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October
4

Home Improvement: How to Prioritize All Your Projects

Home Improvement

Do you feel overwhelmed at the idea of tackling home improvement projects? If you're like most homeowners, you can just walk through your home and see so many tasks awaiting your elbow grease. If you're thinking of listing your home among Sarasota homes for sale, you may want to get a handle on prioritizing projects.

One of the first steps is to decide how you want to categorize your repairs and renovations. You might jot down categories such as these, and then under each one, list projects that fall under that heading:

  • Safety
  • Damage prevention
  • Cosmetic
  • Updating to increase home value

Here are some additional tips for organizing your thoughts and knowing which projects to tackle first.

  1. List Projects that Affect the Safety of the Home
    Safety should always come first. Maybe there are electrical problems that threaten the safety of the home's occupants. Do you need to install security lighting and cameras outside the home and replace failing door hardware and locks? Is the HVAC on its last leg, and does it need replacement, or will some repairs get it into good working order? In most of these cases, you will likely need to call an expert, so plan your budget accordingly. 

  2. List Projects that Prevent Damage to the Home
    After you worked on projects causing an immediate safety hazard, look for ones that prevent potential damage. Do rain gutters need repair to save the roofline? Are there severe drafts in winter because of structural problems or because the windows need weatherstripping and caulking? Is the plumbing or roof leaking? Do trees need to be cut back, so they don't damage the roof? Once again, some projects you can likely tackle while others will need an expert. 

  3. Consider Cosmetic Changes
    Once you prioritize the must-dos for safety's sake, assess the cosmetic changes you think you'll need to sell your home, or if you're not going anywhere, to make you feel better. Cracks in the wall? Do the bathrooms need new tile? Could some of the rooms use a new coat of paint? Tackle one room at a time. You'll feel encouraged to move to the next project once you complete the first one on your list. If you're able to do it yourself on some of these, so much the better. 

  4. Consider Projects that Increase Value
    Exercise caution when it comes to initiating renovations to increase home value. Some will do just that, and some won't. Some projects that will add value: bathroom remodels; kitchen renovations; replacing old appliances with matching, energy-efficient models; remodeled attic or basement; adding a deck; boosting curb appeal by cleaning, trimming, and planting some color in the front yard; and increasing energy efficiency by air sealing your home, adding insulation, and installing efficient windows. Projects that won't increase value include luxury upgrades, garage conversions, and swimming pools. Before starting one of these projects, consider whether you plan on being in your current home for a long time. 

Do you need advice on prioritizing your home improvement projects before listing your home among the Bradenton homes for sale? Our real estate agents can help. Contact us today.

February
15

Storage Solutions That'll Make Your Home a Standout

Storage Solutions for Home

Are you dreaming of having more storage space in your home? Make your life easier and boost your home's value with these clever storage ideas from our real estate agents

  1. Window Seats
    Cozy, inviting window seats add a visual appeal that's hard to resist, especially in Sarasota homes for sale that get lots of sunshine. As a bonus, the seating provides valuable storage space that can be used to hide items like blankets, pillows, or toys.

  2. Mudrooms 
    Mudrooms originated with farms in rural areas, but today they're a popular amenity in any type of house or neighborhood. These informal areas generally hold boots and outerwear, gardening equipment, and other items that are frequently used but hard to store. Home improvement sites have numerous ideas on turning a laundry room or entryway into a functional mudroom.

  3. Built-In Bookcases 
    Bookcases are the MVPs of home storage. They're practical, come in all kinds of styles, and can be used to hold a variety of items. Want more bang for your buck? Consider installing built-in bookcases, which have all the benefits of regular bookcases with the advantage of saving space. Think about how stunning a matching set of built-in bookcases will look flanking the fireplace!

  4. Backyard Sheds 
    Have your family's cars, tools, bikes, and lawnmowers outgrown the garage? Home improvement stores carry outdoor sheds in a wide range of sizes and prices to accommodate any budget. While the weather around Bradenton homes for sale is nearly perfect, these sheds are durable enough to withstand most conditions.

  5. Raised and Loft Beds 
    Underneath the bed is a classic, time-honored storage solution. Multiply the open space to a greater degree with loft beds. If you're one of the people working from home, this is a great way to make room for a desk. It's also a nice idea for kids who love sleeping high up.

  6. Above Doorways
    Design experts frequently suggest using vertical space to expand storage options. The space over doorways is often overlooked, literally and figuratively. Why not put up some shelving in these otherwise vacant spots? In addition to serving as storage, these shelves can hold decorative items that bring a touch of whimsy to a room.

  7. Appliance Lifts
    Stand mixers, food processors, and other large appliances take up a lot of real estate on a kitchen counter. Appliance lifts keep these machines out of sight until you're ready to use them when they can be raised up to countertop height. The same principle is behind slide-out racks that organize pots and pans for easy accessibility.

  8. Beneath a Staircase 
    Underneath the stairs is another normally unused area that offers great potential for storage. Despite the irregular shape, the generous space allows for larger items. You can also incorporate shelving, cabinets, and other organizing aids. 

  9. Cabinets
    This may not sound like a particularly original idea, but kitchens and bathrooms sometimes have faux cabinets that look pretty but are a total waste otherwise. Functional cabinets look just as attractive while making good use of valuable space. 

  10. Laundry Pedestals
    Washer and dryer pedestals are a true win-win. You get additional storage in an area where space is at a premium, plus laundry time creates less stress on your back.

Looking for more effective tips to increase the value of your home and make it more inviting to buyers? Contact us at Wagner Realty to learn more. 

October
5

National Fire Prevention Week: Tips for Home Fire Prevention

Home Fire Prevention

If you're currently a homeowner or are planning to purchase one of these Bradenton homes for sale, familiarizing yourself with basic fire prevention tips is one of the most important things you can do to protect your assets. While no one wants to think about losing their home to a fire, knowledge is power when it comes to preventing a disaster. With National Fire Prevention Week starting Sunday, October 4th, it's a great time to review some common fire prevention strategies. Our real estate agents pulled together a quick list of tips to review:

  1. Test Your Smoke Alarms Regularly
    Ensuring your smoke alarms are in working order is arguably the most important fire safety tip. Functioning smoke alarms can alert you and your family to potential danger before it's too late. Testing your smoke alarms is easy -- simply press and hold the button until you hear a loud sound. If you don't hear a sound, or if the sound is weak, replace your batteries right away. Make sure to test each of your home's smoke alarms every month.
  2. Keep Your Dryer Clean
    The most common cause of a dryer fire is a failure to clean it. Dryer lint is extremely combustible, so you must remember to clean it every time you put in a new load of laundry. Otherwise, it could continue to build-up until it reaches the heating element.
  3. Keep Cords in Working Condition
    Frayed or chewed cords can be a fire hazard, so be sure to check the cords of all appliances before plugging them in. Never plug an appliance into an extension cord and avoid running any cords under carpet or rugs, as this could cause them to overheat.
  4. Don't Forget About Candles
    Candles are one of the leading causes of house fires year after year. Never leave a room or fall asleep with a candle burning unattended. Also, be sure not to place them on uneven surfaces and keep them far away from flammable materials such as clothing or blankets.
  5. Invest in a Fire Extinguisher
    If a fire does occur, a fire extinguisher is your best bet at putting it out. It's usually a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher in every room with a significant fire risk. If you're considering one of these Sarasota homes for sale, make sure to purchase an adequate number of fire extinguishers before moving in. Also, make sure everyone in the house knows the proper way to handle and use a fire extinguisher.
  6. Cook With Caution
    If you're cooking, always remain in the kitchen while the oven, stove, fryer, or grill are on. If you have to leave, be sure to turn your cooking unit off, or at least reduce the heat. After you're done cooking, make sure to remove any leftover food particles from the oven or stove, as they could potentially catch fire the next time you cook.
  7. Grill Safely
    Everyone loves to grill, but grills can create a fire risk. Always place your grill well away from your home, be sure you keep the grill clean, and never leave your grill unattended. Have baking soda on hand to control a grease fire and a fire extinguisher nearby for other fires. If you don't have a fire extinguisher, keep a bucket of sand next to the grill. Never use water to put out a grease fire.

