Choosing A Color For Your Homes Vinyl Siding

2018 is the year that is taking the curb appeal of your home to the next level.  Homeowners are more aware now than ever before that how their homes look on the outside has everything to do with how the inside is viewed.  This is even more important when looking to put your home on the market.  The exterior of your home is a reflection to the rest of the world of you.  It can make your home look warm and inviting or just the opposite based solely on how it looks.  One way that homeowners are looking into bringing new life to their homes exterior is through the installation of new vinyl siding.

Vinyl siding installation creates an entirely new look for your home.  It is important to choose a color that expresses who you are while also taking into account other homes within the neighborhood and future buyers preferences.  In some areas vibrant colored vinyl siding is the norm however for many of us safer choices such as shades of gray or beige are more suitable.

To really determine what color is best for your homes new vinyl siding homeowners should consider the advice of an outside source, such as the siding contractor.  Professionals will offer you the cold, hard truth about your choice in the color choice of your vinyl siding.  Often times exterior siding contractors work with professional decorators to come up with a plan for exterior home renovations to be sure that all plans for the exterior of the home are tied together.

One aspect that contractors and decorators will consider is the color of the exterior doors of the home including the garage door as well as the color of the roof.  If you as a homeowner are not looking to replace the entry and garage doors or to install a new roof, then it is crucial that the homes vinyl siding is compatible with them.

The homes siding should also compliment the architecture of the home.  Certain styles of architecture fit better with certain colors and not with others.  Think about the typical colonial home; what comes to mind?  Yep, solid color vinyl siding in yellow, white, green, or blues.

Another feature to take into account is the size of your home.  Super dark vinyl siding makes homes stand out.  Dark colors can be considered overwhelming when used on larger homes where as on smaller homes they can create a cozy feeling.  If you are looking for your home to blend into the homes around the neighborhood then it is best to stick with lighter vinyl siding colors such as white or yellow.

Consider the climate in which your home is as well.  There are particular colors that are perfect for homes in cooler climates however look off when used in tropical climates.  Sunlight exaggerates brighter colored vinyl siding while heating up dark color siding.  It is also crucial to consider color combinations as well. Dark blue and black appear dark and drab whereas dark blue with white trim appears nautical and fresh.

Learn more about Kearns Brothers, a full-service home improvement contractor servicing all of Southeast Michigan’s construction needs by visiting their website at or contact a remodeling expert at 888.355.6700.

Outdoor Home Improvement — Getting your home ready for storm season

With the beginning of spring, Oklahoma now looks to the beginning of storm season, and we all know just how damaging those storms can be. Fortunately, a few proactive measures can help to minimize the damage nature’s fury can inflict. Mike Smiley has been the owner of Smiley Home Inspection Service for 13 years and he shares some tips to make your home as prepared as possible for the upcoming rain and wind.

“Water causes almost 90 percent of all home problems inside and out,” Smiley said. “The main thing to lookout for is proper drainage.”

When water pools up near the foundation of a house, it can cause all kinds of issues to the foundation and the structure. This typically happens when the house is near the bottom of a hill, but sometimes home owners do not realize that they are at the bottom of a hill. Even a gentle slope, almost invisible to the naked eye, can cause water to pool.

To find out if this may be a problem at your house go outside after a particularly heavy rain and walk around your home to see any standing water that may have formed near the base of your home.

To mitigate this issue Smiley suggests doing some terracing around your property to allow the water to drain away from your home. This can be achieved by installing a “swale.” A swale is simply a depression in the ground that uses gravity to carry the water that pools up in one area to another away from the foundation. Swales can either be above ground and be used to irrigate lawns and landscaping or run through pipes buried beneath the ground.

Another factor that influences water buildup around foundations is guttering (or in some instances, lack thereof).

“Most homes need guttering,” Smiley said. “Make sure that they are functioning properly and that they force water away from the foundation.”

The easiest way to ensure that your gutters function properly is to make sure that they are not clogged. Leaves and other debris can obstruct gutters during the fall and winter months. Once the weather permits, inspect your gutters to make sure they are flowing freely and not being bogged down.

