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Home Improvement Category

Facing Hurricane Season Again

Palm Trees After A Hurricane

It’s a fact of life here that at some time we will have another big storm. May as well be as ready as you can before the inevitable long lines everywhere make preparations even harder. All local television will broadcast updates 24/7 and reiterate what you need to have and do, but it’s better to have to deal with only the last-minute items around your home.

If you live in a single family home you can prune trees and shrubs and harvest heavy fruits, coconuts and dry palm fronds so the city can haul them away before the action begins. Decide how you can protect landscaping and very large outdoor potted plants and consider creating a space indoors for movable containers.

Unless you have impact resistant windows make sure you have every nut and bolt needed for your shutters, as well as heavy-duty gloves, ladders, and W-D 40. You can also check for a specialized drill bit to speed up tightening those bolts.

If you don’t have either of the above, get thee to a lumber supply place and talk to someone who can help with a temporary plan for your home’s protection.

Gather your important documents and policies and store everything together in a watertight container. In this age of baying bills online, it makes sense to schedule future payments in case the electricity is out for an extended time.

For complete checklists of everything you’ll need visit the National Hurricane Center site. Taking steps now can mean one less family – yours – in line when the inevitable happens again.

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Coconut Grove is a unique village, and you need a hyper-local specialist working for you here. Whether you are selling, buying, renting or investing I can help you make the right decisions. Call me at 305 794.6570 or leave me a note.


The 5 Best Things to Renovate or Upgrade for Return-On-Investment

Whether you are about to put your home on the market or just feel it needs “something” to rekindle that old love, you don’t necessarily have to spend a huge amount of money to effect a big change. There are certain things that have an impact well beyond their dollar amount, and in a lot of cases can be done by a skilled DIYer!

Think about curb appeal when upgrading your home

To maximize return-on-investment for renovations and upgrades your priorities should be:

  1. Paint outside and inside. Use modern neutral colors that won’t lock people into your style.
  2. Upgrade the kitchen and bathrooms. If they are dated or tired realize that kitchens return between 79%-88% and bathrooms between 82%-96% of their cost. One of the best improvements you can make is to add a second bathroom to a one bedroom house if there is existing space under the roof. This should only be done if the new bathroom fits organically into the existing floorplan and doesn’t scream “this space used to be the other half of a bedroom”. It has to flow with the house.
  3. Improve light fixtures, faucets, shower heads, cabinet knobs and pulls, light-switch and outlet covers, a/c grills, door knobs and anything that looks too used.
  4. Curb appeal. Don’t go overboard on expensive landscaping but make sure the first impression is great. Some inexpensive seasonal plants from the garden store will work wonders.
  5. Fix what is obviously broken. Fix screens, leaky faucets, leaky ductwork, fences, mailboxes, non-functioning blinds and shades, window locks and door knobs. Some of these may not be broken, but look at everything with an impersonal eye . Polish, tighten, glue, nail down, shore up, and do anything else that will make your home look fresh and well-kept.

Not on the list above because they aren’t an upgrade or renovation but they have maximum impact is to clean like the Queen of England is on her way over and declutter, declutter, declutter. You will wish you’d already done this when you pack for the move and they are 100% free!

Before doing any work, design carefully and plan the execution in detail. Use good materials. Don’t expect to get you money back on highly-customized work. Most of all, don’t eliminate options for the next owners when you upgrade.

And do keep in mind that if an upgrade will improve your standard of living and enjoyment it might be worth doing even if you don’t get it back!

I have a record of helping my clients make huge changes to their homes with very little money. I’d be happy to consult with you, too. Give me a call at 305 794.6570 or leave me a note.

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Summertime Money-Saving Tips

Ways to Save Money on Your House

I think we all open that bill from Florida Power and Light with trepidation. As the summer heat endures we depend on our air conditioners like a fish does water, and for that, we pay!

There are many ways to fight the bill that are free or very inexpensive we all can do. And there are some bigger-ticket actions we can take.

Here are some no or low-cost measures for keeping the electric bill lower:

  • Turn things OFF! We have so many appliances and electronics that sit in “ready” mode that we don’t use every day. Think about what doesn’t need to be plugged in all the time. A great example is your cellphone charger which always draws a trickle of power.
  • Turn off lights and ceiling fans when nobody is in the room. The slight boost when turned back on is negligible and equals less than staying on all the time. And make sure those fans are blowing air DOWN.
  • Lock your windows. Most windows have a weather seal no matter what type they are, and locking them makes the contact tighter. Also, make sure the window and door seals are in good shape and not worn down or misshapen.
  • Close a/c registers in unused rooms, or at least lessen the flow of cool air into those rooms.
  • Adjust drapes and shades to keep direct sunlight out of the house.
  • Hang-dry your laundry outdoors on sunny days.
  • Close the damper if you have a wood-burning fireplace.

For a little money the following can decrease your bill:

  • Let’s assume you already change your a/c filters monthly. Now consider shading – not blocking –  that compressor outside from the direct burning sunshine.
  • Install ceiling fans where there are none. Did you know the fan doesn’t actually lower the tempurature, but the moving air and drying moisture (think sweat) makes you feel cooler.
  • Shade – not block – the unit’s outdoor compressor.
  • Install refective films on windows and/or consider solar screens.

The more expensive fixes undoubtedly have the most impact over time, so if you can’t do these immediately think about getting to them when you can.

  • Plant shade trees, specifically on the south and west sides of your property
  • Insulation:  Make sure you have insulation at least in the attic. It’s estimated that undiscovered openings in walls, floors and the roof account for about 45% of cooling loss.
  • Tankless Hot Water Heaters:  Because these provide hot water only when it’s needed, they remove the need for a big tank of hot water waiting to be used.
  • Energy Efficient Windows:    These stop unwanted cooling loss and they can also block harmful UV rays that fade carpets and furniture. 
  • Water Circulation System:  How much water goes down the drain while you are waiting for it to warm up?  It’s estimated that about 25 to 30 gallons of water daily can be wasted  this way, 10,000 to 14,000 gallons annually.   A water circulation system automatically recirculates colder water back to your water heater until it’s hot enough for use.

I’ve been playing a game with FPL for years. Every month I try to lower my bill, even if it’s only by $1. The satisfaction I get is, as they say, priceless!

If you have real estate needs I’m here for you. Call me at 305 794.6570 or leave me a message here.

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