Real Estate Story
happy house

Photo courtesy Lara604 via Creative Commons

With the fresh start of January, take the next two weekends to make the rest of the year run more smoothly. These nine tips will save you time, energy, and money, and make you feel better about where you hang your hat every night.



1. MAKE BETTER USE OF YOUR CLOSETS

While this is not a photo of my closet above, it almost could be. Come January every year, and my closets tend to be a mishmash of clothes from all four seasons, piles of give-aways that I haven’t gotten around to giving away, and just general wrecks of disorganization.

Start the new year by decluttering a closet. Pick just one and organize with vengeance over one day (trust me, you’ll appreciate the major improvement in a short time). Save, sell, donate, or chuck everything in there, then vacuum, neaten, and dust. Job done!

2. TAKE A PHOTO INVENTORY OF YOUR HOUSE

If, God forbid, your house is ever burglarized or there is a fire, having photo records of the interior and all your possessions will make the insurance process infinitely easier. I speak from experience here: my house was burglarized a few years ago, but I had taken the time to snap photos of all my art, electronics, and jewelry and put it on a USB drive, which was locked in a file cabinet. I was so glad to have done so. Today, I store my photos in the cloud on Dropbox, which is even more convenient. Jump to read the next seven tips!

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Photo courtesy Lara604 via Creative Commons

Photo courtesy Lara604 via Creative Commons

With the fresh start of January, take the next two weekends to make the rest of the year run more smoothly. These nine tips will save you time, energy, and money, and make you feel better about where you hang your hat every night.



1. MAKE BETTER USE OF YOUR CLOSETS

While this is not a photo of my closet above, it almost could be. Come January every year, and my closets tend to be a mishmash of clothes from all four seasons, piles of give-aways that I haven’t gotten around to giving away, and just general wrecks of disorganization.

Start the new year by decluttering a closet. Pick just one and organize with vengeance over one day (trust me, you’ll appreciate the major improvement in a short time). Save, sell, donate, or chuck everything in there, then vacuum, neaten, and dust. Job done!

2. TAKE A PHOTO INVENTORY OF YOUR HOUSE

If, God forbid, your house is ever burglarized or there is a fire, having photo records of the interior and all your possessions will make the insurance process infinitely easier. I speak from experience here: my house was burglarized a few years ago, but I had taken the time to snap photos of all my art, electronics, and jewelry and put it on a USB drive, which was locked in a file cabinet. I was so glad to have done so. Today, I store my photos in the cloud on Dropbox, which is even more convenient. Jump to read the next seven tips!

(more…)

Busy day here yesterday at the ranch, as we emptied and discarded these babies for an Eternal GU 195S on demand hybrid gas fired water heater. In effect, we are going tankless. Woo hoo! These two hot water heaters are 12 years old, about the age when they start to break down. One broke on Christmas Eve, but it was no big deal because our hot water heaters sit in pans that have drains attached — water bugs notified us of the leak while we were at church. We turned off the broken unit and used the other one — the joy of being empty nesters!  A few weeks ago, I heard rumblings in hot water heater II — it was loud and bouncy, as if pebbles were popping inside. Was someone having a party in there?

Sure enough, that popping noise is a sign of sediment in the heater tank, an indication it’s about to bite the dust. This happened, of course, when I was in San Francisco last week. But if a hot water heater is going to break, late July is probably the best time ever. Sonny over at Great Southwest Plumbing saved the day — Sonny does all the plumbing for Classic Urban Homes and JLD Custom Homes, among other fine Dallas home builders– as you know, I’m picky about my homebuilders.

When you replace those big momma heaters and go tankless, it may not always be so smooth. Check for a few things: one, we have 3/4 inch copper pipes, at least 3/4 inch is required. Secondly, the roof vents: we chose the Eternal because we could vent it into the same roof vent both heaters had used, using the same flashing. I have done enough home remodeling to know you are asking for trouble when you start cutting new holes into a roof. We also needed an electrical outlet in the attic, and God bless my home builder, we had one.

These are the pesky details, that make “going green” so hard to carry out in reality. Had our home been fitted with small pipes, would have been a whole lot more labor and retro-fitting!

Did we run into any problems? Only one: we have a fire sprinkler system installed by Urban Fire Protection. The plumbers were cautious and didn’t want to go about soldering in the attic with the risk of setting off the fire sprinklers — that would have been a disaster! The good folks at Urban Fire talked us through shutting down and draining the sprinkler system so they could solder away. Another reason why you need intelligent, cautious people on the job!

The Eternal is so compact I may create a storage closet in the space those old heaters hogged. Our water is very hot and seems to get hot faster: we are getting 14 gallons per minute, so two or three people can shower simultaneously and still have hot water, plenty of it.

As for those two big mamma tanks, one of the plumbers says he’s going to recycle them into a BBQ pit… and promises to send photos!

Check out this darling Craftsman treasure at 1028 Haines just two blocks from the Bishop Arts District, a hop, skip and jump from Kidd Springs Park. I have never seen a 1344 plus square foot home make such great use of space — the designer could teach space planning! The kitchen boasts granite counters, a slate floor, stainless appliances and a generous wall of windows opening to a leafy deck, spacious backyard, and a surprise: your very own climate-controlled storage. There is abundant natural light, hardwoods, and a great open floor plan. The home is sensitively updated yet retains old-time charms. Negative: only one bathroom, but the owners have made it  a “wow” bath with rainfall shower head, sleek fixtures and travertine. New green additions include a radiant barrier roof, extra blown insulation, tankless hot water heater (those really free up space to boot!). $189,000 and yes, I am wearing my glasses.

Transparency in Real Estate, lesson #1.

Oh boy, I know he meant well, but Deion Sanders, who apparently had a lot of water damage to his Frisco, Texas home last week — a home on the market for $21 million –— posted this on his Twitter account. Of course ALL¬† home damage has to be divulged to any prospective buyer, but this just kind of really puts it out there.

Let me ask you this, who did not have any trouble with frozen water pipes last week? I built our house so all faucets are on interior walls, but our outdoor shower, which was turned off, has sprung a leak. I heard at Supper Club on Saturday that one friend was in his attic de-frosting their Rinaldi hot water heater. If anything, we can deduce two things I’ll be covering more this week:

-We need to beef up our building standards in Texas to accommodate future cold weather because it seems our climate is changing.

-The Azure condo would have been a much more pleasant place to be during the freeze. Friends who live at The Ritz did not have frozen water pipes or no heat. The Ritz has a back-up generator. They also had ice-free driveways and a warm garage. Hungry? Call Fearings. Folks at The Azure had a short bundled-up walk to The Stoneleigh to sup at Bolla.

Colder it gets in Dallas, the better and brighter condo living looks!