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30 05, 2014

The Green Thumb: Four Easy Ways To Get More From Your Home Garden

The Green Thumb: Four Easy Ways to Get More From Your Home GardenGrowing a home garden creates beauty, oxygen and even food for our families to enjoy. If you’re looking to get more from your home garden, here are four easy ways to improve a green thumb.

A Good Foundation For Your Garden

Good soil is the foundation of a healthy garden. By using quality soil, you can give your garden plants the best start possible. Adding a variety of organic matter to soil will give plants a happy home to grow in.

Add two to three inches of organic matter to your garden bed at the beginning of each season. Compost, dried leaves, grass clipping and dry manure are all good organic materials to use in your garden.

Manures provides nitrogen, which is a great contributor to soil aeration and composting efforts. Being so far along in the decomposing process, the nutrients in manure are readily available for plants.

Fresh manure, however, is more likely to leach out of the soil into groundwater and streams (where the nutrients it provides can become pollutants).

Design Fundamentals To Achieve Harmony And Flow

Although landscaping your home garden is a matter of personal taste and preference, there are some fundamental principles for creating a good garden.

Balance and proportion establish the basic structure of a garden. Order is obtained through symmetry, repetition of plants, and colors or thoughtful contrast. This will create a garden space that is both balanced and proportioned.

Harmony and unity is achieved when different aspects of your garden work together as a whole. Strong focal points and a limited color palette can help with the overall look of your garden.

Prevent the eye from making sudden stops with good flow and transition in your garden. Gradual changes in height and color create the illusion of a larger space, and will make for a full and finished look in your garden.

Variety Is Important And Maintenance A Must

Have a good combination in your garden of annuals, perennials, shrubs, trees and food producing plants. Plants that require little maintenance and come back each year will take some of the pressure off when it comes to seasonal changes and garden preparation.

With more time to focus on bedding plants and vegetable gardens, you’ll yield a bigger reward for your gardening efforts. Water features and other structural focal points work in much the same way; they provide your outdoor space with added beauty and appeal that is easy to maintain throughout the year.

Don’t Be Bothered By Pests And Bugs

Although people have differing opinions on pests, at home a greener garden is always a healthier garden. Harsh pest control products can hurt wildlife and pollute groundwater.

You may be solving one problem, but using chemical pesticides contributes to another. There are many ways keep pests under control without chemical products.

With so many easy to make homemade pesticides to discover, gardeners can ditch the chemical alternative without sacrificing quality. There are also plants such as marigolds that can be incorporated into your garden that deter pests.

A garden is a labor of love that creates a welcoming outdoor space that your family can enjoy. Call your local mortgage professional for more information on creating or finding your perfect home garden.

16 05, 2014

3 DIY Kitchen Upgrades That Will Boost Your Home Selling Price With Just A Few Hours Work

3 DIY Kitchen Upgrades That Will Boost Your Home Selling Price With Just a Few Hours WorkHomeowners who want to increase the appeal of their residence before putting it up for sale can, within a few hours and with a little elbow grease, perform some do-it-yourself (DIY) kitchen upgrades that are sure to pique the interest of would-be buyers.

Many people either have or are in the process of listing their home, so it makes sense to do as much as possible to attract the interest of prospective purchasers.

It need not cost a proverbial arm and a leg to boost the selling price of a home. Here are three DIY kitchen upgrades that will help homeowners gain a competitive advantage in the real estate market and get attractive offers for their residence.

On-The-Cheap Cabinet Upgrades

For a DIY upgrade project that won’t cost much money and won’t take much time, homeowners should consider revamping their cabinetry, as long as the cabinets are structurally sound. After cleaning them and, if necessary, sanding down any rough spots, homeowners can apply a coat or two of paint and, after the paint dries, install new knobs or handles to finish off the project.

The end result will be a totally transformed kitchen that likely won’t require more than a can of paint, sandpaper, some cleaner and some knobs or handles.

Upgrade Your Countertops

It’s amazing how much of a difference an upgraded countertop can make to the overall look of a kitchen. Homeowners who believe that a new countertop would definitely transform their kitchen have a number of options at their disposal such as buying a new one, tiling over the existing one or repainting the existing one.

Often the easiest of the three options is repainting, since this simply involves sanding the surface, priming it, applying the paint and then applying numerous coats of polyurethane to safeguard the finish.

Transform Your Kitchen Backsplash

While a nice-looking kitchen backsplash can be a plus for would-be home buyers, the fact of the matter is that an ugly backsplash will definitely turn off prospective purchasers.

A cheap and relatively quick way to give a backsplash a new lease on life is to use so-called tile decals that, because of the adhesive they contain, can be pasted over top of existing backsplash tiles.

There many different options in terms of styles, colors and concepts, so homeowners will be able to find the perfect option to make their backsplash look as good as new.

Preparing to list a home and get acceptable offers involves ensuring that your home will stack up nicely compared to other homes up for sale in the area.

As it turns out, doing some quick and relatively simple kitchen upgrades will help to attract prospective buyers. Tips for performing any of these DIY upgrades can be found either at neighborhood big-box stores or online.

