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5 Ways to Prepare for a Home Inspection
Selling your home has many steps. If you’ve gotten to the point that you’ve accepted an offer and the buyer has scheduled a home inspection, you are in the home stretch. However, the home inspection can be a turning point if it doesn’t go well. It’s important to do everything you can to help the home inspection go easily and smoothly for the inspector and buyer. You won’t be present at the inspection, so check these items off your list in advance to prepare for a home inspection.
Provide Access to All Areas to Prepare for a Home Inspection
A home inspector will need to inspect all areas of your home, including crawlspaces, utility rooms, attics, outbuildings, garages, and basements. You won’t be there to unlock a door or move something heavy out of the way, so if an area is inaccessible, it won’t get inspected. This is a problem because the buyer will receive an incomplete inspection report and wonder if you may be hiding something about the inaccessible area. The buyer will likely have to schedule another time for the inspector to come out, slowing everything down. You want to progress towards the closing as quickly as possible, so make sure that all areas are accessible for the inspection.
It’s important that your pets aren’t running around the house during the inspection. Someone could accidentally let them out the door and they could run away. They also might get into an area they aren’t allowed in, like the basement. Take your pets out of the house during the inspection or put them in a secure crate.
Replace Light Bulbs to Prepare for a Home Inspection
It’s not customary for an inspector to carry around extra light bulbs to troubleshoot why a light won’t turn on. If there is an out light, it will be marked in the report and there won’t be a differentiation between a blown light bulb and a broken fixture or wiring problem. Avoid this situation by replacing any dead light bulbs before the inspection.
Clean Up Clutter
If there are any cluttered areas that will prevent the inspector from being able to inspect things like the water heater or under-cabinet piping, clean this up. The inspection report will be more thorough and the pictures will be easier to understand if there is not a lot of junk in the way. You don’t want your buyer to get frustrated by not being able to see past piles of clutter in the photos of the inspection report.
Any improvements that you have made to your home should be backed up with documentation. If you had a new roof put on 2 years ago or replaced the HVAC system recently, provide that information for the inspector. Proof that you invested in your home will help it look more favorable to your buyer.
Ways to Keep Seniors Safe at Home
Tips to Keep Seniors Safe Around the Home
If you have aging parents or elderly loved ones, you may be concerned about them living alone. A senior’s home should be comfortable and safe to help them maintain their independence. Falls are the most common accidents and cause of injuries in the older population. To help keep seniors safe in the home, reduce the risk of falls.
Safety in the Bathrooms
The bathroom can be especially hazardous for older family members. Install grab bars near the shower and toilet and make a plan to deal with slippery floors.
If you have the budget, install a walk-in tub that is easier for seniors to use. These tubs have a door on the side so you don’t have to step over the bathtub wall. Place a rubber mat on the shower floor to prevent slips and falls. Depending on the individual, a shower chair can make bathing easier and safer.
For an elderly family member, the bed itself should have a firm mattress for more support. Some seniors even use a hospital-style bed that can be adjusted up or down to help them get in and out of the bed. There are also grab bars designed to be installed bedside. You can find styles that reach from the floor to the ceiling and others that attach directly to the bed.
Dressers, closets, and nightstands should be easy for seniors to access. Many seniors have trouble gripping knobs or turning doorknobs. Install handles on doors instead of round knobs. Another option is to replace drawers with shelving that keeps everything within easy reach.
Keep Seniors Safe in the Kitchen
The kitchen is another area that will need attention in order to keep seniors safe. Use lower shelves and under-counter storage to keep things within reach. Make sure older family members don’t have to use a stool to access items in the kitchen.
Install rubber grips on faucet handles. These are usually red and blue to distinguish between hot and cold water. Choose appliances that automatically power themselves off to reduce the risk of fire hazards.
Also, consider placing a rubber mat on the floor under the sink. This will prevent slippery conditions in case water from the sink splashes onto the floor. Just make sure that the mat isn’t so thick that it becomes a tripping hazard.
Keep emergency information written down and next to the telephone. The list of phone numbers should include close family and friends, doctors, and the number to local emergency services.
Make sure your elderly family member has a landline in their home. An older person may forget to charge their cell phone or could misplace it altogether. A landline ensures access to friends and family and emergency assistance, if necessary.
