Living Large in a Small Space

Squeezing your life into a tiny apartment, home, or condo can be a challenge, but you don’t have to sacrifice style or live knee-high in a sea of clutter. No matter how small, a space can be enjoyable and feel spacious with just the right touch. Here are some ways five tips on how to maximize your space, making it feel like home:

Downsize

You don’t have to get rid of everything but going through the process of downsizing can ease the clutter by getting rid of things you don’t really need. You probably did this before moving into your new space, but if you’ve had some time to accumulate more stuff, you may need to revisit it.

Brighten the atmosphere

Choose a crisp, light color scheme for things like curtains, sofa, and throw rugs to make the room feel bigger, brighter and comfy. Avoid darker tones that make a space appear uninviting and small.

Lots of natural light in a space can make it seem larger, too. Changing window treatments, if possible, or simply opening blinds and curtains during the day can make any room more pleasant.

Mirror appeal

Take a page out of restaurant strategy and try hanging up a few mirrors. It gives the illusion of feeling like you’re in a much larger and lighter space, and sometimes the illusion is all you need to feel better.

Style with function

With little space, you can’t give over space to something with just one function. A table with storage underneath or a desk that pulls out from the wall gives you effectively more space to work with. If you’re in a one-bedroom apartment, or even a studio, opting for a sofa bed can be a smart choice if you host guests from out of town. This takes away the need for an extra room and bed, while still being practical for everyday use.

Curtain call

Hang your curtains higher (the higher the better) to give the appearance of higher ceilings. You can also let in more light and make windows look wider by extending a curtain rod by four inches or more on either side of the windows. This will not only give the illusion of more square footage, but allows more light to enter too!

Shelve it

Getting clutter off of the floor can make any space seem bigger. If you’re letting items collect, trying various shelving. For a sleek, modern look, try floating shelves — this helps reduce the mess and keeps things simple. Hang them on your walls for a fashionable look that also leaves you plenty of floor real estate.

Curtain call

Getting clutter off the floor can make any space seem bigger. For a sleek, modern look, try floating shelves — this helps reduce the mess and keeps things simple. Hang them on your walls for a fashionable look that also leaves you plenty of floor real estate. If that’s enough, you might need to get more creative.

Be clever about storage

You still need places to stick your stuff, and a little creativity can get you a lot more space. If your bed frame is off the ground, you can put some boxes and other storage containers underneath it – the same goes for any other furniture with space under it. When you run out of that space, look to hooks and racks that go on the back of your doors. These are especially helpful in closets, where you can get shoe hangers to held more than just shoes, or bathrooms, where you can store what doesn’t fit in your drawers or cabinets. Still not enough space? Some cleverly placed peg boards can convert wall space to storage space, as well as keeping commonly used things in easy reach.

With these tips, take a look around your space and see how you can update! Have more tips to share based on your personal experience? Share in the comments below!

Photo by Stephen Crowley on Unsplash

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Source: apartmentguide.com

How to Downsize: 13 Tips to Help You Declutter

Downsizing can be both freeing and stressful. It’s never easy to pare down a lifetime of memories, and most of us tend to associate our belongings with events and the people we love.

To help you make the transition easier, we have a guide on how to downsize. Read through our downsizing tips to help make sure you don’t make any mistakes while paring down enough to happily move to a smaller home or apartment.

1. Browse beautiful rooms

Begin by getting inspired.

You can thumb through magazines and books, or peruse the beautiful images of Houzz.com. Pay attention to how little clutter you see. Pay attention to the positive feelings you have about those simplified rooms.

Hot Tip: Tape a photo of a beautiful, simplified room into each room of your home. They can inspire you during your purge.

2. Contemplate simplicity

Get yourself mentally prepared — if not excited — that you have the opportunity to live in a simpler space, a space filled with only the things you love.

Think, too, about how many things you own that you haven’t actually used, touched or even seen in over a year. Focus on the joy you will feel by donating, selling or giving those items away. No matter which option you choose, you win.

