Category Archives: Home Remodelling

Finding the Right Contractors to Work on Your Property

While it’s 2019 and LGBTQ people are enjoying more and more acceptance, the sad truth is that there’s always the risk of running into someone who will discriminate against you. This is especially true if you live in a fairly conservative area. We’ve all heard the horror stories about bakeries and restaurants refusing service to LGBTQ customers. While you may have never directly experienced this type of behavior, you may be concerned that it could happen to you.

One area where it can be hard to hide the fact that you’re in a same-sex relationship is when you hire a contractor to either work on your home before you sell it or to do some renovations on your new home. How can you find contractors who won’t be judgmental or flat out discriminate against you?

Ask Your Agent

Finding the Right Contractors to Work on Your PropertyIf you’re working with a gay or lesbian real estate agent, they likely know contractors who do not discriminate. Simply ask them if they have any contractors they can refer you to. Most agents will give you several different contractors to talk to so you can get quotes to compare. Remember that these are only referrals. These contractors don’t work for the agent, and your agent has no control over the quality of their work. However, most agents only refer clients to contractors they know will do a good job or that previous clients have favorably reviewed.

Look in Local LGBTQ Publications

Most large cities have a LGBTQ newspaper, magazine, or other local publication. Many of these are even free and can be found at businesses that support the community. Many LGBTQ-owned businesses, including roofers, flooring experts, and other contractors, advertise in these papers. You may be able to find exactly what you need, and if you know they’re advertising in a LGBTQ publication, there’s no fear of discrimination.

Go Online

There are a number of websites out there that provide the opportunity for LGBTQ people who live in the same city or neighborhood to connect with each other. These sites are the perfect places to ask for recommendations or to inquire about specific contractors. There’s nothing better than getting a recommendation or a review from someone who has used the contractor and was very happy with their services.

These three resources will usually result in a number of different contractor options for you. Of course, be sure to talk to the contractor yourself before hiring them so you can get a good sense of who they are and if they will be a good fit with your projects.

Capitol Hill – Denver’s Gay Ghetto

When most people think about gay neighborhoods, many think of sunny California or busy New York City. Few people would name Colorado as a gay-friendly state, but Denver actually has a very active LGBTQ community. The Mile High City is home to a great gay neighborhood called Capitol Hill. This part of the city is not only the focal point of Denver’s LGBTQ community, but is also a major epicenter for artists and musicians, especially those in the alternative punk genre.

Defining the Neighborhood

Capitol Hill – Denver’s Gay GhettoCapitol Hill is almost a perfect square. To the north is Colfax Avenue/Highway 70. Its southern border is Seventh Avenue, while the east and west sides of the neighborhood are defined by Downing Street and Broadway respectively. Some people define Capitol Hill to also include the neighboring Cheesman Park, but the city officially defines that area as its own neighborhood. There’s also a North Capitol Hill that sits above Colfax Avenue, but it’s more often called Uptown.

It’s Got Everything from Sun Rise to Sun Set

You can start your morning in Capitol Hill by getting coffee at one of the trendy little cafes that dot the neighborhood. Then it’s off for some light morning shopping at one of the boutiques before lunch. During the evening, there are a number of concert venues and bars where you can party the night away. Cheesman Park and nearby Civic Center Park may not fall within the neighborhood, but they’re not far, and both hold a number of different festivals. Several clubs in the area cater to the LGBTQ community, of course.

A Neighborhood in Gentrification

While it’s something of a stereotype to say that all LGBTQ neighborhoods go through gentrification, it is true of Capitol Hill and, in fact, most of central Denver. Many of the historic homes in Capitol Hill are large and fairly elaborate. That’s because the area was originally home to some of Denver’s high society families. Following the 1893 Silver Crash, however, some of these homes were demolished and cheaper apartments were built. Capitol Hill was then solidly middle class until the 1950s, when it became a fairly poor area.

Since then, Capitol Hill has slowly been rebuilding. The gentrification effects peaked in the mid-2000s, and today, those cheap apartments have been replaced with luxury condos. Despite this, some of the older housing is still quite affordable. On average, Capitol Hill isn’t as expensive as some of the other neighborhoods. One of the local gay or lesbian real estate agents can help you find a home in this area that fits your budget.

