Cozy Outdoor Living Spaces Top The List Of Recent Landscaping Trends

outdoor landscaping ideas 2018

Rikki Snyder/Houzz

One of the great joys of owning a home is having the space to entertain. That’s why many home shoppers pine over houses with a great backyard, picturing themselves putting in a dining table, a barbecue, and maybe some raised flower beds.

But why stop there? Recent trends show that to many homeowners, “outdoor living” means more than just setting up a GrillMaster; the ideal outdoor space now looks like an extension of your interior. In fact, a new report from Houzz found that 88% of homeowners taking on landscaping projects upgrade outdoor living elements such as furniture and heating features that make spending time outside more comfortable. In February and March, the home remodeling and design website surveyed more than 750 U.S. homeowners using Houzz who are planning, are in the midst of, or recently completed a landscaping project.

“We’ve continued to see homeowners put greater priority on developing a personalized outdoor living environment,” says Matthew Breyer, president and lead designer for Breyer Construction & Landscape. “No longer are we simply ‘building boxes,’ but rather, we’re working as designers to help flesh out how our clients anticipate living in these spaces, and where their priorities are.”

Landscape architect Drew Langston agrees that homeowners are focused on outdoor living. In the past two years, Langston has quadrupled the amount of “landscape master plans” he’s working on at any given time. These include pools, patios, walls, fire pits, and extensive landscaping—and his business is based in chilly Buffalo, NY!

Even in the Northeast, where warm weather isn’t as consistent as in other parts of the country, he says people are still jumping at the chance to improve their backyards.


Photo by Simmons Estate Homes

Trending features for the ultimate outdoor living area

Homeowners looking to spend more time living and entertaining in their backyards are actually outfitting them with decor pieces we’re used to seeing inside. For 43% of respondents, that means lounge furniture, while 34% bring in dining furniture. Other hot outdoor furnishings include string lights, at 35%; benches, at 27%; ceiling fans, at 15%; and rugs, at 14%—all of which make the space look like a cohesive room.

Heating sources such as fire pits are also popular, with nearly 40% of respondents saying they installed, or are thinking of installing, one. Outdoor heating overall is valuable as it can extend the season for outdoor entertaining.

Of course, tricking out your backyard in 2018 also means bringing in some shiny new devices such as TVs, chosen by 59% of respondents; wireless speakers, at 42%; and wired charging hubs, at 11%. Breyer also mentions that accessories such as fans and LED lighting have taken priority among clients.

“We have been working with a number of customers that have amazing lighting, full outdoor sound systems, and other outdoor amenities, all that work in conjunction with the indoor sound systems,” says Patrick Harders, a contractor in Northern Virginia specializing in outdoor lighting. “These allow people to entertain as if they are in their own private resort.”

Speaking of privacy, it’s also one of the biggest requests from homeowners undergoing a landscaping project.

“Due to the increase in time spent entertaining outdoors, people are realizing just how close the neighbors are. We do more construction with mini pergolas, decorative feature walls, outdoor blinds, and tiered landscaping to address these concerns,” says Breyer. Privacy fences and noise-canceling barriers are also popular choices for folks who don’t want to end the party at 10 p.m.

How much are people spending?

Outdoor renovations can be expensive, but it’s a cost that a majority of homeowners are willing to pay. According to the survey, 56% of homeowners spent more than $10,000 on their outdoor renovations. Almost a third, 32%, reportedly spent less than $5,000.

“In my experience, the average landscape (planting and beds only) is about $3,500 to $5,000, and the average project involving hardscaping (walls, patios, fire pits) as well is about $15,000,” Langston says. “This being said, we execute several jobs a year between $25,000 and $50,000, and usually one to three jobs a year that can be between $80,000 and $100,000. I truly believe an enjoyable landscape is achievable at any budget.”


