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Outdoor Lighting for Curb Appeal and Safety

Outdoor Lighting for Curb Appeal and Safety

Well-planned outdoor lighting improves curb appeal, safety, and security for your home.

Mimicking moonlight
Much of the success of exterior lighting hinges on its design. Hang around lighting designers long enough and you’ll hear a lot of talk about “moonlight effect.” That’s a naturalistic look that features light no more intense than that of a full moon, but still strong enough to make beautiful shadows and intense highlights.
Other techniques outdoor lighting designers use:

  • Highlight trees: Whether illumined from below or given presence by a light mounted in the tree itself, trees make stunning features.
  • Use uplights: Uplighting is dramatic because we expect light to shine downward. Used in moderation, it’s a great way to highlight architectural and landscaping features.
  • Have a focus: The entryway is often center stage, a way of saying, “Welcome, this way in.”
  • Combine beauty and function: For example, adding lighting to plantings along a pathway breaks up the “runway” look of too many lights strung alongside a walk.
  • Vary the fixtures: While the workhorses are spots and floods, designers turn to a wide range of fixtures, area lights, step lights, and bollards or post lights.
  • Stick to warm light: A rainbow of colors are possible, but most designers avoid anything but warm white light, preferring to showcase the house and its landscape rather than create a light show.
  • Orchestrate: A timer, with confirmation from a photocell, brings the display to life as the sun sets. At midnight it shuts shut down everything but security lighting. Some homeowners even set the timer to light things up an hour or so before dawn.

Adding safety and security
Falls are the foremost cause of home injury, according to the Home Safety Council. Outdoors, stair and pathway lighting help eliminate such hazards.
Often safety and security can be combined. For example, motion-detecting security lighting mounted near the garage provides illumination when you get out of your car at night; the same function deters intruders. Motion detecting switches can also be applied to landscape lighting to illumine shadowy areas should anyone walk nearby.
Even the moonlight effect has a security function: Soft, overall landscape lighting eliminates dark areas that might hide an intruder, exposing any movement on your property. Overly bright lights actually have a negative effect, creating undesirable pockets of deep shadow.
Switching to LEDs
Once disparaged for their high cost and cold bluish glow, LEDs are now the light source of choice for lighting designers. “They’ve come down in price and now have that warm light people love in incandescent bulbs,” says Paul Gosselin, owner of Night Scenes Landscape Lighting Professionals in Kingsland, Texas. “We haven’t installed anything but LEDs for the last year.”
Although LED fixtures remain twice as expensive as incandescents, installation is simpler because they use low-voltage wiring. “All in all, LEDs cost only about 25% more to install,” Gosselin says. “And they’ll save about 75% on your electricity bill.”
Another advantage is long life. LEDs last at least 40,000 hours, or about 18 years of nighttime service. With that kind of longevity, “why should a fixture have only a two-year warranty?” asks Gosselin. He advises buying only fixtures with a 15-year warranty, proof that the fixture’s housing is designed to live as long as the LED bulbs inside.
Innovations
The growing popularity of exterior lighting has led to innovative fixtures. Here are some bright new ideas:

  • Solar lighting: When first introduced, solar pathway lights produced a dull glow that rarely made it through the night. They do much better now that they are equipped with electricity-sipping LEDs, more efficient photovoltaic cells, and better batteries. Still, they have yet to measure up to hard-wired systems.
  • Hybrids: Porch lights now come equipped with LED lighting for all night use, and a motion sensor that clicks on an incandescent bulb to provide extra illumination as you approach the front door. Hybrids use about 5% of the power a solely incandescent fixture requires.
  • Barbecue light: Tired of grilling steaks by flash light? Now you can buy a gooseneck outdoor light, ideal for an outdoor kitchen.

The Real Costs of Halloween Home Disasters: Serial Killers, Phantasms, and Floods of Blood

Looking back at some of the ‘classic’ horror home disasters, lets estimate the home repair costs in Poltergeist, Scream, The Shining, and other horror classics.

