You have your property listed and you're now under contract. There is a buyer that has now made an offer and you're under contract. Here are five simple inexpensive things you can do as the seller to make the inspection day go a little smoother.
Replace CO2 & Smoke Alarm Batteries
When was the last time you changed all of the batteries in the smoke and CO2 alarms? If you don't know the answer to that question, it is a good idea to replace them all and test each one to make sure they are working. What if only one doesn't work and has a dead battery? You're already up there, just replace all the batteries so you don't have to worry about it.
If your alarms are older and yellow in color it's a good idea to replace them all as it will be called out by the Home Inspector.
ProTip - Set a reoccurring reminder in your digital calendar to replace all batteries when the time changes (daylight savings).
Replace Burnt Out Light Bulbs
I remember when I was selling my house and I replaced all of the outages. We had our first private showing and the clients agent called my realtor. Two of the light bulbs were out. If you're replacing vanity lights etc., just replace them all with fresh new bulbs. You want potential buyers to see themselves in this bright beautiful space and not focus on the little things.
Re-caulk; Sinks, Bathtubs, and Showers
Re-caulking all of the sinks, bathtub, and showers is a great way to freshen it up and give it a clean glow. Click HERE for a quick DIY how to.
Change Your Furnace Air Filter
Nothing says delayed maintenance like a nice dirty furnace filter. If you have preventative maintenance records, make copies and hang them next to the unit.
ProTip - Set a reoccurring reminder in your digital calendar to replace the filter every 3-6 months. Keep at least one extra new filter in your mechanical room/closet. Hang a click board in your mechanical room and log every time the filter is changed.
Replace/Repair Damaged Window Screens
If you have holes and damage in the screens you can reuse the existing frame and replace the screen. Click HERE to check out the DIY article from The Home Depot.
It is Summer and it is the busiest time to start outdoor projects and to hire a contractor. To compound the busy season this year the universe has decided to sprinkle in some home quarantine and voila, most contractors have a minimum of a three week lead time right now in the Denver metro area. It's a great time to start planning that kitchen remodel, indoor upgrades, or to schedule that chimney cleaning to get ahead of the Fall, October busy season.
Now that you have decided you want a new fence, deck, re-landscaped backyard, paint the exterior, etc. What are the next steps?
Hire a Licensed & Insured Contractor
First where do you look and find these contractors? Google search for contractors near year, post for recommendations on Next Door and Facebook, or maybe you like to use Angies List or Home Advisor? Whomever you go with, you not only want to check the reviews but you want to make sure they are licensed /certified and insured. Ask them for a copy of their general liability and E & O (errors & emissions) insurance. This is a standard practice in commercial construction and should be in residential as well.
Here is an example of a project I am working on. I would like to have a new five foot wood gate installed in my backyard. It's a small job, so I posted a request for recommendations on Next Door. I reached out to several of the recommendations and only one contractor responded. It was two weeks before he could come out and take a look at the project. He came out, provided an estimated base price of $200-
$500. I requested the estimate in writing etc. which he sent via a text message. Needless to say, I did not hire him and I have put the project back out to bid. Finding the right contractor can be extremely frustrating sometimes but they are out there. Trust your gut. If you're not comfortable, it is okay. Wait until you find the contractor that works for you.
Get the Scope of work in writing
It is extremely important to have the estimate in writing. This will help to make sure there is a clear expectation between what you are requesting and what the contractor is to deliver.
We'll use the five foot wood gate for example. Take a look at the two examples below and you will see a big difference in the expectation. If the contractor is not willing to tell you where they're getting the materials or how much they cost, that is the first RED FLAG.
I recently worked with a client as a consultant that hired a general contractor to remodel two bathrooms, a den, and a basement for a quoted amount of $24k. She thought she was getting a great deal until she was hit with a $24k change order. She did everything mentioned except verify the estimate. The GC quoted laminate tile vs. ceramic bathroom tile and a tile fireplace vs. quartz. Before you sign it, verify it is what you're asking for.
