Building a Sustainable Home

Sustainable housing is one that makes good use of resources and energy use to ensure there is minimal impact on the environment because of the house. The overriding principle in sustainable housing is that it must involve less energy and less waste, lower environmental impacts, and more re-use. Making a house sustainable can be done with a few small cheap projects all the way up to total home renovations – and when you’re building, you can add as many “green” aspects to the house as you want. Here are some of our best ideas.

Good Insulation of Walls

This aids in cooling, and saves on energy costs. Insulation keeps the temperature of the home stable, and badly installed insulation means the house will have to work much harder to heat and cool itself, which drives up your monthly bills and can cost a lot more over time.

Aim for the Sun

Orientate a new home for max sunlight exposure. Aim your house to the south if you want the most sunlight over the course of the day, or to the east or west if you want intense direct sunlight for half of the day. Aim your house to the north if you want little sun.

Choose Appliances with Energy Efficiency

A regular electrical appliance won’t make the cut as far as a sustainable house goes. Swap them for energy saving certified products instead. They may have a bigger price tag right now, but over the time you live in your new house, you will save multiple times what you pay for it.

Use Non-Toxic Building Materials

This may also cost a little more – the cheapest you can get is builder’s grade and those barely make the cut to be used at all. So expect the use of non-toxic building materials to run up a bill. However, non toxic building materials lower environmental impacts the house could pose.

Use Local Materials

Use lumber cut locally, products made locally, and buy as much as you can in-person. Not only does this improve the local economy, but it cuts down on transportation costs to get the products from wherever they are to you. Less traffic emissions is always a plus in our book.

Minimize Resource Waste

During construction, recycle as much waste as you can and reduce the amount of waste in general. To give an example, home building materials can be sourced from demolished projects which have been recycled. Talk to your general contractor to learn more about this.

Use Renewable Electricity Resources

This one is a little more expensive up front but literally saves tens of thousands of dollars over time. To achieve this you will install either a small scale wind turbine or a micro hydro system. Wisely choosing the power company that will offer renewable sources is also a good thing.

Build the House How You Want It The First Time

If you can handle it, build your house exactly how you want it the first time around, so that later you do not have to remodel and create more environmental waste and hardship. Think of the future – if you know you want to expand your family, build the house to reflect that.

Use Native Plant Life for Curb Appeal

If you live in a cold climate and purchase warm weather plants, they likely won’t live very long, and to replace them will mean the transportation of new plants. It will also support the bees and other pollinators to use local plant life when you are setting up your garden.

Install Solar Panels

Probably one of the most popular options, solar panels do a lot to make a home more sustainable. You can also choose to have a single solar panel instead of outfitting your entire house if finances are an issue. The one solar panel will still greatly offset your energy usage.

Use Energy Saving Bulbs

When the light fixtures are built on your new house, make sure you use energy saving bulbs. They last many thousands of hours longer than regular light bulbs and they are also easier on the electrical usage of the house. Replace incandescent lightbulbs with fluorescent or LED bulbs.

Use Multi-Socket Extension Loads

A home’s power consumption can be reduced by up to 15% if multi-socket extension loads are used. Of all of the choices to lower power consumption, this one is one of the choices with the biggest impact. One of the only other ways to reduce your impact this much is to go solar.

Build a Compost Station

Composting kitchen waste will reduce the amount of house waste in landfills, and will also reduce the costs associated with collecting the wastes. You can compost any organic material, and then use it as fertilizer in your garden – which yields more organic material that you can then compost.

Choose Organic Bedding

This choice has less to do with home-building decisions, but is still so important that we cannot surpass it. Cotton linen usage accounts for almost one third of insecticide usage in the world. Changing your bedding to organic cotton or bamboo is much more sustainable.

Choose Energy Efficient Windows

These windows keep the house cooler during the summer and warmer during the winter thanks to their excellent insulation. Regular windows do an okay job of insulating the house, but that is what these windows are specially made to do. You will save on your energy bill for sure.

Build Water Tanks to Collect Rain Water

Collect rainwater in tanks for use in bathrooms and the garden. You can’t drink it, but you can flush a toilet with it, water your plants with it, or flush the gutters with it. Rain water harvesting will assist in reducing waste of piped water, which helps out the environment.

