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Townhouse Renovation Ideas for Your Next Investment Property

November 23rd, 2021 |

Does your newly purchased townhouse need renovations? Or maybe you’ve had your eye on a nineteenth-century property but wonder about renovating in a historic district. As an investment property owner, you’ll want to read the following townhouse renovation ideas. 

Before You Start 

Townhouses are often located in historic districts, and some are designated landmarks in their own right. Renovations to historic buildings must follow strict guidelines and be approved by a local authority. In Boston, for example, you must submit an application that includes an outline of the proposed renovations to the Landmarks Commission. If the property is in a historic district such as Beacon Hill or the North End, you must also apply to that district. Surrounding cities, such as Cambridge and Brookline, have their own approval processes.

Restrictions typically apply to exterior renovations that affect the building façade, such as 

  • Windows 
  • Porches
  • Awnings
  • Decks
  • Air conditioner units

Still, there are plenty of townhouse renovation ideas that can work with a city’s landmark requirements.  

Mix Vintage With Modern 

You can update your townhouse interior and keep its historic features at the same time. Do you love that ornate living room fireplace but not the garish wall color and dated flooring? A fresh coat of neutral-colored paint and new wood floors create a clean look while retaining the original fireplace. 

Mixing new and vintage materials is a great way to refresh a townhouse interior. Maybe you want to keep the old wooden features while creating a more modern style. Try adding brick and steel next to the original wood for an industrial vibe. 

Maximize Light 

One way to update the look of a historic townhouse is to maximize lighting. Sometimes this can be accomplished without installing windows. For example, does the original wood staircase block the light from already existing windows? Consider replacing the closed risers and wood spindles with a minimalist steel staircase and open risers. 

Still need more sunlight? You can probably add new or larger windows, as long as they are on the rear facade. Landmark requirements are often less stringent with renovations that can’t be seen from the street. You can even build an extension from back of the building. Add large windows or steel French doors that open to the back balcony, and your townhouse interior will .  

Change Colors and Textures 

Love the layout of your townhouse but don’t love the dated color scheme? Brand new colors and textures can make a world of difference without altering the historic features of the building. For example, you can give the kitchen a clean contemporary feel with an off-white color for the walls, cabinets and countertops.  

Along with a fresh coat of paint, textures play an important role in updating your townhouse interior. A tile floor or natural wood slat ceiling, for example, can add interest to a neutral color scheme. Wallpaper, plaster and decorative trim also provide color and texture.  

When you’re planning to renovate a historic property, you need to hire licensed professionals with extensive general contracting experience. At RH Blanchard, we’ll treat your townhouse project with care. Get in touch for a free quote.

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Why You Should Consider a Garage Remodel

November 18th, 2021 |

Whether it’s a home office or in-law suite, a garage remodel is a great way to add usable space to your investment property. A converted garage can increase the value of your property by 10 percent or more, with a return on investment (ROI) up to 80 percent. Read on to learn why you should consider remodeling your garage. 

Is a Garage Remodel Right for Your Property?

Before you get started, make sure a garage remodel is right for your property. Consider the following factors: 

  • Do homeowners in your area prefer garage space to outdoor parking? 
  • Can you compensate elsewhere in the home for lost storage space? 
  • How much will permits cost? 
  • Will you need to elevate the ceiling so that is rises 8 feet or more above the floor?
  • How will you address drainage if the garage is lower than the house?

If you decide to move forward, a garage remodel can be a worthwhile investment. 

Home Office

With so many people working at home these days, a home office can be an attractive feature. Requirements for this type of remodel usually include 

  • Insulation 
  • HVAC
  • Painted walls
  • Flooring
  • High-speed Internet access
  • Lighting 
  • Window

You may need to add electrical outlets, but you probably won’t have to install drywall or plumbing. The average cost to convert a garage into office space starts at about $5,000

Living Area

With a few brightly colored rugs, furniture and lighting, you can transform your garage into a cozy living area or family room. You may need to add a window or door as an emergency exit.  The majority of the cost includes  

  • HVAC
  • Flooring
  • Insulation

The average cost to convert a garage to a living area ranges from $5,000 to $22,000.

