Common Home Improvement Myths Exposed
By: Danny Lipford
Myths and fairy tales are great for books and bedtime stories, but when it comes to your home, it’s probably not a good idea to believe everything you hear. Here’s the truth behind several of the most common misconceptions surrounding the home.
1. You can’t go wrong with trendy
Remember pink ceramic floors and harvest gold appliances? It’s no secret that design trends come and go so it’s always better to stay with neutral colors and practical choices when selecting materials.
Research and plan—then research and plan some more—to make sure your space will match your personal style preferences. Start by looking through magazines, at websites online, and by visiting home centers and showrooms to find colors and styles that not only suit your taste, but give a timeless feel.
2. Remodeling always adds value to your home
We all want to bring life to outdated spaces and infuse them with our own personality. There’s nothing wrong with that, but adding an unusual feature that few people will appreciate can make it harder to sell the home later.
Where you see a pool as a place for summer fun, many potential buyers will see liability, added maintenance, and additional expense. The Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report reveals that home improvements don’t always add a dollar for dollar return to your investment.
Projects that top the list as ones to think twice about include a home office remodel, which on average only recoups about 57% of the investment, and a sunroom addition, which gives a 59% return. Just remember that there are pitfalls to every project and some of them may cost you more than you bargained for. On the flip side, making too many expensive improvements that exceed what’s found in your neighborhood can come back to haunt you when it’s time to sell.
3. I can save money by doing it myself
Thinking of designing a remodeling project yourself? Not so fast. . . . Few homeowners know enough about building codes or have the experience of professional builders or designers.
Think it through before you commit to doing all the nitty-gritty work yourself. Granted, there’s plenty of home improvement advice available, but ask yourself if you have the skill, time, or license required to perform the work.
A remodel or home improvement is a big commitment and while tackling it yourself can sometimes save money, it’s important to know your limits and not be afraid to seek out the help of a professional. At least if they make a mistake, it doesn’t come directly out of your wallet, and it’s on their time, not yours. If you’re able to take on a project yourself, or a smaller part of a large project, be prepared for mistakes. No one’s perfect!
4. If I run out, I can always buy more
It’s best to plan for and buy all the materials you’ll need for a project before beginning work in case items are discontinued or have different batch or lot numbers. That or you’ll have to wait for weeks for additional materials to be ordered. Remember to figure in at least 10-15% for waste as well.
5. Going Green is expensive
Some green products do cost more, but the additional cost is actually lower than you might think. As an example, major paint manufacturers now offer paints that are low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) for less than $2.00 extra per gallon.
But who says going green needs to be about buying more stuff? Sure a new high-efficiency heating system or energy efficient windows saves money and natural resources over the life of the products, but it can cost nothing to start living green by making smart choices in everyday activities, such as by:
- Dressing appropriately for the temperature outside. Then program or raise your thermostat a few degrees higher in summer, and grab a sweater and lower the thermostat in the winter.
- Turning out the lights when you leave a room. Keep at it until it becomes second nature.
- Unplugging your electronic toys or use a power strip. Things like TV’s, DVD players, and many AC wall adapters continue to use electricity even when not in use. Power strips reduce this “phantom” electricity draw.
- Using less water by turning off the faucet when brushing those pearly whites or scrubbing dishes. Try taking shorter showers as well.
- Reusing rather than throwing away to reduce waste. The Freecycle Network is a great resource to help find a new home for useful items that you no longer need.
6. It’s just wallpaper, we can hang it
Slapping wallpaper on a wall looks simple, but this is one of those projects that can quickly become a nightmare. Before tackling, consider the room you want to paper. Any obstacle within the room, such as a vanity or toilet, will require that you cut the wallpaper and match it up to go around it—not always an easy task to do.
7. Cracks in walls indicate big problems
Most cracks are a result of normal expansion and contraction and not a structural failure. In the rare case when it’s something more serious, however, you may need to call in a structural engineer.
If your home is exhibiting several symptoms of foundation problems like expanding cracks, sticking doors, or uneven floors, you may need a foundation repair. Experienced professionals can give you an accurate analysis of your home and design a foundation repair solution.
8. Only one more trip to the home center and I’ll have everything I need
It’s good to be optimistic, but it’s also very hard to anticipate or remember everything you’ll need, so never say…last trip!