Easements 101

Real estate has many intricate ins and outs, and understanding easements is no exception. When an easement is requested by a neighbor or neighboring developer, or when a homeowner needs to obtain an easement from a neighbor or a municipality where they live, it helps to understand the particulars.

According to the American Bar Association (ABA), an easement is an interest in land which is owned by a person who is not the owner of the whole parcel. An easement can provide someone the right to use or control a portion of a parcel, or an area above or below it, for a specific limited purpose such as to cross it for access to a public road, to share a common drive with a neighboring property, or to install and maintain utility wires or lines.

Unlike a lease or license, the ABA says an easement may last forever, but it usually doesn’t give the holder the right to exclusively possess, take from, improve, or sell the land. And the owner whose property is impacted by an easement is normally free to use their property as he or she chooses, provided that use doesn’t impair the rights of the holder of the easement.

So, what happens when someone else has a properly recorded easement over property you’re interested in buying? The ABA says if the survey of the property reflects a path labeled “easement” but no document is of record creating the easement, you will want to inquire as to where the surveyor obtained the information about this easement.

If the unrecorded easement is shown on the survey, the ABA says the title company will likely list this unrecorded easement on your title policy as an exception to coverage. That means that if someone were to claim the right to use this easement, your title insurance would not pay to resolve this issue.

The best person to advise you regarding obtaining an easement—or a property upon which an easement exists—is a reputable real estate attorney.

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Source: John Voket/RisMedia

4 Survival Tips for Your Family Vacation Road Trip

You can probably hear it already: the kids fighting over the radio and asking “Are we there yet?” Sometimes a picnic is no picnic. If you’re planning a family road trip this summer, you must plan ahead to ensure you have a smooth ride. Although this can be a daunting task, there are strategies you can put in place so that you’ll have the best trip possible. Just follow these five tips for surviving the summer road trip.

1. Pack Light

This is the worst part. We know. We don’t like it either. But try not to stress too much. Remember, you can almost certainly buy anything on the road. Know the weather of the destination you are visiting, which helps reduce over-packing. Keep in mind the activities you will be doing so you can pack appropriately. The types of accommodation will also determine which clothes or equipment you might need. Pack your bags and then reduce by a third. Then do it again. You will always pack more than you need. Do it! Do it!

2. Food and Drinks

A hungry kid – or husband –  is a grumpy kid! We don’t know about you, but as soon as we are hitting the road, all of the sudden you’re getting hungry (let’s be honest, you just want to snack). So remember to bring healthy snacks and water! Great snacks to bring are fruit (nature’s fast food!), nuts or seeds, veggies or crackers (with or without hummus), trail mix (make your own, way cheaper and healthier) and sandwiches to your liking.

3. Entertainment

How long will your drive take? Two hours? Ten hours? Thank heavens for modern technology (and Google Maps)! Even if you don’t have a drop-down screen in your car, just bring your tablet or smartphone and log in to your Hulu or Netflix account to keep the kids occupied. Try to pick a movie or show they want to see but haven’t yet seen so they pay attention. Blast your favorite music (show your kids “what real music is”) or start listen to an audiobook. There are even great children audiobooks out there. Speaking of books: don’t forget reading books, either in physical or electronic form! Coloring books are also a great way of staying busy and calming you down (kids or mum).

4. Stop Early, Stop Often!

One way to keep the kids from getting too antsy is to take frequent rest stops. Great places to stretch are public parks, playgrounds or picnic spots. If there’s a beach nearby: jackpot! Leave yourself more time for the trip than you think so you don’t feel rushed and can schedule in time for sights along the way. A good rule of thumb is to split drive time and doing stuff 50/50. If you want to know family-friendly activities along your route, check out the app Roadtrippers.  Sometimes we are so focused on the final destination that we blaze right by. Having said that, road trips can be exhausting, so slow down and enjoy the journey!

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Source: www.ytravelblog.com

7 Ways to Incorporate Travel Into Your Home Décor

Nothing stinks more than coming home from a trip – especially in a place you might never be able to get to again – and regretting that hand-carved wooden bowl or hand-blown glass light you left behind. The truth is that you probably won’t miss the extra money you would have spent for the item you couldn’t take your eyes off of, but you’ll probably think about that great piece and wish you wouldn’t have let the price or the size or the fact that you didn’t have enough space in your suitcase scare you off. Go ahead, buy it! And buy the extra carry-on bag to transport it, for that matter.