For more information on the real estate market or to get more information on any related topics, call your trusted mortgage professional today for a no-obligation consultation.

4 04, 2014

Give Your Home An Instant Facelift, Wallpaper Is Back!

Give Your Home an Instant Facelift: Wallpaper Is Back in a Big Way, Baby!Though it can be an entirely different story for a trend shift in the opposite direction, which then requires you to get out the soaking bucket and scraping tool, wallpaper coming back into style is a home décor blessing for many.

Wallpaper is back in – in a big way! – and it’s making your dreams of accomplishing a fashionable living space come true much faster and easier than you could have imagined.

Quite frankly, wallpaper can do the “fashionable home” trick to virtually any room in your house, adding that touch of warmth and personality you’ve so far only seen in show homes. It’s time to get with the trends, and give your home a quick and easy facelift!

A World Of Design With Wallpaper

Let’s face it: wallpaper can achieve a world of options that paint simply never could! Now that wallpaper has come back in to style, we are seeing plenty of homes being “glammed” and “dolled” up accordingly.

With many patterns and styles available, suddenly your home’s imperfections can easily be hidden. You can give the small room in your home a facelift with a wallpaper pattern with vertical stripes, instantly making the room feel larger.

Or you can suddenly have the accent wall you’ve always dreamed of but have been to afraid to commit to, creating a focal point behind the bed in your master bedroom, or behind the sofa in the living room. Or if you’re an artsy person, you can add more art to your walls without lifting a nail – instead just install some patterned, decorative wallpaper.

Modern Innovations: Digitally Printed Wallpaper

Wallpaper is certainly back in style, but not without new and creative innovations since its last time around. Now, homeowners can get ultra creative and get personalized wallpapers for their homes with the technical innovation that allows for digitally printed wallpaper designs.

Do you have a specific wall or room in your house that you want to transform for a particular theme? Do you have a photograph that you’d like to use as the inspiration for a one-wall mural in your living room? Well, with customized digital printed wallpaper, you’re in luck.

Vinyl Wallpaper: Easy Installation And Removal

Now that wallpaper is back in style, more innovations have been made in terms of how it is installed and removed. Luckily, for us wallpaper fans, we will no longer have to struggle when we choose to put it up or when we decide to take it down! Now there are many vinyl wallpapers that are self-adhesive and very simple to install.

They are also available in a range of textures and finishes, and make use of eco-solvent inks. Easy to install, easy to remove, and cleanable with simply a damp cloth, a vinyl wallpaper print might be just the key to your home’s quick and easy facelift.

Whether you opt for the vinyl or digitally printed innovation of wallpaper or choose to stick with the good old paper version, you’ll have your home beautified in no time. There’s no need to worry about changing trends either; regardless of what you choose, advancements in the modern return of wallpaper mean that less rigorous activity will be required should the wallpaper trend go back “out.”

So take advantage of this practical design trend, and give your home the facelift it deserves! And of course you can always contact your trusted real estate advisor for design tips or places where you can get your show home inspiration. 

7 03, 2014

How To Add Color To Your Home Decor Without Going Overboard

How To Add Color To Your Home Décor Without Going OverboardThere is a fine line between adding color to your home décor and using too much color, so that you feel like you are living inside a rainbow.

A little bit of color will add a lot of fun and interest to your home design, but too much color can be overwhelming. How can you achieve that perfect balance?

Here Are Some Tips To Keep In Mind For Using Color In Your Home In A Subtle And Balanced Way:

  • Use Color Schemes

Before choosing the colors for your décor, do a little bit of research into color schemes and how they work, so you know how to combine colors harmoniously.

For example, you can choose a complementary color scheme with shades that are across each other on the color wheel – such as blue and orange or purple and yellow.

Or you could try an analogous color scheme, which is a scheme where the colors are next to each other on the colour wheel – such as blue, green and purple.

  • Use The 60/30/10 Rule

This is a rule that interior decorators use in order to use colors in a balanced way. Use the dominant color on 60% of the room, so that it will create a unifying look.

Then, use the secondary color on 30% of the room in order to add visual interest. Lastly, use an accent color for 10% of the room to add that little extra.

For example, you might use the dominant color for the walls and carpet, the secondary color for the upholstery and the accent color for some pillows, a wall hanging or a throw rug.

  • Try An Accent Wall

Perhaps you have found a gorgeous paint color, but it’s just a little too bright and overwhelming to use for all four walls of a room.

In this case, you can simply paint one wall with the color and the other walls with a neutral tone, so that you can enjoy the shade without it being overpowering.

You could also simply use the color in one aspect of the room, such as the baseboards or the door jams.

These are just a few of the ways that you can incorporate color into your home design, without it being overpowering. For more information, call your trusted mortgage professional.

14 02, 2014

What To Consider When Buying A Fixer-Upper

What To Consider When Buying A Fixer-UpperIn your imagination it seems like a great idea – you purchase an older run-down property and you have the chance to fix it up and turn it into the home of your dreams.

