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New Year's Resolutions For Your Champaign IL Home

by Rose Price

New Year’s Resolutions for your home!  We all know that sticking to our resolutions is harder than we expect, but don’t let your home suffer.  Here are the most popular Home related resolutions and how to get them done!  Make this year the year you stick to and achieve all of your home resolutions. Best of all, these improvements will add great value to your Home.    

1. Rebuild the Deck

Are your decks looking old and grey?  Even more so than looking bad, old decks can be unsafe.  Even FEMA has warned about these dangers; especially poorly flashed decks, which can fall off of homes and cause bodily injury to you, your family or guests. Make needed repairs now.  

We recommend an annual 6-point deck check to identify problems you should address so that accidents don't occur. 

 

2. Seal Drafts

Homes get cold in the winter, especially if you have an older home, but newer ones have drafty area's as well.  However, there are simple ways to reduce these chilly home temps.  Cold air is very likely leaking in from several recognizable areas around your house (windows, walls, outlets).

Give yourself an energy audit. It’ll cost around $400 to have a professional come in, or you can do it yourself (see the video below).  The pros will provide you with a report detailing your home's draft problems, but will also include a cost-effective solution.

If your windows are in rough shape, but the frames are sound, then you can replace your windows (install high-efficiency replacement windows) for around $500-$600/piece. You’ll most likely want a professional to install these.

 

Lastly, consider Blown-in Insulation for your walls, which fills the stud bays of exterior walls with heat-retaining cellulose material.

3. Update Your Kitchen Cabinets

Tired, outdated kitchen cabinets?  Kitchen renovations are the most expensive home-improvement projects. But you can add value to your home with these simple budget kitchen-cabinet upgrades. Instead of spending a minimal $5,000 on new cabinets, you can save big and reface the ones you have for under $1,000. Other money-saving options include painting your cabinets and, swapping out your cabinet pulls and hinges for new ones.

 

4. Add Curb Appeal

Curb appeal can add 10%-30% more value to your home!! Bet you weren't counting on that!  Here are some of the projects to look at to add curb appeal: 

Install Storm Windows

Paint Your Exterior

Privacy in the yard

Motions Detecting Lighting

Lamp Posts

 

5. Upgrade the Walkway

If you are thinking of re-routing your walkway, there are several options.  Brick & Gravel can be done in a single weekend, whereas concrete is a little more involved but offers a longer lifespan. You can also add special features like a pond at the end of a walk-way or small flower garden. 

6. Go Green On Top

Green Roofs aren't that prevalent here in the Fox Valley, but many area's have gone more to the eco-friendliness of them. Here are the reason some people are trending toward the "Green Roof" Movement:   

They reduce storm runoff

Absorb pollutants, 

give plants more room to grow, 

Best of all… They lower heating and cooling bills by providing insulation. 

If your dream green roof is too complex to install, check out development kits.  Green roofing is getting easier every day

7. Basement Makeover

Just do it!  Whatever your dream basement is, do it!  This is the year.  Whether you want to make it into a chic Mom's relaxing area, man cave for Dad & the guys, a game room for the kids, or an Exercise Room to accomplish your New Year's Resolutions....This is the year to Finish your Basement and Add Value to your Home!  

8. Paint Your Interior

This is one of the easiest on the list.  Start with one room and build momentum until every room is freshly painted.  It will do wonders for your home. 

1. First, select the proper hues with the help of a color wheel. 

2. Then, get the right equipment for the job.

3. Brush up on the best painting techniques from the pros…hem hem, YouTube!

4. Finally, paint the rooms!

 

9. Get The Little Things Done

There are always a handful of small repairs and the list grows throughout the year, becoming more and more frustrating.  Just fix this stuff.  Now, do these first.  They are simple things and you will feel a lot better when you check these things off your list.  Then, let this momentum continue through the rest of your changes. 

