This is it! You’re finally buying a house! The to-do list has never been longer, larger or more exciting. Getting pre-qualified, going through the offer process, passing inspections and, of course, moving in, are all thrilling experiences. Overall, the process is a net positive - otherwise millions of Americans wouldn’t do it. However, just because you can soon look forward to building equity in a property of your own doesn’t mean you can ignore the less-than-exhilarating aspects of home ownership.
Pet wear and tear can sometimes cause permanent damage.
If your new home is in need of repairs, new carpets, or a cleaning service, you can find reputable local service providers through EZBZ. Try it today, it's free, quick, and easy.
Bringing a child into your home is a beautiful experience, and just as you can expect your lifestyle to change as a result, so should your home. As your baby develops and becomes more mobile and curious, they explore, discover, and test every corner of your home.
“Accidental injury is the leading cause of death in kids up to 14 years old — and more than a third of these injuries happen at home,” Staci says, explaining why she became a childproofing professional with Baby Safe Homes Denver.
A professional babyproofer is trained and can help you identify potential hazards in your home you may overlook and reduce the risk of accidents.
Safety latches are an easy way to help prevent your child from accidentally poisoning or harming themselves.
In many cases, it only takes a microscopic amount of a common household liquid to severely harm a child, which is why this tip is so important. Parents should also save the Poison Control number in their phone for easy access in the event of an emergency: 1-800-222-1222.
There are straps available that will prevent furniture from easily tipping over.
Baby Safe Homes Denver strongly recommends hiring a qualified professional to install furniture and TV straps that can help secure the furniture in your home and reduce the risk of a tip-over accident.
"On average, a homeowner will spend 8-12 hours and several trips to a variety of stores only to end up frustrated because the products do not fit or are too difficult to install," Staci says.
If you're looking to save some time and money when babyproofing your home, consider hiring a professional babyproofer such as Baby Safe Homes Denver. If you're in the Greater Denver area, you can contact Staci directly for an in-home consultation on (720) 504-4838.
Recent studies suggest that around 30% of heat loss in your home occurs through your windows. This is a problem in older households especially, as they are more likely to have drafty or energy inefficient windows. While many homeowners opt to replace such windows, this is not always the most practical solution.
A woman installing an Indow window insert, an affordable alternative to window replacement.
Despite their drafty drawbacks, old windows are often more beautiful.
While maintaining old buildings can be an expensive exercise, window inserts are one of the few methods of structural maintenance that is more affordable than the alternative. Jonathan points out that in addition to keeping the aesthetic of your property consistent, the “historical preservation” of a building can be an important aspect of maintaining the character of your neighborhood or town.
When it comes to the various brands and models of window inserts available, Jonathan recommends Indow. Unlike other brands, Jonathan says they require no “alteration of existing frames, construction, track or magnets to install”, which makes them perfect for the preservation of older windows. Jonathan also cites testing at Portland State University that showed Indow inserts typically save 19% in energy costs over single-pane windows.
The search for a local handyman isn’t easy, but the work you put in now will save you big-time later.
The requirements for licensing and registration differ from state to state. Some locales have statewide requirements, while others rely on local jurisdictions to regulate who can perform home maintenance work. This provides protection for both the handyman and the customer in the event something goes wrong. Without licensing and registration, you could be left holding the bag –and with no way to file a complaint or get your money back. In Westchester County for example, you can quickly check whether a handyman has a valid HIC license on the County website. HomeSquare is licensed, to be sure!
Your handyman should always be licensed and insured.
A license alone isn’t enough. Insurance is necessary to protect your investment if something goes wrong. Workers’ compensation covers injuries sustained on the job, while liability and other insurance policies provide an extra layer of protection in case something gets damaged while the work is being completed.
"The best testimonial is glowing feedback from a satisfied customer."
Don't rely on a word of mouth contract with your handyman.
Any honest and trustworthy handyman would be willing to put their numbers to paper. Committing to pricing in writing is a mark of reliability and integrity, especially in an industry where people may feel like they’re vulnerable to scammers or rip-off artists. If necessary, this will also give you proof of the given price.
EZBZ is a great way to find and compare local contractors in your area. Download the app today and try it out yourself. It's free, quick, and easy.
The ability to live a greener lifestyle is at the top of the list for more prospective home buyers than ever before. This is, in part, due to millennial buyers, who currently make up the largest segment of prospective home buyers in the United States.
- providing documentation that clearly shows how the solar panels provide a cost savings for the homeowner, such as showcasing a year of pre-solar energy bills for the home, along with those from a more recent twelve-month period when solar power was in use
- providing a packet of detailed information about the solar panel lease, including the date of installation, the installing company, terms, service plan information, and any applicable warranties or exclusions
- providing information to help prospective buyers understand that the value offered by the solar panels on the home should continue to increase as energy costs and utility bills continue to rise
Looking for a realtor experienced with solar leases? Try using EZBZ - the free concierge service. We'll help you find and compare realtors in your area that match what you're looking for. Download the EZBZ app or call us on 1-855-461-8619 to get started.
It’s no surprise that starting a family has a significant impact on your diet, and it’s not usually for the better. With so many priorities, it’s very easy for parents to neglect their health, a fact reflected in a recent study that claims less than 3% of American adults live a healthy lifestyle.
Jamie Feit has been a nutritionist for over 20 years, and a mom almost as long.
If you like to snack throughout the day, don’t assume you’re a lost cause. Jamie says snacking is “important for several reasons.”
“One meal made of several components should be made for the family [for dinner]; a protein, a starch, a vegetable or salad, and a fruit.” Jamie says. “My kids love vegetables from seeing them on the table from a young age. They never liked chicken nuggets because I never made them.”
Small-bodied and slow moving, the Asp Caterpillar seems harmless. Covered in fluffy hair, you may even think it looks cute. But appearances can be deceiving.
The AACC calls it "one of the most toxic caterpillars in North America."
In short, the Asp caterpillar is terrifying.
Asp Caterpillars are typically only found in the south-east, particularly in Texas, Florida, and Louisiana. They live in trees and bushes, so can typically be found in your garden, yard, or local park. Asps love to feed on oak, maple, elm and sycamore trees, and have been known to fall from high branches on to passersby. They are especially abundant from September to November.
Having trouble with one of your household appliances? There’s no need to panic. Despite rapid advancements in science and technology over the past twenty years, appliance problems are still almost as common as they were then. The difference is that now you have the Internet at your disposal, which means easy access to articles like this one that can help you identify and potentially resolve the issue without hiring an appliance repair professional.
A warm fridge is often cause by dirty condenser coils.
A warm fridge is particularly frustrating as it can feel more time-sensitive than some of the other problems in this list. You don’t want to have to throw away all the food in your fridge just because the repair person was late. While a warm fridge is one of the most common appliance problems that professionals are called to repair, it can often be resolved with just a little elbow grease.
Secondly, unplug the fridge so it is completely off. This is important so you don’t accidentally electrocute or burn yourself. Once the power is off, find the coils on your fridge and clean them thoroughly. A vacuum and brush will be immensely helpful. And that’s it! You’re done. You are free to turn on your fridge again and see if it works.
If your dryer is making a strange sound it should be investigated immediately.
If you hear an unusual sound when using your dryer, the chances are there is something wrong internally that should be fixed as soon as possible. Depending on the specific sound your dryer is emitting, it could be one of the following problems.
A rattling sound in your dryer may be a zipper or button that has fallen in to the dryer vent. Check below your lint filter with a flashlight and clean out anything you find in there. It’s a good idea to do this regularly to keep your dryer clean and healthy.
Dishwasher that Won’t Clean
A dirty dishwasher can be frustrating but is easily fixed.
Dishwashers have one job, so when they aren’t doing it correctly it can be very frustrating. The first thing you should do is make sure that you aren’t over estimating your dishwasher’s abilities. Try putting a smaller load on to wash; if the dishes still come out dirty, you'll need to do some more investigating.
The next thing you should do is give your dishwasher a thorough cleaning. Start with cleaning out the food filter, which you can locate by consulting your dishwasher’s manual. If your filter looks pretty good, the issue may be with the washer’s spray arms. The spray arms are designed to shoot hot water and detergent at the dishes, so it’s very likely they are responsible for the problem.
Spray arms typically have four or more holes that can be easily clogged by a buildup of food or scale deposits from hard water. Cleaning your spray arms can be difficult, but is certainly not a task you need a professional for. The spray arms are also easy to find and remove – most dishwashers have an arm at the top and bottom, but there may also be one in the middle. You can find a detailed tutorial for removing and cleaning dishwasher spray arms here.It’s also a good idea to confirm you are using the right type of detergent for your dishwasher. Using a detergent that is not recommended for your brand and model could be causing multiple problems. Don’t forget to clean out the detergent hatch as well, as a buildup in the dispenser could potentially be the root of your problems.
Gas Burner Not Lighting
Cleaning your gas burner regularly will help keep it functioning efficiently.
Problems with your gas burner are always disconcerting thanks to the omnipresent threat of a gas leak. Suffice to say, if you smell gas or suspect a leak, immediately evacuate the area and call 911.
If you just can’t seem to get the burner to light, there is a less cause for concern. Like a warm fridge or non-functioning dishwasher, the issue will probably be resolved with a little cleaning. It’s easy to spill food when cooking on a gas burner, and this can easily cause a buildup in the ignition port that prevents the flow of gas. By cleaning out your burner you can quickly get your burner working efficiently again.
To get started, disconnect the burner from power. After that, remove the grate and burner cap, both of which should come off easily. This should give you access to the burner’s ignition ports which you can now clean with warm water and soap. Vinegar or baking soda will help with more stubborn blockages. Keep in mind that these are general instructions, so it’s recommended that you consult the manual for cleaning instructions specific to your gas burner.
Replace the parts you removed and give the burner time to dry thoroughly before reconnecting it to power and trying to use it. Your gas burner should work perfectly now.
These are just some of the common appliance problems you can fix without the help of a professional, although the chances are you will still need help from a licensed repair person during the life of one or more of your appliances.If you do need an appliance repair person now, try using EZBZ – the free concierge service. Our team of local business experts can help you find and compare reputable repair professionals in your area. Simply post a request online or through the EZBZ app, or call us on 1-855-46-8619 for a local recommendation.
There are numerous reasons why you may want to add another room to your house. You may need another bedroom because your family is growing, or perhaps you want to add a private bathroom to your master bedroom. Whatever you want to build, be sure to consider the following before starting the process to ensure you won’t have regrets during or after the project is complete:
If you really want an addition to your home, it’s hard not to immediately jump straight into the planning process. Realistically, though, the first thing you should do is ensure you have the funds necessary to complete the project. HomeAdvisor estimates that the average national cost of building an addition is $41,628. Don’t fret if this is beyond your budget, as the cost can vary greatly depending on the type of addition you want and where you live. However, it is likely you will need a minimum of $20,000 regardless of where you live and what you are building.
Once you have a clear budget, it will make every subsequent decision related to the project easier, for example, when deciding on a contractor. Keep in mind that you should hire the company that is most likely to be reliable or do high quality work. Don’t let their quote be your single deciding factor. Hiring an unlicensed contractor because they are more affordable could end up being far more expensive for you in the long-term.
If you’re worried about the cost, you may be able to save money by thinking about what you really want from the project. For example, remodeling an existing room is typically far less expensive than building a new one, if that’s an option. Ask yourself objective questions to confirm that the addition is a smart investment. Will it add value to your home? Will you still be living there in five years?
Local Zoning Laws
Almost every residential area in the United States has their own set of zoning regulations and restrictions. These rules dictate where and what you can build, including additions to your home. While the nature of these laws can be controversial – restricting what you can do with your own property – they are typically not arbitrary. Often, they exist to protect public health, safety, and comfort.
Most residential areas restrict homeowners from building anything within 20 feet of the front of their property, 7.5 feet on the sides, or 15 feet from the back.
The best way to learn what zoning restrictions you must adhere to is to contact your local municipal planning or building department. A real estate attorney would also be able to answer any questions you have, and can even help you fight some restrictions. Of course, this is another expense that your budget will need to cover.
Thinking critically about the design of your new room can help you save time and money, not to mention ensuring that you will get what you want out of the project. Will the addition be detached or built in? Will you use new materials or attempt to blend the addition in with the rest of your home?
For medium to large scale additions, it is recommended that you consult an architect. An architect will help you confirm the addition will add value to your home and can be integrated seamlessly. They will help you make important decisions and can work in collaboration with your construction company to get the best results.
A Contingency Plan
Construction is inevitably loud, messy, and long. If it’s happening within your home while you live there, it will likely be extremely inconvenient to you and your family. If you start thinking about the impact the project will have on your daily life in advance, it will be easier for you to make the construction process as stress-free as possible. For instance, if you know it will be hard to live in your home while the construction is underway, you can include temporary accommodation in your budget.
Christa Mruz is the owner and operator of Two Maids & A Mop of White Plains, a residential cleaning company serving all of Westchester County, New York. Prior to owning her own cleaning company, Christa had an extensive career in the corporate world. She is a PTA Mom and lives in Scarsdale, NY with her two young children and hardworking husband.
You gotta love spring. The weather is warm, flowers are blooming, and it’s time to put away the large winter coats and re-emerge outside. Many of us also see spring as an appropriate time to clean out the cob-webs in our home.
As the owner of a residential cleaning service in Westchester County, New York, I clean houses all year-round, and have learned plenty of lessons about how to do my job effectively and quickly. Here are my five top tips to help you with your own spring cleaning:
1. Declutter and organize your house first
Putting seasonal clothing in storage will help you save space
Over time, we collect things that we no longer need or find useful. We might have winter coats and sweaters that we don’t need during the warmer months, and need a place to store them. Take the time to go through your house and locate the items you no longer need, and the seasonal items that require storage. This not only makes you feel like you have more space in your home, but will help you get the most out of dusting, mopping, and vacuuming because you will have a large surface area to clean.
2. Dedicate a block of time to cleaning
Time-management will help ensure your clean is completed in one session
Cleaning can be a chore, but it can also be a satisfying experience once you see the fruits of your labor. Sometimes, if you only clean sporadically, the whole house never gets done; it becomes a protracted project with no end in sight. I recommend blocking off a specific time over a weekend or a few days to clean the entire house. You are more likely to finish and will feel much more satisfied.
3. Call in reinforcements to help
Cleaning together with your family can be a great bonding experience
There is nothing more daunting than cleaning an entire house by yourself. Whether you get your family to pitch in, or hire a professional to get the job done – a little help goes along way! It will make your cleaning time more manageable and could even turn into a fun experience to share with your family. My company – Two Maids & a Mop – always sends teams of two cleaners to ensure a prompt and consistent clean.
4. Assess each room and make a plan
Assess how much cleaning each room in your home will require prior to starting
Don’t just jump into cleaning a room! Go around your home first and take note of what needs to be cleaned in each room. Be sure to look at the ceilings, light fixtures, furniture, cupboards, and floor. Determining out how much you have to do (and what cleaning supplies you will need) before you start will help you save time and complete the clean in one session. After you’ve confirmed what needs to be done, gather your cleaning equipment and start with the hardest room first.