Smiley continues with his warning against water damage by discussing the ways in which a simple coat of paint helps your home by not only making it look better but actually protecting it.

“If your home needs painting, a good coat of paint can help protect the wood from the elements,” he said. When wood gets wet, it begins to disintegrate and decay. The paint acts as a shield to stop this process in its tracks.”

Smiley’s final tip is about low-hanging branches that sometimes hit our roofs.

“Keep low tree limbs away from the roof,” he said. “In all the wind we get those can really damage shingles.” Those shingle can be expensive to replace and if the damage is severe enough, you could be looking at replacing the entire roof. And if the roof is in disrepair, it can lead to leaks caused by the number one cause of home damage, water.

These are just a few examples of ways to get your home ready for the stormy weather that will soon be upon us. By spending some time and money now to fix any of these potential problems, you’ll actually be saving yourself even more money (and preventing an even greater amount of stress) in the future.

Original Source:—getting-your-home-ready-for-storm-season

Original Author: Drew Butler

Original Date: April  14 2018

Enhance Your Home’s Exterior with Stone Veneer

The word for 2018 in home improvement is curb appeal.  Everyone I have spoken to is interested in sprucing up the exterior of their home to increase the aesthetic value.  It might be that they are interested in new siding, updated windows, a decorative front door, or something a bit more budget conscience, the addition of stone veneer.  A popular combination that is being seen more and more is mixing two elements such as updated siding and stone veneer to create a high quality, low-maintenance exterior.

The installation of stone veneer to your homes exterior creates a refreshing façade that offers a solid ROI.  Stone veneer is an organic material that is used to give homes a unique look and to enhance elements on the exterior of the home.  Most often homeowners will choose to enhance a front porch, chimney, driveway gate entrance posts or walkway.  Stone veneer comes in a variety of colors, styles, sizes, and shapes to consider in your renovations.

The addition of stone veneer gives your home a natural, authentic appearance.  It is an exterior housing material that is considered low maintenance that wears nicely; in fact, many homeowners have told us that they prefer how the veneer look after a few years of exposure to our Michigan climate.  Stone veneer does not fade or chalk and tends to be more durable than even vinyl siding.  The stone veneer can protect your homes exterior from harsher elements due to being incredibly durable.

Homeowners often desire the addition of stone veneer on to outdate chimney’s especially when they are in the process of replacing their homes roof.  Adding a touch of stone veneer to the chimney cap offers a more visually appealing aspect to a normally dull aspect of your homes exterior.  Adding stone veneer also gives your home a stately look while protecting your chimney against mortar joints, snow, water, branches, leaves and other elements that come with living in the wonderful state of Michigan.

Stone veneer is also used on the exterior of your home as protection to your windows, foundation, and doors when installed on headers, sills, and water tables.  Unlike wood, which requires regular upkeep, and plastic which is easily damaged by the sun or differing weather elements, stone veneer lasts a lifetime and looks great as it ages.  If you want to increase your homes curb appeal, as many of us are, the addition of stone veneer is the addition to your homes exterior that you are looking for.

Learn more about Kearns Brothers, a full-service home improvement contractor servicing all of Southeast Michigan’s construction needs by visiting their website at or contact a remodeling expert at 888.355.6700.


7 ways to finance a home-remodeling project

Q: How do most people finance a remodel?

A: Owners finance home-remodeling projects in many ways, from using savings to borrowing from a 401k to bank loans. Here are some of the most common avenues to pay for your dream remodel.

1. Cash-out refinance

Most banks will be willing to lend you up to 80 percent of your home’s value, minus whatever you still owe on your mortgage.

Pros: You get a lump sum and don’t have to deal with complicated draws. It’s a chance to lower your interest rate. The interest you pay may be tax deductible.

Cons: You will usually have to pay closing costs, typically a few thousand dollars.

2. Home equity line of credit (HELOC)

A HELOC allows you to keep your original mortgage. During the draw period, you will make interest-only payments. This is followed by the repayment period (typically 10 to 15 years).

