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November 2018
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Five Landscaping Trends to Help Sell Your Home

Selling your home is an extensive process. Preparing the proper documentation can take weeks or even months. While you’re waiting, you can pursue a few landscaping trends that will make your home a perfect choice for future homeowners. Let’s explore a few factors that will turn your home into an ideal purchase.

  1. Efficient Drainage Solutions

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Standing water can potentially damage the home and soil around the landscape. To prevent flooding install a patio drainage system onto the landscape. More than likely, you’ll need a combination of drainage systems. Here a few types of drainage systems that’ll help increase your chances of selling your home:

Types of Drainage System

  • French Drain Systems – Installation of French Drains require grading and digging channels into the landscape. These channels are filled with pipes (corrugated or PVC) that follow a gradual decline in elevation to push water away from the home. A catch basin is installed at the center point where water will flood. Use gravel rock over drainage pipes to hold the installation in place then cover the gravel rock with the soil you initially dug up.
  • Trench Drains – These are ideal for pathway, patios, and driveways. Measure the length and width of the designated area. Dig a trench into the soil according to the measurements of the outdoor flooring structure or the edge of a pathway. Install the trench drain. Be sure that the trench drain design sits a little lower at the edge of each structure, this will allow the water to drain much easier. Like catch basins, trench drains come with a grate to filter out debris.
  • Balcony Drains – If your patio or deck is built high above ground, you may have to use a balcony drain. Balcony drains have a much smaller catch basin with a slim piping channel to funnel water from the area. They can be used for patios as well.
  • Rock Drainage System – Take it a step further and use the elements to show a great cosmetic design of your home with river rock drainage. It may take some grading on your landscape, but there will be creative display that will awe potential home buyers.
  1. Revamping Outdoor Wood Floors

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Years of innovation have given us better material for outdoor wood flooring. Homeowners are leaning more toward composite decking solutions. Composite wood floors are much more durable against the inclement weather and are likely free from insect damage. Use this opportunity to turn classic hardwood decks or patios into composite outdoor wood floors.

Give your home a design and turn the classic deck design into multi-directional steps complemented with matching railing. Or trade the stone patio for outdoor wood floors that transition from the outside to the edge of your home.

  1. Adding Flair during the Night

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Most buyers won’t see your home at night. Invest in some eco-friendly lighting to show off the landscape during the evening hours. For those who love the outdoors, you can add a fire pit on the patio or create a benching area beside the pool. Speaking of benching, consider some under seat lighting for your patio or deck chairs.

You can find eco-friendly lights such as lights powered by solar panels at local retailers. Set up lights to bring a twilight feel to your landscape. Don’t forget to take photos.

  1. Use Simple Garden Designs

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You want the landscape to be neat and spacious. This will give the home buyers ideas they can envision about the home. Of course, make sure the area is clean. Trim the hedges, mow the lawn, and extract leaves that may be on the landscape. Next, add these factors to help your chances:

  • Select Pine Straw as a Ground Cover– With lawn and garden beds clear, find a ground cover that’s both cost-efficient and cosmetically sound like Pine Straw. Pine straw is much cheaper than mulch and can be installed much faster.
  • Plant Annuals – As you approach home tour days, think about planting annual flowers in garden beds to bring vibrancy to your landscape.
  1. The Advantages of a Pergola

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Pergolas are majestic structures that supplement any patio, deck, or pathway. Combine a pergola with lighting to illuminate the imaginations of homeowners who enjoy home social events. If you’re a new homeowner looking to sell in the future, plant a Wisteria vine and twine it above the pergola. Over the years, the vine will create a natural canopy.

Also, you can install a swinging bench on a pergola. With the right structure and placement, it’ll give your landscape a community feel that’s inviting for any guest.

How these Trends Better Your Chances

In terms of landscape, you want to give potential buyers a clear canvas of the area. Be sure the lawns and garden beds are well kept. Maintenance it every week until the home is sold. As you maintain the residential landscape, assess any issues that may occur around the landscape. Improve the cosmetics of the landscape the first chance you get.

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Home Improvement Trends To Up The Value Of Your Home

Owning a home is an investment that grows in value as the years go by. Of course, keeping your house up to date is important to ensure the highest value possible when you may be prepared to sale your home. That’s why implementing the newest home improvement trends can be pivotal towards adding more value to your home. In this article, we’ll cover some of the newest trends that will safeguard your home’s value and increase its value for the future.

