3 Ways to Make Your Attic Reno Unique

The word “attic” conjures up images of dark, dusty relic storerooms that just happen to be hidden in plain sight. For plenty of homeowners, their attics are full of treasure, just not the kind you might think. Their treasure comes in the form of square footage.

Renovating an attic into living space can be a complicated process, but it adds real living space to a home that may already be perfect in every other way.

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What’s This About Hidden Treasure?

Your unfinished attic has a secret that it’s never been able to really own up to. It’s hiding treasure — lots of it, too. Most people look to remodel their attics simply for the added convenience and elbow room that more space provides families with growing needs. What they don’t realize in the moment is that an attic remodel can increase the value of the house, too. According to Remodeling Magazine, in 2015 a newly constructed midrange attic bedroom returned 77.2 percent of its cost in value.

If you’ve never set foot inside your attic, it’s probably nothing like you might imagine. There’s not going to be a lot to work with, expect your remodel to be a big deal. But anything worth doing is worth doing big, right? One of these days that big budget attic project will be your game room or the kids’ bedrooms or even just a quiet place to get away from the world for a while. And those are things you can’t really put a price tag on, though your appraiser and your bank may try.

Attic Renos: Before and After

Knowing what you’re facing, it’s worth showing you what the reward can be. Your attic won’t necessarily yield identical results, but to give you a general sense of how much you can do with an attic space, take a look at the photos below. On the left, you’ll see an attic space that’s probably much like yours: unfinished, sparse and dark. On the right is what could be an after photo: a beautifully designed, well lit, interesting and funky space.

Making That Attic Your Own

Obviously, you already own the attic, so technically it’s already your own, but semantics aside, an attic remodel is a really good opportunity to create something beautiful. Many attics are so divorced from the rest of the house that you can pretty much get away with anything without messing with the flow of the main house.

When you’re planning your attic remodel, consider these three ways to make that space unique, inviting and, most importantly, yours:

Include striking elements. You can look at the angles and cutouts in your attic as obstacles or you can take them and use them as opportunities. Framing repeating design elements that mirror the more difficult to work with parts of your attic can make it really shine. Old, unused flues standing between you and success? Rather than wall them in or remove them entirely, design with them! Add some similar-looking pillars with false brick to create a more industrial loft feel.

Build in custom furniture. Nothing says “unique” like something that is actually unique. Attics can be tricky to find furniture for. Either it’s too tall, too deep or too heavy and ultimately you just abandon the space all together. Don’t let your attic become a really fancy place to store the Christmas tree: have custom furniture built (or DIY it!). Your furniture needs to fit the space and do the job it was intended for, nothing more unless you want more. Window boxes, built-in storage, daybeds and so much more can make great additions!

Don’t Skimp on the Project. You know what it’s going to cost to remodel that attic space, take that number very seriously. No pressure, but you basically only have this one chance to get this right. You’re essentially designer-in-chief of the attic space for generations of buyers to come, so it’s pretty important that you bring your vision to life in full 3D.

Trying to decide if a bathroom makes sense in your attic space? The answer should be yes. Always yes. Although it can be a headache to put a bathroom in an attic, there are lots of creative ways to make it work. You’ll seriously regret not having added that bathroom when you have guests next and they keep running up and down the stairs to use the bath in the main hallway.

You’ll probably also regret it if you were going to install incredible skylights (like the ones in the bathroom images in this article) and then backed off because it just seemed like too much work and time to invest. This is your canvas, you get to pick the new structural elements that will forever change your home.

Ready for That Attic Remodel? I Know a Contractor…

A lot of people are probably saying that very thing to you right now. After all, they want to help their friends, it’s only natural. But you need a professional that is just that: a pro, not someone’s long lost cousin or brother’s neighbor’s kid. Join us at HomeKeepr and see how the power of hard work and great service pay off day after day.

All you need to do is log in, ask your real estate agent for a recommendation for your project and you’ll be supplied with a list of contractors that they trust enough to stake their reputation on. That’s serious business. No matter what kind of pro you may need for your attic job, you can find them in the HomeKeepr community, ready and willing to get you on your way to your very special attic space.

Tim

Weatherstripping Windows and Doors: How to Find the Leaks

“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose…. even though your windows are closed….weatherstripping-windows-doors-find-leaks

If that sounds disturbingly like your home in the middle of winter, we’ve got to talk. You may not want to admit it, but something is very wrong with your windows and doors. On cool, calm days you can’t really tell if it’s cold inside because you have the thermostat turned down a bit or if if that chilliness is cold air leaking in from your windows, but on windy days there’s no doubt.

Just looking at those windows makes you shiver. Don’t suffer needlessly from low indoor temperatures and high utility bills. Instead, do something about it! It’s time for weatherstripping.

What is Weatherstripping?

Weatherstripping is essentially any material you use to close up gaps between two surfaces of building materials located on an outside wall (generally). The act of installing weatherstripping is also commonly known as “weatherstripping,” so it can get a little confusing.

