Take Care of these DIY Home Projects Before Summer Ends

Ceiling fanHomeowners often run out of free time once summer ends, so now may be a good time to complete a number of do-it-yourself home projects. Here are our suggestions:

Ceiling Fans
One task many homeowners might not realize is helpful all year long is installing ceiling fans, specifically those that rotate both clockwise and counterclockwise. Installing them now, while the weather is still hot, can significantly reduce cooling costs.

Because hot air rises, a ceiling fan that runs clockwise will pull cooler air up from the floor and redistribute it from the top of the room. This can have the effect of cooling a room by as much as 10 degrees in the summer, without the use of an air conditioner. Likewise, a ceiling fan running counterclockwise in the winter will push more of the hot air coming out of heating vents and radiators back toward the floor.

Your Home’s Exterior
Great summer weather for most folks won’t last and it’s always a great idea to ensure your home is completely prepared for fall and winter. Pressure-washing pathways, decks and siding is a great way to beautify your home in just a few hours, without the need to repaint or repave. Renting a pressure washer for the day will usually cost less than $100 from a local hardware store.

Taking the time to clean out gutters and repair them before leaves start to fall and potentially clog the drainage. Getting this done ahead of the winter months, when melting snow and ice can create major problems if left unaddressed, is vital.

The Right Approach
Now might also be the time to make sure you have the proper guidelines to actually do the DIY jobs you set out to do. For example, using a power washer is a great way to keep a home looking beautiful, but if operated incorrectly, this tool can be dangerous both to the user and the property. Study up on how to use your tools properly and have the right safety equipment on hand.

Likewise, when cleaning out gutters, having another person there to hold the ladder is a minimum safety measure that should be undertaken.

Furthermore, there are some home improvement jobs that should not be undertaken by inexperienced homeowners under just about any circumstances, and a little research can go a long way toward determining what’s a reasonable project to DIY and what’s better left to the pros.

Need help with your project? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services for recommendations of vetted home-service professionals!

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click www.hmsnational.com

 

Tips to Save on Cooling Costs at Your Home

Air conditioning programmingWith hot weather gripping most of the country, many homeowners are cranking up their home air-conditioning and this can be costly and expensive. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to bring cooling costs down as the summer heat continues. Here are a few tips to save money while staying cool:

Install Ceiling Fans
It may seem counterproductive to add even more electric appliances in an attempt to reduce power consumption, but a ceiling fan provides a good alternative to air conditioning as well as can assist your AC unit. A ceiling fan can help reduce the temperature in a room by as much as 10 degrees by pulling hot air away from inhabitants and constantly circulating it. Using it on its own may help on days that aren’t too hot, but using it in concert with an air conditioner set on low can make the AC work less hard.

As a bonus, ceiling fans that are able to spin both clockwise and counterclockwise can also help reduce heating bills in the winter. This is because as hot air rises, running the fan in the opposite direction helps redistribute it back down to the floor of a room.

Go Higher
It’s a good idea to turn the AC temperature setting up a few more degrees than normal to reduce costs as well. People usually won’t notice the difference between 68 and 72 degrees, but for every degree higher it goes, cooling costs are reduced by as much as nine percent.

Keep the Sunshine Out
Many homeowners may want to let the sun into their homes to make their living spaces bright, but doing so can increase costs significantly. The greenhouse effect applies to all types of glass, so letting in sunlight heats up a room. And even if it’s only just by a few degrees, the cost can add up, especially for homes that receive direct sunlight throughout the day. Instead, it’s smart to keep the blinds closed at this time of year.

Check Under the Hood
Whether a home has a central air conditioning system or relies on a number of window units, it’s important to make sure these devices are running properly. Checking air filters as well as clearing out any nearby debris will help ensure the AC runs as efficiently as possible.

For homes with older units, it might simply be a better idea to replace them with newer and more efficient options. As with installing ceiling fans, that will require some up-front investment, but the cost benefits will really add up over time.

Start Programming
For homes with a central AC system, it’s also a good idea to invest in a smart programmable thermostat. Most people know it’s not efficient to run the AC all day – especially when they’re not home – but may forget to leave it running when away at work.

