Improve Your Home and Its Value3 December 2021
(Family Features) Home upgrades happen for different reasons but enhancing your home’s curb appeal and value are often at the top of the list. These projects can make it easier to enjoy your home knowing they carry a return on investment of up to 92%, according to the Remodeling 2021 Cost vs. Value Report published in “Remodeling Magazine.” Plus, you’ll have the added benefit of knowing you’re making a sound investment should you decide to sell down the road.
Stone veneer is an upgrade that adds warmth and texture with the look of natural stone, but without the expense. It’s also a durable product that is low maintenance, so you don’t have to worry about sealing or painting.
With the variety of styles and colors available, it’s easy for homeowners to mix and match to create a custom look. Mortarless options like ClipStone are designed to be installed with screws and common tools, making them accessible options for both professionals and DIYers. With a built-in water management system, overlapping edges to minimize gaps, reversible outside corners and a variety of accessories, mortarless options allow homeowners to achieve the look of traditional masonry without the hassle.
Exterior features often bring a big return on investment because a home with strong curb appeal can make a great first impression on potential buyers. The garage doors are no exception. If you think of your garage doors as a purely functional element of your home, you may be surprised to learn garage door replacement is actually the best home upgrade you can make, according to the report.
Garage doors aren’t just functional; they can be a focal point of your home’s exterior design, completely transforming the exterior. Depending on the style and features you choose, an updated garage door is also a smart strategy for managing climate and adding security to your home.
Windows are another smart investment for numerous reasons. Not only do they provide a sophisticated presence that can greatly enhance curb appeal, upgraded windows play a major role in energy conservation. Homeowners also rely on windows to make a bold statement. For example, Simonton black exterior windows and patio doors can help perfect a wide range of architectural styles including farmhouse, modern, industrial and contemporary designs.
This award-winning line of vinyl windows offers homeowners a variety of styles and colors to customize both their home’s interior and exterior spaces. The windows are AAMA Gold Certified, passing some of the industry’s most stringent quality assurance testing for air leakage, water penetration and wind pressure – resulting in low-maintenance windows with lasting durability, weather resistance and energy efficiency.
Adding a deck is an easy way to improve your home’s exterior appeal and increase your livable space. Wooden decks rank in the top 10 for ROI, according to the report. An attractive deck situated off the living room or kitchen can make those rooms feel larger, especially when you’re entertaining, and guests can circulate freely between indoor and outdoor spaces. A well-constructed deck also serves as a transition point from the home to the backyard, where you may invest in even more outdoor living features.
You’ll achieve the greatest ROI by designing your deck to integrate seamlessly with your home and landscaping and even stone accents. Also take functional features into consideration, including privacy and protection from the wind and sun. Depending on your climate, it may be beneficial to design a deck for maximum shade during the warm months or to make the most of sunlight during the cool seasons. Features like built-in kitchens, stone accents, TV mounts and access to water features all lend high-end custom touches that also boost ROI.
If you’re considering updating your home’s color and trim, re-siding is a great way to transform its curb appeal while also earning a hefty return on the investment and giving yourself (or a future owner) the gift of lower maintenance living.
With 15 different collections, Ply Gem Mastic has an array of solutions to help homeowners transform their living spaces such as board and batten, hand-split shake shingles, traditional Dutch lap siding and more. Each is available with detailed wood grain texture in a variety of rich, on-trend colors, including increasingly popular dark options.
One of the simplest projects in the report, a new entry door can also make a big impact because it’s one of the first things potential buyers see. Not only can a steel door help make a good first impression, it also serves as an updated security feature and can offer additional insulation, which makes for a good investment if you live in an area that experiences extreme weather.
Explore more high-ROI ideas and products for upgrading your home and its value at cornerstonebuildingbrands.com/residential.
Published with permission from RISMedia.
Is It a Good Idea to Buy a House Around the Holidays?3 December 2021
The holiday season is a busy and often stressful time. Many people don’t want to think about house-hunting with everything else going on, which is precisely why the end of the year may be the best time to buy a house.
