What’s Tripping Your Circuit Breaker?

You’re cooking, washing clothes or just turning on the blender. All of a sudden, the power goes out in some area of your home. Something is tripping one of your circuit breakers. But what could be causing this?

Should you treat it as a minor inconvenience, or should you be concerned that you might eventually have a house fire? Homeowners with an older house or a fixer-upper home may be particularly susceptible. Freshome asked the electrical experts to explain what’s tripping your circuit breakers and how you can solve this problem.

short circuit

Sometimes, a short circuit also causes sparks and smoke. Image: gcafotografia/Shutterstock

Short Circuit

One cause of a tripped circuit breaker is a short circuit. “A short circuit is common, but not necessarily dangerous,” according to James Dickson, Owner at Mr. Electric of McKinney, TX.

“This is when a hot wire is contacting either a neutral or a ground wire anywhere along the circuit,” Dickson says. “This causes an overload of current to flow through the circuit breaker for a very brief period of time, usually a second or less, creating heat,” he explains. Dickson says the circuit breaker automatically shuts off in cases like these to prevent an electrical fire.

dont repair equipment

Don’t attempt to repair equipment or cords yourself unless you’re a pro. Image: Artazum/Shutterstock

Ground Fault

Approximately 200 people a year die from ground faults, making this the source for the majority (66%) of residential electrocutions. “A ground fault happens when a neutral wire’s return current does not exactly match the hot wire’s current that was given to an appliance,” Dickson says. “In order to avoid a ground fault trip, the currents must match to within 3-5 milliamps.”

Here’s an example from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission of what could happen with a ground fault. A bare wire that is inside of an appliance touches the appliance’s metal case, charging it with electricity. If you happen to touch the appliance while you’re also touching a grounded metal object (like a cool, trendy water faucet), you will get shocked.

arc fault

An arc fault can cause a fire. Image: JR/Stock/Shutterstock

Arc Fault

“Circuit breakers know what standard arc conditions are and can differentiate between series and parallel arcs,” Dickson explains. “When a certain flow of electricity falls outside of these standards, the breaker interprets this as a potential fire hazard and will trip the breaker.” This breaker tripping fault relies on circuit boards and preloaded data to determine the conditions of a circuit, setting it apart from other circuit breaker trips. “The other three (short circuit, ground fault and overloaded circuit) all use mechanical means to control the tripping,” Dickson says.

redistribute electrical loads

Redistribute electrical loads if needed. Image: Rashevskyi Viacheslav/Shutterstock

Overloaded Circuit

Another cause of a tripped circuit breaker is an overloaded circuit. Dickson considers this the most dangerous condition that would trip a circuit breaker. An overloaded circuit occurs “when your electrical circuits are pushed to, or past, their rated limits due to too high of a load,” he says. “Components (switches/receptacles) can start to fail or the insulation on the copper (hopefully not aluminum) wire will start to melt off.” And when this happens, Dickson says the electricity will start to arc between the wire and any combustible source. This situation is dangerous because it increases the chances of starting a fire.

According to Tom Wallace, a Certified Master Inspector at Home Check Inspections in Riverview, FL, an overloaded circuit is the most common reason why circuit breakers trip. “A circuit can become overloaded if too many appliances are being operated at the same time or a single device is using too much power.” Make sure your new bathroom technology isn’t contributing to the problem.

large appliances

Large appliances need dedicated circuits. Image: Breadmaker/Shutterstock

Dedicated Circuits

Some fixed appliances need separate, dedicated circuits. They ensure that these appliances can operate without overloading the system. According to the National Electrical Code, these are some of the appliances that need a dedicated circuit:

  • Refrigerators/freezers
  • Ovens
  • Wall ovens/electric ranges
  • Dishwashers
  • Toasters
  • Washers and dryers
  • Space heaters
  • HVAC units and furnaces
  • Blow dryers
  • Garage door openers
don't reset

Don’t continue to just reset tripped circuit breakers. Image: Yentafern/Shutterstock

GFCI/AFCI protection

Circuit breakers can also trip if they are GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) or AFCI (arc fault circuit interrupter) protected, Wallace says. “GFCI breakers trip when a ground fault is detected in the circuit,” he says. Most new home builds require GFCI protection in wet areas including the bathrooms, kitchen, exterior and garage. “AFCI breakers trip when an arc fault is detected in the circuit,” Wallace says. “These breakers are typically required in bedrooms, dining rooms and living rooms.

hazardous situations

Find a solution to hazardous situations. Image: Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Avoid Tripping Circuit Breakers

“One way homeowners can avoid tripping circuit breakers is by ensuring that their installer or remodeler is using both GFCI receptacles and an AFCI circuit breaker in their home,” advises Bill Timmons, Marketing Manager of Residential Products at Legrand.

“Many new appliances in kitchens and laundry rooms confuse circuit breakers,” Timmons says. And it’s not easy for older or disabled homeowners to go to the basement to reset tripped breakers, he notes. An AFCI breaker is better than a standard circuit breaker in recognizing and removing an arcing situation before it becomes a fire hazard.

If something continues to trip your circuit breaker, Freshome recommends that you consult a qualified electrician to safely diagnose the problem.

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What is a Barndominium? Could It Be Your Next Home?

Barndominium Color Ideas

Choosing the right paint color for every room of your barndominium is easy when you’ve already created the perfect color palette. Image courtesy of PPG – Modern Farmhouse Palette.

You may be new to the barndominium style, but this pretty and practical home style is gaining in popularity. Barndominiums, nicknamed “barndos,” got their start as a practical living option. Many farmers and ranchers created a loft area above a working barn so that animal caretakers could stay close by.

