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Increase Home Value Through Curb Appeal

Increase Home Value Through Curb Appeal

Increase Home Value Through Curb Appeal

As Realtors, our makeovers usually consist of an update and beautification of the outside of the building or home. For example, we paint, landscape, change out hardware (garage door handles, light fixtures, window screens, etc.) and stage when needed. We decide on a case to case basis which makeovers to do, depending on the state of the property at hand. If a property is old, shabby, or we believe it could be sold for more once improved, we improve it. The National property screamed for help because it was very dated, needed painting, and it’s landscaping was an overgrown unattractive jungle of a mess. Creating great curb appeal is simple and shouldn’t cost too much money. We always have a budget in mind, which comes from our seller. For $10,000 we can usually get everything done.

For the National property, our design choices were inspired by more modern buildings with a contemporary feeling to them. Our sellers were open to color and fresh ideas, so we used that to our advantage. The building was a big square block type, so in order to make it look more homey and appealing, we used warm colors (greens, olives, creams, and orange) in the paint and really popped it out with lots of colorful flowers in the landscaping. In the end, the building looked like a very distant cousin of it’s old self and was truly beautiful.

The biggest challenge on this project was picking the paint colors. The sellers really wanted something bold and outspoken, like blue and purple, and we had to get them to acknowledge that the general public doesn’t find blue and purple attractive on a building, and we should use more trendy colors. Property styles change in fashion like clothes and one has to follow trends closely in order to stay in the game. Stacey and I decided to compromise and give them their bold color by including a fabulous orange for the door colors. Other than that, it was smooth sailing.

All the work, with the exception of the design, was professional. Stacey and I are Realtors, not painters. We contract out whatever needs to be done to our trusted group of people. We have a man for every job. Stacey and I choose paint colors, flowers, and communicate how the general look and feel of the building should be, and the professionals take it from there. Of course, a homeowner can tackle whatever they feel competent at and do it themselves, if they choose to. For example, if someone is an avid gardener and really wants to get into the landscaping job, by all means go for it. However, this can slow the process and end up being more expensive.

We learn something from every project. From the National property, we learned that an array of color in the flower landscaping can change the whole face and feel of the building. Many people stick with green plants because it’s easy, but color in the garden is spectacularly beautiful and most everyone appreciates it.

If you want to increase your home’s value, you should be able to do so significantly for $10,000 or less. Make it look pretty on the outside. Remember that old saying about first impressions? It applies to homes and properties as well. The outside of your property is the first thing a potential buyer sees when stepping out of their car or walking by, so impress them with fabulous paint, meticulous pride-of-ownership, and beautiful landscaping!

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Double Glazing Properties for Energy Green Homes

Double Glazing Properties for Energy Green Homes

Double Glazing Properties for Energy Green Homes

Many people prefer to buy an older house rather than a new build. Older houses tend to have more character when compared to new builds and they are often built to a much higher standard. Older houses were built to last, new builds just seem to be built to look nice and sell fast… and then fall apart!

However, these older properties usually need some updating and TLC. It’s not often you’ll find an older house that needs no work done to it but this is part of the attraction. Unfortunately many of these old houses are less than efficient when it comes to keeping warm! They were built in a time of open fires and outside toilets… People were just generally a hardier bunch back then!

Fitting double glazing is a priority for old houses that don’t have this already fitted and as such this is one of the first home improvements you should carry out. Make sure you plan ahead and estimate the cost of fitting double glazing before you buy! Keep in mind that you will want the new windows to match the style of the house, modern meets classic can look great if it’s done well but is an eyesore if it’s not!

The house may already have double glazing but you should still have a look at the energy performance certificate to make sure that it’s up to todays standards. There are huge savings to be made by fitting energy efficient windows. This could be a saving of hundreds each year!

Sometimes you won’t be able to or want fit double glazing due to various considerations such as the listed status of the building or not being able to find suitable windows that match the look of the house.

Many people choose to fit a secondary glazing instead.

If possible you should consider fitting double glazing as this is a more efficient way to keep the heat in, however if the building is listed you may not have that option. It should be easy enough to find double glazing that matches the style of your property, many manufacturers are aware of this need and produce glazing to suit all styles and eras.

If you are on a budget then just do the windows that matter the most, this could be the front of the house if you’re just looking to sell or maybe the most frequently used rooms if this is going to be your home.

So be sure to shop around and you should be able to find windows that not only look great but also perform well.

There is growing concern over the use and consumption of energy sources. The cost of electricity and oil continue to rise every year. It became necessary to find ways how to use energy efficiently. The Energy Star initiative came into existence with this goal in mind. This initiative has several aims including the manufacturing and use of energy efficient products, protecting the environment by utilizing energy efficient practices and save money on electricity.

Every year the costs of electricity and petrol continue to rise. People are consuming energy more than ever. This has been a growing concern for quite some time and there is a need to employ energy efficient practices today. Because of this need, the Energy Star initiative was born.

The Energy Star initiative is a program of the U. S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The program has several goals that include protecting the environment by using energy efficiently and through green practices, minimize the emission of greenhouse gas and other pollutants through wasteful use of energy and encouraging consumers to buy products that save energy.

Although the initiative has not eradicated the problem of energy waste, it did create standards that a number of industries now follow, including manufacturers of lighting equipment, computer hardware and household appliances. Industry players acknowledge that more consumers are going green and look for the Energy Star label whenever they shop for electronic goods or look for energy efficient homes.

