Before you DIY that home repair, Read this

Before You DIY that Home Repair, Read This

Here are some worrying statistics for the aspiring DIYers out there:

55 percent of DIYers say their projects took longer than expected.

50 percent of DIYers weren't prepared for how physically demanding their project would be, and 48 percent underestimated the technical difficulty.

17 percent say their DIY project wasn't as cost-effective as they'd thought.

8 percent of DIYers damaged their home while attempting a DIY repair, and 6 percent hurt themselves.

And when it’s all said and done, more than half of DIYers aren't even happy with how their project turns out. So why do homeowners keep jumping into DIY home repairs confident they'll save money and do just as good a job as the pros?

Home improvement TV shows make DIY remodeling look fun and easy, but the truth is, it's hard work. The contractors who keep your home in good repair spent a lot of time mastering their trade, and while you might not be thrilled with the price of a major home repair, you'll be less happy if you do it yourself and cause serious damage to your home — or worse, your body.

If you're thinking about DIYing any of these home repairs, you might want to reconsider.

Roof Repairs

Why not DIY? It only takes one misstep to fall off a roof and seriously injure yourself. And if you complete a roof repair incorrectly, water could seep in and create a bigger, more expensive problem.

What a pro costs: Most minor roof repairs cost under $500, with roof replacements averaging $1,700-$8,500.

Pest Control

Why not DIY? Pesticides are potent chemicals that can lead to acute and long-term health effects when used incorrectly. Proper application mitigates risk and ensures you use the right pesticide for your specific pest problem.

What a pro costs: Termite control averages around $330-$815, although extensive termite problems can cause structural damage that costs more to repair. Other pest issues vary based on the specific pest and scope of the problem.

Tree Removal

Why not DIY? If you're worried about a dying tree falling on your house, DIY tree removal is a great way to make it happen. Controlling a tree's fall requires expertise. To avoid damage to your home, cars, or power lines, call a tree service.

What a pro costs: Tree removal costs depend on the size and location of the tree. Removing a large tree can cost $1,000 or more but prevents more expensive property damage.


Why not DIY? Installing plumbing fixtures, repairing a leaky faucet, and other minor plumbing jobs are simple enough, but stay away from replacing or rerouting pipes or you could flood your home.

What a pro costs: Labor is the biggest factor in plumbing costs, with hourly rates running from $45 to $65, plus a visit fee.

Electrical Work

Why not DIY? Outside of replacing existing switches and fixtures, electrical work should be left to electricians. Otherwise, you could risk a house fire.

What a pro costs: Electricians tend to be a bit cheaper than plumbers, with hourly rates averaging $50-$100. Again, expect to pay a service fee and for any materials your electrician needs.

Door and Window Replacement

Why not DIY? A mis-hung exterior door or window will cost you much more in increased heating and cooling costs than you save avoiding professional installation. This can also be a very time-consuming job if you don't know what you're doing, and you don't want your house to be without doors and windows for long.

What a pro costs: Exterior door installation costs anywhere from $500 to $2,000, with your choice of door being the biggest factor. Window installation runs $150-800 per window, plus material costs.

When sussing out your DIY home improvement projects, it’s likely you’ll realize you won’t have the funds to cover all the costs. If you don’t have enough in savings, consider applying for a conventional loan with a cash-out refinance option. This enables you to access some of your home’s equity and possibly even reduce your monthly mortgage payment. Plus, a refinance can be better for your wallet since mortgage rates are usually lower than other loan options.

DIY isn't always a bad idea. If you want to try your hand at DIY home improvement, there's just one rule you need to follow: Don't do anything you can't reverse or that can cause permanent damage to you or your home. For everything else, professional service is the best way to get a result you're happy with.

Image via Pexels

How to save money while keeping a home ready for showings

How Parents Can Save Money While Keeping a Home Ready for Showings


When putting a house on the market, it’s important to do everything in your power to stage the property in a way that makes it clean and inviting. Making the house look like a model home creates an atmosphere that people want to buy into, so it’s important that it stays properly staged and tidy throughout the showing process. That’s easy when showing an empty house, but when you’re a busy parent juggling the home-selling process while raising your family on a budget, it’s a whole other story. These helpful tips are perfect for parents in that situation. 


Paint the Walls 


A fresh coat of paint is the easiest way to freshen up the look of a home. Go over walls currently painted bright colors with neutral options or one of the seven paint colors that realtors say can boost the value of your house. Not only is painting effective, it can be budget-friendly, too -- especially if you do the work yourself. You can save money on paint by looking for online discounts and cashback opportunities at home improvement stores like Lowe’s. 