3. Find a new home for some of your belongings

Ask family members and close friends if they would be interested in any of your belongings before you start to sort. Ask them to list what type of items they might be interested in, or to make any specific requests (in case someone loves a particular painting, memento or piece of furniture). If you don’t get a reply — especially from those under the age of about 30 — make a mental note to save a few things for them anyway. They might be too young to know the value of sentiment.

4. Invest in rubber tubs for items you’ll be gifting

These are your gift tubs, and we recommend rubber tubs with lids that seal tight. Think of them as a lovely gift, because they are. With each piece of jewelry, photo, letter, memento, homemade quilt or old letter jacket, you are filling this box with treasures that are sure to elicit a smile.

Picture future generations of your family enjoying or telling stories about these items. Label your tubs with the name of who they are intended for and put them in one room of the house.

photo of family photos on the wallphoto of family photos on the wall

If you have lots of family pics, consider one gallery wall of favorites. Ask your children to take or digitize the remaining images.

5. Identify items you absolutely love or cherish

Picture having to quickly evacuate your home. What few items would utterly devastate you if they were lost? (We’re not talking about collectibles with value, we’ll get to those in a minute). These are likely photos, letters, artwork, handmade gifts or things you made, jewelry, a small family heirloom, perhaps an item or two from your travels. What sentimental items would you save from a burning house? Gather or identify these items first. Try using sticky notes to mark these items or pack them all in a box.

Keep this selection deliberately small. It’s meant to be a special and meaningful group of items. There’s another level of belongings you can keep which are non-critical. But a personal treasure pile should fit in your backseat.

6. Declutter room by room: Gift, sell, donate or trash

Now you’re ready for the nitty-gritty part of how to downsize. Declutter room by room and learn the extraordinary feeling of lightness that a purge can bring. There are four categories that matter most to you now: Gift, sell, donate, trash. The more items you can identify for each category, the happier you will be (and the lighter your load at moving time). Tackle your home room by room — you’ll have a larger feeling of accomplishment that way.

photo of a donation boxphoto of a donation box

If you have the space to do so, move items you plan to sell or donate into dedicated spaces, like the garage or a spare room. Fill your rubber gift tubs as you go. In addition, think about how you’d like to sell other items. There are selling apps, consignment stores and garage sales you could use to sell your unwanted items. Or, if you amass enough items, an estate sale or auction could be more productive. It won’t be long before you get a rush from filling your trash cans. You can do it!

Hot Tip: Many cities have thrift stores and organizations which will pick up items if scheduled on the day the truck goes to your neighborhood.

7. Consider your new floorplan

It also helps to have a floorplan of your new home, with the dimensions on it.  Measure your favorite furnishings and figure out which pieces will comfortably fit into new spaces, and which should find a new home. There’s fun in acquiring a few pieces for a smaller home, and selling, auctioning or consigning older furnishings and collectibles might well cover those expenses.

8. Consult with others about their belongings

If you aren’t familiar with how to downsize there are a few mistakes you can make. One is getting rid of your children’s items without telling them. Give adult children a deadline by which to claim their left-behind items. Send them pics from your phone if they’re far away. Offer to ship them a box but don’t consider moving their items to your smaller home. The time has come. You are no longer obligated to store their old school yearbooks or letter jackets, cheerleading uniforms or trophies.

photo of a high school letter jacketphoto of a high school letter jacket

9. Be aware of emotions

If you’re downsizing after a tragedy, don’t go overboard. You might consider putting some things in storage for a year or having a friend help you decide what to keep. Emotions run high after unexpected events, and if you’re depressed, you may get rid of things you’ll want later. Don’t, however, use this as an excuse to keep everything.

