Simple Steps To Create The Perfect Outdoor Oasis

get together in an outdoor space - home inspection miami Helpful Information from Atlantic Building Inspections

Summer is home to many of the year’s most beautiful days, so who can blame you for wanting to spend them all outside? Your yard becomes your living room and your patio the kitchen. It’s your home away from home, which begs the question — do you like your current digs?

If your home’s outdoor space lacks the comfort and appeals you are longing for, don’t worry. Now is the perfect time to transform your backyard into the perfect outdoor oasis you can enjoy all summer long.

To get started upgrading your backyard without breaking the bank — follow these tips from the experts at Lowe’s.

 A Place to Gather:

Think of the parties you’ve hosted in your home. They’ve likely all had a common gathering place such as the kitchen counter, the living room couch or the dining room table. Your outdoor space needs a similar location, and a dining set naturally invites guests to relax. Five-piece dining sets from Lowe’s are perfect for more intimate gatherings, while seven-piece sets comfortably accommodate larger crowds.

The Focal Point of your Kitchen:

Grilling out is a staple of any summer party, so if your existing grill isn’t hitting all cylinders, it’s time for an upgrade. The Master Forge 5-Burner Modular Gas Grill features four heavy-duty burners, one infrared searing burner, and one infrared rotisserie burner, giving you a solution for any menu choice. Plus, its built-in halogen lights can keep your party going long into the night.

A Place to Relax:

The sofas and armchairs in your living room are popular sitting destinations during an indoor event, and you can create the same environment outdoors with sectional patio furniture. The Garden Treasures Palm City Patio Sectional Furniture features sleek and sturdy black steel frames coupled with tan Olefin cushions that up to the comfort level, meaning when you sit, you’ll never want to leave.

A Little Shade Goes a Long Way:

An all-day party means plenty of suns, and when guests need a break from the heat, it’s good to provide an area of relief. Patio umbrellas are an affordable option, available in 8-1/2 and 9-foot varieties, providing ample coverage for a large gathering. And to keep the awning a hot destination into the evening, look for an umbrella outfitted with LED lights.

 The Perfect Accents:

The difference between a backyard and an outdoor oasis is in the details you add to your space. Island King Garden Torches bring light to any situation. With durable metal construction and a long-lasting fiberglass wick, these lights will keep their look in any conditions. To add a little extra green space to your outdoor entertaining area, consider purchasing raised garden beds. They provide a grand ambiance upgrade to your oasis at an affordable price.

Summer has just begun! Implement any of the upgrades listed above, and you’ll be able to enjoy the season’s most significant days from your brand-new oasis. To find everything you need to remake your backyard, without breaking your bank, visit lowes.com. – (BPT)

How To Build The Perfect Share Garden | Outdoor Ideas

 

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5 Ways To Create Big Luxury In A Small Bathroom

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If you’re thinking about remodeling your small bathroom, you may know that studies show updating a bathroom of any size can increase the value of a home. However, there’s a statistic from a Houzz survey you might not know: 75 percent of people who renovate a master bathroom doesn’t make it bigger.

Enlarging a small master bathroom is often impractical; you may need to take space from another room or extend an exterior wall to accomplish an expansion. Both options have disadvantages and costs. The truth is, you don’t need to move walls or spend like a home improvement show host to create big luxury in a small master bathroom.

Five Ways To Make A Small Bathroom Space Feel Lavish:

1. Rethink the shower stall versus tub debate.

Many large luxury bathrooms have a separate shower and soaking tub. In a small bathroom, which may be used by multiple members and generations of a household, creating an upscale feeling by separating the tub from the shower might not be a realistic option. Instead, look for ways to boost the appeal of your tub/shower space, perhaps by choosing a visually appealing, bright-white model for an updated, yet classic, style.

For example, Americast bathtubs from American Standard combine unmatched strength and durability with elegant, traditional design lines that blend perfectly with stylish bathroom decor. Patented three-layer Americast construction gives the tubs a porcelain enamel finish, sound-dampening qualities and superior resistance to damage, all in a lightweight material that makes for easy installation.

2. Step up your shower game.

The shower isn’t just where you get clean; it’s also a morning wake-up tool or end-of-day relaxation therapy treatment. Deluxe showers often feature multiple jets, rainfall showerheads, and hand showers. Replacing an ordinary showerhead with a shower system is a cost-effective and easy way to add a luxurious experience to the shower.

