Monday, March 11, 2013

Tax Season and Home Improvement Projects: It’s a great time to do something great for your home.

Well, it’s March and the 2013 tax season probably has many Americans either thinking about their accountants or waiting by the mail box for that much anticipated refund check from Uncle Sam. What to do with this extra influx of cash back to our pockets is usually a topic debate amongst taxpayers. And this year, if you’re a homeowner, might be a great time to invest in your humble abode.

Tax season is on, and the annual migration of hard earned cash back into our pockets is on its way for many Americans expecting a tax refund this year. And for many, the refund could mean a few extra thousand dollars in their pockets. As a matter of fact in 2012, the IRS had issued 59.2 million refund checks totaling $174.4 billion. Using those numbers, the average refund check is about $3,000. So with this new influx of cash coming, what to do with it usually becomes a topic for debate for taxpayers. One suggestion, if you’re not paying bills this year, use it to build value.

As a homeowner, your home is probably your most important asset, and using this year tax refund to refinance the mortgage at today’s low interest rates could present a responsible opportunity to spend your cash wisely. Low interest rates might not be here in the future, and the 2013 tax rebate can help you pay for the hefty closing costs associated with a refinance.

If you are happy with your current rate, making the investment in your living spaces could also greatly improve various aspects of your life. From increasing the value of your property to improving the quality of your life, and even lowering energy costs, taking on home improvement remodeling projects with refunds can stretch those tax dollars a lot farther than a weekend at the mall.

When considering a home improvement project, keep in mind that even a humble investment can go a long way. From smaller projects such as replacing a front door or painting your home, to larger projects such as kitchen and bathroom remodeling and even flooring, home renovations can offer a satisfying, value driven spot to put the little extra cash into.

A few other ways you might consider spending your dollars if your home is not at the top of your list could include investing in you. From paying down debts, starting or increasing an emergency fund to protect you and your family from a financial emergency, such as a lay off at work, to investing in your health, making value driven decisions should be the common theme across all your considerations. So if you are waiting for that extra money from the IRS, whether it’s a little or boat load, remember to spend it wisely, as recent history has taught us that no one ever knows what the future may hold.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

In a renter’s market, here are a few home improvement tips new real estate investors can use to maximize returns.

Since the start of the U.S. housing crisis, foreclosures have forced millions of American home owners back into the rental markets, leading to a boom of aspiring real estate investor looking to capitalize in this surge of new renters. However, as residential rentals begin to saturate the housing markets, these new, up and coming land lords may find themselves having to go that extra mile, as the market shifts from investors to renters. If you are someone looking to maximize your returns, here are a few ideas to keep in mind and a couple cost effective solutions to achieve these goals.

As the foreclosure crisis continues to draw millions of previous homeowners into rentals across the country, investors and land lords, particularly those in the rapidly growing sector of single family homes, are finding themselves in the perfect storm of relatively low home prices and rising rental rates. Furthermore, the ability to attract high quality renters, such as previous homeowners and their families, allows investors a higher chance of placing the leasing agreement in good hands. But in order to increase your chances for a higher return-on-investment, here are a few ideas to give that leading edge and renter’s appeal. The idea behind these ideas is to provide your property with affordable, highly durable and low maintenance renovations that will add value, beauty and functionality to your investment.

Everybody knows that a first impression can go a real long way, and so can landscaping, a little pressure cleaning and/or a fresh coat of exterior paint. Keeping the property’s first impression should boost your demand for a minimal investment. Landscaping does not and should not be elaborate, and more importantly, should remain extremely easy to maintain for any potential renters. In some parts of the country people are even turning to organic green dyes that are sprayed over lawns to bring the lush green look back to their property. And as crazy as this might sound, for many years, lawn painting has commonly been used for athletic fields and golf courses. Pressure cleaning the driveways and roofs of the property will also assist in maintaining the aesthetics of the home, as will a fresh coat of paint on a driveway or the exterior of the home if it is needed.