Homeowner’s New Year’s Resolutions

Whether you’re gay, straight, pansexual, or don’t do labels at all, if you’re a homeowner, you share some common concerns and joys with others who own real estate. There are a lot of little tasks that come with homeownership. You’re in charge of everything from taking care of the lawn to replacing the furnace if it goes out. That can equal a lot of time and money if you’re not careful. With that in mind and with the approaching new year, here are a few resolutions homeowners, regardless of orientation, should consider making.

Don’t Put Off the Small Tasks

Homeowner’s New Year’s ResolutionsGot a crack in one of your walls from when your house settled? Have some tiles that are cracked in the bathroom? Do you see a fascia board coming off your roof? Don’t put these tasks off. While doing them in January may not be feasible due to the weather, take the time to make a list of all of these minor home repairs and set deadlines to take care of them. It may not seem like a big deal—a few cracked tiles might not be a problem—but these little tasks do add up. Some become much more troublesome if you let them grow into big issues, too.

Do You Need to Make an Insurance Claim?

Another thing homeowners tend to put off is making insurance claims. If your roof has taken damage due to a storm, you need to make your claim as soon as you can. Again, what might seem like minor damage could result in buckets of water leaking into your attic the next time it rains.

Is This the Year You Sell?

Are you thinking about selling your home? Even if you haven’t committed one way or the other, if you’re thinking about it, make a few New Year’s Resolutions related to getting your home in shape. Resolve to finally do some of that landscaping you’ve always thought about, or make the decision to paint the interior. These little updates and changes can all add value to your home. Doing them ahead of time will definitely make it easier when you do decide to sell, as any gay or lesbian real estate expert will tell you. If you ultimately decide to keep the house, then you have a nicer home to live in.

Commit to that Remodel

Do you keep going back and forth on remodeling your kitchen, bathroom, or other part of your home? If you do, what’s holding you back? Take a good look at what you really want out of your home. If it’s not there, ask yourself why. If it’s something you can add through a remodel, why not go for it?

Posted on December 21, 2017 in Gay and Lesbian, Home Inspection, Home Remodelling, Renovation

Moving in with your Same-Sex Partner

Moving in with your same-sex partner after purchasing your first home is exciting. You’ve worked with a gay or lesbian real estate agent to find the perfect place to live, and now you’re ready to build your lives together in a house you own. If you haven’t lived together, though, you may be in for a few surprises. Of course, straight couples go through this, too, but with a same-sex partner, there are a few different and sometimes humorous twists to the adjustment period.

You’ll Create a Third Closet

moving-in-with-your-same-sex-partnerCouples often have a “his” and “his” or “hers” and “hers” closet arrangement, but if you’re a same-sex couple and near the same size, you may find that you need an “ours” closet. You’ll end up buying clothing that you both wear. This may be shoes, t-shirts, jackets, socks, and even pants! Unless the two of you have very different fashion senses, expect to find most of your clothing falls into the “ours” category. Just think of it as gaining a spouse and a whole wardrobe!

No Need to Put Down the Seat

Living with your female partner means you never have to worry about the toilet seat being left up (unless you have male friends over, of course). Men don’t have to worry about putting it down. Yes, this is a stereotypical situation, but it’s also based on some truth.

You Need More Space for Hair Care Products

Another stereotype, of course, but it can be true—for gay men as well as women. If you both use different brands of shampoo, conditioner, and other hair care products, you may find that your shower simply can’t hold them all.

You Have Double the Stuff

When opposite-sex couples move in together, they may have some overlapping movies and cooking items, but when same-sex couples with similar tastes buy a house together, you may find that you have a lot of duplicate items. For example, men who love working out may both own similar sets of weights or other exercise equipment. You might have to both give up some of your possessions if you own things you don’t really need two of. Just try to make it an equitable downsizing – you shouldn’t give up all of your stuff, and neither should your partner.

Remember You Love Each Other!

No matter what gender your partner is, moving in together is a big step, and it’s going to change your relationship. You’ll find you each have many little things that bug each other, and you’ll have to work through that. But if you love each other, you’ll find a way to settle into your new house and begin transforming it into your home.

Protecting Your Interests with the Remodel Contractor

Hiring a reputable contractor and that you are comfortable working with him is one of the most important aspects of your remodel project. Following are some tips on protecting your interests with the remodel contractor.

images1. Ask your friends or your local gay real estate agent to recommend some contractors that they have had a good experience with on their remodel project. Their suggestions can help steer you to some reliable remodel contractors who do quality work.

