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Advantages And Disadvantages Of Buying A Townhome

After a tumultuous decade or two, the real estate market looks like it might be making a comeback. The increase in buying is especially true for the townhouse. Those who are in the market for a single-family home — but can’t really afford the house of their dreams just yet — are considering purchasing row houses, so they can be close to transportation and get their “buyer” foot in the door. Millennials are especially attracted to townhomes as opposed to condos, but each has their advantages and disadvantages in ownership. Love them or not, townhouses offer some great features that other single-family homes can’t.

Many people who want to own a home can’t afford to, especially in specific high-priced areas. A townhouse is the perfect solution for someone who wants a single-family home feel without the hassles and lack of privacy that you get with a condo or high-rise. The price is just about the same as a condominium, but you get a more “single- family home” feel, without the existence of  common areas that are shared by all residents.

Townhomes

Townhouses are most popular in urban areas. Having your own private entrance way is a huge selling point for those who aren’t into communal living. Although some townhouses might have shared areas like gardens or rooftops, most row houses have a more “private feel” than when you own a condo and only really “own” the space between the walls.

The definition of a townhouse can be somewhat vague. Some are attached to others while others are freestanding, but what most of them do have is an “HOA” or homeowners’ association fee that you have to pay in addition to a mortgage and other expenses. Sometimes the fees can be pretty hefty, so if you are in the market, make sure to add them into your monthly budget.

Hard to find financing

Although they are less expensive than most single-family homes, getting a mortgage for a townhouse isn’t always easy. To get a mortgage, banks require an appraisal. For a townhouse, that is sometimes easier said than done. Because the interiors can vary so dramatically, finding comparables might devalue a townhouse that is older in a community but has a renovated interior.

For that reason, some mortgage companies will use “underwriting” to determine the appraisal of your townhouse and treat it as they would, a condo. That can lead to higher mortgage rates.

Lower maintenance

When you choose to buy a new townhouse instead of a single-family home, you typically don’t have to pay for the exterior maintenance. Although that will leave you more time to do the things you want to do on the weekends, it doesn’t come without cost. The HOA fees are what those who own townhouses pay to have fewer maintenance requirements, but sometimes the cost is higher than you would ever have to spend to maintain your own single-family home.

Typically in urban areas and close to transportation

Townhomes are usually located in big cities or urban areas and near public transportation. That is an excellent option for young professionals who want to ditch the car and ride the train. But if you do own a car, you might find it difficult to park or have to pay an additional fee for a parking garage. That is just another expense that may take you over the edge. So depending on where you are in life and what your daily routine is, transportation can be a plus or a minus.

Limited to what you can do

If you are going to buy a townhouse, make sure that you like its exterior appearance. When you live in one, you won’t be able to alter the exterior space without approval, and there are very strict guidelines about what you can and cannot do to your home. If you are okay with limited allowance for exterior creativity, then it won’t be a problem. But it might be an issue if you want to put your own signature on it.

The townhouse is one of the fastest-growing segments of the housing market and with reason: it has many advantages. Before you decide to buy in, make sure that you take all things into consideration including resale ease and value, before you take the buying plunge.

A Step-By-Step Guide To Finding The Best Security System For Your Home Or Office

It used to be that arming your home with a security system involved opening walls, hiring a security company, and paying a fortune. Nowadays, recent technological advances have done away with many of the hassles that used to come with security systems. If you are in the market for a surveillance system to protect your home or business, the good news is that you no longer have to pay a fortune or make a huge mess cutting open walls.

Last year alone, the Better Business Bureau received over 600,000 inquiries about which alarm system companies were the best. If you are approached by someone who is promising to upgrade your system or is going door-to-door, that should be your first warning sign that they might not be the best security system company for you. If you are going to choose a security system company, there are ways to ensure that you are getting what you pay for.

