Home Inspection Tips and Dips: Inspecting a foreclosure home – Location, Location, Location…

Home Inspection Tips and Dips: Inspecting a foreclosure home – Location, Location, Location….

New updates on “People, Places & Things LLC” web site. We’re moving…

Well not everything however…

Due to the continue upgrades and updates within People, Places & Things LLC as a “unique home solution”, we have divided our design business and home inspection business. For now on, any “Home Inspection, Home Modification or HUD 203K Consultant” information, news, blogs and other things “home services” can now be access at our new web site:


All things “design” will still be on this site and in the near future, look for more new and useful content on all things design.

More exciting changes are coming very soon. Enjoy.

New updates on “People, Places & Things LLC” web site

I have gave my web site a modest update so I can give you more product content for you to perused and use. On the “Design Service” link, I added a picture gallery on some of my design work. On the “Home Service” side, I cleaned up some items from the last update in March 2012. As far a Blogging goes, look for fresh content on various topics starting in September 2012.  Please I invited you to kick the tires and give me some feed back on what you see. More exciting updated are coming by the end of the month. Please click on the home link page to get started.

New updates on “Home Services”

Happy 2012.

We have updated our “Home Services” site so we can give you more product content for you to perused and use. Please kick the tires and please give me some feed back on what you see. More exciting updated are coming. Please visit us at:


Is your home “Aging-In-Place” ready?

Editors Note…
Part 4 is the final in the series: “Is your home “Aging-In-Place” ready?” Please comment if you have any questions and comments and please enjoy the blog.

Part 4 – Credit, credit and more credit

When we started this case study, I’ve talk about staying in your home as a viable solution. Design solutions, neighborhoods settings, etc… plays a vital part in the decision to stay. However, financial institutions have tightened the credit requirements for everyone and made property values decline. Let’s talk about the types of financing that is currently out there and how we can get access to it.

FHA, personal financing and reverse mortgage.

In order to get the loan so we can get the project started, we have start with what the client should have. The client should have at least 20% saved in their personal finances to used for a down payment for the loan. Look at this stat:

According to the Census Bureau, only 11.6 percent of Americans moved to a new residence between spring 2010 and spring 2011; the next lowest number was 11.9 percent in 2008. With home prices depressed and credit tight, Americans are less able to sell their existing homes at a profit or secure financing for a new home. That’s one of the reasons the client needs 20% down. The banks are not loaning monies like they use to. Now let’s look at the traditional financing…


An FHA insured loan is a Federal Housing Administration mortgage insurance backed mortgage loan which is provided by a FHA-approved lender. Most of us used this track to get refinancing so we can do remodeling or additions so we can stay in their home. Secondary financing, the Federal National Mortgage Association, commonly known as Fannie Mae, it is a government-sponsored enterprise. The corporation’s purpose is to expand the secondary mortgage market by securitizing mortgages in the form of mortgage-backed securities,allowing lenders to reinvest their assets into more lending and in effect increasing the number of lenders in the mortgage market.Lastly, newer types of loan, FHA 203k loan are growing in popularity. A 203k loans allow the buyer to roll in the costs of repair of single family detached properties, condominiums, town homes or small apartment facilities into the mortgage loan. The bank takes the “as is” market value of the property and adds the costs of repairs to the loan. Upon closing, the repair work is completed and the buyer can take possession of the property. The minimum amount of repairs required to utilize a 203k loan is $5,000 and the maximum is $35,000. This portion of the loan is added on to the primary note. In order to streamlining costly repairs for a property, a 203k loan can be used for modernization of an existing home. This is useful for homeowners who want to update a kitchen or bathroom in a home that they purchase. These loans can also be used for room additions or other home expansion projects.

Personal Financing

Like it was stated above, because of the credit crisis, the client needs to have at least 20% down payment and a good to above average credit score to get financing that you can live with so you can enjoy your remodel home. You can secure financing from family members or co-workers, etc…

Reverse mortgage

A remortgage is a form of equity release (or lifetime mortgage) that is currently available. It is a loan available to seniors aged 62 or older, under a Federal program administered by HUD. It enables eligible homeowners to access a portion of their equity. The homeowners can draw the mortgage principal in a lump sum, by receiving monthly payments over a specified term or over their (joint) lifetimes, as a revolving line of credit, or some combination thereof. The homeowners’ obligation to repay the loan is deferred until owner (or survivor of two) dies, the home is sold, they cease to live in the property, or they breach the provisions of the mortgage (such as failure to maintain the property in good repair, pay property taxes, and keep the property insured against fire etc). The owner can be out of the home for up to 364 consecutive days (i.e., into aged care). Title to the property remains in the name of the homeowners, to be disposed of as they wish, encumbered only by the amount owing under the mortgage.


