3 Quick Maintenance Tips to Make Your Roof Last

Your roof is one of the most important assets of your home. Here are some tips to help maintain it.

This article originally appeared on Porch.com

Written by Peter Kim

A brand-new roof is a massive investment, but no other element of your home is quite as valuable. While the average lifespan of a roof is about 15 years, careful homeowners have a few ways to extend the life of their homes without enduring too many headaches. Take a look at these three quick maintenance tips that will make your roof last.

Read Related: Need A New Roof? Here’s Your Roofing 101

1. Keep Your Gutters Clear

Most people don’t think of their gutters as part of their roof, but allowing debris to accumulate and clog your gutters adds extra weight and pulls away at your roof’s fascia, which can be a costly fix. Look down the length of your roof for any signs of sagging or bending – that’s a sure sign your gutters are carrying too much weight and pulling at your roof. Downspouts should also be carefully maintained, but don’t be fooled by easy-flowing water. Moss and algae buildup on and around your roof can slowly eat away at your roofing material and severely compromise its integrity.

Read Related: How To Remove Ice Dams From Your Roof & Gutters

2. Focus On The Attic

The exterior of your roof isn’t the only area you should be focused on. Your attic is your roof’s first line of defense against damage and you have two methods of attack: insulation and ventilation.

Insulating your attic has the double benefit of keeping your home’s internal temperature at a more reasonable level while also preventing vapor and moisture buildup on the underside of your roof. When combined with proper ventilation (which may mean adding a fan to your attic), your attic can stay dry and keep your roof’s rafters safe from moisture damage.

Read Related: 5 Steps to Maintain Your Attic

3. Catch Problems Early

Check on your roof regularly, whether it’s with every change of the season or after a significant storm. Catching small issues early on can only save you money in the long run, so utilizing the services of a reliable, professional roofer is an invaluable asset. As with any working professional, it’s a good idea to establish a working relationship with a roofer and even consider scheduling a yearly checkup for your roof just to make sure there aren’t any problems sneaking up on you. After all, spending a little each year to maintain your roof is a lot better than dropping $15,000-$50,000 on a new one, right?

Read Related: Roof & Gutter Maintenance Plus Ladder Safety

 Porch.com is the free home network that connects homeowners and renters with the right home service professionals.


Posted on February 7, 2018 at 9:00 am
Greg Rittner | Posted in Housing Trends | Tagged , , , ,

Six Key Factors That Affect the Sales Price of Your Home

Pricing a home for sale is not nearly as simple as most people think. You can’t base the price on what the house down the street sold for. You can’t depend on tax assessments. Even automatic valuation methods (AVMs), while useful for a rough estimate of value, are unreliable for purposes of pricing a home for sale.

AVMs, like those used by Zillow and Eppraisal, have been used for many years by banks for appraisal purposes. They are derived from algorithmsbased on past sales. But producers of AVMs agree that they are not accurate indicators of home value. For example, Zillow.com states, “Our data sources may be incomplete or incorrect; also, we have not physically inspected a specific home. Remember, the Zestimate is a starting point and does not consider all the market intricacies that can determine the actual price a house will sell for. It is not an appraisal.”

So what does Zillow recommend sellers do instead? The same thing the real estate industry has been advising for decades: Ask a real estate agent who knows your neighborhood to provide you with a comparative market analysis. To accomplish that, I typically consider the following factors—plus others, depending on the house:

Location

The location of your home will have the biggest impact on how much it can sell for. Identical homes located just blocks apart can fetch significantly different prices based on location-specific conditions unique to each, including: traffic, freeway-access, noise, crime, sun exposure, views, parking, neighboring homes, vacant lots, foreclosures, the number of surrounding rentals, access to quality schools, parks, shops, restaurants and more.

Recommendation: Be willing to price your house for less if it’s located in a less desirable area or near a neighborhood nuisance.

Market

Another major factor that also can’t be controlled is your local housing market (which could be quite different from the national, state or city housing markets). If there are few other homes on the market in your local area (a situation known as a “sellers market”), you may be able to set a higher price. However, if there’s a surplus of homes like yours for sale (a “buyer’s market”), your pricing will also reflect that.

