RE/MAX real estate Newsletter - June 2018 Edition

In This Issue -

How to Redo Your Bath for Easier Cleaning—and Easier Everything

Ah, if you had it all to do over again . . . Wait! You can! When you redo your bath, our ideas can help you make it function better and become way simpler to clean. Pro tips #1 and #2: Avoid using grout and pretty-but-awful-to-clean tiny tiles. Find out what else we think will make your life easier.

The Best Bathroom Do-Over Ideas

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No matter if you keep your home sealed tight, leave the windows open, have a steady stream of visitors stopping by, or prefer to be alone, dirt (and, worse, microbes!) will worm their way into your pad.

And bathrooms are the worst for collecting the yuckiest of grime and germs. Check out these upgrades that’ll give you a fighting chance against germs, dirt, and bacteria while doing a whole-lot-less cleaning. Game. On.

#1 Materials That Use Little or No Grout

Who says a bathroom has to have tile? Dirt and grime love to cling to the gritty grout between tiles. To banish it from your bathroom for good, try glass or waterproofed real-stone veneer. They come in large sheets — hardly any grout needed. Maybe some at the joints, but that’s better than the entire wall and floor.

If you want to go completely groutless, there’s an ancient Moroccan technique called tadelakt that uses lime-based plaster, which is waterproof, resists mold and mildew, and, best of all, is sealed with a soap solution to keep grime away. It’s worked for centuries, so it should work in your bath, too. It’s pricey, though, because it requires trained artisans to apply.

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An affordable alternative, suggests Stephanie Horowitz, managing director of ZeroEnergy Design in Boston, is to opt for large tiles with narrower grout lines. “It’s a fresh, modern look that requires minimal upkeep,” she says.

#2 No-Touch Faucets

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Sensor-operated faucets aren’t just for crowded airport and mall restrooms. They’re growing in popularity in homes, too. If germs are your No. 1 enemy, a sensor faucet is a good choice because without touch, it’s tough for germs to find a foothold.

Some models also light up when you approach the sink — a cool, futuristic bonus for when you’re stumbling around in the middle of the night.

But because sensor faucets require a battery or electrical connection, users have complained that they break down more. Funny thing, though. Many say they would buy it again because they love the touchless feature.

Just don’t expect them to save you water. The last official study by the Alliance for Water Efficiency (in 2009) found they actually used more water.

#3 No-Groove Toilets

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If you’ve ever transformed into a contortionist while reaching to clean every last yucky crevice in your toilet, the one-piece model was made for you. Because traditional two-piece toilets have a separate bowl and tank, they have lots of tiny crevices that are hard to really get clean.

You may spend a bit more for a one-piece model, which is molded from a single piece of porcelain, but the amount of scrubbing time you save may make it worthwhile. Plus, you don’t have to get up close and personal with the nasty parts.

Today’s pressure-assisted toilets not only reduce cleaning time, but virtually eliminate backups, thanks to a forceful jet of water that scrubs the entire bowl and removes everything in its path. On this one, you’ll actually save water. Because of their eco-smart designs, these high-efficiency toilets can save a family of four up to 16,500 gallons of water annually.

#4 A (Good!) Exhaust Fan

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This is probably the least-sexy upgrade, but did you know it’s the No. 1 feature buyers want in a bathroom? That’s probably because it’s so effective at fighting bad micro-organisms.

Not only does a good exhaust fan fight mold, mildew, and other nasty micro-organisms, it protects your walls, paint, and trim. If left unchecked, excess moisture can cause your wallboard, paint, and trim to deteriorate. So spending a few hundred dollars on a fan and pro install could save you thousands down the road.

That’s a low-cost, no-brainer upgrade. Even if you already have an exhaust fan, take a look at the newer ones. Today’s models are much more efficient than the old buzz saw you might currently own. They’re quieter, more powerful, and use less energy.

If you forget to turn it on before you step into the shower, some models even come with a humidity-sensing feature that automatically turns the fan on when humidity is detected, then shuts off when the air is clear.

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Woohoo!!! Your bathroom makeover is totally happening! You’re having Pinterest-fueled fever dreams. It’s going to be so stunningly fan-tab-u-lous!!!

Or is it?

