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.

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. 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.

partnered post • cc-licensed image by Andrew Davies


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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How to Reduce the Risk of Fire While Heating Your Home

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As the weather begins to get colder, many people inevitably need to find ways to stay warm during the autumn and winter months. While heating equipment can be useful in keeping your home at a comfortable temperature, it is important to remember that these devices can sometimes pose a safety risk. The following are a few ways that you can reduce the risk of fire when heating your house.

1. Keep Chimneys and Fireplaces Clean and Supervised

If your home has a fireplace, this can be a convenient, and beautiful, way to provide warmth to the area. However, you need to be very careful when using this method. Loose embers can cause a fire that may begin to spread, so it is best to use fireplaces only when they are properly supervised. Keeping the area clean will reduce the chances of a chimney fire.

2. Plug Devices Into a Wall Outlet

While a power strip can be useful when you need to power many devices at once, these are best left to items that do not use a large amount of electricity. Plugging your heating equipment into a power strip can cause it to overheat, melt, and start a fire. Instead, always use a wall outlet for your heating devices. You may want to avoid plugging anything else into the same outlet as well.

3. Maintain Your HVAC System

Using a central heating system is often the safest option, but that does not mean it is without its own share of risks. When lint or dust begins to build up, it is possible that these materials could contribute to a fire. Damaged wires or heating parts can become a hazard as well. For this reason, it is important to have inspection and maintenance done regularly.

4. Keep the Area Around Devices Clear

No matter what kind of equipment you are using, you should be sure to always keep the surrounding area free of flammable materials. Liquids such as gasoline and alcohol are highly combustible and should be removed from the area. You should also avoid placing items such as papers, cloth and wood too close to your heaters. If you are using central heating, make sure there is nothing covering the vents.

5. Turn Off Devices Before Going Out or Sleeping

While the idea of returning home to a cold house or waking up to a chilly bedroom may not seem appealing, it is a much better choice than the alternative. If you are not around or awake to keep an eye on your devices, then it is best for you to turn them off. Unattended devices can overheat or create sparks that result in a fire. If you are not able to react quickly, then it could cause a large amount of damage to your home and can compromise the safety of you and your family.

While many home fires are the result of using heating equipment in the house, you do not need to be afraid to keep your house warm. If you take the right precautions, you can stay comfortable while remaining safe, no matter how you choose to heat your home.

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4 DIYs for the Laundry Room

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If your laundry room is anything like mine, it’s sort of a mess. The laundry room is definitely not the most glamorous room in the house. But it deserves some credit. It’s where those stinky clothes get washed, where the kids’ backpacks get hung, and where I hide the dog when visitors come over. There are several ways to tidy up the laundry room, here are 4 DIYs to organize and beautify your laundry room.

1: Countertop Over Your Washer and Dryer

This DIY only works with front loading washers and dryers, but if you do have front loading machines, this DIY has a lot of practical and visual uses. It’s pretty common practice to store things on top of the washer and dryer, but this can make the laundry room look messy, crowded, and maybe even cheap. Installing a countertop above the washer and dryer gives you a proper place to store your detergents and fabric softners. Plus, if you go with a beautiful wooden countertop it can help establish a rustic aesthetic in your laundry room.

2: Wooden Pallet Hat and Coat Rack

Every laundry room needs to have a sturdy coat rack, especially if that room is being used to store backpacks. This DIY repurposes wooden pallets to create a rustic hat and coat rack. All you need is a pallet or two, which you can buy from Challenger Pallet and Supply, some coat hangers, nails, and paint. The nice thing about creating your own coat rack is that you can customize it to fit your exact needs. You can install the perfect amount of coat hangers. You could even use some paint to write everyone’s names above their hanger to give it a personalized touch.

3: Drying Rack

Most clothes can be dried in the dryer, but there are always a few delicate items that really should be air dried. I use to always air dry my delicate clothes on the back of my couch, but it was such a pain to leave them there as they dried. A drying rack gives you a space, that’s tucked out of the way, that’s dedicated to only air drying clothes. Installing a drying rack in the laundry room makes a lot of practical sense. It may not be the prettiest edition to your laundry room but it’s small and won’t catch too much attention, and I believe its usefulness far outweighs its lack of good looks.

4: Folding Table

I’m not talking about the cheap folding table you keep in storage, I mean install a table dedicated to folding clothes. I typically just fold my clothes on the couch or the bed, but lacking a hard surface to fold on sometimes irritates me. Plus, if I’m being honest, my freshly folded clothes normally sit on the couch for a while before they actually get put away. If you have the space in your laundry room, installing a folding table can help you get your laundry room more organized. Plus it’s easy to take your clothes from the dryer straight to the folding table. And, if you’re like me, if you can’t bring yourself to put away all those clothes after folding them, at least they’ll stay hidden in the laundry room and not take up half of your couch.

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H&H Maher Clock 2

George Washington Maher was one of the central figures of America’s Prairie movement, and was known for blending traditional A&C design with the wider uninterrupted lines of the Prairie aesthetic. Along with Wright, his interiors were just as impressive as his exteriors, and unlike Wright, he was a very competent engineer, too.

