Everyone wants to use the AC, but nobody wants to pay for the bill. Here are some tips on how to get full use of your AC while being able to save big on the bill.
Everyone wants to use the AC, but nobody wants to pay for the bill. Here are some tips on how to get full use of your AC while being able to save big on the bill.
A beautiful 3 bedroom 2722 sq foot waterfront home.
Private home in Las Posas estates with pool. Single story with 4 car garage.
1. GET REAL ABOUT YOUR BUDGET.
The primary source of conflict and melodrama in the building process is budget. Set your number, and then listen. If you have a reputable builder or contractor, trust him or her to tell you what things cost. And don’t get stuck on the cost-per-square-foot metric. “When a client comes in clutching a printout from Houzz and his estimation of what something costs per square foot, a whole education process needs to begin,” builder Michael Munir of Sharif & Munir says, “and we start with the myth of square-footage computations.” If you are building or remodeling, know what you can afford to spend. Start there, and have your builder and architect walk you through your options and explain how real-time costs are established.
2. SELECT YOUR TEAM.
In a perfect world, you would have your architect, builder, designer, landscape architect, and lawyer* on board and in place before you’ve even selected the site of your new home. Why do you need the whole team there from the beginning? Each individual will be looking out for your needs from a different vantage point. This is crucial as you choose the property upon which you’re building. Your team will take things like sun orientation, zoning, setbacks, area-coverage restrictions, and height restrictions into consideration while you’re going on and on about how “pretty” the views are. Once you decide on a lot, your team can come together to create detailed plans. On the cost side, it is your builder who will produce and oversee your budget.
*Some people were less enthusiastic about the need for lawyer involvement at any time.
3. GET REAL ABOUT WHAT YOU NEED.
In an age of Houzz.com and Pinterest, a list of wants versus needs can become very confusing. Those all-steel windows that “everyone” has could cost you $100,000. You might go with aluminum-clad or wood windows to save. The concrete floors that you think are so cool? Perhaps you’ll opt for something a little more user-friendly like porcelain tiles. Your old furniture could be an issue. Consider the immense size of Aunt Edna’s dining-room table or that seven-seater sofa. Art collections need lighting and wall space defined. Your team will work with you to devise a personalized plan that incorporates all of your lifestyle needs ranging from that fridge in the garage to closet space. “We have clients who come in and say, ‘We need 6,000 square feet.’ But they’re in 4,500 square feet now, and there are rooms they’re not using,” Bruce Bernbaum of Bernbaum-Magadini Architects says. “Sometimes they have a gigantic list, but their budget doesn’t allow them to have everything. So if they want a library, office, and dining room, we may have to do some combining — bookcases in the dining room, for example. We try to validate their wants, and show them how it might all work in 4,500 square feet.”
4. GET REAL ABOUT THE BUDGET AGAIN.
Have we mentioned how important it is to get real about your budget? Because sometimes, even the most business-savvy people lose their minds when it comes to building their dream homes. Don’t play games with your builder. The idea that saying, “our budget is X,” while meanwhile squirreling away Y is not smart. A smaller stated budget will not get you more for the buck. If you have a good builder, he or she will be completely transparent. Builders and architects design to a number; let your team know what your numbers are so they can design to it. And don’t forget to budget for landscape and interior furnishings. “A lot of times, those outdoor spaces cost more than your air-conditioned areas,” builder Bob Thompson of Bob Thompson Homes says.
So figure out your money situation, and be realistic about costs. Most builders have an entry level for pricing, and they can direct you to vendors who will help you stay on budget. Some costs for items like framing or foundation simply are what they are. “The house is going to cost what it costs. If you find a dramatically cheaper bid on a house, then chances are, that guy is leaving something out,” builder Mickey Munir of Sharif & Munir says.
5. GET REAL ABOUT THE TIMELINE.
Nobody loves reality television more than we do, but HGTV has done a disservice when it comes to our expectations about how long it takes to get things done on a construction site. Spoiler alert: Your house is not going to be built in three days. Your backyard will not be done in an afternoon. “People have preconceived ideas about how simple and easy everything will flow. They think, ‘Oh, it’s not difficult.’ But it’s always a process,” landscape architect Glenn Bonick of Bonick Landscaping says.
Bottom line, no matter what you see on Property Brothers, with construction comes delays. If you’re dead set on putting in that basement, you’re going to add time (and money and headaches due to probable problems with soil depending on your neighborhood). If you insist on limestone walls, be mindful that you’re at the mercy of that quarry down in Granbury. If production shuts down for some reason, then there’s nothing to load on the truck to head your way. Even acts of God like weather can put you behind. If you know to expect delays and a few momentary setbacks, your experience will be smoother and saner throughout.