Recommendation: If it’s a buyer’s market and you can delay selling your home until things change, you should consider doing so. If you can’t wait, be willing to price your home extremely competitively, especially if you are in a hurry to sell.

Condition

The majority of buyers are not looking to purchase fixer-uppers, which is why any deferred maintenance and repair issues can also significantly impact the selling price of your home. When your home’s condition is different than the average condition of homes in your location, AVMs tend to produce the widest range of error.

Recommendation:  Hire a professional home inspector to provide you with a full, written report of everything that needs upgrading, maintenance or repair, then work with your real estate agent to prioritize the list and decide what items are worth completing before the property is listed for sale, and what should be addressed through a lower list price. Also, some defects are best addressed during negotiations with buyers.

Widespread appeal

If you want to sell your home quickly and for the most money, you have to make it as appealing as possible to the largest pool of prospective buyers. The more universally attractive it is, the greater the interest and the faster competing offers will come.

Recommendation:

Hire a professional home stager (not a decorator) to temporarily stage the interior of your home. Also spend time making the exterior look its best: address any peeling paint, make sure the front door/ door hardware is attractive, prune bushes and trees, remove old play equipment and outdoor structures, etc.

Compare homes

The only neighboring homes that should be used to estimate the value of your home are those that have been carefully selected by a real estate professional with special training, access to all sales records, and in-depth knowledge of the neighborhood.

Recommendation: If you’re considering selling your home, ask your real estate agent to recommend a professional appraiser.

Searchability

When working with a prospective buyer, most real estate agents will search the available inventory only for the homes priced at (or less than) their client’s maximum, which is typically a round number. If your home is priced slightly above or below that amount (e.g., $510,000 or $495,000), it will appear in fewer buyer searches.

Recommendation: Be willing to adjust your selling price to maximize visibility.

Periodic price adjustments

Pricing a home isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it proposal. As with any strategy, you need to be prepared to adapt to fast-changing market conditions, new competition, a lack of offers and other outside factors.

Recommendation: After listing your house, be ready to adjust your asking price, if necessary.


Posted on February 6, 2018 at 9:00 am
Greg Rittner | Posted in For Sellers | Tagged ,

3-Story Condo With Mountain Views

Featuring 2 Bedrooms, 2 1/2 Bathrooms And Lots Of Upgrades!

Don’t miss out on an opportunity to own this awesome 2 bed/ 2.5 bath, end unit town-home in Coal Creek Village. Less than 1.5 miles from Old Town Lafayette. On the main floor you will find: hardwood floors throughout, granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances and upgraded light fixtures. From the master bedroom you can’t miss the great views of the mountains. This home also features an energy efficient furnace and a tank-less water heater. This one won’t last; schedule your showing today!

For more information, please visit: http://mustacherealtor.com/listing/75153054 or call Greg Rittner at (970) 460-3033.

 


Posted on February 5, 2018 at 11:37 pm
Greg Rittner | Posted in Northern Colorado Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Homeowners Insurance: Protecting Your Home

In addition to providing shelter and comfort, our home is often our single greatest asset. And it’s important that we protect that precious investment. Most homeowners realize the importance of homeowners insurance in safeguarding the value of a home. However, what they may not know is that about two-thirds of all homeowners are under-insured. According to a national survey, the average homeowner has enough insurance to rebuild only about 80% of his or her house.

What a standard homeowners policy covers

A standard homeowner’s insurance policy typically covers your home, your belongings, injury or property damage to others, and living expenses if you are unable to live in your home temporarily because of an insured disaster.

The policy likely pays to repair or rebuild your home if it is damaged or destroyed by disasters, such as fire or lighting. Your belongings, such as furniture and clothing, are also insured against these types of disasters, as well as theft. Some risks, such as flooding or acts of war, are routinely excluded from homeowner policies.

Other coverage in a standard homeowner’s policy typically includes the legal costs for injury or property damage that you or family members, including your pets, cause to other people. For example, if someone is injured on your property and decides to sue, the insurance would cover the cost of defending you in court and any damages you may have to pay. Policies also provide medical coverage in the event someone other than your family is injured in your home.

If your home is seriously damaged and needs to be rebuilt, a standard policy will usually cover hotel bills, restaurant meals and other living expenses incurred while you are temporarily relocated.

