Archive for August, 2012

Remodeling Without a Permit?

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

“Why bother with getting a permit?   We will do the job correctly.  Not getting a permit will save you time (no delays waiting for inspections) and money.  There is no need to.”

“In my town the inspectors are pains in the butt and getting a permit is just a waste of time.  Plus I already pay $9,000 in taxes!  Why give them another reason to raise them more?”

Does this sound familiar?

If you get caught doing work without permits, your Planning Department or Building & Safety Department is likely to issue a STOP order and post a very large and conspicuous sign on the front of your house.  Depending upon the infraction, they could then order the removal of all improvements done without permits (which could require demolition permits), force you and your contractor to pay fines, and you would still have to pay for permits, regardless of whether you then go ahead with the work or not.

Not only that, but inspectors are likely to be much more nit-picky than they might have been if you had taken out the proper permits in the first place.  On top of all that, getting through all the red tape is likely to delay your project for weeks or even months.

Inspections can be scheduled by phone and the inspectors will come out the next day.  A good contractor knows this and will schedule the inspection and have something else to do while waiting for the inspector to approve.  It isn’t like you should be waiting weeks for that.

Do you have nosy neighbors?   Or ones that you just do not get along with?  This is the way most homeowners are reported.  It is revenge time!   Even if a neighbor doesn’t report you, sometimes the inspectors drive around and notice work being done at your home when they inspect the work down the street.

The reason for codes and permits is to make sure the work is being done properly.   Not only for you, but for everyone that purchases the house after you.  Remember that when you sell, you have to certify whether all remodeling work included the necessary permits.  If you lie about this and the buyer later discovers it, you can be sued.   And another major reason for obtaining a permit, your insurance company might have grounds to deny a claim if you have a loss related to the unpermitted work.

The major reason for obtaining permits for additions, adding another bathroom, etc., is that your title will then reflect that your home is actually a 3 bedroom, 2 bath rather than a 2 bedroom, 1 bath, thus making your home worth much more at sale time.

You need to be aware that your taxes will increase by the percentage in your area multiplied by the dollar value of the remodel when you obtain the permit.   But, in my opinion, this is a small price to pay for peace of mind:   not having an inspector show up at your door unexpectedly, not worrying about an insurance claim, being able to declare on a seller’s documents that all work was completed with a permit, etc.

You should never work with a contractor who suggested doing work without permits!  If he’s a shady character in one area, he’s likely to be shady in others.

Everything About Roofing

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Roofing. Replacing or even repairing your roof can be a costly project.  Most homeowners dread the idea of having to invest the money to replace their roof; however, oftentimes it is necessary.   For such a home improvement project, it is important to know all the facts and options available to you.  What materials should you use?  How long will the roof last?  Can you get away with just repairing the roof?

Over the years, roof construction technology has evolved to a point where roof life can last over 100 years.  This is quite an impressive feat when you consider the amount of weather a typical roof can be exposed to.  It must be able to withstand rain, snow, hail, constant sunshine, moss, tree branches and more.  As building professionals have tested what works and what doesn’t, they’ve come up with some very reliable materials and designs that give homeowners added assurance that their roof will not leak and that it will last for years to come.

The question of repairing your roof or replacing it is one of the most common uncertainties among homeowners faced with a leak.  To get the most accurate answer, your best bet is to contact a professional roofing contractor to evaluate your situation.   Being that the roof is one of the most important components of your home you want to make sure you do your homework.   Following are some pointers about your options.

Clay and tile roofing:

Tile and clay have a very distinctive look which is something that must be considered when thinking about going down this route.  Your home design typically needs to be able to match a tile roof design.  Not just any house can look good with a tile roof.   Having said that, these type of roofs actually last the longest as the roofing material resists the damages of the sun, which produces the greatest harm to a roof.