In the interior, the two main areas to focus on will be the kitchen and bathroom spaces, particularly in the kitchen. Whether a property is being sold or rented, the kitchen is always front and center for any decision, and it is this central living space that can be the deal maker or breaker. Making sure that the cabinetry is in working order and free from things such as water damage and unsightly doors is important. If any or all of these areas are in need of repair, affordable kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanity options are readily available and reasonably priced. Ready-to-assemble cabinets, also known as RTA cabinets or knock downs, many times offer investors a highly durable, all wood construction solution that will cost significantly less than many name brand cabinet manufacturers, while providing an overall better product. Intimate areas such as toilets, showers and bath tubs should also be almost immaculate, and free of mold and water stains. In all, a renter is more likely to focus their attention on these critical areas, with again, the kitchen being an important selling point for any renter or buyer. A fresh coat of affordable high gloss interior paint throughout the entire home and clean flooring is a must for any rental property.

It is important that new real estate investors always remember that they will not be living in this home themselves, and ensuring that the upgrades you commit to are aligned with your property’s investment. Maintaining an affordable budget that will allow you to achieve profitability in as little time as possible should be job one.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Home remodeling for the holidays: Why home improvement shopping can mean big savings this season.

With the holiday season and big savings in full swing, shoppers around the country are packing malls and shopping centers for those special people in their lives. But there are a few savvy consumers that are taking advantage of the rush to save big dollars on home sweet home. And while many might not think home improvement for the holidays, a carefully executed strategy could possibly lead to thousands in savings, from sales on materials to contractors willing to lower cost in order to sneak those last couple of jobs before the New Year.

If you are thinking about home renovations in 2013, then now may be the perfect time to set aside the Christmas shopping for a bit, and tackle those plans head on. Why? Well, when it comes to any home improvement, any professional will tell you that December is generally the slowest month of the year, and many more will tell you that their work flow comes to a near standstill. This means that more contractors are not only available, but probably willing to offer some discounts to push that final job of the year. Furthermore, unless it’s a brand new, shining cordless drill set for dad, most home improvement stores do not see the major rushes that other retailers experience. However, that does not mean the Black Friday sales aren’t there.

Let’s take a popular renovation project as an example. Did you ever wonder on Thanksgiving Day if you could be cooking in a brand new kitchen by Christmas? Well the truth is, with some pre-planning and a little patience, particularly with your fellow holiday shoppers, you cannot only accomplish it but you can save some serious money doing it. Black Friday sales on name brand appliances average anywhere between 30% and 40% or more off regular prices. Consider using ready-to-assemble all wood cabinetry to save on time and money, choose a counter top, and you can be sipping eggnog with in-laws and talking about how much you saved on your brand new kitchen.

Digging a little deeper into the holiday sales bonanza, you will find some great pricing on everything from wood flooring to bathroom vanities to huge discounts on tools and hardware for the do-it-yourselfers who like to take matters in their own hands.

Another great area to save on is labor. Many good contractors are sitting on the sidelines during the month of December, as the holiday’s take front and center for almost everybody. Some home improvement professionals may be receptive to offering some discounts during their slow period, particularly if they see that you really are serious about getting the job done before the New Year. Besides cost, hiring a contractor in the month of December will probably put you front and center in the contractor’s list of priorities, helping you not only save money, but also time. However, remember the one place you do not want save time on is doing the necessary research on the contractor you hire. Make sure to check licenses, visit their shops or showrooms and even asks for references. Unfortunately the holidays have a way of bringing the good and bad in people.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The debate of Chinese imports: Why Chinese cabinets are shutting the doors of local manufacturers.

