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Home Repair Projects: How to Know When to Call a Pro

Written by:  Paul Denikin <paul@dadknowsdiy.com>

Owning your own home comes with many benefits; for many Americans, it’s the ultimate goal to have a place where their family will stay safe and comfortable for years to come. It can also come with a lot to consider, especially if it’s an older residence. After a few years, many areas may need some attention via updates or repairs; just like a car, homes can have wear-and-tear issues that need to be addressed, and some of them can be costly. Figuring out how to take care of these problems — and how to pay for them — can be stressful, so it’s important to put together a plan and figure out the best way to get started.

First, think about the potential for a project to be DIY. What kind of budget do you have? Do you know what materials you’ll need and how much they’ll cost? If you’re unfamiliar with how to handle a particular repair, you may be able to find a YouTube tutorial on how to complete it. Just keep your safety in mind, and remember that some jobs are better left to the pros.

Keep reading to find out how to handle home repair projects.

Do Some Research

Some repairs involve updates or upgrades that require construction, and even in a minimal capacity, this will require a permit in most cities. Do some research online to find out what type of paperwork you’ll need to complete your project and how much it will cost. You’ll also need to set up an inspection of the work with a city or state inspector, so keep this in mind when thinking of a timeline. Your contractor will already know which permits and inspections you’ll need, but it’s best to educate yourself. Taking care of the legal end of things will help you avoid issues with your Homeowners Association and will keep you well-informed during the process.

Build a Budget

Before the first contractor steps foot on your property, you should know about how much your project is going to cost you. The internet is a great tool for this, of course. A quick, online search can give you a basic price range for most home repairs and upgrades. Larger purchases that you need to make immediately may require you to tap into your savings or line of credit, so you’ll want to be prepared for that. Of course, there will also be costs above and beyond the labor and materials to plan for and consider. For example, you may need a temporary storage unit to protect your furnishings and valuables during construction, which costs an average of $81.72 per month in San Antonio. Or you might need to rent out another place for a while, which will cost you an additional $93 per night on average from a site like AirBnB.

Leave Electricity to the Pros

Any job that requires wiring should be left to the pros, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the process. Don’t conclude that you can turn off a breaker and get to work on an electrical problem yourself; it’s not always that simple. Call in an electrician, but do some online research first. Ask for price quotes and shop around, as there may be a few different contractors in your area. If your home is more than 30 years old, make sure you have working smoke alarms in each area.

Plumbing Problems

There are many plumbing issues that can be easily fixed, such as a slow-draining sink or a faucet that has low water pressure; these can be handled with minimal tools in most cases, and a simple tutorial online can help you figure out the best place to start. However, when it comes to pipes, it’s best to leave the job to a professional plumber. Some older houses need updated pipes, and while this can get costly, it will be much more expensive for you to do it yourself if you’re not sure how to complete the job. With a pro, you could be looking at anything between $4,000 and $10,000 to replace pipes depending on parts, labor, and materials.

Home repair projects can get pricey and stressful, but if you start with a good plan, you can ensure that the process goes smoothly. Think about setting up a savings account specifically for home repairs and educating yourself on the loan process so you won’t be caught off guard, and always remember that when in doubt, it’s best to call a pro.

 

Lulu’s Bakery & Cafe

 

Just north of downtown is an adorable old fashioned bakery known for it’s THREE pound giant cinnamon rolls….but you also might enjoy their other menu items…excellent food and old fashioned food just like Mom made!  I loved the liver and onion plate!

It’s a real treat…..and open around the clock!  Visited with my daughter who also loved it!

918 North Main, San Antonio, Texas  78212Lulu Katie

Property Tax Bills in Texas

Did you buy or sell a house in Texas this year?

Your Texas property tax bill should arrive in the mail soon if it hasn’t already come.  Do some simple math and see if the credit was correct.

1. Take your current tax bill and divide it by 365. This gives you a per day rate.
2. Calculate the number of days between Jan 1st and your closing date on the settlement statement you have from your purchase.
3. Multiply the answer from #1 (what was actually owed)  with the answer from #2 (what you actually paid). This would be the tax proration based on current taxes.
4. Compare the answer in #3 to the credit or what you paid on the settlement statement.

