Home Improvement

Home Improvement Projects That Require The Help Of A Professional


Photo via Pixabay by Tookapic

Home improvement is a multi-million dollar industry, with thousands of Americans tackling projects both big and small every year. Whether you need to repaint your dining room or replace the roof, your home improvement project will require quite a bit of care and thought to ensure it’s a success. Not only that, you’ll need to think about whether it will be a DIY task or one that necessitates the touch of a pro. This is because some projects are dangerous and require special training to complete. Also, if you attempt to make a repair or major change without the right knowledge or tools, you run the risk of making a mistake that could be very costly to fix. 

Fortunately, there are many service professionals around the country who are ready to help out. Look online for pros near you, and do a little price comparison to make sure you’ll get the best deal. In some cases, your homeowners insurance may help you pay for the repairs--such as a new roof--but you’ll need to talk to an insurance rep to find out exactly what they will cover. 

Here are a few things to think about when it comes to home improvement.


There are very few roofing projects that are DIY, mostly because they can be so dangerous and require a lot of special skills. That’s why it’s crucial to make sure you find the right contractor for the job. Do a little research online before making a decision and take the time to read reviews. Roofing scams are, unfortunately, all too common these days, and can take weeks or even months to come to light, as they rely on giving the appearance of having fixed a problem. As soon as bad weather rolls in, the unsuspecting homeowner realizes that the issue was never fixed, and they may be out thousands of dollars to make things right. Once you find a credible roofing company, do some price comparisons to make sure you get the best deal.


Remodeling jobs are often taken on as DIY projects, but it’s important to make sure you get professional help for the big stuff, like redoing a basement. That’s because this part of the home is more than just a storage space or recreational area; it’s also a crucial part of the structure, and major problems can arise if the walls or flooring become compromised. Also, entrances and exits are often regulated by the city for safety reasons, so you’ll need to do some research on that before getting started. Hire a pro who can come in with knowledge of basement rooms and help you make the most of this space safely.

Electrical work

Anytime electrical work is done in a home, there is a risk of danger or even death, so it’s imperative to call in a pro when you need help with wiring, especially if your home is more than ten years old. When you’re dealing with electricity, you need to make sure the job is done right the first time and that any old issues are taken care of, since there’s a chance not just of electrical shock, but also fire and smoke damage.

Toxin removal

Many older homes have paint or insulation that contains toxins such as lead, mold, and asbestos. These are highly dangerous and can cause everything from allergy-like symptoms to kidney problems to death, so it’s crucial to make sure they are removed from your home by a professional who has the right tools for the job. Other types of mold can be found in damp areas of the home, such as in bathrooms and basements, which can typically be cleaned with a mixture of hot water and bleach. However, if the dampness has caused damage to baseboards, walls, or flooring, a pro should fix those areas.

Home improvement projects can become very costly if they aren’t done right the first time, so keep this in mind when shopping for a contractor or other professional. Spending a bit now may help you save thousands of dollars down the road, and you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your home is in good hands.

How to Replace a Toilet Handle


How to Replace a Toilet Handle

By: Oliver Marks

Published: December 14, 2012

Replacing a toilet handle is one of the easiest — and most-common — DIY projects. Here’s what you need to know.

Is your toilet flush handle broken, rusted, pocked, or just plain and old-fashioned looking? Maybe it’s always loose, no matter how many times you tighten that nut on the inside of the tank?

Replacing it with a new flush handle updates the look of the toilet -- and therefore, the whole bathroom — and takes care of annoying wiggles.

It’s an affordable, easy, do-it-yourself job, says Mt Pleasant, S.C., handyman Tim Shaw, who specializes in low-cost bathroom makeovers.

1) Open the tank. Remove the tank lid and set it on a spread-out towel in an out-of-the-way spot (be careful — porcelain is brittle). Look for a model name or number printed inside the tank (as well as the brand name on the outside), and write that information down. It may come in handy when you buy a replacement handle.

2) Unhook the lift chain. You’ll see that the handle is attached to a long arm inside the tank, and that the arm is linked to a chain that lifts the flush valve. Note which hole the chain is hooked to (there are usually three or more holes on the arm) and then unhook the clasp that holds the chain to the arm.

