Blog :: 04-2016

It's All About the Journey ... Fun Places to explore on a Photo-Worthy Connecticut Road Trip!

Sometimes we're not aware of interesting things to see and do right, in our own backyard! Let's take a virtual road trip to inspire you to get out and explore what you can be found right here in the Constitution State. This tour is perfect for the photographer, or anyone who likes interesting sights.

13 Amazing Places In Connecticut That Are A Photo-Taking Paradise

courtesy of onlyinyourstate.com

It's All About The Journey ... The Most Common Spring Cleaning Mistake (Plus 8 Others)

Continuing with the "Spring Spruce-Up" theme, here are some tips to help get you started

If you really want an allergy-proof home, avoid this typical spring routine.

Once there’s even a glimmer of spring, you’re ready to throw open your windows and let the breeze blow away the winter funk. Well, you might want to rethink that spring cleaning ritual this year.

If you’re an allergy sufferer (and who isn’t?), that’s the last thing you want to do, says Dr. Neeta Ogden, a spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. “It will allow pollen to settle in your home.â€

If you really can’t skip that spring breeze, avoid opening them in the morning, pollen counts are highest in the morning; they decrease late in the day and at night.

And that’s not the only common spring-cleaning mistake homeowners make. Here are eight more to avoid:

1. Not Looking Up

ceiling fan You’ve worked up a sweat and everything’s starting to sparkle, but then you realize your ceiling fan is coated in dust. Uh, oh. Once you start wiping the fan, dust will scatter on what you’ve already cleaned. That’s why you should always look up to see what needs dusting before you start cleaning at eye level. Tackle hard-to-reach places like the tops of bookshelves, crown molding, and window ledges.

2. Starting to Clean Without a Plan

schedule You wake up motivated - today you’re going to get all your spring cleaning done! But by noon, your house is in disarray, and not one single room is finished. Ugh. That’s why Briana Norde, owner of Caliber Cleaning Inc. says it pays to break up the biggest cleaning project of the year into smaller, more manageable tasks.

She recommends conquering your hardest job first, like the kitchen, which she calls the “most time-consuming room.†With that first accomplishment under your belt, you’ll have the momentum to take on the remaining tasks. The key is to give yourself plenty of breaks. And there’s nothing wrong with spreading it out over several days.

3. Ignoring That Weird-Looking Vacuum Attachment

vacuum accessories

Don’t let your carpet hog the vacuum. The crevice tool, Norde says, “is not used nearly enough.†Use it between your wall and refrigerator to get out the accumulated dust that’s otherwise unreachable, and run it around the edge of your baseboards to clean where standard upright vacuums can’t reach.

4. Skipping the Mattress

mattress

Think of how much time you spend in your bed. Yet, you probably clean the top of your fridge more often than your mattress. Your mattress harbors millions of dust mites, which cause various respiratory conditions including sneezing, a runny nose, itchy eyes, and skin rashes (not to mention just being plain gross).

“[Dust mites’] food is human skin scales, so the bed is just heaven for them,†says Ogden.

She recommends using a vapor steam cleaner to root out the itchy devils, then wrapping it in an anti-allergen mattress protector.

At the very least, sprinkle your mattress with baking soda and let it sit for awhile. Then (using the attachment mentioned above) vacuum it up.

5. Relying on Harsh Cleaners

skull & crossbones

There’s a reason many commercial cleaners have the words “danger,†“hazard,†or “caution,†on their labels. Something in the ingredients is toxic in one form or another, and most all could aggravate allergies and asthma. So, “don’t go crazy with cleaners you don’t need,†says Ogden. Moldy bathrooms may scream for bleach, but most surfaces do not. Ogden recommends making your own solution of water and vinegar (use a fifty-fifty ratio), which will keep most surfaces clean and germ-free.

6. Using Chemical Air Fresheners

stink bombs

You want your home to smell fresh, so it’s tempting to reach for that mountain-rain-spring-fresh-scent in a can. But aerosol air fresheners contain high levels of toxic pollutants like phthalates, which can affect hormone levels, cause reproductive abnormalities, and increase allergies and asthma. Yikes. Try homemade (and less-expensive) alternatives, such as potpourri, or essential oils and water in a spray bottle.

