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Home Improvement

onsider Cost Of Rewiring When Buying An Older Home

Louisville is a city known for its great respect for old buildings. In any of the nearly 150 recognized neighborhoods in the city, there are architectural marvels you might enjoy restoring. When you buy an older home, there are many expensive upgrades that lie ahead of you, so it's best to go into both searching for a home and closing on a deal with potential expenses in mind. One of the biggest "money suckers" that may lay ahead is replacing old wiring and the electrical panel. 

Louisville has at least 73 communities recognized by the White House's Preserve America Initiative and has the fourth highest number of total listings in the National Register of Historic Places. For many people who want to give an old property some love, there are several realities to consider about the wiring and electric panel that takes the "juice" that comes into your home and distributes it throughout your home to switches and outlets. 

Potential Electrical Panel And Wiring Problems 

Electrical panels are made to last 20 to 30 years. That means that if you look at a home built in the 1980s or before, your electrical panel could fail to pass code, show some degree of corrosion, or be insufficient to meet your needs. 

Homes built in an earlier era can contain wiring that is dangerous. For example, wiring in homes built between 1900-1940 used knob and tube (K&T), which permitted wiring connections at various points in the home rather than in a junction box. There was no ground wire, but separate wires handled supply and return. Nowadays, if the knob and tube wiring is intact, you may still be safe, but many insurance companies do not want to cover it. This type of wiring was frequently modified by amateurs. If you buy a house where there may be no rhyme or reason to how wiring was installed, updating it can be difficult. You may have to...

Are Parades, BBQ, And Pesticides On Your Schedule This Weekend?

If you are like many homeowners, your Memorial Day weekend involves parades, BBQ, and lawn care. You might have started your weeding and fertilizing efforts weeks ago, but if not, the three day weekend is a good opportunity to get the lawn in shape through hard work and chemicals. Unfortunately, this springtime ritual of using pesticides has many downsides. 

Problems With Pesticides 

Your lawn cannot absorb all the chemical input, so 40 to 60% of the nitrogen in the product runs off in surface water or ultimately leaches into the ground. You can do the math, but Americans apply million tons of fertilizer and 70 to 90,000,000 tons of pesticides to their lawns each year, which means widespread exposure to chemicals. 

While some people are very sensitive to these chemicals and develop allergic reactions to them, most of us absorb the chemicals into our body with uncertain effects. Studies done by BeyondPesticides.org have shown high rates of asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory problems among farmers use large quantities of pesticides, households who frequently use insecticides, and among children exposed to herbicides before their first birthday. 

There is growing evidence that pesticides are harmful to wildlife. Honeybees are dying off while 60 to 70,000,000 birds in the U.S. die each year from pesticide poisoning. What makes the problem even worse is that besides the run off into land and water, pesticides are over applied, applied to adjacent areas where pesticides are not needed, can impact people, wildlife, and air quality far from the source. 

Few Pesticide Bans In Place, So Take Care 

While some pesticides have been banned in the United States by the EPA, there are plenty of toxic chemicals that are still available for lawn care. This is in strict contrast to Canada where certain provinces have banned pesticides...

Don't Let What Your Homeowners Insurance Covers Surprise You

Is it finally Spring in Louisville?
As you look around home and yard, you  may be thinking of some repairs you need to make from the winter and some improvements you want to make for the spring. This is a good time to look over your home insurance policies and make sure that they are up to date. In case of loss, you don't want to be unpleasantly surprised about what it doesn't cover. 

Would Your Home Insurance Cover This? 

A recent amusing article in MSN Money points several unusual things that home insurance policies did end up covering. The homeowners noted in the examples below may not have thought to ask about coverage in advance to the incident mentioned, but they raise legitimate questions about your policy. What exactly does your home insurance cover? Here are some surprise items that some homeowners found were covered by their policy. 

  • "The dog ate my ring." When a homeowner claimed the dog ate a valuable piece of jewelry, the insurance company wanted to buy the dog to salvage the jewelry. The insurer ended up paying the claim after a call from the insured's lawyer. The homeowner got to keep his dog, which would not be covered under home insurance if he were lost or stolen. 
  • "My yard burned up and I couldn't have a wedding there." Homeowners who planned the backyard wedding for their daughter had to move to a hotel when fire destroyed the yard. A Massachusetts company paid the cost of moving the celebration to a hotel. Even if you are thinking about having festivities in your yard, this is a good reminder to make sure you have additional living expense if your home is damaged and you have to live elsewhere. 
  • "Cut a check to my decorator." Philadelphia homeowners whose home was decorated by a professional got reimbursement after a disaster so they could have a decorator redecorate after the repairs. Even...

