New Year's Resolutions: Home Upgrades for a New Year

Green Improvements for Your Home This New Year

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Although some may have scribbled a quick list of resolutions just before midnight at a party, others spent quiet, thoughtful time considering how they wanted the New Year to look—not just in the way of personal improvement, but also in their surroundings, their quality of life, and their homes.

Now is a perfect time to think about home improvement in 2010. Get those creative juices flowing—Imagine the difference updating the kitchen or bath could make. Additionally, improving curb appeal this year may help bring offers to the table for a home on the market. If comfort is a priority, heating & air conditioning or security systems may top the home improvement resolution list.

The first thing to consider when setting home improvement resolutions, especially in these budget conscious times, is exactly what the remodel or upgrade will do for the family living there and if it is a good value investment.

  • Popular New Year's Resolutions for the Home:
  • Raise the home's comfort level
  • Increase living space and/or functionality
  • Decrease the energy bill
  • Increase the home's value
  • Decrease air pollution
  • Increase the home's beauty and curb appeal
  • Utilize Government Tax Credit

This article will discuss home improvements that serve one or more of these purposes.

Go Green—Save Energy and Money

Now is a great time for making green home improvements. With the expansion of home improvement and consumer tax credits provided by the stimulus package, homeowners can claim 10-30% in tax credits (usually up to $500*) for qualifying, energy-efficient home improvements and can do so for improvements made in 2011.

A couple of other things to keep in mind about tax credits…

A tax credit, unlike a tax deduction, reduces the tax owed dollar-for-dollar, whereas a tax deduction lowers the taxable income. Take for example a qualifying home improvement that costs $5,000. The 30% will result in a tax credit of $500, no matter the homeowner's tax bracket. The federal income tax is reduced by the full amount of the credit. Some will also be eligible for state tax incentives and rebates.

Installation costs for home "shell" improvements like siding and windows can't be included in the credit but the products can. On the other hand, both products and installation for energy efficient improvements like a new air conditioning system or furnace (that meets energy-efficient guidelines) can be included in the tax credit.

Remember, the product must meet energy-efficient requirements. You can learn more by speaking with an energy efficiency expert. To do so request a free estimate from a professional specializing in: heating and air, solar energy, windows and doors, roofing or insulation.

Landscaping—Curb Appeal Plus

A well-designed and maintained landscape can serve several purposes, from increasing the quality of living to decreasing air conditioning needs up to 25%. Landscaping can also increase curb appeal and add up to 15% to your home's value.

According to Money Magazine and a study done by Clemson University, an attractive landscape that harmonizes nicely with the natural surroundings can bring more than a 100% return on your investment.

Home Additions and Remodels

These types of improvements not only add to the enjoyment of a home but can also add to its functionality, value and market appeal.

According to industry reports, the trend in home remodeling during these economically challenged times is leaning toward projects that require minimal or low cost maintenance and improvements that serve practical purposes.

Remodeling Magazine's 2009 report of home remodels with the best return on investment begins with these top 10:

  • Attic bedroom addition
  • Bathroom remodel
  • Bathroom addition
  • Family room addition
  • Replacing an entry door with fiberglass or steel material
  • Adding a new garage
  • Home office remodel
  • Major kitchen remodel
  • Minor kitchen remodel
  • Adding a new wood or composite deck

If considering a deck addition, keep in mind that while adding a deck improves the marketability of your home, an outdoor living space, such as an outdoor kitchen or family room can do even more in this area.

Kitchen and Bath Remodels

These are two of the best value remodels one can make in a home. Part of the reason for this is the value these types of improvements add. Realtors often note that once inside the home, prospective buyers will usually pay more attention to the bathroom and kitchen than any other rooms.

Home Security System

According to the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice an electronic security system is the most effective deterrent against criminal invasion of a residential home. And the best type of electronic security alarm is a perimeter system that is supplemented with one or more interior alarms. A security system is not just for protection of the home, but of the family.

Improve Your Home in 2010

Don't let this year pass you by—resolve to increase your home's size, value and save money with energy efficient improvements. Weigh the value of each: is there a good return on investment through energy savings or improved home value? Will your quality of life be improved in such a way that this value alone makes it a worthwhile investment? Consider the possibilities, shop around by getting project estimates, and then make home improvement resolutions worth keeping.

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