Archive June 30, 2014

New Homeowner DIY Tips

Buying a home for the first time is a huge step. But learning to maintain and improve it can be both painful and rewarding. The do-it-yourself experts at The Family Handyman ( offer the following tips for maintaining your home that will save you money down the road.

Create a homeowner’s journal. Keep insurance papers, repair receipts and all other paperwork pertaining to the house inside a three-ring binder. Storing your home’s maintenance information in one handy place makes it easier to find when you need it — especially when you consider selling the house in the future.

Get to know your house before making any big changes. Live in your home for 12 to 18 months before undertaking any major renovations, since your initial perspective may change. After you’ve lived there for awhile, reassess what suits your needs — and your home — best.

Tackle one project at a time. If you dive right into the porch, a kitchen remodel and an outdoor fence replacement at once, you’ll have the whole house and yard torn up at the same time. It might all come together, but this approach can be stressful on homeowners and their families.

Budget for unexpected repairs. Problems are bound to happen sooner or later. Set up an emergency fund to handle these unexpected expenses.

Ask neighbors to recommend good plumbers, electricians, contractors or other professionals for you to contact. Chances are, people who have lived in your area for a long time can give you the best advice.

CRS Your Home Newsletter – June 2013 Issue

Landscaping Adds Value

Is your yard helping or hurting your chance of getting top dollar for your home? According to a survey by landscape manufacturer TruGreen, nearly three-fourths of Americans believe it takes only a few seconds for them to form a first impression about a home’s appearance.

Most REALTORS® agree that curb appeal is essential when selling a home. Lackluster landscaping can turn off prospective buyers and affect the home’s resale value, say experts at the Appraisal Institute. But before making any improvements to your landscaping, consider how long you’ll be living in the home and whether to make short-term updates or plan for the long term. Ask yourself the following questions:

1. Is the landscaping attractive enough to make a prospective buyer walk through the front door? Keep the design contemporary and in line with comparable properties in the area.

2. Does the landscaping provide a cost savings? Landscaping that requires little or no water to maintain may be more desirable to some buyers, depending on where they live.

3. Is the landscaping energy-efficient? In locations with abundant sunshine, trees should be planted where they can block some of the sunlight and provide cooling shade.

4. Are trees planted at a safe distance from the home and are they wellmaintained? Old or damaged trees planted too close to a home can damage the home’s foundation.

A well-maintained yard can make a strong first impression and add value to your home.

CRS Your Home Newsletter – June 2013 Issue

Kitchen Lift

Are you ready for a kitchen upgrade but lacking an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink kind of budget? Plenty of low-cost improvements can revive a kitchen without the need to rip out cabinets and rewire appliances. Consider these tips from This Old House and HGTV.

Color Splash: With a new coat of paint and some other accents, you might not even recognize your own kitchen. Make over dark wood or white cabinets with a cool hue, such as pale sage green, or create visual impact by painting a focal point, such as your island, a bold color. A tile backsplash, graphic prints and new hardware are also inexpensive ways to add personality. Consider a new and easy-to-clean linoleum floor in a shade such as Red Amaranth.

See the Light: A kitchen needs light to be functional, of course, but oversized task lights can also improve the vibe and tie other details together. Track or recessed lighting can be pricey, so look for pendants that can go above a kitchen island and mirror the style of hardware on your faucet and cabinets. Try under-counter lighting, too.

Store More: Short on storage? Try hanging pot racks overhead. Position them close to the range and away from where you’d hit your head. Built-ins can be expensive, so look at your local hardware stores for pull-out storage kits and organizers to fit your current cabinetry.

CRS ‘Your Home’ Newsletter — May 2013 Issue

It’s Your Move

The days of bribing friends and family to help you move are probably long gone. But getting help isn’t necessarily any easier — finding a good, reliable moving company that can get the job done right takes careful research. Before you hire any moving company, do a little legwork to make sure it’s legit, in your price range and offers the services you need., and offer the following tips.

First, find out some details about the company. Does it have an operating license? Check with your local state authority or the Department of Transportation, depending on whether it’s an in-state or interstate move. Does the company carry insurance, and what are the limits?

Also investigate the company’s track record. Check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints, and ask the company for references you can contact. Repeat customers who do business with the company can be some of the best referrals.

Get estimates from several companies to get a feel for the going rate, and only consider those estimates that fall within the appropriate range. Also, find out exactly what’s included in the quote (packing materials such as tape and extra boxes aren’t always included). Low quotes could ultimately mean paying more money after the move, since some companies don’t itemize what others include in the estimate.

Be prepared for questions moving companies will ask you. What is your time frame? How far will you be moving? If you rent, do you have renter’s insurance, and what does it cover? Will you need moving insurance or packaging services? Where will the moving truck park? Are there stairs or elevators? By preparing yourself ahead of time, you can make that stressful move go a lot smoother.

CRS ‘Your Home’ Newsletter — May 2013 Issue

Outside Influence

Summertime, and the living is easy? It may not seem that way when you’re entertaining guests, but hosting friends and family doesn’t have to be stressful, especially if you choose to do it outside using these simple ideas from Martha Stewart.

Even before prime outdoor entertaining season gets underway, stay ahead of the game with built-in decorations. Hanging brightly patterned or monogrammed dishes on the side of your house can make a fun and personal statement. A graphic-print umbrella on the patio can tie the space together. Create storage space and seating (and add another pop of color) by painting wooden chests and topping them with custom cushions made of waterproof foam and fabric.

Food and drink will probably be at the center of your get together. Raise the bar at your next gathering by creating a beverage station. Use a shelf made of metal or another material and brackets to affix the flat surface to the side of your house. Secure the ledge so it can be folded down out of the way when it’s not in use.

And although the weather is warm, a campfire is a great way to host a gathering when temperatures cool off at night. Create a fire-pit in your yard: Start with wood framing (the kind used to edge garden beds) to construct the perimeter. Fill the confined area with sand, which will level the surface and absorb charcoal and flyaway sparks. Don’t forget the seating around the main attraction. Folding deck chairs are easy to store in the off-season.

CRS ‘Your Home’ Newsletter — May 2013 Issue