To Renovate, Or Not To Renovate

However, the renovation project that is simply a quick montage in your imagination will actually take several months or years and thousands of dollars in real life.

The concept of renovating a “fixer-upper” property is exciting, but the reality is a lot of work and investment. How can you make sure that you are making the right choice for you?

One of the main advantages of buying a fixer-upper property is that you will usually be able to get the property for a much cheaper price. But is it worth it for the amount of time and money you will need to invest in the property?

Here Are Some Questions You Should Be Asking Yourself When Making Your Decision:

  • Do you (or your friends and family members) have the skills to be able to perform most of the renovations yourself? If you do the labor yourself, you will be able to save thousands of dollars that you would have spent hiring contractors, which will make the renovation a much more profitable project.
  • Are you comfortable with the idea of living in a construction zone, perhaps for several months or more? There will be dust and noise everywhere and you might have to cope without a kitchen or a shower for a while.
  • Make sure that you have a thorough inspection of the home performed so that you can see whether the home has a sturdy foundation, good wiring and plumbing, etc. If your inspection reveals any structural issues or water damage, you might be in for more than you bargained for. You need to start with a house that has “good bones”.
  • If the home has serious structural, plumbing or wiring problems you should stay away – these repairs are very expensive but “invisible”, so you are unlikely to recoup your costs when you sell the home.
  • Add up the estimated costs for renovating the property along with the cost of the home – does it still work out to be a better deal or would you be better off buying a new property.
  • What is your strategy for financing the renovations? If your only option is putting it on the credit card, you might want to think twice because this is a very high interest option.

Buying a fixer-upper property can be a great investment and can give you the opportunity to transform a run-down old house into the property of your dreams. However, make sure you that you consider the choice carefully before making your decision.

For more information about home mortgage advice and how to get approved to buy a home, contact your trusted mortgage professional. 

11 10, 2013

4 Tips On Giving Your Mudroom A Makeover

4 Tips On Giving Your Mudroom A MakeoverFrom crunched-up leaves stuck to bottoms of shoes to bulky coats shed as soon as kids walk through the door, mudrooms are ideal for keeping outdoor dirt, wet clothing and outerwear from being strewn throughout your home.

Mudrooms not only keep the rest of your house clean, but they also designate a spot for those last-minute grabs, such as coats, umbrellas and purses, when you’re running out the door.

These rooms are great catchalls. However, an organized mudroom can make your life and those hectic mornings much less stressful. Below are smart tips for getting your mudroom ready this fall.

1. Put In Seating

After shedding outer layers, the next thing anyone wants to do after coming inside on a cold, wet day is to take off their mucky shoes. So make sure there is a built-in bench or convenient chair for people to sit down and tend to their tootsies. Whether taking off or putting on shoes, it makes life a little more comfortable.

2. Install A Sink

A mudroom is supposed to be the catchall for everything dirty from the outdoors. With this in mind, a sink for washing off the grime and mud makes sense. Then you can clean your clothing in the contained space without having to haul them to the kitchen sink or laundry room.

3. Create Cubbies

Even though this space is designated as a drop-off point before entering the main living space, you don’t want everything just thrown into one big confusing pile. Create individual cubbies for every person in your household. Each cubby should contain a shelf for purses and backpacks, hooks for coats and a low place for shoes.

4. Splurge On A Boot Warmer

While electric boot warmers can be a little expensive, you will definitely think it’s worth the money when it’s freezing outside and your shoes are damp. Electric boot warmers heat your shoes on pegs and dry them out at the same time. They also work well on gloves.

Fall is a mudroom’s busy season; so get it in shape with the tips above. With all the coats hanging on their hooks, shoes in their cubbies and dirt contained to this designated space, your life will be a little more organized and much less stressful!

4 10, 2013

Do Fence Me In, Here Are A Few Good Yard Fencing Options

Do Fence Me In… Your Yard Fencing OptionsWhether you just got a puppy, have newly mobile children or built a pool, there are a multitude of reasons for wanting to keep people and animals in your yard, while preventing other from entering.

Picking the perfect fence can be difficult, so below we’ve outlined the main fencing materials to choose from and characteristics to consider about each.

Wood

Wood seems to be the most common material used in yards across the country — especially when wanting privacy. Depending on the type of wood you purchase, you’ll probably want to stain the planks to protect them from rot and ultra-violet light. Be prepared to retreat and maintain your wooden fence about every four years.

Chain Link

This economical option does its job well as a security fence. It’ll keep pets in and people out. And with the new black or green plastic coating chain link comes in, it almost blends into any background.

Chain link fences shouldn’t require any maintenance for at least 10 years, and they usually come with warranties for at least that long.

Wrought Iron

If you’re in the market for an ornate fence that you can see through and provides high security, then wrought iron should be your pick. These fences are actually made from steel and aluminum and need virtually no upkeep. Don’t expect to see any issues for at least 20 years.

Vinyl

You like the look of wood, but you hate the upkeep. Well, if you’re willing to spend the extra dough, usually four to five times the cost of wood, then you can have a man-made product that looks like the real thing.

