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By Keith Parrett | Agent in Brentwood, CA
  • Garden Watering Systems You Can Make Yourself

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Contra Costa County, Home Selling in Contra Costa County, In My Neighborhood in Contra Costa County  |  May 14, 2014 2:32 PM  |  219 views  |  No comments

    Article From HouseLogic.com
    By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon
    Published: March 13, 2013

    Easy DIY watering systems for gardens are lifesavers when hot weather moves in and thirsty plants moan, “Feed me!” once or twice a day.

    Save money when you make these nifty DIY watering systems from materials you probably already have.
    Save money when you make these nifty DIY watering systems from materials you probably already have.
    •Drip hoses (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/gardens/diy-watering-system/2/) that save water by delivering moisture directly to roots.

    •Self-watering planter (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/gardens/diy-watering-system/3/) that hydrates plants by wicking moisture from a water well.

    •Ollas (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/gardens/diy-watering-system/4/), buried clay pots that deliver water to roots on demand.

    DIY Drip Hose
    A drip hose soaks soil – drop by drop – without wasting water to evaporation or promoting disease by soaking foliate. A 50-ft. drip hose costs $14 at big box stores. Or you can make one yourself from any old hose you might otherwise toss into the trash. Here’s how.
    •Rescue an old hose. Clean it and lay it on a flat surface, such as a wood plank.

    •On one side of the hose, punch tiny holes 1 to 2 inches apart, leaving 6 inches with no holes on both ends of the hose. To make holes, use an upholstery needle or a tiny, 1/64-inch drill bit.

    •Attach a hose cap ($1.80 for ¾-in. brass) to one end of the hose. Attach the other end to another hose that’s long enough to reach from a spigot to your garden.

    •Turn on water so that drops fall from each hole along the hose. You want a drip — not a spray — so lower the pressure if too much water comes out.

    •Wind the hose along the base of plants, then cover with 2 inches of mulch.

    Self-Watering Earth Box Planter
    An earth box is a self-watering planter that relies on the wicking ability of soil (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/gardens/how-to-fix-soil/) to continuously draw water from a built-in well. You fill the well through a tube – far less often than if you watered by hand.

    An earth box can be any size or material, so long as it has a water reservoir and soil. Here’s a good one:

    1. Select a Rubbermaid Roughneck Tote (24-by-16-by-12 inches; $6). Using a super-sharp knife, cut out the flat part of the lid, separating it from the lip.
    2. Make “weeping cups” by punching 1/2-in. holes in two 16 oz. plastic cups until they look like Swiss cheese.
    3. Take a 5-ft. long piece of ½-inch-diameter ABS pipe ($6), mark it off every 2.5 inches, and cut into 16 pieces. Use the remainder (about 20 inches) for your watering tube.
    4. In the lid corners, cut out holes to fit two weeping cups and the watering tube.
    5. Using a ½-in. drill bit, punch holes in the lid spaced about 1 inch apart (that’s lots of holes!)
    6. Arrange the small PVC pieces in the bottom of the bin – they should be on-end and evenly spaced. Place the lid on top of the pieces. Place weeping cups and watering tube into their holes.
    7. Pack the weeping cups snugly with potting soil, then fill the box with soil.
    8. Drill a ½-in. drainage hole in the side of the box 2 ½ in. from the bottom.
    9. Fill the bin with water through the watering tube. When it’s full, water will come out the drainage hole.
    10. Plant.

    Check out this video, which shows you how to make an earth box from two Rubbermaid tubs.
    Make Your Own Ollas
    Ollas (OY-yas) are earthen jars with thin necks and wide bellies that you fill with water and bury in your garden (http://www.houselogic.com/outdoors/landscaping-gardening/gardens/). Water seeps through the ollas’ unglazed walls to feed plant roots without wasting any water to evaporation or runoff. Eventually, plant roots grow around the ollas, drawing water when needed, creating a super-efficient self-watering system.

    Make yours from extra clay garden pots and silicone caulk.
    •Select two 8- or 10-in. clay pots with smooth rims that closely match each other.

    •Caulk a bottle cap or piece of tile over the bottom hole of one pot to prevent water from pouring out.

    •Cover the rim of one pot with a thick ribbon of silicone caulk. Place the other pot over the caulk and press lightly.

    •Let caulk dry for 24 hours, then fill the pot with water to check for leaks.

    •When you’re satisfied that your olla is leak-proof, bury it in your garden next to plants. Water in an 8-in. diameter; olla spreads 18 inches.

    •Fill olla with water, and cover the hole with a rock or glazed saucer. Check water levels with a stick and refill as necessary.

