Choosing Your Master Bedroom Location

The master bedroom is one of the most important rooms a prospective homeowner should consider when buying or building a house. The location of the room is important, and should accommodate your lifestyle needs and personal preferences.

Here are the top things to take into account when thinking about the location of your master bedroom!

Mobility Concerns

According to an AARP study, 87% of adults age 65+ want to stay in their current home and community as they age. This number is 71% among the 50-64 age group. When you consider that four of the top ten states with the highest aging population are New England states – Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Connecticut – these statistics are vital to many of our clients.

How does this relate to the location of the master bedroom? Well, with more homeowners choosing to age-in-place, many seek to build or buy a home with a first-floor master bedroom. That way, they do not have to go up and down the stairs multiple times a day.  The bedroom will also be in close proximity to other rooms that they use daily, like the kitchen, living room, bathroom, or garage. 

Making age-in-place considerations when buying or building a home also increases the resale value, as more and more homeowners are looking for a first-floor master suite.

Horton Group construction at the Residences at 66 High Street.

Lifestyle and Preferences

A homeowner should also consider their lifestyle and personal preferences when choosing the location of the master suite. 

Someone with young children may prefer a second-floor bedroom to be closer to the kids. Or perhaps they prefer to have more quiet and privacy on the first floor away from the children’s bedrooms. Keep in mind, a  first floor bedroom can be noisy if placed too close to the kitchen, living room, or any place with heavy foot traffic.

Someone who values privacy or is a light sleeper will probably want a bedroom located towards the back of the house – away from street lights, noisy roads, and peering neighbors. On the other hand, this might be a bad location for someone who prefers to be closer to the other bedrooms in the house, or wants a view of the front yard.

A first-floor master bedroom can be a money saver if children have moved out of the house and the second floor is largely unused. In this case, homeowners can choose to spend minimal energy heating or cooling the second floor and focus on keeping the first floor comfortable. 

Another factor to consider is access to outdoor space. Do you dream of being able to get out of bed in the morning and stroll right into your garden or step outside for beachside views? Then perhaps you should consider a first-floor bedroom with direct access to your outdoor space. For others, having such easy access to the bedroom from outside could be a safety concern.

Horton Group construction at 77 Palms

Conclusion

The location of the master bedroom is a big decision, and several factors should be considered including mobility, resale value, lifestyle, family size, and personal preference. Depending on all these factors, a homeowner may choose a master bedroom on the first or second floor, towards the front of the home, or the back of the home. 

There is no definitive right or wrong when it comes to choosing a master suite location, but prospective homeowners should consider these pros and cons to make an informed decision they will be content with in the long run.

Ready to discuss your dream master suite with us? Get in touch today.

3 Ways to Lower Your Air Conditioning Costs

With summer almost here, air conditioners start to run all day and night. In most homes, this accounts for the biggest share of energy consumption in summer. 

While your AC may keep you comfortable in the hot and humid months, costs can add up if you don’t have an efficient system. 

Keep reading to learn three tips to reduce air conditioning costs this summer. 

Upgrade Your Air Conditioning Unit

Old air conditioning units are inefficient, which means they consume more energy and cost more to run. By replacing window units with an efficient mini-split system, you can gain up to 70% energy savings.

Upgrading your HVAC system does come with a cost, so make sure you budget the project, and speak with a professional about the options available for your home. 

Smart Controls

Leaving the air conditioning on full blast is a waste. Just like you program heat in the winter, you can program your air conditioning to ensure your home is comfortable while saving you money. Program the air conditioning to your comfort level for the times of the day when you are home. When working or away, increase the temperature by 7-10 degrees to reduce costs. 

Mini-split systems also enable you to cool down the rooms you use the most. You can set the temperature for the main living areas to one level, and another level for rooms more seldomly used. 

Reduce Air Leakage

A home with poor insulation or air leaks enables cool air to get out and hot outside air to get into the home. The opposite is true during cold winter months, so this tip can help you save all year long!

Some easy ways to improve insulation are by caulking and weatherproofing all windows and doors, replacing any worn-out or drafty window treatments with new ones made of insulating materials (such as cotton drapes), and closing off unused parts of an attic when possible. You can also go an additional step to improve your home’s insulation by adding spray foam insulation throughout your home.

Your air conditioning unit is a major factor in your energy bills, and these tips can help reduce those costs. Do you have other tips? Let us know!

