Gulf Coast Things to Do, Tips & More!

Florida Gulf Coast real estate reports, things to do, buyer and seller tips, home improvement trends and more!

Nov. 11, 2019

So Many Things to Do in Venice, FL!

So Many things to Do and See in and Near Venice, Florida!

Snook Haven

You'll find a little piece of Old Florida at Snook Haven, just off I-75 at River Road in Venice.  Don't be deterred by the dirt road that goes to it (just take it slow!) as you'll find a gem at the end.  Snook Haven is on the Myakka River and you may see an alligator float by but you'll also find live bands, boat trips and kayak rentals.  There is indoor and outdoor dining with a menu featuring bbq, seafood and more.  There's also a bar and plenty of outside seating and entertainment.  You can listen to banjo players on Thursdays and local bands most other days of the week.  Logan River Tours offers boat trips beginning in November.

Venice Pier and Sharkey's Restaurant

Travel through downtown Venice on the island and head south to find Sharkey's on the Pier.  The pier recently went through renovations and is the only Gulf-front fishing pier in Sarasota county.  While you fish, the kids can search for Shark's Teeth in the sand.  Follow-up with a bite to eat, both inside and out or a cool drink at the Tiki bar. There's plenty of rest rooms with showers, a gift shop and ample parking.

Downtown Venice on the Island

On your way to or from Sharkey's, stop at the quaint downtown Venice area to shop for colorful Florida gifts, eat or grab a drink at the Daiquiri Deck.  You can also find ice cream, a free concert at the Gazebo in the park and the Venice Theater nearby.

Pop's Sunset Grill in Nokomis

Just north of Venice on the water you'll find another quaint Old Florida restaurant - Pop's Sunset Grill.  Have a bite and a drink at this indoor/outdoor restaurant and watch the boats go by … or rent one at the marina next door.  They also have outdoor entertainment.  Try their great seafood, three bean salad, gumbo, a burger and more! You can also attend the Drum Circle on Nokomis Beach every Wednesday and Saturday about 2 hours before sunset.

Manasota Key Beach

Just south of Venice is Englewood and the Manasota Key Beach.  Find a beach on both the north and south ends of the Key.  Stop for a drink and lunch or dinner at the Beach Road Bistro, the Waverly or the Sandbar.  You can also find boat, kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals at Hooked on SUP's at Stump Pass Beach State Park in Englewood and explore Lemon Bay. You can also rent two-person fast catamarans or take a guided nature tour at Riding the Waves.

Atlanta Brave's Training at Cool Today Park

2020 will bring the first full Atlanta Brave's Spring Training season to the brand new Cool Today Park at the West Villages in North Port, bordering Venice.  When baseball ends you'll find plenty of other events throughout the year.   

If these weren't enough reasons to visit Venice there are also plenty of new and old communities in the area to look for homes and condos.  Sarasota National Golf and County Club is a huge community surrounded by beautiful wetlands and preserves. You'll also find a resort-style pool with tiki bar, restaurant and spa treatment rooms.  Other communities include the West Villages, Gran Paradiso, Stoneybrook at Venice and the Venice Golf and Country Club.  Check our website for listings in Venice and the rest of the southwest Florida area and contact us with any questions or to schedule a private showing.  We'll help you find and own your Piece of Florida Paradise!

 

Posted in Things To Do
July 5, 2019

Top 10 Beach Towns near Sarasota, FL

The Sarasota, Florida area has 2 Beach Towns in the Top 10!

We are proud to have not 1 but 2 of the Best Beach Towns to live in according to WalletHub!  This 2019 list has Sarasota as #6 and Venice as #10. They were judged on affordability, weather, safety, economy, education, health and quality of life.  Both cities have beaches on the Gulf of Mexico with homes and condos spanning inland to just east of I-75. 

