Whether you’re hoping to sell in the near future or simply looking to touch up outdated areas, there’s one aspect of home maintenance most homeowners agree is important: curb appeal. It’s a broad term that may reference any number of visible features, meaning there are plenty of ways to enhance the appearance of your house. Consider these ideas – some big, some small – for bringing new life to your home’s look.
7 Ideas to Improve Curb Appeal
(Family Features) Whether you’re hoping to sell in the near future or simply looking to touch up outdated areas, there’s one aspect of home maintenance most homeowners agree is important: curb appeal. It’s a broad term that may reference any number of visible features, meaning there are plenty of ways to enhance the appearance of your house.
Consider these ideas – some big, some small – for bringing new life to your home’s look from the experts at the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.
Swap Out Your Front Door
Create Seating Areas
Rethink the Mailbox
Paint (or Repaint) the Exterior
To find more ideas to increase curb appeal, or to find a certified remodeler near you, visit RemodelingDoneRight.com.SOURCE:
National Association of the Remodeling Industry
If the ultimate goal of your home improvement project is aesthetic, the greatest benefit may come from your personal enjoyment of the new space. However, if you’re looking to add true value to your home, it’s important to consider which projects are likely to bring the greatest return on your investment.
Home Improvements with High ROI
(Family Features) If the ultimate goal of your home improvement project is aesthetic, the greatest benefit may come from your personal enjoyment of the new space. However, if you’re looking to add true value to your home, it’s important to consider which projects are likely to bring the greatest return on your investment.
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If you’re still uncertain about the right investments for your home, it may be wise to consult a local real estate expert who can provide insight on the features that bring the most value in your market.SOURCE:
(BPT) - Demand remains high for energy-efficient, eco-friendly home features, according to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders. In fact, the majority of builders now put energy-efficient windows, heating and cooling systems, thermostats and appliances in their construction, the survey says. If you're selling your home and hope to compete with new construction - as well as set your house apart from other resales - making green improvements could significantly pay off.
"Updating your home with green features can attract more buyers and even increase your home's sale price," says Geoff Lewis, president of RE/MAX, LLC. "Buyers are not only looking for cosmetic upgrades, they also want improvements that will help save them money for as long as they live in the home."
Some green projects you can easily accomplish yourself, like replacing less efficient light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs or LEDs throughout the house, or installing a programmable thermostat. Other improvements may require professional expertise but can result in even bigger payoffs.
Here are five popular green home improvements that could help boost your home's resale value, and save you money until you're ready to sell:
* Windows: Replacing older windows with ENERGY STAR-rated high-efficiency windows could lower your annual energy bill as much as 12 percent, according to the United States Department of Energy. What's more, ENERGY STAR-rated windows may qualify for a tax credit of 10 percent off the cost of the windows.
* Insulation: Most homes in the U.S. don't have enough insulation, according to energystar.gov. Adding insulation and sealing air leaks could reduce annual energy bills by 10 percent. At the time of resale, adding fiberglass insulation in the attic could recoup 107 percent of the cost, according to Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value report.
*Front door: It's a key part of your home's curb appeal and the last exterior feature homebuyers see before entering your house. However, a front door needs to do more than look good. Replacing an older, wooden door with an energy-efficient, secure steel door recoups more than 90 percent of its cost when you sell your home, according to the Cost vs. Value report.
*Landscaping: With warm weather approaching, it's a great time to think about landscaping that has green value as well as cosmetic appeal. Adding trees in addition to flowers can provide shade that will help keep the home's interior cooler in summer months. In fact, according to the National Association of Landscape professionals, planting five shade trees can return up to 100 percent of the project cost when you sell your home.
*Water: Most water heaters last about 10 years, so if your home is older, a new water heater could be a big selling point. A tankless water heater could be even more appealing; because they only heat water when it's needed, rather than consume energy to hold gallons of water at a set temperature for hours, tankless water heaters use far less energy. ENERGY STAR says a tankless water heater could save you up to $1,800 over its usable life - which is twice as long as the lifespan of traditional tank water heaters.
When you're thinking of selling your home, you'll probably invest a lot of time and energy into staging. Consider saving some additional budget for energy-efficient home improvements that may help boost your home's value. A knowledgeable real estate agent can advise you on which green home improvements can get you the biggest return on investment. Visit www.remax.com to find a real estate agent near you.
A tree can shift from asset to liability when branches, trunks or roots suffer an injury and threaten to cause property or personal damage. Insects and disease are also potential threats to valuable trees. Use this five-step checklist to help achieve optimal springtime tree health and ensure that your established trees will thrive for years to come.
Keep Your Trees Green and Your Property Value Greener
(Family Features) Mature trees increase property value by as much as 10 percent, according to the U.S. Forest Service. But a tree can shift from asset to liability when branches, trunks or roots suffer an injury and threaten to cause property or personal damage. Insects and disease are also potential threats to valuable trees.