10. Analyze your collectibles

The last warning: Don’t be sloppy when it comes to collectibles. Set them aside until you can get them evaluated by an expert or at least a friend or relative with a computer. These might include baseball cards, signed memorabilia, vintage toys or artisan-crafted pieces.

photo of collectiblesphoto of collectibles

11. Consolidate the items you only need one of

Here’s a quick list to help you pare down some things of which we all accumulate extras. These are items you likely only need one of:

  • Set of dishes
  • Set of glassware
  • Set of Tupperware
  • Set of mixing bowls
  • Large serving platter
  • Household tools (hammer, screwdriver, tape measure)
  • Extra blankets (keep one heavy and one light, per guest bed)
  • Large winter and summer purse
  • Coat for each type of weather (extra-warm, lighter-weight, rain jacket, windbreaker)
  • Umbrella (one travel size, one oversized)
  • Cooler (you might keep a small one for car trips or picnics with grandkids)
  • Set of small tools, measuring tape

Hot Tip: Remember that donations will be a tax write-off. Always get a receipt.

12. Purge items you won’t need in an apartment or smaller home

Small homes don’t require as many tools or decorations you may have stored in your garage or shed. To help you identify which items you can get rid of, here is a list of items you won’t need in your new home:

  • Ladders larger than a stepstool
  • Garden tools
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Large power tools
  • Excessive outdoor Christmas decorations

Hot Tip: If an item’s been in a box for more than a year, it’s very likely time to let it go.

13. Ask a friend or professional to help

If you have trouble with decision-making, ask someone impartial to help you. Be sure to choose someone who embraces your goal of downsizing and decluttering. A friend won’t have the same emotional attachment to your items and can help you narrow down your belongings, while also helping make sure you keep what you love. If your friends aren’t available, a professional or aspiring home organizer could be a great investment. They will be efficient while also being kind.

Embrace this new chapter

Downsizing to a new apartment may seem daunting, but with these downsizing tips, you’ll be ready to move in no time. By going into this process with an open mind, you will be able to create a home filled with your most important items to start this new chapter of your life.

Are you downsizing after retirement? Be sure to check out senior apartments in your area.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

Why Downsizing is Good for You

If your kids have moved out and you no longer want or need a big house, chances are you’re going to downsize at some point in your life – maybe more than once. The good news is this: Going smaller is good for you! Here are five reasons bigger isn’t always better:

1. You’ll save money

This one’s obvious: In general, smaller spaces are less expensive. Downsizing to a smaller house or apartment is good for your wallet:

  • Cheaper monthly payments for mortgage or rent
  • Lower heating and cooling costs
  • Less space to fill means less money spent on furniture and decorations
  • Fewer things to fix around the home
  • Lower property taxes (or none at all, if you rent)

Housing costs take up most of our income. Lowering your monthly expenses leaves you more money for saving, investing or spending on things you enjoy.

purging is invigoratingpurging is invigorating
Lowering your overhead gives you more time for pleasure, plus downsizing can be very invigorating.

2. It’ll re-energize you

Downsizing forces you to start a new chapter in your life – one that’s simpler and less cluttered. You could think of yourself as a potted plant: If you leave it in the same pot for a long time, it becomes root-bound and stops growing. A smaller living space means a change in lifestyle, which keeps life from getting stagnant and reduces your stress level. And think of the peace of mind you’ll gain from not having to worry about monthly bills.

3. You’ll have more time for fun stuff

According to IKEA data, Americans spend an average of 55 minutes per day looking for things. If your home is smaller and less cluttered, imagine what you could do with all that extra time! Taking care of a big home occupies a big chunk of your life, but if you move to a smaller abode, all that time spent cleaning and fixing things can be spent on hobbies, spending time with loved ones, getting creative with DIY storage projects, or curling up with a good book.

Wondering what to do with a small closet? Check out our Pinterest board: Small Closet? No Problem

4. Purging unwanted stuff will remind you of what’s really important

It’s no secret that we spend a lot of our lives accumulating possessions. How many of these things do you really want or need anymore? It can be therapeutic to go through your mountains of things – it’ll remind you of where you’ve been and where you want to go from here. And once you get rid of the things that aren’t useful or sentimental to you, you’ll feel as though a giant weight has been lifted off your shoulders.

Wondering what kind of housewarming present a small-space friend would enjoy? We’ve got 10 ideas here.

5. It’s better for the environment

Smaller homes require fewer materials to build and less energy to heat and cool, which puts less stress on our planet. So chalk up some karma points for yourself on that front.

Have you downsized recently? How did it improve your life? Share in the comments below.

