5 Non-Decor Uses of Pallets

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I’m sure you’ve been online and seen many articles written that detail the many uses of pallets in home decor. Nothing wrong with that, people have made some really cool stuff that way.

I wanted to suggest a handful of uses for pallets that get outside the home decor arena. Some of them fall into the category of home improvement projects, but not as decor. 

Fire Wood

If you have ever decided to start a fire to sit around and cook with, you will know that it requires a lot of wood. A pallet is a perfect item to use. It is big enough that you have a lot of wood to use. The smaller boards can have parts shaved off to use as kindling, and then can be broken to meet the needs of your growing fire. 

The bigger boards would be for when the fire is growing strong. Whatever your need in firewood, a pallet is a great option.

Shelves

You can stack pallets easily, that is what they are made for. If you have a need for some extra shelves, then look no further than pallets. All you would need to do is build small posts in each corner to give some space in between the pallets, and voila! You have some easy shelves to increase your storage space.

Again, I consider this home improvement rather than home decor. 

Storage

Storage is much needed. Many homes just don’t have enough. Pallets are great for storage, as noted above. The reason I separated this from the shelves category is that pallets are versatile in their storage capability and don’t need to be made into shelves. Plus, there are lots of things you probably wouldn’t put on a shelf. 

If you have some heavy items you are worried about putting marks on your garage floor, a pallet is a perfect answer. It is low to the ground, so it makes for minimal lifting. Pallets are strong and can hold heavy objects. They also won’t be as easily moved as if you put a mat or pad down. 

It can also keep things off the floor in case of flooding. You can avoid damage to your possessions without spending a ton of money. Pallets for the win. 

Scrap wood

I can’t tell you how many times I could have used a piece of wood for something around the house. The last time was when my AC unit didn’t have a plastic guard to make sure the window was covered. I really just wanted a couple pieces of wood to put on either side of the unit so bugs couldn’t get in.

There are many uses for scrap wood around the house. A pallet is great because it provides a lot of wood that can be used in that way, and it isn’t terribly hard to tear apart with the right tools. 

Nails

I have known some people that will get a pallet, tear it apart as they need it and keep the nails. It works great for them as they just hang onto those nails and use it the next time they need a nail or two. 

It may not make a huge difference unless you consistently buy pallets, but it is a plus. Some pallets are held together with staples which may be less effective for your next home improvement project. 

Conclusion 

Pallets are versatile, handy things to have if you like doing your own home improvement projects. You can easily contact nearby businesses and see if they have any used pallets they will just get rid of, or if not a search for “pallets near me” can help you locate a pallet supplier. 

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5 Things You Need to Know Before Building a Log Home

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Have you ever dreamt of building a log home? Many of us dream about living in a beautiful, towering log cabin somewhere, surrounded by nature and cozy wooden walls. 

Building your very own log cabin isn’t as simple as it may seem, however. There are many things that people who dream of building a log cabin aren’t aware of. Financial factors and other unforeseen variables can derail your dream before you’ve even begun the building stage if you aren’t informed on the process. 

Let’s go over 5 crucial things you need to know before building a log cabin, so you can put forth your best effort at turning your dream into a reality.

  1. The Cost

On average, it costs about $35 per square foot when using a kit to build a log cabin. That’s not all, though! You’ll also need to take into account the cost of labor, utility lines, site preparation, permits, and the land itself.

One way to estimate the approximate cost of building your log cabin altogether is to take your building kit cost and multiply it by 2.6. If you are handy enough and decide to build yours straight from scratch, the cost will be a lot lower (though it will probably take much longer). For example, one man built a log cabin from scratch in a month for somewhere in the neighborhood of just $500.

You should factor in log home restoration costs as well as general log home repairs.

  1. Shrinkage and Settling

Even a log cabin built with kiln dried logs will shrink and settle a bit. This is due to the wood losing its moisture content once felled. To plan for and adjust to this, you’ll need to use chinking, caulk, and the appropriate finishes to prevent the cabin from experiencing air leakage. 

  1. Maintenance Will Be Continuous

Like a regular house, your log cabin will require maintenance. You should inspect it at least 2 times per year, in the spring and fall. This will involve inspecting the chinking, looking for any pests infestations, and assessing the overall condition of your log cabin. You should wash your cabin at least once per year to clean off all the surface level dirt. You’ll also need to stain it at least once every 3 years. It’s extremely important to stay up to date on your log home maintenance.

  1. Location is Vital

Depending on where you build your log cabin, there will be different planning laws, zoning laws, and other varying factors to consider. In addition to this, you’ll also need to consider amenities and resources. You need to be close enough so that you can have things like running water, power, phone service, and access to emergency services. Unless, that is, you want to live completely off the grid. 

  1. The Energy Efficiency of a Log Cabin

Log cabins are notoriously energy inefficient unless properly insulated. If you insulate the floor and the roof while sealing up all air leaks, your log cabin will likely be more energy efficient than the average residential home. This is because logs absorb and radiate heat.

Consider Everything Before Building a Log Cabin

If you take into account everything in this article and plan accordingly, you should have no problem building an energy efficient, sturdy log cabin that’s well within your budget. 

By considering all the various factors you need to, you can build the log cabin of your dreams without running into any unexpected roadblocks. 

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Farmhouse Flooring Ideas for Your Home

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There are many different flooring materials to choose from to achieve the look you want for your home. Today, farmhouse styled design is at an all time high. When it comes to your flooring, homeowners can use rustic materials to bring their farmhouse design to life.

There are several ways to get a rustic look with your flooring, including hardwood and wood planks. By adding farmhouse flooring to your home, you have a base in which to create a rustic design. Learn more about the flooring options below to get started on your new farmhouse styled home. 

  1. Distressed Hardwood

One of the most popular options for farmhouse flooring is distressed hardwood. Manufactured and created from reclaimed wood, this flooring type will be durable for many years to come. Such wood is found in old barns and buildings then reconfigured to be used as flooring. With distressed hardwood, you have the perfect backdrop for a farmhouse style in your home.

