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Living in the country feels downright luxurious in this 200-year-old log home bordering 7 acres of National Forest Service land. Located at 585 Crystal Creek Rd in Otto, NC, the farmhouse-meets-19th-century-cabin home is available for $449,900.
The home boasts a sun-soaked living room with walls of windows and a hand-built stone fireplace that leads right to the covered deck area - perfect for lazy afternoons of bird watching or enjoying the forest scenery right from the comfort of your couch. (The current owners say they’ve attracted quite a group of humming birds over the years.)
The luxury continues in the kitchen, where there’s a built-in espresso machine and a deep farmhouse sink.
The current owners worked with an architect to update the old log home, which had no heat, kitchen or “facilities” when they bought it. They built the connecting farmhouse, which houses the kitchen, master bedroom and 2 baths.
Featuring hand-hewn beams and pine floors recycled from an old factory, the finished product combines rustic architecture with a playful farmhouse look.
The home has a styled yet comfortable vibe, and designer details can be found everywhere, from the lighting to the sleek built-ins to the masterfully curated furnishings throughout.
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The post A 200-Year-Old Log Cabin That's Anything but Old-Fashioned – House of the Week appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.
Forget waiting 45 minutes for the delivery guy to show up. In this custom tiny home, pizzas are ready in just two minutes!
Empty nesters looking to avoid the burden of a big mortgage, Robert and Rebekah Sofia embarked on a 20-month journey designing and building a 221-square-foot home in Ocklawaha, FL. Most people would balk at the idea of putting a 800-degree wood-fired pizza oven in such a small space. But with layers of plaster, cement and a heavy metal door, it’s completely insulated.
The Floridians were passionate about bringing a European flavor to their design and using recycled building materials. From the exterior corrugated metal to the cedar planks and doors - everything had a prior life. Best of all: The materials only cost $15,000.
In addition to the pizza oven, there are amenities you might not expect in a tiny house: a big apron sink, outdoor soaking tub, formal dining room with a chandelier, a hangout music loft and his-and-hers closets.
Photos by John Jernigan.
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The post This Tiny Home Has Its Own Pizza Oven – House of the Week appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.
People keep showing up. Kids are racing across the suspension bridge and peeking through fairy doors. There are too many cooks to count.
The Lucas family savors an afternoon together with no agenda and no timeline. Just a chance to be together in the place they love.
When Kara Lucas was little, she kept busy building forts and playing pretend. But she didn’t have to use her imagination to dream up a magical place in rural Mississippi.
“Even as young as 4, we were just amazed at this treehouse,” Kara recalls. “It was so big and secluded. This was the ultimate place to come and play.”
With no construction or architecture background, Kara’s great-uncle Johnny Knight built the 1,200-square-foot marvel in 1971. With a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen, it wasn’t just a backyard escape. It was his home - an artist’s residence in the trees.
“I think for him it was more about being here and being part of nature,” Kara says. Johnny designed the treehouse to have eight sides and big windows so you can see in all directions. He used skylights to bring in as much natural light as possible.
Some say the treehouse feels like a castle with a moat, perched on a hill surrounded by a creek. Others say it’s like being in Neverland - a tree with a smiling face, a jolly garden gnome and a floating staircase welcome you to a world where you can always be a kid.
Kara’s mom, Gloria, has fond memories of watching Johnny’s vision take shape.
“When you walk in, it’s almost like an immediate peace,” she says. “It just feels so quiet and comfortable.”
When Johnny passed away in 2003, the Lucas family thought their memories would be just that - something to remember.
“It was really scary thinking that we might not be a part of this house again,” Gloria recalls.
Luckily, the house sold to a family friend.
“Of course we were sad about the sale of the house, but the previous owner, who was an artist herself, always made us feel very welcome,” Gloria explains. “We could come out anytime we wanted to, and we still felt like a part of the house.”
The new owner welcomed the Lucas family into the home, but she also enhanced it. From blowing out the kitchen to adding a bird’s nest and a chandelier, she made the rustic treehouse an elevated retreat.
By this time, Kara no longer lived in Mendenhall, MS. But the farther she moved, the more she missed the treehouse.
“I live in a loft apartment in downtown Los Angeles,” she says. “There is constant noise. I hear police sirens, I hear firetrucks and I hear traffic. I think the balance to that is having something like this treehouse, where there’s none of that.”
After checking Facebook on a whim, Kara saw that a childhood friend had shared a Zillow treehouse listing in Mendenhall.
“When my meeting was over, I went home and texted my family members and said, ‘Does anyone know that Johnny’s house is for sale?’ Immediately everyone responded back - I mean, our phones just blew up. Within about a half hour, my brother responded back and said, ‘I want it.'”
By 10 p.m., Gloria had signed the contract.
“If they wanted this treehouse, I wanted them to have this treehouse,” she says.
While the space is small, she’s never regretted her decision to keep it in the family.
“My advice for people wanting to live in a treehouse is to just go for it,” she says. “If you have a dream, unless you go for it, it never happens.”
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Originally published February 5, 2016.
The post The Family Treehouse: A Place to Come Together and Just Be appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.
Mirror, mirror on the wall, which home is the fairest of them all? Why, Snow White’s house, of course!
To see for yourself, check out this dead ringer for the Disney princess’ cottage, where she lived with her seven dwarfs.
The Olalla, WA, home was built with fairy tales in mind - but not just Snow White’s. The owner, Evonne Bess, calls an island on the property “Shrek Island.” And she suggests that plaster icicles hanging from the ceiling in two of her bedrooms are reminiscent of “Frozen.”
“I call it ‘The Storybook Cottage,’ but it does look like Snow White’s,” said Bess.
She bought it half completed and commenced a great finishing project, plastering walls, installing carpet and renovating the kitchen and other rooms. Bess kept its character, though, including a two-story tree trunk that runs up the middle of the living area. She refers to it as “the wishing tree.”
The 7.5-acre property enchants Bess, from “Shrek Island” to the wishing well and the hot tub and the treehouse with the water wheel. Bess has been known to stand by the well singing Snow White’s “Someday My Prince Will Come.”
The first impression of the estate, she said, might remind you of a beloved movie that’s not exactly a fairy tale - but still beautiful. “You drive through meandering woods and go across some bridges. You stop at the first bridge, and it looks like ‘Jurassic Park,'” Bess said.
The 4-bedroom, 4.5-bath home was modeled by its first owner after a fantasy-style house in British Columbia called “The Fabled Cottage.” This version is much larger: Bess ran it as a bed-and-breakfast briefly, and the property has hosted more than a handful of weddings.
“My son got married there last August,” she said. “I leaned more toward hosting weddings than a B&B. I didn’t like making beds.”
Photos by Mary Eklund.
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Originally published January 27, 2017.
The post House of the Week: Snow White's Cottage in the Woods appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.
Renting a home with other people can be stressful. But with careful planning and clear communication, living with others doesn't have to lead to passive-aggressive notes and arguments.
Whether you live with your sibling, your bestie or your significant other, try these tips for making smart use of those shared spaces.
What matters most when sharing closet space is equality. No, you don't need to make a line with tape on your closet floor (please don't). But you should stick to your designated areas.
Hang vertical cloth shelves in the middle to store your shared towels and extra sheets, while also creating a closet divider. And when you toss your shoes in the closet, make sure they're on your side.
Maximize the cabinet space you're given by adding stackable wire shelving racks. In the kitchen, they’re great for storing plates on top and bowls below. And under your sink, you can put extra sponges, cleaning rags and garbage bags below with your cleaning spray bottles up top.
Storage bins and plastic stackable boxes can also save the day - especially when it comes to bathroom storage. Put your skincare items in one and your dental products in another.
These stackable boxes come in all sizes - the ones with more depth can fit your bulkier products, and the shorter boxes are better for smaller items, like your travel-size products.
Once you place those stackable wire shelves in your kitchen pantry, you'll soon learn that labels and plastic bins rule.
If you decide to share spices and other items like flour, vegetable oil and cooking spray, try arranging them in bins with labels that say "Shared." Use more labels to mark shelves and bins with each roommate’s name, if you think you'll all need the reminder.
Decide with your roommates if it’s OK to keep items on the kitchen and bathroom counters. It may seem silly to discuss countertop space, but you'll be glad you did.
Decide how many and which items you agree to allow on the counters. Does the toaster that you never use drive your roomie crazy? Are you okay with your BFF's curling iron always being on the bathroom counter?
Air out your countertop pet peeves - you can always find ways to avoid potential disagreements.
Avoid any possible product mix-ups with a couple of shower caddies. Hang one over the shower head, and put another one (or two) with suction cups on the shower wall. Plus, storing your bath products in hanging caddies leaves the corners of your tub easy to clean.
If your place comes with its own storage space, try using a tall shelving unit and dividing the shelves equally among you.
If someone ends up slowly taking over the unit, try putting your belongings in labeled plastic bins. If things really get out of hand, see if your storage buddy may be willing to pay a bit more in rent or utilities.
Your apartment comes with a covered parking spot? Sweet! Oh, it only comes with one parking space? Not so sweet.
Try rotating its use every week or month. Or make an arrangement saying that whoever uses the parking spot can pay more in rent each month. Another idea: The roommate with the covered parking spot could do more chores than the other roommates.
The key is deciding as a team in advance what's fair - and sticking to it.
If one of you has a pet, how do you decide where the crate, toy basket, and food and water bowls go? It may make sense to put pet items in common areas, but the pet owner shouldn't assume all roommates are cool with squeaky toys all over the living room floor - no matter how cute that pup is.
Just like you'd pick up your things from the living room, you'll want to pick up Fido's stuff, too.
Don't hang your art in common areas without getting your roommates' opinions first. Turn decorating your walls into a roommate activity. Gather all the art and decorative wall items you want to hang, and have everyone choose their favorites.
You can even turn it into a chance to get to know your roommates better. Have a cool story about where you got that tapestry? Got your favorite mural while studying abroad? Tell your roomies all about it - and listen to their stories, too. They may be willing to put up all of your wall decor once they know the meaning it holds.
If all else fails, stick with similar color palettes, and decorate based on shared color groupings. Remember that what doesn't go up in the living room can go up in your room.
You can use all the fancy organization materials you want, but sometimes the basics are best.
- Adhesive hooks are great for hanging towels when you need extra bathroom space - or for hanging keys in the entryway.
- Use shoeboxes to store smaller items like scarves, winter gloves and cosmetics. Label them to make everything easy to find, and you can even decorate them with wrapping paper to pretty them up.
- Toilet paper rolls are an organizational lifesaver when you have too many cords. Designate each type of cord within one roll, and label them so you never mix up your roommates' cords with yours again.
- Over-the-door hangers are essential for items like purses and coats. Or try an over-the-door shoe hanger on one side of the door, with your things hung on the other side for double the saved space.
- Under-the-bed storage containers are key for off-season clothing items or bulky boots that don't seem to fit anywhere else. Your roommate will thank you for the extra closet space.
- Fabric panels are an inexpensive way to divide a room for added privacy.
Even if the people you live with are not quite as organized as you, rest assured that at least your belongings are contained on their shelves and in their assigned containers. Having smart shared spaces allows you to enjoy your time with your roommates without stressing over whose stuff is whose.
Looking for more information about renting? Check out our Renters Guide.
All photos from Shutterstock and Offset.
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Originally published September 9, 2016.
The post Roommate Relations: Making Smart Use of Shared Spaces appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.
You don't need to be a certifiable cowboy to appreciate this gentleman's ranch about an hour outside of Santa Fe.
Photos courtesy Marshall Elias Photography.
The homeowners rounded up more than 1,000 acres of land in Villanueva, NM, and built a modern, 500-square-foot home of steel and glass to shelter them from the desert sun. The house incorporates contemporary touches, with an outdoor kitchen, skylight and large windows to let in the warm sunlight.
Having a minimalist living space on a grand piece of land is almost poetic for a place deeply rooted in big views and an outdoor lifestyle.
"When you come out to New Mexico and you're in a place where you don't see anything that's man-made as far as the eye can see, it really clears your brain," said Gary Bobolsky, the listing agent. "It's just kind of a way to look at the world - the way you're meant to be."
"You don't see anything that's man-made as far as the eye can see."
The home has a modern feel, and the exterior is made entirely of steel, making it resistant to the elements, Bobolsky said. The interior features a fireplace for when the temperature dips at night. There's also a full outdoor kitchen for al fresco dinners and stargazing at night.
Hardwood floors anchor the bedroom while sliding glass doors provide bedside views of the desert landscape. A stone path meanders from the home to the Pecos River, where a private dock provides waterfront space for afternoon picnics or siestas in the sun.
"The stars and the Milky Way are going to be out of this world at night. It's so vast and the air is so clear."
The property also includes a 4,000-square-foot shop, perfect for storing hay, rounding up horses, or keeping farming equipment safe from the elements.
But it's those nighttime views, Bobolsky said, that truly make this a retreat for modern-day cowboys looking to escape city life.
"It's in an area that's so rural that the stars and the Milky Way are going to be out of this world at night," Bobolsky added. "It's so vast and the air is so clear."
"You've got 100-mile views," he continued. "It's kind of special like that."
Gary Bobolsky of Sotheby’s International Realty carries the listing.
Video courtesy Marshall Elias Photography.
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The post Tiny Home With 100-Mile Desert Views - House of the Week appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.
There’s nothing quite like the flamingo pink sunrise over a river - unless you compare it with the lilac sunset next to a lake or the crystal blue skies of an all-day ocean view.
From New York to North Carolina and Oregon to Illinois, these homes prove that scoring a waterfront spot doesn’t have to mean sinking your budget.
18781 26 1/2 Mile Rd
For sale: $129,900
The sunset vistas from this lakefront cottage are almost as picturesque as the home itself. This adorable 880-square-foot house sits on Prairie Lake, known for four seasons of fishing. For those who prefer to take it easy after a day on the water, there’s a private hot tub and a lakeside fire pit.
Check out more homes in Albion.
12853 Carlton Beach Rd
For sale: $249,000
Watch the boats pass by this home on Lake Ontario in upstate New York. The 2-bedroom waterfront getaway has a back porch and lakeside hammock to enjoy those cool breezes all summer long. Indoors, almost every window offers up a water view. As a bonus, a master gardener designed the lush landscaping out front.
View more homes in Lyndonville.
0 Eliza Island LOT 65
For sale: $267,000
See more Bellingham homes for sale.
75 Lighthouse Rd
For sale: $239,900
The private deck in the backyard of this Missouri home boasts 180-degree south-facing waterfront views, making for breathtaking sunrises in the morning and stunning sunsets at night. The 3-bedroom Lake Ozark lakeside spot also comes with access to a boat launch, while two of the bedrooms have decks overlooking the water.
Find more homes in Ozark.
Myrtle Beach, SC
813 Golden Willow Ct
For sale: $219,000
The only thing better than the lakefront breakfast nook in this South Carolina home might be the quick drive to the Atlantic Ocean just a few miles away. The 3-bedroom home also contains a quaint backyard patio for lunching in the sun, and a whirlpool tub for relaxing at night.
See more homes in Myrtle Beach.
Eagle Point, OR
4 Fish Lake Tract # F
For sale: $189,000
The waterfront views from this Oregon A-frame get an A-plus. The 2-bedroom getaway boasts a wall of windows for dazzling vistas of both Fish Lake and Mount McLoughlin in the distance. There’s an outdoor shower for cooling off on warm summer days, plus rustic, wooded interiors for a true vacation vibe.
Search more homes in Eagle Point.
Dingmans Ferry, PA
155 Renee Dr
For sale: $249,000
A landscaped path leads to lakefront access at this spacious home in the Pocono Mountains. The 4-bedroom retreat comes with a private dock and boat launch on a sizable piece of land. The indoors boasts nearly 3,200 square feet of hardwood floors, in addition to a fireplace for chillier nights.
Find more homes for sale in Dingmans Ferry.
456 Queen Anne Dr
For sale: $299,900
A giant wraparound patio and swinging hammock offer the perfect spot to relax at this North Carolina cottage. The 3-bedroom island home is nestled between a creek and a canal, with views of the Pamlico River in the distance. There’s no shortage of scenic views from the screened-in porch and even the front yard.
Check out more homes in Bath.
8972 Bridgecreek Dr
For sale: $200,000
Backyard dining is even better from a private lakeside porch. This 4-bedroom Florida home has a screened-in covered lanai to sip your morning coffee or enjoy an evening glass of wine as you watch pelicans fish for a meal. There’s a grassy backyard and a private wooden playground for the kids to enjoy.
Top image from Zillow listing.
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Gardens are wonderful places for pets. They provide entertainment, room to exercise and cool shade in the afternoon. However, many of the most common and seemingly innocuous garden plants are also poisonous to your furry friends.
The apples and oranges we humans enjoy, almost all flowering bulbs and some of the most popular houseplants all share one thing in common: They are dangerously toxic to cats and dogs.
Plants ranked ninth on the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (ASPCA's) list of top pet toxins in 2017. Roughly 5 percent of calls made to the organization’s Animal Poison Control Center involved landscaping plants, houseplants and bouquets.
Before we even cover the poisonous plants, let’s focus on the biggest dangers. Insecticides ranked seventh on the ASPCA list, and lawn and garden products came in 10th. Keep all chemicals out of reach, and if you're getting your lawn sprayed, allow at least a day before letting your pet on the grass.
Problem plants for pets
Many plants are poisonous or otherwise dangerous to pets, but luckily there are many more that are completely safe. Here are some toxic plants to avoid, followed by safe alternatives. This list is just an introduction and is by no means exhaustive, so refer to the ASPCA website to search for the plant in question.
|Bulbs||Caladium, calla lily, tulip, daffodil, iris, narcissus, crinum, amaryllis, dahlia, lily of the valley, crocus||Canna, muscari, Scarborough lily, ginger|
| Annuals and
|Arum, elephant ear, begonia, sweet pea, coleus, bird of paradise, cyclamen, hellebore, hosta, lantana, chrysanthemum, morning glory, asparagus fern, geranium. Lilies and daylilies are toxic to cats but nontoxic to dogs.||Aster, fern, marigold, gerber daisy, snapdragon, hollyhock, ornamental grasses, nasturtium, nerve plant, petunia, sunflower|
|Holly, rhododendron, azalea, oleander, sago palm, citrus (lemons, oranges, etc.), apple, apricot, peach, cherry, yucca, black walnut, yew, gardenia, nandina, wisteria||Crepe myrtle, bottlebrush, aralia, hawthorn, pittosporum, mulberry, magnolia, mahonia, rose, hickory, bamboo, banana|
|Vegetables||Tomato, garlic, leek, onion, shallot, grape||Cucumber, squash, melon, okra, zucchini|
|Houseplants||Dieffenbachia, Swiss cheese plant, Chinese evergreen, dracaena, pothos, ficus, anthurium, aloe, desert rose, kalanchoe, snake plant, euphorbia, asparagus fern, schefflera||Calathea, areca palm, cast iron plant, Christmas cactus, spider plant, episcia, false aralia, orchid, bromeliad, peperomia, echeveria, haworthia, sempervivum, gynura, plectranthus|
If you're unsure of the toxicity of a certain plant in your garden, refer to the ASPCA website to find out.
