The Skinny on Stainless Appliances

If you’ve ever shopped for appliances then you know that the options seem endless.  Just take refrigerators for example.  There are French door refrigerators, Side-by-side refrigerators, freezer on top refrigerators, freezer on bottom refrigerators, not to mention all of the extra options that come for each of these styles, like door in door french door options, or french door with a refrigerator drawer option, or TV in the door option or ice maker in the door vs in the fridge option, or dual ice-maker option or no ice maker at all option, or. . . you get the point.   Some of the options are quite ridiculous if you ask me, I mean, unless my fridge can do the grocery shopping and cook dinner for me, then I don’t think my fridge needs to have WiFi or an App, but I digress. The reason I know all of these options is because we had to buy a new refrigerator for our new house because we left our old one with the home that we sold.

As I shopped for our new fridge I had to take quite a few things into consideration because our current kitchen will be remodeled in the nearish future, so I needed a refrigerator that would work for us now, but would also fit into our new kitchen design once it is complete.  We also knew what options we liked and didn’t like from our previous fridge, and those options just come down to personal preference really.  For us, our old fridge was a french door style with the ice maker in the fridge and an extra refrigerator drawer above the freezer drawer.  After using that fridge for almost 5 years we realized we REALLY didn’t like the ice maker in the fridge because it takes up a lot of space.  Our new fridge has the ice maker in the fridge door and we LOVE IT! Regained the space in the fridge for storage but still have ice in the door!  We also didn’t like the refrigerator drawer option, it seemed to take up space not give extra space and we often found ourselves having to open that and then open the fridge doors to find what we were looking for.  So this time we chose a fridge that had a large drawer inside the refrigerator section so I can still put large trays in my refrigerator, but don’t loose space with an extra large exterior drawer.  But again, those sorts of design options just come down to personal preference.

The biggest thing I knew I wanted was FINGERPRINT RESISTANT Stainless Steel.  Whoever decided that the name “stainless steel” was an accurate description needs to have their eyes checked, seriously, the title stainless steel has to be the most deceptive title EVER!  If you’ve never owned a Stainless Steel appliance let me tell you a little something, STAINLESS STEEL IS NOT STAINLESS. Stainless steel shows every little mark, fingerprint, water spot, everything.  It looks nice and shiny and clean for all of 5 minutes after you take the protective plastic off of your new appliance and then your sweet dear child (or husband) walks by and rubs their grubby little hand across the front of your beautiful stainless appliance and it’s covered in smudges for the rest of it’s days.  But Stainless is the modern trend, so what do you do about it?  Well, some companies are now making a Fingerprint Resistant Stainless Steel and let me tell you, it’s amazing!!!  We opted for a Maytag Refrigerator with the Fingerprint Resistant finish and is truly lives up to it’s name.  Not one smudge on it and we’ve been using it for almost 2 weeks now!  Not all companies make this finish though and that was something we discovered in our fridge search.

You’ll also want to know that not all Stainless Steel finishes are the same color.  “Stainless Steel” is a generic term but does not look the same in all brands.  It’s like saying you have a Red shirt.  There are many shades of red.  There are also many “shades” of stainless steel.  That is a very important piece of information to know if you are buying appliances at different times or if you opt for various brands.  Some brands have a lighter and brighter looking Stainless Steel finish than others.  Some are more shiny and others have a more matte look to them.  And then you have your specialty finishes, like Black Stainless, which are even MORE brand specific.  If you are opting for a specialty finish like a Black Stainless and you want your appliance finishes to match, be prepared to buy all of your appliances in the same brand and model style.  For some this isn’t a problem, like if you’re buying the whole appliance suite (fridge, dishwasher, stove top, oven, etc.) at the same time.  But many of you are like myself, upgrading once appliance at a time.  We only needed to buy a refrigerator right now because we will be remodeling our entire kitchen and will be upgrading our other appliances at that point, but we needed a fridge right now because well, people apparently want to eat in my house.  Our current appliances do not match. They are all Stainless, but they are all different brands and so all vary just a bit in color and sheen and all have different handles as you can see.

If you’re like me and you end up upgrading your appliances at varying times, then there are some other things you might also want to consider before you buy.  Other than the Stainless color, you’ll want to consider your handle options.  Each brand seems to have it’s own style of handle for it’s appliances.  They generally keep the same handle or a very similar handle for all of their appliances in a certain model style.  Also, and this is important, companies update their handle styles from time to time!  So if you buy say a Whirlpool Fridge this year and then plan to buy a Whirlpool stove next year, the handles may not match, even though they’re the same brand.  This was something I learned during our fridge buying process. Another thing to consider is that some companies do not make all appliances in the same model style, or certain appliances may be harder to come by (which usually means more money).  For instance, I came across a gorgeous refrigerator in a slate color that I loved, but quickly discovered that the wall oven in the same color wasn’t readily available so was very expensive to get.  I also discovered that this company had discontinued the unique slate color appliance line (this information wasn’t on any of their websites, I found out from our local appliance store), so even if I was able to find the oven I wanted, if one of my appliances needed to be replaced in the future, finding a replacement would be extremely challenging if not impossible.