If the children are old enough, parents can include them in helping with the painting process. Kids can help sand and buff the walls, lay down tarps, and even assist with the first coat. Always give detailed instructions, monitor progress, and double-check your kids’ work so you don’t end up with a big mess on your hands. 


Depersonalize and Declutter


One of the most cost-effective home staging techniques is depersonalizing and decluttering the home. Boxing up and storing family photos, refrigerator art, diplomas, sports memorabilia, and more creates a more generic look akin to that of a model home. Decluttering makes a house more inviting and highlights the features that will sell your house faster. 


Depersonalizing and decluttering the home are pretty much free -- you can’t beat that. However, if parents want to save money on boxes and packing supplies, use the following tips: 


  • Have friends or family lend plastic containers instead of buying cardboard boxes. You can even look into renting plastic containers.
  • Scour Craigslist, Nextdoor, and Freecycle for used boxes.
  • Use garbage bags to pack clothing and bedding instead of boxing it up.
  • Use pillows, linens, and clothing to wrap items instead of buying packing peanuts.
  • Pick up free newspapers around town and use old grocery bags for wrapping, as well.
  • Ask employees at a nearby grocery or liquor store if they ever give away boxes.



Create a Daily Family Cleaning Routine 


Since you’re selling the family home, it stands to reason that it is the whole family’s responsibility to keep the property tidy and ready for prospective buyers. Make room in your family’s daily schedule where everyone can chip in and help clean the house in some way. Have kids rotate which room they will clean, but keep the to-do list simple and uniform. Furthermore, make sure everybody in the family does their own daily duties like making their bed, putting away toys, and folding clothes neatly before storing them. 


Daily cleaning is a lot easier when each room has its own cleaning supplies ready and waiting to go. To save money on cleaning supplies, look into multi-use products that you can dilute and distribute into their own spray bottles labeled for the room they go in. You can also save money by reusing old rags instead of going through rolls of paper towels. If you do buy your own cleaning supplies, always check for online coupons and price-match deals to make sure you get the best price. 


Parents can save money while staging their home to sell by getting the kids involved and looking for great deals on things like paint and cleaning supplies. Depersonalizing and decluttering the home are also essential steps for staging, but best of all, they are basically free to do. Maintain that model home look throughout the showing process by making a daily cleaning routine that shows everybody in the family how they can pitch in and make the house sparkle for prospective buyers. 


How to Make Your House Feel Like a Home as Soon as Possible


How to Make Your New House Feel Like a Home as Soon as Possible 


According to a poll, more than half of Americans nationwide find moving more stressful than planning for a wedding. In a perfect world, you could move into a ready-made abode so you could put your feet up and enjoy the fruits of your labor — but this is far from reality. With that in mind, it’s important that you prioritize your projects so that your house can feel like a home as soon as possible. Here’s how to get started.  


Make Old Furniture Work


Hopefully, you measured your new space before bringing in any new furniture to ensure you don’t have any space issues. Next, when moving pieces in, it’s important to disassociate them from what they looked like — and where they were located — in your previous home. Don’t be afraid to mix up styles and accessorize with any new items. Lastly, if you find there is anything that you no longer love, get rid of it, as your living space should only bring you pleasure. 


Turn Your Kitchen Into a Gathering Place

The kitchen is often the heart of the home, as it’s a place where couples and families prepare meals together and make memories around the table. And since eating is a part of daily life, don’t waste any time turning your kitchen into a functional gathering place. If your kitchen is closed, consider taking down a wall to open it up to the living room. Make sure your table and chairs are comfortable so that they are conducive to a long meal. Consider adding an entertainment system for music or hosting an occasional dinner and a movie soiree. 


Create a Relaxing Backyard Environment


The backyard can turn into a green version of your family room if designed correctly. One beautiful landscaping project involves creating some privacy by planting a living fence made of trees and shrubs with staying power, such as evergreens. If you don’t already have one, install a deck or patio where you can host gatherings or simply read the paper in the morning. To maximize the amount of time you can spend outdoors, install some solar lighting within your landscaping and patio so you can enjoy an evening barbecue with ambiance. 


Make Your Bedroom A Peaceful Retreat


Whether it’s stress or schedule, the majority of Americans aren’t getting enough sleep, so put a little effort into making your bedroom a peaceful retreat. From the bed to the mattress to the dresser and nightstand, each piece should be chosen with serenity, comfort, and functionality in mind. Paint the walls in a soothing hue and install a dimmer switch so you have multiple lighting options — bright for reading, dim for meditating, etc. Blackout shades are also a good investment, as they keep out any distracting artificial and natural light. Just make sure you have a trustworthy alarm clock, as sometimes they work too good. Keep this area free from clutter as it only triggers feelings of stress, and if you’ve got it in you, don’t put a television in this room. 