While you needn't tear apart your garden to keep poisonous plants off your dog's menu, you should definitely educate yourself so you can make your own informed decisions.
Remove risky plants, transplant them to pet-free areas of the garden or, if the plant is too big (or special) to easily remove, make it inaccessible to your pet with fencing.
Just remember that even fallen leaves or seedpods are also often poisonous, so acquaint yourself with the symptoms your pet might experience following ingestion so you know what to tell the vet.
You might not need to go out and remove a foundation planting of azaleas tomorrow, but it isn't that big of a deal to replace your toxic aloe plant with a nontoxic (and more attractive) haworthia.
If your pet shows any worrying symptoms, don't waste time looking at lists like these. Call your vet or visit the ASPCA poison control hotline website immediately.
Top photo from Offset.
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.
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Originally published June 25, 2015.
Houseplants can improve your life in many ways (more on that later), but if you're expecting that peace lily on your desk to rid your home of toxins, you're in for a surprise.
A 1989 NASA study attempted to find new ways to clean the air in space stations. Despite some pretty neat findings, it never claimed houseplants are great at removing chemicals from your home's air — although countless articles have since cited the study as proof of that point.
And the headline "Houseplants Remove Toxins" does sound a lot more exciting than the report’s actual statement:
"Low-light-requiring houseplants, along with activated carbon plant filters, have demonstrated the potential for improving indoor air quality by removing trace organic pollutants from the air in energy-efficient buildings."
And if you thought that was a buzzkill, the paper's summary continues to disappoint:
"Activated carbon filters containing fans have the capacity for rapidly filtering large volumes of polluted air and should be considered an integral part of any plan using houseplants for solving indoor air pollution problems."
In other words, even if your dracaena had the potential to remove trace toxins from your energy-efficient home, you'd still need to recreate NASA's complicated system, which blows air through the activated carbon in the plant's root zone.
Furthermore, if you see a list of the best plants for removing toxins, it's nothing more than a list of the plants used in the study.
So can houseplants purify my air or not?
In theory, yes. But if you're thinking of making your own botanical air filtration system, you've got a lot of work to do.
As an EPA reviewer explained in 1992, "To achieve the same pollutant removal rate reached in the NASA chamber study," you would need "680 plants in a typical house.”
You'd be better off buying an actual air filtration system or, at the very least, vacuuming more often.
Yes, it's true that some plants in the NASA list were more effective at removing benzene, trichloroethylene and/or formaldehyde than others, but the amount is so negligible that neither the American Lung Association nor the EPA recommends using houseplants to improve your air.
Taking it a step further, both organizations warn that houseplants can worsen your air quality, introducing bacteria that grows in damp potting mix or pesticides used by the nursery.
Don't let that discourage you from indoor gardening, though. If you're that worried about your air quality, you'd never step outside in the first place.
In any case, here's how to keep your houseplants squeaky clean:
- Dust those leaves! While you're at it, dust the house.
- Keep potting mix in its place with an ornamental mulch of river rocks or gravel.
- Avoid using pesticides whenever possible.
- Place saucers under each plant to catch excess potting mix.
- To prevent mold, water plants only when the top half inch of the potting mix is dry.
- Remove any diseased, yellowed, damaged or fallen leaves.
Grow houseplants for happiness
True story: I once grew over a hundred plants in my tiny apartment, and I can attest that there was nothing clean about the experience - at all.
Dust filled the air, tree frogs and lizards leaped out of the foliage, and some plants even had stinky fertilizers in the potting mix. Those plants may not have made my air any cleaner, but cultivating a rainforest in the comfort of my home definitely made me a happier person.
Houseplants are a lot more exciting than you'd think. I was actually excited to wake up every morning, because each day brought the promise of a fresh new leaf, a different flower to admire or another thick orchid root to mist with water.
Helping these living plants grow and thrive gave me a sense of purpose and a connection to the natural world. They also made me sneeze, but only because I spilled potting mix on the floor fairly often.
The only reason you need to grow a houseplant is to be happy. There are, of course, studies suggesting that living with plants improves your concentration, calmness and productivity, but there's no point in proving what we already know.
Nobody would bother growing houseplants if they didn't make us happy.
Photos from Shutterstock.
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Originally published September 15, 2017.
The first rule of the survival condo project: Do not talk about where the survival condo project is located.
If you’re lucky enough to be let in on the secret, you drive two hours from the nearest commercial airport, across the rolling plains of Kansas. The closest small town is about half an hour away, with a population of roughly 5,000 people. There are just over a dozen restaurants; about half of them are fast-food chains.
At some point, you turn off the highway and drive down a dirt road. Up a secret driveway, you stumble upon a barbed wire fence and a staff of armed guards. Security cameras keep a watchful eye over a subtle, grassy mound. A nearby wind turbine hints at what lies beneath - 15 stories of luxury condos and communal living.
Larry Hall, the developer and owner, came up with the idea after 9/11. He first sought a place to securely protect a data center but later thought it might be better to build luxury bunkers instead. The place was so popular, it sold out before construction finished.
So what's life like inside a missile silo? Take a look inside.
Workers built the original facility in the 1960s to store and launch Cold War-era weapons. Most missile silos in the United States have been abandoned, Hall said. He bought this one in 2008 for $300,000 and spent six years developing it.
Hall envisioned converting the silo into a vertical living space: There are 15 floors divided into 12 single-family homes.
The condos start at 920 square feet. Owners unlock their homes using a biometric key system. Each kitchen offers a variety of customizable stainless steel appliances, all from the same brand. That makes it easier to stock replacement parts, Hall added.
The "windows" are LED screens displaying a real-time feed of what's going on aboveground or a scene of your choosing. Options include beach sunsets and city life.
Condo owners include a doctor, a firefighter and an engineer. When there’s a lockdown, everybody is expected to work, Hall said. “It's not like you're on a ship or on vacation being catered to,” he added.
Each home starts at $1.5 million and can sleep between 3 and 10 people. Internet access is included.
The price also includes mandatory training and a five-year food supply for each person.
The bunker also has a fish farm, space to grow vegetables and plants, and a reverse-osmosis water filtration system, which can produce 10,000 gallons of water per day.
Workers built a resort-style pool, along with a gym and spa. Four-legged friends have their own dog park.
Other areas include a library, a bar, a movie theater and a rock climbing wall.
A gourmet market offers everything from freshly baked bread to cookbooks.
Some owners treat the place like a second home, while others plan to retire here, Hall said. He even hired a psychologist to ensure that there’s enough space and light for residents to survive for long periods of time.
In case of emergency, a SWAT-style team can pick up homeowners within 400 miles of the silo and bring them to the shelter.
Hall is currently building survival condos in two more missile silos to meet the demand.
“Everything here is very high-tech and highly reliable. It's very resilient,” Hall said. “You could stay off the grid indefinitely.”
Photos by Erik Hecht.
Learn more about the Survival Condo project here.
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Sun rooms, solariums, skylights - oh my! While the terminology can be confusing, these rooms designed to offer indoor sunbathing have similar qualities and suit any type of home environment.
If your climate doesn’t offer year-round sun, you can still enjoy the outdoors by adding a sun room or solarium addition to your space.
What’s the difference?
A sun room is a home addition made completely of windows, which offer a 360-degree view of the outdoor scenery without stepping foot outside.
The term “sun room” usually means a room made of glass, and it’s commonly interchanged with conservatory, solarium, greenhouse and atrium, among others. Technically, a sun room is any large room that allows the light to pour in through large windows or glass walls.
A solarium, on the other hand, is a more specifically designed room. To be considered a solarium, the space must also have a glass roof in addition to a wall of windows or glass.
Traditionally, solariums were built as part of hospitals to allow patients to soak up the sun without being exposed to the outdoor elements. Solariums can be attached to the home or stand as a separate structure altogether.
Check out these gorgeous sun rooms and solariums, and get inspired for a sunny space of your own.
Soft, neutral sunlight
This airy sun room lets the light pour in while still maintaining a homey charm. The neutral tones and leafy plants complement the tranquil view outside, making it perfect for afternoon tea or family game night.
This sunny haven in Pensacola, FL, is a modern solarium structure that offers privacy between spaces while letting in plenty of light. The iron frame and tinted glass allow the homeowners to enjoy the sun but avoid harmful rays and heat.
Eclectic outdoor living
Clean and welcoming, this Connecticut sun room features French doors and easy patio access. Day or night, hot or cold, this multipurpose room is ideal for a quiet meal at home or an intimate gathering with friends.
Room with a view
Boasting sky-high views and traditional architecture, this solarium in Friday Harbor, WA, shows how outside structures can flow seamlessly to the indoor space. With area rugs and overhead lighting, the solarium feels like a light and bright living room.
Top photo from Offset.
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- How to Plan the Perfect Patio
Originally published March 22, 2017.
The post Spectacular Solariums and Sun Rooms Let in the Light appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.
Outdoor showers may seem like a luxury - something that only those with beach houses would need or be lucky enough to have. But if you have kids and pets that love to play in the yard, or if you’re an avid gardener, runner or someone that enjoys the freedom of bathing in nature, you may consider an outdoor shower for your own home.
Lucky for you, outdoor showers are an accessible feature for just about anyone. It all depends on how simple or complex you want your shower to be. A simple outdoor shower with cold water costs approximately $1,000 or less. An outdoor shower with an enclosure and hot and cold water will run about $4,000-$8,000.
Here are four things to consider before taking the plunge on your own little piece of outdoor bathing heaven.
This is one of the most important considerations. It’s best to choose a spot that you use often. In most cases, anywhere near the back entrance to your home is a good choice - maybe adjacent to the back door or on the back deck. If you have a pool, situate the shower nearby for easy rinse-offs before and after swimming.
Another major consideration is plumbing access. Unless you’re installing the type of shower that attaches to a garden hose, you’ll need to install it close to existing plumbing.
Last but not least, go for a sunny spot. This will help keep mold and mildew at bay and provide natural warmth while you rinse.
Privacy is a fairly important consideration, unless you think only swimsuit-clad people will use the outdoor shower. "I encourage people to build with the most modest person in mind," says Ethan Fierro, author of “The Outdoor Shower.” The trick is, you want the shower to feel private and far from prying eyes, but you also want to keep the natural feeling.
An easy and adjustable choice is a freestanding folding screen. These screens work particularly well on decks and patios, where it might be impractical to build any type of wall.
Another option is building corrugated metal wing walls to create a shower “corner” of sorts, where swimmers can rinse off after a dip. You can make this more private by adding a third wall to the design. Of course, there’s always the more elaborate option, which would be to surround the shower with wooden walls.
The simplest and most inexpensive plumbing option, and one that many people choose, is a shower connected to a garden hose, which is then hooked up to an outside faucet. This cold-water fixture is perfect for an outdoor shower that’s used only in the heat of summer and mostly for cleaning off dirt and sand.
Next up is the hot-and-cold hose option. First, you’ll need a plumber to install an outdoor hot-water faucet next to the cold one. From there, it basically works in a similar fashion to the cold-water hose shower.
The most elaborate - and most expensive - is the plumbed-in outdoor shower. This is worth investing in if you anticipate consistent outdoor showers, and not just for cleaning up after a hot day in the sun. The only downside to this option: If you live in an area with freezing winters, you have to make sure you can fully drain and insulate the plumbing so it doesn't burst.
The simplest and most common drainage system is letting the used water drain into your yard. If you don't have very porous ground in your yard, or if the outdoor shower is close to your home, consider attaching the plumbing to your home’s drainage pipes or installing a French drain (essentially a gravel-lined channel connected to a pipe that directs water to a drainage area).
The easiest thing to do, of course, is to go with the first option and recycle the water into your garden.
Incorporate some affordable accessories that greatly increase the fun and pleasure of showering outdoors. A large rainfall showerhead enhances that outdoor feeling, and plants or flowers in the shower area or peeping through the enclosure add a whimsical touch.
Add some soft solar-powered lights for showering at dusk, install hooks for hanging towels and wet bathing suits, and maybe even add a chair to sit in. Most importantly, design your shower to take advantage of nature’s views, whether that’s the sky overhead or the splendor of your backyard garden.
With just a little planning and effort, you can install your own outdoor shower and stay cool during the sweltering summer months.
Top photo from Zillow listing.
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- 8 DIY Ways to Redo Your Bathroom (Without Remodeling)
Originally published June 26, 2017.
Stand along the edges of a national forest outside Jackson, WY, and you might hear the sound of elk calling out as the sun sets on the horizon. It's a wild spot, also frequented by moose, coyotes and deer - a place that's home to mountain peaks and marshy land.
Homeowner Katherine Gwin wanted to celebrate this, yet she took a decidedly different approach: She went contemporary in the countryside, choosing a sleek style rather than the rustic approach you might find in homes nearby.
"It is more about the outside than the inside. I love it out here, and I have been coming here for years and years," she said. "I wanted this place to be about the outdoors, not about the indoors."
The result is a 4-bedroom, 6-bathroom home noted for its seemingly endless floor-to-ceiling glass walls, which can physically slide away and disappear. Gwin allows the grass and foliage around the property to grow wild, so when she moves the walls, the outdoors quite literally come inside.
And she wouldn't have it any other way.
Other design elements were also made to emphasize the home's cherished surroundings while taking a modern spin. The centerpiece is a dining area that overlooks a reflecting pool and offers a view of the nearby national forest. At sunset, the sky glows in pastel shades of cotton candy and violet.
Inside, designers incorporated natural wood and leather trim, giving the home a contemporary feel without the impression of being too industrial.
Builders camouflaged modern necessities - from electrical outlets to thermostats to smoke alarms - to give the home a simple, sleek look.
It was almost too convincing.
"In fact, my insurance adjuster was out to look at some things, and he couldn't find [the smoke alarms]. He said, 'I thought you had a fire alarm in here,'" Gwin said, laughing. (For the record, the alarm exists.)
The entire second level is dedicated to the master suite and includes an expansive private deck, along with an office, library and bathroom. The soaking tub, naturally, has million-dollar views.
For the nights when the family wants to actually sleep under the stars, they pull mattresses onto their nearby deck and drift off to the scent of fresh mountain air.
"It's just incredibly peaceful. I feel like when I walk through the door, it immediately takes my stress level down to zero," Gwin said. "You see all the beautiful trees and the grass and the wildlife. It's just a spectacular spot. You just feel like you're living outdoors."
A landscape architect was told to make the house look like it had been dropped into the natural environment. Besides the wild grass, aspen trees grow right up to the front door.
On the basement level, a climate-controlled wine vault keeps pinot perfect. The owners also made a fireproof room to store their valuables.
Beyond the property, there are ample spots for fly-fishing, hiking and cross-country skiing. Downhill skiing, snowboarding and other winter sports are about a half hour away at the Jackson Hole Resort.
The home was listed at $18 million. It sold in late December.
"This house is about the space, the air and the peacefulness of the outdoors," Gwin added. "I just wanted to feel that openness with the outdoors, and that just doesn't happen with the heaviness - the weight - of a log cabin."
David A. NeVille of The NeVille Group Real Estate carried the listing.
Photos by Josh Franer.
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The post Putting a Modern Home on the Map in the Wilds of Wyoming appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.
A home sold to a woman 10 miles down the road in dusty, grass-up-to-your-knees Montana. She paid $125,000 to put it in her backyard.
But it wasn’t your typical prairie-land homestead - it was a double shipping container. While upcycled homes have been popular for some time, it’s rare to see two 45-foot-long shipping containers combined into a single living space.
Architect and former owner Ty Kelly had the vision. Born in Livingston, MT, but living in Washington state most of his life, he wanted to get back to his roots. He didn’t need a big place and had always been fascinated with shipping containers as a way of building. Saving money and reusing materials were important, too.
When Kelly found the land - a 12-acre blanket of rolling grassland with views of three mountain ranges - he knew this was the spot. To show it off, he turned one of the long sides of his rectangular dwelling into a glass wall. It’s a stargazer’s dream, he says.
The roughly 700-square-foot space has 1 bedroom and 1 bathroom.
Unlike some shipping containers that feel cold inside, this one features lots of reclaimed wood Kelly used to warm up the space. As Curbed notes, it’s this blending of salvaged materials with a simple, elegant design that makes the house shine.
A neon outdoor shower is perfect for nature lovers looking to live on the wild side. It’s also one of Kelly’s favorite features.
When the architect listed the home last November, his agent’s phone blew up. He had interest from coast to coast, but he ultimately sold the place to a woman down the road. She is planning to use the home to host her kids and grandkids when they visit.
While the home’s physical address and ownership have changed, Kelly is glad the container remains in Livingston with that killer view.
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The post This Shipping Container Will Make You Do a Double Take – House of the Week appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.
Making the decision to move can be an exciting time, whether you're moving across town or across the country. But it can also be a milestone surrounded by uncertainty: am I making the right decision? How will my kids adjust to a new school? Will I like my new neighborhood?
According to the US Census, 11.2 percent of Americans moved in 2016, for reasons related to housing, family, and employment. And there's one question pretty much everyone who is thinking about moving asks: How much will it cost to relocate?
There are all kinds of moving expenses to keep in mind, including changes in cost of living, balancing two mortgages (or a mortgage and rent) during the transition, and the cost of actually getting all your belongings from point A to point B. Here's some information about average moving expenses to help you make sense of it all.
Estimating moving costs
Roughly half of all people who move use professional movers, whether they're moving short or long distances.
These are average costs for moving, according to HomeAdvisor. Of course, prices vary by region and by distance.
|Type of move||Average charge||Extra charges|
|Local/intrastate (under 100 miles, including 2 movers + truck)||$80-$100 per hour||+ $25-$50 extra per additional mover|
|Interstate/cross-country (over 100 miles)||$2,000-$5,000 per move||+ $0.50 per pound|
How much does it cost to move across town?
