Hidden Costs of Owning A Home

There are many hidden costs when it comes to life- kids, pets, travel, commuting, and more. Everything costs money and we spend our lives trying to mitigate those expenses. When you buy a home you often aren’t prepared for the little costs that eventually stack up into very big credit card bills- here are a few hidden costs of owning a home to watch out for in the future.

1. Taxes. When you purchase a home you become in charge of paying taxes on that property. This information can usually be found easily, so make sure to budget that tax money into your monthly payments. Taxes often increase as well, which means you’ll be paying even more. You’ll also want to get home insurance to protect your investment, which is another monthly payment to tack on.

2. Appearances and fix-its. Sadly, the new things in your old house are going to become old things in your old house. Air conditioners, water heaters, windows, and gutters can break and crack and often are an unexpected and costly fixes. In the same way, paint peels and trees die; houses need repainting and landscapes need to be touched up which all costs money. Your lawn itself can cost and arm and a leg to upkeep, depending on how large it is; the time and money spent keeping the lawn clean and green amounts to more than you’d think.

3. Tools. If you haven’t been blessed with a toolbox yet you’re going to need one. Fixing loose curtains, rods, and window screens takes drills and screw drivers and hammers! You will also likely need a lawnmower, weed whacker, and the odd assortment of other tools that will be accumulated over the years which aren’t always inexpensive. You may only use them once or twice, but they will stay in your shed or garage for years to come.

4. Add-ons. Another hidden cost of home ownership are any changes that you might make to the house or property. Adding on a room, deck, patio, or outbuilding are going to change the value of your house (sometimes for the better!) but will also change the property taxes you are already paying.

5. Technology. You will find yourself paying a lot of the technology in your house, from electrical wiring to outlets to setting up wi-fi, televisions, and phone lines.

6. Cleaning. Cleaning a house is much different than cleaning an apartment! From kids to pets to general wear and tear you will find yourself with an army of vacuums, cleaning products and rag bags in no time. When something particularly unpleasant happens to a carpet you may have to rent a carpet cleaner. If you decide to hire a cleaning service that is going to be another way your home costs you money.

7. Emergencies. We all have them and no one is ever expecting them. From unexpected babies to accidentally backing your car into the fence, unexpected costs come up.

Home ownership is more than the accumulation of hidden costs, though. Owning a home is a great experience and the things that happen are simply life being lived!

House Extensions: Ensuring That the Project Is Done Right

Did you buy your home assuming that it would be all the space that you need? Has the size of your family grown or has the need for space changed, leaving your home feeling too small for comfort? Many people go through this and they feel that their only options are to live in a space that is not right for their needs, or they feel as though they have to move. While these are options, another option is putting an extension on the home so that you can stay where you have made your home, but you can change the space up so that it is just what you need it to be.

Putting an extension on the home is a great option. It allows you to change up the space as much as you need, while also gaining more square footage. Of course, this is a job that is best left to the professionals because it can mean dealing with the electrical and plumbing systems of your house. You also want to ensure that it is done right because an extension done wrong can cause a wide range of problems that will actually affect the overall integrity of the home.

Hiring a contractor is a great step in the right direction of having your extension done right, but you need to know that not all contractors are created equal. You want to work with one that is well known for their ability to create extensions that suit the house well and really do look great. If you aren’t sure how to locate a contractor that is great at performing this particular type of job, you may want to ask the people that you know for recommendations.

Friends, family members, neighbors and even coworkers can provide a lot of feedback for you. They can tell you about their experiences, both good and bad, which will allow you to contact those contractors that have done good work in the past. You can have them come to your home and show them what it is that you had in mind. They will be able to talk the plan over with you, make suggestions that will serve you even better, and you can get a great idea if they are the type of person that you want to do business with. From here, you will also get estimates from the contractors, so it is a good idea to meet with three to five of them. This will allow you to find the right contractor for your needs, as well as ensure that you get the work done for the fairest price.

Putting an extension on your home will allow you to make it the space that you need and want it to be. You don’t have to move and you don’t have to live in too small an area, instead, you can really personalize your home. It will serve your needs well, and then over time it may be something that adds value to the home if you go to sell it. Finding the right contractor for the job will help you make the most of your vision for a bigger home.

