Friday, December 27, 2013

Splurge on Your Next Home Remodel

splurge on your next home remodel

Sometimes you just want to add something to your home because it makes you feel good. Not all remodeling has to be practical or necessary but should provide some added value. Here are a few suggestions for luxury or upgraded splurges that will make your life better and maybe interest future buyers.
  1. A Whole-House or Central Vacuum System. This is a vacuum system built-into the home with ports in each room. You would plug about a 25-ft hose into these ports with attachments to vacuum. Collection bins for these systems are usually located in a garage or basement. Benefit to homeowner: No need to drag a vacuum from room to room or up and down the stairs. Also, a central vacuum system has more power than a portable one and they suction the pickup away from the immediate user which might be great for people with allergies. High tech versions even roll the hose up into the wall. Make sure to have one port for every 500 sq. ft. Cost: around $1500 to $2500 to retrofit your home. Add another $500 for retractable hosing.
  2. A Steam Shower. This is a specially built sealed shower which has a steam generator that turns your shower into a convenient steam room. You can buy a prefab fiberglass unit or build it from scratch. Benefit to homeowner: This luxury is a bit more expensive but health benefits are great. Using steam rooms opens your sinuses, relaxes and soothes your muscles and cleans out your pores. To install a steam shower is a major project which includes wiring, vapor-proofing, door installation and maybe even two exhaust fans. Having a sloped ceiling inside the steam shower will help with condensation run off. Cost: fiberglass units $1000 to $5000. A built-in framed unit plus generator around $7000 to $10000.
  3. A Towel Warming Drawer. This is a heated, stainless steel drawer unit that inserts into your bathroom cabinetry and uses a regular outlet to warm your towels. Benefits to homeowner: do we even have to say how nice it is to wrap up in a warm towel after you take a bath or shower? However, your towels will take some time to heat up, so plan ahead. Cost: around $1700 to $3500.
  4. Heated Bathroom Floors. These are thin electric radiant mats that install under tile and are controlled by a thermostat. Benefit to homeowner: No more cold bathroom floors. Some systems have timers that you can set to auto warm the floor just before you get up in the morning. Heated floors can help curb mold growth in humid areas. Cost: around $16 sq. ft. for installation and material. Does not include the cost of tile for GFCI circuit.

So these are just a few suggestions of some personal splurges you can do to your home that will benefit you in health and well-being and remember what you might like a potential future buyer might also like.

Today I bring you a lovely picture of Falls Park from a different angle. We are on the lower side of the falls with the walk over bridge over head. You can see the banks near the river are well used here. And the water reaches it calm stage as it flows through the park.

falls park greenville sc

If you need assistance with selling or buying a home I can help. Referrals and people needing relocation assistance are welcome! Search Single Family homes in Greenville. Search Condos and Townhomes in Greenville.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Organize those leftovers!

Doing some Holiday entertaining this year? Are your leftovers taking up all your space? Then this post is for you. Below are some handy tips for getting your fridge organized and efficient and keeping everything tasting good.

1.   Tip 1: Front and Center. Give priority items your prime fridge space. Things you need to be eaten like leftovers or healthy snacks, keep them front and center in the middle rack of your fridge at eye level. Store large food items in several containers and don't be afraid to adjust your shelves to accommodate your items.

2.       Tip 2: Not all things need to be chilled. It's good to know that ketchup, jam, vinegar, mayonnaise and butter don't have to be refrigerated. They can be put in your pantry if your fridge space is tight. Also, fresh eggs from your backyard chickens or your local farmer don't need to be refrigerated. Only store bought eggs which go through a power-washing that strips the protective coating on the eggshell. Bet you didn't know that! Item that you shouldn't put in the fridge are: tomatoes (which get mushy faster), onions (they will soften faster), honey (makes it thick), and potatoes (the cold turns their starches into sugar).

3.       Tip 3: Against the flow. Refrigerators today are designed with organization in mind already. Your condiments go on the door, veggies  in the crispers and gallon size containers in the center racks. But you don't have to do it like that. If you eat lunch at home a lot consider creating a lunch bin which you can pull out and have all your fixings right there. Or if you have kids make a healthy snack bin with all their favorites. Even a breakfast bin if you eat cream cheese and bagels.
4.       Tip 4: Like the song says it "Hip to be Square." Refrigerators work better when they are fuller but not crammed full of stuff. Use square or rectangular shaped containers for leftovers or food storage since they stack quickly and easily and will fit in the corners.

