Remodeling Your Home – Here’s What You Need To Know
Guest Contribution by: Karl Kennedy
Author of ProjectorTop.com
Whether it’s your outdated kitchen or a guest bathroom you’re embarrassed to share, there comes a point when you start thinking about remodeling your home.
There’s no shortage of ideas online or from the numerous home improvement and remodeling shows. Before you grab a sledgehammer and start knocking down walls, there are a few things you need to know about remodeling a home. When you have all of the information, your home remodeling project will run smoothly, and you can avoid the most common pitfalls.
What is Your Return on the Investment
Remodeling your home can increase its resale value but you want to do some research. The potential return on investment (ROI) depends on the project. Some remodeling projects have a higher ROI than others.
For example, remodeling a spare bedroom or home office into a dedicated media space for your laser projector may be perfect for your family but not for potential buyers. The number of bath and bedrooms makes up a large part of the home’s value, while a media room is a luxury not everyone wants or needs.
If ROI is important, choose remodeling projects with a mid-range price that require minimal upkeep. Updating a kitchen with new flooring, countertops, and appliances is one way you can increase the home’s value while also getting an upgrade.
Get the Right Permits
Every remodeling project is different. Some require building permits, and you don’t want to start a project without the proper paperwork. The fines can be expensive, sometimes wiping out your remodeling budget. Every city has different building codes, so check with your local engineering department to find out which permits are necessary.
Some California neighborhoods come with homeowner associations (HOAs). Any exterior remodeling requires permission from the HOA. It’s also a good idea to let the neighborhood association know if you are planning on having work trucks on the property for an extended period.
Don’t Use All of Your Budget on the Remodel
Remodeling projects rarely go exactly as planned. There always seems to be at least a little hiccup in the plans.
Whether it’s a small problem or a larger one, you can handle it if you leave room in the remodeling budget. If your budget is around $20,000, set aside $3,000 or $4,000 to cover any unseen problems.
It will keep the project running smoothly, and you stay on budget.
Get Quotes from Several Contractors
You don’t want to go with the first contractor you interview. You may not be getting the best price. Interviewing more than one contractor allows you to get the best price for your project. It also gives you the chance to find an experienced contractor.
Another reason to talk to multiple project managers is personality. The contractor will be on your property for months, so it helps if your personalities are compatible.
Have a Contract
It doesn’t matter if you know the contractor, get everything in writing. If something goes wrong during the remodel, you will need the documents for legal recourse. The contract should include the project’s starting and ending date, along with detailed remodeling plans. Labor and materials costs are also included in the contract.
Remodeling your home, whether it’s adding an extension or updating an existing space, is exciting and stressful. Finding a contractor you trust, getting everything in writing, and leaving some wiggle room in your budget are a few ways you can minimize stress and start looking forwards to living in your newly remodeled home.
Guest contribution by: Victoria Standridge
A homeowner’s association can provide a lot of support and a variety of benefits. But there will be certain things any prospective homeowner should look out for. If you are considering submitting an offer on a home that belongs to a homeowner’s association, you will want to do your due diligence to make sure the association provides the kind of amenities, services, security, and benefits you are looking for.
A little research beforehand can help you to make sure that the costs align with your intended monthly budget before you submit your bid. And of course, you will want to make absolutely sure you understand just what kind of things your homeowners’ association can provide for you- and what will be expected of you in return.
Let’s take a look at some key homeowners’ association considerations to understand before submitting a home offer today.
Useful FacilitiesThe whole point of belonging to a homeowners’ association is that you can benefit from shared facilities and amenities that should contribute positively to your lifestyle. So, make sure you look into exactly which amenities are on offer with the HOA you are considering.
What is the security operation like for your HOA neighborhood? Are there round the clock, 24/7 security guards helping to protect the community? Or state of the art security cameras? Security, privacy, and protection should all be addressed in the facilities that your HOA does or does not provide.
Then there is the shared life of the community, and entertainment. Does the community come with a swimming pool? Are there sports facilities, like tennis courts or a gym? Some HOA’s include private instruction in everything from aerobics to crafts, while others take a more hands off approach.
If you have a family, look into what kinds of amenities are available for your kids. Is there a kids’ clubhouse with a TV? Sports classes, after school tutoring, and other kid-friendly activities? Movie screenings among the community? Look for signs that there is a thriving and active social life in the community before you submit your home offer there.
