Thinking of Selling Your House? 5 Reasons to Do it Now

by The KCM Crew on September 10, 2013 ·in For Sellers, Pricing

Many now realize that it is a great time to buy a home. Today, we want to look at why it might also be an opportune time to sell your house. Here are the Top 5 Reasons we believe now may be a perfect time to put your house on the market.

1.) Demand Is High

The most recent Existing Home Sales Report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) showed a 17.2 percent increase in sales over July 2012; sales have remained above year-ago levels for 25 months. There are buyers out there right now and they are serious about purchasing.

2.) Supply Is Beginning to Increase

Total housing inventory last month rose 5.6% to 2.28 million homes for sale. This represents a 5.1-month supply at the current sales pace, compared with 4.3 months in January. Many expect inventory to continue to rise as 3.2 million homeowners escaped the shackles of negative equity in the last 12 months and an additional 1.9 million are expected to enter positive equity in the next 12 months. Selling now while demand is high and before supply increases may garner you your best price.

3.) New Construction Is Coming Back

Over the last several years, most homeowners selling their home did not have to compete with a new construction project around the block. As the market is recovering, more and more builders are jumping back in. These ‘shiny’ new homes will again become competition as they are an attractive alternative for many purchasers.

4.) Interest Rates Are Rising

According to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey, interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have shot up to 4.57% which represents a jump of more than a full point since the beginning of the year. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the National Association of Realtors are in unison projecting that rates will continue to climb.

Whether you are moving up or moving down, your housing expense will be more a year from now if a mortgage is necessary to purchase your next home.

5.) It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

Look at the reason you are thinking about selling and decide whether it is worth waiting. Is the possibility of a few extra dollars more important than being with family; more important than your health; more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

You already know the answers to the questions we just asked. You have the power to take back control of your situation by putting the house on the market today. The time may have come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire. That is what is truly important.

Posted on September 17, 2013 at 6:45 pm
Debi Bloomquist | Posted in Economics, Everett, Home Improvement, Homeowner News |

7 Things New Homeowners Don’t Know They Need to Do


Your first year as a homeowner is kind of like the first year of a marriage. There’s the honeymoon phase, where the fact that you never have to pay rent again feels freaking awesome, but there are also a bunch of new responsibilities. You’re building a foundation that will last for decades to come, and small decisions can have large effects on the rest of your life.

People love to give relationship advice, but your friends and family may not be rushing to share tips on being a new homeowner. So, we’re going to help you out. Here are seven things to do during your first year of homeownership:

1. Prepare for breakage. Being your own landlord has a lot of perks (you can kiss that whole “no pets” policy goodbye!). But it’s less exciting when your dishwasher craps out and you have to foot the bill. You can’t stop things from breaking, but you can set some cash aside to pay for unexpected replacements. As a general rule of thumb, you want to save 1-3 percent of your home’s initial price each year so that you can afford unexpected problems.

2. Form an inspection habit. Detecting certain issues early (like a rodent infestation or mold growth) can be the difference between a simple fix and an unaffordable disaster. Take the time to properly inspect your basement, attic, insulation and roof at least once during that first year. Then, make an annual habit of it!

3. Buy a bunch of furnace filters. Changing your furnace filter regularly is one of the easiest ways you can save money (since your furnace will last longer) and improve your health (since the air you breathe will be cleaner). But remembering to pick up a filter from the hardware store every few months isn’t always so easy. Nip that problem in the bud by purchasing in bulk! Take a look at your furnace and write down the filter size, then order enough to last for a few years (the exact number you need will vary depending on the type of furnace you have). Tip: Need help remembering when it’s time to change them? Sign up for BrightNest and we’ll send you regular reminders.

4. Get to know your appliances. Just like cars and televisions, the appliances in your home have different life expectancies. For example, furnaces usually last for 15-20 years, but water heaters tend to start wearing down after 10 years. It’s worth figuring out how old each appliance in your house is because then you can plan ahead for their replacements. A new furnace can cost as much as $5,000, so a little heads up can really help!