3) Remove the old handle. Use a crescent wrench to remove the nut inside the tank that holds the handle in place. Be careful: For the vast majority of toilets, the nut has left-handed threads, which means they turn in the reverse direction of a normal nut. If you were to face the nut directly, you’d turn it clockwise to loosen it.

Don’t force it, because if you turn it hard the wrong way (or the wrench slips and slams into the tank wall), you could crack the porcelain. If the nut is rusted in place, give it a shot of lubricant, such as WD-40, and try again. Once you loosen the nut, remove it by hand, and slide the arm through the hole.

4) Purchase a replacement. The replacement part you need is called a “toilet trip lever” and it includes the handle and swing arm. They retail for under $20, but models for high-end toilets may cost $50 to $100. Though some trip levers are labeled as universal replacements, there really is no such thing. There are differences between the length and angles of the arms, the placement on the tank (left or right, front or side), and the style and finish of the handle.

Go to a plumbing supply or home center that sells your toilet brand, and ask your retailer for help choosing the right fit. Show them the model number and brand name of your toilet.

“Bring the old handle to the store with you to help select a matching new one,” advises Shaw. “That way you can compare the old piece to the new products being sold.”

5) Attach the new handle. Use a soapy scrub sponge to clean any mildew or rust stains off the porcelain around the handle hole. Remove the nut from the new handle, and insert the arm into the hole. Slide the nut back over the arm and hand-turn it onto the handle base — again, remembering that it’s likely a left-handed thread.

Use a crescent wrench to firm it up, but don’t over-tighten or you could crack the porcelain.

6) Attach the chain. Clip it to the same hole as on the old arm. Then do some test flushes. You want the flush mechanism to open and close fully. If the chain is too loose, the tank won’t drain fully. If too tight, the chain may prevent the flush valve from seating properly, causing it to leak continually.

Adjust by switching which hole the chain is clipped to, or by adjusting the chain up or down a link or two. Keep testing until the flush works just right. Once you’re satisfied, replace the tank lid and you’re done.

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visit http://87778.mobi/LKHOMES for your FREE search.
Laura Key, CalBRELic #0198085

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Beautiful Tile Work

This beautiful tile work was found in a bathroom located by the pool! Just Gorgeous! Its bright and detailed.  In my opinion you just can't go wrong with mermaids by a pool.image

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10 Most Desirable Do-it-Yourself Outdoor Projects

Increasing the value of your home does not have to mean it's costly! Call me today for free Home Checkup! Laura Key 310.866.8422


The warmer weather has home owners looking to spruce up their home’s outdoor spaces. So when it comes to do-it-yourself outdoor projects, which projects are most home owners tackling?

A survey of more than 1,200 home owners by the Home Project Council identified the following DIY outdoor projects as most desirable:


1. Plant a garden

2. Use decorative pebbles, stones or rocks for landscaping

3. Build a deck

4. Create a fire pit or barbecue pit

5. Build a patio or walkway using concrete pavers or bricks

6. Install or build a shed or storage building

7. Stain or paint siding or windows

8. Build a privacy fence

9. Stain or paint exterior concrete surfaces (patio, pool deck, driveway, sidewalk, etc.)

10. Repair or seal concrete cracks in patios, steps, or driveways

Home owners identified the most difficult or intimidating DIY outdoor projects as being building an outdoor kitchen and pouring concrete slabs for patios, steps, or sidewalks, or building a deck, according to the survey.

Source: Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR(R) Magazine

Want to know what your home is worth in this market? Give me a call for a free CMA Laura Key 310.866.8422

5 Home Inspection Red Flags

Inspection is always a good way to see the bones of your new home! Do not ever skimp on inspection!  Laura Key 310.866.8422


A home inspection is a buyer’s opportunity to see if any problems lurk that may prove expensive to fix later. Home inspections nearly always uncover something in a home to watch for or minor repairs needed. But what repairs should buyers especially be alarmed about that could possibly send them back to the negotiation table? Tom Kraeutler of The Money Pit, a nationally syndicated radio show on home improvement, points out some of the following home inspection red flags:

  1. Termites and pests: The sooner termites are detected, and steps can be taken to get rid of them, the better.
  2. Drainage issues: A home that has poor drainage can have wood rot and wet basements and crawlspaces, which can then lead to major mold growth.
  3. Mold: Pervasive mold growth may indicate an issue with improper ventilation issues and can also cause health issues to those living in the home.
  4. Faulty foundations: A cracked or crumbling foundation could be a very expensive repair.
  5. Wiring issues: Outdated wiring or overloaded circuits can pose a fire hazard. 


