Hot Summer Entertainment Around Phoenix

As the days lengthen and the temperature climbs, it’s time to ring in the lazy days of summer. But if you’re local to Phoenix (or just in for a visit), you might find yourself retreating anywhere with air-conditioning to escape the blazing Arizona heat. Some may love the desert heat, others might prefer their fun in the shade, rather than the sun. Luckily, Phoenix not offers only activities for the whole family, but plenty of things to do both inside and outside. Even if you’re not a fan of the triple-digit dry heat, you and your family won’t be in danger of boredom.

Spend a Day on Saguaro Lake

What’s the best way to beat the heat? Getting wet and wild—whether at the Wet N Wild Water Park, or elsewhere—usually helps. If you’re looking to cool off with a swim minus the lines, Saguaro Lake might be your top choice. While there are quite a few lakes in around the Phoenix metro area, Saguaro Lake boasts gorgeous desert scenery and lakeside views (including several of the Saguaro cacti that give it its name). Boating and kayaking rental deals, waterskiing and fishing are all on offer, though for folks who prefer to kick back a little more, the sights might best be enjoyed by river cruise.

Hike Camelback Mountain

Outdoor adventurers and aspiring wilderness experts will make a beeline for the mountain with one of the highest peaks in Phoenix, Camelback Mountain. Rising roughly 2,700 feet above Phoenix’s city skyline, the mountain’s spectacular summit provides some of the most panoramic views of the city and surrounding landscape you’ll find—plus, the 1.2 mile Echo Canyon Trail is no beginner’s trek (it might as well be the place where the term “uphill battle” was coined). For families with small children or for beginning hikers, easier trails etch the mountain side, but be sure to bring plenty of water.

Explore Phoenix’s Museums (and Indoor Playgrounds)

Some days, you and your family might find yourself looking to retreat, rather than beat, the heat. Luckily, Phoenix’s many museums and indoor play centers provide recreation and fun for the whole family. Visit Makutu’s Island for an indoor play adventure featuring a giant oak tree full of mole holes, tunnels and 35-ft slide, or cool off in the summer sunshine with a trip to one of the city’s many water parks. Explore over 300 interactive exhibits in the Arizona Science Center, or spend a day getting cultured at the Musical Instrument Museum.

Go Salt River Tubing in Tonto National Forest

What better way to cool off than tubing in one of the nation’s largest national forests? You can take a journey to Tonto National Forest for a weekend of camping and tubing, or make it a day trip with a bus ride to one of the river’s three drop off points. Parents can crack a cold one or two on the ride, and kids will get time to splash, play and cool off.

Take a Trip Back in Time at the Goldfield Ghost Town

If your kids are looking to pan for gold with prospectors, watch gunslingers face off in the central square, or explore the recesses of an abandoned mine, you and your family can’t miss the old ghost town just by the Superstition Mountains. The abandoned mining town has been converted into an Old West attraction, complete with rides, reenactments, a historic museum and plenty of Western adventure–even a mysterious shack where lamps hang from the ceiling from 45 degree angles, and water runs from faucets seemingly disconnected from any water pipes.

By: Jeremy Alderman, ZOG Digital

Common Mistakes People Make When It Comes to Home-Buying

No matter the age or life stage, everyone makes mistakes when it comes to home-buying. Certain age groups are more susceptible to particular missteps than others. Here are common mistakes homeowners make at each age, and a few ways to avoid them.

20s: Getting the Wrong Type of Mortgage

People in their 20s are just starting their careers and usually have less money saved than older homebuyers. For these folks, paying less for a mortgage is not just a priority, but a necessity. This can be a bad thing if buyers get into an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) thinking they will earn more money down the road, but if that doesn’t happen and interest rates go up in five to seven years, they’re going to see their mortgage rates double or even triple. Before leaping into an ARM with just a dream of a house and a hope for a bigger paycheck, consider other cost-saving alternatives.

Along with popular programs like FHA loans and VA loans, there are other lesser-known initiatives geared to homebuyers on a fixed income, for example home-buying assistance for law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and pre-kindergarten through 12th grade teachers. Along with federal money, there are also state-sponsored grants for first-time homebuyers, which you can typically find on your state’s website.