5. Use the Right Tools
A dust mop is great for cleaning hardwood floors
There are plenty of cleaning tools available that will last a long time, help you clean effectively, and won’t break the bank. We like to use high dusters to clean ceiling fans and light fixtures and to remove cob webs from corners where walls meet. If you have hardwood floors, invest in a good dust mop. It will make your floors shine without scratching them. A powerful vacuum will help you clean wall-to-wall carpet. Lastly, microfiber cloths are great for dusting. They pick up the dust easily while things like rags or paper towel merely move it around. Add a little furniture polish to your microfiber rag and your furniture will look brand new.
I hope these tips help you with the spring cleaning of your home, and any future house cleaning efforts. Now, get it over and done with so you can start enjoying this fine spring weather!
Looking for a professional to help you with your spring cleaning? Download the EZBZ App for free and we'll connect you with reputable cleaning services in your area, who will chat with you directly through the app. You can also call our concierge team for a local recommendation on 1-855-461-8619.
House plants are awesome. They make your home look pretty, they can clean the air of nasty toxins, and even NASA recommends having them. However, there are hundreds of options, and picking hastily could be costly; there are many popular indoor plants that are dangerous to keep in a house with children or pets, not to mention the plants that require lots of care.
To save you some time, we did the research ourselves and put together this list of the ten best indoor plants for your home, especially if you have kids. We used the ASPCA’s free database of pet-friendly plants to verify which of the following are toxic to pets.
1. PEACE LILY
Spathiphyllum Cochlearispatum; toxic to cats & dogs
If you think the Peace Lily sounds like a calming and easy plant to care for, you’re right. Peace lilies prefer only partial sunlight and don’t need much water - just a little bit once a week. They’re also highly recommended by NASA due to their ability to control the levels of formaldehyde, benzene and carbon monoxide in the air. Aesthetically, they’re graceful. They bloom in the early summer – a tall white flower that will droop to let you know when it’s thirsty.
2. CAST IRON PLANT
The cast iron plant is perfect if you have almost no time to care for another living thing in your life. Unlike your kids, the cast iron plant is extremely resilient and tolerant of neglect. It can survive under conditions that would make most plants wither and die, which makes it an ideal choice for anyone short on time. Keep it out of direct sunlight in a pot with good drainage.
3. ALOE PLANT
Aloe Vera; toxic to cats & dogs.
Anyone who’s spent too long in the sun already knows the benefits of having easy access to aloe vera extract. It’s a common ingredient in consumer products, often marketed as a natural remedy for minor burns and sunburn. The aloe plant is also a popular indoor plant, and for good reason. It requires little maintenance when potted inside – ironically, it burns if exposed to too much sun – and too much water will cause the plant to shrivel. The aloe plant is also a natural air purifier, helping to clear the air inside your home of certain pollutants. Watch out for brown spots on the leaves that indicate there are too many pollutants in the air for the plant to handle.
Click here to learn how to extract your own aloe vera gel.
4. SNAKE PLANT
Sansaveria Trifasciata; toxic to cats & dogs
The snake plant has also been called the “mother-in-law’s tongue” plant, but don’t let that stop you from keeping this plant in your home. The snake plant has stiff, sword-shaped leaves that grow up to 3 or 4 feet long, and is extremely easy to care for. They require very little water and sunlight, and while most plants convert carbon dioxide into oxygen during the day, the snake plant does so at night, so it’s an excellent choice for the bedroom.
5. CHRISTMAS CACTUS
Even before you know its name, you can tell this plant exudes positive energy. The Christmas cactus has bright green hanging branches (that can grow over 30 inches long), and pink petaled flowers. The cactus blooms around Christmas every year, hence its name. Aside from its visual appeal, the Christmas cactus is also relatively easy to care for; partial sunlight and weekly watering will do the trick. For optimum care, follow these instructions.
6. AFRICAN VIOLET
African Violets are another stunning houseplant; however, they require a little more care than some of the other plants on this list. For optimum blooms, they should be kept in partial sunlight for only 10 to 14 hours each day. The best way to achieve this without moving your plant every day is to keep it in a south or west-facing window during winter, and a north or east-facing window during summer. The pot soil should be consistently moist (but be careful not to over-water), and like a picky restaurant customer, they prefer room-temperature water. It’s also recommended to re-pot them every year. While it takes extra care, once you have a blooming pot of African violets in your window sill, you’ll know it was worth it.
7. JADE PLANT
Crassula Ovata; toxic to cats & dogs.
The jade plant is another plant perfect for your windowsill, and while it’s easier to care for than an African violet, it’s not quite as nice to look at. The jade plant loves sunlight, doesn’t need much water, and can live for over 100 years. They are also considered to be a symbol of good luck.
8. ZEBRA PLANT
The Zebra plant is a striking choice for your home due to its prominent white veins and brightly colored flowers. It requires similar care to the African violet – lukewarm water, moist soil and bright but indirect light for most of the day – and just like the violet, the beauty of this plant is worth the work.
9. RUBBER TREE PLANT
10. SPIDER PLANT
The spider plant is another great air purifier, and its green foliage and small white flowers make it an aesthetically pleasing choice. It’s also hard to let this plant die, as they only require indirect sunlight and the occasional watering. Plus, if you like this plant so much that you want another one, all you have to do is cut off a “spider” frond and plant it in its own pot. Before long, you’ll have two pretty little spider plants that you keep forgetting to water.Looking for a local nursery or store where you can get an indoor plant? The EZBZ app can help. Just type in what you’re looking for and we’ll connect you with businesses in your area that can help, who will reply to you directly through the app. You can also call our concierge team toll-free on 1-855-461-8619 for a local recommendation.
Spring has well and truly started, and what better way to celebrate the arrival of longer evenings and warmer temperatures than a party outside? We’ve prepared a helpful list of things to consider when planning your first outdoor party of the year.
So, you’ve decided you’d like to host an outdoor party. Logically, the first thing to consider is the space – what are you working with? Is your yard well-kept and aesthetically pleasing? Do you have a wet-weather fallback plan? How is the lighting? These are just some of the questions you need to ask yourself before you send out the invitations.
Hiring a landscaper can be a cost-effective way to ensure your yard is ready in time for the party, without having to get your hands dirty. They may even have some ideas for how you can decorate the space for the event.
Rugs, throw cushions, and outdoor furniture can make your space a more attractive party zone. You also don’t have to spend a fortune - thrift stores often have cheap, retro items that can give your party a comfortable vintage theme. When it comes to lighting, lanterns, tea lights, and even citronella candles are popular choices for outdoor parties, although they can be a fire hazard.
Do you have a patio? If not, you may consider adding one. If you’re going to be hosting a few outdoor events this season, it could be worth it. A patio will increase the value of your home and will certainly help in the event of wet weather. Speaking of rain, it’s a good idea to prepare the inside of your home in case poor weather drives your guests indoors.
Think carefully about who you’re inviting to your party, as the final list of guests will help you make other decisions such as what food and drink to provide, what the theme should be, how to decorate the space etc.
It’s also a good idea to inform your neighbors you’re hosting an event. It’s not essential to invite them, but a warning in advance goes a long way to ensuring the party doesn’t disrupt your relationship with your neighbors. They’ll still live nearby long after your guests have left.
The food you serve can make or break your party, so it’s important to think carefully about what your guests may like to eat. Nostalgic hors d’oeuvres like cheese and mini-quiches are coming back in style, and finger food in general is a very popular choice when it comes to outdoor events. Just make sure you have plenty to go around – it’s hard to have fun when you’re hungry.
Hiring a professional caterer will save you lots of time and stress through all stages of the event, but there’s no need to fear if this is not in your budget. For a simple get together, using a grill can be easy and cost-effective.
Remember to lay out napkins, wet wipes, and plenty of trash receptacles so that your guests can clean their hands after eating and dispose of their leftovers easily. Food waste that is not disposed of correctly may cause some uninvited guests to crash the party and stay long after it's over.
The Dry Run
A week or so before the event, it’s wise to test your planning with a dry run. Spend time outside to make sure the weather is comfortable, or if you will need some windbreaks or even a fire. Is the lighting you’ve prepared adequate after dark? How easy is it to find your way to the restroom? A dry run is a great way to reassure yourself you’ve done everything in your power to make the event a success. And if you haven’t, it provides an opportunity to remedy any mistakes before it’s too late.
The EZBZ app is a great tool for planning parties. Simply type in what you need – whether it’s a caterer, landscaper, or some wood for a fire – and we’ll connect you with local businesses that can help, who will reply to you directly through the app. It’s a fast, easy way to find the things you need.
Fulda Kocher from Best Boca Raton Landscaping writes about how they recently transformed an overgrown alley in their building in to a beautiful garden.
When visiting my son in the city, my suburban bulldog needed greenery for peeing. Solution: the ground floor weedy alley off a 16-car garage. As she did her duty, I observed the premises. Being a constant gardener is a hard habit to break. So, when I moved to the first floor of said son’s building, a transformation of the abominable alley was a natural. It had become my walkway to the garage.
Inventory of assets: a fabulous old brick wall; facing the wall, a structural indentation that begged for a small deck. Drawbacks: a narrow 12’x20’ space, a far end fire escape ladder requiring an 8’ emergency access, a crumbling concrete floor and limited sun. Solution: go vertical, plant pots, use an old outdoor rug for floor cover.
With a symmetrical plan, three substantial metal plant troughs, evenly spaced, were attached to the main wall section as the focal point. A search of Pier One Imports landed a bronzed metal sun. Above the middle trough, it’s warmly perched. On each side of the sun, two hoarded (but fancy) wrought iron embellishments serve to accentuate it. Down the far-right wall, near the escape, a lintel rescued from a dumpster adorns a bricked-in window. This is the view from my bathroom window.
Fulda Kocher’s finished alley-garden.
Then, to ground level. Below the sun, I flipped a wrought iron table base upside down and filled the space with old metal baskets lined with cocoa fiber and dirt for a planter. Arranging it with ferns, coleus and Solomon’s Seal, I added annuals at whim. I painted two trashed plastic nursery bins for huge hyrdrangea trees below two metal wall accents. Smaller perennials at various heights filled in the effect with lots of foliage, all from sale finds I made when scoping out nurseries. Mixed leaf colors and textures keep a lively presentation yet the consistency of the plants anchors the scene. Colorful coleus amp up as flowers fade. Hardy Hosta plants stay steadily profuse. An ornamental evergreen and large rhododendron are stoic. A climbing rose and a rose tree are surprisingly robust when nourished and watered faithfully. They fill in the blanks.
Toward the garage door, far alley end: On each side, two tall wrought iron chairs hold potted dogwood trees from Kmart. High above each tree are arched “windows” (wood, metal, mirrored) lend an architectural vibe. When entering the garden, a quality fabric peacock windmill twirls on a tall deck pole, welcoming like a pet. I’m smitten.Looking for a landscaper to transform your garden? Try using EZBZ – the free concierge. You can post a request on our app or website, or call us toll-free for a local recommendation on 1-855-461-8619.
We’re nearing the halfway point of winter, and whether you’ve been dealing with rain, snow, or just colder temperatures, it’s time to see how your home and landscaping are making it through. Better to catch and fix any problems now before they escalate.
Here's a checklist to guide you:
Naturally, you’ll call a professional to repair the roof if you’ve already got any leaks, but if not, do a perimeter check (with binoculars if necessary) to see if you’ve got any missing or warped shingles or broken tiles and have them replaced as soon as possible before water finds its way in.
No one would suggest that you climb up on the roof yourself to check further, but if the weather has been particularly harsh where you are, schedule an inspection. Some companies will do this for free, others will charge and apply the fee to any repairs.
2. Gutters and Downspouts
Clear gutters of debris that could cause water to pool and cause leaks and mold. While you’re at it, check to see that they and the downspouts are still affixed firmly. The weight of snow and ice could have begun pulling them away.
3. Vents and Other Openings
Do a walk-around to make sure that all exterior vent covers are still in place. Cold and wet weather drives all manner of critters to find safe, warm places to nest, and you don’t need any freeloading tenants. Once you’ve finished examining the outside of the house, head on up to the attic and check vents and openings there, too.
4. Fireplace and Chimney
If you didn’t have your chimney cleaned before you began using the fireplace this winter, call a chimney sweep to do the job. If your fireplace gets a lot of use, it could have a dangerous buildup of creosote, the highly flammable oil produced by wood smoke, and that coating can ignite and cause a damaging fire that, as well as threatening your life, can cost thousands in chimney repairs.
5. Heating System
You probably don’t have to check to see if your heater is working, because you’d be reading this with mittens on. But if the system has been going full blast for several months, it’s a good idea to replace the filters. If you’ve been making do with an old non-programmable thermostat that doesn’t regulate the temperature evenly, it’s also wise to replace it with one that maintains the temperature and saves you money.
6. Plumbing and Pipes
If your area has seen below-freezing weather, water could have built up and frozen inside pipes and begun to cause cracks. Creaking and odd noises from the plumbing could indicate impending breaks and leaks. Get the plumber out there now to check things over before you wake up to a flood.
Winter is a hectic time. Investing in a professional lawn service is a great idea for homeowners who are too busy to devote hours of work to their yard as even in locations with a mild winter season, your landscape can take a beating.
To make sure your lawn is in the best shape possible to survive and thrive during the wait for spring, pick up fallen branches and any other objects that will add to soil compression, keep the lawn raked as possible to remove hiding spots that encourage pests and disease, and avoid foot traffic on snow-laden or soggy soil. On the other hand, if there hasn’t been any precipitation in a while, don’t forget to water.
Broken or damaged branches can pack a wallop if they go flying during the strong winds of a storm. It’s dangerous to prune large or high branches yourself, so hire professionals who are experienced in climbing and using heavy equipment.
If you’re doing any pruning yourself, avoid stressing the tree and lop off just what’s necessary, like damaged or diseased branches, branches that are crossing each other or growing inward, and branches that are growing in odd directions. Never remove more than 25 percent of a tree’s branches.
It’s better late than never to lay a good cover of mulch around all of your plants to protect roots from harsh temperatures that are still to come as well as keep weeds from sprouting later. Don’t cover the trunks of shrubs and trees, though, because mulch holds moisture and can cause rot.
If you’re looking for a local professional to help you with any of the above tasks, consider asking EZBZ – the free concierge service. You can request a service through our app or website, or call us toll-free for a local business recommendation on 1-855-461-8619.
|Kayla Goldstein is a home remodeling and design professional. Her firm, Kayla LLC, specializes in small scale architecture projects and large scale interior design projects.|
Samantha Fox, an English singer and model from the 1980s, once said, “It’s different cultures that make the world go ‘round.”
Although she is not a typical role model for me, this quote stood out as something I identify strongly with. As an architect and interior designer, I am always looking to find new design ideas or unique projects. The most interesting designs are usually found in the farthest places you would look. For example, in Australia.
