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Eucalyptus Flooring: Pros and Cons

July 22nd, 2021 |

Eucalyptus is an exotic and economical flooring option for investment property. There are three types of eucalyptus flooring: engineered, solid plank, and strand-woven, which is the toughest. Strand woven boards are made from woven strips of eucalyptus that are compressed under heat and high pressure. Available in a wide range of styles and colors, eucalyptus flooring is an attractive choice. 

Pros

A eucalyptus floor has many advantages, from durability to easy care. 

Durable and Moisture Tolerant

If a floor takes a beating from foot traffic or kids and pets at play, consider installing eucalyptus. Strand-woven is exceptionally durable, rating 3,000 to 5,000 on the Janka hardness scale. Red oak rates only 1,200 and hickory rates 1,800. Eucalyptus trees grow in humid regions and tolerate moisture very well. Eucalyptus is an excellent choice for flooring in humid and rainy locations. 

Affordable 

Eucalyptus flooring costs about half as much as most hardwood varieties. It can be harvested within 3 to 10 years, compared with 20 to 50 years for many hardwoods. Its fast growth rate makes eucalyptus a highly renewable resource and helps keep prices down. Available at $5 to $7 per square foot, this alternative flooring will help your bottom line.  

Easy Installation and Care

This type of flooring is relatively easy to install. Traditional and strand-woven planks are both available in tongue-and-groove form; strand-woven is also available in click-and-lock form. Both forms can be installed using the float, nail down or glue down methods. 

With its durability and moisture tolerance, eucalyptus requires little maintenance. A weekly sweep or vacuum usually does the job. For occasional deeper cleaning, use a damp mop with a hardwood floor cleaning product. 

Sustainable  

Another advantage to eucalyptus is its sustainability. With responsible planting and harvesting, eucalyptus forests continually replenish themselves. The trees also tolerate drought, reducing their impact on the water supply. 

The eucalyptus tree is well-known as the main food source for Australian koalas. Most flooring boards, however, are produced from eucalyptus forests in Asia and South America. You can purchase eucalyptus flooring without worrying about these furry friends. 

The only environmental concern associated with this type of flooring is VOC emissions from adhesives and coatings. Look for a low VOC rating, which should be displayed on the brand.

Cons

When shopping for this type of flooring, keep some considerations in mind. 

Not Widely Available

It’s not easy to find eucalyptus flooring, in spite of all its advantages. You may have to purchase it from an online specialty store instead of your local home improvement center. You’ll also want to research brands extensively since eucalyptus flooring reviews are few and far between.

Costs More than Bamboo

Although eucalyptus costs less than traditional hardwoods, it still can’t beat bamboo for low prices. Bamboo flooring usually sells for $3 to $5 per square foot, making it 20% cheaper than eucalyptus. You can even find some cork and laminate flooring for a lower price than eucalyptus. 

Experienced Professionals and Quality Workmanship  

When it comes to floor installation, you want the best for your Boston-area investment property. At RH Blanchard, our highly experienced team has been providing remodeling services for over a decade. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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How to Choose the Best Contractors for Home Renovations

June 23rd, 2021 |

You’re ready to remodel your investment property. But how do you find the best contractors for home renovation projects? Follow these steps to choose the right contractor for your project.

1. Ask for Recommendations

Make a list of 10-15 potential contractors. Ask friends and fellow property investors who have recently had a positive experience with renovations. Other good sources include building inspectors, home improvement stores and online review sites.

2. Look at Home Renovation Portfolios

Now that you’ve made a preliminary list, it’s time to look at each contractor’s portfolio. Many contractors post portfolios on their company website. Find examples of the type of work you need. If you plan to upgrade a kitchen, for example, pictures of living room remodels won’t help you. 

For each portfolio, check at least 10 projects that were completed within the past year. Look for clear images from before and after the project. Remove from your list anyone who does not specialize in your type of project or who is reluctant to share their portfolio. 

3. Check Credentials and Insurance Coverage

Ask your state licensing board about their licensing requirements for contractors. The Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards requires specific licenses for each specialization. For example, a masonry contractor must have a specialty masonry license. 

Ask each contractor for up-to-date proof of liability insurance and workman’s compensation coverage. Cross off names of contractors who lack required licenses or insurance coverage.

4. Interview Contractors by Phone

Call each remaining contractor and ask questions about their experience and reliability, such as 

  • Do you have experience with this size or type of project?
  • Will you apply for the necessary permits?
  • Do you have a dispute resolution procedure?
  • Do you work with an established network of subcontractors?
  • Can you provide a list of clients and suppliers as references?

5. Interview Contractors Face-to-Face

After the phone interviews, meet with each of the top three or four prospects in person. This is your chance to find out how comfortable you are with each contractor. They should answer your questions clearly and thoroughly, with no hesitation.