Potential to Get a Great Deal
Since fewer people shop for houses during the holiday season, you might face significantly less competition than you would at other times of the year and be able to negotiate a lower price, especially if a homeowner was eager to wrap up a sale. If you’re open to buying a foreclosed home, you might get a great deal around the holidays since banks want to sell as many properties as possible by the end of the year. You might be able to buy a bigger and better home than you would otherwise be able to afford.
The owner of a house that needed repairs might be reluctant to lower the price under most circumstances. An owner who needed to sell soon, however, might be willing to accept a lower offer.
Mortgage interest rates rise and fall for various reasons. Since fewer people look for mortgages around the holidays, a lender might offer you a lower rate, which could make a significant difference in the overall cost of a house.
Many sellers take their homes off the market during the holiday season to avoid the stress of dealing with showings while decorating, shopping for gifts and hosting family and friends. On the other hand, those who choose to keep their homes listed might have to sell soon to start a new job or for some other reason.
Since fewer people list their homes around the holidays, the selection is more limited than at other times of the year. If you’re looking for a house with specific features, you could have a hard time finding it during the holiday season.
Other Potential Headaches
If you view a home when snow is on the ground, you won’t be able to get a good look at the outside of the house and the landscaping. That means you could miss some flaws or have an inaccurate impression of the yard’s appearance and be disappointed come springtime.
Many people, including real estate agents and home inspectors, take time off and financial institutions modify their schedules around the holidays. If you want to close on a house before the end of the year, be up front about that with everyone who would be involved in the process.
So, Should You Buy During the Holidays or Wait?
You might benefit from reduced competition around the holidays and get a home at a great price, but you could also have trouble finding a house with all the features you want. Look at the properties available in your chosen area and ask your real estate agent whether the holiday season is the right time to buy or whether you would be better off waiting for a larger selection.
Published with permission from RISMedia.
What Can Happen If You Don't Clean Your Gutters3 December 2021
If you own a house, you probably know that it’s important to keep your gutters clean. It’s a dirty, difficult and time-consuming task that many homeowners put off, but not cleaning gutters can lead to serious problems that can be expensive to repair.
Possible Structural Damage to Your House
When gutters get clogged with wet leaves and other debris, water can’t flow through them the way it’s supposed to, so it flows over the sides of the gutters and rains down to the ground. Water that collects near the foundation can soften the soil and damage the foundation. If the foundation gets wet and the temperature drops enough for it to freeze, the foundation can heave, crack and shift, which can weaken the structural integrity of the entire house.
Water that collects near the foundation can leak into the basement, where it can damage the walls and cause mold that can threaten your family’s health. Water can also get into a crawlspace and damage the piers that support the house.
In the winter, water that can’t flow down through the gutters can freeze and form ice dams. Large amounts of ice can accumulate along the gutters and roof and weigh down the gutters, and water can leak into the house. The weight of ice and debris can also cause the gutters to come loose from the house.
If water collects in clogged gutters, the moisture can damage the wood soffits and fascia. If wood on the outside of the attic rots, it can provide entry points for squirrels, raccoons and other animals. Water can also damage roofing shingles, the roof deck and insulation. Wet debris in gutters can allow algae and moss to grow and damage the roof. Water that gets behind siding or window frames can cause damage and mold that may be hard to detect.
Wet leaves and other debris in gutters can attract insects. They can get into the house through gaps or cracks and some, such as termites, can cause major structural damage.
Potential Problems With Your Yard and Driveway
Water pouring down from gutters can damage flowers, bushes and trees below by washing away the topsoil that holds the roots in place. Water can also wash away mulch in a garden.
If water runs over the sides of the gutters and lands on the driveway or sidewalk and freezes, it can create a slippery surface that can cause falls and potentially serious injuries. Water can also run under the driveway and cause holes and cracks to form. The driveway can even shift, which can damage cars, and the uneven surface can create a tripping hazard.
Don’t Skip Gutter Cleaning
Cleaning your gutters is an unpleasant but necessary task. If you don’t have the time to do it yourself, aren’t physically up to the task, or just don’t want to, hire a gutter cleaning company. Also consider installing gutter guards to reduce the amount of debris in your gutters and the frequency of cleanings.
Published with permission from RISMedia.
Get Personal With Your Workplace Benefits2 December 2021
(Family Features) Where, when and how you work may have changed. However, the importance of your employee benefits hasn’t. The benefits you choose during your company’s annual enrollment is one of the most important financial decisions you’ll make.
