Declutter Your Home by Starting Small

We, at some point or another have a messy home.  It is inevitable.  With the busy lives we lead, cleaning our homes are relegated to the weekend, and only if we have no children that have sports meets during those two days. We are busy, there’s no doubt about it.  But, a messy home is very different from being a hoarder.  Clutter is somewhat expected, but hoarding to the point of having no space in your home to live in, is something different.

We tend to do many home improvements in our home that are purely aesthetic, and that’s good.  But, decluttering a home can be, for sure, the beginning of having a beautiful home without spending money.  Getting rid of stuff is good.  Start small.  A closet, or even a closet shelf is all you need to do  to begin the process of decluttering your home.

For more about this topic, follow the links below.


How to Declutter Your Home: Clutter Busting Tips & Tricks!

When your home is cluttered, it doesn’t just feel like your living space is unorganized and messy. It also feels like your life is unorganized and messy. In this “How to Declutter Your Home” guide, we take a look at several decluttering methods to help you find one that’s manageable for you!

Why Is Your Home Cluttered?

This is an important place to start when thinking about decluttering your home. Whether your struggle is that you don’t have an effective organization system, your number of possessions has grown but your living space hasn’t, or a combination of reasons, identifying why you have clutter will help you determine the tips, tricks, and methods that will most effectively help you get started toward a cleaner, more organized home.

You Don’t Have Enough Space

Maybe your home doesn’t have the amount of space necessary to hold all of your things. Or maybe you don’t know how to effectively utilize the space you have. Either way, you need a space-saving solution and/or storage solution.


As Jenny Lee decides 2017 is the year to tackle the clutter in her home, she seeks advice from County Down declutterer Gwen Montgomery.

I AM a hoarder. I’ve always tried to deny it, but now that I’ve admitted it I am determined 2017 is the year I’m going to tackle it and declutter my home.

My home really doesn’t look too cluttered – every now and again I do clear out – the problem is I take an out-of-sight, out-of-mind attitude, and rather than bring stuff to a charity shop or skip, it all just goes into storage upstairs in the attic.

Our house has the potential to be expanded upwards but my dream of our attic being converted into a much-needed office space and playroom is being hampered by it being crammed with clutter – my clutter.


Thinking about decluttering? Start small to build your confidence

Professional organizer Cris Sgrott-Wheedleton joined Post staff writer Jura Koncius last week on our home front online chat. Here is an edited excerpt.

What is the best room of the house to start with when trying to declutter?

I always recommend starting with a smaller area (coat closet, pantry or linen closet). It will make you feel like you’ve accomplished something and will also help you build confidence! Most people get discouraged because they start with larger projects and tend to lose steam after having to make decisions when encountering all of the stuff. By starting small, you avoid the decision fatigue, and it sets you up to feel good about your project and organizing in general.


 

Home Repairs That Can Save You Money

Maintenance is the key to keep your cars running smoothly, your appliances working, and your house looking beautiful.  There are a few maintenance tips for your home that can help you avoid costly repairs later.  Cleaning the gutters of your home and making  sure they are not loose or clogged can save you repairs  due to leaking water to the basement, or damage done to the roof. Making sure the water downspouts adapters are firmly attached, and are taking the water away from the foundation of your home, can save you from having water sitting around the foundation and eventually finding a way to the basement. Prevention is the key to saving hundreds or even thousands of dollars in unnecessary repairs.

For more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


5 Home Repairs to Make Now to Avoid Problems Later

If you put off fixing a wobbly fence post or squeaky door hinge, it’s probably not going to end in a homeowners insurance claim. Other home repairs, if left unchecked, can quickly domino into major disasters. Water is a factor—if not the primary cause—in the majority of high-risk situations. Here’s how to identify priority home repairs and handle them at their source:

Runaway Rainwater

Telltale signs: Rain pouring over gutters and puddling along foundation walls.
Why you need to act: Water can deteriorate siding and foundation walls, eventually finding its way to interior spaces and damaging them.
What to do: Inspect the entire gutter system for clogs and corrosion; you can clear clogs yourself, but if your gutters are corroded, you’ll want to talk to a pro about having them replaced. Check that the soil around your home’s foundation slopes away from the house at least 1 inch per foot for 6 feet or more. Regrade the soil if the slope is insufficient.