How much insurance do you need?

Homeowners should review their policy each year to make sure they have sufficient coverage for their home. The three questions to ask yourself are:

·      Do I have enough insurance to protect my assets?

·      Do I have enough insurance to rebuild my home?

·      Do I have enough insurance to replace all my possessions?

Here’s some more information that will help you determine how much insurance is enough to meet your needs and ensure that your home will be sufficiently protected.

Protect your assets

Make sure you have enough liability insurance to protect your assets in case of a lawsuit due to injury or property damage. Most homeowner’s insurance policies provide a minimum of $100,000 worth of liability coverage. With the increasingly higher costs of litigation and monetary compensation, many homeowners now purchase $300,000 or more in liability protection. If that sounds like a lot, consider that the average dog bite claim is about $20,000. Talk with your insurance agent about the best coverage for your situation.

Rebuild your home

You need enough insurance to finance the cost of rebuilding your home at current construction costs, which vary by area. Don’t confuse the amount of coverage you need with the market value of your home. You’re not insuring the land your home is built on, which makes up a significant portion of the overall value of your property. In pricey markets such as San Francisco, land costs account for over 75 percent of a home’s value.

The average policy is designed to cover the cost of rebuilding your home using today’s standard building materials and techniques. If you have an unusual, historical or custom-built home, you may want to contact a specialty insurer to ensure that you have sufficient coverage to replicate any special architectural elements. Those with older homes should consider additions to the policy that pay the cost of rebuilding their home to meet new building codes.

Finally, if you’ve done any recent remodeling, make sure your insurance reflects the increased value of your home.

Remember that a standard policy does not pay for damage caused by a flood or earthquake. Special coverage is needed to protect against these incidents. Your insurance company can let you know if your area is flood or earthquake prone. The cost of coverage depends on your home’s location and corresponding risk.

Replacing your valuables

If something happens to your home, chances are the things inside will be damaged or destroyed as well. Your coverage depends on the type of policy you have. A cost value policy pays the cost to replace your belongings minus depreciation. A replacement cost policy reimburses you for the cost to replace the item.

There are limits on the losses that can be claimed for expensive items, such as artwork, jewelry, and collectables. You can get additional coverage for these types of items by purchasing supplemental premiums.

To determine if you have enough insurance, you need to have a good handle on the value of your personal items. Create a detailed home inventory file that keeps track of the items in your home and the cost to replace them.

Create a home inventory file

It takes time to inventory your possessions, but it’s time well spent. The little bit of extra preparation can also keep your mind at ease.  The best method for creating a home inventory list is to go through each room of your home and individually record the items of significant value.  Simple inventory lists are available online.  You can also sweep through each room with a video or digital camera and document each of your belongings. Your home inventory file should include the following items:

·      Item description and quantity

·      Manufacturer or brand name

·      Serial number or model number

·      Where the item was purchased

·      Receipt or other proof of purchase \Photocopies of any appraisals, along with the name and address of the appraiser

·      Date of purchase (or age)

·      Current value

·      Replacement cost

Pay special attention to highly valuable items such as electronics, artwork, jewelry, and collectibles.

Storing your home inventory list

Make sure your inventory list and images will be safe in case your home is damaged or destroyed. Store them in a safe deposit box, at the home of a friend or relative, or on an online Web storage site. Some insurance companies provide online storage for digital files. (Storing them on your home computer does you no good if your computer is stolen or damaged). Once you have an inventory file set up, be sure to update it as you make new purchases.

We invest a lot in our homes, so it’s important we take the necessary measures to safeguard it against financial and emotional loss in the wake of a disaster.


Posted on February 5, 2018 at 9:00 am
Greg Rittner | Posted in For Buyers | Tagged , , ,

5 Things to Consider if You’re Behind on Your Mortgage

Financial setbacks like the loss of a job or large medical bills can make it tough to make ends meet. If you find yourself behind on your mortgage payments, it helps to be proactive.  It’s also good to know that federal and local agencies, even banks, are working to help those who are behind on their mortgages from going into foreclosure.

If you are behind on your mortgage, here are 5 steps you can take.

1)  Call your lender as soon as possible.