    Need a little garden inspiration? Check out these eye-pleasing cottage gardens (http://www.houselogic.com/photos/gardens/cottage-gardens/) and learn how to plant flowers and veggies together (http://www.houselogic.com/blog/gardens/vegetable-flower-garden/).
    Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®
    Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

    Have a Great day,

    Keith Parrett
    Realty World
    (925) 580-4650
    License No: 01714500

    - See more at: http://keithparrett.com/2014/05/14/garden-watering-systems-you-can-make-yourself/#sthash.AJDp2joC.dpuf
  • What I Wish I Knew When I Bought My First New-Construction Home

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Contra Costa County, Home Selling in Contra Costa County, Foreclosure in Contra Costa County  |  April 16, 2013 1:47 PM  |  599 views  |  No comments

    Building a new home lets you personalize your house for today’s needs and tomorrow’s dreams. Here’s how to plan your new home for future needs.

    When I was designing our dream home 15 years ago, I was chasing around our toddler while laying out rooms and selecting finishes.

    Back then, I didn’t let Ben out of my sight and couldn’t imagine a time when we wouldn’t be attached at the hip. So, I selected new-home options perfect for parents of a 16-month-old, never questioning if they’d work for parents of a 6-year-old, or 16-year-old.

    Here are things that seemed like a good idea at the time.

    Kitchen/great room combo: I figured one big space would be great for watching tiny Ben while I was cooking; he’d drum on a pot while I fixed him buttered noodles. But Ben grew up and now likes to watch “Law & Order” on TV while I talk on the phone with my mom, and my husband runs the disposal after dinner. The room sometimes sounds like Grand Central, and I now dream of a separate family room and a little less togetherness.

    Two main-floor bedrooms: We downsized our master suite to squeeze in a second bedroom next to us – perfect for soothing a preschooler’s nightmares. Turns out kids outgrow nightmares, but skimpy closet space is forever.

    A pass-through instead of cabinets: I gave up two kitchen cabinets to cut a pass-through from the kitchen to our mud-cum-crafts room so I could keep an eye on Ben’s finger-painting sessions. Ben hasn’t dipped a finger in paint in 12 years, and I could really use that storage now.

    The Future is Now

    If I were buying a new home today, I’d do things differently: I’d crystal-ball my thinking and plan for my future needs. That’s the beauty of buying new construction: You can focus on want-to-dos, rather than to-dos – even if you can’t anticipate all your wants.

    Luckily, builders know the life of a new home is a journey, and have consultants who help you fast-forward your thinking about features you can install now that will make life easier later.

    I brainstormed with a couple of executives from Toll Brothers and Ryland Homes about some forward-thinking, new-home options.

    •A main floor den that could be converted into another bedroom as your family grows.

    On a related note, see how people are reinventing their living rooms (http://www.houselogic.com/photos/rooms/living-room-design-photos/).

    •Bedroom soundproofing (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/home-improvement/soundproofing-walls/) to ensure privacy.

    Credit: Toll Brothers, Inc. (http://tolltalks.tollbrothers.com/2012/01/24/5/?cmpid=OHo1)

    •Roughed-in plumbing (http://www.houselogic.com/maintenance-repair/preventative-home-maintenance/plumbing/) and electric for an eventual attic or basement bathroom and kitchenette. If you don’t have the resources now, this is a great way to plan ahead. This extra living space not only could accommodate elderly parents or boomerang kids, but will increase the value of your home when it’s time to sell.

    •A double-deep, tandem garage that can fit three cars now, but can be walled-off later to add indoor space for an extra bedroom or bathroom.

    More: Attic conversions (http://www.houselogic.com/photos/attics/going-attic-conversions-are-smart-remodeling-projects/) | Garage conversions (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/garages/converting-garage-into-room/)

    •Upgraded structured wiring throughout that can handle a souped-up Internet connection and other tech revolutions. Handy if you telecommute.

    •Temporary partition walls that attach to hardwood flooring, rather than subflooring. If you eventually want to combine bedrooms – kids move out – you’ll only have to do a floor repair and refinishing, rather than patch a gaping hole.

    •Plywood sheathing behind drywall and tile in bathrooms. These sheets of plywood let you attach grab bars anywhere without hunting for studs.

    Credit: Mosby Building Arts (http://www.callmosby.com)

    Grab bars aren’t just for our later years. They’re also good for kids and aching weekend warriors who need a little help getting into and out of a tub.

    •An addition (http://www.houselogic.com/home-improvement/rooms/home-additions/). If you can site your home to accommodate a bigger footprint later, plan to run conduit through exterior walls for future electrical and plumbing needs.

