Spruce Up Your Outdoor Spaces

(Family Features)—Over time, the appearance and function of any outdoor space can dull due to combinations of heat, precipitation and use. With some careful attention, you can quickly spruce up your outdoor living areas and get them back in great working order for patio season.

Take care of textiles. Outdoor textiles often take a beating from the elements. Freshen up often-overlooked things like outdoor rugs, lawn furniture cushions, pillows and umbrellas. A thorough vacuuming may be adequate to remove leaves, bugs or dirt; however, if stubborn spots persist and a deeper cleaning is needed, review the manufacturer's guidelines. Washing covered furniture from time to time helps ensure it's ready for use no matter the season.

Declare dust-off limits. Dingy light fixtures and fans lend an air of disrepair in any space. Outdoors, they'll undoubtedly collect dust and dirt quickly, but a deep clean can help make them easier to maintain. Dust and scrub as needed, and if necessary, grab a scrub brush and some soapy water to brighten up other items like decorative pieces and flower pots.

Freshen up finishes. From furniture to hard surfaces, the finishes can take a beating. Take time to bring these items back to their former glory by rinsing, scrubbing and brushing dirt away from your wrought iron, metal, aluminum or wicker furniture. If needed, apply a fresh coat of sealant or add a rust-preventive layer of new paint. The same applies for other surfaces with finishes that may be chipped and dull.

Blast away grime. A careful sweeping with a sturdy broom is a good starting point, but to get your outdoor space truly clean you may need a little more power. When used at the appropriate settings, a pressure washer can clean a wide range of surfaces from patios, decks and sidewalks to siding, windows, screens and tables.

Souce: Briggsandstratton.com/OutdoorCleaning

Thanks for visiting my Blog site. If you would like to discuss this topic with me or get more information please contact me by calling 919-247-4667 or emailing me at Tim@TheTrianglesBroker.com. And you can always visit my personal real estate website for lots of additional information and to search for homes at www.TheTrianglesBroker.com or www.BuyAndSelllingTriangleHomes.com  McBrayer – The Triangles Broker.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

Consumers Demand Improved Indoor Air Quality

By John Voket

A recent report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS)—a collaboration between the Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Harvard Kennedy School—states that today's homeowners want to take greater action to address healthy-home issues; however, they face obstacles such as lack of trustworthy, clear, and actionable information. In a related blog, report co-author Mariel Wolfson says the housing industry must do better demonstrating and responding to consumer demand.

Wolfson discovered that:

– Nearly one in four households in a JCHS survey had some concern about health-related issues in their homes; more than 20 percent acknowledged uncertainty about whether their homes might contain health risks.

– Nearly half of American homeowners responding to the survey have some level of interest in healthy-home issues.
– Sixty percent had already taken action—even if minor—to create a healthier indoor environment at home.
Wolfson says data proves consumers want their homes to contain fewer toxic materials and have good indoor environmental quality overall, but they need trustworthy expertise, services and information from the industry.

Building professionals who have relevant expertise—which includes knowledge of healthier/non-toxic materials and practices—have a distinct competitive advantage when working with individual homeowners and owners of multifamily buildings.

If you are a homeowner looking to integrate more indoor air quality (IAQ) features into an existing home, or are planning to build one and want to maximize air quality features, Wolfson says, there are a growing number of initiatives that work to help building professionals develop this expertise.

She advises consumers to steer prospective contractors or builders toward resources such as HealthyHousingSolutions.com, which offers training courses, as well as the  National Center for Healthy Housing; the Healthy Building Network; the Perkins and Will Transparency project; and the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative.

Wolfson also notes that the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) strategy for action is another valuable resource.

Thanks for visiting my Blog site. If you would like to discuss this topic with me or get more information please contact me by calling 919-247-4667 or emailing me at Tim@TheTrianglesBroker.com. And you can always visit my personal real estate website for lots of additional information and to search for homes at www.TheTrianglesBroker.com or www.BuyAndSelllingTriangleHomes.com  McBrayer – The Triangles Broker.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

A Handy Guide to Starting a Home Remodel

(Family Features)—Apprehension and inexperience keep many homeowners from pursuing renovation projects that would make their homes more functional, enjoyable and comfortable. Getting your hands dirty on the front-end—with some planning and preparation—is the best blueprint for a successful home remodeling project.
To help you start your remodel on the right track, consider these tips from Gary White with JCPenney Home Services.

