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Applying and Removing Brand Painter’s Tape

Applying and Removing Duck® Brand Painter’s Tape

Here are some easy tips when using Duck® Brand Painter’s Tape so you achieve sharp, clean paint lines.

Duck® brand painter’s tape helps you achieve sharp, clean paint lines while cutting down on the touch-up time of your next DIY project. Just follow these simple steps to learn how to apply and remove your painter’s tape so you can achieve the best results.

Step One: Clean

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Make sure to clean your surface before you tape, by using a damp rag and a couple drops of dish soap mixed in a bucket of warm water.

Step Two: Choose your tape

It’s important to choose which painter’s tape you’ll need for your project. Professional Painter’s Tape has a 3-day removal, high adhesion and works great on durable surfaces. Clean Release®Multiple Surface Painter’s Tape has a 14-day removal, medium adhesion and can be used for multiple, durable surfaces including painted walls and trim.

Step Three: Tape up

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Tape any areas on your surface you want to keep paint-free. For best results, tape in a 1-2” sections to avoid stretching the tape.

Step Four: Burnish

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Burnish the tape’s edge with a plastic tool like a putty knife or credit card to ensure good adhesion.

Step Five: Paint

Paint your surface.

Step Six: Remove your tape

For best results, remove the tape while the paint is still wet, making sure to slowly pull at a 45°angle. If you’re paint has dried, score along the painted edge of the tape to avoid pulling back any paint as you remove the tape.

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No matter what the project, Duck® brand painter’s tape is an easy way for contractors and home DIYers to get professional results.

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10 Easy Tips for Every Paint Project Getting ready to paint? Here are some basic tips to get you the best results.

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Are you getting ready to paint and don’t know where to start? Here are a few tips you can follow to get the best results for your DIY project quickly and efficiently.

  1. Paint a small, sample area of the room with your desired color and finish.  After living with it for a few days, you’ll be certain whether or not it’s the right shade for you.
  2. Prep work is key – after making any necessary repairs, like patching holes or nicks, wipe down the areas you’re going to paint before you get started.  Paint will apply more evenly to a clean surface.
  3. Invest in high-quality paint tools – inexpensive roller covers and brushes won’t provide a professional-looking finish for DIYers.
  4. Look for a quality painting tape to deliver clean paint lines.
  5. When applying, don’t stretch the tape. Using pieces longer than 3’ can cause the tape to pull, leaving gaps that can lead to paint bleed.
  6. If the painting tape is not adhered to the surface properly, it won’t prevent paint bleed. Use a tool such as a putty knife or plastic card to run along the tape to create a tight seal.
  7. Remember to keep a wet edge on the wall to prevent the paint from drying as you work. Paint along the trim with a paintbrush first, then roll the rest of the wall.
  8. Paint in long, continuous strokes and avoid overworking the surface. This can result in brushstrokes and an uneven surface when finished.
  9. Remove the painter’s tape as soon as you’re done with your last coat, while the paint is still wet.  Waiting until the paint is dry can create a bridge over the tape edge and tear the paint
  10. Be sure to keep your tape stored in a protective container like a toolbox; it protects the edges from damage or debris and will ensure proper adhesion for future projects.

Getting professional results doesn’t have to be expensive. By following these steps you can achieve the best look while saving time and money.

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Remodeling for Twins

Remodeling for Twins

Homeowners renovate a master bathroom, nursery and outdoor space in time for twins.
Adam Christian and John Volturo had just six weeks to remodel a fixer-upper house into the home of their dreams. The reason for the tight deadline? The couple was expecting twins. To help them make room for babies in record time, they called home remodeling expert Laurie March.

The Pacific Palisades, Calif., home, built in 1949, was walking distance from restaurants, grocery stores and state parks. The mid-century modern home had two bedrooms and two baths tucked into an economical 928 square feet. The property also had a private backyard and a large guesthouse, making it ideal for the family life the couple was about to begin. Affordability was an issue, too. “We essentially picked the smallest house that needed the most TLC,” Christian said, in explaining their purchase.

Remodeling for Twins 07:19

Homeowners with twins on the way embark on a six-week remodeling adventure.

Adam Christian and John Volturo sit in their newly renovated outdoor space with twin daughters, Michaela and Julia.

At the top of their to-do list: Turning one of the home’s small bedrooms into a nursery. The room had an existing closet but it was a reach-in style that didn’t have enough space for the belongings of two babies. So Laurie’s team demolished the old closet and replaced it with adjustable shelving and rods behind white slab doors, an open bookcase and deep drawers. She also installed recessed lighting in the ceiling so precious floor space wouldn’t be taken up by lamps.

To give the nursery a fresh, modern feel, Adam and John selected a white and aqua color scheme, with a diamond pattern stenciled on an accent wall. They replaced the old windows with new ones that were up to fire safety codes and repaired the damaged floor.

