Ellen McLaughlin - Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage



Posted by Ellen McLaughlin on 11/29/2020

Image by mnplatypus from Pixabay

Proper insulation not only helps you save on your energy bills. It reduces your energy impact on the environment and may create a great selling point for your home when the time comes. But knowing were to insulate an existing home can be a project. Here's what you need to know.

How to Do an Insulation Assessment

First, you'll need to turn off the power at the breaker box. Have your flashlights ready. 

Remove outlet covers around your home and look inside to see if you have insulation. You might not have to check every outlet, but do check them on multiple floors and one on each wall to understand how well walls are insulated. 

If you have a wall that gets hot in the summer or cold in the winter, you may want to dig deeper. Pull a little out to see what kind it is and how thick it is.

Next, check your attic, basement and crawlspaces. This insulation you can more easily see. Use a yardstick to measure its depth and look for areas that are thinner than others.

Additionally, you may consider insulating:

  • Around storm windows
  • On band joints
  • Around pipes that might freeze
  • Between the studs on a finished attic floor
  • What You'll Need to Install Installation

    There are many insulation projects you can DIY. For example, re-caulking leaky windows and sealing drafty doors can help tremendously. But you can also add insulation in the attic and basement with either loose-fill or blanket insulation. Here's what you need.

  • LED lamp clip-on. You need your hands, so flashlights won't cut it.
  • Insulation of choice
  • 1-2 3/4" plywood panels to stand on if there's no floor
  • Goggles and a mouth/nose mask to protect your eyes and lungs
  • Long sleeves and gloves to reduce residue settling on your skin. Some materials cause terrible itching and bleeding if scratched.
  • Staple gun (for rolls) or insulation blower (for loose)
  • Prep the Area

    Take this opportunity to look for leaks. If you see signs of active water damage, you need to repair it before laying insulation. Now, place your plywood so you have somewhere to stand safely.

    Lay Insulation

    Lay insulation in areas where it's lacking. You can staple it to roof beams and beams on the floor. Just cut it to size if needed. 

    Keep in mind that when you open a pack of roll insulation, it expands. So please don't open it until you have it in the general area where you want it.

    *Pro tip* To cut blanket insulation more easily to fit, lay a two-by-four over the place where you want to cut it. This temporarily compresses it there so that you have a thickness that's easier to cut through.

    If using loose insulation, power up your insulation blower and aim where padding is needed. Always, carefully rinse off after applying insulation to reduce skin and lung exposure.

    And you're ready for lower energy bills through winter and summer. For more tips DIY home maintenance tips, follow our blog.




    Categories: DIY  


    Posted by Ellen McLaughlin on 11/22/2020

    Want to list your house in the not-too-distant future? Ultimately, your house's curb appeal may have far-flung effects on your ability to sell your residence.

    In most instances, a house with a dazzling front lawn is likely to make a distinct impression on potential buyers. This home may prove to be more popular than similar residences that are available, and as such, sell at or above its initial asking price.

    On the other hand, a home with a messy, cluttered front lawn is unlikely to impress potential buyers. In fact, the front lawn may detract from the home's value, making it tough for a seller to maximize his or her earnings.

    When it comes to enhancing your house's front lawn, it may be a good idea to hire a professional landscaper. Because if you have a professional landscaper at your disposal, you can get the assistance that you need to rejuvenate the front lawn of your home and enhance your residence's curb appeal.

    Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you find the ideal professional landscaper before you list your house.

    1. Shop Around

    Many top-notch professional landscapers are available in cities and towns nationwide. If you evaluate assorted professional landscapers in your area, you may be better equipped than ever before to make an informed hiring decision.

    Remember, as a home seller, it is important to do everything possible to enhance your house's curb appeal. And if you dedicate the necessary time and resources to find the right professional landscaper before you list your residence, you can improve your house's curb appeal and boost the likelihood of a fast, profitable home selling experience.

    2. Ask Questions

    A professional landscaper typically is happy to respond to your questions. Thus, you should not hesitate to ask lots of questions to a variety of local professional landscapers to ensure that you can find the right landscaper to fulfill your requests.

    Don't forget to discuss your home improvement goals with various professional landscapers too. That way, you can compare and contrast myriad professional landscapers and hire a landscaper who can help you achieve the best-possible home improvement results.

