Friday, February 9, 2018

Renovating, upgrading or repairing your home......some points to consider

Are you thinking about remodeling your existing home?  Some good questions to consider are how long you plan to stay in the property or if you are doing the renovations as an upgrade before selling?

As a realtor and homeowner,  I generally recommend only doing a major renovation if you plan to stay place and enjoy the results of the project.  If you are thinking about selling you need to consider the fact that you may have different taste and needs of a potential buyer.  Not all upgrades (see Globe article here payoff) will be worth the time and cost and be recaptured when selling.

According to the NAR the impact of remodeling for buyers and sellers shows that 75% of owners want to stay in their home  after completing a renovation project.  The most valued interior renovations are in the kitchen and bathroom, while exterior ones include a new roof, windows and a a garage door.  There is a news release on this subject from September 2017 here.

Before making any decisions on a home improvement project do your homework.  The major components of this should include soliciting competitive bids before selecting a contractor,  be sure your contractor does all the required permitting (check local permit regulations), get an estimate in writing for the project and establish a plan for any variations as well as final approval at the end of the project.

We just did a work in progress repair to replace rotted wood on our deck.   Our original goal was to preserve the integrity of the deck so that when we do sell in a few years, preventatively there would be no rot issues if inspected.  Our painter last year recommended replacing a few rotted ballisters before returning to do another coat of stain.

What started out as a minor project using our regular contractor ended up costing 3 times what we planned.  We did not follow any of the above tips and learned the hard way.  The contractor started out replacing the identified rotted ballisters and it mushroomed into basically replacing all of them, the under-base and two sets of steps.    My husband told him to use the best materials and although we were in some communication we did not have a written proposal.  The contractor was working on a time and material basis and we went along with allowing him to proceed as needed.  A big mistake on our end was not to get an estimate in writing up front or to get interim progress reports of his spending.  Although he did an amazing job and the deck looks brand new it is not the place I would have spent money.  We do plan to downsize in a few years and this renovation money would have been more beneficial to upgrade a bathroom.

Below are some other articles and ideas:

Angie's List  Remodeling project

Whats worth renovating

Top renovation projects for resale

Home improvement budget

Wendy is a realtor with Coldwell Banker Needham and a home owner.  She enjoys sharing her life lessons in this blog to help others make the best decisions possible for their real estate interests.  For more information visit her website at or her facebook page @wendybcb.  She is always interested in referrals.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Home Maintenance Checklist

Owning a home requires a lot of work.  As we take care of our health and our automobiles our homes also require maintenance to be kept healthy, safe and up to economic efficiency.  In November I did a blog post on Home Maintenance with links to key articles for each season.  Click here Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall.

I have just completed a comprehensive checklist of home maintenance items by season. that can be used to schedule and track your individual home maintenance projects.  I will update it periodically as I become aware of new items.  I have it available in a customizable spreadsheet as well if you would like a copy.   Feel free to send me an email and I can forward a copy to you at

p.s. Please note that even if you are selling your home there are maintenance items that need to be done up until the transfer of property ownership.  click here 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Perhaps politics should be run more like a Super Bowl Game

On Sunday the New England Patriots will take the field against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII.  While fans from both sides will cheer in opposition for their favorite team this is also a day of family and friends gathering to have fun.  Many people have parties before, during and after the game.  For some good recipe ideas Superbowl Recipes

Over the next few weeks Congress will be finalizing the 2018 budget and furthering discussion on immigration policy.  Most recently the top 2 parties have been pitted against each other hoping to have a winning team.  Most decisions have become so partisan that neither side talks or respects the other.  Instead of working together there is anger and bitterness.  The majority side is deceitful and only cares about the money and their base.  The minority team tries hard to protect the rights of the democracy.  The lack of conversation and deliberate obstacles created by the two makes it impossible for the teams to work together in a beneficial way to their constituents.  Most energy of the majority team is spent reversing the policies implemented during the last administration.