30s: Not Thinking About the Future

Homebuyers in their 30s blunder by not considering a future family when they’re standing in the middle of downtown condo with gorgeous views and access to a rooftop pool. While snagging the ultimate bachelor or bachelorette pad might seem alluring, it can also cost you money down the road. If you plan on having a family, it’s important to consider that when you’re home shopping, even if you’re currently single. Ask yourself these questions before buying a home:

  • Who do I imagine living with in the future?

  • Where do I imagine living?

  • How do I imagine living?

Those answers should be an integral part of what you look for in a home. For example, if you think you might want kids or even a dog, you’ll probably want to choose a home with a backyard versus one near a great nightlife.

40s-50s: Overestimating Your Budget

In your 40s and 50s, you tend to have more money, which can lead to overestimating your budget and buying a house you can’t afford. One way to avoid this is to figure out your lifestyle comfort level. Figuring out your budget is a critical step for buyers of all ages. Even experienced homebuyers can make the mistake of spending at their limit, which can mean making sacrifices that they weren’t prepared to make. The takeaway for buyers in their 40s and 50s is to leave room in the budget for things they aren’t willing to give up—for example, private school for the kids.

60s and up: Falling in Love With That Vacation Home

Many homeowners in their 60s are retired or getting ready to retire. Among the many decisions retirees make is where to live. While some choose to stay where they are, many plan on moving to warmer climates, or even another country. However, Relocating and buying a home is an expensive process, so retirees should be sure they familiarize themselves with a new place before buying.

Before buying a new house in your vacation paradise, be sure to visit the area in every climate. For example, Florida is great in the winter, but many people might not be comfortable in the humid summer months. The same goes for Northern areas—what’s blissful in one season can be awful in another.

Source: RisMedia and Bankrate.com

Safety Tips For Your Home When Going On Vacation

Among the fastest ways to kill a post-vacation buzz is returning home and discovering your house is in shambles. Maybe a water pipe broke and now you’re trudging through ankle-deep sludge. Perhaps a burglar slipped inside, ransacked the place and gallivanted away with your most valued possessions. Or it could be that you forgot to clean out the fridge before leaving, and now mold has infested every nook and cranny. Just like it’s important to shop for an excellent vacation deal, it’s crucial to make sure returning from that well-earned trip isn’t a headache or disaster. Here are six easily-skipped steps to keep in mind while you’re planning that enticing itinerary.

Of Course Somebody is Home

Hiring a house or pet sitter is the best method to ensure your home stays just like you left it. House sitters can vary from a trusted friend or family member, to somebody who is a professional. Typically a house sitter will take care of any pets you’re leaving behind, water plants, collect the mail and sometimes other small tasks. It’s challenging to trust somebody enough to be in your home for days on end, but their presence ensures burglars avoid your place and that your appliances and utilities don’t decide to take a vacation of their own.

Celebrate on Social Media After the Trip

Booking a vacation is exciting. It’s a break from the daily grind, and that’s often something we want to share with our friends, family and acquaintances via social media. But you should probably hold off on announcing to the whole Internet that your home is vacant and ripe for the picking. Websites like Facebook and Twitter make it easy for complete strangers to gather your personal information and then find out where you live with a quick online search.

If you can’t help yourself from announcing the trip and posting photos, then do yourself a favor and greatly restrict who can see and share the information. The same plan of action holds true for automatic email responses and voicemail systems. The rule of thumb is that if you’re not comfortable with somebody being in your house when you’re not there, then don’t tell them – even indirectly – that you’re heading off on some sweet adventure. Scoundrels might seize that announcement as an open house invitation, and you might return to an open front door.

Burning the Midnight Oil

Casing a house is a common tactic for many home invaders. They spend days – sometimes even weeks – monitoring when you’re home, what rooms you’re in, what you’re doing and who you’re with. They’ll know your daily habits better than you do. The best way to thwart these folks is to make sure it genuinely looks like somebody is home. Set up an app-controlled light timer. You can even set up a timer-controlled power supply to stereos or TVs. But don’t keep the same timer settings day by day. Vary when lights come on, which rooms they pop on and for how long everything is running. Also be sure to use compact fluorescent light bulbs to save electricity and your energy bill.