As uncomfortable as that call can be, the problem will not go away by avoiding your lender. If you are having trouble making your payments, the sooner you contact your lender, the more options you will have. Some homeowners postpone communicating with their lender for so long, that foreclosure becomes the only option.  Don’t let that happen to you.

2) Talk to a housing counselor.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has a list of approved nonprofit housing counselors, who will provide free counseling for homeowners who are behind on their mortgages. They’ll go over options and suggest next steps. Call HUD at 888-995-4673 or visit the HUD site to find a counselor in your area.

3)  See if you can lower your mortgage payment.

You might be able to refinance or do a loan modification to make your monthly payment more affordable. There are a number of programs available depending on your circumstances. A HUD housing counselor or your lender can help you explore your options.

4)  Find out if you qualify for a short sale.

A short sale is an alternative to foreclosure when a homeowner needs to sell and can no longer afford to make mortgage payments. The lender agrees to accept less than the amount owed to pay off a loan, rather than going forward with a lengthy and costly foreclosure process.

Although every homeowner’s situation is unique, the basic criteria for qualifying for a short sale are:

  • You need to sell your home.
  • You owe more on your mortgage than your home is worth.
  • You have a personal financial hardship that will prevent you from making future payments. (Examples of hardship include loss of job, divorce, death of a spouse and medical emergency or illness.)

In most instances, a short sale makes more sense than foreclosure. In general, when you want to obtain a loan to purchase a property in the future, more opportunities will be available to you if you do a short sale. Find out more about how short sales work.

5) See if you qualify for cash incentives tied to a short sale.

Several programs offer cash incentives to homeowners to do a short sale in order to avoid foreclosure.

The federal government’s Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) program might provide $3,000 in relocation assistance to homeowners who do short sales.

Lenders, including Chase and Bank of America, have paid significant cash incentives to encourage sellers to do a short sale and avoid foreclosure. In the past few months, we have had homeowners receive checks from their lender at closing in amounts that range up to $35,000. And these large incentives are not restricted to owners of high-end properties. The owner of a short sale property that recently sold for $164,000 received a check for $25,000. The checks are given for relocation assistance and can be used however the homeowner sees fit. There are no restrictions.

It’s important to note that the seller incentive is determined by the investor, so not every lender is paying incentives. However, if you are considering a short sale, it’s a good time to find out if you qualify.

Richard Eastern is a Windermere broker in Bellevue, WA and co-founder of Washington Property Solutions, a short sales negotiating company. Since 2003 he has helped more than 700 homeowners sell their homes. A Bellevue native and a University of Washington grad, Richard is an avid sports fan and a devoted Little League and basketball coach. You can learn more about Richard here or atwww.washortsales.com.


Posted on February 4, 2018 at 9:00 am
Greg Rittner | Posted in For Buyers | Tagged , , , , ,

Five Essentials for Your Home Office

Most people dream of working from home, but ask anyone who does it on a regular basis, and they’ll tell you how hard it can be to stay productive when you work where you live. The most disciplined telecommuters will tell you that you need a structured routine and organization to rise and grind and get into work mode.

Having a designated work space is quite possibly the most important piece to the WFH pie. Even if you live in a small space, you need to find a balance between home and office. People who work from home often have a difficult time separating work hours from their non-work hours because it’s so easy to keep at it late into the night. But maintaining a balance and shutting down the computer is important for overall well-being. What are some other must-haves for a successful home office? Here are the top five:

  1. Natural Light – Study upon study tells us that natural light is needed to boost productivity and mood. Make sure to set your desk up as close to a window as you can. If being near a window isn’t an option, a natural light lamp is the next best thing. It helps balance your body clock and leaves you feelings rested and refreshed.
  2. To-Do List or Planner – Start each day off by making a to-do list outlining what you need to get done before the end of the work day. Make sure to set a realistic time frame in which all of that should be completed, so you can check each one off the list and feel immense accomplishment once you’ve completed them all.
  3. Storage – If you have a big enough space, put in a large bookshelf where you can organize everything (think storage boxes). It reduces clutter and looks stylish. Using your walls and cabinetry is the most efficient use of space.
  4. Calendar – Many people tend to rely on digital calendars these days because of their convenience. When all of your devices sync together and pop up with reminders, you never have to worry about missing an appointment. However, many people find that it helps to keep a paper calendar handy too so you can easily view your whole month at a glance.
  5. Space for Inspiration – It doesn’t matter what field you work in, having a source of inspiration in your work space is essential. Whether it’s a photo of your family, your dream car, or that vacation you’ve been dying to take, having that inspiration right in front of you provides a constant reminder of why you do what you do.

