50 Home Updates for 2018

You keep saying you’re going to retile the bathroom, or switch out the cabinets in the kitchen, or paint the living room once and for all. You magically need to add a closet where there isn’t one; the bedroom lacks light. But even smaller adjustment—new blinds, an upgraded showerhead, a rug—can make a home much more reflective of its inhabitants. Well, now's the time. Call it a New Year’s resolution or a pledge for self-care, but put down the phone (after you read this, of course), head to the hardware store, and hop to it. Wallpaper a room that badly needs personality or hack an affordable marble floor—your home deserves a little more this year. Here are 50 of our favorite ways to be clever in 2018.

tiles-1501782_640.jpg

1. Hard-wire for less. The simplest light socket is also one of the most attractive, especially if you put one of these bulbs in it.

2. Or just clamp a light wherever you need it. With this spotlight that’s not just for photo sets anymore.

3. Build out a minibar on a bookshelf, your side table, tucked in a cabinet, and more.

4. Or skip the bar cart entirely and make space on a shelf (even mount one) for your favorite bottles.

5. Install marble floors. They might sound like a luxury, but if you search around, you might find enough scraps to hack one on the cheap-ish.

6. Beadboard creatively. This classic material lends all kinds of cottage vibes to interiors, but panel it in a new way and it will look as novel as can be.

7. Swap in minimal baseboards. Here are six modern ways to modernize crown molding and baseboards, from the ultra low-key to the stylish statement.

8. Cork your floors. Cork…as flooring? Yes, you should consider it as an affordable alternative to hardwood that’s comfy to walk on, absorbs sound, and more good things.

9. Hack an IKEA kitchen. This couple’s IKEA kitchen, done on the cheap, will teach you all the tricks to customize your own.

10. Redo the bathroom—but don't move the pipes. 
Here’s the biggest way to drastically reduce your bathroom renovation costs.

bathtub-2485957_640.jpg

11. Don't forget a shampoo nook while you're at it. This is the add-on that you should make sure to incorporate in any bathroom renovation—be gone, shower caddies!

12. Forage for supplies if you're building a hearth. No, really! When you’re looking to redo that statement fireplace, see if you've got stones on your property that will work.

13. Really, don't overcomplicate fireplace design. Give your fireplace a makeover by simplifying the one you've got (no mantels here).

14. Or just strip it down to the bricks and be done. If you’re already giving a room that has a fireplace a makeover, consider striking down the mantle, or the paint, or anything else covering up its rustic beauty. There’s a trick to making it pop, too.

15. Upgrade your medicine cabinet. Two ways: framed and flush with the wall.

16. Add ceiling beams. Yes, add. Grab a few two-by-fours, a drill, and some three-inch-long screws, and transform a boring ceiling.

17. Fix up the laundry room. If you’re lucky enough to have an at-home laundry (and laundry room!), here’s how to make it a room you actually look forward to being in—on a budget.

18. Try a funky wallpaper. Ombré isn’t just a trend for your hair. Try it on your walls!

19. Think twice about ripping out those copper pipes. This Brooklyn loft proves you can incorporate more raw materials into your space, or use the ones that seem like they’re in the way.

20. Add a walk-in to any room. Turn a wall, even in a studio apartment, into a walk-in closet wide enough for drawers, racks, and a vanity.

CONTINUE READING....

 

kitchen-2165756_640.jpg

Spring Cleaning Has Begun

With memories of snow and cold fading, it’s time to remind home owners to take stock of important work to be done for themselves and potential buyers down the road. Keeping on track with seasonal maintenance will lower costs and raise value.
APRIL 2013 | BY BARBARA BALLINGER

https://www.realestate.com/articles/

Besides cleaning closets and planting flowers and cool-weather vegetables, spring should involve scrutinizing the condition of a house following the rough winter. Repairs and replacements won’t just help owners enjoy their properties more; they’ll also keep energy costs down as hot weather rolls in and attract more buyers, many of whom have become meticulous about inspecting roofs, appliances, and HVAC bills.

While most home owners need to prioritize costs, these 10 improvements are at the top of many contractors’ lists. Some of them are even more affordable than ever before, thanks to rebates from local communities, utility companies, and the federal government.