Use a Programmable Thermostat

Thermostats are made to help give you more control over your home’s temperature, so keep the environment in mind while you are setting it. Keep your house a little warmer or cooler than you would like when you are not around or sleeping, depending on the season.

Install Low Flush Toilets

Low flush toilets can significantly assist in reducing water waste compared to traditional toilets. Traditional toilets use around 6 liters of water per flush, and low flush toilets use around 4.5 liters (or less!) per flush. This amounts to thousands of gallons of water per year!

Use Eco-Friendly Paints

Everyone knows to avoid lead paint, but that isn’t enough when you’re trying to be as eco friendly as possible. The use of paints that are plant or water based are much better than the traditional paints, which contain chemicals that are harmful to the local air quality.

Use Motion Sensing Lights Instead of Switches

Have you ever forgotten to turn a light off? If you switch to motion sensing lights, you won’t have to worry about that anymore. You’ll also save a ton in electricity – and you’ll know that you’ll only be using electricity when you really need it.

Install Skylights In Top-Floor Rooms

Skylights provide a ton of natural light as well as a little room-warming thanks to the sun. That means they are highly energy saving and reduce energy consumption by a lot! They also don’t take up a lot of wall space, meaning that you can install as many as you want!

Use Sustainable Flooring Materials

Everyone wants good looking floors, but you really can have it all with sustainable flooring materials – they look fantastic and durable, but are also great for the environment too. This is another thing that you can ask your general contractor about – they will likely point you to bamboo flooring.

Choose The Site Wisely

Avoid hazardous areas like flood zones. If you can’t, make sure your home is able to withstand the hazard. You don’t want to have to build your house twice – it’s not good for the environment! Whatever natural disaster you’re facing, make sure your house is protected against it.

Build a Smaller House

Less work, less emissions, less energy consumption, and less damage to the environment – smaller houses are just more sustainable. A larger house requires a lot more of everything, even the bad things. Try not to over-do it on the size of the house. It’s less wasteful!

Use Air Sealing

This is one of the lesser know energy efficient home ideas that people often forget about. It prevents air from exiting your house – conditioned air that you’re paying for. Make sure there is sealant at all exit points of the house – the windows, doors, vents, electrical conduits, and any other places.

Consider Efficient HVAC Design

Your AC and heat will be the largest source of energy consumption in your home. You want to use an efficient, well designed system. Consider a smart thermostat, zones, efficient equipment, mini split units, and more. HVAC is a huge portion of energy consumption and should be efficient.

A sustainable house is a home that has the least possible negative effect on our environment. What we build matters, and so does how we build it.

Reasons Your Home Isn’t Selling

Has your home been on the market for what feels like forever? You listed your home and it has been showing, of course, but no offers have come in. You know you need to make some changes, but what can you do? What should you prioritize? How do you know where you’re going wrong?

When the average number of days a home is on the market ranges from 75 to 145, a home will sell for the most amount of money in the first 30 days that it is on the market. This is because potential buyers start to wonder what is wrong with a home if it hasn’t sold in 30 days. With that being said, you want your house to sell fast! The longer it sits on the market, the more the sale will fall below list price, so you want to solve this issue as quickly as possible.

Here are some reasons your home likely isn’t selling as fast as you want it to.

The Price is Too High
We know – your house is precious to you and you feel it’s worth top dollar. But pricing a house too high is an extremely common mistake. 51% of agents say that pricing a home incorrectly is the biggest mistake a seller can make. Pricing a home for sale can be hard – you want to make a profit, but you want to be fair when you decide on a number. There are a ton of ways to look at data points to determine a fair market value for your home, but the best way to get an accurate number is to work with an appraiser and an agent. Your appraiser has no horse in the race of your house selling, so you know he or she will give you an accurate number. Also, it is your agent’s job to position their listings where they sell in the coveted first 30 days. They will be able to tell you if your asking price is too ambitious. Either way, don’t let your house sit on the market for any longer than a month without doing a price drop, no matter what anyone tells you. It can be disappointing, but isn’t the end of the world – 22% of sellers in the last ten years have reduced their asking price at least once.

