Home Improvement – HomeownersInsurance.org http://www.homeownersinsurance.org Homeowners Insurance Tips and News Fri, 28 Jun 2013 15:01:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.1 8 Apps for Decorating Your Stylish Home http://www.homeownersinsurance.org/8-apps-for-decorating-your-stylish-home/ http://www.homeownersinsurance.org/8-apps-for-decorating-your-stylish-home/#respond Mon, 18 Jun 2012 14:30:42 +0000 http://www.homeownersinsurance.org/?p=1695 Decorating your home can be a challenge when you constantly have to measure things, collect paint and fabric swatches, and compare furniture pieces in your head. However, with the right apps aiding your home decor ventures, you can have beautiful design right at your fingertips. Apps make decorating substantially easier, as they can store a great deal of information into a tiny piece of software. With the right apps, not only can you design your ideal room right on your phone, but you can also buy home furnishing products with a single click.

  1. Design Master

    Design Master is specifically formulated for your iPad, as it would be too difficult to navigate on an iPhone, and is extremely helpful if you can’t easily visualize what a piece of furniture might look like in your room. Simply snap a photo of your room using your iPad’s camera or choose a pre-existing photo from your library and then add items on top of the photo, choosing decor and other items from a catalogue within the app. You can resize and change the colors of furniture as you place them in the room as needed. You can also rotate them for different views. After completing your room, you can save it to your library for easy reference or email it to a friend. The app comes in three different versions depending on your designing needs — interior, hospitality, and exterior. The hospitality app works best for designers planning an event, with items like podiums and clothed tables in its inventory. Interior and exterior are self-explanatory, and both can be useful for home furnishing. Each version costs $9.99.

  2. Color Capture

    The Color Capture app by Benjamin Moore allows you to take a photo of anything using your phone or tablet and match it to corresponding paint chips from Benjamin Moore’s extensive library. You can then locate Benjamin Moore retailers in your area from within the app. The app is especially useful if you’re trying to develop a specific color palette in a room. You may get inspiration from a color combination you see in nature, and the app allows you to capture that moment and take it to your walls and furnishings. You can also add notes concerning your findings. The app is free and distributed both for Apple and Android products.

  3. MySurface

    Corian and Zodiaq produce different kinds of surfaces for homes, such as marble, granite, and tile. With the MySurface app, you can browse through the entire catalogue of surfaces from Corian and Zodiaq and save swatches of your favorites for quick reference. This makes it simple when you are discussing surface options with your decorator, or client if you happen to be an interior designer yourself. The photos used for surfaces are high-definition and you can hold them up to a surface to visualize what it might look like with a particular stone or tile. You can also browse through a gallery of furniture with different surface treatments for inspiration. The app is free for the iPhone or iPad.

  4. Remodelista

    If you can’t seem to find that perfect light fixture for your kitchen, browse the Remodelista app for ideas. Remodelista is constantly updated to bring you the newest trends in design products for your home. You can search by the room — kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, you name it — and browse the ever-expanding list of top-of-the-line products. The app also has DIY instructions for projects. Browse through images of furnished rooms and click “steal this look” for broken down pricing and retail information on various items. The app does product roundups on a regular basis. Save your favorite items to customizable folders for individual projects as you see fit. If you fall in love with a product, you can click “Buy Now” to purchase it directly from your phone or tablet. The full Remodelista app costs $2.99, but also comes in a lite version for free.

  5. Photo Measures

    The Photo Measures app by Big Blue Pixel allows you to photograph a room and input different dimensions for furniture, walls, and other objects in your virtual blueprint. You draw straight onto the photo and then add in the numerical values as measured out by hand. Measurements can be saved in imperial or metric units and the app intuitively recognizes angles. A high resolution copy of the photo can be exported to email to print out a hard copy. The app is a must for anyone trying to figure out if a specific piece of furniture will fit in a room before purchasing it. Given that you’ll have your exact measurements at hand on the go, you can claim that IKEA desk without worrying that it’ll be a tight squeeze next to your couch. The app costs $4.99, unless you purchase the free lite version.