1. Replace windows

If home owners’ houses felt drafty this past winter and they have single-pane windows, there’s a good chance those were one of the culprits. But replacing them all can be costly — $400 to $500 per window, plus $100 to $150 for installation, according to home improvement expert Tom Kraeutlerof The Money Pit. Whether that’s the place to spend dollars should depend on how long home owners plan to stay put or what houses listed in their neighborhood offer if they’re selling. “If they’re the last ones with old, rotting-wood windows, that negative may affect buyer attention,” Kraeutler says. This year’s “Cost vs. Value” report from Remodeling magazine pegs the payback for vinyl windows at 71.2 percent and for wood windows at a similar 73.3 percent. A less costly alternative can be to add storms, caulk, weather strip, or rim joists in a basement. Contractor Paul Eric Morse of Morse Constructions Inc. in Somerville, Mass., suggests gradually replacing windows in any room that owners remodel to make the cost less prohibitive.

2. Install a new heating system and change filters

If a seller’s furnace and boiler were on their last legs this past winter, it may be time to install a new one, or at least provide sellers with a credit toward new equipment.  Existing systems still in good condition should have filters checked monthly and replaced when dark and clogged, a DIY project. For great energy efficiency, Morse is installing more heat exchanges that provide both heat and air conditioning and can be less costly than a new central air system with new ducting and a new furnace.

CONTINUE READING...

We Need More Space

 image by: today.com

image by: today.com

Many people have a love/hate relationship with their unfinished basements.  Whether updating your basement has been looming on your to-do list, or has become a home for displaced things that you’re not totally ready to let go yet, Bright Star can help.  

Why a basement and not a home addition?

When deciding how to expand your home, resources like time, money, and space can truly make the decision easier for you.  If you’re lucky enough to have the space to expand with a home addition, it is a great option, however contractors have noted that finishing a basement could cost a homeowner only half or even one third of the price as an addition. 

An article by HGTV states that square footage in a basement is often valued at about half what the above ground cost is, meaning if the first floor is $200/sqft then a basement would estimate $100/sqft.  While the price per square foot may not be as much as the rest of the house, the ability to add another living space could greatly increase the value of your home.  Current homeowner trends include large, open layouts, making a basement finish a great way to add space and satiate those goals of wide, open spaces.  Some reports from Remodeling magazine boast up to a 70% payback when finishing a basement, truly giving you the best bang for your buck.  

 

There are some thing to consider up front:

Is it a wet basement?
Understanding the plumbing of your basement is important because you wouldn’t want to spend a few thousand dollars on some nice wool carpet, only to have a flood and have to replace it shortly thereafter.  Every basement is different and plumbing will depend on the year the house was built, but there are several options to waterproof and seal off your wet basement.  

What type of room should we add?
If you have children, a play area is always a great option to get all of the kids’ stuff in one place.  Some studies have shown that younger kids who still need parent stimulation will not utilize the basement as well as, say an older child or teen.  If your kids already have a space (or you don’t have kids) some other ways to utilize the basement are as a gym, workspace, extra bedroom, or extra living room.   Since basements are typically low light, keep that in mind while choosing and redecorating.  Unless you want a home theater, it will be important to optimize the light of the space if you plan to spend more time underground.  

http://www.today.com/home/how-clean-your-basement-I527468

If you do not have a need for an extra bedroom, etc. refinishing the basement as storage is also a great option.  It is still important to waterproof the basement, but remodeling the basement to a more attractive storage space or laundry room could still improve your home’s value.  Especially in smaller homes, creating organizational tools to maximize the use of the space, like cabinets, shelving, modular organizers, & hanging racks, can be incredibly attractive to a home buyer.

So whether you’re looking to expand your family or increase your property value, utilizing the space you already have in the basement will be one of the best options when it comes to money well spent.  Every basement is unique and Bright Star is happy to consult you for free to address your home needs!

Getting Outdoors

Last week was the Spring Equinox, meaning, our days are now growing longer and our nights are getting shorter.  The sun may not be warming up too much, yet, but it’s never to early to start planning how you’ll spend your time outdoors this summer!  