Moving Pods - A Revolutionary Way To Move Or Remodel - Part One

Whether you're talking renovation or moving, the logistics can kill you. In either case, you are trying to clean out a space either so you can work on it or because you want to take the contents to another location. Portable storage units could be the answer to your prayers. 

A Great Answer For Remodelers

Picture this. You are replacing the flooring in your home, either because you can finally get the hardwood you've always wanted or because you trying to create an open floor plan that potential buyers will love. Or maybe you are removing that old popcorn ceiling and then painting the room. Your downstairs is filled with living room and dining room furniture, plus what's in your office and first-floor guestroom. As the work is being done, you dread piling up the furniture in one part of the area and then having to move it again to accommodate getting at the area of the room where you have furniture. 

The alternative? Rent a moving pod or portable storage trailer. You can have one delivered to your home, move the furniture into it, do your renovation, and bring the furniture back into the house. You remodeling is done and so is your need for the extra storage. You simply call the company and they will retrieve it. Many of the same companies also offer dumpsters, so if you're remodeling and pulling out flooring, walls, appliances, and more, you can have the crew put the materials directly into the dumpster. 

Simplify Your Next Move 

Or think of this. You're moving. You've gotten past the age where you can call upon your old college buddies to make a day of it, so you've decided to get movers. You resign yourself to making 1 million trips back and forth in the car to carry your good china, lamps, your computer, 1 million other things that you'd prefer the movers didn't take. Now, with portable storage available, you can move all the small stuff into the trailer and simply have it delivered to your new home. If you...

Smart Phone Apps For Louisville Buyers, Sellers, And DIYers

In a digital age, that smart phone in your pocket does a lot more than make calls. Depending on your age, it may be your only phone. You may use it more for texting, playing games, and running useful apps that for actual conversations. It is invaluable for those things. As a Realtor®, mobile apps are a great way to show homes; if you're looking for one, using Zillow or Trulia app makes it easy to see what's available in your area. There's also a number of apps that make it very convenient when you're shopping for home, trying to sell one, or even doing home improvement projects on one that you own now. 

As a seller, when you're gathering measurements and pricing what you need to upgrade your home. The same thing is true if you're a buyer trying to visualize how your furniture will looking a new home or if you're doing some home improvement and want to make sure that your colors are right. No matter what you need to do, as the saying goes, "there's an app for that." 

Protect And Visualize That Space 

Here's an example for some of the many useful apps you can find in your local Apple Store, Google Play, or other app stores.                                                                                  

  • Houzz. Looking for ideas of what you could with unlimited time, money, and creativity? Houzz has 150,000 pictures of every room in the house along with design tips, and product suggestions. This app can save you time, especially as many decorators are posting to this site. 
  • Feng Shui Bagua Map. Staging home? Buying a new one? If you think that Feng Shui principles...

Adding A Mudroom To Your Louisville Home

mudroom, hallway, entry,

Are you sick of winter yet? Even if you love cold and snow, you may be sick of seeing people track up your hardwood floors with their boots and then throw their wet coats on the chair. When you look at your home, you may realize that even in better weather, shoes, coats, and other outdoor paraphernalia gets the best of you. Your answer may be in setting up a mudroom. 

A Handy Transition To Your Home 

The mudroom is a designated area for outdoor wear, including not just jackets, coats, boots, and shoes, but also hats, gloves, scarves, and even sports equipment and backpacks. Ideally located in the side or rear entrance, the mudroom can be a transition into your home and a way to keep dirt and clutter out of your living space. 

When you look at the layout of your home, there may be an area you can transform into a mudroom without much work. It might even be a matter of adding some hooks to the wall, with shoe racks down below. The trend these days is to have it separate form the laundryroom. 

Even if you need to do some major or minor reorganizing to create a functional mudroom, it might be worth it. Not only will it make your house more functional, but it will be a good selling point to a future owner. A mudroom might not be in the top of the list for potential buyers, but is definitely one of those things that they're happy to get.

