A Guide to the Home Building Process

May 3rd, 2016

There are many different things to expect during any major construction project. This new home construction overview will allow you to monitor your project and make sure you are in the know during the key stages of the process. Some rules, regulations and procedures may vary depending on your location, but these 10 basic guidelines will keep your project moving in the right direction towards completion.




  1. Site preparation & pour foundation – Usually these two tasks are performed by the same crew. The crew will use machinery to clear the site for the house to be built. The crew then sets up the wooden forms and footings, the structures connecting the house and the supporting earth, and pours the concrete. The concrete will then need time to cure at which point there will be no activity on the site. Once the foundation is poured and cured a city inspector will come out to make sure the process has been done properly.

  2. Complete rough framing – The floor systems, wall and the roof of the house are completed. This allows for exterior windows and doors to be put in place. Once the structure is up then they will wrap the house with a protective barrier allowing for the house to prevent from water getting in, while allowing water vapor to escape reducing the chance of mold or rot.

  3. Rough plumbing, electrical and HVAC – The shell has now been completed and can now be completed with siding and roofing. While that is going on plumbing and electrical contractors begin running their respective pipes and wires throughout the house. Once the roof is completed the house is considered “dried in.”

  4. Insulation Installation – Insulation creates a comfortable climate as well as increasing the home’s energy efficiency. Most homes get all exterior walls, attics and any floors located above unfinished basements or crawlspaces. There are many different types of insulation and it varies which one you should use depending on your type of home. Consult your contractor to find out which one is right for you.

  5. Complete drywall and exterior finishes –  Once the house is “dried in” and insulation is where it needs to be, drywall is hung and taped to ensure a seamless look to the walls throughout the house. Then a painter will paint the primer coat. Exterior finishes are started by contractors ranging from brick to plastic siding depending on the preference of the homeowner.

  6. Finish interior trim, exterior driveways and walkwaysInterior doors, baseboards, door casings, window sills, moldings, stair balusters and other decorative trim are installed, along with cabinets, vanities and fireplace mantels and surrounds. Walls get a finish coat of paint and are wallpapered where applicable. Most of the time this is when the exterior driveway and walkway will be finished so they are not damaged by heavy equipment carrying things such as multiple loads of drywall.

  7. Install hard-surface flooring and countertops; complete exterior grading – At this step, your home is ready for the ceramic tile, vinyl, or wood flooring you have always dreamed of. Countertops can also be installed while this process is going on. Grading is finished on the yard to ensure proper drainage away from the home.

  8. Finish mechanical trims; install bathroom fixtures – Now is time for the finishing touches on the exterior of the home. Light fixtures, outlets and switches are put in place and the electrical panel is wired. Sinks, toilets and faucets are put in and fully operational. HVAC is installed and registered.

  9. Interior and exterior finishes – Mirrors, shower doors and carpeting are all installed and then the interior is ready for its final cleanup. On the outside of the home trees, shrubs and grass are planted and all other exterior landscaping is completed.

  10. Final walkthrough – Your builder will take you through your freshly finished home and show you all of the features and how to operate the different systems throughout. They will give you a rundown of responsibilities of upkeeping the home as well as different warranty coverages. This is also a time for the resident to find anything they think needs to be fixed or adjusted and examine for damages.

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PETS: In the Home and On the Move

April 21st, 2016

Whether you are moving across town or across the country, taking a pet with you will take extra preparation. First, make sure that your pet is collared with a contact number on it. As you prepare to move, contact a veterinarian about getting any necessary medicine to help with animal car sickness if needed. If going a long distance, make sure to plan your hotel stops ahead of time to ensure they accommodate your pet. When the day comes to move and you’re packing everything in make sure your pets are in secured and well ventilated crates or carriers.


Vacationing with your pet does not have to be difficult. A vacation with a pet usually includes getting some type of vacation rental that allows you to enjoy a home away from home atmosphere. Although it feels like home, it should give you tons of new territory to explore. Places like Lake Placid, NY and Myrtle Beach, SC are great places to visit.

There are plenty of great places to take your pet for a trip in Syracuse, NY where you can get great views of the upstate scenery. Here are a couple to choose from:

  1. Onondaga Lake Park (106 Lake Drive, Liverpool, 13088): The county refers to it as “The Central Park of Central New York.” You will see lots of dogs on seven miles of paved paths.
  2. Highland Forest (1254 Highland Forest Rd. Fabius 13063): The “Adirondacks of Central New York” offers 20 trails for humans and their canine friends. Dogs must be on leashes, though once you venture deep into the woods and you trust that your dog will behave, it’s possible to slip him off the leash.
  3. Thornden Park (bordered by Madison Street, Ostrom Avenue, Clarendon Street and S. Beech Street): The park with the pretty rose gardenhas paved roads and green spaces that populate its 76 acres right next to the Syracuse University campus!

