Home Inspection: What to Expect and What to Look for Before You Sign

Everyone I know is a bit skeptical when it comes down  to signing documents for home contractors, inspectors, insurance agents , etc. One of the reasons is that everyone is a bit afraid to sign.  Unless you know the contractor or home inspector, chances are you are dealing with a stranger you know nothing about.  You don’t know if they are trustworthy or competent, or whether they belong to an association where they have to follow a code of ethics. 

Asking some basic questions before you sign a contract can truly save you a lot of headaches later on.  You are the paying customer, ask them questions to make sure everyone is satisfied before the work begins.

For more about home inspectors, follow the links below.


Top home inspection deal breakers

A home inspection can be stressful for both parties. Almost every inspection comes back with at least some sort of repair and, most often, those problems are minor and easy enough to negotiate. However, there are some deal breakers that can cause buyers to run for the hills.

Mold

Erin Craft, home inspector with Destination Bay Home Inspections, says this is one of the biggest problems that can potentially kill a deal.

“We see this issue in attics, basements, or crawl spaces,” he said. “There is a lot of fear when it comes to mold, and we’ve had buyers stop us right in the middle of the inspection and say they are walking away. They see it as a huge risk, both to their health and their wallet.”

However, Craft says before ditching the deal, consider doing a bit more investigating, especially if it’s a home you really love.


Make sure you understand terms of service before paying a home inspector

I was buying a house and hired a home inspector. We went through the whole inspection, and I even paid him his fee. Then he gave me a form that indicated that he would not give me the written report unless I signed a document.

The document stated that I agreed that I could only get back the $400 I paid him in case there was a problem with the inspection or his report, or I could pay him an extra $1,500 and the cap would be eliminated. Don’t you think that he should have told me this before I hired him? He’s a member of ASHI.

We think it is highly questionable that a home inspector would spring those terms on you so late in the game. ASHI stands for the American Society of Home Inspectors, and they have a code of ethics. Among their code is a requirement for the home inspector to “act in good faith toward each client” and that ASHI inspectors should “avoid activities that harm the public, discredit themselves or reduce public confidence in the profession.”


Dear Monty: Agent tells home seller not to attend home

Q: We accepted an offer on our home. The contract is subject to a satisfactory home inspection. Our agent called to set up a time for the inspection and asked us to vacate the house. My thinking is that if there is some discovery made during the investigation that both parties observing will aid in understanding the issue. Do you agree with her suggestion?

A: Most of the states that regulate inspectors are seeking inspections that reveal “significant” material defects that negatively affect the value of the property or create a concern for safety that is not apparent at the times the buyer viewed the home. The customer can overlook the fact this is a pre-owned home. They sometimes compare a pre-owned home inspection with the “certified” used car. Most every home has a wart somewhere, which is the buyer’s responsibility unless the seller agreed to remove the wart as part of the contract. Education of all participants, which requires investing time, is a key to ensuring a home inspection goes smoothly.


 

Inspecting Your Home For Damages

After a nice holiday break, how about making a through inspection of your home?  Many of the issues we have at home can be remedied right away with a through inspection of its surroundings. Water sitting around the foundation of your home because the drainage system in your home is faulty, can be remedied by cleaning the gutters, replacing them or fixing them if damaged, and making sure the water drains away from the foundation of your home.

Tree branches that are too long are okay if there is not wind during a storm, but you do not want them damaging windows, roof or siding during a storm.  Trimming all bushes that are growing too big around the foundation should be taken care of as well.

For more about this topic, follow the links below.


Waterproofing Basements

Learn how to spot a water problem in your basement, and get tips on how to resolve the issue before it causes serious damage to your home.
“Wet basement” is a phrase that strikes fear into the hearts of most homeowners. More than half of U.S. homes have this problem, according to the American Society of Home Inspectors. The most typical causes are condensation, runoff and groundwater swelling. Solutions depend on the cause of the problem and can range from using a dehumidifier to installing a perimeter drain system. If you notice dampness and a musty odor when you enter your basement, you may be experiencing the first signs and should make it a priority to combat the water before more serious damage occurs to your home.