  6. iHandy Level

    The iHandy Level from iHandy Inc. is a functioning level that you can use right from your iPhone. Like any level, you place the iPhone on a surface and it determines whether the surface is straight or slanted. However, the app is not only functional, but aesthetically pleasing, with a wood grain background and lighting effects. Plus, it’s absolutely free. The iHandy Level is the perfect solution for aligning artwork on your wall. It calibrates with a variety of surfaces, detecting verticality, angle measurement, incline, and roof pitch calculation.

  7. Pinterest

    You are probably more than acquainted with Pinterest already, but it can be a great website for getting decorating ideas. The Pinterest app is suitable for your iPhone and works almost identically to the website, in which you browse, favorite, and pin your own items to customizable boards. You can also take photos with your iPhone camera and pin them to Pinterest. If you’re looking for a specific decorating item, you can use the keyword search to narrow down the results. Pinterest also offers some of the best DIY ideas on the web.

  8. Mark On Call

    The Mark On Call app comes in two different versions depending on whether you intend to use it on your iPhone or on your iPad, but both are great resources for anyone taking on the challenge of interior design. Created by interior designer Mark Lewison, the app helps you conceive and carry out any design you please. You can map out a design of an existing room or an imaginary room, add dimensions to furniture using a crosshair cursor, and add “skin” surface textures onto things to see what something would like with a particular surface. You can create shopping lists of various items you’ll need to bring your room to life. You can also see how your interior design measures up by applying Mark’s Ten Commandments of Interior Design to a room. Both the iPhone and the iPad version are sold for $1.99 in the iTunes store.

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8 Most Trusted Home Improvement Experts http://www.homeownersinsurance.org/8-most-trusted-home-improvement-experts/ http://www.homeownersinsurance.org/8-most-trusted-home-improvement-experts/#respond Mon, 11 Jun 2012 21:48:52 +0000 http://www.homeownersinsurance.org/?p=1666 Whether you want to remodel your home, fix a leaky faucet, or reinvent a room, seeking expert advice from a reputable home improvement specialist is a must. Put your next home improvement project in the hands of a top-rated contractor to ensure long lasting results and quality of work. Here are some of the most trusted home improvement experts in America.


  1. Bob Vila

    A prominent name in the home improvement industry, Bob Vila is one of the most trusted contractors in America because of his expertise in home renovations. From 1979 to 1989 he was the host for This Old House where he completely renovated old and historic homes. He went on to host several other shows including Bob Vila’s Home Again, Bob Vila, and Restore America with Bob Vila. He has also written more than a dozen books on rehabilitating homes and other home improvement guides. Today, Bob is launching a new pilot series entitled Building Green, where he educates home owners on the newest green building technologies. Besides appearing on regular television, he is well-versed in carpentry tools, using his knowledge to create his own line of tools, now featured at Sears and the Home Shopping Network. Bob frequently answers any questions homeowners may have online at his webpage, Twitter account, and other social media outlets.


  3. Tom Silva

    Tom Silva has been renovating homes since he was a child, working with his father and brother. Their first project was installing a basement fallout shelter underneath their 1787 colonial home in Massachusetts. With decades of experience in remodeling, renovation, and restoration, Silva has hosted the show This Old House for more than 25 years, contributed to home improvement magazines, and published books. Silva is now a practicing contractor in Boston; he founded his own company, Silva Brothers Construction where he works alongside his brother and nephew.


  5. Karl Champley

    Award winning master builder, building consultant, and environmental home inspector Karl Champley has earned notoriety in the building industry for his projects in residential and commercial construction. Starting off as an apprentice carpenter, he soon gained certificates in structural engineering, earning his master builders license. In 1990, he started his own business, KJC Building Services, earning the Australian Achiever award in 2001. Since then, Karl has been featured on the DIY Network, HGTV, DIY To The Rescue, and Wasted Spaces. He is a great source when it comes to any carpentry needs and advice in the home renovation industry, even judging home improvement competitions across the U.S., Canada, and Australia.


  7. Danny Lipford

    A veteran remodeling contractor, Danny Lipford has been helping homeowners with both small and large projects for many years. As host and executive producer of the show, Today’s Homeowner With Danny Lipford, and the radio show Homefront With Danny Lipford, he provides expert tips and advice on the home improvement process. He has also contributed to The New York Times, Better Homes & Gardens, and other publications, offering guidance on a variety of home topics including design, materials, and key renovation decisions. One of his specialties is demonstrating a variety of “How-to” projects in studio and on location. He has been a home improvement contributor to The Early Show on CBS for more than a decade.


