Entries in home (24)

Sunday
Jun072015

Outdoor Spaces Add Curb Appeal

3 Inventive Ways to Brighten Your Home’s Exterior with Paint

Think your exterior entryway lacks zing? Is your plain garage door a bore? Be bored no more with these budget-friendly painting projects.

A Playful Porch

A front porch with a stenciled floor and a bright green doorImage: Bella Tucker

Dana from Bella Tucker wasn’t fond of her dowdy front porch with a cold cement floor. Several coats of fresh paint later, she says she “grins like a goofball” each time she turns into her driveway. 

Her statement-making painted floor is the showstopper in this porch makeover.  How did she create the Moroccan-inspired pattern? She used a stencil to create a repeating pattern. Dana shares the process behind the eye-popping design here.

Tip: Practical features can be pretty, too. Dana also updated the porch’s lighting, added a clearly visible house number, and replaced the front door’s hardware.  

A Charming Garage Door

A garage door painted to look like it has carriage detailsImage: A Pinterest Addict

How do you add character to a builder-grade garage door? Eliesa from A Pinterest Addict created the illusion of a carriage door using paint and hardware. The faux windows and the fleur-de-lis accents cost her less than $40. How did she pull this look off? She used tape. She shares how she created the windowpanes in detail here.

Tip: What’s the secret to creating clean, crisp paint lines? Frog tape. Eliesa said it’s better at stopping color bleed than conventional painter’s tape.

Step Up Your Steps

Painted front steps add curb appeal to a homeImage: The 2 Seasons

When Jordan from the mother and daughter blog The 2 Seasons moved into her 1928 Craftsman-style house, she had to spring for a new roof and landscape.  That didn’t leave enough coin to replace a major eyesore — her front steps. So she freshened them up with paint.  

But instead of painting them one solid color, Jordan pumped up her curb appeal by creating a faux runner. She explains the entire process from start to finish here.

Tip: Jordan’s steps not only look better, they’re also safer. Before adding the final coat, she added sand to the paint mixture. The added grit makes them slip proof when it rains.

By Deirdre Sullivan

Thursday
Jun042015

6 Things to Do When Moving Into a New House

 Great Advice from House Logic!

Courtney's new lock on the front door of her house

Change the locks when you move into a new house — that way, you control who has access to your home. 

When I bought my first house, my timing couldn’t have been better: The house closing was two weeks before the lease was up on my apartment. That meant I could take my time packing and moving, and I could get to know the new place before moving in.

I recruited family and friends to help me move (in exchange for a beer-and-pizza picnic on the floor) and, as a bonus, I got to pick their brains about what first-time homeowners should know

Their help was one of the best housewarming presents I could have gotten. And thanks to their expertise and a little Googling, here’s what I learned about what to do before moving in.

1. Change the locks. You really don’t know who else has keys to your home, so change the locks. That ensures you’re the only person who has access. Install new deadbolts yourself for as little as $10 per lock, or call a locksmith — if you supply the new locks, they typically charge about $20-$30 per lock for labor.

2. Check for plumbing leaks. Your home inspector should do this for you before closing, but it never hurts to double-check. I didn’t have any leaks to fix, but when checking my kitchen sink, I did discover the sink sprayer was broken. I replaced it for under $20.

Keep an eye out for dripping faucets and running toilets, and check your water heater for signs of a leak

Here’s a neat trick: Check your water meter at the beginning and end of a two-hour window in which no water is being used in your house. If the reading is different, you have a leak.

3. Steam clean carpets. Do this before you move your furniture in, and your new home life will be off to a fresh start. You can pay a professional carpet cleaning service — you’ll pay about $50 per room; most services require a minimum of about $100 before they’ll come out — or you can rent a steam cleaner for about $30 per day and do the work yourself. I was able to save some money by borrowing a steam cleaner from a friend.  

4. Wipe out your cabinets. Another no-brainer before you move in your dishes and bathroom supplies. Make sure to wipe inside and out, preferably with a non-toxic cleaner, and replace contact paper if necessary. 

When I cleaned my kitchen cabinets, I found an unpleasant surprise: Mouse poop. Which leads me to my next tip … 

5. Give critters the heave-ho. That includes mice, ratsbatstermitesroaches, and any other uninvited guests. There are any number of DIY ways to get rid of pests, but if you need to bring out the big guns, an initial visit from a pest removal service will run you $100-$300, followed by monthly or quarterly visits at about $50 each time.