The Shining

When little Danny Torrance saw a river of blood surging down the hallway, there’s one thing that was probably not on his mind: What’s it going to cost to clean up this mess? He was a little more concerned with evading his possessed, axe-wielding father. But the answer depends entirely on whether the Overlook Hotel was covered for flood insurance. Let’s just hope they opted for maximum blood coverage.
Disaster: Flooding

  • The average flood claim for a residence is about $33,000.
  • The average annual cost of flood insurance for a residence is $540.

Poltergeist
When considering a new home, save some money, have it inspected—and make sure it’s not on an unmarked burial ground. You’ll disrespect the dead, and as we learned in Poltergeist, phantasms can get pretty miffed. They’ll suck children into other dimensions and even push coffins through the back yard, ripping up the landscaping and inflicting serious damage.
If ghosts do turn your yard into Swiss cheese–and your house doesn’t get sucked into a void like the Freelings’–you’ll need to redo your landscaping. Consider hiring a certified landscape architect to design a plan that includes irrigation, lighting, soil conditioning, and repotting (or removing) those pesky coffins. You might also want to consider planting a few new trees which, when properly placed for shade, will save you up to $250 a year in energy costs.
Disaster: Destroyed landscaping

  • A landscape consultation costs about $100 to $150.
  • A detailed plan can run from $300 to $2,500.
  • New sod installation is 30 to 50 cents per square foot.
  • Total sod cost for the average suburban yard: $2,000.
  • Three 15-foot trees cost a total of $300 to $600.

Scream
 
Going up? When Ghostface caught this beered-up victim in the too-small cat portal of a garage door, he scored a memorable kill, but shorted out the garage door opener in the process. While this party girl never made it to a sequel, the home owners lucked out with an easy repair. So easy, they might even consider a whole new garage door. But, of course, spring for a bigger cat door.
Disaster: Broken garage door

  • A replacement garage door opener costs about $300.
  • Installed garage doors range from $550 to $1,650 for a single door, and $800 to $2,500 for a double door.

The Amityville Horror

Bolts of lightning might have blown out the windows of this infamous Amityville residence, but whole-house surge protectors would have kept the lights on and things running smoothly—at least until Father Delaney and the Devil battle it out over who has to pay for window replacements. Spoiler alert: bet on the Devil.
Disaster: Broken windows

  • Replacement windows cost $250 to $800 each.

Interview with the Vampire
 
Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt had a great time slurping the life out of the residents of New Orleans, but you wouldn’t want the same drain on your homestead. That’s why you need to be vigilant about the waste caused by vampire energy, also known as standby power consumption—unneeded electricity usage that sucks up to $100 out of your wallet annually.
Most common culprits are computers, monitors, printers, and stereo subwoofers. Try plugging devices into a power strip and get in the habit of turning them all off at once. Or try a “smart” power strip that senses when you’ve shut off your computer and cuts the juice. It works much better than garlic.
Disaster: Energy drain

  • Power strips are $10 each
  • “Smart” power strips cost $30

Thriller video
 
When Michael Jackson and his zombie buddies broke into an old house to terrify his girlfriend, costly damage ensues—destruction that could have been avoided if only the undead had turned the doorknob.
Unfortunately, zombies aren’t too dexterous, and the hapless home owners got stuck with the cost of a new steel exterior replacement door. If only they had installed a home security system, those zombies would be singing an entirely different tune.
Disaster: Zombie attack

  • A replacement door costs about $1,200.
  • A home security system installation costs $500, with a monthly fee of $35 to $75.

Home Owners – Free Info to Save Money on Energy

If a home owner has just $1,000 to spend on energy-efficient home improvements, what would you recommend he or she do first?

