Real Estate Checklist

Construct with Care – a “Real” Real Estate Checklist

Property prices are typically built upon a set of factors that are determined by local real estate market conditions as opposed to national market trends. It’s no secret that a cape cod home in suburban California is going to fetch a far higher price than the exact same property situated in a rural Midwest location.

Market variables are constantly changing, but certain components are often used in the construction of a property’s price:

Foundation: Value of nearby homes – When a property is appraised, one of the factors which plays a major role in the final valuation is what similar-sized homes are selling for in the neighborhood.

The price of a 2,400 square-foot home with four bedrooms and two baths may be affected if a similar home across the street just sold last week. If the sale was closed at a higher than anticipated price, it would not be surprising to see an increased price on the home across the street.

The opposite is true as well. If the home across the street sold for a low price, the property still on the market may not be able to command its original asking price.

Framework: Size of property – This is evaluated by lot size and the home’s number of bedrooms, baths, and total square footage. “Additional” square footage, such as a partially finished basement or an enclosed porch, are secondary to the main living space.        Fixtures: Number of improvements (structures) – The home is the primary improvement on the property. Other structures might include a detached garage, storage shed, barn, workshop, greenhouse or poolhouse.

Beyond the home itself, if additional structures on the property are in good shape, they can enhance a property’s value. Conversely, if a garage is in dilapidated condition, it can detract from a home’s selling price.

Walls: Condition of property – How does the home look on the inside? Is it bright, airy and comfortable with newer plumbing and electrical wiring? Is it a freshly constructed home that will sell the minute it hits the listings? Or perhaps it is a 50-year-old home with a 50-year-old bathroom and kitchen that have never been updated.

In the big picture, appraisals are generally based on actual square footage, rather than décor details. But the interior’s appearance will influence the home’s value in prospective buyers’ eyes.

Topping: Amenities – Features beyond the property’s size, condition and improvements can affect real estate pricing. Common “extras” can include kitchen island, built-in dishwasher, fireplace, hot tub and walk-in closets.

Amenities are not limited to a home’s interior. Has the yard been professionally landscaped? Is the garage detached or attached? Is there a deck on the front or back of the house?

Sometimes what one person regards as a plus can be viewed as an obstacle to someone else. For instance, some sellers are convinced that an in-ground pool enhances their property’s value. What they may not realize is that a pool can be perceived as a problem to certain buyers, who may not want the maintenance or safety responsibilities that a pool requires.

The correct approach is to try to contemplate how the majority of buyers will feel about every “extra” on the property.

Finishing Touches: Curb appeal — Here is a factor that is sometimes overlooked because so much of the real estate pricing process is fixated in factual information. From a buyer’s perspective, a home’s curb appeal can motivate them to get out of the car, or just keep on driving.

The way a property looks from the street can be a crucial element in determining what a buyer will pay. It should emanate an element of warmth that invites prospective buyers and investors to walk through the home’s front door.

Extras: There are a myriad of other elements that can also affect real estate pricing. Sometimes they are foreseeable, other times they are not recognized until after the fact:

* Trees can be a negative influence if they are too mature and located too close to the house. Trees can also be a plus if a buyer wants a closer connection to nature.

* Nearby main thoroughfares can be a plus for someone who wants to get to work quickly or ride public transportation. Busy streets can be a detriment to others who worry about vehicular noise or crossing the road safely.

* A wood-burning stove could be desirable to certain-minded individuals, who might perceive it as a value. There are other individuals who might be concerned about having one in their home.

* Swimming pool – Here’s something that can either enhance a home’s value or detract from it, depending on the buyers’ preferences. If the buyer wants a swimming pool with the home, it can be a plus. If the buyer really likes the home, but does not want a pool, it can be a deal-breaker.

Fortunately, no matter how a real estate price is constructed, it can always be rebuilt to adapt to the conditions that guide the market.

Building Construction

Do it Yourself Tips and Tricks for Building Construction

Every building construction trade has its share of useful tricks that make life easier, and the job go faster! Here are a few gems I’ve learned through the years.

Making a 90 degree angle, or squaring a large area.

Every now and then you find yourself needing to make sure that the project you are working on is square. You might be building a deck, laying a concrete pad, or building a wall that you want square to another wall. If the area is bigger than you’re framing square how do you square it?

Use the 3-4-5 rule. A simple but very effective way of measuring a right triangle that works in any size as long as those increments are used. You can use 3x4x5, 30x40x50, or 300x400x500 inches or feet, the results will remain the same.

Measure over three feet, then four feet down, and finally close off the triangle by marking where a five foot line stretched from the outer end of either mark intersects the opposite angle at its far end. You just drew a right triangle.

You may have to adjust one of the legs of the triangle until the ends of the measurements meet to form the right triangle. A great thing for any do-it-yourself type to know!

Finding plumb

There are times when you may need to find a plumb line straight down from ceiling to floor with no wall or other guide. A plumb bob, or a string with a pointed weight used to be the best way to do this, but now we have laser levels to work with! Simply set the level in place (as long as it is a self leveling model) and mark the floor or ceiling where needed. For most do-it-yourself types the laser level is an expensive toy that would not get used much.

The plumb bob is more patience intensive but still works. Keep the bob just above the floor and wait until it stops swinging, then either mark the floor, or if you need to find that spot on the ceiling move the string around until you find your spot on the floor with the plumb bob as still as you can manage. Small circles are ok as long as the mark is in the center. It helps to have two people when using this over longer distances.

The angle finder

A great device for matching angles needed to cut pieces to fit an angle. It usually has two arms and a lock nut to hold whatever angle you measured so that you can transfer it to your work piece.


Dividers come in many styles and sizes, but they all do the same basic thing, they draw circles. Dividers can be used to mark off specific distances by walking them, find the center of a work piece by making an arc from each side, and drawing a straight line between the two outer points where the arcs meet, and even draw… a circle.

However, if you need a really large curve or circle, a string attached to a stake or nail with a pencil attached to the other end will work wonders.

Finding level

Levels come in many shapes, and each one has its own uses. A nine inch torpedo level is a handy item to have around and a magnetic one is perfect for certain things, but it is not a good idea to try leveling a large surface with one when a four or six foot level would give much more accurate results.

A line level is necessary when a string line needs to be level, and no other level is going to take its place in a pinch. They hook right onto the string, they are small, and they are cheap.

A graduated level is used for plumbing work and have marks to set the fall or drop of the pipe without having to constantly measure it, water after all does not flow uphill unless under pressure.

Laser levels are handy once again in certain places and can save you a great deal of time in many applications.

Home improvement is an ever present reality for most home owners, and knowing these tricks and special tools can make a world of difference when you really need one as any do-it- yourself home owner knows!