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September 10, 2013

5 Cool Ideas For Green Home Remodeling

Category: Around The Home – Tags: – Matt Ward 7:52 am

5 Cool Ideas For Green Home RemodelingEvery home seems to have a never-ending remodeling list. As you consider tackling your next project, it usually pays off if you also think about helping the environment.

Green remodeling can last longer, utilize recycled materials and typically end up saving you money in the long run. Below are several environment-friendly ideas that will have your neighbors green with envy.

1. Rain Gardens

Rain gardens are a shallow depressions in your yard planted with native shrubs and flowers. When there is a large rainfall, all the water rushes along roadways picking up dirt and pollutants along their way to drainage systems and eventually rivers and streams. Rain gardens catch water run-off, which reduces the street flooding and makes for cleaner water sources.

2. Reclaimed Hardwoods

Using reclaimed wood is all of the rage right now – and it’s easy to see why. Reclaimed wood helps the environment by being recycled and repurposed from other structures. Turning an old barn into your new hardwood floors not only saves trees and looks great, but is an interesting conversation point.

3. Paper Covers Rock

Most kitchen remodels usually include the discussion of to go with granite or quartz countertops. However compressed paper or glass surfaces are actually better for the environment. Instead of harvesting natural resources, you’ll be recycling resources that have already been used.

4. One Shower Head

It’s tempting to use multiple showerheads and powerfully flushing toilets. However, reducing your water usage saves you money. Install low-flow water fixtures and limit yourself to just one fantastic showerhead in each bathroom. You’ll help the earth and your pocketbook by saving water.

5. Passive Solar Design

Solar panels are a great way to trap the sun’s energy and reduce your utility bills. However, if you’re not ready to directly tap into the grid, then there are ways you can remodel your home using passive solar design. Concrete floors and thick concrete, brick or plaster walls soak up the suns rays during the day and release them at night when the temperature drops.

Going green doesn’t have to hamper your lifestyle or your home’s design. With the five green remodeling ideas above, you’ll add value to your home, help the environment and put money back in your bank account.

 

September 6, 2013

How To Create The Perfect Garage Workshop

Category: Around The Home – Tags: – Matt Ward 7:51 am

Creating The Perfect Garage WorkshopMost men, and even handy women, dream of a perfectly organized work space where their tools are orderly and they can tackle that list of home DIY projects.

However, renovations can get put on hold because there’s not a designated place to work. Tools are usually scattered throughout closets and the kitchen table serves as a workbench.

You can create a space for all of your improvement projects by turning a section of your garage into a construction-friendly, wonderfully organized haven for your tools and home makeover endeavors.

Below are easy steps to building the perfect garage workshop.

Make Sure You Have Adequate Space

Ideally, you’d still like to be able to get your cars in their designated space, so look for a vacant area at the back of the garage or along one side. If you’re garage isn’t quite large enough, then you might want to consider adding on to it or building an outdoor shed.

Create A Work Surface

For your work surface, you could repurpose old kitchen cabinets with a counter or build yourself a rough table using lumber from your local hardware store. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s sturdy. Cabinets will provide storage for all of the nuts, bolts, paint and little tools you’ll accumulate.

Clear A Wall

Whether this is above your workstation or alongside it, you’ll want an open area to hang up and organize your tools, so that they don’t clutter your surface. Put up a pegboard and create custom spaces with hooks.

There’s a certain satisfaction that comes will seeing all your tools hanging with in reach and a desire to fill it up.

Install Decent Lighting

You need to see what you’re doing when working with power tools. High-intensity lights, such as halogens or LEDs are perfect for brightening up your space. Utilizing them in track lighting or on bendable gooseneck fixtures can help you adjust the light to exactly where you need it.

Don’t let the thought of a home improvement project send you scurrying all over the house for tools. Take one weekend to follow these four steps and create a designated space for your garage workshop.

Everything will be in one place and it won’t matter how long a project takes or how much of a mess you make!

For more tips on home maintenance contact your trusted real estate professional today.