Lock it Down, Regardless of Where You Live

It’s oddly common that in small, homey towns where “everybody knows each other” folks leave their homes and cars unlocked. If you’re involved with this mindset, then you may very well leave your door unlocked during an extended absence. And unlocked doors are the biggest “burglarize me” signals out there. More than 30 percent of home burglaries happen from an unlocked entrance. Don’t be the person who forgot to close and lock the windows or sliding glass door. Put a dowel rod behind any type of sliding entrance, and be sure to lock the deadbolt. It’s easy to prevent an easy crime.

This Needs Power, This Doesn’t

Imagine how devastating it feels to show up back home after your trip and discover a charred pile of rubble where your home once stood. Let that feeling sink in for a few moments, and then take a look around at what electronics and appliances you currently have plugged into the wall throughout your home. A power outage or surge could trip these devices and cause a fire if the device isn’t plugged into a surge protector or turned off. Now since you’re leaving certain electronics on timers to discourage home invasions, make sure what you do leave plugged in is plugged into a surge protector. You can group electronics and appliances close together to limit the number of protectors you’ll need to buy.

Otherwise, think about how much energy appliances like your refrigerator, water heater or climate control require and consume. If you don’t have plants, animals or open food, then you can pretty much turn off your climate control depending on what the outside weather is like. Set your water heater to vacation mode to reserve energy consumption. And last, either remove perishables from the fridge, turn it off and open the door to prevent mildew, or make sure the appliance is completely full of non-perishable items. If you have empty space then fill jugs of water there to insulate your fridge and lower energy consumption.

Finally, if you’re off on an adventure during the winter, ask a trusted neighbor, friend or family member to come by and run the facet for about 5 minutes every day or two. If your pipes are properly insulated, this should help prevent them from freezing over or breaking.

A Tidy Home is a Lived in Home

The final step that is extremely easy to skip on longer or seasonal trips is how your home looks. Sure, you have lights popping on and off at random times, but is your yard unkempt? Are mail flyers, newspapers and packages creating the next great pyramid on your doorstep? These are signals to anybody paying attention that you’re not home. Either stop packages, the newspaper and your mail from being deposited, or get somebody you trust to pick everything up for you. Plus if you’re leaving in the winter and it snows, make sure they shovel your driveway or sidewalk.

Source: Realty Times

How to Hire a Home Contractor: Tips and Best Practices

A home construction or renovation disaster can easily happen if you hire the wrong contractor. We’ve all heard the horror stories about contractors who don’t show up to the job site, spring unfair fees on you at the last minute or can’t seem to finish the project anywhere near the deadline. To keep yourself safe from these types of situations, it’s important to follow certain guidelines when hiring a contractor. Keep reading for tips and best practices for hiring a contractor.

  1. Seek multiple bids — We recommend that you obtain at least three bids from different contractors.

  2. Hire only a licensed contractor — Check the Arizona State Contractors License Board to ensure that your contractor is licensed and in good standing.

  3. Hire insured contractors — Always insist upon a certificate of insurance for general liability insurance. Uninsured workers who are injured on the job may file damage claims against the homeowner.

  4. Get references — It’s a good idea to obtain references from the contractor’s previous customers. You may also want to consult third-party review resources such as the Better Business Bureau or Yelp before making a final selection.

  5. Financing — Ask your contractor about available financing options.

  6. Never sign a contract under pressure — Insist on at least 48 hours to study any contract.

  7. Get a thorough written contract before any work begins — Any work valued over $500 requires a contract. In the contract, be sure to specify the start and completion dates of the job and insist on a progressive payment schedule specifying exact costs. For your protection, you may want to invest another few hundred dollars to have an attorney review your contract. Be sure to require that all change orders must be in writing.

  8. Never pay cash — Pay by check or credit card.

  9. Pay as you go — To start a job, never pay more than 10% down or $1,000—whichever is less. Hold back 10% on the final payment until after the entire job is complete and has been inspected by the proper authorities. Never pay for work before it is done.