Considerations

  • Never ignore a persistent musty smell.
  • Find out the cause of a wet basement before beginning any modifications to your home.
  • Seek professional advice before attempting to combat a groundwater swelling problem.

5 tips to keep your home safe from nature’s tricks

All it takes is one storm to cause damage to your home. You need to make certain your house is prepared to withstand rain, wind and other possible damage.

The following are five suggestions to keep your home safe from natural damages. These are simple tips to get your house on the path to safety.

  1. Keep surrounding trees healthy

Unfortunately, the same trees that give you shade during a sunny day can give you damage on a stormy one. Make sure your trees are healthy and appropriately pruned. You may want to consider removing the tree if it is dead or too close to the house without a good root system.

A little maintenance and upkeep now may save you from a tree or branch falling on your home later.

Remember to always be careful when trimming your trees. Better Homes and Gardens points out, “Trimming branches that threaten power lines avoids serious problems, but leave this task to the pros. Large dead or dangling branches should be removed, as well as branches that could interfere with vehicles or lawn mowers. Branches that contact the house on windy days should be cut before they cause damage.”


House Works: Drying basements with dimpled membrane and wet wood with fans

Dimpled Drainage Membrane Really Works

Q: Is dimpled drainage membrane worth putting around a basement wall? We’re installing weeping tiles this year to make a wet basement dry, but the contractor doesn’t want to use dimpled membrane. He says they only use it in southern areas because they put sand around basements. He wants to use gravel only. Does this make sense?

A: The short answer is “no”, this advice doesn’t make sense. It always amazes me how some contractors can latch onto ideas that have no merit in reality. They’ll usually say something like “I’ve been doing it this way for 25 years and never had a problem,” even though it’s difficult or impossible to thoroughly check previous jobs. The fact is, dimpled drainage membrane offers a huge advantage for keeping basements dry no matter where a person builds. I’ve seen it cure wet basements everywhere.


 

Home Issues You Should Not Ignore

According to research done by the MacArthur Foundation between 2012 and 2014, more than half-52%-of Americans have had to make sacrifices in order to pay their mortgage.

Recent research also shows that almost 12 million Americans spend more than half of their income on housing ,which according to many analysts, that is way too much. They believed you should spend 30% of your income on housing, and considering you need to put aside 1% of the buying price of your home for yearly maintenance, that is a big stretch for many families.

The 1% you need to  put aside for maintenance does not include home insurance, that is only for the upkeep of the house.  Some of the upkeep includes, but is not limited to these:

  1. Basement waterproofing
  2. Loose shingles on your roof or other major roofing problems
  3. Fixing and restoring the rain gutters in your home
  4. Basic yard and gardening upkeep
  5. Air conditioning and the Ventilation system in your home
  6. Siding that comes loose or needs replacing
  7. Critter Infestation? Do you need to replace vents, or siding due to squirrels or other critters in your home?
  8. Painting a room or two require many supplies. Budget for them. Basic painting keeps the house looking pretty and healthy.
  9. Installing a humidifier in your basement can save you money and some headaches down the road.  Buying a good quality one is the only way to go.
  10. Leaking faucets can damage the wood under the sinks, the floor and even the walls in your home.  Don’t ignore them even if they don’t seem to be leaking too much.  You would be surprised the amount of water it can waste in just a few days.

Every home is different and so are the people living in them.  The issues listed here may not seem a problem to you, while they can be huge catastrophes for others. This list is obviously a short version of the problems one may faced at home, the point is to try to take care of the problems as they occur.  Postponing them may be worse down the road, and more expensive.


Protecting Your Home

Flood Insurance is not included in your policy in most cases.  You need to verbally ask and be offered flood insurance by the Insurance company and go from there.  Insuring your home is not only advisable but extremely important.  It can be a financial catastrophe if a natural disaster occurs and you are unprepared to face the consequences.  If you are in an area where flooding is likable, make sure you have flood insurance to make sure your home is protected.

