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Wide Eye

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  1. A contractor came in and said our gas furnace is too old. He also said there's CO2 leaking issue.I noticed that the heater had to work extremely hard in the winter last year. Can anyone please recommend an energy efficient model eligible for tax credit? Or any reliable contractor to use? Or any website I can go read more on this topic? My house is a 4-bedroom one story built in the 60s. The furnace is in the attic. Thanks in advance.

  2. Err, where is the toilet in the picture?

    IMO, it won't look very good with the gaps on either side, like wasted space or you tried to go cheap and not get a custom vanity. I see a couple of options: (1) use the 61" vanity, adding wood fillers to attach it to the side walls, and then use a full width top. (2) consider pushing a smaller vanity to one side, and then putting in a nice floor cabinet furniture with shelves and doors to hold towels.

    What style are you going for? Depending on your style, (1) or (2) may look better.

    The toilet is next door, next to the bath tub. Most 61-inch vanities have double sinks. I want one with 1 sink only since this is a guest bathroom. I like traditional or classic style. Any suggestions on where to buy? Thanks!

  3. My bathroom has a space of 64-inch long for bathroom vanity. The space is wall to wall and currently there's a built-in vanity. Most standard vanities are 61-inch or 48-inch including countertop. Does it look odd if I install a 48-inch one in the middle with an 8-inch gap at both sides? Or to install a 61-inch vanity with a customized 64-inch countertop? I don't plan on paying for a customized vanity which cost >>$1,000. Other than HD and Lowes, what other stores may carry standard vanities at around $500-600? I know there're a lot of remodeling pros here, so hopefully someone can give me some suggestions. Thanks.

  4. Cinco Ranch has 3 large apartment complexes within about 3 miles of each other back on Mason and Fry with plans to put another large apartment complex in next to the Elementary school on south fry.

    Mr. B, may I ask you by which elementary school on S Fry will they build a new apartment complex? I noticed vacant lot on west side of Fry near Highland Knolls and also on both sides of Highland Knolls between S Fry and West Green. What's the plan for this area? I image someone will eventually want to build something over here?

  5. I second sticking to natives (or even xeriscape) and staying away from red tips and ligustrum (not a fan at all of Indian Hawthorne, but it seems to be hardy).

    I can only see a small picture of the house (mobile) so maybe I can add more later about design.

    What is your idea of minimal maintenance?

    I don't mind pulling the weeds or pruning once a quarter... but not anything has to be in a certain shape which requires trimming every week. Thanks!

  6. I posted this in another thread; it may give you some good ideas for plant variety:

    Oh, and do NOT under ANY circumstances purchase Ligustrum, or Red Tip Photinias! They are overused, and quite prone to several deadly fungal diseases!

    I agree, we had to remove a dead Red Tip Photinias not long ago. What about a red maple? Maybe somewhere closer to the curb? I like colors all year long and hope a small ornamental tree can add color and also balance the view.

  7. Here's what I'd do:

    You might even want to widen the front walk; it looks kind of skimpy. Consider using pavers similar in color to the brick on the house. Put in beds on both sides of the walk, following the contours of the walk. Plant a mixture of liriope and sun-loving annuals in these beds to draw the visitor's eye to the front gate.

    Extend the beds across the front of the house with some low hedges. You said you wanted low-maintenance. I'd suggest Indian Hawthorne or Variegated Ligustrum. Both like sun and just need occasional trimming to keep their shape. The light colors in the variegated ligustrum would tie into the light colored brick. The darker Indian Hawthorne is for contrast, and the red undertones would tie into the brown trim. Plant some sun-loving annuals in front of the hedges for color. As far as shape goes, the bed across the front of the house could be straight, since the house is so orthogonal, or you could add a few contours that relate to the arches.

    Since you have a giant blank wall with abundant sunlight, consider planting an espalier on the front of the house. Perhaps it could play off of the architecture of the house to highlight the arches? You could also add some dramatic lighting at night.

    Plant a shrub ~6' high on the right corner of the house to visually balance the gate opening on the left side. Maybe a Japanese Yew.

    Plant a shade bed around the tree and the low brick wall. Use low-maintenance plants such as aspidistras and mondo grass. Add some impatiens and caladiums for color in these areas.

