11 Reasons Why You Should Clean Your Gutters

Have you been ignoring your gutters?

Gutters that fall into disrepair and become clogged are unable to do their job—protect your home. Clogged gutters can lead to leaky roofs and water damage, among other concerns. Not to mention, clogged gutters are a paradise for pests, rodents, and mold which aren’t the type of company you want attracted to your home.

We’ve outlined the top reasons you should consider moving gutter cleaning to the top of your to-do list.

Reason #1

Prevent Water Damage to Your Home

We recommend cleaning your gutters twice a year to avoid the risks of water damage. Water damage from gutters that haven’t been maintained can occur both inside and outside of the home.

Man cleaning out gutters

Excess water can travel into your home through crevices and cracks in the siding. This trickle might not seem like such a big deal at first but the compounding effects can result in serious and extensive water damage. This will appear as ugly staining to your walls and ceiling.

Clogged gutters and downspouts can also push water, with nowhere else to go, through the roofing structure. This process is aided by another problem that occurs when your gutters haven’t been maintained—ice dams.

The Average Cost of Restoring Water Damage: $2,000 to $5,000

Reason #2

Reduce the Risk of Cracked Foundation

Your gutter system plays a huge role in protecting your home’s foundation from damage. Without it, your foundation has no guard against pooling water during heavy rainfall.

Gutters help to move rain and melting snow away from your home. This helps to protect the base of your home from cracks and leakage that occurs when water pools around it. So while gutters themselves may seem insignificant, the financial damage you can incur from clogged gutters is undoubtedly significant.

Erosion and pooling water will weaken your foundation over time, eventually leading to cracks, shifting, or settling. Cracked foundation will lead to uneven floors and cracks in your walls. These are problems that are pricey and will need immediate attention from a professional.

The Average Cost of Cracked Foundation: $2,000 to $10,000+

Reason #3

Ward Off Pests

Gutter shields being setup

Clogged gutters make attractive hangouts for pests and rodents. This can be a serious health hazard for your family and also lead to a number of other damages associated with pest infestations.

Keeping your gutters clean keeps rot from occurring, which is an especially attractive feature of clogged gutters for pests.

If you skip out on having your gutters cleaned the pest and rodent problem can become more extensive. This can ultimately lead to major repair costs.

The Average Cost of a Pest Infestation: $300 to $600

Reason #4

Protect Your Roof

When your gutters are clogged, there’s nowhere for water to go. This can force water to your roof, resulting in water leaks. For obvious reasons, water leaks aren’t something you want occurring in your home.

Leaks can lead to further damage to your home’s interior, rot away your roofing system, and result in high repair costs. The cost to protect your roof with gutter cleaning services is relatively low in comparison to the average costs of roof repair.

The Average Cost of a Roof Repair: $650 to $1,100

Reason #5

Avoid Fascia Damage

Fascia and gutters on home

Your clogged gutters inevitably will begin to hold water. Between the mounting water and the weight of the debris clogging your gutters, your gutters will become incredibly heavy. This can lead to your gutter breaking away from the fascia causing damage to this portion of your roofing system.

The Average Cost of Fascia Damage: $600 to $6,000

Reason #6

Protect Garden Beds from Damage

If you’ve spent a great deal of time tending to or having a landscaping company tend to the garden beds around your home then you’ll want to do what you can to protect them.

If your gutters are unkept and overflowing with water, instead of successfully guiding it down a downspout, then your garden beds are at risk. Clogged gutters can lead to overwatering, which may ultimately kill your plants.

The Average Cost of Landscaping Damage: $500 to $1,000

Reason #7

Improve Curb Appeal

Leaves debris buildup in gutter

Clean gutters won’t be the one factor that sells your home (or makes your neighbors jealous). But clean, kept gutters give your home a defined look without distraction. In fact, the gutters will most likely blend right into the rest of your home—just how you want it to be.

Not only are clean gutters a good look, but the absence of damage caused by unkempt gutters is also a good look. This will keep your home from having saggy gutters, torn up landscaping, and water staining on your siding.

Whether you’re trying to sell your home right now or you just want a beautiful house to come home to, well-kept gutters will help you achieve your goal.

Reason #8

Prevent Basement Flooding

Basement flooding due to lack of working gutters happens due to water collecting in pools next to your home’s foundation. This can cause water to seep down and collect in your basement. You should be especially aware of this if your home’s landscaping does not slope away from your home.

You’ll want to ensure your gutters and downspouts are clean and free from clogs. It’s also important to repair and replace these when needed.

The Average Cost of Basement Flooding: $3,000 to $10,000

Reason #9

Extend Gutter Lifespan

Clogged gutters can accumulate debris and collect water, causing them to become damaged under the mounting weight. This can also lead to rust and corrosion, shortening the lifespan of your gutters.

Gutters that receive proper maintenance and cleaning can last for 20 to 50 years depending on the material used. Downspouts can last for even longer with average lifespans of 30 to 100 years.

The Average Cost of New Gutters: $600 to $1,500

Reason #10

Prevent Ice Dams

Ice dam and icicles on home

Ice dams form when snow on the roof of your home melts and runs into the gutters. Here it re-freezes due to the cold temperature of the gutters. This caused the formation of an ice dam that prevents proper drainage. This can be exacerbated by gutters that already have a buildup of debris due to lack of cleaning.

Ice dams can cause water to collect under shingles, moving moisture to damage the roof, fascia, and soffits on your home. Icicles can also form which adds additional weight which the gutters can not handle. This can lead to gutters detaching from the roof and damaging the fascia.

The Average Cost of Ice Dam Damage: $1,000

Reason #11

Prevent Unexpected (and Expensive) Repairs

There are multiple problems that can set in when gutters remain clogged for an extended period of time. Unfortunately, if your gutters have been neglected your home won’t be subject to just one repair. Clogged gutters can cause all of the damages covered in this article to the same home at once. This will result in a massive repair bill for your family.

You could be looking at total repair costs that are as high as $10,000 on the low end.