Distressed hardwood can be installed in a variety of wood types as well as coloring. Choose to go dark or light, or even have wood planks that vary in color for more visual appeal. Easily find a style you like and have it installed in your home. The wood pieces will add character to any room, adding to the overall design. 

  1. Whitewashed or Grey Wood Planks

For a lighter and brighter look, whitewashed or grey wood floors are a great option to consider. This type of flooring is created with planks of wood that have been painted in a particular way. The whitewash look is a painting technique that involves watered down white paint. The flooring creates a light base for your room, perfect for that farmhouse look. This option can be installed in any room and give you the foundation for a newly designed home. 

  1. Neutral Carpet

If you enjoy a plusher flooring type, choose to install new carpet throughout your home. Many homeowners like the comfort carpet has to offer, especially in the bedrooms. You can still achieve an overall farmhouse look with carpet. To maintain the farmhouse style, choose neutral colored options. Opt for a beige or gray tone to compliment the overall style of your property. 

  1. White Tile for Bathrooms

In the bathrooms of your home, tile is the best flooring type. You want to use a material that does well in a wet environment. Tile is durable and can easily last for many years to come. When choosing tile for a farmhouse style, white is the top choice among homeowners. White tiles can be added in a solid with no pattern or with texture or pattern to create interest. 

Choose to add larger tiles or smaller settings depending on the size of your space. You want to add tiles that will make smaller rooms look larger or create the right foundation for a larger space. 

These are just a few ideas you can use when it comes to flooring and creating a farmhouse style home. Consider the rooms in your home that need flooring and how you can integrate any of these options to achieve your overall design style. 

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Clever Insulation Tips to Improve Your Energy Efficiency

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In terms of improving your energy efficiency, there are few more effective ways to do it than by adjusting your insulation strategy. Every home has basic insulation in the wall cavities and other spots, but that leaves something to be desired for many homeowners. In case you need a boost in energy efficiency and want to accomplish it by upgrading your insulation, let’s go over a few easy ways you can do just that.

Check your HVAC Ductwork

Your ductwork has no insulation in it, which is why it’s very crucial that it doesn’t have leaks, either. Unfortunately, many homeowners DO have leaks in their ductwork, meaning the only way to shore up that drain on energy efficiency is to get them patched. HVAC patching can be done in DIY duct sealing fashion, but you might not be able to reach holes or leaks that are tucked away in the far corners of your ductwork.

Using a professional air duct cleaning team is the best option because they will seal up your ductwork, identify the leaks, then use patented technology to seal all of them up without you ever having to get your hands dirty. They can even provide you a before and after snapshot of how much energy you’ll be saving once your HVAC energy efficient ductwork is fixed.

Install Roof Insulation

Roof insulation like ACFoam polyiso insulation is one of the best ways to improve energy efficiency. Much heat is lost through the roof of a home, making an underlayment a critical part of energy efficiency. Foam roof insulation will boost your energy efficiency while providing extra moisture protection for your roof, which could save you money down the line as well.

Use a House Wrap

A house wrap works much like a roof underlayment does. It’s an added layer of continuous insulation that goes beneath just about every other part of your exterior walls. A house wrap will help to seal up some of the tiny gaps and cracks that normally aren’t bothered with. This can boost energy efficiency by a great deal since even these small little cracks and gaps are enough to let warm air out and cold air in, or vice versa.

Insulate Your Attic and Basement

Attics lose a lot of heat if they aren’t insulated properly. This is because they are located above the rest of the home, and heat rises. Use sheets of unbacked insulation in between every one of the floor joists in your attic, or apply a new layer on top if there’s already some there. Insulating exposed hot water pipes is a good idea too.

If you have a basement, proper insulation is important. Consider a below grade continuous insulation for your basement.

Improve Your Energy Efficiency with the Right Insulation

As you can see, the number of ways to improve your energy efficiency through insulation is almost endless. Whether you want to try insulating your attic, installing a roof underlayment or house wrap, fixing your HVAC ductwork, weatherstripping doors and sealing up windows, or any other method, you’ll run into no shortage of new tips. Try using multiple tips at once for an even more air-tight strategy.

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Tools Every Homeowner Should Have for Small Projects & Repairs

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As a homeowner, you know that keeping your home in order is not easy. Your house can seem like there’s one problem after another--therefore, being prepared to fix any problem when it occurs as fast as possible requires the right tools to tackle them in short order (or at least knock out the projects until the professionals can handle them). Let’s take a look at the basic tools for home repair that every homeowner should have on hand. 

Hammer

If there’s one tool that you’re going to need, it’s a hammer. Make sure to get a clawhammer so that you can remove nails and pry materials apart easily.

Vise Grips

Vise grips can help you get a grip on tough surfaces or hold something in place while you work on the other end. By adjusting the screw at the end, you can widen/narrow the open end and stabilize all sorts of materials hands-free. 

Tape Measure

There are plenty of construction measuring tools out there so it’s important to find the right ones for your needs. You’re going to need to measure materials sooner or later, so a diameter tape measure makes it a cinch. Make sure to purchase an easy-lock tape measure that measure at least 12 feet or more. If you need something a little bigger and more visual, consider a wide blade tape measure. Pocket rods are also good to have depending on how much DIY you actually plan to do.

Combination Pliers

For all manual applications, pliers come in handy (pun intended) in nearly every situation in your home. Whether you are tightening bolts, twisting/cutting wire, removing screws, and more, you’re going to need combination pliers to get a grip.

Screwdrivers

Screwdrivers are mandatory when it comes to most small projects and repairs around the house. Make sure to have a variety of screwdrivers of different head sizes and types, such as the common Phillips and flathead varieties, but also Pozidriv, Torx, Hexagon, and Security T which are included on new products and appliances.

Level

Symmetry is the name of the game when it comes to making perfect fits and a beautiful home. From leveling your kitchen counters to hanging a picture, a bubble level is the perfect tool for the job. For more involved projects, invest in a laser level for enhanced precision. The type of level you want depends on the projects you plan to do. For more masonry focused crafts, choose the best level for masons

Power Drill

When you’ve got a lot of materials to bring together or tear apart, there’s nothing like a power drill to handle most tasks around the house. 

