5 Home Maintenance Tips for Fall

When you are putting away your shorts and pulling out your sweaters instead, you know it’s time to get a few chores done to prepare your house for the colder season of the year.

Here are 5 things you should be doing now:

  1. Clean the Gutters

Gutters are essential in preventing water damage and other costly repairs, so be sure to clean them out in order for water to properly drain. Remove leaves, twigs and gunk. Tighten gutter hangers and downspouts brackets and replace any damaged or worn gutters and downspouts.

  1. Check the Roof

Inspect the roof for curled, buckled or cracked shingles and other deformities before winter. Make sure to also check the flashing around skylights, pipes and chimneys. If you have a lot of damage, it is time to replace the entire roof. If you don’t want to examine the roof yourself, hire a licensed professional to do it.

  1. Examine the Fireplace

Look up inside your fireplace flue and check if the damper opens and closes properly. Sweep the chimney and keep it clean for winter use, so there’s no blockage. If you see any cracked or missing bricks and mortar in the firebox, order a professional inspection.

  1. Seal Air Leaks

This is one of the least expensive yet most important must-do fall maintenance tip. Check any weather stripping and caulking to assure that windows and doors are sealed and no moisture can get inside your walls.

  1. Prep the Outdoors

Turn off the valves to any exterior hose bibs to prevent exterior water pipes from bursting when the weather gets below freezing. Run the water until pipes are empty and all water is drained from the pipes. Prune plants and trees and rake up the thick layers of leaves that settle on lawn surfaces. You can put the raked leaves in a compost pile or use it as a mulch as they are an excellent source of organic matter.

By: Patricia Madigan

5 Tips for Choosing the Right Window Treatments

Window coverings can either make or break a space. The right window treatment can complement your windows and enhance the look of a room, while the wrong one can make a room feel bare and incomplete. But with the extensive amount of styles and types available, shopping for window treatments can be overwhelming. With the numerous options, how would you know what to choose for your space?

Before anything else, consider the windows themselves, as well as what the role of the window treatment you are going to purchase will play. Understanding such factors will surely make your shopping a lot easier.

Tip #1: Evaluate Your Needs for Privacy

While a sheer curtain may be suitable for a room that is primarily used during daytime, an opaque window treatment is more appropriate in a room that requires more privacy such as your bedroom and the bathroom. If you have a sheer drapery in your room but want greater privacy, you can supplement it with blinds or shades. You can also opt of heavier curtains if shades and blinds are not your thing.

Tip #2: Match It to the Interior Style

The decors and overall design of the interiors matter just as well. When choosing a type of window covering, the one you are picking should coordinate with the style and color of the room. If the room is simple and plain, matching its decor with a window treatment that has a simplistic design can work. If you want to try something different, choose a pattered curtain or a drapery in bold color to contrast the room’s simplicity.

Tip #3: Determine the Room’s Purpose

Each room in your house serves a specific purpose. Hence, each requires a specific type of window treatment. If you want your room to be noise-free and dark, opt for blackout draperies or shades for better light control and insulation.

Tip #4: Figure out Your Window’s Function

The way you use the window will determine what window treatment is appropriate for it. Will you be using it as a natural light source? Purchase a seamless non-fussy roller shades or other sheer window treatments that can easily allow natural light to fill the room. Do you regularly open and close the windows for better air circulation? Choose a window covering that is light enough to enable you to open the window breezily.

Tip #5: Know Thy Options

Lastly, find out what various window treatment types are available. Once you understand the uses, and benefits of each type, it will be easier for you to assess your dressing needs. Generally, there are five types: panels, shades, cornices, blinds, and shutters. Shades typically add light control and privacy to a room, while cornices or swags offer added features to window coverings.

Panels, on the contrary, can be made with lightweight or heavy fabric, depending on its purpose. And similar to shades, blinds and shutters provide light control and functional privacy.


By: AdobeFineLiving.com


7 Things You Should Get Rid Of Before You Move

You are about to move to a new home? Then this is the perfect opportunity to take stock of what you own and declutter. There’s no better excuse to do this than an upcoming move. Not only is packing and carrying boxes a lot easier when you are not hauling extra “stuff”, but you also want your new place to look fantastic. Best thing to do is start purging at least one month before you actually move, so you have enough time to sell items or to drop them off somewhere. In order to not get overwhelmed and get a panic attack, take it one room or closet at a time. Despite an item’s fate, separate them into “keep”, “junk”, “donate” and “sell” and never handle an item twice.