6. Check References

Call the references for each remaining contractor on your list. Good questions include 

  • Was the project completed on time and did it meet your expectations?
  • Did the contractor promptly return phone calls and reply to emails?
  • Did the contractor provide progress reports during the renovation?
  • Did the workers clean up the job site?
  • Would you hire the contractor again?

If possible, visit one completed project from each contractor to verify the quality of their work. 

7. Ask for Bids 

It’s time to discuss your plans and accept bids. Bids should clearly list expenses such as materials, labor and profit margin. The lowest bid may not be the best choice. A higher bid may mean better quality materials and workmanship. 

8. Hire a Contractor 

You’ve accepted a bid, and are ready to hire your contractor. The last step is to sign a contract that includes a timetable, materials, payment schedule, dispute resolution clause and other relevant information. Now your project can begin! 

Boston Contractors for Home Renovation Projects

Since 2007, Boston-area property investors have relied on RH Blanchard as contractors for home renovation projects. Contact us for a free quote!

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4 Home Electrical Improvements You Need to Invest In

February 25th, 2021 |

Home electrical improvements may not be as glamorous as other home improvement projects. However, electrical upgrades are essential. They can increase your property’s value as well as save money on taxes and return on investment. For example, home electrical improvements usually increase your basis for tax purposes. As you make plans to update your property’s electrical system, here are specific upgrades to consider.

Upgrade the Electrical Panel

Since Boston’s housing stock is among the oldest in the nation, older electrical panels are commonplace. The main problem with them they weren’t designed to handle the tremendous electrical load of modern lifestyles. If your property has an electrical panel rated 100-amps or 60-amps, it’s time for a new panel that can support the multitude of appliances and electronics most households have today. Other signs you may need to upgrade your electrical panel include:

  • Dimming or flickering lights
  • Rust or other signs the panel has been wet
  • Scorched areas on the panel
  • Circuit breakers trip regularly

Install More Dedicated Circuits

In an older home, the most recent home electrical improvements may have been completed before changes in the National Electrical Code increased the number of dedicated circuits homes need. The code specifies which appliances and fixtures require dedicated circuits. Your professional contractor will be familiar with the code and can determine whether your property needs additional dedicated circuits.

Upgrade Outlets

Replacing outlets that are showing signs of damage is a must. An optional yet inexpensive way to add value to a property is to install USB outlets. They eliminate the need for adapters because electronics like smartphones and tablets can be recharged by plugging them directly into the USB outlet. Another budget-friendly upgrade is to replace traditional outlets in the bathroom and kitchen with safer GFCI outlets

Make Strategic Lighting Improvements

Upgrading the lighting in the bathroom and kitchen frequently enhances the property’s value, functionality, and aesthetics. Properties that have a single light source in these rooms aren’t competitive in today’s marketplace. In addition to ambient lighting in the kitchen, task lighting for the sink and food prep areas are necessary to meet tenant or buyer expectations. For the bathroom, it’s becoming customary to have lighting on both sides of the mirror instead of a single light above it. Your professional contractor can suggest additional lighting upgrades for these rooms based on your property’s layout.

Contact R.H. Blanchard Contract & Design when you’re ready to make home electrical improvements for your property.

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Are You Ready For a Victorian House Renovation?

September 10th, 2020 |

Victorian architecture, known for its ornate style and rich beauty, is a grand testimony to quality craftsmanship. While other home styles have faded away due to the ravages of time, Victorian home styles are still going strong, although many are in need of a significant amount of tender loving care. For those considering taking on a Victorian house renovation, it’s worth considering whether one has the time, the expertise, and of course the financing, to restore one of these grand beauties to their former glory.

Reasons for Restoration 

When one considers that the alternative to restoring an older home will likely end in it being bulldozed at some point to make way for another home, it suddenly becomes important to take a serious look at all the reasons why restoring one of these homes is definitely a worthwhile project.

Consider the ornate external detailing of a typical Victorian home, the potential of the interior hardwood floors, the grand staircase, all the baseboard, and cove moulding, and it’s difficult to imagine being able to successfully incorporate all this unique character in a replacement home. When properly restored, even older homes can hold their own in terms of safety, comfort, size, and curb appeal when compared to today’s new builds.   

DIY or Hire the Pros?

While many a Victorian home is definitely worth restoring, it is a big project to tackle, especially when care is taken to honor the history and the architecture of these unique homes. Unless the homeowners or investors have professional trade experience, it’s probably best to leave the jobs such as updating the plumbing, electrical, roof and windows, etc. to the pros. 