Recently, the artisans at Fair Oaks Workshop came up with a very attractive mantel clock design that channels Maher’s aesthetic. It’s under $200 and gorgeous – a perfect holiday gift for anyone who is a fan of Prairie and Arts & Crafts style.


4 Things to Be Aware of & 3 Things to Ignore When Searching for the Perfect Home

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Searching for the perfect home can sometimes feel like finding a needle in a haystack. Your wishlist has needs that you aren’t willing to give up on… like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. While you might be concerned with your wishlist, there are some things you need to be especially aware of, while some things you can ignore. 

Aware

Location

It’s pretty difficult to move a house, so be aware of the location when you tour. If it’s close to a highway or busy intersection, the home may have decreased value. Likewise, if it adds to your morning commute or isn’t in a good school zone, you may want to look somewhere else. 

Floor Plan

A floor plan isn’t an easy change. Although HGTV shows make fixer-uppers look easy, they’re not. Changing the floor plan of your home will lead to extra costs, extra waiting time before moving in, and extra resources. If you aren’t up for the challenge, move on to a different home with a floor plan you can work with. 

House Age

Old homes don’t always have problems, and if you are looking for history and charm, they’ll most likely have it. However, old homes are more likely to have lead pipes, termites, or other repairs. You may want to make sure you aren’t in over your head before bidding on an old home--you don’t want to accidentally sign up for a fixer-upper. 

Lot Size

If you are 100% set on having rolling acres of fields for your backyard, stop touring quarter-acre plots. Let your realty agent know how much land you expect so they can only show you the best homes for your wishlist and budget. If along with lot size, you are also worried about the view, consider looking at homes at tetonvalleyrealty.com for gorgeous property along green expanses of a golf course.

Ignore

Paint / Wall Paper

While bright or drab walls can sometimes feel overpowering, they mislead buyers from truly being interested in a worthy home. Odd paint and wallpaper adorning the walls is an easy fix. Plus, if you mention that you’ll need to paint the walls, you may be able to knock a few hundred bucks off the asking price. 

Curb Appeal

When you get to the front step of a new house to tour, keep an open mind. While the current residents may have left their lawn to the elements, it doesn’t mean you have to. Imagine the home with new landscaping, window boxes, and shutters, and you might have found the perfect home. 

Carpet

Carpet can seem like a big deal. So when you walk into a room with hideous shag carpet covered in hair, don’t panic. Carpet, like paint, is actually a simple fix that can help you negotiate the price to a lower offer. Replacing carpet isn’t very time consuming, plus, you’ll get to appreciate the brand new flooring in your home instead of living with worn-out carpet. 

Before you decide to buy a house, make a list of your priorities--what does this house need and what can you sacrifice? Let your agent know what you expect so they can help you find the perfect new match for you.

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New Home Move-in Checklist

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Packing up your entire home and relocating can be extremely overwhelming. In order to make the move a smooth transition, there are a few things to check up on at your new home prior to moving in. Avoid any extra stresses by checking off these five tasks for your new home.

  • Change the Locks

Changing the locks on all your doors is an important step to feeling safe in your new home. As kind as the previous owners may have been, it’s nice knowing there isn’t anyone out there but you that has a key to your home. It’s best to schedule this task before moving all your belongings in to avoid any time period of unsecured doors during the transition. 

  • Deep Clean the House

 Hopefully, the previous owners took care of cleaning and preparing the house when they first moved out, but there are some areas to check on just to be sure the place is in pristine condition. It’s easiest to clean the hard-to-reach places before you move in and there aren’t any objects in the way. Some areas to deep clean might include inside cupboards, the washer and dryer, fridge, oven, stove, and dishwasher. 

  • Inspect for Mold

The last thing you need is to settle into your new home only to discover it has a mold issue. The minimum you should do is at least inspect for leaks, odors, or visible signs of mold throughout the house. However, now is the prime time to schedule a mold inspection and cleanup to detect the air quality of your home and find any hidden mold. 

  • Check Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Speaking of air quality, make sure to check the carbon monoxide detector and smoke alarms throughout the house. It’s a relief knowing that your home is equipped with up-to-date and working monitors for you and your family’s safety. If the house doesn’t have a carbon monoxide detector yet, then now is the perfect time to purchase and install one before moving in.

  • Inspect the Plumbing

Make sure that the plumbing is in mint condition before moving in rather than discovering it too late. Check for leaks and any signs of water damage, and make any appointments you need to fix leaks and issues. This will not only make things run smoother, but it will also save your water bill. While you’re at it, take a look at the water heater as well. Now is a good time to flush your water heater of sediment and check if it has a water softener as well.

There is already a long list of to-dos when it comes to moving out of your house, but many things go overlooked and forgotten when it comes to the new house. Give careful consideration to the different tasks listed to make your new major change a little easier. You will feel confident and relieved moving into your new home knowing you’ve changed the locks, deep cleaned the place, inspected for mold, checked the air and alarms, and inspected the plumbing.