Utility Knife

Don’t sacrifice the silverware. By using a utility knife, you can make precise cuts and scores on most materials (i.e. drywall). 

Tapes

There are few things as indispensable as tape for semi-permanent repairs. Gather a wide variety of tapes of different strengths and applications, such as electrical tape, duct tape, plumbers tape, teflon tape, and more.

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Tornado Safe Room Under Stairs: How to Reinforce

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If you live in an area that has even a remote chance of experiencing a tornado, it’s probably a good idea to have a safe room. A strong enough tornado can completely devastate your house and cause serious bodily harm or even death to you and your loved ones. 

Many people think that building a tornado safe room is complicated and will take up a lot of time, energy, and money, but this simply isn’t true. You can create a simple, yet effective tornado safe room right under your stairs in just a few basic steps. 

Building a Tornado Safe Room Under the Stairs is Easier than it Looks

The space beneath a stairwell is actually one of the most naturally safe places to build a tornado safe room. The structure of the stairs provides overhead protection, while the lack of windows or nearby water pipes provides added protection against flying debris. There are, however, a few ways you can make this space even safer for you and your family, turning it into a full-blown safe zone in the event of a tornado.

Adding Protection to your Tornado Safe Room Under the Stairs

If you want to really solidify this space, try using thick planks of solid oak to reinforce the stairs themselves. You can add them to the tops of your stairs as well as the underneath area where you’ll be hiding. Putting planks beneath the stairs can create an even stronger framework for added protection from falling objects.

Adding layers of protection on the floor is a good idea as well. Not only will this increase your comfort level, it can prevent minor injuries if anybody should accidentally fall down. Use some rubber tiles as the base for your flooring material, and then add some extra layers of memory foam on top of them. This can turn a hard cement floor into an extra comfy safe zone. 

Keeping Your Safe Room Airtight is Not Ideal

Although you don’t want any windows or open spots for rain or debris to come flying in, you don’t actually want your shelter to be airtight. You need to leave some space for vents that can let air in but which are not big enough to let debris in. 

As far as the door to your tornado safe room is concerned, it should open outwards and not inwards. You should also keep this area stocked with hand tools in case you need to dig your way out of a mess when the tornado has passed. The regular essentials like first-aid kits, food, water, flashlights, and more are also crucial to ensuring you can safely make it through the storm.

Tornado Safe Rooms Under the Stairs Are a Great Idea

If you’re lacking a tornado safe house, there’s no need to worry. Having a safe room under the stairs is the perfect solution for two story homes. This area is naturally reinforced, and with a little extra work, you can turn it into a completely fortified safe zone for you and your family to wait out any tornado in comfort and security. 

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Fair Oaks Workshops

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I’ve always liked this online shop – lots of great items from a wide variety of designers (Dard Hunter, Tiffany, Sullivan, William Morris, Laura Wilder, FLW and more) and vendors – but I think this recently-redrawn 1882 William Morris pattern is one of my favorite designs. I think it’d look especially nice on pillows on a sofa, or maybe a tablecloth. Beautiful!

 


8 Decorating Errors That Make Your Home Look Cheap

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One of the best things about moving into a new space is the opportunity to redefine yourself as you decorate your home. When decorating however there are a few mistakes that people commonly do that make their homes look cheap and out of date. Here are 8 home decor errors to avoid.

  1. Pictures 

Pictures are such a large statement in your home, but many people commonly overlook their importance. Here are three major things to consider before you begin hanging things on your walls. 

  • Quality of Pictures – Even people who aren’t art experts can and will judge the quality of the artwork that is hanging on your walls. The doesn't mean you need to spend an arm and a leg on fancy art. Instead, take the time to choose the correct piece for each room in your home. A picture can help a room come together, so take the time to select the right one. 
  • FramesNothing makes your home look like a college dorm room faster than unframed pictures. Unless the picture is mounted it should always have some kind of frame around it. 
  • MaterialNot all frames are created equal. Make sure your pictures are in matching frames. This doesn’t mean they have to be identical, but you want similar materials and styles for all the frames in each given room. 
  1. Curtains

Believe it or not, the placement of your curtains can have a tremendous impact on the overall quality of your room. Many people make the mistake of placing their curtain rod too low and accidentally cramping the space around the window. Your windows are one of the main features in your home that will help your rooms appear larger than they actually are. To capitalize on this remember to always put your curtain rod about six inches above the window. This will help the window look larger and allow more light to come into the room. 

  1. Lighting Fixtures

Old and outdated light fixtures can make a home look cheap and uncared for. A simple and relatively cheap fix is to update the lights and make sure you have bright light bulbs. No one likes sitting in a low light yellow room unless the room is intentionally lit by a lamp. 

  1. Rugs

Rugs in and of themselves do not instantly add class to your room. If the rug is the wrong shape or too small it actually gives the impression that you couldn’t afford the right rug for the room. You want your rug to touch all of the furniture in the space. This helps bring all the pieces together for one cohesive look. If your rug is too small, but you’re married to it you can always choose to layer rugs on the floor so you can still have that pulled together look. Another option is to opt out of the rug entirely.  

  1. Bathrooms

A bathroom can really date a home. If you have a toilet seat cover or toilet rug you might want to get rid of that immediately. They have fallen in popularity largely due to how unsanitary they are. A bath mat is just fine so long as you place it in an appropriate spot, for example in front of the vanity. A quick swapping out of towel hooks and shower rods can bring up the overall look and quality of a bathroom in a matter of minutes. 

  1. Hangers

This is a simple thing to keep in mind with your closet. If you have mismatching hangers, throw them away. It is only a few bucks to have a full set of matching hangers in your closet and it looks so much more organized and cared for than multiple styles of cheap hangers floating around. 

  1. Knobs

A quick and simple way to give an old dresser, door, or table a facelift is to update their hardware. A quick search online or a trip to the store can have your home looking much nicer for just a few dollars. The swap is simple and the results are instantly noticeable. 

