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Austin Home Remodeling Projects With Top-Dollar Returns

by Rebecca Shahan

Not every home improvement project brings the same return on the dollar. Certain improvements will yield a larger return when you sell your home.

Your home may be in the perfect location, with the right price and a perfect lot. But what about the house itself? Maybe not quite as perfect?

So where do you start in your improvement endeavors? How about with data? Data is that friend who tells you like it really is.

The “Remodeling Impact Report” from the National Association of REALTORS® has tons of data on how much improvements cost — and how much of those costs you can recoup.

Here are the best five home remodeling projects with equity-building might:

New Roof

If you find yourself sprinting for the buckets when it starts to sprinkle, getting a new roof should be your No. 1 to-do. Measuring rainfall from the indoors isn’t cool.

The cost: $7,500

The return: 109% at $8,150

Considering it’s what’s between you and the elements, it’s a no-brainer.

Not sure if you need a new roof? Signs you might include:

  • Shingles are missing, curling up, or covered in moss.
  • Gritty bits from the asphalt shingles are coming out the downspout.
  • The sun’s shining through your attic.
  • You notice stains on ceilings and walls.
  • Your energy bill is sky high.

Hardwood Floors

You flip on the TV to see that your fave home reno-ing duo is it at again, flipping a ranch that’s stuck in the ‘80s.

They make it to the living room, pull back the dingy carpet to reveal hardwood floors in great condition. They’re psyched — and for good reason.

Hardwood floors are a timeless classic. Refinishing is a no-brainer. Neither will you regret adding new hardwood floors if you have none.

The cost to refinish: $2,500

The return: 100% at $2,500

The cost to buy new: $5,500

The return: 91% at $5,000

New Garage Door

No surprise that a garage door replacement project made it onto this #winning list — a new garage door provides a big boost for your home’s curb appeal at a relatively modest cost.

The cost: $2,300 (for a two-door)

The return: 87% at $2,000

There are options galore, too. A host of factory-finish colors, wood-look embossed steel, and glass window insets are just some of the possibilities that’ll give your doors bankable personality.

Better Insulation

Insulation is tucked out of sight, so it’s often out of mind — that is, until you’re forced to wear your parka indoors because it’s sooo darn cold.

The cost: $2,100

The return: 76% at $1,600 (plus the added savings on heating and cooling costs!)

New Siding

In any color! And never paint again.

Those are two of the three benefits of vinyl siding. The third, of course, is your home’s value.

But if long-time homeowners look at you funny when you mention vinyl siding, just tell them that today’s vinyl is way better than what they remember because of fade-resistant finishes and transferable lifetime warranties.

The cost: $13,350

The return: 75% at $10,000

Want fiber-cement siding instead? It also shows a strong payback of 83%. Although it’s the pricier option — you’ll spend about $18,000 with a payback of about $15,000 — it has one thing vinyl still lacks — the perception of quality.

And quality matters. Quality is the one of the most important traits that home buyers focused on when house hunting.

Check back on our blog twice a week for more real estate news, ideas, and local events in Austin and Lake Travis. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.

Staircase Makeovers That Most Any DIYer Can Tackle

by Rebecca Shahan

When it comes to DIY home improvement, usually the staircase gets overlooked. Yet if you take a second look at your stairs, you'll see that they can really make a difference in the appearance of your home.

What are some ways you can spruce up those old stairs and bring up the appeal to potential buyers?

These DIY staircase projects can get you started.

The Look of Tile Using Stencils

You can't beat the look and classic feel of black and white. And there's no material more dignified than tile.

You don't need to get a loan to cover each riser in custom tile. You can get some paint and a stencil for the same effect.

If you have a longer staircase, consider stenciling every other riser. You want to delight climbers, not make them dizzy.

A Pretty Pattern With Chalk Paint

A personalized staircase doesn't need to take over the interior design of the house.

You can use chalk paint to give your stairs a soft, subtle look. The pretty pattern is unique enough to feel custom, but the light colors and chalky finish prevent it from overpowering the room.

And here’s a tip for any time you’re painting a staircase: Consider leaving the banister unpainted for a nice pop of contrast.

An Eclectic Look With Real Tile

You can also use tile to give your stairs a great look and offer more durability.

Creating alternating sets of pattern and complementary colors on each riser makes for a one-of-a-kind staircase that’s anything but redundant. While trimming tile to fit stair risers might be above some DIYers’ pay grade, this personalized look could be worth flagging down an expert to pull off.

