Home Improvement Archives - realestateexperts.net
Time for a Toilet Upgrade

Time for a Toilet Upgrade

Upgrade Your ToiletWhether it is a cosmetic or a mechanical reason for upgrading a toilet, you may not know all the choices that are involved to choose the right one for your home.  The current toilet may have cracks or leaks in the bowl or tank.  It could be the aggravation of constant clogging or inefficient flushing.  Maybe there is damage in the porcelain bowl or built-up mineral deposits that are clogging the inlet holes or siphon tube.

If frequent repairs have you on a first name basis with the plumber, it may be time to consider replacing the toilet.  There are a lot of things to consider and the following list may help you sort through the choices.

  • Round, oval or compact oval … There are two basic shapes of toilets: round and oval.  The round bowl requires less space and are less expensive.  The oval or elongated tend to be more comfortable but require more space from the wall than round ones.  Most manufacturers produce a compact oval model also.
  • One-piece, two-piece and wall hung … Manufacturers make one-piece models that mold the tank and bowl into one unit.  These can be a little more expensive, but they take up less space.  The two-piece with separate tank and bowl are more common.  The wall hung requires less space and make the room look larger, but installation will be more expensive.
  • Height … Standard toilet height is 15 inches.  An alternative to the standard is a comfort height which is more like a chair at 17-19 inches tall.  This can be an advantage for older and taller people as well as those with a mobility problem.
  • Trapway – The trapway is a channel from the bottom of the bowl to the drainpipe that also keeps gas entering the home from the sewer.  While the trapway shows on the outside of most models, there are skirted or concealed models available for a more aesthetic appearance.
  • Single or dual flush … Single flush toilets use the same volume of water each time it is flushed.  Dual flush toilets have two options for flushing liquid or solid waste.  This gives the user the ability to conserve water when appropriate.
  • Water per flush … In an effort to save water, in 1995 the Department of Energy required toilets to use 1.6 gallons per flush.  Since then, California and Georgia, increased the restriction to 1.28 gpf which saves 20% more water.
  • Gravity-feed or pressure assisted – For four hundred years, gravity has been used to move the water through a flushable toilet bowl to eliminate the waste.  As water restrictions were added, pressure assisted toilets were introduced to assist the lower volume of water.  A sealed cylindrical tank inside the ceramic toilet tank provides the additional pressure.  These types of toilets are nosier than conventional flush types.

Once you’ve decided on what features are important, you can shop brands that fit your needs.  If you’re curious to what kind of a job it is to install it, there are lots of videos on YouTube that will show you in detail what to expect.  Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, you’ll understand the process more.

Why Install Solar Panels on Your Home?

Why Install Solar Panels on Your Home?

Installing solar panels on your home offers many benefits—some you might not be aware of.

Why install solar panels on your home?

When you install solar panels, they become your home’s energy source. You can wipe out not only your current energy bill, but also any future increases to that energy bill. Solar energy is clean, renewable, reduces pollution, and reduces your carbon footprint.

There’s one more benefit to using solar energy, but time is running out to take advantage of it. 2019 is the last year to take advantage of the 30% federal income tax credit you get if you install solar panels. Next year, that tax credit will be reduced to 26%. In 2021, it gets reduced to 21%. Then in 2022, it drops all the way to 10%.

In years past, some states offered additional tax credits, but that’s not available in North Carolina anymore. If you live in an area where Duke Energy is your utility company, however, they offer a 40% to 50% rebate for using solar energy.

Now that you know the benefits, what about the cost? In the US, the average cost of installing solar panels after the 30% tax credit is between $10,000 and $14,000. For example, let’s say you install panels that cost $20,000 and your yearly federal income tax bill is $7,000. Since $20,000 times 30% equals $6,000, you’d only owe $1,000 on your federal income tax.

There are a lot of other factors to consider to calculate your exact cost like what your total energy needs are, which panels are most appropriate for your home, which system you plan on installing, etc. The best way to calculate these expenses is to contact a qualified solar installation company, and in the Triangle area, I can’t speak highly enough of Southern Energy Management. If you contact them, they’ll come out to your house and give you a full cost analysis. To find out more, check out their website southern-energy.com.

If you’d like to know more about the benefits of installing solar panels or you have any other real estate questions I can answer, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d love to help you.

Things to Think About When Replacing Your AC Unit — What is SEER?

Things to Think About When Replacing Your AC Unit — What is SEER?


Today, let’s talk about the things to keep in mind when it comes to replacing your air conditioning unit.

