Summer may be well underway, but it’s never too late to tune up your home for the season. We’ve outlined a small but crucial checklist to ensure that before you get caught up in the swing of things, a few well needed tasks get taken care.
1. Tune up the air conditioner
A very important piece of equipment during the blistering summer heat is your air conditioning unit. Before the season begins, investigate to see what parts are in working condition and what will require replacements. It is especially important to make sure the vent, filters, fans and coils are clean and there is no faulty wiring. For those with central air systems, the best option is professional maintenance.
2. Check the ventilation
Routinely checking your home windows will also help with the temperature regulation in your home. Caulk any openings found in both the outside and inside sealants and also double check each window-stripping to ensure there are no breaks.
3. Conduct thorough safety checks before using the pool
Give yourself at least a week before you open up the pool for swimming. While cleaning and levelling the pool are usually given the higher priority, remember to also check the pumps and filters as a lot of these parts have not been in use since last year. Don’t forget to give the chemicals at least one week to balance out to avoid unnecessary sickness.
4. Pressure wash exterior walls
After months of being exposed to months of harsh weather- snow then spring showers- your exterior walls will need some serious TLC. Prevent the further build up of mildew and dirt by pressuring wash the walls. This is especially handy before you apply that new paint color.
5. Inspect your deck
Investigate your deck boards, beams and posts for rotting and check to see if resealing the wood is required. A simple way to do this is to check the wood absorption capacity. Also check for any loose or corroded nails which will require replacements.
6. Replace and clean old garden equipment
Thoroughly drain any gas left in the tank of your lawn mower since last fall. This can be done by purchasing a siphon pump or by running the mower until the tank dries. Don’t forget to lubricate the necessary parts and replace the spark plug when they start to show wear and tear.
A few simple tasks around the outside of your home each year will ensure a smooth transition to summer and will greatly enhance the beauty of your home. We hope your summer is one to remember!
Let’s be honest. The alternative to not having a backsplash in your kitchen is not pretty. It is a discolored wall due to remnants of dinners long gone and bleach spots from overzealous attempts at removing ugly marks. Without a doubt it is one of the most important features in a kitchen and can speak volumes about the homeowners.
For many of people, the backsplash serves a utilitarian purpose by protecting and preserving the area behind the stove from grease stains, food splatter and ugly smoke marks. While these are definitely important jobs, the backsplash can go a long way in adding to the visual appeal of a kitchen.
One of the greatest features of installing a backsplash is the ability to customize your kitchen to showcase your taste. There is a sea of options available that can cater to each homeowner’s style, all while bringing cohesion to the look and feel of the overall house. You may choose to tie in other design elements featured in separate rooms, like tile colors that match the neighboring family room or the continuation of a pattern used throughout the bathrooms.
Backsplashes come in different colors, textures and even materials. They range from the more trendy mosaic tiles to quirky tin squares that offer a more vintage feel. A well thought out backsplash can also change the perceived size of the kitchen. A backsplash can run the entire length of the kitchen walls or it can be concentrated solely behind the stove. The sky is truly the limit as some home owners may choose to make it the main showcase in the room, going so far as to extend it to the top of kitchen cabinets or even to the ceiling. This in turn affects the overall feel of the kitchen and can create an atmosphere that can be either cozy or industrial.
A backsplash saves on the hassle of constantly repainting walls or reapplying wallpaper and drastically cuts down clean up time to just a quick swipe of a towel. It provides an expression of self that is both extremely functional as well contributes an important design element in any kitchen.
Make sure that the backsplash pattern you have chosen reflects the tone and feel of your home while still expressing your individuality. Please share pictures if you have a creative design or just a beautiful backsplash!
Which would you prefer?
In this final installment of our series we wrap up with our last four pointers on how to successfully rent a space and live there happily!
- Here’s a really IMPORTANT piece of advice. Walk around the property you’re considering and try using your cell phone. Many, many people have rented a place only to find out that they can’t talk on the phone at home. Imagine going outside for reception every time you need to make a call!
- Ask about noise transfer between the walls, ceilings and floors. If you love your music to be loud or you watch movies and play games with surround sound, you might end up in trouble pretty fast if the walls are thin. If you practice bowling in your living room, your downstairs neighbor might not be too happy. Conversely, if you are sensitive to noise or sleep during the day, thin walls and ceiling will become the bane of your existence.