1.Caulk and seal all penetrations into the home. Whether you hire someone to do a home energy audit, or do it yourself, there are penetrations all around your home.  If you have a crawlspace or basement, check the penetrations from plumbing lines and electricity wires.  You may be shocked at all the gaping holes in your house. Buy a few cans of Great Stuff and take a weekend to go around and seal everything, filling around windows, too. It takes time and it’s a pain, but it works.
2. Hire an HVAC contractor to take a hard look at all your ductwork — are there any ducts leaking that need to be re-sealed? — and give you an HVAC tune-up. You might spend a couple hundred bucks, but you can save significantly depending on how old or out of shape your HVAC system is.  
3. Replace all your lighting with CFLs or LEDs. Most people tell us they’ve replaced all their incandescents, but it just isn’t true. The DOE says that only about 13% of sockets are filled with CFLs right now.
4. Program your thermostat. Most people who buy programmable thermostats don’t program them. If we actually programmed them not to heat the furniture while we’re away, that would be smart. 
5. Reduce the temperature on your water heater. The Department of Energy recommends 120 degrees. If you have a tank water heater, it keeps a certain amount of water hot and ready to go all day, so lowering the temperature reduces the energy you use to heat the water.
If, after you’ve done all those relatively low-cost things, you want to make a little bit more of an investment, consider adding insulation to your house.

Do it Yourself Projects that really add up

According to a recent survey, the below projects are cost-effective improvements that provide a positive Return on Investment toward the value of your home.  These are VERY important steps to take when preparing your home for market.  Even though these are ranked in order of greatest ROI, all of these need to be conducted prior to putting your home on the market for sale.

7 Smart Strategies for Bathroom Remodeling

7 Smart Strategies for Bathroom Remodeling

Here’s how to get the bathroom of your dreams without making your budget a nightmare.

A mid-range bathroom remodel is a solid investment, according to Remodeling Magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report. An average bath remodel of $16,500 will recoup about 62% of those costs when it’s time to sell your home, and a more extensive $52,200 job returns about 55.5%. In addition, you can maximize the value of your investment by using these smart strategies, which will create a stylish yet budget-friendly bathroom.

1. Stick to a plan

A bathroom remodel is no place for improvisation. Before ripping out the first tile, think hard about how you will use the space, what materials and fixtures you want, and how much you’re willing to spend.
The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) recommends spending up to six months evaluating and planning before beginning work. That way, you have a roadmap that will guide decisions, even the ones made under remodeling stress. Once work has begun—a process that averages 2 to 3 months—resist changing your mind. Work stoppages and alterations add costs. Some contractors include clauses in their contracts that specify premium prices for changing original plans.
If planning isn’t your strong suit, hire a designer. In addition to adding style and efficiency, a professional designer makes sure contractors and installers are scheduled in an orderly fashion. A pro charges $100 to $200 per hour, and spends 10 to 30 hours on a bathroom project.
 

2. Keep the same footprint

You can afford that Italian tile you love if you can live with the total square footage you already have.
Keeping the same footprint, and locating new plumbing fixtures near existing plumbing pipes, saves demolition and reconstruction dollars. You’ll also cut down on the dust and debris that make remodeling so hard to live with.
Make the most of the space you have. Glass doors on showers and tubs open up the area. A pedestal sink takes up less room than a vanity. If you miss the storage, replace a mirror with a deep medicine cabinet.

3. Make lighting a priority

Multiple shower heads and radiant heat floors are fabulous adds to a bathroom remodel. But few items make a bathroom more satisfying than lighting designed for everyday grooming. You can install lighting for a fraction of the cost of pricier amenities.
Well-designed bathroom task lighting surrounds vanity mirrors and eliminates shadows on faces: You look better already. The scheme includes two ceiling- or soffit-mounted fixtures with 60 to 75 watts each, and side fixtures or sconces providing at least 150 watts each, distributed vertically across 24 inches (to account for people of various heights). Four-bulb lighting fixtures work well for side lighting.

4. Clear the air

Bathroom ventilation systems may be out of sight, but they shouldn’t be out of mind during a bathroom remodel.
Bathroom ventilation is essential for removing excess humidity that fogs mirrors, makes bathroom floors slippery, and contributes to the growth of mildew and mold. Controlling mold and humidity is especially important for maintaining healthy indoor air quality and protecting the value of your home—mold remediation is expensive, and excess humidity can damage cabinets and painted finishes.
A bathroom vent and water closet fan should exhaust air to the outside—not simply to the space between ceiling joists. Better models have whisper-quiet exhaust fans and humidity-controlled switches that activate when a sensor detects excess moisture in the air.

