One World Realty in Jacksonville Florida
Charles Gaulden
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How to Choose Stock Kitchen Cabinets

Buying stock cabinets for your kitchen remodel can definitely save you money. Here are some tips to help you make the right buying decision.

Stock cabinets save you time because you don’t have to wait for them to be built. And they save you money because you aren’t paying for customizations.
But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality. You just need to know what to look for.

What to Look For

  • Solid wood and plywood cabinets. They’ll give you better longevity and crisper details than pressed wood.
  • Walls at least ½-inch thick. They’re more sturdy.
  • Consistency of finish. Lesser quality cabinets often have irregular finishes and colors from one cabinet box to the next.
  • Full-extension hardware. It allows you to open drawers all the way and open doors almost 180 degrees to make access easier.
  • Dovetail joinery. Or a metal box. Drawer sides and backs that are stapled together won’t last as long.

Cost and Installation

The cost of quality stock cabinets for an average-sized kitchen generally runs $8,000 to $10,000. Semi-custom cabinets would cost about twice that. And full custom cabinets would cost even more.

There are some lower-cost stock alternatives, such as IKEA (as low as $2,500), but you’ll offset your savings with the hassle of difficult assembly — fine if you have the patience and skill.

But unless you’ve got professional building experience, actually installing kitchen cabinets isn’t a typical DIY job.

So carve out $100 to $300 per cabinet (depending on labor rates in your area) to have them professionally installed.

The Drawbacks of Stock Cabinets

  • Finish and color choices are limited. The most likely options are painted white, natural wood, or stained maple and cherry.
  • Stock cabinets are only 36 inches tall. If you want taller cabinets, you’ll have to go semi-custom, which can take you up to 42 inches.
  • You could lose potential storage space. Filler strips are used to cover gaps created when the stock sizes don’t quite fill the space — whereas custom cabinets can be measured to take advantage of all space.
  • Extra details such as crown molding aren’t included. Mitered corners and furniture-style sides aren’t included either. However, you can add crown molding yourself later if you choose.
  • Warranties are limited. The industry standard is about 5 years, and they only cover product failure, not wear and tear.

Note: You’ll also need to choose hardware. But that can be a fun project to really personalize your kitchen.
Get more tips on planning a kitchen remodel.
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The Best Choices for Kitchen Flooring. Kitchen Renovations

Kitchen Renovations

With so many options to choose from, it’s hard to know what’s best for kitchens. So we’ve narrowed down the choices for you.

We’ve taken out the guesswork and chosen four flooring types that make the most sense for kitchens, and we explain why they are ideal.
Hardwood Flooring is Ideal When:

  • You don’t want your kitchen to look dated over time.
  • You have an open floor plan.
  • You seek durability.

Hardwood flooring, with its unmatched warmth and visual appeal, is a great choice if you want to create a look that never really goes out of style, giving you a good return on investment if you ever sell your home.
Also, if you have an open floor plan, hardwood works well in both kitchens and living areas. It creates a warm and unified look.
Hardwood is also:

  • Highly durable. It can withstand decades of use.
  • Low-maintenance.
  • Moisture-resistant if you choose a prefinished type.

Hardwood flooring is made in two ways: solid wood strips or engineered wood planks.

Engineered wood is the better choice for kitchens. It has a veneer of real wood backed by layers of less expensive plywood. This construction provides dimensional stability that makes the flooring less susceptible to movement caused by changes in humidity and temperature — common in kitchens.

Cost: $3 to $12 per sq. ft. Installation: $5 to $12 per sq. ft., depending on the complexity of the job.

Vinyl Flooring is Ideal When:

  • You cook a lot.
  • You want the easiest-to-maintain floor.
  • You are on a tight budget.

Sheet vinyl belongs to a group of flooring products called resilient flooring, which is the softest flooring option. If you cook a lot, this cushiness makes it easier on your feet while easing muscle fatigue.
Also, sheet vinyl is much more forgiving if you (or someone in your family) is a bit of klutz who tends to drop things. You’ll have less breakage.
Plus, sheet vinyl flooring is a snap to clean up; it’s completely waterproof and stain-proof.
However, depending on the size and layout of your kitchen, you may have seams. Standard width for vinyl flooring is 12 feet. If your kitchen is wider than that, you’ll definitely have seams, which can let moisture into the subfloor and trap dirt if they aren’t tightly bonded.
On the upside, sheet vinyl requires no ongoing maintenance beyond sweeping and mopping.