Estimate Example #1
1) Five foot wood gate = $200-$500
Estimate Example #2
Customer Name: Michael Kelly
Project Address: 1234 Blue Spruce Lane, Denver, CO
Project Discription: Installation and labor to install a five foot wide cedar gate, includes hardware, post drilling, concrete, set, and two coats of seal. Requires a 20% deposit prior to start and the remaining 80% upon project completion. Due to unforeseen ground conditions, roots etc., there may be additional labor costs. If this is the case the project will be placed on hold until a change order is approved in writing by the property owner.
Labor $150 (Additional 2hrs will be added if there is root intrusion, at $25 per hr. Max of 2hrs prior to additional approval)
Material $148.95 + Taxes @ $0.0831 - $12.38 = $161.33
Equipment Fee - $40
10% Material Markup $20.13 (Pickup & Delivery Included)
Grand Total = $371.46
Note: Current lead time for project start, is 4wks from receipt of the signed contract.
Sign Here -
Contractor License #
Take Pictures, document
Hope for the best but always plan to CYA (Cover your A**). A great way to do that is to document and take pictures. Take pictures before the contractor starts, now setup a project file in the cloud so you can access it from anywhere. I love google photos and google sheets web based free service. Take progress photos and completion photos.
You and your contractor have a conversation onsite. Follow that conversation up with an email, see example below. You can even include a google calendar reminder for both you and the contractor. If they don't show per the agreed time/date, reply to the email below requested an update. Then pick up the phone and call the general contractor or project manager.
It was great to see you yesterday and I love the extra detail you're putting into the project. Just to confirm per our conversation, the concrete installer will return next Tuesday, July 28th at 10 a.m.?
Also, can you provide an updated projected project completion date?
NO one wants to be presented or hear the words change order. It doesn't matter if it is residential or a large commercial project, the term change order is always a fun conversation. It is a good practice to receive bi-weekly or monthly progress updates, as well as budget updates from your contractors. I'm a fan of the google sheet project ghant charts and several other web based software platforms.
What is a change order?
A change order can be defined as work that is added to or deleted from the original plan/scope of work of a contract, proposal. And 95% of the time it is an additional fee and or increase to the original budget. Again, if you're changing the scope from a rolled laminate floor to a custom ceramic tile from Italy it is going to cost you significantly more.
There are exceptions in every situation. We'd all love to have Superman's vision and be able to see through walls but that technology doesn't exist. If your contractor opens up a wall and finds a leak or something else that was unforeseen, it's a valid change order. In the case of a water leak, it is a blessing in disguise. Water is the devil to any structural envelope and can slowly cause thousands of dollars in damage.
Completion Review & Oversight
The final walk through and punch list walk. This is when you walk the completed project with your general contractor or project manager.
If you're not a facility and or construction project manager, I highly recommend that at a bare minimum you hire a consultant to review your bid package, have a phased construction scope verification, and have a certified inspector or consultant inspect the final project before that walk final walk through. On a $24k project it is less than 5% of the total project cost but can save you time. If that is too much for your budget, hire an inspector to review and inspect the final project.
Here is my shameless plug! Prior to becoming a twice certified inspector, I was in construction and facility management for two decades. I have remodeled large retail stores, grocery stores, restaurants, apartments, large corporate offices, and storage facilities. Most recently I have been helping to ensure that projects are completed per the agreed upon scope of work in the residential sector. Remodeling can be overwhelming if you're not prepared, give us a call and we'll be happy to help give you peace of mind.
Many of us are at home more this year and are tackling those home projects. You know those projects that you never have time for but spend countless hours watching "How To" videos on YouTube. If you're looking to build something with basic tools and knowledge, check out Ann-White for some inspiration and free drawings. It is one of my favorite DIY websites. As I mentioned on Monday a really close friend of mine fell from a ladder over the weekend. She is a little bruised up but she'll recover.