Choose A Low Maintenance Siding

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If there’s one thing that adds value to your home, it’s the ability to add low-maintenance materials that avoid the constant upkeep that homes require. Potential homebuyers appreciate this, so using materials like steel log siding and fiber cement siding brings a visual appeal and ecological benefits. There are plenty of siding options to choose from that are low maintenance allowing you to achieve any look you want whether it’s rustic, modern, or chic.

Install A Durable Countertop

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Considering that your kitchen is one of the most widely used spaces in your home, installing a countertop that can withstand years of potlucks, parties, spilled coffee, and all of the inevitabilities that come with home cooking is a wise decision to boost your home’s value. For durability, nothing beats stone, as it is a non-porous material that can be resurfaced inexpensively as needed. This is why black and white quartz countertops and quartz that looks like marble are the go-to for adding to your home’s appeal. After all, when potential buyers come to view your home, they want to imagine what will eventually need to be replaced and what adds an “earthy” quality to a kitchen, bathroom, dining room, and so forth.

Brighten Up Your Home With New Windows

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Health-consciousness and personal wellness are some of the key trends in the 21st century. Getting your daily dose of natural vitamin D from the sun isn’t just restricted to a brisk morning walk. Instead, brightening your home with new windows can have holistic benefits to its occupants—something that prospective buyers are sure to take into considering (especially in sun-starved areas, like the Pacific Northwest). Plus many people prefer more natural light in their homes as this can help decrease their overall electric and utility bills.

Incorporate Wood Accents

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Adding wood accents to your home is not only visually appealing, but can also subconsciously boost the mood of its occupants. Therefore, adding decorative wood wall panels to an accent wall or wide plank wood flooring to outdated carpet or tile can create a more inviting ambiance to your home’s interior, while also being extremely cost-effective. This can be a great improvement for modern homes that may be poorly constructed or have a “one size fits all” look. With some tasteful placements throughout your home, wood accents can add immense value to an otherwise ordinary home.

Invest in Energy Efficient Appliances

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Thanks to our modern technology, energy efficient appliances are a trend that homebuyers deeply consider when purchasing a property. First, using energy-efficient appliances uses less energy, making them more ecological and sustainable for the environment. But there’s also a correlation just for the benefit of the money saved which is attractive to many homebuyers. To make your home more modern, look at replacing washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, etc. and incorporating appliances with Energy Star appliances (which are certified by the U.S. Department of Energy). Additionally, homebuyers may be pleased to find out that there are tax rebates for using energy-efficient appliances, something that any homebuyers is keenly interested in.

There are many ways to improve your home and ultimately up the value if you’re looking to sell soon. Keep in mind what potential buyers are looking for and try to fit their wants and needs. After all, if the buyer likes your home they will be willing to spend more to ensure they seal the deal!

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6 Things to Do Before You Move Into an Old House

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Congratulations! You found the perfect fixer-upper that you can turn into a home. It’s important to find out if the home is safe and has passed all inspections before moving. You may also want to add some additions, like a stair lift, to your old home to make it more appealing.

Moving can be a chore. The last thing you want to do is to add more tasks to your to-do list. If you put off these tasks, it’ll make it harder to enjoy your house in the long run. Do each of these tips before moving in, and you'll be able to enjoy your home.

Change the Locks

First thing is first. If you’re moving into a fixer-upper, you need to get the locks changed. It’s important for you and your family to stay safe in your new surroundings. You don’t want the former homeowner or some other stranger with access to your front door.

Changing the locks on your exterior doors is the first task that you need to complete. As soon as closing is complete and you got the keys to your home, install new locks or have a locksmith change them out for you. Do this as soon as you move in and you'll prevent yourself from staying up and worrying late at night.

Clean the House

While most homeowners leave the house clean for you, that’s not always the case. Even if they claim they do, you'll want to clean everything down yourself. You can hire a housekeeper or cleaning service to do the work for you. If money or time is tight, you can do it yourself. When you do it yourself, you’ll feel better about moving into an old house.

Set up your area with a few cleaning tools to get the job done: brooms, buckets, mops, vacuum cleaner, and cleaning products for each type of surface. Don't forget to use a pair of rubber gloves. Wash down your kitchen cabinets, countertops, plumbing fixtures, toilet, and clean the flooring and carpeting. Taking this extra step will make you feel better about the house.