  10. Keep a job file — Put receipts, permits, plans and anything else pertaining to your job in the file.

For more tips and advice about home renovation and construction projects, feel free to give us a call today.

Source: https://energycenter.org

6 Ways to Improve Your Home Gym Experience

For many, resistance is more than an elastic band used to build muscle. It’s a very real force that keeps us stationary and out of the gym. During this time of inertia, resistance gets stronger, and we get softer, in the literal sense.

A good solution to the home gym struggle? Add a little inspiration. Here are some popular ways to make your home gym more inspiring.

1. Change your perspective from the equipment. If your view from the seat of the stationary bike or treadmill has been the same since you set up your gym, move the machinery, or weights, around the room to form a new arrangement. Add a view of some sort. Even if you have a window or glass wall to gaze at, a new focal point will keep your eyes and mind occupied. This tactic is especially poignant for those of you training for a race or event. Find a picture of a finish line or your upcoming race route and use that image to keep you motivated throughout your workout.

2. Think minimalistic. It’s so easy to get distracted during a workout — ooh, I should read that book! Fend off potential distractors by removing them entirely. There are plenty of opportunities to go decor-wild in your home, but leave your fitness area simple.

3. Make space for movement. Forgive me, this may be obvious, but: Fitness takes space. All that lunging, vinyasa flow-ing, and running in place means you need at least a few free feet in every direction. After all, what’s fun about hitting your head on your coffee table while doing push-ups? (Hint: nothing)

4. Phone a friend for some company and accountability. Make a date with a workout partner and stick to it. This strategy is especially powerful when your friend is at a fitness level that you seek to attain. Conversations flow, ideas are exchanged and the time quickly passes with your buddy on board. Plus, their new energy livens up your workout zone.

5. Get visual with inspirational videos or training sessions. YouTube has millions of fitness videos you can use as prompts or inspiration to reach new levels. Take your pick from all the yoga, Pilates and Zumba options available online. It’s free, so if you try it and hate it, all you will have lost is a few minutes of your time.

6. Shake your tail feathers! Exercise doesn’t have to occur on a machine that counts calories or output levels. Get back to basics and dance your way into a new groove. Dance is fun, freeing and expressive. It also gets you in touch with your body through muscle control and balance. Plus, as the saying goes, “Dance like nobody’s watching,” and here’s your chance.

Use these tips when revamping your home gym; doing so will give you a whole new perspective on the way you exercise.

How to Choose the Best Outdoor Patio Furniture for Arizona?

Selecting the best patio furniture for your Arizona home takes consideration beyond aesthetic appeal. It is important to make decisions based on functionality and compatibility with the elements. Living in Arizona, you want to make sure you pay close attention to the types of materials that could withstand serious heat, blazing sun and regular dust.

So, what is the most durable outdoor furniture for the Arizona climate? Keep reading to find out.

Wood

No matter what type of wood you choose, it will not absorb the heat. When it comes to wooden patio furniture, you can choose from teak, cedar, pine or eucalyptus. Teak is considered the best option and can last for up to 50 years. It is a strong hardwood, difficult to mar. It also has an attractive finish and can withstand most weather conditions.

Keep in mind: Wood typically is heavier than other patio materials, so it will take a little more effort to rearrange. It is also more expensive than most other materials.

Cast Aluminum

Although this material is lightweight, it is durable and does not rust or fade in the harsh Arizona sun. It is also cost effective as it requires little maintenance.

Keep in mind: Cast aluminum patio furniture absorbs heat when under the sun, so you will have to be mindful before sitting.

Resin Wicker

Made from synthetic materials that are UV-resistant, this option is very unlikely to fade or crack. Resin wicker patio furniture is durable yet lightweight, and does not absorb heat, so you can sit without hesitation. The Convene Patio Dining Set is a great example.

Keep in mind: It is important to purchase high-density polyethylene over PVC materials, otherwise the durability standard is lowered.