There are some great ways to fully optimize your outdoor space for entertaining your kids, your friends, or even just yourself.  Whether you would like to remodel an existing area or create a brand new one, here are some great additions to making some seasonal home improvements:

https://www.hgtv.com/remodel/outdoors/how-to-determine-your-deck-style

Build A Deck

One big way to add value to your home is to extend your outdoor space with a deck.  While most are constructed from wood, there are several options when choosing a material for your deck.  These can include aluminum, bamboo, composite, and others.  Decking materials come in many colors and textures and offer a wide variety to fit your personal design needs.  If you don’t see a color you like, we are happy to discuss paint and staining options with you!  If you already have a deck or a porch, it’s important to keep your loved ones safe with proper railings.  Test your railings from time to time, as they can structurally weaken and potentially become a hazard.

https://www.miraclemaintenance.com/services/pressure-washing/

Show Your Concrete Some Love

Maybe you do not have the space or the time to install a deck on your home.  There are a number of ways you can spruce up the concrete around your home to make it look cleaner and more welcoming.  The best way to clean a driveway or sidewalk is a good power washing.  The small stream makes work tedious, but we think it’s worth our time when we see the glowing after effects!  If cleaning isn’t your issue, we offer concrete repairs in your driveway or sidewalk, as well as, driveway seal coating.

https://talesoftheelders.com/2015/04/16/kids-say/

Add a Screen Door

If you’re lucky enough to live in a place with nice Summer evenings, a screen door is an excellent addition to any home.  This encourages airflow and circulation in the house, without permitting bugs and critters to enter!  If you have kids or even houseguests, a screen door allows for easier communication between the inside and outside of the house.  

http://www.newbridgelanding.org/windows-for-garage-doors_D21527/windows-for-garage-doors-i28-in-modern-home-design-wallpaper-with-windows-for-garage-doors/

Update the Garage

Have you been neglecting your garage as a place to throw things you don’t want to look at anymore?  There are many options when it comes to getting clean and organized.  Like your exterior concrete, the garage floor can be power washed or painted to give it a fresh new feel!  Cabinets and shelving are also a great way to optimize your storage space and reduce clutter.  Another common way to update the garage is to replace the door.  Older garage doors (automated or manual) can fall off of the tracks, the motor batteries can die, or the electricity can short out.  There are new and improved garage door systems that will make your entrance and exit much easier!

 

BRIGHT STAR HANDYMAN SERVICE IS HAPPY TO SCHEDULE A FREE CONSULTATION REGARDING ANY OF YOUR HOME REPAIR NEEDS.  
 

CONTACT US HERE 
FOR MORE INFORMATION
ON HOW WE CAN IMPROVE THE VALUE OF YOUR HOME!

5 Winter Home Improvement Projects You Should Never DIY

winter-home-improvement-projects-1024x727.jpg

Winter isn’t just a time for celebrating the holidays and spending more time in shopping malls than you ever dreamed possible. This time of the year is the perfect opportunity to catch up on those winter home improvement projects taking up space on your to-do list.

As with any home improvement project, especially those you do yourself, there’s always risk; not just in terms of expense and time spent, but the possibility you’ll do serious damage to the property. Said risk is even more pronounced when adding a DIY winter home improvement project to your schedule, when the weather is almost as brutal as those frozen pipes that need to be replaced.

Before you strap on the tool belt and head to Home Depot, here are five winter home improvement projects you should not DIY, and instead leave to the professionals.

Winter Home Improvement Projects Best Left to the Pros

CONTINUE READING...

winter-home-improvement-ideas.jpg

Insulating Your Home by Energy.gov

where_to_insulate.jpg

For optimal energy efficiency, your home should be properly insulated from the roof down to its foundation. The illustration above shows all the areas of the home where there should be insulation. The numbered areas shown in the illustration are as follows:

1. In unfinished attic spaces, insulate between and over the floor joists to seal off living spaces below. If the air distribution is in the attic space, then consider insulating the rafters to move the distribution into the conditioned space.

(1A) Attic access door

2. In finished attic rooms with or without dormer, insulate (2A) between the studs of "knee" walls, (2B) between the studs and rafters of exterior walls and roof, (2C) and ceilings with cold spaces above.

(2D) Extend insulation into joist space to reduce air flows.

