Pierre C. Rumpf | Manchester-by-the-Sea Real Estate, Effex Real Estate, Beverly Real Estate


The conventional wisdom related to building in a backyard deck or patio revolves around improved quality of life and return on investment. A new deck delivers years of peaceful enjoyment and an approximate 75 percent resale value return. That's largely because this type of home improvement increases the usable square footage and transforms the property into an indoor-outdoor living environment. The notion of outdoor grilling, spending time with family members and entertaining guests further enhance one's lifestyle.

However, decks and patios typically struggle with certain inherent limitations. The period around sundown often plagues backyards with mosquitoes and other biting insects. At other times, thing like the intense summer sun renders the space unusable. That's why homeowners may want to double-down on the deck or patio investment and turn a portion into a screen house. Building a screen house on your deck increases its hours of use and delivers qualitative and quantitative value.

What You Need to Know About Building a Screen House on Your Deck

Although screen houses are typically standalone structures, decks can accommodate them in a cost-effective fashion. Because decks generally have cement footing supports at various points and connect to the house, screen house elements can leverage these assets. Of course, if a construction professional suggests additional supports, the cost of materials becomes a factor.

It's not uncommon for a contractor to tie partitions directly into the posts that are already footed and support deck railings. Given the deck abuts the house, a carpenter often opts to secure roof rafters just below the existing soffit. The strategy of attaching to the house allows people to use an existing door to enter it from the home. Insects are no longer a concern.

By designating only a portion of the deck or patio as a screen house, people can fire up the barbecue or sunbathe in the open-air space at their leisure. In many ways, that outdoor living space evolves into best of both world's enjoyment.

Partial Screen House Designs Tips to Consider

Building a screened-in area opens the door to some unique possibilities property owners may want to consider. One structural one is to insulate or secure the common gaps between deck flooring planks. Pressure-treated pine decks usually have gaps that could create an opportunity for mosquitoes to ruin the fun.

Other possibilities involve energy and sunlight. Adding a solar energy system to the screen house roof could power outdoor energy needs and reduce utility bills. Another direction homeowners might want to entertain involves clear plexiglass roofing materials. These products deliver superior clarity and allow natural light to penetrate. The area could support an indoor garden or serve as a mindful mediation space. A mix of solid privacy walls, see-thru materials and breathable screens are all on the table. It may prove worthwhile to consider innovative designs and some outside-the-box thinking to create a personalized environment.

Although the design, specialty assets and placement factor into resale value changes, it's fair to compare this investment to a screened porch. A screened porch can equal huge increase in property value, and a screen house addition may prove just as beneficial.


If you’re looking for a satisfying garden DIY project, try repurposing an old wine barrel. Wine barrels are made of sturdy materials and built to last even long after their original purpose has ended. This makes them excellent candidates for outdoor planters. Here we’ll go over the process and materials you’ll need to make your very own DIY wine barrel planter.

Materials

Wine barrel
Circular Saw
Pencil
Chalk line marker
Tape measure
Sand paper
Glasses or eye protection
Ear plugs
Protective gloves
Power drill & spade bit

Where to Find Wine Barrels

If you don’t already have a wine barrel sitting around, there are a few ways you can get them. First would be to look at any local thrift or second-hand stores, especially those with outdoor goods. If you have any vineyards or wineries nearby, you can contact them and inquire about helping them recycle. If all else fails you can always turn to online marketplaces to find the materials you need.

How to Build Your Planters

  1. First, turn the barrel on its side and use your tape measure to find the very middle. Once you have it, mark it with a pencil all the way around the barrel.

  2. Next, use the chalk line marker on the pencil line to mark where you’ll need to cut with the saw.

  3. Once the middle of the barrel is well-marked, carefully cut along the line using a circular saw. Make sure you and anyone helping you wear protective gear when using power tools. For extra stability, wedge the barrel between two cinder blocks or other heavy material as a brace.

  4. Once you have cut the barrel in half, use your power drill and a spade bit to cut drainage holes in the bottom of the new planters. For a planter of this size you should have at least 4 drainage holes.

  5. Carefully sand the edges of the barrel along where you cut it. This will help you avoid splinters, snags and other hazards when handling the planter.

  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 for the other half of the barrel.

  7. Now you’re ready to plant! Add a layer of gravel to the bottom of your barrels before your choice of potting mix, then fill with your favorite flowers, plants or herbs. For a super easy gardening hack, place your plants right into the barrel, container and all. Nestled closely together the plants will appear lush and full but be much easier to transplant or remove if you ever need to make changes.

With this project you’ll have created not one but two wooden wine barrel planters. This is an excellent way to repurpose old materials and enjoy the satisfaction of DIY crafts. Now you can enjoy these planters in your garden, patio or even indoors for years to come.


Purchasing a condo should be fast and easy. However, negotiations with a condo seller can quickly become stressful and may put your chances to acquire your dream condo in danger.

Lucky for you, we're here to help you simplify the process of negotiating with a condo seller to ensure you can purchase your ideal property.

Here are three tips to help you navigate tough negotiations with a condo seller.

1. Consider the Condo Seller's Perspective

Think about the condo seller's perspective and try to find common ground with this individual. By doing so, you and the condo seller may be able to agree to terms that meet the needs of both sides.

When you initially submit an offer on a condo, ensure your proposal accounts for the condo's condition and the current state of the real estate market. That way, you'll be able to avoid the risk of submitting a "lowball" offer that falls below a condo seller's expectations.

Also, maintain open lines of communication throughout the negotiation process. This will allow you to listen to a condo seller's concerns and respond accordingly.