August 30, 2013

7 Simple Steps To Finish Your Basement This Holiday Weekend

Category: Around The Home – Tags: – Matt Ward 7:52 am

7 Simple Steps To Finish Your Basement This Holiday WeekendNot only does the Labor Day weekend signal a little time off work, but it also indicates a close to the summer season, which means it’s time to get ready for colder weather.

So get in the spirit of the long weekend and put the labor of love into your home by creating a cozy hideaway that your family can retreat to once the outdoors become too chilly.

One of the best places to create this snug space is to mimic hibernating animals and go under ground — to the basement.

Whether your lowest level needs a facelift or is completely unfinished, Labor Day weekend is the perfect time to make a game plan and get started on remodeling your basement.

Step 1 – Obtain A Permit

Before you can just slap up insulation and drywall, you need to make sure your basement is even fit to dwell in.

Check with your city to ensure there aren’t any permits you need to obtain and that the space is up to code. If you don’t do it right, then this update could haunt you when it comes time to sell.

Step 2 – Get The Air Flowing

You’ll want this space to be warm in winter and cool in the summer. Contact a contractor to see if getting air to this lower level will be as easy as tapping into your current HVAC system and whether or not your existing appliance can handle the extra space.

Step 3 – Design And Frame

Now comes the fun part. Decide what you want down there! A bedroom or two, a man cave, or TV room; a blank slate provides all sorts of exciting options. Once you’ve got a plan, start framing it out.

Step 4 – Add Emergency Exits

This underground level needs exit points that go directly outside. So, install a back door or windows that someone could fit through in case of emergency. If there are bedrooms in the design, they also each need their own exit point.

Step 5 – Insulate And Drywall

While the ground surrounding your home provides some insulation, you’ll want to properly insulate around the perimeter and in between rooms to provide a noise barrier. Then put up the drywall.

Step 6 – Install Flooring

Pick out your flooring, such as wood, tile, carpet or vinyl. It mostly depends on what type of rooms you’re planning to create. Make sure your floors are level before you lay anything down. It’s especially common to find slanted floors in older homes.

Step 7 – Paint And Decorate

You’re almost finished! Pick out your paint colors, move in your furniture and enjoy your new cozy hideaway. Colder weather will be here before you know it, so use the long Labor Day weekend to get this project started.

August 23, 2013

Preventing And Clearing Clogs In Your Home

Category: Around The Home – Tags: – Matt Ward 7:53 am

Preventing And Clearing Clogs In Your HomeYou’re brushing your teeth and you turn on the faucet. It’s not draining and starts to back up. Here’s the dilemma; do you spit and let it sit or run to the kitchen? One thing is for sure; having a clogged drain can be a major annoyance.

Clogs not only frustrate a homeowner but they can be hard on your plumbing. The added pressure they create puts stress on your pipes and can shorten their lifespan.

So end the issue by following the guidelines below. You’ll learn how to prevent clogging and clear the ones you already have.

No Food Down The Drain

Even if you have a disposal, it’s not good for your pipes to have sticky, mushy food shoved through them. Peel vegetables and scrape plates into the trashcan.

Also, avoid pouring grease down the drain. Animal fat can congeal into a solid and form a blockage. Instead, store it in a sealable container in the freezer. Once it’s full, trash it!

Only TP In The Toilets

All feminine hygiene products should be thrown away, because most don’t dissolve quickly enough and can cause a backup. And be sure to secure toilet lids from curious children, because you have to admit that it is pretty fun to watch almost anything go “bye-bye.”

Hair Today, Problem Tomorrow

Don’t wash loose hair down the drain. Collect it and throw it away after your shower. If you shed a lot, it might be beneficial to install drain screens to catch loose hair and make it easy to dispose. Be sure to clean these out every few weeks.

Chemicals Should Be Used With Caution

Be wary about using chemical drain cleaners. They can erode cast-iron pipes and usually don’t remove an entire clog, so it can easily recur. You should consider hiring a professional plumber to snake your drains; or better yet, buy your own augur at the hardware store for about $15.

Homeowners can be hard on their drains. From hair to food, clogs are a time-consuming frustration that might cost you big. Treat your plumbing with a little love and it’ll reward you by quickly removing water and waste from your sight!

