Home And House Improvement

Get expert decorating ideas, watch H&H TV, see inside celebrity homes, find how-to tips, DIY projects, small spaces and kitchen makeovers. In the hottest housing markets, springing for a kitchen or bath remodel is a sure-fire investment, often returning more than 100 percent of the cost. In Baltimore, for instance, a $9,400 bathroom remodel recouped 182 percent of its cost at resale, according to Remodeling’s 2004 study. The markets in Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco and San Diego also offered triple-digit returns on a bathroom remodel. Minor kitchen remodels (average cost: $15,273) also provided returns of more than 100 percent in cities including Providence, R.I., Miami, New Orleans and, of course, San Diego, where a $17,928 investment netted $27,000 on resale.

Concurrently obtaining a remodel loan means long approval times, high-interest rates, and balloon payments. lenders don’t like to approve remodel loans at this time because your intended house, in its current less-than-perfect state, cannot act as proper collateral. Water-smart yard. Replacing a section of turfgrass with native ground covers or pea gravel will reduce the maintenance costs while adding visual interest.

Some house hunters look for move-in ready properties, but buyers on HGTV’s House Hunters Renovation look for spaces they can put their own stamp on. See how they transform run-down or ordinary houses into beautiful homes. To learn more about making and paying for home improvements, check out The Essential Guide for First-Time Homeowners , by Ilona Bray and Alayna Schroeder (Nolo).

Many geographic regions of the United States consider high performance windows to be a meaningful home energy efficiency improvement. However, within hot-humid climates dominated by mechanical cooling for most of the year, the energy losses from older, lower performance windows are often much less than those for homes in northern climates dominated by mechanical heating. One reason for this is that the temperature differential between the indoor and outdoor air is often smaller in Florida’s extreme HVAC seasons (e.g., 78 degrees Fahrenheit indoors vs. 98 degrees Fahrenheit outdoors for a 20 degrees Fahrenheit differential during the summer peak) versus the extreme HVAC seasons in northern climates (e.g., 65 degrees Fahrenheit indoors vs. 25 degrees Fahrenheit outdoors for a 40 degrees Fahrenheit differential during the winter peak).

The real estate market always has its share of “flippers” – real estate investors with varying levels of expertise who buy properties and fix them up, only to turn around and sell them for a profit a short while later. However, before you get dollar signs in your eyes, realize that it’s mostly the pros who can make a living at this. They’ve got contractors on staff and a fine-tuned idea about how to get the highest return for the lowest project costs.