  9. Paul F. Ryan

    A nationally recognized home improvement expert, licensed contractor, home inspector, and insurance adjustor, Ryan has all the experience needed to be the ultimate handy-man. He’s hosted several television shows on the DIY Network, TLC, and HGTV, where he shares his knowledge of carpentry, home remodeling, plumbing, and other aspects of construction. Today, he is a regular and reliable source in newspapers, magazines, TV shows, and online home improvement websites.


  11. Ron Hazelton

    Offering expert home improvement advice, safety concerns, and design/repair issues on The Oprah Winfrey Show and Inside Edition, Ron was actually the pioneer of reality-based, on-location home improvement television when he hosted The House Doctor in 1989. The series was so successful, it ran for more than 200 episodes; then aired for many years after on HGTV. Today, he delivers instant solutions, advice, and how-to content online on his webpage. His simple, straightforward format of instruction has been a hit among home improvement enthusiasts.


  13. Mike Holmes

    Today’s host of HGTV’s Holmes on Holmes, Mike shares his expert knowledge on home repairs, managing large renovations, new-home construction, and sustainability issues. He’s built hurricane resistant homes in New Orleans and trained youth in skilled trades through apprenticeships. He’s also written two successful books and contributes to a weekly newspaper column.


  15. John Gidding

    After earning his masters in architecture from Harvard, Gidding went on to open his own design firm, John Gidding Design Inc. His portfolio includes impressive projects like Union Square in New York, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and the master campus plan for Carnegie Mellon University. Now a host for HGTV’s show, Designed to Sell and Curb Appeal: The Block, he offers invaluable design and technical advice for any home or landscape improvement needs.

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10 Inexpensive Ways to Enhance Your Home’s Facade http://www.homeownersinsurance.org/10-inexpensive-ways-to-enhance-your-homes-facade/ http://www.homeownersinsurance.org/10-inexpensive-ways-to-enhance-your-homes-facade/#respond Tue, 15 May 2012 20:21:17 +0000 http://www.homeownersinsurance.org/?p=1492 Whether you’re ready to sell your home or just want to boost its curb appeal, the front facade of your home is a very important element that should receive regular upkeep and attention. Sometimes a first impression of a home makes all the difference when it comes time to sell or lease your property. If you’re not selling, the facade is likely to add to the value of your property, transforming it into your dream home. Enhancing the facade of your home is relatively inexpensive, and there’s much creativity involved in picking out materials. Here are 10 cost-effective ways to spruce up the front appearance of your home.

  1. Clean the Windows

    When windows start to get dirty, have saggy window frames, or get damaged with cracks, it’s time for some general remodeling. Remove any rotten window frames and replace windows if you have to for a cleaner, more modern look. You may even consider getting some double-sided windows for more insulation, as older homes probably didn’t come with energy-efficient windows. You may even want to consider painting them a different color as a contrast to the rest of the house. Bear in mind the prominent color of your home’s brick, stone work, and other features before choosing a different color. Finally, large windows may enable outsiders to see your blinds, curtains, or drapes, so also be sure those are in good condition and also follow similar color schemes.


  3. Highlight the Approach to the Front Door

    The path leading up to your front door is a prominent feature of the facade, as it is well traversed and is usually a focal point. The steps, driveway, and/or pathway should be swept of leaves and free from unnecessary clutter. You want to keep these pathways leading to the front of your door as orderly as possible — this includes trimming overgrown grass or plants from the walkway. Power-washing dirty driveways or pathways will also instantly enhance the overall appearance of your home


  5. Touch up on Paint

    Peeling paint is just not a good look, and takes away from the initial impression of a home. While a fresh coat of paint may not always be necessary, it’s a good idea to touch up on any peeling spots until you do decide to repaint entirely. Always buy one or two extra cans of paint to save for future touch-ups.


  7. Consider Large, Visible Address Numbering

    The numbers on your home provide another outlet for you to be creative and customize the look of the front facade. However, number plaques can easily go wrong — hard-to-read numerals, hard-to-read painted numbers, or plaques with pictures generally should be avoided. Consider numbers that are large, easy to read, and have a simple design. Not only is this more practical and attractive, but it’s also a matter of safety. Emergency services can locate your house much faster if it the numbering is clearly marked.


