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Home Ownership

Tips For Avoiding Bad Home Contractors

tips for avoiding bad contractors

Tips For Avoiding Bad Home Contractors

When the home is a castle making sure that home is in tip top shape or looks great is essential for both keeping the occupants happy and for retaining the value of the home. Homes require routine maintenance and updating to keep everything in good working order.  Deferred maintenance can quickly turn a great home into something that is unlivable.  Using the wrong contractors can result in overpaying for a job or worse having the contractor create more problems than what were to be fixed  This article provides tips for homeowners to find the best contractors to keep their home in tip top shape.

Search More Than Traditional Sources For Information On Contractors

One tried and true source of information on contractors is reviews on various review and social media sites.  Facebook, Google, Yelp, Better Business Bureau and more have reviews for contractors.  Keep in mind though those reviews should not be the first and only stop when researching a contractor.  Positive reviews can also unfortunately be bought by contractors to make themselves look better when in fact they have a poor track record.  Reviews also can be left by family and friends who have only seen the contractor’s best quality work and may have not seen the other clients they left hanging by not completing the job they were hired to do.

Contractors may even offer referrals from past clients as a way to show that people are happy with the work they do.  While past client referrals can be helpful they also can be faked or the contractor can pick from the...

Advanced Security Tips For Protecting Your Home

advanced security tips for protecting your home

Advanced Tips For Securing Your Home and Personal Identity

A home is a person’s castle and protecting the home is a top priority.  Beyond just protecting the home physically homeowners should also look at protecting their home and themselves from digital thieves who don’t even need to enter a home to steal.  A lost credit card number or worse a social security number can lead to long term issues.  This articles provides some advanced tips for securing one’s home both against physical intruders and against those who want to steal your information.

Home Alarm

Having an alarm installed is one great way a homeowner can protect their home especially if the alarm is monitored.  A monitored alarm means if the alarm is triggered the monitoring company will first call the homeowner to check if everything is ok or if they are not able to reach the homeowner they will call the local police department.  The police will then come out to check on the home to see if there is an issue.  

Home alarms can also be unmonitored where the only warning they provide is in the home through the use of a siren and/or lights.  Monitored home alarms systems usually require a monthly fee for the monitoring service and with monitored service the homeowner may be eligible for homeowners insurance discounts.  There are many do it yourself (DIY) home alarm kits like Ring, Simplifi, and more where installation of the security devices and keypads are easily done...

Tips For Creating A Better Landscape

tips for creating a better landscape for your house

Tips For Creating A Better Landscape

A beautiful yard gives the homeowner more of an enjoyable and pleasing space to work or relax in. Whether one just wants to enjoy the outdoors for leisure purposes or one wants to get hands on involved in creating the look of their yard a great landscape makes a home look more appealing. Even more so if a home is soon to be put up for sale a great landscape helps draw the buyers in.  This article provides some tips on having a great looking landscape that is sure to have an impact.

Start With The Basics For A Great Landscape

The quality of the soil around your house will dictate the type of plants, grass and trees one can and cannot have.  The climate as well plays an important roll.  Certain fruit trees (like oranges) will work great in many areas of Florida. For an area like Cincinnati, Ohio though oranges will not survive the winter.

Cincinnati and many parts of Ohio and Northern Kentucky are known for having dense clay soils.  These dense clay soils can stop things from growing or flourishing if the proper prep work has not been done.  Some homeowners treat their soils with various additives in order to break up the clay and bring forward a more loose soil like structure.  One of the first places for Greater Cincinnati area homeowners to start is at their local extension, which provides soil testing. By getting ones soils tested they will know what nutrients are lacking and what should be added in order to boost the quality of it.

For those who...

How To Prevent Mosquitos from Over Taking Your Yard

How To Prevent Mosquitos from Over Taking Your Yard

How To Prevent Mosquito’s from Over Taking Your Yard

Not only are mosquitos quite an annoyance they are also considered one of the deadliest animals in the world due to the fact that they can spread diseases and viruses through their bites.  Whether one is enjoying a relaxing day on the deck, grilling for family and friends or just tending to the yard mosquitos can quickly make what is enjoyable miserable after the itching sets in from mosquito bites.  This article provides tips for homeowners to help reduce mosquito levels in and around the house so the time spent outdoors can be pleasant.

