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Home & Garden

(BPT) - Days are beginning to shorten and the evening air has a hint of coolness, which means soon there will be thoughts of planning for the holiday season. Many homeowners saved money during the past year due to putting vacations on hold, working from home and not spending as much on events. More households have the money for the home renovation they may have been planning.



"People are beginning to think about the holidays and renovating spaces where visitors will gather," said Christopher O'Rourke, Mercury Insurance Vice President of Property Claims. "Due to the costs of raw materials increasing, the price of goods has naturally increased. Before you set out remodeling the kitchen of your dreams, consider the quality of the type of materials you will be using, how much they will cost, and how much they can alter your insurance premium."

Time is another item to consider. The average kitchen remodel can take anywhere from six to eight weeks while bathrooms can take four to six weeks.

Here are three kitchen and bath upgrades you can still do before the start of the holiday season.

1. Update lighting and fixtures

The right kitchen lighting can create the optimal holiday mood where a warm glow can stir feelings of cozy comfort for your guests. A dimmer switch in the bathroom can offer calming light for a bath. Beyond the ambience, however, you should consider what function these rooms will serve after the visitors have gone and they become everyday use spaces.

"A change in lighting can make all the difference in the look of your home, but when considering any electrical changes it's best to hire a qualified electrician to examine your home's electrical system," said O'Rourke. "Updating old electrical installations may eventually reduce your homeowners insurance cost as older electrical systems are more likely to be considered fire hazards, which can impact the cost of your coverage. Updated electrical equipment can lower this cost."

2. Replacing old appliances with high energy-efficiency appliances

Smart refrigerators and dishwashers will generate looks of admiration from your guests while making holiday meal prep and cleanup easier and less time consuming. These appliances go beyond their aesthetically pleasing qualities as they can also lower energy consumption and costs, and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"Innovations such as improved design and reduced water and energy consumption make Energy Star appliances a smart choice when replacing older appliances," said O'Rourke. "They are a great investment because they can save you money by cutting consumption costs as soon as they are installed."

3. Update floors and countertops

Granite and marble countertops, wood cabinets, and stone floors are some of the more popular materials being used to give homes a modern look. These high-end renovations will increase your home value, as well as your premiums, but not by as much as you think.

"There is a misconception that premiums will jump significantly with the installation of contemporary materials, but on average, Mercury Insurance policyholders may only see an increase of several more dollars a month added to their policy," said O'Rourke.

It's important to review any home renovations with your insurance agent in a timely manner. If not, there could be gaps in your existing coverage that may not protect your new investment if disaster strikes.




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