    3. Review Client Feedback

    Client feedback about professional landscapers usually is readily available, particularly for landscapers who have completed a wide range of successful projects in the past. Therefore, you should search far and wide for client feedback to find a professional landscaper who can match or exceed your expectations.

    A simple web search of a professional landscaper may provide you with access to client feedback. You also can request client referrals directly from a professional landscaper to learn what it's like to work with a particular landscaper before you finalize your hiring decision.

    Lastly, if you need extra assistance as you search for a professional landscaper, you may want to consult with a real estate agent as well. A real estate agent can put you in touch with first-rate professional landscapers in your area and ensure that you can bolster your house's curb appeal before you list your residence.





    Posted by Ellen McLaughlin on 11/15/2020


     

    Have you ever walked into a room and wondered, "What is that smell?” Perhaps it's the kitchen trash, or maybe a clogged drain or the moldy-smelling washing machine. No matter what might be giving off that foul odor, there are tricks that you can use to bring a halt to it.

    Here are simple tricks to seek and remove any awful smells coming from your home.

    1. Track it down

    When it comes to smells, the sources could be numerous. The first step would be to find out where the stench is coming from, and bring it to an end. Check the places the smell could be emanating from such as your kitchen sink, the trashcan, the bathroom or even an accent rug. It could also be mold or mildew in the crevice of the tub or the lip of the fridge, or an animal carcass in the dryer vent or chimney. Once you have located the source, determine if you'll need to disinfect the area or if you'll simply need to throw away the cause of the smell.


    2. Sewer smells

    Sewer smells in the basement is one of the worst and concerning smells that could infiltrate your home. Is it a result of trapped water under a floor drain, or perhaps a clogged drain or a cracked sewer line? No matter the cause, it is imperative to find the source of the odor as soon as possible as leaving it unchecked could result in loss of your home's value. As soon as you discover what the problem is, fix it immediately to avoid any potential property value decreases or possible health issues that could arise from any substance residing within the sewage or trapped water.Some circumstances may require the assistance of a professional plumber or cleaner to take care of the issue. Be sure to get the appropriate estimates needed to correct the problem and clean away residue from areas that may have been affected.


    3. Carpet and rug odors

    Most of the time, homeowners keep looking for the source of that annoying house smell, forgetting to pay attention to the very thing beneath them – the carpet or rug. But often times, a simple cleaning will correct the issue of an over-trafficked carpet or rug. While vacuuming may get rid of the immediate dirt, you may need to delve a little deeper and steam or wash it. You could clean with a mixture of one part white vinegar and three parts water to remove the smell. You may opt to put it in your carpet cleaner and deep clean the rugs or simply spot treat a particular area. Either way, a homemade mixture or store-bought one can do wonders for your home's scent.


    4. Food smell

    Most of the time, cooking smells can get trapped in your kitchen, especially if you have a diverse menu of heavily spiced produce and proteins. A great way to remove the smell of these dishes from your kitchen and home is to wipe down the cabinets, interior and exterior, to get rid of any food residue or scents that may be trapped on or inside the cabinets. You may also want to consider removing any food waste after enjoying the dishes or if there are any raw components left over once you're done cooking.

    Perhaps you may be worried that you might be too accustomed to possible weird smells in your home to know when one creeps up. Ask your real estate agent or staging professional to do a walkthrough of your home and get a second opinion. Once you’ve solved any deterring smell issues, create good scents to entice your buyers. Your agent will know what works best for buyers in your area, from cedar to baking bread.





    Posted by Ellen McLaughlin on 11/8/2020

    No matter what your age, buying a new home symbolizes the beginning of a new chapter in your life. It's an exciting event, whether you're a first-time home buyer or a retiree looking to downsize. When you stumble upon a house in your price range that has the features and characteristics you've been searching for, it can be a life-changing moment!

    Unfortunately, it's at this point that many people cast their good judgment to the wind! Although it's difficult to separate your emotions from the rational part of your brain, it's crucial that you try to make a balanced decision -- one that's based on your budget, your short-term needs, and your long-term goals.