You will find the beaches of Longboat Key, Lido Key, Siesta Key and Casey Key near Sarasota.  In Venice you will find the Venice Municipal Beach along with Caspersen Beach and Brohard Beach which also has a dog park.  Homes, condos and townhouses in both areas run from under $100,000 to luxury homes over $1,000,000.  Most homes will be no further than 30 minutes to the nearest beach and are surrounded with great restaurants, shops, music venues, theaters, malls, marinas and more.  Search for homes in the area at www.FLGulfCoastHomesForSale.com.  Feel free to call us at 941-725-9946 (John) or 941-238-7714 (Leslie) if you have any questions or would like to schedule a private showing.  Let us help you find your Piece of Florida Paradise!

May 21, 2019

Best Upgrades to Your House for Re-Sell

A home has tons of amenities – which do you list first?

 

 

NEW YORK – May 20, 2019 – Homeowners are sometimes hesitant to upgrade when it's time to sell. After all, you won't be living there much longer, and most home remodeling efforts only increase home values by 50%-80% of the average project's costs, according to Remodeling magazine's 2019 Cost vs. Value report. For example, the average cost of a mid-range bathroom remodel is $20,420. You'd recoup about $13,717 (67.2%) of that amount during a resale.

While you may not want to spend the extra cash, the cost of inaction can be far greater than the small loss you'll incur on any home-improvement projects. "Making small upgrades over time serves a seller immensely," says Brian Lewis, a real estate broker with New York City-based realty firm Compass. These don't have to be break-the-bank alterations, either. Even merely keeping the color palette up-to-date will go a long way.

"Getting stuck in time with your home isn't a smart move and is rarely rewarded financially at sale time," he adds. In fact, it may cause your house to linger on the market longer. As a result, you'll likely have to pay ongoing mortgage, maintenance and staging costs. To make the most of your remodeling budget, focus on features that most homebuyers really want to see.

Home features most coveted by today's buyers

Laundry room
Percentage of buyers who want this feature: 91%
Cost to install: $1,000 to $5,000 for a small-scale project

More than anything else, homeowners want a room other than the guest bedroom to stack all the clean laundry in until it finally gets put away. A separate laundry room tops the National Association of Home Builders' (NAHB) list of most-wanted home features by buyers.

"Having a separate room [to use for things such as folding or ironing clothes] helps to keep the mess out of your living space … Potential buyers will see it as a huge benefit," says Paul Sullivan, founder and president of the Sullivan Company, a Newton, Mass., remodeling and custom-building firm.

If you don't have an existing laundry room and want to add one, the basement is usually the easiest (and cheapest) place to put it, Sullivan advises. The utility lines are already there, and in many cases the basement is unfinished, so you won't have to demolish anything first. Adding a laundry room in the basement can cost as little as $1,000, he says.

However, homeowners who prefer a laundry room or laundry closet (which fits just a washer and dryer) closer to the bedroom can expect installation to cost around $5,000, Sullivan notes. The cost of a full laundry room complete with a sink and storage cabinets could easily surpass $10,000, he says.

Energy efficiencies (appliances and windows)
Percentage of buyers who want this feature: 89%
Cost to install: Varies by appliance

Would-be buyers looking to limit utility bills will likely be drawn to properties with energy efficiencies, such as Energy Star-qualified windows and appliances. "Buyers are most impressed with smart, energy-efficient choices that in no way limit their comfort, but in every way save them money in the long run," Compass's Lewis says. Sellers should be sure to play up these features in their home listings.

Energy-efficient windows can trim heating and cooling costs by 12%, while individual appliances, such as an Energy Star-certified washing machine ($528 to $1,800 at Home Depot), can save homeowners $45 a year or more on their utility bills. Replacing an existing clothes dryer with an energy-efficient version could save as much as $245 over the appliance's lifetime.

Energy Star-qualified windows have an invisible glass coating, vacuum-sealed spaces filled with inert gas between panes, sturdier weather stripping than regular windows and improved framing materials – all of which reduce undesirable heat gain and loss in the home. An Energy Star-certified dishwasher (ranging in price from $230 to $1,709 at Home Depot) uses soil sensors to assess how dirty your dishes are to minimize water use.

