Should You Fix Up Your Home or Try to Sell It As Is?

Couple selecting paint colors
•••

You’re ready to list your home for sale…then you look around. Maybe you’ve spent time and money updating the exterior of the house but the interior is still in serious need of attention. Maybe there’s dry rot, or maybe it’s just outdated. 

What to do? Should you spend more time and money on fixing it up or just try to sell it as is? 

The Dilemma 

This is one of those questions where the answer depends on variables. What’s the condition of competing homes for sale? Is it a hot, cold, or neutral real estate market? What’s the likelihood of a return on your investment?

Many sellers put way too much money into fixing up their homes before listing them for sale. They repair flaws that a buyer might never notice or just won’t pay extra for.

Talk to your agent before making any repairs to weigh the pros and cons with your particular home and your personal situation. 

Selling a Home in “As Is” Condition

Let’s say that the property in question needs a lot of work. It has holes in the walls all the way to the exterior and urine-soaked wood floors. Much of the electrical system doesn’t work and the bathroom tub has fallen through the joists. All the faucets leak. 

This is not a home that can be easily or economically fixed. A coat of paint won’t help. In this case, you might want to just price the house low enough to attract multiple offers. You can probably anticipate that only contractors and flippers will make offers.

Do Homebuyers Want Fixer-Uppers or Fixed Up Homes?

Some homebuyers say they want to buy fixer-upper homes but they’re generally looking for those that require only light cosmetic repairs. Buyers who gravitate toward fixer-uppers are those who either don’t qualify to buy a more expensive home or they want to make a profit by fixing up the home themselves.

Most “fixer” buyers are willing to do simple repairs such as paint the walls, put in new carpeting, or replace light fixtures. They don’t want to rebuild a foundation or move walls.

Fixer-upper buyers will discount the price of the home to allow for the repairs then discount it a bit more for the inconvenience. Say a home is worth $100,000 fixed up but it needs a new roof. A new roof might be expected to cost $10,000. A buyer most likely will not offer $90,000 for this home. She could buy an identical home with a new roof for $100,000 and not have the hassle.

A buyer for this type of home might offer $75,000 or even less. The seller would be smarter to pay for a new roof and sell the home for $100,000 in this scenario. 

And keep in mind that many buyers will not buy a home that needs a new roof. They worry that the work involved will cost more than what they anticipate. Perhaps replacing the roof would involve tearing off the sheathing and repairing rafters which could add to the cost.

Most buyers want a home that’s in move-in condition. You can limit the number of buyers who might be attracted to your home by not making repairs.

Before Fixing Up Your Home

Smart sellers will weigh the cost of the proposed improvements against the home’s market value after the repairs or upgrades are completed. Such an improvement might not be warranted if an upgrade won’t return the investment. Before you decide to lift the roof and install skylights in the master suite, realize that kitchens and baths carry the highest return.

You might also want to take an afternoon off to tour other homes in the neighborhood of sale with your agent. Note the condition and amenities in these homes.

Compare them to yours. If most of them have upgraded kitchens, you should concentrate on fixing the kitchen. These homes are your competition. 

This doesn’t mean that you have to buy designer appliances and tear out the cabinets but a minor kitchen remodel might be a good investment. Sometimes simply painting oak cabinets a darker color and installing updated hardware can give your kitchen an all-new look.

Where to Start 

Make a list of everything that’s defective, broken, or worn out. Buyers might wonder what else in the home has been neglected if they spot problems or malfunctioning systems as they tour your home. 

Minimum improvements you might want to consider making before selling your home include patching holes and cracks in the walls and ceilings and fixing broken appliances and HVAC systems. Repair leaky faucets. 

Replace broken window glass and repair the roof if necessary. Change any dated light fixtures or ceiling fans. Fix code violations—any serious buyer is going to have the home inspected. 

Cosmetic Touches 

Replace worn or stained carpeting. Repaint dark or marred walls with neutral paint—not white. Replace old drapes and window coverings. 