Pros: A HELOC allows you to borrow only what you need. Unlike a cash-out refi, you only owe interest on the amount you’ve borrowed to date. You may not have to pay closing costs.

Cons: When your repayment period begins, the higher monthly payments may take you by surprise. Interest rates may be variable.

3. Home equity loan

This is another type of loan that is secured against your home. Instead of a line of credit, you will be borrowing a fixed amount as a lump sum.

Pros: You can keep your original mortgage, which may be beneficial if it has a very low interest rate. Interest payments may be tax deductible. You don’t have to deal with a complicated draw schedule.

Cons: You will begin owing interest on the entire amount from day one.

4. Remodeling construction loan

If you are making major renovations and do not have enough equity in your home to pay for them, you may want to explore a construction loan.

Pros: It extends your borrowing potential. The bank will appraise the house based on its future value after the remodel is complete. You can often qualify for a low fixed interest rate, and most or all the interest will be tax deductible.

Cons: Refinancing may not be desirable if you currently have a low fixed rate. Your building plans must be finalized before you can be approved. You may have to refinance into a permanent loan when construction is complete.

5. FHA 203k loan

These loans are backed by the Federal Housing Administration. They could be a good option if you have found a home you want to purchase that needs major repairs.

Pros: Down payments as low as 3.5 percent and relatively low interest rates are the main benefits. You can borrow up to 110 percent of the home’s projected value after repairs.

Cons: A lot of paperwork. You are required to address any health and safety issues with your home.

6. Borrow from your 401(k)

Tapping your retirement account gets a lot of bad press, but it may be a decent option in certain circumstances.

Pros: Your interest rate can be lower than that of a personal loan (typically around 5 percent). The approval process is quick and won’t show up on your credit report.

Cons: You are limited to $50,000, and the repayment schedule is quicker than for some other types of loans.

7. Reverse mortgage

If you are age 62 or older and have equity in your home, you may qualify. This loan is similar to a HELOC, but you don’t make payments during your lifetime.

Pros: It is a way to access the equity in your home. No payments will be due during your lifetime.

Cons: It will diminish the value of your estate, leaving fewer assets for your heirs. Fees may be higher than with a traditional mortgage.

There are many options available to you as a homeowner seeking to fund a remodel. It may be worth exploring several options to determine what’s best for you. Start a conversation with your banker or broker at the same time you start exploring remodeling options. Knowing from the start what funds you have available to you will help make the design process smoother and allow you to avoid surprises down the road.

Original Source:

Original Author: Denny Conner

Original Date: April 5th 2018

The Importance of Your Homes Exterior Appearance

There are many ways to add aesthetic value to your home; the trick though is to get a return on your investment along with it.  Most homeowners think about the interior of the home when considering upgrades however, renovations on the exterior of the home are just as important.  Exterior home improvements that boost your homes curb appeal can go a long way in increasing the value of your home.  First impressions often make or break how buyers look at a home.  The exterior appeal of your home can literally change the way your home is perceived to future buyers.

Of course, most homeowners don’t move forward with renovations to our homes because we will one day will sell the home.  We make upgrades to improve the quality of our experiences in the home.  It is important homeowners consider both their personal enjoyment and added value.  Here are five exterior projects that we believe will add value now and later.

Add a Deck and/or Porch

Sitting in a comfortable chair enjoying a cup of coffee or glass of wine on your porch or deck is a feeling better than any amount of money.  Even the smallest of homes with a yard of any size can enjoy the benefits of a space outdoor that is able to be used as a livable space.  It is important that the area be in proportion with the landscape.  The addition of the deck or porch should only consist of 1/5th of the overall space.  Even a small patio space, set aside, can make a world of difference.  The perception, and hopefully the reality, is that it is a space that used to relax and contemplate the beginning or end of the day.

Replace the Front Door

The first thing you see when you come upon your home is the front door.  An older style door can really date your home.  The front door of a home not only adds to the appeal of your home it is a big part of the home’s safety.  Consider replacing an older front door with a new steel or fiberglass front door with a little bit of artistry to add to the overall look of the home and entry way.

