How to Install a Window AC Unit

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Window air conditioning units are a popular and versatile solution to combating the heat of summer. They can be used as supplements to central AC units, when you want to save energy and only cool certain portions of your home. They are also great for homes without central air, since they are fairly inexpensive, energy efficient, and can be taken with you when you move.

The idea of installing your own window AC unit can be intimidating if you’ve never done it before, but the process isn’t a complicated one. Here’s what you need to know to install a window air conditioner in your home.

Set-Up Checklist

Before you install a window air conditioning unit in your home, there are several things you’ll want to check.

Are window AC units allowed?

Some areas have restrictions on window AC units. If you live in a single family home, check with your HOA before installing a window air conditioning unit. Other dwelling types that prohibit window AC units for aesthetic or safety reasons can include apartments, townhomes, condos, and office or commercial buildings. Be sure that you understand any restrictions about window AC units in your home before installing one.

Do you have the proper set-up?

Not every window is a good candidate for a window AC unit. You’ll need to find a window that meets several requirements.

  • Window AC units require a double-hung window with a fixed upper pane and sliding lower pane. Other window types won’t safely work with a window AC unit.
  • You’ll need a three-prong outlet near the window. Note: Never use an extension cord for a window air conditioning unit. It can present a serious safety hazard, as well as void the appliance’s warranty.
  • The area inside and outside the window where the AC is positioned should be free from all obstructions within 2 feet of the unit.
  • Ideally, a window air conditioner should be placed in a shady or partially shaded window. Being in direct sunlight reduces the energy efficiency of the unit.

Do you have the right size AC unit?

There are two measurements you’ll need when choosing a window AC unit: the size of the window opening and the size of the room. Air conditioning units are rated to cool a certain amount of space, so you’ll need to ensure you consider both measurements when purchasing your window air conditioning unit.

Do you have someone to help you?

Window AC units can weigh upwards of 100 pounds, and trying to hold it and secure it at the same time can be very dangerous. Be sure you have someone to help you with the install so one person can steady the unit while the other secures it in place.

Installation Process

The process for installing a window AC unit is fairly straightforward and will be the same across most types of units. However, you should always check the owner’s manual provided with your appliance to ensure you understand any specific requirements for your unit and that you’re following all of the recommended safety practices for your specific unit.

Step 1: Prepare the Window

To start, you’ll want to open the window and mark the center of the opening. Next, wipe the opening to clear any dirt, dust, and debris from the inside of the window. If your window air conditioning unit doesn’t include weather stripping (not all of them do), install it now.

Step 2: Assembly

With most units, the side panels will need to be attached before the unit is installed. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and secure all screws tightly. By using all the screws provided, you will ensure there aren’t any gaps that could allow warm air to pass through and reduce the efficiency of the AC unit.

Step 3: Install

Now you’re ready to install the AC unit in the window. Remember: It’s best to have two people for this step of the process. Insert the air conditioning unit into the opening and center it on the mark you made in step one. Tightly close the window on the AC unit by sliding the bottom of the window into the slot on the top of the air conditioner. Most AC units require the unit to be slightly tilted toward the outside so the condensation doesn’t leak inside, but instead flows to the drip pan on the outside. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for the specifics on the angle required for your unit to operate properly. 

After the unit is securely in place, you’ll want to keep pressure on the window while you install the L-brackets. The L-bracket keeps the open window secured in place so it doesn’t raise up and release the pressure on the AC unit. This ensures the air conditioner remains securely in place and can’t slip out the window.

After securing the L-brackets, you’ll slide the side panels toward the window frame on either side of the AC unit and secure them to the sides of the window to create a complete seal around the air conditioner. 

Some manufacturers include additional braces or more weather stripping, etc with window AC units. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s manual to see if your specific unit requires any additional installation steps.

Now your window AC unit is properly installed and you can begin enjoying cooler indoor temperatures immediately. 

Maintenance

Window air conditioners require only minimal maintenance to continue operating properly. You’ll need to clean the filter regularly to ensure the unit operates at maximum efficiency. You’ll also want to check the drip pan inside the unit and clean out any standing water from time-to-time to ensure proper drainage and eliminate any possible mold growth. 

Are you struggling to achieve and maintain comfortable temperatures in your home? Call the experts at Hiller for a complete review of your home’s HVAC system. They can help you understand any problem with your current setup and recommend the best solution to get your home’s HVAC functioning at its best and keep your family comfortable inside your home, regardless of the temperatures outside.

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How to Seal Air Leaks to Keep Your HVAC Unit Working Efficiently

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Air leaks are areas where air flows in or out of your home. Air leaks can make it difficult to keep your home’s interior at a controlled temperature and reduce the energy efficiency of your HVAC system by making it work harder than necessary to keep your home at the desired temperature. Forcing your system to work harder will also reduce the life expectancy of your HVAC system and cost you more money in energy bills. By sealing air leaks in your home, you can expect to reduce the time your HVAC system is running and reduce your home’s energy costs.

Here are some areas where air leaks are common in homes and how to fix them.

Attics

Attics are some of the main culprits behind energy loss due to air leaks in homes. A thorough check of your attic will probably reveal a multitude of air leaks that can be sealed to increase your home’s energy efficiency.

Recessed Lights

Recessed lights are a common source of air leaks, because they have vents that open into the attic. Some recessed lights are already sealed to account for this problem. If your lights are designated ICAT (on the label near the bulb), then they’re already sealed. If you don’t see that label, then it’s likely your lights are leaking air and making your HVAC system work harder. Luckily, there’s a simple fix to seal them. You can purchase an airtight baffle that will create a seal and stop air from leaking through the fixture. Baffles take only a few seconds to install and can make a big difference in energy efficiency, especially if you have a lot of recessed lighting in your home.

Flues and Chimneys

For building safety, wood framing can’t rest against flues and chimneys. However, this creates a gap that allows air to leak through. The simplest fix is to cover the gaps with aluminum flashing and seal it with a silicone caulk rated for high temperatures. This will eliminate the air flow while maintaining the safety of your home’s flues and chimneys.

Attic Access

Since the attic access is on the inside of your home, in most cases, there is no seal around the door or hatch. This creates another opportunity for air to leak inside your home. Add foam weather stripping around your home’s attic access to create a seal and eliminate the air leak.

Throughout Your Home

Once you’ve checked the main sources of air leaks in the attic, it’s time to test the remainder of your home.

Gaps

Though you’re less likely to find gaps in the main living areas of your home, gaps and cavities in the attic and basement can account for a big part of air leak problems. For larger gaps (from ¼ inch up to 3 inches), try expandable foam spray. It’s perfect for sealing gaps around areas like plumbing pipes and vents, wiring holes, and behind knee walls. For gaps that are ¼ inch or smaller, weatherproof silicone or acrylic latex caulk is the best choice. You can use it around doors and windows, electrical boxes, and any other small gap that needs to be sealed. 

Windows and Doors

Your home’s windows and doors can be another major source of air leaks, especially if they are older and not as energy efficient as new models. Replacing older windows and doors with new energy-efficient models can have a significant impact on the air flow in your home and reduce the work your HVAC system has to do to keep your home at the right temperature. 

If replacing your home’s old windows and doors isn’t possible at this juncture, you can still reduce the amount of air leaking through them. Take the time to caulk all the windows and doors in your home and add weather stripping. Combined, these two small fixes can add up to big energy savings.

Ducts

Did you know your HVAC system’s ducts can be another source of air leaks? Turn on your HVAC system and systematically check the visible ductwork throughout your home. Seal any leaks you find with HVAC aluminum foil tape and you’ll instantly improve the energy efficiency of your entire HVAC system.

Don’t Fret An Inefficient HVAC System

If you’re concerned that your HVAC system isn’t operating at peak efficiency, you can always call in the experts. Professional HVAC technicians know exactly what to look for when conducting a complete review of your home’s HVAC system and will recommend the most effective solutions for keeping your home a comfortable temperature year-round. The problem may not even be an air leak, but something that those with the expertise are much more attuned to handle.

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Doing It Yourself: What the Professionals Never Neglect in a Plumbing Project

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If you’re getting ready to take on a do-it-yourself plumbing project, you may be wondering if you have everything you need to do the job right. Here are some tips directly from the experts to help you prepare to tackle your next DIY plumbing project.

Get Familiar

Before you start any project, it’s important to have a good overall understanding of the system you’re working with. Take the time to really familiarize yourself with the entire plumbing system, and not just the area in which you’ll be working. Make sure you know where individual shut-offs are located, as well as the main shut-off. Check to see what materials are used throughout the system, so you can be sure to have the right parts. Evaluate the area where you’ll need to make repairs to ensure you have enough room to work, and that you won’t be interfering with any other systems such as HVAC or electrical. 

Documenting everything with photos before you take it apart is also a great habit to get into. If you have photos of everything then you can refer back to those pictures as you’re reassembling the system. It can also help to label all of the pieces that you take apart, especially if you’re planning to reuse any or all of them. It’s easy for parts and pieces to get shuffled around or lost during a repair project, so knowing exactly which piece is missing or broken can save a lot of time and frustration.

Good planning, organization, and doing plenty of research before you begin will help ensure that your upcoming DIY plumbing project proceeds smoothly with fewer surprises.

Technique

Depending on the difficulty of your particular project, there may be a lot of different techniques you need to employ during any type of plumbing repair. Using the correct techniques for the correct repairs is key to successfully completing plumbing projects that function correctly and are long-lasting. 

Tighten Correctly

Tightening connections in the proper way is a major component of plumbing repair. For example, when tightening two hex fittings together, you need to use two wrenches, one on each fitting, to ensure that both are tightened correctly. Otherwise, you run the risk of over-tightening one and under-tightening the other. Over-tightening connections can lead to broken fittings and leaks. Similarly, connections that aren’t tight enough can also create leaks because they lack a proper seal. 

Soldering

Soldering copper pipes is a skill commonly required for plumbing projects. While soldering isn’t difficult, per se, there is a lot of technique involved in getting it done correctly. For example, attempting to solder a pipe with any water in the line will generate steam, which creates pin-holes in the solder. This will result in a leak, and the entire process will have to be redone. 

Another common DIY soldering mistake is to heat the solder, instead of the copper. Really though, the copper needs to be heated to a temperature that melts the solder, so it will flow into the joint and seal it. 

Using proper soldering techniques will ensure your plumbing repair project is watertight and leak-free when you’re finished.

Wrapping Tape

Did you know that Teflon tape must be wrapped clockwise around threads so that it doesn’t unwind as you tighten the fitting? If the tape unwinds, it won’t embed in the threads and seal the fitting, which defeats the purpose of using the tape.

Though they often seem like tiny details, employing proper techniques when making plumbing repairs can make all the difference in achieving a successful result.

Correct Tools and Parts

Just like using the right techniques for a plumbing repair project are essential to getting the job done right, so is having and using the right tools and parts for the job. It can be tempting to save money by trying to complete the project with the tools you have on-hand, or by reusing questionable parts. But not doing the job right can ultimately cost more in the long run, if the repairs don’t hold and you have to do the job again or repair even more damage the next time. So, whether you’re trying to fix a slow draining toilet or install an entire new bathroom, always use the right tools and parts for the job and your DIY project will be much more successful.

Trust the Professionals to Get It Right

If your “little” plumbing repair turns into a big project that feels out of reach for you to complete on your own, you may end up having to simply turn to the real professionals. Don’t worry. It’s not the first time they will get a call like yours, as DIY repairs very often end up going to the plumbing experts when something goes wrong. With time, you may end up becoming an expert yourself though. After all, everyone has to start somewhere.  

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Quick Fixes for a Broken Sink

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When it comes to plumbing, small problems can quickly turn into big disasters, so it’s important to immediately address any plumbing problems you notice. Depending on the exact nature of the problem, a broken sink can be one of the easier plumbing problems for a homeowner to troubleshoot and fix.

Most of these fixes are applicable to any sink, including bathrooms and kitchens, but it’s important to remember that not all plumbing systems are created equally, so not every fix will be applicable to your particular problem. If you have any concerns about the proper repair technique, contact a plumbing expert in your area to help.

Here are some problems you can quickly troubleshoot and repair when you have an issue with your sink.

Broken Faucet

Faucets are one of the most common components of a sink to need repair. Depending on the amount of use, parts can wear out over time and start to leak. Whether you’re dealing with a faucet that drips or a leak at the base of the faucet, the difficulty of the repair will be determined by the type of faucet you have. For common faucet types, parts should be readily available at the local hardware store. If you have a faucet with less common components, you may be facing an expensive and time-consuming repair. In some cases, it can be easier, less time-consuming, and even less expensive to replace a leaky or broken faucet than to fix the damaged one.

Water Leak

Unchecked water leaks can wreak havoc on your home, so it’s vital to repair any leaks as soon as they are found. You’ll want to begin by tracing the source of the leak to find out where it originates. It’s no fun to complete an entire plumbing repair only to later discover that the water was leaking from another point in the plumbing system. The location of the leak will determine the type of repair needed, but the first step is always to stop the water flowing from the leak. Locate the water shut-off that feeds into the line where the leak is and turn it off. After you’ve turned off the water, you can assess the problem and determine the best way to proceed with the repair.

There are several common causes for leaks in sinks.

Faucet

In faucets, leaks are often caused by damaged gaskets and washers. Generally, those parts are easy to replace, though it may sometimes require the faucet to be replaced.

Water lines

Water lines are another common location for water leaks in a sink. Water line leaks are most commonly the result of failed gaskets or loose connections. Unless the line has been damaged, tightening the connection and replacing old gaskets are your best bets for fixing the problem.

P-trap

A p-trap is a curved section of pipe under sinks. It stays filled with water to stop odors from coming back through the pipes. Similar to other leaks, it can be caused by a damaged pipe, loose connection, or worn gasket. P-traps are where clogs commonly occur, so it’s also possible the pipe has been damaged by a clog or previous repair attempts.

Drain

Sometimes the drain can be the culprit behind a sink leak, which can be much more difficult to identify. Drains are usually sealed with plumber’s putty at installation, but if the putty is very old or wasn’t installed properly, it can eventually begin to leak. To stop the leak, you’ll need to remove the drain and replace the plumber’s putty to make the seal watertight.

Damaged caulk

Caulk is often used to create a watertight seal in various areas when sinks are installed. If the caulk is old or damaged, water can leak into different areas. Caulk is easy to replace and should be redone if you notice it’s in poor shape.

If you’ve checked all the common culprits and can’t find the source of a leak, don’t wait to call in the pros. An unmitigated water leak can cause serious problems in your home if it isn’t repaired quickly and correctly.

Clogged Drain

A clogged drain is one of the most common plumbing problems homeowners face. Over time, hair, soap scum, and other materials can build up in the pipes and block the drain. This results in either the sink draining slowly or not at all. The most effective way of clearing a blocked drain is to use an auger. They are relatively inexpensive and can be used easily without damaging the plumbing system. Chemical drain cleaners are another option, but they can result in damage to the plumbing system, if used incorrectly. Be sure to understand the type of plumbing system you have and ensure any chemicals are compatible with your home’s materials before using any type of drain cleaning chemicals. Performing regular proactive drain cleaning with baking soda and lemon juice or vinegar will help maintain your pipes and reduce clogs.

Getting Help for the Sink Repair

As a homeowner, there are a lot of problems that can crop up within your home’s plumbing system. If you enjoy being a DIY-er, then you may want to attempt some of these repairs yourself from time-to-time. However, if that “small” broken sink repair turns into a big project that needs the expertise of a professional, then it may be time to call on some expert plumbing technicians.

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5 Common Bathroom Plumbing Glitches

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If you’ve ever attempted to fix some bathroom plumbing you’ll appreciate that it is almost always more complicated than it originally appears. That’s why you should have the number of a reputable plumber Sydney, they can help you resolve the issues or even do the work for you.

Once you realize the 5 most common bathroom plumbing glitches you’ll want to leave it up to the professionals.

  • Leaks

It’s not surprising that leaks are the most common issue, they can also be the most costly and damaging.

Most of the pipework in your bathroom will be hidden, making it difficult to spot a leak. The most effective way is to shut all your water appliances off and check your water meter. Check it again an hour later, if it’s moved you have a leak and you need to find it. 

Leaks that aren’t found can cause stains and rot wood, potentially causing structural issues. 

  • Toilet Constantly Flowing

A faulty, old, or badly fitted cistern can cause your toilet to run constantly. In older systems, this is often due to the flapper valve perishing or seals failing. If you’ve just fitted the cistern you’ll need to verify that all the seals are located correctly and that the water height is set properly. 

Replacing the inner workings will usually rectify the issue, providing you seat t all correctly. If not, it can be another costly error.

  • Drain Issues

The first sign that you have a drain issue is when your sink or toilet drain much slower than usual. This indicates you have a clog in your pipework. If all the drains are slow then it’s in the sewer outlet. If only one is slow-draining the clog is probably between that appliance and the sewer.

You’ll need drain rods, possibly a camera, and may even have to take sections of the plumbing apart.

Of course, if you’ve fitted the drains yourself you may simply not have set them at the appropriate angle, preventing the water from flowing smoothly away.

  • Smells

The most common smell to do with plumbing is methane or sewer gas. The smell is usually prevented from getting into your home because there are traps under all appliances that hold water. 

If any of these are dry the smell will get into your house and you’ll need to investigate the issue further.

Smells can also occur if sewer pipes have been damaged. 

  • Shower Position

Did you know that electrical fittings must be a specified distance from all water sources? If you’ve decided to change the lights, move the sink, shower, or even toilet, you may have inadvertently broken the regulations regarding electricity and water.

This increases the likelihood of an electric shock. You’ll need to adjust the position of the electrics or the sinks etc.