Structural home problems start with a leaky basement that is not taken care of and is left unattended.  Cracks on the wall and bowed walls are serious problems that can play havoc with the structure of your home.

Mold and mildew are dangerous pollutants in your home. Clean air becomes a luxury if you have a wet basement.  Water seeping into the basement of your home jeopardizes the stability of the foundation, making your home less valuable in the long run.

Basements have served many families as storage facilities for many years, but leaky basements can damage and ruin your belongings.  With flood insurance you can protect your personal belongings and replace them in case of a flooding.  Make sure you talk to your insurance agent and understand the type of insurance you need and for the quantity you need to insure your home and your belongings.

There is a minimum amount you need to insure your home, but it does not include your personal property.  Ask questions before you agree to sign anything.  Make sure you have enough insurance to be properly covered.

Nobody can protect themselves from natural disasters, but it does pay to be protected in case the need arises.  Don’t procrastinate and leave something as important as your home for another day.  If you have a basement or foundation problem, call today to make sure your home and your family are safe.


What To Do If You Have Basement And Foundation Problems

One of the most widely given advice for any homeowner is to take care of a problem right away before it escalates in time and money spend.  For a basement or foundation problem, this advice holds more truth than for any other home problem.  Leaving a leaky basement problem till you have saved enough money to pay for repairs is not something that is advisable.  Considering cracks on the basement walls as something unimportant can jeopardize the home you live in.  Taking care of these problems right away can save you time and money in the long run.

Call us, we will be happy to work with you.


Stone and rubble foundations: What to do if there’s a leak

The experts at H&N Basement Worx in Hamilton want to share some information about stone and rubble foundation damage to help you hire a contractor that has the knowledge and expertise to provide the proper repairs.

Stone and rubble foundations create the worst type of leakage once a leak has begun, and the reason for this is simply that stone or rubble foundations are generally old and were built before it was code to have a proper drainage system.

Not all stone foundations are without a proper drainage system, and not all leakage with stone foundations is the same. The type of repairs, and the extent of the job to execute these repairs, will depend on several factors, including if a drainage system needs to be installed or an existing one repaired, and how much damage has already occurred.

The H&N Basement Worx team will gladly come to your home to do a complete inspection, explain their findings thoroughly, and communicate their recommendations for repairs.


Don’t Dally On Foundations

There’s one bill that many Republicans and Democrats do agree on in this year of particularly nasty partisan sniping. It would help homeowners in eastern Connecticut replace their crumbling foundations. And yet the bill could be caught up in cruel political wrangling as basement walls crack and bow.

The bill would set up an assistance fund with bonded money from the state, and the hope is that insurers, banks, mortgage companies and the construction trade would contribute to it. It also would also establish a low-interest loan program to help homeowners with their deteriorating foundations.

The size of the fund and the state’s contribution haven’t been determined yet because the bill is still being worked on. It’s apparently a substitute for a fund that would have been created by charging homeowners $12 yearly on their insurance policies. That bill never made it out of committee.


Soil expansion may cause basement wall to bulge

Dear Jerry: While preparing the basement of our 1950 home for two bedroom additions, each with an egress window to be installed at the locations of existing basement windows, I removed the finish plywood and discovered on the east wall a large horizontal crack about 32 inches (four blocks) below the top of the foundation. Some of the mortar is loose, and the wall bulges in a little over one-half inch at the center of the crack.

Outside the house, there are two large trees about 10 feet from the house, with large roots headed straight for the center between the two cellar windows. The theory is that the roots have pushed in the blocks. Our arborist looked at the root structure, and said that he hasn’t seen proof of roots pushing against the foundation.


 

Home Improvement Checklist

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development have programs that help people renovate and repair their homes with the assistance of the U.S. Government.  They received many complaints of contractors that do shoddy work, and because of the financing, these contractors believe they can do the shoddy work with impunity.