Here are some tips for getting travel décor right.

1. Avoid traditional souvenirs

Yes, we all love some tourist-trap souvenir shops. But sophisticated décor requires sophisticated stuff. And that means bypassing the magnets and snow globes – at least in the public spaces of your home.

2. Photography

Put your photography skills to the test and create memorable wall décor that will bring a smile to your face for a lifetime. These days, you don’t even need a professional camera to create brilliant photos with a high enough resolution to be enlarged to the size you want.

3. Use maps

Using maps to identify places you’ve traveled (or places you want to!) is an easy way to create inspired décor. Buy a fun map wallpaper or create an elegant wall display using antique maps of places you have traveled.

4. Go eclectic

You want your décor to look put together but not haphazard, and collected over time for an eclectic feel. The trick is to add in a few pieces instead of jamming up a space with all things Africa or Asia. Mix them in sparingly among your current décor. Don’t be afraid to mismatch the styles and have some creative fun – but at the same time, don’t go too crazy with the new pieces.

5. Look for textiles

Buying fabrics is a good option. They are an original way to personalize a cushion or create a made-to-measure tablecloth that your dinner guests will admire.

6. Color Scheme

One of the tricks to incorporating items you find while traveling into your existing décor is to remember your already-established color scheme. You don’t want to bring something home that will clash with everything you already have. But…don’t be afraid to go all in on color. Consider incorporating the popular colors from your favorite destination into your décor. Tropical locations usually use bolder patterns or pastels as their main decorating colors. You can take a more natural approach and focus on the colors of the ocean or the sky into your décor. You can even incorporate the colors of your preferred place into the paint, fabric and accent color selections you make for your home.

7. Go representative

Figure out what the country or city you’re in is known for and then focus on that. For instance, among many other things, Morocco is known for its Berber rugs. The hand-crafting of these items is one of the reasons they are so special and so revered. In many areas, you can also build an interesting side trip into your shopping adventure. Seeing the rugs be made by hand will further add to the experience of having one in your home, and will far outweigh the hassle of checking a rug at the airport! .

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Source: Realty Times

6 Ways to Lower Your Water Bill This Summer

When the temperature rises, so does water usage. And that means a larger impact on areas that are already struggling with drought conditions, not to mention the impact on your wallet, regardless of where you live. Using water efficiently is important throughout the year, but sometimes the timing of water use can make a big difference for community water supplies and your water bill.

In most cases, there are easy fixes you can make to be more water efficient. Here are 8 you can incorporate into your daily habits immediately.

1. Turn off the faucet

Did you know that you waste a good four gallons of water every time you leave the faucet running while you’re brushing your teeth? This one easy change can make a big difference in your water usage and conservation efforts.

2. Check the toilets

It may not seem like much, but those drips can add up to gallons faster than you think. To check if you have a silent toilet leak, place food coloring in your toilet tank and wait to see if the color makes it into the bowl. If you see color seeping in, you know it’s time to fix it.

3. Set a timer

Have kids (or spouses) that take impossibly long showers? Even cutting back on a couple a week can dramatically curb your water usage. Shave off two minutes to save as much as 1,750 gallons of water per person a year! Set a 10-minute timer on a waterproof shower clock so your water-wasting offender can see how much time they have left to rinse, lather, and repeat.

4. Use the dishwasher

Here’s a surprising fact: You actually use far more water hand washing dishes than if you run the dishwasher. This is especially true if you have an Energy Star dishwasher, which requires an average of four gallons of water per load, compared with the 24 gallons it takes to do them in the sink.

5. Check your sprinklers

Malfunctioning sprinklers could be costing you money and wasting water. Sprinkler heads that don’t properly deliver an even spray could cause parts of your lawn to die. If the heads don’t lower properly, they can be damaged or broken easily. You may also be overwatering. Volume quickly adds up when you’re irrigating a large property. Not everything needs to be watered daily. Trees, shrubs, and turf can all be watered less frequently for massive water savings.

6. Water in the morning or at night

Letting your sprinklers go during the hottest time of the day minimizes the benefit of watering. When the sun is high, water evaporates quickly, so it’s best to sprinkle when it’s more likely to stay in the soil. And please water the actual yard, not your sidewalk or driveway.