How to Clean Your Gutters

Man installing gutters on roof

If you don’t want to invest in a handyman to take care of your gutter cleaning for you, you can attempt it yourself.

Cleaning your gutters should be done twice yearly, preferably every six months. This is best done in the spring and the fall.

Follow the following three steps to keep your gutters clean.

First

Secure the proper equipment to safely clean your gutters. These include at least the following:

Second

Pull debris from your gutters and drop this debris into a bucket or down below you onto the ground. It’s best to lay out a tarp for easy cleanup.

Third

After cleaning your gutters, check your downspouts. You can use a hose to send water down these downspouts and flush out any debris. If no water comes out of the end you’ll know you have a clog to remove.

Hire a Pro

Hiring a handyman or roofing professional to take care of your gutters can take the stress off of you as the homeowner. A professional will also be able to determine if the gutter should be replaced, repaired, or cleaned.

Having a professional take care of your gutter cleanings is especially important for those with roofs that have extensive slopes and multiple stories.

Gutter cleaning services will range from $100 to a couple of hundred dollars depending on the number of stories your home has and how large your home is. We can provide you with a quote for gutter cleaning on your Tennessee home.

Need a Gutter Cleaning Service?

Start with a quote from our team of gutter experts.

How to Get Grants, Loans, and Rebates for Home Repair and Renovation

A complete guide to funding your home repair or renovation project

Table of Contents: Grants | Loans | Alternative Options | Smith Handyman Financing

Home repair and renovation is an expected side effect of homeownership. Repairing anything from drywall to gutters is to be expected. The expectation isn’t the problem, it's the cost that holds most homeowners back.

The average home renovation cost adds up to around $15,000 to $45,000 on the low-end. The majority of home renovations, like redoing your bathroom or kitchen, are planned and budgeted for in advance. Home repairs, on the other hand, are often unexpected and require immediate fixing. Think leaks and broken ACs. Many of these required home repairs cost homeowners between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars depending on the type and extent of repairs needed.

For a homeowner who wasn't expecting a high or sudden expense, home repairs and renovations may be out of the question. But rather than making do with problems in the home, you have the choice to turn to grants, loans, and other alternative funding options. We’ve curated a guide to securing the most common grants, loans, rebates, and financing alternatives for homeowners in Tennessee looking to repair or renovate their property.

Smith handyman Service does not give financial advice or tax advice. This is simply a guide to tell homeowners what their options are for a home repair or renovation.

Grants

Man cutting wood outside

Home improvement grants provide homeowners with a sum of money designated for repairs, modernizations, and safety-focused home improvements. These are often awarded based on financial need, status as a veteran, or age.

There may be some requirements, such as maintaining the home as your principal residence for a set number of years following the repairs and renovations. But, unlike loans, grants will not need to be paid back (unless you break the terms outlined in the agreement you signed.)

Where to Find Home Improvement Grants

The best place to start when it comes to home improvement loans is with a call to your local government office. The personnel there will be able to provide guidance and help you narrow down the grants to only those you are eligible for.

Tennessee homeowners can contact the Tennessee Housing Development Agency at (615) 815-2030 for assistance locating the city, county, or local agency you should contact for grants (or loans) for home rehabilitation.

Knox County residents can contact the Community Action Committee about their emergency home repair programs or the Knoxville Leadership Foundation for information on Operation Backyard.

Who Qualifies for Home Improvement Grants

Every grant is different and will have unique requirements. Grant eligibility is usually determined based on:

Grant #1

Emergency Repair Program (ERP)

This program is in place to repair and replace essential home systems for low-income homeowners who are elderly or disabled. The following repairs are eligible for the ERP:

This program is overseen by the THDA and administered locally through regional agencies. The Knox County regional ERP agency is the East TN Development District. Other regional agencies can be found using this Tennessee county map.

Grant Total: $10,000 lifetime maximum per homeowner

Deadlines: Check with your ERP agency for the current deadline.

Requirements: Homeowners must be 60 or older or must have a disability. They must have lived in the home for at least one full year and must fall below a certain income level. A full list of requirements can be found on the THDA website.

LEARN MORE

Grant #2

Single-Family Housing Repair Loans and Grants (Section 504 Home Repair Program)

The Single-Family Housing Repair Loans and Grants, otherwise known as the Section 504 Home Repair program, is a program that provides loans to low-income homeowners. The grant money must be allocated to repairs, improvements, modernization, or the installation of safety features in the home.

This program is provided by the USDA Rural Development. Access their website for complete, up-to-date information regarding this grant. You can also utilize their online tool to determine the eligibility of your home for this grant based on home location.

Grant Total: $7,500 maximum

Deadlines: Rolling

Requirements: Be the homeowner, occupy the home, have an income below 50% of your area’s median income. Additional requirements can be found here.

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Grant #3

Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)

WAP helps homeowners with energy efficiency by scheduling professionally conducted weatherization services. This helps to reduce the energy costs for low-income families and helps to increase financial independence.

Typical energy conservation measures used during WAP-provided weatherization services include:

This program is governed by the Tennessee Housing Development Agency and is managed by the CAC for Knox County residents. Access their website for complete, up-to-date information.

Grant Total: $7,669 maximum per unit

Deadlines: Contact your county's office for more information (Search office by county)

Requirements: Must be under a specified income threshold in order to qualify. Check this chart for more information. A full list of eligibility requirements can be found in the THDA WAP Manual.

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Grant #4

Home Modifications and Ramps (a program through United Cerebral Palsy)

This program works to build ramps for individuals with mobility disabilities. The lumber and supplies used for the program are funded through the THDA and the labor is mostly volunteer-based. While the eligibility for a fully-funded ramp installation is based on income, those who are above the income threshold can have a ramp built at the cost of lumber alone.

This program is provided by the United Cerebral Palsy of Middle Tennessee in conjunction with the Tennessee Housing Development Agency. Access their website for complete, up-to-date information.

Grant Total: Ramp installation at no cost

Deadlines: Rolling, but the program is waitlisted.