 

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Source: apartmentguide.com

When You Have To Retire due to COVID-19

Here’s a stunning fact: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that unemployment during the pandemic for workers 55 and older jumped from 3.3% in March 2020 to 13.6% in April 2020. The numbers settled down in the later months, but the question remains: What happened to those older workers laid off from April to July, when the rate remained a high 8.7%?

This type of extended unemployment or forced retirement can cause people to fall completely off the career ladder in their field, leaving them in a difficult spot where they rely on their limited remaining unemployment benefits as they figure out what’s next.

The exact path forward from forced early retirement isn’t the same for everyone. Some people may choose to completely retire and live off their retirement savings and Social Security. Others may chart some way to re-enter the workforce. Let’s take a look at some of the options available to folks who found themselves in forced early retirement due to COVID-19.

In this article

Six steps to take after getting laid off

This situation presents a spectrum of options, ranging from trying to get back into your previous field, looking for a parallel field into which you can transfer skills, starting over professionally, or simply retiring for good.

Lean in on personal and professional relationships

If you’re hoping to stay in your current field, job searching is an obvious next step, but don’t just spend your time looking at Indeed and other job listing sites. Instead, reach out to people that you have worked with and had a positive relationship with in the past and see what opportunities they may know about.

Do your contacts know of any jobs in your previous field that you might be a good fit for? Are they willing to provide a reference to you if you seek a new job in this field or a related field? Can they recommend you internally for any open positions?

Often, the path out of an unwanted early retirement back into your old career path is through an old contact. That personal connection matters, both between you and that person and between that person and the job you may be able to get.

Consult or freelance

If you want to stay in your current field but there aren’t any employment opportunities available to you, consider using your skills for freelancing or consulting work. While this may not be the outcome you desire, as freelancing and consulting work comes with fewer professional benefits, it does allow you to keep your feet in the field and keep income coming in.

If you’re looking for quick and very simple freelancing opportunities, consider looking at Fiverr, which will provide small but simple freelancing jobs. For more challenging and more lucrative opportunities, take a look at Upwork. You may also want to look at any consulting opportunities with previous employers as a starting point.

Evaluate your skills

If you don’t have any such opportunities available to you, this may be an opportunity to step back and evaluate your skills from the perspective of considering what fields might actually be a good fit for you. What fields are open to you with the skills you’ve acquired in your previous career?

For example, although I was once in the data mining profession, I spent a lot of my professional time on documentation, report writing, and communication with collaborators. Those skills set me up for a new career path as a freelance writer.

Step back and look at the skills you’ve accumulated and ask yourself what career paths those skills might be a great fit for. You might find that the things you’ve learned lead you to a completely different destination.

Start a new career

If it appears as though your old career path is a dead end, it may be time to consider a new career entirely.

A good first step here is to take some skills assessments. Minnesota State University provides a great list of skills assessments for people considering a career path. These will often clearly illustrate what natural talents and skills you have and can point you toward some careers you might be suited for.

From there, you can assess some entirely new career options. Do you need further education? Do you need to go to a trade school? Maybe you just need to do some independent learning.

Downsize your lifestyle

From a practical perspective, unexpected forced early retirement likely means that you need to downsize your lifestyle. In the short term, you likely made a bunch of easy decisions about your spending choices, but if this is a more permanent change or one that will last years, you should start considering bigger changes.

Start with housing. Can you move to a smaller home or into an apartment? Can you share your living space with someone else in order to offset some of the costs? For transportation, do you need a car or can you get by with mass transit options, bicycling, and/or carpooling? Do you need a data plan for your cellphone? What about cable?

When you chop away a bunch of bigger expenses, suddenly the challenge of figuring out how to financially make it on a lower income becomes much easier.

Recalibrate your investments (if you have them)

If you’re fortunate enough to have investments put aside for retirement, the moment at which you’re forced into early retirement is a moment to consider recalibrating your investments into “retirement mode.” The reason is that, in effect, you’ve become a retiree who wants to be able to live off of those investments for as long as possible, and thus retirement requires a different investment strategy than trying to grow wealth over the long term.