A Way to Show Off Your Reading Obsession

Have a specific obsession? Decals are a great way for your staircase to share your fandom.

Peel-and-stick decals can be customized with your choice of words or images. Bibliophiles can choose book titles like these, but thanks to the wide world of available decals, you can also find favorite sayings, patterns, characters. Just make sure not to do this if you plan on selling your home soon. This is for those of you who want to customize a home you plan to stay in for a while or just bought.

When working with decals, just make sure to read the fine print. These decals, for example, are just the lettering of the book titles, so painting the risers is a project you’d need to take on first.

A Stair Runner Out of Floor Runners

Standard stair runners are as snooze-worthy as the stairs they cover. Don’t settle if you can’t find one that makes your heart dance.

ouble-check you’ve picked a rug that’s narrower than your stairs. Rugs come in such a blinding variety of dimensions, it’s easy to pick the wrong one.

Check back on our blog twice a week for more real estate news, ideas, and local events in Austin and Lake Travis. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.

Remove Wallpaper Without Removing Your Sanity

by Rebecca Shahan

Most people would do just about anything to avoid having to remove wallpaper. It's rarely a task that makes it to the top 10 "fun things to do" list.

But let's face it, when wallpaper needs to be removed, it's got to go. What are some ways to make sure that removing that dated wallpaper doesn't take your sanity with it?

Check to See If Your Walls Were Primed

Those who tell you they just ripped their wallpaper right off had the walls sealed with wallpaper primer. Hopefully your walls have the same preparation.

Priming was more common in the 1990s and prevented the wallpaper glue from soaking into the plaster and making the bond too tough.

You can check to see it your walls are primed by loosening a corner or seam with a putty knife and just pull. If it just comes off in a sheet, you're in luck!

With well-primed walls, dry stripping should work for the entire job and you could finish a room in a couple of hours at most.

Water Works Miracles

Thankfully, wallpaper glue is water based, so water works wonders in removing wallpaper if your walls aren't primed. It's a technique the pros use, it works so well.

Here’s what to do with water:

  • Score or perforate the paper and its backing in sections so water can soak through and loosen the glue. The pros recommend a scoring tool called the PaperTiger (under $20) because it doesn’t harm the wall.
  • Douse the perforated paper with hot water using a pump or compression sprayer. The big mistake most people make is using a regular old spray bottle or damp rag to wet the paper. This leads to hours of fruitless scraping because the paper and its backing don’t get sufficiently saturated. The sprayer, on the other hand, gives you the firepower to really soak the glue.
  • Let the paper soak for about 15 minutes and scrape it off with a putty knife.

It could take you six hours for an average room, but that’s way better than the days of effort it could take if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Avoid Chemical Strippers Because of the Fumes

Why do pros use chemical strippers if water works so well? Because it can dissolve glue faster than water. But the trade-off is the fumes. Plus, water is cheap, so it just makes more sense for DIY.

Don't Try the Fabric Softener Trick

Through the interweb grapevine, you may have heard that fabric softener (diluted with water) is a brag-worthy way to remove old wallpaper. But we couldn’t find a single expert who agrees.

Fabric softener just makes the process more complicated, smelly, and even messier than using just plain old water. You end up mixing glue with the chemicals from fabric softener. In addition, fabric softener may harm drywall.

So when it comes to removing wallpaper, the happiest journey (assuming your walls aren’t primed) involves water — and patience.

Check back on our blog twice a week for more real estate news, ideas, and local events in Austin and Lake Travis. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.

Keep Home Improvements From Destroying Your Budget

by Rebecca Shahan

Owning a home is an investment that, as we all know, will need repairs and improvements as the years go by. Many people prepare for the mortgage payment and other costs, but sudden repairs can catch anyone off guard. In fact, around 31% of homeowners don't set aside enough for home repairs.

What are some steps you can take to make sure you're ready for your next repair job or improvement project?

1. Always have a plan

Since there's many items on your to-do list as a homeowner, then logically you should make a real to-do list on paper or spreadsheet program to keep track of it all. Keep track of your regular maintenance items, such as filter replacements and gutter cleaning, as well as projects you want to take care of in the near future. Then make a list of larger updates you would like to do eventually.