5. Think storage

Bathroom storage is a challenge: By the time you’ve installed the toilet, shower, and sink, there’s often little space left to store towels, toilet paper, and hair and body products. Here are some ways to find storage in hidden places.

  • Think vertically: Upper wall space in a bathroom is often underused. Freestanding, multi-tiered shelf units designed to fit over toilet tanks turn unused wall area into found storage. Spaces between wall studs create attractive and useful niches for holding soaps and toiletries. Install shelves over towel bars to use blank wall space.
  • Think moveable: Inexpensive woven baskets set on the floor are stylish towel holders. A floor-stand coat rack holds wet towels, bath robes, and clothes.
  • Think utility: Adding a slide-out tray to vanity cabinet compartments provides full access to stored items and prevents lesser-used items from being lost or forgotten.

6. Contribute sweat equity

Shave labor costs by doing some work yourself. Tell your contractor which projects you’ll handle, so there are no misunderstandings later.
Some easy DIY projects:

  • Install window and baseboard trim; save $250.
  • Paint walls and trim, 200 sq.ft.; save $200.
  • Install toilet; save $150.
  • Install towel bars and shelves; save $20 each.

7. Choose low-cost design for high visual impact

 
A “soft scheme” adds visual zest to your bathroom, but doesn’t create a one-of-a-kind look that might scare away future buyers.
Soft schemes employ neutral colors for permanent fixtures and surfaces, then add pizzazz with items that are easily changed, such as shower curtains, window treatments, towels, throw rugs, and wall colors. These relatively low-cost decorative touches provide tons of personality but are easy to redo whenever you want.

7 Hot Home Improvement Trends that Make Your Home Work for You

7 Hot Home Improvement Trends that Make Your Home Work for You

Home improvement trends embrace energy efficiency, low maintenance exteriors, and double-duty space.

Trend #1: Maintenance-free siding

We continue to choose maintenance-free siding that lives as long as we do, but with a lot less upkeep. But more and more we’re opting for fiber-cement siding, one of the fastest-growing segments of the siding market. It’s a combination of cement, sand, and cellulosic fibers that looks like wood but won’t rot, combust, or succumb to termites and other wood-boring insects.  At $5 to $9 per sq. ft., installed, fiber-cement siding is more expensive than paint-grade wood, vinyl, and aluminum siding. It returns 78% of investment, the highest return of any upscale project on Remodeling magazine’s latest Cost vs. Value Report.  Maintenance is limited to a cleaning and some caulking each spring. Repaint every 7 to 15 years. Wood requires repainting every 4 to 7 years.

Trend #2: Convertible spaces

Forget “museum rooms” we use twice a year (dining rooms and living rooms) and embrace convertible spaces that change with our whims.  Foldaway walls turn a private study into an easy-flow party space. Walls can consist of fancy, glass panels ($600 to $1,600 per linear ft., depending on the system); or they can be simple vinyl-covered accordions  ($1,230 for 7 ft. by 10 ft.). PortablePartions.com sells walls on wheels ($775 for approximately 7 ft. by 7 ft.).  A Murphy bed pulls down from an armoire-looking wall unit and turns any room into a guest room. Prices, including installation and cabinetry, range from $2,000 (twin with main cabinet) to more than $5,000 (California king with main and side units). Just search online for sellers.   And don’t forget area rugs that easily define, and redefine, open spaces.

Trend #3: A laundry room of your own

Humankind advanced when the laundry room arose from the basement to a louvered closet on the second floor where clothes live. Now, we’re taking another step forward by granting washday a room of its own.  If you’re thinking of remodeling, turn a mudroom or extra bedroom into a dedicated laundry room big enough to house the washer and dryer, hang hand-washables, and store bulk boxes of detergent.  Look for spaces that already have plumbing hookups or are adjacent to rooms with running water to save on plumbing costs.

