Greenify Your Home with Our Guide to Conducting a DIY Energy Audit

Greenify Your Home with Our Guide to Conducting a DIY Energy AuditThe idea of conducting an energy audit on your home might seem like something complicated that should be left to the experts, but there are ways for you to make your home a little greener without consulting anybody. Instead of having someone else do the work, here are a few simple ways for you to inspect your home and green up its energy use.

Do A Candle Test Of Exterior Walls

Since cold air coming in from outside your home can impact your energy use significantly, do the simple test of taking a candle on a tour of your home to determine if there are any drafts. Ensure that you check all of the windows, doors and exterior areas where outside air can gain access; if your candle blows out or wavers, this is a surefire sign that a fix-up is needed. If you’ve located an area where air is getting in, you may need to caulk it or add insulation to remedy the problem.

Carefully Inspect The Attic

Since we rarely venture up to the attic, it can be one of the last places that we would look for a draft, but it can be one of the most vulnerable areas when it comes to insulation. Before heading up, put on a mask and some work gloves to protect yourself from the dusty surfaces, and lift up the insulation to inspect for any spaces where air could be accessing your home. If you’ve noticed gaps or places that lack coverage, fill them with additional insulation and seal it with expanding insulation for added coverage.

Don’t Take Ducts For Granted

Since ducts are made of thin metal and can easily lose heat if they are damaged or unclean, it’s important to inspect them for holes and make sure they are joined sufficiently so air is not escaping. If you’ve found an issue, you will want to replace or insulate them more effectively so that energy loss can be prevented and does not impact energy use throughout your entire home.

There are plenty of ways that your home can lose energy – from the ducts through to the exterior walls – but there are simple things you can do to test its efficiency and improve your energy use. If you happen to be doing some minor renovations so you can put your home on the market soon, you may want to contact your trusted real estate agent for more information.

Dealing with an Empty Nest? 5 Great Reasons to Downsize into a New Condo

Dealing with an Empty Nest? 5 Great Reasons to Downsize into a New CondoThere’s a good chance if your children have recently moved out that your home is feeling a lot larger than it used to, and perhaps you’re re-considering the extra space. If downsizing to a condo is on your mind and you’re weighing the benefits of this kind of move, here are some that might make it worth the switch in size.

A Little Extra Money

With the additional money you should be making off the sale of your home, there’s a good chance that downsizing may provide you with extra assets to sock away for retirement, travel or whatever your heart fancies. If you don’t need the money, it might not matter, but in the retirement years a little extra can be of benefit for many.

Minimize Your Costs

Usually, there are many utility and heating costs that go along with home ownership, but by moving into a condo you can alleviate many monthly payments instantly. Instead of paying for every utility, condo living can help to simplify and minimize the amount you owe each month.

Free Up Your Retirement

Often times it may seem like home ownership is the dream, but many people approaching retirement would rather have the flexibility of renting. Because there are limited responsibilities with a rental, it means you can spend the winter months in Mexico without having to worry about who will take care of your home.

A Condominium Community

The great thing about many condo buildings is that they are built close to amenities like grocery stores, drycleaners and restaurants, so you don’t have to worry about venturing far out. It might not seem important if you’re used to driving to the store to make your purchases, but being able to walk might make you a convert to a different way of life.

Forget About The Maintenance

If you’ve gotten used to all of the maintenance that goes into a home, downsizing can be a great relief in terms of the time you’ll be saving. Instead of a lawn to cut or a multi-level home you’re responsible for, you’ll be able to rely on the building manager to do this for you.

It can be comforting to have a home you’ve bought and paid for that belongs to you, but by downsizing you may be able to save on time and significantly lower your living costs. If you’re considering purchasing a condo and would like to learn more about your options, you may want to contact one of our local real estate agents for more information.

