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Archive for the ‘Home Improvement’ Category

4/20/10

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010




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We made an offer on our first house!!!

-By your Staff Writer for the Property Network, Matt Giles

And than we pulled the offer the next day. We have been looking for a while now trying to find a nice compromise of the fixer upper I want and the condo living she would like. We found a nice 3 bedroom starter home that would require some work but wasn’t over whelming with the amount of work it would need.

The only down side of this house was there wasn’t much of a buffer zone. If you don’t know what a buffer zone is, it’s how close you live to your family. In this case it was close to her family. I love her family to death, but there are one or two uncles and aunts who would love to just drop by un-announced every chance they got. But that is not why we pulled our offer.

When we first went to see the house, it was me, my girl, her mother, and of course the only realtor you could every want to use (wink, wink).  We walked through the house and I did not notice anything major going on as far as needs to fix up. In the description they said it was a newer roof, which I think either they lied or they did not vent the roof properly because of the bubbling of the shingles.

Roof doesn’t scare me, I could handle that. They never tiled the kitchen and again it may be killer on my knees but still I can handle it. Of course we would have to paint every room and my girl would want to change out the counter top because it is an ugly blue that matches nothing in the kitchen. All things I was fine with.

So we decided to make the offer. We went and signed what felt like a thousand copies of everything. My hand started cramping up but it’s all part of the process (so I am told).

The next day I wanted to have my brother who is in construction, her brother who is in construction, my dad who is in construction and her brother’s business partner (guess what he does???? Yup construction) come and look at the house.

With all of us walking through the kitchen at one time we started to notice a bit of a bounce in the floor. It almost felt like we were on a boat with the bounce and sway of the floor. This drew a lot of suspicion, so we ventured downstairs to the basement.

What we found was old framing, which I was fine with. But what did bother me was the columns they used to support the house were the temporary columns you use until you get the cement filled lally columns, they never got the lally columns and cemented the temporary columns into the floor. Than as we looked down the floor joist they were all rolling away from the house. That is why there was such a bounce in the floor with the more weight in kitchen.

The reason they never tiled the floor was because with that kind of bounce in the floor the tiles could pop up and break. What was supposed to be a non-fixer upper was going to need some major work to get the structure sound. Nothing was going to be a quick fix and because it was an old house a lot of headaches.

So I called my girl and she gave permission to pull the offer. So now we are back to the drawing board and looking for our first home. The process is not fun, but I am sure well worth it in the end.

-Matt Giles, Staff Writer for the Property Network, Freelance writer for hire. For more info visit www.mdgcopywriting.com



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Flip That House!

Sunday, March 14th, 2010




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Flip That House!

-By your Staff Writer for the Property Network, Matt Giles

If you can afford to buy, renovate and sell a house right now, good for you! You are doing way better than most people. Flipping houses is a great way to make money and with this economy, now is the time to buy.

The ideal situation is to buy now, fix it up and rent until the real estate market comes back into full swing, then sell. Even if you buy now and sell it is worth it. But just remember the market is what it is right now, so don’t expect to be making a fortune on flips, unless you buy something really low and sink some money into it and sell for a moderate price.

Now, if I were you and could flip houses the first thing I would do is make buddy-buddy with a real estate agent (I would suggest Nicole Borsey, she is the only real estate agent I would trust with a project like this). Real estate agents get the listings first and by making friends with one or two can help get you the inside tip to a great buy. Plus they are always full of great suggestions to get the most bang for your buck on renovations.

Foreclosures and bank owned properties are a great place to start. Banks just want enough money so it is not a loss for them. So if the house is worth $300,000 but the bank only needs a $150,000 to cover the rest of the mortgage, you can probably get the house for around a $150k. This is sweet because it already puts you a head of the game when it comes time to resell.

Know your numbers. What you can afford to put into the house and what you will get out of the house. Go over the numbers with your contractor and than go over them again. Don’t go over. Stick to the numbers.

Once you find your property and get your mortgage, you have to really look at what is worth fixing in the house. Is it going to be a good return on investment??? Kitchens and bathrooms are usually the money makers. You give a kitchen a make over and it is usually instant relief when someone walks into the house.

*****Remember if you open up the walls, whatever you find behind the sheetrock has to be brought up to code if it is below code standards. So opening up the walls can be a gamble, if you find that you need to up date all the electric and plumbing the price of poker just went up.******

Finding a contractor you can trust is worth it’s weight in gold. Some contractors are willing to work with you if they know they are getting more work on the next house. Having a contractor who is consistent, uses good sub contractors and can get the work done quick, clean, and at a good price is key to flipping houses.

If you are going to do the work yourself on nights and weekends, flipping a house is not a quick process. There are advantages to doing it yourself if you are capable of doing the work. If you are not…by all means don’t be ashamed to hire someone. I have friends that think they are more “handy” than they really are around the house. They cause more damage and make the job cost twice as much if they hired someone. Figure out what your time is worth and where you make more money, being a contractor or doing whatever it is you do everyday. More than likely you will make more money at your job rather than the contactors.

