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Simple Home Exterior Updates That Make a Big Difference

Most homeowners save their home improvement budget for the interior of their house. They paint their
living room or finally get new carpet in the basement. After all, they spend most of their time indoors.

However, years of wear and tear can leave your home exterior looking dirty and dated. You may think
exterior updates require too much energy, but small, simple updates can make a big difference.

Here are some exterior updates that can make a big aesthetic impact for your home.

Clean Up

Start your home improvement with a cleanup. Simple maintenance can amp your home’s curb appeal at nearly
no cost to you. You can power-wash the exterior or put fresh mulch in your flowerbeds. You may also want to
clean up the weed area near your driveway. 

Simple cleanup projects will help your home look more fresh and new. These projects can be done in an
afternoon, but they create an instant impact.

Revamp the Landscaping

How well you keep up your yard heavily influences the aesthetics of your house’s exterior. Before you
decide to update paint or siding, look around your yard. A house with a dirty porch or weeds in the cracks of
the sidewalk looks worn and old. Trim the grass and rake the fallen leaves. Find a secluded area for your
garbage cans.

Then look at your home from the road and create a landscape design. If your budget permits, you may want
to redo the walkway to your porch or add shrubs along the front of your home.

Try to create a balance of plants and lawn. Too much sod makes a yard look bland. You can create a smooth
transition to your house with plants that slowly get taller. This design helps unify the landscape and the
home.

Update the Siding

Small exterior updates will only last so long. Every few years you may need to take on a bigger project. A
high-impact exterior update you can undertake is to replace your siding. Your siding plays a huge role in
your home’s exterior look as well as your home’s energy costs.

Make sure you invest in new, high-quality siding. You don’t want to skimp on the price now and have to
redo your siding again in a few years.

Updating the siding will also save you from having to repaint your home every few years. Homeowners often
encounter complications like rotted wood when they repaint older homes. Choosing new siding allows you to
start over with a durable material that gives your home a fresh look.

Choose a siding color that other homeowners will like in case you decide to sell your home. Also keep
simplicity and consistency in mind as you decide on the color scheme. Most designers recommend sticking with
just two or three colors for your home’s exterior. If you choose to use three colors, make sure the accent
color doesn’t overwhelm the trim and siding colors.

Polish the Details

Once you tackle the large projects for your home, polish the smaller portions. Small details can add style
and color to your home’s exterior.

Here are some ideas for details on your home you may want to update:

  • Front door
  • House numbers
  • Mounted mailboxes
  • Porch lights
  • Potted plants
  • Shutters
  • Trim

If you decide to paint these details, consider using the same color for each accent. For example, use the
same color for the front door, shutters, and garage door to create a cohesive result. Using consistent colors
draws attention to your home’s best exterior features.

Updating your home doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars or take years to complete. Create a list of
what you would like to update, and then save money towards each of those projects. Consult with a home
exterior expert when you’re ready to make the updates. 

Questions to Ask When You’re Buying New Windows

At some point, you might choose to upgrade your home’s windows to lower your energy bill or to update your
home’s style. But with so many window styles to choose from, you may need help finding windows that best fit
your needs.

Before you decide which windows you want, make sure you take the time to research all of your options.
Thorough research includes asking the right questions, so below, we list some suggestions for questions you
can ask yourself to narrow down your search.

What Window Features Do I Want?

Over the past several decades, window manufacturers have made many practical and aesthetic improvements to
window designs. Some features automatically come with most windows, like locks and screens. However, many
homeowners choose to include additional features to help with durability and ease of use.

For example, storm windows help you protect your home against high winds or winter storms. Windows filled
with argon gas or manufactured with a low-E coating also help regulate temperature, which can help you save
on energy bills if you live in a particularly hot or cold climate.

Some manufacturers also offer custom window features with unique patterns and designs. Talk with your
window company to find out which features and color options fulfill your needs and help your home stand out.

What Type of Material Do I Want for My Window Frames?

