Preparing Your Garage for an Electric Car

Electrify Your Home: How to Prep for an Electric Vehicle

 

Electric cars help lower emissions and fuel costs, improve fuel economy, and bolster energy security. And considering the volatility of gas prices—and their general skyward trajectory—electric fuel shows promise as an economic alternative.

But switching to an electric vehicle entails more than new driving habits and a conversation piece with strangers. It’s also a lifestyle update.

From setting up a charging station in the garage to maintaining optimal temperatures therein, check out these useful garage preparation tips to assure your electric vehicle battery is in tip-top shape.

 

Selecting a Charger: Level 1 vs. Level 2

Unfortunately, charging an electric vehicle might be a tad more involved than charging your smartphone. And unless you own a Tesla Model X, which can travel upwards of 300 miles on one charge, your electric plug-in vehicle could benefit greatly from a home station charger. That said, make sure you familiarize yourself with the two main levels of electric vehicle chargers supplied by home-based charging equipment and most public charging stations.

 

Level 1 vs. Level 2 Chargers

 

Level 1 Chargers

A Level 1 cord set charger delivers a standard household current of 110 or 120 volts and comes with most plug-in vehicles upon purchase. It’s outfitted with a three-pronged, household plug at one end that’s connected to a control box by a short cord. A longer 15-to-20-foot cord running from the other side of the box connects directly to the vehicle itself.

  • If time is not of the essence, a Level 1 could be the way to go. But be forewarned: What you get is, more or less, a trickle charge that affords roughly three to five miles per charging hour. For instance, the Nissan Leaf takes around 24 hours to fully charge on a standard 120-volt household outlet.
  • The upside is, Level 1 equipment doesn’t entail an elaborate setup of high-power circuit breakers or dedicated electrical lines, which are required by major appliances and Level 2 chargers.
  • Because cord sets are portable, plug-in vehicles can be charged virtually anywhere there’s a standard outlet, provided it isn’t a household outlet that’s patched into the same circuit as other demanding appliances—in which case the excess amperage could trip a circuit breaker.

 

 

Level 2 Chargers

If time is of the essence, consider installing a Level 2 charger, which delivers 240 volts and replenishes pure electric vehicles in about three hours—which is about seven to eight times faster than Level 1 equipment. Unlike the simplicity of Level 1 setups, though, Level 2 chargers will warrant the services of a professional due to the rigmarole of electrical codes, equipment setup, and necessary inspections.

  • Level 2 chargers cost anywhere between under $300 to over $1500, the price ultimately depending on cord length and amperage.
  • Level 2 outputs typically range between 16 to 30 amps, but professionals often recommend around 30- to 40-amp systems—an adequate overnight charge for most plug-in electric cars.

 

 

Installing a Charging Station

It’s worth mentioning that the “charger” you’re installing is technically referred to as Electric Vehicle Service Equipment (EVSE). This is the wall-mounted box with cord and plug that delivers electricity and functions as a communication and safety unit for the actual charger situated inside the vehicle itself.  The EVSE ensures the battery doesn’t overheat and shuts the charging session down if there’s a short circuit, power surge, or any other type of faulty hardware.

If you’ve opted for a Level 2 ESVE, you’ll likely need to reach out to a professional electrician to wire up equipment and determine where the ESVE should be situated in regards to where your vehicle is parked. Notwithstanding factors like outdated wiring, meters, and breaker panels, updating the garage for your electric ride should actually be pretty straightforward.

In rare instances, old wiring may need to be replaced. But by and large, the process is fairly easy and uncomplicated. What’s more, the plug itself isn’t any more difficult to install than a standard dryer outlet. For electric vehicle owners, installing a Level 2 ESVE is definitely the way to go.

 

Cost of Installation

The installation cost generally hinges on the work involved—such as the amount of wire that needs to be run, whether additional or replacement breaker panels are necessary, and the cost of labor in your area. This could vary between just a few hundred dollars to a couple thousand. However, you may be able to snag special rates from your utility company for installing an EVSE, so make sure you inquire.

