Susan Coleman | San Rafael Real Estate, Novato Real Estate, San Anselmo Real Estate

Many home buyers seek out fixer-uppers or older homes as a way to save money. And, while this method can be a great way to save, it does come with a few caveats.

Upgrades and repairs can vary greatly in price. Some might be simple, whereas others can take weeks or months, require permits, and uproot your plans. For these reasons, it’s good to know what you’re getting yourself into with home repairs.

In this article, we’re going to cover the most expensive home repairs and upgrades. That way when you find a home listing that you’re interested in, you can rule out these costly repairs early if you aren’t willing to spend the extra money on them after buying the house.

1. Sewer and septic

Finding out you need to replace a sewer line or a septic system can be a nightmare. Sewer lines are most often damaged by tree root growth, leaving older homes the most vulnerable. On average, homeowners spend around $2,500 to repair a main sewer line.

If you move into a new home that previously only had one inhabitant, you may find that the septic system can’t keep up with the increased workload. Repairs for a septic system average around $1,500. And to replace the septic system and install a new one? You can expect to spend around $5,000 or much more, depending on your needs and location.

2. Foundation repair

Older homes are also subject to foundation damage over the years, which can cause many problems, including safety concerns and water damage.

Houses that have poor drainage and high soil moisture are particularly vulnerable to foundation damage. And, like sewer and septic issues, tree roots can also pose a problem.

For minor cracks, foundation repairs can cost as little as $500. However, more severe damage can cost up to $10,000. On average, Americans spend around $4,000 when they repair a damaged foundation.

3. Roof replacement

Roof replacements are inevitable, but there are ways to ensure you won’t have to install a new one anytime soon. For example, slate and metal roofs can last over 50 years. And concrete? A hundred years or more.

The most common type of roofs, however, are made from asphalt shingles, which last around 20 years. In terms of price, asphalt tends to be the cheapest as well, costing as low as $2,000 to replace. Metal and slate roofs are significantly more expensive, starting at $5,000 and $17,000 respectively.

4. Heat pump installation

Installing a heat pump can be quite costly, with the national average being around $5,300. However, if you live in a moderate climate, a heat pump can replace both your furnace and your air conditioning unit.

Furthermore, if you plan on staying in the home for several years, a heat pump tends to be much more energy efficient than older alternatives.

5. Kitchen remodel

Of all the household remodeling projects--basement, bathrooms, etc.--a kitchen remodel tends to be the priciest. Americans spend about $21,000 on a kitchen remodel. The most expensive part? Cabinetry and hardware at $6,000.

Selling your home is easy. Selling for top dollar, on the other hand, requires a lot more work than simply posting a “For Sign” in your front yard (although you’ll need to do that, too!). Here are my tips for designing a winning home sales strategy (hint: it requires planning and preparation).


1) Complete Inspections Prior to Going on the Market

This eliminates surprises and gives you more control when itcomes time to negotiate. If prospective buyers know what needs to be fixed upfront, they won’t be coming back to you with miscellaneous requests for repairsor price adjustments. Presenting buyers with completed inspection reports alsoshows that you’re serious and well-prepared.

2) Paint, Paint, Paint!

Yes, some buyers might love that red accent wall you lovingly painted when you moved in. But, trust me, a neutral coat of fresh paint throughout the home will appeal to everyone.Your house will photograph beautifully, and prospective buyers will be wowed by how light and bright the space looks in person.

3) Find a Great Handyman

Chances are, there are some home repairs that have been sitting on your to-do list since you moved in. Now’s the time to knock them out! Ask your realtor to help you create a punch list for your handyman and let them go to work. The last thing you want a buyer to fixate on is a broken doorknob or leaky shower head.

4) Spring for Staging

Staging does require an initial investment, but this service truly works wonders. I could show you some before and after photos that would blow your mind! Even if you have lovely furniture and beautiful taste, stagers have an exceptional understanding of what will photograph well and what’ll appeal to buyers. If you’re serious about selling for top dollar, this one is a must.

Smart sellers understand and appreciate the value of a proven preparation strategy. Yes, it takes more work and a small up-front investment, but it’ll pay off in the end.

Moving to a new home can be both exciting and stressful -- especially if pets and young children are involved!

Fortunately, there are plenty of strategies for avoiding frayed nerves and keeping problems to a minimum.

Cultivate a Positive Mindset: Making a conscious decision to remain cool, calm, and collected throughout your move will set the stage for a more relaxed experience for everyone. Since stress and irritability can quickly spread from one family member to another, it's up to the parents to set a positive example for the kids. When you resolve to be patient and optimistic about how things are progressing, you'll tend to be more resourceful, encouraging, and solution oriented.

Be organized: Creating a priority list of tasks that need to be completed by a target date is an excellent strategy for staying focused and on schedule. There are a lot of details to attend to when you're moving, so it's usually necessary to have a written plan and a checklist of things to remember.

Here are three ideas to consider for avoiding confusion at your new home: Clearly label all boxes; make sure that screws and other fasteners for dissembled furniture are stored in an easy-to-find clear bag or container, and take a photo (for easy reference) of cable and Internet connections before disconnecting your TV, sound system, and computer equipment. That way, when everything needs to be reassembled and reconnected at your new home, the process will go much more smootly!

Some people tend to just throw odds and ends into boxes, hoping that all the "pieces of the puzzle" will somehow magically fall into place at their new home. Unfortunately, when you pack your belongings in a haphazard manner, frustration is always the end result.

If you really want to be super-organized, consider drawing a "furniture map" of each major room. That way, you can give copies of the plan to the movers and hopefully streamline the furniture setup phase at your new home. Another efficiency tip is to color-code your boxes to help make sure the right moving boxes end up in the correct rooms.

