Show Notes: Fixer-Uppers, Outdoor Kitchens and more
Buying a fixer upper? How do you know what you are getting yourself into before you sign on the dotted line. Are you planning a new outdoor kitchen? Why not use it year round. We have easy planning tips just for you.
Happy 160th Birthday To The World’s First Passenger Elevator
On the 23rd of March, 1857, the first successful passenger elevator carried customers up to the fifth floor of the Haughwout Building in New York City.
It was not actually the first elevator, but it was the first commercial installation by Elisha Otis, who invented the safety device that made it all possible. And it works very well; according to a 2008 article in the New Yorker, in New York City alone there are 30 million elevator trips every day. Yet elevators kill only an average of 26 people per year (mostly those who work on them) whereas cars kill that many in five hours. Elevators are safe, efficient, and mostly ignored.
Considering A Fixer-Upper? Ways To Avoid A Money Pit
New homes and those in move-in condition were the ideal. That’s still true for many buyers. But others are finding that, done correctly, remodeling can save a lot of money.
Fixer-uppers are getting attention because:
- Home prices are high in many cities, and a fixer-upper may be the only affordable choice in decent neighborhoods.
- Home decorating and improvement TV shows inspire many buyers to turn to remodeling to get a home that’s perfectly suited to them.
- Lovers of period homes always want to restore older structures.
However, the wrong remodeling project can become a money pit that strips your bank account right down to the studs. Here are 15 ways to identify the fixer-uppers worth your time and money:
- Make cool calculations
Bring an analytical eye when shopping for a home to renovate. Put your emotions in the back seat while you assess each home’s possibilities.
- Love the floor plan
Look for a floor plan you can live with. Moving load-bearing walls is an expensive proposition and generally to be avoided.
- Start with the basement
Inspect a home thoroughly, inside and out. Check inside and outside the basement or foundation for exposed wires and pipes, cracks in the foundation, or water pooling around the home.
“The biggest problems in a house typically arise as a result of poor stability in the structure or foundation,” contractor Tyson Kunz tells Bankrate.
- Inspect the roof
Get a home inspector or trusted roofing specialist to tell you if the home needs a new roof, which can cost $20,000 to $40,000 and up.
- Scrutinize bathrooms
Bathrooms deserve special attention because leaks cause rot and structural damage.
- Avoid ancient plumbing and wiring
The presence of these elderly building materials is a sign of trouble:
- Galvanized steel pipes: Sediment can build up in the pipes, and they may leak and corrode.
- Aluminum wiring: It’s a potential fire hazard.
Replacing a home’s plumbing and wiring are budget-killers involving thousands — if not tens of thousands — of dollars.
- Back away from funky smells
If your nose wrinkles when you enter a home, that’s a sign of problems. A home that emits bad smells may have a dangerous gas leak, sewer or septic problems, or mold — all of which require expensive remedies. Save your money for improvements you can enjoy.
Musty and dank smells come from mildew or mold. Mold is not always visible; it may be inside walls. Don’t assume you won’t find mold in a dry, arid climate. It can be caused by condensation inside walls.
- Watch for rot
Rotting wood is another red flag. Use a pencil to push on trim and the wood around windows, and look for soft or crumbling wood.
- Inspect drywall and floors
Keep an eye out for flooring or drywall that is:
These can indicate rot or mold.
- Run from bad siding
Deteriorating siding raises a red flag for two reasons:
- It’s expensive to replace. Depending on the material you choose, new siding can start at $10,000 to $13,000. Costs increase with the size and complexity of the job.
- It may indicate other problems. Siding may be rotting, blistering or disintegrating because of rot or mold hiding behind the home’s exterior.
- Beware leaky windows
If you want to replace old windows with new, energy-efficient ones, and it’s a priority in your budget, that’s cool.
But be careful of committing to a home with leaking windows. Water seeping into a home through window leaks can cause untold — and unseen — problems from rot and mold. You can’t tell how bad the problems are without removing the windows.
- Spot a bad location
Become an expert on the neighborhood. Bargain homes are often in less desirable areas. Knock on doors on the street and chat with neighbors about crime. Your job is to assess how bad a neighborhood is and whether it’s really going to turn around.
Even if you don’t have children in school, your home’s next buyer might. So learn about the quality of local schools. Get neighborhood crime statistics from the police. Assess the home’s proximity to jobs, stores, banks, cafes, restaurants and playgrounds.
- Look for pests
You’ll need an expert to tell for sure if a pest infestation is present. But you can spot some telltale signs, including:
- Insect wings left on sills (a sign of termites)
- Teeny sawdust piles along baseboards (carpenter ants)
- Urine stains, odors or scrabbling sounds (rodents)
- Hire a home inspector
Once you’ve found a home that passes your muster, hire a well-regarded home inspector to professionally look at the structure from top to bottom. (Cost: $300 to $500, on average, according to FoxBusiness.) Don’t buy a home without a professional inspection.
You can locate inspectors in your area on the website of a national organization like the American Society of Home Inspectors.
Tag along as the inspector tours the home if you can. You’ll learn a lot by seeing it through the inspector’s eyes.
Note: Don’t try to search for lead paint or asbestos. These are dangerous substances, so let the inspector do it.
