Category Archives: Living

Should You Rent or Should You Buy?

Making the decision to rent a house or to buy one can keep you up at night, but taking the time to examine your situation can make the decision easier. Will you need to move within the next few years? Are you earning enough to take on a home loan? Are you ready for the responsibility of owning a home? Answering these few questions can help you see the way forward.

Settling Down

If you know that you will need to move in the near future, renting is probably the better option for you. If you will need to relocate for a job or school, renting gives you flexibility,  but if you are ready to settle down, buying may be a possibility. Real estate professionals recommend staying in a property for a minimum of five years in order to recoup your investment–of course, this depends upon market fluctuations–but even while you are renting, you can take steps to make buying a home in the future much easier. Be sure to always pay your rent and bills on time. This will help you establish good credit and this will be important when you are in a more stable situation and ready to buy.

Examining Your Finances

The money you pay in rent is essentially gone, but house payments build equity and are an investment. Take a look at your monthly income and expenses, or debt-to-income ratio (DTI), an important consideration when applying for a home loan. To calculate your DTI, add up all of your recurring, regular monthly payments for things that are considered debt, like car loans, student loans, credit card payments or mortgage payments. Then divide this figure by your total monthly income calculated before taxes–also known as monthly gross income. A DTI under 50 percent is acceptable, but a DTI of 20 percent or less will give you more financing options. A Sun West Mortgage representative can help you find financing that works with your situation.

Taking on the Responsibility

When you rent, the landlord takes care of maintenance and repairs on your home, or you hope that is the case. When you own a house, that responsibility falls to you. But you also have the flexibility to choose how your home will look: you can decorate it how you like, decide on your landscaping or paint it whatever color you choose. You can make your home a true reflection of your style, which is not always possible with a rental property.

Once you have examined your living situation, finances and desired level of responsibility, you can make an informed decision about renting or buying a home. No more sleepless nights!

Building a House Cleaning Kit

Most people don’t enjoy household chores like cleaning toilets, dusting furniture, mopping floors or washing windows. Unfortunately, these are necessities of having your own home to live in. Since you have to do the job, why not make sure you have the tools to do it right? As you embark on building the perfect cleaning kit for your home, here are some essential tools you’ll need for each job.

Cleaning Floors

Clean floors make a huge impact on the perception of your home’s overall cleanliness. If there are stains in the carpet, crumbs on the floor or dirty footprints on your tile, your whole house will seem dirty. Fortunately, cleaning the floors is the easiest on your list of chores. If you have carpet, start with a good vacuum cleaner. Make sure you buy a more powerful vacuum if you have furry pets. The vacuum can also serve double-duty for your hard floors. A good mop is also important. Just note that the type of mop you need will differ depending on the flooring you have in your home. Reach out to a company that sells cleaning products in Canada to help you pick the right tools.

Cleaning Bathrooms

Having to clean bathrooms is the bane of most homeowner’s existence but since it is so prone to germs, it’s essential that they are cleaned well. Your vacuum and mop from above will see use in the bathroom to clean up the floors. A high-quality cleaning solution will make sure you kill germs. Use something with antibacterial disinfectants or bleach to make sure nothing harmful remains. A good toilet scrubber will help get the bowl clean. Then use a soft cloth and your cleaning solution for surfaces and fixtures.

Cleaning Furniture

With the right vacuum, some of your furniture cleaning can be made easier. An upholstery attachment will allow you to vacuum your couches, chairs, mattresses, and sofas to remove dust and crumbs. The right attachments for your vacuum can also help with blinds, vents and baseboards. A nice feather duster can help remove light surface dust on shelves and cabinets.

Cleaning Windows

Windows and mirrors with streaks, smears or water spots leave the impression of a dirty house. Fortunately, cleaning these surfaces isn’t too difficult. Find a cleaning product specific to windows, spray it on and scrub it off. Sometimes, especially outside your house, you can utilize a brush and squeegee to clean large areas at a time.

While cleaning the house can be a chore, having the right tools will make it easier. Go through this list and make sure the next time you have to clean, you have exactly what you need to get the job done.

The Types of Repair Work That Can Be Done by a Handyman

The term handyman is often thrown around and has become synonymous with the phrase jack of all trades, and that is for a good reason. Handymen are capable professionals that perform several small and odd jobs. They are perfect contractors for that small bathroom remodel or the porch repair you just haven’t had time to get to. However, there are several other jobs professional handymen are recommended for.