I was born in Australia, and have always felt a connection to this country. In my opinion, Australia is a truly beautiful place, and boasts many architectural marvels and beautiful designs.
While looking at design and architecture in Australia, I noticed that besides being modern and very up to date with the trends of the day, it is also a very traditional country rich with history. Many people that live there are enriched with a culture some would find fascinating. Take the Aborigines for example; no matter how modern their buildings are, they still always manage to keep something from their culture in every aspect of design. There is even a design firm dedicated to keeping this culture alive in Australia. Iredale Pederson Hook have worked for years to create buildings that blend Indigenous culture with the modern world of design.
While the Aboriginal Australian community has suffered some horrendous setbacks as a result of European settlement, their culture still plays a vital role in modern day Australia. The building shown above is a school for Aboriginal children. It is heartwarming to see how much thought went into making sure these children feel comfortable and at ease.
In addition to making sure culture and tradition is preserved, many Australian designers also know how to make a room up-to-date and gorgeous. While reading about design awards and famous Australian architects, I stumbled across a picture of the room featured below. Now, I fully intended to write about an architect that I liked, or a famous building in Sydney. However, I could not get this room out of my mind, I decided if it was that great it was worth writing about and I dived in.
The room below was designed by Mim Design, An Australian company that strives to provide inspiring and new designs that surprise the senses. In my opinion they have completely succeeded.
I think the first thing that captured me in this space was the painting. The room is so minimalistic and white, and then this painting just arrives and splashes color into the room so perfectly that it’s as if it was there to begin with. One of the base lessons taught in interior design is that a color themed room should have a 60-30-10 split. There should be the base, the compliment, and the surprise. What I love about this room is that the surprise takes over the color scheme perfectly keeping it at 10% yet grabbing focus as if it was 90% of the room.
I also really like the chair found on the opposite side of the room. In a way, it keeps the eye balanced so we are not just focused on one side. The chair draws attention with its furry plush seat while keeping in the theme of the room with its minimalistic base. It manages to be different and the same all at once with the different textures and the throw pillow matching the painting. Surprising indeed, yet still so calming and harmoniously beautiful.
I think this room is so perfect and attention grabbing because the designer really put thought into making sure it is comfortable for the mind, as well as the body. While white is relaxing, and minimalistic design can open the brain to creativity, we all still need something to ground us in this world. The frame on the table and door, and the design on the throw pillows does just that. It throws in a little bit of metal and black so that it does not feel like you are sitting on a cloud.
I, for one, was really impressed with Australian designers for keeping culture a part of their design process and still managing to make up to date modern designs. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all tried to implement our backgrounds and history into our homes? What better way to make our house a unique place for us to call home? One can accomplish this by placing small trinkets around the house that come from your hometown, or by using a certain style design that is used in the country you were born. There really is no limit to what you can do.
Looking for a reputable architect in your area that can emulate Australian design? Try asking on EZBZ - the free concierge service. You can post a request through our website or app, or simply call us for a local recommendation on 1-855-461-8619.
|We spoke with Karl Bagwell, owner of southeastern Connecticut’s Yankee Remodeler, about how to tell the difference between a good contractor and a bad one.|
Everyone knows someone who has a bad contractor story, and even more bad contractor stories can be found online. A quick Google search for “bad contractor stories” brings up over two million hits, including the Home and Garden DIY site, which has 25 bad contracting stories ranging from an electrician who did not install an on/off switch for a light because the homeowner had not requested one, to a contractor who ignored a homeowner’s request to cover a workspace then claimed the workspace was dirty before they started, to contractors taking deposits and never returning. Stories of people scammed by contractors make good TV news stories. Good contracting stories are much harder to find, but it is not hard to find a great contractor as long as you follow a few simple guidelines.
They Give You an Estimate In Writing
A great contractor will give you an estimate in writing. They say a verbal contract is not worth the paper it’s printed on. A great contractor will put their quote in black and white. It’s not just a matter of trustworthiness either. Sometimes putting things on paper can reveal a miscommunication before it’s too late. If you expect them to install four windows, and the quote says two, then you can clear things up right off the bat.They Are Easy to Communicate With
A great contractor should be easy to communicate with, and that means that they are more than a P.O. Box. Yankee Remodeler is more than just a website, and Bagwell explains the advantage of that. “It helps if you have a brick and mortar building. If there’s a physical location, then you could just come down and knock on our door. We’re more accessible.” You should be able to reach them by phone as well. You should be able to talk with them, not leave a message with an answering service.They Sign a Contract
A great contractor will sign a contract with you. Bagwell explains that the contract “should have a start and completion date.” This gives all parties involved a timetable to work on and an expectation of when work will be finished. The contract also states what you want and what the contractor will do. According to findlaw.com, other items in the contract should include the specific materials to be used, when equipment will be used as well as where equipment and supplies will be stored when not in use, whose responsibility it is if there is theft of or damage to equipment or supplies, a provision or amendments in case changes need to be made or unforeseen circumstances affect the stated completion time of the project, guarantees and warranties related to the project, payment plans, information on subcontractors and suppliers, and provisions for any potential disputes that may arise.They Ask for a Reasonable Deposit
A great contractor will ask for a deposit, but they don’t ask for the majority of the money upfront. “Never pay the bill until you’re satisfied,” advises Bagwell. “It’s okay to wait a week to look over the work.”They are Licensed and Insured
A great contractor is licensed and insured for the state they’re working in and have that state’s required insurances and are willing to show you these documents. They also follow your state’s requirements for permits and don’t try to talk you out of getting one when it is required by your city or town.They Are Safe
A great contractor follows OSHA guidelines on the worksite and their workers are properly dressed for their jobs and create a safe environment.
They Refuse to Put Their Estimate In Writing
Be suspicious of a contractor who will not put their estimate in black and white for you. It either means that they are trying to hide something or that they are not organized enough to be able to effectively estimate the cost of the job. Either way, they are probably not the right choice to take care of your job.They Approach You
They approach you, usually door to door, and offer to do the work for a substantially lower price in exchange for using your home in an ad or for exposure. Another door-to-door scam is to approach you and tell you that they’re working in the area and have left over materials or extra time and can do some inexpensive work for you right then and there. Every contractor is trying to find more business, but it is quite uncommon for one to be out knocking on doors.Bad Paperwork and Process
Beware of a contractor that doesn’t dot their i’s and cross their t’s, or, worse, doesn’t even have any i’s to dot because nothing is on paper. If they refuse to sign a contract or tell you that you don’t need one, that’s a red flag. Another is if they request that you get any needed permits, instead of them taking care of it. Even worse is if they try to get you to let them do the work without permits at all. They may charge you to do work they should have done when hired. This recently happened to Jig Sprocket, of New Jersey: “Initially one radiator was leaking at an elbow on the inlet. This was charged about $180… Possibly the water supply got stuck. It was a lot of water or some other steam venting problem. Plumber replaced it but never bled the system. He leaves but the steam radiators fail to heat up. He then asks for $500 to replace the vent valves on the radiator.”They Ask For A Excessive Deposit
You should be suspicious if they request the majority or all of the payment upfront. This is especially true if they ask for payment via cash or a check made out to a person instead of a company.Poor References or No References
They have poor references or no references at all. Be sure to check online at sites like EZBZ, Yelp, and the Better Business Bureau and to ask friends and family. The sites where the reviews are linked to the user’s identity are more reliable, which is why an EZBZ user must have their account linked to Facebook to Vouch for a business. A great contractor will be able to provide you with references from former clients. Don’t hesitate to ask.High Pressure Sales
Beware if a contractor pressures you to make a decision immediately and discourages you from getting estimates from other businesses or from seeing their license and insurance information.
Other Tips to Help You Find a Great Contractor:
2. They usually have a waiting list. Good contractors are in demand, so you may need to look for one well before you intend to start remodeling.
3. They’ve been in business for at least three years. According to an article by marketwatch.com, about 30% of businesses go out of business every year. Some independent contractors join firms and some may fail due to the economic environment, but some may change their names often “ to dodge business problems and irate clients.”
4. Look for a contractor who’s right for your project. A contractor who specializes in industrial work will not be familiar with residential work, and one who specializes in plumbing may not have the background to fix your shingles. Be sure to ask what experience they have with your particular type of project.
5. Check out YouTube. Many contractors and some insurance companies, like Travelers, have videos giving advice on finding and working with contractors as well as red flags that may come up while searching for a contractor.
If you need to find a reputable contractor for a commercial or residential project, try EZBZ’s free concierge service. You can post a request through our website or app, or call us toll-free on 1-855-461-8619 for a local recommendation. Visit the EZBZ website to learn more: www.myezbz.com.
|Natalya Kofi from Portland Movers Company shared some tips with us about how to avoid going over budget on your next move.|
If you are planning to move, it’s likely that you have already made a moving checklist with properly calculated moving expenses. From the gas and cleaners, to the packers and movers, you have anticipated the costs you are likely to incur. Unfortunately, moving is a complex process and you may end up spending more than you have planned for. Some of the unexpected moving expenses you should anticipate to avoid going over your budget include:
Unbudgeted Storage Space
You may realize that your new home is too small right after moving in and may need extra storage space for your belongings. Whether you consider it as short-term or long-term storage space, the truth is you will incur costs to acquire a suitable storage space.
When moving, you may leave some of the old appliances and household items behind to make a change in you your new house. When unpacking you may also realize that some of the things you left behind played a good part in your home. Replacement for these items could be costly. Refurnishing your new home will also inevitably strain your budget, not to mention stocking up on minor items like laundry supplies, power extensions, dust bins, empty packages. It’s a good idea to set aside money well in advance for these expenses.
There’s no doubt that you need utilities such as water, electricity and gas in your home. Moving into a new house can increase the cost of these services. For example, moving to a larger house could mean a higher electricity bill. Some utility providers may also charge you for installation and transfer services.
Changes in Insurance Rates or Coverage
Whether it is your health, car, or rental, your residential address affects your insurance rates. Moving could also prompt you to change your insurance company if your current provider does not service your new location. This could cause a change in your budget so prepare for that. This could actually be a positive thing, if you are forced to change to a company with a lower insurance rate.
As much as you try to account for every cost, it is hard to anticipate every moving expense. Set aside some money for needs that you may not predict beforehand. These costs may be less, but could be a big deal after they add up to significant costs. Preparing ahead will help you swerve smoothly.
Moving comes with a lot of changes and can be stressful. Planning ahead will help you anticipate you expenses and allocate resources accordingly. As you plan, make sure you give yourself allowance for things you may not anticipate now for an easy moving process.Portland Movers Company is a BBB-accredited full service moving company. They offer free estimates and service the entire state of Oregon. Visit their website for more information: portlandmoversco.com.
Looking for a moving company somewhere else? EZBZ is a free concierge service that can connect you with reputable moving companies anywhere in the US. Submit a request on our website, app, or call us for a local recommendation on 1-855-461-8619.
Third Floor Corporation is a full-service construction company in New York’s Hudson Valley. Started by master builder, Ben Fiering, in 1993, the company specializes in the restoration of classic and modern architecture. Click here to learn more.
Ben “Doctor Structure” Fiering, the master builder at Third Floor Corporation, knows better than most that good things take time.
“We try to be mindful of the time, but…” says Ben, before trailing off. He chooses his next words carefully.
“The things we build are going to last forever.”
After five minutes of speaking with Ben, it’s clear that he’s passionate about the construction and restoration work his company does every day. He’s not shy about admitting that high quality work is their number one priority.
Ben started Third Floor Corporation in 1993, but he’s been in the industry since the early eighties, when he started working construction while studying social history at college. His passion for building things had been kindled even earlier than that by his father, Norman Fiering, a skilled carpentry hobbyist.
A recent project completed by Third Floor Corporation. Architecture by David Wallance.
Third Floor Corporation was started in Manhattan, and their first project was converting old warehouse space in to a three-unit live/work space for artists. Today, they are a full-service construction and general contracting company serving private residential clients in New York’s Hudson Valley.
“I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world,” Ben says of the Valley. In his spare time, Ben enjoys exploring the area's abundance of nature, photography, playing guitar, and studying the history of art, craft, and architecture.
Ben "Doctor Structure" Fiering at work.
From the way Ben talks about his line of work, it’s clear that Third Floor Corporation are not your average construction company. They specialize in structural repair, and the restoration of both classic and modern architecture.
“[We have] an intimate understanding of the challenges involved in the restoration of antique buildings,” Ben says, when describing what separates his company from others. He speaks with pride and admiration when talking about his staff, the trademark of a business owner that treats his employees with respect.
With over thirty years in the workforce, though, Ben is the first to admit he’s faced some challenges.
“Maintaining a stable workflow depending on changes in the economy is a challenge.”
While 2017 is sure to hold some challenges of its own, Ben does not seem fazed. Perhaps it’s because building things is more than a job, for Ben; it’s a passion he inherited from his father.
“I grew up doing this work… I’ve always enjoyed making things.”
If you’re interested in discussing a project with Ben from Third Floor Corporation you can reach him on (914) 263 6148 or at email@example.com. You can also follow Ben on Twitter as @Dr_Structure.Looking for something else? Submit a free request on EZBZ for what you need and where you need it, and we’ll get you quotes from providers in your area. Try it out today at myezbz.com.
As always, EZBZ is here to help. Just put in a request for snow removal and we'll find quality contractors for you.
I'll even make it easy for you by writing out the inquiry for you. Just cut and paste this right into the concierge box: I would like to contract with a snow removal company to plow my home's driveway throughout the winter.
Even though you driveway is plowed, that won't do you any good if your car is not ready for winter! If your car is newer, you may be in need of snow tires, but if your car is a little more experienced, then it might be wise to get a pre-winter check up. You don't want to find out when it's twenty below zero that your battery is losing its oomph.
For our readers down in the warm, southern states, you are still welcome to use EZBZ to find a caterer for your beach party.
But what about the unexpected? With family on their way and the turkey in the oven, you don't have time to deal with a clogged sink or busted water heater.
Here's the thing. Once you have a professional on the way to fix what broke, you can get back to your preparations. The repair person shows up, and you show them to the way to where they need to go. You can leave them to their work while you to yours. The hard part is getting in touch with that repair man or woman, especially for an emergency job.
That's where EZBZ comes in. Especially around the holidays, you are way too busy to be searching on Google and filling out web forms and making calls. Let us make it easy for you. Just put what you need in the concierge box, and let us do the rest for you.
What about those real emergencies where you absolutely must get in touch with a business? EZBZ offers a Personal Assistant service. For only $5, EZBZ guarantees 5 responses in 2 hours or your money back. When we put "Your Problem, Solved" on our web site, it's not just a tag line. It's a promise.
It’s already October, and the hustle and bustle of the holidays are right around the corner. For homeowners with a family, this time of year can be very expensive. Click here for some tips on how you can save money over the holiday season:
Every year October seems to arrive earlier than expected, and the hustle and bustle of the holidays are right around the corner. What can also happen fast is how quickly your budget for fall and winter disappears before you’ve even made it to December. Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas absorb enough money on their own, let alone the expenses that the harsh weather can incur during the colder seasons. For homeowners with a family, the most wonderful time of the year is also the most expensive.
