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November 2020

new homeowners guide

New Homeowner’s Guide: 7 Tips to Lower Maintenance Costs

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Buying a house is one of the costliest endeavors in everyone’s life. If you plan on taking this major step, you have to be extra careful and considerate about it, especially when it comes to the financial aspects. If you have a strict budget and need to spend all your savings on your dream home, you’re probably well aware that the next few years will not be about careless expenses. 

white and red wooden house miniature on brown table

Of course, even if you’ll have a slimmer wallet after the purchase, it doesn’t mean that you have to say goodbye to spending your hard-earned monthly cash on the things you love. As a homeowner, there are specific ways you can save as much money as possible while also making your house a better investment and also minimizing every financial risk that might arise. 

What’s the secret that every homeowner needs to know? Well, it all boils down to how well you can manage your home’s maintenance. Every house or apartment requires some repair or constant upkeep. Considering your home’s age and condition, the annual maintenance cost is about 1% of your house or apartment’s value. So, if you’ve spent like $350,000 on it, it’s a good idea to put aside at least $3,500 just for upkeep. 

How to do that and how to lower the expenses when it comes to the maintenance part of it? Luckily for you, we’ve got all the answers you need, and we’re ready to share them with you, so stay tuned!

Be smart about buying and moving in

If you’re still at the consideration phase and haven’t picked out your home yet, meaning you are preparing your budget for the purchase, don’t forget that you can keep the maintenance expenses down with a few simple tricks.

It’s always a great idea to look for a relatively newly built home. A house that is only a few years old probably suffered less wear and tear. Before signing the papers and shaking hands, inspect the home thoroughly, looking for signs that might indicate potential problems and higher repair costs. 

You can save a few hundred dollars on moving, too.

How? The idea is to find a moving company that’s trustworthy, professional, and licensed and offers services that are reliable and not that expensive. Empire Movers can take the burden of moving off your shoulders while making sure your wallet remains pretty thick.

Be a handyman

If you have fundamental knowledge and skills for basic maintenance jobs, you can save a small fortune on an annual basis. Even if you’re not as experienced as a pro, you can still get the job done. Plus, there are dozens of articles, videos, and how-to guides on various upkeep tasks, so you can always learn more.

Plus, when you do the work yourself, you don’t have to wait for a contractor. Usually, the waiting time is a few days, but it can take even a week for a pro to visit your home and check for a solution during busy periods. However, there are specific maintenance tasks you probably shouldn’t do if you’re not a professional. Jobs that necessitate some skills or technical knowledge, such as electrical work, is best left for a real pro. 

When you can’t do everything yourself

As we’ve mentioned above, there are certain tasks you must leave to a professional. Even if you’ve become a DIY master in a short time, there will also be some maintenance jobs that require the eyes and hands of a skilled pro. To get the job done the right way, you need to hire a contractor or request a company’s services.

Before you decide on a contractor or a professional firm, do you research and get to know them. Recommendations and referrals are beneficial in these situations, as they are the best way to find trustworthy and experienced service providers. If they offer discounts or cut you a nice deal, that’s the icing on the cake. 

Prevention is key

With everything in life, preventing a small issue from becoming a major problem is a course you must take. It’s a great idea to conduct routine upkeep. Be sure to replace the furnace’s air filter at least once every three months. By doing this simple task, you can vastly increase the lifespan of your costly HVAC system. Plus, fixing cracks in your windows or doors or cleaning out the gutter every once in a while will reduce maintenance costs in the long run. 

Prepare for seasonal changes

As a homeowner, you have to adjust for every season. For example, winter has a totally different effect on your home than summer. This is especially true if you live in an area with stark differences between these two seasons, meaning winters are freezing, summers are way too hot. 

When your home faces different environmental effects every single year, such as heavy snow, too much freezing, or strong sunlight, you have to count on various types of damages. The alternating cycles of contraction and expansion will put your house to the test. To avoid big problems, conduct a thorough seasonal inspection and fix the things that need your attention. 