Painting and Drywall

Many people look for handyman services Columbus to help with drywall repairs and painting. For example, as any family with children know, wall damage can be a common occurrence. Whether caused by roughhousing or creative expeditions, a handyman will be able to take care of these small repairs quickly, often in a day or two.

Installing Light Fixtures

Sometimes homeowners require assistance in replacing old light fixtures or ceiling fans. While some may call an electrician, it may be expensive to hire such a specialized professional for this type of work. A handyman is capable of performing this type of replacement and can likely perform the task for a fraction of the cost of an electrician.

Gutter Cleaning and Repair

Additionally, some homeowners are no longer capable of maintaining the exterior of their property, which can lead to gutters overflowing. If gutters are not regularly cleaned, then water can begin to back up, getting under shingles and infiltrating the structure of the home, which can result in rot and even mold. A handyman can take care of this issue and also schedule multiple visits to maintain the gutter system.

Exterior Repairs

Other exterior repairs include siding and window repair as well as deck and porch repair. Windstorms or age can lead to failing shingles and siding. Also, neglect can cause the wood of porches and decks to rot. When these issues occur, a handyman is more than capable of replacing the shingles, siding and rotted boards. Also, a professional laborer can restain and finish your deck and porch to make sure that it lasts for years to come.

Minor Plumbing and Electrical Work

While not every handyman is a certified electrician or plumber, they can perform small tasks. For instance, they can perform small bathroom renovations. They can replace appliances and fixtures. Also, many handymen are likely certified as such which means they are capable of working on minor plumbing and electrical issues.

While many people often overlook the skills of a professional handyman, they are capable, and they can save you a lot of money. Not every task requires the expense and labor of highly specialized professionals. Therefore, why not hire a jack of all trades and save a few bucks.

Tips For Installing a New Sod Lawn

The advent of spring with its warmer temperatures gives rise to the traditional start of home improvement season. It is the perfect time to assess what projects you would like to accomplish by the summer months.

If installing a new turf grass lawn is on your project list, late spring or early summer is the optimal season for laying sod. Depending on where you live, St Augustine sod for sale in Jacksonville FL is a very popular turf option.

St. Augustine grass is one of the more widely used lawn grasses in the South, especially in the warm coastal areas of Florida and the Gulf states. Its popularity is based largely on its ability to tolerate the heat and humidity found in the tropical and subtropical regions of the United States. St. Augustine sod is characterized by a high density that takes root quickly and easily while crowding out most other grasses and weeds and a toleration for salt which makes it a great choice for ocean-facing yards.

No matter which turf grass you choose, here are some tips for installing a new sod lawn.

Calculate the Lawn Area

The first step is to measure the area that needs turf. The measurements can then be used to calculate the square footage of new sod you will need. Special care should be taken when doing the area calculation if your lawn is an odd shape that is neither a true square nor a rectangle.

Prepare the Underlying Soil

You can use a rototiller or a spade to turn the soil over down to a depth of 4 to 6 inches. Once tilled, you should remove any obvious impediments (rocks, roots, etc.) and also bust up any large clods of dirt.

Grade and Water the Surface

The tilled area should then be graded and leveled out with a rake, thereby making the soil as smooth as possible before receiving the new sod. The goal is to create an even, firm surface.  You should liberally water the area the night before the new sod is installed.

Sod Installation

You should install the new sod immediately upon delivery. Do not overlap or leave gaps when rolling out the turf. Stagger the seams as the turf is unrolled so that they do not all line up. You can use a cutting tool to trim around bushes, trees, sidewalks, and other objects.

Roll the New Lawn

Once installed, you should use a roller on the newly laid sod to ensure good contact with the pre-existing soil. Then water the entire lawn again.

Following these tips should help make installing your new sod a snap.

Storage Where You Need It

It is safe to say we all have a need for extra storage space. Some of us have a lot of stuff and not enough room to keep it, others need to relocate items to complete a project, and then there is the reality of shifting things so you can relocate.

Regardless of the reason, it would be ideal if the additional space could be found and used on your property, which is why Container on Wheels Storage and other portable options have become the answer to many peoples problems. If you are looking for mobile storage solutions homestead, consider these different alternatives and how they might fit into your scenario.

Convenience

Having a storage unit delivered to your doorstep is the epitome of convenience. Rather than load up your vehicle, beg a friend to loan their truck, or rent one, only to have to still drive your stuff to another storage unit, with portable options you have all you need in one place. Not only does this reduce the amount of hard work involved, but you also cut costs and save friendships.