Here are some tips on how you can save money over the holiday season:
Check Discount Sites & Apps
These days there are countless websites and apps that exist purely to help you save money. There are the heavyweights like Groupon and Amazon, but don’t be afraid to dig a little deeper to find those less well-known services that could save you some real dough. For example, My City Mommy is a great coupon site for moms all over the country – they have a local coupon website for nearly 40 metro areas including Saint Louis and Dallas-Fort Worth. The EZBZ Store also often has great deals on products and services that are sometimes even cheaper than Amazon.
Don’t forget that most business owners know how expensive this time of year can be and are willing to offer some great discounts if it means you’ll choose them over a competitor. For example, some grocery stores will offer a free or discounted thanksgiving turkey if you purchase a certain amount of groceries from them. For families that already spend a lot on groceries, this is a perfect opportunity to capitalize. When visiting a local business, don’t be afraid to ask if they are offering any seasonal discounts or specials.
Create your own Decorations
With websites like YouTube and Pinterest, it is easier than ever for parents and children to get hands-on with their holiday decorations. Many sites provide affordable ways to use dollar stores and thrift stores to find supplies so that you can create your own decorations for your home. Creating your own decorations is a great activity to do as a family, giving you a sense of accomplishment and making the holiday décor much more meaningful.
Get Ahead of Next Year
Planning ahead is the first step to saving money, and this is especially relevant during the holiday season. Halloween and Christmas decorations are almost always on sale on the days following the holiday, sometimes with up to 80% off. In fact, these sales aren’t just for decorations – you can buy all kinds of unopened and unwanted gifts from secondhand stores in the days following Christmas for a discounted price. Valentine’s Day cards can also be purchased for as little as thirty cents on Feburary 15, so why not buy them in advance for next year?
EZBZ's free concierge service allows you to request anything and receive quotes back from providers in your area. It’s a great comparison tool to ensure you’re getting the best deal for every purchase or hire you make. In the fall and winter, it’s a great way to get quotes from snow removal services, HVAC contractors, and other professional services that can vary from provider to provider. Businesses can also only reply to you via EZBZ – your contact information is not shared with anyone so you can remain anonymous while comparing your options.
The best part is, if you hire a business through EZBZ, you'll get $5 cash back. So, if you’re looking to hire a contractor or professional service anyway, submitting a free request could end up saving you some time and money.
With some careful planning and a little research, these tips are sure to provide you and your family with a joyful & affordable holiday season. Good luck and happy holidays!
Not every home needs a regular, professional cleaning, but often the benefits are well and truly worth the cost. Click here to learn more about the positives of hiring a cleaning service or house keeper.
Not every home needs a professional cleaning service, but in a household with two or more working adults and dependents (e.g. children, pets), chores can quickly become a time-consuming and stressful aspect of everyday life. Hiring a cleaning service is obviously going to cost money, but it may be more affordable and worthwhile than you expect. Here are some of the benefits of investing in a house keeper or cleaning service:
While the average cleaning service costs somewhere between $20-$50 an hour, it is possible to find services that can work with smaller budgets. You can also cut out some of the costs by planning ahead what you need assistance with. Prepare a list of the jobs you would like completed, and be sure to omit the chores that aren’t necessary or that you are happy to do yourself, for example making beds or ironing. By specifying exactly what you need and expect from the service, you are more likely to be satisfied with the cost and quality of the job. By utilizing a regular cleaning service, you are also ensuring your home is consistently clean, which can help you save money on repair, pest control, and even your health.
If every adult in your household works full or even part-time, it can be hard to find the time to take care of the day-to-day maintenance that every home requires. It has been scientifically proven (not really) that after a long day at work, the last thing anyone feels like doing is household chores. Hiring a housekeeper or cleaning service to take care of these tasks means that you can come home from work and focus on more important things. If you’re still unsure, compare quotes from several cleaning services and ask yourself the following question: is your time worth more than the cost of a cleaning service?
Don’t be Afraid to Entertain
One of the best perks of having a neat and tidy home is the confidence it gives you to entertain guests whenever you want. If you don’t have the budget for a weekly clean, you may just want to hire a service to clean your home before and after every event you host. This gives you more time and energy to focus on other, more important aspects of planning an event, such as the food or your outfit.
Experts do a Better Job
While you may take pride in your mopping skills, there’s a good chance you’re not very passionate or excited about cleaning if you’re considering hiring a cleaning service. A professional cleaner will typically have access to professional-grade equipment, not to mention a wealth of experience, when they come to clean your home, which means they will ideally make your home cleaner than you’ve ever seen it. Of course, it’s also a good idea to ensure that the professional you are hiring is actually a professional – be sure to check out any reviews they have online, and if they don’t have any, ask them for a reference or two. It’s worth your while to be thorough in the hiring process to ensure you don’t hire someone that can only clean your home as well as you do.myezbz.com is a great way to find and compare professional cleaning services in your area. Simply submit a free request, and local and recommended cleaning companies will reply to you directly with their information, availability, and pricing. It’s a great way to see what your options are and ensure you hire a professional that will do right by you and your home.
Summer is home improvement season for a reason. While some jobs will always require you to hire a contractor or licensed professional, there are countless home repair projects you can quickly complete yourself in the warm weather. Many of these jobs are not so easily fixed in fall or winter, and ignoring the job until next summer isn’t a great idea, either, as the problem could worsen and become an expensive project that you can no longer complete yourself.
Here are some easy jobs you can do around the house during summer to avoid expensive repairs down the road:
For a big painting job you may wish to hire a contractor, but for small touch ups to the outside or inside of your house, even an inexperienced homeowner should be able to the do the job themselves. Summer is the best time to paint outside as the heat will help it dry faster, and there is less chance of rain, snow, or leaf litter disrupting your progress. If you’re painting inside, summer allows you to leave the windows open to ventilate the house and speed up the drying process.
While this job can be outsourced to a professional, you may be able to do it yourself for little to no cost. Gutters are the first line of defense for your home against water damage. Leaving them to accrue debris and dirt could lead to a big, wet, and expensive headache for you down the road. There are also plenty of insects and pests that love to make their home in debris-filled gutters, which can quickly lead to an infestation. Cleaning your gutters twice a year is a great way to avoid a buildup of debris, and also gives you an opportunity to check for any other issues such as a leak.
Spring and summer are the best months for gardening and/or landscaping your yard. By planting shrubs or plants in the warmer months, you give them a chance to settle and grow before the harsh fall and winter months. The ground is also easier to dig in to while it’s hot, so if you’re thinking of installing a new irrigation system or in-ground pool, summer is the time for it.
TLC for Your Outdoor Surfaces
Come fall and winter, your outdoor surfaces are going to be hit with rain, leaf litter, and snow… So summer is a good time to prepare for the months ahead.
Refinishing your deck in Summer will not only help protect it from the weather, it will make it look brand new, which is perfect if you’re planning on using it throughout the summer. Refinishing once every year, or even every two-three years, is a project you can do yourself and will help you elongate the life of your deck. Avoiding a regular refinish could mean having to replace your deck within a few years, which would cost thousands of dollars.
Another outdoor surface that might need some TLC is your driveway. It’s a good idea to inspect your driveway and make sure it’s ready for the tough months ahead – if it is due for repaving or replacement soon, be sure to get it done in summer. You don’t want to have to replace your driveway in rain or snow. Finally, if you have a lot of outdoor concrete surfaces, look out for cracks. If they’re small enough, you can caulk them very easily and save yourself a lot of time and money. Bigger cracks will require a concrete patch.
Inspecting and improving your home during summer may feel like hard work now, but can be extremely beneficial to the longevity of your home, not to mention potentially saving you thousands of dollars. When working outside, however, be sure to stay hydrated and use sunblock. Health and safety should always be your priority when completing home repairs.
If you require professional assistance for any project you want to complete this summer, request it for free through EZBZ. We will send your request to local professionals, who will reply to you directly with their information and pricing. It’s a great way to compare your options and find the best deal available.
A driveway is like the welcome mat to your entire home, so it’s no surprise that many homeowners are extremely precautious when choosing the design and type of material they want. Before you speak to a contractor, it's a good idea to research your options. We’ve put together a short guide to help homeowners learn more about the various types of driveway available today:
Concrete is one of the first things people think of when they consider their paving options. A concrete driveway can be stamped with different designs and colors, so it’s a popular choice for homeowners that want their driveway to match the exterior design of their house. Popular paving materials such as cobblestone, brick, and field stone can also be simulated in concrete at a fraction of the cost. The average cost per square foot is around $5.
The affordability of asphalt makes it another popular choice. The average cost per square foot is around $2.20. Asphalt is strong, does not show stains like concrete does, and only needs a minimal amount of maintenance. A long dark driveway can look impressive in a well-landscaped yard. Asphalt also retains more heat from the sun than concrete, which means snow will melt faster on an asphalt driveway, making it a smart choice for households that will have a frosty winter.
A brick driveway is more expensive than asphalt and concrete, but it has a timeless elegance that will add another level to the aesthetic of your home. Various patterns can be created with the bricks, from a classic herringbone to basket weave. A foundation bed of sand helps to give a brick driveway stability. Another plus is that if a brick cracks it can be replaced without interfering with the whole driveway. The average cost per square foot can range from $5-15.
Cobblestone is a costly but long-lasting choice. Cobblestones are typically made of granite, which is stain resistant and less likely to crack than other driveway materials. However, it can also be a lot more expensive. The average cost per square foot can range from $10-20. A cobblestone driveway can give your home a classic look and feel that will make any old home look charming. For many homeowners, installing a cobblestone driveway is a DIY project, which is a great way to cut some of the costs.
When you are struggling to find the budget for a brick or even concrete driveway, you may wish to consider gravel. The crushed stone can be eco-friendly, and requires little maintenance. While you will have to replace the stones every few years, cracks will never be an issue. Gravel driveways are a popular choice for rural homes. The average cost per square foot is around $1.40.Whatever your budget or design preference, there are multiple options for homeowners considering installing or replacing a driveway. To find a driveway contractor in your area that can help you install the driveway of your dreams, consider using EZBZ. It’s a free, quick, and easy way to find and hire contractors.
While summer is well and truly upon us, many families are yet to come up with activities that will keep everyone entertained. As anyone who is a parent knows, this can be harder than it sounds. There are always lots of summer events and activities available for young children, but what about parents, or families with teenagers? They should be able to enjoy the summer too without having to ship the younger ones off to summer camp. We’ve compiled a list of summer activities that will keep the whole family happy:
The great thing about camping is that it usually provides a plethora of different activities to keep every member of the family entertained. If you’re camping near a body of water, swimming should appeal to kids of all ages. For parents and older kids, why not hire a boat or some kayaks? Kayaking can be incredibly fun, not to mention great exercise. However, make sure when camping that you invest in a tent big enough for your whole family. You’re inevitably going to be in close quarters by sharing a tent, but anything too small will quickly feel stifling in the summer heat. Other necessities include insect repellant, sunblock and plenty of food and water.
Go to the Beach
The beach is the classic summer destination for almost everyone during summer, and it’s not hard to see why – as we mentioned, all kids love swimming, not to mention playing in the sand. Teenagers and adults can find also find some additional thrill in the ocean that they won’t find in a lake or pool. You can also just lie down on the soft sand with a good book, and soak up the sun’s rays. Of course, there are some potential downsides to a day at the beach as well: sun poisoning, sand everywhere, stings or insect bites… But it’s also entirely possible to avoid these with the proper precautions.
They say the best time to learn how to ride a bike is when you’re a child. A family bike ride is a great way to exercise together, and for younger kids, it is an introduction to a skill they will retain for the rest of their life. Showing children at a young age how fun and beneficial exercise can be is a great way to teach them how important it is to prioritize your health and wellbeing. If you have an emotional teenager or two, aeorobic exercise like bike riding can be a great way to blow off some steam, and because exercise releases endorphins in the brain, it’s also a great way to fight stress or negative thoughts.
If your kids love nature or adventures, going for a hike should be in your summer fun program. Hiking combines adventure, exercise and relaxation as it allows you trek through the forest until you find a nice picnic spot or lookout. Arm yourself with nice hiking boots, proper clothing, and of course the "spirit of adventure". Also, don’t forget some sandwiches and water as you will need them after trekking for a few hours.
These are just some of the outdoor activities your family can do this summer to have some fun and spend some quality time together. If you’re looking for something in particular, for example local boat or kayak hire, or open camping grounds, consider submitting a free request through EZBZ. We will connect you with local businesses and service providers that can make your summer truly memorable.
It doesn’t take much for a homeowner to consider renovating their home. But while wear and tear are inevitable, renovations are typically a choice, and can bring unwanted stress and tricky surprises. It’s essential that you are prepared. Here are some steps you can take to ensure your home renovation is a success:
Determine Your Budget
Even if you’re only just starting to consider renovating your home, take a look at your expenses and savings. Map out how much you can afford to spend on renovations. Forward thinking is critical – will you have any other large expenditures in the foreseeable future? Remember to take in to account an estimate of how much you will be spending on everyday essentials during the actual renovation. Save enough money so you have a safety net in the event of an accident or unexpected expense.
Figure Out What You Want
Having a clear vision of what you want before beginning the process of renovation will help you save time and money. Make a list of the mandatory things you want, and the renovations you could live without. Of course, while a clear vision is important, it’s also necessary to have some flexibility. Surprises during renovation aren’t just common, they should be expected. Moldy baseboards or faulty wiring can cause serious delays and incur additional costs. This is where your list of essential and non-essential renovations can help you make a quick decision about how to proceed.
Hire a Licensed Contractor
Now that you have determined your budget and have a vision for what you want your home to look like, it’s time to start researching contractors that can complete the renovation. A licensed contractor is always recommended. When you hire a licensed contractor, they are legally required to follow certain safety codes and standards. An unlicensed contractor may not be familiar with the latest industry standards, and could be uninsured. Ultimately, hiring an unlicensed contractor could result in more expenses down the road. The risk is not worth the lower quote. To find a reputable contractor in your area, consider submitting a free request through EZBZ. Local contractors will reply to you directly through EZBZ with their information, availability, and estimates, allowing you to compare your options and make an informed decision about who to hire.
Book Temporary Accommodation
If you’re planning to renovate your entire home, the best option is to stay out of the house. Construction sites can be dangerous, loud, and stressful, not to mention that renovations can sometimes take weeks or even months to complete. Staying with friends or family is an option, however this can also be conducive to a stressful situation for both you, and your host. Investing in temporary accommodation may also be an investment in your mental health. Credible accommodation companies will provide you with necessities like clean linens, cable, Wi-Fi, and an inviting and clean living space while having representatives on standby at all times in the event of any issues.
Take an Inventory
Before leaving your home, be sure to do a sweep and keep record of any expensive or important items you are leaving behind. It may be a good time to clear your house of old furniture or anything else you no longer need, while storing the items you want to keep in your basement, attic, or a storage unit.