In fact, this is why it is so important to get professional advice and assistance when undertaking any work in the bathroom. The professionals can prevent costly mistakes, making them the cheaper and more efficient option.

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How to Save Money in Your Construction Business

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Running a construction company isn’t cheap. From the associated costs of sustaining a commercial property (i.e. lease, utilities, etc) to labor, materials, and the time that goes into each project, the cost of keeping a construction business operational quickly adds up. Beyond finding regular clients and pricing your services appropriately, construction company owners must continually search for effective solutions to keep costs down. Such strategies work to improve your bottom line making your construction business more profitable. 

Shop Around for Materials

Having materials on hand to complete various construction projects is a necessity. From lumber and flooring to roofing materials and plumbing fixtures, at any given time, contractors need to have these materials readily available to complete their job. There are literally hundreds if not, thousands of suppliers to purchase raw construction materials from. You can save money on construction costs by doing some comparison shopping to see which suppliers offer the best bang for your buck.

Evaluate Shipping Costs

Whether working on home improvement jobs or you’ve been contracted to help build an office, transporting raw construction materials from storage to the job site often requires the assistance of a shipping company – which also costs money. 

In order to keep the cost of transporting materials, supplies, and equipment to job sites, it is imperative to do a few things. First, be sure that you’ve chosen the best shipping service by doing some price comparisons. Secondly, make sure that your construction materials are packaged and weighted according to the carrier’s guidelines. Lastly, periodically audit your invoices. There is, for instance, Fedex audit software to check all your invoices from the carrier to ensure you haven’t been overcharged. 

Hire the Right Team of Contractors

Getting construction jobs done on your own isn’t ideal. This is especially true when working on larger projects. Yet, who you hire to work with you can help or hurt your bottom line. A team of contractors that has limited experience or that lacks professionalism reduces the quality of work you provide your clients and can also kill deadlines which equates to wasted money.

Be sure to do your due diligence when hiring contractors for your team. Conduct quality interviews, review their portfolios, reach out to former employers or clients, and do some research to ensure they’ve had the proper training, education, and credentials necessary to complete the job. 

Invest in Quality Equipment

All too often, business owners make the mistake of trying to cut corners and save money by purchasing the bare minimum with regards to supplies and equipment necessary to complete their jobs. While this may work in some industries, purchasing poor-quality equipment (or foregoing the purchase altogether) is a waste of money. For instance, having contractors use a hammer to secure nails or hand saws for cutting plywood wastes a lot of time which increases the deadline and wastes money. On the contrary, purchasing quality nail guns and electric saws not only gets the job done faster but improves the quality and integrity of each project. 

Improve On-Site Efficiency

With every construction job, there are various steps and individuals required to complete the project. If there isn’t effective communication, comprehension, organization, and collaboration, a lot of time, and therefore, money is wasted. Construction companies can save themselves a lot of money by improving the efficiency of projects on the construction site. 

There are several avenues that can be taken including hiring construction managers to oversee workers, utilizing the best equipment to streamline processes (without reducing quality), and developing strategies to ensure workers are on the same page. Many construction companies have found project management software to be beneficial in that way. These technological platforms allow all involved parties to communicate, review project progress, assess the budget, review deadlines, and much more keeping everyone on task. 

Starting a construction company can prove to be a lucrative business venture - no matter what your specialty. That being said, to keep your company afloat it is vital that you continually look for ways to improve and/or streamline processes and cut costs. Not only does doing this make your company more profitable, but it helps you stay ahead of the competition while also paving the way for you to continue to provide high-quality services to your customers.

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Low Maintenance Home Exterior Trends That Are Designed to Last

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They say that trends come and go. While that might be true, some exterior trends are designed to last. These trends are the ones that focus on minimizing maintenance requirements while maximizing curb appeal. 

The reality is that all homeowners want to boost curb appeal. Whether they’re looking to sell or not, the appearance of a person’s home says a lot about them. Excellent curb appeal can increase property value, but it can also increase homeowner pride. There's truly no substitute for pulling into the driveway of a house you’re proud of every single day. 

However, people are busier today than they ever have been before. Longer work hours, multiple jobs, social clubs, familial obligations, and more keep people busy. So, more than ever before, people demand low-maintenance options. They want the exterior of their home to shine, but they need it to do so without a lot of upkeep. 

Thankfully, the design and home construction world has risen to the demand making way for several exterior trends that are both visually appealing and low-maintenance. All of these trends can increase curb appeal and boost property value, too. 

Here are five exterior trends that are sure to boost your curb appeal.

Trend #1: Go for Faux

If you peruse HGTV or Pinterest at all, then you probably know that wood is a huge trend in homes right now. Everyone loves the look of reclaimed wood roofs, siding, flooring, and more. But here’s the thing, wood is a pain to maintain. It’s porous, so it doesn't do well with moisture. It also attracts termites, and it isn’t very fire resistant. 

So, go faux instead. The market has everything from vinyl cedar shakes for your siding and roof to faux wood flooring for your interior. To boost your exterior curb appeal, jump on the wood trend, but don’t use real wood. 

Trend #2: Say Goodbye to Boring Roofs 

Asphalt roofs are out of trend for several reasons. One, they’re boring. Two, they’re bad for the environment and terrible for energy-efficiency. Three, they’re a pain to maintain. While they’re incredibly cheap, asphalt shingles don’t do very well in inclement weather, so repairs are frequent. 

The good thing is there are plenty of low-maintenance asphalt shingle alternatives including, synthetic shingles, metal roofs, and solar shingles. All three of those options are visually appealing and low-maintenance options. 

Trend #3: Go Neutral 

As far as exterior house and roof color combinations go, the trends are all over the place. Some experts are saying that dark colors like burgundy are the way to go. Others are saying light blue houses are going to really pick up steam in the coming years. Some insist that the grey trend that’s been going on will continue. Some designers say that you should paint your door a bright red or deep blue for a striking visual impact. 

When it comes to exterior colors, there isn’t much that’s certain. Color trends continuously change. If you want to boost curb appeal and ensure that you don’t have to repaint to ride the next trend, go neutral. Neutral colors are always in vogue. Go for high-quality, weather-resistant neutral paint colors for a guaranteed boost in curb appeal that will last for years to come.   

Trend #4: Be Strategic with Your Windows 

Large windows are on-trend. People are really into natural lighting inside the home, so large windows are a reliable way to increase curb appeal these days. However, if you aren’t looking to replace windows or increase the size of your windows, there are still several exterior window ideas that you can employ for low-maintenance designs. 

For the lowest maintenance windows, go for fiberglass and vinyl windows. Be sure to choose windows that are designed with easy-care and energy-efficiency in mind. While you might have to pay more upfront for low-maintenance, high-quality windows, they’ll increase your property value while simultaneously decreasing upkeep time. 

Trend #5: Do Simple Landscaping 

A neatly manicured lawn is the signature of curb appeal. However, you don't have to have a lush garden and perfectly kept grass to have fantastic curb appeal. Instead, several landscaping trends are low maintenance and offer high curb appeal. 

For instance, Asian-inspired landscaping is gorgeous and is comprised of rocks, peaceful fountains, and low-maintenance plants. Another trend is to forgo vegetation altogether and opt for a completely rock and stone landscape. You can also opt for low fuss plants, artificial grass, a permeable paving system, or some combination of easy-to-handle yard solutions. 

The key to landscaping is making everything look great without a lot of ongoing effort. As long as your yard is designed well, your curb appeal and property value should rise.

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Increase Your Curb Appeal Today 

These five trends are perfect examples of ways to stay on trend while keeping your maintenance goals in mind. You can boost curb appeal and renovate your home’s exterior in a way that will last for decades to come. The secret lies in choosing high-quality materials and opting for low-maintenance options rather than fussy ones.

If you’re smart about your exterior design, you can have a home that is beautiful, low-maintenance, and high-value. 

Jordan Swift is a contributor to the Innovative Materials blog. He is a content writer for the construction and home improvement industries with an interest in landscaping, outdoor remodeling, and interior design. Jordan is focused on educating homeowners, contractors, and architects on innovative materials and methods of construction that increase property value, improve sustainability, and create a warm and welcoming ambiance. 

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How to Make Your Home More Weather-Resistant

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Inclement weather can be disastrous for your home. This is especially true if you live in a particularly harsh climate. From hurricanes in the south, to fires in the west, to tornadoes in the Great Plains, to frigid temperatures in the north, there’s no shortage of weather-related dangers for your house. 

There are several things you can do to make your home more weather-resistant. You can do simple fixes or start from the ground up with fire-and wind-resistant construction techniques. Whatever you do, it’s crucial to take some steps to make your home more weather-resistant. 

A few measures today can save you fortunes in the long run. How can you make your home more weather resistant? Let’s get into it. Here are four ways to make your home more weatherproof.

#1: Choose High-Quality Materials from The Beginning 

The most straightforward way to protect your home from weather damage is by choosing weather-resistant building materials from the start. For instance, avoid wood as a material. It’s porous, which means it absorbs water, which can result in mold, mildew, and damage. Moreover, wood isn’t very resistant to fire. 

Instead, opt for materials and construction techniques like ICF construction. ICF stands for insulated concrete forms, and it’s a type of construction that uses pre-made, insulated, concrete, interlocking blocks to build instead of traditional wood or metal studs. Ultimately, this technique is more energy-efficient and weather-resistant. In fact, ICF homes have even stood up well to tornadoes. 

This also extends to roofing materials, siding materials, and more. Always go for weather-friendly options. For your roof, stay away from asphalt shingles that absorb heat and are easily damaged in high winds and rough storms. For siding, fiber cement is always a terrific choice. Ultimately, opt for high-quality, weather-resistant materials in the beginning, and you’ll be way ahead of the curve when the storms roll in. 

#2: Regularly Check and Seal Windows, Doors, and More

Water leaks cause some of the most expensive damage to homes. You can avoid these leaks by employing some window weatherproofing. First, be sure that your windows and doors are correctly fitted and that there are no leaks. If there are any issues with fit or any cracks, be sure to seal them up. Additionally, always use weather-resistant windows and windows that prioritize energy-efficiency. 

Weatherproofing your windows and doors helps prevent water damages, but it also helps prevent cool or warm air from coming in or out of the home. This helps keep energy costs down. 

Aside from your windows and doors, be sure to regularly do a sweep of your exterior siding, especially if you have stone or brick siding. If you see any cracks, be sure to seal them up as soon as possible. Water can get in and cause significant damage to your siding. If you live in an area that freezes, rain and freezing can cause severe cracks to form in your siding and foundation. So, be sure to inspect, seal, and repair frequently. 

#3: Insulate and Focus on Energy-Efficiency 

We’ve already talked a bit about energy-efficiency, but it’s worth talking about a bit more. One of the best things you can do for your home is to ensure that it’s adequately insulated. If a home isn’t well insulated, you’ll pay much more to keep your house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Insulation is incredibly essential if you live in harsh temperatures. 

Be sure your attic and basement are both adequately insulated, and do spot checks twice annually to make sure everything is up to par. Check for any spots where air is seeping in or out of the home and patch them up. 

#4: Smart Yard and Driveway Design 

Standing water can wreak havoc on your yard, driveway, and your home’s foundation. One of the smartest things you can do to protect your home is to invest in solutions to eliminate standing water in your yard. This is incredibly important if you live in areas that are prone to flooding. 

There are several driveway drainage options. From French drainage systems to permeable paver systems, there’s no shortage of options to control water buildup in your yard and driveway. You can even do things like turning your yard into a sloped yard or planting a rain garden. The key thing here is to do something to manage water buildup in your yard, because flooding damage can be expensive and difficult to repair. 

Start Making Your Home Weather-Resistant Today

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These four ideas are fantastic ways to make your home more weather-resistant. With a little forethought, you can save yourself tons of time, money, energy, and frustration in the future. Take preventative measures today to protect your home in the future. 

Jordan Swift is a contributor to the Innovative Materials blog. He is a content writer for the construction and home improvement industries with an interest in landscaping, outdoor remodeling, and interior design. Jordan is focused on educating homeowners, contractors, and architects on innovative materials and methods of construction that increase property value, improve sustainability, and create a warm and welcoming ambiance.

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Office Interior Design Ideas that Maximize Productivity

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Most businesses want the same thing. Ask most CEOs and business owners, and they’ll tell you that they want increased revenue and profits. One of the best ways to increase profitability is by improving productivity. While there are several effective means for increasing productivity in the office, productivity maximization really begins in the design of an office building. 

If an office is designed with productivity in mind, then you can expect an increase in employee output. But how do you design an office to maximize productivity? 

There are several ways to emphasize productivity with design. Here are four design ideas to get you started. 

Idea #1: Incorporate Quiet Areas 

Wide-open offices have been a trend in office spaces for the last several years. Collaboration became a buzzword, and people everywhere were raving about breaking down the walls and having a free flow of conversation and ideas in the workplace. While those concepts have merits, this emphasis on constant collaboration virtually eliminated designated quiet spaces. 

Quiet spaces are critical for the completion of some jobs. They’re also crucial for private meetings. However, there’s a way to benefit from both the creativity that comes from open designs and the productivity that comes from quiet spaces. It’s not uncommon to see the inclusion of temporary or non-limiting walls, like a conference room glass wall, for instance. Glass walls allow for quiet while still feeling open. 

So, this first idea is all about creating quiet areas for employees to do their job and have meetings but do it in a way that still allows for the free flow of ideas. This ensures that you maximize productivity on all fronts in your office’s design. 

Idea #2: Emphasize Clean and Sustainable Workspaces 

Clutter is a known productivity killer. Your office must be designed in a way that eliminates clutter and emphasizes cleanliness. For example, storage space and organization tools should be abundant in the layout of your office. 

In addition to cleanliness, there’s been a significant upswing in sustainable and natural material use in the workplace. This could be because of nature’s positive effect on productivity, or it could be because employees take pride in working for a company that makes sustainable and eco-conscious decisions. 

Either way, it’s a smart move to incorporate sustainable materials into your office’s design. Consider using things like reclaimed wood, recycled metals, or natural stones, like quartz in your office’s design. As a bonus, sustainable products can be more cost-effective than other alternatives. As a warning, they can also be more expensive. 

Just be sure to price things out. Get natural stone or quartz pricing and compare. Check out studies over sustainability, natural elements, and their effects on worker productivity, and decide if these investments will result in a decent ROI for you before going all in. 

Idea #3: Focus on Office Acoustics 

While we’ve already talked a bit about noise’s effect on productivity, acoustics play a significant role in employee output. If employees can’t easily communicate, hear, or if they’re distracted by noisy office acoustics, it’ll be difficult for them to be productive. 

Too often, very little thought is put into an office’s acoustics until it’s too late. CEOs mistakenly build office buildings with insanely high ceilings, concrete floors, and little in the way of insulation. This layout creates a giant echo chamber that can effectively drive employees crazy rather than helping them be productive. 

There are several ideas for focusing on office acoustics. You can use insulation, louvers, panels, sound masking, bulky furniture, or even more complex office screen and wall systems to help control acoustics. 

Idea #4: Consider Comfort and Flexibility in The Design

While comfort and flexibility might seem like enemies of productivity and focus, as it turns out, they aren’t at all. Employees who are comfortable and who are allowed to work in flexible spaces outperform employees who work in stuffy, uncomfortable cubicles. 

Giving employees the freedom to work in a way that they’re most comfortable allows them to focus less energy on ignoring their discomfort and more on the task at hand. To translate this idea to design, many business owners are creating office spaces with larger work areas, bigger desks, more comfortable chairs, and they’re adding in several “flex areas.” 

In other words, they’re creating alternative areas for the employees to complete their jobs, so they aren’t chained to their desks. 

Maximize Productivity in Your Office Building

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These four ideas are just a few ways that you can maximize productivity through design. If you create quiet areas, emphasize cleanliness, prioritize sustainability, and consider employee comfort, you’ll be well on your way to creating a more productive workforce in no time. 

Jordan Swift is a contributor to the Innovative Materials blog. He is a content writer for the construction and home improvement industries with an interest in landscaping, outdoor remodeling, and interior design. Jordan is focused on educating homeowners, contractors, and architects on innovative materials and methods of construction that increase property value, improve sustainability, and create a warm and welcoming ambiance.

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Prep Your Air Conditioner for the Summer 

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Summer is almost here! OK, maybe not quite yet, but before you know it, you’ll be pulling out the barbeque and the patio furniture. And as the warmer weather approaches, you’ll be cranking up the air conditioner to keep you and your family nice and cool.

Just like a car, your AC requires regular maintenance to run efficiently. After a year of being inactive, your unit must get a professional maintenance check-up. You want to make sure that it's still in good working condition and that it's safe to run all summer long.

Get ahead of the game and schedule your AC repair in time for summer with a professional HVAC company before the weather gets too hot. It might be hard to believe right now, but soon you’ll be complaining about the heat instead of the cold!

Read on to discover what you can do to prepare your air conditioner just in time for summer.

Change the Filter 

The role of the filter is to keep dust and debris out of your HVAC equipment. You’d be shocked at how much builds up on there in a very short amount of time. Think about how much dust and debris you pick up when you use the vacuum cleaner — and it’s even worse if you have pets.

Change or replace your air filters regularly to avoid any unnecessary (and unhealthy) buildup of dust and debris. Not to mention the damage that all of that buildup can cause to the parts of your AC unit. It gets clogged with all of that dust and dirt, causing wear tear on the parts. A clogged filter also prevents air from flowing through effectively in your home.

Consult your heating and cooling service provider to change or replace your filter correctly. They’ll be able to answer any specific questions you may have.

