Monday, March 24, 2014

Get Decked Out: How to Decide to Repair or Replace your Deck

Decks tend to be the gathering place for many homes so it is important to make sure they are maintained regularly.  Otherwise, small damaged can spread quickly.  Sometimes it's too late for deck repair work and all a deck repair does is buy time until you are ultimately have to replace your entire deck of your home.  To save yourself money and to maximize the function of your deck, it's important to regularly check your homes' deck for damages.

Here are some patterns to notice when determining whether your homes' deck needs repair work or a complete replacement of your deck:

Repair:  Localized damages
Repair work is usually the solution for a deck when the damages are in small areas and have yet to spread.  Since it's only a matter of time before the damages in a deck take over, it's essential to attack the repair issues right away.

Here are a few instances where repair work of your deck would come into play:
  • Wet spots of rotting from water drainage.  One cause of this is having a flowerpot with an overflow of water on the deck of your home in one place for too long. 
  • Early termite damage.  It's extremely important to catch termite damage early on before the damage to your deck spreads, otherwise it will lead to a full deck replacement.
Replacement: Structural damage
Decks are most commonly in need of replacement due to rotting and termites.

Here are some different effects you can notice when your deck is at the end of its life span:
  • Sagging
  • Weak or loose railing posts
  • Loose nails and screws
  • Rotting around the edges of the deck
  • The deck has a spongy texture
  • Soft spots that move in when weight is applied.
When any of these damages are introduced to decks, it's only a matter of time before the entire deck is taken over.  This is why it is important to stay on top of replacing rotting boards or areas where termites are in.

Bring in a professional to inspect your deck of your home and discuss the most cost-effective options with them.  Sometimes the problem is the desk's structure and only a professional can really locate the needed changes.

We welcome you to view a Wardell Builder's YouTube video showing one homeowner's deck:

- - - -
Wardell Builders | | 858-793-4190 | Solana Beach, CA 92075

Friday, February 28, 2014

Lien Release Tracking in California - A Builder's View

Before we start any major project I always warn a new client about the Lien process in California.  It is a very detailed program that protects clients well but the first "Notice" form a supplier that they receive will upset them if they are unprepared. 

Let me delve into this topic a bit.

Clients should receive the "Preliminary Notice" or a preliminary lien notice, from all of the vendors (suppliers or subcontractors) involved in their construction project. 

For example, this would include the concrete and reinforcing bar suppliers that were hired by the foundation contractor (a second party transaction).  The client should not be alarmed; this is the first step in the California mechanics lien law designed to protect both the home owner and vendors.  The notice is designed to let a homeowner know that a vendor (possibly contracted through a subcontractor on a project) believes the homeowner has authorized material or labor costs for work on their property.  The theory being that if this is not true, the homeowner will alert the vendor and the costs will not be incurred.  Vendors should send a duplicate of the Notice to the General Contractor, but just in case, in our firm, we ask clients to forward notices to our office as a double-check.  In the case of a second party transactions we can then amend the payments to include two-party checks to both the contracting sub and the lien claimant for the amount(s) listed.

To satisfy the Preliminary notice we follow the mandated system of four release documents with each of these suppliers and subcontractors:
  • Conditional Release on Progress Payment - vendor acknowledges partial payment received but not yet cashed.
  • Unconditional Release on Progress Payment - vendor acknowledges partial payment received but not yet cashed.
  • Conditional Release on Final Payment - vendor acknowledges full and final payment received but not yet cashed.
  • Unconditional Release on Final Payment - vendor acknowledges full and final payment received and cashed.
The use of two-party checks to second tier vendors is typical in securing complete lien release.  The tracking of tehse transactions may appear complicated but it just required diligence.  We don't pay a second progress billing if we have not received an unconditional partial release for our earlier payment.  The system works well to protect our client's interests and property.  A vendor cannot come back to a client and try to lien their property for fulfillment of a debt if the Preliminary Notice they sent has been acknowledged as paid with an Unconditional Final Release. 

If you have any questions, feel free to call: Terry at 858-793-4190.

