Spackling the stairwell leading to the master bedroom.

Spackling isn’t much fun but we’re almost finished with it.

Spackle, water, sponges and spackle knives plus plastic sheeting for the floor.


A Greek Revival Home Built in 1856 for $210,000

I stumbled upon this old, historic fixer-upper for sale in Clinton, NC. It’s been on the market for a while and was recently reduced to $210,000.
It’s known as the Allmond Holmes House. Built in 1856, it’s on 1-acre of land with three other structures on the property (original smoke house and 2 guest houses).
The architectual details are beautiful. However, the home needs a lot of TLC/rehab work. For the right person, in the right situation, it might be a good deal.
How much money would need to be spent to restore it? When doing a major renovation/rebuild/rehab, the owner cannot exceed the ceiling for the neighborhood/location/geographic area. If they do, the owner will never get their money back.
As we all know, home renovation is rife with hidden expenses. It’s usually all the little things that weren’t thought about that add up. It happens to everybody, and it’s OK, as long as you’re in the right location.
As they say, “Location, location, location.”
Check out the porch!

Warren Buffett Bought His Laguna Beach Home for $150,000

In 1971, billionaire and philanthropist, Warren Buffett, spent $150,000 for his Laguna Beach, CA vacation home. (The median and average sales price of a new home sold in the US in 1971 was between $24,000 to $26,000.)

His wife liked the house so he bought it without thinking of its investment potential. At the time, the area was underdeveloped. In the ensuing years, home values skyrocketed into the millions.

Photo Credit: Todd Tankersley

Built in 1936, the 3,588-square-foot house was recently put on the market 25 days ago for $11 million.

Located at 27 Emerald Bay, the six-bedroom/7 bath corner lot home is steps from the beach. Ocean views can be seen from most of the rooms.

Home Features

-Five of the six bedrooms have en-suite baths

-Two bedrooms have private entrances (great for guests)!

-Ocean viewing deck is separate from main house

-1 Car garage with access to house

-Separate 1 car garage

Bill Dolby is the listing agent at Villa Real Estate in Newport Beach, CA

Photo Credit: Todd Tankersley


6 Questions for a Fire Pit Kit Expert!

Note: I was NOT compensated in any way for this blog post.

One day (in the near future) we plan to have a few Adirondack chairs surrounding a beautiful, round granite fire pit. Our backyard is spacious so I’m thinking about having several designated hang-out areas along with a large garden and pathways.

Not only is a fire pit a focal point of an outdoor entertainment area but it’s also a great conversation starter when guests come over for a fun and casual evening. And, of course, the best part about a fire pit is that it’s a project almost anybody can handle.

I perused fire pit kits on the Internet and stumbled upon Pennsylvania-based budding co. I contacted the company with a few questions about DIY fire pit installation. Hoyt responded with a few tips on what is needed to successfully install your own fire pit.

This 48-inch granite fire pit design is a favorite of mine. Photo: budding co.

An e-mail interview with Hoyt:

Sue: What is the average time it takes a homeowner to install a fire pit?
Hoyt: Fire pits differ in installation time. Our granite fire pit is very simple to assemble. Each course is 10 pieces and they are stacked on top of each other. The masonry block fire pits take longer because they are heavier and require a stone or paver base.  Fire pit kits that require the most time are natural stone units due to their unique pieces it’s much like putting together a jigsaw puzzle.
Sue: What tools are needed?
Hoyt: The tools need are a – tamper, shovel, gloves, optional adhesive glue – some people like to glue them in place.
Sue: In addition to the kit, do they need to purchase any additional material to set it up?
Hoyt: The base needs to be on a flat level surface. For the heavier fire pits make sure to tamp down with 4 inches of 2A modified stone or try installing a paver circle kit. This requires more work but ads to the overall look.
Sue: Do some towns require a permit for a fire pit?
Hoyt: Some towns, especially in California, require a permit to burn. Check with your local municipality before burning.
Sue: We have natural gas where we live and would like a fire pit hooked up to it. Can we do this with one of your kits?
Hoyt: Many people find they want the ease of burning with gas. Gas fire pits can be installed in any of our fire pit kits. Propane can also be installed in the kits. A professional will be required to install the gas line.
Sue: Lastly, what is the price range of your fire pit kits?
Hoyt: Fire pits start in the low $200’s and go up to $1000 depending if you want wood or gas + outdoor kitchen. Some customers choose to have an outdoor kitchen with a pizza masonry oven in conjunction with their fire pit.

Watch a quick video here.

A 42″ square granite fire pit. Photo: budding co.

Fire pits add ambiance to any outdoor living space. Of course, fire pit safety should be at the top of a homeowner’s list when selecting a site on your property. First, check with your local zoning office about the required distance between your home and the fire pit (including distance from neighboring homes/property lines). The fire pit spot selected must be level.

A fire pit for the patio. Photo: budding co.

Safety Tips: Never operate a fire pit beneath a building overhang or any sort of enclosed space. Be careful of sparks and overhanging trees. In fire-prone areas such as California, surround your fire pit with non-combustible materials–pavers, brick, crushed-stone, flagstone or even sand.

Photo: budding co.

According to the American Society of Landscape Architects, fire pits, or outdoor fireplaces, are the No. 1 requested design feature today.