Here are 7 things you should work on:

1. Paperwork

We all have those drawers, bags or boxes full of paper, flyers, bills or receipts that we never ever touch again. Go through them and throw away what you don’t need (mostly everything). Somehow most of us still think we have to keep our tax documents for seven years. But that’s not necessarily true. This link will tell you how long you should keep certain receipts.

2. Memorabilia

This is a tricky one. We often give things a sentimental value and that is absolutely normal. Keep your wedding photos, college diploma and the first drawing of your kids. But do you really need that China that you never use or your girls’ dolls that haven’t been touched since they have been put away into the garage 15 years ago? In this day and age it’s easy to digitize, so scan whatever you can and file it away.

3. Clothes

Yes, you already know what I mean by that. Those “what if” clothes. No one says you have to become a minimalist and have to fit all your clothes into one carry-on, but it’s time to get rid of the jeans that “used to fit” or the dress that “one day might fit”. Look around your closet: do you see clothes you haven’t worn in a year? If so, put them away. You can either donate them and make someone else happy or try to sell them and make your bank account happy.

4. Old/Damaged Furniture

A move is a great time to start fresh. So sell your undesirable pieces on Craigslist or give them to someone who would appreciate it more than you do. Not only makes this the actual move easier but your new place deserves some chic furniture anyway.

5. Kitchenware

Be honest: did you ever use that bread machine? If you are on a gluten-free diet or have become a fruitarian it’s time to gift it to someone who might actually use it.

6. Unpacked or Forgotten Things

You have boxes that have never been opened since your last move? Then it’s probably for a reason and chances are high you won’t need whatever is in there. If you find something while you are packing and don’t even remember that you had it in the first place, it’s time to toss it.

7. Things that would make someone else happier

This goes basically for everything. For books you will never read again, clothes you will never wear or the blender you never used. Why keep something that doesn’t give you joy and takes away unnecessary space? Rather give those things to someone who appreciates it.

By: Patricia Madigan

3 Home Repairs You Shouldn’t Do Yourself

In times of DIY-blogs, wikiHow and YouTube, you may feel confident enough to roll up your sleeves and tackle your own home repairs and improvements. With all the do-it-yourself shows on TV, it often seems foolish paying a professional for something that can be easily done on your own. And while those projects give you a great sense of accomplishment, you should leave certain home repairs and renovation jobs to a professional.

Here are 3 projects you should steer clear of:

1. Electrical Work

Working with electricity should be always approached with caution. You might be able to tackle minor repairs such as replacing a ceiling fan or installing a dimmer switch, just make sure that the electricity to the circuit you are working on is turned off. As soon as it comes to extending circuits or adding new ones though, it’s best to call an electrician. Messing around with electrical circuits and running new cables could lead to you getting an electrical shock or your house getting on fire. Electrical work is also governed by strict codes, so if your house is not up to code, you will have issues once you plan to sell it.

2. Plumbing Work

While you may be able to pull of certain plumbing jobs such as changing a showerhead or replacing faucets, as soon as you want to modify your plumbing system – like expanding a home’s water supply line -, you are better off  having a professional plumber taking care of that. The smallest leak can lead to an enormous amount of damage if it is not caught in time.

3. Roofing Work

Even though installing roof shingles may look easy to you, don’t be fooled. Not only does repairing a roof require skill and experience, climbing up and down ladders while carrying tools and supplies is also dangerous and more exhausting than you think. A small misstep is all it takes to send you over the edge.

As a DIY enthusiast you like to handle your own renovation projects and repairs. But sometimes you have to choose your battles and be smart about handing off anything that will likely be dangerous to a professional.

By: Patricia Madigan


Vegetables and Flowers to Plant Now


The weather is cooling down, but the monsoon is finished, water needs are still high. Planting is not as hard on the plants if you wait until the night temperature falls in the 70′s to do your plantings.

Annuals and perennials to sow:
African Daisies, Alyssum, Aster, Bachelor Button, Bells of Ireland, Calendula, California Poppy, Candytuft, Carnation, Clarkia, Columbine, Delphinium, Forget-Me-Not, Gaillardia, Godetia, Gypsophila, Hollyhocks, Larkspur, Lupines, Nasturnium, Nicotiana, Pansy, Petunia, Phlox, Pinks, Poppy, Salpiglossis, Scabiosa, Shasta Daisy, Snapdragon, Stocks, Sweet Peas, Sweet Sultan, Sweet William, Verbena, Viola

In the vegetable garden
- Plant beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, eggplant, garlic, lettuce, peas, radishes.

Your lawn:
It is time to decide if you are going to overseed your lawn with winter grass.  If you are not, high nitrogen fertilizer will keep it green longer.


