3 Crucial Factors to Consider Before Tackling a Home Improvement Project

For most of us, our homes are perhaps our most significant investments. As such, we often find ourselves spending a great deal of time and money on making our dwellings not only much more aesthetically pleasing and comfortable to live in but to ensure that we minimize depreciation and maintain its value. To get the best value for our money, however, it’s essential to have an objective and pragmatic approach. To this end, here are a few crucial factors to consider before tackling a home improvement project.

  1. Will it fit within the allotted budget?

Not many of us have the luxury of having a substantial amount of resources to work with. In fact, the chances are that you’ll have no more than a reasonable or modest budget allotted for the materials or labor that the home improvement project will require. Before making a decision, it’s always good standard practice to make sure that the project won’t break the bank. After all, the costs of many home improvement projects can quickly spiral out of control if left unchecked and no one wants to be left with an unfinished product.

One top tip is to never skimp on looking for cheaper and inexpensive alternatives. Research is often a tedious task that a lot of us would rather do without, but you’ll be surprised at how useful it can be in reducing expenditure for any services or materials that may be needed.

  1. Will the project affect the value of the property?

Since properties are often considered as investments, it makes sense to be certain that any changes or upgrades made do not affect its value negatively. We may not necessarily be thinking about parting with our homes right at this moment, but in the event that we do, it pays to make sure that any home improvements made will allow the property to maintain its value or even increase it. From choosing to have more modern and durable luxury vinyl flooring over its antiquated alternatives or opting to go for energy efficiency through LED lighting or solar panels, it’s always critical to prioritize projects that can benefit the value of the home.

  1. Is it possible to tackle the project yourself?

In this day and age, a lot of people tend to go for a do-it-yourself method of approach when it comes to home improvement projects. It is, after all, an effective way to avoid the high costs that labor and services usually entail. However, it’s always important to be aware of what we can and cannot do. There are times when it’s much more cost-effective to acquire the services of a specialist since it can help you avoid potentially costly mistakes and gives you more time to focus on other areas that may require your attention more.

Home improvement projects may be more common today than they ever have been in the past, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they should be taken lightly. By taking the time to consider these factors, you’ll not only help yourself stay within budget but choose projects that can be much more beneficial to the value of the home in the long run.

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The Best Ways to Improve How Your Bathroom Looks

After spending the whole long day at work, it’s nice to sit in a tub of warm water with your favourite bath soak while aromatic candles burn and mellow music plays in the background. What a relaxing treat! However, as you snap back to reality, you realise that your bathroom is far from your dream. In fact, it looks dull, boring, and untidy.

If you want to be that relaxed woman in your dream, you should start planning for a bathroom remodel. Sure, it might cost you hundreds or thousands of pounds, but at least you’re putting your money to good use.

Start getting rid of unwanted moisture

Bathrooms turn messy when there is too much unwanted moisture coming from the shower. That’s why it’s better to install shower pods. These bathroom structures will allow you to keep the moisture contained. You can finally put an end to your mould and mildew problem if you eliminate unwanted moisture in your bathroom.

There are many shower pods sold on the market today. All you need is to check the specification of the pods. This way, you can pick the most suitable option for your bathroom. It is also advisable to  start finding a splashback to match the shower pod.

Maximise your storage area

Regardless of if you have a small, large, or medium-sized bathroom, expanding your storage area can help. If you have extra space, you can buy a small cabinet for your towels and toiletries. If the area is small, you should opt for hanging cabinets instead.

To keep the room spic and span, you must remove any unnecessary objects. Get rid of all those empty shampoo bottles. If you can, try to purchase glass containers with pumps for your bathroom toiletries. Also, don’t forget to discard small bits of soap and clean the drain.

Repaint the walls

Repaint jobs are very cheap, but they can instantly spruce up a room. If you’re tired of the same colour that you have, we recommend repainting the walls. Pick a cheerier tone if you have a small bathroom. Darker shades tend to make a room appear smaller. If you have a large or medium-sized bathroom, you can use a monochromatic palette.