Extra Bedroom

One of the most popular garage conversions is an extra bedroom or master bedroom suite. A simple bedroom costs about $15,000. The price for a master bedroom and bathroom suite can run as high as $25,000, due to specialized installation work:

  • Plumbing
  • Fixtures
  • Toilet
  • Shower or tub
  • Tile

The extra cost may be worth it, however. Turning your garage into a bedroom can increase your home value up to 20 percent.

Accessory Apartment

Also known as a granny flat or in-law suite, an accessory apartment is the most extensive and costly garage remodel. The project can cost an average of $32,700 to $63,000 and involves extensive work. In addition to the work required for a master bedroom suite, conversion to an accessory apartment includes 

  • Full bath 
  • Kitchenette 
  • Soundproofing for privacy
  • Separate entrance door

An accessory apartment is an attractive feature for many homebuyers, with 20 percent of people in the United States living in multigenerational dwellings. Research shows that more people would pay extra for a home with an accessory apartment than for any other feature.

When you’re ready to convert that garage, don’t leave anything to chance. At RH Blanchard, we have the general contracting experience you need for your Boston-area garage remodel. Contact us today and get a free quote.

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7 Types of Flooring to Consider for Your Investment Property

November 16th, 2021 |

The right flooring is essential for any rental property. As an investment property owner, you’ll need to consider some important factors when selecting flooring – you can choose from many types of flooring that will appeal to future renters. Some factors to consider include:

  • Durability 
  • Price
  • Installation requirements 
  • Ease of maintenance 
  • Appearance

Keep reading to learn our suggestions for the best investment property flooring!

1. Laminate 

Laminate is a synthetic alternative to genuine hardwood. Available in planks or squares, it is a good choice for bedrooms, dining rooms and living areas. 

Laminate pros:

  • Easily installed by clicking or gluing in place
  • Tough finish resists scratches and stains  
  • More affordable than genuine hardwood
  • Suitable for pet-friendly rentals

Laminate cons: 

  • Does not add the value of genuine hardwood flooring
  • Cannot refinish
  • Chips easily
  • Does not last as long as hardwood

2. Tile

Whether it’s porcelain, ceramic or stone, tile is a hard flooring installed over cement. The spaces between the tiles are filled with a mixture known as grout. Tile is a good choice for humid areas such as bathrooms and kitchens. 

Tile pros: 

  • Durable
  • Easy to wipe clean
  • Water-resistant 
  • Available in many styles and prices

Tile cons:

  • Can crack 
  • Does not insulate
  • Requires skilled installation 
  • Needs sealer or polish 
  • Grout requires periodic deep cleaning

3. Vinyl  

Vinyl is synthetic flooring that is manufactured in sheets, tiles or planks. It is usually seen in bathrooms and kitchens and is installed by gluing or clicking in place. 

Vinyl pros: 

  • Affordable 
  • Water-resistant 
  • Easy to clean with dry mop or vacuum 
  • Easily installed with little prep
  • Flexible  

Vinyl cons:

  • Moisture underneath flooring can form mildew 
  • Subject to tearing or ripping  

4. Hardwood

Suitable for high-end rentals, hardwood flooring is available in solid wood or engineered planks. It is installed by nailing the planks to sub-flooring and is ideal for bedrooms, dining rooms and living areas. 

Hardwood pros: 

  • Durable
  • Luxurious appearance
  • Easy to sweep clean
  • Can refinish solid wood

Hardwood cons:

  • Higher initial cost
  • Needs skilled installation 
  • Can be damaged by water or sun
  • Cannot refinish engineered wood
  • Easily dented or scratched

5. Linoleum 

Usually seen in kitchens and bathrooms, linoleum flooring is available in tiles or sheets. It is often installed over plywood underlayment.  

