Cedar Springs: (616) 696-0820 | Tyrone Woods: (810) 714-1200

Breaks, Leaks, and Mains: When Should You Do-It-Yourself and When Do You Need Help?

Live in one place long enough, and odds will be something will break.

Whether owning, renting, leasing, or even just house sitting, anyplace where a person can live can fall victim to basic maintenance needs. But when they do, the owner/renter will have an important decision to make: should they call a professional, or can they repair it themselves?

Weighing Your Choices

There are many reasons for wanting to attempt a do-it-yourself repair job: a chance to save money, an opportunity to use/gain maintenance skills, and even a good boost to the ego. After all, nothing says self-reliant like fixing the problem yourself.

When considering any repair job, the owner/renter needs to ask themselves several important questions. To start with, what kind of damage was suffered? How long will it take a person to finish the repair? Does the work required fall into the individual’s skill set, or can it be completed just by following the instructions. A hold in the drywall can be fixed with a drywall patch, and fixing a screen patio door might only require new netting and 10 minutes of your afternoon. Small do-it-yourself projects can be gratifying for the time, energy, and money a person can save by doing it themselves.

Day 281: Home improvement hear me roar (in other words I fixed some broken shower tiles this weekend). #365photos #homerepairs #tiles #homesweethome

A post shared by Amber McKinney (@mookieam) on

What’s The Cost?

Depending on the severity of the repair job, the owner/renter should then consider the cost of repair. Any type of repair job will require tools, time, funds, and energy to complete, and if the owner/renter lacks any of these, they might want to consider calling a professional to address the problem.

Sometimes, the cost of performing a do-it-yourself project might be more expensive than hiring a professional. The owner/renter needs to check their ego when making this consideration. Even if they believe the repair job can be easily done, they may lack the time to address the problem themselves. And if they lack the material and tools to do the job, paying a professional may be more feasible than going to a hardware store and buying everything they would need.

Sanding done….taping done…time to paint! #homeimprovement #homerepairs #painting #handyman #weekendwarrior

A post shared by Jason Hall (@jbh2669) on

There are also safety costs to consider, as well. Home improvement jobs can result in high medical bills should an accident occur.

Consider the Options

The best way to make a decision between DIY and calling for help rests with considering the costs of the project. Don’t just think about the initial fees and expenses of purchasing materials or having a professional swing by to take a look. Think about whether the benefits of handling a repair job on your own outweighs the benefits of calling for help.

If a broken toilet seat can be replaced by a trip to a hardware store, don’t worry about calling a plumber. If a fence needs to be put up immediately and the contractor can’t address the problem for several days, consider doing it yourself.

A post shared by RANLife Real Estate (@ranliferealestate) on

And think about preventive methods as well. Tiny efforts like switching out the air filters and cleaning out lint traps can keep appliances running smoothly for years. Make a habit out of being proactive with a home’s maintenance needs.

Featured image credit: handycrowd / pixabay

How to Deal with Common House Disasters

Whether you are renting a small apartment or living on a sprawling estate, household disasters will strike. You need to know how to deal with the most common ones and be ready for any eventuality. These are the most common household disasters that could strike a home:

Water Leakage

Water Pipe

If one of your pipes starts leaking, you need to fix the problem as soon as possible. Start by shutting off the main water valve before you call in the plumber. If water has risen to the level of electric plugs, you need to get out of the house immediately to avoid electrocution. Calling a plumber is one of the first things you should do after shutting off the water valve.

When it comes to dealing with the aftermath of a flood take the advice of Restoration Elite: if you are able to drain the water from your house, your floors should dry naturally or use fans. If your floor was only submerged for a little while, you might be able to salvage it.

Electrical Blackout

You might not have any control over this one at all. If you find yourself in the dark, here are some steps that you can take:

  • Find alternate sources of light such as flashlights and candles.
  • Turn off any electrical appliances you were using before the blackout.
  • When you open your fridge or freezer, remove anything that gives off a bad odor.
  • During the day, clear all obstructions to make it easier to move around at night.
  • Take the necessary weather-related precautions when taking care of children and the elderly.

Roof Leaks

Roof LeaksDoes your roof have any damage? Unfortunately, you will only find out when you start seeing water damage on your ceiling and walls. The longer you wait to fix your roof the more damage you will have to repair. Therefore, call in the roof-fixing experts, like southjerseyroofers.com, as soon as you notice any water damage on your ceiling or walls. This way, you will not have to spend more money on replacing your walls and ceilings.

