Should You Build in the Winter?

Maybe it has taken longer than expected to find the perfect house, or perhaps you’ve always wanted to build. You find construction exciting and adore the idea of designing a home from the ground up. Surprisingly, an ideally situated plot just landed on the market, and it’s priced to sell. Unfortunately, there’s an issue.

Winter is approaching, and it doesn’t intuitively feel like a good time for building or renovating. On the one hand, you’re concerned about getting involved in a project challenged by cold weather conditions. On the other, you don’t want to lose your auspicious real estate opportunity.

Variables unique to wintertime construction are worth consideration. Below we’ve compiled several things to consider to help you make well-informed decisions and implement effective project plans—even in freezing temperatures.

Sub-Freezing Temperatures
If the thermometer reads below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, any task that requires water is compromised. Mortar used in brickwork, for instance, will not bind properly. If a brick structure is in progress, freezing temperatures may cause cracks to form as water in connective mortar expands. This can significantly damage the structure’s stability, resulting in the need to demolish and rebuild.

Rendering exterior walls, paving with asphalt and pouring cement are also problematic. It’s vitally important to monitor both outdoor and ambient temperatures carefully, as well as future-forecasted probabilities. Delaying projects because of the weather can be costly, but perhaps not as much as having to redo them entirely if caution is not heeded. Some contractors find a happy medium setting up heat lamps or arranging portable fuel heaters. These temporary measures work well, as long as potentially dangerous fumes are vented out, and site electrical wiring supports added wattage.

Other cold weather strategies include use of materials developed with year-round efficacy in mind. Precast concrete, for example, is cast and cured in a temperature-controlled factory setting. From there, materials are shipped straight to construction sites for installation. Concrete panels for walls, flooring, beams and planks are guaranteed for strength and durability, as well as fire resistance.

Extra Safety Considerations
Contractors who work in winter bundle up. Extra layers of clothing, bulky jackets and insulated gloves all lend distinct safety concern to any cold weather project. Not only does added padding slow laborers down, but it also increases the potential for accidental clashes with running equipment and valuable materials.

Snow and ice onsite present another challenge. Extra time to shovel out and sufficiently warm up machinery takes its toll on overall productivity, while great care must be exercised to avoid slip-and-fall injuries.

Projected time loss, however, should be reviewed in comparison to cost. Many bid contracts that reflect lower pricing to secure work during the slow winter months. If your deadline is not urgent, consider saving on labor-related fees. As long as site safety remains the focus, together with flexible completion requirements, it’s a win-win.

Early Nightfall
Diminished daylight is an inevitable winter trademark. If proposed tasks take longer than expected—perhaps due to weather conditions or even the slow pace of bundled-up laborers—and require closure after nightfall, spot or floodlights may be needed. Again, this is a question of potential added cost versus overall bid, as well as all-important electrical support.

Batten Down the Hatches
Early nightfall presents site-specific security risks. It is not uncommon for expensive machinery to be parked in the lot overnight. Metal scraps, hand tools and boxed appliances awaiting installation are easy enough to stow away in storage trailers, but large equipment and piles of heavy material remain outdoors, open to the possibility of criminal damage and theft.

Contractors can minimize such threat with a number of strategies including employment of overnight security guards, arranging for webcam surveillance and placing motion detector floodlights in strategic locations.

Move-In Ready
Consider broadening your definition of what constitutes move-in ready. If your preliminary home structure is up and passes inspection, you can move in. Put decorative touches such as exterior paint, fence installation, gateway erection and property landscape on hold for warmer months. By that time, after living in the house and familiarizing yourself with its flow, you may have a completely different vision altogether of how you’d like the outside to look.

Choosing to build in winter can be cost-efficient and advantageous as long as weather and safety-related issues are identified and addressed proactively. Go ahead—get that perfect piece of real estate. It’ll make an unforgettable holiday project!

 

Source: Megan Wild, “Should You Build In the Winter?,”  RISMEDIA, November 21, 2017

White Kitchen Fatigue?

Are homeowners growing tired of the all-white kitchen? Some design experts believe so. White kitchens have been popular over the past few years, but Houzz editor and writer Mitchell Parker predicts that the number of homeowners who will get “white-kitchen fatigue” will grow in the new year.

Some homeowners may experiment with adding more colors back in to the kitchen.

“While white kitchens aren’t going anywhere, expect to see a rise in color, especially other neutrals like gray and blue,” Parker notes in reporting on 2018 home trends. “Plus, warm wood tones are becoming a popular replacement for painted cabinets, leading to sophisticated, rich palettes.”