 

Maintain Optimal Charging Temperatures

Even in the Seattle area, temps regularly drop below freezing in the winter.  Recent studies suggest that charging time increases significantly as the weather goes down.  If your garage is currently unheated and you want to keep charging time to a minimum, consider these tips from Family Handyman on the best ways to add a heating system.

 

 


ABOUT WINDERMERE MERCER ISLAND

We earn the trust and loyalty of our brokers and clients by doing real estate exceptionally well. The leader in our market, we deliver client-focused service in an authentic, collaborative and transparent manner and with the unmatched knowledge and expertise that comes from decades of experience.

 

 

© Copyright 2019, Windermere Real Estate/Mercer Island. Text originally posted on Windermere.com.

Posted on March 5, 2019 at 11:55 pm
Jennifer Craven | Category: Homeowner Tips | Tagged , , , , , ,

Should I Move or Remodel?

Remodel or Move?

 

There are a number of things that can trigger the decision to remodel or move to a new home. Perhaps you have outgrown your current space, you might be tired of struggling with ancient plumbing or wiring systems, or maybe your home just feels out of date. The question is: Should you stay or should you go? Choosing whether to remodel or move involves looking at a number of factors. Cost vs. value is a big consideration—check out the chart below or click here to view Remodeling Magazine’s full 2019 Cost vs. Value Report showing the cost and resale value of 21 projects in the Seattle area. 

 

Cost vs. Value Chart for Common Remodeling Projects

 

Here are some things to consider when making your decision…

FIVE REASONS TO MOVE:

1. Your current location just isn’t working.

Unruly neighbors, a miserable commute, or a less-than-desirable school district—these are factors you cannot change. If your current location is detracting from your overall quality of life, it’s time to consider moving. If you’re just ready for a change, that’s a good reason, too. Some people are simply tired of their old homes and want to move on.

2. Your home is already one of the nicest in the neighborhood.

Regardless of the improvements you might make, location largely limits the amount of money you can get for your home when you sell. A general rule of thumb for remodeling is to make sure that you don’t over-improve your home for the neighborhood. If your property is already the most valuable house on the block, additional upgrades usually won’t pay off in return on investment at selling time.

3. There is a good chance you will move soon anyway.

If your likelihood of moving in the next two years is high, remodeling probably isn’t your best choice. There’s no reason to go through the hassle and expense of remodeling and not be able to enjoy it. It may be better to move now to get the house you want.

4. You need to make too many improvements to meet your needs.

This is particularly an issue with growing families. What was cozy for a young couple may be totally inadequate when you add small children. Increasing the space to make your home workable may cost more than moving to another house. In addition, lot size, building codes, and neighborhood covenants may restrict what you can do. Once you’ve outlined the remodeling upgrades that you’d like, a real estate agent can help you determine what kind of home you could buy for the same investment.

5. You don’t like remodeling.

Remodeling is disruptive. It may be the inconvenience of loosing the use of a bathroom for a week, or it can mean moving out altogether for a couple of months. Remodeling also requires making a lot of decisions. You have to be able to visualize new walls and floor plans, decide how large you want windows to be, and where to situate doors. Then there is choosing from hundreds of flooring, countertop, and fixture options. Some people love this. If you’re not one of them, it is probably easier to buy a house that has the features you want already in place.

FIVE REASONS TO REMODEL:

1. You love your neighborhood.

You can walk to the park, you have lots of close friends nearby, and the guy at the espresso stand knows you by name. There are features of a neighborhood, whether it’s tree-lined streets or annual community celebrations, that you just can’t re-create somewhere else. If you love where you live, that’s a good reason to stay.