 If the softness of vinyl flooring appeals to you most, you might opt for cushioned vinyl flooring, which is backed with a layer of foam (standard sheet vinyl uses felt backing).
Sounds good, but that extra cushiness makes it hard to create seams that stay tightly bonded over time. You may end up with seams that come apart, letting in moisture and trapping dirt.

Sheet vinyl comes in many colors and patterns. Thicker vinyl can feature a textured surface, and some types do an excellent job of mimicking the appearance of ceramic tile and real stone. Textured vinyl is a wise choice because it provides traction. Vinyl can be dangerously slippery when wet.

Vinyl flooring also has a wear layer that helps resist scratches and scuff marks. But it does eventually wear off. The best brands offer guarantees on the wear layer of 10 to15 years, and good quality vinyl should last 20 years.

Cost: $1 to $5 per sq. ft. Installation: $1 to $2 per sq. ft.

Don’t confuse vinyl with linoleum. While linoleum is a similar product, it is not as durable, nor as soft. Its upside is its eco-friendliness.
Porcelain Tile is Ideal When:

  • You want the toughest flooring.
  • You like the look of stone.
  • You want low maintenance.

Porcelain flooring tile, a version of common ceramic tile, is the durability champ. It’s fired at high temperatures that produce an extremely hard, durable, stain-resistant tile that is impervious to moisture.
In fact, it’s so tough it can be used outdoors in virtually any climate. 

Like common ceramic tile, porcelain tile comes either unglazed or glazed. The unglazed versions take on the color of their clay mixture, so they have naturally earthy tones.

Glazed tiles have a glass-like coating that can be made in virtually any color, and can mimic the look and texture of real stone at a much lower cost than stone.

Make sure you choose porcelain tiles certified as slip-resistant by the Americans with Disabilities Act — the designation should be visible on product literature or packing materials.

Cost: $1 to $20 per sq. ft. Installation: $5 to $10 per sq. ft.

Cork Flooring is Ideal When:

  • You want an eco-friendly choice.
  • You want a softer floor than wood or tile.
  • You want slip-resistance.

Cork is made from tree bark that’s harvested every eight to 10 years; it’s a sustainable material, meaning the bark grows back and can be harvested repeatedly.
Countries that produce cork are careful to regulate harvesting to ensure future supplies.

Cork has a unique cellular structure that’s waterproof and compressible, which makes it a comfortable, moisture-resistant choice. It comes in 12-inch-by-12-inch tiles and 1-foot-by-3-foot planks, each with a unique grain pattern of swirls and speckles.
The surface is naturally textured, which makes it slip-resistant.

But unlike other flooring options mentioned, cork floors need to be resealed every three to four years to help guard against scratches and prevent moisture from entering the seams between tiles.

Both natural wax and polyurethane are good sealers for cork. Choose water-based polyurethane that’s non-toxic or has low volatile organic compound content to keep it green.

Cost: $2 to $6 per sq. ft. Installation: $5 to $10 per sq. ft.

Related:

Kitchen Remodeling Decisions You’ll Never Regret

White: Your Kitchen’s Best Friend (And Yours)

Funky Floors slideshow

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7 Smart Strategies for Kitchen Remodeling

Follow these seven strategies to get the most financial gain on your kitchen remodel.

A significant portion of kitchen remodeling costs may be recovered by the value the project brings to your home. Kitchen remodels in the $50,000 to $60,000 range recoup about 74% of the initial project cost at the home’s resale, according to recent data from Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report.

A minor kitchen remodel of about $19,000 does even better, returning more than 82% of your investment.

To maximize your return on investment, follow these seven strategies to keep you on budget and help you make smart choices.
1. Plan, Plan, Plan

Planning your kitchen remodel should take more time than the actual construction. If you plan well, the amount of time you’re inconvenienced by construction mayhem will be minimized. Plus, you’re more likely to stay on budget.
How much time should you spend planning? The National Kitchen and Bath Association recommends at least six months. That way, you won’t be tempted to change your mind during construction and create change orders, which will inflate construction costs and hurt your return on investment.
Some tips on planning:
Study your existing kitchen: How wide is the doorway into your kitchen? It’s a common mistake many homeowners make: Buying the extra-large fridge only to find they can’t get it in the doorway. To avoid mistakes like this, create a drawing of your kitchen with measurements for doorways, walkways, counters, etc. And don’t forget height, too.

