Smart kitchen remodeling

A complete kitchen renovation can recover approximately 62% of the remodeling costs when your home is sold.  To help ensure a good return on your kitchen remodel, planning is key. According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, allotting six months for planning and not allowing yourself to reduce it is important.  Cutting corners on planning time will often lead to cutting corners on the plan, and that means a direct impact on your remodel. Here are some other guidelines when it comes to the details of the plan.

    • Look at your existing kitchen for what works, what doesn’t, what’s required and what’s desired.  You don’t want a great plan where you forgot the refrigerator because you were too focused on getting the island added!  
  • Take a look at the traffic pattern of your kitchen so you don’t create cramped spaces, which is one of the primary things we look to get rid of in a remodel.
  • Make sure erogonomics are a planning component.  You don’t want to find that the island stops you from opening your fridge door all the way (I’ve seen that, by the way)
  • Choose everything before starting.  You don’t want to find out that your assumptions about cabinet hardware ends up not working, or that your vented hood can’t be vented.

There are other great tips in this article, so check it out.  If you’ve gone through a sizable kitchen remodel, drop a comment below to share your voice of experience!

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Posted on September 23, 2019 at 8:30 am
Jim Smoak | Posted in General Real Estate, Maintenance |

The hurricane is gone; now what?

With Hurricane Dorian effects on the east coast of the United States, there are a number of things homeowners need to consider when it’s time to assess material damage in the wake of a major hurricane.  Here are some great tips from an article I just read.

Your home has sustained damage, now what? Document the damage by taking photos/videos and save all receipts for supplies for repairs. It’s a good idea to make temporary repairs to prevent further damage. This can be as simple as covering a hole on the roof or window with a tarp or plywood. Also, contact your insurance company as quickly as possible to get the claims process started.

What’s covered by my insurance policy? Property damage from wind is usually covered under your standard policy. However, flood damage is not. This coverage is normally purchased separately through the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program or a private insurer. Renters’ policies only cover the renters’ belongings, whereas the structure is insured by the landlord. Damage to your vehicle from wind and flooding is covered under your auto insurance policy’s optional comprehensive coverage.

What else is covered? Ask your insurance agent, but most insurance policies help cover some costs beyond structural damage or belongings such as the cost to evacuate, temporary housing if your home is uninhabitable from damage sustained during the storm. Also, talk to your employer about lost wages because of missed days of work – many businesses have insurance policies that allow them to pay employees for a set number of missed work days due to mandatory evacuation.

Can FEMA help me? The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides assistance once a disaster is declared a federal disaster. To find out if you qualify, visit and enter your address. The site also has information on FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers.

How do I avoid being scammed on repairs to my home/property? Beware of door-to-door solicitors. Contact your insurance company before signing contracts for repairs. Only work with licensed and insured contractors and obtain more than one estimate. Get everything in writing, including material and labor costs and a schedule of work to include a completion date. Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until all work is completed. Contact your state’s department of insurance if you think you’re being scammed or to report suspected fraud.

I hope this article helps!  Let me know if you have any comments or questions.

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Posted on September 6, 2019 at 12:09 pm
Jim Smoak | Posted in General Real Estate, Insurance, Maintenance |

Home Warranty Facts

What is a home warranty and how does it work? A home warranty extends coverage for a specified contract term; after that, the homeowner can renew or cancel the contract. How do you know if you need a home warranty? Can you afford to buy one? Your home is one of the largest purchases you’ll ever make, so any extra precautions you can take to save your investment is beneficial. If a plan fits into your budget, it may be worthwhile to avoid massive hassles later.

Are you a first-time home buyer? Do you own or plan to purchase an older, mobile or tiny home? Do you own a rental property? Do you plan to sell your home? You may not need to purchase a home warranty if you have 1% of the purchase price set aside for repairs (see my post on emergency repair funds).

Here’s what to look for when researching policy options and purchasing a contract. There are three basic kinds of home warranty plans, each escalating in cost and coverage. The first covers one particular appliance. The second covers multiple appliances. The third covers major appliances and systems, such as HVAC and electrical. Even the most expensive home warranty plans might not cover all your home appliances or systems, so you need to educate yourself on the details.

A home warranty is not the same as homeowners insurance. Homeowners insurance covers accidental damage to your home or belongings caused by theft or natural disaster. A home warranty helps cover the repair or replacement of an appliance or system component due to wear and tear.  Questions you should ask:

  • Is the home warranty I want redundant?
  • Will I have to complete a home inspection before I buy a policy?
  • How does the claim process work?
  • Will there be a charge for repeat visits if the problem continues?
  • Can I cancel my policy at any time?

Managing Risk – A home warranty can provide a lot of value, especially if you buy an older home. Some buyers may think they’re not needed, especially if they’ve gone without issues for years. The best idea is to get several quotes from providers to compare prices and coverage. Then decide which, if any, is the best home warranty company for you.

To ensure you’re accessing the best home warranty plan, your home warranty should have a clear contract that you can easily read and understand. You should have the option to choose from a variety of plans and find one that fits your specific needs and budget.

The article linked below has many more good points so be sure to check it out. Drop and comment and let me know your thoughts!

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Posted on August 20, 2019 at 12:16 pm
Jim Smoak | Posted in Maintenance |

Maintenance and Repair Costs Homeowners Should Prepare For

Having an emergency fund is a fairly well known and followed practice. The interruption of income or a family emergency that requires travel and time off from work are common issues where this practice comes in handy. However, it seems to be far less common to have a fund for household maintenance and repairs. I must admit that I don’t have one. That said, after reading this article, it seems to make good sense.

I currently live in a home that was new construction when we purchased it. Although we haven’t had any major issues with the home that we had to come out of pocket for in our first few years of living in it, the author’s point about “builder grade” landscaping has certainly rang true and we’ve had to invest in taking care of unplanned issues in our yard.

Earlier in my marriage, we purchased what seemed to be a fairly well maintained but older home and although the “bones” of the home stood the test of time, appliances started to fail shortly after we moved in.

What has been your experience? Have you owned a home where having a household budget was or would’ve been a beneficial thing to have? Check out the article and drop a comment below and let me know your thoughts!

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Posted on August 20, 2019 at 11:58 am
Jim Smoak | Posted in Maintenance |

What is a home warranty and do you need one?

I’m usually skeptical when it comes to 3rd party warranties, such as extended warranties sold by retailers of consumer electronics. Sometimes they make sense to purchase, but in my estimation, most do not.

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Posted on July 27, 2019 at 12:44 pm
Jim Smoak | Posted in Maintenance |