 A Nice Complement To Open Floor Plans 

Why? Even people who claim to be in love with open floor plans want a sense of order in their homes. Having a mudroom, a designated area for coats and other things that people have when they enter or leave the house, keeps these items out of other living spaces. While the homeowner has to keep family members on task...

Consider What Makes Sense Before Remodeling Your Louisville Kitchen

As you maneuver around your kitchen this holiday season, you may reach a decision: it's time to remodel! You've enough of the traffic pattern, or the dingy old cabinets, or the old decor. The only question you have is how far you go? What do you want vs. what makes sense to do? If you sell, what will you get back in resale value? 

Kitchen remodeling can be a costly project, especially if you're talking about knocking down walls, rerouting water and utility lines, and adding custom upgrades. Remodeling Magazine, which puts out an annual survey about remodeling payback, notes two interesting things. First, remodeling costs have dropped 10 to 15% over the last five years, even as materials rose 17%. If you are remodeling with an eye to making your kitchen a place that will serve you and your family better for years to come, this is a great deal. 

Consider The Rate Of Return 

On the other hand, the return on remodeling investment continues to erode in line with falling housing prices. As of 2005, an investment of $31,932 offered and 86.7% payback. This dropped 10% in 2006 276.1%. In that 2011 to 12, an investment of $44,734 brought back only 57.7% or $25,829 at time of sale. This means that if you are thinking about selling, you need to consider what you need to do in the kitchen to make it competitive with homes in your neighborhood. If you live in the only un-remodeled home in an upscale neighborhood of 40-year-old houses, you may need to put major bucks into the endeavor if you want to sell your house for a decent price. 

Consider A Midrange Remodel 

Renovating the kitchen always makes the list of top 10 remodeling projects that offer decent payback, but the magazine distinguishes between a midrange minor kitchen...

Don't Let leaves Lead To Leaks and 9 More Fall Maintenance Tips

As Louisville cleans up after a storm that watered down or delayed Halloween celebrations for many trick-or-treaters, threatened tornadoes, and knocked out power for over 11,000 customers in Jefferson County, we got a reality check. Winter is coming, and it's time to take care of a few household issues before the cold sets in for good. 

Don't Let Leaves Lead To Leaks 

Just look out your window, and you'll see a sign of fall that can cause you a great deal of trouble if you don't take care of it. Those fall leaves that looked so beautiful on the trees  not only cover your yard, but are clogging your gutters and downspouts. When gutters are packed with leaves and debris, they can't do their job of directing water away from the roof and sending it downward to the ground.  To prevent leaking that could back up gutters and overflow into your house, make sure to clean out gutters and downspouts. When winner comes, gutters also have a job to do when it comes to melting snow, so obstructed gutters can be a problem in coming months if you don't take care of them now. Live in a beautiful lot with lots of mature leaves? Consider getting a leaf guard system that prevents backup.

New Leaf Procedures Are Coming

As an aside, the city of Louisville is determining what to do about leaf waste. For several years, the city has had a program of collecting waste to be used for compost. Much of the waste has ended up in the Outer Loops Landfill, largely due to the plastic bags homeowners use for the leaves. This causes serious problems for landfills, who are not able to use the contents when they are bagged in plastic.  The city is considering banning plastic bags and forcing people to use reusable containers or even compostable paper yard waste bags. For this year, there are no changes in the law but they may be coming. This year is a good time to get in the habit of packing waste into reusable containers so that the leaves...

Choosing The Best Fireplace For Your Louisville Home – Part 2

Love the look of a fireplace but don’t like the mess? Have limited wall space for fireplace? Lack a suitable chimney? Gas and electric fireplaces address many of your concerns. As a Louisville homeowner, you can choose a new unit that produces warmth with the touch of your remote and has no soot to clean up and no polluted air wafting through your house. 

Charming Gas Alternatives 

Wood-burning fireplaces offer a great aroma in the romance of a crackling fire, but there are other alternatives that produce heat and the look of fire. Gas fireplaces, for example, offer the radiant and conduction heat of an open fire but are vented to the outside through a tube in the wall rather than through a chimney. Using either natural gas or ethanol fuel, they feature incombustible logs that cover the gas vents and use glass doors to block air. The units utilize internal air movement channels to maximize warm air in the house, but do not pull warm air from it. 

Vented models are considered 65 to 95% efficient, while producing little smoke or pollution and no ash or creosote. Ventless models are even more efficient, but the carbon dioxide and water vapor they release into the room can deplete oxygen create excessive moisture and even lead to lung problems.