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Source: Realty Times

4 Last-Minute Tips For Your Fourth of July Cookout

You had good plans to be prepared for your fourth of July gathering and now you’re freaking out because you don’t have anything ready yet for the big party. Here are some last-minute ideas for a stress-free Fourth of July cookout.

1. Pack Smart and Use Household Items

If you and your crew will be celebrating Independence Day at a park or in a friend’s backyard, don’t load down your cooler with unnecessary items. Store liquor bottles in a large container so guests know exactly where to look for the good stuff. When the party’s over, you won’t have to individually collect all the bottles — just place the large container back in the wagon. Use small paper cups for beverages and bite-sized snacks and berry baskets from the grocery store to serve larger quantities of food — they’re more compact than paper plates. Place bread, fruit, sides and sandwich toppings in separate containers the night before your picnic. You can store leftovers and/or dirty dishes in these containers after your party. You can also repurpose items around the house as cute serveware. Instead of an ice bucket try a planter. Use a tin can for a vase. Mason jars are great to use for everything: drinks, soups, salad or dessert.

2. Banish Bugs

The absolute best way to keep mosquitoes away is with a fan. Set up a few cheap floor fans on your deck or patio to keep bug bites to a minimum. Citronella candles can be effective at keeping mosquitoes away, but only if they’re the real deal. Light them around the perimeter of your outdoor living spaces to create a mosquito-free zone. You can also repel them with plants, such as marigolds, lavender, lemon balm and basil. For a more potent solution, make these herbal bundles and toss them on the fire or BBQ during your next outdoor get-together.

3. Stay Cool

It’s hot out there! That’s where a fan comes in handy. Of course keep cold water on hand along with frozen aloe and a soothing facial spray.

4. Drinks

No one wants to play bartender all night. Set up a self-serve drink station with these big-batch cocktails.

Source: HGTV

7 Mistakes That Will Keep Your Home From Selling

When you’re selling your home, you need every advantage you can get. And there are few homes that are magically market ready without a little help. If your home needs a touch more than a little help, it’s time to get focused. After all, listing your home when it’s not in the right condition to sell will probably only end in frustration. And, in this case, frustration means: your home sitting on the market for months with no offers or the  lowball.

If you want to make sure you get home sold quickly and for the right price, you’ll want to avoid listing it with the following:

1. Excessive Damage

Maybe the home you’re selling was used as a rental and trashed by tenants, or maybe you just haven’t kept it up as you should. Either way, those holes in the wall that look like the living room was used as a boxing gym and the yard that’s full of weeds are not what buyers are looking for. Unless you’re planning to offer your house for a price that will make buyers emphasize the good and ignore the bad and the ugly, it’s going to need some attention.

2. Big, Nasty Stains

A buyer shouldn’t know where your dog likes to mark or where your kids spilled the entire bowl of holiday punch. If the stains on your carpet are that bad, potential buyers will stroll in and run right back out. Invest a few bucks in new carpet. You’ll make the money back since you won’t have to drop your sales price.

3. Pet Odor

Speaking of pets…they smell. You probably don’t notice since you live with them everyday, but buyers will, and it might be enough to turn them off. Deep clean the carpets and the upholstery, invest in some air fresheners, and remove cat boxes from the house for showings.

4. Curb Appeal

Lack of curb appeal won’t necessarily kill a deal. In many cases, you won’t even get potential buyers to get out of the car. If the front yard is a mess, buyers will naturally think the mess continues inside.

5. Sloppiness

Those drawers and cabinets you shoved everything into when you cleaned off your kitchen and bathroom cabinets could be a deal breaker for picky buyers. We all know buyers open stuff. They look in drawers, they open cabinets, they examine closets. If these spaces are messy and overstuffed, they may assume there’s not enough storage space.

6. Bad Taste

Poor decorating choices and failure to keep up with trends from this year – or century – may haunt you when it’s time to sell. A few simple updates can help it to look fresh and give buyers something to fall in love with.

7. Unreasonable sellers

Big problems in your house can be deal killers, but they can also be deal sealers, if you are reasonable. If your inspection uncovers plumbing, electrical, or roofing problems (or all three!) and you’re unwilling to negotiate, you can kiss that sale goodbye.

