Home Upgrades on a Budget Baltimore MD

While putting money into your home can reap a great return on investment in Baltimore, it is important to stay within a budget while creating the home of your dreams.

Fick Bros. Roofing & Exterior Remodeling Company
1200 E. 25th Street
Baltimore, MD
Specialty Contractor, Remodeler
2010 Guildmaster with Distinction
Membership Organizations
2006 Torch Award Winner, Marketplace Excellence, BBB Greater MD, Better Business Bureau, Cedar Shake & Shingle Bureau, CertainTeed Master Craftsman, CertainTeed Select Shingle Roofer, Certified Contractors Network (CCN), DaVinci Masterpiece Contractor, EnergyStar, Home Builders Association of Maryland, Installation Masters, Maryland Improvement Contractors Association, Mid Atlantic Roofing Contractors Association, National Association of Home Builders, National Association of the Remodeling Indu

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ADR Builders, Ltd.
1850 York Rd, Suite H
Timonium, MD
Service Type
Designer / Architect, Remodeler
2007 Guildmaster with Highest Distinction

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Villa Builders, Inc.
1511 Ritchie Highway, suite 101A
Arnold, MD
Custom Builder, Remodeler
Membership Organizations
2008 CotY Awards, National Association of the Remodeling Industry, National Kitchen and Bath Association, Professional Remodeler Best of the Best Design Award

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East Coast Organics
(410) 889-8784
2800 Sisson Street
Baltimore, MD
Garden Architecture LLC
(410) 593-9989
6425 Catalpa Road
Fork, MD
Atlantic Remodeling
8015 Corporate Dr., Suite I
Baltimore, MD
Remodeler, Specialty Contractor
Membership Organizations
Qualified Remodeler Top 500, Qualified Remodeler Top 500 2009

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Starcom Design Build
8835-M Columbia 100 Pkwy
Columbia, MD

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Thomas Clark
Thomas Clark Architects
410 539 6830
10 N. Calvert Street, Suite 045
Baltimore, MD
Sky Premium Lawn Care
(410) 244-7066
813 Eastern Avenue
Baltimore, MD
Carroll Independent Fuel
(410) 366-0340
2700 Loch Raven Road
Baltimore, MD
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Home Upgrades on a Budget

Don’t put off improvement projects, just look for savings

Americans spend billions of dollars every year on home improvements. While putting money into your home can reap a great return on investment, it is important to stay within a budget while creating the home of your dreams.

Spending less doesn’t mean giving up on your visions entirely; it may mean scaling back, rethinking your plans or looking for other avenues to accomplish more with less.

Here are some ideas:

1. Tax credits

Homeowners who purchase and install specific products, such as energy-efficient windows, insulation, doors, roofs, and heating and cooling equipment in existing homes can receive a tax credit for 30 percent of the cost, up to $1,500. To check out all of the credits available, visit EnergyStar.gov.

2. Plan, plan, plan

Think through the entire process of your renovations. The Internet makes it easier than ever to review products and manufacturers as well as check out feedback from other home remodelers.

“The information is all out there,” said Tom Kraeutler, co-host of “The Money Pit” nationally syndicated radio show. “Doing your homework is a great way to keep your costs in check.”

The same advice holds true whether you are doing the work yourself or hiring someone else. There are a number of Web sites that offer feedback about contractors and other service companies.

3. Be realistic

It is important for do-it-yourselfers to realize the limits of their expertise, Kraeutler said. The fastest way to rack up a large bill is bringing in a professional to undo and finish a job you attempted yourself without the proper expertise or equipment.

4. Best budget buys

Kraeutler is a stickler for buying the best paint you can afford. “Most of the cost of painting is in labor, and if you buy cheap paint, you will need more paint and it won’t last as long.”

Higher-quality paint tends to have more titanium dioxide, Kraeutler said, which allows for better coverage in fewer coats.

5. Don’t cut corners

With any home-improvement project, always complete all the steps from start to finish. When painting, be sure to clean your surface well and use a primer before applying color. Primer acts as the “glue” to help the paint adhere better for longer, with fewer coats and brush marks, Kraeutler said.

6. Do small projects

Even if your room or yard needs a major overhaul that’s out of your budget, there are smaller improvements that can have an effect. To maximize curb appeal, use low maintenance container plants near the front door for instant color.

In the kitchen or bath, change out the hardware -- what Kraeutler calls “bling for doors and drawers” in his book “My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure” -- for an immediate and inexpensive update.

7. Save energy

Use less energy and water for the entire time you own your products. Look for the Energy Star label issued by the Department of Energy and the newer WaterSense label, a partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency. Using products bearing these labels can slash 30 percent off your energy and water costs annually without sacrificing quality.

Kraeutler said that the manufacturing of these products is better than ever, and some of the glitches of earlier generations have been resolved. For example, low-flow showerheads can now deliver a strong shower, and water-efficient toilets actually work with one flush.

8. Check your deck

Decks are a big focus this time of year, and it’s important to inspect yours before that big party. An easy and cheap way to save on replacing cracked or worn deck boards is to pull out the worn board with a nail puller, turn it over, and use the other side as the surface, Kraeutler said. That side of the board should be in great shape because it hasn’t had the wear and tear, plus, you don’t have to spend additional money.

9. Use remnants

Using scrap or remnant materials to complete other projects is a popular way to keep costs down, said Dave Brassard, CEO/owner of RE Marble & Granite in Temple, N.H.

“More and more clients are having us use pieces from home renovation projects, such as kitchen countertops and bathrooms, and turn them into key parts of landscaping projects in and outside the home,” he said. “For example, several customers recently had us do projects where they desired stepping stone pavers from various granite pieces.”

10. Splurge on the details

When using tile in a bathroom or kitchen, stick to simple and inexpensive tiles for the main field portion, but liven it up by mixing in more expensive decorative tiles sparingly, Kraeulter said in his book.

“Since you are using this decorative detail in small quantities, you can really splurge for something that is really special,” he said.

author: Tara Kingston