Archive May 2015

Security System

The kids are out of school and the sun is shining. You are finally able to take the family vacation that you have planned for all year. But when you leave the house and lock your door, is it really safe? Some of these best practices from Better Homes and Gardens will help you safeguard your home while on vacation.

Keep Quiet – Don’t discuss travel plans in public. You never know who might hear you say you won’t be home. Additionally, don’t post pictures or comment about your vacation on social media until you return.

Mail Arrangements -A full mailbox or pile of newspapers in your driveway can tip off criminals to an empty home. Contact the U.S. Postal Service to hold your mail and con- tact your newspaper to suspend delivery or ask a neighbor to collect the papers.

Neighborhood Watch – Ask a neighbor or friend to keep an eye on your home while you are away and make sure they have a reliable contact number for you in case of an emergency.

Fake Your Stay – Set a timer for lights and televisions to turn off/on at night. This gives the impres- sion that someone is home and deters any intruders.

Lock Up – Although this might be obvious, take one last tour of the house to make sure all windows are locked and the alarm system is correctly armed. After this you are ready to lock the doors and hit the road with peace of mind. Your Home

CRS Newsletter May/June 2015

Play Zone

School’s out, and it’s no surprise your kids are clamoring to stay out- doors. Keep them safe and close to home by building an outdoor play area. Start by asking your kids what they envision. Do they want a nature area with a garden or bug observation station, or perhaps a building area with toy blocks and a table? Swing sets, slides, play towers and the like are the most popular choices for play areas, and you don’t have to have a huge yard to accommodate them. If you want to include this kind of play equipment, be sure to consider size, materials, components, price and safety features before buying.

Once you’ve decided what you want to include in the play area, assess your yard for the ideal location. Choose a large, level area in your backyard, and remove any rocks or roots so there’s little chance of tripping on uneven ground. Consider placing the play area underneath big trees for extra protection from the sun. Then, prep the play area: Dig up the dirt or grass and refill the play zone with a protective surface such as mulch, sand or shredded rubber at least three inches deep to minimize injury if a child falls.

Install bender board (landscaping border material) on the outskirts of the play area to ensure the filling stays put. Depending on how old your kids are, consider adding a fence around the border of the play area for added safety, and keep it free of obstacles (like rocks or lawn chairs) at least six feet around each edge.

Keep in mind that not all play areas need to look and feel like a playground. Kids can have just as much fun with weatherproof chalkboards, a basin of water with toy boats to race, or even cardboard boxes in different sizes.

CRS Your Home Newsletter – July, 2012

Home Sweet Second Home

Sometimes a vacation can be so good that it makes you want to move to your vacation destination permanently — or at least visit more often. If your recent getaway has you thinking about buying a second home, consider these pointers from Frontdoor.com and CNN Money before taking the plunge.

Ultimately, your lifestyle will determine the kind of second home you buy. How much time will you spend in your second home? A few weeks a year? Are you looking for a weekend getaway? Be realistic: Consider how long it takes to travel there and how often you’ll really be using it.

Will you rent it out when you’re not there? Homeowners who rent out their home for fewer than 15 days a year don’t have to pay taxes on rental income — rental expenses, how- ever, aren’t deductible (and vice versa). Whether or not you choose to rent it out, it’s important to add in extra costs, such as maintenance and insurance — which will be higher in risky weather areas, such as beach proper- ties — and then decide whether the upkeep and costs still fit within your budget.

Know the rules of renting. Some towns don’t allow short-term rentals, so make sure your chosen locale does, and read up on landlord laws for tenants. If your home will be primarily for rental income, opt for a family-friendly home in a popular location with easy access to airports or other modes of transportation for a more desirable rental option.

Last, consider long-term goals when choosing a second home. If you’re thinking of the home as a good place to retire, it’s important to check out local hospitals and other resources, and factor in costs associated with making a home compatible with senior living.

CRS Your Home Newsletter – July, 2012

Home Designs for Busy Families

With their calendars crammed with things to do and places to go, today’s busy families want to spend as little time as possible handling mundane household chores. To help
families stay organized, newer homes are being built with customized floor plans to allow for more flexibility and better use of space. Here are a few examples of these home design trends.

Mudrooms

While mudrooms have been around for at least a decade, they have evolved into a larger, more centralized area for each member of the family, complete with individual cubbies for books and backpacks, drawers for hats and gloves, and a bench for removing wet shoes and boots.

Most mudrooms are 6 feet by 8 feet, although some can be as large as 8 feet by 12 feet, and some include USB outlets, walk-in closets and windows with natural light. These rooms once shared space with washers and dryers, but laundry machines have moved closer to the bedrooms where most dirty laundry collects, builders say.

Study/Computer Stations

Parents want to keep a close eye on their kids as they do their homework, but where that study space is located differs among households. In many homes, kitchen islands double as a study area as well as an area for cooking and eating. Other homes are built with study nooks on the upper floor, a separate study in the lower level or a pocket office located off the kitchen.

Self-Serve Kitchens

Newer homes are designed with the kitchen or pantry set up so family members can grab their own meals while on the go. These self-serve areas are located away from the main food prep area and are equipped with a mini refrigerator or refrigerator drawer to hold fruit and snacks, and a micro- wave at child-sized height for easy access.

Home design features like these can help today’s families stay organized as they go through their busy lives.

CRS Your Home Newsletter – March/April, 2015