The two-tone look started catching on in 2017, in which cabinet colors were mixed and matched in the kitchen. For example, the bottom cabinets might be a darker color, such as gray, and the upper cabinets then all in white. Or, homeowners were making a bigger statement with their kitchen islands by painting it a bolder color that contrasted with the rest of its kitchen cabinets.

Source: By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine, January 8, 2018

Home Selling Tips for Pet Owners

There’s no doubt pets play an important role in our homes. They wait for us to come home after a long day, protect our property, and are there to comfort us when things go wrong. They truly are part of the family. But if you’re trying to sell your home, your four-legged friend could put a bit of a damper on the process. From removing stubborn stains to recommending where to put your pet during a showing, these tips will ensure potential buyers aren’t off-put by your companion.


  • Invest in a good carpet cleaner.
    It’s a good idea to invest in a carpet cleaner or have your carpets cleaned professionally to ensure there are no obvious pet stains. Plus, some pets put off strong odors that can radiate throughout the house. A carpet cleaner will help remove those odors and stuck-in fur. Your house deserves a deep clean!
  • Keep your pet out of the house.
    If possible, it’s best to leave your pet with a friend, a relative, or another trusted caretaker while showing your home. If no one is available, it’s a good idea to leave your pet in a crate, in an area where potential buyers are less likely to be­—either a basement or mudroom. Put a warm blanket, bowl of water, and favorite toy in his crate to help him feel more comfortable.
  • Clean up the yard. 
    Even your backyard could leave traces of your pet, so it’s important to clean up any waste and toys. Keep a toy bin by the door, and try to have your pet use the bathroom in the same area, so the cleanup will be easier. If there are any bare patches of grass, you can try to aerate and seed these spots or plant sod for a quicker fix.
  • Put away the pictures.
    More than likely you’re a proud pet parent, meaning that you have a handful of pictures of your pet around your home or at least some photos where he makes an appearance. You’d be surprised at how many potential buyers pay attention to pictures during a showing. These pictures will be a dead giveaway of your pet ownership, so keep them put away while the showing is going on.
  • Familiarize yourself with your insurance policy.
    Even if your pet is the nicest pet in the world, having him around during a showing poses a handful of potential risks. Take a look at your homeowner’s policy and make sure that it covers you in the event your pet becomes aggressive with someone on your property. Aggression doesn’t have to always be malicious: even if your pet knocks somebody down due to excitement, you could still be held liable. These types of situations happen more often than you would think, so it’s better to be prepared.

There’s no reason for your animal to hinder your house selling process. Use these tips to ensure that you can still enjoy your pet, and make a deal all at the same time!


For more tips and tricks for pet owners, visit www.americanlifestylemag.com/pets.

Tips on Christmas Decor Home Staging

StyledStagedSold_Image1If you’re staging your home during this time of the year, adding a bit of holiday cheer to your decor can make a big impression on potential buyers. Use these tips to create a simple, polished look that puts your home in its best light this holiday season.

Choose the Right Christmas Tree

When showing your home, include holiday decor that allows potential buyers to picture themselves in the space. For example, choose a tree that allows other aspects of your home to shine. Your living room or entryway will look bigger if you opt for a small artificial tree over a 6-foot live pine. An artificial tree is also less messy than a real one, meaning your home will always be neat and tidy and ready for the next showing.

Light It Up

StyledStagedSold_Image2

The Christmas light possibilities are endless, but when you’re staging a home for sale, think simple and low-key and stick to one style. An over-the-top display might not reflect the tastes of your potential buyers, and too many decorations can take away from the room itself.

Take advantage of the many styles of Christmas tree lights available to give your home an understated yet inviting holiday look. Opt for something different, like an artificial white tree decorated with white LED lights. Finally, choose ornaments and trim that coordinate with the lights. Add a few silver and red ornaments for extra sparkle and color. It’s just enough Christmas for your family to enjoy without overpowering the room.

Decorate Your Mantel

Traditional Christmas Fireplace

The fireplace is an important focal point. Keep it simple and elegant to help potential buyers imagine opening their own Christmas gifts around a roaring fire.

Don’t completely cover the mantel. Pack away any personal family photos or the kids’ school crafts. Drape a garland across the mantel, allowing the branches to hang over the edge. A string of simple white LED lights adds just enough illumination to highlight the fireplace.

Add a few candles and a simple vase to reflect the light. A rustic wreath on the wall above the mantel completes the scene without distracting from the main event. This style is classic enough to appeal to a variety of buyers while still capturing the holiday spirit.

Don’t Forget the Exterior

Christmas Door

Increase your curb appeal and make a good impression from the get-go by decorating the outside of your home. Consider your neighborhood, too–if all of your neighbors have lights and outdoor decorations, you don’t want to be the only home without them.

