Ready to Relocate? 3 Tips on How to Set a Moving Budget That Won’t Break the Bank

Ready to Relocate? 3 Tips on How to Set a Moving Budget That Won't Break the Bank Relocating to a new area can be exciting, but it can also be expensive. There are many resources to help, but most cost money. However, if you take your time and plan carefully, you can reduce the expense so you don’t start your new life with new debt. Here are three tips to controlling your moving budget.

1. Find Out What’s Free

Nothing is better than paying nothing, right? Don’t assume you have to fork out money for everything you need to move. If you have accepted a new job, ask your new employer whether the company can cover any of your moving expenses.

When it comes to moving supplies, see what you can get without having to pay for it. Stock up on free moving supplies by asking your workplace, local grocery stores, and friends and family for unneeded, sturdy boxes. Instead of paying professional movers, see if you can barter with friends or family for help in moving boxes to and from the truck.

2. Focus On Essentials

After you’ve pursued every possible angle to cover your needs for free, you will likely need to pay for something. The trick is to only do so for what is absolutely necessary. Many providers will offer you help along the way, but you should only sign up for basic services. This could include moving big items such as a piano, paying for gas and tolls, or buying cartons for oddly-shaped or particularly valuable items. If you are not able to move things yourself, this could include hiring professionals.

3. Do It Yourself

If you have the time and are physically fit, start long before moving day and pack everything yourself. Rent or borrow a truck and move your boxes yourself, perhaps with the help of a friend. Take care of disconnecting old utilities and signing up for new ones. Handle both cleaning your old home and preparing your new one. Anything you can do with a little elbow grease will mean less money out of pocket.

Call your real estate agent for advice on keeping moving expenses down. Ask about providers who may give you a discount for being referred by your agent. Remember that you are in charge of your move, so don’t automatically sign up for every service available. By using free goods and services when available and doing much of the work yourself, you can set and follow a moving budget you can afford.

The Spring Rains Are Coming – Here’s How to Prepare Your Home if You Live in a Flood Zone

The Spring Rains Are Coming - Here's How to Prepare Your Home if You Live in a Flood ZoneIf your home is located in a flood zone, it’s critical that you know how to get ready for those drenching spring rains. Here are some basic steps any homeowner can take to prepare for potentially devastating floods.

Community Emergency Plans

Your community has an emergency plan in case of flooding. There are warning signals to alert residents, evacuation routes mapped out and the locations of emergency shelters are given. Get in touch with your community government center if you haven’t already received copies of these preparedness plans.

Have a Family Plan

Floods can be devastating. In an emergency, it’s key that every family member knows what to do and where to go. Plan an evacuation route with your family and practice it. Be sure everyone has the name, address and phone number of a family contact who lives out of state in case anyone is separated during a flood event.

Be Proactive

Get ready to prevent disaster. Turn off all electrical power to the home as soon as there is any standing water or before you vacate it. Also turn off gas and water supplies if you evacuate. Hire an electrician to raise your electrical outlets, circuit breakers and other electrical component so they are at least a foot above the home’s flood elevation mark.

Emergency Supplies to Have on Hand

Being prepared in a flood zone means having emergency supplies available all the time, just in case. Stock your home with supplies that will last at least five full days. Have about five gallons of clean water per person on hand. Stock up on canned foods or other non-perishable food items. Be sure to have a non-electric can opener. Place aside some prescription medications or any other specific medical needs, in addition to a first aid kit. Have a battery-powered radio on hand and extra batteries. Also have a few flashlights at the ready. Sleeping bags or extra blankets are needed, as are personal hygiene supplies like toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap and towels.

Prepare Your Home Well in Advance

Finally, you’ll want to check on a regular basis that your sump pump is in working order and have a battery-powered back up available. Get a water alarm so you’ll know if water is pooling in your basement. Have your gutters and downspouts cleaned out at least twice a year.