Another thing you’ll want to consider is where to buy your appliances from.  There are so many options, from local mom and pop stores to big box stores to technology stores or even online.  I’m a hands on kinda girl so I could never buy an appliance online without being able to open it up and look inside and test drawers and stuff first.  We decided to buy our fridge from a local hometown store rather than a big box store, for a few reasons.  First of all, local stores are usually well educated on all of their appliances.  In fact, they were the ones who told me about the handle options and let me know that the brand we opted for had just updated their handles so before I checked out, they made sure that the fridge we wanted was the most updated version.  Another reason we went with a local store, and perhaps the most important reason for me was their excellent customer service.  With soooooooo many appliance options, I had a lot of questions, and I needed someone who had answers, knew what they were talking about and treated  me well.  I mean, we’re talking about potentially spending thousands of dollars on an appliance, so the person selling it to me better know what they’re talking about.  A bit of a tangent here but customer service is HUGE to me, probably because it’s such a large part of my job, but also because it seems to be lacking in so many industries today, so if you provide excellent customer service, you win my business.

If you’re wondering how much you’re going to spend on a shiny new stainless steel appliance, well, that’s all over the board depending on what kind of appliance you’re in need of, what brand, what model level (each brand usually has several models varying in price) and what finish.  The specialty finishes, like black stainless, can sometimes cost you a bit more depending on the brand.  Our refrigerator came in at just under $2400 delivered and installed.  That sounds like a lot of money, because it is, but it’s also an investment.  It’s going to stand the time of the Stainless Trend, it has the features we absolutely wanted and no extra frills (which are usually just one more thing that can break) is FINGERPRINT RESISTANT (YAY!!!!), is a brand that has excellent reviews and stands by their products, we will be able to match our other appliances to it when we remodel our kitchen and, mostly importantly, it keeps our food cold LOL!

So if you’re still wondering if Stainless is the way to go, from a Realtor’s perspective, YES! Home buyers prefer a home with Stainless Steel appliances. And from a Home owners perspective? YES, just make sure you’re well educated in the options and choose the stainless that’s best for you!

 

CalBRE #01984572

I’m a full time wife, mom and Real Estate Agent and I blog about the real dirty honest stuff about renovation; like what living through a house being torn apart is actually like, the real costs of upgrading, DIY vs hiring it out, etc.  If you like what you’ve read, follow this blog to receive an email with each new post!

The “Discover What’s Missing In Our New Home” Game

We moved into our new house one week and one day ago. There are still about half a dozen boxes or so that need to be unpacked, which I’d say isn’t too bad considering the kids started school last week and we both work full time. Pictures and art still needs to be hung on the walls but the house is functional, for the most part.  One “fun” thing we’ve been doing this week is playing the “Discover What’s Missing In Our New House” game. Now as mentioned before we downsized by almost 1000 square feet so I’m not talking about size that’s missing. Rather this game is about discovering the things you expect to be in a home because they were in your previous home and in most homes but you soon discover when you go to use it that they’re not in your new home.  Simple game, really “fun” lol.

As a Realtor I often point out to my buyers things that are missing. For instance many homes, especially new construction homes or homes that have been flipped are often missing window treatments, like blinds. Something to consider when you as the buyer are the one who will be spending the dollars on that item and they can get pricey.  Our house was no exception but that was an item we took into account.  Since we’ll be doing a bunch of renovations, including adding and moving windows in several locations, we’ve opted for the highly classy and mostly functional but mainly cheap peel and stick paper blinds for our bedrooms for now and everything else is blind free for the time being.

I know you’re jealous of my gorgeous paper shades, don’t act like you’re not lol.
One of the items we noticed missing during our fun game is towel bars. One of our three bathrooms was staged while it was listed and it has a towel ring and towel bar, the other two main bathrooms, the master and our kids bathroom have none! And I didn’t even notice until I took my first shower! Seriously a rookie mistake and I’m no Rookie! So for the past week our bathrooms have looked like a locker room with towels laying wherever they happen to land. Towel bars were not something I planned on purchasing right away since we don’t plan to remodel our bathrooms until later on down the line, but unless I wanted to feel like I was getting ready in a locker room (though my husband would probably appreciate being snapped with a towel), towel bars, rings, hooks were a necessary expense. So I went and purchased towel bars and rings and they’ve been sitting on the counter for the past 4 days lol, so my bathrooms still have towels on the ground, but a least we’re half way there.


I know you all want my beautiful blue sea shell sink and counter. It’s the newest trend, didn’t you know? 😉 Thanks 90s for your rockin laminate style.