Requirements: Must meet the THDA household income criteria and have a mobility impairment that requires the use of a wheelchair ramp.

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Grant #5

Specially Adapted Housing Grant (SAH)

The Specially Adapted Housing grant provides money to buy, build, or change the permanent home of a veteran who has specified qualifying disabilities. This can include changes such as installing ramps or widening doorways as needed.

This program is provided by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Access their website for complete, up-to-date information.

Grant Total: $90,364 maximum (FY 2020)

Deadlines: View the VA website for more information about current deadlines.

Requirements: Individuals must own or will own and home and have a qualifying service-connected disability to be eligible for the SAH grant.

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Grant #6

Special Home Adaptation Grant (SHA)

The Special Home Adaptation grant is provided to eligible veterans with service-connected disabilities. It can be used to modify an existing home to meet their needs. Unlike the SAH grant, the SHA grant can be used for homes a veteran’s family member owns or will own.

If you can qualify for a SAH or SHA grant but are only temporarily living at a family member’s home, you may qualify for a Temporary Residence Adaptation (TRA) grant.

This program is provided by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Access their website for complete, up-to-date information.

Grant Total: $18,074 maximum (FY 2020)

Deadlines: View the VA website for more information about current deadlines.

Requirements: Individuals or their family members must own or will own the home. The individual must have qualifying service-connected disabilities.

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Grant #7

Home Improvements and Structural Alterations Grant (HISA)

The HISA grant provides improvements and alterations to a veteran's primary residence as needed for medical purposes. This can be applied to both owned homes and rented properties.

A flow chart of the HISA process can be found here.

This program is provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Access their website for complete, up-to-date information.

Grant Total: $6,800 lifetime maximum ($2,000 lifetime maximum of 50% or higher service-connected ‘non-service connected conditions’)

Deadlines: Rolling

Requirements: This grant is only for veterans with a service-connected condition. (HISA grants are available to veterans with a non-service connected condition rated 50% or more service connected.) The application process will require a number of documents that can be found on VA’s website.

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Loans

man fixing sink

A home repair loan is a loan used to cover home repairs. These can range from personal loans to home equity loans. Unlike grants, loans will have to be repaid with interest. There are generally other requirements written into the terms, such as paying by a certain time. It’s best to avoid loans, if possible, in favor of other financing options like grants.

What to Keep in Mind When Considering a Loan For Home Repair and Improvement Projects

You’ll need to do your homework before agreeing to the terms of a new loan. Consider the following before getting into a loan with less than ideal terms:

Tip: Always weigh the cost of borrowing against the cost of delaying the repair. You may find it is cheaper (albeit less convenient) to delay the repair than it is to borrow the money and move forward with the repair now.

Loan #1

Tennessee Repair Loan Program (TLRP)

The Tennessee Repair Loan Program, or TRLP, exists to help provide ‘safe and sound housing to households of low income, veterans, seniors, and homeowners with special needs’. This loan program assists with both repairs and improvements.

For clarity on the application process as a homeowner, review this flow chart provided by the THDA specifically for TRLP repairs.

In order to apply for a TRLP loan, you must go through a TRLP Program Participant. To locate a TRLP Program Participant, start by reaching out to an approved agency. The Knox county approved agency is Clinch Powell.

This program is provided by the Tennessee Repair Loan Program. Access their website for complete, up-to-date information.

Loan Total: $25,000 maximum

Deadlines: Contact your TRLP Program Participant for any deadlines.

Requirements: Only owners who have owned and occupied their property for at least 5 years are eligible for this loan. Post-Purchase Homebuyer Education is required to receive this loan.

LEARN MORE

Loan #2

Home Improvement Program (HIP)

The loan program provides loans specifically for the repair and improvement of houses. The aim is to protect the value of the home. This loan program has a few requirements and you’ll need to collect estimates before you apply.

This program is provided by The Housing Fund. Access their website for complete, up-to-date information.

Loan Total: $35,000 maximum

Deadlines: Rolling

Requirements: The applicant must use the home as their primary residence. There is a $500 processing fee as noted on their site.

LEARN MORE

Loan #3

Home Equity Loans & Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

With a home equity loan, the equity built on your home can be used to secure low-cost funds. This is through a ‘second mortgage’. The interest rates are generally lower than with personal loans and will usually have a fixed interest rate (but be sure to triple check this).

These loans are secured through banks. Access the website of your bank for complete, up-to-date information.

Loan Total: Varied

Deadlines: Rolling

Requirements: This will vary by lender.

Loan #4

Personal Loan

With an unsecured personal loan, you do not put up an asset (like your house in the case of home equity loans).

These loans are secured through banks, credit unions, peer-to-peer lenders, and online lenders. Access the website of a lender of your choosing for complete, up-to-date information. You’ll likely want to shop around for the best rates.

Loan Total: Usually between $1,000 and $100,000

Deadlines: Rolling

Requirements: This will vary by lender.

Alternative Options

holding credit cards

Grants, loans, and insurance aren’t the only way to fund your home repair or renovation project. Check out these additional ways you can help yourself help your home projects along.

And remember, while some home repairs are an immediate must, it’s best to avoid putting yourself into a dire financial situation for a fancy new renovation you simply want rather than need.

Credit Cards

Opening a new credit card or utilizing one already in your possession is a financing option for homeowners to consider when planning a repair or renovation. Depending on the card, rewards, $0 annual fees, and low-interest rates can help to make this a more financially feasible way to fund home projects.

Shop around for the best cards and consider seeking advice from a financial advisor before dumping the entirety of your home improvement project onto a credit card.

Contractor Financing

Many contractors, like Smith Handyman, offer our own financing options. This condenses the total cost of the project into affordable monthly payments made directly to us, the contractor.

As a contractor, we offer our clients financing options through us. Contact us to learn more about your options.

Property Tax Exemptions

Oftentimes (but depending entirely on home location), home improvements will be exempt when calculating property tax. You’ll want to check in with your local tax assessor to determine if you qualify.