New Window Installation

New windows for a home can be quite expensive; most homeowners don’t consider replacing windows until they absolutely need to.  That however, can be a huge mistake.  Your homes windows are crucial in providing light, ventilation, and insulation.  New windows are a great way to improve the energy efficiency within the home while increasing the appeal to the exterior.  Windows are one of the first renovations to consider in older homes as advancements in windows with both durability and energy efficiency far surpasses that of older window technologies.

Maintenance: Roof, Gutters, Siding, and Landscape

Twice a year it is important to take time to do complete a thorough cleaning of the exterior of your home.  This is above and beyond the normal weekly maintenance.  A homes roof should be inspected and maintained at the beginning of spring and the end of fall.  This will ensure that any cracks in the caulking are filled, missing shingles replaced, and leaks are caught before causing damage to the structure of the home.

Gutters should be cleaned as well during this time to ensure that leaves and extra debris are removed, and the gutters are allowing water to properly flow away from the home.  There are many problems that come from improperly functioning gutters including ice dams that lead to roof and structural damage.

It is important to keep up on your homes exterior such as siding and masonry.  Power washing and touch ups should be performed as needed to prevent any major build ups of mold, algae, or fungus.  This will keep the siding in tip top shape both structurally and aesthetically.

Your homes landscaping is another element that cannot be ignored.  It is a huge part of the exterior view of your home.  Homeowners are wise to complete weekly maintenance such as mowing, weeding, and watering on-top of the chores that need to be completed at least twice a season such as tree trimming, edging, fresh mulch, separating over grown plants, and grass care.

Learn more about Kearns Brothers, a full-service home improvement contractor servicing all Southeast Michigan’s interior and exterior construction needs by visiting their website at or contact a remodeling expert at 888.355.6700.

Planning your home improvement projects by the seasons

Spring is a good time to repair or restore your wood deck. (Benjamin C Tankersley/For The Washington Post)
As the last bit of snow melts off my front porch, all of the wear and tear of the winter weather is apparent in the chipped paint and rotted wood stairs. Add those repairs to a growing to-do list that includes installing a fence, landscaping and replacing a window.

All of those projects will cost a few dollars and require some advance planning, but figuring out the best time to get started is a little daunting. It doesn’t have to be, according to Dan DiClerico, a home expert at HomeAdvisor.

“Timing with home improvement or home maintenance is really everything. If you get the timing right, you’re going to save yourself time, aggravation and maybe a little money,” he said. “You have to consider the weather, the cost of materials, which fluctuate throughout the year, and labor availability. Those three factors drive the timing around certain projects.”

One of the biggest challenges for home renovation is a persistent shortage of labor contributing to longer wait times and higher costs for projects, according to Houzz, a home remodeling and design website. General contractors, remodelers and design-build firms surveyed by the company noted an increase in subcontractor costs leading to higher overall project costs for clients in the past year.

“While there are perfect times of year to do this or that, ultimately, the schedule of the project is conditional on the schedule of the professional you’re about to hire,” said Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz.

No matter what projects homeowners plan on tackling, Sitchinava advises that they educate themselves on estimated costs and set aside an additional 20 percent over their budgets. A homeowner doing repairs should talk to several local contractors to gauge their availability and get a few bids.


Weather is going to dictate the timing of a number of projects, such as installing a fence.

“Obviously, you don’t want to be digging post holes in frozen ground,” said Don Vandervort, founder of, a home improvement website. “Lots of projects require planning and getting permits, which can take an unexpected amount of time, so plan ahead.”

If you want to enjoy your wood deck or pool in the summer, Vandervort recommends that repair and restoration work on those items be completed in the spring. The same goes for upgrading your air conditioner, which is best addressed before sweltering temperatures take hold. By then, HVAC specialists are likely to be booked solid, leaving you little wiggle room for scheduling your project.

To get ahead of the rainy season, DiClerico suggests that homeowners consider fixing their gutters in early spring. Many gutters take a beating in the winter. You at least want to make sure the leader pipes aren’t clogged and the water is staying five feet away from the house, DiClerico said.

