Basic Tips For Going Green in Your Home

Did you know that homes are now built so precisely that there is no fresh air entering into or leaving our homes? The air inside our homes is more polluted than the air outside and can be a breeding ground for illness and allergies. Everything from our furniture, paint, household cleaners, flooring choices, and décor has built-in toxins and chemicals that are emitted into our breathing air every day. These toxins, also known as VOC’s or volatile organic compounds, have been connected to higher risks for heart attack, asthma, allergies, skin rashes, cancer, and reproductive disorders.

Now for the good news! You can actively take steps to go green in your home and create a safe breathing environment for yourself and your family. Here are some ways to be proactive and go green in your home.

The trend these days for homeowners is to renovate or rejuvenate their existing home, rather than simply purchasing a new home. As a result, many new products and paints are used to bring new life to older homes. If you’re not careful in choosing eco-friendly products for your renovations, you’re likely introducing more harmful chemicals into your breathing air. Did you know that new carpet will off-gas toxins for nearly 20 years? Suddenly, that “new carpet smell” isn’t so great, is it?

Going Green Tips

1) Choose an eco-friendly paint – paint manufacturers are responding to the need for cleaner air inside our living and working environments, so there are quality choices available on the market today. An eco-friendly paint is created using recycled paint or vegetable dyes and minerals.

2) Opt for eco-friendly flooring – natural fibers are attractive in any home décor, so opt for floor coverings like cork, bamboo, or linoleum. These “green” materials are attractive and inexpensive.

3) Purchase green furniture – furniture constructed from certified sustainable wood or reclaimed wood. Bamboo furniture is also a great choice and can be incorporated into many styles of décor. Do you love the look of vintage furniture? Using furniture that has been around the block a few times is another great way to go green when choosing “new-to-you” furniture pieces.

4) Invest in a natural air purifier – no chemicals are needed to clean the air in your home. Instead, invest in a quality air purifier for your home. Green household plants absorb polluted air, so include these in your decorating plan. Burn beeswax candles instead of chemically created candles. Beeswax candles emit negative ions, which are beneficial for you. Another natural air ionizer is a salt crystal lamp.

5) Look for natural fibers – shower curtains, window treatments, throw pillows, bed pillows, etc, should all be manufactured from natural fibers. Look for products that are manufactured using natural unbleached cotton, organic wool, organic hemp, or shredded rubber latex. Products to stay away from include those made from plastic, foam, or synthetic materials.

Going green in your home does not mean you have to sacrifice quality or beauty. Manufacturers of home décor, furniture, and renovating materials recognize that savvy consumers want eco-friendly choices and they’re providing choices that are beautiful and budget-friendly.

It’s easy to go green in your home, so get started today. You’ll be breathing cleaner air that much quicker!

3 Reasons to Install Solar Panels at Home

Progressive homeowners are exploring the benefits of fulfilling a section of their electricity requirements with solar power. Installing solar panels or photovoltaic cells are a clean and affordable way of powering homes and reducing electricity bills. Some environment-conscious homeowners install solar panels because it reduces carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 35%. Whatever be the reason, the raging popularity of photovoltaic solar energy systems can be attributed to certain factors.

Top Reasons to Install Solar Panels

Some of the reasons due to which more and more people are investing in solar panel installation are:

Increase home value: Statistics provided by the National Appraisal Institute state that homeowners can increase the value of their homes by $20 for every $1 drop in the annual utility bills. An average solar power product can boost your property’s value by $17,520. After taking rebates and incentives into consideration, your property would cost much less than your purchase amount.

Cut in electricity bills: Electricity bills are a major concern, not just in terms of draining your monetary resources bout also for being hazardous to the environment. Homes and small businesses utilize 500 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month. Some even pay as much as $75 a month. This is higher than the tax-deductible loan payments to be paid every month for financed solar systems. A typical solar panels installation will reduce your bills from $92 to $11 a month.

Reduce carbon footprints: The whole world is becoming increasingly conscious about ‘going green’ and home solar panels installation can be the best way of supporting this endeavor. Electricity usage leads to approximately 6 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per household in the US, per year. Taking into account the fact that an average American produces about 20 tons of carbon dioxide every year, installing photovoltaic systems could lessen your carbon footprint up to 35%.

Solar energy is renewable as well as reliable. Our earth receives sufficient solar energy to power every residential and commercial unit on the planet. So, why leave all the natural energy un-utilized? To top all this, solar panels are made from silicon, ensuring yet another use of natural resources (since silicon comes form sand.) Moreover, production of solar power does not lead to emission of harmful toxins or pollutants. Depending on the system you choose, you can cut down or even eliminate your home’s dependence on grid, especially during massive power shortages.

How Often Will I Need to Re-Stain, Re-Chink, Re-Caulk or Re-Finish My Log Home?

