Four Jobs a Building Contractor Can Do to Improve a Home

Many homeowners are constantly wondering about ways that they can improve upon their existing homes. Adding exciting new elements to a home not only makes it a more enjoyable place to live, but it also can dramatically increase the value of the property. The vast majority of homeowners who are looking to improve their homes choose to hire a building contractor to perform the work that they have in mind. Below are four common things that building contractors can add to a home, all of which are excellent investments.

1) Kitchen Remodel

Kitchen remodels are among the most popular home improvement projects, and for good reason. The kitchen is one of the places where the occupants of a home spend a great deal of time each day, so ensuring that it is a comfortable and pleasant environment is key. Improvements that can be made during a kitchen remodel include new sinks, countertops, cabinets, additional cooking and food storage accessories, and more.

2) Water Heater Upgrade

Due to the fact that enhancements in water heater technology are advancing so rapidly, homeowners who think that they have the most efficient water heater are oftentimes mistaken. A simple upgrade of the water heating system of a home can lead to more consistent hot water, as well as significant energy savings over time. These savings in energy costs are why the replacement of an older water heater with a newer, efficient model is an investment that millions of homeowners choose to make each year.

3) New Flooring

The flooring in a home, especially one that has several residents, is highly susceptible to wear and tear over time. The good news here is that building contractors are experts at replacing floors quickly, with minimal effects on the day-to-day life of those who live on the property where they are working. Changing the floor material in a home is an especially popular home improvement project, as doing so can provide any living space with a beautiful, fresh look in a short amount of time. For example, adding wood flooring to a home can create a more rustic appearance while installing vinyl floors in a highly trafficked area of a home can result in less floor damage in the long-term due to the proven durability of vinyl.

4) A New Look in the Bathroom

Renovating a bathroom is a process that can include the installation of a new tub, shower, sink, or toilet, just to name a few of the most commonly added features to modern bathrooms. A reliable building contractor will be able to consult with any homeowner and come up with a detailed plan for how they can enhance the look and feel of their bathroom.

These are just four of the many home improvement projects that a building contractor can provide to their clients. Whether it is a full bathroom remodel, the installation of new kitchen floors, or an upgraded water heating system, any of these improvements to a living space can provide a better quality of life and increased home value.

Questions About Vacations You Must Know the Answers To

The Good Things About Spending Your Vacation in an RV Park If you try to travel in the RV for vacation or a quick getaway, you would like to take full advantage of the home away from home. You will not able to do this when you would stop at the hotel to sleep. Apart from the fact that you spend money for those things which you do not need to pay for, you have so many amenities in your own RV so that you don’t need to go to the hotel. There are so many of those who visit the rest areas that don’t actually provide a shower as well as appliance usage. This surely doesn’t make any sense. The most excellent place where you can park the RV is in the RV park which is specifically made to handle every need. Recreational vehicle parks have existed for a long time and be used for both camping and RV parking. These parks have all the facilities which are in the hotels and are also much less expensive than the hotels, the RV parks often include picnic tables for eating, electric and AC power, barbecue grills as well as pools, internet connections, gift shops, playground and fitness areas. There are RV parks which are scattered in different parts of the US and they are owned by the private corporation so that you can find a great place where you can park the RV. Prior to traveling any RV park, you must make a reservation just like what you would in a hotel. They will just charge you with a base price that would include the length of stay and any water as well as electrical hookup charges that they have. Rates are more affordable than the hotels and they provide the amenities which are on the site. There are many great parks in the country and by doing that quick search online, you can surely find a place that is just close to your home.
Why No One Talks About Trips Anymore
You will appreciate the atmosphere of the RV park because it is family-friendly. You will surely see great large groups of individuals who are having fun on the basketball courts or playground and they also have fun with the campfire at night. There are so many people who are really respectful of one another and you come with your own area where you can sit and enjoy the vacation. Make sure that you bring everything that you need in a cooler with lots of drinks and food and also outside chairs that you can use. Don’t forget the fishing poles as well as hiking shoes to really have a great vacation.
Valuable Lessons I’ve Learned About Vacations
Get to know more about the nearby RV parks in your area that you can visit so that you can get more ideas about what you can expect from them and also know what amenities you can actually enjoy in the park. You will be able to find a number of options but you should read the reviews so that you will really find the best RV park.

How To Saving Money Building Custom Homes

Designing a new house is exciting as endless creative ideas can be transformed into a reality, however being mindful of a budget can save unnecessary expenses and much heartache down the line. Constructing houses from the ground up involves experienced architects, designers and knowledge of building regulations to produce functional and appealing results. A beautifully developed and affordable home can be achieved when mindful of savings.

