In addition to providing shelter and comfort, our home is often our single greatest asset. And it’s important that we protect that precious investment. Most homeowners realize the importance of homeowners insurance in safeguarding the value of a home. However, what they may not know is that about two-thirds of all homeowners are under-insured. According to a national survey, the average homeowner has enough insurance to rebuild only about 80% of his or her house.
What a standard homeowners policy covers
A standard homeowner’s insurance policy typically covers your home, your belongings, injury or property damage to others, and living expenses if you are unable to live in your home temporarily because of an insured disaster.
The policy likely pays to repair or rebuild your home if it is damaged or destroyed by disasters, such as fire or lighting. Your belongings, such as furniture and clothing, are also insured against these types of disasters, as well as theft. Some risks, such as flooding or acts of war, are routinely excluded from homeowner policies.
Other coverage in a standard homeowner’s policy typically includes the legal costs for injury or property damage that you or family members, including your pets, cause to other people. For example, if someone is injured on your property and decides to sue, the insurance would cover the cost of defending you in court and any damages you may have to pay. Policies also provide medical coverage in the event someone other than your family is injured in your home.
If your home is seriously damaged and needs to be rebuilt, a standard policy will usually cover hotel bills, restaurant meals and other living expenses incurred while you are temporarily relocated.
How much insurance do you need?
Homeowners should review their policy each year to make sure they have sufficient coverage for their home. The three questions to ask yourself are:
· Do I have enough insurance to protect my assets?
· Do I have enough insurance to rebuild my home?
· Do I have enough insurance to replace all my possessions?
Here’s some more information that will help you determine how much insurance is enough to meet your needs and ensure that your home will be sufficiently protected.
Protect your assets
Make sure you have enough liability insurance to protect your assets in case of a lawsuit due to injury or property damage. Most homeowner’s insurance policies provide a minimum of $100,000 worth of liability coverage. With the increasingly higher costs of litigation and monetary compensation, many homeowners now purchase $300,000 or more in liability protection. If that sounds like a lot, consider that the average dog bite claim is about $20,000. Talk with your insurance agent about the best coverage for your situation.
Rebuild your home
You need enough insurance to finance the cost of rebuilding your home at current construction costs, which vary by area. Don’t confuse the amount of coverage you need with the market value of your home. You’re not insuring the land your home is built on, which makes up a significant portion of the overall value of your property. In pricey markets such as San Francisco, land costs account for over 75 percent of a home’s value.
The average policy is designed to cover the cost of rebuilding your home using today’s standard building materials and techniques. If you have an unusual, historical or custom-built home, you may want to contact a specialty insurer to ensure that you have sufficient coverage to replicate any special architectural elements. Those with older homes should consider additions to the policy that pay the cost of rebuilding their home to meet new building codes.
Finally, if you’ve done any recent remodeling, make sure your insurance reflects the increased value of your home.
Remember that a standard policy does not pay for damage caused by a flood or earthquake. Special coverage is needed to protect against these incidents. Your insurance company can let you know if your area is flood or earthquake prone. The cost of coverage depends on your home’s location and corresponding risk.
Replacing your valuables
If something happens to your home, chances are the things inside will be damaged or destroyed as well. Your coverage depends on the type of policy you have. A cost value policy pays the cost to replace your belongings minus depreciation. A replacement cost policy reimburses you for the cost to replace the item.
There are limits on the losses that can be claimed for expensive items, such as artwork, jewelry, and collectables. You can get additional coverage for these types of items by purchasing supplemental premiums.
To determine if you have enough insurance, you need to have a good handle on the value of your personal items. Create a detailed home inventory file that keeps track of the items in your home and the cost to replace them.