Clean the Coils 

The coils in your air conditioner are a critical component of the unit because they absorb the heat from the air in your house. They're located inside the air handler or attached to the furnace. Over time, the coils become insulated with dust and debris, and this reduces the amount of heat they can absorb. Therefore, your AC has to work harder to cool your home. 

Dirty coils can lead to:

  • Increased operating temperatures (excess dirt and can cause undue stress on the AC, causing fans and compressors to work harder at increased operating temperatures to achieve the desired level of indoor comfort)
  • Higher humidity levels inside your home
  • Decreased cooling efficiency
  • Higher cooling costs

To prevent placing unnecessary strain on your air conditioner, be sure to keep the coils clean. Consult your HVAC professional first, but you can also get rid of any debris found around the outdoor condenser unit.

The spring season is the perfect time of year to have your AC unit professionally checked out. With a little tender loving care, your air conditioner will be good to go all summer long!

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Buying a New Home? Check These Things First 

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Pretty much every homeowner has a maintenance checklist that they follow to ensure that, no matter what season it is, their home stays up-to-date and their appliances are in prime working order. What many people don't realize is how important it is to check appliances out fully when you are buying a new home as well. 

Many potential homeowners just assume that the appliances in the home are of good quality and in great working order. This isn't always the case. In this blog, you'll find a few of the top appliances you should inspect carefully before signing on the dotted line to secure your next home. 

Hot Water Heater

While there may not be water service in the home, you can check that the water heater is in good repair. If there is water service to the house and the electricity is on, make sure that you let the water run until it gets hot, then check to make sure the water heater isn't leaking anywhere. If you're in doubt, you can call a reputable San Diego water heater repair service (or someone local to you) to check it for you. 

Refrigerator

Replacing a refrigerator is expensive, so if there's one in the home you're purchasing, you want to ensure it's in good working order. When checking out the appliances in the home you're purchasing, make sure that the fridge is cooling and freezing properly. Check for rust on the inside as well as the outside of the fridge and check for any possible leaks as well. It's also important to check the gaskets and seals to see if they're sealing properly. If the fridge has been maintained properly then you shouldn't have any problems with it yourself.  

Stove 

Another appliance that is extremely important to your well-being in your new home is the stove. Whether the stove in the home is electric or gas, it needs to be inspected carefully before the purchase of the home is finalized. An oven or stove that is faulty is not only expensive to replace, but it can also be dangerous as well. You want all the burners on the stove to be in good working order.

The oven needs to heat up properly and the clock and timer function should be in good working order as well. It's especially important to be careful when inspecting a gas stove, which is something that might be better left to the professionals.

Test the Outlets

While not an appliance, the outlets that you plug your appliances into need to be checked as well. The last thing you want is to purchase a home, only to find out later that only half of the outlets work. Non-working outlets aren't only aggravating, they can be dangerous as well, depending on why they aren't working. One of the best ways to check your outlets is by bringing your phone charger along for inspection. Test to see if your phone charger works in all outlets, and insist that the ones that don't work get fixed before you make a final decision. 

Take a Peek into the Electrical Panel 

Err on the side of caution and don't leave everything up to your housing inspector. Take a peek inside the electrical panel yourself when doing your own inspection. If the panel is messy, things aren't clearly labeled and wires are jumbled, it could be a sign that the electrical work on the house is messy as well. 

These are just a few of the appliances and other things you should check out before buying a new home. It's better to inspect these things now than have to replace them once you've moved in. 

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How to choose a coffee machine for home?

Any coffee lover knows that there are several ways to make an invigorating drink. You can brew it in a Turk, a coffee maker or an automatic coffee machine – an apparatus that frees the gourmet from the cooking process.

Every coffee lover who wants to enjoy a drink without the big labor and time, should think about buying this equipment.

They all have different ways of making coffee and appearance. In addition, many coffee machines must be washed every time after preparing your favorite drink.

But not many of us want to wash the entire kitchen every time after making coffee, especially if you live in a large private house.

The best option for home is a Nespresso coffee machine.

Nespresso machine is an ideal solution for those who want to spend a minimum of time servicing the device, but at the same time indulge in various types of coffee. Perhaps the main difference between such an apparatus and its analogues is the ability to easily prepare the first cup of one kind, and the second after it - completely different. Unless the varieties themselves can be selected only from the proposed Nespresso capsules. The principle of operation of such a coffee machine is based on passing hot water under high pressure through a coffee capsule containing natural coffee - roasted, ground and pressed. Therefore, the preparation of the drink takes so little time: you need to place the capsule inside the device, substitute the mug, press the button. And also does not completely stain the kitchen.

We’ll talk about how to clean capsule coffee machines later. At the same time, it is worth noting that the hand wash method works pretty well. Unlike ordinary coffee makers, which are preferably washed every day, the capsule coffee machine can be washed once every 1-2 weeks. She does not need to wash more often, since the machine is very slowly dirty and generally keeps its cleanliness for a long time. There are also special flushing capsules for these coffee machines that will do all the work for you.

The device is suitable for people who love modern style and conciseness, because such a coffee machine does not catch the eye and does not attract attention, fits perfectly into the interior and is suitable for a comfortable arrangement of space.

The manufacturers of these coffee machines made a whole line of  best Nespresso capsules. Caffeine-free varieties are available, different versions of espresso, Americano, lungo, latte, etc. For clarity, consider the possible varieties of coffee using the example of the popular manufacturer of capsular coffee Nespresso:


best nespresso capsules

Best Nespresso capsules contain the highest quality traditional coffee that most coffee lovers enjoy.

  1. The Espresso collection contains 7 Nespresso capsules of various intensities containing ground coffee.
  2. Pure Origine Capsules As in the previous paragraph, Pure Origine capsules contain espresso.
  3. The coffee in this collection of 3 Nespresso capsules can be traced back to where it was grown.
  4. Lungo Capsules are used to create a taller beverage.
  5. When making Lungo (“tall” coffee), approximately 2 times more water is used than in espresso.
  6. De Caffeine Capsules are Nespresso special caffeine-free capsules.

There are 3 such capsules in the Nespresso collection. They give tastes of varying intensity.

Conclusion

The coffee machine is practical to use and ideal for home interiors. In addition, they have a huge set of active Nespresso capsules in which everyone finds something for themselves.

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How to protect a child if he is left alone at home?

Is it possible or not to leave a small child alone? The question is complex. Children they are different. The character of the famous film was able to defeat the bandits alone, go to the store and travel around New York alone, gaining valuable life experience and new friends.

But very often children, when they are alone, unfortunately, get injured, get seriously injured or just spoil the appliances and furniture in the house. Therefore, of course, leaving children alone at home is undesirable. But still, you should have left the child at home.

We will analyze all methods of monitoring a child. A special GPS tracker helps to locate the child; it is also called a locator or beacon. This is a compact device in the form of a toy, bracelet, smart watch or sensor, which can be put in a backpack or attached to boots.

The simplest devices for children. If the child has disappeared from the field of view, the parent presses a button on the parent device, after which the child’s sensor makes a loud sound, allowing you to find the child. The range of the tracker is 50 meters. But if your child is older and able to independently move around the house and the area next to him. More “smart” tracking methods include automatic alarms on the child and parent devices if the child is removed at a critical distance (10, 20 or 50 meters, depending on the settings). The new generation beacons operate at a distance of 100 meters and indicate the direction to the “bug” if it has gone beyond a certain perimeter.

The most convenient option kids smart watch

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Benefits

  • Find the child at the moment and send the exact coordinates to the parents;
  • Convey the route of movement of the child;
  • Store the coordinates of certain places (for example, “school,” “circle,” “grandmother’s house”) and send notifications to parents when a child comes and goes there;
  • Receive calls from your smartphone like a real phone;
  • Receive “secret calls” from your smartphone, allowing you to calmly listen to what is happening around the child;
  • Send notifications when the “panic button” is pressed if the child has problems.


Track the baby’s heart rate and turn on the alarm in case of critical indicators. The set of functions may vary from model to model. For example, advanced kids smart watch send you notifications if a child takes them off their hands this especially applies to freedom-loving teens. Or they signal with a built-in sensor that the child got into someone else's car and is going to leave somewhere

As already mentioned, of the watches in the GPS accessory for a child, there is only a shape and a dial. In fact, the watch case is packed with various electronics, the amount of which depends on how advanced your model is.

Inside the watch case there is usually a battery, a GPS module responsible for determining the location, and a SIM card with which data is transmitted to parents. The costs of paying her bill should be included in the home budget.

Also, depending on the model, the watch may have a microphone and speaker for making and receiving calls, a Wi-Fi module and various sensors, for example, an gyroscope and a pedometer.

The watch also has a small built-in memory that allows you to store phone numbers and, in some models, the history of movements over the past few days. The dial of the watch is different: touch, made of shockproof glass or none at all.

Most models of children's GPS watches are equipped with a SOS button that a child can press when he feels dangerous. In this case, the parents will immediately receive an alarm, the coordinates of the baby and will be able to take action.

You can view data using a smart watch through the application installed on your mom or dad’s smartphone. In the simplest version, it contains a map for viewing the child’s movements, a movement log and notifications.

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Why It’s Still a Good Idea to Get Into the Construction Business

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While there may be some talk about a future recession, you may be wondering if it is a good idea to get started in the construction business. Fortunately, the field is growing steadily, which is allowing people to work in the industry that they want. If you are considering starting this type of career, it is important to know how and when to get started. This will help you to work with the right clients to see which option is best suited to your needs.

How In-Demand Are Contractors?

Contractors and construction professionals are in high demand. This is because there will always be a need for professionals who can build and maintain infrastructure regardless of the current economy. Building your own construction business means that you can provide help to local homeowners and businesses, which can be beneficial in terms of the amount of revenue that you receive. The great thing is that the demand for drywall contractors and other construction services remains steady, so you can be working in the field of your choice without it being a problem.

How to Get Started

The best way for you to get started with your new business is to know what type of construction you'd like to do. There are many different categories that you can choose, so knowing what is right for you will help a lot. This is something that will allow you to feel confident in all that you've done, and it will allow you to make the revenue that you need and want to stay afloat. There are a lot of reasons for you to get started, but it is important that you know what you'd like to get involved with when it is most convenient for you. You can easily get going in a way that works for your needs, knowing exactly what you need to begin the career that will keep you going for years to come.

Understanding the Type of Work That’s Needed

There are many different projects that homeowners and business owners will have that you might want to consider for yourself. For example, you might choose to work construction projects that are specific to businesses. This means that you can work for stores, hospitals and other departments that allow you to do your job without fail. On another hand, you may want to consider working for homeowners and providing them with the work that they need for their homes or apartments. This is why so many are choosing to get back into the field themselves, and it is easier to do than you might think.

Now is the time to consider getting back into the construction industry. It is never a bad time to consider starting the career that you either need or want to make your dreams a reality. The most important thing to get started is to have the right education and tools. This allows you to get on the job without any problems coming up while it is being done. You will find that there are many different options for who you might want to work with once you've created your own business. Knowing what type of business or homeowner you'd like to work with when doing construction projects will make a big difference when it comes to actually providing the care that you need for them. You will enjoy the amount that you can receive when doing this type of work.

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getaway

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This’d be a good way to avoid Covid-19, American politics, and city existence overall.

Far North Wilderness Cabin, cc-licensed photo by JLS Photography, Alaska

It is currently very warm up here in Alaska, with temperatures reaching for 80° Fahrenheit in the interior. It is now that we year around northerners melt, and long for autumn. It is also the time of year that cabin doors stand open to let in the slightest breeze. Do the mosquito's swarm in as well? You bet they do - but we'd rather put up with the pesky bugs, than succumb to the heat.

*This cabin looks rather primitive – but when I took a peek behind it, I discovered two small solar panels and a very large LP bottle – so they have all the comforts of home.

 


7 Things to Think About Before You Install Solar Power

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Solar energy is everywhere. Families, business owners, and entire communities are adopting the technology. The number of systems installed has seen a steady rise around the world. The global solar market grew by nearly 30% in 2017 alone. The increase brought the world’s total capacity to over 400 GW.

There are many benefits to using solar at home. The Connect Electric team wants you to consider the following to ensure that your home is prepared for solar installation.

  • Roof Surface Area

Your roof needs to have enough room to accommodate the number of solar panels required to power your home. If you don’t have enough panels, then your system won’t generate enough power to keep up with consumption.

If there isn’t enough surface area on your roof, you may be able to install a ground-level array. Alternatively, you could try a hybrid setup with part of your energy powered using solar and the rest relying on the grid.

  • Roof Integrity

Your roof needs to be strong enough to support the added weight of solar panels and the wires and equipment they need. If you identify damaged or weak points on your roof, now is the time to repair them. This should be done before installation to preserve structural integrity. 

  • Net Metering

If you plan on hooking up to the grid or using net metering to earn money back, make sure you know what is required for your region. Some areas may have fees you have to pay. You should also find out how long hook up will take so you can plan accordingly.

  • Home Optimization

You should take steps to manage your electricity consumption before installing a solar system. The first step is to replace any old or malfunctioning appliances with energy efficient models. Look for those that can handle your household workload while offering the highest efficiency possible. 

  • Reduced Consumption

Along with buying new energy efficient appliances, you should also take steps to reduce your daily consumption wherever possible. This includes things like only running the dishwasher or laundry when there is a full load and turning down the temperature on your water heater. Turn lights off in unoccupied rooms and install a programmable thermostat to control indoor temperature.

  • Solar Financing Options

The initial cost of installing solar panels goes into the thousands of dollars. Now is a good time to look at your financing options. If you have enough cash to pay outright, then that is the easiest option. Otherwise, you may be able to lease your system or obtain a loan.

Don’t forget to check for local and federal tax incentives that can further offset the cost of your installation.

  • Gutters and Rain Runoff

Anything placed on a roof can interrupt the flow of water into gutters and off the structure. Make sure this is accounted for prior to installation. Talk to your installer to figure out how rain runoff will make it to the ground without pooling or damaging equipment or your home.

Doing your research now can help you plan a smooth, hassle-free installation. Contact Connect Electric if you have questions about what you need to do to switch to solar energy.

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How to Clean and Maintain Your Solar Panels

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Solar panels can generate enough electricity to power entire homes and businesses. They are one of the most popular choices for renewable energy. One of the most appealing things about solar is that it requires minimal effort to use. You don’t have to do any heavy-duty maintenance to keep your home running.

Of course, that doesn’t mean there is nothing to be done. You should still take steps to ensure that your array remains in good working order. Most solar systems have a lifespan of 20 to 30 years. Connect Electric wants to help you keep yours working for as long as possible with the following care and maintenance tips.

  • Check Tree Growth to Prevent Shade

There may be no blockages when you install your solar panels, but that can change over time. Trees grow over the years. Their branches will reach further and eventually, one may end up along your roof. When this happens, it can cast a shadow that reduces the amount of sun exposure your panels receive. This will lower energy output.

Keep all trees trimmed back from your roof. You may need to hire a professional to handle this if your home is two stories or more or if you aren’t comfortable climbing a ladder. Removing branches also reduces the risk of storm damage.

  • Monitor Energy Production and Consumption

Many manufacturers include technology to monitor solar production and energy consumption. This can provide insight into how and when your household uses most of its electricity. It’s helpful information if you want to try to reduce consumption and increase surplus energy that can be fed to the grid for credit.

Monitoring performance will also help you identify a problem if one should arise. If you notice a sudden spike in consumption, check your wiring, electronic devices, and appliances for a problem.

  • Clean Your Solar Panels Yearly

Most solar panels should be cleaned at least once a year. This will vary depending on the environment where you live. Some places may require more frequent cleanings. Make sure you adjust your schedule accordingly based on how much dirt and debris ends up on the surface of the panels.

You should try to clean from ground level if you can. You may be able to spray water with a garden hose onto the roof to rinse the panels. If you can safely access them, then a bucket of water with a soft sponge or cloth can work as well. You do not need to clean the wiring under the panels, only the surface.

  • Schedule Maintenance During Cooler Hours

Remember to schedule maintenance during the cooler hours of the day, especially if you plan to get close to the array. The surface can become very hot in direct sunlight. It is best to work in the early morning or toward evening when the sun isn’t at its peak.

Connect Electric can help you keep your solar panels working for years. Contact us to discuss your needs or to request professional maintenance for your array.

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How to Start a Successful Construction Business

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Starting your own construction business can offer several fantastic benefits. This includes the opportunity to be your own boss, manage your own team, and achieve your financial goals. Starting a business takes time and dedication, but any company has the chance to become successful with the right planning and hard work. Here are some useful tips on how to start a construction business: 

Write a quality business plan 

The first step to starting any new company is to write a quality business plan that outlines your specific business goals. This should include details on what action you are going to take to achieve each goal, along with other crucial information such as financial forecasts. Keep in mind that your business plan is a vital document that will guide you throughout your business venture. It will also be presented to investors and financial lenders to convince them to invest in your business. Every business owner should take the time to draft a quality business plan that clearly outlines their short term and long-term business goals. 

Ensure legal compliance 

Starting a company can be complex, and several rules and regulations must be followed to ensure legal compliance. The legal requirements vary between states and countries, so you must do your research before starting a construction company. For instance, labor laws in Mexico are different from those in force in the United States. Understanding the business laws in your location will help you avoid any costly fines later down the line. If you’re unsure what legal standards apply, then it’s always best to seek professional advice from a specialist business lawyer. 

Develop strong marketing strategies 

You should start marketing your construction company as soon as possible to build brand awareness and generate new business. Marketing campaigns will be key to the success of your company, so take the time to conduct thorough market research and develop quality campaigns that reflect your brand image. Try to use a variety of online and offline marketing techniques to increase the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. For instance, combine print marketing like flyers and business cards, with digital marketing such as social media and email marketing. According to smallbusiness.chron.com, you can enhance your marketing by promoting your construction experience, specializing in a particular area of construction, and offering a generous referral program to encourage existing customers to recommend your products and services. 