Linoleum pros

  • Simply sweep, dust or vacuum clean
  • Lasts up to 40 years
  • Water-resistant 
  • Available in a variety of patterns
  • Color runs deep, minimizing scuffs 
  • Springy and comfortable underfoot

Linoleum cons: 

  • Can expand or contract if water seeps underneath
  • Needs sealer and regular refinishing  

6. Cork 

Made from oak bark, cork tiles are glued to the sub-flooring or to each other. Cork flooring is a good choice for kitchens. 

Cork pros:

  • Affordable
  • Reduces noise 
  • Needs only occasional sweeping and mopping
  • Renewable resource
  • Biodegradable 
  • Easy to install

Cork cons: 

  • Can warp in humidity
  • Easily dented
  • Does not tolerate high traffic
  • Needs sealer  

7. Carpet 

Carpet is one of the most common types of flooring you’ll see on the market. It can be cut to fit a floor space and stapled to a carpet pad and works best in bedrooms and second-floor rental units. 

Carpet pros: 

  • Reduces noise
  • Insulates and reduces energy bills

Carpet cons:

  • Stains easily
  • Holds odors and pet hairs
  • Needs labor-intensive cleaning

At RH Blanchard, we’ll bring our general contracting expertise to help you determine the best types of flooring for your Boston-area project. When you’re ready to move forward, contact us for a free quote. 

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Home Addition Plans Guide: Where to Start?

November 9th, 2021 |

Are you thinking about a home addition for your investment property? Home addition plans involve many decisions and considerations. Read on to learn some helpful tips for your project. 

Start with a Budget 

The first step in building a home addition is to set a budget. It’s easy to become caught up in the excitement of a new addition, but costs can get out of control. Figure out how much you can realistically afford to spend and how you will finance the project. Several finance options are available, including  

  • Mortgage refinance
  • Home equity loan
  • Savings
  • Line of credit

Don’t forget to include non-construction costs, such as  

  • Higher property taxes
  • Increased homeowners’ insurance premiums
  • Increased utility bills

Most importantly, stick with your budget when you discuss your plans with a general contractor. 

Consider Alternatives to an Addition 

Before you commit to an addition, consider less costly alternatives that do not require a new foundation or roof. A remodel can cost 25 to 50 percent less than an addition. For example, a kitchen remodel may meet your needs. Maybe the attic or basement could be converted into additional living space. Tearing down walls or removing a closet or staircase can improve traffic flow throughout the house. If you decide that an addition is the best route, a general contractor can help you plan the next steps. 

Decide the Purpose and Type of Addition  

The best type of addition will depend on the purpose of the addition. Do you want to add more room for kids to play? Does the kitchen seem cramped and crowded? 

Once you’ve decided on the purpose, you can choose the right type of addition for your needs. Sometimes, less is more when it comes to adding space. A bump-out, for example, is a cost-effective way to add a narrow space without the need for a new foundation or roofing. Consider a bump-out if you want to add an eating area to a kitchen or extra storage room in a closet. 

Another important consideration is the effect of the addition on property value and return on investment (ROI). For example, Home Advisor notes that master bedroom suites produce an average 63 percent ROI, while second-story additions typically bring in a 65 percent ROI. You should also compare your planned addition with other homes in the neighborhood. If your property becomes overvalued in a moderately priced area, you won’t be able to recoup your investment.

Choose Materials that Blend with Existing Home

You’ll want the addition to look like it’s part of the original home. If the home has double-hung windows and vinyl siding, then the addition should have similar features. If you can’t find an exact match, look for comparable alternatives. A general contractor can help you choose materials, such as siding, roofing, trim, windows and flooring, that will integrate with the existing structure.  

Hire an Experienced General Contractor  

A licensed general contractor can assemble and oversee the work team and get the required permits for your home addition plans. With more than a decade of general contracting and project development experience, RH Blanchard will guide you through every step of your project. Get in touch today for a free quote.

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How to Mix and Match Laminate Flooring (Without Overdoing It)

October 18th, 2021 |

So you’re thinking about installing laminate flooring but can’t settle on just one color. When you know how to mix and match laminate flooring, you can use multiple colors, shapes, and sizes with elegant results. Whether you choose laminate tile or wood laminate planks, now is the time to get creative. 

