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Resolutions for Your Home Ring in Lasting Satisfaction

If you’re like most people when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, you aim for self-improvement goal like exercising daily, getting organized, eating better, reducing personal debt. Things you’ve been putting off for a long time and that require diligence to succeed.

This year instead — or perhaps in addition — you can resolve to improve your home. A completed home improvement project, even a simple one, makes a noticeable difference that lasts the whole year — and beyond — without any further effort from you.

For example, you can resolve to:

Lay the groundwork

Is it all too obvious in your house just where people walk? Maybe it’s time to refinish your wood floors or replace carpet that has seen better days. A refreshed expanse underfoot brightens the whole room.

Throw on some color

Wake up a guest bathroom or a wall of your kitchen with a fresh new paint color, maybe a jewel tone or pastel shade. Add pizzazz with some bold wallpaper in the dining room or along a stairway.  Check out the color palettes from Benjamin Moore

Light it up 

Lower your utility bill and help the planet by replacing some fluorescent bulbs with LEDs. Or light up a shadowy span of countertop with a stick-on LED strip under a cabinet. Replace a dated fixture over your dining table or kitchen island with an engaging pendant light to add new visual charm. 

Lighten up

Clean out a storage space. Maybe start small by clearing off that table right inside the door where mail and papers collect. Empty the “you name it” drawer in the kitchen. Go through a linen closet and take frayed towels and sheets that are worn or no longer fit any bed you use and donate them to the animal shelter for bedding. Get three things out of the basement or garage and donate them to Goodwill, recycle or trash as appropriate. That will lighten your load a little, and might just jumpstart the next project. 

Look ahead

Think about what you’re going to want in the next five to ten years. Will your kids soon be teens? Maybe start fixing up a basement area where they can watch movies with friends. Are there changes you can start now that will make your home more age-friendly as you head toward retirement? It could be as simple as replacing round door knobs with levered handles. Or, more ambitious, re-do a first-floor bathroom with a beautifully tiled no-threshold shower.  

Whether a quick DIY project that takes a few hours or a larger full room renovation, whether you do it yourself or bring in a building professional —home improvements reward you with results you can enjoy all year while you challenge your willpower to keep up your New Year’s self-improvement goals.

Learn more about which improvements are best suited for your home by contacting local SVBA members.  Search our directory now.

Key Steps to Prepare Your Home for Winter

Prepare for colder temperatures. Severe winter storms can also knock out heat, power and other services to your home. That’s why it’s important to take a few steps now to prepare your home for the changing weather ahead.

Here are some tips from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help you make sure your home is the best shelter possible for you and your family during the colder months ahead.

  • Ensure you are keeping out outside air and moisture. Insulate walls and attics, caulk and weather-strip doors and windows, and install storm windows.
  • Clear rain gutters so they don’t fill with water that could freeze and cause damage to the roof due to the added weight.
  • Trim tree branches that could potentially fall on your home during a storm. Hiring a professional is strongly advised, especially if any branches are near power lines.
  • Have your heating equipment and chimney cleaned and inspected every year. Ensure there are no openings in the chimney bricks or mortar or flashing.
  • Insulate water pipes with foam wrap or similar products to help prevent them from freezing.
  • Make sure all your fuel-burning equipment is vented to the outside, and the vent openings are clear of debris and snow.
  • Learn how to shut off your main water valve in case your pipes do freeze and burst.
  • Hire a contractor to check the structural integrity of your roof to sustain the weight of accumulated snow or water.

Important Safety Tips

During the winter, many people use alternate heating and power sources. But doing so can increase the risk of electric shock, house fire or carbon monoxide poisoning if the necessary safety precautions are not taken:

  • Keep fire extinguishers around the home, and make sure all family members know how to use them.
  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal burning device inside your home, garage, basement, crawl space or any partially enclosed area. And do not place the unit near a door, window or vent where carbon monoxide could seep indoors.
  • Space heaters should only be placed on a level surface and away from heavy foot traffic when in use, especially if pets or small children are nearby. It’s best to have space heaters that automatically turn off when a room reaches the desired temperature or in the event it is tipped over.

To learn more about routine maintenance, energy efficiency, safety and other tips to protect and properly prepare your home for cold or snowy conditions, contact the SVBA.  Also, we have a wide variety of contractors who can assist you with any home remodel or repair.  Visit our online directory of contractors.

Housing Remains a Priority for Most Americans

Even as housing markets continue to recover at different rates around the country, the American Dream of homeownership remains strong. In fact, an overwhelming four-out-of-five Americans believe that owning a home is a good investment, according to a recent poll commissioned by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

“Most Americans believe that owning a home remains an integral part of the American Dream and that policymakers need to take active steps to encourage and protect homeownership,” said Jeremy Blosser, President of the SVBA.

The survey responses highlight the many benefits of homeownership, including the solid investment opportunity. Indeed, 82 percent of respondents rate “a home for you to live in” as a good or excellent investment (the highest of six choices), far ahead of the second option, retirement accounts, at 67 percent. They recognize the fact that homeownership is a primary source of net worth for many Americans, and is an important step in accumulating personal financial assets over the long term.

And, contrary to some concerns about Millennials rejecting the idea of homeownership, 81 percent of 18-29-year-olds want to buy a home. Some Millennials may be taking longer to purchase a home as they work to overcome the primary hurdles to homeownership.

Among those polled, 55 percent said the biggest obstacle to buying a home was finding a home at an affordable price, followed by 50 percent who cited insufficient savings for a down payment and 41 percent who reported difficulty getting approved for a home loan.

Perhaps that is why 72 percent of respondents support the government providing tax incentives to encourage homeownership. Tax benefits, particularly the mortgage interest deduction, which has been included in the tax code for more than 100 years – have been key in developing the American Dream and supporting the aspirations of countless families at all income levels who want to become established home owners.

You can learn more about the homeownership survey at nahb.org.

By Jeremy Blosser
President, Shenandoah Valley Builders Association