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
Remodeling a house is often necessary once the property becomes outdated and has a lack of functionality. As a homeowner, it is necessary to plan for a remodel if you want to increase the value of the house and boost its appeal. You also want that process to be as easy and stress free as possible, without breaking the bank. Here are a few important tips to follow to take the headache out of an upcoming home remodel.
Plan, Plan, Plan!
Planning each step of the remodel is necessary to avoid mistakes or complications that can occur. Whether it is choosing the features that will be upgraded or the design of the rooms, you will need to have a detailed plan in place and write out a clear timetable. Fortunately there are a number of apps that can help plan out a room's look. Using apps can allow you to save images for inspiration, create a checklist, and even write out a budget to make everything easy to access on your smartphone or tablet wherever you are.
Get the Proper Help
One of the most common mistakes homeowners make is attempting to remodel their property without the help of trained and experienced contractors. Although hiring trained professionals may be an investment, it can allow you to avoid stress and costly mistakes throughout the process. For large projects, you will need more people than you realize. Although you may be able to break down a few walls or paint, you will need to hire professionals to perform the electrical wiring or plumbing, which are more complicated parts of the remodel that are best left to the pros. Get referrals from friends and research reviews online to ensure you can find contractors you trust while getting estimates.
Budget for Issues
Although you may know how much money you have to spend on your remodel, it can be easy to exceed your budget due to unexpected expenses that arise. You may find mold in the walls or electrical issues, which will require spending more. Make it a point to set aside a portion of your budget for potential issues to ensure that you can resolve the problems without having to stress.
Knowing how to plan for an upcoming remodel can allow you to avoid unnecessary stress and headaches as you transform the look of your property. With the right tools and professionals used, you can have a smooth and successful process that yields beautiful results while improving the quality of your home.
Painting is one of the easiest and most impactful DIY projects for homeowners to quickly update their homes. Whether it’s a new look in a master bathroom, adding a pop of color to the guest room, finishing off a basement remodel or anything in-between, a fresh coat of paint provides a fresh spin that’s all your own. To make your painting project go smoothly, consider following these important steps before diving in to your DIY painting project.
4 Steps for DIY Paint Project Success
(Family Features) Painting is one of the easiest and most impactful DIY projects for homeowners to quickly update their homes. Whether it’s a new look in a master bathroom, adding a pop of color to the guest room, finishing off a basement remodel or anything in-between, a fresh coat of paint provides a fresh spin that’s all your own.
To make your painting project go smoothly, consider following these important steps. Take this task list from the experts at Purdy Professional Painting Tools into account before diving in to your DIY painting project.
Find inspiration. Having a final design in mind before starting your project can help you plan. From the obvious wall color to more intricate details like painting trim, doors, the ceiling and more, starting your project with a plan can help you avoid multiple trips to the store.
Remember, the details are important: incorporating the correct types and sheens of paint, using complementary colors, buying the proper amount of paint and more.
Collect the right tools. Part of the planning process includes ensuring you have the proper tools for the project. A paint brush, roller cover, roller frame, paint tray and extension pole are the basic essentials for your project’s success. From step ladders and putty knives to wood filler and drop cloths, it’s crucial to have everything you need.
However, keep in mind that not all tools are created equal. For example, when you use a high-quality paint brush, you’re more likely to paint straight lines when cutting in to corners and walls. You may also notice a much smoother finish, one without unsightly brush strokes, which means a more visually appealing result with less effort, too. One option is Purdy Brushes, which are specially designed and hand-crafted to ensure you get professional-quality results every time.
Prepare the area. Proper planning for your project depends on which room in the house you’re painting. The main rules of thumb include removing everything from your walls – including curtains, decor and switch plates – using drop cloths to cover floors; removing or lowering light fixtures from the ceiling; and emptying the room of tables, lamps, furniture and other movable objects. If this isn’t possible, push all the pieces to the center of the room and cover with drop cloths.
Don’t forget to prepare the surface you are going to paint. Patch and sand any holes or imperfections. Then wipe down surfaces you plan to paint with warm water, which helps remove dirt and dust that can sometimes prevent paint from adhering. If possible, open windows for better ventilation once you’re ready to start.