The Ohio Attorney General’s website provides a list to follow for all people living in Ohio that want or need to have home repairs.

The list includes among others:

  1. Checking the contractors references
  2. Not signing anything without making sure you have read everything carefully
  3. Not signing with the first contractor you talk to
  4. The contractor has shown you proof of Licenses, insurance, and bonding
  5. You have checked with the Better Business Bureau for the company’s credentrials

At Pioneer Basement Waterproofing, we pride ourselves with the work we do, the commitment to our community, and the customer satisfaction history we have worked for since 1979.  We are a locally owned and operated company that is fully licensed, bonded and insured for the protection of our customers. We treat our customers the same way we treat our friends and family; the way we want to be treated.

If you are thinking about a home repair or improvement, inform yourself before starting any big or small project.

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


7 Explosive Ways to Increase Customer Satisfaction

Follow these seven strategies to keep customers coming back again and again.

Customer satisfaction is crucial for any business to succeed, but satisfying increasingly demanding consumers can become a challenge. Poor customer experience is a catalyst for customer churn, and the damage of one unhappy customer is the 9-15 people they will tell about their encounter. Customer satisfaction is priceless when acquiring new customers—a process that’s 4-5 times more expensive than maintaining an established customer base.

So, customer satisfaction is important, but what can businesses do to drive their customer satisfaction up and keep it there? Below are seven effective ways to improve your customer experience and increase customer satisfaction.

Respect Your Consumers

Just as a bad experience can have a dramatic effect on your business, so can a positive one. Word of mouth packs a punch in the buying world, so treat your customers with respect and watch your customer satisfaction flourish. The secret to building a loyal customer base is creating respectful experiences for your consumers to share with their friends and family.

It all sounds pretty straightforward. However, finding the right balance and approach to respectful interactions can be tricky for both you and your customer. Respect your customers by providing them with tools to help themselves. Ensuring that your consumers can easily access frequently asked questions and information about your product on your user-friendly site is one simple way to create a respectful customer experience.


5 major tips to measure Customer Satisfaction

When it comes to mobile app customers, there is no better friend and foe for a mobile app business, especially in the current market conditions. Earn the customer’s trust and they would be devoted to your brand but if you treat them poorly then the tables can turn towards you. In addition, the major issue is that only 5% of unhappy customers really express their discontents. And sometimes it might happen that some of them won’t even come back. So what can you really do to determine the satisfaction of your customers?

The most effective way to measure that is using feedback surveys and communicating directly with the customers. Being cautious regarding the customer experience and its influence on your business conversions is vital to the business’s success. Consider the following tips to measure the effectiveness of your app’s customer experience.

 


Do Your Customers Promote You?

Getting the right information about how satisfied your customers are with your services is the first step toward getting them to recommend you to others.

Few would argue that satisfying customers is a “must” if a company hopes to grow and prosper. Most companies even have some established means for measuring how satisfied customers are with their products and/or services, and they take these measures seriously. Too often, however, these internally developed measures do not provide a true picture of how satisfied customers really are. In fact, I would argue that many of the measures used by companies tend to skew results to be artificially favorable. This can lead to customer service complacency based on a mentality of “we haven’t heard otherwise, so things must be OK.”


Home Maintenance Tips That Can Save You Money

Spring and summer months are the chosen moths for most people to sell and buy homes.  The curb appeal during these months is enhanced by the vegetation around your home, but the problems are clearly noticeable as well.  Basement and foundation problems are clearly visible if water is sitting on the basement floor of your home during the spring months, and the humidity during the summer months is felt when checking the basement of your home.

If you are selling, buying or just enjoy the feeling of shopping for a new home, here are some tips that you need to check when shopping or selling  a home. Just follow the links below to find out more about this topic.


15 Preventative Home Maintenance Tips That Save You Money

Plus: What regular home repairs can mean for your homeowners insurance.