Next, Laurie’s team moved on to the master bedroom. They demolished the closet in this room, too, replacing doors and hardware, and knocking out the wall between the master bedroom and a hall bathroom to create a bathroom en suite. Pocket doors that slid into the bedroom walls maximized the room’s floor space.

Then, it was on to the new master bathroom. To keep them on schedule, Laurie had Adam and John choose materials that were in stock and didn’t have to be special ordered. Updates included a new, gray-stained floating vanity, white acrylic countertops, square porcelain vessel sinks, and chrome single-lever faucets.

Gray wood medicine cabinets provided much-needed storage. The polished chrome shower fixtures put sparkle in the tub, and its hand-held showerhead makes it easier for Adam and John to bathe their babies.

To stay on budget, Adam and John kept the existing tub, and March had it sandblasted and recoated. Large wall tiles in a light gray pinstripe made the shower feel sleek, warm, and modern without darkening the space. Laurie’s team cut a horizontal niche into the shower wall for baby toys, shampoo and scrub brushes.

For the bathroom floor, Adam and John opted for a darker gray tile and matching gray grout for a seamless, spa-like subtlety.

To keep the bathroom’s feel modern, Laurie’s team used metal trim on tile edges instead of rounded bullnose tiles. So the shower walls, niche and vanity backsplash all have brushed chrome edges. Bathroom walls were painted with crisp, white, low VOC paint. Ceiling-track shower curtains completed the spa look.

Laurie didn’t just help John and Adam with aesthetic choices. She also kept their construction project running on time and within budget. Laurie hired a contractor who would work on a per-project fee instead of an hourly rate.

“You have to set up your team to be motivated by time if you’re going to achieve a rapid-fire construction schedule,” Laurie says. “Putting each of these items on a project fee encourages a contractor to work quickly and budget their time well.”

In addition to redoing both bedrooms and the bathroom, John and Adam also added an exterior door to the master bedroom so they could walk directly into the backyard. They updated lighting fixtures inside and outside, planted a hedge to provide privacy to their fenced backyard, and demolished a concrete pad in the backyard so they could create a grassy spot for their dog, Lincoln, to enjoy.

The remodel was done a week before baby girls Michaela and Julia arrived to their new home. Mission accomplished.

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Income Property Flips to Sell

Income Property Flips to Sell

In three weeks homeowners renovate a kitchen, living space and bathrooms to attract buyers.
For years, Josh Crosby and Amy Swift-Crosby held on to the Santa Monica, Calif., townhouse Josh bought in 2004, when he was still a bachelor. It served them well as income property while they raised their two daughters in the Venice, Calif., home they’d bought together, and built their own businesses.

REMODELING AN INCOME PROPERTY

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But by 2012, the couple had grown tired of being landlords. Moreover, both of their businesses were flourishing: The Indo-Row workout Josh had developed was taking off, and Smarty, the educational and community-building organization Amy had created for entrepreneurs, was thriving. Both businesses would benefit from the cash the sale of the townhouse could provide.

So the couple decided to put the townhouse on the market. There was just one problem: Because their renter was still living there, they couldn’t make the repairs the townhouse would need to attract the right buyer. But when the renter unexpectedly moved out, they saw it as the perfect opportunity to fix the place up. They immediately called home renovation expert Laurie March.

March’s first words of advice to the couple: Don’t overinvest, and don’t overdesign. “When you invest money in a house before you put it on the market, you don’t want to overdo it,” March said. “You’re not designing for yourself. You want to take everything back to a clean, classic place, make it a clean start for the new buyer.”

After walking through the property, March decided to focus on two areas: the kitchen and bathrooms. The spaces were original to the townhouse, which was built in 1981, and made the place look and feel dated.

Starting in the Kitchen

Crosby and Swift-Crosby hired a friend, Todd Mallis, as the main contractor for the renovation. He and March first surveyed the kitchen to see what could stay. The cabinets were in good shape but needed a facelift to give the room a more modern look. With just a fresh coat of paint (white for the ones on top, light gray for the ones on the bottom) and brushed silver hardware, they were ready to go.

BEFORE

AFTER

March chose butcher block countertops and white subway tile for the backsplash, to give the kitchen a modern feel. To complete the look, Mallis installed a new sink from Ikea with a tall, sleek U-shaped faucet, along with all new stainless steel appliances.

A small carpeted room adjacent to the kitchen also got some much-needed attention. March and Mallis transformed it into extra storage space, with built-in shelving for wine bottles and dishes.

Next Up: Bathrooms

March went to work on the bathrooms. Both the guest and master were filled with peach-colored tile that looked “really dated,” she said. But tearing out and replacing the tile would have been too expensive to make sense, so instead she decided to have the tile refinished in a custom-mixed light gray shade.

