4 Things to Know About Home Inspections

How to navigate a home inspection

This summer has been so busy, and I haven’t found much time to write lately. And, quite frankly, I haven’t done anything very exciting around the house in a while. Most of my weekend projects have included unpacking final boxes, cleaning, organizing and fixing things that are broken. After a very intense weekend of fixing things that were broken, I decided that I want to share some things about home inspections that I think everyone should know.

There are certainly lessons we’ve learned from buying two houses now, and they’re valuable. Whether you’re in the market for a new home, already own one or hope to buy one someday, my hope is that this quick guide about home inspections will offer some guidance. Or a moment to commiserate. This little list I came up with are all things I wish I had known, or thought that I did know (but really had no idea.)

4 things you need to know about home inspections.(image source)

1. Getting a good home inspector is your wild card.

Please note: I said good inspector. We did this right in Denver when we bought our first home, but messed up on our current place. In Denver our Realtor was amazing and worked with great partners so when it came time for the home inspections she connected us with one of the best. She knew it was important to us (Mike) to have a ‘Holmes on Holmes’ kind of home inspection, and this guy delivered. He found every small imperfection, but more importantly, the big ones.

We were fortunate enough to have some negotiating power and moved in with all of the big problems fixed. And I didn’t appreciate this at the time, but we also knew exactly what we were getting into. There was only one small surprise, which I’ll get into in a second.

When we bought our current house, we were on a super tight timeline, trying to close in just three weeks. So, our Realtor called on the inspector who owed him a favor and got him out to the house in a few days for the home inspection, instead of the 2-3 weeks that most inspectors were going to take. The report came back a little too clean–nothing major, and only a few small things that the sellers were willing to remediate. We took this as good news, and moved forward. Unfortunately, what we’re finding now is that there was a lot of lipstick on this pretty pig.

The thing with the inspection process is that you don’t necessarily have the time to get a second (or third!) opinion. And, you really won’t know how good the inspector was until you’ve already moved in… so, here’s my advice to you: take your time to get references, read reviews and ask around to get the best inspector possible. If you have time to get a second opinion, it’s worth every dollar–I promise.

Home inspections for home buyers: 4 things you need to know(image source)

2. Pay for elective home inspections, too.

There are several items that the standard inspector doesn’t inspect and you can have a specialist come out to inspect them individually. Ask your Realtor about this, as it varies in different states. For example, Radon is highly prominent in Colorado (it’s a gas that comes up in basements from the soil) and though it’s highly dangerous it’s not required to have it tested. We had to elect to have a specialist come out and test for it.

You should also always have a sewer scope! It’s only a few hundred dollars to send a camera down the drain to ensure that all of your underground pipes are in good condition, and totally worth it to save yourself a $12,000+ expense if a pipe bursts. Especially if it’s an older home with clay pipes, don’t skip this step.

Also, get the sprinklers inspected. When we bought our first house we ran the sprinkler system every day until we got a $400 water bill. Come to find out, it was just dumping all the water out into the ground. We didn’t realize that the sprinkler system isn’t part of the normal home inspections, but I highly recommend having it checked if you can.

4 things you need to know about home inspections before you close on a home(image source)

3. When it comes to home inspections, Don’t be shy about asking her age.

Knowing how old things are in the house will help you both short-term and longterm. If the inspection reports that the water heater is in great condition, ask how old it is (It has a sticker with a date on it.) If it’s 12 years old, you’ll likely be replacing it at some point even if it’s working well now.

Make a list and find out the age of things like the HVAC, appliances, plumbing, most recent remodels, etc. Also, ask about the upkeep and find out when the last pesticide was sprayed or carpet cleaning was done.  Some of these answers will come out of the home inspections, but don’t rely on them to offer up the details. It will help you budget and plan for these expenses later on, at the very least, so don’t be shy about asking!

Home buyers: The truth about home inspections(image source)

4. Home warranties aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

I don’t know how many times I heard “you better get a home warranty!” when we were buying our first home. They seem like such a great idea, but the reality is that they’re a waste of money.

First, they only cover a limited number of items–mostly major ones. Appliances are covered, but not if they’re broken–only if they need to be replaced. Garage door openers, leaks, mold and electrical are not covered. If you do have a problem with something that’s covered,  you can call them and they’ll send out their preferred partner to check it out. They’ll charge a trip fee as well as “nickel and dime” you on several other small costs.

Personally, I prefer to call out highly-rated companies for a free consultation and then negotiate a good rate on the repair. I’ve heard from several friends that going through their home warranty has actually cost them more money than if they hadn’t.

It’s nearly impossible to buy a house without any problems, so the most important thing is to set realistic expectations for the home inspections. Part of home ownership is fixing things you don’t want to fix. I think we’ve finally gotten most of the dirty work out of our way, and I’m looking forward to getting back to decorating and settling in!


