Evaluate Your House for a Deck

home deck

Here’s how to plan a new deck that suits your property, meets your budget, and offers the best return on your investment.

In the summertime when the living is easy, there’s nothing quite like a deck for cooking out, entertaining, or simply relaxing. In addition to boosting outdoor living space, a deck can be an asset when you sell your home.

More good news: Decks add living space at a fraction of the cost of fully enclosed living area. You’ll pay $25 to $35 per square foot for a pro-built deck compared to $100 to $250 per square foot for an enclosed addition.

If you’re a determined DIYer, plan on spending three to four weekends building a 14-foot-by-18-foot deck yourself. If you choose this route, consider buying a ready-made deck plan. Or, put to use one of the many websites with interactive design aids, such as Lowe’s Deck Designer (registration required), and Deckorators.

Planning a successful deck requires careful consideration of your site, your budget, and the features you should — or shouldn’t — include. Here are some planning priorities to bear in mind.

Deciding on the Site and Size
Your deck will be a popular place, so give careful thought to where it should be located. Begin by working out how to access it from the house. The ever-handy back door to the kitchen probably won’t do the job; it will force traffic toward the cooking area, making a shambles of any large-group entertaining. A better solution is a French door or slider that gives primary access from a living room, dining room, or family room while being handy to the kitchen. If the doorway can also be positioned to offer an expansive view, all the better.

Next, make sure the deck neither swamps your yard, nor becomes lost in it. Your local codes may set standards for how much of your lot can be occupied by a deck, and how close a deck can be to your lot line. Check these limitations early in your planning with your city or county building department.

Decide where to locate stairways off the deck so they provide unobtrusive access to the backyard. Also consider the path of the sun and the location of shade trees; sunlight may be pleasant in the morning but unbearable later in the day — having a shade tree to the west of your deck will help block the harsh late-day sun. Work out how to preserve your privacy and how to screen your deck from prevailing winds.

Think Local
To recoup a good portion of your investment, your deck needs to be right for your market. Appraiser Dick Koestner of Davenport, Iowa, recommends the simply checking out other decks in your area. “Don’t make it too extreme [compared with] what’s typical in your market,” he counsels. “Definitely don’t make it less than what is expected in the market.”

Koestner also emphasizes the importance of obeying local codes. “A lot of potential purchasers are having a home inspection done,” he says. “If the home inspector finds the deck isn’t built to code, most of the purchasers are saying, ‘Hey, fix it.’”

He emphasizes that codes exist not just to preserve property values, but promote safety. For example, railing balusters spaced too far apart can constitute a falling hazard for small children (most codes stipulate 4-inch maximum gap). In addition, a deck inadequately attached to the house can collapse, often during a party when the structure is loaded with the extra weight of many people, creating mayhem like something out of the Poseidon Adventure. So get a permit from your building department and follow their requirements.

Of course, by dint of taking out a building permit your tax assessment will rise, but only to the extent that the value of your property is increased. The effect should be minimal: Decks are considered an outdoor improvement much like a new driveway or upgraded landscaping, not additional living space.

Looking Good
Although it’s hard to put a dollar value on aesthetics, looks count. Give thought to how the deck will meld with the architecture of your house. Railings offer a good opportunity to pull in color and detail that complements your home. Consider how the deck fits in with your backyard; it should make a smooth transition from the house to the landscape.


By: Dave Toht
Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

 

12 Delightful Ways to Make Your House Brighter in Winter

Meet you under the skylight, on the white sofa, with a cream cheese brownie.

Fall and winter start cozy — who hasn’t used the colder temperatures as an excuse to binge-watch Netflix while swaddled in a couch blanket?

But come January, staying indoors can feel less like a treat and more like you’re living in a cave.

Here’s how to make your house lighter, brighter, and cheerier.

#1 Take the Screens Off Your Windows

take screens off windows

You’ll get 30% more sunlight shining indoors without screens on your windows.

Here’s the best part: Sunlight warms your room and saves you money on your heating bill. It’s solar power — for you!

Be sure to store your screens in your garage or basement where they won’t get damaged. In the spring you’ll want to put them back on so you can keep that 30% of the sun out and run your cooling system less.

Modern kitchen with wood floors
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#2 Hang Outdoor String Lights Indoors

They don’t give off a lot of light, but they’re cheerful as heck.

Drape them around a window or a mantel, or hang a string of LED glimmer lights in a tall potted plant. They’ll add a layer of soft light to your room and remind you of fireflies, flip-flops, and patio parties.

#3 Steal a Little Swedish Chic

Scandinavians excel at making a home light and airy because they’ve got places where the sun doesn’t rise at all from November to January.

And you thought you had it bad.

To adapt to weeks and weeks of polar night, Swedes keep interiors pale to reflect and amplify light.

Think white walls, light woods for furniture and floors, and light upholstery. To get the look without getting rid of your dark furniture and floors, put white or light gray slipcovers on your sofa and chairs, and put down light-colored rugs.