Blocked Toilet

Although toilets with old plumbing block more than newer ones, this is not a guarantee that the new plumbing is ideal. Blocked toilets might be the most disgusting home disasters you will ever have to deal with. If you think your toilet is clogged, do not flush it.

If you can see the cause of the blockage, put on some gloves and remove the object. However, if the clog is a result of biological waste, use a plunger to remove it. If nothing happens after a few minutes, call in the experts.

Broken Glass

Broken GlassIf you have broken some glass, pick it up before anyone steps on it. As soon as the glass drops, stop moving and observe the floor around you. Do you have any injuries? You need to take care of them first.

The next thing is to put on some shoes and gloves, then pick up the bigger pieces of glass. For the smaller pieces, use a broom and a dustpan to collect them. Once you’ve gathered the smaller bits of glass, vacuum the area to ensure there are no more pieces left.

Fire

If you notice a fire, try to open the dampers then close your doors and windows to keep it contained. Next, you have to get your pets and children out of the house before calling the fire department.

Keep Your House Safe While On Vacation With These Security Tips!

Are you going out of town with your family for a well deserved vacation? Are you leaving your home totally unoccupied for few days or so? If yes, I suggest that you read these tips on how to keep your house safe while enjoying your vacation.

According to home security experts, an empty house is an easy target for thief and burglars lurking around the neighborhood. So if you are going out for quite a while, make sure your house won’t look totally uninhabited while you are gone.

Home Security

The lack of movement inside and outside your house is one huge sign that there’s nobody home. One good solution for this is to ask someone (a friend or relative) to visit your house as often as they can. Ask them to spend an hour or two inside your house – maybe give them something to do like water your indoor plants, play with your dogs/cats or anything that can make them busy for few hours. Just make sure to give them something back for doing such chores.

Another good solution is to ask your neighbor’s help. Simple things like letting or asking them to park their car on your alley or letting them enjoy a cold bottle of beer or hot coffee on your deck in the evenings could do the trick. If potential thief will see that there’s someone in the house even at night enjoying a cup of coffee or bottle of beer, he will think twice about breaking into your home. Just make sure that you’ll return this kind of favor to your neighbor when they need such kind of help too.

Another trick that works wonders is setting up some sort of timer for your lights and some appliances.  Just make sure to set them up randomly and in different intervals. For example, at this day, set your light and TV to go on at 6pm onwards, the next day, set your light to go on at 7pm while your TV at 8pm and so on and so forth.  You can also ask someone you trust to visit the house, turn on the lights and the TV at certain times.

It’s also best if you can double up your home security before leaving for the long vacation. Install CCTV cameras around, double up your door locks and replace or fix any broken window locks. If you have a home alarm system, make sure to set it up properly.

Last but not the least; don’t broadcast your vacation at your social media accounts. You can always post about it upon coming home. This way, people around you won’t know that you are leaving at that certain date and the house will be empty by then.

Combine all the tips written above and for sure, your home will be safe and sound while you relax and unwind.

4 Simple Tips to Make Moving Fast, Easy and Hassle-Free

Moving from one home to another is not an easy task. Aside from its physically and emotionally draining, it sometimes accompanies huge expenditure and loss of cash.

Hiring moving companies can ease the burden of moving. With these experts, you’ll know that all the stuff you need will be taken care off at the moving day. But as a homeowner, you still have things to do to make moving much easier and faster. Below are few tips and advice that can surely help.

moving Boxes

Get the right tools

Purchase boxes and other essential tools that you might need for your moving journey. Packing tapes, cable ties and such could be a big help. So list down all the tools that you’ll need and buy them before you start packing things up for your moving journey.

Pack early

Although moving companies can do the packing task for you, it’s best if you can do the packing early too. Pack all those small, personal items that you don’t want others to see or touch. Put them in a box and label it accordingly. This can help moving become faster and convenient for all.

Arrange the permits

If you need any permits for your move from one place to another, sort them out weeks before the moving day. Parking permit is one thing you should check out too so your movers can freely park their truck without any trouble or hassle.

Get technical help

For your home appliances like refrigerator, washing machine and dryers, consider hiring experts that can handle such equipment. Although your moving company can do this too, it’s best to hire someone who is expert in handling such “expensive” home tool and equipment to avoid costly damages.

10 Musts To Consider Before Renovating Your Basement

If you are looking for some additional living space, your unfinished basement might be an excellent place to find some. When you are considering throwing money at a Winnipeg renovation contractor to fix up the basement, there are a lot of things to think about ahead of time. Before you dig right in, these are the ten things you have to know to make your basement area exactly what you want with no stress.

