Monday, May 27, 2013

Shutter Woodworking Plans - Perfect For the DIY Home Improvement Project

One of the less thought-of woodworking projects can actually be one of the most detailed and complicated that you ever undertake, but also one of the most fun. Shutter woodworking plans can be bought in huge volumes if you know where to look, but even then you have a lot of things to consider. Once you factor in color, finishing, style, and shape, you have a truly enormous number of possibilities. And don't forget price, which is affected a lot by what material you choose to use (vinyl and faux wood are available, but real wood shutters are by far the best investment).

Shutter woodworking plans are rather cheap. It's the wood that is the primary expense. Because of this, it is recommended that you purchase or look through several plans so you can decide exactly what look you want before you begin work. The benefits of wood though over other shutter materials make it worth the cost though. First of all, faux wood and vinyl are both rather fragile in comparison to real wood, and they also age quicker in both appearance and texture. Fake materials are also more prone to warp, crack, and bend when exposed to natural elements like prolonged sunlight and extensive precipitation.

Shutter woodworking plans also emphasize energy efficiency in general. One of the important parts of these plans is that the shutter set-up be quite secure in how it handles heat and energy. Well-made shutters are free from surface irregularities, gaps, and cracks, all of which can let in cold or let heat escape, or vice versa. Once the shutters have been well-cut, they can then be assembled correctly to keep humidity and precipitation out of the house.

When choosing your shutter woodworking plans, be sure to keep dimensions in mind. Don't buy plans for three-foot shutters if you only need to cover a two-foot wide window, as that counts as wasted material. Also make sure you keep in mind the style of the shutter that you will be hoping for, as well as the method by which you want to hang the shutters (as a good example, shutters that are intended to open and close are measured quite differently than those that are supposed to be fixed). Ill-fitting shutters can actually be quite costly, as they might let heat escape (which will be less efficient on your energy bill) or they might damage the visual appeal of your house.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

How to Find the Best Home Improvement Loan

If you're looking for the best home improvement loan for your money it can sometimes seem like an uphill climb. You may not know whether the offer that you've received is the best that you can get, or if you should try to find a better offer elsewhere... but you shouldn't let finding the loan stress you out so badly. Getting the most out of your home improvement loan is easier than you might think; you just need to keep a few things in mind to help you to get the best loan.


When searching for the best home improvement loan, equity is a major factor. If you're not exactly sure what equity is, it's the portion of your home or real estate that you actually own... the percentage of the mortgage that's been paid off. If you've paid back 10% of your mortgage, then you'll have 10% equity; if you don't have a mortgage or you've already repaid it then you'll have 100% equity in your home.

The equity that you have is important in finding the best home improvement loan, since it's the value of your home that's acting as collateral for the loan. The more equity you have, the better chance you have of getting low interest rates and a high loan amount.

Rates fluctuate

Obviously, interest rates play a key part in finding the best home improvement loan. Interest rates will fluctuate on a national level as a way to fight inflation, but they will also vary from bank to bank and finance company to finance company. This is one of the main reasons that shopping around for a loan can be so important; getting multiple loan quotes for your home improvement or repair project can mean the difference between getting the best loan with a low interest rate and paying more because you took the first offer you received.

Look for special offers

Sometimes the easiest way to get the best home improvement loan is to simply watch for loan specials that some lenders offer. It could be an anniversary or customer appreciation day, or perhaps a tactic to draw in new first-time customers; whatever the reason for the special rates, you should at least consider them.

Many specials such as this last for only a short period, such as six months, before reverting to a higher rate... but if you can make payments at a lower rate for that period of time that reduce the total amount you pay at the higher rate, it might be a good idea to give it some serious consideration.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Online Home Improvement Loans - How to Finance a Home Improvement Project?

Finding a qualified contractor for a home improvement project is
painless. On the other hand, financing a home improvement project often poses
a challenge. If you own a home, you will likely need to make necessary
home repairs in the upcoming future. This could be replacing the
siding, windows, roof, etc. Because the average homeowner does not have
thousands of dollars in disposable cash, most will finance the project.

Home Equity Loans and Home Improvements

There are several ways to finance a home improvement project. One
method involves taking out a second mortgage on your home. Commonly referred
to as home equity loans, second mortgages allow homeowners to borrow
money against their home's equity. Because of a booming housing market,
some homeowners are able to borrow tens of thousands of dollars. The
interest rate on home equity loans is reasonable, and the funds are repaid
within a few years.

