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 homeowners 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 aren’t prone 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 is 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 a serious issue.

Exterior Cracks

The walls are also a way to examine 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 uneven 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.

Choosing the right home is not a difficult process and making the right assessments of the property can save thousands of dollars in future repairs. To help with assessments, foundation repairs, and to get the right information about how to deal with a cracked foundation in a potential property, then contacting a trusted and professional real estate agent is the best solution when purchasing a property.

Getting Ready to Retire? Six Tips for Downsizing from Huge House to Efficient Condo

Getting Ready to Retire? Six Tips for Downsizing from Huge House to Efficient CondoIf you’re getting ready to retire, you may be thinking about downsizing. Having a large house makes sense when you’re raising kids, but once you reach your golden years, it usually makes sense to move into a smaller, more efficient condo. While downsizing may seem impossible, these six tips will help you reach your goal.

1. The Six-Month Rule

If you’re finding it hard to figure out what to keep and what to get rid of, stick to the six-month rule – if you haven’t used an item within half of a year, you probably don’t need it. Seasonal items aren’t used as much, but if you haven’t used them within a year or two, it’s safe to get rid of them.

2. Measure Twice

Measure your furniture, your current room sizes and your future room sizes. After you’ve done that, do it again. Nothing’s worse than wrestling with your heavy sofa for hours on end to find out that it won’t fit in your new living room after all.

3. Pre-Arrange Big Items

Once you know where your new home is going to be, get the floor plan or draw one up yourself. Use measurements from your furniture and other big items to figure out where you’re going to put things. If it looks crowded on paper, it will probably look even more crowded in person, so make sure your plans look okay before you decide to hire a mover or move everything yourself.

4. Get With The Times

With all the new technology coming out, it’s easy to transfer almost all of your physical media to electronic form. While you might want to keep your all-time favorite books and movies in physical form, you can put most of your reading material on an e-book reader and most of your movies on a computer or external hard drive.

5. Multiples Multiply Headaches

Yes, you need to have a soup ladle, but you don’t need five of them. If you have more than one of the same item, consider getting rid of the multiples. You’ll probably find that your kitchen is the biggest culprit as far as multiples go, but you may also find that you have three tops that are very similar in color and style or four laundry baskets even though you only do one load at a time.

6. Use Your Resources

If you’re moving to a neighborhood with a great library, plan to use it instead of bringing all of your books and movies with you. If you’re going to have a gym virtually next-door and can afford a membership, it may be time to give away your home gym equipment.

Don’t forget that your real estate agent can be an invaluable resource when downsizing, so be sure to get in touch with them before you make the jump. In summary: moving is hard enough, but downsizing is even harder. By following these tips, though, you should be able to pare down your belongings so that you will be able to live comfortably in your new home during the best years of your life.

Summer’s Coming: Why Adding a Pool to Your Home Can Drastically Increase Its Value (And Its Fun!)

Summer's Coming: Why Adding a Pool to Your Home Can Drastically Increase Its Value (And Its Fun!)Value is defined as the importance, worth or usefulness of something; to estimate the monetary worth of something. When the subject is a home, and what adds value to it, then breaking it down into its most common denominator is necessary.

A family looking for a home decides that it has enough space, that there is room to expand perhaps, and that the home would be handy for entertaining guests. Adding a pool to the mix greatly improves the form and functionality of a home. Below, we’ll explain why there are few home renovations or additions that add more value than a swimming pool.

Pay Attention To The Area

Both HGTV and Better Homes and Gardens agree that homeowners make an error in adding a pool when the area or region is not supportive of pools. Homeowners living in hot humid climates and with pools all around them will benefit from the addition of a pool – but would you install a swimming pool in Alaska? In warmer climates not only will a pool be cool and fun on a hot summer day, but it will be worth something to the next buyer.

Those living in areas not so warm and muggy would only benefit from the addition of a pool if the neighbors had one – a phenomenon known as the ‘social proof’ effect. Regardless, the National Association of Realtors, or NAR, reports that pools add 7.7 percent to the average property value. The figure jumps to 11 percent for hot humid areas, so if you’re in a humid area, installing a pool might be a worthwhile expenditure.

Outdoor Renovations Are A Hot Trend

The outdoors has made a comeback whose scope is unbelievable. The popularity of outdoor rooms, cascading decks, patios with pergolas and landscaped walks bears this out. Homeowners are adding trendy outdoor rooms in addition to lush landscape, hardscape and water innovations for many reasons:

- Enjoying nature reduces stress

- Families are spending more time together

- Networking is more fun over a burger than over a phone

- Many outdoor rooms are sustainable

Few will argue that these points are important. A high-quality pool can serve as the focal point for a yard or greenscape. Many homeowners build pools to highlight the architecture, for example, with stones and waterfalls to complement the landscape. The object is to make the whole package useful and worthy to the next buyer.

