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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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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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