 

House Fence GateChoose a service that is reputable and has a name

The best home security system is going to be the one with the best reputation. If you want to make sure that your family and belongings are truly safe, then you can’t be completely guided by price. Finding a company that is known in the business is the best way to protect yourself. If you want to know who is considered industry-wide to have great service, you can call your homeowner’s insurance carrier. They not only will be able to recommend someone, but they might also actually offer you a discount if you go with a specific security company.

Shop around

Contact at least three different companies to get quotes, find out what they are offering and how they would go about setting up a security system for you. Just make sure that whoever you consult is registered with the Better Business Bureau and that they do background checks on their employees. If they don’t do background checks on their employees, you might unwittingly be giving a criminal, the keys to enter your home.

Make sure you know the cost

Ask up front about the price of service and make sure that there aren’t any hidden fees. Often a company will quote you one price, but then you get the bill and are shocked by the additional charges. Make sure that you know exactly what it will cost before you have them install their equipment and it becomes too late. Also, call and see if you can get a break on your insurance because you are hiring a specific company; it never hurts to ask.

Additional things to considerHome Fence Gate

You will also want to ask how much it will cost monthly, if there are any contracts you have to sign, and how long you will have to use their service. You also need to know if there is a charge for quitting early. Specifics like what they are going to do if you are dissatisfied with the service and, if the company is bought out, how your monitoring with them could be affected, are all things that you should include in your questioning.

State of the art?

Check out the type of technology they use and do your research to ensure that it is the best in the business. The company that you are hiring is only going to be as good as the technology that they employ around your home or office.

If someone is using high-pressure sales tactics, that is never a good sign. You want to feel comfortable with the security company that you hire. If someone is making you feel like you have to make a decision immediately, there is usually a reason. They want you to sign on the dotted line before you are allowed to learn the truth or do some investigating. Never sign anything before you give it some thought, and never ever if someone is making you feel pressured.

If something sounds too good to be true, you can almost always assume that it is. Of course everyone wants a deal, but when it comes to the security of your home or business, a deal could end up costing you everything.

Remember you are hiring a security systems company to keep your home and family secure. Before you hire anyone, make sure that you do your research, understand the costs involved, don’t succumb to high-pressure tactics, and make an informed choice with the company that has the latest in technology. If you go about choosing the right way, you can sleep well at night knowing that you, and everything you love, are protected.

5 Home Improvement Projects You Shouldn’t DIY

There are lots of home improvement projects that anyone can do by themselves. Simple projects like re-painting the wall and ceiling, changing carpet and area rugs, changing the lighting fixtures and hanging new set of wall art can be done by anyone in an instant.

DIY TOOL

However, there are also home improvement projects that are best left to the professionals. These projects need special skills, tools and experience that only the pros have.  Some of them are as follows:

Electrical works and projects

Electrical repairs and upgrades must be done by a licensed and experienced technician. Yes, replacing a light fixture can be DIY but repairing or upgrading a circuit board is best left to the professionals. Aside from saving yourself from electric shock and harm, you can be sure that there will be no faulty wires and lines around your house.

Major plumbing work

Fixing a leaky faucet is as easy as 1-2-3 but any troubles beyond that must be fixed by master plumber. Don’t attempt to fix your plumbing unless you are truly knowledgeable with it. If you wanted to renovate your bathroom or kitchen (where major plumbing is installed), better call a plumbing pro to help you out.

Changes in home structure

Don’t knock down a wall or a part of your home unless you know it’s really safe to do so. It’s highly recommended that you hire a professional when it comes to changing a home’s structure. This way, you can be sure that everything is safe and in perfect condition.

Window replacements

Replacing windows is not an easy feat. Although you can do it yourself, it’s way better to hire professional help for this project. This way, you can be sure that it’s perfectly placed and sealed thus improving the energy efficient of your home.

Roof replacement

Repairing a roof can be DIY as long as it’s just a small repair job. But when it comes to bigger problems that needs a complete roof replacement, better hire the professionals. The pros know what kind of roof is perfect for your house. They know the proper and easy way to install it. They got the right tools and equipment that suits for the task.

Although it’s quite tempting to DIY some home improvement projects, better think about the results that you’ll get especially if you little or no knowledge about it.