5. Take advantage of tax credits. Owning a home opens up a whole new world of tax incentives! For example, you can receive credits for things like installing solar panels or purchasing Energy Star appliances. Do some research early on about the different tax credits that may apply to you, and then reap the benefits when tax time rolls around! Tip: In general, your taxes will be much more complicated now that you own a home. It may be worth hiring a professional accountant (if you haven’t already) to guide you through the process.

6. Start keeping records. Every improvement or repair you make to your home – from adding caulk around your bathtub to installing a new roof – will increase its resale value. Make sure all of your hard work pays off by keeping track right from the start! Tip: If you’re not crazy about creating an enormous filing cabinet of records, BrightNest members can store their home details online (for free!) in the Homefolio.

7. Beef up your insurance. Your new home is probably the most valuable thing you own, and you need to protect that asset! Take a good look at your homeowners insurance policy and look for any relevant gaps (this is a situation where professional advice can be really helpful). Two areas of coverage to consider are flood and fire protection, which aren’t always included in standard policies. Tip: It’s also worth taking another look at your car insurance because you now have a much bigger asset (your home) to lose in the event of a lawsuit.

This list is a great start, but there’s still plenty to do! For more simple, important tasks to tackle during that first year, check out BrightNest’s New Homeowner Guide


Posted on September 9, 2013 at 10:40 pm
Debi Bloomquist | Posted in Home Improvement, Homeowner News |

September home-maintenance checklist


School is back in session and mornings are crisp, making this a great month for tackling home projects.

By Anne Erickson of MSN Real Estate

Ever wake up in early September and notice that the air smells different? School begins, days get shorter, and a sense of responsibility begins to creep up on most of us. 

We've always wondered why "fall cleaning" isn't as popular as "spring cleaning." The air on brisk September mornings inspires us to dutifully button up the home in preparation for cooler days and longer nights.

Add weatherstripping to doors and windows
Weatherstripping can be plastic, foam, felt or metal; its job is to seal small gaps, keeping moisture and cold air outside where they belong. Look around your doors and windows: Is the weatherstripping torn or missing? This can become expensive if ignored. On doors, make sure the bottom seal is working properly — there are many sweeps, gaskets and thresholds designed to seal this gap. Doors generally need weatherstripping in their jambs as well. Adhesive-backed foam pads are easy to install for this purpose. Newer, energy-efficient windows generally don't require added weatherstripping, but if your windows are older, weatherstripping can keep drafts at bay and energy costs down.

Check storm windows
If you have storm windows that are cracked or dirty, repair and clean them now — prior to autumn installation.

Fight winter with plywood
Find a couple of scrap sheets of plywood and set them aside. When the weatherman predicts a cold snap, set the boards against the exterior basement vents on whichever side of your house bears the brunt of your prevailing weather patterns. This bit of scrappiness could help prevent frozen pipes. Be sure to remove the boards once the weather warms up — those vents are there for a reason.

Insulation speculation
This is a good time to check the condition of insulation and see if you need more, especially if you live in an older home. You can purchase unbacked or loose-fill insulation if you are just beefing up what is already there. If you are adding batted insulation to a spot that has none, remember that the foil-backed side is the vapor barrier, and it must face the heated area.

For example, if you are laying fiberglass insulation in an unfinished attic floor to keep heat in the living room below, you should see pink when you're done — not foil. If your walls lack insulation, consider having a professional install blown-in insulation foam. The energy savings will probably offset the cost of the procedure in a couple of years.

Check gutters
Do a quick visual check to make sure gutters are clear — they'll be performing double duty soon with rainstorms and falling leaves.

Keep mice out
September inspires nesting in mice as well as humans. Mice are looking for a winter home now, and that newly insulated attic would be just the spot. Mice can s

queeze through quarter-inch openings; rats need a half-inch. Make sure all exterior vents are screened, and that there are no gaps underneath garage doors. If you are careless about leaving doors and windows open this time of year, you'll be setting mousetraps later. Pet doors are another favorite access point for rodents.

