It’s the end of March and thankfully the winter wasn’t too bad in the tristate area, being hit with only one snowstorm. Spring is officially here, but given how unseasonably warm the winter was, it felt like spring had arrived early. Now, with spring having started last week, we can focus on seasonal activities. At this point in the year, you’re probably thinking about ways you can add some features to your home that will bring more fun in the gorgeous weather. There are many things you can do to your house when the weather is more agreeable, so here are a few we suggest.
If you have young children and a tree in your backyard that’s strong enough, you may want to consider building a treehouse. Not only will it be a constructive outdoor activity, but it will also give you a chance to spend time with your children if they’re able to help you build. Before you start constructing it, make sure the tree can securely hold the house within it’s branches. Even if the tree is perfectly stable, don’t build the house too high, but rather a height you know your child will be able to climb safely and easily. In the end, this will not only be a great bonding opportunity for you and your child, but will also act as a chance for the latter to earn some experience with tools, if they’re old enough to use them.
Spring has sprung, and so has the barbecue and outdoor-party season. For this, a great thing to include on a back patio is a serving station mounted to the wall. You can use it to provide drinks and/or food, and it will add to the party atmosphere of your backyard by subtly letting the guests know this is a house that’s always ready to have a get-together. This project won’t take up much time and will come in handy for when you have guests over. If you don’t want to have too many food and drink tables taking up much space when throwing a party, a serving station may eliminate the need for a table or two.
Speaking of parties, if you have a few that go into the evening, this will be a wonderful excuse to add some lighting. You don’t want to have to bring your guests inside on a beautiful night when it gets dark out, so having some outside lighting for your patio and backyard will allow your guests to stay outdoors and enjoy your parties late into the night. Adding the right outside lighting can provide your house with an enchanting appearance, and will keep your guests coming back for your late-night get-togethers. Whether you want to drape string lights around your patio, position battery-operated candles throughout your backyard, or go exotic and use tiki torches, lighting up the back area of your house will enhance the party atmosphere and allow your guests to stay until midnight or later!
If you anticipate throwing several parties during the spring and summer, you may want to think about building an outside kitchen. Although a regular charcoal or gas grill may have served you well in the past, having an outdoor kitchen will offer a lot more features with which to cook and offer plenty of food that will keep your guests happy and filled. There are so many different kinds of food you can grill, so having an outdoor kitchen with many cooking tools at your disposal will certainly help in providing unforgettable meals for your fun- and food-loving guests.
Do you have a covered patio and/or porch? If so, you may wish to add a hanging daybed. You can lay on it and take a tap, get lost in a book, or just look out on your backyard and take in the springtime scenery. Imagine yourself sitting outside and listening to the crickets and enjoying those tranquil spring evenings as you gently swing back and forth on your daybed. Once this project is finished, you will have a whole new way to relax outside.
Do you have a green thumb? If so, you may want to start gardening. If you plan on potting some plants, you may want to construct a potting bench for yourself where you can keep everything in order. Seeing as you’ll probably be working with multiple gardening tools and several plants at once, you’ll want to have a place where you can keep all of the necessary materials together. Instead of having your tools and potted plants all over the place as you’re working, you’ll have this station to let you stay organized.
Just as the flowers grow in spring, you can let your creativity do the same when constructing new outdoor features for your home, as there is so much you can do to your house in the spring, in between the biking, barbecuing, and sports. Take advantage of the wonderful weather and use as much time as you can outside to provide your home with new touches that will get it ready for a fun spring season. All you have to do is pick out a project(s), grab some tools, and get to work!
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Whether you’re a homeowner looking to sell your home, or a new buyer looking for that place to call home, odds are you have come in contact with your share of real-estate myths. In fact, you may have wished there was a “Myth Busters” type of show that dealt with real estate, to help you separate fact from fiction. While we’re waiting for a show like that to be created, we want to bust some real estate myths based on over 30 years of our experience in the New York and New Jersey real estate industry.
The Late Agent
Movies and television often propagate the myth that real-estate agents tend to be late for meetings, but this is simply not true. No matter what your profession is, there isn’t any excuse to be late for appointments. If something has come up and an agent knows they may be behind schedule, they will contact you right away to give you a heads-up. Being on time is a sign you take your career seriously, and an agent will convey that to their clients. Agents are committed to giving you the best real-estate experience possible, but if you sense anything different, it might be time to find a new agent.
Try to Get as Much as You Can Upfront
When you’re selling a house, you may have heard you should aim to price your home higher than its market value. In short, this will not work. Not only will this deter potential buyers, but this will undoubtedly force you to reduce your price at some point to get it in line with reality. If you price your home to the market at first, you will get an interested buyer much faster, and your house won’t have to spend more time on the market than it has to. There may still be some negotiating involved, but at least you’ll start engaging with potential buyers earlier and more frequently.
