Here's what you should know if you are looking to renovate your home

Home renovations don't have to break the bank. Here's some tips on how to save on small projects.

Home renovations don't have to break the bank. Here's some tips on how to save on small projects.

Updating your home does not have to break the bank. Small projects, from installing new fixtures to roof repair, can improve the look and value of a home.




Maintenance


HVAC maintenance

G&S Mechanical suggested the following heating, ventilation and air conditioning system maintenance schedule:
In the spring, make sure the system is blowing cool air for summer
In the fall, check the heat is working for winter
Monthly air filter changes and checks on the system’s drain

Roof repair

Kangaroof recommended:
Looking for missing shingles which expose a home to water damage
Keeping tree limbs away from the roof so animals cannot access it
Cleaning gutters regularly
Sealing around pipes and boots, the most common areas for leaks
Checking the chimney flashing for areas where water can enter

Plumbing

Christianson Air Conditioning and Plumbing made suggestions on how to properly maintain a plumbing system:
Tankless water heaters should be flushed out annually
Check all toilets for wear and tear in older homes and the possibility of constant running water
Ask about pressure gauge checks; Pressure Reducing Valves are under constant high pressure and can slowly go bad and restrict flow and pressure




Do-it-yourself


Modernize your kitchen or bathroom with new fixtures

Chris Siebenthaler from Wilson Plumbing, which services customers in the city of Austin, said fixture replacement is one of the best “bang-for-your-buck” plumbing projects.

“Faucet, sink and toilet replacements add a fresh new [look] to the home without breaking the bank,” he said. “Stick to name brands, and consult your plumber or showroom consultant for educated fixture recommendations.”

Siebenthaler recommended keeping all manuals and receipts for plumbing fixtures and appliances. In the future, these documents may come in handy when repairs and replacements are necessary.

Paint and upgrade cabinets

When selling homes, Isabel Affinito of JB Goodwin Realtors, which has offices throughout Austin, said she finds kitchens and bathrooms stick out the most to buyers when making decisions.

One way to freshen up the look of a kitchen or bathroom is to renovate the cabinets. She said homeowners can paint their cabinets—white is particularly popular for kitchens.

“The shape of the cabinets isn’t a problem; it’s usually the colors and the hardware,” she said.




Cheap jobs


Transform your bathtub into a stand-up shower

Converting bathtubs to showers is one of the fastest ways to create immediate value, said Josh Agrelius, the owner of bathroom renovation company Re-Bath of Austin, which serves the metro area.

“People are taking less baths,” he said. “Especially with the droughts we’ve had, people are water-conscious.”

To get started, homeowners need to research companies they may want to work with. Agrelius said they should make sure they are hiring qualified professionals, using online resources and the Better Business Bureau as resources.

“You might spend a little bit more, but it will be done the right way without cutting any corners,” Agrelius said.

Update tile to create a sanitary, safe environment

Traditionally, bathing area walls were installed with porous grout, Agrelius said. This can cause the walls of tubs or showers to become moldy from moisture.

“Here in Texas, you can’t control the heat, and [the bathing area is] a wet area,” Agrelius said. “The most effective way to control water is to eliminate the grout by installing slab-like walls.”

By using slab-like walls, including large-format tiles, stone and acrylics, homeowners can avoid the creation of a potentially toxic area, he said.

Invest in landscaping

Affinito said she recommends people selling their homes only invest in renovations that will result in more than a 100 percent return. Hiring a landscaper to add mulch and clean up the lawn for a few hours is often worth the investment in Austin.

“You don’t have to go crazy with it,” Affinito said. “It makes a huge difference to your curb appeal.”


MOST RECENT

Federal funding is set aside for public schools to address effects of the pandemic. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Why Texas has not yet distributed $18 billion in federal funds intended for public schools

As budget decisions loom for school districts across Texas, state leaders are holding on to federal funds intended for public schools to use in addressing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The temporary waiver covering initial vehicle registration, vehicle registration renewal, vehicle titling, renewal of permanent disabled parking placards and 30-day temporary permits will end April 14. (Hannah Zedaker/Community Impact Newspaper)
Officials: No grace period to follow end of statewide waiver for vehicle title, registration requirements

Officials with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles announced April 5 there will be no grace period following the end of the temporary waiver of certain vehicle title and registration requirements this month.