2. Collect Plenty of Housing Market Data

If a condo seller believes you are unwilling to pay a sufficient price for his or her condo, it is always a good idea to present housing market data to back up your offer.

Explore the housing market closely to learn about the prices of comparable condos in nearby cities and towns. This will allow you to see how a particular condo stacks up against similar properties in terms of price and condition.

In addition, check out the prices of recently sold condos in your area to identify housing market patterns and trends. With this real estate market information at your disposal, you'll be able to make an informed decision about whether to continue to negotiate with a condo seller or consider other properties.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent will negotiate with a condo seller on your behalf. Therefore, he or she will help you minimize the stress and anxiety that is commonly associated with condo negotiations.

Typically, a real estate agent will submit an offer on a condo and wait to hear back from a condo seller. If a condo seller decides to negotiate, a real estate agent will work with you throughout the negotiation process.

A real estate agent will listen to your condo buying concerns and questions and respond immediately. He or she also will provide honest, unbiased recommendations to help you make informed decisions during negotiations with a condo seller. This real estate professional will even share your concerns with a condo seller to help you get the best results possible.

When it comes to a negotiating with a condo seller, there is no need to worry. If you collaborate with a real estate agent, you can take the guesswork out of condo negotiations. And ultimately, you may be able to move one step closer to buying a condo that meets or exceeds your expectations.


Everyone defines the term "quality of life" differently, but if you asked 100 people, you'd probably hear a lot of similar answers.

According to a Gallup study entitled "The State of American Well-Being," the  basis for a good quality of life includes having a sense of purpose, feeling good about what you do every day, having supportive relationships, being motivated to achieve your goals, being able to effectively manage your finances, having the energy and health to pursue your interests, and sharing a sense of community pride. Feeling safe and liking where you live were also key ingredients in the formula for a high quality of life .

The Gallup/Sharecare report focuses on several aspects of community life, such as the role local governments play in offering amenities and resources to citizens. The study concluded that "communities that invest in active living, including bike paths, parks, walkability and public transit, have residents with better health and well-being outcomes."

While factors such as the quality of school districts and low crime rates are often foremost in the minds of house hunters, there's also a lot to be said for communities that offer public recreational facilities, educational programs, cultural events, and services that promote health, safety, and a clean environment.

Advantages that can help make one community more desirable and family friendly than another can range from free outdoor concerts and public tennis courts to the availability of farmers' markets and clean, updated playgrounds. Other features which can positively impact the quality of life in a community include well-maintained roads and bridges, the availability of dog parks, community parades, and programs to encourage the proper disposal of drugs, electronics, household chemicals, and recyclable products.

At the neighborhood level, quality of life is often measured by factors like noise, the condition of nearby properties, the overall safety and security of the area, and the amount of street traffic. Clean air, mature trees, and friendly neighbors can also contribute to a wholesome living environment that can be enjoyed for generations.

While there are many advantages to designing your own home or buying new construction, one might need to make short-term sacrifices when it comes to things like noise, neighborhood aesthetics, and other temporary inconveniences. Your real estate agent or home builder can probably fill you in on things like construction timetables and project completion dates.

If you're in the market for a new home, it's always a good idea to clarify in your own mind what you and your family needs to feel comfortable, happy, and secure. Creating a priority list of needs, desires, and preferences not only helps you stay focused in your real estate search, but also increases the probability that you'll be satisfied with your new home on a long-term basis.


Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Suppose you’ve inherited your parents’ longtime home. Suppose they paid $100,000 for it, and it’s now worth $300,000. Had they sold it while it was in their possession, they would have avoided paying capital gains tax due to the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997.

Now that it’s yours, has that tax avoidance opportunity been lost? If you sell it for $300,000, will you have to pay taxes on the $200,000 gain?

The answer is no, and the reason is step-up basis.

What is step-up basis?

When you sell an asset, you may owe capital gains tax. For example, if you buy stock for $10,000 and sell it 10 years later for $15,000, you owe tax on the $5,000 you profited. The original cost, the $10,000, is your basis, and you are taxed on your sale proceeds minus that basis.

If you buy stock, the original cost is your basis. But if you inherit stock, your basis is stepped up to what it’s worth when you inherit. If your mother leaves you that same stock, now worth $15,000, your basis is $15,000, not the $10,000 she paid. The IRS looks at it as if you acquired the stock for $15,000. If you sell it later for $18,000, your taxable gain is ($18,000 - $15,000) or $3,000.

Real estate works the same way. Going back to our example, your basis in the inherited home is $300,000, not the $100,000 your parents paid. If you sell it immediately for $300,000, you've made no taxable profit and you keep everything. You pay no capital gains tax at all. If you sell in a few years for $350,000, you pay tax only on the $50,000 difference. The appreciation that happened while your folks were alive never gets taxed.

Depreciation Benefit

If you decide to rent that house out (or if you inherit an apartment building) there’s yet another benefit. You can depreciate the dwelling at the step-up value, even if the previous owner used it as an income property and depreciated it. For that $300,000 building, you can deduct $10,909 a year from your rent income over the 27 ½ year depreciation period, rather than the $3,636 if your basis had been $100,000. You’d pay taxes on $7,273 less every year for a long time.

Step-Up During Your Lifetime

Under special circumstances you can take advantage of step-up basis on real estate when you give it away. You can donate property to a charity and deduct the step-up amount rather than your original basis. However, rules are strict. There are appraisal requirements, limitations based on taxable income and the charity must use the property in its work rather than resell it.

There is an even more specialized opportunity under the recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to sell appreciated property, invest in a designated opportunity zone, and defer or avoid taxes on your gain.

In both of these specialized cases, you must follow stringent regulations. Don’t wade in without the help of an expert.




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