She also replaced the creaky, dated vanity with a sleek gray vanity for a more modern look.

BEFORE

AFTER

Is this Townhouse Buyer-Ready?

Three weeks later, with the renovations complete, Crosby and Swift-Crosby put the townhouse back on the market. And although potential buyers came through and raved about the updated kitchen and bathrooms, the couple still wasn’t getting any offers.

That’s when March brought in Connie Tebyani of Platinum Home Staging. Tebyani walked through the townhouse with March , and Josh and Amy’s realtor, Kelly Sutherland, and discussed why she thought the place wasn’t selling.

“People were still confused,” March said. “The place has this open floor plan, and it was hard to tell how you might live in the space.”

So Tebyani furnished and decorated the townhouse, sticking with a grey and white color scheme with a few green and blue accent pieces, to reinforce the beachy feel afforded by the home’s coastal location. She also kept the furnishings clean and modern, to appeal to the type of person Sutherland thought would buy the place: a young, newly married couple, or a young single person.

The plan worked: Within two weeks, the townhouse sold, giving Josh and Amy’s businesses a welcome infusion of cash.

“People don’t want to have to remodel a place they just bought; it’s intimidating,” March said. “This renovation was a total success.”

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7 Things to Do Before Calling a Professional

7 Things to Do Before Calling a Professional

After evaluating your budget, scope and needs, you’ll be prepared to discuss realistic remodeling goals with a contractor.

Remodeling can be messy. Understand what’s involved before jumping in head first.

Related To:
You squint your eyes as you stare at your old kitchen, pretending you’re seeing white Shaker-style doors, stainless appliances and a walk-in pantry. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a new faucet with a sprayer that works, too? And how about a gorgeous, tile backsplash?

Then you snap back to reality, sitting at the kitchen table with your head in your hands, stressing out over where to begin. Don’t make a single phone call to a contractor until you consider these seven things.

What’s the Plan?

Whether you’re a house-hopper or staying put for the rest of your life, the following considerations will determine how and what you choose to update.

How might your circumstances change? Space for new babies or aging parents will require careful planning. Don’t forget the furry kind of new additions, either. Pets can affect your choices for materials and product durability.

To Do: Write down your current life phase and where you plan to be in 5-10 years.

Know Thyself

How tolerant are you of chaos? It’s fair to say that packing up a room, making a bunch of decisions and living through a remodel can be wildly stressful to the most even-keeled people. Talk to your family about how everyone deals with the unknown, then determine your comfort level with remodeling.

Life situations will guide the types of construction projects you can realistically undertake. If you’re eight months pregnant, is it a good idea to remodel your kitchen? Probably not, but a few upgrades could be a good, temporary solution.

To Do: Make a list of the rooms you wish to remodel. Beside each project, determine who will be impacted, how the space should function and when the remodel needs to be completed.

Know Your Comps

Is your home the nicest on the block, or is it a fixer-upper on a great street? Knowing how your home value compares to other homes in your neighborhood is a smart way not to over-improve, allowing you to get the best results out of the smallest budget.

To Do: Call a local Realtor to collect information about the home values in your neighborhood.

Set the Scope

Be Your Own Contractor 01:07

Skip the general contractor. Get tips on how to lead your kitchen remodel.
Consider what you’d like to accomplish for each room. A down-to-the-studs renovation or a basic decor refresher? You may need an interior designer, an architect or a contractor — but you won’t know until you decide how in-depth your remodel will be.

If you’ve never managed and scheduled tradespeople, and this isn’t a task you’d like to take on, look for a general contractor. Having a knowledgeable person at the helm will cut down on your remodeling time.

To Do: List the tasks you want accomplished and determine what type of professionals you’ll need hire in order to carry out your vision.

Be Your Own Contractor 01:07

Skip the general contractor. Get tips on how to lead your kitchen remodel.

Think Outside the Box

Break out your inspiration notebooks and Pinterest boards! Now’s the time to put style to paper. It can be reflected in paint colors, flooring, trim details and hardware. Don’t be afraid to take risks with inexpensive elements like paint.

But do exercise caution when choosing permanent updates like hardwood flooring, tile and cabinetry. Stick to non-trendy styles and colors and you’ll be happier in the long run.

California Closets

Use your stairs to your advantage. Create storage and an office nook to utilize unused space. Photo courtesy of California Closets

Some contractors are more innovative than others. When you’re searching for new ideas and a partner to explore your creativity, look for a contractor that listens carefully, is willing to educate you on multiple ways of accomplishing your goals, and is open to working with new materials and products.

When you review contractors’ portfolios, have them describe the unique features they incorporated. At the end of a discussion ask them to sum up your style and project goals and listen to make sure you were heard.

If you feel like your contractor isn’t getting your vibe, contact an architect or an interior designer to help. They often recommend contractors who have done good work for them in the past.

