Category Archives: Home Improvement

Roof Insulation Basics: Upgrading Roof Insulation – DIY Tips

There are two reasons homeowners want to make their homes greener; some people want to go green to protect the environment.  Others will go green because it results in more green dollar bills in their wallet.

Fortunately, the two don’t have to be exclusive; you can protect the environment and save money at the same time.  A big way to do so is to make sure that you have adequate insulation and ventilation for your roof and the attic space.

Heat rises, and that means the majority of the heat loss from your home goes out the top of the house.  This is especially true if you don’t have adequate insulation.  To make sure your home is as comfortable as possible, to ensure minimal heat loss, to save money on your heating bills, and to help protect the environment, an upgrade in your insulation is in order.

A Wide Variety of Insulation Options

Making the decision to improve your roofing insulation is the easy part.  The hard part, however, is determining what type of insulation to use, and where to put it.

Attic Insulation

The easiest (unless you’re having a new roof put on the house), and most effective, way to boost the insulation in your home is to insulate the attic.  Many homes have at least some access to this space, and because of the size attics can hold quite a bit of insulation.  But where you put the insulation, and what type, can vary even inside the space.

Between the Joists – If you have an unfinished attic space, the most common area to insulate is between the ceiling joists, but leaving the area between rafters uninsulated.  This provides for maximum air flow through the attic while keeping the living space insulated.

Most commonly the spaces between the joists are filled with blow-in fiberglass insulation.  However, the do-it-yourselfer may want to lay down fiberglass batting as it’s easier to work with and there is no special equipment needed.  How much should you have?  It’s recommended that the R value be at least R-38; or 10-14 inches of insulation.

Between the Rafters – Many homes have increased their living space by finishing the attic.  But without insulating the ceiling, the space would be largely uninhabitable most of the year.  If this is the case, then you want to insulate between the rafters.

Before you slap up insulation, however, you have to remember that the house needs room to “breathe.”  If your insulation is pressed tightly against the bottom of the roof decking, there’s nowhere for the air to go, and you can end up with major problems.  To counter these problems, baffles are installed to keep a small space between the insulation and the roof deck.  As the air in the baffles heats up, it can flow to the peak and out the roof vent.

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Changing Your Home Floor Plan: Home Extensions – Home Addition Costs

You’re probably here because your home isn’t working for you anymore, but you’d prefer not to sell and move. If so, consider making your old house work for you again by updating its floor plan. — This can be a feasible way to transform the outdated dwelling to the kind of home you will love! 😉

3D Floor Plan Photo Render via 24h Plans

If are in the process of exploring floor plan change possibilities, then consider the following scenarios:

  • Maybe you need more bedrooms and another bath, possibly a two-story addition that solves all your home’s shortcomings
  • A more open plan might suit your lifestyle, or you may want to create smaller spaces with a specific purpose in mind
  • Maybe that kitchen is just too small for your culinary ambitions or that bonus room is too big to be of practical benefit
  • Perhaps you’re planning ahead to provide a place for an aging relative to live nearby, and an apartment addition would be the solution

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Top 10 Green Home Improvement Upgrades, Plus Costs & ROI in 2017

This year, homeowners are more focused on renovating their houses rather than buying new. 2017 is continuing to see a hot seller’s real estate market, especially in places with booming economy like Seattle. Hot real estate markets mean that it’s often too expensive to buy a new place for many people, but it’s a great time to fix up your current home! 😉

If you can’t afford to move, but you are getting bored or frustrated with your house, a properly planned remodel can help make it feel like a brand new place! 🙂 And if you ever decide to sell your home in the future, strategically-done home improvements will help make it more desirable and attractive in the eyes of potential buyers.

solar-thermal-panels-on-a-metal-roof

No matter whether you’re remodeling to make yourself more comfortable or to entice potential buyers, it’s a no-brainer to lean towards environmentally-friendly design. Most green home remodeling projects result in huge savings on your energy bills, in addition to simply being the right thing to do for the future. And green is really in right now: a recent study found that homebuyers are willing to pay 3.46% more for a home with green features than a home without.

A lot of people are under the impression that green remodeling will cost them a fortune, but that’s not necessarily true. We’ve rounded up a set of 10 awesome (and cost-effective) green remodeling projects for your consideration. Read on to get the scoop on what goes into each project, how much each one might cost you, the kind of return on investment you can expect, and more.

1. Energy-efficient exterior doors

energy-efficient-door

Replacing an old exterior door is a great way to improve your home’s energy efficiency. If your current door is worn, cracked, or isn’t energy efficient, replacing it with an Energy Star-certified exterior door can result in a savings of as much as 10% on your costs to heat and cool your home.

To replace your door, you’ll need to first choose what kind of new door you want. While there are a variety of options, the most energy-efficient and durable kinds are fiberglass and steel.

door-energy-efficiency

Fiberglass doors are often better looking, since they more closely mimic the look of authentic wood doors. They are also ideal for harsh climates (very cold or very humid), since unlike steel, they don’t sweat when exposed to cold or moisture. However, they are more expensive than steel, and easier for intruders to break into.

Steel doors, on the other hand, are cheaper, stronger, and usually more energy efficient in temperate or hot, dry climates. However, they may not be as attractive, and they can rust if not treated properly and exposed to the elements.