2. You like your current home’s floor plan.

The general layout of your home either works for you or it doesn’t. If you enjoy the configuration and overall feeling of your current home, there’s a good chance it can be turned into a dream home. The combination of special features you really value, such as morning sun or a special view, may be hard to replicate in a new home.

3. You’ve got a great yard.

Yards in older neighborhoods often have features you cannot find in newer developments, including large lots, mature trees, and established landscaping. Even if you find a new home with a large lot, it takes considerable time and expense to create a fully landscaped yard.

4. You can get exactly the home you want.

Remodeling allows you to create a home tailored exactly to your lifestyle. You have control over the look and feel of everything, from the color of the walls to the finish on the cabinets. Consider also that most people who buy a new home spend up to 30 percent of the value of their new house fixing it up the way they want.

5. It may make better financial sense.

In some cases, remodeling might be cheaper than selling. A contractor can give you an estimate of what it would cost to make the improvements you’re considering. A real estate agent can give you prices of comparable homes with those same features. But remember that while remodeling projects add to the value of your home, most don’t fully recover their costs when you sell.

 


ABOUT WINDERMERE MERCER ISLAND

We earn the trust and loyalty of our brokers and clients by doing real estate exceptionally well. The leader in our market, we deliver client-focused service in an authentic, collaborative and transparent manner and with the unmatched knowledge and expertise that comes from decades of experience.

 

 

© Copyright 2019, Windermere Real Estate/Mercer Island. Text originally posted on Windermere.com. Remodeling data © 2019 Hanley Wood Media Inc. Complete data from the Remodeling 2019 Cost vs. Value Report can be downloaded free at www.costvsvalue.com.

Posted on February 6, 2019 at 5:57 pm
Jennifer Craven | Category: Homeowner Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Protect Your Investment: 5 Fall Maintenance To-Do’s

Protect Your Home | Fall To-Do Checklist

Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” While he was talking about fire safety, we think it applies equally well to home maintenance.  One weekend of prevention this fall can save you many headaches (and a lot of money) down the road.  Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Gutters top to bottom: Water in the wrong spots can do a lot of damage. Start by ensuring that gutters and downspouts are doing their job. (You may want to hire a professional, especially if you have a two-story house with a steep roof.) If your home is surrounded by deciduous trees you may need to clean out your gutters a few times a year, especially in the fall. Check to make sure your gutters are flush with the roof and attached securely, repairing any areas that sag or where the water collects and overflows. Clean out the gutters and downspouts, checking that outlet strainers are in good shape, and are firmly in place. Finally, check that your downspouts direct water away from your house, not straight along the foundation.

Check for leaks: The best opportunity to catch leaks is the first heavy rain after a long dry spell. Check the underside of the roof, looking for moisture on joints or insulation. Mark any spots that you find and then hire a roofing specialist to repair these leaks. If you wait until spots show up on your ceiling, insulation and sheet rock will have also been damaged and you could have a mold problem too. You can find tips on how to solve roof & gutter issues in this great article from http://FamilyHandyman.com.

Don’t forget the basement and the caulking around windows & doors. Check your foundation for cracks, erosion and gaps in window and door weathering.  Make sure to properly seal any leaks while the weather is nice. This will ensure materials dry properly.

Pest Prevention: Rodents are determined and opportunistic, and they can do tremendous amounts of property damage (and endanger your family’s health). As temperatures cool, take measures to prevent roof rats and other critters from moving in. Branches that touch your house and overhang your roof are convenient on-ramps for invaders, so trim back branches so they’re at least four feet from the house. If you do hear scuttling overhead or discover rodent droppings in your attic, crawl space or basement, take immediate action. The website http://www.thisoldhouse.com has several helpful articles on the topic.

Maintain your heating and cooling systems: Preventative maintenance is especially crucial for your home’s heating and air-conditioning systems. Fall is a smart time to have your systems checked and tuned up if necessary. Don’t wait for extreme temperatures to arrive, when service companies are slammed with emergency calls. Between tune-ups, keeps your system performing optimally by cleaning and/or replacing air filters as needed.