Before or after buying your log home there are certain things every log homeowner should know. Some things might be open for debate but one thing is for sure, your log home will require attention. This doesn’t mean that you will spend all of your waking hours staining, caulking, sealing, chinking, re-caulking, re-chinking and re-sealing. It does mean that you will need to pay attention to your log home like you might pay attention to your car. Below you will find some helpful tips and information to guide you through owning a log home.

  1. Have realistic expectations for the maintenance on your log home. There will be some.
  2. Set up a routine log home maintenance schedule.
  3. Follow a routine log home maintenance schedule.
  4. Apply log stain when your log home needs it. Remember you get what you pay for most of the time. Good log home stains are not cheap but you will save you money in the long run.
  5. Good log home stains will offer about 3 years of protection on the southern exposure of your log home and 4 years of protection on the other sides of your home. These figures are just estimates and will vary depending on a number of factors.
  6. Expect to caulk or chink your log home at some point.
  7. Some log homes require more chinking, caulking and stain than others
  8. Almost all log homes require some chinking or caulking whether it be in the horizontal log joints, the corners of the logs or around your window bucks.
  9. As we mentioned earlier, the better the log stain material the less stain maintenance your logs will require.
  10. Design your log home with maintenance in mind. Remember the less exposure your logs take the less maintenance they will require.
  11. Square logs weather better than round logs.
  12. Log home chinking can be used for aesthetic purposes or as a weather-tite barrier.
  13. Log home caulking should typically blend in with your logs. Conceal caulking by Sashco sets itself apart from all competitors.
  14. Some water based log stain materials are very good while others are very bad.
  15. Some oil based log stain materials are very bad while others are very good.
  16. Your log home stains should be compatible with your log chinking and your log home caulking materials.
  17. The preferred time to maintain your log structure is typically during the summer.
  18. Remember you log home is a dream home. Don’t forget to treat it like one.

FSBO – What You Should Know About Selling Your Own Home

The key to selling your home yourself is being properly prepared. If you aren’t, your home may remain on the market longer than you expect because you aren’t attracting and getting offers from qualified buyers. And this is where many homeowners become frustrated and start to think about giving up the dream of selling their homes themselves. However, some sellers are very successful at selling their own homes, and you can be one of them.

This report has been especially prepared to assist home sellers like yourself understand the process so you can sell your home quickly and for the price you want. To help you prepare, be aware of the following tips before deciding whether or not this is the right approach for you.

  1. Price your home correctly. Setting the correct asking price is critical. Setting the price too high can be as bad as setting it too low. Home prices are determined by fluctuations in the marketplace, and not by your emotional attachment to your home or what you think your home is worth. To establish a realistic price, compare the price, features, and condition of similar homes in both your neighbourhood and locations where similar homes have sold in the last few months. It is also important to be familiar with the terms of each potential sale. Terms are often as important as price in the current market. Work up a careful budget of your selling costs, and prepare a net proceeds sheet to determine an informed estimate of what you can expect to earn from the sale of your home. Prospective buyers may request a similar analysis of buying costs.
  2. Prepare your home for sale. First impressions are crucial. Ensure that your home makes a positive statement by carefully inspecting all details and viewing it, as objectively as possible, through the eyes of a buyer. Don’t ignore needed repairs and fix-ups: your prospective buyers certainly won’t! Your job is to make sure your home stands out favourably from the competition.
  3. Make sure you have all the necessary legal documentation. There are many important legal contracts and documents which you need to assemble, complete, and understand when selling your home. Below is a partial checklist of forms you will need for prospective buyers and for legal documentation.
    • Mortgage Payoff
    • Loan Application
    • Deposit Receipt
    • Property Profile Fact Sheet
    • Buyer’s Cost Sheet
    • Closing & Settlement
    • Personal Property
    • Exclusion List
    • Property Survey
    • Sellers Statement /Plot Plan of Representation
  4. Market Your Home Effectively. Beyond the sign on your lawn, you need to find effective ways to spread the word that your home is for sale. You can reach local buyers with ads in a newspaper, but you will reach just a small part of the possible market. Be sure to include buyers who may already be working with a realtor. To locate them, notify as many top agents as possible in your market in case their client’s criteria match what your home has to offer. Out-of-town buyers are an important target too, so create a strategy to reach them as well. Above all, be very customer service oriented and make it easy for pre-qualified buyers to view your home. That means making sure that someone is always available to answer the phone, respond promptly to messages, and be ready to give qualified prospects a tour of your home as quickly as possible.
  5. Remain objective when showing your home. Be sure to keep your emotions out of the sale of your home. The best way to do this during a showing is to remain physically in the background. If a prospective buyer says something negative about your home, you’re better off counter-balancing this point of view by calling attention to the positives instead of becoming defensive.
  6. Pre-qualify prospective buyers. Don’t waste time entertaining buyers who cannot afford to buy your home. Research their financial situation with respect to job security, salary, debts, liabilities and credit standing.
  7. Negotiate effectively and knowledgeably. There are a great many details that need to be resolved before a sale is considered final: price, terms, inspections, possession date, and buyer concerns and objections, to name a few. You must fully understand the contract you have drawn up so you can, in turn, explain the details and ramifications to the buyer, and make any necessary amendments to the sale. Have the contract you use thoroughly examined by your real estate attorney. Some real estate brokers may be willing to help you do this. While this is going on, work to maintain the buyer’s interest in your home so it doesn’t wane during negotiations.
  8. Know your buyer. Your objective during negotiations is to control the pace and set the duration. Try to determine what’s motivating potential buyers. Do they need to move quickly? Can they afford to pay the asking price for your home? Answering these questions will give you an advantage in the negotiations: you’ll know what you need to do to get what you want.
  9. Do not move out before you sell. Studies show that selling a vacant home is more difficult than selling one that is occupied. A vacant home looks forlorn, forgotten, and simply unappealing. And it could even cost you money. If you move out before you sell, you’re also letting prospective buyers know that you have a new home and are motivated to sell quickly. That can, of course, give the buyer an advantage at the negotiating table.
  10. Understand why you’re selling, but keep your reasons to yourself. Just as important as understanding your buyer is understanding yourself. Your reasons for selling can affect everything from how you price your home to how much time and money you invest in preparing it for sale. And knowing your motivation helps you determine your priorities: the money you walk away with, how long your property is on the market, or perhaps both. Different goals dictate different strategies. Someone who prefers to sell without a real estate agent to save the commission would indicate that money is a primary considerations (see “How to Assess Your Net Gain” below). Whatever your reasons may be, it is very important to keep them to yourself so you don’t put yourself at a disadvantage during negotiations. If anyone asks why you’re selling, simply tell them that your housing needs have changed.