Low Interest Rate Retail Credit Cards

If a local home improvement retailer will be managing your home
improvement project, you may consider obtaining a store charge account. This
way, you can purchase all the necessary materials and pay the balance
over time. If your credit is good, you may qualify for a low interest
rate or 0% financing for the first 12 months.

Although obtaining a store credit card is convenient and tempting,
carefully weigh the pros and cons before applying. Can you realistically
afford another monthly payment? Furthermore, if you get approved for a
credit card, avoid spending too much money. If you have several home
improvement projects that need completing, payoff the balance incurred from
the first project prior to buying materials for the next project.

Finance Home Improvement Project with a Contractor

The majority of home improvement contractors offer financing. However,
the rates are higher and you can usually find a better loan package on
your own. On the other hand, if you are having a hard time securing
outside financing, accepting a contractor's terms is the next best thing.

Before choosing a contractor, get estimates from at least four other
contractors. You will save money by shopping around. Moreover, do not
accept an offer until you review a copy of the final contract. If you have
difficulty understanding certain terms or the language, opt to have the
contract reviewed by an attorney before signing.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Finding the Best Home Improvement Loan for You

Finding the best home improvement loan for your needs is vitally important to any major home improvement project. Home improvement loans may be used to improve your house or real estate, and may include anything from landscaping or interior design to major remodeling or renovation. The best home improvement loan that you can get may also provide you with the funds to hire professional help or to purchase the materials you need to complete your project yourself.

The best home improvement loans tend to have lower interest rates than other types of loans. In addition to being secured against the value of your home, these loans will actually help to increase the value of the property that is used as collateral in the long run. For your lender, particularly if the lender also provided your original mortgage, the increased value of the property is a further incentive to give you a low interest rate on your loan.

Several other things may help to lower your interest rate even further, and by identifying these items you can greatly increase your chances of getting the best home improvement loan possible.

Equity is a key factor

The best home improvement loan comes from having the best equity value on your home. Equity is the amount of money that you have invested in the home or property, meaning that it's the portion of the value of your house that isn't tied up in a mortgage or other loan.

The equity in the house serves as the collateral for the loan that you take out, and may allow you to qualify for loans that you otherwise might not be eligible for. In most cases, a lender will see high equity as a sign that you have already invested a lot of money in your house, and are serious about repaying the loan that you take out. This means they can offer you their best home improvement loan with little risk to their investment.

Researching the project

Before applying for your loan, you should take the time to gather some information and decide exactly how much your home improvement project is going to cost.

Estimate the cost of supplies for your project from at least 2 or 3 different retailers, and request job estimates from at least 2 or 3 different contractors so as to determine how much the entire job will cost. If you're doing the work on the project yourself, be sure to include any extra expenses you think that you might have. Start collecting quotes from a number of banks, finance companies, and online lenders based on your project plan and expense estimates.

After receiving several loan quotes, look them over and see which one has the lowest interest rate and the right payment period for your needs. Take your time in choosing your loan, so that the one you pick will be the best home improvement loan for you.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Home Remodeling Coaches - What Should You Expect Your Remodeling Coach to Do For You?

Why spend the money on a coach? I've said before that a good remodeling or building coach could make you into your own master builder. When you're in charge, you can get more of what you want, save money at the same time, and feel the sense of accomplishment for doing something not many people have done.
How is this accomplished? What is it that a good coach can do for you? Here's an outline of services and benefits you should expect by hiring a building professional as your project coach.
When interviewing professionals to be your coach, ask them if they have the following:
1) Access to and personal knowledge about all the building industry professionals that you'll need for your project.  
From architects to engineers, and lenders to contractors, the best coaches will have a whole list of professionals they trust. Do you need a good designer? They should have choices for you. Do you wonder where your building materials will come from? They will know.
2) Easy to follow process management tools and schedules to help you complete your project. 
This is a must. You need a step by step process to guide you through. Without this, you'll be wasting time and at times you'll be heading down the wrong path. Be very clear during your interviews that you want to see their program to help you with this.
3) A systematic schedule of communication. 
Here is one of the biggest differences between a General Contractor and a home building or remodeling coach. The builder wants to take charge and build ... communication and relations suffer. The coach, as your adviser, should have a system in place to communicate with you regularly. Demand this!
4) Methods to help you with decisions on building materials. 
Your coach could also be your materials supplier. Access to better pricing, knowledge of packaged home companies, and information that will help you decide the best approach for your time and money. These are distinct advantages for every owner builder.
5) Accurate processes and tools to determine the cost to complete your remodel. 
Whether building from scratch or doing a major home improvement, your coach should work closely with you to build and refine your project's costs and budgeting. This help will also be invaluable when it comes to applying for financing.
Hiring the Coach is Step One 
You can see that a Building Coach can assist you in every aspect from the very earliest stages. It should be your first major decision and step once you've decided to engage in your project as an owner builder. A good coach is like having a friend in the construction business.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Basic Guide to Screening Home Contractors