Call me today! Let's get you started on making your home dreams come true! Laura Key 310.866.8422

Condominiums – Should You Consider Purchasing One

Condominiums tend fall into the love them or hate them position for buyers


Condominiums are all about communal living, which can be good or bad depending upon your personal views. This type of communal living doesn’t refer to the failed experiments of the sixties wherein hippies packed into a structure and shared everything. Instead, the modern condominium community is all about sharing common spaces as well as rules, rules and more rules.

Condominiums come in all shapes and forms. Condos can be found in a single high rise building in a downtown area or in an apartment complex type of layout in a planned community. The structure isn’t the determining point. Instead, the issue is how the properties are owned.

Unlike a stand alone home, the property lines on a condominium are the walls of the structure. Essentially, you own everything inside the condominium as your individual property. Everything outside the condominium is owned jointly with the people who own the other units. These areas are known as common areas and are subject to group rule.

Every condominium has a homeowners association in one form or another. The association has rules set out by the original developer regarding landscaping and so on. Members of the community are then elected to the board of the association, whereupon the immediately become a focal point of aggravation from individual owners and often wonder why they took the thankless job.

The problem with the association and condos in general is the issue of uniformity. If you desire to change the exterior of your condominium in some way, you must comply with the rules of the association. This means you cannot paint your property a different color, do landscaping and so on. For some people, this isn’t a problem, but others are frustrated they can’t express themselves.

When deciding whether a condominium is a good option for your next purchase, you need to carefully weigh the restrictions of a particular association. If you consider yourself an individual and want to show it, a condominium is probably a very poor choice for you.


Laura Key, BRE 01908085


Where Asking Prices Are Rising the Most

California is rising fast, yet it's not at the highest it's ever been. Interested in buying or selling!  Let me assist you in reaching your real estate goals! Laura Key 310.866.8422

House in Hand

Median list prices in May edged up 2.10 percent month-over-month, as housing inventories also were on the rise, creating a greater balance between supply and demand, according to realtor.com’s latest Real Estate Health Report. 

The nationwide median list price was $199,000 for May, and up 4.79 percent year-over-year. 

"We are seeing large regional markets across the country leading the way to national recovery. These regions are acting as a microcosm for what's slowly happening in the larger real estate market," says Steve Berkowitz, chief executive officer of Move. "Overall, we're seeing seller confidence beginning to respond to consumer demand. Nationally, there are more homes going on the market for a shorter amount of time.  And this is happening in our hot markets on a much larger scale."

California housing markets are seeing some of the highest median price gains. The following 10 markets have seen the highest year-over-year list price gains: 

1. Sacramento, Calif.: up 42.45%

  • Median list price: $284,900

2. Oakland, Calif.: up 38.27%

  • Median list price: $495,000

3. Detroit, Mich.: up 31.73%

  • Median list price: $125,000

4. San Jose, Calif.: up 30.58%

  • Median list price: $679,000

5. Los Angeles-Long Beach, Calif.: up 27.80%

  • Median list price: $428,000

6. Fresno, Calif.: up 27.48%

  • Median list price: $219,900

7. Phoenix-Mesa, Ariz.: up 27.03%

  • Median list price: $235,000

8. Stockton-Lodi, Calif.: up 25.63%

  • Median list price: $199,750

9. Reno, Nev.: up 24.23%

  • Median list price: $235,900

10. Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Lompoc, Calif.: up 24%

  • Median list price: $775,000

Source: realtor.com®

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Laura Key

Realty Goddess

Laura Key on CBS News

Make Your Pad Reflect You

Hey men should know how to trick out their pads just as much as women do! I have a high amount of male clients who purchase homes, and they don't need Martha Stewart to make it their own!  Ready to have your OWN space men? Call me! Laura Key 310.866.8422

home designs for men
home designs for men

Whether you're a sports buff or the trendy guy in your posse, we've got ways to make your pad part of your image.