Many doors come in pre-hung in a frame and pre-drilled and can be installed yourself, but if you are choosing a door that is not the exact same size as your old door, you’ll need to hire a contractor (usually a carpenter) to install the door.

In 2017, a new exterior door offers some of the very best returns on your investment. This year, the average cost of a new exterior fiberglass door, including installation, is $3,276, and tends to add an average value of $2,550 to your home, for a 77.8% ROI. The average cost of a new exterior steel door, including installation, is only $1,413, and tends to add value of $1,282, giving a whopping 90.7% ROI.

2. Non-toxic carpet

Non-toxic-Carpet via ServiceExpress.co

If you want to install or replace your carpet, you should be aware that not all new carpets are the same. A lot of new carpets and their adhesives contain chemicals called VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which are not only bad for the environment, but also dangerous to breathe in, causing a host of symptoms like dizziness, nausea, and fatigue.

Still, there is an ever-widening variety of Eco-friendly, non-toxic carpet available on the market today, and there are benefits of carpet over wood or laminate floors: carpet is cheaper and provides comfort, noise damping, and – most importantly – energy conservation. They are a great way of keeping the warmth in your house in the wintertime without turning up your heater.

When picking a green carpeting solution, look for carpets labelled “low VOC” and made from natural fibers like wool, jute, seagrass, or sisal. Choose lightweight carpets without petroleum-based padding – either no padding or padding made from felt is ideal. If the carpet requires adhesive, go for water-based, low-VOC glues, or ask your carpet installer to use these eco-friendly products.

This year, new wool carpet is running about $8-$10 per square foot. Installation is typically between $2.00-$4.00 per square foot. While return on investment data is somewhat hard to find on carpet alone (as opposed to a whole room remodel), there is widespread general agreement that potential buyers are turned off by old or dirty carpet, making replacing carpet a winning resale strategy.

3. Tankless water heater

tankless-vs-tank-water-heater Via AnyHeater.com

Realtors say there is a big trend this year towards energy-efficient appliances like tankless water heaters. These eco-friendly heaters have a big initial purchase and installation cost – averaging between $2,500 and $5,000 depending on the size of your home – but also have a big immediate return on your investment: a tankless water heater immediately cuts your energy bills by about 20%. By some government estimates, well-placed tankless water heaters can cut your bills by as much as 50%.

What is a tankless water heater? It’s a water heater that heats or cools water on demand, as you need it – rather than storing a bunch of water and keeping it hot all the time. They last much longer than a traditional water heater with a tank – upwards of 20 years – and take up much less space. However, the water temperature from a tankless water heater can momentarily fluctuate if you turn the hot water on, turn it off, and then turn it right back on again – you may get either hot or cold water depending on how fast the water heater takes to catch up with you. Also, they are much more effective when installed closest to the point they’ll be needed – in kitchens and bathrooms – since they don’t have reserves of hot water and have to heat it immediately.

4. Radiant bathroom floor heating

radiant-floor-heating via BathroomHeater.org

Imagine going to the bathroom in the middle of the night, only to find that your bathroom is warm and you previously cold bathroom tile is nice and cozy beneath your feet. Radiant floor heating delivers exactly that. Homeowners and homebuyers alike consider this a luxury item, and it’s likely to impress potential buyers, adding value to your home in addition to the energy savings.

What kind of energy savings are we talking? It really depends on how hot you keep your house at night. Radiant floor heating makes a room feel warmer than it is because heat rises, and it keeps the floor feeling toasty. Consequently, you will probably feel comfortable dropping your thermostat by several degrees at night. The more you drop the temperature, the better savings you are likely to see.

There are two types of radiant floor heating: electric systems and hydronic systems (which use water for heat). For a 100 sq. ft. bathroom, expect to spend anywhere between $600 and $1200 to have it installed, depending on what brand and what kind of system you use.

The real downside to radiant floor heating is that it requires pulling up the existing bathroom floor, and it might require doing so again if you need a repair down the line. But if you are willing to pull up your old tile or are already thinking about replacing your bathroom floor, it’s a great and popular heating option.

5. Skylights

velux-skylights via VeluxUSA.com

Did you know that 40% of your home’s energy usage comes directly from all that artificial lighting? If you have a room that has no windows – common in bathrooms, and utility rooms – consider installing a skylight. Not only will the natural light from the sun reduce your energy bill substantially, but many of the newest skylights open to fresh air, reducing humidity (and the resultant mold that tends to build up in closed, moisture-prone spaces). It’s no wonder that skylights are so attractive to buyers.

According to RoofingCalc.com, the average cost to have a skylight installed is between $1,500 and $2,500, with some homeowners spending as little as $700 and some spending up to $3,500. How much the job costs depends on what kind of skylight you choose – fixed skylights that don’t open are the cheapest; ventilating skylights with remote control access are the newest, trendiest, and most expensive.

Of course, if you opt for the ventilating kind, remember that you are also letting in outdoor noise; this may not be the best choice if you live on a noisy street. And be sure to get Energy Star-certified skylights which don’t leak. VELUX America makes a solar-powered skylight, which is particularly energy-efficient and popular this year.
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