Archive for the 'Money Matters' Category

Where the money went: Rosarito Beach condo remodel

How Don and Gigi Maurizio spent the money on their Rosarito Beach remodel: Construction Demolition: $3,000 Scraping textured plaster walls: $500 (labor) Staining beams: $500 (labor) Cabinets: $7,200 (materials) Tankless hot-water system and connections: $1,800 (materials) Tile for floor, patio, shower and bath countertop, including grout: $7,700 (materials) Granite countertop in kitchen: $2,000 (materials and [...]

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Will you choose the cheap contractor? Or the artist?

A few months ago, my friend (who I’ll call Clare for the sake of this true story) was in the position to choose a contractor for the small, charming century-old house she gutted and is bringing back to life. Clare got full bids from two contractors. Contractor Artisan’s bid was more expensive by 10s of [...]

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Feel like cheaping out? Don’t make the same mistake Charles made

Everyone likes a deal. A steal. A feeling that you just saved more money on your remodel than anyone in the history of the world. But sometimes that quest can bring regrets. That’s what happened to Charles Chang, who did a complete remodel on a very trashed property for about $40,000. See the whole story [...]

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Why competitive bidding doesn’t work

Perhaps you’ve heard this quip when a spacecraft is launched: “There goes the lowest bid.” In my mind, trying to get the lowest bid for a remodeling project is just as foolish. And a lot of contractors agree with me. Gayler Construction explains very clearly how buying remodeling services is not even remotely like buying a [...]

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The secrets of the spider webs

Here we have two identical windows on the same wall in a bathroom. A spider has built a web on one window (top), but not the other (bottom). Do you wonder why? It’s all about air leaks and food. Spiders don’t choose their home sites like we do. They don’t check Zillow for nearby home prices, [...]

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LEED? ICC-700? Energy Star? One builder gives up on green-building ratings

Vernon McKown, co-owner of Ideal Homes of Norman, Okla., is a pretty enlightened green builder whom I heard speak last week at the International Builder’s Show in Orlando. The topic was how to build affordable green homes and Vern made a shocking statement: He said he’s quitting all green-building rating systems programs. That includes Energy Star [...]

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Markup and Profit — Why you want your contractor to get some

If you already think a remodeling contractor is entitled to an item titled “Markup and Profit” in the bid, you can skip this post. But if you cringe at this concept, and try to negotiate markup and profit out of the bid, keep reading. As far as I can tell, there are three major types [...]

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Air conditioner on the fritz? Maybe it’s been stolen

Here’s an embarrassing situation: Your air conditioner stops working so you call out the repair company. When they arrive, they’re puzzled to see a bare concrete slab where your air conditioner used to be. Your AC has been stolen. This happens and not infrequently, unfortunately. Thieves can sell the copper in an AC unit for [...]

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In New Orleans, a blessed sign of recovery

In most communities, garage sale signs are so ubiquitous as to be a nuisance. After all, most of us have too much stuff and we need to get rid of it. And these days, to pocket some cash is a happy thing. But in New Orleans, which got flooded in 2005 when the defective federal [...]

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Does it pay to remodel your home?

Each year, following the release of Remodeling Magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report, we see a slew of headlines telling us “It Doesn’t Pay to Remodel Your Home.” But despite the naysayers, a home-renovation project can still be profitable — even in this current market. As any savvy DIYer will notice, the costs of the [...]

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2010-2011 Cost vs. Value Report just released

Will you get your money back on that bathroom remodel when you sell your house? How about that new deck? How much will that increase the value of your house? For hard numbers on how much you’ll get back from your remodel, you can’t do better than the Cost vs. Value Report put out each [...]

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Looking for a new career? A lot of old wood windows need restoring

I’ve been self-employed my whole career and I could not be happier. No matter what the economy is doing, a scrappy freelancer can find work. If I was casting about for a new career, I might consider becoming a restorer of old wood windows, like this woman featured in an Old House Journal article. Pam [...]

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How to save money on your kitchen remodel? Don’t move the sink

Who knew saving money on a kitchen remodel could be so simple? Just don’t move the sink. If you do, you will incur all kinds of costs and delays when the plumbing has to be rerouted. When your house is on a concrete slab that has to be cut into for the new plumbing, that’s [...]

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Recession hits ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’ — No more McMansions

You aren’t the only one feeling the pinch. In an exclusive interview with WalletPop’s Jason Cochran, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition‘s resident carpenter, Paul DiMeo, reports that the tough times have hit his popular ABC show, too. One of the first things to change was the size of the homes. In years past, families would be [...]

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Using Facebook or Twitter could raise your homeowners insurance premiums

Services such as Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and Buzz can alert criminals when users are not home, according to Confused.com, the price comparison service. Foursquare, for example, shows that people are in a specific spot and, more importantly, that the user is definitely not at home, Confused.com added. It predicted that the new wave in social media could eventually lead [...]

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$60,000 pool adds only $5,000 to home’s appraisal

From Baton Rouge Real Estate Appraisals: I ran across a situation in the Greater Baton Rouge Housing Market where a homeowner, located in a subdivision where the average home is worth $150,000, installed a $60,000 Gunite Inground Pool recently. Now, their home is on the market and they are about to be taken through the [...]

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Don’t miss out on cash for clunkers for appliances rebates in your state

From Consumer Reports: While a few states started doling out rebates to consumers as part of the $300 million cash for clunkers for appliances program at the end of 2009, the launch date for most states will occur throughout the first several months of 2010. Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois (phase 1 only), Kansas, Oregon, Vermont, Wisconsin, [...]

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Free and cheap decorating

At the tile store some time ago, salivating over the $30-per-square-foot tile, I asked the clerk a brilliant question: “Do you have any free stuff?” I was with a friend who is pretty classy, and she gave a nervous little laugh and I wondered for a second if this question was crass. But the clerk [...]

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Top 10 projects that add home value

From HGTV's Front Door: #10: The kitchen is one room where upgrades almost always bring a large return on investment. However, you don't have to gut your kitchen and tackle a major remodel to add value. One way to improve your kitchen is to simply replace your old appliances. Stainless steel is the current standard, [...]

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Energy tax credits tempt homeowners

From Bank Rate: Federal tax credits are helping to fuel demand for energy-efficient, "green" home remodeling projects. Few people undertake major home remodeling projects simply to be more environmentally conscious, says Greg Miedema, president of Dakota Builders Inc. in Tucson, Ariz., and chairman of the National Association of Home Builders remodeling division. "Nobody's going to [...]

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