Patio
Percentage of buyers who want this feature: 87%
Cost to install: $963 per 120 square feet for a concrete patio

It's important for homeowners not to neglect the backyard area when prepping for resale, says Mike McGrew, former treasurer of the National Association of Realtors and CEO of McGrew Real Estate, a Lawrence, Kansas-based realty firm. In today's housing market, outdoor living spaces have become the most coveted outdoor home feature.

"When most buyers see a house with a really nice backyard, they start to envision themselves sitting outdoors with friends having drinks," McGrew adds. Outdoor areas offer more living space without the cost of a large-scale home addition.

Thanks to the popularity of backyard renovation TV shows, such as HGTV's Going Yard, DIY Network's Yard Attack! And Bravo's Backyard Envy, buyers now envision everything from a traditional ground-level patio to an elevated deck to a backyard kitchen area.

Ceiling fan
Percentage of buyers who want this feature: 85%
Cost to install: $466 per fixture with light kit and remote control

In addition to improving a home's aesthetic, energy-efficient ceiling fans (ranging in price from $69 to $1,300 at Lowe's) can also help lower cooling costs when used in conjunction with an air conditioner during the warmer months.

Ceiling fans create a wind-chill effect that helps cool the people sitting in the room. Homeowners should be able to raise the thermostat level by four degrees without a reduction in comfort while the fan is in use, according to Energy.gov.

Energy.gov recommends that ceiling fans only be used in rooms with a ceiling height of at least eight feet. The fans work best at that height and when they're hanging 10 to 12 inches below the ceiling.

Garage storage space
Percentage of buyers who want this feature: 85%
Cost to install: $2,025 - $2,363 for 380 square feet

Buyers with growing families need lots of storage space. Sellers should keep in mind that "streamlined living equates to more dollars in your pocket at sale time," Compass's Lewis says. Carving out some space in your garage to help keep clutter out of the main living area could help your bottom line. "Make sure the bonus space is easily accessible and wonderfully organized," he adds.

Unlike an attic or a backyard shed, the garage is accessible – generally, just a few steps away from the rest of the house – making it easier to transport items such as tools, patio chairs or boxes to and from other parts of the house.

The installation cost includes adding cabinetry and shelving, peg wall boards for tool storage, overhead lighting and additional electrical circuits.

Exterior lighting
Percentage of buyers who want this feature: 85%
Cost to install: $65 per fixture

Illuminating a well-manicured lawn with exterior lighting can help grab potential buyers' attention before they even set foot in the front door. In fact, exterior lighting is the second most-wanted outdoor feature (patio was first), according to the NAHB. Options include spotlights, walkway lights and pendant lights.

Aesthetics aside, exterior lighting also serves as an added safety feature for your home, says Daniel Hurst, owner and general manager of Hurst Design-Build-Remodel, a Middleburg Heights, Ohio-based home remodeling company. Motion-sensor lights, for example, turn on automatically whenever there is movement outside your house.

Walk-in pantry
Percentage of buyers who want this feature: 83%
Cost to install: Varies based on design

Home buyers with families know that the kitchen can quickly become overcrowded when there's not enough space to store the essentials (think: canned goods, condiments and food storage containers). That's why many are including a walk-in pantry on their must-have list for potential homes. In fact, it was the most-wanted kitchen feature among buyers polled in the NAHB's report.

Unlike reach-in closet pantries with sliding doors that offer limited space, walk-in versions allow homeowners to store larger quantities of non-perishable food items and other kitchen essentials just steps away from the food prep area, suggests Neil Parsons, project designer for Move or Improve, a Matawan, N.J.-based home design firm. This can be especially helpful for those who like to shop in bulk at warehouse clubs.