Wardell Builders | | 858-793-4190 | Solana Beach, CA 92075


Monday, January 27, 2014

Right Sizing Your Home

There are no rules these days when it comes to retirement. People don’t feel obligated to, or quite frankly even want to, move out of their house when they retire. It can be a time-consuming hassle that often hurts the bank account, especially with this economy. The latest trend is to right-size. 

By 2015, the average home size is expected to shrink by 10 percent, according to the National Home Builders Association. Buying small houses has something to do with the economy, but it simply isn't practical to live in a mansion. People no longer want unnecessary space that won’t pay itself off. 

Having a smaller home is not only more affordable, it can also be easy to maintain and still can meet all your needs. That being said, retirement shouldn't be a time of focusing on moving, it should be a time to make the most out of what you have.

Why move out when you can fully utilize your current living area and make it into a relatively new place?  There are different methods to right-size your home and make it accessible for you as you age and also accessible for anyone who may be moving in with you. 

Maximize: Make The Best Use Of The Space You Have
Right-sizing is all about maximizing your space and getting rid of unnecessary areas. Rooms such as the office or dining room aren't essential to most homes. They can instead be made into additional bedrooms or a room dedicated to whatever you like to do most in your retirement years, whether it’s lounging or working out. 

Customize: Make Your Home Easy To Use
Another idea to consider is rearranging different rooms in your house. If items are going to get harder to reach as you get older, then redo the kitchen so all storage space is lower and easier to access. Components such as a spice rack or bowl/plate shelf can be reworked into pull out drawers.  Showers and baths can be redesigned so it is easier to get in and out of them. Adding new carpet? Make sure the seams with other floor surfaces are flat so they won’t become an obstacle if a wheelchair is ever needed. If you’re planning on having family over frequently or even permanently, then some rooms will want to be redone to suit your new roommates.

Economize: Make Your Home Energy Efficient
Going green has also become a trend that doesn't have an end in sight. Replacing windows and appliances to make them more efficient and eco-friendly will save you money and give your home a new look. 

Strategize: Make Plans And Follow Through
The exciting part of this process is that while changing your house around, you will get the chance to redesign and decorate it. A mesh of the old and new creates an eclectic and fresh look.

Bringing in a builder early in the process is key. The will be able to look over your floor plans and help you discover the various options you have based off your home measurements. You will find ways to maximize your space and rearrange your home to your personal preferences. Right-sizing is about evolving your house into a place that reflects your current needs and style while saving money. 

The best time to start right-sizing is now. Don’t wait until the day of retirement comes to make all these changes at once. It’s best to ease into your designing and renovating. Start thinking now of how you can change rooms around and if you’re going to want to bring in anyone else to live with you. Make the phone calls to a builder and designer to see how you can make the most of your home functionally and aesthetically. 

If you’re set on moving into a smaller or larger place, the ideas of right-sizing should still be incorporated. Focus on only having rooms you need and want. Don’t waste money on space you won’t fully use. Also, make sure to look for appliances and storage spaces that will fit your needs and your budget. Most of all, keep in mind that there are no rules, so have fun with what you do.

Wardell Builders | | 858-793-4190 | Solana Beach, CA 92075


Monday, January 20, 2014


When the time comes to sell the house, the last thing you want is fixable damages to deter a buyer away. Your buyer’s biggest concerns should be how they’re going to decorate rather than how they’re going to make repairs to the home. Save time, money, and stress by making these necessary changes when putting the house up for sale.  
Caulk is a seller’s best friend: it’s cheap and goes a long way. Pick up some caulk from the store and check all seals in your bathroom, roof, windows, gutters and doors. Clean out these spaces before caulking. This improves the look while preventing water leakage.

Re-patch and paint
Take the time to re-patch any holes in the walls from accidents or pictures being hung on the wall. Use lightweight putty to fill in the holes and primer to paint over it once it dries. If the spots are noticeable, repaint the entire wall. Having patches of primer covering sections of the walls will look just as tacky as the original markings.

