New Look for the New Year

There’s nothing like the holidays to make us take a hard look at our homes. With the onset of company coming over, we are forced to look at our home through others’ eyes, and often, we suddenly don’t like anything we see.

There’s no better time to make the New Year’s resolution to finally get all those wish list projects under way.

Brian Altmann, president of DBS Remodel Inc. in Poughkeepsie, said his company often gets calls in January. “Typically three weeks after the new year people regroup from the holidays and we do start to get people who are obviously inspired (by the new year) and are looking to do all types of projects,” he said.

Many of those jobs are things people have put off for a number of years.

“I think that the jobs that people put off most are the kitchens and bathrooms,” Altmann said, probably because those types of jobs are disruptive to the family balance.

“Each year they resolve to get it done, but because of the disruption, that prohibits some people from doing it. And certainly the other reason why people may put it off year after year is because they don’t have the confidence that they’re going to have a nice experience and that things are going to run smoothly — that they can find (a contactor) they trust,” he said.

Websites such as Angie’s List (www.Angieslist.com) post reviews of local contractors so people can learn from others’ experiences.
Founder Angie Hicks said people often notice their home needs improvement when they’re getting ready for holiday company. The cleanup process is not unlike what homeowners go through when they are getting ready to put their house on the market.

“It’s amazing what you’ll see wrong with your house when you take a look at it as if you were planning to buy it,” Hicks said. “This is a trick that I often tell people to try when they’re thinking about putting their house on the market, because you’re never more critical of a structure and its contents than when you’re thinking of buying it. It works great for when you’re planning a party, too,” she said.

What areas are most often in need of repair? “Common small repairs include walls and floors with scuff marks, torn wallpaper or smudges,” Hicks said. “One of our members damaged her basement wall when she was taking something downstairs. She covered up the hole ‘temporarily’ with a framed photograph and forgot all about it until she was cleaning and realized she still needed to fix it. Other common repairs are leaky faucets, running toilets — these are relatively simple fixes but noticeable to someone coming in fresh to the home.

“It’s very easy to get used to small issues around the house,” Hicks said. “After a while you don’t really see them at all. I really encourage people to fix these small issues, though, because they’re not going to fix themselves. In the case of a leak, they can also lead to really serious and expensive fixes down the road.”
“I think the main reason (to get unfinished projects done in 2012) would be so you and your family can enjoy that new space,” Altmann said. “A lot of people fix up their home when they’re ready to sell it. What about that priceless time when you’re living there? There are other reasons, too. One is keeping your home healthy. A lot of times when we go into homes (for a kitchen or bath renovation) there are issues with leaking pipes, with faulty wiring, mold and rotted wood,” he said.

Instead of procrastinating and not taking care of those projects, he said, homeowners should make the same kinds of resolutions we make for ourselves in our houses, too. If you plan to start going to the gym to get fit in the new year, you need to think about getting your home fit as well, he explained.

“Homeowner safety is another reason,” Altmann said. “If we think about it, bathrooms are not universally designed for us as we get a little bit older. The showers are not barrier free. There are no grab bars. We have poor lighting in our home. We want a no-step entry into the home (due to) a bad hip. So there are a lot of reasons to incorporate universal design. And another is obviously, if you wait, it’s more expensive.”

“No one really wants to take care of their honey-do list,” Hicks said. “It’s just human nature to put things off, and finding the right person to help you can seem daunting or be difficult. That’s why Angie’s List came about in the first place. My co-founder was having trouble getting a contractor to come to his house. He was new to town and didn’t have any idea of who was good or bad in town and wished there was trusted resource that he could have turned to. Because we gather the experiences that consumers have with people they hire — companies from dog walkers to dentists to roofers and doctors — you can easily see how the companies in your town perform. That saves you time and trouble,” she said.
Marion Licchiello-Lenz of Pleasant Valley said she has a number of home improvement projects that she’s been putting off for a while and plans to complete in the new year.

“The first one is getting new carpet for the living room and bedroom. It’s just such a big project,” she said. “I have to move everything into different rooms or out on the deck, and there never seems to be enough space or time to be here for the installers.”
She is determined to do it after the Christmas tree is down. And if money or time was not an issue, what other projects would she like to tackle?

“I would repaint everything and even have someone come and paint flowers and positive sayings on the walls. I would get a new bedroom set and new living room furniture,” she said.
Organization is also high on many a home improvement to-do list. Licchiello-Lenz, who is also a self-empowerment coach, said she is planning a number of workshops on de-cluttering and other life-changing, motivational topics in the Pleasant Valley area this month. More information is available on her website,www.getmotivatedwithmarion.com.

In her own home, the first area she plans to tackle is her bedroom closet.

“It is a decent size walk-in, but right now it’s a ‘peek-in’ because there is so much (holiday-related) stuff in there. I am going to totally organize it for the new year,” she said.
“Sometimes we live with things we are just tolerating. It can be something as small as scuff marks on your wall. They agitate us, yet we don’t do anything about it. When we finally decide to make changes, we clear up our mind, too, because it’s one less thing to think about, stress about,” she said.

“If your home is cluttered or doesn’t look the way you’d like it to, then your head is not as clear as it would be,” Licchiello concluded. “I think the home is the most important place to start (taking) care of you. Think about the difference in how you feel when you walk into a cluttered space or a nice, clean, neat open space. It’s important to take care of your body and your mind and your family, but we also need to take care of the foundation of it all — our home.”

Jackie DiMarzo is a freelance writer. Reach her atlife@poughkeepsiejournal.com.

“Typically three weeks after the new year people regroup from the holidays and we do start to get people who are obviously inspired (by the new year) and are looking to do all types of projects,” he said. What areas are most often in need of repair? “Common small repairs include walls and floors with scuff marks, torn wallpaper or smudges,” Hicks said.

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