Archive for the ‘House Projects’ Category

7 Springtime Home Spruces to Boost Buyer’s Interest – Reprint from Trulia 4/26/2012

Each of us thinks are home is perfect and we take such pride.  But when we get ready to sell we need to take a look from a buyer’s perspective.  Does your home reflect your pride of ownership.  Here are some great ideas to spruce up your home as you get ready to sell – thanks to

One of the first things many homebuyers look for are the unmistakable signs of something called ‘pride of ownership.’ As a whole, it’s a relatively intangible concept: there are just homes that have it – reeking of their owners’ love and meticulous care for the property — and homes that, well, don’t.

I’ve watched firsthand as buyers who like a cute home that is in generally good shape literally talk themselves into looking at a more homes once they start to notice one rickety gate, which snowballed into a nitpicky laundry list of little, tiny fixes the seller had left undone. The challenge is that between deciding whether and when to sell, staging, interviewing agents and determining a list price, it can be tempting for homeowners to fall into the trap of deferring maintenance on a home they might sell soon.

Whether you plan to put your home on the market next week or next year, here is a short list of  home maintenance items you should put on your Spring to-do list, stat, if you want to attract qualified buyers and let your home sweet-talk them into making a sweet offer:

1. Banish chips, scuffs and the like with a fresh coat of paint. I believe that eliminating nicks, scuffs and scratches on any painted or finished surface is one of the cheapest, easiest and most impactful spruces a seller-to-be can do.  That’s because these little tiny blemishes create a shabby appearance on a home that might otherwise be in great shape, but can be entirely banished with a good washing and some fresh paint.

This goes for interior and exterior walls, floors, and especially any sort of trims that are painted white, as is common with crown and floor moldings – scuff marks and blemishes seem to pop out from these items. Also, the edges of cupboards, doors and drawers are places where chips and nicks are so common that homeowners overlook them, but can be super visible to buyers who visit your home for the first time.

2. Brighten, polish and replace all trims.  One day, I’ll do a scientific study, and I predict the results will reveal that if you put two identical homes side-by-side and give one a set of tricked-out trims – exterior shutters, front door, eaves – even your house numbers, door knockers, kickplates and other exterior hardware – people will rate the house with the beautiful trims way higher on the ‘pride of ownership’ scale than you’d expect.

Go stand on your own curb to get the buyer’s-eye view of your home, and then drive around your own neighborhood or the nicest part of town and flip through some home improvement mags or websites for ideas.  If you can add attractive trims, freshen up the ones you have or paint them to create an unexpected but attractive color combination with the body of your house, you can skyrocket your home’s standing on my (newly invented) ‘pride of ownership’ scale.

3. Furry, drippy, noisy or broken HVAC systems. Maintaining your heating and air conditioning systems is not that expensive, but buyers think it is. In fact, your furnace  and AC are precisely the sort of major household machinery that intimidate first-time home buyers.  So, if they show up to the open house or a private showing of your home in June and the AC is making a funny knocking sound or just flat out doesn’t work well enough to keep the house cool, buyers might perceive that as a more serious red flag than it truly is.

Does your AC has that furry ‘science experiment’ look to it? Not only are you paying for the energy it’s probably wasting to push the air pass all that dust and dirt, the gross-out factor will have even the hardiest buyer wondering what else might be wrong with your home.

On the flip side, letting prospective buyers know that your home’s HVAC systems have been recently maintained or upgraded is a nice touch that makes itself obvious during showings and allows buyers to breathe a sigh of relief when it comes to concerns about short-term repair bills and the comfort level of family members who may have allergies and asthma.

Side note: if your AC does make a funny sound you might be so accustomed to you can’t hear it anymore – check in with your agent unless you know as a matter of fact that your AC is in tip-top shape. One more side note: if you live someplace where it gets cold around the holidays and you don’t plan to list your home until wintertime, right now may be the ideal time to have your heating system serviced. Off-season repairs and maintenance are often discounted.

4. Mend and tend to your fences, gates and screens. These items may not jump out at us in our own home – in fact, these are things I often see sellers skimp on or run out of time and money to tend to. And it’s easy to rationalize your way out of dealing with them, as they seem like relatively inexpensive fixes for buyers to make themselves.  But screens with holes in them and gates that don’t budge or hang off their hinges are precisely the sorts of things I’ve seen make buyers walk back through a home looking for other flaws; and anything to do with fences makes them envision neighbor disputes over bills.  You have the power to avoid sparking these concerns in the minds of house hunters by mending these items this Spring.

5. Doors, cupboards and drawers. One creaky door or squeaky cupboard does not kill a deal. But keep in mind that in some homes, other than the lights, these are the only functioning systems of your home that house hunting visitors will almost certainly use during the course of a viewing. Making sure your entry, interior closet and cupboard doors are in good cosmetic shape and that they work well and don’t stick is an easy, inexpensive way to position your home as a (literally) well-oiled machine.

One point of clarification – it’s less the case that buyers will notice, ooh and ahh over your smoothly sliding drawers than that they will notice and grow concerned if they don’t.

6. Have everything cleaned and washed. Even the most immaculate of housekeepers can realize a massive refresh to the look, feel, smell and the overall air quality of their homes by having professional cleaners come take a tour through the place. Springtime is a great time to ask your agent for referrals to the best local vendors to power wash your house, windows and driveway, as well as to have your carpets, rugs and window coverings cleaned. For those who are on a tight budget, many vendors offer Spring cleaning promotions for these services right about now (and if your budget is even tighter, there are products you can buy and machines you can rent to do these things yourself – just make sure you account for the value of your time).