Caulk exterior
Think of caulk as weatherstripping in a tube. Any gap on the outside of your home can be a candidate for caulking. Look at transition spots: corners, windows, doors, areas where masonry joins siding, or places where vents and other objects protrude from walls. Carefully read manufacturer's directions to make sure the caulk you buy will work where you plan to use it, and don't forget to purchase a caulking gun. Early fall is a good time for this task because caulk becomes difficult to apply when the temperature falls.

Got wood?
If you have a wood stove, it's not too early to lay in a supply of firewood. Though most of us buy whatever's local, bear in mind that soft woods like fir and cedar burn faster and create hazardous creosote in the chimney, thus requiring more system maintenance and more wood. Hardwoods such as oak, hickory and maple are slow, hot, clean burners. Wood piles attract insect and animal pests, so stack wood away from the house. Wood dries best when it's protected from rain and has air circulating around it, so under the roof of a wall-less carport would be an ideal wood storage spot.

Clean dryer vent
This is another one of those tasks that should be on your to-do list every six months. Scoot your clothes dryer away from the wall, unplug it, and vacuum behind it. (If it's a gas dryer, turn off the gas supply to the dryer at the appliance shutoff valve.) Unhook the tube that leads to the vent and clear as much lint from the tube as you can. Grab a shop vacuum, go outside, and tackle the outside dryer vent as well.

Inspect your roof and chimney

If your roof isn't too steep, and isn't covered with slate or tile, you may be able to carefully walk on it on a dry day. Look for broken or missing shingles, missing or damaged flashing and seals around vent pipes and chimneys, and damage to boards along the eaves. Also peer down your chimney with a flashlight to make sure no animals have set up house in it. If you can't get on your roof, perform this inspection with a ladder around the perimeter. Pay close attention to valleys and flashings — many leaks originate in these spots. Some patches and roofing cement now can prevent thousands of dollars of water damage later in the winter.

Posted on September 6, 2013 at 9:48 pm
Debi Bloomquist | Posted in Home Improvement, Homeowner News |

HomeWork: Buy new or buy older? Each has its pros, cons

Originally published Friday, July 19, 2013 at 8:05 PM  
The Seattle Times  

The rule of thumb used to be that new homes were more expensive than older homes, but no longer is that always the case.

Q: When buying a home, is it better to buy new or used?

A: For some buyers, an older home holds charm, history and character. For others, the idea of a brand-new home that has never been lived in is much more appealing.

The rule of thumb used to be that new homes were more expensive than older homes, but no longer is that always the case. One reason is that, as land costs have increased, lot sizes have shrunk. And even though material costs continue to climb, today’s construction is cheaper due to engineered woods and the use of drywall instead of plaster.

A potential buyer looking for a home in one of Seattle’s more desirable inner-city neighborhoods will find, on average, larger lot sizes and homes that cost more than entry-level homes in a new subdivision in the outlying areas.

In addition to factors such as commute times and school systems, there are some distinct advantages and disadvantages to consider as you decide whether a newer home or an older one is right for you.

Advantages of older homes

Older homes have stood for decades and sometimes for centuries, weathering many storms. The Seattle area is known for its genuine Craftsman homes built with meticulous attention to detail.

An older home is more apt to have a larger lot size, with room to potentially accommodate a garage or a backyard cottage, depending on local regulations. Zoning changes are much less likely in older established neighborhoods, which reduces the chances that you’ll ever be surprised by how your neighborhood is developed.

An older home may have enchanting design and detail features that aren’t found in a modern house, as well as mature trees and landscaping. And older neighborhoods are often well-developed and may have local coffeehouses and shops nearby.

Drawbacks of older homes

Obviously, you’re likely to have more maintenance-related issues with an older home — unless it has been recently remodeled or upgraded. When considering an older home, ask about the age of the heater, water heater and pipes, as well as the electrical system. You’ll want to know if the home might soon be in need of major repairs or upgrades.

Many older homes in established Seattle neighborhoods have less square footage. It is likely they will have a smaller garage, closets and windows.

Advantages of new homes

In most cases, your warranties ensure that you won’t face major repairs or replacements for at least 10 years. Many of today’s most-popular conveniences are standard with a new home, including built-in dishwashers and microwave ovens, and wiring for security systems and other home technology.