Start With a Plan
Although it may sound obvious, the first step really is to decide what you hope to accomplish with your renovation. At the least, begin to outline rough ideas to discuss with an expert. Reaching out to contractors before you've determined a basic idea for your project can waste time and money. Spend time listing the features you must have, as well as some nice-to-haves if budget allows. Also think about overall functionality, design and layout. If you get overwhelmed or need ideas, don't hesitate to turn to online showrooms or magazines for inspiration.

Set a Budget
If the sky is the limit, skip ahead, but if you're like most homeowners, money matters. Have a clear idea of what you can afford to invest in your renovation before you get started, and if necessary, research the financing options available to you. Look for financing that provides deferred interest or low monthly payments to help manage the project cost. Setting a clear budget can help keep your contractors accountable, and it goes a long way toward ensuring you can enjoy your finished project without regret.

Draw Up the Plans
To help set your plan in motion, there are numerous online tools you can utilize to simplify each step of the process including design, budgeting and more. If you're planning a home remodel, a comprehensive resource, like JCPenney Home Services, offers a one-stop-shop for bathroom remodeling, countertops, custom window treatments, flooring, heating and cooling, water heaters and whole-home water treatment.

Involve a Professional
Unless you have the time and skills, you'll want a licensed and insured contractor to lead the project when you're ready to get your renovation in motion. It can be wise to solicit multiple bids, not only to ensure you get the best value, but also to find someone whose work, style and experience is most in-line with the needs of your project. After all, this person will be a big part of your life during a fairly stressful time period. Always check references and verify the contractor's standing with local associations.

Get Ready for Work
Remember that you'll need to create a work environment that is safe for your contractors and protects your valuable possessions. Establish a clear path to the project space for easy access and removal of debris. Furniture, appliances, room furnishings, valuables and breakable items should be removed from both the path to the work site and the work site itself. If your renovation project will involve an essential room, such as the kitchen or a bathroom, make alternate arrangements, such as creating a makeshift kitchen with the bare necessities, in another part of the house.

Source: JCPenney Home Services

Thanks for visiting my Blog site. If you would like to discuss this topic with me or get more information please contact me by calling 919-247-4667 or emailing me at Tim@TheTrianglesBroker.com. And you can always visit my personal real estate website for lots of additional information and to search for homes at www.TheTrianglesBroker.com or www.BuyAndSelllingTriangleHomes.com  McBrayer – The Triangles Broker.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

Homeowners: How You Can Help Your Local Wildlife

Do you love looking at the wildlife in your yard? From butterflies to birds and bunnies to bees, here are several easy and impactful ways to participate and start helping your local wildlife, from the National Wildlife Federation (NWF):

Create a habitat for your local wildlife. Think first of the birds, butterflies and bees that you can support in your garden habitat, then select plants that provide the kinds of food they need, such as nectar, berries or seeds. Plant according to your region, local environment and conditions, from sunny deserts to shady woodlands. Use NWF's "Plant Finder" to get a list of the plants native to your area that support wildlife.

Think small. No yard? No problem! For those with small outdoor spaces, select pots and planters that allow you to plant a selection of blooming pollinator-friendly native plants.

Plant for year-round diversity and beauty. Wildlife needs food, water, cover and places to raise young all year. Choose a variety of plants that bloom at different times of the year, from native wildflowers to shrubs that produce berries. Evergreens provide year-round cover. Think vertically, too. Incorporate existing large trees and then underplant with smaller trees and shrubs for cover and nesting places.

Plant in groups. This will result in more color, textural impact and eye-catching patterns throughout the garden bed or landscape. This technique also draws the eye into the garden, and the close plantings will prevent weeds and minimize the need for excess mulching. Clusters of blooming plants are more likely to attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.

Keep water sources in mind. Adding bird baths or container water gardens help attract a variety of wildlife, from birds to tree frogs.

Certify your garden. Celebrate by certifying your garden with the National Wildlife Federation and proudly display a sign! Show why you have designed your yard intentionally to help wildlife and encourage others to do the same. Certifying also spreads the wildlife gardening message to your entire neighborhood.