No doubt there are plenty of benefits of owning your own home: freedom from rent and landlord rules, contributing to an investment, building a home on property that you own, and so on. But let’s face it – being a homeowner also means dealing with costly repairs yourself from time to time.

Every time something breaks or stops working, it feels like it came out of nowhere, and when you head to the hardware store or call a specialist to get a repair quote, your wallet winces at the expense.

But, hark! A spot of good news! Many of the expensive fixes homes often require can actually be prevented if you simply remember to do the proper maintenance. A fix here and a test there can save you some real cash over time.

Make these 15 preventative maintenance tips part of your spring cleaning ritual this year, and set calendar alerts so you remember to stay on top of them in the months and years to come.


Not uncovering problems with home before you buy can cause big headaches later

We purchased a home in Maryland about three years ago. Following the purchase, we discovered that a sunroom addition on the upper and lower levels of the home was built on top of an existing outdoor deck.

The addition does not have a proper foundation or insulation. We found no evidence that the addition was permitted. We consulted with an architect, who advised us that the addition on both levels will need to be removed and completely rebuilt. In the meantime, both rooms are freezing cold in winter and boiling hot in summer due to lack of insulation.

Our home inspection report did not flag the construction of these rooms as a problem, nor did the seller disclose any foundation, structural or latent defects in the residential property disclosure statement. Do we have any recourse with the inspector or the seller?


Home Inspections: Items That Aren’t Deal-Breakers

After making an offer on a home, you’ll enter into a contract. Part of that contract should always include getting a home inspection. It is recommended that any homebuyer make an offer to purchase contingent upon a home inspection. This allows you to withdraw your offer if there are any major issues discovered during an inspection.

More than likely, the home inspector will find problems that need to be fixed before closing. Major foundation issues and significant water damage are at the top of the list of signs to walk away from.

On the other hand, there are some home defects found during an inspection that don’t have to be deal-breakers. Many of them can be fixed, and they can be used to negotiate with the seller for a lower price point or additional help with the closing costs.

Lead-Based Paint
Lead-based paint was banned in 1978, but it’s still possible that you could purchase a home that contains it if it was built before the ban. The sellers should disclose this, but the home inspector may find it, as well.


 

Home Foundation or Basement Problems? Read This First

In 2013 Americans spend an approximate $150 billion dollars in home improvement and repairs.  And studies have shown that that amount increases every year. 

Home improvement experts agree with the 1% rule that says, 1% of the purchase price of your home should be set aside for home maintenance.  Spring time is not only a good time to declutter and clean your home, but it’s a time where home maintenance is required. After the long winter months and spring showers, now it is a time where you have to inspect your home thoroughly to catch problems that were  not there the previous year.

Do you need a maintenance list to inspect your home this year?  Then follow the links below for more information.


Can You Identify These Common House Foundation Issues?

How many times have you heard someone dismiss foundation cracks as simply an old house that’s “settling”? Ignoring foundation problems such as cracks and uneven floors can lead to serious – and expensive – problems down the road.

Homes are built on dirt and, over time, that dirt will shift and settle. Clay, for example, will contract and expand depending on the moisture. Sand will erode after significant rainfall or flooding. Plus, the average home weighs 160 tons so that’s a lot of pressure on the dirt underneath your home, explains Michael Connolly, marketing manager for Lowcountry Basement Systems, which recently moved into the Charleston market.

“Problems don’t get better, they only get worse, and the worse they get the more expensive they will be to fix,” Connolly says.

Foundation issues can keep doors and windows from opening properly. Moisture can get into the house and create mold problems. Not properly repairing these issues can also make it difficult to sell your home down the road, he adds.


Check Yourself: 7 Home Maintenance Tasks You Should Tackle in May

We’ve been fantasizing about it for months, and finally warmer weather has arrived. We know: You just want to fire up the grill and start working on your tan—we do, too! But before you can kick back in your hammock (or in your pool on your giant patriotic bald eagle float, if that’s your thing), there are a few tasks you’ll need to tackle.

And you can bet they’re all outside.

