosive.
- Baking soda: This item may actually be more useful for applications other than baking. A baking soda-vinegar paste is great for cleaning bathrooms and kitchens. Baking soda can also be used to absorb odors.
- Butter knife: Screwdrivers are easy to misplace. If can’t find a screwdriver when you need one, a butter knife—preferably an older one that you no longer need for table setting—is pretty effective for both Phillips- and flat-head screws.
- Toothpaste: Is there an unsightly scratch on your car or bike? The grit in tarter-control toothpastes makes for an effective scratch remover. Clean the scratch, apply some toothpaste, let it sit for a few minutes, and then buff it out with paper towel.
What Can You Do To Make Your Home More Energy-Efficient?
Below are three quick and inexpensive ways to help make your home more energy-efficient.
Seal air leaks: As much as 20 percent of the energy used to regulate temperature in a home can be lost to air leaks. You can seal doors and windows with weather stripping and the project will usually cost less than $200.
Smart thermostats: Older thermostats are usually inefficient because they only have a few settings. A smart thermostat like can be programmed to reduce heating/cooling when you’re not at home or during the hours when you’re asleep. The energy savings you will see usually equal the cost of the thermostat after a year or two.
Change your light bulbs: Yes, LED light bulbs are expensive. They do only require just a small percentage of the energy incandescent bulbs require. A cheap incandescent bulb uses about $15 of electricity a year (if it lasts that long). An LED bulb costs around $25, but uses less than $5 worth of electricity per year and will last up to 11 years.