Remodeling the bathroom is one of the best investments you can make as a homeowner -- whether youre planning to live in your home for ten years or sell it within the next five. In fact, improving the atmosphere and functionality of the bathroom offers a huge benefit, especially if youre starting with a cramped or outdated space. The biggest question, of course, is: How much budget do you have for your remodel? Not everyone can spend tens of thousands of dollars on a bathroom remodel.
So here are some projects that will improve your bathroom, whether you have a budget of 1,000 or 10,000:
A budget that caps at 1,000 doesnt give you a lot of room to hire professionals. Youre going to have to do most of the work yourself -- except when it comes to plumbing and electrical work. Thats best left to the professionals, and letting them handle it will save you money and hassle in the long run anyhow. Focus on the smaller DIY improvements that will revitalize and renew the bathrooms appearance. Some projects to consider are:
Repainting the walls: If your bathroom walls are looking particularly drab, then adding a fresh coat of paint could do a lot for the room. Choose a shade that brings it into the 21st century and creates a welcoming, >
New tiling: Think about the tile in your bathroom, maybe the wall behind your bathtub or on the floor. If its cracked or outdated, now might be a good time to replace it. Vinyl and ceramic tile is quite affordable -- costing anywhere between 2 and 5 per square foot, depending on the design. Generally, youll pay around 400 for 200 square feet of tile. Plus, youll have to lay it yourself. In comparison, professional tile installation averages around 900 to 2,100 -- way outside your budget.
Additional storage: Depending on the size of your bathroom, you might want to look at how you can optimize storage. Think about a new medicine cabinet, baskets or a standing shelf if your bathroom has the room. You could spend anywhere between 100 and 200 on storage depending on which kind you decide to install.
Regrouting: To make your bathtub or shower look fresher and cleaner, regrout the tile. Scrub with a brush and a bleach solution. If you cant get the debris off, think about removing the grout and reapplying a new layer. The cost of grout is about 20.
New exhaust fan: The exhaust fan in your bathroom helps prevent mildew and mold growth. If the exhaust fan is worn down and not running properly anymore, its time to replace it. The cost of a new bath fan averages at about 100, but its a worthwhile investment to avoid mildew growth.
Green showerhead: How much money are you paying for water right now? Do you like long, luxurious showers? To avoid cutting down your time in the hot water, think about replacing your showerhead with its green alternative. Low-flow showerheads can cost as little as 50 and are easy to install. Plus, you can still get high water pressure.
New faucet: Another investment you can make in your bathroom is to replace your faucet. A new faucet can really change the look of your sink and cut down costs on your water bill as well, depending on which one you choose. Most faucets cost about 50 to start, though the best types will cost upwards of 100. If you want an efficient faucet, keep an eye out for the Watersense logo.
When you have a more sizeable budget, you dont have to >
Granite countertops: Granite countertops have always been a popular investment for kitchens and bathrooms. However, they can cost a lot of money -- about 3,100. So to save a few dollars, choose granite that has imperfections or countertops in neutral colors.
New accessories: Little accessories can make a big impact. Maybe its the overhead lighting, towel racks or drawer handles in the vanity. While these seem insignificant, together they can drastically increase the appeal and atmosphere of the bathroom. Do not replace your lighting fixtures on your own, but changing out bulbs with their LED or CFL alternatives is okay -- and it cuts down on your electricity costs.
Refinishing fixtures: While you might think about replacing one or two of your bathroom fixtures, you shouldnt try to replace all of them. Instead, think about refinishing some of your fixtures like the sink, shower and bathtub. If theyre made of cast iron, porcelain or fiberglass, this is a cheap investment with great results. Your fixtures will look almost brand new for a fraction of the cost to replace them. For example, the cost to refinish a bathtub is 300 on the low end and 1,000 on the high end, as compared to replacing it for 2,200 on average.
More green updates: There are a lot of green updates you can make around the bathroom to save money on your utility bill. As reiterated before, CFL and LED lighting helps, as do low-flow showerheads and Watersense faucets. In addition, you can invest in dual-flush or no-flush waterless toilets, also under the Watersense label.
