7 Tips to Buying the Perfect House

-Write down your list of wants.

Before you start your house-hunting journey, sit down with your family and brainstorm. Think about what you’d like to have in your perfect house. You may not be able to have everything on your list. But if you know your ideal, you can better decide whether a house is right for you or not.

-Get pre-approved.

Getting a pre-approved mortgage is one of the most important steps in buying the perfect house. Until you know your loan amount, you’ll be house hunting in the dark. Finding out how much you can afford will narrow the real estate market for you. It’s no fun to fall in love with a house, and then find out it’s out of your price range. Or settle for a house when you can afford much more.

-Look at the square footage price and not just the total.

The real estate listing should have two different figures, the total sale price and the price per square foot. Many buyers only focus on the total. Sometimes you can find a great deal on square footage just by paying a little more in total sales price. If one house has 1700 square feet and costs $175,000, and the other has 2000 and costs $185,000, the second is the better buy even with the higher price tag. It allows you to get the most for your money.

-Keep an open mind about As Is Homes.

Ideally, you’d love to find a move in ready house. But that isn’t always the case depending on your price range or neighborhood. Just because a house has a little wear and tear doesn’t mean you should pass it by. Keep repairs in perspective. A broken tile here and a hideous wall color there is much easier to fix than a decaying roof or structural damage.

-Look for neighborhoods on the rise.

If your house budget is tight, consider moving into a “neighborhood on the rise.” Local residents and newcomers are renovating these neighborhoods, which are mostly in urban areas. The homes are older, and the neighborhoods have a lot of charm. Just because an area was considered “tough” a few decades ago doesn’t mean it’s still that way.

-Drive by at different times of the day.

If you’ve settled on a particular house, do some investigating before you make your offer. Driving by the home at different times during the day will give you an idea of what it’s like to live there. You can find out more about your potential neighbors and address any safety concerns.

 

 

Power Outage Happy Home Tips

5 Tips to a Greener Home

Things have changed about the way we look at remodeling our homes. Green home remodeling has become the best way to improve the value of your home while reducing the cost of living overall. “Smart houses”, sustainable lifestyles” and “green building” are phrases that are appearing more and more in the housing and construction market.

Green is the new black as far as smart investments in home remodeling. We are keenly interested in keeping the cost of living down as well as making our homes “smarter” by redesigning the way they function. Alternate forms of energy like solar panels or wind turbines, energy saving appliances, windows that can take advantage of cross breezes instead of using air conditioning, using recycled building materials and even downsizing a home are all ways we can reduce our carbon footprint with green home remodeling. And, there is no better way to prepare a home for resale or to increase its value nowadays than by making it as “green” as possible.

Here are some green home remodeling tips to make any home more energy efficient and improve its value:

Remodeling Design
The design of your home remodel is crucial. Elements such as: room size, recycled or sustainable building materials, non-VOC paints, placement of windows and doors, insulation, and passive heating and cooling considerations are all factors that can make a difference in green home renovation.

Windows and Doors
Up to 35% of your home’s heating or cooling is lost through windows. This makes it essential that you increase the thermal performance of your windows. Placement of exterior windows and doors can be optimized to take advantage of natural light and heat and to open up air flow. Double glazing will reduce heat loss in the cold of winter and louvered windows can catch a breeze in the heat of summer.

Alternate Energy
The cost of electricity to run lights and electricity or using gas and oil has a huge impact on both the budget and the carbon footprint. Photovoltaic panels catch the sunlight and transform it into energy which can be used in place of traditional energy sources. Water heating can be one of the biggest heating expenses. By replacing an old water heating system with a more energy efficient system that employs the use of solar energy or a high efficiency tank your savings can be significant.

Rain and Grey Water
An exterior rainwater tank to harvest rainfall is one method of getting free water. This can be critical, especially in areas where water is scarce. Water collection tanks don’t have to be fancy. They can be as simple as those you find through agricultural outlets. A grey water system which recycles waste water into the garden or sewage system is also a valuable consideration.