Doing this will not only help you remember regular items to keep up, but you can prioritize repairs that will save money down the road. This list will also come in handy when you want to look back at repairs on particular items over the years to see if they justify replacement. And when you go to sell your home, the buyer will appreciate knowing when those items were taken care of.

2. Add to your emergency fund

Setting aside money for repairs is always a good idea, especially if you don't live in a new home. Having an emergency fund can help you take care of unexpected situations, or if you lose income. And you don't have to aim for the stars to start with. Setting aside as much as you can will add up over the months and years. There are also apps for your phone that can help set money aside.

3. Act quickly when it comes to repairs

Take care of a repair as soon as it pops up. Don't wait for the problem to get worse. For example, a leaky faucet can rot the subfloor. Fixing a faucet is far easier than replacing a floor.

4. Know your financing options

Sometimes a repair may exceed your cash on hand. Make a plan to take care of these larger repairs, such as borrowing from a bank or family member. Home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) are also financing options.

5. Consider doing it yourself

Younger homeowners tend to do projects themselves rather than hiring a pro. This can save hundreds on a project. But there's a risk in making huge mistakes that can cost more in the end. Make sure you can handle a project before you DIY.

6. If you go pro, do your research

There's nothing wrong with hiring a pro. But make sure that you research the pros in your area and get several estimates. Ask questions, such as how they intend to do the job, what the estimated timeline is, whether they’re insured and how much experience they have with projects like yours. Don’t simply go with the cheapest contractor to save Money. Yes, they could be the best person for the job, or you may wind up spending more to fix their mistakes.

Check back on our blog twice a week for more real estate news, ideas, and local events in Austin and Lake Travis. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.

Extending The Lifespan Of Your Roof

by Rebecca Shahan

The lifespan of a roof is affected by the workmanship and materials, along with weather conditions. But there are steps you can take to keep your rood in good condition longer. The roof is a major part of your home, and keeping it in good shape will save money in more ways than just the roof itself.

Avoiding Common Maintenance Issues

Small problems left unchecked can threaten the lifespan of a roof.

Here are some of the most common issues:

  • Sagging or overloaded gutters. Leaves and debris build up over time and can cause them to sag. Clean them to avoid water damage to the deck board and the boards under the gutter line.
  • Unattended roof debris. Branches and debris can especially build up during storms. Clean these regularly to prevent rot and other damage.
  • Unknown rot or weak spots. Every few years, get up on the roof or hire a professional to check the roof's condition up close and fix any issues.

Good Ventilation

Your attic can also affect the life of a roof. Poor ventilation can lead to many problems.

During the summer, a poorly ventilated attic can reach up to 160 degrees. This hot air can get through your insulation and heat up the rest of the home. This also affects the shingles, effectively frying them and leading to decay.

Insulating the Attic

Good insulation in your attic is also important to prolonging your roof's life. Insulating your attic properly will reduce the heat transfer and reflect the radiant heat away from your roof and adding to it's lifespan.

Mold and Moss

If you find mold on your roof, you can easily clean it with a diluted bleach solution. But if you don't, it won't affect the life of your roof. On the other hand, moss can trap moisture and lead to rot, so make sure you remove moss as soon as possible.

Preparing For Damage

No matter what you do, any roof will be damaged over time. Damage can really add up during storms. If you keep on top of the smaller issues as they happen, it can lead to better protection during inclement weather.

You also don't need a ladder to inspect your roof, just a pair of binoculars. If you notice anything amiss like missing, curling, or buckling shingles, arrange for a professional once-over.

Maintaining your roof is easy with a proactive approach. With proper attention, you can enjoy your roof for years to come.

Check back on our blog twice a week for more real estate news, ideas, and local events in Austin and Lake Travis. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.  

Home Repairs You Should Never Do Yourself

by Rebecca Shahan

Owning a home can be a pain at times. Home repairs can be expensive and at times, highly inconvenient. It might seem like a good idea to do a DIY on that annoying repair, but some fixes are better left to the pros. Here's a few examples for you to consider.

Electrical Repairs

Electrical repairs are at the top of the list. You might think calling in your relative or friend who's a "great handyman" to do the repair for you, but often that can cause more problems or dangers than it will solve. Electricians can be expensive, but that is because they've spent many years studying and training to get the job done safely for you and them.

Basement Makeover

A basement renovation might seem like a dream come true to a DIYer, but the basement is a very important part of a homes structure and mistakes, some possibly fatal, could occur. Even if it isn't fatal, it could wind up costing you far more than you bargained for.