Options like the GROHE Retro-Fit Shower System offer a drenching rain showerhead, along with an integrated hand shower for ultimate convenience. Since the main showerhead is mounted on a movable arm, you can position the spray overhead (to function as a rainfall shower) or at an angle for additional comfort, all with the choice of spray patterns. Even better, the system works with existing plumbing, eliminating any need to open the wall to change piping. For added indulgence, consider a shower system with an elegant brushed nickel finish to elevate the look of your overall shower and bathroom decor.

3. Splurge on luxury materials.

Yes, materials like travertine tile or granite countertops can be costly, but when you’re renovating a small bathroom, you need less of those materials. Adding marble tile above a small tub/shower area will cost far less than outfitting a large walk-in shower. Replacing a modestly sized vanity with a new cabinet and granite countertop won’t be nearly as expensive as redoing a large, double-sink vanity.

When you have less real estate to refurbish, high-end materials can be a cost-effective choice. For a reasonable price, you can use quality materials to significantly boost the upscale feeling of your small bathroom.

4. Add pizzazz to functional elements.

You can increase a small bathroom’s feeling of extravagance by adding some flare to functional items like faucets, mirrors and cabinet hardware. For a modest investment, you can turn everyday, often-overlooked elements into items that underscore the overall beauty of the room.

For example, replacing an ordinary or outdated faucet with a modern-style option from the Colony PRO bath collection is an affordable way to improve aesthetics and functionality. Sleek styling translates well into modern bathroom design. Plus, single- or double-handle design means that faucets are user-friendly for children and adults of all ages and mobility levels.

Replacing a typical bathroom medicine cabinet or mirror with a luxury model is another way to elevate a small bathroom to premium status. Today’s medicine cabinets come with an array of leading-edge features, such as defogging functions, built-in electrical outlets, night lights, USB outlets, interior lights and set-in magnifying mirrors.

5. Lighten up space.

Finally, adding more natural light into a small master bathroom can make space seem larger and more appealing. If your small bathroom already has a window, forgo blinds or shades in favor of easy-to-apply privacy film. Readily available in home improvement stores or online, in a breadth of simple or fancy patterns, this opaque film allows light to enter the room while providing the necessary privacy.

If your budget allows, consider adding a skylight for natural lighting and passive ventilation. Even if your small master bathroom is on the ground floor, it may be possible to use a tube skylight to bring more natural light into space.

Achieving ultimate comfort and luxury in your small-space bathroom is at your fingertips, quickly and affordable. – (BPT)

Small Luxury Bathroom On A Budget

 

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5 Tips To Make The Most Of Your Outdoor Space

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A beautiful, sunny day is one of the best parts of the season, and when you have one, you simply have to be outside. When you step outdoors, where do you go? To the park? The lake? A friend’s home?

How often do you stay home and enjoy a beautiful day in your outdoor space? If your answer is not often or never, it’s time to create your home field advantage. With just a few simple improvements you can make even the smallest outdoor space feel comfortable and be welcoming to you and your guests. Start with these five projects, and you’ll make your yard the place to be when the weather turns beautiful.

5 Projects for an Outdoor Space :

1. Replace the cement with a raised deck. That old cement patio or walkway in your backyard may be unsightly and uninviting, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can make that space much more appealing by replacing it with a raised cedar deck. Easy to build and affordable as well, installing a raised cedar deck to your outdoor space makes the entire area more inviting without taking up any additional space. Cedar is also naturally resistant to rot, decay and insects, and it is cool underfoot, making it the perfect decking solution for your newly improved outdoor living space.

2. Light smart. Your current outdoor space may have only a single light, or it may have no light at all, making it impossible to use at night. To make the space more welcoming, add string lights or uplighting to your outdoor area. These lights are available in a wide array of styles to match your personality, and they take up very little space, allowing you to create the perfect — well-lit — environment you’re looking for.

3. Focus on furniture. If finding the right furniture to fit your space has been difficult, consider making your own instead. Building a customized bench or sectional from Western Red Cedar is easier than you think and it allows you to build your furniture to meet the design requirements of your space. Plus, Western Red Cedar is pitch and resin free, so it accepts and holds a wide range of finishes to match your style choice. You can even add built-in storage to your bench or furniture design for more space-saving solutions. To find building plans for this and other Western Red Cedar projects, visit www.realcedar.com.

