Category Archives: Renovation

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

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.

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

Should You Hire An Expert to Stage Your Home for Sale?

If you want your home to sell for more than is expected then it is crucial that you have two professionals in place: a real estate agent who can tell you what your home is worth and a home staging professional who can help you present your home to the buying pubic in the most favorable possible light.

Family room in a home staged for sale.

Family room in a home staged for sale.

The real estate agent can help you decide on the asking price of your home by advising you about how much your property is likely to sell for based on the market value of similar properties in neighborhood. This is one aspect of pricing a home for sale that you don’t have much control over. One aspect that you do have control over during the selling process is the home staging. According to most real estate professionals, home staging is worth it if you want to see a maximum return on your investment. Doing the staging yourself might cost only about $100 to $200 but the actual return on that money might also only increase your asking price by $1500 to $2000.  However, homes that are staged for two thousand to ten thousand dollar fees tend to sell for tens of thousands of more than unstaged homes.

Staging is also essenial if you are trying to sell a home in a down market. The key to staging a home well is to depersonalize it. The space must look crisp, new and like nobody lives in it. It must be decluttered and

emptied of personal effects so that buyers can imagine it as a blank canvas upon which they can paint the possibilities of what it would be like to live there.  Psychologically, the disappearance of your personal touches to a space allows the buyer to better envision himself living there.

The reason it is good to get a professional to help you with staging is because it can actually be quite difficult to stage a room so that it is so neutral that it appeals to a large number of different buyers.  It means choosing a neutral color palette that consists of no more than three colors and allowing only an occasional pop of color as the accessories. Home staging professionals are expert at presenting your home in a way that will appeal to the most people possible.

It is also important that the home smells clean and that is absolutely sanitary. Bad smells will definitely turn of buyers. If you do not want to spend money on staging it is might be a good idea to pay professionals to deep clean the space and repaint it.

If you hire a professional stager do not be surprised if he or she removes most or all of your furniture and replaces it with smaller, contemporary versions. This helps your property-for-sale to look less cluttered, simple and more spacious.

The bottom line is that homes that do sell for the most money are those that are staged. They also don’t linger on the market like an unstaged home.  According to statistics provided by www.stagedhomes.com, 95% of homes that are staged sell, on average in eleven days or less and sell for 17% more.

Posted on January 18, 2014 in Home Prices, Real Estate, Realtors, 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

Kitchen Remodel? Gay Realtors Money Saving Tips

If you are among the many people who happen to have an older kitchen, then you must have thought of renovating it. On the other hand if you’ve taken the time to add up the total costs on a quality remodel, you may have dropped the entire idea. There is no need to worry, with some of the tips below, you will learn creative ways to save money and with time, achieve your dream kitchen.

Kitchen Remodel Gay RealtorFirst, you need to change your shopping habits, try to find cheaper things outside of typical retailers to save money. Avoid stuff like “professional appliances”, these will only end up increasing your costs… buy appliances that have the same lines as the “professional” if that’s your thing,  and you’re good to go, in fact in most cases they are of equal quality or even better e.g. self-cleaning ovens and sealed-unit gas burners.

What do you need?

Besides going for looks learn to maintain your simple lifestyle and go for the necessary things when shopping for appliances, this will help save you some cash according to our expert gay realtor. Try to analyze your way of cooking because if you are the type who likes heating prepared foods, a high-BTU cook top and multi-burner/double oven may be overkill.

Buy only what is required, not what you feel like it should have. Even when shopping for a refrigerator, you’ll realize that many come with additional features that aren’t necessary and in the long run will end up adding to the costs and maintenance requirements.

Mix-up for your stuff.

This can be applied in cabinetry and this is where you can get some ideas from the fashion designers out there. Designers understand how to mix cheap and expensive to come up with something of premium quality at an average price.

You can pair up your IKEA cabinet boxes with some custom wood doors and maybe drawers. This will save you in terms of the overall cost, in lower cabinets you can use open wood shelving. It may appear simple but will improve the overall look of your kitchen.

Plywood is a good alternative

Sealed plywood cabinets are a great alternative to expensive hardwood cased cabinets, after all plywood is beautiful, vibrant and durable… and nobody will know the difference!

You can read more on the internet on ways to improvise your own in cabinets for better storage options. Remember if you want to save big by re-facing your current cabinets, and you can consider retrofitting them with items that are cheaply available on outlets.

Other things you should consider:

1) For kitchen counters use granite or marble tiles instead of slabs. They are way cheaper and look just as beautiful.

2) Always price out items like “hardwood flooring” at on-line companies… save thousands and pay no tax on the purchase.

3) Cabinet hardware can be as much as 90% cheaper on-line.

4) Find the perfect lighting fixtures in a retail store, and shop the brand on-line for wholesale prices.

5) Peruse the “Craigslist Services” for a plumber and or electrician that is licensed but also works on the side from their primary job ~ check out their references thoroughly, and be prepared to save as much as 40% off retail pricing.

6) Try doing some of the stuff yourself by following “how to” it manuals.

By following the hints above you will likely land yourself into that dream kitchen you always wanted at a cheap price.

Author Jeff Hammerberg is a gay realtor and Founding CEO of GayRealEstate.com ~ Offering Free Instant Access to the Nation’s Top Gay, Lesbian and Gay Friendly Realtors Coast to Coast. Free Buyers Representation ~ Free Relocation Kit to any City, USA ~ Free Sellers Market Analysis for home sellers.

Posted on November 25, 2013 in Home Remodelling, Renovation