The Toxin I Uncovered During My Basement Remodel

Author:

Publish Date:

Last Modified Date:

Category: Buying & Selling a Home

Tags: Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I grew up with the handiest dad in the entire neighborhood. When I was a kid, it felt like every six months there was a different room getting a facelift, ranging from completely renovating the kitchen to turning a small attic into our playroom.

This mentality rubbed off on me. Today, I’ve not only made improvements to my own home, but I’ve even taken on a few house flips in my spare time. However, the time and labor that goes into these projects shouldn’t be underestimated. My dad made it look easy, but there are always curve balls.

My Initial Purchase

For my past two house flips, I purchased bank-owned foreclosures. I found this process much easier than most people think, and it also typically leaves a nice cushion in your budget to invest in the renovation.

However, after renovating these homes, I was left with less of a profit than I initially calculated. This time around, I took a risk and bid on a home through a foreclosure auction. (The main difference between auction and bank-owned is that the homes at auction often are bid on sight unseen!) However, living in a rural part of New York, I have become familiar with the homes in the area and had a general sense of what I would be dealing with.

First Impressions

After finalizing the deal, I drove to the location with my husband and two children to get an initial look at our new property. As soon as we arrived, I began to see the potential that this home had to offer. A beautiful paint-chipped, white ranch that was constructed in the early 1950s. Set back on about an acre of land, all I could think was how perfect this home would be for a family to live and grow, with plenty of space for children to roam freely and enough privacy while having a central location near to highways, plazas, and our neighborhood.

We opened the front door to the main entrance with our fingers crossed, praying that the inside would be salvageable. Other than the extremely worn hardwood floors, everything was generally intact. Four bedrooms and two bathrooms, seemingly unscathed by the many cold winters that occurred over the years. Slight cracks ran the walls and almost everything was outdated, however, these changes would be minor, as I still wanted to ensure the home would maintain its timely character.

On the surface, our initial evaluation of the purchase was going well, briefly discussing our plans as we moved room to room. However, our luck was about to change as we descended the rickety steps into the basement.

The Monster in the Basement

As we entered the unfinished basement, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. It was a small space but could be used as an extra bedroom or guest room if it was finished. The drywall was cracked in multiple spots, exposing the insulation underneath. This initially concerned me, as given the age of the home I knew that the insulation could very well contain asbestos, a deadly carcinogen when exposed to humans. The basement was also very damp, which upon further inspection, it appeared that there was an abundance of mold along the ceiling.

The basement needed much more than a cosmetic lift.

Before we began any repairs, we had to have the home professionally inspected and tested, as we knew that the possibility of health risks was too high for us to begin renovating the basement.

Unfortunately, it seemed that our fears became a reality. Not only was there asbestos-containing insulation in the basement, but it was in other areas of the house as well! Flipping houses I’ve learned that asbestos was once a common additive in a variety of building materials, due to its unsurpassed resistance to heat. But asbestos was also found in our basement floor and ceiling tiles, somewhere I never expected a toxin to be present. While the mold was a quick fix for the abatement team, the insulation was the true task and a much larger undertaking.

A Delay in the Process

It took weeks for the insulation to be properly tested and eventually remediated. The time we could have spent renovating the home was used to break open a large percentage of the walls in the house by the remediation team and rid them of the dangerous material. Some spaces were left untouched, such as the attic, but this area was far too small for anyone to access.

The whole time our insulation was being replaced, the only thoughts I had were, what if they missed an area? What if there were asbestos fibers floating around without my knowledge? It was scary to think that we bit off more than we could chew with this flip. However, tests came back and our home was cleared for the projects we had planned.

Better to Be Safe Than Sorry

This home taught me the biggest lesson of all, no matter how big or small your home improvement project may be, it’s important to get your home checked out before you begin.

I’ve started doing this no matter what the quality of the house is.

With the bank-owned foreclosures, I was able to get an inspection done before the purchase. But with this most recent flip, I’m glad I had this done prior to breaking down any walls. The risks I could have put myself and my family in put a pit in my stomach, and it’s unfortunate that many of those who do these projects on their own unknowingly expose themselves to dangerous toxins. If you do decide to renovate your home by yourself, have it tested for all toxins.

And if you can’t complete the project on your own, consult a professional who can assist. Trust me.


Gina Wheeler is a content creator and freelance writer from New York. Beyond her obsession with interior design and home updating, Gina has a passion for the mind, body, and health excellence. Gina enjoys learning about the intricacies of the body including exercise, nutrition, and preventative care.

