Category Archives: Around The Home

Looking for a Value-adding Upgrade? Why Residential Solar Panels Are Becoming a Popular Renovation

Looking for a Value-adding Upgrade? Why Residential Solar Panels Are Becoming a Popular RenovationIf you’re looking for a home upgrade that can add resale value to your home while paying itself off over time, look no further than a solar panel setup. In the past few years, the cost of installing residential solar has declined while the efficiency of the panels has increased. This combination has made home solar one of the best investments that a homeowner can make – provided they live in an area that receives a good deal of sunshine.

Solar Adds Immense Value To Your Home

While solar panel installations are not inexpensive, in almost every case they add at least their total cost to the value of the home as soon as they are installed. If you decide to sell your home, it will be very attractive to those who are interested in leaving a lighter footprint or for anyone who was thinking of going solar after they bought their new home.

A Quality Install Will Pay For Itself Over Time

As they generate electricity which can be used in your home or sold back in to the public grid, residential solar panels are one of the only home upgrades that will pay for themselves over time. If you live in a very sunny area and watch your home energy consumption, you may even find that after a few years your solar setup actually begins generating a profit each month. Home solar setups typically come with a 25-year warranty so you can rest assured that your panels will be producing energy for at least the next couple of decades.

Tax Credits And Incentives Reduce The Up-front Financial Cost

Renewable energy sources like solar quality for significant tax credits and rebates which will vary depending on the city and state or province that you live in. A quick web search will show you which types of incentives that you will qualify for, or you can call a local residential solar installer as they’ll be fully aware of all of the various incentives that are available.

It’s Not Just Car Storage: How to Transform Your Garage into a Brand New, Highly Usable Space

It's Not Just Car Storage: How to Transform Your Garage into a Brand New, Highly Usable SpaceIn some homes, garages are used only for car storage. They may appear to be bare and without real functional use for homeowners. However, other garages may be an envy of the neighborhood – they may have floor to ceiling shelving systems, and they may be the picture-perfect image of organization.

With a bit of planning and creativity, you can turn your garage into a much more functional space. Here’s how you can make your garage the most useful space in the house.

Determine What You Need To Store

One of the most important steps to take when improving the functionality of your garage is to determine which items you need to store. The last thing you want is to invest in a shelving system or cabinets for your garage only to later realize that your belongings do not fit in the features you have purchased. Take an inventory of the items you want to put in the space as well as their sizes and dimensions, and then take stock of the space available to store these items.

Invest In Storage Features

There are numerous types of storage features that you may choose to invest in for your garage, such as cabinets, drawers, wall pegs, shelves, overhead storage features, and bins.

The best storage features for your garage are those that take into account your accessibility needs. For example, seasonal items that you may rarely need access to may be placed in overhead storage features that hang over the cars. On the other hand, screwdrivers and other tools that you may need to use more frequently should be placed in a more accessible area.

Consider The Look Of The Garage

Some homeowners truly do not care what their garage looks like, but you should keep in mind that this is a room that is revealed to the outside world each time your garage doors are raised. This can indeed affect curb appeal and others’ impressions of you. Therefore, think about investing in a full garage storage system rather than piecing together different items.

If your garage looks like a war zone, you are wasting valuable storage space and compromising your property value. Investing in aesthetically pleasing and highly functional storage solutions can turn your garage into a major selling point and a great multi-use space.

A Quick Guide to Assessing Your Home’s Foundation for Cracks – And What to Do if You Find Them

A Quick Guide to Assessing Your Home's Foundation for Cracks - And What to Do if You Find Them When purchasing a home, there are a number of considerations that need to be taken into account. One of those considerations is the foundation of the home. No matter how perfect or suitable a property looks, taking the time to properly inspect the property for foundation problems can save you thousands of dollars in repairs later on.

While foundation cracks are usually present in older homes, that does not mean that newer and even brand new homes are not susceptible to them. When choosing a property, the following tips can help homebuyers find signs of foundation problems and take the right action if any are found.

Concrete Weakness

One of the easiest ways to check for a damaged foundation is to check the concrete of the home. When the foundation is strong and safe, the concrete is not brittle and breakable. To test this, when trying to poke the foundation with a screwdriver, the foundation should be rock solid. If it isn’t, then there may be a foundation issue.

Posts Should Be Sturdy

If the house has a basement, then the posts that hold up the basement and crawl space should stand firmly in place. The bottom of the post should be unmovable and the post should stand straight and tall. If the posts do not do so, then there might be a problem with the foundation.