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5 Home Decor Trends to Follow for 2020

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As 2019 comes to a close, new home decor trends are on the rise for 2020. Some of our favorite trends this year are making their way into the new year, while other trends are just starting anew. Keep your home trendy and classy with these five ongoing and new home decor trends.

  • Bring Life to Your Home

Add some freshness to your home with tasteful houseplants. If you’re not much of a green thumb, then look for low-maintenance plants such as succulents, snake plants (don’t worry, this plant gets its name solely from its looks), aloe vera, and Dracaenas. 

Not only will these plants add beauty to your home, but they also provide other benefits. For example, the juice from an aloe vera plant contains antibacterial properties, improves skin, and lowers blood sugar. Dracaenas help rid the air of harmful chemicals, which will ultimately increase the freshness and purification of the air in your home.  

  • Natural Wood Accents 

Cozy-up your home by adding some natural wood accents. Along with plants, wood seems to follow the trend of natural-elements that’s becoming more and more prevalent. Add wooden elements through picture frames, furniture, mirrors, and shelves. Complement your small succulent plants with custom floating shelves for your home.

  • Painted Parquet

Speaking of wood, give your home a creative pop with painted parquet floors. This new trend challenges the recently revisited trends of wallpapered walls and patterned tiles. Try to follow the overall feel of the space before painting the floors. If it’s a busy room, consider a simple wood stain. If the room is clean and basic, you may try adding a painted pattern to the floor, such as large diamond shapes.

  • Chalk it Up

While the farmhouse trend has slowly started to die down, we haven’t quite let go of the fun chalkboard decor that came with it. You can incorporate the natural wood trend by lining a chalkboard with thick wooden strips. Practice your lettering and calligraphy with chalk markers–which will withstand smudging 10x more than regular chalk. 

These elegant chalkboards are great for weekly scheduling, inspiring quotes, holiday themes, and silly sayings. You can place them in front entry-ways or prop them on an easel on a shelf for all your guests to admire. 

  • Lighten to brighten

Bright is the new black. For this trend, “bright” isn’t referring to throwing fluorescent colors all over your walls. Rather, the key is to brighten your home with the use of light. The more windows in a room, the better. However, not all rooms have the luxury of light access through windows. Even without windows, your home can feel bright through additional light fixtures and light tones. Brightening your home will create a more open and inviting space.

Keep up to date on the latest home decor trends by adding plants, wooden elements, painted floors, chalkboard art, and brighter themes to your home. Not only are these changes beautiful and trendy, but they will improve your living space through the use of air-purifying plants and brighter atmospheres.

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6 Ways to Make Move-In Day Go Smoothly

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Moving into a new home or apartment is a very exciting time. Whether you’ve made a move across the country or just down the block, there’s a lot to do to get ready to move, actually move, and move-in. Here are a few ways to help your move-in day go as smooth as possible.

1) Prep the House

Homes are rarely ever empty. Especially bare-bones, nothing but the walls and floor empty. The perfect time to get a deep and crazy thorough cleaning of your house is right before you move in. Who doesn’t want to move into a perfectly clean house? Take a day before your actual move-in day to deep clean. While you are at it, be sure to be checking the basic features of the house. Check to make sure the hot water is working, the stove turns on, the freezer gets cold, and the heater or AC work. If it doesn’t work, call a company that does heating services near you and get it fixed ASAP. Moving is stressful; don’t add to the stress by having to deal with a broken furnace or water heater.

2) Label

Label, label, label. Label everything. Moving equals hundreds of cardboard boxes and storage containers. It is such a pain to try and locate things when nothing is labeled. Make life easier on yourself and as you pack up your stuff label the boxes. Write down the room the things belong to, and what items are inside. This way, after a long day of moving, you’ll know where the silverware is so you can eat that hard-earned Chinese takeout.

3) Start Early

Moving in takes a while. I promise it will take longer than you think it will. First, you have to unload the truck, get the boxes to the right room, and then unpack it all. Start early in the morning to give yourself an entire day to move in. There’s no way to make moving in a super fun process, so just realize that your entire day will be dedicated to moving. Trying to get it done as quickly as possible might make the process less painful though.

4) Have a System

Gameplan how moving-day is going to go before it actually arrives. Moving will go much more smoothly if you focus on doing one task at a time. The first task: unload boxes from the truck and put them in the room they belong to. Second up, or it could be first (depends on how you packed the moving truck), move in the heavy furniture. Third, unpack what you need for the night. You won’t have time to unpack everything the first night, and maybe not even the first few days, and that’s okay. Use your labeled boxes to find what you need for the first night like bathroom supplies, bedspreads, and pajamas, and don’t stress about the other boxes for the night.

5) Recruit Help

There’s a reason professional moving companies exist. Moving is not exactly a one-man job. So recruit some help! Ask friends or neighbors, or a local church leader if they know anyone who could help you move in. Be polite and don’t monopolize their day, but having an extra set of strong arms to move heavy furniture will be extremely useful.

