Category Archives: Uncategorized

Understanding the Appraisal Process

What is an Appraisal?

Knowing the appraisal process

An appraisal is simply an expert opinion of the value of something.  Understanding the appraisal process will help you better navigate through your mortgage process.

What is the Appraisal Process?

The appraisal process is a series of actions that provides you with a final opinion of value.

First, your lender will order the appraisal (usually through a 3rd party).  This puts them as the client, not you, even though in most cases you will be paying for the appraisal.  You are entitled to a copy of the appraisal, which will be provided by the lender, after the appraisal is complete.

Next, the appraiser receives the order and does preliminary research of your home, neighborhood and market area.  They will be looking for homes of similar “dominant features” or “market movers” that could be used as comparable to your home.

The appraiser then calls the contact listed on the order to schedule the appointment and gather any specific information about the home.  At this time, it is a good idea to let the appraiser know the following:

– Have you added or subtracted any square footage since purchasing the home?

– Does the home have a basement?  Is it finished?

– Have there been any updates or remodeling recently?

Any information that may have changed since the last transaction of the home is helpful to the appraiser in order to get a good idea of the property beforehand.  Alert your appraiser if your home has had any added or subtracted bathrooms, bedrooms or garages.  Be clear, concise and try not to exaggerate the condition of the home.

Do Not Talk About Value

An appraiser cannot talk to you about value.  Don’t ask.  Guidelines do not allow an appraiser to talk to you about value, it jeopardizes the process so it is best to not go there.


Home inspection

The inspection is the shortest part of the appraisal process.  The appraisal inspection will take 15 – 45 minutes depending on the size and complexity of your home.

The appraiser will take interior and exterior photo’s, measure the property, and determine the quality and condition of your home.  The appraiser will note any deferred maintenance, upgrades, functional obsolescence, and/or safety hazards.

Analysis and Final Report

After the inspection, the appraiser takes the data gathered and compares it to homes of  similar “dominant features” or “market movers”.  The appraiser will select homes and drive the neighborhood to gather additional data.  All data collected is reviewed, analyzed and communicated into a supported value opinion known as a final report.


The final report is submitted to the 3rd party AMC, reviewed and transmitted to the lender who then provides a copy to you the borrower.

Now that you know what an appraisal is and you understand the process get to know How to Prepare for an Appraisal To Get The Highest Value.


For more information check out US News

Maximize A Small Dated Bathroom

A small, out of date, bathroom is not going to kill you, especially if you are not looking to sell or take money out of your home.   But if your out of date bathroom is not functioning properly, you could be causing yourself and your home more problems down the line and that can spell trouble with an appraisal.

Case in point:  my small bath is original late 1970’s.  The tile in the shower again original.  The problem lies not in the small space or the yellow flowered tile but the lack of grout in several areas in the shower and surrounding areas.  I hadn’t noticed but water was starting to leak through these areas and not only was water starting to find its way to the basement, there was moisture getting trapped in the walls.  Not Good!

My small, out of date bathroom was starting to become more of a problem then just looks; my out of date, small bathroom was causing additional damage in the home.

It was time to go.  We needed to Maximize A Small Dated Bathroom Quick!

As we have talked in previous posts, knowing your neighborhood market area and what improvements your home can support is important before you start any improvements.  You don’t want to spend the time and money investing into a new space only to hear from your appraiser that you have an over-improved space.

The best way to learn what kind of improvements your neighborhood supports is to look at your neighborhood.  Look at similar sized homes with a similar age in your immediate neighborhood.  Then find out what kind of updates those homes have?  What additions and improvements are made to the bathrooms?

Finally, take a look at what the updated homes are selling for vs. the original homes?  And if it is necessary, look at other competing neighborhoods.

Along with looking at what improvements your neighborhood will support – take into consideration your needs and any possible life changes that might occur in the next 2 – 8 years.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Is there a possibility of you needing to sell your home in the next 2 – 5 years?  . . . If so, you are going to not only want to consider your immediate needs but the overall appeal to prospective buyers.
  • Is your family size going to grow in the next 2 – 5 years?
  • How many people will be using this bathroom?
  • How do you use the bathroom?
    • Do you enjoy soaking in a tub?
    • Are you strictly a shower person?
    • Do you hate the cold floors in the winter?
    • Are you looking to create a spa experience or is this a space of strictly necessity?