Fun with Plumbing

Plumbing issues. Not a whole lot of fun to deal with one every day, leaving you tempted to take care of it yourself. You might think too, that plumbing, along with simple electrical repairs will be a walk in the park, but a fix done wrong can cause serious damage. To your home and wallet. So try calling a plumber. Why else are there at least a dozen in every town?

Gas Appliances

When it comes to gas appliances it could literally be an explosive situation if an appliance is not fixed and reconnected correctly during a repair. Similar to electrical repairs, if not done right, you could cause a leak, which could create major health problems and even a fire or explosion in your home or worse. So when it come to your gas appliances, don't DIY. Call a professional.

When it comes to health, safety and caring for your home, erring on the side of caution is always the best option.

Check back on our blog twice a week for more real estate news, ideas, and local events in Austin and Lake Travis. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.  

How to Save on Granite Countertops

by Rebecca Shahan

Granite countertops. They’re tough, stylish, low maintenance, and always a good choice. You really just can’t beat a granite countertop in your kitchen or bath. Some may feel that granite countertops are for upscale homes and out of their reach financially. The good news is that you don’t need to buy the most expensive granite to get outstanding results. Here’s what you should know about granite counters and how you can cut back the cost of installing one.

Costs

You can pay anywhere from $2000 - $4500 for a granite countertop. Granite is usually priced by the square foot. This price usually includes delivery, installation, and simple edge finishes.  You will of course pay more if you need extra features such as decorative edge treatments and cutouts for sinks or stove tops, along with plumbing hookups and disposal of your old countertop.

The grade of the countertop will affect the price as well and is based on stone availability, color, shipping and distinctiveness.  Grade doesn’t always reveal the granite’s overall quality.

Saving Money

1. Shop around

Shopping around is a huge way to save money and potentially save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. Compare big box stores, design studios, granite fabricators, and companies that specialize in prefabricated granite counters. Always hire an established company that’s insured. Compare online reviews and talk to family or friends who have had granite installed. When you chose two or three companies, make sure to visit each one so you can talk about the project and see examples of their work.

2. Buy the sink and faucet separately

Buying the sink, faucet and any plumbing separately lets you get the lowest prices on each item.

3. Use a remnant

You may be able to find discounts on smaller pieces of stone left over from other projects.

4. Go prefab

Prefabricated counters are already cut and polished, and are great for simple counters that don’t need many cuts.

5. Have the installer do final measurements

Make sure the installer takes the final measurements and make a template which the final estimate will be based on. This will avoid making expensive mistakes.

Adding a granite countertop is a great way to make your home look better and raise the resale value of your home.

Check back on our blog twice a week for more real estate news, ideas, and local events in Austin and Lake Travis. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.  

A New Garage Door Can Add Value to Your Home

by Rebecca Shahan

How does your garage door look these days? Our garage door isn’t something we usually notice until something goes wrong with it. Most people don’t think about replacing their garage door unless they really need to.  But even if your garage door works fine, it may be time to replace it. Doing so can actually raise the value of your home, which is especially important if you plan to sell it. And a new garage door is relatively inexpensive compared to other home improvement projects, coming in at around $2500 including the opener. Of course that number will vary depending on size and who installs it.

Here are some factors that will affect cost and what options are available.

Size

A standard garage door is 8-10 ft wide, and a 2-car garage door is 12-18 feet wide. Garage doors come in all sizes and thicknesses. Of course, the bigger it is, the more it will cost.

Type

The more affordable doors include sectional or roll-up doors. One-piece or swing up doors, along with swing out and sliding doors will cost more.

Materials

Steel: Steel doors are a popular option because they are durable and low maintenance, along with being affordable. Two-car garage doors range from $750 to $3,500 depending on style and construction. But they are also heavy, easily dented, and put more strain on the opener.

Aluminum: Aluminum is also affordable like steel, but is a poor insulator and easily bends. On the up side, they are lighter than steel, rust-resistant and ideal for wider doors.  This type of door typically ranges from $1,500 to $2,000.

Wood and composite wood: Solid wood garage doors are heavier than steel and aluminum doors, require upkeep and are more expensive. Composite doors are lighter and less expensive than solid wood, but not as durable as metal or synthetic materials. Wood or composite wood two-car garage doors range from $1,200 to $4,000.