Your House is Too Unique

Either you have a property that is snatched off of the market the first week, or you don’t – and one reason you might fall in the “don’t” camp is because your house is a little too unique. Very large homes, very high end or expensive homes, homes in strange areas, or homes with odd and unusual features can take a lot longer to match with a dream buyer. If you have the expendable cash, see if you can bring your home a little closer to neutral. Make sure the walls are all white, the flooring is a neutral color and style, the outside of the house has attractive landscaping that would be easy for anyone to uphold, and more. If a small remodel isn’t in your best financial interest, you can change your marketing strategy. For example, if you are trying to sell a home with multiple complete living spaces (such as a duplex turned home), change your strategy towards using the other space as a rental for extra income, instead of trying to sell one family two homes in one. Make it work for your buyer. Selling a unique home may also require the listing of the property in places other than the local online real estate sites. More eyes on the listing means more opportunities for things to work out.

Your Staging is Off-Target

Staging matters. It helps your buyer picture their own stuff in your house, and the better they are able to do that, the more likely they are to buy from you. Un-staged or badly staged homes can come off as cluttered, small, dark, and as if the potential buyer is invading someone else’s space. Typically, a properly staged home sells for more money and in a shorter amount of time. Staged homes sell 87% faster than un-staged homes, for example, and for 17% more. 96% of surveyed realtors agreed that staging has a noticeable effect on potential buyers, and that they are a lot more likely to favor the house in that case. Remember too that staging is not only about making your house look clean, orderly, and neutral. It is also about fixing up the small things that can distract people from your house as a whole – scuffed paint, floors in need of a polish, or highly outdated fixtures. Buyers have a lot of trouble seeing past those things to focus on the potential of the house. Incorrect staging could fail to show off your home’s assets or highlight flaws that you don’t want your buyers to notice.

Your Curb Appeal is Non-Existent

You stage the inside of your home, and you should stage the outside, too. After all, the first thing your buyer sees of your house is the outside of it. If your yard is littered with children’s toys, dead landscaping or grass, trash, or yard decorations, it’s likely to turn off a potential buyer. You don’t want to turn off a buyer before they even reach the front door! Of course, the planting of a few flowers in the front garden aren’t going to net you an additional 50K on your house, but it is proven that lawn care gets an average of 303% ROI and general landscaping gets an average of 100% ROI. Upgrade your curb appeal – clean things up, grow some grass, plant those flowers, and repaint the shutters. If you don’t know where to start with this (or don’t have the time to do it), hire a professional landscaper. They can help tell you the easiest and cheapest ways to make your yard look amazing in the smallest amount of time. Don’t forget the backyard, either – touch up the stain or the paint on your fence, and if you don’t have a fence, install one! Make sure the trees in the yard are living and attractive, and not fall-risks.

Your Listing Photos Are Bad Quality

Over half of buyers look online before they even consider visiting a house they’re interested in, and photos you took on your flip phone aren’t going to make them want to come take a tour. If your listing photos don’t show how amazing your house is in crystal clear quality, no one is going to come tour it. If your house has been on the market for a long time with no tours or offers, consider updating your listing photos. Take the photos with a real camera – it’s worth the extra effort. Listing photos taken with professional cameras typically get around 60% more page views than listing photos taken on cell phones. In fact, good photos can increase the selling price of your home starting at around $1,000. If you don’t have your own camera, hire a professional. Your agent should be able to help you arrange this or arrange it for you. It’s one of the things your commission to them is supposed to pay for. If they don’t provide the photographer, find someone yourself. A little investment will deliver massive returns.

There’s a Specific Issue

Every potential buyer in the world will ask their agent – is there anything wrong with this house? If you have a glaring issue, it could be driving people away in droves. Have your agent ask tourers what would have to change for the house to be their dream house. If you get a lot of similar answers, you know what has to be changed. Once you know that there is an issue and have identified what it is, you can work to fix it. If you hear that multiple buyers are having trouble envisioning their furniture placement in your house, tighten up your staging efforts. If they want more light, paint the walls whiter, open the windows, and declutter. If it’s a bigger issue that you can’t afford to fix right now, knock a little off of your asking price. Some things can’t be changed, such as your proximity to busy roads, construction, or a “bad neighborhood”, so make sure your asking price reflects any specific issues your home has.

It isn’t too late to sell your home. No matter how long it’s been sitting on the market, there is a reason why. With the right adjustments to your home’s price, listing, staging, curb appeal, condition, and photos, it will sell. There is a happy buyer for every unique home! The worst case scenario? You take your house off the market for a while, fix it up, then relist it. If you need to or want to, you can start over with a new agent, too.