2. Obtain an estimate from each contractor. Make sure you understand what the covers and that it contains a complete listing of all of the work that you would like completed on your project.

3. Check to make sure that the contractor is licensed. State licensing laws vary, but many states offer dispute resolution services and may have state funds available to help settle disputes and compensate the homeowner. In addition, licensing is a good indication that the contractor is qualified to do the job.

4. Do not sign the estimate unless it clearly states that it does not constitute a contractual agreement to complete the work. Instead, once you have chosen a contractor, draft a contractor agreement. The contract should cover work to be completed, cost, approximate timelines to complete the job and any other aspects of the remodel that you and the contractor are agreeing to. This will help ensure that there are no misunderstandings during the course of the work.

5. Include a payment plan in the contractor agreement. For example, 10 or 15 percent to begin the project and then payments at each phase as it is completed. Be sure to inspect the work to make sure it has been completed to your satisfaction before making a payment.

6. Payments to the contractor should be made by check. This method will ensure that you have proof of payment in the event that there is a dispute.

7. After the work begins, make sure that you monitor its progress. A good way to do that is to visit the site at the end of each workday. Check to see that progress is being made and that items that have been delivered for installation are the quality of material and the color that you wanted.

8. Subcontractors and material suppliers can put a mechanics lien on your home if they are not paid. Make sure they have all been paid before you release the final payment to the contractor. You can do this by requesting proof from the contractor, or releases from the subcontractors and material suppliers. The releases should list how much is owed and contain a statement that the lien will be released once the listed amount is paid. If the amounts have not been paid once the project is complete, pay them out of the final payment and remit the remainder to the contractor.

9. Do not make a final payment to the contractor until any final inspections required by state laws or county ordinances have been completed satisfactorily.

10. Make sure that you obtain all the paperwork, including warranty cards, from the contractor for the appliances and equipment that have been installed.

Protecting your interest with the remodel contractor will help ensure that the job goes according to plan and that it is completed in a timely manner. It will also make the remodel process less stressful so that you can enjoy watching your project come together.

Home Improvements and Resale Value

Any real estate agent will tell you that improving your home is always a good idea.  It adds extra value that you can recoup if you ever decide to sell the property.  However, realtors will also tell you that the type of improvements you make will affect your property differently and that you shouldn’t always leap without looking to see how the improvements will change your home.

Making Home ImprovementsBasic improvements, maintenance, and repairs, are always good.  Replacing your rickety old deck with a new one, for example, is a no-brainer.  It’s obviously going to add to the home’s value.  If the deck is in really bad shape, it may be something the buyer wants you to fix before the sale, anyway.  Doing it early means you get to enjoy that improvement.  It’s best to do some of these basic improvements, especially easy ones, when you first notice them.

Larger renovations, remodels, and improvements, however, can be more complicated.  One example can be found in the bathroom.  If you don’t use your bathtub at all and want to replace it with a large walk-in shower, that can be great for you.  But if that’s the only bathtub in the house and you replace it, your home suddenly becomes less attractive to families with young children.  In that case, what’s an improvement for you, can actually become a deterrent for some buyers.

Are you changing something in the home to fix your particular needs or desires?  Uniqueness can go a long way towards either making a home in high demand or driving off a large number of potential buyers.  Customizing a house so that it’s perfect for you may mean making that house absolutely wrong for a lot of people.  If the features you’re adding to the home aren’t in demand, you’ll have to face the possibility of being unable to easily sell the property or, worse, have to undo the changes you made!

One rule of thumb that realtors use for improvements is the ten year rule.  Will you be in your home for the next ten years?  If the answer is yes, make the improvements you want to make that you know you’ll benefit from.  Replace that tub with a large shower.  You’ll get ten years of enjoyment out of it, so it’s worth it.  But if you’re not certain you’re going to be living in the property for another ten years, then you may want to look at how the improvement affects the resale value.

Apps for Testing Out Color Schemes

Have you ever walked into a new home for sale to see its walls all painted that sterile white or neutral cream tint and then wondered, “What would this place look like if I painted the walls a different color?”  It used to be that we had to hold up color chips from the paint store and work our imaginations quite hard before we could picture how a place would look if the walls were redone in a different shade.  Nowadays, however, there is an app for that!