I hope this series on getting your home “Aging-In-Place” ready will give you something to think about before you decided on a course of action that will benefit you and your client. Like in life, these blogs are not “one size fits all”. Each case study should be different so please use this study as a reference tool.     If you have any questions or comments, please post them.

Thank you.

Is your home “Aging-In-Place” ready?

Part 3 – Recommending a sound course of action

Let’s review the previous case study:  The client’s 1940’s suburban bungalow home has two bedrooms, an entryway and a porch on the east side of the home. The kitchen, dining and living room are on the west side of the home. There is only attic space on the second floor. One family member has to move around in a wheelchair and needs to get around effortlessly. Their budget is modest.

Let’s take a real, good look at what we have…

First, let’s start off with today’s housing market. Due to the price of existing residential properties and the availability of foreclosed homes, the price point to remodel a home may be too expensive to do. The case study above has doors and a hallway that is too small to accommodate a wheelchair. The kitchen and bathroom needs to be updated to accommodate the family. The entryway has to be functional too. There could also be a larger or more modern home in the same neighborhood that could accommodate the needs of the family.

Let’s take a look at what we can do with the bungalow.

Option 1: Remodel the inner shell of the home…

Depending on the features, this may be the least expensive option. The upside, of remodeling the kitchen and bathroom, widening the door frames and adding a concrete ramp on the front door, it to achieve a viable solution. The client can save money by doing some of the work themselves. For instance, they can do the demolition of the kitchen and the bathroom.

Option 2: Adding an addition…

One of the downsides of option 1 is to widening the doorways to a 3 foot solution, may go into the structural wall, adding an unexpected cost. By adding an addition to the home, the client will have solved couple of design solutions. Adding an addition on the rear of the home (say a 12 foot by 12 foot footprint) will create a new accessible entryway and a master bedroom. One of the bedrooms will be converting into a master bathroom and closet to make it comfortable for the client and caregiver to navigate around the home. Also remodeling the kitchen and a modest upgrading to the existing bathroom will help achieve a viable solution. The cost of the addition can double or triple the cost of option 1, depending on material.

Option 3: Look at a new home…

Nobody wants to move out of their home but in reality moving to another home that will fit your needs maybe an attractive option. The cost of a home is at the lowest price point in history. With a modest renovation, you may save and get a better home than what you currently have. You can stay in your neighborhood or find another community altogether.

Of course, none of these things matter if you cannot get the loan.

Is your home “Aging-In-Place” ready?

Part 2 – Inspecting your current environment

As a “Design Professional”, it is much easier to design an Aging-In-Place (AIP) solution for a newly created design home. For instance, the first thing I have to find out from this client is how long he/she will be staying in their new home and then all I have to do is incorporate an AIP design solution that will fit their needs.

For an existing home however, it’s very different…

Here is a case study: A client wants to stay in their 1940’s suburban bungalow home. It has two bedrooms, an entryway and a porch on the east side of the home. The kitchen, dining and living room are on the west side of the home. There is only attic space on the second floor. One family member has to move around in a wheelchair and needs to get around effortlessly. Their budget is modest and the client has not been in this situation before, so they are cautious. As a design professional, what would you look for when you inspect this client’s existing environment?

The Inspection Phase

During the inspection phase, we have to be compassionate, but honest with our clients. Their home has many memories that we cannot ignore. Our objective as design professionals should be to educate our client, not just selling them a product to stay in their home. Let’s look at the case study above. There are some questions that have to be answered in order to design a quality product. The first question, is it worth investing in the client’s neighborhood? The client needs to know if they will be able to recoup their investment if they need to sell their home. Second, look at the condition of their home. For example, the home may have hidden dangers, like termites or rotted wood? What if the home has a poor maintenance record or needs to have a lead mediation? These kinds of things will eat at the cost of the remodel.

Let’s look at another issue from the case study, the family member in the wheelchair. Coming up with a design solution for both, the member in the wheelchair and the client is another thing to consider, when deciding on whether to proceed with the project. Their input will give us design professionals more insight on how we can design a solution for them.

Investigating all possible scenarios is our job.

If it can be done, go for it. If not, then don’t do it. Do not be afraid to walk away from a job, when you and the client cannot see eye to eye. Coming up with a clear, viable design solution is critical.

In the end, pretending that we can save their home no matter what; may not be good for you or the client.