6) Get Ready to Work

Moving in is kind of a mental game. It’s a bit mundane bringing box after box into the house, but there’s no way around that work. So mentally prepare yourself for the long day ahead of you and find the determination to get it done. Motivate yourself with a hearty breakfast, yummy lunch break, and reward yourself that night by eating out. I promise you won’t want to try and cook the night you move in, plus all your pans will probably still be in boxes.

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What is Code Scaffolding in the Construction Industry?

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Code scaffolding is a term that gets thrown around quite frequently, in many industries. 

Scaffolding is now such a ubiquitous term that any form ‘supporting framework’ or structure is referred to as a scaffold, even if it is a virtual thing, such as the framework that computer code for applications is built around.

What interests us, of course, is not that kind of scaffolding but rather the construction form of scaffolding. 

There are codes of practice for how scaffolding should be used, and the way that it should be erected, to keep people safe. 

Code scaffolding focuses on how to ensure that people are safe and that the scaffolding is rated to support the right amount of weight, etc, when in use.

Scaffolding Best Practices

You may be familiar with building codes and regulations. Scaffolding is not classed as a building, so it is not subject to quite the same regulations.

However, there are still health and safety rules that govern how scaffolding should be erected and the type of scaffolding that can be used in a given situation.

Those rules differ for different parts of the world, but they are broadly similar in most developed countries with strict requirements on how tall scaffolding of different types can be and the number of platforms allowed at different heights.

Scaffolding Regulations and Requirements

Since scaffolding is not a permanent structure, it is governed by the general health and safety regulations for things such as working at heights. 

There are strict design requirements for scaffolds to ensure that they are stable on the ground and that they will not sink into the ground. 

The regulations also limit the minimum width of scaffolding to ensure that workers are able to move around safely while at a height, and they dictate how much weight a scaffolding installation should be able to safely handle, based on the height and intended use.

Scaffolding must be rated to handle the appropriate live load (usually 120kg per sq m for light-duty scaffolding) and also be able to support the weight of its own structure. 

This means that the design must take into account the number of expected platforms. 

Scaffolding is usually categorised into light, medium and heavy-duty applications. Light duty covers day to day use for things such as painting and decorating. 

Medium duty covers things like bricklaying and tiling, and heavy-duty is for other operations where someone may be moving large or heavy objects, working at elevation, or in a dangerous environment.

Putting Health and Safety First

Scaffolding is a tool, and when it is employed properly it makes working in hard to reach places and a height easy. 

You cannot afford to cut corners on scaffolding or use the wrong platform for the job. 

If you are not sure what kind of scaffolding you need for your construction project or you have any concerns about the practicality and safety of the scaffolding you are using, call a scaffolding expert like Skelscaff who offer everything from basic installation and rental to temporary fencing, heavy-duty scaffolding and more. 

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Pool Maintenance Tips to Keep Your Pool Clean

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A pool is a great asset to add to any home, and can be a great way to cool off after a warm day. However, if it is not properly maintained, it can become dirty and undesirable to take a dip in. Fortunately, there are simple interventions that you can implement in order to maintain its cleanliness. Here are some useful tips that you can use in order t keep your pool clean.

Clean Lint Pot on Front of Pool Pump

This is something that should be done as needed, but it is recommended to clean the lint pot located towards the front of the pool pump at least once every couple of weeks. In order to do this, turn off the pump and release the pressure on the system. 

As an alternative, you could clean out the debris catcher or the leaf basket. To expedite this process, it is recommended to get a debris removal system or a leaf trapper. In addition, you should also get a 2-speed pump if you have yet to upgrade. Having the proper pool supplies is important in consistently maintaining cleanliness. 

Check the Water Levels

The water levels of your pool are also important in order to maintain pool cleanliness. The water needs to be at the center level of the pool tile for optimal performance and cleanliness. The pump can run dry if the water levels are too low, and if it is too high, the skimmer will not work properly. This is especially important since the skimmer door is what keeps debris inside. 

Clean the Pool Filters

This is also something that should be done on a regular basis. However, depending on the condition of the pool and how it has been maintained, cleaning it every 4-6 months should suffice. Over time, especially after events such as big storms, can cause debris, garbage and other foreign materials to form in the pool. This can make it significantly harder to clean over time. 

Dirty filters should ideally be soaked in a solution comprising of 10% muriatic acid or trisodium phosphate. You will need a rubber trash can, eye protection and gloves. You can always add acid to water, but never add water to acid, lest you run the risk of increasing the concentration of the acid.

Check The Chlorine Generator

If you have a salt system style of pool, then you should place checking the chlorine generator as one of your priorities in maintaining cleanliness of a pool. The chemistry of the pool can become drastically altered if this step is overlooked.

Your pool requires the proper chemistry balance to function optimally and maintain cleanliness. Keep this clean and make sure debris do not get near it. While they can be costly, it will enhance your pool experience and make cleaning less of a hassle. 

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Preparing Your Yard for Winter

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Brown — sometimes that’s all you see after an especially cold, long winter. Your yard is one of the parts of your home that can be a place of refuge and rest, so having to bring it back to life after every winter season may not be your idea of fun. Fortunately, you can protect and preserve your yard by preparing for the cold winter with some simple steps. 

