Home Improvement Tips: Ways to Increase the Value of Your Home

Reasons for A Redo

Home improvement projects often begin with someone saying, “Wouldn’t it be nice if… ?” usually followed by a wish for a remodelled kitchen or a room addition for space to accommodate every family member’s needs. More often than not, reality and dreams don’t coincide, due to limited funds for realizing the dream, or limits on the available space. The trick: turning your dreams into reality. Begin with a realistic evaluation of your needs. Homeowners usually consider home improvements for one of the following reasons.

You may feel the need to update something that is out-of-date. If your kitchen colour scheme was perfect a few decades ago but no longer works, now may a good time to update it.

Some home improvement projects grow out of an immediate need to replace broken or inefficient fixtures. If a sink, tub, or toilet needs to be replaced, consider taking advantage of the opportunity to do a makeover on the entire bathroom.

If you’re preparing to sell your home, you’ll want to be sure to get top dollar from the sale. That’s great motivation for some home improvement projects.

You have decided that staying put and improving your home is a better option than moving.

Your family has grown and you need more space.

Improving to Move? or Improving to Stay?

Evaluate your plans carefully if you’re improving your home to list it for sale. Cutting corners may hurt your prospects rather than helping them. But don’t go overboard either. Potential buyers may prefer not to pay for some of the extras, such as a hot tub or pool. You’re better off keeping the changes simple.

And remember that buyers who view your home may not share your tastes and may not appreciate the care you took to find just the right shade of green paint for the walls.

You’ll find that improving to sell is easier if you can think about it from the prospective buyer’s point of view: What is important to the home buyer? Here are a few remodelling projects buyers are likely to find valuable:

Adding or remodelling a bath

Improving the kitchen

Adding a new room

Landscaping

Adding a bedroom

Adding or enclosing a garage.

If you’re remodelling because you want to stay in your home, you should still avoid over-improving it. You’ll probably want to sell it someday, and even if your house is the best on the block, it may be difficult to convince potential buyers to pay for the things you considered important. And when you consider making improvements, keep in mind the value of other homes in the area. Your home’s value should not be more than 20% above the average, which means that a $10,000 kitchen improvement project well could be a better investment than a $10,000 hot tub, especially if yours will be the only home in the area with a hot tub.

Home Maintenance versus Home Improvements

It’s unfortunate that some home improvement projects are undertaken because something has broken. Replacing a leaky bathtub may be the first step to a major bath remodeling: since the tub has to be replaced anyway, why not do the whole room?

While that might be a legitimate reason to remodel, avoid basing your home improvement projects on immediate needs. You’ll be better off if you minimize problems with proper maintenance. Examine every part of your home at least once a year. Check the roof, the plumbing, electrical wiring, etc. As soon as become aware of a problem, fix it. Making repairs when you’re first aware of them will help you avoid larger expenses later on. Keep in mind that maintenance does not add to the value of your home. Usually repairs are not improvements; they are necessities.

Hiring Professionals May Save You Time and Money

It should go without saying that home projects can be expensive, so you may be tempted to tackle them yourself as a way to save money. That may be a smart move for small projects. You won’t have to wait for someone to fit your house into their busy schedule, and you can boast about having done the work yourself.

But unless you’re very versatile, major home improvements are better left to professionals. If you decide to remodel the kitchen and plan to do the work yourself, will you be able to handle the plumbing, electrical, and carpentry work on your own?. And don’t forget that you’ll need to finish it quickly, because you won’t have a kitchen as long as it’s a “work in process” and eating three meals a day in restaurants could get expensive. Keep in mind, do-it-yourself jobs generally take more time. And you’ll be responsible for getting all the necessary permits and inspections.

Hiring people who have the required experience can save you money and time, too. For example, these professionals can help you get a custom look using stock products, and that can be a significant savings. Getting something done right the first time will give you value that lasts for years.

To find qualified and dependable home improvement specialists, check with friends, business associates, and neighbours for recommendations. Always get at least three references, and check them out thoroughly. Also check with the local chapter of the Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce. Their numbers can be found in the community services section of your telephone book.

Once you’ve located the necessary home improvement specialists, make sure everyone is in agreement about the design, the schedule, and the budget, and get the details down in writing in a signed contract.