Energy Star products are certified by the U.S. Department of Energy and the EPA. These products have passed strict guidelines that ensure that they save on energy consumption without sacrificing its efficiency, features and comfort. Today, there are numerous Energy Star products available in the market. These include appliances, battery products, building products, computers, electronics, heating and cooling systems, lighting equipment and plumbing equipment. These products are clearly marked with the Energy Star label and their energy guide ratings show the usual usage in kW per year.

Sometimes, products with the Energy Star label are more expensive than the ones without. However, people do not mind this because the amount of money they invest on the Energy Star product, they can get back on what they save on their electric bill.

Aside from purchasing Energy Star products, people can also apply the Energy Star initiative in home improvement. Energy Star has tools that can help in assessing a household’s energy consumption such as the Home Energy Yardstick and the Home Energy Advisor.

Energy Star also gives tips on sealing and insulating because they know that this is the most cost effective way in improving the energy efficiency of a household. Included in these tips are covering air leaks, increase insulation to keep the house warm in the winter and cool during summer and installing Energy Star windows.

Energy Star also advises people how to cool and heat a home efficiently. They found out that a huge portion of a household’s energy consumption goes into cooling and heating. Among their recommendations include changing the air filter regularly, have regular maintenance checks on the cooling and heating equipment, sealing the cooling and heating ducts and setting up a programmable thermostat.

Owning an Energy Star home can have a lot of benefits. One, it saves as much as 20% on the household electric bill which can translate to saving money on maintenance costs. Energy Star homes also have consistent temperatures and are well-insulated. Moreover, these homes aid in lessening air pollution and help save the environment.

Post written by Robert Kirk who works as an SEO adviser Roofing Company Aqua Protection who are a roof coatings company based in Scotland. The company offer a range of services including roof coatings, wall coatings, roof cleaning and more.

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Kitchen Remodeling Ideas For Your Home

Kitchen Remodeling Ideas For Your Home

Kitchen Remodeling Ideas For Your Home

Choosing the right kitchen floor materials when remodeling is often a challenging task. There are many options from which to select today. Some homeowners stick with classic vinyl and linoleum floor designs, while others return to an earlier tradition of hardwoods. Even with these options, there are still more modern options to select from including green designs, ceramic tile, and laminate wood flooring.
Hardwood Flooring: Solid or Engineered

Hardwood flooring in a kitchen can bring warmth and a lifetime of durability.

Solid Hardwood – this kitchen flooring can be sanded and refinished over several generations of use. One of the characteristics of solid wood flooring is that it expands and contracts with changes in your home’s relative humidity. Solid wood can be installed in any kitchen, except for one in a basement. Maple, beech, birch, and pecan hardwood flooring has three grades:

First – best appearance, natural colors, and limited marks.
Second – discreet markings and colors.
Third – rustic appearance with nail, knot, and markings.

A tip when choosing solid hardwood is to select beveled edge planks, because these edges add a more casual feel.

Engineered Wood – this kitchen flooring is manmade and is manufactured by binding together wood strands, particles, fibers, or veneers of wood together with adhesives to form composite materials.

Tip – when selecting engineered wood, check the thickness of the veneer or wear layer. Thicker veneer or wear layers have the ability to be refinished.
Laminate Flooring: Durability and Designed to Do It Yourself

This kitchen flooring material is exceptionally stain resistant, requiring little routine care and maintenance. The introduction of glueless laminates has opened the door for those who like to do it yourself.

Laminate Flooring – is a representation of real hardwood with excellent durability. This flooring material is easier to install and maintain than hardwoods. The flooring is available in a large selection of styles and designs. Each wood species displays its own unique characteristics, each lending itself to a different design aspect. Laminate flooring can be laid over existing flooring materials that are in good condition.

Tip – laminate flooring is ideal for a homeowner who wants to do it yourself and is a good weekend home remodeling project.
Ceramic Tile: Stain Resistant and Durable

This kitchen flooring material is easily customized by using specific colors and patterns. Although ceramic tile is easy to clean, grout lines are difficult to maintain.

Ceramic Tile Flooring – this flooring material tile does not fade, absorb odors, burn, and is resistant to stain. When selecting a tile, homeowners should always consider slip resistance characteristics, especially in a kitchen where water and spills are common.

Ceramic tile categories for kitchens are:

P.E.I 3 – medium heavy areas
P.E.I 4 – heavy traffic areas

Tip – install ceramic tile flooring using large tiles to reduce the number of grout lines that are difficult to keep clean.
Green Kitchen: Flooring that is Environmental Friendly

Green living is sweeping the country as people become more environmentally friendly, which also includes the type of flooring materials they select for their kitchens.

Bamboo Flooring – this kitchen flooring has earth friendly properties and is an acceptable flooring material. Bamboo is an engineered flooring material manufactured by binding together bamboo wood strands, particles, and fibers together with glue.

Tip – remove this material from its boxes and expose the bamboo flooring to kitchen conditions for several days prior to installation to avoid shrinkage.

Cork Flooring – this kitchen flooring originated in Europe over 300 years ago and is known for its durability. This flooring is available in solid tiles or as engineered flooring. The resiliency of cork makes the flooring highly scratch and dent resistant, along with being stain resistant.

Tip – when choosing this material, select cork flooring that has a 100 percent natural wax finish. This wax has not been diluted with oil or water.
Vinyl Flooring: Economical and Budget Minded

Although quite durable and easily maintained, plastic vinyl flooring does not have a good reputation. This poor status is primarily due to its non-quality material appearance. However, vinyl is making a comeback as the flooring industry introduces more modern styles and designs that fit well in contemporary and modern kitchens.