Keep an up-to-date list of medications and a medical history available in case an accident happens. Medical professionals will need to understand current medications in order to safely treat your family member. You can also order personalized pendants and bracelets that include this information.
Common Sense to Keep Seniors Safe At Home
Because houses are different and people have different needs, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions to keeping the home safe. Factors like the age of the home and how it has been maintained will impact safety around the property. Grab bars, good lighting, and access to help in case of an emergency are important in any home with elderly family members.
5 Ways to Prepare Your House to Sell in the Spring
Prepare Your House to Sell in the Spring
Spring is a common time of year to list your home for sale. Many buyers wait until spring to begin touring homes because the weather is more pleasant and they would rather move without worrying about the possibility of ice and snow. In spring, plants and flowers start to grow and make your property look more appealing online and in-person. Here are 4 things to do to prepare your house to sell in the spring.
Order a Pre-Listing Inspection
If you’re planning to list your home for sale in spring, schedule a pre-listing home inspection a couple of months prior. A professional inspector will inspect your home with the same thoroughness as a home inspection for a buyer.
Order this service in advance so you have time to address any issues that might be a problem during the buyer’s inspection. Especially if you are counting on the income from your home sale to fund a new home purchase, it is important for your sale to close without a hitch.
Landscaping to Prepare Your House to Sell
Towards the end of winter, focus on landscaping to get your yard looking great for when you list your home. This is a perfect time to prune trees and shrubs so that when they start to grow leaves, they won’t touch your siding or hang over your roof. Pruning is best done between early fall and spring before any new growth is on the trees.
As soon as the ground warms up, plant some grass seed to fill in bare areas. Weed existing flower beds and give them a fresh cover of mulch so as soon as spring hits, you’ll be ready to plant flowers.
Deep Clean the Home
You may be still living in the home when you put it on the market, so you’ll need to deep clean it and keep it tidy. First, perform a deep clean of the whole house. This includes professional carpet cleaning, laundering drapes and curtains, and cleaning behind appliances. Take time each morning to dust, clean the floors, and spray down bathroom fixtures. You need to leave a good impression on each potential buyer.
Take Down Personal Decorations
Family portraits and personal decorations make it difficult for a homebuyer to picture their own family living in the house. You may have specific decor that reflects a personal hobby or favorite animal or style that won’t resonate with someone touring your home. Take down personalized items and stick with neutral landscape or abstract artwork.
Some repairs are simple to complete yourself. Minor cosmetic issues like missing outlet covers, peeling paint, and broken light fixtures are easy to fix and well worth doing. If you schedule a pre-listing inspection, you’ll be able to reference the report and make a list of things to fix.
Consider fixing major issues also, even if you have to hire a contractor. It may seem like a big investment to replace a failing roof, but it may be nearly impossible to sell your home with missing shingles and water leaking in the attic.
When to Hire a Pro for Home Improvement Projects
Home Improvement Projects that are Best Left to a Pro
When it comes to upgrades and renovations, homeowners often tackle DIY projects to save money. There are many things around the house you can do yourself, but there are a few things that are better left to the experts. For the best results, assess your skill level and know when to hire a pro for your home improvement projects.
By hiring a professional to improve your home, you can raise your home’s value and enhance its appeal. Renovations are a significant commitment of time and money, so it can be easier and faster to hire someone to do the job.
Leave Electrical Wiring to the Pros
Any projects dealing with electricity, such as rewiring or troubleshooting electrical issues, can be dangerous without the proper training and equipment. Never attempt to rewire your home or install things that need to be hardwired into your home’s electrical system. Call a licensed electrician who has the training and equipment to perform these jobs safely. A certified electrician’s work will be in compliance with the current building codes for your area.
Call a Plumber
Plumbing is another job that’s best left to the professionals. Well-meaning homeowners can damage pipes or fixtures when trying to fix a plumbing issue on their own. Call a plumber if you have a slow draining sink, leaky faucets, or if you are having issues with your garbage disposal. A professional plumber has the right tools to make quick work of a job that would take the average homeowner all day.
Hire a Pro for Tree Removal
Tree and branch removal is a dangerous job. If you have a tree that needs to be pruned or removed from your property, hire a professional to do the work. They have the proper equipment to get the job done safely and you won’t risk damaging your home by trimming tree limbs.
