Renovation Costs You May Not Anticipate

I confess, I am a professional Realtor, and I just added a second bathroom to my modest home at a cost of 230% of what I expected after first meeting with my contractor!  What happened?  A number of problems that you can avoid by doing the following:

  • Be Clear On Costs & What’s Included – Be clearRenovation Costs You May Not Anticipate on what materials AND labor will cost you and what contingencies there might be. Get it in writing!  No one can predict everything, for instance, predicting that you’ll incur the cost of putting your dog into daycare because the construction makes her crazy and sleepless.  You can however uncover more potential costs by interviewing at least two contractors who may each give you a heads up on a cost that the other missed.  Be sure to verify if plans and permits are included in the cost…and how much time obtaining these will add to the job.
  • Don’t Forget to Estimate the Cost of Eating Out, Hotel Stays & Obtaining a Dumpster – These items may be needed to help you maintain your sanity and they definitely add to the cost of your job.
  • Consider Your Time and Effort – If you are considering doing some of the work yourself, look carefully at what that time and effort may cost you by keeping you from other things you could be doing.
  • Consider Whether You Will Need Child Care, Rental Office Space or a Cleaning Service? Will Your Utility Bills be Higher Than Normal? – These expenses may all be logical but many people will not calculate them ahead of time.  Will you and your children need to work/play off-site?  Will cleaning by a 3rd party be necessary to help you maintain your sanity?   Will your contractors be wasting your air conditioning or heat; leaving windows and doors open?
  • Look at Parking & Storage Options to Avoid Future Cost – Contractors want their equipment and materials stored where they will be safe. Providing a safe place will most likely put your own personal belongings at risk.  Landscaping can also be completely sacrificed due to wheelbarrows, heavy tools, large equipment and stored renovation materials.

I frequently hear renovation numbers that sound very economical, portending a greater value increase than the cost of the job.  But be sure the numbers are all in before you brag about your low renovation costs.  AND, save every penny’s worth of receipts and invoices for when you compile your annual tax return or when you sell and may be confronted with capital gains tax.

Cheers,
SD County Escrow Team

P.S. – This was a guest post courtesy of a local Realtor.

8 Tips To Maximize Curb Appeal & Your Image

Who is coming to visit?  Whether you are having in-laws or other special guests over for the first time, prospective employers, civic bigwigs, or even possible home buyers, curb appeal makes a crucial firstCurb Appeal 101 impression.

Here are 8 tips to maximize your curb appeal and your image!

  1. Landscaping – Spruce up your landscaping; make sure trees trimmed and there is fresh mulch, colored annuals and a clean, well-defined yard space.
  2. Exterior – Power wash your home’s exterior, garage doors, driveway and walkways.
  3. Windows – Clean your windows until they gleam from the inside and outside. Remove the front window screens for perfection.
  4. Hardware – Make sure all hardware is shiny and upgraded. Don’t forget the mailbox, house numbers, door handle & light fixtures.
  5. Entry – Welcome your guests with potted plants, a door wreath or décor and a fresh, new welcome mat.
  6. Paint – If needed, adding fresh paint…especially on the trim…can make a huge difference!
  7. Front Door – Add a pop of color by painting your front door but be very careful to make it copacetic with your home’s architecture and the neighborhood!
  8. Siding & Brick – Make sure any problems with your siding or brick have been properly repaired.

Cheers,
SD County Escrow Team

Things To Know About Operating a B&B or Vacation Rental

  1. Rental of a personal residence for less than 15 days a year does not need to be reported as income.
    1. All vacation rental service providers send 1099’s to the IRS documenting the income, so you must submit proof to the IRS that the rental was less than 15 days.Operating a B&B or vacation rental
  2. The Second District Court of Appeals in Ventura recently upheld the authority of HOA’s to charge additional fees to owners who rent their units to short-term occupants.
  3. Newer “amenities” (linens, towels) are recommended for guests.
  4. Secondary locks may keep certain rooms and closets unavailable to tenants.
  5. Cleaning fees may be added to the cost of a rental.
  6. Most homeowner’s insurance policies cover short-term rentals, but check with your agent!
  7. City and county governments are increasingly looking into collecting taxes for these rentals and are monitoring booking sites for information on rental homes. Be sure you are current on municipal rules and practices.

Cheers,
SD County Escrow Team

Cheap & Easy Ways To Spruce Up Your Home

Upgrading your home can be very time intensive and expensive.  But there are small “spruce ups” you can make around your home that will make a big impact and not cost much in time or money!