Finally, don’t pull a Richard Gere in Pretty Woman, DON’T FALL IN  LOVE! It’s a flip. You come in, do the work and get out. No need to get emotionally involved in the house. The house knows what you are using it for; it’s why you paid for it in the first place. You wanted something quick. It’s nothing personal, it’s a business deal. You are in it to make money, remember that.

-Matt Giles, Staff Writer for the Property Network, Freelance writer for hire. For more info visit www.mdgcopywriting.com



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"I wasn't expecting that"

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010




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3/1/10

“I wasn’t expecting that.”

-By your Staff Writer for the Property Network, Matt Giles

That what the homeowner said to my old boss when we told her we had to rip out her living room ceiling. We were hired to do an addition, kitchen and one bathroom renovation. Now we had to rip out her living room ceiling.

She was not happy at all about that. She called her husband in a panic. The reason we had to rip out the ceiling is because our electrician was chasing down old wires from other places in the house we demoed and was finding live wires behind the sheetrock.

Apparently the previous owner thought he was an electrician and decided to run wires all over the house incase he ever needed them there. The only thing was, the wires were tied into the electrical panel and were live. And live buried wires could leave you dead! That’s how fires start.

It would have been one thing if they were properly capped off with a wire nut in side an electrical box (even though by code you are not supposed to cover up an electrical box with out access to it). Nope this clown ran these wires and just taped off the ends and left them free floating in the ceiling.

So even after we explained everything to the homeowner she still needed to call her husband before we did anything. I understand that, it’s more work. My boss was a nice guy and told her that he would cover the labor if she paid for the sheetrock.  It was the safety of her family and technically by code she had too, but she made the right decision and said yes.

The point I am trying to make, is that with any renovation to your house, there could be surprises. You never know what you will get when you start opening up walls. By law if a contractor opens up your walls and finds violations of any kind they have to fix them.

So you might be wondering what they could possible find….Well if you have an old house you could find old cloth wires that fall apart to the touch. If you had any kind of major leaks over time (or the previous owners had the leaks), you could find rot in your framing that has to be fixed. Plumbing surprises are always fun! But don’t freak out, just plan ahead for them. In the trades they are called “extras” and they almost always happen on any job. You are not alone.  If you luck out your contractor may work with you on some of the cost. Maybe not, but either way the work has to be done.

-Matt Giles, Staff Writer for the Property Network, Freelance writer for hire. For more info visit www.mdgcopywriting.com



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Cheap Meat

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010




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3/1/10

Cheap meat isn’t good and good meant isn’t cheap!

-By your Staff Writer for the Property Network, Matt Giles

That is almost the number one rule when hiring a contractor. You get what you pay for. If someone can do the job for $5,000 less than the other guy, more than likely he is cutting corners somewhere which could lead to a nightmare for you.

I was at an old friends mom’s house years ago and she had a sun room put on to the back of the house way before I was ever there. I was walking around and noticing that the room looked like it was sinking into the ground. She told me that was because the contractor never dug the footings to the required 3 feet deep, her sun room was slowly sinking. And because it took a few years to settle, it is going to be a major nightmare to fix that problem. Just to save a few hours and labor on digging holes and pouring cement she has a room that is sinking into the ground.

Don’t get me wrong, just because the contractor’s bill is the highest doesn’t mean he is the best. You should start your search by talking to people you know. If someone you trust is giving you a name of a good contractor, it’s a place to start (I would go over to your friend’s house and check out his work before picking up the phone).  Start with family and friends, than work your way down to a trusted realtor or neighbor.

Once you start talking to a contractor you are allowed to ask as many questions as you would like. In fact ask for a resume! I’m serious, ask for pictures, past client’s testimonials and than take it one step further and ask to talk to some previous clients. Most previous clients don’t mind taking that call after a major renovation to brag about their house and talk up their contractor.

Now, I know once you get a few bids from a few contractors you usually get sticker shock from the price. That causes a lot of people to wait or put the job on hold for a few months sometimes even a year. One thing to remember is that contractors who do any kind of major renovations set up their projects months in advance. The other thing to keep in mind is lumber yards and supply houses prices. They fluctuate with the price of gasoline (from their deliveries) and any other reason to raise the price. So the price of your materials can jump up in a month depending on the market.

Hiring a contractor for something like an addition can be very scary. You are trusting someone with thousands of your hard earned dollars, letting them into your home. They are usually there before breakfast and leave just before dinner, you tend to build a relationship with a contractor and that is why it is always good to find one you click with. We have all heard the contractor nightmares, so when you do find a good one, they are usually worth their weight in gold.

-Matt Giles, Staff Writer for the Property Network, Freelance writer for hire. For more info visit www.mdgcopywriting.com



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