Handymen Services; Are they Right For You?

pioneer (10)Handymen services are a very inexpensive way to fix those small projects that you didn’t have time do, or do not have the skills or tools necessary to accomplished them.  For many people, having someone they know recommend a handyman is the best way for them to feel confident the job will be done, and the person in question trustworthy.  There are many companies out there that offer the services of a handyman, with license and insurance to back up any project they do. But, regardless of what choice you make, the recommended handyman or the company offering the services of a handyman, be choosy and do a bit of homework before any project you start.


Rosie on the House: Jobs a handyperson can do for you

Lots of times you have little jobs around the house that you don’t have the time to do. Or maybe you don’t have the skills or tools to do the job. So you think you want someone you might describe as a handyman or handywoman.

How do you find this handyperson? You can ask friends and neighbors, of course. You can ask your homeowners association if they have lists of people other neighbors have hired. You can look online.

Many times a contractor or remodeler you have used in the past has someone on staff that does these “handy” jobs. There are also licensed contractors who run handyman services of one kind or another. Of course, you want to find someone who has experience in the kind of job you want done.

There are some rules and regulations about what work a handyperson can do. Arizona law does allow unlicensed handymen or -women to do small home repairs or fixes if the value of labor plus materials does not exceed $1,000 and does not require a permit from your city or county. This handyman’s exemption means almost anyone can do small jobs in your home.

But the state does say that a contractor must have a license before he or she can do any electrical or plumbing jobs in your home. And you must always hire a licensed and insured contractor if your repair or renovation requires a building permit from the city or county.


Home Help: Keep your home safe without compromising style

TIP OF THE WEEK

Home accidents cause nearly 13 million injuries a year. Some simple updates to your home can help you avoid these accidents, as well as give your rooms a facelift.

The less clutter, the better: Sometimes the bulky knife block can be an eyesore or take up too much space on small countertops. If you are looking for new and interesting ways to store sharp knives, try installing magnet strips on the backsplash in the kitchen. This will not only keep your counter clutter free, but give your kitchen some flair.

Step it up: Have kids at home? Put a stepstool that slides into the toe kick beneath the sink so that your kids are able to roll it out like a drawer and step up to wash their hands. This is also great for parents who have young chefs in the house who like to help out in the kitchen.


Buyer Beware – Don’t Fall for the “Tricks” of Home Selling

housesMagazines, TV shows, blogs and your neighborhood realtors’ newsletters are all full of good ideas on how to influence people to buy your house.  What you don’t see as much are the magazines, TV shows, blogs and your neighborhood realtors’ newsletters full of good ideas on how to avoid that influence if you’re the buyer.

Buying a house is a difficult, confusing, time consuming task, and none of us want to make a bad choice.  Here are some suggestions to combat realtors and sellers attempts to sway you.

Smell

Sellers are encouraged to bake cookies, burn candles and use deodorizers to cover up unpleasant smells (mold, animal, dirty/musty, teenage boy, etc).  They’re also used to distract from nearby outside smells (farms, factories, neighbors’ kennels, sewage, etc).

Don’t be affected.  The chocolate chip smell doesn’t mean you’re in your cozy childhood home, and that wonderful cinnamon/vanilla candle combination might be masking the cat odor in the carpet.  If you’re serious about a house ask for “no smelly stuff” when you schedule your 2nd visit and go sniffing through it.

Fresh paint

Sometimes fresh paint is covering old or unattractive paint and sometimes it’s covering mold and water damage.  From the attic to the basement water damage is a fairly common problem in Northeastern Ohio houses; it would be wise to look for it.

Was the entire bedroom ceiling painted or just certain spots (roof leak)?  Has the whole dining room been freshened up or just the wall under the upstairs shower?  Are the freshly painted outside basement walls covering up big problems? 

Look for discolorations in suspicious areas.  Water stains and mold can bleed through paint.  You may be able to see faint outlines if you’re looking for them.  In addition to looking, feel for texture differences. 

Water damage can weaken the drywall, changing the texture and making it soft to the touch.  Does it give or feel mushy if you press it?  Does it look different from the surrounding areas?  Does the odd colored area on the outside basement wall feel moister or cooler (possible water) than another?  Ask the realtor about the spots and bring them to the attention of your inspector.