Following these steps will help you ensure that your home renovation goes smoothly. While some preparation efforts can seem tiresome or even futile at the time, their value becomes apparent once the renovation begins and you are stress-free.When looking for quality, temporary accommodation for the duration of your renovation, consider visiting TempApts.com. If you’re looking to hire a contractor, construction company, or find any other product or service, request it through EZBZ. It’s free, quick, and easy.
At some point or other, all homeowners need to hire a contractor to help repair or renovate their property. While some maintenance tasks can be handled by a layman, there are certain jobs that are better left to a professional.
But what is the difference between a layman and a professional? Is it a license? Is ‘unlicensed professional’ an oxymoron?
The reality is, a license can’t guarantee that you will be happy with the work of a contractor, just as the lack of a license doesn’t mean you will definitely be taken advantage of. But when it comes to insurance and safety, exclusively hiring licensed professionals is the logical choice. Hiring an unlicensed professional can expose you to risks that just aren’t worth the short term savings.
A licensed contractor is insured, and can be expected to follow safety codes and procedures. For example, the national electrical code is the standard for safe installation of electrical wiring and equipment, and is revised every three years. To become a licensed electrician, a contractor must demonstrate they are capable of following the code.
An unlicensed contractor may not be familiar with the latest version of the code, and could produce shoddy work, not to mention that even a minor mistake could result in serious injury or death. You could also be liable for medical fees if an unlicensed worker injures themselves while working on your property.
While it may seem more affordable to hire an unlicensed contractor in the short-term, you must always take in to account the potential long term costs when getting repairs or renovation. Un-doing the mistakes of an unlicensed contractor can be very costly, not to mention the fees associated with any legal action you or your ex-employee undertake.
And how do you ensure you’re hiring a licensed contractor? Simple – ask. While this can be harder than it sounds, it’s extremely important to verify you are hiring someone qualified to repair or renovate your home. The earlier you can ask, the better. Something along the lines of: “While you set everything up, could I please see your contractor’s license and your General Liability Insurance card?”
So what are you paying for when you pay hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars more for a licensed contractor? Peace of mind. And it’s totally worth it.The next time you need to hire a licensed contractor, consider submitting a request through EZBZ. We will connect you with the contractors in your area, so you can compare your options and hire the business that’s best for you. It’s free, quick, and easy.
As a renewable energy, solar power is the obvious choice for homeowners interested in dramatically reducing their impact on the environment. But what are the other perks? Are there any downsides? In this blog, we have attempted to present an objective analysis of the pros and cons of investing in solar energy.
Advantages of Solar Energy
Save and Earn Money
Once your home is powered by solar energy you will notice that your electricity bill is smaller each month, primarily because a portion of the energy you are consuming is being taken directly from the sun via your solar panels. If you have large enough solar panels, you may even be generating enough energy to sell it to a third party. In some states, there are also tax incentives available to encourage homeowners to use solar power.
Production of solar energy is clean and safe for the environment, and as the threat of global warming becomes increasingly clear, more and more environmentally conscious homeowners are investing in solar power. Aside from being detrimental to the environment, non-renewable energies will inevitably dwindle, so it’s likely that within one hundred years most homes will be adorned with solar panels.
Increase the Value of Your Home
Energy-efficient homes are in high demand in today’s real estate market. By investing in solar energy, you’re also investing in a home improvement that may pay off down the line if you decide to sell. Houses on the market that already have solar panels installed mean that the new buyers can also instantly start saving on their monthly bills, with the cost of the solar panels likely absorbed by the property value.
Disadvantages of Solar Energy
While in the long-term solar panels may help you save on your monthly energy bill, installation of solar panels can be quite expensive up front. This means it’s not always possible for a homeowner on a tight budget to afford converting to solar power.
If you live in an area that gets very little sunlight, it may not be wise to invest in solar energy. Unfortunately, most areas will occasionally have cloudy days, and if you happen to have several in a row, this could mean you don’t save as much money on your electricity bill for that month.Ultimately, there are more advantages then disadvantages to investing in solar energy, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for everybody. Consider the above points before investing so that you can make an informed decision. If you are looking for a solar power professional or contractor in your area, consider submitting a request through EZBZ. It’s free, quick, and easy.
In some locations, the heat of summer is almost unbearable. And with increasing temperatures worldwide due to global warming, it’s clear the heat won’t be letting up any time soon. In many areas all over the US, families are choosing to remain inside their cool, air-conditioned homes as long as possible. The irony of this is that every home with an over-active air conditioner is contributing to the carbon emissions that are held partially responsible for rising temperatures.
Of course, not every household can afford an air conditioner. This is good for the environment, but not so great for those of us who hate the heat. Here are some tips for keeping your home cool in summer without an air conditioner:
Windows Open; Curtains Closed
When you know it’s going to be a hot day, open your windows and close your blinds or curtains as early in the morning as possible. If there is a breeze, the open windows will allow a cool draft to flow through your house. By closing the blinds/curtains, you prevent the greenhouse effect – i.e. light from the sun super-heating your home. When combined, these tips can dramatically lower your energy bills, and the temperature of your home. The natural air will also help keep your home smelling fresh, and is a nice change from breathing in recycled air from a conditioner.
In today’s market, it’s easy to find fans that are effective at cooling you down while consuming minimal energy. They’re a great way to keep the temperature down inside without resorting to using an air conditioner, and if you’re strategic about their placement, you can create a wind tunnel that feels similar to a natural breeze. By placing a bowl of ice in front of the fan, you can also cool the air that’s being fanned.
For some people, trying to sleep in the heat is nearly impossible. If this is you, it’s important to ensure you are using sheets that won’t retain heat and will keep your body temperature as low as possible while you sleep. Cotton sheets are the best choice. Using pillows with buckwheat hulls won't hold heat as much as normal pillows, so they are also great way to keep your bed (and body) cool.
It probably goes without saying, but using your oven on a hot day will make your entire home feel like a sauna. Using your grill instead is a great way to ensure your home can stay as cool as possible – by setting up outside under some shade, you can also take full advantage of any cool summer breezes that happen to blow your way.
Ultimately, there are numerous things you can do to help keep cool during summer – the most important thing to remember is to focus on lowering your body temperature, rather than the temperature inside your home. It’s much easier to change your body temperature, and it is also a more accurate indicator of how you feel.
If you’re looking to hire a HVAC or insulation contractor, or purchase a fan, air conditioner or other product that will keep your home cool, consider submitting a free request through EZBZ. EZBZ will connect you with reputable providers in your area within minutes - it's a great way to compare your options and ensure you get a fair price.
Kitchen cabinets do more than just hold your cups, plates, and pasta – they give your kitchen a funky, fresh look. Besides your countertops and appliances, the cabinets really define the appeal of your kitchen. Worn-out and outdated cabinet can ruin the appearance of your kitchen, even when all the other elements are updated in the space. One great way of adding an instant update is by replacing them, but refacing them can also be a great option depending on the budget and condition of your cabinets.
Refacing Your Kitchen Cabinets
Refacing involves installation of new drawer fronts and cabinet doors, as well as covering the cabinets' exposed face frames with plastic or wood veneer. The process can take 2 to 4 days depending on kitchen size. All the drawer fronts and doors must be removed when refacing and the old finish roughed up to ready the surface for a new coating. The new coating is either nailed or glued over the old finish to achieve the desired look.
Replacing cabinets can be quite involving and it could take much longer if the ordering and planning of the new cabinets is taken into consideration. Keep in mind that the old cabinets have to be removed and their contents packed away. Although some homeowners can replace the cabinets by themselves, hiring a professional contractor is ideal, since they have the experience in measuring and planning to ensure that your cabinets fit in your kitchen perfectly.
Designing your Cabinets
You typically have 3 options for finish when refacing your cabinets - wood veneer, rigid thermo-foils (RTF), and plastic laminates. You can find laminates in a wide array of colors, although their use is limited to plain cabinet styles due to their rigidity. RTFs can be shaped into a variety of styles as they are made by flexible vinyl foil on medium density fiberboard (MDF). With wood veneer, you can easily get the warm, natural wood look on your cabinets, but you will pay more compared to RTF and laminates.
Replacing your cabinets has expanded options when it comes to cabinet designs, depending on your kitchen size, home decor, and your budget. You can have your cabinets in a wide variety of colors, sizes, styles, and materials.
When you opt to reface your kitchen cabinets, you will notice that it is considerably cheaper than replacing them. Depending on the materials you want and the size of your kitchen, you can save almost half of what you would have spent replacing them, even at the high cost range. Replacing your cabinets includes several hidden costs that must be accounted for in a full remodel. For instance, you need to add the costs of molding, door handles, trim, and delivery charges. Moreover, any walls that were damaged or left exposed after the replacement need to be refinished, which adds on to the total cost.
A few decades ago, most kitchen cabinets were custom-made with high quality solid wood, constructed in place with excellent construction. The actual construction materials of the cabinets - including the sides, shelves, and surfaces - were stronger and more durable compared to new assembly line made cabinets. They might tend to look great in the store, but don't hold up as well for daily use.
Despite the several benefits of refacing over replacing your cabinets, sometimes refacing may not be ideal. If your entire kitchen cabinetry was constructed and painted before 1978, the paint is likely to have lead on it. Disturbing or sanding this paint could lead to lead permeating your kitchen if it is not done properly. Although a professional who understands lead abatement can reface the cabinetry effectively, replacing it is the only way to be sure.
Limited Modification Options
Some older houses might have sagging or bowing cabinetry if they were not designed or built well in the first place. Refacing won't fix bad design or poor construction. In such cases, replacing your cabinetry is the best option.
You now have the pros and cons and it is up to you to make an informed decision to begin building your dream kitchen.D. More is a home improvement specialist and successful business owner. Check out his site, HouseRemodelingCenter.com for the best in home remodeling.
To get connected with a kitchen cabinet professional or contractor in your area, consider submitting a request through EZBZ. It's free, and takes just thirty seconds.
Thinking about remodeling your kitchen? Make sure you’re prepared. Remodeling can be a risky and costly process, so it’s important to feel informed and ready. Click here for some tips on how to prepare.
When looking to increase the value of their property, many homeowners choose to remodel their kitchen. A fully renovated kitchen can improve the day-to-day functionality of your home, and can improve the overall aesthetic. A modern kitchen can help instill a fresh, clean atmosphere for your entire home.
Of course, any home renovation comes with its list of potential risks. Ensuring your kitchen remodel is not expensive or botched can be a grueling process. Here are some guidelines to help you feel prepared and informed about remodeling your kitchen:
Build Your Budget First
While this may seem obvious, it’s important to do more than just save a few thousand dollars. Take the time to research different price points for each material you plan to use. Whether you are performing a repair on a preexisting surface, or building out new structures, it is essential that you understand the potential total cost. Use this time to decide if you are willing to splurge on the materials that you really want, and if you’re willing to cut costs for less important decisions. Make sure you to compare quotes when working with contractors and material providers.
A large portion of the total cost of home renovation comes from labor fees. While contractors are a worthwhile investment, you may be able to save on the cost by handling some of the work yourself. If you’re good with your hands, laying tile and painting can be easy and even fun jobs to do with a friend or family member. Of course, it’s also important not to attempt work that you are not qualified or prepared to do. A licensed contractor should always be hired when doing electrical, structural, or foundation work. While it may seem expensive to hire a professional, hiring a contractor can help you save in the long-term by reducing damage or repair costs.
Don’t Forget the Small Things
If your kitchen remodel is stressing you out, it’s easy to forget some of the small, yet integral, aspects of the renovation. When installing a new, high-end stove, ensure it has proper ventilation and exhaust. If you’re changing the landscape of your kitchen, the lighting will probably need to be upgraded as well. Planning ahead and ensuring you’re financially prepared for any setbacks mean that you can minimize worry and stress, and think things through clearly and sensibly.
Start From Scratch
If you’re planning on remodeling your kitchen, many contractors will recommend that you gut your current kitchen and start from scratch. This advice isn’t just so you’ll pay them for more work – it’s actually a logical decision. If your kitchen is old, there is a chance that there are problems with the electrical wiring, plumbing, or foundation – issues that may not necessarily be in plain sight. Tearing your kitchen apart and starting from scratch is a great way to make sure there aren’t any urgent issues with the internal framework of your kitchen that could be very costly later on. Why risk having to tear apart your brand new kitchen in six months because of mold or a burst pipe, when you could address and prevent these issues at the start of your renovation?
Ultimately, it’s easy to have a successful and affordable kitchen remodel provided you put in the time to research and brainstorm all the potential costs and risks. EZBZ is a great tool for homeowners who are considering a renovation. Simply visit www.myezbz.com/category/kitchen-remodeling, and submit a request for anything you need. It’s a great way to compare quotes for contractors, materials, even appliances for your completed kitchen. EZBZ is determined to help homeowners have the kitchen of their dreams, as quickly and affordably as possible.
Aside from being aesthetically pleasing, a well-kept garden can also help you feel more relaxed and at peace. One of the secrets of keeping a healthy, green garden is a good mulch. Mulch is a layer of material placed in your garden to help promote healthy growth. While most mulch is organic, there are also artificial options available.
Some gardeners make the mistake of using white wood chips as a mulch – these chips absorb nitrogen from the soil, starving your garden. Several good organic mulches include manure, bark and compost. As the mulch breaks down it improves soil structure, breaks down sticky clay, increases the soils ability to hold nutrients and water, and improves the aeration of soil for plant roots. In gardens that have consistently used a compost mulch, you will notice strong plant growth and earthworms – symptoms of a healthy garden. Organic mulches will decompose slowly, and should be replaced once a year.
Inorganic mulch can also be used to help your garden – they provide a protective sheet that stops weeds from sprouting through the soil, but still permits water to soak in and hydrate the plants. In addition to stopping weeds, however, it can also prevent the growth of some plants. Be sure to avoid using a plastic sheet on your garden – this will stop rain from reaching the roots of your plants and flowers, and the soil will suffocate.
It is a good idea to rake and remove old mulch from your garden bed, before introducing new mulch. The mulch should be two-four inches away from the plant stem or tree trunk, and watered regularly. Water will sink below the mulch and be soaked up by the soil. Ensure you also only ever lay mulch on soil that is moist, not frozen or waterlogged.
Mulch is a great landscaping asset, even if you’re not interested in gardening. Mulches like pine straw can be placed on soil patches to not only help them look neat, but also prevent the growth of unwanted weeds. Mulch doesn’t always smell fresh, but it’s a great way to boost the health of your garden and trees, and in doing so, improve the air quality of your yard. A healthy garden will also attract wildlife such as bees, that are vital to our ecosystem.If you’re interested in finding a local mulch provider, submit a request through EZBZ here: www.myezbz.com/category/mulching. EZBZ will instantly send your request to local landscaping and garden services that can help you mulch your garden, who will reply in minutes with their information, availability and prices. It’s free, quick, and easy.
