You never know when disaster might strike your area. Even if you live in an area with relatively low threats, your home may still catch on fire, or there might be excessive rain that causes flooding. It is incredibly important to prepare for an emergency so that when the emergency arises, you can move forward with confidence and not get crushed by the panic of not being prepared. Creating a disaster plan for your home can help protect you and your loved ones in time of crisis.
Create 72 Hour Kits
72-hour kits are kits that have all the essentials needed for 72 hours, which include food, water, clothing, and toiletries. 72-hour kits need to be updated regularly and you need to have one for every member of your family so that everyone is taken care of in case of an emergency. For example, if you create a 72-hour kit but don’t need it until five years later, the food may not be good, the clothes might be too small, and the toiletries might have expired. You want to cycle through the materials in your 72-hour kit so that they are usable when a disaster strikes.
Have an Escape Plan
You also want to create an escape plan for your family. For example, in the event of a fire, you want a fire escape route for every single person in your home and a meeting point that’s a safe distance from the house where all of you are to meet up. You will also want to have an emergency contact where you could go if your house were compromised. This may be having established arrangements with a relative who lives an hour away from your family. Besides creating an escape plan, you also want to make sure that you practice it with every member of your family on a regular basis. Keeping the escape plan fresh will help them remember during a time of crisis.
Keep Bug Out Packs
If you know your family may be in danger of a natural disaster, such as a hurricane or a wildfire, but you haven’t yet been told to evacuate, it is a good idea to keep bags ready in case you need to flee at a moment’s notice. These packs are like 72-hour kits, but they contain other important things instead of just necessities. This may include passports and social security cards, an emergency stash of cash, your laptop and other necessary electronics, and your wallet. You want to keep these “bug out” bags in easy reach so that if you are asked to leave your home, you have everything you need.
Invest in a Generator
Other disasters may not require you to leave your home. For example, in the event of a blackout, your house isn’t in immediate danger, so you don’t have to leave it, but it may not be the most comfortable place to stay at if all the electricity is gone. For this reason, it is important to invest in a generator. There are many kinds of generators, from portable ones to large whole home standby generators which run on different fuels, from propane to natural gas. You will need to purchase the fuel as well, but fuel can be very economical. For example, propane tanks come in a variety of sizes, so find the one that fits your needs. Having a generator will give you and your family peace of mind that in the event of a power outage, you will still have power for the necessary appliances and lights.
Create an Emergency Fund
As part of your disaster plan, you should create an emergency fund that is easily accessible during an emergency. This fund should be at least three times the amount of your monthly expenses so that you have a bit of a cushion to fall on if you cannot pay your expenses due to an emergency such as the loss of a job, or an unexpected move. Part of your emergency fund should be a cash reserve in case you cannot access the bank or the electricity to your online bank account for a while.
Purchase Homeowners’ Insurance
You also want to protect your belongings. You won’t be able to bring everything with you if you have to leave unexpectedly in the middle of the night, and if your house catches on fire or is struck by a flood, you won’t be able to save everything. For this reason, it’s important to purchase homeowner’s insurance. Homeowners’ insurance protects your home and your belongings from damage. It is a reassurance that your home (which is a big investment) will be protected in the event of an emergency.
Create a Support Network
It is also important to create a support network around you for times of disaster. This support network should be utilized not just in times of disaster, but it should be in place so that if a disaster were to strike, you and your family would have somewhere to turn. This could be, as mentioned earlier, a relative who lives close by whose house you can crash at. This could also be a coworker or a close family friend who reaches out to you and helps you and your family in any way that you need during an emergency.
Know Which Disasters to Plan For
Depending on where you live, you won’t need to plan for all disasters. If you live in the Seattle area, for example, you probably won’t have to worry about tornadoes, but will have to worry about flooding. If you live in the Midwest, however, you will have to worry about tornadoes. You can’t plan for every emergency, but you can create a plan for the specific disasters of your area.
Emergency preparedness means that you and your family should be prepared for whatever disasters may strike. Creating a plan involves many steps, but the reassurance and confidence that comes from having one makes it worth it.