6. COMMUNICATE ABOUT EVERYTHING.
You have selected people who are knowledgeable and great listeners. It is up to you to stay engaged and in the loop. Establish communication patterns. Attend team meetings on a regular, predetermined basis. Ask questions. Utilize technology—many builders have special websites or apps that outline the plan and keep track of progress. Text and e-mail your builder as necessary; it’s great for quick decisions and creates a record of your interaction. Insist on transparency. Look at the invoices and keep track of costs. Also, if you’re a person who lives by the credo of William James—“If you can change your mind, you can change your life”—good for you. But in the home-construction realm, that mindset is also going to change your bottom line. “Every time you make a change, you’re going to want to see the new price and how the schedule will change,” builder Mark Danuser of Tatum Brown Custom Homes says. Planning well and carefully is key.
7. MEET THE PRESS.
Once you and your team have completed a project that has surpassed your every dream and expectation, sing its praises from your stylish lanai. Shout about your new rooftop from your new rooftop. And then invite the editors of D Home over so we can see your lovely and amazing new home. We like to sing and shout, too.
DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
DIVISION OF CODES AND STANDARDS
2020 W. EI Camino Avenue, Suite 200, Sacramento, CA 95833
P.O. Box 1407, Sacramento, CA 95812-1407
(916) 445-9471/ FAX (916) 263-5348
From TOO Phones 1-800-735-2929
February 4, 2016
INFORMATION BUllETIN 2016-01 (MH, FBH, SHl, MP/SOP, RT, Ol)
TO: City and County Building Officials
Mobilehome and Special Occupancy Park Enforcement Agencies
SUBJECT: TINY HOMES
This Information Bulletin is intended to clarify the legality of use, design and construction approval of any residential structure that may be commonly referred to as a tiny home. Currently, neither the Department of Housing and Community Development (“HCD”) nor any other state or local agency has specific statutory or regulatory definition authority of construction approval for tiny homes as a specialty product. These structures, which may range anywhere from 80 to 400 square feet in size, may be built with a variety of standards or no construction standards; may or may not be constructed on a chassis (with or without axles or wheels); and are usually offered for use and placement in a variety of sites. It is the purpose of this Information Bulletin to describe when a tiny home fits the definition of one of the following: recreational vehicle (including park trailer), manufactured home, factory-built housing, or a site-constructed California Building Standards Code dwelling and therefore would be legal to occupy.
As residential structures, tiny homes must receive one of several types of state or local government approvals prior to occupancy, depending on the design of the structure and the location of its installation. While HCD supports efforts to make housing more affordable and efficient, state laws mandate that residential structures meet state standards. Failure to comply with these statutory requirements results in the tiny home being a noncomplying residential structure in which occupancy is illegal and is subject to punitive action by the appropriate enforcement agency, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”).
In order to be occupied, a tiny home must comply with the standards of, and be approved as one of the following types of structures:
The approving agency will vary depending upon whether the tiny home is located inside or outside of a mobilehome park or special occupancy park…
RVs manufactured on or after July 14, 2005, must be constructed in accordance with the NFPA 1192 standard. Compliance with these standards can be determined by an owner-provided label or insignia similar to those issued by the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) that is permanently affixed to the RV. However, an insignia issued exclusively by RVIA is not required (HSC §18027.3). For more information regarding RVIA certification, see http://www.rvia.org/.
Unless otherwise allowed by a local ordinance, RVs generally may be occupied only in
mobilehome parks or special occupancy parks governed by the Mobilehome Parks Act (“MPA”).
Enforcement and Prosecution
If a structure called a tiny home or similar name is sold, offered for sale, leased, rented or occupied as a residential structure which does not comply with the standards for any of the units described above, the enforcement authority having appropriate jurisdiction (as described above) is responsible for pursuing the appropriate legal remedies to terminate the sales, rentals or occupancies. The enforcement agency may initiate actions under the authorities listed previously and/or any other authority it has to abate the sale or occupancy of unpermitted structures including, but not limited to, the following:
If you have any questions regarding tiny homes as they relate to this Information Bulletin, please contact the Manufactured Housing Program at (916) 445-3338 or by email to either Cesar.Ponce@hcd.ca.gov or MitcheI.Baker@hcd.ca.gov.