Today, the popularity of barndominiums has evolved into luxury homes and vacation rentals, especially in upscale rural areas with ranch land and vineyards. Fixer Upper’s Chip and Joanna Gaines remodeled a barndominium on their show, creating a social media buzz about these unique homes. Most barndo construction uses a steel shell, then adds tons of interior customization options.

Entertaining is a breeze with large doors and windows that flow outside. Image: Mint Images/Getty Images

The Advantages of a Barndominium Home

There may be no ‘typical’ barndominium, but most share a few key advantages:

  • Simplicity: Barndos are often built as a shell with simple interior framing.
  • Construction Time: The popular metal shell construction goes up quickly.
  • Durability: Metal barndos withstand the elements and have a longer life than most standard home-building materials.
  • Flexibility: Barndominiums can be configured for living or work/live space.
  • Indoor/Outdoor Lifestyle: Rollup doors and large windows encourage indoor/outdoor living.

Designing the Interior of Your Dream Barndo

One of the barndo features owners like best is the flexibility of the interior layout of their new space. Some rooms will require a specific location due to plumbing and other utilities built into the home. Beyond that, though, the interior layout can be customized to your needs.

Plan your essential needs first, like square footage and how each room will be used, before you start your interior layout sketch. Knowing how you’ll live in your home is essential to a comfortable design. Barndominiums work best as an open concept home, often with a loft area above. 

The structure of a barndo encourages indoor/outdoor living. Rollup doors, big windows and wrap-around decks can give a feeling of spaciousness to your interior living space. 

Bring the outdoors inside with dramatic windows in your barndominium or open concept home. Image: hikesterson/Getty Images

Interior Design Tips for This Open Concept Home

A barndominium is truly an open concept home, so tips and ideas for an open interior layout definitely work here. When you’re decorating a barndominium or great room in any home, color becomes your easiest and best tool for defining space. To unify a large, open space, a colorful stripe that runs the perimeter of the room is a great trick that helps it look more intimate. Accent walls are still very much in style and can create a focal point in a large open space. And don’t forget, ceilings can be accents walls, too.

Furnishing the main areas of a large barndominium can be a challenge, but there are a few tips that make it easier to get a balanced look.

  • Choose Large Furniture: If you are furnishing a big, open space, using large furniture, like sectionals and oversized chairs, can fill the space without looking too busy.
  • Create Areas Within the Space: Grouping furniture together for conversation or eating areas prevents the “furniture store” look from which many open layouts suffer.
  • Use Color to Unify: If you’re grouping furniture within your barndo great room, stick with one color palette across all the areas you’re furnishing. That way, your colors tie everything together.

The HGTV Fixer Upper Barndominium Episode

HGTV’s Fixer Upper tackled a barndominium in Season 3 for a family looking for acreage and a unique home. Chip and Joanna Gaines reimagined a 1980s barn that already had an apartment upstairs. Their remodel used the upstairs apartment and the stable area downstairs to create a two-story, 2,700 sq. ft. home.

The Fixer Upper floor plan created a large upstairs kitchen and living room. Family bedrooms and an indoor/outdoor gathering space for entertaining complete the downstairs floor plan, including a 17-foot custom dining table for entertaining. The owners listed the totally remodeled barndo for sale in 2019 with a 1.2 million dollar price.

The post What is a Barndominium? Could It Be Your Next Home? appeared first on Freshome.com.

Small Apartment in Taipei Reveals Great Storage Options

All images courtesy of A Little Design.

This small apartment in Taipei, Taiwan, envisioned by A Little Design studio, ranks high in creativity. Despite a total living space of 22 square meters (236 square feet), the flat is as practical as it gets.

According to the designers, the space clearly defines all the living functions. The stairs lead the way to the upper “bedroom” but also increase the accessibility to the cabinets in the wall. A fridge and a cupboard are located under the stairs, thus expanding the kitchen.

“The sofa area behind the wardrobe is a small, cozy corner which makes up for not having a living room,” the designers further explained. “The sofa can also be used as a single bed to host a guest and the deep drawers below complement the storage.”

Specially designed for a business person permanently on the move, the apartment had to include an ingenious solution for a working space. It more than meets that requirement. First, it has a retractable table upstairs that serves as a desk. Additionally, a side table adjoins the sofa on the ground level, perfect for placing books and magazines when working. And the sofa becomes an ideal reading nook with plenty of natural light coming through the large window.

Enjoy the virtual gallery below and let us know if there are other details that you find inspiring.

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What is a Fire-Rated Door and Do You Need One?

In 2017, U.S. fire departments responded to 1,319,500 fires. In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a U.S. fire department responded to a fire every 24 seconds. There were 499,000 structure fires, and 72 percent of those structure fires occurred in home structures. Also, of the 3,400 civilian fire deaths in 2017, 77 percent occurred in home structures.

Could fire-rated doors help reduce the loss of life and property in residential settings? Here’s what you need to know about them.

What is a fire-rated door?

Fire-rated door beauty and safety

A fire-rated door can provide beauty and safety. 20- 90-minute fire-rated MDF door, style 9244. Image courtesy of Simpson Door Company

A fire-rated door — or fire-resistant door — is specially constructed to slow or prevent the spread of fire and smoke, according to Ken Canziani, Senior Fire Investigator at EFI Global in Sacramento, CA.

“A fire-rated door is a very heavy door made of materials like metal or gypsum,” Canziani explains. “The term ‘fire-rated’ means that the door, when installed properly, is not supposed to combust during a certain time frame in the average fire.” While time ratings vary, he says standard ratings include 20- to 90-minute doors.