How to Make Your Cooling Fans More Energy Efficient

All electronics and electronics cabinets require fans to keep them cool – this is critically important, as the integrity and longevity of electronic devices is significantly affected by heat and fluctuations in temperature. Cooling fans play an essential role in stopping devices from overheating and maintaining an overall stable temperature.

Despite this, the fans themselves also need to be kept in top condition, as this will keep them performing optimally and performing their role well when it comes to cooling down the associated electronics and ensuring that they last for as long as possible. An efficient fan will also use less energy, which will result in savings made on the part of the owner.

To make your cooling fans more energy efficient, save money and ensure that your electronics are kept in top working order for as long as possible, the first thing to do is invest in an appropriate fan guard. There are plenty of options on the market today, but there are several features that you should look for to ensure energy efficiency.

The first feature you should look for is a guard which has excellent air flow, whether a 80mm fan guard or a 120mm one. There are many different sizes of guard, many of which are made from different materials too, and all of them are important in determining the level of airflow.

Make sure that your fan is appropriately sized in order to provide great airflow, being neither too small or too large for the cooling fan. You should also look for one that strikes the right balance between protecting the fan and allowing enough air to pass through – 120mm and 80mm wire fan guard options are often excellent for this very purpose.

This is because wire fan guards offer an optimal amount of toughness as well as space to allow air to flow through. This means that cooling fans will be working less hard to cool electronic equipment due to the abundance of air that is easily accessible to them.

The next thing you can do to ensure that your cooling fans work more efficiently is to start using green cooling fan cords, which work to detect the temperature that electronic equipment reaches and then start the fans to cool these electronics only when the temperature is elevated enough.

In a similar fashion, when the temperature drops low again, the thermostat in the cord will readjust, and the cooling fan will stop working. This is good for electronic equipment because it ensures that temperatures will remain stable, so they are therefore prevented from overheating.

Furthermore, this means that cooling fans become far more energy efficient, as they are using less electricity to function. This is due to the fact that they are not operating constantly, instead being responsive to the temperature of the electronics and the ability to cool them only when necessary thanks to an in built thermostat.

A final way to make your fans more energy efficient is by mounting them properly with anti vibration mounts, as these will act like shock absorbers for the vibrations caused by the fan’s vibrations. Again, this is a small point to make, but this can make a significant difference.

The reason for this is that the fan can lose energy though the kinetic energy that it creates, but this can be buffered by soft silicon anti vibration mounts. This will mean that there is less energy lost and therefore less energy is required to make the fan work – meaning that this item is far more energy efficient.

From the right 120mm wire guard or 80mm fan guard that allows optimal air passage right through to installing green cooling fan cords, there are several great accessories on the market nowadays to ensure your equipment is protected, you fans work optimally and that they are far more energy efficient when in use.

Not So Much Do-It-Yourself Garage Door Repair

A typical garage door repair can cost from as low as $100 to almost $500, but it usually falls in the $250 range. You might be surveying a broken garage door, scratching your head, and thinking, “Why not just save the money and fix it myself?” Well, let’s look at a few common issues and determine if this is a wise course of action.

A crooked garage door is rather easily fixed. It is usually a result of one of the door cables coming off the drum. To fix this, however, you need a cable puller. You attach this device to the cable on the good side of the door and crank it until there is a little slack on the bottom. Then, reset the other cable in the drum and go back to release the cable puller and come along from the other side. The issue with this type of garage door repair is that unless you do this for a living, the odds of you having these specific tools in your toolbox are slim. A cable puller costs around $100 and, unfortunately, has no other practical household uses like a wrench or screw gun. My advice: call a professional.

A noisy garage door is indicative of steel rollers moving inside metal brackets. This is also an easy fix, for the most part. These steel rollers can be replaced with quieter nylon rollers that offer similar durability. The middle garage door hinges can be taken off one at a time, being held by four screws. Once off, the steel roller slides right out of one hole – but be aware that the other hole is for pivoting. Slide the nylon roller in and replace the hinge. The roller on the top of a garage door is usually held with a quarter-inch nut and comes off just as easily. The tricky part is the bottom roller. After detaching the garage door opener for safety, you need to raise the door about halfway to where the upper and lower brackets meet, bend the bracket to free the bottom of the door, detach the rope from the roller, and then pry it out. This can be rather cumbersome for your average DIY-er. If you’re up to the challenge, it can be done, or you can live with just one noisy roller on either side. Alternatively, you can call a pro.