4.  Place a plant or two. The right plant could provide just the pop of color your outdoor space needs. Herb gardens, hostas, even a pot of flowers all up to the scenic appeal of your outdoor area. If space is a concern and you have a pergola structure, hanging plant baskets are the great option so that you can enjoy their beauty from above.

5. Play a zone strategy. When space is at a premium, you need to utilize every inch. To do this, segment your outdoor space into defined zones such as cooking, relaxing and eating areas. You can then further define these zones by adding the perfect finishing touches to each like a barbecue enclosure for your cooking area and a pergola over your dining table. Each of these DIY projects is a worthy addition to your outdoor space and will make it the area you can’t wait to enjoy every time you step outside. – (BPT)

Creative Ideas for Urban Outdoor Spaces

 

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Tricks To Customize A Kitchen On A Budget

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Who wouldn’t want a kitchen customized to meet their particular tastes and needs? A complete kitchen renovation can cost tens of thousands of dollars, but you don’t have to spend a bundle to achieve a custom effect. A few modest investments can help make your kitchen work well and look great.

Ways To  Affordably Customize Your Kitchen:

1.Get creative with cabinets

Completely replacing cabinets can be costly, but it’s possible to create a custom look with the cabinets you already have. Customization tricks to try:

* Paint cabinets a trendy color, like dark blue. Or, paint one set of cabinets, such as those under an island, a different color.

* Remove the doors from one cupboard to create an open effect where you can display prized showpieces. Further accent the look by painting the back of the cupboard a contrasting color.

* Replace dated or dull hardware with drawer pulls and knobs that speak to your design tastes. For example, if you love a vintage look, replace metal hardware with glass or ceramic knobs.

2. Freshen up the faucet

Cabinet hardware isn’t the only “jewelry” in the kitchen. The faucet can also be a design focal point that looks as good as it works. If yours is old, basic or just not to your taste, replacing the kitchen faucet with a newer model that speaks to your style can help reinvent the entire room. Plus, a new faucet can provide functions and features that will make your kitchen more usable.

For example, the Tournant faucet by Kohler combines traditional design with modern industrial elements, so it works well with a variety of kitchen design themes. A three-function, pull-down spray head lets you put the water exactly where you need it, while a special BerrySoft setting is gentle enough for washing fruits and vegetables.

If a more vintage look appeals to you, Kohler has recently added a bridge model faucet to its favorite Artifacts line. Reminiscent of turn-of-the-century kitchen and bar faucets, the deck-mounted bridge faucet works with either lever or six-prong handles for temperature controls and features a dual-function side spray. Visit www.us.kohler.com to learn more.

3. Enliven your lighting

Good light is essential for a kitchen to function well, but it’s common for kitchens to have just one overhead light and maybe a pendant or two over a breakfast bar. Replacing dated fixtures with newer ones that suit your style is easy, but what can you do if you want more light without the expense of paying someone to install additional wiring?

* Replace a standard ceiling light with track lights. They require no additional wiring, and you can position lights along the track to put illumination where you want it.

* Install under-cabinet lights that can easily plug into an existing counter-level electrical outlet.

* Place a swing-arm task lamp over work areas, so you can aim light where you need it most while working. The lamp can easily plug into a wall outlet.

4. Accentuate accessories

Accessories are the finishing touch of personalization in any room, including the kitchen. However, since the kitchen needs to be high-functioning, look for ways to accessorize that also enhance your kitchen’s ability to work for you.

* Every kitchen has small appliances that get regular use, such as toasters, food processors, blenders, etc. If your toaster sits out on the counter, why not turn it into part of the design theme by selecting an appliance in a bright color to match your decor?

* A matching set of pot holders or dish towels hung from a hook beneath a cabinet or on the side of a cupboard not only puts a much-needed item close at hand, but they can also add decorative flair.

* Place a bright, cheerful area rug in front of the sink or prep area. The rug will not only perk up space but helps cushion your joints while you stand in one spot working.

* A pot rack above an island provides much-needed storage space for large pots and pans while adding a homey touch to the kitchen.