Check for Leaks

Your home inspector may have said your new home doesn’t have any leaks. But with a second check, you can give yourself greater peace of mind. Check the water meter before using the water. Wait two hours and check the water meter once again. Make sure your family doesn’t use the water during this time.

The water meter should read the same within these two hours. If it doesn’t, it means you have a leak. While you may not want to deal with it right away, this will keep you aware of the condition of your pipes. It’s easy to check your water meter when everyone’s out of the house or busy packing.

Change the Toilet Seats

This is a must if you’re moving into an old house. Changing all of the toilet seats will make your house feel like a home. It’ll prevent you from worrying about what happened to the toilet before you moved in.

Get a detachable toilet if you want greater peace of mind. No matter how many times you scrub your toilet seat hinges, you’ll feel that they’re never really clean, making for an uncomfortable situation. A detachable toilet seat allows you to remove the entire thing and clean every part.

Install Switch Places and Other Devices

Many older houses have dirt or discolored switch plates and electrical outlets. Replacing these creates uniformity in your home and makes your home feel newer and cleaner. While replacing switch places only requires a screwdriver, keep in mind that replacing electrical devices shouldn't be considered a DIY project. It’s always best to hire an electrician for these small tasks.

Have the Mechanical Equipment Cleaned and Serviced

You should get this done as soon as you purchase the house. Getting your heating and cooling system cleaned and maintained is an important part of the move-in journey. Get a service contract if your system stops working in the dead of winter, so you don’t have to worry about paying to have a technician visit your home. Ask your friends, family, or neighbors for references if you’re not sure which company to choose.

Paint the Walls and Ceilings

Sometimes this job can be more time consuming than moving process itself. You may want to hire painters to come to your home. This is also a desirable option if you never painted a house before.

If your walls and ceilings have holes and cracks in them, a new slab of paint isn’t going to do them any good. Unless you have a friend or relative who can help, save yourself time by having the professionals do it. If you're short on time or money, opt for neutral colors. This will give your home a much-needed update and make it more cohesive.

Once you get some of these tasks out of the way, it’s time to move into your home. That old house you bought will feel like a new home once you’re settled.

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Tips for Landscape Design for Beginners

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For new landscapers, finding the right design can be a challenging feat. Lack of experience can lead to serious mistakes as it relates to creating an appealing design. Here's are some tips you should take into consideration when designing a landscape for the first time:

Make Sure that the Lawn, Trees, and Shrubs are in Good Condition. Prior to starting any design element be certain to check the health of your lawn, trees, and shrubs. If any trees or shrubs need to be removed do so with care. If need be, employ the services of a professional arborist to conduct a tree survey to assess the health of your trees. Decaying trees can be extremely dangerous to your person and to your property.

Decide Which Elements the Outdoor Space Requires. All lawns are not created equal. Considering the specific needs of your family or business when landscaping is the essential first component to creating a great design. For instance, if you have children or pets you may need a significant amount of green space. On the other hand, an elderly couple may need a low maintenance yard that has very little green space. You have to be prepared to design a space that reflects your lifestyle and your specific needs.

Find a Focal Point. Place the largest or most significant object in an appropriate place, then establish your design based on this focal point. This will create a balanced landscape design. This focal point can be natural such as a tree or shrub. If there is no natural focal point, you can add a bench or a water feature. Make sure this focal point is appealing and adds interest to the landscape.

Add Flowerbeds, Mulch or Rocks. Flowerbeds add instant color and character to any lawn. Be sure to use native plants and flowers to ensure their health and growth. In addition, material such as mulch and rocks are essential for proper drainage so that flowers and plants can thrive. Rocks and mulch also provide a lovely aesthetic and come in a variety of sizes and colors.

Be Aware of Scale and Pacing. Even for established landscapers, scale and pacing can be one of the most challenging elements of landscape design. Scale and pacing have to do with the scope and size of the materials that compose the landscape. For instance, many landscapes have tall trees and short plants. In addition, the presence of flowers brings in the element of color. All of these materials need to be balanced to create a landscape that is aesthetically pleasing.

Employing each of these tips will greatly assist you in designing a landscape that looks beautiful and also satisfies your needs. Keep in mind that becoming a great landscaper takes a great deal of time and practice. Be patient as you attempt to use these design elements and learn from any mistakes you make during the process.

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Fixer-Upper under $100k listings

Sure, a lot of these may not be in cities anywhere near where you live, but who can deny the appeal of a gorgeous, well-maintained hardwood floor in a 1916 bungalow ... for $75,000? Add a few acres of land and original leaded glass to that, and you may be tempted to move to a small town in the Midwest.