The average DIY person can probably handle the smaller tasks such as removing wallpaper, refinishing floors, painting, and with some help from carpenters with the skills to create historical pieces, they may be able to replace a staircase tread here and there, along with replacing some worn-out baseboards or cove moulding.

Consider a Design Service

Anyone who decides to take on a Victorian renovation is likely the type of person who appreciates its history. While they want to make the home as comfortable and functional as possible, they also want to honor its unique style. The best way to blend both history and function is to hire a design service that is full of creative ideas, as well as in-depth knowledge of Victorian architecture.

If you are considering a Victorian house renovation, we can help. Please contact us today for more on our project and design services. 

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Property Focus: Apartment Remodeling

July 9th, 2020 |

Whether you’ve taken the leap into real estate investing, or are still shopping for your first Boston-area investment property, you’ve likely come across a listing or two that would be an ideal investment “If only.” If only it had an updated bathroom, if only it had a more efficient kitchen layout, if only it had more natural light…etc.

Luckily, turning an investment property from “almost ideal” to “practically perfect” is possible if you keep these apartment remodeling tips top of mind:

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Property Focus: Old House Renovation

May 21st, 2020 |

Renovating an old home can be a daunting task. On the one hand, the promise of a revitalized older house is tantalizing, bringing with it increased property values and a better quality of life for residents. On the other, an old house renovation can be a stressful and costly endeavor, further complicated by the unique challenges and needs presented by an older home. But don’t let this fear stop you. Renovating an old home doesn’t have to be a grueling or painfully expensive project so long as the right guidelines are followed. Here are five tips to keep in mind before you move to upgrade an older property.

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Pros and Cons of a Boston Home Remodeling Project

March 5th, 2020 |

Despite the fact that Boston has the third-highest rental costs in the US, demand for quality rental housing is perennially strong. There are many factors to consider if you’re deciding whether to renovate an investment property or start home remodeling in Boston, and these pros and cons can help you consider such a project.

Con: Remodeling Cost Is High

Especially in an area with expensive housing costs like Boston, a remodeling project can feel like an unending list of bills to pay for contractors, materials, licenses, carrying costs, and of course, unexpected expenses. This can be especially true in remodeling an older home or doing extensive renovations. Some remodeling projects can also be very time-consuming depending on the extent of the work being done. That doesn’t even take into account added time due to supply delays, contractor and labor scheduling issues, and even weather problems. In addition, you may face unexpected expenses as a result of issues discovered during the remodeling process or changes in the original plan of work to be done.

Pro: Strong Return on Investment

Because housing costs are so high in the Boston area, an owner who does a smart, careful job on a remodeling project should see a return on that investment in a short time. Renters and buyers are choosy, even in a tight market, and your investment in quality remodeling should pay off in higher rental and sales rates. Buyers and renters are willing to pay more, however, if remodeling choices result in designs and amenities that appeal to them.

Con: Bathroom and Kitchen Remodels Can Cost the Most

Because of their function and complexity, bathrooms and kitchens can be the most expensive rooms to remodel in a home. These spaces require skilled workers across many of the trades including plumbing, electrical, carpentry, tiling, and more. This results in more workers and associated costs. These are also spaces that require a lot of specialized materials and supplies, all of which add to the total expense.

Pro: Bathroom and Kitchen Remodels Add the Wow Factor

Time after time, results show that good bathroom and kitchen remodels can be the special features that make a property move. There’s something really delightful about a clean, fresh kitchen and bath that gives an entire home some added appeal.

Con: Remodeling Costs Can Outweigh Earnings

It can be easy to let a remodeling project get out of hand, adding more and more to a project until it’s become an overly expensive money pit. It’s often tempting to keep finding additional upgrades to make during a renovation project, adding time and expense overall.

Pro: Careful Planning and Quality Contractors Can Save You Money

Working with quality contractors and carefully planning a remodeling project can save you money upfront, increasing the odds of a strong profit in the end. Of course, there are unexpected problems that can turn up during renovation that require attention, but the scope of a remodeling project should be well defined at the start and changes carefully evaluated.

Con: A Remodeling Project Can Be Stressful

A remodeling project can be a very stressful time. A lot of money can be at stake, and there are many unknowns including the time required to complete the project, the possibility of encountering unknown problems, and worries over successfully renting or selling the property when work is completed. In addition, coordinating the work, workers, schedules, and expenses can be an overwhelming task.

Pro: A Good Contractor Can Reduce Stress

Hiring a quality contractor to oversee a remodeling project can provide you peace of mind while the work is done. Experienced contractors can identify small problems and resolve them before they become large issues, are used to coordinating complex projects and have the knowledge to make sure every detail is taken care of.

Contact us at R.H. Blanchard today to discuss remodeling your investment property and home remodeling in Boston.

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