Customizing a kitchen doesn’t have to be costly or require you to sacrifice any functionality. With a few smart updates, you can cost-effectively create the personalized kitchen of your dreams. – (BPT)

How to Remodel Your Kitchen on a Budget 

 

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DIY Projects To Prepare a Home for Sale

Helpful Information from your friends at Atlantic Building Inspections

If you’re looking to sell your home quickly and for more money, it’s essential to make popular areas of the house look appealing to potential buyers. Fortunately, with a little DIY effort, you don’t have to invest in expensive home repairs or real estate-staging services.

Easy DIY Projects for a Market-Ready Home:

Paint the front door – First impressions count when it comes to a home sale. You want your entryway to be inviting so home buyers want to look further. An easy way to update an entryway is to paint the door with a new color that complements your home and surroundings. Simply remove the hardware, clean the surface, prime and topcoat with the new paint color. While you’re at it, consider painting exterior accent features — such as shutters or window boxes — the same color for a cohesive look.

Repair and refresh walls – Painting is an easy and affordable way to freshen an entire home so that buyers take notice. However, cracks and holes in freshly painted walls can make a poor impression. For a DIY project that yields a professional result, repair walls before the first swipe of the paint brush. ALEX Plus and ALEX Flex Spackling provide unsurpassed performance and durability for filling holes and cracks on surfaces throughout the home. ALEX Plus Spackling is easy to apply, sands to a smooth finished surface, and creates the superior paint-ability needed to seamlessly blend with the surrounding area. ALEX Flex Spackling is perfect for eliminating those stubborn reoccurring cracks in the drywall that appear as problem areas expand and contract with changes in weather and humidity.

Update kitchen and bath hardware – Do you have kitchen and bath hardware that’s decades old? If so, it may be worth your time to replace these dated details. Adding small features such as modern cabinet hardware can visually update a room, so explore affordable options at your local home improvement store. Once you select the style you like best, just get your screwdriver and swap out the old for new.

Re-caulk the kitchen and bathroom – Exposure to water and moisture over time can cause caulk to look dirty and unsightly. Potential buyers are sure to note mold, mildew, dirt, and stains on old caulk. For a clean appearance, remove the old caulk, thoroughly clean the area to remove any dirt or residue, then re-caulk with DAP Kwik Seal Ultra Sealant. Backed by a lifetime mold and mildew resistance guarantee, this premium siliconized kitchen and bath sealant repels water, liquids, soap scum, stains so the sealant stays looking clean, fresh and new. Plus, it is safe for all surfaces, even granite, and marble.

Revisit lighting throughout the home – Proper illumination isn’t just useful, it can open up a room and highlight beautiful architectural features. All lighting should be dusted, but for those fixtures that are old, outdated, or broken, consider inexpensive replacement options. Something as simple as replacing glass globes can add high-impact style. Adding task and accent lighting is another smart investment. For example, under-cabinet lights in the kitchen are easy to install and are likely to impress potential buyers.

Preparing a home for sale doesn’t have to be a daunting process. With these five projects, you’ll be well on your way to having a beautiful home ready for listing. – (BPT)

Tips For Getting Your House Ready For Sale 

 

 

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Live-Edge Wood In Home Design

 

wooden kitchen top and table - home inspection miami

Helpful Information from your friends at  Atlantic Building Inspections

Live-edge hardwood, in which the sides of the slab are left unmilled to retain the natural profile of the tree trunk, is an increasingly popular decorative trend in today’s residential interiors. The technique is not only used for pieces of stand-alone furniture such as tables and benches but also for built-in elements like shelving, mantles, countertops, bars and kitchen islands.

 

“Most mills cut off the rough tree edges, turning the raw timber into neat boards,” says Linda Jovanovich, of the American Hardwood Information Center at www.HardwoodInfo.com. “But the current demand for live-edge slabs has led to a small but vigorous subset of producers who specialize in the category.” These are often boutique businesses that source, dry and mill limited batches of timber for use in furniture of their own design and manufacture.

 

“Some larger sawmills sell live-edge slabs to the public,” Jovanovich continues. “You visit their showroom and pick your own one-of-a-kind piece of ash, cherry, red oak, walnut or whatever other hardwood species they have in stock. A cabinet maker can then custom-make a piece of furniture or a built-in feature to your exact specifications.”