Renovation Reality

holly on hummingbird-bathroom renovation

I have been so consumed with this bathroom renovation project, but unfortunately, I’ve been bitten by renovation reality.

In my last post, I talked about how we’ve been somewhat forced into remodeling the master bathroom sooner that we planned. To say that the planning alone is a lot of work is an understatement! I had no idea how much effort would be involved with just getting the project started.

Homeownership is constantly teaching me something new, and I love it! Sometimes these projects are a piece of cake, and other times we’re way in over our heads. In this case, I thought I new what to expect and was just way wrong! HGTV shows make it all look so simple, which is another reason it stings when renovation reality sets in.

I thought we’d call a contractor or two, get a bid, pick out some building materials and then we’d have a brand new bathroom in a matter of weeks. From the beginning of that sentence to the end, I wasn’t even close.

As it turns out, finding a contractor is hard work.

I mean, hard work.

I just counted up the number of contractors I’ve met with over the past several weeks. Eleven.  Well, nine if you don’t count the two that never showed up for our appointment. Out of the nine contractors I actually met with, only five of them have actually submitted proposals–the others just fell off the face of the earth.

master bath renovation - holly on hummingbird

Master renovation - floor plan - holly on hummingbird

I thought that we’d be able to find a contractor rather quickly and then be able to get started within a couple of weeks. Some guys were scheduling appointments 2-3 weeks out just for the consultation! And, there were many GCs that were scheduling projects to start into November/December. Even though we did the work up front to have space plans drawn up, some of these guys took three weeks just to get the proposal to me.

It’s no secret that I have expensive taste. But, even with an extremely budget-conscious approach, this remodeling project turned out to be twice as expensive as we thought.

Twice as expensive.

The first bid we got was for $12,500. The second was for $36K even (I’m sorry–what?!) After the third bid came in around $25,000 we reached out to our space planner for a second floor plan that didn’t include adding on a powder room, in hopes that limiting the plumbing changes would help with the cost.



holly on hummingbird - bathroom renovation- floor planMaster Bathroom Floor Plan2.1-Holly on Hummingbird


The renovation reality is that it costs $15K-$20K to redo a master bathroom. Not $10K like we had hoped.

So, what now?

Well, it just doesn’t make sense to do this right now. As much as we tried to fight it, the reality is that we’re going to have to tear down some walls to rebuild them to tear them back down later. And I’ll have to get over it.

The good news is, we can continue to save our money and do the renovation as we had originally planned when the time is right. The bad news is, the only thing I have to show you until then are these amazing drawings of our future bathroom by Kat Black Designs.

holly on hummingbird-master bath renovation drawing

3d drawing-bathroom renovation-holly on hummingbird

Holly on Hummingbird Powder Bath - renovation

Bathroom Remodel Inspiration

Bathroom Remodel Inspiration

I just share my master bath makeover with you, and it sounds insane, but we’re planning a bathroom remodel.

We’ve been so busy the past month dealing with a little plumbing problem (which I can’t share too much about) and we’re pretty much forced to go ahead and do the bathroom remodel now. It’s been crazy hectic calling contractors, meeting with them and getting quotes! We’ve also been working with a space planner to ensure that we’re utilizing our square footage to the max, and we’re now on round four… But, it’s also super exciting!

I’ve spent lots of time searching for inspiration and trying to figure out what I want, which is a ton of fun but also a little overwhelming.  Especially since I have such expensive taste! I think I’ve finally got a pretty clear picture of what I want to do, and lucky for me, Mike and I generally agree on these things (I do have great taste, after all…)

I love all white bathrooms, but I’ve really been into black and white lately.  I’d love to incorporate brass hardware as well, but that’s the one thing Mike didn’t agree with, so I’ll let him win that one.  And by win, I mean that I’ll do it in the guest bathroom instead. ;)

I will share our space plans with y’all next week, but in the mean time I thought I’d share some of the photos I’ve been swooning over.  Whenever I’m looking for ideas and inspiration I generally have a few go-to sites: Pinterest, Houzz, MyDomaine and Apartment Therapy.

Here’s some of my favorite bathroom remodel inspiration:

Mixed Media

I love how they mixed up the metals in this bathroom. Chrome on the vanity lights, brushed nickel on the faucets and drawer pulls, and then the glass knobs on the drawers. It just goes to show that you don’t have to be matchy-matchy.


