Archive for the ‘General Advice’ Category

Add Value to Your Home with Spring Cleaning

It may be surprising, but a clean and decluttered home can have a huge impact on a potential buyer’s impression of the home and help them envision it as their own. In addition, a clean home improves your mood and helps you feel more productive.

Clean Up the Yard

You never get a second chance to make a great first impression, so make the most of your home’s first impression by cleaning up the yard.

  1. Clear away fall and winter debris such as fallen branches and leaves; pick up and put away toys and other items that are not lawn ornaments.
  2. Be sure that all walkways are clear and easy to navigate along.
    • If you have broken or misaligned steps, consider hiring a professional to fix them.
  3. Clean the gutters, or hire a professional the clean them; when gutters are clogged, they can overflow and cause water damage to the exterior of your home. If they overflow into a window, the water damage can extend into the interior, as well.
  4. Treat your lawn to a spa day: feed it, weed it, give it moss treatment, and mow it on a dry day. When you know it’s going to rain, or shortly after rain, apply fertilizers for best results.

Clean Up the Exterior Walls of the House

Over the course of a year, a lot of dirt, muck, and grit can collect on the exterior walls of a home—not to mention moss, mold, and mildew growth along brick walls.

  1. On a warm, dry day, wash away the dirt on the exterior walls of your home. Take care not to damage any surfaces, let water get underneath the siding, or dislodge any bricks.
  2. If it looks like there is water damage on the outside of your home, call a professional.
  3. Take the chance to clean the outside of your windows as well, and check for any damage to them. Cracked panes should be replaced and peeling windowsills should be tended to, as well.
    • Peeling windowsills are a great opportunity (after removing the old paint) to repaint them with a refreshing new color. Not sure what color to pick? Our Painting Joy Into Your Home: How Colors Influence Your Mood blog post can give you an idea on what might be the best color, depending on what effect you want to achieve.
    • Once you’re back inside, wipe the inside of the windows down and clear away any cobwebs.

Clean Up the Garden

If you have a garden with clearly defined borders, be sure to freshen those borders up. In addition, give your garden some attention and care:

  1. Fork the soil around plants to introduce fresh air and reveal any pests or weeds
  2. Remove weeds and other unwanted plants
  3. Add mulch to control additional weeds or refresh existing mulch
  4. Check to see if any bricks or stones have become misaligned and realign them
  5. To help your plants grow and add nutrients to the soil, add compost or other organic matter

If you don’t have a garden but would like to increase the curb appeal of your home by adding some plants, try adding flower pots or hanging plants outside!

  1. Check that the flowers and plants won’t be at risk of dying from a last frost before adding the pots or hanging plants outdoors.
  2. If you want to grow the plants from seeds, consider starting them indoors to avoid losing them to hungry birds or animals before they’ve had the chance to sprout. Otherwise, pick potted flowers and plants you like from your local garden center.
  3. Arrange the potted flowers and hanging plants how you like: on your front porch, flanking your front door, along your walkway, or even in your back garden. The options are endless!

Last but not least, if you have a fence, inspect it for any damage.

  1. Ensure that all gates are properly attached and that locks function smoothly.
  2. Fill in any holes animals may have dug underneath the fence. If you have a dog that keeps digging a hole to escape, bury a toy, or pursuing some other destructive behavior, you may want to check with your local dog academy to see whether training can correct the behavior.
  3. Check for loose boards, rusted wires, damaged bricks or stones, etc. and repair the fence accordingly. If you don’t know how to maintain your fence and find that a section has decayed, call a professional.
  4. If you want to give your yard a fresh look, consider painting your fence a new color, adding flowers along the boundaries, or adding climbing plants to transform your fence into a garden wonderland. Check with your local garden center first on which climbing plants would be best.
    • Beware: climbing plants require a certain amount of maintenance and care to keep them from becoming unruly and overtaking your yard. If they attach to a tree, they can cause serious damage.

How Long House Appliances and Systems Typically Last

How Long House Appliances and Systems Typically Last

and the costs associated with replacing them

With home ownership comes not only great joy, but also great responsibility. When an appliance breaks, it is up to you, the homeowner, to ensure it is repaired or replaced. While the responsibility may seem daunting, it’s also a fantastic opportunity to mold your home into the perfect nesting place by choosing appliances that suit your needs.