Don’t forget to apply for liability insurance 

Liability insurance is essential for any business. If you don’t have insurance, then you will be personally liable for accidents and injuries that occur in the workplace, as well as any damage or theft of property. If you do not have the finances to cover these costs, then you risk having to declare bankruptcy and close your business. For that reason, you must take out insurance when starting a new construction company. Opt for general liability insurance and make sure that it offers the correct level of cover to protect your business in all possible situations. 

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Long-Term Upgrades for Your Home

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These homestead upgrades aren’t for the house flippers, the keeping-up-with-the-Joneses, or the downsizing empty-nesters. They’re not quick and flashy, and you can’t hammer your way through the list over a long weekend. These upgrades are for the craftsmen who love their homes and plan to stick around for awhile – a long while. They’re for the homeowner who admires clean lines and straight edges, who thinks long and hard before ever picking up a tool, and who can learn to be patient.

Open Up Your Floor Plan

Maybe you’re lucky and your home came with what is called an “entertainer’s floor plan.” Maybe your kitchen already opens to the dining room and primary living/family room, complete with fireplace, vaulted ceilings, and French doors to a side patio. But there’s a high probability that your home did not come this way; and so you’ve got a good project that will take you a good, long time, and once you have finished, it will feel like you’re in a completely new living space. And everyone will say, “I thought that was never going to be finished,” but they’ll be so happy they suffered through all the dust.

Add a Second Kitchen – Outside

This project can be as involved as you want to make it. Ideally, an outdoor kitchen is equipped with refrigeration, a sink with running water, and some kind of equipment to cook on. Your cooktop could be a traditional range or, since you’re outside, a gas grill. If you opt for a grill, you can choose between freestanding and built-in options; just remember that a built-in model will probably feel like more of an upgrade.

Then… A Built-In Firepit

When the evenings aren’t too warm and aren’t too cold, there’s nothing quite like spending time around a firepit. The flames mesmerize, and the camaraderie feels that much more special. As with the outdoor cooking set-up, you once again have a variety of options; you may consider gas for its ease of operation and because it does not tend to flood your backyard with smoke the way wood-burning fire pits do.

Back Inside for a Bathroom Remodel

A well-remodeled bathroom will bring you more joy than all the popcorn ceiling removal and all the carpet upgrades in the world. One area of primary focus should be that of reforming your showering experience into one that rivals a luxurious hotel; it’s honestly not that difficult to do. Some in your home might really appreciate updated toilets, and if you live in a colder climate, heated toilet seats may not be out of order.

Nothing Says Pride of Ownership Quite Like Mature Landscaping

If you plan to live in your home for a long time, begin landscaping early on with an eye to the future - the distant future. Plant trees now that might take several years to come into their own, and before you know it you’ll be happy you made that decision. Mature landscaping is not unlike an overnight success; everybody will see (and probably envy) the sudden manifestation of awesomeness, but you’ll know that it took years of hard work. 

Update Your Fencing

Finally, let’s look at your fencing situation. If you’re still rocking the chain link fence that came with your home, you might want to consider installing something nicer. Because fence work is hard physical labor and can be difficult to do correctly, many homeowners bring in professionals. However, if you’re willing to put in the effort, you can save money on labor and spend those savings on the materials instead; this will result in a far more enjoyable fence. Don’t rule out privacy hedges and other forms of perimeter landscaping. While it may take some time for these plants to serve their purpose, they will grow soon enough, and you’ll be happy you got a head start.

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Three Ways to Refresh Your Home Décor With Yarn

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Whether you’ve lived in the same home for decades, or just moved in to a brand-new house, your interior décor speaks volumes about you. It suggests your sense of what is beautiful by how you arrange colours and shapes, and your sense of order by how well you optimize for open space. Guests will get a feel for your personality from any item you display, so every new edition is worth thinking through.

One way to be unique and pave your own stylistic lane is to accent your home with custom pieces in yarn. The projects you choose should be made from a sturdy acrylic yarn that will stand up to heavy use over the long term. The yarn should also come in the colours that go best with your existing furniture. That way, the pieces can become integral parts of the ambiance and gain character as your relationships with them deepen. Red Heart is one brand that comes to mind that fits the bill. Check the link to buy Red Heart yarn online and read up on what the manufacturer has to offer.

Without further ado, here are three ideas to jumpstart your home décor with yarn.

A Knitted Blanket

What better way to zhuzh up a living room than to add a splash of colour to the couch with a warm and fuzzy blanket? Just make sure to pick a pattern that complements the couch’s design. Here are a handful of crowd-pleasers for potential pairings:

  • Pinstripes
  • Ripples or waves
  • Chevron
  • Cables

The contrast is especially effective on monochromatic couches, but will work well so long as you choose your colours carefully. Don’t be afraid to go bold with it. Use this colour coordinator to come up with breathtaking combinations.

Yarn Wall Art

Showcasing your kids’ creativity is a great way to show them you’re proud and encourage them to keep sharing their ideas with the world. Find fun crochet or knitting tutorials online that suit their likes and abilities and have a weekend craft day together. Before buying supplies, have the kids try out a single crochet stitch and a garter stitch to see which one they find easier.

There is plenty of joy to be had from making memories and adorning your walls with them to cherish each and every day. Take advantage of the loads of free patterns online suitable for the whole family.

Crochet Baskets

An easy way to free up space and be fashionably tidy is to use crochet baskets for storage around the home. Use them for slippers next to your recliner for easy access, or for the pile of remotes that came with your state-of-the-art entertainment system.

Baskets are also perfect projects for beginners because you can repeat single crochet stitches all the way through. If you’re looking for an artistic outlet that engages as much as it does away with stress, crochet could be just the thing for you. 

Regardless of how much time you’ve spent in your home, a fresh new look is never more than a few careful adjustments away. Summon your inner interior designer and let yarn be the missing link between your home’s current aesthetic and how fabulous you think it can be.

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What Causes Roaches in a Clean House?

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Nobody likes seeing cockroaches, there is simply something about the way they scurry around that sends a shiver up your back. The instant assumption, when seeing a cockroach, is that you have a dirty home.

But, while cockroaches are attracted to dirty homes, that doesn’t mean you won’t find them in a clean home. Of course, if you do see signs of a cockroach infestation then you’ll want to call the professional exterminators as soon as possible.

Cockroaches, like most other pests, look for food, water, and shelter. They also carry an array of diseases including polio and typhoid. That’s why you should find out more about your local pest control experts now.

This is why the obvious target is a dirty home, any place that isn’t cleaned regularly will have crumbs on the floor, they may be tiny to you but they can be big enough to feed a roach for several days. But, if you’re confident your home is clean then consider the following factors which will all increase the likelihood of roaches finding their way into your home:

Where You Live

Unfortunately, if you live in the warmer states, such as Georgia, Alabama, or Florida you’re almost certainly going to get a roach or two in at some point.

The good news is that if you have a clean home it’s more likely to be a cockroach that has snuck in rather than a sign of an infestation.

Repairs

Keeping your home clean removes the food temptation. But, have you checked the interior and exterior of your home for potential entry points? Cockroaches can get through a crack or hole that is just 1/16 of an inch thick. Your home may be clean but it still offers shelter and potentially a source of water. Cockroaches will be attracted to this, you need to block up potential entry points. 

Door Spacing

It’s easy to overlook the small gap between your door and the floor, an essential gap for smooth opening and closing. This gap presents an opportunity for the cockroach to enter. You need to install dust bars. These are small brushes that fit on the bottom of your doors and prevent the roaches, and other pests, from getting through. The door can still open and close as normal.

It’s also a good idea to check the gaps around pipes coming in and out of the house, these are prime access points for roaches and other pests.

Eliminating the entry point for roaches will stop most other pests trying. 

Don’t Panic

If you do see signs of a roach infestation then you need to react quickly. Roaches breed at an impressive rate, the quicker you deal with the issue the less they’ll breed and cause issues for you in the future. 

You’ll know you have an issue if you have the following symptoms:

  • Unpleasant and unidentified odor
  • Brown or black cylindrical droppings
  • Discarded skins where they’ve shed as they’re growing
  • Smear marks on the floor and edges of the walls

If you see signs get expert help immediately!

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Upgrades You May Want to Consider During a Major Home Renovation

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There’s an extensive amount of work that takes place during a home renovation. Appliances and fixtures are removed, floors are pulled up, and walls are demolished. All this construction, eventually, creates a blank canvas for homeowners to have transformed into a space that is safe and comfortable to reside in. As all this is going on, however, renovations also bring to light things within the property that need to be enhanced in order to prevent future problems and/or to make life easier.

As matters such as these listed below arise, homeowners will have to make an informed decision on whether or not they should consider an upgrade.

Electrical

Knocking down walls, pulling up floors, and removing appliances and fixtures will often expose electrical wiring throughout the house. Contractors will often recommend that homeowners consider electrical upgrades if there were faulty or damaged wires, the system no longer complies with local building codes, or the electrical power in the home wasn’t sufficient enough to withstand the new renovations (for example, if you’re getting a home theater, you might need an upgraded power source to ensure it will operate efficiently).

You would then need to look to resources like PacmanElectric.com services for assistance with an energy audit, electrical wiring upgrade, panel installations, and repairs. Sometimes, it may be ideal to have an electrician come to your home at some point during the renovation. For instance, if you were having your kitchen upgraded but always felt like there were not enough electrical sockets in the kitchen, now would be the best time to have them installed before closing walls back up and adding more appliances.

Plumbing

When it comes to kitchen and bathroom renovations especially, it may be determined that you need to have your plumbing upgraded. This is particularly true if you’ve got rusted pipes or water, water flow issues, flooding, leaks, or mold. If you ignore these issues when they are brought to your attention, you will surely run into problems later. As most pipes and plumbing fixtures are hidden behind walls and other equipment, trying to fix the problem later on means that you’ll have to have your newly renovated kitchen or bathroom damaged again in order for the plumber to resolve the problem.

HVAC

Another area that you may want to consider upgrading during a renovation is the heating and cooling system. Most households utilize their HVAC systems all year long. The constant wear and tear (even with regular maintenance) eventually cause the unit to not work as efficiently. If your system is more than 10 years old, has caused a spike in your electrical bills, doesn’t get the room to the right temperature, constantly needs repairs, or makes loud noises, an upgrade is definitely worth considering. You might also want work done on your HVAC system if you’re interested in installing vents in rooms that don’t have them or if you’re adding a new room or extending your home.

Tech Upgrades

Home automation has become increasingly popular these days. Not only does having technology into your home provide comfort, safety, and convenience, but it can save you money and increase the resale value of your property. Depending on the type of tech you’re thinking of installing or updating in your home, it will require hardwiring which means it is best to consider it while renovations are underway. Some upgrades you might benefit from are a programmable thermostat, USB outlets, security systems, built-in speakers, energy-efficient lighting, or a home automation system. If you are contemplating some tech upgrades in the home, be sure to make this known to the contractor prior to construction so that it can be incorporated into the layout and added to the renovation schedule.

When you think of renovating your home you often think about what you want done, how much you can afford, who you’re going to hire, and how long it will take to complete. While these are all important things to consider, adding upgrades to your list of considerations (and your budget) is highly recommended. As you can see from above, the right renovations can prevent problems down the line, save you money, increase your property value, and provide your household with enhanced safety, comfort, and convenience.

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4 ways to save more time in the kitchen as a busy parent

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We’re pretty sure you’ve heard – and experienced – the news. Life as a parent is tough. All of that disposable time that you once had has since evaporated, and you are left scratching your head at just how to manage your day-to-day life as efficiently as possible.

It would be fair to say that the kitchen feels like one of the biggest areas of the home with the most pressure associated with it. After all, this has quickly become a common room for families to come together, as well as being the place where much of the cooking and cleaning chores take place.

This is why we have dedicated today's article all about the kitchen, and just how a busy parent can save time within it. Let's jump into some fast tips to help you along.

Make sure your appliances are working as efficiently as possible

When we talk about appliances, we're mainly referring to dishwashers, washing machines and dryers.

If you don't have any of these in your home, we'd strongly urge you to obtain one now. Fortunately, the time it takes to install a washing machine and other such appliances is really insignificant in comparison to the use you will get out of it. Additionally, if you happen to be a new parent, having these time-saving appliances on hand is absolutely crucial. It sure beats heading to the launderette, or washing the dishes by hand.

Your freezer is crucial to your success

If you are serious about making the most of your kitchen from a time perspective, at least tap into the full benefits of your freezer. This is something that allows you to meal prep, and just cook in bulk which can help your plight significantly from a time point of view.

Additionally, if you can stock it up with packed vegetables or side dishes, it becomes one of those go-to areas for food when times really are getting tough and the day seems to be running away from you.

Double up on your recipes

Following on from the previous point, an easy tip is to double up on your recipes and then take advantage of the freezer.

Far too many of us only cook for the here and now. Instead, cook for the next few days. You don't have to eat it all at once (you have a freezer, after all), but it will shave significant portions of time from your food preparation activities.

Your kitchen counters need to be cleared at all times

Finally, let’s conclude with a point about clutter. Your worksurfaces are something that can sometimes feel the brunt of clutter and before you know it you have them stocked with toasters, condiments and anything else that makes their way onto them.

Have a strict rule to avoid the above. As soon as clutter breaches these surfaces, it won’t stop. It will start to take over and you’ll soon be struggling to carry out basic tasks. Not only that, but clutter can affect your mental health, as strange as that might seem to some of you.

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Home Maintenance Checklist

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Keeping your home clean is a matter of daily and weekly chores, but keeping it well maintained takes work throughout the whole year. Some tasks around your house become big projects, so you don’t need to worry about them every day. Simply create a checklist of things you know you need to check on monthly, quarterly, and annually to keep your home safe. Here’s an example list to get you started. 

Monthly

  • Clean HVAC Filters

Checking and cleaning your filters will help improve the air quality and performance of the system in your home. Some HVAC filters are reusable while some must be replaced. If you check your filters every month you’ll know when you need to replace them. 

  • Check Gutters

Gutters help keep water from damaging your home, but it’s hard for the gutter to do its job if it is full of debris. Each month, look for any damage to your gutters or for anything that could be blocking water’s path and take care of it.

  • Inspect Water Softener

Water softeners help to eliminate hard water and protect your plumbing. If you don’t inspect your water softener and replenish its salt levels often, it could start leaving mineral deposits on your shower, toilet, and your hair. 

  • Look For Deteriorating Caulk

Caulk gives your home a finished look. Not only that, but caulk also helps prevent water damage. When you notice any deteriorating caulk in your home, you should patch it up right away to avoid any damages. 

Quarterly

  • Spray for Pests

Spraying for pests each quarter will help ensure a pest-free property all year long. Plus, some pests are more likely to appear during certain times of the year. Hiring a service like ifyardbutler.com for quarterly spraying will help eliminate pests from your home altogether. 

  • Inspect Roofing

Your roof keeps you safe, so if there’s a problem, like a leak, termites, or structural problem, it poses a safety risk for your family. Take time each season to inspect your roof (with binoculars or hire a contractor) for any missing shingles or tiles or any possible areas of destruction. 

  • Check Fire Alarms

Fire alarms are also there to keep you and your family safe from fires. Checking them will either ensure that they are working and will keep you safe, or will notify you that you need to replace the batteries. 

Annually

  • Clean Chimney

A clean chimney will help keep the air in your home pure and breathable. Even if you don’t use your fireplace often, the chimney still carries gases from your furnace outside, so make sure it’s checked by a professional every year—preferably before the cold season starts. 

  • Check Septic Tank

Usually, a septic tank doesn’t need to be cleaned every year, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have it checked. Septic tank emergencies can be expensive and unpleasant, so have it inspected annually and cleaned as it needs it. 

  • Inspect Foundation

The foundation is extremely important to your home. You should check to make sure there are no cracks that could lead to damaging your home or any depressions outside that could trap water or snow against the foundation. 

Don’t let your home maintenance get away from you — make a list!

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5 Things to do Before Remodeling Your Basement

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There are tons of ideas out there for what you can turn your dingy, dark, yet huge and oddly appealing basement into. But, before you do, you need to be sure your basement is ready and up for the task. Keeping that in mind, read on below for a few of the top things you should do before your basement remodel begins to ensure it’s ready for the process.

Whether the goal is a mother-in-law suite (zoning permitting) to a game room complete with a stereo system for the kids, remodeling and finishing the basement is one job you’ll be glad you did — and did right.

Make Sure Your Plan Is Legal

Between zoning laws, homeowner's associations and even historical societies, there are a lot of people who want to control what you can build in your basement. Make sure you or your contractor obtain all the necessary permits and inspections needed before, during and after the job. This will ensure the work is up to code in terms of any plumbing and electrical work, which in turn, keeps you and your family safer. This is especially if you’re thinking about getting a gaming room; it’s always better to be safe when you have equipment like a laptop for gamers in that room.

One thing to note, in many cases, no matter how beautiful the workmanship and design are, a finished basement will not be considered livable space and will not add to the legal square footage of your home. Be sure to check your local building and zoning codes for limitations and restrictions.

Fix Any Water Damage

Water damage is serious, and you want to find and fix it as soon as possible, especially before you start any construction. Not only should you check for water damage, you should check to see if there are any moisture issues at all. Just as with water damage, moisture coming in through the windows or the foundation of the basement needs to be dealt with right away. If you put off fixing these problems, then your new basement will become damaged and you'll be in for much more costly repairs.