Create a home inventory file
It takes time to inventory your possessions, but it’s time well spent. The little bit of extra preparation can also keep your mind at ease. The best method for creating a home inventory list is to go through each room of your home and individually record the items of significant value. Simple inventory lists are available online. You can also sweep through each room with a video or digital camera and document each of your belongings. Your home inventory file should include the following items:
· Item description and quantity
· Manufacturer or brand name
· Serial number or model number
· Where the item was purchased
· Receipt or other proof of purchase \Photocopies of any appraisals, along with the name and address of the appraiser
· Date of purchase (or age)
· Current value
· Replacement cost
Pay special attention to highly valuable items such as electronics, artwork, jewelry, and collectibles.
Storing your home inventory list
Make sure your inventory list and images will be safe incase your home is damaged or destroyed. Store them in a safe deposit box, at the home of a friend or relative, or on an online Web storage site. Some insurance companies provide online storage for digital files. (Storing them on your home computer does you no good if your computer is stolen or damaged). Once you have an inventory file set up, be sure to update it as you make new purchases.
We invest a lot in our homes, so it’s important we take the necessary measures to safeguard it against financial and emotional loss in the wake of a disaster.
Are you fascinated about downsizing? Do you love small places? Does a simple and serene ambiance sound like music to your ears? Then hop on the bandwagon and get yourself a ‘tiny house’ because we all know the best things come in small packages.
What’s a tiny house? Tiny houses have recently hit the real estate market by storm. The to-go models typically range from 100-175 square feet, while the larger, more permanent cottage styles are usually around 250 to 500 square feet. With a multitude of floor plan choices that include full kitchens and bathrooms, heating, AC, and a reasonable range of prices, a tiny house couldn’t be more practical.
What tiny house are you? The best part about tiny homes is that you get to pick whichever one compliments your lifestyle and needs the most. Are you more of a beach house or cabin in the woods type of person? What about a pool house for your backyard or an art or yoga studio? Or maybe you’re guilty of always wishing there was somewhere else for your mother-in-law to stay while she’s in town. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something less permanent, then a to-go model might be more your speed. You can grab your house whenever you are feeling an itch of wanderlust and head out on the open road. You can park it near the coast or somewhere concealed for a relaxing and quiet weekend. If being on the water is more your thing, there are even tiny floating homes.
Who owns one? The small, but rapidly growing number of tiny house homeowners can be found all over the country. People are shedding their square footage and downsizing from coast to coast. In 2013, the tiny home movement saw 2,600 residents, while 2014 currently has about 4,000 residents and growing. People are joining the tiny house movement for various reasons. Some want to downsize due to environmental or financial concerns, others are looking for more time and freedom in their lives. Having tiny homes encourages people to live beyond their own walls and spend more time in the outdoors and their community. Tiny homes have redefined the American dream by promoting quality over quantity.
If you think you might want a tiny house as your primary home, the only sacrifice is space; the gains however, are countless. Tiny homes come in all shapes and sizes and can be modern, minimal, or luxurious. These tiny homes are a fun and exciting endeavor to which you can easily add your own flavor. And because you can get a prefab tiny home delivered right to your door, the home buying process is as simple as the homes themselves.
If you want to check out more house styles you can visit our Tiny House page on Pinterest.
The life span of your household components
Nothing in life lasts forever – and the same can be said for your home. From the roof to the furnace, every component of your home has a life span, so it’s a good idea to know approximately how many years of service you can expect from them. This information can help when buying or selling your home, budgeting for improvements, and deciding between repairing or replacing when problems arise.
According to a National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) study, the average life expectancy of some home components has decreased over the past few decades. (This might explain why you’re on your third washing machine while Grandma still has the same indestructible model you remember from childhood.) But the good news is the life span of many other items has actually increased in recent years.
Here’s a look at the average life spans of some common home components (courtesy of NAHB).