3. All exterior walls, including (3A) walls between living spaces and unheated garages, shed roofs, or storage areas; (3B) foundation walls above ground level; (3C) foundation walls in heated basements, full wall either interior or exterior.

4. Floors above cold spaces, such as vented crawl spaces and unheated garages. Also insulate (4A) any portion of the floor in a room that is cantilevered beyond the exterior wall below; (4B) slab floors built directly on the ground; (4C) as an alternative to floor insulation, foundation walls of unvented crawl spaces. (4D) Extend insulation into joist space to reduce air flows.

5. Band joists.

6. Replacement or storm windows and caulk and seal around all windows and doors. 

In addition to insulation, consider moisture and air leakage control in each area of your house. If radon is an issue where you live, you’ll also need to consider radon and radon-resistant construction techniques as you research foundation insulation options. In addition, if you live in an area with termites, you’ll have to consider how termite protection will affect the choice and placement of insulation in your home.

 

KEEP READING...

The Effects of Weather

While we're still in the grips of Winter, it's important to stay ahead of weather-related home problems and the repairs they may need.  Living in a climate with high humidity, warm summers, and cold winters, our homes are subject to wear and tear that could cause serious damages in the future, if left unrepaired. 

Here are a few signs that weather might be affecting your home:

IJPR IMAGE

Doors & windows no longer open and close with ease.

There are a few reasons that your doors may not stay closed.  Some of the easier repairs include replacing the door's hinges, knobs, or sometimes even the door itself.  After years of opening & closing, the screws and hinges can be loose and the door can hang too low for the knob to latch properly to the doorframe.  If you've recently put in older or vintage door knobs, they are usually smaller than current doorknobs, which can also affect it's ability to latch closed.  Drastic weather changes can cause the house's walls and foundation to expand or shift, which causes a much bigger issue than changing a hinge.  A foundational shift can also cause many other serious issues.

 

Cracks show up in the walls and ceiling.

authenticadditions.com cracked-cornices-1-1024x576.jpg

Similar to the doors sticking, walls and ceilings can being to crack with the expansion and contraction of air during the changing weather.  These cracks can be unsightly as they run either across or down the walls.  Some people use the rule of thumb that "the crack points to the problem", so take notice where they might be showing up in your home!  It could just be old drywall but, if you don't plan to repair it, keep an eye on it and seek help if it continues to grow!

 

Your drywall and wood bubbles up.

Weather can affect the internal parts of your home by wearing on the outside, like roofs, walls, windows, and others.  With a roof leak, your attic will take a beating, affecting the insulation, drywall, wood interior, and anything else you might have up there.  The water can bubble up in the drywall, ceilings, wallpaper, and light fixtures.  It also will warp any sort of wood, whether doors, floors, cabinets, or trim.  Water damage is not something to be taken lightly, as it can lead to mold problems and is a potential health hazard.

why-is-my-air-conditioning-leaking.jpg

These are common problems for home owners (especially in older homes), with a wide range of reasons and repairs for them.  Bright Star HandyMan Service is happy to schedule a free consultation regarding any of your home repair needs.  
Contact us here for more information on how we can help you proof your home against these natural causes, or fix them for you!

Pet Damage?

As any pet owner would agree, there are inconveniences & necessary repairs that come with loving our fur children so much.  Their early years may be the cutest, but they can often be the most destructive, even on an prepared home.  New teeth can put moldings, cabinets, stairs, doors, door frames, window sills, and any other wood obstruction in danger of becoming the next favorite chew toy.  While there are plenty of preventative options to persuade pets to not chew, like bitter flavored deterrent spray, our pets love to surprise us with their creativity!  

baseboard bright star

Aside from the chewing stage(s), pet nails are also an enemy to your drywall, cabinets, doors, and flooring.  Whether your cat chose a door as its clawing post, or the dogs chase the kids through the house, Bright Star can help with both!  Flooring is the most commonly repaired or replaced item in homes with pets, whether carpet, linoleum, vinyl, wood, or tile floors.  Carpet stains quickly and is harder to keep clean, while the rest of the material options can be scratched.  Some of your flooring options are better than others with pets, but repetitious movement over a long period of time will begin to scuff the floors, no matter the material. 