If the current property taxes are higher than the proration done at closing, the buyer or seller may request the difference from the other party in writing per the paperwork you signed at closing.

If you bought or sold a house in 2018 check the new statement and compare what is owed versus what you paid or what you received.  If it is a substantial difference, contact the title company where you closed and ask them to verify what you have found and to help you contact the other party.  Remind them that part of the paperwork you signed when you bought or sold at the title company specifically states that if there is a difference the seller and buyer will work it out….but you need the title companies help to contact the other party.

Title companies use a third party company to order a tax certificate to determine what is owed when you sell a house but if the property value is a lot higher, exemptions are not transferred or calculated properly or if a mistake was made you can get assistance to ask for a refund.

We recently had a seller contact us because the settlement statement collected over $1500 in taxes that were not owed. Check your settlement statement.  It might be worth a few extra dollars in your pocket.

 

First Time Home Buyers

Schools

I’ve spent the last 30 days looking at houses for a first time home buyer….who is on a budget (aren’t most)?   We began by searching houses that had three bedrooms and two baths….and then quickly discovered that the elementary schools that matched up with those homes placed sometimes in the 4,000 range….out of 4,357 schools in Texas.  Should that matter?  Well….it might if you want your children to actually learn something while they attend classes….like this savvy Mom expected.

We then began searching for the best schools first….and quickly discovered that if you want to buy a house that has elementary AND middle schools that rank in the 500 or under range we had to spend more than she planned on spending…..AND be FIRST in the door with a strong prequalification letter in hand AND pray we were offering enough to get the seller to sign the offer immediately.

Of the 100 plus homes we viewed, took video’s of, FACETIMED and more…..days, weekends and nights consumed with searching for anything we might have missed…offers written on houses the seller’s assumed they didn’t need to repair to sell or homes out of state investors snapped up by taking them off the market for a week or so because they supposedly were buying with cash…we found success.

Even if the buyer hadn’t wanted good schools…..if you want a successful rental or a house that has potential to appreciate you should consider the schools.  Renters want great schools and will pay more rent for a school that ranks well….and homes tend to appreciate if they are located in areas with great schools.

One of the best sites I found for searching for school scores was SchoolDigger.  It also advertises homes on the site….but we found the homes they advertised were dated listings and not really available to buy….so use the site for school scores only.  A special note….new schools that were recently built might not show up on the site…..and a lot of new schools are being built in the San Antonio area.

If you’re considering buying a home to live in or for investment purposes, give me a call.  It’s hard work and long hours…….but I LOVE the end result…..finding the right house for YOU!

 

Towns Near San Antonio

Maybe you don’t want to live in a big city….even though living in San Antonio is like living in a small town to me since I seem to run into someone I know no matter where I am.  So many military folks like to retire here or maybe you’re finding the real estate seems to be getting too pricey in San Antonio proper and don’t mind a short commute, here are some possible choices:  New Braunfels, San Marcos, Floresville, Pleasanton, Boerne, Universal City, Schertz, Selma, La Vernia, Von Ormy, Castroville, Helotes, Canyon Lake, Spring Branch, Marion.

July 4th Fireworks

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Still trying to figure out what to do on July 4th? Here is a list of things to do:

Woodlawn Lake:  The City of San Antonio is hosting this huge party that begins at 8 am with Zumba classes, live music, dancing, carnival rides, bull riding, food vendors and more!

El Mercado: Freedom Fest at Market Square!  Musical acts, dancers, arts & crafts, shopping, restaurants…..who doesn’t love Market Square?

Red, White and Blue at the Pearl: looking for a more hip vibe?  It’s always cool at the Pearl!

Independence Day at the Alamo: Where real independence begins…why not hit downtown and check out the Alamo?

