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Make Your Home Holiday Proof With These 7 Helpful Tips

December is a busy month for almost everyone, you’re trying to plan family get-togethers, you’re finishing up last minute Christmas shopping, and also trying to keep your home looking clean and fresh. Sometimes, there just isn’t enough time to do all the things you want to do. That’s why HouseLogic has created a list of ways to get through your never ending list of December to-do’s all while keeping your home looking presentable for any potential guests planning on showing up. Follow these tips to create a Better home for the holidays!

1. Embrace the List

“Begin the holidays with a brain dump, listing every single itsy-bitsy, annoying task you need to handle between now and New Year’s. Taxes? Dealing with child care? Decorating your front yard? Buying gifts? Cleaning the windows? The Q4 rush back at the (sigh) office?”

Then, “go back through the list and remove everything that you don’t have to do,” says Massie.

“Prioritize the home-related tasks that actually matter and ditch the ones that go beyond surface cleaning your guests might notice. Feel free to cackle with glee as you cross off “mop the upstairs bathroom.”

2. Cheat Your Way to a Great-Smelling Home

“Great-aunt Tilda’s rosemary roll recipe always makes the house smell lovely — but who has time for all the kneading and rising in December?”

“There’s an easy way to give your house that just-baked scent: Simmer vanilla, lemon, and thyme in a pot on the stove — no baking needed.”

“Even better, make your sneaky simmer part of the party. Massie recommends warming something delicious in your Crock-Pot. Try mulled cider, which requires only apple cider, a few spices, and rum or brandy — if you’re feeling daring.”

“This will make the whole house smell good while not taking up an extra burner on the stove, and give you something delicious to enjoy,” Massie says.”

3. Don’t Sweat Your Kids’ Mess

“Let go of putting every single toy away each night before bed,” says Didi Wong, an integrative wellness and life coach.”

“The kids are on vacation, and when they wake up, the fun begins all over again,” she says. So let junior relish in his freedom and scatter his toys across his room or some other designated area. That’s at least one less battle a day, right?”

4. Focus on the Obvious When You Clean

“OK, that’s stating the obvious. But sometimes you need to give yourself permission for everything to not be perfect.”

“Of course you want a clean home, but you don’t need to clean every closet and shelf,” says professional organizer Robyn Reynolds.

“Instead, focus on the places your guests will see and use. Clean hand towels in the bathroom along with a sparkling sink and toilet will give the impression your entire home has been deep-cleaned recently — even if there is a bit of dust on your coffee table.”

5. Outsource Some Jobs

“You might be a die-hard DIYer, but that doesn’t mean you have to do everything.”

“Outsource anything you’re not good at or comfortable with,” says Massie. “The investment will be well worth the savings of time and sanity.”

“Professional cleaners can do in a few hours what would take you days. And if you really want those lights strung outside, there are people for that, too. So maybe you spend a little less on gifts this year, but more on your family’s ability to enjoy home over the holidays. Totally worth it.”

“Outsourcing doesn’t always have to have dollars attached. It could be teaming up with friends and family. Maybe a friend of yours who’s got that handyman knack but no baking skills will be willing to string your lights in exchange for some holiday treats you’re making anyway? That’s a win-win.”

6. Give Artificial Trees a Chance

“It’s time to get over your holiday tree nostalgia. Sure, tromping out to the woods with dad to pick out the perfect fir was a delight, but back then, you weren’t the one who had to keep the thing watered all month and sweep up the fallen needles every night.”

“Artificial trees come in a variety of natural-looking shapes and sizes. Or go all out with silver, gold, even fluorescent pink! Bonus: When you reuse the same tree year after year, you’re actually doing something nice for the earth (especially if you buy yours secondhand). Miss the evergreen smell? That’s what scented candles are for.”

7. Keep It Real

“If your big family dinner comes and the ham is on fire and your dog peed in the living room and little Mackenzie won’t stop banging her darn blocks against the window, don’t panic. Wonderful days have been salvaged from worse. Guests only care that you’re together.

“If you approach the event with good intentions, it may not turn out to be exactly what you envisioned, but your family and guests will still thank you and be appreciative of your time and effort in putting together such a wonderfully festive get-together,” says Wong.”

Quoted Content Sourced from HouseLogic

Become A Better Homeowner With These Tips

Becoming a homeowner can be a long process, becoming a good homeowner can be an even longer one. These tips from HouseLogic will help any homeowner become the best homeowner they can be. Once you read these tips, show off your skills to your close friends and family and become the envy of all the other homeowners in your neighborhood!