Appliances. Of all home components, appliances have the widest variation in life spans. These are averages for all brands and models, and may represent the point which replacing is more cost-effective than repairing. Among major appliances, gas ranges have the longest life expectancy, at about 15 years. Electric ranges, standard-size refrigerators, and clothes dryers last about 13 years, while garbage disposals grind away for about 10 years. Dishwashers, microwave ovens, and mini-refrigerators can all be expected to last about nine years. For furnaces, expect a life span of about 15 years for electric, 18 for gas, and 20 for oil-burning models. Central air-conditioning systems generally beat the heat for 10 to 15 years.
Kitchen & Bath. Countertops of wood, tile, and natural stone will last a lifetime, while cultured marble will last about 20 years. The life span of laminate countertops depends greatly on use and can be 20 years or longer. Kitchen faucets generally last about 15 years. An enamel-coated steel sink will last five to 10 years; stainless will last at least 30 years; and slate, granite, soapstone, and copper should endure 100 years or longer. Toilets, on average, can serve at least 50 years (parts such as the flush assembly and seat will likely need replacing), and bathroom faucets tend to last about 20 years.
Flooring. Natural flooring materials provide longevity as well as beauty: Wood, marble, slate, and granite should all last 100 years or longer, and tile, 74 to 100 years. Laminate products will survive 15 to 25 years, linoleum about 25 years, and vinyl should endure for about 50 years. Carpet will last eight to 10 years on average, depending on use and maintenance.
Siding, Roofing, Windows. Brick siding normally lasts 100 years or longer, aluminum siding about 80 years, and stucco about 25 years. The life span of wood siding varies dramatically – anywhere from 10 to 100 years – depending on the climate and level of maintenance. For roofs, slate or tile will last about 50 years, wood shingles can endure 25 to 30 years, metal will last about 25 years, and asphalts got you covered for about 20 years. Unclad wood windows will last 30 years or longer, aluminum will last 15 to 20 years, and vinyl windows should keep their seals for 15 to 20 years.
Of course, none of these averages matter if you have a roof that was improperly installed or a dishwasher that was a lemon right off the assembly line. In these cases, early replacement may be the best choice. Conversely, many household components will last longer than you need them to, as we often replace fully functional items for cosmetic reasons, out of a desire for more modern features, or as a part of a quest to be more energy efficient.
Are extended warranties warranted?
Extended warranties, also known as service contracts or service agreements, are sold for all types of household items, from appliances to electronics. They cover service calls and repairs for a specified time beyond the manufacturer’s standard warranty. Essentially, warranty providers (manufacturers, retailers, and outside companies) are betting that a product will be problem-free in the first years of operation, while the consumer who purchases a warranty is betting against reliability.
Warranty providers make a lot of money on extended warranties, and Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports, advises against purchasing them. You will have to consider whether the cost is worth it to you; for some, it brings a much needed peace of mind when making such a large purchase. Also, consider if it the cost outweighs the value of the item; in some cases it may be less expensive to just replace a broken appliance than pay for insurance or a warranty.
What do those letters and acronyms mean at the end of your real estate agent’s name? We’re here to answer that question and explain why it might matter to you. Like other professionals, real estate agents have the ability to specialize in certain areas of the business by earning designations. Those acronyms signify that they have achieved a specific designation through extensive training and education. In simple terms, designations enable agents to increase their skills, proficiency, and knowledge in various real estate sectors. They can also provide agents with access to members-only marketing tools and resources which can be an added benefit to their clients.
So why should real estate designations matter to you? Depending on what your specific real estate needs are, certain designations might mean more to you than others. For example, if you are in need of a real estate agent who can help you or your loved ones transition to a senior living facility, you may want to work with a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES), because they are trained to understand the unique needs of seniors and their families in this type of situation. Or, perhaps you’re selling your LEED-certified home and you want an agent who specializes in marketing these types of properties, then you may want to work with a Certified Green Real Estate Professional (CG-REP).
The National Association of REALTORS® offers the largest number of professional designations, which are designed to provide real estate agents with specialized training in a variety of areas. Here is a list of those designations and how they benefit real estate consumers.
