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Updated: Sunday, September 21, 2014

Home Remodeling Gone Wrong: 3 Contractor Projects You Can Remedy

Its a lot of work and it can be a lot of money to own a home. If you choose to remodel, there are a lot of things you can do yourself, but if its a bigger job than you can handle, youre going to have to hire someone.

Lets say that you wanted the interior of your house remodeled and you hired a contractor. After he left, you find that there were things he left unfinished. If you had it in writing that it was up to the contractor to do everything from start to finish and you had a detailed punch list, then you can call the contractor and tell him to come back to finish the job. If he doesnt come back and wont work with you, then you can call your state attorney general or your local builders association it wont cost you anything to see how to proceed.

Sometimes the only way to proceed is to get your hands dirty, be it a faulty contract or miscommunication, there are many things that contractors can leave unfinished. You might find paint splatters on the wall or your jetted tub wasnt caulked right. Its up to you to decide how much effort and money you want to put into fixing whatever it is that the contractor oh-so-kindly left you with.

A Door Without A Knob

After the contractors gone you notice that he hadnt put any of the doorknobs back in any of the doors. Expect to pay in the high end of the 86.99 - 162.04 per knob range for a licensed, bonded and insured contractor if the original culprit wont return.

However a basic interior doorknob runs around eight bucks. This is how to put one in:

First off: If you want to put in a door handle and not a door knob, then make sure you get a universal handle for both left and right hands, or make sure its one for the correct hand.

1: Take the latch backset and insert it into the door. Make sure the rounded edge is facing the latch hole; if it doesnt seat correctly, just tap it lightly with a hammer.

2: Generally the door will have a mortise for the face plate one the latch. Use 3/4 screws to secure the latch to the door.

3: Adjust the latch for the for the backset depth. Note: most interior doors are 2 3/8.

4: Adjust the bracket size if necessary. Check the instructions that came with the doorknob if you dont know how to adjust the bracket size. Your latch should be nice and secure.

5: Take the doorknob, insert it through the backset and screw it together. Important: Make sure you insert the stem from the handle correctly into the latch.

6: When everything is aligned and the knob is fitted against the door, screw it together with the screws that were provided. Important: Dont over tighten the screws.

7: Check how tight the larch fits in the latch hole by closing the door. If its loose, then place the latch place slightly back in the hole. If its tight, then move the latch all the way forward to the front of the hole. You may have to work with it to adjust the fit correctly.

A Pantry Door With A Squeak

The doorknobs are done, but the contractor also forgot to get rid of the squeak in the pantry door. If you want to get rid of it yourself, itll run anywhere from three to 15 dollars; once youve shopped around and found a fit. Heres how to do it:

Important: Make sure you wear a dust mask and gloves when you are applying the lubricant, and keep the area well-ventilated. Have a dry rag handy to clean up any lubricant spills.

1: Apply Elmers Slide-All Dry Spray Lubricant to each hinge on the door. Make sure you apply it on both on the inside and outside of the hinge.

2: Open and close the door of the cabinet to make sure the lubricant hits all part of the hinges.

3: Tighten all the hinges with a screwdriver.

A Yard With A Stump

The remodeling of your home can mean your yard, too. A contractor might miss that old stump or you might want to save money and oust the stump yourself.

Research consider doing it yourself either mechanically, chemically, manually, naturally or with fire. If a rented stump grinder is in your price range, it makes the most sense to follow the mechanical route.

Note: Wear proper safety gear, including goggles, when attempting to remove a tree stump manually or with heavy machinery. To protect yourself further, wear long sleeved shirts, long pants and gloves.

The company that you rented the grinder from will have given you a set of instructions on how to use it. There are things to do, though, before you start the grinder.

1: First, get rid of any debris and rocks from around the stump.

2: Next youll need to remove the bulk of the stump.

3: Do this by using a chain saw; cut as close to the ground as possible. Now you can use the stump grinder to grind up and eliminate the stump.

If you are stuck with the unfinished mess from a contractor or you have a lawn that needs to be remodeled, dont panic. Consider your legal options, followed by DIY approaches to complete that much desired remodel.

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Sellers Advice: Spend a Little, Raise The Price a Lot

Your real estate professional is probably advising you to declutter, stage your home, plant new flowers, and make numerous repairs and updates. You may be >

Under HomeGains Tools for Sellers, you can find the Home Sale Maximizer tool, where HomeGain has identified the top 10 home improvements under 1,500.

These add the most to home sellers bottom line, and are recommended by over 600 real estate professionals across the nation.