1. Showering Without Precautions

Spending 20 minutes in the steam may be good for your pores, but it’s also great for mold and mildew. Run the exhaust fan while you’re singing in the shower, squeegee the walls afterward, and scrub that grout every few months.

“Once you let the grout go, it gets worse and worse, and harder and harder to maintain,” says Mylène Merlo, a REALTOR® in San Diego. Grungy grout is a big turnoff for buyers. And redoing it is a pain and expensive to hire out.

2. Keeping Out the Sun

Shutting your shades on winter days might seem smart. More insulation from the chilly weather, right? Your energy bill disagrees. A sunny window can warm your home and lower your heating costs. And as a bonus, you could see a decrease in seasonal depression.

But your original idea wasn’t totally wrong. Closing those blinds at night can keep your home toasty.

Bad habits are the opposite of what makes you happy. They’re what make you miserable.
M.J. Ryan, author of “Habit Changers: 81 Game-Changing Mantras to Mindfully Realize Your Goals”

3. Compulsively Buying Bargains

Finding a deal feels so good, but cheaper isn’t always better. In fact, budget buys might cost you more in the long run. For instance, dollar paintbrushes will leave annoying streaks, requiring a costly re-do.

And when it comes to appliances, permit a little splurge — especially if selling your home is on the horizon.

“I always err with going for high-quality appliances,” Merlo says. “There is a noticeable difference between the cheapest and next-cheapest models. And buyers want to see stainless steel.”

4. Running a Half-Full Dishwasher

You get a gold star for always remembering to start your dishwasher before bed, right? Clean dishes every morning! Go you! Yeah, about that: Your dishwasher wastes water unless it’s completely full.

Dishwashers do save more water than washing by hand (just try telling that to your mom), but most machines use the same amount of water regardless of how many plates you’ve stuffed inside, making a half-empty cycle significantly less efficient. For a household of one or two, once a day can be overkill.

5. Mega-Mulching

A “tree volcano” might sound like a grand ol’ time, but it’s actually damaging your foliage. Too much mulch suffocates your tree, causing root rot and welcoming invasive insects. Your precious trees really are precious. Each one can add $2,000 or more to your home’s value while saving on energy costs.Read More In Plant Trees to Save Energy and Grow ValueProtect your precious trees by packing mulch loosely, letting water filter properly toward the trunk.

6. Going on a Remodeling Rampage

Don’t break out the sledgehammer for a demo three weeks after moving in unless your home needs serious, obvious work. Give yourself time to understand the home’s quirks before renovating.

“You don’t know what your needs are when you first move into a home,” says Merlo. “You should live there for at least six months to figure out the space you need. If you do too much too soon, you’ll regret it.”

For instance, you could dump $15,000 into a kitchen remodel — only to realize the original layout would have worked better for holiday parties. Or you paint a room your favorite color, Wild Plum, only to realize the natural light in the room makes it look more like Rotten Plum. Whoops.

7. Packratting

You know clutter is bad, but you just… can’t… help it. You had to put that unused exercise bike in the spare room instead of by the road as a freebie because what if? Plus, there’s so much in there already, and decluttering seems like such an insurmountable goal — even though every jam-packed square foot is space you can’t enjoy.

If the task seems impossible, Ryan recommends starting small.

“Do one small thing,” she says. “Clean out a drawer or reorganize your counter, and then you feel the satisfaction of having done it. It becomes easier to do the next small thing.”

Just remember: Breaking habits takes time and a lot of slip-ups. “It’s important to be kind to ourselves when we blow it,” Ryan says. “When we create new habits, we’re building new wiring, but it’s not like the old wiring disappears. Don’t turn goof-ups into give-ups.”

Content Sourced From HouseLogic 

Have A Stress-Free Painting Experience With These Tips

Although painting can be a tedious and time consuming project, depending on the size of the space you’re painting, there’s no better feeling than updating your living space with a fresh new color. As the temperatures begin to cool, now is the perfect time to start updating your home’s look with colors used primarily in a specific season. These tips from Home Depot provide homeowners the advice needed to make those painting updates not seem so difficult and will even have you finishing much quicker than anticipated.

1. Perfect tape lines

“Don’t waste time manually ripping off and applying tape to prepare an area for painting – use this dispenser to apply tape in one continuous application. Your hands will thank you.”

