Entries in Homes (45)

Thursday
Mar012018

March is here and the winds are howling. Make time to check these 4 items around your house.

March To-Do List for Your Clients

Homeowners who’ve been through multiple winters know that this time of year isn’t a time to be slacking in home maintenance. There’s more to March madness than just basketball—in housing, it’s the time to make sure owners are staying proactive in tending to their homes through these next few springtime months. 

HouseLogic shares four tasks all owners have to do in March:

  1. Patch up spots on the lawn. As spring showers start to arrive, be sure to cover any bare areas on your yard. This is a crucial task to take care of as snow and ice continue to melt away, and doing so will keep mud and water out of your house.
  2. Use binoculars to inspect the roof and siding. It’s important to look for signs of damage on your home’s roof and siding. To save time and as a safer alternative to a ladder, use a pair of binoculars to spot these signs: loose or curling shingles, damaged gutters, peeling paint, or cracks in the foundation. Stop these signs from turning into money-sucking problems and start setting up repairs before anything gets worse.
  3. Install window screens. Window screens last longer when removed and stored for the winter. Whether or not you removed your screens last fall, March is the time to fix any loose screens, frames, or holes. This way, windows can be opened up to let in a clean breeze and keep bugs out. 
  4. Replace smoke detector batteries. Smoke detectors should have batteries changed once a year, so why not now? Another tip: The “test” button on detectors is meant to see if the alarm sound works, not whether it actually detects smoke. To test its functionality, light a match and blow it out near the device to see if it goes off. 

Source: “4 Tasks That Veteran Homeowners Know You Gotta Do in March,” HouseLogic (March 1, 2018)

Saturday
Sep242016

11 Hacks for Annoying Household Headaches

Cruddy bathroom fixtures? Sticky door locks? Fix those maddening nuisances fast.

A slow-draining guest bathtub, a squeaky linen closet door: Fixing routine household issues is très boring when you’ve got sexier projects on your mind, like building a kitchen that would make Ina Garten jealous.

Over time, though, those everyday annoyances will get. on. your. nerves. That’s why we rounded up 11 clever fixes for the tasks that float to the bottom of most homeowners’ to-do lists. You can knock them out in a single weekend and still have plenty of time to get back to looking up remodeling ideas on Pinterest when you’re done.

1. Remove Shower Drain Gunk with a Zip Tie

Retrieve a wig’s worth of hair by connecting three or four zip ties and notching them every half inch with a pair of scissors. Remove the drain catch and feed the chain into the drain. Swivel it around to catch as much clog-causing hair as possible, pull out, remove gunk, and repeat as necessary. Rinse off the makeshift chain and stash it for your next clog. In the meantime, use a drain plug to catch some of the hair.

2. Un-Stick Door Locks

Artfully wiggling your garage key works for getting to your lawnmower, but it won’t do in case of an emergency. Save yourself a trip to the home center for powdered graphite lubricant and DIY your own to oil up tumbler locks.

Twist a mechanical pencil or whittle away a traditional pencil’s wood to expose a few inches of graphite. Slip the exposed graphite into the sticky lock. You can force it if needed, as it will become powder anyway. Slide the key in and out to break up the graphite and turn it in the lock cylinder to lube it for loose unlocking.

3. Refinish Cruddy Bathroom Fixtures with Spray Paint

No matter how much you scrub, those polished metal fixtures that were supposed to look shiny and clean all the time just don’t. Most of the time, they just look gross. That’s why interior designer Lara Fishman of Storm Interiors in Los Angeles warns clients that polished metal can be tough to maintain. They’re magnets for dirt and fingerprints.

But if they work fine, replacing them is a waste of landfill space. So create your own do-over and spray paint them with a coat of matte, metallic paint. It’s easier than you think. Simply remove them from your bathroom sink, spread them out on a protected surface, and give them a sharp new coat of primer and the color of your choice.

4. Stop a Spewing Shower Head with White Vinegar

Your hair looking a little flat after a shower? Not able to rinse out all that deep conditioner? Could be the spray isn’t forceful or targeted enough because of sediment build-up in your showerhead. Fill a medium-sized freezer bag halfway with white vinegar and submerge your shower head in it. Wrap a thick rubber band around the bag to secure it to the shower head and leave it overnight. In the morning, remove the bag and let the shower run at least two minutes before showering (so you won’t smell like vinegar).

5. Silence Noisy Hinges with Olive Oil

Or grease. Seriously. Skip the commercial lubricants, which, according to internet lore, may or may not be the cause of your door’s horror movie sound effects. The point is, your hinges need lubricating. And the oils in your kitchen will do the job just as well, and probably better. Olive oil, veg oil, coconut oil, etc. Just be careful to clean first, and don’t overdo it. Leaving excess oil on a dirty surface can make the oil turn rancid.

