Find Out How To Increase Your Homes Worth

 An Investment In Your Home Can Offer You Much More Then You Think

Pride in one’s appearance, their home, the work they do, their family and the town or city they live in is often discussed.  But many of us don’t really understand the meaning of this word.  The dictionary describes Pride as a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.

So why is this article about PRIDE?  Well, many of us that are homeowners in Hazlet take pride in the town we live in.  It was our decision to buy or rent a home in this town and the reasons are varied.  Good schools, nice homes, good shopping and restaurants, but even more than that, the feeling that we have moved into a town that cares about its residents.

However some residents don’t truly understand the meaning of Pride and the pleasure and satisfaction they can derive from having a beautiful home or a well maintained garden and lawn.  Not every one of course understands the importance of improving their homes or the value in maintaining and creating a home that has “Curb Appeal”

Hazlet Proposes Tax Incentives For Home Improvements

The Hazlet Committee has proposed a new program to encourage residents to improve their homes. The idea is to have residents upgrade and invest in their homes and their property to maintain the value of not only their homes, but their street and their town. The proposal states that your property taxes won’t increase after the upgrades for a period of 5 years.  The reality in this plan is that 20% of the Hazlet homes are appraised each year, so if you were just appraised, this plan may not be beneficial to you, but for those that haven’t been appraised in years it could be meaningful.

If home owners stop investing in the maintenance and improvement of their homes, they could watch their homes and the value of their homes decline.  It is smarter to continue to repair, improve and do the necessary maintenance in one’s home which would then protect its value, but also offer the family the benefit of living in a comfortable home for years.

For those of us that spend time in our homes or even work from our homes, we need a comfortable home to revitalize and comfort us.  So many experts recommend  that investing in a home can pay off in a number of ways.

For the many home owners, like me, that use a portion of their homes for their work, they can have substantial tax benefits by declaring their Home Office.  The IRS allows individuals to deduct a portion of your mortgage payments, real estate taxes, repairs, maintenance and other expenses for that office.  This can amount to thousands of dollars each year in legitimate tax savings.  Check with your tax advisor for more information or click this link for more information from the IRS Home Office Tax Deductions.

Some Investments Are Better Then Others

Our Kitchen-Click to Enlarge
Our Kitchen-Click to Enlarge

Do all investments in a home pay off? Well some improvements are really not improvements, they are decorating ideas and depending on your taste and the future buyer of your home, it may in fact lessen the value of your home.  But lets look at some that do and why it is important to perform the necessary repairs and maintenance in a home.

If one were to study the real estate values in Hazlet,  you might be surprised to find that Zillow and other real estate sites only determine the value based on recently sold homes in your neighborhood and square footage of those homes.  It does not take into account the improvements in that home, the condition of the home and the street where you live.  So a home in any part of Hazlet, that has many improvements and one that was the original house, as the builder built it 45 years ago, might show a similar value.

Does that mean that the Zillow estimates are correct for your home, absolutely not.  However many people who are looking to move into Hazlet, may not want to pay for some of the improvements in your home, because you may have “overbuilt” for your neighborhood.  In my case, I have spent my time and money wisely.  Adding an additional 900 square feet of living space by adding a floor to our ranch made sense.  We now have a gorgeous suite upstairs for me and my wife. It includes a wonder cedar den, a magnificent very large bathroom with a 100 gallon Waterjet tub, bidet for cleaning ones bottom, all German Vilroy and Bach fixtures with Grohe faucets.  Of course our beautiful very large master bedroom with a view of our backyard and a slanted roof window over our bed with shades so we can enjoy the sunlight or not.

Ceder Tongue and Groove walls add warmth to our Den…We now have a 65″ TV and a great sound system that makes this our go to room in the evening.


OK you might think this is a bit over the top of a home in Hazlet, but I can tell you that adding the additional floor and making our home just the way we always wanted made good sense and a good investment.

You must look at the improvements you would like to make as money well spent for the enjoyment and well-being of your family.  It might not be a good investment in terms of increasing the resale value of the home, but for those of us in Hazlet, that intend on living and here for many years, it an investment to make our homes comfortable for our families.