- Consider the climate where you live. All homes are heated, but many don’t have central air conditioning. Think about the activity in your home. If, say, you do fitness in your home, you would absolutely need A/C in July when the heat is at its summer apex. For cold weather management, also inquire about insulation. It will cost considerably more to heat a rental home that is not insulated. Same with vaulted ceilings. They’re pretty but they don’t trap heat very well and can exponentially increase your heat bill.
- Last, but not least, be careful about impulse renting. Amenities, price and locations are just a few of the distractions that can cause you to sign a lease too soon. Take into consideration EVERYTHING that is important to you and choose wisely. Once the lease is signed, you’re committed!
Let’s keep up the good work and continue leaning how to be a savvy renter. Find here the next four pieces of advice for living happily in the home your rent!
- You might want to ask about the size and efficiency of the water heater. For a single person it isn’t likely to be important. But if you have a family and the water heater is small and ineffective, you might end up with a lot of dirty kids, heaped laundry and messy dishes on a daily basis.
- Find out if there is a washer and dryer, or hook ups. You will need to provide your own machines if there are only hook ups. (There are always used ones available on Craigslist.) It’s also good to confirm that the laundry facility is in the apartment. Older communities still have shared laundry facilities that are used by all of the residents.
- If you want to run any kind of business out of the home you rent, give careful consideration. Some leases don’t allow it. Especially if there’s any potential liability. They might evict you for breaking the lease if you operate a business on the property without permission. At a minimum, you might be required to take out a renter’s insurance policy with a broader scope of coverage than is standard.
- Remember personal safety. Ask where the fire extinguisher is, check batteries on smoke alarms, and ask if a carbon monoxide detector can be installed if there isn’t one. Check out all of the doors and window to ensure they are properly installed and can be completely secured, to deter intruders. Find the fire exits, and be especially inquisitive about them in a finished basement. Even if a basement if beautifully finished, it doesn’t offer the same ease of exit as the main part of the home. If you’re going to live in a multi-level apartment complex or a home with windows higher than you care to jump out of, buy an escape ladder. They’re specially made to hang out the window and so you can get to the ground safely if you need to evacuate through a window.
Next read guidelines #17-20. Leave us a comment with a funny story about running out of hot water in the house!
Next in our series, we provide additional pointers on how to successfully rent a space and live there happily! Don’t forget to go back and read Part 1 of tips for renters and Part 2 of tips for renters!
- Determine how much light you need to be happy. If you suffer from depression or seasonal dysphoria, a dark dwelling in a basement apartment is not a good idea. If light is really important, you may also want to narrow your search by dismissing any north facing windows. They do not offer much light or warmth. Also, look for rooms that don’t have overhead light fixtures. You’ll need lamps for those rooms right away.
- Take a look at entries and exits as they relate to moving furniture and appliances. Some properties have exceptionally small doorways and tight hallways. If you have huge furniture you may run the risk of not being able to get it inside. Keep in mind that there is often a window that might solve the problem if both panes are removed.
- If you don’t own much furniture and/or you have very limited space in your new place, favor properties that have built-ins. There will be less to buy and less to move. Many homes have built in desks, armoires, entertainment centers, and so on.
- Consider how you’re going to manage your pets. Most people just ask if dogs or cats are allowed. But, there are lifestyle decisions that are part of owning a pet. For instance, if you don’t like walking your dog three times a day, then you need a yard. If you’re gone all day, you need a doggie door. If you prefer playing in a natural setting or having some alone time with your dog, a city apartment would not be a good idea. City life requires you to leave the building, be in a busy public setting, and walk on concrete. Also, many residences have exotic animal restrictions and don’t allow bunnies, ferrets, or large fish aquariums. With any species, there is almost always an additional cost when you bring along a pet. Typically an extra deposit and sometimes even pet rent. Fido might have to get a job!
Next read guidelines #13-16. Leave us a comment with your worst horror story about an item not fitting through the doors of your new home, and how you overcame it!
#5-8 Advice on pests, parking, furniture and appliances, home improvements.
Continuing our series, find here the next five pointers on how to successfully rent a space and live there happily! Don’t forget to go back and read Part 1 of Tips For Renters!
- Ask about pest control. Many landlords will cover the cost of pest control because it is in the best interest of the property. But if they don’t, you could end up with a costly problem. You don’t want to end up sharing a bed with 16 spiders. Also ask about wildlife in the area if you have small children or pets.