Think about traffic patterns: Work aisles should be a minimum of 42 inches wide and at least 48

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inches wide for households with multiple cooks.

Design with ergonomics in mind: Drawers or pull-out shelves in base cabinets; counter heights that can adjust up or down; a wall oven instead of a range: These are all features that make a kitchen accessible to everyone — and a pleasure to work in.

Related: Test Your Ergonomic Design Knowledge

Plan for the unforeseeable: Even if you’ve planned down to the number of nails you’ll need in your remodel, expect the unexpected. Build in a little leeway for completing the remodel. Want it done by Thanksgiving? Then plan to be done before Halloween.

Choose all your fixtures and materials before starting: Contractors will be able to make more accurate bids, and you’ll lessen the risk of delays because of back orders.

Don’t be afraid to seek help: A professional designer can simplify your kitchen remodel. Pros help make style decisions, foresee potential problems, and schedule contractors. Expect fees around $50 to $150 per hour, or 5% to 15% of the total cost of the project.

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Keep the same footprint Get real about appliances Don’t underestimate the power of lighting Be quality-conscious Add storage, not space Communicate clearly with your remodelers

2. Keep the Same Footprint

Nothing will drive up the cost of a remodel faster than changing the location of plumbing pipes and electrical outlets, and knocking down walls. This is usually where unforeseen problems occur.
So if possible, keep appliances, water fixtures, and walls in the same location. 

Not only will you save on demolition and reconstruction costs, you’ll cut the amount of dust and debris your project generates.

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Plan, plan, plan Get real about appliances Don’t underestimate the power of lighting Be quality-conscious Add storage, not space Communicate clearly with your remodelers

3. Get Real About Appliances

It’s easy to get carried away when planning your new kitchen. A six-burner commercial-grade range and luxury-brand refrigerator may make eye-catching centerpieces, but they may not fit your cooking needs or lifestyle.
Appliances are essentially tools used to cook and store food. Your kitchen remodel shouldn’t be about the tools, but the design and functionality of the entire kitchen.
So unless you’re an exceptional cook who cooks a lot, concentrate your dollars on long-term features that add value, such as cabinets and flooring.
Then choose appliances made by trusted brands that have high marks in online reviews and Consumer Reports.

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Plan, plan, plan Keep the same footprint Don’t underestimate the power of lighting Be quality-conscious Add storage, not space Communicate clearly with your remodelers

4. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Lighting

Lighting can make a world of difference in a kitchen. It can make it look larger and brighter. And it will help you work safely and efficiently. You should have two different types of lighting in your kitchen:   Task Lighting: Under-cabinet lighting should be on your must-do list, since cabinets create such dark work areas. And since you’re remodeling, there won’t be a better time to hard-wire your lights. (Here’s more about under-cabinet lights.) Plan for at least two fixtures per task area to eliminate shadows. Pendant lights are good for islands and other counters without low cabinets. Recessed lights and track lights work well over sinks and general prep areas with no cabinets overhead.

Ambient lighting: Flush-mounted ceiling fixtures, wall sconces, and track lights create overall lighting in your kitchen. Include dimmer switches to control intensity and mood.

Related: How to Choose the Best Bulb for the Job

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Plan, plan, plan Keep the same footprint Get real about appliances Be quality-conscious Add storage, not space Communicate clearly with your remodelers

5. Be Quality-Conscious

Functionality and durability should be top priorities during kitchen remodeling. Resist low-quality bargains, and choose products that combine low maintenance with long warranty periods. Solid-surface countertops, for instance, may cost a little more, but with the proper care, they’ll look great for a long time.
And if you’re planning on moving soon, products with substantial warranties are a selling advantage.

Related:

Kitchen Remodeling Decisions You’ll Never Regret

White: The Savvy and Chic Kitchen Color Choice

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Plan, plan, plan Keep the same footprint Get real about appliances Don’t underestimate the power of lighting Add storage, not space Communicate clearly with your remodelers

6. Add Storage, Not Space

Storage will never go out of style, but if you’re sticking with the same footprint, here are a couple of ideas to add more:
Install cabinets that reach the ceiling: They may cost more — and you might need a stepladder — but you’ll gain valuable storage space for Christmas platters and other once-a-year items. In addition, you won’t have to dust cabinet tops.
Hang it up: Mount small shelving units on unused wall areas and inside cabinet doors; hang stock pots and large skillets on a ceiling-mounted rack; and add hooks to the backs of closet doors for aprons, brooms, and mops.