Local moves make up the vast majority of people moving every year. According to Zillow research, 57 percent of home buyers who also sell a home move within the same city, and 86 percent move within the same state.
For local moves, you'll typically pay an hourly rate that includes a truck and the services of two movers. The bigger your home, the longer your move will take.
Consider these estimates from HomeAdvisor.
|Size of house||Estimated time of move||Average price range|
|1-bedroom apartment||3-5 hours||$200-$500|
|2-bedroom apartment||5-7 hours||$400-$700|
|3-bedroom house||7-10 hours||$560-$1,000|
|4-bedroom house||10+ hours||$800-$2,000+|
How far in advance should I book local movers?
Keep in mind that most people move between May and September, so you'll want to book your movers at least four weeks ahead of time. The earlier you book, the more likely you are to get the day and time that works best for you, and the more likely you are to get an experienced crew.
The least expensive days to move are Monday-Thursday. In the off-season (October-April), you can often book movers with only one to two weeks' notice.
How much does it cost to move across the country?
While local movers typically charge by the hour, for a cross-country move you'll likely be charged based on two key variables: weight and distance.
Before the move, the empty truck is weighed, and your mover should provide you with an "empty weight" receipt. Then, once all your belongings are loaded, they'll weigh your truck again to help them determine your moving cost.
Have no idea how much your belongings weigh? Reputable movers will give you an estimate before you sign on the dotted line, using average weights for homes of your size (more on estimates later).
For example, the goods inside a 1,000-square-foot, 3-bedroom apartment typically weigh about 5,000 pounds. A 2,800-square-foot, 4-bedroom home’s furnishings typically weigh in at around 20,500 pounds.
Simply put, the farther a moving company has to transport your belongings, the higher the bill will be. You'll likely be charged a per-mile rate in addition to the weight-based charges. Make sure to ask if there are any additional transportation charges, like fuel or tolls.
How far in advance should I book movers for a long-distance move?
For an interstate or cross-country move, you'll want to book your movers as early as possible - ideally six to eight weeks before your move.
Typical moving expenses
Whatever kind of move you're planning, the moving expenses you'll incur will vary based on the level of service you're looking for:
- Just a truck rental: The ultimate DIY move, in this scenario you'll be doing the packing, loading, transportation, unloading, and unpacking on your own, with just the help of a rental truck. Flat per-day rates start at around $20 per day, depending on the size of the truck, plus charges for gas and mileage.
- Loading, transportation, and unloading: Save your back by doing all the packing and unpacking yourself, but have professional movers do the heavy lifting. For a local move, this service can range from $200 for a one-bedroom apartment to $2,000+ for a 4-bedroom house.
- Full-service moves: Leave everything to the pros, including wrapping and packing your belongings, loading them, transporting them to your new home, and unloading. You'll just be responsible for unpacking your belongings and getting settled. This type of move is usually used for long-distance moves. Expect to pay roughly $2,000-$5,000 for the transportation, plus about 50 cents per pound, plus $25-$50 per hour, per mover for packing and unpacking help.
- Temporary storage: If your moving dates don't line up exactly, you may find yourself needing to temporarily stash your things in a storage unit or moving container. Storage facility rates start at about $50 per month for a small unit, and go up to $300 or $400 for larger units. If you'd like the convenience of a portable storage unit that's delivered to your home, loaded by you, and stored in a warehouse until you're ready for re-delivery, expect to pay $150-$300 per month, plus delivery and re-delivery costs.
- Moving supplies: Instead of buying and then recycling boxes, you can go green and rent hard plastic boxes for your move. Prices start at about $50 per week for enough boxes to pack a 1-bedroom apartment, and up to $200 to pack a large house. Once you're done, the rental service will pick up the boxes. To save money on cardboard boxes, check your local “buy nothing” group or moving truck rental company, which often have used boxes on hand.
Additional costs of moving
- When calculating your relocation budget, make sure to keep in mind these unexpected moving costs:
- A transportation surcharge if the moving company pays workers more for working in metropolitan areas, where labor costs are often higher.
- You may opt to purchase full value protection insurance. Released value protection is typically included by movers at no cost, but the protection is minimal - just 60 cents per pound per article lost or damaged.
- Charges for moving vehicles, including cars, boats, and motorcycles.
- Surcharges for moving large or fragile items - think swing sets, pianos, extra-large furniture, or riding lawn mowers.
- Additional charges if the movers have to walk more than 75 feet from door to truck, or if they need to use stairs or an elevator.
- Additional charges if your street is too narrow to accommodate a moving truck and they'll need to shuttle your belongings with a smaller truck.
- You may find yourself paying unexpected moving costs if there's a delay in the availability of your new home and the moving company has to put your items into storage.
Moving cost agreements
Any reputable moving company should provide you with a quote before your move, using the industry-standard rate book published by the Household Goods Carrier Bureau, called the Tariff 400-N. There are two main types of moving quotes:
- Non-binding estimates are the industry standard. They reflect the company's best guess as to what your final bill will be, but they can often be inaccurate. Whenever possible, opt for not-to-exceed quote.
- Not-to-exceed estimates are quotes where the moving company commits to a maximum price.
When it comes to moving, the best way to limit your costs (and to keep your sanity) is to move quickly. The faster you're out of your old home and into your new home, the less you'll pay in movers, rented supplies, storage costs, and - most importantly - overlapping mortgage payments or rent.
Looking to sell your house in a hurry? Check out Zillow Instant Offers, where you can list your home for investors only and attract offers from investors who are ready to buy.
Originally published July 2012; data updated March 2018.
There's no need to park in the mountains when the rock climbing is right at your doorstep.
At least that’s what the team at Tiny Heirloom figured when they set out to design a tiny home for an intrepid couple looking to take adventure on the road.
The Portland, OR-based company combined two of the things its clients enjoyed most - fitness and being outside - into a 250-square-foot, custom-built home, said Jason Francis, creative director and co-founder at Tiny Heirloom.
The idea for a tiny home with a bouldering wall came from organic brainstorming, Francis said.
"The rock wall really started as a long-shot idea, but the more we thought about it, the more excited we got," Francis said. "So we figured out a way to make it happen!"
"We've built many custom homes," Francis added, "but this was definitely one of our most unique."
His team added some rich design elements, including a roll-up garage-style glass door, to bring the outdoors inside. The couple intends to use the place as their primary residence.
The home cost about $145,000, but $35,000 of that went to building the custom climbing wall.
The home is 24 feet long and 13 feet tall, providing plenty of room for outdoor climbing. The bouldering wall is on one side of the home, and the handholds can be reconfigured to change up the climbing route.
One side has a traditional entryway, while the other has the roll-up door to provide expansive views of wherever the home is parked.
The living space contains two lofts: one with an office and the other with a bedroom. Designers hung a chandelier made of Edison bulbs between the two.
The kitchen features a farmhouse sink and full-sized oven. The cabinets are a rich blue color with brass accents. There are two open shelves above the countertops.
The home also contains a dining space with bench-style seating that doubles as storage.
An arched blue-tile doorway leads to the bathroom, which has a full-sized soaking tub, white subway tiles and a rainfall showerhead.
After completing the tiny home and sharing it on social media, Francis said they've had a number of inquiries about building similar spaces for clients.
"Ideas have spread from it quite a bit, but no one else has bought the exact same thing," Francis said. "We have had a client request a rock wall system in the house as a way up to the lofts for his two young boys."
Photos courtesy of Tiny Heirloom.
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The post You'll Be Climbing the Walls of This Tiny Home – House of the Week appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.
With the cost to paint a house’s exterior averaging about $2,500 nationally, homeowners longing for a new look may be considering their DIY options.
You don't need to be particularly handy to make your home's exterior look like new. All you need is some spare time between now and summer. You can wash your house in a day, prep it in a weekend, and finish giving it a dazzling makeover over the course of a few weeks (and for about one-fifth of the cost to hire pros).
1-day project: Wash your house
If you aren't already washing your siding once a year, now is the time to start. This will remove any mold and mildew, expose any potential problems and get the surface ready for prep work and painting.
- A pressure washer is the most popular cleaning tool, thanks to its powerful spray - but it's not a magic wand. In addition to patience, you'll also need protective eyewear, a couple of five-gallon buckets, a pressure-washing cleaning solution and a stiff brush.
- Soak the surface first to loosen up debris, and then start cleaning with a wide, sweeping motion, from the bottom to the top of each wall.
- To prevent damage, start spraying at a distance of 10 feet and work your way in. Wash windows, garage doors and cracked seals at the lowest setting or by hand.
- If that big, loud pressure washer leaves you feeling a little gun-shy, you can get the same results with a scrub brush, bleach solution and garden hose.
Weekend project: Make repairs
Once you've thoroughly cleaned your home's exterior, use the next weekend to prepare it for a paint job. On Saturday, sand, fill and weatherproof the surfaces. On Sunday, cover any stains with primer.
- Using a sanding block and razor blade, remove any protruding burrs or paint drips. To speed up the job, use a rotary tool or power sander.
- Patch and fill holes with the filler that's appropriate for your siding. For example, you can use wood filler on wood, but fiber cement siding (sometimes known as Hardie Board) requires cement patch. Sand when dry.
- Replace old caulk with either a small putty knife or painter’s tool. Apply the caulk slowly for a smooth bead, using a damp rag to wipe up the excess. Practice in an inconspicuous area if needed.
- Replace any rotted trim or siding immediately. This will definitely add some time and cost to your project, but it sure beats painting over rotted wood and a colony of termites.
- Spend Sunday applying primer, following the manufacturer's instructions. Even if you plan on painting with a two-in-one paint that includes primer, old paint jobs and stained areas will still need a layer of primer to help paint adhere. If you run out of prime-time this weekend, finish when you kick off the next project next weekend.
- In the meantime, do some planning. Decide on a paint palette with two or three colors (base, trim and accent) and get ready for the fun part.
Month-long project: Paint!
Once your exterior is washed and prepped, give it a total overhaul with new paint, trim and accents.
Week 1: Upgrade the front door casing
- Once you've found the perfect style, take measurements and plan out the placement on paper before purchasing and cutting the lumber.
- If feasible, purchase rot-resistant PVC trim. Pressure-treated wood is cheaper but must be preserved, dried and primed before installation.
- To remove the old casing, cut through the caulk with a utility knife and carefully remove casing with a pry bar.
- Cut the new casing to size, letting it sit flush against the bottom.
Week 2: Paint the siding
- This can be done in the afternoon or evening, so tackle the job in sections. Shake and stir the paint before you begin for even coverage.
- Cover any light fixtures, doorbells, and windows where you intend to paint, and use an angled brush to paint along edges without making a mess. Use a roller to fill in the broad areas, working from top to bottom. Paint the trim last, wiping up any stray spatters with a damp rag.
Week 3: Apply a second coat
- Sand out any paint drips or debris.
- Paint the siding and trim another coat.
Week 4: Tackle the details
- Paint the front door the color of your dreams.
- Add shutters, if you like.
- Upgrade and add extras: new crown molding for the porch, a doorbell, a new house number, door handles, and light fixtures.
Top image from Zillow listing.
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The post How to Paint the Exterior of Your Home (the Easy Way!) appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.
Ready for a kitchen renovation? Anxious for a bathroom remodel? The easy part is knowing your goal for home remodeling - whether you’re trying to keep up with your growing family, add office space, or increase your home’s value.
But figuring out how to plan a home renovation that doesn’t break the bank can be tricky.
Here are five key steps in planning your home remodeling project.
1. Estimate home renovation costs
As a general rule of thumb, you should spend no more on each room than the value of that room as a percentage of your overall house value. (Get an approximate value of your home to start with.)
For example, a kitchen generally accounts for 10 to 15 percent of the property value, so spend no more than this on kitchen renovation costs. If your home is worth $200,000, for example, you’ll want to spend $30,000 or less.
Something else to keep in mind: Contrary to popular belief, kitchen renovations offer among the lowest return on investment, according to analysis from Zillow Talk: The New Rules of Real Estate. Every dollar you spend on a kitchen remodel increases the value of your home by 50 cents.
The highest return on investment? A mid-range bathroom remodel.
2. Consider home remodeling loan options
If you plan on borrowing money to fund your home renovations, there are a number of loans out there to help with just that.
- Refinancing. Depending on your current interest rate, you might be able to refinance your mortgage at a lower rate and/or for a longer loan term, which could lower your monthly payments and help you save up for your renovations.
- Cash-out refinance. If you have enough equity, you could also consider a cash-out refinance, which means refinancing your existing loan for an amount that's higher than what you owe. Going this route, you pay off your original mortgage and have cash left over. Use a refinance calculator to see if refinancing makes sense for you.
- HELOC. If refinancing sounds like too big of a leap, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) might work better. A HELOC works a lot like a credit card in the sense that it has a set limit that you can borrow against.
- Home equity loan. Although it sounds similar to a HELOC, a home equity loan is a bit different. This loan requires you to take out all the cash at one time. They're often referred to as "second mortgages" because homeowners get them in addition to their first mortgage.
Refinancing, getting a HELOC or taking out a home equity loan are all big decisions, and it can be tough to know which one makes the most sense for you. As with any new loan, consult with a lender to see which option is best for your situation.
3. Get home renovation quotes from contractors
Some contractors will give you an estimate based on what they think you want done, and work completed under these circumstances is almost guaranteed to cost more. You have to be very specific about what you want done, and spell it out in the contract - right down to the materials you’d like used.
Get quotes from several contractors, tossing out the bid from the one who gives you the lowest estimate. Going with this choice could be asking for problems, as low-priced contractors are known to cut corners - at your expense.
4. Stick to the home remodeling plan
As the renovation moves along, you might be tempted to add on another “small” project or incorporate the newest design trend at the last minute. But know that every time you change your mind, there’s a change order, and even minor changes can be costly. Strive to stick to the original agreement, if possible.
5. Account for hidden home renovation costs
Your home may look perfect on the outside, but there could be issues lurking beneath the surface. In fact, hidden imperfections are one of the reasons renovation projects end up costing more than you anticipated.
Rather than scramble to come up with extra money after the fact, give yourself a cushion upfront. Factor in 10 to 20 percent (or more) of your contracted budget for unforeseen expenses, as they can - and do - occur. In fact, it’s rare that any project goes completely smoothly.
Top image from Zillow listing.
- 10 Questions to Ask Before Renovating a Small Kitchen
- 8 DIY Ways to Redo Your Bathroom (Without Remodeling)
- 5 Home Renovations That Could Hurt Resale
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.
Originally published June 4, 2015.
Most homeowners have that one thing about their home that they wish were different.
“My house would be perfect if it just had one more bathroom.”
“I love my house - except for the kitchen layout.”
“If I had more storage space, I could live here forever.”
For some owners, their home’s fatal flaw exists outside the four walls. Maybe the house backs up to a creek that floods whenever it rains, resulting in a squishy backyard perfect for breeding mosquitoes. Or perhaps the home is located on a busy street that generates too much traffic noise. It could just be that the house is too far from the homeowner’s job, and the long commute has gotten old.
If you’re feeling discontented with your home, you may be thinking about renovating … or getting out entirely. Before you knock down walls or put your home on the market, check out our quiz - it could help you think differently about your situation.
Should You Renovate or Sell?
Note: This quiz is for entertainment purposes only. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.
If you love your home’s location-specific qualities (like great local schools or access to amenities), you could have a tough time replicating those elsewhere.
And if renovating could make your home livable for more than seven years or so, and if you can handle the mess and inconvenience of a big remodeling project, you’re probably better off staying put and investing in updates that will make the home work for you.
Before you begin, be sure to:
- Create a renovation budget and determine how you’ll finance the project
- Ensure you aren’t overimproving your home for the neighborhood (which could make it hard to sell later)
- Investigate and obtain any necessary permits
- Assemble your renovation team
Get more home improvement inspiration.
Think about selling.
If it would take a massive renovation to transform your home into a place you can love, or if the location just isn’t what you want, you might be better off selling and moving to a more suitable dwelling - provided you plan to stay for a while, which will make the expense and hassle of buying a new home worth the effort.
Think selling might be your best option? Be sure to:
- Research your local market
- Connect with a good local agent
- Plan any updates or repairs buyers will expect
- Schedule a pre-inspection
- Make a plan for staging your home
Get more tips and advice about selling.
What’s the real estate market like in your area?
Which is a bigger issue in your home?
How does your home compare to your neighbors’ houses?
If you renovated your home, how much longer could you live there?
If you moved to a new home, how likely are you to stay there for seven years or longer?
Do you think your household will grow?
How do you feel about your current neighbors?
Do you have an attic, basement or other raw space that could be finished?
What’s the first thing you’d do if you decided to remodel?
How do you deal with waiting in a long line that’s moving slowly?
What would be the main goal of your renovation?
Which room(s) would you renovate?
Do you know what a HELOC is?
Which would you most like your home to have?
How are the schools in your home’s district?
How do you feel when you think about your home?
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- Quiz: How Much Do You Love Your Home?
- 3 Steps to Prepare Your House for Sale
Searching for a house locally is not without its difficulties. Add hundreds or even thousands of miles to the equation, and it becomes infinitely more complicated.
Though long-distance house hunting has its unique challenges, it's not impossible. In fact, with the right agent and the convenience of modern technology, it's never been easier to buy a house remotely.
Here are a few critical factors to keep in mind when you find yourself in a home search from afar.
Do your homework
When it comes to long-distance home shopping, "the Internet is your friend," remarks Meghann Shike of Synergy Realty in Nashville. "You know the neighborhoods you live around, but you know nothing about your new one. You don't know where the mall is, the [grocery store], or the schools."
Though nothing can substitute checking out the neighborhood in person, Shike recommends looking up commute times to work, crime rates in the area, and, most importantly, how the schools rank. Even if you don't have children or don't plan to have children, it's still good to know the quality of the schools for resale purposes.
One of the biggest pieces of the long-distance house-hunting puzzle, however, is to make sure you’re researching who the best local real estate agents are. It's always crucial to hire an agent you trust, but with a long-distance search the agent can make or break the experience.
"You're going to want someone local on the ground - someone who is very familiar with the city, neighborhood, and prices," Shike says. "You need to get a feel for how that person operates. Are they available to talk to you? You're going to have more questions than you realize, and your agent is going to need to be there to answer them."
Have a travel budget
When Kyle and Samantha Steele found out they were going to be moving from Oklahoma City to Columbus, OH for Kyle's new job, the couple looked at listings online, got in touch with real estate agents, and picked an upcoming weekend to house hunt in person.