Simplify Your Belongings


Less is more, and while you should have purged before moving, there’s no harm in doing a second sweep once you’re in your new home. Some tips for simplifying include making sure everything has a place within your home, not having more than one of the same item, tossing anything you never use, and decluttering on a regular basis. 


There’s nothing wrong with conducting a ritual or two to promote good energy within your new home. For example, buying a new broom is symbolic of ushering in a new start. Purchasing bread, salt, and honey for your kitchen represent abundance, good luck, the sweet parts of life. Even simply opening the doors, windows, closets, and drawers can circulate energy while bringing in fresh air and sunshine. 




Suzie Wilson is an interior designer with more than 20 years experience. What started as a hobby (and often, a favor to friends) turned into a passion for creating soothing spaces in homes of every size and style. While her goal always includes making homes look beautiful, her true focus is on fashioning them into serene, stress-free environments that inspire tranquility in all who enter. The Ultimate Guide to Prepping Your Home for an Open House is filled with tips, tricks and other advice based on Suzie’s years of experience in interior home design that will set you up for success.



Photo Credit: Pixabay

Ladies: Purchase your home in 3 simple steps

 Ladies: Purchase Your Home In 3 Simple Steps

By: Brittany Fisher


In recent years, more and more single women are making the impressive move toward owning their own home. After all, women have made a name for themselves in the workplace and are achieving higher salaried positions to accommodate the expenses associated with owning a house. So why shouldn’t they branch out into their own properties? If you are one of the single women that make up nearly 20 percent of all homebuyers, then you know exactly how hard you’ve worked to obtain this dream. Sure the process can be time-consuming, but in the end it will be well-worth the effort. Here are three simple steps that can help you finally purchase your well-deserved new home: 


1. Complete A Financial Assessment

A new home comes with closing costs, a down payment, and home inspection fees which add up rather quickly. Beyond those typical new home expenses, you have to consider extra cleaning supplies, packing materials, and a likely a few take-out meals for the period between homes. So before you ever sign the dotted lines, plan out your budget to prepare for all of the expenses. If you aren’t familiar with setting up your own budget plan, consider scheduling a meeting with a financial advisor. They can review all of the details of your finances and give you a good assessment for what you need to do to buy a home.


If you are in the process of divorce you should also review your assets for their monetary value as well as their long-term benefits. Things like land, inheritance, family heirlooms, or sentimental gifts typically mean more to you than a dollar amount. Be sure you check your state laws to see where the boundaries are between separate property and marital property so that there is no added confusion between you and your former spouse during your move. Keep in mind that the more prepared your finances are, the smoother your buying process will be.


2. Determine Your Ideal Home 

What does your ideal home look like? If you want a home that can be a long-term personal investment or a home that can be flipped to a rental property as a business invents, make a note of that. In fact, make a list of at least seven attributes you absolutely want your new home to have and share the list with your realtor. For each house you review, see if it has more than half of your preferences before you make a decision. It’s also important to compare home prices in the area where you’re looking to move. In greater Los Angeles, for example, the average cost to buy a home is $707,000. 


Also, if you plan to live in your new house on your own at first, do a quick internet search of the community. Recent news releases, the city website, and local social media pages will give you snapshot of the safety and overall feel of the area. You can even download smartphone safety apps that give you insight on the details of the neighborhood. Buying a home is a significant investment, so from the community location to general safety you will want to make sure it meets all of the criteria on your list.


3. Plan Moving Day

Once you have a moving day in place, curb the chaos by creating a packing list that includes which items are fragile, which items need to be packed in a personal vehicle, and which essential items you need to pack in a suitcase for easy access. You might be surprised how relieving it feels to have everything you need to know compiled into one simple list.


To remove more of the moving burden, consider hiring professional movers. They have all of the necessary equipment and tools to make sure your items are scratch and dent free. For those in the middle of a breakup, movers could also be a much-needed buffer between you and your ex. Unlike having friends help, movers can be an impartial third party who can relieve unnecessary tension during the move. After all the work you’ve put in to get you to this point, you deserve a relaxing moving day.



If you are a single woman looking to buy your own home, absolutely nothing should stand in your way. So take on the financial assessment, home search, and moving day the same way you’ve faced your career, with perseverance and skill. With the proper planning, home is just a few steps away.