 

How to Sell a House: A Guide from A to Z

Author:

Publish Date:

Last Modified Date:

Category: Buying & Selling a Home

Tags: Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

If you’ve ever sold something on Craigslist, you probably know how much work even just that can be involved. You’ve gotta take photos of the item, figure out a good price, and then post it online with a descriptive caption and details about the piece. Afterward, you’ve gotta field the emails and calls, then wait for a random stranger to come pick up your item.

Now, take that process and multiply it by 100 … that’s what it’s like to sell a house!

We’re not gonna sugar coat it; there is a lot of work and serious effort involved in selling a home. That’s why we wrote this post to outline the entire process for you. Understanding what you’ll be doing is the first step towards slapping “SOLD” on the sign in your front yard.

Craft a Selling Gameplan

Once you decide to sell your house, you probably would like if it all happened pretty quickly. But nothing good happens without a plan. So the first order of business is to make a selling gameplan. This is what that looks like.

Agent or No Agent?

The first major step in the selling process is figuring out if you’re going to hire a professional real estate agent or sell your home yourself. If you go the “For Sale By Owner” route, you could, in theory, save some money. But if you’re new to the home selling process, you may be way over your head if you DIY it. Ask yourself if you have the time, knowledge and marketing skills to sell your house all by yourself. If you come away with a resounding yes, it could be the right move for you!

Though if you decide to go with an agent, take the time upfront to find a good one. Ask friends for referrals, read reviews online and interview more than one agent before you hire the winner. A good agent should educate you throughout the process, and it ultimately should be someone you deeply trust.

This post outlines tips on who to contact, when, and how to do it.

Choosing the Right Time

The best time to sell is March through June. That leaves parents an entire summer to get their kids adjusted and ready for the new school year. So if you can wait until the spring and early summer months, do it! It’s always best to avoid selling during winter and the holidays, as most people aren’t looking to buy homes during that busy time of year on average.

Find the Right Price

The first 30 days of activity are crucial when it comes to selling your house, so price matters. You may assume that you should start high and then lower your price if you don’t get any attention, but if it sits on the market for too long, your listing can become stale. Buyers may stay away if you price too high or assume that you’re not serious about selling. Price it right from the start and you’ll probably sell your home much faster.

If you’re using an agent, they will work with you to figure out the best price for your home. You can also research other comparable homes in your area, and maybe even attend some open houses. Plus, there are many online resources that will help you track down the perfect number for your area. These things will all get you a good feel for the market and how your home compares.

Prep Your Home

Painting the House

Before you can officially get your home on the market, you need to get it looking it’s very best. If you fail to make your home look presentable, then you may not get the asking price you’re looking for, or even worse … it could sit on the market for far too long. You need to showcase your home in its best light, and the only way to do that is with some hard work and effort. Here’s how to prep your home for the market:

De-Clutter and De-Personalize In Six Steps

This first task will cost you literally zero dollars. Yep, you can already make your home look 10 times better without spending a dime. Here’s how.

  • Find a spot where you can store items out of sight. That could be an attic space, shed, or even a storage unit that you rent while you’re selling.
  • Remove excess bulky furniture. The more space to walk around, the better.
  • Try to pare down at least 10% in each room. Gather extra accessories and items that are taking up space.
  • Permanently clear all counters in your kitchen. And try to get rid of most items on surfaces (i.e., desks, dressers, etc.).
  • Donate everything you clear. (Or add them to your designated storage spot.)
  • Remove any personal items from around your home. This means things like picture frames and family knickknacks.

These six steps will have your home looking so much more sellable. Your space will be lighter and brighter for the photography and showings later on! Don’t forget about closets and drawers too. Buyers are nosy, and they’ll be checking out every nook and cranny in your house.

Make Small Home Upgrades

You don’t necessarily need to renovate your kitchen or bathroom to sell your house, but there are small upgrades you can make to improve your home. Here are some ideas that will instantly improve the look of your space (and potential home value!).

  • Give your walls a fresh coat of paint. Be sure to consult this list of paint colors with the best resale value first!
  • Upgrade your kitchen on a dime. Swap cabinet hardware, replace your faucet, and add new pendants for a quick and budget-friendly new look!
  • Boost curb appeal with a painted door. This post will help you pick the perfect hue. (Also helpful is a cleaned up yard and fresh flowers.)

Finally, if something has been broken (and on your to-do list for years), now is obviously the time to fix it!

Clean From Top to Bottom

There’s another essential (but free) task you’re going to be doing to make your home look a lot better: cleaning everything! Grime and dust can quickly deter buyers from truly considering your home, so get every nook and cranny sparkling. These posts will help you channel your inner Mr. Clean.

Marketing Your Home

If you’ve gotten to this step, your home is in tip-top shape from all of your hard work and it’s ready for its debut to the world! Marketing your home is by far the most important step of the home selling process. You can have the most gorgeous house on the block, but if no one sees the listing it’s never going to sell.