2. Smooth concrete floors in one step

“BEHR Premium Granite Grip can make your concrete floor look brand new by helping to hide cracks and imperfection. Plus, it’s easy to apply and dries quickly.”

3. Quickly paint edges

“Make your paint job look less rough around the edges (literally), with this nifty tool. Its built-in edging guide helps you get it right the first time around.”

4. Cover corners with ease

“This is the perfect tool for getting in hard to reach nooks and crannies. It also has a clean finish – meaning you don’t have to deal with unexpected paint drips.”

5. Spray for smooth coverage

“It doesn’t matter if this is your first DIY paint project or you’re professional, the HVLP paint sprayer is an easy-to-use tool that provide smooth results.”

6. Flawless touch-ups

“This touch-up painter can really come in handy—especially if you have a house filled with children and pets that love to run around. You can store paint for quick and easy applications later (think scuffs and marks that appear over time).”

7. Avoid painter’s tape bleeds

“Ever take the time to put down painter’s tape, only to find it didn’t stop the paint from bleeding through? Frog Tape has a unique formula that reacts to paint to create a micro-barrier, helping you avoid do-overs.”

Quoted Content Sourced From Home Depot

Remove Bathroom Mold With These Tips

How many of you enjoy doing chores? The answer is probably no, as it would be with a majority of homeowners. However, keeping up with the cleanliness of your bathroom will help you to avoid the dreaded mold problem that happens to bathrooms when they aren’t cleaned very often. Clean Organized Family Home has listed some great tips to help you avoid bathroom mold, and remove it altogether in the event it has already started to build up. Do you have any proven additional tips you know work and would like to provide, let us know in the comments section!

1. Start by opening the bathroom window.

“Start by opening the window, if you have one. If you don’t, grab a fan and position it so that it blows clean air from other rooms inside.”

2. Mix a bleach and water bathroom mold removal solution.

“Put on your gloves, then mix a mold removal solution of 1 cup of bleach with 1 gallon of water in a bucket. Swirl it around gently with your gloved hand, making sure none of the solution splashes out onto nearby surfaces.

While bleach is a key player in mold removal, it can also remove color from carpeting and bath mats. So be sure items in your bathroom that could be stained are removed before you begin. If you have carpeting outside your bathroom, plan your post mold clean up so that there’s no chance of dripping the cleaning solution on your way out.”

3. Fill a second bucket with clean water for rinsing.

“This will be the water you use after your mold cleanup cleaning to rinse away the cleaning solution.”

4. Apply the bathroom mold removal solution to the areas of mold and mildew.

“Apply mold cleaner with a sponge or rag.

Using a sponge or rag, apply the mold removal mix to walls, tile or grout – wherever mold has grabbed a toehold.”

5. Let sit for 15 minutes.

“Let the solution to sit on surfaces with mold or mildew for at least 15 minutes to allow it enough time to do its job.”

6. Rinse the surfaces of mold and mildew.

“Rinse the bleach solution completely from the tile or grout surface, using the second bucket of clean water.”

7. Thoroughly dry cleaned surfaces.

“Dry the cleaned areas in your bathroom completely. You can use old rags, paper towels, or a fan.”

8. If you can still smell mold or mildew, repeat steps above.

“Repeat the surface cleaning routine above if you can still see or smell mold or mildew after cleaning.”

9. Practice prevention against future mold and mildew.

“Once the mold and mildew have been removed, consider using mold inhibiting solutions, such as vinegar, to regularly clean bathroom surfaces, especially walls and bathroom tiles.

Keep bathroom humidity below 55 percent if you can.

Don’t become numbers-bound here; simply turning on the bathroom fan for 15 minutes after your shower or bath will significantly lower the bathroom humidity.

Mildew resistant paint, or mold killing paint, can also be applied to keep these unwanted growths out.

And of course, regular bathroom cleaning is key to keeping any growths out of your bathroom.”

Quoted Content Sourced From Clean Organized Family Home

Tips to Pest-Proof Your Home for Fall

As the colder months begin to arrive, making sure your home is prepared for all those little critters in and around your home should be a top priority. Our partner, Terminix, has created a list, of how to pest-proof your home for the fall months and what part of the home to do so. Have you already gotten your home pest-proof or have you been holding off until a later date? These tips may make you get your home pest-proofed much sooner than you were originally planning.