Clean and Decluttered: Tips for staging an Open House in Competitive Market

Today, in a housing market where home prices are rising, staging a successful open house is more important than ever. According to CNBC, the number of available homes is at a low ebb this year, and builders aren’t supplying enough new ones to meet the demand. This should place an even higher premium on successful open houses as potential home buyers get into full swing this spring. Some experts are predicting homes full of suitors and buyers queued up at front doors. If that proves true, doing a great job with your open house will be crucial to gaining an advantage among discriminating buyers who know exactly what they want and what they don’t want. 


First impressions

Curb appeal is critically important in a competitive housing market. You want passersby to slow down and get a good look, drawn in by a specific feature and the overall attractiveness of your property. Make sure your yard is immaculately landscaped with bushes and shrubs well manicured, the grass kept short and edged, and flowers planted strategically by the front door and around your mailbox. Consider giving your front door and shutters a fresh coat of bright paint and make sure your house numbers are undamaged and clearly visible. Remember, the drive-by is your first chance to make a good impression on prospective buyers.  



A home with a lot of clutter gives the impression of being disorganized and dirty, which is not the impression you want to make when buyers walk through the door. Go room by room and pick up or throw away any loose papers, move out excess furniture that might impede easy movement throughout your home, and pack away any knick-knacks that could contribute to a disheveled appearance. Home buyers are impressed by clean space where everything’s in its place. If you have a lot of personal items, put them away until after your open house. Remember, you want to impress with square footage and flow, not the cuteness of your kids and pets. Personal objects tend to distract visitors from what they’re really there for: to envision your home as theirs. If they’re able to do that, you’ve made a good first step.


Lots of light

There’s no substitute for light when you’re trying to make a strong impression on buyers. The more natural light the better, so keep your drapes and blinds open to let in the sun. If you have rooms that don’t get much sunlight, install new lighting so that visitors can easily see into corners and inside closets. Consult with a lighting professional at your local hardware store to determine what kind of lighting would work best in your darkest rooms. 


No pets

Pets are another no-no when it comes to an open house. Buyers, even those who might be pet owners themselves, are likely to see your house in a different light if they see evidence that a dog or cat lives there. Keep your furry friend with a friend or relative on open house day or look into a boarding facility or dog-walking service for the day. And remove the evidence. No pictures of your dog dressed up for St. Patrick’s Day. Store away pet toys and food and water dishes. 



Your home’s interior has to be in pristine shape. That means having your carpets professionally deep-cleaned, with all pet urine stains removed and dog or cat hair vacuumed. The average price for a one-time interior house cleaning in Los Angeles ranges from $116 to $222. If you’re not able to wash your windows, consider having it done professionally, and if your siding is looking dingy, you may need to rent a power washer to get it into proper open house condition. 


An open house is a key part of your marketing outreach. Your home may be listed online with plenty of pictures, but there’s no substitute for making a good in-person impression. So clean, declutter, and make it shine, inside and out.


Courtesy of Pexels

By: Suzie Wilson





How To Buy A Home In Los Angeles Before You Turn 35

Whether movie stars, traffic snarls, or juice bars come to mind when you think of Los Angeles, CA, the reality is, there’s a lot to love about living in the City of Angels. And L.A. lovers say it lives up to the hype.


“It’s such an amazing, collaborative city for independent artists and small business owners,” says lifestyle photographer Jeff Mindell, who has lived in Los Angeles with his wife for five years and hopes to buy his first home in the next several months. “You really can’t beat it. I wake up every day so happy to live here.” L.A.-based creative director Whitney Leigh Morris, who posts about living in a tiny Venice Beach cottage on Instagram, agrees. “I’ve lived in many other cities, big and small, United States and abroad,” she says, “And I came back to L.A.”

But there is a downside to living in a city where everyone wants to be: Whether you rent or own, Los Angeles is a particularly challenging (and competitive!) real estate market. We chatted with Morris and Mindell to get a sense of what it’s really like to find a place to live in La-La Land—these are their 10 best tips to keep in mind when you’re hunting for houses for sale in Los Angeles.

1. Know what you want before you start looking

A natural setting and walkability were at the top of the list for Morris when she was house hunting in Los Angeles. “We looked at about 30 houses before we decided to go with this one,” she says. “We knew we wanted to stay in Venice. We walk everywhere, we bike everywhere. It’s just a beautiful place to live.”

