Home Renovation Style Guide

There are home remodeling projects and then there are Home Remodeling Projects.  Notice the difference there?  It doesn’t have to be a huge difference, something more subtle than bold to really make your Northern Virginia home remodeling project stick out among the others.  Here are some nifty, subtle ways to your home remodeling project the envy of the whole neighborhood.

Light it Up

Everybody hangs this on the walls, whether they’re pictures, posters or paintings.  An artful way to illuminate framed paintings and prints is to use a wall mounted lamp shining specifically on your framed wall-candy.  Go get a good idea about what I’m talking about, check out this Ralph Lauren Home’s picture lamp from their Anette line, and recalls classic library lighting. The lamp measures 2″ high x 16″ wide and extends up to 12″ off the wall.   It comes in natural brass (seen in this picture) bronze and polished-nickel finishes.

Carpet from a Box, Not a Barrel

Made from recycled nylon fiber, Flor’s Roadside Attraction carpet squares have the look of sisal or sea grass, with the advantage of being soft under your feet. The 20″-sq. tiles can be arranged so that the weave forms a variety of geometric patterns. Frost, shown, is one of five neutral colors. Each tile is $16; custom sizing is available.

Is it Junk or Is it Art?

Who says you need to find the world’s greatest Picasso or Rembrandt painting to hang in your formal living room?  Go to your local flea market, starving artist festival or antique shop to find a painting that has the same color tones as your walls or your furniture and it will fit right in.  Your guests don’t care who painted it, just so long as it fits with the room.

Border Wars

The Caumont architrave, left, is made from jesmonite and adds a playful frame to a window, door, or wall. The plaster Linear Structure architrave, middle, and crown, right, have an elegant pattern of crisscrossing angles. Both collections can be used outdoors and may be custom sized. Prices range from $45 to $60 per linear sq. ft.

And there you have it.  Keep these useful tips handy on your next home remodeling project and you will be sure to find that these little improvements will make the biggest difference.

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On the Road to Housing Recovery

Pieces are in place for the housing industry to continue on its road to recovery.  However, there are plenty of uncertainties that can derail the market, according to NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.

Yun told more than 800 attendees at the CRE Finance Council annual conference in Washington, D.C. last month that for the last four years home sales have been essentially flat, at roughly 4.2 million homes.  Good news though, NAR is forecasting a solid increase by the end of 2012 to about 4.6 million sales.

The reason: affordability remains at an all-time high, interest rates remain low, foreign buyers and investors remain interested in residential real estate, and the U.S. economy is strengthening, albeit modestly.

At the same time, corporations continue to sit on strong profits, the stock market is still heading up, and inflation remains relatively subdued.  Even more encouraging for the housing market is that rental rates are rising.  Home prices nationally have appeared to stabilize and all major home price trackers show prices going up in many areas, a trend that should help boost confidence among buyers and sellers.

The improvement in the U.S. economy remains modest at best, job gains still have a long way to go before the U.S. makes up for the 8 million jobs lost during the recession, home mortgage lending remains tight, and the federal budget deficit continues to weigh down on the country’s prospects.

The other area of uncertainty is what Washington will do.  Until the real estate industry gets clarity on the rules and legislation coming down the pike in the next year, lenders are unlikely to restore their underwriting standards to something more normal.

For example, the qualified residential mortgage (QRM) rule: will regulators publish a rule next year with a minimum down payment requirement on “safe” loans?  Will other provisions implementing the massive Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law from two years ago chill lenders’ willingness to lend?  What tax law changes, if any, will Congress talk about over the next year?

The bottom line: Despite all the favorable pieces in place for a meaningful housing recovery, the economy continues to be beset by uncertainty, and that’s leaving it an open question how much the housing market can recover in the next year.

Project of the Month

Every month, Elite Home Remodeling will highlight a past project to showcase some of the best home remodeling practices in the Northern Virginia area.  This month, Elite will be highlighting some major renovations to a laundry/mud room in Oakton.

Oakton Laundry/Mud Room Renovations

The picture above shows the renovations done to the laundry/mud room.  The goal of this project was to create as much storage space as possible while creating a beautiful and designer space.

Oakton Laundry/Mud Room Renovations

One of the best parts of the project was the new granite counter tops and backsplash added to the new cabinets.

Oakton Laundry/Mud Room Renovations

These fantastic floor-to-ceiling pantry cabinets actually sit up on an 8″ riser.

Oakton Laundry/Mud Room Renovations

Look at all of these cabinets and drawers!

Oakton Laundry/Mud Room Renovations

The counter top actually extends beyond the cabinets.  To support the counter top, a metal support bar had to be installed to hold up the counter top.

Oakton Laundry/Mud Room Renovations

A laundry room wouldn’t be complete without a sink.

Oakton Laundry/Mud Room Renovations

A few wall cabinets attached to a box-out steel column make use of all nooks and crannies.

Be sure to come back in September to check out the next project of the month!

