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August 2016

Time for Some Low-Maintenance Home Updates

Even with the end of summer approaching, we know that you still want to spend more time having fun and less time on home maintenance. Maybe the fall finds your calendar even more crowded with activities than the summer. You'll be glad to hear that there are lots of new products available today that will make your life easier. Once you update your home with a few of these great low-maintenance materials, you'll be heading out the door to enjoy those things that you'd rather be doing instead of painting the house!

Where should you start? You already have a to-do list – we know you do! So pull it out and let's get started. What repairs are needed? What rooms need help the most? What project would make the biggest difference in giving you some extra time to spend with your family?

Photo: low maintenance windows
Photo courtesy Pella Windows & Doors.

Low-Maintenance Exteriors

If you're tired of painting wood siding or it's time to replace vinyl siding, stone and brick can dramatically change the look of your home. Materials like these last a lifetime and require very little maintenance. If you don't want the look or the cost of brick or stone, there are attractive options. Fiber-cement siding is guaranteed for 50 years, insects can't bore into it, and it serves as an extra layer of insulation for your home – which can lower your heating and cooling costs.

Photo: front porch
Remodeling by Sylvestre Remodeling & Design.

A deck is meant to add to your enjoyment, not your workload. Decking materials have come a long way and there is no reason to build a deck now that requires lots of maintenance. Composite and engineered materials such as TREX® Decking and AZEK® Deck Boards not only eliminate annual maintenance like staining, sealing and checking for rot or loose nails, they also provide long-lasting freedom from warping, rotting, splinters, stains from spills, and damage from the sun, moisture and insects.

If you want to go one step further, a little smart home remodeling can also remodel how much time and money need to be spent maintaining the yard, by replacing some of that lawn with something you might enjoy more. Adding a screened porch, remodeling your patio into a complete outdoor kitchen, or building a new sunroom will treat you to living space you can use throughout the year.

Low-Maintenance Interiors

In the kitchen, quartz countertops are taking the place of granite and marble because composites are just as sleek and shiny, but virtually maintenance-free. Engineered surface options such as Silestone, Caesarstone, and Cambria are particularly durable. Replace the top-mounted sink with an undermount solid surface or stainless sink that's easier to keep clean because you can wipe spills and crumbs from the countertop directly into the sink and there's no crevices to catch dirt. Add a high quality faucet that won't break or peel in a year's time.

If you want the look of rustic wood floors in a high-traffic area without all the fuss, you can get the durability of porcelain tile in a finish that looks exactly like weathered wood. There are also new, low-maintenance veneers with the appearance of natural stone or exposed brick to add texture to any wall.

For a low-maintenance bathroom update, select larger tile on the walls of the shower for fewer grout joints, with frameless or semi-frameless glass doors. You can find an option which will work with virtually any bathroom style and color scheme.

Photo: bathroom remodeling
Photo courtesy Kohler Co.

We can help your planning process by outlining options and discussing the kind of improvements you can make to make your life easier, within your budget. If you've come to the conclusion that one of your top home improvement goals is to spend less time and money on routine home maintenance, inside and out, call us today!

Maintenance Tip: Prevent Wind Damage with Some Yard Work Now

Advance planning and some yard maintenance now while the weather is good can help prevent damage to your property later when storms with high winds pop up. Make it a yearly habit to trim shrubbery and weak or dead tree branches that are close enough to your home that they could cause damage in a storm.

Sunset over Lake Superior
Clouds and sunset over Lake Superior.

What's the Story?

The only things we know for sure are death, taxes and home maintenance! I have quoted the Wall Street Journal a few times with the fact that you should budget approximately 1% of your home's value per year for strictly maintenance – and if you don't spend it in one year, the number doesn't go away; you just add it to the next year. For instance, if your home is worth $300,000.00, it is roughly $3,000/year.

  Bear warning sign
  Public Service Info for hikers.

Year 2 would be $6,000.00 if you forgo the previous years. By year 3, if you haven't worked on the upkeep, you are at $9,000.00. It adds up quickly. And these are not the roof, the furnace or the water heater. I have had two recent conversations with clients about the lifespan of appliances. One said "after 10 years, we had to replace them all." Another said they bought a 20-year-old home and everything needed updating and replacement, "I can see why they sold the home." Depending on when your home was built, these times can vary widely.

Make sure you make good choices in materials and then be aware of how they are installed. Good materials will not last long if they are installed incorrectly. This is where checking references is important if you are planning any home remodeling or maintenance. Shortcuts save short-term money but can add cost if the products are installed incorrectly. We have a number of stories we can share... This is where the quote from our product supplier, John Relf rings so true, "It takes a lot of money, to save money." I guess this is where the old English phrase "penny wise and pound foolish" makes a lot of sense.

We spent the first few days of August on Madeline Island at a cabin I helped build. For over 30 years our family has spent this summer week enjoying Lake Superior in all its glory. Even with everyone's busy lives, we make the time to spend family time together and it is great!

Mafeline Island car ferry
The car ferry from Bayfield to Madeline Island.

As I noted earlier, Alice and I now have a new dog and 2 kittens. They all are getting along pretty well together. The kittens are a lot of entertainment. They spent 1/2 an hour "exploring" an eggshell in our sink and who would think that a bottle cap would provide hours of entertainment, especially when they drop it in the bathtub (with no water, although that will be another story...) and then play "indoor" soccer for an hour. It is interesting to see life through a kitten's eyes – everything is interesting.

With the State Fair around the corner and school starting soon, make sure you make the most out of these lazy summer days.

John Sylvestre

Until next month,

John Sylvestre
Phone: 612-861-0188

Sylvestre Remodeling & Design