Trend #4: Souped-up kitchens

Although houses are trending smaller, kitchens are getting bigger, according to the American Institute of Architects’ Home Design Trends Survey.
Kitchen remodels open the space, perhaps incorporating lonely dining rooms, and feature recycling centers, large pantries, and recharging stations.
Oversized and high-priced commercial appliances—did we ever fire up six burners at once?—are yielding to family-sized, mid-range models that recover at least one cabinet for storage.  Since the entire family now helps prepare dinner (in your dreams), double prep sinks have evolved into dual-prep islands with lots of counter space and pull-out drawers.

Trend #5: Energy diets

We’re wrestling with an energy disorder: We’re binging on electronics—cell phones, iPads, Blackberries, laptops–then crash dieting by installing LED fixtures and turning the thermostat to 68 degrees.  Are we ahead of the energy game? Only the energy monitors and meters know for sure.  These new tracking devices can gauge electricity usage of individual electronics ($20 to $30) or monitor whole house energy ($100 to $250). The TED 5000 Energy Monitor ($240) supplies real-time feedback that you can view remotely and graph by the second, minute, hour, day, and month.

Trend #6: Love that storage

As we bow to the new god of declutter, storage has become the holy grail.  We’re not talking about more baskets we can trip over in the night; we’re imagining and discovering built-in storage in unlikely spaces–under stairs, over doors, beneath floors.  Under-appreciated nooks that once displayed antique desks are growing into built-ins for books and collections. Slap on some doors, and you can hide office supplies and buckets of Legos.  Giant master suites, with floor space to land a 747, are being divided to conquer clutter with more walk-in closets.

Trend #7: Home offices come out of the closet

Flexible work schedules, mobile communications, and entrepreneurial zeal are relocating us from the office downtown to home.  Laptops and wireless connections let us telecommute from anywhere in the house, but we still want a dedicated space (preferably with a door) for files, supplies, and printers.
Spare bedrooms are becoming home offices and family room niches are morphing into working nooks. After a weekend of de-cluttering, basements and attics are reborn as work centers.

Budget Kitchen Remodeling: 5 Money-Saving Steps

Budget Kitchen Remodeling: 5 Money-Saving Steps

Can’t afford an entire kitchen remodel in one fell swoop? You can complete the work in 5 budget-saving stages (and still cook dinner during the down time).

Stage one: Start with a complete design plan


Your plan should be comprehensive and detailed — everything from the location of the refrigerator to which direction the cabinet doors will open to whether you need a spice drawer.
To save time (and money) during tear-out and construction, plan on using your existing walls and kitchen configuration. That’ll keep plumbing and electrical systems mostly intact, and you won’t have the added expense — and mess — of tearing out walls.
Joseph Feinberg, vice president of Allied Kitchen and Bath in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., recommends hiring a professional designer, such as an architect or a certified kitchen designer, who can make sure the details of your plans are complete. You’ll pay about 10% of the total project for a pro designer, but you’ll save a whole bunch of headaches that would likely cost as much — or more — to fix. Plus, a pro is likely to offer smart solutions you hadn’t thought of.
For a nominal fee, you also can get design help from a major home improvement store. However, you’ll be expected to purchase some of your cabinets and appliances from that store.

  • Key strategies: Once your plans are set, you can hold onto them until you’re ready to remodel.
  • Time frame: 3-6 months

 

Stage two: Order the cabinets, appliances, and lighting fixtures

 
Cabinets  and appliances are the biggest investments in your kitchen remodeling  project. If you’re remodeling in stages, you can order them any time  after the plans are complete and store them in a garage (away from  moisture) or in a spare room until you’re ready to pull the trigger on  the installation.
Remember that it may take 4-6 weeks from the day you order them for your cabinets to be delivered.  If  you can’t afford all new appliances, keep your old ones for now — but  plan to buy either the same sizes, or choose larger sizes and design  your cabinets around those larger measurements. You can replace  appliances as budget permits later on.
The same goes for your lighting fixtures: If you can live with your old ones for now, you’ll save money by reusing them.
You’ll  have to decide about flooring, too — one of the trickier decisions to  make because it also affects how and when you install cabinets.
You’ll  need to know if your old flooring runs underneath your cabinets, or if  the flooring butts up against the cabinet sides and toe kicks. If the  flooring runs underneath, you’ll have some leeway for new cabinet  configurations — just be sure the old flooring will cover any newly  exposed floor areas. Here are points to remember:

  • Keep old flooring for cost savings. This works if your new cabinets  match your old layout, so that the new cabinets fit exactly into the old  flooring configuration. If the existing flooring runs underneath your  cabinets and covers all flooring area, then any new cabinet  configuration will be fine.
  • Keep your old flooring for now and cover it or replace it later.  Again, this works if your cabinet configuration is identical to the old  layout.