Tips from the happy homeowner playbook: Don’t let your cash go down the drain or out the window.

Whether your live in a 19th-century farmhouse or 1990s colonial, chances are you’re leaving real money on the table each year in the form of excessive energy consumption. Simple behavioral changes, such as turning off power-hungry video game consoles, can add up to serious savings. The following energy-efficiency advice also includes high-hanging fruit, like upgrading your water heater and making the investment in rooftop solar.

Eliminate Drafts

Here’s an easy way to pinpoint air leaks in your home that make for drafty rooms in the winter and can drive up annual heating costs by $100 or more. First, turn on every exhaust fan in the house, including a whole-house fan and kitchen range hood, and hold an incense stick up to suspected leaks around windows, doors, and even electrical outlets. If the smoke blows sideways, you have a leak large enough to undermine your home’s comfort and efficiency. For around $30 worth of caulk, weatherstripping, and expandable foam sealant, you can plug the leaks for good.


How to Afford All Your 2017 Home Improvements

A leaky roof or a sagging gutter can be hard to ignore. The same goes for some old-school wood paneling in your den or that hideous palm tree wallpaper you put up in a (misguided) attempt to recreate your honeymoon. Unfortunately, most home improvements don’t exactly come cheap.

In fact, it may even feel like you’re basically saving up another down payment on your home to fix it up. There are some ways, however, to sock some dollars away and have your new sink and bathtub in the new year, too.

Here’s how to work some much-needed home improvements into your 2017 budget.

1. Save

Sure, you may feel inclined to rush into renovations — and when it comes to certain home repairs, things must be readily done. But it still behooves you to save where you can before crossing things off the to-do list. One trick?

“[Set] an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account to take place every two weeks on your payday so that the money leaves your account before you ever have a chance to spend it,” Brian Davis, director of education for real estate blog SparkRental, said.


 

Is Your Sump Pump Working?

This winter in Northeast Ohio hasn’t been bad.  Temperatures are nothing compared to what they used to be a few years back, and snow accumulation has been minimal — my daughter is still waiting for enough snow to build our annual igloo — and unless February brings too much snow to make up for January’s, the climate in Northeast Ohio is not too shabby.

Spring will come sooner than you think.  The rains will undoubtedly come too, and with the rains come flooded basements in many homes around here.  We are humans, and busy humans to boot.  We don’t check many things around the home, unless we have an emergency or pay someone to do it for us.  For example: When was the last time you checked the sump pump to make sure it works? Do you know if you have one?  A sump pump can be an incredible help if you have a flooded basement, and making sure is in working condition can be very beneficial for your whole family.

If you have a sump pump and are wondering what to do, these are some of the basic things you need to check to make sure it’s working properly.

  1. The electrical system of the sump pump can suffer from damages over time.  Power surges during storms can damage it and leave you with a sump pump that no longer works.
  2. If you are testing the sump pump, make sure you go outside to make sure that is discharging the water.
  3. Replace the battery every couple years.
  4. Make sure the motor of your sump pump is not making strange noises when running it.  If it is, follow the manufactures’s instruction to fix the problem, or call a knowledgeable company to fix it for you.
  5. Make sure the drain lines are clean, and will not block the water exits.
  6. Maintenance is key for your sump pump.  The manufacture’s instruction booklet can give you clear instructions on how to properly maintaining your sump pump, and keep it working for years.

If you have already one installed, checking it before the rains arrive can be a very helpful aid when you most need it. Look into the manufacture’s booklet to know what steps to take before you test it, or call a knowledgeable person or company to do it for you.

Looking at any Home Depot, or Lowes store, you will find that there are hundreds of sump pumps to choose from.  Make sure that if you are going to replace the one you have, you need to make sure it is the right one for your home.  A too little or too big sump pump for your home cannot be good and even shorten its life. Talk to a professional if you are unsure what to buy.