    Credit: CQ Surveying (http://cqsurveying.com)

     Unless you’re psychic …

    You’ll never know today exactly what you’ll need in the future: It’s hard for me to imagine life beyond next Tuesday.

    But choosing options for tomorrow is one perk of buying new. These forward-thinking selections can mean years of enjoyment as your family changes, and can make it easier to sell if moving – and buying new again — turns out to be the best alternative.

    Learn about more benefits of a newly built home. (http://startfresh.newhomesource.com)

    Article From HouseLogic.com
    By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon
    Published: April 16, 2013

    Keith Parrett
    Realtor/CDPE – Realty World
    License No: 01714500
    If you, a friend or family member need Real Estate assistance, please feel free to contact me anytime.  Your referrals are the greatest compliment I can receive!
  • The Most Annoying Neighbors Ever

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Contra Costa County, Home Selling in Contra Costa County, Property Q&A in Contra Costa County  |  September 25, 2012 11:54 AM  |  470 views  |  No comments

    Here are 9 stories about the most annoying neighbors you hope never become your neighbor. Or have they moved in next door already?

    The leaves are starting to fall off the poplar trees in my yard, and that's bad news.

    Not because I have to rake the leaves (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/landscaping-gardening/how-to-dispose-leaves/), but because once they're gone, the neighbors will be able to see my yard - including the washing machine and toilet we pulled from a rental property this summer, the front-flower-bed blackberry experiment that morphed into a front-yard blackberry nightmare, and worse yet, me getting into the car in my pajamas to drive my kid to the bus stop.

    I may be a bad neighbor (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/home-thoughts/dealing-with-bad-neighbors/) sometimes, but I'm definitely not the worst.

    To make myself feel better about my neighborly shortcomings, I compiled a list of nine types of neighbors who are worse than me (or you):

    #9 Community college lacrosse players

    We made the mistake of renting a townhouse to a group of them last year. When we asked them to stop throwing empty beer cans in the front yard, the boys claimed squirrels (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/pest-control/how-to-get-rid-of-squirrels/) were responsible. They were clearly lying, as everyone knows beer-stealing, hard-drinking squirrels hide the empties in their nests.

    #8 Neighbors who blow their grass clippings into the street instead of their own yard

    Not because your grass clippings bother me, but because I have to listen to my husband complain about the grass clippings in the street every time we drive by your house.

    #7 Neighbors whose dogs bark all night

    I had a neighbor who would put her Bichon in the back yard around 11 p.m. The dog would bark intermittently until I got out of bed and knocked on her door to ask her to bring the dog back in, usually around 1 a.m. "Oh, did I leave the dog out?" she'd ask with a puzzled look on her face. No, you didn't leave the dog out, she snuck out on her own, fired up the grill (http://www.houselogic.com/photos/appliances/grills-gone-wild/), and is making weenies for that really hot German Shepherd down the street.

    #6 Neighbors who don't get it

    Some people just don't get it. "It" could be repetitive annoying behavior such as letting your kids shoot hoops in the driveway at 2:30 a.m. or letting your pets poop on my lawn.

    Here's how to tell if you're the neighbor who doesn't get "it." Look at the fence between your house and your neighbor's. If the neighbor's fence (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/fences/fence-etiquette/) runs only along your shared property line, rather than enclosing their whole yard, this is an indication that you don't have a clue how annoying you are.

    #5 Neighbors who use plants to sneak over to your side of the property line (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/home-thoughts/peaceful-property-disputes/)

    Property-poaching neighbors plant a wee little shrub right on the property line that sucks up your yard space as it grows. So when you've had enough of that trespassing shrub, be a courteous neighbor and use hedge clippers rather than a noisy chain saw when you cut it down at 2:30 a.m.

    #4 People who upcycle their trash onto your property

    One lady who lived in a neighborhood that lacked bulk trash pickup came up with her own disposal plan: She put her old push mower and ratty patio furniture on another neighbor's back patio in the middle of the night. The recipients called and asked her to remove her trash, and she told them she thought they would like the mower and chairs. The next night, she moved them to another neighbor's backyard.

    #3 Neighbors who bury their spouses in front-yard crypts

    An Alabama court recently heard a case of a man who buried his wife and put a headstone beside the front steps (http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/08/22/alabama-court-wont-stop-removal-front-yard-grave/) to his home. Neighbors said he had created an illegal cemetery, but he said it was a legal family graveyard. The home owner lost his case, which means he'll have to move the body. Maybe he should have told the court the squirrels did it.