- Inquire about parking. Is there a garage or car port to protect your vehicle from the elements? Or, is it street parking? Are spaces reserved or first come first serve? Find out if parking is an additional cost. Once you know how parking is handled, make a mental note of the furthest potential distance between your car and your potential home. Is it a long way, and does it include stairs or an elevator? You’ll be making the walk on a daily basis so give it thought. If it’s the dead of winter or your carrying eight bags of groceries, two blocks will feel like a mile and stairs will feel like a form of punishment.
- Before visiting properties, make a list of large items you own so can determine if they will fit. Places often seem bigger or smaller than they really are. Once you know, you can plan to sell anything that won’t fit before you move so that you don’t have to move it.
- Determine home improvement changes you may want to make so you can ask if they are allowed. A lot of landlords these days are totally open to cosmetic changes such as flooring, paint, and fixtures as long as you pay for them and get permission first. Some landlords will even deduct the cost from the rent in exchange for you coordinating the upgrade. If you decide to paint, schedule a time prior to your move-in to do so. It is far easier to paint an empty room! To get the most out of your investment, choose upgrades that are easily removed and transported to your next home. For example, light fixtures, bathroom hardware, and temporary flooring.
Next read guidelines #9-12. Leave us a comment telling us the most awesome rental fix-up idea you ever used to improve your space!
There are numerous reasons why you might soon be living in a rental property. Changing locations, leaving home for the first time, or fatigue with the hassles of home ownership are all possibilities. No matter your motivation, there are ways to plan well for the transition. We often stop to consider the most basic facts about a potential new place to live. But, there are actually several details that, if overlooked, could eventually make you unhappy. Here are the first four guidelines to help ensure your happiness in a rented home!
- Gather plenty of resources for finding a new place. Online resources such as Craigslist or Zillow post listings. Save time and energy by learning how to use the ‘favorites’ and ‘alerts’ functions that help you to track your search! Leave plenty of time in your schedule to visit properties.
- Find out how utilities are billed, including gas, electric, water, trash, TV an internet. Are they charged straight to you through a provider, or paid to the landlord? Also, if it’s a multi-unit property, determine if your use is individually metered or evenly distributed among the units. The option of paying all utilities to the landlord is excellent because you will not have to set up or transfer an account, go through the provider’s credit check, or deal with a separate bill each month.
- If you have to pay for curbside trash pickup, set your account up before you move in because there’s typically a lot of trash and recycling involved in a move.
- If you have to pay service providers directly for TV or internet service you can save a lot of money by getting quotes from multiple sources. For instance call, email, go to the website, and do online chat. You’d be surprised how many different prices you get from one company! Also ask about the level of service they’re able to provide in your specific area. Some companies only offer high speed internet in certain places. If a standard internet connection is too slow for your computer use, you want to choose the right company for your needs (gaming, uploading, streaming, etc.)Also ask about bundling these two services to save money and condense two bills into one by going through using the same provider for both.
You’re well on your way to being a savvy renter! Leave us a comment here before you go! Let us know how you find the best deals on internet and TV.
The Fourth of July is almost here. Independence Day means family gatherings, food and decorations. July is an amazing time, the middle of summer; marked by the outdoors, warm nights and fireworks in the evening air. Throughout the country memories are made in very separate locations and yet have much in common with one another, from helping a father with the grill in Seattle to chasing fireflies with neighbors in the Appalachians or waving a flag at a parade in Phoenix.
Creating these memories alongside friends and family can be one of the best inspirations for celebrating and celebrations are often the best time to play music! A perfect playlist fits the mood and rhythm of the occasion and inspire memories down the road for all those listening. The playlist below may just help create those moments for the guests on your special day.
- Born In The U.S.A. – Bruce Springsteen
- Hotel California – The Eagles
- Georgia On My Mind – Ray Charles
- City of New Orleans – Willie Nelson
- Miami – Will Smith
- Texas Women – Hank Williams Jr.
- Save Me, San Francisco – Train
- Rocky Mountain Way – Godsmack
- New York State of Mind – Billy Joel
- Los Angeles – Anya Martin
- Arizona – Mark Lindsay
- Ohio – The Black Keys
- Florida Moon – Gene Mitchell
- Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd
- Viva Las Vegas – Elvis Presley
- Albuquerque – Sons Of The Desert
- Wild Montana Skies – John Denver
- Sunny In Seattle – Blake Shelton
- Sweet Home Chicago – Eric Clapton
- East St. Louis Toodle-Oo – Steely Dan
The above is just a start – can you think of more songs about American cities? Using this list, craft your own collection to inspire mid-summer memories.