Accredited Staging Professional (ASP): By increasing a home’s appeal to a higher number of buyers, home staging is commonly considered one of the best ways to sell a property more swiftly and for more money. Agents with an ASP designation understand the art of home staging and use special marketing techniques to increase the market value of a home.
Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES): If you are considering retiring, downsizing or are trying to help an aging loved one transition to an assisted living facility, a SRES trained REALTOR is qualified to help support clients over the age of fifty with lifestyle transitions and major financial decisions. This includes knowing what to look for if you prefer to age in place, finding the resources to support a move from movers to financial advisors, and more.
NAR Green Designation (GREEN): If you are looking to buy or sell a LEED Certified home, a GREEN REALTOR will have the expertise to help you. They are trained in sustainable and earth-friendly building trends, energy efficiency, and more.
Accredited Buyers Representative (ABR): If you are a first time homebuyer you may want to find an ABR designated agent. They are specially trained to work with buyers through every step of the home-buyer process from mortgage to closing.
Accredited Land Consultant (ALC): Land experts have expert knowledge and experience in land auctioning, leasing, development, farm management, land investment analysis, and tax deferment. This type of designation is not needed for a general home purchase, but if you are looking at investment, development, or farming properties, an ALC can help.
Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM): Purchasing or leasing space for your business is different than finding a home for yourself or investment property. If you need a commercial space, a certified commercial agent can help you locate this type of property and negotiate the intricacies of the contracts.
Certified International Property Specialists (CIPS): International real estate can differ greatly from domestic transactions. If you are looking to purchase a home abroad, consider working with an agent who has their CIPS and specializes in international real estate. They can provide tools for understanding the international process, access to a global referral network, and additional international resources.
Certified Property Managers (CMP): Managing a rental property can be a complicated, time-consuming process. There are specific laws you have to follow, resident screenings, 24 hour maintenance issues, and more. A CMP is specially trained to manage your residential or commercial property on your behalf.
Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager (CRB): Managing a real estate business involves much more than overseeing an office with staff, marketing, and other resource needs. CRBs go through certification and extensive training for supervising a real estate brokerage, with essential business development and management requirements.
Certified Residential Specialist (CRS): The prestigious CRS designation is awarded to experienced REALTORS who have completed advanced professional training and demonstrated outstanding professional achievement in residential real estate. This designation signifies one of the highest levels of success a REALTOR can achieve.
Seller Representative Specialist (SRS): Sometimes referred to as a “listing agent”, there are agents who specialize in working specifically with sellers. These agents have special training in all areas of the home selling process, providing increased professional standards and marketing expertise.
Military Relocation Professional Certificate (MRP): If you are a military service member or are relocating on behalf of the military, an MRP is specifically trained to address your relocation needs. They can help you navigate through the financial process because they are aware of the benefits available to service members and can address the unique relocation needs of military clients.
Resort & Second-Home Property Specialist Certification (RSPS): If you have a destination property, consider working with a RSPS certified agent to manage the buying, selling, or management process. They have training specific to managing investment, retirement, resort, and vacation destination properties.
Short Sale & Foreclosure Certification (SFR®): Short sales are different than typical home sales because they deal directly with financial institutions. SRF certified agents are experienced at negotiating these types of transactions and are trained to work with finance, tax and legal professionals on behalf of distressed sellers.
Go here for a complete list of designations: http://www.realtor.org/designations-and-certifications
For more than 20 years, the benefits of staging a home have been well documented. Numerous studies show that staging helps sell a home faster and for a higher price. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, 88 percent of homebuyers start their search online, forming impressions within three seconds of viewing a listing. When a home is well staged, it photographs well and makes the kind of first impression that encourages buyers to take the next step.
Studies also indicate that buyers decide if they’re interested within the first 30 seconds of entering a home. Not only does home staging help to remove potential red flags that can turn buyers off, it helps them begin to imagine living there. Homes that are professionally staged look more “move-in ready” and that makes them far more appealing to potential buyers.
