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Laundry Room Remodeling: An Unexpected Investment

March 16th, 2023 |

The laundry room has evolved from a forgotten basement corner to a stylish yet functional part of the home. Upgrades can save space and make laundry day more convenient. In this blog post, we list remodel ideas and explain why a laundry room remodel should be on the agenda for your investment property.

Folding Station

A folding station next to the washer or dryer can save space and time. You can move clean laundry from the dryer to the countertop in one easy step. You can include other features to create a multipurpose folding station. A hanging rack or coat hooks, for example, let you hang shirts to prevent wrinkling. Rolling storage bins can fit in the space beneath the countertop. 

Generous Storage Space

Whether it’s cabinets or open shelves, storage space lets you keep laundry essentials within reach. There’s no need to hunt for dryer sheets, stain remover or fabric softener when you can keep the laundry room organized. While you’re at it, make the storage area attractive as well as functional with a fresh coat of brightly colored paint. 

Colorful Tile

A laundry room does not have to look drab. Consider jazzing up the space with some multicolored tile. A brightly patterned tile wall or floor adds cheer to the room, making sorting and folding a little more pleasant. Ceramic tile is an excellent choice for the laundry room because it is water-resistant, slip-resistant and easily cleaned with a wet cloth. 

Utility Sink

Not all laundry items are machine washable. A utility sink lets you wash delicate items without leaving the laundry room. Keep hand wash supplies in a convenient space on a shelf or in a bin. The utility sink also makes it easy to clean the laundry room when needed.  

Wood Tones

Wood accents add warmth to any space, so why not make the laundry room more inviting? For example, wood cabinet doors combined with white appliances and a black tile floor can transform the space from utilitarian to downright stylish. Choose from a wide range of hardwoods, such as oak, cherry or maple. Wood is compatible with many styles, from contemporary to rustic farmhouse.  

Convenient Location

It’s not easy to fit laundry into a busy schedule, especially when you must run upstairs to pick up bathroom towels you forgot. Make laundry day easier by placing the laundry room in a location that will save steps. Renters or buyers will appreciate having their washer and dryer near bedrooms or closets. Get creative by building the laundry in an unusual spot, such as the cozy space under the eaves.  

Return on Investment 

The cost for a laundry room remodel depends on the type of work involved. For example, a countertop can cost an average of $300 to $1400, while flooring will run you an average of $280 to $840. The average ROI of 50% to 75%, however, can make the investment worthwhile.  

Ready to remodel that laundry room in your Boston-area investment property? Contact RH Blanchard for a free quote from our general contracting team.

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How to Stage Your Investment Property

March 8th, 2023 |

When it’s time to sell, you want the best price for your investment property. Home staging can make your property stand out. According to the National Association of Realtors, 23 percent of sellers said that staged homes received 1 to 5 percent higher offers than non-staged homes. How does home staging work? Read on to find out. 


Getting rid of clutter lets you dramatically improve your property’s appearance without spending a fortune. The last thing you want potential renters to see is stacks of paper and crowded counter space. Consider putting extra furniture and accumulated garage junk in storage. You can always sort through stuff later. Right now, focus on decluttering your property. 

Keep it Clean

Now is the time to do that deep cleaning. Sparkling clean rooms create a positive first impression. Make those windows shine, dust the furniture, polish the floors and steam clean the carpet. Even door knobs and light switches need attention. Let potential renters or buyers see that you take care of your property. The last thing you want them to notice is a stained carpet or a collection of dust bunnies under the sofa. 

Choose the Right Color Scheme

Your rental doesn’t have to be awash in neutral tones, but a monochromatic color scheme, such as soothing shades of blue, is usually appropriate. Prospective renters can view the home as a whole without being distracted by a particular wall or ceiling. On the other hand, you may want to be a bit more adventurous with colors if your property sits in an arts district. 

Enhance Lighting

You want every room in the property to look bright and inviting. Make the most of your available natural light by washing the windows and opening the blinds. For lamps and ceiling lighting, choose higher-temperature LED bulbs that mimic the look of daylight. Maximize the sunny effect by cleaning your light fixtures. 

Repair and Refresh

Walk through your property and take note of items that need repairs. Make sure all light fixtures and bulbs work. Refresh the living room with new sofa cushions, or update the bedroom with a new comforter. Have pets scratched or chewed on the furniture? Could the walls use a new coat of paint? Simple repairs can make a big difference when staging a home.  