First, what is a SEER rating? Well, SEER stands for Seasonal Energy-Efficiency Ratio, and this basically measures the air intake and outtake of your unit and provides a rating system to weigh how efficiently it runs. Most air conditioners have a SEER rating of around 13 or 14, depending on that state’s requirements, with the maximum being 21.

I’ve personally replaced all the systems in my own home, with the exception of one little unit that is now 27 years old. It still runs, but given its age, I figure that it’s getting to be time to replace it, especially since it’s not all that efficient.

I had my trusted heating and air company come out and look at my systems, but they didn’t even price out a 14 SEER system; they said that a 14 SEER unit would eventually go out, and they instead gave me prices for 15 and 16 SEER units.

That’s when I decided to get a second opinion, but the second company to look at my units didn’t bother pricing out a 14 SEER unit, either. When I asked them why, they told me that a 14 SEER unit was exactly what I needed. The reason they gave me was related to my furnace—it was old, but not so old that it needed to be replaced. It was, however, so old that it didn’t have a variable speed motor.

This second company told me that yes, I could replace my unit with a 15, 16, or even a 21 SEER unit, but if I did, I wouldn’t get any benefit from it. That’s when the bells started going off in my head: The company that I’d been using for 15 years has been withholding information and trying to upsell me!

Since I got two different opinions on what I should do, I decided to get a third and fourth opinion. I posed the same question to companies three and four: “Does a 15 or 16 SEER system match my furnace?” Both companies were completely honest with me and told me no and that I should stick with a 14 SEER system.

Overall, the price for the replacement system went from $5,200 for a 16 SEER system to $3,150 for a 14 SEER—that’s a huge amount of savings!

After that experience, I went online to do some research. I found all kinds of information on the SEER rating, energy efficiency, and calculating cost-benefit ratios, but nothing about matching the SEER rating of a unit to the type of furnace you have.

In the end, if you want the efficiency of a 16 SEER system and you have a slightly older furnace that’s not really ready to be removed, then you’ll actually need to replace your entire furnace, too. Do you want to spend the money to replace two systems when you really only need to replace one?

The moral of today’s story is that you need to ask a lot of questions, even if you’re working with a company that you’ve known and trusted for years.

If you have any questions about this or other real estate topics, please feel free to reach out to me. I would love to hear from you.

Home Renovations in the Fall and Return on Investment

Home Renovations in the Fall and Return on Investment

Fall is a great time to consider home renovations.  Why? The real estate market tends to slow down as the cooler months come in. And thanks to our amiable fall weather, renovating and making home improvements in the Fall is feasible.

Consider making renovations during the fall, even though there’s a bit of a scramble to get things finished in time for the holidays. But with that being said, if you’re working to get your house spic-and-span to get it on the market for the spring, it isn’t a bad idea to let the builders in during this time. Especially as most projects have a deadline before the holidays, making builders and contractors a little more open for scheduling. If you’re considering new construction, building an addition, or a kitchen renovation project, Fall might be the perfect time.

If you are considering making home improvements, one of the primary considerations will be the potential return on investment.

Let’s Talk Return on Investment

Remodeling and renovation projects are two great ways to improve the living quality in your home. They also help improve price, comfort, and value of your home! Who doesn’t like the sound of that?

Here are some common types of home renovations that will give you an idea of what sorts of updates people might be interested in.

Home Improvements

So, it’s pretty easy to see that painting is the most common renovation project. What’s fortunate about that is painting is relatively easy to do, fairly inexpensive, and it’s something you can do yourself.

In the Southeast, flooring renovations are also very common.  Buyers love hardwood floors or even bamboo.

What Should You Spend?

What you might not like the sound of is the organization or financial burden of actually getting a head start on these projects. It can be disconcerting to think about much much money you’re going to put into a project, for sure. But, where there’s a will there’s a way!

It’s important to recognize why and what you’re spending your money on, too. It makes a little more sense to shell out some money if you’re prepping to sell. The average price of improvements people make on their homes before selling hits almost $6,000.   We have worked with clients that spent a lot more than this.  Planning to prepare your budget around a similar number will save you from overspending on renovations, or not doing enough.  Staying ahead of the curve while you are living in your home and improving it along the way, makes putting your house on the market to sell that much easier.

Average amount of money spent on renovation projects

If your home renovations are planned with the intent to sell at a later date, it’s best to focus on what you can do to simply update the look of your home instead. Aesthetic updates are least likely to thin out your wallet, with the average price lingering just under $3,000. While this is a huge motivator for most people to jump on the update wagon, thinking about what you’re renovating your home for, how much the ROI will be, and what’s in your budget will lead you to more satisfaction.

