Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Maintenance rules!

Homeowners opt for more affordable updates
By Christa Buchanan C & G Staff Writer

With the state of the current economy, home repairs and maintenance are one-upping most larger remodeling projects.
“Most people are just trying to keep their home in its current condition, so it’s mostly just upgrades. Literally, this summer has been the biggest hodgepodge of jobs,” said Blake Wasilkowski, owner of a construction company.
Basically, Wasilkowski said, preserving both the home and its value is the current trend among homeowners.
“Right now, people are worried about their home’s value, and they’re doing more basic home maintenance projects — repair work such as new concrete steps, replacing porches and drives, installing more energy-efficient windows, new siding … new roofs are big,” said remodeler, Mat Vivona Jr.
Wasilkowski agrees that roofs are a biggie.
“I’m seeing more roofs than anything, because people realize that if it leaks it will ruin the house,” said Wasilkowski, citing water damage to ceilings and drywall, and possible mold issues as costly consequences to a leaky roof.
To help maintain their home’s value, said Paul Schiller, a home improvement sales representative, a lot of homeowners are improving their home’s outdoor aesthetics.
“Right now a lot of people are having new siding, roofs and windows installed. They’re changing the fa├žade, the color, modernizing windows … making sure the roof is good for winter,” said Schiller, adding that putting in insulation with a higher R-value — the measure of the insulation’s efficiency — is an added benefit of installing new siding, as it can help save money in energy costs.
“If you want to save on energy, put in new insulation … (and) replacement windows,” said Vivona, adding that there’s a new energy-efficient replacement window out that is “virtually maintenance-free. It’s vinyl on the outside and has a gorgeous oak interior — it’s just beautiful.”
That’s not to say people aren’t aesthetically improving their home’s interior — they are, just differently than in the past.
“In this economy, things like room additions are a necessity — a son or daughter moves back or parents move in — so we’re seeing a lot of in-law suites. … Basements are a rarity right now — because it’s not considered living space, it’s not the best return for the money,” said Vivona. “We’re still seeing some second-story additions, just not as much as we used to.”
For those planning on staying in their homes, said Vivona, kitchen and bath renovations still top the list of updates, especially before the holidays.
“In the fall, the rush is on for kitchen and bath renovations. People usually want to do the kitchen before the holidays,” said Schiller.
New cabinets and solid surface countertops — especially the more affordable and durable acrylic countertops — are the most common kitchen updates, said Vivona, who noted that it’s actually more affordable to install new cabinets rather than refinish old ones.
As for bathroom renovations, Schiller said many homeowners are opting to enlarge their current space.
“The average bathroom is small, only about 5 by 8. Often, there’s a closet behind the bath and we can make the tub area bigger, so the bath is more spacious,” said Schiller, adding that people seem to be gravitating toward “larger tiles and more of a white look.”
Another trend that has resulted from the down economy is that more people are attempting to do various projects themselves, which isn’t necessarily a good thing, said Wasilkowski.
“A lot of homeowners are painting and doing the demo work. I’ve ran into problems where people think they can do the whole job, and then someone realizes, usually the wife, it’s beyond their grasp — sometimes they do more harm than good,” said Wasilkowski, who recommends homeowners call a pro, and check their references, before they do anything.

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