    #2 Condo neighbors with 20 cats

    What's the difference between an animal lover and animal hoarder? About 18 or 19 cats. Two Chicago condo owners are suing their downstairs neighbor because the litter box odors generated by the 20 cats living in the neighbor's one-bedroom condo have made it difficult to sell their property. Wouldn't you love to see the comments left by shoppers during their open houses?

    #1 Naked neighbors (http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/jul/13/naked-chain-sawer-wears-out-welcome-among-east/) who use chain saws

    One neighbor was a source of embarrassment to his community for years - until the day he took his penchant for doing yard work in the buff a bit too far. Every time neighbors called the police, he'd always manage to run away before police could see him in all his glory. But the day he decided to fire up a chain saw with nary a stitch of clothing on was the day police nailed him. Got to wonder if it was the fear of losing his hoo-ha that prevented him from his usual escape strategy of "drop whatever you're doing and run."

    What's the most annoying thing your neighbors have done?

    As always, feel free to call or email!

    Have a Great day,
    Keith Parrett
    Realtor/CDPE – Realty World
    (925) 580-4650
    License No: 01714500

    Article From HouseLogic.com

    By: Courtney Craig
    Published: August 31, 2012

    Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®
    Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

  • Top-10 Tools for the First-Time Home Owner

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Contra Costa County, Home Selling in Contra Costa County, Property Q&A in Contra Costa County  |  September 13, 2012 1:32 PM  |  474 views  |  No comments

    Making the transition from renter to home owner means you can’t call a landlord to fix things anymore. Here’s how to get your must-have toolbox started.

    When I bought my first house in May, my heart was full but my wallet was empty. The crush of a down payment left me with little extra cash to spend on tools for my new home – some of which I needed immediately.

    I borrowed tools from friends and family until I caught my breath financially and could buy things for myself. Four months into life at my new home, I can tell you these are the 10 essential tools you’ll want.

    1. Ladder. There’s no way around it – for cleaning gutters (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/roofing-gutters-siding/how-to-clean-rain-gutters/), hanging crown moulding (http://www.houselogic.com/photos/home-improvement/crown-moulding-ideas/), or painting tall walls, a ladder is a must-have. Prices range depending on the height and material, but expect to pay anywhere from $75 to $400 for an extension ladder.

    2. Circular saw. My first big project as a new home owner was to screen in a back porch and install new railings. When it came time to buy 2x4s, I needed something to cut them with, and hand saws are just too slow. I borrowed a saw from family members before buying my own, but now that I have, my circular saw has come in handy for building shelves inside closets (http://www.houselogic.com/home-improvement/rooms/closets/), too. You can spend $40 for a 7.25-inch model, all the way up to $900 for a 12-inch diamond saw.

    3. Cordless drill. This is another power tool I borrowed from a friend before buying my own, but now that I have a cordless drill, I can’t imagine owning a home without one. A battery-powered drill will be your best friend for many DIY projects, and you won’t have to bother with extension cords. Expect to pay anywhere from $20 to $300.

    4. Hammer. No toolbox is complete without one. You’ll spend anywhere from $5 for a basic hammer to $200 for a titanium-head, curved-handle model.

    5. Garden (http://www.houselogic.com/outdoors/landscaping-gardening/gardens/) hose. Get started on that curb appeal (http://www.houselogic.com/home-topics/curb-appeal/) by watering your plants! Depending on the length, material, and durability, a hose will cost you anywhere from $8 to $100. You’ll also want a nozzle ($2-$30) and a reel for storage ($5-$150). Don’t forget to bring it inside in winter so it doesn’t crack or split.

    6. Tape measure. Useful in measuring for furniture placement and many other around-the-home tasks, you can buy a 25-foot tape measure for as little as $4.

    7. Level. For hanging pictures or installing shelves, a level is essential. A 4-foot level costs anywhere from $10 for a basic model to $175 for a digital level with LCD screen.

    8. Screwdrivers. You’ll need both flathead and Phillips head varieties. A 4-in-1 screwdriver set with both heads in different sizes costs as little as $4.

    9. Pliers. A five-piece pliers set should cover just about every small object you’ll need to grip, pull, or cut. I’ve used them to pull errant nails out of small spaces and cut jagged edges protruding from things, and I watched an electrician strip wires with them when he was installing a ceiling fan (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/heating-cooling/installing-ceiling-fans-at-home/) on my new porch. A five-piece set includes an adjustable wrench, slip joint, long-nose, diagonal, and groove joint pliers, and costs as little as $11.