For more helpful tips on periodic home maintenance, please feel free to contact your trusted real estate professional today.

August 16, 2013

Tips For Helping Your Kids Adjust To A New School

Category: Around The Home – Tags: – Matt Ward 7:53 am

Tips For Adjusting To A New SchoolAugust means it’s time to get your children ready for school once more. Picking out backpacks, going clothes shopping and finding all the right school supplies can be hectic enough.

However, when you’ve moved and your children have to start all over in a new district, there’s even more to worry about!

Summer fun can make the sunny months fly by. It’s easy to forget that with the beginning of school comes excitement and anxiety for your little ones — especially if they’re starting out somewhere new.

So help them get adjusted with the back-to-a-new-school strategies below.

Explain Why You’ll Be Moving

Whether you’re moving states or just school districts, it’s best to give your children as much notice as possible and explain to them the reason for the change. They’ll need time to get used to the idea and say goodbye to friends.

Be Positive

As the first day draws near, be positive about what they’ll experience. School will be a place where they’ll learn new things and make great friends.

Become Involved

Think about joining the PTA, so you can learn about what’s happening in the school, meet teachers and be able to discuss policies and issues with your children.

Stick To A Routine

A new school is going to hold a lot of unknowns for your little ones. So it’s best to keep a consistent routine at home. This will help children know what to expect and feel they at least have some control in their own space.

Tap Into Their Feelings

Your children might be excited or sad about the new change and they’ll need someone to release all of this positive or negative energy upon. Just listen and be sure not to minimize their feelings. They’ll need an understanding ear throughout this adjustment.

Encourage Participation

While it’s always important for your children to focus on their schoolwork, they would also benefit by joining some sort of club, group or team. The sooner they make friends, the more settled they’ll feel.

Moving to a new Leominster school can be tough on your children, which in turn makes it tough on you.

If you can set aside the time to prepare for the first weeks, talk positively about their upcoming experiences and take the time to really listen to your children, then adjusting to the new environment can be a smooth transition for all.

For more helpful tips on adjusting to a new home and neighborhood, please feel free to contact your trusted real estate professional today.

August 15, 2013

Clever Ways To Pay For A Renovation Of Your Home

Category: Around The Home – Tags: – Matt Ward 7:52 am

Clever Ways to Pay for a Renovation of Your HomeSo you want to renovate your home, but you don’t have the cash at the moment for the project and you don’t qualify for a home equity line of credit?

What can you do to get the money you need to upgrade your property?

Here are a few creative solutions to the problem, so that you can find the money you need to fund your renovations.

Take In A Renter

If you have a spare bedroom or a basement suite, you can rent out your home for a while to help you save money toward the renovations. Taking in a renter can be a great way to earn extra money, but it is important to interview your prospective tenants to make sure that you are renting to someone trustworthy and compatible.

It is also a good idea to make a rental contract so that you and your tenant can be sure that you are on the same page if any conflicts or confusion arise.

Get Rebates And Financing From Your Utility Company

Since the government is pressuring utility companies to reduce their energy use, there are a lot of financial incentives out there for renovations that increase your home’s energy efficiency.

Some utility companies will offer you a loan for the money or rebates on your costs if you are making green upgrades. You might be able to pay off the balance of the loan over the long term as part of your monthly utility bill.

Sell Your Unwanted Stuff

Another way to raise some extra cash for a home renovation can be to sell the extra items that are taking up space in your attic or garage. Try selling them online, or directly to your relatives and friends.

Most families have all sorts of valuable items that they never use, from treadmills to bikes to couches to clothing and kid’s toys. Not only will selling off the things you don’t use make you some extra money, it will also give you more storage space in your home to work with when you are remodeling.

Put In Some Sweat Equity

Why not cut down the cost of your home renovation by doing as much of the work as you can on your own? For most tasks you don’t have to be a professional contractor, you will likely be able to do with the instructions that you can find online.

This can save you thousands of dollars on remodeling costs. However, you should still use a professional for any of the skilled and potentially dangerous tasks, such as installing wiring.