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, a professional inspection and cleaning will help prevent potentially lethal chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Even if you don’t use your fireplace often, it’s a good idea to keep a supply of dry firewood or sawdust-composite logs so you have a backup heat source in an emergency. Gas fireplaces should be serviced about every 2 years to lengthen their lifespans.

Insulate & seal: Insulating your home is a cost-efficient investment, whether you’re trying to keep the interior warm in the winter or cool in the summer. Aside from more major improvements like energy-efficient windows and insulation, there are some quick fixes that do-it-yourselfers can tackle. If an exterior door doesn’t have a snug seal when closed, replace the weather stripping; self-adhesive foam stripping is much simpler to install than traditional vinyl stripping. If there is a gap under the door (which can happen over time as a house settles), you may need to realign the door and replace the vinyl door bottom and/or door sweep. Air also sneaks inside through electrical outlets and light switches on exterior walls. Dye-cut foam outlet seals placed behind the wall plates are a quick and inexpensive solution.
 

 


ABOUT WINDERMERE MERCER ISLAND

We earn the trust and loyalty of our brokers and clients by doing real estate exceptionally well. The leader in our market, we deliver client-focused service in an authentic, collaborative and transparent manner and with the unmatched knowledge and expertise that comes from decades of experience.

windermeremercerisland.com | (206) 232-0446 | mercerisland@windermere.com
2737 77th Ave SE, Mercer Island, WA 98040.

© Copyright 2018, Windermere Real Estate/Mercer Island.

Posted on August 31, 2018 at 1:26 pm
Jennifer Craven | Category: Homeowner Tips | Tagged , , ,

Outdoor Living Trends for Summer 2018

Outdoor Living Trends for Summer 2018 - Windermere Mercer Island

 

The sun is back and summer is so close you can almost taste the s’mores being toasted around the fire pit…is this the year to spruce up your outdoor spaces? Fun new trends in alfresco design revolve around individuality of lifestyle and a desire to bring the inside out with rooms, furniture and lighting that would all be equally at home indoors. Cheesy, bulky and loud are out–quality, artisan and subtle are in. Here are some ideas to get you started:

 

1. Experiential Design

Newer outdoor concepts centered around the experiences of the owner–such as meditation gardens, outdoor movie screens, fireplaces/fire pits, children’s play spaces, and even life-size chess–are gradually replacing the cookie cutter yards of the past.


2. Chic Lighting

While Charlie Brown string lights have had their days in the sun, new trends are heading toward more sophisticated lighting fixtures. Shaded lamps, artisan and vintage fixtures are good choices for outdoor rooms and patios. We’re also seeing more indirect, low lighting that doesn’t compete with the stars.

 


3. Open Air Rooms

As weather-proof technology and materials improve, more homeowners are creating permanent outdoor living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, and entertaining bars. Mildew-resistant curtains or folding glass doors can enclose the space as needed, while fireplaces or built-in space heaters keep things comfortable year-round.


4. Subtle Neutrals

We’re seeing a transition from bold stripes and colors to a softer palette with neutral tans, greys, greens, and dark blues. More discreet patterns follow the “indoors out” trend.

Photo courtesy of Kerry Joyce Associates.


5. Indoor Quality Furniture

Lighter fine-boned wood furniture with luxe upholstery is usurping those blocky, heavy, dark aluminum and plastic pieces that bake in the sun. Comfort and quality are key, with designer statement chairs and unexpected wicker pieces that are a far cry from your grandma’s wicker.


6. Alternative Flooring Materials

Many homeowners are moving beyond the rug, using new budget-friendly materials such as porcelain pavers or beechwood deck tiles to create a seamless indoor-to-outdoor look.