Bathroom remodeling doesnt have to be an expensive investment. Despite your budget, there are always ways to save and still end up with a new, revitalized space. If you dont have the budget to do what you want in the bathroom, you can at least make a few adjustments until youre ready to gut the space for more major changes.
|Andrea Davis is the editor for HomeAdvisor, which helps homeowners find home improvement professionals in their area at no charge to ensure the best service in the shortest amount of time.|
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You can swap out your couch, get a new dining room table, paint your walls a new color, change up the furniture placement, but if you dont have the right lighting, the space still might not feel pulled together.
"The lighting in a home changes the mood of a room just as it does the perceived size of a room," said SFGATE. The elements that come together when the right lighting is achieved transform a room into a seamless combination of functionality and >
1. Lighting plans
Key to quality lighting design is having a "layered" plan with different types of lighting serving different purposes.
"The concept of layering light is particularly important in the living/family room, an area of the house where people tend to gather for long stretches of time and engage in an array of activities, including conversation, watching TV, reading, playing board games and using a laptop," said HGTV.
Their recommendations include:
"Ambient lighting that bounces off the ceiling
Task lighting from table lamps
Accent lighting that focuses on a particular architectural element in the room
Once you know how to use lighting to maximize the potential of your home, the fun part begins: adding in the pretty stuff. Here are the trends youll want to follow.
There is perhaps no greater lighting trend right now than pendants, with a combination of versatility, functionality, and beauty that inspires designers and homeowners.
"Pendant lighting is a hot item at the moment," said Decorators Wisdom. "Some in-demand pendant lighting draws inspiration from the past, while other >
Louis Lighting extols the virtue of glass pendants, which can "transcend several dcor >
Pendants are also being used in all new places and in new ways, added 1000 Bulbs. "Whether youre browsing Pinterest online or walking around home dcor stores like IKEA, its hard not to notice the sweeping popularity of pendant lights," they said. "Lately, these versatile light fixtures are appearing in more areas than just their traditional places over kitchen islands or countertops, debuting above front entryways, dining room tables, night stands, and bathroom vanities among other places. But the fixture itself is not the only new trendthe way pendant lighting is being installed is also new, as clusters of pendants are often grouped together to create one, dramatic overhead light fixture, or multiple pendants are hung spread out at varying heights."
The industrial chic look has legs, and adding a light fixture in this >
See some great examples of industrial lighting here.
4. Antique bulbs
A growing trend tied into the industrial look is antique light bulbs. While more expensive than traditional bulbs, they bring a unique touch to your fixtures.
"You may have already noticed the beautiful winding filaments of antique light bulbs glowing in the dining area of your favorite restaurant or in the lobby of a luxury hotel. But antique light bulbs are actually making a comeback in both retro and industrial >
Looking for a way to get "the look and feel of >
Speaking of LED, its another hot lighting trend that is growing fast as consumers seek out ways to cut both their energy bill and their carbon footprint.
"LED lighting is here to stay," said Louie Lighting. "Significantly, LED lighting is both practical and affordable as compared to other alternatives. The demand for LED lighting, particularly in the kitchen and bathroom has grown exponentially according to residential architects. Costs for customers are also going steadily downward as their use becomes more ubiquitous."
6. Lighting in drawers and cabinets
Call it the evolution of under-cabinet lighting. Accent lighting in cabinets not only helps brighten up dark spaces, but also helps showcase collectiblesa key complement to the glass-front cabinet trend. Get some ideas on how to add LED lighting to drawers here.
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If youre buying a newer home, or one that was built in the last 50 or so years, it may be lacking the charm youre looking for. Thankfully, there are ways to add charm into your home that will give you the function - and the form - you want.
"With little time and little money, you can add lots of charm all around the house," said HGTV.
Crown molding is among the easiest ways to bring some character and architectural interest into your home, and its inexpensive, especially if you do it yourself. But if the idea of mitering corners is making you hyperventilate, a handyman can quickly transform your blah space into something beautiful.
Houzz doesnt stop at crown molding. They recommend transforming all the trim in your house.
"When it comes to architecture, details count. They also define," they said. "The places where floors, doors, ceilings and windows meet the walls are usually accompanied by trim. The way that trim is executed has refined and defined our houses throughout history. Trim adds character and flavor to a home, the way pearl buttons finish off a shirt or cinnamon completes a coffee cake. And it helps distinguish one >
See Houzz for detailed examinations of how to add Victorian, Colonial, Georgian, Craftsman, or Contemporary trim to your home.