According to the Village Voice, staged homes sell in one-third less time than non-staged homes. Staged homes can also command higher prices than non-staged homes. Data compiled by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development indicate that staged homes sell for approximately 17 percent more than non-staged homes.
A measurable difference in time and money
In a study conducted by the Real Estate Staging Association in 2007, a group of vacant homes that had remained unsold for an average of 131 days were taken off the market, staged, and relisted. The newly staged properties sold, on average, in just 42 days, – which is approximately 68 percent less time on the market.
The study was repeated in 2011, in a more challenging market, and the numbers were even more dramatic. Vacant homes that were previously on the market for an average of 156 days as unstaged properties, when listed again as staged properties, sold after an average of 42 days—an average of 73 percent less time on the market.
Small investments, big potential returns
Staging is a powerful advantage when selling your home, but that’s not the only reason to do it. Staging uncovers problems that need to be addressed, repairs that need to be made, and upgrades that should be undertaken. For a relatively small investment of time and money, you can reap big returns. Staged properties are more inviting, and that inspires the kind of peace-of-mind that gets buyers to sign on the dotted line. In the age of social media, a well-staged home is a home that stands out, gets shared, and sticks in people’s minds.
What’s more, the investment in staging can bring a higher price. According to the National Association of REALTORS, the average staging investment is between one percent and three percent of the home’s asking price, and typically generates a return of eight to ten percent.
In short, less time on the market and higher selling prices make the small cost of staging your home a wise investment.
Interested in learning more? Contact your real estate agent for information about the value of staging and referrals for professional home stagers.
When you think of your home, it likely conjures up feelings of safety, shelter, and comfort. However, accidental injuries in the home are one of the leading causes of harm to children 14 and younger. By taking certain precautions, many of these accidents can be prevented.
While supervision is the best way to keep your children safe at home, you can’t watch them every second. Childproofing, to whatever degree you are comfortable, will go a long way toward keeping your littlest loved ones safe and healthy at home.
Here are some tips to get you started.
Many accidents happen with or around water.
If you have children at home, it’s advisable to adjust your water heater to no higher than 120 degrees to prevent scalding. Furthermore, you should never leave a small child unattended in a bath tub, even for a few seconds. And be sure to safely secure doors that lead to swimming pools and hot tubs, including pet doors. When cooking or boiling water, turn pot handles in, or better yet use the back burners, to prevent little hands from pulling them off the stove.
Household chemicals can be very harmful to children.
It’s important not to keep poisonous materials under the sink, even if you have a cabinet guard in place. Keep dangerous chemicals up high and in a room that isn’t accessible to your little ones. Seemingly innocuous medicines can also be dangerous. Make sure your medicine cabinet is out of sight, mind, and reach.
Use safety latches and gates.
It’s advisable that you use safety latches on drawers, cabinets, toilets, and windows, as well as place covers on all electrical outlets. Gate off stairways and entrances to rooms, such as garages, that contain dangerous or fragile objects.
Secure furniture and other objects.
Heavy furniture, electronics, and lamps must be secured to prevent a child from pulling them over. Bookshelves and entertainment centers often come with devices that attach them to walls so that a climbing child won’t topple the furniture. The end-caps on door stoppers can be a choking hazard, so it’s advisable to remove them. Place plastic bumpers on sharp corners or edges of coffee tables, entertainment centers, and other furniture to prevent cuts and bruises.
Install a carbon monoxide detector.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that consumers purchase and install carbon monoxide detectors in addition to smoke alarms. Be sure to test both devices regularly and replace batteries as needed. The American Red Cross advises families to learn first aid and CPR, and to devise an emergency evacuation plan for fires and earthquakes.
Emergency contact info.
Last, but not least, in case an emergency does happen, always keep numbers for your child’s doctor, your work and cell, and other emergency contact info in an easily found place, preferably near the phone.
Accidents can and will happen, but by following a few small steps you can have peace of mind knowing that you’ve done everything you can to protect your family from harm in your home.