    10. Stud finder. One of the best parts of setting up a home is hanging art – it’s what really makes your new house feel like home. The stud finder will come in handy for future DIY (http://www.houselogic.com/home-topics/do-it-yourself/) projects as well. You’ll pay about $3.50 for a magnetic stud finder, up to about $80 for a digital one.

    A few more thoughts about acquiring tools
    •If your neighborhood has a tool sharing program (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/green-living/co-op-tool-share/) or bartering co-op (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/green-living/start-bartering-co-op/), make use of it.

    •When it’s time to buy, hit some local yard sales or estate sales for bargains. Thrift stores are also a good bet. If you have friends or family who are downsizing or decluttering, even better – you’ll be helping them while helping yourself.

    What were your first projects as a new home owner? What tools did you need?

    Have a Great day,
    Keith Parrett
    Realtor/CDPE – Realty World
    (925) 580-4650
    License No: 01714500

    Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®
    Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

    Article From HouseLogic.com

    By: Courtney Craig
    Published: August 31, 2012

  • Newest Multigenerational Homes Give Families Privacy and Togetherness

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Contra Costa County, Home Selling in Contra Costa County, Property Q&A in Contra Costa County  |  June 13, 2012 2:19 PM  |  434 views  |  No comments

    Homebuilders offer new ideas for additions that make room for more family members.

    Lennar, the home builder, is selling a new multigenerational house in Irvine, Calif., that I would have loved to live in 10 years ago when I was sandwiched between a mother with Alzheimer’s and a toddler daughter.

    Lennar’s floor plan shows a neat way you can add on to the typical traditional home to make room for aging parents or returning 20-somethings.

    The company is looking to tap into the trend of more than two generations living in a single house. About one in five U.S. households are multigenerational (http://www.houselogic.com/news/home-thoughts/hotspot-niche-multigenerational-housing/), the Pew Research Center (http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2012/03/15/the-boomerang-generation/) estimates, a trend fueled by the growth of immigrant households, delays in the age young people marry and start their own households, the financial challenges of the recession, and aging baby boomers moving in with their kids.

    The floor plan features an apartment suite with a separate outside entrance, plus an entrance door to the main house. Built across one side of the house, the suite includes one bedroom, a kitchen/living room space, a full bath, and a laundry closet.

    The New Home Company’s (http://thenewhomecompany.com/neighborhood/grove/grove-residence-2) take on multigenerational homes in Irvine, Calif., includes a similar one-bedroom guest house called a casita. But instead of attaching the suite to the house, New Home makes it accessible from a loggia (that’s architect speak for a covered deck or patio) that connects to the main house.

    I like both layouts because they’re so multifunctional. You could use the suite as office space if you were an accountant, psychologist, or some other type of professional whose clients visit. In areas where accessory apartments are legal, you could rent out the suite for additional income.

    They’d also make pretty groovy mom and dad caves when the grandparents pass away and the kids leave the nest for good, and you finally have peace, quiet, and time for hobbies.

    The biggest hurdle with designs like these are cost. Adding laundry and kitchen areas with countertops (http://www.houselogic.com/home-topics/countertops/), cabinets (http://www.houselogic.com/home-topics/cabinets/), appliances (http://www.houselogic.com/home-topics/appliance-buying-guides/), and water and gas lines isn’t cheap.

    Costs are why most builders opt to appeal to the multigenerational households by offering a lower-cost solution – dual master bedrooms. Put a coffee pot and a mini-fridge in there and you’ve got yourself an efficiency suite.

    At this point in my life, my parents have passed away, so I don’t need the multigenerational home anymore. Instead of a toddler, I’ve got a high schooler whose life plan includes parents who live in her pool house and look after the one daughter she’s having after she finishes medical school.

    I just checked with her and I’m pleased to say that my future pool home will have a kitchenette. Sounds a lot better than a coffee pot and a microwave to me.

    Have you lived with your adult children or your parents? How did you adapt your home to accommodate everyone?

    Have a Great day,

    Keith Parrett
    Realtor/CDPE – Realty World
    (925) 580-4650
    License No: 01714500

    Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®
    Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.
    Article From HouseLogic.com
    By: Dona DeZube
    Published: May 15, 2012

  • Just SOLD: 368 Madrone Pl. Brentwood Ca 94513

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Brentwood, Home Selling in Brentwood, In My Neighborhood in Brentwood  |  April 30, 2012 12:40 PM  |  499 views  |  No comments
  • Just Listed: 40 Kimball Ct. Antioch Ca 94509

    Posted Under: General Area in Antioch, Home Buying in Antioch, Home Selling in Antioch  |  April 21, 2012 6:06 PM  |  585 views  |  1 comment



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