During the hot summer and cold winter months many struggle to balance comfort with the need for lower energy bills. This often translates into a Goldilocks situation: too hot or too cold. If it's just right, you'll pay for that comfort with high bills. And temperature isn't the only thing that can affect your indoor comfort. Water damage, old carpeting and wasted space can play a big part in how you and your family enjoy your home.
The good news is that with regular maintenance and a few modern updates, you can make your family more comfortable with the added bonus of increasing your property value. Here are five areas you should consider when looking for ways to balance your comfort, your budget and your desire to increase property value.
1. Increase HVAC Efficiency
The efficiency of your heating and cooling systems relies very much on the regular maintenance of your home. As much as 40 percent of your home's heated or cooled air escapes through leaks in the ductwork. Air leaks around doors and windows are also problematic. The size of your home, how old it is and how many leaks you have will affect how much money you could save on your utility bill by resolving the most common air leaks. However, adding caulking or weather stripping to your home costs around $20-$30 and takes very little time.
The bigger savings comes from improving your insulation, particularly in your attic. For sealing air leaks, the Department of Energy rates the attic as the best place to start for energy savings. Heated air rises, which can make your second floor and attic particularly stuffy in the summer months. Knowing the recommended insulation values for your region will help you add just the right amount insulation for your home. You can add insulation on your own, but you may choose to hire an expert. The best part is that you can expect to recoup about 116 percent of what you pay in a higher property value.
2. Install Smart Technology
You already know what your smartphone does for you while you are away from home. Now it can also do a great deal for your home. From HVAC and lighting to home security, many of your home's systems can be set up to work with your computer or smartphone over your home's Wi-Fi system. Smart home technology can track your preferences for heating and cooling and create HVAC settings that reflect the way your family functions in the home, without you adjusting them manually in the morning before you leave or on arriving home from work or before going to bed. About a third of homebuyers are expecting any modernized home to have these upgrades as basic requirements.
The one thing worth noting about smart home technology to increase property value is that technology becomes obsolete very quickly. If you plan to upgrade with smart technology and you do not plan to sell your home within the next 3-5 years, you may not recoup as much as you would when the system is new.
3. Identify and Fix Moisture Damage
Moisture damage in your home is a big topic that covers everything from burst pipes to mold growth. The biggest problem with moisture damage is that it can be insidious and hide behind walls, flooring and ceilings for decades with no obvious signs of the damage it is creating. Water damage from a burst pipe or leaking water heater is easy to identify. However, you need to move quickly to prevent long-term damage to your home. Fixing basic water damage costs between $1,000-$3,500 on average, depending on the severity of the problem. Installing new drywall and buying new furniture could turn a minor accident into tens of thousands of dollars in repairs.
The real threat to your family and your property value, however, is mold. Anywhere there is a lot of moisture, you will likely find mold. The Centers for Disease Control notes that mold in your home contributes to a number of health risks, including respiratory infections, increased asthma attacks in sufferers and even pneumonia. The presence of mold, especially for particularly bad infestations, can turn your property resale dreams into a nightmare. Experts estimate that a positive test for mold on properties for sale can drop the price by as much as a quarter or more. For a $200,000 home, that is a loss of $50,000. The best thing is to quickly address and repair any moisture damage. Before you plan to sell, get a mold test to see if you have any unseen problems in your house. This is not something you want to uncover during a buyer’s home inspection.
4. Improve Your Flooring
The verdict is in, and carpet is not the winner. Homebuyers expect hardwood floors pretty much these days with a few exceptions. They might prefer carpeting in bedrooms or on a second floor for the padding and the noise reduction. However, in general, homebuyers may pass right by your home in favor of the neighbor’s with their luscious reclaimed zebrawood flooring. A study from USA Today revealed that over half of homebuyers are willing to pay an extra $2,000 or more for hardwood flooring over wall-to-wall carpeting.
The biggest reason people want hardwood flooring is because it is healthier for those with allergies, and it is much easier to clean than carpeting. Engineered hardwood is almost equal in improving your resale value and can be significantly cheaper than solid planks, with a similar appearance and use value. Check under your existing carpeting before you make any plans, especially if you have an older home. If there is hardwood under the carpet, you might be able to increase property value for a few hundred bucks, simply by pulling up the carpet, sanding and staining the wood underneath.
5. Modernize the Space
People who own an older home may have a big obstacle that makes it harder to compete with new construction: current design trends. There was a time when everybody wanted a separate dining room, kitchen and living room. These days the great room reigns supreme. No one wants to be isolated in the kitchen by walls that prevent them from interacting with guests and family. The best way to solve this problem is to open up the space.
Knocking down walls and simplifying the way a room looks takes some careful design and planning from an expert. If you want to knock down a wall or a half-wall to create more space in your kitchen, you want to ensure that you provide the additional support the wall used to offer. Should you consider a kitchen remodel, this might be a great addition to the overall plan. Removing excess walls or cabinets may give you the room you need to add a kitchen island, and you can recoup up 83 percent of what you pay.
Get Comfort and Value
Being comfortable in your home and increasing the value of your property should always go hand-in-hand. Regular maintenance and inspections can stop major problems that cost major money from occurring, and by modernizing your home with smart technology and current designs, you'll create a comfortable home for your family that will also attract potential buyers in the future.