Uneven Floors

The next component of the house that should be inspected is the floors. All of the floors within the house must be solid, straight, and not slanted. If the floor is slanted or separates from the wall in any place, then the foundation is unable to support the home properly and there is likely a serious issue.

Exterior Cracks

The walls are also a way to check for foundation issues. Take a tour around the outside of the home and inspect for any cracks to the exterior. Each wall on the outside of the home should be smooth, solid, and free of any cracks. However, if there is a crack, this may mean that the foundation has shifted and the home is uneven.

Windows and Doors

Next, inspect every window and door on the property. Each should be attached to the surrounding wall and they must also open and close without any difficulty. If there is a difficulty in opening and closing windows and doors, there may be a foundation problem like shifting or even ground that is unable to support the property.

Moist Ground Around the Property

Lastly, another sign that there is a foundation problem is if the ground around the property is moist. A strong foundation will usually be set upon ground that is completely solid. When the ground is moist, the dirt particles are porous and unable to bind together, leading to shifting, cracks, and major damage to the home.

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.

How To Make Your Home Look More Luxurious On A Budget

How To Make Your Home Look More Luxurious On A BudgetHave you been looking through home décor magazines and gazing with wonder at the gorgeous homes inside? Do you want to add a touch of elegance and luxury to your home, but you are on a tight budget?

No need to worry, there are many ways that you can make your home look like a million bucks, without actually having to spend a fortune.  

Luxury Home Decor Ideas

Here are a few great ideas that don’t have to cost a lot, they just require a little bit of planning and some elbow grease and they will take your home from ordinary to luxury.

  • Mount your curtains at ceiling level rather than the top of the windows. This draws the eye upwards and gives the illusion of high ceilings.
  • Paint your interior doors a sleek and shiny shade of black. This looks very modern and sophisticated and is much cheaper than buying expensive doors.
  • If your home doesn’t have crown moulding, paint a white band around the ceiling to fake the look.
  • The little details can make a big difference when it comes to making a home look elegant and luxurious. Add in finishing touches such as a beautiful glass vase, a stack of coffee table books, fresh flowers or a piece of artwork.
  • Remember, less is more and a cluttered house will not create the impression of luxury. Eliminate as much clutter as possible, making your home seem more spacious and sophisticated.
  • Lighting can also have a big impact on how luxurious your home appears. Invest in a few beautiful and stylish lamps, or a chandelier, and you will transform the entire space.
  • When choosing fabrics for accessories and upholstery, go for fabrics that have a luxurious texture such as velvet, satin or fur. They can be faux to make them cheaper, but they will still add to the luxurious look.
  • You can take simple and cheap accessories such as a candle holder or a vase from the dollar store and then paint them with gold paint. They will have a luxurious look, for much less than the real thing!

These are just a few ideas that you can incorporate into your home décor of your home in order to make it look and feel more luxurious. For more helpful information, contact your mortgage professional.

The Low Down On Heating And Cooling Your Home

The Low Down On Heating And Cooling Your HomeIf the temperature in your home is too hot at night, then you can’t sleep. If it’s too cold during the day, then you have to wear excessive layers.

Everyone has his or her own idea of the ideal temperature, but to keep it on that perfect number can get expensive. So, below we’ve outlined five ways you can take care of your heating and cooling system and help it run more efficiently.

1. Set It And Forget It

To maximize the effectiveness of your heating and cooling systems, you need to program your thermostat and refrain from changing it. Adjusting the thermostat makes your system work harder.

The best way to avoid tempting temperature changes is to choose a thermostat that fits your schedule, such as one with 7-day, 5-1-1, 5-2 or 1-week programming options.

2. Clean The Air Ducts

Even though your air filter catches most dust, over time debris can build up. The accumulation of dirt can restrict airflow throughout your ducts and even start blowing particles out of your registers.

Check inside the ducts and if there is any mold, dead insects, rodent feces or a thick layer of dust, then consider hiring a professional to do a deep cleaning.

3. Put Your Ceiling Fans To Work

Ceiling fans can help with heating and cooling by distributing the flow of air throughout your home. Most fans are reversible, which means they can push air down in summer to create a nice breeze and pull air up in winter to aid in circulating the heat. To change the direction of the fan’s rotation, look for a switch on its base.

