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Home Improvement

 

Green home improvements have become one of the most popular remodelling projects on the design scene. Whether it comes to renovating the interior, installing new features or even decorating your space, it seems that green reigns supreme. There are actually more than a few excellent reasons why eco-friendly and sustainable improvements are the most sought-after on the market.

A positive impact on the environment

Let’s start from the most obvious benefit of green home improvements – preserving the environment. Making your home greener can actually contribute to the environment preservation in a variety of ways. You can help reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by going green and installing a renewable energy system in your home. For instance, an Energy Star home produces 2000 kg of greenhouse gases less than a regular home. You can also relieve pressure on finite resources by reducing your water consumption and using recycled or salvaged materials for your home improvements. Consequently, implementing sustainably sourced natural materials and reused materials also contributes to reducing waste. All of these benefits can make a valuable contribution to the environment preservation, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem.

modular home

Numerous opportunities for increased savings

A great number of homeowners opt for green improvements because they can help them increase their savings in the long run. For instance, energy efficiency is one of the most important aspects of a green home that can help you reduce your energy bill. You can boost your home’s energy efficiency by installing a solar system, introducing Energy Star-certified appliances, installing energy efficient windows or switching to energy-saving lighting, such as LEDs. You can reduce your electricity bill substantially or even completely if you break off from the regular electrical grid.
Furthermore, you can also save money on your water bill by installing water-saving features. From low-flow toilets and faucets to water-saving outdoor irrigation systems, there are plenty of ways to conserve water in your home.
Finally, green homes are also more durable due to the use of high-quality materials, appliances and other features. This reduced the need for frequent repairs or replacements, which provides you with another opportunity to increase your savings.

LED

A higher return on investment

Many would argue that green improvements are more expensive than the regular ones. Although this is generally true, they are actually an investment worth making and they will pay for themselves. Green improvements offer a high return on investment, enabling homeowners to recoup their initial costs. In addition, there are numerous grants and incentives for homeowners who decide to go green, especially on a larger scale. For instance, when it comes to solar panel finance, you can find a program that will provide you with 100 percent financing without any down payments. Furthermore, some states and utility companies may even pay you or provide you with some discounts in terms of your bills for the excess energy you generate and return to the grid. Thus, you can easily find a financing option that will help you pay for your green home.

business meeting

A healthier and more comfortable home

Improving your home through green remodelling projects will also prove you with a healthier and more comfortable space. Sustainable materials and green solutions aren’t treated with toxic chemicals, which means that they can’t pollute your indoor air through the process of off-gassing. For instance, you can use VOC-free paint and products to give your interior a fresh, healthy look. Furthermore, eco-friendly homes feature a lot of greenery, including potted plants, green walls and roofs, vertical gardens and outdoor green surfaces. Since plants act as natural air purifiers, they can help you increase your indoor air quality.
Green homes are also thermally more comfortable because of their high-quality insulation. Homeowners pay special attention to the insulation of their homes to prevent air leakage and energy wastage. This provides them with air-tighter homes and a more stable indoor temperature, which create a cosier, more comfortable home environment.

living room

Increased home value

Owing to a range of benefits that green home improvements offer, they are typically the most profitable ones on the market. Green homes are among the most popular types of property in real estate and a great number of buyers would rather pay more for them. Thus, going green will not only provide you with the aforementioned benefits, but it will also increase the value of your home on the market. If you ever decide to sell your home, you’ll be able to recoup your initial investment.

house with solar panels

Thus, when remodelling your home, you should go with some of the most profitable eco-friendly improvements. For instance, replacing your old windows with new, energy efficient ones will provide you with up to 70 per cent ROI. Proper insulation is another profitable green improvement that you should consider. Installing a smart thermostat or an eco-friendly water heater will also attract prospective buyers. Finally, if you decide to go solar, you may increase the value of your home by even $18,000.

Green improvements will provide you with numerous benefits, including a healthier and more comfortable home, increased property value and numerous savings opportunities. On top of all that, they will also help you make a valuable contribution to the environment preservation.