Walk-in pantries are typically 5 x 5 feet and have U-shaped open shelves or cabinets with a countertop. Make sure the pantry is situated somewhere that is cool and dry.

Hardwood floors
Percentage of buyers who want this feature: 83%
Cost to install: $999 per 120 square feet of red oak flooring

Hardwood flooring offers a cleaner look, is easier to maintain and is more durable than carpet, which needs to be replaced every eight to 10 years. "Hardwood can be refinished periodically and lasts a lifetime," Sullivan says.

Sellers on a budget may want to buy engineered wood flooring (which is a hardwood veneer wrapped around several layers of plywood, fiberboard and hardwood). The cost to install 120 square feet of engineered wood flooring is $858 – nearly 15% cheaper than pure hardwood flooring.

Walk-in closet (master bedroom)
Cost to install: Varies based on design

While walk-in closets aren't among the top demands of all homebuyers, they're quickly gaining in popularity among first- and second-time homebuyers, according to a 2018 NAHB survey that focused on new buyers. A walk-in closet in the master bedroom ranked among their top five features.

If you live in an older dwelling with a reach-in closet, you may want to consider revamping it, suggests Maria Zamora, a realtor associate with Realty Consultants Network in Addison, Tex. Couples generally want a closet with more space because they'll be sharing it. Singles desire the flexibility of being able to store their personal belongings – from clothes and shoes to jewelry and other accessories – in one place, while keeping them organized.

"Homes without a walk-in-closet in the master bedroom are more of a challenge to sell and will attract less buyers," Zamora adds.

If you live in an older home with less space, a full closet renovation in the master bedroom may not be practical. However, you still have options that will help make your property more appealing. Update an existing reach-in closet by installing an organization system complete with shelving units and hanging rods for clothes. You can purchase a prefabricated system from Ikea, which range in price from $155 to $2,077. Go the DIY route or have an Ikea professional install the unit for an additional fee.

You can also hire a consultant from a custom closet design firm, such as The Closet Factory, to come to your home and design an organization system that fits your space. The cost will vary based on your requirements.

If you're an empty-nester, you could even turn a nearby smaller room into a custom walk-in closet. Depending on the quality of the materials used (for example, solid wood shelving vs. wooden veneer shelving), this type of project could range in price from $1,000 to $6,500, according to HomeAdvisor.com.

Eat-in kitchen
Cost to install: $1,000 - $10,000

Eat-in kitchens are also a must-have among first- and second-time home buyers. They're especially attractive to families with children. It's a space where they can congregate in the morning for breakfast before the kids head off to school and parents to work, or in the evening for dinner so everyone can share highlights from their day.

Removing a non-load-bearing wall to create space for a small table and chairs in your kitchen is relatively inexpensive (as little as $1,000), but that price can quickly escalate if your demolition reveals plumbing, duct work and electrical wiring that needs to be removed, Move or Improve's Parsons says.

If you're on a tight budget and can't afford to knock out a wall to create more space for a table and chairs, consider adding a center island with room for bar stools, he suggests. You can purchase prefabricated kitchen islands with space for seating at Home Depot (starting at $540) and Lowe's (starting at $464).

Dining room
Cost to install: $1,000 - $6,000 to add ceiling fixtures or structural columns to open floor plan

In recent years, formal dining rooms (and closed floor plans) have taken a backseat to open floor concepts in today's home models. While open floor concepts help maximize space when entertaining, there are still home buyers who desire a separate dining area distinct from the kitchen. In fact, a separate dining room is among the top 10 essentials for first- and second-time home buyers in the NAHB survey.

"A meal in the dining room creates a sense of importance … It makes people feel special, whether it's for holiday gatherings or a quiet sit-down dinner with your family," says Shannon Lynch, a Realtor with Savvy + Co. Real Estate, a Charlotte, N.C.-based realty firm.