Keep in mind that empty homes don’t show as well as furnished rooms, but battered furniture can detract from your home’s appeal. Consider upgrading your furniture if it’s in bad shape. You can always take it with you when you go. 

How to Paint a Brick Fireplace

white fireplace

If you’ve got a free afternoon, you’ve got time to give your brick fireplace surround a dramatic new look. All it takes is a little elbow grease, a few tools, and some fireplace paint. 

Before you take on this project, inspect your surround. While there are many things that can be included on an OK-to-paint list, most stone fireplaces—limestone, sandstone, river rock, for example—are less amenable and harder to change if you do paint them. A brick surround is the best bet. Then choose your color. A whitewash brick fireplace is a classic choice, but a black fireplace adds drama. Pick a color that matches the style of your home and the room’s decor. 

How to do it

STEP 1 Clean the Surface

To make sure your paint adheres and dries properly, you’ll need to thoroughly clean the brick. Use a wire scrub brush to remove any dirt or dust, then apply nonsudsy trisodium phosphate (also called TSP; wear gloves and safety goggles), and wash thoroughly with a heavy-duty cleaner. Rinse and let dry. Cover your floor with a drop cloth and tape off any areas you want to remain paint-free.

STEP 2Prime the Brick

A stain-blocking, oil-base primer protects your paint against future soot stains from fireplace use. Apply primer to the entire surface, following the manufacturer’s directions.

STEP 3 Paint the Brick

Once the primer is dry, it’s time to paint. Choose indoor, latex, heat resistant paint—either flat, semigloss, or gloss—rated to withstand temperatures generated by the fireplace (generally about 200°F) and a roller designed for textured surfaces. The latter helps cover the surface of the brick, which is likely not smooth. For any spots you can’t reach using a roller, touch up with a small paintbrush. Apply a second and third coat as needed, allowing plenty of drying time between coats.

What Is a Home Warranty Plan?

Home Warranty Plan
•••

A home warranty can provide peace of mind. The last thing a home buyer wants to worry about after closing is what could possibly break or malfunction in her new home. Since that can cover a multitude of items and systems, for peace of mind, it’s a good idea to get a home protection plan. It’s especially a good idea to obtain a home warranty if you’re a first-time home buyer with no experience maintaining a home.

Who Pays for the Home Warranty?

Now, whether the seller pays for the home protection plan and home warranty coverage or whether the buyer pays for it, will depend on your local customs. It varies. In many locales, it’s normal for a seller to pay for the coverage because it’s a seller benefit. Why? Because then the buyer won’t be calling the seller after closing if something breaks. Many real estate agents will also give buyers a home warranty as a gift at closing.

How Much Does a Home Warranty Cost?

They are fairly inexpensive, typically ranging from $300 to $500, depending on coverage. Home warranty companies sometimes run special sales and either discount policy prices or offer additional coverage for the same price. The policies are prepaid for a year in advance, at which time they expire and can be renewed by the homeowner at a slightly higher fee.

How Do They Work?

Although specific plans provide for specific types of coverage, most operate in a similar manner and contain common verbiage.

  • If a home system or appliance breaks or stops working, the homeowner calls the home warranty company.
  • The home warranty company calls a provider with which it has a business arrangement.
  • The specific provider calls the homeowner to make an appointment.
  • The provider fixes the problem. If an appliance is malfunctioning and cannot be repaired, depending on contract coverage, the home warranty company will pay to replace and install the appliance.
  • The homeowner then pays a small trade service fee for the visit (less than $100).

Types of Coverage

Because all plans differ, you will want to ask specifically what is covered. Ask your real estate agent if upgrades are available. Pay close attention to whether the home warranty company will pay for repairs to make certain types of systems or appliances compliant with new regulations.

What If I Disagree With the Outcome?

Sometimes a service provider will deny a claim. If that happens or if you are unhappy with the service provided, call your real estate agent and complain. Your real estate agent, if she has a good working relationship with the representative from the home warranty company that is covering your home, well, she can seek resolution for you. Agents all over the country might be very upset at this suggestion, but it works. If my client calls me with a problem, I call my home warranty rep, and she eventually finds a way to work out a solution acceptable to all the parties involved.