Posted on February 3, 2018 at 9:00 am
Greg Rittner | Posted in Housing Trends | Tagged , ,

How To Prevent Your Pipes From Freezing

As winter temperatures begin to creep up around your home you may start feeling nervous about your water pipes and plumbing. If so, you’re not alone. Frozen pipes (or rather, burst pipes) can cause expensive water damage to your home and property. Even a small tear in a water pipe can send hundreds of gallons of water each minute into your home. According to the Insurance Information Institute, one in 55 homes will submit a property damage claim due to water or freezing this year.  Given the fact that many homeowners take the winter holidays to travel and leave home, it’s important to know what preventative measures you can take to winterize your home. Here are some tips for protecting exposed pipes from freezing temperatures.

Wrap and insulate pipes and plumbing

You can purchase inexpensive foam pipe covers at the hardware store and wrap pipes or plumbing to prevent heat loss inside the pipes.  You can also invest a bit more money and create a more permanent insulation environment for your plumbing by thoroughly wrapping pipes with layers of thick fiberglass insulation. This can be a DIY project or you can hire a plumber to do this for you. Keep in mind that the cost to fix a burst pipe runs an average of $5,000, so spending money to properly insulate your home is a smart way to approach this project.

Identify exposed pipes

Exposed pipes are pipes that are not insulated and may be subject to greater shifts in temperatures. This could include pipes located on the exterior of your home, pipes that lead from the exterior to the interior, or plumbing located in colder rooms like the garage, the attic or the basement (37% of frozen pipes occur in the basement). For faucets or plumbing located outside, like an exterior faucet, you’ll want to follow these steps to get them ready for winter. If you plan on being away from home for a long period of time, it might be a good idea to shut off the water supply and open all of the taps until they run dry.

Why frozen pipes burst

The rips and tears that occur in a frozen pipe aren’t primarily from the expansion of ice: ice blockages create a build up of pressure between the ice and the faucet, and it’s this increase of pressure that actually breaks the pipe. (It should be noted that the expansion of ice can directly cause damage to connection points or weak plumbing.) Additionally, several ice blockages might occur within the same pipe, as can several tears or breaks. The water leaks out when the ice melts and releases the water trapped behind it. Homeowners might not actually see the damage until just after winter, when temperatures rise, ice melts, and water starts leaking into the house. Water can freeze in the plumbing when temperatures reach 20 degrees Fahrenheit, however it has been determined that wind chill factor can increase the likelihood of frozen water so even temperatures higher than 20′ F can result in risk.

Don’t turn off your heat

If you plan on being away from your home for an extended period of time, like for a long holiday break, think twice about turning off the thermostat. First, with the temperature off or set too low, even your pipes located within insulated walls have the potential to freeze. Second, when you enter a freezing home and crank up the thermostat your heating unit will have to expend a tremendous amount of energy to warm up the home, costing potentially more money and stressing the system. Set the thermostat to a temperature you deem safe for being away and consider opening up interior doors and cabinet doors to keep the warm air flowing to all of your plumbing. If you fear a burst pipe, install a water sensor that can remotely alert you to the presence of water inside your home.

Leave the water running

If you are expecting freezing temperatures you can turn on a faucet and let the water run in a steady but small flow. An open tap releases air pressure from inside the pipe, and can prevent tearing. So even with a blockage of ice inside the plumbing, an open tap can keep the pressure from building between the blockage and the faucet. If you have both hot and cold taps then leave both open.

Homes most at risk

Homes located in regions that experience reoccurring freezing winter temperatures are usually constructed with well insulated pipes and plumbing. Unfortunately, homes built in Southern climates where only occasional freezing occurs are potentially more at risk for burst pipes. Homes in these warmer regions aren’t usually constructed with frost in mind and homeowners may be caught by surprise by a singular, but damaging, winter ice storm. Regardless of which area you live in, if you suspect air leaks or are wondering if your home needs additional insulation, consider hiring an energy efficiency expert. This expert utilizes specific measuring tools and devices (like infrared technology) to understand exactly where heat loss is occurring in your home and can make recommendations as to how to make your home warmer.

