How to Prepare for Emergencies in Your New Home (Part 3)

How to Prepare for Emergencies in Your New Home (Part 3)The last in our series, preparing for emergencies in your new home means taking extra measure to protect your investment. Surviving a disaster is just the first part. Recovering takes longer and requires more advance planning. Start by designing your home to help you survive. Here are suggestions to get you on your way.

Prepare for Damage:

1. Reinforce your home:

  • Hurricanes — Check these main areas for weakness
    • Roof: Determine what type of roof you have and what type of bracing you can employ to strengthen it against strong winds.
    • Windows and Doors: Windows or doors broken during a hurricane make your house particularly vulnerable. If wind and water come into the house, they put pressure on your walls and roof and increase your chance of damage. Investigate the structure of your doors and windows to determine if a reinforcing bolt kit and storm shutters are improvements worth investing in.
    • Remember to check your garage door too! Many local governments require garage doors to be able to withstand high winds — learn about your local building codes and find out if your garage door comes equipped or if you need a retrofit kit to stabilize your door.
  • Tornadoes, Strong Winds and Hailstorms
    • Roof: Learn the impact resistance of your roofing type and investigate the possibility of making improvements. If upgrades are not an option, simply knowing what damage you might incur will help you prepare financially for any possibilities.
    • Storm-scape: If you live in a storm-risk location, invest in yard upkeep to prevent additional damage. Eliminate trees that may fall on your home and keep stray or dead branches in check with regular trimming. Consider switching from rock and gravel to wood chips or bark in landscaping to avoid additional damage from harsh objects hitting your home in strong winds.
    • Furniture: Review the location and sturdiness of your furniture. Always secure large or heavy pieces to the wall or floor. If you receive warning in time, move furniture away from doors and windows before the storm hits.
  • Flood — Floods can accompany a large storm
    • Roof: Learn the impact resistance of your roofing type and investigate the possibility of making improvements. If upgrades are not an option, simply knowing what damage you might incur will help you prepare financially for any possibilities.
    • Purchased Homes: If you moved into a home in a flood prone area, improve your security by using waterproofing compounds to seal the walls in your basement.
    • Plumbing and Drainage: You may want to install “check-valves” for sewage traps to avoid back up into your drains. Consult with your local plumber to learn about the options for your home.
  • Earthquake
    • Verify Stability: Check your home’s roof, walls, foundations, chimney, brickwork and other areas requiring fortification. Owners living in older, pre-1935 homes should verify that their house is bolted to the foundation.
    • Furniture and Appliances: Fasten heavy furniture to the floor or wall if possible, and secure appliances that may damage utility lines if they move around. Use patchable cabinetry and get in the habit of placing heavy objects on lower shelves throughout your home.
    • Know Where to Go: Make sure you follow the Drop, Cover, and Hold On! instructions and teach your family members what to do. Identify the most secure furniture and teach children to crawl under it. If no sturdy furniture is available, crouch down near a solid interior wall.
  • Fire

    • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home. Ideal placement is in or outside all sleeping areas. Habituate monthly battery tests for your alarms and change batteries twice yearly at the time change.
    • Create a map or floor plan of your home with windows and doors in each room clearly identified. Designate two escape routes from each room each room. Practice exiting through both doors and windows.
    • Install an escape ladder in upper-story bedrooms and teach family members how to use it.
    • Choose a family meeting place outside where everyone can meet.

2. Get Insurance:

Typically, standard homeowners’ insurance does not cover damage caused by all natural disasters. Tornadoes tend to be covered, but flooding, hailstorms, and earthquakes may not be on the list. Check your homeowners’ insurance policy and speak with your insurance carrier about increasing your protection.

3. Start a Rainy Day Fund for Your Home:

It is never too early to start an emergency fund for your home. Many think it will not happen to them, but a lack of funds for home repairs can easily strip your family of financial security in the moment and for years to come. After putting your heart and soul into your home, you do not want to lose it all. Research the damage most likely to occur to your home given your location, possible risks, and home structure. With that information, you can begin estimating possible costs of damage and start building your fund.

4. Participate in Community Preparedness:

Get Involved In your community’s safety. Visit your local American Red Cross or community center and learn about taking classes to prepare you to help yourself and your neighbors in an emergency. The American Red Cross advises certifying yourself in CPR and First Aid so you can confidently assist those in need. Often, local community centers provide training and host drills to help you navigate the city in the event of an evacuation or need for shelter outside your home.