To Do: Don’t depend on a contractor for design advice. Seek help from other pros, including interior designers and architects.

Talk Budget

Start your budget by listing necessary purchases. Include appliances, furniture, window shades, door hardware, flooring and plumbing fixtures. Add 10 per cent to the number for surprises.

The money you put into your updates should make sense with the value of your home. It’s not practical to spend $80,000 on a bathroom update in a home that costs $180,000.

A good contractor will provide ways to phase out your remodeling goals to help manage your budget.

To Do: Decide what you have available to spend on a remodel, then add 10 per cent to that number to manage unexpected expenses.

The Hidden Costs of Remodeling 02:44

Hidden costs can — but don’t have to — wreck your remodeling budget.

Ditch those Great Expectations

Decide how you and your family will survive your remodel. Do you want to move out while the remodel is underway or will you try to live in your home, instead? If you decide to stay at home, you’ll get to know your contractor and their crew very well because they’ll be at your house first thing every morning.

It’s unrealistic to gut and fully remodel a kitchen in two weeks. Research timelines to determine a realistic on that will get you from demo day to finish. Then plan what that means for your family in the interim. Will you need to store furniture, find temporary housing or set up a camp kitchen in another room?

To Do: Have a family meeting, talk to friends who’ve remodeled, set realistic expectations for what your life will be like before, during and after a remodel.

Gathering this information may seem like a pain, but it gives you distinct advantages: you’re less likely to overspend, both in time and money. And you’ll help save your family’s sanity.

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10 Tips Every New Home Buyer Should Know

10 Tips Every New Home Buyer Should Know

The biggest investment many of us will make is buying a house, and mistakes can be costly. To help weed through the home-buying jungle, we’ve gathered the knowledge and strategies every home buyer should know before beginning the hunt.

Know your needs before making a commitment to buy.

By: Stephanie Alexander

Your lifestyle

First, examine your lifestyle. Do you long for bucolic pasturelands? Feel energized by urban cityscapes? Looking forward to a family-friendly suburban lifestyle? It’s important to think of the limitations each locale places on your lifestyle and the perks each has to offer before making the commitment to buy.

Suburban lifestyles are flexible, offering children the opportunity to play outdoors and enjoy a neighborhood environment; urban areas offer greater social, culture, educational and career opportunities; rural environs offer privacy, room to roam and the ability to pursue hobbies — such as gardening — on a larger scale.

In addition to locale, it’s important to think about the type of dwelling you’re considering. Will you quickly outgrow that handsome city brownstone? Is a country cottage the perfect size? Will purchasing a condo allow you to forgo lawn and home maintenance and enjoy more leisure time?

Costs of ownership

Weigh the costs of home ownership.

There’s more to consider than just a monthly mortgage payment. Will you be able to afford the expenses that come with owning a home? Utilities, property taxes, repairs, homeowners association fees, lawn maintenance (unless you will do the work yourself) can all add up.

If you’re moving to a new part of town or a new city, it’s important to consider the cost of living for that area. Transportation, school tuition and everyday living expenses can also make home ownership more expensive than it initially appears.

Build or buy

Research can help you decide whether it will will benefit you more you to build or buy.

Having a home custom-built to your specifications can be expensive. But are you ready to take on remodeling and updating an older home to meet your needs?

A remodel can often be expensive and in the end, is less satisfying — and finishing a project yourself, without experience, can result in the purchase of costly tools and the loss of your valuable time.

Do your research before signing with a contractor or deciding to revamp an older home.

Location, location, location

Location is one of the most important factors when buying a home.

A bargain is never really a bargain when located in a bad neighborhood. Sometimes lightning will strike and gentrification of certain areas will result in skyrocketing property value — but that’s rare. It’s better to take a chance on a smaller home — or one in need of repair — in a great area where the value will only rise.

Loan types

Read all of the fine print before getting a mortgage.

A loan rate can look great in an advertisement, but once bankers have drawn you in to the branch office, what will you really pay? Points, PMI (private mortgage insurance) and closing costs can drive your mortgage cost up.

Some programs allow buyers to have smaller down payments — but how long are you required to stay in the home without penalty — and how much more will you pay each month?

Be sure to read all the clauses and fine print before getting a mortgage. And don’t be afraid to shop around for the best rate.

Buyer’s broker

A buyer’s broker will help you find the property best suited for you.

Most real estate agents represent the seller, but a buyer’s broker represents your needs and desires and helps you locate the property that’s best for you.

While buyer’s brokers are difficult to locate in some markets, locating a professional advocate who is required by law to get you the best price and terms can alleviate home shopping stress.

Home inspection

Demand full disclosure and a professional home inspection.

