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Category Archive: ‘Repairs/Improvements’

Buying a Crack House

Hat tip to Eddie89 for finding this article on remodeling:

It was a crumbling Parkdale rooming house, populated by drug users and squatters and available on the cheap. We were cash-strapped, desperate to move and hemmed in by a hot market. Five years, three contractors and $1.1 million later, our home renovation nightmare is finally over.

We realize that our story could’ve ended up much differently. We’ve learned a harsh lesson: there’s no way to shortcut a reno; they cost a lot, period. If we had just listened to the advice of realtors, architects, designers, tradespeople and many friends, we would have avoided considerable stress and, well, $100,000 in debt. We were the victims of a shoddy contractor and bad luck, but also of our own colossal ignorance and hubris.

Anyone thinking of doing their own home renovations should read full story:

Posted by on Jun 2, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Real Estate Investing, Remodel Projects, Repairs/Improvements | 3 comments

Do-It-Yourself YouTubes

The home-improvement videos on YouTube are causing more people to do their own repairs around the house – great! Personally, I like to stick to the minor fixes – let the pros help you with anything major.

(link to my recommended vendors).

Lowe’s is the most subscribed retailer on YouTube – this drywall repair video has over 668,000 views!

Posted by on Jan 12, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Remodel Projects, Repairs/Improvements | 2 comments

Home Maintenance


Another rule-of-thumb on how much to spend on your house:

Maintaining a home, especially an older one, can be expensive—in fact, experts say homeowners should be prepared to spend roughly 1 percent of their home’s value every year on maintenance.

The good news is, you can save on maintenance by completing simple tasks yourself. According to the experts at Underwriters, Inc. these include:

  • Cleaning the Gutters – To prevent costly damage to your home’s foundation, landscaping and siding, remove debris and leaves from the gutters at least twice a year. Don’t forget gloves and eye protection!
  • Open Garage Doors Manually – Don’t call a garage technician the next time your power’s out—simply locate the (usually red) cord, suspended from the ceiling-mounted operator, in your garage, and pull it to disconnect the cord from the motor.
  • Removing Stripped Screws – Avoid causing more damage when screws slip from a screwdriver. Place a rubber band or piece of steel wool over the screw and then try to remove it—if that method fails, use a screw extractor.
  • Repairing a Leaky Faucet – Leaks can cost hundreds in wasted water. Before you call a plumber, try DIY-ing by shutting off the main water supply, removing the faucet’s knobs, and checking the washers, stems and O-rings for signs of damage. Take these pieces to the hardware store to find exact replacements.
  • Stop a Running Toilet – Another plumber job you can do yourself! Remove the lid to the tank behind the toilet, and check the flush lever, rubber flapper, lift chain, float ball, pump and overflow tube. A running toilet usually requires just a simple adjustment or replacement to fix.

If you can master these essential homeowner skills, you’ll not only save money on maintenance, but also the expense of more costly fixes in the future.

Posted by on Sep 14, 2016 in Jim's Take on the Market, Repairs/Improvements, Tips, Advice & Links | 1 comment

Home Maintenance Costs


Back in 2009, we ran the first post entitled, Home Maintenance Costs:

After discussing the need for home maintenance with several clients  recently, I thought it would be a great time to review.

Every condo association in California is required to complete a Reserve Study so they are socking away enough money every month to repair and replace every item needed over time.  Homeowners should do the same!

Examples of things that need regular repair/replacement:  Air conditioning, appliances, BBQ, ducting, faucets, flooring, furnace, lighting, painting, roof, siding, sinks, toilets, windows, etc.

These are pure home repairs and replacements – they don’t include exterior maintenance or home improvements/upgrades/updating, which all matter too.

I came up with my own formula to estimate how much money homeowners should spend each year just on maintenance – try it out:

Age of home X square footage/15 = Annual spend

The 15 was derived from a reasonable number of years it will take to catch up on everything if you start today.  You may want to re-start again in year 16!

My formula is unscientific, but it is close enough.  Spend something!

Doing regular repairs will help you avoid multiple major expenses, and save you from needing a complete redo when it comes time to sell.

The joys of homeownership!

Posted by on Aug 9, 2016 in Jim's Take on the Market, Remodel Projects, Repairs/Improvements, Thinking of Buying?, Tips, Advice & Links | 0 comments

Solar-Panel Lease


We got the lowdown on the HERO program; here is more on solar leases:

An excerpt:

Net metering is an agreement between the utility company and the residential or commercial customer. The property owner who generates excess solar energy can sell it back to the utility company for credit to be used later. Solar panels often produce more energy than the home needs during the sunny months. In the winter when cloud cover obscures more of the panels, owners’ net metering credits can be used to pay down their winter utility bills.

When net metering is not an option, property owners are less likely to be interested in buying or leasing a solar system, as this instinctual savings incentive is lost.

The good news for solar in California: net metering continues, and SolarCity is optimistic about potential for even more tax credit growth in the state.

Going solar requires long-term planning. On average, it takes a homeowner 20 years to pay off the full cost of a solar system. Leasing solar panels eliminates the investment, but it still requires a similar, lengthy commitment.

What happens if the homeowner sells before the 20 years are up? There are three options:

  1. The seller may transfer the solar lease to their new home if it is in the same territory, for a cost.
  2. The seller may purchase the solar panels outright and include the cost in the home’s sale price, if they find a willing buyer.
  3. The buyer may assume the solar lease.

Since the solar lease is a contract, interested homeowners may be concerned that signing a solar lease will place a lien on the property. However, the lien is on the solar fixture — not the property. Therefore, if the homeowner stops paying for solar service, the leasing company’s sole recourse is to reclaim the solar system, not foreclose on the property.

On the other hand, taking out a mortgage to pay for the purchase of a solar system does create an additional lien on the property.

Another reason long-term planning is necessary before signing a solar agreement is the possibility of roof maintenance. That is, if the homeowner’s roof needs repairing, they will need to pay to have the panels moved before work can begin on the roof. Therefore, installing panels on a roof that will need maintenance in a few years is not wise.

However, the long-term investment does pay off, though it can take several years. The energy savings can be significant, especially for Southern California homeowners who receive the most sun. The average solar lease savings after the cost of renting the solar panels is a 15% reduction on monthly utility costs. Purchasing solar panels may provide bigger savings, but they won’t be realized until the system is paid off.

Read more about the details of solar leases here.

Read about prepaid solar leases here.

For a critical list of issues homeowners are to consider before signing a solar lease, click here.

Posted by on Mar 16, 2016 in Jim's Take on the Market, Repairs/Improvements | 2 comments