Many homeowners use vinyl material for their window frames. However, you can also choose from several
other options depending on your needs and preferences. Some homeowners prefer wood windows with exterior
cladding made of aluminum or vinyl. Others choose low-maintenance fiberglass material.

Each material has its own set of pros and cons. To find a good fit for your home, talk with a
professional.

Are the Windows Energy Efficient?

If you want to save on your utility bills each month, make sure the windows you purchase are energy
efficient. Check for an Energy Star rating to ensure maximum energy savings.

In some cases, you can also get a tax rebate for purchasing Energy Star-rated windows. Ask your accountant
or window salesperson which rebates your government offers.

Will These Windows Match My Home’s Interior and Exterior Design?

Imagine what your new windows will look like on your home before you buy them. Do they blend well with
your home’s colors and material? Does the glass design complement your current exterior?

If you’re only replacing a few windows, don’t forget to match your new windows to your old ones. Compare
the two designs before you install the windows-you don’t want to realize your new windows don’t match your
other windows’ design after they’ve already been purchased and installed. 

What Is Included in the Windows’ Warranty?

Almost all window manufacturers offer some type of warranty for their windows. Check for how long the
warranty lasts and what damages it covers. Ideally, the warranty will cover your windows for at least 20
years.

Once you ask and answer these questions, you’ll be well on your way to
finding the right windows for your home.

Of course, as you research, additional questions may arise. Don’t forget to write these down so you can
ask your window installation company about them later. Experienced window professionals can answer your
questions and help you ensure that you don’t have any major concerns with your new windows.

As soon as you narrow down your window options, schedule a home visit with an installer. The installer
will give you a price estimate and help you enter the next stage of replacing your windows.

To learn more about window replacement and other home improvement projects, browse through the rest of our
blog.

5 Home Improvement Goals for The New Year

Every January, you carefully consider what you would like to improve on or do differently in the upcoming year. Maybe you’ll stop biting your nails. Perhaps you’ll visit another country. Or maybe you want to perfect your downward dog pose.

But remember that you don’t have to save all your best goals for New Year’s Day. Each day is a new opportunity to grow, learn and develop. Additionally, you don’t have to limit your resolutions to bettering yourself. You could extend your desire to change to improving the environment around you.

As you take a good hard look at what you want to fix this year, consider making the following home improvement goals. These resolutions not only improve your home’s resale value, but they help the environment, too.

1. Cut The Cutter

Psychologists agree that clutter stimulates the senses. It distracts us from our priorities, and it makes relaxation difficult. This year, you can save yourself a great deal of stress when you cut the clutter in your home.

Start by selling, donating, or throwing away unused clothes in your closet. Then gradually work your way to the outside of your home by pulling the weeds, trimming the trees, and mowing the lawn. When you feel ready, move to the garage and organize the tools, boxes, and equipment you have stashed on the shelves. The more clutter you clear, the better you’ll feel.

2. Improve Security

No matter if you live in the big city or a small town, your home can become a target for thieves and vandals. Although you may have the habit of locking your doors at night, the locks won’t do you much good if you have an old door attached to a weakened frame.

To improve security this year, hire a professional to replace your entry doors with solid steel options and impact-resistant glass. If you want to take your efforts a step further, install wireless cameras near your doors and windows to record and alert you to any suspicious activity.

Once you upgrade your security, don’t forget to contact your insurance provider. Many companies offer lower premiums to homeowners with extra security features.

3. Lower Utility Bills

Your air conditioner works hard during the summer to ensure you stay cool and comfortable. But every time you turn down the thermostat, you lose a significant portion of that cold air through your windows, doors, plumbing vents and recessed lights.

If you want to save money on air conditioning, have a professional inspect your home for air leaks and seal the gaps as needed. Replace windows with Energy Star-rated options, and consider installing extra insulation and ventilation to improve your home’s energy efficiency.

4. Amp the Curb Appeal

Your home has one chance to make a good first impression. What visitors see at a glance affects your home’s overall resale value.