Whenever you think your pet is not doing so well, you want them to go to a Veterinarian who is going to give them the best care possible. If your pet seems to need care here are some Vets to look into in the Syracuse area:

  1. Dewitt Veterinary Medical Center (22 Old Bridge Street East Syracuse, NY 13057) looks to provide “Compassionate Care for Animals Big & Small. We are proud to promise that our veterinary clinic provides both state-of-the-art services and compassionate care for all of the animals we work with.”
  2. Quarryside Animal Hospital (4915 Jamesville Rd, Jamesville, NY 13078) Our goal is to offer the highest quality Veterinary Service and care at an honest price. We aim to treat the client as a friend and their pet as if it were our own. Our job is not finished until our friends are satisfied and our pets are completely and thoroughly cared for.
  3. VCA Shop City Animal Hospital (105 Shop City Plaza Syracuse, NY 13206) “Our compassionate and friendly staff believe in the strength of the human-companion animal bond and treat each and every patient as if it was our own. We are also firm believers in education, not only for our staff, but for our clients as well.”


If you have a pet, you know how important they can become in a household. Make sure you’re doing your part to keep them safe, happy and healthy!

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5 Useful Real Estate Apps for Buyers and Sellers

April 19th, 2016

Technology is becoming a bigger part of our everyday lives, it’s even beginning to make the buying and selling process in the real estate market much easier. There are apps that can help you every step of the way making your experience easier, less time consuming and more organized overall. We will show you apps that can do all this for you and more, usually for no fee at all!

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 2.00.56 PMMortgage Calculator (FREE) – This app will help you figure out how much that house you’re thinking about will cost per month AND provides a real-time look at the current mortgage and refinance rates. One user said “This is a good, simple to use app to help calculate the monthly cost of a mortgage. I especially like the fields to add expenses, which are often very significant to the cost of home ownership but are easy to overlook.”

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 2.01.40 PMMagic Plan (FREE and paid versions) – “No more using paint or pad and pen, now i can put together professional looking floor plans!” Do you love a house but are unsure how your furniture now will fit? With MagicPlan quickly create professional floor plans & work estimates. It measures your rooms and draws floor plan just by taking pictures. Simply add objects, annotations, photos and attributes to generate reports or complete estimates.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 2.02.10 PMHouzz (FREE) – This is a platform for home remodeling and design, bringing homeowners and home professionals together in a uniquely visual community. Houzz was called the “single best source” for finding inspiration by The Washington Post and the “Wikipedia of interior and exterior design” by CNN. Get inspired with over eight million high-resolution photos of home interiors and exteriors that you can browse by style, room and location, save and share.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 2.04.17 PMAroundMe (FREE) – How many times have you found yourself in need of finding the closest Gas Station? AroundMe quickly identifies your position and allows you to choose the nearest Bank, Bar, Gas Station, Hospital, Hotel, Movie Theatre, Restaurant, Supermarket, Theatre and Taxi. With over 25 million searches completed every month in over 200 countries – they’re the most widely used app of their kind.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 2.03.40 PMDIY Tip Genius | The Family Handyman (FREE) – The ultimate DIY app from the publishers of The Family Handyman Magazine. This app offers clever ideas and pro secrets that save time, money or hassles, and that make the difference between a poorly done project and one you’re proud of. You’ll find helpful tips on storage, painting, carpentry, woodworking, plumbing, electrical, repairs and more!

Download our app – make searching for your home as easy as possible http://app.kw.com/KW2HVVTPZ/



7 Easy Thoughts to Budgeting your Kitchen and Bath Remodeling Costs

April 14th, 2016

Home remodeling projects can seem so easy and fun in the beginning–scrolling through blogs and other sites pinning pictures and desired looks that you eventually hope to implement in some way in to your renovation.

When taking these steps, one might not think about the word budget. This may crush the dreams you had of intricate cabinet work and high-tech appliances, as you begin to think about steep labor costs and other things that barely crossed your mind like electricity and plumbing. Even if the renovation of your dreams fits your budget it is hard to figure out how much you will need to allocate to each of the different costs that accompany a kitchen or bathroom renovation. Here’s how you can be prepared for project costs and avoid unexpected last-minute expenses.