Do you need help to get your house sold? Then give us a call at (480)359-6789 for a free consultation!

Source: Realty Times

Hot Summer Entertainment Around Phoenix

As the days lengthen and the temperature climbs, it’s time to ring in the lazy days of summer. But if you’re local to Phoenix (or just in for a visit), you might find yourself retreating anywhere with air-conditioning to escape the blazing Arizona heat. Some may love the desert heat, others might prefer their fun in the shade, rather than the sun. Luckily, Phoenix not offers only activities for the whole family, but plenty of things to do both inside and outside. Even if you’re not a fan of the triple-digit dry heat, you and your family won’t be in danger of boredom.

Spend a Day on Saguaro Lake

What’s the best way to beat the heat? Getting wet and wild—whether at the Wet N Wild Water Park, or elsewhere—usually helps. If you’re looking to cool off with a swim minus the lines, Saguaro Lake might be your top choice. While there are quite a few lakes in around the Phoenix metro area, Saguaro Lake boasts gorgeous desert scenery and lakeside views (including several of the Saguaro cacti that give it its name). Boating and kayaking rental deals, waterskiing and fishing are all on offer, though for folks who prefer to kick back a little more, the sights might best be enjoyed by river cruise.

Hike Camelback Mountain

Outdoor adventurers and aspiring wilderness experts will make a beeline for the mountain with one of the highest peaks in Phoenix, Camelback Mountain. Rising roughly 2,700 feet above Phoenix’s city skyline, the mountain’s spectacular summit provides some of the most panoramic views of the city and surrounding landscape you’ll find—plus, the 1.2 mile Echo Canyon Trail is no beginner’s trek (it might as well be the place where the term “uphill battle” was coined). For families with small children or for beginning hikers, easier trails etch the mountain side, but be sure to bring plenty of water.

Explore Phoenix’s Museums (and Indoor Playgrounds)

Some days, you and your family might find yourself looking to retreat, rather than beat, the heat. Luckily, Phoenix’s many museums and indoor play centers provide recreation and fun for the whole family. Visit Makutu’s Island for an indoor play adventure featuring a giant oak tree full of mole holes, tunnels and 35-ft slide, or cool off in the summer sunshine with a trip to one of the city’s many water parks. Explore over 300 interactive exhibits in the Arizona Science Center, or spend a day getting cultured at the Musical Instrument Museum.

Go Salt River Tubing in Tonto National Forest

What better way to cool off than tubing in one of the nation’s largest national forests? You can take a journey to Tonto National Forest for a weekend of camping and tubing, or make it a day trip with a bus ride to one of the river’s three drop off points. Parents can crack a cold one or two on the ride, and kids will get time to splash, play and cool off.

Take a Trip Back in Time at the Goldfield Ghost Town

If your kids are looking to pan for gold with prospectors, watch gunslingers face off in the central square, or explore the recesses of an abandoned mine, you and your family can’t miss the old ghost town just by the Superstition Mountains. The abandoned mining town has been converted into an Old West attraction, complete with rides, reenactments, a historic museum and plenty of Western adventure–even a mysterious shack where lamps hang from the ceiling from 45 degree angles, and water runs from faucets seemingly disconnected from any water pipes.

By: Jeremy Alderman, ZOG Digital

Common Mistakes People Make When It Comes to Home-Buying

No matter the age or life stage, everyone makes mistakes when it comes to home-buying. Certain age groups are more susceptible to particular missteps than others. Here are common mistakes homeowners make at each age, and a few ways to avoid them.

20s: Getting the Wrong Type of Mortgage

People in their 20s are just starting their careers and usually have less money saved than older homebuyers. For these folks, paying less for a mortgage is not just a priority, but a necessity. This can be a bad thing if buyers get into an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) thinking they will earn more money down the road, but if that doesn’t happen and interest rates go up in five to seven years, they’re going to see their mortgage rates double or even triple. Before leaping into an ARM with just a dream of a house and a hope for a bigger paycheck, consider other cost-saving alternatives.

Along with popular programs like FHA loans and VA loans, there are other lesser-known initiatives geared to homebuyers on a fixed income, for example home-buying assistance for law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and pre-kindergarten through 12th grade teachers. Along with federal money, there are also state-sponsored grants for first-time homebuyers, which you can typically find on your state’s website.

