Updated: Sunday, May 20, 2018
10 Tips To Upgrade Your Home Security
Keeping your home and family safe is a priority we all share. But beyond locking the doors and getting a home alarm, there are numerous steps we can take to protect who - and what - we love, and it doesnt have to break the bank.
1. Change your locks
Did you change your locks when you moved into your new home? Yeah. Neither did we. That means someone might already have the most important thing they need to get into your home: a key.
2. Upgrade your door security
While youre changing your locks, look for those that give you more secure options. If youre not sure how important this is, consider what Family handyman reports about FBI burglary statistics: "65 percent of break-ins occur by forcing in the front, back or garage service door."
3. Remove that extra key
The FBI also reports that 12 percent of break-ins are caused by thieves simply finding your hidden key. If you have one sitting under your welcome mat or in a planter, its time to remove it.
4. Use timers
"Put interior lights, TVs, and radios on timers so that you can create the illusion that someone is home when theyre not," said Bob Vila. "Modern digital light timers offer a key benefit over traditional models by having lights cycle on and off randomly."
Make sure to include motion detector lights in key spots around the exterior of your home. A light that pops on just as a burglar is approaching your back door may be enough to make him back away form your home. Home automation products make all of this easier than since you can control lights, TVs, and other items via Smartphone.
5. Get a dog
Seriously. Homes with dogs are less likely to be broken into, according to a study by The University of North Carolina, because they bark to create a ruckus and can also harm an intruder by biting.
6. Fake the alarm
If you cant swing the cost of an alarm, pretend you have one. "Thieves look for an easy mark; making your home look tough to crack will encourage them to move on," said HGTV. "You can easily put up security system decals - a clear deterrent - even if you dont have a system."
7. Install a camera
"Thanks to >8. Check doors and windows
You might think your home is more secure than it is. Maybe that backdoor is easy to open with a good push or the guest room window isnt shutting all the way. Eliminating easy access points by shutting doors and windows and locking everything up will cost you nothing, but if you need a backup for that easy-access slider door, a good old broomstick cut down to size will do the trick.
9. Call the police
In many areas, a police officer will visit your home to give you tips on how to make your home more secure, and it will cost you nothing.
10. Eliminate hiding spots
"If your shrubbery is too tall, bushy, or not well spaced, youre providing a nice hiding spot for a potential burglar," said Consumer Reports. "Trim and prune plantings."
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Keeping Costs Down When Building Your New Pool
Having a pool can be one of the most enjoyable parts of homeownership, but building it can be an expensive undertaking. "If youre planning to install a pool, be prepared to open your wallet," said US News. "PK Data reports that the average cost of a residential in-ground swimming pool was 39,084 last year."
If you want a pool without the high price, there are ways to keep costs down:
1. Get multiple bids
Talking to only one company gives you no point of reference. Youll want to compare at least three bids from three different companies while youre deciding who is going to build your pool, even if the companies in the running are referrals. And, speaking of referrals, make sure you get them. Entrusting someone with that much money and responsibility without the recommendation of someone you trust - and without thoroughly checking them out - may not end well.
2. Think about the big picture
It might be that a larger upfront cost can lead to savings down the line. Consider this from Marc Sheridan of River Pools: "In the past, concrete, or gunite pools as theyre also called, were almost always more expensive or at least priced about the same initially as fiberglass pools. This year thoughhellip;Ive been witness to some of the lowest prices offered on concrete pool installations in over 10 years. For example, on large pools, Im finding that most concrete pools come in 5-10k less than a fiberglass pool."
The problem lies with using inexpensive surfaces that may not have lasting power. "Most consumers have no idea that theyll be shelling out an additional 8-12k minimum only a decade after install" of white plaster," he said. "When one compounds this number over the course of 20-30 years, the cost to the homeowner is even worse. This doesnt even account for the fact that most pool owners are now using salt chlorinators with their swimming pools, a technology of which I am a huge fan of but has been shown to be more abrasive on concrete pool surfaces than regular chlorine. This is also why I always recommend to my clients that decide to go with a concrete/gunite pool that they should go with a more permanent surface like PebbleTec. I always base decisions and recommendations on what is the best for the long-term, and not for the initial moment price. What good does it does to save a few thousand dollars upfront on a swimming pool purchase if these savings will cost you thousands and thousands more in the long run?"
3. Go with a simple design
A pool design with multiple curves, steps, shelves, and other add-ons will raise the cost. Keep it simple for the best chance of keeping the price down.
4. Limit the materials
Exotic tiles and finishes in the pool, and upscale materials used on the decking and patio, can add thousands of dollars to the overall cost.
5. Forgo the bells and whistles
A spa, a waterfall, a bubbler, and an Infinity edge... All are desirable pool features, and all will add to your bottom line.
"By some estimates, the actual construction of an in-ground pool is only about half of what you will eventually pay," said Pool Pricer.
6. Pay attention to size
The bigger the pool, the more expense youll have in piping, pumps, filters, chemicals, and energy used.