The weather is cooling down, that’s now that you want to plant citrus, but also your winter bloom and vegetable.
- A great month to do your planting, the nurseries are loaded with container grown plants.
- It is also the right time to divide perennials
- Time to sow wild flowers.
- Plant impatiens in shady, frost protected area of the garden

What to sow:
African Daisies, Alyssum, Aster, Bachelor Button, Bells of Ireland, Calendula, California Poppy, Candytuft, Carnation, Clarkia, Delphinium, Forget-Me-Not, Gaillardia, Godetia, Gypsophila,Hollyhocks, Larkspur, Lupines, Nasturnium, Nicotiana, Pansy, Petunia, Phlox, Pinks, Poppy, Salpiglossis, Scabiosa, Shasta Daisy, Snapdragon, Sweet Peas, Sweet Sultan, Sweet William, Verbena, Viola

You can plant bulbs that have low chilling requirements (they don’t need a cold period before starting to grow):
Amaryllis, Anemone, Calla, Daffodil, Iris, Muscari, Oxalis, Ranunculus, Sparaxis (harlequin flower), Watsonia
Put bulbs that need chilling in your fridge for 6 to 8 weeks:
Crocus, Hyacinth, Tulip

In the vegetable garden
- Plant artichokes, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, garlic, lettuce, peas, radishes.

Your lawn:
The nights are getting cool enough, it is time to sow winter grass.  If you don’t do it, fertilize again your bermuda, to keep it green as long as possible.


By: http://www.gardeninginarizona.com

4 Things to Consider When Buying a House With a Non-Spouse

Rising rental costs and low-rate mortgages make buying a house now rather than later seem like an attractive option for a growing number of unmarried people. While this can be a positive move, be prepared to make some important decisions.

  1. Have a Plan in Mind

Before you go out house shopping you want to have a plan that lays out what happens to the home you own together. It’s important you are on the same page with your goals and whether the property is going to be just an investment or a personal residence. Even though you and your brother or your best friend are getting along great and work well together now, you need a process to guide you through in case your relationship turns sour and you do go your separate ways.

  1. Decide How to Manage Costs

Talk with your partner not only about how much money you are willing to spend but also about your creditworthiness as this will impact your ability to get a mortgage and how much interest rate you will have to pay. If you don’t already have a joint bank account, you might also consider setting up one. This makes it easier for you to pay the mortgage, property taxes and maintenance costs. Decide on a housing budget you and your partner are both comfortable with. When you cosign on a mortgage, you are liable for the debt, so think about if it’s really necessary to stretch your maximum budget.

  1. Have an Agreement in Writing

Discuss what you plan to do with the home and get those points in writing. A real estate attorney can help you with creating a legal document that outlines all the details of your arrangement. It should say whose name is on the deed, and who will pay for what. Be specific and go through plausible scenarios. Know the answers to questions like “What happens if one party can’t pay anymore? Who handles the maintenance and repairs? How will potential sale proceeds or rental income be split up? What happens if one party wants out of the investment and the other person does not?” and put the details in writing.

  1. Title It Right

It’s important that you and your partner decide on how you will hold title to ensure that everyone who owns the home is considered a legal owner. This link gives you an overview of ways to take title in Arizona.

By: Patricia Madigan

Best Reasons for a Family Move to North Scottsdale

There are few better places to raise a family than North Scottsdale, Arizona. This area has been consistently rated one of the safest cities in the U.S., one of the best run cities and one of the best communities for young people. It is located about 30 minutes north of Phoenix in the scenic Sonoran Desert. With a close balance of nature and access to urban areas, the area has plenty of things to do for the whole family.

Being in Arizona, North Scottsdale has mild winters and very warm summers. Temperatures can get above 100 degrees in the summer, but the low humidity means it feels much cooler. The area becomes a popular place during the winter months as thousands of tourists from colder states visit for a taste of sunshine. It is pretty easy to get around. The area is close to Route 101 and the Scottsdale Airport.

North Scottsdale is part of the general Scottsdale Unified School District, which was named Arizona’s “Most Excelling” school district. The district has 30 schools that serve about 23,000 students. There are 9 schools with an A+ grade of excellence rating and 87 National Board Certified teachers, according to the district website. Schools have an 85 percent graduation rate and the class of 2017 earned about $70 million in scholarships. Nearby schools include Desert Mountain High School, Desert Canyon Middle School and Redfield Elementary School.

The people of North Scottsdale take pride in the environment, both working to preserve the Sonoran Desert and explore all of the local beauty. Many families take advantage of the extensive trail network and go hiking, biking or animal watching. Springtime is an especially great time for a hike as the wildflowers bloom along the trails.