How you can tell if your pipes are frozen

The test to tell if your pipes are frozen is simple: just turn on your faucet or flush the toilet. If no water comes out, suspect a blockage of ice. Turn off your water supply immediately. You may be able to use a heat source like a hair dryer to warm up the pipe and melt the ice however, be aware that any dripping water can cause the potential for electrocution. Never use an open flame as this could cause a fire. Always call a plumber right away if you suspect damage to the pipe or if you aren’t sure where the blockage has occurred. Find an expert on Porch.

This article originally appeared on Porch.com

Written by Anne Reagan

 Porch.com is the free home network that connects homeowners and renters with the right home service professionals.


Posted on February 2, 2018 at 9:00 am
Greg Rittner | Posted in Housing Trends | Tagged , ,

A Beginner’s Guide to Managing a Remodel

Browsing photos and ideas can be a fun part of creating your dream room. But making your designs a reality also takes smart planning and organization. Project management is an essential part of remodeling, and there’s nothing like the feeling of implementing a plan to create something new and beautiful. These tips can help you achieve your desired results.

Find a Local Contractor to Create Your Dream Home

YourSpace Contractors, original photo on Houzz

Become a list writer. Making lists is key when it comes to project management. It’s the only way to properly organize your thoughts and prevent any details from being forgotten.

The most important list is your scope of work, or specifications, document. This is basically a detailed list of everything to be done, from start to finish. If you’re dealing with one main builder who’s organizing all the work, then you’ll need to make sure he or she gets a copy, so the goals are clear and all the information is provided.

Also, having detailed specifications makes it easier if you want to obtain multiple quotes, and you’ll know it’s a fair comparison since all the builders will be quoting using the same criteria.

frenchStef Interior Design, original photo on Houzz

Make sure you’re all on the same page. If you’re coordinating separate subcontractors (cabinetmaker, plumberelectrician), then it would be worth indicating who’s responsible for each task. Give a complete copy of the specifications to all of them, so they’re all aware of what everyone is doing. Discuss the specifications with your subcontractors since they may be able to provide help and advice. A schedule is also useful, so you can keep track of progress and everyone knows who’s going to be on-site on which day.

With prior knowledge that a partition wall will feature some lighting, for instance, the builders will know to leave the stud frame open for the electrician to run the wires through before it’s boarded up and plastered over. Trying to feed wires through after the fact is much harder, takes longer and risks unnecessary damage.

Sian Baxter Lighting Design, original photo on Houzz

Break into subsections. In addition to your main specifications, it’s a good idea to have sublists for each separate element of your design. For example, your main specifications may say “install 6 x recessed LED downlights in ceiling,” but your lighting specifications will detail where they are to be positioned, the type of bulb, the hardware finish and so on. The more information you provide, the more accurate your quote should be and the less likely it will be for mistakes or misunderstandings to occur. It will also minimize any unexpected costs.

This bathroom has a minimalist elegance, but it’s far from straightforward. This project would have required a builder’s spec, including layout and elevation drawings with dimensions, an electrical spec with lighting plan, a plumbing spec with layout drawing, and a decorating spec — phew!

Plan like a pro. Finalize your design before starting any work, rather than trying to do it as you go along. The process will be much more enjoyable without constant deadlines presenting themselves, and if you haven’t planned, you may find your options restricted based on work that’s already taken place.

Take a couple of weeks to put it all together, write your specifications, draw up the plans, get everything ready and make all the decisions before proceeding. This will save you time and money along the way, and significantly reduce stress levels during the project.

This clever design features well-thought-out lighting and custom cabinetry. Careful consideration would have been given to where to position the outlets, radiators, lights, switches and other details.

Yellow Letterbox, original photo on Houzz

Never assume. You know the saying. When writing your specifications or drawing your plans, never assume that someone else will know what you want unless you explicitly state it. Include every tiny detail, no matter how picky it may seem. As well as avoiding mistakes, it also prevents any disputes over what is and isn’t included in the quote.

This bathroom just wouldn’t have looked the same if white grout had been used, for instance. You may think it would be absurd to even consider using white grout in this case, but if you haven’t asked for dark gray, you can’t expect it and you can’t assume that you will be asked what color you want. White is standard, and a tiler may use it if nothing has been specified.

Stand by for decisions. Your builder will present many questions and decisions to you along the way. Which tiles do you want on the walls? Where do you want these wall lights? What color do you want on the baseboards?

Your best bet will be to try to pre-empt as many of these decisions as possible and have the answers ready or, even better, provide the information in advance. Making these decisions under pressure can lead to impulse moves you may regret later. However, taking too long could hold up the project, costing you time, money and the patience of your builder. No one wants an unhappy builder.

Inevitably, there will be some questions you couldn’t have anticipated, but if you communicate well with your contractors, they should, where possible, give you time to make a decision without holding up the project. Don’t be afraid to ask their opinion on the best course of action, but don’t feel pressured to compromise on the design if you don’t want to.

Brilliant Lighting, original photo on Houzz

Give yourself time to deliver. This is one of the classic pitfalls, so take note. When pulling your design ideas together and deciding which products and materials to use, make a note of the lead times. Many pieces of furniture are made to order and can have lead times of up to 12 weeks, sometimes longer. Similarly, tile and natural stone can take much longer than expected to arrive, and products from abroad can encounter holdups during transit.

This chandelier was custom-made for the project and looks fantastic. This is no last-minute, off-the-shelf, next-day-delivery job. It can be a huge shame if you’ve spent hours, days, weeks choosing the perfect product, but when you come to order it, you find that it will take too long to be delivered, perhaps time you can’t afford. Then you have to decide whether to hold up the work or pick something else based on the fact it can be delivered quickly.

Find a Bathroom Vanity for Your Bath Remodel

Factor in a contingency. Even when you have the very best of intentions, issues that you couldn’t have predicted may arise during your project. So it’s a good idea to factor in a 10 percent contingency within your budget for these matters, especially with old buildings. Who knows what condition the walls are in behind those kitchen cabinets before you rip them out? Or what may be lurking underneath that carpet when you pull it up?

In these situations, it’s important to expect the worst and don’t let it throw you off your game. You are a project manager extraordinaire, and you’ve totally got this. Just accept that these things happen, find out what the options are and make a decision. Your contractors will be able to advise on what to do, so harness their expertise and trust them to help you find the right solution.

Elayne Barre Photography, original photo on Houzz

Call in the cavalry. If you choose to manage your project yourself, it’s certainly an enjoyable and rewarding process, but it also takes a certain type of person. You have to be organized, calm under pressure, strategic and confident — not to mention being able to afford the time to plan, coordinate and oversee the work.

If you have qualms about taking it on yourself, then consider hiring a project manager. Yes, there will be a fee, but consider that a badly managed project can cost you time and money, and you may not achieve the results you were after. A pro will take care of everything and allow you to rest easy, knowing you’re in safe hands.

By Jennifer Chong, Houzz


Posted on February 1, 2018 at 9:00 am
Greg Rittner | Posted in Housing Trends | Tagged , ,

Keeping Up with The Joneses: Seven Yard Tools a First-Time Homeowner Needs

So basically, when you have a baby and wife and a career, your home reno slows down a little when your extended family flies back to their respective time zones. Last month, we shared about that pesky 15% of a project that gets left undone.  And maybe we still haven’t fixed the grout line in the shower but… we did start a new project!  Cleaning up the yard!

Did you know that gardening tools are really expensive?  I didn’t.  We even priced out what it would cost to have a landscaper come every two weeks just to mow and edge our front and back yard (which would leave us to the weeding, sweeping, etc.) but alas… that is also expensive (about $100 per month).  So… Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s off to Home Depot we go…

Seven Yard Tools All First Time Home Buyers Need:

Lawnmower: Self-propelled so you don’t have to work as hard. Just being real.  Our lot is about 7,000 square feet so there’s a whole lot of other things I will do to break my back.  Mowing the yard doesn’t have to make the cut (the cut… because it’s a lawn mower… get it?) $399 + gasoline (verses $150 for a bagless push mower… ain’t nobody got time for that.)