  1. Less Is More

When decorating, always keep in mind that less is usually more. This doesn’t mean you have to live the life of a minimalist, but you definitely don’t want a room to come across as cluttered. Try and keep similar things clustered together, whether that is on a shelf or a coffee table. Having things spread around gives the appearance of being too busy and will take attention away from the major statement pieces in your home. 

Whether you’re renting or buying, good luck as you make your new house feel like home. Remember that there isn’t any rush. Take the time to make it look the way you want so you can feel comfortable and happy for years to come. 

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Can You Get Rid of Bed Bugs DIY?

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Does DIY Bed Bug Treatment Work?

You find that your home is infested with bed bugs Winnipeg. There are products you can pick up at supermarkets and other venues. Do they actually work? The answer is yes, but with some qualifications. In fact, the results may be more of a waste of your time than a help. Here are some reasons why you should set the do-it-yourself approach aside and call a professional exterminator.

You Don’t Know All the Places to Look

Many people are surprised at how many places bed bugs can infiltrate. In spite of the name, the bugs can end up in your closet, the carpeting and area rugs, and even furniture upholstery. While you may not be sure what needs to be treated and what’s safe, you can bet that an exterminator knows where to look and what to do. That’s one reason why that professional will be one of the most important of all Winnipeg's bed bug solutions.

Bed Bugs Extermination Over the Counter Products Aren’t That Strong

Thing thing about over the counter bed bug products it that they can only accomplish so much. Some of them are effective, especially products designed to use when cleaning clothing that may be infested. Others leave much to be desired. Since you’re not sure how severe the infestation happens to be, it makes more sense to have bed bugs exterminators inspect the home, settle on the best mode of treatment, and then provide you with some advice on what sort of over the counter products would help with the laundry and similar tasks.

They’re Not as Cost Effective as You May Think

If you decide to go the DIY route for getting rid of bed bugs, be prepared to administer a series of treatments. They may have to be administered every few days for a few weeks. In the meantime, life around the home will be disrupted. Along with the inconvenience, you keep spending more and more money on those products. By the time you’re done, the amount spent may equal or even exceed what professional pest control treatments cost. Even sadder, they aren’t likely to produce the same results that a professional heat treatment would accomplish.

A Professional Produces Superior Results in Less Time

Time is of the essence when you’re trying to deal with a bed bug infestation. Those eggs hatch quickly, so the number of bugs is constantly on the rise. Since over the counter products are only addressing part of the problem, it will be some time before the infestation is truly a thing of the past. By contrast, professional bugs extermination using heat or other treatments kills eggs as well as adults. That effectively stops the progression of the problem and makes it easier to bring it under control sooner rather than later. If you notice an infestation in the home, don’t waste time trying to deal with the issue on your own. Call a professional and make arrangements for professional bed bugs treatment in Winnipeg. In the long run, you save money, avoid damage to furnishings, and avoid the itching and other problems that continual exposure to bed bugs create.

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3 Things You Need to Know About Flipping Houses For a Business

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With so many different ways to make money, the choices can be overwhelming. Therefore, if you want to find the best fit for you in the business world, you need to identify a business idea that will not only pique your interest but also provide you with the income and profits that you expect to earn. Thankfully, there are some unique business investment ideas that can completely transform how you can make huge amounts of profits today. One of the most notable involves flipping houses. Before you begin to branch out in the area of flipping houses, it is important that you have a solid idea of how you are going to launch your strategy.

  1. Use Your Own Profitable Strategy for Flipping Homes

The strategy that you use to flip houses can make a significant difference in how successful your company will be. For instance, you may want to incorporate the Tortoise House Flipping strategy in starting out with your first profitable venture. The basics of this concept focus solely on deploying a flipping houses strategy that is considered to be slow but steady. With this concept, you will accomplish these 3 goals at a time and that is to make money relatively quickly first, offer the house of everyone’s dream, designing the appropriate plan that will legally help to avoid tax penalties.

Avoiding tax penalties is essential to making a large profit because there are traditionally taxes that can be associated directly with flipping various kinds of properties. As you get started with this plan, however, you should make sure that you have not quit your day job since you will need the extra income until your profitable ideas can be seen in the real world.

  1. Pros and Cons that Need to Be Considered

If you decide to start flipping properties for a living, you need to know that you can expect both pros and cons. Just like anything that you want to do, you may have lots of advantages but you cannot dismiss the fact that there are downsides too. Hence, for anyone who has their eyes set on getting, here are some of the more common pros along with the cons to flipping properties as an investment and profitability plan.

Pros to Flipping Houses:

  • Allows You to Use Your Creative Ideas to Renovate: While there are many different advantages to flipping homes, some of these reasons can be very exciting to individuals who have a lot of creative ideas that they can use to renovate their property. For instance, if you are good at making small rooms look larger, you can use a wide diversity of renovation concepts to these jobs. Hence, for those of you who enjoy this kind of work, it can be very rewarding and profitable.
  • You Will Learn More About Real Estate in General: Once you enter the world of flipping property, you can also benefit greatly from many of the things that you will learn. For example, you will gain a wealth of knowledge about the real estate business and how it functions overall. As you enter in your first short sale transaction or your first foreclosure, you will automatically begin to learn both the ins and outs of what these processes entail, including information about refinancing.
  • Network Will Expand: Another benefit to flipping houses involves the networks that you will be dealing with. For instance, your network of professions will include contractors, lawyers, real estate brokers and more.

Cons to Flipping Houses:

  • One of the biggest drawbacks to flipping houses is the high possibility of losing money instead of making a profit. Regardless of the number of houses that you flip, you can always lose more money than you make. So, this is one of the biggest drawbacks to enter into this type of business venture.
  1. What You Need to Know About Tax Liabilities

Once you have had an opportunity to completely renovate the home that you have purchased and have sold it, you should always be familiar with the tax liabilities associated with it. To find out more about the tax liabilities that will be connected to the purchase of this property and others, it is important that you contact a tax professional who knows how tax laws work in these situations.