Creating the Dream

“Imagine your family eating together in this large, airy kitchen.”  “The basement is perfect for that man cave your husband wants.”  “Oh no, the house isn’t too big.  You can turn that extra room into your own private office.” 

Good realtors understand how to get you emotionally invested in a house.  Some will greet you at the door of a house saying, “Welcome home.”  Hopefully, your realtor will help you keep your feet firmly on the ground — just remember they’re trying to sell you something.

But, ultimately it’s up to you to look out for your best interests.  Falling in love with a house may sound romantic and seem necessary, but it can cause poor judgment.  Dreams are nice, except when they lead to buying a lemon.

Watch the TV shows and read the articles through an unemotional buyer’s eyes.  They come close to saying, “Assume the buyer is clueless and can be tricked with candles, staging, neutral paint, natural light and emotional manipulation.”  Buyers beware indeed.


Nicole Abbott is a professional writer who’s had over 200 articles published.  She’s a business consultant and former psycho-therapist with over 20 years of experience in mental health, business and addiction.  She’s a coach, lecturer, trainer and facilitator.  She has conducted over 200 workshops, trainings, presentations, seminars and college classes. 

Home Improvement Tips

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You might not be selling your home just yet, but having a list of repairs or projects to better your home is a good way to keep the maintenance to a minimum, and the value of your home increasing.  Snow, sleet, high winds, and rain can play havoc to your home if it’s not properly maintained. Gutters full of debris can be a problem when the snow comes, and the spring showers can really be a problem for the basement and foundation of your home if those gutters were not cleaned after all.  Having a list of chores to do this fall, or home improvements that you need to consider, can keep your home and wallet “healthy” this year.

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


Kuffa: Small details could become turn offs for a home sale

Let’s talk about simple turn offs to houses on the market.

We often get calls from people who say, “My lender (or Realtor or parent) told me I should get a home inspection even though I don’t think I really need one.”

Then the day comes for the big inspection and I’m sitting in the driveway just looking at the exterior and my brain is racing because of numerous problem areas I have seen before I’ve even left my vehicle.

Inspecting a house is like being a detective. You are looking for clues, irregularities, oddities and indications of non-professional work. Other clues may be indications that previous owners or residents were possibly “do-it yourselfers” or were just neglectful or didn’t take care of the property. As an inspector, it is always easier to inspect a building whose previous resident has lived there for a long time. This resident has more knowledge about the history of the house and usually their lifestyle and habits are more evident. Also, it is always easier to inspect a house that is represented by a real estate agent than one that is “for sale by owner.” The real estate agent has to abide by specific laws and rules, fills out required paperwork and has their reputation at stake. In my experience, The “for sale by owner” situations typically are more problem laden, less often abide by the same rules as a real estate agent and the seller has decided to cut out the real estate agent’s fees.


Waterproofing Basement Walls: Costs and Options

Tempted by ads that promise to waterproof your basement? Here’s the scoop:

If you’re trying to figure out how to cure a wet or musty basement, you’re probably curious about advertisements for products that claim to waterproof basement walls. So you wonder: Is it really possible to dry out a basement simply by sealing the walls?

Yes, it is possible — but to make sure you’re choosing the right option, you need to figure out if the moisture is coming from the outside, or if it’s actually high humidity that’s condensing on the cool walls of your basement.

How to Find Out What’s Causing the Moisture

Tape a 1-foot-square piece of aluminum foil to the inside of your basement walls, and leave it in place for 24 hours.

If there’s condensation on the outside of the foil, you have high humidity in your basement. Fix it with a portable room dehumidifier or a whole-house humidifier system instead of waterproofing products.

If the foil has condensation on the inside surface (next to the wall), it may be the soil around your house is naturally damp from a high water table or poor soil drainage. In that case, waterproofing your basement walls can be useful.


How to Conquer the Huge Problems Found During Home Inspections

You’ve finally found a buyer for your beloved home and signed a deal. Phew, what a relief! But then comes the reality check, aka the “home inspection.” Such simple words, yet so fraught with stress and fear! Many contracts include a contingency that allows the buyer to back out if serious problems are found during inspection. So, bring on the fear.

Of course, you know your home and you think it’s just fine, but maybe a professional with a less sentimental eye might see it differently?

To keep at least one step ahead, check out these common issues found during an inspection. That way you can fix them, save the deal, and even save yourself!