There is no denying it. Home renovations can be quite expensive. More so if you have come across a rather expensive home contractor. While one of the primary consideration is the cost of the renovation project, you also need to take time to screen properly home contractors, just to make sure they are reliable enough to deliver your expectations and not exceed on the budget and timeline you require.

First, you have to determine the home renovation project and the budget you are willing to allocate. It is best to seek endorsements or referrals from friends and colleagues who also have used home contractor service in the past. This way, you will have a fairly good idea what toe expect as well as come up with a shortlist of possible home contractors to contact. By all means, conduct a series of interviews and discuss details of the renovation, the budget and everything else in between. Through direct interaction, you can better gauge their capabilities, delivery capabilities and reliability. It would also be a good idea to ask for the past projects they have handled and probably ask if you can call some of their clients just to check the quality of their work.

For many, this may seem all too elaborate. But remember, if you don't want to spend more than you have bargained for, and plan trial and error with a home contractor, then it is best to do some homework and conduct some background check. After all, this is your home you will be renovating, and changes that you will have to see everyday and live with for a long time. You definitely would want to get the most of your investment and more or less ensure satisfaction.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Home Improvement Project - Your Basement Ceilings

If you are a home owner lucky enough to have a nice dry stand up sized basement under your house, you will no doubt get around to thinking about finishing all or part of it off. Floors, walls and ceilings all need for decisions to be made before rushing out to buy materials.

Floor improvement starts with what you have to start with. Walls are pretty much a standard of framing out the room or rooms and then drywall (gypsum board) and all that that entails. The ceilings are where you have some range in choices as far as difficulty and cost are concerned. It is an easy decision to let the drywall contractor just do the ceiling along with the walls.

If you are doing it yourself remember that sheet rocking a wall is a whole different animal than doing a ceiling. It is more labor intensive to start with and should be screwed in rather than nailed. The real decision maker here is what is going to be above the ceiling and under your main house floor. If you are dealing with a basic modern contractor-built stick house, the basement ceiling is probably a patch work of wiring, water and sewer pipes, heat and air condition ducts. That means that anytime you have to deal with broken pipes under the house, you will probably be ripping out and then replacing the sheet rock/drywall ceiling. Not going to happen to you, OK lucky place your bets now. Maybe the kids are in need of their own TV or satellite cable wire or new telephone line. You could drill a hole in the side of the house but chances are it will be neater to bring the wiring into an existing portal and then up through the floor to their room. Oops, there is that messy drywall to contend with. How about the new 220 volt dryer you want to install to replace the old gas dryer. You could run the wire on the outside of the wall or ceiling but that will look ugly and probably will not pass code.

It is starting to sound like a suspended or dropped ceiling is your new best friend. They might cost a bit more for the initial installation but the freedom of access to that great causeway of pipes and wires will be well worth it. If you are a do-it-yourself kind of guy than the cost factor equals out. And if a pipe should break or leak or something new needs to be installed from the garage cable entrance way to the far bedroom it will be a simple matter of replacing a few wet tiles after the leak is fixed or just lifting a few tiles up and out of the way while you run that new telephone wire to your daughter's bedroom.

The other plus factor is the decorative aspect of a dropped or suspended ceiling. The frame work that holds up ceiling tiles as well as the tiles themselves come in various colors and textures. Even light fixtures for dropped ceilings can be bought in complete ready to drop in versions. The only requirement is a tall basement ceiling and the need for a cleaner comfortable living space.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

How to Find a Good Contractor For Your Next Home Improvement Project

You're thinking about making some changes to your house and what you're thinking about doing is more than you can do yourself.

You need a contractor, but with all of the home improvement scams out there as well as the contractors that aren't very good, how do you find that gem who will get your work done quickly and for a fair price?