In short, don’t take “no” for an answer! Call your real estate agent. Your agent might have leverage.

What Is Not Covered?

  • Outdoor items such as sprinklers
  • Faucet repairs are not covered under all plans
  • Not all plans pay for refrigerators, washers & dryers or garage door openers
  • Spa or pools, unless specific coverage requested
  • Permit fees
  • Haul-aways
  • Items are broken prior to closing
  • Exclusions noted in the policy

What Can Cause a Denial of Payment?

This is the thing that upsets a lot of buyers after closing when they are denied services for a repair. Sometimes it can seem like the company is actively looking for a way not to reimburse the homeowner, and that assumption, at times, can be accurate.

  • Improper maintenance
  • Pre-existing condition disclosed in a home inspection
  • Code violations
  • Unusual wear and tear
  • Improper installation

General Coverage in a Home Warranty

  • Air conditioning
  • Dishwashers
  • Doorbells
  • Furnace / heating
  • Water heater
  • Ductwork (to code)
  • Garbage disposal
  • Inside plumbing stoppages
  • Ceiling fans
  • Electrical systems
  • Range and oven
  • Telephone wiring

Because the coverage for a home warranty plan can vary from state to state and from policy to policy, ask to see a sample copy of a policy before you commit. You will find some homeowners swear by a home warranty plan and others loathe them.

10 Ways to Know You Found the Right House

Couple Eating Takeout Meal at Their New House Next to Boxes
•••

It is normal to harbor fears about making the wrong decision when you’re looking at homes to buy. Many first-time home buyers wonder how they will know when they have found the right house.

If You Have Found the Right House, Can You Sleep On It?

Right now, you might be wondering how you will know that you have found the right house if you don’t sleep on it. What’s wrong with sleeping on it? Everything is wrong with sleeping on it. Trust yourself. Don’t second guess your instincts. Your instincts will not steer you in the wrong direction.

Have you heard the phrase: shuffle your feet, lose your seat?

You’re not the only home buyer looking for a house to buy with your specific criteria.

Somebody else could buy your house out from under you while you’re counting sheep. You might not know it, but there are other home buyers with similar intentions looking at homes today in the very neighborhoods where you want to buy.

The last thing you want to hear your buyer’s agent say is another buyer made an offer, and it was accepted minutes before your offer was submitted. Happens all the time, too. Unless you’re buying a brand new home, there is not another home around the corner just like the home that now you can’t buy. When you find that house, buy it.

10 Ways to Know You’ve Found the Right House
 

1) You Want to Go Inside the House

Part of the excitement of looking at homes is not knowing which could be your new home when you pull up to the curb. Is it the one on the left, or does the house on the right strike your fancy? If it is the house on the right, and you like it better than the house on the left, that could be a sign. It means there is something about this house that appeals to you. Curb appeal is talking.

2) The House Embraces You the Moment You Enter

Within three seconds of entering the house, you will know whether it feels warm and comforting. Does it seem to speak to you? Does the house invite you to explore? Does it feel, well… Right? Like home? Then it probably is.

3) You Don’t Feel Funny in the Bathroom

Sometimes buyers feel so uncomfortable near a bathroom that they won’t walk into the room. They are afraid to let their feet touch that bathroom floor. They will stand outside, grab the door frame, and poke their heads in for a minute. If you can walk into the bathroom and feel compelled to open the shower door or stroke the vanity marble, this is your house.

4) You Are Possessive About the House

Maybe your agent points out a flaw and says,”There is a stain in the kitchen sink,”and you want to slap them for saying something so mean about this house. You want to defend every flaw you see. If you even see the flaws, because right now, flaws do not matter. You’re falling in love.