The Steeles’ agent showed them multiple houses, but nothing was quite right. Then they found out that many of the older neighborhoods in the area didn't have great access to high-speed Internet. That’s when they decided to build.
Their agent was instrumental in guiding them on their short house-hunting weekend, and in finding a builder. "[Our agent] basically helped us with everything, every step of the way," Kyle states. "When we couldn't find anything, she helped us find model homes in the area we're building in, and showed us three different model homes. She answered questions, and helped us find the building company. She even helped us find a hotel for the weekend."
Inevitably, unexpected appointments came up during the building process that required one of the Steeles to be present. "We had to make an appointment to meet with the design studio to pick out the floors and the carpet," Samantha remarks. “So far, I’ve been to Ohio twice.”
The couple advises long-distance house hunters to prepare and plan ahead, especially for last-minute travel. "Be flexible,” Kyle says. “Make sure you have a few thousand dollars in reserve that you can spend on plane tickets and a hotel - because you will have to go back and forth."
From the agent perspective, Shike recommends planning a house-hunting trip that’s at least four to five days long, so you're not cramming in tons of showings that you won't remember at the end of the day.
Know what you want
When you're in the market for a home, you should always have a running list of features you want, but it's especially crucial when you're buying from a distance.
"I like to tell my clients to do a ‘top five.'” Shike says. “What's your non-negotiable? Is it being able to step out the front door to walk your dogs? Do you want to walk your kids to school?"
Knowing exactly what you want out of a house and location allows your agent to help you narrow down neighborhoods and homes more easily, and assist you in making an offer quickly, which is especially important in a fast-moving market.
"Buyers need to get over the fear of writing an offer when they haven't seen the house in person," remarks Shike. "I can video chat our way through the house, but I can't get you on a plane [to get here] in the same time the local people can who are shopping."
Overcome remote home-buyer jitters
For those buyers who are nervous about making an offer sight unseen, Shike says there is the possibility of adding a clause in the contract that the sale is contingent on the buyer seeing it.
Of course, there is also always the option of renting first before you take the plunge. "You could rent for the short term or get a six-month lease, which is enough time to get settled in your job or routine,” recommends Shike. “That can be nice for buyers who are a little more anxious about the process - to relieve that anxiety.”
Overall, buying a house from a distance shouldn't necessarily be looked at as a negative experience. In fact, Shike believes it can give many shoppers new opportunities, and buyers are often more excited when purchasing long distance.
"It can be a nice change of pace for people,” Shike adds. “Another benefit to moving long distance is a fresh start: a new neighborhood, new culture, new people, and new experiences everywhere.”
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- Questions to Help You Find the Right Buyer’s Agent
- Home Buyers Guide to New Construction
Originally published January 13, 2017.
The post How to Handle Long-Distance House Hunting Like a Champ appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.
Whether you're a professional real estate investor or a homeowner with dreams of renovating to update and improve your house, having a quality home renovation team you can trust is absolutely essential.
After all, even if you're planning on doing some stuff yourself, you're not going to be able to do it all on your own. And you don't want to end up paying top dollar for low-quality work.
So, how can you be sure that you find and hire the absolute best people for the job? If you follow a few simple steps, you can rest easy knowing that you've built a team that will take care of you and your home.
Do you have a plan?
Before you start Googling contractors, plumbers, and other renovation experts, you need to have a plan for your renovation. If you're a design wiz, you might be able to create this plan on your own, but there's nothing wrong with calling in a pro.
Getting an architect or interior designer involved in the process is a good idea, but you need to be very clear about what you want from them and how involved they'll be.
If you don't mind spending some extra money, you could have an architect design your entire remodeling project, hire all of your contractors, and oversee construction for you. Most of us don't have the cash to do that, though, so we make a few compromises.
At this point, put together information on everything that you know you want included in your renovation. Then meet with a few different designers and/or architects to get an idea of what they can do for you.
You can follow the same guidelines to choose a designer, contractor, painter, plumber, or any other member of your team.
Create a list of candidates
To start your search, ask friends and family members who they've worked with on their home renovations. If you have any friends or colleagues in the real estate business, be sure to ask them which renovation experts they recommend. If you don't get a lot of suggestions, go ahead and do a search online for the kind of work you want done.
Before you call anyone on the list, search for customer reviews of their services. Look at review sites to see what real customers have said about them; you want service providers with an overall positive review trend.
Don't worry if you see one or two disgruntled reviews, but if you see more than that, you might want to cross that candidate off your list.
Call your best candidates
Once you've narrowed your list using friends' recommendations and online reviews, it's time to get on the phone. Call each of your candidates and ask them a few questions about their work and experience.
At the very least, you want to make sure they're licensed and insured, how long they've been in business, and how much experience they have with the kinds of renovations you want. You should also ask for references and then follow up on them to make sure your candidates were being honest with you.
If a contractor, designer, or other renovation pro gives you a list of references and most of them don't check out, then they're either working with phone numbers so old that they don't belong to their customers anymore, or they're lying to you. Either way, move on.
Set up in-person interviews
After you talk with your candidates on the phone and follow up on their references, you should have a pretty good idea of which ones you would prefer to work with. Don't just hire someone based on a gut feeling, though. Set up in-person interviews so you can meet face to face and they can see the property and what it needs.
This step is important for a couple of reasons. First, you want to make sure you can actually work with the people you hire, and sometimes things just don't work out that way. Meeting in person gives you the chance to confirm that the two of you will be able to see eye to eye on the project and communicate well.
Second, when service providers see your house firsthand, they'll get a better idea of everything that will go into the project, and give you a more accurate estimate.
Carefully select your general contractor
I follow the tips above whenever I'm hiring anyone for a home renovation, but I pay especially close attention when hiring a general contractor or project manager because they're going to have more responsibilities and freedom to take care of the job.
I hire guys that I really like working with because I know that they'll hire quality subcontractors and take a load off of me while I continue to work on designing new renovations and finding new leads on flip houses.
And while you might not be flipping houses, I’m willing to bet that you have better things to do than figure out how to be your own general contractor and hire every single person who's going to work on your home.
If you start by hiring a couple of key people (like your architect and general contractor), you can save yourself a lot of time and energy later on because they'll take care of hiring subcontractors for you.
Be present, but don't micromanage
Once you've hired your team, you don't want to completely disappear from your home renovation project. Be present and make sure that your workers know how to get in touch with you when you're at work or can't be home.
Be available to give permission on purchases and design decisions, but don't loom over your workers. Micromanaging them will only slow things down and make everyone miserable.
Plus, since you followed these tips, you can be sure you hired a great team and won't have to watch over every little thing they do. So sit back, relax, and watch your home renovation dreams become a reality.
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Originally published July 11, 2016.
Like most aspects of owning or purchasing a house, measuring the square footage of a home is complicated. There’s no established standard for measuring a residential property, and everyone seems to measure square footage differently. But if you get it wrong, it can affect your home’s value.
There’s no need to be nervous about calculating your home’s square footage, however. Let's look at how easy it actually is to measure a home's square footage accurately.
Square footage of a house (GLA)
For most people, the gross floor area or gross living area (GLA) of a home is what they're thinking when they hear "square footage."
Here’s how to calculate your square footage:
Sketch a floor plan of the home's interior.
Draw each floor separately, and don't include unfinished areas, patios, porches and exterior staircases.
Break down the house into measurable rectangles.
The more rectangles the better. This takes the guesswork out of rooms or hallways that don't have perfectly flush walls.
Measure the length and width of each rectangle.
Round your measurements off to the nearest 0.5 linear foot.
Calculate the area of each section.
Multiply the rectangle's length by its width to get the area in square feet. Write this number down in the corresponding space on your sketch.
Add up the total area.
Sum up the square feet of each rectangle to measure the total square footage of the house. Round the total off to the nearest square foot.
What to leave in (and take out of) the square footage
But, of course, it's not that simple.
Garage space is not included in square footage, and many standards do not count basements (even if they're finished) in overall square footage. Either way, make sure to measure the basement's square footage for your records - you can still include it in any future property listings.
Conversely, finished attic space that’s fit for habitation and boasts at least seven feet of clearance should be included in your GLA. The same is true for any additional stories in the house.
For example, suppose you’re describing a two-story home with a 1,500-square-foot first floor, 1,000-square-foot second floor, and 800-square-foot finished attic. You could list it as 3,300 square feet with 1,000 square feet of unfinished basement and a 600-foot garage. But to describe it as a 4,900-square-foot house would mislead potential buyers about the size, and unfairly boost the property’s value.
Discrepancies in measurement
Because square footage is so vital in appraising a home, it's important to pay close attention to what is being measured.
Some sellers may include an unfinished basement in their square footage, giving you an inaccurate picture of the livable portion of the home.
And architects and appraisers often calculate square footage by using exterior walls, which may conflict with a property’s GLA figure.
Regardless of how you measure your square footage, be transparent when selling, and diligent when buying.
If you claim that your home is 2,000 square feet based on your builder's floor plans, and a buyer's appraiser brings back a figure of 1,600, you could lose the sale or need to lower your price.
Similarly, as a buyer, make sure to do your research and get an independent square footage to ensure you're getting what you pay for.
Find and claim your home on Zillow to see its recorded square footage and to make edits as needed.
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Originally published June 23, 2015.
A polished home exterior makes for an inviting experience for any visitor or passersby, which is especially important if your home is on the market.
All sellers should focus on exterior home improvements, says Tallahassee-based realtor Joe Manausa of Joe Manausa Real Estate. "Buyers are searching for homes online, and the exterior picture of your home will be the most likely culprit for somebody to reject your home," he notes.
Check out our tips to get the most curb appeal for the lowest cost - while turning your neighbors' heads and getting prospective buyers to your door.
Sometimes the most obvious way to enhance curb appeal is simply dedicating a weekend to deep cleaning the exterior of your home.
Sure, you'll want to trim bushes, sweep, and mow your lawn, but there's so much more to curb appeal than keeping a tidy front yard. Turn the nozzle on your garden hose to the strongest setting and clean off your driveway, sidewalk, windows, and fence.
If dirt and grime is really caked on your home's exterior, you can rent a power washer for around $50 to $75 a day - but steer clear of any area with caulking, like windows and doors, as you can strip some of the sealing. And as tempting as it may be to power wash your roof, you may want to hold off to avoid damaging the shingles’ coating.
Spraying off your windows with a garden hose isn't enough to make them spic and span, however. For maximum sparkle, clean your windows outside and inside. Instead of relying on a glass cleaner, try a mix of detergent diluted in warm water.
An easy way to accentuate the size of your windows is to add shutters. Not only does it make your windows look larger, but it adds visual interest by disrupting a bland exterior wall. Choose a color that contrasts with the color of your home to make it pop for maximum curb appeal.
Paint accent areas
Paint is a quick and easy curb appeal-booster. Instead of painting the entire exterior of your home, focus your attention on the trim, door, and shutters.
You can typically find a gallon of exterior paint for $20 to $30 a gallon. But before slapping on that paint, consider exterior color scheme trends, while keeping in mind your home's natural style.
Give your door a face lift
If you're not in love with your front door, you don't need to dish out loads of money to replace it. Think beyond paint and consider also adding molding, which offers a decorative frame for your door, welcoming visitors while serving as a grand entrance.
You can also glam up your door by adding metal house numbers, which you can find for as low as $5 a number. Manausa also suggests adding a wreath or seasonal decorations to your door as a bonus.
Replace your house numbers
If you'd rather not add house numbers to your freshly painted door, here are some alternative DIY ideas:
- Paint a terra-cotta planter with your house number and place it by your doorstep.
- Add house numbers to a post planter near your front porch.
- Make use of your front porch stair riser’s real estate by hanging or painting numbers there.
Update your light fixtures
Replacing your exterior light fixtures is another curb appeal must. You can usually find outdoor sconces for around $20 at home centers. Just make sure your new light fixtures have the same mounting system. And if you want to save on lighting, a fresh finish can do wonders. Try spray-painting them - a can of spray paint costs around $10.
Be deliberate about porch furniture
Manausa advises homeowners to limit their use of personal decor and furniture. Just as you would aim to simplify the interior of your home when your house is on the market, the exterior of your home should allow prospective buyers to envision their style in the space.
"Porch furniture and decor, if its appearance is attractive, should be used to give a potential buyer the possibilities of using the outdoor space – but it should be minimal,” says Manausa. “Outdoor pillows and cushions are an easy way to give color and life to furniture.”
So put your pink flamingo and wind chime collection into storage and focus on porch decor that offer pops of color and character. You can find brightly colored outdoor chairs for $20 to $30 each.
If our favorite tips to upping your home's curb appeal leave you wanting more, be sure to attempt these bonus ideas for the ultimate curb appeal style on the block:
- Upgrade your mailbox. Install a new mailbox for under $100, or spray paint your existing mailbox.
- Plant a tree. Make sure you know how large the tree will grow first, but planting a tree adds to your curb appeal for as low as $20.
- Build a tree bench. Already have a tree you love in your front yard? Build a wraparound tree bench. Great for napping, picnicking, or just hiding exposed roots, a tree bench will just cost what you spend on boards and screws.
- Install flower boxes. For around $20 each, flower boxes are a quick way to add some life and color to your house windows. If you don't want to worry about installing flower boxes, try out a container garden in pots by your front porch.
- Hide eyesores. Place a small lattice fence or side of paneling around your air conditioner to avoid an appliance eyesore, and hide your trash bins behind a small fence or by building a garbage can shed. You can also hide your hose in a pot or storage bench.
Top image from Zillow listing.
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Sometimes you just have to go for it.
A few years ago, Dabney Tompkins and Alan Colley moved from a condo in Portland to 388 square feet in rural Oregon. Their house, a 40-foot-high fire lookout, doesn’t have a street address or a bathroom. And the nearest neighbor is three miles away.
“We still have that sense of ‘are we really doing this?'” Colley admits.
When the couple decided to go off grid, they didn’t know a thing about solar power. But through trial and error - and lots of Googling - they figured out how to pump running water into their kitchen, power LED lights and have Internet using only 80 watts of electricity.
As for the bathroom, they “visit the bear” (aka an outhouse in the woods) or use one of three alternative options designed for emergencies - or a few laughs.
Through it all, Tompkins and Colley have tried to keep things in perspective.
“Every time I think could I really do that - could I really live in a place where all you had was an outhouse - and I would step back and say well of course you can. People have been doing that for centuries,” Tompkins says.
And living off grid isn’t what it used to be. With a cell tower across the valley, Tompkins and Colley have cellphone service. They also have propane, which they use to power their lights on cloudy days.
“It’s not near as primitive as it may sound,” Tompkins says. He and Colley are cooking better meals than they did in Portland, and while they don’t watch TV, their social life is busier than ever.
If you’re considering life off the grid, you may be pleasantly surprised.
“Be fearless about your stupidity,” Colley says. “Ignorance is not a game-stopper.”
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If the very mention of the word yurt conjures up images of desert-worn tents in rural parts of central Asia, rest assured: Modern yurts draw their inspiration from these versatile living spaces - and make them even better.
Contemporary yurts are popping up everywhere - from small-town Arkansas to Zion National Park - as open, airy homes, backcountry destinations or even weekend glamping getaways.
Below are some of our favorites.
Sleep under a swath of stars in this brightly colored Marfa, TX, yurt. Located about three hours southeast of El Paso, the yurt sits on a 21-acre artists’ retreat with a hammock grove, bike rental and wood-fired hot tubs. Bringing friends? The yurt is perched alongside Sioux-style tepees, safari tents and renovated vintage trailers.
This home is currently available as a short-term rental.
Just beyond the terra-cotta backdrop of Zion National Park, this Utah yurt is off-grid and on point. Cell service and technology are nonexistent, making for the perfect environment to enjoy this bucolic setting. An outdoor fire pit serves as a spot to warm up underneath the night sky, and the yurt’s interior can sleep up to 11 people tuckered out from exploring Utah’s natural bliss.
This home is currently available for short-term stays.
About 30 minutes outside of artsy Austin, TX, sit five yurts for the glamping fan in all of us. Each space is artfully decorated, from the Southwestern decor to the hand-picked vintage furniture. The rustic surroundings provide the perfect escape from the hubbub of big city life: There’s a classic writer’s desk inside each yurt, relaxing hammocks outside and walking trails nearby.
These homes are currently available as short-term rentals.
Buy the house and get the wine-tasting yurt, too? Now that’s something to toast! This unique yurt in Roland, AR, serves as a spot to sip pinot gris or sample riesling as you gaze out onto a vineyard. The yurt comes with a ready-to-go wine-making permit, plus a classic log cabin and an infinity pool overlooking mountains and a lake.
This home is on the market for $2.5 million.
If the mountains are calling and so you must go, this might be the yurt for you. Nestled in the wilderness about 30 minutes from Denver, this home serves as a Rocky Mountain retreat for explorers of all ages. Enjoy stunning stargazing at night, fresh powder all winter long and 360-degree views from the wraparound deck.
This home is currently available as a short-term rental.
Los Angeles, CA
This urban yurt proves the circular structures aren’t just for outdoor explorers. Smack dab in cosmopolitan Los Angeles, this yurt sits under a canopy of orange, lemon and avocado trees, just a few miles from the famous Hollywood sign. The space boasts hardwood floors, modern amenities and a fire pit (for the few weeks each year that LA braves chilly weather).
This home is currently available as a short-term rental.
About two hours outside of Cheyenne, WY, sits this 700-square-foot mountain yurt. An overnight stay in this luxury space comes with custom gourmet meals, along with an expert guide to lead you to your digs via horseback. There are luxe glamping amenities on the inside (leather couches and a giant bed) and all that rural Wyoming has to offer on the outside (trout fishing, wildlife viewing and even yoga au naturel).
This home is currently available as a short-term rental.
The vivid colors of this California home match the hues of the sunsets you’ll see from it. The main house is a yurt-style circular home with three levels, including one with a fireplace and a conversation pit. There’s a dining space with warm, red-paneled walls and plenty of skylights to let that west coast sun shine in.
This home is currently for sale for $469,000.
Coastal California looks even better from a rustic yurt set on 160 sprawling acres. This particular space has four yurts, each with a bohemian vibe and a cozy fireplace. There are hiking trails and yoga opportunities on your doorstep, and wine country is just a short drive away.
These homes are available as short-term rentals.