  1.     Hire a home inspector.

Although initially this may seem like all it does is increase the cost of your project, but hiring a home inspector to give your soon to be renovated area a new look will allow you to be prepared and ready for any unpleasant and unexpected surprises during your remodeling. Knowing these pitfalls in the beginning will allow you to keep your budget closer to what you had originally estimated.

  1.     Understand your budget.

According to the experts at the National Kitchen and Bath Association, you can get the best estimate of your budget and where to spend with the categories listed below. The guidelines will allow you to avoid sticker shock when you get bids from estimators. This will allow you to get the dream kitchen or bath while spending in the right spots.

kitchen-renovationKitchen Renovation
Design fees: 4%
Installation: 17%
Appliances and ventilation: 14%
Cabinetry and hardware: 29%
Countertops: 10%
Lighting: 5%
Flooring: 7%
Doors and windows: 4%
Walls and ceilings: 5%
Faucets and plumbing: 4%

bathroom-renovation-3Bathroom Renovation
Design fees: 4%
Installation: 20%
Fixtures: 15%
Cabinetry and hardware: 16%
Countertops: 7%
Lighting and ventilation: 5%
Flooring: 9%
Doors and windows: 4%
Walls and ceilings: 5%
Faucets and plumbing: 14%
Miscellaneous: 1%


  1.     Be realistic with your budget.

It can seem like common sense to go in with a realistic budget for your product, but for some people it may be a difficult thing to face. “Sometimes this conversation can be uncomfortable, but it’s so easy to overspend on the kitchen and bathroom,” says Anne Reagan, editor-in-chief of Porch.com. One thing that can drive up your bill is unexpected product rush delivery costs that can quickly drive up the costs.

  1.     Is a permit necessary?

A permit for your renovation project is only necessary sometimes. Things such as fencing installation, window installations that are bigger than the previous ones, structural changes, etc. may require a permit. The professional gets the permit typically, but it is the responsibility of the homeowner to make sure that the permit is obtained properly.

  1.     Avoid scope creep in construction costs.

This simply means to stick to your plan. Adding one piece of furniture can lead to needing even more décor pieces around it to make the room flow properly. Remodeling one room can give you the desire to keep going throughout the rest of the house. Prices can begin to climb when converting a kitchen into a kitchen dining room combo.

  1.     There’s more than the sticker price.

When thinking about the cost of your counter top, make sure you are also thinking about things like installation and maintenance costs. These are called “associated costs” and can be very unexpected if not thought about prior to your purchases. “For example, if you want marble countertops, you’ll need to purchase the entire slab (even if you don’t need the entire slab) and pay for cutting fees, finishing fees, edging, delivery, and more (costs vary by region and supplier). So not only is marble on the high end per square foot, [but also] there are other higher installation costs associated with this material,” Reagan says.

  1.     “Am I capable of being my own general contractor?”

This is a very feasible task, but you need to make sure you can be responsible for all aspects of the project. Included would be subcontractors, sourcing materials and accessories, and making sure that everything arrives on time. This can be a big way to save costs. It is essential to make sure you are fully capable of taking on some tasks by yourself rather than hiring out, because they can end up costing you more in the long run.

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Best Attractions in the Syracuse Area

April 12th, 2016

Whether you’re new to town or looking for a fun activity on a slow day, this list will provide you with some great activities to do in the Syracuse area.

Rosamond_Gifford_Zoo_6389825The Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park – is like nothing else in the area. They strive to provide their guests with “the best day ever.” “Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park is among the top 10 percent of zoos in the country as an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is dedicated to connecting people to the natural world by providing engaging guest experiences, exceptional animal care, and unparalleled conservation education.”

destiny-usaDestiny USA – The place that has it all. You can get a full day of experiences in an establishment that is so big it needs its own area code! It is New York’s largest destination of its type with over 250 places to do everything from shopping, Go-Kart racing, an antique carousel, and the world’s largest suspended ropes course in WonderWorks. Destiny USA is a destination you can visit over and over again and have a fun, memorable experience every time!

11335199-largeThe Erie Canal Museum – This is the official museum of the Erie Canal and is housed in the only remaining weigh lock building in America. Their mission is “the Erie Canal Museum collects and conserves Canal material, champions an appreciation and understanding of Erie Canal history through educational programming and promotes an awareness of the Canal’s transforming effects on the past, present and future.” It is a great opportunity to show how this building and the canals allowed for the Syracuse area and all of New York to flourish.

Museum of Science and Technology – At theMuseum of Science and Technology there are exhibits that will grab the attention of all ages. It includes an IMAX theatre with different showings throughout the year. There is a lot of hands on things for younger kids to do and stay busy. If you are looking for a cheap day with the kids where they will have more activities than time then this is the place to be. There are always special events going on throughout the week so be sure to check their website!