Choose an environmentally-friendly paint product when you repaint your walls. These mostly come with a milder scent, compared to the usual types of paint products sold in DIY shops.

Buy a larger mirror

Mirrors make any space appear bigger. If you currently have a small mirror, you should consider installing a new, large one. Apart from the illusion that it provides, it will profoundly impact the overall appeal of your bathroom. If you already have a large mirror, be sure to wipe it clean every once in a while.

It’s high time to have your bathroom revamped. After all, it’s one of the rooms in your house where you spend the longest time each day. A simple addition of a bathroom fixture, regular bathroom clean-up, and compartmentalisation can help you enjoy a more relaxing bath time.

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Start-ups: Don’t buy into all of the myths

Over the last few years it would be fair to say that the start-up culture has really come into its own. Whether it was the economic dip, or a completely unrelated reason, we’re not going to speculate. However, start-ups are popping up in all sorts of places, and entrepreneurs are constantly being bred.

At the same time, the surge in start-up culture has led to a lot of misinformation being published about new businesses. Myths have been developed and as the title of today’s post might have already suggested, we are today going to scrutinize some of these misconceptions and reveal the real truths behind them.

Myth #1 – You need too much capital

Once upon a time, this was completely true. After all, most new businesses were started in a bricks-and-mortar form, and this in itself added more costs. However, through the power of the internet there is no doubt that this myth has been reset so to speak, and you don’t necessarily have to have a lot of capital to get going.

Of course, there are exceptions. If a bricks-and-mortar store is going to be at the forefront of your enterprise, you do need some form of funding. However, don’t be put off by the suggestion that items such as point-of-sale terminals are going to hike up your costs – these are low cost, or even free, to install with vendors making their money on small transaction fees (that will barely touch your bottom line).

Myth #2 – Customers will flock to your great store or product

This next misconception is at the other side of the spectrum. A lot of new businesses are under the belief that customers will flock to their new product, under the “build it and they will come” philosophy. Without trying to be party-poopers, this isn’t going to happen. Sure, you may have released the best product of its kind on the market, but if nobody knows about it this is all for nothing.

You need a solid marketing plan in place long before your product hits the shelves. People need to be aware of it and without this awareness, you really will be on a hiding to nothing.

Myth #3 – You can do it all yourself

With funding low initially, this next myth is hardly surprising. However, as much as you might want to carry out every task yourself, we would advise exercising caution. Sure, you’re not going to be in a position to afford full time staff, but the rise of the freelance economy means that there are a whole host of skilled, temporary workers out there who can help you with everything from marketing to product design.

Remember, if you do it yourself you might save money, but by just having one extra pair of hands you can effectively double your output.

Myth #4 – Big companies eat start-ups for breakfast

It can be hard to not be scared by the big competitors in your field, but this should only occur if you can’t differentiate yourselves from them. If your service is the same, you are destined to fail. If you can offer differences, and ultimately an advantage to the customer, this is where you can prosper.

Remember, some customers are just scared and put off by big brands – and this is a unique advantage that you hold in itself. You can give a personal service, which is something that is greatly appreciated in the modern-day market.

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What is the crack with foundation problems?

What is the crack with foundation problems?

They are one of those areas of the home which are out of sight, but to say that foundation issues are out of mind would be a gross understatement. In truth, they are one of the most important elements of a home and if they fail, you can be left with all sorts of problems.

These problems can result from cracks emerging in the walls, to full-scale flooding that will require emergency water damage repair. In short, it’s a costly affair, and the one expense that insurers are the most afraid of.

To highlight the different types of problems that can impact foundations, let’s take a look at some of them in-detail.

Soil that expands or heaves

One of the big complications about foundations is that they all depend on the type of soil that your property is built on. If we turn to the likes of clay, momentarily, this is something that can be subject to expansion. This is because as soon as clay comes into contact with moisture, it has the habit of expanding.

Clearly, if we’re talking about small amounts of water, this isn’t going to be a problem. However, if your local area is subjected to heavy rain, there’s a chance that this can leak into the soil and make it expand. From that point on, it can cause the soil to heave upwards and ultimately, cause those dreaded cracks that are an insurer’s nightmare.