The combination of Australia’s dry climate and latitude provides it with high potential for solar energy production. What is more, Australia’s insolation (the power per unit area received from the Sun in the form of electromagnetic radiation) vastly exceeds the average values in Europe, Russia and most of North America is comparable to desert regions of Africa and South America’s Pacific coast. Let’s take an overview of its development from the pioneering project to future prospects.

The Bos House – small steps

Back in the day, there was much talk about the energy crisis and how the oil was running out, confides Judy Bos, the owner of Australia’s first fully autonomous solar powered home. Unimpressed by the way other houses blasted their resources for heating and cooling, Judy and Michael Bos wanted to design a house that stays naturally cool in summer and warm in winter. Built in 1978, in south-eastern outskirts of Melbourne, the house draws heavily from passive design, smart landscaping, using winds turbines to pump water and collecting rainwater, but the most impressive feature were the series of solar panels that charged a cupboard of lead acid batteries. Michael Harris, who used to run tours of the house in 1980s, said that back then, people were very interested in being self-sufficient and living off the grid.

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Towards brilliant examples

Nestled in a blustery seaside village of Cape Paterson in Southern Gippsland, the 10-Star Home is a stellar example of a carbon-positive, four-bedroom home conceived with a zero-waste philosophy. The first home of its kind in the State of Victoria, this 10-star energy rated home has no mechanical heating and cooling – it uses passive solar design, cross-flow ventilation and heavy-duty insulation. With a 5kW solar photovoltaic system on the roof, the home is reported to be producing twice as much power as it needs. In order to increase the amount of outdoor space in their 200-square-metre Yarraville block, Scott and Leanne Thompson added a green roof to their century-old worker’s cottage. In addition to increasing their garden setting in infamously costly inner-city Melbourne, they’ve insulated their kitchen and living area and minimised stormwater run-off. Dubbed Melbourne Vernacular, this heritage home now uses a range of innovations to cut carbon emissions and reduce the energy use, crowned with a 4kW solar PV system.

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Solar rebates in Australia

Credit refund amounts that the government offers to qualifying homeowners and businesses depends on the size of the solar unit and the property location. However, as with all government-related matters, changes are inevitable, so it’s always good to check resources before you invest in solar energy. The government-issued STCs (Small-Scale Technology Certificates) that solar home owners receive are sold to utility companies and used to offset the cost of the equipment installation. The number of STCs a user receives depends on the solar zone of the property. For example, a 1.5kW system in Melbourne, which is in zone four that receives the least sunshine, would receive 26.6 STCs.   

Projects that unplug Australia

Backed by scaled-up production of photovoltaic components and costs that continue to fall, global solar power is growing steadily, with China, USA, and Japan spearheading the lead with the most PV capacity added in 2016. In Australia, the cost of solar power is now well below the retail power prices in the capital cities, and it keeps falling. Every year, Australia adds more solar power than the combined capacity of SA’s recently closed Northern and Playford coal-powered plants. What is more, solar battery storage for households and businesses is already gaining round in Australia, with more than 6,500 homes using the technology. Large-scale developments such as the Lakeland solar and battery storage show a full potential of combining large-scale solar and energy storage technologies that can make entire communities less dependent on the grid and highly resistant to consumption-peak blackouts.

Despite the overall high potential, Australia’s often been internationally rebuked for not producing more energy from its solar resources. Perhaps the reason lies in the fact that areas with the highest insolation are distant to Australia’s population hubs on the coast. Nonetheless, solar power remains one of Australia’s growing industries with predictions of reaching 20 GW of solar power in the next 20 years, which is the equivalent of the third of the current national power generation capacity.

The smart home market is ever-expanding and opening up exciting new opportunities for modern homeowners. Namely, as technology advances by leaps and bounds, we are in a position to make our living environments more awesome, functional, and safe. Then again, all products are not created equal and you want to avoid gimmicks and subpar gadgets. Instead, focus on those that add real value to your home and upgrade your daily life. To help you in your search, we compiled a list of amazing gadgets based on our tests and existing reviews.  