It is a highly fragmented market place that is dominated by mostly small business entrepreneurs. Aside from a few industry giants such as Masco Corporation and Fortune Brands, many homeowners have historically turned to the small, privately owned local manufacturers who have been serving their community, in many cases, for decades. But as American importers and Chinese manufacturers began their charge into the multi-billion dollar kitchen and bath cabinetry industry, a detrimental combination of an economic recession, a failing housing market and high unemployment began to stack up against local manufacturing, as cash strapped consumers hunted for the highest quality cabinetry at the lowest price.
This perfect storm allowed Chinese imports of ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets to take hold of an already distressed market, putting many small businesses, out of business, as their inability to compete against importers grew. So why are the importers still around now? It comes down to simple profit and loss. Manufacturing cabinetry here in the United States is expensive business, from overhead to equipment to personnel. And since most small business owner or entrepreneurs aren’t in the business to lose money, the cost of manufacturing is passed on to the consumer, either through lofty pricing or poorer quality. With local manufacturing, a company has to factor in significantly larger facilities to accommodate their production and manufacturing operations, which translates to higher rent and additional costs for the purchase and maintenance of equipment. The hiring of more personnel, means more highly skilled carpenters who require the manufacturer to carry additional, high risk insurances in addition to higher salaries. And although many local manufacturers turned to China for raw materials and equipment, the cost of operating was still enough to force them to close shop. Manufacturing importers have been able to seize the opportunity of the lagging economy by operating with significantly lower manufacturing costs and lower overhead, allowing them to offer considerably lower pricing to the end users, whether it’s wholesale to industry pros or consumers at retail prices. When comparing to local manufacturers or large home improvement stores, this difference could be in upwards of forty percent or more. Additionally, value driven importers will take advantage of affordable raw materials and low manufacturing costs in China to significantly improve the quality of their cabinets in an effort to strengthen their competitive edge in the market. Opting for standards such as ¾ inch plywood boxes, higher quality hardware such as soft closing hinges and matching cabinet interiors to go with the customers color selection continues to give the importers a strategic advantage from manufacturing companies who offer these as pricey upgrades.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Is Stainless Steel Losing Ground in the Kitchen?

After decades of exemplifying beauty and sophistication in kitchens, is stainless steel beginning an exit from culinary living spaces? Well, it’s probably not; at least not yet and not any time soon. However, from kitchen sinks to home appliances, it does seem that stainless steel maybe making its way out of a few kitchens as new beautiful alternatives come to market. And with a significant push to transform the kitchen from workspace to living space, these trend setting options might quickly start chipping away at the demand for stainless steel, and ultimately, its global market share. Kitchen remodeling, as with any renovation project, has always been based on aesthetics, functionality and durability. It is why for decades stainless steel has dominated the kitchen. Aside from its good looks, it has been revered for its strength and ability to not readily rust or stain, although it has been known to if not cared for properly or manufactured using poor quality materials. But in a new, fast paced, ever changing world driven by emerging trends, it seems inevitable that stainless steel will soon lose its dominance to fresh, next generation alternatives. A similar transition seems to be in the works between granite and quartz countertops. So what alternatives are showing up in the world of home remodeling? Over the past several years, stainless steel has remained unchallenged in the kitchen appliances arena, but it seems that this undisputed champ is now facing several new up-an-coming contenders. As kitchen cabinets move to a new era of sleek and modern designs, some appliance manufacturers are testing the waters with bold looks and new finishes. General Electric, for example, has recently launched its new line of slate appliances, offering a subtle, gray metallic look that blends perfectly with a variety of cabinetry options, from chic bamboo to the ultra modern Italian styles.
Whirlpool has also introduced its Ice Collection, which includes its high shine Black Ice and White Ice appliances that is sure to grab the attention of iPhone users worldwide. Stainless steel is also facing a new challenger in the area of kitchen sinks. Recently, integrated sinks, such as Silestone’s Integrity sink is made from a single, matching piece of quartz. This sink allows for a seamless integration of sink and countertop and allowing for a sleek and uniform appearance. The quartz countertop and the sinks are not only beautiful, but scratch resistant, easy to clean and more importantly nonporous, offering consumers a safer product in an area known for its raw food bacteria.
As we spend more and more time in this foundation of the American home, it will be exciting to see what lies ahead for this transitional phase to the modern day kitchen. With all these trend setting products just coming to market, we still have yet to see if they will stand the test of time. And it is probably safe to say that we could probably expect stainless steel to remain a first choice for most homeowners for many years to come.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

When It Comes to Home Improvement and Cabinetry, What Materials Are Ideal for My Projects?

When It Comes to Home Improvement and Cabinetry, What Materials Are Ideal for My Projects?

When it comes to any residential renovation project that requires the replacement of cabinetry, whether it’s for a kitchen, bathroom or a bedroom closets, what goes into making the cabinet is just as important as how it looks. With a wide range of materials to choose from, selecting the right option based on purpose of the project, your budget and even the location of your cabinetry will be something that would need to be strongly considered when making your choice.