Photo by MTLA- Mark Tessier Landscape Architecture

Why homeowners are shifting their focus outdoors

The biggest reason for starting a landscaping project is to improve elements of the outdoor space that have deteriorated. But once those updates are made, 67% of homeowners said they spend more time outside once they completed a landscaping project, with 62% of those spending their time relaxing and 44% gardening. So when it comes down to it, people just want to have an outdoor place to unwind that’s as comfortable, accommodating, and private as their living or dining room, no matter if they live in Boca Raton, FL, or Buffalo.

“In Western New York we only have a few months of great weather that we can actually be outside,” says Langston. “People want to spend more money to create an amazing space outdoors so they can enjoy the nice weather as much as possible.”

Original Source

Realtor/Broker NC-SC
Coldwell Banker Sloane Realty
16 Causeway Drive
Ocean Isle Beach, NC 28469
Direct: 910.443.0398
Toll-Free: 800.237.4609 X206
Fax: 910.579.5877

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Smart Devices: How Home Automation Is Taking Over The Remodeling Industry

Smart Devices & Home Automation 2018

From smartphones to smart TVs, everyday devices are becoming more and more sophisticated and autonomous. The devices being integrated into our homes allow the house to respond automatically to the environment, preset schedules and even spoken commands. Today, systems like Amazon Echo and Google Home provide a central base for automating almost any conceivable aspect of a home, all controllable by phone, computer or voice.

What Can Be Automated?

Most home automation projects begin with heating and lighting, which offer clear benefits in energy savings and convenience. Rather than relying purely on preset timings to control your heating or air conditioning, intelligent automation allows more flexibility. For example, you can keep your heating on a minimum setting during the day to reduce energy bills, but turn up the heat from your smartphone as you head home from work.

Take the concept further and you have intelligent window treatments. Shades or drapes can be set to automatically lower, creating shade from direct sun and reducing the need for air conditioning. This can be managed either on a schedule or by intelligent response to light levels. Alternatively, window shades can be set to operate automatically at sundown, providing increased privacy even when the blinds are in difficult-to-reach locations.

Combining automated motorized shades with smart lighting can improve home security by giving the impression the property is occupied. This can be done either to a set schedule, or in response to external factors such as movement outside the home, changes in day length or changes in ambient lighting. Add automatic locking of code-operated doors and windows, controllable cameras, intelligent smoke alarms and reactive alarm systems, and the security of a home can be controlled and monitored remotely with ease.

In the kitchen, automation offers a combination of energy savings and convenience. You can start up your slow cooker while at work to have a hot meal ready the moment you return. Appliances from dishwashers to freezers can coordinate their operation to minimize their combined energy consumption, making the best use of home-generated energy from solar or other sources. The long-predicted smart fridge, which keeps track of its own contents and simplifies grocery shopping, is now also a reality.

The Future of Intelligent Home Automation

As useful as current automation technology is, it’s set to go much further in the near future. Already, controllers such as Echo and Home can automate devices from many different manufacturers, but there are still several competing protocols making cross functionality difficult. As the technology matures, communication methods are becoming more standardized, and the “internet of things” means that everything from your TV to your refrigerator will be connected into a single, adaptable, intelligent system.

Original Source

Realtor/Broker NC-SC
Coldwell Banker Sloane Realty
16 Causeway Drive
Ocean Isle Beach, NC 28469
Direct: 910.443.0398
Toll-Free: 800.237.4609 X206
Fax: 910.579.5877

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Remodeling 101: 4 Rock-Solid Reasons To Remodel Your Home In 2018

remodeling in 2018

As 2018 begins, there’s no question the real estate market is, well, a little crazy. Home values are surging, money is relatively cheap, and inventory is tighter than tight.

That’s all downright welcome news for owners who’ve been considering remodeling.

“Remodeling remains a very attractive option to increase your home’s value,” says Javier Vivas, director of economic research for®. And that can be a smart move whether you’re prepping your place for sale, or giving it a refresh for the long haul.