Know the problematic aspects of your home

It’s no secret that every house or apartment has its weak points, those areas that can become challenging offer the years, meaning you have to spend more money on fixing them. For instance, if you’ve moved into an older home, a shaky foundation might cause you a headache from time to time. Or the roof needs constant maintenance. Getting to know your home’s pain points as soon as you move in will help you become proactive and prepared, so you can handle the issue properly when the time and occasion arises. 

Cash reserve for maintenance

Yes, having an emergency fund is easier said than done when you’ve just dumped your entire savings on a new home. However, if you can, make sure you set some money aside just for upkeep. Considering the size, age, and value of your home, you should save at least a few hundred dollars. Of course, the more you manage to save, the easier time you will have with maintenance. 

Small Improvements and Tweaks for New Homeowners to Consider

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Major changes to the interior and exterior of a building are obvious to see as a new homeowner, but they are costly. However, there are smaller tweaks and improvements you can consider that are less apparent but can be just as pleasing once completed. Here are 4 worth considering.

Watering Can, Digging Fork, Gardening, Garden

Filter the Water Supply

If you have moved to a new area, the water supply may taste a little different from what you’re used to, especially if the water isn’t originating from the same water utility now.

It will become even more necessary to include either individual water filters (use ceramics to cut out the need for replacements) or a whole house filtration system for larger properties. This way, the water will taste more consistent with what you’ve previously become accustomed to. Also, there won’t be any concerns about contaminants in the water from old water pipes nearby either. 

Keeping It Simple

There are a ton of unopened boxes and all sorts of furniture to move around and organize after moving in. It’s perhaps only at this point that we realize how much stuff we have and how so much of it is unnecessary. Unless you are moving into an expansive home, it will likely fill up pretty fast. Once this is done, even the larger rooms will begin to feel restrictive and the smaller ones will now seem overly cozy. This can lead to a sense of disappointment, which is a shame. 

If you didn’t do so before relocating, it’s a great time to assess what you have and reduce it to something more manageable. This will create more open space in each room to avoid it ever feeling cramped. 

Landscape Gardening

If one look at the backyard doesn’t bring out a broad smile, then you will need to consider the options carefully. Even with smaller backyards, adding some carefully chosen landscape gardening will create points of distinction and a clear focus for visitors. It will also avoid a plain area from looking uninspiring. 

If there’s an existing patio, then it’s worth cleaning the patio tiles to remove any moss or discoloration that has built up over time. Also, if there isn’t a barbeque grill already present and it’s not currently in storage in the garage, then consider if one should take pride of place off to the side of the seating area. 

Swap Out the Lighting for LEDs

For older homes that still use outdated lighting fixtures and light bulbs that use considerable energy, it’s time to make the switch to LEDs. LED light bulbs use a fraction of the energy of traditional light bulbs. They also fail far less frequently and run many times as long. This means you’ll replace them less frequently and won’t need to stockpile a bunch of them either. 

Also, you may wish to install some dimmer switches to better control their illumination level because these bulbs are much brighter. Doing so makes it more pleasant in the evening when your eyes can do with a rest. 

While major changes are splashier and get the attention, small improvements are still worth attending to. Often, they’re the ones that provide greater comfort or convenience. 

How To Fix An Annoying Leaking Kitchen Tap?

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No one likes the sound of a dripping tap night after night as you try to go to sleep, not only does it wastewater, but it can drive you crazy the slow drip, drip, drip. Fixing your leaking tap may not be as difficult as you might think with a little bit of know-how. 

stainless steel faucet in tilt shift lens

Whether you are a seasoned professional DIY or you are new to maintenance and basic house updates, here are some handy tips for fixing a leaking tap in your kitchen. 

How to fix a leaking kitchen tap? 

Firstly, you will need to get an understanding of what you are working with, and whether you have a cartridge valve on your kitchen tap, or a ceramic disc, compression valve, or a ball-style faucet. No matter which one your tap is, you will be able to find a replacement at your local hardware store or your plumbing supplier. 