Mow Your Lawn

It is important to keep mowing your lawn until the ground freezes. If your lawn is too short, you run the risk of roots dying and seeing dead patches when summer rolls around. If your lawn is too long, you run the risk of fungus damage.

Drain Water

Pools, ponds, and other water features around your lawn should be drained of any water. In order to make sure that the features are properly drained, it’s important to hire specialists to check as the water features could end up being destroyed from freezing in the water lines. Sprinkler winterization can also be done by some companies to keep your sprinklers safe through those long winters. Draining water also goes for small containers or other areas with water, as you do not want to provide breeding grounds for mosquitos. 

Fertilize

Adding fertilizer during the fall can help your lawn survive the long winter when it won’t receive any nutrients. Choosing winterized fertilizer can help your lawns grow thicker roots and help it survive through the winter. 

Aerate

As it gets colder, your grass will focus more on growing its roots instead of the blades. It will greatly benefit your soil if you aerate the ground to promote the growth of these roots. When you aerate your lawn, there is better water drainage and it also gives your grass more oxygen. Adding new seeds in thinner areas is also a good idea as you will want to compensate for the winter months and have your lawn green in the spring.

Decrease Watering

When it gets closer to winter, it’s best to water your lawn less as your lawn will not need as much water as it gets colder. However, it’s important that you do not stop watering until the ground freezes as your lawn is using the water supply to get nutrients from the soil. Your lawn will need all the time it can get to prepare for winter. 

Leaves

Whether you like it or not, you will have to do something about those leaves piling up in your yard. If you already have, good on you! Leaves on the lawn will smother the grass and you will end up with dirt instead of grass come springtime.  Luckily, you have options when it comes to dealing with the leaves. Mulching the leaves can be the easiest, as you simply must cut the leaves into smaller pieces with a lawnmower. Raking is the default option and is best when the leaves really pile up. If the leaves pile up too thick, it’s best just to grab a rake and get to work.

With these steps, your lawn will be green by spring despite all the snow and you’ll have a sanctuary to rest, relax, and admire. 

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5 Essential Moving Tips and Tricks For Your Family

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Today, it is not uncommon for the entire family to pull up stakes in one city and move to another state or country. The moving experience for every family can be vastly different based on the plan that they create and the parameters in the time that is available. In some cases, the family may only have a month or two to get everything thing done properly. However, they may have enough lead time that gives them six months or more to prepare for the move that needs to be made. In either case, here are some great easy tips that can help your move go very smoothly and on time.

1. Save money on moving by looking for moving boxes at your neighborhood's recycling drop-off point

Moving can be very expensive to the family’s budget. Even if the move is being funded by the company that you are moving to, you may need to cut corners wherever you can to reduce the amount that will be paid out. Thankfully, you can cut part of the cost by looking for alternatives to paying for every expense that is incurred. For instance, one of the first places that you can save is on the moving boxes. You can save money by checking with your local neighborhood recycling drop off point for free boxes. Boxes are often available that have been dropped off by neighbors and the number that is available can be what you need and much more.

2. Reuse original boxes for electronics and appliances

If you happen to run short on the number that you can obtain from these drop off centers, you can use other methods to gather the moving boxes that will be needed to. For instance, if you have boxes in the home that have been previously used for your old appliances, electronics, and other items that you no longer have in your possession, you can use these boxes to begin packing your possessions for the move. Talk to family members and friends about your move to see if they can help you obtain all of the boxes that will be required.

3. Hire a moving company to assist with making the move

To prepare for the move, you need to know who will be moving all of your possessions to the new location. When making the choice, you have more than one option that you can make your selection from. Based on the timing and how much you have to move, you may want to hire a moving company and let their movers do the work for you. You will not go wrong by choosing North American Van Lines for your moving needs. For instance, the moving company can benefit from having a new customer and you can benefit from the added help for the move that needs to be made. For instance, when the moving company's representatives arrive at your home, they will not only be prepared to box every item up but also to move every box into the moving van. Because of their expertise, they can get these jobs done quickly, safely, and without breaking your valuable possessions while in transit.

4. Make a checklist of things that need to be done before the move

As you make plans for the move, you need to make sure that you are creating a list of things that must be done before you drive your van from the old location to the new area that you will be residing in. This checklist will help you in planning each step of the way and will give you the details that are needed to ensure a smooth transition. For instance, the checklist that you document will help you determine which furniture you will take with you and what needs to be purchased to furnish the new home. This is a very important part of the move since you may want to save on the cost of moving all of the old furniture into your new residence.

5. Want to save additional money? Move mid-week

When you have the option to choose a specific date that you want to move, it is important that you take into account the high traffic times. The highest demand for a moving company is on the weekend, so you want to choose the middle of the week for your best option.

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4 People You Can Hire to Make Property Ownership A Lot Easier

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Owning property seems like it is a super simple way to make money. You have an apartment, charge rent, and watch your income increase. 

While property ownership can be a great source of income, it can also be a lot of hard work. There are enough needs of the apartment and tenant that can keep you busy like this is your full-time job. 

