Easy Home Improvements For Winter

Easy Home Improvements

The winter months can get long and sometimes you probably get bored, so why not spice things up with some easy home improvements? There are all sorts of projects to take on in the winter. Here are a few easy ones that will get you off the couch and into motion.


The winter is a great time to paint a room or two.  It’s fairly inexpensive and you can complete a painting job in a day or two.

Put in a programmable thermostat

If you still have the old fashioned thermostats, go get yourself a programmable one and install it. This way you can set the thermostat during the winter for your time schedule. When you go to sleep at night or leave for work, program it a couple degrees lower so that you are optimizing your energy usage. Programmable thermostats are inexpensive and not difficult to install.

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What Is A Home Construction Loan?

If you have been thinking about building a home instead of purchasing a pre-made one, building can be a wonderful experience. You get to design the home as you wish and feel like you are a part of the process.  Building your own home takes a great deal of time and it takes money. Most people do not have all of the money up front to build a home, so they have to take out a construction loan.

What is a home construction loan?

A construction loan is a short loan that you take out from the bank to pay for your new home construction. What typically happens is that you take out a short-term loan for the amount of time it takes you to build your home, usually about one year. When the new home is completed, it is then that you will have to get a new loan to pay for the rest of the construction loan. Sometimes this is called the “end loan”.  The end loan will typically be a new loan that is more conventional when it comes to financing a home, such as a fixed-rate 15 year mortgage.

How to qualify for a construction loan

Banks are typically a bit more cautious when it comes to lending money for a construction loan because the building process doesn’t always go smoothly. Sometimes builders don’t do the kind of job they were supposed to do or the house isn’t worth what it was supposed to be worth.  Sometimes construction stops for one reason or another.

Because of this, banks usually have strict requirements for construction loans.  Here are several:

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How to Calculate Construction Costs of Building a New Home

If you want to build your new home, even if you hire out the project to a general contractor, there is one key responsibility you should not pass to a contractor.  You should take the responsibility to calculate construction costs of building a new home.

Since we are likely discussing the largest singular financial transaction you will have, your hands on the purse strings cannot be overstated or overlooked.  If you do not make these calculations and conclude with a total cost, even an estimate, how will you know if and when you exceed your budget?

What should be included in the calculation?

It is more easily said than done.  The short answer is: everything.  The long answer is: be reasonable because details like how many electric light and outlet fixtures you should have is likely to change as the design matures, but these minute details are not usually budget breakers.

There is an easy formula with detailed elements that will confuse matters if they are not accounted for completely and accurately, such as the number and type of doors and windows.  What follows will describe some of the details:  Construction costs of building a new home equals the cost of the property, plus the building cost per square footage in your locale times the square footage of your home, plus building fees.  Built into the square footage cost should be the materials, labor and contractor profit margin.

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How to Get Financing For a Rental Property

Financing for a rental property

So you’re ready to invest in your first rental property, but you don’t have all the cash lined up that you need. This is where financing can come in handy, but it might not be as easy as you think to get your hands on the money. It can be an overwhelming situation, and not one that you should tackle lightly, but if you take the right steps, it can be a very lucrative decision that could pay off big time. If you’re  ready to get financing for a rental property, there are some tips to keep in mind that can help make your dream happen.

Decide what you’re going to do with the property

There are several types of rental properties you can buy, including an already existing house or one that’s pre-construction, the latter of which means you could be involved in the design of the home. You should also decide if you want to buy a fixer-upper or a home that’s already in  good condition. The former will require more of a time and money investment up front, but it could be worth it in the long run.

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Home Ownership vs Renting – How Do I Decide?

If you’re at a point where you’re debating between home ownership vs renting, you’re not alone. It’s a big decision to make, especially considering the monetary investment that’s required. The best way to figure out what to do is to weigh the options side-by-side and consider what’s best for your particular situation. So how exactly do you go about making such a huge decision?

Consider how long you’re staying in one place

If you’re planning on living in one place for a short period of time, or you’re not sure how long you’re going to stay, buying a house may not be in your best interest. It’s not always the easiest process to buy a house, and it would be a shame to go through the entire process only to have to sell it in the near future. Renting gives you the opportunity to leave at any time without the huge hassle. 

Think about the initial cost you can afford

With a house, you have to put down at least 10% of the cost, which typically totals up to around $15,000 or more. When you rent, it’s usually a month and a half worth of rent plus any additional deposit such as one for a pet. If you can’t afford to put down a huge chunk of change, you’re better off renting. 

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Bathroom Remodel Ideas on a Budget

Time after time you use the same toilet, same sink, same shower, and same bathtub, while staring at the same wall color, cabinets and tiles. Do you ever feel “over” your bathroom and want to make an attempt to change it? Update it? Make it unique? If so, remodeling is a great option for you. After spending years in the same house, many people want to make a change and remodel. However, most people who desire to remodel their home do not consider the costs. There are plenty of updates you can make to your bathroom that are not only affordable, but will also provide you with that change you have been longing for.