 

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Expand Your Summer Living Space

Expand Your Summer Living SpaceAs the temperatures heat up and barbeque season is in full swing, the outdoors beckons. Early morning coffee on the back deck as the sunrises and late evening gatherings to watch the stars come out do not require shade, but to fully utilize your outdoor area, consider these tips to expand your living space with outdoor style.

Make a patio

If you do not already have a patio, DIY one in a couple weekends with one of these easy ideas:

  • Laid Pavers: Most DIY stores have pavers available in their outdoor area. Pavers come in standard shapes like rectangles, squares, octagons, and circles, or in abstract shapes that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. Some are brick-like and others are stone-like. No matter which ones you choose, make sure to prepare the patio foundation before laying your pavers. You will find dozens of instructions and online videos like this one to help you on your way.
  • Inset Pavers: For a quick alternative, set large pavers into your existing turf to create a useful patio area. Set your stones on your lawn in the pattern you like. Use a sharp blade to cut around the stone deep into the turf. Move the stone and remove the turf, leveling the soil. Pour playground sand over the soil, and set your paver into the space and level it. Continue until all stones are where you want them. Grass will grow between your stones, giving your patio an old-fashioned look. Pavers set this way shift over time due and may need resetting periodically.
  • Use grass and turf pavers. Popular in Europe, grass and turf pavers have a honeycomb design that allows water to permeate and grass to grow through. The effect is a verdant lawn appearance with the usefulness of a patio. An added advantage is that the earth and grass in the pavers keep your patio area cooler than a concrete or solid paver patio.

Provide shade

No matter where your home is, sometimes you need shade in order to enjoy your outdoor space. Of course, long-term options include planting trees or creating an arbor with vines to provide a natural sun-cover, but for quicker options try one of these:

  • Canopies and Gazebos: Available at outdoor stores, DIY centers, discount retail stores, and even closeout chains, covered gazeboes offer beauty, shade and versatility. Some have mosquito net curtains for an added benefit. You can set them over lawn, an existing patio, or even a driveway for a temporary space. They require some assembly and winter weather may damage the fabric coverings to plan to disassemble and store them after summer and fall.
  • Add shade to an existing porch with outdoor shades. Simple roll-up shades are easily installed and available from most discount and DIY retailers. Custom shades with sturdier hardware (and even motorized roll-up options) that retract into protective covers are the most durable option.
  • Retractable awnings mount on the exterior of your home and extend out over your patio area. Available in both manual and motorized versions, an advantage of retractable awnings is ease of storage in inclement weather.
  • Most simple of all is to set up a patio umbrella. Easy to find and easy to store, patio umbrellas offer a movable shade option. Be sure to set the umbrella in a solid base (metal or water-filled plastic). Adjustable umbrellas offer a tilt option to extend shade time. Protect your umbrella by lowering it at night so moisture runs off, and by storing it during inclement weather. WARNING: an open umbrella during a storm is dangerous both to your property and to your neighbors’ property. If your umbrella comes loose, it can damage power lines and windows, or blow into roadways. If you live in a windy area, opt for a wind-resistant umbrella like these to protect your investment.

 

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How to Prepare for Emergencies in Your New Home (Part 2)

How to Prepare for Emergencies in Your New HomeIn a new home or neighborhood, preparing for emergencies in advance might just save you or your family member’s life. In Part 2, we cover the basics for inside your house.

Know your home:

Learn how to turn off gas, electrical and water lines in the event a disaster damages power lines near your home. Memorize the easiest exits from all rooms in your home. Keep hallways and doorways clear of clutter on a regular basis to avoid family members being trapped, confused, or injured if the power goes out or during an emergency evacuation.

Build A Kit

Create and maintain an emergency kit and keep your kit in an accessible place.