Running out of Kitchen Space? 5 Storage Hacks That Will Help You Do More with Less

Running out of Kitchen Space? 5 Storage Hacks That Will Help You Do More with LessWith all of the things that you need to fit into the kitchen, being economical with how you use your space can be a very important part of making it work. If you’re looking for some new ideas for how to use your space to maximum capacity, here are some hacks that might just make a marked difference!

Make Use of Magnets

Using magnets to hold up some kitchen essentials will not only be effective and functional, it will make for a quirky, modern space with personality. Whether you decide on a magnetized knife block for the side of the fridge or purchase some magnetized spices for easy access, this is a simple trick for storage that goes beyond the fridge.

Cue The Cutting Board Cover

One of the biggest problems with a small kitchen is the minimal counter space, but this is an easy problem to solve with a cutting board made to fit over your sink. Instead of having to move around items to make room on your counter, you’ll always have a convenient place to do your chopping that will be handy when you need it.

Maximize Your Ceiling Space

Pots and pans can take up a lot of cabinet space, but the purchase of an overhead rack can easily free up some of your shelves for a different use. By hanging pots, pans and even kitchen utensils from a rack, you’ll have a neat modern look that will add a twist on the traditional kitchen.

Arrange Your Drawers With Inserts

Everyone is familiar with the kinds of kitchen drawers that are in shambles, full of bottomless utensils that are hard to find when they’re needed. By purchasing a drawer insert, you will be able to organize your utensils according to type and utilize all of the drawer space that’s available.

Reconsider The Wine Rack

It’s generally the case that a wine rack is filled with wine bottles, but to add a funky and useful twist to your old rack, consider keeping all kinds of bottles in it. By adding in water bottles, soda, and even certain perishables, you can save room on your shelves and create a statement piece!

It can often seem impossible to make room for everything in a small kitchen, but there are lots of hacks that will free up more space for the items that are required. If you’re currently perusing kitchens on the real estate market, you may want to contact your local real estate professional for more information.

DIY Home Decorating: How to Use Spray Paint to Spice Up Your Home and Furniture

DIY Home Decorating: How to Use Spray Paint to Spice Up Your Home and FurnitureThe idea of using spray paint to make some quick fix-ups to your home might seem uncouth, but it can be a great way to make some easy, economical upgrades that will shift the overall look of your living space. Instead of assuming that spray paint is just for graffiti, here are some simple ways to use a can of quick paint to change up your home’s style.

Dress Up Your Doorknobs

An outdated doorknob can instantly age the look of your home, but what you might not know is that a simple douse of spray paint can instantly change the look of your knobs and provide a facelift. Instead of going down to the hardware store and paying hundreds of dollars to switch out each and every knob in your home, you can grab a can of paint in an appropriate shade and spray away for a result that will be long-lasting, modern and easy to complete.

Fix Up The Fixtures

Instead of just contending with the light fixtures in your home, you may want to consider replacing them altogether for a look that is up-to-date and unique. However, instead of going to the lighting store for an expensive, ornate piece, hit the thrift store or a discount home store. You should be able to find a fixture that will benefit from a quick spray of paint, and will spruce up your home nicely without all the cost of a trendy new piece.

Make An Old Piece Of Furniture Shine

There are probably certain items in your house that you’ve gotten sick of looking at, but whether it happens to be a basic brown coffee table or an old, oversized chest of drawers, spray paint can make for an effective change that will entirely switch up your room. While this will help you save money since you won’t have to invest in a new piece, it can also provide years and years of future use for an item that was only on its way to the dumpster.

Spray paint might seem like something that you’ll never have a use for, but it can actually be a simple way to dress up your home without the associated costs of new furniture pieces and fixtures. If you’re dressing up your home to put it on the market, you may want to contact your local real estate professional for more inside tips.

$500 Renovations That Will Boost Your Home’s Value and Speed Up Your Sale

$500 Renovations That Will Boost Your Home's Value and Speed Up Your SaleThe idea of home renovations when you’re selling your home can be unpopular because of the cost and time that can go into sprucing up a place you’re about to leave behind. However, making a few simple, economical touches can go a long way to capitalizing on your home’s value and making a difference in dollars. If you’re curious about cheap options for an easier sale, here are a few that may make the deal a little sweeter.