Amazon Echo (2nd generation)

Smart home speakers such as Echo are popping up in homes and offices across the globe. The second generation of Amazon’s flagship is smaller, cheaper, and simply better than its predecessor. It is capable of playing music, setting alarms, producing weather reports, managing shopping lists, making calls, controlling other smart devices, etc. All of this you can do hands-free, using just your voice. After all, this enhanced speaker contains seven microphones, a Dolby processing unit, as well as 360-degree, omnidirectional audio.

iSmart Alarm

The next product on our list is one of the best home DIY security systems currently in the market. It is actually an eight-piece set that comes with two window sensors, alarm hub, two door sensors, a motion sensor, and two keychain remotes. Those who go for a pricier, premium package also get an HD security camera. The system includes customizable settings, integration with an app that tracks everything, and app- or keychain-enabled controls. Users can also choose to receive notifications via email, text and phone calls.

Ring Video Doorbell Pro

This one is more than just a wireless doorbell. It is also a smart video product that seamlessly connects to your smartphone. Yes, that means you can have conversations with your visitors without having to get up and stop what you are doing. Besides, you get a product that doubles as a security camera. Did I mention that recorded videos are stored via cloud and that with an optional accessory receiver, you can hear the doorbell anywhere in your home? The only bummer to speak of is the price tag. Here is the list of some of the best wireless doorbell products.

 

Ecobee4

Programmable thermostats enable homeowners to improve heating and cooling patterns and save a lot of money in the long run. Ecobee4 is a standout product that pays for itself after less than two years. It has a user-friendly responsive display and remote-control functions. Advanced sensors analyze occupancy and temperature to automatically determine the most optimal modes. There are a bunch of smart integrations, but I would say that one killer feature is a built-in Alexa speaker. This means you can control it via voice or smartphone app.

Philips Hue White LED Starter Kit

Philips Hue White is a soft light bulb you can manipulate remotely. Namely, smart controls are intuitive, a dedicated app automates the whole experience, and there is also support for Hue’s well-connected platform. What is more, you can easily add extras to your setup if you wish it so: Hue Dimmer Switch, Hue Tap, Hue Motion Sensor, etc. The product is compatible with Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. The right ambience for your mood is just a few taps or voice commands away.

August Smart Lock

Smart locks have revolutionized home security and August is certainly worth your while. The interface is simple and easy to put to good use. You do not have to replace your keys, which is utterly convenient. There are auto-locks and auto-unlock features that really make your life easier. Moreover, you can count on the smooth HomeKit, Alexa, Siri, and Nest integrations. The app experience is solid and the components are well-made and sturdy. Just bear in mind that there is no alarm included in the package.

Play it smart

In this day and age, the market is flooded with cutting-edge gadgets and smart devices. They span nearly every room and automate various home systems and features. Thus, they give you a chance to be in full control of your environment. Try to stick to devices that are easy to install and use, as well as those that speak to your inner “techie”. So, it is time to comb through the internet, and embark on your own shopping adventure. Put together an intricate framework for a high-tech, 21st century home.    

Too often, small apartments are viewed as a type of prison which leaves us cramped and forces us to make design compromises. However, let’s try to look on the bright side. Tiny places are easier to clean and maintain, they encourage you to focus on quality over quantity, the heating and cooling bills are usually lower, and, most importantly, they give you the opportunity to invest the same amount of creativity (and money) into decorating every single room. This is especially important for bathrooms, which are often pushed aside, as the other rooms gain priority. So, here are a few ideas for redesigning your petite bathroom.

Get the most out of corners

Corners usually remain unused, and since your bathroom could benefit from every additional square foot, you should reconsider your decision to leave them as they are. For starters, you can install a corner sink to avoid disrupting the traffic lane in the room. Corner sinks can have storage space underneath, and you can use the limited counter space to decorate with fresh flowers or candles. Furthermore, you can set up a corner shower, and use up the vertical space for corner shelves.

Round it up

If you have a small apartment, you have probably read thousands of articles about using clean-lined furniture to fit everything in. However, in bathrooms, elements with sharp corners can pose a hazard for your hips. Also, you can go with a round or oval-shaped sink, which will allow more counter space for your toiletries and decorations.