To Build On, Hire a Pro for Home Improvement
If your family needs more space but relocation is out of the question, building an addition to your home is a great solution. Constructing an extra bedroom, additional bathrooms, or expanding your garage or attic takes careful planning and consideration of your home’s structural foundation. Unless you are a licensed contractor, it’s best not to tackle this job on your own. A professional will also know building codes and have insurance coverage to guarantee a job well done.
Hire a Professional to Refinish Your Hardwood Floors
While it’s possible to refinish hardwoods yourself, unless you have years of experience refinishing floors, hire a professional to do this job for you. As with any home renovation, there are many factors to keep in mind. Sanding will remove the finish and cover your home in dust. If you aren’t skilled using a sander, you can damage the floors and end up spending a substantial amount of money in repairs.
Home Maintenance Services to Schedule for Your Property
When you own a home, you’re responsible for keeping the property in good shape. You may complete some upgrades and improvements yourself, however, many homeowners prefer to hire professionals for tasks around the house. Here are a few home maintenance services you should schedule for your property.
Chimney Cleaning is One of the Home Maintenance Services Best Performed by a Professional
When a fire burns in a fireplace, soot, smoke, and water vapor travel up the chimney. These by-products sometimes condense on the cooler walls of the upper chimney and form creosote, a flammable substance. Over time, creosote accumulates and can lead to a chimney fire. Pine needles, leaves, and even animal nests also become lodged in the chimney and pose a fire hazard.
Hire a professional chimney sweep to clean the flue at least once every year. Fall is the perfect time to have this service performed to prepare your fireplace for use during cooler weather.
HVAC Duct Cleaning
Your HVAC system circulates heated and cooled air throughout your home. It can also circulate indoor air pollutants like dust, mold, pollen, and pet dander. Especially if you or a family member suffers from allergies or asthma, have your air ducts cleaned every few years.
A professional will remove vent covers and clear materials from the ducts with specialized equipment. This service will help improve indoor air quality and your service provider may also find damaged areas of the air ducts that need to be repaired or replaced.
Inspect Propane-Powered Appliances
Propane is one of the most common types of fuels used in the home. Your household may have a propane-powered water heater, clothes dryer, and/or a gas log fireplace. If your household uses appliances that are powered by propane, it is recommended that you have the propane tank, hoses, and connections inspected at least yearly.
Home Maintenance Services: Tree Care
Trees that overhang your roof or your driveway pose a risk to the property and residents. Pruning overgrown trees and removing those that are dying or dead will help to protect your home and cars from damage.
However, pruning can be a difficult and dangerous job. Hire a professional to take care of tree maintenance. An arborist has the training, safety equipment, and necessary tools to safely remove overgrown branches, or remove a tree entirely if needed.
How to Decide Whether to Remodel or Move
There comes a time when changes to your living space are necessary. You may need more space for your growing family or feel that your home is too old and outdated. It can be tough to decide whether to remodel your current home or move to a new one. Consider factors like costs, disruptions, and the local real estate market when deciding whether to remodel or move.
Remodel or Move: How Can You Best Achieve Your Goals?
Make a list of your goals for changing your living space. Do you need more square footage? Are there chronic problems in your home that you want to address? Does your home need expensive repairs? Do you want a change of scenery? You may also be looking to downsize.
By brainstorming and writing down your goals, you may easily come to a conclusion on whether you should renovate or buy a new house.
Costs to Remodel or Move
Whether moving or renovating is more cost-effective depends on your specific situation. But if this is a driving factor in your decision, calculate the expenses involved for both. Get multiple estimates from different contractors for your renovation project. Include extra costs like storage for your belongings, eating out more, and possibly having to stay in a hotel while the work is being done.
Buying a new house and moving also racks up expenses, but if you are able to sell your current home quickly and for a good profit, moving might be the more affordable choice.
Disruptions to Daily Life
Both options will disrupt your life, but you can probably expect remodeling to cause more inconveniences for longer. It depends on what you are willing to put up with and for how long.
While buying a new house and moving is stressful, once you have settled in you can get back to your routine. Remodeling may mean months on end of workers in your house, which can be noisy and messy.
Your Real Estate Market
All markets have ups and downs, and real estate markets vary from place to place. Research your market and look at the prices of comparable homes in your area. If prices have risen so high that it will be difficult to afford a new home, it may make more sense to remodel the one you have.
