Fix it up and Sell it!

As 2015 progressed we spent time fixing up our home prior to selling it. It didn’t give us a lot of time to enjoy things but enough to figure out what we liked and didn’t like. In February – March time frame we worked on our flooring. We had laminate installed in three rooms plus the hallway (600sqft) then three rooms carpeted (640sqft) for $6,651.05.

 Floor 1   Floor 2

This was a great and hard floor when all was completed. The Kaindl laminate is placed on a small pad (EVO 3 in 1 pad) which is over the under-lament (particle board for our house). We moved all the furniture into the bedrooms and main room for them to do this then moved it all back to help save some cost. The thing with laminate over hardwood or engineered wood–more echo! Definitely noticeable. At least we didn’t put down the Lumber Liquidators stuff that was on 60 minutes. Ours was made in Austria.

In the March – April timeframe we tackled the deck. I did the small paver landings which actually took quite a bit of time even at their small size. I guess I now understand why they charge $10-$15k to do a full deckscape. It is A LOT of labor and hauling heavy blocks–each one weighs about 8-12lbs. Good thing we have a wheelbarrow. Total cost for pavers and materials (rocks) was around $350.

paver 1  paver 2

After the pavers we had a contractor build our Cedar deck (around $6,912). I tore down our original deck along with some help from Ezra and hauled it to the local recycle dump. Current picture shows deck not stained. After the deck cured about six weeks we stained it. Fence was also stained in May. We did it ourselves as it is very expensive to pay someone to stain the deck. The stuff we used cost about $50 a gallon–only the best.

deck1  fence stain

We sold the house at the end of June and moved out in July. Our new house is 24 years newer (only 15 years old now). Hopefully with a bit less maintenance.

Flooring – Laminate vs Engineered Wood

We have done a lot of looking and searching and of course research. There are a TON of laminate makers out there. We’ve looked at: QuickStep, Armstrong, Evoke, Shaw, T.A.S. @ Home, Balterio (IVC Group), Kaindl, and a few others including the ones at Home Depot. Same goes for engineered wood. Basically we need a floating floor to go over our particle board underlayment. We have two choices: Laminate or Engineered wood. These days Laminate is quite impressive and often sells for between $1 – $3 for almost all brands. Engineered wood is tough to find under $3. We did find some between $3-$4. As for install cost, laminate will be around $2 sqft and Engineered wood about $3 in our area. So, for our 600-700sqft area we would look at around $1k to $1.5k on the low site to jump to engineered wood–if we can find the right style. After doing a lot of looking we found something pretty decent. The laminate we found is made by Kaindl out of Austria (

20150129_222838_resized 20150129_222908_resized

The floor above is called Kingston Pecan from their 10mm Coastal product line with an AC4 rating. The floor has a slight texture and matte finish. Because our house is dark we wanted to go with a lighter floor to brighten things up. We anticipate having this installed in February. I’ll take some before and after photos.

Remodel Continued

We finally got the final hardscape quote in and it was $10.6k. A much smaller outfit then the other two firms. They don’t sub out any work and have less overhead so price reflects that. I did look at what the cost of material is for hardscapes ( and found it is just under $3sqft. So, material is reasonably inexpensive. Labor is what cost a lot: retaining wall, moving material, gravel, etc.

I don’t expect to go with the hardscapes due to the 40% cost over a deck. However, we may try to lay the footing where the stairs land with pavers. That would be 5×5 and 7×4 or about 50sqft. That is $150 maybe $200 in pavers plus we’ll need another $100 for gravel and sand. About 2-3 hours of digging, compacting and leveling and we should have a good base to lay pavers. I figure at least 1 full day to do the stair landings assuming we have all the supplies.

On the deck front. We will likely go with Cedar (30% higher for Composite). I’d rather go with the hardscape for $10k over Timbertech deck…wouldn’t you? The image below shows cut corners which is what we will go with. We’ll have one staircase be about 4ft wide and the other 6ft wide with railings. Landing on pavers. The rails will be Cedar with aluminum posts (powder coated black). Seems to be the new style now. We are still waiting to hear back from two more places on quotes. One place is willing to buy kiln dried pre-stained cedar. The other mentioned they could buy kiln dried and pre-stain it themselves. We’ll see where the costs come in. Hopefully they all align.

deck corners

We are 1/3rd done with dismantling our current deck. It is 28×12 and so far we disposed of a 12 x 12 section for $10. We have two more dump visits to a place that will recycle the wood. We will take 8×12 and 8×12 chunks the next time. Total cost including supplies and gas and disposal fee will be under $100. That beats paying someone else $500. Course the cost is about 8 hours of work and some hurt body parts, including shoulder. A lot of prying and lifting.

The beginning of a blog

Rather than restrict post and items to my facebook page where there is limited circulation I figured I would create a blog. Call it a journal if you will.

I plan to talk/discuss general stuff in life on this page. For example, any items regarding fixing up our house and costs of those materials/installation. Buying a car. Product reviews. Items I find that are of good value/quality or poor quality. The good, the bad and whatever else comes into play.

I’ve called the blog “Critical Inspector” as I’m always about inspecting for quality and I’m often very critical. Some may call me a complainer but I like to consider myself critical!

Hardscape versus Deck


We are in the process of fixing up our house which we plan to sell this year (2015). We have a deck that needs to be replaced. Replaced with a new patio. So, we are in the process of getting bids on Decks and Hardscapes. One question is, will we recover our cost? And which has the best return on Equity?

Below is an example of a deck (all cedar with some aluminum post for the rail) and my plans for our deck. Cost for our Cedar deck is running around $7k and with TimberTech and Composite railings is $10k. Is it worth the 3k difference? BTW, I estimated a new deck would cost between $5-$6k. We still have two more bids left.

LosliDeck deck


What about Hardscapes aka pavers? We like this design with the sitting wall and pavers. Unfortunately a retaining wall is also needed due to our sloping land. We’ve gotten two bids in so far for $14.3k and $13.2k. This is looking to be A LOT more expensive than the Deck. We have one more bid we are waiting on.



We both like the hardscapes and I do not want to do all that work myself. However at the additional $5k (so far) there is no way we will go that route. That extra money will go to our flooring project.

We’ll wait until all bids are in to pass judgement and make a decision. Plus we still need to remove our old deck (saves us $500). We’ll do removal in February and have new deck (likely) installed in March.