Read this next: Flood Recovery Tips to Get You Back on Your Feet
If you’re in a position to build or buy a new home, you have the opportunity to make an environment-friendly choice. There are a multitude of ways you can make your next home friendlier to the environment, thereby making a positive impact on your local and worldwide community. Here are some ideas you should try!
Insulation can reduce your dependence on your thermostat to heat or cool your home. This helps keep utility expenditures low. Electricity comes from coal fired plants, so the less electricity you use, the greener your home will be. Additionally, insulation benefits the environment by keeping emissions of carbon dioxide, sulfur oxide, and nitrogen oxide lower. Consider upgrading your insulation to make your home friendlier to the environment and reduce your utility bill.
Custom Build It
Custom building your home is a great way to go green. Choosing to custom build your home gives you the opportunity to use sustainable building materials and energy efficient designs. There are many green benefits to building a home from scratch. Green homes consume less energy, have a reduced environmental impact, are healthier for the inhabitants, save the forests, and have a higher resale value. These are only a few of the many amazing benefits of building a home from scratch.
Install Solar Panels
Solar panels are the most effective way to get green energy for your home. The sun is a reliable source of power, especially in desert areas. Energy from the sun is clean, pure, and free. Solar panels on your roof are an investment that will pay off over time. These panels have low maintenance costs and will help decrease your utility spending and create a more earth friendly and renewable house climate. Installing solar panels is one great way to do your part to reduce the world’s reliance on fossil fuels.
Use Efficient Light Bulbs
Using energy efficient lightbulbs can cut your power bill substantially. All light bulbs need energy to burn; the more efficient your bulb is, the less energy it will burn. More efficient electricity use not only cuts down the demand on local coal fired plants, but it also allows for home installed renewable energy sources like solar panels to step in and produce enough energy to match your demand. Less efficient light fixtures in a home could easily create enough of an electrical burden that solar panels simply wouldn’t keep up with.
Replace an Old Appliance
Old appliances are some of the biggest energy guzzlers in existence. Appliances often use more power than they need to run, resulting in a waste of energy. Newer, more streamlined appliances are much more efficient in their power usage. Old appliances that use water could be using too much water, therefore wasting that precious resource.
Use Low-Flow Water Fixtures
Water is the Earth’s most precious resource. It is vital to all life, so it is important not to waste it. Older fixtures like toilets and dishwashers can waste a surprising amount of water. Investing in smart water technologies is a good way to ensure that water is not being pointlessly wasted. Consider installing low-flow toilets, faucets, shower-heads, and other appliances to save water. Toilets and other appliances and fixtures often come in gallons or liters/use classifications, so make sure you are investing in the best equipment possible.
Invest in New Windows
New windows can really make a difference in your utility bill. Glass heats up and cools down very quickly, and that heat/cold can get transferred inside your home. This temperature transfer can result in more thermostat usage and a higher utility bill. Many old windows are single paned, which means that air can escape (or come in) at an uncontrollable level.
By contrast, new windows will often have two panes of glass with a gas-filled space between. This gap allows for a buffer zone between the inside and the outside, so there is less heat transfer happening on the glass surface. New window systems will keep the air inside your house from escaping, therefore keeping your utility costs down. Additionally, most modern windows are made out of recyclable materials. Invest in new windows for improved air quality and a lower energy consumption.
Go Green in Landscaping Your Yard
Another way you can make your home more environment-friendly is by literally going green through planting trees. Trees are powerful tools in the fight against climate change. They remove carbon dioxide from the air and release oxygen into the atmosphere. They also attract birds and wildlife, prevent soil erosion, clean our water, and add aesthetic beauty to homes and communities. Planting trees in strategic places throughout your yard can also reduce your AC bill.
On the other hand, yard landscaping can be a big waste of water and electricity. When you landscape your yard, consider installing in LED or solar power lights in order to save energy. Install efficient sprinkler systems to maximize water usage efficiency. Avoid watering your lawn every day if possible.
