How to Hire a Contractor TOH general contractor Tom Silva explains what to look for when hiring a pro for your remodel,,20672091,00.html

TOH general contractor Tom Silva tells host Kevin O’Connor how homeowners should evaluate a potential contractor before hiring him or her to work on a house.

• Check at least three references
• Confirm the contractor’s license and insurance
• Make sure the contractor has the resources to complete the job on time
• Look for a contractor who’s compatible with you

7 Smart Strategies for Kitchen Remodeling

Homeowners spend more money on kitchen remodeling than on any other home improvement project. And with good reason: Kitchens are the hub of home life and a source of pride.

A significant portion of kitchen remodeling costs may be recovered by the value the project brings to your home. A complete kitchen renovation with a national median cost of $60,000 recovers about 67% of the initial project cost at the home’s resale, according to the “2015 Remodeling Impact Report” from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

The project gets a big thumbs-up from homeowners, too. Those polled in the “Report” gave their new kitchen a Joy Score of 9.8 — a rating based on those who said they were happy or satisfied with their remodeling, with 10 being the highest rating and 1 the lowest.

To maximize your return on investment, follow these seven strategies to keep you on budget and help you make smart choices.

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1. Plan, Plan, Plan

Planning your kitchen remodel should take more time than the actual construction. If you plan well, the amount of time you’re inconvenienced by construction mayhem will be minimized. Plus, you’re more likely to stay on budget.

How much time should you spend planning? The National Kitchen and Bath Association recommends at least six months. That way, you won’t be tempted to change your mind during construction and create change orders, which will inflate construction costs and hurt your return on investment.

Some tips on planning:

Study your existing kitchen: How wide is the doorway into your kitchen? It’s a common mistake many homeowners make: Buying the extra-large fridge only to find they can’t get it in the doorway. To avoid mistakes like this, create a drawing of your kitchen with measurements for doorways, walkways, counters, etc. And don’t forget height, too.

Think about traffic patterns: Work aisles should be a minimum of 42 inches wide and at least 48 inches wide for households with multiple cooks.

Design with ergonomics in mind: Drawers or pull-out shelves in base cabinets; counter heights that can adjust up or down; a wall oven instead of a range: These are all features that make a kitchen accessible to everyone — and a pleasure to work in.

Related: Test Your Ergonomic Design Knowledge

Plan for the unforeseeable: Even if you’ve planned down to the number of nails you’ll need in your remodel, expect the unexpected. Build in a little leeway for completing the remodel. Want it done by Thanksgiving? Then plan to be done before Halloween.

Choose all your fixtures and materials before starting: Contractors will be able to make more accurate bids, and you’ll lessen the risk of delays because of back orders.

Don’t be afraid to seek help: A professional designer can simplify your kitchen remodel. Pros help make style decisions, foresee potential problems, and schedule contractors. Expect fees around $50 to $150 per hour, or 5% to 15% of the total cost of the project.

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Keep the same footprint
Get real about appliances
Don’t underestimate the power of lighting
Be quality-conscious
Add storage, not space
Communicate clearly with your remodelers

John_Riha John Rihahas written seven books on home improvement and hundreds of articles on home-related topics. He’s been a residential builder, the editorial director of the Black & Decker Home Improvement Library, and the executive editor of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. Follow John on Google+.

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landscaping plants around house yard

Best Foundation Plants for Stellar Curb Appeal

Plantings that ring the base of your home should do more than just conceal the foundation. Here, foolproof planting tips to boost your curb appeal

8 DIY Projects To Beautify Your Backyard Create a Backyard Oasis with these Tips

This DIY is not as tough as it sounds. As long as you’ve got the flat, dry outdoor space, concrete blocks or pavers, and about 3 hours to spend, you can add an outdoor feature that will ensure warm happy nights and lovely afternoon BBQ’s this season. (Directions here) the weather warms up, you can’t help but daydream about spring evenings relaxing outdoors and summer nights filled with star gazing and bonfires. Since we couldn’t help it either, we rounded up some of the most exquisite outdoor living features to inspire your warm-weather upgrades. The best part? All of these are completely DIY!

How to build your own firepit (A fan favorite for homeowners who love to entertain!)



How to make a teapot fountain


Bubbling fountains and streaming water features are an excellent way to give your outdoor areas some rich ambiance and a pleasant soundtrack. You can turn vintage containers and pots into adorable water features with a fountain pump and some tubes, like this sweet pouring tea pot. (Here’s how to make it)

First-Time Home Buyer Mistakes

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Rooms That Perfectly Embody Farmhouse Style From bedrooms to kitchens, these simple and rustic rooms inspire.