5) You Begin to Envision the Furniture Arrangement

If you walk into the master bedroom and can immediately envision your bed against a particular wall, this might be your house. If you find yourself thinking that the living room window is a perfect spot to put a tree come Christmas, you’re already hooked.

6) You Can See Yourself Painting a Wall Your Favorite Color

Perhaps deep purple is not your favorite color. Maybe it’s blue. Maybe you’re thinking those purple walls in the kid’s room would look better in a pale blue jean color. You might even know the name of the paint color you plan to use because you’ve been thumbing through Pottery Barn catalogs and this home looks just like those.

7) The House Fits Your Basic Needs

The dynamics might not hit every bullet point on your list, but it meets the basic requirements. The house has the number of rooms and space you need. Maybe it doesn’t have a garage, and in a flash of enlightenment, you realize that buying a house with a garage is not important. Maybe you suddenly realize you could build a garage. Being flexible about which issues are deal-killers is a good quality to develop.

8) You Want to Stop Looking at Other Homes

All of the other homes you’ve been looking at no longer appeal to you. The homes on that list you’ve been carrying around seem insignificant. Moreover, the homes you had previously rated a No. 8 have now fallen to a No. 2 rating. The homes you have seen pale in comparison. You would feel like a traitor to this home if you went to visit other homes. This is it. I’m telling you.

9) You Can’t Wait to Brag About This House to Your Friends

It would not be unusual for you to snap a few photos to upload to Instagram before you’ve finished touring the home. You feel excited. The excitement seems to manifest itself. You shoot more photographs. Suddenly your phone is in burst mode, and before you realize it, you have hundreds of photos.

10) Every Thought in Your Mind Tells You to Buy That House

Except for that nagging little thought – that wonders if you should sleep on it – every other thought in your head says this is the perfect house for you. You are consumed. You can’t think about anything else apart from owning this house. Dinner? Who needs to eat? You need this house. You wonder if you should be committed or see a doctor. Yup, this is your house. Just do it.

7 Things That Won’t Increase Your Home Value

Modern backyard
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Homeowners often assume that upgrades and renovations always make their place more valuable and sellable. But many home improvements do not, in fact, add value to the home — and in some cases, could even act as a detriment if and when the property goes on the market. Here are the seven of the most common.

Extensive Professional Landscaping

You can build an entire amusement park in your backyard and it won’t bring you big bucks upon resale. If you want to put in a waterfall that cascades down into a Koi pond, for example, do it because you enjoy the water feature, not because you’re hoping to recoup the investment. Landscaping choices are a personal preference, and all the hand-crafted bridges and unique pergolas in the world won’t dramatically boost your bottom line.

Upgrading the Utilities

Although you may have paid thousands to install copper plumbing or replace the sewer or upgrade the electrical wiring from aluminum to Romex, it’s unlikely to bring you more dollars. These types of improvements are considered maintenance — and your neighbors probably made them years before you. Of course, getting everything state-of-the-art isn’t a bad idea: In certain quarters, that’s considered standard, and without it, you could take a hit when selling time comes. Just don’t think these upgrades let you mark up the price tag.

New Roof or HVAC

Some buyers in the marketplace appreciate a home that features a brand-new furnace or HVAC system, but they won’t pay extra for it. Ditto regarding a new roof: Replacing a roof past its average life expectancy of 30 years is considered a maintenance issue. It’s like expecting to get paid more because you swept off the front steps.

Swimming Pool or Personal Spa

The TV commercials for water-related improvements depict nonstop frolicking among kids in the pool (zero focus on drownings) or late-evening soirées in the hot tub sipping adult beverages. Sadly, though, the cost and expense of aquatic amenities never find their way back into your pocket. Many people won’t buy a home with a swimming pool; they don’t want to deal with the upkeep or safety issues. In fact, as part of negotiations, a buyer might insist that you tear out the pool or whirlpool. If you want to install a pool or spa, do it because you will enjoy it.