1. Fixing your outlets, or changing over to new ones.

2. Patching holes in walls where pictures, shelves or other wall hangings used to be.

 3. Recaulking Bathroom & Kitchen Sinks and Showers.

Good luck to you and all of your New Year’s projects.  If you are fixing up your home to put it on the market, give Champaignrose a call!  

ORGANIZATION! A word that haunts many homeowners, especially active families; when football cleats, hockey sticks, and various balls of shapes and sizes start invading your living room, But family and organization don't have to be contradictions.  Here are some simple home organization tips to help stay organized during your child's season.  The key here is variety and adaptability.  All of these storage tips can be easily modified, allowing you to adapt to your child's growing needs.  

Bungee Storage

Maybe the easiest way to stay organized in places like your garage, and still making it easy for the kids to grab balls or equipment in a hurry when they're late for practice is this phenomenal Bungee Storage system!  A Super easy & simple DIY project, but a great garage organizer too! 

Garage Cubbies

One of the keys to an organized garage is shelving!  Lots and lots of shelving.  So, nothing beats a great cubbie system.  You can make it even more convenient by using various sized cubbies; storing balls, bikes, helmets, bags, anything your little heart desires! 

Hockey Pad Drying Rack

One of my favorites!  This little guy is a life saver for all the hockey moms out there.  If you have a hockey player living in your home, you know that you'd rather keep that stuff outside, due to the stench it will leave in your home for days after every practice & game.  What's worse, is that if equipment doesn't dry completely, bacteria will grow on your child's pads, making them smell worse and lead to rashes and other health risks.  Not to worry, the problem has been solved.  Invest in a rack drying system!  If you're a really crafty parent,  these can easily be made cheaply with some PVC and some ingenuity.  Here's a guide to a DYI Drying Rack.

Peg Board Rack

The thing about child athletes is...they grow and so do their interests.  After a few seasons, you almost have enough equipment to open your own used sports store.  The answer to this is simple, a peg board!  It can constantly adapt to your child's growing arsenal of balls and equipment and coincidentally it's another easy DIY project.  DIY Pegboard.

Rollable Bins

For equipment used most frequently this Rollable Storage Bin is the perfect solution. It allows you to organize equipment by sport (soccer, tennis, baseball, etc.) and because it is on wheels, you can move it whenever necessary.  The Container Store has a few great options.

Hopefully this list helps lower the stresses of a busy fall sports season, allowing you to put all your effort into cheering on your little athlete!

For more Home Improvement & Organizational tips checkout my Facebook Page & my website. If you're interested in Real Estate in the Champaign/Urbana area, please give me a call!  I'd be happy to show you around our fantastic community or meet you and answer any questions you may have.

Get Your Champaign IL Home Ready For Fall

by Rose Price

It may seem like summer has just ended, but before we know it, the blustery winds and  cooler temperatures of Fall will be upon us. Now is the best time to prepare your home for the change of seasons, before the actual change begins. Just think of the cash you will save by taking care of the weatherizing of your home now. Here are a few area's to check out on your home:

Raise the Roof

Few home problems are more frustrating than a leaky roof, as it’s often hard to find the exact source of the problem.  So, taking care of these things before the rain and snow begin is a good idea. 

Inspect your roof from top to bottom, searching for missing or damaged shingles. Check shingles for cracks and other damage. Look for damage to metal flashing around vents and chimneys. Look in your gutters. If you find large granules, it could be a sign that you are losing your roof’s coating. Finally, make sure your gutters are flowing freely of any type of debris; leaves, sticks, sludge from rains and storms throughout the summer months.

Get your mind IN the Gutter

The drainage system on your roof is extremely important, as it diverts thousands of gallons of water from your home annually, protecting your foundation and walls. Obviously you want to keep these drains flowing smoothly.  Clogged gutters lead to basement flooding and other hard to detect damage.  They are not immune from rust and erosion, so you need to keep them cleaned out, especially BEFORE the Fall leaves start falling into them. Once they have been cleaned, we'd recommend using a mesh guard over the top to protect them from future debris, and it makes keeping them clean  & your job, a whole lot easier!  

