4 Home Improvement Shortcuts That Can Lead to Disaster — and How to Avoid Them

4 Home Improvement Shortcuts That Can Lead to Disaster -- and How to Avoid ThemAre you starting to get the renovation itch? With spring on the way, you might be tempted to launch those home improvement projects that you contemplated over the winter. However, as with any project, you will want to get things right. Let’s take a look at four renovation shortcuts that can lead to disaster and the steps you can take to avoid them.

Shortcut #1: Not Understanding Your Home’s Structure

Before you undertake any renovation involving your home’s structure, you must be confident that you know exactly what is where. For example, do you know what is inside of your walls? You might be surprised to learn what is hiding behind those pieces of painted drywall. Electrical wiring, plumbing, structural supports, insulation and possibly even soundproofing material can all be damaged by misplaced nails or cuts. You might also discover damage caused by pests, mold or water which needs to be repaired.

Shortcut #2: Not Measuring Everything (At Least) Twice

You have likely heard this tired cliché: “measure twice, cut once.” However, what you may not realize is that was intended for professionals. If you are new to renovating, you will want to measure at least twice, if not three times or more. A small measuring mistake of one-half-inch can mean the difference between your new cabinets fitting and not fitting. Or your tiles lining up with one another or not.

Shortcut #3: Not Using Quality Tools And Materials

Another shortcut that homeowners try to take when starting do-it-yourself home projects is using cheaper materials or whatever tools they have handy. Keep in mind that you are investing in your home and that you are saving money by not paying for the labor. Use those savings on top-quality materials that will withstand the test of time.

Shortcut #4: Not Calling A Professional After You Mess Up

Finally, one shortcut that must be avoided at all costs is not calling a professional if you have made a significant mistake. If you end up drilling into the wrong wire, or you damage something else beyond your repair skills, don’t try to patch it up. Swallow your pride and make the call. You will be able to sleep soundly knowing that whatever was damaged isn’t at risk of failing later.

Renovating your home is the best way to increase its value, but even the smallest mistake can blow up into a major problem in the future. To learn more about your home’s value, contact us today. 

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Spring Is Coming: Get a Jump on Spring Cleaning and Breathe New Life into Your Tired Spaces

Spring Is Coming: Get a Jump on Spring Cleaning and Breathe New Life into Your Tired SpacesSpring is almost here – and with it, the need to clean out the clutter and freshen up your home. Let’s explore a few tips that will help you to get a jump on your spring cleaning so that you can get outside and enjoy the nice weather later.

Need It? No? It’s Got To Go!

Do you consider yourself a bit of a ‘hoarder’? Is there furniture, appliances and other items in your home that have been collecting dust since the ’90s? If so, it is time to minimalize your lifestyle. A great rule of thumb is the one in bold above – if you don’t need it, it’s time to get rid of it. Consider listing anything you don’t need up for sale on a local resale marketplace as you may find an interested buyer willing to give your old stuff a new home. Once you have the clutter kicked out, the actual cleaning can begin.

Your Garage Is Not A Storage Locker

If your garage is so full of miscellaneous junk that you can barely get your car door open, it’s time for a thorough cleaning. Again, the first mission is to get all of the stuff you don’t need either thrown out or otherwise disposed of.

Letting go of your old possessions can be tough, but you will be amazed at how much space you have once it’s all gone. And that space can be put to better use – once it’s cleaned.

Consider Hiring Help For The Deep Clean

Finally, don’t be afraid to enlist professional help if you are feeling overwhelmed. Having a couple of cleaners come into your home for a few hours is a cost-effective way to speed up the spring cleaning process. Note that it’s best to have cleaners join you after the clutter has been removed, so they aren’t wasting their time trying to move old furniture and other items you are going to dispose of anyway.

Unless you absolutely love washing walls and cleaning out closets, spring cleaning is rarely fun. However, it is necessary to ensure that your home stays in tip-top condition. If you have decided that you are in need of more space, or are looking to downsize your home, contact us today. Our friendly team of mortgage professionals are happy to show you some financing options that will perfectly suit your needs.

Going Solar: 3 Reasons Why Solar Panels Should Be Your 2018 Home Improvement Project

Going Solar: 3 Reasons Why Solar Panels Should Be Your 2018 Home Improvement ProjectHave you been scratching your head, wondering what your next great home renovation project should be? If you are like most homeowners, you have many areas that could use a little attention. Let’s explore three reasons why installing solar panels should be high on your list of home improvement projects for 2018.

The ROI On Solar Is Getting Better

It might seem counterintuitive to think about spending money to save money, but with solar panels, that’s precisely what you are doing. Solar is an up-front investment that returns money to your bank account over time. As you are generating your own electricity, you will spend less on utilities each month. Depending on your setup, you may even be able to sell surplus electricity back to the grid, lowering your monthly bills even further.