However, if your real estate market is hot, it is possible that you could sell your house for a lot more than you paid for it. You definitely don’t want your house sitting on the market after you have bought a new one because you’ll have to make two mortgage payments.
There is no clear answer to the question of renovating or moving homes since it depends on various factors. A good first step is to determine what you are trying to solve by changing your living spaces, and then decide what makes the most sense.
5 Tips for Curb Appeal
Curb appeal is important whether you are planning to sell your house or not. As a homeowner, you take pride in your home and want a nice, welcoming place for family and friends. Here are 5 tips for boosting curb appeal that will improve your property.
Pressure Wash to Improve Curb Appeal
If you don’t own a pressure washer, rent one for a weekend. Your property’s appearance will be greatly improved by pressure washing the siding, porch, walkways, driveway, and sidewalks. Dirt, leaves, and other debris will stain these surfaces over time, but all it takes is a quick pressure washing to clean them off.
Add Lights Outside
Curb appeal doesn’t only matter during the day. Exterior lights on your property make your home look inviting when it’s dark outside.
Install lights to illuminate the walkway and porch steps. Replace the porch light if yours is old and outdated. Use spotlights around your yard to shine into bushes and trees. These lights add dimension to your yard and also deter burglars.
A Little Paint Makes a Difference
You don’t need to repaint your home’s entire exterior to improve curb appeal. Repainting the trim may be all you need to do to freshen up your home. Another area to focus on is the front door. Painting the door a new bright, bold color takes your curb appeal to the next level.
Curb Appeal for the Mailbox
The mailbox is the feature closest to the curb. People walk by it every day and it may be the first thing they see. An old and rusted mailbox sets a poor impression of the rest of your property.
Paint or replace the mailbox and tidy up the area around it. Plant a flower bed around your mailbox and keep it clean and free from grime by wiping it down often.
Pruning Bushes and Shrubs
When the bushes and shrubs on your property are overgrown, it looks messy and unkempt. Prune long branches, vines, and scraggly leaves. You don’t want branches hanging over your house or vines growing up the sides because they can damage your home.
Put these curb appeal tips to work to improve your home’s outdoor appearance.
6 Ways to Have a Safe Fire Pit
Gathering around a fire is nice and cozy, but can also be dangerous. Backyard fires can get out of control and cause a disaster. Important factors to think about are location, fuel, and safety equipment. In order to have a safe fire pit, consider these 6 important tips.
Types of Wood for a Safe Fire Pit
Some woods are better to burn in a fire pit than others. Never use treated lumber because it releases toxic fumes when burned.
One of the keys to having a safe fire pit is burning seasoned hardwoods like hickory and oak. Hardwoods don’t pop as frequently as softwoods, like pine, so there are fewer stray embers that could land on you, your yard, or your house.
Never Leave Your Fire While it’s Still Burning
This tip may be obvious, but never leave your fire pit unattended. You’d be surprised at how many people walk away from the fire without thinking about it. Once you’re inside the house, you may even completely forget that you have a fire burning.
Unattended fires are especially dangerous if your area has been dry. All it takes for a fire to spread is for a few embers to fly out of the fire pit and land on a pile of dry leaves.
Place the Fire Pit in a Safe Place
Whether you’re planning on owning a portable or permanent fire pit, a safe location is essential. An important tip is to place the fire pit 10 to 20 feet from any structure or tree.
You should also never place your fire pit underneath low hanging branches that could potentially be ignited by the flames. One of the best ways to contain the fire is to build it with non-flammable materials like rocks or bricks.
Be Prepared with an Extinguisher
Even if you have a safe fire pit, keep an extinguisher close by. If you don’t have access to an extinguisher, a bucket of sand will come in handy if the fire gets out of control.
When the fire pit is completely cool, safely dispose of the ashes into a metal can. A metal container is safe for the ashes in case any are still warm.
Wear Safe Clothes
Clothes made of rayon and cotton are highly flammable and can be dangerous to wear around a fire pit. Baggy clothing like nightgowns and sweatshirts can also pose a threat to you. If your kids are around, make sure their shoes are tied so they won’t trip and stumble.
Seating Arrangements for a Safe Fire Pit
Make sure everyone sits a safe distance from the fire. Sitting too close to it can lead to burns. One way to keep people at a safe distance is to install permanent seating around your fire pit that can’t be moved closer.