The top 10 home improvements are listed by the greatest return on investment ROI:

Cleaning and de-cluttering 290 cost / 1,990 price increase / 586 ROI

Lightening and brightening 375 cost / 1,550 price increase / 313 ROI

Home staging 550 cost / 2,194 price increase / 299 ROI

Landscaping 540 cost / 1,932 price increase / 258 ROI

Repairing electrical or plumbing 535 cost / 1,505 price increase / 181 ROI

Kitchen and bathroom 1,265 cost/3,435 price increase/172 ROI

Replace or shampoo carpets 647 cost/1,730 price increase/169 ROI

Paint interior 1,012 cost/2,112 price increase/109 ROI

Repair floors 931 cost/1,924 price increase/107 ROI

Paint exterior 1,467 cost/2,222 price increase/51 ROI

When you put in your zip code, your results may vary from the survey results, but whats interesting is how consistently the surveyed listing agents recommended the same home improvements. Nearly 100 of listing agents recommend cleaning and de-cluttering, while 97 recommended lightening and brightening and 80 recommended staging. These top three categories cost just a little over 1,000, yet netted sellers 5,734 at closing.

One hundred percent of HomeGain real estate agents recommend painting the interior and cleaning the carpet and ninety-eight percent recommend decluttering., but you may be surprised to learn that the top three money-makers in terms of ROI arent necessarily what agents most often recommend.

Cleaning and decluttering: Remove personal items; wash and clean all areas inside and outside of house; freshen air; remove clutter from furniture, counters and all areas of the home; organize closets; polish woodwork and mirrors, etc.

Home staging: Add fresh flowers; remove personal items; reduce clutter; rearrange furniture; add new props or furniture to enhance rooms; play soft music; hang artwork in walls, and more.

Lightening and brightening: Open windows; clean windows and skylights inside and outside; replace old curtains; remove other obstacles from windows that block out light; repair lighting fixtures; make sure windows open easily, among other suggestions.

Its all about first and favorable impressions. It takes money to make money, but it doesnt have to take a lot. Its the return on investment thats important.

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Can a New Home Improve Your Sex Life?

The scene is set. Crackling fireplace. Homemade desert. Candles flickering. Drinks sparkling.

And then the spark that should be igniting between the two of you instead takes place in your old fireplace, sending black smoke into your living room and flames shooting up the chimney and out into your space, which then ignite your drapes and send you running partially clothed for the fire extinguisher.

Well that killed the mood.

You dont have to set the living room on fire to know that your house is in desperate need of repair and renovation. But maybe its just not enough. If youre ready to create a spark in your sex life that doesnt include burning the house down, maybe its just time to move. After all, a new house doesnt just improve your surroundings. It can also have a dramatic affect on your intimacy.


A person who is confident in other areas of his or her life is more likely to be confident in the bedroom. If your house is stressing you out and its just time for a clean slate or, more appropriately, a clean house, it could be time to call your REALTOR

Smart is sexy

Making a sound financial decision can boost your confidence. And confidence is sexy.

If there is equity in your home, looking for a new place and considering the rates and other financial details may be something you have already done. But did you add the sexy factor into the equation? You should.

Newer homes are better designed for modern living. Theyre more energy efficient, which can save you money, more open, which caters to the way we live today, they include amenities to help keep us organized and oh god, are you feeling flush, too?


"Everyday stressors -- your job, your kids grades, the leaky bathroom faucethave a more powerful effect on your sex life than you may realize," said MSN. "Being stressed causes your body to produce more of the "fight or flight" hormone cortisol, which your body needs in small doses but can suppress the libido when the body produces an excess."

Decluttered is delicious

"Turns out, cleaning your house and your act in the bedroom arent as different as they may seem," said Refinery 29.

Yep, A house thats been lived in for some time can often look and feel lived in. A whole-house overhaul can help breathe new life into your home, and into your bed.

"Get rid of all the junk that accumulates in your bedroom. Dont use it as a dumping ground for kids art projects, laundry, newspapers, and magazines. No one feels sexy going to bed in a warehouse," said My Home Ideas. "First, get everything up off the floor. Store the things that warrant it and trash the things that dont. Clear off the surfaces of chests and tables, and only replace what is meaningful or pretty. You dont want to see anything that reminds you of chores or obligations. Everything your eye lands on should make you feel >

The problem with that solution is that its often temporary. >

Clean it up to get dirty

A clean house always make you feel better. But a clean, new house? Woah. Excuse us for a minute while we hose ourselves off.

If youre tired of your house, you may be inclined not to try so hard at anything when youre in it. New digs can bring a fresh outlook.