Significant expenditure goes into the creation of customized homes from the impact of economic markets to the costs for design teams, labor and materials. Without strict planning and cutting back where necessary, a budget can soon become out of control leaving many people out of pocket before project completion. Adhering to a few cost saving strategies may assist in saving and minimizing exorbitant finances.

The first step is to think about what you will need in a house. Large and extravagant properties involve complex design processes, lengthier project completion and a higher price tag. Opting for quaint, comfortable homes that are easier to maintain without losing on a sophisticated and modern appeal are more cost effective and improve the odds of obtaining funding from a bank.

Calculate the cost per square foot to provide an idea of the total finances involved in the size of a custom house. Assess present living requirements and whether a property plan offers flexible design for future expansion. A smaller house will prove more affordable in comparison to a significantly larger plot.

Costs for wooden features and structures can be reduced by purchasing reclaimed wood. Recycled materials suitable for use in construction can cut expenses for particular developments without compromising on quality. It is a popular means of supporting an environmentally friendly or green approach to building.

The selection of flooring or stairwells includes an assessment of upfront costs and long term investment potential. Always determine the value that a particular installation can deliver over time including maintenance so you will not have to replace modifications and hike expenses. Consultation with a professional design team can determine construction solutions that are affordable and valuable.

Custom home design must include a detailed plan of house style, size and budget requirements. Reliance on a building professional and modern technology can produce cost effective solutions in the development of a dream home. Working with experienced and knowledgeable architects and doing your homework can contribute to significant financial savings without losing on desired form and function for the new property.

What You Need to Understand About Your Custom Home Builder

Deciding to build your own home is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make. While buying an existing property is much easier and maybe even less stressful, at the same time choosing to custom build your home gives you the ability to get your own design, incorporate what is important to you and incorporate important spaces and elements which are going to provide you and your family with years of enjoyment now and moving forward.

When it comes to deciding to build your own property then you need a custom home builder, but it’s difficult to choose the right builder to work with if you don’t know what they do.

Firstly a custom home builder is responsible for managing the subcontractors and coordinating the build at all times. You will work closely with your builder who will be able to keep you updated throughout the process including how far along the build is, any delays, costs and more.

They will keep track of all costs, managing and order materials and even liaise with building inspectors, obtaining necessary approvals and ensuring the build goes according to plan at all times.

A custom home builder is basically a project manager with extensive building experience who can jump in to ensure the build goes according to plan, on budget and within the given time frame.

When it comes to selecting your custom home builder, there are some very important factors to take into consideration to ensure they meet your unique building needs and requirements at all times. The first thing you will want to do is learn as much about them as possible from how long they have been in the business to their achievements, credentials and more.

Don’t rely on the reviews you find on their website alone, rather do your own research, search through the independent review sites and online forums you find online to identify what past and current customers think of their experience with the particular custom home builder you are thinking of working with on your new home moving forward.

Always choose at least three custom home builders you can work with and then you can use the information you learn about them to narrow down your search until you are left with one company you believe are going to provide you with the best service during your build.

Look at the custom home builder’s track record. How many homes in your area have they completed over the years successfully. Were these properties built on budget and on time? If not, how over budget and how much over the given time period were they completed? Did the owners enjoy working with the builder or were they frustrated with the experience? Was the custom home builder ever fired from any of the projects?

These are such important questions to ask yourself when deciding on the best custom home builder to work with to make your dream home a reality. When speaking to them face to face, identify their communication skills. As a custom home builder, they should have outstanding communication skills, enabling them to communicate with sub-contractors, suppliers, officials and more throughout the build.

Finally, look at their references. While you may have done your own online research already, always ask the custom home builder for their own references that they want to share. Don’t do this because it’s part of the process, follow up on the references, speak to the clients and get a complete picture of their experience with the builder and see if they are the best match to complete your home on time, on budget and to your unique requirements.

Tips for Choosing a Good Custom Home Building Service

There are many advantages to choosing to build a custom designed home rather than buying an existing property; these include the possibility to create a space that caters to all your unique needs and wants. This does not have to be an exceptionally expensive option either – another benefit is that you will have complete control over your budget.

To make sure that you get the best experience out of your home building experience it is very important to find a good custom home builder to help bring your dreams to life. Here are a few important guidelines to follow to find the best professional to entrust with creating your new home.

Firstly, do not underestimate the power of recommendations; the best way to choose between a selections of custom home builders in your local area is to find out which ones have the happiest clients.