  • Spruce Up Exterior Entries; they are what people focus on as they approach your home.  Add fresh paint & moldings to your door (consider a bold color).  You can also add colorful plants and new house numbers for a fresh look.  While you’re sprucing up, be sure to clean any walkways/stairs.
  • Make Your Interior Entry a Statement by displaying a large piece of art or aCheap & Easy Ways To Spruce Up Your Home group of something distinctive.  You could also add a strong color or wallpaper to the walls to welcome people into your home.
  • Update Your Lampshades to add color to your rooms or change them to white to brighten things up.
  • Hang a Mirror Opposite a Window to expand the sense of space.
  • Sprinkle Small Houseplants around to add life to your home.
  • Change the Hardware on cupboards, doors & drawers to create a distinguishing upgrade.
  • Place a Beautiful Container on Your Kitchen Counter and use it as a “healthy snack station”.  Stock it with nuts, power bars, dried fruit and other healthy items so you have a variety to choose from.  This will also help you eat healthier when stress fuels your desire for a snack.

Cheers,
SD County Escrow Team

Tips On Enjoying Your Yard More!

Today the outside of a home has a significant impact on value as well as pleasure.  We ARE in Southern California so I hope you are enjoying your yard and surroundings for goodness sake!  Below are a few tips on how to get more enjoyment out of your yard:

  • Comfortable Furnishings – Invest in comfortable furnishings (not just cheap collapsible chairs) and accessories such as rugs, candles, pillows & blankets for cooler weather.How to enjoy your yard more!
  • Shade – Shade makes more of the day enjoyable outside so invest in an awning, pergola or umbrellas.
  • Evening Elements – Heaters, lights and items that discourage bugs can allow you to enjoy more time outside.
  • Zones – If you have a large outdoor area, you may want to create areas or zones for the following:  BBQ/cooking, dining, relaxing seating, playground or romping room, games (croquet, volleyball, badminton, horseshoes, softball, football, etc…).  Investing in a good barbecue for your cooking area may bring you lots of joy!
  • Environmental Elements – Add lighting, sound and perhaps an outdoor flat screen for your entertainment pleasure.  Add plants that shape, scent and decorate your area…if they are edible that’s even better!

Cheers,
SD County Escrow Team

Fun & Easy Household Tips

Below are a few ways you can make difficult or annoying household tasks easier and maybe even fun!

  • Prevent a pot from boiling over on the stove by laying a wooden spoon across the pot lid.
  • Wooden floors with scratches can be spruced up by rubbing the scratch with the inside of a walnut.Fun & easy household tips
  • To easily remove the green top and core from a strawberry, push a straw from the top of the strawberry through to the bottom.
  • Make your hard boiled eggs easier to peel by putting them in a container with some water.  Put the lid on firmly and then shake the container a few times.  Surprise!
  • Frozen grapes are great for chilling white wine or other drinks without diluting the beverages with ice.
  • An iPad charger will charge your iPhone twice as fast!
  • Put small rubber toys in a net laundry bag to wash them easily as you do your other laundry!
  • Be smart about all your stuff.  If you don’t use something within a year; donate, trash or recycle it.   Your home will be more relaxing with less clutter and unused items laying around!

Cheers,
SD County Escrow Team

Clever Home Cleaning Ideas & More

Below are a few of our favorite tips for concealing furniture scratches and cleaning your home:Rolling pin towel holder

  • Hang a rolling pin in your kitchen and use it as a towel holder!
  • Remove scratches from wood surfaces by rubbing them with a mixture of 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 olive oil.
  • Rub a lemon on hard water stains to remove them from your shower or tub.
  • Make scratches on your leather furniture disappear by rubbing them with olive oil.
  • If company is on their way over, don’t waste time wiping any surfaces taller than your tallest friend :)
  • Pet hair will stick to a wet rubber dish washing glove, if you swipe it across furniture.
  • Store cleaning & laundry supplies in a shoe holder on the back of the laundry room door.
  • Foam shaving cream will remove many red wine stains.
  • Baby wipes are great for quick cleanups on small surfaces and in the kitchen where  counters always seem to be grimy!
  • If you only have time to clean one room before company comes, or the minute after they surprise you, make it the bathroom.  That’s the one they will notice!
  • To remove stubborn price tags from dishes, glassware, etc…use a cotton pad or Q-tip soaked with rubbing alcohol.  It dissolves the glue and doesn’t ruin your manicure!

