A resource for folks living in or moving to Los Gatos, by Mary Pope-Handy

Home Improvement

Water heater bracing requirements in Los Gatos

Water Heater straps too close to the controls

The lower strap is required to be at least 4 inches away from the controls. This is an example of one that is improperly done as the controls are closer than 4″.

The state of California has water heater bracing requirements for both gas and electric water heaters, but so do individual cities and towns. Some of those municipalities have rules that go beyond what is required by the state.  (Permits and finals are required everywhere, by the way.)

Recently I found the requirements for the town of Los Gatos, and a couple of them surprised me, so I’m sharing the link here in case I’m not the only one caught a little off guard by it:

TOWN OF LOS GATOS WATER HEATER BRACING REQUIREMENTS (link to the town’s page)

San Jose’s requirements can be found here (for comparison and because they are pretty thorough by comparison to ours):

City of San Jose requirements for water heater installation (strapping, bracing, anchoring, blocking, etc.)

One concept that seems to differ between Los Gatos and San Jose has to do with the pressure release valve.

Los Gatos requirements for the pressure release valve state:

“Pressure relieve valve shall terminate to the exterior, 6 in. to 24 in. above grade with a nothread fitting pointing downward. Minimum ¼ in. per foot downward slope shall be maintained at pressure relief drain line.”

San Jose requirements for the pressure release valve:

There is a full page, and 12 numbered requirements, for the temperature & pressure relief value (T & P). Item 6 conveys that if the water heater is in a garage, the T & P does not have to drain to the exterior: “When a water heater is located in a garage, the T&P drainpipe may terminate in the garage. The piping must extend from the valve to within 12 inches but not less than 6
inches above the floor and point downward.”

Los Gatos has no such exemption for water heaters located in the garage!

BOTTOM LINE:  if you are replacing your Los Gatos water heater, you might want to double check the town’s requirements to be sure that yours will be in line with the requirements of the town. There are a lot of odd water heater strapping cases around Santa Clara County, don’t let your home be one of them!

Making Home Improvements?Talk to Your Realtor First!

June 03, 2007

Home in Los Gatos, CASummer’s just about here, and a lot of folks in Los Gatos, San Jose, Silicon Valley, and all over the country will begin some long-awaited home improvement projects now that the days are long and inclement weather is behind us for a few months. (If you are reading this post from out of state, you may not know that it virtually never rains in California in summer.)

Allow me to offer a piece of advice that I hope will make you money: before spending a lot of time or money on your home improvements, talk to your Realtor*.

You may be wondering, “But I’m not planning to sell. Why should I talk to a Realtor?”

A full time, dedicated Realtor spends a lot of time in houses, condos and townhomes, sees what helps a place to sell and what doesn’t. Usually, a good Realtor has a pulse on which home improvements will pay the most when it is time to sell in your particular market (your area, your price point). Because agents see the impact of additions, remodels, and decor, they can help you to make choices that ultimately will benefit you.

And the best part: there’s no cost to this free guidance.

Real estate professionals want you to have a relationship with them, for you to have them as “top of mind” for all your real estate questions, whether it’s how much the home down the street just sold for, how the market is now, timing issues, or remodelling issues. If it has to do with homes, your agent does want to hear from you! Realtors want to be your real estate resource.

rubics cube - Making Home Improvements?Talk to Your Realtor First!So believe me when I tell you, we’re happy to do it.

So again you may be questioning this, thinking “but isn’t it obvious what improvements will make the most money?” Believe it or not, it does not seem to be intuitively obvious to everyone!