Source: www.nwf.org/garden

Thanks for visiting my Blog site. If you would like to discuss this topic with me or get more information please contact me by calling 919-247-4667 or emailing me at Tim@TheTrianglesBroker.com. And you can always visit my personal real estate website for lots of additional information and to search for homes at www.TheTrianglesBroker.com or www.BuyAndSelllingTriangleHomes.com  McBrayer – The Triangles Broker.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

Countertops 101: Granite vs. Quartz

(Family Features)—Kitchens and bathrooms are among the most common renovation projects, and countertops are often a focal point of these redesigns; however, choosing the right countertop can be overwhelming. To help make the difficult decision a little simpler, JCPenney Home Services experts offer insight on two of the most popular choices:

Granite
Granite countertops have long been the mainstay of a beautiful kitchen or bathroom. Granite is a natural stone, quarried from large stone deposits around the world. It can have many different variations of patterns and colors, giving each slab a unique appearance that is visually rich and dynamic.

In addition to its distinctive beauty and classic elegance, granite is also extremely durable. Granite is highly resistant to heat and scratches and, with proper sealing, offers good water and stain resistance, and is easy to clean.

Granite typically needs to be sealed, both prior to installation and at least once per year. If properly maintained, a granite countertop will last for as long as you own your home, making it a potential long-term investment.

Quartz
Quartz is another popular choice for countertops due to its durability, stain resistance and ease of maintenance.

It's an engineered product made mostly from up to 93 percent quartz, a non-porous natural stone, combined with a small amount of binder and color. Small particles of glass or reflective metal flakes can also be added to some quartz designs to achieve a more unique look. The result is an attractive slab that can be made in a wide variety of tones and colors, and can be finished to duplicate high-gloss, polished stone.

Quartz is one of the most durable countertop materials and one of the easiest to maintain. It is highly resistant to heat, water and stains, including stains from coffee, wine, lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar and more. Unlike granite, quartz does not need to be sealed, making it easier to maintain over time.

Source: JCPenney Home Services

Thanks for visiting my Blog site. If you would like to discuss this topic with me or get more information please contact me by calling 919-247-4667 or emailing me at Tim@TheTrianglesBroker.com. And you can always visit my personal real estate website for lots of additional information and to search for homes at www.TheTrianglesBroker.com or www.BuyAndSelllingTriangleHomes.com  McBrayer – The Triangles Broker.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

How-To Fireproof Your Home

Whether you live in an area with wildfire risks, or simply want to know how to properly plan for a potential fire, knowing how to build a fire wall in and around you home could potentially save your property one day. Here are a few tips for starting:

Build a barrier. Try and create a barrier around your home using materials that don't easily catch flame, such as a slate patio, concrete walk up, or gravel.  Aim for a border of 100 feet around your home. You should also move any single standing wood structures such as sheds or swingsets back.  

Clean weeds, brush and undergrowth. While it may seem easy to dump dry brush around the perimeters of your yard after weeding or mowing, you may inadvertently be creating fire fuel leading up to your home. Properly get rid of dry leaves, trimmings and brush, moving them off site and minimizing dry matter around your home.

Add fire resistant plants. Plants with high moisture content and low resin can actually help stave off fire. Inquire with a specialist about what may work in your area, and plant them around your 100-foot border.

Build with fireproof materials. This is more helpful if you're building, renovating, or choosing a home in a high fire area. Avoid using all wood material in your home, and consider options such as tin or concrete panels that have fire resistant foam in the middle. Pay special attention to your roof and siding, if you can. Use tile, metal, stucco or stone over wood. And avoid large wood decks, opting instead for synthetic material that are slower to burn.

A word on windows. Fire often enters homes through the window, so pay mind to yours by choosing double pane glass and metal window frames, not wood.

Create easy access for help. This is especially important if you do live in a high fire-risk zone. Make sure a fire truck can arrive at your home with ease by having a well-paved drive and removing obstacles like gates or carports.

Declutter. Fire is the perfect excuse for purging your home. Boxes of old clothes, photos and papers are the perfect fire fuel, so donate, clear, and remove all that you can.

Practice fire safety. While most of these tips have focused on fire coming from outside your home, pay mind to activity inside as well. Replace old appliances, avoid leaving candles burning when you're not in the room, never place lamps or bulbs too close to your curtains, and ensure your fire alarm is working.

Thanks for visiting my Blog site. If you would like to discuss this topic with me or get more information please contact me by calling 919-247-4667 or emailing me at Tim@TheTrianglesBroker.com. And you can always visit my personal real estate website for lots of additional information and to search for homes at www.TheTrianglesBroker.com or www.BuyAndSelllingTriangleHomes.com  McBrayer – The Triangles Broker.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.