Now that the seasons are starting to transition and it’s not 100 degrees outside, you need to make sure your home is ready for fall. Here are a few areas you should inspect in and around your home to help keep pests out as the summer wanes and leaves change.

PEST PROOF YOUR ATTIC/ROOF

“Check for mice, squirrels or raccoons already living here. Trap them and then seal off the entrances. Trapping prior to sealing is important.”

PEST PROOF YOUR WALLS

“While subterranean termites generally swarm as the weather starts to warm up, some species actually can swarm year round. However, you can identify and eradicate all species now. Check for:

  • Wood-colored termite droppings
  • Damage to the wood grain of your home
  • Visible mud tunnels or tubes
  • Actual small winged insects leaving wooden structures.”

PEST PROOF YOUR PORCH

“When it’s time to bring your plants in for the winter, make sure to do it right to avoid carrying in unwanted guests along with them. Remove dead or damaged leaves, check the pots thoroughly and water them to flush insects out of the dirt before bringing them inside. Scrub the pot, too, as spiders will often lay eggs on the bottom of terra cotta pots.”

PEST PROOF YOUR WINDOWS

“Check screens for damage and fix any openings to keep out mosquitoes, stink bugs, ladybugs and more.”

PEST PROOF YOUR BEDROOM

“Getting rid of bed bugs is no easy task, so be thorough and committed in your efforts. Regularly wash everything, including bedding, curtains and mattress covers. Always keep an eye out for bugs on your mattress, headboard and bedframe when replacing your sheets. You’re looking for:

  • Shed bed bug skins, exoskeletons or shells
  • Fecal stains on your mattress and bedding
  • Blood stains on your sheets and pajamas”

PEST PROOF YOUR FLOORS

“Insect hibernation is no joke, and your nice warm home is a great place to wake up. As part of your seasonal inspection and bug prevention, vacuum every floor surface and use the nozzle attachment to get everywhere — you never know where a hibernating boxelder bug or flea eggs could be hidden. Inspect the legs and underside of furniture for pests that can easily make their way to and from your carpet.”

PEST PROOF YOUR ROOF

“Rats and mice can fit through a lot of tight spaces, especially when it’s freezing outside and warm and welcoming inside, so you’ll want to inspect for even the smallest potential points of entry. Take time (and a ladder!) to carefully check every inch of your home’s exterior. Address any potential entrances such as loose shingles or portions of your roof that may be pulling away from the awning. Examine all vents, roof returns, flashing along your chimney and skylights for gaps that could give pests easy access to your home.”

Quoted Content Sourced From Terminix

Maintenance Tips For Your Dishwasher

When you think of kitchen appliances, which one would you say is the most important? The fridge, the stove, the microwave, but most importantly may be the dishwasher. This helps all homeowners make sure their chores take less time by the fundamental ease this appliance offers. Making sure your dishwasher is maintained helps it to continue to have optimal performance. You wouldn’t want to run your wash and create a larger mess than just dirty dishes. These tips from Dishwasher Guide provide great insight on what you can do to help your dishwasher continue to run at optimal performance long after you have purchased it. Are you currently performing any of these tips?

1. Scrape off food particles before washing:

“While the dishwasher does a great job of cleaning dried food, helping it out a little bit is always beneficial. So make sure that you remove the larger food particles that might be stuck on the dishes after a big meal. This will reduce the load on your machine and will help in providing a thoroughly clean job.”

2. Get the hot water started first:

“Cleaning the dishes in hot water always gives the best results. But it takes time for the water from the faucet to get heated up. So if you start your dishwasher at the same time, the first few cycles are always with cold water. The alternative is to turn on the faucet and let the water run for sometime till it starts getting warm. Switch on the dishwasher after this so that the plates get thoroughly cleaned. This can be very useful during the winter months.”

3. Handwash once in a while:

“Washing a few items manually is more sensible than cramming up the dishwasher with too many things. If you overload, none of the dishes will get properly washed.”

4. Purchase soaps with rinse aids:

“When purchasing soaps for your dishwasher, only go for the ones that have rinse aids. This makes cleaning a much easier process and you also end up saving some money. Another alternative to rinse aids is using white vinegar. It works just as well as any rinse aid and is much cheaper.”

5. Thorough cleaning is a necessity:

“Always remember to clean your dishwasher on a regular basis. Clean the gasket every few days to ensure its longevity. The nozzles should also be cleared along with the trap. Take out the filters and clean them thoroughly with warm water.”