If you have any of these #trending bathroom design elements in mind, you should know what you’re really signing up for:

#1 Intricately Patterned Tiny Tiles

So bohemian, so fresh-looking — and, yet, retro. Every time you see a shower, vanity, or entire bath with those (gorgeous!) mosaics of tiny colored tiles, you get giddy with anticipation for your remodel.

Why you should reconsider: There’s a reason tiny tiles disappeared over the past few decades in favor of larger ones. They’re a friggin’ pain.

Those tiny tiles mean there’s more grout to clean and maintain.

If you can think of 24,305 other things you’d rather do with your time than clean and replace grout, it might not be for you.

Still gotta have tiny tiles? Use them as an accent, maybe on the wall around your vanity, or anywhere they won’t get as wet as they would on the floor, or in your tub, shower, or sink.

#2 Vintage Storage Furniture

Nothing says you like skipping the big-box vanity options in favor of a thrift-store find you refinished yourself.

Character and charm that’s practically free! What’s not to love?!

Why you should reconsider: It’s a real commitment — on your (personal) time.

Huh? Yep. Since wood and water don’t mix well, you’ll need to keep doing upkeep, sealing it on a regular basis, just like you do a deck or a butcher block. Tanya Campbell, a designer for Denver’s Viridis Design Studio, recommends a fresh coat of urethane every year.

Still gotta have that vintage piece? Give it better odds of beating its natural enemy, water, by replacing the top with marble or quartz.

#3 Hardwood Floors

Wood’s so warm and inviting. Not as slippery or grout dependent as tile. Plus, you love the look of dark-wood floors with white fixtures. (You did that in your kitchen, and it looks amazing!)

Why you should reconsider: “It will warp next to a shower or tub if not dried after each use,” says Campbell.

“Also, tile is more sanitary.”

Still want the warmth of wood? Check out “wood-look” tile, a ceramic that looks like wood, but performs like porcelain.

#4 Exposed Plumbing

It looks so Parisian! And so easy to fix if there’s a leak!

Why you should reconsider: Could be a turn-off to future buyers, especially ones who are toting toddlers. Picture this nightmare a future buyer might have: adorable Olivia climbing the pipes … the pipes come crashing down … water everywhere … and a trip to the ER. You get the (wet and $$$$) picture.

Still gotta have the exposed-pipe look? Go for it. It’s your home, and that’s the point. You should enjoy it. Especially if you’re going to be around for the foreseeable future.

#5 Anything-But-White Tubs and Sinks

You’re screaming for COLOR! No plain white bathtub for you. No, sir-reeee.

Color has slowly been creeping back into bathrooms since it retreated after the pastel-infused ‘50s (think pink and aqua sinks). There’s no denying that’s what makes color cool again — that mid-modern-century groove.

Why you should reconsider: Color can also make bathrooms — typically the smallest rooms in the house — seem even smaller. And if you bake color in with tile and porcelain built-ins, that’s a commitment you might regret when you’re ready to sell.

“The bathroom is one of the most expensive rooms in the house to do, and so I try to be very safe because the parts are going to be expensive to change out — like a tub,” says Dallas designer Suzanne Felber.

And potential buyers may not want your color, nor the expense of replacing it. (Or they could ask you to do it, and wouldn’t that just bite?)

Still determined to go wildly colorful? Paint the walls, or go for a colored linoleum floor that can be changed easily and cheaply.

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Imagine a spacious shower with no slippery porcelain hump to step over … and no more battles with the shower curtain each time you shampoo. And maybe a bench, too? Sounds heavenly.

But a tub-shower conversion is a financial commitment — and you don’t want to make a pricey mistake.

Here are some tips to ensure you’re not dumping your money instead of your tub.

#1 Don't Eliminate Your Only Tub

Even if you only use your tub to wash the mini-blinds, most real estate agents are adamant about having at least one bathtub in your house to preserve marketability.

A recent Houzz poll agrees, with 58% of respondents claiming, “you’ll never sell that house without a tub.”

The reason: many home buyers need a tub for small children.

(Of course, this is just advice, so if your heart is set on a shower-only home, by all means do it. That’s why you own a home, so you can do what you want. Enjoy and read on …)

#2 A Kit Is Your Best Low-Cost Option

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If your old tub is in an alcove, you can remove it and be left with a space that’s about 30 to 34 inches deep and 5 feet wide — which is a good space for a shower. With minor modifications, your water supply and drain lines will already be in place, saving you money on plumbing costs.