Affordable Dues, Updated ServicesThe amount you will spend each month on membership contributions to the HOA will vary depending on the neighborhood. Before you sign any contracts, you may want to investigate whether the HOA you are looking into is worth the cost- and why they are charging what they are. Membership dues should be reasonably priced compared to the services on offer. So, if your dues are extremely high, but the building is old and falling apart, with clear signs of neglect, then you will know to be on alert. Something in that situation isn’t right.
Make sure that the shared utilities and facilities are in good condition. For a more upscale HOA, the shared costs should be put towards updating and maintaining security systems, local community Wi-fi speeds, and any other shared utilities or amenities that could do with an upgrade from time to time. Take a look at the budget and spending habits of the HOA as a group, to help you decide whether you are generally on board with the kinds of policies enacted there.
Equally, ask to look at the roster for membership dues. If a lot of members are consistently behind on their payments, it could indicate a deeper underlying problem in the community. It might be that there is some issue in communication with the various tenants involved. Since members of the community will be responsible for looking after the maintenance of shared spaces and shared utilities, you will want to join an HOA where communication is clear and thorough.
Investigate Member SatisfactionYou may not always get the clearest or truest picture of the character of any given HOA if you are being shown around by an agent or appointed representative. To try to ascertain whether or not current members are really satisfied with their association, request to view a copy of the recorded minutes from HOA meetings. Are there a lot of conflicts that arise? Does one person dominate every conversation, preventing anyone else from participating? How are conflicts between tenants, or tenants and landlords, settled during the meetings?
Reading through previous member interactions can provide a more in-depth picture of what it will be like to belong to this particular HOA. And it can help you root out any potential issues that may be hiding under the surface.
Keep in mind that membership in a HOA may determine certain factors about your own home, such as what color you can paint your home’s exterior, or how much active engagement with the community is expected of you. If members are registering complaints or engaging in debates over points spelled out in the initial contract, it may simply mean that they have either forgotten the specifications of what they signed originally, or that they did not bother to look. Talk to people in the area to try to get a more nuanced feel for what participation in the HOA is like.
Final ThoughtsThe bottom line is, before you submit an offer on a home connected to a homeowners’ association, do your research. Ask to see the HOA documents so you can investigate for yourself whether or not living there and becoming a member of that particular HOA will be right for your needs. Take a magnifying glass and comb through the fine print so you are informed and aware of just what you are signing up for. If it turns out that that HOA has some policies, rules, or fees that don’t work for you, move on. But it could just be that the one you are looking at is the right fit after all. In that case, you can submit your home offer with confidence.
Image via Pexels
Your Step-By-Step Guide to Moving to CaliforniaThere are so many reasons to love California, but whether you’re moving for a job or are a current resident moving to a new area within the state, it’s important to do your research ahead of your move. Below, find out everything you need to do before, during and after the transition to eliminate stress and settle in, courtesy of Bryan Lincoln Real Estate.
Researching and Planning Ahead
Moving across the country or even across the state can be a huge undertaking. It’s a lot more work than making a local move, so give yourself extra time for these steps.
Preparing for a Stress-Free Move
Spend some time planning out your move so it goes smoothly.
Unpacking and Settling In
Unpacking and arranging your new home is often just as much work as packing everything up.
Cover Business Basics
If you’re a small business owner, entrepreneur or even freelancer, there are a few things you should consider doing so your business is ready to roll in your new location.
Moving to California is sure to be an exciting time, but like any other move, you’ll also have to deal with some stress along the way. You can make the experience go more smoothly by doing ample research and planning ahead. Once your moving boxes are all off the truck, having a plan for unpacking and transferring services will help you get settled more quickly.
Image via Unsplash
If you’re a parent of a child on the autism spectrum, you likely know firsthand some of the challenges that come with playtime. Whether it’s with you or other children, your child may struggle to play with others due to a loss of interest in directives or because they engage in repetitive, isolating acts of play.
Nonetheless, playtime is critical in teaching children on the spectrum essential developmental skills. And when they play outside, they get the added benefits of nature. So, if you’re wanting to make your backyard a safe, accessible play zone for your child on the autism spectrum, we’ve provided you with some helpful information.
Softscaping and Hardscaping
Nothing is more important than safety when it comes to customizing your backyard to accommodate your child’s needs. By incorporating living and nonliving elements, you can make your backyard safer than ever.
Along with changing your yard’s landscaping, be sure to look into various sensory activities for your child to enjoy outside.
A Place for Retreating
Along with play, your child on the spectrum may need a place where they can escape overstimulation and enjoy solitude from time to time.
