Fences Can Help Protect Privacy, Property, and More

Deciding to put up a fence on your property may seem like a simple decision, but there are a lot of things to consider before hiring a contractor to get it done.

One question to ponder is whether your neighbors might be offended or annoyed by the sudden appearance of a fence near the edge of their property. The answer to that question would partly depend on your relationship with your neighbor, the size of your lot, and whether the fence is tasteful or an eyesore. The problem with that standard is that “tasteful” is in the eyes of the beholder!

Tall fences can and sometimes do have a way of changing the look and feel of your immediate neighborhood, so the installation of a fence could potentially cause resentment from other property owners. The decision to put up a fence on your property is a personal one, but there’s also a lot of value in maintaining friendly neighbor relations. (It can be a delicate balance!)

One Step at a Time

In some places, local ordinances or Homeowner Association rules may impose restrictions on fences and other structures. Many towns and municipalities require that you (or your contractor) obtain a building permit before putting up a fence, so a quick phone call or email to the appropriate local official can shed light on requirements, restrictions, and other assorted rigmarole!

Since the cost of installing a fence can easily run into the thousands, it always pays to get a few estimates and proposals from reputable fence companies. Other decisions include choosing the best height and composition of the fence. Fencing materials range from metal and chain link to vinyl and wood. Composite fencing materials are also an option.

Your choice will depend on a lot of factors, including cost, durability, maintenance aspects, and appearance. Online information, free brochures, and meetings with contractors can help you learn more and make an informed decision.

Once you’ve moved beyond the potential issues of installing a fence on your property, there are several distinct advantages to fencing in your back yard.

  • Enhanced privacy: While “privacy” can mean different things to different people, a tall fence offers an immediate solution to a variety of privacy-related problems. 
  • Pet containment: If you don’t always have the time or energy to take your dog(s) for a walk in the neighborhood, it’s a major convenience to be able to let them out in a contained area to relieve themselves and get a little fresh air. It can also be a good way to keep them safe and out of trouble!
  • Wildlife barrier: Although there are often gaps at the bottom of fences that prevent fences from being completely wildlife-proof, a properly installed fence can drastically reduce the chances of wildlife sneaking their way into your back yard. Whether you want to protect your vegetable garden or pets from wild animals, a solid fence can be the barrier that you need.
  • Increased security: While fences are not always an impervious barrier to burglars, trespassers, and other intruders, it does provide some protection from those potential threats.

If you’re searching for a new home or looking to improve your existing property, the right kind of fence can provide you and your family with a myriad of benefits.

Installing a Water Softener

Do you live in a house that has hard water? You know, where you get those white rings on the counters and the faucets have this grungy, crusty build up. While you’re at the DIY store, you see this free water testing kit and decide its time to learn what is going on. You get the results, and the company asks to come out and give you a further evaluation as well as introduce you to a solution. The time this takes is well worth the process because it gives you valuable information about your water and how to fix it. Unfortunately, the typical solution is a $6,000 to $8,000 fix. Now maybe that is in your budget, and that is great, but most of the time that solution still involves the use of salt.

There is another way 

Alternatives exist where the installation cost may be way less—although it might be the same depending on how large of a system you get. But more importantly, it is a solution that doesn’t involve the constant purchase of salt. 

A recent addition to the water treatment lineup includes many different brands on salt-free water conditioners or de-scalers. Typically, a non-salt system consists of a large particle filter and a multiple-part canister. The system works by neutralizing minerals such as magnesium and calcium by changing their ionic makeup so that these minerals do not stick to pipes and other surfaces. They do remain in the water, though, so if you allow a pool of water to dry, the minerals will form a powdery residue that easily brushes off.

DIY Installation?

Installation is not complicated, but if you have little to no experience plumbing, you should hire a local plumber or certified installer to do the project. It is essential to put it in-line with the water going the correct direction (into the water heater, for example), so you’ll need to know which way the pipe is flowing where you add the joint.

Does it work?

The results are different from a water softener. You’ll see a reduction of the calcium in the water. Your skin will feel less dried out, and dish soap will create larger amounts of suds. You will not have that slippery feel of salt-softened water though. Most importantly, you can drink the water and water your plants with the water directly from the tap. 

Is it green?

The environment gains because there is no back-washing of the system like with traditional salt-based softeners, so you are not dumping salt water into the drainage system, and you are not using a bunch of extra water. 

What does it cost to maintain?