Start a Garden
Planting a garden is a fabulous way to help the environment. Like trees, many of the plants in a garden can fight climate change through their process of organic photosynthesis. When you plant your garden, try to choose species native to your local environment. These native species will thrive better and will not require the host of potentially harmful fertilizers and pesticides to survive.
Additionally, growing your own fruits and vegetables will allow you to start living a more sustainable lifestyle. The produce sold in most supermarkets has traveled thousands of miles to reach your local store, thereby using up a substantial amount of energy. Planting, growing, and eating your own produce will lower your carbon footprint. It will help you live a healthier lifestyle through the physical work of gardening, as well as the mental satisfaction of preparing and eating your own food.
These are only a few ways to make your home friendlier to the environment. As you make intentional, environmentally-friendly choices, you and your family will be healthier, happier, and safer.
Here’s another article you might like: How to Finally Complete the Renovation You’ve Always Wanted
You’re planning the home improvement project you’ve always dreamed of—congratulations! This will be an exciting time full of creativity and possibility. But before you get started, make sure to do your homework so that you can avoid common mistakes and make your home improvement dreams come true!
Find a Trustworthy Contractor
Not all contractors are created equal; make sure that you find a trustworthy, reliable contractor with experience doing the kind of project you want done. Interview several contractors and get quotes from each one before choosing one; don’t just hire the first contractor you see. While it may take you some extra time, putting in the necessary legwork before choosing a contractor will help you find someone who can do great work for a great price. Listing sites such as HomeAdvisor are used by 44 percent of homeowners.
Look for Financing Options
Financing is huge when it comes to making your home renovation dreams come true. After you know your budget and the projected cost of your renovation, spend some time researching financing options. Some common home renovation financing options include payment plans, home equity loans, home equity lines of credit, and refinancing your home. Each of these options come with its pros and cons. As you research each option, you might be surprised to find that your renovating dreams are more possible than you thought.
Make a Plan
The planning stage is arguably the most important part of any renovation project. Don’t skimp on this part—while planning will take some extra time, it will be worth it. There are many items which you should include in your renovation plan: budget, aesthetic, décor, scope, design, and contractors are only a few of these items. Don’t be afraid to make a sizable wish list at this stage! This is the time to think about all the home improvements you’ve always wanted, get creative, and make them happen. While you may not be able to accomplish every single bullet point on your list, dreaming big will help you accomplish more than you think.
It’s true that renovating your home will be a lot of work. However, this work will turn out wonderfully well if you spend time choosing a trustworthy contractor, looking for financing options, and making a solid renovation plan. These three suggestions will empower you to become your own home improvement fairy godmother and finally complete the renovation you’ve always wanted.
Read this next for more great tips: Starting a Home Remodeling Project
A home is often one of the most valuable assets a person has. Disaster-proofing your home is essential, even if you don’t live in an area with frequent natural disasters. There are many different types of disasters you might experience in your lifetime; taking the necessary steps to protect your home will give you the best possible chance of surviving these with as little damage as possible.
Secure Your Foundation
The foundation of your home is critical to its survival during a natural disaster. Knowing that your foundation is strong enough to withstand extreme natural forces will give you peace of mind. Many older homes and houses built more than two decades ago have foundations that will not be able to withstand an earthquake. You should secure your foundation by making sure it’s directly connected to the upper portion of the house. Connecting the two structures will do wonders for the strength of your foundation. If you are unsure about the strength of your home’s foundation, taking steps to get it professionally inspected is a wise choice.
Update Old Electrical Systems
Old electrical systems can cause numerous problems—even disastrous ones. One of the most dangerous problems associated with old electrical systems is that they are more likely to spark fires. The best way to know if your electrical systems require an update is to ask a professional electrician. You can even ask multiple electricians for advice and quotes as to how much a new system will cost. While updating your electrical systems might seem overwhelming and expensive, it will be worth it in order to ensure the safety of your home and family in a disaster.