One place to take the family is the McDowell Sonoran Preserve located near the McDowell Mountains. Open from sunrise to sunset, this preserve has more than 180 miles of trails. The preserve also has the award-winning Bajada Nature Trail. This trail is great for families, those new to hiking or wheelchair users. The trail is a half mile long and it has several interactive exhibits that tell stories of the area. The preserve offers a Family Passport which uses a scavenger hunt to teach children about the local wildlife. Those who get their passports stamped at all five trailheads receive a preserve bandana.

Another family-friendly nature area is the Scenic Trail in McDowell Mountain Regional Park. The trail covers a total of seven miles both out and back and it has little elevation gain. Fans of sleeping in the open air can make use of one of the park’s 76 campsites. There are two areas for picnicking that include a grill and a nearby playground. The park also hosts stargazing programs on Saturday evenings.

North Scottsdale is close to the borders of the Tonto National Forest. At nearly 3 million acres, this forest is the largest in Arizona and the fifth largest national forest in the U.S. The forest has several interpretive areas that take visitors through ruins from 1500 AD and has views of the historic Theodore Roosevelt Dam. Many people head to the forest to cool off from the heat at Saguaro Lake.

Families can enjoy indoor fun at the nearby OdySea Aquarium. At more than 200,000 square feet, this aquarium is the largest in the Southwest. Exhibits include Rivers of the World, with Piranhas from Brazil, and Sharks of the Deep. There are also touch pools where children can feel a passing stingray. The aquarium offers special tours where people can get close to marine animals. Children nine years and older can put on a wetsuit and SeaTREK helmet to get face to face with the aquarium’s fish. Groups can learn more about African black-footed penguins with their Penguin Interaction Program.

The Musical Instrument Museum in nearby Phoenix has activities for all ages. First opening in 2010, this museum is the largest of its type in the world. It has more than 6,500 instruments on display from 200 countries. Museum guests can play some of the instruments in the experience gallery. The museum also hosts several performances where visitors can hear the sounds of the unique instruments. Instruments from big name musicians such as John Lennon, Carlos Santana and Maroon 5 are inside the artist gallery. The museum offers several classes for children, such as the Mini Music Makers for those ages 0-5 and the Junior Museum Guides for grades 6-12.

The Big Surf Waterpark is a popular place to take the family on the warmer summer days. This waterpark has a few bragging rights as it was the first to have a wave pool in the U.S. Families with toddlers can head to the Captain Cook’s Landing where the kids can play on pool animal structures. Smaller children can slide down the rainbow colored Otter Slides in Bora Bora Bay. The daredevils of the group will enjoy the many water slides, including The Black Hole, Tahitian Twisters or Hurricane slides. The wave pool is still open, and visitors can rent boogie boards and surf boards.

By: Jeremy Alderman

Top 5 Energy Efficiency Tips

Top 5 Energy Efficiency Tips

Whether you live in Arizona or Wisconsin, energy costs always play an important point in the household budget. Small changes can make a big difference in keeping your energy usage low. Here are the top 5 energy saving tips:

  1. Cooling

Did you know that raising your thermostat by just 1 degree saves you 2-3% on energy cooling costs? Here are some easy steps to keep your house cooler: use the ceiling fans when entering a room and turn up the thermostat a few degrees. Make sure there’s no air leak through exterior walls or ceilings and tightly seal around windows, doorframes and sill plates if necessary. An easy way to save money is to shift your energy use to lower cost off-peak hours and to avoid running major appliances at the same time during the on-peak hours. Have your air conditioner serviced yearly and and change out air filters monthly.

  1. Heating

Even though Arizona winters are relatively mild, you still might want to do the following things in order to conserve energy: open your blinds during the day to let in the sun and then close them at night to hold in the heat and use an extra blanket to keep you warm while you’re sleeping. Cooking in the winter provides heat, but don’t use the oven as the main heat source and turn off the exhaust fans when finished with cooking. A simple trick is also to switch ceiling fans running counterclockwise in the winter months so that warm air circulates down.

  1. Water Heating

Key point here is: hot water uses a lot of energy. So whenever hot water isn’t really necessary, use cold water – this goes for rinsing dishes as well as clothes. Adjust the load setting on your washing machine for smaller loads to save water if possible. Using a low-flow showerhead can make a big difference in a family of four as well as not letting water run when you are shaving or washing dishes.

  1. Pool and Spa

If you live in Arizona chances are high you have pool. Did you know that your pool might be one of your largest consumers of electricity? If you have a heated pool, turn off the heater when you know you won’t use your pool for an extended period and look into using a pool cover in order to prevent water from evaporating. Variable-speed pool pumps not only run cooler and last longer, but they are also quieter than standard pumps. Lots of energy also gets wasted with spas. If possible lower the water temperature and cover your spa when not in use.