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5 Garage Organization Tips to Consider

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Organizing your garage can be a big job but once it’s done you’ll be amazed at how much more space and function your garage has. When your garage is organized it will be easy to find anything that you need from seasonal clothes to sport equipment and you might finally have room in the garage for your car again. Here are five garage organization tips from organization and design professionals that will help you get a handle on that garage clutter once and for all:

  1. Hang Everything You Can

The best way to make use of all of the space in your garage is to hang everything that you can hang from the walls. Hanging racks can hold storage boxes as well as individual items so that you can hang things like holiday decorations or out of season clothing and get those things off of the floor. Construction measuring tools, ladders, rakes, and other yard equipment should be hung in specially designed organizers that hang on the wall. Bikes, skis, and other large sports equipment should also be hung up to maximize the space available.

  1. Utilize Ceiling Space

The ceiling is a space that many homeowners overlook in the garage. But even if you have an automatic garage door opener there is space up there that you can use for storage. Cleverly designed storage units that are made to fit into the ceiling of a garage over an automatic garage door opener will give you lots of room to store boxes full of old things or seasonal decorations that you only need to access once a year.

  1. Hardwood Plywood Cabinets

Custom built hardwood plywood cabinets that are made to fit your unique garage will really increase the amount of storage in your garage. Some people might think that the cost of custom cabinets isn’t worth it because the cabinet will be in a garage but there is no way to put a price on proper organization. Custom built cabinets in the garage means that you can use the garage as a workspace, a hangout space, a building space, and in other ways. You will have the storage necessary to keep all of your hobby equipment organized and safely put away in the garage. Custom cabinets that are designed just for your garage will ensure that you are using every square inch of the garage that’s available for storage.

  1. Proper Tool Organization

Once your cabinets are up you can organize your hobby space by putting in a custom workbench and a pegboard that can hold your tools. Hanging your tools and measuring wheels on the pegboard will safe space while keeping your tools easily accessible.

  1. Downsize and Organize

Hold a yard sale and get rid of all the items that you just don’t use. Sell those old bikes or the skis that never got used after the first winter. Old tennis racquets and tools can be sold too. Get rid of anything that you don’t absolutely need. Once that’s done take the items that are left and divide them into categories like hobby equipment, sports equipment, and so on. Organize each category and hang the items or put them away in the new storage solutions in the garage.

Once the garage is organized you will be able to keep it organized easily and you will have easy access to all of the things that you might need, like your child’s winter coat or a special tool that you need when you’re working on the car. Take back your garage and tame the clutter by getting organized.  

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The Different Types of Heat Recovery Systems

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image: wind cowls provide passive ventilation and heat recovery

With climate change on the rise, finding ways to provide us with energy that is renewable, efficient and kind on the environment is becoming more important by the day. However, heat ventilation systems are there to help, by making sure that we get the most out of our heating systems. They do this by utilising the heat from the stale air extracted from our homes and combining it with fresh air that enters via ventilation systems. Today, we will be having a look at the different types of heat recovery systems available to you.

Thermal Wheel Heat Recovery

Thermal wheels are usually the biggest out of all the ventilation systems. They’re thought to be the most efficient when it comes to air recovery. These systems consist of two big wheels which have a honeycomb arrangement. One half draws out the stale air, whilst the other half draws in outdoor air. Energy that comes from the stale air is passed on to the incoming air, which heats up the fresh air. The speed of the wheel rotation, plus all of the energy that is transferred, can be regulated to increase or decrease the air temperature of air fed back inside the building.

Plate Heat Technology

This type of heat recovery system, that can be provided by companies like BPC Ireland, is more common than its thermal wheel competitor. This is because plate heat technology can be utilised on a lesser scale. It is made up of a box that has a range of parallel plates that have been made from plastic or metal, and this allows extracted air to pass the air coming into the building. The passing air transfers energy and heats it up. The plates separate the air stream and don’t touch. How conductive and thick the individual plates are, are key factors in how efficient any system is.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps harness heat from one area and pass it to another. The way they operate is similar to that of a refrigeration unit. Heat pumps can be used to heat or cool air. There is an array of different types available. They all draw in heat from the air outdoors as well as the ground, which requires a network of pipes.

Closed Loop Technology

Air handling systems can have a run around coil introduced to them. A circuit of pumped pipes connects the two coils together. To charge the unit, water is used and the supply air coil has heat transferred to it from the heat picked up from the exhaust pipes. This type of heat recovery system is only used if the two air systems aren’t near enough to each other for a more efficient system.

Heat Pipe Technology

This kind of technology requires the least maintenance, but can only be used when air handling is done in an individual system. A tube system with a refrigerant (that extracts heat from exhaust air to pass on to the fresh air), is used. Evaporation from vertical pipes is used, due to them being more efficient compared to horizontal pipes.

As you can see, there are a variety of heat ventilation systems available. The one that works best for your home will be dependent on a number of factors. Making sure you do your research before you purchase a system is essential, so it would be wise to contact a professional and possibly get a few quotes.

partnered post • cc-licensed image by Tom Chance


Larger Living Rooms: Easy Hacks to Trick the Eye

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It doesn’t matter what people say, bigger is always better. Particularly when it comes to living room spaces, this couldn’t be truer.

Unfortunately, most of us don't have unlimited pockets. Or, we don’t have any more land to extend our existing living room into.

It means that we’re left with two options; either move home or try and trick others’ eyes into thinking that this room is larger than it actually is.

Suffice to say, it is the latter which we will be focussing on today, as we look at some easy living room hacks to make this space look a lot bigger than it really is.

spread the light

One of the easiest ways to trick the eye is through the use of light. A big mistake made by homeowners with a small living room is to just have one central light, hanging from the ceiling.

Instead of this, try and opt for several. Some of these might be on the wall, while you might have more than one on the ceiling as well. It might require for you to find a drywall repair service in Jersey to patch over some of the old fittings, but the results are completely worthwhile.

the art of contrast

Another really effective way to make the room look bigger is simply by painting it. The golden rule is to not use any “medium” shades. In other words, you have to opt for light or dark colours.

