For The Home

New Roof Is Greatest Remodeling Value

What is  the best value in a remodel project!

DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 09, 2015

Aside from the need to upgrade worn out features, two of the biggest reasons owners put money into remodeling are to increase the home’s value and to improve their enjoyment of the home. But according to a new report from the National Association of REALTORS® and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), there’s not a lot of overlap between those two goals.

Interior projects the study examined:

New master suite
Kitchen upgrade
Complete kitchen renovation
Bathroom renovation
Add new bathroom
Basement conversion to living area
Attic conversion to living area
Insulation upgrade
Closet renovation
New wood flooring
Hardwood flooring refinish
HVAC replacement

The first-ever “Remodeling Impact Report” looks at the resale value and customer satisfaction of 12 interior and eight exterior projects. The projects range from upgrades (a new HVAC system) to full-scale remodels (a new master suite). Members of NARI reviewed specs and provided cost estimates for each project.

Projects with Greatest Cost Recovery

REALTORS® reported that three interior projects and two exterior projects—all estimated to cost under $10,000—provide the greatest cost recovery at resale:

Exterior projects the study examined:

New steel front door
New fiberglass front door
New garage door
New vinyl siding
New fiber-cement siding
New roofing
New vinyl windows
New wood windows

Projects That Make Owners Happiest

By contrast, owners who had actually completed one of the 20 home improvements being tracked in the study were asked how much the work increased their sense of happiness at home.  With one exception, it was the big-ticket items that brought the greatest sense of joy.

The resulting data was used to calculate the “Joy Score,” which combined the share of respondents who reported they were “happy” and “satisfied” when seeing their completed project and divided the share by 10 to create a ranking between 1 and 10. Higher Joy Scores indicate greater happiness from the project. Here are homeowners’ top five:

Projects That Appeal to Buyers

REALTORS® were also asked, regardless of cost, which improvements were most appealing for buyers. Not surprisingly, the top five interior projects were very similar to those that give owners the greatest joy—but REALTORS® said these big-ticket items aren’t the best in terms of payback when the home is sold. By contrast, REALTORS® said owners will likely recover more than 80 percent of the cost on four of the five exterior projects with the greatest buyer appeal.

The overall winner? When you look at intersection of buyer appeal, cost, return, and owner joy, a new roof appears to be the smartest remodeling investment. A home, after all, is first and foremost a shelter.

You can access a summary of the report, including methodology, at realtor.org.

Check out this first annual report that the National Association of REALTORS® has put together

2015 Remodeling Impact Report

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10 PROJECTS TO “GREEN” YOUR HOME

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“Going green” means living in a way that’s environmentally friendly. It uses less water, less electricity, and less fuel, conserving natural resources while protecting the environment. It also saves money on utility bills, which is something all homeowners can appreciate. From simple to elaborate, here are a few ways to green your house and property.

Focus On the Light

Replacing your most-used light bulbs with CFLs will lower your electric bill while producing less heat and lasting longer than your incandescent bulbs.

While you’re at it, consider adding dimmer switches, motion sensors, and timers for when you’re away from home in the evening. Also, keep your light bulbs clean: Dirt and grease coats the bulbs and not only reduces the available light, but causes the bulb to burn out sooner.

Mix Your Own Cleaners

Many commercial cleaning products contain bleach and other harsh chemicals. Switch to natural products and solutions you mix up yourself. Clean up hard water deposits with vinegar, for instance, or use it to wash your windows. White vinegar mixed with hydrogen peroxide also sanitizes countertops (killing 99 percent of E. coli).

Go Low-Flow

Low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators (the tip that screws on to the nozzle) cost little and can save about half the water without sacrificing water pressure. Low-flow toilets are another option. Look for a water-saving toilet displaying the WaterSense label. Alternatively, fill a 2-liter bottle with water and drop it in the toilet tank to displace some of the water. This will force the toilet to use less water per flush.