Don’t think about solar panels and installation as sunk costs that will never be recovered. Instead, work with your solar installer to determine what your return-on-investment should be.

Solar Drives Property Values Higher

As you might expect, installing solar panels can also increase the value of your home. Many potential home buyers are searching for modern, efficient, climate-friendly homes that allow for a bit of energy independence. If your home already has these features, it is likely to be more compelling than other houses on the street without them. If you are thinking of selling your home in the future, installing solar is a great way to increase its value.

Protecting Your Local Environment And Community

Finally, let’s not forget that investing in renewable energy means protecting the health of your local community. Every solar panel installation that goes up means one less home relying on power produced by other means. It might not seem like much, but over time a single home’s worth of solar panels can prevent a significant amount of emissions from reaching the sky. You can even take things one step further and invest in an electric car which can be connected to and charged by your solar panels.

These are a few of the many good reasons to consider an investment in solar panels in 2018. If you are interested in going solar, but can’t with your current home, contact us today. Our friendly team of mortgage professionals are happy to share some financing options for home listings that are ready for solar.

Take Your Bathroom From ‘Drab’ to ‘Fab’ With These Do-it-Yourself Bathroom Renovations

Take Your Bathroom From 'Drab' to 'Fab' With These Do-it-Yourself Bathroom RenovationsDoes your bathroom look amazing? As one of the most used rooms in every home, the bathroom can almost always use a bit of a facelift. In today’s blog post we will share a few DIY renovations that will take your bathroom from drab to fab.

Embrace A New Color Palette

One of the best ways to start your bathroom makeover is to figure out a new color palette for the room. Do you like soft, muted colors like a powder blue, light gold or cream? Or maybe something a bit louder and more exciting like a merlot red or deep purple? Whatever your taste, a splash of color might be just what your bathroom needs.

Start with a fresh coat of paint on the bathroom walls and work outwards from there. If you have windows, consider how you want the trim to contrast with the walls. Baseboards or molding can also offer contrasting effects, helping them to stand out more.

And of course, don’t forget to take care of the smaller bathroom accessories. Your shower curtain, hand towels, and even your toothbrush cup can all be matched.

Take Your Fixtures To The Next Level

Once you have decided on colors, it is time to turn your attention to the fixtures around your bathroom. The towel racks, hooks, faucets, shower head and toilet paper holder should all match in some way. If you do not have a lot of cabinet space, investing in a mirror that includes storage might be the perfect solution. If you have items like a scale or plunger in plain sight, think on some creative ways to hide them.

Brighten Things Up With Better Lighting

While you do not need ‘selfie quality’ professional lighting in your bathroom, it might be time for a brighter, more efficient light fixture. Aim for a design that complements the rest of the accents in your bathroom while being large enough to cast a bright light. You can also spend a bit of time choosing the correct color temperature for your bathroom light bulbs. LED lighting can offer some bold whites, but be careful that you don’t go overboard.

Renovating your bathroom is a fun way to spend a weekend or two improving your home. If you are thinking about buying a new home, contact us. Our professional mortgage team is happy to help you find the perfect financing option.

‘Pine’-ing for a New Look? 3 Ways You Can Use Wood Features to ‘Spruce’ up Your Home

'Pine'-ing for a New Look? 3 Ways You Can Use Wood Features to 'Spruce' up Your HomeWhether you are renovating an older home or putting the finishing touches on a new one, you would be amiss if you did not consider how to include furniture and other items made of wood. With a diverse range of colors and textures, wooden features are a must-have for any modern home design. Let’s take a look at three ways that you can use wood to add a little spice to your home decor.

Try A Visually Striking Wood Wall

If you are looking to add some ‘pop’ to a room, consider an offset or patterned wall made of wood. Your options are limitless when it comes to adding wood to a wall. Consider horizontal slats with a lighter wood like pine for a warm, modern feel. Alternatively, try a flat wall made of hardwood boards of a darker color than the room’s paint.

Go Rustic With A Farmhouse Dining Table

Does your dining room feel a little boring with your standard table and chairs? A rustic farmhouse dining table is an excellent way to breathe some life into your dining area. In addition, hardwood tables like these are sturdy and can suffer a lot of punishment. They are the perfect choice for families that are used to hosting large dinners or having company over.

If you are so inclined, you can build a table like this in just a few hours. Search around online for plans and head down to your local hardware store to get things started.

Reclaim And Refinish For Timeless Beauty

Finally, give some thought as to how you can use reclaimed wood in your home. Consider replacing tile or linoleum with a some “rip and refinish” hardwood flooring reclaimed from another house. Or if you would rather have wooden furniture, you can get chairs or side tables that are made of reclaimed wood. If you are located near the coast or beach, look around for large pieces of driftwood that can be turned into furniture by a local tradesman. While we cannot help you choose your wooden furnishings, we can help you find the best mortgage for your new home to put them in.

