Tips for Creating a Stellar Home Office in a Small Home

sebfreyBlog, Home Care Tips

Home Office

There are many benefits that come with working from home. You don’t have to commute to an office, you can set your own hours, and you have minimal overhead to deal with if you are starting a business, to name a few. However, whether you are telecommuting part-time, full-time, or working as an entrepreneur, you need a space to call your own that allows you to work efficiently. And if you live in a small home, it can be challenging to create a workspace that helps you to separate your work and home life. But it’s possible! Here are some tips for putting together a home office in a small living space. Think about Your Needs First of all, what do you need from your home office? Consider the type of work you do and the equipment and space you will need to do it productively. Do you need a desktop, printer, shredder, multiple filing cabinets, and a brainstorming station? Or will a laptop, small desk, and chair suffice? Evaluating your needs will help you determine the location and layout of your workspace. Get Cash Even budget-friendly home offices require you to invest something, whether it’s in equipment, paint, decor, storage solutions, or any other number of items. Draw up a plan to see how much your workspace will cost, and if you don’t have the cash set aside for it, consider refinancing your mortgage. By refinancing a home, you will replace your existing mortgage with a new, larger one. The money left over will go … Read More

9 Creative Ways to Pay for Home Repairs

sebfreyHome Care Tips

Making Repairs to your Home

One of the less enjoyable aspects of home ownership is the inevitable need to do home repairs. No matter how pristine the condition was when you bought the home, any home will need upkeep and maintenance over time. And the longer you defer the maintenance, the more expensive it becomes. Perhaps the time has come for you to sell your home, and it’s looking like you’ll take a big hit on the price unless you can do some repairs – but that’s expensive, and you’re low on cash. Here’s a list of 9 creative ways to pay for home repairs and prepare your home for sale. #1: Have a garage sale. If you’re going to be moving in the next few months, you probably will need to get rid of a lot of stuff. Why not start now? You may have unused vehicles, tools, appliances, jewelry, artwork, collectibles, and other potentially valuable items lying around just collecting dust that don’t add much value to your life. Consider selling them at a garage sale, on Craigslist, or eBay to add a few hundred or thousand dollars to add to the repair fund. #2: Use a HERO Loan. A HERO Loan is meant to help homeowners do energy-efficient upgrades to your home (such as solar panels) but in fact can be used for a number of projects including heating and cooling, plumbing and fixtures, lighting, roofing and walls, windows and doors, and landscaping. These loans are paid on your property tax bill and are easy to qualify for. Check … Read More

Repairing Cracks in Stucco and Drywall

sebfreyHome Care Tips

Cracks in Stucco

Is there an easy and affordable method for repairing cracks in stucco and drywall? The other day I was out inspecting a house with a buyer client of mine, who also happens to be a general contractor. This home was about 45 years old, with a stucco exterior. Unsurprisingly, there were a few cracks in the stucco – but not many, especially considering the age of he property. I mentioned that my own home had a lot of cracks in the stucco, mostly where the stucco had been cut and patched over the years as the house had undergone various modifications. I casually asked my client how much he thought it would cost to re-stucco my home. His answer? Don’t bother. Just fill in the cracks, and re-paint with elastomeric paint. I had never heard of elastomeric paint before. It turns out, it’s a special paint designed for exterior applications on stucco and brick, and it’s formulated to expand and contract. It does cost a bit more than typical exterior paint, and cannot be applied by a paint sprayer (it goes on with a brush or a roller). It sounds pretty awesome, and when I do go to re-paint my house in a year or two, I’ll be sure to use it. As it happens, I also have a number of cracks in the drywall of my house – another common issue for homeowners. I probably have more cracks than most, due I think to the fact that my house is built on expansive soils. I … Read More

Water Conservation and Quality Issues for the Homeowner

sebfreyCommentary, Home Care Tips

Google Hangout Logo

I recently did a Google Hangout with Gerry Bulfin of CleanWaterStore.com in Santa Cruz, California. We spent a half hour or so talking about water convservation and quality issues for the homeowner. I actually learned quite a bit, and I expect a lot of you will too. Check out the video: We touched on a range of topics, including water usage auditing, low flow toilets and shower heads, ultra low flow toilet technology, greywater irrigation for landscaping, rain barrels, reverse osmosis systems, newer water softener technology that does not use as much water as traditional ion-exchange water softeners, well water, water storage, ozonation, chlorination, and a host of other water related topics! Hear the Audio Only Version Download audio file… See also: CleanWaterStore.com Scale Stopper No-Salt Water Softener WellOwner.org City of Santa Cruz Rain Barrel Program

Turf Paint turns Dead Lawns Green

sebfreyHome Care Tips

Turf Paint

In most parts of California, we are today going through the worst drought in recorded history. As a consequence, water rationing is in effect in many communities. And even where water isn’t rationed by law, dramatically higher water rates are having a similar effect. Throughout California, dead lawns are everywhere, sprawling in front of otherwise immaculate houses. Many people are taking our their lawns, replacing them with native plants, vegetation, rocks, and other ground cover such as artificial turf. Whatever kind of landscaping that requires little or no water is in, and traditional sod grass lawns are definitely going out of fashion. What if you aren’t interested in replacing your lawn, and you don’t like the dead grass look, but you want to save water? For you, there’s Turf Paint! Turf Paint is a great product that turns dead lawns green. There are a number of kinds to choose from – just go over to Amazon and check them out. They’re not very expensive, and they’re actually a green product. They save water, and they’re non-toxic and bio-degradable. They’ve been using it for years in golf courses, and actually, it doesn’t look too bad. It might be just the ticket for your lawn, especially if you’re looking for a quick easy fix-up as part of your home staging strategy before putting your home up for sale. See also: The Economist article on California lawns painted green

Best Home Improvements

Seb FreyHome Care Tips, Santa Cruz Real Estate

It’s springtime, the time when many home owners fancies turn to thoughts of selling their property and repeaping a huge reward.  The big question many of them have is:  what can I do to my home so as to sell it quickly and get the best price, without pouring a king’s ransom into the property first? That’s why we now have a list of the Best Home Improvements for the money. I’ve been asked this a few times lately, so I thought I’d write about it in my blog.  Here is what it comes down to: 1) Curb Appeal:  your home should look magnificent from the street.  Many times when I’ve been out with buyers, if the home appears to be dilapidated or “junky” in any way, that’s enough of a turn-off to make buyers say, “Forget it, let’s drive on to the next one.”  To enhance curb appeal, you might consider doing the following: a) Pressure wash the exterior walls, including driveway, sidewalks, porch, decking, etc.  Don’t forget the windows, although you might want to do this by hand if possible. b) Paint the exterior of the house – if that seems like too much work, re-paint the trim, and the door.  While you’re at it, replace the doorknob and other hardware if it appears dull and can’t be polished up. c) Trim the grass, trim the hedges, pull weeds, plant flowers, add some ground cover if you don’t have a lawn (e.g. redwood bark) 2) Remove clutter:  when a buyer enters your home, he … Read More