Archive for the 'Money Matters' Category

Thinking of buying a foreclosed home? Think again

Before you jump at the idea of snapping up cheap foreclosed-upon homes, think of the implications. An article by Andrew Moseman in Popular Mechanics lays out five dangers for you to consider: 1. Mold — These organisms love water—so they love humid places, especially when the air conditioning has been off for a while. 2. Vandalism and [...]

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Ask a Realtor: Should parents create rental units in their home?

Question: My father and mother live together in a six-bedroom, five-bath house in Northridge. In the last three years, all three of the kids have moved out. My dad’s business isn’t doing that well, so he is trying to think of ways to earn a living. But he’s over 60, so starting a new career [...]

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For Sale: ‘Extreme Makeover’ homes

You know those great big houses the team from the ABC series "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" builds for deserving families? Well, sometimes those big houses turn out to be just too darned big. That's what happened in Sandpoint, Idaho, to Eric Hebert. You can see Eric standing in front of the 3,678-square-foot home built for [...]

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Ceiling detail of the $20,000 kitchen remodel

I got a bunch of questions about the original ceiling and archway of the $20,000 kitchen remodel in the latest Rate This Remodel feature. So I thought I’d show the old and new compared here: What’s neat about the story, for me, is that Dani had a lot of time to think about her kitchen. [...]

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TV budget design trick: Use exterior lighting fixtures inside

Well, why not use outdoor lanterns inside? There’s no law against it. I saw this budget design trick last night on “Designed to Sell” with Lisa LaPorta. She’s a SoCal gal, in case you didn’t know. In this particular show, Lisa wanted to punch up the sconces on either side of a vintage fireplace and [...]

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Problem with tankless water heater, seeking solutions

Reader Elise is having problems with her new tankless water heater: We purchased a tankless a few months ago and have had ongoing problems with low water pressure. The plumber says it is our well, but we had no problems previously, with the exception of running out of hot water, which is why we got [...]

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The new world order: SoCal style

My entry into the world of barter — the new world order referenced above — is the result of a perfect storm consisting of (1) a broken Pottery Barn market umbrella, (2) my ridiculously fruitful avocado trees and (3) the miracle that is Craigslist. The umbrella is a delightful red and blue paisley that goes [...]

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Ask Kathy: How much contractor markup is too much?

Question: My contractor just handed my contract to me, and I’m in shock! He wants 22% of the cost of materials, 22% over the cost of labor, 22% for subcontractors and 22% for labor management crew. I think this is way too much. First, the subcontractors are making a profit, and now the builder wants [...]

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The new cool: a debt-free renovation

The solarium above, once rotted to the studs, was lovingly restored by a couple in Akron, Ohio. What makes this story newsworthy enough to land in the New York Times is that this room and all rooms in the 1913 Tudor were fixed up by the homeowners without incurring any debt. Other than the home’s [...]

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Hate the view out your front window? Buy the house across the street

As Kay asked in a previous post, what do you do when the house across the street goes into disrepair? Or, what if it’s in danger of being torn down and replaced with something you fear is not compatible with the neighborhood? This might sound radical, but you could think about buying that house and [...]

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Is the definition of home about to change?

I recently interviewed Nicolas P. Retsinas, the director of Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies and lecturer at Harvard Business School. Nicholas noted a possible upside in the current real estate market in that houses may be viewed once again as places to anchor and raise families rather than primarily as profit centers. He [...]

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Is this a good time to remodel?

When the housing bust started and home prices began their slide, some homeowners thought the cost of remodels might slide proportionately. That did not happen because the cost of remodeling was never temporarily and artificially inflated, as were some home prices. For instance, a $50,000 oak and granite kitchen remodel done in a Long Beach [...]

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Do-it-yourself solar-powered fountain

After countless vain attempts to locate a solar-powered fountain similar to the one I stumbled upon at my local Home Depot, I’ve decided the better way is to find the components and assemble one myself. The elements are shown above: fountain + pump/solar panel = solar-powered fountain. Fountain: The fountains come from places like OSH, [...]

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Bad Economy: Cheap nails and screws no place to save money

Perhaps you’ve heard that fable about how "but for a nail, a kingdom was lost." It goes like this: But for a nail, a shoe was lost. But for a shoe, a horse was lost. But for a horse, a battle was lost. But for a battle, a war was lost. But for a war, [...]

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At a Glance: Eagle Rock kitchen gets a fresh look

Project: Kitchen remodel in an Eagle Rock bungalow Designer: Bethany Orlemann Contractor: Norm Peters, H&S Cabinets & Construction, Glendale, www.handshomecenter.com, (818) 249-1156 Windows and doors: Taylor Bros. Architectural Products, Los Angeles, www.taybros.com, (323) 805-0200 Countertops: Expo Design Center, Monrovia, (626) 599-3400 Countertop installation: Pacific Stone Designs, Commerce, www.pacificstonedesigns.com, (323) 869-9764 Interior painting: Brothers Painting, Raffi [...]

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Where the money went: Eagle Rock kitchen remodel

Where the money went: Eagle Rock kitchen gets a fresh look Construction (covered by general contractor: plumbing, electric and cabinetry): $43,000 Includes: demolition gut to studs, remove interior walls, framing new doorway and windows, drywall, rough and finish electrical (includes replacing old knob and tube wiring, relocate and upgrade new service panel), rough and finish [...]

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In remodeling: emotional choices, logical rationalizations

Perhaps you’ve heard this ditty about the choices we make in life: We choose based on emotion, and then rationalize our choices with logic. It’s like that with me and claw-foot-style tubs and pedestal sinks. The logic says: bad choice. And a previous posting on this blog brought many well-thought-out comments from readers on why [...]

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Thinking of using an equity line of credit for remodeling? Think again

If you have an equity line of credit that you plan to use for home improvements, there is a chance the lender could cancel that line, according to an article in today’s Washington Post. With home values dropping, the article states, lenders are canceling equity lines of credit so that there is not more debt [...]

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Watch out for hidden remodeling costs

When penciling out costs for a remodel, factoring in flooring, tile, cabinets and other big-ticket items is a no-brainer. But the hidden, not-so-glamorous costs can make your budget jump. I asked SoCal contractor Matt Plaskoff, CEO and founder of Plaskoff Construction and One Week Bath, to compile a list of items that get included in [...]

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Where the money went: Glassell Park kitchen

Where the money went (for the Glassell Park kitchen remodel): Appliances: $3,750 (including front-loading washer and dryer, refrigerator and stove, minus several rebates from utility companies) Cabinets and hardware: $4,000 (note: half the cabinets were original, half were custom made to match) General contractor: $14,700 (included: demolition, raising the sunken floor, all the plumbing and [...]

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