Tip – when installing kitchen vinyl flooring leave an eighth of an inch gap between the vinyl and the wall, so that the plastic flooring has room to expand.

For most homeowners remodeling a kitchen floor the focus is on appearance, durability, comfort, and a good return on investment. This focus is based on the fact that today’s kitchens are typically bigger, more open, and the most heavily trafficked area in a home. Kitchens are also often the center of entertaining and a favorite family gathering spot.

Homeowners looking for green flooring options for their home, as well as homeowners restoring an older home may want to consider a pine floor. Available in narrow or wide plank flooring, new or reclaimed wood, pine floors have choices for homeowners looking for authentic, durable hardwood floors.
Types of Pine Floors Available

There are several types and categories of pine floors available on the market today. Those who are looking at green flooring options can choose from two types of reclaimed wood flooring in pine.

River reclaimed pine flooring is heartwood which has never been used in a floor setting before. Trees that were felled for lumber and shipped via river drives occasionally did not make it to the saw mill, sinking to the bottom of the river instead. The logs lay there until fairly recently, when they were reclaimed and fashioned in hardwood floor planks.

River reclaimed pine floors have a patina that is not available in other floors, as the pine has been soaking for years at the bottoms of rivers. River reclaimed pine floors are not available in abundant supply, which helps drive their desirability.

Reclaimed heartwood pine floors are old pine planks reclaimed from old farmhouses and office buildings. Sanded and refinished, these wide plank floor boards are made almost entirely of heartwood, and are extremely durable. Reclaimed flooring makes an attractive green flooring option for some homeowners, as these floors are given a second life with no new trees felled for the purpose.

New pine floors are available in heartwood, heartwood and sapwood mixtures and vertical cut planks. The more sapwood mixed into the wood planks, the more knots and character the floors will have, while vertical cut planks are much harder and more durable, making them ideal for high traffic areas of the home.

Pine floor boards are typically available in wide planks, although vertical cut planks and high sap wood content planks are available in 4” widths as well. This helps give pine floors additional versatility, making them perfect for any room of the home.
Characteristics of Pine Floors

In addition to character and history, pine floors can add a unique beauty to the home. Wide plank floors, when highly polished have less interruption between the planks, giving them a high gloss finish that enriches the floor. Installed in the traditional fashion, these planks will show their nail holes as well as knots and the rings from the trees they were taken from. No two floors laid with pine flooring, therefore can ever be quite the same.
Maintenance and Care of Pine Floors

While pine floors are durable, having been used in farmhouses and New Englander style homes for centuries, they are among the softer hardwoods. Heavy use or traffic over pine floors can wear away at their surface and finish, sometimes in an uneven manner. Therefore pine floors may require refinishing on a regular basis to help maintain their beauty.

To extend the life of the finish of a pine floor, use gentle cleaning detergents and a soft cloth to avoid scratching the floor or etching the finish. Avoid household cleansers with lemon or other acids to avoid eating into the finish of the floor.

Pine floors have a rich beauty and history. Whether installing reclaimed floor planks, or new hardwood floors, pine will give a rich, unique look to any room of the house. Consider the use of a pine floor for green flooring, or restoration needs and bring beauty and history to the home.

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Moving Your House Or Renovating It in A Recession

Moving Your House Or Renovating It in A Recession

Moving Your House Or Renovating It in A Recession

There are many home decorating tips which can be used during a recession to effectively help maximise the potential of your home whilst keeping a tight reign on your expenditure. With a little `know how` you can rejuvenate your living space, credit crunch your style cobwebs and achieve a fantastic home makeover whilst budgeting and saving money along the way.

Clear the clutter! Make your mantra `Out with the old and in with the new`! You will be amazed at how much better your house will look when you get rid of all the clutter and nik naks that time (and style) forgot and go for a minimalist approach. However, do not throw your old stuff away, as in a recession you need to save money every step of the way, so….

Accessorise on a budget! Put your old stuff up for sale on EBay, or do a car boot sale. Whilst you are at it you may be able to pick up some fantastic bargains for yourself and you new stylish home. If even EBay is out of budget then try sites like Free cycle, where you literally can get something for nothing (however, it is best to respect the gods of Karma and offer up something on there yourself!).
If you have a little cash, make it go a long way by bargain hunting in `pound stores`. You can often find great accessories for rooms, such as small mirrors or canvas art, which when carefully placed in multiples of three upon the wall, go from drab to fab!

Paint is your new BFF! Paint is an inexpensive way to refresh every and any room! A splash of colour on an accent wall can revolutionise the dullest of rooms. A light colour can lift a room, magnolia can freshen and is great as a base upon which to build, red can add drama and blue can evoke feelings of peace and tranquillity. Do not be afraid to experiment and to use stencils or different paint effects to achieve different looks.

Great lighting can do as much for a room as a new lick of paint. Open up windows and allow as much natural light as possible into your rooms. Remember tip one and de-clutter window spaces. If you have limited natural light sources then fake it by adding artificial floor, wall and table lighting. Adding a dimmer switch is a budget friendly way to create ambiance and bring a whole new look to a room.

Spice up the old! Cannot afford new curtains? Dye the old ones! Rearrange furniture, move a rug to a different room, check under carpets for wooden floors, paint old chairs, varnish old tables… Use your imagination to salvage, reclaim, reuse and rejuvenate!