For my mousy enemies, I strategically placed poison packets around the kitchen, and I haven’t found any carcasses or any more poop, so the droppings I found must have been old. I might owe a debt of gratitude to the snake that lives under my back deck, but I prefer not to think about him.

6. Introduce yourself to your circuit breaker box and main water valve. My first experience with electrical wiring was replacing a broken light fixture in a bathroom. After locating the breaker box, which is in my garage, I turned off the power to that bathroom so I wouldn’t electrocute myself. 

It’s a good idea to figure out which fuses control what parts of your house and label them accordingly. This will take two people: One to stand in the room where the power is supposed to go off, the other to trip the fuses and yell, “Did that work? How about now?”

You’ll want to know how to turn off your main water valve if you have a plumbing emergency, if a hurricane or tornado is headed your way, or if you’re going out of town. Just locate the valve — it could be inside or outside your house — and turn the knob until it’s off. Test it by turning on any faucet in the house; no water should come out.

courtneycraig Courtney Craig

is an Atlanta-based writer and editor. She believes no effort is too small when it comes to green living, which she tries to keep in mind while renovating her recently purchased first home. 



Read more:  http://www.houselogic.com/blog/maintenance-repair/things-to-do-when-moving-into-a-new-house/#ixzz3c7t2XugE 
Follow us: @HouseLogic on Twitter | HouseLogic on Facebook

 

Thursday
May282015

7 Ideas to Help You Use Your Outdoor Space More

These ideas will transform your outdoor space into an oasis you may never want to leave.

When your mom told you to turn off the TV and play outdoors already, she knew what she was talking about. Hanging outside is good for our mental and physical well-being.

As adults, having an outdoor retreat adds an economic component: Upwards of 80% of homebuyers said patios and front porches are “essential” or “desirable,” according to the “What Buyers Really Want” survey from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

So how come when we move into our dream home, we hardly ever use our decks, porches, and patios?

An anthropological UCLA study, described in the book “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century,” blames our fascination with digital devices — tablets, computers, televisions, games — for keeping us cooped up. The UCLA research participants spent less than half an hour each week in their outdoor space. And these were Californians. 

So this summer let’s make a pledge to pay more than lip service to outdoor living so we can be happier, create lasting memories, and generally take advantage of what home has to offer.

1.  Go Overboard on Comfy

Comfy outdoor seating on a home patio 
Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic

When you step into your outdoor space, your first sensation should be ‘ahhhh’. If you’re not feeling it, then your space is likely lacking the comfy factor. Comfy is easy to achieve and can be as low cost as you want. Start simple with a cushion or two or even a throw. Some other simple strategies: 

  • Make sure your outdoor seating is as cushy as your indoor furniture. Today’s outdoor cushions aren’t the plastic-y, sweat-inducing pillows of the past. Plus, they can handle a downpour and spring back once they dry.
  • Lay down outdoor rugs so you’re just as comfortable barefoot as you are inside.
  • Give yourself some privacy. Create natural screens with shrubs, bushes, or even bamboo reeds. Or install prefab screens from your local home improvement store.

2.  Create a Broadband Paradise 

Our devices and electronics have conspired to keep us on lock down. Since we’re not about to chuck our digital toys, boot up your outdoor space so you can keep texting, posting to Instagram, and watching cat videos.

  • Wireless outdoor Wi-Fi antennas provide an extra boost so you can stay connected.
  • A solar USB charging station keeps your gizmos powered.
  • Wireless speakers make it easy to bring your music outdoors, and mask a noisy neighborhood.
  • An all-weather outdoor TV lets you stay outside for the big game.

3.  Blur the Line Between Indoors and Out

Creating a seamless transition between your home’s interior and exterior isn’t as simple or low cost as adding comfort, but it’s the most dramatic and effective way to enhance your enjoyment of the space. Plus, it can increase your home’s value. 

  • The most straightforward, cost-effective solution: Replace a standard door opening with sliding or glass French doors.
  • Use the same weatherproof flooring, such as stone tile or scored concrete, outside as well as in the room leading to your backyard oasis.

4.  Light the Way

Solar pathway lights Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic

When the sun goes down, don’t be left groping for your wine glass. Outdoor lighting dresses up your home’s marketability and appeal (exterior lighting is buyers’ most wanted outdoor feature, according to the NAHB study), makes it safer, and lets you spend more time outside.