2. Cabinetry that looks built-in
Those charming built-ins you see in old Craftsman homesyou know, the ones that flank an old fireplace or create a great hutch in the dining roomare lovely. Although it would be hard to find a home built nearly 100 years ago with perfectcondition built-ins. You know what would be easier? Creating your own built-in-looking cabinetry. Its not as hard as it sounds, and it doesnt have to cost much either.
"Its still possible to add character, charm, and storage space into our homes without hiring a carpenter or moving into a historic home," said Infarrantly Creative. "In fact, getting a few built-ins of your own is as easy as getting creative with inexpensive shelving from a big-box store."
This library wall was created by Centsational Girl using four IKEA BILLY bookcases and some trim molding.
See Infarrantly Creative for more ideas.
You may be able to find charming period lighting if you scour second-hand stores, antique shops, or flea markets. Or, you can pick up a reproduction piece and instantly transform a space.
PW Vintage Lighting
4. Cozy reading nook
Is there anything more charming, really, than an inspiring space to curl up with a book?
"Give an awkward area a purpose and appeal. Transform a basic bay or boxy window into a reading nook," said Better Homes and Gardens.
This can be easily achieved by building a platform or with in-stock cabinets from Lowes and a DIY cushion. See some great ideas here.
Newlyweds in New York
5. Think Hardware
"Reinvent your entry or interior doors with antiqued brass, crystal, porcelain, or colored-glass doorknobs," said Better Homes and Gardens. The same can be done with hardware in your kitchen and bathroom to bring in a vintage or retro touch.
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What are you waiting for? Inherent in ownership of real estatea house, condominium unit, second home, investment property - is the reality that eventually it will be sold.
Since there is no expiry date or "best before" restriction on real estate ownership, knowing when to sell can be a significant challenge for owners.
Do you recognize your ownership >
Real estate investors use property comparison and number crunching to arrive at the ideal "when to sell" and reinvest their funds for maximum returns. Residential owners could do this too, but usually dont.
Recreational properties like cottages and ski chalets are often dispassionately sold when ownership is no longer practical and costs outweigh time used and benefits gained. Although similar realities may be true for residential real estate, emotional ties and community connections can overshadow practical issues.
Residential owners can make enlightened financial decisions or respond to life>
- A lucky few unexpectedly happen on their ideal next home and are, therefore, motivated to sell quickly and snap up this dream home.
- Many other homeowners debate for years about selling versusstaying because there are no clear cut influences to precipitate a decision to sell. Some compromise quality of life and struggle with inconveniences in a property which no longer meets their needs.
- Others miss real estate price peaks which they later regret and whine "if only Id".
- A surprising number wait to see which quirk of fate will trigger a movejob change, new baby, illness, divorce, a lottery win.
What are you waiting for?
Here are the Top 6 Seller Procrastinations that distract sellers from making well-thought-out decisions about the value of their real estate and what to do with it:
1. "Im waiting for the value of my real estate to increase." If youre planning to buy more real estate with the proceeds of the sale, waiting for a better market may not be the best strategy. When your property goes up in value, so do others. Gains in your neighborhood may be canceled out by gains in the area youd like to move to. Youll achieve the greatest benefits when the differential between your current neighborhood and your ideal next location favors your real estate. Real estate professionals make their living balancing gains for seller-buyers, so dont try to do their job when you dont have their training and access to data. Concentrate on finding the local
professional with in-depth knowledge of the two neighborhoods in question who is ready to work on the best sell-buy strategy for you.
2. "Im waiting for my house to be painted/fixed up, so I make top dollar." Once again, increasing market value is what professionals do for their listing clients. In fact, professionals go beyond value increase to make sure their clients net the best return on their investment in the property. Yourideas, unlike those of professionals, on what to renovate and how will not be based on current, first-hand experience with buyer reactions. Dont spend a dime until you have professional feedback on what will make your real estate more valuable to qualified buyers.