Kick Up The Kitchen A Notch

With all of the time that a family spends in the kitchen, it’s unsurprising that it is fast becoming one of the most important features that go into a potential buyer’s interest in a home. For less than a thousand, you may want to consider an upgraded appliance that will serve as a sparkly new selling feature or even some slightly revamped cabinet fronts that will keep the price down and the look up-to-date.

A Little Bathroom Fix-Up

With the bathroom being one of the smallest spaces in any home, it can be hard to know how to properly enhance this minimal space for maximum effect. Instead of re-doing the floor or the tub, consider the basic cost of a new light fixture and an updated mirror. Simply updating these two items will completely shift the look of an aging bathroom.

Clean Up The Carpet

With carpet making a bit of a comeback, it’s certainly not going to be worth your while to replace any damage it’s incurred before leaving your home. Instead of leaving things to chance, though, consider a relatively economical carpet cleaning that will drastically improve the look of your carpet and may convince potential buyers it’s less worn than it is.

Lighting Is Everything

There are few things that can lend or detract from the look of a room more than the lighting you choose. While you may want to consider a new, nice fixture to change up your living room, kitchen or foyer area, a shade of light that is complimentary to the space it’s illuminating will have more of an impact than anything on how your home is viewed.

Renovations may seem like unnecessary work if you’re planning on selling your home in the near future, but some minor upgrades can make a huge difference on the price tag that your home sale will pull in. If you’re wondering about home upgrades and other factors that will be considered in selling your home, you may want to contact your local real estate agent for more information.

Remodeling 101: How to Create a Proper Budget for Any Renovation, Large or Small

Remodeling 101: How to Create a Proper Budget for Any Renovation, Large or SmallWhether you’re readying to put your home on the market or you haven’t updated your space in a while and want to modernize, approaching renovations can be a struggle. With so many things to fix up, both large and small, it can seem overwhelming to prioritize, set the money aside and get to work. If you’re having trouble figuring out where to begin with budget, here are some tips for how to properly prioritize so you can maximize your renovation expenditures.

Determine What Is Most Important

Whether it’s the tile floor in your bathroom or the outdated kitchen sink, if the need for an upgrade in a certain part of your home has been staring you in the face for a while, you’ll want to begin there. By determining your first priority and the no-frills cost assessment of completing it, you can arrive at the cost of what renovating the item will mean. Once you’re in the ballpark, you can then move on to any additional features or accessories that may perk up your basic renovation.

Add A Little Extra To The Budget

The downside of any budget is that costs will always come along that were not predicted, and they can entirely break the bank and your original projections. Instead of hoping for the best, add some extra money to the outline of total expenses for your renovation so you can be prepared for some of the hiccups that will come along. This will ensure that you have the financial wherewithal to complete the renovation and won’t be disappointed in the final outcome for your finances.

Consider Where You Can Cutback

Whether you’ve been dreaming of a new living room set for a while or replacing the flooring in the kitchen, you can update the area of your choice while still economizing in other ways. For example, if you’re going for modern eclectic in your living room, you may want to splurge on an updated couch, but you may be able to save by purchasing a retro coffee table online or a unique side chair that’s secondhand to go along with it. This may provide a unique upgrade, without all the expense of in-store purchases.

It can be hard to know where to begin when it comes to revamping your house, but it’s important to start with what you really can’t live without and move outward from there. If you’re curious about home renovations and how they can improve the market value of your home, you may want to contact your local real estate professional for more tips.

DIY Home Upgrades: 5 Reasons Why Hardwood Flooring Should Be on Your Renovation List

DIY Home Upgrades: 5 Reasons Why Hardwood Flooring Should Be on Your Reno ListWhether you’re planning on selling your home soon or you want to do a few minor renovations for your own enjoyment, an ailing hardwood floor may be on your list of things to tackle. While this can be a more difficult renovation to complete than many other household items, here are five reasons you may want to move it to the top of the list.

