Archive for the ‘home projects’ Category

12 Important Home Winterization Tips

Friday, October 16th, 2015

It may not feel like it here in southern California, but winter is on the way, and that means that if you are a homeowner then in order to keep yourself and your family safe, and prevent potential high utility and/or repair bills, you need to check a few things before colder weather sets in.  th

1. Furnace evaluation – it is important to have your furnace checked to make sure there are no cracks or other problems, especially if it is more than 15 years old. Most utility companies will schedule a free visit to evaluate your system. If any problems are found you can contact a licensed HVAC company to make necessary repairs.

2. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors – since you may be using your heater this winter is it imperative that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working. Batteries should be changed twice a year to stay safe, so now is a great time to do so.

3. Rain gutters – this is the time to have rain gutters cleaned out and evaluated for proper functioning.

4. Drains – Drainage should also be checked to make sure they are working properly and there are no clogs. You can do a simple test with your garden hose, by running water into the drain and making sure it goes where it needs to go (most drains in my area drain to the street in front of the homes, so it is easy to check).

5. Seal your windows, doors, and vents – check all your windows for drafts and seal any discovered cracks or openings where air can get in (in most cases caulk will work, but there are other products that expand – ask your local home improvement store for the best ideas in your area). The same thing goes for appliances that vent to the outside, like from your clothes dryer or microwave oven. Any air that can get into your home makes it more expensive to keep the temperature comfortable, so proper insulation and air sealing is a must.

6. Close the air gaps in water and waste pipes – Some reports I read stated that all homes have air gaps in piping systems, and that it wastes money every year. There are products you can purchase that will form air-tight water resistant seals to keep out the air.

7. Watch for spiders inside – if you see many spiders in your home that could be an indication that there are gaps in your house – find the source(s) and seal it(them).

8. Winterize your pantry – make sure your pantry is stocked with non-perishable food items and lots of bottled water, in case you are trapped at home due to bad weather. Now is the time to stock up on items like soups, canned vegetables and other ready-to-eat items that can get you through a spell of bad weather or lack of electricity. You also want to make sure you have first aid kits, emergency candles and flashlights, and that you know how to turn off your water main and electric panel.

9. Wash, dry and cover your patio furniture – this will preserve the life of your items.

10. Inspect your fireplace and chimney – make sure your fireplace is in good working order and the flue is functioning and clean, same for the chimney. Calling out a professional is a good idea.

11. Switch fans to reverse (clockwise) position – as soon as the temperatures start to dip, make sure to switch your house fans to the clockwise mode – this insures heat will be circulated evenly and blown down.

12. Check your roof for leaks and broken tiles – replace or repair if necessary.

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New House, New Yard

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013


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Cheap Home Improvements That Make the Most Sense

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Spring is the time of year where many of us think about renewing, revitalizing and, revamping. I suppose you can call it the season for contemplation. If you are a homeowner it is often the time where you realize there are things around your home that need some attention or maybe just a little tender loving care. But you also may wonder which projects are the most beneficial or cost-effective. Here are some guidelines, whether or not you are planning to sell you home one day or stay there.

Clean, minimize and declutter. We all have busy lives and things can tend to pile up. This is a great time of year to go through your closets, book shelves and magazine racks, and garages or attics. Get rid of the things you no longer use. This is the number one way to improve your living space. Clean your carpets and sofas, try to really minimize – furniture, plants, books, “stuff!” Not only will it improve your home’s feel, but you will get a great sense of satisfaction in purging all the unwanted things. You can make it a fun family lesson by including your children in the clean up; don’t forget to take them along when you donate unwanted items, as it shows them full circle how those things can help better the lives of others.

Don’t forget to go through your pantry. Throw away food items that are expired, and organize your shelves. If you are selling your home this will be appealing to potential buyers as well–a decluttered space allows them to picture making that space their own easier than they are able to do if there is stuff everywhere.

For those who are considering selling their homes soon or down the road, a decluttered and clean home is the best way to obtain offers more quickly. It is also one of the cheaper ways to really show off your space, with the best return on the investment.

Lighten up! Take a good look at your home and assess how bright it feels. Clean your windows and window treatments, remove items that block windows. If you are selling your home this is another important consideration, as buyers don’t tend to like dark spaces. You may want to consider different window treatments if the ones you have don’t allow the natural light to filter through, or you can remove them completely. Another trick is paint–a fresh coat of paint can really affect the lighting and add value to your home with little expense.

Plants: If you have space in your home that is vacant, or if a room looks boring consider adding a few green plants. They add color, are relatively inexpensive, and can really liven up any area. When I help sellers stage their homes for sale plants and flowers are one of my favorite tools. If you don’t have a green thumb there are plant varieties that do not need much maintenance, so talk to an expert at your local garden center. Don’t overdue it with plants, just a few strategically placed can do wonders.

Landcaping: It is easy to completely change the curb appeal of your home -front and back – without spending thousands of dollars, and you can even do it yourself. Flowers and shrubs are the number one way to so this. Choose varying heights and colors and just have fun. If you need guidance flip through a few home and garden magazines to get some great ideas.

If you don’t have a big area for planting consider a potted garden. If your front yard has only grass think about clearing a way for a small flower bed. Making it flowing instead of angled (for example, cutting curvy lines instead of just a square) will make it more appealing on the eyes. If you can’t spend a lot on flowers you can use bulbs, and now is the perfect time to plant them.

It is important to make a plan before you go shop for plants. Pencil out your plans and measure the space so you know how many plants or flowers you need to buy. If you simply cannot figure out what to do you can always consult a professional landscaper, who can help you create a plan and sketch it out. The cost will be minimal but you can work in stages, as time or budget permits, until you finish your project.

Revitalizing rooms: Take a good look at the rooms in your home once you have decluttered and cleaned them. Do they still feel like they need an extra something special to give them new life? You can try new throw pillows , area rugs or pictures on the walls (all which you can purchase inexpensively at stores like Target, WalMart or Home Goods) but it might be even more fun to rearrange the furniture, space-permitting. I have done this in my own home several times, and it really makes a room feel new.

No matter what you do to spruce up your home there are always ways to do so, even on a budget. Getting the whole family involved is a great way to not only spend time together, but also to teach children to take pride in their home.

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