Rethink these renovations
Between trying to save money and customizing a home to an exact lifestyle, homeowners can make some big mistakes. Whether they decrease resale value, go way over budget or increase maintenance costs, some renovations are better left undone. These are the projects homeowners most commonly tell us they regret.
Most of us dream of a big closet, but converting a bedroom into a walk-in will make your real estate agent cringe. First, removing a bedroom usually decreases a property’s value up to 15 percent. Second, installing shelves typically costs $1,000 to $2,600. Instead of going this route, consider maximizing the storage space you already have. Use pre-built racks and closet organizers to take advantage of your existing closet space.
Pools come with a few unexpected costs people don’t always consider. First, building a pool can increase the cost of homeowners insurance and property taxes. If local codes require pool owners to install a barrier, you’re looking at more than $2,500 in fencing costs. Installation is expensive, and the ongoing time and pool maintenance costs can also be steep. If you’re on a budget, a pool can easily become a regretful addition.
High-end finishes like time-consuming tile patterns, costly tubs and showers, and luxury faucets or fixtures can end up breaking your budget and falling short of your anticipated return on investment. Getting rid of the rust and laminate and adding efficient features is great. Just don’t go overboard. Set a budget in advance. A general guideline is to spend no more than 10 percent of the home’s value on a bathroom remodel.
According to Remodeling Magazine, sunrooms typically yield returns less than half of your initial investment. The average sunroom costs more than $16,000. Unless you’re adding much-needed livable square footage to a small floor plan, building and furnishing a sunroom can drain your bank account and create less enjoyment than you hope.
It’s easy to overdo landscaping, but it can be a fine line between just enough and too much. Too many trees, shrubs and plants can detract from the natural beauty and curb appeal of the home. Plus, homeowners can end up spending thousands of dollars and all of their free time doing yard work. Intricate landscaping is a choice most homeowners wish they hadn’t made.
From the smallest update to the largest renovation, it pays to choose better quality. It’s easy to end up with mediocre or regretful results when you accept the lowest contractor bid or go the do-ityourself route. In the world of poor-quality construction, there are nightmare stories of contractors who demanded extra money to finish the job, used substandard or dangerous materials, or just stopped showing up altogether.
The best way to avoid this? Interview at least three contractors before you hire, verify licensing and insurance, and always call to check the references of any professional you’re considering hiring.
Brown spotted leaves and streaks of black stem cankers indicate boxwood blight, a new fatal boxwood disease. Do not compost the wreath or dispose of it outdoors. However, the spores are not active in cold weather. You may be able to safely hang it, though not where foot traffic could track leaves away and provided you do not have boxwood, pachysandra or sweetbox (sarcococca) in the vicinity.
Boxwood blight causes infected leaves to drop. The fungal spores are sticky and can adhere to man or beast, infecting nearby plants, though they don’t blow away — unless someone drives off with infected plants in the back of their pickup! After the holidays, bag your wreath and put it out with the garbage, not with recyclable yard waste.
Most infection is spread by nursery
Keep all your rhizomes and bulbs in a cool dark place, such as a basement or garage, over the winter. It is not necessary to pot them up before storage. A plastic bag with holes for ventilation can work well. Check periodically for rot. If you spot any, discard that rhizome or bulb. On the other hand, you do not want the rhizomes to shrivel up in a warm dry environment.
University of Maryland Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information at extension.umd.edu/hgic. Click “Ask Maryland’s Gardening Experts” to send questions and photos.