Clean up. When the painting process is finished and you’re appreciating the hard work, don’t forget the job isn’t done until you’ve properly cleaned up. Paint brushes and roller covers should be washed promptly after use to ensure they can be used again. Use warm water and mild detergent to clean then let air dry. If you end up with leftover paint, it can be helpful to save some for future touch-ups. One helpful tip is to write on the can what room or walls you painted, the date and color name. This information can be beneficial should you need to purchase more paint at a later date.
Find a tool selector to help you find the best brushes, roller covers and painting accessories for your project at purdy.com.SOURCE:
When it comes to tackling a backyard makeover, there is no time like the present to start planning. Unless you’re planning to build your own deck, one of the first items on your “to-do” list should be hiring a contractor. To help ensure you find the right professional for your project, consider these five often overlooked questions.
5 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Decking Contractor
(Family Features) When it comes to tackling a backyard makeover, there is no time like the present to start planning. Unless you're planning to build your own deck, one of the first items on your "to-do" list should be hiring a contractor.
Quality deck builders can book up quickly and often have waiting lists by early spring. By doing your research in advance, you can ensure a spot in the project queue and have a brand new deck in time to make the most of outdoor living season.
While many questions are obvious, such as costs and timelines, homeowners sometimes overlook other key considerations when vetting contractors. To help ensure you find the right professional for your project, consider these five often overlooked questions:
1. Are you and your company licensed and insured? Make sure the contractor you choose has insurance and the required licenses to obtain permits by calling his or her insurance company for verification. Without such coverage, you could be held accountable for property damage or injuries that occur on your property.
2. How will the permit process be handled? Nearly every deck building project requires a permit. If you build without the necessary permits, you may have issues with paperwork or have to pay a fine when you try to sell your home. Most deck builders handle the permit process but be sure to obtain a copy for your records.
3. What decking materials do you work with? Your deck is a permanent addition to your home that affects its value, so it's important to choose a contractor who is skilled and comfortable working with your preferred material. If you want to build with composite, for instance, Trex Company, a leading brand of wood-alternative decking, has an international network of pre-screened and hand-selected contractors, known as TrexPros, who have completed specialized training in working with high-performance, low-maintenance composite decking.
4. Can you provide references? It's one thing to read online reviews, but to personally speak with a previous customer offers another level of reassurance. Once your preliminary questions have been answered and you feel comfortable with the contractor, take the time to contact a few references to ask questions about the quality of work and overall experience to help ensure you are making a good hiring decision.
5. Do you offer a warranty? Typically, contractor warranties only cover structural damage related to the construction of the deck. Reputable builders should provide a written statement that spells out the type and length of time they will guarantee their workmanship. Be sure to also inquire about any manufacturers' warranties on the products being used. For example, Trex decking is backed by a 25-year limited fade and stain warranty.
Find more information and other common questions at trex.com.SOURCE:
Bathroom and kitchen upgrades are among the most popular home renovations, but not just because the improvements are likely to increase the home’s value. Renovations to these high-use areas can enhance the practical enjoyment of your home while adding aesthetic appeal and style.
Home Upgrades that Really Work
Ideas and inspiration to create more functional spaces
(Family Features) Bathroom and kitchen upgrades are among the most popular home renovations, but not just because the improvements are likely to increase the home’s value. Renovations to these high-use areas can enhance the practical enjoyment of your home while adding aesthetic appeal and style.
A Better Bathroom
Aging and Accessibility
Create a New Kitchen
It’s the hub of the home, so it’s no surprise that many homeowners start with the kitchen when they’re planning functional upgrades. New appliances, countertops and tilework all add to the style and function of a kitchen, but don’t overlook these highly functional features that can make your home more enjoyable.
Find more ideas and inspiration for your kitchen or bathroom upgrade at jcpenney.myhomeprojectcenter.com.
Planning Your Project
Define your desires. Although obvious, many homeowners find this to be among the most challenging aspects of a renovation. Start by determining the scope of your project. It may be just a new tub or shower, or it may be the entire kitchen. Some homeowners find it helpful to consider their project in terms of must-haves and nice-to-haves so it’s easier to make adjustments as obstacles or finances require.
Set a budget. The easiest way to overspend on a renovation is to go into it without an established budget. If you specify what you can afford from the outset and plan against that budget every step of the way, you’re more likely to feel satisfied with your investment in the long run.