Most states require that a home seller disclose potential problems with the property — but the homeowner may not always know or reveal existing structural problems (despite the legal requirement). The only way to truly know what’s going on inside (and over and under) a home’s structure is to secure the services of a reputable home inspector. Expect to pay $300 to $600 for the inspection. It seems like a lot of money, but consider the thousands it could save you if the home isn’t up to code or has major issues.

Signed documents

Be sure to get every part of the deal in writing.

Perhaps one of the best ways to protect yourself is to have every part of the sale in writing — and make sure you understand every aspect before making a commitment. Legal jargon and real estate terminology can be confusing and somewhat frustrating, so hone your real estate vocabulary before house hunting, and don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions along the way.

After the sale

There’s still work to be done after you purchase a home.

First, purchase homeowners insurance. Next, decide if the purchase of a home warranty (if not included as part of the sale) is in your best interest. Finally, make sure your title has been taken care of during the sales process.

Added taxes

Meet with a tax consultant to lean about your property taxes.

Are your property taxes rolled into your monthly mortgage payment? Or will you be responsible for paying them yearly? Don’t forget to keep paperwork for your annual federal or state income tax return — you can often deduct the property taxes, points and interest paid on a mortgage. Set up a consultation with a tax accountant to learn more about the restrictions on these types of deductions.

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30 Tips for Increasing Your Home’s Value

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Home Improvements: Under $100

Tip 1: Spend an hour with a pro.
Invite a realtor or interior designer over to check out your home. Many realtors will do this as a courtesy, but you will probably have to pay a consultation fee to a designer. Check with several designers in your area; a standard hourly fee is normally less than $100, and in an hour they can give you lots of ideas for needed improvements. Even small suggested improvements, such as paint colors or furniture placement, can go a long way toward improving the look and feel of your home.

Tip 2: Inspect it.
Not every home improvement is cosmetic. Deteriorating roofs, termite infestation or outdated electrical systems — you can’t fix it if you don’t know it’s broken. Hire an inspector to check out the areas of your home that you don’t normally see. They may discover hidden problems that could negatively impact your home’s value. Small problems (such as a hidden water leak) can become big, expensive problems quickly; the longer you put off repairs, the more expensive those repairs will be.

Tip 3: Paint, paint, paint.
One of the simplest, most cost-effective improvements of all is paint! Freshly painted rooms look clean and updated — and that spells value. When selecting paint colors, keep in mind that neutrals appeal to the greatest number of people, therefore making your home more desirable. On average, a gallon of paint costs around $25, leaving you plenty of money to buy rollers, painter’s tape, drop cloths and brushes. So buy a few gallons and get busy!

Tip 4: Find inspiration.
An alternative to hiring a designer is to search for remodeling and decorating inspiration in design-oriented magazines, books, TV shows and websites. Simply tear out or print off the ideas you want to try and start your to-do list. Keep it simple — when remodeling on a tight budget, do-it-yourself projects are best.

Tip 5: Cut energy costs.
The amount of money you spend each month on energy costs may seem like a fixed amount, but many local utility companies provide free energy audits of their customers’ homes. They can show you how to maximize the energy efficiency of your home. An energy-efficient home will save you money now, which can be applied to other updates, and is a more valuable and marketable asset in the long run.

Home Improvements: $100-$200

Drought-tolerant plants are an excellent way to spruce up your landscaping and save money on upkeep.

Tip 1: Plant a tree.
If you aren’t planning to sell your house today, plan for the future with a landscaping improvement that will mature over time. Plant shade trees — not only will mature trees make your home more desirable but a fully grown, properly placed tree can cut your cooling costs by as much as 40 percent. Mature landscaping is also good for the environment, providing a necessary habitat for wildlife while adding valuable curb appeal to your home.

Tip 2: Low-maintenance landscaping saves you money now, adds value when you sell.
No question that shrubs and colorful plants will add curb appeal to any home, but when shopping at your local garden center, make sure that you “think green.” Purchase plants that are native to your region or plants that are drought-tolerant; these require less water and maintenance, which means more savings to you and more green in your wallet.

Tip 3: Add a money-saving luxury.
Speaking of water, here’s another way to tap into extra savings; install a water filtration system in your kitchen. Not only do these systems purify your water, they will also lower your grocery bills — no more bottled water. A water filtration system is an inexpensive addition, but it’s the sort of small luxury that homebuyers love.

Tip 4: Improve the air quality inside your home.
Air quality isn’t just about the conditions outdoors. If you have older carpets in your home, they might be hiding contaminants and allergens. The first step to determine if these need replacing is to hire a professional company to test your indoor air quality. If the results prove that your carpets should be replaced, choose environmentally friendly natural products like tile or laminate floors. Hard-surface floors are much easier to keep clean, don’t hold odors, give your home an updated look and, in general, are more appealing to buyers.

