Real estate: Spring signals home improvement season

Sabrina Belleci
Special to the Tribune

It was a little over a week ago that we were all skiing fresh powder, but how quickly winter has departed (maybe temporarily), and with the onset of spring comes thoughts of home improvement projects.

The winter of 2020–21 so far has been rather benign when compared with the typical Sierra climate. We’ve had far less snow and precipitation this season and only a couple of significant wind events and temperatures at or above average much of the time.

Sabrina Belleci

So while most properties came through the winter season in relatively good condition, there is still the usual wear and tear to address. And major projects such as roof replacement, deck repairs and remodeling require a lot of thought and planning before you begin work.

There are quite a number of specific rules, regulations and restrictions when it comes to doing improvements on your property at Lake Tahoe whether you own a house or condo. It could be something as obscure as a prohibition against using hardwood or tile flooring if you live in a condo above your neighbors. Or something more common like the need to get a permit when you are replacing your siding, roof, building a fence or performing any one of several significant improvements to your property.

Many homeowners and prospective buyers consider the possibility of fencing a portion of their property. In general, there is a 6-foot height restriction between neighboring lots, 4-foot if you’re a corner lot, and there could very well be setback requirements affecting where you could position a fence on your parcel.

You also must take into account whether there is a snow removal easement because you don’t want to build a fence right where the county snow-thrower generally piles up the snow in the wintertime. The requirements for getting a permit to build a fence are not all that complicated. But you do need to provide a site plan, show the location of the fence and all structures on the property along with ensuring the construction of your fence conforms to current building codes.

Typically, this is also the time of year when contractors, handymen and trades people of all types start see their calendars fill up. In our low inventory real estate market, prospective sellers have decided to stay in their current homes and remodel/add on versus trading up or down. Construction professionals are booked out 6-24 months in Lake Tahoe and it has become extremely difficult to secure a qualified team to complete a project or even get bids on smaller projects, like a bathroom or kitchen renovation — not to mention the back order and wait time on new appliances and materials due to COVID.

The nice weather makes it much easier to do all types of projects especially those that involve outdoor improvements and repairs. You may not be able to get all the materials and supplies you need in short order. So, make sure that you allow plenty of time to acquire everything needed for your project well in advance of beginning work so there are no hold ups. And if you are ordering items online, inspect every package upon receipt and immediately notify the shipper of any damage or missing parts so that you can get a replacement without undue difficulty. Using a credit card to make these purchases will provide much easier recourse in the event of a dispute.

It’s exciting to do remodeling and spruce up your property. So, take the time to get estimates, acquire samples of different materials, compare prices and carefully plan each project from start to finish. You’ll save time, money and aggravation along with getting the finished look you desire whether it’s a nicely landscaped yard or that new kitchen you’ve been saving for.

We are fortunate to have professionals who live and work locally performing high-quality services in virtually every trade and craft – even if the project is pushed out 6-12 months. Your real estate agent can likely refer you to people they have worked with in the past so you can see their quality and workmanship before engaging their services and let you know what projects will garner you the biggest return on your remodel investment.

Sabrina Belleci is a realtor and broker/owner of ReMax North Lake.

Weekly Real Estate Update

Statistics gathered from the Incline Village Multiple Listing Service on March 23

Houses Condos PUDs

For Sale 20 16 5

Under $1 million 0 11 2

Median Price For Sale $3.347M $742,500 $1.1M

YTD Sales 2021 59 39 7

YTD Sales 2020 35 35 5

New Listings 9

In Escrow 14

Closed Escrow 14

Range in Escrow $429,000 – $2,899,000

These statistics are based on information from the Incline Village Board of Realtors or its MLS as of March 21.

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