- Inspect after a rain
See if you can schedule your home inspection right after it rains. Visiting at that time lets you and the inspector see if water accumulates around the foundation — a bad sign, as it can cause leaks and foundation problems.
Simply Restore A Laminate Countertop
Use a clean cloth wet with vinegar to help remove stains from any small scratches on the laminate countertop.
Use a wet cloth and a small amount of dishwashing liquid to remove any soil or residue from the entire surface of the laminate countertop.
Dry the countertop thoroughly with a clean, dry cloth.
Using a clean, dry cloth, vigorously rub a cleaner and polish made especially for fiberglass and acrylic surfaces onto the counter. Pay special attention to areas with scratches, stains or other discolorations.
Allow the cleaner to dry to a haze.
Using a second clean, dry cloth, buff the countertop to a shine.
Maximize Your Backyard Year-Round With An Outdoor Kitchen
Summer is the time for backyard BBQ’s and grilling; but a well designed outdoor kitchen should allow you to enjoy cooking outside beyond the summer months.
Although a simple and straightforward outdoor kitchen can be set up by a homeowner, designing a generous and powerful outdoor kitchen is best left to a professional. With so many different types of outdoor kitchens, designing the best kitchen for your family takes time to plan and may require permitting from the city. Regardless of whether you hire a pro or not, here are some expert tips to get your outdoor kitchen planning started.
Start from the ground up
Establishing the floor layout and material of your outdoor kitchen is key to building the foundation of your space. Be conscious of different weather climates that may occur as well as the overall weight of the appliances you are installing. Flooring such as tile or marble will be slick and slippery when wet and may not hold up to grease or food stains. If your outdoor space is on a deck consider re-staining or painting it to match the new renovations and ensure that the deck is in top condition. Proper flooring will not only complete the overall look, but add durability and value to the end product.
Pro tip: When building a project of this scale, keep in mind safety first. Very often the outdoor kitchen is located near wet surfaces like swimming pools and spa tubs. Choose materials that meet safety criteria, stay away from flooring that may be too slick or rugged, and select a material that can endure food spills and grease.
Location, location, location
Where you decide to place your outdoor kitchen depends upon several factors. Firstly, you’ll want to make sure that smoke from the grill doesn’t waft back into the home. So have a good idea of the general wind pattern in your yard and orient the grill appropriately. Secondly, if you frequently entertain, and don’t want to travel a long distance from the indoor kitchen to the outside, consider placing your grill and outdoor kitchen relatively near the entrance to the inside kitchen.
Your appliances will determine the kitchen size
The first question a professional outdoor kitchen designer will ask is what size appliances will you need and how many. Consider how all of these appliances will fit within the design plan, how much room to allow for each, and how they will work with each other. Leave enough space on either side of the grill to accommodate platters and tools, and don’t place appliances too close together. The same working triangle used in the kitchen should be applied to the outdoor kitchen as well, especially if you plan on hiring caterers or have more than one cook.
Choose reliable appliances
Many outdoor kitchens include a grill (both gas or charcoal), a sink, and a small refrigerator. Some kitchens even include specialty appliances like a beer tap, smokers, hibachi grills and warming drawers. Purchase appliances that will make it through both rain and sun. Stainless steel or ceramic appliances work great for all weather conditions, are very durable, and require low maintenance.
Have a place to set and store
Just like your indoor kitchen, you will need places to put items on and plenty of storage. The difference is they must all be waterproof and durable to temperature changes. Countertops and cabinets are designed to provide space and keep away clutter.
Add a touch of ambiance
Your outdoor kitchen serves as a place to enjoy cooking and eating food while entertaining family and guests. It’s an opportunity to enjoy the outdoor weather while having the comforts of your indoor space. Make sure you incorporate features that really make this space the center of your summer. Chairs, tables and decorative objects can complete the look, as will specialty lighting. When it comes to furniture, choose durable pieces with comfortable outdoor cushions.
Bring indoor comfort, and safety, outside
Weather can be a big issue when it comes to outdoor entertainment. Building a tall roof or pergola over your outdoor kitchen will allow you to enjoy cooking outdoors, even in the rain or extreme heat. You can incorporate different forms of shelter such as having a stone roof, or simply supplying patio umbrellas for coverage. Hot locations may want an overhead fan or mist sprays. Colder regions may want heat lamps, a fire pit or fireplace to warm up the area.
Lighting Your Entry Porch?
Where to start? For entryway lighting, start by measuring the height of your front door. Exterior lighting used to illuminate front door areas should be sized in proportion to the door itself.
Entryway Lighting: Sizing Guidelines: The most common error for entry outdoor fixtures is selecting lighting that is too small. Fixtures that are undersized will get lost when viewing the house at a distance. As a general rule of thumb, fixtures should be sized to measure 1/4 to 1/3 the height of the front door – keeping in mind that lanterns will appear about half the size 50 feet away. If you have two sizes of sconces or lanterns, the bigger of the two should be placed by the front door (with the smaller positioned by the garage door).
Entryway Lighting: Position Guidelines: In addition to size, the height of the fixture is another important consideration. As a general rule of thumb, outdoor entryway lights should be positioned at eye level. More specifically, the center of the light source should measure 5.5 to 6.0 feet from the ground. Fixtures also should be mounted 8-10 feet apart.