Shower stall kits are fantastic low-cost options, made to fit into corners and old bathtub alcoves. They’re typically made of acrylic or fiberglass, and include pre-made sides, a skid-proof floor pan with curbs and a drain hole, and a hinged glass door. Some include extras such as built-in seats and shelves for bath products. Cost is $200 to $2,000, depending on options.

If you want a custom tile shower, the cost jumps quite a bit. Usually around $1,000 to $3,500 depending on complexity, size, and the type of tile and fixtures you choose. Add another $500 to $1,000 for tear-out, new plumbing pipes, fixtures, and any custom carpentry.

#3 Don't Build Around a Window

If your tub is just a tub, and it’s under a window, things might get a bit complicated if you want to do this the right way.

Because you really should avoid having a window in your shower. Seriously. There are just too many opportunities for water to seep into your walls through the window casing. Then you are talking yucky, yucky mold.

And serious house damage.

You might even have to tear out your new shower. That will suck.

So play it safe. Put your shower where there is no window. Or close up the window.

But you’ll still want to have the shower as close as possible to the existing water supply and drain lines to minimize plumbing costs.

#4 Choose the Right Size

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Most building codes say the floor of a shower stall should be at least 30-inches-by-30 inches. A 36-inch-by-36-inch-wide stall is recommended by the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA). If you’re building to the NKBA standards, an existing tub alcove probably needs modification — such as adding short sections of wall — to make the finished shower space 36 inches deep.

Other key measurements:

  • Finished ceiling height: At least 80 inches.
  • Distance from side of toilet to shower wall: 15 inches minimum measured from the center of the toilet to the wall; 18 inches is recommended.
  • Distance from front of toilet to shower wall (or any wall): 21 inches minimum measured from the front of the toilet bowl to the wall; 30 inches is recommended.
  • Shower door swing: Should clear all obstructions, especially the toilet and vanity cabinet. Sliding glass doors or shower curtains can help solve door swing problems.

#5 Focus on the Shower Floor (It's Crucial)

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The floor of your shower (aka the shower pan) has a lot to say about the style and cost of your conversion. You have a choice of two basic types of pan: one corrals water with curbs that you step over as you enter; the other is curbless.

Shower pans with curbs form a complete enclosure to contain water spray and channel it to a drain. The floor of the shower pan has the proper pitch to drain water. Showers with curbs are usually easier — and cheaper — to install than curbless installations.

Curbless shower stalls (aka barrier-free showers) are very au courant but trickier to make — the drainage slope of the floor has to be built below the level of the surrounding flooring surface. That means either raising the level of the surrounding floor, or lowering the shower pan.

If you raise the bathroom floor, it’ll be higher than any other floor that it meets, such as the floor of your master bedroom. You’ll need a transition threshold, which can be awkward and defeats the advantage of curbless shower if you’re wanting to be able to roll in a wheelchair.

#6 During Demolition, Check These Things

  • The condition of existing pipes and replace if necessary.
  • The framing and subfloor for mold, mildew, and rot, and repair as needed.
  • The shower valve — now is the time to upgrade to a single-handle, pressure-balancing valve that controls temps and volume ($100 to $160).
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You fantasize about a bathroom big enough for hot yoga after a steamy shower — a space that can be your personal refuge from the hurly-burly of your house (your life!).

Instead, you’ve got a bath cluttered with all your toiletries right out there in plain view for all your guests to judge, umm, see. It’s like a metaphor for your life; so cramped, you dread trying to blow out your hair tomorrow.

You need space. Here’s how to gain some in your packed bath (collected from the pros who do it for a living).

#1 Hang Shelves in Unusual Places

Being savvy about the type of shelf you choose (think picture ledge instead of bookshelf) and where you hang it (like in that dead wall space between your sink and mirror) can make all the difference in a teeny bathroom (now you’ve got a toothbrushing station — and more sink space!).
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Or go big. And UP. A wide shelf above your bathroom door is instant storage for your vacation beach towels.

#2 Go Into the Walls for Even More Shelves

Feeling cramped often leads to daydreams of taking a mallet to those close-together walls, “Fixer Upper”-style. So do it, really. You’d be amazed how much storage space hides behind bathroom walls between studs that stand 16 inches apart.
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Knock out some drywall (just be sure to check for electrical and plumbing lines first!), then throw in some shelves between the studs.

