12 Low-Cost Tips to Make Your Yard Look Even Better During Summer

GardenWith summer finally here, many home owners will put plenty of hours into beautifying their lawns and gardens. Here are 12 tips to help you save money while still making sure your yard looks its best all summer long:

1) Stay on the Lookout for Weeds
Weeds are a problem for your lawn or garden simply because they consume nutrients your preferred plants also need. Be vigilant about what you planted and if anything growing on your lawn or in your garden shouldn’t be there. As long as you pull the weeds out – roots and all – you should be safe. Some weeds may be persistent and you may need to resort to weed-killing chemicals readily available at your local hardware store.

2) Edge What You Can
Whether you’re doing it by hand, renting or buying an edger – they often cost less than $100 – edging your lawn is a great idea to differentiate your garden from your lawn, pathways or other features. It makes your lawn look cleaner.

3) Trim Overgrown Bushes and Trees
If you have big bushes in your yard that take up valuable square footage, trees with overhanging branches, or other areas where plants are growing out of control – investing time and energy to trim them back is a great idea. It will make your outdoor space cleaner with a more organized look and feel.

4) Make a Statement in Separation
When you’re trying to make your lawn look really impressive, do some extra work above and beyond simple edging – where it meets your driveway, gardens or other spots – will help it pop out more. For instance, putting up a small wooden fence or line of rocks around the edges of your garden will both help the two spaces contrast and give you a better idea of what you have to edge next time.

5) Add a Water Feature
Whether you put in a small concrete pond, birdbath or a fountain that runs from an attached hose, a water feature is an attractive addition to any garden. You can DIY most of these features, or buy a pre-made option.

6) Make a Path
While most people know not to tread on gardens, having people walk all over your lawn isn’t good for it either. Reduce possible lawn damage by laying down a path of stone, wood planks or other material, which you can get from most big-box hardware retailers. This will not only protect the lawn, but will add another attractive, eye-catching feature.

7) Contrast in Your Garden
A great way to make your garden areas more impressive is to plant flowers and other greenery that are of various colors and textures. It’s great to have a garden bursting with colorful flowers, but contrasting them with some deep green bushes, small evergreens or other plants can bring in a little more variety.

8) A Space to Enjoy
What good is a garden if you’re only viewing it from afar or as you pass through? Add some seating (such as a simple metal bench or wooden chairs and a table) to make your garden a more homey place to sit and relax. By placing the seating in the shade you will have a great place to read in the summer.

9) Bring in Containers Where it Makes Sense
Sometimes you don’t necessarily have the space to plan an entire new flower bed or other feature, but you do have an area you want to beautify a bit. In these cases, consider a large, potted plant or other type of container that will allow you to add something new without requiring a lot of digging or other work.

10) Put in Plants and Other Features Around Every Tree
When your yard has trees – whether they’re towering or merely saplings – it’s a good idea to make sure they have some company. Planting flowers around the tree bed or installing features like a birdbath or some rocks can help the whole area stand out as being just a bit more attractive.

11) Don’t Mow Too Low
When it comes to your lawn’s health overall, one of the biggest mistakes homeowners make is mowing too low to the ground. It may look great to have a nice short cut, but it’s not recommended because it hurts the lawn in multiple ways. First, short grass is more likely to dry out or be scorched in the hot summer sun. Second, it’s worse at retaining water as a general rule. Third, it often pulls up grass altogether and makes the lawn more susceptible to erosion when it rains, leading to patchy spots.

12) Plan Carefully When Adding New Features
If you’ve mastered care for other parts of your yard and you want to add a new flower bed or other feature, it’s wise to approach the job with caution. Take some time to plan out the whole area, staking it off to see how it might look before you start tearing up grass or putting down mulch.

One of the best ways to beautify your backyard or increase your curb appeal (which, for hopeful sellers, is critical to boosting their real estate sales opportunities) is to look online for some inspiration. A quick search on Pinterest may turn up plenty of options that will help you make your home a more satisfying place to live.

Need help with your landscaping, lawn or garden? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services. They can recommend vetted professionals to help you make your lawn and garden look great all summer long.

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

Four Home DIY Projects for Spring

RoofIf you’re already doing spring cleaning, it might be wise to get out the toolbox and do some home improvement projects as well. A little maintenance can go a long way after the tough winter months.

Here are four crucial tips to making sure your home will recover from winter:

1) Fix the Roof
There’s probably no part of your home that takes as much of a beating every winter as the roof, according to BobVila.com. After all, it not only deals with snow, sleet and rain, but also harsh winds, cold weather, water runoff and bearing the weight of snow and ice that builds up over the course of a few months.