  • Use uplighting to highlight trees, architectural details, or other focal points.
  • Add sconces or pendant lights to make evening entertaining, grilling, and reading easier.
  • Illuminate walkways, rails, and steps with landscape solar lights.
  • Hang fairy or string lights to set an enchanting tone.

5.  Make Your Mark

Pavers in a home's yard Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic

Let your style dominate your backyard space.

  • Create a path made with colored glass, brick, or other interesting found materials.
  • Craft a one-of-kind outdoor chandelier.
  • Build a pizza oven, custom seating, or other feature you crave.
  • Add personal décor that makes you happy.

In fact, make your outdoor retreat an ongoing project where you can hone your DIY skills.

6.  Don’t Give Anyone an Excuse to Stay Inside 

Outdoor space with kid-friendly playhouse and DIY chalkboardImage: Tasya Demers from My House and Home

Your outdoor space will magnetically draw family and friends if it has features they find appealing.

  • fire pit is a proven winner. Food and fire have brought humans together since the dawn of time.
  • Give wee ones the gift of magical thinking with an outdoor playhouse.
  • Add whimsy with a chalkboard fence that both kids and fun-loving adults will enjoy.
  • Add a doggie window in your fence to entertain Spot. Installing a dog run may even boost your home’s value. FYI: It’s been said that pets are one of the top reasons why people buy houses.

Related: Outdoor Projects You Can Do with the Kids

7.  Rebuff the Elements

Canopy over a home deck 
Image: LizMarieBlog.com 

Hot sun, rain, wind gusts, and bugs are the archenemy of good times. Here are tips and strategies to help you throw shade on Mother Nature:

  • Install an awning, canopy, or pergola. It’ll make it easier to read your Kindle or iPad and keep you dry during a summer shower. Look for products with polycarbonate panels, which block UV rays, too.
  • Rig glass fence windscreens to the keep your BBQ fires burning.
  • Screen in your porch or deck against bugs. But screening will be for naught if you forget the slats between wood planks. Cover the floor with outdoor carpet or staple screening to the underside of floorboards.

 



Read more:  
Follow us: @HouseLogic on Twitter | HouseLogic on Facebook

Saturday
Jan172015

When to Repair or Replace Your Appliance

Consider age, repair cost, pricing, energy efficiency, and whether to modify your kitchen to accommodate a new unit.

When an appliance is old and isn’t working efficiently, it’s easy to decide to replace rather than repair the machine — may it rest in peace. 

But appliances often break before their time, making the repair-or-replace decision harder.

If money is tight, you may have to repair the appliance and hope for the best. But if you’ve got some coin, then replacing with a new, energy-efficient model often is the better way to go.

That’s a lot of ifs, and the repair-or-replace dilemma often is hard to resolve. Here are some guidelines that will help you decide.

Is It Really Broken?

When appliances stop working, we get so rattled that the obvious escapes us. Before you panic, make sure:

  • The appliance is plugged in.
  • Circuit breakers haven’t tripped. (I once replaced a blender only to discover that the circuit needed resetting.)
  • Flooring hasn’t become uneven, which can stop some appliances from turning on.
  • Vents and filters aren’t clogged with lint and dust.

Related: How to Help Your Appliances Last Longer

Is It Still Under Warranty?

Check your owner’s manual or records to see if the sick appliance is still under warranty. Most warranties on major appliances cover labor and parts for a year; some extend coverage of parts for two years. If it’s still covered, schedule a service call.

Related: Is an Extended Warranty Right for You?

Is It Truly at the End of Its Useful Life?

Appliances have an average useful life — the typical lifespan after which the machine is running on borrowed time. The closer your appliance is to its hypothetical past due date, the wiser it is to replace, rather than repair.

Here are the typical lifespans of major appliances.

Appliance Average Lifespan (Years)
Compactor 6
Dishwasher 9
Disposal 12
Dryer 13
Exhaust Fan 10
Freezer 11
Microwave 9
Range, electric 13
Range, gas 15
Range/oven hood 14
Refrigerator 13
Washer 10


How to Follow the 50% Rule

In 2014, the average cost to repair an appliance was $254 to $275. Should you pay it?

If an appliance is more than 50% through its lifespan, and if the cost of one repair is more than 50% of the cost of buying new, then you should replace rather than repair.

