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Courtesy of Dave Lewis

Final Walk-Through: What to Expect at your Final Walk-Through before Closing

Final Walk-Through: What to Expect at your Final Walk-Through before Closing
It’s smart to perform a final walk-through before closing. It’s your last chance to make sure the home you’re about to buy is in the condition you’re expecting. Here’s some great tips that you may not have thought of in preparing for your final walk-through.

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Financing: Advice for Homebuyers

Financing: Advice for Homebuyers

This YouTube channel, provided courtesy of Chase, offers the ins and outs of mortgages, how the loan process works and how to select a lender. Worthy of viewing regardless of whom you select as your lender.


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Staging your Home: Advice for Sellers

Staging your Home: Advice for Sellers

Ten inexpensive real estate staging tips to help create a ‘mood’ or ‘emotion’ to entice and connect with potential home buyers.


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First-Time Homebuyer Tips: Things to Know when Buying your First Home

First-Time Homebuyer Tips: Things to Know when Buying your First Home

First-time homebuyers need to keep their ownership goals in mind and make sure to not rush into decisions or feel pressured. This video offers some great lessons from real first-time home owners.


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Five tips for creating a stadium-style lawn in your own backyard

 


Many homeowners think a professional-looking lawn requires a stringent water and fertilizer regimen. While both water and fertilizer play their part, neither is the stand-alone key to a perfect lawn. The following five tips offer homeowners simple solutions to achieving a great yard.

* Know your region. Grass seed is not one size fits all. Select the right grass seed or sod based on where you live. It’s also important to consider how you plan to use your lawn. Do you have children and pets that will be playing on it regularly, or will the purpose be primarily curb appeal? To determine the right grass, talk to your local garden center or contact the turf grass specialist at your state agriculture school.

* Only feed as needed. According to Grass Seed, a coalition of grass seed farmers, many homeowners over water their lawns, which does more harm than good. A simple trick to determine whether your lawn needs watering is to stick a screwdriver into the grass. If it enters the dirt easily, your lawn has plenty of water already. If you have trouble getting the screwdriver into the ground, it is time to give the grass a drink. It is also recommended to fertilize your lawn at least once a year. However, putting your lawn on a quarterly schedule will help achieve optimal health.

* Break out the ruler. The maintenance crews for professional sports fields are meticulous about the height of their grass because it ensures a uniform look. Grass Seed recommends maintaining a lawn height of about 2 inches. It’s important not to cut more than one-third of the grass height at a time to minimize damage, so aim to mow when your lawn is about 3 inches in height.

* Arm yourself with the right tools. The proper equipment can take a lawn from looking well-manicured to professional. When selecting a mower, don’t jump straight to those that pick up the grass clippings. Allowing the clippings to decompose in the lawn will add to the overall health of your yard, and when you mow often, the shavings are small and less noticeable. Adding an edger to your arsenal is another great trick for cleaning up the lines and defining your yard.

* Replenish as necessary. Grass is a natural carpet that cleans and repairs itself. It’s equipped to withstand a number of elements yet is impacted over time. If you’ve noticed that your lawn is sparse in areas, or not as full and lush as you’d like, it may be time to add more seed. The best time to plant new seed is in the fall when the temperatures are more temperate. But reseeding may be done throughout the year. The important thing is to avoid drastic temperature changes and water regularly, yet moderately, to give the seed time to absorb moisture and build roots.

Growing and maintaining a lush green lawn doesn’t have to come with a backache. Basic planning and these five quick tips will have you well on your way to a backyard prime for the summer season.

Low-maintenance exterior upgrades that add value and style to your home


Consider these top exterior projects that will increase your home’s value and curb appeal. And, because they’re low-maintenance, you’ll get more time to enjoy the beauty of the season.

Fence, railing or deck upgrades: no painting or staining required

If you’re updating or replacing your fencing, patio or deck railing or an entire deck, you’ll want to select the right wood for the job. If you like pressure-treated lumber, but don’t want to have to paint or stain the wood, then ProWood Dura Color is for you. Each piece is color-infused through and through, and has the natural color characteristics and appearance of cedar or redwood, but won’t fade to silver or gray over time, like untreated lumber.

“People like the natural look of redwood and cedar, but they don’t want the drawbacks that come with them, such as the high price and the fact that they fade to gray,” says Chris Fox, product manager at Universal Forest Products. “ProWood Dura Color products not only look like natural cedar or redwood, their color lasts much longer and they’re backed with a lifetime limited warranty against termites and rot.” What’s more, all ProWood Dura Color lumber boasts a two-year color assurance warranty.

How is ProWood Dura Color different? Colorant is infused deep into the wood’s fibers during the treating process, eliminating the need to paint or stain. You’ll get natural-looking lumber with color that’s guaranteed to last. Visit www.ProWoodLumber.com for more information.