Remember Curb Appeal 

Of course, people will see the exterior of your property before they can enjoy the monochromatic color scheme and spiffed-up carpet. Therefore, don’t forget to consider curb appeal when staging your investment property.  

First, stand at the curb in front of the home and look for areas that need improvement. Check the lawn, planting beds, and front entry. The exterior walls, patio, and driveway could probably use good pressure washing. Mow the lawn, pull weeds, put down fresh mulch, trim the shrubs, and paint the front door. While you’re at it, a new mailbox and doormat wouldn’t hurt. 

How does home staging work? The general contracting professionals at RH Blanchard can answer your questions and make your Boston-area investment property shine. For a free quote, get in touch today!

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Pet-Friendly Remodeling: 7 Ideas to Keep in Mind for Your Furry Friends

February 14th, 2023 |

Pets are a growing trend in American households. A 2021-2022 survey found that 70 percent of US households include pets. A pet-friendly home keeps your four-legged family members happy. Plus, your home may appeal to pet owners if you decide to sell. Learn more from these 7 tips!

1. Sleep Nook 

Give your dog or cat a cozy space with a built-in bed. Whether under a stairwell or incorporated in a cabinet, your pet can get away from it all without feeling isolated. You won’t have that dog crate or cat bed taking up floor space. Build the bed at floor level or install a ramp for older pets.  

2. Feeding Station

If you’re remodeling your kitchen, why not add a feeding station for your pet? You can install it below the cabinets or at the end of the island. Include a bottom shelf for food and water bowls, drawers, and shelves to store food and treats. The feeding station can be located off the kitchen to avoid crowding if you have large dogs or multiple pets. 

3. Mud Room With Storage

Connect your front entry to a mud room that can withstand muddy paws and wet fur. Install shelves, cabinets, or hooks to leashes, toys, bags, and towels within easy reach. Pets shake out their fur when they come in from the rain, so the floor and walls should be water-resistant. 

4. Pet-Washing Station

Why struggle to lift your dog into a sink or tub when you can have a specially designed pet-washing station? Many people are opting for this pet-friendly home feature. It is about half as high as a shower stall, including a sprayer, floor drain, and storage shelves. The laundry room, mud room, or bathroom are ideal locations for a pet-washing station.

5. Pet Door

When you install a pet door, your dog or cat can go outside and back indoors on their own. That means you don’t have to worry about getting home in time to let them out. Without assistance, your pet can enjoy the fresh air or return indoors if it’s too cold or hot.  

6. Screened-In Porch

For a little more security, create a screened-in porch with a comfy bed for Fido or Fluffy. When you’re not home, your pet can safely relax in the sunshine and watch the world go by. Consider installing a tile floor to keep your pet cool. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that your pet is safe and happy when they’re alone. 

7. Cat Walkway  

Cats love to observe the world from elevated perches. Besides the usual “kitty condos,” you can install a cat walkway with on-and-off ramps. Install the walkway above eye level and the ramps no higher than two feet off the floor. Unvarnished wood is an ideal material because it is less slippery than plastic. 

The general contracting professionals at RH Blanchard can make your home a haven for your dog or cat. Contact us today for a free quote.

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8 Must-Know Tips to Make Your Whole-Home Remodel a Success

February 8th, 2023 |

Are you considering a whole-home remodel? From design to building codes, there are many factors to consider. Read the following tips for a successful remodel.

#1 Decide How to Fund Your Remodel

Depending on the work involved, the average cost of a whole-home remodel ranges from $18,000 to $165,000 or more. Cash and liquid assets are a great resource for funding your whole-home remodel. However, you can apply for a loan if you don’t already have the funds.. A home equity loan lets you use your remodeled home as collateral. The main drawback is you could lose the home if your payments are late. Credit cards are less desirable due to high interest rates. If you borrow from family or friends, make sure you have a clear repayment plan. 

#2 Hire Experienced Design-Build Contractors  

Reliable design-build contractors are indispensable for a large remodel project. Your best bet is to hire an experienced and skilled in-house team. A design-build team will have an organized system and efficient workflow. On the other hand, you may want to hire individual subcontractors if you need specialized work, such as a kitchen remodel. 

