Top 10 Winter Home Maintenance & Weatherization Costs

Maintaining your home’s weather protection is very affordable compared with the high costs of repairing the damage caused by water leaks, insect infestation, and the effects of allowing moss and debris to remain on roofs and in the gutters over winter.

Getting your home ready for winter

via ChenArch.com

Home weatherization is also great way to improve your home’s durability and lower you heating and home energy consumption costs.

Let’s explore these essential home weatherization and maintenance updates and their costs:

  • Roof Inspection and Repair
  • Moss Removal and Roof Cleaning
  • Gutter Cleaning, Repair and Replacement
  • Exterior Caulking of Windows and Doors
  • Adding Weather Stripping to Windows and Doors
  • Adding Insulation to the Attic
  • Exposed Pipes Insulation
  • Chimney Cleaning
  • Furnace and Water Heaters Maintenance Check
  • Lawn and Garden Winter Prep

Note: handyman services and contractors often have minimum fees of up to $150 per visit to your home. For that reason, whenever possible, you will want to group these home maintenance and repair items when contacting service professionals for estimates.

Roof Inspection and Repair

Your roof is your home’s most important defense against the elements. When it is compromised, your home is susceptible to water damage, structural rot and weakening, mold and mildew problems and infestation from insects. That list of horrors is good motivation to keep our roofs in good health.

Your options include roof inspection from the ground using binoculars (good), on a ladder with friends holding it steady (better), or hiring a home inspector or roofing contractor (best).

If you have an attic, it the underside of the roof and attic walls should be checked for water stains. Roofs should be inspected twice a year and after major storms and wind events. Look for missing roofing material, cupped shingles, cracked shingles and shakes, loose flashing – any sign of damage.

  • Roof inspection cost: $125-$275
  • Roof repair: $7-$15 per square foot

Repairing a roof costs more on a per square foot basis than installing a new roof, and that’s why roof replacement rather than repair starts to make sense when 25% or more of the roof is damaged. This is especially true when the roof is 12-15 years old or older.

Most minor roof repairs will cost in the range $350 to $1,500, and most roofing contractors will have a minimum repair outcall fee of $250 or more.

Moss Removal and Roof Cleaning

Algae stained roof

Moss, algae and debris on roofing material, collecting in roof valleys and against dormers and upper stories is more than just an eyesore. They hold water against your roof and are acidic, a combination that can cause asphalt shingles to cup and fail, wood shingles and shakes to rot and metal roofing to corrode.

Living plant material must be gently removed from the roof with a stiff broom, starting at the top, to prevent roof damage. Stubborn moss and algae can be loosened with cleaners like Wet & Forget and Spray & Forget before brooming the roof.

If you’re not a DIY enthusiast, hiring an experienced professional for the job is the best way to ensure a clean roof that isn’t damaged. Hiring a pro will also keep you safely on the ground.

Home improvement professionals estimate costs based on the size of your home, whether it is a single-story or multistory home, the roof’s pitch and related factors.

  • $32-$45 per gallon | Roof cleaners for DIY cleaning, 1,000-1,250 square feet per concentrated gallon
  • $300-$800 | Professional roof cleaning cost

Gutter Cleaning, Repair and Replacement

clogged gutters

Gutters easily clog with leaves, pine needles and debris. When they do, water will overflow them or cascade over them and fall next to your home causing problems such as a flooded foundation, stained or rotted siding and garage door damage.

  • Clean gutters as needed: Gutters need cleaning frequently, perhaps twice in the fall and once in the spring, where large trees tower above them. They might never need cleaning in treeless landscapes.
  • Inspect gutters: It’s wise to check gutters twice a year and after heavy hail and wind storms. Look for missing, loose and separated sections or downspouts coming loose from gutters.
  • Replace gutters as needed: If you’ve already made significant repairs to your gutters, it might be worth replacing them before the next winter or rainy season hits your area.

    It only takes one big storm for a gutter to come loose and dump hundreds of gallons of water next to your basement.

  • Gutter cleaning cost: $0.75-$1.50 per linear foot
  • Gutter repair cost: $8.00-$12.00 per linear foot of damaged gutter
  • Gutter replacement cost: $6.50-$9.00 per linear foot

Exterior Caulking Repair and Replacement

Loose and missing caulk allows moisture and insects to get into your home’s framing and possibly into your living space. The situation also allows warm air to escape in winter and penetrate in summer.

Your HVAC system will work harder, and your energy company will be happy to bill you for it. Inspect for loose caulk visually and by brushing it with a stiff brush.

Remove any loose caulking when it is found. If the caulk is more than 15 years old and some of it is loose, consider re-caulking the area. All loose caulk, dirt and debris should be removed before new caulking is installed.

  • DIY caulk repair and replacement: $2-$5 per window or door for materials, more for garage doors
  • Professional caulk repair and replacement: $6-$15 per window or door, up to $40 per garage door

Adding Weather Stripping to Windows and Doors

Effects of air leaks

Loose-fitting windows and doors are like loose caulk – a waste of energy and a potential entrance for moisture and bugs. Weather stripping is affordable and has excellent ROI in the form of lower energy bills and home protection too.

  • DIY weather stripping: $0.25-$0.55 (25-55 cents) per linear foot for the various types of material
  • Pro weather stripping: $4-$10 per window or door, up to $35 for a garage door

Continue reading

How to Sell Your Home Fast While the Real Estate Market is Still Hot

This guide outlines the top 10 ways to sell your home fast. Before we delve into the specifics, I would like to preface this guide by saying two things; there has never been a better time to sell a home, and pricing your home right is the key to generating a lot of interest in your property and ultimately selling your home fast.