New homes are more energy efficient — they feature insulation in walls, ceilings and floors, as well as double- and sometimes triple-pane windows, all of which help to reduce energy costs.

When buying in a new-home development, there are often several floor-plan choices. In some cases, you have a choice of interior features like cabinets, countertops and paint colors.

Drawbacks of new homes

Most new-home developments have some kind of neighborhood association that restricts exterior appearance and other considerations. It can take years for the vegetation, including shade trees, to mature in a new development.

New houses settle — it happens everywhere, regardless of the type of soil, and can cause cracks in foundations, walls and doorframes.

Perhaps the biggest drawback is the likelihood of a longer commute, since — other than condominiums — most new housing is being built outside of metropolitan areas.

Identifying your top priorities will help determine whether a new home or an older home is the right choice for you and your family.

HomeWork is the weekly column by the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties’ Remodelers Council about home care, repair and improvements. If you have questions about home improvement, send them to

Posted on July 24, 2013 at 10:54 pm
Debi Bloomquist | Posted in Home Improvement, Homeowner News, Real Estate |

3 Easy Ideas for Flower Boxes

By Madaline Sparks in  Real Simple


Deck the sills with blooms, then enjoy the view.


How to Plant One

  • Step 1: Prepare the soil. Pour potting mix into a bucket and add water until the soil feels like a damp sponge. Stir in a time-release organic fertilizer, such as Dynamite. For full-sun and shade boxes, add a moisture-retaining polymer, like Soil Moist. Cover drainage holes with coffee filters, then fill two-thirds of the box with the potting mix.
  • Step 2: Plant the box. Arrange plants, still in their pots, on top of the soil to approximate their positions. Gently tip them out of their containers. Start planting in the center of the box and work toward the sides, adding more soil around the roots as you go. The final soil level should be about an inch below the top of the box.
  • Step 3: Water lightly. Moisten the base of the plants to settle them into the soil and eliminate air pockets. Add more soil as needed. Place or hang the box beneath the window and water thoroughly until the drainage holes start to drip.



If You Have a Sunny Window

What to Plant

  • Bright, showy flowers are at their best in a box that gets at least six hours of direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. So go for reliable bloomers in arresting color combinations. In this box: Dusty Miller (Senecio cineraria Cirrus), Calibrachoa (Calibrachoa Superbells Red), Verbena (Verbena Sissinghurst), and Sweet-Potato Vine (Ipomoea batatas Margarita).
  • To add contrast, set the flowers against a backdrop of foliage in a variety of colors and textures.

When to Water

Daily, depending on rainfall and the season. To be safe, water when the soil feels dry an inch down.

How to Maintain

  • Add a balanced water-soluble fertilizer every two to three weeks for extra growth potential.
  • If you see spent blooms, pinch them off so the plants can flower more prolifically.



If You Have a Shady Window

What to Plant

Look for shade-happy plants with colorful leaves, like the four vivid varieties of coleus that fill this box (Solenostemon scutellarioides Kiwi Fern, Dark Star, Dappled Apple, and Dark Heart). Play with contrasts in texture and hue. Here, the ruffly maroon-and-coral Kiwi Fern anchors the middle of the box, offsetting the deep purple and apple green foliage surrounding it.

When to Water

Daily during the hottest summer days; the rest of the year, check every few days and water as soon as the soil is dry to an inch below the surface.

How to Maintain

Pinch off new flower spikes and stem tips every two weeks to keep plants looking lush and full.



If You Have Limited Time to Garden

What to Plant

Succulents thrive on neglect. They love to bask in the sun, and they won't dry out, because their fleshy leaves have a built-in water supply. Choose a visually varied composition of succulents with similar light and moisture requirements. In this box, small purple echevaria rosettes (Echeveria Perle von Nurnberg) echo the shape of their giant green aeonium cousins (Aeonium subplanum). Blue chalksticks (Senecio serpens) and green rattails (Crassula muscosa) create contrast, as does a trailing cape ivy (Senecio macroglossus Variegatus) and a black rose aeonium (Aeonium arboreum Zwartkop).