  • Water: Keep at least a 3-day supply of water for everyone in your family. This means 1 gallon of water, per person, each day.
    Ready.gov advises adding a small amount of household chlorine bleach and a medicine dropper to your kit. “When diluted, nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color-safe or bleaches with added cleaners.”
  • Medicine: Keep a 7+ day supply of any medicine your family needs.
  • Food: Keep a supply of non-perishable food that you can make easily.
  • Tools: Buy an extra tool set. Add any additional gear you may need specific to your emergency zone. Keep several flashlights, matches, a camera, whistle, dust masks, can opener and a map of the local area. Add to your set plenty of batteries (any type you need for a radio, hearing aids, cordless power supply, flashlights, etc.).
  • Clothing and Comfort: Prepare a 3+ day supply of varying types of clothing for each person in your family. Keep and emergency blanket and personal sanitation wipes and towels in the kit.
  • Radio: invest in a battery operated or hand-crank radio so you can stay informed.
  • Contacts: Buy an emergency cell phone (a pre-paid one works fine), keep it charged, and with your kit—keep a charger in the kit that you do not remove. Put all your emergency contacts in the phone AND in a notebook in the kit.
  • Paperwork: If possible, prepare copies of all important documents for you and your family.
  • Situation Specific: Remember to adjust the content of this kit for your situation and your family. If you have babies, elderly family members, or pets, if you live in the city or the country, in a single-family home or a multi-unit building the items you need for your kit will vary. Make sure you know what you need.
  • Pets: Many shelters cannot accommodate pets. Find pet-friendly shelters in advance and assemble a pet-specific kit to keep your “best friend” safe.

Involve Your Family

Do not wait until emergency strikes to make sure your family knows what to do. You might be prepared, but if the whole family is not on board it can be a struggle to keep everyone safe. Walk your children through the emergency process you design and make sure they have an understandable instruction manual to reference (we suggest images like on airplanes) if you are not home and they need to act. Post the instructions on the fridge, in the bathroom and on the interior of their bedroom door. Make sure they know exactly how to reach you and emergency services.

Prepare well in advance for important documents or treasured photos. An option is to store images of them on a cloud server accessible from any computer. That way, you are not tempted to waste time searching for them when you need to leave your home.

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From Hi-Tech Race Car to Hi-Tech Home

From Hi-Tech Race Car to Hi-Tech HomeNecessity drives innovation. Last week, quadriplegic former Indy 500 driver, Sam Schmidt drove a modified Corvette around the Indianapolis Speedway by moving his head and biting down with his teeth. Arrow Electronics, a medical and consumer electronics company used existing technology in novel ways to develop this Semi-Autonomous Motorcar (SAM).

It’s not just racecars getting hi-tech treatment. A couple weeks ago, the Nod Gesture Control Ring entered the market. Nod is a hi-tech gadget geared to make your life easier. The ring—designed for wearing on the index finger—allows for continuous control of all your smart devices including phones and tablets, watches, Google Glass, televisions and computers, and even your home’s appliances with a wave of your hand through the air. It comes in 12 ring sizes and works for both right- and left-handed users.

But Wait, There’s More…

Less esoteric devices for home use hit stores earlier this year. These include a sensor to adjust your watering schedule like the Skydrop Sprinkler Controller, that senses fluctuations in moisture and precipitation, and adjusts when and how long your sprinklers run. On the other hand, consider a device that feeds and waters your pets from your smartphone, like the Petnet; no more worrying about overfeeding, and the device sends updates and reminders to your phone too.

You may not want Big Brother looking over your shoulder, but maybe you need Sense Mother to keep you on track. Sense Mother’s “Cookies” sensors attach to almost anything in your home and learn your family’s habits and behaviors. You can train the devices to remind you to drink enough water, or if you leave the refrigerator door open too long. It will tell you if your kids need to brush their teeth longer and let you know you forgot to water the plants.

Home Intelligence Devices

Belkin’s WeMo devices work with your home electronics and even your outlets, sockets and switches. Connecting through IFTTT (if this then that) Web technology, WeMo controls turning lights on and off, and measures and monitors energy consumption. It adjusts for the weather, responds to sports scores, and reacts to pretty much any other scenario you can create for it. It interfaces with Google Calendar, Evernote, Facebook, Twitter, and your home’s smart security system so if someone enters your home, WeMo can tweet you. You no longer have to pay for a cook, just let WeMo turn your oven or slow cooker on and offer your family perfectly cooked meals. Use its motion technology to warm (or cool) rooms as you enter them. The WeMo App, for your smartphone or tablet, works over Wi-Fi and 3G/4G.

Tech Just for the Kitchen

More narrowly focused devices make life in the kitchen easier. Consider the Egg Minder if you worry about salmonella, or the Prep Pad to keep your macronutrient levels just right. The GE Brillion app for your Android or iPhone works with several GE Profile wall ovens to enable remote cooking from turn-on and preheating to temperature changes and checking your roast’s internal temperature.