Flood Sensors and Other Solutions For Your Basement

When we offer articles in this magazine about cost effective solutions to waterproof your basement, and you think you can do the job by yourself, we want you to think carefully first about the problems that you are facing.  If your basement’s problem is only humidity, a humidifier will do wonders to the place.  If on the other hand you have water sitting on the basement floor or there is seeping as well, the problem is no longer as easy to fix.  A basement waterproofing company with a long history in your community can be the only solution you have.  Contact us, we will offer you a  hassle free consultation for your basement needs.


Flood sensors for your basement

Cnet rating: 4 stars out of 5

The good: D-Link’s Water Sensor is smartly designed and features all the important perks to make it an effective flood detector.

The bad: D-Link’s only real weakness is that it relies on being plugged in, which means power outages are its Achilles’ heel.

The cost: $57 to $90

The bottom line: The D-Link Water Sensor is one of the best flood sensors on the market. If you’re considering buying such a device, this should be the first option on your list — especially if you don’t already use a smart-home hub.

Fibaro Flood Sensor

Cnet rating: 4 stars out of 5

The good: The Fibaro Flood Sensor combines clever design with an open interface, allowing users to creatively pair it with sirens, complementary sensors and more.

The bad: The tilt sensor can be hit-or-miss, and the price is definitely steep, especially if you want to monitor multiple areas at risk of water damage.

The cost: $60

The bottom line: The Fibaro won’t be for everyone, but its versatility and reliable design make it one of the best water sensors for homes at risk of flooding.


Wet basement? Try these cost-effective solutions before calling a contractor.

Wet basement? Thinking about calling a basement waterproofing contractor? Stop.

Many contractors will propose the installation of expensive interior drainage systems — even if you don’t need one — when most moisture problems can be solved through less expensive means. You’re more likely to get good results and save a lot of money by exploring other solutions and hiring a basement waterproofing contractor only if absolutely needed. If your home was built within the past few years, check the builder’s warranty for clauses on seepage.

Most basements get wet when rainwater runs toward the walls of houses from roofs, yards and driveways. So your first step is to force it to run away from your home.

Start by cleaning your gutters, repairing holes, and making sure they slope toward downspouts and have not come loose from the house, allowing water to fall directly from the roof to the ground. Test downspouts to make sure they spill water at least four feet away from the house.


Are You Ready For Anyhting?

Vey few people believe a catastrophe will happen to them.Very few of us protect ourselves for such catastrophes. But when something bad happens, we realize how badly prepare we were.  Before you go out and buy something nice you did not need, or click the mouse and ordered something to clutter your home, ask yourself if you are ready for an eventuality. And if the answer is no, then prepare yourself by reading the articles below.


Cramer’s 3 things you must have in place before you invest

Owning stocks can provide serious earning potential, but Jim Cramer considers it just one piece of the investment puzzle.

“There are some people, call them the 1 percent if you will, who can make enough money from their ordinary day-to-day income to become truly rich. But for the vast majority of Americans, that paycheck is simply not enough,” the “Mad Money” host said.

The key to capital preservation is knowing the importance of saving money and preventing loss. Without this, don’t even think about investing in stocks, he said.

“You can make a fortune in the market, but if you’re hemorrhaging money everywhere else, than a healthy portfolio isn’t going to do you much good,” Cramer said.

The three keys to success in capital preservation are paying off credit-card debt, having health insurance and getting disability insurance. Without these things crossed off the list, investing just doesn’t make sense.


How much homeowners insurance do I need?

You need enough insurance to cover the following:

  1. The structure of your home.
  2. Your personal possessions.
  3. The cost of additional living expenses if your home is damaged and you have to live elsewhere during repairs.
  4. Your liability to others.

The structure

You need enough insurance to cover the cost of rebuilding your home at current construction costs. Don’t include the cost of the land. And don’t base your rebuilding costs on the price you paid for your home. The cost of rebuilding could be more or less than the price you paid or could sell it for today.

Some banks require you to buy homeowners insurance to cover the amount of your mortgage. If the limit of your insurance policy is based on your mortgage, make sure it’s enough to cover the cost of rebuilding. (If your mortgage is paid off, don’t cancel your homeowners policy. Homeowners insurance protects your investment in your home.)