3. "Im waiting for the last kid to go to college." That departure date bears no >
4. "Im waiting to retire." That may be a long wait since 20th Century, pension-rich retirement is history. Now, your real estate should be a financial partner in your future. Managing home equity is your new job as we have been explaining here for ages. Same idea as 3 where professional market knowledge gives you the edge.
5. "Im waiting until I can comfortably leave behind the memories weve made here." Being sad to leave a home, cottage, or building that has brought you and your family pleasure is not a bad thing. Would you prefer to be desperate to get away from the real estate you own? Take videos or do what you can to preserve the memories, so they are not a barrier to choice.
6. "Im waiting for" Passively waiting to see what happens is not a plan or a strategy - its a cop out. Monitor real estate and financial markets to determine when you have the greatest advantage. Strategize how to increase the value of
your real estate in the meantime. Take this on yourself, or search out a real estate professional who shares your long-term vision of gaining the greatest return on your real estate investment.
What are you waiting for?
Social media and technology in general can fill up our time and give us the illusion that we are doing a lot.
- The problem is you may be very busy watching other people make real estate decisions, while you accomplish little for yourself.
- You can be very busy commenting on what others are doing and not doing, while you procrastinate.
Are you spending enough time evaluating your decisions and thinking about what you are doing and not doing about your real estate?
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"The real estate industry is saddled with a large number of part-time, untrained, unethical, and/or incompetent agents. This knowledge gap threatens the credibility of the industry."
"The delta between great real estate service and poor real estate service has simply become too large, due to the unacceptably low entry requirements to become a real estate agent. Professional, hardworking agents increasingly understand that the not so good agents bringing the entire industry down."
No, thats not me talking. Though I might agree. Im quoting. As a matter of fact, Im quoting from a recently->
One might wonder: why would NAR commission a report that says things like that? Consider this explanation from NARs Strategic Thinking Advisory Committee. "effectively planning for the future requires a thorough understanding of the threats and challenges that the real estate industry faces today and during the next few years To help move the discussion forward[the committee], along with Stefan Swanepoel, has created a report that seeks to describe as many of the threats and dangers as possible that may affect the real estate industry."
Stefan Swanepoel is without a doubt one of the leading perhaps the leading consultant to the residential real estate industry in the United States. NAR commissioned him and his T3 group to "uncover, research, and index the potential threats facing the industry." The goal was to "provide Organized Real Estate, as well as its members, a comprehensive report identifying the most significant threats, risks, and black swans facing the real estate industry without judging or discarding them, without placing blame or picking sides, and without attempting to solve them."
Swanepoels group did this by researching over 200 reports, surveying more than 7,500 brokers and agents, and interviewing by Swanepoel 70 CEOs and other senior executives from the largest franchisors, the largest real estate brokerage companies, national, state and local REALTORAssociations, and various MLS organizations. All the opinions hexpressed and comments made are given without attribution.
The research, survey, and interview results were categorized into 5 major sections of the industry: agents, brokers, NAR, State amp; Local Associations, and MLS organizations. Five dangers are listed for each category. Mr. Swanepoel adds his personal perspective to each danger. The dangers "threat level" is then ranked according to a three-dimension index.
The dimensions are:
This then results in a composite score called the Danger Index e.g. Critical, Severe, High. The authors clearly state that the index is not scientific, but is a combined and weighted representation of the research, surveys and interviews that took place.
An example of this ranking is the danger that "Masses of Marginal Agents Destroy [Industry] Reputation", as represented by the comments we quoted at the beginning of this discussion. That had a Danger Index of 100 Critical. Its probability was the highest at 5.0 100 chance. The timing factor was 4.0 within 1 to 3 years, and the Impact 5.0 Game Changer.
Among the other dangers that the report found to be facing agents; Commissions Spiral Downwards Danger Index 87.5 and that the IRS will force the end of Independent Contractor status Danger Index 63.
Next week we will look more closely at dangers said by the report to be facing agents and to be facing brokers. Meanwhile, readers are encouraged to download the report at dangerreport.com. It could keep you up at night.
Bob Hunt is a director of the California Association of Realtors. He is the author of Real Estate the Ethical Way.