Emergency Services

This past weekend, the D.C. metro area was hit with severe thunderstorms, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage.  Not only does Elite Home Remodeling provide award winning home remodeling services, we also offer 24-hour emergency board-up and tarp-up services for those suffering from storm damage.  Be sure to call Elite today at 703-272-8205 to learn more.

24-Hour Emergency Services

Don’t let this picture scare you.  Elite Home Remodeling offers FREE roofing inspections to all those affected by the severe thunderstorms in the metro D.C. area.  Whether you just have a few leaks or whether you have an entire oak tree in your living room, Elite can provide immediate care.

Elite Home Remodeling offers some of the best restoration and mitigation services of any contractor in the metro D.C. area.  Other local contractors turn to us when they need emergency services, shouldn’t you do the same?  Call Elite today to find out more.

Home Values Rising

The following article is a special report from Zillow.

Zillow issued a released Friday reporting that both national home values and rents rose in the month of April.

According to the April Zillow Real Estate Market Reports, national home values rose 0.7% in April to a Zillow Home Value Index of $147,300.  This is the largest monthly increase in home values since January 2006, and it makes April the second month in a row in which home values climbed up.

Zillow also reported that rents rose from March to April, increasing by 1.6%, according to the Zillow Rent Index.  Of the 178 markets covered by Zillow, 78% experienced a rise in rents.

The Miami-Fort Lauderdale and Phoenix metro areas saw the biggest increases in home values, rising 1.6 and 1.9 percent, respectively.  Values continued to decrease in hard-hit markets like Atlanta, where home values fell 0.7%.

“The housing market continues to show positive signs, with home values increasing significantly in April,” said Dr. Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow.  “The recovery is moving in the right direction, but we caution that negative equity will cast a long shadow over the housing market.  With almost one-third of homeowners with mortgages underwater and unable to sell their homes, inventory is having a hard time keeping up with increasing demand in many areas.  We’ll continue to watch this signal as increasing home values turn from a blip into a trend.”

Foreclosures also continued to decline in April, with 6.8 out of every 10,000 homes being foreclosed across the U.S.  That figure was down from 8 out of every 10,000 in March.

Home Remodeling Myths

The following article is a guest contribution from Trulia.

Not all home improvements are created equal.  Even in a seller’s market, it’s important that homeowners make the right investments that will yield higher returns.  Check out a list of the top 10 myths compiled from the expert real estate analysts Trulia has to offer.

1. Any remodeling project will add value to your home.

While many remodeling projects will add value to a home, some can be seen as a negative by future buyers.  For instance, combining two smaller bedrooms to create one larger bedroom may better fit one homeowner’s lifestyle today, but it may cause the home to lose value in the eyes of a future buyer who needs the two separate rooms.

2. Buying the highest-quality materials attracts more buyers.

Installing high-end materials may seem like a wise decision, but it can backfire.  For instance, using the most expensive tile in a bathroom may create an impressive appearance, but value-conscious buyers may opt for a more affordable home if the seller has over-improved compared to others in the neighborhood.

3. Adding square footage always adds value.

A better way to think about this statement is to insert the word useable into the sentence.  Finished attics and basements – even if considered liveable by local standards – may not be attractive to a buyer if they are not finished to the same standards as the rest of the home.

4. Colors and textures – safe and simple is better.

Keeping a home “vanilla” so buyers can choose their own style and décor might be a safe bet, but it ignores the fact that most buyers just don’t have the ability to visualize the home differently.  Without splashes of color and mixtures of texture, sellers can lose value to others that have taken the time to consult with an interior designer.

5. Inside improvements are better than outside improvements.

Not necessarily.  If a home’s exterior has been neglected or doesn’t offer a good curb appeal, a buyer might stop there – and then the seller’s efforts on on the inside may not net them any more dollars.  To get the biggest bang for their remodeling buck, sellers should start from the outside and work their way in.

6. Adding a bedroom is better than adding a bathroom.

It depends on the starting point.  If a seller only has one or two bedrooms to start with, adding a bedroom before adding a second bath is probably a wise choice since most buyers are more attracted to three-bedroom homes.  On the other hand, if the home already has three bedrooms and only one bath, the sellers’ next investment should probably be in a new bathroom.

7. Paint hides a multitude of sins.

Dry rot?  Fungus damage?  Mold problems?  Carpenter ants?  Termite issues?  Nothing a can of paint can’t fix, right?  Wrong!  Not only does this practice violate disclosure laws in most states, it can set sellers up for liability after the sale, as most buyers will want the sellers to foot the bill for these hidden issues.

8. Converting a garage to living space is a great trade-off.

Nope.  A garage conversion is almost always viewed negatively by future home buyers unless the sellers replace the lost garage with another parking and storage space of equal size.