Take a look at your needs and wants and what your neighborhood will support.  Then create a plan.

We have a dated small bathroom.  We needed to maximize that dated small bathroom.  We debated increasing the size of the bathroom but honestly the tiny house craze had me wondering why?  The bathroom is big enough for our needs but we needed to open up the space and maximize the functionality of the bathroom.

First on the list:  Entry Door

The bathroom door opens into the space, the space is small so flipping the door around to open into the bedroom would save space and be an easy, low cost fix.  We considered a pocket door but with the layout of the bedroom the door easily flowed well into the space.

Second on the list:  Vanity

The vanity has a single sink, is large and low to the ground.  I wanted a taller vanity and dual sinks.  (Note: You can buy standard kitchen cabinets for the bathroom that are higher)

Third:  Shower

The shower is big enough but the ceiling drops over the shower and the three sides are all walled and it feels very closed in.  We decided on cutting out the dropped ceiling, raising the shower head, creating a pony wall toward the toilet to open the space.  After much debate we also decided the small space needed a bang: A Mr. Steam shower and a frameless european glass would be a statement!  Mr steam logo

Those first three requests were the big priorities and everything else fell around them.

Some things I wish I would have known from the get go:

1 The bathroom is not a weekend project, especially if your contractor works for just a couple of hours and you do not have all of your components on site.

2 Order your components before Demo.  Our contractor kept saying we had time to order the vanity but when we actually wanted it here there was a shortage.  Waiting on a vanity is not fun!  Order early!

3 I exhaustedly researched steam showers.  I looked at the pros and cons.  I looked at the steam pods vs the separate steam generators.  I looked at the benefits of dry heat vs wet and finally settled on the Mr. Steam separate steam generator unit.  Something to think about when creating your steam shower is the bigger you go the bigger the generator and the more enclosed glass you will need.  After getting into the rebuild of the bathroom, I was really glad that I stayed with a small shower.  I was able to get a smaller generator (less cost) and although the european glass was expensive it wasn’t nearly as expensive if I would have created the shower across the entire back wall.

4 Not all European Glass is created equal.  I received three quotes for the European Glass.  All of the quotes were for the same dimensions and I was told all of the quotes were for a steam shower.  All of the quotes were significantly different in price.  And only one of the quotes would have been adequate for a steam shower.  The other two quotes said it was for a steam shower but they also stated water would leak here and there and if water is going to leak – your steam is going to leak and that is not ideal.  Beware of that when getting quotes for a steam shower.  If you live in Northern Utah and want a great steam shower go to Chuck with European Glass.  They will do a fantastic job!

European Glass Logo

Demo was fun and very interesting.  I was surprised by how quickly it went.  I was also surprised that it was up to me to dispose of everything.  (Note to self – next time arrange a dumpster prior to demo).

I was amazed at how much moisture was leaking from the shower.  The shower pan wasn’t even constructed properly – Luckily there was no mold or major repairs needed due to the leaks.

Without adding additional sq. footage to the bathroom it was amazing how much just flipping the door, raising the ceiling and creating a pony wall added to the space.  It felt larger, it opened the space and was a great start to the project.

From there it was fun picking out tile, the hardware and fixtures.  We decided to go with a grey concrete tile that we scored from Contempo Tile, that I have absolutely loved.  I want to add it to several other areas of the home as well.  We accented that with a textured charcoal accent wall and dark grout.Contempo

I have loved the effect!  Not only did we save ourselves a ton of money by not adding square feet, our small dated bathroom definitely got the make over and has become a maximized space.  The bathroom is large enough for our needs but has a cozy spa feel that works perfectly for our family.  And in case you are wondering, the Mr. Steam shower is definitely worth every penny!

See the results for yourself


IMG_6385IMG_6481 IMG_6388

During Demo:

IMG_6425 IMG_6424


Bath 2015 2 Bath 2015 3

Bath 2015 5Bath 2015 6

Bath 2015 4 Bath 2015 7

Refinishing Kitchen Cabinets

Make the Most of What You Already Have

Part 2: Refinishing Cabinets

We refinished our hardwood floors and loved how much it transformed the feel of the home.  It brought a warmth to the place that we loved, but the dark wood next to our original honey oak cabinets looked odd.  The oak cabinets are good quality solid wood and the interior were upgraded with custom slide-outs and just like the floor I couldn’t justify pulling them out just because I didn’t like the “look”.  So began the search for just what to do with the cabinets.

