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Buy a Home | 6 Posts
Home Improvement | 12 Posts
Homeowners | 3 Posts
Sell a House | 4 Posts
Tuscaloosa, AL | 22 Posts
July
26

Make These Summer Fixes To Cut Costs

Home improvement shouldn't have to break the bank. Here are summer fixes that will save you money in the long run.

Whether you're saving to buy a home among Tuscaloosa homes for sale, or you've already acquired one and are looking for a few ways to cut expenses after the big outlay of buying a home — you can save money with some relatively painless hacks, and give yourself a bit of a financial boost.

Our real estate agents are very knowledgeable about the various fixes their clients have used to cut costs, so here are a few of them.

  1. Reduce energy usage.
    One of the best ways to cut costs is to reduce energy use. Yes, we know energy bills have risen because it's hotter than ever and oil prices are up, but there are some tricks that can help you lower costs, such as: A. Check your home's insulation and if it's lacking, shore it up, particularly on the floor of the attic; B.Seal air leaks with caulk and weatherstripping around door and window frames, baseboards, holes in exterior walls, attic hatch cover, and other areas where your cool air can get out and the heat gets in (install foam gaskets behind switch plates); C. Turn your A/C up a few degrees at night or when you're away from home, then turn it down when the family comes home and is moving around; D. Change your air filter regularly so your A/C doesn't labor to cool the home.

  2. Save money on irrigation.
    The best way to water your landscape in the warm months is with an irrigation system. But whether you use an irrigation system or you are hand watering and moving a sprinkler around, be sure you water effectively. Try to water at night or early in the morning, before the sun is up and the water evaporates. Watering at night or early allows the water to soak into the ground so it does the most good. Rather than watering frequently and to a shallow depth, water less frequently but allow the water to soak in. 

  3. Use fans to keep cool.
    If you don't have ceiling fans, install some. Make sure the fan blades are set to go counter-clockwise in the summer so that they can lift warm air from occupant level to the ceiling and help push down refrigerated air from the ceiling, down the walls, and down to occupant level. Keep fan blades clean, so they don't drag when operating. Also, use table or floor fans to supplement breezes as needed. You'll be able to cut back on air conditioning if you keep the breezes flowing.

  4. Shut blinds, curtains, and shades during the heat of the day.
    Shutting out solar radiation will keep the interior of your home cooler. If your windows aren't adequately covered, make it a summer-time project to cover them up.

  5. Cut down on cooking indoors.
    Use the microwave whenever possible to cook or to heat frozen, prepared dinners. Use the slow cooker out on the patio to cook meals; you can even bake potatoes in a slow cooker by pricking them, buttering up skins, and wrapping them in foil — then cover them up in the slow cooker for four hours on high, without adding moisture. If you've got an outdoor kitchen, even better.

  6. Use mulch to lessen heat stress.
    Use mulch generously around trees, shrubs, and flowers to maintain moisture levels and a cooler temperature in the soil so that you needn't water as much. But don't pile it against the plant.

Need more summer fixes to cut costs, or have you got a question about buying or selling a home? We're all ears. Contact us today. 

June
21

Make Your Landscaping Shine By Avoiding These Mistakes

Don't ruin your curb appeal with bad landscaping. Here are simple ways you can avoid the most common mistakes.

It's easy to make landscaping mistakes; just ask professional gardeners who have learned the hard way and, over time, have profited from the knowledge their mistakes have provided them. Similarly, as you have begun a big landscaping redo in that home you bought from Tuscaloosa homes for sale, we can point out a few of the major mistakes to avoid.

Our real estate agents get a lot of feedback from homeowners on mistakes made indoors and outdoors, so read on and learn what not to do.

Landscaping Snafus: Avoid These at All Costs

  1. Don't plant invasives.
    Certain plants are just bad news in the landscape. What does it take to make it to the "Do Not Plant" list for Tuscaloosa? Just about anything that's considered invasive is a big no. For instance, bamboo is inclined to take off and take over in our warm, wet climate. Privet and honeysuckle are also verboten, as are Cherokee, MacCartney, and Multiflora roses.

  2. Don't plant trees and bushes that are the wrong size.
    When planning a major redo of your landscape, it's a good idea to rough it all out on graph paper or even in computer software designed for the purpose. Planting trees? Plan for how they will grow and throw shade on any other plantings. (Plants need sun!) Also, think how they will affect your roofline.

    The same goes for bushes. Plant more compact, easier-to-care-for forms in the back, and perennials and annuals in front.

  3. Resist the temptation to just stick any plant in the ground (just because it was on sale at the big box store).
    Plan how plantings will look. Plan your color combinations. Some landscapers recommend contrasting hot and cold colors (say, fiery orange or bright yellow with blues and purples). Likewise, think about textures and hues of green and gray. Again, sketching and in this case, coloring, can help give you a sense of how it will look.