 

4 Best Bathroom Accessories For Seniors

Bathrooms are the most accident prone places in the entire house for every person, especially the seniors. Water, slippery floors, hard ceramic fixtures and increased mobility in the bathroom enhance the risk of falls and injuries, and also require proper cleaning. To improve bathroom safety for elder lies, a variety of products are available in the market. These products can be installed easily without major remodeling of the bathroom and can be purchased online at sites like ABL Tile Center.

Bathroom Accessories

The range of products includes:

Grab Rails

Available in different sizes, these comfort bars provide a stable surface to hold for increased stability. They can be strategically installed in high risk areas of the bathroom like near the toilet seat or bathtub. Grab bars can be installed permanently or you can use suction rails. These versatile and inexpensive bars are a good protective measure to alleviate bathroom injuries.

Toilet Seats

Toilet seats come in three varieties; elevated seats, seats with backrest and seats with arm rests. Elevated toilet seats make toilets higher and more convenient to get on and off. These are ideal for old people or those with restricted movement. They come with integrated, detachable or foldable arm rests for further ease.

Shower Seats

Bathtubs are most susceptible to accidents due to their slick surface. Besides installing grab rails near them, shower seats can also be used to minimize the risk of falls. They allow you to sit comfortably in the bathtub. Moreover, they are a perfect solution to the people who have balance issues or those who cannot stand for long and get tired easily. The different varieties among shower seats include shower stool (without back), shower chair (with back), foldable shower chair (to save space) NS shower board. Each type serves its own purpose, so buy the one that suits your requirements.

Hand Held Shower Heads For Elderly

In old age, simple tasks like taking bath can get tiring because of constant movement, bending and stretching. In such cases, hand held shower heads can prove to be a blessing. With extendible shower hose and adjustable height features, you can easily wash yourself without any assistance. These hand held shower heads with temperature adjustment can be installed at home with minimum effort and time. They also come with messaging feature, especially for people with stiff muscles.

Every year thousands of senior citizens get injured or die due to tripping in the bathroom If you have senior persons in your home, it’s wise to install the right bathroom safety accessories to prevent accidents.

Increasing the Value of Your Real Estate Investment

Real estate investing has reached an all-time peak, and this profitable business venture has enticed entrepreneurs from all walks of life to dip their toe into the real estate pool. If you’re one of the many who have recently invested in a property and you’re considering the ways you can increase its value, consider these strategic home improvement upgrades and make the most of your investment.

House For Sale - Real Estate

Open Concept Renovations

Modern homeowners and renters are looking for open concept spaces, and this likely isn’t news to you. Turn on your television and watch any of the many home improvement shows that now grace our channels and you’ll see this trend isn’t going out of style any time soon. If you want to make your real estate investment more desirable, consider renovating any closed off rooms into open concept spaces. The best spaces make the most of available light and capitalize on the available square footage. Spaces that are both open and functional can be an enticing aspect for many renters and buyers, and investing the money on framework renovations like this can pay off in the long run.

Add a Bathroom

If you’re hoping to rent out your real estate investment to families, it’s important to consider your property’s bathroom situation. Large families need more than a single master bathroom, and adding a bathroom, or even a half bathroom to the home can increase your home’s value exponentially. Research current estimates on the costs for a bathroom addition, then compare this cost to the rent rates similar properties are pulling in. In most cases, you’ll find the addition more than covers the investment, and then some.

Bathroom Real Estate

Incorporate Energy Efficient Features

Modern homes are filled with energy efficient features, and as building focus continues to shift onto sustainable practices, getting ahead of the game could serve you well. There’s truly no limit to the ways you can increase the value of your property with energy efficient upgrades. From solar panels to energy efficient roofing, Energy Star kitchen appliances to window and door replacements, almost every room in any given home can be improved through sustainable home upgrades.

