6 Ways to Convert Your Garage Into More Living Space - Guest Post by Houzz on RealBird

In a recent Ideabook we addressed the need for some of us to accommodate our "boomerang" children and aging parents. In that piece we addressed converting attics and basements into more living space in a home. There are, however, some houses that don't have basements (for example, homes in Florida) or where the attic can't be converted to living space for a variety of reasons (the roof pitch may be too shallow to allow for adequate head room). But there are many houses with either attached or detached garages, and these garages can be turned to very nice living areas. In fact, there are 1940s and 1950s-era houses with single-car garages that beckon to be transformed into something livable. Whether you'd like an extra bedroom, home office, music room, craft room, playroom or some other living space, these garages can be ideal candidates. As with any such project, you'll want to make sure that the converted garage will have enough light and space, comply with local ordinances and building codes as well as be warm in winter and cool in summer. As always, consult with a qualified professional before undertaking such a project. Related: Find an Award-Winning Architect Near You

Modern-kitchen-2
 

1. The floor. A converted garage is made into a bright and spacious living space. The new concrete floor is raised above street level to keep water out of the interior.

More often than not, the existing garage floor concrete slab is sloped, cracked and quite a bit lower than the house floor. So converting a garage to living space usually requires installing a new floor structure. There are several options for doing this. One is to build up a wood framed floor that aligns with the floor in the main house. Another is to install a wood framed or concrete floor that is a step or two down from the main house (as in the sketch above). An advantage to installing a concrete “topping slab” over the existing floor is that a radiant heating system can be installed within the concrete.

2. The opening. When converting a garage to livable space, there's always the issue of what to do with the garage door opening. Because this opening and the garage doors have such a large impact on the overall look of the house, it makes sense to fill the opening with a large-scale element. For example, a good solution is to keep a garage door in the opening while making sure the door is weather tight. This is the approach taken in the next photo.

Standard carriage-style garage doors are also good options, as they can be a featured element on the interior while maintaining the original garage look on the exterior.

Another approach is to have large windows or doors fill the opening. Something like these large folding glass doors can be a good option provided there’s a fit with the overall aesthetics of the exterior. Related: When and Why to Use Pocket Doors

3. Windows. Additional windows will more than likely have to be installed, as garages typically have few, if any, windows. It's important to check and comply with any local building codes and ordinances when sizing and locating these new windows.

4. Additional plumbing. Adding a kitchen or bathroom to a garage conversion can be difficult because tying into the existing plumbing lines is problematic. That’s not to say it shouldn’t be done as, say, an additional bathroom is always a nice amenity to have. So investigating ways (such as building up the floor to provide a space for plumbing pipes) to overcome the technical difficulties is well worth doing.

Some reworking of the exterior walls with full-height glass windows and doors leaves no trace of the original garage space in this conversion.

This master suite with a new bathroom occupies what was once a large garage. The addition of a the gas fireplace certainly makes the room special. And having the bathroom adjacent to the bedroom makes for a nice master or guest suite.

5. Ceiling height. Though the type of framing used at the garage roof will dictate what can be done economically, increasing the height of the ceiling is a possibility if the garage is free standing or has no second floor above it. A vaulted ceiling, as in the next photo, will certainly add to the room's overall spaciousness.

A converted garage keeps the vaulted ceiling for spaciousness while various architectural elements such as the ridge beam increase the room's character.

6. Temperature control. And don't forget that the new living area will need to be heated and cooled. Depending on the size of the area and its location, you may not be able to use the existing "central" heating and cooling system. Mini split systems can be good options if this is the case. This post was written by Bud Dietrich AIA, Houzz and posted by RealBird with permission.


The Most Important Tool for Rental Marketing on Open Listing Markets Is...

 

Open Rental Listings Marketing

The most important tool for rental marketing on open listing markets is the one that let you capture the leads contact information at the first interaction. Our recent post on Homes By SMS explains the value of lead capture early in the process with SMS text code marketing, and how it is crucial with open rental listings, where many can represent a property and compete for the business.