Fire-rated doors are more common in commercial buildings than in residential structures. “Fire-rated doors are often installed in public buildings, in office buildings and in places like dormitories,” Canziani says.

Typical residential applications include installation in entryways, garages and multi-family homes.

How can a fire-rated door help during a fire?

Fire-rated door buys more time

A fire-rated door could buy you some additional time. Image: Monalyn Gracia-Corbis-VCG – Getty

Fire-rated doors can help slow or prevent the spread of fire and smoke, but Canziani warns that they are not designed to be completely fireproof. “These doors are made of combustible materials and will eventually burn through in a fire. However, they will resist the penetration of heat and flames to slow the fire for a specified time period.”

And by containing the fire and smoke, they provide additional time for you to exit the structure.  Most people focus on the element of fire, and they don’t underestimate the significance of reducing smoke inhalation. However, the majority of people who die in residential fires do so as a result of smoke inhalation.

“Fire-rated doors may also help to protect property and personal assets while firefighters work to extinguish the fire,” Canziani adds.

Types of fire-rated doors

Fire rated door should not be propped open

Fire-rated doors should never be propped open. 20-minute fire-rated wood door, style 8212. Image courtesy of Simpson Door Company.

While fire-rated doors are more common in commercial settings, there are many companies that sell residential fire-rated doors.

For example, according to Amira Johnson at Emerald Doors in the UK, the company makes fully finished and unfinished exterior fire doors, in addition to custom-made and bespoke fire doors. Most of the company’s doors have a fire rating of 30 minutes, although some have a fire rating of 60 minutes. Their exterior fire doors are made of plywood or composite core. The company’s interior doors can either have solid panels, clear fire glass or obscure fire glass. Emerald Doors can also make custom fire doors so homeowners can decide which architectural details (raised moldings, etc.) they want in their door.

Fire door options

There’s a fire-rated door to match almost any design style. Image courtesy of Simpson Door Company.


Closer to home, Simpson Door Company in McCleary, WA, also makes fire-rated doors. Most of the wood doors have a 20-minute fire rating. However, the MDF (medium density fiberboard) doors are available in 20-minute, 45-minute, 60-minute, and 90-minute fire ratings.

Homeowners can choose from a variety of wood species and styles, to ensure that the fire-rated doors match the rest of the home’s styles.

Do you need a fire-rated door?

Fire door gaps

Gaps around the door will render it ineffective. Image: Michael Blann/Getty Images

A fire rating does not necessarily indicate the amount of time a door will withstand a fire. For example, a fire door rated 60 minutes does not guarantee that the door will withstand fire for 60 minutes. The rating means that in a controlled test environment, a brand-new door held up for 60 minutes. However, in a real-world application, other factors like heat intensity could greatly reduce this estimate.

“Although a fire-rated door is designed to prevent a fire from passing from room to room, let’s be honest. Even with the right door, a severe fire can melt steel,” says Abe Kozlik of the International Fireproof Door Company in Brooklyn, NY.

Also, a fire door won’t do you any good if the door is propped open or the closing mechanism is faulty. In addition, the door has to be properly installed to ensure that there are no gaps around it.

Fire doors can provide peace of mind. However, properly using your existing doors may be all that you need to do in a fire. “In a residential setting, the simple act of closing the door to a room will slow or can prevent the heat and smoke from entering the room and injuring occupants or destroying additional property within,” says Canziani. “If the fire originates within the room, the closed door may aid in slowing the spread of the fire to other parts of the residence, depending on the time the fire burns before being extinguished.”

In fact, Canziani says he’s personally observed residential fires in which closed doors resulted in significantly less fire and smoke damage compared to doors that were left open.

The post What is a Fire-Rated Door and Do You Need One? appeared first on Freshome.com.

How to Remove Asbestos from Your Home

You don’t want to find asbestos in your home. It’s not one of the 9 germiest places, and perhaps it’s not as widely-known as mold. However, this residential toxin can cause a variety of serious health problems. In this article we cover what asbestos is, why it’s so dangerous, where it’s located and how to remove it.

What is asbestos?

Asbestos close-up

You can often find asbestos in exposed insulation. Image: Brasil2/Getty Images

“Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that can be mined from the ground in practically any part of the world,” according to John Ward at Mold Busters. “Composed of thin, dense fibers, asbestos is a desirable material in the construction industry for its ability to resist heat, fire and electricity.”

The period of 1920 to 1989, he says, was the peak era for asbestos use in residential construction. If your home dates from that period, the material may still lurk in a variety of places.

Why is it so dangerous? “If these tiny fibers are disturbed, they become airborne and can be easily inhaled,” Ward warns. “Even minimal exposure to asbestos can cause serious problems like persistent wheezing, coughing or difficulty breathing, growths in the throat and lungs, mesothelioma, and eventually lung cancer.” Some people who experience Sick Building Syndrome may actually suffer from exposure to asbestos.

Your chances of developing an asbestos-related disease vary, according to Cancer.gov. For example, it depends on the length, the amount and the source of the exposure. The size/shape/chemical makeup of the fibers are also factors. Other individual factors include whether you smoke and if you have a pre-existing lung disease.

Many countries ban asbestos. But the U.S. is one of the few industrialized nations which does not completely ban it, according to Asbestos.com. In fact, the site states that hundreds of U.S. consumer products contain it. The only stipulation is that it must represent less than 1% of the product.

Where is asbestos in your home?

Asbestos in home

This toxin can lurk in a number of places. Image: hikesterson/Getty Images

“Asbestos is often overlooked or hard to identify due to its incorporation into other household substances, like vermiculite attic insulation and cement,” according to E. Walsh, director of community outreach for Mesothelioma.com.