As with any service, people are always keen to share their positive and negative experiences, so seek out independent reviews websites which may provide useful information to help you make your decision on the best building service.

It is also worth looking on the company websites of the custom home builders you are considering. These best ones will not be backwards in coming forwards with the testimonials they have received from satisfied clients who have created their dream home with the help of the company.

It is also a good idea to ask the builders directly if they can put you in touch with their former clients. You may even in some cases be able to visit one of the properties that the custom home builder has created and speak to the owner. This will provide you with a valuable insight into the experience that you can expect if you work with them.

After you have found a few highly rated and reputable services, the next thing to do is to have a look through the portfolio of properties that they have designed and built. This will give you an idea of the types of property that they are used to constructing and designing.

You may be looking for a very modern, energy efficient and eco friendly home, and there are many custom home builders that deal often with this kind of building project, so you will benefit from all of their experience in this field if you choose to hire them.

On the other hand, you may like a more traditional looking home, in which case it is a good idea to find a custom build service that is experienced in creating this particular type of home. Either way, look carefully through portfolios to find a service whose previous projects appeal to you and are similar to what you have in mind for your own home.

Another thing that you absolutely must be aware of when you are looking for custom home builders to help you create your dream property is that there are many different aspects to such an enormous project. As you are taking care of every single large and tiny detail of the project you will need to find a service that can assist you with this.

The best service for those who are likely to find themselves overwhelmed by the enormity of such a project is one that guides its clients from start to finish of the build. This includes finding a good architect, creating an accurate budget, installing home video and audio systems, installing security systems, choosing finishes for both the home interior and exterior and much, much more.

The best way to make this kind of project a success is to find a professional that can help you every step of the way and one who is experienced enough to offer excellent advice on every single aspect of your project. Bear all of the above points in mind and you will be well on your way to finding the best custom home building service for you.

The Future Of Residential Construction Is Precast Concrete

It seems logical that the future of residential construction is going to be built with precast concrete. There are less and less people starting apprenticeships in Australia, namely bricklaying apprenticeship, despite the fact that the residential construction industry has been paying a tariff/levy/tax called the “brick levy” since the early 2000s.

The brick levy was a government introduced program which charges a “levy” to new homes constructed from brick/masonry products. A small charge is paid for the number of bricks used per project to the brick supplier (who in turn pays the levy to the government for administration).

As an aside, and this is just a thought, I’d love to see the figures on the brick levy collected versus the dollar amount after administration that is directly available for the program i.e. how much of the levy collected is absorbed in administration by the government.

Secondly, are there figures available that can show a direct correlation between the bricklaying levy and an improvement in the problem for which it was introduced to solve? Is the brick levy just another indirect tax used by the government to find money, to pay for election promises? I don’t know. I’m posting these questions seeking enlightenment.

The purpose of this levy is to provide funds to bricklayers so they may take on apprentices and teach more people the trade (to address the shortages).

So why then is the cost of bricklaying becoming so prohibitive and there seems to be less and less bricklayers available to do work?

The National Bricklaying Association works full time for its members to leverage the bricklaying rates higher, which is great for members. With rates moving higher and higher yet housing prices remaining fairly stagnant, and more competitive pressure in the residential marketplace, I feel we’re getting to an inflection point where house designs will change to remove hand-crafted elements like brickwork.

Bricklayers are going to become like Stonemasons. Highly skilled artisans used sparingly in the volume market or in lower application than they currently are. If there are not sufficient new apprentices coming through the training program and the existing trade base greys into retirement, the shortfall/labour base will continue to diminish meaning we will have to design around this labour shortfall.

This is where I believe precast will fill the void.

I know the natural inclination is to think “yeah, but it costs a heap more than bricklaying/brick veneer of cavity brick”. Yes, at the moment it does but we are reaching two diverging lines where the time and cost savings will meet then overtake the costs & waste (material and process) of bricklaying.

Precast seems like the logical choice to me for a few reasons.

Firstly

Variations in appearance/surface finish are mitigated. No longer do we all have to fight to get a superior finished product. Surface finish is controlled in the manufacturing process and to quality assurance standards by the supplier in a controlled environment.

Secondly

The supplier controls the manufacturing process and guarantees delivery dates – time efficiencies. Jobs can be efficiently scheduled because the manufacturing process is controlled (linear) and is not affected by onsite conditions. Having a manufactured process over an uncontrolled labour driven process means certainty in the building program. I feel that more and more elements of the building process will be carried out by suppliers rather than subcontractors. I don’t believe that subcontractors will disappear completely just the proportion of who is doing what onsite will change dramatically.