Making Dated Decor Changes

You might like white appliances or white ceramic counters, for example, but young home buyers do not. Those are no longer “in.” Same thing with carpeting, unless it’s exotic and high-end — and don’t even go down the road of gold-toned bathroom fixtures and door hardware. Even 12-inch-by-12-inch ceramic flooring has lost its appeal. The point is, don’t deliberately decorate in the latest style for resale reasons. Fashion just changes too fast.

Painting Your House

Although painting is the single most cost-effective improvement you can make before selling your home, it won’t return any bang for your buck unless you do the painting yourself. Fresh coats on the exterior or interior certainly make any home more saleable, but appraisers don’t boost your value because of them.

Solar Panels

Sure, the salespeople at the solar panel company tell you that installing solar panels will enhance your home’s value, but that’s just not true. It may be an admirable thing for the environment, but solar panels do nothing for the residence’s selling price. Moreover, if you have financed the solar panels, you probably can’t sell the home without paying off the balance at closing, something that often is not disclosed.

The Bottom Line

Some folks are devastated to find out that the improvements they invested in and perhaps borrowed money for not only do not improve the value of the property but might actually detract from it. Fortunately, while most of these enhancements won’t help you turn a bigger profit, they won’t hurt, either — and they might make it easier to sell your home by giving the buyer peace of mind. Just don’t confuse peace of mind with an elevated price tag.

Tile-Topped Stepping Stones

Mosaic Stepping Stone: Finished Project

These decorative steppers are always pretty to look at, but will get slippery when wet.

Before starting this project, you’ll need to break up flea-market plates or tiles for the mosaics of these colorful stepping-stones. To do this safely: Place tiles or plates in a shallow box and cover with a cloth to prevent shards from scattering. Wearing safety glasses and using a hammer or tile pincers, crack the ceramic into large pieces. Handle them carefully, they’ll be very sharp. For variety, use pebbles, shells, jewels, colored glass, or marbles for this project in place of the ceramic pieces.

See below for a materials list and complete instructions.

What You Need:

  • Plain precast concrete garden stone
  • Ceramic tiles or plates
  • Thin-set mortar
  • Poly-blend sanded tile grout (optional)
  • 3/16-inch-notch tile trowel
  • Large rubber spatula or rubber tile trowel
  • Hammer or tile pincers
  • Safety glasses
  • Large buckets; sponge
  • Heavy rubber gloves
  • Soft cloth
Mosaic Stepping Stone: applying mortar

Spreading mortar on cast concrete stepping stones.

1. Immerse a concrete stone in water to wet it thoroughly. Prepare thin-set mortar in bucket according to package directions (consistency should be similar to slightly runny peanut butter). Using notched trowel, spread a 1/4- to 1/2-inch layer of mortar onto part of stone.

Mosaic Stepping Stone: Assembling mosaic tile pieces

Setting tile pieces in wet mortar.

2. Arrange pieces as desired, pressing them lightly into the mortar and continuing across the stone. Add extra mortar under the pieces, as needed, to achieve a fairly even surface. Leave crevices between all pieces for grout. Clean excess mortar from the surface and let the stone dry overnight.

Mosaic Stepping Stone: pressing grout between mosaic tile pieces

Working mortar into gaps.

3. Mix grout according to package directions. Scoop a large amount onto the stone, using a spatula or trowel to spread it out and push it into gaps. Add as needed, removing excess as you go. Smooth grout on the sides of the stone as well. (Note: You may use mortar in place of grout.)

Mosaic Stepping Stone: cleaning off excess grout

Wiping excess mortar.

4. Using a wet sponge, clean excess grout from the sides of the stone. Wipe down the top, going over the surface in both directions and rinsing the sponge often. Repeat, taking care not to remove too much grout from the gaps. Let the stone dry 24 to 48 hours, then buff it with a soft cloth.

8 Natural Ways to Make Your Home Smell Amazing

1. Lemon and Rosemary

Lemon and Rosemary Room Scent

Leave your house smelling fresh and clean with this DIY all-natural room scent. This lemon and rosemary room scent is made with water, lemon, rosemary, and vanilla extract. And there’s no need to buy a new container to put it in — just use a Mason jar.