If you plan to sell your home in the near future, you can take steps to boost your curb appeal. Cleaning, repairing, and replacing the siding can make your home look like new. And planting a few flowers in the garden can also give your home a cozier, more charming appearance.

For more ways to boost your home’s curb appeal, check out our earlier blog post.

5. Go Green

As you improve your doors, windows, siding, and insulation, you significantly reduce your carbon footprint. But you can make your home even more environmentally friendly this year.

To start, make a goal to gradually replace burnt-out incandescent bulbs with fluorescent light bulbs, which last longer and use less energy. Next, invest in a programmable or smart thermostat to better control your heating and cooling usage. Finally, upgrade your water heater, refrigerator, dishwasher or other large appliance. Newer, Energy Star appliances drive down energy costs and function more efficiently than older models.

These five home improvement goals should give you a good start for the new year. And with a little creativity, you can find even more ways to improve your home and your life.

Should You Install a Walk-in Tub? Answer These 4 Questions to Find Out

After a long day, few activities feel as relaxing or rejuvenating as a long soak in the bathtub. But plenty of standard bathtubs are too shallow, slippery, or small to enjoy properly.

One common solution for an undersized tub is to install a walk-in model. These large tubs typically feature a hinged door, similar to walk-in showers. But walk-in tubs also boast large capacities, permanent seating, and sometimes even jets or other special features. These characteristics optimize the way you enjoy the therapeutic benefits of hot water and a bubble bath.

Many homeowners find that a walk-in tub sounds great, but they don’t know if such a big bathroom appliance will suit their needs or home. In this blog, we make the decision process simple. Just answer the four questions below to determine whether or not a walk-in bath represents a worthwhile investment for your home.

1. Does Using Your Current Tub Feel Unsafe?

The most obvious reason to upgrade to a walk-in tub is if you or another member of your family cannot bathe safely in the current bathtub. Walkin tubs tend to have the most benefit for individuals with one or more of the following health concerns:

  • Debilitating chronic pain or injury
  • Mobility issues
  • Old age

If you’re unable to enjoy a soak without some aid, you may benefit from a walk-in tub since these models often come equipped with handrail, seats, and textured surfaces to prevent falls.

2. Does Your Bathroom Have Adequate Dimensions?

While each walk-in unit differs from its counterparts, most tubs have similar dimensions. The average tub has the following sizing characteristics:

  • Length of approximately 60 inches
  • Walls of at least three feet long
  • Width of 26 to 32 inches

If your bathroom won’t quite accommodate this size tub, your supplier may have an extension kit to fit the space.

But you might be surprised at the manageable size of most walk-ins-plenty of models can smoothly replace a standard tub without a major renovation.

3. Do You Have an Efficient Plumbing System?

Perhaps one of the drawbacks of a walk-in tub is that the bather typically has to remain inside while the bath fills and drains. If you have a slow faucet, it could pose a profoundly uncomfortable scenario.

Before you install a walk-in, you’ll want a plumber to evaluate the bathroom system. Additionally, opt for a fast-fill fixture and maintain the drain to ensure short fill and empty times.

4. Do You Need Advanced Water Therapy Often?

Hydrotherapy has many benefits, from reduced pain to enhanced mood. Many individuals opt for hydrotherapy to help them recover from surgery or injury, age gracefully, and manage chronic joint or muscle pain.

Unless you have a Jacuzzi, a walk-in tub offers your best option for regular water therapy at home. Just be sure to look for a model with both air and water jets when you choose a tub. Air jets alone can feel perfectly pleasant, but they do not provide enough pressure to qualify as hydrotherapy.

If you answered yes to most or all of our questions, a walk-in tub may be a great investment for you. Ready to install your new bathtub? Reach out to a supplier to find out more about specific models. Prepare your bathroom’s dimensions so you can rule out models that have too-large of a capacity at your first consultation.

Still not sure how you feel about a nontraditional tub? Consider talking to a bathroom fixture supplier or installation contractor. These experts can evaluate your specific situation and make recommendations tailored to your home and family.

For more information on renovating and improving your home for safety, efficiency, and comfort, read our other blog posts.