Complement Existing Flooring

All of those color choices are tempting, but you don’t want to end up with too much of a good thing. One way to avoid overdoing it is to install new flooring that complements existing flooring in your home. Do you plan to install new laminate planks next to an older wood laminate floor? A good strategy is to match the faded color of the older flooring. If you can’t find a match, you can install t-molding between the spaces to create a smooth transition. 

Experiment With Patterns

You can create a simple, pleasing pattern without getting too complicated. All it takes is a focal design in the center of the floor and a pattern in the remaining space. You can choose from a variety of classic patterns, such as herringbone.  

Start your design by dividing the floor into quarters and placing the first plank or tile on the center point where the four quarters meet. Experiment by arranging loose flooring around the center piece until you have a pattern that you like. Create a simple pattern for a small room and save the complex patterns for larger rooms. When you are satisfied with the pattern, install the laminate flooring with adhesives recommended by the manufacturer. 

Add a Border

A border is a great way to mix laminate flooring without looking too busy. If adjoining rooms have different color flooring, choose a trim that coordinates with both colors. For example, a dark brown border works well between rooms with light brown wood laminate flooring.  

With laminate tiles, you can get creative by using different colors or shapes in the border. A bold, contrasting color will work well if you limit it to the border. You can also lay the border tiles or planks in a different direction from those in the main floor.

Mix Colors Sparingly  

Before you buy your new flooring, test different color combinations. Look for colors that coordinate, and avoid colors that clash. A good rule of thumb is to use no more than three colors in one room. 

If you’re mixing laminate tiles, keep it subtle by adding a few different shades of the same color. Let’s say you are installing mostly light grey tiles. You can add interest and depth by randomly adding a few medium to dark grey tiles. 

Another way to use color is to install one color in the main floor and add a harmonizing color for the border. Limit bold or contrasting colors to a few accent tiles or trim. 

Is it time to install new laminate flooring? Have more questions about how to mix and match laminate flooring? At RH Blanchard, our general contracting professionals are ready to complete your Boston area flooring project. If you’d like a free quote, contact us today.

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6 Home Improvements That Build Equity

October 6th, 2021 |

Part of owning investment property is making necessary improvements. Exterior improvements make a positive first impression, while interior renovations help create a comfortable home. In the Boston area, there are many home improvements that build equity and bring a handsome return on investment (ROI).  Below you’ll find six remodel ideas for your investment property.

Garage Door Replacement

Leading the list of top home improvements for ROI is garage door replacement. Besides the obvious curb appeal, this renovation can improve security and energy efficiency. Garage doors are available in a variety of materials and styles, including:  

  • Contemporary glass and aluminum
  • Carriage house style
  • Raised panel
  • Steel

In the Boston area, a new garage door brings in an average of 106% ROI. That’s a home improvement worth considering! 

Landscaping

Landscaping is a relatively inexpensive way to improve the resale value of your property. For example, you can replace unsightly weeds and overgrown shrubs with colorful flowering perennials of varying heights. With an average cost of $3,500 for landscaping and $1,500 for 1,000 square feet of sod, the 100% ROI makes landscaping an attractive option. 

Siding Replacement  

Siding replacement can be pricey, but the 79-80% ROI certainly helps. Vinyl siding is easy to clean and maintain and is available in many styles, from clapboard to scalloped. Regular pressure washing will keep vinyl siding looking fresh for years.  

Durable and relatively maintenance-free, fiber cement siding is an attractive alternative to wood or stucco. You don’t have to worry about termites, moisture, or fire with this siding. Whether you chose vinyl or fiber cement siding, you will be adding curb appeal as well as resale value to your property. 