If you’re in the market for a new water heater, consider choosing a tankless water heater. It allows you to use the same amount of water, but it heats the water only when it’s needed, so you save a lot of energy. Wrapping a conventional (tank-based) water heater with a special insulation and insulating all the hot-water pipes also conserves energy.

Spread the Greenery

To really green your house and property, visit your local plant and tree nursery. Outdoors, shade trees not only cut your cooling costs (up to 25 percent), but in the winter, trees and shrubs also break the wind and affect your heating costs. Inside, plants not only make a home feel more comfortable, they also help purify the air and produce oxygen.

Reduce VOCs

Indoors and out, you’re surrounded by volatile organic compounds. VOCs are any carbon-containing substance that “off-gasses” (meaning it becomes a vapor, or evaporates) at room temperature. VOCs pose a significant health hazard. Paints, varnishes, cigarette smoke, pesticides, gasoline and other fuels, various glues and adhesives, cosmetic products, automotive exhaust, even cleaning products are but a few of the items that contain VOCs. When painting, look for low VOC paints, particularly those featuring the Green Seal.

Look for the Energy Star Logo

Getting rid of old appliances and upgrading to new, energy-efficient models can save you a significant amount of money. The EPA suggests replacing any appliance older than 10 years. Select models displaying the Energy Star logo to ensure energy efficiency.

Plant a Garden

Gardening can be a soothing activity, but this project also ensures you have healthy food. Home-grown food costs drastically less, enhances the outdoor environment, and reduces the environmental impact of commercially-bought food. Even if you have a small property, you can use containers and hanging devices to maximize your growing space.

Reduce Your Need for Paper

Register for paperless billing with utility and finance companies, and stop getting as much unsolicited mail as possible. The Federal Trade Commission offers a guide on how to “just say no” to junk mail.

Use Reclaimed Wood

Have a DIY project needing wood? “Used” wood is environmentally friendly and creates a beautiful look. Salvaged lumber can be used anywhere regular wood is used. You can even get creative and build a fence with wood pallets, for instance.

Move the Air

Insulating and sealing your home is critical. Another simple project to lower your heating and cooling costs is installing ceiling fans. In the winter, set the rotation to push warm air downward; in the summer, switch the blade rotation to draw warm air up instead. Moving air makes it feel cooler in the summer as well, allowing you to keep the thermostat a little higher.

As you green your home and lifestyle, be on the lookout for additional incentives. You may be eligible for tax benefits for some energy-saving projects. Going green doesn’t have to be expensive.

Fogged Windows?…Replace or New for Energy Efficiency?

When you are looking to replace those fogged windows……. see the article below.

Fogged Window2

Fogged Window1

Understanding Energy Ratings for Windows and Doors

By: Karin Beuerlein

Published: January 4, 2013

Qualifying for the $200-$500 federal tax credit on new windows and doors depends on two measurements, U-factor and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient.

Just because windows or doors are Energy Star-labeled doesn’t mean they’re eligible for a federal tax credit. And with costs running about $500-$1,000 per window including labor, it’s wise to know something about the scientific lingo and numbers on the product labels you’re likely to encounter. Here’s your pro-level label-decoding guide so you can be sure you’re buying qualified products.

Which Labels Matter?  

The two labels you should look for: The U.S. Department of Energy’s blue-and-yellow Energy Star label, which specifies the climate zones the product is certified for, and the white National Fenestration Rating Council label. Nonprofit NFRC is the industry-recognized certifying body for windows and doors. It reports raw numbers only; Energy Star tells you whether those numbers constitute superior performance, putting its seal of approval on those products that meet its standards.

To confuse matters, DOE has issued a blue label that manufacturers can use to signify that a product qualifies for the tax credit. But DOE doesn’t require that manufacturers include it.

What You Need to Get the Tax Credit

For windows or doors to qualify for the credit, two NFRC-supplied measurements must each be equal to or less than 0.3, regardless of climate: U-factor and solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC). You must also have the manufacturer’s signed statement that the product complies with IRS requirements. This either comes with purchase or can be downloaded from the manufacturer’s website.