It’s also wise to check on professional certifications and licenses, where required, and be certain that the contractors you hire are fully insured and bonded. Your town or city Building Department can provide that information. And it’s very important that you make sure contractors carry workers’ compensation insurance: if workers are injured on the job, you won’t be liable if the contractor is covered. Request copies of their insurance certificates. And make sure that either you or your contractor have gotten any necessary permits before the work begins. Contact your local Planning and Zoning Commission for information.

Here’s a quick overview of some of the professionals you may need to work with when you remodel your home:

Architect: Architects design homes or additions from the foundation to the roof. If your project will require structural changes such as adding or removing walls, or if the design is complex, you will probably need an architect. Since architects may charge an hourly or a flat fee, make sure you get an estimate of the total cost: drawing up the plans for a major remodeling project can take 80 hours or more.

Contractor: The contractor oversees the home improvement project, including hiring and supervising workers, getting the necessary permits, making sure inspections are done as needed, and providing insurance for work crews. It’s always a good idea to get proposals from one or more reputable contractors, based on the specific details of your project.

Be sure each contractor bids on exactly the same plan so that you can compare their bids more easily. When you’ve chosen a contractor, make sure the contract specifies that you will pay in stages. You’ll usually pay one third when the contract is signed so that the contractor can buy supplies. The number and timing for making the remaining payments will depend on the size of the project. Do not make the final payment until all the work is successfully completed, inspected, and approved.

Interior Designers: Interior designers are specialists who will provide advice on furnishings, wall coverings, colors, styles, and more. They help save you time by narrowing your selection, and save money because they usually receive professional discounts from their suppliers. When meeting with an interior designer, be sure to tell them about your personal style and preferences. Expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $150 per hour, or you may be able to negotiate a flat fee of approximately 25% of the total project cost.

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Aspiring Singers Are Enrolling in Vocal Training Classes to Put Their Stamp on Contemporary Music

Those who have taken note of the sudden success of Il Volo, the Italian trio of teenagers, have surely had the thought of taking vocal training classes cross his or her mind. The fresh-faced youngsters immediately bring to mind memories of The Three Tenors, what with their blend of booming, operatic voices and the mathematical certainty that there are indeed three of them. And just like Luciano Pavarotti, they hail from Italy. For those aspiring singers who do not naturally possess their pipes and vocal range; a reputable vocal training program will teach everything from proper breathing techniques and protecting the voice to harmonizing and ear training.

A complete vocal education program combines creative and technical development with regular live performance – a thorough curriculum that will allow students to not just sing, but to communicate effectively with their audience. It is imperative for students to find or recognize the vocalists that inspire their creativity. Finding a stylistic identity is Step One when building confidence as a professional performer, since performing live is about more than the ability to belt out the notes.

Students in either an Associate of Arts or Bachelor of Music in Performance program undertake various vocal training classes that will develop, polish, and expand the limits of their vocal instrument. Lyrical interpretation, stage presence, presentation, and microphone techniques are all covered in the vocal performance classes that have been designed to produce skilled yet versatile contemporary vocalists.

An intrinsic knowledge of music theory and vocal techniques will become second nature to any performer worth his or her salt. As such, these vocal training classes serve as a prerequisite to topics related to performance. Learning the anatomy and physiology of the voice, the importance of proper breathing techniques, and how best to protect the voice teaches students about the science of voice production. On the other end of the spectrum, pitch registers, vocal techniques (such as vibrato), sight-singing, and music theory are invaluable skills when it comes time to lay down tracks in the recording studio. Training the ear to distinguish between major and minor scales, intervals, chord qualities, and the like is a necessary component to harmonization.

Even if a potential student is not a tenor or even a fan of opera, vocal training classes will transform each student into a stylistically versatile contemporary vocalist. These programs incorporate regular seminars and clinics with personal counseling sessions with internationally known performers. Classes are the foundation for any well-rounded vocalist. Before a performer realizes her vision on stage or in the studio, she must be capable of working and communicating effectively with her fellow musicians.

Being fully immersed in the music school experience provides students with a supportive network of teachers and students that will allow them to challenge themselves, leaving their comfort zone in their wake. This is where students come up close and personal with musicians who have traveled the path they are on. This blend of classes, workshops, and live performance allows students to explore their individual truth as artists and what skills they bring to the table.

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