The new tool will give Texans one place to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine through multiple health departments, including the eight DSHS public health regions—which provides public health services to nearly 200 Texas counties—as well as more than a dozen local health entities statewide. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Department of State Health Services launches Texas Public Health Vaccine Scheduler

The new tool will give Texans one place to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine through multiple health departments, including the eight DSHS public health regions—which provides public health services to nearly 200 Texas counties—as well as more than a dozen local health entities statewide.

Residents wait to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at the Delco Activity Center in Northeast Austin on March 13. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
More than 74,000 vaccine first doses coming to Austin-area providers in next week

The total allocation is fewer than the area received last week from the state.

The Centers for Disease Control released new guidance on in-person instruction for K-12 grade schools on March 19. (Courtesy Pexels)
CDC loosens guidelines on social distancing in schools

The updated guidance recommends students maintain 3 feet of social distancing in classrooms while wearing masks.

Rice Stadium Vaccine Site
Texas vaccine rollout: After 90 days, over 2.9 million fully inoculated

That figure represents about 13% of Texans over age 16—roughly one of every seven.

Three weeks after the the state's power grid failed leaving millions of Texans without power amid freezing temperatures, the Public Utility Commission of Texas named Adrianne Brandt as the agency's new director of ERCOT accountability in a news release March 11. (Courtesy Public Utility Commission of Texas)
Public Utility Commission of Texas names new director of ERCOT accountability

Three weeks after the the state's power grid failed leaving millions of Texans without power amid freezing temperatures, the Public Utility Commission of Texas named Adrianne Brandt as the agency's new director of ERCOT accountability in a news release March 11.

Lawmakers have returned to the Capitol for the 87th Texas Legislature. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Proposed curriculum, funding changes: 14 public education bills filed in the 87th Texas Legislature

Hundreds of bills related to public education have been filed in the 87th Texas Legislature, from curriculum requirement additions to funding formula changes.

According to a March 4 news release, the updated guidance includes a face covering requirement for employees and encourages guests to wear a face covering when they are not seated at their table. The updated guidance also maintains key safety protocols like regular cleaning and disinfecting, hand-sanitizing stations, and employee and customer health screenings. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
SURVEY: More than 70% of Texas restaurants still requiring employees to wear masks despite statewide mandate lift

The majority of Texas restaurant owners will choose to continue requiring staff to wear face masks after March 10 when Gov. Greg Abbott's statewide mask mandate lifts, according to the results of an informal survey conducted by the Texas Restaurant Association in early March.

With the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's emergency use authorization of a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Cos. of Johnson & Johnson in late February, U.S. residents who want to get inoculated against the coronavirus now have three vaccines to choose from—each with varying degrees of efficacy. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
EXPLAINED: See how the 3 COVID-19 vaccines available in the US stack up

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna—both two-shot vaccines—have higher efficacy rates for preventing illness than the single-shot Johnson & Johnson's Janssen vaccine; the vaccine efficacy rates stand at 95%, 94.1% and 66.3%, respectively.

Dr. Benjamin Neuman, a virologist with the Texas A&M University System, spoke about the state of the COVID-19 pandemic in Texas ahead of the March 10 rollback of mask and capacity rules. (Community Impact staff)
Q&A: Virologist discusses COVID-19 response and rollback of state restrictions

Dr. Benjamin Neuman, a virologist with the Texas A&M University System, spoke about the state of the COVID-19 pandemic in Texas ahead of the March 10 rollback of mask and capacity rules.

electric grid
ERCOT board developing new emergency response measures, managing financial fallout from winter storm

An emergency meeting of an ERCOT advisory committee made up of independent advisers was convened March 5 after the resignations of several board and of ERCOT CEO Bill Magness.