    Sometimes buyers can develop "tunnel vision" when they see a house with a white picket fence, a big backyard, or a cozy-looking eat-in kitchen. In some cases, people are irresistibly drawn to a house that reminds them of where they grew up. While all those elements can enhance a home's ambiance and charm, the most satisfying home-buying choices usually come from being able to look at "the big picture."

    One vital step in the house-buying process that helps eliminate a lot of the risk is having the property carefully looked over by a certified house inspector. That way, even if your judgement is a little skewed by your emotional attachment to the house's architectural style or its resemblance to the house you grew up in, you can be reasonably sure it is structurally sound and free from any major defects. Although home inspectors can't look behind walls or accurately predict how long an HVAC system will last, they can provide you with valuable insights into the condition of the house, the stability of the foundation, and other aspects of the property. When you know the strengths and weaknesses of a house you're considering buying, you can make an informed decision that will be based, in large part, on a professional, objective opinion.

    Other factors worth bringing into your decision might include the commuting distance to your job or business, the amount of privacy the property affords, the overall character of the neighborhood, and the proximity of the property to grocery stores, drug stores, other retail shops, entertainment, recreation, childcare, medical services, family, friends, and other necessities. When choosing a place to call home, you may also want to take note of how quiet (or noisy) the neighborhood is, its access to highways and transportation services, and the reputation and ranking of the local school district.

    Additional information about desirable places to live can be gleaned from websites like Livability, U.S. News and World Report, Niche, Money Magazine, and the National Association of Realtors. To get expert guidance that relates to your specific circumstances and wish list, consider working with an experienced real estate agent. They'll help you navigate the market, negotiate on your behalf, and find the home that best suits your needs and lifestyle.





    Posted by Ellen McLaughlin on 11/1/2020

    Photo by Agung Pandit Wiguna from Pexels


     

    You see it in your favorite magazines -- or maybe on Pinterest. The ultimate outdoor dining and entertainment experience has elevated basic hosting to an art form, and you can use your existing set up to create a truly spectacular experience for your family and your guests. Follow the tips below to make the most of your entertainment spread and to create an event your guests won't soon forget.

    Choose a Theme

    You don't have to have a formal idea of what you'll do, or even list it out in great detail, but "authentic Hawaiian luau" looks very different from "Easter Dinner" so knowing what you want to accomplish helps you create an actionable road map.

    Plan the Food

    Plan out a menu and order any specialties that you need to; specialty foods, meats and even poultry need to be ordered in advance to ensure you are able to get everything you need when you need it. Depending on your own storage space, arrange to have your purchases delivered. Store on dry ice if needed before the big day arrives.

    Determine Seating

    Your outdoor entertaining area is probably designed with your own family in mind, but a larger group will need more places to sit and relax. Consider renting pieces and having them delivered and set up for the event. You'll be able to host everyone in comfort and not have to worry about running out of room.

    Order decor:

    Order the items you need for serving, if you don't already have them on hand. Depending on the size and theme of the gathering, you may need additional plates, flatware, stemware and more. Again, a rental place can furnish you with many of the things you need at surprisingly affordable rates. This is also the time to order flower arrangements, entertainment and other things that will create ambiance.

    Clean it up

    Your outdoor kitchen is already in great shape, but having a team to up the yard, clean all surfaces and ensure your home is ready to entertain will give you a break and ensure you feel ready to show your place off.

    Set up in the Morning

     Even if you have an evening event planned, setting up key pieces in place, making sure drinks are cold enough to share and prepping the food early will allow you the time you need to get ready for your guests and give you the chance to enjoy your own gathering.

    Get ready to show off. With the food ready, seating in place, and an outdoor oasis that is truly event ready, you'll be able to show off your entertainment spread and make the most of your home and yard. Careful preparation, paired with attention to detail allows you to share your favorite space with your friends and family, and to show off what you've worked so hard to create.

    Outsourcing some food and prep work can help you focus on the actual event and on creating the recipes and experiences you most want to share. Check out any components you are considering doing on your own, just to make sure the DIY approach is truly the swiftest or most affordable way to get ready for your event. 

    Start planning a few weeks in advance -- this will give you time to order any decorative items you need and to special order food for your guests. You'll be more relaxed on the big day and be better able to enjoy yourself and your home.




    Categories: DIY