Don’t be swayed by ratings the manufacturer may post on its own label. A window or door’s frame and other components (weather stripping, sidelights, transoms) can significantly affect its energy efficiency, so NFRC measures based on the entire unit, not just the window glass or door slab alone. Manufacturers, on the other hand, sometimes report values that don’t take the entire unit into account, according to Energy Star.

A Guide to Measurements

The NFRC label typically lists five measurements, including the tax credit-critical U-factor and SHGC. The other three are somewhat less important to energy performance, according to Energy Star, but can help you judge how well a window or door will perform in a particular application—for example, whether it’ll let in enough light.

Where you live affects which measurements are most important, but the tax credit requirements are uniform across the country. There are four Energy Star climate zones, differentiated by whether heating, cooling, or a mix of the two is most critical to energy performance.

1. U-Factor

Range: 0.20 to 1.20

The lower the number, the better an insulator the window or door is.

Tax credit qualification requirement: 0.3 or less

Efficient Windows Collaborative climate recommendations:

  • Northern: 0.35 or less
  • North Central or South Central: 0.4 or less
  • Southern: 0.60 or less

A low U-factor means that less heat escapes in the winter, which makes it particularly important in cold northern climates, according to the Collaborative, a coalition of government agencies, research organizations, and manufacturers that promote efficient window technology.

2. Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC)

Range: 0 to 1

The lower the number, the less solar radiation—and heat—the window or door allows inside.

Tax credit qualification requirement: 0.3 or less

EWC climate recommendations:

  • Northern: The highest you can find (paired with a low U-factor) if cooling isn’t a significant concern; up to 0.55 if cooling is a significant concern.
  • North Central: 0.4 or less for climates with significant air conditioning; up to 0.55 for climates with moderate air conditioning.
  • South Central or Southern: 0.4 or less.

SHGC refers to the solar radiation a window or door allows inside. Seek the lowest possible SHGC rating in warm climates to minimize the use of air conditioning. Look for a slightly higher number in cooler climates so that the sun can help heat your home in winter, but be sure to balance SHGC with an efficient U-factor for your area.

3. Visible Transmittance 

Range: 0 to 1

Lower number means the room will be dimmer; a higher number means the room will be brighter.

Tax credit qualification requirement: none

This number applies to windows or doors with windows only. Visible transmittance is the amount of light a window allows to pass through. With older window glazing techniques, VT and solar heat gain were basically the same; the brighter a room, the hotter it got. But new technologies allow windows to let in lots of light while the room stays cool.

Consult VT numbers if you’re looking to reduce glare in a room or fill it with natural light, but be warned that a very low VT may mean you have to use artificial lighting even during the day.

4. Air Leakage

Range: N/A, but .0.3 is standard building code

The lower the number, the more airtight the window or door.

Tax credit qualification requirement: none

This number, expressed in cubic feet per minute per square foot of window/door area, represents the amount of air that the window or door’s frame allows to pass through. Energy Star standards don’t consider air leakage because it’s difficult to measure accurately and can change over time as frame materials expand, contract, or warp in place, according to the EWC. Still, this measurement can help you compare similar products, especially if they’ll be buffeted by the elements.

5. Condensation Resistance

Range: 1 to 100

The lower the number, the more condensation the window or door allows to build up.

Tax credit qualification requirement: none

Condensation resistance is a measure of how much moisture a window or door allows to build up on the surface (which can drip onto wood and cause mold or discoloration) or between glazing layers (which can’t be clean and blocks your view). Energy Star-rated windows tend to resist condensation well, so this number won’t likely affect your purchase decision.

Before Buying New Windows

You can recoup 78.7% of the project cost for midrange vinyl replacement windows, according to Remodeling Magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report.

But before you buy, check out these articles for more info:

What You Need to Know About Buying Energy Efficient Windows

Repairing Windows May Be the Smarter Option

Read more: http://members.houselogic.com/articles/understanding-energy-ratings-for-windows-and-doors/preview/#ixzz3HffFRrmo
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