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Ahhhhh...spring Thoughts of lovers turn to love and those of landscaper contractors turn to growing things, like the lawn. Its time to weed, fertilize, remove moss and reseed to get it up and growing again. For homeowner associations, this usually means the landscape contractor has also been busy for weeks firing up the irrigation system, thatching, doing drainage corrections, removing and replacing dead plants, sweeping, blowing and mowing. Theres a lot to do. And theres a lot to know about how to do it right.
Its important to recognize the difference between "mow and blow artists" and true landscape contract professionals. Mow and blow is basically a guy with minimal tools and experience. He usually does a passable job lawn mowing but ra>
A true landscape professional has an artists eye, a horticulturists training and managers organization to ensure that your landscaping thrives through good weather and bad. Each season brings its own challenges: Whether its too wet or too dry, too hot or too cold, the landscape professional has sophisticated ways to keep it looking its best. Here are some helpful landscape contractor screening tips:
1. Determine capabilities. Besides the usual services, some install hardscapes like retaining walls, drainage and irrigation systems which could be important to the overall job.
2. Check credentials. Individuals should have either an education in Ornamental Horticulture or several years on-the-job training. The company is usually a member in national or state landscape associations which indicates a desire for excellence. Ask for a list of references and professional affiliations.
3. Check for licensing, certification and insurance. If required by state law, the company should be licensed or certified. Licensing provides higher accountability and ensures the level of competence required by state exams.
4. Level of maintenance. Do you have low maintenance landscape or a high impact design with seasonal color, intricate pruning and pest control needs? The budget can vary a lot depending on the level of service.
5. Check insurance. Proof of insurance for workers compensation, liability and vehicles should be available to you. Check for limits and policy expiration.
6. Visit a similar job. Do a random site check of some current clients to verify work quality.
7. Review the contract. Your landscape maintenance contract should have a detailed annual schedule to handle all aspects of the work. Some tasks are done more or less frequently according to season and the schedule should reflect it.
8. Share the work? Some HOAs have volunteers that like to do certain aspects to reduce costs. Discuss what options there might be.
So whats it going to be, landscape professional or lawnscalper? The first ensures a vibrant and healthy landscape while the second will skin your landscape alive. Your choice. For more on hiring professional landscape contractors, see National Association of Landscape Professionals www.landcarenetwork.org
For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to www.Regenesis.net.
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Question. I am considering selling a rental house I own and taking back the loan myself. This would give me monthly income and get me out of the landlord business. What is the procedure to follow in doing this? Is there a risk?
Answer. A seller take back loan means that you -- as the seller of real estate -- will deed the house to the buyer and instead of getting all cash, you will get some cash and the balance in a mortgage or deed of trust.
Many sellers, when faced with the uncertainties in the real estate market, have found that a seller take back arrangement not only makes financial sense, but can be a good marketing tool to entice prospective purchasers to buy.
From a financial point of view, a seller take back trust can -- if successful -- generate more long-range income than me>
From the purchasers point of view, a seller take back arrangement will probably save a lot of lender up-front costs, such as appraisal fees, points, and underwriting fees.
However, it must be clearly stated that there is always a risk when a seller takes back financing.
There are two kinds of seller take back trusts: a first and a second or subordinate. NOTE: in some states, lenders use mortgages and not deeds of trust. For purposes of this column, there are no differences between a mortgage and a deed of trust.
If you are considering taking back a first deed of trust, this means you will be in first place in the event your borrower defaults. Lets look at this example: you sell your property for 200,000, and the buyer gives you 20,000 cash at settlement. You take back a first deed of trust a mortgage in the amount of 180,000, based on a 4.5 percent per annum interest rate. The mortgage or deed of trust is recorded among the land records in the jurisdiction where the property is located. The entire loan is due and payable in 7 years, but the monthly mortgage payments are amortized over a 30 year period. This means that when the loan comes due in 7 years called a balloon note the buyer will have to pay you a substantial amount of money. Note that i just picked 7 years; the length of the note is negotiable between lender seller and borrower buyer.
What happens if the buyer defaults -- either during the 7 year period or at the end of the term? You can foreclose on the property, and if all goes well, someone will pay enough money at the foreclosure sale to make you whole including the various fees for processing the foreclosure or you will once again own your house free and clear of any debt. You also have the option to file suit claiming breach of the terms of that note.
