Posted by Philip Dennesen on 5/17/2019

That kitchen sink faucet needed replacing for a while, but between the cost of the new faucet and the cost of paying the hourly rate of the plumber and his helper, it is still the same old faucet. It works—sort-of—at least water comes out. Then, while watching one of those shows (that is either remodeling a house to live in or to flip and make some money), you see them change out the kitchen faucet, and you say to yourself, "I can do that.” 

So, the adventure begins.

On the surface, changing out a faucet does not seem like such a challenging project. However, if you are not doing plumbing on a regular basis, it can get more complicated. The first step is that you have to buy the faucet you want that will look good. That seems simple enough, but there are holes already drilled in the sink or the countertop, so you must get a faucet that will fit those. There are two ways to size the holes: either remove the old fixture or get under the sink to measure the distance between the holes. (This is particularly important if this is an older home.) 

Now to do the work.

Removing the faucet requires crawling under the sink. 

  • First, remove all of that stuff stored under there.
  • Turn off the hot and cold water. If there are no valves under the sink, you need to find the master valve for the house. (If this is the situation, you might decide to install valves while you’re at it, but remember, you are not a plumber, so that might be biting off more than you can chew.)
  • Now you find that the drain pipes are in your way of trying to get under the sink to reach the backside. So, you decide to remove them to get around under there. Seems logical right? Unfortunately, you find that someone else that is not a plumber replaced those drain lines and did not put them back correctly so now you are going to have to replace those.
  • Back to the faucet you finally get the water lines removed and the nuts holding the faucet to the sink. (They're corroded—apparently, there had been a leak at some point). 

Following the instructions that came with the faucet, you get it attached to the sink, and it looks GREAT! Unfortunately, you go to connect the waterlines, and the ends do not match the faucet. So, you remove the waterlines from the inlet valve and head to the DIY store to find new lines that will fit. You also remember to take all of that drain pipe with you because you are going to need to replace it and make it fit correctly.

Wrap it up!

Now you have the new parts you can get the water attached and the drain pipes reconnected. The drain pipes look a lot different, but they work, and they do not leak. Congratulations to you! 

You have finally replaced that old faucet. It looks good, but bummer it took you all Saturday morning and then some. Maybe you should have paid that plumber for an hour. You could have done something more fun. Plumbing is one of those DIY things that when you do not do it all of the time, you NEVER have the correct pieces and you end up making several trips to the store. You are not alone.

The choice is yours: spend money or spend time. DIY can be satisfying or frustrating, so remember to start a project with your eyes open to what could be involved. Good luck! 

For a referral to a qualified plumber, check with your real estate professional.





Posted by Philip Dennesen on 5/10/2019

Whether you're trying to balance your household budget or save money to buy your first house, discount coupons can help.

Coupons alone are not a panacea that will cure budgetary woes or enable you to quickly save up for a real estate down payment, but they can play a role in achieving your financial goals.

Building up your financial nest egg or saving thousands for a down payment requires planning, organization, and motivation. While this may sound like a steep mountain to climb, the biggest challenge involves examining your values and overcoming self-limiting habits and beliefs. If you're convinced, for example, that it's impossible to save money and get ahead, then those beliefs will slow you down, if not sabotage your progress, completely.

There are a lot of reasons why discount coupons are not an effective money-saving strategy for many people, but it often boils down to three things:

  1. Disorganization: Although coupons are a marketing tool used by businesses to get consumers to buy more products and services, it's often a "win-win" situation. If a coupon happens to be for product that you need or would ordinarily buy, then it's like having extra money in your wallet. For some people, putting the coupons IN their wallet is a good way to make sure they have them when they're at the checkout counter or drive through.
  2. Pride: There's nothing undignified about using coupons, unless you have such a large stack of them that you're causing people behind you to roll their eyes, sigh loudly, or grumble under their breaths! And speaking of misplaced pride: If you're over 60, don't hesitate to claim your senior citizen discounts at restaurants, the theater, movies, public transportation, museums, car rental places, and hotels. Those savings can really add up!
  3. Lack of planning: When your trips to the grocery store are planned, rather than sponteous, you're a lot more likely to remember your coupons and your shopping list. By having your coupons with you and knowing what you need to buy, you'll be more focused and tend to spend less money on impulse items.
Effectively managing your household budget or saving money for a house down payment is usually the result of multiple strategies, rather than just using coupons or doing comparison shopping. One of the first steps to gaining control over your finances involves examining your cash flow situation. Itemizing your expenses and deducting them from your income will give you a clearer idea of where your money is going and how much you have left at the end of the month. By listing your expenses and disposable income, you can often identify "leaks" in your cash flow and find ways to stretch your dollar farther. When you assign yourself the job of "gatekeeper," you'll be surprised at the many ways there are to tighten your belt, without making major sacrifices in your lifestyle.





Posted by Philip Dennesen on 5/3/2019

Not every neighborhood is pedestrian-friendly, especially if you live on a busy highway or have no access to sidewalks. However, if you're fortunate enough to live in a walkable area (or have a chance to move to one), why not take advantage of it?

Walking in your neighborhood is a free way to stay healthier, happier, and more relaxed. As long as you don't have any health conditions that would stand in the way of taking regular walks, a daily constitutional can provide you and your family with an array of benefits.

Healthy Lifestyle: Staying physically and mentally healthy is not the result of one or two positive habits, but rather a variety of lifestyle decisions you make throughout the day. Walking on a regular basis can help you achieve weight loss goals, maintain muscle tone, and increase your energy level. A moderate exercise program can also help relieve stress, enhance your mood, and slow down the aging process.