There are several steps you can take to ensure that your established trees will thrive for years to come. Use this five-step checklist from Lance Walheim, lawn and garden care expert for Bayer Advanced, to help achieve optimal springtime tree health:
1. Renew Mulch. Mulching is one of the best things you can do for your trees – and one of the easier garden chores to tackle. Two-to-three inches of organic mulch conserves water, reduces compaction and helps control weeds. It’s best placed in a ring that extends outward from the trunk at least 3-6 feet.
2. Be Cautious with Water. Make sure you don’t overwater. Unless there have been prolonged dry spells or exceptionally warm weather, most established trees may not need water until mid-to-late spring. Overwatering in spring can weaken trees and promote disease.
3. Protect Trunks. Make sure lawn mowers and weed eaters do not damage tree trunks by wrapping them with trunk protectors (sold in nurseries and garden centers) or surrounding the tree with a grass-free, mulched area.
4. Prune. Because pruning permanently changes a tree’s structure and appearance, you want to prune intentionally. Light pruning of small trees can improve structure and appearance, but be mindful of branch diameters to help guide your cuts. For more information on how to prune trees without damaging them, visit BayerAdvanced.com.
5. Protect and Feed. Now is a good time to treat trees and shrubs susceptible to damage from insects such as borers, aphids, scale insects, whiteflies and others, and taking this opportunity to provide a nourishing slow-release fertilizer is also a good idea. Using an all-in-solution that doesn’t require spraying, such as Bayer Advanced 12 Month Tree & Shrub Protect & Feed liquid or granules, is an easy and convenient way to care for your trees.
As your yard awakens this spring, applying these tree care best practices can help keep your trees healthy and happy for many years to come.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
(BPT) - Malaria, West Nile virus and heartworms - as if you didn't already have enough reasons to fear and loathe mosquitoes and the illnesses they spread, now there's Zika, a virus that is possibly linked to birth defects. Mosquitoes are much more than itchy nuisances; the illnesses they can transmit with their bite kill thousands of humans every year. In fact, some scientists believe malaria, a mosquito-borne illness, has killed one out of every two humans who has ever lived, according to a report in National Geographic.
Keeping mosquitoes away from your home, yard and family is much more than a matter of convenience; it may help preserve your health. Eliminating standing water from your property is the single most effective thing you can do as a homeowner to minimize the presence of mosquitoes around your property. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in still water - puddles and standing water in your yard can be a breeding ground.
"When warm weather arrives, that low spot in the backyard where water always collects becomes much more troublesome than just being an eyesore," says Ryan Larsen, a civil engineer with NDS Inc., a leading manufacturer of water management solutions. "It will attract mosquitoes that will want to lay their eggs in that standing water, but first they need to bite a human or two."
Homeowners may think solving their drainage problems will be difficult and costly, or that they'll end up with an ugly drainage ditch on their property. But Larsen says it is possible to eliminate standing water cost-effectively and attractively. He suggests homeowners take these five simple steps:
1. Identify actual or potential trouble spots.
Is there a low area in the yard where water collects after rain? Are any downspouts or gutters on your home clogged with debris? Does water linger along a retaining wall, edging, walkway or patio after you've irrigated the lawn? Mosquitoes can lay their eggs in very shallow standing water, so anywhere water collects could be a breeding ground.
2. Address the easy fixes first.
The gutters, downspouts and minor collection spots are easily addressed by simply clearing away the obstructions. When those issues are resolved, homeowners should concentrate on addressing low areas, Larsen says. "These muddy, wet areas look bad, can kill grass, attract mosquitos and eventually lead to more serious damage to a property," he says.
3. Determine the scope of the problem.
Standing water on a property can occur in multiple spots, from walkways to lawns. NDS offers an online Home Drainage Center to help you identify your problem, possible solutions and whether the resolution is a DIY project or if you'll need to hire a professional.
4. Choose and install your solution.
French drains, underground drainage and catch basins are typical solutions for many home drainage problems. Placing drainage underground not only minimizes the risk of mosquitoes breeding in standing water, it can preserve the visual appeal of your landscape. For example, for NDS drainage solutions that involve catch basins, the company offers a wide selection of decorative catch basin grates, so the portion of the system you can't hide will be visually appealing. Most drainage systems can be installed in just one weekend.
5. Take steps to protect yourself.
Mosquitoes have been around since the time of the dinosaurs (and they've been spreading malaria for that long, too), according to National Geographic. While eliminating standing water on your property will go a long way toward reducing the number of mosquitoes in your environment, it's virtually impossible to remove them entirely. The American Mosquito Control Association says some mosquitoes will travel 40 miles or more in search of a meal. When outdoors, wear insect repellant on exposed skin and clothing. Choose repellants with an active ingredient like DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Dark colors attract mosquitoes, so wear lighter colored clothing, and burn citronella candles or run a fan near the ground when you're enjoying your deck or patio.
For more information about home drainage solutions, visit www.ndspro.com/home-drainage, where you'll also find instructional videos, the Home Drainage Center, production recommendations, installation instructions and helpful links. You can also email your home drainage questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(BPT) - If you're a part of the nearly 90 percent of Americans who believe it's important to have a well-maintained yard, you and your backyard will appreciate these seven simple steps for tending to your natural turf lawn with minimal effort.