Basement Room

Prevent water

If you want to ensure that your basement stays dry, inspect it for any signs of pooling water or drips that might be coming from the walls or foundation. Also, check the outside of the house to look for any problems with the foundation, such as cracks. It is important to fix them before you even consider renovating. Also, for additional protection you might want to consider drain tiles. They help cut the risk of flooding by redirecting water away from your foundation, which can create cracks and let water in.

Know your local codes

Some ordinances require that you have a building permit and some don’t. If you don’t take out the proper permits, it can cost you in the end. If you are planning on doing any electrical or plumbing work, make sure to call your local building department to find out what steps you have to take before you start working.

How are things going to stay together

Renovating a basement is different from other types of additions. It might not just take a couple of nails to fasten things together. Sometimes you need to anchor things, fix parts with masonry work, or even work with blocks or bricks. It is important to make sure that things can be put together before you get halfway into the project and get stuck.

Create a barrier

When you are renovating your basement, moisture can be an issue. To prevent build-up, you will want to create a barrier between the walls and the foundation for condensation. There are a ton of really great materials that will help to not only keep out the cold, but also will stop the walls from trapping in moisture, which can lead to mold or other water issues.

Even things out

If you have uneven walls or rifts in the walls, that will make it very difficult to frame them. You have to create a flat surface by adding symmetry before you attempt to put your framing in for you to put up drywall. Otherwise, your drywall will be a disaster.

Insulate

Because your basement is below ground level, it will be harder to control the temperature unless you insulate properly. Not only will you want to provide the moisture control, but you might also want to add spray foam insulation.

Consider a drop ceiling

The basement will probably have a lot of piping and wires that supply water and energy to the house. Putting in a drop ceiling will ensure that you can still get to things when you need to. Making equipment easily accessible makes things a lot more convenient and inexpensive if you ever need to get at the pipe work to repair it.

Consider baseboard heating

Because heat rises and putting in heating vents on the floor is probably not possible, consider adding baseboard heating to keep your basement warm during cold weather. You can tie the baseboard units into your HVAC system. It will eliminate the need for you to use dangerous space heaters to keep things warm.

You don’t have to finish the utility room

Make sure that you don’t finish the utility room space. That is where you store your furnace, your water heater, and all the other whole-house appliances that service your home. Don’t encase them and make it impossible to service or access them when needed. If you try to cut out too much space and sacrifice convenience, you will end up being sorry in the end.

Your basement can be an excellent way to add living space to your home, but only if it makes good sense. If you have a basement that is prone to flooding or a foundation that has issues, you have to address them before you even consider a basement remodel. Taking the right steps before any work is done will save you money and headaches in the long run.

8 Home Maintenance Tips That You Can Effectively Do This Summer

Summertime is the best time to clean up and upgrade the looks of your house, especially the exterior part. There are lots of things you can do to give your house the “pampering” it needs while the weather is warm. Below is a list of easy-to-do home maintenance projects that you can immediately start up anytime you wanted this summer.

Summer Home

Exterior paint touch-up

Repainting the exterior part of your home is a quick and easy way to give it a brand new, fresh and cool look this summer season.  This is a surefire way to improve its curb appeal and even its market value. You can easily do this by yourself or you can hire some pros to make sure that everything will be done proper and right – from the type of paint color to use up to the painting process and procedure.

Wash exterior windows

Summertime is the only time of the year you can fully wash your windows from the outside. You might need some elbow grease to get your windows squeaky clean as it can effectively remove stubborn dust and dirt. If you are the type of homeowner who cleans exterior windows very often, a bit of soap, water and good cleaning solution could be enough to finish this project.

Clean window screens

Take off all of your window screens to fully clean them from top to bottom. You might need a good cleaning solution to remove and kind of dust, dirt and debris caught up between its tiny openings. If they are too dirty to be cleaned or you are seeing damages beyond repairs, then it’s time for you to replace them.

Clean air conditioner filter

Before blasting out your air conditioner, make sure that its filter is clean as ever. You can remove dirt and dust from it by washing with warm water or by the help of a vacuum cleaner.  Do this every two weeks to make sure that your air conditioner is working and cooling your home effectively. If you don’t regularly maintain your air conditioner, you may need to repair your central AC.

Clean the walkways and driveways

With the help of ever reliable pressure washer, wash away those dirt, dust and debris that invaded your walkway and pathway. You can also check it from any kind of cracks and damages as it can allow unwanted weeds to grow by themselves. If you found any, clean it up and repair it after.