You have decided that your home feels cramped and you need more space. You also want a better kitchen and you’ve had it with the lilac bathroom fixtures which are nearly four decades old and showing it.

Still, you love your garden and your home’s location. The school is nearby and your kids have their friends in the neighbourhood. It’s a real dilemma. Do you but another home, or do you renovate?

Not so many years ago, people generally sold a house when they became tired of it or found it no longer suited their lifestyle. But today, with construction and land costs so high, more and more people are taking a look at their existing home and deciding to transform it into the home of their dreams. By renovating, they get a different house without ever changing their address.

To move or renovate – what’s right for you?

Begin by considering how you feel about your current home’s location. Does it meet your needs? Can you picture yourself continuing to live there for many more years?

Once you have decided you want to stay in the area, look for homes in your neighbourhood that are larger or have already been renovated. Would any of these suit the lifestyle you now want? If so, what are they worth and how do they compare to your home’s current value. Your best help in this area will come from a local REALTOR.

Once you have a rough idea of what it will cost to purchase the kind of home you want and what your current house is worth, you will have an idea of what it will cost you to move. Don’t forget to include real estate, legal and other fees for selling and buying, as well as moving expenses, when you are comparing the costs of renovating and moving.

You may find there is no significant difference between the cost of renovating and the cost of selling and buyer a larger, already remodeled home in the same neighbourhood.

Renovating has a lot of advantages. You avoid the stress and inconvenience of moving, especially if it’s to a different neighbourhood. You get to remodel your home the way you want it, not the way someone else has chosen. You get to choose the materials and colours that suit you. And you have the advantage of renovating as much or as little as you want.

Remodeling has its share of disadvantages as well. You have to chose the right contractor. If you make a bad choice, the result could turn a dream into a nightmare. Ask friends, colleagues and relatives to recommend names. Knock on the door of a renovation project you like and ask about the contractor. Get at least three to submit estimates.

Once a renovation is underway, be prepared for some inconveniences. If the project is extensive, you may have to move out of your home for several weeks until much of the major work is completed. Also be prepared for extra costs. If you decide you would rather have hardwood flooring instead of the vinyl you were originally quoted on, be prepared to pay more money.

The total renovation cost is a big factor in deciding whether to go ahead or sell and buy elsewhere. Renovation prices vary considerably, so do your homework. In making your decision, be sure to consider the kind of renovation you require. A second-storey addition, for instance, will cost less per square foot than a rear addition which requires a foundation. Renovations to the actual house can also be quite costly per square foot; that’s because you have to consider the cost of taking the house apart, disposing of materials and installing new parts and materials.

Despite the inconveniences, renovation can be a worthwhile project, especially if it gives you the house you want at the price you can afford.

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Getting Your Home Ready For Spring

Getting Your Home Ready For Spring

Getting Your Home Ready For Spring

It’s finally spring and you may be wondering what to do with the bleak, brown space called a yard. Beautifying your yard can not only be satisfying, but well-placed shrubs, trees, flowering plants and an attractive lawn can increase your property’s value.

Avid gardeners may already have been out with their hoes, planting seeds that can handle a nip of frost. Fresh greens such as lettuce, chard and spinach are plants worth taking a gamble on. But now that the long weekend has passed, you can go ahead with your planting without much risk to your garden.

To start, though, you have several things you need to get out of the way.

Begin by taking a reality check. Did you clean up, cut down, rake leaves, compost and generally tidy things up before the first snow? If not, you’ll have to do it now.

Even if you didn’t spend hours this past winter planning your garden on paper and ordering plants and seeds, there’s still time to do all the research needed to make it a success. Go to your local library or book store and pick up some books and magazines to help you visualize what you want.

Think of your yard as a cluster of “outdoor rooms”: some for enjoying sunshine, others for growing vegetables and others for appreciating the beauty of flowers, shrubs, trees and foliage plants.

Flower and vegetable beds need a lot of thought and planning, especially if you want continual colour or growth from spring through fall. You may have to plant more than one kind of annual or vegetable in a particular location to accomplish this.

You’ll also have to consider other factors such as sun, shade, heat, reflected light, winds and soil conditions.

Garden centres and nurseries get mobbed in spring, so be prepared before you get there. Start a shopping list of the seeds, bedding plants and shrubs you are going to need to get your yard in gear.

When to start

Because spring weather is so variable, it’s often difficult to know when the soil is ready to receive seeds and transplants. A good rule of thumb is to check other outdoor plants for clues. When spring bulbs and crocuses come into bloom, the soil is usually warm enough to start digging. The ground should also be thawed enough to divide and more perennial flowers and herbs, plant shrubs and trees and to start rejuvenating your lawn. It’s also a good time to prune back bushes and trees and begin insect management strategies. However, much still depends on the weather and how dry the soil is.

Understanding and improving your soil

Flowering plants and vegetable gardens required good soil drainage. How well your garden soil drains depends on its composition. Clay soils tend to drain slowly while sandy ones drain rapidly. Both can be improved with the addition of large quantities of organic matter such as peat moss, compost and leaf mould.

In addition to its physical makeup, soil can also be classified as acid, alkaline or neutral. This is also referred to as its pH content. High acidity or high alkalinity can be harmful to plants. Materials such as lime can be added to decrease soil acidity. Soil or peat moss is added to decrease soil alkalinity.

To test the pH of your soil, you can purchase a do-it-yourself kit or send a sample to a laboratory that will test the soil for you. Even if your soil turns out to be infertile, stony or poorly drained, you can still grow flowers and vegetables. Just build framed, raised beds and fill them with enriched soil.

