Looking to make your outdoor area more livable? Consider adding a hardscape feature to complement your plants and flowers. A decked-out backyard can give a big boost to your property’s value, and hardscaping can be a central part of this. So what is hardscaping and how much should you budget to make it into a reality for your home? Read on.
What is hardscaping?
Your home’s outdoor spaces consist of hardscapes and softscapes.
“While softscapes are your plants and living elements, hardscaping encompasses the nonliving elements of landscaping—like a paver patio, stone wall, or a gazebo,” says Joe Raboine, director of residential hardscapes at Belgard, which makes residential and commercial products.
Hardscaping can increase the functionality of your outdoor space and can be designed to match your preferred style: traditional, modern, rustic, you name it.
“Using materials such as wood, stone, metal, and concrete, hardscapes can also add physical boundaries and dimension to your yard,” says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Association of Landscape Professionals.
If the time has come to get a new roof for your home, you might like to consider the option of metal roofing. This important improvement project is something most long-time homeowners will eventually have to undertake, and choosing the proper roofing material should not be taken lightly. A functioning roof will protect your home from harsh outdoor elements like rain and snow and ensure its structural integrity.
Asphalt shingles are common, but the one type of covering that is catching the eye of an increasing number of homeowners is metal roofing. “Metal roofing is gaining in popularity,” reports Todd Miller, president of Isaiah Industries in Piqua, OH. It had a 14% market share in 2016, up from 11% the year before, according to FW Dodge. Only asphalt shingles outpace metal in the remodeling market.
In terms of style and utility, metal roofing gives any other material a run for its money, but does it suit your home (and budget)? Take a look at the best and worst things about metal roofing before you commit to it.
Pro: Metal roofing lasts 50 years—or longer
Metal roofs are by far one of the most durable, typically lasting 50 years or more, says Andrew Hecox, owner of Air Capital Roofing and Remodeling in Wichita, KS.
“Rubber and asphalt shingles are fine for 15 to 20 years, but they’ll deteriorate over time, due to weather, wind, heat, insects, and rodents,” says Cedric Stewart, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Capital Properties in Washington, DC. And metal won’t corrode, crack, or catch sparks and ignite into flames from a lightning strike.
“Metal roofing also doesn’t need periodic costly maintenance, like other materials,” says Lonnie Hagen of Accent Roofing and Construction in Dallas.
Con: It’s noisy
The pitter-patter of raindrops may be soothing for some homeowners, but on a metal roof, the noise factor can be a serious drawback. The good news is that there are ways to mitigate the sound—but you’ll have to pony up. Materials can be installed to reduce the drumming effect for an additional fee.
Installing a solar panel system costs an average of $23,079. Depending on the kind you prefer, you could pay as little as $2,000 or as much as $40,000. However, most homeowners pay between $16,258 and $30,306.With energy prices on the rise, this may be the perfect time to go solar. Especially considering that improvements in this field of technology have made it more cost-effective and easier to set up. Homeowners have several options available to them which weren’t on the market in decades past and which fit a variety of budgets. Here are a few things to consider that will affect how much you pay.
Solar Panels Cost Per Watt
There are three types common in the residential market. Each one has its own pros and cons, from price to efficiency. It is important to understand their differences when deciding which will work best for your home and energy needs.
Monocrystalline – $1.00-$1.50 per watt
This technology will get you the most energy efficiency while taking up the least amount of space. Their solar cells are made up of a high-purity silicon which is very efficient at converting the suns light into electricity. A sheet of silicon is cut to form solar cells, which are arranged to create panels. These have the longest life expectancy and often come with a 20 to 25-year warranty.
Polycrystalline – $0.90-$1.00 per watt
These have a lower efficiency than Monocrystalline, but they fit better into smaller budgets without taking up a lot more space. In the manufacturing process, multiple crystals of silicon are melted and poured into molds to form the solar cells. This makes the silicon less pure and less efficient, but it cuts down on waste and production cost. The resulting modules are blue in tint.
Thin-Film/ Photovoltaic – $0.70-$1.00 per watt
These are extremely flexible and versatile, made by layering photovoltaic material on metal or glass. They cost less, but they will require a lot more space in order to power residential homes. They also have a shorter lifespan, lasting an average of 14 to 17 years. Therefore, they come with shorter warranties. One benefit of thin-film technology that has the others beat is its high tolerance to heat.The efficiency of thin-film technology will depend on the photovoltaic material used. Amorphous silicon, for example, will only operate at 7%-9%. CdTe and CIS/CIGS operate at about 10%-14%.
Estimated Solar Energy System Prices Per Watt
The per-watt price of installing solar ranges from $2.50 to $4.00. Youll see the greatest difference between the Southern and New England regions. This does not necessarily mean that it is less cost-effective in New England as opposed to other regions. Different states, even different counties, will have varying returns on investment dependent on other factors. These factors include: state and local incentives, average electricity bills, and the amount of sunshine expected per day.Below you will find the average rates of having your system professionally installed, according to region and wattage. These figures do not include any tax credits or incentives. Consider that the average size is 5kw. Hawaii, included in the Western region, has the highest rate per watt at $3.40 to $4.00. Georgia, in the Southern region, has the lowest at $2.75 to $3.50.
Read the rest of the article for complete cost breakdown . . .
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.