Installation of a gas fireplace is relatively easy, even in a small space. Using a gas fireplaces even easier, as you can warm your room and lower your heating bills with the flick of a remote. 

Versatile Electric Fireplaces 

Another popular fireplace choice is powered by electricity from a standard outlet. The “flames” are really light refractions from LED bulbs which create the effect of fire without combustion and without releasing greenhouse gases. Noted for their excellent zone heating capabilities, they can offer up to 5000 BTUs of heat and easily warm a 20’ x 20’ room. Since many electric fireplaces have air purifying...

What Outdoor Home Improvement Projects Should You Attempt Yourself?

If you read our last blog, you'll remember that the newly-formed Home Project (HPC) surveyed homeowners about projects they thought were desirable and measured the response with those they said they'd attempt themselves. You can read the full survey here in the Council press release. 

Why Promote Does The Home Project Council Promote DIY Home Improvement? 

Why is this important to the HPC? DIYers feel proud when they complete home improvement projects, but many put them off as they await the day when they have money available to pay a professional to complete them. Tomorrow never comes for some homeowners, and they continue to live in their home without desired improvements they were unwilling to tackle on their own. Tackling outdoor improvements is DIY projects makes them affordable even for the inexperienced, so people are more likely to do them. HPC’s motto is “Remember that no one is perfect and mistakes will happen.” 

What Should You Attempt Yourself 

As a home show addict who also rehabs houses, I’m here to tell you that adding curb appeal to your home does add value. Poorly done projects take it away. The Council makes some great by encouraging homeowners to start small, get plenty of advice from DIYers and online sources, research both the technique and the materials you by, practice your technique, etc., but there are a few other things to consider. 

Some projects are very expensive to complete, plus have safety issues involved. An outdoor kitchen can be cheap if you’re talking about putting the grill and some chairs on the patio, but can cost tens of thousands of dollars if you’re talking about outfitting the area with durable all weather appliances, building coverings,...

Is It Time For Some Louisville Outdoor DIY Projects?

Now that fall has hit Louisville in full force, you might be thinking about some outdoor projects to increase the curb appeal of your home.
Whether you are planning to list your home for sale and want to instantly grab potential buyers or whether you want to increase the enjoyment of your home, adding attractive features to your yard will enhance the neighborhood too. As with any improvement, the question always is what you do yourself and what should you contract out for best results. 

Recently, a group of home improvement experts launched the new Home Projects Council (HPC) to promote DIY projects that are manageable for most homeowners. The goal of the Council, according to Frank Owens, HPC member and Vice President of Marketing for the QUIKRETE ® companies, is to “help homeowners increase the value of their homes by not only identifying trends, but by inspiring and steering them to successfully handle projects without they help or cost of a professional.” 

The Home Projects Council Survey 

As one of their first official acts, they surveyed 1, 278 homeowners about what exterior projects they had planned for 2013. The respondents were asked to prioritize the value of home improvement projects, indicate the resources they would use, and rate the perceived difficulty of various projects. The respondents were equally male and female. They assess their DIY skill levels as 36.6% beginner, 54.8% intermediate, and 8.6% expert. 

The results? 

  • The top five most desirable projects, in the eyes of survey respondents, included: plant a garden (49.1%), use decorative materials, such as pebbles, stones, or rocks, for landscaping (28.3%), build a deck 22.8%), create a fire pit or BBQ pit (20.5%), and build a patio or walkway with concrete pavers or bricks (19.2%). 
  • The top five projects respondents were very likely to tackle themselves included: plant...

Consider A Functional Upgrade – A New Low-Flow, High Efficiency Toilet

In the world of home repair and remodeling, there are glamorous improvements you can make and there are functional ones. Unless you are transforming your bathroom into a spa, upgrading your toilet may seem like a ho-hum endeavor. This does not have to be the case. Why not? New high-tech toilets can save water and perform beyond your wildest dreams. If you do want high-style fixtures with lots of features, you have plenty to choose from. Even if have you have upgraded in the past to a low-flow model, you will be surprise by what's out there now.

Almost 20 Years of Low-Flow Toilets         

Even since 1994, low-flow toilets have been the norm for U.S. consumers. The government mandated that all toilets on the market must use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) to do the job. Early models saved water but did not always clean the bowl in onr flush. Manufacturers went back to the drawing board to improve their designs.