Use ProWood Dura Color for your deck addition. A wood deck addition has great return on investment - 77.3 percent, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report. Plus, you’re sure to enjoy the expanded outdoor living space.

Exterior door updates are functional and fashionable

If you look at your home from the street, do you like its curb appeal? If not, maybe it’s the doors. The doors that mostly affect the style and function of your home’s exterior are the entryway and garage doors. If yours are dated, drafty and always need painting, it’s time for new, modern options, and they may cost less than you think.

The average cost to replace a steel entry door is $1,137, according to the Cost vs. Value Report, and the cost recouped when you sell the house is 85.6 percent. Your new door will look great and help keep your home energy efficient too.

Garage door replacements come with a similar price tag, averaging $1,496, according to the report, but you’ll recoup 75.7 percent when it’s time to sell. A garage door upgrade is functional as well as beautiful - because it takes up so much visual space on your home’s exterior, a new garage door can set the tone for your home’s personality. Plus, most of today’s options are low-maintenance and don’t require annual painting.

Cut energy bills and seasonal drafts with new windows

If you ignore or delay window maintenance, you’re not alone, but doing so could be costing you more money than you think. Windows - particularly old ones - can be a lot of work. Wood windows need annual maintenance to avoid deterioration and rot, single pane windows need to be insulated and sealed during cold seasons, and screens need repair when warm weather approaches.

Take a look at your windows and determine which can be repaired and which need to be replaced. New windows have so many technological advancements that they’re virtually maintenance-free and often come with a lifetime warranty.

New windows with multiple panes, low-emissivity coatings, gas treatments between the panes and other advancements make new windows a worry-free addition. New vinyl windows have a return on investment of 71.2 percent, according to the Cost vs. Value report.

Whether your next home improvement project is big or small, researching low-maintenance options today will help ensure your home looks good for many years to come. Plus, you’ll have more time to enjoy the long sunny days with a refreshing drink in hand rather than a hammer and drill.

What lies beneath your dream home? New homeowners skip sewer line inspections

A sewer line inspection is not included in the standard home inspection and is regularly waived in the purchasing process. Additionally, many buyers do not know that responsibility for the condition of the lateral sewer line leading from the street to the home lies with the homeowner, not a municipality. Buyers should reconsider including this important step before they sign a deal.
If a problem occurs, a sewer line replacement costs at least $4,500, but prices vary widely and costs increase dramatically by region, depending on depth and length of the underground pipes and if street repairs become part of the issue.
Experts at Roto-Rooter, North America’s largest provider of plumbing repair and drain cleaning services, encounter this scenario far too often. Consumers, who just signed the dotted line on their dream home, soon find that they’re trapped in an expensive plumbing nightmare.
"Just a couple of years after purchasing our home, we had a $15,000 sewer line disaster in our lap," says Jennifer Schappacher of Cincinnati. "The sewer line clogs began not long after we moved in, but as they became more frequent we had Roto-Rooter inspect the line with a video camera and only then did we realize the pipe had offset sections and a partial collapse that was causing sewage to back up into our house."
The Schappachers looked at only a few houses before deciding on one in a quiet shady neighborhood. It was charming with large, mature trees that shaded the entire street. But since the house was built in 1959, its concrete and clay underground sewer pipes were vulnerable to heavy root intrusion from the big trees. As those roots entered the pipe joints in search of water, they pushed the pipes apart and allowed surrounding soil to spill into the pipe, narrowing a 6 inch diameter pipe to just 1 inch in some sections.
Generally, a plumber can complete a sewer line camera inspection for $250 to $550, depending on the region. While not cheap, it’s a relatively small price to pay when buying a home, especially if it helps a buyer avoid thousands of dollars in unforeseen repair bills.
To avoid unexpected and costly plumbing problems, the experts at Roto-Rooter recommend having a plumber conduct a video camera sewer line inspection, in addition to a standard home inspection, before buyers purchase a home. The process involves passing a waterproof fiber optic video camera through the pipe. The specialized cameras are equipped with bright LED lights so the inspection will reveal any cracks, breaks, offset or collapsed sections of pipe. The plumber will often provide a DVD copy of the inspection as part of the service.
"Sewer inspection camera equipment is expensive and often is only utilized by well-equipped plumbing companies, but the video inspection service itself is easy to complete and well worth the extra step," says Roto-Rooter master plumber Larry Rothman.
Root growth is the most common cause of sewer line damage and is often responsible for blockages and separated pipe sections. Outdated and eroding pipe materials are also a common culprit in sewer line deterioration. Older pipes are much more susceptible to root intrusion than new plastic pipe.
Inspections are especially important if:
* The home is 20 years or older.
* There are mature trees around the property.
* The home has been vacant for a period of time.
* The concrete surrounding the home is cracked or raised.
* There is considerable visible root growth in the yard.
Many homeowners, especially new homeowners, do not know or think about their home plumbing. For seasonal maintenance tips and general information, visit Roto-Rooter’s plumbing basics section online at www.rotorooter.com/plumbing-basics.

