Kitchen Treats

Cabinet companies and other kitchen and bath industry manufacturers are heating up their dealer incentives—things like one-time-only deals on cabinet door upgrades—so don’t be afraid to ask dealers to pass along the love. Then again, you might not have to ask, given that some manufacturers are bypassing the dealers. “One company is actually sending the client a $20 rebate for each cabinet purchased,” says Sara Busby, president of the National Kitchen and Bath Association.

It’s Snowing Outside

The price of building supplies falls in the construction off-season. Look for materials to start climbing in the spring when demand grows.

Bank On Better Ideas

Some banks are rolling out products to help qualified buyers meet the new credit-crunch and home value–stressed economy. In November, Huntington Bank introduced a Home Style Renovation Loan geared to projects that “need a little more than lipstick and rouge,” says Huntington’s Jim McManus. The advantage? The loan locks in at a 30-year mortgage rate at inception, unlike construction loans that roll in after 6 or 12 months, or variable interest home equity lines of credit.

Value Added

Adding equity to your home has always been a good reason to remodel—though given the current housing market Ron Reamer, of IRR Residential Axiom Appraisal in Traverse City, cautions it’s more of a long-term investment. Your fastest return, he adds, will come in mid- to upper-range homes and with kitchen and bath remodels—especially if you can take advantage of the sluggish economy and score some deals.

Off-Floor Deals

They may not advertise it with signs or bright red tickets, but showrooms often have items on sale. Michelle Harrison, showroom manager for Ferguson Enterprise, a plumbing supply company in Traverse City, says sale items typically are special orders that were cancelled and display items that have been changed out. But especially in the current economy, the list of sale items includes inventory that isn’t moving. Since the items often aren’t on the floor, go ahead and ask about sale items.

Go Green, Save Green

Last October’s Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (aka the Big Bailout) included a tax incentives for green home improvements. Think credits for everything from Energy Star windows to solar water heaters—even wind generators. “Starting in 2009 you can essentially purchase a $30,000 wind system for just $20,000 if you’ve paid at least $10,000 in federal income taxes,” explains Jim Barnes of Traverse City’s Eco-Building Products. For more on the tax credits go to and search for “tax credits.”

Points of Interest

This winter, interest rates on home equity lines of credit dropped as low as 4 percent, and construction loans fell to 5.25 percent—good numbers for putting your home equity to work.


Low demand has felled the price of lumber. “We’re seeing some lumber prices at a 5- to 20-year low,” says Ed Beuerle, President of Northern Lumber.

Hey, Work With Me Here

Since suppliers and subcontractors would rather cut their margins than lay off their employees, contractor Paul Maurer says in today’s economy consumers can negotiate with suppliers and subcontracts in a way they couldn’t several years ago. “Try saying: ‘Is there any way you can work with me on this,’” Maurer suggests.

Going Once, Going Twice …

With more time on their hands, builders are returning bids faster—which makes collecting and researching competitive bids easier.

For more on home renovation services, check out the video of Elizabeth Edward’s trip to the Traverse City Home Builders Expo.

Home Show Inspiration Now on Video!

We strongly recommend using your local home shows for inspiration and information. We’ll visit both the Home Builders Expo in Traverse City and the Home Show in Petoskey, video taping the latest products for your new home or reno, just in case you miss it. Join Elizabeth Edwards, Northern Home & Cottage Managing Editor, for a tour of the Traverse City Home Builders Expo’s 120 vendors where we will learn about geothermal heating, home accessories, unique tile, custom countertops, innovations in siding, green carpeting, and so much more!

There’s no end to inspiration available in the Northern Home & Cottage section of Here are a few additional articles on renovations we’ve covered and a link to a video on a an exciting, new home in Omena, just north of Traverse City with innovative green features. 

Fast Foodies, Sleek Kitchen. On their way to renovating their kitchen, April Stuck and Dave Mertz fell in love with modern design. Read about this star of the 2008 Ultimate Up North Kitchen Tour.

A Cottage Full of Color. Decked out in a traditional but lively palette, a former lumber baron’s house becomes the quintessential Harbor Springs vacation home.

Rebuilt to Last in Traverse City. A small downtown Traverse City home big on exquisite detail promises to satisfy another century of homeowners.

Green Home Video Tour. Danny Forster, the host of Discovery Channel’s show, Build It Bigger, walks us through his first solo architectural project–an exciting, innovative green home.