Stylish-green-color-living-room-at-modern-trends-and-interiors-design-ideas-from-the-living-room

If you own an iPhone, Android or Blackberry you are able to download any of the virtual room painting and color visualizer apps that are available online for absolutely free.  The very best ones enable you to walk into any room in a house, take a photo of a wall or room and then choose a color from an electronic palette.  With the tap of a finger your can deftly obtain a photo of the room that you think might look better painted with a certain hue and then share and upload it on social media or with someone with a similar interest in the personalization of the property.

These apps are not just handy for buyers to have on hand but they also are of great assistance to people trying to choose paint colors for the walls in a staged home as well as real estate agents that might want to show an interested party the possibilities of newly painted walls.

Big paint companies also sponsor many of these apps, so it is easy for you to just order the paint that you want online or at your local seller.   You can also save your color choices in a “favorites” color list on most of these phone programs.

Good examples of smart phone paint apps that will take the picture of the room on the spot and then virtually paint the photograph are Behr Colorsmart and Benjamin Moore Color Capture. An excellent app that is not owned by a paint store company is Paint Harmony and this are available for download on Mac or Android. You can get Mac programs by shopping the Mac store or iTunes and you can get Android apps by shopping the Google Play store.  Blackberry World is the main place online from which to download paint color visualizer programs from the Internet.

If you don’t want to upload a smart phone app you can also find online paint visualizers for your desktop or laptop computer.  Behr Paint Your Place, Benjamin Moore Personal Color Viewer and Sherwin-Williams Color Visualizer will all allow you to upload a photo of the room you intend to paint and allow you to “drag and drop” colors where you intend to paint.  The Benjamin Moore program can be used as either an online or offline program but the Sherwin-Williams  and Behr color visualizers might require you to install or update programs such as Java or Flash.

Things to Consider When Buying a Historic Home

Are you considering buying a home that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places? If so, well, congratulations! You are part of an elite group of buyers that more than likely has excellent taste, a concern for preserving older architecture and you are also likely to be a little wealthier than most people. People who buy historic homes also tend to be philanthropic in nature as they can be expensive to maintain. On the other hand, some of these properties are in pristine condition as they have been renovated and maintained by caring owners that wish to preserve the building’s integrity. Historic homes, especially ones officially registered with the National History registry, also tend to have fewer past owners and be in better shape.

historic home in punta gorda

Home on the National Register of Historic Places in Punta Gorda, Florida.

In general, historic homes are a great investment because for the most part they appreciate in value. They not only command a greater asking price than an ordinary home without a National Register citation but they also sell faster if you do decide to put it on the market.  Houses in historic neighborhoods also tend to be in nicer locations with strong community associations and lots of older trees. They are also usually located close to a city or town’s downtown.

A home that is included in the National Register of Historic Places is not usually subjected to any special rules about the maintenance the federal government. However, many municipalities have designated historical districts and if you own one a home in one of these districts you might be subjected to reviews every time you try to make a change to the property. Many cities and neighborhoods also have home preservation ordinances that maintain the architectural integrity of a historic district.  Before buying a historic home it is a very good idea to investigate any organizations and commissions that may have a say in how you repair or renovate the property

In some cities you might have to acquire a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) to approve any work done on the historic home.  Usually, these certificates are an approval of details such as shutters, windows, doorknobs and other details unique to the look of the historical neighborhood. In some historic districts you may be required to replace any damaged parts of the home with the identical material to the original. The expense of finding and paying for these architectural materials is something to consider before you purchase the home.  However, as the owner of a building that has a certificate from the National Register, you might also be eligible for financial subsidies to help you afford the property’s integrity and upkeep in the in the form of loans, grants or tax write-offs.  Some states also give the owners of historic properties exemptions from property-tax assessments.

There are also many local and private organization that help owners of historic properties afford the upkeep and renovations of the property. In order to find out what kind of assistance you are eligible to receive you can check with your State Preservation Office (SHPO) that can supply you with information about planning agencies and community historical societies that may be willing to assist you with the costs of keeping the home.