Power Outage Happy Home Tips

Our Power Outage Happy Home Tips

– During a recent power outage, it occurred to us that not everyone out there is ready for such an event, or equipped with the items needed to lighten the sometimes stressful environment it can create.

We have put a few tips together that we hope everyone will find helpful when the lights go out.

Lighting

Candles:

(Keep candles handy; use them to decorate your home if at all possible. They look good and when the lights go out you can ease the tension room by room, lighting one decorative display at a time.)

A: If more light is needed, a piece of tinfoil carefully placed behind the candle will reflect the light into the room instantly doubling the candles lighting capacity.

B: You can also take a piece of tinfoil about 15″x 15″, and place a piece of tape (duct tape works great) on one side and tape it around the base of the candle. Make sure that it is a larger candle around 6 to 8″ tall, and as big around as the average sized soup can. This will allow it to burn longer without melting down to the base. Allowing the tape to remain cool and keep the foil attached.

This type of set up will ultimately allow you to shape the foil around the top of the candle in a bowl shape creating a cheap easy version of a lantern allowing you to focus the candles light where it is needed.

C: There are many different types of candles out there that are designed for survival situations and are meant to burn for long periods of time without issue, but for your typical power outage most display candles found in stores are sufficient. You may want to limit the amount of scented versions, because you will have many candles lit and the mixed smells could become overwhelming.

D: Finally 2 major rules to live by when candles are used:

1: Keep all lit candles stationary to prevent fires, if you need to walk around the house use a flashlight.

2: Above all before going to bed or leaving a room unattended put out all lit candles to prevent a fire. We suggest gathering everyone into a central area (Living room or dinning room) during an outage and only lighting candles in that occupied area. This might be a good time to reconnect and break out some board games.

Household rules

Bathroom courtesy:

(It may sound funny but when there is no power that usually means that the water is gone as well. In most cases you will be lucky to get 2 or 3 flushes per toilet before the reservoir tank is out of water for this we have one rule.)

1: If its yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down.

Fridges & Freezers:

(When the power does go out most of us have no way of knowing exactly when it will be coming back on again. If left closed, on average you can go between 1 & 3 days without power before your current stock of chilled foods is lost to spoilage. We advise the following three rules to prevent early spoilage.)

1: If possible prepare meals that don’t involve items kept in the fridge or freezer to maintain their temperature as long as possible.

2: Avoid opening either of them unless absolutely necessary. If it happens to be winter and you have snow on the ground, setting items outside in the snow could save you from having to repurchase your freezers contents.

3: Last but not least if you do need to get something out, think ahead about what you want and get in and out quickly. Don’t make it Christmas shopping on Black Friday and let all that cold air out looking around with the door open.

Heating:

(Most heaters need electricity to work or can give off dangerous fumes when used indoors. If you have a gas stove it may not light when you turn the knob, but the gas is still there. If you turn it on you can easily light it manually with a match, we recommend the extended grilling lighters to avoid burns. Use it to keep warm or cook as usual with one rule in mind.)

1: Above all make sure when you are finished you shut off the gas. We recommend trying to relight it immediately after shutting it off to make sure no gas is still coming out.

Appliances:

(In almost every case the power will come back on, keep this in mind when going to bed or putting your little ones to sleep. You don’t want to get the good news at 3am and have your house light up like the 4th of July!)

1: Before heading to bed check the light switches, TV’s, Radio’s and Computer or all of the above to make sure they are off. If you can’t remember if it was on when you lost power just unplug it until morning and save some energy in the process.

Water

Drinking water:

(If you’re up on your storage needs you should have some set aside, but for convenience sake keep a gallon or two in your fridge. Just make sure you take them out as soon as you loose power to maintain the cold and put them into a cooler to have some cold drinking water on hand.)