To do the math, you’ll have to know the typical lifespan (see above), and get a repair estimate. Most service companies charge a “trip charge” to diagnose the problem. These charges vary widely, so be sure to ask when you arrange the appointment.  If the company repairs the appliance, the trip charge typically is waived.

DIY Whenever Possible

If you know your way around a socket wrench, you may be able to make simple appliance repairs yourself and save labor fees. YouTube has lots of DIY repair videos, and user manuals can help you troubleshoot. 

Can’t find your manual? Search online for “manual” along with your appliance brand and model number. Most manufacturers provide free downloadable PDFs of appliance manuals, and there are several online sites that specialize in nothing but manuals.

However, there is a downside to repairing appliances yourself.

  • Many electrical replacement parts are non-refundable, so if you misdiagnose the problem, you’ve wasted money.
  • Large appliances are heavy and bulky. You risk injury if you don’t know how to move, open, and lift the machine property.
  • Some appliance warranties are voided when you mess with the machine yourself.
  • If you forget to unplug the machine before making repairs, you can electrocute yourself (making the money you save a moot point).

How to Calculate Whether Energy Efficiency is Cost Effective

New water-saving and energy-efficient appliances can be cost effective: A modern refrigerator, for instance, uses roughly half the electricity of one built 20 years ago.

But replacing energy clunkers that still have miles left on them may not be a money-wise move. You might spend thousands on an appliance in order to save hundreds (if you’re lucky) on your energy bill.

Jill A. Notini of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers says if you’re planning on staying in your home for 10 to 15 years, upgrading appliances is a good idea. However, if you’re planning on moving soon, you’ll save money by keeping your older appliances, and letting the new owners upgrade to energy-efficient models.

Are There Hidden Costs When Replacing Old Appliances?

The cost of replacing an appliance may include more than just the price of the machine. In fact, the price tag could be the least of the money you’ll spend to upgrade an appliance.

  • A new refrigerator may not fit in the old spot. You could have to modify cabinetry to fit the new appliance (be sure to measure accurately).
  • Gas ovens and ranges will save money only if your home already has gas connections. If not, you could spend thousands bringing a gas line into your home or hundreds rerouting the lines you already have.
  • Upgrading from a simple gas range to one with all the bells and whistles may require upgrading or adding electrical wiring and circuits.



Read more:  http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/appliances/when-to-repair-or-replace-large-appliances/#ixzz3P65v2czl 
Follow us: @HouseLogic on Twitter | HouseLogic on Facebook

Tuesday
Dec162014

You Found the Perfect Home-Now What?

Resources for Buyers

THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE BUYING A HOME

  • Check Your Credit

    Your credit is crucial when applying for a loan; the better your score, the lower your interest rates will be. Be sure to check all three major credit reporting companies: ExperianEquifax, and TransUnion as the information in each report may vary slightly. Make sure you make copies of your credit report as well, and check your score well in advance of applying for loans.

  • Find a Lender

    Most people need to take out a loan when buying a home, and you'll want to be prepared to make an offer when you find that perfect home. It's important to be sure that you're approved for a loan before you start looking at homes so you don't miss out on any opportunities. If you need help finding a lender, I can recommend trusted lenders near you.

  • Price Range

    Calculate what's realistic for you before considering different areas to live in to be sure things stay within your budget. Once you know your range, I can help you make the most out of your money.

  • Research

    Finding the right home can be time consuming, but it's important to consider everything before you decide. What's the commute like to work? If you have kids, what are the schools like in the area? How many bed and bathrooms will you need? Do you prefer or newer or older styled home? All are important factors to take into account during the home finding process.

    I am dedicated to helping you through the entire home buying process. Once we find that perfect home, I will prepare a written offer. With my experience in the market, I can help you arrive at an offer that both fits your budget and has the best chance of being accepted.

  • Once Your Offer is Accepted

    After your offer is accepted, you'll have a grace period to have the house professionally inspected and request repairs or counter offer if the situation arises. Once this step is complete, we will verify the terms and conditions of your loan, and assist you in signing your papers. I'm here to assist you with any questions you may have during the process.

  • Moving Time!

    Now that you've found your perfect home it's time to make moving arrangements. If you plan on utilizing a professional moving company, I can recommend reputable, local movers. Don't forget to fill out your change of address forms and inform the utility company of your move!