Read the full notice: http://files.ctctcdn.com/4d29178d401/ddccfe12-c56f-48cf-8ed9-8bbec86bb521.pdf
Even though many people are buying less expensive housing these days, you might be very tempted to buy a bigger house. I can understand that. Interest rates are ridiculously low and real estate prices seem to be just bottoming out. I recently wrote a post explaining that most people are far better off buying real estate rather than renting. I believe that with every cell of my body. If that is true, wouldn’t it also be true that owning more real estate (in the form of a larger house) is better than owning less? The argument has merit.
But before you whip out your check book and call Moshe’s Movers, chill out. Even ifyou can af ford the new house, I suggest you pause. While there are a few good reasons to move into larger digs, there are plenty of reasons why you should maintain as small a footprint as possible.
There are only three good reasons to move into a larger home:
1. Current Home Way too Small
One of the worst decisions I ever made was to buy a house that was really affordable but way too small for our family. My wife tried to tell me this before we bought the house. But of course the financial advisor expert in me took over and prevailed. Within a year we all agreed that we better move before one of us ends up on the 5 o’clock news.
That was very expensive because real estate prices had increased over that year and of course we had to pay the commissions and the movers and all that fun stuff. Drag. If you are in a house that doesn’t fit your family and you can afford a bigger house, I suggest you do it. Now is a great time for you to upgrade.
2. Current Home Way too Far
Just like living in a cramped space, living in a bad location can be a downer. If you are moving anyway, why not trade up a little? Again, assuming you can afford the upgrade, go for it. No reason why you shouldn’t.
3. Extra Costs of New Home Are Irrelevant
If you want a bigger home because you want a bigger home and you can easily pay the higher freight, it might be OK to go for it. This can be really tricky however.
One of my friends bought a huge house overlooking the valley when he was at the peak of his career. He spent a ton of money on a huge mansion and was very happy there – for a while.
Eventually he decided that he wanted to change his lifestyle. He realized that if he downsized, he could actually retire early and live very comfortably. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to realize his dream. The house is worth much less now than when he bought it. As a result, he’s stuck with the larger house, the very high upkeep and a lifestyle he’s dying to change.
To summarize, there are only 3 reasons you should buy a bigger home. Notice that I didn’t include buying a larger estate as a way to increase your real estate investments. While I do think it’s generally a good time to invest in property, the best way to do this is by owning rentals in the right market. Rentals provide income. Your residence doesn’t. Buying a bigger house as an investment might work out for you but it’s far riskier than buying good rentals.
Never buy a house you can’t easily afford. With the uncertain financial times we live in, it’s not unheard of to suffer big financial reversals. If heaven forbid you encounter such a situation (such as losing your job), the last thing you want to do is to lose your house too. People underestimate what it really costs to own a home. When you upgrade to a larger house all of the following bills go up substantially:
a. Mortgage Payments (duh)
f. Décor and Furnishings (You’ll probably have to buy all new furniture when you move. At the very least, you’ll have to buy more furniture to fill up that castle you just bought).
g. Landscaping and grounds
Even if you think you can afford the new house please confirm it. Take a few minutes and crunch the numbers to be sure.
As I mentioned above, once you commit to real estate – especially if it’s your residence – it’s difficult and expensive to make a change. Consider how your circumstances might change over the years ahead.
Think of my friend who wanted to reinvent his life but couldn’t because he was trapped by the large home he owned and couldn’t sell.
My wife and I bought a pretty nice house in LA when our kids were younger. Before we knew it, 2 of them were in college and out of the house. We really don’t need that big house any more. I’m not saying it was a mistake to buy the house originally (12 years ago) but it would be a mistake for us to buy a bigger house now.
This is true even though it would be easier for us to afford a larger home now that two of the kids are almost done with college. There is no reason for us to buy a larger home so we aren’t doing so. Having a very affordable home gives us lots of freedom and peace of mind.
If you tie up lots of money in your residence you incur an opportunity cost. The money you put in as a down payment is money you can’t invest elsewhere. Maybe there are better alternatives that you can’t take advantage of because you haven’t got the scratch. And remember that more of your monthly income goes towards the house payment. That’s money you can’t invest for your retirement. It’s also money you can’t use to travel or have fun doing other things with.
Real estate presents a wonderful opportunity right now. I’m a big fan. If you are thinking of taking advantage of the present circumstances to buy a larger home, it could be a really smart move. Just make sure you do this with your eyes wide open and do it for the right reasons.
Are you thinking of buying a larger home now? Why or why not?