If you’re thinking about remodeling or are about to break ground on your first renovation, odds are you probably know a bit about how the project is going to go. After all, you’ve watched a few TV shows, your cousin’s husband is a general contractor and the guy you sit close to at work tells you every detail of how his wet bar is coming together. So you pretty much know all there is to know, right? Not so fast.
Live Remodel 1: JLB Property Developments, original photo on Houzz
As much as you may be able to glean from friends and family, articles and TV, there’s no experience quite like personally getting down into the dirt (more on this later) of a remodel. And what you don’t often hear about are the harsh realities of wading through such a detailed, often stressful project.
We’ve written before about how remodeling a home is the ultimate litmus test for your relationship. And that’s why I think understanding a few of the common negative things that happen during remodel is a vital component of being prepared.
I’ve not only braved a few remodels myself, but I’ve worked on the other end as a general contractor, and while I can’t claim I know everything, I do think I have a lot to share. Here are a few things you should know about what it’s really like to live through a renovation.
Live Remodel 2: Turnbull Griffin Haesloop, original photo on Houzz
It Will Upset Your Daily Schedule
Say, for example, every day before you leave for work you like to brew a cup of tea, settle in with your tablet at your breakfast nook and prepare for the day by going through your emails.
Now picture this exact routine while your kitchen and breakfast nook is under construction. The peace and tranquility (and cleanliness!) of your morning retreat is no more.
You may have to alter your daily routine a bit by finding a coffee shop near your house where you can relax, or by relocating to your bedroom for your beloved cup of chai.
Creatures of habit, be warned: You may have to (take a deep breath here) change a couple of your habits while your remodel is going on.
Contractors often like to take up shop (if permitted) in garages, as they are often places where they can make a bit more of a mess and noise while remaining close to the job site. If you want certain parts of your home, yard or garage to remain sacred, talk with your contractor about areas where work can and cannot occur.
Live Remodel 3: Kasper Custom Remodeling, LLC, original photo on Houzz
There Will Be Dust
This one may be a no-brainer to some and a shock to others (again, take a deep breath). Some contractors will give hints that the project will get dusty, such as: “We will take measures to put up dust barriers around the area of the remodel” or “we will keep a broom and dustpan on site at all times.”
But no matter how many protective products are put up, there are certain stages of construction that can get intense (for example, sanding down drywall). Not only does dust get thrown into the air while work is going on, but it stays floating around in the air for a while afterward. And floating dust’s favorite pastime is, regrettably, travel.
It may travel to different areas of the house, settling into your dog’s bed, onto your kitchen counters and even into your lungs. You may be thinking, “So what? I breathe dust all the time. That’s just life.” This is true, but the dust you’re usually inhaling is dirt and dead skin cells and other organic stuff. Remodeling dust can be made of not-so-nice things such as chemicals found in paint, fiberglass insulation or cement.
Have a conversation with your contractor to see whether he or she plans on using an air scrubber during your remodel as well as dust barriers and traditional cleaning. This combined system helps to prevent dust from traveling, and it also takes a lot of the nasty particulate out of the air before it has time to invade other areas of your house.
While most contractors genuinely work to keep your home clean, safe and comfortable during a remodel, sometimes dust control isn’t a top priority. It will quickly become front and center in your home, though, if it isn’t properly managed from the start.
Live Remodel 4: studiovert design, original photo on Houzz
It Can Be an Emotional Roller Coaster
Every person handles stress and emotions differently, but the fact is that having a bunch of unfamiliar faces tear your house apart before your very eyes is stressful. I know that sounds like a bit of hyperbole, but when you’re actually living through a remodel, that’s exactly how it feels.
It can be tough to keep your head on straight when you’re trying to make selections for tile and lighting fixtures that suit your budget while simultaneously worrying about whether the project will end on time. Add family and work life to that? Yikes.