If your home has an open floor plan, there are still ways to create a dining space that's distinct and will attract buyers who desire such a feature. You can add an over-the-table lighting fixture or incorporate a tray ceiling to help define a particular area of the main living level – perhaps just off the kitchen. Another option: Install decorative columns instead of a solid wall. Adding the tray ceiling or decorative columns would skew on the higher end of installation costs and includes materials and labor, Parsons notes.

For those with older homes that have a closed floor plan, it may be time to reexamine your dining room. The cost of a small-scale remodel to a 190-square-foot space ranges in price from $5,832 to $6,804, according to HomeWyse.com. This includes installing new flooring, doors, switch plates, decorative hardware and recessed lighting.

Copyright © 2019 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Andrea Browne Taylor, online editor

 

Posted in Home Improvement
May 16, 2019

The Mighty "OAKS"

The Oaks Club in Osprey, Florida

The "Mighty Oak" is a great analogy for the elegant Oaks community and The Oaks Club in Osprey, Florida.  The vision began in 1910 when Bertha Honore Palmer, widow of the multimillionare Potter Palmer acquired 80,000 acres between Sarasota and Venice (now known as Osprey) and built her estate there on Little Sarasota Bay.  In the early 1980's the area was developed into The Oaks community along with a 40,000 sq. ft. elegant clubhouse, 2 championship golf courses, 12 HAR-TRU tennis courts, 3 outstanding restaurants, pool and playground.  

Homes in the community include condominiums, villas, townhouses and single family homes found in 3 gated communities with 2-6 bedrooms and baths from 1,600 to over 8,000 sq. ft. priced from the high $200's to over $4 million.  Residents of the Oak Club community are required to join the club as Equity or Social members.  In addition to golf and tennis, the Club has a very active Social calendar.    

Contact us with any questions and to schedule a private showing!

Jan. 29, 2019

Lakewood Ranch Florida Turns 25!

Lakewood Ranch Florida Celebrates it's 25th Anniversary!

When looking at everything around Lakewood Ranch, it's homes, retail, restaurants, schools, hospitals and more … you wouldn't believe that any of it could be 25 years old - it all still looks so fresh and new!  But the first homes in the inaugural village of Summerfield were sold in 1995.  Lakewood Ranch Boulevard is still the Ranch's most traveled road that passes by Summerfield with it's tree-lined canopy of Live Oaks.  Age has actually improved the looks of these mature trees and the upkeep is impeccable.  Building began in this area in Manatee County as the commissioners in that county were more responsive to the development and permitting east of I-75 than Sarasota County was at that time.  In fact, residential building in the Sarasota County portion of Lakewood Ranch only began in the last few years.

Waterside Place is the newest Village in Lakewood Ranch.  It's 5,000 plus homes will be built on a 30 acre peninsula that will be surrounded by a 360 acre lake.  The Lakehouse Cove community will include 7 lakes with 20 miles of shoreline.  Waterside Place will also include a mix of residential including apartments as well as commercial space, shops, restaurants, outdoor space and entertainment venues including the Players Centre for Performing Arts.  The water aspects will be put to good use by having a marina with electric water taxis, kayaks and canoes.  This will be the 3rd Town Center in Lakewood Ranch and expects to be open in 2020.

Lakewood Ranch has now grown to be the second fastest growing master-planned community in the UNITED STATES! It now has over 13,000 homes, condos and townhomes with over 30,000 residents and commercial sites employing over 14,000.  Everything you need is found in the Ranch including schools, churches, grocery stores, fitness, a post office, sports facilities including a Polo Club and 8 golf courses, a hospital and other medical facilities.  Even though Lakewood Ranch is used by the postal service as a "city", a plan to incorporate it into a city was defeated in 2011 when a debate on how it would provide services such as sanitation and law enforcement were raised.  These services are now provided by the 2 counties.