Did you know that we also install pet doors?  We're happy to discuss some options with you to ease the bathroom scheduling with your pet!

Whether you're looking to spruce up your home with some painting, Spring cleaning, or looking to sell, we're here to help!

Bright Star Handyman Service is happy to offer you a Free Pet Damage estimate to begin restoring the house back to unchewed corners & beautiful floors.

TurboDoor.JPG

Top 10 Things That Devalue Your House

A lot of things factor into how much your home is worth, such as the location, the square footage, the school district and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Although several of those parameters aren't easily changed, some are under a homeowner's control.

dilapidated-983952_1280.jpg

As an astute homeowner, your job is to consider both what you can do to improve your home's value, as well as what you may (inadvertently or otherwise) be doing to decrease it. Completing renovations and repairsmight pay off to varying extents. In other cases, you may just have to put up with some of the things you don't love about your home, but letting a house slip into disrepair is a surefire way to decrease its value. Whatever path you choose, it's crucial to be aware of how you're affecting your home's bottom line and to understand what can be done to raise it back up.

One of the main things to remember while trying to boost your house's value is that people have a wide variety of tastes. Those tastes may vary greatly both geographically and demographically. A house with the flexibility to suit a big slice of the population pie will be more in demand than one highly customized to any one particular lifestyle. The more people who find a house attractive when it hits the market, the better off you'll be.

On the following pages, we'll examine some of the top causes of home devaluation and see what, if anything, homeowners can do about them.

CONTINUE READING...

12 DIY Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Spring

Maintaining a healthy home goes beyond dusting and vacuuming. When is the last time you checked your smoke alarms? How about the last time you cleaned out your dryer vent? Follow the tips below to make sure your family and home are ready for a happy, clean spring season.

Clean Gutters
 

1456864003398.jpg

Grab a ladder, and check your gutters for debris. Remove as much as you can with your hands (Don't forget to wear gloves!). Remove any leftover gunk with a garden hose. Take off any nozzle and have a helper turn on the water when you’re ready. Shove the hose into the downspout to power out of gooseneck bends. Make sure your downspouts channel water at least five feet from foundation walls. 

Scrub Walls, Baseboards and Outlets

1400978857943.jpg

Scrub all the walls — in the bathroom, kitchen, bedrooms and living areas — with a sponge or brush and mild soap and water. This includes baseboards and outlets. Make sure to completely dry outlet covers before replacing.

CONTINUE READING....

Is Your Home Older Than Its Years?

Would you throw away $20,000? You are if you’re letting your home age faster than it should. Here’s a simple maintenance strategy to keep your home young.

Image: Tina L. Ho

You know how Dr. Oz says that if you keep your body fit and your mind nimble, you’re likely younger than your chronological years? The same principle applies to your house.

An out-of-shape house is older than its years and could lose 10% of its appraised value, says Mack Strickland, an appraiser and real estate agent in Chester, Va. That’s a $15,000 to $20,000 adjustment for the average home.  But good maintenance can even add value. A study out of the University of Connecticut and Syracuse University finds that regular maintenance increases the value of a home by about 1% each year.  So if you’ve been deferring maintenance, or just need a good strategy to stay on top of it, here’s the simplest way to keep your home in good health.

A poorly maintained house can lose up to 20k in value.

Focus on Your Home’s #1 Enemy

If you focus on nothing else, focus on moisture — your home’s No. 1 enemy.  Water can destroy the integrity of your foundation, roof, walls, and floors — your home’s entire structure. So a leaky gutter isn’t just annoying; it’s compromising your foundation.  Keeping moisture at bay will improve your home’s effective age — or as Dr. Oz would say, “real age” — and protect its value. It’ll also help you prioritize what you need to do. Here’s how:

READ MORE...

Which Home Improvements Pay Off?

Basic maintenance, such as the roof and exterior painting, are frequently more important than an awesome kitchen.

In the first year my husband and I lived in our house, we spent almost $20,000 on home improvements. When we set that money aside at the beginning of the year, we dreamed about granite counters and steam showers; what we ended up with was a new furnace, new gutters, a drainage system to keep the basement dry, new landscaping and lots of new paint. At the end of that year as I wiped down my tacky Formica countertops and bathed in my 1950s seafoam green tub, I wondered if we had spent that money wisely. If we had put our house up for sale, would potential buyers have really cared about the dry basement and reliable furnace?