If the paint on the exterior of the house is peeling or chipping, then it’s time to scrape it off and start over with a new coat as well.

Filters, vents and sweeping
Small problems such as a dirty HVAC filter will make the system burn out quicker while costing more. You can quickly avoid this issue by replacing the filter once a month.

Another simple cleaning task is the dryer vent. Make sure to clean it every year so dirt doesn’t build up and bring the risk of catching fire. A dirty chimney can also be a fire hazard. Hire a professional to clean the chimney on a yearly basis.
Doors, floors and the roof
Anyone who enters a house is going to notice the doorway, especially if there is a problem. Make sure screens aren’t sagging, frames aren’t bent or scratched and screws are in place. New paint on a door will completely spruce up your house’s image.
As for the floors, if there are any signs of discolored or loose boards, then it’s time to replace them. Sand and repaint the entire floor if any baseboards are showing wear and tear.
The roof will make a screaming impression if shingles or tiles are broken and gutters are hanging. Make sure to replace any broken pieces and clean up unwanted filth, such as moss growth.
Leaks and plumbing
No matter the size of a leak or its location, it is sure to bring significant damages to your house and give potential homebuyers real cause for concern. All leaks should be fixed prior to putting up the home for sale. It is also essential to repair any water spots from leaks. Unrepaired water spots leave homebuyers worrying that there may be additional expensive plumbing problems they cannot see.  If your plumbing fixtures are tarnished or are not working properly, just replacing them can help give your home a well-maintained look.

Wardell Builders |  | 858-793-4190 | Solana Beach, CA 92075


Monday, January 13, 2014


Remodeling and updating rooms in your house can improve the enjoyment of your home as well as increase the quality of your investment. Having a home your are proud of and enjoy everyday can be priceless, but not all projects have the same financial payback.  Below are some projects that not only improve the look of your home, but also tend to have a high return on your investment.

1. Give Kitchen Cabinets A Fresh Look

Re-facing your kitchen cabinets is an easy cost-effective upgrade that will cost between $6,000 and $15,000.  Small kitchen upgrades can recoup 85% of the cost if you decide to sell the home.

2. Update Kitchen Counter Tops

Have your kitchen countertops seen better days? Natural stone counter tops, such as granite, have dominated the market for some time, but cheaper, traditional materials are now making a comeback.

Improved laminate countertops are the more affordable options at $25 to $50 per linear foot.  For a more expensive designer look, concrete or recycled glass might be attractive options.

3. Reroofing

Roofing is labor-intensive, so it's not cheap. The typical cost of laying a new roof on a mid-sized house is between $12,000-$15,000. Slate costs more.

But most roofing shingles now come with a 20-year warranty, and upgraded shingles often come with a 30-50 year warranty. A new roof can make a big difference in the curbside appeal of your home. Just as important, having a sound roof can prevent other maintenance problems that can lead to very costly repairs. Most roofing upgrades will recoup around 63% of their cost when you sell, according to experts.

4. Modernize Bathroom Sinks

Bathroom sinks and vanities have become home fashion statements of late, with the rising popularity of sleek stand-alone bowl sinks or sturdy, under mounted vanities.  Replacements can cost anywhere from $1,000-$3,000, plus installation.

Faucets range in price from $200-800. If you can afford the extra cost, consider going for it. When you sell your home, your upscale bathroom remodel should return around 70% of your investment.

5. Swap Out Toilets

Toilets fit over present plumbing, and are fairly easy to install. Toilets cost between $200-$800. Tub prices run between $350-$1,200. A big catch: removing the old units generally costs between $300 and $700. But a midrange bathroom upgrade like this will typically recoup 78% of your costs when you sell your home. When considering a new toilet, shop for modern units that conserve water.

These updates can be done with limited disruption in the normal use of your home. It is important to hire a licensed and bonded contractor to make sure the improvements are done correctly and that you are not liable for any injuries that might occur while the work is being done. Then just sit back and take time to enjoy your new look.

