Choosing The Right Contractor for Your Remodeling Project

On a new home, the day you close is an exciting one. One of the greatest experiences of adulthood is the thrill of owning a home and making it your own. However, there are also many responsibilities with all the great advantages of homeownership. Keeping your home in good repair is important as it grows older to avoid more expensive repairs in the future and to ensure that the value of your home is maintained or even increased.

 

Finding the right contractor is important for all home improvement projects. While finding, vetting, and then hiring a contractor may seem overwhelming, it doesn't have to be. Taking time to do your research and finding the best contractor for the job will produce better results and fewer headaches.

 

Prepping for the Project

 

First, set up a budget that is comfortable for your family with each home improvement project. If it is possible to split the project into stages, set a budget and plan for each stage. Consider also the project's timing as it relates to weather, family schedules and demands. A total kitchen remodel, for example, may not be the best project to plan for the same month as the graduation of your child.

 

Get Referrals

 

Ask contractors who do the work you need for referrals. Poll friends, neighbors and members of the family who have completed similar projects and ask who they have hired. Consider asking for recommendations from friends or community groups on social media or links on neighborhood apps such as NextDoor. Ask the people who made the referral key questions about the contractor they used after narrowing down the top vote getters, including:

 

·      How did they work with them?

·      Do they do a good job?

·      Did they stay within budget and schedule?

·      Have they been communicating well?

·      Have they kept the area of work clean?

·      Was your family and neighbors respected?

·      Any worries?

·      Are you going to hire them again?

 

Selecting the Top Options

 

The next step is to make direct contact with each of them after determining the top three contractors’ options. Call them and schedule an appointment on the work you need to do for a complimentary quote. Pay attention to how your questions were answered by each contractor and how eager they seemed to schedule an appointment. Evaluate how prompt they were during the meeting, their evaluation of what needs to be done, the materials / supplier suggested for the job and the quoted price.

 

Recall that you get what you pay for is a good rule of thumb; price often reflects quality. Ask what permits the job requires and if they have the right insurance. Knowing the credentials of the contractor is also important. Finally, ask for all details in writing before starting the work. Always carefully review contracts and make sure that everything stated, including the fine print, is comfortable.

 

Evaluate the Products and Materials Recommended

 

Discuss the specific products required for the job after selecting a contractor for your home improvement project. Whether the project is large or small— whether you're in need of new flooring, painting and minor repairs, or adding to a new room or whole floor, take time to discuss details. For example, if you replace appliances as part of a kitchen renovation, ask the contractor what appliances they would recommend and why, as well as the ratings for energy efficiency. Find out if buying appliances directly from a retailer is more economical for you or if it is better for the contractor to buy them at cost from a supplier. Learn about factory warranties and if the remaining warranties are valid if the contractor purchases appliances.

 

Also, if you replace your water heater and other plumbing, the details matter. Determine first whether you want a conventional water heater, either gas or electric, or a tankless system. Learn about the pros and cons of the transfer as well as the pros and cons of the proposed new system if you are transferring from one type of system to another. Get information about manufacturers, their reputation, how often they have to serve their systems and the lifespan they expect. Find out about warranties, replacement parts and recommended ways of cleaning / protecting to keep "like new" condition with plumbing fixtures. Make sure all types work in the desired space with toilets and sinks and if the space has the necessary ventilation. Make sure that all pipes are made of high-quality materials that last for many years and are installed in a way that ensures proper drainage.

 

Home enhancement projects well done can make a big difference in the quality of your home as well as the living conditions. Taking steps to find the right contractor for the job will ensure that projects are done well and that you can be proud of the results.

Top Reasons you Need Your Own Agent When Buying New Construction

Have you ever walked into the model home showroom of a brand new housing development?

There is nothing more exciting than the prospect of building a home from scratch and starting absolutely fresh in a new space. You get to pick the colors of the carpet, choose the countertops and flooring and watch as the home goes up. The nice sales people in the showroom are happy to help you through the process, but did you know that you can bring your own real estate agent to represent you?

Yes you can and here are the top reasons why you should have your own agent.

 Choose the Right Development – It’s not enough to find a lovely development; understanding the neighborhood and schools play a big part of home values.

 Choose the Right Lot – You might love the corner lot, but your agent can help you consider resale before you buy.

 Consider the Cost of Upgrades – Not all upgrades should be handled through the sales office; your agent can help you understand customary costs for upgrades.

 Contact Negotiation – Did you know that the price and terms of new construction homes can be negotiated? Your agent can get you the best deal.

 Contact Review – Your agent will ensure everything is written correctly in the contract.

 Home Inspection – Your agent will arrange a professional home inspection.