The reason behind this is simple; you need to create contrast. This creates the illusion of depth, which is all you need.

go from head to toe with curtains

It might not be the style that suits some rooms in your house, but when it comes to a small living room you need to make an exception. This comes in the form of curtains that stretch from floor to ceiling. It might seem as though you are hiding some parts of the room, but it just makes the eye move upwards and it’s this effect which can again make the room seem a lot bigger than it really is.

In a similar vein, if you are really against the idea of long drapes, consider putting shelving or other furniture high on your wall. This has a similar effect – the room suddenly looks bigger as furniture is placed in varied positions.

make a big statement with furniture

We’ve just touched upon furniture, but if you are looking to make the biggest impact the rule of less is more couldn't be more true.

While you might think you are doing the right thing by having lots of little pieces of furniture, this can just make a small room look cluttered. Instead, turn to a feature piece - one that will draw all eyes to it. In doing this, you not only eliminate clutter, but you also detract attention from the fact that your room is smaller than you would like.

partnered post • cc-licensed image by Peter Hess


Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House is for sale!

From Architectural Digest:

Welcome to the Ennis House, one of the Los Angeles Hills' most legendary homes. At $23M, this Mayan revival Frank Lloyd Wright house has been featured in movies like 'Blade Runner' and is full of furniture designed by Wright himself. Join real estate agent Rayni Williams as she takes you on a tour of the entire house.


How to Choose the Best Heating & Cooling System for Your Home

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Let’s face it, buying a new heating and cooling system can be a stressful situation. Choosing just the right units is a big decision that will impact your family’s comfort for years to come. So, before you jump into purchasing the first system you see, we recommend you take a little time to determine exactly what your home comfort needs are, and how to correctly address them. The key factors to the ideal HVAC system for your home are system type, unit size and, of course, budget. Read on for help in identifying these factors and choosing the best system for your needs.

Be Specific About the Space

The first step to determining what system to purchase is to define the type and size of space that will be cooled and/or heated. Being as specific as possible will help you avoid selecting units that will not fit your home’s climate control needs. By answering the questions below, you can more accurately define your space, making the final purchase decision much easier.

  • Is the space residential or commercial?
  • If it is residential, is the home traditional stick-built or mobile?
  • How many total square feet is in the space (including basement)?
  • How many total floors is in the space (including basement)?
  • Is the space new construction or an existing structure? If it is an existing structure, where is the current furnace located? (attic, crawlspace, utility room?)
  • Does the space currently have adequate insulation?

Now that you have nailed down the specifics of your space, you can move on to deciding what type and size of system you need. Read on for details.

Select the Right Type of System  

This step is actually quite simple, and it boils down to just a few points. In fact, the type of system your home requires may have already decided for you. If your goal is to upgrade your current AC/furnace units, then you’ll need to choose new units of the same size, type and air flow configuration of those currently in your home. For example, if the home currently employs a 3.5-ton AC/80,000 Btu upflow gas furnace system, and you have no plans to add on to the home, you’ll need to choose new units with the same specifications.

In the end, whether you go with a different type of system or not can be determined by asking yourself these three questions.

  • Are you happy with your current unit(s)?
  • Do you like the way your home is heated/cooled?
  • Are your current utility bills affordable?

Using the answers to these three questions, as well as the guidelines below, you should be able to easily decide whether your current heating/cooling system is the right size for your home. If it is, congratulations! You now know exactly which units to buy based on size, type and configuration. If the current system does not match your needs, we suggest consulting an HVAC specialist for help with sizing the new system.

Starting from Scratch

Selecting AC/furnace units for new construction, or an existing home that you will be adding on to, takes a little more thought. However, the process is still fairly simple when you break down the factors that go into it.

What unit(s) do you need for your home?

  • AC only
  • Furnace only
  • Package of both units

If you are purchasing a furnace, what type of fuel source will it be using?

  • Natural Gas
  • Oil
  • Electricity

Which fuel source your new furnace will use comes down to three things: what is available, what is most cost-effective, and what you prefer.

Natural Gas is the most efficient fuel source available and it provides a cleaner burn than oil. But you must have access to a natural gas line in order to use it. Creating new access to a natural gas line is a very expensive and time-consuming task.

Oil furnaces are cheaper than their gas-powered counterparts, and oil produces a higher Btu heat than gas. However, oil must be ordered from a third-party supplier. Plus, an external tank is needed to store the oil once it has been delivered.   

Electric furnaces are less expensive to install and offer ultimate control over heating zones (rather than the “whole-house” approach of gas or oil). But electric furnaces are not an energy-efficient option as they operate at a much higher cost than gas or oil furnaces.

 

If you are purchasing a furnace, what direction do you need the air flow to take?

  • Up
  • Down
  • Horizontal

The direction of the air flow is an important factor in selecting the right furnace unit for your home. That’s because the location of the furnace directly determines the direction the warm air will take through the ductwork. Typically, you will find furnace units that use one of three air flow directions — upflow, downflow, and horizontal (pictured below).

Configuration

If you plan to locate the furnace in a basement or on the main floor of your home, choose an upflow unit. These are the most commonly purchased units and you’re sure to find several choices in this configuration. If you are installing the new furnace in a mobile home, you will need to purchase a downflow unit. (NOTE: Some traditional stick-built homes do use downflow units, but this is not the norm. Be sure to check the direction of air flow on the current unit if you are upgrading an existing furnace.) If you plant to install the new furnace in a crawlspace or attic, you will need to source a unit with horizontal flow.

Be aware that some newer furnace models employ a multi-positional air flow feature that allows them to vent warm air in all directions — up, down and horizontally. You may also find units that feature two air flow directions (i.e. upflow and horizontal, downflow and horizontal).

Important: If you are upgrading a furnace in an existing home, be sure to check the current unit’s air flow direction — up, down or horizontal. Your new unit will need to have the same air flow configuration.