062502 LANDMARK 6 DL CNY 2002 PHOTO BY DAVID LASSMAN Landmark Theater -  stageThe Landmark Theatre – Centered in the middle of downtown Syracuse in the heart of the action. The venue is amazing, including a gorgeous balcony and some of the best acoustics. “This venue is awe inspiring with its 1928 architecture and glitz. The variety of shows offered can attract a diverse audience. Patrons smile when they leave – what more could you ask?” said one visitor. Check out their schedule and pop in to see a show of your preference!

All of these sites have earned a Certificate of Excellence on TripAdvisor. Next time you’re wondering what you should spend your day doing, check out one of the attractions listed above for a day filled with fun and new experiences!
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Looking to sell your home fast?

April 4th, 2016

Usually when people are looking to move they want it to be a quick and easy process. Often it doesn’t turn out that way. There are multiple items that a seller can do to prevent a dragged out process enabling you to find a house and making it a home. Here you will find steps to take to make your home selling experience a quick and painless one.

  1.     Price your home right – Price your house aggressively and attract more buyers. This can work in your favor causing buyers to begin a bidding war and possibly send the price above the true value of the home.
  2.     Half-empty closets – This may sound like a funny trick but storage space is essential. By having your storage spaces half empty this will make them appear more spacious and appealing to the buyers.
  3.     Light it up – This is one thing that a lot of buyers are looking for–a home with good lighting. There are plenty of things you can do to brighten up your home like putting in higher wattage light bulbs, changing the lampshades, cutting the bushes outside the windows, etc. Before a showing make sure to open blinds and curtains.
  4.     Play the agent field – It is essential to make sure your agent is doing all things possible to sell your home. It can help to look for an agent who is tech-savvy as a lot of leads are found from online sites.
  5.     Clean up the critters – When a buyer walks in to a home the last thing they want to do is see a litter box or smell a dog food bowl. Tidy up all of your animals things and try to clean up the hair as much as possible.
  6.     Don’t upgrade too much – Doing minor fixes can do wonders for the value and look of your home, but making a large investment could hurt you in the long run. Things that aren’t too costly and can help out a lot are a fresh coat of paint, cleaning the curtains, and even changing doorknobs.
  7.     Take the home out of your home – a great thing to do is to depersonalize your home. This allows your potential buyers to imagine the home as they would want it. Stage your furniture to maximize the use of space in a room. Buyers may become more distracted on who lives in the house rather than picturing themselves living there.
  8.     Kitchen is huge – Your kitchen is how you sell your home. This is the place where you will be able to see biggest return on your investment when putting your home on the market. Some of the easy and cheapest things to do are replacing hardware and putting on a fresh coat of paint. Use clean, neutral, smells like fresh baked cookies or a basic lemon cleaner to freshen up the kitchen. Skip the candle or plug-ins for adding fragrance.
  9.     Show-ready – As a seller you want to make your home as accessible to buyers as possible. This means leaving your home as staged as possible. You want an agent to be able to come and show your home whenever they call. Tidy as often as possible and be aware as you go throughout your day.
  10.   First impression is everything – Your home gets judged before the buyers even walk in the door. Make sure your home is welcoming with shrubs and bright flowers. When your home is staged have a bench or maybe even some cookies. Keep up on seasonal things like raking leaves, shoveling walkways, etc.

Following these tips doesn’t guarantee the sale of your home, but may speed up the process!

Download our app – make searching for your home as easy as possiblehttp://app.kw.com/KW2HVVTPZ/

“10 Best-Kept Secrets for Selling Your Home.” HGTV. Web. 16 Feb. 2016.

Mortgage Rates Continue to Impress

March 28th, 2016

GREAT NEWS! Mortgage rates continue to impress

One deciding factor for many potential home buyers is the interest rate that they will be financing their home with. Good news is continuing to rain in for these people as mortgage rates continue to fall. Many people believed that the end of the record low streak was on the horizon when the Federal Reserve raised rates for the first time in a very long time. “This is evidence that the Federal Reserve isn’t the sole determinant of U.S. mortgage rates,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate, said in response to the non changing mortgage rates.


Although the Federal Reserve rates are not directly connected to mortgage rates, there can sometimes be a trickle down effect making it more expensive for banks to borrow money from the government. This can ultimately make it more expensive for the consumer. No fear though, the rates continue to drop This may be the reason why home sales continue to grow on a year-to-year basis as they are up 7.7% from a year ago. So if you are planning on making a move in the near future, DON’T WAIT. Now may be the time to put those plans into action.