 Your Agent is Free – All this representation and help, yet the home development pays their commission.

New home construction is fun! Take advantage of all the benefits having your own agent representation brings and let the housing development pay for it.

Start your free home search today

https://laurakey.realscout.com

Creating a Home Office with Limited Space and Money: The Best Tips

Creating an office is important for individuals who do a lot of work at home, but it’s not always an easy feat to pull off. If you have limited space or are on a tight budget, you may find that carving out a workspace is a huge challenge, and that can quickly cause stress or anxiety. There are several factors to consider when creating a home office, from the location to its ability to hold all the tools and resources you need, so you’ll need to make a solid plan. Think about what the costs will be for the changes you need to make and start searching for the best deals before you make any decisions.

Think about all the ways you can make the office as efficient as possible. When you don’t have a lot of room to work with, you want to find dual uses for as many items and pieces of furniture as possible. You’ll also want to make sure your office has a door so you can work without distraction.

Keep reading for some great tips on how to create a home office on a budget.

Get Everything You Need

Whether you own a business or work remotely for a company, it’s important to think about what kinds of tech and equipment you’ll need at home. A dependable laptop, wireless printer, and comfortable chair are three main components, and you can look for savings at big box stores like Best Buy or on sites like Amazon to help you save money on all three. Look for slim, compact items for your office that will be easy to put away when not in use; this will help you save space.

Look for DIY Projects

If you already have an area in your home that will work as an office, you don’t have to go overboard with changes. Adding a coat of paint and some storage solutions will go a long way; you won’t need much in the way of furniture since the space isn’t that big. Doing what you can yourself will help you save money, so rather than hiring help, have a painting party and ask a few close friends over for pizza and a night of rolling color onto the walls.

Get Organized

When you don’t have much space, it’s crucial to stay organized to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Having lots of clutter around can lead to anxiety, so it’s best to make sure you have plenty of storage solutions. Look for ways to utilize the space to your advantage, such as hanging box shelves that will keep your supplies neat or organizing your files in an accordion folder. Use labels for everything so you can stay on top of your paperwork and keep everything separate. Retailers like Office Depot or Staples have lots of affordable options to help you out.

ake It Outside

If you just can’t give up space for an office in your home, it might be time to consider a detached office space. If you have a structure on your property that can easily convert into a home office, this is a perfect option for carving out workspace. If you don’t have a shed or garage space, look to prefab steel garage spaces that can be built quickly. Most of these buildings are highly durable and energy-efficient, plus, having detached office space is a great way to ensure productivity.


Keep It Modern

One of the best ways to save money when creating your home office is to keep things modern and uncluttered. This might mean refraining from adding a landline since it will be a monthly bill plus a large deposit, and you can simply use your cell phone when needed. You can also look to free online resources, such as Gmail or a website creator, to stay in touch with your business contacts.

Creating a home office when you don’t have much room or money to work with can be a real challenge, but it doesn’t have to be stressful or anxiety-inducing. With some preparation and a little help from your friends, you can make a space in your home that will help you stay on top of your business.

Written By:
Alice Robertson
http://tidyhome.info/
alice@tidyhome.info


Priority Tasks Before Moving In

You did it. You moved into a new home you love and now you’re dreaming of how you’re going to decorate it. But before getting into all of that, there are still some other tasks that need to be at the top of your priority list.

Changing the Locks
Double check them even if you’ve been told that there are new locks installed. It’s better to take safety measures and know that no one else has keys to your home. Call in a locksmith if you want to spend a little money or it can be done yourself.

Call an Exterminator
A great exterminator can take care of any pests that have been lurking in your home.

Get the House Cleaned Up
If it isn’t already, clean out the refrigerator, wipe down counters, cabinets, oven if needed, and plumbing fixtures. Prior occupants might have had pets or young children so it’s best to steam clean. This will free your floors of any junk or allergens.

Mechanical Equipment Cleaned
Getting your heating and cooling systems cleaned is crucial and make sure to get a service contract just in case it stops working suddenly.

Get some Closet Organizers
Keep in mind of where everything is going to get placed so it can accommodated in your closet space. A shelf or a coat hook can go a long way for making room for organization.

Meet the Neighbors
You want to reach out to your neighbors as soon as possible. It’s good to establish yourself within the community and you can get advice on some home repairs like which plumber to use. Also download the app called “NextDoor”. It’s a great way to connect to your neighbors and events!

Having these as priorities will help you move into a clean, working home. And then, you’re ready to move in with all your belongings and start making it yours!