Depending on where your home is located, you may even be given a break from paying property tax altogether for a predetermined number of years. This is generally only following significant restoration to derelict homes or historic properties.

Tax Credits and Deductions

There are a number of tax credits and deductions homeowners can take to lower their tax bills. This can in turn help with the cost of repairs or renovations. You should consult with a tax professional before making any serious financial decisions or filing your taxes.

Consider these tax credits and deductions types for a head start with your tax-related research:

A tax professional will be able to break down the specifics of tax laws and help you determine a strategy for your home-related financial decisions throughout the year.

203(K) Rehab Mortgage Insurance

Section 203(k) insurance allows homeowners the ability to finance the purchase of their home with the rehabilitation costs under a single mortgage. This rehab mortgage insurance can be used with the refinancing of an existing house as well.

This is a long-term payment plan with a fixed or adjustable rate. There are some limitations to how homeowners can use this. We’ve broken out some key points below, but visit the HUD website for more details:

Applicants must submit through an FHA approved lender.

A Note For Owners of Historical Homes

If you are the owners of a historical home or property you have a number of things to consider when it comes to renovations and repair. But, you may also find yourself with more financing options geared specifically toward historical homeowners.

Historical homes will need to be renovated by experts in historical home repair. You’ll want to decide whether your renovation will be more of a restoration or if you’ll bring modern features into the home. It’s important to note, if you are hoping to secure financial assistance specifically for historical homes you’ll likely have to adhere to strict guidelines in favor of restoration to keep the historical integrity of the property.

Try the following outlets for financial assistance specific to historical properties:

Our Financing Options

Handyman shaking hands with cusotmer

If you don’t qualify for any of the options outlined above but you still need a way to fund your next home improvement or repair project, we can help. We offer home improvement loans through GreenSky® Direct.

This loan covers indoor and outdoor projects and includes various payment options. Get a credit limit of up to $55,000 for use with any home improvement contractor or store—although we recommend going with us for the best quality and overall satisfaction.

Contact us to learn more about the use of your GreenSky® Direct Home Improvement loan for our services.

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Bathroom Remodeling Projects That Will Increase Your Home’s Value

7 changes to consider for your bathroom remodel

When it comes to increasing the value of your home, the bathroom should be an area of interest for you. The average cost of remodeling your bathroom in 2020 is right around $10,000, with low-end remodels coming in at around $2,500 and high-end estimates reaching up to $25,000.

While this might seem high, there are ways to lower the cost of a bathroom remodel while still adding a ton of value to your home. Let’s look at seven ideas you can use to add value to your home via bathroom remodeling in 2020.

Bathroom Renovation Ideas at a Glance

  • Countertops
    Countertops

    Pros: Low Maintenance

    Cons: High Upfront Cost

  • Safety Features for Seniors
    Safety Features for Seniors

    Pros: Real Added Safety

    Cons: Unattractive to Younger Buyers

  • Reglazing Tub
    Reglazing Tub

    Pros: Low Cost, Quick Renovation

    Cons: Not the Best Value-Add

  • Steam Shower
    Steam Shower

    Pros: Popular and Luxurious Renovation

    Cons: High Cost

  • Heated Floors
    Heated Floors

    Pros: High Perceived Value

    Cons: Lower Value Than Alternatives

  • Fogless Mirrors
    Fogless Mirrors

    Pros: Practical Solution Keeps It in Style

    Cons: Low Actual Value

  • Shower Seat
    Shower Seat

    Pros: Affordable Options

    Cons: Impractical for Smaller Showers

1. Install New Countertops

Bathroom countertops can add a lot of value to your home if you pick the right ones. New bathroom countertops are a high-value addition, and they can be low-maintenance, depending on what material you use.

However, the upfront cost of new countertops can be steep. There are also a few potential problems with concrete countertops and other porous materials. Porous materials will absorb spills like a sponge and are a nightmare when it comes to stains. This means you’ll want to carefully consider the type of countertop you have installed in your home.

Let’s breakdown the average cost of new countertops by material type:

Concrete falls into the middle of the spectrum when it comes to costs. Keep in mind, concrete is porous so it needs to be sealed and resealed periodically for maximum durability and performance. You’ll also need to consider taking precautions against cracking, chipping, and scratches.

The lowest maintenance countertops materials are laminate, solid surface, quartz, stainless steel, granite, lava stone, and slate. The higher maintenance materials tend to be things like butcher block, bamboo, reclaimed wood, concrete, limestone, and marble.

Your decision will ultimately come down to your preferred aesthetic, the overall cost, and any necessary maintenance.

2. Add Safety Features for Seniors

Senior-focused renovations such as handrails, higher toilets, rounded countertop edges, non-slip flooring, and walk-in showers can all boost your home’s value. This is especially true if you’re in a market with a significant elderly demographic.

White bathroom freshly remodeled

The upside to adding features like these is they add real safety and security to your home, mainly for the elderly and disabled. But, this may turn away younger buyers who don’t plan on having many people who are elderly or disabled in their homes.

Another consideration is overall cost. Some senior-focused renovations, like walk-in showers, can be rather expensive.

3. Reglaze the Bathtub

Adding fresh glaze to your bathtub is one of the easiest ways to boost your home’s value. A bathtub can go quite a while without needing full-on replacement, but new glaze can give yours a fresh look.

White bathroom freshly remodeled

Glaze is what gives your bathtub its color and shine. By adding a new coat, you can restore the glimmering sheen your tub used to have, making it look brand new.

This remodel is super cheap and quick. Plus, you can effortlessly update your bathtub glaze as trends change. However, it might not be the most effective value-add, especially if your bathroom is weathered in other places.

Reglazing a tub costs between $30 and $150 for materials alone. Labor costs will bring your total up to around $450 on average.