Not to mention, bang for your buck. By sticking with your budget, you won’t over spend and you’ll see the best results for your renovations.

Real Estate Experts

Real Estate ExpertsA trusted real estate professional will be able to walk through your home, and make suggestions as to what kind of improvements would increase your home’s value. They’ll be able to help you decide which projects are worth your time, budget, and attention. With our expert staging advice, collective real estate knowledge and history in the area, Real Estate Experts can help you discover the best renovations to make on your home.

If you would like more information about major or minor home improvements and their expected ROI, contact us today at 919-928-5131 or send us an email to  [email protected]. Visit us online at realestateexperts.net.

Ready to Sell Your House? Consider The Best Home Improvements For Resale

Ready to Sell Your House? Consider The Best Home Improvements For Resale

best home improvements for resale

Owning a home is one of the biggest investments you will ever make.  When we work with buyers, we are not only trying to help you find a home you love, we want to make sure you are making a good investment as well.  The same thinking should be applied to when making home improvements.  We love it when our clients ask our opinion on the best home improvement for resale.  It is always important to not only do something you will want to live with, but keeping an eye upgrades that will help sell your house.

Here are 7 home renovations to consider that will give you a good return on investment and won’t cost you an arm and a leg. You’ll be glad you made these home updates when it comes time to sell your home.

1. Don’t let your utility bills soar — Increase the Energy Efficiency of Your Home

You can get an energy audit to check out how sustainable your home is. A lot of utility companies will offer them, so why not take advantage of the service?

Electricity prices can be high, and utility prices a turnoff for potential buyers. Even though in comparison, North Carolina’s residential electricity rates aren’t in the top ten highest… there’s always a way to make a home more attractive to a potential buyer. Help them out by considering appliances that save energy.

Buyers in all price ranges look at utility costs.  This is something buyers factor into their monthly payments.  Making such improvements as adding additional insulation; getting a high efficiency furnace when it is time to replace your HVAC system; installing LED lights throughout your home; and getting Energy Star appliances are just a few types of home improvements that are good for you the home owner but are also great upgrades to sell your house.

2. Renovating Your Kitchen With Give You The Greatest Bang For Your Buck

The kitchen is a serious selling point for potential buyers. Gone are the days of simplistic kitchens with generic countertops, bland cabinets, and out of date appliances. Hey, a double oven is a beautiful thing and stainless steel is drool-worthy.  If you have space for an island, buyers love these too.

Buyers like kitchens that are open to a living area and buyers in all price ranges like granite and stainless steel appliances.

Consider checking out some of the latest kitchen trends (is granite out as a countertop?) to make sure your house will have some allure in the kitchen. Updating your kitchen can add some value to your home, and bump up the price before you sell.

Besides, who doesn’t love a beautiful backsplash?

3. Ask Siri

Smart technology has been making its way into homes for a while now. If you’re about to put your home on the market, it’s a great idea to look into what sorts of smart updates you can make.

Replacing your thermostat? Kill two birds with one stone by installing a smart thermostat that saves energy. Lights, doors, security systems, and home assistants like Siri or Amazon’s Alexa give your home a high-tech feel that appeals to a generation who grew up with smart phones.

4. Remodel Your Bathroom

updatesBathrooms are a source of serious return on investment, they are second best to kitchens.  If you update your bathroom while you’re getting ready to list your house, there’s a great chance your investment will pay off.  New lighting, fixtures, vanity tops and cool mirrors all count. Sufficient storage space is important as well.  If you can afford to upgrade your tile, that counts too but you might just need to work with what  you have.  That is ok too.

Consider the condition of your shower, too. It’s tough to get rid of lime stains and mold. If you can refinish your shower and tub, it’s probably best to do so.

Bathtubs, showers and vanity tops can be reglazed!  This is a great way to save money and have things look really fresh.  If you want to know more about this, just give us a call or shoot us an email.  We are happy to explain this and share picture.

Alternatively, consider remodeling your bathroom with a theme. This year, the “Mediterranean” theme has gone viral.

5. Pay Attention to the Attic

home updatesHere’s a surprising little statistic: fiberglass attic insulation comes with over 100% ROI. Who knew, right? This update not only lowers your heating and electricity bills, but it also gives your attic a refined look. Face it, sometimes we neglect our attics. This means insulation might show wear and tear, which is something a lot of potential buyers might see as a turnoff.

While you’re up there, can you install solar vents? They’re less expensive than installing an attic ceiling fan, and worth the consideration to improve house circulation.

