American Eagle Realty | Derry Real Estate, Londonderry Real Estate, Salem Real Estate


Photo by Jafar Mansuri on Unsplash

To resurface or replace? That's the question. Consider replacing if:

  • They have significant water or humidity damage.
  • They're poorly constructed and/or falling apart.
  • The design frustrates. You could do better starting over.
  • The style can't be easily updated, for example, floral moldings.
  • The cost to refinish is more than new cabinets. It can be.
  • Otherwise, you may want to refinish what you have to make your cabinets.

    How to Replace Cabinets

    Replacing cabinets rarely involves building them yourself. Most kitchen remodeling professionals don't even do that. You can purchase pre-made cabinets. They'll fit in most kitchen. But don't forget to measure.

    Start by evaluating how the cabinets are attached. Most cabinets simply unscrew from the wall for clean removal. You can now hang new ones in their place. But remember, if you need to stain or finish, always do that and let them dry before hanging. It will just be easier when they're on the floor or a work table.

    If it's just the hardware you don't like, consider replacing it instead of the whole cabinet. That's generally a small job that just needs a screwdriver and new handles.

    How to Give Cabinets a New Look

    A coat of paint or stain can work wonders. But know that refinishing actually takes a lot longer than hanging new. Plan for three to eight weekends of work and a semi-functional kitchen during that time. The more cabinets, the longer it will take. Let's get started

  • Choose your resurfacing medium. Polyurethane, varnish, paint, lacquer, shellac, penetrating oil or vinyl are all excellent choices. Purchase this, a stripping agent, clothes and brushes and your local home supply.
  • Ventilate. Open some windows and turn on your stove vent to keep the smells from overpowering you. Safety first.
  • Clean the surfaces. They may have collected years of grease, dust and hand oil.
  • Protect your kitchen by laying down plastic 
  • Remove the hardware and soak it in soapy water. Scrub it, if needed. But a good soak should do most of the work.
  • Strip & refinish the cabinets according to the instructions on the finish you choose. If you're getting creative with alternating colors or finishes, you may want to remove the doors and lay painter tape to create crisp contrasts between shade. 
  • Once dry, replace your glistening hardware. And you're done. 
  • *Pro tip* Some woods soak up oils like a sponge, so you might need multiple coats to achieve the desired look. That's one reason the job takes multiple weekends since each layer must dry.


    Photo by marcdenning via Pixabay
     

    Adding square footage of living space to your home is always a sound investment. Not only does it give you and your family more space to play, but it adds resale value, too -- even if the square footage you add is outdoors. A well-designed and constructed pergola does both. It provides shade and shelter for guests; at the same time, it adds beauty and function to your backyard while boosting its value to potential buyers.

    Benefits of Adding a Pergola

    We've put together a checklist of reasons why you might want to consider upping your entertainment game with the addition of a backyard pergola:

    Pergolas Ground Your Outdoor Space

    A beautiful pergola is the perfect structure to section off a portion of your backyard for entertaining. Sit beneath it for hours, reading your favorite books. Or, host a friendly get-together for a dozen friends. A pergola delineates your entertainment space. 

    Pergolas Provide Shade and Shelter

    Entertaining with a pergola means guests stay cooler and somewhat protected from the elements. Add a shade canopy made of canvas, lattice or natural, vining plants, and your pergola can help keep the area beneath it up to 15 degrees cooler on the hottest, summer day.

    Pergolas Add Privacy

    There are so many ways to perk up your pergola, including adding curtains, lattice, plants and more. All add beauty to your construction, but they all add privacy, too. Sit outside without the world staring back at you when you settle in under your pergola. 

    Constructing Your Pergola

    Now that you've decided a pergola is the perfect home improvement, how do you go about building one?  You have several options:

    DIY Pergola

    You can build your pergola from scratch if you have the know-how and tenacity. This is the most economic option, but make sure it's permitted and built to code if you're trying to up your resale value. You'll want to choose materials that are hardy against the elements, such as pressure-treated wood, cedar, vinyl or aluminum. You'll also need specific tools and supplies, such as a post-hole digger and quick-set concrete. 