Soil that consolidates

Whilst clay soil is renowned for expanding, the opposite can be said of other types of soil. There are some types out there that when they dry, they constrict. This means that it starts to pull away from your foundation.

You’ll start to see your house settle if this occurs, which effectively means that it moves downwards. Again, it can cause all sorts of cracks, and even leaks, if these cracks become substantial enough in size.

Large trees growing near to your home

This is perhaps one of the more interesting points we will talk about. While trees are utterly desirable for most people, whether it be for privacy or beauty, from a foundations point of view they can be terribly damaging. For those of you who have filled out a home insurance questionnaire, you’ll have probably stumbled across the question asking if your home is near any large trees, so let’s now delve into the true answers behind this.

As we all know, large trees have large roots. This poses a problem for foundations in particular, as the roots will attempt to consume all of the water that surrounds them. In the case of some soils, that are subject to shrinkage, this can cause settlement.

Some people therefore take it upon themselves to cut the tree down. Unfortunately, this brings even further issues, as the water that was previously used by the roots is returned to the soil. As such, the foundations are provided more water than ever before, leading to even worse foundation issues.

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Home Insurance when Working From Home

home insurance when working from home

Working from home has a number of great benefits. No commute, flexible schedule and lower stress are just some of the advantages of running your business from your house. However, it also comes with certain complications. Protecting your home from ruin is now tied up with protecting your business from going bust. You need to make sure you have both business and home insurance when working from home. When it comes to home insurance, have you taken into account your business insurance needs as well? You’ve built your dream home office, now make sure everything is covered!

home insurance when working from home

Theft and Fire Insurance

Working from home can have its perks in the world of insurance. Your home is actually significantly safer with you being there most of the time. When purchasing home insurance when working from home insurance from your chosen provider, be sure to let them know that you spend your working day occupying the house.

Your presence will deter burglars and mean that you can stop the spread of a fire. This should lower your premiums. If you are buying home insurance in New Jersey, you will already have a lower premium compared to a state such as New Mexico. This is because of differing state by state crime rates. However, being home all day reduces the risk of theft even further.

Public Liability Insurance

Unfortunately, there may be some extra costs that come with running a business from home. If you have customers and clients regularly visiting, then you may need to invest in public liability insurance. This means that if anyone is injured in your home (if they’re there on business), your insurance company will pick up the cost instead of you.

Your home insurance won’t be enough to cover this. So if part of your business is having members of the public over, be sure to cover yourself. Otherwise you could be facing a pricey court case.

Dedicated Business Insurance

Beyond public liability insurance, you will need home insurance with a dedicated business service. Home insurance when working from home may not automatically cover your business entirely. If you have employees working in your home, then they need to be insured. Likewise, your home insurance may not cover specialist work equipment. If your business relies on any technology or machinery, then it makes sense to cover this under a dedicated business insurance plan.

Running your business from home is increasingly common and makes financial sense.  Working from home is the future! However, remember that your home insurance may not cover business costs. Get dedicated business and public liability insurance to keep your company protected. You can also use the fact that you are always home to try and get a discount on your regular home insurance.

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5 ways to protect your floor during remodeling

When you are remodeling your house and you don’t protect your floor, sometimes it can make the job bigger than it needs to be. When you are finished and everything is done, suddenly you realize you have to redo the floor as well because of damage. You might find lumps of plaster or concrete glued to your wooden floor or, even worse, embedded in your carpet. We have all seen it in DIY paint jobs with friends and family, where they were painting the walls, there is suddenly dried paint over the carpet and the edges around the room. You could have rips and grooves torn in the floor when workers move equipment in and through the house. This is one of those issues that is easy to fix with just a little forethought. The easiest way is to put down some flooring protection. We have written out a couple of different things you can use and some things to watch out for. They are as follows.