Even though it may look like your house doesn’t have any gaps between, say your window trim and the wall or the upper and lower portions of your double-hung windows, the chances are good that there are lots of small cracks you’re just not seeing. As a result, you’ll end up leaking climate controlled indoor airout into the outdoors. Sometimes this is really obvious. You’ll feel the air temperature differential or you’ll literally see bright light shining through the gaps when the room is darkened.

More often, though, you’ll find some of the gaps and miss a lot more because they can be very hard to detect. Homeowners and pros alike handle this issue in a few different ways:

  • They perform yearly maintenance on the weatherstripping. When you’re positive that your home isn’t leaking air, there’s not really any reason to refresh the weatherstripping or recaulk everything that is nailed to something else. But if you’re not sure of your leak status or you simply don’t think you will be able to tell where leaks are forming, spending a day laying down new beads with the caulk gun and replacing any worn weatherstripping will ensure your home is ready for the coldest and hottest days.
  • They take advantage of infrared camera technology. Infrared cameras are really cool. Or, at least, they can show you where things that are really cool happen to be located. Although they’re not fool-proof, if you want to give this tech a try, you can pick up a model that will attach to your smartphone for a lot less than the units the pros tend to use. When an area turns up icy blue (or another color, depending on your camera settings), you can then manually inspect that area for unexpected air flow.
  • They enlist the help of a energy specialist for an energy audit. Many utility companies have an energy specialist on hand to help with energy audits. Even those that don’t will keep a list of independent home pros that can perform the same service. They have all kinds of neat tools in their bags and will not only point out the drafts, but can help you deal with these and the other energy losers in your home.

You may be surprised (or even alarmed!) at how much of your home’s indoor air is leaking in from the outside and the other way around. But you can’t efficiently weatherstrip your home until you know where the leaks are, so it’s a painful, but necessary first step Again, if you’re just really in love with the caulk gun, a refresh never hurt anything, but you probably have other things you’d like to be doing.

Do You Need an Energy Audit?

While you can perform a sort of DIY energy audit on your own, if you want a detailed analysis of where the weather is getting in, plus all the other hints and tips for saving energy that come with a formal energy audit, you don’t have to look any further than your HomeKeepr community! Your real estate agent has already made the connections with the best home pros in the area, their experiences and recommendation can save you a lot of headaches in the long run.

Have You Made Any of These 5 Credit Mistakes As a Homebuyer?

You’ve been renting for a while now and it feels like the timing is right to make the leap to homeownership. After all, your friends are all buying houses and your job feels pretty stable, how many more hints that it’s time to settle down could you really need?

Well, if you’ve given it considerable thought, are certain you can cover emergency costs like unexpected roof replacement or furnace repair and you have a realistic expectation of what you can afford, then full speed ahead. Buying a house is a trying experience, only made significantly worse by credit mistakes.

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Top Credit Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a Home

Everybody makes mistakes, especially when it comes to their credit. The process by which your credit score is generated has long been veiled in shadows, making it doubly easy to misstep without even knowing it. However, there are certain mistakes that homebuyers make again and again, including these items that are obviously impactful to your credit score:

1. Not knowing what’s in your credit file to begin with. The last thing you need is a bit of a surprise when you go to apply for a mortgage. If you have collections that you’re unaware of, judgements that were never served to you or just plain bad information in your file, these items have to be handle now. It can take a while to completely erase the effects of any negative information in your credit file, so you need to get started right away.

Go to annualcreditreport.com for your once a year free credit report, download that thing and print it out. Check it line by line for accuracy and contact any collection agents that may be listed so you can work out a payment plan on that cable bill you left behind in your college apartment and totally forget to pay.

2. Applying for mortgages over a long period of time. Sure, it makes sense to pull your credit file six months to a year ahead of when you plan to purchase, since there might be surprises that will require time to fix. If you pull your scores yourself, it’s not as big of a hit to you as it would be it you had a lender checking your scores, say, monthly. When you are definitely ready to buy, do all your mortgage shopping within a 14 to 45 day window (depending on the scoring model and version). Ask your lender how long credit inquiries for mortgages will remain grouped, only being counted as a single credit pull. Otherwise, so many hard pulls will ensure that you don’t move forward to purchase.

3. Opening new lines of credit in anticipation of closing. Did you give any thought to skipping the line and buying a new couch today, rather than after your closing? How about doing that while maxing out a brand new credit line? This is a huge and terrifyingly common mistake that people make. It makes sense, it really does, you just want to be ready to get your move over with quickly once you get the keys.

The problem with a new inquiry is sort of a double whammy. First, it’s a hard pull on your credit, which will reduce your score slightly. Secondly, if you use that credit line, your debt to income will increase. In fact, depending on how much of that credit line you use, your utilization rate may also increase.

