5 Tips for adding an extension on to your home

5 Tips for adding an extension on to your home

As a home-owner, you often consider ways in which to improve your house. A growing family might mean that your house is no longer able to accommodate you all comfortably. Improvements to consider include adding an extension or embarking on some renovation/remodelling jobs. People’s homes are usually their largest single financial outlay in life, so you want to get things right. Major updating work can mean a big investment of money and time. However, if the additions to your house are done properly, it will not only improve your quality of life, but also add value to your house. These simple tips will help you achieve those goals.

Circular saw and ear defenders

  1. Determine what type of addition are you planning

Some forward thinking is the first and most important step. You should establish what improvements will have the greatest benefit – and if it’s possible to do it both in terms of budget and building regulations. Jot down thoughts, draw rough sketches or create mood boards. Most house additions aim to improve flow or add extra internal rooms, conservatories, terraces or verandas. Once you’ve determined the kind of additions that would be of most benefit, you can start contacting the professionals – architects, planners, builders and other tradesmen.

Building professional

  1. Consult the professionals

Always consult the professionals – they have years of training and experience upon which to draw. Architects or engineers will give you expert insight on your planned extension. They can also give safety suggestions and will advise you at an early stage as to whether your plans are attainable or not. You can’t just set about work just because it seems like a good idea on the surface… it might cause catastrophic problems to the structure of your home making it unsafe or unsellable in the future. Architects can give you designs that will compliment the rest of the house enhancing its value. They’ll also probably throw ideas into the mix that you hadn’t even considered. Engineers can make sure that your plans are safe. It’s essential to consult the professionals to assure the quality and safety of your additions.

Installing a new roof with a crane

  1. Work out your budget

After all your consultation and planning, options available ultimately come down to the budget. It’s better to determine your budget first and how high are you willing to go. The larger your extension is, the more expensive it tends to be. When you’re coming up with the budget, you should consider the other expenses such as the consultation fees to the engineers and architects, the contractor team and the materials. Remember to include a contingency fund for those unforeseen complications or problems. Researching suppliers at the start of the process might actually contribute to formulating a realistic budget.

Building materials

  1. Cost your materials

Once you have your budget sorted, it’s crucial to start sourcing and purchasing materials wisely. Ordering early could avoid the increasing costs of materials over time or paying premium prices for urgently required products or parts. If you’ve already made a deal with the construction supply company regarding prices, hopefully they wont increase the price for additional orders of the same products. And getting materials ordered and delivered early in the process is important so as not delay the start of building work. It will also prepare you for any unexpected shortages on the materials.

Large pile of building debris

  1. Hire a dumpster for the debris

After you’ve finished your extension or remodel, the only task left is to remove the inevitable debris created during the process. The best way to deal with this is to hire a dumpster / skip to take it all away. A disposal company can take care of those unwanted wood off cuts and piles of broken wall. They’ll have all the relevant licences for legal disposal. There’s nothing worse than doing the bulk of a job, then not clearing the area properly – or doing it painfully slowly. Weeks pass by, the work is finished, yet your house still looks like a building site. Remove the rubbish quickly and efficiently – then all that’s left to do is enjoy your new look home.

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3 Ways to decide if you need residential air conditioning repair or a new system

3 Ways to decide if you need residential air conditioning repair or a new system

It’s really frustrating when your air conditioner breaks down in the middle of a hot summer afternoon as countless people who it has happened to can attest. The first thing to do, of course, is to call in repair services. However, in some cases, the air conditioning system is beyond repair and the home-owner will need to replace it. It can be a dilemma making the decision between having it repaired or shelling out and buying a new air conditioning system. Choosing between the two can be confusing especially when you don’t have technical knowledge of how these systems work. Often, people opt for the wrong one – costing them much more than necessary.

To determine whether you should have your air conditioning repaired or invest in a new one, consider the following factors:

Air conditioning unit

  1. Age of the unit

This is the first factor you need to consider. Age greatly affects the performance of your air conditioning system. Air conditioning units often come with a longevity recommendation. When your air conditioning has a 15-year mark and it’s only 10 years old, you may opt for repair services like air conditioning repair in McKinney. However, if it’s nearing the 15-year mark, a replacement may be the best decision. Trying to repair a unit way past its recommended year of service can be a false economy, costing you more in the long run.

Air conditioning maintenance

  1. Cost of repair and replacement

Air conditioning repair may sound cheaper than having to buy a new one, but this isn’t always the case. Some repair costs, including service charges and buying spare parts could add up and may cost you more than a new unit. In a case like this, opt for a replacement. Or, when the need to repair seems to occur more often than the usual, the total cost can be overwhelming. Hence, replacement is the wiser thing to do. Be practical on this one and look at it over the long term.