With everything shiny and new, there is excitement. Channeling that excitement into the right places is key...especially when its in a gorgeous new bathroom.

"Lots can go wrong in this room. Hair in the drain or soap scum can make shower sex unappealing. And dont get us started on unpleasant odors," said Good Housekeeping. "Bottom line, keep your bathroom tidy and fresh-smelling so you can enjoy getting clean and dirty in there.

If your bathroom is cruddy, moldy, or so outdated it steals your mojo every time you walk through it, you have two choices: update it, or move.

What to do when only one of you wants to move

"Part of being in a >

If that sounds like a double entendre, its because it is. Give and take works in many ways. Its called reciprocating, and it works both in and out of the bedroom.

New house, new rules

Its important to remember after you move to wipe the slate clean and make any necessary changes/set new rules for how the household runs.

"If you and your partner are both working full-time, keeping the division of household labor equal and ensuring one partner doesnt shoulder the whole burden will make both of you happier in the bedroom and out," said MSN.

A new house, and an equal division of labor? Now thats hot.

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4 Simple Front Porch Decor Tips To Accent Your Entryway
Photo courtesy of Julie Lucero Design

As potential buyers walk up to your home, the front porch should appear welcoming, entrancing and homey. If its dusty, barren and rotted, they may not make an offer. Thus, the best way to increase front porch appeal is to add natural elements to blend it with the yard. Here are front porch landscaping tips to make yours comfortable and welcoming to prospective homebuyers:

1 Outdoor Potted Plants

Potted plants are a great way to enhance the porch decor and accent your entryway as a whole. Its important to give them tender loving care and use plant types that can handle shade, or else they will dry out and wither. Look for perennials and annuals that are drought-resistant and require little maintenance. You might consider putting urns with plants on your steps or around the exterior to draw in visitors.

2 Comfortable Furniture

Another entrancing view is to install comfortable furniture on your front porch. Depending on the square footage, you can arrange a space with a loveseat, ottoman, coffee table and a rocking chair or other single seating space. It will be like an outdoor living room for people to >

  • An outdoor rug to make it stylish
  • Outdoor pillows to go on the couch or loveseat
  • Outdoor art like statues, paintings or wind chimes
  • Curtains to go around the exterior window frames

Outdoor swing Photo courtesy of Artificial Grass Inc.

3 Porch Swing

One of the most reminiscent and picturesque pieces of front porch decor is a swing. Its >

4 Reinvigorate the front door

Regardless of what you do with the front porch, the front door also has to look and sound inviting to potential buyers. If the door is creaking and makes a jarring sound, you can have it repaired for a low cost. If the paint is peeling off and represents a visual eyesore, it will detract from appeal. In this case, you should consider hiring a professional to repaint the door a bright color. Other ideas to consider are adding new house numbers and installing a door knocker or doorbell. This will complete the appeal of the front porch and makes the entryway ready for buyer walkthroughs.

Photos courtesy of DesignMine

Andrea Davis is the editor for HomeAdvisor, which helps homeowners find home improvement professionals in their area at no charge to ensure the best service in the shortest amount of time.

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Should HOA Board Members Be Paid?

Question: I am an old lady 80 that lives in a townhouse condominium. There are 95 units, and my condo fee is 325 a month. It was recently raised by 25 and it appears that the Board plans to raise it again.. Our officers decided they should be paid a monthly fee. There are several other complexes in our area where the condominium fee is lower, and their officers do not get paid. Our President is awarded gift certificates from the board for anything he does. In all of my life I have yet to hear of a volunteer given a salary. Have times changed that much?

Answer: No, times have not changed; greed and incompetence has been with us forever.

This is a common complaint raised by elected board members. "We work hard, the hours are long and the pay is zero. Why not pay us for our dedicated service?"

The first thing you should do is review your legal documents. In a condominium, those documents include The Declaration and the Bylaws. Oversimplified, the Declaration creates the association, and explains what constitutes the common elements and the units. The Bylaws are the Constitution of the Association. It covers such issues as how many Board members there should be, what constitutes a quorum to hold a legal meeting, and how assessments are to be determined. The Bylaws also spell out the rights and responsibilities of the unit owners.

The following language is often found in the Bylaws: "A Director shall not receive compensation from the Association for serving on the Board of Directors, but a Director may be reimbursed for actual out-of-pocket expenses incurred by him or her in the proper performance of his or her duties."