9. Sellers can save money by doing improvements themselves.

For some homeowners, wiring a new lighting fixture or plumbing a new dishwasher is a no-brainer, but for others it may end up costing more later if they have to have the work redone by a professional.  Another consideration is local and state laws regarding remodeling work.  In many states if a buyer has purchased a home to remodel and re-sell, they must either hold a contractor’s license or hire a contractor to do the work for them.

10. Pools add value to your home.

This is only true in areas where pools are must-have amenities.  In most areas of the country, pools have more limited appeal – and the idea of maintaining a pool for ten months out of the year when it can’t be enjoyed won’t appeal to most buyers.

 

Knowing these top home-improvement myths will allow you to help your seller clients choose the right remodeling projects.  But don’t stop there.  To keep your pulse on the amenities that are coveted most in your market, talk to local remodeling professionals, contractors, and home-improvement specialists on a regular basis.

Water Efficient Home Remodeling

Everyone talks about water efficiency and rebates, but not many home owners property managers realize the huge savings and environmental benefits associated with upgrading to more water efficient fixtures.  Anyone can easily cash in on cutting water usage while helping their community become more environmentally friendly.

If you’re hesitant about the upfront cost of retrofitting, don’t fret!  There are plenty of government rebates that allow you to receive financial assistance to implement water-efficient systems.  Here are some of the best ideas available for even the biggest water hogs:

Toilets.  Replace your old toilets with a dual flush or low-flow toilets.  These dual flush toilets can reduce the typical 1.60 gallons per flush to a reduced 1.28 gpf.  If you replace your toilet, you are eligible for a $75-$100 rebate.  Just this simple fix will save you $1,000 in water and sewer charged over 10 years.

Elite Home Remodeling - Dual Flush Toilet

Laundry.  Apartment communities can save 330% more water, or 8,216 gallons of water, per year per unit by using a common-area laundry room instead of an in-unit washing machine.  Giving tenants the responsibility of using community laundry facilities make the tenants use the machines smarter and more efficiently.

Irrigation.  Rain water is free, why not utilize it as much as possible?  Install smart controllers that will turn off when its raining and only turn on when the grounds really need watering.  Plus, be sure to install drip sprinkler heads to reduce the overall cost of irrigation.

Showers and Faucets.  According to a recent study, approximately 73% of water used in a typical shower is hot water.  Low flow shower heads and faucet aerators can reduce water consumption.  Reducing water consumption not only reduces the amount of water used, which saves overall water usage, but it also reduces hot water usage.  The hot water usage is especially important as this is the most costly water.  Installing high-efficiency shower heads will save about 7,800 gallons of water per year in an average household!  That is an absolutely amazing number.

Elite Home Remodeling - Low Flow Shower Head

Kitchens. Energy Star dishwasher models save both water and energy. There are cash incentives up to $3,000 for replacing inefficient kitchen equipment with water-efficient equipment.

Be sure to give Elite Home Remodeling a call today to find out how we can help you with your new renovations and remodeling projects as well as how we can help you save the environment while saving money!

 

The Most Important Home Remodeling Factors

We all know the economy hasn’t been doing well the past few years.  Most notably, the housing and construction industries have suffered tremendous setbacks.  However, after several lean years, the home remodeling industry is starting pick up not only in certain areas around the country but also nationwide as a whole.  This is in part thanks to a slight rise in existing home sales and existing home sale prices and continued low interest rates.

Elite Home Remodeling - Siding Materials

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) residential remodeling expenditures for owner-occupied improvements are growing nationally.  Spending for 2011 topped $107.4 billion, up 3.5% from 2010.  NAHB also tracks an index of remodeling contractors’ confidence and this index hit its highest level in five years in the last quarter of 2011.

Although overall spending has steadily increased, homeowners are spending more cautiously than they were before the economy crashed in 2008.  This is causing homeowners to focus more on projects that most need renovating to keep up with modern trends and to keep up the overall value of the homes.  Projects like kitchens and bathrooms are particular good investments in today’s remodeling market.

According to a Boston Globe report “between 2003 and 2008, there was a lot of upper-end activity.  People were doing expensive kitchen projects.  What we hear now is that they’re not gutting everything, but picking and choosing aspects to update.”

This particular trend is especially true for homeowners in the Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Maryland markets.  Homeowners want to make sure that they are getting the absolute best bang for their buck and are much more specific and demanding of where their dollars are being spent.  This is a product of homeowners focusing most on what they need versus what they want.

Elite Home Remodeling - Project Management

Homeowners are also doing much more homework when it comes to selecting the type of fixtures and appliances they need to add to their remodeling projects.  Homeowners aren’t looking so much at what they want to install but what is best for the overall value of their home and what is mostly likely to sell.  Most homeowners are still a little timid about having their house stand out too much as the market is still tilted towards home buyers.

Fortunately, as the market and home owners evolve, so too does Elite Home Remodeling.  We make sure to stay up to date with all of the latest trends and developments in the residential remodeling market and we make sure to give our award-winning service to every home owner we work with.  Be sure to visit our website to see how Elite Home Remodeling can help you today!

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