Many homeowners consider their deck to be the best feature of their home. However, decks are also constantly subjected to weather, wildlife and leaf litter that can have detrimental effects. Here are some tips for maintenance that will help ensure the longevity of your deck.
As an external feature of your home, your deck is constantly exposed to the elements. Harsh weather conditions, wildlife, and leaf litter can all have detrimental effects on your deck, so it is is imperative to take measures towards its cleaning and maintenance. There are contractors that specialize in this work, but you can also attempt to do it yourself.
Regular cleaning is very important. A soapy water solution will work fine for general cleaning. If your deck need a thorough cleaning to remove mildew and stains, there are cleaning agents available that are specially designed for decks. These products are designed to safely clean the wood without bleaching or warping. They are available in most hardware stores, and can also be purchased directly from some deck contractors.
When using the cleaning agents, it is important to wear gloves as you scrub and rinse your deck. A pump up sprayer can be used to apply the agent. A scrub brush can then be used to scrub the deck, and a garden hose can be used to rinse. Allow a few minutes between the scrubbing and the rinsing. It is advisable to avoid using pressure washers when cleaning a deck, as the water may penetrate the wood and cause it to rot.
You should take note to remove any leaves or natural debris on your deck. Organic matter can collect moisture, causing the wood to rot. Clean all dirt, grime, and any other debris that may stain the deck or cause the wood to rot. There are tools that are specifically tailored for the use of removing dirt and debris between the floor panels without damaging them.
To prevent direct contact between the deck and any surrounding bushes or plants, some basic trimming may be necessary. This will also help avoid the collection of moisture on the deck that could lead to wood rot.
A sealer or stain can be applied on the deck after the washing. This should be preferably done when outdoor temperatures are a little lower to avoid the stain from quickly drying up. The finish needs to be absorbed into the wood and will help protect it from the elements. It’s also advisable to check on the nails and screws of your deck, and to tighten any that may be loose. A sander can be used to even up any raised boards.Regular cleaning and maintenance of your deck is very important for homeowners, and even renters, as it can extend the longevity of the deck and help avoid costly repairs. The online concierge service, EZBZ, can instantly connect you with deck contractors and cleaning product providers. Simply go to www.myezbz.com/category/deck-cleaning-treatment and submit a free request.
Spring is finally on its way, and with it, warmth and sunshine. Almost everything is nicer in spring. The sun is shining, the birds are whistling, the flowers are blooming… Even the people seem nicer! It’s certainly the best time of year to enjoy the outdoors. A great way to protect yourself from the heat – while still enjoying all that spring has to offer – is by investing in an awning or canopy.
An awning can be attached to the exterior wall of a building, and is a good way to provide additional shade to the perimeter of your home. It’s a great option for homeowners that like to enjoy the outdoors without venturing too far from the house. A retractable awning also allows you to have the best of both worlds. That is, soaking up the sunshine or relaxing in the shade depending on how you feel. An awning can also help you save energy - installing awnings above windows can help prevent heat entering your home, reducing the need for air conditioning or a fan. There are retractable awnings on the market from as little as $500, and some top-shelf brands available for over $2000. Either way, if you’re considering installing an awning, you can probably find one that fits your budget. Concierge services like EZBZ are a great way to compare the options in your local area, and find a company that can install the right awning for the right price.
Canopies are great for providing shade for outdoor events and activities. Canopies can dramatically vary in size, providing shade for anything from a small picnic between friends, to a wedding reception for eighty guests. For this reason, it’s important to consider some things before purchasing a canopy. What size canopy do you need? How difficult is it to assemble? Does it need to be able to endure certain weather conditions?
Of course, research like this is important when purchasing any product, and can easily be done online. Determining your budget, and what you can expect to pay, can be a little more difficult. Just like an awning, a canopy price can vary from several hundred dollars, to several thousand.
EZBZ is a great way to expedite the research process, and find the awning or canopy right for you. All you have to do is go to www.myezbz.com/category/awnings-canopies and submit a free request. Local providers and installation companies will reply to you directly with their information, availability and estimates. It’s a great way to compare your options and find a fair price, while avoiding hours of research and phone calls.
As the sun rays become warmer, the days longer, and the trees begin to blossom, one thing is clear: spring is here. This is the cue to open the windows wide and start the cleaning. After fall and winter, it’s time to give your home some fresh air, and perhaps give it a little bit of a makeover. Whether you are living in an apartment, or a home with garden, here are some general tips to help you prepare your property for a warm & wonderful spring.
Before you start the spring cleaning, it’s a good idea to make sure you don’t need any home repairs done. You can start with the basics, such as checking the electrical outlets for potential fire hazards or the water heater for leaks. If you own an air-conditioning system, now is the best time to have it inspected and its filters cleaned, but don’t do this yourself; it’s safer to hire a professional. Another great tip is checking and changing the light bulbs; fluorescent bulbs produce less heat than other types, so they’re recommended for spring and summer.
If you live in a house, it’s important to check the exterior too. Make sure to check your roof – after a season of heavy snow, there could be some damage, which may not be easy to see until after all the snow has melted. Most gardens will also need a little landscaping this time of year – removing the dead vegetation and planting some new flowers will make your garden flourish! Well, at least until winter returns. A new coat of paint on the door or exterior walls can also help to make your house look fresh and homely. Finally, if you’re planning on having some barbecues this spring, it’s a good time to pull out the grill and give it a good clean.
Now, moving back inside the house, it’s a good idea to do an effective, overall cleaning. If your rugs or carpet are stained, the beginning of spring is a great time to have them cleaned, as it’s warm enough outside to open the windows, and moisture from outside won’t be tracked inside nearly as much as in the winter months. With the windows open, it’s probably a good time to have your curtains cleaned as well.
Another reason to clean the house is that spring is a great time for insects to thrive. They love the dirty and dusty crooks and crevices of your home, so a thorough spring cleaning will make sure you don’t gain any unwanted tenants. The heat of spring and summer means it’s also a good idea to take out the garbage more regularly, to keep your home smelling nice and roach-free.These are just some of the tips that you can keep in mind when preparing your home for spring. If you need any assistance when looking for home repairs, landscaping, or cleaning services, www.myezbz.com is a free, online concierge that can connect you with the reputable businesses that can help. It takes thirty seconds to submit a free request, and EZBZ businesses will reply to you directly with their information, availability and estimates.
We all love a home-cooked meal. They are often more nutritious, affordable, and fulfilling than a fast food or take-out option. However, a good home-cooked meal also takes a lot of preparation and timing… Two luxuries most working adults just don’t have. A solution that many people are turning to is hiring a personal chef.
A personal chef is a professional cook hired to come to your home and prepare meals for you. While there may have been a time when only the super-wealthy could afford to hire their own kitchen staff, personal chefs are rapidly becoming the most beneficial and affordable option for adults that are tired of eating take-out, but don’t have the time to prepare and cook their own food.
According to the American Personal and Private Chef Association, a personal chef is typically hired to prepare multiple meals for you at one time – usually enough for a week. So, if you’re thinking of hiring one, make sure you have some freezer space… but that’s where your worries should end.
A personal chef is trained to cook with fresh, healthy ingredients, and produce meals that are highly nutritious, filling, and delicious – right in your own kitchen. Just imagine enjoying the benefits of eating at a restaurant – delicious food, no cooking or cleaning – in the comfort of your own home, and it’s easy to see why so many people are hiring their own chefs. A personal chef will create and customize meals just for you, so they are also better prepared to deal with any dietary requirements (e.g. gluten free, allergies) than a chef in a restaurant would be, who has to work with a set menu and ingredients.
If you don’t have much of a kitchen in your home, there are also personal chef services that you can hire to cook for you off-site. They will then deliver your set of frozen meals straight to your door. Of course, if they are cooking in your own kitchen they are more likely to be able to guarantee freshness, but an offsite personal chef can still provide nutritious, affordable and tasty meals.
Of course, the benefits of hiring a personal chef can be obvious. The biggest question most of us have is, how much?
While the price may vary from chef to chef, it can be more affordable than you think. Liza Graves, a mom-blogger based in Nashville, hired a personal chef for her family and was surprised just how many benefits she received for the price. You can read about Liza’s experience here, but her personal chef would prepare 3-4 mouth-watering meals a week for $225 (her Chefs rate was $45 per hour). Considering that was enough to feed a family of five for four nights a week (with leftovers), that’s a pretty good deal.If you’d like to compare quotes from the personal chefs in your area, consider submitting a free request on www.myezbz.com/category/personal-chefs. EZBZ will send your request to the personal chefs close to you, who will reply with their information, availability and price rates.
Innovations in technology are constantly being released that make life easier. Sometimes, these innovations can simply be optimizations of tools we already had. The optimization process of an existing technology often results in it receiving the new, permanent adjective: ‘smart’. That’s why today we have smartphones, smart TV’s, and now, smart thermostats.
A smart thermostat has the same functions as a normal thermostat – allowing users to control their household heating and air conditioning – with the added functionality of being able to be remotely adjusted by any device connected to the Internet. That means that users can change the temperature of their homes with their smartphone, even if they’re not actually in the house.
It is easy to see why a smart thermostat can benefit any home. The remote controllability would allow you to heat your household in advance during winter, so you could leave work and head straight to an already warm home. And this is just a basic feature of most smart thermostats.
There are now smart thermostats in the market that will learn what your ideal settings are at any given time, such as when you’re asleep, at work, or when you’re waking up in the morning. Thermostats like this are designed to save you money on your heating bill, while keeping your house at the appropriate temperature 24/7. The market leader is the Nest Learning Thermostat, available from Amazon for around $250.
Another popular brand (that’s a little cheaper than the Nest), is the Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat, which has a bright LCD screen that keeps you up to date on changes in the local climate, and displays the indoor and outdoor temperature and humidity. It is also programmed to learn from your habits, and warn you about extreme temperature changes.
Of course, other than saving you time and money, smart thermostats are also a great way for your household to become more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. With the ability to program their thermostat and adjust it remotely, it is possible for users to minimize unnecessary energy consumption. However, studies have also revealed that in order for a smart thermostat to save money and energy, it is still heavily dependent on the user’s active programming and controlling… At least until it learns how to do it by itself.
Investing in a smart thermostat is just one way you can save time, money, and the environment moving forward. However, until we (inevitably) create artificial intelligence, even a ‘smart’ thermostat is susceptible to human error.
You don’t have to be a top chef to have a well-designed kitchen. With today’s growing foodie demographic and more consumers worried about increasing allergy and food safety concerns the kitchen is once again becoming a well-used room in the home. Whether you’re a new cook or seasoned chef you have a few things to consider when designing your dream kitchen to avoid throwing your whisk in defeat and running to your stack of menus for satiety.
First, take a few minutes and think of how you use your kitchen. Do you rush home in the evening itching to wear your apron and increase your knife and sauté skills or are you running out of storage for all the reusable take out containers. A kitchen remodel can get pretty pricey if you are only basing it on a vision rather than its actual use. To a chef size does matter, if you will be bumping elbows with one or several sous chef you may want to reconsider that island.
Now that you’ve determined your kitchen needs, pick a budget and stick to it. The bigger the remodel the bigger the bite to your savings. Aesthetics matter just as much as the appliances so consider the cost of paint, flooring, a back splash and lighting as well. You may need to upgrade your electrical, plumbing, insulation and windows especially when renovating an older home or adding fun kitchen gadgets. Always make sure you keep emergency funds for anything that may pop up.
Depending on your budget you have a pretty wide range of appliances to choose from. You have your essential refrigerator and oven, your useful microwave and dishwasher and a long list of kitchen gadgets, always a great addition to any kitchen, such as slow cookers and electric pressure cookers. There are many stylish appliances that won’t break the bank, just refer to your budget to determine how much you can spend.
Make sure your kitchen has enough storage by adding cabinets, shelves or better yet a pantry. Cluttered counters are enough to irritate the most patient of home cooks. For better accessibility you can add drawers and Lazy Susans.
Windows and skylights placed appropriately are a cost effective way to bring more light into your kitchen. Nothing brings out your dishes like natural light. In case of nightfall remember to invest appropriate lighting. Because of the cabinets and appliances a kitchen may be enveloped with shadows, this is why it’s great to invest in different forms of lighting such as under cabinet lighting, island lighting and cook-top lighting.
Now that you’ve got all your ducks in a row it’s time to hire a professional to take care of the remodel. You might find the perfect contractor after your first interview but it’s generally recommended that you interview 3-4. Show them the kitchen, your list of needs and budget. Get all costs itemized and in writing, agree on a down payment. Visit an existing work site and get the names of suppliers and a few references. You can also ask family and friends who’ve had a recent kitchen remodel about their experience with their General Contractor. Take a look at the finished product and get as much detail on the before and after.
Should you need assistance finding the right contractor, simply EZBZ it by going to www.myezbz.com and posting a request.
Babies are naturally curious and they grow fast in the first year. They learn about the world around them through tasting, touching and feeling. On average, babies start crawling at 8 months, meaning that the baby can move from here to there in a blink of an eye. Keeping your baby from accidents is no easy task. Chances are your baby will spend time around your living room, nursery, kitchen and other places that could pose a threat to your child’s safety. Baby-proofing your home inside and out is one of the most significant steps towards keeping your baby safe. It gives you peace of mind that risks are minimal even when you leave the child with grandparents or babysitters who may not be fully up-to-date or familiar with safety risks. Within this article I’ll point out a number of things to keep in mind when baby proofing your home.
The items you need to be conscious about are those that pose a potential risk to your baby. This list is long! It should include: sharp edged furniture; electrical outlets; cords; appliances; exercise equipment; doors, including locks and knobs; flat panel televisions; fireplaces, glass; baths; toilets; swimming pool; stairs; cabinets; closets; bookcases; medicine; toiletries; detergents; animals and rubbish bins among other items.
As a parent you may not be aware of all safety hazards. For this reason it is often beneficial to hire a professional to baby-proof your home. You may be shocked at how many things you didn’t think were potential threats to your child! Baby-proofing professionals are trained to spot dangers that don’t occur to most people. They also have access to safety equipment difficult to find locally in stores. Hiring a professional child proofer provides comfort and peace of mind. He/she will also offer you and your family educational safety tips.
When hiring a child proofer, ensure that the company is experienced and reputable. Though price should not be the first consideration, ensure that company will do the job at a fair price. They should also present as highly aware of the latest safety hazards and the solutions. Once you hire a baby proofer, ensure that they properly inspect all areas of your home for potential hazards. Then with your approval, they will order and install the necessary safety supplies.
Some examples of the common safety measures they will implement will include:
- Adding padding to sharp edges and corners of furniture and ledges
- Installing safety gates at the bottom and top of staircases
- Installing safety latches on cabinets, drawers, closets, and toilets.
- Putting up additional fencing, including a swimming pool safety fence
- Installing doorstops to protects a baby from getting caught
- Mounting or securing flat panel televisions to prevent tipping.