Clean your baseboards

When is the last time you took the time to wipe your baseboards clean? If you can’t remember the date, then maybe it’s about time to do it this summer. Get down on your knees and start scrubbing and wiping the dirt away from your baseboard. Yes, it’s quite a grueling task for an adult person so why not ask the help of your younger family members? Just make sure to give them some sort of reward afterwards.

Inspect your hoses

Check the hoses of your dishwasher, dehumidifier, toiler, refrigerator and other appliance around your home. Look for any signs of leakage and repair immediately if you found any. Remember, hoses are prone to breaking especially if they are quite old.

Clean up your attic and your basement

Clean up and organize your attic this summer. Remove old and broken stuff to clear up some space. Look out for pests, insects, mold or mildew that might be hiding at your attic or basement.

These home projects are quite simple and easy to follow. So before you plan your summer vacation, spend a day or two cleaning and tidying up your home.

4 Practical Tips That Can Help Sell Your Home Fast!

There are lots of reasons why people wanted to sell their property fast and one of those reasons is the need to relocate ASAP. Some even lowers their property’s price drastically just to get it sold before they move out.

If you are one of the money who wanted to get their property sold as soon as possible, here are few tips and advice that could help you out.  With these tips, you won’t need to lower your house’s price value just to attract buyers around.

Home For Sale Pixabay

Meet and greet all type of buyers

Always maintain a happy, welcoming and pleasant personality when talking with potential buyers, even with those who don’t look so serious in buying your property. Be patient enough and give them a good tour around your house. Even they don’t end up buying your home; they might recommend it to their friends who are serious in buying a property. So being nice with them could help you land a good, potential buyer.

Maintain the cleanliness around your house

Once you put up your house on the real estate market, potential buyers might come at anytime of the day. So always prepare yourself and your house by maintaining its cleanliness. Organize everything that’s visible to the naked eye. Don’t forget the lawn or garden as it can add curb appeal to your house. Doors and windows must be properly kept too as they can easily attract the attention of people passing by.

Add color to your home

Adding colors to your home gives it an attractive, lively and vibrant look. You don’t need to paint your wall or ceiling to attain this. You can use a good arrangement of flowers at your living room and kitchen. The color of the curtains, carpet and rugs can also help. Couch pillows and lighting fixtures can surely help as well.

Deal with property buying firms

There are firms out there that can buy your property in an instant. The catch is, it’s either they buy it in a very low price or they’ll get a huge chunk of your selling price once they successfully sold it on the market. If you are a busy person and you just wanted to sell the house fast, this is a good option for you. With this, all you need to do is sign all the legal papers needed and the rest will be taken care of by the firm you trusted your property with.

Crime on the Rise: Home Security Strategies for Concerned Homeowners

You can sometimes read the latest crime statistics and feel like they don’t really affect you but the figures can soon become very real when your home is targeted by burglars and crime casts a shadow and creates feelings of insecurity.

Even quiet and respectable neighborhoods are witnessing a rise in crime, so you need to adopt some sensible strategies to protect your family and your home if you are concerned that you might be vulnerable.

Here are some tips to help keep your home secure, including an insight into how to identify weak spots that thieves could target, how to strengthen windows and doors, plus a suggestion to be social media savvy.

Secured Door

Pinpoint vulnerabilities

About two million homes are burgled throughout the country every year which equates to someone’s property being violated every sixteen seconds or so, so there is no room for complacency or misplaced belief that your property is safe from this threat.

A good way of giving yourself some extra peace of mind is to choose the right security system for your home in order to give you good options in terms of monitoring activity 24/7.

In addition, you can take some simple steps to deter burglars by identifying potential vulnerabilities, such as an entry point in a blind spot, and then taking action to improve security in these areas.

Burglars don’t like to be seen, so installing outside security lighting is a no-brainer for dissuading thieves who prefer to work under the cover of dark.

Take a walk around your home and try to adopt the mindset of a burglar to see how you might break in with the minimum of fuss. If you find some vulnerability you can be sure that an intruder will do so too.

Review the strength of your doors and windows

Burglars will often target properties where they can make a quick and easy entry and be in and out in a matter of minutes.

One of the ways they do this is to look for doors and windows that have minimal security resistance. A poor quality back door won’t offer much defense against a sharp blow to force it open and the same applies to a window that doesn’t have any lock on it.