“The big variable here is location,” says Vivas. “If you’re happy with your neighborhood and your place has some value, there’s an advantage over trying to move—because there may not be somewhere else for you to move to in your price range, or you may have to make a bigger cost jump than you would if you were simply remodeling.”

Still wondering whether to grab a sledgehammer and get swinging? Here’s the thing: The longer you wait, the more expensive renovating or remodeling gets. If you’ve been on the fence, this may be the year to get off it. Better yet, rebuild it! Here’s why you should get moving now.

1. You (likely) have more cash
Consumer confidence is high, unemployment is low, and incomes are growing—which means you likely have more money in your pocket. Plus, if you’re a homeowner, chances are good that your home equity has increased along with skyrocketing home prices over the past few years.

So when it comes to spending cash on all those get-to-it-later home projects, you’re probably in good standing.

In fact, the remodeling market is expected to grow 7% this year, saysRobert Dietz, chief economist with the National Association of Home Builders.

“This market should be sustained by the fact that homeowners are remaining in their homes longer,” Dietz says.

2. Interest rates for building loans are low
Interest rates for home equity lines of credit—which offer a flexible way of obtaining funds to pay for things such as home improvements—are still historically low. And even though interest paid on HELOCs is no longer deductible under the new tax reform legislation, experts say the building loans remain a good deal.

“Interest rates are still quite friendly but will likely go up this year—and lenders are competing for loan business,” says Tom Miller, president of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, who also owns a remodeling company in the Pacific Northwest.

Simply put: Take advantage of those low rates now before more increases hit.

3. It could be cheaper than buying a new home
If you live in a high-cost metro area and already have a foothold in the real estate market, remodeling your existing place could be cheaper than buying a new one. Maybe a lot cheaper (unless, of course, you were planning on downsizing).

There are a lot of factors to consider, however: How much equity you have in your place, what your current mortgage rate is, and whether major renovations are even feasible. But experts agree that, in many cases, the current seller’s market makes renovating a more palatable option than buying.

“We think remodeling will be a major trend in 2018, because we’ve seen prices grow so much that a lot of potential buyers are being priced out of their own markets,” Vivas says. “And that’s where you see a turn toward giving up on trading up and buying again and considering other options like renovating.”

This is especially true in expensive markets such as New York and California. Plus, these high-cost areas are expected to feel the heaviest burden of the tax reform provisions that limit mortgage interest deductions and eliminate the deduction for state and local property taxes.

“Some of the tax benefits linked with purchasing will be sidelined or diluted,” Dietz says.

4. Costs will go up the longer you wait
The construction industry is facing a major shortage of skilled laborers and rising materials costs, and there’s little indication this trend will reverse anytime in the future. This higher demand translates into higher pay scales for available, qualified workers—and those costs ultimately get passed along to you, the consumer. The situation is expected to get worse over time.

“Labor costs will continue to escalate as remodelers pay up to get and keep construction trades on the jobs,” says Fred Ulreich, chief executive officer of the NARI.

Furthermore, the multibillion-dollar cleanups of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma drove materials prices even higher—and the effects are expected to last into 2018. The NARI predicts materials costs will rise about 5% this year, especially for supplies such as lumber, drywall, and concrete.

What’s more? Labor shortages will not be resolved overnight, Miller says. For the would-be remodeler, that means your costs will likely go up the longer you wait.

“There are no signs that remodeling demand or costs will taper off over the next several years, but will continue to rise,” Miller says. “Holding off on a project—if you can find a reputable remodeler available now— will only cost you more next year.”

Original Source

Realtor/Broker NC-SC
Coldwell Banker Sloane Realty
16 Causeway Drive
Ocean Isle Beach, NC 28469
Direct: 910.443.0398
Toll-Free: 800.237.4609 X206
Fax: 910.579.5877

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Renovating Your Home: Contractors Reveal 5 Dumb Things People Say

Renovating Your Home

Renovating a home can be a daunting endeavor, but it’s often made that much worse when you throw in a homeowner whose head isn’t screwed on straight. 

