Are You Ready for a Remodel? – There Should Be No Horror Stories

There comes a time when every home will need to be remodeled. A renovation project may be as ambitious as a whole house makeover or as simple as refurbishing a small bathroom. An experienced remodeling contractor can work with you to bring your plans to life, no matter the size of your renovation project. Today’s post is about why a remodeling contractor can add value and make your remodeling project run smoothly.


You may consider yourself a handy person and skilled with tools, but if you are not careful, you could make some very costly mistakes. You’ll end up in the middle of a project you don’t have the skills to complete or if you are able to finish it you’ll be dissatisfied with the final result. If you’re a fan of home remodeling programs, you know how easy they make it seem but it’s really not that simple.


During any renovation job there’s a lot of complicated paperwork. A lot of people don’t know the first thing about building permits and endless codes that must be followed.  However, a skilled remodeling professional will know exactly what permits and licenses will be necessary for your project.


A remodeling professional is more than a person that can handle a miter saw and nail gun. A skilled designer can help you develop your remodeling plans and work with you to solve any potential problems. Your remodeling professional can bring in any expert subcontractors as needed and make sure all the materials and services are delivered on time and within budget.


For home remodeling projects, it can be a difficult experience to do everything by yourself. You don’t want to start a project only to regret it. A remodeling professional can make your home remodeling job a success by providing the expertise you need to get the job done right.



Ilona Lindauer, CGB, CKD, is a General Contractor and President at IKB Design & Construction in downtown Los Altos for over 20 years.

She can be reached at 650 941 4384 or at

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Building Trust with a House Cleaning Service

When people think about working with a house cleaning service, one crucial factor is trust.  People are bringing a professional team into their homes.  They want to work with a service they know and trust.

What are some of the ways that you can develop that kind of trust in a house cleaning service?  One thing to look for is a house cleaning service that is “bonded.”  ”Bonded” services are those that have what is in essence insurance to pay for claims in the event something goes wrong.  For example, it offers protection against accidental property damage or dishonesty.  Bonding shows that the service has backing and it provides assurances that the service will stand behind its cleaning professionals.  Bonding is something you can ask about when you first meet a cleaning service representative.

Another factor to keep in mind is the house cleaning service taking on the responsibility of acting as the employer of the cleaning professionals.  If you hire someone directly as a maid, you would have all the responsibilities of an employer.  A house cleaning service can take on that responsibility for you and pay the withholdings of the cleaning professionals to the government. Withholdings and taxes are another topic you can ask about when considering a service.

Reliability is another key.  You want a service that will provide cleaning professionals on the dates you set, and the professionals should show up on time.  You want a service that can deliver timely and regular service over time.  Checking references can give you some idea of whether or not a service is reliable.

Building trust also draws on your impressions on meeting with a representative of the service.  Do you feel comfortable working with the representative?  Do you think you can have a productive working relationship?  Do you think you can work out details and issues as the work is done?  These are questions you can answer by meeting and getting to know the representative.

In the end, trust is something you build with a house cleaning service over time.  Bonding, having the service take on the employer role, and checking references help build initial trust.  But over time, as a service provides regular, professional, and on-time cleaning, it will create a track record of services delivery that will build a foundation of lasting trust.

Ann Sullivan is president of Dial-A-Maid service.  She can be reached at (408) 737-1741 or e-mail her at   The website is You can see what Dial-A-Maid offers and the different prices depending how much time is needed in the home.

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Los Altos Real Estate – A Real Estate Party

The invitation to participate in this real estate market has been circulating for a couple of years. Buyers came to the party in full force in 2012. Sales prices have increased 11% in Los Altos and 14% in Los Altos Hills for 2012. Will 2013 see the sellers come? Inventory is the lowest I’ve ever seen and if supply and demand are forces striving for balance, then sellers should be coming to the party. Just as there was pent up demand for buyers waiting for the best time to come back into the market (2012), that pent up demand for sellers has been just as strong. Sellers weren’t ready to down size when the national news was only negative. Since October the national news has reported a housing recovery and sellers are starting to look at the few sales in their neighborhoods and if they are in Silicon Valley they are shocked by the increase in prices. The lack of new construction for single family homes and the increase in employment in Silicon Valley, combined with low interest rates, has created a party atmosphere that sellers should be enticed to join. I predict the sellers are going to find this party too good to miss.

Carol Sangster, Los Altos Realtor

Carol Sangster, Realtor

Carol Sangster
Real Estate Agent
Alain Pinel Realtors

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Los Altos Real Estate News – March 2012

picture of beautiful los altos californiaI can’t believe I’m actual writing positive news about the real estate market. There has been a deluge of negative information the past few years. Many have chosen to tune out the market because the news has been so depressing. I am upbeat about real estate in 2012 for the Bay Area. Here are a few reasons why.

First of all we have jobs in this area. The tech industry is strong and fortunately many of these companies are based in the Bay Area. Secondly we have record low interest rates. The average 30 year fixed mortgage rates have been below 4%. Also, the market has stabilized to some extent with an improved economy and finally, first time homebuyers are coming into the market competing with investors.The only complaint I have is that the inventory is too low.

Homeowners have been reluctant to put their properties on the market with all the negative news. As they see the bidding wars in their neighborhoods, that may soon change. It is not uncommon to see multiple offers on properties in key areas. The Peninsula has historically been a desirable market for buyers with reasonable commutes and top rated schools. Now that buyers are back it is getting competitive.

The numbers are starting to look better. Los Altos’ average home prices are up 8% over 4th quarter of 2010 and up 3% in Los Altos Hills. Santa Clara County has stayed flat in the same period. I am cautious about the real estate market but there is reason to feel optimistic, finally.

tips-carol-sangsterCarol Sangster is a realtor with Alain Pinel Realtors in Los Altos.  She can be reached via email at or by phone at (650) 254-5255.

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