Another item our game made us aware of was doorstoppers. No joke, not a single door in my entire house has a stopper on it. That probably should have been my first purchase because my kids are not the most gentle of door openers so I may end up patching some walls as well. So yeah, those are on my “must get” list and will be installed this weekend.

Look! There’s even a hole where the stopper goes but no stoppers, anywhere, in the whole house. Oh well, cheap fix.

The absolute worst discovery during this fun game this week has been the discovery of no Internet. Ok maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, we can get Internet services, we just don’t have any yet. But people I’ve been without the internet for over a week now, OVER A WEEK and I’m a Realtor. A lot of my work needs to be accessed online and working from my phone just isn’t cutting it. Why do you have no internet you may ask? Well, I called our previous internet provider only to discover that they do not service our new area. So I arranged with another provider who told me I should be able to set it up on my own and then they could activate the service. Later that day as I’m connecting all the parts and wires and I call to activate I’m told my equipment isn’t supported by their system. Day 1 of internet frustration. Day 2, I head to the store buy myself a fancy shmancy new modem and router and get them all set up only to realize I’m missing the main cord I need to connect it to my cable connection. So back to the store I go. I call to get it activated after I’ve set everything up and they can’t find my cable connection. So they suggest I plug it into another outlet, which is in another room, which is NOT where my computer will he set up. Yeah, no, that’s not going to work. Day 3, I call back and finally get the company to set up an appointment to send out a technician to get it all set up. What they actually said was “due to self installation failure, we will send out a technician”. Today is that day, day 5, two days since that call and the technician is currently climbing through my attic and under my house trying to run the correct cords so I can have internet. Yeah I’m pretty sure there was no way I would have succeeded at self installation lol!!!  So while I sit here and wait for the wonderful miracle of the internet to be installed in my house, I’m tapping out this post with my index finger on my phone screen, now that’s dedication to this blog if you ask me.

So if you’ve moved recently or you plan to move soon I’m sure you’ll be playing the “discover what’s missing in our new home” game too. I’d love to hear what fun things you discover! And if you’re out looking for a new home, keep your eyes peeled (random note, that’s seriously the weirdest quote ever) for those things that you’ll need to spend money on right when you move in. You might be surprised what you don’t find!

CalBRE#01984572

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The Magic of HVAC

From the first day we viewed our new house as potential home buyers, we noticed right away that there was something not right.  Our home search began in the middle of summer, and here in Northern California our summer this year felt more like the depths of hell with temperatures in the 100’s on a regular basis.  When we first viewed our house one very warm summer evening,  we opened the door are were hit with a wall of extremely hot stale heat. . . .inside the house.  We walked over to the thermostat to turn on the A/C and NOTHING!  The air conditioner did not work at all.  It was a balmy 94 degrees inside our house the first time we viewed it.  It was actually cooler outside than it was inside that evening, LOL!  From that moment until this week, our new home had not been less than 85 degrees inside anytime we saw it.

Let me tell you, it’s a bit hard to fully view a house and take in all of it’s potential when you have to keep going outside to get “fresh air” in the 100 degree weather because the inside air feels too hot to breath.  We knew right from the get go that there was something wrong with at least the Air-Conditioner, and during our inspection period we had the HVAC inspected.  In case you’re wondering what HVAC stands for, because I get asked that question all of the time by clients,  HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning.  We quickly learned from our inspector that our HVAC system was completely shot, not repairable, but needing to be completely replaced. The seller attempted to have the unit fixed, but during our repair negotiations we made it clear we would much rather take on the repair ourselves after the home was ours than have the seller “fix” it (with some price negotiations to compensate of course).

Now some of you might think that it would have been wiser to have the seller install a new working HVAC unit instead of taking on the hassle of doing it ourselves.  Here’s where I’m going to let you in on a tip of mine as a Realtor.  I often highly recommend taking on your own repairs rather than having a seller fix it for you (unless of course you don’t have the finances to fix it on your own).  As I mentioned in my last post, the reason being is that a seller most times will do a fix that is least expensive to them.  As a home buyer, you are the one who will be living with that repair.  In this case, we wanted to make sure we had an HVAC unit that would be best for our family and the most energy efficient for our home.  We got a bid on the potential new unit for our negotiations, but we also got a bid for an upgraded system, that is around 20% more energy efficient which came out to $1000 more.

We closed escrow last week and as I mentioned earlier, we had not been in the house when it was under 85 degrees, bleh.  Until today!!!!  Today I took a load of stuff to the new house and when I opened the door this time, instead of being hit in the face with hot air, the magic of HVAC welcomed me. . .cool air flowing from every vent in my house, aaaaah!  It was heavenly as I’m sure you can tell from my picture below (Don’t mind my beautiful appearance. I call this look Renovation Chic as demonstrated by the day 4 messy hair, comfortable clothes and face au natural).