Tip 5: Save the popcorn for the movies.
Finally, what’s on your ceiling? Few structural elements date a house more than popcorn ceilings. So dedicate a weekend to ditching the dated look and adding dollar signs to the value of your home. This is a project you can tackle yourself. First, visit your local hardware store for a solution to soften the texture, then simply scrape the popcorn away. Removing a popcorn ceiling may not seem like a big change but one of the keys for adding value to your home is to repair, replace or remove anything that could turn buyers away.

Home Improvements: $200-$400

If you’re too busy to keep up the yard work, hire a lawn service to keep up your home value.

Tip 1: A messy lawn creates a bad first impression.
Overgrown or patchy lawns and outsized bushes will cause your home to stand out — in a bad way. The good news is that taming your jungle is an easy fix. For a few hundred dollars, hire a lawn service company to trim your lawn and shape your hedges. Your curb appeal will go from messy to maintained without blowing your budget.

Tip 2: Cleanliness counts.
The old adage that you only get one shot at a first impression is true. So, make the interior of you home shine from the moment someone walks through the door. For less than $400, hire a cleaning service for a thorough top-to-bottom scrubbing. Even if you clean your home regularly, there are nooks and crannies that you may miss or overlook. Let a cleaning service do the dirty work to really make your home sparkle.

Tip 3: Visually increase your home’s square footage.
The size of your home dramatically affects the value, but square footage isn’t the only space that counts. Visual space or how large a home feels also counts. The key is to make each room in your house feel larger. Replace heavy closed draperies with vertical blinds or shutters to let light in — a sunny room feels larger and more open. Also, try adding a single large mirror to a room to visually double the space. Finally, clear the clutter. The more clutter, furniture and plain old stuff you have in a room, the more cramped it will feel. For less than $400, add an attractive shelving unit to an underused space and store your clutter out of sight.

Tip 4: Small bathroom updates equal a big return.
Bathroom updates are always a smart move. Even if you can’t afford a full remodel, small changes such as replacing dated wallpaper with a faux or textured finish and replacing old lighting will update the room without denting your wallet.

Tip 5: Add new energy-efficient fixtures.
A functional, decorative ceiling fan is a beautiful thing. It provides necessary light and, in warm months, creates a soft breeze reducing the need for expensive air conditioning. But, an outdated, wobbly, loud or broken ceiling fan is a useless eyesore. Replace old fixtures with new ones to make your home more enjoyable for you now and to increase the bottom line should you decide to sell.

Home Improvements: $400-$750

Having an organized home saves you time and money and brings in money at the time of a sale.

Tip 1: Even small changes in the bathroom equal a big return.
A great room to update for less than $750 is the bathroom. The two rooms that benefit most from even small renovations are the kitchen and bathroom. One cost-effective change — like replacing an outdated vanity, old plumbing and lighting fixtures or adding a new tile floor — will guarantee a lot of bang for your buck and give your bath an updated, modern look.

Tip 2: Any kitchen update equals added value.
The same rule applies in the kitchen. You don’t have to start from scratch to create a winning recipe. For maximizing your home’s value, kitchen updates are key. Start by swapping out just one item, such as a stained sink or ancient microwave for shiny new stainless models. Even small kitchen updates will add big value to your home.

Tip 3: Replace any worn carpets or area rugs.
Take a look at your home’s soft flooring. Are your carpets and area rugs stained or worn? Nothing turns buyers off more than the thought that they will immediately need to replace all of the flooring in a home. Ideally, you may want to replace them all, but if a limited budget puts a snag in that plan, start by replacing the carpet in the room that shows the most wear and tear and replace the others as your finances allow.

Tip 4: Keep up with regular maintenance and repairs.
Walk around your home and make a list of all the little things that are broken or in need of repair. Individually, small repairs might not seem important, but if every room has just one thing wrong, those small things will add up to create the impression that your home has been neglected. If you don’t feel comfortable tackling the repairs yourself, hire a handyman for a day and watch your “to do” list disappear. Staying on top of maintenance today eliminates problems down the road should you decide to sell.

Tip 5: Get help with getting organized.
Hire a professional organizer for a day. They will show you how to organize various rooms in your home and teach you tricks for keeping it organized. How does this increase your home’s value? Simple — a clutter-free home appears cleaner and larger, which is more attractive to homebuyers and therefore more valuable.

Home Improvements: $750-$1,000

Installing new appliances is a guaranteed way of increasing the sales price of your home.

Tip 1: Go tankless.
Upgrade your standard water heater for a tankless model. Most old-fashioned water heaters keep 50 or so gallons of water hot, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, whether you use the water or not. Tankless water heaters heat only the water you need as you need it. Not only will they save you money now, but they’re an eco-friendly and cost-effective update that today’s homebuyers are looking for.