How does a retiree approach investing, then? Someone who is more than 10 years from retirement doesn’t plan to withdraw anything over that period, so they’re likely invested in a very aggressive way. A fresh retiree will likely need to make withdrawals in the next 10 years, so that money should be invested in a more stable fashion with less volatility.

We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

Source: thesimpledollar.com

Why Paying More for Rent Can Be a Good Thing

Why Paying More for Rent Can Be a Good Thing - Couple Paying RentWe have all heard the stories on the news about how apartment rent is continuing to rise to near-historic rates. As America takes it last few steps to full recovery from the economic challenges that plagued the nation a few years ago, a new discussion has emerged. This one has very little to do with bank interest rates or mortgage qualifications. The new discussion is about value and how we perceive it, and it seems that each generation – stereotypically speaking – has its own take on it. This is especially true when it comes to how and where we choose to live.

Baby Boomers

Typically, retiring baby boomers have a variety of options when it comes to the value they have in housing. Many have been homeowners for years and now that they are retiring empty nesters, they’re looking to downsize.

However, they may not want to be locked into a burdensome mortgage that forces them to stay put. A desire to travel, a yearning to connect to family that may be spread across the country, and being on a quest for active retirement are leading downsizing baby boomers to look to multi-family solutions. The offerings of luxury apartment communities allow for amenity-rich lifestyles, while offering them the flexibility to always be on-the-go!

Gen X

Replacing many of the retiring baby boomers in the C-Suite is Gen X. They were some of the hardest hit by the economic downturn: many invested everything they had into the housing market right before the crash. As they recover, those who have called apartment living home for the past few years may be hesitant – or unable – to return to the financial trappings of home ownership. As they continue to grow their careers, they seek executive positions that could take them across the country. This period of growth and transition comes with the desire to live in a better apartment that meets their location and lifestyle needs.

Millennials

The children of the baby boomers are the most influential generation to date. They watched their parents struggle with home ownership for a number of reasons, whether it was due to the economy, divorce, or job changes. They also likely watched their neighbors struggle to maintain more house than they could afford.

As it turns out, Millennials would rather spend money on experiences than on housing. Apartments – especially micro-apartments – are perfect for them.  Less space means a lower rental rate, and they’re OK with both. For many Millennials, this will be their first apartment and the first time that they are fully independent of their parents. By saving money and making due with less stuff, they have the ability to afford the experiences they seek while still maintaining their independence.

Gen Z

What will the future hold for today’s college and high school students that will soon follow in Millennials’ footsteps? As technology becomes more abundant, will they move into apartments with greater automation? Will they choose to remain in a communal living space and move into the “adult dorms” that are beginning to pop up across the U.S. as the next trendy apartment option? During their time in student housing, they will surely be exposed to a multitude of apartments for rent that are filled with luxurious and cutting-edge amenities. Will they seek space, location, luxury or something else when the venture out on their own? Whatever the case, their hard-earned money will go to the apartment they say is right for their lifestyle – and their budget.

If you are looking for apartments for rent that fit you and your budget, look no further than www.apartmentsearch.com. Our national database can match you to the apartment you’ve been looking for, plus help you find the best value for your hard-earned dollar. To learn more about how ApartmentSearch can help you find your next apartment home, visit www.apartmentsearch.com today.

Source: blog.apartmentsearch.com

New Construction: 10 Stages of Building a Custom House

In this article:

If you can’t find your dream home on the market or if you want to create a home that’s uniquely yours, you might consider building a house. Buyers who decided to build new homes were more likely to say that selecting the floor plan, having everything in the home be brand-new and customizing their home features were among their top reasons.* Before deciding if new construction is for you, you’ll want to learn about the different types of new-home construction and familiarize yourself with the process, from the initial land search all the way to selecting finishing touches. 