Now that I’ve worked you up, let me provide some peace of mind: Contractors know what they are doing. They will do everything they can to make sure you are happy with your home and the job is completed in a timely manner. Your local YMCA provides yoga classes, which can be very helpful with managing stress. Feeling better?
Accept that you will feel some stress and some emotions, and allow yourself to be OK with that. It’s a part of the process. Freaking out about the fact that you’re freaking out will only make things, well, freakier.
Live Remodel 5: Amanda Armstrong Sava, original photo on Houzz
Now that I’ve shaken up any romanticized beliefs you may have held about remodeling, let me instill a bit of faith by saying that it’s not all bad. Remodeling can actually be quite pain-free, in fact, if you communicate. I know I’ve harped on this before, but I can’t stress the importance of it enough. Talk with your contractor before work starts about things such as scheduling, dust control and communication preferences. It makes a world and a half of difference.
So, yes, there will be dust, and yes, you might get tired of seeing your project manager every day, but there will be days when you come home after work and see new countertops being installed, and it will stop you dead in your tracks because — whoa — those look great!
Other times you might have the house to yourself for a second and you can poke around to “ooh” and “ahh” over all of the new, shiny things filling your beloved home. So not only is it not all bad, some of it is actually pretty good. So good, in fact, that you might even start thinking about your next project before the first one even ends.
By Hannah Kasper, Houzz
The 4th of July is a day of patriotism, revelry, and family. It gives friends and families an opportunity to gather for a day of relaxation, celebration, and of course, food! There’s nothing quite as quintessentially “summer” as a 4th of July cookout. With that in mind, we decided to look at a few ways to best set up this tastiest of traditions.
The Traveling Picnic
- A classic setup. With burgers and brats on the grill, folks can come and go as they please with paper or plastic plates to limit the damage.
- For prep work, this is the least intensive option. The more expansive your outdoor space, the better, but even small touches can help promote positive social interactions.
- Consider ways to accentuate your yard with spaces for folks to set down their food. The opportunity to stand and chat with a hand free (or a hand with a drink) puts everyone at ease.
The Extended Table
- Indoors or outdoors, if your family loves to cook together, then everyone will want to take a seat and eat together.
- The hassle of cobbling together a make-shift space for your brood is a stress not worth your time. If you’re short on storage space (or don’t think it’ll get use otherwise), foldup tables are easily available for rental from most party stores.
- It’s the 4thof July, so go all-out with decorations! There’s no need to be bashful – a stylishly loud tablecloth can be a talking point all evening!
The Couple’s Night
- Not everyone has the opportunity to get together with their family for the 4th, but the evening can be special nonetheless.
- If you and your significant other are accustomed to a big bash, the best pathway to enjoying your alternative 4th is aiming for a completely new experience.
- A few well-placed candles, particularly with red-white-and-blue holders, can set the mood pleasantly, and make a well-cooked meal for two on the deck a new tradition.
If you have ever had the responsibility of hosting a get-together, you probably know that it can be a daunting task. Between barbecuing, decorating, and general mayhem, the three-day weekend can feel like its own brand of work. To ease those stresses, we’ve gathered up a few of our favorite DIY traditions that can make everyone’s lives easier. Who knows, you might even have a little fun with them!
Make decoration creation a family event
If your attic shelters a full array of patriotic decorations, it may be no trouble for you to adorn your home appropriately. For the rest of us, here are some family-friendly options for last minute party décor.
- Grab several slats of wood, paper, or any other surface you feel comfortable displaying.
- Set up a “paint-friendly” space, ideally outdoors, with rags or paper laid out underneath to avoid excess mess.
- Optionally, you can create or buy stencils of flags, fireworks, stars, and other thematic artwork to help guide the youngest in the group.
- Set up the kids with age-appropriate artistic implements and let them go wild. While a watchful eye will surely remain necessary, not only will you have family-approved decorations for the weekend, you might just get a moment to actually catch up with one another.