    Whatever you do, don't rush into any landscaping project. Take the time to pay attention to your yard and observe the light conditions at various times of the day throughout the year. Doing so will help you select the right plants for the right places. Otherwise, you'll just get frustrated trying to fight Mother Nature, and she always wins. Consider phasing the project, it will give you more time to plan and decide what you want. More importantly, it will be easier on your pocketbook; re-landscaping a yard can get expensive, especially if you don't do all the work yourself.

    The front of the house faces north, so sunlight is Ok but not great. The two plants I currently have there in front of the side wall are Hibiscus. They don't do well in most time of the year due to the lack of sunlight. I'm thinking of replacing them with two camelias? I like your recommendation on the shape of the flower bed. I also agree that a small tree is needed at the right side to balance the view. Thanks a lot!

  8. Did there used to be three arches on that facade? I think I can see a ghost of them. That is a tough one. Maybe (I can't believe I am going to say this) a southwestern type landscaping, desert with rocks, succulents, etc. I'll be interested to see what others have to say. Check out realtor.com for San Diego or Reno and see if you see anything there that you like.

    Thanks for sharing the ideas. I'd like to add some green and flowers. Can't decide on the shape of the flower bed in front of the house.

  9. I've searched all over for some landscaping ideas for this spanish style front but found little information. I think maybe people here can help me. There're a lot of houses in this style in the Houston area, but I haven't seen anyone with an appealing front(of course I haven't been all of the neighbourhoods). I also need advice on the type of bushes I can use as a hedge that requres minimal maintenance. Thanks in advance!

  10. Anything bad happened in Frostwood (the subdivision)? I thought it's a nice and safe neighbourhood. Would appreciate if you may share more details.

    I know a lot of Frostwood residents are jumping ship because of crime. Spring Branch neighborhoods south of 10 are still very strong. We sold our home in 4 days at full asking price with 3 backup offers.
  11. I finally found my friend who has been "correcting" the problem. foundation work was done on his home prior to his purchasing it. He told me that most if no companies seal the concrete back up after doing interior piers which is where the problem originates from. this allows water to wick up the concrete. He initially noticed is carpet had a slight moisture feeling while walking without shoes.

    the white powder is definitely a sign of a broken vapor on the foundation.

    After extensive research, he used a product called Sani-Tred 866-784-3308.

    He also said that if you'd like to talk to him he would be more than willing to offer suggestions and why he chose that specific product. Just PM and i'll give you his work number.

    He said the few companies that do the work use other less reliable products and won't guarantee anything. I know one bid was 10000 with no guarantee.

    musicman, it's very nice of you to offer the help. We really appreciate that. Although we finally managed to fix the concrete by ourselves (filled the small holes and sealed the concrete floor), your friend's experience made me feel more confident that what we did was right. I think the white powder is some kind of salt. After we sealed the floor, as long as no moisture comes through, there shouldn't be more salt building-up. I just love this website as a lot of kind people like you always ready to help out :)

  12. resealing a slab is ridiculously expensive....you better check underneath your carpets as well to see if they are absorbing moisture. i know this happened to a friend of mine whose house had foundation problems corrected. well, they cut holes in the foundation and didn't seal them when done. water was wicked up and absorbed in the floor/carpets. this is a case where the moisture barrier was compromised. did you have any work done>?

    i'm not saying that's your problem...but you better check.

    i think the white powder is lime leaching from the concrete not salt.

    I actually noticed the same thing in my house. After we removed the carpet, we made small dents/holes on the concrete floor. After a few weeks, I saw white powder and cotton kind of things growing out of the holes. Bleach works for only 12 hours, maybe. Our house had foundation fixed about 10 years ago. I don't know whether that has anything to do with this. Any ideas?

  13. Valid point. Appreciate.

    My concern is that if we buy real wood, we may have to hire professional to install it. I'd rather put more money in material than labor...

    If you are concerned about adding value, I'd do some research and find out what most houses in your neighborhood have. If most have carpet, then there is probably little value in anything other than carpet.

    If most houses have real wood, there might still be little value in laminate :) (I'm not a laminate fan)

    How about a prefinished real wood floor?

    Lumber Liquidators Prefinished wood floors...


    ps. as a "buyer", if I was looking at a house with laminate floors, I'd factor in replacing them in my offer on the house.