 

A Note About Mobile Homes

The typical mobile home uses a heating and cooling system that is different from those found in traditional structures. This is mainly due to the mobile home’s duct system, which is considerably smaller. Therefore, a mobile home’s furnace or air handler uses a smaller-capacity blower to accommodate the small ducts. So, when choosing a new HVAC system, be sure it is compatible with mobile home ductwork.

Choosing the Right Size System

The last thing you’ll need to do before purchasing your new heating and cooling system is to determine what size you need for your space. Though common sense tells us that choosing a system that is too small for the home is a bad thing because it puts too much stress on the units, resulting in unnecessary wear and tear and higher utility bills. But, did you know that choosing a system that is too big can also drive up your utility bills? Oversized units are known to routinely turn on and off in short cycles, which not only causes excess stress on the system, but also inefficient heating and cooling. A system that is perfectly sized for your home provides constant, comfortable air and even small temperature fluctuations will go by unnoticed.

To find the correct size AC unit for your home, find your geographical zone on the map below. Then use the corresponding color-coded table to determine the number of energy tons it takes to cool a home with your total square footage.

 

Zone-map

 

  ZONE 1 ZONE 2 ZONE 3 ZONE 4 ZONE 5
1.5 Tons 600 - 900 sf 600 - 950 sf 600 - 1000 sf 700 - 1050 sf 700 - 1100 sf
2 Tons 901 - 1200 sf 951 - 1250 sf 1001 - 1300 sf 1051 - 1350 sf 1101 - 1400 sf
2.5 Tons 1201 - 1500 sf 1251 - 1550 sf 1301 - 1600 sf 1351 - 1600 sf 1401 - 1650 sf
3 Tons 1501 - 1800 sf 1501 - 1850 sf 1601 - 1900 sf 1601 - 2000 sf 1651 - 2100 sf
3.5 Tons 1801 - 2100 sf 1851 - 2150 sf 1901 - 2200 sf 2001 - 2250 sf 2101 - 2300 sf
4 Tons 2101 - 2400 sf 2151 - 2500 sf 2201 - 2600 sf 2251 - 2700 sf 2301 - 2700 sf
5 Tons 2401 - 3000 sf 2501 - 3100 sf 2601 - 3200 sf 2751 - 3300 sf 2701 - 3300 sf

 

Heating Square Footage per Zone

For the best-sized furnace unit for your needs, refer to the zone map again. Then use the color-coded table below for the BTU necessary to heat one square foot of area. Next, simply multiply the total BTU from the table by your home’s total square footage. (Example:  40 BTU x 2000 square feet = 80,000 BTU). This is the ideal furnace size needed to efficiently heat your home.

ZONE 1 ZONE 2 ZONE 3 ZONE 4 ZONE 5
30 - 35 BTUs/sf 35 - 40 BTUs/sf 40 - 45 BTUs/sf 45 - 50 BTUs/sf 50 - 60 BTUs/sf

 

Purchasing a new heating and cooling system shouldn’t be an overwhelming task. With the right information at your fingertips, you’re sure to choose the perfect system for your family’s needs.

 

Still not sure which size and type of heating/cooling system you need?
Use our handy System Selector.

 

partnered post • client images


4 Cooling System Options For Your Home

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Have you ever been through a summer without any way to cool your home? It’s miserable. The sun beats down on the wall and ceiling, turning your home into an oven.

Luckily, there are several options available to help cool your home. There are different advantages and disadvantages to all these types of cooling systems. It is important to do thorough research on what will be the best option for your home. Remember, this is an overview, not an all-inclusive list.

Central AC

This is probably the most common type of home cooling system. If you can walk to the wall and adjust a thermostat, then you have central cooling. Central AC works by having a unit outside of your home that blows air through ducts all throughout your home. Coils filled with refrigerant cool the air. A pump pulls the heat absorbed in the cooling process out of the home.

Central AC units can work everywhere. They can be expensive to install, especially if you don’t have sufficient or any ducts. Central AC provides stability in temperature year-round, but can also lead to higher energy bills and may need maintenance on its ducts.

Swamp Coolers

You might be unfamiliar with swamp coolers unless you have spent time in places with a hot, dry climate. Swamp coolers are evaporative coolers. They are large units placed on the top of a home. They have reservoirs that hold water and keep interior pads moist. Fans blow air through the pads, creating a cool moist breeze throughout your home.

Swamp coolers are most beneficial in the hot, dry climate type. Swamp coolers are making the air moist, and those of us who have lived in humid climates know that there is no need for that. They are cost-effective, though this can be tricky if there are droughts and therefore water restrictions, which is not uncommon in areas where swamp coolers are effective. Paradoxical.

Portable/Window AC Units

These type of AC units have the power to cool one room per unit usually. They sit in or near your window and have the same function as a central cooling system, all packed into one little box. They put cold air into your home while dumping the heat outside. Portable units are called that because they can be moved around, but they do have a hose that goes out the window. That hose pumps the heat outside, so if you don’t have it in a window, things will get very warm very quickly. These units aren’t terribly expensive but are limited in their ability to cool, as it is really only going to work for one room. They can be moved to areas that need more attention, however, and that is a huge plus.

Mini-Splits

Mini-splits are a modern way to cool individual rooms with the same system and without the use of air ducts. An outside unit fills the same basic role as the outside unit of central AC but instead uses tubes to control temperature and remove heat and moisture.

These are beneficial because you can have different temperatures in different rooms. They can be installed in a number of places, and have different looks as well. They do cost more than installing central AC, but are very energy efficient.

You need to stay cool. It is so important on warm, and then hot, summer nights. If you need help looking into air conditioning installation, make sure to call an expert. It will be simple, don’t sweat it.

partnered post • cc-licensed image by ElasticComputeFarm on Pixabay


Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House

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Have you been here? If not, and you're in or near the LA area, try to make it for one of the extremely rare tours / open houses. Although really, it’s worth just driving by to see it from the street. Here’s what the LA Times printed about it in 2011.

https://www.latimes.com/home/la-hm-landmark-houses-ennis-house-htmlstory.html

When Frank Lloyd Wright completed the Ennis house in 1924, he immediately considered it his favorite. The last and largest of the four concrete-block houses that Wright built in the Los Angeles area remains arguably the best residential example of Mayan Revival architecture in the country. When The Times' Home section convened a panel of historians, architects and preservationists in 2008 to vote on the region's best houses of all time, the Ennis house ranked ahead of the Modernist Eames house, the John Lautner spaceship-on-a-hill known as Chemosphere and the Arts & Crafts beauty the Gamble house.

