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Joanne Bernardini's Blog

By Joanne Bernardini | Agent in Ocean City, NJ
  • Renovating to Sell? Don’t Skip the Permits!

    Posted Under: Home Selling in Ocean City, Remodel & Renovate in Ocean City  |  August 22, 2011 10:50 AM  |  680 views  |  No comments

    If you are preparing to sell your home and have some remodeling on the to-do list, it may be tempting to skip the step of getting a permit. Think again! This could cause you a lot of problems in the long run.  While you may go undetected at first, you may be putting your sale and yourself at risk.

    Permits are usually not difficult to obtain and the fees are usually reasonable. There is generally a minimum issuing fee in the $25-$50 dollar range and sometimes an additional fee for the needed inspection.  Each municipality is different. For safety make the call to find out the fees. Ultimately, the purpose of the inspection is to make sure the renovation job was done correctly and that it meets all safety codes.

    Do-it-yourself workers, who side step the permit process can put their sale at risk later and can be putting the home in future jeopardy. An example of this is removing a wall, which is actually a load-bearing wall and not using the proper support materials to provide the needed support to keep the area above from collapsing at a later time. Electrical is another disaster waiting to happen if not done by a licensed electrician. A misplaced staple can cause sparking and smoldering in a wall leading to a major fire. Improper bathroom plumbing can cause a small water leak, which over time will rot the floor or walls. If the lack of permits isn’t discovered until after closing it can trigger a lawsuit by your buyers.

    When the home is sold the house inspector for the buyer can suggest the buyer’s request to see a copy of the permit for the renovation or advise them to check with the municipality to confirm a permit was issued for the work.  The buyer’s bank appraiser may also request to see the permits. ”If no permits are found and it’s obvious that the home has been renovated, the bank will likely refuse to make the loan, according to the American Bar Association’s book Legal Guide to Home Renovation (Random House, 2006).  ”If you are caught not having pulled a permit for the job you will have a major problem! You can face fines up to quadruple the original permit cost and be required to tear the project down and do it over. This can cause your buyers to walk.

    The moral of this story? Be smart do it right the first time! In the long run the small cost of obtaining the proper permit will be well worth the effort and prevent a slew of potential last minute headaches you don’t need as you try to sell your home in a difficult market.

  • How to Fix a Leaking Faucet

    Posted Under: Remodel & Renovate in Ocean City, How To... in Ocean City  |  July 30, 2011 5:53 AM  |  740 views  |  4 comments
    In these hard economic times, people are always looking to save money. Listening to the drip, drip, drip of a leaking faucet is enough to drive you crazy but it is also letting your hard earned money go down the drain. We've all seen the comedy movies where the man of the house tries to fix the plumbing only to cause a geiser in the kitchen. A plumber can cost several hundred dollars. So what can the "do-it-yourselfer" do?
    Bill and Kevin Burnett of Inman News offers this easy step by step process for changing the washers in a 20 year old dual control faucet. It's the easiest and clearest explaination I've seen and I'd like to share it with you!

    Here's their step-by-step process to change a washer:

    Step 1: Turn off the water to the house. In temperate areas, exterior pipes do not freeze. The shutoff valve is usually where the water line enters the house. In 20-plus-year-old systems, the valve is usually a gate valve with a round "wagon wheel" handle. There's usually a hose bib immediately above it. Close the shutoff valve, then turn the hose bib on to release water pressure from the system.

    Step 2: Turn the hot and cold tub faucets on to drain water from the valve.

    Step 3: Close both valves, then reopen them about halfway.

    Step 4: Spread a towel or washcloth over the drain so as not to lose any small parts. With a Phillips-head screwdriver, remove the screws from the hot and cold handles and take the handles off. Put the screws in a safe place.

    Step 5: Remove the chrome escutcheons by turning them counterclockwise. They should be screwed on only hand-tight, but they may be stuck. If so, use a pair of channel-lock pliers, placing a towel or washcloth between the teeth of the pliers and the escutcheon so as not to mar the chrome.

    Step 6: With the handles and escutcheons removed, the spindle is exposed. The spindle is the part of the valve that regulates water flow. At the far end of the spindle is a rubber washer that, when tightened against a metal seat, stops the water flow.

    Remove the bonnet nut so that the spindle can be removed and the washer replaced.

    The bonnet nut is probably below the surface of the tile, making it impossible to get purchase with a normal wrench. There is a special socket wrench solely for this purpose that is inexpensive and available at any local hardware store.

    It may be necessary to remove some grout or cement to get at the bonnet nut, even with this specialty tool. Tap lightly on the grout with a screwdriver and hammer to free the area around the nut. Again, after 20 years, the nut may be stuck. Spray on a little Liquid Wrench or WD-40 to loosen it. Then remove the bonnet nut.

    Step 7: To remove the spindle, replace the handle and turn clockwise until the spindle is free of the valve.

    Step 8: At the end of the spindle will be a screw holding the washer in a seat. The washer will probably appear flat, but the new one will most likely be cone-shaped. Take the spindle to your local hardware store and the folks there should be able to set you up with the correct washer. Alternatively, buy a pack of assorted rubber washers and find the one that fits in the seat. Remove the screw holding the old washer and replace the old with the new.

    Reverse these steps to get the tub back in operation.

    Oh, and while you're at it, change both the cold and hot washers. Sure as shootin', as soon as the cold leak is fixed, the hot one will go.

  • Door and Lock Problems in a Seaside Resort Area

    Posted Under: Remodel & Renovate in Ocean City  |  June 3, 2011 10:02 AM  |  259 views  |  2 comments

    If you just purchased a home in a seaside resort, you may notice a problem with sticking doors or locks that don't seem to work correctly anymore. This is a common problem in areas that have variable amounts of moisture in the air. On dry days, everything might work perfectly.  The problems come when the humidity in the air is high. The wood doors and doorframes if not properly painted and sealed will absorb that humidity and swell. Doors stick and locks won't work because the door has swelled enough that the lock parts are misaligned with the "strike plates" on the doorframe. If the locks aren't perfectly aligned they fail.

    Before you call in the pros, try these do it yourself tricks!  Slowly close the door, observe where the bolt is hitting the hole in the strike plate. Is it too high or too low? A minor adjustment with a metal file to enlarge the hole a bit will help. Additionally, if the screws in the door hinges are loose, they are not holding the door in the right position to properly align the lock pieces. Tighten them with a screwdriver.

    For doors that stick, check the top and bottom edge of the door. Painting these surfaces is often overlooked especially when the builder is hanging the doors quickly. For a quick fix rub the part of the door that is sticking with a bar of dry soap. Also do the corresponding area of the doorframe. For a permanent fix, you should wait for a day when you have low humidity and the door shrinks. Remove the door, give the edge a light sanding, wipe off the dust and seal with a coat of paint. Let it dry thoroughly before hanging the door. Now the wood is sealed and won't absorb the humidity in the air!

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