Well, we just finished building a house so I've got some fantastic tips you can use to find the contractor that is perfect for the job and who will do the work for a fair price.

One way that you can find qualified contractors for any type of home improvement or repair project is to join Angie's List.

They are growing like crazy and their business model is well accepted by people around the U.S. They give everyday people the opportunity to speak out about their experience with every type of professional including auto body repair guys, HVAC companies, dentists, contractors and much more.

Angie's List is a website that lets people just like you find contractors in your area that have been approved by other people in your area who've had work done. Angies List lets homeowners "grade" contractors on their performance, quality of work and many other things. Angie's list doesn't just grade contractors they grade almost any type of service you can imagine, from dentists to plumbers, from cosmetic surgeons to electricians and everything in between.

One thing that you need to know about Angie's List is that it does have a small fee for joining, but the problems you avoid by choosing the wrong contractor or avoiding getting scammed are worth it.

One more thing about Angies List ratings of contractors that you need to know. Don't only rely on other people's ratings of a contractor to make your decision. Most homeowners don't understand the intricacies involved in doing remodels or renovations and often rate quality contractors poorly.

Its worth a phone call to visit with the contractor, have them give you a price and explain to you exactly how they would do the work.

Another Under the Radar Option to Find a Good Contractor

Another way to find a good contractor that almost nobody uses is contacting the companies who sell the contractor the supplies they need to do the work.

Let me explain.

If you are going to get a new roof put on your house, do a Google search for roofing suppliers in your area. Make a phone call to a couple of these suppliers and ask to talk to a salesperson to get some current pricing on the materials needed to do the work. You don't need to know how many bundles of shingles you need. You just want to get current pricing and get the opportunity to talk with a salesman.

When you are talking to the salesperson ask them who they can recommend that would do a good job at a good price. The salespeople at construction supply companies know who does good work and who doesn't and they don't have anything to gain by giving you the names of the contractors they sell to.

Why? Because no matter which contractor you use, that salesperson will get the order for the supplies needed to do the job since the contractors he recommended already have a relationship with him!

Pretty Sweet, huh?


The two best ways that I've found to get good contractors to do any project or repair around your home are:

Angie's List charges a fee to join, but the hassle you avoid is worth it. There's an annual fee but you also get ratings on other service providers than just contractors, you get ratings on dentists, air conditioning guys, plumbers, electricians, appliance repair companies and much more. Once you build your preferred list of repair people then you can not renew their service. So for a small fee, you can keep from getting poor service providers for almost anything that you might need to do in your area.

Calling salesmen who supply materials needed to do your project -Doesn't cost you anything, but you need to know a little about your project and what's involved to know which supplier to call. If you don't feel comfortable with your knowledge, you'll avoid trouble going with Angie's List.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Beneficial Home Improvement Projects

There are a number of television programs that focus on the miraculous transformation of gardens and homes. All of these are done by professionals or skills do-it-yourselfers. In order to do home improvement projects yourself you need to consider projects that can improve the value of your home.

First, you need to consider what you want to do and what you can afford. There are several good reasons for wanting to remodel or redecorate your home. If you want to have a desirable neighborhood you may only need to do one or two changes. Consider a new color scheme or kitchen and bathroom upgrades. If you are planning to move in the future then you want to consider home improvement projects then you should consider projects that improve the selling price of your home.

No matter what your motives are for improving your home you want to write down your planned projects into three different categories: must have, would like to have and dreams come true. Once you have these three complete lists then you can consider the money you have available or the amount you can borrow. Unless you have unlimited funds you need to have a realistic estimate of what home improvement projects you can afford.

Every home improvement project starts with a plan. Make an itemized list of everything you want and everything you can afford. In this you can include a design of the rooms you want to remodel. If you are going to need to hire professionals then put together a list and get estimates. When it comes to hiring a professional it is important to compare all the options available to make sure you are getting the best deal possible.

Often the most valuable projects for improving the value of your home are the most affordable. If you are going to sell your home then talk with your real estate agent about tips for increasing the resale value of your home. Cleaning and painting the interior and exterior can go a long way to making desirable improvements to your home. When it comes to larger improvements there are kitchen and bathroom remodeling which can provide a big return on your investment.

Choosing the best remodeling and decorating projects can increase the long term value of your home while also providing your with satisfaction and pleasure. To be a smart homeowner you should consider projects that improve the value of your home and makes it easier to resell.