After talking to a slew of realtors, contractors and architects, the consensus was yes. "If the roof is leaking, buyers won't get beyond that," says Ron Phipps with Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I. "I don't care how awesome the kitchen is."

According to Remodeling Magazine (http://www.remodeling.hw.net/) you're less likely to recoup your investment in a major kitchen or bathroom remodel than you are to get back what you spend on basic home maintenance such as new siding. Siding replacement recouped 92.8 percent of its cost, according to the study. The only home improvement likely to return more at resale was a minor (roughly $15,000) kitchen remodel, which returned 92.9 percent. Replacing roofs and windows were also high on the list, returning 80 percent or more at resale.

Read More

Prepare Your Home For the Holidays with These Five Tips

As much as the holidays bring friends and family together, a cheerful time of can often turn stressful when planning for the holidays. Consider these easy DIY tips so your home is ready for the winter holidays. 

1. Refresh Your Guest Bedroom

There's no better way to start fresh than new bedding. Quick updates, even a new throw pillow, can quickly transform a space and make it perfect for your guests. 

2. Reimagine Your Entryway

A new rug, paint or decorations can quickly transform your entryway space, making it the perfect first impression for your guests.  

3. Decorate Your Bathrooms

Consider updating your bathroom faucet or adding some holiday-themed decor to the bathroom space. Small fixtures and hardware are easy to switch out and give a fresh new look to your home.

4. Prepare Meals & Freeze Them For Later

There's nothing wrong with cooking ahead of the holidays so that you have some extra family and friend time when the winter holidays come around. Consider cooking sides so that you have less to do when hosting guests. 

Save some time this holiday season with Bright Star Handyman. When it comes to bigger updates around the house, we are here to help. Bright Star Handyman will do everything from painting and refinishing cabinets to woodwork, carpentry and installing new backsplash. Bright Star has the expertise to get the job done quickly and efficiently so that you have more family time! Happy holidays! 

Thank you, Philadelphia & South Jersey!

From all of us at Bright Star Handyman Service, thank you for your continued business! We are proud to service the Philadelphia and South Jersey regions with everything from paint to carpentry. Wishing all of our clients a very happy Thanksgiving. 

Bathroom heating options

If you live in a home that has a hard time heating certain rooms in your house, you are not alone. In fact, this is quite a common problem especially if you live in a large home with only one furnace, or you live in an old historical home that does not offer the modern heating systems often found in newer homes. There are many ways to heat your home and a bathroom is one of the easiest rooms to warm up. This article will provide some heating options to consider for your chilly bathroom.

Things to consider when choosing your bathroom heating option

When choosing which type of bathroom heater to install you have to consider the size and shape of your bathroom. While there are many options which are ideal when space is at a premium, not all bathroom heaters are suitable for use in smaller spaces without causing inconvenience. If you have a large bathroom you should consider how effective the heater will be across the entire space. For smaller bathrooms  you should look the option which takes up the least space.

You also need to consider the usage of the bathroom. For instance, a busy family bathroom, which is used daily, will require a more permanent heating solution than that of a guest bathroom in a second home, for example. If you have young children you need to judge how safe the heating solution will be when curious young ones are around. If you’re remodeling a bathroom or building a new one, style is also an important factor, so choosing a heater which matches the interior style is vital.

Read More

Before & After Cornice & Windows!

Before and after of the cornice and windows. Bright Star Handyman scraped all the loose paint off the cornice and painted it using Benjamin Moore HC-169. For the windows, Bright Star removed the existing capping that was old and outdating then sealed any gaps to help with the homes energy efficiency. Only after everything was properly sealed did we install the new aluminum capping!

Bright Star Handyman services the entire Philadelphia area. Give us a call today! 

 Before & After!

Before & After!

Kitchen Decor Trends For Fall 2017

Kitchen Decor Trends For Fall 2017

Kitchen remodeling trends. Bright Star Handyman Service. Philadelphia's first choice for your handyman needs.