5 Tips for Getting Your Lawn Ready for Summer

5 Tips for Getting Your Lawn Ready for Summer

Lush green lawns don’t happen by accident, they come about with hard work and preparation.  That preparation starts in the spring as soon as the weather starts to warm up.  You need to start the spring cleanup once the ground thaws and that will go a long way to making sure that your yard is the envy of the neighborhood.  Here are 5 tips for getting your lawn ready for summer.

1. Clear Up the Clutter

Mother Nature can be brutal on your property, loads of snow and frost can wreak havoc on your grass, trees and plants.  Once the snows have gone it is time to assess the mess and start the cleanup around your property.  Get rid of all the broken branches and debris and have a good look at your lawn and see what needs to be done.

2. Rake and Aerate

You want to start raking your grass to get it ready to grow in the summer.  Areas that have thick overgrowth or long grass can be really thick and damp, that can keep the grasses underneath from getting much needed sunlight and oxygen.  You want to take this time to check and see if you have any fungus or molds.  You may find something called “snow mold” it is a grey or pink web like substance over your grass, don’t worry too much about it, it will go away once your grass dries out.  The grass may look brown and pretty ugly, don’t worry about that either the warm weather and sunshine will have it green again in no time.

3. Treat the Weeds

If you have crab grass or some other type of weeds that have managed to permeate the lawn in the fall and winter then now is the time to deal with it.  Crabgrass can be hard to get rid of.  You need to wait until the soil is warm enough before putting down a crab grass preventer.  If you are adding grass seed, then you will have to wait at least 8 weeks after that before putting it down.  Here is how to get rid of crabgrass.

4. Trim the Trees

Before you start planting the flowers you should make sure that you trim all of the trees and shrubs around your property.  It will help to encourage new healthy growth.  If you have never trimmed your own trees before then you should contact a tree service or landscape company to take care of it for you.

5. Tune-Up the Lawnmower

While the grass may not be ready to mow just yet you can take this time to tune-up your lawnmower and other garden tools to make sure that everything is in good working order.  Get string for the string trimmer, sharpen your gardening shears and generally making sure all of your gardening gear is ready.  You also want to take a look around the yard and get rid of old broken furniture, make sure your sprinkler system is good to go.

Getting the lawn ready as soon as the weather warms up is a sure fire way to make sure that you have a lush lawn come summer.  Work now and enjoy later!

Unexpected Costs During a Renovation Project

Unexpected Costs During a Renovation Project

You can budget your project down to the penny but unexpected renovation costs are as inevitable as death and taxes.  However there are some hidden costs that homeowners rarely think about but are a constant in every project.  Here are some things that you probably overlooked when you made up your budget.

Building Permits

Before you hammer a single nail you need to make sure that you have all of the building permits in place.  In most cases the contractor takes care of it for you as part of the project.  Make sure you communicate with your contractor so you know who is responsible for the permits.  Trying to get a permit after the fact can end up costing you even more.

Weeks of Take Out

Kitchen renovations can take weeks to complete, in the meantime you still have to feed your family.  That means a lot of takeout and dinners out.  Even if you have a partially intact kitchen it is still filled with dust and debris.  You might want to prepare lots of microwave friendly meals before you start your renovation or you can end up hating your favorite restaurant.

Dumpster Rentals

Construction and remodeling projects generate tons of garbage.  You can’t leave your old bathtub or cupboards at the curb for the regular trash service to pick up.  You are going to need a dumpster and dumpster rentals aren’t cheap.  You can expect to pay anywhere up to $1,000 depending on the size that you need.  If you are working with a contractor then they may include it in their pricing, if you’re planning on DIY then be prepared.

Professional Cleaning Services

Nothing makes a mess like home renovations, you will have a layer of dust over EVRYTHING.  Dust will get into the ductwork and even if you clean it will be back in hours.  Not to mention other messes that comes with construction.  You can save some cash by doing it yourself but if you want to move back into a freshly cleaned and renovated home then hire a cleaning service.  Post construction cleans cost more than regular residential cleaning services.  You can expect to pay anywhere from $0.10 – $0.25 per square foot of living space.