Versatility

No matter the need, portable storage units allow you to accomplish many goals throughout your rental period. You can move items out of your home so you can easily perform home improvements that you will enjoy or finish repairing items that must be done for resale purposes. When you are finished with the projects, use the storage space to purge items you no longer need or want, rather than move them back into the house.

Weatherproof

Weather may not be a concern for everyone, but it can certainly cause most of us some grief. When you need to store your precious belongings outside of the home, keep in mind the level of weatherproofing you will need or desire. Just because you are taking advantage of mobile storage does not mean you have to sacrifice the protection of your earthly goods. Mobile units are designed to withstand a variety of conditions, so make sure you are getting one that works for you.

Options

Once you are done moving everything into your storage unit, you have options on what to do with it. If leaving the unit in its current location works best, you can do that. If you need your goods stored off-site for a while, you can do that too. You can even have everything relocated to the site where it will be unpacked. By using mobile storage solutions, you can have it all.

Packing and moving are not the typical ideas of fun, but with convenience, versatility and a whole host of options, mobile storage solutions can provide a very positive experience.

6 Tips for Preparing for a Big Move

Moving is stressful. In fact, it’s safe to say that a big move is one of the most stressful things we go through in life. There are a lot of things to consider when preparing for a major move. The next time you’re ready to pack up and move out, consider these six tips to help make the transition easier.

Plan Ahead

Think about everything you need to do in order to orchestrate a successful move. Write down all of those tasks to create a checklist. You’ll want to consider everything from going to the store to collect boxes and packing tape to finding the contacting the moving professionals of movinglocal.org to help you with the details. Once you create the checklist, you’ll have a better understanding of everything that needs to be done. Chances are you’ll want to start sooner than later. When it pertains to packing an entire home, it’s a good idea to start at least six weeks in advance.

Declutter Your Home

Over the years, we tend to accumulate clutter. It happens, and it’s the stress of that clutter that can be so overwhelming when it comes time to move. Even if you’ve skipped over spring cleaning the last few years, decluttering is possible. Give yourself time, starting a few weeks before your moving day. Take on one room of your house at a time, focusing on decluttering and tidying up.

Once you declutter, create piles for different purposes. Create a pile that goes directly to the recycling bin. Another pile can go to friends and family members who might find some of the items useful. You can donate items to charity. However, make sure you get rid of the items you don’t use.

Consider Your Expenses

Take a look at your finances. Factor in where you’d like to spend money and where you’d like to save money. Figure out where you can save money. One of the best ways to save money involves moving boxes. You’ll probably need a lot of boxes when you’re preparing to move. If you go to any supply store, you can easily spend up to $20 on garment boxes and more. Instead, it’s a great idea to reach out to the local grocery stores. Ask when they’ll be receiving their next shipments. Usually, they receive shipments on a weekly basis. Ask them if they can set aside a certain number of boxes for you. Be ready to pick them up when they ask you to retrieve them. That’s one way to keep lots of money in your pocket.

Plan Your Meals

While you’re going to be really busy during a move, it’s not a good idea to solely rely on fast food to feed your family. Instead, it’s a wise idea to set up meal plans. You can prepare the meals for your family at the beginning of the week. You can make a few casseroles, place them in the freezer and pull them out whenever you’re ready for a dish to feed your family. Print out a few coupons so that you can enjoy one night off with pizza or takeout for the family. However, don’t make it a nightly practice. You’ll waste so much money.

Pack Strategically

You already know that your family needs to eat. Knowing this, make sure that the kitchen is one of the last places you pack up. It’s a good idea to pack up the items you don’t use first. Always label all of the boxes. Instead of solely labeling the items based on what’s inside, take it a step further. Create a color-coding system. Put a large red sticker on each box that’s supposed to go to the master bedroom. Put a large blue sticker on each box that’s designated for one of the children’s bedrooms. This will help the movers understand where to put items when it’s time to unpack.

Create Diversions for Children

Especially if you have young children, it’s easier to have them out of your hair when you’re in the middle of packing. Ask family members and friends if they’d be able to help out with babysitting. Make sure they have activities to engage in while you’re working.

How to Start Successfully Flipping Houses

There is a lot of money to be made in flipping houses. However, this is not the right job for everyone. The following tips can help individuals who want to make a success of flipping houses.

One of the very first things that you need to be able to do in order to flip houses successfully is to determine the true cost of everything. This is going to require quite a bit of work on your part. If you already have some experience buying real estate or doing home repairs, this will work to your advantage.