Explore all 157 acres that come with this 30-foot yurt in northern Vermont. This home features a large skylight and a wraparound deck with views of the surrounding hillsides. Bonus: A nearby meadow contains apple trees - perfect for when the maple syrup runs out, and you’re looking for something else to satisfy your sweet tooth.
This home is pending sale, listed at $249,900.
Top featured image by Sean Mathis.
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The post 10 Yurts That Will Have You Dreaming of Your Next Adventure appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.
These projects are as beautiful as they are budget-friendly, and best of all, you can easily make them in one afternoon. Ready to learn the ropes?
Macrame rope curtain
Modern, yet rustic. Warm, yet airy. And perfect for the doorway of your choosing.
- Tension rod
- Masking tape
- 400 feet of 1/4-inch diamond braided nylon rope
- Pick a doorway for your curtain and install the tension rod.
- Cut 18 strands of rope. Each one should be 17 feet long.
- Drape two strands of rope over the rod and line up the ends so you have four even strands.
- Secure the rope to the rod with a "four-in-hand" knot. To create this knot, hold two strands of rope in each hand. Then, cross one side over the other. Next, wrap the top strands around the bottom strands. Cross and wrap those same strands one more time, then pull them up and through the loop before tightening.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 with the remaining strands.
- Now the real macrame fun starts! Tie a square knot three inches below the base of the top knot. Grab the first section of hanging rope. There should be four strands to work with (one on the left, one on the right and two anchor strands in the middle). Position the strand on the left so it's under the two anchor strands in the middle, but over the strand on the right. Then, pull the right strand over the two anchor strands in the middle and through the loop on the left. Complete your square knot by reversing the steps on the other side. Move the strand on the right under the two anchor strands and over the strand on the left. Pull the left strand over the two anchor strands and through the loop on the right. Tighten it slightly.
- Repeat step 6 on each hanging section of rope. After completing this step, every hanging section of rope should have a macrame square knot.
- Now you'll begin to create more rows of macrame knots by braiding rope in the adjacent rows. Start three inches down from the first row of macrame knots and work left to right. Skip over the first two strands on the left, and create a square macrame knot with the last two strands on the right side of the first section and the first two strands on the left side of the second section.
- Repeat step 8 to work your way across the sections of hanging rope, creating a second row of square knots.
- Repeat step 6 to create the third row.
- Repeat step 8 to create the fourth row.
- Repeat step 6 to create the fifth row.
- To make sure the ropes don't fray, wrap masking tape at the bottom. Cut through the tape to make the ropes even.
- Admire your handiwork!
It's just like that basket you fell in love with in that cute boutique. Only better, because you made it yourself.
- Glue sticks
- Cotton piping
- Hot glue gun
- Bucket for the mold
- Flip the bucket upside down. Then, apply a thin layer of glue to a 3-inch section of the piping and begin to wind more piping around it. Use the bottom of the bucket as a guide. Coil and glue the rope every few inches, until the base of your basket is a little bigger than the bottom of the bucket. (Note: Make sure you're gluing the piping to other sections of piping, not to the bucket!)
- Turn the bucket over. Continue to wrap and glue the piping until the basket is two rows short of the top of the bucket.
- Cut the rope and glue down the ends for handles.
- Remove the bucket carefully. If it sticks to the piping, try sliding something thin and sturdy, such as a butter knife, inside to separate the rope basket from the bucket.
- Fill your basket (and brag about how you made it yourself)!
Hanging rope planter
Low on space but big on greenery? This project is a game-changer.
- 3/8-inch drill bit
- 4-inch circular protractor
- Tape measure or ruler
- Masking tape
- 4 plants
- Plant wire
- Extra-strong glue, such as Super Glue
- 4 boards, each measuring 7 1/4 inches by 7 1/4 inches by 3/4 inches
- 4 coffee filters
- 4-inch metal ring
- Fine grit sandpaper
- 4 terra-cotta pots, each 4 inches in diameter
- 1 terra-cotta saucer
- 4 strands of 3/8-inch jute or manilla rope, each 8 feet long
- Mark the center point on three pieces of wood. From that point, use the protractor to draw a circle.
- Mark the corners on all four pieces of wood to create a drilling point that's 3/4 inch from each edge. Drill a hole in each corner and one in the center point.
- Using the jigsaw, cut a path from the center hole to the edge of the circle. Follow the curve of the circle to carve it out. Repeat on two other boards.
- Sand the boards to remove any splinters.
- Wrap tape around the ends of the rope to keep it from fraying.
- Knot the bottom of each rope.
- Thread the ropes through the corner holes of the plank of wood that doesn’t have a center hole. This will be the bottom board.
- Now it's time to make a second knot in the rope. Measure 12 inches from the plank of wood and tie a knot. Repeat this step for the other three pieces of rope.
- Thread the ropes through the drilled holes in another board and slide the wood down until it rests on the knots.
- Repeat steps 8 and 9 with the remaining pieces of wood.
- Gather the four loose strands of rope at the top, push them through the metal ring and fold them over. Wrap plant wire around the ring to hold the rope together.
- Glue a saucer to the bottom plank of wood. This will catch any falling water droplets. Now, hang your planter!
- Pot your plants and pour them a nice cold drink. And maybe have one yourself, too.
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You updated the plumbing, refinished the flooring, painted the walls. In short, your home renovation is finally finished, and you’re ready to put your flipped house on the market.
But before you do, follow these five home staging tricks that top house flippers use - if you do, you'll likely see a quick full-offer sale coming your way!
Offer great curb appeal
Pulling up to their potential new home should be a joyful experience for buyers. Give them the great first impression they’re hoping for with curb appeal that conveys a genuinely warm welcome.
Stylish house numbers, updated porch lighting, a classy door color, charming outdoor seating, flowers in bloom, and a welcome mat seem like unimportant details, but they make all the difference.
When a house looks cared for on the outside, it lets buyers know the inside has been maintained, too.
Once potential buyers step inside, give them a personal, emotional connection to the house. Remember to address all five senses:
- Sight. Use flattering lighting throughout the house to brighten dark corners and create playful shadows. This includes canned lighting, floor and table lamps, hanging pendants, and under-counter spot lights.
- Smell. Create a very subtle, pleasant scent throughout the house by lighting scented candles or plugging in an aromatherapy diffuser. Citrus, vanilla, and lavender are perfect choices. Make sure the smell is subtle, not overbearing.
- Touch. Incorporate texture through textiles that entice touching, which promotes a personal connection to a space.
- Sound. Turn on quiet music, hang wind chimes, or install a water feature to relax anyone touring the house.
- Taste. It never hurts to have some cookies or a candy bowl ready! Also be sure to offer chilled bottled water.
By appeasing the five senses, you’re sure to help potential buyers connect to the house.
Embrace floor space
If there’s one thing every buyer is looking for, it's square footage. Play up every inch of it for them!
To make the house feel spacious, put breathing room around monochromatic furniture, and hang mirrors to reflect windows and room openings. Hang drapes high (or don't use them at all), place large artwork on the walls, and lay down oversized area rugs.
Choose furniture raised up on legs to create a sense of lightness, and use decorative knickknacks sparingly to increase surface space. Create a distant focal point, such as a plant at the top of the stairs or a beautiful pendant light at the end of a hallway.
Emphasize architectural details
Even if your house flip includes some quirky architectural details, it's best to show them off rather than try to hide them. After all, a house's personality is part of its charm.
For example, if there’s seemingly wasted space underneath a staircase, turn it into a reading nook. If there’s a giant fireplace, dress up the mantle and arrange furniture around it. Built-ins have a special place in everyone's heart, so if your house has them, definitely show them off!
Play up a lifestyle
Remember, you're not just selling a house, you're selling a lifestyle. This means you shouldn't forget to dress up the outside areas, such as the patio and backyard. If you want your buyers to feel at home, set up an outdoor dining scene, arrange lounge chairs around the pool, or hang a rope swing.
By showing buyers the kind of life they could be enjoying, you’re showing them it’s worth paying to get it.
Check out Success Path for more tips on real estate and renovation.
Top photo from Zillow listing.
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Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.
Your bags are packed, you’re ready to move and the last thing you want to do is follow your agent’s advice about putting time and money into your listing photos. But if you don’t, your photos could prevent the home from selling quickly.
Consider these nine do’s and don’ts to help your listing attract the attention it deserves.
1. Do: Take a shot from the curb.
Keep your home’s curb appeal top of mind. Buyers often decide in a matter of minutes (or seconds) whether they want to keep looking or move on to another listing.
Make sure you get the whole house in the shot, and don’t let cars or other objects block your line of sight.
Don’t: Create a landslide.
When taking a shot from the curb, be mindful of your camera’s angle. The roofline should be parallel with the photo’s frame to make it look level - not like there’s a landslide on the property.
2. Do: Welcome visitors.
An attractive front door and entryway go a long way in setting the tone for the rest of your home. Leaving the door open in one of your photos can also send a welcoming message.
Don’t: Threaten visitors.
Remove any threatening signs or barriers on the property before taking photos. The goal is to create a feeling of warmth with your listing photos - not scare onlookers away.
3. Do: Consider a bird’s-eye view.
Taking a photo from above is a great way to show off a large property or a waterfront location. Crop the photo close enough so the home is visible without having to draw an arrow or a box around it.
Don’t: Consider a fisheye lens.
Some folks use a fisheye lens to make smaller spaces appear larger. However, it often has the opposite effect, making the space feel smaller and distorted.
As a general rule of thumb, stick with a traditional lens for listing photos, and make small spaces appear bigger with design tricks.
4. Do: Capture your home’s selling points.
You may think it’s best to skip the bathroom when taking listing photos, but if yours was recently updated, show it off! Bathrooms are among the first spaces to be upgraded in newly owned homes, and research shows that blue bathrooms sell for more than expected.
Don’t: Capture yourself in the mirror.
While a vanity can be a selling point, you want buyers to picture themselves in the mirror - not you. Stay out of your listing photos by avoiding angles where you or your camera’s flash may be reflected.
5. Do: Stage each room.
The goal is to put your home’s best foot forward. That means staging each room to sell shoppers on the lifestyle your home offers. Create cozy vignettes in each photo so it’s easier for shoppers to envision themselves living there.
Don’t: Stage a mess.
If there’s one absolute “don’t” for listing photos, it’s capturing a mess. Tidy up each room before taking any photos so your home looks its best.
6. Do: Play up the season.
Even if your home has been on the market for a while, it will feel up-to-date if the photos reflect the season. If it’s summer, take a sunny photo of the backyard. If it’s winter, create a cozy feel with a fire and a warm blanket.
Don’t: Play up your holiday decor.
Over-the-top holiday decor can be a turnoff, especially if buyers don’t celebrate that holiday. Instead, consider ways to decorate for the season as a whole and take photos of rooms without themed decor.
7. Do: Show off the view.
If the view is one of your home’s selling points, you’ll definitely want to show it off. It’s best if you can capture it with a part of the house in the shot, like the deck or porch. That way, buyers can picture themselves there.
Don’t: Show off your pets.
Focus on the parts of your home that will be there when a buyer moves in. Unfortunately, your pets don’t fall into that category, as cute as they are!
8. Do: Show off architectural details.
Archways, beams and other architectural quirks may be hard to photograph, but they give your home character. Try to capture a few of the architectural details if you can.
Don’t: Show off architectural blunders.
Every home has its blemishes, but that doesn’t mean you have to capture them all in the photos. The listing is the time to put your best foot forward - the open house and inspection are when the buyer can take note of the imperfections.
You may also want to consider making a few small improvements, like updating the bathroom, before listing your home.
9. Do: Take a night shot with the lights on.
While it’s easy to assume daytime shots are ideal, a nighttime exterior shot can create the right amount of contrast to make your photos stand out. The key is to leave your home’s interior and exterior lights on while you take the photo.
Don’t: Capture a dark room.
When it comes to interior photos, you want all the light you can get. Use lamps and daytime window light to make your photos as bright as possible while still looking natural.
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Located 45 minutes outside of Chattanooga, TN, in Monteagle, a historic cottage was renovated with organic materials that echo its picturesque mountaintop setting.
Situated on the brow of the mountain, the 1,800-square-foot, 2-bedroom cottage is straight out of a fairy tale - a cozy stone structure you might happen upon when meandering through an enchanted forest.
Renovated last in the 1970s, the home was ready for another facelift. "The main design concept was to take advantage of the bluff, use the materials of the area - stone and cedar shakes - and make the home blend into the forest," says Heidi Hefferlin, principal and lead architect at Hefferlin + Kronenberg Architects.
The mountaintop cottage is located in an area settled by the Monteagle Sunday School Assembly (MSSA), an organization that hosted eight-week summer retreats with spiritual, educational and cultural activities from the late 1800s through the Depression era.
Throughout the grounds, you'll find cozy one- and two-story cottages that are now listed on the historic register. This cottage, which originally belonged to MSSA's physician, is located on a mountain bluff secluded from the other cottages on the grounds.
On the exterior, an ornate bracket was installed by the entryway, along with copper gutters. To help the house blend into its natural setting, stone was added around the base to complement the wood siding. A new cedar-shake roof was installed, and a fireplace cap adds architectural interest.
Throughout the interior, rustic gray-toned wood paneling was installed by Revival Studio. The Chattanooga-based interior design company also furnished the home through its sister business, Revival Home.
Off the entryway, the original dining room was transformed into a living area. Hefferlin had custom tresses created and installed, and new windows extend upward into the pitched roofline of the dormers.
The dining room, which was originally off the entryway, was moved to the back of the house overlooking the bluff. On the window-lined back wall of the house, french doors with arches were replaced with more contemporary windows and doors.
The master suite, which is raised 2 1/2 feet on another level, overlooks the bluff as well. "You can lie in bed and look out over the brow," says Hefferlin. The suite's reclaimed wooden doors were given a barn door treatment, and art was installed on the panels by Revival Home.
In the kitchen, custom wood cabinets are accented with iron pulls and topped with a stone countertop. An oven hood is wrapped with reclaimed wood, and windows open up to a concrete bar on the screened porch.
Off the kitchen, a small 8-by-8-foot butler's pantry with a bar and refrigerator was created with storage and food prep in mind.
The addition of a screened porch allows the homeowners to embrace the cottage's beautiful surroundings. And the porch's organic materials, such as stone floors and wooden beams, connect the space with the natural setting.
A stately stone fireplace provides warmth on chilly days, and a custom black-steel shelving unit was created to hold firewood and a television.
Photos by Sarah Dorio.
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The post This Enchanting Mountaintop Cottage Embodies Coziness appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.
Buyers making a cash offer on a house are active in many markets, and they can strike fear in new buyers who are bidding on a home. Cash home buyers can perform and close quickly and provide sellers with a sense of comfort.
But does this mean a solid buyer putting down 20 percent or more shouldn't attempt to compete with cash home buyers? Absolutely not.
What if you can’t make a cash offer on a house?
The truth is, a buyer getting a mortgage can still compete against cash home buyers and win.
These are the questions that can make the difference:
- Do you have a 20-percent down payment?
- Are you well employed?
- Do you have cash reserves in addition to your down payment?
- Do you have very little debt?
- Do you have good credit?
If you answered yes to most or all of these questions, your purchase should be as bulletproof as a cash home buyer’s.
How can you compete against cash home buyers?
- Be up front about your finances. Make your competitive offer as strong as cash by providing the seller the confidence they need to accept your offer. In addition to a pre-approval letter from your lender, be open to allowing your agent or lender to provide financial information with your offer. Tell them what you make, and how much money you have in the bank. Show bank statements and even a copy of your credit report. Overload the seller to show them that you're as solid as the cash buyer.
- Ask your lender to get a head start on the mortgage. See if your mortgage professional can move the process along sooner. Send the lender a copy of the preliminary title report, if available. If you're buying a condo, find out if a condo questionnaire is available and give it to your lender. If you take any of these steps, let the seller know. Of course, if you have not already, provide the necessary financial documentation to your lender right away.
- Shorten the loan and appraisal contingencies. Ask your lender how quickly they can send an appraiser to the property, and how long the loan would take to turn around. In some parts of the country, loans are being approved in less than 14 days - sometimes even 10.
- Pre-order an appraisal. This may not be as easy with a bigger bank. But smaller banks, direct lenders or mortgage brokers can line up the appraisal in advance. At the time your offer is written, tell the seller the appraisal has already been ordered. If you can get the appraiser out within 24-48 hours of coming to terms with the seller, it’s half the battle.
- Inspect quickly. Along with the quick appraisal and loan contingencies, get your inspector in and out. Shelling out a few hundred dollars and getting the inspections done within days of having your offer accepted shows the seller you mean business. It also gives them comfort that they'll get over the biggest hurdle quickly.
- Overpay. Cash buyers nearly always expect a discount from the seller simply because they're offering cash and are a sure thing. As a result, the cash buyer will often make a lower offer. To increase your chances, top the cash offer, even if means paying a little more than you think the home is worth. If a seller is faced with a few thousand dollars’ difference, the seller probably wouldn't risk it. But what if your offer is five percent higher than the cash buyer's? The seller, perhaps wanting the best of both worlds, may ask the cash buyer to raise his or her offer. Some cash buyers will offer more, but not always enough to match. If you plan to live in the house for many years and it's the home of your dreams, paying a little more to get the deal might only translate into $20 per month over the course of a long-term mortgage.
- Make yourself known to the seller. Some buyers write "love letters" to sellers, hoping to appeal to their personal side. Does this work? Sometimes! If you're competing with a cash buyer, particularly an investor who plans to rent the home out, it can't hurt to get a little personal with your real estate offer letter. The seller almost always wants to know more about the potential buyer. Ask your agent to write a cover letter and an introduction. Let the seller know who you are, why you like the home and what your intentions are.
Do the best you can and be realistic. Make sure your financial "'house" is in order. Work with a good local real estate agent, and start working with a local mortgage professional well in advance. Structure your offer to show that you're ready to roll.
For more home-buying tips, check out our Home Buyers Guide.
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The post How to Make a Competitive Offer Against All-Cash Home Buyers appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.
Do you have a bit of a fixer-upper on your hands? Or maybe you're just ready for a major change? Remodeling your home can be a lot of work, but the results, when done well, are well worth it.
Before you get too excited and start tearing down walls and ripping up the floors, read through this guide to keep yourself on track.
Check the space allocation
Having enough space, especially in bathrooms and kitchens, can make or break a home. You can install gorgeous flooring, countertops and fixtures, but if your knees touch the wall or the bathtub when you're sitting on the toilet, the amenities won't make up for it. And if you forget to take large kitchen appliances into consideration, you can end up with a cramped space that only looked great on paper.
Before you gut the house and start moving walls, take the time to triple check your measurements.
Draw out your space with accurate measurements of desired appliances included before you change a wall or buy a tub. Make sure there is enough room for doors to open and close with ease. Ideally, you should be able to open your cabinet door and your oven door at the same time.
Remember - it's easier and less expensive to make changes before you buy new appliances or knock down a wall.
Inspect the structure and foundation
Before you start gutting a home, look for problems that may be hidden beneath the surface. You don't want to spend a lot of money on new flooring, for example, only to have to rip it out to deal with structure or foundation problems.
Put simply, fixing structural problems is hard, expensive, and requires knowledge and experience that the average new flipper or homeowner doesn't have. Attempting to minimize costs via DIY efforts can lead to mistakes that make the process even more expensive and difficult.
This step is particularly important if your home (whether it's a new-to-you fixer-upper or a house you've owned for years) has recently gone through heavy rain or flooding, natural disasters, or pest problems.
Shop around for professionals
Don't wait until you need a professional ASAP before shopping around - you'll quickly find yourself at the mercy of whoever is available with marginally good reviews. Before you start your remodel, do your due diligence and find professionals who fit your budget and project needs. You'll thank yourself in the long run.
It's a good idea to find an electrician and plumber before you start your project. While you can probably learn how to handle small projects like installing an outlet, you'll need help before your remodel is through. Unless you have a lot of experience, you shouldn't tackle extensive electrical or plumbing fixes on your own.
A trusted home inspector is also a must-have. Here's a tip: Find an inspector who is used to houses similar to yours in age, design and location. They'll be familiar with common problems others may miss.
And don't just read the report at the end. If possible, walk through the home with the inspector. You'll learn more and have the opportunity to ask questions as they come up.
Know what sells houses in your area
If you're remodeling your house in order to sell it, invest in changes that will help sell the house and increase the sale price. Don't waste your money on updates that don't give you a good return on your investment.
Do your research. Talk to real estate agents in the area or tour houses in your neighborhood that are for sale. Do buyers looking in the area prioritize large windows or large bathrooms? Do they buy based on roof condition or flooring? Once you identify the factors that help houses in the area sell, build your budget accordingly.
This doesn't mean you can cut corners. Unless a buyer is looking to flip a home, they'll expect the whole house to be up to a certain standard. However, if you have to pick between hardwood floors and top-of-the-line kitchen equipment, it's good to know which one will be more likely to lead to a profitable sale.
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Selling a home not only takes time, but also costs money. To help with budgeting, Zillow and Thumbtack identified several common - but often overlooked - seller expenses.
From closing costs to home prep projects like carpet cleaning, U.S. homeowners can expect to spend more than $15,000 on these extra or hidden costs to sell the median home, according to Zillow and Thumbtack's Hidden Costs of Selling Analysis.
The two largest closing costs are agent commissions and, in most states, sales or transfer taxes.
Nationally, sellers spend $12,532 for both closing costs on the median home. Sellers should also prepare for a variety of other smaller closing costs, including title insurance and escrow fees.
Home prep costs
Most sellers will complete at least one home improvement project before listing.
While some sellers prefer to complete these projects themselves, those who outsource can expect to spend more than $2,650 nationally to cover staging, carpet cleaning, interior painting, lawn care and house cleaning - five of the most popular seller home prep projects.
Location, location, location
As with all things real estate, these extra costs can vary significantly by region.
In San Francisco, homeowners can pay more than $55,000 on the median home to cover these combined closing costs and maintenance expenses - the highest among the markets analyzed.
Compare that to Cleveland, OH where home sellers pay just over $10,000 for the same costs.
Even though selling a home costs money, most (73 percent) of sellers are still satisfied with the transaction, according to the Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends.
To estimate potential profit, sellers who have claimed their home on Zillow can use Zillow's Sale Proceeds Calculator. It factors in the home's sale price, mortgage balance and agent commissions, along with other common seller fees.
Curious how your metro stacks up for sellers? Here’s a breakdown of the metros analyzed in the report:
Looking for more information about selling your home? Check out our Sellers Guide.
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The post U.S. Homeowners Spend $15,000 in Hidden Costs to Sell a House appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.
If you've never heard of millennial pink, don't worry - you aren't that out of the loop. Though the term was coined recently, it's been popping up for years, and Pantone's selection of Rose Quartz as one of its 2016 colors of the year was just a preview of the pink craze to come (yes, there’s a hashtag). Stars from Rihanna to Harry Styles have embraced light pink hues, though it’s more about the vibe than a distinct color, and its popularity goes beyond the 20-something crowd.
Millennial pink has put rosy-colored homes on the map as well. While painting a house pink is nothing new - several historic, stucco and adobe homes sport the hue - it’s certainly on trend.
Check out these six homes for some millennial pink inspiration, and see what all the fuss is about.
Key West, FL
Tropical color schemes are a trademark of Key West design and architecture, as embodied by this delightful revival-style duplex. Bright blue shutters pop against a pale pink exterior with white trim, while the interior bursts with cheerful, vibrant blues, yellows, greens, and – of course – more pink.
Find homes for sale in Key West.
A former mayor’s home, this restored Victorian is millennial pink inside and out. With a whimsical two-tone pink façade and a few light pink rooms in the interior, the bright paint choice is architecturally on point. "We often see a color similar on Victorian homes throughout Vermont," explains listing agent David Parsons, "and I believe it has a historical precedence." Because of an increase in the number of pigments available and a reduction in the cost of paint, brightly colored homes became de rigueur in Victorian New England.
Find homes for sale in Montpelier.
This historic home full of Southern charm proves that millennial pink is nothing new. Built around 1815, the current owners bought the pink house in 2004 and simply repainted it the same color since it worked so well. “There are many pink houses in Charleston, including one on Rainbow Row which is a block away,” explains Adam Edwards, who listed the home for sale last year. “Pink is a longtime popular color because it helps keep the interiors cooler in the hot summer months.” Black shutters and white trim give the house an elegant, refined look.
Find homes for sale in Charleston.
For a prime example of a bold millennial pink, check out this 4-bedroom, 3,080-square-foot gem close to all the action in Seattle. The exterior is painted a solid shade of warm, earthy pink called “New Pilgrim Red” and is complemented with off-white woodwork in “Navajo White.” “We had seen that on another Colonial Revival house years ago when we were just about to repaint,” former owners Clint and Elizabeth Miller recall. “It looked dramatic to us and suggested a New England sort of look.”
Find homes for sale in Seattle.
Stucco exteriors are common in the Southwest because they’re durable and – most importantly, for a desert climate – energy efficient. This pink-hued home shows that stucco doesn't have to be drab. Here, the pink provides a dose of personality while maintaining a neutral, earthy vibe that meshes with the landscape.
Find homes for sale in Albuquerque.
New Orleans, LA
New Orleans is no stranger to colorful homes. In fact, this cute, single-story house is subdued in comparison to many in the Big Easy. But that's part of its appeal - and of the appeal of millennial pink in general. It manages to straddle the divide between playful and refined, youthful and classic.
Find homes for sale in New Orleans.
Originally published July 19, 2017.
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The post 6 Millennial Pink Homes Proving This Color Is Here to Stay appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.
Tax assessed value
This figure varies throughout the U.S. since it is determined by the taxing authority of the city, county, or state where you live. Sometimes it is the same as the market assessed value and other times counties will multiply the market value by an assessment ratio to get the tax assessed value, which is often lower than the market assessed value.
For example, suppose where you live, homes are assessed at 100 percent of market value. If you have a home that has a market value of $150,000, your home will be assessed at $150,000. However, if your taxing authority assesses homes at 70 percent of value, your $150,000 market value home will have a tax assessed value of $105,000.
Tax appraised value
This is the value of real or personal property based on the valuation established by a government tax assessor.
Market assessed value
This is the price the government tax assessor estimates the property would sell for on the open market as of the effective date for the assessed value for the year in question. The assessor’s market assessed value is based on actual historical sales of similar properties for a specified study period.
For example, a market assessed value with an effective date of January 1 may have been determined considering comparable sales during the previous 12 months ending September 30 of the previous year. Sales study periods vary by assessment jurisdiction. Because historical sales are used, assessed values are typically less than current market values.
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The post What is Tax Assessed Value, Tax Appraised Value, and Market Assessed Value? appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.
It's not every day that you find a silo you can sleep in.
Not that Victoria Crawford was even looking for a silo - let alone a house in snow country. The New York City resident and avid skier was casually home shopping during a weekend getaway to Stowe, VT, when a house across the way caught her eye.
It was farm-inspired on the outside, luxurious on the inside and … perfect.
"We were across the street in the neighbor's house that was for sale at the time. I saw this [house], and I said, 'That's it. That's the one,'" Crawford recalled. "I put one foot in, and I knew that was the house. It's kind of special."
Crawford fell for the quintessential Vermont-style design, and even though the 5-bedroom home was built in 2007, it had decidedly modern features. The floors were made of sustainably sourced bamboo; the windows were high-efficiency; a water-filtration system was fully automated.
The less-than-20-minute commute to the chairlifts was a bonus. A waterfall in the backyard didn't hurt, either.
"When I went inside this house, something happened. It's magic,” Crawford said. “It's difficult to explain. As soon as you get inside the house, you feel so comfy.”
But the unique aspect of this house, she added, is a silo that guests can sleep in.
Modeled after a traditional grain-storage cylinder, the space serves as a separate mother-in-law suite. A spiral staircase leads to a bedroom with rounded walls and a bathroom with a free-standing soaking tub. The suite also has a kitchen, a living room and a dining room, along with a private entrance.
The silo has become a bit of a destination for Crawford's friends from around the world.
"We have a lot of guests who come from all around - Europe, Canada, the United States. When I have people visiting, they want to have their privacy," Crawford said. "The space is so unique and neat."
In the main house, a glass-filled great room is a family favorite. Because it faces southwest, it swells with light throughout the day, Crawford said, giving the illusion that you're almost outside. In the winter, the space is especially illuminated by the sun reflecting off the snow.
In fact, she and her husband love the room so much that she often falls asleep there. They also enjoy breakfast on the porch in all seasons, with sounds of the waterfall in the distance.
The nearby kitchen is large and open, with subway-tile backsplashes and an island built for entertaining guests.
The backyard includes a fire pit and what Crawford described as a "mini forest" with 250 types of trees and shrubs. There's access to 40 acres of shared land, which can be used for cross-country skiing straight from the yard or hiking and biking in summer.
The family often enjoys a beach near the waterfall or floats the adjacent Little River in warm weather. The nearby green space is protected state land, which keeps it quiet and natural, Crawford said.
The duo was reluctant to put the house on the market but felt it best to sell, considering they aren't spending as much time outside of Manhattan as they used to. It is listed at $1.495 million.
"The beauty of that property - that location - it's called a golden town. It's a town for the four seasons, whether you want to bike, hike or ski,” Crawford said. "Honestly, I don't want to sell it, because I'm so attached, and I know I won't find something like this again. But on the other hand, I don't have the time to go there."
Top featured image by Grant Wieler.
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The post This Vermont Ski Home Has a Silo You Can Sleep In – House of the Week appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.
Most people only know of one type of real estate ownership: fee simple, also known as freehold. But a handful of states have another form of ownership, known as leasehold.
The difference in these two types of land tenure is very different and affects the value of the real estate. It is important to know the difference, especially if you’re buying real estate in a leasehold state (i.e., Hawaii, New York, Florida).
What is the difference between leasehold and fee simple?
- Fee simple ownership. Fee simple ownership is probably the form of ownership most residential real estate buyers are familiar with. Depending on where you are from, you may not know of any other way to own real estate. Fee simple is sometimes called fee simple absolute because it is the most complete form of ownership. A fee simple buyer is given title (ownership) of the property, which includes the land and any improvements to the land in perpetuity. Aside from a few exceptions, no one can legally take that real estate from an owner with fee simple title. The fee simple owner has the right to possess, use the land and dispose of the land as he wishes - sell it, give it away, trade it for other things, lease it to others, or pass it to others upon death.
- Leasehold ownership. A leasehold interest is created when a fee simple land-owner (Lessor) enters into an agreement or contract called a ground lease with a person or entity (Lessee). A Lessee gives compensation to the Lessor for the rights of use and enjoyment of the land much as one buys fee simple rights; however, the leasehold interest differs from the fee simple interest in several important respects. First, the buyer of leasehold real estate does not own the land; they only have a right to use the land for a pre-determined amount of time. Second, if leasehold real estate is transferred to a new owner, use of the land is limited to the remaining years covered by the original lease. At the end of the pre-determined period, the land reverts back to the Lessor, and is called reversion. Depending on the provisions of any surrender clause in the lease, the buildings and other improvements on the land may also revert to the lessor. Finally, the use, maintenance, and alteration of the leased premises are subject to any restrictions contained in the lease.
Important leasehold terms to know:
- Lease Term – The length of the lease period (usually 55 years or more)
- Lease Rent – The amount of rent paid to the Lessor for use of the land
- Fixed Period – The period in which the lease rent amount is fixed
- Renegotiation Date – Date after the fixed period that the lease rent is renegotiated
- Expiration Date – The date that the lease ends
- Reversion – The act of giving back the property to the Lessor
- Surrender – Terms of the reversion
- Leased Fee Interest – An amount a Lessor will accept to convey fee simple ownership
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Building or renovating a home is a complex project with plenty of moving parts. Even if you’re planning to take a DIY approach, it’s likely you’ll need some help from contractors along the way. Here’s a guide to the types of contractors you might enlist to help you complete your dream home.
If you think of a general contractor like a general in the military, you have the basic idea of what a general contractor does. Like a general leading a military campaign, a general contractor organizes the strategy of a building or remodeling project. The general contractor decides when to bring in the plumbers, electricians, and roofers; makes sure they do their jobs correctly; and checks details, like ensuring that the carpenters install the porch handrails according to code.
Especially if there is no architect involved, the general contractor ensures that the building permits are in order and that the project is legal — meaning that it is being done to city or country building codes. (If it isn't, your city's building inspectors will make you redo it. Ouch!) Like a military general who is ultimately responsible for the success of a campaign, the general contractor is responsible for the outcome of remodeling project.
Subcontractors are specialists who work under the direction of the general contractor. Subcontractors include plumbers, electricians, tile setters, carpenters, framers, roofers, painters and cabinetmakers, among others.
Ideally, they show up at your construction or remodeling project when they are needed. If the subcontractors are reliable and efficient, the pace of your project continues to move steadily along, and it is finished when it is supposed to be. If all that happens, it is usually because a good general contractor has been overseeing their work.
Owner as general contractor
Homeowners who are skilled at organizing multimillion-dollar sales campaigns at their office or at running three local volunteer organizations in their spare time sometimes like to act as their own general contractors. There is no law that says you can't. As a rule of thumb, general contractors charge about 15 to 20 percent of the total cost of the job, so acting as your own general contractor can save money.
But before you leap into the general contractor role, consider whether you really have the time, expertise, and patience to run a remodeling project, especially a complicated one. How much time can you spend on site? Can you take phone calls at unexpected times of the day?
The one thing you can count on with any remodel is that something will go wrong at some point. It may not be a big deal, but it will mean making new arrangements, often on short notice, and rearranging schedules for subcontractors and suppliers.
This could mean dozens of phone calls in a single afternoon. It could mean running around hunting down some piece of hardware or building material that is needed on site right now. If this sounds like fun, you may have what it takes to act as your own general contractor.
An alternative to hiring a general contractor or acting as your own is to hire a design/build firm. Design/build firms are companies that offer start-to-finish building and remodeling services. They employ architects or designers as well as the skilled builders.
A design/build firm essentially offers the services of architect, general contractor, and subcontractors. The obvious advantage to using these firms is that the entire project should be a fairly smooth operation, since the firm takes responsibility for everything.
While general contractors, subs, and independent architects can, in the worst scenarios, blame each other for mishaps and toss the responsibility for correcting the mishaps back and forth, design/build firms know the buck stops with them. They have to make it right.
If your home improvement project really is as straightforward as installing a wall of built-in bookshelves in your living room, your best bet is probably to find a good carpenter or cabinetmaker.
People who bill themselves as handymen may be fine at installing new light switches or doing minor carpentry, but, as always, ask to see some of their work. If you want your new bookshelves to look like elegant additions to your living room, find an expert in cabinetry.
- How to Build a Home Renovation Team You Can Trust
- 5 Things Every Home Buyer Needs to Know About New Construction
- Home Improvement Projects: DIY or Hire a Pro?
The post What Every Homeowner Needs to Know About Contractors appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.
Your life changes over time: new relationships, new jobs, new hobbies. Sometimes, you can make changes to your home to adapt to your lifestyle - but sometimes you can't. And the hardest part? Knowing when to let go.
Take our quiz to find out your relationship status - with your living space.
How Much Do You Love Your Home?
You’re in the honeymoon phase.
Your weekends consist of trips to the hardware store, DIY projects and shopping for deck furniture online. Sure, it takes a couple of days to text your friends back - and you have half the money you used to - but you don't sweat it. Right now, you only have eyes for one thing: your new home.
You’re in the sweatpants phase.
Your thermostat runs on a program, and every knickknack has a place. You've made peace with the orange paint in the downstairs bathroom, and your ideal activity is putting on (mostly) clean sweatpants to chill on the couch. Things aren't as exciting as they used to be - but why mess with a good thing?
You’re in the seven-year-itch phase.
You're starting to notice the cracks in the ceiling, and you wonder if you're ever going to finish the basement. These days, your home stresses you out more than anything. You're at a fork in the road: You can either commit to your home for the long haul - or move on.
You’re ready to move on.
You look at other homes every spare moment, and you've started sending them to your spouse, your friends and even your boss. Whether or not you've admitted it to yourself, you're ready to move on and find your dream home.
You're going to paint your living room. Which color do you choose?
How do you set up your dining room for dinner parties?
Be honest: What does your guest room look like right now?
What's your next home project?
What are you saving for?
How do you spend your weekends?
How would you describe your neighbors?
What kinds of pictures are on your Pinterest board?
And speaking of social media … what was the last Facebook ad you clicked on?
Which quote do you identify with the most?
- Quiz: What Style Is Your Dream Bedroom?
- 9 Updates Your Home Needs Every 10 Years
- 3 Weird Things You Can Ignore When Home Shopping
Fact: Real estate brokers’ commission rates are not regulated in any state and are ALWAYS 100% negotiable.
