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Homes & Land of Beaufort

Covering Historic Beaufort, the Sea Islands and surrounding areas.

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Isn't It Time for Your Dream Home?

Loving Your Home
Homeownership is truly the great American dream. Purchasing a home can be exhilarating as well as all-consuming. Whether you have purchased a home recently or have owned one for years, there is always something to improve upon or repair.

What's your project? Not surprisingly, kitchen and bath renovations top the list for remodels, but trends in outdoor living, especially here in the Lowcountry, include the emergence of well-equipped lanais with stone flooring, summer kitchens and outdoor fireplaces. If you are interested in adding on, remodeling or considering building a brand new home, make sure you do your research. Organizations like the Homebuilders Association of the Lowcountry are a great resource whose members work together for a common goal and members are held to high standards.

Building and Remodeling
Little compares to that new home smell or that feeling when you relax in a home that reflects you and your family's tastes and style. In 2007, more than 770,000 new homes were built and purchased around the country. Home trends include formal walk-in closets, cable/satellite television-ready and high speed internet access, upgraded countertops and flooring. These upgrades can also be accomplished through renovation. If you have a home that needs a little face lift, you're not alone. According to a poll commissioned by PBS' well known This Old House series, nearly a third of respondents (32%) cited a high-end kitchen as their dream renovation.

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Trends over the past several years show more and more homeowners see the kitchen as a multipurpose room where computers and other home electronics figure prominently. Refrigerators and dishwashers are often trimmed with cabinetry. Decorative range hoods are increasing in popularity. Manufactured in stainless steel, copper and ceramic styles, hoods are no longer just a function of the kitchen, they are quickly becoming the centerpiece.

Countertops have evolved over the last decade as well with options that include solid surface, natural stone, quartz, wood, stainless steel, concrete, laminate and more. Today, there are more than a dozen choices in kitchen surfaces with granite consistently making the top of the list. Granite like other natural stones - marble, limestone, slate, soapstone - is very durable. It is also less porous than the other stone surfaces and only requires resealing about once a year.

Kitchen remodeling or upgrading can be expensive and time-consuming, but it does have its perks. The return on investment for a major kitchen remodeling job is nearly 80%, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Just the word can put a knot in anyone's stomach. Financing a home or remodeling project can be intimidating, but consider that the majority of wealth for affluent households is in the equity of their home, as much as 43 percent. Its easy to see that owning a home is the best investment anyone can make.

When looking for assistance, shop around. Banks compete for customers and mortgage rates vary. Credit unions are also a vital resource in financing. According to consumer-advocate Clark Howard, "Credit unions offer the nearest thing to a free lunch," with low fees and competitive rates on everything from mortgages, money markets, car loans and credit cards. Credit unions are no longer exclusionary. Depending on specific criteria, most individuals can qualify for membership.

A nice yard not only makes for a good neighbor, it helps to enhance property values as well. A high quality landscape design can actually improve the appearance of a home by adding warmth and character.

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According to a recent study, four out of five American households have a yard or a garden, and nearly one in three plan to undertake a major landscape upgrade this year. Landscaping can be challenging, especially since it involves various levels of planning, starting with the lawn, then adding trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and eventually decorative extras.

Dr. William C. Welch, professor and landscape horticulturist at Texas A&M University says, "Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment."

Dr. Welch believes that each landscaping project should have a plan that not only creates a visual relationship between the home and yard but also organizes the site for maximum use and pleasure.

Breaking your landscape plan into segments will allow for your work in progress to grow and blend into the scenery. As you begin to sketch out your plan, remember to include irrigation devices as well as any hardscape projects such as walkways, courtyards and patios.

Don't be afraid to ask a professional for help. Landscape architects have the background and talent to assist in designing the right plan for you that can not only beautify your yard but also add a level of dominance to your home's overall personality.

Pest Control
Nothing can deflate the comfort a homeowner feels than nasty pests. In the Lowcountry, the mild temperatures are perfect for insects and disease-carrying bugs. Finding a well-established pest control company can help to stave off those colonies of fire ants, the ubiquitous palmetto bug, spiders, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets and the most annoying - mosquito. Mosquitoes have been linked to West Nile Virus and other debilitating illnesses, which makes it even more important to control them, especially if you love the outdoors. One new trend is an outdoor residential misting system that provides intermittent misting of pesticides around the perimeter of a home and helps to keep the pests away. Termites are also a threat where moisture and humidity is present. Make sure you have a termite bond on your home that includes regular inspections.

The Heart of the Home
Whatever your dream renovation or upgrade, make sure you choose wisely. The Internet is full of personal reviews on companies from former and current clients. Any kind of work often includes some disruption. Make sure the company you use is reliable and has an impeccable reputation for customer service. When your project is complete, the rewards can be numerous.

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Thank you for taking the time to view our special Home & Garden section.We hope that these tips help you prepare your dream home. Please feel free to call any of our advertisers to gain additional information. Visit us online for any of your real estate needs at
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