Before we get into the details there is more to safety than just climbing the ladder. There is picking out the proper ladder for the job, checking the weight limits, inspecting the ladder, being aware of the weather conditions and the list goes on. *Each year, there are more than 164k emergency room-treated injuries and 300 deaths in the U.S. from ladder falls. Most of these accidents take place at 10ft and below.
I've made some poor judgements in the past with ladder safety but I got lucky and there were no mishaps. I now have a healthy fear and respect for the smallest of jobs. Even if you're amongst the most experienced ladder operators, accidents happen. Nothing is more important than the safety of yourself and the people around you. Let's get into these six climbing safety tips.
1. Ladder Feet are Firm & Secure
Make sure your ladder’s feet are firmly and securely on the ground.
2. Three Points of Contact
Two hands and one foot or one hand and two feet is considered safe. This can be a little awkward the first time that you're getting ready to step out onto the roof from the ladder. I like to put one foot on the roof, while I still have one hand and one foot on the ladder. Then I put the second foot on the roof, while I'm still holding the ladder. Depending on the slope of the roof, I may then take my other hand and put it on the roof (4-Points of contact) and then when I'm secure I'll proceed with walking/inspecting the roof.
3. Always Face the Ladder
Never climb with your back to the ladder. You want to be able to see where your next step is and where the next rung is. Take your time and get up and down safely.
4.Use the Rungs as Grips
Always face the ladder and use the rungs as grips. Avoid using the side rails to pull yourself up. Keep your body centered on the ladder. The rungs allow you to hold on and use that strong grip. The side rails are like a slide and you don't want to slide to the ground. Here's a secret, it hurts!
5. Tie Down
I like to use bungees. I used to use one large bungee for the right and left side rail. Now I use two small bungees, one for each side. Tieing down the ladder helps to keep it from slipping. Highly recommend incorporating this into your ladder climbing routine.
6. Wear Proper Shoes and Eye Wear
Wear the right shoes. When climbing a ladder, you want to be wearing work boots or work shoes. Tennis shoes with appropriate tread are acceptable for light-duty job. I have tried several different pairs of boots and I haven't found one that is functional and comfortable. Don't even get me started on style because it is all but nonexistent. Right now I am partial to LEM's. You have to be comfortable and find what works for you and the job at hand.
Don't forget those shades! They're not made to just make you look cool, they also protect your eyes. Especially if you're getting on a white TPO (short for thermoplastic polyolefin) roofing system. My favorite sunglasses for property inspections and outdoor activities are the OG's by Goodr.
We've Got You Covered
To be together again we have to distance ourselves. Stay safe, stay at home. We've got you covered... We offer you state of the art innovative digital reports like we were in person. Including virtual home inspections. Your happiness and health is our best medicine.
Paint, Paint, Paint
*A little paint makes a huge impact. Whether you paint your front door, your trim or your entire house, few projects can transform a house as dramatically and inexpensively as paint. Top-notch paint costs only a few dollars more per gallon, but it will cover better, go on smoother and last longer than the cheap stuff—it's a smart investment. A few rules of thumb: If you want a small house to look larger, paint it white. If your house is a mishmash of styles or has sagging soffits or other flaws, paint everything the same color to help visually unify the house. Several paint manufacturers market computer software that allows you to mock up different paint color schemes on a digital image of your house (or on a house close in style supplied by the program).
New House Numbers
*Updated house numbers add polish and shine. Replace shabby or dated-looking numbers with ones made of brass, aluminum or stainless steel. They’ll look best if the finish matches that of the light fixture and door hardware. Buy individual numbers or custom plaques. You can buy do-it-yourself address plaque kits from home centers, hardware stores and online retailers.
Click HERE for 33 House Number Ideas.