The simplest and most common problem is with the garage door opener. The first thing to check, as obvious as it may be, is to see if it’s plugged in. If it is, you might try unplugging it and replugging it, as this may reset the sensors. Also, the sensors on the sides of the doors may have dusty lenses that can be wiped with a damp rag. Another overlooked solution is to check the batteries in the remote. You may need to reprogram the remote, which may mean tracking down the owner’s manual. Beyond that, pick up the phone and contact a professional.

Garage door repair, for the most part, goes well beyond the skill involved in changing a light bulb. Many videos online offer tutorials in fixing common issues, but between tools, time, and cost, there’s a reason for the yellow pages.

Proper Landscaping for your Investment Property

Should I landscape my investment property? I mean, isn’t it a waste of money to plant flowers, prune, water the lawn, etc.?

There are many aspects of property management that are not glamorous, exciting or necessarily exhilarating. After the adrenaline of the acquisition has faded into the not-too-distant past, there is the day-to-day care and feeding of the investment property itself and landscaping falls into this category. The thinking on this topic is all over the map, including some property owners who believe that the more concrete one has, the better. According to that line of thinking, shrubbery is simply an added expense. I would disagree, however. Remember the primary theme that governs our acquisition and finance of investment grade real estate, namely that we want to own properties that are charming, romantic, and beautiful. That is, we want to own the very properties that people want to live in for all of the intangibles reasons that we’ve discussed on this website – great properties don’t have vacancies, but waitlists, great properties protect our downside because they will hold value better than unattractive properties, and great properties will appreciate faster in an appreciating market.

An investment property with no landscaping lacks all of the beauty, charm and romance that we consider to be critical to our overall real estate investment strategy. After all, who wants to live in a concrete jungle? You don’t want to and your prospective tenant won’t either. So you should landscape. Tenants who comment on or are attracted to well-maintained surroundings are the types of tenants that you want. They notice beauty and they care about their surroundings. Nice landscaping also tells prospective tenants what your standard is for the care of the building – by landscaping, you setting expectations up-front.

Lastly, good landscaping helps you build relationships with your neighbors, particularly if your apartment building is nestled in a residential neighborhood among single family homes and you do not live close by. Neighbors who appreciate good landscaping will stop you on the street and ask you about your plants, so it’s a great platform for starting a conversation, and you want your neighbors to be your friend. They live with your building and your tenants every day, so they are probably the first to know if something goes awry. If you have a good relationship with them, they will notify you right away if they see anything suspicious.

Okay, I agree. I should landscape. What exactly should I plant and what shouldn’t I plant?

Here are my high-level guidelines for landscaping your investment property:

1. Very large trees close to your property that grow quickly with large roots. Very large trees create ongoing maintenance problems that a property owner must deal with on a regular basis, including potential foundation and plumbing problems, not to mention expensive pruning of high branches.

2. Very large trees close to your property that shed profusely. Very large trees that shed profusely will tend to clog the gutters of your building, not to mention the mess that accompanies the falling leaves, particularly during the fall. If your building is in the Puget Sound Area, you must also take into account the rain during the winter season and the fact that leaves can clog gutters, which can cause roof leaks if the building has a flat roof.

3. High maintenance shrubbery. There is a class of plants called ornamental annuals, which are typically used to provide splashes of color to an otherwise colorless or indistinguishable garden. Examples would include begonias, petunias and hollyhock. These are plants are lovely and they do exactly what they are intended to do, namely provide a garden with color, character and personality. That said, ornamental annuals, however, should not be part of your investment property landscaping plans. Why? They die at the end of the year, so you must replant next year. This is expensive and time-consuming. Save the ornamental annuals for your own personal flower garden. What a property owner should plant is something called perennials. What are perennials? They are the opposite of annuals. They only need to be planted once and they will beautify your investment property for years to come. They require maintenance too. All plants require maintenance, but perennials won’t die on you at the end of the year. You will need to be aware of the water requirements, the heat resistance of the types of perennial that you plant, and how vulnerable they may or may not be to direct sunlight. For sunny gardens, try Bergenia Winter Glows, Russian Sage, or Baptisia Australis. Of course, small evergreens are always desirable because they stay green and theoretically live forever. Your best bet would be to visit your local nursery (in Seattle, I would recommend Molbak’s in Woodinville) and ask the nursery to recommend hearty, long-lasting perennials for your investment property landscape.