Family Bonding: Walking in the neighborhood or at a nearby public park can be a great way for your family to spend quality time together. It's also an opportunity to take a refreshing break from television watching, social media use, the Internet, and video games. Going for family walks is a simple activity, but the benefits can be far reaching.

Neighborhood Connections: The very act of walking around in your neighborhood, every day, makes you feel more connected to your environment. It also gives you a chance to chat with neighbors, meet new ones, and observe any changes that may affect the character of the neighborhood.

Critique Your Property: When you walk past your house and yard, you can often see features and flaws that may have escaped your notice when you last drove by in your car. Looking at your property from different angles and directions can help give you landscaping ideas and point out ways you can improve the outward appearance of your home. You can also pick up landscaping and property ideas by seeing what your neighbors are doing. Curb appeal is especially important if you're planning to sell your property.

Bargain Hunting: If you happen to be taking a walk in the neighborhood when yard sales are underway, it's easy to stop and scope out the treasures being offered. One caveat: If you do find something you want to buy, especially if it's a large piece of furniture, you may have to return later with your vehicle to pick it up.

Find a New Neighborhood: If you're in the market for a new home, the walkability of neighborhoods is an important feature worth keeping in mind.

Save Gas: Sometimes it's nice to take a break from driving and walk over to your neighborhood grocery store, pharmacy, or post office. On those occasions when you only need to pick up a few small items, hoofing it over to your local retailer is an alternative worth considering!





Posted by Philip Dennesen on 4/26/2019

There are many reasons to renovate your house. If you plan on selling, renovating your old house will increase the face value dramatically. Also, it makes you more comfortable while you get the satisfaction of living in a place of which you are proud.

Some cheap renovation ideas that will not hurt your wallet but translate into a more attractive sale are:

Add Energy Efficient Windows

More than any time in history, we have so much awareness about going green. It is a good idea as it not only saves the environment but also saves money. Hence, replacing old windows with new ones that are energy efficient will reward you with tremendous returns. Immediate benefits come as a drastic reduction in your electricity bills.

Make a Deck

One of the things home buyers look for is a deck. Adding a deck is a terrific idea because it provides a fantastic spot for relaxation. While adding a deck to your house is cost incentive, think of the improvement it will have on the face value of your property. Also, if you want to sell your home, it is a sweet selling spot to get better deals. 

Use Energy Efficient Insulation

Your heating and cooling system will be difficult to maintain if you use a door that allows a lot of hot and cold air to enter your house. Your entries, windows, switches, and attics are parts of the house that needs insulation. Replace old water heaters with new tanks that are energy efficient – they save energy and ultimately reduce your bills.

Ensure a Basic Maintenance Routine

A buyer will love to know the house is in good shape before investing in it. When you spend on basic maintenance, your home becomes pretty much appealing to prospective buyers. Basic maintenance routine doesn't have to burn a hole in your pocket. Hence, be sure to take care of leaky roofs, seal cracks, replace rotten woods and fix plumbing leaks. You also need to make certain that your house is clean.

Make Your Exterior Appealing

There are many renovation ideas you can do inside the house. You, however, have to bear in mind that it is the exterior of your home that will attract prospective buyers. With this in mind, you have to try to make your exterior as appealing as possible. Invest in good paint, make sure your roof complements the siding or brick, change your garage door, and anything else that will make your home look amazing at first sight.

House renovation is a great project that will yield tremendous returns with time. Be sure to invest in worthy projects that will make your house more appealing to buyers.





Posted by Philip Dennesen on 4/19/2019

Curb appeal is a difference-maker during the home selling process. If you understand how to upgrade your residence's curb appeal, you may be better equipped than ever before to enjoy a fast, profitable house selling experience.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you improve your house's curb appeal.

1. Prioritize Lawn Care and Maintenance

If your lawn is covered in weeds and high grass, it may be overdue for a trim. Fortunately, you can mow the lawn, trim the hedges and perform assorted home lawn care and maintenance tasks to upgrade your residence's curb appeal in no time at all.

Of course, if you want expert lawn care assistance, you can always hire a home landscaping company. A typical home landscaping company employs friendly, knowledgeable lawn care specialists who can help you improve your lawn and bolster your house's curb appeal.

2. Eliminate Clutter

Lawn decorations may help you differentiate your home from others in your neighborhood. At the same time, these decorations may actually diminish the appearance of your home in the eyes of potential buyers. Also, lawn decorations may make it tough for buyers to envision what life may be like if they purchase your residence.

Remove lawn decorations, because if you have a clutter-free lawn, you can show buyers the true size and beauty of your lawn. And as a result, buyers may fall in love with your residence as soon as they see it.

3. Perform Home Exterior Repairs

If you notice cracked or chipped siding or other home exterior issues, don't wait to correct these problems. Because the longer you wait to perform home exterior repairs, the longer it may take to sell your residence.

For those who are uncomfortable about completing home exterior repairs on their own, it may be beneficial to hire a contractor. This professional will dedicate the necessary time and resources to ensure your home's exterior will impress buyers.

As you search for ways to improve your house's curb appeal, you may want to hire a real estate agent as well. In addition to offering recommendations about how to bolster your home's overall appearance, a real estate agent can serve as an expert guide along the property selling journey.

A real estate agent is happy to help you list your house, promote it to prospective buyers and host home showings and open house events. Plus, if you receive an offer to purchase your residence, a real estate agent can provide recommendations about whether to accept, reject or counter this proposal. A real estate agent will even negotiate with a buyer's agent on your behalf so you can maximize your house sale earnings.

Spend some time upgrading your residence's curb appeal – you'll be glad you did. If you can improve your home's curb appeal, you may be able to stir up lots of interest in your residence and reap the benefits of a quick, seamless house selling experience.