Once you have determined the type of tap you have, you will need a bunch of tools that are most likely around the home including a wrench, screwdriver, hammer, washers and seal replacements, pliers, valve replacement, and some silicone or grease. 

Step 1: Shut off the water at the wall

This is an important step if you don’t want to be covered in water when you start your kitchen tap DIY. You will find the tap usually under the kitchen sink, and you should turn this off first before taking off the tap handle otherwise you will get soaked. 

Step 2: Once the water is off, detach the kitchen tap handle 

Once you have ensured there is no water flowing, then you can start removing the screws on your kitchen tap handle. Sometimes the screws are underneath the logo in the center of the tap or they could be behind the tap itself, either way, you should be able to find these fairly easily and you will need to use your tools to detach the handle safely. 

Step 3: Remove the valve 

This part can be tricky and you might need to use a little force or a set of pliers – if the valve is stuck this could be due to mineral build-up and you might need to use some silicone or a little bit of elbow grease to get the valve open and off. At this stage, you can also remove any of the rubber components to be replaced. 

Step 4: Replace all the components 

Now you have everything in pieces, it is time to replace the rubber elements and also the valve and then work in reverse to put everything back together. You might need to add some silicone as well to ensure everything is lubricated and working well. 

Once you have completed all these steps, you should turn on the water again and test the kitchen tap is working well and everything is leak-free. If you do find that there is still an issue, you should call in an expert to get them to inspect the work. 

Always call on a licensed and experienced plumber to ensure everything is being carried out to the highest standard and your warranty is not affected for your taps and any plumbing in your house or property. 

3 Ways to (Instantly) Boost the Value of Your Home

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When you own your home, you’ll want to do everything you can to keep your property well-maintained. By doing so, you’ll protect your investment and hopefully prevent its value from declining. However, there are things you can do to increase the value of your property too. If you want to maximize the value of your home, take a look at these top tips now:

Real Estate, Home, House, Single Family Home

Extend the Property

When you extend a property, you gain extra square footage, which should automatically increase the value of your home. From a straightforward attic conversion to an extensive, two-story addition, there are numerous options available. Furthermore, extending a property can be cheaper than you think. By using the existing structure to draw up plans, experienced contractors can minimize the amount of work involved to help you keep costs down. 

Enhance Curb Appeal

How your property looks has a major impact on its resale. While real estate investors may not be too concerned with curb appeal, potential homeowners or tenants will be swayed by appearances. To ensure you’re making the most of your property, landscape gardens, pave driveways and paint the exterior of your home at regular intervals. 

It’s important to remember, however, that you are usually held responsible for any repairs which are needed following work that’s been carried out on your property. If heavy equipment or vehicles cause pavement damage while accessing your property, you may need to pay to have this repaired. Fortunately, this isn’t an unusual problem and one that can typically be fixed quickly, easily and cost-effectively. 

Redesign Your Kitchen and/or Bathroom

When it comes to selling a home, it’s the kitchen and bathroom that really make an impact on potential buyers. If you’re going to redecorate or redesign any part of your property prior to putting it up for sale, these are the two areas you’ll want to consider first. 

Although there are buyers who will consider purchasing a property that’s in need of repair, selling your home without completing any outstanding work can substantially reduce its value. By repairing water leaks or replacing damaged shower trays, for example, you can restore your home and ensure you get a fair price for your property. 

When to Reinvest in Your Home

If you’re thinking about selling your home in the near future, then you may want to make strategic changes now in order to enhance its value. However, even if you’re not planning to sell any time soon, it’s still worth keeping the value of your home in mind. When you decide what changes to make to your property, always consider the impact potential modifications will have on its value. 

There’s a good chance that your home is your most valuable asset, so you’ll want to do everything you can to ensure it retains its value in the future. By keeping it well-maintained, ensuring it’s aesthetically pleasing and making repairs when they’re needed, you’ll be well on the way to boosting the value of your home.