Insulate Your Utility Pipes

If you have exposed water pipes anywhere on the outside wall of your basement, you’re going to want to insulate them before you close them in with your remodel. This ensures that you’re not suffering from heat loss in the winter months through those pipes and will help with your heating bills as well. It also ensures that your pipes won't freeze and burst over a long hard winter and that condensation doesn't back up and drip down into your walls as well.

Make Sure You Have Enough Headroom

Talk the contractor you have remodeling your basement to ensure that the basement is going to have enough headroom, because if it doesn't, then the room might not be up to code. Homes that were built in the 1950s often had very little headroom in the basement, which meant the ceilings and pipes hung too low. If your basement ceiling is too low, you might have to make adjustments to bring it up to code first. Besides, it will be a whole lot more fun to be in your basement if you don't have to bend over to do so.

Take Your Budget into Consideration

When determining what to turn your basement into, and all of the things above, it’s important to take your budget into consideration as well. Budget for everything from materials and contractors to inspections and cost overruns. And don't forget the extra cost of heating and cooling the basement.

These are just a few of the things that you need to consider when looking to renovate your basement. Taking care of these things ahead of time will ensure your basement is done on schedule and that your family has a fun place to hang out for many years to come.

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The Best Bungalow Communities in Southern California

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The humble bungalow in all of its various iterations is easily one of the most popular home styles found throughout southern California. Thanks to their sloping roofs, dormer windows, and exposed rafters, they boast a distinctive look that's pleasing to the eye. Here are a few great places to score a bungalow in Southern California that you will love.

San Marcos

One of the most attractive communities in the North County area, San Marcos is just 40 minutes away from San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter. You'll find plenty of Craftsman bungalows along its quiet streets at a variety of price points. Like most communities in Southern California, the average price of housing in San Marcos is higher than the national average. What’s more, homes for sale get sold fast. With this in mind, those buying a bungalow should seek out credit unions in San Marcos instead of a traditional bank This ensures the best mortgage possible. This is recommended for other communities listed below.

North Park, San Diego

Like most neighborhoods around Balboa Park, North Park is a treasure trove of Craftsman and California bungalows. The Dryden Historic District, in particular, is stacked to the rafters with turn-of-the-century houses that have been meticulously maintained. Buying a vintage bungalow in this zip code is sure to be a winning investment if you can secure a deal on an older model.

Mission Hills, San Diego

Located just north of downtown San Diego, Mission Hills still retains much of its historic look despite urban renewal projects. This neighborhood is so in love with bungalows that their latest library boasts a Craftsman-style aesthetic. If you love bungalows, Mission Hills is a prime hunting ground for quality Craftsman cottages that have stood the test of time.

Woods Streets, Riverside

Developed around 1913 when Riverside was expanding rapidly, the Woods Streets community has a number of period homes worth considering. Many old Craftsman and California bungalows dot the local streets, imbuing the neighborhood with a unique feel that's unrivaled throughout southern California. What's more, the average home price in this zip code will make central Los Angeles residents envious.

Bungalow Heaven, Pasadena

Centered around McDonald Park, this residential enclave originally featured as many as 800 bungalows of all shapes and sizes. Bungalow lovers continue to flock to this landmark district to partake in tours of the most prominent houses in the area. Located less than 10 minutes from Old Pasadena, Bungalow Heaven offers quick access to a slew of recreational options.

Belmont Heights, Long Beach

Along with Bungalow Heaven, Belmont Heights has one of the highest concentrations of Craftsman homes in all of Southern California. Once an independent city, this community is one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Long Beach. The Belmont Heights Historic District and the Eliot Lane Historic District are top destinations for bungalow fanatics that prioritize proximity to the beach.

Eagle Rock

While Eagle Rock tends to fly under the radar when it comes to Los Angeles neighborhoods, this area is a bungalow lover's dream thanks to a bevy of historic buildings. Due to rapid gentrification, Eagle Rock is now one of the most popular neighborhoods in the entire city. If you can find a bungalow up for sale, it's best to make an offer quickly.

Finding the Best Deal on Your Ideal Bungalow

Getting the most out of your southern California bungalow hinges on two factors. First, you need to make sure that the house has good bones. Second, you'll need to locate a lender that can finance your mortgage at a favorable rate. In any event, there's no shortage of fine bungalows in the locales mentioned here.

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Things People Don’t Consider When Choosing a Town to Live In

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Looking for a home or apartment is more complicated than it may appear. For someone who has never done it before, it may seem as though you simply look for places you like within a price range you can afford. In actuality, however, there’s a lot more to it. Similar to selecting a destination to travel to, you want a location that encompasses everything that accommodates your needs and interests. You look at more than just the hotel or vacation rental, but the local culture, activities, attractions, and more. 

Though on a larger scale than choosing a vacation destination (you’ll be living in your home or apartment a lot longer than you’ll be on vacation), it is important to be thorough in your research about the property, the neighborhood, and other factors to ensure it is in fact a town where your immediate and long-term needs and interests are met. 

With that being said, beyond finding the perfect home or apartment in the right price range, here are some other things to consider before deciding which town to make your new home: 

Local Government

You don’t have to be a political person, but you should know about the local government wherever you plan on moving to. These are the people that make decisions for the city you choose to reside in. They are responsible for the parks and recreation, housing services, emergency medical services, public works, public transportation, the police and fire departments, building codes, and much more. Though no local municipality is perfect, moving into an area that doesn’t line up with what you believe or a government that does not provide adequate services and treatment for their residents can make living there a lot more challenging.

Cost of Living

Sure, you can afford the home or apartment you’re interested in moving into, but can you reasonably afford to live in the town you’ve chosen? The cost of living in a particular area is the ballpark amount required to cover basic necessities like housing, taxes, healthcare, food, etc. If you can afford a place to stay but can’t afford to keep up with the taxes, buy groceries, or obtain adequate health coverage, chances are moving to this town will put a financial strain on you.

Public Transportation and/or Walkability

Whether you drive a car or not, when deciding which town is best to move to, you should find out about the area’s public transportation or walkability rating. You never know when your vehicle could breakdown causing you to have to use other means of transportation to get around. So, you want to know that there is public transportation that would get you to and from places like your job, your house, a school, or a shopping center for groceries and other necessities.

If public transportation isn’t highly accessible, then at the very least, things should be easy to walk or ride a bike to (walkability rate). If you wanted to live in Cypress, California, for example, can you easily walk to work, walk the kids to school, or ride your bike to shopping centers or gyms in Cypress? Or, would you have to carpool or use ridesharing services to get to those places?

Employment Opportunities

Unless you’re planning on keeping the job you currently have, you’ll need a new one once you move. Before putting a down payment or deposit on a place, find out if you’ll be able to secure a job in the area you’re interested in moving to. There would be nothing worse than getting a place and then going into foreclosure or getting evicted because you couldn’t find a job to keep up with the expenses. Do research to not only see if there are opportunities available, but that these opportunities are aligned with your skills, education, and professional area of expertise.

School Systems

If you’re relocating with children, doing a thorough investigation into the school systems is also recommended. It is not enough that a city or town has schools, but how effective are these schools in providing an education to their students? What resources do they have? What’s the teacher to student ratio? Where do they rank in the local and national standardized testing each year? How large are their graduating classes? What type of curriculum do they use? These are all necessary questions to have answers to before deciding to move into a town where your children will essentially grow up.

Your next home purchase or apartment rental is more than just about what you like about the property and what you can afford. It is essentially choosing a place for you and potentially your family to reside for years to come. In order to ensure that your immediate and long-term needs and desires are met, it is imperative that you go beyond the purchase or rental price and look at factors like the local government, transportation, school systems, cost of living, and employment opportunities such as described above.

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Simple Ways to Update and Add Style to Your Home

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The thrill of purchasing a new home is a fantastic feeling, but for the most part it’s not fully yours until you’ve added your spin to it. Where should you start though? Here are a few ideas on how you can transform your house into a home you can be proud to own. Get the ball rolling with some nature-based modifications. 

Instituting Natural Materials 

If there’s anything that can instantly add style to your home and update the look and feel of the space, is an interesting floor. With all of the materials that are now readily available as flooring, including bamboo, you can create a space in your home where entertaining guests will be a breeze. Using natural materials throughout your home will uplift your space while adding unmistakable character. Start with your most popular gathering point, such as the living room and then migrate your efforts to the dining room and kitchen. When it’s all said and done, you should have a wonderful space to come home to at the end of a long day.

Add a Water System

Though it might not seem glamorous and for the most part it can be overlooked, updating your homes water system is beneficial. Hard water is a thing and it can wreak havoc on your plumbing. Also, it leaves unsightly stains that will drive you up the wall. If you are in the Santa Monica area, water softener Los Angeles can make hard water a thing of the past. You’ll instantly see an improvement in your water as a water softener will reduce water spots on your pots, pans, dishware and glasses. It’s an update that will have you asking “why haven’t we done this earlier?”

Colors Can Make a Difference

No matter which room you're talking about, the colors on your wall can make a big difference in the appearance of your space and the mood it sets. If you're looking to spruce up your home, a new coat of paint can be a simple fix. Choosing colors that pair well with each other and play to an overall scheme is the way to go. Look to add colors that will improve your mood as soon as you step into the room. Depending on the feel you're going for, there’s a hue to suit nearly every style. Decide between various blues, greens and yellows to bring your space to life. 

Spending Time in the Kitchen

It’s the space in any home where you spend a lot of you waking hours creating meals, so why shouldn’t it look awesome? Updating the look of your cabinetry is both cost-effective and easy to do. Start with choosing a new color or stain and replace the old hardware with something a little more modern and stylish. And if you’re feeling adventurous, add in new kitchen fixtures and appliances. This route will run you more money than simply updating your cabinetry but your efforts will be rewarded, as your kitchen will look amazing. 

A Bathroom Retreat

One of the last places you can and should update in your home is the bathroom. Here you can implement a few of the prior ideas such as color and materials, while also adding in new pieces such as a stylish sink and elegant bathtub. Combining all of these ideas and creating something beautiful will provide you with a little retreat in your home to call your own. Just imagine a tiring day at work and a grueling commute back home. Terrible right? But the payoff is a bubble bath and a good book in your newly renovated bathroom. This way, you can let all of the stresses of your day, simply melt and wash away. 

Updating your rooms can be as simple or involved as you like. The important part is that at the end of the day, you're happy with the space you've created. 

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5 Steps to a Successful Home Remodel

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Remodeling your home will renew your love for it and increase its market value. You will also repair broken or worn-out things you never got around to working on and replace broken fixtures. Everything will look better, feel better, and work better. 

Your project will be successful if you approach it methodically. You must create a detailed home improvement plan, create a budget, hire contractors, and figure out a reasonable timeline. Here are the five steps you should take to convert your pipe dream into a project: 

Step #1: Dare to Dream 

Now it’s time to dream. To get ideas, browse interior design magazines, surf the Internet to check out home-and-design websites, and talk to family and friends who have done remodeling their homes. 

Think about your ideal scene:

Do you want to slash your electric bill? A residential roofing company can add solar panels to your existing roof. Converting sunlight into energy will help you lower your electric bill. 

Do you want to convert the basement into a home office? If you’re planning on working from home, it would be wonderful to have your own fully functional office space. 

Do you need to increase security measures? Call a home security company to get ideas on the latest home security technology. 

Do you love to cook? Maybe it’s time to consider updating your kitchen

Don’t hamper your creativity with an excess of commonsense. You can rein in your enthusiasm later. For now, let your imagination run wild and free. 

Step #2: Get Realistic 

After you’ve created your ideal scene, figure out the cost of your project and its duration. If you consult the Cost vs. Value report for 2020, you‘ll get a rough idea of how much your renovations will cost. You will also have to work out how you will finance your project.

Step #3: Hire the Right People 

Once you have a clear idea of your plans, budget, and schedule, your next order of business is to search for a reputable design-build firm. This is a general contracting firm that uses architectural engineers, structural engineers, and specialty trade contractors to provide homeowners with design and construction services. Another option is to search for an architect familiar with residential design experience and a general contractor. 

This is the time to ask a lot of questions about the nature of the work, as well as get a good idea of what problems might arise during renovation and what to do about them. 

Step #4: Shop for Building Supplies

After you’ve found the right people to work on your project, shop for everything you will need for your project. 

Your shopping list might include: 

  • Paint 
  • Cabinets 
  • Tiles
  • Carpet 
  • Plumbing fixtures 
  • Countertops 
  • Lighting fixtures 

Step #5: Understand the Scope of the Work 

The contractor will organize a meeting with you to discuss the details of the renovation work.  Some things you and the contractor will discuss will include deciding when workers should arrive and leave, where to place the dumpster, how to store work tools and building materials, and so on. 

After the work begins, the contractor will update you on weekly progress in person, by email, text, or phone. The contractor will expect you to respond quickly if there are construction problems that need to be resolved.

Winding-up the Project  

Once the work is near completion, you and the contractor will tour the remodeled sections and make a list of what the work crew should complete or touch up. 

After the work crew cleans up the area, the contractor will ask you to make your final payments and you’ll get a lien release document and a certificate of completion. However, don’t sign off on the work until it meets your expectations.

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Useful Tips for Rental Property Owners

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Buying and owning residential rental properties can be a very lucrative venture. However, to be successful, you should have a plan going in and commit to never stop learning ways to improve. 

The following tips outline some of the best choices you can make as a rental property investor:

Opt for Hardwood Flooring

Not only is hardwood flooring more desirable among most tenants, but it also makes life as a landlord much easier. Hardwood lasts longer and is much easier to clean and maintain. Carpet often gets soiled very quickly, leaving your property in an undesirable state to live for prospective tenants until you opt for deep cleaning or replacement. This amounts to added investment for property owners, which they can avoid by sticking to hardwood floors. While not immune to damage and destruction, hardwood equates to less hassle. This, ultimately, equates to less money spent on your rental property.

Utilize A Property Management Service

Unless you own very few properties and are capable of managing every aspect of them yourself, you will likely be more successful working with a property manager. For this reason, finding property management in Fort Myers and other cities is a worthwhile investment for most rental property owners. Professional property management takes care of many of the most difficult aspects of renting a property; screening tenants, collecting rent, arranging for maintenance and handling tenant issues. They also have a network of professionals they can turn to for maintenance, legal matters, specialized contract work and others who can help you run your rental in a high-class manner. It’s a small price to pay for the assurance that these and other important aspects of rental property management are addressed in a timely and professional manner.

Allow Pets But Have Rules

Renters of the younger generations love their pets and allowing pets is a very desirable amenity among a large swath of renters. However, pets can be a nightmare for a landlord, causing damage and issues with other tenants. Although most landlords are under the impression that cats cause fewer problems than dogs, cats can actually leave more odor and be more destructive. If you want to be covered financially in case pets do damage to your property, try getting landlord insurance. You should compare landlord insurance online before buying, but it can save you a lot of money in times of issues. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons and decide whether to be a pet-friendly property owner. If you opt to not allow pets, do consider being flexible with those who have proven themselves good, responsible tenants.

Consider Renting By the Room

Most single-family homes available for rent are rented for a lump monthly sum. However, you have another option: you can rent the property by room. Renting by the room can be a great idea depending on the property's location, such as if it is close to a college campus. Renting each room individually usually allows you to justify charging more overall for rent since the cost is split among several people. This strategy has its drawbacks, such as a greater potential for roommate problems and a rate of higher maintenance issues, but is still worth considering.

Get All Necessary Permits for Upgrades

Eventually, you will want to install various upgrades in all of the rental properties you own. The laws governing these upgrades and additions will vary widely by state, local municipality and homeowners association, so be sure what you are planning is allowed. For example, converting garages into living space may not be legal without a proper permit. If you are working with a professional contractor, request a copy of their insurance and licensing information and keep it on file as well as make sure they pull proper permits to do the work. Be sure to only schedule updates that you can justify the cost with higher rent.

Renting a property provides a variety of challenges but ultimately can be a very rewarding experience. Leverage a qualified network of professionals to help you and make measured and educated choices. Doing so can drastically increase your chances of success.

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Which Interior Decor Design Matches Personality?

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Ever wonder why you like a particular style of interior design for your place? This is because your taste of interior design is based on your personality!

Let us go through the interior decor trends for 2020 and find which one suits your personality. 

  • Interior Décor Design

There are considerable options for you in decorating interior of home. You can use trendy and modern furniture with classic colours or you like to keep it low key and sophisticated. Every choice defines your personality. If you are an artistic guy, then you will prefer to have your walls and floors designed artistically, your furniture would give the vibes of fresh air even though the windows are closed. 

You check magazines and internet to explore the options of interior decorating however, the choice that you make would always reflect your personality. Secondly, your personality is influenced by various experiences and it is made up from your interest and traits that defines your personal.

  • Personality

Are you a talkative person or likes to remain quiet? You prefer outdoor sports or indoor? Are you stylish of sophisticated? Believe it or not, these things impact your choices in and living style. Let we tell you how you can choose particular decoration of interior design according to your personality.

  • Interior Décor Design and Personality

If you are organised and professional person, you would definitely go for simple and functional interior design. Your choice of colour would black, white and neutral primary colours. Furthermore, your personality would let you choose sleek and spacious for your place.

If your noble and elegant person who likes to have balanced life, you would definitely go for historical and full of heritage decoration in interior design. Moreover, your personality of elegance and gracefulness would go for colours like beige, gold and olive.

Your choice of Scandinavian interior décor design is based on your friendly and elegant personality. You prefer thinks simple, yet stylish and comfortable. Timber tones are whitewashed colour would be the one that most admires you. 

