5 Best Values for Your Home Improvement Dollar

If you’re considering having some remodeling done, it pays to know what will add the most value to your house. Here are some of the best ways to spend your hard-earned home improvement dollars.

Install a Steel Door Replacing an existing wooden or fiberglass front door with a steel entry door is the number one project in Remodeling Magazine’s 2014 Cost vs. Value Report. Is it any wonder? It adds 96.6% of the cost of the job to the value of your home, improves security and increases energy efficiency. It also makes a strong first impression and adds curb appeal.

Update Your Kitchen The kitchen is considered the heart of every home. If yours is in need of an update, the changes are usually money well-spent. The average cost of a minor kitchen remodel nationwide is under $19,000, according to the Cost vs. Value report. By adding new cabinet doors, appliances, countertops, paint and fixtures, you can recoup about 83% of the cost in your home’s value, according to the same survey. If your kitchen is small, you can also consider opening up a wall or reconfiguring your counter space to make the room look bigger.

Create a New Bedroom If you’ve got an attic in your house, don’t let it go to waste storing old clothes and trunks full of memories. Converting your attic into an extra bedroom is another smart way to get a good bang for your renovating buck. Adding a bedroom without the expense of a new addition is a cost-effective way to enhance the value of any home, especially with an average cost recouped of just under 85%, according to Remodeling Magazine’s report.

Add a Deck Installing an outdoor deck adds value to any home because it gives you more living space to enjoy with family and friends. According to the Cost vs. Value report, composite decks add over $11,400 in resale value to your home and wooden decks add over $8,300. You can’t go wrong with either, because wooden decks recoup almost 87.4% of your cost compared to 74.3% for composites.

Redo the Bath Although it doesn’t pay off as much as a new kitchen, updating your bathroom by getting rid of that tired, old sink and dated green tile from the ’80s is a smart move for your home. On average, bathroom remodels returned 72.5% nationwide.

If you have the space and are considering adding a bathroom to your home, it’s probably a good idea. It can add as much as 20% to your home’s value, according to experts at the National Association of Home Builders.

Source: 2014 Cost vs. Value Report

– Adapted from AHS Home Matters Inside & Out June 2014 Newsletter

Last Week in the News

The combined construction of new single-family homes and apartments in November rose 9.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 685,000 units. Single-family starts increased 2.3%. Multifamily starts rose 25.3%. Applications for new building permits, seen as an indicator of future activity, rose 5.7% to an annual rate of 681,000 units.

Existing home sales rose 4% in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.42 million units from 4.25 million units in October. The inventory of unsold homes on the market decreased to 2.58 million, a 7-month supply at the current sales pace, down from a 7.7-month supply in October.

The Commerce Department announced that gross domestic product — the total output of goods and services produced in the U.S. — increased at a revised annual rate of 1.8% in the third quarter of 2011.

New home sales rose 1.6% in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 315,000 units from a revised rate of 310,000 units in October. Compared to a year ago, new home sales were up 9.8%.

The index of leading economic indicators — designed to forecast economic activity in the next three to six months — rose a strong 0.5% in November, following a 0.9% increase in October.

Orders for durable goods — items expected to last three or more years — rose $7.5 billion or 3.8% to $207 billion in November. Excluding volatile transportation-related goods, orders posted a monthly increase of 0.3%.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 4,000 to 364,000 for the week ending December 17. Continuing claims for the week ending December 10 fell by 79,000 to 3.546 million.

PS – The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has extended the temporary waiver of anti-flipping regulations through December 31, 2012.

from Prospect Mortgage Economic Update

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Entering the Home Market in a Small Way

Some first-time home buyers are looking to enter the housing market in a small way.  And they’re doing so by buying small houses.  In some cases, very small houses.

The website of the Small Home Society (resourcesforlife.com/small-house-society) suggests the current interest in small homes resulted from weather-related catastrophes such as hurricanes and wildfires, as well as concern for the environment.  A shifting economy also has encouraged people to think about living more simply and scaling back.  Some architects and builders have recognized these trends and responded with small housing options.

One company, Tumbleweed Tiny House, offers fifteen models and variations of tiny homes.  A small home from Tumbleweed is designed to be placed in one location and meet International Building Code.  Each home has at least one room of no less than 120 square feet, and all home plans have the option for a 1st floor bedroom.  Tumbleweed’s bestseller is the B53, its largest home.  It can be built as a 2 bedroom (777 sq. ft.) or 3 bedroom (874 sq. ft.) house.  the estimated cost for the B53 is $51,000 for the 777 square foot home or $58,000 for the 874 square foot home.  Most of the homes have built-in cabinets and desks, finished interiors and stainless steel kitchens.

The smallest of the small homes, labeled tiny homes, range from 65-140 square feet and are built on wheels.  Because they are considered travel trailers, they do not require a permit and can be placed anywhere you can place an RV.

Micro-home pricescan start at under $20,000 and can range much higher depending on the desired amenities, such as granite countertops.

In addition to potentially much-smaller mortgage payments, energy consumption and energy bills are drastically reduced because of the smaller square footage.  Because of better insulating and sealing techniques, small hoes stay cooler in summer and warmer in winter.

Smaller homes means minimal time spent cleaning, because there is a very limited area to clean.  These homes also encourage a minimalist approach towards possessions.  When space is truly at a premium, a purchase of a new pair of shoes necessitates getting rid of an old pair to make room.

Manufacturers have responded to the limited amount of space with some adaptions of traditional appliances.  There is a washer/dryer combo on the market that washes clothes and then goes right into a dry cycle in the same unit.  It elimates the need to transfer wet clothes from one unit to the other.  It needs no venting and uses a 110 volt outlet.

What about breakfast?  There is a 3-in-1 breakfast maker that combines the convenience of three appliances in one.  It features a toaster oven and coffee maker side to side, and a griddle surface on the top.  You can make eggs, toast, and coffee in a space the size of a toaster.

And there are refrigeration units even smaller than the under the counter sizes found in some dorm and hotel rooms.  The drawer refrigerator fits in th tiniest of spots and lives up to its name, sliding out as  10 inch deep, 17.5 inch by 26.5 inch drawer.

from Tek Inspections enews

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