 

Sustainability-minded entrepreneurs are responsible for another niche in the live-edge hardwood market: small urban suppliers that source culled or fallen trees from the backyards of private homes, public parks, graveyards and other leafy locations in their city and its immediate environs. One such enterprise, RE-CO BKLYN in Brooklyn, New York, recently harvested four 12,000-pound logs from a 150-year-old storm-felled elm in nearby Prospect Park. The logs were taken to an upstate mill to be sawn into live-edge slabs and dried before being shipped back to Brooklyn, where they were either sold or used by RE-CO for tables, desks, bar counters, shelves, headboards and other beautiful custom-made pieces it produces.

 

“It was George Nakashima, the legendary Japanese-American mid-century furniture maker, who pioneered the use of live-edge slabs in refined residential settings,” says New York-based designer Glenn Gissler. “Previously, untrimmed wood planks, sometimes with the bark still intact, were used for rustic, log-cabin or ranch-house effects — elements that referenced the traditions, myths, and aesthetics of the American Old West. With his gorgeous large-scale pieces, comprising multiple slabs of characterful woods like walnut and cherry connected with butterfly joints, Nakashima showed us how unfinished natural edges and richly figured knotted surfaces fit perfectly into even the most sophisticated urban interiors.”

 

Today, original Nakashima pieces are highly collectible and command high prices at auction. But his free-edge aesthetic is more influential than ever as homeowners discover the ability of live-edge furniture to work with almost any decorative style. Paired with blackened steel legs, for example, a live-edge slab of burled walnut creates a dining table with loft-worthy industrial chic. Fixed to the bedroom wall, a free-form expanse of warm-toned cherry provides a romantic headboard. Or a hefty live-edge slab of oak, supported on an equally hefty oak-slab base, makes for a monumental console with the presence of a piece of archaic sculpture. New York-based designer Laura Bohn has even used the chainsawed cross-section of an elm trunk — complete with its bark — as a countertop on which to mount a stainless steel powder-room sink. “It introduces a decidedly rustic note into a thoroughly modern space,” she says. “And yet it looks perfectly natural as if it had just grown there of its own accord.” Visit www.HardwoodInfo.com for more about residential design trends and other applications and products using American hardwoods. – (BPT)

DIY Wooden Countertop

 

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Latest Deck Trend: ‘Monster’ Size, Mega-Luxury

man and woman in a large deck - home inspection miamiBrought to you by your friends at  Atlantic Building Inspections

Move over mini — the new trend in decking is anything but small. When it comes to the size of their decks, the majority of Americans feel bigger is better — as multiple surveys indicate decks are getting larger and more luxurious, RealtorMag reports.

Today’s decks dwarf the outdoor spaces of decades ago, and blur the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces with features like full kitchens, dining and entertainment areas, says Kim Katwijk, owner of Deck Builders Inc. in Olympia, Washington. Katwijk is a 20-year  veteran of the deck-building business and co-producer of the upcoming web series Outdoors Outdone.

Sizable Changes:

Katwijk says the intersection of two major home trends is driving the growth of “monster” decks: homes are getting larger and outdoor living has reached mainstream status. Last year, more than half of all new homes were 2,400 square feet or larger, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s “Characteristics of New Housing” report. In 1973, the average home size was 1,660 square feet. As homes grew, deck sizes have, too. RealtorMag reports one survey found that since 2014, the average deck size grew by 53 percent in the Northeast, to 406 square feet.

The Making of a ‘Monster’ Deck:

So what makes a deck project “monster”? Size, design, materials, and amenities all combine in this nationwide trend.

Size — “Monster” decks are big — really big. Mark Kalady, a decking sales manager for TAMKO Building Products, Inc., says he’s recently seen residential decks grow to 3,000 square feet. Depending on the amenities included, a deck 1,600-1,800 square feet could also be considered “monster.”

Kitchens/dining — Cooking and dining areas are among the most requested luxury features, deck builders say. Luxury grills, built-in pizza ovens and full-cook stoves and sinks are becoming more common.

Water/Fire — Fire and water features such as hot tubs, lap pools, fireplaces and fire pits are part of the trend of bringing the indoors out. These focal points serve as relaxation, exercise, and entertaining stations.

Seating — Katwijk says “conversational pits” designed specifically for extended entertaining allow deck-users to enjoy time together away from the cooking and dining areas.

Multi-story — “Monster” decks often include multiple levels, with each level serving a different theme or intended use, such as dining, conversation, swimming, etc.

Technology — Many of today’s larger decks include living room areas equipped with big-screen TVs, wireless speakers and gaming systems. But the technology used on monster decks can extend to retractable glass walls and skylights, and even the deck boards themselves. Katwijk says the technology behind man-made decking products like Envision composite lumber offers the luxury appearance of exotic woods, but with minimal annual maintenance.