    Pergola Kit

    Pergola kits are readily available online and at your local home improvement store. They include everything you need to construct your pergola, including the wood, vinyl, aluminum or fiberglass posts, brackets and hardware. Upon delivery, your pergola is ready to assemble. This option is a little pricier than doing it yourself, but it's cheaper than calling in a pro. 

    Professional Installation

    The average cost of professional pergola construction is between $3,500 and $4,000, according to HomeAdvisor. This cost can change according to where you live, the materials used and the size of your pergola. But this option is also the one that will raise your resale value the most. 

    When it comes to living space, every square foot counts. This is especially true when it's time to list your home for potential buyers. Consider the addition of a pergola to enhance both the function and beauty of your backyard. Your family and the next one will love you for it. 


    Want to list your house in the not-too-distant future? Ultimately, your house's curb appeal may have far-flung effects on your ability to sell your residence.

    In most instances, a house with a dazzling front lawn is likely to make a distinct impression on potential buyers. This home may prove to be more popular than similar residences that are available, and as such, sell at or above its initial asking price.

    On the other hand, a home with a messy, cluttered front lawn is unlikely to impress potential buyers. In fact, the front lawn may detract from the home's value, making it tough for a seller to maximize his or her earnings.

    When it comes to enhancing your house's front lawn, it may be a good idea to hire a professional landscaper. Because if you have a professional landscaper at your disposal, you can get the assistance that you need to rejuvenate the front lawn of your home and enhance your residence's curb appeal.

    Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you find the ideal professional landscaper before you list your house.

    1. Shop Around

    Many top-notch professional landscapers are available in cities and towns nationwide. If you evaluate assorted professional landscapers in your area, you may be better equipped than ever before to make an informed hiring decision.

    Remember, as a home seller, it is important to do everything possible to enhance your house's curb appeal. And if you dedicate the necessary time and resources to find the right professional landscaper before you list your residence, you can improve your house's curb appeal and boost the likelihood of a fast, profitable home selling experience.

    2. Ask Questions

    A professional landscaper typically is happy to respond to your questions. Thus, you should not hesitate to ask lots of questions to a variety of local professional landscapers to ensure that you can find the right landscaper to fulfill your requests.

    Don't forget to discuss your home improvement goals with various professional landscapers too. That way, you can compare and contrast myriad professional landscapers and hire a landscaper who can help you achieve the best-possible home improvement results.

    3. Review Client Feedback

    Client feedback about professional landscapers usually is readily available, particularly for landscapers who have completed a wide range of successful projects in the past. Therefore, you should search far and wide for client feedback to find a professional landscaper who can match or exceed your expectations.

    A simple web search of a professional landscaper may provide you with access to client feedback. You also can request client referrals directly from a professional landscaper to learn what it's like to work with a particular landscaper before you finalize your hiring decision.

    Lastly, if you need extra assistance as you search for a professional landscaper, you may want to consult with a real estate agent as well. A real estate agent can put you in touch with first-rate professional landscapers in your area and ensure that you can bolster your house's curb appeal before you list your residence.


    Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay

    In general, if you have less than 20 percent of a down payment for the house you want, you will have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI). This insurance is a cost to you to protect the lender if you default on the loan. In most cases, it’s better to save the 20 percent down payment, but if you absolutely cannot do that and rent is costing you more than a mortgage payment even with PMI tacked on, then it’s better to buy and pay PMI. Another reason to pay PMI is if you have the 20 percent down payment, but you are buying a house that needs some work — you can make a lower down payment and pay PMI so you have more cash for repairs.

    Avoiding PMI

    You can avoid paying private mortgage insurance in three ways:

    Make a down payment of 20 percent or more of the purchase price;

    Get a loan backed by the VA or the Department of Agriculture; or

    Get a loan that has PMI, but make sure you can cancel it as soon as you get 20 percent in equity built up.

    The easiest way to get the 20 percent down is to put money in a savings account that pays high interest. Put what you have for a down payment in the account, then add money to it every month. Some people find it easier to put $50 per week, while others might want to put a lump sum in the account once every month.