Faux-wood fencing is usually seen in white, but can come in a variety of colors and even look almost identical to actual wooden planks. The best part is — no maintenance required!

Whatever your reason for building a fence, such as privacy, security, safety or to add curb appeal, you’ll have hundreds of options to choose amongst. Be sure you carefully consider each of the main fencing materials above, along with their look and maintenance requirements before you make the investment.

27 09, 2013

5 Cool Ideas For Green Home Remodeling

5 Cool Ideas For Green Home RemodelingEvery home seems to have a never-ending remodeling list. As you consider tackling your next project, it usually pays off if you also think about helping the environment.

Green remodeling can last longer, utilize recycled materials and typically end up saving you money in the long run. Below are several environment-friendly ideas that will have your neighbors green with envy.

1. Rain Gardens

Rain gardens are a shallow depressions in your yard planted with native shrubs and flowers. When there is a large rainfall, all the water rushes along roadways picking up dirt and pollutants along their way to drainage systems and eventually rivers and streams.

Rain gardens catch water run-off, which reduces the street flooding and makes for cleaner water sources.

2. Reclaimed Hardwoods

Using reclaimed wood is all of the rage right now – and it’s easy to see why. Reclaimed wood helps the environment by being recycled and repurposed from other structures. Turning an old barn into your new hardwood floors not only saves trees and looks great, but is an interesting conversation point.

3. Paper Covers Rock

Most kitchen remodels usually include the discussion of to go with granite or quartz countertops. However compressed paper or glass surfaces are actually better for the environment. Instead of harvesting natural resources, you’ll be recycling resources that have already been used.

4. One Shower Head

It’s tempting to use multiple showerheads and powerfully flushing toilets. However, reducing your water usage saves you money. Install low-flow water fixtures and limit yourself to just one fantastic showerhead in each bathroom. You’ll help the earth and your pocketbook by saving water.

5. Passive Solar Design

Solar panels are a great way to trap the sun’s energy and reduce your utility bills. However, if you’re not ready to directly tap into the grid, then there are ways you can remodel your home using passive solar design. Concrete floors and thick concrete, brick or plaster walls soak up the suns rays during the day and release them at night when the temperature drops.

Going green doesn’t have to hamper your lifestyle or your home’s design. With the five green remodeling ideas above, you’ll add value to your home, help the environment and put money back in your bank account.

17 09, 2013

Don’t Overlook These Important Factors When Buying A New Home

Don't Overlook These Important Factors When Buying A New HomeMost of the time when buying a property, there are a few obvious factors that you will consider – such as the location, the number of bedrooms, the accessibility to schools or your workplace, the need for repairs and any interior features. However, there are a few things that might not have crossed your mind during your house hunting but are still quite important.

Water Quality

Most home buyers don’t even think about the water quality at the property until they get to the inspection stage. However, if you find out that the home has hard water this will dull your clothes when you wash them and irritate your skin.

Hard water will also create calcium deposits within your showers and faucets and even inside your washing machine and dishwasher. Have the water tested so you know its quality and can look into options for a water purification system.

Cell Phone Reception

When looking at a house, don’t forget to pull out your cell phone and check to make sure that you get good reception. There are a number of “dead zones” throughout the country and you don’t want to buy a house where you can’t make a phone call on your cell.

If you have found your dream house but it has poor phone coverage, there is the option to buy a wireless cell phone signal booster.

Lead, Asbestos And Other Health Risks

When buying homes that are older, make sure that you have the home thoroughly inspected for any health risks such as lead paint or asbestos insulation.

These materials were commonly used several decades ago, before anyone realized how toxic they really are. If you find any toxic substances you can have them removed safely or look for a healthier home.

Slope Of The Land

Take a walk around the property and look at the land around the house. Is it flat, or does the earth dip or slope in one corner of the property? Keep in mind that when it rains, water will flow to the lowest point on the property.

If the house is at the bottom of a slope you might have issues with dampness collecting around the foundations. This can be corrected only with serious landscaping, so it’s much easier to buy a house on higher ground.

These are just a few factors to consider that you might not have thought of when buying a house. For more real estate tips on property, contact your real estate professional.

6 09, 2013

How To Create The Perfect Garage Workshop

Creating The Perfect Garage WorkshopMost men, and even handy women, dream of a perfectly organized work space where their tools are orderly and they can tackle that list of home DIY projects.

However, renovations can get put on hold because there’s not a designated place to work. Tools are usually scattered throughout closets and the kitchen table serves as a workbench.

You can create a space for all of your improvement projects by turning a section of your garage into a construction-friendly, wonderfully organized haven for your tools and home makeover endeavors.

Below are easy steps to building the perfect garage workshop.

Make Sure You Have Adequate Space

Ideally, you’d still like to be able to get your cars in their designated space, so look for a vacant area at the back of the garage or along one side. If you’re garage isn’t quite large enough, then you might want to consider adding on to it or building an outdoor shed.