There are a number of people you can hire that will make this process easier for you and that will cause you to spend less time at the rental property.

Accountant

If you are strong with math and bookkeeping, this may seem like a waste of money. You should definitely put every effort you can into saving money by doing things yourself. 

If you have a lot of property, it may be worth it to hire an accountant to help you manage your finances. They know how to manage these situations and make sure you are financially in good shape. Plus they are a huge help once tax season comes around.

Marketing

Your rental property only does you good if someone is living in it and rent is coming in. In order to do that you will need to make sure people can find your rental property. 

Hiring someone to market your property can really help find tenants. 

If done well, you won’t ever have to have a month when you aren’t having rent paid on the living space. Marketing can be as simple as posting to a Facebook group of people looking for housing, but hiring a marketing professional team will help you find versatile ways to keep your property filled. 

Maintenance 

If you are good with tools, maintenance is an easy thing to do on your own. If you aren’t so handy or own a lot of property, it can difficult to do all the required upkeep.

Hiring a maintenance team can help ease your burden. They can quickly and effectively solve problems and keep your property looking and working great. Hiring professionals can cost more money but can be worth it because they can handle a higher volume of problems, as well as the harder ones.

Property Manager

Property managers are the superstars of the rental property world. They can do just about anything you ask to help your property run smoothly. 

They can work in the front office, take payments, maintain the property, handle evictions, and find new tenants. Many property management companies offer all these services and more.

They are your Ace. They can do it all, including all of the functions previously mentioned. 

Conclusion

Managing property can get to be a lot of work. You don’t have to overwhelm yourself though. By hiring good professionals to handle some of your tasks, you can cut down on your workload and still get quality results. If you own property, I would definitely recommend looking into property management professionals, they will make your life so much easier, and let you get back to your free time.

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Process of Installing a Concrete Driveway

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Installing a concrete driveway requires a lot of planning and heavy labor. When well done the drive you will offer service for along time. Below is the process of installing a concrete driveway.

The most critical requirement of a good solid concrete driveway is the sub-base beneath. Too soft and wet soils make the bearing rock shift, leading to the failure of the concrete. If the substrate is dry or has had proper under drainage installed, placement of a leveling course of a suitable material is then required. 

After the sub base is set, ensure the angles of the slopes are what you want on top of the concrete. Make sure the grade slopes away from buildings and do not cause any ponding areas and that all the captured water runs to the area you wish it to go.

Layout the finished driveway using your pins and string line. Set the string to the top elevation of the concrete for the driveway. Once all the string lines are in place, take a look at what you have created. Do the curved areas have neat and smooth lines? Are the square areas square? Are all the slopes correct? If not, make the adjustments. Now install your wood forms, making sure they can handle the pressure from the concrete.

Once that's done it's time to plan the concrete pours. If the driveway is large, pouring it all at once is not practical and you won't have time to properly install it. A sudden rain shower or broiling sun can cook the concrete or destroy the finished surface. Carefully watch the weather for the day of the pour. Concrete panels should not be poured larger than twenty or twenty-five feet in length and fifteen feet wide.

A joint expansion material is used after every panel to cater for the expansion and contraction. Sealing the joints prevent water entry to the slabs, controls any weed germination in warmer days and curbs ice forming that may crack the slabs when the climate is cold.

You can use reinforcing bars on the driveway to prevent ready-mix trucks from accessing the form.

 A good concrete Driveway should be about 3000-pound to 4000 pounds to sustain more weight. Roadway edges should be double-reinforced with bars to block any chipping or cracking. 

After the concrete is done, smoothing the surface is next. Power trowel gives a smooth surface which is not polished. Other people may prefer a broom to finish the surface.

If you intend to use colored concrete, all the concrete must be purchased from the same seller. Even if two suppliers use the same dyes, the same stone, and the same water supply, different sands will cause different shades in the finished product. Different brands of dye with the same color name will cause ugly shading in the finished product as well.

Making the right choice of a concrete contractor for your project is an important stage to help you achieve what you want. There are several key areas that you should focus on as a homeowner.

Years of Experience

A contractor like Concrete contractors Bellevue WA with at least five years of experience has been in the business long enough to know the dos and don'ts. The damage is minimal as they are less prone to mistakes. If you are unsure of something, they can guide you on the right path. No one wants a contractor that will end up damaging your property.

Proper Insurance and License

The right insurance coverage and licensing are of more importance than experience years. In case an accident occurs to a person or the property is damaged by the contractor, it will be safe for you. Consult with the insurance company to know whether their insurance is valid for the time they will be working for you. 

References

Ask for at least five client references from the past two years. Past clients are often a good source for the concrete contractor's past work. You'll find out more information about them from a third-person point of view. A contractor with more positive references shows they are credible.

Services

The type of service that a concrete contractor offers is very vital. Some contractors are of specific service others are general in their work. Note carefully what the contractor is specialized in and hire those who are in the line of your project. Those that perform concrete driveway installation should be highly experienced in it.