Facts About Mosquitos

Not all mosquitos bite humans, in fact it is only the pregnant females of mosquitos that bite humans or other animals for blood.  The blood is used by the mosquitos to help produce eggs, eggs that must be laid in stagnant water.  Without stagnant water mosquitos do not have a place to multiply.  While in the water mosquito larvae will feed on algae and other bacteria in the water.  It can take up to 40 days for mosquitos to transition to the adult flying variety that cause all the problems.

Drain Standing Water

Standing water is ground zero for mosquito breeding grounds.  Without standing water mosquitos have nowhere to lay their eggs. That water can come from sources such as the rain, water sprinklers, pools, gardens, planters and more.  Where ever water sits stagnant gives mosquitos the opportunity to multiply.  Water collects in buckets, used tires, garden tools, pool toys, kids toys and even some types of plants can collect water that provide mosquitos enough of an area to lay eggs.  The...

Common Home Problems And How To Deal With Them

Common Home Problems And How To Deal With Them

Common Home Problems And How To Deal With Them

When it comes to home ownership the home owners are the ones responsible to make repairs or call a professional to help out.  An unmaintained home can quickly lead to disaster as little things like plumbing leaks, leaking gutters, electrical problems can turn into major repairs requiring a lot of money to fix.  On the other hand fixing those minor issues can be a great cost savings to the owner and results in a home that works great and stands the test of time.  Check out some of the common home problems and how best to deal with them below.

Clogged Toilet

Nothing can be worse than a clogged toilet.  Especially if there is only one toilet in the house avoiding a clogged toilet is not possible.  Whether the clog is a result of children putting things in the toilet that don’t belong, old drain lines or something else, clearing a clogged toilet can be easy with the right tools.  A plunger and a toilet auger are must haves for any homeowner as their onetime cost alone should total no more than $50 dollars for a good set.  On the other hand a call to a plumber for clearing any toilet clog can be $75 or more per call and that sometimes is just the starting fee.  If a particular toilet is prone to clogging the cost of calling a plumber can add up over time.  To learn how to properly plunge or auger a toilet be sure to check out this article here which takes you through the steps of unclogging drains.

Clogged Sinks

Clogged sinks are another common issue that generally will happen...

Smart Devices To Help Save Energy And Money In The Home

smart devices to help save energy and money

Smart Devices To Help Save Energy And Money

All it takes is a smart phone, a smart device and an app to take your home into the future and turn it into a smart home.  Generally smart devices are devices that are connected to the internet and do more that the regular version of that device would do.  A smart security system can send you active reports of changes to the system, whether someone has entered the home or the whether smart camera detected the delivery person dropping off that package you have been expecting. Smart monitoring devices can check if no one is home and adjust temperature settings accordingly to help save energy.  Here are some areas of the home a homeowner can make their home smarter which can also help with the convenience factor and can help save money as well.

Whole House Smart Water Monitoring

Imagine if a device can monitor each and every faucet in the house to know how much water has been used from each?  Using that information that device can give tips and insights on how to save money and save water at the same time.  Imagine if that same device can also detect water leaks and also shut off the water completely in the event of a major pipe burst minimizing any potential water damage. Such a device does exist with, Moen FloStreamLabs, and Belkin’s Phyn smart water assistant.  These devices can monitor each and every water source in the house from the outdoor spigot, to toilets,...

4 Reasons Why You May Not Want To Own A House

reasons why you may not want to buy a home

4 Reasons Why You May Not Want To Own A House

While many strive towards the goal of owning a home, homeownership for others may be something that can hold them down unnecessarily.  Owning a home means committing to a long term mortgage (for many that means 15-30 years) and staying in the same living space for a while. It means being responsible for all the upkeep and ongoing maintenance for the home.  This article looks at the reasons why someone may instead prefer to rent an apartment or even a home so as not to be tied down to one place for too long.