Cost of home fire sprinklers at all-time lows; benefits still high


A new study reveals that the price of residential fire sprinkler systems has dropped significantly, creating an opportunity for safety-minded homeowners to tap the many benefits of sprinklers.

The average per-foot cost of a residential fire sprinkler system was $1.61; the average per-foot cost has plunged to $1.35, according to a report by the Fire Protection Research Foundation. Multipurpose systems that use a home’s cold-water supply, rather than a separate piping system, are even more affordable - just $1.23 per square foot, the report found.

And costs are likely to drop even lower, one expert says.

“More communities are considering, or have already implemented, fire sprinkler requirements for new, single-family homes,” says Eric Skare, a volunteer firefighter and fire safety systems product manager for Uponor North America (www.uponor-usa.com), an Apple Valley, Minn.-based sprinkler system manufacturer. “Growing demand has resulted in increased competition and lower installed costs for these systems. Manufacturers competing for market share continue to develop lower-cost products to ensure the cost-effectiveness of residential fire sprinkler systems.”

The lower cost is good news for anyone interested in protecting their home with a fire sprinkler system, Skare says. The benefits of such systems are many:

* Eighty percent of all fire deaths occur in residential fires. While functioning smoke alarms reduce the risk of home fire fatalities by 50 percent, sprinklers slash the risks by 80 percent, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

* Multipurpose systems - like those provided by Uponor - reduce the amount of piping needed to supply sprinkler systems because they tie into a home’s existing cold-water plumbing system. Instead of two piping systems - plumbing and fire-sprinkler - the builder need install only one, reducing material, labor costs and jobsite-scheduling hassles, saving 35 percent to 65 percent in installation time over standalone, rigid CPVC systems. That, in turn, should result in a lower cost to the home buyer.

* Homeowners insurance companies provide an average premium discount of 7 percent to homes with fire sprinkler systems, according to the Fire Protection Research Foundation.

* Home fire sprinkler systems act quickly to reduce heat, flames and smoke from fire, giving families valuable time to safely get out of a burning home. “Sprinklers extinguish most home fires in seconds, before the fire department arrives and before major damage can occur,” Skare notes. In fact, sprinklers are far less damaging than fire hoses used by firefighting teams. One study in Scottsdale, Ariz., found the average fire damage loss for a home without sprinklers was more than $45,000; with sprinklers, losses shrink to slightly more than $2,100.

* Sprinklers enhance home value. Forty-five percent of homeowners prefer a home with fire sprinklers and nearly 75 percent say the presence of sprinklers increases a home’s value, the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition reports.

Perhaps the most compelling argument in favor of sprinklers is the cost-to-value ratio. The average total cost for installing a multipurpose fire sprinkler system is around $6,000, according to the Fire Protection Research Foundation report.

“That investment could buy your family the extra time they need to escape a home fire,” Skare says.

 

Decorating your home with chandelier lighting and other accessories

If you are planning on making some decorative changes around the home this year, there are many lighting accessories that you can choose from. From installing elegant and regal chandeliers to simple table lamps and everything in between, finding the right pieces for the best price is easy once you know where to look and what to look for. There are many sites online that offer an amazing array of products that can light up the mood in any home, but not all are created equal.

Before you are ready to shop, consider how you want your home to look once your design ideas have come to life. The last thing you need is to have a chandelier that does not fit well in the space you intended for it to go. Taking measurements, deciding on style, color and effect are all part of the planning process when it comes to finding the right lighting accessories for your home, but it is especially important to do with chandeliers.

Of course, not every lighting remodeling project is limited to chandeliers, but can include a wide range of other options to consider as well. Table lamps, wall lights and standing floor lamps all work to add their own effect in the space they are going to be used. While light is simply light, how it is reflected in the house depends on anything from the color of the lampshade to the tint of chandelier crystals. You can change one crystal to red, and end up having a red lighting effect on the entire room.

This is just one example of things to consider when deciding how to develop a lighting scheme for the home. It is not just brightness, but effect, mood, comfort and feel as well. Lighting accessories can do wonders when it comes to the way in which light beams throughout the home as well as the mood it creates.

With table lamps, the process isn’t as involved and it is pretty easy to decide what will look good and what will not. Taking a picture of some of the table lamps that interest you can help to pick the right one for your particular layout and the effect you want to create. Consider color and shade as well as the impact it has on the lighting of the entire room.

