Wintry weather is great at turning up problems you didn’t even know you had. Like that first snowy night in front of your fireplace that you thought was pure bliss — until you noticed a leak in the ceiling corner, which apparently was caused by a lack of insulation. How were you supposed to know that?
Here are seven things to do now to avoid costly wintertime mistakes:
#1 Buy a $2 Protector for Your Outdoor Faucet
The cost if you don’t: Up to $15,000 and a whole lot of grief
It’s amazing what a little frozen water can do damage-wise. An inch of water in your basement can cost up to $15,000 to pump out and dry out. And, yet, it’s so easy to prevent, especially with outdoor faucets, which are the most susceptible to freezing temps.
The simplest thing to do is to remove your garden hose from your outdoor faucet and drain it. Then add a faucet protector to keep cold air from getting into your pipes. They’re really cheap (some are under $2; the more expensive ones are still less than $10). “Get these now,” says Danny Lipford, home improvement expert and host of the “Today’s Homeowner” television and radio shows. “When the weatherman says we’ve got cold coming, they’ll sell out in minutes.”
While you’re at it, make sure any exposed pipes in an unheated basement or garage are insulated, too, or you’ll face the same pricey problem.
Wrap pipes with foam plumbing insulation — before the weather drops. It’s cheap, too, just like the faucet cover (only $1 for six feet of polyethylene insulation). And it’s an easy DIY project, as long as you can reach the pipes.
#2 Add Insulation to Prevent Ice Dams
The cost if you don’t: $500 — if you’re lucky; a lot more if you’re not
Those icicles make your home look so picturesque, you just gotta take a few pics. But you better make them quick. Those icicles can literally be a dam problem. (Yes, dam — not the curse word that sounds the same. )
Icicles are a clear sign that you’ve got an ice dam, which is exactly what it sounds like: a buildup of ice on your gutter or roof that prevents melting snow and ice from flowing through your gutters. That’s really bad news because these icy blocks can lead to expensive roofing repairs.
Depending on where you live, expect to pay at least $500 for each ice dam to be steamed off. Leave the ice and you risk long-term damage, which could ultimately cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to your roof, depending on what type of shingles you have and the size of the damaged area.
How to prevent them? Insulation. “Ice dams, icicles, and ice buildup on the gutters is a symptom of not enough insulation in the attic,” says Chris Johnson, owner of Navarre True Value and several other stores in the Twin Cities area.
And “you need to have at least 14 inches of insulation in your attic, no matter where you live,” says Lipford. If you live in a colder climate, you’ll need more.
If you don’t have the cash to insulate, heated gutter cables, which run between $50 and $150 each, can be a less expensive alternative when temporarily affixed to areas prone to ice damming, Johnson suggests.
#3 Clean Your Gutters
The cost if you don’t:: You really don’t want to be in a position to find out
It can be so tempting to skip gutter cleanups as winter nears. It seems like as soon as you clear your gutters, they clog right back up again. So what’s the point?
Well, if it looks like you’re living inside a waterfall when it rains, water is missing your gutter system completely. It’s being directed to your foundation instead. And a water-damaged foundation is never, ever cheap to fix.
A contractor can plug foundation cracks for $1,500 to $3,000, says David Verbofsky, director of training for exterior home products manufacturer Ply Gem. But a worse problem, one that requires a foundation excavation or rebuild, can set you back (gulp) $30,000 or more.
Suddenly, cleaning your gutters a few times each fall doesn’t seem so bad. A pro can do the work for anywhere between $70 and $250, depending on the size of your gutter system.
#4 Seal Up Leaks
The cost if you don’t: Nights where you never feel warm, despite sky-high heating bills
“If it were possible to take every crack on the outside of a typical home and drag them together, you’d have the equivalent of a three-by-three window open all the time,” says Lipford. Yikes.
Yet cracks can be easily and inexpensively sealed with a simple tube of caulk, and it’s available in hundreds of colors to match your window panes, outside siding, and even brick. Not sure where to caulk? Look for visible cracks around:
- Window sills
- Fireplace or dryer vents
- Anywhere something inside pokes a hole to the outside
#5 Program Your Thermostat
The cost if you don’t: Money you could spend on something else besides heating
We all know we should, but we seem to have some mental block when it comes to programming our thermostats to align with our schedules. It’s not that hard, and sometimes all it takes is buying a new one that suits you. (Like maybe a Wi-Fi one that’ll give you a little money-saving thrill each time you swipe your app.)