High Transaction Costs

In order to purchase a home many need to borrow money via a mortgage loan.  Mortgages typically run 15 to 30 years and depending on the interest rate the amount of interest paid over the time of owning the home can sometimes be more than the actual price paid for the home.  While a mortgage interest rate deduction can help with that that still means homeowners are paying extra money for the privilege of living in a home they “own”.  Additionally prior to buying the home there are transaction costs that come with purchasing the home and taking out a mortgage.  Those costs include mortgage loan points, mortgage loan closing costs, real estate commissions, title insurance, title transfer fees, taxes and more. Depending on the price of the home, the total for those upfront costs can be in the thousands of dollars and more. Since home values don’t rise up very quickly (some years home values can go down) it may take a number of years for the home value to rise up enough to make up for those...

The Essential Skills Needed To Survive Homeownership

The Essential Skills Needed To Survive Homeownership

The Essential Skills Needed To Survive Homeownership

Owning a home is quite a bit different than renting a place where if something goes wrong a quick call to the property manager results in maintenance coming by and fixing a problem. Yes as a homeowner you can call a plumber to fix a toilet that won’t flush or can call a handyman (or woman) to come fix a squeaky door but eventually all of those calls will quickly add up in costs.  Those dollars spent on calling someone to fix a problem could be put to better use by the homeowner spending on other things they need or by simply adding it to a rainy day fund so when something major does go wrong and a professional contractor can be called in to make repairs.  This article explores some of the essential skills homeowners should have in order to make sure their home is running in tip top condition.

Basic Plumbing Skills

Whether you have a slow drain or your toilet clogs up knowing which type of drain cleaner to use or having handy a toilet plunger or toilet auger (sometimes referred to as a drain snake) can save you hundreds if not thousands over the life of owning that home.  Routine calls to a plumber will run a minimum of $80 dollars and up depending on your location.  Drain cleaning solutions run no more than 10-20 dollars a bottle and often provide multiple uses with one bottle.  A toilet plunger should run no more than 5-10 dollars and a toilet auger should cost no more than 20-30 dollars and get multiple if not unlimited uses based on the quality of the product. 

With a slow drain a gel based...

Tips For Hiring The Best Contractor For Your Home

tips for picking the right contractor for your home

Tips For Hiring The Best Contractor For Your Home

When it comes to home improvement or home repair hiring the right contractor can mean the difference between getting a quality final product or possibly losing money and having to find someone else to complete the work.  Some unsavory contractors are more than ready to collect money upfront and promise to complete the job only to never show up again.  Other contractors may stick around to do the work but after everything is completed the quality of their workmanship is revealed to be not that great.  So how are homeowners able to find the best contractors who will do a good job and won’t take the money and run?  This article explores the topic in detail.

Determine Your Actual Needs First

Determining your actual needs first can help you narrow down the type of contractor you need to get in touch with.  Does your home need plumbing work like installing a new toilet or are you looking for new lighting to be installed in your kitchen?  Sometimes the work one contractor does will also require another contractor to fix up.  For instance many electricians will need cut into drywall in order to run wires, switches and fixtures.  Once done most electricians are not able to make the drywall repairs nor offer painting services so that will require a call to one or more additional contractors. Similar would happen in the case of a plumber who had to cut into drywall in order to access the pipes behind the wall, they may not have the skill set nor desire to get into...

Tips For Dealing With A Notice Of Sale And Foreclosure

tips for dealing with a not of sale and foreclosure

What Is A Notice Of Sale?

Homeowners who fall too far behind in their mortgage payment may find a Notice Of Sale or Notice Of Sheriff’s Sale mailed to them or posted on their front door.  Often times the mortgage companies will attempt to contact the borrower and make arrangements for the mortgage to be paid back with some different terms that make it easier for the borrower to pay.  On the other hand some lenders due to lack of ability or resources do not do or say much of anything until the late payments are sufficient enough to file for foreclosure which results in the Notice of Sale of Notice of Sheriffs Sale.  Even when such notices are delivered to a homeowner there still may be a few options homeowners can consider in order to prevent their home from being sold out from underneath them.

What Is A Foreclosure?

Foreclosure is a step lenders take to obtain possession (title/ownership) to a house so they can sell the home and attempt to recover money owed to them under a mortgage.  Foreclosures happen generally only after the homeowner has stopped paying on their mortgage and has not attempted to work out something with the lender.  As the foreclosure process is expensive for both the lender and the homeowner it is better for the homeowner to try and sell the home well before the foreclosure process has started.  With easy credit and easy money for buying a home sometimes homeowners get in over their head and end up in a house poor situation.  Especially where some major repairs have been deferred and the homeowner cannot...