Plastic film for carpets

Carpet, unfortunately, is one of the easiest things to ruin. If you get too much dust and debris down in the roots or the shaft of the carpet, it can be almost impossible to get out. Use carpet protection film. After your renovation, you really should use a HEPA vacuum cleaner, something that can pull out the smallest of particles, to fully clean the carpet of any small debris. You only want to do that after you have already protected your carpet with plastic film. The plastic film is a bit like a saran wrap that sticks to carpeting. You can lay it down or top the carpeting and protect it from dust and other things that may fall on it and ruin it. It also works well for differently shaped areas such as stairs, as it will just stick to the carpet over the twists and turns. Plastic film will actually give the carpet more traction as well, so there’s less chance of a slip during the renovation.

Paper coverings

Craft paper or rosin paper is a heavy duty paper that you can roll out over the floor surface and tape down with non-residue tape such as painters tape or masking tape. This covering is better used on hard surfaces as it can easily tear on softer surfaces such as carpet. There are also reinforced papers that you can use. These papers have a moisture barrier on the bottom that can protect from spills such as paint or any other liquid. This will give you a time to clean it up without its seeping through. Many people try to use newspaper; however, newspaper is not appropriate for protection in any home renovations. Newspaper is made from the cheapest possible paper which tears very easily. You are better starting with a thicker paper and use a paper that is made for the purpose.

Ram board

Ram board is it for heavy protection. Ram board is generally made from recycled fibers and constructed in a way to make it gas permeable. You can use this as a much higher level of protection on your floor. Ram board is a reusable and very heavy duty. It is made with a special kind of process which allows the vapors from a newly installed floor below it to pass through. This allows you to walk on the new floor while it is still curing and keep it safe.

Corrugated plastic

Corrugated plastic is also a heavy-duty floor protection. This is best used for areas with a more fragile floor, such as tile, marble, or an unfinished wood floor. Dropping a tool on one of these floors may crack or shatter a tile, or marble surface, and make it almost impossible to fix without having to replace that area.

Sticky mats

Not exactly a floor covering, sticky mats still protect your floors. They are a large sticky mat that you would put near all the doorways. As you walk on them, the sticky surface will remove dust and particles from your shoes. There is less chance of your shoes grinding in a small stone you have tracked into the house and into that floor surface. We would not rely on these alone but they are definitely something good to add to the arsenal of keeping it all clean.

If you going to be doing the renovation yourself or you are going to hire a contractor to do it, it is still in very good idea to make sure that everyone understands that all the floor services are to be covered and protected. This protection also extends to other delicate items such as banisters, balustrades, or any wainscoting and might be showing. You get the idea. We wish you the best of luck with your renovation and we hope one of our ideas has saved you some heartache in the future. Good luck with that renovation and may it go smoothly.

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Self Employed Home Owners and Mortgages

Mortgages are an incredibly useful tool for anyone to set a foundation for owning a home. Unfortunately, lenders have made it difficult for the self-employed to get a mortgage. What this means is that – on average – for every 10 quotes someone gets in a salaried position, a self-employed person will only get 6.

At times it can feel impossible to prove that you have the income and stability to be an attractive prospect to a mortgage lender. What, then, can a self-employed person do to get mortgaged? Don’t fret – there are plenty of ways to convince lenders that you’re a reliable borrower.

Types of Lender

The good news is that since the financial crash of 2008 and the ensuing recovery, lending has been relaxed once again (to a degree). Accordingly, there’s been an upwards trend in new lending businesses and also a diversification in the types and size of loans offered by the established companies.

The result is that there’s a great depth of mortgage companies each with their own benefits and particular areas of expertise. If you do a good bit of research and are willing to put time and focus into finding the right company, there should be a company out there that will listen to the case you make.

Preparing Your Documents

Keep an absolutely comprehensive record of all of your incoming and outgoing funds is essential. What is more, you may also want to look into hiring a qualified accountant to help you go over your books. If you’re able to find one with a specialization and experience in dealing with mortgage lenders, you will be able to create a targeted document to ensure you get a good deal.