It’s the little things
- Candle holders and vases make just as big an impact in theming as grand gestures. Small DIY decorations such as adding stars and stripes to your accent pieces helps flesh out the theme you’re going for.
- By sticking with a consistent artistic tool (sharpie, paint, pencil, etc.) you can deliver a sense of consistency to your guests while saving yourself time an effort.
- Function can be found in all sorts of items. If you find yourself caught in a windy day on Monday, your creations can play double-duty as paperweights and board game savers.
Help nature help you
Credit: Kathy Quillian
- The simplest of decorations are those that grow all by themselves. Whether in bouquet form, wreaths, or, in your own garden, natural coloring adds the perfect touch to your party decor.
- Mixing roses, petunias, and irises creates a charmingly patriotic array.
- Plan for your guests! Will there be children at your party? Setting out a dozen single-stem vases will look great but may lead to disaster, so consider your audience before decorating.
So basically, when you have a baby and wife and a career, your home reno slows down a little when your extended family flies back to their respective time zones. Last month, we shared about that pesky 15% of a project that gets left undone. And maybe we still haven’t fixed the grout line in the shower but… we did start a new project! Cleaning up the yard!
Did you know that gardening tools are really expensive? I didn’t. We even priced out what it would cost to have a landscaper come every two weeks just to mow and edge our front and back yard (which would leave us to the weeding, sweeping, etc.) but alas… that is also expensive (about $100 per month). So… Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s off to Home Depot we go…
Seven Yard Tools All First Time Home Buyers Need:
Lawnmower: Self-propelled so you don’t have to work as hard. Just being real. Our lot is about 7,000 square feet so there’s a whole lot of other things I will do to break my back. Mowing the yard doesn’t have to make the cut (the cut… because it’s a lawn mower… get it?) $399 + gasoline (verses $150 for a bagless push mower… ain’t nobody got time for that.)
Weed-eater: Not just for trimming weeds but more for making the edges of things look more like edges rather than wobbly overgrown lines. It basically gets to the stuff your mower can’t. My dad advised we buy a gas-powered trimmer – he said they last longer and can be more powerful. A little more tricky to start though and more maintenance. I guess we could have gone either way. Who knew gardening would be such a gamble? No wonder my wife loves to garden. She also loves the casino. $119 + gasoline (Sorry, environment!)
Hose Reel: Speaking of my wife, I called Jenn from Home Depot and told her that I had found the perfect solution to our front yard hose, all coiled up on the ground. I had found a $70 hose reel/box. It was the prettiest hose box I had ever seen. My wife said that spending $70 on a plastic hose box may be a little extravagant so we met in the middle and purchased this $30 reel that seems to do the trick.
Gardening Gloves: Protective gloves are probably the cheapest thing on this list… yet we have not bought them. After paying over $100 for literal dirt to fill our raised garden boxes, I guess some luxury had to be sacrificed. $3.98/pair which is less than my typical triple shot Americano (which is a luxury I cannot part with.)
Hedge Trimmer: I haven’t used ours yet as my wife has taken up hedge trimming to express herself artistically. The previous owner of our 1940s fixer was really into her yard and planted some really cool stuff over the last 65+ years. But as she aged, the yard was less tended to and some of the larger bushes took on a life of their own. This trimmer does the trick. I recently asked Jenn to commission a topiary of our dog, Whiskey. She declined. $49.97 for a corded trimmer.
Push Broom: Good for sweeping up the big mess you make when you’re trimming stuff. I love that ours is called the “Quickie Bulldozer.” Doesn’t that just radiate power and sweeping efficiency? $9.98 well spent.
Blower/Vacuum: I experienced the thrill of my lifetime when I realized that our electric leaf blower was also a vacuum! Perfect for sucking up all the lawn clippings left behind from the weed eater. It puts that Quickie Bulldozer to shame. It’s got a max air speed of 250 MPH for $63.21. Enter manly grunt akin to Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor.