Preparing for a Home Renovation

Whether you are planning a small redecorating project, or a complete home renovation, it's natural to be a little nervous about your DIY plans. Not only do you have to worry about how your new room design will look, and whether you can get it done within your allotted time and budget constraints, you have to consider how the project will interfere with your home life while you get it done.

Before you start your home renovation project, be sure to consider the following:

  1. De-clutter

The less "stuff" you have in your home, the easier it will be to work in each room. Take this opportunity to get rid of unwanted clutter, and move rarely-used items of sentimental value into storage so that they don't get damaged while work is going on.

  1. Working around the project

Think about the way you use the rooms that are going to be re-decorated. If you're renovating the kitchen, prepare for a week of eating sandwiches and take-aways. If you're decorating a child's bedroom, will they be sleeping in your room while work is being done? If so, how will that affect your own habits? If you can schedule the work around a time when your child will be away on a school trip, or when you're going to be eating out a lot because of work commitments, then that will make life less stressful.

3. Do (some of) It Yourself

If you're planning some serious renovation work, such as building an extension, knocking down an interior wall, or fitting a new kitchen that will require some serious re-wiring, plumbing and carpentry work, you will need to call in contractors to do a lot of that work for you. However, you can cut the contracting bill by doing some work yourself. You can strip wallpaper, remove old cabinets, pull up tiles and get rid of old fixtures and fittings.

If you do the groundwork, and make sure that the working area is nice and organized for the contractors by putting as much as possible in storage before work begins, you will be able to cut your contracting bills as a result. The same goes for post-job cleanup. The more jobs you can handle, the more money you will save. Of course, if you don't want to do this stuff yourself, make sure that you make appropriate arrangements with the contractors to have the jobs done for you.

4. Scheduling Work

If you work a 9-5 job, then it makes sense to have the builders working on your property while you're out of the house. If you work nights, have children that spend a lot of time at home, or work from home yourself, then that changes things. If you want the contractors to leave your property before a certain time of day, or would prefer them not to start work until after a certain hour, discuss that with them before you sign a contract.

5. Be Realistic About Your Projects

When you start your renovation project, you're probably full of big ideas, but not all of them are good ideas. Some projects are just too expensive to be practical, and others might go against the entire look and feel of the house. Before you commit to any major renovation, talk to a few people that you trust, and listen to their feedback. Write down your design ideas, and download some photographs of designs that you like. Save them for a month or two, and then come back to them. If you still really like the idea then, go for it. You may find that the urge to redesign your home has passed, and you've just saved yourself and your family from some unnecessary major upheaval.

Amy loves home renovations and design and has redesigned her home many times. With her experience she knows that proper planning is essential to avoid home renovation catastrophe. She has written this article on behalf of Principal Homebuyers 

Cutting Your Cooling Costs

I am excited to announce my first guest post! With Spring on the way, this post has great timing too!

 

Everybody knows that when it’s summertime, the most miserable thing ever is to be stuck in a super-hot house with no AC. When the temperature cranks up, so does your air conditioning—and your air conditioning bill, too. However, you don’t have to shell out tons of money in order to stay cool and comfortable in the hot weather. Here are some tips on how to cut your cooling costs and use your AC in the most efficient and inexpensive way possible without losing energy and money.

Window treatment

You can choose a window treatment that is both functional and fashionable. A reason you might be losing money on your AC is because cool air is slipping out of the window cracks and/or sunlight is streaming in and warming the place up. In addition to making sure your windows are kept in good condition, you may also, want to try window treatment that will block the AC from slipping out and costing you money. Instead of turning up the AC higher and higher, first check to make sure that your windows have some sort of treatment because, according to a study, window treatments can block approximately 70% of solar energy from infiltrating your home.

Clean your AC

This should be a no-brainer, but unfortunately, it is something that many people neglect to do as frequently as they should. Cleaning your air conditioning vents ensures that your machine doesn’t have to work any harder than it needs to in order to provide cool air. When the vents are clogged, it’s more difficult for your air conditioner to push air through them. A dirty air conditioner uses more energy (and costs you more cash) than a clean one.

Fans

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, if you raise your AC temperature two degrees, it will save you 14% on energy costs. However, you might be reluctant to do that in the hot weather. Instead of turning up the AC and sweltering, purchase fans that will circulate the air through your home. Keeping cool air flow moving around your house is a great way to maintain your place at a comfortable temperature without having to continuously decrease the AC temperature and spend exorbitant amounts of money.

Shade your AC

Don’t be afraid to get into gardening. If your air conditioner is by a window, planting a tree there will both shade the unit and also will be good for the environment. The US Department of Energy claims that preventing the sun from hitting your air conditioner will increase the efficiency of your air conditioner by up to 10%. A weeping willow tree, oak tree, and/or pine would be good choices for providing maximum shade.

Program your thermostat

You don’t need air conditioning blasting 24/7. Chances are, you’re at work during the day and aren’t home anyway. If you have a pet, he or she can stand to have the house a couple degrees (try the aforementioned two degrees, which will lower your costs 14%) warmer. If you purchase a thermostat that allows you to program when the AC turns on or off, that will cut your costs immensely. Why waste AC if you’re not going to be there to relax in it?

Don’t skimp on new units

Is your air conditioner getting a little old and worse for wear? Don’t be afraid to shell out for a new one—a new unit will save costs more than spending money on a deteriorating AC that uses more energy to pump out the same amount of air. Think of a new air conditioner as an investment that will pay off in the long run. If you are looking to purchase a new unit, it is best to consult with a professional, such as Bob Heinmiller, who is a reputable Orlando air conditioner company.

There’s no need to run up a huge bill just to stay comfortable. By implementing these cost-cutting tips, you’ll be able to enjoy your air conditioner without spending any more money than you need to.

Lautaro Martinez a homeowner and family man is always looking for new ways to save. If you would like to learn more about Lautaro and his saving strategies, you can check out his google+ profile.