9 Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Spring

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Spring’s popping up all over. Longer days, early blooms – these are signs that it’s time to make some simple home repairs after the long winter. Here are 9 simple jobs to take care of in order to make sure you’re ready for the change of seasons.

Inspect your roof. Check for loose or missing shingles, and ensure that seals around skylights are in tact and that chimney flashing is still in good shape. You don’t want any leaks during spring showers.

Check your gutters. While you’re inspecting your roof, inspect your gutters, too. They may have been overworked in the winter, with ice dams and falling branches. Clear the debris, check your downspouts and drains, and make sure the gutters are still secured to the house.

Check your pipes. Pipes that freeze and then thaw can cause some problems. Look for sign of damage under your sinks. And while you’re checking pipes, now is a good time to check your washing machine and dishwasher hoses and do a quick check in the attic, basement and crawl spaces for leaks.

Inspect your siding. Do a quick walk-around of your house and make sure no siding has been damaged or come loose.

Caulk your windows and doors to make sure these are sealed and still able to protect your windows and doors from water getting in.

Check your screens for tears. As long as you’re caulking your windows, check your screens, too. If any have tears or holes, now is a good time to repair those so you can open your windows and let in the fresh air.

Patch driveway and sidewalk cracks. Shoveling and salt can do a job on your cement in the winter, leading to cracks. Repair these now to keep them from growing and causing bigger problems.

Get your heating and air system checked. Call a qualified and recommended HVAC technician to come out and do a check on your system. Your heater worked hard in the winter and now your air conditioning is going to work hard in the summer. Make sure it’s in top condition. And, while you’re at it, change your filters.

Check trees and bushes for broken limbs and snapped branches. Heavy snow can harm trees and bushes. A good trimming can prevent additional damage. Grab your clippers and spend some time outside.

Getting your home ready now means more fun this summer! 

It’s Time to Get to that Spring Cleaning!

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It may be too early to get out and do a lot of garden prep for spring, but it’s definitely not too early to get going on some spring cleaning jobs inside your home. Here are a few things to tackle inside to get your home springtime fresh, while you wait a little longer to start on garden prep.

Clean walls and ceilings. When was the last time you did this? Use a vacuum cleaner attachment to remove dust; test a degreaser in a hidden area of the kitchen to tackle that room’s walls with a degreaser and sponge.

Dust books and bookshelves. It’s time to take books off the bookshelves and actually dust them. And before you put them back, clean the shelves, too. And while you’re at it… now may be the perfect time to donate some of those books that you’re really not going to read again (or for the first time) to a local nonprofit.

And then dust the rest of your house. Dust from top to bottom, in the hard-to-get-to places and in the obvious places. Clean the top of the fridge, the top of curtain rods, the baseboards, and behind furniture. Always work from the top of the home to the floor and don’t use sprays, which really attract and hold more dust.

And then vacuum. A quick vacuum after the dusting will let you get any of the dust that lands on the floors.

Change out the batteries. Now’s a good time to change the tired batteries in smoke detectors and CO2 monitors. You should do this a couple of times a year, so if you do it now, mark your calendar for Halloween and change them out then, too.

Clean window treatments. Some draperies and curtains may be machine washable so read your labels. Some may be dry cleanable. And blinds are always ready for a thorough dusting. These items are dirt magnets. Do it now and you won’t cringe when it’s time to open your windows.

These are a few odd jobs that will get you started on spring cleaning. Don’t try to do the whole house at once. Start with these tasks and tackle others later. When your home is springtime fresh, you’ll be glad you put this effort in!

Teach Your Kids to Love Their Home and DIY Projects

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Do you want your kids to grow up and already love a good DIY home maintenance project or at least understand the value of a clean and tidy home? Start working with them while they are young. Kids actually think cleaning the house or helping with home repairs is fun, so the sooner you engage them in this, the better.

Start while they’re young. While involving kids in housework and home maintenance may take more time, getting kids started while they are young will teach them the importance of caring for a home and taking on some hard work. Kids can hold flashlights, hand you tools or carry a light toolbox. Older kids can help with the screwdriver, replace light bulbs or take part in chores like vacuuming or cleaning

Get kids their own toolbox or yard tools like a kids’ rake or lawn mower. Let them imitate you nearby. This makes participation a game.

Talk about what you’re doing. As you work on home projects such as gardening, painting, repairing, cleaning, talk to your kids about what you are doing. You can teach them more and keep them chatting.

Let them decorate their own rooms. Kids spend a lot of time in their rooms so the more they do to make them their own, the more they will like them. They will also feel ownership and want to be in charge of keeping their rooms clean. Comfortable is important.