House of Hawthornes Tutorial

2. Lilac

Lilac Room Spray

Who doesn’t love the smell of lilac in May? You can have your home smelling like a spring breeze with this lilac room spray, which is made with water, vodka, and lilac oil.

At the Picket Fence Tutorial

3. Rosemary and Lavender Carpet Powder

Rosemary and Lavender Carpet Powder

Freshen your carpets naturally with this rosemary and lavender carpet powder. Just sprinkle the mixture of baking soda, dried rosemary, and lavender oil on your carpets, let it sit for 15-20 minutes, and vacuum it up for a fresh-smelling room.

By Brittany Goldwyn TutorialOUR BEST MAKEOVER PROJECTS

4. Spring Simmering Pot Recipes

Spring Simmering Pot Recipes

Simmering pot recipes are a natural way to add fragrance to your home. These premade spring simmering pot recipes are perfect for gift-giving. Or you could make some for yourself to have on hand.

Two Purple Couches Tutorial

5. DIY Plug-In Refill

DIY Plugin Refill

Don’t throw out your empty plug-in air fresheners. Instead, save some money and reuse the glass plug-in container. All you’ll need is some essential oil and water.

Mom 4 Real Tutorial

6. Cinnamon-Orange Air Freshener

Cinnamon Orange Air Freshener

Not a fan of smoky candles? Then this cinnamon-orange air freshener is for you. Made with water-absorbing polymer, cinnamon oil, orange oil, and water, this air freshener will have your house smelling like fall in no time.

Shaken Together Life Tutorial

7. Cranberry-Orange Stove-Top Potpourri

Cranberry Orange Stovetop Potpourri

Pantry items can be used to make all sorts of stove-top potpourris. But this cranberry-orange potpourri with cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, and rosemary gives a cozy and warm Christmas scent.

Liz Marie Blog Tutorial

8. DIY Reed Diffuser

DIY Reed Diffuser

Add fragrance to any room with an easy-to-make reed diffuser. All you’ll need is a glass container with a small opening, rattan reeds, alcohol, almond oil, and essential oil. Choose lavender oil for a fresh, calming scent for a common area or bedroom. Lemon essential oil is perfect for the kitchen.

Second-Level Home Additions

Ripping the roof off your house and adding a second story addition on top may sound like a drastic means of gaining space, but there are various situations in which a total home makeover makes sense. In some cases, second story addition plans could be a big money-saver; in others, the real payback is something you can’t put a price on: the ability to stay in the neighborhood you’ve lived in for years or to continue enjoying a setting that couldn’t be duplicated elsewhere. Keep reading to learn how to build a second floor on an existing house and the requirements and cost that come along with it.

home exterior

Three Second-Story Remodeling Options

There are at least four ways to expand vertically during your home renovation. How you go about your second story addition plans will depend on your preferences, foundation requirements for adding a second story, and building regulations.

  1. Build from scratch: One is to literally tear off the roof and build a whole new upper level from scratch. This is likely what you would do if you’re adding a second story to a ranch house.
  2. Replace roof: Another is to sever the existing roof around the edges and lift it off temporarily, then put it back in place after the new level has been framed in.
  3. Expand: The third tactic for your house addition is to expand an upper level out across an existing one-story section, such as a flat-roof garage or porch.
  4. Modular Designs: A modular second story addition is designed and built off-site and brought, fully built, to your existing home. It is often the quickest and most cost-effective way to add a second story to your home. 
pool and patio back yard exterior

Cost of Adding a Second Story

If you need to add a sizable amount of space (several rooms rather than just one or two) but are faced with a tight budget, adding up may be your smartest option. One reason your remodeling costs may be lower is that you won’t have to do any foundation work—one of the more costly portions of any remodeling project—because you’ll be building on your existing foundation. (You’ll need to have the foundation checked, however, to make sure it can support the additional weight.)