White cabinets-bathroom remodel

 (Image via Pinterest)


Tile Patterns

I love creating texture with tile, and I can’t get over the way they used different patterns and textures within the same color scheme.  Notice the hexagon pattern on the shower floor–that’s a must in my new shower!

mydomaine bathroom photo

 (Image via Apartment Therapy)


Wood on white

I have really found myself drawn to this trend of wood on white, and this bathroom is ideal. I love how they’ve incorporated this amazing vanity (I’m seriously in love) into the all-white color scheme. Based on the comments on this post, it was custom made in NYC, so it likely cost the same amount as my entire remodel budget… I’ve gotta find someone to make this for me!

midcentury modern bathroom vanity

 (Image via Houzz)


Subway Tile

It’s so basic, but I just love white subway tile. It never goes out of style and it’s super cheap. Lowe’s sells it for 72 cents a tile–you can’t beat it!  I’m definitely going to be using it in my new bathroom, but I’m on the fence with the black grout. I go back and forth on it–what do you think?

white subway tile-bathroom remodel

 (Image via Pinterest)


Black + White Geometric Tile

This is a seriously bold look, but I really love it. I think it adds character and definitely some style! I’m thinking that maybe I’ll use something similar for the shower floor.

white-black bathroom remodel inspiration

 (Image via Pinterest)


Tile Accent Walls

I really want to do a tiled wall above the vanity.  I think it’s a great way to create a really elegant look, and would be an ideal spot to use some of the more expensive tile I’ve found since it’s just a small area.  This is the tile I’ve been dreaming of for this.

tile for bathroom remodel

 (Image via MyDomaine)

We have so many choices to make! Stay tuned to see the space plans next week and to find out how this bathroom remodel turns out later on.

Inexpensive DIY Roman Shades (No Sew!)

DIY Roman Shades-Blog

Isn’t it crazy how expensive window coverings can be?! When you’re looking to dress up an entire house worth of windows it’s easy to break the bank. And, I don’t know about you, but I have a heck of a time finding exactly what I’m looking for. So, last week I created these inexpensive DIY roman shades for my kitchen, with a little help from my mom.

When we bought our house, every room had these light colored wood  mini-blinds. They almost have an orange tint to them and are really 90s. Fortunately, we have enough privacy in the back of our house that we never have to actually close the shades–I could cook naked if I wanted to–so I didn’t put the kitchen blinds back up after we painted.

However, even if my butt looks good bare, the windows didn’t! They seemed unfinished and I wanted to dress them up, so I hit up the fabric store and pulled the blinds out of the garage to make some DIY roman shades on the cheap.

Jo-Ann Fabrics was having a 50% off sale, so I ended up getting this awesome black and white geometric print for sixteen bucks. You’d normally want to use those cheap, thin mini blinds but for the sake of saving money I used what I already had. The only other supplies needed are fabric glue and iron on hem tape, so I spent a total of $25 for both windows.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make these:

Items needed:

Step 1: Measure

measure-2 DIY roman shades

Measure the length of the window to determine how much fabric you need. If you want to be able to close them, you’ll want to measure the full length of the window. In my case, I don’t intend on opening/closing the shades so I decided to use less fabric by making them stationary. I actually skipped this step because I decided to just go by the width of the fabric (total cheater, I know.) Add an extra inch so that you can create a clean edge.

The width will need to be the same width as the blinds, plus 2 inches (1 inch on each side)

Step 2: Iron

Step one-iron diy roman shadesRun the iron over the fabric real quick to get any wrinkles out.

Step 3: Hem

no-sew hem roman shades

While you’ve got the iron in hand, go ahead and make your edges. Fold the top of the panel over 1/2 inch and iron a nice crease in it, and then do the same for the bottom.

On each of the sides, you’re going to “hem” them with the hem tape. The 1″ tape makes it super easy to be precise, as you can just align it with the edge of the fabric and fold it over as you iron. I like to run the iron over the hem a couple of times just to make sure it’s secure.

Step 4: Cut

remove button-roman shades

Once both sides are hemmed, set your fabric aside and lay the blinds out in front of you. On the bottom, you’ll see a little button-looking-thingy–pop it out. There should be four of them, and you’ll do the same thing to each.

There are two sets of cords in each section–one that’s a little thicker, and one that looks like a ladder. Carefully cut the ones that look like a ladder and pull them out completely.

two cords on shades-DIY roman shades

cut the cord-roman shadesOnce those are gone, go back the the holes on the bottom where you popped that button-looking-thingy out and untie (or cut) the knots of each cord.

Step 5: Remove

remove slats-Roman Shades

Now that you’ve cut the slats free, you’re going to remove most of them. Set the bottom piece aside, as you’ll reattach it later.

Figure out how many folds you want the shades to have (it varies based in the length of the window.) When you reattach the bottom piece, it will also create a fold so if you want four folds, keep three slats attached and remove the rest. I wanted three, but I forgot about that extra one at the bottom (whoops!) so I ended up with four.

Step 6: Measure Again

Lay the blinds out on top of the fabric, aligning the top edge of the top bracket flush with the hemmed edge of the fabric. Each fold will need to be even, so figure out how much distance you need to have in between each, including the top bracket and bottom slat.