If you are an introverted personality, then you would go for simplest interior design as drawing attention makes you nervous and you like things simple and aesthetic.

If you are lively person than your preference would be trendy and classic as you would like the aesthetic in a trendy manner and your design would drives towards relaxing flair of rustic aesthetics.

If you are social and outdoorsy then your admiration comes from creative and fresh interior design and you want home your home to embrace colours and freshness into your life, thus reflect your choice of shabby interior décor design.

Conclusion

We believe every individual consist of different personality and their preference would vary according to it. But in terms of interior design, the surrounding highly impact your living quality and provides you with comfort, so your personality defines the interior décor design.

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Safety Tips for Heating Your Home this Winter 

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From preparing your yard to buying the kids winter clothing, you've worked hard to ensure everything is ready for the brutal winter that has been predicted for much of the country. Even so, it's surprising to note that many homeowners neglect to follow the safety tips needed to heat their homes after the snow starts to fall. 

There are many things that can happen when heating your home during the winter months that can end in fire and tragedy for your property and the people you love. While it is true that you need to heat your home during the fall and winter of the year, you need to be extremely careful to prepare that home and the equipment you will use. 

Have Your Heater Inspected

The first thing you'll need to do before flipping the switch on your heating unit that first chilly morning is have a reputable residential heating and air conditioning professional come out and inspect the unit. From frayed wiring to malfunctioning units, much can happen over the spring and summer months to make your unit unsafe to use. Calling in the heating professionals to inspect and repair anything that is needed will go a long way toward keeping you and your family warm and safe this winter. 

Have the Chimney Cleaned and Inspected

While a blazing fire in the fireplace can keep you warm and cozy during the winter months, there are also dangers if you don't have your chimney cleaned, inspected, and properly maintained. The last thing you want is a chimney fire, so make sure you have the chimney swept and taken care of by a reputable professional. 

Always Supervise Your Fireplace 

As previously stated, a fire is a great way to keep everyone warm on a cold winter's night. However, you should never leave the fireplace unattended, as sparks can easily fly out onto rugs and carpets causing a fire to break out. It's also important to pay constant attention to any children or pets that might be in the room with the fireplace as well. 

Don't Overload Power Strips and Electrical Outlets

One of the biggest causes of electrical fires is overloading a power strip or a faulty electrical outlet. You should always plug any heaters into an electrical outlet that is in tip-top shape. Never plug these units into a power strip as it can cause the power strip to overheat, melt, and start a fire. 

Turn All Heating Units Off if You Go Out or When You're Sleeping

While no one wants to wake up to a cold house or come home and have to wait for the house to heat up, it's important for your safety to switch off heating units when you're not going to be right there to monitor them. This is for portable heaters, kerosene heaters, and fireplaces. As long as your central heating unit has been inspected and given a clean bill of health, you can keep it running when you're out or sleeping. However, you may want to turn down the thermostat at these times to save on your heating bill. 

Always Be on the Alert

During the winter months, it's easy to become complacent or to think that just one night of leaving the units on can't hurt. You need to be alert to keep you, your property, and your family safe. It only takes one spark for your whole world to go up in flames. 

These are just a few of the safety tips that should be followed when heating your home this upcoming winter season. It's better to follow these tips than to be sorry you didn't.

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Increasing Your Curb Appeal on a Budget

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The outside of your home is the first thing people will see when they approach your home. It doesn't matter how elaborately you’ve cleaned the inside your home, if the exterior is lacking, it can leave people with a bad first impression. A large budget is not needed to increase your curb appeal or give your home's exterior a fresh new look. There are simple things that can be done on a budget that can make a very big difference. 

Spruce Up Your Front Door

You want your home to look welcoming, which is why having a nice-looking front door can make a big difference. If your door is already in good condition, you may just want to slap on a new coat of paint or go with a new color to change things up. You can also replace or restore the hardware to give it a fresh new look. If you want to make your door really stand out, go with a bold color that goes well with the rest of the house. To spruce up your front door even more, add some decor, such as a wreath or a decorative sign. 

Replace or Update Light Fixtures

Replacing faulty light fixtures is not only for decorative purposes. They can also be a safety issue, helping you spot anything that may be wrong. Motion lights can help you stay safe when walking at night and they can also be a deterrent to criminals. Check with your homeowner's insurance company to make sure your coverage is up to date and see if they offer any discounts for security features like lights.

If you already have good-looking light fixtures, sprucing them up with a coat of paint can help them look even better. 

Tend Your Lawn

Your lawn is likely going to be the first thing many people notice when they come over. This is why it's important to take good care of it. Mow it on a regular basis and rake any leaves that have fallen. If you have patches where the grass isn't growing properly, throw down some grass seeds and fertilizer. Weeds can easily take over your yard if you let them. When you mow the grass, you'll need to take care of the weeds too. There are some things you want to keep in mind when it comes to lawn maintenance, such as: 

  • Avoid cutting grass too short 
  • Keep the mower blades sharp 
  • Try to mow when you have shade 
  • Adjust the blade height accordingly 

You can also utilize a method called “grasscycling.” This is when you leave your grass clippings on the lawn after cutting. This helps to keep things fertilized. 

Plant and Maintain Flowers

Planting a garden is a great way to transform the look of your home's exterior, allowing you to get as creative as you'd like to be. Gardening is also a great hobby; it is known to be a great stress relief tool. When it comes to flowers, you can plant an assortment all over your yard in all the areas that need a splash of color and design. Hydrangeas are large plants that are spectacular when they bloom. They look good along the edges of a property. Azaleas are also plants that are often utilized for increased curb appeal because they sit nicely in flower beds and around the mailbox. They also look great along the porch.

Pressure Wash  

To brighten up the outside of your home, a very budget-friendly way to increase your curb appeal is to power wash your siding to clean off the dirt and grime that has accumulated. Always follow proper power washer safety, such as avoiding accidentally spraying yourself or anyone else because doing so can cause serious injuries.

It doesn't take a lot of effort to make your yard look well-maintained and pretty to look at, and it doesn't cost a lot either.

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Some Essential First Aid Items

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Work can be dangerous. It does not matter what field; there are hazards at every job. There are the most obvious dangers on construction sites or assembly lines due to the heavy machinery, but even in an office, accidents can happen involving scissors, staplers, and such. Any use of tools creates a certain amount of risk. The best way to deal with the potential workplace mishaps is by being prepared. Every worksite needs to have a first aid kit so that if anything unfortunate does happen, it can be addressed quickly and efficiently. There are a few things that every great first aid kit should have inside.

Gloves

Gloves are an essential part of a first aid kit. It is impossible to be sure if a person's blood is safe, and in an emergency situation, there is no time to ask. A pair of gloves keeps that from being a problem. A few pairs of latex gloves will do the trick, but a lot of people are allergic to latex. Nitrile gloves can be a safer alternative.

Bandages

Bandages are given in first aid, and it is important to have a variety. Steri strips are a great alternative to stitches when attention needs to be given fast. You do not have the means to do stitches at home. Steri strips can solve the problem.

Normal bandages of various sizes can help manage any minor cuts, burns, or scratches. A roll of extra gauze will help to manage any excess bleeding. It is important to have large-sized pad type bandage with soft padding. This size has many uses but comes in handy mostly for use as an eye patch. Fingertip bandages are good for minor cuts and slices, such as papercuts.

Rubbing Alcohol

It is important to have a fast-acting antibacterial agent to get into cuts right away, even if they are minor. An injury may not seem so bad at first, but infection can creep in and make a relatively minor injury into a big problem. 

Not too long ago, people would still die of minor cuts because of infection that spread from the cut rather than the cut itself. The simple act of disinfecting an injury with alcohol before dressing it is the solution. Often, instead of liquid alcohol, a first aid kit will have single-use alcohol pads for disinfecting.

Antibacterial Ointment

Alcohol is good for a quick disinfecting but does not guarantee that everything will stay sterile. A thick antibiotic ointment, such as Bacitracin cream, will get deep into the wound and clean out lurking bacteria. It also has a comfort factor which makes it preferable over alcohol. 

While alcohol burns as it is applied to a wound a cream cools and soothes. The ointment should not be used instead of alcohol, however. If both are available, the injury should be cleaned with alcohol first and only be smeared with the cream just before applying the bandages.

Joint Wraps

An injury is not always as obvious as an open wound. Sometimes a person just pulls their wrist or ankle out of place. Just because an injury does not get blood everywhere does not mean it is just as critical or painful. A first aid kit should have elastic joint wraps for just such an occasion. 

A wrap helps to keep a dislocated joint in place by taking some of the pressure off of tendons with its elasticity. Applying a joint wrap can often even make a person feel better enough to get more work done, as long as the injury was only minor.

Eye Rinse

Eye rinse is usually just a simple saline solution, but it can prove to be the difference between keeping an eye or not. Any worksite that involves chemicals should have an eye washing station, but at least a bottle in the kit. A washout can keep chemical burns to a minimum. 

It is also important to have a rinse at any job that may have particles in the air, such as sawdust or metal shavings.

Tweezers

Tweezers are an important item to have in a first aid kit as well. When dressing a wound, it is crucial to remove any foreign material before covering it. Tweezers are perfect for removing tiny splinters and shards.

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How to save money on your wedding flowers & decor

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It's meant to be the happiest day of your life, and as a result a lot of couples head into the big day with the no expenses spared philosophy.

Unfortunately, there is only so far said policy can go. We don't have bottomless bank accounts, and there are some areas where you simply have to shave the bill to stay afloat.

As you may have gathered from the title, today's post is going to hone in on wedding flowers. These are one of the easiest things that you can adopt a DIY-approach for, or simply become creative, and save huge sums in the process. Let's take a look at some methods which can help you achieve this.

For the DIY enthusiast: find out what the experts are doing

You might have lots of experience when it comes to flowers (you may even be a florist in the making). If you fall into this category, feel free to move onto the next point.

However, for anyone else, try and buy from a reputable source first. For us, it was Avas Flowers. We looked for reviews on Avas Flowers first, before then progressing to look at the usual suspects like the Avas Flowers website and some of their Pinterest channels.

When they arrived, it just gave us a basic idea of what we need to do to at least compete with the professionals. Are you going to get anywhere near the standard of a professional florist? Probably not. However, by looking at the type of things that they do, you can gain some good insight into the types of flowers and arrangements that look the best with each other.

Stick with seasonal flowers

One of the easiest ways to cut costs, whether you do everything yourself or rely on a florist, is to stick to seasonal flowers. This follows the basic supply and demand principal. After all, if the flowers are difficult to get hold of, we all know what is going to happen to the price.

As such, stay as seasonal as can be. Some flowers are year-round, with roses and orchids usually falling into this category. These can help to cut your costs as well.

Big blooms can sometimes save you big sums

As a general rule of thumb, choosing the big blooms is going to cost a lot of money. For example, cymbidium orchids are the prime choice, but naturally have the big price tags.

However, there is a caveat. Sure, these flowers might cost more, but they also take up more space. It means that you require less of them, and can fill up the rest of your bouquet with creative greenery.

You don’t HAVE to turn to flowers

It might not be conventional, but this is why we have saved this last tip until the very end. An up and coming trend is to turn to a religious symbol, instead of the traditional bouquet that brides are famed for carrying.

Is this going to be suitable for all of you? Absolutely not. If it's appealing to you, it goes without saying that you can save significant sums of money though.

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Choosing a Home: Old or New 

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If you're in the market for a home, the first decision you'll need to make is whether to buy new construction or an older house. Listed below are a few pros and cons to both to help you narrow the search to the one that best suits your needs. 

Character 

An older home, especially one that's more than half a century old, tends to have more character than new construction. This provides you with a unique layout and often a conglomeration of smaller bedrooms, parlor rooms, large kitchens, and grand living areas. Today, many of the new homes are predictable and cookie-cutter. This is especially true in newly developed neighborhoods where a single construction company developed the land. 

No Immediate Repairs 

One of the perks of purchasing new construction is the ability to move in without having to spend any money on repairs. In fact, you can count on having five years or more before you'll need to invest any money into the home. Whereas an older home generally has outdated electrical wiring that can't handle the demands of a high-tech, plugged-in era. Plumbing is another area that can cost many thousands to do a complete overhaul. Of course, with a product design degree and a wealth of knowledge in lighting design, you can change out the existing structures and bring in additional lighting as well, to suit your needs. 

Energy-Efficient 

One of the biggest downfalls of owning an older home is the lack of insulation. Most older homes are cold and drafty in the winter and warm in the summer months. To add insulation to every room and to replace single-pane windows and less than efficient doors can end up costing you a bundle. One the other hand, if you purchase a new home, the walls are insulated, the attic has insulation, the windows are double-paned and the doors are new and heavier. 

Updated Appliances 

When you buy new construction you acquire brand new updated appliances. This can help you to save a lot of money when it comes to cooking, washing dishes, and doing the laundry. New appliances will also help you to save money on your home's heating and cooling costs. On the other hand, an older home generally has outdated appliances, which in the end can ramp up your utility bills. 

Making Changes 

A new construction, especially during the building stages, brings with it choices. For instance, you can choose things such as what type of countertops you want in the kitchen, the grade of flooring, how many light switches in each room and the materials for cabinets. An older home is already complete, so while you can make changes, everyone will cost you additional money. 

The Price Tag 

If there's one benefit to purchasing an older home it’s the price tag. By comparison to new construction, you're talking about a significant difference, often to the tune of tens of thousands. If your budget is tight, purchasing an older home might prove to be a better fit, at least initially. 

Settled 

An older home has already weathered the storm and settled. You won't have any additional cracks in the walls over the next few years. Whereas a new home will need to settle and it can cause you to have to make minor repairs to ceilings, floors and walls. 

Easier to Get a Mortgage 

New construction home sites generally have a single builder who, in many cases, has a direct connection with an exclusive lender. This can make it very easy to not only know the requirement for a mortgage ahead of time but to actually get an approval as well. 

Before buying a house, make sure to weigh the pros and cons that come into play when buying a new home or an older home.

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How to Save Money for Your Dream House

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There's nothing quite like the feeling of being a homeowner. You can rent out rooms, paint or remodel without asking permission from someone above you. Plus, it's a building that can stay within the family for years to come. As a result, it can become a source of generational wealth for your family. However, it's not a cheap investment. In order to save for the down payment, you'll need to set aside thousands of dollars. Thankfully, with intention and discipline, you can make it happen. 

Consider the following ways you can save up for your dream home:

  1. Cut your food budget in half.

If you're someone who likes to eat a lot of food at restaurants, it's time to quit that habit while you're saving for your dream house. If you look at your monthly bank statements and find that a large number of your transactions are food-related, you're letting money go down the drain. This is especially true when you could completely cut your food budget in half by cooking at home. Learn how to make your favorite latte drinks at home. Watch cooking shows on YouTube to learn how to cook your favorite meals. When you prepare great meals at home, it'll be easier to drive past the local fast-food restaurant. Plus, as you see that number rising in your savings account, you'll be surprised at how much you can save by cooking at home.

  1. Make the necessary sacrifices.

When you write down your goals on a daily basis, they remain at the top of your mind. As a result, you'll subconsciously make decisions that will help you get the results you're looking for. If you and your spouse are newlyweds who desire the perfect dream home, write down your goals together. Then, as you two make it a habit, you'll both find ways to become more resourceful. For instance, you two might choose budget-friendly men's black wedding bands and women's wedding rings. The money you save can be the same money that goes to the dream house down payment fund.

  1. Pick up a second job.

If the funds from the full-time job aren't enough to gain financial leverage, it's time to get a second job. In addition to applying for jobs at local establishments in your area, find ways to make some extra income on your own time. Babysitting, rideshare services and cleaning houses are great ways to pad the savings account with more funds.

  1. Make accounts difficult to access.

When the money begins to add up, one of the worst things you can do is cut into the funds. If you're not disciplined enough to leave the money in the account, make your savings account inaccessible to you. Connect it to the direct deposit of your second job so that you don't see that paycheck at all. Use a separate bank account that you can access with the swipe of a debit card. There are plenty of banks that penalize you for taking money out of your savings account too often. Find one of those accounts so that you can stick with the savings program you designed for your future home fund.

When you're preparing for ownership, you don't need to cut corners in order to get what you want. After all, this is your dream home. Just know that in order to get the dream, you might have to save a lot more in order to beat out the other buyers in a competitive market. With these tips and the right realtor, you can make your dream a reality.

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Protect Yourself from Identity Theft During a Move with These 5 Tips 

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Moving to a new home is anything but easy, and everyone is constantly looking for ways to make the moving day process easier. It requires a lot of patience, planning, and packing to pull off a move, whether it’s across town or across the state. 

One thing many people who are moving don't realize is that you're also transporting your personal information from one place to the other, which makes you a prime target for identity theft. Identity theft fluctuates from year to year, but the one thing that remains the same is the fact that anyone can become a victim. 

While many communities and homeowners have a package delivery lock box system in place, there are a few other tips you should follow to ensure your identity isn't stolen during a move. Read on below for a few of those tips. 

Choose a Credible Moving Company

It’s important to do your due diligence when you’re getting ready for a move. This means that you should not hire the first moving company you find online. It’s easier to find a good moving company if you seek referrals from family, friends, and even co-workers who have used a moving company before. Even when armed with referrals you need to do careful research to make sure the people who work for the moving company are legal and trustworthy. Ask the company to provide the information needed; if they refuse, then you need to find another company to move your stuff. 

Put in a Change of Address

You would be surprised at the number of people who forget or just don’t put in a change of address when they move to a new location. This means that your bills, parcels, and even your bank statements are going to be going to an address that you don't live at any longer. It's important to put in a change of address before you move, so it has time to kick in before your final day living at your current residence. 