The fastest way to bring a little Sweden into your room is to paint it. Try creamy white, pale blue, or dove gray.

#4 Change Your Bulbs

change light bulbs to brighten room

Replace those incandescent bulbs and their yellowy light with LEDs, which produce a brighter, whiter light.

But get your bright right:

The higher the K rating on the bulb, the cooler and whiter its light.
For cool, white light, opt for a bulb rated 3,500K to 4,100K.
For blue-white light that’s closest to natural daylight, use a bulb between 5,000K and 6,500K.
Unless you live in Sweden (see above) you may want to leave the uber-high K bulbs for grow rooms and seasonal affective disorder therapy clinics — because they’re as bright as real sunlight on a hot summer day at noon. You’ll need sunglasses to read.

#5 Hang Mirrors

Make the most of that weak winter light by bouncing it around the room with mirrors.

If you don’t want the distraction of seeing your reflection all the time, use a large, convex one — also known as a fish-eye mirror. It will amplify light better than a flat one. Another option: Hang a gallery wall of small mirrors.

#6 Replace Heavy Curtains With Blinds or Roman Shades

Fabric curtains, while quite insulating, block light and make a room feel smaller and more cramped, especially if they’re a dark color or have a large print.

Try Roman shades or a simple valance paired with blinds to let in the maximum amount of natural light.

#7 Trim Branches and Bushes That Block Light

trim plants around windows that are blocking the sun

If you look out your windows and see the tops of your bushes, grab your pruning shears and get whacking.

You don’t want anything blocking that precious natural light. Same for tree limbs that may be arching down and blocking windows. Cut them off.

#8 Clean Your Windows

Dirty windows block a lot of natural light.

Admit it, yours are kind of cruddy because who remembers to block out an afternoon to clean the windows?

So get it on your list. Clean the glass inside at least once a month and the glass outside once a year. Your serotonin level will thank you.

#9 Swap Your Solid Front Door for One With Glass Inserts

A solid front door can make your house look and feel as dark as a dungeon.

Get rid of it and install a half-light or full-light door that lets the natural light stream in. For even more natural light, add glass sidelights and a glass transom.

The median cost of a new door is $2,000 for steel and $2,500 for fiberglass, before any extras, but a new door will add curb appeal.

Curb appeal equals higher resale value. And coming home in the evening to the warm glow of light radiating out the glass panels in your front door is an instant mood lifter.

Related: How to Avoid Choosing the Wrong Front Door

#10 Add a Skylight

It’s the ultimate way to bring more natural light into your house. A window only catches sun for a couple of hours a day, but a skylight lets in the sun all day.

An indoor view of the sky makes deepest January more tolerable. And feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin, light streaming from above, is liberating. A skylight, installed, can cost as much as $3,000. A cheaper alternative is a tubular skylight, which costs around $1,000.

If you’re really good with tools, you can install a tubular skylight yourself. Don’t even think about installing a full-blown skylight yourself.

#11 Add Plants

Putting pots of plants around your room will remind you that spring and green will return.

Match plants to the amount of light you have, because dead and dying plants are depressing. Tropicals that thrive in indirect light are usually the best choice. If you have a sunny window you’ve got more plant options.

Bonus points for adding a plant that blooms in the winter, like a kaffir lily or anthurium.

#12 Celebrate National Cream Cheese Brownie Day

February 10 is National Cream Cheese Brownie Day. Really. Since February is when winter is feeling longer than a seminar on insurance underwriting, this is exactly when you need to make cream cheese brownies.

Chocolate won’t make the sun shine longer or your house brighter, but it will make you feel better because … endorphins. Besides, you spent a ton of money on that marble-topped kitchen island and those double ovens, so get baking.

Source: Lenne Potts for houselogic.com

How to Be a Great Host

10 Simple Comforts Every Houseguest Will Adore You For

Never underestimate the power of an extra iPhone charger.

‘Tis the season for holiday house guests! You want them to feel welcome and here are some ideas to do just that.

Houselogic asked Airbnb hosts with tons of great reviews on their cozy bungalows and light-filled island condos for some quick, easy (and cheap!) ideas to turn your guest quarters into a vacation haven. Lucy’s sprinkled in her South Bay ideas in too. Be careful, though – your guests may not want to leave!


#1 Stock Up on Extra Chargers and Cords

A dead phone equals getaway misery. Airbnb host Valarie D’Elia sets out a bowl with power strips and cords, outlet converters, and even an iHome speaker. Nothing sets the stage for feeling at home IRL like feeling at home digitally.

And that includes posting your Wi-Fi name and password in the guest room so they don’t have to ask you for it.