Hunt your Home for Drafts

Many homes have air leaks around windows and doors, which can account for an increase of  10% in your energy bill (according to the U.S. Department of Energy).  So, check for gaps in caulk and weather stripping.  If you don’t have weather stripping…you’re missing out!  Seriously, weather-stripping is by far the most cost-effective way to control heating and cooling costs. It will reduce drafts and keep your home comfy cozy year round.  However, this stuff can deteriorate over time, so even if you already used it, you want to inspect it annually.  

There are a couple easy techniques for checking your stripping:

  • 1) Close your door or window on a strip of paper…if the paper slides up and down easily, you have some work to do.
  • 2) Light a candle and hold it near the frame of the closed door or window…if you find the flame flickers at any point near the frame…you have a leak!

You’ll also want to check your caulking, especially near entry points for cables.  This can also deteriorate over time, so look for area's you may have to re-caulk.  

Brrr.....It's Getting Chilly!

Winter is coming, and we all must protect our pipes or deal with a very messy & expensive aftermath! Close any shut-off valves to outdoor faucets…then drain the water line, by opening the valve outside.  

*If you don't have shut-off valves or your faucets are not "freeze-proof “, you may benefit from styrofoam faucet covers sold at home centers.

In-ground irrigation systems should come with instructions from the manufacturer on how to freeze proof. 

Where’s your Filter?

Furnace filters trap dust that would otherwise be deposited around your home.  Clogged filters also make it harder to keep your home at a comfortable temperature, and can seriously increase your utility bills. It’s easy to manage by a simple monthly cleaning to keep the filters breathing free and clear.

Disposable filters can be vacuumed once before replacement. Foam filters can also be vacuumed but these don't need to be replaced unless they are damaged. Use a soft brush on a vacuum cleaner. If the filter is metal or electrostatic, remove and wash it with a firm water spray.  Boom, your filter is good as new.

Professional Help

It's a good idea to have your Heating System inspected by a professional once a year. People often wait until the last minute, so beat the rush and schedule this for the early fall, before the heating season even begins.  Here are some of the signs that your Heating Systems isn't functioning properly:    

  • Noisy belts Weird screeches or whines may signal that belts connected to the blower motor are worn or damaged.
  • Poor performance. A heating system that doesn't seem to work as well as it used to could mean a lot of different problems. Your heating ducts could be blocked, the burners might be misadjusted or the blower motor could be on its way out.  But before you panic, check that the filter is clean.   
  • Erratic behavior. This could be caused by a faulty thermostat.

Come on Baby Light your Fire

Even if you rarely use your fireplace, you should check it annually for damage. 

Inspect your flue for creosote. Creosote is a flammable by-product of burning wood, so if it accumulates in your chimney, you could be victim to a devastating fire. Have your chimney inspected annually for creosote buildup. If you use a fireplace frequently, then have the flue inspected after each cord of wood burned.

The best option is to have your entire chimney system inspected by a chimney sweep. Once you know what to look for, you can perform the inspection by shining a bright flashlight up the flue, looking for any deposits approaching 1/8 inch thick, though the actual cleaning of these deposits should be performed by a professional.  

  • Look for flue blockages. Birds love to nest at the top of an unprotected flue. A chimney cap is an easy way to prevent this.  If you don't have a cap, just take a look up the flu to be sure.
  • Exercise the damper. The damper is the metal plate that opens and closes the flu just above the firebox. Test the open and closed positions to ensure that it is working properly.
  • Check for damage. Make certain that the flue cap is in place. Inspect brick chimneys for loose or broken points. If access is a problem try using binoculars.

Keep your Humidifier Happy 

Really dry winter air is bad for your health, but did you know it can make fine wood crack easier? You and your home will feel more comfortable if you keep your Central Humidifier running properly. 

