A home improvement project that pays you back 4 ways
Do you think that the bailout is only for the big guys? Think again.
There’s a home improvement project this year that not only adds value and curb appeal to your home, but saves energy and offers up to a $1,500 federal tax credit to homeowners. The project? A stylish new insulated garage door.
Huge tax credit
Qualifying insulated garage doors purchased in 2009 and 2010 earn a sizeable tax credit – more valuable than a tax deduction – that reduces taxes dollar-for-dollar from the bottom line of your federal tax bill.
Under legislation passed in 2008, the tax credit maxed out at $500 or 10 percent of the product cost. But under the federal stimulus legislation announced in February 2009, the tax credit tripled to 30 percent of the product cost, up to a maximum of $1,500. This means that the door helps pay for itself through the tax credit incentive.
Full details on the tax credit and qualifying garage doors can be found at GarageWowNow.com, a non-commercial website sponsored by the garage door industry.
The driving factor behind the tax credit is energy savings – another money-saver for homeowners and a positive step for the environment. Homeowners find that the room next to the garage is often the coldest room in the winter.
Older, non-insulated garage doors can allow cold air in the winter and warm air in the summer to enter the house, increasing heating and cooling costs. A new, qualifying insulated door can make a difference in the temperature of your home while helping to reduce your energy bills in both winter and summer.
New styles boost curb appeal
In the last five years, a new breed of stylish garage doors has hit the market. And adding style to your home means adding value as well.
A garage door typically makes up more than one-third of a home’s front facade. A “plain vanilla” garage door can make your home look bland and boring – especially if it looks just like every other garage door on your street.
The latest styles offer:
The carriage house look, a throwback to yesteryear that fools the eye by echoing the hinged, swing-out door styles of quaint and charming carriage houses – yet the doors open just like any other modern garage door.
Sleek, contemporary doors are available in vibrant colors, opaque glass and aluminum, and a range of metallic finishes to complement modern homes.
Steel raised-panel doors with a wood grain print surface that requires minimal maintenance, beautifully imitating the rich colors and patterns of real wood.
Get the job done
Don’t know where to begin in looking for new garage door styles?
A wide variety of new styles are featured at GarageWowNow.com to point you in the right direction. Before and after images on the website allow you to see how new garage doors have dramatically changed the appearance of homes. And if you find a door that catches your fancy, the door manufacturer is clearly listed and you can go directly to their websites.
And remember, installation is best left to the pros. GarageWowNow.com’s zip code search function will help you find a professional in your area who can install your new door in a few hours.
How to make a big splash with your small yard
A baby boomer couple downsizing, a working professional’s downtown city condo, and a young family’s starter home in a metro suburb — the trend of people moving to smaller homes with smaller yards continues to grow. If you are one of them, how do you make the most out of your small outdoor green space? With the right tools and strategies, you’ll find the possibilities are endless.
“When people move to smaller homes, they want to make the most of the green space they have,” says Ashton Ritchie, lawn expert and master gardener for Scotts. “They still want that outdoor retreat after a stressful day.”
Ritchie says that smaller yards can be some of the most stunning because they require less time and homeowners can focus more on what they really enjoy. “The difference is with a small green space, it’s not an overwhelming full-time job. I’ve seen many beautiful small yards with intensive gardening and great landscaping.”
Here are Ritchie’s tips for getting the most out of small outdoor green spaces:
1. Make it your own.
If you want to create an outdoor retreat, a small yard holds many possibilities. Your priority should be deciding how you are going to use your yard. If you enjoy cooking, have much of your space dedicated to a great vegetable and herb garden. If you want to use your space to unwind at the end of the day, create an outdoor room with relaxation elements. If you plan to use your small yard as an additional space for entertainment, incorporate sitting space and tables for overflow from the house.
2. Use contrast to your advantage.
The nice thing about a small lawn is the contrast you can easily achieve in the foliage. Lush green grass is the foundation that contrasts with the colors and textures of other plants. Keep your lawn vibrant and consider planting flowers, shrubbery or an herb garden. The contrast in these elements provides as visual frame that is very appealing.