With a wireless-enabled smart thermostat, you control your home’s temperature from anywhere you have an Internet connection.

Get an Expert Opinion
It might be wise to have an efficiency audit on your home. Trained professionals check to make sure there are no issues with the structure of the home hat would lead to inefficient operation of an HVAC system.

These audits can identify even the tiniest cracks in seals around doors and windows or in a home’s foundation that, if patched, can dramatically boost a home’s ability to keep cool air in and hot air out. Some estimates show a typical home may have enough of these little cracks and holes to add up to the equivalent space of leaving a window open 24/7. Sealing them up is often as simple as applying a bit of caulk other sealants.

Be Smart About Food Prep
Many homeowners love to cook, but doing this activity during the summer isn’t always a good idea. Running the stove can really heat up a kitchen and that’s going to make the air conditioner work overtime to keep a desired temperature. Instead, prepare foods that don’t need to be prepared in the oven or stove.

When you did need to turn on the oven,  it’s a good idea to only use it at night, when the temperature is lower.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click www.hmsnational.com

 

7 of the Best Home Improvements that Pay Off when Selling

Seven best home improvements that pay offThinking of making updates to your home? Here is a list of projects that add value to your home from the National Association of Realtors Remodeling Impact Report:

1. Wood Floors
If you have existing hardwood floors covered by carpet, it might be a good idea to refinish them. Costs may be around $3,000 but you should recover 100% of that cost when selling.

If you are installing new hardwood flooring, the cost could be around $5,500 and you should be able to net $5,000 back.

2. Insulation
When you insulate your home, you not only benefit from lower utility bills, but you should be able to recover $1,600 of a $2,100 investment.

3. HVAC
Replacing your HVAC system is expensive ($7,500+). You should expect to recover 67% of that money back as well as enjoy the savings from a new, energy-efficient system.

4. Garage Door
A new garage door not only makes your home’s appearance look better, but you should be able to recover 87% of its cost. (The average cost is $2,300.)

5. Siding
Siding is another expensive item. It can cost $18,000 or more. When completed, your home will not only have a long-lasting exterior, but you should be able to recover 83% of its cost when you sell.

6. Deck, Porch or Patio Addition
A 16×20 wood deck costs around $11,000. You should be able to recoup $10,000 or 90%. Outdoors rooms are very popular and make living more enjoyable.

7. Replacement Windows
Ten 3×5 windows cost around $9,700. You should be able to get back 90% when selling!


Other Improvements to Consider
Although the return is not as high on these items, you may still want to consider updating a bath, the kitchen or your basement:

Bathroom
A full remodel on a bathroom is about $30,000. Your recovery on this item when selling is only 50%. However, a new bath is an important room to buyers. A minor bathroom remodel might be better for you. This cost will come in around $11,000 and the recoup rate is 102%. 

Kitchen
For a $35,000 investment expect to recover $20,000 or 57% of your cost. Again, the recoup is not as high as other projects, but home buyers do desire up-to-date kitchens.

Basement Conversion to Living Space
This project is a big one and can cost $40,000+. Expect to recover 63% when selling.

Need help with your home-improvement project? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services for recommendations of vetted vendors.

 

 

10 Tips on How to Stage Your Home to Sell

10 home-staging tips when sellingHome staging is a process to make your appealing to potential home buyers. Here are 10 staging tips on how to make your home look more desirable and larger:

1. Clean Your Home Throughly
Before staging your home, you need to make sure it is immaculate from top to bottom, inside and out. (You may need to hire professionals to help with this activity.)

2. Just Say No to Clutter
Your belongings should not interfere when buyers are looking at your home. Photos, collectibles and keepsakes need to be kept to a minimum. You do not want bare walls or shelves, but restrict items to sets of three items of varying height.

Children’s toys should be kept to a minimum and organized.

3. Furniture Placement
Arrange furniture in a way that focuses on flow from room to room. Also make sure there is a focal point on the furthest wall from the doorway and place furniture in a triangle around that focal point. (In the bedroom, the bed is the focal point. In a living area, it might be a fireplace.)

4. Too Much Furniture?
If a room is stuffed with furniture, the size of the room will appear smaller. Furniture needs to be scaled back to fit the room.