#3 Choose Your Style

Now is the time to rethink your home’s style and interior design. Is there a particular style — such as farmhouse, Early American, or mid-century modern — that you prefer? Areas where people gather, such as the living room and kitchen, should have the same theme. Discuss your style preferences with your design-build contractor. 

#4 Understand the Structural Requirements

Your whole-home remodel must meet local structural requirements. Any changes to the home must not interfere with the structural support of the building. The remodel must adhere to your area’s building code and other requirements.

#5 Apply for Permits 

Speaking of building codes, you’ll want to apply for the required permits as soon as possible. You don’t want to delay your project while you wait weeks or months for permit approvals. Plumbing, electrical and structural changes are examples of projects that need permits. General contractors will often do the paperwork for you. 

#6 Budget for Unexpected Issues

An extensive remodel is almost guaranteed to run into unexpected issues. Even the best plans can be sidetracked by complications, whether it’s plumbing or foundation problems. To avoid panic, make room for the unexpected in your budget and timeline. 

#7 Factor in Utilities

Your utilities may partially determine the extent of your remodel. Water, gas, or electrical systems have requirements that may limit some structural changes. Consult an experienced contractor about utilities in the early planning stages.

#8 Plan for the Future  

Keep the future in mind when planning a whole-home remodel. For example, current and future tenants will have to live with the remodel results. Will upgrades be necessary if you sell the property in the future?

At RH Blanchard, our experienced general contracting team is ready to get started on your Boston-area remodel. Contact us today for a free quote!

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Best Neighborhoods to Live in Boston

January 17th, 2023 |

You can’t beat Boston neighborhoods for history, charm, and culture. Property investors, however, must consider many other factors when looking for the best neighborhoods to live in. What is the likely return on investment (ROI)? Are home prices and rents increasing year-over-year (YOY)? The following sections look at 6 investment-worthy Boston neighborhoods. 

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Tips for Working With a General Contractor for Home Renovations (and What Not to Do)

December 21st, 2022 |

You’re eager to begin that upgrade for your investment property. But it’s important to know what to do and what not to do when planning a renovation. Before you start, read these tips on working with a general contractor for home renovation. 

What to Do When Working with a General Contractor

The first step is to hire a licensed and insured general contractor. You can verify the license in Massachusetts with the Board of Building Regulations and Standards. Then you and your general contractor must agree on certain details of the project. 

Agree to a Timeline

A timeline is important for accountability and for completing the project on schedule. You and the general contractor make a list of deadlines for specific stages of the renovation and periodically check the list. List the deadlines in chronological order and post the timeline at the job site. 

Receive Regularly Scheduled Updates

Your general contractor must be willing to communicate with you on a regular basis. Find out how the contractor prefers to provide updates. Have them contact you at a specific time, such as daily emails or phone calls. Transparent communication helps the job run smoothly and cuts down on stress for everyone. 

Ask How They Work with Subcontractors

A general contractor for a home renovation will likely hire subcontractors, such as electricians or plumbers. Make sure you ask how the subcontractors will be managed and how your concerns will be communicated. Always verify that subcontractors have valid licenses and insurance.  

Get a Detailed Quote and Contract 

Before work begins, make sure you have an itemized quote and written contract. The quote should include specific materials and brands you have chosen. The contract should include the start and projected completion dates, items that are included and excluded and how funds will be spent.   

Prepare for Unexpected Issues 

Even the most carefully planned renovation can hit a snag. Examples include storm-related delays, backordered materials and foundation issues. To keep the project on track, it’s important to budget and plan for unexpected problems. 

What Not to Do When Working with a General Contractor

Knowing what not to do can mean the difference between a successful home renovation and a nightmare.

Hire Based on Cheapest Price

The lowest price is not always the best choice for home renovations. If a contractor quotes a below-average price, they may dramatically increase the price during the project. Also remember that part of the price covers a contractor’s license fees and insurance premiums. An unusually low bid may mean the contractor is not licensed or insured.

Pay Upfront 

Down payments are fine, but you should never pay the entire price upfront. You can also make scheduled payments as the renovation progresses. However, if a contractor insists on full payment upfront, you should find another contractor.  