“Inside the home, it could be in your kitchen walls, bathroom vinyl flooring tiles, and old-fashioned popcorn ceilings,” Walsh says. “Other places that owners of older homes might not be aware asbestos could be lurking are light fixtures, paint and plaster, caulking to seal cracks and gaps, and window glaze to keep the draft out of a home during the colder months.”

He says that in the past, people used basements and attics more for storage than living quarters. Older basements and attics often include exposed materials like insulation. “Large and outdated appliances in the basement, like furnaces, water heaters, and pellet burning stoves should be updated ASAP; however they should undergo testing for asbestos prior to DIY removal,” according to Walsh.

Asbestos in attic

Attics and basements sometimes contain asbestos. Image/Bilanol/Getty Images

You can spot it easily in your attic or basement. “Uncovered insulation made with vermiculite asbestos tends to have a grey-brown coloring and has a coarse, pebble-like texture,” Walsh says.

“Home owners should be wary of concrete walls and flooring as well: although this material is hard to break, exposure can happen through the smallest crack or gap,” he explains.

The exterior of your home

So, what should you look for outside of the home? “Old roofing shingles, siding and other material on the external of the house have all been linked to asbestos,” Walsh says. However, he explains that this isn’t necessarily a serious danger. “Unless the house is struck by some sort of natural disaster such as excessive rain storms, or high winds,” you may not need to worry about the exterior as much. However, if you’re rebuilding after a hurricane, it’s definitely a consideration.

Ward recommends extreme caution whenever you plan on buying a fixer upper home to renovate or when you’re doing maintenance work on an older home.

“Asbestos fibers can be released into the air during routine maintenance work, renovations, demolition, drilling, installation of electrical wiring, and so on, since these workers can damage asbestos-containing materials,” Ward says. “We actually have a horrifying case study of how a duct cleaning company tore contaminated duct wrap without even knowing it and exposed the homeowner to dangerous asbestos.”

How to remove asbestos

Asbestos don't breathe it in

Breathing these fibers is hazardous to your health. Image: Science Photo Library/Getty Images

While DIYers like to take matters into their own hands, we don’t advise it here. Our two experts both warn against trying to remove asbestos yourself.

“Asbestos is a tricky substance due to the dangerous properties it holds,” Walsh says. “When fully intact, the dangers of asbestos exposure drastically decrease, but, when friable materials become broken, these microscopic fibers can break and become airborne.” If you breathe or ingest these small chalky pieces, he says you could contract some serious diseases. “They include lung cancer, asbestosis, or mesothelioma, which is a cancer that manifests over an extended period of time (20-50 years),” Walsh says.

Due to these serious risks, Walsh says you should never remove it from your home without an abatement professional.

First, call in a professional to properly test your home. “When calling a local inspector, it’s imperative to make sure they handle asbestos abatement, and some cases might require a specific asbestos abatement contractor,” Walsh says. “A professional will have the ability to safely monitor the issue and follow proper protocol to see that no one is exposed.”

Asbestor certified professionals

Certified professionals can safely remove this dangerous material. Image: Samburt/Getty Images

If the test results come back positive, he recommends getting the substances out of your home. “This could potentially put a dent in your home renovation budget or timeline, however it will also save you and your family from unwanted health issues in the future,” Walsh says.

Leave it to the professionals

Ward agrees that homeowners should not test for the material or try to remove it themselves. “Any suspicious materials should be tested and removed by certified professionals.” Ward says that an asbestos professional will then set up a proper containment of the area. “These individuals will also have industry-grade personal protection equipment (respirator masks and full body suits) in order to minimize asbestos exposure,” he explains.

“After the contaminated materials have been removed, the area can be cleaned and HEPA vacuumed and the asbestos can be disposed of safely.” Ward says that the average homeowner risks exposure if they try to dispose of it.

When it comes to dealing with this hazardous construction material, leave the removal to the pros.

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4 Factors That Make All The Difference In Your Bathroom Remodel

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Remodeling your bathroom is one of the best things you can do to add value to your home. However, undertaking this process is anything but simple. There are so many little decisions to make and important factors to consider that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. With that in mind, we’ve brought you four factors that make all the difference in your bathroom remodel. Concentrate on these and you’ll end up with a final product that you’ll be in love with for years.

bathroom remodel

Plan the layout first. Image: Peshkova/Shutterstock

The layout

The layout is a key part of the remodeling process. For one, if you decide to change the layout from its existing structure, it will likely be one of the most expensive parts of the entire remodel. For another, it’s one of the least likely facets of the remodel to be able to be altered if you decide you don’t like the end result. In light of that, it’s important to take this step of the process seriously.

To do so, your first step is to think about how well your bathroom functions currently. Are you able to move through your daily routines with ease or are there certain areas where you continually get frustrated? Maybe you and a partner have trouble getting ready at the same time or there isn’t enough storage space to suit the needs of your whole family.

Whatever your pain points are with the existing layout, be sure to write them down, along with the measurements for your current space. Then, bring these notes to a qualified contractor. He or she will be able to walk you through your options for solving your current space issues and help you come up with a new layout that truly suits your needs.


Make sure to include plenty of lighting. Image: Lungkit/Shutterstock

The lighting

Lighting is often one of the most overlooked components of the remodeling process, yet — especially when you’re redoing a bathroom — it is also one of the most crucial. Don’t believe us? Just think about how hard it is to complete daily grooming tasks like shaving or putting on makeup without a proper light source. To that end, you need to make sure lighting remains a priority as you undertake this project.