“From a cost-savings perspective, a programmable thermostat is a great investment,” Lipford says — as much as 10% off your energy bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
#6 Get a Furnace Tune-Up
The cost if you don’t: A furnace that’ll die years before it should — and higher energy bills
“Forget to service your furnace and you could easily cut five years off the life of your system,” says Lipford, who added that five years is a full third of the typical unit’s life span. New units can cost around $4,000 installed, making the $125 annual maintenance charge a no-brainer.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to replace the furnace filter, which cleans the air in your home, and also keeps your furnace coils cleaner, which can shave up to 15% off your energy bill. Johnson suggests at least every three months, but possibly as often as monthly if you have allergies, pets, or smoke cigarettes at home.
#7 Get a Fireplace Inspection
The cost if you don’t: Possibly your life — and your home
“A cozy fire is great, but if you don’t maintain your chimney, a fire can cost you thousands of dollars,” says Johnson, not to mention the risk to you and your family.
Schedule your maintenance appointment as early as you can.”If you wait until the busy season, you’ll have a hard time getting them out there, you’ll pay more, and you’ll get a lower quality job,” says Lipford.
written by ALAINA TWEDDALE for houselogic .com
A recent article from a reputable news source was titled: Here’s why some homeowners still can’t sell. In the opening bullets of the article, the author claimed, “Negative equity is one of the main reasons why there are so few homes for sale.” The article then goes on to soften that stance but we want to bring better clarity to the equity situation.
A recent report from CoreLogic (which was quoted in the article) revealed that over 80% of all homes now have “significant equity,” which means the home has over 20% equity. That level of equity allows the homeowner to sell their home if they so desire. (There was no reference to significant equity in the article.)
If eight out of ten homeowners now have significant equity in their homes, it is hard to make the claim that lack of equity is “one of the main reasons why there are so few homes for sale.”
Here is a map showing the percentage of homes in each state which currently have significant equity:
Thoughts on Homeowner Equity
If you are one of many homeowners who is debating selling your home and are wondering how much equity you have accumulated, contact a local real estate professional who can help you determine if now is the time to list.
With every new iPhone release, we discover new ways we can’t live without our devices. The iPhone 8 is water proof, rust proof, and has the most durable glass yet. It has enhanced stereo speakers, wireless charging, a stellar camera, and more. However, it comes at a hefty price: $699-$949.
You may see that price tag and think, there is so much I could do with $1,000! And you’re right. With $1,000, you could buy a thousand donuts, fly to Europe and back, or even take a couple of cruises.
Or, you could tackle a home renovation which will add value and character to your home. You may be surprised by the scope of projects you can pursue with a $1,000 budget. Here are a few to get you inspired.
Swap out your old front door.
The front door is a signature part of your home’s first impression. If you’re selling your property, a brand-new door in a flattering color can help draw buyers. If you’re renovating for yourself, you can choose a door that speaks to your personality and makes your house feel fresh.
Front Door Installation: $900
Give your bathroom an upgrade.
With this budget, you can have both your toilet and your sink replaced professionally. These two elements can instantly change the way your bathroom looks and feels. Seriously–each installation should take less than two hours! If you’ve always wanted a porcelain vessel sink, consider treating yourself now.
Get the kitchen island you’ve been dreaming of.
Didn’t realize you could have kitchen island for less than 1k? Now that you know, it’s time to get to planning! These fixtures afford so many conveniences. You can chop and prepare foods, create an eating area, or use their drawers and cabinets for storage. You can get a medium moveable island with cabinets and a butcher block top for $225-$550. Built-in ones typically range in price from $500-$2,000.
Kitchen Island Installation: $130-$2,000
Ditch that rickety garage door.
An old garage door can make you feel less secure and bring down your curb appeal. With a new one, you can change up the color and style, and consider useful features like insulation. Some homeowners brave this as a DIY renovation, but that approach is not recommended. These doors are heavy, and if the electrical system is compromised during the installation, you could be looking at a big headache.