Pair busy and simple

Another décor rule you should break is going way too simplistic with the tiles and the walls. Feel free to create some dynamics by combining elaborately designed floors with minimalistic painted walls or monochromatic wall tiles. Also, if you decide to make one entire surface patterned or colorful, keep everything else in the room simple.

Extend what you can

Double sinks are great, but if you want to have enough storage and counter space, consider getting a long sink, where the sink and the countertop come in one piece. The sink is still sufficient for two people to get ready at the same time, but it saves you serious space. Also, you can extend the counter over the toilet or alongside a wall, at least in a narrower style.

Don’t be afraid of going large

You can decide to make some pieces large, but in those cases, you need to maximize your efforts to fit everything in (think floating shelves and niches). If there is one piece where you can afford to go extra-large, that is the mirror. Not only will it serve as a glamorous design element, but it will also create the illusion of spaciousness by reflecting the light throughout the room.

Show off your shower

Don’t hide away your shower with dark curtains or foggy matte glass. Instead, opt for completely translucent frameless glass doors, which will transform your shower from a purely functional item into a design asset. Additionally, the space will appear larger.

Show some love with accessories

While minimalistic is the way to go with small bathrooms, you don’t need to avoid accessories, you just need to choose and position them strategically. Start by turning bathroom fixtures into accessories. Choose faucets, showerheads, and cabinet hardware in interesting colors (e.g. brass, matte black or copper). Finish up the look by arranging candles, fresh flowers, and houseplants (follow the rule of three).

Your small bathroom doesn’t have to cause you a headache. On the contrary, if you manage to spruce it up with one of these projects, you will have enough space, and as a bonus, you will get stylishness and glam to spare.

 

Managing to get your own home is always a big step and a great moment in your life. It’s also a given that before you proceed with this significant decision, you have researched the market well and you have taken into consideration the hard work that comes with having your own home.

On top of that, it is no secret that in today’s world people are changing homes at least two to three times in their lives. That being said, you need to try your best in order to ensure that when the time to sell your home comes you have increased its initial value and you have cut a good deal for yourself.

Boosting your home’s value isn’t easy, but it’s possible. Nevertheless, it requires a solid plan, constant investments and a lot of effort.

Here are 10 smart tips that can help you increase the value of your home. From renovating your kitchen to extending your property.

1.  Renovate your kitchen

It goes without saying that the kitchen is one of the most crucial parts of a house. That’s why, maintain it in a good condition should always be a priority. A nice kitchen can truly boost the value of your asset and make a big difference when it comes down to selling your home. With that in mind, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to renovate your kitchen and choose good materials. As a rule, the more money you invest in your kitchen the more you will get back once you decide to sell the house.

2. Bathroom matters also

Once you are done with your kitchen renovation, the next stop is your bathroom. We don’t even have to mention how important a bathroom is for a home. The bigger it is the higher the price of your home. Like in the kitchen case, make sure that you invest in top quality materials and that you protect the bathroom well from humidity, bugs and any other factor which could decrease the value of your home.

stylish bathroom

3. Build an additional room

An easy and straightforward way to increase the value of your home is to add an extra room to it. It doesn’t take much to understand that a 2 room asset will be cheaper than a 3 room asset (as long as they are both in a similar condition) due to the fact that it can provide less functionality to its owners. Furthermore, by increasing the number of rooms in your home you can unlock another part of the market to which you couldn’t appeal to until then.

4. Outdoors also matters

Especially if you live in a city this parameter can truly make a difference. Take good care of the garden and make good use of any outdoor space that comes with your home. This factor could instantly increase the value of your house. By having a garden, it is most likely to attract couples and families which means that you attract a segment of the market with a stronger budget.

patio

5. Painting can make a difference

Most of the people may consider a good painting as the least of their concerns, but it really isn’t. A solid painting job can increase the value of your asset and make your home appealing to more candidates. The reason behind this is simple. You give to the buyer a full illustration of what their house would look like once they decide to proceed with it. In addition, you save them from the trouble of doing the painting themselves. More money for you less work for them. A win-win situation.