Living in a flood zone means that you’ll need to be prepared, and there’s no better time than now to start getting ready.

Improve Your Home’s Resale Value with Our Guide to Adding a Beautiful Wooden Fence to Your Yard

Improve Your Home's Resale Value with Our Guide to Adding a Beautiful Wooden Fence to Your Yard With many types of home improvements, at least a portion of the cost that you put into the improvement can be recouped from additional value when you sell the home.

While each project is different, some projects can have multiple benefits that impact property value and overall desirability with a new home buyer. Adding a beautiful wooden fence to your yard is a great way to boost resale value, and with a closer review, you may determine that you want to install a new privacy fence to your property soon.

Instilling Privacy Around Your Home

While there are different types of wood fences that you can install, a wood privacy fence is among the most common types. Many people enjoy relaxing in their backyards without nosy neighbors and passersby peering at them.

A privacy fence can reduce or eliminate visibility into your yard as well as into the back windows of your home, and this is a true benefit that will make your home more comfortable to live in and more appealing to a potential buyer.

Giving Kids And Pets A Safe Place To Play

While some people want to have a large, open backyard without a visibly defined border, many love the security and peace of mind that comes with having a wood fence around the backyard. In fact, this is almost a priority for home buyers who have kids and pets who may want to roam around in the backyard because it helps to keep them safe and secure when outdoors.

Improving Curb Appeal

A wood fence may commonly be placed around the perimeter of a backyard, it can typically be seen directly from the front of the home. It can be used to conceal certain features of the backyard that may detract from curb appeal, and it can also give your front yard a neater and more refined appearance. A well-maintained and stained wood fence can be a beautiful addition to your front and backyard alike.

Before you make your final decision about whether to install a wood fence on your property, you may be wondering how much of the cost will be recouped through an increase in property value. A great idea is to reach out to an experienced real estate agent with knowledge of your local market. Your real estate agent can provide you with more information about this improvement before you make your final decision.

Looking for a Fun DIY Project This Spring? How to Plant Your Own Vegetable Garden

Looking for a Fun DIY Project This Spring? How to Plant Your Own Vegetable GardenWhen spring arrives, many people want to spend more time outdoors enjoying the fresh air and warmer temperatures. While you could lounge in a chair with a good book, you may find it more enjoyable to plant your own vegetable garden. This is an on-going project that will require you to spend time outdoors regularly, and it can be quite enjoyable to watch the fruits of your labor spring to life. More than that, you may love to sample and even share the tasty treats that you have grown on your own. If you are ready to get started planning and planting your vegetable garden, follow these preliminary steps.

Choose the Plants That You Want to Grow

As a first step, think about the types of plants that you want to grow in your garden. These should ideally produce vegetables that you and your family will enjoy eating. They also ideally will be suitable for growing in your climate and with the type of soil that is present on your property. Additionally, enough space should be available to accommodate the full grown size of the plants. This up-front effort is critical for the next few steps in the planning and preparation process.

Select a Suitable Space in Your Yard

Each plant species will have special growing requirements. Some plants may prefer to be in full sunlight, and others may prefer partial sunlight or mostly shaded areas. Some may prefer soil that is mostly dry or that is regularly moist and wet. Different areas of your yard may be more accommodating for some plant species than others. For example, plants that prefer more moist soil may thrive in a lower area of your yard that receives more runoff when it rains and that takes longer to dry out after a shower.

Choose the Best Time to Plant

A final point to consider is the best time to plant your crops. Some will thrive when cooler temps in early spring are still common, but others may not tolerate a freeze at all. These may need to be planted after the risk for a late spring freeze is gone. Think about how long it takes plants to grow and what the temperatures in your area may be when the plants are fully grown and ready to produce vegetables for you.

You may be able to complete much of this preliminary planning and research during the last few weeks of winter from the comfort of your own home. Keep in mind that you can get outdoors and begin to prepare your garden area before you are ready to plant your crops. These steps will pave the way for a truly enjoyable do-it-yourself project this spring.