In case you’re wondering what this magic cool air making machine known as an HVAC system might run you if you needed to replace yours, well, you’d have to contact your local HVAC installer as the cost would be determined by the size of your home and your HVAC needs.  You also should consider contacting more than one company as they often have different pricing.  For us, we needed a dual unit, one that was both Heating and Air-Conditioning as we do not have a separate furnace.  We also needed a unit that would service our roughly 2000 square foot home, but we also wanted to take into consideration the addition we plan to do to the house in the not so distant future, so we made sure to discuss that with our HVAC installer and they added some extra ductwork that will be tied into the new addition.  All in all this project came in at a cool (see what I did there) $9300, for the brand spankin new HVAC unit and repairs done to the ducts under the house.  We opted for the upgraded more energy efficient option which cost us $1000 over the basic model.

Let me tell you, money well spent now that I can be in my house for longer than 10 minutes and not have to go outside to get a breath of fresh air.

CalBRE#01984572

The “not so hot” Water Heater

When you purchase a house you have dreams of moving in and making it your own.   Some buyers look for “move in ready” homes.  My husband and I tend to look for “renovation ready” homes.  Some might call us crazy, but I prefer the word creative.  Living through a renovation is not for everyone, that’s for sure, but we enjoy the challenge of taking a house that needs some love and making it a home that we love.

Our new home isn’t what I would call a “fixer” because it has all of walls and floors in tact (for now until we start ripping it apart LOL), has a kitchen and appliances and upon first look, it looks pretty good.  But upon further inspection, there were many things about this house that needed some serious repair, not just updating.

Being a Realtor I can honestly tell you that getting inspections during the escrow process is one of the most important parts of the escrow.  You want to really know what you are purchasing, so there are less surprises after you close escrow.  For many buyer discovering “problems” like a failed HVAC (Heating and Air) and a roof that needs to be replaced may be a deterrent, but for my family and I it was a welcome piece of information that allowed us to negotiate a lower price.  Now we get to do the repairs on our own, how we want to have them done, with the upgrades that we want for us!  Most of the time a seller will want to repair an issue for the least expensive option possible, because well, they’re not going to be benefiting from the expense after the sale.  But as a buyer it can benefit you to take on those repairs yourself after the home is yours since you are the one who will be living with those repairs.  For some this is a scary option, but for us it’s an exciting challenge.

Ok, Realtor hat off, homeowner hat back on.  So during our inspections we discovered that not only did we need a new roof, but the Heating and Air unit was completely shot, as in did not work AT ALL (and it’s summer people, it’s HOT), the garage doors did not open and the water heater was also not working.  Remember I said this house isn’t a fixer?  You’re probably laughing at me now.

We got keys to the house last Wednesday (YAY!!!) and on Friday the renovations began!  First task, to replace the “not so hot” water heater.  First of all let me tangent for a moment, it’s not called a “hot water heater” people, it’s simply a water heater, because you don’t need to heat hot water.  Ok, tangent over.  The house came with the standard old tank water heater that was original to the home, well past it’s lifespan.  We decided to look into Tankless Water Heater options.    I’m a researcher, some might call me indecisive, but either way I definitely gather a lot of information before I make decisions.  Let me save you some research time if you’re contemplating between a standard tank water heater and a tankless water heater and share my findings with you.  Basically, they both heat water, that’s a given I guess, but in very different ways.  Tank water heaters keep water hot in the tank and tankless heaters heat water as it’s needed.  There seems to be the assumption that tankless water heaters are more cost effective because you are not paying to keep the water hot all of the time.  It’s true, it is going to save you some money monthly on your energy bills to run a tankless water heater.  However, the cost to have a tankless water heater installed will generally run you 2 to 3 times the amount it will to have a standard tank heater installed.  That is because the plumber may have to upgrade or install electrical to new tankless unit and may also have to refit your gas lines (if you have gas or propane) to the tankless unit.  On top of that, you have to purchase the water heater and the tankless water heaters are generally more expensive than the tank heaters.  Tankless heaters are supposed to have a longer life span than the tank heaters, so there’s that, but tankless heaters may also require more maintenance.   Bottom line, it’s not necessarily “cost effective” to have a tankless water heater as the money you’ll spend up front will pretty much make the money you’ll save over the life of the water heater a wash.

With all of the options and pricing considered, we opted for a tankless water heater.  For us it was just preference thing (my husbands preference really), but now we have a shiny fancy new WORKING water heater! Total cost for us was around $3600 for the new tankless water heater and installation.  Isn’t it purdy?!

Not only did we get a working water heater installed Friday, but we also had both garage doors repaired.  Woot woot!  I can park in my garage now!   I know, I know, this is exciting stuff people.  But, this is real life renovation, “not so hot” water heaters and all.

CalBRE#01984572