You can read the full post and get started on that blog, but here is a quick overviews:

Homes By SMS allows you to provide access to your home search application (rental searches in this particular use case) via text messaging. The main benefit for you is that you capture the lead at the very beginning of the search process, at the first interaction; and for your prospective clients the option provides a convenient way to easily start their search by simply texting (at places where that's the most convenient interaction)

In open listing rental markets, having access to lead information including name, email, demographics via the advanced caller ID option can be the difference between lead turned into a client and lead being lost.

Homes By SMS can integrate with the different RealBird search options (IDX, national search etc.) but it can be also set up to work with your existing search engine and application. We'll have more post about one of our recent custom search integrations, but you can get started with Homes By SMS with one of the many search engines it already supports.

-- The RealBird Team


10 Pro Tips for Home Photography That Makes an Impression - Guest Post by Houzz

So much living happens in a home that we can easily forget its beauty and character outside of daily routines. The house is nearly living too, as history and relationships are encoded in the personal world that those who live there have created. In photographing our homes, we’re invited to view the familiar with fresh eyes and capture the dynamics of our environment. We can observe color and texture, light and shadow, the flow of spaces and the way that people move, feel and express themselves in them to capture meaningful and lasting impressions. Whatever camera you’re using, you can take beautiful and compelling images that reflect the spirit and nature of your home and life. Here are 10 tips to help you take your photos to the next level. Related: Get More Pro Tips from Nearby Home Staging Companies

1. Read the light. Observe how the light changes in different rooms over the day and into the night. Highlights draw the eye, and shadows can reveal depth and dimension, but if either is too dominant, you might be missing details that are desirable. Adjust the blinds or curtains; look at the effect of lights on and off. Experiment with the camera’s settings to find an exposure and a look that feel good for you. Try mixed light sources — cool/warm, sunlight/tungsten or sunlight/flash. So much is possible, and there is no right or wrong.

2. Experiment with composition. Experiment with wider shots and closer shots. Look from a different angle. Consider visual harmonies and curiosities in color, lines and texture. Can you vary the focus to bring attention to different aspects? Depending on your objectives, you may settle on a consistent look and tone, or choose to vary it.

3. Move! Don’t be afraid to move around the space and subject to see things differently — crouch, lean, perch, lie down, stand closer or farther away. Think big, small and sideways.

4. Look through to a room and see around it. For a more documentary feel, try looking from outside the space you’re photographing — for instance, from a hallway or through a window. This can yield interesting results, creating frames within frames and greater dimensionality. Related: Top Strategies for Arranging Living Room Furniture

5. Don’t be a slave to symmetry. The mind naturally prefers symmetrical images, in which the elements are even and in balance. However, consciously working against symmetry or offsetting it, particularly in medium-distance or closer shots, can be interesting and bring more of your way of seeing to the home and pictures.

6. Think about image resolution. Consider what you would like the images to do. Do you want to print them? Frame or publish? Are they only for electronic and social media? The higher the initial photo resolution, the more options you will have for better image quality across a variety of media.

7. Consider the environment and people. What surrounds a subject in a photograph can express a lot about them; it is a kind of dialogue. Think about how the immediate environment or location relates to the person you’re photographing and what kind of background and detail would be most meaningful (or entertaining).

8. Create ease with portraits. One of the lovely aspects of photographing people in their own home is the familiarity they feel in their surroundings. Nevertheless, not everyone is comfortable with a camera fixed on them. Encouraging your subjects to talk about something of interest (camera in hand) can help minimize their self-consciousness in the case of a posed portrait. Often the more natural, personal moments come when someone’s attention is elsewhere for a moment. Be ready to capture those moments.