  9. Create Visual Interest Through Landscaping

    A front facade is greatly enhanced with flowering trees, plants, and evergreens. No matter how small of a space you may have, try to add some greenery to liven up the space. Houses look even more beautiful with plant trails and landscaping leading up to the home. If you have no space in the front, you can be creative with window planter boxes or potted plants.


  11. Get Creative with Lighting

    Lighting is an essential component to the overall look of your home. It doesn’t always have to be symmetrical, either. Consider lighting key paths (the pathway leading to the front door) and lining the sides of driveways or entrances to the garden with walkway lights. These come in easy-to-assemble kits and in many designs. There are even solar-powered lights that don’t require any electricity, making them easily movable if you want to change up the look. You can also choose a new light fixture for porch areas and entrances. Even a small wall-mounted, battery-powered fixture can do wonders.


  13. Upgrade Your Mailbox

    Mailboxes come in so many shapes, sizes, and types. If your mailbox is looking a bit sad, it may need some sprucing up. You can invest in a new mailbox, or make your own. Creative mailboxes mimic the look and style of your home, or stand out for being unique and modern. You want your mailbox to catch the eye of passersby, but not for the wrong reasons.


  15. Fertilize Your Lawn

    Homes in especially dry and arid climates should pay extra attention to the maintenance of the front lawn. Lush green lawns truly contribute to the look of your front facade, and you don’t want dying, yellow grass to make your home seem untidy and sad. Invest in a sprinkler system or fertilize your lawn every month to keep grass healthy and growing.


  17. Replace Old Cladding

    Many old homes from the 1950s to 1970s were built using cheap bricks or pebbledash cladding, which don’t do much in terms of aesthetics for the facade of a home. One of the best ways to truly transform the look of your home is to change the cladding. There are so many options to explore here — painting over ugly brickwork, completely or partially changing cladding, or only replacing certain decaying pieces. Nowadays, so many innovations have led to affordable and durable new materials. Concrete tiles, timber, PVCu, softwood, and hybrid bricks are just a few options you can explore.


  19. Invest in a Nice Front Door

    It sounds obvious, but the first thing visitors are going to look at (after the initial overall impression of the facade) is your front door. While you can choose to replace your front door with a grand-looking one, you can also enhance old doors by painting them, installing glass, changing handles or glossing them. Sometimes all it takes is a fresh coat of paint — get creative with the color theme or go for a more contemporary look with matte, muted, or washed out colors.

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How Green Home Improvements Will Help You Sell Your House http://www.homeownersinsurance.org/how-green-home-improvements-will-help-you-sell-your-house/ http://www.homeownersinsurance.org/how-green-home-improvements-will-help-you-sell-your-house/#respond Thu, 26 Apr 2012 15:22:18 +0000 http://www.homeownersinsurance.org/?p=1393 With the current economy being as bad as it is, now more than ever homeowners who need to sell their homes are looking for ways to appeal to the buyers in the market. In previous years, luxurious additions and modifications were the strongest attraction for potential buyers, but with today’s environmentally savvy consumers, our approach needs to change.

A Tough Market

An estimated 1.4 million houses have been foreclosed since 2010 and despite a recent decline in foreclosure rates, 2012 is slated to see a continued rise. According to recent reports, negative equity was a high contributing factor in the decline of mortgage rates, and although a mere 12% of homes had negative equity, they still accounted for a staggering 47% of all foreclosures. What does this mean for today’s sellers? Equity is clearly one of the top factors to consider before putting your home on the market.


How Does Negative Equity Hurt Your Selling Abilities?

When homeowners are in a state of negative equity, it dramatically reduces their options for selling their home based on the mortgage and the bank. If the homeowner is buried beneath a pile of negative equity, they will have to choose whether to pay the difference between the current value of their house and the mortgage or negotiate with the bank to work out a short sale – both options mean less money to the seller. In order to avoid limiting your options and maximize the money you receive from the sale, improving your equity is crucial.