When you look at a house, you need to be able to take the price of the house and combine it with the costs of repairing the home and compare that to what the house is likely to sell for. The problem that many individuals run into is that they underestimate how much repairs will actually cost.

While your goal is to save as much money as you can on repairing the home, there are times when it is best to spend money on professional help. For example, if you do not have a trained eye, you may end up making a judgment that a roof only needs a couple of repairs when in reality it needs to be completely replaced. The difference in how much these things will cost is usually quite substantial. The same is true when it comes to Chicago garage flooring. Does the garage floor just need to have a few repairs done, or does it need to be completely replaced? Working with professionals at the beginning of the project is going to save you a lot of money and heartache along the way.

One of the ways that many individuals have had success flipping homes is by doing a lot of the repairs themselves. They can save a ton of money on labor if they already have some construction experience or are willing to take the time to learn how to do different projects around the home.

Flipping houses is a great option for individuals who are willing to work hard and take some risks. It takes a lot of research and time, though, to make it a success.

Home Maintenance Tasks: DIY or Seek a Professional?

Completing DIY household maintenance tasks can save you a lot of money. Some projects, however, are best left to the professionals for safety and cost purposes. When should you do it yourself versus calling in a professional for your home maintenance tasks?

Plumbing Maintenance

Many homeowners do not realize the cost of a single plumbing problem. While dumping some drain cleaner into the basement toilet that keeps backing up might fix the problem temporarily, it could end up costing you thousands of dollars later. Of course, you could take a DIY approach to minor plumbing problems like a leaky faucet or a slow draining toilet. But any plumbing problems that could indicate larger plumbing problems require a professional. Otherwise, you risk damage to your floors, walls, and even furniture.

HVAC Maintenance

Preventative maintenance is extremely important to maintaining the quality and efficiency of your HVAC unit. The homeowner should complete some of the necessary maintenance tasks such as changing the air filter regularly. Other tasks, such as inspections, tune-ups, and duct cleaning, should be left to someone who is knowledgeable about your HVAC system. Proper maintenance on a routine schedule can extend the life of your system while also offering you comfortable and efficient heating and cooling.

Landscaping

You have a folder full of dream backyard pictures. Now what? Depending on the complexity of your project and your comfort with landscaping tools, you might be able to handle your project alone. More extensive landscaping projects, including those involving retaining walls or outdoor kitchens, might require the services of a professional. Tree removal should also be completed by a professional with the right tools. Consider your skills, your project budget, and your comfort level when deciding whether to bring in a pro.

Painting Projects

There are many reasons you might choose to paint your home, including chipped paint or simply a design refresh. Although you could hire a professional to paint, this can be expensive, and most people are capable of doing it on their own. Stock up on all the necessary paint supplies, grab a friend, and get to work. You might even find it somewhat enjoyable. Besides, the worst that could happen is that you might need to touch up places or repaint the room.

Roof Maintenance

Your roof is very important to your home, and it requires routine maintenance. While major roof repairs should be left to the professionals, homeowners can handle other tasks related to the roof, such as keeping the gutters cleaned. Some homeowners might be comfortable with replacing single shingles on the roof, but it’s important to have the appropriate safety precautions in place. Roofing contractors are used to scaling high heights and are insured.

It’s important to keep in mind that while many DIY projects can save you money, some can end up costing you more. Additionally, taking on a household project that’s best left to the professionals can put you in a dangerous situation. Always weigh the pros and cons before jumping into a DIY household project.

Creating Your Home Utility Emergency Plan

Most homeowners rely on the comforts of their home utilities. When your HVAC system, electrical wiring, plumbing, and other utilities are running smoothly, it’s easy to take them for granted. When a problem does occur, you’ll want to be able to solve it as quickly as possible. By putting a home utility emergency plan in place that addresses the following issues, you’ll have a shorter downtime when essential systems in your house experience problems.

Keep a List of Contacts

When a problem occurs with one of your utilities, you don’t want to waste precious time looking up phone numbers and comparing companies to find the best service for your needs. Instead, look up reviews and get recommendations for companies and technicians you can trust to take care of repairs before you need them. In addition, note the contact numbers for your utility providers. Your list of emergency utility contacts should include:

  • 24-hour plumber
  • 24-hour HVAC service
  • Water company
  • Gas company
  • Electric company

Post this list in an easily accessible place (such as on the fridge) so you can quickly make a call in an emergency.