 

Foundation and Basement Problems and Solutions

pioneer (14)Port Canaveral sustained millions of dollars in damages due to hurricane Matthew, North Carolina faired a bit worse with 1.5 billion worth in damages to homes and businesses across the coast.  Flooding is still a problems in those areas, and government officials hope the flood will recede in one more week. It is hard to predict and prepare for catastrophes like this, but for many homeowners our problems are not so significant.  Water seeping into the basement of your home doesn’t seem so huge after reading about the people in North Carolina.  It doesn’t mean you don’t have to take care of that problem, it means the problem doesn’t seem so big after all.  If you have problems with the basement or foundation of your home, we will be happy to offer you a hassle free, no obligation consultation to see if we fit your needs.  Contact us, we will be happy to talk to you.


Extreme drought causes home foundation cracks across the Valley

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The crippling drought in North Alabama isn’t just hurting farmers and drying up water sources, it could also threaten your home. Foundation repair experts say this is the busiest they’ve been, in the company’s 15 year history.

“The last time we saw a drought like this was in ‘07,” says Ben Bayless, the owner of AFS.

From afar, the Drach family’s home looks in pristine condition. “Very frustrating,” says Jesse Drach. “Inside, we have several cracks getting bigger and bigger.”

When you take a closer look, you can see major cracks have formed, both inside and outside.

The owner of AFS, a local foundation repair company, says this happens when the rain stays at bay.  “These foundation issues are directly linked to the drought,” says Bayless.

Drought conditions affect foundations because when the soil dries, it actually shrinks, causing the foundation to shift or crack.

Unfortunately for homeowners, there isn’t a lot you can do to prevent these foundation issues from popping up.


Wet basement? Here’s what to do

You might not need a waterproofing contractor. You might need to take a few simpler, cheaper steps instead, according to Consumers’ Checkbook.

CONSUMERS’ CHECKBOOK

Wet basement? Thinking about calling a basement-waterproofing contractor? Stop right there.

Many contractors will propose 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 possible solutions and hiring a basement-waterproofing contractor only if absolutely needed. If your home was built within the last 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 the gutters 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 4 feet away from the house. You can extend downspouts for less than $15 each; gutter repairs are more expensive. But these improvements are worth the price, even if they do not fully solve your water problem.


Basement and Crawlspace Waterproof Experts Provide Preparation Tips for the Upcoming Season

Waterproof Experts Provide Preparation Tips.
Here are some tips you can observe to help you prevent water damage this coming season. Preparing for the season ahead is best served with the purpose of protecting your home (your family), saving time, and money. Making home investments by taking preparation tips from basement and crawlspace waterproof experts can prevent your finances being dried out in a drought.

. Always check your plumbing – One of the most common reasons for water damage in basements and crawlspaces is a faulty plumbing network. You may have a broken hot water tank system or even a leaking water fixture. And since a great majority of these pipes and water lines run through the basement or other crawlspaces, they tend to get neglected in the process. Take time to review the blueprint of your home and identify where your plumbing is. Otherwise, you can call for experts to try to determine if you have a local plumbing problem.

2. Clean your gutters and downspouts – Your roof is like a large basin that collects water and moisture. If this is not channeled down your spout, then water will eventually have to find a way to go down. And you know where this will lead. Your basement, of course. So, while it is still not snowing and the winds haven’t picked up yet, go up your roof and make sure you don’t have any broken shingles or any roofing material and that your gutters and downspouts are free of any obstruction.


Home Repairs That Can Save Your Budget

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Doing a little bit of maintenance around your home every year can surely prevent costly repairs that you are not expecting. A list of yearly chores for the fall is a good way to keep you organized, and keep your home healthy thought out the year. Here are 4 chores for you to do this year.

1.Tree branches that are too long around your home can be trim to a good size, and help you keep them from damaging your home during a good storm.

2. Cleaning the gutters, and making sure they are debris free, can help you keep the water flowing well.  Water sitting around the foundation of your home will eventually find a way to the basement, and   give you a new set of problems.

3. Inspecting the roof for loose shingles, or other problems can help prevent further damage to the roof.  Inspect the foundation of the home as well.

4.Change your smoke detector batteries, and carbon monoxide detectors as well if you have them.


Six Expensive Home Repairs You Can Avoid With A Little Maintenance.