Hire Without a Contract 

A signed contract is the only acceptable way to do business with a general contractor for home renovation. Get the details in writing to ensure the project is completed on time and as agreed. Never hire based on a verbal agreement. 

We’re proud of our skilled and dependable general contracting team at RH Blanchard. Contact us and get a free quote for your Boston-area renovation.

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6 Must-Do Updates for Your Apartment Investment Property

December 8th, 2022 |

You want your Boston-area apartment investment property to look its best for prospective tenants. The right update can save you money or allow you to charge a higher rent. The following upgrades can refresh your property and boost your return on investment (ROI).

1. Update the Kitchen

You don’t have to spend a fortune on a complete kitchen renovation. Instead, consider adding a few upgrades. For example, replace cabinet doors and hardware instead of installing new cabinets. Add a tile backsplash or replace an old faucet with a modern fixture. Replacing kitchen countertops can account for up to 11 percent of total rent increases, according to the National Apartment Association (NAA).

Granite countertops may be attractive, but you may not be able to recoup the cost in that neighborhood. Formica laminate is heat resistant, lasts up to 20 years, and is less expensive so it helps your ROI.

2. Replace Bathroom Vanity 

A vanity combines a mirror, sink, countertop, and a cabinet or drawers for storage. For a cost-effective upgrade, consider replacing an old, worn-out vanity with a dramatically different style or color. You can even spruce up the existing vanity by replacing the sink fixtures, hardware, or mirror frame. An upgraded vanity can improve the look of an entire bathroom.

3. Install New Flooring

Let’s face it, genuine hardwood flooring is expensive and you may not be able to recover the cost in your apartment investment property market. Laminate flooring is an attractive, cost-effective alternative. Unlike genuine hardwood, it’s moisture-proof and scratch-resistant. Small sections of laminate flooring can be replaced or repaired, and it’s easy to keep clean. 

4. Add Lighting

You can’t beat lighting for creating an appealing living space. Lighting is one of the first things a potential tenant will see when looking at your property. You can make a great first impression by upgrading the lighting. Options include

  • Ambient lighting for general illumination, such as ceiling lights and wall sconces.
  • Accent lighting that highlights certain areas, such as track lighting or a spotlight on artwork.
  • Task lighting for work areas, such as a kitchen counter.
  • Dimmers that adjust the brightness of lighting.

5. Switch to Energy-Efficient Appliances 

You can save yourself or your tenant’s money on utility bills if you opt for energy-efficient appliances. You will also increase the likelihood of finding a renter since green features are highly valued by prospective tenants. According to the National Apartment Association, up to 16 percent of total rent increases are attributable to energy-efficient appliances.

Look for Energy-Star-certified models when replacing a refrigerator, washer and dryer and other large appliances. Energy-Star products meet strict energy-efficiency standards set by the US Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

6. Upgrade Windows 

Another potential energy-saver is to upgrade the windows. If you’ve ever felt a draft near an old window, you can understand the importance of installing new windows. When cold or warm air seeps in from outdoors, heating and cooling bills go up. 

Double-pane windows are a great choice for an apartment upgrade. They help maintain a consistent indoor temperature and keep out noise, too.

RH Blanchard can provide expert general contracting services for your apartment investment property. Request a free quote today!

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6 Green Building Designs for a More Sustainable Property

November 17th, 2022 |

You can make your investment property more eco-friendly and energy-efficient when you opt for sustainable upgrades. We’ve listed six green building design ideas in the following sections, from solar panels to reclaimed building materials.

1. Solar Panels 

Solar panels can be a worthwhile investment when you consider energy savings, rebates, and tax incentives. The greater the roof area, the greater your return on investment (ROI). For example, solar panels on a 10,000-square-foot roof can save up to $44,000 in energy costs per year. The federal tax credit will be 30% for solar panel installations in 2022-2032, 26% in 2033, and 22% in 2034. It is scheduled to expire in 2035. Many solar panels come with a 10-year manufacturer warranty and a 25-year warranty against generation loss. 

2. Rainwater Harvesting

With the water supply dwindling in many regions, rainwater harvesting is an important green building design option. As rainwater runs off the roof, it flows through drain pipes and is filtered and collected in a tank. The water is suitable for various uses, from irrigation to washing clothes. It is best to avoid drinking, brushing your teeth or cooking with rainwater, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Besides lowering your water bill, rainwater harvesting can help prevent sewer spillage during storms.   