“Spring time is the perfect time to give your whole gutter system a once-over to make sure that rain isn’t going to find its way inside your home,” he said. “You may not have to go all in for a complete overhaul or bring in a professional. Just be careful on that ladder if you’re going to do the cleaning yourself.”


If you are looking to replace a few old windows, summer is a good time to save money on the job, because manufacturers tend to slash their prices around June and July, DiClerico said. It can take a while to order windows, so Vandervort recommends getting a jump-start on the process.

Summer is also ideal for servicing your furnace as well as your repairing your fireplace or cleaning the chimney. More furnace and fireplace professionals are available during the summer months because people tend to wait until it gets chilly to tackle heating-related projects. That’s not to say that you can’t wait until early fall to clean your chimney, but you might have to compete with more homeowners to schedule the job.


Early fall is when you want to start preparing for winter, Vandervort said. He advises homeowners to replace worn weather stripping or storm doors and consider caulking any drafty areas.

“You want to begin making your home cozy and comfortable for the winter, so you can get maximum benefit and enjoyment both in terms of energy savings and comfort,” Vandervort said.

DiClerico said early fall is also an ideal time to freshen up the exterior of your house and get the best painters. By then, the college students whom some companies hire for the summer months have gone back to school, so you’re likely to get more skilled painters. For optimal adhesion of paint, manufacturers also recommend the application of exterior paint when the temperature is 50 to 90 degrees and not too muggy, DiClerico said.

Waiting until the fall to complete certain exterior house projects could also help you avoid the severe labor shortages of the summer months.

“If you want to replace a roof or siding or get some porch work done, summer time will be the hardest time to find any of those specialty trades,” said Sitchinava at Houzz.

Another ideal fall project is lawn care, because the weather conditions are best for fertilizing and aeration. The weeks between Labor Day and Columbus Day present the best weather for lawn maintenance. You’re not doing your lawn any harm with a spring application of fertilizer, but DiClerico said people tend to overdo it during that period.


Toward the end of the winter, you should take a look at pruning your trees, DiClerico said. This could wait until early spring as well, but as the cold weather draws to a close, any weaknesses in the limbs that developed over the winter will be evident and ripe for trimming.

Interior painting is another project that is best executed in the late winter, when manufacturers offer the best deals on paint.

Winter is also a good time for kitchen and bathroom remodeling because of material and contractor availability. These are projects that you definitely need to start planning at least three months ahead of time, but executing the work during this season could save you time and aggravation, DiClerico said.

Original Source:

Written By:

Date: March 28 2018

Home Improvements To Increase Energy Efficiency

Here at Kearns Brothers we are often asked about energy efficient upgrades.  Many homeowners are finding it quite costly to heat and cool their homes thus compelling them to investigate ways to increase the energy efficiency of their homes.  When considering enhancements to your home that increase its overall efficiency it is important to start by evaluating the exterior “envelope” of your home.

The first step in improving the efficiency of your home and decreasing your overall utilities comes from eliminating air from entering or exiting the home unnecessarily.  A new, bigger furnace or air conditioning unit will do nothing to decrease your utility bills if the air is still seeping through windows, doors, walls, or the roof.

Window Replacements

New windows are one of the first home improvements that we would suggest to homeowners with older homes or worn out windows to improve a homes energy efficiency.  Yes, high-quality replacement windows can put a large dent in a homeowner’s home improvement budget however, not only do they provide energy savings they also provide a solid return on investment when going to sell your home.

If new windows are out of the question, another option is weather-stripping.  This process includes sealing areas where air is seeping in and out of the home such as windows, doors, cracks found in attic piping, chimney, wiring, and recessed lighting. Little crevices can radically increase heating and cooling expenses.  These minor, open areas need to be addressed before insulation issues are addressed.

Additional Insulation

The next area to address is insulation. Adding insulation, of at least ten inches, on the attic floor is a must.  Since heat naturally rises this is the first place that should be taken care of with additional insulation.  Adding insulation to the walls of an existing home is often a little trickier than with new construction.  The best time to add insulation to older homes is when you are in the process of installing new siding or updating the exterior such as adding stone veneer or other masonry upgrades.