The options of paint are endless and you would be surprised, how much refinishing kitchen cabinets, can update the look of your current kitchen, thus adding value to your home.  This Old House states:  “Often, minor improvements can yield major dividends. According to Remodeling magazine’s annual analysis of cost versus value, a kitchen “face-lift” — painting, refinishing surfaces, and upgrading appliances — will return more than a full redesign. The key to spending less is spending it wisely. “If you take $20,000 and spend it judiciously on a kitchen, you can make it look a million times better,” says Remodeling senior editor Jim Cory, who supervises the survey. “The design and product selection are key.””

This lead us to the decision to refinish the kitchen cabinets with paint and glaze.  We took it a step further and removed one of the cabinets to create a more current, open space, that flowed easily from kitchen to family room.

Our kitchen also has never had hardware on the cabinets.  Adding some custom hardware helped to finish the look and bring it all together and was a quick and low cost way to add value.


IMG_0075   IMG_0117


IMG_6476 IMG_6470

We love how it turned out and look forward to replacing the countertops!

Updating Banister Handrail

Cheap & Easy Ways To Update Your Home

Banister & Handrail

Two years after we refinished our hardwood floors, we finally got around to updating the banister handrail.  It wasn’t that we didn’t need or want it done – it was that we thought we had to hire a professional for the job and that was pricey. But while waiting for the professionals to update the bathroom and having no control over it; I decided to take control of what I could do rather then worry about what I couldn’t do – updating banister handrail was something I could handle.

Although I was initially nervous over starting, now that I am on the other side I can’t believe how quick and easy the project was – WHAT TOOK ME SO LONG???

Quick and Easy Directions



Sanding: Who wants to actually sand??? Do yourself a favor and use Klean Strip Liquid Sander on the areas you are going to gel stain.

1.   Apply Klean Strip liquid sander in small circular motions focusing mainly to degloss and degrease.
2.   Let it dry
3.   Apply second coat if needed
4.   Let it dry

painting spindlesChalk Paint: No need to sand or prime if you are painting spindles using chalk paint. It does have a bit of sticker shock but you don’t have to waste time and money with sanding and multiple primer coats – which cuts down on overall cost.

(I used pure white color to match my baseboards)

1.   Paint the spindles, using a foam brush. I thought it best to paint the spindles first as it is easier to tape off the spindles later
*Note: don’t stress over the first coat – there will be streaks but it will come together as you apply additional coats. Just make sure there aren’t any drips or areas thicker then others.

*Note: if you need to take a break in the middle of painting you can place your brush in a plastic bag and store it in the fridge for future use without cleaning. This is very helpful when painting with kids around.

2.   Let it dry!!! The chalk paint dry’s fast so don’t rush it! Wait until fully dry before applying next coat.

3.   Apply second coat.

*Note: don’t stress you might need more coats so just apply cleanly avoiding drips or puddling, it comes together cleanly and without brush strokes as you continue to coat.

4.   Let it dry

5.   Continue to apply additional coats as needed, letting it dry between coats. Mine took three coats but the lady at the store said some woods would need up to five coats.

6.   Let it dry.

7.   Tape off white spindles to prepare for gel stain.

Gel Stain: This stuff is so easy to work with, make sure to ventilate.after

(I used java and black gel stain)

1.   Work in small areas applying the gel stain with a foam brush, paint the gel on the use the side of the brush to wipe off excess and rub gel into the wood.

2.   Let it dry! The gel stain takes forever to dry – don’t rush it! Sometimes it took longer then 24 hours to dry – I think it might have been the moisture in the air from the weather.

*Note: if it is still tacky wait for it to dry. There will be no tackiness to the wood when ready for the next coat.

3.   Apply next coat as directed above.

4.   Let it dry!!!

*Note: I thought that three coats of java stain would produce an almost black but it never got dark enough so I applied Black over the java, using two coats to make sure I covered all areas.

Wax: I had never heard of using wax as a top, protective, coat. But it seemed like a good alternative to the poly finishes and looked more natural. (I used clear)

1.   Apply a thin layer of wax rubbing the wax into the paint completely using a rag or wax brush

2.   Remove any excess wax

3.   Let it dry over night

4.   Buff with a microfiber cloth until desired shine is obtained.

Now I need to change the carpet 🙂

before:  before