Fiberglass: Fiberglass doors are affordable, light, and available in many styles, along with being resistant to rot. They can however yellow with age and sometimes cracks in extreme temperatures, making them a less desirable option in hot climates. These garage doors typically range from $1,500 to $2,000 for a two-car garage.

Vinyl: Vinyl garage doors are lightweight, low-maintenance and can take a beating, which makes them great for high-traffic homes. The down side is that vinyl can fade, and style options are limited. These range from $900 to $1,500.

Professional installation

In almost all cases, it’s best to hire a professional to install your garage door. They have the right equipment and the experience. Hiring a professional may cost up to $500, but is well worth the price.

Check back on our blog twice a week for more real estate news, ideas, and local events in Austin and Lake Travis. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.  

More Home Staging Ideas to Help Your Home Sell

by Rebecca Shahan

More Home Staging Ideas to Help Your Home SellLast week we talked about some simple home staging ideas to get you on the way to selling your home faster in Austin and Lake Travis. But those ideas only scratch the surface of all the ways you can improve the appeal of your home for sale.  What are some further ways you can get the edge on the competition? Here's some advanced tips that can help.

Bring Balance

Last week we talked about the importance of cleaning and de-cluttering. Now that you have a cleaner slate, it's time to selectively bring back some items that will add appeal to your home. You can use tasteful decor such as a vase of cut flowers, a bowl of lemons by the sink, or perhaps some fresh produce on the kitchen counter, preferably from a local Austin area farmers market.

Add Style to the Dining Room

The dining room often gets overlooked when it comes to decorating a home. Empty tables can look unwelcoming, so style it up a bit with a series of small vessels down the center of the table.  Try to stay away from one large item in the center as this can look too stiff and formal.

Look at the Floors

You should at a minimum clean all the carpets. How worn are your wood floors? If they show their age, you should get them refinished. And if you can't afford to refinish them, try adding some carefully placed area rugs.

Symmetrical Furniture

Symmetrical furniture placement usually works best. You can create a more inviting area by pulling furniture away from the walls to create a conversation area.

Check back on our blog twice a week for more real estate news, ideas, and local events in Austin and Lake Travis. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.  

Remodeling to Get the Most ROI Selling Your Home

by Rebecca Shahan

Get the most ROI on selling your home in AustinAre you planning on selling your home in Austin or Lake Travis? If so, you no doubt want to do what you can to get the most money from the sale.  How old is you home? When was it remodeled or painted last?  If it's been a while, then it may be a good idea to look into updating your home. A dated or worn down appearance can take away from the resale value.  But where's the balance to avoid spending more than you get back in the sale?  Which projects will get back the most money and add to the appeal of your home to buyers? 

Not every improvement will increase the value of your home. Certain projects will only preserve the value, while others will help increase it.  In the end, you need to focus on what will increase the value.

So to get down to it, what are the projects that get the highest ROI?

Outside Projects

Nothing improves a home more than enhancing curb appeal. Most buyers will judge a home by how it looks from the outside.  Just about any project that enhances how your home looks on the outside will enhance the value. The projects that can get back the most money in the sale are replacing the garage door, replacing a steel door entry, adding or improving a wood deck, along with siding and facade projects. If you don't have enough money for those improvements, just adding a fresh coat of paint can make a huge difference. Make sure you keep with neutral colors so as not to put off any potential buyers.

Kitchens and Baths

We all know that the kitchen is the heart of the home.  We rely on our stove and fridge, along with other appliances. If your kitchen has older appliances, you may want to update them. Baths are also an important place to keep fresh.  If the baths have dated flooring and counters, you should think about updating them as well.

The Little Things

This may all sound like it costs too much to take on.  But that's OK, as you can focus on the little things. Updating the little things can really help sell your home. You can give your home a fresh coat of paint, trim trees and bushes, plant new bushes and landscaping. De-cluttering and cleaning your home only costs time. If you have an unfinished basement, you can put gray epoxy on the floor and paint the walls white. Never underestimate the power of improving the little things.

Every home and neighborhood is different in Austin. If you need help deciding what improvements would be best to sell your home, we know what sells a home in Austin and Lake Travis and what buyers are looking for. And make sure to check back on our blog every week for more real estate advice. And make sure you take advantage of our Home Valuation to get an instant market valuation for your Austin area home.

 

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 12