Why Homeowners Should Get Permits When Doing A Home Remodel or Addition

why homeowners should get a building permit for a remodel

Why Homeowners Should Get Permits When Doing A Home Remodel or Addition

Many homeowners as well as homebuyers may not know the about the requirements for obtaining permits when improving their home.  Whether the homeowner is moving internal walls or adding on an addition to a home many local governments require the homeowner and their contractor to obtain the proper permits prior to having the work done and require periodic inspections as the work is completed.  Some contractors and homeowners may be tempted to do certain work without permits in order to save money and time.  Failure to get the proper permits could result in the homeowner requiring to undo certain work or face steep fines and inspections in order to verify the completed work.  This article explores the permit process and explains the importance of it to homeowners, buyers and more.

Why Do You Need A building or construction Permit?

Most local governments have some sort of building department who is responsible for issuing permits for new construction as well as re-modeling and home addition construction. The building departments monitor construction and home re-modeling in order to make sure homes and other buildings comply with existing zoning laws and meet the required safety standards.  For instance adding a second kitchen to a home could be in violation of zoning laws where the reason for the additional kitchen is to turn a single family home into a two family home and where the home as currently situated is zoned for only single family residences.  As a result a permit request to add a second kitchen so a home...

How To Turn Your Home Into A Smart Home

how to turn your home into a smart home

How To Turn Your Home Into A Smart Home

With all the talk about smart homes and how they can save money and time for homeowners many may be wondering how they can turn their homes into a smart home.  A smart home is not necessarily any one thing that needs to be added and suddenly your home is now considered smart.  A lot of the controls from smart homes do start with a smart phone or a tablet and a Wi-Fi Internet connection.  As almost everyone these days has a smart phone they can be well on their way towards a smart home with some additional equipment.  (Note: Per disclosure requirements, some of the links in this article do pay us a commission if you buy something after clicking on the link.)

Basic Smart Home Features To Consider

The smart home features discussed in this section can be used anywhere around the house that you want to use them.  Features like a smart video camera that can be used to monitor your pets, your children, the security of your home and more.  These smart video cameras like the Nest Camera, the Yi Camera and more can monitor any room in your home and send video images to your phone anywhere in the world.  These smart cameras require an internet and power connection to operate.  Some of the cameras are fixed but have a wide angle view that can see quite a bit, whereas other smart internet connected cameras offer the ability to pan and scan around the room to see different things.  Not only can these cameras show a live image of what is happening in your home some can also record video either to your phone or on...

Homeownership Facts To Be Aware Of

homeownership facts to be aware of

Homeownership Facts To Be Aware Of

There is much more to owning a home than just making a mortgage payment.  If homeownership just required the payment of a mortgage payment and nothing else then many more individuals would opt to buy a home.  Those who do own a home should be aware of all the aspects that are involved with homeownership especially since neglecting some of these areas can result in loss of one’s investment in the home.  This article explores a few important areas where homeowners should keep up to date with in order to protect their investment.

Updating A Home

A home will requires updates throughout the time a homeowner is living in it.  Some updates may be cosmetic like fresh paint, updating landscaping, adding new window treatments.  Other updates may be required out of necessity such as replacing outdated HVAC systems that no longer function or function with very poor efficiency.  Replacing the roof on a home also would be required in order to maintain the habitability of a home.  If a roof can’t do its job of protecting a home from the elements the rest of the home will quickly degrade as the weather does its damage.  Other updates like remodeling a home to change the floor plan to something more modern or to remodel a kitchen to change its look and style also are done by some homeowners.

Where updates like replacing an old worn roof, replacing inoperable HVAC systems or water heaters are required in order to keep a home livable other updates like a kitchen update, window treatments, or more are not required as they don’t effect the livability of a home.  Those non-required updates though may be needed in order to maintain the value of a home.  As time goes...

Should I Buy A Geothermal Heat Pump For My Home?

should I buyer a geothermal heating and cooling system for my home

Should I Buy A Geothermal Heating & Cooling System For My Home?