Renovate Before Selling
Some say there are two rooms in your home that you should renovate before selling, and they are the kitchen and bathroom. While that may seem like an enticing idea at first, the truth is you don’t know what kind of tastes your potential buyers may have. They may walk into your house and dislike the changes you have made, and they may not want to spend money on big renovations to make the kitchen and bathroom fit their vision. In that case, you have just wasted money on renovations that don’t attract to buyers. If your kitchen and baths work, leave them alone and let the potential buyer have the option to fix it up as they see fit.
Modernized and Luxury Homes Don’t Need to Be Staged
Even if your home is in a nice neighborhood and has an eye-pleasing appearance, that doesn’t mean you can forgo staging it. Staging a home is one of the most important things to do when you place your home on the market. A potential buyer is not just going to look at the exterior; they’ll want to walk through the house and envision themselves in those surroundings. If you don’t stage the house to make it look its best, potential buyers won’t be able to get a proper feel for that environment. Take some time to look around your house to see if there’s anything to clean or improve upon before your agent photographs the house. You want buyers to experience the best your home has to offer.
Just like ghost stories told around a campfire, you shouldn’t believe in real-estate myths. The real-estate industry is complex enough to understand without having these fallacies thrown in. What you should do is talk to your agent when searching for the truth about the current real-estate market. Doing so will keep you knowledgeable during the buying and selling processes and will save you a great deal of annoyance. Consider these myths “busted”!
When you own a home, there will come a time when you want to make some changes to the layout. Maybe you’re getting tired of the look, and you’re now in the mood to try something a little different. If your desired renovations are pretty significant, it would be best to hire a contractor to help bring your ideas to fruition. When you pick a contractor, however, you have to make sure they are going to do the best job possible and not cause you any grief. There are several steps to take in doing so, but these are a few to get you started.
The first thing you should do is ask around for recommendations. When you talk to people whose opinions you trust, such as friends, family, or even your building inspector, chances are they will have several names to provide for you, and inquiring others about contractors will give you a better idea of who you might want to consider hiring. If it were me, I would want to talk with my acquaintances first before checking online reviews because you can actually talk with those of the former group, instead of just reading an online review.
After you have done some research and made a list, begin making phone calls to your possible contractors, and also have all of your questions ready, such as if they are insured and licensed, before you start calling around. This is a big job for your house, so you want to make sure you know what you’re looking for and that the contractors know what you’re looking for. It also won’t hurt to ask your contractor for a list of previous clients. This will give you an idea of their past experiences, which will come in handy because you don’t want to hire just anyone. Also, ask the contractors if they will be working on any other projects at the same time as your home. You want to hire a contractor who is going to be able to commit as much time as possible to your home. So, if they have multiple projects going on, you might want to consider hiring someone who will be a little more flexible.
Once you make your calls and narrow down your list, the next step is to meet with your final choices. This will further help you when choosing a contractor because you will get to see how you interact with them in person. Don’t forget, this individual is going to be working on your home for a period of time (depending on how long it takes to finish the project), so even if you agree with the personalities of your contractors, it will be in your best interest to check with your local Better Business Bureau to see if these contractors have had any arguments with previous clients. This is something you need to find out because you have to be sure that you hire someone with whom it will be easy to communicate in a friendly and professional manner. If you’re making changes to your home, the last thing you need is a contractor who’s going to cause problems.
After you meet with your final choices, it will greatly benefit you to contact some of those contractors’ past clients and ask how they felt about those contractors. Without being intrusive, ask those clients if they wouldn’t mind letting you see their finished products. This is pretty much the equivalent of contacting a person’s references on a job application and will give you an idea of the quality of work that these contractors will be doing on your home. All of this feedback from past clients can be an important factor that determines whether or not you decide to hire a certain contractor.
Making considerable changes to your home is a time-consuming task, and you want to make sure that it goes smoothly. In order to make that happen, you have to hire the right person, so take your time in researching who you would like to work with. Once you find your contractor, you will then be ready to remodel your home!
Today is Earth Day, the time of year where we give an extra boost of awareness to the importance of being eco-friendly. Although this is only a one-day observance, you should take the initiative to go green all year and do whatever you can to make Earth cleaner. The place where you can begin is your own home, so here are some actions you can take to start your commitment to bettering the environment.
We’ll begin with one of the biggest steps, and that is to install solar panels on your roof. Lately, I’ve been seeing more and more homes with these panels, and it’s easy to understand why they’re becoming increasingly popular; not only do these panels help you save money on electricity, but they will also add more value to your home if you ever decide to sell it. The EPA and Department of Energy will even provide Americans with tax credits for using solar energy. After reading some of these benefits to solar panels, I really hope you consider this valuable addition to your home.
In terms of electricity, there are several things you can do to make sure you don’t waste it, one of which is to turn off any lights in a room if you won’t be using that space for a while. Also, if you have an exhaust fan in your bathroom that you turn on before getting in the shower, don’t set the timer for longer than you expect to be showering. For any electronics that might require a charger, make sure to unplug the charger once the appliance’s battery is full. The charger can still draw energy when it’s left in an outlet, even if it doesn’t have the device plugged into it, so make sure to unplug your charger once you’re done using it. I’m sure you can think of at least 10 other ways you can save electricity, but these are a few to get you started.