That the Ennis house garners so much reverence from the architecture community makes its current status all the more remarkable: for sale since June 2009, price reduced from $15 million to $7,495,000. Prospective buyers have shown much interest, according to listing agent Jeffrey Hyland, president of Hilton & Hyland, Beverly Hills, but as of yet, there have been no takers.


Why Taking Care of Your Roof is So Important

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As a homeowner, you take some things for granted, such as the roof will be reliable. The maintenance of the roof should be thought of as a necessary part of owning a home. Should it fail, rainwater will leak into the attic or loft and begin to cause new and future problems, both due to immediate water and subsequent moisture-related problems.

Here are some reasons to maintain your roof.

Protection from Extreme Weather

While we may worry about rainwater penetrating an old roofing structure, the reality is that the weather conditions in the UK are becoming more extreme. The strong belief is that it’s been caused by the effect of global warming, which is causing changes to the oceans, heating up the atmosphere and thereby modifying our weather.

We tend to think of tornados hitting the ground as an American phenomenon with one hitting Oklahoma in 2013 being over two miles in diameter. However, they’ve occurred in the UK too. There are as many as 40 tornados that hit British shores annually. With shocking speeds of over 100 MPH, they can devastate homes. With that said, a home with a good roof will usually only suffer the loss of some roofing tiles due to high gusts of wind in its vicinity when not directly in the path of the tornado.

Protection from Regular Weather

Our homes also get battered by heavy rains, strong gales, and occasional hailstones just to keep things interesting. The roof seals in the home prevent any water from getting inside the internal structure. The rainwater runs down the side of the roof, into the gutters and into the drainage system. At least, it should…

When roofs take too much damage, they deteriorate and lose their ability to protect from regular weather patterns. Tiles start to get dislodged more frequently and the total protection that a roof usually provides begins to breakdown.

This is why it’s worth completing an annual inspection of your roof to look for anything out of place, missing tiles, and areas where they seem less secure following a windy season. Most roofs should last many years, but with maintenance, they’ll last longer and provide greater protection too.

Do You Feel Comfortable Getting Up on the Roof?

If you’re scared of heights, then it’s just not worth doing it yourself. Even climbing up a ladder could give you pause. It’s one thing to do a bit of DIY at ground level but quite another to try to accomplish it while suspended in the air. Too many accidents occur when using a ladder to make it worth risking a broken arm or leg and having to be off work for a period of several weeks.

When you don’t feel comfortable performing a roof inspection or making repairs, then try out Belfast Roofing Services. They understand the issue and know how to perform both inspections, advise on what repairs are needed, and get them completed for you. This provides peace of mind so you can get busy with other DIY tasks still on your To Do list.

Don’t make your roof an afterthought until it’s too late. Maintain it well to get the most years out of it before it must be replaced.

partnered post • cc-licensed image by Mike Bird


8 Ways To Make Your Backyard More Appealing

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Is your backyard bland and lackluster? If that sounds familiar then you’ll be pleased to know that it doesn’t take much to make your yard pop. An added fixture here or a little landscaping there can make your home the envy of the neighborhood. Here are 8 hardscape features to help make your backyard more visually appealing.

  1.   Trellis/arch

Adding a simple trellis or arch in your yard can quickly add a bit of charm to your landscape. It doesn’t take much effort or space and will add a lovely place for picture taking. Because it tends to tower above the rest of the yard it also will help add depth to a small space.

  1.   Stone Walkway

A few stone steps or a rock walkway help to create visually appealing leading lines in an otherwise bland area. Before digging up the yard to put in your walkway, make sure to draw up a game plan and map out exactly where the stones will go so you will be sure to have enough material.

  1.   Pond

Putting a pond into your outdoor area is another great way to help with increasing the depth in an otherwise small space. There are premade ponds available at most home improvement stores or there is always the option of designing the pond yourself. Maintenance of your pond will all depend on what you choose to put inside. You could go simple and just have smooth stones or add a little life with a few hearty Coy fish.

  1.   Bridge

Most people don’t think to put a little walking bridge in their yard so this added feature will make your space feel unique. It will create added dimensions in your yard, making your space feel more open. Under the bridge, you could have a small pond, stream or even a pretty little flower bed.

  1.   Leading Gardens

If you are wanting to make your garden look more like a painting than a plot of grass, then a leading garden is definitely a good idea for you. A leading garden is small sections of your yard that you turn into patches of gardens to help direct eyes from one point in your yard to another.

  1.   Fireplace

You could have either an outdoor fireplace or a nice built-in firepit. Whichever you choose to go with, it will provide a cozy place to gather with friends and the stone or rocks used to build your fire spot will create an aesthetically pleasing, welcoming atmosphere in your backyard.

  1.   Outdoor Pavilion

An outdoor pavilion isn’t just lovely to look at, but it is also useful. It serves as a great place to entertain friends when the weather is nice. String a few lights in your pavilion and you’re ready to host the neighborhood barbeque.

  1.   Rock Fixture

One very convenient thing about rocks is there is little to almost no upkeep. All you need to do is make sure you don’t have weeds growing in your design, and since you aren’t trying to keep other plants alive in that area, a quick spray of weed killer will keep your rocks looking fabulous.

If you have the time and don’t mind putting in a little elbow grease, then you could add one of these hardscape features to your yard in just a weekend or two. On the other hand, yard work isn’t for everyone. It shouldn’t be too difficult to find a reliable crew to help your plain patch of grass turn into something that catches people’s attention.  

partnered post • photo by Erin Wilson on Unsplash