Tip 2: Upgrade your appliances.
Eighty-six the old-school appliances for sleek new energy-efficient ones. An appliance with an Energy Star label has been certified by the government to use 10-50 percent less energy and water than conventional appliances. Matching stainless appliances will not only look great now, but will make your home shine brighter than the competition should you decide to sell.

Tip 3: Go for the green.
Everyone loves a yard with thick, green grass. For less than $1000, in a weekend’s time, you can replace your existing patchy mix of weeds and grass with fresh new sod. You’ll be amazed at the difference this one change will make in your home’s curb appeal and value.

Home Improvements: $1,000-$1,500

An upgrade to the entrance of your home will leave a lasting impression with potential buyers.

Tip 1: Spruce up your ceilings.
One of a room’s most neglected spaces, the ceiling, makes up one-sixth of a room’s total area. Updating your home’s ceilings will net a lot of bang for the buck while adding architectural interest. First, if you still have popcorn ceilings, hire a contractor to scrape them smooth. To add a sophisticated custom look to a smooth ceiling, install crown molding or box beams for a coffered look. Ceiling millwork, an attractive feature prevalent in older homes, is rarely found in newer construction. Adding small touches like these will help your home stand out from the pack.

Tip 2: Update your home’s entrance.
The look of your front door and entrance play heavily into the overall curb appeal of your home. As visitors enter, the front door serves as the transition into your home and is part of their first impression. Entry doors are architectural components that should complement your home’s overall design, not detract from it. If your existing front door isn’t up to par, head down to your local home improvement store for a more energy-efficient and attractive replacement. Whether you choose a solid wood door or one with decorative stained or cut glass panels, a welcoming entrance will definitely increase your home’s bottom line.

Tip 3: Consult a design pro.
If you’re unsure of which design style or paint color to use, hire a designer. They’ll use discriminating taste and a trained eye to help with making the big decisions. Also, remodeling your home with a cohesive plan in mind makes all of your choices easier and ensures a pulled-together finished look. So, when you get the right mix of time or money, you’ll know exactly which project to take on next.

Home Improvements: $1,500-$2,000

Landscaping makes a huge difference in the curb appeal of your home.

Tip 1: Save on air conditioning costs.
Consider installing a whole-house fan. They’re a great alternative to air conditioning because they use only one-tenth the electricity of air conditioners, saving you money. Whole-house fans are considered a “green” home improvement, which is a popular selling feature with today’s homebuyers. As the cost of electricity continues to skyrocket, green energy alternatives will only gain in popularity.

Tip 2: Brighten up.
A “bright” way to increase the value of your home is to lighten up. Adequate lighting in a home makes a big difference. Not only does a bright, well-lit room feel more cheerful but it also makes spaces feel larger and cleaner. A well-lit room also shows that you have nothing to hide, so should you decide to sell, prospective buyers will feel at ease when touring your home. Hire an electrician to add recessed lights to a dim kitchen or family room or to brighten up a formal dining or living room with elegant sconces. You’ll enjoy the bright effect now and your home will feel warmer and more welcoming to homebuyers.

Tip 3: Add the right landscaping and watch your home’s value grow.
For less than $2,000, hire a landscape designer to create a plan that will make your home’s exterior really shine. For maximum impact, plant mature trees or fast growing varieties; these can be pricy but they will instantly make your home feel more established. As your landscaping grows, so will your home’s curb appeal and value.

Home Improvements: $2,000-$3,000

Full-view glass doors provide elegance and drama that improve the value of your home.

Tip 1: Kitchen or bath remodels are always a safe bet.
Improving your home is a solid investment at any level — but if you have up to three thousand dollars to spend, a great place to start is by upgrading either the kitchen or bath. Either room is a good choice and you don’t have to do a complete floor-to-ceiling remodel to reap financial benefits. In fact, modest kitchen or bath updates can be your best bet for a big return, netting, on average, an 80-85 percent return.

Tip 2: Protect your investment.
For most people, their home is their single largest investment, so treat it that way. Hire a financial planner to work out a strategy for protecting your investment by analyzing all of the financing options that are available. A financial whiz can tell you if you should refinance to lower your monthly payments or pull out some equity to pay for value-adding improvements.

Tip 3: Bring the outdoors in.
Consider turning two standard windows into an opening for beautiful French or sliding glass doors. Full-view glass doors really brighten up the space and a light and airy room is always more attractive. Also, with a view of the outdoors, the room will feel much larger. Another bonus is that modern doors are energy-efficient, cutting down on heating and cooling costs. That means more cash in your pocket now and a financial bonus should you decide to sell.

Home Improvements: $3,000-$5,000

You will get extra points by installing eco-friendly flooring.