Any exterior doors should ideally have deadbolt locks of at least one-inch thickness or more. A cheaper spring latch lock doesn’t provide the same level of security protection and it is always worth spending a bit extra on a better quality deadbolt system.

Even a deadbolt mechanism is not guaranteed to prevent a determined intruder from forcing their way into your home, as some heavy well-aimed blows cold shatter doorjambs and even split the door itself.

As an extra precaution, you might want to use some strategically placed metal bars to prevent a forced entry.

Keep a low profile

Many of us have a social media profile and we often share news of an upcoming event like a vacation, but be wary of your privacy settings as burglars trawl these sites for clues on who might be away from their home.

If you leave too much information around in a public place there is every chance that this could be used to target your home.

Be careful about who you tell your holiday plans to and try not to leave any obvious signs at home, by canceling any deliveries that might sit on the porch while you are away.

 

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!

6 Affordable Upgrades for Your Rental Property

Every rental property owner needs to give his or her unit a little face lift every now and then.  Whether you already have tenants, or you are in between renters, tenants will stay longer in a place they know looks current and well taken care of.  Attract high quality tenants with simple upgrades. Below are six affordable upgrades for your rental property.

Home Interior Design

1. Repaint the Outside (and Inside).Paint can cover a multitude of sins. Updating the paint will keep your home, townhome, or multi-unit property looking as good as new.  When it comes to painting the interior and exterior of your home, stick with neutral tones that will draw the eye.  Stay away from bold colors that will distract people.  Remember that what is beautiful to one may not be beautiful to another.   Your creative expression may look gorgeous and refined to you, but another person may think it’s garbage. Keep walls neutral so potential tenants to envision his or her life in your property. Loud colors like red and bright yellow could ultimately become very off putting. In addition, consider painting accent walls.  Accent walls compliment a space by using slightly different shades of the same color on different walls.  The effect will play with the light that naturally enters the space to create the illusion that your property has more dimension and feel like it has more space.

2. Pressure Wash the Outside. Sometimes, you do not need to give the outside of your property a new coat of paint.  Instead, all you may need is to pressure wash the outside.  Many landlords forget that the outside of their home inevitably gets dirty.  Athorough pressure wash will deep clean all of the cracks and crevasses on the outside of your home.  Thought you needed a new coat of paint?  Perhaps you are surprised to see that now your home looks brand new after a proper cleaning.

3. Invest in Landscaping.When it comes to renting out a property, what is on the outside counts. Nobody likes to drive up to a property only to see a brown patchy lawn and the sad looking bones of what used to be rose bushes.  Show your potential tenants that you take pride in your property and that you want others to love it as much as you do.  If you are not handy with gardening yourself, hire a landscaper who can create a beautiful yard that is both cost and energy efficient.

4. Update Cabinetry.Cabinets are usually considered to be one of the more expensive investments when updating a home. However, your cabinets may need a facelift.  If your cabinets have an old-fashioned wood look to them, try giving them a fresh coat of paint.  Depending on the color of the walls, a simple white or black paint job will do.

5. Offer a Washer and Dryer.In many areas, most properties still do not have washers and dryers in-unit. In fact, some complexes do not have them in the building at all!  Today, most people do not have the time to devote energy to a laundromat or have the money to pay someone to do it for them.  What is more, some multi-unit building will only have one washer and dryer.  Unless everyone in the building coordinates to wash and dry at certain times, frustration will ensue.  This is what makes in-unit washers and dryers so appealing.  Gone are the days when you have to sit idly by to keep an eye on your laundry in a public or communal facility.  With a stackable washer and dryer, you can save space and give your unit the extra flair it needs to steal the heart of a perusing tenant.

6. Install Wood Laminate Floors. Install wood laminate floors to save yourself a headache later.  The truth is that carpet is hardly ever a good option.  Carpet will easily stain due to food, liquids, or dirty pets.  It does not take very long for a carpet to start to look ragged and unclean.  Also, carpet often needs to be replaced every few years.  Wood laminate floors, on the other hand, are cheap, neutral colored, add richness to the inside of a home, and best of all, they clean easily.  A hard-wood floor can be a slightly more expensive investment, but your tenants will thank you when they don’t have to lose their deposit due to a spilled bottle of wine on the carpet.

Once you’ve upgraded your rental property, be sure you’re placing tenants that are going to keep it up. Every landlord knows the risk and damages related to a nightmare tenant, and taking the time to vet potential renters is important. Get a credit check at www.mysmartmove.comto find quality tenants and protect your investment—you’ll be glad you did down the road.