Create A Work Surface

For your work surface, you could repurpose old kitchen cabinets with a counter or build yourself a rough table using lumber from your local hardware store. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s sturdy. Cabinets will provide storage for all of the nuts, bolts, paint and little tools you’ll accumulate.

Clear A Wall

Whether this is above your workstation or alongside it, you’ll want an open area to hang up and organize your tools, so that they don’t clutter your surface. Put up a pegboard and create custom spaces with hooks.

There’s a certain satisfaction that comes will seeing all your tools hanging with in reach — and a desire to fill it up.

Install Decent Lighting

You need to see what you’re doing when working with power tools. High-intensity lights, such as halogens or LEDs are perfect for brightening up your space. Utilizing them in track lighting or on bendable gooseneck fixtures can help you adjust the light to exactly where you need it.

Don’t let the thought of a home improvement project send you scurrying all over the house for tools. Take one weekend to follow these four steps and create a designated space for your garage workshop.

Everything will be in one place and it won’t matter how long a project takes or how much of a mess you make!

For more tips on home maintenance contact your trusted mortgage professional today.

30 08, 2013

7 Simple Steps To Finish Your Basement This Holiday Weekend

7 Simple Steps To Finish Your Basement This Holiday WeekendNot only does the Labor Day weekend signal a little time off work, but it also indicates a close to the summer season, which means it’s time to get ready for colder weather.

So get in the spirit of the long weekend and put the labor of love into your home by creating a cozy hideaway that your family can retreat to once the outdoors become too chilly.

One of the best places to create this snug space is to mimic hibernating animals and go under ground — to the basement.

Whether your lowest level needs a facelift or is completely unfinished, Labor Day weekend is the perfect time to make a game plan and get started on remodeling your basement.

Step 1 – Obtain A Permit

Before you can just slap up insulation and drywall, you need to make sure your basement is even fit to dwell in.

Check with your city to ensure there aren’t any permits you need to obtain and that the space is up to code. If you don’t do it right, then this update could haunt you when it comes time to sell.

Step 2 – Get The Air Flowing

You’ll want this space to be warm in winter and cool in the summer. Contact a contractor to see if getting air to this lower level will be as easy as tapping into your current HVAC system and whether or not your existing appliance can handle the extra space.

Step 3 – Design And Frame

Now comes the fun part. Decide what you want down there! A bedroom or two, a man cave, or TV room; a blank slate provides all sorts of exciting options. Once you’ve got a plan, start framing it out.

Step 4 – Add Emergency Exits

This underground level needs exit points that go directly outside. So, install a back door or windows that someone could fit through in case of emergency. If there are bedrooms in the design, they also each need their own exit point.

Step 5 – Insulate And Drywall

While the ground surrounding your home provides some insulation, you’ll want to properly insulate around the perimeter and in between rooms to provide a noise barrier. Then put up the drywall.

Step 6 – Install Flooring

Pick out your flooring, such as wood, tile, carpet or vinyl. It mostly depends on what type of rooms you’re planning to create. Make sure your floors are level before you lay anything down. It’s especially common to find slanted floors in older homes.

Step 7 – Paint And Decorate

You’re almost finished! Pick out your paint colors, move in your furniture and enjoy your new cozy hideaway. Colder weather will be here before you know it, so use the long Labor Day weekend to get this project started.

23 08, 2013

Preventing And Clearing Clogs In Your Home

Preventing And Clearing Clogs In Your HomeYou’re brushing your teeth and you turn on the faucet. It’s not draining and starts to back up. Here’s the dilemma; do you spit and let it sit or run to the kitchen? One thing is for sure; having a clogged drain can be a major annoyance.

Clogs not only frustrate a homeowner but they can be hard on your plumbing. The added pressure they create puts stress on your pipes and can shorten their lifespan.

So end the issue by following the guidelines below. You’ll learn how to prevent clogging and clear the ones you already have.

No Food Down The Drain

Even if you have a disposal, it’s not good for your pipes to have sticky, mushy food shoved through them. Peel vegetables and scrape plates into the trashcan.

Also, avoid pouring grease down the drain. Animal fat can congeal into a solid and form a blockage. Instead, store it in a sealable container in the freezer. Once it’s full, trash it!

Only TP In The Toilets

All feminine hygiene products should be thrown away, because most don’t dissolve quickly enough and can cause a backup. And be sure to secure toilet lids from curious children, because you have to admit that it is pretty fun to watch almost anything go “bye-bye.”

Hair Today, Problem Tomorrow

Don’t wash loose hair down the drain. Collect it and throw it away after your shower. If you shed a lot, it might be beneficial to install drain screens to catch loose hair and make it easy to dispose. Be sure to clean these out every few weeks.

Chemicals Should Be Used With Caution

Be wary about using chemical drain cleaners. They can erode cast-iron pipes and usually don’t remove an entire clog, so it can easily recur. You should consider hiring a professional plumber to snake your drains; or better yet, buy your own augur at the hardware store for about $15.

Homeowners can be hard on their drains. From hair to food, clogs are a time-consuming frustration that might cost you big. Treat your plumbing with a little love and it’ll reward you by quickly removing water and waste from your sight!