Ready to make your move? Let’s Go….
www.KeyCaliforniaHomes.com

4 Ways to Make an LA Commute More Comfortable

In a survey of 2700 workers from 27 different cities, Los Angeles was found to have the most stressful commute in the US. Having a raging commute is not necessarily a proud title to hold but it’s definitely something that’s become synonymous with Los Angeles. It’s noted that the average LA resident spends around 140 hours sitting in traffic each year. We wanted to take a look at different ways to make the most stressful commute in America a bit more palatable (besides just getting a nicer car):

Changing The Time You Commute

What tends to be the most congested part of the traffic consists of bumping into the load of cars that comes with rush hour. Although it could be more convenient to your sleep schedule to leave the house at 8, many other people agree with you and that becomes the issue. Try waking up a bit earlier and see if you can manage shifting your schedule in a way that allows you to commute during less congested times. Sometimes specific companies require services that must remain open during specific hours (think financial) but employers can sometimes be open to negotiating hours that will result in an overall happier and more productive employee. Maybe you can be relocated to a different office or if your commute is really wearing on you, consider looking for a new job closer to where you live. Changing where you live can be an option as well.

The Drive Itself

The reason that a long commute starts to wear on us is because we view the time as lost. As we’re sitting in traffic we begin to feel the opportunity cost of the things we could be doing instead of staring at someone’s bumper. Fortunately, technology is allowing us to start taking advantage of lost time with podcasts and other audio forms of entertainment and learning. There are countless podcasts out there that fit any niche that you can think of. Audiobooks are exploding as well. Maybe you’re a music fan. Take some time (before you’re in your car) and create or download some playlists of music that you’re looking to explore. Many family friendly cars come equipped with features such as CarPlay which allow you to connect your smartphone for ease of interaction.

Make Use of the Time

Apart from taking advantage of different entertainment options, use the time to focus on yourself. Maybe you could set up an arrangement to call a loved one or catch up with an old friend during the time spent commuting. Hands free phones in cars make things easier than ever. In addition to this you can use the time to center yourself and focus on the day ahead. You might not be able to eliminate the traffic itself but you can try and distract yourself from an inevitable annoyance that could potentially ruin your day.

Carpooling

Carpooling has the potential to affect your commute on a couple levels. Having someone on the drive with you can make things a bit more manageable. You could also switch the driving responsibilities every couple days or week if the act of driving itself is the part that’s driving you crazy. It also opens up the opportunity to take advantage of the HOV lane which can be a big time saver in certain scenarios. Sometimes change can be a good thing and if you like having someone else along for the ride to share the frustration, it can help lighten the load a bit.

Hopefully you don’t let your morning commute bring you down. In trying to optimize your time and keep your stress levels above water you can manage to make things a little better for yourself. Traffic might be something inevitable but it’s important to do what you can to limit its negative effects on your life.

Don’t want to fight traffic? Find a home close to your job or that has great transit lines. Start your search now: www.KeyCaliforniaHomes.com

Homebuying Myth

Buying a home can seem like a huge undertaking. You don’t need to be a first time home buyer to find the process overwhelming. There is so much information available, how can you tell what’s true and what’s a myth? Understanding the difference can help you make the best decision for you and your family goals. Top Home Buying Myths – And the Truth  The First Step is finding the Right House – Before you head out shopping, speak with a lender to understand your financial options and how much house you can afford.  You Can’t Buy a Home Without Perfect Credit – The truth is there are many loans available which still offer good interest rates for those without that perfect score.

 You Need 20% Down Payment – First time home buyers can use FHA financing for as low as 3.5% down. There are other programs too, such as VA and some conventional loans with less than 20% down also.

 You Don’t Need an Agent – An agent not only knows the market and can help you with value, but also customary charges, negotiations and solutions to common hiccups.

 Schools Don’t Matter if you don’t have Kids – The neighborhood is always important to home values, regardless of whether you yourself have children.

 New Homes Don’t Need a Home Inspection – Every home should have a home inspection by a licensed inspector to check for existing or potential problems. Buying a home is one of the most important financial decisions you’re likely to make in your lifetime. Take the time you need to understand the process and learn from the professionals; don’t assume that everything you read is true.

Get started on your home search today!
www.KeyCaliforniaHomes.com

Quick Road Trips From LA Worth Taking

There’s nothing quite like loading up the back of your car, and taking a break from life for a few days. Road trips are always a great solution to a stressful everyday life. And driving from LA, there quite a few short trips that you can take that will not only give you the scenery change that you need but also reinvigorate you. Here are a few quick road trips from LA that you can take that are within a day’s drive.

San Francisco

This lovely city is about 382 miles away from downtown LA and only takes a few hours to reach (between five to six depending on traffic). However, if you want to draw the trip out over the course of a few days, there are plenty of stops you can make on the way.