Another budget conscience way to increase the energy efficiency in your home is by having a home improvement contractor seal and insulate your homes duct work.  Ducts are responsible for leaking heated and cooled air throughout the attic, basement, and crawlspaces of the house.  By having a professional contractor seal and insulate the duct work in your home can cut your heating and cooling expenses upwards of thirty percent.

Look Into your Heating and Cooling Systems

Once your home has been effectively sealed homeowners will see a significant decrease in heating and cooling expenses.  Heating and cooling systems over ten years old are often considered inefficient by many HVAC specialists.  Of course, there is always going to be a new and improved, high efficiency upgrades you can install but without the maintenance mentioned above this won’t help provide any cost savings to homeowners.  Reputable HVAC specialist and home improvement contractors will always suggest making the modifications within the space to create an air tight seal before unnecessarily removing working heating and cooling systems.  If your home is already sealed and insulated properly and you are still looking to increase energy efficiency then and only then should you look into the latest and greatest high efficiency heating and cooling unit.

Learn more about Kearns Brothers, a full-service home improvement contractor servicing all of Southeast Michigan’s construction needs by visiting their website at or contact a remodeling expert at 888.355.6700.

Springtime Checkup for Maintaining Your Homes Exterior

Owning a home is synonymous with home improvements and maintenance.  The perfect time to take inventory of what needs to be done around your home in order to keep it running full speed ahead is during the first month of spring.  This is especially true with the homes exterior.  The snow has melted meaning that the landscape and roof are no longer covered and can be thoroughly examined.  Your home has gotten through the tough months of winter and will start to show signs of wear that will need to be taken care to prevent further, more expensive repairs or replacements later down the road.  As with all home improvements, maintaining your home is important and it is crucial that any maintenance and repairs are done by professional contractors that are licensed and insured.

Spring Checkup for Exterior Home Maintenance

  • Your homes roof is one of its most important features.  It provides necessary protection to the structure of the home and is also your families first defense against the harsh winter elements.  What this means is that come spring your roof is one of the most important regions of your home to maintain.  Dead decaying leaves have made their home on your roof for the last six months.  Moss has been given the perfect opportunity to make a home.  Now only is it important aesthetically to take care of the debris it is important to the overall condition of your roof.

By hiring a professional roofing contractor to inspect your roof you are guaranteed that cracks and leaks are found.  Often homeowners have no idea what to look for when it comes roof damageProfessional roofers will check the roofs vents, louvers, flashing, and roof valleys to ensure that the caulking is intact and free of damage.  Shingling will be checked for blistering, buckling, missing shingles and more as well.  Maintaining your roof is a lot more practical than replacing it.  By maintaining the existing roof, you are looking at expanded the lifespan of your roof well past the manufacturer’s warranty.

  • Gutters are another element of the exterior of your home that is crucial in protecting the structure of your home from water damage. Gutters must be cleaned regularly as debris that can build up will prevent water from draining properly.  Water that backs up within the gutter will find it’s way under the shingling and into your home if not maintained.  Loose or leaking gutters should be repaired as well.
  • Chimneys are many peoples saving grace through the long, cold Michigan winters. It is important that after being used non-stop throughout the winter months that your chimney is given special attention.  Chimneys should be examined and repaired.  It is also a good time to have your chimney cleaned professionally.  Soot build up can often hide areas that need maintenance.
  • To preserve summer fun have your deck inspected at the beginning of spring. It is a great time to check for loose boards, soft wood, or signs of damage from water.  You can also determine from the amount of discoloration if the deck needs to be resealed.  Spring is a perfect time to prepare the deck for when temps warm up and stain and sealant can be applied.

Spring comes along to wake us from our long winter slumbers where we can procrastinate and put things off until the temperatures warm up.  Spring temps allow exterior work to be done without the baking sun of summer.  Maintenance done in the spring also means time spent enjoying the Michigan summer instead of weekends stuck at home while work is done on your home.  As your landscape awakens and buds start to form throughout your homes landscaping call to schedule a professional exterior home inspection to perform the necessary maintenance on your home.