#2 Offer Sample-Size Toiletries in Your Bathroom

Put your stockpile of beauty samples and hotel toiletries to good use. Don’t travel much? Bed-bath discount stores have travel size sundries. Tiny shampoos and lotions arranged in a basket or vintage apothecary jar are as welcoming as they are practical. Guests will be relieved if they forgot their own (even if only in the next room). But even if they didn’t, they’ll love the luxury of washing their hair on the house.

travel-size toiletries

#3 Raise Your Cleanliness Standards

When you miss a dust bunny at home, it’s just your own skin flakes and dried up sneezes in your own corner. To guests, it’s disgusting at best and insulting at worst.
So clean it all. Airbnb even tells hosts to scrub the entire bathroom, not once but twice, including the toilet, sink, bath, and floors after every guest.

“I want it to be clean enough that I’d feel comfortable staying,” says Jami, who rents out her beach-style cottage in Santa Monica, CA.

#4 Give It Your Personal Touch

People choose Airbnbs over sterile hotel rooms because, in part, they want an authentic, personal experience. So give it to them!

Cheryl Trotta of R.I. intentionally markets her rental as a family cottage and scatters pictures and family treasures throughout the cottage. Frame a couple of your childhood photos and hang them up alongside some mementos from your own travels.

How else would your guests discover that you were drum major of your high school marching band?

#5 Put a Radio in the Bathroom

Your guests may like to sing along in the shower, but the real reason for putting some tunes in the bath is to provide them with plenty of, well, privacy. Add an essential oil diffuser — or poo-pourri drops — and you’re in business

#6 Set Up a DIY Café

If your guests are early birds — or will just want some occasional alone time — put a coffeemaker in their room along with a well-stocked basket of coffee and tea. Maybe even blow their minds with a mini fridge full of snacks.

To pull this off right, ask how they take their coffee in advance, and stock up appropriately.

#7 Designate Drawer and Closet Space Just for Guests

If your guest room closet could be featured on Storage Wars, it’s time to rethink your stuff strategy.

Consider some serious Marie Kondo-izing — maybe donate your to-be-regifted pile and sell those designer jeans you’ll never fit into again — to make room in the closet and dresser for guest to have plenty of space (and the key word is plenty).

Label a few guest drawers and crack the closet so they can see there’s space to hang their clothes.

#8 Fancy Yourself a South Bay Tour Guide

Give guests a local’s-eye view by filling a basket with menus from South Bay restaurants and attractions, brochures from local businesses that cater to tourists, and a current issue of the Daily Breeze. Provide them a list of your favorites. Be sure to include the types of activities they’re interested in. They’d most likely be asking your suggestions any way. Why not give it some thought ahead of time. It’s a great way for your guests to feel like a local and customize their time in your town.

provide a list of your local favorite restaurants and attractions

#9 Hang a Robe – or Two – in the Closet

Bonding with their host over morning coffee is one of the best parts of staying with friends. But they can miss it completely when they realize they only packed a ratty grandma nightgown or — even worse — NSFW lingerie.

Help your guests feel right at home by hanging a couple of cozy (and freshly laundered), one-size-fits-all robes in the guest-room closet.

Not only can they wear their pajamas to breakfast without feeling self-conscious, but they’re also super-comfy and great to wrap up in after a shower.

#10 Expect the Unexpected with Extra Personal Supplies

And let your guests know where they are so they won’t feel guilty for bothering you (or worse, go without!). Here’s a list of things that rock-star Airbnb hosts always keep in stock:
• Disposable razors
• Toothbrushes and toothpaste
• First-aid kit
• Towels, pillows, and extra blankets
• Umbrella
• Flashlight
• Replacement light bulbs

Being the perfect host is perfectly achievable. With a little forethought, you’ll start racking up your own stellar reviews from your friends and family. Get ready to be the house everyone vies to visit.

Source: Houselogic – Lisa Rogak is a “New York Times” best-selling author who has written about real estate for publications including BankRate.com, BobVila.com, and HGTV.com.

Hot New Listing in Torrance With a View

2734 Loftyview Dr Torrance CA

Listing Price: $998,000

So you say you want a large home in a fabulous neighborhood with a VIEW. Check this out… tons of potential here. A spacious 2-story Home with 4 bedrooms, boasting views of the Palos Verdes Hillside, some Ocean and City Lights.

Most of the home is on one level. The formal living room has wood floors and a lovely fireplace. The updated kitchen with granite counters faces a HUGE Family Room with sliders that open onto a large deck which is great for entertaining and enjoying that view! Plus there is a big sunroom patio! It’s great bonus space not included in the square footage. The top floor is all Master suite with a private bath and a view balcony. Imagine enjoying city lights from your bed. The 2 Car Attached Garage has a roll up door and direct access to the house.

Make this house your home!

2734 Loftyview Dr, Torrance, CA 90505

4 BEDROOMS
2 BATHS
1,974 SQ FT
BUILT 1954

MLS# SB17238137

Please call or text me, Lucy Garber, at (310) 293-4866 to learn more or to see this great home!
RE/MAX ESTATE PROPERTIES
DRE 01100090