Three Unique Upgrades That Will Drive Your Home’s Resale Price Through the Roof

Three Unique Upgrades That Will Drive Your Home's Resale Price Through the RoofIf you are a homeowner, you should always be thinking about ways that you can boost the resale value of your home. Whether you are planning on putting the home on the market, or simply want to be prepared for the future, there are upgrades that can make your property more desirable. Give your home the attention it deserves and you’ll be prepared for whatever may come down the line.

Go Solar With A Home Solar Installation

There’s no doubt that solar power is big in today’s housing market. It’s an excellent resource that will save you money on your utility bills. You could even find yourself in a situation where the power company is actually buying energy from you. It’s also a move that is environmentally-friendly. If you feel a responsibility to the world around you, you will have the peace of mind that comes with reducing your carbon footprint. As energy becomes scarce, solar power is something you can count on. Future buyers will benefit as well.

Install An HVAC System That Does It All

When it comes to your heating and cooling, install a system that will meet all of your needs. Keep your home at a comfortable temperature throughout the year at the touch of a button. Choose an energy saver model that uses the most feasible type of energy source in order to trim costs. When you have a modern system with automation capability, you should see a difference in your utility bills. You’ll also have a huge selling feature to show off when prospective buyers come knocking at your door.

Make the Most of Your Existing Space

Take the space that you have and make sure that you utilize it to its full potential. Whether you create an attic bedroom or a finished basement, making better use of your space will increase your home’s appeal. When it’s time to sell, buyers want to see possibilities and appreciate it more when the work has already been done for them. Give them options and let them make the space their own.

Turn to the Experts for Advice

Call your real estate professional today to further assist you with questions and solutions when considering the resale value of your home. You’ll be able to tap into a vast store of knowledge about what works and what doesn’t before investing in any upgrades.

How Safe is Your Home from a Fire? Learn How to Run a Quick Fire Safety Assessment

How Safe is Your Home from a Fire? Learn How to Run a Quick Fire Safety Assessment A fire can rage through your home at a moment’s notice, and it can cause a significant amount of damage in a very short period of time. Damage from the flames, intense heat, smoke and soot can cause tens of thousands of dollars or more in some cases, and a severe fire event can result in a total loss for the homeowner. More than that, a fire can create a serious health and safety risk for you and your loved ones inside the home. If you are concerned about how safe your home is from a fire, consider a few important points.

Do You Have Fire Extinguishers On All Floors?

When a small fire breaks out, you may only have a few seconds to respond. You simply do not have time to rush around the house in search of a fire extinguisher. Instead, you should know immediately where it is at and how to use it. More than that, you should have one available on all floors of your home. While you may want to reach for a fire extinguisher to put out a small flame, you should still yell for others in the home to vacate while you use the fire extinguisher.

Do You Have Smoke Alarms in Ideal Locations?

Fires can break out during all hours of the day and night. When you are awake, you may easily be able to smell smoke from a nearby room. However, when you are asleep or when the smoke is in a removed area of the home, it can be more difficult to observe the signs of a fire until it is too late. Placing a loud smoke alarm in all bedrooms in your home is a wise idea. You will also need one in living areas of the home. If your home is larger in size, you may consider investing in additional smoke alarms.

When Was the Last Time You Replaced the Batteries in Your Smoke Detectors?

It is not enough to simply have the smoke detectors mounted to your walls or ceiling. Instead, you need to make sure that they are loud and that they work well. If you have a hearing impaired person in the home, you should invest in detectors with a visible strobe light to alert them to a danger. Batteries generally should be replaced every few months, and you may consider replacing the batteries each time you replace the filters for your HVAC system. Keep in mind that it is better to replace the batteries before they lose power than to be without the function of an alarm in your home when you need it.

Even a small fire can be a dangerous and costly event. By focusing on these factors in your home, you can most easily prepare for a fire, and you will be able to take immediate action in the event a fire develops in your home.