4. Install a Steam Shower

Steam showers are all the rage right now, so installing one in your bathroom is guaranteed to generate some more value for your home. By installing a steam generator in your shower, you can add the steam room feel without removing the showerhead and functional purpose of your shower. These tend to work best in enclosed showers but small bathrooms can benefit from them as well, especially if you have fogless mirrors.

This is a popular upgrade that gives the space a luxurious feel. It will almost certainly boost your home’s profile on the market. Unfortunately, it can be rather expensive to achieve, especially if you’re rebuilding your shower from top to bottom. Steam showers can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $6,000 to install on average.

5. Put in Heated Floors

Bathroom floors are almost always made from some type of material that doesn’t conduct heat well. This usually means cold floors in the mornings and at night. You can add heated floors to counteract this. Weatherproofing windows and doors combined with heated flooring can work wonders in any bathroom.

Heated floors sound amazing to buyers and can add a ton of perceived value. They do tend to be pricey, though, and can easily malfunction if not installed carefully. The average cost of installation is anywhere from $6 to $16 per sq ft. Keep in mind, initial installation isn’t the only cost associated with heated floors. They can eat up electricity if you leave them running too often.

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6. Install Fogless Mirrors

Another hot and trending bathroom item right now is the fogless mirror. Similar to fogless shower glass, fogless mirrors are immune to fog and steam. This is very useful and, again, very attractive to potential buyers. For small bathrooms without a fan, having a mirror made from fogless glass is the only way to step out of a hot shower and see yourself in crystal HD-clarity.

Fogless mirrors never go out of style because of their practical value. A downside, though, is they might not add as much value as you expected. This is especially true if fogless mirrors are the only upgraded feature in your bathroom.

7. Add a Shower Seat

White bathroom freshly remodeled

The average shower is about 8 minutes long, which is plenty of time for some people to get tired of standing. If your shower has enough space for you to wash up and move around, installing a shower seat might be the right move.

There are different styles of shower seats but the general idea is to have a folding seat installed into the wall so you can fold it down and wash up while you’re sitting, then easily stow it away when you’re done.

This is a super cheap and quick remodeling project that can add a lot of value for a low price. Unfortunately, if you have a small shower, you might not have enough room for one.

Don’t Break the Bank on a Bathroom Remodel

The goal of a bathroom remodel to increase home value is to use high-leverage, low-cost projects to supplement your overall remodel. If you want to save money on your bathroom remodel, avoid rearranging plumbing. Also, use a frame around your fogless mirror to hide any flaking around the edges.

A quick seat and lid change on your toilet is more effective than replacing the whole thing. You should look for sales on lighting fixtures and products to upgrade your bathroom’s lighting efficiency as well.

All in all, if you’re able to combine one or two big-budget upgrades with a few of the smaller ones we’ve suggested, you should be able to achieve a complete bathroom makeover for a decent price. That way, you can add as much value as possible without totally draining your bank account in the process.

Contact us to get a custom quote for your bathroom renovation project.

Matt Lee is the owner of the Innovative Building Materials blog and a content writer for the building materials industry. He is focused on helping fellow homeowners, contractors, and architects discover materials and methods of construction that save money, improve energy efficiency, and increase property value.

Remodeling Ideas for Seniors in 2020

7 ways to improve your home for aging in place

Remodeling your home is a great way to change things up, make it more livable, and occupy your time. There are always new and exciting remodeling projects to explore no matter what age you are or the type of home you live in.

In case you’re thinking about remodeling your home, here are a few ideas you might want to consider.

1. Install Handrails to Reduce the Risk of Falling

Handrails in bathroom No one likes to think about falling. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every eleven seconds, a senior citizen is treated in the E.R. for a fall. More shockingly, every nineteen minutes, a senior loses their life from injuries related to a fall. Thankfully, there’s a terrific solution to help reduce this risk. Handrails are a great addition to any home occupied by senior citizens or those with mobility impairment. They are one of the simplest and cheapest remodeling projects only costing about $300 on average including installation and could end up preventing catastrophic injury to you and your family. Home handrails that can support up to 500 pounds and are often placed in areas of the home such as the bathroom or on a staircase and can help prevent major accidents in the home during old age like a slip or fall.

2. Consider New Durable Siding

Handrails in bathroom Siding tends to get old pretty quickly, especially if you just have some cheap vinyl siding lining the exterior of your home. One of the last things you’ll want to worry about when you're older is having to manage the maintenance of the siding yourself (or paying a lot to have someone else do it for you). To make things easier for yourself in the long run you may want to look into investing in a siding option that is durable and doesn’t require constant upkeep and maintenance. Some of the most durable siding options out there are engineered wood siding and steel siding. Natural wood siding can look great but often requires lots of maintenance, if you want the look of wood without the durability or upkeep requirements, you can opt for fiber cement siding with a natural wood grain look and feel. You can also pair this with some exterior window ideas to change up the whole look and color scheme of your home.

3. Re-Do Your Roof with Shingles That Will Last

Handrails in bathroom Just like with your home's siding you won’t want to have to worry about your home's roof in the future when you're older and can prevent this by investing in a durable and resistant roof now. Composite shingles are one of the best alternatives to asphalt shingles thanks to their durability and cost-effectiveness. While asphalt shingles have been a go-to solution thanks to their cheap cost, they have their fair share of downsides. You won’t want to go with asphalt shingles if you're trying to look forward and invest in something that will last since even at their best, asphalt shingles only last about fifteen to twenty years. For one, asphalt shingles don’t do well in inclement weather and you’ll want to ensure your home and you are safe if you plan to retire somewhere with a climate that has dangerous storms or weather. Asphalt shingles also absorb heat, causing your energy bill to spike in warm summer months. Investing in something like composite shingles may be more expensive at first but will save you money in the long run which can help cut down the cost of your home's energy costs which would be highly beneficial when you’re older especially if you’re on a tight budget. Composite shingles, on the other hand, are built to last. These shingles have a lifespan of around thirty to fifty years! They’re incredibly durable, lightweight, and can come in a variety of colors. Composite shingles have all these benefits because they’re made by combining several common roofing materials to create a powerhouse shingle material. Investing in composite shingles would be a wise decision if you want your roof to stand the test of time and not have to worry about maintenance or replacing it.