  • Inspect the plates or pads. You can clean them with laundry detergent. You should also rinse and scrape off mineral deposits (use a wire brush or steel wool). 

Gassy 

Anything involving gas is a huge safety issue.  Heaters that are not maintained properly can spew poisons into the air of your home, or at least it may be costing you more to operate. Have a professional check these devices annually. 

Smoke and CO Detectors 

Replace batteries in all of your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors. Then vacuum them with a soft brush attachment. Test the detectors by pressing the test button or holding a smoke source (like a blown-out candle) near the unit. If you haven't already, install a smoke detector on every floor of your home, including the basement.

Fire Extinguishers 

You’d be surprised how many homes don’t have a fire extinguisher.  Every home should have at least one fire extinguisher rated for all fire types (look for an A-B-C rating on the label). Keep one near the kitchen;  though having one per floor isn't a bad idea. Check the indicators on the pressure gauge to make sure the extinguisher is charged. Make sure the lock pin is intact and in place, and then make sure the discharge nozzle is not clogged.  

  • Fire Extinguishers should be replaced every 5 Years.
  • With every replacement, use a permanent marker to mark the date clearly on the new unit

​​For more Homeowner Tips and Fall Maintenance, visit my website and Facebook page. If you're looking to Buy or Sell a home in the Champaign/Urbana IL area in the fantastic Fall season, give me a call or stop in our office. You can contact me anytime at 217-202-8843 or view local homes at this link: Homes for Sale in Champaign IL.

Have a POWERFUL day!

DIY Painting: Ceilings and Walls

by Rose Price

Previously, we’ve talked about how a new coat of a paint is vital when you’re planning to sell your home. But, you may decide that the expense of hiring a professional painter is too much when you can do most, if not all, of the work  yourself.  In the first part of this series, we looked at the steps you need to take before you dip a brush into a can of paint. Today, we’re going to get to work painting.

The first stage of paint is treating the surface with a coat of primer. The primer protects the surface, gives the paint something to adhere to and helps prevent stains. The guidelines below work for both the primer and paint.

Wait! Put the brush down for a second. You’ve moved the furniture out of the room, or pulled it away from the walls. You need to use drop cloths or tarps to cover the flooring and any furniture still in the room. Murphy’s law says if you leave something unprotected, it will wind up with paint drops on it. Anywhere on the walls and along the edges of a ceiling where you don’t want paint splatters needs to be covered with strips of painters tape. Also, go ahead and make sure you have cleaning supplies on-hand just in case.

Okay, let’s get to work. If you’re going to paint the ceiling, and that’s usually a good idea, do that first.  Again, these guidelines work for both the ceilings and the walls. The first steps here is to use a trim brush to outline the edges of the ceiling. You’ll want a border about three inches wide. When that’s done, move on to the roller and the rest of the surface.

You’re going to pour the out the paint into a roller pan. Make sure you don’t overfill the pan: Fill it so they paint just touches the grated part of the pan.  Depending on where you’re painting, you may need to work on a ladder or with an extension pole. Dampen the roller with water for latex paint or paint thinner for oil paints. Coat the brush completely with paint, and then roll it against the grate to distribute it and squeeze out and excess.

Using a zig-zag motion, cover an area three to four feet square. Then roll over the same area in straight lines. Make sure to overlay the edges of previously painted areas to reduce visible lines when the paint is dry.  Once you’ve completely covered the surface you’re working on, move to another area and let the first dry.

You’ll want to let the painted surfaces dry before you apply a second coat, which will ensure the paint isn’t too thin or missing in places. Don’t remove your drop cloths or tape until you’re sure there aren’t any spots that need touch-ups.

The next part of your painting project is to tackle the door frames, window frames and molding. We’ll talk about that and cleaning up in an upcoming blog post. So for now, get to work on your walls. That way, when you call me to help you sell your home, we’ll already be ahead of the competition!

Rose Price, CIPS, CRP
Prudential Landmark Real Estate
ChampaignRose.com

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