Walk in the door from work with dinner DONE!

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Use Memorial Day Sales to Your Home’s Advantage!

Memorial Day SalesKeeping your home comfortable and up-to-date seems like an expensive endeavor. With trends changing so fast, our wallets can hardly keep up! Lucky for us, Memorial Day is just around the corner. If you shop smart at the sales this holiday you can give your home the facelift you desire.

5 Simple and Affordable Options to Look for Deals on This Holiday:

1. Curtains: For bathrooms, bedrooms, or living rooms, a simple curtain change can do wonders to the look of your room. Memorial Day is great for getting those curtains you have been lusting after for months, on clearance! Look for great deals on trending summer patterns. If you shop early and wisely, you can update multiple rooms in your home by making the one simple change.

2. Couch and Chair Covers: Want to lighten your furniture for summer? Look for great couch covers to change up your look and create a blank canvas for new colors and patterns. Try out upholstery changes in your dining room by purchasing chair covers with patterns and colors similar to upholstery changes you might be considering.

3. Throw Pillows and Blankets: Experiment with new colors and patterns without breaking your budget or making big changes to your home using pillows and throws. Find new styles to mix and match this summer and let them marinate in your home a couple months before you make more permanent renovations.

4. Duvet Covers: Give your boudoir multiple personalities to match your different moods! You will keep your wallet in check by giving yourself simple ways to switch it up without making large purchases.

5. Rugs: Rugs come in varying sizes, shapes and prices but you don’t have to make a large investment to get something classic, classy and fun. Summer rugs are usually lightweight canvas, jute, and sisal. These materials add a fresh, airiness to your home that is great for warmer months. Shop rug sales over the next few weeks and grab yourself a second option to use until winter!

Great Stores for Home Decor Deals:

Online and Off

TIP: Many of these stores offer their best deals on site instead of online. This being the case, we remind you of a typical sales tip. GO EARLY! Most of these shops are located in or near malls; you might only be shopping decor but everyone and their mother is shopping for something. Be sure to get in early to get what you want!

Online Only Shopping

TIP: Many stores/brands also have an Amazon or Wayfair presence in addition to their brick and mortar location or even their own website. Since consumers expect to find deals at these locations, sometimes it is best to find what you want online then search for it again at a place like Amazon—pricing is not always different, but when every dollar counts, it is worth the extra Googling.

Plus! Do not forget to check in with your local boutiques. They might be small but they love to get you a good deal too! Big stores seem to have better sales, but a truly unique home comes form that special piece that only you have.

TIP: Check in with your favorite boutiques early and make sure you know when their sales start. Small shops do not carry as much inventory as chain stores and they tend to start their sales a couple days (or weekends) early to keep up with the competition.

Our Gift to You! Here are some links to promo codes and coupons for upcoming sales!

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How to Prepare for Emergencies in Your New Home (Part 1)

How to Prepare for Emergencies in Your New HomeWhen you move into your new home, you may not think to revise and update your emergency plan, but natural disasters strike without warning. Avoid being caught without a plan in place at your new address. Here are ten steps to take to make sure you are ready the day you move in and continue staying prepared to keep your family safe.

Plan for safety and make a plan:

Sounds simple, right? Despite all of the natural disasters, fires, storms and mishaps in the news, many people do not have a plan for where to go, what to do, and how to reconnect with family members.

1. Learn what disasters affect your area and stay in the loop to receive early warning. Local city or community websites often provide information about natural disasters affecting your area. Use your community’s resources to prepare.

  • WEAs: The national weather service provides free Wireless Emergency Updates (WEAs)—text message warnings and updates customized to your area. Check with your wireless carrier to make sure your device is WEA-capable and the service is enabled. Capable devices automatically receive government updates.
  • Check out apps like Weather Bug and Simple Weather Alert that offer weather warnings straight to your phone or desktop.
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio for information.

2. Know where to find shelter locations and learn how to “shelter in place”: Make sure you know where in your home is the safest and what community resources you can rely on to help you if you are not able to get home. If you have children, investigate the emergency response plan at their school to double-check their safety outside the home.