Is your home “Aging-In-Place” ready?

Part 1 – A familiar story…

As with many consumers whom decided to make that plunge to design and build your dream home, think about the number of hours you put in: to settle on a design, interview with various builders before settling on the one, getting financing and picking out the decorum, etc… Then after all of the process is done and the project is finally finish, and you get the keys to your “dream home”, do you think about how long you will stay in that home? At that moment you think “forever”?

But as we get older, we talk about converting our “dream home” into an “Aging-In-Place” home as a viable solution. However, by adding a wood ramp to an entrance or placing a grab bar in the bathroom and called it an “Aging-In-Place” solution is at best a short term solution. As most Design Professionals know, homes designed before 1970 that is not a “ranch” style home will have a hard time converting it into an “Aging-In-Place” solution.

A typical Bungalow can be a challange to create an “Aging-In-Place” solution.

Hard? Yes, but not impossible.

Working in an urban or an older suburban community setting, the possibility of staying in your current home can work if the consumer can be honest with themselves. This series of possible solutions will help the consumer focus on the following factors…

–          Inspecting your current environment.

–          Recommending a sound course of action

–          Pricing between a remodel, replacement or moving

–          Credit, credit and more credit

–          Types of financing (FHA, personal financing, reverse mortgage, where the home is going, etc…)

–          Endgame

This series can aide you to give an honest assessment on what the proper course of action you need to make before you comment to a life changing event. If you have any questions or comments, please post them.

Let’s us explore…

Remodeling Industry Poised For Green Growth

Editors Note…
Here is a brief history about what is People, Places & Things LLC. Please comment if you will and enjoy the experience; for the next month you will see fresh new content.

Release Spring 2007

Consumers want their remodeling projects green and remodelers already answer the call, according to recent research by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Remodelers. NAHB Remodelers discussed the state of green remodeling at a March 26 press conference during the National Green Building Conference in St. Louis, Mo. “The only way to bring green into 120 million existing households is through remodeling,” said NAHB Remodelers Chair Mike Nagel, CGR, CAPS, a remodeler from Chicago. “Americans spent over $230 billion last year in home remodeling, with energy-efficient and sustainable products representing an increasing share of the market.” More than one-quarter of remodelers surveyed by NAHB saw growing demand for green remodeling late last year, compared to just 6 percent reporting less demand. The majority of remodelers already incorporate energy efficiency into their work. Nearly all (85 percent) used low-energy windows, 68 percent used insulated exterior doors, 65 percent upgraded insulation, and 56 percent installed high-efficiency HVAC systems. The survey also showed that many remodelers also use environmentally friendly products.

For example, more than 75 percent of those surveyed minimize the harvesting of old-growth forests by using alternatives to dimensional lumber, like engineered wood. Additionally, 65 percent already incorporate recycled or recyclable materials into their projects. For the first time, the National Green Building Conference held remodeling educational courses for contractors. One of those instructors and NAHB Green Building Subcommittee member Michael Strong, CGR, CAPS, GMB, discussed the emerging trends within the industry. “Energy efficiency continues to lead the way, but for items beyond appliances, the installation matters as much as the product,” Strong said. “Simply putting in that low-E window doesn’t solve the problem. Homeowners need to look at the whole room and eventually use a whole-house approach to maximize efficiency.” NAHB Remodelers offer a “Top 8” list for homeowners:- Install maximum insulation in the area to be remodeled.- Install high-efficiency windows instead of those that just meet the energy code.- Seal all exterior penetrations in the area being remodeled.- Purchase only Energy Star ®-rated appliances.- Install only low-flow water fixtures.- Upgrade to an Energy Star ®-rated water heater, or better yet a tankless water heater.- Purchase the highest efficiency HVAC system you can afford.


Energy Efficiency with Residential Construction

Editors Note…
Here is a brief history about what is People, Places & Things LLC. For the next couple of blogs, you will see previous articles, features and other cool stuff on what we are all about. Please comment if you will and enjoy the experience.

