Friday, May 20, 2016

Fire Season's Coming! Are You Prepared?

One thing we have here in California among our seasons is Fire Season.  It's an annual constant, and something you can prepare for. After all, California overall has a long history of devastating wildfires that have damaged or destroyed many homes. You can save yourself a lot of grief by some well timed work on your property.
Northern California homeowners enjoy some of the world’s most spectacular scenes of natural beauty just beyond their front doors. But wildfires are a fact of life here, just as much in wooded suburban neighborhoods as in backcountry fields and forests.fireenginesm
Last week was Wildfire Awareness Week in California, an annual effort by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection — also known as Cal Fire — to remind homeowners that a little bit of planning and simple preventive measures can go a long way toward keeping fire risks low and your families safe as the summer fire season approaches.
Cal Fire has packaged its advice in a series of downloadable brochures collectively called “Ready, Set Go!
The “Ready” brochure shows how to create a “defensible space” around your home by trimming trees and keeping grass and shrubs a safe distance away. It recommends a 30-foot zone around your home with trimmed vegetation as a buffer against sparks and flames, and a larger zone extending 100 feet from the home with trees and shrubs widely spaced to slow a wildfire’s advance.
Cal Fire also offers tips to to fortify your home. The roof is the most vulnerable part of your home, and wood or shingle roofs are at high risk of being destroyed during a wildfire. A roof made of composite materials, metal, or tile is safest. Also, make sure that all vents are covered to prevent sparks from traveling inside.
Dual-pane windows are recommended, with one pane of tempered glass. And consider limiting the size and number of windows that face large areas of vegetation.
Decks and exterior walls should be made of ignition-resistant materials such as stucco, fiber, or cement. If you insist on wood siding, make it fire-retardant-treated wood.
The companion “Set” brochure, explains how to develop a wildfire action plan — preparing for an evacuation and compiling an emergency supply kit. It comes with an important reminder: “In an emergency it is easy to become confused or panicked. Preparing your wildfire action plan in advance will help keep you focused and able to act quickly when evacuation is anticipated or needed.”
Lastly, Cal Fire’s “Go!” brochure is a quick-reference evacuation guide: what to do if a wildfire strikes, when to evacuate, and what to do if you become trapped in your vehicle, on foot, or in your home.
For more fire safety tips, check out dozens of downloadable fact sheets from Cal Fire. They’re free and informative, and they could save your life one day.
Aside from preparing for fire safety, there's always a lot you can do to protect your home and its value. Give us a call! We can give you good advice; Peter: (415) 279-6466; Jane: (415) 531-4091.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Remodel--How Major Should You Go?

Often, folks desiring more house will undertake a major remodel, as opposed to just selling and moving.  Why?

Sometimes it's the cost of doing a new purchase, or they don't want to move for any of a number of reasons.

High prices, a shortage of homes for sale, and a state tax regulation are prompting some California and Bay Area owners to undertake big-money renovations in order to realize the home of their dreams.
The Wall Street Journal reports on several such jobs here in the Bay Area, including a Mountain View couple who could afford only a handful of homes on their $2 million budget in a fiercely competitive market. After purchasing a relatively pedestrian-looking Tudor for about $1.6 million, the homeowners spent an additional $600,000 to give it a sleek facelift using steel, stucco, and stone. One local real estate professional told the publication that the home would now sell for $3 million.
Proposition 13, the California law that reassesses property taxes when a home is sold, can mean big bill increases for buyers given the state’s big price tags, leading some owners to stay put and reimagine their homes. The article tells the story of a San Francisco couple who transformed their plain-Jane bungalow into an eye-catching modern abode. Although the property could fetch up to $2.25 million in the current market, the owner told the Journal that he had no plans to sell.

In any event, if you need some guidance, give us a call.  We can often refer you to experts in all phases of the remodeling process.  Remember: Peter: (415) 279-6466; Jane: (415) 531-4091.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Small Isn't Always Bad

Most folks, when buying a home, have a list of important things they want their purchase to have.  One of these is as much interior space as is possible at their price point.  However, usually they run into a situation that the more floor space they want, the higher the price.  Gross Living Area (GLA) is usually measured in square feet, and frequently has a strong bearing on what a buyer will have to pay.  However, there may be a way around the dilemma.

You’ve found the perfect new home on a lovely street, in a quiet neighborhood, near top-notch schools, and within an easy commute of your job. But here’s the catch: It has two bedrooms, and you currently live in a three-bedroom home. You and your family use every square foot of your current space. Can you downsize, and if so, how?tinyhouse
With space at a premium, many Bay Area residents must sacrifice square footage in order to become homeowners. Fashioning a comfortable abode in small quarters requires getting creative with space and making adjustments. There are many benefits to downsizing: smaller utility bills, less cleaning and maintenance — and less stuff to hide or move when guests come over.
What Should You Ditch?
Make an inventory list: must-have, can-replace, and can-live-without items. Do you really need two credenzas and two reclining chairs? Take this as an opportunity to pass along furniture to friends or family who may need it. Donate it to the local community center or have a moving sale. Use websites such as Craigslist, The Freecycle Network, or eBay to give away or sell items.
Sell furniture at a consignment shop — this way it will be out of your home while waiting for the right offer. There are also services that will sell your goods on the Internet for you if you don’t have the time. You don’t need to get rid of everything, but you should have a good idea what will and won’t fit into your new space.
What Can You Store?
If you don’t want to get rid of select possessions — especially larger pieces of furniture — consider storing them for six months, then ask yourself if they are worth keeping. Maybe there really are possessions you can’t use at the moment but you want to keep for future use. Maybe there are pieces that have sentimental value you will never get rid of.
If you can afford it, consider swapping some of the furniture you are currently using with some of your stored goods at some point. That way, you can keep your house feeling and looking fresh.

How Can You Maximize Space?
There are many space-saving furniture solutions you may want (or need) to consider. For instance, loft beds allow for the space under a sleeping area to be useful — desks usually fit quite nicely here. Built-in bookshelves are attractive and functional. Storage cubes and baskets can hide the things you don’t want to store permanently but that you don’t want out in the open.
Use creative storage method, such as old suitcases, book stacks, and decorative boxes. Clutter is the enemy of the small house. Though storage will help keep your home manageable, do keep in mind that storage isn’t the end goal: paring down and minimizing is.
Roll-away kitchen islands and foldout tables can convert your small kitchen to a more workable space. Maybe you don’t have that huge eat-in kitchen you wanted, but smaller spaces are easier to work in. Placing things you regularly use in reach and storing things you don’t is key. You may be surprised at how that galley kitchen you thought was impossible to cook in might just become your favorite functional room in the house.
Can You Reimagine the Space?
Remember that you do not have to stick with how rooms were previously used: Get creative, and keep in mind that you can change a room’s function. Maybe the larger room would make a better living room even though it was presented as the dining room during the open house. Try different uses for the rooms — and if you have less furniture, this type of flexibility and change won’t be such a huge burden. You can also use area rugs and create furniture placement to “create” new spaces or to blend spaces
Instead of focusing on the lack of private space and the fact that common areas will be shared more often, focus on how the new layout will bring you and your family together. You will all need to adjust to living in closer quarters, but it will soon become the new norm. And, if you are feeling overwhelmed by the thought of downsizing, consider hiring an organizational expert. They can help you prioritize and prepare for change.

ALSO:  This type of info can also help out if you're a seller and want to maximize what you can get on the market for your home.

Regardless what your parameters are in a home, we can help! Together, we have over a half century of experience in Marin County real estate.  Let us help you! Peter: (415) 279-6466; Jane: (415) 531-4091.