The cost of owning a home goes well beyond the price you paid for the house itself. When something breaks, you have to fix it, and those repairs can be costly. You can’t foresee or avoid every home repair, but some regular maintenance can save you hundreds — maybe thousands — on some of these big ones.

Inspect Your Roof Every Six Months to Avoid a Costly Roof Replacement.

If you have a loose shingle or a leak in your roof, it will typically cost you several hundred bucks to fix the problem. That’s not exactly spare change, but if the problem goes unaddressed, the damage will cost a lot more in the long run.

When you neglect a leak, water can seep into the insulation and other parts of your attic, which can lead to mould growth and structural damage to your attic’s decking, beams and joints. At this point, you may have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to fix the problem. Duh, that’s what homeowner’s insurance is for, you might think. Bad news, though. Typically, homeowner’s insurance only covers damage that is sudden and not preventable. Most policies won’t cover any expenses you could have prevented with proper maintenance.


Quick Fix Home Repairs You Can (Really!) Do Yourself

Did you know…

There are some quick fix home repairs you can do yourself, at little to no cost?

Patching up those small holes in your wall from nails and screws can be a cinch…with a just a little toothpaste! Squeeze a bit into the hole, and simply use a putty knife or playing card to scrape off the excess!

Scuffed linoleum floors can also be rejuvenated with a little toothpaste just apply some to a dry towel and buff out those scratches. An old tennis ball fitted at the end of a broom handle can also do the job!

Finally, if you have any loose laminate tile that needs to be adjusted, try using an old hair dryer! Hold the dryer a couple of inches away from the tile and move it around until the laminate’s glue softens up. Then, simply reposition as needed! Just be careful not to hold the dryer too close for too long or you’ll burn out the motor.


Video: How a Sump Pump Helps Protect Your Home from Flood Damage

If you’ve ever been the victim of water in your home then you know how much of a hassle and how costly it can be to repair the damage. Having a sump pump in your house is the best defense against flooding. A plumber can install one for you or replace your broken one.

Brad Isley, L.E. Isley & Sons Inc.:  “Anybody that has a sump pump pit needs a sump pump. If you have a basement you have a sump pump pit and if you have a crawlspace you’ll have a sump pump pit so you’ll need a sump pump. Older homes sometimes do not have a sump pump pit and there are companies out there that will put those pits in and run the piping. There are a lot of different model, sizes, and horsepower on a sump pump. It’s based on your application. A traditional home uses a 1/3 horsepower sump pump. Some of your larger homes or large commercial buildings use 1/3 or 1 horsepower sump pump.


 

The Fun Part of Waterproofing the Basement – Decorating It

stock-photo-3164773-executive-home-bar-and-entertainment-roomYou finally got your basement waterproofed.  It’s dry, looks good and smells even better.  Now it can be used as an actual living, working, and storage space.   This is where the fun starts; it’s time to decorate.

Basements can be a decorating challenge because they’re usually used for a variety of different functions (i.e. workshop, crafts, kid’s play area, storage, media room, workout equipment, laundry, meditation).  Some of these uses are utilitarian and straightforward, while others are more esoteric and personal. 

Here are some decorating ideas to make your spaces functional and uniquely your own.

Use the walls

Too often walls are used only to hang pictures on or put furniture against; there are other uses for them.  Think about using your storage needs as a decorating opportunity.  Depending on the function of the room consider using bookcases, cubbies, lockers, storage units or shelving.  Add corresponding baskets or plastic totes and you have a functional as well as decorative feature. 

Exercise room – metal shelves for weights, workout DVDs, fitness balls/mats and clear plastic totes for smaller items.  Kid’s play room – shelving (sturdy and secured to the wall) painted in primary colors for books, games, baskets and colored totes for toys.  Media room – bookcases for DVDs, electronic equipment and baskets for remotes.

Consider the ceiling

People don’t consider the ceiling when they’re thinking of decorating.  But, the basement can be different – like the walls, the ceiling can be used for decoration and function.  If you have overhead space there are some creative ways to use it.

Kid’s play room – string a net from the ceiling between 2 corners and use it to store balls.  Workshop – save garage space by hang bikes or golf bags along the wall, out of the way, with ceiling hooks.  Storage room – that Christmas tree doesn’t have to take up valuable self or floor space; some overhead hanging units can hold up to 250 lbs. 