In the world of residential and commercial cabinetry, a couple of truths ring true. First, is that you will always “get what you pay for” and the second is that you should “never judge a book by its cover.” As a consumer, you should be aware that looking at a beautiful, eye-catching piece of cabinetry does not necessarily mean that the highest quality standards and craftsmanship was placed into manufacturing the product. However, a lot of times that is okay if the buyer know exactly what he or she is buying, and that the price fits the quality of the purchase. But as a buyer, you should know the pros and cons of the common material used in cabinetry and you should be aware of your project goals.

Beginning from lowest to highest on durability and cost, melamine offers an inexpensive option to buyers on a budget. These cabinets are constructed by using a resin, made by combining melamine and formaldehyde, to create a laminate under pressure and heat. The resulting sheet is then and bonded with glue, usually to particle board. However, over time, melamine cabinets are notorious for swelling, is known to quickly show wear and tear, and it has the tendency to look just as inexpensive as its price tag.

Like melamine, thermofoil is a plastic-coated cabinet finish that uses a thin film that is heated and molded over engineered medium-density fiberboard, or MDF. It can offer a longer lasting alternative to melamine cabinets that gives consumers a greater selection of colors and styles. Furthermore, it is well known for its high quality sheen, and some finishes include wood grain, and can even have metallic elements. Thermofoil can also be applied to existing cabinet doors. Both melamine and thermofoil cabinets are easy to maintain.

Finally, if your budget allows, natural solid wood provides one of the highest level of durability, strength and beauty available in the market today. Unlike engineered wood products, the quality of the solid wood is dependent on the species, whether it would be oak, maple or cherry. In general though, wood is regarded as a reliably better choice for cabinetry than MDF for its strength, although both can deliver a visually stunning piece of cabinetry. And with better technologies and manufacturing processes coming down the pipe, MDF can be become the leading player in the cabinetry market.

So whether you’re a homeowner, landlord or real estate investor there is always a cabinet available to meet your requirements. The important thing is to know what you expect from your cabinets in the near and long term. As an example, a homeowner or landlord would need long lasting durability and strength and would probably consider a higher grade product such as solid wood or thermofoil. In contrast a real estate investor may do well with the less durable melamine product to secure a quick sale. Just remember to choose wisely, and more importantly, research the company or contractor you are purchasing from.

Turning dream kitchen and baths into affordable realities is what we are all about.

Superior Kitchens & More a leading manufacturer and wholesale distributor of high quality kitchen and bathroom cabinets, as well as the Klazz™ line of plumbing fixtures and accessories. Located in South Florida, Superior operates a large design & manufacturing center that features a state-of-the-art showroom featuring all of our all wood cabinetry lines, as well as our kitchen and bath plumbing products. Here, we are staying ahead of our competition by finding innovative ways to improve and lower production costs without compromising the trusted quality we have come to be known by. Klazz is a registered trademark of Superior Kitchens and More.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Measurements 101: How to Measure Your Kitchen Cabinets Video Released

Superior Kitchens would love to invite our followers to check out our first YouTube video on how to measure your kitchen. Please let us know what you think.
This video is designed to give our customers step-by-step instructions on how to properly measure your kitchen, especially prior to speaking to any renovation expert or kitchen cabinet company. We receive several phone calls a day from potential customers looking for a pretty accurate estimate over the phone. Some competitors have initiated dubious marketing strategies, known as the 10’ X 10’ kitchen offers, with the 10’ X 10’ often referred to as a “typical” kitchen. What sometimes isn’t clearly spelled out is that the 10’ X 10’ is based on specific cabinets in predetermined sizes, and on a layout that is all but typical. Any changes that have to be made will probably come at cost. Always look for a friendly, small print disclaimer somewhere around the advertisement.
Anyways, our video will give anyone the ability to receive an estimate over the phone or via email, without the need of having unfamiliar contractors coming into your home. If it is done correctly, these measurements should provide a home remodeling professional or company with the numbers needed to provide you with a preliminary estimate. Once you narrow your selection down, you can invite them back to your home to do the measurements professionally.
Hopefully you will enjoy the video, and PLEASE don’t forget to help us out by clicking the “LIKE” button on the YouTube!