But, life is not always that simple. Often, if a borrower is in default and when the lender starts the foreclosure process, the borrower will file bankruptcy. While you are a secured creditor, and may ultimately end up being allowed to foreclose or the court will have the property sold to pay the debts of the bankrupt owner, bankruptcy is a process that is expensive and potentially time consuming. There may be many months or even years before you will be paid.
A second deed of trust means that you are in second place position to a first trust lender. If the first trust lender forecloses, and there is not enough equity in the house to pay off your second trust, your trust will be wiped out. While you still have the right to sue the person who bought your house under the promissory note, obviously if they are in financial difficulty, this right to sue could be meaningless. There is no cash register at the back of the courthouse, so that even if you get a judgment against the note maker, the chances of collection will at best be slim.
It is extremely important, however, that the trust documents be properly prepared -- and prepared by your attorney and not the lawyer for the buyer or even the title company.
To protect yourself, you must first investigate the credit-worthiness of your buyer. Find out what income your buyer makes and obtain the buyers permission to do a credit search with a local credit bureau. If that credit bureau reports a history of slow or delinquent payments to such places as department stores or oil companies, you may want to reject extending further credit to an already over-extended purchaser.
You also want to make sure that there will be more than adequate security in the property in the event of a foreclosure. For example, if you are selling your house for 200,000, I cannot recommend that you lend your borrower more than 180,000 in other words a 90 percent loan. If your buyer defaults, you want to be able to sell the house at a foreclosure sale and at least break even. My preference is to lend no more than 80 percent of the sales price, but this may not often be possible.
When you take back financing, you are lending your borrower money. Your buyer will have to sign two pieces of paper. One is promissory note in which the buyer states that he or she has borrowed a certain sum of money and agrees to pay that amount, with interest, in monthly or quarterly payments. You have to figure out whether you want the payments amortized equally over a period of years, or whether the buyer will be permitted to pay interest only, until the loan becomes due.
This promissory note must contain provisions for default, so that you will be able to call the note in the event the purchaser misses a payment or two. You have to take a tough position in connection with your buyer. If one payment is missed, and you are lenient, you may end up having to foreclose because your buyer will get too far behind in payments to ever catch up.
Additionally, to secure the promissory note, the buyer will sign a deed of trust. This mortgage paper, when recorded among the Land Records in the jurisdiction where your house is located, puts a cloud on the title to the property. If your buyer is unable to make the payments on the note, you will have the opportunity to foreclose on that property. By recording the deed of trust on the Land Records, you put the world on notice that you have an interest in that real estate.
You have to select trustees whom you respect and have confidence in. You have the right to select any person of your choosing, and it can be a >
The deed of trust is an important legal document. It must be prepared carefully, and must reflect the true legal description of the property.
The original note, signed by the borrower, must be given to you at closing. Do not >
The deed of trust will be recorded in the office of the Land Records where your property is located. Make sure that your name and address is written clearly on the original deed of trust so that the Recorders office will be able to mail it back to you after recordation.
Here are some provisions which must be included in the papers which will be prepared:
The promissory note and deed of trust should contain a very tightly drawn due-on-sale clause. You may be prepared to lend this buyer money to purchase your house, but you do not necessarily want that loan to be assumed by a third purchaser later on. The general rule is that in the absence of a specific non-assumption clause in your note and deed of trust, the note and deed of trust are freely assumable.
The promissory note should require the borrower to provide you proof of payment of taxes and insurance at least once a year.
The promissory note and deed of trust should provide that in the event you have to take legal action to enforce the note, the borrower will be required to pay your reasonable attorneys fees.
Finally, make sure that someone visits the property periodically. If the property is rundown, its value may be diminishing, thereby impairing your security. If significant repairs are needed, you may want to insist that your borrower take care of these matters promptly. Most standard deeds of trust specifically require that the borrower maintain the property in decent condition.
If a bank can lend money and take a first deed of trust, you can also. But you must understand that there are risks. To minimize these risks, make sure that you are properly advised by your tax and legal counselors.
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What are you waiting for? Inherent in ownership of real estatea house, condominium unit, sec...
> Full Story
"The real estate industry is saddled with a large number of part-time, untrained, unethical,...
> Full Story
Ahhhhh...spring Thoughts of lovers turn to love and those of landscaper contractors turn to ...
> Full Story