Remember the stairs

The space under the stairs is usually left to spiders and bugs.  There are many pre-made cubbies, shelves and bookcases that fit under standard basement steps or you can get built-in shelves or cabinetry. 

Getting to decorate after your basement has been waterproofed is exciting, and there are a lot of good ideas you can use.  Just keep in mind that simple and uncluttered never goes out of style.  Cluttered and disorganized will make even an Architectural Digest room look bad.


Nicole Abbott is a professional writer who’s had over 200 articles published.  She’s a business consultant and former psycho-therapist with over 20 years of experience in mental health, business and addiction.  She’s a coach, lecturer, trainer and facilitator.  She has conducted over 200 workshops, trainings, presentations, seminars and college classes. 

Dry Basement Means Healthier Living

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Pollen, dust, grasses, and in some instances mold are some of the ever present allergens in our homes.  Healthier living in these cases is very difficult.  Children with allergies have a very difficult time living in these conditions, and can develop respiratory illnesses due to these air pollutants.   The United States Environmental Protection Agency – epa.gov — has many resources for businesses and individuals concerning clean air in businesses and homes. And you can follow the links below if you need more information about clean air in your home.


Dry out the foundation for a cleaner and healthier basement

Even if you only visit your basement infrequently, you can easily tell when you have issues with moisture. Damp spots might be spreading along the floor, or beads of water will be sweating out of the walls.

This moisture can be particularly concerning if the basement is closely connected to the rest of the home through ductwork or if you plan to finish the space. John Carmody and Brent Anderson, writing for the University of Minnesota Extension, says the water can lead to the formation of mold or mildew, which can be harmful to your health.

If you finish your basement without first taking steps to dry it out, the floor and wall coverings will eventually start to molder and rot. To avoid this problem and keep your basement from getting too damp, you’ll need to find out how moisture is getting into your home and work to keep it at bay.

Causes

Moisture in the basement might be the result of condensation or water leaking into your home. The water could be coming from rainfall, snowmelt, a rising water table, or an interior water leak. During the summer, moisture might stem from the condensation of humid air on cool surfaces in the basement.


Are Growing Molds in Your Flooded Basement Something You Need to Be Worried About?

All households with flooded basements share the same concern and that is on how to pump the water out. However, there are other problems that they need to be more anxious about and these are the growing molds that seem to inhabit on their basement’s walls. This is a common problem if basement waterproofing was not done. If the problem lingers, it will cause so much hassle and this does not only limit on the wall’s aesthetics. Molds will cause problems to your family’s health as well.

“The presence of humidity, regardless of the amount causes mold spores to attach to the wall’s surface and grow”, Philadephia’s Director of Environmental Protection Agency Christina Schulingkamo said. They are the ones dealing with Sandy’s aftereffects this October, totaling to billions of dollars damages on the East Coast.

Anyone who is allergic to molds will manifest symptoms when exposed to mold spores. The person may experience irritation of the nose, eyes, airways and skin. It will start with a mold growth on a damp corner which will ultimately release tiny spores that float on the air. Once this will be inhaled by someone who is allergic to it, the person will start rubbing one’s eyes and sneeze. It can even trigger asthma attack.


Ten Things You Should Know about Mold

  1. Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory complaints.
  2. There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
  3. If mold is a problem in your home or school, you must clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture.
  4. Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.

 

Keeping Your Basement Dry This Summer

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Keeping your basement dry and free of mold is something that as a homeowner  are constantly battling. Humidifiers are a great way to get the moisture out of the air, and prevent the mustiness that comes along with too much humidity.  Keeping your basement dry after a storm is usually easy if the drainage in your home is good.  Making sure the water does not sit by the foundation of your home, and eventually finding a way to your basement, is something we can do every year with no cost. Keeping your basement shouldn’t be difficult, read the following articles below for more information about this topic.


So, You Want to… Waterproof Your Basement

Basement waterproofing can be a confusing (and expensive) process. But if you’re dealing with leaky foundation walls or water welling up from the floor, finding an effective means of managing these problems could save you a lot in the long run. Here’s a quick rundown of your options for keeping downstairs dry.

Unless your plan is to install a swimming pool in your basement, you probably cringe at the idea of water trickling in beneath your house. While the best time to waterproof is during new construction, if you live in an older structure, you don’t have that luxury. There are, however, a few measures you can take to protect your home from water, running the gamut from inexpensive safeguards to high-dollar professional remedies. Here’s all the information you need to choose the best solution for your basement.