Geothermal Heating & Cooling Systems or geothermal heat pumps are heating and cooling systems for your home that utilize the stable temperature found below the surface of the earth.  Below the surface of the earth temperatures remain relatively stable as compared to the surrounding air temperature.  Depending on the location the temperature below the ground stays at a consistent 50 – 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

How Do Geothermal Systems Work?

Geothermal systems use pumps to cycle water into pipes that have been buried in a home’s yard.  During the warmer months the temperature below the surface of the earth is cooler that the surrounding air thus allowing the cooler temperatures to pumped in to cool a home and in the colder months the temperature below the surface is warmer than the surrounding air allowing warmth to be pumped in to heat homes.  Depending on the air temperature during the colder seasons and the overall efficiency of the home, back up heat sources such as natural gas or electric heat may be needed to supplement a geothermal system.

Geothermal systems allow for savings on energy bills since the natural temperature variations between heat pump diagram the surface below and the outdoor air can be efficiently utilized for heating or cooling purposes depending on the season.  There currently are tax credits and power company rebates offered for geothermal heat pumps that may be available to homeowners who install a geothermal system.  Consult your local tax professional to find out...

Should I Install Solar Panels On My House?

should I install solar panels on my house?

Should I Install Solar Panels On My House?

With energy prices and energy consumption trending higher many homeowners think about the idea of installing solar panels on the roof of their home in order to save money on energy bills and possibly boost the value.  Like real estate solar is also location dependent and those homeowners in states with higher average annual sunshine will see a quicker return on investment than those with lower average sunshine or in areas where the sun may be blocked by trees or other geographical features.  The type of solar energy system installed can also dictate whether a homeowner will realize a boost in home value in addition to the savings on the energy bill.

Types Of Solar Systems

While there are water solar heating systems available for sale, when homeowners think about solar panels on a home they think about the kind that can generate electricity.  Whereas solar electric generation systems can heat/cool a home, allow the use of appliances, and even warm water through an electrical water heater a solar water heater generally does only one thing and that is heat water.  Multiuse solar electrical generation systems as a result are more preferred in order to maximize the use of the solar generated electricity.

The two different types of solar electrical generation systems available are grid tied and off grid systems.  With a grid tied system there is still electricity being provided by the local power company for backup purposes.  During cloudy days or on days where demand in the home exceeds the capacity of the solar panels then electricity...

Winterization Tips For Your Home

winterization tips for your home

Winterization Tips For Your Home

Your home is a long term investment and in order to protect the investment you must make sure your home is ready for all the different seasons.  The winter season can be harsh on your home since the freeze thaw cycle is especially tough on the house structure and components.  By following the below tips and properly winterizing your home you can help protect your investment in your home and ensure it will last you for a long time.

Check Windows and Doors

Windows and doors are one of the biggest sources of entry for cold air during the winter time.  Not only should you be checking for gaps in and around windows and doors to save energy you should be looking at the exterior components as well.  Any rotted wood or damaged components for windows and doors should be replaced immediately to prevent water from entering into the home where it can cause further damage through freezing or through causing mold.  If the weather prevents you from repairing the windows and doorways then at least try to cover up and seal as best as possible those areas to prevent water and ice from creeping in.  You will have to monitor those areas on a regular basis until a full repair can be done.

The caulking in and around windows and doors can wear out over time due to weather or insect causes.  Caulk seals up gaps that could normally allow water to seep into a home.  If that water freezes the chance of greater damage happing increases.  Many caulks need to be applied in temperatures above 40 degrees otherwise they do not set or cure properly.  If you need to refill gaps with caulk during the cold...

Fall And Winter Energy Saving Tips

fall & winter energy savings tips

Fall And Winter Energy Saving Tips

As the seasons start to change from the warmer months of summer to the cooler months of Fall and Winter you may notice that your energy bill after dipping for a brief month or two is now increasing again.  While some of the increase is due to the fact that it is colder and therefore your heater is now being cycled on every time the thermostat gets below a certain temperature, some of the increase in your heating bill can be as a result of inefficiencies in your heating system and in inefficiencies with your house.  By addressing the sources of the inefficiencies in your home and heating system, you can ensure your home stays warmer and save some money at the same time from a lower energy bill.