Spring DIY Projects: How to Build a Treehouse That the Kids Will Love

Spring DIY Projects: How to Build a Treehouse That the Kids Will Love If you have children, no home is complete without a treehouse. Besides the fact that treehouses provide kids with hours of entertainment, they can also confer ancillary benefits that are hard to quantify. For starters, treehouses can improve property values by boosting curb appeal. When building any type of treehouse, keep the following tips in mind.

Location, Location, Location

Before you head off to Home Depot and get all the necessary supplies, you need to spend some serious time storyboarding the build process. Pick a tree with low, sprawling branches such as an oak or a maple. Furthermore, consider issues like wind, shade and privacy before you start to nail up supports.

Choose Your Materials Wisely

A treehouse built with subpar materials will fall short in the longevity department and disappoint the kids. Pick out stout oak 4×4 posts for the structural elements and top them off with pressure-treated pine for the floors and railings. Use quality plywood for the interior walls and seal it to avoid rot.

Make Multi-Use Your Mantra

Treehouses that are simply shacks suspended above ground will quickly bore youngsters no matter how well-built they may be. Incorporate elements such as swings, rope ladders and even zip-lines to get more from your treehouse. As long as you’re putting in the effort, you might as well add all of the bells and whistles.

Bake Safety Into the Recipe

You don’t want the kids to get hurt when they’re frolicking among the branches. Make sure to bolt handles and permanent rails into the truck so that adolescents are less likely to slip and fall. If you want to go all out, add a few safety nets around the edges.

Heed Aesthetics When Designing

An unadorned treehouse quickly turns into an eyesore over time as it’s battered by the elements. Shingle the roof and paint the exterior walls so that they match your home. Kids will naturally gravitate towards a treehouse that looks appealing and your neighbors won’t complain about a shoddy structure in your weeping willow.

It’s More Than a Treehouse

While many young kids will no doubt love a full-featured treehouse, it’s usually the improvement in home value that will appeal to adults. If you’re interested in learning more about homes in your area that would support your desire to build a treehouse, call a professional real estate agent today.

Spring Cleaning: Follow Our Handy Guide to Organizing Your Garage, Basement and Attic

Spring Cleaning: Follow Our Handy Guide to Organizing Your Garage, Basement and AtticSpring is not far off, and your garage, basement and attic need your attention. From sweeping cobwebs to throwing out old, useless junk and organizing family photos, spring cleaning is essential to keeping a tidy house. Follow our handy guide to organizing your garage, basement and attic.

Make Room For Your Car

You’ll likely need to set aside a full weekend to organize your garage. As you won’t be able to complete this task by yourself, get your family or friends to help you out. It might be a good idea to bribe them with free pizza for lunch.

Go through every square inch of the garage from top to bottom, including tools, unpacked boxes from when you moved and anything else that gets in your way. Separate the items that you want to sell or donate into one area of your driveway, items that you want keep into another area and stuff that you want to throw away into a separate pile.

Organize the items you want to keep into small, well-marked boxes and place back in the garage. Use as much wall space as possible to store tools and boxes by installing shelves inside your garage. Organize the items you want to sell into separate piles on a tarp in your garage for temporary storage.

De-Clutter Your Basement

Similar to your garage, you’ll want to get rid of the clutter in your basement. Make sure you have enough room for multiple piles of items and be aware that you’ll need to add to your garage piles later on.

Organize your items into three piles: one pile for items you wish to keep, another one for items you wish to sell and the final pile for items you want to throw out. If you have a significant amount of clothing in your basement, you might want to consider purchasing mobile hanger units and place them against the wall.

Turn Your Attic Into An Inviting Room

Your attic doesn’t have to be a storage space if you can clean it up and organize it correctly. Place everything you want into marked boxes and dust the attic before you place them in their respective areas.