Keep Your Electronic Devices Secure 

Before the movers come, make sure to shut down and secure any electronics in the house. This includes laptops, computers, and tablets. As a matter of fact, it is usually best if you move these items yourself. This way, you don’t have to worry about the electronics being damaged. You're also ensuring that no one can hack into your computer and retrieve your personal documents and other information. 

Move Your Personal Documents Yourself 

It’s never a good idea to throw personal documents into a box, tape them up, and leave them for the movers to transport. Instead, get all of your personal and sensitive information together and move it yourself. It’s a great way to ensure no one is able to look through your stuff and find things that allow them to steal your identity. 

Always be Present During the Move 

While it may be tempting to go do some of the other million things you need to do during the moving process and leave the movers to take care of the moving, it’s not a good idea. You need to be clear and present and able to supervise the movers while they are loading your boxes and other belongings. There is so much being transported that it would be easy for a few things to go missing, and you don’t notice it until it’s too late and your identity has been stolen. 

These are just a few tips that you should follow to prevent identity theft when you’re moving from one location to the other. Remember, while most moving company employees are good people, there are those that aren’t, so it's better to be safe than sorry.

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Alternative Funding for Real Estate Investments

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The real estate investment business is blowing up. Everyone who is anyone has come to realize the long and short-term earning potential that comes from purchasing properties. Whether the purchase of the property is to increase its value and flip or to update it and rent it out, property investors are able to supplement and even surpass their traditional income. Though investing in real estate can be a lucrative opportunity, many avoid getting involved due to costs. 

It’s true, purchasing a property can be expensive. If you don’t have thousands of dollars saved up for the purchase of the property, repairs, and other associated fees, you’ll need to find other financial resources to invest. While the most common choice would be to take out a second or third mortgage, the eligibility requirements are strict and not everyone can get approved. Fortunately, there are alternative funding options you can turn to such as those listed below: 

Hard Money Loans

One of the first alternative funding solutions for real estate investments is hard money loans. These are loans provided by investors or private companies to those interested in investing in real estate. As this guide to hard money loans points out, they’re a lot easier to qualify for than a traditional mortgage. This is because borrowers put collateral (the property you’re purchasing) against the loan. So, should they default, the lenders can take over the property to compensate for the financial loss.  While credit, track record, and income/capital do still matter, the underwriting process is a lot less strict and easier to get through. 

To apply for a hard money loan, you’ll need to have as much information as you can on the property. This includes its resale value before and after repairs have been completed, how much repairs will cost, and how long it will take to get the property sold or rented out. The loans are typically for a term of 1-5 years and investors can repay these quickly by flipping the properties and using the proceeds to repay the loan in full. 

Retirement Loans

Another option for those interested in investing in real estate is to borrow from your retirement account. Depending on the type of account you have you are able to borrow as much as 50% of your account balance. While there are some interest and fees applied to the loan, you will have up to five years to repay the balance in full. Keep in mind, however, that should you go this route there are tax implications you will have to account for. Also, if the loan is not repaid in full as agreed you can also have to pay penalties and fees to the local and federal governments. Again, a retirement loan can quickly be repaid by using part of your profit to pay the balance in full or applying a portion of the monthly rental income to the retirement loan payments. 

Bring in Partners

Do you know someone else who would be interested in investing in real estate with you? Perhaps a relative, co-worker, or friend that you trust? If you know them to be pretty good professionals, have a great work ethic, and also have the capital to help reduce your out of pocket costs, why not consider it? Adding someone else to the mix means more financial resources. It can make it easier for you both to get approved for loans and/or add more money to the pot from your personal finances (i.e. savings, retirement, life insurance, etc.). If you’re going to partner with someone, however, be sure that you have drawn up a contract that protects you both. 

Liquidate Assets

If you’re really serious about investing in real estate and don’t want to take on too much debt or acquire a partner, there are still ways to find capital. This option would require you to sell things of value. If you have two vehicles, for instance, you could sell one and put the cash towards purchasing an investment property. You can take out a home equity loan on any existing properties that have equity in them, sell some shares of your stock, or have a yard sale and get rid of things you have lying around the house.

Investing in real estate isn’t cheap, but that doesn’t mean you need to be rich and famous to get into this market. All it takes is a bit of creativity, sacrifice, and the above-mentioned financial resources. Once you’re able to secure funds to purchase the property, the goal is to get it up to code, complete remodels that help to increase the value, and get it sold or rented out so that you can repay the loans in full while also turning a profit.

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Home Decor Trends for 2020

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As we enter into 2020, we are entering into a new decade of design. While many home decor trends tend to last longer than just one year, this year is significant; It marks the start of a new era. Trends are only temporary, but this year sets the tone for what you will eventually look back on as the “2020s.” So what are the upcoming trends that interior designers are raving about?

Black is Back

The all-white trend has been one of the biggest recent trends in home design; it brought a clean, minimalistic, and brightening feel to a room, and has been especially popular in kitchen design. However, it is predicted that this trend will quickly diminish in 2020 as it lacks personality.

Instead, the contrasting black and white color scheme is beginning to make its comeback. This bold color combo allows the bright white element to remain while adding pops of pattern and sleek style.

The color black has been avoided previously since it has the potential to make a room feel smaller. To avoid this issue, refrain from painting entire walls black. Open up the room in other ways with features such as open shelving found at ezfloatingshelf.com.

Customize with Couches

Retro or classy, the rounded couches are in again. The best thing about this trend is that you can customize the look to fit the setting and personality of your home. The material and color of your couch can add a unique element to your living space. Velvet is a popular choice amongst these trendy (and comfortable) pieces of furniture.

So hit up the thrift stores and give that retro rounded couch a go, or opt for a cozy velvet sofa to spice up your living room.

New Entry Era

Colorfully-painted front doors have created a fun pop of color to homes seeking more personality, but have you considered painting a door within your home? Dark painted doors are making an appearance this year as we step away from the ordinary white we see in every entryway.

Painting doors with a rich neutral color can add character without the hassle of painting an entire wall. You don’t want your colored door to be too distracting, but it can add a touch of creative elegance when done right. 

Touch of Warmth

The “bright whites” trend has been all the rage lately, but these blank color palettes are fading out as designers start to lean towards the warm side of the color spectrum. So if the black and white trend doesn’t fit the feel of your home, then try a slight change in tone from cool whites to warm. Play around with subtle undertones of yellow, orange, and pink. Rather than all white, try adding in some beige and warm greys. 

These are just a few of the upcoming design changes to expect in 2020. There’s much to look forward to with contrasting tones, unique couches, painted doors, warm palettes, and more. Here’s to the new decade of design!

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Yard Design Ideas for Small Spaces

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Your backyard serves as an extension of your home. When the weather allows, it is a place you can retreat to for relaxation, fun, and entertainment. For properties with smaller yards,  the idea of turning it into an outdoor oasis seems impossible. The space seems too small to create anything worth enjoying. Contrary to popular belief, however, there are lots of things you can do with a small backyard. Here are some yard design ideas for small spaces: 

Create Separate Spaces

One way to make your yard more functional and appear larger is to divide it up into separate spaces. You might have a patio which would be used for sitting, cooking, and entertainment, a grassy area for the children and pets to run around and play in, and a designated area for a small garden in another corner.

Install an Outdoor Kitchen

Adding an outdoor kitchen to your backyard not only adds aesthetic appeal, but it can also help to boost the overall value of your property. If you enjoy preparing meals outdoors or entertaining during warmer weather, an outdoor kitchen can be very instrumental in helping you to enjoy your yard even further. Don’t let the limited space stop you, as there plenty of outdoor kitchen ideas for small spaces you can draw inspiration from. You can use a portion of your patio and lounge area to install a small stove, a mini-fridge, and a kitchen island. 

Go Minimal But Comfortable with Furniture

To truly enjoy your backyard, you need comfortable furniture. While your outdoor space may be small, there are plenty of options when selecting furniture. Instead of a full-sized patio set, you could swing for a small bistro table and a few comfy chairs with cushions. If you feel comfortable, you could ditch the table and chair concept altogether and instead invest in large pillows and bean bags to set up when you’re ready to kick back and relax or share a meal outdoors. Don’t have the room for a firepit? You can always go for a tabletop fire pit instead which can still provide some heat during those chilly nights. 

Use Planters Instead of a Garden

Do you like the idea of having fresh fruits, veggies, plants, and flowers growing in your yard? While you may not have much space or a lot of soil to create a traditional garden, that doesn’t mean you have to forego the produce or greenery altogether. Instead, incorporate it into your yard’s layout and decor with the help of planters. A few potted flowers and plants strategically placed on stairs or hung from awnings can liven the space up. A box garden is also easy to build and maintain as well. 

String Lights for Safety and Ambiance

A well-lit backyard is ideal for safety and is a great way to set the mood and keep the party going long after the sun goes down. Installing too many outdoor lamps or landscape lighting features can clutter your backyard making it look even smaller. Instead, purchase string lights and hang them from walls, pillars, awnings, and other tall structures. They come in an array of colors and levels of brightness to compliment the rest of your yard’s decor. 

Finish With Statement-Making Decor

No outdoor living space is complete without decor to give it more of a home vibe. Just as you would if you were renovating in other parts of your home, think about color schemes and/or themes you’re going for in the yard. Then, do some shopping to find neat items to personalize your space. For instance, you might want to invest in tiles for your patio, cushions for your yard chairs, vases and sculptures for your tables, and water features like tabletop fountains for your tables. 

When you watch home improvement shows or look at home magazines it can be easy to assume that your small yard can never be transformed into the outdoor sanctuaries that you dream about. While it will take some creativity, compromise, and effort, the reality is that there are plenty of ways to create an extension of your home that can be enjoyed all year long. Hopefully, some of the above-mentioned ideas have given you some inspiration to turn your small yard into a space you can’t wait to relax, have fun, and entertain in. 

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How to Update Your Kitchen without Having to Gut It

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When it comes to kitchen renovations and remodels, many people take the approach of “go big or go home” and completely gut the room right down to the studs. While this is a great way to get some impactful results, it doesn’t have to be the approach you take. Updating your kitchen, creating a fresh new modern look, and making it more functional in general can be done without having to totally gut the space.

Here we’ll take a look at a number of ways you can refresh and update your kitchen in a relatively short period of time, making it feel like a whole new room, without turning it into a massive renovation project.

Give Your Appliances a Good Cleaning

If your appliances are starting to look a bit tired and worn, this isn’t a sign that you need to rush out and replace them. Let’s face it, major appliances such as an oven, dishwasher, and refrigerator aren’t cheap. Instead, they may just need a good and thorough cleaning. 

While you’re giving all the appliances a deep cleaning, this is also the perfect time to replace your fridge filter, which will help it to run efficiently. Companies like the Discount Filter Store offer homeowners the ability to shop from home, and search out the exact filter they need for their particular model. The Discount Filter Store also sells water filters, under sink filters, and reverse osmosis filters - all of which may be due for replacement in the kitchen.

Paint – Big Results for Little Investment

For those looking to get the maximum bang for their buck, painting is an excellent option. Even if you still like the color of your kitchen, if it’s been more than a few years, there’s a good chance the paint could use some refreshing. Putting a fresh coat of paint on the walls helps to brighten up the room, and makes it feel cleaner and just more modern in general.

Create a Customized Cupboard Look for Less

Another area that can create a lot of expense and mess is ripping out the existing cupboards and replacing them with a custom option. Sure, it would look great, but it's not necessary to go to these extremes. You can create a customized look by switching out the hardware, adding under cupboard lighting, and refinishing your cupboards (if the material allows for it).

Install Additional Lighting

The kitchen is one room of the house that needs to be highly-functional. People can spend a fair amount of time in the room preparing meals and then sharing it with friends and family. With that said, adequate lighting is very much needed. Installing additional lighting and also changing up the current fixtures can completely transform the space.

Keep in mind that if you do want to install additional lighting, you'll need to hire an electrician to come out and install the proper wiring for the new fixtures.

A Fresh New Kitchen

By following these tips, you’ll be able to create a fresh and modern feel in your kitchen without having to gut it and take on projects that are too big and too costly.

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Big Home Remodeling Mistakes That Need To Be Avoided At All Costs

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Homeowners are not really inclined to put their money into remodeling projects because home sales are now declining. It is no wonder to see this since home remodeling is definitely expensive. You want to maximize your time and money so you need to be aware of the various remodeling mistakes that are common these days. This will help you to make the most out of your budget and actually make your renovations less stressful. 

Adding Too Many Fixtures

Fancy fixtures are always loved but they do not actually help when you want to sell a home. This is where square footage is much more important. There are many real estate agents that hate the fact that price is usually determined based on a per-square-foot basis. It does not say much about space quality but it is what the buyers mainly look at. 

Try not to add countless custom features to your home during a remodel project. This is only a good idea if you do not ever intend to sell the house. If you do, you have to keep fixtures at a minimum. 

Working With Unlicensed Contractors

It is really tempting to work with your friends when they are handymen or have some experience in doing work like plumbing or electricity. Unfortunately, future costs can easily exceed how much money you put into the project. It is paramount that you hire only licensed contractors, no matter what work you need to be done. If you want to do plumbing work, hire someone like https://www.fixitrightplumbing.com.au/plumber-canberra/blocked-drains-canberra/

Remember that most of the home improvement projects will require permits. When the contractor is unlicensed, permits cannot be legally pulled. You might end up with really bad property damage because of the shoddy work that was done. This is especially the case when the remodeling work requires some sort of demolishing. 

Improper Order For Remodeling Jobs

When you plan home remodeling, budget is vital. This is obvious. What is not really obvious is how this is done. So many homeowners end up neglecting a huge part of the entire project, which is workflow. If planning is poor, you end up with huge delays. That will only add costs. 

Different things that happen as you remodel your home need to be done in a specific order. As an example, you cannot refinish your flooring and then start painting the home. This is because during painting, floor coverings can end up damaged. 

The Problem With Huge Structural Changes

It is often tempting to make some large structural changes to your home but these are rarely a good idea. Real estate agents all agree that such changes, like when you move plumbing around or tear down walls, end up being a bad investment. They will cost a lot, take a lot of time and require harder engineering work. It is just not worth it since you will not be able to recover the money that is put into the project. It is always much better to focus on the changes that actually need to be done, like plumbing repairs.

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2020: Natural Elements Blending in Home Designs

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Home Designers: Natural Materials and Sustainable Living

The new year of 2020 offers so much in terms of home designs and natural styles. Natural beauty within the home is trending and many people have opted to use natural items throughout their homes. We are bringing more of the natural elements inside.

You may be curious about the trending of natural materials that will be used by designers. In a sense, nature is being brought into homes for beauty and enjoyment. Can you imagine incorporating beautiful barn doors with barn door track and hardware inside of your home? The possibilities are endless in terms of natural materials that can be used for stunning home designs. Natural materials are in abundance for grand designs. They include the following materials:

1. Travertine 

This is a great choice for countertops, floors, showers, bathrooms, and more. It is a natural stone tile and it can come in highly unique patterns and breathtaking colors. It is reasonably priced and offers a large variety of uses in a home. It is viewed as a type of limestone and tends to provide a sense of sophistication and it is a natural material.

2. Bamboo

This is a highly sustainable, natural material that offers durability too. A bamboo floor or window treatment can be blended beautifully into a home design. This natural composite material offers many different uses in a structure.

3. Leather

Leather has many uses and it is not just for furniture. It is smooth and adds comfort to any home or piece of furniture. Natural leather is often used for upholstery purposes in home design. It adds much comfort and softness.

4. Seagrass

This can really look amazing in a variety of different household schemes. It is a durable and natural material that looks marvelous in a rug. When seagrass is used in a natural way, beautiful styles and furniture can be created with this natural material.

5. Iron

This natural material has many uses and it tends to offer a very distinguished ambiance in a room. It is a common metal that will go well with many styles. Iron offers many options and will look appealing in most rooms.

6. Rattan

Rattan is a superb option that looks stunning in a woven basket or it can be used to enhance a piece of furniture. A covered patio is an excellent spot for this natural material. It is derived from palms and adds lush texture to any room.

7. Feathers

You can find many knickknacks, upholstered furniture pieces, and outstanding accessories made with feathers. They can be used to create stunning wall hangings and much more.

These are only a sample of the natural materials being used by home designers. Many people love the idea of bringing the beauty of nature right into their homes. Add a touch of natural beauty into your home and leave a greener footprint this year. Furniture and other items in the home can be highly intriguing in this day and age. Gone are the standard and routine items that used to fill homes across the globe. It is time to say “hello” to unique and natural.

Nature and Beauty In the Home

The trends are definitely moving toward natural beauty and nature in homes everywhere. Solar is making a big impact on the environment. Homes in the city and homes in the country setting are being designed to benefit the planet in positive ways. More and more home designers are weaving the natural elements into their designs. 

Sustainable designs and natural materials are known for benefitting the health of homeowners and proving to be useful in terms of restoring the planet. The rise in environmental awareness has impacted many different areas of our lives, including the construction of homes and the way they are designed. These changes have been occurring over the last few years. 

Natural materials are healthy for the inhabitants and their well-being. They offer a cozy and calm ambiance too. The natural materials can be viewed as a simple change in style. Natural materials will not be going out of style in the near future. Health-conscious homes filled with natural beauty are surrounding us and making life more fulfilling and intriguing for many. A sustainable home will offer many advantages for years to come. Saving money and enhancing health are a few of the benefits of incorporating the natural elements in home designs.

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Office Building Design Trends For 2020

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Gone are the days of stuffy office building, filled with grim cubicles and dull colors. Employees and bosses everywhere are beginning to expect more from the space where they spend forty plus hours a week. Nowadays, inviting, comfortable environments that promote collaboration and relaxed attitudes are the norm. 