Keep it open if you’re storing towels or nice-looking bottles of lotion there, or add a door for a little more discretion.

#3 Add Storage to Your Pedestal Sink

Just because your pedestal sink came with the same amount of storage as your yoga pants doesn’t mean there’s no potential there.

You can buy (or build, if you’ve got the DIY bug) cabinets that wrap around the base and, literally, create storage out of thin air. There are lots of options, like Hammacher Schlemmer’s fancy pedestal cabinet that’s priced at $130 and comes with two shelves, tilt-out drawer, and even a magazine rack.

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Another DIY solution: Dress your pedestal with a skirt that hides whatever you stuff behind it. It can even be a no-needle, no-sew project. Just use heavy, double-sided tape to attach and hem it.

#4 Put Part of Your Toilet in the Wall (for Real!)

Unless you’re raising sea creatures in your toilet tank (just kidding! Don’t do that!), your large, porcelain cube is eating up valuable space.

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Consider a wall-hung toilet (starting at $400). It’s minimalist-chic, and frees up floor space because the whole thing sits closer to the wall.

Since the tank and plumbing hide behind the wall, be sure to leave an access panel to save yourself grief down the road.

Tip: A towel bar, or even some light shelving, can be mounted on the access panel for added storage where your toilet tank used to be.

#5 Get the Most Streamlined Faucet You Can

Itty-bitty bathrooms are perfect for simple, single-handle faucets that save space on your sink surround.
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Sure, it’s just a few square inches you’ll save, but that’s valuable bathroom real estate when you’re in the middle of trying that new updo, brushing your teeth, and doing some self-maintenance.

#6 Hide Toiletries in Hanging Baskets

These hangables give even ugly bottles and brushes some style, as well as a home. Most baskets are light enough to mount to the wall using a 75-pound picture hook hammered into a stud (we love those studs!). Or, install an extra towel bar — or the infamous Ikea storage rails — and attach baskets and buckets via S-hooks.
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#7 Get a Spacious Feeling With a Window

If your dark, dank bathroom has no window, and it’s on an exterior wall, add one! It’ll reboot your mornings like nothing else.
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It’s not the cheapest option (about $2,100 installed). But it’s sooooo worth it to get those sunny rays.

Because your bathroom will just feel bigger. And it’ll let fresh air in, which puts the brakes on mold and mildew. Pick a vinyl window, which won’t rot like wood will (plus vinyl is usually cheaper).

#8 Mount a Second Shower Rod (or Double Rod)

If your shower surround is minimalist in all the wrong ways, you know the misery of stashing bottles and razors and soap in tiny, wet, slippery corners.
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But no law says a shower can only have one rod. If you hang a second tension rod inside the shower and add some S-hooks, you can turn your shower into a hanging storage jungle with buckets and caddies.

Tip: You can also buy a double shower rod to do the same thing — or, put the shower curtain on the inside rod and use the outside one to hang towels.

#9 Hack Some Suction Cup Hooks

For something super easy, super quick that’ll give you some instant relief in your cramped bathroom, try suction hooks, which you can hack with elastic hair ties and mount to shower walls.
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Slip razors, shampoo, conditioner through the ties, which will corral the usual shower mess.
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This could be the most dangerous appliance in your home

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Believe it or not, one of the most important appliances in your home – your water heater – also has the potential to be the most dangerous. That’s why it’s so important to make sure it is well maintained.

Water heaters have a thermostat designed to monitor and prevent super-heating. If the thermostat fails, a temperature and pressure relief valve (TPRV) is installed to relieve the pressure. The TPRV is that little metal lever you see on top of your water heater.

A water heater can accumulate more than 85,000 pounds of pressure. If the tank ruptures with super-heated water inside, and there’s no TPRV, the result is a severe explosion. So protect your home. Double check to make sure your water heater has a TPRV.

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WITH FUN FOR ALL AGES - June 30 - July 8, 2018

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The 69th Annual Kutztown Folk Festival returns from June 30 - July 8, 2018. This annual nine-day celebration of Pennsylvania Dutch culture is America’s oldest folklife festival where you can experience the region’s unique heritage and enjoy authentic folklife demonstrations, artisan crafts, children’s activities, antiques, PA Dutch delicacies, and live entertainment on six stages.