Get digging

Digging an established garden is fairly easy as long as the soil is the right consistency. To determine if your soil is dry enough to work, squeeze a handful into a ball and drop it from shoulder height. If it shatters, the soil is dry enough. If the soil is too dry to form a ball, moisten it before digging.

As a general rule, garden soil should consist of about one-third organic matter. Apply three to six inches of peat moss or other organic material over the existing soil. Then till or spade all materials thoroughly to a depth of eight to 12 inches. You can single dig or double dig. Double digging is more work – you dig a trench in the soil to the depth of your spade, then dig down further with a garden fork to loosen the soil below. Plants with deep root systems respond better to double dug soil.

Prepare the soil a couple of weeks before you plan to start planting. Leave the prepared soil beds idle for about 10 days to allow any weeds time to germinate. Remove weeds before sowing or transplanting the area.

Time to plant

If you are planting seeds directly outdoors, make sure you don’t place them too deep in the soil. Many seeds need exposure to light to germinate. If the plants don’t tolerate frost well at the seedling state, ensure that all danger of frost has passed.

Plants grown indoors may go into shock if not hardened property before being transported to the garden. This process takes about 10 days. Start by putting the plants outdoors for an hour or two during the hottest part of the day and gradually increase their exposure. Water transplants before you plant them and once or twice every day.

Bedding plants can be purchased at garden centres or nurseries should already be hardened. Always look for stocky, compact plants that have a healthy green colour. Avoid tall, lanky specimens that have yellow leaves and appear to be stretched. These are already in stress. Never judge a plant by its height. Quality transplants are short with thick stems and have side branches close to the base.

Taking care to get the right plants and planting them properly will give you a garden space you can enjoy well into the fall. So happy gardening!

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Burglar Proof Your House With These Measures For Your Home

Burglar Proof Your House With These Measures For Your Home

Burglar Proof Your House With These Measures For Your Home

Unless you turn your home into Fort Knox, opportunities will always exist for burglaries and break-ins. No home is absolutely burglar-proof, or even fire-proof. But there are measures you can take to protect your family and your valuables.

Whether you are going on an extended vacation or simply leaving your home unattended for a couple of hours, do so with peace of mind by taking the following precautions.

Be aware

In about the time it takes to read this sentence, someone can burglarize your home. Be aware that break-ins can happen anywhere, anytime. Don’t wait until it happens to you or your next door neighbour.

Install an alarm system

Research has shown that homes with some form of alarm system are 15 times less likely to be broken into. In addition, homeowners with alarm systems can often get security-related discounts on their home insurance premiums.

It is important to understand what these systems can and can’t do. They work best when other precautions to prevent break-ins are taken, as even the most sophisticated electronic system can give false alarms, by by-passed by an expert or be worthless if they aren’t activated.

Check out a number of systems to determine which is best-suited for your home -one that protects boundaries, one that detects motion, one that is monitored centrally or hooked up to a police switchboard, or one that offers a combination of these features. Most homeowners should aim for a system that doesn’t necessarily catch the burglar in the act, but helps prevent major losses and damage and is easy to maintain.

Think like a burglar

Occupied homes are rarely ransacked. Burglars often stake out homes before they break in and avoid homes that look occupied all the time, prominently display alarm system decals or where occupants come and go at unpredictable times.

Your average burglar will target homes with windows and doors that are easy to break or enter, especially if they are camouflaged by overgrown shrubbery, high hedges, other landscaping or low lighting. Most will try to ensure no one is home before they enter. The true professional is the best equipped, least common and tends to hit only very expensive homes in affluent areas. This burglar is a pro at disabling alarm systems and breaking in whether the home is occupied or not. Fast and efficient, this thief does minimum damage and concentrates on lightweight objects of value.

Take these precautions:

Make your home look occupied at all times. Put lights, a radio and the television on timers.
If you are away for more than a day, arrange for someone to pick up your mail, clean the snow or cut the lawn. Ask a friend or neighbour to park their car in your driveway.
When you leave for an extended period, have someone re-set the times in your home periodically so that they activate at different times.
If you use a telephone answering machine or service, never reveal your name, whereabouts or any other personal information on the recorded message. Say simply that you can’t come to the phone right now.
Trim any shrubs or bushes near windows and doors. These may increase your privacy, but they make ideal hiding places for burglars. se outdoor sensor lights to illuminate the property and any possible hiding places.
Secure all exterior doors and windows. A burglar can kick in a weak door. Locks should be good quality deadbolts. All windows should have some form of anti-slide lock, especially if they are located near ground level.
Do not leave any ladders outside and ensure that any stored in the garage cannot be accessed by burglars. Keep your garage door locked.
Put some signs on windows and doors warning of a guard dog, high voltage, alarm system, no large amounts of cash or valuables inside. These warnings don’t have to be true. The idea is to get the burglar to reconsider the risk.
Remove any large, decorative outdoor signs with your family name on them. These invite burglars to look up your telephone number and see if you are home.
Keep large amounts of cash and jewelry in a safety deposit box at a bank. Don’t hide these in your home, thinking a burglar will never guess the spot. Never underestimate a burglar.
Make your valuables harder for thieves to sell and easier for police to find by engraving all your valuables with some sort of code or identification.

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Getting Your Home Ready for Winter This Year

Getting Your Home Ready for Winter This Year

Getting Your Home Ready for Winter This Year

Getting your home ready for the big chill now will save you time and money once winter sets in, especially if you are unprepared and problems arise.