6. Boost Yard Beauty

Curb appeal is huge. If you’ve got a beautiful garden, stunning lawn, and new coat of paint on your home, you bet it’s going to attract more people! It pays off to consider updating the exterior of your house before you’re ready to sell. You can’t make a first impression twice!

Teaming up with a professional landscaping service will make your home look picture perfect from the road. What’s more? It’s know to boost your home’s worth up to 17%.

7.  The Very Biggest Bang For Your Buck is Paint and Carpet

Modern paint colors and new carpet go such a long way.  These are two of the best home improvements for resale.  Don’t use too many colors in your house and make sure the color palate all works together.  Today, the hottest colors are in the gray family and those colors that work with gray.  Many people don’t know about Greige.  What is this?  It is a color that depending on the light can look towards the grays or the tans.  They are wonderful colors because they are versatile.

Real Estate Experts

Unsure of what updates to make before selling your home? Or, alternatively, do you need a hand finding the best contractors for the jobs? Real Estate Experts is here to help. Visit us online.  Call us today at 919-928-5131or e-mail us at  [email protected] for additional information.

 

Do Your Windows Have Moisture or Are They Foggy? — Learn What To Do About Windows With Broken Seals?

Do Your Windows Have Moisture or Are They Foggy? — Learn What To Do About Windows With Broken Seals?

Whether you’re selling your home or buying one, there’s a good chance a home inspection needs to occur. Typically, the buyer requests the home inspection. It is very common to find windows in the home with broken seals.

The home inspection phase is critical. There are a variety of common home inspection issues you might run across, but they’re not necessarily deal breakers. The good news is many issues in home inspections can be sorted out beforehand, or even remedied before the buyer sees the issues. Getting your home inspected before listing it for sale can be the best preventative medicine in many cases.  See our related post on the benefits of getting a pre-sale home inspection.

However, it’s important to know what you can deal with, what you want to walk away from, and how to go about deciding either factor. During home inspections, it is fairly normal to see loose outlet receptacles, a double tapped circuit breaker, deteriorated caulk and grout, as well as broken window seals.

Broken Window Seals

broken window seals

Courtesy of Randr Glass , broken seal replacement

When you’re looking at houses, you might run across properties where the windows are hazy, or even foggy. Failed window seals aren’t signals something is wrong with the structure; fortunately, they are a cosmetic issue above all else. While you might not be very concerned about the window panes, there’s good reason to ask for the glass to be replaced.

Most window seals will last 10-15 years, but many fail thanks to age. There are a variety of other reasons window seals can fail, too. Other reasons might include movement, deteriorating framework, pressure washing, things hitting the windows, and pressure changes due to the weather.

When the window seals are broken, there are several signs. If you can see fogging between the panes, you have reason to believe the seal in the window is broken. They might have water droplets between the panes as well.  This is also an indication that the window seal is broken.

Concerned About Broken Window Seals?

As a buyer, there are many ways you can remedy broken window seals, especially with the help of your realtor or buyer’s agent. The real estate professional can advise you on how to proceed. This includes negotiation with the seller regarding who will pay for window repairs.

Even though foggy windows aren’t eye-catching in a good way, they’re not going to harm the utility of your windows. They’re also not related to structural issues in your home, and they shouldn’t affect your utility bills. Which is to say, don’t worry about broken window seals running up your heating bill in the winter. This cosmetic issue can be fixed.

Here’s a quick run down of questions to ask regarding the windows with broken seals. These questions can help you determine who will fix the windows as well as the cost.

  • Are the windows under warranty?
  • What is the size of the window pane?
  • Are they double panes?
  • Location of the window: is it first floor, second floor?
  • How easy is it to reach said window?

he best situation for everyone is if the windows and/or glass is under warranty.  We just had 19 windows replaced under the window warranty at a minimal expense to our client.  If there is no warranty, you should have a reputable glass company like Tarheel Glass or Rice’s Glass come measure the windows and give you a quote for the cost to replace the glass.  This quote should be given to the seller with the buyer’s request for repairs.  When having glass replaced, make sure that the new glass has solid rather than hollow spacers.  This is the new manufacturing standard and the glass should hold up longer.

Real Estate Experts

If you’re considering selling or  renting your home we are happy to do a walk through to let you know what you need to do to get ready for the market.  Real Estate Experts’ home sales and  property management teams can help you assess necessary repairs.

If you have any questions about your windows, or broken seals on windows in a potential home, we can help you assess what your options are. As always, feel free to reach out to us at 919-813-6449 or send us an email to  [email protected] to find out more about living in the Triangle, and visit realestateexperts.net to view current homes for sale in the area.

 

Pin It on Pinterest