Garage door installation: $1,000
Try your hand at a DIY project
You can make some excellent additions to your property all on your own, with a little bit of handy work. Follow a step-by-step guide or buy a ready-made unit to guarantee correct installation, and you’ll be flying through the renovation like a pro. Here are a few which will come in under $1,000.
Add cabinets to your laundry room. You’ll wonder how you’ve ever lived without them. Even one or two cabinets can make a huge difference, allowing you store laundry items out of sight and keep the room more manageable. Basic cabinets run about $150-$200 each.
Treat yourself to built-in bookshelves. It sounds more complicated than it has to be. You can actually purchase pre-made shelving units and install them yourself for $200-$500. Gather all of those books and knick-knacks from cluttered surfaces and integrate them into one cohesive, organized space.
Spruce up your outdoor space with a “bistro patio.” This is a big project, but it will be well worth it to have an outdoor gathering space for those good-weather days. These patios are typically 7×7, which is a perfect size for the DIY-inclined. Outfit it with a few chairs and a firepit, for casual nights under the stars. Materials cost anywhere from $400-$900.
There are many possibilities, with a budget the size of an iPhone 8 price tag. Each of them has the potential to add value to your house, by upping the curb appeal and creating useful amenities. If you have $1,000 to put toward a home renovation, you can make it go a long way with any of these high-impact projects.
Written by the experts at Home Advisor this article was showed on RIS Media’s Housecall
Every homeowner wants to make sure they maximize their financial reward when selling their home. But how do you guarantee that you receive maximum value for your house? Here are two keys to ensure that you get the highest price possible.
1. Price it a LITTLE LOW
This may seem counterintuitive. However, let’s look at this concept for a moment. Many homeowners think that pricing their home a little OVER market value will leave them room for negotiation. In actuality, this just dramatically lessens the demand for your house (see chart below).
Instead of the seller trying to ‘win’ the negotiation with one buyer, they should price it so that demand for the home is maximized. By doing this, the seller will not be fighting with a buyer over the price, but will instead have multiple buyers fighting with each other over the house.
Realtor.com gives this advice:
“Aim to price your property at or just slightly below the going rate. Today’s buyers are highly informed, so if they sense they’re getting a deal, they’re likely to bid up a property that’s slightly underpriced, especially in areas with low inventory.”
2. Use a Real Estate Professional
This, too, may seem counterintuitive. The seller may think they would make more money if they didn’t have to pay a real estate commission. With this being said, studies have shown that homes typically sell for more money when handled by a real estate professional.
A new study by Collateral Analytics, reveals that FSBOs don’t actually save any money, and in some cases may be costing themselves more, by not listing with an agent.
In the study, they analyzed home sales in a variety of markets in 2016 and the first half of 2017. The data showed that:
“FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable home sales, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate.”
The results of the study showed that the differential in selling prices for FSBOs when compared to MLS sales of similar properties is about 5.5%. Sales in 2017 suggest the average price was near 6% lower for FSBO sales of similar properties.
Price your house at or slightly below the current market value and hire a professional. This will guarantee that you maximize the price you get for your house.
Many people are interested to know what kind of return on investment they can expect when upgrading certain items in their homes and which items they should prioritize first. This is especially relevant when selling their home or investment property.
When it comes to house sales and particular rooms, the kitchen is often the room that will make or break a sale. Kitchen projects that are budgeted between 6-10 percent of the total home value will see the highest ROI. Putting your finances into kitchen upgrades is a worthwhile endeavor when it comes to optimizing your home for selling purposes.
The top five projects to prioritize when it comes to the best return on investments are: replacing the entry door, installing a new fireplace, remodeling the kitchen, converting the attic into a bedroom, and replacing the exterior siding or cladding.
For an illustrated look at the best projects to focus on when renovating your home, see the below infographic created by Senator Windows.
shared from Housecall
One of the biggest misconceptions of home buying? The 20% down payment. Here’s how to buy with a lot less down.
Buying your first home conjures up all kinds of warm and fuzzy emotions: pride, joy, contentment. But before you get to the good stuff, you’ve got to cobble together a down payment, a daunting sum if you follow the textbook advice to squirrel away 20% of a home’s cost.
Here are five creative ways to build your down-payment nest egg faster than you may have ever imagined.