Window Replacement  

New windows are a great way to update and refresh a home’s exterior and exterior appearance. Vinyl or wood replacement windows can add value to a home in several ways: 

  • Curb appeal
  • Energy efficiency 
  • Reduced carbon footprint 

For Boston-area property investors, vinyl replacement windows provide a 78% ROI. Wood replacement windows typically bring in 71% ROI

Minor Kitchen Remodel 

If you’re happy with your property’s curb appeal, you may want to opt for a kitchen renovation. After all, the kitchen is a central part of home life. Could your cabinets use a touch-up? A minor kitchen remodel can result in a 67% ROI in the Boston area. Examples of minor renovations include

  • New cabinets
  • Painted cabinets 
  • Granite, stone or glass countertops
  • Recessed lighting 
  • New backsplash 
  • New faucets 

Minor Bathroom Remodel

A bathroom can be a calming personal oasis, so it deserves attention. Whether it’s a fresh coat of paint or a new tub, a minor bathroom remodel can provide a 60% ROI. The smallest touches can make a big difference in a bathroom. Examples include 

  • Tub replacement 
  • Reglazed tub
  • Painted walls
  • Tile surround
  • Shower doors
  • Updated Fixtures 

Talk to a General Contractor 

At R.H. Blanchard we’re happy to help with exterior and interior home improvements that build equity. Ask us for a free consultation, and find out about our 15-plus years of general contracting experience.

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5 Rental Property Investment Opportunities in Massachusetts

September 21st, 2021 |

Whether you’re a novice property investor or a veteran, you’ll find plenty of rental property investment opportunities in Massachusetts. Below are five communities with healthy housing and rental markets.

Quincy

Rich in American history as well as home values, Quincy is another Boston suburb with a booming housing market. Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams were born there, resulting in the nickname “City of Presidents.” In July 2021, the average home sale price rose to $570,000 — an increase of 7.8 percent over the previous year. Houses are on the market for an average of 20 days.

The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment rose 2 percent to $2,000, while the average four-bedroom jumped a whopping 37 percent to $4,450. This is a market worthy of a property investor’s attention! 

Lynn

Lynn is another city that enjoys job growth and high demand for homes. The city’s rapidly developing economy includes companies such as Walsh Oil and Bent Water Brewing Company. The average home sale price jumped 19.8 percent to $385,000 from 2020 to 2021. Homes average 20 days on the market as of August 2021. Similarly, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment rose 18 percent to $1775. The average two-bedroom rent rose 8 percent to $2,000. 

Worcester 

Located 40 miles west of Boston, Worcester enjoys a robust housing and rental market. Locals call the city “the heart of Massachusetts,” and the investment picture will surely capture your heart as well. In July 2021, Worcester’s home prices had increased 30.3 percent, with a median sale price of $367,500. Properties spent an average of 19 days on the market. You won’t have to wait long to benefit from the average $1,505 rent per two-bedroom.  

Taunton

For investment property opportunities, you’ll want to check out the city of Taunton. Located 40 miles south of Boston, Taunton boasts a healthy investment climate. According to TurboTenant, the city boasts a 0.6 percent population growth and 1.1 percent employment growth as of 2019. Home prices have risen 25.6 percent in 2021, with a median sale price of $418,000. And those properties sell fast, with an average of 20 days on the market. 

Although the average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment has flattened, Taunton continues to have a healthy market. Rent for a two-bedroom apartment rose by 5 percent to $1,600 between July and August 2021.

Newton 

A suburb of Boston, Newton has all the ingredients for a robust rental market. As of 2019, its population was 89,000, and people continue to move to this city to take advantage of its job growth. As people move to Newton, the city’s demand for houses and apartments continues to increase. The median home value is $1,390,000 and rising. From July to August 2021, the median two-bedroom apartment rent increased by 1 percent to $2,525. 

General Contracting for Rental Properties

Once you’ve found the ideal rental property, you may want to do some remodeling. RH Blanchard will put its 10-plus years of general contracting experience to work for you. Contact us when you’re ready for a free consultation.

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Investment Properties 101: High-End Bathroom Remodel Cost

September 8th, 2021 |

A bathroom remodel is a sure way to add pizzazz to your Boston-area investment property. Creating a luxurious, relaxing oasis requires specialized work, such as plumbing and electrical. Of course, the necessary skilled labor and quality materials add up to higher costs. Below are some average prices to help you understand a high-end bathroom remodel cost.