6. Use dishwasher detergent in a proper manner:

“Always measure the amount of detergent you use. And always remember that detergents meant for hand washing are very different from the ones used in a dishwasher. Never make the mistake of using one for the other.”

7. Using an accurate cycle time:

“Another important dishwasher maintenance tip concerns the time duration of each cycle. Using shorter cycles can cut back on electricity bills and save water. But the downside is that dishes do not get cleaned thoroughly. So if you want to use shorter cycles, make sure that the really dirty dishes get a hand wash too.”

8. Use Vinegar to run an empty dishwasher:

“This procedure helps in removing dirt pieces that might be stuck in the washer. Just fill in a cup of vinegar into an empty dishwasher and let it run for a few cycles. Apart from cleaning the machine, it also ends up giving it a fresh fragrance.”

Quoted Content Sourced From Dishwasher Guide

Save Money By Reducing Your Water Heater Energy Use

Reducing costs and saving energy, those are two of the most used terms we hear from homeowners. Being able to do both allows you to save money on monthly bills while also allowing you to put that money towards other home projects or family vacations. One place where you can look to find those potential reduced costs is with your home’s water heater. HouseLogic has provided several helpful tips that will allow you to save energy and cut down on your monthly bill costs all revolving around how you use your water heater. How many of these tips have you already put to work? Did you see a decrease in your monthly bill and if so, how much did you save?

#1: Turn Down Your Tank’s Thermostat

“For every 10 degrees you turn it down, you’ll save 3% to 5% on your bill. Most water heaters come preset at 140 degrees, which has the added risk of scalding. The Energy Department recommends most households lower it to 120 degrees. That’s high enough for your needs, and high enough to reduce mineral buildup in your tank and pipes.”

“Here’s how to ensure you get 120 degrees:

  • First measure to see what temperature your water is at now. Don’t trust the thermostat. They are often inaccurate. Instead, use a thermometer to measure the temperature of the hot water at the faucet farthest away from the heater.
  • To remember this setting, mark that temperature on your thermostat.
  • Now turn down the thermostat to what you think will be 120 degrees, based on your earlier measurement.
  • Wait at least 2 hours. Measure the water temperature again at the same far-away faucet. It may take a few attempts to get it right.
  • Once it’s right, mark that spot on your thermostat so you’ll remember it.”

“If the thermostat on your water heater doesn’t have a numbered gauge, put it midway between the “low” and “medium” marks. Wait a day, and then measure the tap temperature as described above. Keep adjusting until you hit your target temperature.”

“Keep in mind that some water heaters have two thermostats — one for the bottom heating element and one for the top.”

#2: Use Less Hot Water

“One sure way to cut hot water costs is to use less of it.

A family of four showering five minutes a day uses 700 gallons of water each week — a three-year supply of drinking water for one person!

Simply by installing low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators ($10 to $20 each), you’ll cut your hot water consumption by 25% to 60%. Plus, you’ll save on your water bill. That family of four using low-flow fixtures can save 14,000 gallons of water a year.

Also, make sure you use the “economy” setting on your dishwasher, and break the pre-washing habit. Modern dishwashers can handle a dirty dish. Scrape what’s left of dinner into the trash or compost bin and then load.”

#3: Drain the Sediment

“Tanks naturally build up sediment, which reduces efficiency and makes saving energy a challenge. Draining the tank will keep it running efficiently. And it’s really easy to do:

  • Turn off the water and power to the unit. On a gas unit, set the burner to “pilot.”
  • Connect a garden hose to the spigot at the base of the tank.
  • With the other end of the hose pointed at your floor drain, carefully lift the tank’s pressure-relief valve and turn on the tank’s spigot; water should begin to flow.

Tip: While most manufacturers recommend draining the tank once or twice a year, you don’t have to drain it completely; in fact, the Department of Energy recommends draining less water more often — just a quart every three months.”

#4: Insulate Exposed Hot-Water Pipes

“By insulating your hot water pipes, water will arrive at the faucet 2 to 4 degrees warmer, which means you won’t have to wait as long for it to heat up, thus saving energy, water, and money.

While this isn’t an expensive DIY job — 6-ft.-long, self-sealing sleeves ($2.50) easily slip over pipes — it could take effort, depending on where your hot water pipes are located. Exposed pipes in the basement are easy targets: Hard-to-reach pipes in crawl spaces or walls might not be worth the trouble.”