Cost vs. Value of Home Improvement Projects

Homeowners who are ready to remodel usually have a budget in mind. Another factor to look at when making upgrades is what you can expect for the project’s ROI. During remodels, not all costs are recouped, but they can add value to your home. 

The Cost vs. Value Report compares the average costs for 22 remodeling projects with the value they retained at resale across 101 U.S. markets in 2020. 

Take a look at the average costs and resale value before you take on your next project!

ProjectJob CostResale ValueCost Recouped
Manufactured Stone Veneer$9,357$8,94395.6%
Garage Door Replacement$3,695$3,49194.5%
Minor Kitchen Remodel | Midrange$23,425$18,20677.6%
Siding Replacement | Fiber-Cement$17,008$13,19577.6%
Siding Replacement | Vinyl$14,359$10,73174.7%
Window Replacement | Vinyl$17,641$12,76172.3%
Deck Addition | Wood$14,360$10,35572.1%
Window Replacement | Wood$21,495$14,80468.9%
Entry Door Replacement | Steel$1,881$1,29468.8%
Deck Addition | Composite$19,856$13,25766.8%
Roofing Replacement | Asphalt Shingles$24,700$16,28765.9%
Bath Remodel | Midrange$21,377$13,68864%
Bath Remodel | Universal Design$34,643$21,46362%
Roofing Replacement | Metal$40,318$24,68261.2%
Major Kitchen Remodel | Midrange$68,490$40,12758.6%
Master Suite Addition | Midrange$136,739$80,02958.5%
Bath Remodel | Upscale$67,106$37,99556.6%
Bathroom Addition | Upscale$91,287$49,96154.7%
Bathroom Addition | Midrange$49,598$26,80754%
Major Kitchen Remodel | Upscale$135,547$72,99353.9%
Grand Entrance | Fiberglass$9,254$4,93053.3%
Master Suite Addition | Upscale$282,062$145,48651.6%

As you can see, manufactured stone veneer and new garage doors have the highest resale value, with over 94% of costs recouped for both projects. Other projects that recoup a high percentage of remodeling costs include a minor kitchen remodel, siding replacement, window replacement, and deck addition. 

This does not mean that remodeling projects are not worth your time or money. You should also factor in your specific wants and needs and how long you plan to stay in your residence after the remodeling is complete. Once you set your budget and your vision, talk with your contractor about any concerns you may have about the resale value. 

What remodeling project are you most likely to take on in the next year? Let us know in the comments!

When do you need a Building Permit?

We know many people are taking on home improvements this year, and with good reason! Updating your home to improve function and design makes it more comfortable and can increase the property value. 

Before you get started on your projects, it’s essential to follow protocol and safety regulations. Depending on the project, this may include obtaining a building permit. 

What is a Building Permit?

A building permit records any changes you make to your property with your town. When you apply for a building permit, it also ensures that the remodeling project will be reviewed by an inspector and deemed safe for current and future residents. 

In addition to keeping your home improvements up to current safety standards, building permits are also proof that you complied with all building codes. Should you decide to sell your home in the future, it’s essential to have this documentation. 

When is a Permit Needed?

Home improvement projects that include structural, electrical, plumbing, or mechanical work generally require a building permit. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Structural Work: Changes to the structure of your property, including changes to load-bearing walls, foundation, roofing, decks, and balconies, require a permit. Your contractor will typically obtain the permit prior to construction.
  • Electrical Work: Simple jobs like installing a new light fixture does not require a permit, but changes to outlets, wiring, or overhead lighting does. 
  • Plumbing: Whether you install new plumbing or replace existing plumbing, a permit will most likely be required.
  • Heating and Mechanical: Any changes made to heating or ventilation requires a permit. This includes work on fireplaces and ducts. 
  • Window Installations: Any time you have to cut holes for window installations, whether installing a new window or replacing an old window with a larger version, you will need a permit. 
  • Additions and Remodels: Any new construction, including an addition or remodel, requires a permit. This includes detached garages and sheds. 

If you are unsure whether or not you need a permit, make sure you talk with a professional. Generally, your builder or contractor will obtain any permits required, so you don’t have to worry about completing the paperwork. 

Tools Every Homeowner Should Own

Even if you don’t consider yourself a handyman, having tools at your disposal will help you in a pinch. Whether you need to hang new photos, make minor repairs, or are tackling a DIY project, proper tools will help get the job done. 