Speaking of saving energy, you might want to consider switching from incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs. If you don’t care for the glow of the CFL bulbs, even just using one or two in your home can hinder the emissions of hundreds of pounds of greenhouse gases. According to the National Park Service, if every household in the U.S. replaced just one incandescent bulb with an energy-saving bulb, we would decrease global warming pollution by more than 90 billion pounds during the life of these bulbs. After reading that bit of information, you might want to save reading the rest of this post for later so you can take some time to go out and purchase a couple of these energy-saving bulbs.
When recycling, you should really have separate containers for paper and plastic products. You probably won’t have too many spacial issues with plastic products, but as far as the paper products go, if you have to put something in the container that will take up a lot of space, like a pizza box, make sure to fold it or cut it up to make it easier to throw out, which will leave room for other discarded paper products.
To limit your use of too many water bottles, commit to drinking more tap water. I know that might not be ideal for some, but if you’re worried about the content of your tap water, have a water softening system installed in your home. It will take any unwanted substances out of your water, and you can then use a stainless-steel bottle and refill it with tap water whenever you need it, instead of buying a bottle of water every time you’re thirsty. Once you have clean tap water, you might as well use it.
If you buy canned drinks with the six-pack plastic rings on top, be sure to cut them up before you throw them out, in order to prevent any animals from getting caught in them if they come in contact with the plastic.
As you’re saving water, it always helps to either take shorter showers or purchase shower heads that lessen the water pressure. Also, when you brush your teeth and shave, don’t keep the water running. Even though these two tasks don’t take up much time, you will be surprised at how many gallons of water you can waste if you keep it flowing.
It has started to get warmer out, which means you’re going to start firing up your air conditioner. I know it may seem tempting to leave it on all day when you’re not at home because you want to come back and be instantly cooled down, but doing this is a severe waste of electricity. If you turn the air conditioner on when you get home, it won’t take long for you to cool off, so there isn’t much of a point to keeping the AC on all day if there isn’t anyone home. Also, if there happens to be a summer night with a refreshing breeze, save some electricity and open a few windows to cool down. Sometimes, it might not seem that a breeze will be as effective as an AC, but on certain nights, it’s the way to go.
Although Earth Day only comes once a year, you should definitely do your best to make your home more eco-friendly. You don’t have to completely change your lifestyle to make this happen, but you can take small steps here and there to live a greener life. Whatever you do to accomplish this, it will all make a difference.
You’ve just bought a home. Your furniture is all set up. Everything has been put in its proper place. All of the empty boxes have been put away. You have finally settled into your new surroundings. You have met your (hopefully friendly) neighbors. What’s next on the list? Throwing a housewarming party, of course! This is a fun, yet important, step in your transition to your new home because you want your neighbors to know you are fun and outgoing. With that in mind, here are some tips on how to host a fun housewarming party.
We’ll start off with what you definitely need to have: food, and lots of it. Yes, guests will come to the party for the people, but food is always one of the top attracters. For appetizers, have a decent assortment of finger food, such as chips and dip or antipasto, to tide over your guests until dinner. Now that the weather is much more pleasant, having your party outdoors can allow you to show off your grilling skills, so make sure to buy plenty of food for the fire if you intend to grill. For dessert, consider a platter of cookies, a tray of brownies, a chocolate cake, or anything sweet to cap off a delicious dinner.
If you’re hosting an outdoor party, your guests will be spending most of their time in the backyard. Although that may be the case, take some time every so often during the party to give small groups of your guests a tour of the home. This is a way to show that you are proud of your new home and excited to show it to your neighbors. It is a housewarming party, after all.
A party isn’t a party without music. Make sure to have a fairly diverse collection of genres, as a way to please the varied tastes of your guests. If the party is outdoors, be considerate and have your music play at an acceptable volume, just so you’re not disturbing anyone on your block who may not be at the party. Also, although this is a party, it’s not a dance party or a rave, so as far as music is concerned, go with anything that doesn’t seem too abrasive for a housewarming occasion. Maybe think about sticking with the classics, such as music from Billy Joel, Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, or Elvis.
To provide your guests with something to do when they’re feeling active, consider setting up a badminton net or a horseshoes court. It will add some more fun to the get-together and encourage friendly competition among the guests.
Although you obviously should never ask your guests to bring a gift, some of them might. If that’s the case, make a list of those who bring a housewarming gift and what they brought; then, begin writing those “Thank You” notes. Don’t let too much time pass between the party and sending them out. Timeliness will let your guests know that you really appreciate the gifts that were given to you.
You want your neighbors to have positive first impressions of you, and putting on an enjoyable party will certainly help in establishing friendly connections with your neighbors. Remember, you’re going to be living near these individuals for however many years, so you want to make sure they form a favorable opinion of you. With all of this being said, once you’re done unpacking, start making friends!