Go Green

Here’s where we come to the heart of the issue. It’s not enough to just make general home improvements to boost your equity. Because of the competitive selling market, homeowners have to find a way to rise above the competition. “Go Green” has become a popular mindset of this generation and sellers who tap into this trend can gain the necessary advantage over their competitors in the selling market. If you intend to dust off your tools and upgrade or modify your home prior to listing it, consider opting for some more environmentally friendly changes.

  1. Improve the view
    Double- or triple-paned windows are by far the most efficient way to lower loss of heat or air conditioning. If your windows are single-paned, at least make sure any cracks are sealed with caulk or foam strips.
  2. Door Detection
    Don’t forget to check your garage doors for possible leaks and worn weather stripping. Home improvement stores offer replacements for stripping as well as sealant or caulk for drafty places.
  3. Wonderful Water
    If your water heater is older than 15 years, it may need to be replaced. Recent models available on the market include energy efficient options for comparatively low prices. Usually the cost of the heater is repaid in savings over a year or so. The insulation around your water pipes can also affect the state of your water temperature.
  4. Bright Idea
    Most stores have stopped selling incandescent light bulbs, but if you have any left around your house, replace all of them with fluorescent bulbs. They save 70 to 75% more energy than incandescent bulbs, a major plus for energy efficiency. In addition to more efficient bulbs, consider installing dimmer switches for lights. The ability to lower the light in a room while not completely eliminating it allows for even greater energy savings.
  5. More Power to You
    Using power strips for your home office saves energy that would otherwise be wasted. Power strips are a cheap way to preserve even more power, especially for those with multiple computers, printers, or other office equipment.
  6. Trash to Treasure
    Does your kitchen have a garbage compactor? These appliances can reduce trash volume by as much as 80% and are an attractive option to those who don’t want to make multiple trips to the dumpster or curb. Not only does a compactor reduce the volume of your trash, but it also reduces the number of garbage bags used, further reducing waste.
  7. Look For Leaks
    Leaks can be quiet but deadly when it comes to conserving water. Check all of your plumbing, both indoor and outdoor, for any possible leakage. This is one of the easiest repairs you can do to provide instant savings and boost environmental efficiency.
  8. Low-Flow
    Low-flow toilets reduce water usage from 3.5 to 5 gallons down to 1.1 or 1.6, a saving of nearly 34,000 gallons per year for the average family of four. This will dramatically reduce costs for water.

Given the economic challenges of today and the heavy emphasis on environmental practices, it is clear that improving home equity is the first step towards overcoming the current housing market and that green home improvements are the most advantageous method of doing that.

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Living in a Money Pit http://www.homeownersinsurance.org/living-in-a-money-pit/ http://www.homeownersinsurance.org/living-in-a-money-pit/#respond Fri, 24 Sep 2010 14:58:18 +0000 http://www.homeownersinsurance.org/?p=977

When you buy a house, it’s not like buying a toaster. If you buy a toaster and it doesn’t work right, or doesn’t do everything you want it to do, you simply take it back. In a worst case scenario where the store won’t take it back, you simply buy another toaster. If you buy a car and it gets into a wreck and needs repairs, you have your car insurance to pay for it. If your home turns out to be a lemon and need a bunch of repairs, your homeowners insurance isn’t going to cover it. In fact, if someone is injured in your home because of those things that need repair, it’s entirely possible that your homeowners insurance won’t cover it.

Here is a way to tell if you’re living in a money pit: you’re spending more than 2 percent of your home’s value each year, on average, on home repairs.

Now, you can expect that, occasionally, this will happen. Everyone needs to replace a roof or a furnace, from time to time. When it happens on a regular basis, however, then you know you’ve got a bigger problem.

ServiceMagic, which is a company that is involved in a variety of home services including repairs, has offered a list of categories when it comes to putting money into your home repairs:

  • The Money Pit. As mentioned if you spend more than 2 percent annually on home repairs you have a money pit.
  • The Sinkhole. A sinkhole is a little bit better than a pit, according to ServiceMagic. If you spend between 1.6 percent and 2 percent of your home’s value each year on repairs, you have a sinkhold.
  • The Drain. A more mild but still significant category is the drain. If you spend between 1 percent and 1.5 percent a year on repairs, you have a drain.

If your home falls into one of these categories, it may be time to crawl out of the pit (or sinkhole or drain) and find a home that doesn’t cause as much of a fin

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