So, from easy to involved, the type of lighting you choose for your home will determine the amount of planning and visualizing that it will require. While the process is not that complicated or time consuming, skipping the preparation and research phase of any remodeling project can lead to unsatisfactory results. Making the effort now will save a lot of trouble down the line as well as ensure that you are happy with the look that you created for your home.

There are many sources online to find the best lighting accessories for your needs as well as for your budget. A good retailer will not only have a wide range of fixtures and other items available for sale, but they should also include a section for tips, suggestions and product information that will help you to make the best decision. They should also have a solid return policy as well as product guarantee in case you are unsatisfied with your purchase.

That being said, there are limitless options available online for anything from chandeliers to table lamps or red chandelier crystals, and it is easier than ever to order and have them delivered to your house. Keep in mind that you will need to wait a little while for the items to be shipped to your home, but that can be a benefit in and of itself because you can do the work necessary to prepare for installation. Whether you are ordering lighting accessories for the first time, or are a seasoned decorator, you will be amazed at the quality, selection and prices of a wide range of products found at an online chandelier store today.

by: Kathryn Dawson 
http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_6896.shtml 

Protect large investments with small home fixes

Today’s consumers are under mounting financial pressure at every turn, and are forced to be much smarter in buying decisions, especially for major investments. One big investment every consumer needs protected is their house and property. This is especially true as warmer weather arrives. From simple preparations like servicing your heating and cooling system units (HVAC), to protecting yourself against unexpected home emergency repairs, many homeowners often overlook simple measures that can end up having costly consequences.
 
"One challenge of home ownership is that the potential for expensive repairs is always out there," says Tom Rusin, CEO of HomeServe USA, a provider of emergency repair service plans. "While unexpected problems can never be completely avoided, there are measures homeowners can take to protect their home now, and avoid costly repairs later."
 
Here are five tips:
 
Service your air conditioner: 
 
Spring is the perfect time to get your air conditioner into shape before the hot summer months. To ensure your system runs as efficiently as possible, replace your air filters at the beginning of the season, and ideally every 90 days. This will keep your air cleaner, reduce energy consumption and extend the overall life of your HVAC system. Another simple step is to clear away any debris from your outdoor AC unit, which will improve airflow around the unit. Also, make sure your vents are open and not blocked by furniture or any other items.
 
Check out your heating system:
 
Spring is the perfect time to make sure your furnace is in full working order before a winter emergency occurs. Consider heating system coverage for emergency repairs not generally covered by home insurance.
Protect%20large%20investments%20with%20small%20home%20fixesCurb unanticipated financial responsibilities with extra protection:
Homeowners insure their homes to protect it from unanticipated home emergencies - such as broken water service lines - as well as for peace of mind. However, homeowners often don’t know where their utility company’s responsibility ends and theirs begins. Many are surprised to find out they are typically responsible for repairs to the pipes and wires in and around their home (as the local utility is usually not responsible for these emergency repairs).
 
Look closely at your home insurance policy and check if your utility offers an emergency service contract. If not, consider signing up for an emergency repair service plan that covers gaps in your home insurance policy, which can range from exterior water and gas lines to plumbing and drainage systems to complete electrical and heating/cooling configurations. HomeServe USA offers affordable emergency repair service plans, starting around $5 a month, to cover plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems not typically covered by homeowner’s insurance, and will dispatch a local, licensed and insured contractor to make the necessary repairs.
 
Ensure your home is properly ventilated:
 
Excess moisture in homes can tarnish expensive fixtures, cause paint to peel and accumulate in wall cavities which can lead to the growth of mold and mildew. To avoid moisture build-up, make sure basements and crawl spaces are free of water infiltration. Check that dehumidifiers or kitchen and bath ventilation fans are working properly to remove excess moisture. If not, a small investment today could not only save you money in the long run, but also provide cleaner indoor living environment for you and your family.
 
Prevent excessive energy bills:
 
Random air infiltration through gaps and cracks is a leading cause of energy loss in homes, accounting for 25 to 40 percent of energy loss in most residential structures, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Air sealing and insulation is one of the most cost-effective ways to get the highest return on investment for the home, since the monthly amount saved on heating and cooling bills often exceeds the cost for these improvements. Home improvement retailers offer a variety of inexpensive (less than $15) insulating foam sealants that homeowners can apply to gaps and cracks around the home to literally “seal” against unwanted airflow to reduce energy bills.
 
As you start slathering on sunscreen this season, think about not only protecting your skin, but protecting your home with simple fixes that can keep it as healthy as can be.

Dave Lewis Dave Lewis
15023 Gulf Blvd
Madeira Beach, FL 33708

727-278-4761


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