A Fresh Coat of Paint

One of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to improve the value of your property is by painting. Hire a professional painter to give your property a fresh coat, both on the interior and exterior. If budgetary concerns prevent you from hiring a professional, pull on those overalls and get to rolling on the paint yourself. The effects of a fresh coat of paint are truly significant, and can greatly enhance the overall look of the space. Also be sure to keep up with painting maintenance; this will help prevent costly repairs and repaints down the line, and keep your property looking its best.

Landscaping Features

Curb appeal counts, so take a step back and consider the exterior of your property. Is there obvious signs of damage or weather wear and tear? If you’ve been less than committed to maintenance, it’s likely that your property needs a little tender, loving care. One of the easiest ways to improve your curb appeal is through landscaping additions. If your property’s yard has brown grass and scraggly bushes, it’s time to call in the professionals. Adding the right landscaping features means immediately adding value to your property. Simply adding mature trees to your front yard can increase your home’s value by $10,000, and the addition of earth berms can help keep utility costs low. Why? Earth berms can help your home stay cool during the summer and retain heat during those chilly winter months.

If you’re looking for ways to add value to your property, keep these important upgrades in mind. While there are undoubtedly plenty of upfront costs associated with these property improvements, they’re generally more than worth the investment. Paying the money now can result in massive dividends later, and protect your investment as a supplementary income for decades to come.

6 Unusual Home Security Tips Every Homeowner Must Know

If you live in a community or neighborhood where home invasion and burglary is prevalent, home security must be your top priority. Aside from following the usual security measures like installing CCTV cameras, alarm systems etc., you must also do “a little more extra” to keep your home safer against thieves and criminals.

Below are some unusual yet very effective home security tips that can surely make your home tougher to break into.

Home Keys and Security

Relocate your alarm system keypad.

Since most alarm pads are placed or installed near common entrances such as the front and back door, burglars will find it easy to turn off. They know exactly where to look at once they break into your home. If you can place it out of the common areas and out of plain sight, much better. If not, just make sure that it can’t be easily seen from the outside through your windows. This little trick can easily deter any kinds or forms of home invasion.

Use key lock box

If you have no choice but to leave spare key outside of your home, use a lock box instead of leaving it under the mat, a flower pot or a fake rock. Check out those lock boxes that realtors use and have it installed in your home. Just make sure that nobody will see your combination code when you enter it to get your spare key.

Take advantage of thorny plants

Aside from improving the appeal of your home, plants can also become an effective defense system against thieves. Consider planting thorny plants or vines in areas where you don’t want any stranger to access. For example, consider planting a thorny shrub under the windows of your room. It might not stop them totally from climbing up your windows but still, thieves will find it tougher to get inside your home.

Don’t put all valuables in your master bedroom

The number one room that burglars look into immediately upon entering your home is the master bedroom. So it’s highly advisable to keep some of your valuables away from this room. Hide your jewelries at unexpected places like the kid’s bedroom. Store your emergency stash or cash at one cabinet of your laundry room. Avoid usual hiding spots like under mattresses, behind pictures and paintings and more.

Use a decoy

If burglary is really too common in your area (and you can’t move out yet), then consider using a decoy. Buy a small decoy safe to take burglar’s attention away from the real one. Place this decoy somewhere at your bedroom. If thieves see this, they will surely carry it out and leave the place immediately (robbers wanted to get in and out as fast as possible) without checking the items inside of it. Just make sure to lock the decoy safe and put some fake items on it, like fake jewelries so if ever they shake it, they’ll know that something is hidden inside of it.

Keep your car keys within arm’s reach

Car key fobs can be an effective alarm system nowadays. Since they are now installed with panic button, you can easily press it once you see or hear something unusual within your property. The sound or alarm that your car will create can stop potential thieves from entering your home.

And here’s a Home Security Life Hacks video if the above given tips doesn’t satisfy you.

Using Boxwood Shrubs in Your Garden

You may have been planning a more elegant, formal garden for some time now, which means you’ll be thinking about using some boxwood shrubs to form borders, hedges or maybe even a low maze for the kids.