Related: Storage Options that Pack More Space in Your Kitchen

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Plan, plan, plan Keep the same footprint Get real about appliances Don’t underestimate the power of lighting Be quality-conscious Communicate clearly with your remodelers

7. Communicate Clearly With Your Remodelers

Establishing a good rapport with your project manager or construction team is essential for staying on budget. To keep the sweetness in your project:
Drop by the project during work hours: Your presence broadcasts your commitment to quality.

Establish a communication routine: Hang a message board on site where you and the project manager can leave daily communiqués. Give your email address and cell phone number to subs and team leaders.

Set house rules: Be clear about smoking, boom box noise levels, available bathrooms, and appropriate parking.

Be kind: Offer refreshments (a little hospitality can go a long way), give praise when warranted, and resist pestering them with conversation, jokes, and questions when they are working. They’ll work better when refreshed and allowed to concentrate on work.

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Plan, plan, plan Keep the same footprint Get real about appliances Don’t underestimate the power of lighting Be quality-conscious Add storage, not space
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7 Steps before you Buy a Home

1. Decide how much home you can afford

Generally, you can afford a home priced 2 to 3 times your gross income. Remember to consider costs every homeowner must cover: property taxes, insurance, maintenance, utilities, and community association fees, if applicable, as well as costs specific to your family, such as day care if you plan to have children.

2. Develop your home wish list

Be honest about which features you must have and which you’d like to have. Handicap accessibility for an aging parent or special needs child is a must. Granite countertops and stainless steel appliances are in the bonus category. Come up with your top-five must-haves and top-five wants to help you focus your search and make a logical, rather than emotional, choice when home shopping.

3. Select where you want to live

Make a list of your top-five community priorities, such as commute time, schools, and recreational facilities. Ask your REALTOR® to help you identify three to four target neighborhoods based on your priorities.

4. Start saving

Have you saved enough money to qualify for a mortgage and cover your downpayment? Ideally, you should have 20% of the purchase price set aside for a downpayment, but some lenders allow as little as 5% down. A small downpayment preserves your savings for emergencies.
However, the lower your downpayment, the higher the loan amount you’ll need to qualify for, and if you still qualify, the higher your monthly payment. Your downpayment size can also influence your interest rate and the type of loan you can get.
Finally, if your downpayment is less than 20%, you’ll be required to purchase private mortgage insurance. Depending on the size of your loan, PMI can add hundreds to your monthly payment. Check with your state and local government for mortgage and downpayment assistance programs for first-time buyers.

5. Ask about all the costs before you sign

A downpayment is just one homebuying cost. Your REALTOR® can tell you what other costs buyers commonly pay in your area—including home inspections, attorneys’ fees, and transfer fees of 2% to 7% of the home price. Tally up the extras you’ll also want to buy after you move-in, such as window coverings and patio furniture for your new yard.

6. Get your credit in order

A credit report details your borrowing history, including any late payments and bad debts, and typically includes a credit score. Lenders lean heavily on your credit report and credit score in determining whether, how much, and at what interest rate to lend for a home. Most require a minimum credit score of 620 for a home mortgage.
You’re entitled to free copies of your credit reports annually from the major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Order and then pore over them to ensure the information is accurate, and try to correct any errors before you buy. If your credit score isn’t up to snuff, the easiest ways to improve it are to pay every bill on time and pay down high credit card debt.

7. Get prequalified

Meet with a lender to get a prequalification letter that says how much house you’re qualified to buy. Start gathering the paperwork your lender says it needs. Most want to see W-2 forms verifying your employment and income, copies of pay stubs, and two to four months of banking statements.
If you’re self-employed, you’ll need your current profit and loss statement, a current balance sheet, and personal and business income tax returns for the previous two years.
Consider your financing options. The longer the loan, the smaller your monthly payment. Fixed-rate mortgages offer payment certainty; an adjustable-rate mortgage offers a lower monthly payment. However, an adjustable-rate mortgage may adjust dramatically. Be sure to calculate your affordability at both the lowest and highest possible ARM rate.

More from HouseLogic

Learn how Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages can help you save on financing
Learn more about the costs of homeownership

Other web resources

Homebuyer counseling resources

Get a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who has thrice survived the homebuying process. A frequent contributor to many national publications including Bankrate.com, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.
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Downpayment Assistant Funds Available on New Homes for First Time Homebuyer

Downpayment Assistant Funds Available on New Homes for First Time Homebuyers from New Home Builder FHA, VA, Conventional and USDA Loans.