Expect the unexpected. If possible, review a blueprint of your home (or have your contractor take a look) to identify details behind the wall, like the layout of the plumbing and electric lines, which can be costly to relocate. It’s also a good idea to take a thorough inventory of your current space so you’re aware of any damage or wear that will need repaired before you begin.
Hire the help (or not). With some preliminary information on the complexity of the job and a better idea of exactly what you’re hoping to accomplish, you should be able to make a decision about whether the project is something you’re prepared to tackle on your own or if hiring professionals is more likely to provide the results you’re seeking.
Monitor progress. Even if you’re handling the project on your own, it’s a good idea to continually monitor the project in terms of budget, timeline and quality of work. It’s easier to make corrections as you go than to get to the end and discover a problem that needs reworking.
Photo Courtesy of Getty images (Main image Kitchen with brown chairs)SOURCE:
JCPenney Home Services
As the major outdoor living trend sweeps the nation, decks are getting bigger. But with television shows featuring 3,000-square-foot monster decks, the average homeowner is left to wonder, “Just how big of a deck do I need?”
(BPT) - As the major outdoor living trend sweeps the nation, decks are getting bigger. But with television shows featuring 3,000-square-foot monster decks, the average homeowner is left to wonder, “Just how big of a deck do I need?”
Atlanta, Georgia-based deck builder Frank Pologruto says it all comes down to how homeowners intend to use their space as each “zone” of the deck will require a general square footage.
“People want somewhere to cook, and then eat, and then have a conversation, and you start adding up these areas and you realize you can’t do all this in a 16-foot by 12-foot deck,” said Pologruto, the owner of Decks & More.
Dining — 320+ square feet
Outdoor kitchens and dining areas are growing in popularity, but do require significant space. A grill with some counter space for cooking and a large table and chairs for dining will take up around 320 square feet of deck.
Seating — 250+ square feet
Adding an additional seating area, whether a quiet morning coffee spot or an after-dinner conversation pit, will require more space. A conversation area for about six people will add another 256 square feet to the deck. Adding a fire element to the seating area, will require not only the space for the actual fireplace or fire pit, but also appropriate distance between the fire and any seating.
Pool or hot tub — 150+ square feet
Homeowners looking to include a water feature like an in-ground pool or hot tub can expect it to require additional deck space. A four-person hot tub could take up as many as 100 square feet of deck, but Pologruto cautions homeowners to build in plenty of room to walk around, and enter and exit the hot tub, bringing the total to between 150 and 200 square feet.
Parties — 15 square feet per person
As a general rule, Pologruto said homeowners should determine how many people they expect to host on their deck and estimate about 15 square feet of deck per person. To comfortably fit around 20 people, the deck will need at least 300 square feet of open space.
“Remember though, if you plan to have 50 people over, they won’t all be out on the deck at the same time, so plan for your deck to hold about 30 people,” he said.
With the added square footage comes a bigger price tag — $25,000 to $250,000 depending on the size.
The deck material will also affect the final cost. Pologruto uses traditional wood boards and high-end ENVISION composite decking by TAMKO Building Products, and says if homeowners are already preparing to spend the money to build a large deck, they should go the extra step and upgrade to a composite board.
“If you’re smart and have the money, do the composite — it just makes more sense,” he said.
Overall, from his experience, Pologruto said most homeowners don’t need a 3,000-square-foot deck, and should be able to fit a small dining area, arbor, hot tub and separate seating area in about 750 square feet, although some of the decks he builds are more than twice that size.
Planning to include the right amount of space will leave you with the most comfortable outdoor living area to suit your needs.
Apprehension and inexperience keep many homeowners from pursuing renovation projects that would make their homes more functional, enjoyable and comfortable. Getting your hands dirty on the front end – with some planning and preparation – is the best blueprint for a successful home remodeling project. To help you start your remodel on the right track, consider these tips.
A Handy Guide to Starting a Home Remodel
(Family Features) Apprehension and inexperience keep many homeowners from pursuing renovation projects that would make their homes more functional, enjoyable and comfortable. Getting your hands dirty on the front end – with some planning and preparation – is the best blueprint for a successful home remodeling project.
To help you start your remodel on the right track, consider these tips from Gary White with JCPenney Home Services.