How to Negotiate Home Price – The Definitive Guide

Have you found your dream home, but the price is a little too high for you? Consider negotiating. Even if you’re comfortable paying what the seller is asking for, negotiate anyway – you never know how low you could get that price tag! Here are some things to consider when negotiating the cost of your new home.

Don’t Negotiate Just About the Money

Perhaps you are the buyer and you want the seller to cover half of the closing costs. Perhaps you, the buyer, want the seller to pay for a kitchen remodel by way of knocking some money off of their asking price. If you are the seller, perhaps you want the buyer to cover the title transfer fee as an exchange for wanting to expedite the closing process. It’s not just about the principal cost of the house – it’s also about each party’s wants and wishes from the other party, and there are a million different things that could qualify for “wants and wishes” in this sense.

Don’t Negotiate on the Basis of Asking Price

This can sound confusing, but once you understand it, you’ll be certain it’s the best way to go – do not negotiate the asking price of the house only. You must negotiate based on the total cost of the transaction and the total cost of owning the home. What does this mean? Getting the house of your dreams for less than it’s asking price sounds like a huge victory, but it can sell out if the house ends up being incredibly expensive to maintain or fix up. Yes, you must consider principal cost, closing fees, points, and other fees, but you must also consider how much it will cost monthly to own the house and negotiate with that number in mind as well.

Don’t Talk Numbers with Anyone But Your Agent

Any agent that is not your own is working for the seller, and is obligated to tell the seller anything that you share with them. If you are toured through the house by the seller’s agent, and tell them about your budget and your home wishes, it can undermine your negotiating power because now the seller knows all the cards in your hand. You must only talk numbers or wishes with your own agent, who will then help you deliver a negotiation to the seller in such a way that it does not undermine your negotiating power. This is especially important as you work through the negotiation process.

There is another side to this that you can consider accessing if you think you’re able to pull it off. Consider this: It’s in the seller’s agent’s best interest to close this home sale deal quickly so they can move on to their next client. If you can subtly convince them that you’re ready to buy, with the deposit prepared, the mortgage hypothetically ready to go with the bank, and the lawyer on-call, the seller’s agent will be highly likely to suggest you as a great option to the seller, even if your offer is lower than the seller had hoped. This removes any need for actual negotiating, but you must play it safe and must remember not to lie or intentionally dupe the seller’s agent – you just want to subtly imply that you’re ready to go.

Ask your Agent to Do it For You

Does the concept of haggling with someone about a large purchase make you sick to your stomach with anxiety? No worries – typically, your agent will be happy to negotiate on your behalf, only requiring you to sign your name to documents and confirm information with them. You should only speak to the seller or the seller’s agent to negotiate if you want to, and an agent who refuses to negotiate on your behalf is not one you should partner with! Be aware, though, that your agent’s job is not to get you the best deal, it’s to have the deal go through in the first place. You must outright ask them to help you negotiate and tell them what your ramifications are, and should not assume they will just do it for you by default. Sure, they will communicate with the seller, but you should ask them if you want them to push for a different or lower price!

Sell Before You Buy

This can be risky and stressful, but can have a huge payoff if it’s done correctly. If you sell your current house before you buy a new one, you are what seller’s agents refer to as “chain free”. This means that the seller will not have to wait for you to sell your current home before you buy their home, and that the process will be much quicker. Sellers will always prefer this, so you may be able to avoid negotiation all-together if you are able to get across to the seller’s agent that you’re a good prospect due to the speed in which the transaction can be completed.

Be Kind, But Firm

You don’t want to insult the seller by telling them they should lower the price due to all the flaws in their beloved family home. They may not be so inclined to sell their precious house to someone who is unkind to them about it. Instead, be kind but firm. If there is something about the house that is structurally unsound, unsafe, or not livable, you have every right not to budge. If one of your issues is largely or completely cosmetic, phrase your negotiation as less of a demand. And certainly don’t go overboard and tell the seller every single scratch and dent in the home to “nickel and dime” them into a lower price – they’ll almost surely pass you up for another seller that is less trouble to them.

Put Your Offer in Writing

Sellers and their agents both like this, and it shows them that you’re serious, especially if the letter is accompanied by proof of your mortgage offer or pre-approval. You may also find it to your benefit to indicate to the seller and their agent that you can be flexible to suit their schedule and that you’re willing to work with them. The easier you make selling to you sound, the more likely you will be sold to!