How to Assess Your Net Gain

To find out whether or not you’ll come out ahead by selling your home yourself, consider that most buyers use real estate agents because it doesn’t cost them anything (the seller pays the agent’s fee). Be cautious: buyers, investors, and speculators who seek out For Sale by Owner properties are usually in search of a bargain. Low-ball offers from these buyers will usually net you a lot less in the long run. Determine for yourself the following:

  1. You need to be as prepared as possible with your marketing, negotiations, evaluations, showings, and all legal matters.
  2. Calculate what it will cost you to effectively market your home and put together all the necessary materials, from the “For Sale” sign to the contracts.
  3. What price will a buyer offer you as a For Sale by Owner, minus the costs identified in number 2 above? Is this net amount higher or lower than the price an experienced agent could net for you minus his/her commission?

Tips for Choosing a Good Custom Home Building Service

There are many advantages to choosing to build a custom designed home rather than buying an existing property; these include the possibility to create a space that caters to all your unique needs and wants. This does not have to be an exceptionally expensive option either – another benefit is that you will have complete control over your budget.

To make sure that you get the best experience out of your home building experience it is very important to find a good custom home builder to help bring your dreams to life. Here are a few important guidelines to follow to find the best professional to entrust with creating your new home.

Firstly, do not underestimate the power of recommendations; the best way to choose between a selections of custom home builders in your local area is to find out which ones have the happiest clients.

As with any service, people are always keen to share their positive and negative experiences, so seek out independent reviews websites which may provide useful information to help you make your decision on the best building service.

It is also worth looking on the company websites of the custom home builders you are considering. These best ones will not be backwards in coming forwards with the testimonials they have received from satisfied clients who have created their dream home with the help of the company.

It is also a good idea to ask the builders directly if they can put you in touch with their former clients. You may even in some cases be able to visit one of the properties that the custom home builder has created and speak to the owner. This will provide you with a valuable insight into the experience that you can expect if you work with them.

After you have found a few highly rated and reputable services, the next thing to do is to have a look through the portfolio of properties that they have designed and built. This will give you an idea of the types of property that they are used to constructing and designing.

You may be looking for a very modern, energy efficient and eco friendly home, and there are many custom home builders that deal often with this kind of building project, so you will benefit from all of their experience in this field if you choose to hire them.

On the other hand, you may like a more traditional looking home, in which case it is a good idea to find a custom build service that is experienced in creating this particular type of home. Either way, look carefully through portfolios to find a service whose previous projects appeal to you and are similar to what you have in mind for your own home.

Another thing that you absolutely must be aware of when you are looking for custom home builders to help you create your dream property is that there are many different aspects to such an enormous project. As you are taking care of every single large and tiny detail of the project you will need to find a service that can assist you with this.

The best service for those who are likely to find themselves overwhelmed by the enormity of such a project is one that guides its clients from start to finish of the build. This includes finding a good architect, creating an accurate budget, installing home video and audio systems, installing security systems, choosing finishes for both the home interior and exterior and much, much more.

The best way to make this kind of project a success is to find a professional that can help you every step of the way and one who is experienced enough to offer excellent advice on every single aspect of your project. Bear all of the above points in mind and you will be well on your way to finding the best custom home building service for you.