All children need outdoor play, but it comes with special benefits for those on the autism spectrum. Utilize softscaping and hardscaping to increase the safety of your backyard, and think of any activities that will engage your child’s senses. Finally, brainstorm ideas for creating a backyard retreat for your child when they need to get away from overstimulation.
Thinking of purchasing a new home? Partner with the skilled and dedicated real estate professionals at Bryan Lincoln Real Estate! 916.469.9540
StorageUnits.com is an up-and-coming startup that aims to help people all over the United States find the best, most convenient storage options in their communities. Our website is designed to allow consumers to quickly find and compare storage unit companies that meet their needs, whether they are looking for traditional self-storage or a full-service storage and moving solution.
Our goal is to help you skip the hours of research and numerous phone calls, so we do the hard work for you. The result is a curated list of storage companies nearby that you can trust, and short summaries of our research that help you quickly determine whether a company meets your needs and is worth your time to follow up with.
Best Self Storage Units in Sacramento, CA
In order to pick the top 20 storage units companies in Sacramento, we looked at all 180 facilities in the area, including an in-depth review of each company’s amenities, features, and customer reviews. You can read more about it here: https://www.storageunits.com/sacramento-ca-self-storage/
Image courtesy of Pexels
So you’re thinking of diving into real estate investments! Let’s look at how you can set yourself up for success, right from the beginning.
Look for a Great Location
You’re probably familiar with the old saying about location being the key to success in real estate, and it’s especially true in the investment property market. In fact, per Fortune Builders, it’s one of four key factors that make or break a rental property. The other three are vacancies and listings, the local economy, and projected development in the area. Ultimately, those three concerns reflect directly on the location, so look hard at how those aspects come together in the area you’re considering.
Choose a Property With Potential
Beyond the general area, you should examine the individual property and what it offers prospective renters. There are certain things renters often look for in properties, like space, pet-friendliness, and aesthetics. Being able to offer storage is a boon, they will look at the available parking, and security is also a factor.
Some things you can enhance, like aesthetics, while others you’ll be stuck with, like space, so think carefully about your decision. For example, you can easily replace impractical or tired carpet with a hot flooring like hardwood, which is sure to catch the attention of renters. On the other hand, you may or may not be able to expand parking options, like with a wider driveway.
Be Sure to Budget Carefully
Be sure to budget for any changes you intend to make, including the materials involved and how extensive your changes would be. For example, driveway expansion will depend in part on the surface and size of the project. An asphalt driveway will typically run $2.50 to $4.00 per square foot, while concrete costs $4.00 to $6.00 per square foot.
Along those same lines, a low-cost wood floor like pine or bamboo will run an average of $2,400 for installation. Installing a more luxurious wood, like walnut, typically will run considerably more.
If you’re planning to rent your home to vacationers, you’ll need to budget for amenities like a hot tub, HD television, a home security system, and quality linens. One thing you definitely don’t want to skimp on is Wi-Fi service. Renters will expect access to speedy and reliable internet service; some of the latest 5G options offer almost unnoticeable lag time and can handle any device.
Bear in mind that there is more to effective budgeting than the initial property purchase price and upgrades as well. While there are loans to help you make renovations to your investment property, keep in mind that the longer you go without being able to rent it, the longer you go without income from the property.
Renters and Running Things
Once you go through all the trouble of selecting a great location and upgrading a property, the last thing you want to do is have bad renters. Bad renters can come in a lot of shapes and styles, from those who don’t pay to those who harm your property. For those with long-term residential properties, there are screening services to help you weed out the potential bad actors, and Nolo points out a short-term rental can be listed with a hosting service that screens renters on your behalf.
For those who don’t want to mess with all that, another option is to hire a property manager to cover the day-by-day dealings. Beyond handling renters, they also can take on the rest of your management concerns, like upkeep, cleaning, and marketing. If you want your property to truly be passive income, this arrangement is your best bet.
Investing in property is a smart way to go. Decide where you want your venture to be, the particulars of what you’ll offer, and how you’ll run things. Starting out on the right foot is easy if you follow these strategies carefully!
Guest Submission From: Katie Conroy
Personal loans are a useful source of financing for many borrowers. Interest rates tend to be well below what you’d pay using a credit card. They’re usually unsecured, unlike mortgage loans that put your property on the line. And you can use personal loans for nearly anything you want.
However, personal loans can come with unexpected fees. And some lenders charge more than others. This guide explains some of the common fees to watch out for when applying for a personal loan and comparing lenders.