Keep reading for a list of essential tools every homeowner needs. 

Measuring Tape

When you are buying new furniture, remodeling a room, or taking on a DIY task, a measuring tape is necessary. Select an easy-locking ¾-inch model at least 25 feet in length for use at home. 

Hammer

A claw hammer is one of the most basic tools because almost every project you take on will require one, from nailing things in place to minor demolition. Choose a hammer that is well-balanced with a comfortable grip. 

Level

Anything you install – from cabinets to shelving to wall art – requires a level. Laser levels make it very easy to be precise, but low-tech levels with floating bubbles are also accurate.

Screwdrivers and Screws

Make sure you have a screwdriver set with a variety of flathead and Phillips head sizes for any project you may need to complete. Of course, you’ll need various sized screws as well. 

Pliers

Vise-grip pliers lock in place, making them a versatile tool for many different uses. Needle nose pliers are essential for electrical work or when you need to reach a tight spot. 

Wrenches

Wrenches are often needed for putting together furniture. An adjustable crescent wrench has jaws that can tighten and loosen, making it great for a basic toolset. You can also invest in a wrench set, with wrenches in a variety of sizes. 

Utility Knife and Wire Cutter

A utility knife, or box cutter, can make precision cuts quickly and easily. Wire cutters are needed for electrical repairs and many craft projects. Both should be in your toolbox. 

Stud Finder

A handheld stud finder finds nails and screws in the wall, making it easy to find a stud when hanging photos or mounting a TV. 

Carpenter’s Square

A carpenter’s square, also called a combination square, is used in various woodworking, metalworking, and masonry projects. This tool helps you find 45 and 90-degree angles. 

Sander

A sander helps to create smooth surfaces for sealing or painting. Handheld sanders are great for many DIY projects and smaller jobs around the house. 

Cordless Drill and Drill Bits

A cordless drill can drill holes in sheetrock, which can aid in hanging curtains, artwork, and mounting items on the wall. Invest in a good set of drill bits to get the most out of your cordless drill.

C-Clamps

C-clamps come in handy for many projects. Clamps hold two materials together in place, making it easier to glue or nail them together. 

When buying tools, think about what you will use the most. Buying tools individually, rather than a complete toolkit, can ensure you only get what you need. Keep your tools well-organized so that when the need arises, you know where to find what you are looking for. 

Advantages of Buying a Home in Winter

Recent buzz in the real estate community exclaims that because of this year’s low inventory and historic low mortgage prices, competition among buyers is fierce. While experts predict the winter market will remain busy, it is expected to have less activity than the spring market, when even more buyers will be on the search. 

If you are ready to buy, whether you are looking for new construction or a resale, read the rest of the blog to see the advantages to buying property in the winter!

Less Competition 

Generally in the winter months there are fewer buyers because not as many people are willing to go house hunting in cold weather. Close to 40% of all real estate transactions country-wide occur between the months of May and August. Due to fewer buyers remaining active in their search, it becomes easier to find a home you love – for a price you can afford. Fewer buyers also means fewer all-cash, over-asking offers, making your traditionally financed offer more appealing. 

Motivated Sellers

In the off months of the real estate calendar, sellers are often more motivated to get a deal done promptly. Many sellers putting their house on the market in the winter are not doing so because they want to, but because they have to. These cases are often ones of urgency, such as an unexpected job change or a death in the family. Real estate agents are also well aware of sellers’ motives during the slow winter months, knowing they are more likely to negotiate, whether it is on the sale price, closing costs, or closing date. 

Test Durability Through Harsher Weather

Visiting open houses in the summer seems ideal with warm weather and better lighting, but for those residing in New England, that can be a mistake. Seeing how a house weathers the winter climates, on the other hand, shows you the durability of a house. In the winter, some houses experience cracks in the foundation, frozen and cracked pipes, poorly insulated rooms, and weathered roofs. Continuing your home search in the winter means you can look for signs of weather-related issues. 

More Flexibility With Movers

As we all become accustomed to moving in slow motion in the winter, surprisingly the movers themselves do not. With a decrease in business, moving companies often incentivise using their business by offering discounted rates. It is also hard to beat the availability of movers in the winter, due to the lack of competition. This helps for booking the exact time you need to be out of your old home and into your new one!