7 ways to protect your financial health with an annual insurance checkup

Natural disasters and other catastrophic events are not fun to talk about. But ignoring the need to insure against catastrophe doesn’t decrease the chance of them happening to you. When (let’s say if) they actually happen to you, it is much more devastating if you don’t have the right insurance coverage.

Homeowners insurance is essential. It is designed to protect your home and possessions. It also shields you from liability for accidents and such. You may think you have already had the discussion with your agent and have no need to examine the risks and coverage each year. If you think this way, carefully consider the many reasons why you need to think again.
1. Your Risks Have Changed: You may be paying for insurance you no longer need. On the other hand, you may need more coverage based on your current life. For example, do you have coverage for the current value of your home. Most homes in our area have gone up in value in recent years. If something happens, insurance based on what you paid will fall short of what you need.


 

Living Responsibly This Year

As of the first quarter of 2016, and according to an article published by Time magazine about retirement, 1 in 3 Americans have saved $0 dollars for retirement.  The difficulties of saving for retirement has plagued the nation by increasing health and car insurance premiums, mortgage payments, college increases and everything else in between. Back in 2013, more than 3 quarters of Americans were living paycheck to paycheck. In 2016, more than half of Americans have less than $1,000 dollars to their names according to a Forbes magazine article, and many people will have difficulty paying for a $400 dollar emergency.

There are many polls and articles about the reason Trump got elected the next president of the United States, and the reason may seem reasonable for those who voted for him; They believe he will make their lives better.

But many economists, analyst,and people that Do know economics believe the top 1% will be the only people that benefit from a Trump presidency.  If you are in the 1%, congratulations! But if you checked the links above and checked the Times’ article, and you are one of those Americans that are living from paycheck to paycheck, then you will have to wait and see if a Trump presidency is beneficial to you.

We, as individuals have to take care of our finances first, before we can take care of many other issues concerning our lives.  Regardless who is the president at the moment, our personal finances are our responsibility and have to take care of them responsibly.

There are many safety precautions we take with our children to live a safe and prosperous life, and here are the 3  insurances we must have to live a responsible life, and to protect our children in case of an accident.

  1. Homeowners Insurance —For many people, their home is their greatest asset.  If they have equity, if their home has gone up in value, or they have done a good job remodeling, chances are the home is their greatest asset.
  2. Disability and Life Insurance— Health insurance is and has been mandatory since 2014.  You must carry a minimum level of health insurance coverage or risk paying a tax penalty fee otherwise. Life insurance isa protection for your family in case something should happen to the main provider.
  3. Car Insurance —In many states in no longer possible to register your car without proof of insurance.  Having enough insurance to protect yourself and any passengers traveling with you at any time is the prudent thing to do.

Living responsibly means taking care of those frustrating issues that we would rather not.  Insurance to protect our assets and the health and well being of our family falls into that category of frustrating issues. Live well and responsibly. Take care of your family issues.


Home Improvement Projects For 2017

We hope you a had a great 2016, and if you made New Year’s resolutions, and home improvements made the list, then this is a good place to start.  For many families, home improvements that they can do themselves is economically sound, and they do tackle those improvements themselves, but there are some home improvements that hiring a professional to do them, is the smart thing to do.  Basement waterproofing is one of those improvements that you do need to hire a professional company to do it, and we will be happy to offer you a free estimate to see if we meet your needs. Contact us, we’ll he happy to talk to you.


5 Home Improvement Projects for the New Year

It happens every January. Motivated by the sense of a fresh start for tackling those home improvement projects that never got done the year before, many of my clients come to me with a wish list of to-dos–primarily inspired by the latest trends in design and remodeling. This year I thought I would beat them to the punch and compile my own list of what I think contractors–and DIYers–will be called upon to do the most in 2013.

1. Install Garage Organization Systems

Why it’s popular: Getting organized is probably the top New Year’s resolution of home improvement enthusiasts. What’s great about starting out with the garage is that the area can then serve a workshop for other projects. Plus, there are just tons of options to choose from in home improvement stores.