To this point, carpenters will be used even more than they currently are. I think they will start on site as early as the current “slab stage” and stay onsite until the second and final fix is done, which will coincide with the completion of paint works and the start of main floor tiling. The building program will compress further than it is.

Thirdly

Waste minimisation. Precast is a highly efficient process that minimises waste produced. With the rising costs of landfill, the near future of the construction environment we will work in will be one of a zero waste policy where we shall be penalised for using waste-producing processes (brick cuts, mortar, sand, pallet packing, straps). This will extend across all the materials we use on site, not just bricks. Each aspect of construction will evolve in consideration of this point.

Lastly

I believe the use of precast is the logical next step in the transformation of the construction process. The building process has hardly changed in the last 60 years. We still build today as we did 60 years ago except materials have become more lightweight “read cost-effective” (hardwood frames replaced with manufactured pine and truss systems). Precast concrete allows builders to innovate the building process in a different way by changing the sequence of construction (more on this in a future post).

Four Tips to Make the Most of Shopping for Real Estate Online

Sales and purchases of residential and commercial real estate properties have been booming in the online marketplace for years. But that doesn’t mean that deceptive listings, scam artists, and other cyber security issues aren’t still around to ruin your day. If you want to avoid a lot of the headache involved with shopping online for a property that meets your needs, follow these precautionary steps.

1. Don’t Give Out Unnecessary Information

It’s always a good idea to be cautious, and evidence suggests that you should offer a skeptical response to anyone requesting personal information from you online. Make sure you know who you’re working with and find a secure way to pass your information along, if you deem it appropriate.

2. Be Suspicious of Spam Email Lists

As you browse listings and narrow down your choices, it’s important to remember that there are those who are simply interested in obtaining your information for spam advertisement emailing lists. For example, you might find an online ad listing a beautiful home. You’ll contact the seller, considering the low listing price, and they will simply ask you to fill out a form by clicking a link.

This part is tricky. While there are some legitimate sellers who will send you links to fill out information, this is not the norm. The odds are that the individual has bad intentions and doesn’t have a property, either. You’re better off using your real estate agent as a broker between you and the seller so you can make sure you don’t waste time, or worse, find yourself involved in something more malicious.

3. Beware of Malware and Marketing Mischief

There are many ways a cyber-criminal can get information out of you, but most of the time, it happens when your contact sends you a link redirecting you to another page. Often, when you try to leave the page, a pop-up window will appear, prompting you to click “OK.” Clicking this button will automatically execute a script designed to attack your computer. If this ever happens to you, don’t click the “OK” button; instead, forcefully close your browser or simply hold down your power button and restart. It’s better than infecting your computer with malware designed to harvest your information, like addresses, credit card numbers, and account login information.

4. Set Up a New Email and Browse Restrictively

Finally, the best way to protect your identity and information might be to set up a quick secondary email account with the sole purpose of collecting communiques regarding potential properties for sale. Even more, make sure you check for BBB-certified sites by looking toward the bottom of the page at their certification icons. VeriSign security is essential if you’re forced to pay application fees via credit card, but again, brokering as much as possible through your realtor will save you a lot of headache in the long run.

Designing a Couple’s Dream House Using a 3D Rendering Software

Marriage is a new beginning. You and your beloved spouse are going to start a family and a new life and that is best exemplified by a new home, a home that you can proudly say your own, borne from your sweat and hard work. If you want your home to be totally unlike others, you might want to design it yourself. A home that you and your loved one created will be a solid symbol of your love and devotion to each other. You can do this with the help of 3D rendering technology.

The Ultimate Graphics Software

3D rendering is a very powerful software. Unlike Photoshop that simply manipulates photo, 3D rendering allows you to make a photo-realistic digital image of anything your mind can imagine. Coupled with 3D modeling, you can even create a realistic visualization of the home you design. Of course, you should still consult an architect to see whether your home design is stable, but surely the architect will not change a lot of it and will do what he can to make the plan stronger while sticking to your design plan.

If you don’t know how to use 3D rendering software, you can still design your own home. Just simply make a sketch of it and send it to a 3D rendering professional. These professionals accept hand-drawn sketches, CAD plans, floor plans, and 2D drawings as reference. They can then interpret your ideas and present a rendered image to you.

Where to Get Your Ideas

Before rendering, gather your design ideas for the home and every part of it like the kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedrooms. Popular websites like Houzz and HouseBeautiful can be an excellent source of design inspiration. You can even begin your furniture shopping. Just visit the furniture shop’s website and copy the photos of the items that you want to purchase for your home. This way, you and your hired designer can see if these will fit perfectly into your home.