Starting in 2003, researchers in the U.S. and Canada started to develop standards  for low-flow toilets. Using soybean paste to simulate solid waste, they developed the Maximum Performance Test (MaP) to test flushing abilities and water usage. They found that the best unit, tagged as WaterSense models, use on 1.28 gpf and handle two pounds of waste. Nearly 1.700 models are MaP rated.

The High-Efficiency Difference

The best models on the market today have high-efficiency features that make them deliver clog-free performance. Think of that commercial for an American Standard toilet where the kid is flushing away a box of golf balls and other inappropriate items. The toilet performs because it has other amazing features such as gravity–siphoning with super-charged rim wash to both move waste and clean the bowl, as well as a bigger trap and flush valve – all while using only 1.28 gpf.

Since over 40% of...

Are Stainless Appliances Really On The Way Out In Kitchen Design?

For the last couple years, designers have been predicting the end of the popularity of stainless appliances in kitchens. Whirlpool recently came out with a line called "Ice White," the designated heir-in-waiting. A combination of a glassy white finish  with stainless handles, the new appliance looks different from the white appliances of the past and it is catching on with designers. In addition, some manufacturers have been bringing color back to appliances and even designed some with a retro flair. Is stainless really on the way out in kitchen design, or are the rumors of its impending death premature? 

The Usual Kitchen Trends 

Most kitchen trends tend to lose popularity after 10-15 years. That is why if you look back at former decades, coppery brown was popular in the 60's, green and gold in the 70's, black in the 80's, white in the 90's, and stainless in the '00's. Based on history, stainless will soon be history in the trendy kitchen. Stainless is less popular these days in kitchens on display at international home shows. White, often combined with glass, is already trending in Europe and Israel. However, in the US, stainless is still popular. 

The Lure Of Commercial Flair 

Stainless has long been the standard in commercial kitchens. Rugged and resistant to stains, corrosion and bacteria, stainless can withstand heat, spills, and splatters in a hectic restaurant kitchen. For over a century, stainless was used on some upscale homes, before it came into the mainstream. The product has an industrial, sleek, high-tech look. Since many modern homeowners love to cook, upgraded stainless appliances in high-end brands like Viking and Wolf offer an in-home gourmet workspace. 

Stainless As Status 

Stainless has become a status symbol that leads some people to turn up their noses...

Why Hardwood Floors Have Lasting Appeal Among Homeowners

Hardwood floors, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances are popular among buyers, even if they are not the major factors in deciding on what house to buy as they seem to be on TV. Any of these features can be added after the fact if the house you want to buy has "good bones." Of the three upgrades, both appliance colors and countertop surfaces are likely to be upstaged by the next best thing; in kitchen decor, finishes are popular for a cycle and then go out of vogue. 

Flooring Trends 

Hardwood floors are the most enduring preference, even though carpeting was the preferred floor covering starting in the 1950's. Carpeting prices fell, so it was economical to install, even in new homes.   New technologies made carpeting stain-resistant and easy to clean. By the 1970's, many new housing developments installed subfloors under the carpet instead of hardwood. Twenty or 30 years later, people wanted hardwoods again; currently the preference for hardwood vs. carpet runs about 50/50. 

Hardwood floors can scratch and do not give the cozy feel underfoot on a cold morning. These realities push some people to carpet, while others overcome these disadvantage with area rugs.  Small or even room size rugs can do the trick to prevent damage from furniture, provide a warmer, softer surface, and add color and style. They can be replaced more easily than wall-to-wall carpeting. Carpeting gives an area a lush look, so it has its supporters. For many of the pros and cons of hardwood vs. carpeting, see our previous blog Are You Part of the 51%? 

Why Hardwood Floors Have Lasting Appeal 

Why does hardwood appeal to so many people? 

They offer a timeless quality to a home. Though they need refinishing periodically, hardwood floors can last for centuries. This also makes them environmentally sound,...

Deciding Whether To Love It Or List It In Louisville

If you're a sports fan, you might yell at your TV when LeBron James gets a foul or an umpire makes a questionable call on a play that involves your team. As a Realtor®, I yell at home shows. Though shows such as Love It or List It, Property Brothers, Selling NY, or Income Property are as irresistible as junk food to a real estate agent, some pronouncements by the HGTV experts cry out for a rebuttal! I find this particularly true of Love It or List It, where an easily-offended decorator and a snarky real estate agent tried to either renovate the home so that the homeowners desire to stay there or find an appropriate new home.