An Issue with Structure

If there happens to be any glaring structural issues with your hardwood, a complete do-over will be a necessity if you want to sell your house in the future. While this will likely involve fixing the sub-floor under your hardwood, this will dramatically improve the overall health of your home.

Experiencing a Lot of Movement?

A lot of movement in your hardwood floor can be a sign that it’s time for a fix up. If you’re already planning on refinishing your floor for an instantly improved look, this fix-up will need to happen before you can take that necessary next step!

Worn-Out or Over-Sanded Wood

Whether your boards are worn down in spots from excessive use or sanding, this is an issue that will instantly age the look of your living space. If you’re noticing the boards coming apart at the ends or nails jutting out, it’s definitely time for an overhaul.

Upping a Home’s Market Value

There may be a few things a homebuyer will be willing to fix in a new home, but flooring is unlikely to be something they will want to replace right off the bat. By upgrading this before it’s an issue, you can easily make your home a lot more attractive to potential buyers.

It’s an Instant Facelift

There are few things that will be as apparent as the look of the floor when entering a room, so having dull, scratched hardwood will instantly downgrade the appearance of your living space. If more than expected wear and tear has occurred, an updated floor can completely shift the look of your place!

If you’re planning on tackling home renovations soon and are not sure where to begin, you may want to assess the quality of life left in your hardwood floors. As this will have a marked impact on the way your home appears, fixing your floors can help to improve the market value of your home. If you’re wondering about other renovation upgrades that will appeal to buyers, you should consider contacting your local real estate professional for more information.

3 Autumn-inspired Decor Ideas That Will Spice Up Your Home

3 Autumn-inspired Decor Ideas That Will Spice Up Your HomeWith the season of jack-o-lanterns and crunchy leaves under foot, there can’t help but be plenty of ways to integrate the loveliness of autumn into your home decorations. Whether you’re looking for a simple touch or a statement that will completely define a room, here are a few ideas for highlighting the best the fall has to offer.

Showcase a Seasonal Bouquet

A vase full of flowers can add a lot to any room in the house, but a great way to integrate the season outside with your home is to make a bouquet that will utilize the best of fall’s vegetation. Instead of opting for the usual bright colors, gather an array of colored leaves that strike your fancy and add a collection of branches to a vase that suits the purpose. If arranged right, this can be a striking and unique embellishment to your front entrance.

Carve Out a Candle Holder

An easy way to join the cooler weather with your inside atmosphere is to utilize the help of the season’s most familiar vegetable, the pumpkin. Instead of going for the typical Halloween carving, cut the top off of a small pumpkin, clear away all of the seeds and let it dry out. Once this is complete, you can put a candle in the pumpkin, and create a unique lighting look for your home. If you like it enough, you may want to consider doing it with several pumpkins for an even more festive display.

A Falling Light Fixture

Instead of making something from scratch, you might want to consider using the pieces you have in your home and switching them up to complement the changing season. If you happen to have a chandelier in your dining room and you also have kids who like to craft, have them put together some papier-mâché leaves and pumpkins so you can hang them decoratively from the chandelier. While this is a look that will take more work, it will be a particularly striking way to illuminate your chandelier – and your dining area!

Adding some fall inspiration into the mix for your home decorating can be a great way to better enjoy the season and have some fun with your family. From a festive chandelier to a striking autumn bouquet, there are plenty of ways to become crafty for the fair season. If autumn is making you contemplate your neighborhood and your home, you may want to contact your local real estate agent for more information.

Looking for an Eco-friendly Upgrade? Try These Easy Ways to Save Water Around the Home

Looking for an Eco-friendly Upgrade? Try These Easy Ways to Save Water Around the HomeWith the impact we have on our environment becoming a matter of greater concern, it’s becoming more important for the average citizen to know they’re doing their part. While there are many simple tricks for saving water that will make you feel better about your environmental footprint, here are a few easy upgrades that will make that saving a little more automatic.