Start with a plan
Although it may sound obvious, the first step really is to decide what you hope to accomplish with your renovation. At the least, begin to outline rough ideas to discuss with an expert. Reaching out to contractors before you’ve determined a basic idea for your project can waste time and money. Spend time listing the features you must have, as well as some nice-to-haves if budget allows. Also think about overall functionality, design and layout. If you get overwhelmed or need ideas, don’t hesitate to turn to online showrooms or magazines for inspiration.
Set a budget
If the sky is the limit, skip ahead, but if you’re like most homeowners, money matters. Have a clear idea of what you can afford to invest in your renovation before you get started, and if necessary, research the financing options available to you. Look for financing that provides deferred interest or low monthly payments to help manage the project cost. Setting a clear budget can help keep your contractors accountable, and it goes a long way toward ensuring you can enjoy your finished project without regret.
Draw up the plans
To help set your plan in motion, there are numerous online tools you can utilize to simplify each step of the process including design, budgeting and more. If you’re planning a home remodel, a comprehensive resource like JCPenney Home Services offers a one-stop-shop for bathroom remodeling, countertops, custom window treatments, flooring, heating and cooling, water heaters and whole-home water treatment. You can find unique landing pages for each service that provides product information, complimentary in-home consultations and online pricing quotes at JCPenneyhomeservices.com.
Involve a professional
Unless you have the time and skills, you’ll want a licensed and insured contractor to lead the project when you’re ready to get your renovation in motion. It can be wise to solicit multiple bids, not only to ensure you get the best value, but also to find someone whose work, style and experience is most in line with the needs of your project. After all, this person will be a big part of your life during a fairly stressful time period. Always check references and verify the contractor’s standing with local associations.
Get ready for work
Remember that you’ll need to create a work environment that is safe for your contractors and protects your valuable possessions. Establish a clear path to the project space for easy access and removal of debris. Furniture, appliances, room furnishings, valuables and breakable items should be removed from both the path to the work site and the work site itself. If your renovation project will involve an essential room, such as the kitchen or a bathroom, make alternate arrangements such as creating a makeshift kitchen with the bare necessities in another part of the house.
Kitchens and bathrooms are among the most common renovation projects, and countertops are often a focal point of these redesigns. However, choosing the right countertop can be overwhelming. To help make the difficult decision a little simpler, JCPenney Home Services experts offer insight on two of the most popular choices:
Granite countertops have long been the mainstay of a beautiful kitchen or bathroom. Granite is a natural stone, quarried from large stone deposits around the world. It can have many different variations of patterns and colors, giving each slab a unique appearance that is visually rich and dynamic.
In addition to its distinctive beauty and classic elegance, granite is also extremely durable. Granite is highly resistant to heat and scratches and, with proper sealing, offers good water and stain resistance and is easy to clean.
Granite typically needs to be sealed, both prior to installation and at least once per year. If properly maintained, a granite countertop will last for as long as you own your home, making it a potential long-term investment.
Quartz is another popular choice for countertops due to its durability, stain resistance and ease of maintenance.
Quartz is one of the most durable countertop materials and one of the easiest to maintain. It is highly resistant to heat, water and stains, including stains from coffee, wine, lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar and more. Unlike granite, quartz does not need to be sealed, making it easier to maintain over time.
To aid in the planning process without the need for a salesperson, a resource like the Countertop Wizard at JCPenneyhomeservices.com lets you scope out the project and order samples online. Simply enter measurements, browse and select materials and options to get instant quotes.SOURCE:
JCPenney Home Services
As a homeowner, there is nearly always a laundry list of projects with time and budget constraints when it comes to a home remodel. This step-by-step guide can help ensure you get the maximum return on your investment and make the most of your remodel.
5 Steps for a Home Remodel
(Family Features) This step-by-step guide from the experts at the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) can help ensure you get the maximum return on your investment and make the most of your remodel.
Step 1 – Identify Reasons for Remodeling
Step 2 – Set Your Budget
Step 3 – Hire the Right Team
Step 4 – Understand the Plan
Step 5 – Complete the Project
Remodeling a space can be a major project, but with the right help, resources and information, you can make your dream home come to fruition.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (family looking at paint swatches)SOURCE:
National Association of the Remodeling Industry
Interested in Publishing on The Home Idea?
Send your query to the Publisher today!