1. Crowdsource Your Dream Home
You may have heard of people using sites like Kickstarter to fund creative projects like short films and concert tours. Well, who says you can’t crowdsource your first home? Forget the traditional registry, the fine china, and the 16-speed blender. Use sites like Feather the Nest and Hatch My House to raise your down payment. Hatch My House says it’s helped Americans raise more than $2 million for down payments.
2. Ask the Seller to Help (Really!)
When sellers want to a get a deal done quickly, they might be willing to assist buyers with the closing costs. Fewer closing costs = more money you can apply toward your deposit.
“They’re called seller concessions,” says Ray Rodriguez, regional mortgage sales manager for the New York metro area at TD Bank. Talk with your real estate agent. She might help you negotiate for something like 2% of the overall sales price in concessions to help with the closing costs.
There are limits on concessions depending on the type of mortgage you get. For FHA mortgages, the cap is 6% of the sale price. For Fannie Mae-guaranteed loans, the caps vary between 3% and 9%, depending on the ratio between how much you put down and the amount you finance. Individual banks have varying caps on concessions.
No matter where they net out, concessions must be part of the purchase contract.
3. Look into Government Options
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, offers a number of homeownership programs, including assistance with down payment and closing costs. These are typically available for people who meet particular income or location requirements. HUD has a list of links by state that direct you to the appropriate page for information about your state.
HUD offers help based on profession as well. If you’re a law enforcement officer, firefighter, teacher, or EMT, you may be eligible under its Good Neighbor Next Door Sales Program for a 50% discount on a house’s HUD-appraised value in “revitalization areas.” Those areas are designated by Congress for homeownership opportunities. And if you qualify for an FHA-insured mortgage under this program, the down payment is only $100; you can even finance the closing costs.
For veterans, the VA will guarantee part of a home loan through commercial lenders. Often, there’s no down payment or private mortgage insurance required, and the program helps borrowers secure a competitive interest rate.
Some cities also offer homeownership help. “The city of Hartford has the HouseHartford Program that gives down payment assistance and closing cost assistance,” says Matthew Carbray, a certified financial planner with Ridgeline Financial Partners and Carbray Staunton Financial Planners in Avon, Conn. The program partners with lenders, real estate attorneys, and homebuyer counseling agencies and has helped 1,200 low-income families.
4. Check with Your Employer
Employer Assisted Housing (EAH) programs help connect low- to moderate-income workers with down payment assistance through their employer. In Pennsylvania, if you work for a participating EAH employer, you can apply for a loan of up to $8,000 for down payment and closing cost assistance. The loan is interest-free and borrowers have 10 years to pay it back.
Washington University in St. Louis offers forgivable loans to qualified employees who want to purchase housing in specific city neighborhoods. University employees receive the lesser of 5% of the purchase price or $6,000 toward down payment or closing costs.
Ask the human resources or benefits personnel at your employer if the company is part of an EAH program.
5. Take Advantage of Special Lender Programs
Finally, many lenders offer programs to help people buy a home with a small down payment. “I would say that the biggest misconception [of homebuying] is that you need 20% for the down payment of a house,” says Rodriguez. “There are a lot of programs out there that need a total of 3% or 3.5% down.”
FHA mortgages, for example, can require as little as 3.5%. But bear in mind that there are both upfront and monthly mortgage insurance payments. “The mortgage insurance could add another $300 to your monthly mortgage payment,” Rodriguez says.
Some lender programs go even further. TD Bank, for example, offers a 3% down payment with no mortgage insurance program, and other banks may have similar offerings. “Check with your regional bank,” Rodriguez says. “Maybe they have their own first-time buyer program.”
Not so daunting after all, is it? There’s actually a lot of help available to many first-time buyers who want to achieve their homeownership dreams. All you need to do is a little research — and start peeking at those home listings!
Back to school isn’t the most exciting thing happening in August. It pales in comparison to another, much more important event: the release of the new IKEA catalogue. Praise, Sweden, it’s here. And that means it’s time for us scour the book for all the things we’ll need to go buy in the coming weeks.
Here is our Top eight:
1. The utilitarian Pinnig has a coat rack up top and shoe storage down below, and will fit right in with industrial décor. Throw a cushion over that bench and you also have a comfy place to sit with this $89 piece.
2. We love the simple shape of the $75 ODGER chair, and the fact that it “assembles without tools and works for dining room, workspace, and more,” said Curbed, makes it even better. If you’re not a fan of the light brown, it will also come in creamy white and dark blue.