Metal roofing:

What do you think of when you picture a metal roof?   Do you think of those old metal roofs that are tin and rusty with cheap looking ridges?   If this is the image that comes to mind, then please let me enlighten you on some of the advances that have been made over the years.  You may end up changing your mind and deciding that a metal roof is perfect for what you are looking for.   Check out the various images on the internet for metal roofing and I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Roll roofing:

Roll roofing is the most common type of material for the quick fix, the do-it-yourselfer, or for small barns and sheds.  Another common name for this material is ’90 pound felt’ because one roll covers 100 square feet and usually weighs about 90 pounds.   It is one of the least expensive options and should not be considered a long term solution as its typical lifespan is less than 10 years.

Slate roofing:

Have you ever been to Europe?   Ever wonder what is on the rooftops of castles and why they last so long?  The answer is slate.  It is the most durable roofing material made and also arguably the most beautiful.  In the early 1900’s it was the most popular material used but has since decreased in popularity due to its and cost and the fact that so many other roofing products have entered the market.

Asphalt shingles:

Asphalt shingles are the leading choice for residential roofing in the United States, because they provide quality, durability, versatility and economy.  Asphalt shingles offer homeowners the broadest array of colors, shapes, and textures available.  With such an enormous range of styles, asphalt shingles can match almost every type of architectural design and achieve virtually any desired effect, and make it affordable.

As you can see, there are many options available to you as a homeowner when it comes time to replace your roof.   One last observation:  If you even think your roof may leak with the coming winter storms, have it checked out now by a qualified roofing contractor – a leaking roof can cause a considerable amount of damage on the interior of a home, and actually costing more to repair than the cost of replacing the roof.

Events, events, events!!!

Friday, August 10th, 2012


The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce of which D C Keeton Home Improvements is a member, presented their annual ‘Hero’s of Hollywood’ luncheon  at the Taglyn Cultural Center, with all proceeds benefiting various non-profits throughout the Hollywood area.  Honored was Mr. Hugh Hefner of Playboy Enterprises for his two donations totaling over one million dollars to preserve the Hollywood sign.   Also honored were the police officers who were responsible for preventing a major disaster at the corner of Vine and Sunset Blvd. when they were able to put down an individual who had taken to the streets firing his gun at random passing cars as well as pedestrians.




David presented to La Crescenta teacher, Lorena Leininger, a special award plaque from Heifer, International for spearheading a fundraising campaign for the past school year among her 5th – 9th grade students raising over $21,000 in a short two months.  Lorena had previously traveled to Honduras with Heifer and saw just how important the work of this world-wide non-profit was in relieving poverty and hunger.  Upon returning she became dedicated to helping in any way possible to assist in Heifer’s efforts and the results were just astounding!






D.C. Keeton Home Improvements along with Heifer, International both had booths at the annual LGBT Festival held in West Hollywood in late June.   Over 100,000 attend the Festival each year and both booths garnered numerous connections with participants.





D. C. Keeton Home Improvements purchased a booth for Heifer, International at the Largest Mixer, a semi-annual event held at the Shrine Auditorium in downtown Los Angeles.   The event which is geared towards promoting business -to-business connections received over 3,000 visitors.   Heifer’s presence was to let businesses know about this outstanding non-profit and how their company could participate, either by outright donations or giving their clients and employees Christmas gifts of animals for villagers in developing countries rather than some other less meaningful item.   The gift of animals also make great birthday, graduation, wedding, etc., gifts as well.



















David was the co-chairman for the Silent Auction for the annual Chef’s Invasion, an annual fundraiser held by GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation).   Celebrities from the Hollywood community attended and promoted the important work for this dedicated non-profit.   Fran Drescher was the celebrity hostess for the event, and Lou Diamond Phillips was an honoree guest.   Frenchie Davis, recording artist and recent contestant on American Idol, Million Dollar Listing host, Madison Hildebrand, six-time Emmy Award winner, and head writer for the annual Oscar program, Bruce Vilanch, also were in attendance.  Chris Crary, contestant from Top Chef participated in the Invasion, as well as Campanile head chef, Michael Luna.   Over $69,000 was raised on a summer afternoon from more than 400 attendees.