Cheers,
SD County Escrow Team

The Impact Of Color In Your Home

There’s no question about it…color can have a positive or negative impact on moods, feelings, thinking, physical health and more!

Colors & The Rooms They Are Best Suited For!

RED:  Increases energy and heart rate, creates excitement and stimulates the appetite.  Good for dining rooms.

ORANGE:  Adds comfort, warmth and cheerfulness,The impact of color in your home but if overused can bring about feelings of cautiousness.  Good for living and family rooms.

YELLOW:  Brightens mood and promotes feelings of welcome and joy, increases positive thinking.  Good for foyers, dark hallways, and in buttery shades, is excellent for living rooms.

GREEN:  The most restful color, reduces nervous system activity and muscular tension, calms and relaxes and often reminds us of nature.  Best for living rooms (in light tones), accent for kitchen and dining rooms in mid-tones.

BLUE:  Promotes calm, security, tranquility, cleanliness, lowers blood pressure, cools a room and serves as an appetite suppressant.  Best for bedrooms or any room that you want to be more peaceful.

PURPLE:  Boosts creativity, imagination and meditation, perceived as youthful.  Best for children’s bedrooms and play areas.

Using the guide above, consider adding more color to your home and then notice what happens!

Cheers,
SD County Escrow Team

Tools Every Homeowner Needs In Their Toolbox

If you don’t already have a place to corral and stash your most used tools, make your next DIY project or home repair easier by creating a toolbox filled with the following tools every homeownerTools Every Homeowner Needs In Their Toolbox needs at their fingertips:

  1. Level – When something really needs to be straight or level, don’t trust your eyes…use a level to be sure.
  2. Extension cords & power strips – Keep on hand to use for holidays, parties and for temporary fixes.
  3. Screwdrivers – Make sure you have both flat and Phillips-head screwdrivers as these are probably the tools you’ll reach for the most.  (Did you know that Henry F. Phillips was a U.S. businessman from Portland, Oregon and the Phillips-head screw and screwdriver were named after him?)
  4. Tape measure – A small steel tape measure can be used for many projects but you might also want to have a long, heavy-duty one in your toolbox.wrench-adjustable
  5. Pliers & wrenches – Sometimes even little jobs require greater strength than your fingers have.  Adjustable wrenches eliminate the need for an entire set.  And, regular and needle-nose pliers are good to have on hand.
  6. Stud finder – A stud finder can make it much easier to locate structural boards behind walls and ceilings.
  7. Hammer – A good choice is a 16-ounce claw hammer with a comfortable grip.
  8. Small handsaw – Look for a handsaw with a 12-inch blade that fits into a safety sheath.
  9. Plunger – A must have for clearing clogged drains.
  10. Chisel – Use to chip out wood when resetting a door hinge or adjusting a sticky latch.drill-powered
  11. Cordless drill – Save time and avoid carpal-tunnel syndrome with this handy tool!
  12. Utility knife – Be sure to get one that has a retractable, replaceable blade.
  13. Screws & nails – Having an assortment on hand will make it easy to find just the size you need.
  14. Sticky stuff – Electrical duct tape, masking tape & carpenter’s glue can fix a wide range of problems.

Any items you can think of that should be added to the list?

Cheers,
SD County Escrow Team

How To Solve Common Bedroom Floor Plan & Arrangement Problems

Perhaps you’ve asked or wondered about the following bedroom arrangement & floor plan problems.  Read on for tips on how to solve these problems in your own home.

How can I make a bedroom seem larger?

  • If you put the bed on a short wall, youBedroom arrangement problems solved! make a lot more floor space available.
  • Wall to wall carpet extends the visual size of the room corner to corner.
  • Use a thematic color plan instead of too many chaotic tones that break up the room.  Calming hues help. Use texture instead of bold colors for punch.
  • Match essentials, like lamps, to unify the look even if your furniture varies in style.

How do I find a good arrangement if there are too many doors and/or windows?

  • First, place your bed (usually your largest piece of furniture) in the best location for it.
  • Next, try putting your 2nd largest piece of furniture on the window wall.
  • Paint all doors and windows the same color as the room’s walls to unify and simplify the look.

The only place for the bed is in front of a window.  How can I make the room look better?

  • Begin by matching the window trim color to the walls and primary color of the room so it blends in.
  • Fill nearby wall space with wonderful artwork or mirrors to draw the eye away from the window.
  • Create an illusion of a duplicate window by placing a mirror on the wall opposite the bed.

Cheers,
SD County Escrow Team

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