Keep things simple and easy with a festive wreath on the door to greet potential buyers. Wrap a garland or string of lights around your front porch (or hang them around your entryway), then finish the look with lanterns or a potted evergreen. Finally, make sure your walkway is clear of snow or ice.

Welcome Buyers With the Spirit of the Holidays

During an open house, create the feel of a festive holiday party by offering seasonal snacks like gingerbread cookies, candy canes, hot chocolate, and apple cider. Keeping mulled hot apple cider simmering on the stove will also make the whole house smell good. Light a fire in your fireplace to make the home feel cozy and warm, helping visitors envision living there. When it comes to impressing potential buyers, these small touches can make all the difference.

 

Source: Merri Cvetan, “Tips on Christmas Decor Home Staging,” Styled, Staged & Sold, December 10, 2017.

Hot Home Trend: The Statement Shower

The shower in the master bathroom is getting a lot more attention. In fact, it’s one of the main splurges among renovating homeowners, according to the 2017 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study. These “statement showers,” as Houzz dubs them in its report, include high-tech features, like rainfall showerheads, dual showers, curbless showers, and body sprays.

 

Upgrading the master shower was the most popular renovation project, according to the survey of more than 1,200 U.S. homeowners who were in the midst or just completed a bathroom reno project. For more than half of renovators, their main aim was to increase their shower’s size. Also, survey respondents showed a rise in demand for high-tech features, such as mood lighting or digital controls, in master bathrooms.

Over a quarter of homeowners – 27 percent – have opted to remove the bathtub in their master bathroom renovations, according to the survey. The removal of the bathtub has allowed more room for a larger shower.

“This year’s Bathroom Trends Study sheds light on two key trends in master bathrooms, showers as a focal point and the growing role of high-tech features in bathroom products,” says Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz. “Additionally, it is clear that today’s master bathroom renovations are marked by timeless and durable elements, from natural stone finishes to curbless shower entries, a benefit of having older generations in the driver’s seat. Still, the early wave of millennial homeowners reveals their preferences for homes of the future, from larger master bathrooms to clean lines and white and gray color pallets.”

The Houzz study found that the national average for a major remodel of a large master bathroom (considered over 100 square feet) is $21,000.

Source: Melissa Dittmann Tracey, “Hot Home Trend: The Statement Shower,” REALTOR® Magazine

Paint your home these colors to sell it for the most money

Zillow’s 2017 Paint Color Analysis looked at more than 32,000 photos from sold homes nationwide to see how certain paint colors impacted their sale price on average when compared to similar homes with white walls.

Various shades of blue were also top picks in other areas of the house besides the bathroom, including the bedroom, kitchen, dining room and front door.

Natural tones like pale gray and oatmeal were also found in top-performing home listings.

“Painting walls in fresh, natural-looking colors, particularly in shades of blue and pale gray not only make a home feel larger, but also are neutral enough to help future buyers envision themselves living in the space,” said Svenja Gudell, Zillow chief economist. “Incorporating light blue in kitchens and bathrooms may pay off especially well as the color complements white countertops and cabinets, a growing trend in both rooms.”

Although paint is a simple fix, darker, more style-specific walls may deter buyers.

Meanwhile, a lack of color could be the biggest mistake for sellers. Homes with white bathrooms sold for an average of $4,035 below similar homes, Zillow found.

Take a look at Zillow’s best and worst paint colors by room:

Kitchen

Best: Light blue to soft gray-blue; home sold for $1,809 more on average

Worst: Straw yellow to marigold; home sold for $820 less on average

Image credit: Dreamstime

Bathroom

Best: Light powder blue to periwinkle; home sold for $5,440 more on average

Worst: Off-white or eggshell white; home sold for $4,035 less on average

Image credit: Dreamstime

Image credit: Zillow

Bedroom

Best: Light cerulean to cadet blue; home sold for $1,856 more on average

Worst: Light pink to antique rose; home sold for $208 less on average

Image credit: Dreamstime

Living Room

Best: Light beige, pale taupe, oatmeal; home sold for $1,809 more on average 

Worst: Pastel gray, pale silver to light blue, periwinkle; home sold for $820 less on average

Image credit: Dreamstime

Dining Room

Best: Slate blue to pale gray blue and navy blue also found in dining rooms with white shiplap; home sold for $1,926 more on average

Worst: Brick red, terracotta or copper red; home sold for $2,031 less on average

Image credit: Dreamstime

Home Exterior

Best: Greige (mix of gray and beige); home sold for $1,526 more on average

Worst: Medium brown, taupe or stucco; home sold for $1,970 less on average

Image credit: Dreamstime

Front Door

Best: Navy blue to dark gray or charcoal; home sold for $1,514 more on average

 

Source: Mike Timmermann, “Paint your home these colors to sell it for the most money,” June 2, 2017, Clark Howard, Cox Media Group.