A Refusal is Not The End of the Conversation

If your negotiation offer is refused, it isn’t the end of the conversation. The seller simply replied to your offer. You can make another one! The seller may simply be playing a mind game with you to see how high they can get your offer with repeated refusals. Be sure t communicate to your own agent the absolute highest you will go, and then do not offer higher than that number under any circumstances. If your highest offer receives a refusal in return, communicate to both agents (yours and the seller’s) that you remain interested and will be available to talk again if the seller would like to return to you as a potential buyer.

Consider Negotiating Up

Do you really want to get your name in with the seller? Offer more than what they’re asking for. Don’t do this unless you really love the house and if you know that you’ll be able to afford it’s monthly upkeep less what you’ve paid over the original asking price. Make sure your finances offer that sort of flexibility. Be careful, though, because any counter offers should be made in descending order, so the seller knows there is a limit to how much you’ll spend and how long you’re willing to negotiate. Don’t let them talk you into paying even more than your original offer of more than they asked for!

Always Ask for a Home Warranty

No matter what, make sure you do this. It’s common for a seller to pay this expense up front, so do your due diligence to make sure they do. The seller pays the premium for the home warranty, usually between $400 and $600, and then the new homeowner is responsible for the deductible with any claim they make. The home warranty covers the repair of key items that come with the house, such as plumbing systems, appliances, air systems, or heating.

Renting? Ask the Seller to Buy You Out of Your Lease

You don’t have to wait until your current lease is up on your rental home or apartment before you can buy a house. In fact, you can negotiate with your seller to pay to buy you out of your lease. Many times, the seller has no issues with adjusting the price for this, as it’s usually only a few thousand dollars. This works the other way around as well – if a seller needs extra time to vacate due to another home purchase or construction, the buyers can grant them the extra time in exchange for a lower price on the home.

What Does a Home Appraiser Look For In a House?

Lenders, such as your bank, require an appraiser to evaluate a home before they will fund your mortgage. This professional evaluation ensures that the buyer’s desired home exists, that the area supports the loan amount and that the home has the features listed in the listing agreement. A home appraiser’s job is to confirm that the contract price is fair for all parties involved in a home sale – the buyer, the seller, and the bank, who is lending the money.

Neighborhood Characteristics

You could call this “curb appeal”, but that’s not the only thing the appraiser will be looking for in this instance. They’ll also check out the general landscaping of the home – of course they want to see grass and trees, as well as other lovely landscaping concepts, but if your new home has a lot of difficult-to-care-for plants and dead trees, this can negatively affect you home’s appraisal value. Look for a home with an easy to care for and clean landscape design to increase this appraisal value.

Location

Different neighborhoods will increase or decrease the value of your home. The neighborhood’s value will be determined based on a number of factors – the crime rate, the distance from the home to schools, the distance from the home to the nearest hospital, the neighborhood’s school district’s rating, how close the home is to community amenities (parks, pools, gyms), how well maintained the public services are (roads, street lamps), and how busy or safe the immediate closest roads are.

Where your home is positioned within your neighborhood holds some weight. If your house is closer to the main road where you will hear traffic passing all night long, your house might not be appraised for as much as if your house was quietly tucked into the back of your neighborhood, where the ambient volume levels are much lower.

Age of the Home

A newer home won’t always be appraised at a higher number than an older home. New homes that were built in the last one or two decades usually have less major issues, but old homes that are located in historic districts or have been well maintained will also have a high appraisal value. However, if your home is 35 years old and looks like it’s 60, it will likely be appraised much lower than a 35 year old house that “looks it’s age”. It all comes down to how well the house has been maintained in all it’s years, and unfortunately, if you’re having a home appraised so you can buy it, how it’s past owners treated it is out of your control.

Design Style of the Home

There are certain design styles of a home that will likely never go out of style. For example, the choice to position the dining room near the kitchen is one that will likely continue in all new houses, forever. However, some home design trends just aren’t “in style” anymore, and believe it or not, even these cosmetic fixtures have an effect on your home appraiser’s valuation of your new house. If the cabinets are stained an out-of-date color, the permanent light fixtures are no longer in style, and the appliances are from the 90’s, you’ll likely get a lower valuation number than you thought!