For more helpful tips on periodic home maintenance, please feel free to contact your trusted mortgage professional today.

9 08, 2013

Quick Tips To Beat The Heat And Save On Your Electric Bill

Beat The Heat With A Programmable ThermostatSummer always brings with it a hard choice: Do you turn down the thermostat to stay cool and resign yourself to high power bills? Or, do you sweat it out to save some dough?

If you’ve been struggling with this dilemma, don’t fret.

With a programmable thermostat, you can beat the heat and save money, too. They are easy to install and can save you over $100 a year.

The key is that they have different temperature settings for certain times of the day. The latest models can be self-installed, are easy to program and can be controlled over the Internet.

Save Energy

This is obviously the biggest perk. Not only are you helping the environment, you’re also helping your monthly budget.

You can preset the thermostat to adjust the temperature when you’re away from the house, so you’re using less energy. Then it can kick back on just before you arrive home.

Save Money

You’ll immediately see a difference in your utility bills when you set your programmable thermostat to turn off for eight-hour periods while you’re at work. Every little bit counts!

Save Yourself The Frustration

If you’re going to be home early from work or are arriving back from a week long vacation, don’t worry about coming home to a sweltering sauna of a house.

Most modern thermostats allow you to access their controls online through a computer, or even your smart phone. With the touch of a button, you’ll arrive to a perfectly comfortable home.

Save Even More

Below are a few tips to keep bills down and your thermostat running efficiently.

  • Make sure you place the thermostat away from air vents, open doorways and windows with direct sunlight.

  • Try to set temperatures for longer increments, such as when you’re at work or while you’re asleep.

  • Every time you hit the buttons you’re using more energy.

  • If your thermostat runs on batteries, change them once a year.

Don’t waste any more energy! Make the investment in a programmable thermostat and start saving this summer. The convenience and lower utility bills will make you glad you did.

For more tips on home maintenance and savings, reach out to your trusted mortgage professional today.

2 08, 2013

5 Important Summer Deck Inspection Tips

5 Important Summer Deck Inspection TipsSummer seems to be slipping away quickly. And, while you’ve hosted many barbecues on your back deck, you might not have had time to properly take care of it.

August is the perfect month to conduct a deck inspection and make any repairs before the time comes to prepare it for winter. Below are tips on some issues to watch for and how to fix them.

Inspect The Deck

It’s important to do a thorough inspection of your deck every summer. You don’t want to step through a rotted board or have a railing break away from under you.

Be sure to pay extra attention to places close to the ground or near water sources, such as under planters and next to the water spigot.

Check For Rot

Take a screwdriver and poke areas of the deck that look like they could be rotting.

If you can push the screwdriver in a quarter inch or more, then you’ll need to consider replacing the board. However if the hole is smaller than the size of a tennis ball, you can fill it with wood preservative and save some money.

Get Low

Go under the deck if possible. You’ll need to check the supporting beams for any serious problems. Dangerous scenarios occur when the structure of the deck is compromised.

If you find an issue with a beam that cannot be removed because it’s holding up the deck, then reinforce it on both sides with pressure-treated lumber. Then scrape away the decomposing area.

Shake It Up

Give the railings a good shake to make sure they are structurally sound. Check for cracking around screw and nail holes.

If you find one, then remove the screw or nail, seal with exterior adhesive and drill a new hole to secure again.

Look For Cupping

Cupping occurs when wood absorbs and releases moisture, which may cause the floor planks to bow and warp. You want to make sure that guests and your family don’t trip over unruly slats. It might be a good idea to rent a professional-quality sander and even out the imperfections.

Perform a deck inspection to make sure your outdoor area is in suitable condition. Serious injuries can occur when homeowners don’t take the time to properly inspect and maintain their outdoor living spaces. Not to mention, it saves money to catch issues early and not have to replace the entire structure.

For more helpful tips on periodic home maintenance, please feel free to contact your trusted mortgage professional today.

26 07, 2013

How To Bring More Natural Light Into Your Home

How To Bring More Natural Light Into Your HomeOne of the biggest improvements that you can make to your home is to bring in more natural light.

Sunlight is a powerful mood enhancer and a home design that brings in a lot of natural light will automatically look and feel much more pleasant. Not only will it boost your mood, bringing in natural light will also increase the value of your home.

So how can you shed some light on your home’s interior?

Here are a few ways:

Add More Reflective Surfaces

Whenever you add a light and reflective surface to your home, you increase the number of times that daylight bounces around inside the room.

Try painting your ceilings and walls with light or off-white colours. Matte finishes are actually better than glossy surfaces, as they reflect light in all directions at once. Add some metal accents and some mirrors to the space, which will also reflect the light.

Move Your Furniture Around

Do you have furniture that is blocking natural light from coming in? Move your furniture away from the windows so that it will not get in the way of the sunlight streaming into your home.

Add A Glass Door

Is there anywhere in your home where you can exchange a solid door for one with glass in its design? This will allow the light to flow through the doorway and increase the feeling of brightness in your home.