  14. Where would you buy laminate floor (w/ wood texture) or blind? We'll install everything by ourselves so labor cost is not an issue. We looked at some Dupont laminate floor with padding attached. It seems easy to install, but I'm not sure of the quality of the padding. Anyone has experience on this?

    Do you think having laminate floor is a good idea for bedrooms? Good quality laminate costs close to solid wood. If I ever have to sell my house, I wonder whether laminate would add much value to the house. Any ideas?

    We need to remove the paint on a door (not cover it but remove it, because the paint was not evenly applied on the surface). Other than sanding, any other options?

    I appreciate any suggestions.


  15. Good point! I love dogs, too. The only thing is that when you're out of town, you can't leave your dog at home alone ;)

    I use this system. Works great, not too expensive, and has the added benefit of being a wonderful chick magnet. Keeps my feet warm at night, too. :P


    Seriously, I don't use the monitored systems. In addition to the dog, which really IS effective if it is a barker, I employ other theft deterents, like long throw deadbolts and trimming my shrubs. I also keep good homeowners insurance.

  16. With all the talk about real estate slow downs, east & west coast real estate bubbles etc. I am wondering what everyone's observations have been on the housing markets in their areas. I guess I want to see if it is just my imagination, but I am getting the sense that we may be entering a period of really strong appreciation, despite the doom & gloom you hear about for property values. That is not something based on the rosy reports coming out of HAR every month, although they certainly seem to back it up. It is not based on aything more than just an impression I am getting. I am curious if others are seeing similiar signs.

    For example, in Westbury/Parkwest a house just went on the market for $274,900. I thought no way. It has pergo flooring in the kitchen, no hardwoods, the baths have been redone but are pretty plain. Formica counters. It's nice, but no hardwoods, granite or pool. Less than 2500 sq ft. but it went under contract in less than 30 days. Another one south of Bellfort on McKnight with a pool went up for $232,900. That is a lot for that section of Westbury, especially since it still needed some things done like the hardwoods refinished. My mod sale on Warm Springs for $220k was the highest sale in that section previously. I had a buyer put in an offer of $227,500 on the McKnight house and they were out bid! It wasn't long ago you just didn't see these prices in Westbury.

    In Idylwood one closed today for $216,000 that was under 1600 sq ft. There is one house asking over $300k that is under contract in there. Another sold quicky in the upper $200's. I had a buyer put an offer in on one in there, offering below asking, but at a price per foot that would have been a new record in Idylwood from what I could tell. The seller wouldn't take it & did end up selling it within $1000 of their asking price. The rehabbed house I had in Houston Country Club on Fair Oaks for $189,900, that some on the board loved, and some hated, had three offers my seller had to select from.

    Even in Glenbrook, there is one house that was about 3100 sq ft with a pool that was remodeled in the 80's. It wasn't updated, but it wasn't the cool original mod style either. It's nice & all, but on a standard lot for that area, not backing up to the bayou or anything. It just sold in 7 days, to a cash buyer I think, for $275,000 or around $87 a foot, when most things have been running closer to $65 psf in there.

    I am seeing this sort of thing happening all over & with more frequency. Are others seeing signs of upticks in their neighborhoods? I am curious if it is just my imagination.

    Are you sure that the buyers you talked about are not from California? Just curious.

  17. Well first you have convince masses of old Houston families to move to a master planned community.....that will never happen. Master plans have no exclusivity or privacy, which Memorial/Tanglewood has in the droves. Its a hard thing to give up. Also, master plan communities have a huge transient population, so pride in "THE neighborhood" never establishes.

    So for starters: no strips malls,gas stations, apartment complexes, full acre wooded lots, private patrols or a neighborhood loyal police department, several exclusive membership clubs, close to town,incredible schools, great culture and resturants, great pride in the neighborhood and families that live there for generations....so yeah, there will never be another Memorial. But if you can tap into a few of those things, maybe you will create something that will be nice.


    Thank you

    Fonn Villas and Memorial Meadows are pretty close to the "strip malls". The community has retained its value well, hasn't it?

  18. Memorial Hermann, the largest Houston-area hospital group, is working with a Houston-based real estate firm to build a new 35-story tower at the hospital's Memorial City campus.


    I'm curious how this would impact the neighbourhood, specifically the houses nearby...

    (Sorry, I intended to post this under the "Memorial City Mall" topic. Don't know how to delete and re-post.)

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