3. Fertilize for a green and beautiful lawn.
Green grass provides us with a soothing, relaxing feeling. But the No. 1 problem with grass is it ends up malnourished and starves. Therefore it’s important to fertilize four to five times a year so you get strong root and top growth.
People with small yards don’t want to bother with bulky bags of fertilizer and storage of a spreader. Scotts Turf Builder with Built-in Spreader is a great new solution. The handheld, all-in-one container is simple to use — simply flip the spout, tilt and shake onto your lawn. The fertilizer strengthens the lawn and promotes a healthy root system. It feeds a lawn up to 1,000 square feet. If you finish and have extra, the small container is easy to store for use next time.
4. Outdoor decor adds appeal.
Consider adding elements to your yard that interject your personal style. For example, adding a water feature is a great idea that is visually appealing plus it adds a water sound that creates a relaxing atmosphere. You could also add a bird feeding station to attract wildlife. If room is very limited, consider a small hummingbird feeder. Be creative and get ideas from your local gardening center.
5. Use space-saving furniture.
Small spaces do not call for big and bulky outdoor furniture. Benches can be a good option because they seat multiple people and also take up less space. Look for pieces that are multifunctional like a bench or table that also opens up to provide storage space. Finally, make sure furniture can withstand temperatures all year long since it probably won’t be stored in a different location.
Small yards can provide big beauty with these tips and strategies. Visit www.Scotts.com where you can read Ashton Ritchie’s blog and get other ideas for maximizing small green spaces.
Now is the time for a deck safety check
Your deck is the perfect place to enjoy the warm weather with friends and loved ones. But an unsafe deck could possibly collapse, causing serious injuries to you and your guests.
The number of deck failures and resulting injuries has been increasing at an alarming rate. Between 2000 and 2008, there were at least 30 deaths reported as a direct result of deck collapses, and more than 75 percent of people on a deck when it collapses are injured or killed. With 40 million decks in the United States that are more than 20 years old, it’s important for homeowners to check their deck.
The North American Deck and Railing Association is dedicated to increasing public awareness of the necessity for regular inspection and maintenance of existing decks and proper installation of new decks.
A key element of enjoying your deck for years to come is making sure it is safe and code compliant. NADRA’s “10-Point Consumer Safety Checklist” is an efficient way to take a good look at the different parts of your deck, with an eye to what might need maintenance, repair or replacement. Safety first, fun second — make sure your deck is safe to enjoy.
You might also consider a professional inspection. “A professional inspection will examine every inch of your deck, provide information on your deck’s capacity limits, identify any dangerous problem areas and give you a map of what to keep your eye on in the future. If your deck is older, this might include a regular deck inspection schedule,” says Mike Beaudry, executive vice president for NADRA.
Older decks require closer scrutiny. Many of these decks were built before code requirements were in place to protect consumers. Some of these decks may have deck-to-house attachments using only nails. If your deck is older, it is even more important to have it inspected by either a home inspector (NADRA recommends ASHI-certified home inspectors) or a knowledgeable deck builder (see the listing at nadra.org). NADRA member deck builders are required to adhere to a code of ethics and comply with state licensing and insurance requirements.
If you find your deck is not safe to enjoy, NADRA advises taking immediate action to have it repaired or rebuilt as necessary.
To choose a deck builder, NADRA offers the following tips:
Ask friends and family members for referrals and contact state and local licensing authorities and trade associations such as NADRA.
Meet with and carefully evaluate all potential deck builders. Ask to see a portfolio and some samples of the decking and railing materials they prefer to use. Good builders take pride in their work and will be enthusiastic about the possibility of creating a relationship.
Pay attention to the deck builder’s experience, licensing, insurance coverage and professional references.
When hiring a deck builder, there is more to consider than just price. In addition to the tips above, NADRA recommends homeowners contact their city or county building department to speak with an inspector knowledgeable about deck construction.
For more information visit www.nadra.org.
Courtesy of ARA Content