A trick used to make rooms look larger is to paint them the same color as an adjacent room. This fools the eye to think both rooms are one larger space. Another tip is to paint the walls the same color as the drapes. This creates an illusion of more space.

5. Make Rooms Brighter
Walls should be a neutral color, but you can add brightness with the right accessories to make a room appear larger. Remove or open dark curtains or shades or replace with sheer versions.

High-watt light fixtures will also add more light in the room. (Aim for 100 watts per 50 square feet.) If possible, it is preferred to have three types of lighting in main rooms: ambient (overhead), task (pendant, reading or under cabinet) and accent (table or wall.)

6. Closets
Buyers will peer into your closets. Make sure they look neat and spacious. Twenty to 30 percent open space is recommended.

7. Rooms with a Purpose
If you have an empty room, it is best to stage it for its intended purpose. A spare bedroom could be either a guest bedroom or a home office. You want to avoid showing off a “junk” room. If you do not have a spare bed, consider buying a frame and adding an inexpensive air mattress that will then be covered with bed linens.

8. Designer Touches
Vignettes can add charm to rooms. Just like model homes, think about setting the table and include fresh flowers. Add fancy soaps near the tub along with fresh towels. Master bedrooms should be gender neutral. A blanket folded at the end of a bed is a nice touch. When adding your edited accessories, think in terms of three. This number is pleasing to the eye especially when grouped as a triangle.

If you have a porch or patio, consider staging those areas to make them more appealing to buyers. A small cafe table with a tablecloth and a few dishes can inspire someone to think about having breakfast there.

A fire pit in autumn and early winter can be very inviting.

9. The Outside Counts, Too
The view of the front of the home is the first impression. Make it count! The lawn should be cut and edged. Add pots of flowers in warmer months. Read more about adding curb appeal to your home here.

10. Got Pets? Beware of Odors
If you have a pet, be sure to be very careful about cleaning to remove any lingering odors. Many people remove pet food bowls and toys for showing appointments.

Need help staging your home? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services. They can recommend professionals such as home stagers, painters and cleaning pros to help get your home looking its best to sell.

Get Spring Cleaning Right in Less Time

花火8You may procrastinate when it comes to spring cleaning because it is time consuming and not always enjoyable. Here are a few useful tips to make this job less painful to complete in a short amount of time:

Kitchen
One of the biggest areas for spring cleaning is the kitchen. Cleaning a refrigerator both inside and out doesn’t have to be a time-consuming process as long as you plan ahead. Slowly remove items as they’re used – without replacing them – so that there’s less clutter to take out.

Once your fridge is decluttered it will be a lot easier to remove all of the shelves and drawers and give them a good scrub without having to spend a lot of time removing and replacing food and drink items.

Bathroom
The bathroom is another area that requires a deeper clean over a given time. For showers with grout, it may be wise to first rub the affected areas with a high-grit sandpaper to clear off the top layer, and then carefully apply bleach to those stained areas to ensure there’s no leftover mildew. Once this is done, allow some time to dry and then apply sealant.

For faucets and shower heads covered in soap scum, scrubbing with balled-up aluminum foil will clear off debris with ease, without scratching the metal.

Unexpected Places
Spring cleaning isn’t just about getting at the “problem areas.”  You need to address less-considered parts of your home as well. For instance, countertops and cabinets can get a little dirtier than people might expect and cleaning them off with a high-power cleaning product, then sealing them, can help them stay much cleaner for years to come.

Here is a tip on cleaning windows: clean them on a cloudy day. Sunlight won’t dry out cleaners when applied, making the wipe-down more effective.

Need help with your spring cleaning efforts? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services. They can put you in touch with local vendors to help get your home clean top to bottom.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click www.hmsnational.com

Get Your Home Ready for Sale Now!

Home renovationWhile winter is here, homeowners who are considering selling should take this time to ensure their homes are ready to appeal to buyers. That effort requires some prep work – and the good news is that a lot of these jobs are easy to complete.

Starting with Physical Labor
Prior to selling your home, owners need to make sure their houses are depersonalized. All personal touches and mementos should be removed from areas potential buyers are most likely to view. This is an important step because potential buyers need to be able to picture themselves themselves moving in with their belongings.