There are plenty of glass doors with superb security features, so they will be just as safe as any other door. Also, if you have a yard or a patio to look out on, adding sliding glass doors will be a great way to let the light in and enjoy the view.

Expand Your Windows

Is it possible to increase the size of any of your windows? If yes, the windows on the south side of the house, will bring a significant amount of sunshine into the home.

Add A Skylight

Adding skylights to your home will bring a lot of natural light into the interior. Also, they are much more private than windows because anyone passing by will not be able to see through them. They also add overhead lighting, so that you will not need to use electricity during daylight hours.

These are just a few ways that you can let the sunshine in and bring more natural light into your home.

If you have any other home questions, please contact your trusted mortgage professional today.

16 07, 2013

What Are the Hot Home Decor Trends for 2013?

Hot Home Decor Trends 2013Just like fashion designs and hair styles, home decor trends are constantly changing and evolving. Each new season brings a new must-have feature for your home.

In order to keep your home looking fresh and chic, what are the hot trends for 2013 that you can incorporate into your decor?

Here are a few ideas:

Bright Paint Colors

Vibrant (and even neon) hues are very popular in fashion at the moment and they also look really chic on your walls. If you are looking for a way to freshen up a dull room, a bright pop of color can really do the trick.

It doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you keep the rest of the room neutral and use the bright color as an accent.

Original Artwork

Decorating your home with unique and original works of art from funky local artists is a hot trend this year. You could find such pieces at a local art fair or on online craft auction websites.

You could also check out a local art school or university art program in your area, where you can buy some student artwork at cheap prices.

1920s Inspired Designs

With the Roaring 20s being revitalized on the silver screen in the show Boardwalk Empire and the film The Great Gatsby, designs from the 1920s are becoming more popular. Why not incorporate some gorgeous Art Deco furniture or decoration into your home?

Check out auctions to find authentic vintage pieces for cheap prices.

Simple Wood

Another hot trend for 2013 is unfinished exposed wood furniture, with a very natural texture and feel. These simple wood pieces give your home a natural beauty that compliments any color. It works well with neutral accents to give the home a very peaceful and welcoming atmosphere.

Stripes and Graphic Prints

Crisp patterns, graphic prints and stripes are popular at the moment in everything from fabrics to wallpaper to furniture. If you really want to make your home décor look cutting edge, incorporate some of these eye-popping graphic designs into your décor.

These are just a few of the hottest home décor trends of the year 2013. Which ones will you incorporate into the décor of your home?

For more information about buying or updating your  home, please contact your trusted mortgage professional today!

12 07, 2013

Can That Killer Home Theater Add Value To Your Home?

Can A Killer Home Theater Add Value To Your HomeMany home owners dream of having a home theater – an entire room of the home dedicated to enjoying television and film. These rooms are usually equipped with a large flat screen television or projector, comfortable seats, mood lighting and perhaps even a bar or a snack fridge.

They are very comfortable and the perfect place to relax after a hard day. They are also lots of fun for entertaining, as you will be able to watch the big game or the hottest new release with your friends in style.

However, will spending the money on renovating your home to create a theater room be a smart investment? Does this type of home improvement add a lot of value to the property, or will it turn off potential buyers?

Buyers Interested In Tech-Equipped Homes

These days luxury home buyers are becoming much more tech-savvy and they are demanding more networked or ‘smart’ homes than ever before. They are looking for a house which is outfitted with the latest in technology, so a modern home theater will be a desirable selling point. If you are targeting your home to this luxury market, the home theater could give you an edge over the competition.

It is difficult to determine the amount that the home value is affected when you add a high tech home theater, but most real estate professionals will agree that when there are many houses for sale at any given time, the one with an impressive home theater room will be more likely to sell first.

Don’t Take Over Valuable Home Space

The only situation in which the home theater could detract from the value of the home is if it overpowers a medium sized or smaller home that just barely had enough space in the first place. If your home cannot spare the extra room, taking up a lot of space with a home theater will mean fewer bedrooms or living spaces and a potential decrease in value.

However, you might be able to get around this problem with clever solutions that allow you to conceal the home theater unless it is being used. You could hide the large screen behind specially designed cabinets and set up the furniture so that the room can be a living space when not in use as a theater.

Remember that a home theater system is something that will generally only increase the value of your home for certain buyers, as opposed to something like a bathroom renovation or a garage which will be valuable to almost every buyer.

To find out more about upgrades that affect the value of your home, contact your trusted home financing professional today.

5 07, 2013

Go Green By Faking It With Artificial Grass

Go Green By Faking It With Artificial TurfThe summer heat is starting to take its toll on you and your thirsty lawn. Homeowners spend hundreds of dollars every summer striving to grow healthy grass and keep it green.

If you’re sick of trying to maintain a manicured lawn, then you can go green another way. Install artificial turf.

The Grass is Always Greener

Today’s artificial grass is made out of polypropylene, nylon, or polyethylene threads that are sewn into a mesh backing that allows for water drainage. This is then usually laid on top of compacted gravel and tied down at the perimeter.