Consider a Cistern Device

With outhouses a thing of the past, flushing the toilet has become one of the ways in which household water is being overused the most, but flushing less simply isn’t a viable option. Instead of wasting water in this way, purchase a displacement device and place it in your toilet’s cistern. Without you having to do anything at all, it will instantly reduce the volume of water that is used with each flush.

Learn to Work a Water Meter

It’s ideal to help the environment by saving water, but it’s even better if you can save yourself money at the same time. If you happen to be among those who pay for their water, installing a water meter will enable you to take a closer look at where your water use is going, and can assist you in helping to trim down this expense.

Drain It From the Rain

In the event of an intense downpour, there’s often a lot of water that runs off into the gutter and can’t be absorbed by the grass or the trees. Instead of letting it go to waste, install a water butt to your drainpipe so that you can use the runoff when it’s dry outside to water your plants or even wash your car. There’s no reason that any of the moisture from a good rainfall should have to go to waste.

Invest in Water Efficient Items

From showerheads to washing machines, going energy efficient with your household appliances is becoming quite popular. The next time you have to replace a small appliance or there’s a leak with a household item, consider heading down to the drugstore to look for environmentally friendly options that will instantly reduce your footprint.

With so many options for environmentally friendly items on the market these days, there’s no reason you can’t save water at home with a few easy changes. From making use of the rain that falls to learning to work with a water meter, some simple shifts may make your house the most environmentally friendly one on the block.

Staging 101: How to Improve Your Landscape and Gardens Before Showing Your Home

Staging 101: How to Improve Your Landscape and Gardens Before Showing Your HomeCurb appeal is often neglected by sellers. So much attention is spent getting the inside of a home cleaned up that the outside is left until last. This is a mistake. Landscaping and gardens are the first things a prospective buyer sees. Following these tips ensures homes look their best and give a positive first impression.

Spruce Up Mulch

A fresh layer of mulch brings out the color in a garden and makes gardens look well-tended. Homes on the market in the spring, summer, or fall benefit from a fresh application of mulch prior to putting a home on the market.

Clean Up

Cluttered yards full of toys and tools are unattractive. Pick up any clutter and place it out of sight of prospective buyers.

Branches, leaves, and other debris are equally unsightly. Rake leaves and eliminate brush to give lawns a clean, manicured appeal. This is important year round.

Renting a power washer to clean driveways and walkways is also advisable. A clean driveway and gleaming walkways invite prospective buyers to picture themselves strolling through the yard.

Trim Grass And Shrubs

Overgrown grass and shrubs look unkempt. Take the time to cut the grass and sweep or blow the clippings off of driveways and walkways. Trim shrubs and trees to desired shape and height, and clean up all trimmings.

Don’t worry about trimming out of season. Well-manicured landscapes suggest that the rest of the house is equally well maintained.

Fresh Plantings

Add a little color in the garden to increase its appeal with some fresh flowers. A new planting ensures blooms look their best, especially against that new application of mulch.

Tend To All Garden Beds

This is the time to spruce up all garden beds. Remove weeds and trim up perennials to create a well-maintained appearance. Remove or trim back any plants that look dead or otherwise unhealthy.

Address Water Issues

Yards with fountains, faucets, pools, and irrigation systems require additional care. The time to fix issues is before the showing.

Resolve any issues with irrigation systems. Clean fountains and pools of algae and leaves. Fix leaky faucets as they suggest issues elsewhere with plumbing.

Fixing up the outside is just as important as a clean interior. Making gardens, lawns, and landscaping appear attractive and well maintained gives prospective buyers a positive first impression.

Don’t wait until the day of the showing. Start working on landscape staging a month before putting a home on the market. Call your trusted real estate agent today for more staging tips.