These are just a few ways that you can cover the costs of renovating your Gardner home without a home equity loan, so why not get started right away? For more useful property tips, call your trusted real estate professional today.

August 9, 2013

Quick Tips To Beat The Heat And Save On Your Electric Bill

Category: Around The Home – Tags: – Matt Ward 7:53 am

Beat The Heat With A Programmable ThermostatSummer always brings with it a hard choice: Do you turn down the thermostat to stay cool and resign yourself to high power bills? Or, do you sweat it out to save some dough?

If you’ve been struggling with this dilemma, don’t fret.

With a programmable thermostat, you can beat the heat and save money, too. They are easy to install and can save you over $100 a year.

The key is that they have different temperature settings for certain times of the day. The latest models can be self-installed, are easy to program and can be controlled over the Internet.

Save Energy

This is obviously the biggest perk. Not only are you helping the environment, you’re also helping your monthly budget.

You can preset the thermostat to adjust the temperature when you’re away from the house, so you’re using less energy. Then it can kick back on just before you arrive home.

Save Money

You’ll immediately see a difference in your utility bills when you set your programmable thermostat to turn off for eight-hour periods while you’re at work. Every little bit counts!

Save Yourself The Frustration

If you’re going to be home early from work or are arriving back from a week long vacation, don’t worry about coming home to a sweltering sauna of a house.

Most modern thermostats allow you to access their controls online through a computer, or even your smart phone. With the touch of a button, you’ll arrive to a perfectly comfortable home.

Save Even More

Below are a few tips to keep bills down and your thermostat running efficiently.

  • Make sure you place the thermostat away from air vents, open doorways and windows with direct sunlight.

  • Try to set temperatures for longer increments, such as when you’re at work or while you’re asleep.

  • Every time you hit the buttons you’re using more energy.

  • If your thermostat runs on batteries, change them once a year.

Don’t waste any more energy! Make the investment in a programmable thermostat and start saving this summer. The convenience and lower utility bills will make you glad you did.

For more tips on home maintenance and savings, reach out to your trusted real estate professional today.

August 2, 2013

5 Important Summer Deck Inspection Tips

Category: Around The Home – Tags: – Matt Ward 7:53 am

5 Important Summer Deck Inspection TipsSummer seems to be slipping away quickly. And, while you’ve hosted many barbecues on your back deck, you might not have had time to properly take care of it.

August is the perfect month to conduct a deck inspection and make any repairs before the time comes to prepare it for winter. Below are tips on some issues to watch for and how to fix them.

Inspect The Deck

It’s important to do a thorough inspection of your deck every summer. You don’t want to step through a rotted board or have a railing break away from under you.

Be sure to pay extra attention to places close to the ground or near water sources, such as under planters and next to the water spigot.

Check For Rot

Take a screwdriver and poke areas of the deck that look like they could be rotting.

If you can push the screwdriver in a quarter inch or more, then you’ll need to consider replacing the board. However if the hole is smaller than the size of a tennis ball, you can fill it with wood preservative and save some money.

Get Low

Go under the deck if possible. You’ll need to check the supporting beams for any serious problems. Dangerous scenarios occur when the structure of the deck is compromised.

If you find an issue with a beam that cannot be removed because it’s holding up the deck, then reinforce it on both sides with pressure-treated lumber. Then scrape away the decomposing area.

Shake It Up

Give the railings a good shake to make sure they are structurally sound. Check for cracking around screw and nail holes.

If you find one, then remove the screw or nail, seal with exterior adhesive and drill a new hole to secure again.

Look For Cupping

Cupping occurs when wood absorbs and releases moisture, which may cause the floor planks to bow and warp. You want to make sure that guests and your family don’t trip over unruly slats. It might be a good idea to rent a professional-quality sander and even out the imperfections.

Perform a deck inspection to make sure your outdoor area is in suitable condition. Serious injuries can occur when homeowners don’t take the time to properly inspect and maintain their outdoor living spaces. Not to mention, it saves money to catch issues early and not have to replace the entire structure.