4. Replace Your Air Filter

It’s standard to change your air filter every 90 days. However, you should take a peek at it every month. If it looks grimy and clogged, then go ahead and change it.

Also, consider investing in high-efficiency pleated filters. They have an electrostatic charge that grabs onto even the smallest dirt specks.

5. Consider Booster Fans

If one room in your house is always warmer or colder than the rest of your home, it might not be your HVAC system. It could be the ductwork. The twists and turns of air ducts, especially in older homes, can reduce airflow.

Booster fans are easy to install and do exactly what their name implies. They boost the flow of air to the part of your home in need of more heating or cooling. 

3 Tips To Get The Most Out Of Your Plumbing

Get The Most Out Of Your PlumbingEveryone wants their pipes to last as long as possible, but there are a couple of simple problems that might be sucking the life out of your plumbing. Long-term stress is the enemy when it comes to your water system.

The three most common enemies are high water pressure, mineral-laden hard water, and grease. Avoid these three mistakes, and your water system will last years longer.

Take The Pressure Off Your Pipes

You might enjoy high water pressure when you’re taking a shower, but your pipes aren’t enjoying it at all. Over time, this high pressure stresses your plumbing system and can lead to leaks.

Is your high-pressure shower worth an expensive plumbing leak? To test your water pressure, you’ll have to hire a professional. Proper pressure should be somewhere between forty and eighty pounds per square inch.

To have a plumber reduce your water pressure should cost no more than about three or four hundred dollars. That sounds expensive, but it’s a lot cheaper than a leak.

Soft Water Is Good Water

If your water has a lot of minerals dissolved it, then it’s known as hard water. If you don’t already have a water softener you should consider it, because over time, those minerals will build up in your plumbing.

Eventually this will lead to a leak, so nip the problem in the bud, and look into getting a water softener. A good water softener should cost around five hundred dollars.

Hard water also makes soaps and detergents less effective. Soft water will get your clothes, your dishes, and even your hair cleaner.

Cease The Grease

Don’t ever pour cooking grease down the drain. It might be liquid when you pour it, but after a while, it will cool and solidify in your pipes. This won’t break the plumbing and cause a leak, but it will clog it all up.

The water that goes down afterward won’t do anything to wash away the sticky grease. You don’t want your pipes backing up, trust me. That is one messy problem.

Instead pour your grease into containers and throw it away in the garbage. Even better, go ahead and save it in the pantry and cook with it later.

Indoor plumbing is one of the most convenient technologies we have. So don’t take it for granted. Take care of your plumbing, and get the most out of it.

Avoid excessive water pressure, get a water softener, and don’t pour any grease down the drain. A little care now will go a long way. No one wants to deal with a plumbing leak. They’re expensive and a huge hassle.

Dine In Style, Kitchen Design Dos And Don’ts For 2014

Dine In Style, Kitchen Design Dos And Don’ts For 2014The kitchen is one of the most important rooms of your home. It is where you prepare all of your meals and it is often a hub of family activity. When you host a party, the action often ends up in the kitchen.

Where drinks and snacks are enjoyed into the early hours of the morning. It’s crucial that your kitchen functions well because you will use it every day, but you also want to make it beautiful and stylish.

Renovating and decorating your kitchen can also be one of the best ways to increase the resale value of your home. If you are planning on a kitchen makeover:

Here Are Some Dos And Don’ts To Keep In Mind:

  • Don’t forget to consider the proportions of everyone who will use the kitchen. Don’t choose kitchen stools that are too high for your kids to sit on, or cabinets that your wife cannot reach.
  • Think carefully about storage space. What do you need to store and how much room do you need? You might want to store away your blender and toaster and other small appliances as well, so that they don’t have to clutter up the counter all the time.
  • One of the hottest trends of 2014 is a simple and elegant white and cream kitchen. A neutral color like this can be accented with vibrant splashes of color, such as a bright fruit bowl or a wall hanging. If you are selling your home, a neutral tone will appeal more to the majority of buyers.
  • Another popular trend is green and environmentally sustainable elements within the kitchen. Recycled, renewable and energy-efficient products are in abundance at the moment and these options will not only save you money, they will be much better for the environment.
  • Instead of placing your microwave on the counter, it makes a lot more sense to fit it in seamlessly with your cabinets. This will allow you to free up counter space in your kitchen.
  • Be careful not to over design – it’s a common decorating mistake. Keep things simple and know when to stop, so that you don’t have a kitchen that looks overwhelming and cluttered.