Winter Holiday Decorating: Making Your Windows Merry

Christmas is coming up, and you’re excited to get decorating. You think you may want to try something
different this year. While your Christmas lights have a fun and classic feeling, you want to show more unique
decorations.

Windows are a perfect setting for beautiful and playful winter decorations. In this blog, we give you some
ideas for Christmas decorations that will fit wonderfully in your home’s windows.

Indoors

You can place window decorations either inside or outside, depending on the nature of the decorations.
Indoors, you can take advantage of the window’s structure by placing items artfully on the sill or hanging
them from above.

Indoor decoration options include the following:

Hung Ornaments

Have too many ornaments to fit on your Christmas tree? Hang them in your window instead.

Stick some hooks underneath the top window sill and hang the ornaments either directly from the hooks or
with some ribbon. Use different lengths of ribbon to give the ornaments a more uneven and free look.

Ribbon

Use various colors and sizes of ribbons to decorate your windows. Curl the lengths to give them a fun,
bouncy look, or drape them nicely like curtains.

Mix and match different types of ribbons, tie them together, and have fun with them. Let your kids help
out too for an exciting family activity.

Paper Snowflakes

One of the easiest and most classic winter decorations is the paper snowflake. Take your time meticulously
cutting beautiful snowflakes or make it more festive by including the entire family.

Use tape or sticky tack to attach the snowflakes to the window. You can also attach all the snowflakes
together to make a lovely homemade curtain.

Candles

Whether it’s real or fake, a lovely, warm flickering candle in the window gives your home an Old World
charm.

You can find flameless candles with flickering bulbs at any craft store if you have pets or kids, or you
can use those beautiful candles you got for a wedding present.

Seasonal Plants

Place a couple poinsettias in a line on the window sill or a couple of small fir trees. Pinecones also
make lovely winter decorations, especially if you cover them with glitter or fake snow.

You can also incorporate these plants into other indoor decorations. For example, you can put ornaments on
the miniatures trees or hang pinecones with ribbon.

Outdoors

Outdoors, you can attach decorations to the window itself, as well as the shutters or siding around the
window.

Ideas for outside window decorations include the following:

Fir Tree Branches

If you’re using a real tree this year, cut off a couple boughs and use them to decorate the bottom of the
window frame.

Include pinecones, ribbon, or ornaments to give the scene a little more color. This addition to your
decorations gives your home a cozy, old-timey feel.

Wreaths

Collect or make a couple of smaller wreaths and put them in your windows.

Decorate the wreaths with pinecones and ornaments to give them a little more pop. Hang them at different
heights to make them more dynamic.

Bundles of Ornaments

In addition to putting ornaments on boughs and wreaths, you can also make boughs and wreaths out of
nothing but ornaments.

You can even make other bundles of ornaments of various shapes and sizes. See what you can put together
and go for it.

Window Painting

Of course, when you’re talking about decorating your windows, you have to mention window painting.

Give the windows frosted edges or paint a whole Christmas scene. Make it elegant or make it fun. If you’re
having a particularly wet winter, you can do your window painting indoors.

Be the talk of the neighborhood this holiday season with your fun and one-of-a-kind Christmas window
decorations.

6 Renovations to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

You’re about to start the huge project of renovating your home. Maybe the house has a couple decades on it
and needs to be updated, or maybe you feel ready for a change. Either way, you might as well save yourself
money by making your home more energy efficient in the process.

Here are six simple and effective renovations to lessen your carbon footprint.

1. Install Additional Insulation

Experts say many homes do not have enough insulation, so start making your home more energy efficient by
adding more insulation.

This renovation’s difficulty varies according to your home’s design and architecture. But even bulking up
your attic insulation will make a difference in both your power bill and your carbon footprint. If possible,
add insulation to your finished basement, floors, ceilings, and walls as well-you should notice a major
difference in your home’s comfort and energy savings.

2. Seal Air Leaks and Ductwork

Air and heat escape through any leaks or cracks in a home. In fact, this issue accounts for most
abnormally high energy bills.