6. Decoration is important

As a natural continuation of the previous point, the interior space of the home matters a lot. Try to invest in taking good care of the interior and its decoration. This could be an additional card up your sleeve and increase the price of the home. Especially if you are planning to sell a furnished asset, this parameter is fundamental. But even if you don’t, it’s always a good idea to help the buyers visualize their new home. Thanks to your decoration, they can get some fresh ideas for their home and get excited about the option that you offer to them.

living room decor

7. Adjust to the market

The next tip is mainly for those who want to think in long-term or they have the necessary resources to make big changes in a small period of time. Adjusting to the market can take years but it will eventually help you increase your home’s value. For instance, if there is a strong request for family homes in your area, you might want to readjust your home from a 2 room to a 3 or 4 room asset. Immediately, you open a new market which has the financial capacity to buy your home and increase your earnings.

8. Be careful if you rent it

Ideally, the fewer people that have stayed in your place the higher its value in the market. However, this isn’t always possible. For the one reason or the other, you might want to rent the place. In that case, you need to be extra careful with the people that you choose to live in your home. Make sure that you mention to them the importance of taking good care of the asset from day one. If they don’t, start looking for someone new who can respect your terms. Lastly, make sure to renovate the place once they move out. In that way, you can boost your home’s value instantly.

9. Learn to market it better

Sometimes it’s not about what you have but what you show to the market. The real-estate market is no exception to that. Before you submit your ad online or to the papers, you want to be sure that you have taken good photos of the asset and that you have put together an enticing text which clearly describes the benefits of your home and why its value is as high as it is.

10. Find the right agent for the job

Last but certainly not least, finding the right person to handle your home building project is essential. A good agent can actually boost the value of your home and bring you closer to the big deal that you have dreamt of. That being said, you want to make a good market research before you end up working with one of them. Your network is your biggest ally in such cases. Gather as many information as you can and choose the one that fits better to your needs.

Final thoughts

All in all, increasing your home’s value is a long and challenging process. Nonetheless, as we showed above it can be done under the condition that you have a smart plan in place. Follow the steps above and good luck with home-selling effort!

About the author: Anastasios Koutsogiannis is a Content Marketing Manager at GenieBelt.

You may have just moved into a new property or you may be renovating the property you’re currently in. Aside from the lovely creation of interior design and decoration there’s another element worth paying close attention to, your heating.

How you heat your home can have a big impact on the livability and comfort of the spaces you call home.

Assess the current situation

It’s important to understand exactly what is heating your property and how it works – the pros and cons. Once you have this understanding you’ll be in a good position to make the right choices about your heating.

What heats your house?

It may be a boiler powering a wet radiator system, or a back boiler on a solid fuel stove, air-conditioning or infrared heating. Every heating system has its own quirks and foibles, particularly if it’s older. It’s important to understand your heating system so that you know how to get the best out of it and whether it’s worth upgrading or sticking.

What’s it powered by?

There’s a few choices, your heating system could be fired by oil, mains gas, propane, electricity or solid fuel. Depending on what powers your heating system there will be an impact on whether it’s worth thinking about changing your heating system. Quite often the cost of replacing an inefficient heating system powered by an expensive fuel means that the capital outlay is repaid very quickly by the reduced running costs of the new system.

How old is it?

Boiler efficiency degrades reasonably quickly. A highly efficient boiler which is 10 years old will no longer be highly efficient and this has a large impact on your day-to-day running costs. If you have an old boiler it is worth considering the cost savings you will achieve by replacing it or replacing the whole heating system with a more efficient heating system

When was it last serviced?

Regularly servicing not just your boiler but also the radiators is important to keep a wet radiator system working efficiently. Likewise if you’re reliant on a solid fuel stove, keeping it swept and clean will also help with the overall efficiency. Air conditioning should also be regularly serviced to keep everything working as it should.

Does it actually do the job?

Pretty important one… does the heating system you have actually do what you want it to? Does it provide you with a controllable, comfortable and adjustable heat, and does it do this efficiently? If not, it may be that the system you have is not up to the job. In this case it’s possible that servicing the system resolves the issues, if not you may need to upgrade to a better, more efficient heating system.