Replacing Windows Adds Curb Appeal And Value

One the most effective and expedient ways to give a home-for-sale an instant face-lift is to replace the windows. Brand new windows sparkle and give your home a more polished look. They help make a property look contemporary, clean and less lived in, thus making it easier for a buyer to imagine a life in the space. If the home has distressed or unpainted sills, missing pane frames or absent screens then it can really look shoddy from both the inside and outside. This can result in refusals for buyers to meet your asking price. Curb appeal is about making a first impression and the condition of your windows have a lot to do with that split decision that many potential buyers make when contemplating whether or not they will contact a real-estate agent about your home.

Interior-ShuttersReplacing the windows on your home is not just about adding visual beauty. People are eager to buy a home that is energy efficient. A home that is retrofitted with new windows can save the owner twenty percent per year in energy costs. This is because heat and air-conditioned air is not lost through physical cracks and uncoated glass.

The most energy efficient windows are coated with a protective layer of Mylar that helps reflect the heat of the sun back outside. The Mylar coating is available in thicknesses of 1 to 10 with the 10 level of coating having the ability to reflect light back outside. These coatings for windows can also help prevent ultra-violet rays from the sun from fading wood floors and fabrics and furniture.

If you can afford it, it is a good idea to ask the windows replacement company to outfit the home with window frames with a solid wooden core. Although much more expensive than vinyl frames, they do not shrink and swell in tandem with temperature extremes. Wooden core window frames last that longest and save the homeowner the most money in energy costs.

Buyers with children or pets are more likely to choose a home with newer windows, as they tend to pose less of a safety risk due to falls, broken casements or broken or non-existent screens. Homes with new windows are also more secure with modern locking mechanism; this is important if you live in an area where home invasions and burglaries are a risk.

Window replacement does not have to compromise the look of an older home. Nowadays you can get windows that have the contemporary features but still have the octagonal, triangular, gothic, arched and other shapes that are associated with Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco architectural styles.

The cost of replacing your windows is going to depend on many factors including the age and style of your home, whether or not the windowsills need replacing or painting and what kind of window coatings might be required to help control temperature inside and help protect your belongings from damaging light rays.

If you deal with a quality installer of replacement windows you will be able to get a quote from a customer service representative who visits your home and then advises you about the most suitable fit for your home’s style and needs also about the cost of installation.

Posted on January 26, 2014 in Home Remodelling, Home Values, Real Estate, Renovation, Selling

Remodeling? Review & apply this list to avoid a potential nightmare.

Remember the old saying that ‘Behind every dark cloud lies a silver lining?’ Well you can also say the opposite may be true. Despite the fact that you can find many honest remodeling contractors to work with, there are some who will give you a bundle of nightmares! It’s crazy if you were to listen to some of the things contractors tell their clients. So to help you out, below is a checklist to give you a smart start to your remodeling:

Avoid low bids: People will do anything to have you hire them so you have to be cautious when taking this step. You might find a low bidding contractor that only ends up ruining your expectations. Try to obtain at least 3 different bids from different contractors before making up your mind on whom to choose. Remember, when the deal is too good… think twice.

Go through the references: Checking the past work records for each company (Better Business Bureau / Yelp.com, etc.) and ask past customers who have used the services of a specific contractor/company. Another good place to search for complaints for different contractors would be the state’s attorney general’s office.

Acquire a written contract: The benefit of a written contact is its clear specification of the details of what the remodeling process will entail. This is from the charges that will be incurred to the terms and conditions applied to payment. Never sign any contracts that have unclear amounts for materials and products. Once the project starts rolling, you will be following the terms alone.

Go through the paperwork: It is important to review the paper work which includes up-to-date insurance, license and workers compensation guidelines. A good place to get information on licensing requirements specific to your state is the Contractor’s License Reference Site. You are not the one who is responsible for the acquisition of permits…, it’s the contractors’ job and he/she should issue you a lien waiver once the remodeling job is complete to avoid issues with suppliers and sub contractors complaining of unsettled bills.

Never pay with cash: Don’t pay individuals / sub-contractors directly, instead issue a check to the contracting company. Paying through a credit card is an even more secure means. A good down payment would be something around 30% of the whole project cost, to purchase materials. Only make the final payment when the job is fully done and you are 100% satisfied and all permits are closed.

Posted on December 11, 2013 in Home Remodelling, Homebuilders, Renovation