3. Tankless Water Heater 

Instead of storing and heating gallons of water in a tank, a tankless water heater heats only on demand. It can cost up to $5000 to purchase and install, but the energy savings add up to an attractive ROI. Your energy bills can drop by 20 to 50 percent after installation. Tankless water heaters can last up to 20 years and take up less space than a traditional water heater.  

4. Energy-Efficient Lighting 

Energy-efficient lighting can be a relatively simple green building design upgrade. Simply installing LED light bulbs can reduce home energy bills by an average of $225 per year. To increase natural light, you can make other changes, such as installing skylights, glass doors, or large windows. 

5. Energy-Efficient Windows and Doors

Besides increasing light, windows and doors can also help regulate interior temperatures. Energy-efficient windows keep cooled or heated air inside the home, reducing the work of heating and cooling systems. That’s a big help when you consider that poorly sealed windows and doors lose up to 30 percent of home energy.  

If you’d rather not replace your windows and doors, you can seal them to improve energy efficiency. Caulking, weatherstripping, and glaze are effective options. South-facing windows can help heat the home in the winter. During the summer months, cover the windows with shades or curtains to keep the room cool. 

6. Reclaimed Materials  

Why not reduce waste and save money during your next renovation project? You can use recycled or reclaimed flooring, wood beams, doors, and other building materials. Ask your design-build team about reclaimed materials that can be used for your project.

At RH Blanchard, our general contracting experts can help you add green design features to your Boston-area investment property. Contact us and get a free quote.

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7 Winter Maintenance Tips for New England Homeowners

November 9th, 2022 |

Is your New England home or investment property ready for winter? A winter home maintenance checklist can help keep your tenants comfortable and prevent costly repairs. Now that temperatures are falling, you’ll want to read the following tips. 

1. Finish Fall Cleanup

Now is the time to cross off any remaining tasks on your fall cleanup list. Finish pruning, raking, and disposing of leaves and dead branches. You’ll want to do this before snow covers those piles of plant debris and freezes solid. 

2. Check Fire and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Cold New England winters mean closed windows, a running furnace, and an oven baking all those holiday cookies. To protect the health and safety of your tenants, install or inspect smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Change the batteries and make sure the alarms are working properly. If you haven’t installed them, you can buy smoke alarms and UL-listed carbon monoxide detectors at home improvement stores. 

While at it, ensure all fire extinguishers are in working order. Your tenants should be able to easily access extinguishers near stoves, fireplaces, or other fire-susceptible areas. 

3. Seal Windows and Other Leakage Points

From windows and doors to outlets and light switches, air leakage points can cause heat loss in a home. Check for air leaks or drafts around windows and doors. Replace cracked or worn caulking or weatherstripping. Gaps around electrical outlets and switches can be sealed with caulk and aerosol foam. 

4. Prepare Exterior Pipes

Frozen pipes will burst and cause flooding — a costly but preventable headache. Pipes in unheated areas, such as the garage or basement, should be insulated. Drain your outdoor sprinkler system, disconnect garden hoses and close and cover all outdoor faucets.   

5. Schedule Electrical and Heating System Tune-Ups 

Before the winter chill sets in, electrical and heating system tune-ups are critical items on your winter home maintenance checklist.  A licensed electrician can check and repair issues with power flow, sparking, and worn or damaged wires.  

A reputable HVAC technician can inspect your heating system, replace filters and make any needed tune-ups. For example, you should have a gas heating system cleaned every three years, and a boiler system cleaned every year.

6. Flush and Insulate Hot Water Tank 

Sediment builds up over time in a hot water tank. Flushing the tank should be a regular part of winter preparation. After flushing, you can keep the water heater warm by placing an insulated blanket around it. This step can help lower your energy bills during the cold weather. 

7. Inspect Roof and Gutters 

A damaged roof can cause serious problems during the winter months. Melting snow can leak into walls and cause structural damage to the building. A professional roofing contractor can inspect your roof and repair damaged shingles or other issues. You should also ensure gutters are cleaned to allow drainage and protect the roof from damage.  

The general contracting professionals at RH Blanchard can help you complete your winter home maintenance checklist. Get in touch today for a free quote.

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