Home Maintenance Checklist

Whether you move into a newly constructed home or one previously lived in, home maintenance is must. By staying on top of upkeep, your home will not only look and run more efficiently, but it will also help keep your resale value high.

Each year, plan on saving 1-3% of your home’s value for regular home maintenance. By sticking to a schedule, you protect your biggest investment while maintaining a comfortable living situation. 

Here are monthly and seasonal checklists to help you to keep your home in top shape. 

Monthly

Check the interior and exterior of your home every month. With a quick walkthrough, you can check off these items and help eliminate surprises down the road:

  • Clean HVAC filters and change furnace filters.
  • Clean faucet aerators.
  • Inspect drains and look for leaks.
  • Inspect grout and caulking.
  • Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Clear indoor and outdoor air vents (including the kitchen vent hood).
  • Check water softener (if applicable).

Fall

When the temperatures are still moderate, get in as much yard clean up as you can, and prepare the home for winter:

  • Schedule another HVAC checkup.  You don’t want to realize there’s an issue after temperatures drop!
  • Inspect and clean the fireplace.
  • Clean gutters (after the leaves fall!).
  • Check the roof for missing shingles.
  • Check weatherstripping on doors and windows.  
  • Winterize exterior plumbing. 
  • Patch and seal driveway.

Winter

During the colder months of winter, pay attention to these interior needs: 

  • Touch up interior paint (as needed).
  • Clean grout in kitchens and bathrooms. 
  • Clean sink, tub, shower, and dishwasher drains.
  • Check the basement for leaks. 
  • Watch the roof for ice dams.
  • Check for drafts.

Spring 

As the weather begins to warm up, many people are eager for some fresh air and spring cleaning. In addition to a deep clean and yard cleanup, make sure you complete these tasks:

  • HVAC checkup by a professional. 
  • Inspect the roof, siding, and outdoor living spaces.  
  • Clean gutters.
  • Inspect driveway and walkways. 
  • Check for air leaks around doors and windows. 
  • Look for rotting wood or insect damage.

Summer

Complete these tasks early in the season so you can fully enjoy your summer:

  • Oil garage door and chain, and all door hinges.
  • Trim plants and hedges near the HVAC system.
  • Power wash exterior of the house.
  • Inspect foundation and crawlspace. 
  • Check sprinklers or lawn irrigation system. 
  • Check the damper in the fireplace.

Prepare Pipes for Winter

Whether we admit it or not, winter is coming, and it won’t be long before the first frost!

So what does that mean for your home? 

Winterize. 

Winterizing plumbing pipes is a process that prevents cracks and leaks by preparing pipes for freezing temperatures. Freezing temperatures tend to cause excess water within the pipes to freeze and expand, often causing damage.

Preparing for Winterization

Winterizing is most commonly recommended when a home is left vacant for an extended period of time, with no water running through pipes. This process ensures you don’t have any structural damage done to your plumbing system. 

The process entails emptying the water heater, draining all water from the pipes, and filling all fixtures with an antifreeze solution. Here are seven simple steps to winterizing:

  1. Shut off the main water valve, then turn off the water pump and water heater.
  2. Open all drain valves and taps.
  3. Blow excess water out of the pipes using an air compressor.
  4. Open the drain in your hot water tank and let it discharge until empty.
  5. Drain all the water left in the holding tanks, especially the one used along with the tank to build pressure. 
  6. Flush toilets to remove as much water as you can from the tanks and the toilet bowls.
  7. Check all sinks and tub drains that could have drain traps, and add antifreeze to prevent water from freezing and cracking within the traps.

How to Prevent Freezing Pipes 

It is important to know about your home, inside and out. Before winter each year, check for poorly insulated areas and pipes located on exterior walls or by windows. It is also recommended to inspect your home for any cracks or holes in any exterior walls, floors, and ceilings. If any blemishes are found, simply caulk them to keep the cold air from entering. The key is to control indoor environments by keeping your home secure and adequately insulated. 

Here are some extra tips to prevent frozen pipes:

  • Insulate pipes with insulation sleeves, using slip-on foam pipe insulation.
  • Inspect the exterior of the property to ensure all visible cracks are sealed. 
  • Maintain a heating source inside the home to protect pipes from cold.
  • Maintain a slow faucet drip, allowing the water to flow freely and continuously. 
  • Drain outdoor hose bibs and insulate them with covers.
  • Heat tape can also be used to winterize plumbing. 

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