  • Hurricanes: Turn off propane tanks and small appliances. Switch your fridge and freezer to the highest setting and secure them closed if possible (if the power goes out you’ll want the cold to last as long as possible). Close all windows, doors and hurricane shutters. If possible, board up any windows without hurricane shutters (hurricane specific items to keep in the kit discussed below).
  • Tornadoes and Thunderstorms: Know where your safest underground shelter is at work and at home, i.e.: basement, storm cellar, etc. If you do not have an underground shelter, find your most protected interior room such as a closet, hallway, or bathroom.
  • Floods: When you receive a flood warning, whether at home or outside, move immediately to higher ground. If you are outdoors, be aware of drainage channels, canyons, or streams nearby. They fill with water quickly and may cut off your evacuation route.
  • Earthquakes: Secure furnishings, decor, and appliances to avoid damage or injury during ground movement.
  • Safe Spots: Know the safe spots in your home—inside walls and under furniture—and areas in your home to avoid near hanging objects, windows, and mirrors.
  • Self Protection: When an earthquake starts, drop to your hands and knees and move to the nearest safe spot immediately while covering your head and neck. Secure yourself and continue bracing your head and neck.
  • Fire: When a fire occurs in your home, get out and stay out. Move to safety before calling 911. Create a map of your home and memorize all possible exits to escape the fire. Practice low-crawling and Stop, Drop & Roll. Select a meeting place for your family so everyone knows where to go once they get out safely.
  • Evacuation Preparedness: City or community-wide evacuations can be chaotic and scary; keep yourself calm and safe by preparing ahead. Make sure your safety kit (below) is accessible in the event you need to evacuate quickly. Keep extra fuel available for your vehicle—you may not have enough warning to get to a gas station before needing to evacuate. Visit your local community website to learn the evacuation procedures and locations for your area so you know what to do. Obey evacuation orders immediately. Stalling to “see if you really need to” puts yourself and others in danger and taxes emergency personnel unduly.

 

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What to Know about Your FHA Mortgage Insurance

FHA Mortgage InsuranceAn FHA mortgage is a loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration. The FHA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, insures loans so that lenders will offer appealing rates to less qualified borrowers at a lower down payment. Typically, an FHA loan requires a down payment of just 3.5 percent and allows sellers and lenders to offer special incentives. In return, FHA-approved lenders may charge a higher interest rate, so borrowers should shop for the best rate among FHA-approved lenders. Your payment includes a premium amount to pay for the mortgage insurance the FHA provides.

Result of Premium Hikes

Many of the mortgage defaulted on during the housing collapse were FHA insured homes. In response, the FHA began raising premium rates and fees in 2010. Now at their highest to date, premium rates and fees were raised at least five times since then, resulting in borrowers paying roughly $100 more per month in out-of-pocket expenses for home ownership on a $150,000 home. Upfront premiums are higher too. According to Robert Freedman at the National Association of Realtors, the result is a reduction by 90 percent in mortgage originations among borrowers in the 620 to 680 credit score range among moderate-income households simply because they cannot afford the additional $1200 in annual payments.

Is an FHA Loan Still a Good Deal?

If you dream of homeownership but cannot quite save up the 20 percent needed for a conventional loan, an FHA loan may still work for you. Just know that your payments will be higher than in the past. Qualifying is more stringent too, since lenders my baulk at credit scores lower than 620 even though the FHA only requires a score of 580 to meet its 3.5-percent down payment option. As a potential aid to borrowers, the upfront premium may be rolled into the loan, spreading that cost out over time.

Ways to Reduce Payments

The annual premium varies according to the size of down payment, or if you are refinancing, by the amount of equity you have in your home. If your down payment is at least five percent, you may qualify for a lower premium. Additionally, utilizing a graduated payment loan or adjustable rate loan may result in lower initial payments. The best way to reduce payments, however, is by making a larger down payment. The FHA allows portions of the down payment to come from family gifts as well as from personal savings, so if your family is on board, you could get a lower rate.

Qualify for a Better Loan

More than anything else, borrowers should consider avoiding these mistakes when looking to qualify for an FHA loan. Do not make large purchases on credit before applying for your loan. Your debt-to-income ratio weighs heavily in your ability to qualify for a loan. Work on your credit score. The higher your credit score, the better your chances. Be careful and deliberate in how you use credit, make payments and pay down existing loans. Avoid overbuying. Your first home does not have to be your dream home. Consider it a starting point on a lifelong journey to the right home at the right time.