#5: Insulate Your Hot Water Tank

“If you have an older tank, and especially if it’s located in an unheated space, wrapping it with an insulating blanket is a cheap and easy way to reduce costs.

Manufacturers have figured this out, so most newer models already are insulated. It’s easy to find out which one you have. Look on its label to see if it has an R-value of at least 24. If not, you should insulate your tank.

With these older models, an insulating blanket can cut heat loss by 25% to 45% and save 4% to 9% on the average water-heating bill.

Insulating blankets are easy to install and inexpensive ($20). When dressing your tank for saving energy, be careful not to block the thermostat on an electric water heater or the air inlet and exhaust on a gas unit.

If you have a newer model that’s already insulated, don’t make the mistake of thinking you can get additional savings by adding a layer of insulation. It can block critical components and become hazardous. Check with your manufacturer.”

Quoted Content Sourced From HouseLogic

Cost-Efficient Home Upgrades That Might Surprise You

Are you afraid of the costs attached with adding upgrades to your home? Don’t be, there’s so many cost-efficient options out there that can add between 1%-10% value to your home that you may have thought were pricey upgrades. Realtor.com has highlighted six home upgrades that are surprisingly not as pricey as you might think and will add an immediate increase in home value. These projects are also sure to add immediate satisfaction as soon as you begin enjoying the benefits of these upgrades once they’re completed. Have you done any of the below upgrades in your home?

1. Spruce up your patio

Average cost of a new patio: $3,007
Increase in home value: 3% to 4%

“It’s no secret that more homeowners regard their backyard as an extension of their living space. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that outdoor kitchens and furnished patio areas alongside a fire pit are increasingly popular.”

“Irene Medina, a real estate agent at Medina Group Real Estate in Coral Springs, FL, says an outdoor kitchen is “a big plus in homes [priced] from $350,000 and up.” This can be anything from an area in the patio with a built-in grill and sink to a full-blown kitchen.”

“Low-hassle option: Don’t have the money for an all-out kitchen? Try adding french doors that open to the outside. This simple change will make your home feel lighter and brighter, and will appeal to potential buyers—all for an average cost of $879.”

———

2. Add a hot tub

Average cost to install an above-ground hot tub: $321
Increase in home value1% to 4%

“Having a hot tub on the property is a great selling point if the home doesn’t have a pool or a water view,” Medina says. If the property has a built-in pool, a hot spa attached to it or nearby could also go a long way, she says. Prices run the gamut, depending on how elaborate you want your spa to be. At the upper end, these babies can cost thousands, once plumbing, electrical, and the tub itself are factored in. But they don’t have to.”

“Low-hassle option: Don’t want to heat things up that much? Potential buyers are simply looking for a backyard oasis. Consider a simpler (and cheaper) upgrade by adding a hammock surrounded by lush landscaping—your costs will start around a whopping $30 for the hammock.”

———

3. Get smart

Average cost to install a home automation system: $1,282
Increase in home value3% to 5%

“These days, smart intercom/doorbells that can show a homeowner video of a visitor at the door (and use remote communication) are becoming the Main Street version of the urban doorman. Smart garage door openers, security systems, and thermostats are also becoming more common.”

“Not only will these smart gadgets help you feel more secure in your home, they are also a big draw for the tech-savvy buyer looking for innovative and practical home features, says Mike McGrew, treasurer for the National Association of Realtors® and CEO of McGrew Real Estate in Lawrence, KS.”

“Low-hassle option: Consider a small splurge on just a Wi-Fi video doorbell. For as little as $100, you’ll have a fancy amenity that can provide convenience and some peace of mind.”

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4. Add an in-law suite

Average cost of a basement remodel: $18,618
Increase in home value: 5% to 10%

“Real estate agent Nancy Itteilag of Washington Fine Properties in Washington, DC, says she recently was “thisclose” to selling a home, but for one major obstacle: The property wasn’t fit to accommodate the prospective buyer’s au pair.”

“In her market, where double incomes are at an all-time high, there’s big demand for homes with an au pair suite, in-law unit, or a flexible living space (often on the lower level of a two-story house to maximize privacy for both au pair and family). So while the initial costs seem quite high, they could pay off in spades when it’s time for a sale.”