A Front Door, Flooring and Other ‘Happy’ Home Upgrades

It’s no secret that an improvement or remodeled room can make being at home that much better. (Who doesn’t want more counter space?) The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) recently identified the projects with a “Joy Score” of 10—the highest happiness level for homeowners. Amp the feel-good factor up with these upgrades: 

Source: Suzanne de Vita, “A Front Door, Flooring and Other ‘Happy’ Home Upgrades,” October 12, 2017, RISMedia

Do-It-Yourself Fall Decor for the Decidedly Uncrafty

Are you feeling less than competent in the arts and crafts department? This can be especially difficult in the fall, the season that tends to kick off the DIY bonanza. The great news is, homemade décor projects have gotten a lot more creative and a lot simpler, making crafting accessible to even the less skilled among us. Here are some simple ideas with stunning results. Not only do you get a lovely little objet d’art for your home, but the made-it-myself bragging rights to boot.

  • Glam gourds. Sure, a well-placed pumpkin or two is always a nice touch this time of year, but paint them gold and you’ve suddenly got a magical design statement. For smaller gourds, use a paintbrush and some gold leaf paint; for the larger variety, get out a drop cloth and the spray paint.
  • Fall topiaries. Nope, you don’t need to be Edward Scissorhands. Just grab an inexpensive clay pot or basket and fill it with florist’s foam. Then snip a few branches from a colorful fall tree or berry bush and arrange them in the foam. Keep the foam slightly damp, and your fall topiary will live indoors for several days.
  • Chalkboard welcome. This great idea from Country Living involves taking a decorative tray (the kind with handles) and painting the center of it with chalkboard paint. Write a pleasant welcome message for guests on it—or leave a space for guests to write their own note—then decorate the handles and edge with fall leaves or berry vines. Hang it vertically on your front door for a creative alternative to a wreath.
  • Harvest votives. This quick idea from Martha Stewart involves taking a piece of dried corn husk—the kind from Indian corn is most colorful—and wrapping it around a small glass votive by tying it with a small piece of twine. Once the candle is lit within, the effect of the translucent husk is simply lovely.
  • Pumpkin pie potpourri. Another ridiculously easy but brilliant idea from Martha Stewart, this craft involves taking a smallish pumpkin, cutting the top off to form a lid and thoroughly cleaning out the inside. From there, carve round vents into the lid and base of the pumpkin with an apple corer. Next, push cloves into the lid and rub it with cinnamon or pumpkin pie spices. Light a tea candle, place the lid back on the pumpkin and enjoy the smell of pumpkin pie spice for about six hours.

Aside from lovely crafts you’ll produce, the best part of these projects is the opportunity they provide to immerse yourself in the season. Grab your kids, your bestie, or even mom and dad and craft away together for even more fun.

If you’d like more information about homeownership, please contact the Petersen Partners team at info@petersenpartners.com or read more about our #1 team at www.PetersenPartners.com

Sherwin Williams’ Pick for 2018’s Hottest Color

Oceanside_Sherwin3A rich blue with jewel-toned greens is forecasted to be 2018’s hottest color of the year, according to Sherwin Williams, which unveiled its 2018 Color of the Year choice this week. Other paint companies will be announcing their paint choices over the next few weeks.

Oceanside SW 6496 is a statement color. It can add a bold, attention-getting pop to wall colors, furnishings,  accessories, and even a home’s front door.

“Green-blues in deep values, such as Oceanside, respond to changes in light, which is a quality that creates intense dimension,” says Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams. “It is a tremendously versatile color, and harmonizes with other diverse color groups.”

Oceanside is reminiscent of a marine-inspired look. But Sherwin Williams says the color can be woven into practically any design style, from mid-century modern to Mediterranean, traditional, or contemporary. Sherwin Williams says the color is versatile enough to be paired with any number of other colors, from hot pinks, yellows to navy or sky blues.

For 2017, Sherwin Williams had selected Poised Taupe (SW 6039) as the hot color. The company has been pushing the brownish-gray hue into more color schemes this year. Sherwin Williams had predicted taupe to become the next “it” color base for many homes today, edging out the popularity of gray.

But for 2018, Sherwin Williams is returning to a bolder shade for its hot-pick.

“People today have a growing sense of adventure, and it is making its way into even the coziest corners of our homes,” Wadden says. “We are craving things that remind us of bright folklore, like mermaids and expeditions across continents. Oceanside is the color of wanderlust right in our own homes.”

Oceanside_Sherwin2

Photo credit: Sherwin Williams

Source:  Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine’s Staged Styled & Sold, October 5, 2017.