Jacksonville, FL , Orange Park and other Areas.. Call Me Today to secure Your Funds…904-859-1778

FHA 203k and Fannie Mae Renovation loans

  • When is the appraisal ordered on a FHA 203k and Fannie Mae Renovation loans? We do not order the appraisal until the detailed Scope of Work is completed and signed by the buyer and the contractor. The appraisal is performed Subject-To the After-Improved value. On FHA 203k you get up to 110% of the After-Improved value which means a 10% buffer. All repairs are done AFTER CLOSING.
  • What happens if the utilities CANNOT be turned on with a property because of leaks, extended vacancy, etc? With the renovation loan we would include the cost of any necessary repairs AND we will always keep at least 15% contingency money in the case there are additional repairs needed. Example – Cost of work = $10,000. Contingency would be at least $1,500. For homes that have been vacant for least 12 months – JEA will require an electrical inspection and city inspection prior to activating the power or water.
  • How is the down payment calculated on a FHA 203k loan? The minimum 3.5% down payment is calculated off the sales price of the house plus the cost of rehabilitation or repairs. Example: $100,000 sales price + $15,000 repairs = $115,000 x 3.5% = $4,025. A buyer can certainly choose to have a larger down payment but these are the minimums.
  • Are Renovation loans – FHA 203k and Fannie Mae Homestlyes – good for Refinances too? Yes. You can Refinance & Renovate which means not only lowering your interest rate, but also including the cost of improvements as well. 3 great advantages:
  • Appraisal is based on After-Improved Value
  • FHA 203k – you get up to 110% of the after-Improved Value.
  • Closing costs can be financed into the loan
  • On FHA 203k and Fannie Mae Renovation loans can the buyers act as their own contractor? While the guidelines on some versions of the loans allow for “Self Help”, both HUD and Fannie Mae discourage the practice because of the level of risk. The guidelines call for the buyers to be licensed/insured contractors AND there are NO upfront monies provided for materials. So, the buyers must prove the ability to perform the job in workmanlike manner AND have sufficient funds for both the loan and repairs. There are other guidelines that restrict the amount of work that can be done in a “Self Help” transaction.

FHA 203k loan or Fannie Mae renovation loans

On FHA 203k loan or Fannie Mae renovation loans, what happens if there are more repairs than expected after completing the inspections? There are several options depending on the seller of the property:
  • If it’s an REO/short sale thus an As-Is property, you can simply back out of the contract based on the inspection contingency.
  • You can also continue with the REO transaction and request the seller reduce the sales price based on the property conditions. However, you must assume the bank will NOT make an changes since the property is being sold As-is. If the repairs affect the health & safety of the property you might see some relief.
  • At times,  you can ask the REO bank to make certain repairs that affect the livability of the home. This can be time consuming since they will require several estimates. In addition, Fannie Mae often has a contractual clause that allows them to raise the sales price to address the repairs. This is NOT needed if you simply use a renovation loan.
  • If the buyer is past the inspection period per contract and still needs to back out of the contract based on property conditions, we can use the Financing Contingency to cancel the transaction and get the Binder Deposit returned.
  • If its a traditional resale then the seller could either make the repairs, reduce the sale price or cancel the transaction based on the proeprty conditions.
  • Why would someone NOT get approved for a HomePath or HomePath Renovation loan? HomePath loans are conventional loans thus much more restrictive when it comes to qualifying. Here are some of the factors that can be restrictive and also require additional monies down:
  • Credit – you must have stronger and deeper credit. at least 660-680 to start (without 20% down).
  • Property type – Condos are much stricter/riskier and thus the automated underwriting  (DU) will often not approve buyers for condos unless they have strong credit and/or larger down payments.
  • Down payment – If the buyer is putting 3-5% down it is going to be much stricter than if they are putting 20% down. It’s a simple layer of risk issue.
  • Debt-to-income ratio – Fannie Mae loans are much stricter than FHA and generally cannot exceed 45% DTI regardless of the buyer’s overall profile.
  • Rates – HomePath loans have numerous additional overlays when it comes to pricing rates which often leads to higher interest rates and a higher costs to even get a rate.
  • Does using a FHA 203k or Fannie Mae renovation loan help with getting lower insurance rates? YES! Not only can it make the difference of even getting insurance on certain properties, it allows the buyer to get better insurance rates based on the after-improved condition of the property. For more details on this please contact me via phone or email.