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Blog Archive for June, 2016

What to look for in a new neighborhood

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: June 23, 2016

As you go house-hunting, it’s important to know the features of your ideal home—the style, size, number of rooms, age, and special amenities are some of the most important. But you also need to consider the neighborhood. The people and places that surround a home can make a big difference to your living experience there.

Certainly, location is the biggest concern. You probably have your short list of areas that fit your needs. But even when you find the one that’s close to your job and quality schools, you need to do a bit more research to make sure your new neighborhood will fit well with your lifestyle.

Take a walk.

Don’t just drive around the area. Get out and walk. Listen to the sounds. Is major road noise traveling farther than you expected? Are there any strange odors in the air? Maybe there’s a wastewater treatment plant a bit too close to your new home.

When you’re walking around, you’ll notice details that you might miss in a car. Look more closely at how your neighbors care for their yards. How’s the curb appeal? And how do the curbs, sidewalks, and streets look? This will provide valuable insight into the care that is given to the neighborhood.

If you have a dog, take him for a walk. See how other people react, so you can gauge how pet-friendly this community is.

Knock on a few doors.

Introduce yourself to neighbors. Let them know you’re considering a particular home, and ask what they know about the house. Has it been well cared for? How does the community’s homes fare in storms (snow, wind, heavy rain)? If there’s a Homeowners Association, how effective is it? How stringent are the restrictions? How secure is the area?

If your potential neighbors aren’t forthcoming, it’s a good sign that you shouldn’t be expecting a homemade pie when you move in.

Revisit at different times.

You might initially tour the home during the day, when many people are at work. Go back in the early evening so you can see the activity level when more residents are home. Are there lots of kids riding their bicycles? Are families outside grilling? Do you see happy homeowners enjoying their yards?

Inspect the safety.

If you aren’t familiar with an area, learn about the crime rate. You can type in the community, zip code, or address on various websites to learn more about the criminal activity in your desired area.

Are the streets well lit at night? Is there a neighborhood watch program there?

Visualize your life here.

Imagine yourself driving into the neighborhood, into your driveway, and walking into your home. Picture yourself working and relaxing in your yard. Think about finding that favorite restaurant down the street. Consider that quick trip to the grocery store to pick up a few ingredients.

How does it feel? Can you see a happy life in this neighborhood?

Remember, a home can be made even better in the right community. And it can be a nightmare in the wrong one. Before you invest in a new home, spend a little time getting to know the neighborhood.

Home decorating mistakes to avoid

Categories: Blog | Posted: June 16, 2016

It’s natural to be enthusiastic when decorating your home. But before you race ahead at full speed, stop and learn about these home design mistakes to avoid.

Tested your paint color on one wall.

The light in a room will change according to the time of day and the amount of light (from windows, skylights, and light fixtures). Brushing your paint sample in one area isn’t sufficient. Instead, go to the dollar store and buy a few sheets white poster board. Apply the paint to the poster boards. When it dries, hang them in different areas of the room, where the light differs. Look at these paint swatches at various times of the day and evening so you can see how it reacts to changing light.

Chose the bedroom color and then searched for bedding.

Your bedding choices can be somewhat limited, while the paint colors are not. Why struggle with finding a comforter, duvet, linens, and pillows to match the color on the wall, when you can more easily do it the other way around?

Bought furniture on a whim.

Buyer’s remorse probably begins in more furniture stores than anything else. Before you pull out your credit card, pull out your room measurements, to make sure the furniture is going to fit. It might also be helpful to have some photos of the room, to remind you of any existing furnishings that will need to fit in with your new stuff. Also bring color swatches to coordinate. And don’t be afraid to ask for fabric swatches to take home. After all, It’s a big investment.

Made big changes before moving in.

You buy a new home and you want it perfect when you move in. But be careful about doing too much. Live in the home for a while to determine if your pre-move decorating ideas will still make sense once you’re living there.

Succumbed to trend pressure.

Just because the magazines and blogs are telling you the latest trends in color, appliances, flooring, plumbing fixtures, and furnishings, doesn’t mean you have to follow. Choose according to your own tastes. Make your home a personal signature.

Bought artwork that matched the room.

The role of artwork is to reflect your style, not to fill a space. Look for art and accents that excite you. Then find the right place for them.