Boxwood plants, or Buxus, are ideal for this task as they are dense and evergreen and do well either planted in the ground or grown in containers. There are many varieties of boxwood available to cater for different tastes and to achieve different looks. If you buy your boxwood shrubs from The Tree Center you can ask for help with choosing the perfect types.

Boxwood Buxus

Using boxwoods as a feature

You can use these plants as a focal point, or as a border, as a foundation plant or to line a walkway; whatever you use them for, they add formality and elegance to a setting.

Tips for planting your boxwood

Boxwoods need full to partial sun in order to grow at their optimum rate, so you’ll need to take this into account in your plans. They also need well-draining soil, although the type of soil is less important.

Don’t just think about the changes of sun and temperature during the day, you’ll need to think about how the climate in your garden changes all throughout the year. If you’re somewhere that gets very hot in the summer, you’ll need to provide shade and frequent watering. You should water quite deeply, as a quick sprinkle won’t get to the root zone of this plant so easily. You should water once a week at least until your boxwood is two years old and established.

Make sure you plant the shrubs to the same level they were at in their nursery, as any change here can lead to stress and even death.

Shade and shelter

As well as giving them shade, you’ll also need to place your boxwoods somewhere where they’ll get some shelter from strong winter winds, or they may get a condition known as winter bronzing.

Boxwoods are quite shallow-rooted so a good layer of mulch which extends to a foot or so beyond the crown will help to retain moisture in the soil, just be careful not to cover the trunk with it.

Buxus

Generally low-maintenance

These are easy-going trees, although if you want to keep them as a sheared hedge you’ll need to get busy! Pruning and shearing can be the most demanding aspects of boxwood care, but it’s well worth it in the end. With older boxwoods you’ll need to thin out limbs to let some sunshine into the deeper foliage.

Boxwoods are a bit picky with pH, needed between 6.5 and 7, ideally. You should test once a year and if the pH is out of ideal range, treat the soil with either lime or sulfur.

Pests and problems

The most common pest is the boxwood leaf miner, so if it strikes, treat the shrubs with organic preparations or insecticides. If the soil is soggy, you may get root rot.

These are valuable plants as they grow slowly, so make sure they grow right!

Tools Every Homeowner Must Have: Smart Reasons to Get a Jigsaw

There are some tools that every avid DIY enthusiast wouldn’t be without as part of their toolkit and they are so useful that it could be argued that every homeowner should do the same.

Standard tools like a hammer and drill are going to make the list of essential tools for sure, but there plenty of good reasons to suggest that a jigsaw also needs to be on there too.

Here is a look at all the different uses for a jigsaw, which explain why it can be considered a must-have tool. There is a comparison between hand-held saws and some examples of just how versatile a jigsaw can be, even when it is not in the hands of a professional woodworker.

DIY TOOL

Versatile and easy to use

If you are going to buy a power tool you want to get your money’s worth and know that it is going to be versatile enough to perform a variety of tasks and be easy to operate.

A typical jigsaw, and you can see it here, ticks all of those boxes and it can be used to perform a diverse range of tasks, plus it is very user-friendly. All of which means that you don’t have to be a DIY expert to know how to handle a jigsaw.

When straight lines won’t cut it

A key feature of a jigsaw is the fact that it is really the only portable power tool that is able to competently cut curves.

You could persevere with a hand-held coping saw of course, but the stop-start action of sawing makes it difficult to get a neat curve, regardless of how competent you are with a saw in your hand.

You wouldn’t find any self-respecting woodworker attempting this sort of task without a jigsaw in their hand. So take the hint, and if you need to cut a straight line and a curve to the same standard, a jigsaw is the tool to use.

Different blades for different jobs

If you have a hand-held saw in your hands there is only one type of material you are going to be able to cut with it, but if you are using a jigsaw, a quick change to the right type of blade and you can be cutting through a lot more materials than wood alone.

Each jigsaw blade is designed to cut through steel, fiberglass, even drywall as well as wood of course. All you have to do is turn off the power, change the blade in a matter of seconds, then turn it back on and you are ready to go.