“The old adage ‘April showers bring May flowers’ rings true and makes May prime time for landscaping and lawn care in most of the country,” says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Association of Landscape Professionals.

But it goes beyond gardening and yard work. Now’s the last chance to take care of all that winter wear and tear and transform your home’s outdoor space into something worthy of the host with the most.

The good news? We’re here to make it as quick and easy on you as possible—with our handy checklist of home maintenance chores, you can knock them out and get back to that pool float ASAP. We’ve provided tips for doing each task faster and easier—or with the help of a pro.


‘Thank God it wasn’t worse’

HUNTINGBURG — Rene Katterhenry and her three children were all asleep on the living room couch inside their home at First and Washington streets when rushing floodwaters and a waterline break caused her brick basement wall to cave in in the wee hours of Saturday morning.

She had been watching a movie with 9-year-old Reese, 8-year-old Logan, and 5-year-old Lexi before they all dozed off. But around midnight, the sound of rushing water woke up Katterhenry.

“I’m not sure if it was the wall caving in at that time or just the storm, I think it was the storm at that time,” she said. “I went to look, because I could hear some rain gushing. The water was pretty much at the top step of the front porch. I could see the top concrete step, but that was it.”

She thought that she should probably check the basement, since water sometimes seeps in during storms.

“I opened the basement door, and there I had one full step and a second step. The water was all the way up to the house,” Katterhenry said. “And I was panicking. The wall was already gone, but I didn’t realize it.”

She called her father. He had to meet up with her brother in his truck to reach Katterhenry’s house.


 

Do You Want A Dry Basement? Tips and Information To Keep Your Basement Dry

During the raining season, it is very clear whether you have a leaky basement or not.  Water seeping to the basement of your home become a reality when you see puddles of water on the basement floor.  The question then is, where is the water coming from? If the spring season brings water into the basement, chances are the water is coming from the outside.  If you have problems with leaky pipes, water would be a problem all year long, not only during the spring season.  The humidity in your basement can play havoc with furniture, the stability of the foundation, appliances you may have there, etc. Taking care of those problems right away can save you many headaches down the road.

For more about this topic, follow the links below.


Mission Impossible? Setting Out to Save a Damp, Dingy Furnace Room

Basement moisture introduces mold and mildew, wood rot and worse. Gradually, the effect of such issues combine to compromise the home both structurally and aesthetically. Fortunately for us all, affordable and DIY-friendly masonry waterproofer can both of those problems at the same time. Read on to find out how!

As homeowners, we all have our dirty little secrets, whether it be a carpet stain concealed by strategically placed furniture or in my case, a basement furnace room that resembles a horror-movie set. Despite being dimly lit, with exposed pipes spreading like tentacles all around, I know the room would have problems much worse than aesthetics, if it weren’t for the sump pump and drains I opted to add several years ago. The combination worked wonders to stem the tide of basement leaks we’d been struggling to control until then. But recently, I began to recognize that although pools of liquid water no longer suddenly appear on the floor, another, subtler warning sign—unsightly, unhealthy mildew—proves that basement moisture remains an issue.

So I decided to launch on a new campaign aimed not only at protecting against future mildew growth, but also at improving the look of the furnace room once and for all. Of course, I’m not the first homeowner to take on a project like this.


Keep your basement dry when rain rolls through the area

WASHINGTON — Next week could bring heavy rain into the region. And if rain makes your basement soggy, a consumer’s group advises trying easy do-it-yourself solutions before hiring a contractor.

“Check to make sure your gutters have been cleaned out. Check to make sure that downspouts from your gutters are spilling far away from your home,” said Kevin Brasler, executive editor at Checkbook.org.
Also, hiring a drainage consultant might reveal additional quick fixes, or determine that grading performed when the home was new has diminished. Grading of soil near a home prevents water from flowing toward walls.
“It’s a pretty inexpensive thing to do, especially compared to what these companies will propose,” Brasler said.
You should examine all options, Brasler added, before hiring a basement waterproofing contractor.