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Simple Residential Repair Jobs

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You don’t have to assume that all repair jobs are always difficult or time-consuming. You don’t have to be a bonafide handyman in order to tackle basic home repair projects at all. If you notice any issues that pop up around your living space, you may be able to tackle them all by yourself without recruiting the assistance of a professional. Don’t assume that handling D.I.Y. projects around your home has to be as complex as managing Mars forklift repairs. It does not. There are actually quite a few residential repair jobs that the vast majority of individuals can take care of independently, believe it or not.

Hardwood Floor Refinishing

Hardwood floor refinishing is truthfully something you can manage without having to request outside assistance. If you want your hardwood floors to appear as good as new, refinishing work doesn’t have to seem out of reach for you at all. You may want to even think about doing a bit of sanding. 

Garbage Disposal Cleaning

Garbage disposals are household appliances that are spotted in the vast majority of kitchens. If you have a garbage disposal that's taken on a rather unpleasant stench, then you do not have to go into panic mode. That’s because clearing out garbage disposal muck tends to be a total piece of cake. Cleaning can also extract persistent odors. If your splashguard calls for replacement, you’re A-OK as well. That’s because this is a job that doesn’t even call for half an hour total. Garbage disposal replacement tends to be a cinch for individuals who are detail-oriented and thorough.

Wallpaper Extraction

Wallpaper can lead to an interior design scheme that’s elegant and pleasant. If you have wallpaper that’s on the old side, however, it may actually interfere with the look and vibe of your home. If you have tired wallpaper that’s peeling and that’s negatively influencing the way your home appears to everyone else, then you don’t have to hire a professional to do away with it for you. That’s because wallpaper extraction work is actually pretty straightforward. It’s something that doesn’t demand a substantial time commitment at all.

Flooring That Makes Squealing Noises

It can be so exasperating to walk on floors that, simply put, just will not shut up. If your floors constantly produce high-pitched squealing sounds, though, you don’t have to set aside a lot of money to call a professional for repair work. If you want to manage a floor that's loud and irritating, you can coat it lightly with a bit of talcum powder. Push this powder into any splits you notice. If you plan on handling floor refinishing work, then you need to make a point to meticulously eliminate all remnants of stubborn powder.

Fixture Painting

You don’t have to buy costly new fixtures for your home. If you want them to appear better than ever, you can think about painting them again. Fixture painting isn’t tough. It’s also a pretty swift job.

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Furniture Plays A Crucial Role In The Home

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The essence of a home is felt by everybody who steps foot in it. Whether one is a hermit or not, the quality of a home comes from its many layers. Furniture finds a place in these layers. This place is of no small importance and a homeowner wants to be mindful with how they go about choosing furniture for the home. One of the most important parts is the mattress.

Whether it be a mattress, bed frame, dresser, or any other part of the bedroom, a consumer is going to want quality when searching for furniture. Quality comes not only from craftsmanship but through materials. There's much to be processed when someone looks to buy furniture. Needs matter.

Enhance The Space

Furniture enhances the space. Choosing furniture can be difficult. Without the right guidance, one may get stuck with a product that will last a little while before falling apart. One should take a real assessment of the space in his or her home before deciding what furniture will best enhance the look. It's about quality and comfort and how the occupants can be best served. Good furniture will give utility with durability. Paying for products that won't last simply becomes expensive and wasteful.

Finding Pride In What You Buy

Whatever furniture one decides to put in their home, it can be said that there is an artistic element to a well-built specimen. Those responsible for building furniture should take pride in the work. A good builder invests in the product by taking the time to do it right. Just as a table made by an artisan is something that was crafted to withstand time, a mattress that was built right means that it will last longer. Lasting longer will mean it will serve one's health while simultaneously helping their bank account. This is only one factor when looking for a mattress. From mattress sizes to the quality of the materials outside and in, a pragmatic consumer has to reflect on the options.

Size Matters

Space is simply limited. The way one designs the furniture in their home can directly impact several factors about the living environment. One has to be mindful about maximizing the flow of the home. Creating a maze with ill-placed furniture can be frustrating. You will have to adjust the furniture to the size of your room.

If a mattress takes up the whole space in the room, it isn't functional. One needs space to stretch, walk, and live. Needs should drive a purchase decision. If one has a need for a queen mattress, they would be wise to look for quality in that size. Quality comes in size, but it also comes in material used.

The Very Best Sleep

One can spend copious amounts of time thinking about how sleep helps them. Good sleep has many health benefits attached to it. A gateway to good sleep? The right mattress. Maybe you are allergic to the material of a mattress. If spending eight-plus hours on something you are allergic to sounds like a healthy thing, you must be from another planet. Comfort is something that ought to be synonymous with a quality mattress. What is comfortable for your uncle may not be comfortable for you. Think about your needs.

Your Needs

Remember who you are buying for. This is something that should never get lost in the purchasing process. It is easy to get distracted when choosing a mattress. You may hear somewhere about a particular type that is superior to the rest. If you are buying a mattress for yourself, manage the buying process right by looking for quality mattresses that meet your needs.

