Solar Panels: Pros & Cons


As the cost of electricity increases, more homeowners are thinking about purchasing solar panels or enrolling in a solar lease program. Before committing your time, effort and money, consider these solar panel system pros and cons:

PROS

    • Solar panels add value to your home. Nine out of ten homebuyers prefer to purchase an energy-efficient home even if the price is 2%-3% higher than a similar non-energy-efficient home, according to the National Association of Home Builders.
    • The federal government offers a 30% Investment Tax Credit against your personal income taxes on the purchase of a solar panel system.
    • Solar lease programs offer a no-money-down option, a locked-in reduced electrical rate and a full warranty for the duration of the lease.
    • Solar panel systems save you money on your monthly electrical bill. A solar lease provides an average 15% savings on monthly utility costs. The savings are even higher for panels that are purchased outright. However, this is offset by the cost of the panels. California is also a “net metering” state which means you receive credit on your electric bill for any excess energy your solar panels produce.

CONS

    • Solar panel systems can cost $15,000-$30,000 installed.
    • You may have to perform costly roof repairs before you can install solar panels.
    • Solar lease contracts may cause a delay in closing or even cancellation of a pending home sale. Some buyers may not qualify to assume your solar lease. However, most solar companies will allow you to buy your solar panel system if you are interested in converting the lease. In this case, you will then need to negotiate with the buyer the price they are willing to pay for the existing system.
    • Solar panel systems are long-term investments. On average, it takes a homeowner 20 years to pay off the full cost of a solar panel system. Solar leases eliminate the investment aspect, but still require a similar, lengthy commitment.

Remember to keep me in mind for all your real estate needs. Thanks!

The Trending Kitchen Styles in Remodels

Farmhouse design continues to gain popularity in kitchen remodels, according to the 2019 Houzz Kitchen Trends Study, a survey of more than 1,300 homeowners who are planning or in the midst of a kitchen project.

Eighty-two percent of renovating homeowners this year who are changing the style of their kitchen says they’re making it farmhouse. Farmhouse now nearly ties contemporary in popularity (14 percent versus 15 percent, respectively). Transition—a mix of tradition and modern—still remains the most popular in kitchen design at 21 percent.

“This year’s study illuminates a number of prominent trends in today’s kitchen,” says Nino Sitchinava, Houzz principal economist. “Engineered materials are clearly taking over natural stone in countertops and flooring. Thanks in part to the versatility of these materials, white continues to dominate the kitchen, from cabinets to countertops and walls. Finally, rapid advances in wireless and voice technology are transforming some kitchens into ‘air traffic control’ centers of the home.”

Kitchens aren’t cheap to redo and are about 10 percent more expensive this year, according to the study. The median kitchen renovation cost $11,000, while a major renovation to a large kitchen (more than 200 feet) cost $33,000.

Here are some more kitchen trends that emerged from the Houzz report:

Gray cabinets: White cabinets remain the most common (43 percent), but gray cabinets are winning over more fans. About one in ten homeowners—or 11 percent—chose gray cabinets for their kitchen. Gray cabinets are then often paired with brushed or satin nickel door hardware.

White and quartz countertops: Granite continues to decline in popularity, while engineered quartz is surpassing all of the natural stone materials combined among kitchen remodelers who updated their countertops. White counters are gaining steam, making up nearly one in every three upgraded countertops.

Mixed finishes: More than half of homeowners—54 percent—say they’ve mixed metal finishes across their fixtures and hardware. For those who mix and match, nickel is popular, but many then opt for oil-rubbed bronze or brushed or satin black finish for door hardware and lighting fixtures.

Engineered flooring: Only a quarter of remodelers who updated their flooring chose natural hardwood, marking a significant decline from recent years. Engineered flooring—such as engineered wood, vinyl, and laminate—have become nearly twice as popular in the meantime.

Appliance finish: Stainless steel may still rule, but black stainless is growing more popular as an appliance finish. It is now in one of every 10 upgraded kitchens. Read The New Kitchen Finish: Black Stainless

High-tech add-ons: More than half of upgraded faucets are high-tech, including water efficiency, no-fingerprint coating, and touch-free activation. Other high-tech features in the kitchen include wireless controls in upgraded appliances and home assistants.