When to Water

Infrequently. Check the soil every two weeks, and reach for the watering can when the soil is completely dry.

How to Maintain

Make sure to use a fast-draining, soilless potting mix designed for succulents and cacti.


Posted on July 19, 2013 at 10:37 pm
Debi Bloomquist | Posted in Home Improvement, Homeowner News |

How to beat the summer heat inside older homes

Originally published Friday, June 14, 2013 at 8:01 PM

In an older home, the attic may have little insulation. Over time, what is there may have been disrupted, providing leak points where warm air escapes in the winter and hot air gets in during the summer.


Q: Why is my older home so hot?

A: This question comes up a lot, especially with older homes. In most cases, older homes are poorly insulated.

Energy codes have gone through many changes over the years, making homes more energy efficient. A well-insulated home holds in warmth during cold weather and keeps out the heat on hot days.

Current codes require the entire exterior wall cavity to be filled with insulation, including insulated headers over doors and windows, but this has not always been the case.

In an older home, the attic may have little insulation. Over time, what is there may have been disrupted, providing leak points where warm air escapes in the winter and hot air gets in during the summer.

Also, your attic may not have attic venting. Substandard venting leaves the hot air that collects on warm days to take the path of least resistance out, which may be down into the house.

Windows are often another weak point. It is possible your home might still have single-pane windows as opposed to the double and even triple-pane windows on today’s market.

There are several remedies, depending on the design of your home and the budget you have. A good first step would be to consider an energy audit to help you identify problem areas. Some utility companies provide the audits for no or very low cost so it would be worth checking with your local company.

Seattle City Light customers can find information about its audit program at

Puget Sound Energy customers can find information on its website,

Some of the steps that can help keep your older home cool:

• Plant shade trees or vegetation to keep the strongest sun rays from heating your home.

• Provide awnings, trellises or other built structures outside to keep the sun from beating down on your windows.

• Consider replacing single-pane windows with double or triple pane with argon/insulated windows to minimize heat transmission. Windows can also be tinted to reduce solar-heat gain. If you choose to replace your windows, an added benefit is you can seal any gaps where leakage might be occurring during installation.

• It is difficult to add insulation to walls, but many times attic space can be easily accessed to blow in additional insulation. Also, attic vents can be installed to help the heat escape, since heat rises and will collect in your attic. Another often effective measure is to install an attic fan that is connected to a thermostat. It will help push hot air out of the attic.

• If exterior doors are the source of your leak, new caulking to seal or weather stripping could help you keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

• Whenever possible, take advantage of cross-ventilation by opening windows on opposite ends of the house to increase airflow. This is especially effective if you keep the house closed during the hottest parts of the day and open windows as the temperatures drop.

• Ceiling fans are effective for circulating the air, but even fans you get at the drugstore can help and they get quieter and more energy efficient every year.

• If you are thinking about getting a window unit or free-standing air-conditioners, try to shop for them offseason before demand and prices spike.


Jamie Hsu, Lakeville Homes, is a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties’ Remodelers Council and provided the information contained in this article. If you would like more information or have questions about home improvement send them to Sorry, no personal replies. Always consult local codes and contractors.


Posted on July 1, 2013 at 11:12 pm
Debi Bloomquist | Posted in Economics, Home Finances, Home Improvement, Homeowner News, Real Estate |

Cheap bathroom renovations that help sell a home

By Tom Kraeutler | The Money PitWed, Jun 5, 2013 7:03 PM EDT


A few cheap bathroom renovations can actually help you sell your home. When potential buyers stroll through a home, they're looking for the features and amenities that best match their lifestyle. Every choice you've made impacts a buyer's interest, and you can get closer to the reality of a sale with a simple, one-step bath renovation.

"Bathrooms are one area where home buyers make decisions because it will be one of the most used rooms in the house," says industry expert Nora DePalma of O'Reilly/DePalma. "Make them look bright, absolutely spotless, and loaded with storage options. Your home will sell faster and at a better price."