We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: the key to good lighting is layering. There are three main types of lighting that you can use and, ideally, your bathroom will include a mixture of all of them. They are as follows:

  • Ambient: Also known as general lighting, ambient light fills the majority of the room and allows you to move around safely. It usually comes from recessed lighting, track lighting or wall-mounted fixtures.
  • Accent: Accent lighting is used to highlight a particular focal point, such as a statement shower. Picture lights, wall-mounted-fixtures or track lighting are common, and dimmers are often used on these features to provide mood lighting.
  • Task: As the name suggests, task lights are used to assist you in completing a particular function. This could be anything from a lighted mirror to a pendant light that hangs over the tub.

Pick your materials carefully. Image: ArchiVIZ/Shutterstock

The materials

Though the materials that you choose to use are an important consideration for any remodeling project, the materials that you choose for a bathroom remodel are even more crucial because they make up the majority of the room’s functional and aesthetic potential. Truth be told, in a bathroom, there’s little to hide behind, so you want to make sure that every material you choose is the right one.

As you plan out the remodel, you’re going to want to select materials for the following areas:

  • Flooring
  • Countertops
  • Cabinets
  • Bath Fixtures
  • Backsplashes
  • Waterproofing
  • Lighting
  • Specialty Features

For each of these materials, head to a showroom and talk to a specialist about your options. In addition to aesthetics, evaluate each one in terms of price, safety and the required upkeep. Do your best to make decisions on each one before starting the remodeling process. Otherwise, you run the risk of making a decision that accidentally overinflates your budget.


Don’t forget to consider the aesthetics. Image: PlusONE/Shutterstock

The aesthetics

Finally, consider the aesthetics of the room. Though a bathroom may lead with its functionality, that doesn’t mean it should be entirely devoid of aesthetic value. Use the materials that you’ve chosen as the backbone of your design and then make choices on purely aesthetic factors — like the paint color or any accessories — that complement that backdrop.

If you need help deciding on a direction to take, don’t hesitate to use sites like Freshome as a source of design inspiration. However, you can also take things to the next level by employing interior design services like Modsy or even bringing in a pro to do the job for you.

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FSBO: Should You Sell Your Home Without a Realtor?

Who knows your home better than you do? Not only have you actually lived in it, but you know all of the home’s great features. You’ve put years of TLC into it. So it may seem like a waste of money to pay someone else thousands of dollars to sell your property. Especially if you’ve done your homework and have a pretty good idea of how For Sale By Owner (FSBO) works.

However, have you considered all of the other factors that go into FSBO? Below, Freshome takes a look at the pros and cons of selling your home without a realtor.

Advantage: Saving Money

FSBO can eliminate the middle man

FSBO can eliminate the middle man. Image: RichLegg/Getty Images

The most obvious advantage is the amount of money you could potentially save. “Typically, a realtor charges a 6 percent listing fee: 3 percent to the buyer’s agent, 3 percent to the listing agent, and selling by owner waives this fee,” explains Amanda Graham, a real estate agent at MacDonald/Becker/TTR Sotheby’s International Realty in Washington, DC. “Also, the homeowner is in control of the price and negotiates with the buyer for the terms they want,” Graham says.

But isn’t the homeowner in control of the price anyway? Yes, but according to Mark Cianciulli of The CREM Group in Long Beach, CA, homeowners may be influenced by their realtor’s opinion. “However, in this situation, the homeowners will be able to have complete control over pricing and can price the home for whatever they want,” Cianciulli says.

Advantage: Control

Homeowners can control every aspect

Homeowners can control every aspect. Image: tabs62/Getty Images

“When homeowners sell their own home, they can do as much or as little marketing as they wish. They have full discretion over how the marketing materials will look,” Cianciulli says.

The homeowner is the most knowledgeable person regarding the home. This, he says,  puts them in a great position to communicate this information to potential buyers. For example, if you installed a new sunroom, you can explain how it helps to lower your heating bill in the winter.

Homeowners can also control the schedule. For example, you may prefer to coordinate your schedule with potential buyers to show them the home at a time that is mutually convenient. Also, you may not be in a rush to sell the home as soon as possible. Under these circumstances, Graham says the FSBO route may work for you. When homeowners have put a lot of work into their homes, such as adding architectural details, they may want to wait for a buyer with a similar appreciation.

Fred McGill, CEO and licensed agent at SimpleShowing in Atlanta, GA, believes that FSBO is a great approach for some homeowners. “For example, if you’re comfortable with the process of selling a home because you’ve done it once or twice before,” he says it could be an advantage to sell the home yourself at your own pace.

McGill also thinks it could be a good idea when selling certain types of properties. “In a homogeneous area — like a condo or townhome community — where pricing is similar across the entire community, this makes it easy to simply list the home FSBO and then grab the overflow traffic from other listings in your same neighborhood,” he explains.

Advantage: Legal Help is Available

Legal help is available

You don’t have to go it alone. Image: Andy Dean Photography/Shutterstock

In addition, McGill says this method may work for people who aren’t afraid of the legal aspects of the contract. “This includes attorneys, in particular, and other folks in the legal field who are comfortable with contracts, amendments and exhibits,” he says.

If you’re not an attorney, and you’re uncomfortable navigating the legal aspects, you can hire an attorney. Jeff Van Fleet, an attorney at Woodhouse Roden Nethercott in Cheyenne, WY, says that selling your own home might seem challenging. But he believes that with the right team, it shouldn’t be a problem.

“An attorney can draft a buy and sell contract, generally for a flat fee, as opposed to the commission that real estate agents charge,” Van Fleet says. “And like a real estate agent, an attorney can only represent the interests of one side,” he explains.

“Buyers may approach the seller with offers involving a real estate agent, including a request for compensation in the form of a commission,” Van Fleet says. “As the seller, you are the master of the contract and you can choose the terms you desire, including the option not to work with an agent,” he explains. “If the buyer wants to engage the services of a real estate agent, let the buyer pay the real estate agent.”