Guessed.

Whether it’s size, color, or style, don’t guess if it will work in your home. Bring photos of your rooms and specific spaces when you go shopping. And be sure you know the return policy before making the purchase. A little extra time with paint samples and fabric swatches could save you a lot of money and trouble.

Recaulk before you repaint: Tips for caulking your home

Categories: Blog | Posted: June 9, 2016

caulkingBlog

Keeping your home looking great requires exterior painting once in a great while. Not only will a fresh coat of paint—applied properly—improve the appearance, it also helps to protect the exterior and keep your home weather-tight.

Caulk first, paint later

Before you start the painting process, you need to take the essential step of re-caulking your home. Caulk provides a necessary sealant that removes gaps that can let in moisture, drafts, and pests (e.g., insects, mice). Moisture can cause the paint to crack, peel, or bubble. If water seeps into the house, it can lead to fungus.

Elastomeric caulk is the ideal material. It’s durable and adheres to most surfaces. Other good choices include polyurethane and standard siliconized caulking (not to be confused with silicon caulk). Look at the warranty rating of the caulk. It should last 25 years or longer.

Be sure to remove old caulking before you apply a new layer.

Where to caulk

If caulking is new to you, don’t worry. It’s very easy. Just load the tube into your caulking gun, and cut 1/4” off the tip at an angle. Cutting too much off the tip of the caulking tube could cause a mess!

Look for places where two different materials or sections come together, like the door or window frame and the wall, or brick and wood, around outside faucets and dryer vents The area should be dry before you caulk it.

Don’t overdo the application. A thin bead of caulk is sufficient. After you apply it, run your finger along the bead to create a smooth line. Use a damp cloth to wipe your finger each time you lift it in order to keep that smoothness. Also wipe up any excess caulking before it dries.

In areas where the caulk might show, avoid a white caulk. On brick for example, a clear caulk is a better choice. Around gray concrete floors or foundation, use a gray urethane or clear caulk. Bear in mind that elastomeric caulk goes on white but dries clear.

Be sure to caulk every section on a window or door where parts come together: the sill, the trim, and between the glass panes and wood frame.

Fill in gaps behind your fascia and soffits with caulk.

Don’t caulk areas that are designed to let moisture escape! This includes sections of the foundation.

The extra effort you invest now in re-caulking your home will prevent big problems later.

Smart home technology: 2016 and beyond

Categories: Blog | Posted: June 2, 2016

Sci-fi movies have been filled with cool gadgets that put just about anything at your fingertips, with the push of a button. From George Jetson to James Bond, fictional characters have had all the fun.

Now, it’s our turn.

Smart home technology is automating everything in the home, from opening the doors and turning on the lights to tracking your sleep patterns and watering your plants. Today’s smart home technology lets you keep an eye on your dog when you’re away from home, alert you when your dinner is done, and warn you of leaky pipes.

In 2017, the GSMA expects we will spend $44 billion dollars on connected home technology, more than four times the projected sales of $10 billion this year.

In the kitchen, appliances like the smart refrigerator seem to be capable of doing everything except preparing meals. The touchscreen lets you listen to music or watch your favorite cooking show. Using LG’s HomeChat app, you can find out what’s in your fridge, perfect for when you’re at the grocery store without a list—as well as check on your other smart appliances.

Even your bathtub has become smarter. The Kohler VibrAcoustic Bath, for example, pumps sound waves through the water for a gentle massage, or acts as your bathroom sound system with your own playlist, whether the tub is empty or fill. When you get out of the tub, use the Oral-B smart toothbrush to make sure you’re brushing properly. Check your weight, body mass index, and heart rate on the Withings Smart Body Analyzer—and get the local weather forecast while you’re on this smart scale.

Dim the lights, lock the door, start your coffeemaker, adjust the thermostat, manage your smoke detector, turn on your sprinkler system, open your garage door, and even light your way in the dark. It’s all possible with the connected home and smart technology.

If you don’t want to coordinate all these functions, bring Amazon Echo home. This voice-activated home automation controller can operate your smart home technology with just a command. Ask it to play your favorite music, turn down the lights, and give you the latest news and weather update.

Are you keeping up with your home’s intelligence? Your life could be a lot easier if you do.

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