Is it Flexible

The best and most efficient heating systems are flexible in that you can control the heat requirements of each individual room or zone. If you have a central thermostat controlling the heating get rid of it and install thermostatic control in each space. This ensures that you are not heating where you don’t need to and will have a large impact on the overall efficiency of your heating system.

Author Bio: Simon Sharp is the owner of Funkyheat, a UK based manufacturer of high-end infrared heating. He has a wide experience of heating and renewable energy.

Everyone knows that home remodeling can be a big chore that disrupts your daily life for a while and makes living in your own home rather uncomfortable. However, there are bigger worries than that – a remodeling project can also make a big hole in your budget.

That’s why it’s so important to do your best to keep the costs under control. It’s not always up to you and sometimes going over your budget is the only way to go, but for the most part, with good planning, you can keep the remodeling cost in check.

kithcen remodeling

Have a detailed plan

The best way to avoid losing money on a remodeling project is to have a clear idea of what you want to get done and what the goal of your remodeling is. This is sometimes much more difficult than it sounds and it isn’t enough to know that you want your home to look different and to be freshened up.

The plan should go into details about all that the project involves and also specify a price and a timeframe for each of the tasks. It takes time to create such a plane but it can then serve as a guide.

“While we’re at it”

While we’re at it approach to remodeling is the worst way to handle a project. This approach tends to attach a lot of smaller projects to the main tasks of remodeling a home. That’s when you say: “while we’re remodeling the bathroom, we can also install new voice-activated lights”.

It’s a slippery slope because some smaller projects can actually be done by the workers you have hired already. The only way to go is to restrain yourself from this and never attach additional projects.

workers in house

An emergency fund

The truth is that regardless of how well you plan things out, there are always going to be some small expenses and delays that are beyond your control. It’s best to prepare for it in advance and have an emergency budget in place.

The size of this fund is the most important decision to make because that way you decide how much you’re willing to give in to circumstances beyond your control.  As a rule of thumb, anything beyond 25 percent of your initial plan is too much.

Shopping around

When you take the time to shop around, regardless of the purchase, you can find small savings that really add up. This is also the case with home remodeling, because you’re not only buying the materials needed for such a project, but the labor needed to complete it.

guys painting the wall

Talk to the local suppliers about the materials they are using. A lot of saving can also be made if you use recycled materials or if you make sure that they are actually local and you don’t have to pay additionally for the transport. It’s also a good idea to talk to the homeowners in your area about their experiences with the construction crews because prices may vary significantly.

Don’t pay for all of it at once

The remodeling projects usually consist of a lot of smaller projects and clearly divided maintenance jobs. This provides you with an opportunity to control the quality of the work being done and to stop the project entirely if you feel like you can’t afford it anymore.

money and calculator

Create an arrangement with the contractor to pay the bill in increments when each portion of the job is completed. Take the time to divide a project in ways that are beneficial to all parties.

There are ways to cut down the costs of a remodeling project. The key is to know what you want to do and to prepare for unforeseen changes.

The younger generation is well-aware of the benefits of renting. Limited responsibilities, and the freedom to pick up and move at a moment’s notice go hand in hand with the nomadic lifestyle and the delayed adulthood of the millennial generation. However, owning a home also has its benefits. Apart from the pride of ownership and belonging to a community, there are palpable financial and tax incentives to owning a home. Here are five considerations for people who are buying a home for the first time.

Find a realtor

While you can find tons of useful information on the Internet, they are hardly a match for years of live market experience. Having a professional real estate agent on your team can help you sort out what’s important, and rest assured, these people know which questions to ask and what to look for. Not only do they have access to valuable pricing information but can also rely on a long string of connections with home inspectors, lenders, and attorneys. A good realtor is more of a consultant than a salesperson. If you feel that you’re being hawked into buying anything at all cost, it’s better to move along.

Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

Choose the right one

You can ask your friends and family for recommendations, but make sure you ask the follow-up questions, like if they worked with them personally, how much experience they have and if they did a good job. Unfortunately, there are not many hoops one needs to jump through to become a real-estate agent, so the market is brimming with part-time and inexperienced professionals, who might be honest, but have little experience in the industry. Just because you know people who know people doesn’t mean they’ll do a great job.