Our Master Bedroom is wonderful. A comfortable King Size bed, a window seat overlooking our back yard and the ability to open the shade to fill the room with light.

After all, if you take the cost of the improvements and spread it over the number of years you stay in your home, you will understand it is probably worth that investment.  I have now lived in Hazlet for 40 years and 30 years ago I added a floor to my home.  At that time the cost to do that was around $25,000.  Today of course that same addition would be $75,000 or more.

My investment at that time amounted to $833 per year.  Adding the extra 900 square feet of luxury living space cost me $60 per month.  Was it worth the investment, you bet it was.  So if you believe you are here to stay, then make the investment in your home.  Add additional living space, new bathrooms and kitchens.  Invest in your gardens and maintain your lawns.  The cost to do all of this is quite small when you consider the benefits to your family.  See what I did to my home over the years at the Zillow website.

Budget For Maintenance and Improvements

I have always tried to budget $250-$300 per month toward repairs and home improvement projects.  I advise any home owner to do the same if they can.  To make sure you do this, open a bank account and write a check each month to that account when you make your mortgage payment.  You will find that this money can now be your insurance policy, when you need it for repairs or improvements and it won’t put a strain on your budget.

Kids are all grown up which enabled me to convert one bedroom in to my office. Loads of outlets for all electronics and plenty of drawers and work space for me and my wife to do our work.

Investing in a new kitchen or bathroom is often a smart investment. In a substantial amount of that investment can be recovered should you decide to sell your home.  I know people say, you shouldn’t overbuild your home and you shouldn’t be the best home on your street.  Some of us may disagree, if we have good neighbors, that take care of their homes as well and the town does its part in helping us maintain the values in our home then you shouldn’t be concerned about your investment.

Are You Able To Do It Yourself?

Our Dining Area In Kitchen
Our Dining Area In Kitchen.

I was fortunate to go to Brooklyn Technical H.S. as a teenager.  Brooklyn Tech is one of New York’s schools for gifted students that want to pursue careers in engineeringmath and science and is the largest specialized high school for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in the United States.  It is also one of the most prestigious and selective high schools in the United States.

Needless to say, I was taught how to work with commercial metal and wood working machinery. I took courses in mechanical drawing strength of materials, even learned how to pour molten metal into green sand molds in foundry.  For me the four and a half years in Tech taught me skills I have been able to use throughout all these years.  By the time I graduated Tech I was able to pick up most tools and know exactly how to use them.

124px-BthslogoSo having the education owning my home, a fixer upper, became another long-term project.  Over the years, I would tackle many  home improvement projects. If I needed some additional help, there was always a good supply of tradesmen in Hazlet that I could hire for the day or for a project I knew I couldn’t tackle myself.  So my investment in my home, was not just money, it was the thousands of hours of labor I put into my home. I wanted my family to grow up on a nice home and in a nice town.

Main Floor Bathroom 2nd Redo

Every single room in my home has been updated, it took many years to do this and I am still not done.  One of my bathrooms was redone over 20 years ago and looked dated now.  So I tore it out and built a new one in its place that was more contemporary.  Almost all of the original home is no longer visible.  From the roof and electrical service to the heating and cooling system, all have been replaced.

I Love My Garden

Beautiful Patio with Vegetable Garden

The projects that I love most is working in my garden. I started planting some trees, shrubs, added boulders, borders, vegetable garden and so much more many years ago.  Little did I know that the small Japanese Maple tree planted on the side of my house, 30 years later would become a gorgeous tree. It now shades the side of my house that displays beautiful ferns, Hostas, Iris’s, Astilbes and other shade loving plants.

Most of us love to see a beautiful garden, but how many feel they can’t have one of their own?  Many people drive through towns and admire the neatly manicured lawns and hedges.  As you pass these homes you understand that the homeowners take pride in their homes.   Imagine if all Hazlet became a showplace, not with great mansions or estates, but with beautifully cared for homes and each one with a beautiful and maintained garden.

The Importance of Curb Appeal

Now giving your home some curb appeal is a smart thing to do and it helps your neighbors, your street and your town.  Some people I have spoken to tell me they don’t have the money to beautify their property.  Others claim they simply don’t know how to maintain their lawns.  Frankly, I do understand those comments and for many years I have helped my neighbors to improve and maintain their properties.

We have just joined three other homeowners adjoining our house in replacing all of our sidewalks and our driveway aprons.  This gives our homes a new, fresh feel and makes it easier to maintain.

I Want To Help You Too

Now many  homeowners in our town, feel as I do.  They understand owning a home is not only about maintaining ones property value or respecting our neighbors property and home values.  To truly enjoy the sense of accomplishment and pride we will receive when we complete a home improvement project it requires an investment in our time and money.

I can tell you that I always feel it was worth the effort when a neighbor passes by and says “You have the most beautiful garden, I love to walk by your home.”  Another neighbor told me she knows it is Spring when she looks at all the wonderful tulips in my garden.  My neighbors enjoy and appreciate the work I have done in my garden and it makes me feel all the work was worth the effort.

Walkway-Veg Garden - 09
I Built This Pathway On Side Of My Home • Click to Enlarge

How often does someone give you a compliment on your home? Wouldn’t it make you feel better to enjoy and be appreciated for your hard work in maintaining your property?

Now some people feel they lack the knowledge, the skills, the money or the desire to care for their property, so they may simply give up.  Some don’t have the physical ability or strength, certainly the elderly or those with disabilities won’t.  I will be talking about a Neighbors Helping Neighbors program in future articles.

Imagine being able to work together, share garden equipment and rental costs.  Do things in your garden you could never do by yourself. If we work together and work on one home at a time, we can accomplish great things.  One home, one street, one town good ideas catch on.

You Can Have A Beautiful Garden Retreat

I love to watch the Robins breed in my trees.  In early Spring the tulips bloom and the young clean Hosta’s start to break through the ground. The Iris’s are next and then all the Roses begin to bloom.

We removed a window in our downstairs master bedroom and replaced it with glass doors that open to our patio. What a great way to enjoy the garden from either one of the two master bedrooms in our home.

As Spring progresses into early June, the vegetable garden begins to show signs of life.  Those that were planted as seed, have broken through the ground and begin their accent.  Seedlings like Broccoli are ready to cut and eat.  All the others like our eggplant, zucchini, tomato’s, green peppers and all of our herbs are in bloom or growing fast now.  The shady side of the house means all the shade loving plants are showing their full foliage and their flowers.

Each month there is new excitement and beauty in my garden. Although I don’t have much time to just sit on the patio, I enjoy my retreat as I walk the grounds, bending over to pull some weeds that somehow made their way into the garden, cut the fading flowers from the many rose bushes I have and of course keep my grass healthy and mowed at the proper height during the Spring and Summer seasons.

Here are some photos of my garden and its birds I hope it will give you some ideas on what you can do in your gardens.  Oh one last thing…I have many large planters around the house filled with colorful flowers. Sometimes even a couple of these inexpensive planters at the front of you home can make a huge difference in your homes curb appeal.

Click Image To Enlarge and view as a slide show.

It is our goal, at the Hazlet News, to help those that want to improve and maintain their property, the correct way to do so.  It will be my personal mission to help those that want to  learn how to accomplish these goals with many articles, videos and photos that will show you the way. As good neighbors I would urge all of my gardener friends to email me so we can begin to start our Neighbors Helping Neighbors group.

Visit our site often for helpful tips and techniques.  Our town must not let those that don’t understand the meaning of  PRIDE bring the rest of us down to their level. We must strive to make them understand the importance of maintaining their homes to themselves, their neighbors and the town.

For additional reading on the value of Curb Appeal, see Zillow’s excellent article 5 Ways to Improve Your Home’s Curb Appeal

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About lenrapp

I am the president of the International Press Association and the publisher of IMPress Magazine. As a working photojournalist and videographer, I cover many events in the New York and New Jersey area for our publications. I am looking forward to our newest publication the Hazlet Times that will be a publication meant to showcase the things I love in Hazlet and those that might need some improvements.

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