- Removing all accessible cords from the baby’s reach
- Installing safety guards on windows
- Installing carbon monoxide detectors
- Adding bins with childproof lids for storage of potentially hazardous items
- Putting covers over bath taps.
If you need help finding a childproofing specialist you can submit a request free request for assistance through EZBZ.
Water damage repair should be started as soon as possible as it might not be possible to repair or fix certain objects if too much time is taken. Water damage can cause growth of mold in the house if the house is not dried properly within 48 hours. Water can damage furniture, documents, carpets, walls, woodwork, basement and more. Being aware of the cause of damage can help you deal with water damage repair better.
Water damage repair should be started as soon as possible as it might not be possible to repair or fix certain objects if too much time is taken. Water damage can cause growth of mold in the house if the house is not dried properly within 48 hours. Water can damage furniture, documents, carpets, walls, woodwork, basement and more. Being aware of the cause of damage can help you deal with water damage repair better.
Water damage can be caused due to floods, water leakage through pipes or a burst pipe. A house can suffer water damage because of improper maintenance, faulty construction or humidity and moisture level of your house. Water damage commonly found in houses usually include:
Collection of moisture on the inside of the exterior wall, this moisture could weaken the wall and cause mold at a later date. This usually happens in cold weather and lack of enough insulation. For its water damage repair, you would need to insulate the inside of the exterior wall by putting up a vapor barrier to prevent collection of moisture.
Plaster erosion or sheet-rock erosion could be caused by rain, leak, plumbing or lack of vapor barrier. In this case the leakage area must be fixed and an insulation-material should be installed to the inner surface of the outside wall as water damage repair.
Wet foundation walls caused due to high humidity level in the basement or when the foundation is not damp-proof or waterproof. A dehumidifier must be installed and the foundation should be made damp-proof.
Wallpaper peeling in rooms are usually caused by high humidity. Wallpaper can be prevented from eroding if proper ventilation is provided. Wallpaper peeling is usually found in the bathroom or kitchen because of high humidity. Wallpaper can be simply glued back but in case of formation of mold, fungus or bacteria, you must wash the wallpapers with detergent ammonia and rinse.
Faulty plumbing or a leaky roof can cause windows and doors to rot. Moisture can affect your wood very badly therefore for its water damage repair you need to take immediate action. After fixing the leaky area, the wood must be treated with disinfectants like creosote or cuprinol. The wooden area that has already begun to rot must be repaired with wood fillers.
Mold or fungus on the interior surface of the walls can be found after a flooding. The high moisture content in the air after flooding could lead to high moisture content in air, which again leads to the growth of mold. Water damage repair in such a case would involve reducing relative humidity by installing a dehumidifier, disinfecting the walls and ceilings with proper chemicals before applying paint to the wall.
You can carry out minor water damage repair in the house on your own but in case of major water damage, it is best to seek professional help. You can always submit a free request to EZBZ for water damage repair companies in case you need them.
Modifying homes and making them safer and more accessible allows the elderly to stay independently in their homes during their twilight years. There are a variety of remodeling ideas for aging in place since most homes are not set up well for living independently as we grow older. To successfully age in your own home it must be aligned with both your physical and mental capabilities to ensure safety at all times. Here are important features for a great home prepared for retirement:
House Cleaning Services
A recent survey of people over the age of 75 revealed that 95% of them planned to stay in their homes indefinitely. Although some have little or no trouble performing basic household chores most seniors find such tasks gradually more difficult as they age which increases the likelihood of serious injury. According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), each year approximately one in three adults over 65 suffers from a fall related injury each year. Falls are not only the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma, but also the leading cause of injury death in adults over the age of 65.
One way to help prevent injuries and provide some relief to seniors living at home is to hire a regular cleaning service to help with chores they are no longer able to do themselves. In addition to helping a senior keep their home clean and improving a senior's quality of life, a house cleaning service also provides seniors an opportunity for social interaction. Often seniors become less able to leave their homes as they get older, leading to loneliness and depression. Regular interaction with others, even occasional visits from a house cleaning service, can help to reduce these feelings of loneliness.
Bedroom and Bathroom Entry Level Access
With growing older, comes a fair share of physical challenges. Therefore, the potential for engaging in activities like sleeping, bathing, and eating on a home's entry level is important to the elderly interested in independent living.
Wheelchair Accessible Kitchen
It's also important to lower the wall and floor cabinets to have easier access and visibility to their contents. It may also be helpful to install pullout shelves. Have an open space beneath the stovetop and the sink to give you an access to these amenities without having a wide gap.
Raised Toilet Seats
A raised toilet seat or addition of a riser or lifter offers a solution if the height of the toilets in the home create a challenge. Risers or lifters can add about three to five inches to your toilet seat's height, making it easier for you to sit down and get up. It can be difficult to realize how important extra height is until you're in need of assistance due to a disability or a temporary injury.
Many injuries happen in the bathroom when an elderly person is trying to navigate a bath or shower. The required physical strength and movement required to navigate standard basins can be underestimated, resulting in falls that can be devastating to a persons health. This can easily be remedied with the installation of a walk-in bathtub.
Doorknobs are best replaced them with lever style door handles as they are easier to turn to open a door. With a lever door handle, only a little downward pressure is necessary to easily unlatch a door. This hardware is especially valuable for persons suffering from reduced strength, movement or arthritis.
Wide Doorways and Hallways
For those who are in, or anticipate needing a wheelchair, it’s best to widen doorways to ensure ease of access. Make sure there is at least 2 inches on each side of a standard wheelchair when entering a doorway or hallway, to ensure there will be enough space for turning around. When looking at a wheelchair's dimensions, also consider the wheels because several wheelchair specifications may pertain to the wheelchair seat's width and not the entire chair.
Home modifications can help ease the physical challenges that senior loved ones may face without turning the home into a clinical setting. By adapting our living environment for aging in place through modifications, it can make our homes safer, more comfortable and user friendly. If you need help with making modifications, you can always submit a free request to find a home modification expert.
People are talking about the tiny house movement. What is it? Is it small houses that are being moved down the street to tiny lots? Is it a political movement? This movement is all about a segment of society that is actively downsizing the spaces they live in to square footage often associated with a studio apartment.
The average size of a tiny house is between 100 square feet and 400 square feet. By comparison, the average size of new houses recently built in the United States was 2,600 square feet. The tiny house movement is not age specific. A compact living space has proven attractive to individuals of all ages, including college graduates, newlyweds, and retirees.
We are living in a society that is still recovering from mortgage upheaval, including the ramifications of predatory lenders, abandoned properties and foreclosures. Many want to own their own home, but with skyrocketing prices or hard to obtain mortgages, many aren’t able to buy or build the house or apartment of their dreams. Others still don’t want to be shackled with the expenses, debt and responsibility that comes with owning the average home. So, some have taken to building a tiny home instead.
Many people have started building these tiny homes on themselves, while others turn to companies and general contractors that specialize in them. The latter options are often preferred given they are better versed in special design and more complicated matters such as plumbing, electricity and insulation.
Tiny homes are not just a living arrangement, they represent an entire social movement which is believed to have originated in 1997, not long after Sarah Susanka published her book The Not So Big House. Today the movement has gained significant ground, with many starting to see the benefits of living small, among them the possibility of a loan free future. The costs of building a tiny house are significantly less than that of a traditional home and many are able to draw the funds from savings they had for a traditional down payment or loans they can pay off in significantly less time than a traditional mortgage. General contractors have assessed the cost of a home under 500 square feet at a maximum of 20,000 dollars. Another advantage is that corresponding utility bills are considerably less, taking into account that tiny homes are a quarter the size of a regular home.
Possible downsides to such a home are that they aren't ideal for families or those who enjoy entertaining. They typically can accommodate a maximum of two people, a couple preferably as the tight space might make it harder for two people who aren't emotionally committed to stand by one another. Regulations are can also be an issue, given some towns will deem the houses too small to be a residential dwelling; some owners have solved this issue by adding wheels to their homes so they might fall into the category of mobile home.
With new housing market trends paving a road toward tiny house living, not everyone feels that bigger is better anymore when it comes to your house. When looking for a house, more and more people are putting "affordable" at the top of their dream home checklist. If tiny home ownership is a path you’d like to pursue, you can always submit a free request to EZBZ to find tiny home builders.
My husband and I live in our family home in historic Virginia. It is an old house and has been in my family for quite some time now, passed down from generation to generation. I inherited it from my aunt who didn’t have any children of her own. We are renovating some parts of the house including the guest bathroom. It is one of the only places in the house that has not been yet been refurbished. It has always seemed like a daunting task for us, with its old fixtures and fittings. The entire bathroom is very big and it has an old claw foot style bath in there. It’s a wonderful big soaker! But, it has seen significantly better days. In truth, when I take my rose colored glasses off, it’s more disgusting than romantic. The enamel on it has chips that are beyond vintage chic and the rust of the cast-iron is also visible.
Anyone who has done a similar home renovation or, at least the research, knows it is difficult to find durable oversized baths such as this on a reasonable budget. When once they were a standard in homes, they are now a luxury item. Given this, we decided that we would quest to preserve it, rather than sell it as salvage. I myself am a lover of old things, I think they were made better and more durable than what we use now. But, we are going to have to do a lot to this tub if it is to be a part of our updated home decor.
There are shops that offer the service of refinishing old tubs and sinks. With an item as big and heavy as this, the work is typically done on site, however with smaller sinks, pedestals and other fixtures, the restorations can also be done at their repair shops.
The restoration process includes spraying the fixture with a resin coating made of acrylic urethane. This is the perfect remedy for getting the antique porcelain looking like new. From what I’ve found, the work costs $350-500 on average, though I suspect this will vary based on geography too. Nonetheless, that is significantly less than buying a tub like this brand new!
There are three steps involved in the cast-iron tub restoration process:
- The first is sanding down the fixture. A skilled company will do this by sandblasting to powerfully and evenly clean and smooth the surface. The old finish is removed to make way for the new one. Depending on the degree of damage, it may not be necessary to bring the item down to the full metal. It is also possible just to remove a top layer of finish.
- The second step is repairing cracks and chips. All the imperfections in that are found are fixed before the final step commences
- The last step is the adding of primer then the new layers and the top coat.
The length of time the entire refinishing process varies according to the company that undertakes the job. On average however, I’ve been told it takes from two to four weeks before the fixture is ready for use. I can’t wait until this is done!
If you need help finding someone to repair your vintage tub, or if you want to search for claw foot tub to work with, you can always submit a free inquiry to www.myezbz.com
Energy conservation is often on the minds of home owners and renters for financial and environmental reasons. As we strive to reduce our personal carbon footprints, we also seek to save money wherever possible! Effectiant energy use can enhance natural qualities of a home while maximizing savings. Here are some tips for conserving energy:
Simple Ways of Conserving Energy at Home
- Set the thermostat to its lowest temperature for comfort when there are people in the house.
- When there is no one in the house, set the thermostat to a very, very low temperature.
- When the fireplace is not in use, close the damper.
- Close the doors and reduce the heat in rooms that are not being occupied.
- During the heating season, replace the furnace filters (doing so once a month would be good).
- To reduce the leakage of air underneath exterior doors, use a door sweep (you can get a cheap one).
- Turn off any devices and appliances that are not in use; e.g. shut down computers, turn off the lights in rooms that aren’t occupied.
- If it is possible, crack a few windows at night so as to bring in cooler air at night.
Physical Modifications to Conserve Energy at Home
One very easy way to conserve energy at home is to eliminate all phantom loads. The term “phantom loads” refers to those electrical appliances that are plugged in to the power but are actually not doing anything. These appliances are turned off but are still consuming energy.
- When you go buy new appliances for whatever purpose, look for the most energy efficient ones you know are going to be energy efficient. You can ask for assistance when you go shopping or alternatively, you could look appliances with the Energy Star. These are usually energy efficient and will help you conserve energy at home.
- Light bulbs are another option if you want to conserve energy. It is one of the most cost efficient methods of conserving energy that you can think of. Compact fluorescent light bulbs are cheap and easy to replace. This will save a lot of energy as compared to traditional light bulbs.
- If you want to conserve energy in your home, get a programmable thermostat. These will adjust the temperature of your home according to the schedule you set. This way, your thermostat will do its work only when you need it and not when, for instance, there’s nobody at home.
- Install weather stripping on your doors and windows if it isn’t there already.
- Have insulating gaskets installed behind the electrical gaskets. You can also do this for the switch plates on the exterior walls.
- Where there are unheated areas, insulate the floors.
- Ensure that the stand alone freezer is always maintained at 0 degrees.
- Make a note to replace all the ageing major appliances in your house such as the refrigerator, TVs.
A home septic system can be considered a minor scale sewage treatment system. Homes separate of a typical municipal sewage program have a septic system; this system like others within the home requires attention to maintain optimum performance. An occasional examination and maintenance of the septic tank can help avoid unnecessary repair expenses and can even stop alleviate potential environmental.
When the home septic system is planned properly, it acts as an excellent long-term waste treatment system. The water that comes from various domestic activities can be processed through the system without much thought otherwise. An optimally functional system will ensure your waste is eliminated, while also protecting against pollution of soil and groundwater. On the other hand, if the system is not looked after properly, a property owner could be confronted with significant repair expenses.
Many homeowners tend to forget about the septic system in their homes, taking for granted how the system functions and assuming it will always do so without faltering. As a result, they don't give much thought to preventive maintenance. However, it is important to maintain the septic system at regular intervals to avoid major issues. Emergency issues can be disastrous and costly, including resulting issues in sewage entering the home, polluting landscape areas and even affecting the neighbors and their water supplies.
Preventive maintenance helps save money that can be lost in emergency repairs. The primary purposes of septic tank maintenance are to be pre-emptive and to assist in sewage backups, curtailing overflow and help detect and avoid potential health hazards. Septic tanks should be drained once every 2-3 years depending on frequency and volume of usage.
Look for a good company:
It is a simple to remain on top of this central maintenance system of your home. The foremost thing to be aware of is how the entire system generally works so that it will be helpful for you to recognize any problem easily when one arises.
An experienced professional will look at overall state of the septic system, determine if any repairs are needed, make suggestions and provide other services as needed. They have experience in handling virtually any situation that may arise. These same professionals can also assist you if it’s necessary to install or replace a septic tank. They know the appropriate precautions to take to ensure the installation is carried out correctly and every aspect of the field is looked after. To have a long lasting septic system with good functionality, one needs to go for correct installation of the system, overall system design, and regular maintenance.
Protect your septic system from issues:
Routine maintenance will help you in reducing the risk of water contamination and also will save your money from costly repairs and installations. All the wastewater that come from tubs, sinks, toilets, floor drains will pipe out to the tank. If any solids enter the system, they will settle down at the bottom of the septic and can lead to clogging the drain areas. You need to be cautious about it, and if you see any such sign of water draining or leakage then immediately you need to take action.
If you need assistance finding a septic repair or maintenance contractor you can always submit a free request to www.myezbz.com.