When you decide to sell your house, if you are like most people, you will want to hire - or at least consider hiring - a real estate agent to handle the process.
Surprisingly, many people think that real estate brokerage commission rates are “set” in their area and they have to pay a specific percentage of the sales price to the agent in order to get their services. This is absolutely not the case, and in fact, you can pay whatever you and the agent agree to.
What is a fair amount to pay for real estate commission?
“Fair” is whatever you and the agent decide is fair, and just as you are not under any obligation to pay more than you want to, the agent is not under any obligation to do business with you if they are not going to earn what they want.
You will probably find that most agents will want to get a commission rate somewhere between 4 percent and 7 percent, depending on your particular area. While you may think that this is too much, keep in mind the following:
- The agent is not getting the entire amount. In fact, they get about 37.5 percent of the total, on average (this varies also by geographic area), because the buyer’s agent’s company usually gets half of the entire amount, and of the remaining half, the listing agent’s company gets about 25 percent of that or more.
- If the sale goes smoothly (and real estate transactions rarely do), the agent may not put a huge amount of time and effort into the process, but if complications arise (there usually are some), the agent may put in a great deal of time and energy, including many evenings and weekends.
- The agent has no guarantee they will get paid, and if you change your mind halfway through and decide not to sell, the agent may have invested a lot of time and energy for nothing.
- The agent is most likely on straight commission and has to pay for all business costs (i.e., gas, cell phone, signs, insurance, etc.) out of their own pocket.
- While it is understood the listing side pays for marketing the home and facilitating the showings and feedback process, the listing agent also plays an important role in keeping the buyer and seller at the negotiation table. For example: A buyer offered an initial price of $15,000 less than the list price. The seller countered at $4,000 under list, and the buyer responded that they had offered their top amount and there would be no counter. The seller was offended and the talks were off. Two weeks later, the listing agent convinced the seller to counter again and invite the buyer to the table to see if the buyer would be willing to come up from his initial offer. He did, and eventually, the deal was closed and everyone was happy. Ultimately, the listing agent recognized that some amount in between the offer and the counter was reasonable, and was successful in coaching the seller to see the benefit of dealing with this particular buyer.
- You might consider an incentive-based compensation for the agent.
So, if your house is not going to sell for very much and/or is probably not going to be an “easy” sale for whatever reason (perhaps there are a lot of homes on the market and not selling quickly, or you are in the middle of a divorce and you know the agent is going to have to deal with a lot of tension and communication with multiple parties), when you do the calculations, you may find that the agent is actually doing a lot of work for very little compensation.
However, if your house is worth half a million dollars or more, and houses are flying off the market, then asking for a 1-percent or 2-percent reduction of the agent’s requested rate might be very fair for both of you.
How is the commission divided between the listing agent’s company and buyer’s agent’s company
Let’s say you agree to pay 6 percent to the agent you are going to hire. The assumption is that 3 percent of this amount is designated for the buyer’s agent’s company that brings the successful buyer to the table.
The question you should ask is, why do you have to pay 3 percent to the buyer’s agent’s company? Can’t the buyer pay that themselves? Then, you could just pay 3 percent or thereabouts to the listing agent and you would save yourself a lot of money, right?
Well, here’s how it works: Most buyers use a buyer’s agent to help them in the home buying process. They could pay their agent themselves, but then they would probably expect about the same amount they are paying to be discounted from the price of your home.
In other words, consumers understand that real estate commissions are built into the price of the home. Even though you as the seller are paying the entire commission, you are still probably going to net about the same as you would had you only paid the listing agent.
The problem in most states is that the contracts used are written by lawyers paid for by the real estate associations, therefore making it difficult to benefit from not having a licensed agent during a purchase.
Could you offer less than half of the total commission to the buyer’s agent?
How about this: Why not offer less than half (3 percent, in our example) to the buyer’s agent - say 2 percent, instead of the 3 percent? You absolutely could.
But, some people will tell you that if you offer less than the “going rate” to buyer’s agents, they won’t show your home. But in general, this isn’t true.
What buyer’s agents want more than anything is to find their buyer a home that they will like, get the sale done, make a reasonable commission, and move on to the next client. What matters most is whether the price of the home and its condition are favorable to buyers.
What about “discount” and flat fee MLS companies?
You could use a “discount” or flat fee MLS company instead of a “traditional” company (actually, since commissions are not regulated, there really is no such thing as a discount company).
But unless you are willing to do a lot of work yourself (being present at showings, inspections and/or other appointments), the extra that you pay the listing agent over the flat fee company may actually be worth it - and you may even net more money by having a dedicated agent to negotiate for you at all times.
Selling via flat fee MLS is growing rapidly in slower markets. Many resort to this alternative selling method as it is the most economical and flexible way to sell.
Recommendations for dealing with the real estate commission
- If your home is not worth very much and/or it’s not in a great market for sellers, pay the “going rate” after shopping a few prominent real estate agents. You will need all the help you can get, and the agents are not actually going to be making a ton of money for the time they put in.
- If your home is worth a lot and/or it’s in a hot seller’s market, tell the agent that you think it is fair to pay them slightly less of their side as well as slightly less of the buyer’s agent’s side. For example, instead of 3 percent to each side, pay 2.5 percent to each side.
- Make sure the agent will do the following: Put your home in the local MLS; add as many high-quality photos as possible (make sure they choose the best looking photo for the “primary” MLS photo); put an attractive “For Sale” sign out front; put a continuous supply of flyers in a flyer box; put a lockbox on the door; offer whatever amount you have authorized them to offer to buyer’s agents in the MLS; and guide you well in preparing and staging your home.
- Understanding the Role of the Real Estate Agent
- 4 Things to Know About Buying a ‘For Sale by Owner’ Home
- Choosing the Best Listing Agent for You
The post Real Estate Agent Commissions: How Much Should You Pay? appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.
Is cross-country skiing calling your name? Are you mapping out black diamonds in Aspen or craving a steep downhill course at Winter Park? Whatever your ski style might be, here are 11 mountain homes starting under $200,000.
Bonus: Some of them are ski in/ski out, so you can start the day from your own backyard. See you at the chairlift!
777 Stratton Arlington Rd
For sale: $199,000
Halfway between a couple of popular ski resorts, this Vermont getaway puts not one but two mountains within driving distance. Perched on two acres of land, this 3-bedroom home is near snowmobile and cross-country skiing trails. Plus, it’s in the heart of Green Mountain National Forest, offering access to snowshoeing, hiking trails and more.
View more homes in Stratton.
25 Two Trees Ln
For sale: $895,000
There’s nothing quite like spending après ski cozied up next to a roaring fire. To indulge all those toasty post-ski dreams, this Windham, NY mountain home features two outdoor fire pits and a hot tub to keep guests warm after a long day on the slopes (plus an indoor fireplace for when the weather is frightful). The Windham Mountain ski resort is a short half-mile drive down the road, making the morning commute to the chairlift quick and easy.
Find more homes in Windham.
11 Guye Peak Ln
For sale: $589,000
For fans of the Pacific Northwest, this 4-bedroom ski home provides the perfect escape from booming Seattle. The 2,230-square-foot getaway is roughly a 45-minute drive from the city and has stunning views of several mountains near Snoqualmie Pass. There’s an outdoor hot tub for unwinding under the stars, a mother-in-law suite to host guests in style and a local brewery within walking distance.
View more homes at Snoqualmie Pass.
216 Maple St
For sale: $975,000
Snow-covered trees set the backdrop for this historic brick home in Stowe, VT. A nature trail down the street means cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are practically at your doorstep. Much of the original home, built in 1860, is intact, from the wood-burning fireplace to the exposed natural-wood beams. Modern additions include a fully upgraded kitchen and an outdoor hot tub - the perfect place to unwind after a day of carving turns on the mountain.
See more homes in Stowe.
397 Moose Run Dr
For sale: $874,500
Have your breakfast, then strap in: This 4-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom home sits on the slopes of the Whitefish Mountain Resort, which means your entire winter could be spent skiing right from the front yard. The interior features reclaimed wood floors, a large, open kitchen, and plenty of room to host guests. For snow bunnies taking the day off, there's a cozy wood-burning fireplace and an outdoor hot tub with mountain views.
See more homes in Whitefish.
Steamboat Springs, CO
31215 Star Ridge Rd
For sale: $636,500
Snowshoe right from the backyard of this Colorado home, which borders a national forest (read: endless miles to explore on skis or in a snowmobile). This 3-bedroom hilltop house has a classic wood-paneled exterior and views of the Rockies. Bonus: It’s just a quick 15-minute drive to the gondola at Steamboat Resort for the days when downhill is calling your name.
Explore more homes in Steamboat Springs.
10656 Jeffrey Way
For sale: $705,000
Craving Tahoe? Or a retreat to Reno? This California mountain house is just a short drive from both. Surrounded by gorgeous, stately trees, the home features a number of outdoor decks to take in the crisp mountain air. Plus, with three bedrooms and four bathrooms, there’s room for the whole family - or friends who want to spend the weekend.
Check out more homes in Truckee.
Big Sky, MT
679 Big Pine Dr
For sale: $719,000
Brand-new construction in Big Sky Country means moving into a home truly your own. This 2,184-square-foot house is a zippy four-minute walk to the heart of a growing downtown development, so you can get your skis tuned while enjoying a slice of pizza or a cup of coffee. Modern features and a cozy fireplace round out the details at this warm winter getaway.
Explore more homes in Big Sky.
5780 State Hwy #9
For sale: $605,000
Breckenridge, CO gets an average of 14 1/2 feet of snow each winter, but this traditional log home is easy to spot, with its bold red door and detached barn. Nestled on a wooded piece of land, the 4-bedroom house is just a few miles from downtown “Breck,” as the locals call it. An outdoor hot tub allows for unwinding under the stars after a long, taxing day of skiing the Rockies.
Find more homes in Breckenridge.
138B Sun Bowl Ridge Rd
For sale: $995,000
This bright 4-bedroom home hugs the ski slopes of the Stratton Mountain Resort in Vermont, which means first tracks could be yours all winter long. The 2,700-square-foot retreat also has a cozy fire pit for warming up after a long day in the snow, along with hot tubs nearby. Plus, there’s a private game room inside the house - perfect for when Mother Nature dumps a blizzard on your doorstep and you just want to watch it from the comfort of your own couch.
See more homes in Stratton.
191 Mitchell Hollow Rd
For sale: $589,000
With views of Windham Mountain, this 3-bedroom ski retreat lands you not only within six miles of the mountain but also in a spot to stare at it every single morning. Some rooms boast warm, wood-paneled interiors, plus there’s a fireplace to rest your feet after a day of skiing in the Northeast. For outdoor gatherings on milder days, a fire pit is at the ready.
Check out more homes in Windham.
Top featured image from Zillow listing.
- Cozy Updates Under $500: Affordable Ways to Make Your Home a Winter Haven
- Hit the Slopes: How to Buy a Ski Home in 5 Easy Steps
- Log Cabins, From Modest to Massive
After demolishing an older home on this property along the Tennessee River, architect Josh Cooper, principal at JCC Design Studio, erected a three-story home, taking inspiration from the client's love for Belgian-style architecture.
For the home’s exterior, Cooper incorporated materials like mountain stone, durable Siberian-larch siding and LifePine roofing.
"The roof is extra special, because there isn't a single straight line in the roofline," says Cooper. "The third floor is tucked up underneath an elegant curving roofline, creating these great lines that bring the scale of the house down dramatically."
With soothing earth tones and natural finishes, the home’s interior echoes its beautiful exterior finishes and riverfront setting.
"On the outside, natural materials like wood and stone are used, and I wanted to carry that through the house," says Adele James Glascock, an interior designer with Adele James Interiors. "This house overlooks the river, so of course it was important to have that as a focal point - and to incorporate colors from the river and its surroundings into the home."
Throughout the home, you'll find a mix of organic materials and colors. Durable larch-wood floors are paired with shiplap walls and rustic beams. Sculptural metal light fixtures draw the eye upward to the warm wood-paneled pine ceilings.
In the kitchen, wood cabinets painted in a neutral green-gray hue are set off by a brick backsplash. Other organic-inspired materials include soapstone countertops, a concrete and wood island, and a stainless steel oven hood with a patina.
In the adjoining living room, white shiplap is juxtaposed with a dark beige trim to help define the space. In the main living area of the home, doorways framed with arches lead from the living room to dining room to kitchen.
"They act as a unifying part of the main level and public spaces," says Cooper. "They are intended to be the core language of the house."
While the bones of the house are neutral, Glascock layered in textures, finishes and colors to bring each space to life.
Glascock chose to outfit the house in an array of antiques, vintage tchotchkes and furnishings made from reclaimed materials, adding a storied charm to the home.
The top floor houses three bedrooms, while the main floor is home to a large master suite with a private courtyard.
The family-friendly house is fully equipped for entertaining, with a basement featuring an additional guest suite, a bar, arcade games, billiards and a place for kicking back and watching the game.
The party room opens up to a large patio area, where there’s even more space for entertaining - a fire pit, bar area, pool, cabana and cozy carriage house.
Get the look at home
- Draw decorative inspiration from your home's setting. For instance, the colors, materials and finishes used throughout this home echo the earthiness of its riverfront setting. "When you go to a cocktail party, you don't put on tennis shoes," says Glascock. "You need to be appropriate for where you are and what you have."
- Add character to a room by applying shiplap or painted wood to the walls. For an easy-to-install, affordable option, check out Stikwood's adhesive wood paneling.
- For rooms with neutral bones, layer in dynamic decorative elements that have color and texture, like artwork, tchotchkes and fabrics.
Photos by Ricki Chester.
See more design inspiration on Zillow Digs.
- Designer Lookbook: Rebecca Van’t Hull’s Colorful Weekend Retreat
- House of the Year: A Treehouse Tower With Water Views
- How Breaking 3 Design Rules Made Our Home Feel More Like Us
The post Tour a Riverfront Home That Draws Inspiration From the Great Outdoors appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.
While a bathroom might not be the first room a potential home buyer asks to see, it can make or break the sale.
Here are five common mistakes both rookie and seasoned flippers and homeowners make when renovating a bathroom.
Mistake 1: Ignoring proper spacing and layout
Bathrooms may seem straightforward, but a lack of spatial awareness in the renovation planning stages can lead to problems down the road.
Remember: Just because you can fit something into the bathroom design doesn't mean it can function within that space. Always keep function in the forefront of your mind and in your design.
For example, if you choose a shower with a door, your bathroom layout should leave plenty of room for it to fully open. No potential home buyer will want to squeeze out of a partially opened shower door every morning. Other considerations include providing enough space to comfortably get on and off the toilet, open cabinet doors, etc.
Spatial considerations also include making sure elements of the room are close enough together to function. For example, the toilet paper holder should be within a child's arm’s reach of the toilet, and outlets should be easily accessible from the counter.
Mistake 2: Choosing the wrong materials
Because of the sink, toilet and shower, bathrooms deal with more moisture than any other room in the house. Homeowners also use many of the strongest cleaning products on bathroom surfaces. Both of these factors, if not taken into consideration, can lead to significant damage if you don’t select the right materials for the job.
Go with materials that can stand up to harsh cleaners and are not highly susceptible to mold, warping or distortion. Avoid porous materials that will retain moisture and allow hidden mold to grow.
Mistake 3: Ignoring storage space
No one complains about having too much storage in the bathroom. When planning a bathroom remodel, incorporate plenty of storage space into the design.
Consider how many people will use the bathroom. Don't make the mistake of providing only enough bathroom storage space for one person in a 4-bedroom house.
Additionally, most people prefer a bit of privacy with bathroom storage, so a set of floating shelves, while helpful, will not be sufficient on its own.
Mistake 4: Forgetting about ventilation
Ventilation isn't a glamorous part of a bathroom renovation, but it is essential. Forgetting to work in enough ventilation can lead to mold, mildew and other costly problems in the future. It can also make a bathroom uncomfortable if it’s not properly ventilated during or after a shower.
If possible, work in a combination of natural and artificial ventilation sources. A well-placed window can go a long way, but it won't be very helpful during cold winter months, when a homeowner won't open it. Make sure to install a quality ventilation fan that can handle the size of the bathroom.
Mistake 5: Putting off lighting plans until the end
Many people think of lighting as a finishing touch to a renovation. While lighting is often installed later in the process, you should plan your lighting fixtures at the beginning of the renovation.
Bathrooms are often where people get ready for the day, which is why lighting is essential. Recessed lighting can create shadows on your face in the mirror, and the last thing you want when trying to sell a bathroom is unflattering lighting.
Waiting until the end to address lighting can also lead to dark patches within the bathroom. Depending on your preferred shower style, you may or may not need lighting above the shower or tub.
Similarly, no one wants to use the toilet in darkness. When drawing up your plans, consider what type of lighting will best accommodate your space and room design. Making adjustments in the planning stages will be much easier than making them at the end of a project.
Top photo from Zillow listing.
- Is Your Bathroom a Total Snooze Fest? (It Doesn’t Have to Be)
- 10 Ways to Make a Small Bathroom Look Bigger
- 9 Signs It’s Time to Update Your Bathroom
For most Americans, their home is their most important financial asset. But in the past, homeowners only knew how much it was worth when they bought or sold their home. Zillow was founded to democratize this sort of information - starting with the Zestimate, Zillow's estimated market valuation tool.
To understand how much your home is worth, it's important to understand the variety of factors that go into assessing the value, both existing (assessed and appraised) value, as well as potential real value on the market. The Zestimate is Zillow's tool for extrapolating real market value of your home based on existing home-related data and actual sales prices in your area.
Thousands of data points correlate with home values and sale prices - some of which are obvious (like the condition of the home), and some that aren't so obvious.
Here are several surprising things that can affect either the existing value of your home or the price someone is willing to pay for it, all based on data.
1. How close you are to a Starbucks
How far do you have to drive to get a Frappuccino? If the answer is "not that far," you're in luck.
A 2015 Zillow report found that, between 1997 and 2014, homes within a quarter-mile of a Starbucks increased in value by 96 percent, on average, compared with 65 percent for all U.S. homes, based on a comparison of Zillow Home Value Index data with a database of Starbucks locations.
To evaluate if this effect is isolated to Starbucks, or if it extends to other caffeine purveyors, the research team also looked at another coffee hot spot (one with particular pull on the East Coast): Dunkin' Donuts.