Keep Your Trees Trimmed
There are more benefits than just aesthetic ones when it comes to trimming your trees. Keeping your trees trimmed will prevent branches from falling onto electrical wires or causing structural damage to your home in the case of a disaster and high winds. Taking the time to keep your trees trimmed will save you from often catastrophic consequences.
Secure Your Roofing
A damaged or compromised roof can cause all kinds of problems, especially during a disaster. Make sure to fix your roof if it’s leaking or in disrepair. There are several signs that can alert you to a possible leak in your roof. These include water stains on the ceiling, drips or moisture on the walls, water spots on your exterior walls under the roof line, moss or mold on an exterior wall, and missing shingles or debris in your downspouts. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should get your roof checked for a leak. Even if the leak seems small and insignificant, it can still be dangerous. Additionally, the material of your roof can affect your home’s disaster readiness. A metal roof is safer because it isn’t flammable like asphalt.
Water is one of the leading causes of disasters throughout the world. Whether it’s as dramatic as a hurricane or as common as a flood in your basement, you should invest in waterproofing for your home. Water damage can be hard to recognize because it often builds up over a period of months or years before it causes a major disaster. You should make sure to waterproof your foundation, roof, exterior walls, windows, and doors. Make sure these are free from structural damage and that any cracks are sealed from the elements. You should also make sure to keep your gutters and drains free from obstructions so that they don’t break or overflow.
For basements, exterior waterproofing is the best solution, although it’s expensive. This process will involve excavating the outside of your house down to the foundation, and then installing a waterproof coating or membrane topped by drainage panels.This helps to stop water from entering your basement.
Repair Damage Quickly
One of the best ways to protect your home from disaster is to repair any existing damage as quickly as possible. If you ignore or procrastinate these problems, the damage can increase over time and easily turn into a disaster all on its own. Common causes of structural damage to houses include water, improper drainage, roof damage, clogged or broken rain gutters, broken windows, and broken doors.
Complete a Home Hazard Checklist
In almost every home, there are certain health and safety hazards that the owners don’t even realize exist. Completing a home hazard checklist can help you identify common safety hazards within your own home. Common items on a home hazard checklist include anchoring pictures and mirrors, bolting bookcases and shelves to the walls, storing breakables in cabinets with a secure latch, securing hanging lights and plants with anchors, and removing furniture and debris from the outdoors. You should also make sure your smoke and C02 detectors have new batteries, know how to shut off your utilities, use a fire extinguisher, and check gas or electrical lines for leaks. After completing a home hazard checklist, make sure to follow up on items needing repairs or updates.
Invest in Insulation
Making sure your home has good insulation will help protect it from a disaster. In freezing temperatures, homes without good isolation can be infiltrated by cold air and wind. If your pipes are left without sufficient insulation the water can freeze, expand, and rip open the pipe, which will obviously cause a major leak. Adding enough weather stripping and pipe insulation can help prevent this problem. Pipe insulation is effective, affordable, and easy to install.
Prepare Emergency Equipment
It’s important to recognize that even if you have gone out of your way to disaster-proof your home, severe emergencies and disasters can still cause significant damage. In cases such as these, it’s wise to have emergency kits prepared ahead of time. Consider preparing basic emergency kits for each member of your family. A basic emergency kit usually includes items such as a three-day supply of water and food, a battery-powered or hand crank radio, flashlight, first aid kit, extra batteries, whistle, duct tape and plastic sheeting, toilet paper, wrench, can opener, maps, and back up cell phone with chargers.
You never know when a disaster might occur, so it’s always good to be prepared just in case.These are just a few ideas to help you get started in disaster-proofing your home. If you need extra help in your preparations, calling a professional contractor is always a good idea.
Read this next: Flood Recovery Tips to Get You Back on Your Feet
When starting a home renovation project, it is critical that you formulate and keep to a budget—after all, while everyone wishes they could draw from an unlimited supply of money, that is obviously unreasonable. Rather, depending on what room you are renovating, you should prioritize the changes you hope to make.