These bathroom renovations are low-cost, where a little DIY savvy can go a long way toward making your home appeal to a wide range of shoppers. Here are five cheap ways to transform a bath without breaking your pre-sale budget.

1. Introduce a neutral palette: When you're showing a home for sale, one of the main priorities is to present a neutral but appealing space in which potential buyers can envision their own day-to-day lives. So even if you love bold color or a wallpaper print in your bathroom, tone it down for the sake of the sale. Painting walls with a neutral shade or even a pale, soothing blue or green will contribute to the perceived scale and serenity of the space. Freshen the entry door, cabinetry and trim with a crisp white for a clean look and renewed focus on the room's built-in details.

2. Use your WaterSense: If your toilet is more than 15 years old, upgrade in both performance and water efficiency by installing WaterSense-labeled fixtures. Switching in a new water-saving faucet allows you to re-accessorize the room, and reduce water flow by at least 30 percent without a downgrade in performance. Smarter showerheads provide spa-style amenities while using under 2.0 gallons of water per minute. And high-efficiency toilets (HETs) are now the norm in up-to-date, resource-conscious homes, saving the owner over 4,000 gallons of water per year. "Save money in many areas that provide rebates for high-efficiency plumbing products," says Jeannette Long of American Standard, which hosts a rebate locator.

If you make any or all of these green upgrades to your bath, highlight them in home listings and open house collateral so that shoppers know they're looking at lower utility bills as well as new fixtures.

3. Let there be (better) light: Illuminate the best features of a bathroom and add convenience by amping up the lighting scheme. Just replacing a few fixtures with energy efficient, eye-catching styles, you'll transform the space and reduce energy bills. When choosing bathroom lighting, focus on fixtures that provide task lighting at the vanity and over the shower or tub, overhead lighting for general illumination, and accent lighting to define architectural features. Also make the most of any opportunities for natural lighting: Skylights and glass-block windows will let the sunshine in but still provide privacy.

4. Improve ventilation: Prevent moisture buildup and the mold, mildew and finish damage that tend to follow by upgrading your bathroom's ventilation. Depending on the current state of the ventilation system, this project can range from the DIY ease of installing a few components to all-new venting and electrical connections. Whatever the case, adequate ventilation is critical to air quality, structural integrity and overall comfort of a bathroom, and buyers will appreciate this important update.

The ventilation specialists at Broan-NuTone have solutions for any system redo, all with sleek looks, quiet fan operation and optimum efficiency. "We make an upgrade kit for builder-grade-model fans, which will actually quiet the fan down by about 50 percent and increase the performance of it by 20 percent," says Karen Collins of Broan-NuTone. "The kit also includes a new grille, and you can make these changes in under five minutes."

If you're in the market for a complete unit replacement, check out Broan-NuTone's selection of super-quiet, Energy Star-qualified ventilation fans. They cost less than a dollar a year in energy to run, and are available with integrated lighting as well as humidity sensors that save you the trouble of switching the fan on when it's needed and off when it's not.

5. Replace flooring: Transform a bath from the ground up by installing a new floor. The small footprint of most bathrooms makes this an affordable improvement, and new flooring options combine moisture resistance with the look of favorite finishes. Lumber Liquidators' line of Tranquility resilient flooring offers a great range of natural wood looks and textures made from a water-resistant, easy-to-clean vinyl material. In a peel-and-stick plank format, it's simple to install over existing flooring and backed by a 25-year warranty. Tranquility flooring is also a sustainable choice for your bathroom upgrade, as it's produced with recycled raw material.

If you're updating a powder room, other flooring options like natural hardwood are possibilities. But for a full bath, stick with materials that will stand up to everyday use and humidity. "Anywhere you have a full shower or tub, you want to avoid a wood, a bamboo or even a laminate, simply because of the moisture," advises Lumber Liquidators' John Jakob.

You don't have to spend a fortune. Take on a few cheap bathroom renovations that will deliver the greatest return on your investment, and sell your home faster.