Typically, when someone says they’re planning to build their own home, they are referring to a fully custom build where they have a say in almost everything (short of items restricted by local laws and zoning regulations). But, in the realm of new construction, there are three different approaches buyers can take: 

Spec homes. With a spec home (short for speculative home), a home builder designs and constructs a single-family home without having one individual buyer in mind. Instead, they plan on selling the house to a buyer once it’s finished. Depending on how early in the process you are able to go under contract, you may be able to select some of the home’s final touches, like flooring, kitchen appliances and paint color. Sometimes these homes are listed for sale as “pre-construction.” 

Tract homes. With a tract home, a developer purchases a parcel of land and divides it into individual lots. Then, a home builder constructs all of the homes in that planned community. Tract homes can be condominiums, townhomes or single-family homes. Most homes in the community will look similar, and shared amenities are common. Similar to spec homes, you may be able to select some finishes in advance, depending on the timeline. 

Fully custom homes. With a fully custom home, you typically find the land on your own then hire a builder to build your dream home. You have total control over the floor plan, layout and finishes, but the process requires a lot of decision-making, attention to detail and disciplined budgeting — custom homes can be expensive. 

Since custom homes are the most complex new construction option out there, we’ll spend most of this article explaining the process.

Check your financing options

Once you’ve decided that building a custom home is the right choice for you, the next step is figuring out how you’ll pay for it — and a traditional 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage isn’t an option for custom home construction, at least not at first. 

Unless you can pay for the entire build with cash, you’ll likely be looking for a construction loan, which is also sometimes called a self-build loan or a construction mortgage. Getting a construction loan is often more difficult than getting a traditional mortgage, as you’re borrowing money for a concept and not a physical house. You’ll need to provide your lender with a timetable, budget, floor plans, materials needed and extensive details to be considered. Other things to know about construction loans:

  • They have variable rates that are often higher than typical mortgage rates.
  • A 20%-25% down payment is usually required.
  • The loan can include the land you’re purchasing or it can cover only the construction costs if you already own the land. 
  • There’s an opportunity to refinance into a traditional fixed-rate mortgage once construction is complete.

Locate the right lot

If you don’t already own the land you plan to build on, you’ll need to shop around for the right lot. A real estate agent can help you identify lots for sale in your area. 

As you narrow down lots you like, you’ll want to loop in your architect and builder to make sure the lot you select fits the needs of your home’s floor plan and design. They should be able to help you check zoning laws and restrictions and identify any attributes of the lot that might make it more expensive to build on — for example, a steeply graded lot may require more engineering, or a lot in a remote area may necessitate a septic tank.

Plan and design the home

Figuring out the size, layout and style of your home is a big task, and it can happen before or after the lot is selected, depending on your individual plans. When you’re building a custom home, the sky’s the limit, although you will need to keep in mind your budget and any limitations of your lot. And, if you don’t plan on living in the home forever, consider how design decisions will affect the home’s future resale value. 

The professionals on your team will be able to help you home in on the right style and layout, but it doesn’t hurt to get a feel for what you might want in advance. Drive around your area and identify homes you like. Look for interior design inspiration online or research the latest smart home features to see if you think they’re worth the added cost. 

Here are a few important design decisions that need to be made early on:

Number of bedrooms and bathrooms. How many people will be living in the house? Is your family growing, or are you downsizing? What about houseguests?

Single story vs. two story or more. Are there mobility issues that should be accommodated? Would a one-story home be easier for those with limited mobility living there? 

Outdoor space. How important is outdoor space and how much should you have? The bigger the yard, the more maintenance involved. 

Open concept or individual rooms. How open you want your house to be depends on your taste and lifestyle. Individual rooms give a more classic feel, while open concept homes are more modern. 

Home style. What aesthetic do you want your house’s exterior to have? Tudor, Cape Cod, craftsman, colonial?

Interior design. Are you partial to modern design, a more traditional look or something in between? If you plan on using the same furnishings you have now, will they match the look of the new home? 

Additional features. Think through other features that need to be decided on early in the process, like smart home compatibility, eco-friendly materials or solar panels. 

Future resale value. If you think you’ll sell the home at some point in the future, consider the home’s possible resale value. For example, if you add a pool or an upscale kitchen, will your home be priced too high for the neighborhood?

