Humidity-sensing fan A bath ventilation fan is one of the most under-valued and under-used products in a house. Designed to remove moisture and odor, bath fans are often improperly sized and, because home buyers don’t run them long enough, frequently misused. In contrast, a humidity-sensing fan doesn’t rely on human behavior. As the name suggests, it recognizes excess humidity and automatically activates, running for the recommended amount of time to take care of extra moisture. Such fans are great for laundry rooms too.
Low-profile smoke detector The residential fire alarm is an important piece of hardware, but it’s perhaps one of the least attractive items in a home. Despite its unsightliness, the product is also usually placed in a very visible location due to its home safety importance. A svelte smoke detector is a much better idea. This style of unit has a sleek appearance, so it will virtually disappear from view after it’s installed.
Crack-isolation membrane Home buyers love stone and tile flooring, but if these surfaces are installed incorrectly, stone and tile can crack and warp due to movement in the floor. Installing a crack isolation membrane under the tile will greatly reduce the chances for problem. The membrane acts as an uncoupling layer—between tile and subfloor—that prevents cracks, but it can also serve as a waterproofing membrane and vapor management layer. Your buyers won’t know this product is in their house, but when they praise the enduring appearance of their floor, you will.
Hybrid electric water heater Many people know the principles of flight; they just don’t quite believe them. The same goes for tankless water heaters. Even though a tankless water heater is a great energy-saving product, many home buyers are suspicious of the technology. But they’re likely to believe in a hybrid electric water heater—and the reduced electric bills that come with it. The unit looks like a regular tank, but it’s made with a heat pump that draws heat from the surrounding air and uses it to produce hot water. When there is peak demand for hot water, a traditional electric heating element kicks in. It costs more initially than a standard water heater, but the payback can be as fast as three years.
Attractive entry door Just as you catch more flies with honey, you catch more buyers’ attention with a snazzy entry door system. Don’t believe us? The “2009/2010 Cost vs. Value Report” by REMODELING magazine (BUILDER’s sister publication) says one of the greatest value-yielding improvement projects is a mid-priced entry door costing less than $1,200. ‘Nuff said!
Thermally treated lumber Thermally treated lumber is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of using chemicals and additives to make wood resistant to rot, moisture, insects, and decay, manufacturers treat lumber with heat or steam. The heat-treatment process, manufacturers say, also increases the wood’s dimensional stability. Plus, it’s totally non-toxic. But does it work? The wood has been used in Europe since the early 1990s.
Incandescent-style CFLs If you like compact fluorescent bulbs but you hate their spiral design, try a CFL product that looks exactly like an incandescent. The manufacturer has found a way to place the spiral tubes inside of a typical incandescent bulb’s glass dome. The dome is made from frosted glass, which gives it the appearance of a standard bulb. The undeniable coolness of this approach is not up for debate, unlike the topic of how people feel about CFLs, which is another story altogether.
A distinctive kitchen faucet No doubt the slumping economy has forced you to value-engineer the heck out of your homes—perhaps to the point where they may have lost all character. If that’s case, it’s time you start thinking strategically about adding cool products with impact, such as a kitchen faucet that adds a little wow-factor. You could go for the gold with a high-end brand, but you can also check www.overstock.com or www.efaucets.com for products that costs as little as $120 but look like a million bucks.
A good entry door hardware Architects like to say the entry door handle is the handshake of a house. It sets the tone for what the buyer will see—or might see—inside. So, when it comes to entry door hardware, go big or go home. That doesn’t mean going overboard with something exorbitantly expensive; it just means finding a product that will grab your buyers’ attention.
Linear drain You likely have seen these products—or maybe not, since they seem to operate in stealth mode. Unlike the typical round drain found in almost every bathroom, linear drains started making appearances several years ago, with one product first available for residential use to now many options. The cool thing about these products is that they are less conspicuous than round drains and only require that you pitch the shower in one direction instead of multiple.