Loan origination fees
Loan origination fees are likely the most common type of fee. You’ll pay this fee upfront when you borrow.
What is an origination fee?
A loan origination fee is charged when you first take out a loan. Its purpose is to cover the costs that lenders face to underwrite and process the loan.
An origination fee is usually charged as a percentage of the loan amount. They can vary from around 1% of the borrowed amount to 10%, depending upon the lender. The fee is usually subtracted from the loan: If you borrow $10,000 and pay a 1% origination fee, you’ll receive $9,900 in funds.
Loan application fees
Application fees are also paid upfront but are much rarer than origination fees. Lenders charge them to cover the costs of processing an application submitted for a loan, and they vary by lender, loan type, and amount borrowed.
If a lender you’re considering charges an application fee, you can easily find an alternative that doesn’t.
Late payment fees
Late payment penalties aren’t charged when you obtain a loan, but rather if you make a monthly payment after it’s due. These fees are intended to deter late payments and cover any costs a lender incurs to collect the payment.
Some lenders charge a flat rate while others charge a fee equal to a percentage of the late payment. Flat rates on loans we’ve reviewed tend to be between $10 and $40, but could be as high as a $100. A percentage-based fee is usually 5%.
Prepayment penalties are sometimes charged if you want to pay off a personal loan ahead of schedule. Not all lenders charge them, but those that do aim to recoup some of the interest they expected to obtain throughout the life of the loan.
A prepayment penalty is generally based on how long you have had your loan and your outstanding loan balance. If you have just a short time left in the repayment term, your prepayment penalty will be smaller.
While not common, some lenders charge annual fees during the time you have a loan. These are intended to cover costs associated with servicing a loan, such as collecting and processing payments. Personal loan annual fees are usually less than $100.
See the full guide here: Common Personal Loan Fees & Charges
Article submitted by Andy Kearns, LendedU.com
Downsizing is one of the most emotionally challenging moments in seniors face. In time, however, it can also be one of the most liberating. The anxiety seniors feel over downsizing isn’t just the purging of belongings or moving to a new place; it’s also stressful to decide what to do with your current home—a place where you may have made many cherished memories.
Considering downsizing after retirement but not sure what to do with your home? You may feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to start. Here are three ideas you can explore to help make your decisions a little easier.
Get a Lump Sum: Sell Your Home
Many seniors choose to sell their home to pay for a smaller house or an apartment in an independent living facility. The first thing you need to do is research what your current home could fetch on the housing market. Research the average sticker price for homes in your area of similar size and features. You may find out that with a few simple upgrades, you can increase the resale value of your home substantially.
With a lump sum from a home sale, you can put a downpayment on your next residence or, even better, buy it in cash outright. Since many seniors have often paid off their mortgages, you can even plan to purchase a new place that is far less expensive so you have some extra cash to cushion your retirement fund.
Earn Monthly Income: Rent Your Home
Seniors who downsize into a smaller residence can earn regular income by renting out their old home. This can be especially helpful for seniors living on a fixed income during retirement. The additional monthly cash flow, especially if your mortgage is already paid off, can help fund post-retirement fun like travel. Just remember you have to foot the bill on any big fixes your tenants require. And you may suffer financially if your home lies vacant for a few months or a tenant doesn’t pay you rent.
Many seniors have embraced the role of technology when it comes to renting their homes. Turn your home into a vacation rental by listing it on Airbnb, Turnkey, or VRBO. You can rent your home for both short-term and long-term guests. Either way, you can also hire a property manager to do the heavy lifting for you, so you can just sit back and earn income. When looking for a management company, find one that provides tenant screening, seamless booking, cleaning services for new guests, and all-hours local support.
Protect Your Investment: Keep Your Home in the Family
Letting a loved one move into your home after you downsize has several benefits. You can keep your home in your financial portfolio, protecting the investment you have spent decades to build. It’s a way to let your loved ones enjoy their inheritance before you pass on. It also helps to know your home is being cared for by people who are not strangers. Your family member can manage the upkeep of your home, make upgrades, keep the lawn tidy, and oversee remodeling projects.
However, one of the biggest benefits isn’t financial; it’s emotional. With your house still in the family, you can return whenever you feel the need. Whether it’s to celebrate a holiday or for a family dinner, you don’t have to say quick goodbyes to the place that has provided the foundation to many of your life’s memories.
Deciding what to do with your home after downsizing isn’t a process that should be rushed, but sometimes you don’t get a choice. If you can’t take your time to think through all the options, try to focus on the decision that sets you up for financial success. You friends and family can be your support as the other pieces fall into place.