Hire professionals

Building a home isn’t an easy task, and it’s rare to take on the entire project yourself. So, you’ll need to have several different professionals by your side to ensure your home is structurally sound, follows local code and suits your needs.

Home builder

Hiring the right builder can make or break your custom home experience. Choose someone who is not only a licensed general contractor but also has a portfolio of custom homes and success stories in recent years. 

To find your builder, you can ask for a referral from friends and family, search online, or ask your real estate agent for recommendations. A good builder will help with:

  • Budget
  • Zoning laws, including acquiring permits
  • Infrastructure needs, like utilities and sewer

Architect

In most places, in order to even apply for permits, you’ll need architectural plans. Discuss the following details with your architect before they create your blueprints:

  • Square footage
  • Stories
  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Layout
  • Functionality

Interior designer

You may also want to hire an interior designer who can help with the finishes once the framing and structural elements are in place. From flooring to bath tiles to fixtures, there are many design choices that need to be made, and it can get overwhelming for the average home buyer. If you do plan on making all the interior design choices on your own, don’t wait until installation time. Start researching finishes and fixtures early so you can set your budget.

Other professionals

In addition to these key players, there are other professionals involved in the custom-home-building process. Many of these people are hired by your home builder or general contractor:

  • Land clearing crew
  • Surveyor
  • Structural engineer
  • Inspector (from the city)
  • Plumbers
  • Electricians

Understand the process of building a house

After the designs and blueprints have been finalized and your permits have been approved, that’s when construction starts and your home begins to take shape, generally following these steps: 

1. Land prep
The first step in the construction process is getting the land ready. This includes clearing the area, digging trenches and making sure utilities are installed. 

2. Footings and foundation
Your foundation will be made of poured concrete reinforced with steel rods. Depending on the part of the country you’re building in and the design of your home, you may have a slab foundation, crawl space or a full basement. No matter what kind of foundation is poured, it will be sprayed with a waterproofing material and inspected by the city before framing begins. 

3. Framing
In the framing step, the bones of the home start to take shape. Framing includes the floor joists, subfloors, studs that form the walls and roof trusses. During this step, the crew will wrap the house to protect it from moisture. If construction is taking place during a rainy time of year, your builder may also install windows, roof shingles and siding during this step. 

4. Plumbing, electrical and HVAC
Once the home is “dried in,” subcontractors will start installing the home’s major systems, including plumbing pipes, electrical wiring and heating and cooling ducts. Each of these steps requires signoff from a local inspector. 

5. Insulation
Your home’s insulation needs will vary by climate, but in general, insulation will be applied to exterior walls, basements, crawl spaces and attics. Fiberglass, cellulose and foam insulation are all options. 

6. Drywall
Drywall panels are hung with screws, taped and mudded, and a spray texture is applied. Then the new walls are primed with paint.  

7. Interior finishes
In this step, most of the home’s interior features will be added. This includes doors, baseboards, casings, window sills, stair balusters, kitchen counters and cabinets, bathtubs, vanities, and hard-surfaced flooring. Interior painting and hardwood installation are sometimes done during this step, but they may be done later if there is risk of damage due to continuing construction. 

8. Exterior finishes
Driveways, walkways, patios and final grading to direct water away from home will all be completed. Landscaping and exterior decorating happen during this step too. 

9. Fixture installation
With the house close to completion, toilets, faucets, light switches, heat register covers, the hot water heater, the electrical panel and the HVAC systems are all installed. Many of these items require another round of inspection. Another task that happens in this step is the installation of glass fixtures like mirrors and shower doors. 

10. Flooring installation
Carpet and hardwood flooring are added in this late stage. Make sure to check with your builder on the status of your hardwood finishing process so you don’t accidentally damage them. 

11. Final inspection
Once construction is complete, a final inspection will be conducted by a local building official. Upon passing, you’ll receive a certificate of occupancy, which gives you the green light to move in. 

12. Final walkthrough
Before you move in, you’ll want to do a final walkthrough with your builder to identify punch list items that need to be repaired for the job to be considered complete. Common punch list items include electrical defects like nonfunctioning outlets, damage to drywall and paint, or missing fixtures.