However, most people don’t prepare for the inevitable failure of various appliances. According to Forbes, 63% of Americans don’t have enough savings to cover a $500 emergency and according to CreditDonkey, 26% of adults don’t have any savings set aside at all. To help stay ahead of the curve, here are some common household appliances and systems, how long they last, and what the average cost is to replace them.

Boiler

Lifespan: 8 to 20+ years
Cost: $3,000 to $7,000+

There are many factors that contribute to the longevity of boilers: traditional gas boilers, while more expensive to fix due to the risk associated with carbon monoxide leaks, tend to last longer than their electric counterparts. Similarly, low-quality boilers, while cheaper to install and maintain, generally do not last as long as high-quality boilers. Here is a quick breakdown of the various types of boilers:

  • Electric boilers can last between 8 and 10 years
  • Gas boilers can last 10 to 15 years
  • High-quality boilers can last over 20 years

Many things can go wrong with a boiler from a carbon monoxide leak with a gas boiler (as mentioned above) to temperature control failure (water too hot or too cold) with an electric boiler. Despite what can go wrong with a boiler, they’re usually one of the most reliable appliances in a home. According to HomeAdvisor.com, boiler repairs average between $171 and $524 and common issues with the boiler system are usually not with the boiler itself but with the pipes that distribute the water or the radiators that heat various rooms. On the other hand, buying a new boiler, having the old one removed, and having the new one installed can cost as much as $10,000, although it usually averages between $3,000 and $7,000.

Refrigerator

Lifespan: 13 to 19+ years
Cost: $800 to $9,000+

Depending on the model and brand, refrigerators can last anywhere from 13 years to 19 years or more. Single-door refrigerator units are likely to last the longest while side-by-side freezer and fridge models usually only last 14 years.

According to HomeAdvisor.com, if your refrigerator is less than 8 years old, it would be more cost effective to have it repaired than to buy a new one. A new refrigerator can cost $800 to $9,000 depending on the quality and brand, whereas repairs for a refrigerator can be as low as $200 to $400, with two to three hours of labor. Note that repairing an icemaker alone can cost $275 to $330, so if your refrigerator requires multiple costly repairs, it may be time to buy a new one.

Microwave

Lifespan: 9 years
Cost: $50 to $300+

For the most part, microwaves are fairly stable products and last an average of 9 years. They’re also among the cheapest appliances to replace: a brand-new, low-end microwave from Target, Walmart, or even Home Depot averages $50. If you’re not picky, you can also get a used microwave for as low as $10.

According to HomeAdvisor, the cost to repair a microwave is typically $70 per hour of labor plus the cost of the replacement parts. On average, microwaves cost $100 to $250 to repair. If your microwave appears to work and is completely turned off, unplug it and try it with a different outlet before rushing to call for a repair. It may be that the circuit breaker was tripped for the room or the outlet is defective.

Stove/Range

Lifespan: 13 to 15 years (gas range), 15 to 18 years (stovetop)
Cost: $350 to $2,000+

As with the boiler, gas stoves tend to last longer than electric stoves by 2 to 5 years. The range generally lasts 13 to 15 years, while the stovetop can keep functioning 15 years to 18 years. Be sure to check the burners regularly: a small gas leak can do serious damage.

Common problems with the gas range include a faulty oven, stuck oven door, damaged indicator light, broken burner, and so forth. Repair costs can range anywhere from $110 to $200 for a faulty igniter to over $260 for a broken control board. If you’re okay with a low-cost gas stove, then consider purchasing a new one when repair costs exceed $350.

Washer & Dryer

Lifespan: 10 to 14 years (washer) and 10 to 13 years (dryer)
Cost: $350 to $1,000+ (washer),  $300 to $1,000+ (dryer), or $800 to $1,700+ (all-in-one washer/dryer combo)

While the clothes washing machine can last 10 to 14 years, the dryer usually lasts one year less at 10 to 13 years. The longevity of these two machines depends primarily on how frequently they are used. Washers that see more frequent use tend to wear out faster than those that are used less often.

Both front-loading washing machines and top-loading washing machines experience problems unique to their design; top-loading washers are prone to humidity and rust issues and lid switch failure ($140+ to fix), while front-loading washers have been known to develop leaky door gaskets ($200 to $300 to repair).