Selling and throwing away personal belongings can be a huge hassle, especially if you have an emotional attachment to them. Generally speaking, items that are broken, expired or out of date can be thrown away while items that you no longer use but don’t hold much sentimental value can be sold or donated.

All About Radon: How to Test Your Home for Radon Gas and What to Do if You Find It

All About Radon: How to Test Your Home for Radon Gas and What to Do if You Find It If you are concerned about the presence of radon in your home, you are not alone. The fact is that radon is an invisible, odorless gas that may be found in buildings around the world. It is a radioactive gas that is emitted from the ground soil as trace amounts of naturally occurring uranium break down. The gas can enter a building and remain trapped, and this is known to cause as many as 21,000 deaths related to lung cancer each year, according to the EPA. Testing your home from time to time is a necessity, and you can easily accomplish this in two different ways.

A Home Radon Test Kit

Regardless of the age or location of your home, you should test your home periodically for the presence of radon. You may be able to purchase a radon test kit at a local home improvement store or even online. These kits are designed to be easy to use and to read, and they can provide you with the information you seek in a short period of time.

A Professional Indoor Air Quality Test

Another option is to hire a professional to complete a full indoor air quality test. This may provide you with more information about the presence of radon, asbestos, mold spores and many other pollutants and particulates that may be making you and your family sick. A professional test may be more comprehensive and sensitive. Furthermore, the results can be more reliable.

If You Have Radon In Your Home

If you have the unfortunate experience of learning that your home has radon gas inside of it, you may immediately feel stressed and concerned. This is understandable considering this is a known carcinogen. However, while it is important that you take immediate action to cleanse and purify your home’s air, there is not a need to panic. There are numerous filtration and purifier systems that you can invest in that have amazing results. In fact, some can eliminate up to 99 percent of the radon in your home.

Even if your home tests clean for radon today, keep in mind that this gas can naturally seep into your home over time. You may consider testing your home periodically for radon at regular intervals for the entire time you live in the space. This will help you to identify a problem in your home and to take action soon to minimize the health risks for you and your loved ones.

Home Security in 2015: Here’s How New Technology Can Keep You Even Safer

Home Security in 2015: Here's How New Technology Can Keep You Even SaferSecuring your home is a top priority, and you will need to make periodic updates and upgrades to your efforts from time to time. Today’s criminals are highly intelligent, and they often use superior techniques to break into homes criminals from past years and decades did not use.

As homeowners’ efforts to secure their homes become more sophisticated, the fact is that criminals are also becoming more sophisticated. There are several new products on the market that you may consider installing and implementing in your home to improve security going forward.

Wireless Video Cameras

Many of the more advanced home security systems today have some type of video surveillance system in place. Generally, this is a closed circuit system that records activities or that is motion activated so that the area is only recorded when movement is detected.

More advanced options, however, are wireless by design, and you may be able to both listen to and watch your home from your smartphone or wireless device. Keep in mind that not all activities will take place in the small perimeter that is monitored by your camera, so the ability to listen to the home in real-time is a benefit.

Keyless Entry Locks With Alarm Sounds

Many homeowners have already invested in keyless entry locks. These are often viewed as a convenience feature for homeowners because they do not have to worry about misplacing their keys or giving a key to their maid service or others who need to enter the home. The key code can easily be changed as needed to add security to the home. However, a new spin on the keyless entry lock is an audible alarm sound. With this product, the lock will emit a loud alarm signal that can alert you and others passing nearby that someone is trying to break into your home.

Smart Door Locks

You can also choose to invest in smart door locks. These are locks that you can monitor and even control through an app on your smartphone or mobile device. You do not have to give out a code to the maid service because you can simply unlock the door for the cleaners when they arrive at your home. You may have forgotten to lock your door that morning before you left for work, and you can use the app to lock the door remotely. You can also receive a notification each time the door is opened or unlocked.

Each of these innovative features can enhance the security of your home in different ways. When you want to gain better control over your home security, you may consider investing in some of these state-of-the-art products for your home in the near future.