If your company is like most, it’s concerned about offering benefits to protect you and your family physically, emotionally and financially.
Before it’s time to enroll, it’s important to understand your needs and the different types of coverage available to meet them, especially employee-paid coverage that supplements what your employer may already provide. Supplemental benefits are additional coverage beyond your health insurance you can choose and usually pay for through payroll deduction.
Supplemental benefits allow you to customize your benefits package with the types of coverage most important to you and your family. Because you sign up for them at work, it’s usually more affordable than coverage you could buy on your own. It’s also easier to qualify for coverage as part of a workplace group, often without answering any health questions.
Consider these major types of supplemental benefits offered by providers like Unum and Colonial Life:
- Life insurance is financial protection for your family should anything happen to you. It can help your loved ones pay living expenses, debts, medical bills and funeral costs, in addition to future needs such as college tuition or retirement. Employer-provided life insurance may not be enough for your family’s long-term needs.
- Disability insurance is designed to pay a portion of your income if you’re sick or injured and unable to work.
- Dental insurance helps reduce out-of-pocket costs for most common dental procedures, like cleanings, fillings, crowns, dentures, oral surgery, orthodontia and other treatments.
- Vision insurance helps cover the costs of exams, glasses and contact lenses, and may include access to discounted materials and services through a network of vision service providers.
- Accident insurance offers a lump sum financial benefit that helps pay out-of-pocket expenses such as doctor bills, co-pays or emergency room fees if you have an accident or injury.
- Hospital insurance helps pay the costs of hospital stays and, on some plans, outpatient surgery and diagnostic procedures.
- Critical illness insurance provides a lump sum financial benefit when you’re diagnosed with a wide range of serious conditions, such as heart attack, stroke, cancer, organ failure, Alzheimer’s disease, ALS and more.
- Cancer insurance provides more specific coverage for the often-overwhelming costs of treating cancer, from initial diagnosis through recovery. It can also help pay for a variety of treatments and services, such as ambulance transportation, hospital confinement, radiation and chemotherapy, medications and surgery.
Supplemental benefits can help bridge the financial gap between workplace medical insurance and your out-of-pocket costs. You can use your benefits for uncovered medical costs such as deductibles and copayments, or nonmedical expenses such as travel for treatment or child care during recovery. These benefits provide valuable coverage for many of life’s common but unexpected health events, such as accidents and illnesses.
Plus, you don’t have to be sick or injured to take advantage of supplemental coverage. Many plans include a wellness benefit that pays a set amount when you have a preventive screening or diagnostic test.
Learn more at unum.com and coloniallife.com.
Published with permission from RISMedia.
How to Stock Your Home Bar for the Holidays2 December 2021
The holidays are underway, which means you’ll likely be playing host in the near future. While there are many elements that come together for a successful gathering this time of year, there’s no denying that libations play an integral role when it comes to setting the mood and keeping everyone in good spirits.
Here are a few tips for stocking your home bar (or bar cart) this holiday season that are sure to please friends and family.
Tools of the Trade
First off, make sure that you’re properly equipped to handle any elaborate drink orders that may come your way. At the very least, a quality shaker, muddler and bar knife are the bare necessities, but it’s also helpful to have a jigger when crafting cocktails. If your guests enjoy sipping spirits on the rocks, a large ice mold for making hefty cubes is sure to impress.
When the temperature drops, there are certain ingredients that beg to be infused in our beverages, like maple, ginger, peppermint or pumpkin. You can give your favorite concoction a seasonal twist, like a cinnamon-spiced Old Fashioned. Or, if you want to have something pre-mixed when everyone arrives, a hot mulled cider or eggnog with brandy is the perfect way to greet your guests after they’ve been traveling through the cold.
Stock Up on the Essentials
You don’t need to have 20 different types of gin readily available, but just make sure that you have a solid selection of high-quality spirits to serve your guests. Bourbon, in particular, is always popular this time of year and you can go a long way with just a few mixers and garnishes. Throw in a selection of wine that pairs well with hearty winter meals, like Malbec, chardonnay and shiraz, as well as some hoppy brews, and you’ll be covered on all fronts.
Published with permission from RISMedia.