D. C. Keeton Home Improvements built two replica houses for the Heifer, International exhibit at the Orange County Fair, one representing Uganda, the other Thailand.  The houses were erected in the Big Red Barn at the Fairgrounds.  Over 1 million people attend the Fair each year during its 5 week run and Heifer has been a major exhibitor for the past 5 years, with many of the Fairs’ attendees stopping by the exhibit to learn about the important work of this outstanding world wide non-profit.


Mold in the Home

Friday, August 10th, 2012

Molds are microscopic organisms that help to stimulate the recycling nutrients and dead materials in animal and plant matters. They are found everywhere producing spores that is spread by insects, water and air. For molds to grow and multiply they need the right environment with plenty of moisture that can be produced by leaking pipes, humidity and condensation.

How can you know if it is mold? One of the major signs of mold is discoloration, an average homeowner can confused mold for smoke discoloration. Molds on plant and animal matter can appear in colors like black, white, red, orange, violet and blue. When molds are hidden they can be detected by their earthy and musty smell. If mold is allowed to accumulate around the house it can lead to different several types of health problems. Breathing in the spores produced by mold can lead to colds which can cause common colds and eczema. Molds can also lead to asthma, coughing or other ailments related to breathing difficulty.

One of the best ways to overcome your mold problems is by hiring a general contractor to help you carry out indoor air quality checks. In addition to that a general contractor can also help find the sources of moisture supply through the use of special tools. Professional contractors can help you know the extent at which the mold has affected your house and provide advice on a lasting solution. When selecting a general contractor make sure that you ask them for a proposal detailing the type of diagnosis they are going to perform. Remember to always ask the general contractor for their years of experience.

4 Quick Tips on Preparing a House For Sale

Friday, August 10th, 2012

Super Clean: Make your home shine from top to bottom.  And don’t forget about cleaning the carpets, draperies, and windows.

Clear the Clutter: Remove unnecessary items from counter tops, bathtubs, and shower stalls – areas that often attract the most clutter.  Keep only the necessities.  A de-cluttered home helps buyers mentally ‘move-in’ with their own things.  You may even need to rearrange or remove some furniture.  Pieces that crowd a space can make it look smaller than it really is.

Prep your Landscaping: Check gutters and roof for dry rot and moss, and ensure they are clean.  Examine all plants;  Prune bushes and trees, make sure no plants are blocking windows, remove any dead plants, and keep the lawn freshly mowed.

Add nice touches:  Coordinate towels in the bathroom in one or two colors only.  Keep accessories restricted to groups of one, three, or five items.  Make sure all lights and lamps are in working order for showings and to set an inviting mood.

All these tips are relatively inexpensive, but you may need to spend some money on other things to make your home more attractive and to create a ‘top-dollar market’ for your home.

Painting: It is absolutely amazing what a couple of gallons of paint can do to a place to change the look of a home.   And it doesn’t have to be fancy colors – in fact, the more neutral colors sell better.   The bold color that you just love will more than likely turn off half of the prospective buyers.   You can either paint yourself on the weekends (if so inclined) or hire a professional painter;  either way the money you spend will come back to you plus generate more traffic.

Carpets: If your carpet is beyond cleaning and just plain worn out, replace it.  Use an inexpensive neutral colored carpet with a good pad (don’t be cheap on the padding – it makes all the difference in the world on the ‘feel’ of the carpet).   Trust me, you will see your money returned.

Hardwood Floors: If you can see the actual wood on the flooring;  i.e., the polyurethane is completely worn off, refinish them.  And if they are beyond refinishing, you can put inexpensive carpet over them (see above).   Here again, you will get your money back.

Kitchens and bathrooms: Try to make these as clean and uncluttered as possible.   If they are just plain worn out, I would seriously consider ‘taking a hit’ on the pricing of the house.  In today’s market, you may get ‘dollar for dollar’ on such a renovation, but I would not count on it.   Plus you have to put the money out up front (kitchens and baths do not come cheap), have your household completely disrupted, and then discover when you do sell your home, the new buyers will just hate what you have done.   It’s really not worth it , in my humble opinion.