Let’s Talk Closets: Why a Walk-in Closet Is a Must Have for Any New Home Buyer

Let's Talk Closets: Why a Walk-in Closet Is a Must Have for Any New Home BuyerAre you in the market for a new house or condo? Whether you’re looking for something luxurious or intimate, you’ll want to ensure that you have enough space for all of life’s necessities. Many home buyers focus on bedrooms, bathrooms and living areas as their top priorities. But have you given any thought to your closet space?

In today’s blog post we’ll explore why a spacious walk-in closet should be high on your list of “must-haves” for your new home.

Enough Storage For A Stylish Couple

An upgrade in storage space is the main reason to have a large walk-in closet – and for good reason. Today’s working professional needs a large wardrobe to store suits, work outfits, social attire, shoes, accessories and more. It’s almost impossible to cram everything needed in a small closet with one large hanging rack and a shelf or two. And even if you do decide to fill a smaller closet until it’s bursting at the seams, you’re stuck with having to try to organize it regularly just to be able to find anything. Forget it!

A Showcase For Clothes, Shoes And Accessories

A walk-in closet isn’t just for piling a ton of clothes into. It’s a showcase for your wardrobe and all of the items in it. Most walk-in closets are designed with numerous shelves, racks and other display areas. Take advantage of these to show off the best pieces in your collection. For example, are you particularly proud of that oxblood leather bag that you found while traveling Europe? Or the hat that you wore to last year’s Kentucky Derby? Your walk-in closet is the right place to show it off.

Room For Elegant Touches Like A Dressing Island

Finally, if you have enough space in your walk-in closet, you’ll be able to add some elegant touches. A dressing island with built-in shelves is the perfect feature for storing accessories and shoes. You can also add matching jewelry boxes on top to store frequently-used items. An ottoman is another elegant touch that can help make your walk-in closet feel more roomy and comfortable. And don’t forget to include a couple of mirrors for checking your look from multiple angles before you leave the house.

These are just a few of the (many!) reasons why a walk-in closet is an absolute must-have for any new home. When you’re ready to explore financing opportunities for your new home, contact us. Our professional team is happy to assist you.

Learning to Love Technology: 3 Tips That Will Help You to Embrace Home Automation

Learning to Love Technology: 3 Tips That Will Help You to Embrace Home AutomationAre you still using a key to unlock your door and twisting a dial on the wall to set the temperature? Home automation technology has made considerable strides in the past couple of years so it might be time to invest. In today’s blog post we will explore three tips that can help those looking to make the leap into a fully automated home.

Tip #1: Start With Home Security And Go From There

Installing a modern home security system is the perfect place to start with home automation. Does your home already have an alarm? If so, it’s likely to be one of the older “set it and forget it” models. You punch in a four-digit code when you leave the house to arm the alarm, and if someone decides to break in while you’re gone the alarm trips and notifies the security company. Sound familiar?

The good news is that there are far better and more high-tech options on the market today. You can install cameras that connect directly to your phone, so you can see what’s happening inside of your house. You can automate turning the lights on or off, as well as deciding what panic options you need in case a burglar shows up.

Tip #2: Consider Using A Central Hub

If you’re not as technologically-inclined as some, then you may want to consider using a central hub to help control all of the other automated pieces in your home. Amazon’s Alexa is a popular option, as are Mi Casa Verde and SmartThings. The idea is that you can use one single device to control everything else, rather than trying to figure out a myriad of apps and settings.

Don’t forget that once you lock into using a central hub, you will need to make sure that any new pieces of tech you invest in are supported.

Tip #3: If It’s Easy To Use, You’ll Use It Regularly

Finally, be sure to test things out before you decide to buy. If a piece of home automation tech is hard to use, you’re unlikely to stick with it over the long term. Ideally, setting up and using the device should be no harder than using your mobile phone.

Getting started with home automation is as simple as following the three tips above. When you’re ready to explore purchasing high-tech, automated homes in the local area, contact us. Our professional mortgage team is happy to help you.

It’s Hammer Time: 4 Common Remodeling Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

It's Hammer Time: 4 Common Remodeling Mistakes and How to Avoid ThemInvesting in your home by remodeling or renovating is an excellent way to increase its value. However, a significant renovation project can quickly turn into a disaster, especially for those who are inexperienced. Let’s take a look at four of the more common home renovation mistakes that homeowners make and how you can avoid them.

Mistake #1: Skipping The Permit Process

The first mistake you will want to avoid is undertaking any home renovation without the required permits. While some remodeling projects will not require a permit, others will. Regardless, it is more than worth taking the time to do your research to ensure you do not run afoul of the law. A visit to the city’s website or a quick phone call is all you will need to find out if a permit is required and how much it will cost.

