Need a New Roof? Weigh the Options

Homeowners needing to re-roof want low-cost, attractive options that will last the best part of a lifetime.

There are several reasonably priced and attractive options in the roofing industry today. By choosing the right roof, having it installed properly, and doing a little regular maintenance, most homeowners can look forward to a worry-free twenty years or more.

Composition shingles – Versatile and easy to install, composition shingles offer a clean look at the most affordable price. Higher quality options made of asphalt or fiberglass are easy to install, may be laid over an existing roof, and offer Class A fire protection. They may be walked upon without damage. On the negative side, shingles may be blown off in high winds, and they do not have the dimensional look of tile or wood shake.

Wood shake – Wood shake roofs offer lots of natural character because of variances in the cut and thickness of the wood, generally cedar. They are energy-efficient, insulating the attic and allowing the house to 'breathe.' But they are more expensive and will not last as long as fiberglass or tile because they are subject to damage by mold, rot, and insects. Today's pressure-treated shakes are impregnated with fire-retardant that meet national fire standards, but they require regular maintenance.

Clay tile – A good choice for houses of Southwestern or Mediterranean design, clay tile roofs are attractive, won't rot or burn, and comes in many colors and styles. They will last a long time, but they can be very heavy and may require extra roof support to hold the weight. Proper installation is important, and maintenance is minimal, but tiles are fragile and could break if walked upon.

Slate – An expensive choice selected for upscale homes, slate roofs provide a natural look in a variety of patterns. They offer a very long lifespan, good fire protection, and low maintenance, and are not vulnerable to rot or insects. Like tile, slate can be very heavy, sometimes requiring expensive extra support. It is also breakable enough that walking on it is difficult for a non-professional, complicating such tasks as maintenance and gutter cleaning.

Want to Sell Faster? Optimize Your Home's Best Features

Recent data has shown it looks as if the market may be turning! Home prices have crept upward for the second month in a row, according to a recent S&P/Case-Shiller home price index. However, if you're trying to sell your home, this news doesn't mean you should be sitting back and waiting. Draw in buyers by focusing on certain focal points that can give your property a selling edge, ensuring a faster sale--and a higher selling price.

Don't worry--there is no need to build a pricey addition or completely gut your existing property. By evaluating your home's top selling points, you can add modern touches to these features to create a new, fresh feel without doing major renovations.

Point 1: Glam up your bathroom and kitchen. Nice bathrooms and kitchens are attractive qualities in a house, and you can make yours look luxurious without going overboard.

If you can't afford double sinks, a whirlpool tub or a walk-in shower in your bathroom, try making subtle adjustments. Small tweaks, like a new mirror or updated lighting, can have a huge effect on the atmosphere of a room.

Expand the range of your kitchen by adding a center island with barstools, updating major appliances and giving a second thought to your countertops. Slab countertops, especially granite, are really popular choices. And as far as appliances go, stainless steel is the real deal.

Point 2: Opt for wood. Does your home have large, open rooms? Make them appear even larger with the right flooring. Hardwood floors are timeless. Consider ripping up old carpet and refinishing the wood beneath. Hardwood too expensive? There are many synthetic alternatives that are nearly as appealing as hardwood, at a fraction of the cost.

Point 3: Organization is key. Do you have a ton of open wall space? Make the most of them with built-ins. Buyers love built-in organizational systems, like entertainment credenzas or bookshelves. Built-ins are relatively easy to have installed, and can give your home a unique edge.

Don't forget about closets! Expanding the closets in bedrooms and bathrooms, or adding a walk-in pantry in the kitchen, can add additional sparkle to your home.

Point 4: Don't forget to landscape. Do you have a large yard? Be sure to keep the grass neatly mowed and any gardens well tended. Adding a deck or patio is a great idea, but if your budget won't allow it, simply place some outdoor furniture around the yard in small clusters, so buyers can imagine themselves spending time outside with family and friends.

The Top 35 Remodeling Projects That Yield Most Return on Investment

Every year real estate professionals pay particularly close attention to the annual "Cost vs. Value Report" that Remodeling magazine publishes, to learn the most important projects that could help their clients sell their homes faster and for more money.

The 24th annual edition of the free report was recently released with input from some of the top remodeling professionals in the country as they ranked 35 remodeling projects based on how much money they recoup. The results were somewhat surprising.

According to the report, exterior upgrades recoup more money than interior renovations, a trend that has been progressing the past five years.

The biggest recommendation on the list is replacing the front door with a steel entry door, which on average recoups more than 100 percent of the renovation costs.

The report also lists garage doors as a wise investment, recouping from 69.8 to 83.9 percent. Other smart outdoor renovations include siding replacement (recouping 80 percent) and wood window replacement (recouping 72.4 percent.)

When it comes to the interior of the home, the two areas that bring back the most money both take advantage of using space that is available. The projects that best retain their value for resale are attic renovations and basement remodels, recouping 72.2 percent and 70 percent, respectively.

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