A pre-winter maintenance involves checking both the exterior and interior of your home for any potential problems or areas in need of repair.

Heating system
Unless you really know what you are doing, get your heating system professionally inspected, adjusted and cleaned. This includes having your chimney or furnace vent inspected for any obstructions. A poorly maintained heating system not only uses energy less efficiently, it can break down, catch fire or become the source of carbon monoxide during heating months.

Ensure you have carbon monoxide detectors properly installed in all sleeping areas, and inspect these regularly to ensure they are working properly. Also have a ready supply of furnace filters on hand so you can change them regularly – usually once a month.

Keep the area around your furnace free of dust and clutter. If your furnace has a built-in humidifier, ensure it is clean and well-maintained. Replace any old pads, trays or other parts.

Windows, doors, baseboards
Check all weather seals on exterior doors and windows and replace any worn ones as necessary. Weather-stripping products generally last only a few years. Also check for draft problems around the interior of windows, doors and baseboards.

Light a match. If the flame moves or blows out, you have a draft problem. Use silicone caulking around doors and windows and spray foam for filling larger drafty cavities such as pipe outlets. As a temporary measure, you can apply clear plastic film over a window to stop drafts and prevent frost build-up. But these windows should be properly repaired or replaced.

Attics and basements
Since hot air rises, most heat loss occurs through your roof. Even if your attic is well-insulated, it may not necessarily be well-sealed. Insulation is designed to slow down heat loss rather than stop air flow.

Begin by sealing the gaps that lead from your living areas to your attic. These gaps serve as escape routes for heated air. Some accommodate wiring and pipes, while others are the result of bad craftsmanship and/or the normal settling of a structure.

A well-sealed attic, however, will not prevent winter moisture problems if your home has insufficient vents or these are not in good condition. A well-insulated home still needs good ventilation.

Heat loss can also occur through your basement if it is not well-insulated and subject to moisture buildup. You can control a damp basement by waterproofing the walls, installing a window exhaust fan, venting your clothes dryer to the outdoors and wrapping cold-water pipes with an insulation product.

Eaves, gutters
Clear leaves and debris from all eaves troughs, downspouts, drains and gutters. Flush with water. Make sure all downspouts are draining properly. Any obstruction can lead to ice build-up, which can cause more damage.

Siding, trim, foundation
Patch and seal open cracks. Paint any exterior surfaces in need of painting. Paint peeling off wood often means there is moisture in the wood. Purchase products at your local building supply store to help dry the wood before painting. Seal any openings where animals may take refuge. Close vents of unheated crawl spaces.

Root, shingles, flashing
Check your roof or hire someone to check it for you. Instead of risking life and limb to inspect it, first try to get a close view with binoculars. All shingles, flashings and the caulking on flashings should be in good shape. Check your attic for water spots and other signs of leakage, such as pinpoints of light on a bright day. Even if your roof leaks, it may not need to be replaced if it is less than 15 years old. Most holes in roofing or flashing can be easily patched.

Cover exterior AC units
Use an appropriate cover or winterized plastic to protect your outdoor air conditioning or window fan unit to stop drafts and heat loss.

Install a programmable thermostat
A programmable thermostat can cut your heating bill with every Celsius degree you lower the setting. If you have air conditioning, it also lowers your cooling bills. To ensure your water pipes don’t freeze and burst, don’t turn your thermostat below 14C. With air conditioning, don’t go below 24C – you save by turning your thermostat up.

Check the fireplace
A lot of household heat escapes right up your fireplace chimney, even when not in use. Check the flue damper to see it fits snugly and is closed when not in use. Consider installing tight-fitting glass doors to control airflow.

If you use your fireplace regularly over the winter months, clean or hire a chimney sweep to dean your chimney before you start using it again. Removing any obstruction or build-up will ensure your fireplace operates problem-free through the winter.

Wrap your pipes
You can avoid burst pipes by wrapping foam tubing around them and taping it in place. Most tubing comes pre-slit for easy installation. Water pipe heat cables can also be purchased; they can keep water flowing at temperatures as low as -40C.

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Maintenance Of Your Unit For Indoor Aircon Filters

There are always things that need to be worked on or required on your home. This is the time of year when you really see what happens to your home when you have not taken care of certain things.

It’s all about home maintenance.

After the winter has had its way with your home, it always looks dirty and you always find damaged things.

This is also the time of year when most people take an inventory of what needs to be done and also start to plan larger projects and renovations. This is when you see damaged roof shingles, or split fence boards, or the deck boards are broken, and now you see why the cold wind was blowing around the windows and doors.

apr11 01 Maintenance Items and IssuesAll of these little items need to be addressed and looked after, because if you don’t repair them, they can become much larger problems. If you don’t repair and/or paint the window, you will need to replace it when it rots. Or the small opening in the siding will let rain into the wall and you will get water damage and mold problems. Does the eaves- trough still flow in one direction? Is the down spout clogged with last years leaves?

One area that most people miss is the HVAC equipment. Does the air filter need cleaning and/or replacement? When was the last time the HRV was serviced? Does the furnace and fan motor still run smoothly? Is the a/c unit ready to go for another summer? It can be very expensive to replace these pieces of equipment; and also you can greatly extend their service life with regular check ups and cleanings.

One thing to consider is to ask your renovation contractor to do a condition survey of your home. That way you can have a professional look at things to ensure you have not missed something. You can also discuss your immediate needs, future wishes and then plan for the completion of the various repair and renovation items in a systematic fashion.