When you renovate your house, check every nook and cranny for leaks and seal them up. Check around the
windows and doors in particular. You may also find leaks around outlets, in chimneys, in recessed lighting
fixtures, and in the attic.

Old and leaky ductwork can make certain rooms, like attics and crawlspaces, stuffy and uncomfortable. Seal
the ductwork when you add insulation to ensure airflow actually gets to these rooms rather than staying in
the walls.

3. Update Windows and Doors

Newer windows and doors prevent heat transfer and air leakage to make your home more efficient. But before
you update your home’s windows and exterior doors, make sure that the size, style, location, and design fit
into your final renovations plans. Updates that do not match the end goal for your home’s design simply make
the process longer and more difficult.

Once your door and window plans fit with the rest of your renovations, consider energy-efficient designs.
Most windows come as two panes these days, which can make a considerable difference if you’re replacing old
windows. Talk to a windows and doors contractor about other energy-efficient options as well.

Don’t forget to use your windows as natural lighting during daylight hours once you install them. This
tactic reduces electricity bills and naturally heats your home in the winter.

4. Choose Low-Flow Spouts and Showerheads

If you’re adding in new bathrooms or replacing old showerheads, consider installing low-flow showerheads
that use less water and cut down on your water bills. These fixtures maintain the same water pressure without
creating excess waste. Go the extra mile and install low-flow faucets in all your sinks as well.

5. Upgrade the Water Heater

Water heating represents one of your largest expenses when it comes to energy bills. To save money and
energy, upgrade your old water heater to a new high-efficiency model. This way, you won’t have to wait as
long for your water to heat. For even greater efficiency, talk to a contractor about relocating the water
heater so it sits closer to the shower, washing machine, or dishwasher.

6. Upgrade Heating and Cooling Systems

The only expenses higher than water heating are space heating and cooling. Older HVAC models have to work
harder to maintain or change your home’s temperature, so they take more energy.

Choose from the many models specifically designed for energy efficiency. Also, consider installing a
programmable thermostat and ceiling fans to help drive down energy costs.

 

These renovations represent the most basic and easiest ways to make your home more energy efficient. Talk
to expert contractors in each industry about your options and get started on your renovation plans today.

5 Home Improvement Projects to Complete Before Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner, and you can’t wait to carve pumpkins and hand out candy to delightful
ghosts and vampires.

But what’s this?

Your house already looks like it fell out of a classic horror film: broken windows, flickering lights, and
missing shingles. Although the look certainly suits the season, you don’t want to scare potential visitors
too soon.

If you want to invite happy haunters to your home, make sure you complete the following improvement
projects before All Hallows’ Eve.

1. Repair Cracked Windows

Broken glass poses a hazard to you, your family, and your guests. Furthermore, even the tiniest cracks
allow air to flow from your home, which means your heating and cooling system has to work harder to maintain
a comfortable temperature.

Hire a professional to replace any cracked panes or swap out old windows entirely. If you want to save on
your utilities every month, don’t forget to ask about energy-efficient window selections.

2. Oil Squeaky Doors

Do your doors creak and groan whenever you open them? Wear, tear, and settling may be the culprit.
Fortunately, you can usually fix a squeak with minimal effort. Simply tap a nail at the bottom of the hinge
to push the hinge pin up and out. Then lightly lubricate the pin with petroleum jelly and dab a little into
the pin slot. Replace the hinge pin, pull out the nail, and wipe off excess lubricant.

Have a different door problem? Perhaps your door mysteriously closes on its own, or you have a door that
sticks whenever you open it. In these cases, talk to a contractor about repairs or replacement options.

3. Wash Dirty Siding

Dirt, dust, and other debris build up on your siding and age your home’s appearance by several years. To
make your siding look like new again, use your garden hose to rinse away the outer layer of muck. For more
stubborn stains, dampen a wrap or soft-bristled brush with warm soap water and wipe each panel, starting from
bottom to top (to minimize streaking). Rinse often.