  4. Take it easy with the gravel.
    Granted, gravel isn't as popular in the Southeast as it is in the Southwest due to the fact we usually have abundant rainfall, but if you decide to go for a bit of xeriscaping, know that gravel can be a pain. First, it's really hot and can throw off heat that may scorch tender plants. Further, gravel is usually applied with a layer of weed barrier — which works fine the first year or so, but then accumulates dirt that becomes a growing medium for weed seed.

  5. Take it easy with the mulch.
    Yes, mulch is great for keeping moisture in the ground, so the plant thrives — but only when you refrain from mounding it around the trunks of trees and bushes. Leave a few inches of space around the plant, or you could damage it.

  6. Don't forget to water trees and bushes.
    Even in Tuscaloosa, we can have dry times — particularly in the winter. While you may remember to water perennials and annuals, don't forget to water trees and shrubs at least every six weeks in times of low rainfall.

  7. Deadhead perennials, annuals and blooming shrubs.
    Nipping off spent blooms before they turn to seed will prevent the plant's energy from going to making seed. That way, you'll have more prolific blooms.

  8. Cut back on fertilizing in the hot summer months.
    Over-fertilizing can not only burn your plants but may cause too much late-season growth. That, in turn, can leave the plants vulnerable to winter weather.

We're always happy to advise you on how renovating your home, inside or outside, will add value to your property. Contact us today.

February
21

How To Change Up Your Flooring In 2022

Changing up your flooring is a big commitment that can change the feel of your home. Here's how you can choose what's best for your home.

Nothing perks up a home like great flooring. Whether it's in the bathroom, kitchen, living room, or bedroom, the right flooring pulls the rest of your decorating or renovation efforts together and makes your home into a showpiece.

If you're ready for new flooring in the home you chose among Tuscaloosa homes for sale, you may find all the many choices to be bewildering. Let's take a look at some types of flooring you might be considering.

Hardwood

Hardwood remains the most popular choice among most homeowners, with nearly half of those surveyed in a recent poll by the flooring company 50Floor choosing hardwood as the top material for their floors. It's not hard to guess why. Hardwood, which encompasses such species as oak, map, hickory, and walnut, is beautiful, durable, and warm. It holds up to heavy use and can be maintained by removing and replacing damaged boards. It's also easy to coordinate with various color schemes and themes. It fits well with a wide range of accessories and decor. Hardwood's versatility is easily demonstrated by the various colors, textures, and designs available.

There are a few drawbacks. Being a natural material, hardwood can be subject to staining, warping, and scuffing. Hardwood also requires maintenance for a long life.

Hardwood is recommended for living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, and hallways.

Engineered wood flooring is an alternative way to get the look of hardwood but with more versatility and less maintenance. Engineered wood consists of two layers, one a thin veneer of wood, and underneath, a thicker layer of high-density fiberboard or plywood.

Laminate

Coming in way behind hardwood as a second popular choice is laminate (at about 17 percent in the 50Floor survey).

Laminate, which is more durable than engineered wood, has a photo layer that looks like wood (or possibly stone or tile). Beneath the veneer there is a layer of rigid fiberboard. On top is a transparent plasticate layer that defends against wear and fading. Laminates are known for their durability and ability to take some punishment. It's a great choice for those with kids and dogs. It's also much less expensive than hardwood.

The disadvantage is that, although resistant to humidity and moisture, it is not waterproof. Further, you might not like the slippery, plastic-y feel of it. It also can't be repaired when chipped.

Vinyl Plank/Vinyl Tile

Made of  PVC, vinyl plank has several layers, with the design layer mimicking wood, metal, or stone. It's easily installed: you can glue it down, click-lock it as "floating flooring" or loose lay it, relying on friction and weight. Some types can be applied as peel-and-stick. Vinyl plant is inexpensive, comfortable to the feet, and can look like whatever material you like, plus it's waterproof. You can use it anywhere in the house.

The downside is it gives off VOCs (volatile organic compounds). The less expensive products also may look suspiciously not like wood, stone, or whatever.

There's also vinyl sheet flooring, inexpensive and highly recommended for bathrooms and laundry rooms because it's waterproof. It's made from PVC, so mind the VOCs.

Tile

Types of tile flooring include stone, ceramic, porcelain, and cement. Porcelain and ceramic can be glazed or unglazed. One great new option in the tile world is wood-look tile, which mimics wood grain. Use it in bathrooms, kitchens, or laundry rooms with no fears. Tile is easy to clean, lasts forever, and looks beautiful. But tile can also crack or chip and may stain.

Our real estate agents have great tips for your Tuscaloosa home renovation. Contact us today.

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