A look at rates this week

  • The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.78% from 3.88%, according to Bankrate’s Feb. 10 survey of large lenders. A year ago, it was 3.9%. Four weeks ago, the rate was 4.05%. The mortgages in this week’s survey had an average total of 0.20 discount and origination points. Over the past 52 weeks, the 30-year fixed has averaged 4.01%. This week’s rate is 0.23 percentage points lower than the 52-week average. This is the lowest rate for the 30-year fixed since May 2013.
  • The benchmark 15-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.06% from 3.15%.
  • The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate jumbo mortgage fell to 3.68% from 3.77%.
  • The benchmark 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage fell to 3.18% from 3.21%.

Download our app – make searching for your home as easy as possible http://app.kw.com/KW2HVVTPZ/

Read more: http://www.bankrate.com/finance/mortgages/mortgage-analysis-021116.aspx#ixzz40NgwLZ3R

Rent or Buy?

March 7th, 2016


When pondering the options of renting or buying there are many things one needs to consider. Both have their pros and cons and one may be more suitable for someone than the other. One basic thing to think about is that when you buy a home you are planting your roots. It may be wise to think about buying if you are planning on staying put for 2 years or more.

Buying a home comes with much more responsibility; however, it can also be a cheaper option in the long run. A rent check may feel like throwing money away for some, but taking on a lot of mortgage debt may be something that others just cannot handle. One writer for Redfin Corporation believes that there are 5 things one should look at when scanning their options of renting or buying:

  1. Get your credit in check – Before you even get the thought of owning a home you need to make sure that your credit is in line or else banks will not want to give you a mortgage. Also make sure that your debt-to-income ratio is in check because this is the  second thing the banks will be looking at (To determine your ratio, add up all your monthly debts, including car, student loan and credit card expenses and the potential mortgage payment, and divide it by your gross monthly income).
  2. Budget, then shop – Shopping before you get your budget in line can lead to real disappointment. Often times first time buyers will find a place they love and then realize that it just is not in your price range. Usually a good real estate agent won’t give you the run around with houses that you just simply cannot afford.                                                                                                                       Apply for a loan now!
  3. Inspections should not be taken lightly – Inspecting a home before moving in compared to a rental property is different in many ways. With a rental unit you are checking basic things like appliances, light switches, garage doors, etc. Now when you are making the long-term commitment of buying, it’s up to you and your home inspector to spot everything from mold to leaks. When you are having the inspection make sure to accompany the inspector and ask a lot of questions. A thorough process may take a few hours!                                                                                                                                                           Get an inspection today!
  4. Factor in the extra costs – When looking at home prices many searching buyers strictly look at the cost of the home. These buyers are overlooking one large factor; property taxes. If your property taxes are part of your monthly payment you need to be aware that they may raise your monthly rate. Another additional cost is going to be homeowner’s insurance. If you are taking out a loan, homeowner’s insurance is mandatory. Talk with a lender to better understand the extra costs you may be running in to.
  5. Repairs are all yours – Anything that goes wrong is now your responsibility. This may be the biggest difference between renting and owning a home. No longer do you call your maintenance person and ask them to come fix any problem you have. You are now responsible for finding a repair man and paying the bills.

All in all, switching from renting to buying a home is a big decision and one that needs to be thought about methodically. Making sure you are ready for the move and that it’s the right thing for YOU.


Download our app – make searching for your home as easy as possible http://app.kw.com/KW2HVVTPZ/


Vasel, Kathryn. “Should I Buy a Home While Still Paying Student Loans?” Web. 16 Feb. 2016.

Redfin, Blogger. “Going from Renting to Buying a Home.” Redfin. Redfin, 9 June 2014. Web.

Tips for Staging

February 17th, 2016

This video will give you tips on how to stage your home and get it sold as fast as possible!

Syracuse’s Lincoln Hill Home offers English Gardens

August 23rd, 2015

This spectacular colonial offers  2900 square feet of elegant living space. This property is located in the Lincoln Hill neighborhood with terrific access to Syracuse amenities. Just minutes from Armory Square, Destiny Mall and access to route 690 to bring you anyway you wish to go. You will delight in the large spaciousness of this Grand Dame of a home offering spaces to come together or areas to be alone for reading, relaxing or just enjoying the view of a spectacular and private back yard.

Sits High Atop

Sits High Atop

Center Hall Elegance

Center Hall Elegance


Elegant and Spacious

Spacious Living Room

English Garden

English Gardens