Article contributed by: Jim Vogel
Maybe there’s been a recent uptick in home invasions in your neighborhood, or you just moved into a new home. In any case, it’s time to think about safety and home security.
The first thing to consider is your home itself, since its size, type, and location will all determine what’s needed (and what’s actually possible). Some apartment complexes or condos will have strict rules about drilling into exterior walls, renters will likely have to follow their landlord’s specifications, and a two-story home will need different equipment than a 12th story studio, to name just a few examples. However, once you’ve figured out which security system is best for your needs, there are a few other considerations to look into.
How to Finally Conquer Your Home’s Clutter Without Hiring a Pro
Are you fighting a never-ending battle against mess and clutter? Maybe you’re thinking about hiring a professional organizer to transform your messy house into a clean slate but are turned off by the cost. An expert organizer is sure to get your home looking fantastic, but that’s not the only way to achieve a clutter-free home. If you’re the hands-on type or on a strict budget, you can achieve professional-quality results with DIY decluttering and organizing.
3 Keys to Effective Decluttering1. Work in zonesDon’t jump from the kitchen cabinets to the bedroom closets, or your decluttering efforts will be just as disorganized as your home. Instead, focus on one type of item or one room at a time. It will be easier to assess what you own and choose the best way to organize.
2. Skip the maybe pileDo your decluttering projects usually end with a “maybe” pile that’s twice as big as the pile of stuff you’re getting rid of? If you want a clutter-free home, you need to be decisive about what stays and what goes. If you haven’t used an item in years or didn’t remember owning it until pulling it out of a box, then it needs to go.
3. Keep only what you loveThere’s usually a good reason things become clutter. Sometimes, we never needed it in the first place. Other times, there’s something about an object’s design that stops us from loving it. If you’re keeping items that aren’t quite right, replace them with versions you like enough to use.
Step-by-Step DeclutteringClean as you goBefore you start decluttering, plan for clean-up. This may be the only chance you get to clean out-of-the-way space before your next big cleaning project. You could clean as you go, but if you’d rather speed things up, hire a cleaning service to deep clean each room while you focus on the organizing. Most cleaning services in Sacramento charge between $121 and $403, so you could still be saving over the cost of a professional organizer.
Eliminate kitchen duplicatesAre you holding onto more dish towels than you could ever use, three sets of measuring spoons, and scratched-up skillets you’ve relegated to the back of the cupboard? Kitchen clutter makes cooking and clean-up harder and constrains space in the room we need it most. Eliminate duplicate kitchen items and reorganize so your kitchen has everything you need in easy reach and nothing you don’t.
Simplify your wardrobeIf you have lots of clothes and nothing to wear, the problem isn’t too little clothing — it’s too much. When you can’t see what you have, you reach for the same old outfits out of habit. Pick out the items you wear most, then choose complementary pieces to keep. If it doesn’t suit your style, is tattered, or doesn’t fit, recycle or donate it.
Downsize the toy collectionToss or recycle toys that are broken, missing pieces, or are rarely used, then organize the remaining toys into a system that’s age appropriate for your children. Labeled storage bins (these can be purchased for less than $12) are great for toddlers and elementary schoolers. For older kids’ gadgets, try these electronics organization ideas. If you know your kids will protest and argue why they need to keep the Barbie with dog-chewed legs, you may want to do this project in secret.
Organize the garageIs your garage full of clutter while you park on the street? Reclaim your parking space by donating or throwing away old paints, fertilizers, and other chemicals through your city’s hazardous waste disposal. Long-forgotten recreational equipment and duplicate yard tools are also great candidates for donation or sale. After reducing garage clutter to the essentials, add wall and overhead storage to keep the floor clear.
Put the rest in storageYou may decide to hold onto some items, like family heirlooms, that you regularly don’t use but aren’t ready to part with. If that’s the case, don’t try to cram them into your garage, attic, or basement. Store your items elsewhere by looking for deals at a storage facility nearby. Storage units in Sacramento can fluctuate in cost depending on the month—particularly in September and February, when prices are at their highest and lowest, respectively. You can expect to find that costs vary by about $23.44 each month.
Most people want to live in a clean, organized home. Unfortunately, when you’re surrounded by clutter, it’s hard to know where to start. Rather than letting decluttering anxiety stop you before you start, tackle the mess step-by-step and watch your home transform before your eyes.
Image via Rawpixel