Van Fleet says that your attorney will partner with a title company to arrange both the title work and closing. “The process is straightforward for experienced attorneys,” he says.

Disadvantage: Statistics

Realtors sell homes for more money.

Realtors tend to sell homes for more money. Image: Andy Dean Photography/Shutterstock

While there are numerous advantages to FSBO, we found as many reasons why it may not be a good strategy. “The idea of saving thousands of dollars on commission by selling your own home can be tempting and, for a few, it may even make sense,” says Jo Ann Bauer, realtor at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Scottsdale, AZ.

But she thinks the majority of homeowners will lose money using this approach. “According to the National Association of Realtors, the typical FSBO sale in 2017 (the latest year with full data) was $200,000, compared to $265,500 for agent-assisted home sales,” she says. “When we do the math, it’s easy to see that even with paying a commission, homeowners, on average, earn more money from the sale of their home by hiring a real estate agent,” Bauer explains.

And homeowners might not even save as much money as they think on the commission. Cianciulli says you’re only saving money on the listing agent side. “Most homeowners think they are going to save 5 to 6 percent of the sales price, but this isn’t true in the majority of cases. They still have to offer a commission to buyer agents to bring their buyers to the home,” he says. “Additionally, many sellers are so hyper-focused on saving some commission dollars, yet they end up netting less money because they end up selling the property for less than they would have with a seasoned realtor.”

And that’s because there’s a learning curve if this is your first or second time selling your home without a realtor. “I guess the question is: do you really want to risk making mistakes that can cost you time and money on such a large transaction?” Cianciulli asks. So, what are some of the complications that can arise? “Dealing with unpermitted work, issues with chain of title, requests for repairs/price credits during escrow, financing issues and atypical financing structures are just some of the potential obstacles,” he explains.

Disadvantage: Subjectivity and Underestimating Work

Homeowners are defensive

Homeowners tend to be defensive regarding their home’s flaws. Image: Steve Debenport/Getty Images

There is also an emotional component involved in selling your own home. When valuing and negotiating your own home, Cianciulli believes that it’s almost impossible for sellers to be objective. And this type of emotional reaction can hurt sellers in more than one way. “As sales agents, we need to be able to reposition a property if current strategies aren’t quite working perfectly. One of the ways to know this is by getting honest feedback from potential buyers or their agents,” says Steven Gottlieb of Warburg Realty.

But if potential buyers are afraid of offending or insulting the seller, they won’t provide candid comments. For example, you may think your property is worth more because it has a large, unfinished basement. A buyer, though, may not want to pay more if they also have to transform the basement into livable space. “The selling agent acts as the buffer for this, and should be able to tell a seller helpful feedback — even if it’s unpleasant — to re-market the property by accentuating the property’s attributes and downplaying the handicaps.”

Sellers may also underestimate the amount of work required. “Just sticking a sign in your front yard will likely not generate the traffic and interest in your FSBO for which you hope,” warns Bauer. She admits that a seller can pay a flat fee to brokers to publish their home on the MLS. “However, the owner is responsible for all the marketing, photos, property descriptions, inquiries, open houses, showings and vetting of potential buyers,” Bauer says. “For most FSBOs, the time and effort it takes to move from deciding to sell themselves to realizing a successful close prove to be too much. Many end up eventually listing with a real estate agent.”

Disadvantage: Overestimating Ability to Sell

Selling a home is not as easy as it looks

Selling a home is not as easy as it looks. Image: Ariel Skelley/Getty Images

After a lot of hard work, you may realize that you’re in over your head. In fact, this is what happened to Michael and Jessica Walden of Walden Custom Renos. The husband and wife duo had twelve years of experience flipping houses. They tried a variety of ways to sell their products, including the use of a popular sell-your-own-home website. “With the website, we had tons of viewings over a two-month period, and there were lots of questions and long visits — but not a single offer,” they told Freshome. “However, within 24 hours of listing the same house with the top selling agent in the Durham region, we had three offers from six viewings and sold for over asking.”

They admit that listing with an agent will generally cost between 4 and 6 percent of the sales price. However, they believe the results are worth it. “This comes with free advertising in local papers and online, as well as access to the Rolodex of other agents with clients ready and wanting to buy.”

And there are other potential challenges you may encounter when trying to sell the home yourself. “Our team has inherited listings from people who initially tried to sell with a limited service broker or on their own and the result is almost always the same. Most don’t sell,” according to Matt Miner, co-principal and real estate broker at the Get Happy at Home team of Coldwell Banker Bain in Seattle, WA.

For one reason, Miner says realtors are leery of homes being sold by the owner. “They are often very challenging transitions with a much higher probability of failure,” he says. “When we inherit these sorts of listings, we end up selling the home for much more than they were unable to sell.”

Other Considerations

Be sure to do your homework.

Be sure to do your homework. Image: docent/Shutterstock

One alternative to using a traditional agent or doing an FSBO is using a company like SimpleShowing. “Our company, and several other ‘digital/online’ real estate brokers like us, offers a service that goes beyond FSBO but is less expensive than a traditional agent. With these types of companies, there are no upfront fees for sellers and they only pay $5,000 at closing,” McGill says.

Also, even though Van Fleet (as an attorney) handles FSBOs, he recommends paying a real estate agent to do a comparative market analysis. “Do not rely on website-generated estimates or county assessments to price the home as this fails to account for the real-life conditions of the market and is frequently incorrect.”