Mistake #2: Being Afraid

A great way to ruin your renovation is to be too afraid to transform the space into whatever best suits your family. Try to avoid being trendy and going with renos that you saw recently on television. Instead, consider how you currently use your kitchen, bathroom or whatever other space you’re changing and improve it for the better.

Mistake #3: Using Cheap Materials Or Labor

When it comes to contractors, going cheap is rarely a good idea. You want someone who is going to do the best quality of work at a fair, affordable price. Moreover, since you’re investing in that contractor, it is best to also invest in using high-quality materials for the job.

Also, don’t be the type that skimps on costs just because something isn’t visible. A good example is if your contractor recommends that you install something like a bathroom membrane system. Yes, it’s an extra cost that is mostly a preventive measure against mold getting under your tiles. However, it is a small consideration in protecting the more substantial investment you’re making in upgrading your home.

Mistake #4: Changing Your Mind

As the old saying goes: “measure twice, cut once.” Changing your mind in the middle of your renovation is almost certainly going to cost you. Once you commit, try to stick to the plan unless circumstances force you to make a change. These are just four of the many mistakes that can be made by an inexperienced home renovator.

Brighten up Your House With These Autumn-inspired Home Decor Ideas

Brighten up Your House With These Autumn-inspired Home Décor IdeasThe kids are heading back to school, the leaves are starting to turn and the weather is getting cooler. Yes, autumn has arrived, but the end of summer does not mean that your home décor has to suffer. Let’s take a look at a few ways that you can brighten up your home and give it that warm, autumn feeling.

Start With Oranges, Yellows And Light Browns

A quick walk through your local neighborhood will offer a good sense of the color palette that you should be using in your décor makeover. In much of the country, trees will be turning a variety of yellows, oranges, and golds as the leaves change and begin to fall. These colors make for a warm palette and are ideal for use in the living room, dining room and other areas where you might host guests.

Of course, you do not need to run out and change the wallpaper. Simply look to add color touches in areas that it makes sense. For example, you can get a couple of new sets of towels for the bathroom that match up with the colors you picked. In the dining room, look to replace your tablecloth and placemats with an autumn theme.

Add Leaves And Natural Décor Items

Autumn is one of the more “natural” feeling seasons and this should be incorporated into your décor. Look to add leaves, acorns, pine cones and other natural elements that make sense for the area of the country that you live in.

Note that you don’t need to head out and gather up these items for your home. A quick trip to the local craft shop and you will be able to find everything that you need.

Pumpkin Spice Candles For An Autumn Scent

Finally, no décor makeover is complete without adding a little seasonal fragrance. Nothing smells more like autumn than a subtle pumpkin spice. Scented candles are an excellent way to add a scent to a room without being overpowering. They are also an excellent centerpiece for tables and can be used for mood lighting as well.

These are just a few of the many ways that you can add a sense of autumn warmth to your home. And if your home just isn’t “autumn” enough, contact your trusted mortgage professional. We are happy to share some fantastic opportunities.

Baby on the Way? Learn How to Child-proof Your Home so Your Baby Is Safe From Harm

Baby on the Way? Learn How to Child-proof Your Home so Your Baby Is Safe From HarmDo you have a baby on the way? If so, you are likely already wondering how you are supposed to make your home safe from harm. The good news is that with a little work, you’ll be able to make your house or apartment that much safer. Let’s take a look at how you can child-proof your home in under a few hours.

Start With The Baby’s Bedroom 

For the first few months, your baby will be spending a lot of time either sleeping or resting in their crib. You’ll want to keep the crib away from any cords, blinds, drapes or other items the baby might get their hands on. The crib itself should meet federal safety regulations and should be comfortable without being too restrictive.

Keep a watchful eye out for anything loose that the baby might be able to put in its mouth. All choking hazards should be kept well away from a crib.

Baby-Proofing The Halls And Stairs

Next, it’s time to take a quick sweep through your halls and stairways. Once your baby starts crawling, they’re at risk for falls and other issues. Go through your hallways and look for any items that the child might pull over. For example, if you have hall tables with plants or pictures on them, are there any fabric items which the baby might be able to reach?

Your stairways should have some sort of baby guards placed in front of them at all times. If possible, you’ll also want your stairs to be carpeted. This can help to reduce injury if your child takes a tumble down the stairs.

Keeping The Kitchen Safe

Finally, don’t forget the kitchen. There are all sorts of dangerous items in the average kitchen, from heavy appliances with loose cords to tablecloths that can lead to utensils on the floor. In short, everything should be kept in drawers and out of a child’s reach. Cupboards should be secured so that a baby can’t open them. If you want to go a bit further, consider installing some padding on the legs of hard kitchen furniture and on corners where a baby could bump their head.

It’s almost impossible to fully baby-proof a home, but the above checklist is a good start. If you have a baby on the way and are looking for a larger, safer home, contact your local mortgage professional.