The cost to operate it once it after installation is very low. There is no salt to purchase every month. You only have to change the large particle filter every 6 to 12 months, depending on your water source. You may even receive extra filters with your installation, so check with the dealer.

The cost to DIY the project includes the purchase of the system and a few fittings to make the connection into your water pipes. Check with your real estate professional to see if adding a water conditioner system will increase the value of your home for resale.

The Five Steps to Shopping for a Home

Buying a home is a process that can seem daunting and even a little scary to most first-time buyers. After all, being a homeowner is a huge financial and personal responsibility.

To make this lengthy process a bit more approachable, we’re going to break it down into five steps. While these five steps may be somewhat different for each person, depending on their own unique situation, they do comprise most home buyer’s experience.

If you’re interested in learning the steps you’ll need to take before owning your first home, read on.

Step 1: Know your long-term goals

Before you buy a home, you’ll want to have a clear understanding of what you, your spouse, and your family want from the next five or more years. You’ll want to make sure the area you’re moving to can provide things like career advancement and opportunity, good schools for your children, and so on.

These questions may seem obvious, but it’s an important conversation to have before making the long-term commitment of owning a home.

Step 2: Your budget and your needs

It might be tempting to hop online and start shopping for houses, but first you should get a clear idea of the size and cost of the house you’re looking for. This involves determining your budget, thinking about your credit and planning for your down payment.

Step 3: Mortgage pre-approval

Getting preapproved for a mortgage can be a great way to gauge the interest late and loan amount you’ll be approved for. You’ll need to gather paperwork, including income information (pay stubs), tax returns, and W-2 forms.

Be aware that lenders will run a detailed credit report. Since credit reports count as an inquiry, they can temporarily lower your credit score by a few points.

Applying to several lenders within a short period of time can make a significant impact on your score. However, it will start to rise again within a few months if you don’t open any new credit accounts or take out other loans.

Step 4: Get an agent

Real estate agents know the ins and outs of the home buying process better than anyone else. They’ll be able to guide you through the process and provide you with information that you can’t get anywhere else.

Step 5: Pick the right home for you

Now it’s time to start home shopping. However, before you begin, remember that getting approved for a loan doesn’t mean you must or should seek to spend the full amount on a home.

Plan for your needs, and keep the future in mind. Someday you might decide to upgrade, but in the meantime you can be building your credit and building equity in a smaller or more frugal home.

Services to Set Up Before You Move Into Your New Home

If you recently bought a house, congratulations! Now, you just need to pack up your belongings, finalize your home purchase and relocate to your new address. You also may want to set up the following services prior to completing your move:

1. Electric

What good is a new house that lacks electricity? Fortunately, if you contact the electric company in your new home’s city or town, you should have no trouble establishing electric services.

Typically, an electric company employs friendly, knowledgeable customer service representatives who will assist clients in any way they can. This means you can call the electric company in your new city or town, speak to a customer service representative and get the help you need to quickly set up electric services.

2. Cable and Internet

In many cities and towns, multiple cable and internet services providers are available. And if you allocate time and resources to review all of the options at your disposal, you may find a quality, affordable company for cable and internet services.

As you evaluate cable and internet services providers in your new city or town, don’t forget to ask lots of questions. By doing so, you can find out what types of services are available, as well as the prices associated with these services.

Try to get several quotes too. If you receive multiple quotes, you can decide which cable and internet services provider offers the best value.

3. Water

Learn about how you pay for water in your new city or town prior to moving day – you’ll be glad you did. That way, you can contact your new water provider in advance and ensure that you will have water available as soon as you arrive at your new house.

When it comes to completing a home purchase, many challenges can make it tough to achieve the best-possible results. But if you employ a real estate agent, you can receive extensive support at each stage of the property buying journey.

A real estate agent can offer recommendations to help you establish essential services at your new home. He or she may even be able to put you in touch with the best services providers in different cities and towns and help you find the best deals on various services.

Furthermore, a real estate agent is happy to help a homebuyer discover the perfect residence, at the right price. Before you kick off a home search, a real estate agent will learn about you and your homebuying goals. He or she next will help you establish homebuying criteria and hone your house search. Best of all, a real estate agent will set up home showings and keep you up to date about open house events, enabling you to find your ideal residence in no time at all.

Want to remove the guesswork commonly associated with finishing the homebuying journey? Hire a real estate agent, and you can get the support you need to enjoy a fast, seamless and stress-free property buying experience.