Chasing Pavements: 6 Cool Uses for Concrete in Every Part of Your Home

Step aside, shiplap: Concrete is having a moment. No longer relegated to construction zones or outdoor spaces, the cool composite material is popping up in unexpected places inside our homes—from walls to bathtubs and beyond.

Concrete companies “are doing more interesting things like trough sinks, entire shower stalls, staircases, really large fireplace surrounds, wall panels, or furniture pieces,” says designer Ana Cummings. “The possibilities are pretty endless.”

It’s also relatively cheap, extremely durable, and easy to stain with beautiful colors or texture for flair. Plus, despite what you might think, concrete isn’t just for modern spaces. Experts agree it can be a nice complement to farmhouse-chic interiors; just consider working in rustic handmade metal or wood pieces to warm things up.

“It’s all about balance,” says HomeGoods style expert Mike Harrison. “In general, 2018 décor is moving toward more fresh, natural materials, so I think it’s important to mix concrete with other natural elements like stone, copper, or granite to make it tasteful.”

A few caveats: In the hands of a novice DIYer, concrete can crack. And it’s permanent once applied to a surface, so be sure you love it before you commit! Finally, if you live in an older or historic home, use concrete judiciously, as it can clash with that aesthetic.

Ready to dig in?  We’ve collected some of the most unexpected ways to bring concrete to life in your home.

See the 6 Ways Here.

Ready to Remodel? These Home Renovations Will Pay Off the Most (and the Least) in 2019

New year, new home renovations? Whether you’re getting ready to transform your entire kitchen into a farmhouse-chic dream (hello, shiplap and apron sink!) or maybe just to add some new wood floor for the foyer, it pays to know what kind of return on investment your home renovation might deliver. According to Remodeling magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value report, not all home remodeling projects deliver the same bang for the buck. Far from it, in fact.

So which projects give you the biggest return on investment these days? This year (like last), the No. 1 finisher was garage-door replacement. While not as fabulous as a full-kitchen remodel, this project essentially pays for itself, earning you a whopping 97.5% of your money back.

For this report, now in its 32nd year, researchers analyzed 22 popular home improvements in 136 markets nationwide. The magazine polled contractors on how much they charge for these jobs, as well as real estate agents on how much they think these features would boost a home’s market price. They then used those figures to calculate what percentage of its cost each project might recoup—or not.

Overall, the report found that in 2019, Americans should expect to make back 66.1% of the money they spend on renovations—a slight bump from last year’s 65.8%.

And the report found that for some projects, the ROI is really worth it, especially those improvements that the whole neighborhood can see—in front of your house.

“The primary points of the evidence show us that curb appeal projects add to overall value of the house more than interior projects,” DeKorne notes. “It’s all about first impressions.”

The chart below gives a full rundown of the top renovations, including how much they cost, their value at resale, and the percentage that can be recouped. After garage doors, the top finisher was manufactured stone veneer, with a 94.9% return on investment. Glamorous? No. Valuable? You bet.

A new project on the list this year speaks to another decidedly unsexy but invaluable trend: installing metal roofing. Compared with asphalt shingles, metal roofing costs significantly more, but offers much greater durability. And while metal roofs only yield a 60.9% ROI, DeKorne predicts their value will increase.

“This is the first year we’ve included metal roofing, and it’s gotten a lot of interest,” he says. “It’s more expensive, but you’ll get a better value over time than a common asphalt roof.”

And if you’re absolutely dying to renovate something indoors this year, DeKorne suggests keeping it in the kitchen. While most of the projects with the highest returns are exterior replacements, a minor kitchen repair cracks the top 10, with an 80.5% recoup.

“When buyers are looking at a house, they want to know the kitchen is something they can live with,” says DeKorne.

A look at return on investment for popular home renovations.

Original Article


Dual pane windows

Double-paned windows are said to save energy, save money, and add to a home’s value, but we did some investigation and put their reputation to the test.