The Kutztown Folk Festival is widely recognized as a must-see experience, earning recognition from nationally-known publications.

  • USA Today, One of “America’s Top Celebrations”
  • National Geographic, “Great American Eating Experience”
  • Destinations, 2016 “Best of the Best” in Pennsylvania Culture
  • Where Traveler, “The Most Authentic Folk Festivals in America”

Visitors love The Kutztown Folk Festival near Lehigh Valley. One of America’s most celebrated festivals, the Kutztown Folk Festival is the oldest folklife event in the nation. With over 140,000 visitors a year, the Kutztown Folk Festival features over 200 folk artist and craftsmen, as well as the largest sale of authentic Pennsylvania Dutch quilts in the country.

Six stages of entertainment, folklore and folklife programs, a wide array of children’s activities, and the best Pennsylvania Dutch food found anywhere! It truly is fun for the whole family with strolling musicians and children activities such as hay mazes, do-it-yourself murals, rides, and their own children’s stage. Click here for the map of the grounds.

Twice selected as One of America’s Top 100 Events by the American Bus Association. The Washington Post, in a feature article, named it one of the three “must see” festivals in the region. The USA Today Magazine listed the Kutztown Festival as one of the top 50 offbeat festivals nationwide.

A newer exhibit in recent years is the connection between the Pennsylvania Dutch communities and the Civil War. Visitors can gain great insight into the renowned Civil War historians, exhibits and reenactments, highlighting the role of the PA Dutch and their contributions to the Civil War.

“Guten essen” - good eatin’!

Top PA Dutch Foods To Try At The Festival

  • Full-course, all-you-can-eat Pennsylvania Dutch family-style dinners.
  • Festival favorites including sausage, pot pie, corn fritters, funnel cake, shoo-fly pie, and apple dumplings
  • Dietrich's Meats & Treats at the old-fashioned farmers market, family-owned and operated for generations. They know everything about good food!
  • Bread Oven, another long-held tradition is the festival's 19th-century bread oven, one of the oldest in Pennsylvania, where bread is baked daily. The aroma of bread draws visitors to the bake oven where they can observe this tantalizing baking process, then buy bread to bring home to their families.

What's New for 2018?

The Kutztown Folk Festival will host an authentic Harvest Home celebration. Step back in time and witness this fascinating Pennsylvania Dutch tradition of adorning the local church with harvest decorations, fruits, and vegetables in celebration of a successful harvest.

Bethlehem's National Museum of Industrial History will feature a 100-year-old fully operating printing press. Festival attendees will be able to learn the history of the printing press as well as the importance of the “Industrial Revolution,” not just in the history of Southeastern Pennsylvania, but the entire country.

Several new additions will help comprise the 200 nationally recognized juried folk artists and craftsmen coming from all across America to demonstrate and sell their work. America’s largest quilt sale will see 2,000 new works of art adorn the Festival’s beloved Quilt Barn.

An old-fashioned BBQ chicken picnic will be a new temptation in 2018. Other PA Dutch mainstays include potpie, fritters, bratwurst, shoo-fly pie, scrapple, schnitz n knepp, apple dumplings, pig roast, home ice cream, schnitzel, corn pie, crab cakes, dutch fries, craft beer & wineries, sarsaparilla, bake oven bread, and the festival farmers market. Be sure to bring along your appetite!

New acts joining the numerous returning festival mainstays include; Robby Lawrence & The Steelworkers, the Shippensburg German Band, Magician E.C. Hanna, dialect humorist Doug Madenford, Stella Ruze, Carbon Drifters, Butter Queen Sister, and Tool Shed.

And in their inaugural Festival appearance, Kutztown’s own Allentown & Auburn Railroad will be presenting historical railroad memorabilia and two model train displays.

Tickets, Hours & Parking

Buy festival tickets here, be sure to use the $2 off coupon included in this link. Groups of 20+ can save on here on discounted ticketing. Tickets are sold at the gates. Visa and Mastercard are accepted at the walk-in gate located at 225 North Whiteoak St. All other gates are cash only.

Hours are generally 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., but the festival is open later in the evening on weekends. Parking is free.

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