4. Install Solar Panels to Lower Your Energy Bills

Handrails in bathroom If you do install a new roof, it’s a great time to think about solar panels. Solar panels allow you to harness the power of the sun for your home’s electricity. Rather than using traditional electricity, these panels absorb the U.V. rays of the sun to power your entire house. Solar panels are typically installed right on top of your roof, but there are also other options like ground-mounted solar panels. Going with solar energy provides an array of benefits. However, the cost savings are probably the most exciting benefit for seniors on fixed incomes. Although panels do have an initial investment, on average, homeowners save anywhere from $10,000-$30,000 on electricity costs during the lifetime of their solar panels. Overall, homeowners will solar can expect average savings of approximately $1,408 every single year. Additionally, some states offer additional rebates and incentives for making the switch to solar energy.

5. Turn Your Tub into a Walk-in Shower for Premium Safety and Luxury

Handrails in bathroom A walk-in shower is another project that’s specially tailored to making life easier for those looking to age in place. The bathroom is one of the most dangerous areas for fall risks because of the slick floors and wet surfaces. In fact, as much as 80% of all falls in the home happen in the bathroom. Getting in and out of the tub is one of the highest risk times, so a tub/shower combo can be dangerous. A walk-in shower with a non-slip floor is a lot safer for those with a harder time keeping their balance. It’s also a luxury upgrade that looks amazing that will ultimately leave you much more satisfied with your shower situation. You could also pair it with some fogless shower glass for the ultimate safety upgrade.

6. Create a Backyard Oasis to Soak Up the Benefits of Nature

Handrails in bathroom You’ve probably already heard, but spending time outside is great for your health. One study found that exposure to nature reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and premature death. Plus, other studies have shown that nature can decrease anxiety, depression, and stress. These health benefits can be great for anyone but it is especially important to pay careful attention to your health when you're older. All of these benefits are terrific reasons to spend some time remodeling your outdoor space. If you don’t have a porch or patio, consider adding one. You can even lookup how to install a pergola. If you have a green thumb, planting a garden is a superb way to create a beautiful oasis that will inspire you to continue to go outside for years to come. Beautifying your outdoor space will encourage you to go outside more when you're older and reap all of the benefits that the great outdoors provide for you. There are countless ideas for remodeling your backyard, but a porch and a garden are great places to start.

7. Upgrade Your Fixtures to Improve Ease of Use

Handrails in bathroom As we get older, we begin to lose dexterity in our hands. This can make simple tasks like opening doors, turning off light switches, and adjusting the shower more challenging than they used to be. If you want a simple remodeling project that will improve the quality of your life and boost the appearance of your home, this is an excellent project for you. Start by switching all the light switches to the rocker-panel design or consider installing motion-activated lights instead. Next, replace all the doorknobs with lever-style knobs instead of the ones that turn. Then, consider installing an automatic flusher on the toilet, and an easy-to-turn faucet in your shower. Then, replace all the knobs on your cabinets and drawers that are difficult to grab or pull. While these modifications might seem silly now, as you get older, they can significantly improve your daily quality of life. The great thing about fixtures is that there’s no shortage of different styles. You can change the entire look of your home by merely upgrading the fixtures.

Remodeling for a Better Aging in Place Experience

Handrails in bathroom If you want to upgrade your home in a way that adds real functional value and style while making your home safer, you can’t go wrong with any of the ideas listed here. From new shingles and siding to a walk-in shower, handrails, and more, each one of these ideas would make for the perfect project to keep you busy this year, in case you’ve got some extra time on your hands. It’s never a bad idea to improve the aesthetic appeal of your home while making it safer and more livable at the same time. Matt Lee is the owner of the Innovative Building Materials blog and a content writer for the building materials industry. He is focused on helping fellow homeowners, contractors, and architects discover materials and methods of construction that save money, improve energy efficiency, and increase property value.

Handyman Services: the Best Way to Protect Your Biggest Investment

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The benefits of hiring a handyman

Homeowners know just how expensive it can be to keep your house looking good inside and out. In fact, it can often seem like an unending task to keep your home maintained. It’s like magic: as the moment you repair one thing, something else needs your attention. It’s enough to pull your hair out in frustration, especially if you don’t even know where to start!

This is, of course, where handyman services come in. Yes, spending a few extra bucks on having a skilled and experienced Knoxville handyman to come to your house and get things back in working order might seem like a hassle, but it often beats doing it yourself. In the long run, relying on handyman services for regular maintenance can add years (and thousands of dollars in value) to your house Your home is perhaps the biggest investment you’ll ever make in your lifetime, after all — why shouldn’t you protect it?

What Kinds of Handyman Services We Offer

When we say “handyman services”, we don’t just mean one specific facet of home repair or maintenance. A good handyman knows how to do a little bit of everything, which means you can rest assured that we’ve got you covered on everything except the biggest, most complex jobs. And thanks to our connections in the home repair and renovation industry, we know the best contractors for you even if we can’t do it ourselves.

So what’s covered under handyman services? What isn’t! From cleaning leaves out of rain gutters, patching leaky roofs, fixing garage door openers, and landscaping or lawn irrigation to unclogging toilets, installing kitchen appliances, weatherizing windows, and home repairs, a good handyman can handle just about anything and everything thrown at him.

Let Us Save You Time, Money, and Effort

Handyman services are great for anyone looking to get their home maintenance and repair done the easy way. When it comes to jobs you don’t know how to do or ones that you don’t have the time or energy to undertake yourself, leaving it to the experts like us means your home repair jobs go off without a hitch. We’ll get the job done right the first time with no effort on your part.

Our services can often help you save money as well as sanity. do-it-yourself home maintenance can be really expensive, especially if you don’t have much experience in doing the kinds of things we do every day. This can lead to mistakes being made — and mistakes often cost a lot to fix. This is just one way that the price of a good handyman will often be much less than you would end up paying to have it done yourself!