“If you are going to hire a company to solve your problem inside your basement, make sure you talk to several companies,” Brasler advised. “I would talk to five or six companies that do this type of work.”


Southern Trust Home Services shares tips to prepare your home for spring

Just as spring allergens can pose a problem for people, spring weather and changes can pose a problem for homes. Ted Puzio, owner of Southern Trust Home Services, shares tips about how homeowners can prep their homes for spring.

Homeowners can reduce seasonal allergens inside the home by inspecting or replacing HVAC air filters and inspecting ductwork and vents for signs of mold growth.

Homeowners can prevent basement waterproofing problems due to spring showers by checking the house for any leaks and seepage and unclogging gutters and checking that all downspouts extend away from the home’s foundation.

Homeowners can prepare for early heat by checking the AC. – strange noises, condensation leaks and indoor temperatures that do not match thermostat readings are signs that it needs repair – and by requesting a seasonal HVAC tune-up and cleaning.


Landscaping Your Home The Right Way

When selling or improving your home, the interior of the house is the place which we spend most of the time worrying about.  Is the kitchen up to date with the appliances? Are the countertops in good condition?  Is the bathroom on the first floor well maintained?

If selling the home your priority this year, make sure the outside of the home is being taken care of, and the landscaping makes a good impression to the potential buyer.  Shrubs, gravel, unleveled driveways, branches hanging from trees, are some of the easy to spot maintenance jobs you need to do before putting your home for sale.

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


7 Landscaping Trends to Avoid When Selling Your Home

Aside from location, location, location, your home’s landscaping is one of the first things to make an impression on a potential buyer. And it’s not just curb appeal, although that is important.

Amenities like an outdoor fire pit or brick barbecue pit are not all created equal. The same goes for trees, shrubs, and outdoor lighting. If you don’t want to spend some real money on dressing up the outdoor space around the house, then don’t spend anything at all.

Jennifer Geddes at Realtor.com has created a list of seven landscaping trends to avoid as you get your home ready to sell. Her list follows.

Landscaping laid out with a ruler
Nice, neat lines used to be the trend for planting flower beds and bushes, but today’s outdoor look is much more natural.

The same cheap trees everyone has
Choose trees wisely, including eastern red cedar, sugar maple, Colorado blue spruce, and myrtle. Steer clear of the ones that rain leaves and needles (pecan, oak, sweet gum, eastern white pine), and your look will be neater and easier to maintain. And when it comes to placement in your yard, think strategically.


Certain landscaping materials prone to fast-spreading fire, officials say

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – What materials do you use in landscaping your yard? Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue released a new public service announcement warning homeowners and property management companies against using pine straw and similar products.

“When landscaping, use noncombustible material like rock instead of pine straw or mulch,” urges Lt. Jonathan Evans with MBFR. “If it can catch on fire, don’t let it touch your house.”

Fire officials warn that it’s not just landscaping material that can fuel fires near your home.

“Dry grass can be fuel for wildfires, so keep your grass and lawns hydrated and maintained,” suggests Lt. Evans.


Consider investing some green in your landscaping to increase your home’s worth

SIOUX CITY | If you want to turn your backyard into an oasis as seen on HGTV, be prepared to spend some money.

Mike Lutt, owner of Country Nursery Inc. in Wayne, Nebraska, said that makeover could cost anywhere from $1,000 to more than $200,000 depending on your wants, needs and square footage. The average cost of an outdoor patio is $12,000 to 15,000.

“People are going from wooden decks and synthetic Terex decking to a raised paver patio for the same cost,” said Lutt, who said multi-level raised paver patios allow homeowners to incorporate more elements and designs into their outdoor spaces. “It used to be just slapped up against the house. Now, they bring it out further.”

Lutt said there are benefits to using VERSA-LOK retaining walls, made of high-strength, low-absorption concrete, and Willow Creek Paving Stones, composed of high-strength aggregates. He said these materials don’t have to be stained or sealed as wood does, and they don’t fade.