9. Observe things as they happen. Photographing people engaged in activities, movements or interactions can produce the most candid and telling portraits and stories. Whether people are working, playing, cooking or socializing, the stuff of daily life is rich and revealing. For greater depth and complexity, you can vary your perspectives to tell more of a story with a mix of wider establishing shots, observational portraits and closer shots and “cutaways” of particular details: a glass in the hand, vegetables being chopped, the fire burning brightly.

10. Remember the pets. If you have them, you already know: Animals are as much a part of the life in a home as people. It’s not easy to “direct” your pets, but you have a personal relationship with them and the benefit of their trust. And you know their routines and favorite places. There are many natural scenes between pets and people in the course of each day. And if your dog or cat (or pig or ferret) wanders unexpectedly through the frame, go with it. They are a part of it all. Related: Bring Nature into Your Photos With a Birdhouse

The post was written by Niobe Syme, Houzz and posted by RealBird with permission


Automate your social media and RealBird listing marketing with Missinglettr

One of the main challenges of social media marketing is keeping up with sharing and re-sharing of your content that you created on an ongoing basis. The attention span of your potential clients on social media are extremely limited (just think of how much time you spend on a single shared item of someone else). The amount of content in the firehose of social media channels is also overwhelming, hence, a key to social media marketing success is to re-share content consistently with enough mix to keep shares unique and proper frequency so that you don't alienate your readers.

Enter missinglettr 

Missinglettr

missinglettr takes your blogs and RSS feeds, monitors them 24/7 and creates campaigns out of the items that's been posted. A campaign is a set of future shares, scheduled a year in advance. Once a campaign is approved by you, the rest is taking care of by missinglettr automatically.

The service is more than just a time saver! The problem with the time consuming requirement of resharing content, is that most people (us included) will give up after a few times. It's not just the time it takes, it's the fact that without missinglettr or similar services, you have to manually manage the sharing calendar and sharing content for each of your posts, while being busy generating new content AND actually taking care of your real estate business (which is the objective of all of this, after all). In most cases, people just skip resharing the content on an ongoing basis hence reducing their social media marketing effectiveness big time.

We'll write more about missinglettr and how to use their service. Below are some of the ways you can utilize them right away !

Add your RealBird Listing Feed to missinglettr and market each listing ongoing, automatically

This is pretty neat, this is how it works:

  1. RealBird PRO provides your own RSS feed of your listings. (You can find it in the member area, under the Listings Widget tab, under the RSS section).
  2. Just copy this RealBird RSS link and add it to your missinglettr account as a new site.
  3. They will then create a year-long campaign for each of your current listings on RealBird, and a new campaign every time when you publish a new listing in the future
  4. When you sell a property, just update its status to Sold on RealBird and the service will continue to promote it completely automated, linking to the by then sold property site.

Add your Wordpress or Active blog to missinglettr

Just like with listing marketing, consistent re-sharing of your blog posts you worked so hard on is crucial for delivering lasting traffic to your content. You can just copy the regular Url of your Wordpress site or your ActiveRain blogs RSS link (e.g. our is at http://activerain.com/blogs/realbird/rss) and missinglettr will create yearly campaign for your articles. 

We hope you like this new service as much as we do.  

 -- The RealBird Team

Full disclosure: we are an affiliate of missinglettr and we may profit if you sign up with them. 

 


Wordpress Nearby Homes Map Plugin Updated

The RealBird Nearby Homes For Sale Wordpress plugin has been updated (version 0.9.9). This update mainly consists of bug fixes and full support of Wordpress sites that run on secure protocols (SSL/HTTPS). Thanks John for reporting the SSL issue

You can download the updated plugin and docs in the RealBird member area.

RealBird Nearby Homes For Sale Wordpress Plugin

The plugin is available for real estate agents and brokers with RealBird PRO and RealBird IDX. The RealBird PRO version has nationwide coverage in the USA (with data sourced from Oodle's database), and the IDX version is available in the SF Bay Area (BAREIS, EBRD, Calrets/MLSListings).

Should you have questions, please let us know.

-- The RealBird Team
www.RealBird.com