We specialize in helping you find the right home for your situation. Call us today to get started.

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Current Color Trends — Sophisticated Gray

Current Color Trends — Sophisticated GrayOut with the old … beige, cafe au lait, pale mocha, bone … favorite neutrals for the past decade, may give way to more sophisticated gray-based neutrals. So you might ask, isn’t gray just black and white mixed? Well, yes and no.

Know Your Undertones

Paint makers offer more than 50 different shades of gray, so before choosing a new color-scheme for your home, you need to know how grays work with other colors. Have you every put a gray top with gray slacks only to see that they clash? That is because they had incompatible undertones. In color theory, an undertone is an additional color added to a base color to give it subtle shading. The cosmetics industry popularized a designer’s secret by offering warm and cool shades to match varying skin tones. In paint color science, undertones add coolness, warmth, edginess, calm and a myriad other feelings. In the gray families, you will find blue-grays and red-grays, golden-grays and green-grays, and even purple and brown/beige grays.

Finding the Right Gray

Years ago, local paint shops were colorists. Designers might request three drops of green and two drops of black in their “white” paint to give it a pleasant not-quite-so-harsh-white “feel” even though to the naked eye it just looked white. Alternatively, color specialists would add one drop of blue with two drops of black to give a bluish tint to a pale gray wall. Many designers had their own special color mixes. The advent of big box DIY stores gives homeowners access to designer color pallets without the designer consulting fees, but being able to buy any shade you want does not mean you are buying the right one for your needs. If you already own furnishings, artwork, carpeting and upholstery that you intend to keep, finding the right gray neutral is paramount to enjoying your decor.

  1. Select from several paint brands, types (eggshell, semi-gloss), and designer offerings. Do not just select colors from brands in your “price range.” Many paint stores offer to color match custom colors if necessary.
  2. Hold the various paint swatches next to woodwork, upholstery, brick or stone, carpeting and other furnishings to narrow down your choices.
  3. When you have three or four choices, have your paint store mix a sample (most stores will do an eight ounce sample for you).
  4. Grab a roll of butcher paper and paint large swaths of color on separate sheets.
  5. Tape the swaths to your walls, moving them around throughout the day so that you can see how light reflects off them. If you have LED lights, the colors will appear different from compact fluorescent lights or sunlight.
  6. Since incandescent light bulbs are phased out, now would be a good time to change out your bulbs so that your color choice will delight you for years to come.
  7. Be sure to place colors near your carpet, woodwork, stonework, trim and windows.

Be patient with the process. Selecting the right color—one that works in daylight and lamplight, sunshine and overcast—might take time. Getting in a hurry might end up costing you more when you find your color scheme depresses you in the early morning light.

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How Does a Pool Affect My Home Value?

How Does a Pool Affect My Home Value?As temperatures begin to rise, the lure of sparkling sunlight reflected off rippling blue water draws many homeowners to invest in an in-ground pool. That a pool adds to quality of life, there is no doubt. When it comes to adding value to your home, however, that question is more difficult to answer. Before you dive in, consider these points.

Know your buying pool

The general demographic of your neighborhood often determines if a pool is an attraction or a definite turnoff. When the trend is young families with small children moving in all around you, a pool would hinder many potential buyers from looking at your home since pools are a hazard to small children. Conversely, if most nearby homes otherwise comparable to yours have pools, adding a pool might draw buyers.

For homeowners without children, or for families with older children, the right pool can be a great attraction. Pools often become the gathering place for neighborhood youth, single adults or child-free couples, and extend a home’s entertainment space.

Know your long-term plans

When you know that you’ve bought a starter home, and that you will be selling and moving within five to seven years, a pool may not be the best investment for you even if it increases the market value of your home. In-ground pools are expenses, often running into the tens of thousands of dollars between ground preparation, installation, adding protective fences and alarms, and obtaining permits. Unless you keep the home long enough for the market price to surpass the cost of the pool, it could be a net loss.

On the other hand, if you intend to live in the home for a decade or more, the cost of the pool may be absorbed into the increase in value of your home. A caveat however: as the pool ages, the potential for mechanical or structural failure increases. Constant maintenance will keep the pool in the asset column but a poorly maintained pool can detract from your resale value.