Your Home Is Your Castle – Let Us Keep It That Way

We’re ready and willing to come out and take a look at your next home maintenance or repair project. Call us today to get an estimate for services and you’ll see just how we can keep your home looking like the castle it is!

Finding the Best Handyman Services in Knoxville: A Handy Guide

best handyman service in knoxville
How to know if you should hire a handyman When you’re on the hunt for handyman services in Knoxville, it can be a real challenge finding the best contractor for your needs. Your home is your most valuable investment, one that’s crucial to maintain properly, so your choice of handyman is just as important. Whether you need regular maintenance like cleaning the gutters or you’ve got a more substantial repair job, here’s a short but handy guide to finding the best handyman services in your area.

Rely on Word-of-Mouth for Handyman Services

News travels fast, and contractors build reputations quickly. You can often rely on word-of-mouth and online reviews to find a handyman that has done good work for others in your community. The easiest way to start your search is online! Look up “handyman” or “handyman services” in your area, and you will see a list of options. Take a look at a few, verify their quality by their online reviews, and make a few calls. Another great place to start your search is at your local hardware store, cafe, or supermarket. Many of these places will have a bulletin board or other space for local contractors to leave their business cards. Not only that, but most hardware store clerks often have personal knowledge of local contractors and the quality of the handyman services they offer, making them a great resource for starting your search.

Narrow Down Your Choice for Handyman Services

Once you’ve got a lead on a couple of contractors, you’ll have to begin narrowing down your choices. This will require some legwork on your part. Your best bet is to contact each contractor and ask them a couple of questions about things like their rates and availability and whether they’re licensed to do the particular work you want to be done. Some of these questions are situational; if you have a project that needs doing in a hurry, you’re going to need a handyman who’s got immediate availability, for example. Also, different states require different licenses, or sometimes no licenses at all. Either way, asking pointed questions will help you make a final decision as to which contractor’s services you want to use.

Don’t Forget the Estimate

Still not sure if you’ve found the contractor for you? Can’t decide between handyman number one and handyman number two? A surefire way to reach a final decision is to ask for a written estimate for the work you need done. Anyone who’s serious about providing handyman services won’t hesitate to come out to your work site and leave you with a quote for their services. Not only will you see how much the contractor will charge you for the job, but you’ll have a written record of how long the job is expected to take. This is important if you need to plan around the repair or construction work.

Wrapping It All Up

You don’t have to end up pulling your hair out because you’re having trouble finding the best handyman services in your area. Remember to rely on resources like those you can find on bulletin boards in local stores, ask prospective contractors important questions before hiring them, and always get yourself a written estimate before making your final decision. Following these guidelines will help you find a hard-working, reputable contractor who will get the job done both safely and affordably, keeping your home in good shape for years to come.

Remodeling Services: Making Your House Into a Home

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How to get your remodeling jobs done right (the first time)

Whether you’ve just bought a fixer-upper or it’s time to update an existing property that’s seen better days, undertaking a major remodeling can be one heck of a tall order. Things can (and do) go wrong all the time and these mistakes can lead to expensive fixes. But it doesn’t have to be this way! Keep in mind the following remodeling tips, straight from your reliable Knoxville contractor, and you can turn a potential disaster around in no time.

Plan Out Every Detail Before You Begin

Home remodeling is not the time to fly by the seat of your pants. Because of how complex (and potentially expensive) renovation materials can be, make sure to plan out every aspect of a home refurbishment project well before you begin. From paint color and appliance choices down to the type of knobs you want on your new cabinets, no detail is too specific to have locked in beforehand.

Start Remodeling From the Outside In

Our first remodeling tip is to begin any renovation or refurbishment efforts starting with the outside of your property. Need new gutters? Want to update the siding? Have a leaky roof that needs patching? Begin there before moving deeper into the interior of your home. This goes for issues with the building’s foundation, garage, exterior windows, or any other structures like decks and porches as well.

You don’t want to start an interior renovation only to have it grind to a halt because you find out the roof needs replacing!

Work With a Reputable Home Contractor

Unless you’re doing all the renovating and remodeling yourself, you’re probably going to be working with a contractor. This means you’ll need to find one who’s going to charge you a reasonable price for the work that needs doing.

If you don’t have an existing relationship with a home handyman already, you’ll need to find a reputable contractor. Make sure they’re fully licensed and that they come highly recommended by other homeowners they’ve worked with in the past.

Don’t Forget Home Safety With Your Home Remodeling

Planning updates for rooms like kitchens and bathrooms can consume every waking moment, but there’s an important home remodeling aspect that you simply cannot ignore: home safety. In the midst of all the renovation and refurbishment, you need to make an effort to update crucial safety equipment like smoke detectors, carbon monoxide alarms, and fire extinguishers.

Other important aspects include testing thermostat or related climate control systems to ensure they’re working accurately, replacing them with more efficient, modern money-saving versions if necessary.

The Final Word on Home Renovation Projects

If you’re about to embark on a home remodeling project, don’t panic: following this short guide can help you get the job done smoothly, quickly, and without blowing your budget. If you have any other questions about your project, don’t hesitate to get an estimate from your friendly neighborhood home renovation contractor today so you can rest assured you’re on the right track. You’ll have your home looking updated and beautiful again in no time!

How To Fix A Leaky Faucet

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All the supplies you’ll need to tackle a leaky faucet

Certain noises are almost universally recognized. Sounds like a person’s laughter, the boom of thunder, or a dog barking in the distance. Of these recognizable sounds, a leaking faucet is one homeowners dread hearing. Many restless nights have been caused by the constant dripping of a leaky faucet. When homeowners run into this problem, they often try to solve it themselves. Sometimes, it’s an easy fix like listed below; other times, you may need to call for backup. Try these tricks to fixing a leaky faucet. If your problem still isn’t solved, fill out our free estimate request and we’d love to help you out.