“Low-hassle option: If you already have a finished basement, you’re in luck. Want to give the feeling of privacy without doing a total remodel of the space? Throw up some temporary walls. For just over $200, you’ll have an extra bedroom instantly. And if your basement has a separate entrance, it’s all the better—it can double as a living space that can be rented out for extra income.”

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5. Create a wine room 

Cost of a wine cellar: Starts at $4,000
Increase in home value: Varies, but can be as much as 2%

“We’re not talking about a dark closet where you hide your best reds (although those pay off, too). We mean a next-level wine space—possibly furnished with a small island or table—for entertaining guests and igniting conversation.”

“For some wine collectors, this room is becoming more of a showpiece than simply a repository to let wine age. Accordingly, in high-end homes, these cellars are also moving from the lower level to upper floors—often housed in glass walls and under LED lighting.”

“Wine cellars are a bit like swimming pools. They come in all shapes and sizes and costs. And the next folks that look at your house may want nothing to do with them,” McGrew says. “So do a wine cellar because you want a wine cellar, and don’t try to justify it by an increase in value when you sell.”

“Low-hassle option: Carve out a space in your home to display a few decorative wine racks and a wine fridge to keep bottles chilled and ready for entertaining. You could create your own wine enclave for as little as $200!”

———

6. Change up your flooring

Average cost of installing new flooring: $2,853
Increase in home value: 5%

“It might not sound sexy, but flooring is also high on the list when it comes to features that pay off in a big way. Whether it’s made of reclaimed hardwood or picturesque tile or features heating, it can set the tone for the whole house.”

“Want to step it up even more? Heated floors in common areas such as kitchens and bathrooms are a nice amenity for cold winter mornings—and, of course, add a sweet touch of luxury to your home.”

“Low-hassle option: If you’re looking for a home makeover on the cheap, consider new carpeting in neutral colors, which can go a long way in pleasing prospective buyers. The best part? The price tag, with an average cost of just $1,491.”

Quoted Content Sourced From Realtor.com

Don’t Overlook These Minor Projects

Moving in to your new home can be both an exciting but also stressful time. There are so many projects to do that we often overlook some of the most important ones. At first glance, these tasks may seem unimportant and can easily be placed on hold, but look again, these are actually the projects you should take care of right away. Realtor.com has called out eight projects that you should take the time from unpacking and focus on. They may seem minor, but if not attended to could create larger problems later.

Change the locks

“Before moving even one tiny piece of furniture into your new home, change the locks—or at least have them re-keyed. It’s not that you don’t trust the sellers (who are, we’re sure, perfectly respectable and upstanding citizens). It’s that you shouldn’t trust everyone who’s had contact with those keys over the years, any of whom could have copied the keys for some unsavory purpose.”

Change the alarm batteries

“Making sure your fire and carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries may not seemlike a pressing issue while you’re in the middle of a stressful move (and aren’t they all), but it’s the kind of thing that gets ignored and then forgotten. Better to deal with it now, when the home is empty and you can make a quick sweep of the house—without lugging a ladder around furniture.”

Review your home inspector’s report

“Can’t find your inspector’s report? Minto says reports are often filed with the escrow papers—but don’t wait until something goes wrong to pull them out. A good home inspector will outline the most important issues in their report, so use their expertise as a guide for your first few days of ownership. If they’ve marked anything as particularly pressing, make sure to handle it before moving in.”

Find the circuit breaker

“If you were there during inspection, you should know where your junction box is, but if you don’t, finding it “should be the first and foremost thing that should be attended to,” Minto says. During a move, when you’re plugging all sorts of electrical doodads into the wall, you don’t want to be lost in the dark hunting for that elusive metal box. (While you’re there, find the water shut-off, too.)”

“Then, get familiar: If it’s not already well-marked, have your spouse or another family member stand in different parts of the house while you flip different switches, and make a note of which ones handle different rooms.”

Deal with any water problems

“Looking at that inspector’s report? Deal with water-related issues immediately, says Minto. These tend to be troublesome because they’re so easily ignored—”out of sight, out of mind,” he says. A leaky toilet might seem minor, but the steady drip can damage internal structural components.”

“Check your roof, too: If the rubber vent boots on your roof are leaking, you might not know it for a while.”

“By the time they see it in a ceiling, there’s been a fair amount of water,” Minto says.”

Caulk everything

“This one isn’t mandatory, but caulking is a whole lot easier if you do it when the house is empty, letting you see all the nooks and crannies that might need a little sealing—and don’t forget the exterior. Minto says he sees caulking issues on “every home,” and while they might seem minor, it doesn’t take long before cracking gives way to leaks and even more water issues.”