EXTERIOR REMEDIESThe most effective way to waterproof a basement is from the outside. Doing so, however, involves excavating the soil away from the exterior of the foundation on all sides and installing drain tile (a flexible perforated pipe covered with mesh or fabric) at the base of the foundation.

You’ll most likely need a permit before starting, and some building authorities will allow only a licensed contractor to do the job. Digging a 7- or 8-foot-deep trench around your foundation is dangerous; it comes with a high risk of collapse, so it’s usually better to seek out an excavation contractor who employs safe digging techniques and trench bracing, anyway. Timing is essential: Schedule your contractor during a relatively dry season, or you could end up with a trench full of water that will have to be pumped out before work can continue.


Proper drain installation will keep your basement dryMy last house had a basement that leaked water. I’m building a new home and want my basement as dry as the Atacama Desert. I’m confident that my drain tile was not put in correctly at my last house. What are the best practices when installing drain tile around a foundation? What materials would you use? What are the biggest mistakes you can make when installing foundation drain tile? — Beverly H., Fall River, Mass.

You’ve touched on a subject that’s near and dear to my heart. My college degree is in geology with a special interest in two things: geomorphology and hydrogeology. Those are fancy words for the study of the surface of the earth and the study of groundwater. Both of those disciplines are in play when it comes to foundation drain tile.


How to Keep Rain Out of Your Basement

Last May was one for the record books, when severe storms slammed the Front Range, bringing snow, hail, tornado warnings and heavy spring rains. More than eight inches of rain fell, making for the wettest single month ever recorded in Colorado Springs.

Those who suffered landslides, sink holes and flooding in their basements won’t soon forget this experience. Yet, despite 2015’s unrelenting rainfall, many Front Range homeowners remain unprepared to deal with the consequences of outsize storms.

“We had an unprecedented amount of rain last year and chances are high we’ll be hit hard again this year,” says Dave Correa, supervisor at Peak Structural, a waterproofing and foundation repair contractor in Palmer Lake, Colorado.

Basement flooding is a problem that does not go away on its own, he points out. “Once water finds its way into a basement or crawlspace, it creates a path that excess water can follow for years to come,” says Correa. “Unless you take steps to address the problem, you’ll be stuck battling the rainfall, and fearing the nightly weather report, year after year.”


 

Landscaping Your Home To Add Value

pioneer (6)Many homeowners work tirelessly to improve their homes and their yards every single year.  Whether you are selling your home, or improving the landscape of your home, there are many

tips that can help you improve your yard while protecting your investment, and the inside of your home as well.


5 Landscape Renovations That Really Pay Off (and 1 That Won’t)

April showers will soon bring May flowers … or a slushy mud pit if your yard is more untended jungle than Martha Stewart perfection. If you want to get the most out of your outdoor space—as a lush oasis to relax in all summer, or a valuable amenity if you’re hoping to sell your home—it’s time to start thinking about going the whole nine yards on your yard (so to speak).

Most homeowners spend an average of $1,784 to $3,168 per landscaping project, and the good news is that they’ll usually make back a good chunk of that cash.

According to landscape economist John Harris, keeping up your grounds can contribute to a whopping 28% of your home’s overall value (which makes sense, because a beautiful yard is the very definition of curb appeal). That’s why, for this fifth installment in our series Renovations That Really Pay Off, we highlight all the ways you can make your yard more inviting—and financially rewarding—than ever.

Freshen up what you have

Chances are your yard is running a little wild already, so cleanup comes first. In addition to pruning trees and trimming shrubs, “the most inexpensive and important way to update your yard is to keep it weed-free,” says Stephanie Early of Timberline Landscaping in Colorado Springs, CO.


HOME: Create a Budget-Friendly Home Landscape

KENTUCKY (4/5/16) — Homeowners understandably envy the award-worthy photo spreads in lawn and garden magazines, wanting to emulate those same looks on their own properties.

Scores of designers and landscape architects are involved in the process of creating those amazing lush lawns and perfectly placed plantings. Although not every homeowner has the budget to create lavish landscape designs, it’s still possible for homeowners to create lawns they can be proud of.

Establish your budget. The first step in any project is to determine how much money you can devote to the job. Once you have established the budget, all other factors can be built around it.