Learn more about Kearns Brothers, a full-service home improvement contractor servicing all of Southeast Michigan’s construction needs by visiting their website at or contact a remodeling expert at 888.355.6700.


What Will Your Home Renovations Reveal??

Home renovation reveals artifacts from 1800s

A portion of the artifacts a man doing home renovations found in a Massachusetts ceiling.

While Boston is very rich in history and culture, most people don’t expect to find artifacts dating from the 1800s inside the walls of their homes.

Nick Murphy was one of those people, until he began to renovate his parents’ home in Winthrop and found glimpses to the past hiding in the ceiling.

Some of the items Murphy found included door hinges, a comb and personal items such as letters and a dance card.

“I started pulling the ceiling down and I noticed newspaper clippings coming down with it,” said Murphy.

One of the items, a dance card, was written out when Chester Arthur was president of the United States.

“1884, this was held by somebody who was actually going to attend a ball,” said Murphy.

Another letter, decades apart from the dance card, was written in 1942 and details the interactions between a brother and a sister.

“That letter is from the World War II era and it’s between a brother and a sister,” said Murphy. The sister’s name is Edith and that’s who it is addressed to. It’s talking about getting Edith out of WW2 and out of the navy and it talks about the impending surrender of the Germans and the Japanese.”

Murphy says he doesn’t know if these items belonged to people who once lived in his parents’ home, but know these items all come with a story that he hopes will live on.

“For us, it’s this preserved piece of history, but for them it was their actual day to day life – it was just interesting to find it,” said Murphy.

Murphy says that after he’s done with renovating the room, his next project will be to frame up all those items and hang them on the walls of that room as a tribute.

Original Source:

 7:03 a.m. Monday, March 19, 2018  National/World News

Getting a Tax Refund? Use It on Home Improvements

February signals the start of tax season, a time when many Americans gain nearly $3,000 on average in the form of a tax refund, according to the IRS.

Splurging on a vacation or iPhone X is tempting, but as a homeowner, sinking refund cash into your house may be smarter, especially if debts are already under control, says Lisa Greene-Lewis, a certified public accountant and tax expert at TurboTax.

Even small home improvements can nudge home value — and your quality of life — in a positive direction. But how do you decide what to do?

The first question to ask, says Craig Webb, editor in chief of Remodeling magazine, is “How long do I plan to stay in the home?” The answer dictates how much you should spend on home improvements and which projects to prioritize.

If you’re staying put, focus on changes that make your life better and improve value, Webb says. Fix what’s broken before thinking about curb appeal.

Here are some home improvement ideas in several price ranges so you can put that tax refund to work.

» MORE: See how much your home is really worth

Around $100

Replace cabinet hardware. Changing knobs or handles is fairly simple, but gives the whole room a new look, says Colin Shaw, owner of Shaw Remodeling in Niantic, Connecticut.

Seal the driveway. You’ll reduce unsightly cracks and slow deterioration of the concrete or asphalt.

Get the HVAC system serviced. Regular cleaning can add 10 years to the life of your system, says Laura Hales, a real estate agent and owner of Hales and Associates in Overland Park, Kansas.

Around $500

Add a tile backsplash. Backsplashes provide an instant transformation at a fraction of what a full kitchen remodel costs.

Refresh interior paint. New paint in main rooms brightens the whole house, and doing it yourself saves on labor costs, Hales says.

Insulate the attic. Buyers love energy efficiency, and you’ll love lower utility bills.

Around $1,000

Get a new front door. Shaw recommends fiberglass doors that don’t swell or contract with the weather.

Replace inefficient appliances like the water heater, toilet, refrigerator or dishwasher.

Tile the bathroom floor. Heavy foot traffic leaves flooring dingy. Opt for bright, easy-to-clean tile instead.

Around $3,000

Install new kitchen countertops. Almost all buyers want granite, quartz and other solid surfaces, Hales says.

Replace the garage door. A new garage door recoups around 98% of its cost in improved home value, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2018 Cost vs. Value report.

Enhance your landscaping. Stone pavers, a fire pit or exterior lighting boost curb appeal and functionality.

Original Author:  

February 27, 2018

Original Source: