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April 2021

Spring Home A special supplement to

The Greeneville Sun

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A Great Time to Renovate Have you noticed your neighbors adding pools, outdoor entertainment areas and extra square footage? If so, you’re not alone. Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies estimates that Americans’ total spend on home remodeling projects will rise from $332 billion in the third quarter of 2020 to $337 billion in the second half of 2021. Check out these statistics from a 2020 CNBC report: • Houzz, an online home remodeling platform, reported a 58% annual increase in project leads for home professionals in June. • Poolcorp, an international distributor of swimming pool supplies, parts and outdoor living products, saw a 54% increase in the summer of 2020. • Kitchen and bath remodels jumped 40% in June 2020 compared to June 2019. • Home extensions and additions jumped 52% in 2020. • Security and privacy also saw much greater demand with interest in fence installation and repairs up 166%. Stimulus payments are driving many of these decisions to renovate, as is the increased equity in homes. Home prices continue to gain, despite the economic downturn, as


demand for housing is hitting new levels.

WHY NOW? Even as vaccinations continue to roll out and travel is experiencing an uptick, it’s not too late to take advantage of some of the incentives related to renovating your space. In fact, you may have saved some money by waiting for lumber and materials production to return back to normal after many industries related to the construction industry

saw major shortages during the pandemic’s earliest days. This could be a good time to take advantage of lower costs while also being able to add value back into your home, should you ultimately decide to sell.

WHAT TO RENOVATE Outside of the traditional bathroom and kitchen remodels, many Americans are feeling the need for extra square footage. More parents are working from home than ever

before. More kids are working on school projects remotely. And while that may change as we return to some sort of normalcy, there is good reason to believe that more space will remain a top need for families moving forward. Finishing a basement could be a great answer to a space shortage in your home. This project will run you $18,400 on average, but can cost up to $34,000, depending on your square footage. The project involves installing drywall,

flooring, and paint but can recoup up to 70% of the cost, according to HomeAdvisor. Another way to increase the value of your home is to focus on the outside. Consider hiring a company to handle the maintenance of your exterior. To mow the lawn, prune shrubs, apply mulch and plant about 60 perennials or annuals over about 2,800 square feet costs about $3,000 but can net a 100% return on investment, according to the National Association of Realtors.

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How to Start a Project Right There are many important things to consider when looking to improve your home. Many questions may be rolling around in your head as you consider taking on a home renovation project. Some of these questions may be related to cost. Others may be focused on quality and return on your investment. According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, you need to have a good idea of what you’re looking for, how much you have to spend and what kind of timeline you’re considering. The beginning of a project is the most critical component to make sure you’re clear on. The good news? A helpful local home services professional is right around the corner ready to help turn your plan into a reality.

WHAT’S YOUR GOAL? Are you adding an extra bedroom this summer? Building a barn? Laying down a new hardwood floor? No matter what type of project you’re starting, it’s critical that you build a plan and stick with it. One of the easiest ways to break your budget is to add smaller projects on top of your original one. By adding more work, you’re adding to the cost of materials and labor if you’re using a home services professional.

Work with your contractors to set realistic expectations before breaking ground on your project. This will help you earmark a specific amount to keep any extra spending to a minimum. It will also help keep you and your contractors on the same page from a timing standpoint.

MAKING BIG CHANGES? Revamping your home’s structure in any substantial way requires more design and engineering work. This means it will likely cost more money and take more time, according to NARI. Before committing to a major project that will alter the structure of your home, ask yourself the following questions: • Can I afford such a large project? • How old is my home? • Will the changes add to the overall value of the home? • Do I have the right contractors picked out for the multiple phases of the project? Once you understand what type of cost, contractors and timeline you’re looking at, you can feel more confident in moving forward with your project.


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Finding A Local Contractor Once you know the scope of your project, it’s time to find the person who can make your dreams come true. A quality professional contractor can build, renovate or add to your properties.

Finding the right contractor can be an overwhelming task. There are the contracts, the timelines and all of the decisions that go along with taking on a home project. Read on for some tips designed to help you find a great local contractor.

DETERMINE YOUR PROJECT Contractors can specialize, while handymen and women may be focused on smaller projects. The size and scope of SEE LOCAL, PAGE 5

Saturday, April 24, 2021 • THE


tricians, plumbers, carpenters or roofers. Architects design homes’ additions or major renovations, but don’t do the building work. And design contractors can create the plans and oversee all of the construction work. Understand your goals before finalizing who is going to do the work for you.

your project will determine what type of professional you need to hire for the job. According to the Federal Trade Commission, general contractors manage all aspects of a project, including obtaining building permits, scheduling inspections, the actual work and hiring, and overseeing ASK AROUND and paying subcontracCheck with friends tors. Specialty contrac- and neighbors to see tors perform particular who they have used services, such as elecand would recommend

for your project. Ask your prospective contractors for photos or videos of their work. Any good contractor should be able to back up their work with quality testimonials and customer success stories. Check websites and review social media profiles to make sure you get a good sense of the contractor’s abilities and past work. If your state requires contractors to be licensed, ensure the contractor’s license is current.

GET SEVERAL QUOTES Cost is important to any project but it shouldn’t be your only defining factor. Low bids are great, but an

estimate that comes in substantially lower than others should be looked at closely. Why the variance? Will the materials come be high quality? Is professional able to give you an

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Questions to Ask If this is your first home improvement project for which you are hiring outside help, there are many questions you should be prepared to ask. Any time you plan to bring someone into your home, you should do your research beforehand to ensure a successful project. Depending on the size of the project, experts recommend you securing at least three quotes from prospective home services professionals before moving forward. This may not be realistic, especially if you’re facing

some sort of plumbing or electrical issue that requires quick, emergency service. Here are some questions you should ask any contractor before they start, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

What similar projects have you completed recently? You want to make sure you hire a contractor with experience that relates to what you need. For example, you wouldn’t hire a local plumber to install a pool, even if he or she tells you they could probably handle it. Be smart about who you are sourcing for your project and look for ways to ensure a warranty with their services.

Can you share references? Get names, addresses and phone numbers for recent customers served by the contractor. Be ready to ask these customers about their costs, timeline and overall satisfaction of the job completed.

What permits will be needed? Any good local contractor will be familiar with the permitting process and laws in your community. Subcontractors may need permits and licenses as well, so do your research ahead of time to see if your state requires them.

What insurance coverage do you have? Ask for copies of insurance certifi-

cates. According to the FTC, contractors should have personal liability, worker’s compensation and property damage coverage. If not, you could be liable for injuries and damages that happen during the project.

What is the timeline for completion? It’s best to set realistic expectations from the beginning when it comes to a target completion date. Leaving this open ended can lead to frustration and confusion once the project gets under way. Be open with your home services professional and ask for continuous updates. This will help keep the project on track and on time.

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Protect Yourself From Scams

In addition to dealing with the sometimes-stressful logistics of home services work, homeowners must also be aware of potential shady contractors looking to make a quick buck without ensuring a quality result.

In the United States, one in 10 adults will fall victim to a scam or fraud every year, according to the Federal Trade Commission. A large portion of these incidents occur as home improvement scams. The good news? Taking a few simple precautions can help guarantee that you hire a reputable contractor and get the end result you’re after. According to the FTC, be very wary of someone who: • Knocks on your door looking for business. • Has material left over from a previous job that they can use on your job. • Pressures you to hire them right away. • Only accepts cash, asks for the entirety of the payment upfront or offers a lender they know.

• Asks you to get building permits. • Offers a long-term guarantee or says your job will be a demo. • Doesn’t have a business number in the local phone book.

USE A TRUSTED LOCAL LENDER If a loan is needed, make sure to check with your local, trusted lenders first. Get a loan from a financial institution where you have previously done business. A big red flag is when a scammer offers to arrange loans through a lender they know. Make sure you’ve investigated the lending institution and that you trust them before moving forward.


Documentation can help solve any kind of shady behavior. If you have everything on paper, you’re more likely to win any kind of possible court battle when dealing with scammers. The Better Business Bureau advises homeowners to refuse to cash-only deals, high-pressure sales tactics, high upfront payments, handshake deals without a contract and on-site inspections. Never sign documents quickly without reading them all the way through. If you have an uneasy feeling, use an attorney to help you work through the contract. You may incur a charge, but it’s better to pay now and know the ins and outs of your agreement than it is to enter a legal fight later.

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Post-Disaster Renovation Tips Depending on where you live, natural disasters can be a major cause of significant damage to your home. Earthquakes, floods and fires require home and business owners to rebuild all or parts of their structures. This process can be even more complex than when deciding to complete a normal renovation because money from insurance companies and the Federal Emergency Management Agency can come into play. Depending on whether or not you’ve been through a situation like this, you can become overwhelmed very quickly regarding all of the logistics involved. Knowing the right way to go about rebuilding is your key to successfully navigating a post-natural disaster renovation.

SAFETY FIRST Before jumping right into assessing the damage done to your home or business, it’s important to or ensure the safety of you, your family or your employees. The Federal Trade Commission advises checking the outside of the building for cracks in the founda-


tion or chimney or sagging in the roof. Here are a few more tips: • Never force open any doors that are jammed. • Be careful going inside if the structure appears unstable. • Avoid going near downed power lines. • Do not enter the building if you smell natural gas. If your home or business has undergone significant damage, your best bet is wait-

ing for utilities and cleanup professionals to assess the situation.

HIRING THE RIGHT REBUILDERS Unfortunately, scammers have been known to prey on natural disaster victims to swindle them out of money. According to the FTC, a down payment of one-third the total price when paying a contractor is standard. Pay by check or credit card — never

cash. This way there is a paper trail of what you paid and still owe the contractor. When possible, hire a contractor who has been previously used by people you trust.

UTILIZE GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE The federal government could be a great source of funding or support for your unexpected renovation. FEMA has a disaster hous-

ing program that provides grants to homeowners for minor but necessary repairs related to weather disasters. You can reach FEMA’s helpline at (800) 621-FEMA. The U.S. Small Business Administration offers low-interest loans of up to $200,000 to homeowners to help repair or replace buildings that have been damaged or destroyed. Remember to explore all options during the rebuilding process.

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It’s time to get comfortable!

Spring Cleaning Checklist Spring cleaning is a chance for a fresh start. After a long winter spent cooped up at home, spring is a natural time to declutter, clean and organize your home. Here is a checklist of spring cleaning jobs to remember. You can go it alone, or consider hiring a local cleaning service to help you really make your home shine. recommends replenishing your cleaning supplies before you get started. That way you’ll have all the tools you need for the job. • Basic cleaning. Sweep, mop, vacuum, clean toilets, the works. This is the time to tackle deep-cleaning jobs you’ve been putting off. Sanitize the hard-to-reach area behind the toilet. Scrub off caked-on soap scum and grime on the bathroom faucet. Really get in there and finish the job. • Once-in-a-while jobs. This is the time to clean the oven, open all the windows and clean the tracks, glass and screens. Degrease the kitchen cabinet doors and hinges. Give the refrigerator a deep clean, including the door seals and glass. Defrost the

freezer, if needed. Deep clean the kitchen sink disposal. Polish any silver. Dust the blinds and wash or vacuum the curtains. Shampoo rugs. Clean washing machine seals. Dust and wipe down baseboards and crown molding. Clean and sanitize remote controls. Check or replace smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries. Replace air filters. Dust and clean light fixtures and ceiling fans. Vacuum refrigerator coils. Flip mattresses. Wash comforters and other large bedding, or take them to the cleaners. Reseal grout. Polish or wax wooden furniture. Wax flooring. • Seasonal maintenance. Clean gutters. Clean and repair outdoor furniture. Pressure wash the deck or patio. Clean any debris from the roof. Consider having your air conditioning unit cleaned and serviced. • Declutter. Spring is a great time to go through adults’ and kids’ closets to see which clothes no longer fit or have holes/stains. Make a donation pile and organize the remaining clothes in drawers and closets. Do the same with toys and books. Toss any food that’s been hanging around in the refrigerator a bit too long. Inventory the deep freeze so you can use up foods that have been lurking there.


Mike Davis & Keith Harrison, co-owners



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Shopping for Solar A solar array is installed in America every two minutes, according to community solar advocates Solstice. With solar getting more affordable, more homeowners are jumping on board, having solar panels installed on their homes. Given the newness of solar energy, however, knowing what to look for while shopping for solar panels can be tricky. The U.S. Department of Energy offers a primer for homeowners called “Homeowner’s Guide to Going Solar.” The website (bit. ly/3rIT1xk) covers the basics of how solar energy works, how to determine if your home is suitable for a solar installation, and the financial and safety considerations involved.

HOME SUITABILITY Many factors are considered in determining whether your home is suitable for solar panels. In general, you will need to own your home and have a newer roof with a south-facing slope that isn’t obscured by excessive shade. Each individual solar company will have its own requirements.

FINANCIAL MATTERS You can buy solar panels outright, finance them with a loan, or lease panels. With a loan or lease, your monthly payments could be lower than


your monthly electricity bill, but you will be locked into a long-term contract. Another option is a power purchase agreement, through which a consumer agrees to purchase power produced by panels installed on his home at a set price. Purchasing panels could allow you to qualify for the Solar Investment Tax Credit, a 30% federal tax credit available through 2022. Lease and PPA agreements do not qualify for the credit. Also ask about net metering.

This arrangement allows you to receive credit on your electric bill for power that your system feeds back into the grid. Shop around with various solar installers and compare their financing options. Compare the up-front and monthly costs, as well as tax benefits.

SAFETY If you’re worried about whether solar is safe for your home, rest assured the indus-

try is well regulated to protect homeowners. Solar panels must meet international inspection and testing standards, according to the Department of Energy, and installers must meet qualifications and install panels to meet local building, fire and electrical codes. Your system should be thoroughly inspected by a certified electrician before it goes online.

COMMUNITY SOLAR If you decide solar panels

aren’t a good fit for your home or budget, you can still benefit from solar energy via community solar. This concept is a way for you to buy into a group solar project which feeds solar energy into the electricity grid, and get a credit on your electricity bill in exchange. To find a community solar project near you, visit communitysolar.energysage. com. Enter your average monthly electricity bill and ZIP code to see how much you could save per

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Spring Pruning Basics Many perennial plants need a spring pruning. Their foliage may provide protection during the winter, but by spring, it’s time to prune in order to encourage new growth. This means pruning is an essential part of your spring gardening plans. Here are some pruning basics to get you started.

WHEN TO PRUNE According to the Old Farmers Almanac, the timing of pruning a tree or shrub depends mostly on when it blooms and whether it blooms on old or new growth. In general, plants that flower after midsummer should be pruned in the spring, while those that bloom in winter, spring and early summer should be pruned soon after flowering. Burger Farm and Garden Center reminds gardeners that while an ill-timed pruning may lead to fewer flowers and fruits, it is rarely fatal to the plant.

WHAT TO PRUNE Fruit trees such as apple, cherry, peach and plum, and vines such as trumpet vine and wisteria, should be


pruned in early spring. Spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs and rhododendrons need to be pruned as soon as their early-spring blooms have faded. This will help ensure a good bloom next year. According to TheSpruce. com, Black-eyed Susan, gayfeather, purple coneflower and globe thistle seed heads are great food for birds, so leave them be until early spring, while coral bells, delphiniums, hostas, turtleheads and mums need the protection of their foliage during

winter. Don’t cut them back until spring.

PRUNING TOOLS It’s important to keep your pruning tools sharp. While a plant can easily recover form a clean cut, a botched cut can weaken the plant and make the plant susceptible to disease. Sharpen shears and clippers, and oil moving parts to keep them working smoothly.

HOW TO PRUNE Some plants need more

aggressive pruning than others. Consult the Old Farmers Almanac or your local extension service for particulars on how much to prune a particular shrub or plant. In general, when pruning a tree, begin with removing any dead or dying branches, as well as any “suckers” — sprouts emerging from the base of the trunk. Make clean cuts flush to the branch, with no part of the growth remaining. Also remove “watersprouts,” which are small, straight vertical shoots grow-

ing on the main branches. Thin out the tree by removing branches that grow downward, toward the center of the tree or that cross paths with another branch, as well as any limbs along the trunk that are bigger in diameter than the trunk. Then focus on evening out the branches and removing competing branches. Finally, prune the tree from the outermost growth to give it a pleasing shape, and promote the growth of shorter, thicker branches.

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Plant Summer-Blooming Bulbs Spring is the time to plant summer-blooming bulbs, such as dahlias, gladiolas, lilies, calladiums and elephant ears. Bulbs should be stored in a cool, dry place until all danger of frost has passed. Then it’s time to plant.

WHEN TO PLANT Exactly when you plant will depend on what planting zone you live in. According to GardenDesign. com, in colder climates such as USDA Zones 4 to 7, summer-flowering bulbs should be planted in mid to late spring (May to June), and in Zones 8 to 10, in early to mid-spring (late March to May).

HOW TO PLANT The best resource for knowing how deep to plant your bulbs is the packaging they came in. In general, dig a hole that’s 2-3 times as deep as the bulb is tall. The pointy side of the bulb should face up. The roots should face down.

Give the bulbs a good watering. Continue watering whenever the soil is dry. Keep in mind that over-watering can cause the bulb to rot.

MIND YOUR SOIL Most bulbs need rich soil, so mix some compost into your soil for the best results, especially if your soil is heavy clay or has poor drainage. Loamy or slightly sandy soil is ideal.

PREVENT WEEDS The best way to prevent weeds is to add 2-3 inches of mulch on top of your flowerbeds. Bulbs can easily grow up through the mulch. Weeds will have a harder time. Weed barrier

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PLANT FOR VISUAL EFFECT Consider when your flowers will bloom to provide blooms all season long. Different plants bloom at different times during the season. Others, such as such as seedum, daylilies, hosta or bleeding heart, will bloom repeatedly until late fall or provide consistent, rich foliage. Mix up your plantings so that your flowerbeds provide visual interest all season long.

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Benefits of Home Automation Technology has changed the way homeowners care for and protect their homes. If you’re looking for an upgrade that enhances safety while boosting convenience, total home automation is an investment to consider. Since the systems are so intricate, it’s beneficial to work with an expert in the field, so you don’t miss out on life-changing features. Since many home automation innovations require a solid internet connection to work flawlessly, it may be necessary to upgrade your current setup. Call area providers for the best value while investing in quality download speeds and connectivity reliability. You should also make sure you have a capable smartphone or tablet as these devices may act as a remote control for operation. If you’re unfamiliar with home automation systems, check out some of the cutting-edge technology your home is missing.

AUTOMATED DOOR LOCKS With a high-tech lock, you will never worry about leaving your front door unsecure.


Typically, these advanced devices connect to a smartphone and are operated with the touch of a button. The software also allows you to analyze if a door has been unlocked without your authorization, giving you a chance to contact emergency services if necessary. Another benefit to automated door locks is opening the door for a house sitter or

friend if you are uncomfortable leaving a spare key while you’re away.

TEMPERATURE ADJUSTMENTS Do you notice a climbing heating or air conditioning bill during the changing seasons? Consider investing in a thermostat that allows you to alter the temperature while you’re away. Some units will

adjust to your work schedule without interaction to alter the comfort levels before you arrive home. Many models also can be operated remotely, allowing you to crank up your HVAC equipment to create a comfortable environment on the way home from work.

CONTROL YOUR LIGHTS According to the group

Clearly Energy, an incandescent light bulb will cost you about 75 cents for every hour it is left on. If you have a bad habit of forgetting to kill the lights before leaving for the day, the costs can add up on your utility bill. Learn how to save money by purchasing smart lights that are operated by smartphone or another device.

Saturday, April 24, 2021 • THE



Easy Exterior Upgrades Since the exterior of your home is typically the first impression people get of the property, ensuring it’s wellkept is essential. Fortunately, upgrades to refresh the space don’t always have to cost a fortune. There are numerous ways you can give your home a modern touch-up on a budget and many projects can be handled by the homeowner with a little knowledge of repairs. Before investing in upgrades to your property, analyze the lawn for unattractive features like cracked sidewalks or overgrown weeds. A little TLC to your yard can make a significant difference when improving the looks of the exterior. A good way to find problem spots is to drive by the home and look for problems that are visible from the road. Make a plan to resolve landscaping issues to instantly add curb appeal over a weekend.

ADD LIGHT FIXTURES Adding or upgrading exterior lighting is an easy project that can enhance the visual ambiance of a home and provide more security. When searching for new fixtures, look for options that include motion sensors, capabilities to utilize brighter bulbs and


housings that blend well with a home’s design scheme. Homeowners should consider upgrading to LED lighting to provide long-lasting illumination that can lead to savings on utility bills. According to the United States Department of Energy, approved bulbs use at least 75% less energy while lasting 25 times longer than incandescent lighting

NEW SHUTTERS The simple addition of shutters to existing windows will make the outside of your home stand out and provide an updated look. Before buying new accents, make sure to measure your window and purchase the appropriate size. In some cases, the correct dimensions may have to be special ordered and custom built. Simply bring your

required dimensions to the local home improvement store and ask an expert for their recommendations on style and installation tips. They may be able to recommend a local pro to do the install. Consider hiring a professional to pressure wash the exterior of your property prior to updating the shutters, so they are installed on a clean backdrop.

STAIN YOUR DECK As a wooden deck becomes weathered and dated, the visual appeal quickly degrades. Save your deck by applying a layer of stain and weatherproof clear coat. Before beginning the project, make sure to thoroughly clean the patio, protect exterior walls with painter’s tape and acquire the right tools for the job.

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Profile for The Greeneville Sun

Spring Home Improvement 2021  

This 16-page special publication is The Greeneville Sun's annual look at home improvement trends, possibilities and potentials. © 2021 THE G...

Spring Home Improvement 2021  

This 16-page special publication is The Greeneville Sun's annual look at home improvement trends, possibilities and potentials. © 2021 THE G...


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