Recycled Plastic

This is another affordable lightweight option that requires little maintenance and is very easy to clean. Plastics are available in many colors, which is ideal when you need to match a particular palette. You can also find plastic patio furniture that resembles wood or wicker.

Keep in mind: Regardless the quality of plastic, it can crack and fade easily. It may also break over time under sun exposure.

Wrought Iron

This durable material is ideal for withstanding all weather, especially the Arizona heat. It is also very sturdy, so it will last longer and stay put during windy monsoons or dust storms. Wrought iron patio furniture is available in many styles, and because most include a cushion for comfort, it can easily be adapted to fit your outdoor décor.

Keep in mind: This is a heavier material, so if you like to rearrange often, make sure you’re aware of its weight. If the wrought iron patio furniture you buy is not powder-coated, you may need to coat with a rust-proofing agent.

Outdoor Pillows and Cushions

The colorful toppings we add to our outdoor furniture is what makes the entire area come to life. These items are much more fragile and affected by sun exposure and moisture, so it’s even more important to choose your patio cushions wisely. The most common materials of outdoor patio pillows you should be aware of are:

  • Solution-dyed acrylic: Created with high process standards, this material is made to last. Although acrylic patio cushions are more expensive, they are less likely to fade and are easy to spot clean.

  • Cotton canvas (duck cloth): This is your more affordable option, which means it isn’t as resistant to the elements. Cotton patio pillows can be replaced easily though, due to their low prices.

  • Vinyl fabric: This material comes in second behind solution-dyed acrylic as far as strength, flexibility and durability. It is easy to clean and does not fade easily. It may, however, become sticky or cause sweatiness since it is made from plastic.

 Source:  Phoenix Furniture Outlet

Why Peel-And-Stick wallpapers are the Nº1 hack for your home right now

Traditional wallpaper has a bad reputation for being difficult to apply and even harder to remove. That’s why many houses look dated; they still have stubborn wallpaper from the ’80s that won’t budge! In response, the temporary wallpaper trend has taken off. It gives renters and homeowners the ability to experiment with different styles but not be tied down to one look. In many cases, temporary wallpaper is also reusable.

If you are a renter, temporary wallpaper allows you to cover those bland, white walls with something more personal and homey. And you won’t get fined for changing the walls when you move, because the wallpaper comes off easily.

Temporary wallpaper is also a great option if you don’t plan on staying in your home forever. If you plan to sell your home down the road, choose temporary wallpaper so that when it comes time to put your home on the market, you can strip it away to create a more basic look that will appeal to more people.

Other uses of temporary wallpaper include in vacation homes (you could decorate your walls with a seashell design), nurseries, guest rooms or even a dorm room.

You have many options when it comes to choosing where to purchase temporary wallpaper. Various companies offer a range of designs to fit your individual style. Check out these six great sources.

Swag Paper

Swag Paper has a great selection of temporary wallpaper, from vintage maps to classic ikat patterns. Check out their inspiration gallery of photos from real users of Swag Paper to get ideas for your own home.

Wayfair

Wayfair, known for their array of affordable home goods and furniture, has an equally extensive selection of temporary wallpaper at great prices. Check out designs such as birch trees, bricks, arrowheads, peony flowers and more.

The Wall Sticker Company

This site allows you to upload your own images to create custom temporary wallpaper. Or browse their many categories, such as teens, nursery, maps and more.

Spoonflower

Spoonflower offers various tools to help you create custom wallpaper designs. You can upload your own images and make use of their color map and guide or test out their products with a sample pack of creative wallpaper swatches.

Blik

Not only does Blik offer temporary wallpaper, but they also carry fun wall decals and stickers if you don’t want to commit to redoing the entire wall space. Check out their dry-erase notepad decal here!

Easywallz

Browse Easywallz for temporary wallpaper that fits your home or office. They have an extensive collection of murals, door murals and table wraps, or you can create your own collage.

Temporary wallpaper is a great way to infuse your home with personal style and creativity. Contact The Aladin Group today for more easy ways to give your home a stylish upgrade.