Teach your kids about important jobs for home owners that some adults don’t think about, including:

Help them locate the breaker box and flip the correct switch when you lose power. They can also help you label the breaker box, a task that a lot of homeowners plan to take on but never do. Kids love to run around the house and let you know what lights are off or on when you flip a switch.

Show them where to turn off the water for the house or in a bathroom. Kids are known for putting weird things down toilets. No matter how often you say not to, they still do it. Even if you don’t show them where the house water turns off, show them how to turn off an overflowing or running toilet.

Change batteries in smoke alarms. Let kids help you change the batteries in smoke alarms. You should do this twice a year and it’s a great time to teach kids about home maintenance and home safety. This could even be a good time to talk to your kids about a fire evacuation plan.

And make a quick cleaning fun!

Have a Musical Cleaning Event! For a fun cleaning game, turn on your favorite fast song and have a race to see who can clean up the most toys while the song plays. Whenever you turn the song on, the kids clean. ! Kids think this is a blast and race to beat each other. You end up with tired kids and a clean room!

What Can I Expect from My Home Inspection?

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Home inspections are a standard practice when buying a home. No one wants to make the biggest purchase of their lives, only to discover a weak foundation, shoddy electricity and plumbing that will cost $10,000 to repair. A good home inspection can protect buyers from major expenses when buying their homes.

What does a typical home inspection include?
Generally, a home inspector will look at:

The Foundation: Is there evidence of settlement and/or seepage in the basement or lowest level of the home? Is the settlement uneven or are there cracks? What is the structural integrity of the home? What is supporting the home?

Heating and Air Conditioning: What is the insulation like in the home? Is there enough heating and air for the home? How do the systems operate and are they operating properly? What can the inspector see in the way of potential problems in these systems?

Electrical: What does your electric system look like? Is it safe? Are there potential hazards? Is everything properly grounded and bonded? Are all the outlets working?

Roof: What’s happening on top of the house? Are there any general maintenance issues you should know about? What type of roof is it? Are there skylights that need repair? Are there places that are leaking?

Your home inspector should also check out your:

  • Lot and landscaping
  • Plumbing
  • Hot water supply
  • Chimney and fireplace(s)
  • Termite damage/wood damage
  • Attic
  • Exterior
  • Garage

There is a lot of ground for your home inspector to cover, so you want to hire one who will take his time and do a thorough job on your behalf. How do you pick a home inspector? Here are some tips:

1. Don’t trust an inspector simply because the inspector has a state license.

2. Look for an inspector who is associated with a professional inspection organization such as the National Institute of Building Inspectors, the National Association of Home Inspectors or the American Association of Home Inspectors.

3. Don’t only take your agent’s recommendation; ask for three recommendations and then really grill the inspectors.

A home inspection is one of the most important things you can do to make your home purchase a good one. Don’t skip this step!

Keep Your Home Clean and Fresh and Save Money with Homemade Cleaning Products

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Are you in a pinch for some glass cleaner or sink scrub and you’re in a hurry to make the house presentable for some unexpected guests. Chances are good that you already have what you need to make your home sparkle and smell fresh. Here are some quick home cleaning remedies.

Make your own all purpose cleaner and deodorizer: Mix 4 tablespoons of baking soda with 1 quart warm water. Pour it onto a clean sponge and wipe.

Clean your glass. Combine 2 cups of water, 1/2 cup white vinegar or cider vinegar, 1/4 rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle. Add a few drops of lemon juice for a fresh scent. Spray on paper towel or soft cloth and wipe. Don’t use this to clean windows on a hot, sunny day as you risk the solution drying quickly and leaving streaks.

Make lemonade with your lemons:

Combine lemon and salt to shine your chrome faucets.

Rub lemon juice on your cutting boards to help stains fade. Let it sit overnight to really work and then rinse in the morning. As a bonus – this kills some germs, too.

Scrub grout with lemon juice and an old toothbrush.

Put a half a lemon on a small plate in your refrigerator to remove odors; change weekly.

Do more with your dryer sheets. Dryer sheets can help you remove baked on food from pots and pans. Place a dryer sheet in the pot, fill with water and let it sit overnight. Then sponge off in the morning. The antistatic agent weakens the bond between the stuck-on food and the surface of the pan, while the fabric softener works to loosen the food.

Does your toilet need a quick cleaning? Drop two antacid tablets in the bowl. Let them soak for 20 minutes and scrub with a brush and flush. A can of cola works also, if you pour it in and let it soak for an hour before scrubbing.

Combat mold and mildew on tiles and shower curtains. Make a paste of lemon juice and baking powder. Spread it on, leave it for two hours and rinse.