Air conditioning repair

  1. Energy efficiency

There are a lot of contributing factors when it comes to energy efficiency. First is the working condition of your unit. If the unit doesn’t produce as much cold air as it used to even after series of repairs, it’s probably time to buy a new one. Energy efficiency is also about your electricity bill. If you notice your bill is starting to sky-rocket over time and the air conditioning is the only possible suspect, invest in a new one. Finally, consider your space and the traffic in the area. If an additional person or persons are using the room or if the space became bigger due to home improvement projects, it’s may time to buy a new one. However, if the above cases are not among your current situation, you might consider repairing it first.

When you opt for air conditioning repair, make sure you hire the best repair service firm. If you decide to buy a new one, find the unit that is right size and output for your needs. Also, check for the Energy Star label that proves that the unit is energy efficient.

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How to keep your heating oil costs as low as possible

How to keep your heating oil costs as low as possiblecredit

For many home-owners, the winter months are a worrying time. They worry about how much they’ll need to pay for heating oil. Fortunately, there are several ways to keep the cost of heating your home down, which is why we’ve written this post.

Buy from commercial sellers

Instead of automatically buying from your local domestic oil company, try commercial fuel suppliers as well. Many of them are happy to sell to domestic customers, as well as business owners. Usually, their prices are very competitive.

Buy your oil early

When possible, buy your heating oil early. Buying before the rush is the best way to avoid paying more than you need to.

However, you need to bear in mind that the cost of heating oil fluctuates throughout the year. Unfortunately, this sometimes means that buying your oil in the summer actually doesn’t work out to be cheaper.

However, most years, this approach does work. Because demand is lower during the warmer months the cost of heating oil usually dips during the summer.

Oil tank maintenancecredit

Look after your boiler

It is also worth having your boiler serviced during the summer. Many heating engineers are not so busy then. As a result, many self-employed engineers offer a discount to those customers who have their boilers serviced during the warmer months.

Having your boiler serviced on a regular basis will also save you money. This is because a properly maintained boiler works more efficiently. It’s also less likely to break down and need replacing.

Not to mention the fact that an unserviced boiler represents a safety hazard. Every year, hundreds of people die because they breathe in carbon monoxide emitted by a faulty boiler. Dozens more die in boiler explosions. In most of these cases, it turns out that the boiler involved hasn’t been properly maintained.

Don’t overheat your home

An awful lot of home-owners waste heating oil by keeping their home too hot. Studies show that if you turn your thermostat down by one degree every couple of weeks, most people will not notice the difference – at least not at first. Often, by the time they do realise that the house is cooler, the thermostat has already been turned down by four or five degrees, which significantly reduces the amount of oil that’s being consumed. Typically, for every degree you reduce your thermostat by, you save 1 or 2% on your fuel bill.

Basement oil tankcredit

Keep the heat inside your property

The other step you need to take is to insulate and draught-proof your home. It doesn’t take long to do, and it’s a job that many people can do themselves. You can find out more about how to insulate a house from this page. The information in this article will prove especially helpful for those who are living on a tight budget.

Buying your heating oil at the right time and shopping around for the best price are both important. However, it’s being careful not to consume too much fuel and making the best use of the heat that you generate that makes the biggest difference, and keeps your costs down.

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What should you do if you hit a gas main while digging?

What should you do if you hit a gas main while digging?credit

Modern life has made construction difficult. Digging on your own property used to be a simple task that just involved tools and some physical labour. These days, there’s an entire world of pipes, wires, lines and cables criss-crossing the land – all waiting to get in your way once you break ground.

The field of utility mapping has become very successful, helping people figure out just what is under their property, so that digging and construction can be done safely.

While cutting the cable line is an inconvenience, damaging a gas main is a serious hazard. Once there’s a gas leak, even the tiniest spark can cause an explosion. Keeping that in mind, what should you do if you hit a gas main?

garden spade in the ground

Start with prevention

The best first step is to avoid the whole problem to begin with by accurately determining what is underground at your dig site. You can either call your various utilities and get as much information from them as you can, or use your region’s “call before you dig” service (which is typically free). The service should cover all the utilities, so it’s a more efficient approach.

Most of these services will check with their records to determine precisely what is (or isn’t) under your property. Even though we’re talking solely about gas lines here, it’s good to get info on all possible obstacles. For a more direct view of what’s underground, to cover all the bases and to include things that may not be on record, hire a company to do a mapping with ground penetrating radar.

Be warned, that many places will hold you liable if you do dig and hit a utility without having called the service for guidance.

mini-digger clearing pile of bricks

You’ve hit the gas main

Even with all your planning, accidents can still happen. If you hit a gas line, you should immediately evacuate everyone out of the area. Clear out an area of at least 100 feet, and turn off all power equipment in the same range. That means electrical as well as any gas-powered machines. Battery-powered flash lights or task lights should also be off. Any slight spark can ignite the gas.

Don’t base your actions on whether you can smell any gas. Though natural gas should have an odour, a small leak may be undetectable outdoors, and will continue to seep gas as you work.