Certainly, contractors don’t expect you to know everything, but they do expect you to show some respect around power tools, electrical hazards, load-bearing walls, and—perhaps most importantly—the professional you hired to do the heavy lifting.

So, lest you’re tempted to say something silly or offensive to your helpful handyman, here are a few ignorant questions and comments they’ve heard on the job that you should never, ever repeat. Let these lines serve as little reminders that home improvement isn’t as easy as it looks!

1. “We don’t need this wall”

Christine Ducato of Illinois-based Reliable Home Improvement heard this bold comment from homeowners eager to open their floor plan. But Ducato informed them that they did indeed need that wall. Desperately.

“Many walls are major support structures to the foundation of the home,” Ducato notes. “While open space is nice, sometimes knocking down a wall is simply not feasible.”

Here are just a few things that can go wrong when you knock down a wall.

2. “Can you do that quietly?”

All that banging, sawing, pounding, and hammering! Do homeowners think contractors make a ruckus just for the fun of it? At least one homeowner asked Ducato to turn down the volume, so she had to break the bad news: “Renovating is not a quiet job.”

However, “home remodelers will do their best to respect a homeowner’s need for quiet hours,” Ducato adds. So if there are certain windows when you need silence—like during a conference call from home or baby’s nap time—feel free to tell your contractor.

But overall, Ducato says, “be prepared for a reasonable amount of noise during the project.”

3. “All paint is the same”

While homeowners often obsess over colors to paint their walls, they often ignore the importance of the type of paint they use—which horrifies home improvement experts who know there are huge differences.

Hamna Amjad, a home improvement specialist at, once heard clients say they wanted to use indoor paint on their home’s exterior.

But there’s a problem with that, Amjad says. “Ordinary indoor paint weathers quickly, and you would end up needing to paint more often, consequently spending more money.”

The indoor versus outdoor paint question isn’t the only mistake people make. Another has to do with cost: While it’s tempting to pick a cheaper paint, it typically won’t wear as well, which means you’ll have to repaint that much sooner.

4. “A propane fire isn’t a real fire, right?”

Collin Champagne, a contractor at, heard this odd comment from a customer who clearly didn’t understand the element of fire.

“A customer called in looking to switch her fireplace log set from natural gas to propane,” Champagne explains. “Her reasoning was because her many cats were constantly crawling into the fireplace, burning their coats and injuring themselves. She had somehow convinced herself that propane gas did not create real flames and that this was the solution to her problem. She was advised otherwise.”

5. “We’re going to save a little money and do it ourselves”

Many optimistic homeowners try to save a buck by doing some of the major renovating work on their own. This worries contractors—not because they lose out on extra cash, but because odds are high that these DIYers will significantly bungle the job—then beg a professional to clean up the mess.

“A great deal of renovations are best left to the professionals to ensure it is done correctly and follows building codes,” Ducato notes. “While it’s great to tackle DIY remodeling projects, it is best to let the experts handle the larger projects that could have major setbacks if done incorrectly. For example, it’s best to let the experts assess whether a major structural support can be removed before knocking down a wall, or to advise on whether a plumbing or electrical project is possible before cutting cords and pipes.”

Even seemingly simple tasks such as tiling or molding are deceptively difficult, so be sure to ask a contractor for his honest opinion about whether a novice can pull off certain projects. If not, it might be better left to the pros.

Original Source

Realtor/Broker NC-SC
Coldwell Banker Sloane Realty
16 Causeway Drive
Ocean Isle Beach, NC 28469
Direct: 910.443.0398
Toll-Free: 800.237.4609 X206
Fax: 910.579.5877

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Which 2017 Remodeling Projects Offer the Highest Return on Investment?

Home Improvements

With the many different projects reported annually in Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report, not much has changed from last year…and that’s not a bad thing. The 29 projects found on this year’s report paid back an average of 64.3 cents on the dollar in resale value. Looking at the 24 most tracked projects (projects consistently tracked for the last six years), their payback for 2017 was also 64.3 cents—only three-quarters of a penny higher than 2016 projections.