Income Reporting

Given the various tax loopholes and allowances, you need to take advantage of getting the most out of your income as a self-employed person; many self-employed people will report income differently. Whilst this is often necessary, it can affect your chances of getting a mortgage if it appears that your income is lower than it should be.

Again, you need to find balance. Get quotes and advice from the lenders, and assess your financial management scheme to make sure that you’re maximizing your income without jeopardizing the superficial appearance of your accounts.

Self employed people have historically suffered when asking for credit. Similarly, the financial crash brought about less favourable conditions. However, banks are tentatively dipping their toes back in the water, and if you have a solid case, you can get yourself the funding you need for your new home.

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Electronics for Beginners: Launching a Lucrative Hobby at Home

Electronics makes for a fascinating hobby. It’s not difficult to get started, nor is it too expensive, and you can soon find yourself creating all kinds of things either for fun or to use around the home. You could even turn it into a lucrative hobby by making a side business out of it.

So how should you get started?

Here’s a quick guide to the basics you need in place to get your electronics hobby off the ground and start making fun and useful things at home.

What You’ll Need to Get Started

You’ll need to get a lot of equipment and tools before you can start making anything interesting, but these are all easy to get and relatively affordable.

A soldering iron is one of the most basic tools you’ll need. You will use the soldering iron to solder parts onto the PCB or solder parts together. Start with getting just one, but if you get more serious in your hobby, you might want to invest in a couple, such as one for thicker wires and one all-purpose solder. And you’ll also want a de-soldering tool as well so you can remove components.

A prefabricated PCB is a necessity. This is easier than making one yourself and they are not expensive. You can use them for creating simple circuits up to about 100 components, which is perfect for getting started.

A Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) is a semiconductor device made of Configurable Logic Blocks (CLBs). This allows you to change a design after the device has been soldered onto the PCB, and you can find a wide variety of these online at sites like RS.

A wire stripper is another essential tool. You’ll be stripping a lot of wires, so you’ll want to get yourself a good one. You’ll also want to get a set of pliers for cutting wires.

A VOM/DMM (which stands for Voltmeter Ohmmeter and Milliampere Meter and Digital Multimeter) is essential for any hobbyist. It is used to measures thinks like the ampere, voltage, and resistance.

You’ll also want to get a sharp knife, either a penknife or a cutter, which you will use regularly.

Take Your Safety Seriously

Before you start, always make sure you take safety precautions and learn about the risks. These can range from burning yourself with a glue gun to electrocuting yourself with a capacitator, so be careful. Also remember to turn off all your devices before you work on them.

Learn About Components

You will also need to learn about components to enjoy a successful electronics hobby. You can do this on a course, from books, or just from practice. The most common include capacitors, resistors, inductors, transistors, and diodes. Learn the basics, find out what they all do, and then start practicing with them.

Learn Some Useful Techniques

You will also want to learn a variety of basic techniques that you will use on a regular basis, and using a soldering iron is one of these. Read up about it, go on a course, or watch YouTube videos to find out how to do it properly.

Other techniques like using a breadboard (which involves constructing a circuit without soldering), how to use a glue gun, and how to use a multimeter are also essential skills.

Start Up Your Hobby from Home

These are some of the basics that you will need to know to start up a fun and rewarding electronics hobby. As long as you have an interest in making things and finding out how things work, you will love playing around with electronics. So find a suitable space to work, invest in the basic equipment, learn some techniques, and have fun.

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What Does it Take to Make a Great Landlord

As someone who has been both tenant and landlord, I wanted to write this piece for anyone who is considering letting out property to ensure that you are doing the best for yourself, your property and ultimately, your tenants. There are a lot of landlords out there who simply don’t do the best by their tenants and this can not only make your and their lives more difficult, but can also prevent you from finding tenants who are happy to stay long term which is the best solution for any landlord. Let’s take a look then at what makes a truly great landlord.

Business First

It is vital to remember that renting out property is a business and should be treated as such, it is not a hobby or something you do in your spare time. Because of this you need to ensure that you are professional at all times, the tenants are your clients and they should be treated as such. Make sure that you have secured both the property and the tenants with great landlord insurance, I like to use homelet.co.uk/landlord-insurance/, the choice is yours but make sure that you have sufficient insurance.