Original article

Read This Before You Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets

If you’ve  noticed the cost of new appliances, countertops, and cabinets, it’s no surprise that renovating a kitchen is one of the most expensive remodeling projects. While few homeowners find ways to boost the look of a dated refrigerator or tired granite, transforming a kitchen by freshening the cabinets that make up most of the room’s visual space is entirely within reach. But there’s more to the job than buying a gallon of your favorite color.

The saying that a successful paint job relies on diligent prep work is fitting when finishing previously coated cabinets. Unlike drywall, cabinets are made out of a variety of materials—from wood to metal—that are then covered with a range of finishes, from oil-based paint to plastics. But armed with the right primer, quality paint, the patience not to rush the process, and a long weekend, a DIYer can overhaul a kitchen without going over budget.

Cabinets can account for nearly 40 percent of a kitchen’s cost. Here’s how three common cabinet upgrades stack up in an average 10-by-10-foot kitchen. Repainting would cost less than $200. Adding new drawers and doors runs about $1,300, while upgrading to ready-to-assemble cabinets starts at about $1,630.

Read the rest HERE!

What Are the Best Ceiling Fans for Your Home?


The best ceiling fans will keep a room cool and be a budget-friendly stand-in for pricey air-conditioning. They look nice, too! While they don’t actually lower the temperature or remove humidity from a space, as air-conditioning does, they can make a substantial difference in warmer climates, thanks to something called the “wind-chill effect.” This is when your hair follicles register air movement which, in turn, makes you feel colder. The increased air flow also helps to evaporate sweat, another cooling sensation.

But choosing the best ceiling fan for your home can be a daunting task, especially with so many options out there. You want to buy something reliable that still fits perfectly into your budget. Before you head to the hardware or decor store, take a look at this guide on ceiling fans, with tidbits to help make buying one a whole lot smoother.

All about blades

You can choose a modern ceiling fan with one blade or shell out close to $1,000 for a tricked-out 10-blade model. But according to Consumer Reports, spending big bucks doesn’t guarantee a better fan—just a more elaborate design.

When deciding on the number of blades you need, keep this rule of thumb in mind: The more blades a ceiling fan has, the more weight there is pulling on the motor. “This pulling results in a fan that spins slower, but it’s also quieter than a two- or three-blade fan,” says Kelly Phillips of Advancedceilingsystems.com, a source for ceiling fan information.

Large blades with texture also make more noise than smooth blades.

Here’s what else to keep in mind in the blade numbers game:

Number of blades: Since fewer blades mean a lighter fan, one with two or three blades allows the motor to move at a high speed and move the air with greater force. “Fewer blades may be perfect for those who need stronger air circulation, despite the increased noise,” says Phillips. This makes three-blade fans perfect for spaces with high ceilings, or outdoors, where noise is less of an issue.
Four blades plus:
 The most common ceiling fan you’ll find in households is a standard four- or five-blade fan, says Phillips. These fans move at slower speeds than their three-blade counterparts, which results in less noise. “They do a great job at circulating air in a living or bedroom,” says Phillips.

Best ceiling fans for each room

No matter which style you choose, the most important thing is to choose a fan that fits the room you install it in. Here’s the size that will work best for the various rooms in your home.

29- to 36-inch fan: A smaller fan is great for bathrooms, laundry rooms, or breakfast nooks.

42- to 48-inch fan: Perfect for average-size rooms like bedrooms, kitchens, or dining rooms.

52- to 56-inch fan: Use for cooling your larger rooms—think a living room or master bedroom.

60-inch fan: This size will work best for great rooms or other large areas.

Know your fan’s CFM

The airflow produced by ceiling fans is measured in cubic feet per minute, or CFM, and should be noted on the manufacturer’s website. While 4,000 CFM is the average for a ceiling fan, the higher the CFM, the cooler you’ll be, says Perez.

Read the rest HERE!

6 Home Renovations to Avoid Before a Sale


If you’re planning to sell your home, simple renovations can add value and attract homebuyers. However, some home improvements may actually lower your home’s value or simply not provide the return you’re looking for.

Here are the top renovations to avoid before selling your home:

1. Extravagant light fixtures and accents. The cost of ornate features often exceeds the value they add to your home. Keep it basic.

2. Eccentric tile and excessive carpeting. Homebuyers favor clean, simple flooring. Quirky tile and too much carpet mean more makeover work for your buyer.

3. Bold wall designs. Bright paint colors, elaborate textures and even wallpaper can repel buyers. Stick to more neutral designs.