Posted on June 12, 2013 at 10:01 pm
Debi Bloomquist | Posted in Home Improvement, Homeowner News, Uncategorized |

The $645 kitchen remodel


Skillful surgery on the cabinets and some cosmetic changes renewed this 1920s bungalow kitchen for less than the cost of a refrigerator.

Skillful surgery on the cabinets and some cosmetic changes renewed this 1920s bungalow kitchen for less than the cost of a refrigerator. Here's how the owners, Nick Macke and Ted Moss, of Milton, Mass., gave their old cabinets a stylish yet frugal makeover.

"We wanted to keep some of the original retro details such as the stainless-steel sink and metal cabinets," says homeowner Nick Macke. That's the initial reason why he and his partner, Ted Moss, decided to go with mostly surface updates to their kitchen. Then they realized that doing so would save a huge chunk of cash as well as the kitchen's vintage charm.

The sink area, before and after.

A scalloped soffit, '70s-era wallpaper, wood paneling, and peeling linoleum dated the space. An open shelf above a new mosaic backsplash, a fresh coat of paint for the cabinets and walls and for the paneling, and a new floor bring it into this century.


The stove area, before and after.

No walls or appliances were moved in the 10-by-12-foot workspace. Painting twin sets of the original metal cabinetry (one in the sink area and one above the stove), in addition to the walls and paneling, and laying a new floor directly over the old one took three months.

Project Tally

• Stripped wallpaper: $0

• Ripped out valance-style trimwork and 5-foot-long soffit on upper cabinets: $0

• Replaced plastic outlet plates and switch plates with stainless steel: $10

• Topped cabinets with preprimed crown molding from the home center: $25

• Sanded and painted cabinets, including the plastic pulls (a family friend at the paint manufacturer provided a 50 percent contractor discount): $40

• Swapped out a fluorescent sink light for one with pendants: $60

• Painted walls and paneling: $70

• Kept the sink but replaced the faucet: $90

• Added a backsplash of slate tile: $150

• Covered old linoleum floor with peel-and-stick resilient tiles laid directly over it: $200

Project Total: $645


Paint: Sherwin-Williams's Golden Fleece (walls) and Dover White (paneling and cabinets)
Floor: TrafficMaster
Faucet: Moen
Lights: Lowe's
Backsplash tile: Home Depot








Posted on May 22, 2013 at 10:09 pm
Debi Bloomquist | Posted in Home Improvement, Homeowner News, Uncategorized |

Use a Salvaged Tub to Turn Your Backyard Into a Soothing Oasis


By Annie Thornton
By Houzz | Posted May 16th 2013 3:00PM

When a lilac tree died in Sloan Schang's yard in Portland, Ore., last summer, it left behind a blank corner. It also provided him with an opportunity. A secluded backyard spa appealed to Schang, a writer and creative director, but the $6,000 bill required for the necessary electrical work and a new hot tub sounded less than pleasant.

So Schang constructed his own backyard bathhouse — in less than a week and for less than a sixth of the price — with a salvaged claw-foot tub. "My wife was appropriately skeptical when I proposed putting a bathtub in the backyard," he says, "but she was sweet and trusting enough to just let me run with it." Let's see how he did it.

Project at a Glance
What: Backyard bathhouse
Location: Portland, Ore.
Size: 7 by 10 feet
Budget: $750, including labor and materials

Site Preparation

Schang cleared out the dead lilac tree as well as some ornamental grasses to prep the site. He dug a hole 5 feet wide, 7 feet long and 6 inches deep, framing it with pressure-treated 2-by-6s. He tightly packed 1/4-inch-minus gravel into the pad to prevent the cast iron tub from sinking. The tub sits atop the compacted gravel without additional anchoring.

The deck is framed with pressure-treated 4-by-4s, resting lengthwise on the gravel. The decking itself is recycled cedar fence boards left over from another home improvement project; Schang cut and nailed them directly to the 4-by-4s. While he says the deck was level and secure already, he additionally anchored it with foot-long garden stakes, pounded to the ground and bracketed to the deck frame.


The claw-foot tub was a steal at $100, and the catalyst for this backyard project. It was already in great condition, only requiring an application of paint. Because it's protected from the elements by the pergola, Schang didn't prep the tub in any other way.