With that in mind, it’s quite common for shingles or tiles to crack, loosen or fall off during the winter. When the spring thaw hits, going up there once it’s safe and checking everything carefully will give you an idea of how much repair work you have to do.

2) Look for Leaks, Fissures and Cracks
Along similar lines to inspecting your roof, it can also be a good idea to look over your home’s interior and exterior for any signs of wear and tear from the winter. Missing shingles can be a sign of leaks into the attic, so checking inside is always wise if there’s obvious damage on the roof. The same is true of checking along windows and exterior doorways for any fissures, which can be fixed with caulk more often than not.

It’s also smart to check your home’s foundation for any cracks or holes that might have formed, and fill them with an appropriate patching substance as soon as possible to avoid further damage.

3) Check the Deck and Siding
While you may not realize it, painted, stained or even sealed decks can really get a lot of muck and grime built up on them throughout the winter. That’s also the case with siding, whether wooden or vinyl. Usually, turning a pressure washer on them can help unlock their real beauty once again, and renting this kind of equipment shouldn’t carry too big of a price tag.

4) Examine the Gutters
Finally, if your home has gutters, now is the time to check them out. They might have taken a bit of damage (especially if there was ice buildup) or clogged with tree debris over the winter.

Of course, no one knows your house better than you do, so if there’s an issue that seems to crop up consistently every year, working on ways to permanently address it is always the smartest way to start your home DIY efforts. Otherwise, just doing routine checks and maintenance to make sure everything is as it should be will help you avoid bigger problems down the road.

Need some help with your home-related projects? If you do not feel comfortable climbing your roof or tackling other home-maintenance details, be sure to contact Sibcy Cline Home Services. They can recommend vetted, home-related services and 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.

 

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

Home-Maintenance Tips

Maintaining your home on a regular basis not only keeps it in its best shape, but will also make your home more desirable when it is time to sell. Here are some maintenance tips to follow:

Air Conditioning Repair

HVAC
Heating and cooling systems should be professionally maintained twice yearly. On a monthly basis, be sure to check the filter to see if it needs to be replaced.

Drains
Maintain a clear pathway in your drains with this monthly activity: Pour one tablespoon of salt down the drain, then slowly pour one quarter cup of white vinegar. Let this set for one hour and then flush with hot water. For more serious clogs use a drain snake to pull debris out. Be sure to flush thoroughly with water.

Garbage Disposal
Flush out the disposal on a monthly basis with hot water and baking soda. This will eliminate odors and avoid chances of clogs in the system. To clean the teeth of the grinding blades, drop in a half dozen ice cubes along with a couple of lemon wedges. Run cold water into the disposal for a minute until the wedges are ground up. The ice will clean the grooves of the blades and the lemon freshens the disposal.

SmokeDetector

Smoke Detectors
Replace smoke detector batteries twice a year.

Hot Water Heater
Flush the buildup in your hot water heater twice yearly.

washing machine

Clothes Dryer
Remove lint from the exhaust duct once a year.

Refrigerator
Once a year, vacuum the refrigerator coils underneath this appliance.

Fireplace Chimney
The chimney should be inspected and cleaned every year.

Need help with your home-maintenance needs? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services.

 

Seven Tips to Prevent Frozen Pipes in Your Home

Frozen Water Connection
It is getting cold outside so now is the time to make sure you take steps to prevent frozen pipes in your home. Pipes usually break when there is constant freezing and expansion which causes water pressure changes. Here are seven tips to follow to prevent frozen pipes in your home:

1–Water Supply
Turn off the water supply to external spigots and leave the outdoor spigot open during the winter. Ice forming in a closed spigot can cause interior pipes to freeze even if the interior space is heated. 

2–Keep Heat in Your Home
If you are planning on traveling for a few days, you can lower your heat, but be sure to keep sink cabinet doors open so pipes do not freeze. Keep the heat at 55 degrees F. or higher. Pay attention to unheated interior spaces (basements, attics, garages).

3–Wrap Exposed Pipes
If you have exposed pipes, wrap them with insulation.

4–Caulk and Seal
Caulk and seal any holes in exterior walls or foundations that are near water pipes. Check the outside wall where television, cable and telephone wires enter the home.

5–Close Your Garage Door
Keep garage doors closed if water supply lines are located there.

6–Winterize Your Home Professionally
If you are planning an extended vacation during colder months, be sure to have your home professionally winterized by a plumber. You will need to keep the heat on in your home. The temperature should be no lower than 55 degrees F.

7–Open Cabinet Doors
Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate near the plumbing.

See more about preventing frozen water pipes here.

Need help with getting your home winterized? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services and they can connect you to plumbers or other vendors who can professionally insulate your home.