3. IKEA is down with the brass trend that’s going on in interior design, and we’re all about their new TILLAGD Flatware. Priced at $59.99 for a 20-piece set, it also comes in black. Apartment Therapy calls the sets an “on-trend bargain yet timeless enough to purchase for the long haul. Get ready for your glammiest dinner or holiday parties ever with flatware in simple shapes done up in luxe, of-the-moment finishes.”
apartmenttherapy.com4. In a kid’s room, a laundry room, a craft space, a dorm room, a kitchen – there isn’t a space we can’t picture using the MYRHEDEN Frame. At $14.99, it’s so affordable you can buy one for every room. With a clip in every part of the grid and hooks at the bottom, just imagine what you’ll be able to show off.
Ikea5. New hardware is among the easiest and most impactful changes you can make to a piece of furniture, and these OSTERNAS Leather Handles and Pulls ($12.99 for two handles, $9.99 for two pulls) will certainly make an impression.
Ikea7. Personally, we’re fans of anything that has a tray on top. This little $39 YPPERLIG Coffee Table is DEFINITELY going to keep the dog from knocking over the ever-present Diet Coke (again).
decoist.com8. If you’re OVER your quilted headboard, might we suggest the GJÖRA Bed Frame. The natural wood color is right on trend, and, at $279, it’s an inexpensive way to update your lair.
Here’s a fun article we wanted to share that was written by Amalie Drury and shared on Housecall. It’s too good to keep to ourselves!!
There’s something magical about watching a movie outdoors—the fresh air, the novelty of a big screen under the stars, the excitement of a group of people all laughing along to their favorite lines. And you don’t have to wait for your local park district to host a screening, either, when you create your own outdoor movie theater right in your backyard. Here’s what you’ll need.
Create a stadium-style effect by arranging a semi-circle of comfortable outdoor lounge chairs, sofas and chaises for adults. Then spread thick picnic blankets—or even sleeping bags—for kids on the grass closer to the screen. Scatter oversized pillows, poufs and extra light blankets within easy arm’s reach for everyone.
When your guests get up and down for snacks during the show, make sure to light their way with candles (real or battery-operated) in glass hurricanes, a strand of string lights overhead or even rope lighting along the ground similar to the aisle at an actual movie theater.
Snacks and Drinks
In a tucked-away spot away from the screen, set up your “concession stand.” Make it festive with a big popcorn popper complete with a buffet of toppings like melted butter, parmesan cheese, cajun spices and cinnamon sugar. For a fun touch, buy individual popcorn bags—you can find old-fashioned red-and-white bags or customizable brown paper bags online. Other easy food ideas include sophisticated meat-and-cheese boards for adults, homemade pizza cut into small squares, and bowls of miniature candy bars for all to enjoy (just avoid foods that are drippy or difficult to eat in the dark).
Beer and wine are the logical way to go for drinks—they’re easy to pour and can be sipped over the course of a couple of hours as the movie plays. Make them feel special with a bar cart setup complete with pretty ice buckets and attractive melamine glassware rather than disposable plastic.
There are lots of different options when it comes to the key components you’ll need to actually screen your movie: a projector, a screen, a sound system and a media player. If cost is no object and you foresee using these components time and again, there are amazing high-quality inflatable screens and high-pixel projectors on the market. But you’ll have just as much fun with a king-sized white bed sheet hung on the side of your house or garage, a low-cost (or rented) projector, your laptop computer and your best Bluetooth speaker cranked way up.
Just be sure to test your setup before movie night, checking to make sure your connections work and finding out how dark it needs to be outside before your movie shows up nice and bright on the screen.
Fun and Games
An idea we love? As dusk begins to fall, get your guests excited to watch the movie and draw them to their seats with “previews,” like clips from wildlife documentaries and classic cartoons. Consider raffling off a pair of tickets to a movie at a local theater, and plan something participatory for intermission—a trivia game or a toast with a special batched cocktail will help keep the mood festive.
Amalie Drury is an expert on home design and furniture trends, writing on behalf of Crate and Barrel. She has covered related topics as a senior editor for magazine publisher Modern Luxury and as a city editor for women’s lifestyle site PureWow. She has also written for Time Out, the Chicago Tribune and Sophisticated Living.