How The Show Works

The design professional on this show works on the assumption that most people loved their homes when they bought them, but fell out of love as their family grew or their needs changed. By knocking down walls, reconfiguring space, adding some modern touches, and improving organization, many homes can work again, which causes the owner to rekindle their love. The agent shows an alternative that is renovated and has what the family needs.

Though I don't have the actual stats on this, many more people decide to stay in their refurbished homes rather than move. Aside from love being rekindled in a house that is now more functional, who really wants to move if they like their neighborhood, the kids' schools, the local vibe, the convenience to work, etc?

Many times, this makes sense, but all too often, homeowners overlook the fact that their renovated home lacks something essential for their long-term satisfaction. Will a stainless and granite-countered kitchen compensate for the fact there is still only one full bathroom for six people in the family? Will décor make more bedroom space for the family who's so cramped that there is one crib in the hall and another in the master bathroom? How long will hardwood...

Don't You Just Love Porcelain Tile?

Don't you just love porcelain tile?
 Available in many patterns and styles, this product is harder and stronger than normal ceramic tile, and with a water absorption rate of less than .5%, it a great choice even in kitchens and bathrooms where there may be moisture. It is a great product for walls, backsplashes, counters, or even floors. Available in many shapes, sizes, colors, and patterns, porcelain tile offers many flooring looks –even if you want the look of hardwood.

Enjoy The Look Of Wood

While real hardwood is the material many homebuyers prefer on their floors, porcelain tile is a great choice for floors. Available in wood tones and formed like planks, it offers the fashionable look of wood with easy upkeep. It is resistant to spills, wet feet, and moist, humid climates, while being less susceptible to scratching and chipping; if it has "through-body" coloration like most natural stone does, it doesn't show chips. It holds up well in heavy traffic areas than wood or ceramic tile. Porcelain tile can be a great alternative to hardwood flooring.

If installed with matching grout, porcelain tile gives the look of wood. How can this be? Available in gloss or matte finishes, porcelain has become ready available with the advent of modern manufacturing methods. Advanced graphic techniques make it replicate the look and surface of wood. Whether you want the look of traditional or exotic hardwoods, you can create it in porcelain. For a special decorator look, you can even
add accents of glass tile.

Advantages Of Porcelain Tile

Though challenging to cut and install since it is so hard, it is very durable. As it is processed, the cutting process leaves little cuts that affect the porosity, so the product should be sealed periodically. For kitchens, make sure to buy a product that is rated as "slip-resistant."

The hardness of porcelain makes it hard on the legs if you are...

Outsmart Murphy When Undertaking DIY Renovations On Your Louisville Home

The unwritten law of home repair and renovation is that almost everything takes more time, money, and often skill than you plan on. What seems like a minor project can become major in an instant. You may even find that Murphy's Law takes hold and everything that can go wrong will. To prepare for this scenario, you should ask yourself some serious questions to outsmart the ubiquitous Murphy

What If Your Problems Are More Than Skin Deep? 

Especially if you have an older home, doing a minor kitchen renovation can uncover a budget-sapping electrical or plumbing problem you must fix before you get on with your plans. Many times, what you uncover is a potential safety issue, so you have no choice about fixing it. You have to consider whether you have the skills to attend to what you find. Just because you think you can handle installing a floor, light fixture, or a faucet does not mean you are prepared to rewire or replace power line. You need to call in a contractor, at least for this part of the project. This is a wise choice, but it will add to your budget. 

What Is Your Vision For The Project? 

The bigger the project you want to do, the more likelihood it is than will exceed your design expertise. You may think you know what you want to do, but if you are planning on much more than cosmetic fixes, calling in an interior designer will give you some great ideas. Many home stores and even contracting firms have design services that will help you clarify or maybe even redefine your vision. Even if you are tackling a landscaping job outside, a consultation from a nursery with a landscape designer can get you on the right track. 

What Is Your Skill Level? 

DIY projects are good training opportunities as long as you do not try to greatly exceed your skill level. Have you ever done the type of work before? Do you have time to learn? Do you have the tools? If your answer to any of these questions...

Which Home Defects Are 'Deal Breakers'?