This is not progress. This does not move us forward as a country. In sports there are rules of engagement and referees to monitor the fairness of the game.  The referees are neutral parties and do not have a favorite team.   Similarly we are supposed to have a system of checks and balances with the  three separate but equal branches of our government.  Sadly this system has been violated by the leader of the majority team.  The norms of separation of these branches are being weakened with each day.

This is not how a fair game is played.  In a football game the team would have penalty's and players would be suspended for violating the rules.  In Washington,  the rules change as mandated to protect the leader.  The leader chooses the "judges" who will protect only his interest.  The political teams seem to grow further and further apart with each policy coming from this leader.

 At the end of a football game both sides come together and shake hands.  Although the team who loses may be disappointed they recognize the hard-work of their teammates and share a mutual respect for the process.  They will proudly go home to their home base and work even harder to continue to support their fans in the communities where they play and prepare for the next season.

Although my Superbowl party guests primarily represent the New England team,  a few Eagles fans may stop by.  We will enjoy each others company and be good sports.  May the best team win and I look forward to watching a well- balanced fair game.

In follow-up the Patriots lost but were very good sports.  This was a full page in the Boston Globe today 2/5/18.
Wendy is a realtor with Coldwell Banker in Needham.  Although she usually writes about real estate related articles sometimes she enjoys focusing on local issues.  You can visit her facebook page at @wendybcb

Decluttering is a state of mind and helps simplify the day

On my real estate page and on this blog, I frequently share articles about decluttering and organizing one's home. The more I read and struggle to keep my own space decluttered the more I realize it all starts with your state of mind.  

Prevention Magazine has recently done a series of articles on how to better focus. One of the most valuable ones I found is here  Declutter your mind.  Our thought process and how we approach each day is the roadmap for our success.  It is important to have a focus on what you need to do and minimize potential distractions. Like an athlete who needs to focus on his sport,  we need to clear our heads to focus on how to maximize our time and energy.  One way for me to stay focused and "decluttered in my brain" is yoga .  To escape the business in my life I will often do a 15-30 minute routine.  This helps me to stay grounded.  

In parallel to decluttering my mind, I am also trying to organize my financial life particularly with tax season approaching.   There was a great article Financial Fast featuring Michelle Singletary on how to have better focus on your finances and shopping habits.  By not being aware of these behaviors we tend to buy excessively rather than only purchasing what we really need. This can create impulse buying and feed your clutter. Michelle published a book last year called The 21 Day Financial Fast that teaches how to break bad spending habits.

Like your brain, if you don't have a handle on your needs vs wants  (a sense of what you already own vs a specific items you may need for a purpose),  you may fall into the trap of buying things just for the sake of owning them .  I did the financial fast last year and now limit my purchases to items I will really use.  I no longer buy an item to wear just once (unless its for a specific reason) and instead buy practical items that I will get much use out of.

Last week I spent a full day cleaning and organizing my kitchen.  I was inspired by an article I came across Kitchen clutter. I went through each cabinet and threw out expired foods, recycled a box of unused plastic containers and "bags and bags" of bags.  I purged outdated gadgets that I haven't used since my bridal shower (over 30 years ago).  I actually found a waffle maker that I thought I had thrown out when I looked for it recently.  As of this weekend all my counters and cabinets are clean and well organized.  I can see the food items I have and what items I need to buy.

I have to admit it feels great to have the room where I spend most of my awake time under control.  Not only do I eat in the kitchen but it is also my preferred home workspace.  I am now able to focus on the work in front of me when I gaze up at the empty counter tops.  I have a place to file my mail and a recycle bin on-hand.  My goal now is to spend 15 minutes every night to keep it this way.  I am now ready to tackle the rest of my house.

Wendy is a realtor at Coldwell Banker in Needham.  If you would like more tips on decluttering you can read check her previous blogs.  She also frequently posts new articles on her facebook page @wendybcb.