All the angles covered

You could be forgiven for thinking that you would need a specialized adjustable saw if you wanted to try and make angled cuts rather than just cutting a line straight up and down.

Another positive attribute with a jigsaw is that it gives you the ability to angle the blade up to 45 degrees so that you can make bevel cuts. A simple slide of the lever just above the shoe of the saw will allow you to get the tilt you want before you lock it in place ready for cutting.

These are just some of the persuasive reasons why the jigsaw can be considered an essential item for any homeowner’s toolbox.

Ben Lewis is a Dad leading a slightly unconventional life as he, and his wife, homeschool on a homestead. Ben enjoys woodwork as his hobby, selling some of his pieces at local craft fairs and blogs about all manner of things!

5 Practical and Clever Tips To Overcome Home Clutter Easily

In today’s fast paced world, clutter build-up is inevitable. With the busy schedules we are all living in, we have lesser time with home cleaning and organization. The advancement of technology also makes it easier for us to buy things that we don’t really need (online shopping). The result, these items will just end up on our shelves and cabinets adding to the clutter that we are already dealing with.

Home organization can be really stressful at times. The good thing is there are few tricks and tips that everyone can do or follow to make it more manageable and less daunting. Some of them are as follows:

Clean Living Room House For Rent

Control the entry way

Make the clutter build up on your entry way manageable by placing a bin, a shoe rack or an open shelve at one side of it. You can also install few hooks for coats and jackets. This way, people entering your house (specially the kids) can have a place to put down their items without making the entry way look like a total mess.

Control the paper

Always set few minutes or so daily to check the paper build up around your house or even just inside your room. Remove anything that you don’t need, recycle them or shred them if they have personal info. Dedicate a cabinet or a drawer where all paper bills and letters must be placed. This way, you’ll know where to find them if a situation calls for it.

A place for everything, everything in its place

Dedicate a spot for everything in your home. Use boxes, bins and clear containers to hold up stuff and things around your house. Make sure to label each one of them for easier identification.

Use curtains

If you dedicated a corner of your house or an open shelving to hold your boxes and bins, it might still look cluttered in plain view. You might want to use curtains to hide these areas. Be creative with it to complement your interior decoration.

Do regular room checks

Take a hamper with you and visit each and every room around your house. Put anything that doesn’t belong in that room inside your hamper. This way, you can put them in their right places in bulk rather than moving them one by one that could take a lot of effort and time.

These are just few of the many home organization tips that we already posted here at our blog. For more of these, check out the following articles:

6 Ways To Cut Clutter At Home
5 Clever Hacks To Declutter Your Home!
5 Amazing Cleaning Tricks and Tips For People Who Hate Cleaning

Image credits: photo-graphe (Pixabay)

LOOK! Crafty Guy Transformed A Barren Concrete Courtyard Into A Comfy Day Bed Made Out Of Grass

Having a small and concrete outdoor space doesn’t mean you can’t grow some greenery around your home. In fact, with a little creativity, you can even create something that’s quite unique and remarkable.

This is what Jason Hodges just did at their home. He created something at their concrete backyard that took the internet by storm. Mr. Hodges transformed a barren concrete courtyard into a comfy and cozy day bed out of green grass. And by the looks of it, it’s so perfect for a simple backyard picnic or even for an afternoon relaxing nap. Amazing right?

Jason-Hodges-Grass-Daybed 4 pics

Here’s the video of the Grass Day Bed courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens YouTube channel.

In the above video, Hodges details how he created his masterpiece by transforming a barren courtyard into a comfy pad made out of real grass. First, he constructs the base of a futon and dresses it with a headboard. He then constructed the top frame where the grass will grow. To finish his project, Hodges used some charcoal stain in the wood for that elegant look.

The type of grass that Jason used was the soft leaf buffalo turf – a low maintenance type of grass that can grow beautifully and has a soft touch. Speaking of maintenance, Jason mentioned that you only need a good pair of sheers and a watering can to keep the Grass Day Bed beautiful at all times.

What do you think of Jason Hodges’ project?

Image via inhabitat.com