30s: Not Thinking About the Future

Homebuyers in their 30s blunder by not considering a future family when they’re standing in the middle of downtown condo with gorgeous views and access to a rooftop pool. While snagging the ultimate bachelor or bachelorette pad might seem alluring, it can also cost you money down the road. If you plan on having a family, it’s important to consider that when you’re home shopping, even if you’re currently single. Ask yourself these questions before buying a home:

  • Who do I imagine living with in the future?

  • Where do I imagine living?

  • How do I imagine living?

Those answers should be an integral part of what you look for in a home. For example, if you think you might want kids or even a dog, you’ll probably want to choose a home with a backyard versus one near a great nightlife.

40s-50s: Overestimating Your Budget

In your 40s and 50s, you tend to have more money, which can lead to overestimating your budget and buying a house you can’t afford. One way to avoid this is to figure out your lifestyle comfort level. Figuring out your budget is a critical step for buyers of all ages. Even experienced homebuyers can make the mistake of spending at their limit, which can mean making sacrifices that they weren’t prepared to make. The takeaway for buyers in their 40s and 50s is to leave room in the budget for things they aren’t willing to give up—for example, private school for the kids.

60s and up: Falling in Love With That Vacation Home

Many homeowners in their 60s are retired or getting ready to retire. Among the many decisions retirees make is where to live. While some choose to stay where they are, many plan on moving to warmer climates, or even another country. However, Relocating and buying a home is an expensive process, so retirees should be sure they familiarize themselves with a new place before buying.

Before buying a new house in your vacation paradise, be sure to visit the area in every climate. For example, Florida is great in the winter, but many people might not be comfortable in the humid summer months. The same goes for Northern areas—what’s blissful in one season can be awful in another.

Source: RisMedia and Bankrate.com

Safety Tips For Your Home When Going On Vacation

Among the fastest ways to kill a post-vacation buzz is returning home and discovering your house is in shambles. Maybe a water pipe broke and now you’re trudging through ankle-deep sludge. Perhaps a burglar slipped inside, ransacked the place and gallivanted away with your most valued possessions. Or it could be that you forgot to clean out the fridge before leaving, and now mold has infested every nook and cranny. Just like it’s important to shop for an excellent vacation deal, it’s crucial to make sure returning from that well-earned trip isn’t a headache or disaster. Here are six easily-skipped steps to keep in mind while you’re planning that enticing itinerary.

Of Course Somebody is Home

Hiring a house or pet sitter is the best method to ensure your home stays just like you left it. House sitters can vary from a trusted friend or family member, to somebody who is a professional. Typically a house sitter will take care of any pets you’re leaving behind, water plants, collect the mail and sometimes other small tasks. It’s challenging to trust somebody enough to be in your home for days on end, but their presence ensures burglars avoid your place and that your appliances and utilities don’t decide to take a vacation of their own.

Celebrate on Social Media After the Trip

Booking a vacation is exciting. It’s a break from the daily grind, and that’s often something we want to share with our friends, family and acquaintances via social media. But you should probably hold off on announcing to the whole Internet that your home is vacant and ripe for the picking. Websites like Facebook and Twitter make it easy for complete strangers to gather your personal information and then find out where you live with a quick online search.

If you can’t help yourself from announcing the trip and posting photos, then do yourself a favor and greatly restrict who can see and share the information. The same plan of action holds true for automatic email responses and voicemail systems. The rule of thumb is that if you’re not comfortable with somebody being in your house when you’re not there, then don’t tell them – even indirectly – that you’re heading off on some sweet adventure. Scoundrels might seize that announcement as an open house invitation, and you might return to an open front door.

Burning the Midnight Oil

Casing a house is a common tactic for many home invaders. They spend days – sometimes even weeks – monitoring when you’re home, what rooms you’re in, what you’re doing and who you’re with. They’ll know your daily habits better than you do. The best way to thwart these folks is to make sure it genuinely looks like somebody is home. Set up an app-controlled light timer. You can even set up a timer-controlled power supply to stereos or TVs. But don’t keep the same timer settings day by day. Vary when lights come on, which rooms they pop on and for how long everything is running. Also be sure to use compact fluorescent light bulbs to save electricity and your energy bill.