When it comes to payments and information that you need to give your tenants, ensure that they receive them in a timely manner, doing so will make it clear that you expect the same in return when it comes to paying rent.

Be Responsive

You are letting out your property as it has been shown to your tenants and if anything should go wrong with the property then you need to be on hand to find a solution. So many landlords that I have either worked with or that my friends have worked with have been painfully slow when it comes to responding to problems. If you want to be  a great landlord then you need to fix problems as soon as they arise.

Screening Process

The one thing that costs landlords more money than anything else is unpaid rent, trashed properties and midnight disappearing acts. You can never totally avoid the possibility that this could happen but you can reduce the chances by following a thorough screening process and use due diligence. Ensure that your prospective tenant has no recent evictions, no recent felonies and has good references from previous landlords, you should also be asking for 3 months rent up front to give yourself some peace of mind.

Be Respectful

You don’t have to like your tenants, you don’t have to be chummy with them or condone of their decoration choices, you do however have to be respectful. Many landlords see their tenants as though they are some kind of problem, this is not the case and as mentioned before, these are your clients. In order to have the best possible relationship with your tenants, ensure that you give them the respect that they deserve.

Be Ready

As a landlord you are going to need the help of several professional services and it is important that you are ready with contact details when the time comes. An emergency plumber, a heating engineer, steam cleaners or indeed, a letting agent are all numbers that will come in handy and you should try to strike up a bond with them so that they can come to your need when it’s required. You may also need to find out how to protect a vacant property for times when you don’t have a tenant.

 

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Easy but Effective Saving Tips to Help You Buy a House

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Buying a new house is definitely exciting but it requires a lot of hard work and discipline most especially for people who are just starting to work and earn money. Most often than not, young people get blinded by material things that they can now afford with their salary so the usual ending is that they save nothing from their salary. So how’d you expect to buy a house when you spend all your salary in things you don’t actually need?

It is not too late to start fixing your spending habits and teach you how to save for a Lendlease house and land package.

  1. List down all your expenses – first of all, you should make sure that you have clear idea of all your expenses. To do this, you should list down all your monthly expenses starting from the most important ones like rent, gas, food allowance, electricity, phone bills and others. This way, you know how you will budget your salary in a way that you will still have some left for your savings.
  2. Spend according to your budget – coming up with a weekly or monthly budget plan is definitely a good idea. But you should make sure that you will indeed follow that set budget. Spend money according to your budget and do not go overboard or else you will find yourself broke.
  3. Allot specific percentage of your salary to go to your savings account – just what mentioned earlier, it is best if you will put money to your savings account every time you receive your paycheck. It is best to do this first thing before you pay your bills or other expenses.
  4. Pack lunch – you would be able to save money if you will bring packed lunch to office instead of eating out every day. You should prepare and cook your own meals. Not only you will be able to save money but also, you will ensure that you are eating healthy.
  5. Avoid drinking alcohol every Friday night – do you usually go out every Friday night? Well, you can unwind once in a while but do not make this a habit. Do not spend all your money on booze just to unwind. Not only you are burning your liver but also your money.
  6. Refrain from using credit cards – it is also advisable that you stop using your credit cards most especially if you know yourself to have no control or limit. Using credit cards lure you to believing that you can afford something that you actually do not. So it is best that you just spend cash.
  7. Minimise your shopping – lastly, avoid shopping impulsively. Do not buy things unless you really need it. Always think of other goals that you wish to achieve like buying a house so you can stop yourself from spending thoughtlessly.

Related: Tips to Save More and Spend Less

Sometimes, the smallest things can help you big time and can even get you closer to your goals like buying your dream house. Do not take for granted small actions like the ones we discussed. You should do your best to become more responsible with your finances. It will definitely pay off!

You might also enjoy: MILLENIALS: FROM 30 YEAR CAREERS TO FREELANCE

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