Weed-eaterNot just for trimming weeds but more for making the edges of things look more like edges rather than wobbly overgrown lines.  It basically gets to the stuff your mower can’t.  My dad advised we buy a gas-powered trimmer – he said they last longer and can be more powerful.  A little more tricky to start though and more maintenance.  I guess we could have gone either way.  Who knew gardening would be such a gamble?  No wonder my wife loves to garden.  She also loves the casino. $119 + gasoline (Sorry, environment!)

Hose Reel: Speaking of my wife, I called Jenn from Home Depot and told her that I had found the perfect solution to our front yard hose, all coiled up on the ground.  I had found a $70 hose reel/box.  It was the prettiest hose box I had ever seen.  My wife said that spending $70 on a plastic hose box may be a little extravagant so we met in the middle and purchased this $30 reel that seems to do the trick.

Gardening Gloves: Protective gloves are probably the cheapest thing on this list… yet we have not bought them.  After paying over $100 for literal dirt to fill our raised garden boxes, I guess some luxury had to be sacrificed.  $3.98/pair which is less than my typical triple shot Americano (which is a luxury I cannot part with.)

Hedge TrimmerI haven’t used ours yet as my wife has taken up hedge trimming to express herself artistically.  The previous owner of our 1940’s fixer was really into her yard and planted some really cool stuff over the last 65+ years.  But as she aged, the yard was less tended to and some of the larger bushes took on a life of their own. This trimmer does the trick.  I recently asked Jenn to commission a topiary of our dog, Whiskey.  She declined. $49.97 for a corded trimmer.

Push Broom: Good for sweeping up the big mess you make when you’re trimming stuff.  I love that ours is called the “Quickie Bulldozer.” Doesn’t that just radiate power and sweeping efficiency? $9.98 well spent.

Blower/Vacuum: I experienced the thrill of my lifetime when I realized that our electric leaf blower was also a vacuum!  Perfect for sucking up all the lawn clippings left behind from the weed eater.  It puts that Quickie Bulldozer to shame.  It’s got a max air speed of 250 MPH for $63.21.  Enter manly grunt akin to Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor.

Tyler Davis Jones is a Windermere Real Estate agent in Seattle who, with his wife Jenn, recently traded in their in-city condo for a 1940s fixer-upper. Tyler and Jenn, along with the help of some very generous friends and family members, are taking on all the renovations themselves. You can follow the transformation process on the Windermere Blog or on Tyler’s website and Instagram

Posted on January 31, 2018 at 9:00 am
Greg Rittner | Posted in Housing Trends | Tagged , , ,

What Millennials are Looking for in an Apartment or Condo

LinkedIn recently told us that 4,279 new apartments were added to Seattle’s local inventory last year, and based on the number of cranes you constantly see around the city, we believe them. With so many choices, Millennials are getting really specific about what they want in a living space and the lifestyle it provides them. Here are some of the amenities we’re told that Millennials have come to want, and in some cases, expect:

1.  Parking & Electric Car Charging Stations

2.  High Speed Internet and WIFI (around the entire building). Preferably free WIFI on the first floor

3.  State of the Art Fitness Center  –  Fitness centers not only act as a place for exercise, but now a place to casually socialize and build friendships.  For instance, when a developer integrates fitness classes into the gym, they are creating a space where tenants can connect with their building community.

4. Dog Grooming/Washing Facility & Outdoor Pet Run:  As many millennials are postponing starting a family to focus more on their career, their pets are like their children.  With that said, an apartment building that doesn’t allow their fury friends will ultimately be losing out on a big portion of the millennial pie.

5. High- Tech Control Automation:  Using smart technology to control your thermostat, lights, switches, sensors, and locks while you are away.

6.  Business Center/ Work From Home Space:   With remote work becoming an increasing popular trend, the potential ways of catering to work-at-home tenants are limitless.

7. Laundry Facility/Service and Dry-Cleaning Drop Off/Pick Up- Laundry is a hassle, and most renters want the burden of doing laundry to be, well, less burdensome. Programs like “Laundry View” are used in some apartment buildings to view how many washers and dryers are in use. It will also send you text alerts when your laundry is done.

Read the full article on LinkedIn.


Posted on January 30, 2018 at 9:00 am
Greg Rittner | Posted in For Buyers | Tagged ,