Things to Know About Buying a Second Home

If you’ve been thinking about buying a second home, now is a good time to take the leap. With homebuyers enjoying an advantage in many markets, now may be the time to buy that second home. But there are some vital things to do before you start shopping. Follow these steps to make buying a second home a smooth process:

The best way to start the search for a second home is to find a real estate agent who is familiar with your desired location. Please don’t hesitate and call us! The Aladin Group can provide you not only information about neighborhoods, but also about market prices and the pros and cons of particular properties.

With an eye toward the long-term value of a property, we can fill you in on price histories and how comparable sales have fared, and resale prospects. Factors that tend to help properties hold or increase in value are proximity to a major metropolitan area, ease of access and the availability of year-round amenities.

Evaluate your needs and long-term goals.

Be realistic about what type of second home suits your lifestyle. If you’re looking for a weekend getaway, staying within a day’s drive of your primary home could be a good move. If you’d like your second home to someday serve as a retirement spot, assess the home’s accessibility and check out health care services in the area.

Decide what type of home is right for you.

Think about how much time you’re willing to devote to maintenance when deciding between a condo and a single-family home. Condos are a good choice for buyers who only plan to use their homes occasionally and don’t want to deal with year-round maintenance. But if you don’t want to sacrifice privacy, stick with a single-family home.

Be sure you can afford two mortgages. You have to qualify for a second-home mortgage, which is on top of any mortgage debt on your primary home.

Typically, you will need to make a down payment of at least 10 percent, meet credit standards and debt-to-income requirements, and provide documents for income and asset verification.

If you have a good relationship with the mortgage lender on your primary residence, that might be a good place to start your quest for a second-home mortgage. If you don’t have a good mortgage lender yet, we can connect you with the best lenders we have worked with over the years.

Factor in additional costs. Today’s second-homebuyers are more interested in enjoying their properties rather than getting a quick return on their investment.

Still, you should consider that you will be away from the property a lot of the time, which usually entails additional costs, such as having a management company check the place in your absence for water leaks, frozen pipes and other problems.

Getting insurance for a second home may be more challenging than it is for a primary residence. If you are considering a second home on the beach, for example, you’ll need flood insurance in addition to regular home insurance. It has become more difficult to get flood insurance in coastal communities, and the cost has increased greatly in some markets.

Take into account the tax implications of your purchase. If you use your home as a true second home, you could get a deduction for mortgage interest and property taxes, just as you do with your first-home mortgage.

Be aware that under the new federal tax law, the cap to the mortgage interest deduction will be lowered from $1 million to $750,000. So if you already have a $750,000 mortgage and get a loan for a vacation home, you won’t be able to deduct the interest on the second mortgage.

If you rent out your second home, you will have to consider additional tax ramifications, particularly if the rental period extends beyond 14 days a year.

No matter if you plan to buy a second home or if you are a first time home buyer – please reach out to us at 480-359-6789 and we will sit down with you and guide you through the home buying process!

Source: Bankrate.com

How To Find The Right Neighborhood For You

If you’re starting a family, you might want to consider a neighborhood known for its good schools. Or, if your children have graduated, you might feel that it’s time for a change of scenery. Perhaps your company has moved and you want to be closer to work. Lots of your priorities may have changed over the years. Here are seven ways to evaluate whether or not a neighborhood is a good fit.

1. Time The Commute To Your Job

Perhaps you have been spending hours stuck in traffic to and from work and are looking for a much shorter commute. Just because a neighborhood is closer does not mean that you will get there faster. Time the commute from the different neighborhoods you are considering.

2. Meet The Neighbors

Want to get a feel for the neighborhood? Talk to the neighbors. Just by walking around the neighborhood you’ll get a vibe, helping you determine whether it’s the right place for you. Are the people a little standoffish? Are they hesitant to make eye contact with you? Are people friendly and neighborly? Maybe a little too friendly? Take a walk around and strike up a conversation with your potential future neighbors to get a feel for the community.

3. Go For A Walk And/Or Drive Around The Neighborhood

One of the best ways to pick the right neighborhood is to take your time walking around. Go for a walk and/or drive through the neighborhood on the weekend and on weekdays. Do the same thing at different times of the day. Note where there are areas that look a little unsafe or dilapidated. How will that affect your quality of life there?