Why the little change? Simply put: the differences in underlying numbers were minimal year-to-year. The average cost for those 24 projects rose a meager 3 percent, while the value that real estate professionals put on said projects only rose 4.2 percent. Minor gains, yes, but we’ll take what we can get.

Recent and long-time trends continued, reports Remodeling. Curb appeal projects like changes to doors, windows and siding garnered a higher ROI than work done inside the home. Replacement projects, like doors or windows, scored higher among real estate pros than did remodels.

On a national scale, the top five projects with the greatest ROI in the report’s “midrange” cost category are:

Attic Insulation (Fiberglass)(107.7% ROI)
Average Cost: $1,343
Average Resale Value: $1,446

Entry Door Replacement (Steel)(90.7% ROI)
Average Cost: $1,413
Average Resale Value: $1,282

Manufactured Stone Veneer(89.4% ROI)
Average Cost: $7,851
Average Resale Value: $7,019

Minor Kitchen Remodel(80.2% ROI)
Average Cost: $20,830
Average Resale Value: $16,699

Garage Door Replacement(76.9% ROI)
Average Cost: $1,749
Average Resale Value: $1,345

The top five projects with the greatest ROI in the report’s “upscale” cost category are:

Garage Door Replacement(85.0% ROI)
Average Cost: $3,304
Average Resale Value: $2,810

Entry Door Replacement (Fiberglass)(77.8% ROI)
Average Cost: $3,276
Average Resale Value: $2,550

Window Replacement (Vinyl)(73.9% ROI)
Average Cost: $15,282
Average Resale Value: $11,286

Window Replacement (Wood)(73.0% ROI)
Average Cost: $18,759
Average Resale Value: $13,691

Grand Entrance (Fiberglass)(70.1% ROI)
Average Cost: $8,358
Average Resale Value: $5,855

Regionally, the Pacific division (California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii) saw an average payback of 78.2 percent for all projects, with 10 projects posting cost-recouped levels of at least 90 percent. The East North Central states of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin, however, saw an average of just 54.9 percent, with no single project offering a payback of as much as 80 cents on the dollar.

At the other end of the spectrum are projects with the lowest returns on investment—improvements generally not in demand by the market.

Again on a national scale, the five projects with the lowest ROI in the “midrange” cost category are:

Bathroom Remodel(64.8% ROI)
Average Cost: $18,546
Average Resale Value: $12,024

Master Suite Addition(64.8% ROI)
Average Cost: $119,533
Average Resale Value: $77,506

Backyard Patio(54.9% ROI)
Average Cost: $51,985
Average Resale Value: $28,546

Backup Power Generator(54.0% ROI)
Average Cost: $12,860
Average Resale Value: $6,940

Bathroom Addition(53.9% ROI)
Average Cost: $43,232
Average Resale Value: $23,283

The five projects with the lowest ROI in the “upscale” cost category are:

Major Kitchen Remodel(61.9% ROI)
Average Cost: $122,991
Average Resale Value: $76,149

Master Suite Addition(59.9% ROI)
Average Cost: $250,687
Average Resale Value: $150,140

Bathroom Remodel(59.1% ROI)
Average Cost: $59,979
Average Resale Value: $35,456

Bathroom Addition(57.1% ROI)
Average Cost: $81,515
Average Resale Value: $46,507

Deck Addition (Composite)(56.4% ROI)
Average Cost: $39,339
Average Resale Value: $22,171

The 2017 Cost vs. Value Report compares, across 99 markets, the average cost of 29 popular remodeling projects with their average value at resale one year later. Average resale value is calculated based on estimates provided by real estate professionals.

Original Source

Realtor/Broker NC-SC
Coldwell Banker Sloane Realty
16 Causeway Drive
Ocean Isle Beach, NC 28469
Direct: 910.443.0398
Toll-Free: 800.237.4609 X206
Fax: 910.579.5877

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