In addition, he does not recommend the legal forms of purchase that you can find on the internet. “These forms are usually a bad choice for a legal transaction such as selling a home, as they generally fail to incorporate local and state requirements — and the consequences could be dire.”

Van Fleet also provides advice on earnest money. “There is a trend in the market to make offers with a small amount of earnest money,” he says. As the seller, Van Fleet says you are in charge of the contract — and you can and should request additional earnest money.

“The earnest money often becomes the center of legal disputes, so make sure there is enough money to deter a buyer from improperly backing out of the deal, or that the earnest money is enough to cover your legal expenses if litigation is necessary,” Van Fleet advises.

The post FSBO: Should You Sell Your Home Without a Realtor? appeared first on Freshome.com.

4 Considerations To Keep In Mind When Planning A Kitchen Remodel

Planning a kitchen remodel can be stressful right from the get-go. After all, this undertaking is fairly expensive and there are an innumerable amount of decisions to be made. However, with a little forethought and planning, the process can begin to feel a lot more straightforward. To that end, we’ve brought you four considerations for your kitchen remodel. Keep them in mind to help keep your project as organized as possible.

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Start by envisioning your end product. Image: 2M media/Shutterstock

Have a vision in mind

Though it may seem a little counterintuitive, one of the best ways to get great results from your remodel is to start with the end in mind. That way, you’ll have an end vision that can serve as a framework as you work your way through the remodeling process. It can help make decision-making much easier as choices crop up.

To create your vision, your first step should be to search for some design inspiration. Make full use of websites like Freshome in your search. No matter what your personal style may be, you should be able to find some kitchen designs that speak to you and can serve as the inspiration behind your remodel.

But don’t just stop there. Be sure to put your own spin on the designs, as well. Use them as a jumping off point from which you can make changes in order to make your new kitchen as functional and aesthetically pleasing as possible for yourself.


Plan out your budget first and foremost. Image: LEKSTOCK 3D/Shutterstock

Set the budget

Once you have your ideal kitchen in mind, the next step is to figure out how you can get as close as possible to that end product without breaking the bank. To do that, you must set a budget and do your best to stick to it throughout the entire remodeling process.

First, start by taking a long, hard look at how much you can realistically spend on this home improvement project. If you have money saved up, how much can you spend without leaving yourself hanging financially? If you’re planning on financing your kitchen remodel, look into what size monthly payment you can reasonably afford and how much money that will give you, in total.

Then, do your research. Look into which products seem to most closely match both your aesthetic and your budget. Conventional wisdom states that the more extensively you research the components of your remodel, the less likely you are to make spur-of-the-moment decisions that will drive up the cost.


Always research contractors before you hire them. Image: Breadmaker/Shutterstock

Hire the right people

Once you have your ideal products in place, it’s time to take care of the other piece of the remodeling puzzle: labor. While it may be tempting to go fully DIY on this part of the job in order to save money, now is the time to be honest with yourself about your skills and abilities. Think carefully about what you’re able to do versus where it might be better to bring in the professionals.

Whenever you decide to hire labor, that means it’s time to do more research. Start by asking friends and family if they’ve worked with anyone in the past who they’d be willing to refer to you. Then, go online. Thoroughly vet any potential contractors by reading reviews and checking for complaints with the Better Business Bureau.

Once you have a few potential contractors in mind, it’s time to get estimates. As a rule of thumb, you want to get at least three estimates for each big home improvement project that you undertake. Be sure to talk honestly with each contractor about your plans for the remodel, as well as how much you have to spend.


Make sure to include contingencies. Image: Ilija Erceg/Shutterstock

Expect the unexpected

Our last tip is a bit different from the rest, but it’s no less important. Unfortunately, no matter how much planning you do beforehand, kitchen remodeling projects have a way of taking on a direction of their own, usually when you least expect it. The only thing you can do is put contingencies in place to prepare for unexpected roadblocks and go with the flow.

When we say “contingencies,” for the most part, we mean monetary ones. In general, it’s a good idea to increase your budget by at least 10 to 15 percent to account for any unexpected costs that may crop up. It’s also a good idea to pad your project schedule in the same manner. That way, you’re prepared if the timeline gets off track.

The post 4 Considerations To Keep In Mind When Planning A Kitchen Remodel appeared first on Freshome.com.

These Are The Home Improvements With The Best ROI In 2019

Every year, Remodeling Magazine releases their Cost vs. Value Report, an in-depth look at the return on investment (ROI) that common remodeling projects get across the county. This year was no different. When the 2019 Cost vs. Value Report came out, we knew that we had to share it with you. Below are the remodeling projects that topped this year’s report with the best ROI, as well as some of our tips on how to best design these spaces. Read them over to see which projects will be at the top of your list this year.

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In 2019, backyard patios have the best ROI. Image: Artazum/Shutterstock

1. Backyard patio

Even though it’s still wintertime, that didn’t stop outdoor additions from topping Remodeling’s list — and we can see why. After all, who wouldn’t want a backyard oasis, somewhere they can go to totally escape from the pressures of day-to-day life? If you take the time to invest in your backyard patio, it will do all that for you and more.

Creating the perfect patio is all about infusing a sense of intimacy and relaxation into the space. You can do that by making sure to include a central focal point, much like the firepit shown above. If firepits aren’t your thing, consider using an outdoor area rug to ground the space. Then, be sure to include lots of comfy seating to round it out.

bathroom addition

Adding a bathroom will add value to your home. Image: Artazum/Shutterstock

2. Bathroom addition

If you’ve been thinking of adding an extra bathroom for a while, now may be the time to take the plunge. According to this year’s Cost vs. Value Report, a whopping 60.6 percent of the total project cost of adding a bathroom was recouped in the increase to the home’s value.

