Spend­ing less can be costly

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - REAL ESTATE - By Paul F.P. Pogue

You get what you pay for, as the say­ing goes, and there are some ar­eas where you shouldn’t skimp on qual­ity — build­ing ma­te­ri­als and con­trac­tor ser­vices, for ex­am­ple. When you cut cor­ners in im­por­tant ar­eas, you’ll typ­i­cally end up pay­ing a lot more in the long run. You might have higher op­er­at­ing costs, have to pay ex­tra to fix the mis­takes made the first time around or re­place some­thing years be­fore you should have to.

In­su­la­tion: Prop­erly in­su­lat­ing your home im­proves com­fort, in­creases en­ergy ef­fi­ciency and re­duces heat­ing and cool­ing costs. Ac­cord­ing to the En­ergy Star pro­gram, nine out of 10 Amer­i­can homes are un­der­in­su­lated, so this is an easy way to boost ef­fi­ciency. Aim for the high­est R value achiev­able within your bud­get.

Caulk: Less ex­pen­sive caulk­ing ma­te­ri­als aren’t as flex­i­ble as higher-qual­ity op­tions, and they typ­i­cally won’t ad­here to sur­faces for as long. For a last­ing re­sult, use the best pos­si­ble caulk for the job. The higher qual­ity makes a big dif­fer­ence; pre­mium caulk can last 10 times longer than cheaper op­tions.

Win­dows: Win­dows are ex­pen­sive and la­bor-in­ten­sive. You also don’t tend to re­place them for many years af­ter you in­stall them. So, this is a job you def­i­nitely want to get done right the first time. Choose the most ef­fi­cient win­dows you can af­ford spe­cific to your cli­mate. You can cut heat­ing and cool­ing costs by as much as 33 per­cent by pay­ing ex­tra for low-e storm win­dows.

Paint: Not all paints are created equal. Lower-qual­ity paint tends to fade faster and re­quire more vol­ume for cov­er­age than high­erqual­ity op­tions, par­tic­u­larly in highly sat­u­rated col­ors. This is one area in which the ben­e­fit is im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous. Econ­omy-grade paint may re­quire two to three ad­di­tional coats to achieve the same ef­fect.

Roof re­place­ment: Roof­ing is one of the big­gest and most ex­pen­sive jobs you’ll do on your house, and the con­se­quences of a poor roof­ing job can be cat­a­strophic. So hire a rep­utable roof­ing con­trac­tor to in­stall the best-qual­ity prod­uct you can af­ford. Also, higher-qual­ity ma­te­ri­als gen­er­ally have longer war­ranties, some­times 50 years or more, so you’ll likely only have to pay for this project once.

Kitchen ap­pli­ances: You’ll be putting ap­pli­ances through heavy use for years, es­pe­cially the big­ger ones, like a re­frig­er­a­tor or oven. Higher-end mod­els are likely to last much longer, and you’ll get a longer war­ranty. Space mat­ters too. You might save a few bucks by re­duc­ing the stor­age space of a fridge or the us­able area of an oven, but over the years, you might re­gret the small sav­ings at the cost of con­ve­nience.

Hir­ing a qual­i­fied pro­fes­sional: The low­est bid won’t nec­es­sar­ily be the cheap­est. Check ref­er­ences care­fully, and al­ways be sure you’re work­ing with a con­trac­tor who’s li­censed, in­sured and ex­pe­ri­enced. You want some­one who has done your spe­cific kind of job be­fore. Also, never skip im­por­tant per­mits and in­spec­tions. If a con­trac­tor waves off the per­mit­ting process as no big deal, that’s a red flag.


Choose the most ef­fi­cient win­dows you can af­ford spe­cific to your cli­mate.

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