Dust with a paintbrush. A dry paintbrush with bristles that are at least 3 inches long can be used to dust the surface and grooves of your knickknacks. You can use a pastry brush for framed photos and to reach places that are difficult as it’s softer.

Clean your bud vases with rice. To wash a narrow vase, pour in 2 tablespoons of dry rice and 1/2 cup water. Cover with your hand, shake vigorously and rinse.

Spray some hairspray. Spray hairspray on painted walls and wipe immediately to remove marker from walls. eed to remove crayon? Scrub with a toothpaste covered toothbrush or massage baking soda on it with a damp mircofiber cloth.

A little lemon, some baking soda, a hint of vinegar….you’re good to go with your clean home!  Happy home making!

Things You Should Do Immediately When You Move into a New Home

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You have a new home. Here are some great tips for things to do when you first move in to start saving money. Once the boxes are unpacked, tackle these tasks next.

Check the insulation in your attic. You should have about six inches of insulation throughout the attic. If you need more, get more! Click here for a guide from the Department of Energy on proper attic insulation.

Make sure the vents in all rooms are clear of dust and obstructions. Covering vents with anything makes your heating and cooling system work harder. And a quick dusting will help you remove dust and dust bunnies to keep these cleaner. If you need to, have a professional come out and clean all of your duct work.

Mark cracks in the basement with masking tape. It’s not unusual for basements to settle and for the floor to crack. But if you do have a problem with settling and cracking, you’ll want to take care of that sooner rather than later. Cover up the ends of cracks with masking tape. In a few months, if the cracks have grown outside of the original tape, call a professional for some repair work before the problem grows.

Plant some shade trees near your home. Get a natural cooling system working for you. Plant some trees near your house to add shade. Lowering the external temperature of your home can save you from running the air conditioning hard and all the time, when the sun is shining in the summer heat. The sooner you plant them, the sooner they can grow and help cool your home.

If you have to buy new appliances, buy energy efficient. You’ll likely pay more up front for these, but you’ll save money in the end. For example, a refrigerator that uses little energy and lasts 20 years is much less costly over time.

Check your toilets and under-sink plumbing. You don’t want these pipes leaking or discover you have a toilet that is constantly running. A dripping pipe may seem harmless enough, but the cost adds up in water and you may end up creating a mold problem.

Create a home maintenance checklist and run through it for the first time. And then run through it every month. Include things you want to check monthly or quarterly. Check plumbing, vents, outlets, paint, windows, etc. And while you’re at it, include a checklist for changing batteries in smoke detectors, something you should do at least once a year.

These are just a handful of tips to save money. Want more?
Read 18 Things a New Homeowner Should Do Immediately to Save Money.

Look No Further for the Perfect Gift for the New Home Owner

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Are you looking for the perfect gift for friends or family who have just purchased a first home or are moving to a new home? Welcome them to their new neighborhood with one of these gift suggestions for new home owners.

Welcome Mat: Help them welcome guests and give them a place to wipe their feet before coming inside with a new welcome mat. You can find these at any home goods store or have a special mat customized with their name or initials. In either case, you’ll be welcome to their home any time.

Tool Gift Basket or Toolbox: Who isn’t looking for the right sized screw or nail when the move into a new home? And who really remembers where they put the picture hooks? Help the new homeowner get started on some household chores with a hammer, screw driver set, nails, screws, picture hanging kits, painters tape and other odds and ends. And if you know it’s a person’s first home, a new toolbox with the basic tools is even better.

Video Doorbell: If your budget is a bit bigger, new homeowners may like an extra layer of home protection with a video doorbell. These gadgets often have several options with different add-ons and price points.

Home Repair Book: Of course YouTube is filled with how-to videos for home repairs. But how are you supposed to remember exactly what to do when you’re under the kitchen sink? A book of basic how-to fixes is perfect for the new home owner to make quick references.

A Day of Childcare: How much can parents get done in a home when their kids are being entertained by a friend? How about taking the kids out for a day of play at the zoo, museum or park, so Mom and Dad can use the day to the fullest.

Houseplants: A houseplant brightens any room and breathes a little life into a new space. Even if your gift recipient doesn’t have a green thumb, there are some plants that are easy-to-grow with little maintenance. If your homeowner has pets, make sure you pick out a plant that is safe if ingested.

Room Humidifier: A lot of homes don’t come with built-in humidifiers and in dryer climates and in the winter when the heat is running, it’s nice to have the option to pump in a little humidity.

Gift Certificates: A gift certificate to a home improvement store is always welcome by any home owner whether this is their first home or their fifth home. Gift certificates for a restaurant or grocery store make great gifts, too, as they look for a night of relaxation or start stocking the refrigerator.

No matter your budget, big or small, there’s always a little room for a housewarming gift.