However, if you plan to cover your old flooring or tear it out and  replace it at some point in the future, remember that your new flooring  might raise the height of your floor, effectively lowering your cabinet  height.
For thin new floor coverings, such as vinyl and linoleum,  the change is imperceptible. For thicker floorings, such as wood and  tile, you might want to take into account the change in floor height by  installing your new cabinets on shims.

  • Key strategy: Keep old appliances, lighting fixtures, and flooring and use them until you can afford new ones.
  • Time frame: 2-3 weeks

Stage three: Gut the kitchen and do the electrical and plumbing work

 
Here’s   where the remodel gets messy. Old cabinetry and appliances are  removed,  and walls may have to be opened up for new electrical  circuits. Keep in  close contact with your contractor during this stage so you can answer questions and clear up any problems   quickly. A major kitchen remodel can take 6 to 10 weeks, depending on   how extensive the project is.
During this stage, haul your refrigerator, microwave, and toaster oven to another room — near the laundry or the garage, for example — so you’ve got the means to cook meals. Feinberg suggests tackling this stage in the summer, when you can easily grill and eat outside. That’ll reduce the temptation to eat at restaurants, and will help keep your day-to-day costs under control.

  • Key strategies: Encourage your contractor to expedite the   tear-out and installation of new systems. Plan a makeshift kitchen while   the work is progressing. Schedule this work for summer when you can   grill and eat outside.
  • Time frame: 6-10 weeks

Stage four: Install cabinets, countertop, appliances, flooring, and fixtures

If   you’ve done your homework and bought key components in advance, you   should roll through this phase. You’ve now got a (mostly) finished   kitchen.
A high-end countertop and backsplash can be a sizable sum of money. If you can’t quite swing   it, put down a temporary top, such as painted marine plywood or   inexpensive laminate. Later, you can upgrade to granite, tile, solid surface, or marble.

  • Key strategy: Install an inexpensive countertop; upgrade when you’re able.
  • Time frame: 1-2 weeks

Final phases: Upgrade if necessary

Replace the inexpensive countertop, pull up the laminate flooring, and put in tile or hardwood, or buy that new refrigerator you wanted but couldn’t afford during the remodel. (Just make sure it fits in the space!)

What it takes to sell your home!

What it takes to sell your home!
This is not rocket science these days, but it isn’t always what you see on HGTV either.  Today’s market is a “Price War” and a “Beauty Contest”, the first time we have been in both, at the same time.
Everyone thinks their home is the best in the neighborhood, but for most of us living in a developed neighborhood or subdivision, in a home built by a generic builder, your home is most like 99% of the homes in the neighborhood in terms of features (flooring style, crown molding, trimwork, etc), and probably the same exact house as yours is every 3rd houses down the street.  It is a big ‘awakening’ when I take my sellers and show them other homes for sale in their neighborhood.  Usually, the comment is “yeah, our house is just like theirs”.
In Central Arkansas for 2012, we are experiencing a high inventory of homes for sale, which has kept us in that “buyer’s market” mentality.  I say ‘mentality’ because whether your neighborhood has a stable, declining, or increasing market, the buyers today still think it is their market.
So, what does it take to sell your home?  Focus on the main areas:  Curb Appeal, Kitchen, Bathrooms & Staging/Detailing.
The goal is to eliminate any ‘negative’ thoughts from a buyer.  Yes, ‘any’!  Why, because most people ‘overestimate’ the cost of fixup by at least double the actual amount, and if they get ‘negative vibes’ from your home, they will just go to the next one.
Curb appeal is your first priority.  If it doesn’t appeal to the buyers from the outside, it will be hard to convert them with the inside.  Not impossible, but definitely a challenge.  I had buyers recently, who didn’t even want to go inside just because the outside was not appealing to them.  Good lawn, good landscaping features, clean exterior, pickup, fresh colorful flowers, fresh mulch, etc.  Most of this is easy stuff.
Once inside, buyers go ‘ga-ga’ over kitchens and bathrooms.  To have the limited buyers choose your home over the others, look into updating plumbing and lighting fixtures in these two areas, and keep them spotless.  New cabinet knobs and hinges go a long way.  What about a fresh paint job on cabinet doors, and maybe a little effect like ‘glazing’.  It seems stained cabinets are the ‘in’ trend right now for buyer preference, with granite countertops.
Finally, stage the home.  Clean it, declutter, properly place furniture to maximize space perception and flow.  You may even have to eliminate some furniture.  Put it in storage, or move it to another room that doesn’t have enough furniture.  This would be an excellent opportunity to bring in an interior design professional.  (Insert ad here – Have I mentioned that all my clients have access to a licensed Interior Designer, at no charge.)
Buyer are different these days.  They want the perfect house at a fair market value….maybe even a little discount!