7. Leaving the Clutter

clutter

All of the spring cleaning tips and advice are useless if you don’t declutter first.

“We tend to not clean well around clutter,†says Ogden. “You’re not going to reach the dust there.â€

Make sure toys are put away, books are back on the bookshelf, and paperwork is filed before you begin the cleaning process. Otherwise, you’re leaving room for dust and pollen to hide - making spring cleaning all for naught.

8. Treating It Like a Chore

chores

If you dread spring cleaning, this should make you feel better: a Harvard study found those who treated cleaning as beneficial exercise saw a decrease in weight, body mass index, blood pressure, and more. That’s what we call a trifecta: living in a clean home, breathing allergy-free air, and feeling great!

By:

Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/green-cleaning/allergy-proof-home/#ixzz46Nk1ckJF Follow us: @HouseLogic on Twitter | HouseLogic on Facebook

It's All About The Journey ... What to Do With a Tax Refund

 

  • New steel front door on a home

If this year is anything like the last, almost 7.2 million Americans will get a tax refund this spring averaging around $3,000. If you’re a homeowner getting this refund, you’re fortunate because you’ve got more creative ways to invest it for a profit. Doesn’t matter if you’re selling, staying put, or stuck in the middle. Here are three homeowner-only options to grow that refund:

1. If You’re Early Into Your Mortgage

It may not be as instantly gratifying as a treehouse vacation in Costa Rica, but spending your tax refund to pay down your mortgage principal could save you enough funds to take a splurge-loaded vacation a bit later.

Let’s assume you have a 30-year-loan at the average loan amount of $292,000, a 4.5% interest rate, and you’re getting that average refund of about $3,000. If you apply that “found†money to your principal each year, CPA Micah Fraim of Roanoke, Va., says you can shave years off your mortgage - in this case, nearly four. That’s about 95 mortgage payments you won’t need to make! Even better is the more than $70,000 that you’ll save in interest payments over the life of the loan.

If you don’t want to make an annual commitment, think about this: Make that payment just once and you’ll cut seven months off your payments and save more than $8,000 in interest. And when you decide to sell, you’ll have more equity.

2. If You’re Planning to Sell

Invest it in staging, and you may be surprised by how quickly your home gets plucked from the market.

“Staging lets prospective buyers see the space as their own, instead of as belonging to the people who currently live there,†said Ashley Lewkowicz, owner of Ashley Kay Design in Bucks County, Pa.

“A home that’s not staged can sit on the market for six months or more,†she added. “A home I recently staged sold in less than two.â€

Not only is a faster sale better for your bank account in terms of saved mortgage payments and utility bills, but a drawn-out listing can cause a home’s price to wilt. That makes those throw pillows, decorative bath salts, and rented furniture way worth the investment.

For a large, suburban home in a major metro area, staging can cost about $2,000 upfront, and then about $500 per month for furniture and accessory rentals, according to Lewkowicz. But a faster sale at a higher price can definitely more than double your money over the course of the sales process.

And most staging can be accomplished with simple little touches.

Related: Best Tips for Staging Any Room in Your House

3. If You’re a Home Improvement DIYer

Who knew your home could be your own personal ATM? For many DIYers, putting that $3,000 tax return into small home improvements can result in getting far more than their investment out of the house later.

  • A new steel front door costs about $250, but can add about $1,500 when you sell.

  • New wood flooring costs about $1,770, but is worth $5,000 when you sell.

  • Even new insulation, which costs about $700, can recoup about $2,000 at sale.

If you’re willing to scope materials yourself and put in a little elbow grease, your tax return can fund a renovation for you to enjoy now and reap the financial benefits later.

Need more ideas? Give me a call, I'd be happy to consult!

 

Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/home-loans-mortgages/what-to-do-with-a-tax-refund/#ixzz45BDOTnVN

It's All About The Journey ... Your April Home Checklist

With lengthening days and milder temperatures in many parts of the country, April is a wonderful time to freshen up the home inside and out. From windows that sparkle to a clutter-free garage, here are 13 tasks to make the most of the first full month of spring.

Whether you decide to "love it or leave it" this checklist will set you up for a more carefree summer season!

Courtesy of:
April 1, 2016
Houzz Contributor.