In Short: A Pool Will Lead To An Increase In Value

Factors vary in calculating the pool’s effect on property values. The size, a diving pool vs. a play pool, the configuration, (i.e. square, oval, kidney-shaped, etc.) and the extent of the landscaping and decking are such factors. Appraisers reflect that a pool will add between 10 and 30 percent to the home’s resale value.

Folks love a pool for swimming any time they wish, in the privacy of their home. For some, that alone is the only impetus they need to add a pool. Other buyers appreciate a pool because of the enjoyment it brings their children. Thus, value and applicability are much the same.

A qualified real estate agent can help you determine how much value a new pool will add to your home. Contact your agent before making this investment to ensure it will prove worthy.

Wrought Iron, A Simple, Strong, And Beautiful Addition To Any Modern Home

Wrought Iron: A Simple, Strong, and Beautiful Addition to Any Modern HomeWrought iron is a classic accent that has been used to beautify homes for centuries. Its strong and simple elegance is a wonderful addition to any modern home and can be incorporated into home design in many different ways.

A Masculine Addition To Any Design

Wrought iron is considered to be masculine from a design standpoint. It is a great way to add depth and balance to a home.

It works well with both light and dark palettes, and can be incorporated into most modern home designs.

Because it is fabricated by welding, wrought iron has a strength beyond that of most construction materials. It also adds a dramatic finish to exposed beams and ceilings.

Wrought Iron Railings Are Strong And Supportive

These railings are durable and can be fabricated in many beautiful designs. They have been a popular choice in home design not only for aesthetic reasons, but also because of their strength.

Railings of all kinds can be done in wrought iron. Staircases, landings, and decks are just some of the places we are seeing more wrought iron in modern homes. Entry gates in wrought iron make a rich and dramatic statement. They are impressive, add great appeal, and are quality security features.

Showcase Natural Woods And Make Them Stand Out

There is something so striking about the combination of wood and iron. Accenting a wooden gate with large wrought iron hinges and handles gives the gate new depth and beauty.

Staircases are also an excellent place where wrought iron and wood can be combined to create eye-grabbing features in modern architecture.

Wrought iron décor items make the richness of wood stand out beautifully. A couple of small sculptural pieces on a wooden mantle or floor will bring attention to the natural beauty of the grain.

Furniture For Both Outside And Inside Of The Home

Wrought iron furniture finds a fitting home in modern architecture. It has always been a popular choice for exterior design, but is being incorporated more into interior design as well.

Wrought iron patio furniture and trellises are used as focal points in outdoor landscaping, and the same can be done inside. Wrought iron in a modern kitchen or any room is quite striking. Tables, chairs, and beds can all be found in unique wrought iron designs.

Find Functionality With Wrought Iron Fixtures

Wrought iron lighting fixtures are dramatic and beautiful. From sconces to chandeliers, lighting fixtures are a functional way to bring wrought iron into a home.

Some designers like to showcase the entry of a home with an impressive chandelier. The theme is easily carried through a home by using these lighting fixtures in the dining room, hallways, and kitchen. Impressive outdoor fixtures and light posts can light the way for visitors to your doorstep.

Wrought iron is a simple, strong, and beautiful addition to a modern home. It is a great way to add appeal and value to your house and property.

Did You Know? How Paint Color Choices Can Drastically Affect The ‘Mood’ Of Your Home

Did You Know? How Paint Color Choices Can Drastically Affect the 'Mood' of Your HomeWhether you’re sprucing up your house to sell or simply looking for a color to bring out the beauty of your home, it’s imperative that you do your homework.

Before you head off to your local DIY store with a paint sample in one hand and a wallet in the other, you need to ensure that you’re picking the colors that are right for your home and your personality.

It is true that you can never go wrong with a neutral, but you can also go so much more right with the correct color in the appropriate space, whether it’s a neutral or not.

Give The Buyers The Blues

Blue is a great calming color and has even been known to lower blood pressure. When a person walks into a blue room they feel tranquil and at peace.

Blue is also the color of trustworthiness and dependability, so if you are selling your home, or if you just want to make your guests feel welcome, put a blue paint color on the walls of your front hall or foyer.

Eat Your Heart Out Red

Red is a high-energy color and it has been proven to stimulate the appetite. This makes it a perfect color for a kitchen. An accent wall splashed with a deep, rich red can bring interest and vibrancy to an ordinary kitchen. Be sure not to overdo the red though; one wall or a back splash is enough to get the point across without becoming garish.