4. Other Considerations:

  1. Consider the basics – climate, location, sun exposure, soil conditions and moisture requirements.
  2. Choose hearty plants.
  3. Consider scale (the size of the plant at maturity) to the size of the building. Plants that are too small make a big space look “lonely.” Plants that are too big make a place look cluttered. Don’t plant tall things in front of short buildings and stuff like that.
  4. There is the aesthetics part about balancing texture, colors and scale to make sure everything mixes nicely. This requires that you pay attention and develop an “eye” for style.
  5. Consider the impact of your choices on the building. Plants should be at least one foot from the building, if not more and they should not block windows.
  6. Other than watering, your shrubbery should not require light weeding, trimming and deadheading more than once a month. Regular fertilizing and preparation for seasonal changes will increase the longevity and health of your plants.
  7. The “preferred plants” are “hard working” and offer something nice to look at for at least three seasons of the year (bud, bloom and foliage). This is about stretching your landscaping dollars.

5. Grass. Grass is lovely, but too much grass creates huge maintenance problems. Grass is also extremely inviting to dogs, cats and other animals. Grass invites animals to do things that you may not want them to do on the grass, at least not on a regular basis. You get the point. Grass also grows quickly in the summer and can make your property look like an Amazon jungle if not maintained regularly and sometimes at significant cost. In the Pacific Northwest, one can create charming gardens with minimal grass that instills charm to your property without the attendant maintenance inconveniences associated with excessive grass. Use your best judgment when it comes to grass, but use grass sparingly. Remember also, in the Pacific Northwest, grass will turn brown in the summer unless watered regularly. Watering grass so that stray animals will have luscious green bedding on which to do their thing will only increase your water bill. So be frugal with grass!

How to Choose Bathroom Fittings for a Bathroom

Bathroom fittings are plumbing accessories or connections proper for use in a washroom. They are available in different sizes or shapes, and for various purposes, for instance, controlling water stream. Your clean products, showers, and every single accessory should be of good quality and extravagant to influence your washroom to look dazzling, however, washroom fittings too should be of good quality to influence your fittings in a restroom to work appropriately for you. When you have the essential components of your washroom managed, it’s an incredible chance to wipe everything off by picking right and high-quality bathroom fittings. Whether you have renovated your home or bought another home, don’t attempt to neglect the significance of restroom fittings that can give your washroom a finished rich look.

ESSENTIAL BATHROOM FITTINGS

When arranging your shower you have to decide what will be the kind of shower head you require. A shower head is a fitting for coordinating the splash of water in a restroom shower. The sort of shower head you pick will decide how the shower bath feels, as this is the thing that will be appropriating the water. There are diverse assortments like waterfall showers, multi-head showers, rain shower heads, and so on. Numerous people need to use a hand-held shower head. If you are redesigning your restroom, then, you have to affirm that the building has satisfactory water weight to work it.

Hot water enhancements can give significantly more important control over how water is passed on, to where, and in what sum. They furthermore help to direct water by having a control over the wastage of water in your home. Hot water enhancements basically reduce the wastage of water. Temperature controllers, cold water diverters are a segment of the instances of high temp water upgrades.

Faucets are an essential item in a bathroom. A faucet is a gadget that controls the stream of water from a pipe. Before buying the faucet for your bathroom, think of some important issues like support with wet, dry hands. Faucets are also automatic I.e it opens its valve to facilitate water to flow in light of the closeness of a hand or turns in closeness. The faucet closes its valve again following two or three minutes or when it never again feels the closeness of hands. They are common in airports and hotel where they reduce wastage of water.

A principal need is to have the spout prepared for swinging to the opposite side to allow the sink to be totally used without getting anything in the way. A spout is a tube or lip through which fluid, especially water, can be poured.

Nowadays washroom fittings are accessible in the market and online that can without much of a stretch suit your outline and in the meantime fulfils your spending plan and choice of design as well. Picking the right kind of washroom fittings add a touch of style to your home.