For any homeowner the first question that comes to mind is the cost of the fuel they are consuming. To be very frank, the costs vary a lot owing to the variation in its price in the international and local markets. So, to begin with, it is very important to explore pricing and think about the various pros and cons of propane and oil as a part of home heating, to decipher which is better for your individual circumstances.
Since we are concerned about propane vs.oil in this article, let us see why propane fares better than oil when it comes to choice of fuel:
•Propane cylinders don’t need any chimney since it doesn’t emit smoke.
•An outdoor reset control’ adjusts the firing temperature of modern propane gases. It also regulates the required output matching the load on the gas.
•Propane emits less CO2 in the air in compared to oil fuel, it is less than 24% than traditional fuels.
•Propane pulls the combustion from the outdoors and burns at 15% more efficiency than traditional fuel which makes cooking and heating fast, thus reducing the cost of the consumer.
Above are the salient characteristics of propane gas which makes it more saleable to the consumer. What are the positive signs of propane for which it is the first choice for people in the West when it comes to home heating?
•You can easily afford propane gas which costs 30% less than oil boiler.
•With propane gas, you can heat and power up your appliances, thus making your electric consumption less and your savings higher.
•It heats up oil fast and the heating system is warmer than other electric or oil pumps.
•With propane gas, it is easier to maintain, as it doesn’t need to be cleaned often. The average longevity of a propane gas is 20 years.
•Moreover, propane gas is environment friendly when compared to other heating systems. It dissolves easily in water, thus providing no harm to soil or water per se.
To be clear, propane does come with some disadvantages like:
•Propane gas stations have not yet been set up, so refilling poses a problem.
•It is highly inflammable if exposed to any spark or flames.
•It becomes dysfunctional in freezing temperature because propane being a gas, shrink in the winter months.
Considering the above said points, it is best left to you which one will you choose- propane or oil as a home heating equipment. But if you really need the cost cut, which everyone does in general circumstance, it is best to rely on propane. It will also accelerate the heating and cooking process which will also help you save your time. It is both environment-friendly and pocket-friendly at the same time.
If looking for a heating company or contractor, you can always submit a free request for assistance to www.myezbz.com.
Remember to Keep Your Pets Cool and Hydrated Especially Throughout the Hot Weather.
Just like us humans, our pets experience and get affected by the hot weather. It is, therefore, important to remember to keep your dog, cat, or any other pet cool and well hydrated throughout. Every time you take a glass of water, you should check to see whether your pets’ bowl has water. Every time you look for a shade to cool off, remember to take your pet with you.
Here are 7 Tips to Help You Take Good Care of Your Pets During the Hot Weather
- Trim Your Long-Haired Pets But Not Entirely.
Shaving your pets helps in cooling them down, but still, the pets’ coat is essential in protecting them from sunburn and also overheating. If the hair is long, trim it, but do not shave it entirely. Instead, brush your pets more often to remove the loose fur and prevent overheating.
- Beat the Sun
This is easy. If you are used to taking your pets for a walk during the day, you can reschedule and start taking them out in early mornings before the sunrise or late in the evening after the sunset.
- Walk or Sit Under Some Shade.
At times, you are forced to go out even if the sun is too hot. However, remember to keep your pet out of direct sunlight. You might be wearing some shoes, but your pet will have none. You might also be in some sunglasses and some sun blocking creams while your pets will just be bare. Find some shade for them.
- Leave Your Pets at Home
It’s true you love your pets, and they love you back. It is also true that you enjoy each other’s company, but at times, the weather might not allow it. Driving or walking with your dog while it’s panting all through is not healthy at all.
- Keep them Hydrated
As I said before, keep checking that bowl. Make sure it has enough, fresh, cool, and clean water throughout. Your pets can’t speak, so don’t forget to check the water bowl.
- Know Your Pets Breeds and Their Conditions
If your pets are old, overweight or have some heart or lung conditions, they might not be able to pant effectively which may make them vulnerable to hot weather conditions. Also, if your pet has a flat-shaped face such as in the case of Pugs, Persian cats and Pekingese among others, you should keep them more hydrated as they too can’t pant effectively. This makes them more susceptible to heat stroke.
- Get deeper details about your pets’ body behavior under different conditions.
This is important and can save your pets live. Basically, there are two major reasons why your pets will get overheated; the pets' upper respiratory systems and hyperthermia. Hyperthermia will occur when your pets are trapped in any environment that overpowers their ability to cool themselves, for example inside a car. The second reason, upper respiratory systems, occurs to pets with a compromised upper airway. An example here is a bulldog or any acquired condition such as paralysis of the larynx. This may make the process of removing heat from the pets’ body through panting impossible, and they may end up generating more heat instead.
These seven tips will help you in keeping your pets cool and hydrated in the hot weather conditions. Enjoy!
If you need anything for your pets, whether a dog walker, pet sitter, groomer, veterinarian or pet supply you can always submit a free request to myEZBZ.com of via the EZBZ app!
When engaging in spring-cleaning activities in your home, it is imperative that to practice proactive pest control by looking around for signs of infestation. Although pests are good at hiding, there are certain telltale signs indicating an infestation. Below are some of the obvious signs to look for prior to calling an exterminator.
Shredded, scratched or torn food packaging is often an indication of pest infestation. Such signs usually indicate that pests are getting into the cabinets and eating your stored goods. If you spot any evidence that food items in your pantry have been tampered with, discard the affect items, make a smart decision about anything remaining and call a pest control expert promptly. It is recommended to transfer and store any sugar and flour based items into airtight plastic or glass containers, as this will prevent future infestation. Also, always remember to empty your garbage receptacles on a regular basis and clean the pail with an astringent to eliminate lasting odors and bacteria. Failure to do creates an opportunity to attract even more pests into your home.
Cockroaches, rodents and other numerous pests can be clever when identifying good hiding locations in the home; however, their droppings can be spotted in open locations around the home. When doing regular cleaning, check under appliances, inside cupboards, under furniture and behind boxes and other dark areas. Some obvious things to search for include urine stains and rodent pellets. If you spot any of these, call a pest control expert immediately. Pest are also known to produce odd sounds and smells. Experts say bed bugs produce a sweet but musty odor. Mice emit a musty and urine smell while rats produce a mild ammonia smell. Rodents produce pattering sounds when moving around the house. You can even listen carefully for sounds like squeaking, gnawing, scurrying or scratching within the walls, attic and crawl spaces.
Mice and rats travel using the same routes everyday and they usually leave obvious tracks and food evidence on their paths. Rats run next to walls and leave grease marks. Urine trails, fecal droppings and footprints on dust paths are all signs of possible infestation. Both mice and rats can also leave obvious signs of nesting behind appliances or inside cabinets. Rodents use shredded papers to build nests in hidden places; therefore you can look for these in the kitchen cabinets.
Insects that destroy wood like carpenter ants can be hard to detect, unless the insects themselves have been viewed. However, observations of a powdery residue or sawdust piles near windowsills are strong indicators of wood-destroying pests being present in the home. Pest control professionals should be called immediately since these invaders are capable of causing major structural damage to your house. Other signs of pests that destroy wood are sagging floors, loose trim, and wavy or blistered wood or mud tubes.
All the above signs clearly indicate that your home is experiencing pest infestation. Consequently, you will find it necessary to call in your preferred pest control firm to carry out inspections and eliminate the pests. It is not advisable to purchase over-the-counter pesticides since this make the situation worse.
One of the easiest ways to ensure your swimming pool blends with your backyard is through addition of natural elements such as stones of varying sizes and plants. Adding some shrubs and trees that are a safe distance from the swimming pool can add lushness and shade, while emphasizing the pool. Many landscapers also recommend planting annual and perennial flower beds all around the swimming pool as it provides color and fragrance, while better merging the pool with your backyard. Rocks and boulders can be used to circle flower beds. These elements additionally provide reference points for nighttime walks near the pool.
A sidewalk or walkway is a fantastic addition that is also recommended by many landscapers. The sidewalk or the walkway can be built from your back door right to the pool. Construction of this element can incorporate cobblestone, wooden boards, flagstone steps or other appealing materials. The walkway makes it easy for guide guests to the pool and also prevent grass and dirt from being tracked into the pool area.
For socializing around the pool area and creating a comfortable spot for taking breaks between swims, consider installing some seating places near the pool. Some fantastic additions include reclining seats, couches and lawn chairs. Each will enhance the beauty of your swimming pool for the guests and personal enjoyment. Remind your chosen landscapers to ensure they are properly positioned for safety and maitenance concerns, also to ensure they're properly secured should you live in a particularly windy area.
Lighting is another excellent addition to any pool area. With lighting installed, a pool can be used at any time of the day or night. Landscapers understand how to light up the pool water in ways to enhance the use as well as beauty. The professionals have the capacity and experience to install underwater lights of different colors and even different patterns. Such lighting will obviously make your pool appealing for all occasions.
Basic fences are a safety requirement in most areas, however many homeowners like to take fences a step further so they may enjoy their swimming pools out of view of neighbors. There are many alternatives available and your appointed landscaping professional can help you pick the best. Some owners have found installing a simple chain linked fence, dressed on either side with boxwood or thick shrubs makes an appealing solution.
Coming up with the perfect landscape design for your pool are should not be an exhaustive or difficult chore. By working with a skilled team, adding the appropriate plants, lighting and other numerous additions, you can easily create a highly desirable the swimming area, which adds value in the immediate term as well as for resale.
If you're ready to consult with an expert, or move forward with a landscaping design, consider submitting a request to www.myezbz.com. EZBZs network of highly skilled landscapers are ready to share brilliant ideas while taking into consideration your specific needs.
Natural wood is one of the warmest and most versatile elements used in interior design. It can be utilized as an accent or as anchor point and transform a space into virtually any style. Interested in a rugged rustic look? Or, more drawn by French country style? Both are easy to accomplish with wood. As is old-time sophistication, or the uber masculine style Ernest Hemingway was known for. Even a sleek contemporary edge can be had with wood!
Natural wood is one of the warmest and most versatile elements used in interior design. It can be utilized as an accent or as anchor point and transform a space into virtually any style. Interested in a rugged rustic look? Or, more drawn by French country style? Both are easy to accomplish with wood. As is old-time sophistication, or the uber masculine style Ernest Hemingway was known for. Even a sleek contemporary edge can be had with wood!
Many home owners enjoy the look of natural wood, but are unfamiliar with the differences between one type or another. This brief guide will provide a quick summary of the most popular and readily available options! In future posts, we’ll make recommendations for how to achieve some of the styles mentioned above, so check back!
Oak is one of the most commonly utilized woods in home projects, primarily due to its durability and availability. While there are several dozen species of oak, it is most simply considered in two basic varieties, white and black (also known as red). The primary difference between the two will be the shade of the wood. White oaks tend to have more of a blonde appearance, while black or red oaks have more of a reddish hue.
Oak is a popular choice for furnishings, floors and cabinets. Many homeowners elect not to stain oak, opting for a gloss finish. Over time natural oak will darken slightly, with white oak taking on more of a yellowish hue. The grain of oak tends to be straight and the texture of the wood coarse and uneven. Even with glossed woods, you can often feel a slight roughness beneath the surface, unless it has been heavily buffed in the finishing process.
Maple is one of the most recognizable woods to anyone who is familiar with American colonial furnishings. It has been a popular choice within contemporary furniture designs also, given its versatility and ability to be stained to shades closer to more expensive cherry wood. It is a highly durable and beautiful wood, known for its ability to resist considerable impact. For this reason, it is an excellent choice for kitchen areas such as center aisles and butcher blocks, as well flooring and furnishings in other parts of the home!
Perhaps one of the best features of maple is the obvious non-toxic advantage. It’s hard to resist a wood that also brings us the wonderful sweet syrup used at breakfast. Yes, those same trees that are tapped when young for sap, grow gracefully into the source we rely upon for home building and design!
Cherry, also known as fruitwood is another favorite wood for making furniture items. It is a moderately hard, closed-grain wood that starts as light brown with a few small knots. It slowly darkens after exposure to light and change can be seen within the first couple of weeks. After a few months, it usually turns into rich light brown. If both new and old pieces are left unstained, their colors tend to become progressively similar. Quite a good number of people prefer to use it for making furniture because of its appealing color and strength. Its relatively hard nature makes it resistant to common dings.
Cherry can be a costly wood, although there is no mistaking its rich color when entering a room. It is a beautiful choice for cabinetry and also flooring, especially in small spaces where it can be the star! Bother cherry veneers and solids make fine choices, depending on budget.
Mahogany is considered a traditional furniture wood which is popular for its rich color and straight and smooth grain. This unique feature enables it to have a good quality finish. Mahogany can withstand moisture, which makes it a popular choice among carpenters and designers for making doors and other outdoor woodwork projects.
It’s important to know the origins of Mahogany, to avoid finding yourself with a wood that is called mahogany, but isn’t actually mahogany at all! True mahogany is indigenous to Africa, South America and Central America, with African mahogany typically being the lowest grade. When coming across mahogany from the Phillipines, buyer beware, it is most typically a much less expensive hardwood similar in appearance to mahogany, but not related to mahogany at all.
Walnut is a beautiful, strong and versatile wood with a warm, nutty color to it. It is strong and durable, yet not excessively heavy, which makes it great for a range of projects from flooring to cabinetry and furnishings. It handles finishes quiet well, which is great for emphasizing or evolving the natural beauty. Walnut, more than many other types of wood shows a rich grain, burls, mottles and striping. It ranges from light to dark in color.
Pine is a soft and affordable wood, most commonly used in country designs. Uses ranger from cabinetry to flooring, paneling and furnishings, with the end-user aware the wood will show considerable wear over time. Although, that wear is often what gives pine its charm. Barn wood and broad board floors made of pine have been appealing to designers for years, due to the authentic rustic look each brings to a space. Pine furniture can also be purchased unfinished, for painting and staining to the desired end result.
Although cedar is categorized as soft wood, it is still considered somewhat durable and weather resistant. For this reason cedar is preferred for outdoor furniture and living spaces. When utilized in this manner, it is important to treat it, or protect it from the harshest elements, to extend its life.
Cedar starts off with a red-tan hue, which dulls to a medium grey when exposed to the elements. It is a light-weight wood, with some knots that is easy to work with. Cedar is also highly fragrant, with natural essential oils known for keeping moths and other insects at bay. Given this, cedar makes a great choice for closet construction.
Similar to cedar, cypress is a soft wood that is considered durable and weather resistant. It is sort of a little sibling to hardwood, often grown alongside, harvested and processed at the same time. This, is a testament to its strength! This silver-grey wood is a popular choice for building decks, siding and outdoor furniture given its appealing look and resistance to insects and decay. Cypress contains a natural preservative that helps it stay durable over time. When given a choice, old growth is always preferable over new growth. The newer growth can still contain sap and bleed out at times.
If you've done your research and are ready to act, consider submitting a request through EZBZ to find the service providers or suppliers to complete your design project! Whether it's finding a supplier of a specific type of wood, an interior designer to help guide you in the selection process or a contractor to build or install your dream cabinet and floors, we can help!
Submit a request via EZBZ