Don’t use your mattress as the sofa and office chair. A mattress is meant to be a safe haven for a person to get proper rest. Proper rest allows a person to nail the exam, perform well at work, or give an important speech. Life starts with rest. Human beings need it. Furniture is about meeting needs. There is a lot to be said about a chair that enhances a space or a mattress that was made with quality materials that last. A consumer wants to maximize an investment, not waste it. Furniture is important for many things in life. One can help themselves by electing quality to serve them.

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The Craftsman's Skills Create Experiences

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A craftsman is a maker of goods that are usually formed using an artistic ability. This makes the craftsman's work very valuable. Craftsman's pieces can be made with tools or with their hands. The skills that they use to create the pieces are often of professional quality. Craftsmen often have to receive some form of education or training to perform these valuable skills. There are lots of different craftsmen in different industries today.

  • Woodcraft
  • Jewelry
  • Pottery
  • Glass
  • Metal

People who master these handy crafts are usually very good at helping others appreciate their surroundings and environmental perception. Craftsmen have the ability to make something simple look expensive. They create pieces that have the potential to add value and purpose to property.

The Value of our Craftsman Works And Moving

Every well-developed system or facility should be able to demonstrate the ability to adapt, change, or even move. Have you ever heard the saying, "You can take the boy out of the streets, but you can't take the streets out of the boy?" This same concept can apply to a building. Oftentimes, people wish that they could change their location without changing their home.

After discussing the topics about furniture and purpose, you will realize that people could have developed a connection to these pieces and places. This is why it can be helpful to hire Allied Van Lines to ensure that your craftsman pieces keep their value and sustainability and that moving is done correctly.

This will help to allow your new place of residence to give you a feeling of comfort. If your old pieces do not fit their old purpose, then you can also use some craftsman skills of your own to give them other uses!

Craftsman’s Furniture and its Capabilities

When a craftsman successfully makes the perfect furniture, everything that furniture comes in contact with looks more expensive in a sense. Think of it like this, a nice patio can give someone a beautiful view of the world around them. Now, imagine if the perfect patio table were there to compliment every moment that someone spent on that patio. Or, even better, imagine if there were outdoor couches and Martinique sofas available to help throw the perfect get together or meeting? This is only one of the craftsman's capabilities that he can use to provide an establishment of positioning and level of comfort.

Architecture Made by Craftsman

Architecture is another fascinating factor that craftsmen can manipulate. Yes, we can sit on couches and squat on chairs but what about architecture? Our ceilings, walls, doors, and floors all have the ability to enhance or deplete the quality of our surroundings as well. The architectural pieces and structures of society are very influential components that represent our status of development and cause.

Professional craftsmen or architects can design the perfect building that encompasses a particular use, or purpose. This is a very important component that can influence the amount of productivity and positivity that is exerted in that area. For example, a school would most likely be more effective or productive in an area that is designed to promote concentration and learning. This means that the ideal school would have lots of classrooms but no features that would promote distraction or chaos. This would be the complete opposite of a night club or any other area that thrives by promoting lively activity and fun. This type of place would benefit from architectural features like a dance floor with a patio or even a ceiling that also has a patio based design.

When architects incorporate these types of concepts into their designs, they help to set the mood for the facility's use. Architecture or real estate is also one of the leading businesses around the world. It is highly effective in influencing factors and perceptions about areas. For example, there is a dramatic difference in the way that people perceive a huge city compared to an underpopulated rural area. People may see the tall pieces of architecture of the city and think of convenience or even opportunity. On the other hand, a rural area may be associated with isolation, limited opportunity, and even poverty.

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5 Non-Decor Uses of Pallets

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

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

Fire Wood

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

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

Shelves

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

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

Storage

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

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

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

Scrap wood

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

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

Nails

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

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

Conclusion 

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

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5 Things You Need to Know Before Building a Log Home

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

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

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

  1. The Cost

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

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

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

  1. Shrinkage and Settling

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

  1. Maintenance Will Be Continuous

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

  1. Location is Vital

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

  1. The Energy Efficiency of a Log Cabin

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

Consider Everything Before Building a Log Cabin

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

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

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Farmhouse Flooring Ideas for Your Home

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

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

  1. Distressed Hardwood

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

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

  1. Whitewashed or Grey Wood Planks

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

  1. Neutral Carpet

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

  1. White Tile for Bathrooms

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

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

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

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Clever Insulation Tips to Improve Your Energy Efficiency

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

Check your HVAC Ductwork

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

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

Install Roof Insulation

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

Use a House Wrap

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

Insulate Your Attic and Basement

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

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

Improve Your Energy Efficiency with the Right Insulation

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

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Tools Every Homeowner Should Have for Small Projects & Repairs

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

Hammer

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

Vise Grips

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

Tape Measure

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

Combination Pliers

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

Screwdrivers

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

Level

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

Power Drill

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

Utility Knife

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

Tapes

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

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Tornado Safe Room Under Stairs: How to Reinforce

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

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

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

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

Adding Protection to your Tornado Safe Room Under the Stairs

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

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

Keeping Your Safe Room Airtight is Not Ideal

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

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

Tornado Safe Rooms Under the Stairs Are a Great Idea

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

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Fair Oaks Workshops

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