  1. Lighting

An easy way to reduce your electricity bills is to use energy-efficient lighting. Turn off your lights when leaving the room and switch to LEDs or use timers that automatically switch lights on or off for you. LEDs not only last at least 15 times longer than traditional light bulbs, but also emit 90% less heat.

by: Patricia Madigan




6  Tips to Make Your Sweet Home Also a Save One

6  Tips to Make Your Sweet Home Also a Save One

You moved into a new home – congratulations! Once you unpack and have settled in, you should run through a home safety checklist to make sure you and your family are as secure as possible in your sweet home. Run through at least the following steps:

1. Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Install at least one smoke alarm and Carbon monoxide alarms on each level and in each sleeping area. Make sure the smoke alarms are less than 10 years and the carbon monoxide detectors less than 7 years old and test and clean the alarms monthly. Change batteries as needed or at least annually.

2. Electrical Cords & Appliances

Electrical cords should not be frayed or cracked and you should avoid having electrical cords under rugs or run across doorways. Instead of using extension cords you might want to consider adding more electrical outlets and large and small appliances should be plugged directly into wall outlets. Keep the clothes dryer lint filter and venting system clean.

3. Home Heating

Hire a chimney sweep and have the chimney and furnace inspected and cleaned annually by a professional. Furniture and other easy to catch fire items should be at least 3 feet from wall heaters, fireplaces and baseboards. If you have a fireplace put the ashes outdoors in a covered metal container at least 3 feet from anything that could easily catch fire. Water heaters should be inspected annually and the temperature should be set not higher than 120 degrees. When using space heaters make sure to never use extension cords.

4. Candles

This should be common sense, but: candles should be in sturdy fire-proof containers and extinguished before leaving the room or going to bed. Never leave your kid or pet unattended with candles.

5. Fire Extinguishers

It’s a simple thing to do, yet most homeowners don’t have a fire extinguisher. Keep one on every level and in the kitchen and learn how to use them, so you are prepared and comfortable using them if necessary. Replace as needed.

6. Home Escape Plan

The most important tip is to have an escape plan. If possible, figure out two ways out of each room. This could mean one exit is through the window if necessary. If you live in a two-story home, you might consider buying a rescue ladder. When escaping make sure you crawl low to the floor to avoid toxic smoke and once you’re out, stay out! Have a chosen meeting place in front of your house. Make sure every member of your household knows the home escape plan in advance and practice it together at least once.

by: Patricia Madigan

5 Tips to Improve Your Home Appraisal  

5 Tips to Improve Your Home Appraisal  

A low appraisal is what every home seller fears. In order to not be unpleasantly surprised by a lower-than-expected value of your home you should plan and prepare the following steps before the appraiser arrives at your door:

1. Ask If They Are Local

A homeowner cannot specifically choose an individual appraiser but they can request an appraiser with field experience in the market where the home is. If your appraiser doesn’t know the local area, creating a list of comparables of your area can be helpful (see tip number 5).

2. Tidy Up the House

Although technically an appraiser isn’t supposed to take the appearance of the home into consideration as much as the actual condition of the home, you still want to make sure your home is in good show condition for the appraisal. You want your home to look clean and offer great curbside appeal, so keep your landscape well maintained, cars out of the driveway to minimize the appearance of clutter and give the appraiser access to your entire home.

3. Make the Appraiser’s Visit a Pleasant One

Don’t go crazy here, but do the simple things that will make the appraiser feel comfortable and your home inviting. Adjust the home’s temperature and lock up your pets if you have them.

4. Make a Cheat Sheet of All Updates and Upgrades

Keep and maintain an itemized list of all updates and upgrades done to your home, especially those improvements that aren’t noticeable like electric, plumbic and a new roof. Pay attention to the upgrades that will increase your ROI. If you are planning to update the house, be careful to not over-improve your home. Cost may not equal value and whatever you spent does not necessarily translate to a dollar for dollar value increase.

5. Prepare Comps

Keep comparables from homes similar to yours on hand to show the appraiser; if you aren’t working with a real estate agent to help you, keep the following in mind: don’t just search for comps that will best drive up the value of your home. Appraisers will search for comps that are most similar to the subject property in size, location, construction etc.  Before representing comps ask yourself if the comps would be a good replacement and similar enough that a buyer would theoretically consider buying them instead of the subject property. The comps should also be located in the same neighborhood, be of somewhat similar size and be recent.