Sometimes, taking a road trip is not about the destination, but the journey. Highway 1, Pacific Coast Highway, was recognized by National Geographic as one of the Best American Road Trips. Judging by the picturesque scenery offered on this route, it’s definitely one road you need to cruise down in a sporty car.


Stop by Santa Monica for a short beach trip, where you can also visit the famous Santa Monica Pier. The pier is a popular destination both during the day and night.


If you’re looking for something a little more interesting on the way to San Francisco, check out Solvang. Approximately two hours from LA through 101 North is this Historic Danish village in Santa Barbara county. The village is a quaint little town, where you can enjoy the local culture. Solvang is the perfect place to stop for a bite, as there are plenty of local eateries to enjoy.


The trip to San Francisco is perfect for ocean lovers, as there are gorgeous waterside spots dotted along the coast where you can stop en route to your destination.

Joshua Tree

If you aren’t interested in the beach, try going away from the coast. 2-3 hours east from LA lies the ecological marvel Joshua Tree. Affectionately dubbed J-Tree by many locals, this town sits where the high Mojave Desert meets the low Colorado desert. Joshua Tree is rich with gorgeous desert flora, majestic mountains, gold mine ruins, and plenty of boulders. The picturesque desert backdrop offers visitors and residents alike stunning views, where colorful sunsets melt into night skies that are brilliantly dotted with stars.


If you’re looking for choice destinations to stop by on the way, try Palm Springs and Coachella Valley first. Palm Springs is a premiere desert resort destination that’s teeming with personality. Here you can stop for a bite to eat, check out the local attractions, or if you’re really into stopping and smelling the roses, going for a hike. Make sure you fill up your gas tank and restock on snacks before driving off again.

Las Vegas

At first glance, you wouldn’t really consider skipping state lines but let this sink in: Las Vegas is an average of 4 hours away from LA. That’s a perfect weekend trip for a variety of occasions like birthdays or if you really need to get out of the city for a few days. There are also plenty of cool and eclectic attractions for you to check out as well. Some stops include Palm Springs and Joshua Tree!


However, if you have time for it, take exit 153a near D Street and take the historic Route 66 from Victorville to Barstow. On this leg of the trip, you’ll encounter a variety of cool stops like vintage diners, an ostrich farm, and even the Bottletree Ranch. The Bottletree Ranch is a fabulous collection of metal trees embellished with glass bottles; it makes for an interesting addition to your trip. Some other stops include the Route 66 Museum, Train Car McDonald’s, and Calico Ghost Town.


Regardless of where your destination is, these journeys are guaranteed to offer you a great time with unforgettable memories.


6 Unique Fitness Facilities & Gyms Near San Pedro, CA

San Pedro, California is a gorgeous, sun kissed town that demands energy and athleticism to experience it in all its glory. While going to the gym and lifting your standard weights is healthy, it can be boring for some. Finding a unique way to break a sweat will always help keep your commitment strong and will also keep the workouts more interesting.

The big question is — where can you find these unique fitness facilities? Good news, you came to the right place! Here are some of the top unique places you can get your workout on in San Pedro, California:

1. All Fit

If you want to see results fast, All Fit is your place. They have created many success stories for a lot of people that need to find the self discipline to get to the gym. They even offer a secret 6-week challenge that cultivates positive and healthy changes in participants lives. If that doesn’t spark interest, than I don’t know what does! Their deals are kept up-to-date here, so take a peek at their site if you are interested in joining.

2. Casa Ayurveda & Yoga

Finding zen and getting fit go hand in hand. Having your time to meditate and relax daily is crucial and yoga provides that and more; yoga simultaneously enhances your flexibility, athleticism, and clarity of thinking.

At Casa Ayurveda & Yoga, you can expect to find those fitness yoga classes that keep and maintain your attention. These workouts will be centered around your body so the only requirement you will need will be your own yoga mat and you.

If you are on the fence about trying yoga, try doing a day session. Take note how you feel at the end of class until the end of the day. Most likely, you will enjoy the feeling of clarity and come back for more!

3. Elite Training Fitness

If you’re looking to get a personal trainer or participate in group training workouts, look no further than Elite Training Fitness. From dance to crossfit to athletic training and flexibility, their friendly and professional personal trainers have the expertise to offer unique training programs for every customer.

With no contracts, no sign up fees, and no cancelation fees, it’s a unique San Pedro fitness facility that you should definitely try. Try a bootcamp class or a fitness class and see if this Elite Training Fitness is a good fit for you.