Other aspects to consider:

  • How much space do you have?
    Adding a pool to your yard decreases the usable yard space. If you have plenty of room, say a third of an acre or more, giving up space to a pool is no problem. A smaller yard, however, might require a smaller pool. If the pool is too small to be useful for exercise, recreation or entertainment it might be a distraction.
  • What privacy level do you need?
    Consider your comfort level and whether you will use a pool that is exposed to your neighbors’ view from upper windows and decks, low fences, terraced lots or otherwise visible to passersby.
  • Does the community have a pool?
    If your community development shares a pool, having a private pool may be less of an enticement to purchase, so factor the availability of nearby facilities into your calculations.
  • Do you have the time to maintain a pool?
    As noted above, pools in poor condition may hinder a home sale, so determine ahead of time if you have both the time and ability to maintain a pool. If you are very busy, or physically unable to clean and care for your pool, but you still want one, hire a qualified pool service professional to keep your pool looking and functioning at its best. Factor the cost of a pool maintenance service into your investment.

Every location differs when determine the return on investment for a pool. If you are looking at selling within five years, give us a call and we will help you determine if a pool is right for your property. If it is not, and having a pool is a high priority for you, we will help you find a home with a pool or where a pool is a more beneficial investment for you. Contact us now. We can help.

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Pamper Your Home with More Spring Cleaning Tips

Spring Cleaning TipsWe all love a good pampering. Your home is no different. A little spring sprucing gives you house that extra special attention it needs. Whether you start on the inside or the outside, give your home some special treatment and it will reward you with more comfort, extra space and a bright, clean environment.

Post Winter Clean Up

During inclement weather, dirt and grime builds up in corners and crevices. Attack tight spaces between fences and garden sheds or around foundations with a strong stream of water to dislodge debris. Rake decaying leaves and foliage from around your foundation. Clean out your gutters (or call a gutter service), because clogged gutters during a heavy rain puts your roof at risk of water damage. In fact, this is the perfect time to have your roof inspected too.

Stow Your Winter Equipment

If you have cold-weather equipment, now is the time to clean and service it, check for rust, salt or de-icing residue and store it away for next year. In fact, storing away your fall and winter paraphernalia gives you more space to set up a garden bench, composting bin or patio furniture. Remember to schedule the reverse in the fall: clean and stow your summertime equipment in preparation for winter. Pull out your gardening tools and make any repairs needed.

Take a moment to go through the contents in your car. Switch out anti-freeze for bug cleaner and stow your winter emergency gear. Change out that ice-scraper for a sun shield, and replace your wiper blades. Add a summer survival kit (water, sunscreen, insect repellent, towel) to your trunk.

Clean the Outside

Whether you have vinyl siding, brick or stucco, soot, grime, mold and mildew builds up. If your siding is vinyl and you can reach, a Bob Vila recommends using a soft cloth or brush and a mixture of 70% water with 30% white vinegar or, alternatively, a mixture of an oxygen-based bleach with powdered household cleaner. Other general cleaners, especially if they are biodegradable, will work well too, but avoid harsh cleaners or abrasive scrubbers. If you use a pressure washer, make sure to follow the advice of your siding manufacturer.
To clean stucco, stone or brick, use a power washer, but watch the PSI since too strong a stream can dislodge mortar and loose stucco. Remove mold, moss stains and mildew with chemicals specially formulated for your exterior type.

Moving Indoors

Now that the outside is sparkling, you can tackle of those projects you have been putting off. Clean out the pantry. Get rid of expired foods and cans, and wipe down the shelves. Move older items to the front for easier access. Pull everything out of your freezer and toss those with freezer burn (and anything older than this list compiled by at Food Safety). If you do not date your frozen foods, now would be a good time to start.

Gather all your old books, magazines and newspapers. Recycle the newspapers and pass the magazines and books along to a shelter, senior center or free library. Get rid of envelops and junk mail that may have gathered and toss the holiday cards (or store them if you’re sentimental). Clean the clutter from your refrigerator front to make room for new photos, art and postcards.

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, you can clean it using this 15-minute method, or call a chimney sweep.

Purge the Closet

Pull out winter clothing you didn’t wear this season and pass it on to someone else. Store your remaining cold-weather duds in plastic storage bags. If space is an issue, use the vacuum-style storage. Switch out flannel sheets for summer-weight ones and put away the heavy comforter in favor of a lighter coverlet.

When you’ve spruced up your house, you can decide if now is the right time to put it on the market. We can help you with that decision, so give us a call.

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