Why the Worst Time to Buy a Home is the Best Time to Sell Your Home:

Let’s face it, the current real estate market is very strong. Needless to say, all real estate markets are regional by nature, but broadly speaking, there has never been a better time to sell your home.

Here in Seattle, the market has been on some serious fire fueled by the rise of the tech industry giants like Amazon, Microsoft, and other movers and shakers in the greater Seattle area.

However, there is no telling how long the euphoria of rising real estate prices can sustain itself. One thing is clear, the trend of rising home prices will not last forever. Neither here in Seattle, nor nationally.

Here is the bottom line; Seattle and many other major cities experiencing booming real estate prices are home sellers’ dream markets and home buyers’ worst nightmares. If your home is located in a hot real estate market, it may be wise to sell it while the selling is still hot. 😉

Regardless of where in the US your property is located, if you are thinking about selling it, you may want to move quickly before the market conditions change. As Warren Buffett famously said, be fearful when others are greedy.

Is Your Home Ready for a Quick Sale?

Unless you want to take a major hit on the sale price of your property or sell it at a substantial discount to the “we buy ugly houses” guys who pay cash and close fast, you will want to do your homework.

The key to a quick sale is to look at the sale process through the eyes of the buyer and their home appraiser. Understand what they want to see, deliver it on the plate, and close the deal, fast!

Note: Obviously, it’s not that difficult to sell a house with “some issues” in a very hot sellers’ market, and some lazy home sellers do just that, but in doing so they are often leaving money on the table. It may be wiser to address any major issues with your home prior to listing it for sale, so you can maximize the sale price and attract the most buyers in the shortest amount of time.

Pro Tip: The key to a quick sale is to remove as many major obstacles leading up to the sale as possible.

Removing the Obstacles and Getting Your Home Ready for a Quick Sale with Flying Colors:

1. Got Junk in Your Home, Basement or Backyard?

Get rid of all the junk fast

Hopefully you are not drowning in junk, but if you are a hoarder, then it’s time to clean up and rid your home of all the junk. It’s the most critical step to take if you want to sell your home quickly.

Nobody will want to buy a house with junk cars in the backyard, a seriously-cluttered basement, or closets filled with stuff that should be in a museum! 😉

Pro Tip: Get rid of all your clutter fast by renting a dumpster.

If you are too busy or feeling overwhelmed to do it yourself, consider calling a junk removal company to help you get rid of all the stuff that you don’t need. Fast!

Continue reading

New Furnace Cost – Gas Furnace Replacement vs. Repair – Furnace Buying Guide 2017-2018

Furnaces remain the most common way for homeowners in North America to heat their homes. This furnace buying guide has all the research needed to understand your furnace purchase and make a buying decision you’ll be happy with in the next 15-20 years. The focus is on gas furnaces, since most furnaces are fueled by natural gas (NG) or, with a simple gas valve change, liquid propane (LP). However, we also briefly discuss oil furnaces.

New Furnace Cost

When efficiency, size and performance are factored into the equation, expect these cost ranges for:

  • Basic furnaces: $750 to $1,475
  • Better furnaces: $1,000 to $2,150
  • Best furnaces: $1,850 to $2,800

Furnace installation costs are based on the complexity of the furnace, sheet metal work required to connect it to the ductwork and how difficult it is to access the installation location such as a crawlspace or attic. Expect estimates for installation in these ranges:

  • Basic furnace installation: $1,400 to $1,900
  • Better furnace installation: $1,750 to $2,200
  • Best furnace installation: $2,000 to $2,400

Reasons to Get a New Furnace

New Gas furnace and Duct Work

via Holliday Heating

If you are in an exploratory mode and wondering if a new furnace is the right move, here are the top seven reasons to buy a new furnace:

  • Repair costs on an existing furnace are 50% or more of the cost of a new furnace (33% for a furnace 12-15 years old; 25% of a furnace that is 15+)
  • You’re staying put – the longer you plan to live in your current home, the more it makes sense to put the money into new equipment (and conversely, if moving soon, repairing the furnace might make more sense)
  • It’s a preemptive move – your furnace is running, but you don’t know for how long due to age and/or past repair issues (worth considering where winters are harsh!)
  • Your gas bills are rising because the furnace is losing efficiency due to age (though you might want to have it cleaned and maintained to see if it significantly improves efficiency before deciding whether to replace it)
  • You want to improve efficiency
  • You want to upgrade climate control
  • You’ve built a home or addition that needs heating

Furnace repair vs. replace:

Some of you may have heard from an HVAC contractor that it is time for a new furnace, and perhaps you think the contractor is trying to sell you something you might not need. Well, skepticism is healthy in the repair vs. replace discussion when it is informed skepticism. Here’s a secret: HVAC contractors often make more money with a both/and approach. Repair it now; replace it later.

Charlie Greer is a seasoned HVAC contractor who owns a website called HVAC Profit Boosters with the motto, “Helping plumbing, HVAC, and electrical contractors become millionaires every day.” That tells you whose side he’s on. Speaking to HVAC contractors, Greer says:

Repair vs. Replace scenarios are tricky, because, once you bring up the topic of replacing the customer’s equipment, you stand the risk of the customer deciding to get bids, meaning that you could wind up getting neither the repair nor the replacement sale. In the long run, you make more money when they (homeowners) opt for the repair anyway. You get one repair now, possibly a few more down the road, then a higher price (due to inflation) when they ultimately replace it in the future.

Greer’s advice might be great for HVAC contractors, but not for homeowners. The bottom line is that if an HVAC contractor recommends replacing your furnace rather than repairing it, the person might be giving you sound advice, especially if the rationale involves some of the reasons from the above list.

Pro Tip: Make sure your HVAC contractor pulls a permit to install the new furnace, and that the job is properly inspected following the installation.

Continue reading