Second, you may be able to save a bundle on roof construction by lifting off the existing roof with a crane in one or two large sections and reinstalling it on the new second story. Renting a crane is expensive, but much cheaper than building a whole new roof from scratch.

Third, adding a new level that fits on top of your home’s existing footprint means you’ll double its square footage in a matter of days (the length of time needed to frame and “weather” in an upper level). After that, you can finish off the new space all at once or room by room, as your remodeling budget allows. And if you’re handy, you might be able to do most of this work yourself. If the new rooms are simple spaces and you use inexpensive finishes, the total second story addition cost for these types of house additions could be about half that of a conventional ground-level addition of the same size.

home exterior

Embrace Your Neighborhood

For many families, location is everything. As the country’s metro areas sprawl and the cost of buildable land skyrockets, the convenience and charm of a well-established neighborhood often become irreplaceable at any price. If you have little or no room to expand laterally but dread the idea of selling and hunting for a new neighborhood that feels just as homey, consider staying put and installing a second addition instead.

Even if your home remodeling plans are more elaborate than simply adding raw square footage as cheaply as possible, creating a much larger house within the same footprint can net considerable benefits—financial as well as personal. In highly desirable older neighborhoods, houses that doubles in size are likely to double—or triple—in home values much faster than those in some of the newer, less convenient areas.

This especially tends to be true of adding a second story to a ranch house and making a more substantial or striking architectural statement when viewed from the street. But often the intangible benefits are the real reward. How do you put a price on being able to look out your windows at the backyard where your children once played in the sprinkler, or at the huge shade tree you planted with your own hands when you first moved in? Or knowing that every time you go to the local market or drugstore, the shopkeepers will know you by name? A second story addition can secure that for you. 

new home addition on red brick home in country

More Reasons for a Second-Floor Addition

When creating your home remodeling plans, remember that adding a second story makes sense if your lot is small and you want to preserve as much open space outdoors as possible for gardening, outdoor living, or simply an adequate sense of separation from neighbors. Or your yard may include some landscape features you don’t want to give up, such as a grand old shade tree, a tall hedge, or a picturesque wisteria-draped pergola.

If your family is experiencing growing pains, adding up with house additions is a good way to create extra privacy for the kids or for Mom and Dad. It’s also an opportunity to give the main floor some extra stretch by making the walls several inches taller before adding the new level, and by merging or annexing smaller rooms that will no longer be needed for sleeping downstairs when the new upstairs is done.

  1. Avoid awkward massing. Doubling the height of a plain, rectangular house can create a boxy effect. Offset it with roof pitches, overhangs, porches, and trim details.
  2. Deal with height restrictions. Local building codes may restrict the height of ridgelines for houses in your neighborhood. Check with your city officials before you draw up the plans.
  3. Provide adequate structural support. Some types of house foundations can’t support a multilevel structure, so you should always check the foundation requirements for adding a second story. Also, rafters in a one-story house usually aren’t strong enough to double as floor joists for a second story. Have a structural engineer evaluate your home’s foundation and framing before you begin planning the new level.
  4. Avoid awkward fenestration. Window size, shape, and placement in the new second story should coordinate with the existing story so openings line up or form pleasing patterns on each exterior wall from top to bottom.
  5. Maintain pleasing proportions. Skimpy proportions that are unnoticeable on a small one-story house often become detracting when such a house doubles in size. Keep the individual elements of your house—such as windows, trim, eaves, shutters, columns, and dormers—in proportion with its new overall size by beefing them up or giving them extra visual emphasis (accent colors, contrasting finishes, etc.).