If you are new to the area or haven't visited Lakewood Ranch yet, visit it's Music on Main fest on the first Friday of every month from 6 - 9 p.m. - but get there early to find parking.  You can also visit Main Street at any other time for a meal, movie, shopping or a late night drink or dessert.  If you'd like to explore living there, search for homes at www.FLGulfcoastHomesForSale.com to find your "Piece of Florida Paradise"!

Dec. 6, 2018

'Tis the Season for Farmer's Markets

It's that time of year again … for Farmer's Markets!

'Tis the season that we all wait for! Six months of the best weather you can find with lower temps and humidity and LOTS of Sunshine! That's why you will find the Farmer's Markets opening up in almost every city in the Bradenton/Sarasota area. Yesterday, Dec. 5th, was the opening day for The Market at Lakewood Ranch. This is the second year for this market and features everything from food to crafts and events for the whole family ... and dogs are allowed! You will find it every Wednesday until April 24th from 3 - 7 p.m. at the Sarasota Polo Club - 8201 Polo Club Lane in Lakewood Ranch. Call 941-556-8300 for more info.

The Sarasota Farmer's Market is open all year round in downtown Sarasota. It runs from 7 a.m. until 1:00 every Saturday. Along with the fresh produce you will also find live plants, artisans, food and beverage vendors, music and more! While you are there visit the many stores and restaurants along Main Street. Call 941-225-9256 for more information or to become a vendor at the market.

Bradenton's Farmers Market runs from Oct. through May on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in downtown Bradenton. Chefs demo their recipes as farmers sell their produce. Find them at Old Main Street (12th St. W) between Manatee Ave. and Third Ave. West. More info can be found at www.RealizeBradenton.com

Move to the Beaches and you will find the Beach Market at Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island on both Wednesdays (Dec. 19 - May 22) and Sundays (Nov. - July) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There's not a better place to walk along the beachfront to find produce, arts & crafts, live music and food vendors. There's also plenty of parking at 2650 Gulf Drive S., Bradenton Beach.

The Anna Maria Farmer's Market is found a little farther north on the Island from mid-Oct. to mid-May on Tuesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is found near the City Pier Park on Pine Ave. and North Bay Blvd. Along with produce you will also find fresh herbs, juices, honey and more. Find more info at www.CityOfAnnaMaria.com.

On the famous beaches of Siesta Key you will find their Farmer's Market on Sundays from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Their vendors include candle makers, pottery, jellies, art, olive oil, breads and more. Find them at 5104 Ocean Blvd.

South of Sarasota in Englewood you will find 2 Farmer's Markets. One is on downtown's Dearborn St. at 348 W. Dearborn. It is open on Thursdays year-round from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. They market organic produce, pies, artisan cheeses, olives and more. Find more info at www.DearbornStreetMarket.com.

The Englewood Farmer's Market is found on the same days and times as the Dearborn St. Market from Oct. through May. It is found in the 300 block of Dearborn St. and vendors come from around the state. More information can be found at www.EnglewoodFarmersMarket.org.

You can visit these local Farmer's Markets 5 days a week so plan a visit to all over the next several months to see what they have to offer!

 

Posted in Things To Do
Sept. 17, 2018

New Construction Contracts

Buying a pre-construction home: Do you have to close?

 

 

 

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Sept. 14, 2018 – Question: Several years ago, we signed a contract with a developer to purchase a new construction condo. After several delays, they finally told us we had to close in just 10 days. When we went to look at our new home, we found it to be very different from the floor plan in the brochure. Do we have to close? – Anne

 

Answer: Purchasing a new home pre-construction can be a great way to get all the designs, colors and features you want and to make the perfect home for your family in a trendy new community. For these reasons, along with a slick marketing team, these properties are usually in high demand. This, more than the wealth and experience of the developers, puts the buyers at a competitive disadvantage when negotiating the sales contract.

 

Having reviewed hundreds of these contracts, I have found them to usually be extremely one-sided, allowing the seller to plan changes and delay while requiring the buyer to close on the purchase on very short notice. With these contracts, even more than most, make sure to read and understand all the fine print and decide if you can live with the terms before signing and putting your large deposit into escrow.