6. Smooth Out Beaten-Up Wood Trim with Nail Polish

A nick on a gorgeous, shellac-ed windowsill that’s original to your 1955 bungalow may go unnoticed for now, but it’ll grow worse over time. Grab a bottle of clear nail polish topcoat and fill in the wood craters for an even surface. Let it dry completely and gently even out any resulting bumps with fine sandpaper.

7. Clean Gutters Without a Ladder

Clearing out the gutters gets a (deserved) bad rap for being a total pain. Cindy Stumpo, founder of C. Stumpo Development Inc. and an expert featured on HGTV’s “Tough as Nails,” has hacked the annoying task. She attaches a long PVC pipe to a leaf blower to avoid hauling out the ladder. Genius!

8. Fix a Vinyl or Linoleum Floor Tear with a Hair Dryer

The oddly placed floor mat hasn’t fooled anyone since you accidentally tore up a spot or two on your linoleum floor when you dragged in that (fabulous!) flea-market hutch find. Don’t fret, just pull out your hair dryer. Use the warm air to stretch out the material and reattach it to the subfloor as the glue melts. (Don’t worry. The material is malleable enough to stretch without causing burns to the skin.)

9. Silence Squeaky Floorboards with Talcum Powder

The spot in the hallway you’ve trained yourself to avoid is actually a super simple low-maintenance fix. Sprinkle talcum powder over the trouble boards, then sweep the powder into the cracks between the boards with a makeup brush. Because it’s actually moisture that causes the creaks (who knew?), and the powder will soak it right up.

10. Stretch Out Light Bulb Switches with LEDs

You’d rather endure a dark driveway for weeks than go through the hassle of dragging out a ladder to reach the security light. Sean Dore, owner of Mr. Electric of Baton Rouge, La., says invest in LEDs already. You’ll get bright light and not have to change them for years and years!

11. Stash Paint Samples for Quick Touch-Ups

Those wall scuffs from the backs of your chairs, furniture rearrangements, and trying to cram a dining room table through a doorway without taking it apart first give your walls a sad, dingy look. Forgo the drop cloth and white overalls for big paint jobs by stealing this trick from Monica Mangin, DIY expert and host of the new Lowe’s original series “The Weekender”: Keep small containers of your paint colors and a small brush handy. Covering up knicks and dings will take five minutes flat!

Credit: ELIZABETH LILLY is the site editor for “This Old House,” where she’s written about paint colors, chicken coops, and nearly every home improvement project in between. She uses her New York City apartment as a laboratory for executing her latest DIY ideas.

 

Thursday
Mar102016

Building Trends for 2016

BUILDING TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2016

Knowing what trends are on the horizon for the coming year can help keep you up to speed on what is new on the residential front to better meet client needs and desires. While home trends emerge slower than other trends, they exist and they do, in fact, emerge. Being on top of what's ahead can give you an edge when looking at what will help sell a house in the coming months as well as knowing what types of new housing may be available moving forward. These 12 trends reflect ways the industry is coping with environmental challenges, which can alter the look and functionality of homes and the incorporation of new building materials and methods. Experts say these are the trends to watch in 2016.