If your Bylaws contain this prohibition, the Board cannot unilaterally decide to pay themselves. Condominium law is very clear: if something is in the Bylaws, it can only be changed by a vote of all of the unit owners. Typically, a super-majority vote -- usually either 66 2/3 or even as high as 75 percent -- is required to amend the Bylaws. There is a valid reason behind this requirement. Unit owners want the security that their legal documents cannot be changed by a small cabal of owners -- or even by the Board of Directors. It is difficult -- often impossible -- to amend those documents.

Accordingly, if your legal documents contain such a prohibition, your Board is acting improperly. What can you do about it?

There are many options. First, you should send each board member a letter, and attach a copy of the >

Next, you should contact other owners, and see if they will join you in protesting the boards decision. They can send similar letters to the board. They can also initiate a recall petition, whereby the unit owners will seek to throw those board members out of office. Your Bylaws will contain language as to the procedure for such a recall.

Finally, if the board is not willing to abide by your legal documents, you have the right to complain to a governmental agency or file a lawsuit. For example, in Montgomery County, Maryland, you can file a complaint with the Commission on Common Ownership Communities. In other counties, you would have to file with the States Attorney Generals office.

Even if there is no such prohibition in your legal documents, I do not believe that the Board has the legal authority to pay themselves without taking a vote of the membership. The board members were initially elected by all of you on the basis that they would serve without pay. Their decision now will cost all of you more money -- and this can be painful, especially in associations where there have been a lot of foreclosures and a lot of delinquencies.

While I appreciate the concerns of board members who work hard, they serve on the board because they want to do the right things for all of the unit owners. They also want to protect their own investment. In my opinion, to allow board members to be compensated for their service will open the door to owners who only want to serve for the money -- and not for the best interests of the association.

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Does Your Front Door Need a Makeover?

Its been proven that the No. 1 mot valuable makeover in terms of return on investment is a front door redo. A new front door returns 96.6 percent of the cost, according to Remodeling magazines annual Cost vs. Value report for 2014.

But not just any front door will do. Choosing the right door, and, specifically, the right color, is critical for adding value, but also for enjoying your home.

Its the first thing people see and the last one on many homeowners to-choose list: the color of the front door," said This Old House. "But if >

Here are few ideas for a colorful, modern front door.


Black may be considered old school by some, but this hue remains dark and dramaticcreating a >


"Go with something strong and bold that makes a statement," said House Beautiful. "This gorgeous raisin with undertones of purple and gray and brown is an unusual color for a front door. A little mysterious. It would wet the palate for the entry foyer."

Bright Yellow

A happy color that provides a warm welcome, yellow also "also evokes mental clarity, perception, understanding, wisdom, confidence, curiosity, humor and merriment," said Houzz. "Because it is "often identified with happiness, high energy and warmth, a lively yellow can brighten otherwise gloomy exteriors."


Standard shades of green play well with homes that are nicely landscaped, offering a complement to lush greenery and verdant gardens.

But, you can also pump it up with an unexpected shade of green for a fresh look. "We have to look twice when we pass homes with an entrance painted in this show-stopper," said Huffington Post. "While we know it wont work for every abode, it looks especially smashing with brown, grey or a raisin-colored exterior."


A turquoise door can evoke feelings of the beach or simply incorporate a lightness to your exterior. A welcoming, modern color, it is as warm as it is memorable.


According to the experts, blue doors look best with detailed architecture. "A Victorian home is a license to indulge in brilliant paint and trim choices," said DIY Network. "This >

If youre thinking of going blue, check out these tips from Houzz.


Looking for a way to really make your house stand out? "Go bold or go home," said Huffington Post.

"Nothing makes a statement quite like orange, and this not-to-be-missed hue will draw people right inside. We especially love it on a dark charcoal backdrop, which makes the color really vibrate."


For a punch of color that breathes new life into the exterior of a home, red is always a winner. Plus, the bold, passionate color "also projects a strong, confident aesthetic," said >

For more ideas, see House Beautiful or DIY Network.

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Copyright©2014 Realty Times®.All Rights Reserved

Today's Real Estate News and Advice Updated: Sunday, September 21, 2014

Can a New Home Improve Your Sex Life?
The scene is set. Crackling fireplace. Homemade desert. Candles flickering. Drinks sparkling.An...
> Full Story

4 Simple Front Porch Decor Tips To Accent Your Entryway
Photo courtesy of Julie Lucero DesignAs potential buyers walk up to your home, the front porch ...
> Full Story

Should HOA Board Members Be Paid?
Question: I am an old lady 80 that lives in a townhouse condominium. There are 95 units, and my...
> Full Story

Copyright © 2014 Realty Times®. All Rights Reserved