Of all the home renovation projects, remodeling your kitchen is by far one of the best home updates if you want to add value to your home. However, you still can’t renovate everything, especially since kitchen renovations tend to be pricey; you still have to prioritize or at least DIY where you can manage.
The first change you should consider is overall aesthetic appeal. Is everything matching? How is the flooring? If you don’t have $15,000 to do a full kitchen update, focus first on the elements of your kitchen that you can see. According to House Beautiful, this may include a fresh coat of paint on the walls and cabinets, granite countertops, and an updated floor. If you have more to spend, you will want to update your major appliances such as your fridge, sink, or stove.
Just like the kitchen, there is always plenty to do in the bathroom; however, there is not always enough budget to spare for a full bathroom renovation with a new shower, floor, vanity, toilet, and other bathroom fixtures. So, as previously stated, you must prioritize.
The two elements that can really make or break the aesthetics of a bathroom are its color scheme and lighting. You can make a bland bathroom into something luxurious with a pop of color and even a little DIY. So, if you are on a tight budget, the first thing you should do is repaint the walls, update the lighting, and add in more glass or tile fixtures to enhance the effects of your lighting and color. If you choose to update your glass, go for tempered glass. According to Community Glass & Mirror, tempered glass is safer because it breaks into small pieces instead of jagged shards.
Nothing makes or breaks the value of a home more than its curb appeal. That’s why, according to Dumpsters.com, the final most important renovation project is your landscape. If you can spare a couple hundred to get a professional landscaper on the scene, all the better. However, if you plan to do it yourself, make sure you research ahead of time the types of plants that work best in your area and how to keep them. If you feel uncomfortable doing your own lawn, at least practice good maintenance with what you have, and try to add in a couple potted plants or cobblestone walkway.
Now is the perfect time to start a home renovation project. However, when there is so much to improve, it can be difficult deciding what areas of the home you should focus on. In the end, make sure that you stick to your budget and prioritize the things that will add the most value to your home.
Read this next: How to Fund Your Next Home Renovation Project
A recession has many effects on the housing market, taxes, financing options, and more. If you’re hoping to buy a home in the middle of a recession, there are pros and cons to going forward with house hunting.
The Effect of a Recession
Recessions have large effects on the housing market. On the positive side, real estate prices are lower during a recession. Property taxes can decline. Many homeowners are more willing to lower their asking price, and banks are selling more foreclosed properties. Mortgage rates also tend to be lower.
However, you’ll need to shop around. Avoid homes that require extensive repairs—if a home was foreclosed, it may have gone several months without inhabitants or upkeep. Recessions can also negatively affect home values. Be wary of short sales and issues which can accompany foreclosures.
If you are able to make your payments, you shouldn’t worry too much. However, securing financing will be extra tough during a recession. Taking out a loan can be extra complicated, and the fact is interest rates can change significantly day by day based on the type of loan. Banks will be less likely to lend money, especially to those working in at-risk industries. Obtaining a mortgage can be difficult if the lender is unsure if you will still have a job the next day.
Look for a long-term financing option. A principal paydown will give your lender security and make the transaction easier. A loan term of 5 to 10 years at a low interest rate could be the way to go, even though it will most likely require a principal reduction of 10 to 20%.
A recession could be a good time to buy a house if you have 1.) stable employment, and 2.) lots of savings. You will have to be motivated to do your research and pay for inspections on your new home. In addition, you’ll need to be prepared for heavy losses if you find your chosen home is ultimately not the right fit for you. A recession entails an abundance of uncertainty, so having a nest egg is an essential.
If this describes you, then a recession might be the perfect time for you to purchase a new home. If you do not find yourself equipped with financial security, however, you may want to postpone your property search until more secure times.
A recession can be a scary, uncertain time. However, if you will be able to make your payments and finance the purchase, buying a home during a recession can be an excellent choice due to lower rates and extra foreclosures on the market.
Read this next: Mortgage insurance: Added cost to homebuying or smart way to get in?