7 tips for getting your home ready for the festive season

Prepping for the season of entertaining and parties need not be stressful with these easy tips for each area of the house:

Red Print for Table Decor

1.       The façade
·         Decorative lights are a huge part of getting the home all dressed up, so clean them, check for dead batteries, fused bulbs or
           tangled strings

Facial Tissues for Bathroom

·         Get windows washed and outdoor houseplants spruced up as the lights will draw attention to them

Home Décor Accessories

·         Put a cheerful wreath on the door or hang some elegant silver bells to make the doorway welcoming

Outdoor Furniture for Home Decor

2.       The deck or patio
·         If you’re planning to have a barbeque or serve cocktails outside, dust off the outdoor furniture and check if they need any repairs

·         Invest in a few trolleys for drinks and food. These leave tables free for guests to dine on and you can place pretty centerpieces on
           them as well

3.       Living room
·         The tree is usually the focal point of the room so decorate that in a style to match the rest of your home. Leave room around it for

           people to walk up to it and admire the baubles and tree hangings. Bind trailing wires to avoid any tripping or fire hazards

·         Knitted throws and plenty of cushions in cheery colours or glittery fabric can add warmth to the seating area

·         A couple of shaggy rugs in deep shades are perfect for guests to sink their feet in

4.       Dining room
·         A table runner either in red checkered fabric or a tartan print creates the right setting for your party spreads. Fat glitter-covered

          candles and painted white pinecones complete the picture

·         Ensure you have enough glassware, crockery and cutlery to spare. If your sets are short of a couple of items, mixing and matching
           different sets can be both practical and appear whimsical

·         Pick a couple of vintage or heritage pieces and use these as centerpieces to serve your signature dishes or the piece de resistance
          of the celebration meal

·         Printed napkins with Christmas motifs or napkin rings fashioned out of green twine can be a playful touch

·         Give the bar a quick onceover to see if anything needs restocking. Ensure you have a good ice bucket and tongs

5.       Kitchen
·         Check inventory of all pots, pans, ladles, dishes and trays required as soon as you decide the menu

·         For leftovers, organise microwave safe containers for the fridge or eco-friendly disposable ones for guests to take away

6.       Guest rooms
·         When parties run late, some guests who live far away or are visiting from out of town may wish to spend the night. Keep extra

           pillows, sheets and duvets ready for such a situation

·         Stock the closet with hangers for their clothes and perhaps keep a freshly laundered bathrobe along with the towels.

7.       Washrooms
·         These should have facial tissues and moisturiser besides the mandatory stock of toilet paper, soap and hand towels. Ensure a

           diffuser for a fresh fragrance

·         A small basket of potpourri on the window sill or a little red and green poinsettia on a shelf seamlessly completes the Christmas
           look

5 new year resolutions for the home

The New Year always makes us hope for better things, whether that’s our health or the state of our bank balance. This year, we decided it is time to turn some of that attention homewards. Read through our list of new year resolutions that will ensure your home is a happy space that you love coming back to.

Kitchen Supplies Regularly

1.    I shall declutter my home 
There are many proven benefits to decluttering your home. Marie Kondo, who sparked off a decluttering revolution with her philosophy of ‘Less is more,’ is our idol in that department. But just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, Marie Kondo’s methods cannot be implemented in one single day; she suggests tackling one category at a time, spread out over a period that you find comfortable.

You can read Marie Kondo’s exclusive interview with Beautiful Homes on tips to organise your wardrobe here.

Laundry at the Weekend

2.    I shall put things away in their proper place 
This sounds obvious but all of us are guilty of letting things pile up around the house. We mean to pick them up but never get around to it. So when the weekend shows up, you spend all your time organising and sorting out the home.

Declutter Your Home

 

3.    I shall review kitchen supplies regularly 
How many of us have come back from the grocery store with a big bag of supplies and then watched them slowly go past their ‘Best By’ date, right there, sitting in our kitchen cabinets? Cleaning out your pantry once a month is a good idea.

Paperwork Filing

4.    I shall file paper bills away on time
Most of us struggle with the task of keeping paper bills and tax related documents properly organised. A good tip is to organise bills every month and file them accordingly. This helps during the year end when you are filing taxes.

5.    I shall not pile up laundry for the end of the week
It’s tempting to let your laundry pile up during the week but let’s be honest- the task of dealing with a whole week’s worth of laundry in one go is just not ideal. It helps to break up laundry time into a twice a week routine at least.