Plan your budget

You’ve saved for a stunning holiday, new wardrobe or a sleek used car, but when you decide to purchase a property, you reach the boss level of all saving goals – the home loan deposit. It’s generally considered that the minimum deposit for home loans should be at 20% of the purchase price. You may already have a budget in place, but if not, it’s time to review your saving strategy. Audit all your current expenses and identify the opportunities to trim the fat. Your home-buying budget needs to work for you well after you move in.   

Photo by Mari Helin-Tuominen on Unsplash

 

Get the papers in line

When applying for a mortgage, you need to present the proof of your income and tax report. Mortgage lenders usually ask for two recent pay stubs, W-2s from the previous two years, tax returns and bank statements from the past two months. They need every page of the statements, including the blank ones. This way, they can make sure you have sufficient funds or don’t have odd money coming in or out. Having all the necessary papers in order can save you time.

Photo by Wells Baum on Unsplash

A few takes on location

For most people, their first home is not going to be their permanent residence. When scouting a location, the best course you can take is to see it as an investment, even if you’ll be living there. Unless space is your biggest concern, an inner city apartment is perfect for your first property. Aside from the building and internal features, consider the local schools, amenities, and transport routes. If there is a significant housing or commercial development in the area, your real-estate investment has a bright future.  

Home ownership is a form of saving which lets you build on equity and net worth with upgrades and improvements. With today’s low interest rates, your buying power is probably stronger than it will be in the future, and rest assured, they will keep going up, just like the rent payments.

 

Implementing simple green changes to your home is easy and most of us don’t think twice when it comes to installing LED lights or a dual-flush toilet. However, when it comes to going green on a larger scale, such as switching to a renewable energy system, we start thinking about our finances. Yet, we fail to see that even though such an upgrade might require more money initially, it actually offers a high return on investment. Furthermore, you have different systems at your disposal, so you can find one that meets your needs.

Wind Turbines

Although wind turbines aren’t the most common solution for residential areas, wind-generated energy is actually more stable than solar energy. With an appropriately sized turbine, you can meet most or all of your household’s energy needs. Some of the disadvantages of wind turbines are their somewhat unappealing look and noise. However, nowadays, you can find small turbines appropriate for residential use. Nonetheless, before opting for this energy source, make sure that there aren’t any local regulations that prohibit it.

wind turbines
Image Source: econews.com.au

Geothermal energy systems

Geothermal systems are another source of clean, renewable energy generated by earth’s heat. Although this type of system may have a small environmental footprint while being developed, it’s actually quite eco-friendly as it can reduce your home’s carbon footprint significantly by eliminating the need for electricity used for heating or cooling your home. This system consists of geothermal heat pumps (GHPs) that use 25 to 50 percent less energy than regular HVAC systems. Furthermore, the equipment produces no noise and requires little space, so it can easily fit in any home design. If you opt for this type of renewable energy system, make sure to check your property’s geological,
spatial and hydrological characteristics that will determine what kind of system you need.

Solar energy systems

Solar panels are one of the most popular and commonly used renewable energy systems that can boost your home value substantially. Depending on your energy needs, a few square feet of solar panels can be enough. Due to their aesthetic appeal, solar panels work well with modern home designs. They can be placed either on your roof or in your backyard. However, the main disadvantage of a solar system is that it produces energy only when the sun is up. Nonetheless, you can now find solar batteries that can store your excess energy which you can then use when there’s no sun.

home solar panels
Image Source: thegreenage.co.uk

There’s another possible solution if you want to go with solar energy. Solar shingles are becoming more and more popular as they feature a subtler design than solar panels. These are actually photovoltaic roof tiles that are installed instead of regular shingles. Since they resemble regular roof shingles, they can even blend with a more traditional home design. The initial installation may amount to even $20,000, but around 350 shingles can slash your electricity bill by up to 60 percent. In addition, you may find federal, state or local tax incentives that can reduce the cost of installation.