Lot Size

Lot size can make a big difference when it comes to a home’s valuation. If there is a large yard, the home will be valued higher than a one without a yard at all, or one with a very small yard.

Evidence of Public Utilities (Heat, AC, Water, Gas, Electricity)

Not only is a house without access to public utilities not considered “usable and livable”, but it will be valued at much lower than a house with access to public utilities. The other thing that must be considered here is that not only does there have to be access to the utilities, they have to work well, too. Does water simply drip from the kitchen sink instead of running in a stream? Does the heat work, but not above 65 degrees? These things will also lower appraiser valuation.

Other things that the home appraiser will consider are how your heat is fueled, the age of the existing systems (regardless of how well they work), ease of use, and whether your AC is central or requires multiple individual room or window units.

Evidence of Driveway or Car Storage

There is nothing wrong with parking your vehicle on the side of the road in front of your house, but your house will simply be worth more if there is a driveway, and even more if there is an enclosed garage. The number of vehicles a garage can hold will also be taken into account, as well as the extra storage space in the garage. If the garage is detached, this will also affect the valuation of the home, and if it is separate from the home, it’s structural integrity and building materials will come into consideration as well.

Measurements (Room Size, Total Square Footage)

Total square footage is one of the first things a home appraiser will compare to the selling price of the home. They won’t let someone get away with trying to sell a tiny, cramped house for half of a million dollars. The selling price of the home and the space available in the home must make sense based on average home sales in the last year or two.

A home that has a tiny kitchen but huge bathrooms is going to be appraised lower than a home with room sizes that make sense. It’s not just about space in the home, but how it’s distributed. You want room sizes to be comfortable and good uses of the home’s total space without the ratio getting too wide. The appraiser will also look at how much of your square footage is actually livable and usable space. For example, if the basement is counted in the home’s square footage, but is not refinished, there is a lower percentage of the home that is considered “livable and usable”, which means the home’s appraisal value will be lower, too.

Number of Bathrooms and Bedrooms

What’s the first thing most people look for when viewing house listings? The number of bedrooms and bathrooms available! The more bedrooms and bathrooms, the higher the appraisal value will be. A one bedroom, one bathroom home will be valued at much lower cost than a home with five bedrooms and five bathrooms. In fact, one bedroom one bathroom homes sell for far cheaper than even a two bedroom, two bathroom home, because most families aren’t interested in them as they want a guest room, a home office, or a child’s room in that second bedroom.

Evidence of Any Past Remodeling

It’s very likely that the home you are having appraised has been appraised before, when it’s last owners bought it or built it, so your home appraiser almost certainly has files and paperwork on the house already. If they note that there has been remodeling, additions, or upgrades to the home, this will raise their valuation of the home.

Some of the most valuable home renovations are new garage doors, new and more secure front doors, a grand entrance room, new siding, and hardwood floors installed to replace carpet, but any type of remodel or upgrade will be accounted for.

Materials Used in Building

If the house was built in the last five or ten years, it will have better materials used in it’s skeleton than a home that was built 40 or 50 years ago. If the age of the house is older than the appraiser would like, they can typically be swayed by old materials being phased out with updates, such as a new roof, siding, windows, or wiring systems. If the home is structurally unsound, the appraiser will likely advise your bank not to fund your mortgage loan – this is for safety reasons.

The highest value structural updates that an appraiser will look for are updated electrical (especially when corrective), removal or non-existence of asbestos or other dated materials, a deeper basement creating potential living space (if not already refinished), new roofing, new siding, new windows, solar panels (where conditions permit), additional insulation, and high-quality entry and exit doors.

Condition of the Home (Interior and Exterior)

The general condition of the house will also be taken into account by the home appraiser. Does the house look dingy and old, or does it look well taken care of and pleasant? Is the outside of the house dirty and falling apart, or is it cleaned and kept up after? If carpet is peeling at the corners and the paint is chipping off the siding, the house will be valued lower.

Evidence of Amenities (Pool, Energy Efficient Appliances, Privacy Fencing)

Does the home have a lot of storage space? Is the basement refinished? Is the garage sized for two cars instead of one? These little things add up to a higher appraisal valuation. Much like when a home has recently been upgraded, the addition of amenities can boost a home’s valuation by a lot, but not quite as much as necessary upgrades such as those done for safety reasons.