By taking the necessary precautions and educating yourself on fire safety, you can minimize risk and prevent loss from fire. For more tips on fire prevention, visit www.firepreventionweek.org.

May
22

Pro Tips to Organize Your Home

Organize Your Home

Spring cleaning isn't something we all look forward to, but while we're sticking close to home, this is an excellent opportunity to organize and clean house. To make it more manageable, we advise creating a five-day plan, focusing on a section of the house each day. Set some goals, write them down and check them off. Here are some suggestions that you can adapt as needed.

  1. Monday -- Clean appliances and cabinets under sinks.
    Let's get some of the most challenging tasks done first. Start by deep cleaning your kitchen appliances until they sparkle, but first remember to check cleaning recommendations for appliance surfaces, particularly stainless steel. Clean out cabinets under bathroom and kitchen sinks, throwing away whatever you no longer use, disposing of any cleaning products according to local regulations. Vacuum the coils under your refrigerator to keep it running efficiently.
  2. Tuesday -- Clean closets, cupboards and the pantry.
    This is another task you may be putting off, but don't,  in fact, be merciless. Go through clothes, shoes, toys, household items, and if you haven't worn or used something in a year, it's time to say goodbye to it. If possible, box and save these items to donate them to charity. Throw away out-of-date food in the pantry. Clean shelves and redo shelf paper if you use it. 
  3. Wednesday -- Perform outdoor tasks.
    Sweep the sidewalks, porch, and patio. Make your own glass cleaner with 2 cups of water (distilled or filtered is best so it doesn't leave residue), 2 tablespoons vinegar and 10 drops essential oil of choice to cut the vinegar smell) and clean exterior windows and door glass, light fixtures, and patio furniture. Take a look around the HVAC condenser and trim back bushes so the unit can maintain proper airflow. Clear grass, leaves, and weeds away from the base of the unit.
  4. Thursday -- Clean interior glass.
    Grab an old t-shirt (they're pretty much lint-free), and continuing your window cleaning from the inside, along with door glass, and mirrors. Work top to bottom, wiping the water away with a squeegee to avoid streaks.
  5. Friday – Clean the garage.
    Start by separating everything you absolutely need from items you can, want or should donate, sell or throw away. If you don't have shelving, cabinets or other types of storage units, now is a good time to consider them. Everything needs to have a place to avoid piles of clutter.
  6. Saturday – Relax and take the day off.
    Time for a break! If you are thinking of moving, we recommend taking a virtual tour of Bradenton homes for sale and Sarasota homes for sale to see what's available in the area, and of course our real estate agents are happy to help. Contact us today!
March
2

8 Tips for Cleaning Your Dryer Vent

8 Tips for Cleaning Your Dryer Vent

Cleaning your dryer vent keeps your dryer working most efficiently and helps eliminate the fire hazard that comes with dirty vents. Learn how to keep your dryer running properly, with our eight tips for cleaning your dryer vent.