Wardell Builders |  | 858-793-4190 | Solana Beach, CA 92075


Monday, January 6, 2014


Some of the most expensive home repairs are ones caused by neglect. By doing a few tasks regularly, you could save thousands in the long run. Don’t be the person who turns the cheek when damages start to build up. Staying on top of repairs will save you big bucks down the line. Here are some aspects of your home to make sure you are maintaining regularly to protect your investment.

Protect Against Water Intrusion
Water intrusion is one of the biggest concerns for homeowners both from a safety perspective and to help avoid major damage. When looking at water, you want to inspect multiple areas:
  • Rain gutters and downspouts
  • Stucco
  • Exterior paint
  • Showers, sinks and toilets
  • Window seals
  • Plants near the foundation
Seal, clean, caulk and repair any area that needs repair as soon as you notice a problem.

Inspect Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Units
An inspection of your HVAC system needs to be done once a year. The filters should be changed or cleaned every 6 months. The equipment is going to last a great deal longer and save you thousands of dollars if you keep up on its maintenance.

Treat for Termites
If left untreated, termites can ruin pretty much everything in the house from furniture to drywall. To make matters even worse, most homeowners insurance doesn’t cover termite damage. It takes months to years to notice that termites are in your house and by that point, it will be far too late. For this reason, it’s important to stay on top of annual termite inspections in order to protect your home and your belongings. Painting your wood trim and decks also helps to protect against termites and rot. So make sure you have a regular painting schedule.

Inspect and Repair Roof Damage
Roof inspections should be part of your regular home repair routine. The older the roof, the more frequently it needs to be inspected. These inspections will prevent water damage, leaking, roof deck sagging, and cracks. Have all vents sealed and cracks replaced to save your roof from having to be replaced and adding up to 40 years of life onto your existing roof.

Power Wash & Repair Wood Decks
A wood deck should be power washed and sealed every one to three years. This will add 20 to 30 years to the deck’s life and prevent stains, algae, mold, mildew, and water damage. Repair work is essential in keeping small problem areas from spreading. Wet spots from water drainage from flowerpots can lead to major repairs if maintenance is deferred.  Just by repairing rotting around the edges of the deck, you can extend the life of your entire deck.

Clean Dryer Vents
Dryer vents should be cleaned annually. This will prevent lint from building up and the dryer from overheating and catching fire.

Clean Carpets
You should clean your carpet at least every year, but you’re better off cleaning any areas that have heavy traffic more often. It costs thousands of dollars to replace one thousand square feet of a medium-grade carpet and about $500 to clean one thousand square feet of carpet. Annual cleaning will prevent soil buildup and keep you healthier by taking away exposure to bacteria and dirt.

Make Sure Windows Work
Old windows can allow moisture to seep into the house causing rot and mold around the window frame. Updating your windows can help prevent costly damage and also dramatically increase your energy efficiency.

Do Not Overwater Landscaping
Overwatered landscaping next to your home can cause a range or problems that can lead to costly repairs both inside and outside of your home from mold to major stucco damage.  If you notice bubbling or peeling paint on the walls near your landscaping, that is a telltale sign that your landscaping is overwatered. To avoid water damage you can install a drip system for plants near your home instead of sprinklers and make sure the grading and soil slope away from your home so water doesn’t pool next to the structure. Also if your home is stucco, make sure the top of the soil is several inches below where the stucco ends.

Similar to the HVAC system, a chimney inspection needs to be done annually. By having it cleaned out and fixed up you can prevent fires, mold, and damper damage. A couple of hundred dollars in repairs could save you thousands of dollars in repairs in the chimney and even inside your home.

- - - - - - - - - -
Fall is a great time to perform the inspections so you can have any needed repairs completed by the holidays. Hiring a maintenance company to do the inspections year after year makes it easier to spot problem areas and ensures the inspections are not overlooked. Preventative maintenance not only saves money over the long term it also buys more enjoyment of your home while protecting your investment. 

Hire a home repair and maintenance company to do home inspections

Wardell Builders |  | 858-793-4190 | Solana Beach, CA 92075