Spring is a great time to make home improvements and get ready for summer! Here are some ideas for home improvements you should complete before spring ends:
A Patio Area
Create a patio area so you can spend more time outside! If you’re interested in creating a patio area, you should first take some time to brainstorm and figure out your vision for the space. Your patio area may be small or large, but if you approach it with an artistic concept, it will turn out beautifully either way!
You cancreate a patio in your yard by laying stone pavers on top of a sand and gravel base. This is easy and cost-effective because you don’t have to pay for concrete. And, if you change your mind in the future, you can easily pick up the pavers and move them somewhere else. You can spruce up your patio space by adding an outdoor grill, campfire pit, umbrella, and table and chairs.
A pool makes a great addition during the summer because it lets you cool off whenever it’s hot, and have fun at the same time! It can be a multi-functional space for fitness, socializing, and relaxation. But before you get a pool, you should educate yourself on the different types of pools out there, and the maintenance costs associated with them.
Before getting a pool, you need to understand the basics of pool filter maintenance. Here are some important things to remember about pool filters: cleaning your pool often and sweeping its walls and floor will help extend the life of your filter, as well as upkeeping the pool generally. As the filter sucks up debris and scum, it will slowly get clogged with debris and the pressure exerted on your filter rises. Make sure to clean the filter often so it can do its job and circulate the water properly.
Get a Ceiling Fan
A ceiling fan is an inexpensive way to beat the heat during the summer. If you use it strategically in conjunction with your air conditioning system, a ceiling fan can save you money as well. An air conditioner actually cools the temperature in your home, a ceiling fan works by stirring up the air and creating a wind chill effect on your skin. Because of this, you shouldn’t leave your ceiling fans running while you’re not home, you won’t save money or cool your home.
Creating a patio area, installing a pool, and getting a ceiling fan are three home improvements that you should make before the end of spring. These suggestions can help you create aesthetically pleasing spaces in your home and yard where you can relax and enjoy the upcoming summer.
Read this next: Home Improvements That Can Make a Big Difference for Homeowners
The good thing about bathrooms is that most of them are small, and their small size gives the homeowner an excuse to splurge. Because of this, a breathtaking bathroom can give the impression that it cost far more to renovate than it did. Here are some tips on giving your bathroom a more luxurious look:
Glass Shower Doors
Few things say bathroom luxury better than glass shower doors. They make the room elegant, and, according to Desert Empire Mirror & Glass, they can create the illusion of a bigger bathroom. Glass shower doors can be framed, semi-framed or frameless. Framed shower doors have glass panes fitted into a metal frame that runs on a track. Frameless showers have a sophisticated, floating look, and semi-framed doors have metal around the structure that actually supports the door. Glass for these shower doors can be clear, pebbled, frosted, etched, hammered or have an interesting design that resembles raindrops.
Add More Lighting
In lots of bathrooms, there is a fixture in the middle of the ceiling and maybe Hollywood lights around the medicine chest mirror. This is fine, but according to House Plans Helper, there are many other lighting decisions you could make to transform your bathroom into the envy of the neighborhood. Consider an old-fashioned crystal chandelier or sunken lights arranged in the ceiling in a way that resembles a constellation or a grouping of stars. Make those lights around the medicine chest mirror dimmable or replace them with lights that mimic natural daylight if they are too yellow or too blue. If the bathroom doesn’t have a window, consider adding one if that’s possible. Few things beautify a bathroom like natural light.
Add Luxurious Fixtures
Though you might not be in the market for a solid gold toilet seat, don’t rule out gold faucets or even gold towel racks. In a space as small as a bathroom, they won’t cost as much as you think. Other things that can add a touch of luxury to the bath are a footed bathtub, a rainfall showerhead fitted with LED lights, and maybe even a shower stall with body jets or steam. Don’t be afraid to turn your bath into a five-star spa.
Floaty glass shower doors, beautiful lighting and deluxe fixtures can make your bathroom one of a kind that is no longer just utilitarian but rather a place you and your family and friends want to linger in.
Thinking of remodeling your home soon? Check out these tips: 3 Tips If You're Planning on Doing Any Home Improvement During the Spring Thaw
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