Designing With Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are suited to both casual and formal environments; they feel at home with modern or traditional and will compliment the decor of both minimalist and eclectic designs. Hardwood can be classic, rock, jazz, country, or hip hop. Today’s State-of-the-art technology coupled with an almost limitless choice of stains, finishes, styles and designs makes hardwood flooring one of the most practical and versatile floor coverings available. Their beauty is enduring and like a fine wine, they mature with age.

Nature provides the inspiration when designing with hardwood floors. The abundance of natural hardwood species provides a plethora of wood grain structures, each unique and each matching a particular d├ęcor. Oak woods contain a lot of growth ring patterns and knots, and are best suited to traditional and rustic decors. However, adding a high gloss finish can make them elegant enough for any formal dining room. Woods such as Maple, Walnut and Birch contain very little graining and lend themselves well to contemporary and modern designs.

The aesthetic appeal of hardwood is also influenced to a large extent by mineral streaking, the presence of knots and shade and color variation. These features are also used in the classification of hardwoods.

Clear – This grade of hardwood is free of defects though it may have minor imperfections. Flooring in this category tends to be very consistent with little mineral streaking and knots, also making it the most expensive grade.
Select – This grade is almost clear, but contains more natural characteristics such as knots and color variations.

Common grades (No. 1 and No. 2) have more markings than either clear or select and are often chosen because of these natural features and the character they bring to a room.

No.1 Common has a variegated appearance, light and dark colors, knots, flags and worm holes. No.2 Common is rustic in appearance and will show all wood characteristics of the species. These grades have always been the least expensive, but the recent revival of the antique rustic look has resulted in prices skyrocketing.

Performance is a very important aspect when selecting a hardwood floor. Some hardwood species are less porous than others, making them harder and less susceptible to staining. The Janka Hardness Test provides the relative hardness of numerous wood species used in flooring. This rating should only be used as a general guide, as the hardness is also affected by growth region.

Plank construction and finish are also important factors when determining the durability of any wood floor. Plank construction comes in two forms, solid and engineered. Factors such as type of existing subfloor and relative air humidity will determine which floor is best suited to your needs.

Great advancements in finish technology have resulted in floors that are less susceptible to scratching, denting, fading, and are easier to maintain. The addition of Aluminum Oxide to the surface finish has added a measure of performance resulting in a hardwood floor that, maintained properly, should never have to be replaced.

Roofing Contractors: A Special Breed Of Construction Worker

If your roof is damaged, you might wonder why you have to hire a specific type of contractor to carry out the repairs. Roofing contractors specialize in building and maintaining roofs on any type of building. They are considered their own specialty because they need to know how to use different materials to cover, waterproof, and weatherproof buildings. They undergo years of specialized training to hone their skills and, once they have reached a certain level of training and experience, they can become certified.

In order to understand why maintaining a roof requires specialized workers, let’s take a look at how these workers become certified.

What’s Behind Certified Roofing Contractors?

These are the steps certified roofing contractors go through in order to become licensed.

Step One: Acquire a job with a roofing company. Experience is required for certification no matter which state you work in, so most roofers apprentice with a company first.

Step Two: You will need a list of all the certification requirements in your area. You can usually find this online.

Step Three: Find study guides and study for the exam. Study guides are available for purchase online, or you can contact a local bookstore for help.

Step Four: Take the exam. Each state has its own level of proficiency that you must achieve to pass.

Step Five: After passing, submit all required documents to the state licensing board. You will have to prove you passed the state exam and have on-the-job experience in this field.

Costs to Replace Your Roof

Redressing the top of your home is one of the more expensive investments you will have to make. The average timeline for redressing is between 20 and 50 years, depending on the materials used. The cost of replacement will depend on the size and pitch of your roof, the accessibility of your home, and the cost of materials. Therefore, the price for redressing will greatly vary.

Roofing contractors charge by “roofing squares.” One roofing square is equal to a 10-by-10-foot area (100 square feet). The average cost of a shingle roof is $500 to $720 per square, depending on where you live. Weather is a factor in what type of material will be used, with shingles being the most widely used product.