 

Most of these contracts will allow the builder to delay for a variety of reasons and will even allow it to deviate from the floor plan and specifications under certain circumstances. Look at the floor plan you were provided, and you will likely find small print advising that the plans were for illustrative purposes only and are subject to change. This is what you agree to when you sign the contract.

 

I have seen many people purchase, own and love their new construction home. I am not telling you to avoid these deals, just to know exactly what you are getting into.

 

The seller, just like you, is bound by what the contract says and can be held responsible for its breach. The relevant laws rely on full disclosure, so if developers hide something or outright lie, they can be held to task.

 

To answer your question, you will need to review what you agreed to in the contract carefully. If the developer did not hide anything and lived up to the contract – taking into consideration the exceptions, fine print and all – then you will need to move forward or lose your deposit.

 

However, if it failed to live up to its promises, you should find a good attorney to hold them accountable.

 

About the writer: Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation.

 

Copyright © 2018 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Gary M. Singer. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

Aug. 1, 2018

What to Know about Replacing your A/C

Installing a New A/C System

Even though I grew up without air conditioning in both Florida and Illinois, I now could not imagine life without it.  Like any equipment, they need to be maintained and eventually replaced.  Typical air conditioning systems last for 10 years in Florida.  We were lucky to nurse ours along another 5 years but once the conditioning coil started "raining" inside the area underneath it instead of the condensation flowing properly outside, it was time for a new one.  We were lucky that the original duct-work and vents could handle a new system but it is still a big expense.  The average cost of installing a new a/c and heating unit is $3,000 - $7,000.  We hit the mid-range at $5,500.  As with any big expense, always get at least three quotes from reputable companies and ask about what the price includes and the warranty.  All of our quotes included a 10 year manufacture's warranty and the company that we chose included a 2-year free annual service, while others were only for 1 year.  

Residential units are usually available with 1.5 to 5 ton capacities which is measured by the amount of heat that they can remove from your home in one hour.  Bigger is not always better.  Too large of a unit will cycle on and off too often and waste energy.  Too small of a unit will run constantly and not cool efficiently.  A/C systems also have a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating.  As of January 2006, a minimum rating of 13 SEER is required and will increase the efficiency of older units by up to 30%.  Your contractor should discuss the different ratings, pricing and which is best for your home.

Even when choosing to replace our unit with the same brand that we had for 15 years, we found that the size of the outside condensing units were now much larger than in the past and now are required to be bolted down to their pads according to the latest hurricane codes.  Be sure to ask about this when getting quotes from each company to see if your current concrete pad is large enough for the new unit.  If it's not, they may try to put down a pre-formed larger pad on top of your current pad on the day of the installation.  We did not want that, for the looks alone so we had them pour the additional concrete needed adjacent to our current pad.  We were not happy that they had to do that at the last minute and in the rain as opposed to measuring it and having it done prior to the installation so have this conversation with them before the installation is scheduled.  We were also told that they would be installing a new thermostat inside of our home with the installation.  Even though that sounded like a good idea, the thermostat that they installed was much smaller than the previous one that they took off, leaving holes and needed repainting and didn't have the same features that we had grown accustom to.  So have that discussion with the salesperson also to make sure that you get what you want or replace it yourself.

Make sure that the company will also deal with the permitting for you.  They should open a permit with your city or county, request the inspection once the unit is installed and the fees should be included in your installation contract.  Having their work inspected is usually required and in your best interest.  Our county inspector found that the area that they attached the new pipes to in the garage ceiling was not up to code so the installer had to come back and fix it to code and send a photo to the inspector for approval.  As the home owner, make sure that the work is permitted and that the permit is closed in a timely manner.  As Realtors, we often find that work was not permitted or the permit had expired and was never closed.  That creates problems and additional fees when you try to sell your home and at that time, you may be the one responsible for taking care of it, not the contractor.  The upside to all of this is that we have cool air when we need it the most AND our first electric bill after the new installation was $37 lower than the previous month! 