According to Grass Seed USA, a coalition of American grass seed farmers and academics, investing a little repair time in early spring and a small amount of maintenance time in summer will pay off with a lush lawn ready for all your summer activities.
1. Test your soil. Good soil is one of the essentials of a healthy lawn. A soil test is simple, inexpensive and provides valuable information about current pH levels. Simple amendments like lime or sulfur can be added to neutralize overly acidic or alkaline soil and help grass thrive. Find a soil test kit at a local garden store or make your own using common household items.
2. Aerate. Older or heavily trafficked lawns can suffer from soil compaction. A core aerator with hollow tines will pull small plugs of soil out of the ground, allowing increased movement of water, nutrients and oxygen. Aeration can also increase the soil contact with new seeds and promote new growth. You can rent an aerator or hire a professional to do the work for you.
3. Seed. According to Grass Seed USA, the ideal lawn planting season is April through the mid-to-end of October, depending on where you live. Turf specialists at a garden store or local university extension office can help select the right seed for your area and usage, pointing you toward the seed closest to existing grass or suggesting alternatives for problem areas. After seeding, water lightly but regularly, keeping the reseeded areas damp until the new grass grows in.
4. Control weeds. Healthy lawns essentially control weeds by squeezing them out. However, if crabgrass or dandelions invade, herbicides may help. Consult a garden specialist about which herbicide is right for your lawn and how to use it. Applying a pre-emergent herbicide in the spring before weed grass emerges can reduce problems down the line. If you've applied seed, keep in mind herbicides can kill it, so use a product that will not affect new growth. For dandelions, digging them up is often effective, but a broadleaf herbicide may be applied.
5. Water as needed. On average, a lawn needs about 1 inch of water per week, from rainfall or irrigation. Letting the lawn dry out completely between waterings will encourage the grass to grow stronger, deeper roots as it searches for water deeper in the soil. Put a rain gauge on your porch to measure rainfall; skip the watering and save your irrigation money if you receive 1 inch of rain in a week.
6. Fertilize naturally. Don't break your back trying to bag lawn clippings. If you mow frequently (about once a week during the growing season) and don't remove too much height (only one-third of the blade), you can leave the grass clippings on the lawn. They contain the same nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium as commercial fertilizer - and they're free.
7. Mow to the right height. Wait until your grass is 3 inches tall before mowing and then cut it to 2 inches in height. By only trimming one-third of the blade length, you will avoid stressing the grass while leaving enough leaf to protect the roots from the sun - helping you create a low-maintenance, drought-tolerant lawn.
A lawn doesn't need constant pampering. Ongoing lawn maintenance can be quick and easy, and the reward is a beautiful, environmentally-friendly setting for outdoor activities of many kinds. So, fire up the grill, hang up the hammock and get busy enjoying your personal great, grassy outdoors.
More lawn care tips can be found at www.weseedamerica.com.
(BPT) - With the snow gone and the ground thawed, many eager homeowners and landscape professionals across the country are rolling up their sleeves and reaching for their shovels to start projects that require digging this spring.
During the transition into "digging season," Common Ground Alliance (CGA), the association dedicated to protecting underground utilities and the people who dig near them, reminds homeowners and professional diggers that calling 811 is the first step towards protecting you and your community from the risk of unintentionally damaging an underground line.
Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a free call to 811. Installing a mailbox or fence, building a deck and landscaping are all examples of digging projects that should only begin a few days after making a call to 811. Calling this number connects you to your local one call utility notification center.
According to data collected by CGA in a phone survey in late February, more than half (46 percent) of American homeowners said they plan to do DIY projects involving digging this year, but 40 percent of them do not plan to make a free call to 811 before digging. Extrapolated to the full population of U.S. homeowners, approximately 51.8 million people will dig this year without first calling 811.
A utility line is damaged every six minutes in America because someone decided to dig without making a call to 811 to learn the approximate location of buried utilities in their area. Unintentionally striking one of these lines can result in inconvenient outages for entire neighborhoods, harm to yourself or your neighbors and repair costs.
As a result, CGA offers the following tips to make sure you complete your project safely and without any utility service interruptions, so you don't become a statistic.
Here's how the 811 process works:
1. One free, simple phone call to 811 makes it easy for your local one call center to notify all appropriate utility companies of your intent to dig. Call a few days prior to digging to ensure enough time for the approximate location of utility lines to be marked with flags or paint.
2. When you call 811, a representative from your local one call center will ask for the location and description of your digging project.
3. Your local one-call center will notify affected utility companies, which will then send professional locators to the proposed dig site to mark the approximate location of your lines.
4. Only once all lines have been accurately marked, roll up those sleeves and carefully dig around the marked areas.
There are nearly 19 million miles of underground utility lines in the United States that your family depends on for everyday needs including electric, gas, water and sewer, cable TV, high-speed Internet and landline telephone. That equals more than a football field's length of utilities for every person in the United States. With that much critical infrastructure underground, it's important to know what's below and call 811 before digging.
To find out more information about 811 or the one call utility notification center in your area, visit call811.com.
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