Energy loss attributed to windows accounts for nearly 25 percent of the annual heating and cooling costs for the average American home, according to the Department of Energy. Fortunately, there are steps you can take as a homeowner to drastically lower that statistic, including installing double-paned windows and utilizing other energy-efficient window technologies.

The Pros

From lowering your environmental footprint to insulating your home against outside noise, it’s hard to find reasons you shouldn’t consider energy-efficient windows, but here are some pros for the product:

  • Double-paned Windows Save Money: Steve Poitz, a member of the Canadian Window Standards Subcommittee and an engineer who specializes in energy-efficient windows, states that even a clear glass, double-paned vinyl or wood-framed window can reduce energy usage by up to 24 percent in cold climates during the winter, and by up to 18 percent in hot climates during the summer, when compared to older, single-pane models.
  • Adding Other Technologies Saves Even More: There are a lot of products that go into a good double-pane window. You can expect energy savings of anywhere from 30 to 50 percent, depending on whether you choose average energy-efficient windows or top of the line models.
  • Double-paned Windows and the Environment: Reduced energy use doesn’t just mean you save money, it also means you’re burning less fossil fuel and creating fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Double-paned Windows Insulate Your Home from Noise: Double-paned windows significantly reduce outdoor noise pollution. Double-paned windows can be a valuable investment in the peace and quiet department, especially in busy urban areas.

The Cons

There really isn’t a downside to double-paned windows as a product. There are, however, issues related to window quality and installation that can reduce, or negate, the energy savings you are aiming to receive.

  • Can’t Buy Just One: Replacing individual windows rather than upgrading entire homes or floors will not yield intended energy savings. Old windows will still leak air even if you install one double-paned one. Desired energy savings will likely result in purchasing many windows at a time.
  • Quality Matters: From failed seals to improperly spaced glass, poorly manufactured windows, or windows that fail, can negate energy savings and even lead to other problems, such as condensation developing between the panes. Quality is key, and it usually comes at a higher price.

The Costs

Expect to pay about $600 for a reasonable, middle-of-the-road window, and about $850 for the best the industry has to offer. Given the pros, it’s wise to focus on possible savings than initial cost.

Original Article

Make the Front Porch a Selling Point

The front porch is making a comeback. More builders are adding them back into new home designs too.

The front porch was once a mainstay in home designs in the early 1900s. But over the years it has gotten swapped out for those street-facing garages. Also, homeowners sought more privacy and started favoring decks in their backyards than expansive front porches facing their neighbors.

Now, we’re seeing those iconic front porches coming back.

And the younger generation is bringing a different spin to this idea of “porching.” There’s this growing movement called “Porchfest.” This is where neighborhoods across the country are holding events, like music festivals or even a speaker series, right from homeowners’ front porches.

So if the listing you’re staging has a front porch, make sure to take advantage. Add some rocking chairs, a porch swing, or outdoor furniture–complete with cushions and pillows–to show it off as a place to sip lemonade, relax, and mingle with neighbors on a warm summer day.

Look at how some of these designers on Houzz used the front porch to boost a home’s curb appeal.

Original article with more pictures

No A/C? I’m a big fan!

Looking for a cost efficient alternative to solar panels?
Check out the whole house fan:

Q: What is a whole house fan?

A: Whole house fans are an alternative type of home cooling unit. They come in two main construction models: belt-driven, and direct-driven. Direct-driven fans are cheaper, but tend to be noisier than belt-driven fans.

Q: How does it work?

A: Simply open up a few windows and switch the fan on! The fan draws in cool air from outside and moves it through your home to create a breeze. Hot air in the home gets pushed up into the attic where it is ventilated. An additional attic fan can be paired with the whole house fan to push hot air out of the attic more effectively.

Q: Why should I add a whole house fan?

A: A whole house fan can be paired with your air conditioner to reduce your monthly cooling cost. It doesn’t replace A/C on those sweltering summer days. It will, however, work very efficiently to get cool air from the outside into your house.

Q: How much does it cost?

A: All you need to start cooling your home is the whole house fan component. Extra ventilation is optional. The cost with installation but without extra attic fan ventilation runs about $1,200 – $1,550.