Approach Yellow With Caution

Yellow is one of the most difficult colors to pull off correctly in a home. The light plays tricks with it, and what you thought was a sunny yellow in the store might become a sallow jaundice on a cloudy day.

If you must paint with yellow keep it very pale and keep it in a less used room. It can be a soothing color but it’s best to leave it out of the main rooms.

Give Green A Go

Green is said to be the most restful color on the eyes. Certainly, when we think of green, we think of the outdoors. Experts say the color green taps into our need for balance and makes us feel safe and at home.

With all that going for it, the color green is an ideal choice for any room in your house; especially a master bedroom where the restfulness of the color invites you to climb into bed and have lovely dreams.

Visions Of Violet

Purple or violet is often a favorite color of children. As we grow older, we tend to forget about this under-used color. The truth is, however, it can be an absolutely stunning color in a family room or living room.

Although we associate purple with children, a deep royal purple can give your room a regal look, which is perfect if you have high or vaulted ceilings. If you want to give your home a feeling of luxury with a bit of decadence, then violet or purple is the color for you.

No matter what colors you choose in your home, if you’re looking to resell it’s a good idea to consult an expert to ensure that your colors are compatible with one another. There’s nothing worse than a house that has a chopped-up effect due to its rooms being painted a myriad of different colors.

If you need a hand choosing paint shades for your home, be sure to contact your real estate professional today.

Maximize Your Backyard’s Privacy With These Unique Ideas

Maximize Your Backyard’s Privacy with These Unique IdeasIf you’re a homeowner, your backyard is probably a space where you look forward to spending private, quality time watching your children play or entertaining dinner guests.

The privacy you and your family treasure could suddenly be put at risk if your neighbors finish renovations allowing them to see into your backyard, or if a tree that once hid your backyard from view needs to be removed. If you’re looking to reclaim the privacy you’ve lost in your yard, here are some options you will want to consider.

Your Property Line Is A Natural Barrier That You Can Use To Reclaim Your Family’s Privacy

The first option you might consider if you’re looking to reclaim your yard’s privacy is probably building a fence – but depending on your budget, your relationship with your neighbors, and the look you want in your yard, a fence might not be the best option.

Consider planting a fast-growing hedge or other greenery along your property line instead. Italian cypress, for instance, will look great, grow very quickly, and will eventually give you all the privacy you need. 

Break Up Your Nosey Neighbors’ Line Of Sight By Installing Raised Beds Or Berms

If you already have a green thumb and love nothing more than working on your backyard garden, you can have your cake and eat it too by replanting your current backyard plants in raised beds or berms.

Raised beds will add up to two or three feet of height to your plants without taking away the area or square footage in the rest of your backyard, making it an ideal option for homeowners will smaller backyard spaces. Installing raised beds or berms could also be a great solution for your garden if you have trouble planting due to the presence of clay or simply poor soil.

Lumber Isn’t Your Only Fencing Option

Though fencing seems like an obvious and possibly boring option to liven up your backyard and improve the aesthetic of your space at the same time, there are ways you can get creative with fencing that you might not have considered. Putting in latticework can alleviate the claustrophobic feeling that might come with enclosing your space fully with a solid fence, giving you some visibility through the lattice.

You can spice up the look of your enclosure by weaving plants through your lattice, or if you have the patience, get some ivy growing through your enclosure.

Maximizing the privacy of your outdoor space is easy if you’re creative and you enjoy working outdoors. If you love nothing more than pruning and shearing, then try to reclaim your space through planting rather than installing a fence or another permanent structure that you can’t change and therefore might regret later.

If you’re worried about how your backyard transformation could affect the value of your home, or if you’re looking for more privacy options, contact a real estate professional that you trust for the backyard design help you need.  

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 trusted real estate professional.

Where To Squeeze A Home Office In Your Home

Where To Squeeze In A Home Office In Your HomeIf you have started working from home, whether you are a freelancer or running a business, having a home office in your home is very important.

It is a place where you can separate your home life and work, so that you can get “in the zone” and concentrate on the important work tasks that you need to complete. But where should you place your home office?

If you have a spare bedroom in your home, the answer is easy – but what if you don’t have this extra space? Is it possible to squeeze a home office into an already full home? Of course it is, you just have to think outside of the box. Here are some ideas:

Convert Your Attic

If you have an attic in your home, why not use that space for a quiet and private home office? It will be separate from your home and free from any distractions. If your attic is unfinished, converting it into living space can be a good investment that will improve the value of your home.