The analysis of that data showed that homes near Dunkin' Donuts locations appreciated 80 percent, on average, during the same 17-year period - not quite as high as homes near a Starbucks, but still significantly above the 65 percent increase in value for all U.S. homes.
2. Blue kitchens and blue bathrooms
Beyond America's obsession with lawns and all-around "curb appeal," what's inside your house counts a lot, too - especially the colors you've painted the rooms (particularly the kitchen).
According to Zillow's 2017 Paint Color Analysis, which examined more than 32,000 photos from sold homes around the country, homes with blue kitchens sold for a $1,809 premium, compared to similar homes with white kitchens.
Blue is also a popular bathroom shade. The same analysis found that homes with light pale blue to soft periwinkle blue bathrooms sold for a whopping $5,440 more.
Walls painted in cool neutrals like blue or gray can be signals that the home is well cared for or has other desirable features.
3. Trendy features
Joanna Gaines' aesthetic is permeating more than just your YouTube search history. Zillow listings mentioning some of the shiplap queen’s favorite features - keywords like “barn door" and "farmhouse sink” - sell faster and for a premium, according to a 2016 Zillow analysis of descriptions of more than 2 million homes sold nationwide.
Listings with "barn door" in the description sold for 13.4 percent more than expected, and 57 days faster than comparable homes without the keyword.
Meanwhile, listings touting "farmhouse sink" led to a nearly 8-percent sales premium. This "barn door" effect doesn't seem to increase the value of the home off the market, but is seemingly due to the popularity of this style at the time of the analysis. Sellers can use the listing descriptions to highlight trendy details and features that might not be noticeable in the photos.
4. How close you are to a city
If you own a home in a major metropolitan area in America, you're most likely sitting on a significant (and rapidly appreciating) financial asset. Case in point: Home values in the New York, NY metro area are worth $2.6 trillion, per a recent Zillow analysis - which is more than the value of the entire French economy.
The average urban home is now worth 35 percent more than the average suburban home. Since 2012, the median home value in urban areas have increased by 54 percent, while in suburban areas the median home value is up 38 percent.
- Why Cities Must Become Affordable for the Middle Class
- Upsizing: The Hottest New Housing Trend You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
- 14 Million Households Plan to Give Their Homes to Family
The post 4 Surprising Things That May Increase How Much Your Home Is Worth appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.
Unless you're a New England or Philadelphia fan, you likely don't have much stake in the February 4 football game. But that doesn't mean you can't adopt a team for a day and participate in the thrill of it all.
There's just the little dilemma of how to choose which one to root for. Coin toss? Nope. Because we've got you covered like a shutdown corner … or a Bermuda shutter, if you prefer.
Take our quiz to help you decide which team best fits your personality based on your preferences for everything home.
Discover Your Football Team
Your affection for the Beantown way of life gives you honorary fan status of a wicked good team. In addition to five championship rings, the city is also champions of higher education, historic homes and excellent cuisine (hello, Boston cream pie, Boston baked beans and New England clam "chowdah").
You're lovin' the City of Brotherly Love's way of life. And why wouldn't you? The neighborhood has depth in history, culture and stunning homes. Plus, America and your new honorary team share a mascot. Sure, the team might be the underdog, but so was America in 1776.
Which home style do you prefer?
Which room do you like best?
Would you rather …
Which view would you want to wake up to?
Which specialty cookware is a must in your kitchen?
Which cultural amenity would you want the most access to in your neighborhood?
Which patriotic decoration would you display in your home?
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The post Quiz: Which Football Team Should You Cheer for in the Big Game? appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.
Ahh, the bedroom of your dreams. Will it include fuzzy pillows or homespun quilts? Perhaps it's covered wall to wall in plush rugs. Or maybe it's a clutter-free, serene space.
Rest assured that this quiz will help you discover your style.
What’s Your Nesting Style?
Take the quiz to find out.
Clean lines, neutral colors - for you, less is more. While others banish beige, you say bring it on. It takes a renegade like you to strip away the unnecessary clutter and focus on a few statement-making features.
You'll take all the reclaimed wood and wrought iron, please. Your look is all about keeping things light, yet cozy. If it's rustic, knitted, homespun or antiqued, you'll welcome it with barn doors wide open.
This isn't granny's doily collection. You're going for refined elegance, which means delicate shapes paired with ornate details. Think curvaceous frames, chandeliers dripping in crystals and lush florals with creamy whites.
You're vibing hard on ikat prints right now. Surround yourself with bright pops of colors, crocheted textiles, and patterns on top of patterns on top of patterns. You'll feel like you're in an exotic locale, even if it is just the suburbs.
Which season do you enjoy the most?
Where would you love to go on vacation?
What is your ideal date?
What is your must-have accessory?
What midnight snack do you reach for?
What is your preferred beverage?
Which accent do you need in every room?
If you had an extra $100, what would you spend it on?
What best describes your fashion sense?
How do you like to unwind?Related:
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A generation ago, few would consider trekking out in a foot of old dirty snow to shop for a home on the weekend. But with our always connected, information-flowing society, today's buyers shop and make deals all year long.
If you’re a buyer looking in a part of the country where you may not see a home’s front lawn until May, keep these points in mind as you shop.
Seeing a home at its worst is a plus
Let's face it, no home shows at its best in the middle of the winter. It's cold, dark and often wet. And that's great news for the buyer.
Why? Because you can discover its flaws, such as a lack of privacy, abundant street noise, leaks or drafty windows. You'll see the home in its worst "light" - and in some cases, you’ll realize it's just too dark or exposed.
Come spring, the flowers, grass, landscaping and foliage will only enhance the home.
You can ask to see summer or fall photos
Smart listing agents get exterior photos from their sellers to show off the pool, lawn, flowers, and gardens in bloom. Even though they’re listing in January, they should promote the home's assets from other times of the year.
If the listing doesn’t include photos, ask to see some. It means fewer surprises when the snow melts, the ground thaws, and it's now your home and your responsibility.
What about features you’re unable to test?
If the home has a pool that can't be inspected because the seller closed it for the winter, you need to request that they leave money in escrow or extend the closing time frame. When warm weather returns, you can inspect the pool and its systems to be certain it’s in good working condition, and free of leaks or damage.
Unless a seller provides a disclosure about some part of the pool not working, they're responsible for remedying any issues. If all works out, the attorney or escrow company will release the funds.
Documentation can help alleviate uncertainties
Frozen ground prohibits digging for contaminates of previous underground oil storage tanks. And homeowners typically winterize sprinkler systems, accessory apartments or cottages. In the event you can’t inspect every feature or get escrow funds negotiated, ask for documentation.
The plumbers, pool company and outside vendors should have records, so you can request documentation showing that all was shut down or closed out properly. Even better, ask to meet with the tradespeople who did the work.
It doesn’t hurt to ask
Although homes sell all year-round, it takes a determined customer to trek through the snow and ice to initiate a real estate transaction. For the right house, a winter purchase could spell opportunity. Double up on due diligence, and don't be afraid to ask for a longer closing or to arrange to have the home inspected come spring.
Everything is negotiable, so smart buyers should protect themselves. Once a deal closes, there is rarely sufficient recourse.
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- How to Handle Long-Distance House Hunting Like a Champ
Originally published January 18, 2017.
The post Home Shopping During Winter: What You Need to Know appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.
In 15 years of real estate, I can honestly say that I've seen it all. Toilet seats up in listing photos, shag carpet covered with dog hair, bedrooms doubling as marijuana growing centers, and avocado green appliances from the ’70s.
Sellers aren't required to get their homes in their best condition before showing them - let alone cleaning their home before listing. But one seller’s laziness can spell a giant upside for the right buyer.
Here are three sights that may be off-putting when you’re shopping for a home, but shouldn’t stop you from considering making an offer - particularly if you love the home, layout or location.
Odd wallpaper and dirty carpet
Today's buyers generally prefer a home that’s turn-key or move-in ready. They’re too busy with their day-to-day lives to take on a renovation - and this is especially true for the continuously connected, mobile-ready millennial home buyer.
But painting walls and replacing carpets isn’t always time-consuming or expensive, and you can do these projects before moving in.
If a seller won't replace their shag carpet or paint the interior a neutral color, they’re shooting themselves in the foot.
A fresh coat of paint and finished floors or new carpet won't break the bank or take more than a week, and the end product will be a like-new home for you to move into.
Rooms being strangely used
It's not uncommon to see a home’s dining room transformed into a full-fledged office. Some homeowners even have a bedroom doubling as a walk-in closet. I once saw a first-floor bedroom turned into a wine-tasting room.
Just because the homeowner uses these spaces in a way that suits them, doesn't mean you have to. These rooms might stand out as odd to you, but try to forget that the seller lives there.
Once they’ve moved out, the dining room will be a space that just needs a great light fixture and table. The walk-in closet can be turned back into a bedroom in less than a day.
A too-strong seller presence
It’s difficult for a buyer to imagine themselves in a home if it’s full of the seller's photos, diplomas and other personal belongings. The best homes for buyers are those that are neutral and lacking any items specific to the owner.
What's worse is when the seller is present at a showing. It makes everyone uncomfortable. The buyers feel like they need to be on their best behavior and can't explore the house, dig deep into closets or cabinets, or feel free to talk out loud about what they see.
A home that is too personalized or where the seller is always present can sit on the market and get a bad reputation over time. A smart buyer will use that to their advantage and snag it below the asking price.
Sellers who sabotage their home sale - whether intentionally or not - leave money on the table for the buyer. But typical consumers today have a hard time seeing through a seller’s mess, personalized design style or custom changes.
If you see a home online that’s in a great location with a floor plan that’s ideal, go see it. Ignore the things you can change, and think about whether you can make the home your own.
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Originally published on July 4, 2016.
Searching for a home and engaging with a real estate agent today is not the same as it was a generation ago. The space (both physical and virtual) between the buyer and the real estate agent was much larger, and coming together was slower and more methodical.
If a buyer saw a For Sale sign or an ad in the paper, they might call the real estate agency’s office, get some information, and move on. Or they could walk into an open house solo. They could be rather anonymous.
But today's home buyers live online. They can click, text or email with agents, and seriously engage within hours. But does that mean they are active and serious buyers ready to transact? Not necessarily.
The real estate agent’s experience
Meanwhile, real estate agents, who are commission-only independent contractors, will sometimes drive around for hours showing homes. They may take these buyers around for days or weeks, thinking they have a live client they can help. They might make an offer or two on behalf of the customer, even be present at a two- to three-hour-long home inspection … all before the buyer decides to back out. They may buy a different house from the agent, or they may not.
Well-intentioned, hardworking agents can end up feeling like their time isn't valued - particularly when they never hear from that buyer again.
Is it incumbent on the agent to be better at time management and qualifying their potential buyer clients? Or should the buyer be clear with the agent early on if they aren’t serious just yet?
I think that the consumer comes first, and it’s up to the agent to better qualify - as best they can. But it's also part of the business, and par for the course. Agents sign up for a sales job, and they can't win every deal. They need to ask lots of questions of their new "client" before offering up their time and cashing a paycheck that doesn't exist.
Some consumers relish the attention they receive from this new "friend" who will drive them places, show them around, and teach them something new about the world of real estate. If the buyer isn't paying for the agent's time, the reasoning often goes, why not take a few rides and see some great houses?
But soon-to-be homeowners should be mindful of their intentions, and considerate of the resources the agent is delivering.
So what's a buyer to do?
Should everyone stop looking online or clicking the “Contact Agent” button? No way. Consumers should always feel free to click away, ask questions and gather information.
But they should be mindful of how things work once they start seriously engaging. Most buyers don't realize that there is a process to buying a home, and that it rarely happens overnight. From the time they first click on the photo of the killer master bathroom until they get the keys, it might be one year and three dozen (or more) house tours.
And if things don't feel right with the agent with whom you engage early on, move on. Keep researching independently, or get a referral for a good local agent. Or, better yet, just go with the flow and the right agent will come along organically.
And what about agents?
Real estate professionals need to understand that one text, click or email does not make an active buyer. A good agent has a handle on the sales process, and asks buyers lots of questions to get a read on them. A good agent fills their sales funnel with a mix of folks in all parts of the home buying process.
Early on, an agent needs to be a guiding light, resourceful and ready to answer questions. As some of their buyers get more serious, smart real estate pros know where to direct their attention.
Originally published May 23, 2016.
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The post Why Home Buyers and Agents Need to Have Each Other's Backs appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.
In a competitive rental market, you'll need to do quite a bit more than simply fill out an application and put down a deposit. Since 2005, there has been "an uptick in renters, with people in their 50s and 60s making up the largest chunk of the increase," CNN Money reports.
With large numbers of millennials and Baby Boomers competing in a growing pool of renter applications, it's important to consider ways to boost your odds during the application process. Read on to learn how to give yourself an edge over other renters when you're applying for a rental home in a competitive market.
Apply online in advance
If you've browsed photos online of your dream rental property over and over, and your gut feeling is telling you that you've found "the one," there's no harm in filling out an application online if the option exists. This shows the property manager you're already a serious applicant when you visit the property.
When you arrive for a viewing of the rental property, come with a copy of your credit report, copies of your last few pay stubs, your checkbook, and a printed list of references (including your current employer and previous landlords).
Make the application review process easy for the property manager by bringing hard copies of more than enough application materials than your potential landlord would ever need.
An optional (but oh-so-helpful) document for your application package is a letter written to the landlord, explaining why you would be an excellent tenant - and if you've already visited before, what the home means to you. Think of the application packet as an argument for why you're the tenant for them.
And beyond documentation, bring a strong interview game. Prepare for your first meeting with your potential landlord as you would for any job interview. You'll be asked questions, but additionally, they expect you to present questions to them, too. This shows you've been thoughtful about the application process, and take the potential of living in their rental home seriously.
It may seem obvious, but property managers want to see applicants excited about their home.
While Utah-based landlord James Hedges certainly values excellent references, he looks for a potential renter who gives the impression that they appreciate the home. "Ultimately, you want someone who will take care of and respect your property,” he says. “How they react when they go through it should not be discounted."
"Showing an interest in the place and the neighborhood helps because it makes me feel like [the potential tenant] will treat my [rental] home and neighborhood as their own,” Virginia-based landlord Julia Jarrett adds. “That sets me at ease a bit."
With lots of applicants in the pool, landlords often have a tough choice when deciding on a tenant. In addition to offering strong application materials and expressing sincere interest in the home, showing your ability to be flexible is another way to stand out.
If you're able to sign a longer lease, say so. It shows serious commitment, and means your potential landlord won't have to hunt for more tenants anytime soon - surely a relief for them.
And if it seems like the landlord wants to get the property rented immediately, mention that you're willing to move in earlier than your listed preferred move-in date, if that’s possible.
Property managers will check references. Stretching the truth about something almost always comes out.
"If you lie on the application or in person and a reference contradicts you, it’s a huge red flag,” Hedges says. “Any indication of money problems is a red flag as well."
This hint may come in the form of an applicant haggling on price, negotiating what's included in the price, or asking to cash their check within a certain timeframe. "None of these are guarantees that they will be a bad renter, but they are warning signs that a landlord would take into consideration," Hedges explains.
Iowa-based landlord Laura Kilbride suggests potential renters keep their social media profiles somewhat public. "Having your Facebook profile visible can be a huge advantage,” she says. “If your profile is blocked, they can’t connect with you, and that’s off-putting when [another applicant] has theirs readily available."
After leaving your meeting or open house with the landlord, send an email thanking them, along with asking any follow-upquestions you may have. This encourages further dialogue, and having your name in their inbox serves as one more reminder as to who you are.
Hunting for the perfect rental property doesn't have to be a headache. Once you've found the rental home of your dreams, it's up to you to make the application process easy for the property manager.
Looking for more information about renting? Check out our Renters Guide.
Originally published April 29, 2016.
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The post 6 Ways to Score a Lease in a Competitive Rental Market appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.
Turn your backyard into a cozy camp spot by making your own fire pit. This outdoor DIY project is easy to complete, and you'll be making s'mores and cuddling up by the fire in no time.
Before you start building your backyard fire pit, you’ll need to gather some supplies: bricks for the fire pit wall, gravel, twine or string, a tape measure, a stake, a large shovel and a trowel, a tamp, and a level.
When purchasing bricks for the fire pit wall, go for something sturdy like retaining wall bricks or concrete pavers. Some home improvement stores even carry bricks specifically designed for fire pits. Use a layer of firebricks, which have a higher heat resistance, on the inner layer of the fire pit as an extra safety measure.
Also, before you begin building, be sure to consult your local fire code to find out whether fire pits are allowed in your city, and, if so, how far away the fire pit has to be from a structure.
Now that you have all your supplies and you’ve checked your local fire code, you’re ready to build!
1. Create a circle.
Pick out a spot in your yard for your fire pit (ensuring that it is located a safe distance from any structures, bushes, or trees), and insert a stake in the ground where the center of the pit will be.
Tie one end of the string or twine to the stake and measure how wide you want your circle to be. Typically, a fire pit has a diameter of about 4 to 5 feet. Cut the string, and tie the other end to the handle of a trowel. With the string or twine taut, drag the sharp end of the trowel around in a circle, creating a line in the grass.
2. Shovel out the grass.
Using a large shovel, dig out the grass inside the circle.
For safety purposes, the hole for a fire pit should be about 6 to 12 inches deep. Be sure to call 811 before you start digging to ensure there are no utility lines buried under the spot you’ve chosen.
3. Tamp down the dirt.
If you don't have a tamp, you can just use the bottom of your shovel.
4. Make sure the circle is level.
Get down on the ground with your level to ensure that the surface is ready for the bricks to be laid. Keep making small adjustments until it's completely level.
5. Add gravel.
Put a pretty thick layer of gravel in the fire pit (at least a couple of inches). Spread the gravel around evenly.
6. Arrange the bricks.
After you've spread the gravel around, arrange your bricks in a circle and stack them in layers until the fire pit wall is at least 12 inches tall.
For extra safety, you have the option to put an inner layer of firebricks. Though you don't need to use mortar if the bricks are heavy enough to make a sturdy stack, you can use an outdoor, fire-resistant mortar between the bricks for extra stability.
7. Relax and enjoy!
Gather a couple of Adirondack chairs, some firewood, a few friends, and campfire treats to get full use out of your new fire pit.
See more fire pit design inspiration on Zillow Digs.
Originally published July 19, 2017.
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The post DIY Backyard Fire Pit: Build It in Just 7 Easy Steps appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.