Another lovely picture of downtown Greenville, SC. Take a stroll along the river walk. Watch the water run over the falls. Or cross over the walk way to the entertainment center.

riverwalk in downtown greenville sc

If you need assistance with selling or buying a home I can help. Referrals and people needing relocation assistance are welcome! Search Single Family homes in Greenville. Search Condos and Townhomes in Greenville.

Friday, December 13, 2013

December Happenings in Greenville, SC

Hello Blogosphere!

Thought I would put together this list of December events happening in Greenville in case you were in the Christmas frame of mind and needed an outlet.
If you know of a December event that isn't listed here please add it to the comments below. Here's wishing you and yours a very merry holiday season!

If you need assistance with selling or buying a home I can help. Referrals and people needing relocation assistance are welcome! Search Single Family homes in Greenville. Search Condos and Townhomes in Greenville.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Homeowner 101: Home Maintenance Causes and Cures

home maintenance 101
This week we will be wrapping up our series on home maintenance possible causes and cures, here are the last four common problems you can encounter as a home owner.

9.       Tap water taste weird

a.       Possible cause: Water taste will vary with the mineral content of you tap water. If you are experiencing a more metallic taste, then your pipes could be leaching iron or copper into the water. A high chlorine taste could be from your water company stubbing their toe with the disinfectant, but if your chlorine level is correct it might be a reaction between the chlorine and some organic material in your plumbing system.

b.      Cure:  To help diagnose what's happening, pick up a water test kit for around $10 at your local home improvement store. These kits test chlorine levels, pH, alkalinity, nitrate/nitrites, bacteria, lead, pesticides, copper, iron, and hardness. Based on the results you will know if you should call your water company or a professional to treat your well. Under-the-counter water filter systems are also available with top-quality filters. They remove heavy metals, bacteria and other impurities and improves the taste of the water.  Cost is about $150 to $200 for the system with replacement filters being anywhere from $20 to $50 and up.

10.   Milk sour?.

a.       Possible causes: Today's hyper-pasteurized milk and dairy products don't sour easily. If you are experiencing unusually fast food spoiling, check your fridge temperature. It may be set too high. Usually the factory setting on the appliance is the perfect temp.

b.      Cure: Buy an inexpensive fridge thermometer. You want the temperature on each shelf to be below 40 degrees. If you current fridge won't do this, then it's time for a new energy star-rate appliance. New refrigerators are a bit expensive but you will save in energy costs and in food costs with less spoiling plus you may qualify for energy rebates. Look for rebates in your state.

11.   Floors that give or bow

a.       Possible causes: If you have wooden floors and things on your tables and shelves shake or rattle as you walk by or it gives under your weight, you might have an issue with your floor joists.

b.      Cure: Consult a structural engineer or a reputable experienced contractor. The solution may be to add more joists or another layer of subflooring or even a support post. Initial evaluation by a structural engineer will be around $500.

12.   Strange drafts or breezes

a.       Possible cause:  Ground floor rooms appear drafty means air may be seeping in along your foundation or through windows and doors that are not properly sealed. Making things worse would be a drafty attic which pulls rising warm air out through gaps and draws in cooler air via the ground floor cracks.

b.      Cure:  Do a top to bottom inspection and seal all your gaps. A trip to your local home improvement store to pick up weather stripping and caulking will go a long way. Spray foam is also available just pick the right expansion for your job.

Being a home owner is always full of regular maintenance issues. Don't let these turn into surprises. Hoped this series gave you some pointers. Let me know below your tips and/or problems you have run into with your home.

Another photo from around Greenville. Imagine passing some time here on this wonderful bench with a good book swinging with the wind. With all our wonderful parks, why would you want to be any where else?

If you need assistance with selling or buying a home I can help. Referrals and people needing relocation assistance are welcome! Search Single Family homes in Greenville. Search Condos and Townhomes in Greenville.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Homeowner 101: Home Maintenance Problems 2

homeowner 101: more home maintenance problems and cures
In continuing with our series on home maintenance possible causes and cures, here are another four more common problems you can encountered as a home owner.