As you clean your siding, look out for dented vinyl or cracked wooden panels, since these tell-tale signs
allow water and condensation to collect inside your home. Have an expert replace these damaged sections as
needed.

4. Inspect for Faulty Wiring

Flickering lights not only look spooky-they also pose a safety hazard. When you frequently notice multiple
lights flicker at the same time, you can usually blame power arcing. Power arcing occurs when wire
connections sit close to each enough to each other that they generate an electrical current.But arcing also
creates heat, which increases the likelihood of a fire.

Talk to an electrician as soon as you notice multiple lights flickering at once. He or she will pinpoint
and fix the problem, as well as point out other electrical hazards such as a failing switch or abnormal power
load.

5. Replace Missing Shingles

If an early autumn storm ripped out a few of your shingles, don’t wait until you see the next dark cloud
to replace them. The longer your roof stays exposed to sun and bad weather, the greater the likelihood of
mold growth, rot, and leaks.

Fortunately, you can replace and refasten asphalt shingles with the right tools. To start, use a
screwdriver to take off shingles directly above the missing patch. Then position the replacement shingle onto
the bottom row so it overlaps the one directly beneath it. Make sure your shingle aligns with those on either
side before hammering it into place with a galvanized roofing nail.

Apply a little roofing cement to the nail hole, and then repeat the entire process. When you reach the
last shingle, use a utility knife to remove the nail strip, apply roofing cement to the underside of the
shingle, and then carefully place the shingle beneath the shingles on the row above.

If you don’t feel comfortable making the repairs yourself, feel free to hire a roofing contractor to do
the job for you.

 

Once you’ve made these five repairs, go wild with your Halloween decorations and enjoy a spooky good time.

Charles Gundram story

On Monday, July 27, 2015, Charles Gundram called Bath Planet to request that we come to his home to discuss converting a standard bathtub to a shower as his wife had just gotten bad news about her health. He expressed an interest in getting the work completed as soon as possible. The appointment was set up and the representative went to see “Charlie” late that same morning.

While meeting with the representative, Charlie stated that his wife was at a 24-hour nursing facility and was due to be released in 21 days. If she were to stay longer it would cost him thousands of dollars a day. The representative explained that Bath Planet would do everything that could be done to meet the deadline and allow Charlie to bring her home… on or before the deadline.

After coming to an agreement with Bath Planet, Charlie said that he had already met with other companies and had two other companies to meet with before he made a final decision stating he had to be sure that the work was completed and that the cost of the work met his budget. The Bath Planet representative contacted his manager who in turn called the manufacturing facility to ask for an expedited order due to the special circumstances.

The Bath Planet manager was promised that the material would be delivered within 2 weeks due to the special circumstance. All of this was completed within 24 hours. The Bath Planet representative contacted Charlie on Tuesday to tell him the good news and went to visit him on Wednesday. An agreement was signed and Bath Planet went to work.

During the time between the first visit and the agreement being signed, the Bath Planet production manager began to see what he could do to expedite the process. Due to the fact that the new shower was white and had chrome fixtures, the process to put the material together was made possible with a result that was not expected by the customer. The production manager was able to complete the order with what was in stock, schedule the installation and complete the project on Friday, the same week that the first appointment with the homeowner had taken place.

Due to the fact that only 30% of the project was collected as a down payment, Charlie went to his Credit Union for a cashier’s check, on Thursday, to pay the balance. Rather than waiting to give the balance to Bath Planet on Friday when the work was completed, he went to the office in Lutz, Florida and asked for the representative. The representative, his manager and the owner of the company met Charlie in the lobby to see how they could help. Charlie presented the check during a very moving experience for all that were involved.

Since the job has been completed, the Bath Planet representative has been back to see Charlie and his wife. Because Bath Planet was able to deliver and complete the project in a very expeditious manner, Charlie’s wife was able to come home early from the nursing facility giving Charlie and his wife more time with each other as she lives out her life in the comfort of her home. Needless to say, the new Bath Planet customers are very satisfied with their new shower and are very willing to tell everyone that will listen about this Bath Planet story.

