Top 3 Home Annoyances and What You Can Do About Them

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By Beth Pinsker

When it comes to what makes homeowners stew, lack of closet space tops the list.

Mortgage data research firm ranked homeowners' pet peeves, with lack of storage coming in first at 67 percent.

If you watch home renovation shows on television, you know that just about any problem can be fixed, or you can sell your place and buy a better one.

Here are the three top home annoyances and what can be done about them:

1. Not Enough Storage. Hilary Farr, co-host of the HGTV series "Love It or List It," has an easy, economical fix for small closets: Simply widen the access so you can better see what you are storing.

She advises going slowly and peeling back the wall from inside the closet in case you decide you made a mistake and need to close it back up. "If you go just 2 or 3 feet, it's never a structural issue," she said.

An even easier and cheaper solution? Minimize.

"I would be quite bossy and say the first thing you have to do is see if you need half the stuff you think you don't have room for," Farr said. "Chances are, you don't."

2. Too much maintenance. Get your central air serviced every year for $200 a pop, pay the neighbor kid $20 to shovel snow while you are away on vacation, plunk down $500 for a new dishwasher -- your to-do list could be endless and costly.

Spending across the United States on home improvements and repairs added up to $150 billion in 2013, the last year data was available, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

"Maintenance is curable, but it costs money," says HSH Vice President Keith Gumbinger. An editor on his staff is going through this now with a new house, endlessly painting and fixing, Gumbinger said.

"You think that's fun up front, but after you've painted for the fourth time, the maintenance grates on you after a while," he said.

If you are ready to give up and move on from a money pit, Farr said, you still need to fix anything that is broken before you sell.

"You can't walk away from a house if you discover unsafe wiring, or water coming into basement," she said.

3. Too small. New baby on the way? Have your refrigerator in the dining room? Sometimes you really do have to move to get more space.

Brendon DeSimone, real estate expert for (Z) and an agent in New York, often has clients who say they will make do with less because it is all they can afford right now.

"If you are going to settle on something that's not changeable down the road, you have to know that going in," DeSimone always tells them.

There is only so much that can be done to open up a space.

"Sometimes you have to say, honestly, this will never work," said Farr, who is nonetheless a master at knocking down walls to create open spaces.

Farr is partial to building additions or enclosing exterior porches while adding cohesive flooring and wall colors. When on a tight budget, she avoids table lamps and dark colors.

Lately, she is seeing something of a backlash for open-concept plans, with people asking her to put walls back up. "Everyone wants open concept, but you can't get away from each other," she said.

Her solution has been to put in a wall with pocket-glass doors. "It looks beautiful," Farr said, "and you can close it off when you want to."
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