These are just a few tips to keep in mind if you are giving the kitchen of your home a makeover for 2014. For more helpful tips and information, contact your trusted mortgage professional.

Top 10 Indoor Houseplants For Your Air Quality

Top 10 Indoor Houseplants For Your Air QualityHouseplants are great for decorating. They can brighten up any room. Plus, houseplants can increase the air quality in a room. That makes you happier, healthier and reduces stress.

Speaking of stress, these plants won’t create any at all. All of the plants on this list are great at producing oxygen and require very little care.

10. Heartleaf Philodendron

A tough plant that’s a good filter for toxins like formaldehyde, Heartleaf Philodendron makes a great houseplant. The only downside is that it’s toxic to eat, so it may not be the best choice for those with kids or pets. But if you can control your appetite, the Heartleaf Philodendron is an excellent indoor houseplant for air quality.

9. Snake Plant

Also called Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, the Snake plant thrives in the bathroom. It loves the steamy conditions and can do without much light. It’s a great air filter as well.

8. Bamboo Palm

It thrives indoors and requires little maintenance. The Bamboo Palm even produces flowers and berries.

7. Red-edged Dracaena

Another great air filter, the Red-edged Dracaena is interesting because of its size. It can grow all the way to the ceiling. This beast of an oxygen-producing plant makes a great addition to the living room.

6. Chinese Evergreen

This is one of the prettier options. With interesting leaf colorings as well as berries and blooms, the Chinese Evergreen will contribute to your décor as well as your air quality.

5. Peace Lily

The Peace Lily only needs water about once a week. This is a great houseplant for air quality, and it’s easy to care for.

4. Devil’s Ivy

This air purifier looks great in a basket. Try hanging it in the garage.

3. English Ivy

English Ivy is an excellent filter plant. It’s been shown to filter out formaldehyde, which can be found in some cleaning products, and it even filters fecal matter particles (I bet you didn’t even know there were any of those in your house). English Ivy is an invasive species though. It’s fine to keep inside as a houseplant, just make sure it doesn’t end up in the yard.

2. Weeping fig

A type of Ficus, this is a great houseplant for air quality. It’s a bit bigger than the others though. It would fit best in the living room.

1. Spider Plant

The Spider plant is nearly impossible to kill. Even if you’ve been a plant murderer in the past, try this one. It will do wonders for your air quality, and I promise you won’t kill it.

Houseplants have been shown to reduce stress in the home. Combine that with higher air quality and your quality of life can be greatly improved with the help of a new green friend.

Even if you don’t have a green thumb, you can take care of these. These are great houseplants for air quality.

The Simplest Ways To Lower Your Home Heating Bill This Winter

The Simplest Ways To Lower Your Home Heating Bill This WinterWhen the holiday season starts and the winter chill comes around, the heating bill at your property will naturally increase as you keep yourself warm and cosy. However, if your home is not being heated efficiently, you are essentially letting your hard earned dollars escape into the air as wasted energy.

What are some simple and inexpensive ways that you can cut down your heating expenses this winter and save yourself some money?

Only Heat The Rooms You Are Using

If you work from home and are spending eight hours of the day sitting in your home office, there is no need to keep the rest of the house toasty warm. If you have heaters that you can turn on and off for each room, you can direct the heat to the room that you are using.

0If you have a spare bedroom, you don’t even have to heat it at all unless a guest is coming to stay over.

Change The Air Filter On Your Furnace

If the air filter on your furnace is getting old and clogged up, it will block the airflow from the furnace itself which is a huge waste of energy. This will mean that your furnace works less effectively and it will also reduce its lifespan. It will only cost you $20 to change the air filter, but this little fix will make a big difference in the long run.

Turn On Your Ceiling Fan

You might think that turning on your ceiling fans in order to save money on heating makes no sense, but hear me out on this one. When you turn on your fans in reverse, they will actually draw the warm air throughout the house – helping to circulate it and keep it warmer.

Dress Warm At Home

If you live in a cold climate and you can walk around in your house in a t-shirt and shorts comfortably, you’re wasting money! If you wear warm clothing indoors during the winter, you will be able to keep your thermostat several degrees cooler and you will save yourself a lot of money over the winter.

These are just a few simple ways that you can reduce the heating costs for your property this winter. For more helpful tips and advice, feel free to contact your trusted mortgage professional.