For more helpful tips on periodic home maintenance, please feel free to contact your trusted real estate professional today.

July 25, 2013

How To Bring More Natural Light Into Your Home

Category: Around The Home – Tags: – Matt Ward 7:53 am

How To Bring More Natural Light Into Your HomeOne of the biggest improvements that you can make to your home is to bring in more natural light.

Sunlight is a powerful mood enhancer and a home design that brings in a lot of natural light will automatically look and feel much more pleasant. Not only will it boost your mood, bringing in natural light will also increase the value of your home.

So how can you shed some light on your home’s interior?

Here are a few ways:

Add More Reflective Surfaces

Whenever you add a light and reflective surface to your home, you increase the number of times that daylight bounces around inside the room.

Try painting your ceilings and walls with light or off-white colours. Matte finishes are actually better than glossy surfaces, as they reflect light in all directions at once. Add some metal accents and some mirrors to the space, which will also reflect the light.

Move Your Furniture Around

Do you have furniture that is blocking natural light from coming in? Move your furniture away from the windows so that it will not get in the way of the sunlight streaming into your home.

Add A Glass Door

Is there anywhere in your home where you can exchange a solid door for one with glass in its design? This will allow the light to flow through the doorway and increase the feeling of brightness in your home.

There are plenty of glass doors with superb security features, so they will be just as safe as any other door. Also, if you have a yard or a patio to look out on, adding sliding glass doors will be a great way to let the light in and enjoy the view.

Expand Your Windows

Is it possible to increase the size of any of your windows? If yes, the windows on the south side of the house, will bring a significant amount of sunshine into the home.

Add A Skylight

Adding skylights to your home will bring a lot of natural light into the interior. Also, they are much more private than windows because anyone passing by will not be able to see through them. They also add overhead lighting, so that you will not need to use electricity during daylight hours.

These are just a few ways that you can let the sunshine in and bring more natural light into your Leominster home.

If you have any other home questions, please contact your trusted real estate professional today.

July 19, 2013

5 Important Tips To Protect Your Home From Burglars When You Are Away

Category: Around The Home – Tags: – Matt Ward 7:53 am

5 Important Tips To Protect Your Home From Burglars When You Are AwayAny family would feel violated after coming home to a ransacked house. Burglars look for specific things when choosing a home to break into, and many homeowners are unknowingly inviting criminals through the front door.

Below are five ways you can avoid drawing the eyes of thieves and deter your home from becoming a target.

Beware Of Selling To Strangers

If you’re wanting to sell items on Craigslist or another internet-based classified ad website, attempt conducting your transactions outside of the home.

If you must meet at home, screen the person over the telephone to ensure that they are truly interested in the item you’re selling. Thieves have been known to make appointments just to check out your home.

Be Careful If You Tweet About It

Not all of your friends protect their social media information, or may not have the most virtuous acquaintances. If you share your upcoming vacation or big event, then a mischievous friend of a friend will know the perfect time to forcefully check out your home.

Learn how to limit your social media posts to only your trusted contacts.

Mind Your Trash

Be careful when it comes to taking out the garbage, especially around holidays. Criminals will drive around nice neighborhoods and specifically look for empty boxes of high-price items. Then all they have to do is wait for you to leave the house before they force their way in and nab the goods.

Break down boxes and conceal them in garbage bags or trashcans.

Prepare For Your Vacation

Make sure when you leave on vacation that you put a few lights on timers and have someone collect your mail. A home that is obviously vacant is every burglar’s dream.

And if you’re on an extended holiday, ensure you also hire someone to take care of the lawn – overgrown grass is a no-one-is-home indicator.

Secure The Safe

Just because you put your valuables in a safe doesn’t mean they’re secure. If the safe isn’t installed in a wall or bolted to the floor, then a burglar can just carry it through your front door. They can figure out how to break into it later.

Make the additional time investment to ensure your safe can’t walk out the door.

With a little common sense and by following the advice above, you’ll reduce the risk of your home being targeted by burglars. If you would like more information about keeping your Gardner home secure, please call your trusted real estate professional today.

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