Some of the rules of thumb I have heard are that you should invest between 2% and 5% of your homes value a year in your home for maintenance. That way you know your home will be in good condition and you will protect your investment in your home. If you don’t spend some time and/or money in your home, you could be in for a nasty surprise one day. As it was said in the commercial “you can pay me now, or you can pay me later”.

When it comes to breathing in healthy air, and keeping asthma and breathing problems at bay, furnace filters and AC filters are much more important than you think. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air is two to five times more polluted than outdoor air. This article will help you make informed decisions as to the replacement of your furnace filters and air conditioner filters and how to care for them.

True or false: AC filters and/or furnace filters need to be changed every month.

True. You should be changing your filter every month, especially if you have allergies or asthma. By changing your air conditioner filter monthly, you’ll prevent dirt from contaminating the system, thus extending the life of your system. Many filters have the ability to provide relief for allergy and asthma sufferers because they trap mold, pet dander, pollen, bacteria, and many airborne particles.

Simply changing your air conditioner filters or furnace filters once a month is not enough to ensure healthy, clean air. You should also have your air conditioning and/or furnace unit serviced by a licensed Air Conditioning/Furnace Contractor at least once a year.

True or false: You can only purchase HEPA Air Filters.

False. There are many types of air conditioner filters and furnace filters to choose from. They work as air cleaner filters and vary in level of efficiency, design, and quality. There is no “best” air conditioner or furnace filter, as there are positive and negative characteristics to each. It’s important to research the different types of filters and find one that suits your individual needs. The type of AC filters and/or furnace filters available include:

Electrostatic Air Filters;
Pre Cut Media Air Filter Pads;
Pleated Air Filters;
Activated Carbon Air Filters;
Fiberglass Panel Filters; and
HEPA Air Filters.

True or false: The brand names are important when it comes to air conditioning filters and furnace filters.

False. Actually, brands have little, if any, importance at all when it comes to home air filters. The brands of most AC filters and furnace filters are interchangeable.

True or false: When shopping for a replacement air conditioning filter or furnace filter, you need to know the exact size of the filter.

True. In fact, you need to know the exact length, width, and thickness, as the dimensions are usually not exact. If you have an unusual size, most online suppliers offer custom sizing.

True or false: All furnaces have a filter.

False. If you have a warm air furnace then you have an air filter. If you have a boiler or radiator, chances are, you most likely do not have an air filter.

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Plan for Interior Design Remodeling For Energy Efficient Home Renovation Projects

Plan for Interior Design Remodeling For Energy Efficient Home Renovation Projects

Plan for Interior Design Remodeling For Energy Efficient Home Renovation Projects

One of the most satisfying projects one can undertake is interior design remodeling. We all like to be masters of our living space whether at home or at the office and designing your space is a great way to flex control and creativity. While designing may seem easy, the actual steps involved can be a little involved. It all boils down to planning.

While hiring a professional interior designers is a choice for many, there are many more who decide to take on the project themselves. While there are many benefits to a professional, those who choose to do it themselves swear that the flexibility and control over all aspects of the project more then makes up for the added work.

What many fail to realize is the amount of planning that actually goes into each design session. An accurate floor plan is the backbone to any interior designing project. You need to place all windows, doors, outlets and anything else that can either be in the way or that should not be blocked.

A tape measure is the best tool along with paper and, of course a pencil. You will want to jot down the proper location of electrical outlets, phone jacks, windows, doors, and what you want to use as walk ways. You might think that you know where these things are you will still do well to put it down on paper. This will limit the mistakes possible.

Of course, a professional will undertake the measurements on their own. While you may think that you will be able to remember certain measurements, take nothing by chance. You may even want someone to go behind you to double check the measurements you took. While you may think it will hurt your pride you will be grateful for that extra set of eyes if a mistake was actually made.

Once you have an accurate blue print of the floor space you may want to make copies. This will save time should you make any mistakes. Instead of drawing up another plan you can just grab another copy. Another helpful tip is to use movable furniture templates that you can easily move around in order to see all the possibilities available.

Now comes the fun part, the realization of your ideas. Brainstorming ideas, shopping for items, and recreating your living space into something new, unique, and fresh will surely make all that planning worth your while. Inspiration can come from the internet, design shows, and magazines, an abundant source for those not using professionals.

Bring your blueprint with you along with your tape measure as you shop. The blue print will keep your inspiration in perspective. So you might be tempted to go with that grand piano, you might not actually have room for it and you will be able to tell that by checking your blue print.

While redesigning your space is fun it does take a certain amount of planning. Short cuts can not be made when coming up with your blue print so take care and take time as you map it all out. Interior design remodeling is perfect for home owners and office workers just make sure to take the time, effort, and care to do it properly.

In this age of environmental protection and green living, many people find themselves faced with home renovation projects which can help reduce their environmental impact. These are excellent things to do and, apart from potential tax breaks now, can reward you over the years. Most people choose to renovate homes they have planned to stay in for many decades, since the costs will eventually pay for themselves. However, there are little things that even renters can do to help.

One common, though initially expensive, procedure is to install solar energy and thermal panels on your roof. These are costly to make and install, and therefore costly for the consumer. This is definitely something for a long-term abode because they will reduce your heating and electricity bills enough to pay for themselves over the years.

They take heat and energy from the sun and convert it into heat and energy for your house. It makes the consumer far less reliant on fuel and regular electricity. They require little-to-no maintenance and can barely be noticed on your roof. You can get huge tax credits for installing something so good for the environment.