Average High-End Bathroom Remodel Cost 

The total price for a bathroom remodel depends on size, materials, type of work, and other factors. Complex work such as relocating fixtures or increasing the bathroom’s footprint can increase the price. The average high-end bathroom remodel costs run from $50,000 to $65,000, with labor accounting for 60 to 70 percent of the final price. The good news is that your return on investment can be as high as 70 percent upon resale of your property.

Fixtures

Any bathroom remodel is bound to include fixtures. Whether it’s a double sink or a walk-in shower with multiple rain shower heads, new fixtures can update the look and functionality of a bathroom. For a high-end bathroom remodel, fixtures are a significant part of the cost.

  • Bathtub — $6,000 to $8,000
  • Shower — $6,000 to $8,000
  • Toilet — $550 to $780
  • Sink — $3,500 to $5,500

Flooring and Walls

Updated walls or flooring can add drama and transform a bathroom’s appearance. You can choose from a variety of tiles and hardwoods to create the luxury look you want. Radiant floor heating is a welcome addition on those cold winter mornings. Here are some examples of flooring costs including labor: 

  • Porcelain floor or wall tile — $12 to $19 per square foot
  • Natural stone floor tile — $13 to $20 per square foot 
  • Hardwood flooring— $6 to $12 per square foot
  • Radiant floor heat — $6 to $16 per square foot

Custom Vanity

Custom cabinets add quality craftsmanship that you won’t find in pre-made cabinets. Are you considering traditional style, or do you prefer a distressed, rustic vibe? A skilled cabinetmaker can create the look you want. Luxury custom cabinets can cost up to $8,000 to $13,000, depending on the size, materials and work involved: 

A stunning countertop makes a high-end bathroom remodel complete. From water-resistant quartz to durable concrete, a wide range of luxury countertop materials are available: 

  • Granite slab — $40 to $60 per square foot
  • Quartz — $75 per square foot
  • Cultured marble — $65 per square foot
  • Concrete — $65 to $135 per square foot
  • Composite stone — $75 to $120

How Long Will the Remodel Take?

Before construction begins, you’ll meet with the general contractor to discuss your design ideas, budget and schedule. From design to completion, a high-end bathroom remodel can take weeks or months. The actual timeframe varies according to the scope and complexity of the work. 

  • Design — 1 to 4 weeks
  • Gathering and ordering materials — 1 to 8 weeks
  • Construction and cleanup — 2 to 5 weeks

Call the Experts

A high-end bathroom remodel demands the highest skill and best quality materials. How do 10-plus years of experience sound? Contact RH Blanchard for a free quote, and find out why Boston-area investment property owners choose us!

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The Importance of Curb Appeal for Split-Level Investment Properties

August 25th, 2021 |

When it comes to curb appeal, split-level properties can be challenging. Sloping yards and multiple levels require specialized landscaping techniques. As an investment property owner, you want to maximize your ROI. From erosion control to strategic plantings, implementing the right split-level home landscaping ideas can make your property more marketable and improve ROI.

Erosion Control and Slope Stabilization

It may not sound glamorous, but erosion control should be your first priority. Split-level homes often have sloping yards that need stabilization. Rainwater flows down the slopes and can result in soil erosion, foundation damage, wet basement and other problems. Plants with deep, extensive root systems slow the speed of flowing water and help prevent erosion. Choose stabilizing grasses, ground covers and low-growing shrubs such as

  • Fescue
  • Muhly grass
  • Creeping juniper
  • Creeping phlox
  • Cotoneaster

Slopes that are greater than 3:1 will need more than plants for stabilization. If the slope is steep enough, you may need to install some hardscape, such as

  • Retaining walls
  • Drainpipe 
  • Boulders
  • Stairs

Erosion control takes time and effort. However, it can save you money in the long run by preventing water damage to your investment property. 