What You’ll Need:

  • Adjustable Pipe Wrench
  • Basin Wrench
  • Hex Wrench
  • Adjustable Pliers
  • Rag

There are single handle and double handle faucets. Single handle only has 1 control arm for both cold and hot. Double handle has a separate handle for cold and hot water sources. For the purpose of this article we’re going to assume you have a single handle faucet. 

Now, determine the source of the leak. If the faucet is leaking from the spout there is probably a damaged part inside the faucet itself. If the base is leaking it’s probably an o-ring or seal. Locate the water source hose under your sink and turn off the flow of water. Open your faucet handle to remove any remaining pressure in the lines. Place a rag over the drain hole to protect and prevent losing any parts. 

Remove the faucet handle using a hex wrench and remove the metal cap. If the faucet base is leaking, slide the spout off and replace the damaged o-rings underneath. If the faucet spout is leaking, remove the faucet handle, cap, and disassemble the internal parts (or cartridge). Lay the parts out in order and snap a picture with your phone so you don’t forget how to reassemble. While replacing that single broken part is an option, it’s better to replace the entire cartridge. Take your internal parts to the plumbing store and find the correct replacement assembly. 

Follow manufacturer suggestions for installation, making sure to use plumbers grease on any o-rings or seals. Once all the parts have been installed, open the faucet handle and slowly turn your water supply supply back on. Allow any air to bleed out of the lines and shut the faucet handle off. If your leak persists, it may be time to get some help. We specialize in helping homeowners repair leaky faucets. With years of experience in home repairs, you can trust that we’ll get the job done right, the first time.

Pros & Cons Of Wood Laminate Flooring

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Your guide to wood laminate flooring

There’s never a bad time to consider renovating your home. Many homeowners choose to renovate piece by piece over the course of time. When it comes to renovating your floors, wooden floors may seem like a great option. Wood floors look great, last for decades, and add a strong decorative touch to your home. The problem with wood floors is that they’re far more expensive than other flooring options. Because wood floors can be pricey, more and more homeowners are choosing to use wood laminate flooring instead. For information on what flooring is the right option for your project, check out our article on choosing the best flooring.

What Is Wood Laminate Flooring?

Let’s go over what exactly wood laminate flooring is made from. Comprised of multiple layers laminated together, this synthetic flooring usually has a bottom layer made from plastic and wood fibers. Then, a photographic applique of wood is applied, followed by a clear, protective layer. This technique allows for floors to have near photo-realism with a vast range of potential color, texture, and grain options.

Wood Laminate Flooring Pros

The biggest pro is price. Wood laminate is much cheaper than the real wood alternative. You can buy wood laminate for as little at $1.50 per square foot. Compare that to the $4 per square foot for real wood and that can quickly add up. Installation is also much more straightforward than real wood or carpet. Most laminate is designed with tongue and groove edges so laying and installing flooring is quick and efficient. Laminate is tough, durable, and will resist things like scratches better than hardwood.

Wood Laminate Flooring Cons

Because it is layered plastic and coating, laminate floors can not be refinished. If standing water is left untreated, laminate flooring will need to be replaced. Check the warranty of your laminate flooring to ensure it covers such incidences. Cheaper laminates won’t have such protections.

If you think you’re ready to start the remodeling process, or still have some questions about flooring, we’d love to talk with you. With years of flooring experience, we can help you complete any home project on time and on budget. Fill out our free work estimate to get started today!

How To Replace Bathroom Caulking

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Your guide to replacing bathroom caulking

If you’ve lived in your current home for more than 5 years you’ve probably noticed some changes around the house. Paint starts to fade, carpet doesn’t look quite the same, and don’t even get me started on the back deck. The bathroom is no exception to this trend. Because bathrooms are such a high traffic area of the home, they tend to take more of a beating than most rooms. One thing homeowners might start to specifically recognize is bathroom caulking starting to split or fall out. In this article we’ll be going over how you can replace the caulking in your bathroom, start to finish.

If you’d like to employ our professional handyman services to help you, give us a call or fill out an estimate form.

First, let’s go over some things you’ll need:

  • Utility knife
  • Razor scraper or painter’s tool
  • Old rags or paper towels
  • Mineral spirits or paint thinner
  • Bathroom caulking
  • Caulk gun

Now let’s locate the areas that may need to be re-caulked. Because bathrooms can have high moisture levels, caulk around tubs, sinks, cabinets, and even windows may need to be replaced. Generally speaking, caulk should last around 5 years before showing signs of deterioration or splitting. This can depend on usage and moisture content. 

Once you’ve located the spots that need replacing, you want to remove the old caulk and clean the surrounding area. To get started with this, take a utility knife or razor blade and carefully cut along the edge of the caulk lines; trying not to damage the surrounding material. Use your painter’s tools to remove the caulk and scrape remnants away from surrounding material. Depending on how much moisture is in the air, there may be mold or caulking residue left around the area. Grab your mineral spirits and a rag. Put a small amount of spirits on the rag and carefully clean the area. Allow the area to completely dry before moving on to the next step.

Once your work area has completely dried grab your bathroom caulking. This can be clear or colored caulking, depending on your preference. Insert your caulking tube into the caulking gun and using a utility knife, cut off approximately ¼” tube tip at a 45 degree angle. This should leave you a small, angled hole for caulking application. Using smooth, steady motion apply a thin bead of caulking to the selected area. The angled tip should allow you to fit caulking into empty grooves easily. Once you’ve applied a thin bead of caulking, take your wet finger and gently smooth the caulk line. Careful not to apply too much pressure. Take a rag or damp paper towels and wipe away any access caulk. Once you’ve caulked all the areas, allow 24 hours for the product to completely set up and dry before using the bathroom.

There you have it! Now your bathroom fixtures are freshly sealed and protected for the next 5 years. Keep in mind, if you have mold issues or sheetrock needs replaced, a simple caulking job may not fix the problem. If your bathroom needs some more attention, fill out my free job cost estimate form to see how I may be able to help you. I have years of experience with home repair and would love the opportunity to work with you.