How to Give Your House Curb Appeal

One of the most important factors of a house is its curb appeal. Just ask any real estate agent and they’ll tell you the same thing. Curb appeal greatly affects the value of your house and is especially important if you plan on selling it in the near future.

So just what is curb appeal? Curb appeal is the wow-factor of your house. When people are driving down your street, you want them to slow down a little as they pass your house to soak in the glory. “What gives a house great curb appeal?” you may ask, well there are a number of things:

Awesome Exterior

Whether your house has brick, vinyl, or any other type of siding, you want it to be in tip-top shape. Siding with splotches of black rotting wood or faded paint look terrible and greatly decrease your house’s curb appeal. Not only does shoddy siding look awful, but it also can lead to energy leaks that cost you a great deal of money during the summer and winter months. Do plenty of research on what type of siding works best for you and get a contractor or three to come out and give you their opinion and a quote on fixing your exterior.

Once you’re sure that your siding is in good shape, you’ll want to have a good coat of paint put on it. Before you decide on your own, or have your tacky Aunt Beatrice tell you what color to paint it, make sure you talk to a few realtors to find out what colors and styles of paint are currently appropriate and desirable for your neighborhood. Just because you love the color turquoise does not mean painting your house that color will give it great curb appeal; it might actually make your house look much less appealing.

Windows

Windows are where it’s at when it comes to curb appeal. Make sure all of your windows are kept very clean and are in good shape. A broken window is a HUGE no-no when trying to build your house’s curb appeal. People love houses that have giant, beautiful windows, but if your house doesn’t have these you can work around it with custom shutters or by accenting them with your garden. Having your curtains or blinds drawn in your front living areas will make your house look nicer; just make sure everything inside your house that can be seen through the windows in the evening is in good order.

Once again, I highly recommend working with a contractor that really knows windows when replacing them. A window is a very important component of your exterior both cosmetically and functionally. Make sure all of your windows not only look great, but are also functional (open and close completely). A window that doesn’t open can be dangerous during a fire and one that doesn’t lock can be a security breach!

Garden

Now gardening is not something that we’re all good at. I have what my wife calls a “brown thumb,” meaning everything I touch that is of a botanical nature is bound to die within a few days. If this is the case, enlist some help. That being said, gardening is something that most people love to do, as it is a relaxing outdoor activity. If you don’t have any sort of plant life in your yard, your curb appeal is probably just as dead as the tomato plants I tried to plant in my backyard last week. There is a plethora of gardening blogs, both organic and conventional, that will let you know what to plant in your area during this time of year.

If you need ideas of what kind of garden looks good in your area, just drive around your neighborhood and take notice of the gardens that jump out to you. Take note of what people are doing with their gardens and how they bring out the best in the person’s house. Many people grow vegetables in their front yard, making their gardens not only cosmetically appealing, but useful, too.

Your Front Porch

How many times have you driven by a house and seen a porch that looks so cool that you wished you had one just like it to hang out on? Even if you don’t spend much time on your front porch, you should make it look like a place that you would want to. If you have the room, get interesting decorations and seating for your front porch. Seasonal decorations for your front door that don’t look too tacky are a must. Rocking chairs or porch swings, etc. always make a front porch seem more like a place one would want to spend time; and part of the whole idea of curb appeal is making your house look like a place that one would want to spend time, is it not?

Other Tips

Okay, so you’ve got the awesome siding/exterior, paint job, windows, garden, and porch going, what next? Well, here are some other things you need to keep in mind when looking to boost your curb appeal:

  • No trash or clutter ANYWHERE in your yard… Ever! – instant curb appeal killer.
  • Keep all fences painted and in good order. – no gaps or missing posts allowed.
  • Pick up animal poop! – gross.
  • No broken down vehicles in yard or driveway – you’re not Jeff Foxworthy.
  • Mow/rake your lawn – You’d think this would be a no-brainer, but…
  • Political signs – This might be controversial, but save it for the voting booth.
  • Your cars affect your curb appeal – even if your car is older, wash it if it’s going to be parked in your driveway.
  • Your mailbox affects your curb appeal – whether on your porch or at the front of your yard.