Useful water:

(If you can get yourself a 55 gallon drum and attach a faucet onto the base, it can be filled with tap water or collected rain water. It may not be drinkable but can be handy to carry in by bucket in case someone breaks the (Don’t flush the toilet rule) to refill the reservoir tank on the back of the toilet.)

Kids

Babies:

(With young children these types of situations can be scary so try to plan ahead and talk to them about what to do when it happens. Try to also plan ahead to ease the situation by finding creative ways to maintain any routines they are used to.)

1: Get a few of the dome shaped push to turn on infomercial lights to substitute as a battery powered night light.

2: Use a MP3 player or Walkman with some simple portable speakers that can run off the built in earphone jack so they can still listen to their lullaby music if that is what they are used to. Any interruptions in a structured routine will result in a difficult time getting them to bed.

Younger children:

(The older the child the less help or comforting they will need but it is still smart to give them tools to adapt to the new circumstances.)

1: Give everyone their own flashlight, it will make them feel safe and come in handy if they need to use the bathroom. Don’t be surprised if the batteries are dead the next day, even big kids can be scared of the dark.

2: Keep a few glow sticks in the freezer; you can usually find cheap little sets at the dollar store. They can help to comfort them and save on flashlight batteries as well as turn a potentially scary night into a fun and cool night playing with glow sticks. Depending on the child’s age use good judgment or buy ones with a thick shell so they don’t break or crack and leak the fluorescent liquid, you never know if its toxic or not but if it glows it cant be that good.

Final Thoughts

Power outages can be scary but, when properly prepared and planned for can make for a night of peace and quiet. Free from the loud crazy TV, Video game, Radio and rumbling background appliance filled world we are all so used to.

It can give you a chance to sit down, read a book or take the opportunity to play an old fashion board game. Grow as a family and really begin reconnecting to those strangers we all so often take for granted (Our family).

4 Tips To Keep In Mind When Buying House And Land Packages

Is 2013 the year you’ll be buying a new home? Builders offer many exciting choices in house and land packages, so as you pour over floor plans to find the one with the best traffic flow, space, and general appeal, don’t forget to consider the land the structure will sit on.

Make Sure Your Floor Plan Is Right For Your Lot

Finding a lot with a view is easy, and there are plenty of designs that will look stunning there. You need to make sure the design you pick is the right one for the land. If you are looking at a home in a development, where the positioning of the units is predetermined, make sure the one you will own will be well placed on your lot so it offers scenery and privacy.

Build A Showplace, Not A Fishbowl

Open floor plans are quite popular in modern residential design because they offer flexibility and flow and can be built to be energy efficient. Even when the home incorporates large amounts of glass, you still do not want to feel like you’re living in a fishbowl. The design you choose and the positioning of your home on the lot can compromise your privacy if you do not consider the proximity of homes and passing traffic. Do you really want your master bedroom with floor-to-ceiling windows to face the neighbours?

Work With The Sun

Having air conditioning in a home is a given, but the way your home is situated affects the temperature inside and climate control costs. Experts suggest that your rooms face north, with features such as bathrooms, utility rooms, storage areas and theatre rooms located at the southern part of the home. Doors and windows that face the west should be as small as possible. Unless you have trees or other homes to block some of the southern exposure, you should have window overhangs of about 900mm to allow light, but reduce some of the heat and glare. Even within the same subdivision, certain plans might work better on specific lots, so be mindful of both the design and the lot you choose.

Avoid Zoning Nightmares

When you buy a home/lot package from a builder, they have most likely worked out all zoning considerations with the local council, but you should still do your due diligence on the property. To keep costs in check, avoid building in a bushfire-prone zone where you will need to add sprinklers or in an area that requires a Flora and Fauna or geological study that might limit where you can build on the property. A few calls to your local counsel should assure you that your building plans will not be unexpectedly interrupted by a visit from the local council housing inspector.

In order for your home to live up to the dream, do some thinking and research on your own before you commit to one of the biggest purchases of your life.