4. Attend A Local Festival Or Event

Kill several birds with one stone by attending a local event or festival. You’ll meet people from the neighborhood and get a sense of the type of community that it is. Is it tight-knit? Young? Old? A little too country? Local events can tell you a lot about the spirit of a neighborhood.

5. Go Out To Eat At A Local Hot Spot

While you’re checking out properties, go to a popular eatery in the neighborhood. Check out the vibe and take note of people’s behavior. Do they look at you suspiciously? Is the customer service lousy? Are diners happy? You can glean a lot about a neighborhood by simply people-watching.

6. See A Play Or Game At A Local School

If you have kids, the quality of the local schools in your neighborhood may be priority No. 1. Before you buy a house and enroll the kids, visit the school. Go to a school play or watch one of the school’s sports teams to get a feel for the level of community support for the school’s art and athletic programs.

To ensure you find the best neighborhood for your lifestyle, give The Aladin Group a call today and we’ll help you navigate the home-buying process.

Source: https://bit.ly/2vGU3kD

How To Prepare For The Unknown When Buying A Home

“You never know what’s behind the walls.” This renovation mantra is so important and should be tattooed on the forearm of everyone about to embark on renovation or even small updates to their home. Before you get started on renovations, protect yourself by taking a few key steps.

Load-bearing walls

Many times a renovation has gone off the rails because a load-bearing wall made it difficult and expensive, or darn near impossible, to move. While you may not be able to eliminate every potential surprise, you can give yourself a leg up by hiring a professional to take a look before you buy, and certainly before you swing the hammer.

“An experienced general contractor can do an initial consultation and assess your wall for as little as $100,” builder Jeff Andreson told Houzz. An architect is another possibility because they may approach the situation differently, which could save you money. “A structural engineer may also be required,” and is often your best bet for achieving peace of mind.

Plumbing

“Homebuyer inspections are the rule these days,” said Angie’s List. “Sometimes plumbers are called in to do a more thorough follow up inspection. Unfortunately, this often happens after the home has already been purchased.”

And the issues can be costly. Hiring a plumber to check everything out before you purchase could uncover problems throughout the house, from the main sewer line to water heaters that could cause extensive damage if they leak or burst, to leaky toilets. “One problem homeowners often neglect to have fixed is a leak at the base of a toilet,” they said. “The leak often appears small or insignificant, but over time the water will begin to rot the subfloor and even get between the subfloor and the finished floor. Someone unaware of the damage this kind of problem can create, may try to seal this themselves, sometimes making it worse.”

Foundation

If you have a home inspection, which you obviously should ALWAYS do, your inspector will look for signs of foundation damage. But, there are things you can look for ahead of the inspection that may impact your decision to purchase, such as: cracks in exterior and interior walls, cracks in floors, gaps around windows and doors, and doors that stick. Foundation issues can arise regardless of the age of the home, and could be indicative of a serious problem in places that are prone to earthquakes. But you also want to take them seriously in areas with known soil issues, like Texas. A few settlement cracks may be normal and safe, but you need an inspector to tell you one way or the other. Foundation repair can be expensive, something to keep in mind when you consider the price of the home.”

Electrical

Back to the old knob-and-tube situation. If someone has deliberately tried to hide illegal or dangerous wiring, that’s obviously a huge issue, both ethically and financially. And, it’s one you likely won’t find out about until you get inside the walls. Also, you may or may not have recourse against the seller since it will be difficult to prove there was knowledge that necessitated disclosure. Even in a newer home, issues with the way electrical fixtures were installed could make what you thought was a quick and easy update into a larger undertaking.

The best way to prepare for any type of renovation:

  • Add time to any job – You just never know what’s going to come up

  • Research potential issues so you’re better prepared to roll with whatever comes your way

  • Have a Plan B – See first bullet point

  • Set aside extra money

Most importantly: Establish a good relationship with your contractor – When problems or unexpected issues arise, it may just be your good humor and the rapport you have established with your contractor that keeps you at the top of his schedule instead of having to wait weeks or longer to get your updates done.

Source: Realty Times