I’m sure there are countless other things I could write about curb appeal, but this should at least give you some ideas on where to start. Now go get your house looking great!

Making a Homeowner’s Insurance Claim

Owning a home requires a lot of attention and periodic maintenance to keep everything in proper working order. Even if you are on top of all that needs to be done to keep your house in good shape like changing your AC filters, painting, sealing your deck, etc., there will inevitably be something that goes wrong. Anything from a severe weather storm to a burglar can cause damage to your home or the possessions within, leaving you with the need to contact your homeowner’s insurance company to file a claim. Here are a few things that you should keep in mind when filing a claim to help things run smoothly and ensure the best possible outcome.

File You Claim ASAP

By waiting around to file a claim after property is damaged or stolen, you are risking having your claim being denied by adjuster. Most insurance companies have a window of around 14 days to file a claim after damage occurs. Also, if you’re dealing with an issue such as a water leak, more damage could be caused by not being proactive such as mold or damage to wood from moisture. As soon as you notice damaged or stolen property, call your agent and discuss your best course of action.

Take Pictures

As soon as you notice that your property has been damaged, get out your phone and start taking pictures immediately. In most cases, the insurance company will send out an adjuster to take pictures, but it is a good idea to take some immediately, just in case. You never know when an adjuster will try to minimize the extent that your property is damaged to avoid paying out on a claim or reducing the claim payout. Also, these pictures can help you get proper estimates on repairs so you can decide if a claim is worth making or if you would be better off paying out of pocket instead.

Is It Worth It?

It is a good idea to get some estimates before filing a claim if the damage to your home does not look significant. Filing claims on your policy causes your premium to go up, and some insurance companies will even drop your coverage if you file what they consider to be an excessive amount of claims (in my case, I have three claims in the past three years and I am having trouble finding new coverage!). If you can afford to pay out of pocket for a repair that will not break the bank, go ahead and do it. While it is still always a good idea to discuss things with your insurance agent, repairs that cost just over the amount of your deductible are almost never worth filing.

Protect Yourself From Having to Make Claims

A lot of property damage is preventable. Trimming branches that hang over you or your neighbor’s house, installing smoke detectors, and putting in a security system are just a few of the things that can help protect your from being in a situation where you might have to make a claim on your policy.

Look Out For Yourself

During the claims process, you need to pay attention to everything that is going on. Make sure you look over all of the paperwork. Don’t let the extent of the damage or amount you’re being paid for it be minimized by the insurance company or claims adjuster. Often times, the insurance company will try to offer you a settlement or agreement that will let them get out of paying for the full claim. Don’t let them do that. Also, when reporting your claim, don’t add in what you think happened or what you think should be done about it- only report the FACTS of the situation. Mentioning that you think that there might be mold or some other thing going on with your property is always a bad idea. Also, never lie or be dishonest about what is going on- it will immediately have your claim denied and could land you in jail!

If you feel like you are being mistreated by your insurance company, don’t hesitate to let them know- but do so in a civil manner. Never except a check from your insurance company unless you are sure that it will cover the full extent of your damages. As a side note, some people would advise hiring a lawyer during this process. If there is a lot of money involved and you have a bad feeling about the way your claim is being handled, it might be worth doing so. Patience is a virtue, and it also happens to be something that you’ll need a lot of when dealing with an insurance company during your claims process. If you run out of patience, you could end up accepting an offer that won’t cover your repairs!

We serve West Florida &
Surrounding Areas

Morgan Exteriors, Inc. is a home remodeling company that services most of Tampa Bay Area. We are general contractors, however, we specialize in what we know and do best - Energy Efficient Replacement Windows, Doors, Solid-core Siding, Eaves and overhangs, and most exterior improvements.

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Morgan Exteriors

15915 N. Florida Ave., Lutz, FL 33549

Tel: 813-931-4663 or 727-502-5300