Get your home ready for fall!


Get your home ready for fall!

The days are getting noticeably shorter, and maybe there’s a nip in the air – sure signs that fall is on its way. Now is the perfect time to put these ideas on your to-do list and get your home in shape before winter rolls in.

  • Seal it up: Caulk and seal around exterior door and window frames. Look for gaps where pipes or wiring enter the home and caulk those as well.
  • Look up: Check the roof for missing or damaged shingles. Although you should always have a qualified professional inspect and repair the roof, you can do a preliminary survey safely from the ground using binoculars.
  • Clear it out: Clear gutters and eaves troughs of leaves, sticks, and other debris. Consider installing leaf guards if your gutters can accommodate them – they are real time savers and can prevent damage from clogged gutters. Check the seams between sections of gutter, as well as between the gutter and downspouts, and make any necessary adjustments or repairs.
  • No hose: In climates with freezing weather, shut off outdoor faucets and make sure exterior pipes are drained of water. Faucets and pipes can freeze and burst, causing leaks and potentially serious water damage.
  • Warm up time: Have the furnace inspected to ensure it’s safe and in good working order. Most utility companies will provide basic inspections at no charge, but there can often be a long waiting list come fall and winter. Using a clean filter will help the furnace run more efficiently, saving you money and energy.
  • Light that fire: If you enjoy the crackle of a wood-burning fireplace on a chilly fall evening, have the firebox and chimney professionally cleaned before lighting a fire this season. Creosote, a byproduct of wood burning, can build up to dangerous levels and cause a serious chimney fire if not removed.

5 Tips to de-stress at work


5 Tips to de-stress at work

Stressed out? Learning how to manage work stress can help restore calm, productivity and job satisfaction.

  1. Recognize what’s causing your stress. Deadlines? Conflict? Work/life balance out of whack? Then work on tackling the issue(s) productively.
  2. Try to understand your specific reactions to those stress triggers. How can you better control your response? It’s not always easy to do this but it can be very effective.
  3. If you work at a desk, take short breaks to stretch and breathe. If you’re on your feet all day, find a comfortable spot out of the way to sit for a bit and relax.
  4. Have too much on your plate? Don’t agree to unrealistic deadlines if at all possible. If this happens regularly, you should consider your commitments more carefully in the future.
  5. If possible, take a short walk outside to stretch your legs and remind yourself that work isn’t all there is!

How to hire a handyman

Photo credit: Bidvine


How to hire a handyman

Whether it’s a big project such as a bathroom remodel, something small like putting up shelves, or repairs and routine maintenance, many homeowners turn to handymen to get the job done. Here are some tips to ensure that you choose the right person for the job:

    Certain projects require specific skills that all handymen may not have. Professional licenses may be required to perform certain work. Electrical and plumbing often fall into this category.
    Online referral sites can give you a good indication of overall customer satisfaction. You can also ask the handyman for references from previous customers. Ask about the quality of the work, timeliness, professionalism, and how satisfied they were with their project.
    Ask for evidence of liability insurance coverage before agreeing to any work. If the handyman or another worker is injured while working on your property, you may be held liable for medical costs.

Ideally, ask three handymen for written estimates for the work you have in mind. Be sure that each estimate contains enough detail so that you can make an accurate comparison. Read all contracts carefully and be sure to ask about anything that you are unsure of.

Do you need a home inspection?


Do you need a home inspection?

A home inspection is the perfect opportunity to really get to know the property you’re considering – an unbiased evaluation that can prove extremely useful and help you avoid unpleasant surprises.

A professional home inspection includes a visual assessment of the home’s systems and structural components, including heating/cooling, plumbing, electrical, roof, foundation, walls, chimneys, doors, and windows. In addition to undergoing visual inspection, appliance systems, heating/cooling and plumbing are tested to ensure proper operation. The report will include detailed findings and indicate any recommended repairs based on the inspection results. At that time, your agent may recommend that the seller complete needed repairs, or if not, that the cost of doing the repairs be reflected in the selling price.

However, in many of today’s overheated real estate markets the home inspection contingency is often waived in order for an offer to be considered at all. In these cases, a home inspection is still extremely important because it allows you to learn about the home and gives you a comprehensive picture of the home’s condition. This is invaluable in planning for future repairs, upgrades, or addressing other issues.

To get the most out of the home inspection, accompany the home inspector during the process. This allows you to ask questions on site and get any needed clarification about potential issues that come up along the way. It’s a great way to get to know the property and locate key items such as key shutoff valves, the breaker panel and more. Attending the inspection will also give you a better understanding of any repair recommendations.

Budget-friendly updates for kids' rooms


Budget-friendly updates for kids’ rooms

From food and clothing to their bedroom decor, children’s likes and dislikes are ever changing. Here are some ideas on how to pull off a stylish bedroom re-do using some imagination and not a lot of money.

  • Paint is your friend! Nothing transforms a room like a new coat of paint, especially if you go with a bright or trendy color selected by your child. If she is old enough, get her involved in painting the walls or trim. Be sure to keep some extra paint for those sure-to-be-needed touchups. Complement the color scheme with inexpensive throw pillows or pillow covers.
  • Instead of investing in lots of themed décor, consider using just a few relatively inexpensive elements to recognize your kids’ interests. Posters and collages are just a couple of ways to include a theme without going overboard. Garage sales can also be a good source of well-priced themed items.
  • For dressers, bed frames and other furniture, see if your community has a website that lists items for sale or trade. A quick coat of paint and minor repairs may be all that’s needed to transform an inexpensive (or free) piece into a real find.
  • Shelves and bookcases make great places for children of any age to create ever-changing displays that reflect their interests. The flexibility of these spaces will be appreciated by small children to teenagers for years to come.

Curb appeal: It's not just for sellers


Curb appeal: It’s not just for sellers

Curb appeal. It’s all about how your home looks to people walking or driving by. If you’re selling, you can boost that first impression by making sure your home looks great before it hits the market. If you’re staying put, making your home more beautiful is never a bad idea!

Cleanup and Repair – Clean windows and siding, stow away yard tools and equipment, and clean up dead branches and leaves. Make sure fences, walkways, and the driveway are in good repair, too – a home that looks well taken care of is always more attractive.

Landscaping – Trim any overgrown shrubs, remove weeds, and tidy up planting areas. If the season is right, add some colorful flowering plants to brighten up around walkways and at the front entrance.

The Entrance – If replacement is cost prohibitive, consider revitalizing a tired, faded door with a fresh coat of paint in a great accent color and swapping out the hardware. Updated house numbers are another impactful but inexpensive addition.

Paint It New – Brighten up the exterior with new, neutral paint. If the existing paint is in good shape, have the exterior pressure washed to get rid of dirt and grime. Have the windows washed inside and out to brighten the overall appearance of the home.
There’s nothing worse than home “lookers” who drive by – and keep right on going because they’ve already decided a home doesn’t appeal to them based on looks alone. With these tips in mind, chances are your home will catch the eye of more potential buyers. And for those of you not selling, you’ll love your home even more.