Hotels or Other Accommodations

Depending on how in depth your renovation is you may not be able to stay in your home.  If the plumbing or electrical needs to be shut off for any amount of time then you are going to need to find someplace else to stay.  If you have family or friends who will put you up, fantastic.  If not then you need to pay for a hotel or Airbnb in the meantime.

Higher Electricity Bills

Every aspect of your renovation uses energy from constantly running power tools to having the heat cranked up to dry the mud on the drywall.  Other aspects of the project will need the windows to be open for ventilation making your home colder.  Be prepared to pay more throughout the entire project.

Home renovations are expensive enough without any unexpected costs.  Include all of the above in your budget if you don’t want to be caught unaware.

How to Deal with a Bad Contractor

How to Deal with a Bad Contractor

One of the reasons that homeowners get intimidated by remodeling projects is the fear of getting ripped off and they don’t know how to deal with a bad contractor.  Let it be said that most contractors are honest, hardworking people but when you have hired the one that isn’t you need to know what your options are.  It can start with delays, poor workmanship or any number of reasons.  Before the situation gets any worse, here’s what you can do.

Get Rid of the Contractor

Alright, firing your contractor can be a bit complicated and you can’t just fire a contractor over personality conflicts.  If you do they can technically sue you over breach of contract so you don’t want to do that.  You need to be able to demonstrate that your contractor actually breached your agreement first.  Keep a detailed record of the times you believe the contractor breached the contract.  Examples can be not sticking to the renovation schedule or using shoddy building materials.

You will need to send a letter via registered mail asking them to rectify the mistakes or you will terminate the contract. Bear in mind that any money you have already spent with the contractor won’t be returned.  This is one reason that most people are hesitant to terminate a contractor and try and work things out first.

Arbitration

Standard contracts, even remodeling contracts have some type of arbitration clause that allow you to seek arbitration if you feel the contract has been breached.  It doesn’t cost much and you can still try it even if it isn’t written into your contract.  The BBB offers mediation services at a fairly low cost but there are drawbacks.  First of all you need to get the contractor to agree and that’s almost impossible.

Contact a Lawyer

This should be your absolute last resort, it is time consuming, expensive and only be done if it is a massive project.  If your contractor has taken the money and run then you may be able to get some sort of compensation from the contractor bond if it was required.  There are some states that have a recovery fund that licensing fees contribute to but you may end up spending more on legal fees than you will ever recover.  Small claims court may be a better option but they do cap the amount of money you can be awarded, you may have spent $50,000 with a contractor but small claims can only award you $5,000.  That being said, some is better than nothing.

File Complaints

There are a dozen or more websites where you can post a negative review, like Angie’s List or even on Google and let other people know about shady contractors.  You should first start with any state licensing boards along with the Better Business Bureau. None of it will do much to help you get your money back or your project finished but you can help to protect other homeowners.  It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to vet your contractor, you can literally save yourself tens of thousands of dollars with a simple Google search.

 

Where You Should Pressure Wash

Where You Should Pressure Wash

Any property, commercial or residential, needs regular maintenance in order to maintain the value and keep everything in good working order.  One of the ways to do that is with seasonal power washing.  If you have never even thought about washing the exterior of your home, you should know that power washing can help you get rid of mold, mildew, fungus, pests and of course dirt and debris.

Where You Should Pressure Wash

While you can pressure wash the entire exterior of your home there are some areas that you should pay special attention to. Let’s look at how annual pressure washing can help with the maintenance of your home.

Your Home’s Exterior

Compared to other exterior surfaces dirt really stands out on vinyl siding making your home look like it is unkempt.  Vinyl is also extremely common in residential homes, if they aren’t regularly power washed then they start to look old and rundown.  It isn’t just your homes appearance that you have to worry about but it can contribute to an unhealthy environment.