Dryers, on the other hand, can experience an array of issues depending on whether they’re gas or electric. Gas dryers cost less to power, but their ignition coil may need to be replaced at some point, and they can also have faulty igniters, flame sensors, thermal fuses, and gas valves. Sometimes the dryer belt needs to be replaced, other times it’s the dryer coil. If it costs more than $400 to repair the dryer, you can easily opt for replacement instead.

All-in-one washer and dryer combinations are a relatively new invention and come with their own problems. According to the article “How good are washer-dryer combos?” by Choice, these machines are “the least reliable laundry appliance and 22% of owners experienced a major problem with their machine.” That’s not to say they’re not a good solution for small homes that can’t easily accommodate a separate washer and dryer, but it’s something to consider for long-term investment.

Dishwasher

Lifespan: 8 to 13 years
Cost: $400 to $700+

On average, dishwashers last 9 years. Some dishwashers last longer than others and can even make it 13 years, while others have a shorter lifespan. Unlike a clothes washer, it’s better to run the dishwasher frequently – even daily! – as doing so helps prevent mold and mildew from forming and keep the seals, gaskets, and hoses from dry-rotting. Although the dishwasher is meant to clean dishes, the less food that winds up in it, the better. Food debris can clog up the machine and increase the likelihood of mold forming. It’s also really gross to discover some several-weeks-old piece of food on your freshly cleaned dishes.

Some of the most common repairs for dishwashers include cleaning the drain pump ($100 to $300), and repairing the control board ($190+) or the water inlet valve ($160). Angie’s List recommends replacing the dishwasher if repair costs exceed half the cost of the original dishwasher.

Roofs

Lifespan: 20 to 50+ years depending on material used
Cost: $150 to $700+ per square installed (depends on material selected, total square footage of roof, geographical location, and roofer; varies wildly)

How long roofing lasts is, like the boiler, dependent upon the material used. The following are just some common roofing materials and how many years they tend to last:

  • Asphalt shingles or composite roofs usually last 20 years.
  • Fiber cement shingles can last 25 years.
  • Wood shakes should last 30 years.
  • Tile roofs made of slate, copper, clay, concrete, or a terracotta can last up to 50 years.

Replacing a roof is costly, be it replacing part of it or the entire roof. Depending on your geographical location and available local roofers, the base amount charged for installation services can vary drastically. The material used adds to total cost of replacing the roof: composite roofs are cheaper, while tile roofs are more expensive. If you have a leaky roof, call a local contractor and ask for an inspection to see if you just need to have some repairs made or have the entire section replaced.

Keep Your Roof in Tip-Top Shape

In preparation for the year ahead, your roof is one of the most important areas to maintain.  Periodic roof maintenance helps prevent major issues that can lead to serious homeowner claims.

Roof
Check for damage to your roof and have a professional inspection, if necessary.

Attic
Go to the attic. If there is visible moisture or discoloration, your roof might be leaking.

Siding
Examine the paint on your siding and trim. If it is peeling, you might need new paint to protect against the effects of weather.

Leaks
Check for leaks around window and door sills. Improving your seals can lower your energy bills.

Debris
Clean debris from gutters and downspouts, and make sure they’re draining away from the home.

Greenery
Trim overhanging tree branches, untidy vegetation, and overgrown shrubs.

Winter weather often results in gradual damage that homeowners can miss if they aren’t looking closely.  This is particularly important to watch out for because homeowners policies do not provide coverage for wear and tear.  It’s well worth it to spend a little time on home maintenance this spring, so that a small roof issue doesn’t turn into a big roof issue!

 

5 Ways to Stop Pests This Spring

Spring is right around the corner, and with the warmer weather come bugs and pests of all kinds. Let Nothnagle Realtors help you to pest-proof your home this spring with these suggestions.

Keep lids on trash cans. Food attracts insects and other pests, so as you go through your checklist of spring cleaning tasks, make sure this one is at the top of the list. Examine your outdoor trash cans to ensure that lids are tight fitting. You may also want to consider using garbage bags because it adds an extra layer of protection against creepy crawlers.

Keep your kitchen clean and tidy. Food is like a gourmet bug buffet, making the kitchen and pantry a hotspot. Use glass, plastic or sealable containers for storing products such as cereal. Remember, even random crumbs leftover from last night’s dinner may be enough to attract pests. Take out the trash frequently and promptly, and don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink or on the counter!