Stage and Photograph Your Space

You’ve already prepped for the staging when you got rid of personal items and removed clutter. Good work, that’s 90% of the battle. Now it’s time to add the finishing touches before your home’s photo shoot.

Make sure every room is clean, all beds are made, and blinds are open to let that natural light in! (Natural light is ideal for photos.) It’s important to keep accessories to a minimum, but if you do want to add a few we suggest opting for plants and flowers. This post has lots of tips on how to do it right.

Pictures are the most important part of a home listing, so it’s crucial to get these right. If you don’t think you can DIY it, then hire a pro! Investing in a professional photographer could potentially be the biggest money spent to money gained ratio in the entire process. If you’re using an agent, often times they will pay for this service. A professional is always a good idea because they will know how to photograph your home to make it look its best.

If you’re selling your house yourself (or just want to save some money), it’s possible to take your own pics. We suggest using a wide-angle lens, shooting during the daytime, and using a tripod. For more DIY photography tips, check out this post.

Promote Your Sale

Don’t solely rely on your agent to promote your listing. You can take some of the marketing efforts into your own hands and broadcast your sale to the world! Put your listing on social media sites, email your friends and family, and let neighbors know that you’re selling. You never know who might be looking to buy, so it’s worth it to use your own network to get the word out. Here are some of the most common sites people use for listing and/or real estate research:

Bring on the Showings

Simply put, homes that don’t get shown don’t get sold. So the first order of business is to make your home available for showings. That could mean a few open houses on the weekends and availability during the week. We highly recommend that you leave the house during showings so buyers can really feel comfortable checking out your space. It may be an inconvenience for you and your family, but remember that it’s only temporary!

You’ll also want to do these 10 things before any open house to get your home looking (and smelling) its best!

Keep It Clean

It’s hard to live in your home like a normal person and keep it ready for showings at all times. But you’ve gotta do your best to keep your home clean and organized. Whenever you leave the house, tidy up and wipe down all of your countertops. That way if you need to have a last-minute showing, your home is ready to go.

Get Everyone Out of the House

It’s important for buyers to check out an empty house. So that means that you, your kids, and any animals should make a plan to high-tail it out of there. That could mean taking the dog for a long walk or heading over to a friend’s house for the day. But no matter what, come up with a plan for where your family will go when those last-minute showings happen. And if you do have pets, be sure to remove their items (e.g., dog bowls, cat litter, etc.) from the home before buyers come in.

How To Get Ready For Closing

If you’ve made it this far, then congrats! You’re almost to the finish line. Here’s what happens now:

Appraisal and Inspection Time

After the listings and showings, you will (hopefully!) get an offer on your place. After you’ve accepted an offer, most buyers will do an inspection of your place within a week. You won’t need to be there for the inspection, and you’ll usually have the results within a few days. At that time, you’ll know if all went well, if you need to fix a few items yourself, or if you’ll offer the buyers a credit to fix things themselves.

Here’s our full guide for how to deal with a home inspection.

Next, it’s time for the appraisal. Appraisals usually happen within a week of the home inspection. You can do some homework before the appraisal to improve the chances of getting a higher price. Provide a list of recent home improvements and receipts to explain the value you’ve added to your home.

The results of the appraisal may take a few weeks. If your home appraises, you’re good to go! If not, you’ll have to negotiate with the buyer to find a price that works for all parties.

Prep to Move

After the appraisal, you’ll be on track for closing day. You can finally start to pack things up and get ready to move out of your home. This would be a good time to think about hiring some help for moving day. It’s also time to start packing! This handy checklist will keep you on task so you stay organized and on top of your move.

Get Help Loading Your Truck

See prices for movers by the hour – instantly.

Read real customer reviews.

Easily book your help online.

 

Saying Goodbye to Your Home

Congrats, you sold your house! All that’s left to do is say goodbye and toast to all of the memories made in your place. As a bonus, you can also leave your buyers a little gift as you head out (like a booklet of your favorite restaurants or just a note with tips on their new house). It’s a great way to hand off your past experiences to the new homeowners. Onward!

×

I'm Moving

Moving? Thinking about moving? Whether your move is off in the distance or you already have one foot out the door, you'll learn about everything you should expect through our useful how-to's, cool articles and much more. It's all specially curated for you in our "I'm Moving" section.
Explore
×

I'm a Mover

For rookies or veterans alike, our "I'm a Mover" section is filled with extensive industry news, crucial protips and in-depth guides written by industry professionals. Sharing our decade of moving knowledge is just one way we help keep our professional movers at the top of their game.
Explore