By Karin Eldor, Fashion Correspondent

Page 1: Bachelor pad furniture

If you are where you live, what does that say about the maintenance and effort you have to put into your home? Well, that all depends on what you want others to think about you. So if you're decked out in expensive threads, your effort won't mean much if your place is a disaster, or worse, not a reflection of you. 

Whether you live in a small apartment, a 1,500-square-foot condo or a three-level house, the home you call your own is your representative. And when a fine lady comes over to pay you a visit, you want to make sure she's impressed by your space. 

You don't need to be an interior designer or spend tons of cash to be proud of your pad. As long as you feel comfortable in it, you will hold your head up high... even while lounging in your favorite chair. 

who are you?

Start by asking yourself the following questions, for a self-inventory checklist: 

How would you describe yourself? (athletic; cultured; ambitious; stylish; indifferent; etc.) 

What are your hobbies? (mountain climbing; traveling; scuba diving; world history; wine tasting; golf; playing music; screenwriting; etc.)

These might seem obvious to you, but remember; making your home a reflection of you is worthless without knowing what your image is -- or at least what you want it to be. 

No passions or traits have to be exclusive; you are likely an amalgamation of characteristics and that can be reflected in your home. 

get started

The following are different broad categories that can be used as templates for decorating your pad, to bring out the "you" you're going for (based on your profile). Remember; you can be a combination of each of these categories. 

The Athletic DudeWhether you're usually glued to the TV watching the big game (and this can mean several simultaneous games) or love reciting sports scores with your buddies after scoring big in your own football game, sports are your thing. Show your appreciation by adorning your home with things like vintage sports jerseys and mementos. And of course, you can't forget a widescreen plasma TV (50 inches or more) -- made larger than life with surround sound -- so that you can watch the game in style while sitting in a super cool recliner. 

The HipsterWhen it comes to style, you've got it in spades -- at least that's what your friends tell you. You're a leader who always knows the trends before they hit the streets and your posse relies on you to dictate the latest fashion. This character trait could get pricey when it comes to your home, which is why I recommend starting with a classic, neutral base for the expensive items (i.e. couch, dining table, etc.) and decking your pad out with ultra-hip accessories like cool lamps, trendy vases, a stylin' coffee table, and cutting-edge gadgets. 

Whether you're cultured or ambitious, here are some ideas for your home...

Page 2: Home decor

Credit: Getty Images

The Cultured BlokeThe ladies are always impressed by your appreciation for the finer things in life, be it your knowledge of fine wine, your travels to Botswana and Brussels, or your penchant for investing in valuable art. Make your pad your canvas by covering the walls with your favorite paintings, and rather than a table from Pottery Barn or Ikea, search for an antique table last used by Louis IVX. Store your wine collection in a slick wine cabinet and display your African masks in the living room. 

The GourmetThere's nothing wrong with knowing your way around the kitchen; after all, you've been known to woo women with your creations. Show your female guests that you can satisfy their hunger (and more) by investing in a luxurious kitchen. If you enjoy spending time experimenting with food, make yourself more comfortable by installing a kitchen island, and treat yourself to an industrial-style stainless steel oven range. Pimp up your kitchen with a slick fridge or exhaust hoods, a rack to hang copper pots and pans over your oven or island, or, for those on a tighter budget, accessorize with appliances like a sleek toaster, blender and coffee maker. 

Credit: Getty Images

The Zen Master Show off your inner peace by placing fresh bamboo or stones in clear glass vases, or for a bigger investment, treat yourself to a Jacuzzi with jets in your favorite bathroom. Maintain a minimalist look with white walls and furniture, and an overall sleek decor. 

The WorkaholicWhile this might not be a character trait you want to flaunt, you can spin your workaholic tendencies as "ambitious." Set up a home office with a flat-screen computer, a state-of-the-art desk chair, and a slick table with a lot of organizational features to make you look like a guy who's always in control. 

maximize your space

You don't need to overhaul your home to give it that unique touch that's "you." If you've been living in your home for a while and are already settled in, sometimes a slight reorganization can do the trick, as can a paint job and some new accessories.

Source: www.AskMen.com

Bankruptcy And Buying A House - Is It Smart To Buy A House After Bankruptcy?


Each year, millions of people file bankruptcy as a means of erasing their consumer debts. While this approach may relieve stress, a bankruptcy is damaging, and will hang over your head for the next ten years. Still, it is possible to overcome bankruptcy. The key is making smarter financial and credit decisions. With this said, some people choose to purchase a home after a bankruptcy. Here are a few pointers to consider when buying a home.