Work At Your Breakfast Nook

Perhaps your kitchen has a breakfast nook, but your family always ends up eating at the dining table and doesn’t really use it much? If this is the case, you could create a small and compact office space where you can work – while being close to the coffee maker in the kitchen!

Find An Unused Corner

Perhaps there is a corner of your bedroom or living room that you aren’t really using for much? Why not turn it into a home office? All you need is a small desk and a chair to create a workspace. If you want to separate it from the rest of the room, you can use stylish room dividers.

Go Underground

Have you ever thought of using your basement for your home office? There is probably a corner down there that you could use for office space. To combat the lack of natural light, you can use a SAD lamp that offers the same wavelengths as sunlight.

These are just a few ideas of where you could place your home office, even if all of the rooms in your home are in use. As long as you can find a quiet corner somewhere, you can create your ultimate working space.

For more tips and information, contact your trusted real estate professional today.

How To Maintain Your Gutters

How To Maintain Your GuttersAn entire gutter system around the home might seem expensive to many homeowners.

However, not having one could mean water pooling around your home creating a moat and costing you thousands of dollars in damage to your foundation.

So it’s a good idea to install gutters and take care of them.

Below are tips for gutter maintenance to help keep water away from your home.

Unclog The Gutters

Annual gutter maintenance includes cleaning them of debris, such as leaves, sticks or animal nests. Remove downspout cages and clean them.

Determine if they’re still in good shape or need to be replaced.

If a downspout is clogged, try to use a plumbing snake to dislodge the debris. Then use a hose to force water down the spout and hopefully remove the rest of the clog.

Check The Pitch

Gutters should be set on an incline of 1/4 inch for every 10 feet. For example, if your gutter is 20 feet long, then it should have a drop of 1/2 inch. If your gutter doesn’t have enough of an incline, then you might have water overflow because it can’t drain quick enough.

Most gutters also come to a point in the middle so the water runs both ways to downspouts on each end. 

Seal Leaky Gutters

Right after a rainstorm, inspect your gutters for leaks. Look for water-saturated areas along your home underneath the gutter.

Constant leaks can cause water damage to vinyl, brick or stone siding. Use a sealant to repair small leaks or purchase a gutter maintenance patch kit for larger holes.

Replace Damaged Areas

If part of your gutter falls off or is damaged beyond repair, then you’ll need to replace it. You’ll need two ladders, a helper, new gutter cut to fit, joint connectors and sealant.

Remove old joint connectors and clean the area. Fit the new joint connectors with sealant and then install the new piece of gutter.

Install A New Downspout

You’ll need roughly the same tools for replacing the gutter, except you’ll also require downspout sections and self-tapping gutter screws.

Make sure the drop outlet at the end of the gutter fits securely into the downspout to prevent leaking.

Then fasten the joint with gutter screws and add sections as needed.

Finish with an elbowed section that extends five feet into the yard.

How To Make Your Old Furniture Look Like New

How To Make Your Old Furniture Look Like New Out with the old, in with the new. The beginning of 2014 can have you wanting to reinvent yourself — and your home. It’s time to start fresh.

Paint the walls, change the curtains and get new furniture. It’s important to have your home be a reflection of you; however, all that remodeling can get expensive.

Take a cue from Auld Lang Syne by buying a few new pieces, but keeping some of your older furniture.

If they have sturdy bones, then you can update their look by reupholstering them to fit your new home vibe. Below are DIY steps to help you modernize your furniture and save money in the process! 

Take Photographs

It’s important to take photographs of your piece of furniture before and throughout the reupholstering process. You’ll want a visual reference in case you have one too many pieces or can’t seem to figure out what order the cushions were attached. 

Plus, you’ll have a before and after picture as proof of your handiness and to inspire more DIY projects.

Disassemble The Upholstered Sections

Carefully take apart your piece of furniture. You only need to disassemble the upholstered sections, so don’t strip down an entire dining chair when only the cushion needs to be redone. If there are a lot of pieces then you might want to do some labeling with Post-It notes or painters’ tape.

Sew And Staple

Remove the old fabric and examine how it’s put together. You might have to sew corner seams for cushions. You’ll probably need to rent or borrow a sewing machine, if you don’t have one.

Or, for many pieces, you’ll just need a heavy-duty staple gun to pull the fabric tautly against the back frame and staple it in place. Try to recreate the way the initial fabric was secured.

Reassemble

Using your photographs and possibly your Post-It note organizational system, reassemble your pieces of furniture. In just a few hours, you can have updated radiant orchid chairs that match your bedspread or a sand-colored sofa for your beach-themed room.

Save your money to splurge on something you can’t create! With a little time and ingenuity, you can make your old furniture feel fresh and new by reupholstering it in an updated fabric.