Expert tip: It may sound obvious, but remember to leave room for car.

2. Update Lighting

Why it’s popular: Again, because there are so many great options to select from. Home owners can add recessed lights, spotlights, ceiling fans (with light fixtures), under cabinet lights… the list of interesting styles of lights available looks to continue to grow in 2013. My personal favorite for really making an impact fast is the addition of a tube skylight. They can be installed in less than a day and they bring sunlight directly into the home, but they have the profile of a recessed light, so they won’t draw too much focus in the room.


Three easy home improvement projects you can tackle right now

During the milder months — like summer and fall — homeowners naturally tend to prioritize working on the exterior of their houses, because the weather is nice. But in the winter, we’re more apt to tackle smaller home improvement projects inside. This seems like a no brainer, right? After all, no one wants to redo landscaping when it’s 35 degrees outside.

With that in mind, Chip Gaines, host of HGTV’s Fixer Upper and lead contractor/owner of Magnolia Homes, offers these three easy home improvement projects to help you make the most of your winter indoors.

Repaint your walls

While you’re holed up inside the house decorating for the holidays or just escaping the cold, you may start noticing places on your walls in high-traffic areas with one too many scuff marks or kids’ grimy handprints. Whether they come from the kids, the pets or even yourself, erasing them is quick and easy.

KILZ Hide-All primer and sealer can take care of these marks and more. This high-hiding product only needs one hour of dry time before you apply your topcoat, so there’s no need to set aside a whole weekend to cross this project off your list.


Only certain home improvement projects will pay you back

In many markets and today’s economy, most of your home improvement projects and remodeling projects are not going to make you money. You won’t see a good home improvement return on investment for all your remodeling projects. The money that you spend remodeling your bathroom, adding a deck, or finishing a basement will unfortunately not translate dollar for dollar in new home equity.

If you spend $10,000 remodeling your master bathroom, that rarely converts to $10,000 in added home equity if you were to put your home on the market immediately afterward. Some projects have a higher impact or rate of return. One great rule of thumb is that anything with running water, such as bathrooms and kitchens, have a high correlation when it comes to increasing your home’s value relative to the money you spend. Many recent studies have shown that you can only expect a 70% to 80% return on your investment in a kitchen remodel should you decide to sell your home.


 

Buying A Home in 2017? Read this First

Are you thinking about buying a new home this coming year? Chances are, before you are done looking at many houses, you will find one with a wet basement. There are many houses in northeast Ohio that because of their age have problems with the basement, or even the foundation of the house.

If you are buying or selling a home, the basement and foundation of your home are two of the places that can make or break the deal.  A basement with water on the floor can leave the buyer unwilling to make an offer, even if the upstairs is lovely.  If the foundation has problems, it is very unlikely you will get a good offer for the house.

Read more about what to look for when buying or even selling a home by following the links below.


Homebuyers: 7 Red Flags to Search for When Touring a Basement

When you compile your list of must-haves in a home and compare it with what’s on the market, a finished basement is almost always a big plus. You get additional square footage for living, entertaining and storage without having to put up the effort and money to finish the space yourself.

But before you fall in love with that finished-basement abode, approach the space with a critical eye. The basement, after all, houses most of your home’s key functioning systems, from plumbing to electrical and gas. A poorly constructed or maintained space might lead not only to costly repairs, but also cause damage elsewhere in your home.

Consider the consequences of taking on a troubled basement. If the finished below-grade space lacks permits or proper waterproofing or contains amateur craftsmanship, you could face municipal fines or risk sickness-causing mold and future fire hazards.

When it comes time to negotiate with a seller on purchase conditions, consider these basement red flags a bargaining chip to ensure you’re getting a well-maintained home. “I would make sure it got resolved before they actually purchase the home,” says David Schrock owner and founder of Basement Spaces Inc. in Aurora, Illinois.


Tips for a finished basement that’s mold-free

Q. I want to get your input on the correct way to finish, in this case refinish, a basement. I believe the previous owners missed one or two critical steps, causing mold to grow on the backside of the drywall.