Coldwell Banker Bain Tacoma Main (Tacoma)

Coldwell Banker branch is top seller

Coldwell Banker Bain|Seal said it led the Northwest in luxury house sales in 2015 and was the top Coldwell Banker affiliate in sales volume. Sales totaled $6 billion, including several houses that sold for more than $10 million. There are more than 3,000 Coldwell Banker affiliates in 49 countries. Coldwell Banker Bain|Seal said 11 Pacific Northwest offices earned the premier office designation, which is determined by sales volume and commissions.

Buyers Want You: Why NOW is the best time to sell a house in decades!


“Why?” you ask. Call it the perfect storm of Buyers, Money and Inventory.

  1. With unemployment rates falling, more young people with good jobs and steady incomes are eager to ditch the security of mom and dad’s basement and move into a home of their own. Renters previously shut out of the market and facing rising rents also see an improving economy as a good time to dip a toe in the house-hunting waters. Buyers, particularly first-timers, are back, and after years of pent-up demand, they are ready to pull the trigger when they find the right property.
  2. Historically low mortgage rates continue to tempt buyers. Meantime, many lenders have eased their borrowing criteria, making it possible to secure a loan. Lenders are backing mortgages with down payments as low as 3.5% and are offering conventional loans with 5% down. Here’s more good news: Borrowers with less than perfect credit histories have reason to cheer. FICO scores are now looked at more favorably than the 800 range scores would-be buyers needed during the recession.
  3. Low inventory persist. In the Pierce County area, inventory of homes available for sale fell below a three month supply. Typically, available inventory would be closer to six months’ worth. With so few houses on the market, sellers in many areas stand to do well if their homes are priced right.

So, if you are on the fence about selling your house, now’s the time to step off. Demand is three times stronger than it was a year ago. But this alignment of stars now favoring sellers may not last. Home prices are already cooling off and new listings hit the market every month. If you snooze, you might lose.

Coldwell Banker Bain, Blue Matter blog

Call Leslie Swindahl for all your real estate needs and I love Referrals too.

Cell: 253-312-0447 and


7 Quick and Easy Home Tips to Read Before You Begin Spring Cleaning

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Before you break out your bucket, mop and gloves take a look at these 7 tips.

Guest Post by Andrea Davis

If you’re like many homeowners, you probably have a spring-cleaning routine. But wouldn’t it be nice to streamline your routine with a few quick-and-easy cleaning tips? Use these seven cleaning hacks to speed up your spring cleaning.

1. Refresh your fabrics.

Strip and wash all of your bedding, including your pillows. If you have foam pillows, avoid washing them. Instead, replace your foam pillows every six months to ensure your bedding is properly cleaned. Also, make sure to wash or dry-clean your draperies.

2. Beat your area rugs.

Over time, rugs collect disgusting amounts of dirt. Take all of your area rugs outside for an old-fashioned beating. If possible, hang them over a railing or clothesline to air them out.

3. Scrub your bathroom.

Wash your bath mats, shower curtains and curtain liners using color-safe bleach. Next, pay some attention to your bathtub. Scrub your tub with a sponge or brush to get rid of any grease or mineral buildup.

4. Organize your home.

Getting rid of clutter is the fastest way to give your home an organized look. Take note of the unnecessary items in each room of your home and throw them out. If you need help with cutting clutter, consider hiring a home organizer.

5. Spruce up your kitchen.

Begin with your refrigerator. Get rid of rotten or expired food and wash the inside of your fridge thoroughly. A deep clean will eliminate odors and have your refrigerator looking fresh. Next, focus on the rest of your kitchen. Wipe down your counters, sinks, cooktops and cabinet doors. Don’t forget to check your spice cabinet for expired goods. If cleaning your kitchen seems overwhelming, call a cleaning service

6. Deep vacuum your carpets.

Spring is the perfect time to clean your carpets. Use vacuum extensions to get into small spaces. If your vacuum can’t reach certain debris, have your carpets professionally cleaned. A professional carpet cleaning will cost about $175.

7. Clean your closets.

Take the time to empty your linen closet, pantry, coat closet and any other additional storage spaces. Remove the first few rows of items and look for outdated and unwanted possessions. You can also use the four-box method (put away, give away, sell, store) to get rid of unnecessary items.

For a fresh-and-clean look in your home, set aside a few hours for some quick housekeeping. Then, sit back and enjoy the results of your efforts!

Andrea Davis is the editor at HomeAdvisor, which connects homeowners with home improvement professionals in their area for free. Connect with Andrea on Google+

Lindsay is the Senior Manager of Media Engagement for Coldwell Banker Real Estate and is a licensed real estate agent. She was born and raised in New Jersey and just bought her first home in Livingston, where she grew up. When Lindsay isn’t busy facebooking, tweeting or instagramming she is enjoying life with her husband Joe and cat Rory. She enjoys binging on Netflix, cooking and Zumba.

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