5. Toilet tank refills by itself

a. Possible causes: The inside parts of your toilet tank are made of rubber and therefore subject to wearing out due to constant exposure to water. This causes hardness in the rubber and it begins to leak. The leaking lowers the water level in the tank and initiates the auto refill mechanism. A toilet leaking in this way can waste about 1,500 gallons a month and increase your water bill.

b. Cure: Replace the internal rubber parts if they are worn, cost will be under $25 if you do it. Also, take a look at the chain to make sure it is not tangled or too tight. That would prevent the flapper from closing all the way. Or you can slightly bend the arm connected to the float. Another option is to upgrade to a water-saving dual-flush valve.

6. Groans and creaks.

a. Possible causes: As the temperature changes, all homes tend to develop groans and creaks as the smaller parts contract and expand. Changes in humidity can also cause the noises.

b. Cure: Sorry to say, there isn't one. Every once in a while you may have a nail pop or hear some noises as the home settles, especially if you bought a brand new home. However, really loud creaks and groans are not as common. During winter months, be aware of any snow buildup on your roof, or in the case of a flat roof, any water buildup. If you suspect a problem, call in a professional.

7. Musty odors

a. Possible causes: A fungus called mildew is growing in your home because the indoor humidity is high enough for condensation to appear on cold surfaces. This is most common in basements.

b. Cure: Keep surfaces dry. Increase the air flow in your home with a fan. Ceiling fans are popular for this purpose, especially in homes in the deep South. Try to keep the humidity level below 50 percent in your home during the summer or 40 percent in winter. A dehumidifier can help pull out the moisture or add some more insulation to your home.

8. Smell of rotten eggs when using the water

a. Possible cause: A bacteria is in your plumbing which produces hydrogen sulfide gas (rotten egg smell) or your hot water heater has an issue. To troubleshoot; fill a glass with hot water, move away from the sink and smell it, if there is no smell than the problem is in your drain and not your water heater.

b. Cure: If it's a drain problem, then disinfect your drain by pouring a cheap bottle of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution down it. A rotten egg smell in your hot water only, goes back to the hot water heater. You will need to call a plumber to disinfect your system or he may need to replace the magnesium anode. If you are smelling rotten eggs in both cold and hot water, contact your water supply company or if you have a well, your local health department.

Hope these tips helped you out. These issues can appear in both newer homes and older homes. Some maintenance issues are just not picky. Next week we will finish up this series with four more causes and cures.

Now on to our photo blog picture for today. Here we have a shot of the Brooks Brothers storefront on main street in downtown Greenville, SC. Brooks Brothers is a professional clothing retailer based in New York City famous for their readymade mens suits. They provide classic styling for mens and ladies clothing with skilled master tailors available for fitting services. Special ordering is also available.

brooks brothers clothiers main st greeville sc

If you need assistance with selling or buying a home I can help. Referrals and people needing relocation assistance are welcome! Search Single Family homes in Greenville. Search Condos and Townhomes in Greenville.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Homeowner 101 Series: Home Maintenance

homeowner 101 series home maintenance
Are you a first-time homeowner? Daunted by the issue of home maintenance? Here is some help. Below I will review four common causes and cures for home maintenance problems.

1. Exterior paint peeling

a. Possible causes: moisture maybe getting under your paint. Possibly from leaking gutters above it or from the inside of your home like the bathroom area.

b. Cure: by catching the problem early, you can search out the moisture issue and fix it then scrape and repaint the wall. Don't delay if you have siding on the home because it might rot. Replacing a whole wall or home with siding can be expensive. If the issue surrounds your bathroom, think about installing an updated ventilation fan with a humidity-sensor switch. It will auto exhaust the humid air.

2. Lights that flicker

a. Possible causes: when it is just a single bulb, check the tightness of the bulb in the socket or replace the bulb if it is beginning to look burnt. If your lights are dimming when one of your major appliances starts up, that might be an indication of an overloaded circuit. Groups of lights flickering could indicate issues with electrical panel connections. Loose connections in your panel can cause arcing and lead to a potential fire hazard.

b. Cure: single bulbs are easy to deal with as described above. If you are handy with some tools, then you can shut down your circuits and snug up those loose connections. If you suspect something more serious, call an electrician. Licensed electricians can replace circuits or even whole panels for a lot less than the cost of recovering from fire damage.