Locate Your Utility Controls

If an emergency does occur, you might need to shut off your utilities as quickly as possible to avoid damage to your home or for the safety of your family. That’s why it’s critical to know the locations of each of the following utility controls:

  • Breaker box/electrical fuse box
  • Heating fuel shut-off
  • Main water shut-off
  • Individual shut-off valves for toilets, sinks, and washing machine

Know how to use each of these controls. If any tools are required to operate them, such as a wrench, keep one nearby.

Create a Maintenance Schedule

One of the best ways to avoid sudden problems with your utilities is to have the main systems in your household maintained routinely. By checking for problems regularly and taking steps to improve efficiency, you’ll reduce the risk of more serious breakdowns later on.

Schedule biannual maintenance for your HVAC system to make sure it’s ready for the winter and summer seasons. This is one of the utilities you’ll want to have checked more frequently since it directly affects your comfort at home. Periodically, you might also want to hire a plumber and electrician to inspect the utilities for potential issues. There are also several home maintenance tasks you can handle yourself, such as keeping drains and gutters clear of debris, trimming trees away from the house, and replacing or cleaning air filters.

Set Aside Funds for Repairs

Home repairs can happen at unexpected times, and many are inevitable. Part of being a homeowner is dealing with repairs and replacements as the systems and materials as your home ages. Make sure you’re ready when the time comes by saving money in a fund specifically set aside for home repairs. You’ll be happy when you have money available to pay for a utility emergency rather than having to use credit or dip into other savings.

Don’t let a home utility emergency catch you off guard. Prepare for the unexpected with this list of planning tips.

Giving Back by Beautifying Your Community

There are many variables that go into making a community great, and one of the biggest is its outdoor spaces. Much like the curb appeal of your home sets the first impression for those who pass by your home, the outdoor spaces in your community set the tone for the community as a whole.

The visual appeal of a community can improve home and business values, boost tourism and improve your community’s image in your state. Thankfully, there are ways that you can give back to your community and work to improve its general aspect. Even small steps are important. Check out these five great ideas that you can do by yourself or as a family.

Home Improvement

First, start in your own yard. Make sure that your landscaping is as good as you can get it and that the outer portion of your home is well-kept. Be sure to mow your lawn frequently and fertilize it seasonally. Add color by planting perennials that are easy to maintain and that bloom throughout the year. Paint your home regularly if it needs it, and consider minor home improvements that do not cost much, such as changing or painting your front door, adding shutters or replacing your mailbox.

Start a Community Beautification Project

Second, see if you can inspire your neighbors to join you in your beautification project with a competition. Consider setting up a competition on your street for the best flower bed or the best window boxes. Ask one individual from outside your street to be the judge. Once you have worked together like this, your neighbors may be more interested in other projects, such as attracting birds or honeybees to the community.

Increase Community Green Space

Third, determine if your community offers free or low-cost trees or other outdoor elements to its citizens. Some communities sell very small saplings in groupings of 50 or 100. If this is the case, your neighborhood could work together to plant these trees up and down the street. You could also see if your community would allow you to use these trees to beautify a local park. Some communities will drop off or even plant trees along the curb for homeowners who want one or two to amp up green space along local streets. Giving back to your community by increasing green space will benefit both current residents and future generations.

Next, you could volunteer as a family to clean up your local park or a particular street or public space in town. You may even want to consider adopting an area as a family and cleaning it up regularly. Pick up trash, clear weeds away, plant flowers seasonally and rake leaves when needed in parks. Roadways generally need regular trash pickup.

Add Public Art

Finally, if you are an artist, see if your community has a plan for public art. Some communities appreciate public art being displayed on certain buildings and in parks or painted on fences or walls. These scenes typically display historical or cultural aspects of the town. Some entrepreneurs, such as Neill Sullivan, support this type of work as well. Some cities have also had success in bringing their community together with street pianos. Music can help individuals connect regardless of their differences, and These perfectly-placed pianos double as a cheap form of entertainment.

A beautiful community with many gorgeous outdoor spaces will help to attract tourists as well as new residents. Plus, it is just as good for those who already live in your community because they can enjoy the new natural spaces and enjoy the lush and vibrant outdoor elements of their hometown. A great hometown is not just one that has plenty of businesses, adequate jobs, and affordable housing. Instead, it is one that improves the residents’ quality of living in numerous ways. You can be a part of creating a vibrant and beautiful community when you give back by improving and beautifying outdoor spaces around you.