4. San Pedro Fight Club

Adrenaline can be addicting. That slow motion, heart pounding feeling is something you don’t get to experience very often. This is the feeling you get when you learn how to defend yourself against both armed and unarmed opponents at the San Pedro Fight Club. Learning how to defend yourself correctly requires great amounts of self discipline and hard work, but will have you feeling confident and healthy as ever.

The workouts will mostly consist of using your body to learn takedowns, ground grappling, and conditioning. From Jiu-Jitsu to Judo to Marine Corps Martial Arts, this mix will keep you coming back for more and keep you in prime shape for any sort of self defense.

5. Heyday Elite Fitness & CrossFit

Crossfit is the workout to rule them all. Once you get going, it is hard to pull the reins and stop! This especially applies to HeyDay Elite Fitness & CrossFit. What makes this gym unique is the outdoor training on beautiful days, and the family like environment to keep people coming back and feeling apart of a group. The training is more on the crossfit side. No need to fear though, their beginner class in non intimidating and perfect for people ready to develop a fit lifestyle! It is always a fantastic feeling when you get to work out and have a feeling of belonging.

6. Haley Clark Dance Company

Nothing can get your blood flowing quite like some good music can. You put that rhythm in with a few steps, jumps, pops, twirls, and waves and then you have a recipe for a fantastic workout! Dancing is such a good way to get just about every muscle in your body exercising. At Haley Clark Dance Company, you can expect to learn a few moves of your own that will keep you in rhythm and exercising. You can choose from hip hop, fitness classes, all around classes, and even pole dancing! Get the exercise you were looking for while having the time of your life!

San Pedro has Plenty of Fitness Options

Finding a good gym experience requires taking a good look at yourself. What exercises do you like? Do you want to workout alone or with others? What kind of exercise helps you keep going without giving up? Asking yourself these simple questions can help you to narrow down options to your exact choice. Most importantly, it is about execution.

It’s time to throw on your favorite fleece sweatpants, get yourself into one of these facilities and get to work! Taking care of your health through fitness and eating clean, nutritious foods will go a long way to ensuring you get the most out of living life in beautiful San Pedro.

If you’re looking to move anywhere in the San Pedro area, contact Laura Key at 310-866-8422 today!

What’s Causing Those Spooky Sounds and Smells?

Creaking and Popping in the Night
The many materials that make up your house — wood framing, plywood, glass, metal ducts, nails, plumbing pipes — all expand and contract at different rates. . When a house cools at night, these materials may move slightly, rubbing against each other and making noises. Occasionally, they’ll contract with an audible pop. . These sounds tend to be more noticeable in fall, when warm days give way to rapidly cooling nights. The bad news? Not much you can do about it. The good news? Those sounds are harmless and normal.

Zombie Odor
It’s either time to throw out the garbage, or you’d better call your gas utility to check on your gas lines and connections. . Natural gas is odorless, but natural gas suppliers add a foul-smelling odorant — butyl mercaptan — to alert occupants to any leaks. The smell is like rotten eggs.

Leaks can occur at your gas-fired water heater, fireplace, clothes dryer, and any gas line. Leaking natural gas is potentially dangerous — leave the house and call your natural gas provider to assess the situation. Most utility companies perform safety checks for free. .

Footsteps in the Attic
Amplified by an unfinished attic space, a raccoon or even a good-size squirrel on your roof might sound like an ax murderer is doing the polka overhead.

These rooftop transits are normal for critters — roofs offer a nice long unobstructed highway. . Make sure your soffit, rafter, and gable roof vents are covered with screens and in good shape, or your rooftop buddies might find their way into your attic for real. Trim back branches that provide critters easy access to your roof.

Something’s Burning
You can smell the odor of burnt wood, but the smoke detectors aren’t going off and there’s no smoke in the house. The culprit could be your fireplace — even if you haven’t had a fire for days. . The probable cause is a drafty chimney and negative air pressure in your home, meaning that outside air is infiltrating down your chimney, bringing stale burnt smells with it.

Stop drafts by making sure your damper has a good seal. Regulate air pressure by adding more cold air return ducts to your HVAC system. You’ll get rid of the odor and save on your energy bill, too. Related: Increase HVAC Circulation

Moaning and Clattering
These classic spooky sounds often show up when the wind blows and there’s a storm brewing. Vents for clothes dryers, bathrooms, and water heaters exit out the roof or the side of the house. To prevent backdrafts, these vents have dampers — flaps designed to let vented air out and prevent outside air from coming in. These flaps sometimes move and rattle in high winds. Because dampers often are located in attics or in between floor joists, the sound can be difficult to pinpoint. You may need a new damper ($85).

Source: HouseLogic