The house is about 60 years old with a poured-concrete basement foundation whose walls are in good shape. The concrete walls were not painted/waterproofed on the inside. There are no signs of water leaks or holes in the walls.

The previous finishing was done by putting in untreated 2-by-3s as studs ¼ of an inch from the concrete walls, stapling R13-value pink insulation to the studs, then putting up regular drywall on top of that. Twenty-five years or so later, mold appeared on the bottom portion of the drywall (on the back ), and some of the untreated-wood sill rotted. These items are now gone. There is an appropriate-sized dehumidifier in the basement.

To insulate, seal, and finish the basement properly, what are the best steps for the money that meet the necessary building code standards? It seems there are a number of ways to go about this.


The rise of the basement: Tips for a better space

OMAHA – With fewer homes for sale and good returns on the remodeling investment, more homeowners are reclaiming their lower levels and remodeling their basements.Basements are coming out of hiding these days. And they’re doing it in style, with before-and-after transformations featured everywhere from HGTV to Pinterest and YouTube.

What’s driving this trend? A tight housing market, for one thing. With houses at a premium – and a proliferation of DIY how-to’s – more homeowners are inspired to reclaim their unused space and expand their living area.

A smart, affordable upgrade

Updating your lower level is a sound investment in your home. Remodeling magazine’s 2016 Cost vs. Value Report put the average basement remodel at $61,303, with a 70.3 percent payback – a far better investment return than adding a bathroom or garage.

Props for your property value

Depending on local regulations, the additional space can often be added to your home’s total square footage, making your market listing more appealing to buyers and potentially increasing your property value.

To recoup the most from your remodeling efforts, make sure your design and decorating choices are attractive and functional – not too quirky or customized.


Buying A New Home in 2017?

 

Taking Care of Your Home

Remodeling the basement is not a top priority for many families.  Their budgets do not allow the expense of remodeling a whole basement, or the upper stories offer all the space they need.  But regardless of what your situation is, having a waterproofed basement is a necessity many families need to have.

If your basement is wet, has too much humidity, has mold, or has crack on the walls, you need to have your basement check by a knowledgeable person to determine the damage and to find a solution. 

The many illnesses associated to mold found in basements across the country are many; From eye, nose and skin irritation for those allergic to mold to respiratory system problems that are very dangerous to people’s health.  Wet basements are not a very nice place to be in they are in disarray, but offer the much needed space for a growing family.

Taking care of your home does not begin or end with the basement.  But, the basement and foundation of your home are very important parts of your home that you need to take care if they have problems before looking to fix something else.  These are some other things you can do to protect your home.

  1. Make sure the gutters and downspouts are properly connected, and free of debris.  Make a conscious effort to clean the gutters after the fall to ensure they are free of leaves and make sure the downspouts are taking the water away from the foundation of your home. From 5ft. to 10ft. ensures the water won’t find a way to the basement of your home.
  1. The mulch on the flower beds around the home should not reach above the sealant of the foundation. Flatten the mulch on the flower beds making sure there is no stagnant water anywhere near the foundation.
  1. Have you checked the grading around your home? The cement driveway can over time become unleveled and allow water to sit around the foundation, and inadvertently find a way to the basement of your home.
  1. The roof of your home is an expensive home repair you have to keep in mind.  Many homeowners overlook this simple maintenance home inspection check that can save you thousands if you find the problem quickly. Checking the roof of your home every year allows you to catch a problem before it gets too big.  Loose shingles or curling shingles are some of the first signs you need to check to see if you have a problem with the roof of your home.
  1. The moulding around your exterior windows should be checked periodically to make sure it’s in good condition.
  1. Have you checked your shed? How is the roof? A good quality shed at one of your Home Depot or Lowe’s stores can set you back close to a thousand dollars.  Why not check the roof, walls and doors to make sure they are in good condition, and if not, make the small necessary fixes to prolong its life?

For many of us, our home is the biggest asset we have.  By taking care of our homes, we increase its value while allowing us to live in a place that we can truly call home, and live comfortably ever after.