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Welcome Lucky Magazine December Issue readers!

November 5, 2009
Lucky Magazine December Issue with Carrie Underwood

Lucky Magazine December Issue with Carrie Underwood (and Me!)

Welcome Lucky Magazine readers! What a pleasure it is to finally be able to reveal my experience meeting the West Coast editor of Lucky, having a shoot at my house with the supremely talented Amanda Friedman, and landing in Lucky Magazine this month.

Shall we start by mentioning the emotions one goes through on hearing the editor of Lucky Magazine is coming to your house? In three days.  With a crew! I’m not sure there’s anything more exciting — and my designer/ project manager brain immediately kicked into overdrive.  Glee. Delight. Pride… and back to overdrive.

Overdrive- colored with purpose- is a comfortable state of affairs over here at LMD — (with admittedly more personal primping and detailing than a normal week demands of us.)

The Lucky feature is called “Insider Picks” and it gives readers an opportunity to climb into the mind of cool hunters spanning several industries — and get their favorite tricks and products – with a little girly beauty advice peppered in for fun.  This was a perfect fit for me, since daily my work straddles the line of what is often deemed more masculine pursuits – from solar panels, plumbing, roofing, and electronic home-geekery straight through to the more feminine — custom fabrics and upholstery, curtains and artwork, and design elements.

The shoot was exuberant — fast paced, fun, and full of conversation about my business model, how I help my clients take care of their homes and shop, and little touches that make everybody feel luxurious in their own home.

Some outtakes from my Lucky Magazine shoot with Amanda Friedman

Lucky Magazine polaroids -- shot by Amanda Friedman

We talked at length about the way women live in their bathrooms, apply makeup, and some simple things I like to address with my clients about this under-served and overworked space.  With packed schedules and task juggling at an all time high, the time devoted to ourselves often gets cut first in a crunch.  Small touches in the home can keep you sane!

Check out the feature below.  Happy Reading!

Lucky Magazine December Issue Insider Picks featuring Laurie March

Lucky Magazine December Issue Insider Picks featuring Laurie March Design

Stay tuned to take a peek at my recommendations, some funny out takes,  and online shopping.

Winds blow through LA, leaving your pool to deal with the mess…

October 28, 2009
A windy weather day in LA leads to lots of debris in the pool.

A windy weather day in LA leads to lots of debris in the pool.

Living in Los Angeles, we experience some of the more interesting weather and geological patterns on the West Coast.  Anyone trying to get anywhere this week got blown away (and not in a good way) by strong wind gusts zipping across town.  Power lines went down, 1920’s windows rattled, and shrubbery everywhere shook in their roots.

Dramatic, you say? Yeah, a little. Until I peeked at a pool.

This is a seriously unhappy pool filter.

This is a seriously unhappy pool filter.

The popularity of life here makes efficient property useage a big deal. To stake our claim, we often take every inch of our properties and use them in the most creative ways. Many city and valley homeowners add in large hedges for privacy — especially around outdoor living spaces like backyards and pools- (hello, bikini and swim trunk prancing BBQ, anyone?)

Over time, and with good watering, these hedges can add huge property value and privacy, but can have some unknown consequences. Back to the weather. 35 mile per hour winds unexpectedly shaking these hedges can throw off some serious leaves and dust.  This week was no exception. Peering into a lovely backyard with tall ficus hedges, I saw a very unhappy pool and filter – and a lot of potential problems too.

Lovely ficus hedge is the messy culprit.

Lovely ficus hedge is the messy pool filter culprit.

Many people have a pool man that comes to take care of their pool and spas– Pools can be a serious investment.  If not, send your teenager (or husband? dog?) out to do the job.  We all run the risk of expensive equipment repair and service when we don’t also ‘self-police’ the condition of the pool, and request a little TLC when needed– i.e. call your pool guy if you think you need a professional cleaning job, people!

When a pool filter is full of leaves and debris, it can’t properly continue to filter the water- causing the pump to continually run.  It sounds distressed (grumble grumble, cough) and sucks a lot of air through the system.  A sign of a full filter basket in your pool is lots of little air bubbles coming to the surface.

Air bubbles on the surface mean it's time to clean the filter!

Air bubbles on the surface mean it's time to clean the filter!

Needless to say, burning out a pump is NOT a fun home repair expense!

It’s the little things that keep home systems in operating order, and save us all big bucks in major repairs.  Have a question? Email us here and we’ll help.  Oh, and go clean your filter!