Lock it Down, Regardless of Where You Live

It’s oddly common that in small, homey towns where “everybody knows each other” folks leave their homes and cars unlocked. If you’re involved with this mindset, then you may very well leave your door unlocked during an extended absence. And unlocked doors are the biggest “burglarize me” signals out there. More than 30 percent of home burglaries happen from an unlocked entrance. Don’t be the person who forgot to close and lock the windows or sliding glass door. Put a dowel rod behind any type of sliding entrance, and be sure to lock the deadbolt. It’s easy to prevent an easy crime.

This Needs Power, This Doesn’t

Imagine how devastating it feels to show up back home after your trip and discover a charred pile of rubble where your home once stood. Let that feeling sink in for a few moments, and then take a look around at what electronics and appliances you currently have plugged into the wall throughout your home. A power outage or surge could trip these devices and cause a fire if the device isn’t plugged into a surge protector or turned off. Now since you’re leaving certain electronics on timers to discourage home invasions, make sure what you do leave plugged in is plugged into a surge protector. You can group electronics and appliances close together to limit the number of protectors you’ll need to buy.

Otherwise, think about how much energy appliances like your refrigerator, water heater or climate control require and consume. If you don’t have plants, animals or open food, then you can pretty much turn off your climate control depending on what the outside weather is like. Set your water heater to vacation mode to reserve energy consumption. And last, either remove perishables from the fridge, turn it off and open the door to prevent mildew, or make sure the appliance is completely full of non-perishable items. If you have empty space then fill jugs of water there to insulate your fridge and lower energy consumption.

Finally, if you’re off on an adventure during the winter, ask a trusted neighbor, friend or family member to come by and run the facet for about 5 minutes every day or two. If your pipes are properly insulated, this should help prevent them from freezing over or breaking.

A Tidy Home is a Lived in Home

The final step that is extremely easy to skip on longer or seasonal trips is how your home looks. Sure, you have lights popping on and off at random times, but is your yard unkempt? Are mail flyers, newspapers and packages creating the next great pyramid on your doorstep? These are signals to anybody paying attention that you’re not home. Either stop packages, the newspaper and your mail from being deposited, or get somebody you trust to pick everything up for you. Plus if you’re leaving in the winter and it snows, make sure they shovel your driveway or sidewalk.

Source: Realty Times

How to Hire a Home Contractor: Tips and Best Practices

A home construction or renovation disaster can easily happen if you hire the wrong contractor. We’ve all heard the horror stories about contractors who don’t show up to the job site, spring unfair fees on you at the last minute or can’t seem to finish the project anywhere near the deadline. To keep yourself safe from these types of situations, it’s important to follow certain guidelines when hiring a contractor. Keep reading for tips and best practices for hiring a contractor.

  1. Seek multiple bids — We recommend that you obtain at least three bids from different contractors.

  2. Hire only a licensed contractor — Check the Arizona State Contractors License Board to ensure that your contractor is licensed and in good standing.

  3. Hire insured contractors — Always insist upon a certificate of insurance for general liability insurance. Uninsured workers who are injured on the job may file damage claims against the homeowner.

  4. Get references — It’s a good idea to obtain references from the contractor’s previous customers. You may also want to consult third-party review resources such as the Better Business Bureau or Yelp before making a final selection.

  5. Financing — Ask your contractor about available financing options.

  6. Never sign a contract under pressure — Insist on at least 48 hours to study any contract.

  7. Get a thorough written contract before any work begins — Any work valued over $500 requires a contract. In the contract, be sure to specify the start and completion dates of the job and insist on a progressive payment schedule specifying exact costs. For your protection, you may want to invest another few hundred dollars to have an attorney review your contract. Be sure to require that all change orders must be in writing.

  8. Never pay cash — Pay by check or credit card.

  9. Pay as you go — To start a job, never pay more than 10% down or $1,000—whichever is less. Hold back 10% on the final payment until after the entire job is complete and has been inspected by the proper authorities. Never pay for work before it is done.

  10. Keep a job file — Put receipts, permits, plans and anything else pertaining to your job in the file.

For more tips and advice about home renovation and construction projects, feel free to give us a call today.

Source: https://energycenter.org