How to add value with summer home improvements

With the warmer weather here, homeowners are eager to spring into action and get started on home improvement projects.

MGN Online

With the warmer weather here, homeowners are eager to spring into action and get started on home improvement projects.

But the key is tackling projects that will increase your home's value.

And there are three home improvement blunders you should avoid.

Shortly after moving in to her new home, Heidi Birkey discovered a plumbing problem that cost her more than $500 to fix.

"The plumbing under the sink is really old and it was all metal plumbing so when he took it apart it fell apart in his hands,” Birkey explained. “He snaked it and even changed the vent boot up on the roof and still we couldn't get any clog to come out. I had the plumbers to come out three different times and finally they had to replace the plumbing in kitchen. That was a big expense i wasn't expecting."

There are countless home improvement projects you can invest in, but don't go into project-planning overdrive.

You need to be selective because every project won't add value to your home.

Real estate agent Nancy Burk says when you do choose a project, it's important to follow through.

"There are a lot of times we'll meet with a potential seller and they'll say 'oh and we just finished doing our kitchen floor, we've installed a new bathroom floor,’ or ‘we've put in a new shower enclosure.’ And my husband and I, who work together, hold on breath because typically the homeowner may start a project with great enthusiasm and fails to finish out the project," Burk said.

If you want to add value with your home improvement projects, there are three common mistakes you should avoid.

"Be sure that you balance your needs and your wants,” Angie Hicks, Angie’s List founder, said. “Maybe you want a new deck, but you need a new furnace and only have money for one. Be sure you invest in those needs first because it will be a better return on your money.”

You also want to avoid over-investing in your home.

“Remember kitchen and bathrooms are the best things to invest in because they get the best return on investment, usually around 85 percent,” Angie adds. “But don't overinvest here. The goal is to keep up with the jones, but don't be the leader in your neighborhood. If your neighbors all have two bathrooms, don't put three in your house."

Another big mistake homeowners make? Not taking enough time to do your research. A project installed poorly won't add value to your home.

"Painting is a really common thing that it takes a good steady hand to make a good steady line,” Burk said. “especially where you are cutting into your ceiling so be very cautious when you say you can do this yourself. You may need a professional."

If yours is the only house on the block without a pool, adding one is not a good idea.

In most cases, you won't get back even half of the money you spent when it's time to sell the house.

And typically home offices and sunrooms aren't a good idea either.

A buyer may want that space for something else - like a bedroom or playroom.

The return on the investment for these projects is about 60 percent or less.

And we have a lot more helpful information on our website, just click on this story.

Most people depend on their kitchen appliances. We rely on our dishwasher to work and get our dishes clean, but as soon as the appliance stops working, panic sets in.

Angie's List, the nation's leading provider of consumer reviews, consulted with highly rated appliance repair pros who say regular, routine maintenance and care can help deliver spotless dishes and prolong the life of your kitchen appliance and prevent untimely repairs.

It's important to check and clean your dishwasher every few months to make sure it can do its job as effectively as possible.
• Hard water is hard on your dishwasher: More than 85 percent of homes have hard water and hard water is hard on your dishwasher. Regularly clean the inside of your dishwasher so it will clean your dishes and work well for a long time.
• Remove and inspect the spray arms. To locate the spray arms, consult your owner's manual. Make sure that the holes are free of any food particles and buildup from soap. Tip: Carefully use a nail, paperclip or similar "tool" to clean the holes.
• Don't overload your dishwasher: Arrange items so that nothing is touching and everything has a clear path to the sprayer arm.
• Clean the filter basket. This should be located at the bottom of your dishwasher. You'll be amazed at how much stuff is in there (especially the first time you clean it)! Check your owner's manual for how to open the filter basket.
• Clean the interior of your dishwasher. Pour one cup of distilled white vinegar in the bottom of the dishwasher and run a complete cycle on the hottest temperature setting. This will get rid of the mineral deposits and scaling that dishwasher detergent can't remove.
• Inspect the rubber gasket that waterproofs the dishwasher. Check your owner's manual to help you locate this part. Make sure the rubber is not cracked or broken. A worn gasket can lead to water leaks!
• Check the dishwasher hoses. Locate your dishwasher hoses to inspect the connections from the dishwasher to the water line and the drain line. Make sure that the hoses look to be in good condition and that the connections look nice and tight.

• Rinsing still reigns: Many appliance repair companies we talked to lean more on the side of rinsing first. They say the more food particles and sauces removed from the dishes, the better chance you'll avoid a future repair . Too much food can clog the pump assembly, drain lines or spray arms - which can cause bacteria to breed. A buildup in the pump assembly can prevent the dishes from getting properly cleaned.

• Powder dishwasher detergent or gel? If you have hard water, consider using powder detergent. The tablets and packets can be too much soap. When using the powder, use as little as possible. If you have a water softener, try the tablets or packets. If you are unsure what is best for your dishwasher, consult with an appliance repair person.

Repair or Replace?
Dishwashers can last up to 13 years. Generally, if a repair will cost more than half the cost of the new appliance and the unit is more than six or seven years old, it might be time to buy new. The average price of a service call ranges from $60-100. That doesn't include the cost of parts and labor if additional work is required, but many companies will deduct their call charge

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