4. Luxury kitchen and bathrooms. Modernizing your kitchen and bathroom spaces provides a high return on your home — but avoid overly expensive, high-end upgrades that cost more than the added value.

5. Removing closets and combining bedrooms for extra space. These renovations hurt the marketability of your home, as buyers typically seek more bedrooms and storage.

6. High-maintenance landscaping. Intricate landscaping results in more maintenance for your buyer. Opt for simpler garden and yard designs to improve your curb appeal.

If you’re ready to sell, let me help you get the most return from your renovations. Call me for an appointment!

Bathroom Vanity Ideas That Are Functional and Stylish


When it comes to bathroom vanity ideas, there’s plenty to desire. Besides the abundance of storage space they can add, vanities also come in a variety of styles to suit any design aesthetic and need. And when the right one is matched to your home’s decor, it can make your space truly shine.

The benefit of a vanity is that it hides the pipes beneath your sink and provides an extra area to tuck away toiletries and cleaning supplies you need in the bathroom.

“The extra storage from the built-in drawers and shelving is one of the key benefits of a bathroom vanity—and the fact that it’s a piece of furniture that can dress up your bathroom’s look,” says Amy Bly, a home expert with Great Impressions Home Staging/Interiors, in Montville, NJ.

Whether you’re looking to renovate your master loo or touring open houses, consider the efficiency and style a vanity can offer.

To help you visualize the best loo for you, here are six bathroom vanity ideas.

See them HERE!

Pot Humor: 12 Hilarious Planters to Perk Up Your Home


When you think about exciting home decor, chances are good your mind probably doesn’t immediately drift to planters.

Terra-cotta, ceramic, plastic—they’re pots. For plants. What more is there to say on the subject?

A lot, apparently! In fact, there’s a whole, wide world of weird, hilarious, and creative—did we say weird?—planters out there, just waiting for you to discover them.

So check out these fun ways you could be showing off your houseplants. Although to be honest, if you snag one of these, we have a feeling no one’s going to be focused on your plants

See the 12 HERE

Should you install Artificial Turf?


With the drought and mandated water use reduction, Californians are looking for alternatives to their water guzzling lawns. Here are the pros and cons of installing an artificial lawn.
 

PROS:

It saves water. You can reduce 50%-70% of total residential water usage and significantly reduce your water bill for years. Plus, you may qualify for local rebates from your water company for removing your lawn and installing artificial turf. 

It reduces maintenance time and cost. No more mowing, watering, weeding, seeding, thatching or fertilizing. 

It reduces pollution. No more fertilizer draining into the ocean, no more pollution from mowers and no more hazardous chemical weed-killers needed. 

It looks green all year. No need to worry about dried, fading or unkempt-looking grass. 

It has a long life expectancy. An artificial lawn lasts 15 years or more. 

CONS:

It’s costly. Materials, installment operation fees for loading, hauling, dumping and delivery and labor are just a few costs to consider when installing artificial turf. Costs can range into the thousands. 

It retains heat. Artificial grass retains much more heat than a natural lawn, making it too hot to play on. The temperature of the turf could rise to more than 120 degrees on a 98-degree day.  

It’s not biodegradable. Manufacturing artificial turf is energy intensive and requires use of rubber and plastics, which will eventually end up in landfills.  

It needs cleaning. You will have to clean up, not just rinse off, any messes that could be a health hazard, like blood or pet excrement.

Before you commit, do your research and look at the factors that apply to you, your home and your environment.  

If you’re looking for someone to help you look for a new home, I can always help. Please give me a call!

All About Bamboo Flooring

While bamboo flooring is not exactly new, having been around for two decades, it might as well be. In recent years, advances in manufacturing have enhanced its performance and diversified its appearance. The major change: the introduction of superdense “strand-woven” bamboo, which can be milled into boards that are two and a half times as hard as red oak. They also can be produced in an array of wood-look styles—from the familiar, like maple or walnut, to exotic species, like tigerwood and cumaru—that are quite different from what most people associate with the material. “Strand-woven has changed bamboo’s reputation from an eco product to a major player, delivering the look and durability of Brazilian hardwoods for two-thirds the cost,” says Joel Hirshberg, president of Green Building Supply, which has been selling bamboo floors for 16 years.

Whether you’re simply looking for something a little different from what all your neighbors have or like the idea of remodeling with sustainability in mind—or just love the price—here’s what you need to know about buying and installing today’s bamboo flooring.

Read The Rest Here