Screen your windows. With the warmer weather, it’s nice to open the windows and have the fresh air flowing! But, your window can be a door welcoming bugs into your home. Inspect your windows and doors to ensure that they’re in good working order. Then, fix any rips or tears that could let pests inside. If you have a patio door, invest in a sliding screen to make it harder for the bugs to come in and make your home theirs, too.

Don’t forget your lawn! Take a tour of your front and back yards to see where problem areas might be. First, clean gutters as they can become a breeding ground for bugs. Second, trim hedges which, if left unkempt, can become a highway for pests to travel easily from outdoors to indoors. Third, clean and tidy up your lawn! Move firewood away from the home, and pick up fallen fruits or nuts.

Check the exterior. Bugs can sneak into the home via openings or cracks and holes in the foundation. Look for any problem areas, and seal any cracks that you may find. By doing this, you’ll prevent them from getting in through the exterior. You may also want to do this check multiple times a year.

Incorporate these recommendations into your spring cleaning routine, and you’ll keep the bugs at bay this year and in the future!

Greens for the Winter Blues: Part Two

In our previous blog, Greens for the Winter Blues, we suggested some great plants to add to your indoor décor and help combat the winter blues! However, greenery doesn’t have to be limited to the inside of your home. In our Part Two blog about winter plants, we decided to take the fun outdoors! Here are some awesome outdoor plants that are perfect for winter weather!

Cabbages and Kales

Ornamental cabbage and kale plants are a popular choice for winter annual plants, as they can survive cold winters once hardened by cooler night temperatures. The chunky leaves come in many shades ranging from pink, purple and green to white.

Camellias

Camellias flower in both the fall and winter and come in shades of red, pink, coral, white, and bicolor. They prefer highly organic soil that is acidic and moist. The flowers are surrounded by waxy leaves and the colors linger for a long time. Once the plant is established, camellias are tolerant of droughts. The plant is evergreen and can form into shrubs or small trees.

Cotoneaster

This fast-growing plant is packed with powerful colors. Cotoneaster has leaves in bold greens and a bright red winter berry favored by birds. In the summer, this plant also blooms with delicate, white flowers. Cotoneaster is a perfect plant for groundcover but needs upkeep so it does not become unmanageable.

Hellebore

Hellebore, or also known as the Christmas rose, is a popular winter flower due to its ability to bloom even in the darkest of months. The rose-like flowers bloom in shades of pink, red, maroon, chartreuse, and white. Look for these plants in early winter for warmer climates and late winter for colder climates.

Holly Bush

When you think of winter, you think of holly. The signature plant is easily spotted with dark green, pointed leaves and clusters of bright red berries. Holly bushes take well to pruning, so feel free to clip off some to spread around the house! The berries can be toxic to both humans and certain animals, so keep them away from children and pets.

Sweet Alyssum

This dainty flowering plant is perfect for winter in temperate climates. Sweet alyssum can take a light frost and will bloom year-round. The rounded petals of the flower bloom in colors of white, pink, rose-red, violet, and lilac. The more darkly colored the flower is, the better it does in cooler temperatures! Sweet alyssum grows close to the ground.

Winter Jasmine

Native to China, winter jasmine flowers from November to March in the Northern Hemisphere. The flower has six petals that are either white or bright yellow in color. Winter jasmine is great for ground cover and will also grow on walls.

Witch Hazel

While the name reminds you of fall and Halloween, witch hazel is a winter plant! The bright, spidery flower blooms in shades of yellow or orange, offering a bright contrast to the bleak winter weather. The plant is hardy and emits a sweet fragrance reminiscent of spring.

Colorful outdoor greenery during winter sounds like a far-fetched dream, but with planning and care, you, too, can have a bright winter wonderland!

Greens for the Winter Blues

While snow is beautiful and winter’s trademark, it also makes for a colorless and bland world. This winter season, liven up your home with some indoor plants that thrive during the chilly season!

African Violet

African violets come in plenty of colors. The plant tends to bloom all year and does exceptionally well in an east-facing window, where the amount of sun is perfect! Plant your African violets in pots and set them on trays full of pebbles, as this will increase the humidity level to combat the dry winter air. Then, make sure to keep a good amount of water in the tray!

Aloe

Aloe is not only a great plant for its medicinal properties: it’s one of the easiest plants to grow! Aloe does well in small, sunny indoor areas and with a temperature around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the soil dry and avoid frequent watering to help your aloe plant thrive.

Bromeliad

Bromeliads add a very colorful touch to your home with their vibrant leaves. This plant does not need full sunlight and grows well in shadier areas, like a bathroom or a corner. It also doesn’t need very much water to grow, so only water it when the soil looks very dry.

Cyclamen

This plant naturally blooms in the winter and enjoys chilly temperatures, making it the perfect window plant. Cyclamen comes in a variety of different colors and, with good care, will last a very long time. Cyclamen likes indirect or filtered light and evenly moist soil.

English Ivy

English ivy is an elegant plant, especially when the tendrils flow down from furniture or mantels. English ivy likes moist soil and cooler temperatures from the mid-50s to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Ivy is also easy to gift! Cut a section of the stem and plant it in the same conditions as the original plant. Allow about two weeks for it to start growing again.

Peace Lily

The peace lily is a popular indoor plant due to its easy-to-care-for nature and beautiful blooms. It also improves air quality! The peace lily enjoys lower levels of light and standard temperatures. Keep the soil moist but refrain from too much watering!

Pothos

This plant has an air-purifying effect and helps remove toxins from the home, such as formaldehyde, making it a great plant to own. Pothos has trailing stems and would do well in a hanging basket or on an indoor trellis. Cut back the stems when they get too long to keep your plant full and healthy. Pothos does well in a variety of lighting levels, but avoid too little light as this will affect the leaves’ variegation. Soil should dry a bit between waterings.

Shamrock Plant

With leaves that look like shamrocks and small, white flowers, it’s easy to see why this is a popular winter plant! The shamrock plant enjoys bright spaces but refrain from placing it in direct light. Allow the soil to dry a bit between waterings.

Plants are a wonderful addition to any home and can help combat the winter blues. Most winter plants are relatively easy to care for and grow. They don’t require much tending, making them perfect during the busy holiday months!

Fall For These Autumn Home Staging Ideas

fallcoverphoto.PNG

Autumn is such a beautiful time of year. The leaves are changing the scented candles are out on display and the temperature is just about right. This is the prime time to use these features to help sell your home! Here are a few tips for staging your home during the autumn months. Even if you aren’t looking to sell your home these tips can apply to decorating any home!

frontdoor.jpgStart at the front door. The colors of fall work well with the exterior of just about any frontdoor2.jpg
home. The neutral orange, browns and yellows can help make a front step or porch looks inviting. Stacking pumpkins is a recent craze this season that makes for a very cute look. Corn stalks can also be a very inexpensive touch to add depth and color to your front door. Nothing says welcome home more than a new welcome mat or sign waiting for a potential homeowner upon arrival.


The scents are out so light up the candles!
fallcandles.jpgWith Fall comes the great scents. From cinnamon, to pumpkin pie, if you walk down the isle of Yankee Candle you are bound to find some scents that interest you. Light up candles at least 30 minutes before an open house to allow the aroma to spread throughout the house. Light up a cookie scent in the kitchen and keep it fresh in the laundry space. This is a simple and homey touch that doesn’t take much effort.

Less is not always more. If you feel as though some of your rooms are starch looking don’falldinningroom.jpgt
be afraid to dress up your tables to make your house look like fallkitchen.jpga home. An autumn inspired centerpiece on your dining table
may brighten up your dining room. You can do the same to your kitchen to add a pop of color. As always, make sure not to overdo it just a few touches here and there will give that ‘homey’ feel you are looking for.

Light the fire and set the scene. If you have a fireplace make sure to light it up. The cozyfallmantle.jpg feel will give the home owners a glimpse into the chilly months ahead letting them know that things may not be as bad this winter with a fire place back at home waiting for them. If you have a fireplace that tends to blend in try to decorate it a bit to draw attention to it. There are tons of autumn mantle ideas out there to spice up your living space! Hop on Pinterest for some ideas!

Fall is only here for a brief time so take advantage of the colors, fresh scents and homey feel. Autumn decor sure is a fan favorite and is bound to appeal to anyone that walks through your front door!

If you are on the hunt for a new home check out our list of upcoming Open Houses here