When you’re adding another bathroom into the mix, your biggest consideration should be the layout. Since you’re building this room from scratch, you should have more freedom to design it as you see fit. Make sure you plan the layout around the number of people who will be using the bathroom on a daily basis and allow enough room for safe movement.

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You can also freshen up your bathroom with a remodel. Image: ImageFlow/Shutterstock

3. Bathroom remodel

However, you don’t have to spend the cash to add an entirely new bathroom to see some benefit to freshening up your lavatories. A simpler bathroom remodel came in just behind the bathroom addition, recouping either 67.2 or 60.2 percent of the cost, depending on whether it was a mid-range or upscale remodel.

When you’re focusing on a bathroom remodel, the vanity should be your first point of action. A modernized vanity can bring a whole new look to the space. Beyond that, replacing fixtures is also a fast fix, as is replacing and refreshing your accessories, such as wall art, bath mats or hand towels.


If you’ve been thinking of adding a deck, now may be the time to do it. Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

4. Deck addition

Similar to the backyard patio that took first place, deck additions are experiencing a surge in popularity this year. Decks made of composite materials, in particular, have piqued homeowners’ interests. Decks made of wood are not far behind, though, taking up the following spot on the list.

Surprisingly, these days, setting up a deck is a lot like setting up an open concept living and dining space. You want to provide plenty of seating for people to gather. Don’t forget the accessories, either. The combination of outdoor rugs, outdoor throw pillows and plants is enough to create a cozy space where everyone will want to hang out.

front door

Warm up the entry to your home with a new front door. Image: David Papazian/Shutterstock

5. Entry door replacement

Though it may seem like almost an afterthought, your front door makes a statement. Breathe some new life into your entry and front yard by replacing your door with a new one. Alternatively, if that’s too big of an expense, consider giving your old door a fresh look with a new coat of paint.

When decorating your entryway, all the standard rules of curb appeal apply. Complement your front door by adding a new welcome mat, some fresh house numbers and some plants. If you need inspiration, check out this post on eye-catching front doors to help you start thinking about what type of door might look good with your home.

The post These Are The Home Improvements With The Best ROI In 2019 appeared first on Freshome.com.

18 Times Exposed Ceiling Beams Made the Room

If you’re looking for a way to make an interior design splash in 2019, look up. Only focusing on your four walls is missing a major design opportunity. The fifth wall – your ceiling – sets the tone for the entire space. Wallpapered and painted ceilings, interesting molding and even 3D ceilings are helping homeowners reclaim this long-forgotten territory. But if you really want to make an architectural impact, you might want even more depth and texture. Exposed ceiling beams can give you exactly that.

Exposed ceiling beams can take an ordinary room and make it remarkable. They draw the eye up, making the space feel larger, and make a big design splash without taking up any square footage. Here are some great examples of exposed ceiling beams transforming a room.

Exposed ceiling beams in the living room

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In a room where horizontal lines are a theme, stained wood beams help establish the space while maintaining the room’s openness. Image: Bezikus/Shutterstock

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In an artsy loft, exposed ceiling beams are a must. If you can weave your lighting between them, all the better. Image: Vicnt/Getty Images

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Massive windows and concrete could make a room feel cold. But adding ceiling beams in warm-toned wood gives the space a cozy, inviting feel. Image: Hemul75/Getty Images

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In a room filled with diverse types of furniture, ceiling beams serve as a common element that gives the space a foundation. Image: Laughingmango/Getty Images

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In a space with beautifully high ceilings, beams that highlight them are a no-brainer. Image: Breadmaker/Shutterstock

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In an otherwise plain living room, wooden ceiling beams draw the eye up and add character. Image: Pics721/Shutterstock

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Leaving your beams unpainted adds visual interest and provides a great design opportunity. Matching the wood to furniture in the room (like these chairs) helps tie the entire space together. Image: KUPRYNENKO ANDRII/Shutterstock

outdoor ceiling beams

Who says your living room needs to be indoors? Ceiling beams create a sense of space for this outdoor seating area. Image:  Sirtravelalot/Shutterstock

Exposed ceiling beams in the kitchen and dining room

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White ceiling beams make this kitchen feel extra bright and open. Image: Hoxton/Astronaut Images/Getty Images

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Mounting eye-catching lighting fixtures from the ceiling beams gives this kitchen a bright and airy feel. Image: Breadmaker/Shutterstock

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Mirroring the wood from the ceiling beams in the island and dining table creates visual cohesion in this kitchen. Image: TerryJ/Getty Images

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Light-colored ceiling beams attract the eye, encouraging it to look out the sloping window. Image: Rade Kovac/Shutterstock

kitchen ceiling beams 3

This dining area feels extra expansive thanks to exposed beams that draw the eye up. Image: Rrrainbow/Getty Images

dining ceiling beams

Placing a dining table directly under the point where the ceiling beams meet cements it in a uniquely shaped dining room. Image: Imging/Shutterstock

Exposed ceiling beams in the bedroom

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The beams in this dreamy bedroom draw the eye up and out to the surrounding natural beauty without obstructing the view. Image: Hoxton/Tom Merton/Getty Images

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A narrow bedroom could feel claustrophobic, but beams that angle upward open up the room. Image: Tom Merton/Getty Images

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Dark beams play off the metallic accents in this bedroom, giving it some extra flair. Image: Breadmaker/Shutterstock

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In a traditional bedroom, painted ceiling beams add some architectural interest while letting the mellow vibe of the room prevail. Image:  Hoxton/Martin Barraud/Getty Images

Do you like exposed beams? Would you be willing to remodel to bring yours out, or would you opt for a different ceiling trend? Tell us what you think in the comments.

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