With the longer days of summer, some of you have a little more time on your hands, providing an excellent opportunity to prevent future hassles. How? By making a floor plan.
First, grab a tape measure, paper, and if, like me, you were not blessed with the coordination required to draw a straight line, a ruler. Draw a sketch of your house as close to scale as you can without measuring anything; include interior walls, too.
Now, find someone who can hold the opposite end of a tape measure and take them outside with you to measure the exterior walls of your house. Record each measurement on the corresponding wall on your sketch.
Go inside and record the length of the walls for each room. Remember, walls have their own thickness (about six inches), so when you transfer your sketch to a more accurate floor plan, take that into consideration.
At this point, you’ll need graph paper, a ruler, and a pencil (a pen will not do unless you never make mistakes); or if you are an Excel aficionado, open a new spreadsheet and make all the cells square-shaped. Each square (on the graph paper or spreadsheet) should represent six inches.
Using the information you’ve gathered, transfer your inaccurate, hand-drawn sketch to a precise, scaled drawing of your home. To make this project really useful, you’ll also need a plat map (a map showing the dimensions and orientation of your property lines). You can get a copy from the Mendocino County Assessor’s Office, or by simply calling your Realtor.
Print out your floor plan and place it on your plat map (scaled and oriented correctly – I didn’t say this would be easy, I said it would be valuable). Now you’re ready to start adding some crucial elements.
Go outside and find the shut off valves for gas and water. Mark them on your plan. Do the same for the electrical panel box, cable TV hookup, and Internet connection. If you can locate the septic tank and leach field, identify them on the plan, as well as any hose bibs and sprinkler valves. If you’re on sewer, identify the cleanout for the sewer lateral to the street. If you’re lucky enough to know where the underground pipes are, include them, too.
You have no idea how much you’ll appreciate this when your sewer backs up, your sprinkler system springs a leak, or an emergency requires you to shut off the gas or water. Generally, one member of the household takes care of home maintenance. Murphy’s Law has proven that problems occur when that person is unavailable to address the issue. (This plan is also a handy tool when you’re trying to talk your spouse out of adding a bathroom outside of your home’s current footprint.)
Speaking of additions, a law calling for the replacement of older plumbing fixtures with water-conserving ones went into effect this year. The law says that, as of January 1, 2014, when significantly improving a property new water-conserving toilets, showerheads, faucets and urinals must be installed before the local building department will issue a certificate of final completion and occupancy. The plumbing fixtures that will need to be replaced include any toilet manufactured to use more than 1.6 gallons per flush; any showerhead manufactured to have a flow capacity of more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute; any interior faucet that emits more than 2.2 gallons of water per minute and any urinal manufactured to use more than 1 gallon of water per flush. Homeowners with questions about their individual fixtures should contact the manufacturers.
If you have questions about real estate or property management, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.realtyworldselzer.com. If I use your suggestion in a column, I’ll send you’re a $5.00 gift card to Schat’s Bakery. If you’d like to read previous articles, visit my blog at www.richardselzer.com. Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 35 years.