Upgrade Your Mailbox
*Whether you have a box mounted to the house, a letter slot next to the door or a freestanding box on a post near the street, a new mailbox can add a splash of curb appeal. Purchase an approved mailbox and follow regulations regarding height; for example, curbside mailboxes must be mounted so bottoms are 42 to 48 in. above the ground. And remember, hanging plants and flowers growing around a mailbox may increase curb appeal, but the bees and other stinging insects these plants attract aren't always your mail carrier's best friend.
Click HERE for some modern mailbox ideas.
New mulch gives a clean and manicured look that increases your instant curb appeal. The purpose of mulch is to help with weeds and to keep that area full of moisture. This can attract pests and keep moisture near your home. Another option is rock and maybe some flowers depending on the season. At the bare minimum you should make sure that the yard is clean and maintained.
If you do install mulch make sure you don't create a negative grade towards house and leave a minimum of 6 inches from the soil to foundation line. This will help you avoid unnecessary call-outs on your home inspection.
Click HERE for additional tips on mulch installation and safety.
Upgrade Your Porch Light Fixture
*Consider function as well as style when selecting a fixture; it should light up your steps, house numbers and door without being too dominant. To simplify the project, buy a fixture that has the same mounting system or screw spacing as the existing fixture. Make certain the power is off and the new fixture is rated for exterior use before installing it. Some sconce-style lights are now available with unobtrusive, built-in motion detectors.
*Some of the information above can be found on Family Handy Man
Did you know that Denver came in 3rd place per Dogington Post as one of the most dog friendly cities in the U.S. Walk almost any neighborhood in Denver and you'll find the locals walking their fur babies. Keeping our fur babies safe and healthy is a priority!
If you are getting ready to move or purchase a new home use the Pet Safety Checklist below to help you have peace of mind.
Life Expectancy Chart
Are you currently looking to buy a home, an investor or a current property owner and you need help building out your budget for equipment replacement? Or maybe you're not sure when its time to repaint the exterior.
Use the chart below to help guide you! If you have any questions feel free to contact me anytime.
Click link below for Home Buyer Tips, provided by InterNACHI.
Pet odor! The more you know, the more you can potentially save! A close family friend is looking at making their first purchase and asked if I would tour homes with them. We walked into a property and right away I could smell cat spray/urine!! I noticed everything had been newly painted and the carpet was new as well.
From my experience from managing property apartments with this issue, replacing the carpet and pad isn't enough. Most likely it has been absorbed into the sub-floor. I highly recommend that you seal the floor, let it air out and reassess prior to installing the new floor. Recommend at least two coats. While the existing seller tried to do what was best it didn't solve the odor problem and whoever purchases the property is now going to have to rip up the new floor or learn to live with the smell. If the seller offers to have the carpet cleaned. You can request the carpet to be cleaned and then go reinspect it a few days later. Some odors could be surface but you want to make sure! This is good to know so you can ask these questions when you're looking at new potential property!
On the low end you're looking at $3 a square foot but on average most are spending around $5. If it's 1,200 square feet you're looking at $3,600-$6,000 to have it replaced. Add that to your negotiation tool box ;)
Looking at homes built before 1990?! Take a look at the electrical panel. A large majority of electricians won't even service these panels and recommend replacement.
📌Avg replacement cost $1,300-$2,500
☑️ Federal Pacific (stab-lok)
☑️ Bryant & Challenger
That cost is for a panel up to 200amps and doesn't include the wiring within the walls, panel only. Let's talk about Federal Pacific specifically as they have a history of being the source of several known home fires. Knowing this early allows you to ask questions and gives you negotiation leverage. If you're the seller you can disclosure it and save time. Mainly in homes built 1950-1990. Look for Federal Pacific or Sylvania (which is most likely a rebranded Federal Pacific. However not all Sylvania are in this category), the term stab-lok, Zinsco, Bryant and Challenger.
📌 What if it's a condo or townhouse complex!?
- In this case you would need to know if it's your responsibility or the HOA but if it's the HOA why haven't they already done it? Do they have enough reserves? If it's the owners responsibility keep in mind you might upgrade your panel but what about the other five units connected to the structure?