3. Rustling noise coming from your wall
a. Possible causes: termites. Not only can you see visual evidence of termites but they can be detected by their sound. Listen to this recording of the Eastern Subterranean Termite. Another option could be carpenter ants which sound like cellophane crinkling.

b. Cure: if you have a termite bond on your home, call your pest-control company and let them know. They will come out and perform a termite inspection on your home. For other pests, they can spray and drop poison pellets around the outside walls of your home to kill off any invaders. Available at your local home improvement store is a product called Ortho Home Defense Perimeter and Indoor Insect Killer. For about $13 for a gallon you get 12 month protection.

4. Knocking noise

a. Possible cause: can occur when turning off your water facets. A "water hammer" happens when fast-moving water stops abruptly and no air chamber is provided to cushion the shock wave. Knocking from your furnace switching on and off is more likely due to metal ducts contracting or expanding with the temperature.

b. Cure: for the water facet, check to see if you have an air chamber. If so, then it might need to be drained. If not, you can employ a plumber to add one. The metal duct noise you will just have to get used to it.

Some of these issues may be more common in an older home than in a brand new build. With codes being constantly upgraded in new homes, you are just getting better circuit panels, furnaces and bug protection. But for those who enjoy buying and living in an older home, these tips might help. Next week we will cover four more causes and cures for home maintenance issues.

This week we have a shot from another local park located in the Greenville area. The views are wonderful! Imagine walking, running or biking along this wonderful path winding through the park. Never fear the warm summer days when you have all this shade!

greenville area parks

Friday, November 15, 2013

Remodeling Ideas for a Champagne Taste

Are you thinking about remodeling? Have a champagne taste but a beer budget? Below are some clever ideas to adding a touch of elegance with breaking your budget. These items can be easily purchased at your local home improvement store.
remodeling ideas for a champagne taste
  • Ceiling Medallions - a quick way to add a bit of old world style elegance. Often placed in living rooms or formal parlors, this easy  DIY project will only cost about $94. Today's medallions are lightweight urethane not the plaster from days gone by.
  • Wainscot - another easy DIY project is adding some wainscot to your home. Whether you want to spruce up your entryway, living room or kitchen, this can be easily accomplished by buying the bead board and installing it over a weekend. Cost of lumber and a gallon of paint. 
  • Crown Moulding - adds an elegant touch to any room. There are several styles to choose from and it can be easily added. Add an extra touch to the kitchen by adding the moulding above the cabinets at the ceiling.  Comes in wood, MDF and Polystyrene. Costs depends on pattern and material. 
  • Kitchen Backsplash - make an elegant impression by adding a stainless steel backsplash to your kitchen. Available in single tiles of all sizes or in patterned tiles. These can be applied directly using adhesive. 
  • Cabinet Pulls - a really quick and easy way to add elegance to your kitchen. Add or replace existing kitchen pulls with stainless steel or retro classic pulls. Price will vary by pull style. 
  • Accent Walls - often used in high end homes to lend a splash of color. Pick a wall in any room and add variety. You could also use stencils or sponges to add texture. If you don't like it, repaint. Don't want to do a whole wall, pick a door or an alcove to add your color. 
  • Salvaged Style - another retro style making a comeback is salvaged. Lower income families would add the inexpensive tins to their ceilings to copy the look in the luxury estates. Today you can copy that look using ceiling tiles. These panels are available in lots of styles and can be painted to match your decor. 
  • Reflective Light - want to add light to a dark stairway? Think about adding mirror tiles to your risers. Look into mirror mosaics by the sheet and using mirror tile adhesive.
While I was writing this I used a popular home improvement web site to look up the items and found most, if not all, available through the store. These stores also offer free classes for DIYers. Contact me about getting on my mailing listing Lowe's coupons.

Another shot from around Greenville. This week we are hosting a beautiful shot from Falls Park in downtown Greenville. Serving as an oasis in the Historic West End, locals and tourist alike come here to relax and enjoy the sound of the falls.

falls park greenville sc

The Reedy river runs through the park with the Liberty Bridge overhead. This bridge is a unique curved, cantilevered marvel of engineering. Get more details on this unique foot bridge.