Plan your emergency exits

“Before you begin bringing in furniture, walk through every room and decide how you would escape in an emergency. This can help you spot problem areas or rooms that need some adjustments—say, removing bars or adding egress windows to a basement.”

Clean your gutters

“BO-RING. Right? You can put this off until Day 2 of your big move, but don’t let the dullness of the task push you to procrastination: If the previous homeowners didn’t clean the gutters, you need to do so ASAP.”

Quoted Content Sourced From Realtor.com

Key Measurements for Kitchen Design

One of the most exciting, but also difficult renovation projects any homeowner comes across is the kitchen renovation. From deciding on what type of countertop, to the overall flow of the kitchen, this renovation project can cause any homeowner headaches. It is however, important to also make sure that you’re measuring each part of the kitchen correctly. Any wrong measurement can create a lot more problems and headaches than you had originally planned for. Kristen Whalen has outlined several measurement tips for each part of the kitchen that any home renovator should remember and consider when creating the plan for the project. Do you make sure to take a good look at your measurements to make sure they’re accurate, let us know!

Cabinetry

“New cabinetry will serve as the backbone of the kitchen. Configure the cabinetry to make the most use of your kitchen’s size and floor plan. Here are some basic dimensions that will help you envision your new space. Most standard base cabinets are 34-1/2” high. Add an additional 1-1/2” for a standard countertop and 18” for a standard backsplash. The standard depth will be 24”. Countertops typically will be installed around 25 1/2” in depth to allow for an overhang. An overhang allows for spills to fall onto the floor instead of onto your cabinets.”

“Sizes for upper wall cabinets vary a great deal. Standard depth varies between 12″ to 13” with the exception cabinets above the fridge which are 24’’. In height, cabinets often extend to the ceiling in order to maximize storage space. Standard widths for cabinetry are typically available in 3” increments, with the exception for custom cabinets that can be made to any dimension. This is a brief overview of cabinetry dimensions, but partner with your designer to see what’s available to fit into the dimensions of your room.”

Triangle

“If you’ve been thinking about a remodel, odds are you’ve heard a lot about the kitchen work triangle. In basic terms, the kitchen triangle refers to the connection of the three main work areas in your kitchen: the sink, stove and refrigerator. As a general guideline, the distance between these areas should be no less than 4’ and no larger than 9’. In addition, the sum of all the legs in a work triangle should not be greater than 26’. This will require careful space planning because if the sum of the legs in the work triangle is too small, the kitchen will feel too cramped and people will be bumping into each other.”

“Conversely, if the sum of the legs is too large, cooking can become a very tiring task. As well as the recommended distance between the points of the work triangle, another crucial thing to bear in mind is to make sure that the legs of the triangle aren’t obstructed by anything. Trash cans, islands and other kitchen necessities in the wrong place can end up making cooking a hassle.”

Islands

“When it comes to kitchen islands, we generally think of additional storage, preparation and serving space in the kitchen. It can also serve as additional seating in the room. The size and location of the island can really affect the efficiency of the kitchen if done incorrectly. Islands that obstruct the flow of traffic to and from the sink, refrigerator, stove and primary workstations can create blockages.”

“How can you tell if an island will work in your kitchen? At minimum, you want to leave 36” of floor space on the ends of the island and 42” of space between the working sides of the island. If there are multiple cooks in the kitchen, a minimum 48” work aisle is recommended.”

Appliances

“The availability of appliance options in size, style, configuration and features keeps growing. Where should you begin? Simplify the process by narrowing your focus to what will best fit your kitchen, your cooking habits and your aesthetics. Are you ready to start shopping? Before you begin, here are a few dimensions you need to know.”

“Industry standards on appliance sizes (widths) usually include reserving at least 30″ for a refrigerator, 30″ for a range and/or cooktop, 24″ for dishwashers, and 30″ for wall ovens. Many cooktops and ranges can add a 5th and 6th burner, increasing their size to 42″ and 48″ respectively. Refrigerators come in all sizes all the way up to 48″ and over. Appliances don’t always meet standard sizing, so decide on the appliances you want in your kitchen before you begin planning your cabinetry. This ensures that you know the exact height, width and depth your openings should be.”

Quoted Content Sourced From Kristen Whalen and Improvenet

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