However, if you’re not in a financial situation to go with an entire solar system, you have other options available. For instance, you can go with a solar water heating system to heat your home and water. Solar water heaters are more affordable than solar panels and easier to install. In addition, they can cut your gas or electricity consumption, increasing your savings in the long run. Solar air conditioning is another possible solution that uses solar power to cool down your home. You can actually combine these two systems as they both use hot water.

Hydropower systems

A hydropower system generates energy from a flowing water source. Of course, this type of energy system is available only to homeowners who have such a source on their property. Thus, if you’re one of the lucky few, you should definitely invest in a micro hydro generator because even a small stream can generate steady and clean energy and cover your needs at a price significantly lower than wind or solar.

Renewable energy systems may require a sizeable investment upon installation, but they are a profitable home improvement that will boost your home’s value and increase your savings in the long run.

You have moved into your new home, but because of all the moving finalizations, you don’t have time to plan your redecoration project and are unsure how and where to start. Luckily, there are now numerous design and decor trends that you can choose to incorporate into your home. However, keep in mind that not all of them can be a good addition to your home design, so you have to choose carefully. In order to help you, we have gathered our top points that you must have on your new home checklist. Let’s take a look and get inspired.

The laundry room

Every home needs a well-organized laundry room. Many movers know from experience how important it is to have a working washer and dryer above anything else during that initial period. On top of that, it’s important to stock it with necessary hampers, detergents, and all the essential products that you need for washing. Additionally, it’s good to keep your iron and ironing board here as well, so you can easily fetch them after pulling your clothes from the dryer. Lastly, other handy essentials you may need include a lint roller, boxes in which you can deposit items found in pockets and an extremely practical plastic laundry folder.

Bathroom prep

Equipping the bathroom with essentials should be the next item on your list. Start by incorporating some basics like shower curtains, trash can and toothbrush holders, so that your first guests don’t feel as though they are visiting a vacant apartment. Furthermore, if you want to truly dazzle your visitors, make sure to paint your bathroom with an eco-friendly acrylic colour that will look chic and prevent moisture from damaging the walls. If you have a small bathroom and want to make it more practical, make sure to opt for floating vanities and a big wall mirror to make the room feel more spacious. Finally, nothing makes the bathroom atmosphere more enjoyable than greenery, so make sure to place some potted flowers on higher shelves and add a touch of serenity.

Accessorizing

If your home is nothing but bare walls, a couch and a coffee table, you are doing something wrong. First things first, make sure to choose the right curtains to add a glamorous feel to space, and don’t forget to let as much sunshine in during the day as possible. Apart from that, you can include ambient lightings like standing lamps and classy pendant lights, and use them as focus lights for key parts of your rooms. What’s more, when it comes to creating a friendly atmosphere, nothing works better than a spacious lounge and comfy bean bags for those laidback movie nights or gatherings with your friends. Lastly, don’t hesitate to be creative when it comes to decor. After all, a nice interior design is essential for making your house a home.

A posh garden

Since all your guests will first see your home’s exterior, you have to make sure that their first impression is a good one. For this reason, we recommend that you start with mowing your lawn and hiring professionals to create breathtaking flower arrangements for the front and back of your house. Once you have covered this, you can go even further and opt for a pool to raise your house parties to a whole other level. Keep in mind, you can’t call a garden posh without fabulous stone sculptures, a path made out of pebbles and, of course, you should choose cosy and trendy patio furniture to bring comfort to your outdoor spaces. When it comes to outdoor furniture materials if you have awnings you can even consider wood, just make sure it’s long-lasting.

Setting the mood in the bedroom

Now that you are almost ready to present your new home, you just need some essentials for the bedroom. This season, passionate colours for accent walls and pastel nuances combine to create a unique décor trend that you simply must apply here. Additionally, if you want to feel like royalty, you need a beige woollen rug to complement your high-quality wood furniture like an oak commode or rosewood nightstands. Finally, don’t forget to set the right mood with dimmer lights for romantic evenings with your partner.

As you can see, it doesn’t take much effort to check off every new house essential list. You just need to follow these simple steps, explore decor trends and not be afraid to make bold creative moves since it’s most important that you feel comfortable in your new home. Good luck with your project!