Real estate, like marriage, is all about the compromise. But you have to start somewhere, and that somewhere means daydreaming about all the things you want in a home and then whittling that list down to the bare essentials. This is your list of must-haves, and it’s an important tool to help you sift through listings to find only the houses you’re truly interested in — from price range to location to the number of bathrooms. This narrow focus can give you a competitive edge, freeing you up to take fast action, especially in a hot market, where homes (especially starter homes) can go under contract in hours instead of days or weeks.

2. Be realistic

“I think it’s a huge accomplishment when you are finally able to buy a home, in LA or otherwise,” says Mindell. But he admits it might be a slightly bigger accomplishment here, considering the competitive nature of real estate in Los Angeles. “We’re being super-realistic. We know we’re not buying our dream home.”

But even with some compromises, he’s excited to get started. “My wife and I are both not really afraid of projects,” he says. “So we’re definitely leaning in the direction of our first home being a fixer, then working on those projects.” This way, the couple can be flexible on price, spend a little less than if they were buying move-in ready, and make the home their own.

3. Consider your future

In real estate, as in life, it’s important to play the long game. Even if you’re not planning to start a family right away (or ever), it’s never a bad idea to look for a home in a good school district. If you can afford it, being zoned for a popular school will make your home even more desirable when it’s time to sell. In addition, a home that’s just right for two people can feel a little claustrophobic as a family grows.

“I was looking for very different things in my 20s and 30s,” says Morris, who says that her priorities are shifting now that she’s expecting her first child. Morris and her husband have chosen to stay in their tiny home, downsizing their belongings to make room for their new addition. “We have converted our bedroom closet into a mini-nursery with mobile pieces. We got rid of about half of our clothes.”

4. Expect a bidding war

Mindell says he’s expecting to compete with multiple offers and enter a bidding war when he’s ready to make an offer. “A lot of times in the LA area, houses are being picked up by flippers and sold for price and a half of what they were bought for.” He admits it can be frustrating when you’re looking for a place to make your home and you’re competing with investors. “You’re going up against businesspeople. They have no personal connection to the house.”

5. Give yourself a competitive edge

Although Mindell admits it can be intimidating to go up against an investor when you’re house-hunting, he remains optimistic by remembering that the sellers are ultimately in control. “At the end of the day, the homeowners are picking the person who’s buying the house. Do something to help you stand out,” he says, adding that his real estate agent has had clients who have written persuasive offer letters or even made videos introducing themselves to help their offer rise to the top.

6. Don’t discount the potential of your outdoor square footage

All that SoCal sunshine makes Los Angeles a very special place when it comes to outdoor living spaces — and smart buyers will see potential to transform outdoor space into livable square footage, whether that’s adding cozy seating area or dining room on an outside patio or even putting in a “she shed.” That’s one huge reason Morris and her husband decided to stay put instead of moving to a larger home to raise their child. “The LA climate has definitely played a part in how we expanded,” she says, and adds that since she and her husband are from Florida, where it rains all the time, they definitely don’t take the sunny weather in Los Angeles for granted. “We put a 2-foot-by-4-foot shed outside to hold some things for the baby that we don’t need to use on a daily basis. The idea of storing things in a cedar shed is not laughable here.”

7. Get your finances in order before you hit up that open house

Mindell and his wife are working to organize their finances now and plan to meet with a lender before they go on any showings with their real estate agent. But Mindell says he’s put in some work over the years to set himself up for success as a young homeowner. “My parents did a good thing for me when I was younger. Before I knew what a credit card was, my dad opened up a credit card in my name,” he says. “And then started using it and paying it off, so that now I have a really great credit score.” Establishing a good credit history — and a high credit score — is an important early step toward homeownership.

8. Take your new ’hood for a test-drive

As a way to learn about the local real estate market — and have a little fun while you’re at it — Mindell suggests taking a “staycation” in neighborhoods you think you might like. “We took a weekend and parked our car and just pretended we were locals,” he says. “We went to the farmers market, people-watched, and got a feel for the neighborhood. We’re trying to find a place that feels like home but that is maybe a little bit cheaper than where we are now.”

9. Don’t forget to consider the convenience aspect

If you don’t want to do daily battle with LA’s famous traffic jams, it’s important to look for a home that offers convenient access to where you need to be — whether that’s work, schools, or leisure activities. For instance, Morris and her husband carefully considered their home’s proximity to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) before making their final decision. “We love that it’s close to LAX without being so close that we’re influenced by the air noise,” she says, adding that she didn’t want family and friends to have difficulty getting from the airport to their home. “That’s something we definitely considered when moving here.”


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