Make no mistake, brick homes also collect dirt but because it their darker color and textured surface they don’t show it as much as vinyl does.  That doesn’t mean you don’t need to pressure wash brick and stone regularly, not cleaning your bricks can mean they degrade over time.  You want to protect your property, so routine pressure washing along with some protective applications can have your home lasting for decades.

Your Roof

The roof of your home along with the gutters should all be power washed on an annual basis.  Your gutters get clogged up with leaves, branches and other debris and if it isn’t washed away you can end up with leaks, pests and flooding around your home because water isn’t draining off properly.  You can climb up a ladder and clear it all out by hand, but that will take all day or you can pressure wash and have the job done in 20 minutes.

Pressure washing your roof can help get rid of all of the dirt and debris but you also run the risk of doing damage to your shingles.  Don’t take on this job yourself rather work with a pressure washing company that knows how to do it properly.  If one or two of your shingles do get damaged it isn’t the end of the world, in all likelihood they need to be replaced anyway.  It is fairly inexpensive to replace a handful of shingles.

Driveways and Decks

Your driveway and patio areas are another spot that should be pressure washed regularly, they get every bit as dirty as your siding.  If you have a paved drive then pressure washing can remove oil stains and the like that will break down the asphalt over time.  Every year or every other year you can pressure wash your driveway and seal it to keep it looking new.

If you have a wooden deck in the backyard then that too should be pressure washed.  Decks need to be cleaned and sealed every year or so, pressure washing gets rid of the dirt, old stain and debris.  Then you can reseal them so they last for years.

Replacing Your Weather Stripping

Replacing Your Weather Stripping

Weather stripping is placed around windows and doors to help keep warm air in winter from leaking out of your home.  With properly applied weather stripping you can keep your home warm at the same time lowering your energy bills. As weather stripping gets old it gets brittle and stops being effective.  As a part of regular home maintenance you need to keep an eye out for worn out weather stripping and replace it.

Worn Weather Stripping

Weather stripping will start to breakdown because of age and continued exposure to the elements.  You should inspect  your weather stripping at least a year, typically in the fall before the weather starts to get cold.  Vinyl weather stripping starts to get dry and brittle and you will see it start to crack, it will also start to shrink and lose its shape

Removing Your Old Weather Stripping

If the old weather stripping was the simple peel and stick kind then it is fairly easy to just pull off from around your windows by hand, it will take you less than a minute.  If you have the other kind that is held in place with screws or nails then it is going to be a much longer process, you will have to remove all of the older nails and screws by hand.

Choosing a New Weather Stripping

If you head to your local hardware store looking for weather stripping there are dozens of options at your fingertips and they can vary a great deal in price. Let’s look at your options:

  • Adhesive Foam Tape: This is cheap and easy to install and it’s best to put it at the bottom of a window or where the door closes at the frame.  You need compression for this type of adhesive to seal.  It does have a fairly short shelf life and will only last roughly three years.
  • Peel & Stick Vinyl: This is another cheap and easy solution as with anything this inexpensive you will have to replace it after a couple of years.
  • V-Shaped Weather Stripping: This works best on the side channels of your windows or with a door, it opens to plug the gaps in any leaky windows and doors.  It is slightly more expensive but it will last longer.

Getting the Surfaces Ready

Before you install the new weather stripping you need to get rid of the old stuff, clean and dry the area where the new weather stripping is going in.  You made need some rubbing alcohol or adhesive remover to get rid of the old tape.

Installing the New Weather Stripping

If you are using the peel and stick type of weather stripping then you will need to install it on a warm day, when the temperatures are below 50F it won’t adhere to the surface properly.  Start small and make sure you can close the windows and door easily.  For the peel and stick you simply take off the back and push it into place.  If you are using the V-shaped weather stripping you want the opening facing out.  Weather stripping can help to keep your utility bills under control, keeping the warm air in your home where it belongs.