  1. Clean Vents Every 6 to 12 Months
    For most newer dryers, you'll want to clean your vents every 6 to 12 months. If your dryer is older or sees unusually heavy use, then you may need to clean the vents more often. It's also a good idea to check the vent any time that the dryer doesn't seem to be drying as quickly as it normally does.
  2. Start By Turning Off and Unplugging Your Dryer
    The first step in cleaning vents is making sure your dryer is turned off and unplugged. 
  3. Move The Dryer Away from Wall to Access and Remove The Vent Clamp
    Once your dryer is turned off, move it away from the wall to gain access to the vent. Before you clean the vent, you'll need to remove the vent clamp. Depending on the design, you may need a screwdriver to remove the clamp.
  4. Clear Clogs Close to The Interior Vent
    With the vent clamp removed, start by clearing out any clogs and debris you can reach with your hands. Depending on how long it's been since you've cleaned the vents, there may be substantial build-up to remove. Get rid of as much as possible with your hands before moving on to the next step.
  5. Use a Vacuum for Deep Cleaning
    You won't be able to reach everything with your hands, so you'll also want to have a vacuum handy to clean deeper inside the vent. Try to remove as much debris as possible with a vacuum attachment.
  6. Remove Clogs and Obstructions from Exterior Vent
    After the indoor vent is clean, the final step before reattaching your dryer is cleaning the outdoor vent, repeating the same process as you did to clean indoors. 
  7. Reattach Indoor Vent
    With your vents clean, all that's left is putting things back together. Start by reattaching the indoor dryer vent, before you move your dryer back into place.
  8. Plug Dryer In, Turn on and Enjoy
    Now plug your dryer in, turn it on, and enjoy the efficiency that comes with clean dryer vents. Mark your calendar for another cleaning in six months.

Cleaning your dryer vent is a home improvement project that doesn't require a huge investment of time, and the results are more than worth the effort. Stay on top of dryer maintenance once or twice per year, and you can get more mileage out of one of the most-used appliances in any home.

February
22

10 Expensive Home Maintenance Mistakes to Avoid

10 Expensive Mistakes to Avoid in Your Home

For most of us, our home is our biggest investment. While we do our best to keep it in top shape, it's easy to make small mistakes that can end up costing us big time. This quick read can save you money in the long run. Remember to:

  1. Clean Out Your Air Ducts
    Cleaning out your air ducts is a task that's easy to forget about, but dirt and debris build-up can cause real problems. Eventually, dirty ducts will start to restrict airflow and make your HAVC system work less efficiently. After a while, this can shorten the life expectancy of your system. 
  2. Pay Attention to Leaking Faucets
    That dripping faucet is more than just annoying. Did you know that even one drip a minute can waste up to 34 gallons a year? Not only is this terrible for the environment, but it will raise your water bill. Something as simple as a washer can solve this quickly and easily. 
  3. Hone Your DIY Skills
    Sure, there are some things that you should leave to the pros, but learning some basic DIY skills will help you save a ton of money when it comes to home repairs and upgrades. YouTube videos are an excellent resource for minor repairs.
  4. Research Before Taking on Home Improvement Projects
    Sure, it might seem like a great idea to add a cheetah-print carpet in your closet or build a cat-patio in your back yard, but an impractical home improvement could end up hurting your resale value.  If there's something you really want and you plan to stay in your home for a long time, this might not matter to you, but it's always smart to stop and think these things through before you make a commitment. 
  5. Avoid Over-Watering Your Lawn
    A lush, green lawn is every homeowner's dream, but when it comes to watering, more isn't always better. In Florida, watering needs change with the seasons Instead of relying on your automatic sprinkler, check in with our local Cooperative Extension for advice on proper watering to ensure you aren't wasting water and money. 
  6. Check Your Roof
    It's important to have your roof and gutters checked at least once a year so that you catch small problems before they get big. 
  7. Control the Temperature
    While many newer homes already have programmable thermostats, older homes often do not. Heating or cooling an empty house is just a waste - with a programmable thermostat you'll quickly make your money back in the form of savings on your energy bill. 
  8. Stop Using Traditional Light Bulbs
    Traditional light bulbs suck up energy and cost you money. Change these out for LED bulbs, and you'll notice a change almost immediately. 
  9. Keep an Eye on Your Home's Foundation
    Watch for signs of damage, like mold on the outside of the house, insects inside, or noticeable cracks. If any of these red flags arise, have the foundation looked at right away. 
  10. Consider Fast-Tracking Your Mortgage Repayment
    The longer it takes you to pay off your mortgage, the more you'll pay in interest fees. Make extra payments when you can, and you can shave thousands of dollars and several years off your repayment plan! 

You can protect your home by creating an annual home maintenance checklist to remind yourself to stay on track with home maintenance.

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