Skip construction and buy renovated

Building a custom home is a complicated process, and it can take well over a year depending on your location, lot complications, house size, laws and the permit-approval process. Another option is to buy a home that has already been renovated — you get a fresh and updated feel without having to do the work yourself.

Shop Zillow-owned homes

Buyers of Zillow-owned homes can be confident that the homes they buy have been professionally renovated by local contractors. With Zillow-owned homes, you can avoid the stress of a custom build and make yourself at home.

*Zillow New Construction Consumer Housing Trends Report 2019

Source: zillow.com

From ‘Sold’ to ‘For Sale’ and Back Again: The 4 Phases of Homeownership

Whether you’ve lived in your home for a day or a decade, buckle up — homeownership can be a wild ride.

You may live in your home for two years, or you may hunker down for two decades. But no matter how long you call it yours, you’ll likely experience these four key stages of homeownership — from the day you get your keys to the day you hand them off to your home’s new owner.

Read on to learn more about what to expect from each phase.

Phase 1: Starting out

The “sold” sign is posted, your belongings are packed, and the day finally arrives — you get the keys to your new home. You open the front door, and possibilities abound. How will you decorate? Where will that new couch go? Which rooms will the kids choose?

This first phase is all about unpacking, settling in, and getting to know your new home. If you’ve upsized from a smaller home, you may be tempted to jump in and start filling all that extra space.

And while you may be eager to make your mark on your new home’s interior (or exterior), Diana Bohn, a Seattle-based agent with Windermere Real Estate, warns against making extensive changes to a home right after moving in.

“It’s always good to be in your home for a year or so before knocking down any walls,” she explains. “Get your furniture in there, unpack, and see how the home lives. It’s hard to know how the space is going to feel until you’ve been there for a while. Go through all the seasons at least once.”

Phase 2: Settling in

It may take you a few months to move into the second phase — or even a few years (we won’t judge if you still have packed boxes gathering dust after a year or two). But this phase is when your house becomes a home, and you start enjoying your everyday life in the space.

You’ve figured out where all your belongings should go, you’ve done the bulk of your decorating, and you’re getting to know your neighbors and a few local hangouts. You’ve likely celebrated the holidays in your home a time or two, welcomed out-of-town guests, and gotten to know (and love?) your home’s unique quirks.

Phase 3: Fixing up

If the housing market continues its current upward trend, it’s likely that, after even a few years in your home, you’re sitting on some equity. So what should you do with it? Phase 3 is often the time when homeowners can take advantage of equity they’ve gained.

First, if you bought an older home, it may be time to update some of your home’s major systems — think furnace, roof, or windows. Portland, OR-based mortgage broker Lauren Green of Green Family Mortgage recommends researching two options for financing home improvements: home equity lines of credit (HELOC) and cash-out refinances.

“Many people have no idea they can access their home’s equity,” Green says. “They think the only way to take advantage of their home’s increased value is to sell it, but in reality, there are some great ways to access the equity in your home while still living in it.”

Second, after living in your home for a few years, you probably have a better idea of the renovations that would really make your home work for your lifestyle.

“There are lots of reasons why someone may decide to remodel instead of sell and look for a new home,” says Tyler Coke, project manager and business development manager at Marrone & Marrone, a custom home builder and remodeler in the Bay Area. “One thing that appeals to many homeowners is the custom aspect of it. You can design and create exactly the type of space that fits your lifestyle and speaks to how you use your home.”

Phase 4: Moving on

When will you know it’s time to move on? And what will prompt you to move somewhere new?

“Usually, it’s some kind of transition that causes people to sell,” says Bohn. “A new job, a growing family, or downsizing once the kids move out. In big cities, we’re also seeing people moving from more centrally located neighborhoods to farther-flung suburbs, where their money will get them more.”

Whatever your reason for putting your home on the market, the day you sign on the dotted line and close your front door for the last time is likely to be a bittersweet moment. But change can be good, and the next time you buy a home, you’ll be well-versed in all four phases and know just what you’re looking for.

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Source: zillow.com