Do-It-Yourself Home Security Check: 5 Essential Steps

Do-It-Yourself Home Security Check: 5 Essential Steps

Conduct a do-it-yourself home security check by walking around your house to assess what needs to be done to reduce the risk of a break-in.

1. Keep your home well-maintained on the outside.
Burglars want an easy target. Stand on the street outside your house and ask yourself: Does my property look neglected, hidden, or uninhabited? A front door or walkway that’s obscured by shrubbery offers crooks the perfect cover they need while they break a door or window. To improve security, trim shrubs away from windows and widen front walks.
2. Install motion detector lights.
All sides of your house should be well-lit with motion-activated lighting, not just the front. Simple motion-activated floodlights cost less than $50 each, and installing them is an easy DIY job if the wiring is already in place.
3. Store your valuables.
Thieves want easy-to-grab electronics, cash, jewelry, and other valuables, though some are not above running down the street with your flat-screen TV. Most make a beeline for the master bedroom, because that’s where you’re likely to hide spare cash, jewelry, even guns. 

Tour each room and ask yourself: is there anything here that I can move to a safe deposit box? Installing a home safe ($150 to $500) that’s bolted to your basement slab is a good repository for items you don’t use on a daily basis.
4. Secure your data.
While you probably won’t be putting your home computer in a safe anytime soon, take steps to back up the personal information stored on it. Password protect your login screen, and always shut off your computer when not in use (you’ll save energy, too!) Don’t overlook irreplaceable items whose value may hard to quantify, like digital photos.
5. Prepare ahead of time in case the worst happens.

  • Take a photo or video inventory of items of value in your home, and store the file online or in your home safe.
  • Check that you’re properly insured for theft. Note that high-ticket items in your home office, such as computers, professional camera equipment, or other business essentials, may require an additional rider or a separate policy.

End-of-Summer Checklist for Home Sellers

A recent article was published by rismedia about taking care of your home by providing an “End-of-Summer Checklist for Home Sellers”

The article highlights some maintenance projects that homeowners need to check, whether their home is on the market for sale or not before Winter arrives.
This article emphasizes the resources that local real estate agents provide to our market.  We understand what directly affects the value of a home, and what steps can be taken to insure that you protect your investment.  We also have reliable vendors who can help with these projects if you are not able to complete them.
Another important highlight of this article is the value of having your home inspected by a licensed home inspector.  Even if your home isn’t on the market, a home inspection can provide valuable maintenance projects that need to be looked into.  Some of these projects could be very expensive if not corrected right away.
Again, for reliable vendors, including a home inspector, for anything to do with your home, let me know.  I can steer you in the right direction.
 

End-of-summer projects agents can suggest to their home sellers include:
1. Outdoor painting.
2. Outdoor caulking and sealing.
3. Concrete and asphalt patching.
4. Patio and deck maintenance.
5. Landscaping.
You can see the entire article at http://rismedia.com/2012-08-13/end-of-summer-checklist-for-home-sellers/