Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Forbes top 10 recession proof investments you can make in your home

Cork Floors
Cork is quickly becoming an alternative to pricier tile and wood-plank flooring. Low-density cork is an effective insulator, plus it doesn't rot when exposed to water nor does it absorb dust. Premium cork flooring from a company such as Luxury Home Products will run $6.75 per square foot, assuming that you're looking to cover a space of 600 square feet or up.

Bamboo Countertops

Compressed to the thickness needed for a countertop, bamboo is significantly harder and more dense than woods such as maple--often used for cutting boards--which makes it last. Bamboo is sold in different swatches depending on how much space you need to cover. A good option from Totally Bamboo is the parquet model, which sells at the size of 96 inches by 30 inches for $517

LED Lighting

Short for light-emitting diode, LED lighting systems use less energy than standard bulbs, which translates into a lower electric bill. LED lights are more expensive than conventional light bulbs, but can pay for themselves over time. Swing by Home Depot and you'll find120V light bulbs like this one for $39.99.

Garage Doors

No one does garages like Vault, which can be best thought of as the Williams-Sonoma of garage design. Luxury carriage-door models and revamped pavement leading up to them can boost your home's curb value; this is especially important if your garage is one of your home's dominant features. Costs depend on how many garage doors you have and the style and the quality of the pavement you want leading up to the garage door. It's not uncommon, however, to spend $10,000 for a Vault custom solution.

EnergyStar Windows

You'll definitely pay a bit more for an EnergyStar certified window, like this $175 32-inch-by-62-inch American Craftsman 8500 model, available at Lowe's and Home Depot, but you'll get a 10% rebate from Uncle Sam. You'll also enjoy hundreds per year in saved heating costs. For an expensive place to heat your home, like Boston, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates an annual savings of $465 a year. More moderate climates like Los Angeles can only expect about $100 in savings.

Water-Saving Toilets
Based on the American Institute of Architects' 2008 research, homeowner demand for water-saving toilets has grown. It's easy to see why: 1.6-gallon per flush models like this $370 Royal 2010 use about half the water of conventional toilets. They're sold at hardware stores or at online plumbing outlets like

Water Heater
Conventional heaters warm water continuously. The $770, 13.8-inch-wide Takagi Flash T-K3 heats water on demand, a more energy-efficient system that in some households might pay for itself in a year. Plus, since it works on demand, you'll never run out of hot water in the shower.

Radiant Heat
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that radiant heating is 20% more efficient than conventional heating systems. Though it can be inconvenient and pricey to install a radiant heating system, many of which run between $5,000 and $7,000 if you're looking at an 800-square-foot space, this luxury buy may save you 20% a year in heating costs.

Besides the aesthetic and health benefits of a garden and yard, it's often the first thing buyers see when they're looking at a home. The National Association of Realtors estimates that 70% of home buyers start the buying process online, and if your front yard pushes people away before they even come to visit the house, you're in trouble in this kind of market

Doorless Showers
Also called walk-in showers, this is a design trend that likely isn't the function of a down economy, but is mentioned again and again by builders and architects as something consumers want. This $1,550 polished-silver trimmed Kohler Cyan walk-in shower enclosure is popular among boomers as they get older, and is a design element that can also be found in high-end urban apartment complexes.