7. Shred it up.  Some might say this is more like Spring cleaning than home maintenance, but I’ve noticed that the clutter of boxes and boxes of paperwork, old file cabinets and the like have a tendency to contribute to the sense that a listed property might be unkempt, the aura of  stagnation. If you have no cash to do anything else on this list, one thing you can do for free is to go through all your files and boxes, get rid of old papers and shred anything with sensitive information.

Just think – you’ll have to do it anyway when you move, so this is like giving yourself a head start and your attic, basement office or other rooms a fresh start. You can count it as a staging tactic as well, as it gives the rooms at issue some added visual white space, making them seem larger!


Tara-Nicholle Nelsen    broker from CA

Caring for Wood Siding – A Reprint from Houselogic (August 2009)

How many of us have wood siding and really don’t know the best way to clean it and keep it looking fresh.  Unlike vinyl siding, you can’t turn on the power wash spray or you will have what many have experienced – places where the paint has come off.  Perhaps staining is the answer?  Here is some great information from


Wood siding is one of the most beautiful of all types of siding—and one of  the most expensive. If you’d like to avoid repairs that could cost thousands of  dollars, and you’d like to keep your clapboard, shingles, or board-and-batten  lasting for decades, regular upkeep and maintenance is critical.

Finish, protect wood siding

Wood must be properly finished with a paint, stain, or clear sealer. Left  unprotected, it’s susceptible to rot and decay caused by moisture. Of special  concern is the fact that wood expands and contracts with normal changes in  humidity and temperature. These fluctuations may cause paint finishes to chip  and crack, and over time puts stress on caulked seams around windows, doors, and  at corners. If the caulk separates and fails to keep out moisture, wood rot may  develop. Even species of wood that have a natural resistance to rot, such as  redwood, cypress, and cedar, may decay if not properly protected from the  elements.

Paint comes in unlimited colors and can be changed at any time. A house with  wood siding must be repainted at least every five years, or as soon as the paint  finish begins to deteriorate. A DIY paint job requires about 60 hours of labor.  A professional crew will paint a two-story, 2,300 sq. ft. house for  $3,000-$5,000.

Stain is a good choice for wood because it allows the beauty of the grain to  show through. Stain penetrates wood fibers and helps seal them against moisture;  it’s also resistant to the cracking and chipping that affects paint. Because  stain is a penetrating sealer—not a coating, like paint—it’s difficult to change  the color of previously stained wood. Staining a house is less labor-intensive  than painting because prep work is minimal. Expect to pay $2,000-$4,000 for a  pro crew to stain a two-story, 2,300-sq. ft. house. Using a rented paint  sprayer, a two-person DIY team can re-stain a two-story house in 4-5 days for  about $500, including the stain.

Clear sealers prevent moisture damage and allow wood to retain its natural  color, but they must be reapplied at least every two years. Clear sealers are  formulated to help slow the process that allows ultraviolet light to turn wood  silvery gray. However, all natural wood, regardless of species, eventually turns  gray when exposed to years of sunlight. Using a rented paint sprayer, a  two-person DIY team can refinish a two-story, 2,300 sq. ft. house in a 3-day  weekend for about $500, including the finish.

Clean stains on wood siding

Dirt is the most common cause of discoloration on wood siding. Clean annually  using warm, soapy water and a soft-bristled brush. Divide your house into  20-foot sections, clean each section from top to bottom and rinse before moving  on.

Mildew appears as black spotty stains. Clean the area with a solution of one  part bleach to four parts water. Wear eye protection and protect plants from  splashes. Rinse thoroughly with clean water.

Rust stains often appear as dark black splotches and vertical streaks.  They’re usually caused by a metal fastener, such as a nail or screw, that wasn’t  galvanized. Contact with moisture causes the fastener to oxidize, leaving  streaks. To remove the stain, dissolve 4 oz. oxalic acid (available at hardware  stores and home improvement centers) in 1 cup warm water.

Wear eye protection and acid-proof gloves; avoid splashing the mixture onto  adjacent surfaces. Apply the mixture to the stain and gently scrub with a soft  bristle brush. Rinse thoroughly with water. Refinish the spot if necessary.  Problem nails must be replaced with a galvanized or stainless steel  fasteners.

Restore the color of natural wood siding

Siding that has discolored with age can be restored to its original color by  applying a wood cleaner or brightener. These products often are intended for use  on wood decks, but they work well on natural wood siding. They’re available at  hardware stores and home improvement centers. Follow the manufacturer’s  instructions.

Replace wood siding

Replace wood siding that show signs of damage. The most common damage comes  from accidentally hitting the siding with sticks and stones thrown from a lawn  mower, or from objects, like baseballs. Occasionally, wood siding may crack due  to changes in atmospheric moisture. Repairs to wood siding require the expertise  to remove the damaged siding while leaving surrounding siding intact. Unless you  have the skills, hire a professional carpenter or siding contractor. Expect to  pay $200-$300 to replace one or two damaged siding panels.

Prevent damage to wood siding

A house with wood siding is most vulnerable to water infiltration where  siding butts against windows, doors, and corner moldings, says Frank Lesh, a  professional house inspector in Chicago and past president of the American Society of Home  Inspectors. Look for caulk that has cracked due to age, or has pulled away  from adjacent surfaces, leaving gaps. Reapply a color-matched exterior caulk  during dry days with temperatures in excess of 65 degrees F.

Lesh also stresses that no bush, tree branches, or shrubbery be allowed to  touch the house siding. Foliage conducts moisture that can find its way into  cracks and tiny openings in siding. “You should have enough room to comfortably  walk between your house and any plant materials,” he says.

Read more:

13 Great Gift Ideas (Inman News)

So many of us have those around the house projects.  Christmas is a perfect opportunity to give that special person tools that fit the project
Here are some tips from Inman New of 13 Great Gift Ideas – and only 4 more days til Christmas
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