Leah Thayer with Remodeling Magazine and I discuss the Little Things…

October 20, 2009

Protection of Surfaces

Leah Thayer of Remodeling Magazine and I have a serious chat about where remodeling as an industry is going, and who seems to be rising to the top.  Check out my secret sauce for keeping homeowners happy, and the little stuff we all hope contractors will do when they’re working in our houses.

http://www.remodeling.hw.net/blogs/postdetails.aspx?BlogId=lthayer_blog&PostId=89936

Ten Home Inspection Deal Breakers… and a Little Chat with the Guy Under Your House

September 15, 2009
Hmm... this can't be good.

Hmm... this can't be good.

I’ll admit- I’m insanely curious about homes. When I’m at friends houses, I ask the kind of questions that earn me blank looks, head-scratching, and an occasional eye-roll over my obvious enthusiasm for the things many people overlook. But nobody beats out a Home Inspector when it comes to an eye for detail…

If you’re a realtor in LA, you probably know David Salvato- with DHI Home Inspection. He’s one of those people that seems to magically be everywhere, a featured Home Inspector on Active Rain, and I love his juicy updates on Twitter describing conditions good and bad in homes all over LA.

Today I grill David in honor of first time home buyers- and giving them some sound advice, with a quick Q & A followed by some of David’s Home Inspection Deal Breakers.

@EvangelistaLA: David… I’m guessing you either have to be OCD or majorly methodical to be a home inspector. Where’d you get your patience?

@FollowDHI: I get my patience by remaining focused on the task at hand. I inspect every home as if were one I was buying for myself. As the owner of David Home Inspection my name is on every inspection and I take that very seriously.

@EvangelistaLA: How do you feel about buyers who want to be present for your inspection?

@FollowDHI: I love it! I guess I must have been a teacher in another life or something. I truly enjoy sharing the details of the home inspection with the potential buyers.

@EvangelistaLA: Gimmie the dirt. What’s the worst thing you’ve seen on an inspection?

@FollowDHI: I would have to say by far the worst thing I’ve ever seen was a complete cutaway of a roof truss system to make room for a non-permitted bonus room. The roof could have collapsed on the occupants. The Home was deemed uninhabitable by the local building department. It took an investor to remove all the damaged trusses and rebuild it.

@EvangelistaLA: Woah. I’m guessing with banks taking ownership of so many homes you’re seeing some crazy conditions in REO properties. What’s the deal?

@FollowDHI: Conditions vary with location- and the amount of time the home is left unattended. It’s not uncommon for a Home Inspector to find things like the Heating and Air Conditioning systems removed. Vinyl doors and windows missing. Copper plumbing and electrical wires pulled out. I recently inspected a home where the $6,000 pool equipment had been stolen!


Your bonus: DHI’s Top Ten Reasons Homeowners Tend to Walk Away:

  1. Foundation cracks that are beyond normal. Small hair line cracks are considered normal – caused by the shrinking and settlement of the concrete itself. Larger cracks are sometimes caused by large tree roots or poor soil conditions.
  2. Mold. At times mold will come up on the report. Mold in large amounts can be caused by long term roof leaks, plumbing and irrigation damage- and the health effects attributed to major mold exposure may be serious.
  3. Asbestos. Any home built before 1978 will contain asbestos of some type, unless it’s been removed already. In older homes where the new owner wants to renovate, it is best to know where the asbestos laden products are and call a pro to remove them. This can impact a renovation budget heavily.
  4. Lead. For young families with small children a home with lead paint can be a big issue. Many times I find paint peeling or flaking off- leaving small bits of paint that can be ingested by children. The lead paint removal process is a expensive, and takes time.
  5. A Bad Roof. The roof system is one of the most important parts of the house. Replacing a roof can cost thousands and in some case even over ten thousand. Wood damage under the roof will cause the replacement price to escalate quickly.
  6. Wood destroying insects and organisms. Subterranean termites are the most common termite in the United States. A mature colony has from 80K to 400K workers. (eek! Something tells me they’re not lazy either…) The average colony can consume a one foot length of 2×4 in 118 days. Other unfriendly suspects inclue the Powder post beetle, the Carpenter bee, and the Carpenter ant. Long term infestation by any of these pests can lead to the loss of structural integrity.
  7. Household pests. (uh. Yuck…) Rats and mice are the most common finds in Southern California homes. This is especially true in homes that have a lot of fruit trees and date palms. Rodents can cause thousands of dollars in damage to the homes systems and equipment. They can eat the insulation off electrical and control wires, can nest in and destroy HVAC ducts as well.
  8. Missing or damaged systems and equipment. Plumbing, electrical and HVAC equipment are some of the first things taken. Many homes are being sold as is- Bank Owned. When homes are left unattended they are subject to thieves removing HVAC equipment appliances, copper wire and plumbing.
  9. Signs of past fire damage. Even after repairs have been made many people can’t get past the feeling of bad luck that comes with a home that’s been involved in a house fire.
  10. Death or Murder in Home. (major eek!) We saved the worst for last. Everyone has seen Amityville  Horror. Never meet anyone who went through with the purchase of a home after this kind of disclosure.