4th of July Jubilee in Schertz:  9 am to 10pm in Pickrell Park with live music at 5, food, vendors, games, rides, watermelon and pie eating contests….a true down home party! Schertz, Texas

Red, White & Buda: begins at 5 pm with fireworks at 9:30, Buda Sportplex, Buda, Texas

Kyle Independence Day: 6pm with fireworks at 9:30.  Plum Creek Golf Course, Kyle, Texas

July 4th Frontier Days:  10am parade, Fireworks at dark.  Old Settlers Park, Round Rock, Texas

Shopping in San Antonio

It’s no secret that I LOVE to shop….so here’s my list of where to spend your money when you visit beautiful San Antonio.

Downtown:

Shops at Rivercenter:  Enjoy a drink outside while others hit the pavement and SHOP!  Unique shops and high end shopping….something for all.  10AM to 9PM and 12AM to 6PM Sundays

Pearl Brewery: 200 East Grayson, 78215 Absolutely one of the coolest places to visit and includes the Culinary Institute and an Aveda School where you might be able to book a haircut and look even cooler when you leave!
My Favorite: Hotel Emma…..a fantastic spot for a cool drink!

LaVillita:  if you’re downtown, be sure to stroll through the cute shops in La Villita off the River Walk!  10 AM to 6PM and 11 AM to 4 PM Sundays.

My favorite: BesArte…..eclectic collection of American made crafts, jewelry and cool stuff! Super friendly staff and fabulous collections of fun stuff at great prices.

The Shops at La Cantera, 15900 La Cantera Parkway, 78256  An outside mall with lots of choices for food and drinks and upscale shopping.

My favorite: Neiman Marcus:  totally Texas upscale and fabulous with all the bells and whistles.  LOVE all the high end brands that include LOUIS VUITTON.  The make up counter has choices you wont usually get to see in person and the make-up professionals know their stuff.  10AM to 9PM and Sundays 12PM to 6PM.  Be sure to visit Mariposa, their restaurant with upscale cuisine served by a warm and welcoming staff.  Perfect for a light snack.  Restaurant hours:  11AM to 4PM and Sunday from 12PM to 4PM.

North Star Mall, 7400 San Pedro, 78216 This was the first place I learned how to drive my car to when I moved to San Antonio at 16….still a fabulous mall with lots of shops to get lost in.  It’s worth going to just to see the largest Cowboy Boots in Texas.  It’s indoors…so if the heat is getting to you, it’s a great spot to cool off and buy some new clothes!  10AM to 9PM and Sundays 12PM to 6PM

Artisans’ Alley:  555 Bitters Road, 78216  I fell in love with this spot at 18 when my best friends sister opened a shop in the alley…..its full of quirky shops including an antique shop with lovely treasures and even has a Painting with a Twist shop for painting fun.  Open 10AM to 6PM and Sundays from 1PM to 4PM.  My favorite:  Rhonda J’s Shoppe which features my favorite Annie Sloan paint and really cool Consuela bags that are a must have if you visit our city!

Homestead Handcrafts, 21518 Blanco Road, 78260 Love this place…..looking for unique gifts, handmade clothing, shabby chic furniture….they have it all.  It’s worth me visiting at least once a month to see what’s new.  10AM to 6PM and Sundays 12PM to 5PM.

SteinMart:  my favorite location is at 18134 San Pedro, 78232.  It’s hard to pass up their bargain priced high end shoes and clothing….and don’t forget the “bling” in the costume jewelry as they have some of the best finds in the city.  10AM to 9PM and Sundays 11AM to 6PM.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Distressed Pantry Door

 

Call me crazy…. I took a brand new door and made it look old!

I painted the outside with Annie Sloan Burgundy paint (3 coats) and the inside top panel was painted with black chalkboard paint.  David sanded it with an electric sander to make it smooth and to distress the edges….and then we wiped it down with Annie Sloan dark wax.  Online I found the Pantry Door stencil….and the door was rehung!

It seemed a little strange to take a brand new door and make it look old….but I love it.  And that’s all that matters, right?  What do you think?

 

Signs

Exit Sign

 

 

We’ve become a world full of signs…inside and outside OUR homes.

This is a sign we put on our gate that leads from our backyard to the tennis courts, pool and park. A reminder to us that we need to make sure we use all the wonderful facilities our beautiful neighborhood provides. Oh how blessed we are to live in Encino Park and the beautiful city of San Antonio.  Tennis, anyone?

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