Real estate agents: got a listing that fits? Send it to us, but remember the rules: price MUST be under $100k, and the house must either be a Craftsman bungalow or something of an at least vaguely-related historic style (i.e., Prairie, Spanish Revival, Victorian, etc.).


fixer-upper under $100k: Herrin, IL

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1100 sq ft, 2/2, built in the 1920s and includes original hardwood throughout. They're asking $50,000.

“Nice home on a corner lot centrally located in Herrin within walking distance of Herrin High School and the city park .Beautiful restored original hardwood floors. Open kitchen with lots of cabinets and dining area adjacent to family room. Front porch with lots of windows for your house plants. Enclosed back porch with ample storage area. Newer roof and decking. Small storage shed for your lawnmower and outdoor things.”


fixer-upper under $100k: Grand Island, NE

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Really nice woodwork inside and out. I love this style. They’re asking $93k:

“This property at 106 N 7th St, St. Edward, NE is a 4 bedroom, 2 bath craftsman style bungalow. St. Edward Emementry and High Schools are right down the street. It is approximately 1800 sq feet with original hardwood floors and craftman style moldings in the living and dining rooms. A new bathroom with claw foot tub as been added upstairs. New flooring installed in kitchen with a new dishwasher and stove. There is a full size basement with 2 large rooms along with an old coal room, air conditioning and heating unit room, and small storage room. There is a detached garage/storeage building behind the house.”


fixer-upper under $100,000: Leonardville/Manhattan, KS

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I had no idea that Kansas was so full of so many gorgeous 19th and early 20th century bungalows. 2,200+ sq ft, 3 bedrooms, indeterminate number of baths, and they're asking $70k.

Looking for small town living? Check out this cute bungalow with lots of character just ready for someone to make it their home. Features wood flooring, french doors with leaded glass, high ceilings, large trim. If you have the means to do a little work you will have a wonderful place. Priced so someone can do a little remodeling and make it their own.


6 Ways to Save On Energy This Winter

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As the temperature starts to go down outside, it seems that the energy bills start to increase at the same rate. Oftentimes, it doesn’t feel like there’s any way to work around that. After all, you need to keep your family warm.

But what if we told you there were some ways that you could cut down your energy bills this winter?

There are always some things we can do a little better to save energy in our homes, especially in the winter time.

Turn the Thermostat Down

We’re not asking you to turn your thermostat so far down that you have to wear winter coats indoors. But even just turning it down a few degrees can help immensely. If you can set your thermostat to a timer (or even do this manually), a good temperature to keep the house at when everyone is home is 68 degrees Fahrenheit. When everyone is away or sleeping, you can drop the temperature to 58-60 degrees. In fact, the ideal temperature for the best sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees.

If you want the house to be warm before you get back, set the timer on your thermostat to start heating the home again 30 minutes before you get home.

Dress Warmer

Okay, so this one kind of goes in line with the last one, but if everyone in the home dresses warmer, then you can turn the thermostat down a little lower without worrying that your freezing everyone out. Keep comfy blankets and slippers around the house to keep feet and extremities warm when everyone’s out and about.

Clean the Furnace

Furnaces don’t typically get a lot of attention, except when we are messing with the temperature as it starts to get colder. A clean and well-maintained furnace will be a lot more efficient and use less energy. If you live in an apartment complex or rent your home, you can ask the property management team to give the furnace a look and clean it.

Use a Humidifier

Moist air holds heat better than dry air. Having a humidifier can help keep your air more breathable and warmer as you turn your thermostat down a few degrees. Add houseplants to your home can also help increase the humidity in your home.

LED Holiday Lights

Are you a Christmas decorator? Time to ditch the ten-year-old string of lights and upgrade to some more energy efficient options like LEDs for your Christmas decorating this year. Don’t feel like you need to cover every tree and shrub in your yard, though. If you really want to save money on energy this winter, try taking a “less is more” approach and use minimal decorations that still give the feel of Christmas that you want.

Insulate, Insulate, Insulate!

If there are areas of your home that are not insulated, that is just money thrown out the door every year. Properly insulate your home to make sure the heat is retained and your money is well spent. You can find inexpensive insulation from home improvement stores to install yourself. At the very least, you can add weather stripping to your doors and windows to keep the heat from escaping that way.

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