Central Heating System

The furnace used to heat your home is a large consumer of energy.  If you have an old, worn down, poorly maintained furnace then on cold days it will have a hard time putting out enough heat to warm your home.  Proper maintenance including regular service calls/tune-ups and regular filter changes can help your furnace run more efficiently which results in saving on your energy bill since the furnace does not have  to work as hard.

If you are able to, upgrading to a new furnace can result in great cost savings on your energy bill.  picture of a home in winterNew furnace systems whether they be hybrid electric and gas, all gas, hybrid heat pump or some other system are designed to produce the most amount of heat with the least amount of energy as possible.  While the cost to install a new furnace is not cheap if your...

How A Home Security System Can Protect Your Home

how a home security system can protect your home with picture of a burglar

Home Security Systems Help Keep The Bad Guys Out

Installing a home security system to protect your loved one and belongings is a smart step to take. With the many different home security options available researching the best home security system can be a daunting task. By understanding the types of home security systems out there and how they can protect your family and belongings you can be sure to get the right system for your needs.

The Basics of a Home Security System

On a basic level most home security systems provide a way of either notifying the local authorities or notifying the homeowner in the event that someone were to break into your house. These home security systems can monitor the opening and closing of entry doors, windows, and garage doors. When the system is armed anyone illegally attempting to get into the house should result in notification to the police and/or the homeowner.

Some home security systems also include window breakage sensors to detect if someone has broken a window while trying to enter. Oftentimes home security systems also include motion sensors in the interior of the home to detect intruders that other sensors may have missed or to catch the thief who managed to bypass the door and window sensors. Some advanced home security systems can include noise sensors that detect sounds of breaking glass or intruders making noise in the home. You may also find temperature sensors that can detect a change in temperature from someone being in the house when normally no one should be home.

Home security providers also provide fire detection, water detection and medical alerts as add-ons to their systems. With a fire detection...

Home Improvements That Can Suck The Value Out Of Your Home

picture of man holding money and question mark with text home improvements that can suck the value out of your home

Money Losing Home Improvements

Making the right home improvements to your home can not only increase the value of your home they increase the desirability by homebuyers and that can mean a quicker sale. On the other hand there are home improvements that when done can actually take away from the value of your home since those improvements are seen not as improvements in the buyers mind but something that will cost them extra money to undo. By avoiding these home improvements you ensure your home retains its value and is ready to sell when the time comes.

Adding A Pool

While this is somewhat more dependent on the state you live in, here in the Ohio and Kentucky real estate market adding a pool (whether in ground or above ground) to your home can result in a reduction in value of your home. In the Greater Cincinnati real estate market pools may be a nice feature to have in higher end luxury homes and may add value to those luxury homes but in anything other than luxury homes pools are something that will decrease the value of your home. The reasons pools decrease the value of your home is due to the fact that there are increased costs associated with pools.

When buyers are faced with increased costs for maintenance, heating and insurance costs associated just with the pool only a few buyers are ready to make the jump to buy the pool home. Additionally due to the four full seasons we experience in the Cincinnati area people with pools are not able to enjoy them for long since the cooler weather usually means colder water or increased energy bills to heat the pool. Insurance costs on homes with pools are also much higher due to the risk of injury...

How To Appeal Your Property Tax Valuation

how to appeal your property tax valuation picture of house on top of money

How To Appeal Your Property Tax Valuation

Property taxes are one of those things that often homeowners forget about since they are being paid out of escrow and but for an occasional notice of adjustment to the escrow payment amount most don’t know what their actual property tax bill is. The property tax bill is sent directly to the escrow company and nor do homeowners bother to check their local tax authority to see what they are being charged for property taxes. By being aware of your property tax valuation and how much you are paying each year in taxes you can be better prepared to dispute the property tax valuation if it is higher than what it should be.

Ways Your Property Tax Valuation May Be Wrong

Incorrect Information About Your Home

The first thing you should check with regards to your property tax valuation is the facts listed about your house at your local county tax board’s website. For instance how many square feet is your home listed as having, how many bathrooms and bedrooms does your home have according to the county information. If there is a mismatch in the information where your home on the county website is listed as a 4 bedroom 3 bathroom home and you only have 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms that is a definite error that will raise the value of your home and as a result also increase the amount of taxes you have to pay.picture of house on papers

If the county’s information regarding square footage is higher than what you actually have then that should be brought to the county’s...

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