Find an inspiration piece. Great landscapes are inspired by many things, whether it’s a memorable piece of art or a landscape layout in a lawn and gardening magazine. Use photos of other gardens or neighbors’ yards as inspiration and build off of them. As long as the theme is cohesive, it will look pleasing to the eye.


Get the most from your landscaping efforts

This time of year always seems to inspire a frenzy of gardening activity.

People flock to nurseries, and trees, shrubs, ground covers, tropicals, perennials and bedding plants are sold by the truckload.

In the frantic rush to plant something in the landscape, however, don’t forget that the more thought you put into your planting decisions, the more satisfactory the results are likely to be.

First, analyze your landscaping needs to decide what planting needs to be done and the purpose it will serve.

Determine, for instance, whether you need to screen unsightly views, remove overgrown shrubs, create shade or privacy, provide an area for children to play, create an area for outdoor living, give your home a more attractive appearance from the street or whatever else.

Once you’ve decided the function and location of new plantings in your landscape, consult landscaping books to help you refine your design ideas and gardening books written for our area to help you select the right plants.


 

Controlling The Allergens in Your Home

pioneer (13)According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology  – Acaai.orgasthma affects more than 17 million adults and more than 7 million children in the United States.  Allergies are the 6th. Leading cause of chronic illness in the United States with a cost that exceeds $18 billion every year, and there are more than 50 million Americans that suffer from allergies every year.

Spring is a nice season for most of us, but for allergy sufferers, it is a season of tremendous discomfort and pain. The sneezing, wheezing, itchy eyes, runny nose that pollen brings to allergy sufferers is tremendous.  Preparing your family for this allergy season begins with you.  Keeping a home free of mold and allergens, can provide the clean air that your family needs this allergy season.

For more about this topic, follow the links below.


10 Steps to Control Allergens in Your Home

Allergens such as mold, dust and pollen will always be present in your home but there are steps that you can take to get them under control. These 10 easy tips will help reduce allergens in your home as well as your exposure to them. Try three or four or implement all ten.  You’ll see a difference in the health, and happiness, in your home.

  1. Use the bathroom fan                                                                                                                        Mold and mildew, shown here growing on the underside of a roof, can be a major source of household allergies.The bathroom can be the most humid place in the home because showers and baths produce steam. Excess moisture plus heat causes mold. If you don’t have a fan make sure that your bathroom is well ventilated by leaving the door open or cracking a window.
  2. Stay organized
    Keep your home and closets organized. Clutter collects dust and dust contains allergens. Stacks of magazines and knick-knacks are some of the worst offenders for trapping hidden and unwanted dust.

 

How to Allergy-Proof Your Home

Use the right products in the right way to prevent sneezing and wheezing during pollen season and beyond.

The simplest way to keep allergy symptoms at bay? Avoid exposure to the substances that provoke your sneezing, wheezing, and itchiness. But how? We looked at the research, spoke to leading experts, and reviewed our own product tests to determine what can help and what to skip when you’re trying to allergy-proof your home. Read on to find out which of the five following strategies really work.

Anti-Allergy Bedding

Swathing mattresses, box springs, and pillows in allergen-impermeable covers can entrap dust mites and animal dander as long as you use covers that are made from woven fabrics, according to research studies. Non-woven covers are less durable and won’t protect you from dust mites long-term. Plus, their dimpled surface can allow a variety of allergens to collect there. So before you buy, check product labels for a fabric pore size (the size of openings in the weave) no greater than 6 micrometers or microns, and for words such as “woven fabric.”


 

Are you allergic to your home?

Homes are places of comfort, security and rejuvenation. But what happens when your home makes you sick (literally!)? When not cared for correctly, homes can become the very reason you fall ill and stress levels will skyrocket. One obvious reason for this is the hidden allergens in your home. Common symptoms of allergies include wheezing, rash, watery eyes, swollen eyelids, itchy throat, runny nose, coughing, redness of the eye and itchy eyes.

Does your home have these allergens?

Dust

Dust is the most common culprit behind most allergies. If not cleaned regularly, dust mites and cobwebs can trigger respiratory problems. The best way to tackle dust is to set up a daily cleaning routine. Perhaps, investing in a good vacuum cleaner can help. Using microfiber clothes, brooms and mops for cleaning can also help.