With the spring real estate market in Louisville much hotter than the weather, you might be ready to join the frenzy and buy or sell your home. Inventory is low at some price points in some locations, so if you put your home up for sale, you might find that it is quickly scooped up by an eager buyer. As a home buyer, you might have to settle for a great home that doesn't match all of your wish list items, and even then, may be in a multiple bid situation with other house–hungry buyers.

A couple months ago, we wrote about the importance of home inspections and the problems that the inspector might turn up. Now that sellers are rushing to get their homes on the market to take advantage of the current boom and buyers are considering homes with potential, what types of problems are deal breakers?

 Common Deal Breakers

No home is perfect, but certain types of problems are serious enough to send buyers packing and force a seller who thinks he has a deal to renegotiate the selling price.

  • Foundation problems. The home may show a few minor cracks after settling but larger cracks may mean expensive trouble.
  • Termites or other pests. Current or past infestations of termites, carpenter ants, and other pests may weaken their home’s structural integrity. Wiring issues. Old wiring such as knob and tube or aluminum may present a fire hazard, while the fuse box or circuit box may show the wiring is inadequate for modern appliances.
  • Roof. Roofs have a lifespan that can be expanded by patching, up to a point. If the roof is past its prime, or if the flashing is in poor condition (or nonexistent), the roof can leak or admit water that causes damage before you...

Who Are You Remodeling Your Louisville Bathroom For?

So, you are upgrading your bathroom, and after visiting some websites and brick and mortar stores, browsing through catalogs, and watching a little HGTV, you are have an extensive list of "must haves." Separate tub and shower... Vessel sinks… Heated floors… Granite or marble countertops… Double sinks…. The more you look, the more costly your renovation list will be. 

Who Are You Remodeling For? 

Before you begin, you need to confront the basic question in home remodeling these days: are you doing the remodel for yourself or for resale?  Everyone eventually sells their home. Some upgrades you might want will ultimately help you sell it, while others will limit its appeal. You definitely will not get a dollar-for-dollar return on your investment.

Cost Vs. Return 

According to the latest annual report from Remodeling Magazine, which compares the payback on different upgrades you might make, you stand to make a return of 65% ($10,000) on a "midrange " renovation costing $16,000 and 58% ($29,000) on a $50,000 "upscale" redo in Kentucky. What the magazine considers "midrange" is remodeling a 5 x 7 room with new basic fixtures, a tub-shower combo with ceramic tile surround, solid surface-topped vanity with molded sink, wallpaper, and a tile floor. 

The "upscale" remodel includes expanding the space, moving fixtures, adding a whirlpool tub and separate shower with frameless glass enclosure, upgraded fixtures, stone-topped double vanity, larger ceramic tiles, custom cabinets, plus amenities such as heated flooring and heated towel racks. 

When incorporating some of the more upscale features in a more modest renovation, you are likely to absorb 35-45% of the costs. If you are planning to stay put...

Avoid As-Seen-On-TV Problems With A Louisville Home Inspection

You can't believe  everything you see on TV, but a recent Love It Or List It episode on HGTV reminded me of a trap anxious homeowners can fall into all too easily. The TV homeowners had a three-year-old home that was new construction when they bought it. Very spacious, the attic and basement there could easily be finished. When they went to finish the attic they found out that they had serious structural problems that precluded them from just having some finishing work done to the floors and walls.

"How," the TV host asked, "did you get into this situation?"

The unhappy owner replied, "We were in a multiple offer situation and we skipped the home inspection." 

Home Inspection Contingency

Adding a home inspection contingency to a sales contract is common, but can make an offer less attractive to a seller who has several offers to evaluate. Frequently, he chooses to go with a buyer who offers the best price, has financing in line, and has the fewest conditions in the contract that could slow down or otherwise affects the sale. Typically, a home inspection contingency offers buyers an escape clause from the sale if the inspection turns up costly problems and reopens pricing negotiations to repair damage. Skipping the home inspection might seem like a worthwhile gamble in ordered to get a house you love, but as a TV family learned, the results can be costly. Don't try this at home! Not even on newly constructed homes! 

Why A Home Inspection Is Worth It 

Basic home inspections can cost a few hundred dollars at a time when your money is already stretched thin, but a home inspection is essential. A trained inspector can uncover problems that could lead you to costly repairs in the future. When buying a home,...

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