Archive for Wednesday, April 18, 2001

Consider a home makeover this spring

April 18, 2001

Spring is finally here, and if you're one of the lucky ones, so is your tax refund. With the extra money in your pocket and sun on your back, it's the perfect time to consider giving your home a makeover.

Each year, every home needs some maintenance, and most folks do at least one major home improvement project per year. In fact, it is estimated that homeowners spent more than $180 billion on home improvements alone in 1998, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Investing in your home is no longer a trend, but a way of life. For most of us, homes are not only where we live, but also our single largest investment. As a living space, its design and condition affect our lives daily. As an investment, its value in the marketplace is something we seek to preserve and enhance. When considering repair and improvement projects, it's best to consider both.

David Bowen, president of Western Pacific Construction, believes that people should approach their home as an investment, and more importantly, it should be something they can be proud of and enjoy every day. Whatever your intentions for improving and maintaining your home, now is the time to get started.

"Our business increases significantly around tax time," said Bowen. "People get their bigger projects lined up early so they are first on the contractor's schedule."

According to Bowen, the larger projects people typically plan are kitchen remodels, additions, decks, interior and exterior painting, as well as basement refinishes. The smaller jobs range from house cleaning and painting to plumbing and electrical work. "For larger projects, consulting with a designer or architect can be a great starting point for some creative inspiration," added Bowen.

For those of you who haven't talked to a professional yet, Bowen advises making drawings and a list of your home improvements, so when you speak with the professional, he or she will have a good idea of the scope of the project, as well as the estimated budget.

"This enables the consumer to get the biggest bang for their buck when the contractor arrives," added Bowen.

Whether you are planning a large or small project, spring is a good time to get organized. One approach experts suggest is to start outside and begin at the top of the house and work your way to the bottom. Then move inside and do the same thing.

If you're not expecting a great windfall this tax season, here are some more cost-effective home improvement or maintenance projects that you may want to consider doing, or hiring a professional to do for you:

For the outside

Inspect your roof for winter damage such as leaks, missing or broken shingles or tiles.

Clean gutters and downspouts. Leaves and other debris will prevent water from flowing freely.

Paint the exterior. What areas need paint? How about a new trim color?

Remove stormwindows or doors and replace with clean screens.

Replace the front door. It can create a dramatic difference in your home's appearance.

Give your home a facelift with attractive enhancements such as new awnings and large planters overflowing with flowers.

Plant new flowers and shrubs. It is amazing how they can add energy and life to the leftover winter blahs.

Spread mulch around shrubs and flowerbeds to give your yard and garden a manicured look and save time weeding.

Build a deck to enhance your outdoor living experience.

Install a hot tub or cover your patio.

Clean and seal your deck to prepare for outdoor dining and entertaining.

Make plans to install a new sprinkler system, walkway or fence.

Ensure that the downspouts are directing water away from the foundation of your house.

Inspect, clean and repair outdoor furniture.

Make sure the tank on your gas grill is full so you are ready for a barbecue and guests.

For the inside

Install a skylight in your kitchen. This will save electricity by shedding natural light throughout the day.

Dust and clean light fixtures and ceiling fans.

Paint a few rooms to give your whole house a clean and refreshing feeling. Although the white-walled appearance remains popular, the current trend across the nation is bold and beautiful. Pick one or two rooms and paint a wall red, raspberry or deep blue.

Install new countertops in your kitchen.

Refinish your cabinets or install new ones. Oak is popular, affordable and durable.

Make sure all doors and windows close and lock properly.

Have your air conditioner or evaporative cooler serviced and replace all filters.

Have your air ducts and vents professionally cleaned.

Get your carpets professionally cleaned, or change your look entirely in a room or two by installing wood or tile floors.

Check for termites and insects, and call an exterminator if needed.

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