Once you’ve cleared the area, call the gas company. Be clear that you think you’ve hit a gas pipe and they’ll let you know what to do next. They can likely clarify that the pipe is indeed a gas main (if you aren’t positive), and they’ll send out a professional crew to deal with it.

If you haven’t called the dig safety line beforehand, don’t let that stop you from calling. Fear of litigation or fines shouldn’t prevent you from doing the right thing and reporting the damage. The risks of fire or explosion are too serious for that.

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Why renovation is a good opportunity to consider pest management

Why renovation is a good opportunity to consider pest management

If you’re having renovation work completed you have an excellent opportunity to think about pest management at the same time. Before the renovation work begins it’s a good idea to speak to a professional exterminator in Chesapeake to ask them to conduct an assessment which can then be discussed with the renovation expert you employ.

We’re going to take a look at what pest control measures could be considered. We’re also going to explain why it makes sense to include them in your renovation project.

What pest control work can be included as part of the renovation?

Wasp nest on a ceiling

The reason why you should consult with a pest control expert before you have renovation work carried out is so they can put their expertise to use advising what pest control measures could be included in the renovation work. This could include:

  • Sealing gaps and cracks in the exterior walls of your property to help prevent pests from gaining access.
  • Sealing gaps around kitchen cabinets.
  • Repairing any leaks, or problems with water damage, that may be present.
  • Using pest resistant materials.
  • Applying boric acid to areas behind walls which can help prevent cockroach infestation

This is a selection of pest control measures that can be included as part of a renovation project. Hopefully, you can see why these measures are so important.

Why include them in the renovation?

Cockroaches being exterminatedcredit

If you’re spending money on having your home renovated, you want the final result to be as successful as possible. If you do not pay attention to pest control as part of the project then you’re missing out on a great opportunity to make sure your home is protected.

Of course, there’s also a chance that a pest infestation could damage the work that has been completed. This being the case, it makes sense to take all possible action to protect your property against potential pest invasion.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that the issue of pest control is resolved forever. You should have your home inspected for pests at least once every two years. This doesn’t change even if you include pest control in your renovation project; unless the pest control experts advise otherwise. Having the work completed does mean that you are less likely to encounter a problem with pests.

Once the renovation work is complete, you should speak to the pest control experts about any further recommendations they may have. They’ll also advise you about future inspections.

Hopefully, we’ve shown you why a renovation project is a good opportunity to address any potential pest control issues. It makes sense to include any pest deterrent improvements, from a practical and financial viewpoint. If you neglect the opportunity you may have regrets if a problem with pests ends up causing damage to the renovation work you’ve just had completed.

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Lone Star State house prices experiencing strong gains

House with Stars & Stripes flag down the front

According to the second quarter reports for 2016 that have been released by the Texas Association of Realtors, the state’s house prices have been experiencing very strong gains. The report, entitled the Texas Quarterly Housing Report, states that the last few months in particular, have been one of the biggest beginnings to the summer selling season for Texas real estate. Homes of all price classes and all types are now in really high demand, and this is especially the case for houses that are priced beneath $200,000. Continue reading to learn more about this great news for sellers, investors, and realtors.

Houston city skyline

Increases in homes

Real estate experts have noted increases in the prices of homes across the state, from rural Austin suburbs like Dripping Springs, to houses in big cities like Dallas, and every residential area in between. The report specifically stated that a total of 91,418 Texas houses were sold in just the second quarter of this year. This is an incredible 4.4% boost from the second quarter of 2015, and it is also the biggest volume of home sales in the state’s history.

On top of that, over 45% of the houses that were sold within the second quarter of 2016 were priced below $200,000, but almost 47% of the houses were priced anywhere from $200,000 to $500,000. This means that first-time home-buyers, as well as those with higher budgets, have been able to take advantage of the many homes found throughout the state in some of the country’s most beautiful cities and towns.

Austin waterfront and skyline

Expectations for continued growth

It is expected that home prices will continue to rise. After all, they did continue to climb, thanks to a surge in population numbers and a lower inventory of homes throughout the state. This high demand has made the current average price for a home in Texas $215,000. The reason for this increase in the median home price is partly due to the fact that the inventory of available homes for sale remained pretty much unchanged from the first quarter of 2016, so it is a seller’s market.

Arial view of a Texas suburb

Not all markets are benefiting

There are some housing markets throughout the state of Texas where these gains have not been seen, however. This is because there are many areas that are still impacted by the recent declines within the energy industry.

Despite this, on the whole, the housing market in Texas is continuing to do very well. Active listings increased by about 4.1%, and the second quarter of 2016 shows more than 98,000 listings that were active. Homes also spent less time for sale, with an average of 54 days on the market before being sold.

Because Texas homes are in such high demand and because prices are set to continue climbing, if you’ve been hoping to invest in real estate there, whether you want to raise your family in the state or retire there for a more affordable way of life, it is best to make your move sooner rather than later.

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