Modern artificial lawns can mimic many varietals of grass and some even have a thatch layer to give it a more realistic look.

Sick Of Maintenance

Homeowners have many reasons for wanting to be free of their demanding lawns, such as high summer water bills and the constant use of pesticides. With a fake lawn, you won’t have to water, which is especially good for high-heat areas, you won’t have to mow and you can quit worrying about how the weather will affect it.

Considering The Costs

While installing artificial grass can cost a bit up front, it’ll be maintenance free for the next 15 to 20 years. You won’t have to worry about water bills, purchasing grass seed, buying fertilizer or getting gas for the lawnmower, which can add up to a couple hundred dollars every year.

Potential Drawbacks

While a maintenance-free yard does have some appeal, there are a few drawbacks to take into consideration. Fake lawns don’t absorb pet waste, so you have to hose them off regularly.

They can also heat up in direct sunlight. Planting shade trees will help with this issue. And, artificial lawns cannot be recycled, which is an issue that the industry is looking to remedy.

Saving water and reducing the use of pesticides is great for the environment. However, you have to like the look of artificial grass and make sure you’re ready for the investment.

If you’ve been considering going green by switching to year-round green grass, talk with a local installer for grass options and cost comparisons.

29 05, 2013

Simple Ideas To Create An Outdoor Living Space For Your Home

Create an Outdoor Living Space for Your HomeAs the weather gets warmer, the desire to get outside and enjoy the fresh air begins to take hold. Having a place to entertain or just unwind can add a new dimension and enjoyment to your home.

First, you have to decide what type of space you want to create. Whether you want to have an outdoor living room, a vacation-like spot or a place to meditate and enjoy nature, how you extend your living space is limited only by your imagination — and possibly your budget.

Start with your vision and make a list of the things you want to have there. Then go for it!

Choose a Theme

  • Vacation spot – Decorate with bright colors for a festive, tropical look.
  • Zen garden – Add a water feature, such as a fountain, for a calming effect.
  • Nature hideaway – Surround a patio or porch with plants and trees to bring nature closer to your home.

Find Elements to Enhance Your Space

  • Furniture – If your outdoor zone isn’t completely under cover, then make sure to choose all-weather furniture. Comfortable seating is key, so add pillows or cushions for extra luxury.
  • Lighting – String lighting throughout the trees, under umbrellas or around fencing to create atmosphere. It also helps to make sure you can see where you’re going once the sun goes down.
  • Outdoor kitchen – Bring the food with you! Keep it simple with a BBQ grill or add other elements like a refrigerator, sink and food prep area. And, don’t forget the beverages!
  • Fireplace – Extend your outdoor evenings into the fall by adding a fireplace for friends and family to gather around.
  • Borders – Define the borders of the area to increase privacy and separate the space from the rest of the yard or neighbors.

Your home is an extension of your personality. Creating an outdoor oasis can give you an opportunity to find your inner child, Zen master, or beach bum!

Make it as simple or elaborate as you desire, and open it up to friends, or keep it all to yourself. Follow these simple tips and create a wonderfully relaxing place right at your home for the summer.

22 05, 2013

Simple Tips To Help Your Flowerbeds Flourish This Spring

Simple Tips To Help Your Flowers Flourish This SpringFlowerbeds can be a very attractive addition to any home — if you have the time to set up and maintain them. Flowerbeds don’t necessarily require a profusion of costly flowers that need to be fertilized, mulched, covered during severe weather, and possibly re-planted on a yearly basis.

So put on your green thumb and brave the outdoors this spring. With the tips below, you’ll keep your flowerbeds filled and your house looking cheery without a huge money or time commitment.

Weed Eradication

Before you even start picking out roses and tulips, take care of the weeds. Gardens get weeds because there are already pesky roots hiding below the surface.

Dig up the soil and weeds before you plant. It will save you hours of maintenance in the long run and keep your flowers healthy.

Perennial Wildflowers

Wildflower mixes native to your area are often a good choice if you want an array of flowers, but don’t have the time or the motivation to take care of them.

These flowers can grow back easily every year and are well adapted to the climate and soil conditions in your area. Native wildflowers may need little more than watering and the occasional weeding.

Decorative Rock

Filling the beds with attractive decorative rock provides maintenance-free curb appeal to your home. Several colors of decorative rock are available and can be chosen to off-set the color of your house.

Planters may also be placed amongst the rocks to add live plants to your flower beds, and those plants can easily be moved inside before the weather gets too cold for them.

Low-Growing Shrubs

For low-maintenance ground cover in your flowerbeds, plant low-growing shrubs, such as various strains of boxwood or juniper.

The main issue with this option is that the shrubs take a while to grow and fill in. But once established, the only maintenance required is the occasional trimming of overgrown branches.

Vacant flowerbeds detract from the overall look of your house and contribute to an air of neglect. Attractive fillers do not have to be either expensive or difficult to put into place.

If you’d like additional tips on how to spruce up the outside your home, please call your trusted real estate professional for the best advice!

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