“People want an environment where they can be outdoors, yet have all the creature comforts of their home — essentially creating a space where they can do all the things that they love,” Katwijk says. –  (BPT)

Building a Large Deck

 

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Big-Impact Ideas for Small Patio Spaces

(BPT) – Do you have a small patio? Do you think you can’t do much with the space due to its size? There’s probably a lot more potential than you think.

From the influx of urban dwellers, empty-nesters in transition and even the tiny-home movement, the trend of downsizing continues across the United States. Contrary to popular belief, you can have an impressive patio even if you have a smaller abode.

Here are a few design ideas to help bring your limited patio area to life while maximizing the space:

Rugs

Add visual interest under foot with a patterned rug. A rug properly placed under a table can break up a smaller floor, giving the illusion of more square footage. Colored rugs are readily available in a variety of designs. Pick your favorite striped, chevron or paisley variety and see what a difference it makes.

Water features

The natural elegance, gentle gurgle and sparkle of a flowing water feature can add a sense of peacefulness to any patio. For smaller spaces, easily turn a decorative waterproof container or planter into a beckoning water feature by simply adding water and a smartpond Low Water Shut-off Fountain Pump. This smart pump automatically shuts off if the water becomes too low, preventing pump burnout. It’s also a great replacement pump option to revive a decorative premade fountain that has quit working. Learn more at www.smart-pond.com.

Think vertical

To get the most out of a limited space, think upward instead of outward. Hanging plants are a classic option, but vertical wall gardens are a top trend that’s sure to be a conversation starter. You’ll enjoy plenty of greenery but also open floor space for your furniture, water feature and entertaining to ensure a welcoming area for hosting summer parties.

Built-ins

To get the most out of every inch of your petite patio, look for furniture and features that multitask to help save space while maximizing functionality. An easy solution is to opt for a table that opens to become a cooler for beverages or a bench to hold blankets and other patio extras. Just remember to keep scale in mind so you don’t overwhelm your space with massive furniture.

Mixing materials

Matching is out for 2017, so forget about perfectly paired combos and explore a variety of decor. A great way to try this trend is to add visual interest by experimenting with different materials. Inject your own personality through various finishes. One example: consider setting black resin pots next to a handwoven wicker for an eclectic blend of textures.

Vibrant colors

Don’t make the mistake of thinking a small space must have muted colors. Vibrant hues inject energy and style, often making a small patio feel larger than it is in real life. From ocean blues to ferocious fuchsia, an accent pillow here and a throw blanket there will transform your space dramatically.

From DIY water features to vertical gardens, a small patio doesn’t have to be short on style or functionality. Let these top trends guide you to create a space you’ll enjoy all year long.

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5 Spring Cleaning Projects to Take on Immediately

5 indoor projects to add to your spring cleaning list

(BPT) – Spring cleaning is a seasonal tradition. You’ve been setting house projects aside all winter, and now’s the perfect time to make sure the warm weather season starts with a cleaner, happier home. So open the windows, turn on your favorite song, and start your spring cleaning with these five to-dos.

* Clear the clutter. Removing excess clutter is a great cleaning tip any time of year, but finishing this task when the weather was colder may not have been as tempting. Tackle your home room by room and analyze the items you find. If you haven’t used something in a year or more, it’s time for it to go.

Spring Cleaning Projects - Clean the floors

* Freshen up the floors. After a season of tracking dirt, snow and mud, your floors could use some attention. If the damage is minor, a thorough vacuuming will do the trick. If the wear and tear is more significant, you may need a more comprehensive solution. If you have carpet, renting a carpet cleaner allows you to tackle the job yourself, saving you money over hiring a professional or purchasing your own machine. And if you have hardwood or tile floors, rent a floor buffer. It’s the easiest way to give your floors back their shine in no time.

* Pretty it up with paint. The windows are open and a gentle breeze is moving air through your home. This is the right time to cross that painting project off your to-do list. Small painting projects can be handled with a single can and a brush, but for your larger painting endeavors, rent a paint sprayer. It’s the best way to get an even, professional coat in a short amount of time so you’re finished before the breeze dies down.