One can also put in energy-efficient insulation. Most people put in fiberglass insulation which is both good and bad. It is good because it keeps a house very warm and therefore does not require as much energy or fuel to heat. The bad component is that fiberglass is not biodegradable. Many houses that have been demolished or repaired cause insulation to be thrown away. It has a very negative impact on the environment it ends up in.

A smarter option would be to research what other products are available in your area. Mineral wool, for example, is a natural product made of minerals that conducts heat extremely well. The downside is that it does not protect as well against fires. There are countless options you can use. Ask your contractor or do your own research to figure out what might work best for you.

Pellet stoves are great for green living. They use wood pellets instead of actual logs and can get just as much heat out of far less wood. This not only keeps more trees living, but it allows people to use less heat. This is another device which can get you a tax write-off. It is not wasteful, either. Modern pellet stoves come with sensors so they can automatically shut off or turn on when certain temperatures are reached. In this way, no heat is wasted.

Wind turbines are huge structures which harness the power of the wind, just as windmills did. Only wind turbines feed their power to homes and businesses. Keep an eye out for turbines in your area. They are still to large and costly to be logical options for each individual home, but scientists are working on making their benefits reach every person.

There are also small things you can do to conserve your own energy. Use energy efficient lighting. Make sure that all windows and doors are draught-proofed so you do not lose heat. Create a good recycling center in your home to make separation of recyclables easier. Have timers on your appliances so they can be sure to be turned off every morning, in the event that you forget when you are running late to work.

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Green Efforts At Home To Create Eco Friendly Home

There has been much media attention within the last year relating to the British government’s new environmentalist initiative, The Green Deal. The deal is due to be launched in October 2012 and promises to provide a significant boost to the energy industry in this country. It is hoped the deal will inject more capital and jobs into the energy sector. In this article we will look at what exactly the Green Deal is and how it will work.

The Green Deal – The Basics

The Green Deal allows UK home owners to apply for a loan of up to £10,000 to install energy saving devices in their homes. The ultimate aim of the installation is to improve the energy efficiency of a property and reduce utility bills. Under the terms of the deal, the loan can be repaid over a maximum period of 25 years. The repayments are added to the standard utility bills of the property. Energy saving devices that qualify for the Green Deal include double glazing and insulation.

How to Apply for The Green Deal

Before UK home owners can be accepted onto the Green Deal they must be visited by an accredited assessor. The Green Deal Assessor will survey the property and deduce whether energy saving devices can improve the efficiency of the house. If the assessor agrees that home improvements can be made, the application will be approved.

At this stage the application will be passed on to a Green Deal Provider. The provider will arrange the finance for the installation as well as the actual physical work. They will also provide a customer care system throughout the process. Providers can choose to outsource the work or carry out each task in house. The first batch of providing companies have recently been announced and include British Gas.

The Golden Rule

The Green Deal aims to reduce the financial burden of installation energy saving devices on UK residents. For this reason, the government has introduced the Golden Rule. This clause protects the applicant against high repayments.

The rule states that the monthly loan repayments can never exceed the expected savings from installing the device. In effect, this means if the installation of an energy saving device is calculated to save the home owner £100 a year then the annual loan repayments cannot be more than £100. The government hopes this will encourage more people to apply for the Green Deal.

Will it Work?

There is much excitement in the energy industry about the Green Deal and companies are clamouring to become approved Green Deal installers or providers. However, some have expressed caution over the system and in particular the Golden Rule.

They argue the Golden Rule is open for exploitation as it is difficult to judge exactly how much money an energy device will save. Others argue that assessors will not be impartial when recommending what devices need to be installed. It appears that it will be some time yet before we are able to evaluate the success of The Green Deal.

At present, people still continue to waste resources and add to the pollution, and these acts are taking their toll on the earth. The earth needs all the help it can get, and if people take steps to live green, their efforts will be rewarded in the long run. Start your environment-friendly efforts at home with these tips.

Water conservation

Turn off the faucet while you brush your teeth.
Take 5-10 minute showers instead of filling up the tub for a bath.
Don’t use the washing machine unless you have an entire load of laundry to clean.
Use a bucket instead of a garden hose when watering the plants.
Collect rain water and use it for various chores, like washing the car and cleaning the garage.

Energy conservation

Turn off the lights when no one is using them.
Replace all regular light bulbs in the house with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), which burn less energy while giving off the same brightness.
Choose electronics and appliances that have the “Energy Star” label; this assures the user that their equipment are energy efficient.
If you’re not using your appliances or electronics for a while, it would be best to unplug them rather than putting them on stand-by, as the latter still uses power.
Instead of using a clothes dryer, put up a clothesline outside and hang your laundry out to dry.


When cooking, always choose the right sized pot, since using a big pot for a small amount of food unnecessarily wastes gas.
Opt to cook your food by steaming; it uses only one burner and therefore uses less gas
Ride a bike or take a walk when going to a close destination, instead of taking the car.
Slow down when driving; speeding up burns more fuel.
Take your car to the shop regularly to ensure that it is still in good working condition.

Other efforts

Always take a reusable bag with you when going shopping to minimize the use of plastic bags.
Segregate your trash and take things like paper and plastic bottles to recycling centers.
Cook only the right amount of food to avoid excessive waste.

Instead of having an “I’m only one person” way of thinking, adopt a positive attitude and continue carrying out your green lifestyle. Remember, if more people practice these seemingly small act sat home, they would ultimately be doing the world a lot of good.