Be ahead of the curve by knowing the design trends of today. Impress your clients by getting a handle on the hottest trends for 2020. Below are six design trends that experts expect to dominate the market in the new year.  

Large Windows

Large windows have long been a dream for luxurious homes, but now offices are demanding them too. Large windows allow for natural sunlight, and natural sunlight leads to happier employees. Research shows that sunlight contributes to better moods and lowers depression rates. 

Additionally, natural light means lower energy costs. Since companies are always aware of the bottom line, large windows are an investment that pays off, in the long run, thanks to energy savings and employee satisfaction ratings. As we know, satisfied employees lead to more productive work, which means more profits. 

Electronic Privacy Glass

Companies are beginning to embrace high-tech design elements, too. Not only are switchable glass partitions neat to look at, they also provide an array of benefits. Switchable glass walls allow for a room to be open and inviting during normal business functions, with the ability to be private when necessary. 

In traditional glass walls, companies have to use blinds or curtains to achieve the same level of privacy available with switchable glass. That’s not only costly, it’s ugly, and requires that the company regularly buys new window coverings. Switchable glass can also cut energy costs by reducing glare and air conditioning costs. 

Architectural Louvers

On the outside of the building, more and more companies are looking at incorporating louvers. Louver systems block debris and rain from entering the building while simultaneously allowing the flow of air. They resist rain damage and reduce outside noise pollution. 

There are several different louver systems, each with their own benefits and styles, but ultimately, louvers keep buildings protected from the outside environment, which is something most companies want. 

Reclaimed Wood

Remember how we mentioned that people are looking for more relaxed and comfortable workspaces? What says cozy better than wood. Wood provides a rustic aesthetic, and it’s also cost-effective. There are numerous ways to incorporate wood into design, including wood ceiling beams, wood-paneled walls, decorative wood structures, and wood tabletops. 

A huge design trend lies in the use of reclaimed wood. It’s more cost-effective and eco-conscious than traditional wood. Reclaimed wood is making waves all over the interior design space, and we expect that it will do the same in commercial office buildings, too. 

Nature-Inspired Design

There’s no doubt about it; nature is calming. That’s why a growing number of businesses are seeking to incorporate more natural elements into their office space. From plants to living walls to waterfalls and koi ponds, there’s no shortage of ways to incorporate nature into your clients’ designs. 

Living walls, (also called green walls or vertical gardens), are probably the most prominent emerging trend. They’re vertical walls that are covered in greenery, with a soil and an integrated water system. Aside from the aesthetic benefit, greens walls are purported to boost moods, improve air quality, and increase energy levels. 

Collaborative Spaces

Cubicles and quiet workspaces are a thing of the past. The buzzword now is “collaboration.” Companies are looking for more open areas that promote conversation and the free flow of ideas. Tall ceilings and wide-open architecture are a sure way to spark freedom of ideas.

Additionally, create several conversation places for employees to work and talk, and provide a variety of seating options and workspaces.  Add areas with couches, more secluded nooks, or areas with collaborative desks.

Design to promote flow and eliminate clutter, because a clunky design can stifle creativity. Just remember that more businesses encourage collaboration and flexible environments, so be on top of this trend by designing with these things in mind. 

Know the Office Design Trends of 2020

These are just a few of the design trends sweeping offices across the country. Dig in and research what today’s employees and employers want. People spend half their lives working, and more businesses are working towards making those hours more pleasant through thoughtful, forward-thinking design. 

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How to Protect Your Yard from Moisture and Water Damage

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Home maintenance, both inside and out, is an essential part of being a homeowner. While work on the inside can be a lot to maintain, few people think enough about the outside of their home, and the effect that too much water can have on their yard, their grass, and their home’s foundation. While gardens, landscaping, and lawn maintenance are important to a lot of people, it’s not just about design and creating something beautiful for your neighbors to fawn over. You must protect your yard from potential water damage, too.

But how do you get started? It’s not like you can stop the rain. Thankfully, there are several steps and actions you can take to protect your yard.  

Here are a few options for every homeowner to protect their yard from water damage and excess moisture. 

Look into Drainage Systems 

The first thing to look into when thinking about moisture control is a lawn drainage system. While you might think drainage systems are limited to manufactural warehouses, they can also help control water in your yard. Lawn drains are systems buried beneath the ground that catch rainwater and send it somewhere else.

Typically, there’s a metal or plastic basin or grate to catch the water and then pipes to take the collected water to a designated spot. Usually, these pipes lead to the street or the city’s storm drain. There are several types of drainage systems. There’s a French drain, an outdoor slot drain, and more. No matter which drainage system you choose, incorporating one into your lawn will undoubtedly keep your yard free of excess water build-up. 

Check Out Permeable Pavement 

So, permeable paving systems are a really nifty invention. Essentially, permeable pavers are made to replace concrete, asphalt, or other alternatives for your porch, driveway, or street. These pavers are designed to collect and drain water, just like the ground does. They’re porous, so when it rains, these pavers soak up the moisture and drain into the ground. 

What this does is it eliminates standing puddles that form on less porous materials. They prevent flooding, reduce runoff, and contribute to overall stormwater management. Also, they come in many different designs, so you’re sure to find a system that fits your aesthetic preferences.  

Protect Your Concrete 

Most people have concrete somewhere around their home. Whether it’s the driveway or a porch, concrete is a common material. Concrete is pretty absorbent, and too much water can damage the structural integrity of concrete. Also, concrete is prone to freezing and thawing during wet and cold winter months, which is not only dangerous; it’s harmful to the concrete. 

If you have concrete in your yard, be sure to use a concrete sealant. Doing so will not only prevent water damage, but it prevents sun damage, oil staining, and damage from general wear and tear. 

Re-Think Your Garden

Anyone who owns a garden knows that they require a lot of water to stay looking good. If you already have a garden, consider turning it into a rain garden. Rain gardens are like a regular garden, except they use a special kind of soil that absorbs water and filters pollutants. Generally, rain gardens also have plants that absorb large amounts of water, too. 

If you don’t want to switch your traditional garden to a rain garden, consider adding a drainage system to the garden you already have so that excess water doesn’t become an issue.  

Stop Moisture Build Up in Your Lawn

Water damage is not only costly; it can dramatically decrease the curb appeal and property value of your home. While you can try to prevent it by avoiding overwatering, you can’t stop rain. If you live in a particularly wet area, you can’t ignore the threat of moisture damage. 

Additionally, if you live in an urban, highly-populated area, standing water goes from just being a nuisance to being potentially toxic. Urban water runoff is known to collect and attract pollutants. Standing water also attracts dangerous and annoying pests, like mosquitos. 

Save yourself the future headache, time, and cost by utilizing some of the above techniques. Hire an expert if you need to but know that the internet is full of DIY resources to get you started. These techniques will ensure that your yard, grass, and foundation are protected, while simultaneously limiting your exposure to the dangerous pollutants in standing water.

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Bathroom Remodeling Ideas to Increase Your Property Value

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So, you’ve decided to approach remodeling as a way to increase the property value of your home. That’s the first step, and an excellent choice for any homeowner who wants to see a little return on their investment. The next step in that process is choosing which parts of your home to remodel and finding ideas that fit your budget, timeline, and aesthetic.

If you do a quick search to look for ideas, you’ll find thousands of options, ranging from modest costs to millionaire budgets. You’ll probably want to narrow those options down a little, and the best way to that is to figure out where you’d like to start. Research shows that bathroom remodels are a surefire way to increase the value of your property.

Below, we’ll talk about five great ideas for remodeling your bathroom, while shooting up your property value at the same time.

#1 Did Someone Say Walk-in Showers?

An updated or renovated shower can change the look of your bathroom entirely. Sure, you can always go with a fancy jet tub or the classic clawfoot tub for that vintage look, but if you’re looking for a direction, there’s nothing that can tick up the curb appeal of your bathroom as much as an updated walk-in shower. From waterfall showerheads and multi-directional water streams to heated floors and glass doors, a new walk-in shower can become a statement piece in your newly remodeled bathroom. 

The materials you use are crucial, like polished chrome fixtures and durable glass, but the shower walls may be the most essential choice you’ll have to make. A dingy tile wall can make even the most enthusiastic buyer turn away. 

If you go with a solid surface corner shower, on the other hand, you can cost-effectively transform your bathroom. These showers are made with materials generally associated with kitchen countertops. However, you can use this material on shower walls with great results. They’re nonporous, can be cleaned and refinished with ease, and look fantastic.

#2 A Bathroom Counter that Shines

Speaking of counters, your bathroom counter is another part of the bathroom that can affect your property value. Just like with shower walls, the materials you use are probably the most important decision you’ll have to make when considering this particular remodel. 

Solid-surface countertops, which are designed to look like stone, have a high-end, beautiful look while remaining nonporous and easy to clean. A porcelain tiled counter is both cheaper and can be more durable than granite alternatives. Or you can go with quartz bathroom counters, which are designed to look like limestone or marble but are more durable. They’re also nonporous so they won’t absorb moisture and they’re easier to clean.  

#3 Pull Up Those Old Tiles

Some bathrooms have floors that are three decades old, stained and chipped, and that kind of damage or degradation can negatively affect your property value. There are plenty of options for remodeling your floors that can be both cost-effective and look great.

Stained concrete floors, for instance, are an ideal option. A lot of the time, you can pull up those old tiles, and there will be a perfect concrete floor sitting right underneath it. A little polish and staining and your bathroom floors will look luxurious and expensive. Of course, concrete can be a little cold when stepping out of the shower, but that’s nothing a small bathroom rug can’t fix.

#4 A Fresh Coat of Paint

This may go without saying, but a fresh coat of paint can do wonders for any bathroom. It isn’t a complicated process, either, though it can be tricky. Choosing the right color scheme, the appropriate tools, and the best quality paints are paramount. When in doubt, go with neutrals. 

Plus, the best thing about this option is that it’s very cost-effective, and you can do it yourself. 

#5 When in Doubt, Go Green

Energy efficiency and water conservation are so crucial in our society, and if you remodel your bathroom with that in mind, it can skyrocket the value of your home. Water-efficient toilets, showers, and sinks are perfect options for updating your bathroom and increasing the value of your property. These options not only decrease the amount of water you’re using; it can also lower your water bill. Any prospective buyer is going to see this as a great benefit and added value.  

Remodeling is the Key to Increasing Property Value

The options don’t stop there. There are so many ways to increase the value of your property by remodeling, and it is one of the best ways to guarantee a return on your investment. Your bathroom is the perfect place to start because it’s an integral part of your home.

You can’t just wait for the housing market to swing your way. Relying on the ebb’s and flows of the market can be a waiting game nightmare. Instead of letting time determine the value of your home, fix it up. Change it. Spend a little on remodeling and renovation, and you’ll thank yourself later.

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Key Steps to Take After Your Home Incurs Severe Storm Damage

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Storms will come and go many times in a year, and most times they are nothing more than just an annoyance and a bump in the day. But not every storm will be minor, with some being so strong that they result in severe damage to your home. Surveying the damage after the storm can be stressful and upsetting, as your home is something you work hard to maintain and something you take great pride in. 

So what are the key steps you should take to perform the repairs and ensure it’s safe and sound once again? Here is a simple guide that you can follow.

When In Doubt, Get Out

First things first, if the damage appears substantial enough that the very integrity of your home seems to be at stake, you need to leave and stay somewhere else until a professional can survey the scene. You don’t want to be staying in the home while it’s at risk of the roof crashing down or walls giving way. 

Obviously, this is an extreme case of damage, and hopefully, it never gets to this point. It’s just better to play things extremely cautious in these circumstances.

Contact Your Insurance Representative

It's also important that you contact your insurance representative as quickly as possible following the storm. You will likely need to follow a formal claim if the damage is greater than your deductible payment would be. Insurance will then need to follow their own steps in the process, so the faster you get the ball rolling, the faster the repairs can begin.

Contact a Professional Contractor

The next step in the process is to find someone qualified and experienced that can repair the damage. Because there are so many different types of damage that can occur after a storm, it's wise to be specific in the services you are after. 

Let's say, for example, your roof and siding is what took the brunt of the damage. Then you'd be after a contractor with experience in siding and roof repairs, such advantage-construction.com. Not only are experienced contractors well-versed in severe storm damage repairs, but they are experienced in working with insurance claims so you know they will understand all the necessary steps required.

Ensure All Is Secure for Future Storms

After the repairs have been made to your home, it’s also wise to use a critical eye and inspect the exterior of your home and the property itself. Look for potential safety and integrity risks that could potentially cause an issue in the next storm. This could be things like loose or damaged shutters, overgrown tree limbs near the house or even branches that look like they are dead could potentially come down in a wind storm.

Each of these tips will help you to work through the repair process as you remedy the damage that was done after a severe storm hit.

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Tips To Pull Off A Successful Remodel of Your Home

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It is not uncommon to have a home renovation project go awry. There are many things that one must take into consideration and factor in. Cost, time, subcontractors, ideas, and an insight into what it is that you actually want are all things to be considered. You want the best people working for you, at the best price, getting the job done fast. It's probably not going to be that easy, but if you are organized and have a plan, you can get this project done in no time.

In this article, we will outline a few tips that you want to take into consideration to make the whole renovation project pull off as smoothly as possible. These tips range from hiring the best team possible to installing the best sliding shutters. We have you covered. This is going to be a valuable article full of information to make this whole process as easy as possible.

Tips To Pull Off A Successful Remodel of Your Home

  1. Plan Ahead

Whatever your new home decor design may be, it is important to plan ahead. Time is our most precious asset in life. Check out the most trending home decor designs here.

Planning ahead, in regards to knowing precisely what you want, how long you estimate the project will take, creating the right team, and having a clear vision of the end result, is going to make this whole process much more manageable.

  1. Remember the Big Picture

Vision. You need to have a vision. One of the most significant issues is the delay with the home renovation due to not finishing. Most people cannot complete renovation because they are always changing their vision. Know what it is that you want. Have that vision so that it can become a reality.

  1. Find Good Help

Good help is so hard to find. And this is in almost all niches and areas of business. Before you hire a team, make sure you do a bit of research on them before paying them money.

The last thing you want to do is hire a team that is less than standard. Not only is money wasted, but time, your time, cannot be gained back.

  1. Visit a Job Site

To follow up briefly with our previous entry, one of the best ways to find good help is to visit job sites to see how the workers perform their tasks. Consider this your scouting process.

  1. Be a Good Boss

No one likes working for a toxic boss. It makes the job a nightmare and makes being around the person a bad experience. If you are hiring people to work for you, be cordial and kind. By building a relationship with these people, they may very well be willing to work for you again. It always pays to be a kind human being.

  1. Insist on a Detailed Contract

The contract is very important and more the reason why you need to be cordial and professional. Be open and as transparent as you can. Do not beat around the bush with what you want and how much you are willing to pay for it.

Negotiation is what this is all about. You want to offer them good work, but you also want to have as much done as you can. This is a business. There is no shame in trying to make this a win-win for everyone.

  1. Know What You’re Getting Into

Understand that this is not going to be an overnight project. This may take some time. Know exactly what you are getting yourself into when you decide to hire people to work on this project.

  1. Pack Away Your Valuables

This may be a no-brainer, but pack your valuable items someplace safe and away from the renovation area. Be cordial, of course, but still use some common sense. You don't want to leave anything of value out where others might be tempted to take.

  1. Communicate Effectively

Know what you want and be able to articulate that idea so that the team you have hired can pull it off effectively.

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The loving household: Flowers that can help your home

Nowadays, we're used to reading all sorts of hacks on how to bring positive energy to your home – but a recent infographic we have seen has brought another spin on the topic.

Kremp Florists have put together an infographic which dips into the true meaning of flowers. Their work has taken a look at fifty flowers from around the world – and concluded with the following:

From the perspective of a home, this is something that we found particularly interesting for a couple of reasons.

The first relates to history. After all, the page suggests that during the Roman era, lilies were stuffed into pillows and represents love. Now, as we all know, this is highly unlikely to happen as this is a flower that is more likely to be used in funerals. (click for larger version; scroll down to keep reading)

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The second reason relates to some of the meanings behind the flowers themselves. This is something that can be more tied into the home, and just how we can use another method to bring some “better feelings” into our environment.

Take the orchid for example. While the name isn’t particularly “homely” (it actually means testicle in Greek), some of its initial meanings are. Unsurprisingly, “fertility” is one meaning, but two others come in the form of elegance and luxury. As such, for anyone looking to build either of the two into their home, the orchid is a good option.

Then, there are more vibrant options. Take the Camellia as another example. According to the infographic, the history behind this flower doesn’t actually resemble much in relation to the home. However, the meanings do, with passion, balance, beauty and youth all said to be related. It means that any homeowner looking to add a degree of the above into their home, could very well look to this flower.

Sometimes, it’s about some of the more “common” flowers as well. Take the Daffodil – a flower that we are all used to (probably though our gardens). The history of this flower actually links very closely to its meaning. In Greek mythology, it was said that Narcissus was so obsessed with his own reflection in a pool of water that he drowned. The result? A daffodil grew from his body, and is now said to resemble rebirth and new beginnings. Suffice to say, in a lot of households, these are quite relevant subjects.

The list could go on - and some of the meanings aren't always going to be positive. If we quickly turn to the Snapdragon as an example, this is actually related to deception. Clearly, this is one meaning that we aren't going to want to associate with our home.

As such, at least from our perspective, the infographic invoked a few new reactions. Particularly with feng shui and other energies becoming very mainstream nowadays, tapping into the use of flowers to promote better energy in the home feels like something that is going to become more common over the next few years.

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