* Better the baseboards. Baseboards provide a stylish accent to any room in your home, but when they’re dirty, they stand out for all the wrong reasons. To clean them, start by vacuuming your baseboards and scrubbing each with a mixture of dish soap and warm water. Dry each with a towel before wiping them with a dryer sheet. This last step will help repel dust from landing on your baseboards. Plus, it’ll give your home a fresh scent.

* Vet the vents. One of the joys of warmer weather is the increase in fresh air that flows through your home — as long as that air is clean. To improve the air quality in your home immediately, clean the vents. Dirt, hair, pollen and other debris collect there, so vacuum the vents out to remove particles from your air for good. Rent a wearable vacuum and you’ll make your reaching points easier without the complications of lugging a traditional model.

Apply some care and focus to these five spring cleaning tasks, and you’ll be happier with your home in the pleasant months ahead. To learn more about renting the tools you need for your spring cleaning projects, visit RentalHQ.com.

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Top Energy-Efficient Housing Features According To Miami Home Inspectors

Most Americans want an energy-efficient home, and they’re willing to make the necessary changes to help improve efficiency, whether it’s changing their habits or buying more energy-efficient appliances. But reducing energy bills and making your home more efficient doesn’t just begin with remembering to switch off lights in empty rooms or paying top-dollar for newer appliances.

“Energy efficiency has to start when a home is being built,” says Kevin Clayton, CEO of manufactured home builder Clayton Homes. “If you’re buying new construction, it’s important to look for a home that’s built with energy-efficiency in mind during the home design stage. Those additional features will have a great impact on a home’s overall efficiency.”

As demand for greater energy efficiency has grown, the concept of more resourceful design has moved from the realm of luxury homes into the mainstream, Clayton notes. “You no longer have to buy a mansion to get an energy-smart, sustainable home. Manufactured homes are very energy-efficient and it’s easier to add energy saving features when the home is being constructed in a climate controlled environment.”

If you’re in the market for a new home, here are energy-efficient design features to look for:

Superior insulation

Insulation doesn’t just keep a home warm in the winter. It should also help keep it cooler in the summer, and help central air-conditioning units operate more efficiently. The R-Value of insulation tells you how well it will be able to resist heat transfer, and a higher R-Value means better heat resistance. To properly protect a home, builders may use a combination of insulation types, such as batt and blown insulations packed into ceiling, wall and floor cavities.

Low-E windows

Windows can be a significant source of heat transfer in a home, allowing heat to enter rooms in the summer and escape in winter. Low-emissive (Low-E) windows hinder heat transfer while still allowing daylight to pass through. Not only can Low-E windows help A/C units operate more efficiently, they can also prevent fading of fabrics, floor coverings and furniture from sunlight entering a home.

Air management

Air leaks can increase heating and cooling costs for a typical existing home in the United States by an average of 15 percent, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. A newly constructed home with properly sealed ductwork inside and tight airway leading outside can help reduce your energy bills.

Minimizing air leaks begins with tight construction in which all the joints where walls, floors and roofs come together are properly sealed. Weather stripping around doors and windows reduces air flow and prevents dust from entering. Inside, duct work should be properly sealed to prevent air leaks and condensation, and tested to ensure no leaks occur.

Water heating

The U.S. Energy Information Administration indicates that according to a 2009 Residential Energy Consumption Survey, water heating can account for nearly 20 percent of a home’s total energy use. Modern, energy-efficient water heaters can heat the same amount of water as older models, while using less energy. If you’re having a home built for you, ask the builder about installing an energy-efficient water heater. Clayton Homes use water heaters with thicker side walls that have higher insulation values and are better at retaining heat.

Small, yet significant steps

Some steps that seem minor can actually add up to much greater energy efficiency long-term. For example, installing CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs rather than traditional incandescent bulbs wherever possible can help reduce electric bills. CFLs use less energy to produce the same amount of light as incandescent bulbs, and can last much longer.

Programmable thermostats, like the ones Clayton includes standard in many of its manufactured homes, deliver improved comfort and can significantly reduce heating and cooling costs. Reducing temperature settings just seven to 10 degrees for eight hours a day can trim up to 10 percent off your utility bills, according to the Department of Energy. Programmable thermostats automate the process, so you can maintain a more comfortable temperature when needed and automatically change the setting when you’re asleep or away from home.

To learn about energy-efficient manufactured homes, visit www.claytonhomes.com. – (BPT)

 

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