5 Simple Ways to Reduce Cooling Costs This Summer
Each summer seems to get hotter. That means that we are spending more money to cool our homes every year. The good news is that you have control over your energy consumption. With a few simple tips, you can reduce cooling costs this summer and stay comfortable.
Maintain the Air Conditioner
Air conditioning makes up the bulk of your summer energy costs. If you are running an older, inefficient air conditioner, you are throwing money away. Maintain your AC to make sure it is operating effectively all season. Have your system serviced in the spring so it will be ready to use when the weather gets hot. Change your air filters monthly to improve air quality and help the unit run more efficiently. Upgrading to a new AC unit altogether will pay for itself in energy savings.
Use Fans to Reduce Cooling Costs
Using ceiling fans and other fans throughout your home will circulate the air, creating a wind-chill effect. This means that you won’t have to set your thermostat as low and can save money. Use fans in the busiest areas of your home and you and your family members will feel more comfortable.
Close the Curtains
As the sun pours in through the windows, it heats everything in the room. Even if you have newer energy-efficient windows, you can still benefit from using curtains to block the sun’s rays. Close the curtains on the east side of your home in the morning and on the west side in the evening to block direct sunlight, keeping the interior of your home shaded and cooler.
Reduce Cooling Costs With a Smart Thermostat
Smart thermostats are a great way to reduce cooling costs this summer. Programmable thermostats allow you to control the temperature of your home throughout the day, so you can use more efficient settings when you’re not home. A smart thermostat allows you to control your air conditioner remotely. If you are gone from the house all day, you can raise the temperature when you leave and lower it before you return home using a smartphone app.
Use a Dehumidifier
If you live in an area with high humidity, a dehumidifier will help reduce cooling costs. Humidity makes your house feel warmer than it is. If you reduce humidity levels in your home, you can increase the temperature of your thermostat and feel just as comfortable. A hygrometer measures moisture in the air. If your humidity levels are above 50%, you will benefit from using a dehumidifier in your home.
Reduce Cooling Costs this Summer
These simple tips can save you hundreds of dollars this year. You will be glad you made the effort when your utility bill is lower and you feel comfortable all summer long.
5 Questions to Ask Your Inspection Professional
There are many reasons to order a home inspection before closing on the sale of a house. The most obvious reason is to find out about any hidden problems that will need to be fixed once you assume homeownership. Another benefit is that you can ask your home inspector questions about how to take care of the house and keep it safe. Here are 5 questions to ask your inspection professional.
Ask Your Inspection Professional About Necessary Maintenance
Different homes have different maintenance requirements. After completing the home inspection, your inspector will have a good idea of what it will take to maintain the house. Ask your home inspector what maintenance tasks and services he or she recommends and how often they should be completed.
Components like the gutters and the HVAC system will need regular attention, along with other areas and systems. Your inspector will give his or her best advice specific to your house, based on the details in the inspection report.
Where is the Electrical Panel and the Water Shut-Off Valve?
Ask your home inspector where certain key areas are in the home, like the water shut-off valve and the electrical panel. It is important for every homeowner to know where these are located.
You may need to turn off the water main or shut off the power under certain circumstances. For instance, you may want to turn off the water if you are going on an extended vacation, or shut off the power if you experience a flood.
Are There Any Improvements I Should Make for Energy-Efficiency?
Unless the home is already LEED-Certified, there are likely improvements that can be done to make it more energy-efficient. After performing a thorough home inspection on the house, your home inspector will be able to pinpoint areas that can be improved for energy efficiency.
The deficiencies making the house less energy-efficient might include gaps found around doors or a 15-year-old HVAC system. If you become the owner, it’s in your best interest to address these issues. You’ll not only be more comfortable, but you’ll also save money on your utility bills.
Ask Your Inspection Professional if a Certain Problem is Common
Your home inspector will detail all of the problems found in the home in your inspection report. He or she will go over them with you and explain the severity. To help with understanding the issue, ask the inspector if it is a common problem. If it is unusual, it might be more difficult to figure out the cause.
Do I Need to Have the Home Tested For Hazards?
Some homes have a higher risk of hazards like asbestos, lead-paint, radon, and mold. Ask your inspector what kind of testing he or she recommends for the house to make sure it is a healthy environment. The inspector may offer some types of testing or can refer you to a specialist.