He hired a plumber to install a new exterior hot water bib, tied into existing pipes in the couple's basement laundry room. Often it's possible to replace an exterior hose bib with one that can tie into a hot water line, but that wasn't an option here. Schang was happy to pass off this portion of the project. "If there's something you're not comfortable doing yourself — like plumbing, for me," he says, "absolutely hire a professional or enlist an experienced friend. The peace of mind is worth the extra time and cost."

Schang ran a long rubber hot-water hose 60 feet from the exterior hot water faucet to the tub site. He concealed the hose in mature landscaping rather than burying it.

The hose rests on a cedar stake; the flow is controlled with a single-handled faucet. The water temperature is controlled from the bib at the side of the house. "We rarely ever use the cold tap, except in the summer when we use it as a cool-off pool with our son – and generally just fill it with straight hot water," he says. On colder nights the water stays warm for 20 or 30 minutes, longer in summer.

Schang sealed the overflow hole and previous faucet holes with cork so that he could fill the tub entirely.

The tub drains into a 15-foot-long ABS drain pipe, extending above-ground out into the planting beds. Like the hose, the pipe is concealed by plants and evenly drains onto the vegetation through perforations.


For backyard privacy and shelter, Schang built a pergola that's 7 feet wide, 10 feet long and 8 feet tall.

"If you've ever built a fence or a deck, you can handle this," he says.

If this is your first home improvement project, though, be careful, be thorough and don't rush through it.

"All I can say is measure, measure, measure," Schang advises.

Here's How You Can Build a Pergola the Way He Did:

1. Measure and dig the locations for the four posts.
2. If you're sloping the roof, cut the rear posts to length.
3. Set the posts and concrete in 2-foot-deep holes.
4. Cut and hang the outside box frame for the roof. (Schang bolted heavy lag bolts directly into the post.)
5. Cut and hang the joists. (Schang used using joist hanger brackets.)
6. Cut sheets of corrugated metal roofing to the right size using heavy tin snips, then attach them to the joists and frame them with screws.

Light Fixture

Schang built and designed the light fixture himself. He drilled a field of holes in the base of a soap box he bought on and stapled a string of lights to poke through the holes in the box. Schang calls the light "a cross between an old-timey Lite Brite and a kind of light shower." String lights already drape the perimeter of the yard, so Schang only needed to attach an extension cord.

"Night soaks are quiet and peaceful," he says, "and on clear nights we get glimpses of the stars through the trees." One of his favorite things about the tub is how drastically the experience transitions from day to night. "In the morning and late afternoon, the tub gets some choice moments of direct sunlight, and birds and squirrels are constantly popping in to see what's going on."

"The result has exceeded both of our expectations," he says, "and I can't ever imagine getting tired of this space and the simple magic of an outdoor soak. It's all somehow rustic and luxurious at the same time, very Swiss Family Robinson."


Structure and decking — $225:

– Six 10-foot lengths of 4-by-4 pressure-treated wood posts for the pergola and deck frame
– Eight 8-foot lengths of outdoor 2-by-6s for the roof frame
– Six bags of easy-mix concrete for the posts
– Three sheets of corrugated metal roofing
– Hardware
– Bamboo privacy shade
– Ten 5-foot-long cedar fence boards for the decking
– 20 cubic feet of 1/4-inch-minus gravel
– Decorative river rock

Plumbing — $475 (including hired labor):

– Hose rated for hot water
– Faucet to control flow at the tub (mounted on a cedar stake)
– Faucet to control water at the side of the house
– Overflow corks
– ABS drain pipe
– Claw-foot tub

Light fixture — $50:

– Soap crate
– Strand of Christmas lights
– Extension cordOther materials:
– Clear outdoor protective sealer for all wood that's not pressure treated
– Repurposed materials for bath accessories (cedar decking shower caddy, tree stump side table, towel hooks)

Posted on May 21, 2013 at 11:09 pm
Debi Bloomquist | Posted in Home Improvement, Homeowner News |