7. Smart Outdoor Tech

Whether it’s smart sprinklers that use soil moisture and weather data to adjust their water output, quieter & cleaner electric mowers, or 3D imaging programs that help landscapers develop and visualize designs, the world of smart technology is definitely making its way outdoors.

 

 


ABOUT WINDERMERE MERCER ISLAND

We earn the trust and loyalty of our brokers and clients by doing real estate exceptionally well. The leader in our market, we deliver client-focused service in an authentic, collaborative and transparent manner and with the unmatched knowledge and expertise that comes from decades of experience.

©2018, Windermere Real Estate/Mercer Island

Posted on June 4, 2018 at 1:45 pm
Jennifer Craven | Category: Homeowner Tips | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Planning ahead: how tax reform will impact your home deductions next year

2018 Tax Changes for Home Owners

 

While you may still be busy filing your 2017 taxes, it’s important to look ahead and be aware of how the new 2018 tax reform laws will affect next year’s return–especially if you’re a homeowner. Those who itemize will need to note some big changes in what they can and cannot deduct. Many will instead choose to use the new higher standard deduction ($12,000 for single individuals and $24,000 for joint returns) rather than itemizing their deductions.

What can you do now? Check in with your accountant for advice specific to your situation and filing status. Also, you’ll probably want to update your withholding amount to reflect the new deduction amounts. In the meantime, here is the skinny on 5 changes that may affect you if you own a home…

 

1. Mortgage Interest Deduction

The deduction that allows homeowners to reduce their taxable income by the amount of mortgage interest they pay has been scaled back.

  • For loans taken out after 12/14/17, you can now only deduct mortgage interest paid on the first $750,000 of combined debt for primary and secondary residences (or $375,000 if married filing separately).
  • Current loans of up to $1 million are grandfathered and are not subject to the new $750,000 cap if they were taken out before 12/15/17 (or if you entered into your purchase contract prior to 12/15/17 and the sale closed by 1/1/18).
  • You can continue to deduct the interest on grandfathered loans even if you refinance.

 

2. Home Equity Loan Deduction

Under the former tax law, you were able to deduct the interest on up to $100,000 of home equity debt even if the proceeds were used for something other than buying or improving the home (for example, an equity line of credit used to pay college tuition). This is now no longer the case.

  • New 2018 law eliminates the deduction for interest on home equity debt unless it’s used to buy, build, or substantially improve the home that secures the loan.
  • Loans to buy second homes do not qualify for the interest deduction if they’re taken out against the equity of your primary home.

 

3. Deduction for Property & Sales Taxes

Tax relief for homeowners who pay property taxes has also been limited.

  • Itemized deductions for property taxes, sales taxes, state income taxes, and any other local taxes will now be limited to a combined total of $10,000.
  • The combined limit drops to $5,000 if married filing separately.

 

4. Deduction for Moving Expenses

While you used to be able to deduct some moving expenses when you moved for a new job, this deduction has been repealed for everyone except active-duty members of the armed forces.

 

5. Deduction for Casualty Losses

Under former law, substantial losses to your home and personal property through things like fires and robberies could be deducted from your taxable income. Under the new law, this deduction is eliminated for everything except presidential-declared natural disasters.

 

Want to know more?

 

The above article is presented for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional tax advice from your accountant.

Sources:
“The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – What it Means for Homeowners and Real Estate Professionals,” by the National Association of Realtors
“5 Homeownership Changes Coming Under New Tax Law” by NerdWallet
“Tax Reform” by the Internal Revenue Service


ABOUT WINDERMERE MERCER ISLAND

We earn the trust and loyalty of our brokers and clients by doing real estate exceptionally well. The leader in our market, we deliver client-focused service in an authentic, collaborative and transparent manner and with the unmatched knowledge and expertise that comes from decades of experience.

©2018, Windermere Real Estate/Mercer Island

Posted on March 7, 2018 at 10:55 am
Jennifer Craven | Category: Homeowner Tips, Quarterly / Annual Reports, Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,