Seen something wild? Bought or sold a house somebody died in? Shoot us a comment!

Getting Back to Normal Faster: Before and After A California Wildfire Evacuation

August 31, 2009

Wildfire
With dark gray and pink smoke blankets hovering over many areas in Southern California today, many people are facing rapid evacuation in areas that have not burned in over sixty years.  Some have had warning, and spent a sleepless night hurriedly packing their most important belongings and necessities into suitcases and cars, and watching the glowing skies in preparation for the Fire Department and Police giving them word to evacuate.

We hope at a time like this, that everyone has taken safety precautions for their property, including good homeowners’ insurance coverage and an up to date photographic home inventory.  If not, and only where safe, in areas that have not been evacuated yet but are threatened, we suggest taking two minutes to photograph your home before you leave.

Steps to Photograph your Home In an Emergency:

  • Start in the rooms where you have the most expensive belongings, like your living room. Stand all the way against one wall and photograph the opposite wall. Repeat from every wall, taking a photograph of every wall.
  • Shoot kitchen, bedrooms, laundry room. Capture your closets, both storage and clothing, so that you can remember what you own.  If your home is damaged, you will not be in a state of mind to try to remember what you have-these photographs will be invaluable to you in an insurance claim.
  • If you own a valuable collection of china, silverware, art, or wine, this is a good time to photograph that as well.
  • If you have time and it’s safe, shoot pictures of the actual structure of your home, including all exterior walls, landscaping, garages, and carports.
  • Anything that can be considered an architectural feature of your home, like large pillars or a stone stairway should be photograhped as well, to show the quality of home you have.
  • Shoot close up shots of anything over $500. TV, furniture, electronics, jewelry, antiques, cars, appliances.
  • Photograph valuables that you are packing to take with you, as time allows, in case items are damaged as you are evacuating.

Keep your camera and battery charger with you as you prepare to leave. You will want to be able to print pictures as needed for an insurance claim.  It goes without saying that human and animal lives should come before your belongings in these situations. These steps should be taken only if you have time and are not being called to evacuate. Those being called to evacuate need to leave immediately.

Here is a link to an excellent list of what you should bring with you in case you are being evacuated.

http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/psicc/fire/WEB-Evacuation_Guideline.pdf

By taking these steps,  you protect your investments and your family can return to normal faster after a natural disaster or wildfire. A good photographic home inventory, combined with proper homeowners’ insurance coverage can save you considerable heartache in the event of a disaster.

Hey you- What’s the point of your blog? 100 characters or less… Let’s hear it!

August 24, 2009
Simplifying remodels, upgrades, shopping, and repairs for the home. Designing our way through it!

Simplifying remodels, upgrades, shopping, and repairs for the home. Designing our way through it!

Friends.

You are fascinating and cool! And everyone is reallly busy.

So…  tell me here what the point of your blog is- in 100 characters or less. Leave room so that we can tweet out to anyone who may not have met you yet, or may not know why you’re you.

I’m sure I will link to this list when someone new gets on Twitter! (imagine the time you’d save explaining to someone who they should follow, and why you like them?)

I’ll go first.

@EvangelistaLA Simplifying remodels, upgrades, shopping, and repairs for the home. Designing our way through it!

Your turn …

Keep Calm, Keep Going…

August 6, 2009

escalator

Ever feel like you’ll never get to the bottom of something? Like you are always plugging away at your projects and goals, always stressed about things on your To Do List?

Don’t forget to take a minute to keep calm, and keep going. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and envision what you’re working toward, and why you’re working so hard!  Whether it’s redoing a room, taking on a major organizing project, or just trying not to get mauled by life on the way by, you will always be better at whatever you do if you enter the task with a fresh eye.

Incidentally, this escalator was in the subway system in Prague, where I traveled this Summer. It was the longest escalator I’ve ever seen! At first, I felt a little claustrophobic, a little panicky, and like the end was incredibly far off (and the lighting really green!)

It took what seemed like forever to get to the bottom, but along the way I grabbed my camera and took a few shots, and I closed my eyes. I felt a strange sense of calm, of quiet. When I hopped off to Flea Market in the country, I felt good. Really good.

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