Release Summer 2007

Energy efficient design and construction can substantially reduce costs and pollution because nonrenewable energy sources of energy are expensive, potentially unstable, and create toxic wastes through their development and combustion. The long-term costs of energy to the homeowner are large, in dollars as well as in health and safety.
Reasons to Change
• The generation and use of energy is the single largest contributor to air pollution. It has also been linked to climate change. Source: Green Facts Each year the average house releases more than twice as much greenhouse gas as the typical car (more than 22,000 pounds of carbon dioxide). Source: Energy Star Home Advisor
• Air leakage from poorly sealed ductwork and building envelope can waste over 50% of a homes heating and cooling energy. Duct leakage (estimated at 30% of waste in some homes) can also create pressure imbalances in a home, endangering health and safety by drawing in outside air and causing backdrafting of combustion appliances. Air leakage also contributes to problems with moisture, noise, dust and entry of pollutants, insects, rodents and reduced fire safety. Source: Southface Institute
• The typical US family spends more than $1300 per year on energy costs. Ten to fifty percent of that energy is wasted and does not contribute to the comfort or convenience of the family. Source U.S. Department of Energy
Building energy efficient and renewable energy homes offers contractors advantages in the marketplace. The reputation of builders with satisfied customers passes among homeowners and potential buyers. Greater customer satisfaction will result from less noise, increased durability and comfort, reduced maintenance and operating costs, and the reduced reliance on pollution causing energy consumption. Energy-efficient homes and those with renewable energy systems qualify homeowners for resource efficient mortgages, and incentives for renewable energy technologies. The more skilled a builder is at conveying these advantages to home buyers, the more profitable the builder will be.
Energy efficiency is one of the most direct ways a person can realize the benefits of a green built home. By implementing energy efficient techniques, energy bill savings can reach 65%. Source: Green Buildings are Energy Efficient. Energy-efficiency can also improve the comfort, health, and safety of home occupants through improved indoor air quality, fire protection, noise levels, reduced maintenance, and increased durability.
P2 in Action
Whole-building design or a systems approach considers the interaction of all elements of the building site, building envelope, mechanical systems, and occupants to help achieve optimal energy performance. The key is to reduce the house load (energy use) using the best combination of:
• Conservation (insulation, efficient lighting and appliances, house orientation),
• Insulation (solar gain), and
• Thermal Storage (mass in walls and floors which helps keep the house a more constant temperature).
The emphasis on each should vary on a site-by-site basis.
Most energy-efficient homes have four basic elements in common:
1. A well-constructed and tightly sealed thermal envelope with appropriate ventilation.
2. Proper design and installation of heating and cooling systems (properly sized, high-efficiency, energy source, ventilation and ductwork).
3. Energy-efficient doors, windows, and appliances.
4. Home orientation and placement of building elements to maximize natural heating and cooling efficiency.
Source: Energy & Environmental Building Association
Specific ways to achieve energy efficiency through a systems approach include:
1. Use of passive solar advantages on the building site (and appropriate overhangs),
2. Efficient lighting,
3. Water conservation fixtures and appropriate placement of water heating equipment,
4. Design for appropriate insulation levels and reduce labor costs with Optimum Value Engineering (OVE) framing techniques,
5. Incorporation of wind, hydrothermal and/or active solar technologies,
6. Landscaping (trees, bushes, earthberms provide shading, block a prevailing wind),
7. Thermostat with automatic setback for night and work times,
8. Increased insulation in exterior wall, ceiling, floors and foundation,
9. Moisture control within the building envelope to control moisture buildup,
10. Selection of energy efficient appliances,
11. Dampers on all vents, fans and chimneys
12. Use of appropriate colored materials and coatings on exterior or roof (i.e. light colored where summer cooling climates dominate).
Assistance with Energy Efficiency
Guidelines, standards and incentive programs abound for energy efficiency in residential construction. Here are some suggestions:
1. Organizations working to promote alternative energy strive to provide tax incentives and guidance to help builders and consumers more effectively incorporate renewable energy and energy efficiency into their homes.
2. Affordable housing and economic development advocates support legislative mandates and establish requirements to include energy efficiency and renewable energy into housing assisted by their programs.
3. Utility companies provide audits and incentives for energy efficiency, as well as renewable energy technology development.
4. Certification and ratings programs create partnerships between builders and federal, state, local and nonprofit organizations to enhance communities and marketability one home at a time.
5. Energy efficient construction may also qualify consumers for higher than normal debt-to-income ratio when calculating loan potentials, enlarging the market of potential home-buyers.
Energy Star
One rating program that deserves special mention is the Energy Star home labeling program. Energy Star standards are nationally recognized and commonly adopted as criteria for other incentive programs. This program of the Environmental Protection Agency requires homes to achieve 30 percent reductions in energy over the Model Energy Code and obtain a third party verification. Energy Star for New Homes Improvements to Existing Homes.
Staying Current
Check with the following sites for news, product reviews and current events in Renewable Energy and Efficiency:
• Home Energy Magazine http://homeenergy.org/
• Home Power Journal http://homepower.com/
• American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. (ASHRAE) http://www.ashrae.org