Let me give you a few examples of situations where a home improvement wasn’t ideal:
Remodelling without permits and finals, esp kitchen, baths, or electrical
Choosing bad colors for paint, carpet, or worse: appliances, kitchen/bath work
Too many additions to a home, resulting in akward, dysfunctional floor plans
Adding a pool, large patio/deck or enclosed porch when there’s not enough backyard
Putting in “easy” landscaping that isn’t green enough or doesn’t allow any playroom
Overspending on “staging” (furniture, things that do not stay) but ignoring real problems
Overimproving for a neighborhood (putting a $150,000 kitchen into a starter home)
Underimproving for a neighborhood (cheap improvements in a high-end home)
Garage conversions when there’s no possibility to add a garage or even a carport

Accredited Staging Professionals have extra training in staging homes to sell.We see these things all the time. I’ve seen homes with blood red or crimson carpeting and tile. I have seen homes where the bedrooms were painted super dark colors (makes the room “feel small”) or odd combinations like black and blue that leave the buyer wondering. I’ve seen homes where the kitchen cabinets were painted lime green (my parents bought it when I was a teen: it was a bargain because it was so ugly!). Once I saw a home where the kitchen cabinets and countertops were all made of mirrored glass. I’ve had listings with so many additions, and non-permittted ones, that you could not tell what the point was for some of the rooms. In one case, the county forced my seller to remove a room before the deal could close!

Sadly, while these improvements cost the owner money, it cost them even more money when the home was sold!

Buyers do want a roof that doesn’t leak, a furnace that is safe and efficient to operate, dual paned windows, and nice floorcoverings – whether carpet or hardwood.

A well done kitchen will add great value to a home, but a poorly done one will not.But sell a home with a roof that has deferred maintenance, a furnace that threatens to spew carbon monoxide because the heat exchanger is nearly cracked from old age and use, single paned windows in the age or high utility bills, or hardwood that needs to be refinished or carpets that need to be replaced, and you will get low offers at best.

Buyers want “light, bright and airy”. So, for example, maybe instead of adding dark brown carpets and dark brown wallpaper to match (which seems to be in style this year), your agent friend will suggest adding a skylight, window, or suntunnel to a dark area of your home so that it feels more spacious.

A good Realtor will tell you: put your money into this improvement, not that one. Consider doing X, not Y. Your agent will help you to make choices that will be conducive to your eventually maximizing the value of your home as much as possible.

Sometimes, of course, you have to personalize a home no matter what it does to resale value. Sometimes there is a handicap or disability to consider, inlaws moving in permanently or some other major life circumstance which requires changes that may actually harm your market value in the long term. And that’s ok: your house is first of all your home!

A $5000 patio set will not raise the value of your home $5000Generally speaking, though, homeowners have a lot of discretion in colors, landscaping, remodels. And Realtors can give you input, at no cost, that may help you tremendously.

So before you spend thousands of dollars, pick up the phone and call, or type out an email, your favorite Realtor and ask to meet and go over your ideas and plans. We want to be your real estate resource and we want to help you to be ultra successful when you do eventually sell your home.

~~~~~~~

*What if you don’t have a Realtor? There are a few ways to hire a good one.

First, ask your friends and colleagues whose judgement you trust if they have a good real estate professional. Or you can visit open houses and look for an agent who seems knowlegeable, friendly, and not too busy or pushy. Also you can search the web for an agent in your community and do a little research on the internet to see if this person has a web presence and seems to be competant from what you see online.

Then, no matter how you find your agent, I suggest you “Google” his or her name and see what comes up.

Finally, check the state licensing board to see if the person has been in business long and if there are any official complaints. In California, the web address is the one below, but each state has this information online: http://www2.dre.ca.gov/PublicASP/pplinfo.asp

Mary Pope-Handy's Valley of Heart's Delight logo

Mary Pope-Handy

Realtor
ABR, CIPS, CRS, SRES
Sereno Group Real Estate
214 Los Gatos-Saratoga Rd
Los Gatos, CA 95030
408 204-7673
Mary (at) PopeHandy.com
License# 01153805

Selling homes in
Silicon Valley, with
special focus on
Los Gatos 

and nearby areas,
including
Monte Sereno,
Saratoga,
Campbell,
and the San Jose areas of
Cambrian and Almaden Valley

Helping Nice Folks to
Buy & Sell Homes
in Silicon Valley
since 1993

 

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