7. Do your own maintenance
Pools get dirty and have to be cleaned and maintained regularly. The monthly cost averages 130 to 378, according to HomeAdvisor, with pool cleaners charging 75 to 100 per hour or more. But, much of this cost can be eliminated if you choose to maintain the pool yourself.
"Maintaining your pool yourself will take less than two hours as long as you do it regularly. Routine maintenance not only keeps your pool clean for use, but it also allows you to spot problems early on - before they become big, costly repairs," they said.
8. Build a self-sustaining pond instead
The swimming pond is a growing trend that brings a natural look to the yard and limits the amount of maintenance that needs to be done. "One of the great benefits of a swimming pond is that it is chemical free. When managed properly, natural swimming pools have crystal-clear water and require no chemicals to maintain because they are self-cleaning mini-ecosystems," said Good Housekeeping.
9. Wait on the pool heater
"Adding a heater after having owned the swimming pool a season or more can be a great idea because pool owners can get a true gauge on just how much they need a heater, as well as what type of heater will suite them best," said Sheridan. This is especially useful in warmer climates where homeowners may not even need a heater in the summer.
10. Carefully choose the location
A pool that is located under trees may benefit from shade and therefore not need as much heating, however, it might end up with more leaves and debris, increasing the need for cleaning. The distance from the house is also a factor. "Well-planned pools are generally located close to the house, reducing costs associated with energy and water," said Contractors.com.
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Eight Signs Its Time To Move Up
The starter home. It was so cute and quaint and sweet when you bought it, right? But, that was before kids and dogs and overnight quests and holiday dinners that require mathematician-level logistics to finding everyone a seat in a dining room that bursts at six people.
Lets face it: Its probably time to move up. Lack of space is the No. 1 reason people start looking for a larger home. Families expand, life>But running out of room not the only reason to consider moving up.
Youve got the equity
You may have had to scrimp and save for the down payment on your first home, but, if your home has appreciated, you may be in a completely different financial position this time around. If youre the type who envisions paying off your home and being free and clear, moving up may not be on your mind. But, for the rest of us, having equity in our current home means greater buying power to buy something bigger or get into a neighborhood we covet.
Youre at each others throats
Feeling cramped and living in clutter and hating that you dont have a space of your own or even a minute to yourself? That can create stress and leave you feeling anxious and overwhelmed. And, it goes against the general principle of homeownership since your home is supposed to be your sanctuary Having some extra room to spread out and yard for the kids and dogs to play in can make a real difference in the way your family functions.
Ask yourself if "your quality of life is suffering," said Unpakt. "This category can include many things: your ever-growing pack of dogs or cats who are driving you crazy. Your cascading piles of fabrics that you use for quilting, but just cant keep organized in your current space. The lack of a guest room means that when family visits, youre stuck on the couch. Whatever it might be, if your quality of life has taken a nosedive because your house is too small, well, the answer is pretty clear."
The neighborhood is changingand not for the better
One of the reasons you may want to start looking at a new house is because your neighborhood is starting to evolve. Maybe there are new restaurants and bars that have attracted a different crowd or plans for a huge mixed-use project that, while great for the economic potential in the area, could mean more traffic than you want in your quiet little town. Even something like a change in the flight patterns from the local airport can get you thinking about that next home.
Remodeling is price prohibitive
A good real estate agent should be able to give you an idea of what necessary or wanted renovations would cost to your existing home. It could be that the amount of work you would need to do on your home to get it where you want it - or get it into tip-top shape for a sale - is beyond what you want to spend. In that case, it might make better financial sense to make small improvements, put it up for sale, and put your money into a new home that better suits your needs.
You dont want to over-improve for the neighborhood
The other important factor to consider when deciding whether to move or improve your home is how the redone home would sit in your neighborhood. You dont want to run the risk of doing a bunch of expensive renovations only to have the home sit on the market because its overdone and considered overpriced.
"Weighing against renovation is the risk youll over-improve your home comparedwith others on the block," said Bankrate. "When you are in a neighborhood that has starter homes and smaller homes, adding a large addition or doing an extensive renovation may not yield the return one would expect."
Everyone else has moved on
So, your kids were young and bicycles and basketball nets lined the street when you first fell in love with your home. At the time, it was everything you were looking for. But now, so many of those families have moved on, and the lively street you loved has turned rather sleepy. If youre still holding on to the memories of what your neighborhood once was, maybe its time to find one that better meets your life>Youve crunched the numbers
Presumably, a move-up home is going to be more expensive. Beyond the equity you can use to make the purchase doable, you have to consider the monthly expenses, too. "Its not just the sticker price on the house; its thelong-term costs associated with it," said Realtor.com. "When you go up in square footage, you get higher property taxes, higher utilities, and more maintenance." And acquiring more rooms means shelling out for more furniture, too.
You can make sure you can afford a move-up home without becoming "house poor" by "using onlineaffordability calculatorsto figure out how far you can stretch your dollar.
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