Here are some great tips on how you can remodel your bathroom on a budget:

Shop in the wholesale section

The best way to drastically cut costs of remodeling your bathroom on a budget is to shop in the wholesale sections of furniture and appliance stores. Wholesale items are cheaper because there is something wrong with them. If there is a small chip in the paint, it will be wholesale. If there is a small crack, it will be wholesale. The best way you can save money when remodeling your bathroom is to be fine with buying an item that may have a little flaw.

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Seven Questions to Ask a Home Inspector

Questions to Ask a Home Inspector

If you are buying or selling a home or planning and executing a significant re-model of the home, hiring a qualified home inspector is an essential part of the transaction to protect all parties involved.

Just as important as choosing the right construction contractor for a project is the choosing of the right home inspector.  You can and want to make sure that the choice is made with accurate information about the candidates.  You do not need to depend on their advertising.  A qualified, competent inspector will expect this fact-gathering exercise and will be pleased to offer the information you request.  If there is hesitation by the prospective inspector to answer any of your questions, that hesitation should be a red light.  Move on with your search.

Here are seven essential questions to ask a home inspector in order to qualify as best choice for your needs:

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How to Investigate the Neighborhood That You Want to Live

Love-struck Freddy in the musical “My fair Lady” expressed the feelings for a desirable neighborhood perfectly.  “People stop and stare.  They don’t bother me, for there’s nowhere else on earth that I would rather be.”  Many of us agree with him that there are neighborhoods where at least the pavement stays beneath your feet, but little else, and then there are neighborhoods where we would rather be than in any other place.

There are some rational and proper reasons to investigate the neighborhood before taking the emotional plunge.  Here’s how to choose the perfect neighborhood for you and your family.

Map the neighborhood

Use any one of the number of online mapping applications (Google, Mapquest, etc.) to enter the street address of a residence you are considering.  These apps should include both a map and a satellite feature.  The satellite feature will be useful to see the bird’s-eye view.  Are the lots of trees?  Open space?  Is there a business nearby that may take street parking?  Does it appear there is heavy street traffic (is the house on a main road or deep in a quiet neighborhood)?  Use the street view feature if available.

What amenities are available nearby?  Shopping, schools, parks and recreation are key features that are desirable too have nearby, but maybe not immediately next door.  You can observe traffic patterns and anticipate if there are times of day when just getting out of the driveway may be a major exercise.

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Should I Hire a Property Manager?

Are you a landlord who that owns several investment properties? Are you feeling stressed out because your work is just piling up? Do you have more work and more headaches than you can handle? If you answered “yes” to these questions, it may be time to hire a property manager to make your work easier and lift some of your hard work off your shoulders. Whether or not you should hire a property manager is a question that many landlords face and sometimes have a difficult time answering. There are certain things you should know about property managers that can make your decision much easier.

What is a Property Manager?

A property manager basically does exactly what the title states; manages your properties. They will be the one who shows the properties when they are available for rent, they will do the background checks and determine which tenants seem like the best fit, they will receive a phone call if something is broken, and they will handle all other odds and ends.

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Questions to Ask Before Building a Home

Building a home is a dream come true for many men and women, as the chance to design and watch your home be built from the ground up is an exciting process. If you happen to be one that wants to build your own home via yourself or a contractor, there are some pretty important questions that you should ask yourself before heading in that direction.  After all, the whole process is quite a bit more intensive than purchasing an already built home.

Great questions to ask:

Can I get financing?

It is important that you are able to get a loan for the amount that the entire project will cost.  How is your credit? Can you get the amount of money that you need?

Can you afford land plus the cost of the build?

Depending on where you live, the cost of land can be affordable or extremely expensive.  Check out the average price of land in your area and figure that together with the estimated cost of the build.  Can you nicely afford that?

Is there land in the area of town that you want to build in?

You might want to be near the lake or near downtown; either way, check to make sure that there is land available in the part of town your prefer.

Do you know a reputable contractor that you can trust?

This is a big one.  Sad to say there are some contractors that try to cut corners, so it is important that you do your homework and find one that has a good reputation and is trustable. Be sure to check with the Better Business Bureau and look at any online reviews of the contracting company.

Are you willing to deal with some building headaches?

I hate to break the news to you, but along with building a house come a few headaches.  Chances are not everything will go as planned and you will encounter some frustration. Are you willing to deal with such headaches?

Once the home is built, will the resale value be advantageous to you?

Should you want to sell your home in five or ten years, what does the resale value look like?  What are the other homes selling for in the area? Compare that with the build price and see how it compares.

What are the building codes?

Do they affect you?  Your contractor ought to be aware of the building codes and how they affect your home.  Have a discussion with him or her or contact your local city building code authority for answers.

What kind of design do you want?

There are literally thousands of home designs to choose from. This is wonderful, but it can also be a bit daunting to choose one.  Be sure to take some time to choose a design that you love, as rushing through this part of the home building process might make you regret it later.

Final thought

If you answer these questions and still feel good about building a home, go for it. The journey may take a bit longer than if you were to purchase a home, but in the end you ought to be thrilled with your newly crafted home.