  • More Sustainable and Resilient Homes. As climate continues to change homes need to be more able to withstand natural disasters and to use natural resources in more effective ways.
  • New Twists on Classic Building Materials. Many favor the more luxe building materials such as stone but cannot afford such expensive options. The trend to create the same high quality feel as a lower price point is bringing about innovation in ways to create the look and durability in clever ways, such as stone and terra-cotta veneers.
  • Awareness of Drought Being More Common. With increased awareness of drought probabilities and the importance of water conservation this trend is also becoming a mandate in many places. Low flow toilets and showerheads are becoming the standard along with a myriad of water saving and recycling technologies being incorporated into design.
  • Digitized Manufacturing. This means that the variety and quality of prefabricated construction is being revolutionized. The ability to design and create with more precision than ever means more options when it comes to prefabricated materials. The impact is huge when more expensive products can be replaced with less expensive, quality materials.
  • Reclaimed Wood Floors. The demand for reclaimed wood is higher than ever. Consumers crave the authenticity despite the new products that do a good job of interpreting the original. This is important as reclaiming wood is also environmentally a sound practice. The type of wood flooring in homes will become more and more important to buyers moving forward.
  • Softening Modern Design. Homeowners are looking for a softer way to do the sleek modern look. Look for use of warmer more handmade looks in modern design elements. 
  • Tiny Houses... on Wheels. The trend to downsize is certainly gaining popularity as is the tiny house movement. Now, those tiny homes are sprouting wheels as the desire to be mobile and flexible in a hipper way is gaining popularity too.
  • Universal Walk-in Pantries. As Baby Boomers are aging the trend is to build wider entry pantries that easily accommodate a walker or wheelchair. Look for pocket doors and walk-in pantries with adaptable shelving to accommodate this aging generation staying home longer.
  • Integration of Indoor and Outdoor Spaces. With doors that easily open and close effectively creating a wall or removing it means easier and more seamless integration of inside and outside. Where environment allows this trend will be big, creating larger more fluid space incorporating the outdoors.
  • Layered, Softer Colors. Lighter colors, reflecting natural elements like rose quartz are turning up in paints, backsplashes and tiles all over homes. This lighter, softer palette incorporated through layers of design from materials to paint will be important in creating the desired more sophisticated effect.
  • Copper Makes a Comeback. Not only is this gaining popularity as is conjures up 40's era glamour it is also being heralded for its natural anti-bacterial properties. Copper is coming back in everything from fixtures to color schemes. As fear of antibiotic resistant super-bugs grows anything that fights bacteria while just sitting still is gaining popularity.
  • Enhancing Entertaining Space with Niches. The heart of the house is the kitchen and also where the majority of entertaining takes place. With open floor plans and islands taking over in kitchens the new trend is creating back, or prep kitchens, for the dirty work to take place.

Being in tune with these trends in 2016 will help you guide your clients in creating these spaces and helping them find what they are after in a home. You can also help your sellers by being on the cutting edge of what consumers are after, to better guide them in any changes they may want to incorporate in their space to help it sell.

Sources: National Association of Realtors, CoreLogic, Housingwire, Bureau of Labor Statistics, HUD

Thursday
Feb182016

Emergency Preparation Checklist

Are You Prepared?

 Are You Prepared?

 Get Started Building a Home Emergency Kit

Winter storm season is upon us and according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half the people in the U.S. do not have resources and plans in place to deal with an emergency. 

The good news is that there are some simple steps you can take now to help you prepare for an emergency. Depending on where you live, and the unique needs of your family, you might need different things in an emergency, but here are a few things that everyone should have in their home emergency kit.

Food and Water

  • Water, at least one gallon per person per day for a minimum of three days
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food per person
  • Manual can opener for canned food
  • Pet food and extra water

Electronics

  • Flashlight
  • Cell phone with charger, inverter, or solar charger
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio (a NOAA Weather Radio suggested)
  • Extra batteries

Health and Safety

  • First aid kit
  • Medicines (three-day supply, minimum)
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities

Storing and Maintaining Your Kit

Once your supplies are together, here are a few tips to keep your supplies ready:

  • Write the date you store food and water on all containers.
  • Keep canned food in a cool, dry place.
  • Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers to protect from pests.
  • Change food, water, medicine and batteries ever six months.
  • Rethink your needs every year and update your kit as your family’s needs change.

Mobile Apps:

The Red Cross also has a number of free apps including:

  • Emergency app – Stay on top of severe weather and emergency alerts and gain access to safety information
  • First Aid app – Instant access to information for common first aid emergencies
  • Pet First Aid app – Important first aid information for your cat or dog

FEMA also has a mobile app to that includes safety and emergency preparedness as well as weather alerts, disasters resources and reports.

Other Resources:

By  on February 4, 2016

Wednesday
Feb172016

Smart Houses are Here to Stay! Just Ask Barbie

Even Barbie Has a Smart Home

Barbie’s Dreamhouse is now outfitted with voice-activated smart home commands, the toy manufacturer Mattel announced recently at the 2016 International Toy Fair in New York.

The Hello Barbie Dreamhouse includes Wi-Fi capabilities that allow users to connect to an app and use voice-recognition software to talk directly to the home and control it. It mimics smart home technology heading into real-life homes today, such as Siri working with Apple HomeKit-enabled products or Amazon’s Echo. For example, kids playing with Barbie’s Hello Dreamhouse can say: “Hello, Dreamhouse. Turn on the bedroom light,” and the lights will turn on. Other voice-activated controls include the elevator, the oven, and a whole-house "party mode" that makes the chandeliers spin and turns the stairs into a slide.
And if the smart home wasn’t enough, Barbie is also getting a drone/hoverboard. Mattel unveiled the Star Light Adventure RC Hoverboard RC drone, which Barbie stands on as it flies around the room, controlled by a remote. Both products will be available in fall 2016 – the Hello Dreamhouse for $299 and Barbie drone retailing for $59.99.