Professionals You Can Work With

Better yet, you can find architects and interior designers who can give you the option to see their work in 3D. Hire them for your home design so can collaborate with the architect from the start of the design process. This ensures that your ideas are understood by the architect, interior designers, and all the contractors whom you will be working with to make your dream house a reality.

How Turn Key Transactions Work When Building a Home

If you have decided to build a home, or at least have one built, you might have heard about the phrase turnkey when it comes to homes. You might have also wondered what turnkey means. Let’s take a look at the process and what this means to you.

What does turnkey mean?

There are two kinds of homes that you can buy – custom-built or turnkey. A custom built home is made either completely to the buyer’s requirements, or at least in part. Some houses are built with input from the buyer on key areas like room layout, window and cabinet placement, and flooring types. Other custom-built homes are built to a certain amount of the job being finished, and the rest will be finished by the homeowner.

A turnkey home, on the other hand, is one that is built by the contractor to completion and the home is able to then be sold to anyone. All of the design and planning comes from the contractor.

Why do you want a turnkey home?

One advantage to this is that the contractor holds the responsibility for the performance of all of the items for a certain amount of time. Think of it like a manufacturer’s warranty on an item.

Another upside is that the home is ready to move into right away. Think of turnkey as being ready to turn the key to the front door lock of your new home.

Title to the property is easy to track, too. The developer owns the land and builds the house on that land. They might even offer financing so everything is easy to negotiate and easy to understand. If the builder doesn’t offer financing directly, the company should be able to connect you to a mortgage broker that will be able to help you.

Using a turnkey home as an investment

In the investment part of real estate, a turnkey home is all ready to go as a package. The home is bought and fixed up or the new one is built, the home is leased or rented to a tenant, and then the property is sold to a buyer. That way, the buyer is ready to go with a property already generating income.

These types of investments are much easier to get started with instead of flipping. You don’t have to worry about finding contractors or discovering any hidden damage to the home. You don’t have to be in town to deal with the property, either, and meet with the inspectors. If you find the right company, they can stay on as a property management company, so all you have to do is sit back and collect the income.

You may also be able to find a home that you like, find the right company that will do all of the work to buy and renovate a house, and then sell it to you. The home does usually need to be in solid structural shape with a strong foundation.

If you are looking into buying a turnkey home as your primary home, you will be able to save yourself all of the stress and literal backache from trying to fix things up. You can move in, settle in, and relax.

Real Estate Buying Tips First Time Buyers Don’t Usually Hear

If you’re beginning to think about buying real estate for the first time, you’ve probably realized that there’s a lot you don’t know about the loan process, home values, down payments, and mortgage insurance. Here are four little-known tips for first time homebuyers that may make the process easier and less stressful.

1. Make sure you have enough money to cover closing costs. The closing is the actual purchase of the real estate, the day that it becomes yours. The money you’ll need to have in order to cover closing costs is more than just the down payment. It also includes title insurance, attorney’s fees, recording fees, the pro-rated taxes for the year, and everything that goes into escrow if you decided to use it, including around 15 months of your homeowner’s insurance, around seven months of your taxes, and your mortgage insurance premium if you put down less than 20%.

2. Pre-qualify for a loan before you start looking at houses. Sitting down and talking with a mortgage broker before you step foot in any real estate on the market will give you a realistic idea of how much house you can afford. Remember, you’re paying homeowner’s insurance, taxes, and sometimes other costs on top of your principle and interest every month. The broker will be able to give you an idea as to how much your interest rate will be and can show you different purchasing scenarios.

3. Putting more money down than is required by your loan is never a bad idea. If you’re looking to put less than 20% down, you’ll have to pay mortgage insurance every month, which is calculated by taking a percentage on what you still owe on the loan. This is money that you pay that you won’t get back in investment value. In fact, you can’t remove this cost until you owe less than 80% of the selling price of the house. The more you can put towards this number, the more money you’ll save in the long run.

4. Real estate investments aren’t recession proof. As many people learned during the recent housing bust, home prices aren’t guaranteed to go up. In fact, it’s possible that they can fall so much that buyers can wind up owing more than their “investments” are worth. Predicting future value is really difficult because it depends so much on human whims. However, if you’re looking for the stability of owning your own piece of property, and you’re emotionally and financially ready, it’s the right time to buy for you.

Purchasing real estate is part of the American dream, and it’s a goal held by many people. We’ve all heard advice about buying when the market is low, looking in neighborhoods with good schools, reading carefully through the inspection reports, and making sure you completely understand all the loan documents. However, these four tips are advice that many newcomers aren’t given.