Mine worked out great since the fabric was 40″ in total length. We placed a slat 10 inches from the top bracket, and then another one 10 inches below that slat, and another one 10 inches below that. The bottom piece is 10 inches below the last slat.

measure diy roman shadesOnce all of the pieces are in place, line them all up perfectly with the edges of the fabric.

Step 7: Glue

Start at the top and squeeze some glue out onto the front of the bracket. Don’t be stingy–get a good amount on there! Press the fabric onto it, ensuring that the top edge is lined up perfectly. This is important, as it’s the one spot that a boo-boo would be visible.

fold over top-roman shades

Next, gently flip the first slat over and spread some glue on it and then flip it back over and press against the fabric. Be careful not to move it out of position, and keep it as straight as possible.

apply glue to diy roman shadesDo this with the rest of the slats, but pause when you get to the bottom piece.

Step 8: Reattach

Before you glue the bottom piece to the fabric, you need to reattach those button-looking-thingies. Pull the cords taunt (but not hard) through the bottom hole and tie a knot in the end. Stuff the knot back up in the hole and snap the button thing over it.

retie the know-roman shades

Step 9: More Glue

Okay, now you can glue the fabric around the bottom piece to finish it up. Let it sit for about an hour to dry.

bottom fold over-roman shades

Step 10: Hang ’em up!

This is the fun part! Once the glue has dried, you can go hang them up. Snap the shades into the bracket and attach them as you would mini blinds. Then, pull on the cord to adjust the length… and voila! You’ve just made inexpensive roman shades!

I love this little project and had so much fun making them with my mom. They turned out great, and no one can ever believe how inexpensive they were to make. Mom and I worked on a few other projects that day, and I’ll be posting about them soon so come back and find out what we were up to!

completed project-roman shades

Master Bathroom Makeover DIY

DIY-Bathroom-MakeoverWe’ve now lived in our home for 60 days, and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Almost all of the boxes are unpacked and the rooms are starting to come together… I’ve finally finished the master bathroom makeover, and I’m excited to show y’all how it turned out!

As I mentioned in a previous post, this bathroom is super ugly! The “decorative” tile and textured walls make it nearly impossible to work with, but I think we’ve gotten it to a good place. We intend on doing a full remodel at some point (hopefully soon!) so the goal was to just get it to a level of ugly that I can live with. Cue the bathroom makeover DIY.

Bathroom Makeover-Before

It really is amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do! After surviving the blue bathroom nightmare, I’m really happy with the gray-but-almost-white color that we ended up with. When Symphony Blue turned out to be anything but symphonic, I reverted to my trusty go-to color palette–gray. I wanted it to look as crisp and clean as possible, and I was worried that a greige or brown-gray wouldn’t be clean enough. I sure as heck wasn’t going to touch the blue-gray tones, so we settled on Olympus White by Sherwin Williams.

Master Bathroom Makeover DIY

I’ve been obsessed with the oh-so popular Greek Blue this summer, and found these fantastic bath rugs and towels at Target. I’ve never decorated with blue before, but I just love the sort of Mediterranean feel of these bright blue and white pieces. Especially with the (super weird) terra-cotta tile floors–it reminds me of Greece. And, for a bathroom that started out in Tijuana, it’s a huge step up for this makeover to land us in Mykonos.

Greek Blue Bathroom Decor-Bathroom Makeover DIY IMG_6050I haven’t finished the vanity yet–I’m still trying to decide what to do. One idea is to paint it navy blue and replace the hardware, but I can’t decide if it’s worth it. Hopefully, we’ll get to do a full remodel next spring, and that seems like a lot of work for a short time period.  I may just replace the hardware and call it a day.  Any opinions?

I love to make my own wall art! It’s so much fun to be able to make something that says exactly what I want it to say–it brings out our personality, and in this case, sets the stage for my shower-time vocals. All I did was throw this together in Photoshop, print it out and slap it in a frame–super easy!

Fresher than you Beyonce wall art-Bathroom Makeover DIY Fresher than you Beyonce wall art

Another easy DIY was this artwork I hung on the back wall. My mom was cleaning something out (her attic or garage or something) and had this big silver frame with the glass broken out of it. I happily took it off her hands last spring with this project in mind. I just bought this fabulous Nate Berkus fabric from Jo-Ann’s and a can of blue spray paint. After my mom sprayed the frame for me during our girls crafting day, I stapled the fabric to the back of the frame while pulling it taunt and attached a picture frame hook to the back of it. Easy peasy.

DIY Wall Art Nate Berkus-Bathroom Makeover DIYDIY Wall Art Nate BerkusI think this bathroom has a ton of potential, and I can’t wait to take out the bathtub and knock some walls down. The dark shower stall is less than ideal too (especially when I’m shaving my legs,) but for about $100 and a day’s worth of work, I think we’ll manage for the time being.

Master Bathroom Makeover Before-After