Each year, millions of people file bankruptcy as a means of erasing their consumer debts. While this approach may relieve stress, a bankruptcy is damaging, and will hang over your head for the next ten years. Still, it is possible to overcome bankruptcy. The key is making smarter financial and credit decisions. With this said, some people choose to purchase a home after a bankruptcy. Here are a few pointers to consider when buying a home.

Reasons to Delay the Buying Process after Bankruptcy

If you consult with mortgage or financial experts, they will likely discourage you from buying a home following a bankruptcy. After your bankruptcy is discharged, there is a black cloud that looms over your credit report.

When any prospective lender reviews your report, they will be notified of your recent or past bankruptcy. In some instances, this justifies an immediate denial. On the other hand, there are lenders eager to help you establish or rebuild your credit. Thus, they will approve a loan request. Nonetheless, the penalties are steep.

Higher mortgage rates can be anticipated when purchasing a home after bankruptcy, especially if you have not established other credit accounts. Mortgage lenders consider two factors: credit scores and credit reports.

Although a bankruptcy appears on your credit report, having a high credit score will increase your odds of getting a comparable rate. Unfortunately, if you buy immediately following a bankruptcy, you will not have the opportunity to boost your score.

Reasons to Buy a Home after Bankruptcy

Lenders will approve mortgage loan applications one day following a discharge. Therefore, it is possible to get a home after a bankruptcy. Buying a home is perfect for rebuilding credit. Moreover, it is the quickest way to increase your credit score.

After a bankruptcy, the average person has a credit score below 600. Good credit consist of credit scores 650 and above. Maintaining current mortgage payments will gradually increase your score. After two years of regular payments, you will have established a good payment history. Hence, you may qualify for a low rate refinancing, which may lower your mortgage payments.

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Appraised Value: The Ups & Downs Of How Much A House Is Worth

How is the fair market value of a real estate property actually determined?

Home Question

Determining Fair Market Value is an eternal struggle and major balancing act. That’s because buyers want a house to appraise on the low side—to keep the purchase price down. While sellers want the same house to appraise on the high side—to make the sale price higher. And then you’ve got the owners of the house—who also want the appraisal to be on the low side, in order to keep the property taxes down.

So with all these different agendas and points of view, how is the fair market value of a real estate property actually determined?

Once a year, your county sends all area homeowners official notices that put a dollar value on their property. And property taxes are based on those dollar values. But before those notices get sent out, a long, detailed process usually takes place. First, the land is valued as if it’s vacant—an empty lot, in other words. Then any improvements are described and measured. Improvements consist of the house and any other structures, pools, sheds, garages, and so forth. Next, most counties check the Marshall Valuation Service Cost Guide. It’s a standardized nationwide guide for determining the value of the cost per square foot to build a building that fits the description of the improved property. Next, if the house isn’t brand new, the replacement cost is considered, as well as depreciation; the year the house was constructed and the condition of the property are factors here. Appraisers then must take the critical step of comparing the value of the house with recent selling prices of similar homes in the neighborhood. At this point, the appraisal might stand “as is”—or it might be adjusted upward or downward.

Market Value is a theory, in other words—not an unchanging fact.

In a perfect world, you have to have willing buyer and a willing seller. Neither is under duress. Both are in a position to maximize gain and are trying to do this. But in the real world, things are rarely that simple and equally balanced. Which is why people feel differently about the appraisal value of a house. It really depends how strong their position is as a buyer or seller.

Does the local economy come into it at all? You bet it does.

Ask a successful Realtor about that! He or she will tell you they’ve noticed that the Rio Grande Valley’s fast-growing economy is attracting people from other areas who consider real estate here a bargain. That helps fuel increases in property values.

So—now you know where that Grand Total comes from.

You’re armed with the information you need to make a better house-buying decision. For instance, you can understand how two virtually identical houses that are in two different neighborhoods could be very far apart in price and appraised value. And why your choice of the right house in the right neighborhood could be worth a not-so-small fortune to you right now—and years down the road.

 Sellers! You can get a great idea of how  much  your home is worth! Call me for a FREE Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) Laura Key 310.866.8422