Tip 1: Add closet or garage storage.
Realtors agree that top on most homeownes’ list of wants is ample storage space. For less than $5,000, consider upgrading your home’s storage by adding custom shelving systems to a closet or garage. The first step to really getting organized is de-cluttering. Start by sorting your belongings, then stash them away in your new organized closet or garage to really maximize your home’s value.

Tip 2: Green flooring choices equal more green in your wallet.
Worn, tired carpet will not only turn off homebuyers, but it can make you feel worn and tired too. Replace it with the hottest trend in flooring: renewable, environmentally friendly bamboo. Solid-surface floors are easy to keep clean and give your home an upscale look and feel. Green flooring choices, like bamboo, minimally impact the environment and are a big selling point to today’s environmentally conscious homebuyers.

Tip 3: Resurface concrete.
Replacing the cracked concrete surfaces around your home can cost a small fortune. But for a fraction of that cost, concrete can be resurfaced in a multitude of colors and finishes. Consider adding a cobblestone finish to your driveway, a brick look to an old walkway or a slate finish around the pool or patio. Whichever texture you choose, it will be a huge improvement over standard concrete and potential homebuyers will really take notice.

Home Improvements: $5,000 and up

A fresh coat of exterior paint will take the home’s curb appeal from so-so to wow.

Tip 1: Refresh the exterior paint.
The condition of your home’s exterior is key to the overall curb appeal, so refresh that facade with a coat of paint. Fresh exterior paint will not only preserve and protect your home’s exterior siding — the right paint color can make a dull home dazzling. By the same token, a house painted with an overly bright or overly bland color will make a house less appealing and hurt the value, so choose your colors wisely. Should you decide to put your house on the market and the exterior paint looks bad, a buyer will assume that the interior of the home has been neglected too and drive right past.

Tip 2: Go solar to save some green.
Save energy bill greenbacks by going green with a solar water heater. The installed price can cost up to $5,000, but these systems can slash your hot water bills by as much as 80 percent and attract energy-conscious homebuyers should you decide to sell. Install a solar water heater where there’s unobstructed southern exposure and you’ll have savings made in the shade.

Tip 3: Kitchen remodels are king.
Hands down, one of the biggest returns on investment comes from a kitchen remodel. Most experts agree that if you plan on updating only one room in your home, it should be the kitchen. Large, open kitchens have become the social hub of the modern home. High-end touches like granite countertops, richly stained custom cabinets and energy-efficient stainless appliances are the gold standard in modern kitchens. Experts agree that kitchen remodels return an average of 80 to 85 percent of every dollar spent. You can expect an even higher return if you are remodeling a really outdated kitchen.

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CCTV, Privacy and The Law

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Wherever we go about our daily business in the UK these days, it appears that we will never be too far away from being captured on CCTV. For most law abiding citizens, this rarely presents a problem. We have come to recognise CCTV as almost part and parcel of our daily lives.

Many people welcome CCTV on the streets of our towns and cities in the fight against crime. It can also help to secure the convictions of criminals who might have otherwise been able to go about their business and remain undetected.

The Laws Relating to CCTV

The main laws governing the installation and use of CCTV is covered by the Data Protection Act 1998, but this only applies to businesses and organisations and NOT to domestic property. It’s crucial that people recognise that distinction. If you’re concerned about a company’s use of CCTV, that’s a matter for the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to deal with under the statutes that have been laid out under the Data Protection Act.

Is it Legal?

Yes, it is perfectly legal as long as due care is taken. Most people who choose to install CCTV at home do so primarily to deter would-be intruders from trespassing onto or breaking into their homes, and this is completely legitimate.

You cannot stop your neightbour from installing a CCTV system or from operating any kind of video recording device, such as a camcorder. For example, Using CCTV At Home can often help police secure a conviction for crimes that have been committed, such as a theft of a car parked outside your home or to identify individuals who are engaging in Anti-Social Behaviour.

That said, in such cases, the CCTV system you might have at home is more likely to act as a deterrent. This is simply because in a residential area would-be criminals are likely to be far more aware of residential CCTV installations, and so are more likely to avoid doing anything which might contravene the law.

In cases of people who are able to provide video evidence of crimes or acts of anti-social behaviour being committed outside their own homes, that will usually come about as a result of some covert filming using a camcorder or digital camera.

When you could be Breaking the Law for Having CCTV at Home

While home installation of CCTV does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Data Protection Act, if the home installation has not been carried out correctly or is being used for a purpose other than for which it was designed, then you may have a case for taking further action under totally different laws.

For example, if you have a camera which is pointed directly at another person’s property or it’s suspected that it can capture part or all of a neighbour’s property, they might have a case to take action against you under legislation covered by the Human Rights Act. They might have sufficient grounds to say that they have had their privacy violated, that your CCTV system is tantamount to harassment and even voyeurism.

In such cases, they can get the police involved if you’re not able to come to some agreement with regards to what the camera(s) can capture and to make modifications to the installation