If the top of your house is worn out, you can often tell just by looking at the shingles. If your shingles are old, you will see the corners of some of them curling upward, and they will have a dull appearance. An excellent way to check your roof is to inspect it from inside the attic; look for wet or discolored spots. These mean you have a leak, which should be addressed immediately.

Benefits of a New Roof

A well-maintained home covering will keep out rain and snow, and any other inclement weather. This ensures that your home is dry and protected. On the other hand, a weak covering will eventually, but inevitably, lead to damages that will cost far more to repair.

How To Balance A Wobbly Ceiling Fan

The first step to balancing a ceiling fan is to make sure that the blades and blade arms are all level. If your fan has ever been accidentally bumped or hit in some way, the blades or blade arms may have been bent slightly and therefore would be out of level. The only items you need for this fix is a ladder and a tape measure. Climb the ladder so that you are positioned just outside one of the fan blades.

With the fan turned off, don’t want to hurt yourself, use your tape to measure each blade tip and make sure they are all at the same height. Extend the measuring tape to a spot on the ceiling and hold it there. The tape measure should stay in one place as you turn the fan, by hand, and measure each blade as it passes the tape. All of the blades should pass the tape at the same height. If there is a blade that is out of level you can use one hand positioned on the blade arm, the other on the fan motor, and gently bend the blade arm back into position. This simple fix may solve your problem. If it does not, move on to the next step.

If you’ve tried to level each blade on your fan and it is still out of balance please proceed with these steps. A balancing kit should have come with your fan when you purchased it. If you don’t have one it can be purchased a local lighting showroom or big box store. The balancing kit comes with a u-shape clip and a few lead strips or small weights with adhesive on the back. To use the balancing kit you first use the u-shaped clip. Attach it to a blade somewhere in the middle, and turn on your fan. Make note on a piece of paper if the fan improved or not. Remove the clip and place it on the next blade and repeat, turn on the fan, record the results. Eventually you will find one blade that improves the wobble more than the others. On the blade with the best results start moving the clip in and out on the blade and repeat the process of turning on the fan and noting your results.

After this process you will have determined which blade and where on that blade the lead weights should be placed. Remove the adhesive cover on the weight and place them on the top of the blade so they are hidden from sight. Turn on your fan and hopefully you have just balanced out your wobbly fan.

TIP:

If you don’t want to purchase a balancing kit you can use items around the house. Try using plain masking tape and quarters or washers, then finalize the mounting of the weight with double sided tape. Make sure that the weights are secured with a good quality tape, you wouldn’t want those to be flying off!

Keep Your Wallet Full by Switching to Solar Panels

With energy costs reaching new highs in the past decade, there is a new market trend in utilizing alternative energy. This trend lessens the reliance on crude oil and combustion, as well as takes stress off of major power grids. The leading trend in alternative energy is the utilization of solar panels. There are many benefits to solar energy and not just monetary.

Saves You Money

OK, while there ARE many reasons to use solar panels that do not involve money, it is still a very important factor. Building solar panels and converting your home can save you and average of $1,000 a year. Your geographic location comes into play here as well. If you live in region with long, sunny seasons like California or Hawaii, it is projected that you could save almost $65,000 over a twenty-year period.

Reduce Grid Reliance

The most consistent energy source on the planet is the sun. You could almost set your watch by. In addition to that consistency, the sun also is not for sale. There is no risk of someone creating a monopoly on the sun.

Reduces Carbon Footprint

As a source of clean energy, the use of solar panels greatly reduces the amount of damage done to the environment. You can have your home fully powered with none of the pollution.

Solar Energy Creates Jobs

While this may not directly affect you, solar energy could greatly help the economy. Solar panels need to be constructed; engineering is needed for conversion, there is a whole workforce to be created in this industry. It is estimated that for every one million dollars invested, there is approximately fourteen jobs are created. For comparison, that same amount of investment only creates five jobs in natural gas.

Solar energy is not all upside. The sun does set, so you would not be completely free of your local power company and their rates, but you would save immensely. There is also the issue of natural obstruction, such as clouds. Then there is the upkeep and maintenance of the solar panels themselves. Electric energy is a very passive source for most. The average customer does not check their gauges or knows the wattage they may use, and the switch to solar may seem a little intimidating. If you can get past the initial hurdles, solar energy is definitely a worthwhile investment. It saves money and the environment, and helps the economy.

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