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Angie’s List: Necessary Home Improvements

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jim-donovan-web Jim Donovan
Jim Donovan is a 13-time Emmy Award-winning consumer reporter w...
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your home listical graphic Angies List: Necessary Home Improvements

By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Many of us dream of adding a bathroom fit for a luxury hotel, or creating a backyard that looks more like a resort. But chances are you may have to spend your money on upgrades that aren’t nearly as glamorous.

In this week’s Angie’s list report, Jim Donovan looks at several home improvement projects you can’t ignore.

Robyn Meslin was not happy when she learned she needed to repair the wiring in her new home.

“The basement was pretty much a nightmare. So there were open electrical boxes down there, switches that didn’t turn on and off, anything that we could figure out,” explained Meslin.

“Unfortunately, there are projects that have to be done around your house that you are never going to talk to other people about – updating wiring, replacing your roof – these are the kind of things that are required to keep your house in good condition, but they are not fun and exciting, but if you don’t do these things it’s really going to hinder the value of your home and it’s resale value,” said Angie’s List founder, Angie Hicks.

They may not be exciting, but here are few projects you should never avoid, like repairing your foundation. You may not be eager to repair that slow-growing crack up the wall, but foundation issues can’t be ignored. Have it checked out before it’s too late.

Another important project is removing mold – failure to get rid of it can cause health problems. Make sure to hire a remediation company that pinpoints the source of the mold.

And of course, don’t forget your electrical wiring. Rewiring a home or modernizing an aging electrical system is not cheap, but it is much safer.

“You can’t brag out it. ‘Hey, I got a new electrical panel! Ooh!’ It’s more fun to pick out drapes or decide on colors or say, ‘Let’s put hardwood floors throughout the house,’ but really if it all burns down what’s the point?” said Meslin.

Experts recommend tucking away at least $5,000 dollars for emergency repairs. If you don’t have that, consider starting today by putting a little into savings each month.

More from Angie:

1.) Repairing the foundation. You might crack up at the thought of spending hard-earned money to repair the slow-growing crack that stair-steps up the basement wall, but foundation fissures are a no laughing matter. Not all cracks signal impending collapse, but have them checked out before it’s too late. Problems can also arise over time due to various weather events such as drought and geological changes like the soil’s natural tendency to settle. Some of the signs of foundation problems are cracks in the interior walls, separations between the concrete blocks in a block foundation or cracks and crumbling of a concrete foundation. Other signs are doors that will not close properly and bulging floors. Hiring Tip: Before you hire a foundation company to repair the damage, it may be a good idea to call a structural engineer. Rather than trying to sell a certain foundation repair system or product, a structural engineer will be able to provide an objective analysis of the problem and recommend the most effective and economical repair, which could save significant money. Although licensing is required for professional engineers in every state of the country, state regulations may vary. Make sure the professional engineer you hire is licensed to work in your state. A reputable engineer should have no problem providing his or her license number.

2.) Removing mold. Eliminating the patch of black mold hiding behind the bathroom wall may not be at the top of your to-do list, but failure to remove mold can cause serious respiratory problems. Make sure to hire a remediation company that pinpoints the source of the mold. Avoid the contractor who wants to paint over it. Hiring Tip: If you suspect mold, have your home tested, but avoid having the same company do the remediation work. You want a separate, independent company to get rid of the mold.

3.) Updating electrical wiring. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, half of all residential electric fires are due to a wiring issue — in particular, faulty outlets and old wiring. It costs several thousand dollars to rewire a home or modernize an aging electrical system, and what do you get to show for it besides a bunch of wires hidden in your walls and attic? You should at least sleep better knowing there’s a decreased risk of fire because you removed the 1920s-era knob-and-tube system. Some signs of trouble include a spark from an outlet when you plug something in, a loose connection or a flickering light.

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