Removing family photos, kids’ drawings on the fridge and other home-y items is crucial. If a property that’s put up for sale feels too “lived in,” would-be buyers might be subconsciously less interested in making a bid.

It’s also wise to focus on decluttering and clearing out items that can build up in corners and closets. This should coincide with a larger effort to give a home a good top-to-bottom cleaning, especially in communal areas such as the kitchen or den, where prospective buyers are likely to spend more time during open houses. This might also be a good time to find items to donate or sell items that are no longer used or worn.

Applying Finishing Touches
Depersonalizing and decluttering a home are often the hardest parts of the job, but homeowners have other efforts to undertake, according to On The Market. For instance, if any rooms of a house are painted in bright or bold colors, repainting them so they’re a bit more muted and neutral is often recommended because buyers may not be able to picture a room in any other colors.

In addition, it’s a good idea for owners to make sure their front lawns and any garden areas are in good shape. A little work outdoors can help visitors feel welcome immediately and adds to that curb appeal.

Your real estate agent will recommend changes to make before selling. With a few months before the official start of the busy real estate sales season, there’s still plenty of time to easily make those changes.

Sibcy Cline Home Services is available to help with painting and other preparation needs to get your home sale ready.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty. HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers. To learn more click www.hmsnational.com.

Winterize Your Home Now So You Can Sell This Spring

Road in snowIt’s important  for homeowners to keep their homes in the best shape possible during the winter season and be prepared as potential listings for the spring. A little bit of work to winterize properties before colder weather really sets in can go a long way toward keeping a home in great shape.

There are plenty of ways to winterize a home and the simplest usually start indoors. For instance, by simply checking and swapping out old furnace filters (which are available at a relatively low cost) homeowners can both improve the quality of the air in their homes and make those furnaces run far more efficiently.

Don’t forget to drain the water pipes that run water outdoors. Whether it’s a spigot that comes out of the side of the house or an underground sprinkler system, flushing them out at this time of year is vital. Otherwise, they can burst, leading to lots of water damage and costly repairs.

Where Inside Meets Outside
Homeowners may not be aware, but a primary cause of high heating bills is cracked seals around doors and windows. These can be small, but across an entire house can add up to be equal to the size of leaving a window open. Going through the home and inspecting the frames around windows and doors for cracks or fissures, then closing them up with weather stripping or a sealant, will make a home heating more efficient.

Make sure the roof is in good shape before the first snowfall or cold rain. If there are damaged shingles, replace them, and if gutters are clogged with fallen leaves or other debris, clean them out. In a lot of cases, a small issue on the roof can lead to big problems if left unaddressed.

Owners of older homes should evaluate their insulation situation. If it hasn’t been changed out in a decade or more, now might be the right time to do it. Often, homeowners might not even notice the difference over the years, but putting in new insulation could really help them save on their heating (and cooling) costs for years to come.

Out in the Yard
This time of year is the right one to go around your yard and see if there are any hazards, such as rotting trees or big, overhanging branches. Weighted down with snow, they could fall and do damage to your house or other parts of the property. Taking some time now (before the first big snowfall of the year) to trim them back or have them removed altogether can help avoid what would otherwise be some rather costly damage.

It’s also important to have plenty of products on hand to keep walkways clear – with de-icers and shovels and perhaps even a snowblower – so guests and family members can keep their footing even when conditions aren’t ideal.

When Selling a Home
Many homeowners who plan to sell within the next few months may not think of all these aspects of winterizing as being particularly vital, but if something were to go wrong with their plumbing, roof, siding or any other part of the home, that could really hurt their sales prospects.

Following all the above steps is a great idea, and it’s also important to add protection with a home warranty on top of any and all winterizing efforts. A home warranty can protect both buyers and sellers – even before the real sales process formally begins –because it will add financial protections in case a major home system or appliances suffer a mechanical failure. That, in turn, can provide all parties involved in the sale with peace of mind, even long after it has been finalized.

Need help with winterizing your home? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services who can recommend vetted service vendors to you!

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click www.hmsnational.com.