First-Day Survival kit: Since it's highly unlikely that you'll unpack all your belongings and supplies on the first day, it's always a good idea to pack toiletries, medications, a first aid kit, and cleaning supplies in an easy-to-reach place. Other things you might want to have handy in the car for the first day at your new home would be a vacuum cleaner, pet food, dog leashes, toys for the kids, stuffed animals, games, healthy snacks, and cold beverages.

Miscellaneous Priorities: Digital photographs and computer files can be securely stored on a portable hard drive or a free cloud storage service available through Google or Dropbox. As far as small valuables, such as laptops, jewelry, mobile devices, and important documents, it's generally recommended that you transport those items with you in your car -- preferably in a clearly marked box.

Many homeowners have a difficult relationship with their homeowners association. On the one hand, the HOA helps your community stay safe, clean, and makes it a desirable place to live which improves the property value of your home. But, on the other hand, homeowners associations can be a problem if you want to make a change to your property that they disagree with.

 In this article, we’ll talk about some common issues that homeowners face in their dealings with homeowners associations and give you tips on how to handle them so that you’ll have the best possible outcome.

 Study the rules carefully

It may seem like a nuisance, but your best defense when dealing with the homeowners association is to understand what’s expected of you. Not only will it help you stay on good terms with the HOA, but it will also make it easier to understand what your options are.

It’s a good idea to understand these rules and bylaws before you ever move into the neighborhood, but it’s never too late to learn them. It might help you later on down the road should you want to paint your house or build a new structure in your yard.

Introduce yourself to the members

It’s best to get off on the right foot with the other members of your homeowners association. You don’t want your first meeting to be a complaint against you, nor do you want to introduce yourself to someone only to make a complaint against someone else.

It will also give you a chance to ask questions about the community and to get an understanding of how easy or difficult it is to deal with the regulations of the homeowners association.

Don’t assume ill-will

If you find that a complaint has been raised against you, don’t act immediately. Take some time to compose your response and be sure to acknowledge the complaint. Odds are that the other members of the HOA aren’t there just to give you a hard time.

Choose your battles

There are some things worth fighting for when it comes to your home. However, you don’t want to be repeatedly challenging the HOA on small issues. Stick to the rules on the things that aren’t hugely important, that way other members won’t come to expect issues from you.

Follow protocol

When you’re required to get permission from the board before making a change to your property, be sure you follow the steps laid out in your agreement. Doing so will avoid any unnecessary conflict.

Pay all dues and fines on time

Even if you are in the middle of a disagreement with the HOA, it’s better to continue paying your dues and fines that to leave them outstanding. If you don’t pay, you risk further penalty, including fees.

Plan ahead if you want to change the rules

If you’re dissatisfied with some or man of the rules of the homeowners association, odds are you’re not alone. First, start by talking with other neighborhood members. If they have similar views on the rules in question, you can bring them up collectively at the next meeting.

Your second option would be to run for the board and try to enact the changes yourself. However, you should never seek a position out of spite or anger. Only volunteer your time and effort if you want to lend a hand in your community and make life better for all of the inhabitants.


Looking to buy a luxury home in California? You'll definitely want to assess the malls located near luxury houses throughout the Golden State. By doing so, you can find a California luxury home that makes it simple to enjoy a fun, exciting shopping experience any time you choose.

Ultimately, California luxury homebuyers should have no trouble finding a top-notch residence located near a deluxe mall.

There are many top-notch malls located near Golden State luxury residences, and these shopping venues include:

1. South Coast Plaza

For luxury shopping in Costa Mesa, nothing beats a trip to South Coast Plaza. Here, you'll discover a vast collection of unparalleled boutiques and award-winning restaurants.

South Coast Plaza is home to more than 250 deluxe shops. Plus, it's located only minutes from various California beaches, guaranteeing you can celebrate a beach trip and a shopping experience all in the same day.

Of course, no trip to South Coast Plaza would be complete without a visit to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. This superb performing arts complex is located in South Coast Plaza and hosts a broad array of live theatrical performances throughout the year. That way, South Coast Plaza ensures that you can go shopping and watch a live show at a single location.

2. Westfield Valley Fair

An upscale indoor shopping mall in San Jose, Westfield Valley Fair delivers a shopping experience unlike any other in the Golden State.

Westfield Valley Fair offers something for everyone. If you're on the lookout for the latest and greatest smartphone, you're sure to find plenty of high-end electronics and other state-of-the-art technologies at Westfield Valley Fair. Or, if you want to pick up the right shoes for a special occasion, Westfield Valley Fair's shoe shops have got you covered.

In addition, Westfield Valley Fair hosts many events year-round. This means you can enjoy shopping and much more any time you visit this one-of-a-kind Golden State mall.

3. Fashion Valley Mall

Fashionistas rejoice! Fashion Valley Mall in San Diego offers Southern California's trendiest fashion shopping experience, and for good reason.

Fashion Valley Mall boasts more than 200 stores, including many international fashion retailers. Also, the mall is decorated with stunning palm trees and dazzling fountains to provide a comfortable, stress-free shopping experience.

Clearly, there are many terrific malls located throughout the Golden State. And if you plan to purchase a luxury house in California, it may be worthwhile to consider which malls are located close to luxury residences throughout the state.

For those who intend to buy a California luxury residence soon, it may be a good idea to contact a real estate agent too.

A real estate agent will keep you up to date about luxury houses that become available near some of California's most popular malls. Furthermore, he or she can set up home showings, help you prepare an offer on a luxury house and offer expert support throughout the homebuying process.

Evaluate luxury houses located near any of the aforementioned California malls, and you are sure to find a great residence that you can enjoy both now and in the future.