Balance the Levels

One way to add curb appeal is to balance the appearance of the different levels. Consider planting a 20- to 30-foot tree behind the shorter section of the home or at each corner of the home. You can choose from many trees that thrive in the Boston area, such as 

  • Paperbark maple
  • American hornbeam
  • Kousa dogwood
  • American smoketree

A specimen plant can add a balancing focal point to the end of the driveway. Attractive shrubs that add texture and color to the landscape include

  • Panicle hydrangea 
  • Beautybush
  • Smoke bush
  • Purple beautyberry  

Spruce Up the Front Entry

With creative use of space and plantings, you can transform the front entry from flat and boring to intimate and inviting. Many shrubs and hedges make excellent privacy screens, while a trellis can hold flowering vines. Plants that can spruce up the front entry include 

  • Boxwood shrubs
  • Privet hedges
  • Clematis vine
  • Climbing rose

Add a couple of chairs and you have a tranquil space that looks charming from the street. 

Smooth Transition Between Levels

You can add curb appeal by smoothing out the transition between levels. For example, a retaining wall can look harsh or abrupt. You can soften that look by planting cascading vines in beds on top of the walls. Great choices include 

  • Sweet potato vine
  • English ivy
  • Wave petunia
  • Trailing lobelia

Yard Maintenance

You can’t beat good old-fashioned yard maintenance for improving curb appeal. Picture your split-level property through the eyes of a potential buyer or renter. Nothing makes a better statement than a neat, cared-for yard and entry. The following tasks should be done on a regular basis:

  • Rake leaves
  • Remove dead plant debris
  • Prune shrubs and trees
  • Mow lawn
  • Weed planting beds

Experienced General Contractors  

For over a decade, investment property owners in the Boston area have relied on RH Blanchard for general contracting services. We combine the skills and experience needed to manage large and small projects alike. To learn more about split-level home landscaping ideas and other tips for investment properties, contact us today for a free consultation.

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What to Look for in Your General Contractor Agreement

August 11th, 2021 |

When it’s time to begin a construction project, you don’t want to leave anything to chance. From payments to materials, it’s best to get the general contracting details in writing. Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you know what to look for in a general contractor agreement.

Types of Contracts

The format of your contract will depend on personal preference and project details. There are four types of construction contracts:

  • Fixed-price or lump sum for the entire project 
  • Cost-plus, which includes cost of materials plus labor
  • Time and material, with an hourly or daily fee
  • Unit-pricing, often used for bidding on government projects

Clear Language  

A contract may be a legal document, but it need not contain complex legal jargon. The language should be clear and easy to read. The only requirement is that you and the general contractor understand and agree on the expectations that are set out in the agreement. 

Licensing and Insurance

Each state has certain licensing requirements for general contractors. For specialized work, such as plumbing, additional requirements may apply. Make sure that your agreement includes contractor license numbers. In the Boston area, you can verify a contractor’s license with the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulation and Standards.  

A reputable general contractor will carry liability and workman’s compensation insurance to cover injury and property damage. A general contractor agreement should provide detailed information about insurance policies. 

Project Description and Timeframe

Whether it’s a complex remodel or a straightforward kitchen counter replacement, you’ll want to get every step in writing. Details should include  

  • Removals and demolitions
  • Installations
  • Finishing work
  • Cost and quantity of materials 
  • Additional cost coverage for mistakes by subcontractors
  • Worker access to bathrooms, refrigerator and other facilities 
  • How and when workers will clean up the project site

You and your contractor must also agree on the timeframe of the project. The start date and estimated length of time for the project should be in writing to keep the contractors accountable to you. 

Payment Schedule

To avoid billing disputes, make sure that the payment schedule is clearly outlined in the agreement. Some contractors ask for half the total payment before the start date. Others tie the payment schedule to project milestones. Never make a payment in full before project completion. 

Lien Waivers and Warranties

To ensure that you make payments on time, a contractor may place a builder’s lien on your property at the start of the project. As each subcontractor completes their work, they should give you a signed waiver releasing their claim on your property. Your agreement should include a provision for obtaining these lien waivers. 

A general contractor should offer a warranty that covers certain defects in completed work. Make sure that the agreement explains which defects are covered and how long they are covered. 

Hire Experienced Professionals

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