 

Posted in Home Improvement
Aug. 1, 2018

More to do at the Beach than swim!

Find Shark Teeth at Venice Beach, Florida!

Southwest Florida beaches are known for so many reasons, white quartz sands at Siesta Beach, sea shells at Sanibel, fishing piers on Anna Maria Island … but I only know of one beach in the area known for it's shark teeth and that's Venice Beach!  In fact, it is known as the "Shark Tooth Capital of the World".  There are many methods of finding the teeth.  The easiest is to just sit on the beach and let the waves bring them in.  If that doesn't work, use a beach sifter to dig in the sand. Scoop up the sand and let it filter through and hope that it leaves a shark tooth or two behind.  Since staying dry on the beach doesn't sound like that much fun, bring your snorkel gear and get in the water.  Be the first to see what the waves bring in and pluck up the prize.  The best time to find them is at low tide.

Of course there is more to Venice Beach than just shark teeth.  The parking is free, lifeguards are on duty, there are sand volleyball courts, picnic areas and boardwalks.  Sarasota County Area Transport (SCAT) buses service the area, too.  To top it off there are plenty of restaurants nearby (tho they may be a short drive away) in downtown Venice and Sharky's On the Pier is right on the water. Make sure to visit the annual Shark's Tooth Festival every April! Find the beach at 101 Esplanade on the west end of Venice Avenue.

Posted in Things To Do
July 22, 2018

"Old Florida" Beaches of Southwest Florida

"Old Florida" Beaches near Sarasota, FL

Everyone knows about the famous Siesta Key Beach with it's white-powder sand and even the well-known beaches of Anna Maria Island just north of Siesta Key, but residents and vacationers of the southwest Florida area may like to find the less crowded beaches in the area.  

Nokomis Beach on Casey Key

Just south of Sarasota and north of Venice is the island of Casey Key.  It is known for some famous home owners such as Stephen King but it also has a beach that is less well-known.  Nokomis Beach is the oldest public beach in Sarasota county with 14 miles of white sand.  Unlike other nearby beaches it is NOT surrounded by high-rises, only residential homes . It has an "Old Florida" feel to it with free parking, restrooms, picnic facilities, fishing pier and a boat ramp and canoe launch.  What it does have in common with Siesta Key Beach is it's Sunset Drum Circle.  Twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays music lovers gather an hour before sunset to dance and make or just listen to the music.  Take some time out of your busy day to unwind with your toes in the sand and a drink in your hand!  The beach is found at 201 S. Casey Key Road and more information can be found at http://www.nokomisbeachflorida.com/index.html.

Turtle Beach and Campground on Siesta Key

Turtle Beach is on the southern end of Siesta Key and feels like an "Old Florida" beach that is a world away from the crowds and white-powder sands of Siesta Key Beach.  Turtle Beach also has a campground which was established in 1921 and is now run by Sarasota County.  It has 39 camp sites that can be used by tent or RV campers.  Each site has a picnic table and full hookup with electrical, water and sewer assess along with free wi-fi. The camp sites are on a bed of crushed shell and shaded by Australian Pines.  There is an onsite camp host, restrooms with hot showers, coin-operated laundry machines and beverage vending.

Nearby is direct access to the Turtle Beach on the Gulf of Mexico.  There is also a kayak launch, playground, horseshoe pits, grills and fishing.   Kayakers and paddleboarders have the choice of launching on the Gulf of Mexico or the Intercoastal waters.  If you want to venture over to the more populated portion of Siesta Key you can take a free, open-air trolley from Turtle Beach to Siesta Beach and Siesta Key Village where you will find shopping, restaurants and bars.  More information for the campgrounds can be found by calling 941-861-2267 or at www.turtlebeachcampground.com. 

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