    With the VA and Department of Agriculture loans, you have to qualify for these loans. Sometimes your only option might be to get the loan with PMI, but make sure you can stop paying PMI once you have 20 percent in equity. Making extra payments on the principle is one way to get equity to build up faster.

    Types of PMI

    Your lender has five types of PMI to offer you. The most common is borrower-paid mortgage insurance. This is usually a monthly fee that is combined with your mortgage payment. You need to get 22 percent equity before your lender drops BPMI. You also have to be current on your mortgage payments. Some lenders will cancel the BPMI at 20 percent equity if you ask.

    Single-payment mortgage insurance is PMI that you pay in one lump sum at closing. In some cases, the lump sum might be divided into equal payments and paid with your mortgage for the year. If you pay this mortgage insurance up front, your monthly payments are lower. However, if you sell your house or refinance it, you won’t get any part of your premium back.

    Lender-paid mortgage insurance means that your lender pays for the PMI. However, your interest rates are higher to make up for those payments, so technically, you are still coming out of pocket for it. Because this type of PMI is built into the loan, you can’t cancel it when you have enough equity. And, your interest rate won’t go down, either. The one benefit of lender-paid mortgage PMI is that even with a slightly higher interest rate, your payments are most likely going to be lower.

    The fourth type of PMI is split-premium mortgage insurance. This is a combination of buyer-paid mortgage insurance and single-payment mortgage insurance. You pay this insurance in two parts: One part in a lump sum at closing, then the balance is worked into your mortgage payments. You don’t need a huge lump sum at closing and your mortgage payments will be lower than if you were to have BPMI.

    Finally, Federal Home Loan Mortgage Protection, or MIP, that is mortgage insurance you can get if the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) underwrites your mortgage. If you have a down payment of 10 percent or less, you will pay MIP in the form or an up-front payment plus extra payments worked into your mortgage.


    Image by Breadmaker from Shutterstock

    A fireplace is a cozy addition for a home that can add aesthetic value as well as warmth to your space. Whether you’re building new, retrofitting, or shopping for the perfect home there are options for most situations. You’ll find many design options as you start to shop but the initial consideration should be to determine a fuel source.

    Wood fireplace

    Wood-burning fireplaces offer the crackle of the fire, the fragrance of pitch, and the soft glow of coals. For some, there's nothing better than a perfectly lit wood fire. But along with the cozy flames and the perfect scent come some considerations. 

    Potential for smoke: If the flue does not open correctly or if there is a blockage within the chimney, you may find smoke coming into your room instead of out the flue.

    Chimney maintenance: The wood you burn and the temperature of your fire determines how clean your chimney stays. At least annually, have your chimney professional swept to remove the buildup of creosote that can cause house fires.

    Ashes: You will need a plan for disposing of the ashes once the fire is out.

    Natural gas

    A fireplace that burns natural gas can either be open or closed. An open hearth appears to be the same as a wood-burning fireplace and requires a chimney. These are called "vented" fireplaces. You can easily convert a wood-burning fireplace to a vented gas fireplace if you have access to a gas line. 

    An enclosed gas fireplace is a “ventless” unit. These require more intensive construction but are great to give you the “look” of an open fire without access to the flames. These can either operate on natural gas or propane.

    Gel system

    A gel fireplace doesn't require specialized installation. Canned gel burns in a special unit that does not need ventilation. Often available in modern, minimalist designs, these fireplaces do not need access to gas lines or electricity. They can be installed anywhere on any wall.

    Electric

    Outside of the gel unit, the most effortless option to incorporate is an electric fireplace. Rather than flame, they use heated coils to provide warmth and a fan to project the air into the room. They often include flickering lights and simulated flames. Electric fireplaces require no vents and can install anywhere within proximity to an electrical outlet.

    No matter which fireplace you select, take care to install it properly and operate it by the manufacturer's instructions. If a fireplace is an important feature to you, make sure your real estate agent knows it's on your "must-have" list.




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