TL;DR: don’t take out new credit. Your credit score, debt to income ratio and possibly your credit utilization will take a big hit and your loan may be cancelled at the last minute when underwriting is re-verifying your application.

4. Maxing out existing credit lines. Moving is really expensive, even if you’re just moving across town. The moving truck alone can cost hundreds of dollars, and that’s if you do the job yourself. There’s nothing wrong with renting a truck, hiring a mover or even hiring a whole lot of movers, just do it after closing. If anything changes to the negative about your credit score, credit utilization and your debt to income ratio, as stated above, your loan can be cancelled. This is not a drill.

5. Failing to forward your bills. After closing, you could still make a few credit mistakes problems related to your move. Did you remember to pay the last utility bill at your old place? How about the broadband? It may seem like an obvious error to avoid, but when you’re in that moving stress haze, sometimes it’s all you can do to grab a pot of coffee and get moving again. Your credit is pretty good right now, don’t forget to pay those final bills.

Buying a house with a mortgage can feel like an exercise in paperwork collection, but the truth is that all of it is necessary for you to get the very best price from your lender. After all, what they’re really doing is trying to ensure your success with their loan. When you succeed, they succeed.

Looking for a Lender for Your Next Purchase?

Look no further than the HomeKeepr community. Local lenders are waiting for you to contact them, based on your real estate agent’s recommendations. And if something is wrong with your credit file, you’ll find credit repair specialists here, too! At HomeKeepr, we have all the home pros you might ever need, collected up under one umbrella — and you know they have to be good, your real estate agent is staking their reputation on it.

    Tim

    Could Your Life Be More Awesome?

    When was the last time you were dazzled? Can you remember when something, someone, or somewhere made your jaw drop, took your breath away, or really wowed you? To children, everything in life seems awesome. But for adults, it can be hard to find that same sense of wonder. Instead of the same old New Year’s resolutions, look for ways for bring more wonder into 2019.

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    Quiz: Could Your Life Be More Awesome?

    First, let’s ask an important question: Can your life stand to be more awesome? Maybe you already know the answer, or maybe you don’t even know what awesomeness looks like anymore. Either way, Greater Good Science Center presents this brief quiz to determine if you have room for more awesomeness in your life.

    7 Ways To Spark Your Sense Of Wonder

    When looking for wonder, it doesn’t matter where you find it as much as how you approach life. Reinvigorate your curiosity by learning to approach mundane things from a new angle or seeking out works from great authors and artists. Behavioral specialist and bestselling author Gregg Levoy has a few suggestions for reigniting your sense of wonder that you can incorporate into your life right now.

    What Makes Things Cool?

    When something is wonderful or awesome, it’s probably also very cool. In your search for wonder, it can help to ask what makes something cool. The answer isn’t as subjective as you think. This video from The Atlantic examines the “theory of cool” and shows that if you’re looking for wonder, it might help to look at something familiar in a different way.

    Just For Fun: Tiny Pieces Of Wonder

    You don’t have to travel to the ends of the Earth to be amazed by things. In fact, when one photographer got up close to the world around him, he proved wonder can be found in the smallest of things.

    What kind of wonder will you find in 2019?

    Tim

    Ready To Say Goodbye To 2018?

    With only a few weeks left in 2018, we can’t help but be amazed by how fast the year flew by. Wasn’t it just March? It’s always crazy how much everyone still has to do before the year’s out! Don’t worry — here are some great resources to help you get through these next hectic weeks.

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    Checklist: Things You Need To Do Before The Year Is Over!

    So much to do, so little time. It’s hard enough to get things done in December, between all the holidays. Who has time to think about the new year? As always, a simple to-do list can really help you get things in order. Don’t worry; it’s not all chores and errands. This checklist gives you fun ways to celebrate 2018 and end the year on a high note!

    Creative Ways To Prepare For The New Year

    There’s no secret to having a great new year, not matter what some articles online may claim. Yes, there’s some great advice out there, but why take someone else’s definition of what makes a year good? Here are a couple creative suggestions to make 2019 your year. (This article is a few years old, but the tips are evergreen.)

    7 Ways To Have A Happy New Year

    There’s something promising about the new year. No matter what happened in the last 12 months, whether good or bad, happy or sad, you can start 2019 off fresh. The future is whatever you make it, so why not make it a good one? Check out these simple strategies to truly have a happy new year.

    Just For Fun: Best NYE Parties In The World

    Times Square gets a lot of attention on New Year’s Eve, but the residents of NYC aren’t the only ones who know how to throw a party. From Scotland to Chile, check out how the rest of the world rings in the new year.

    Have a Happy New Year!

    Tim

    The Best Way To Give Back

    What will you give this year? It’s easy to get caught up in the material joys of the holiday season, but we should also make a point to look for ways we can truly make a difference in the world. Since it is the season of giving, let’s look at some opportunities to give your time and money to charity and the best ways to make your donations count.

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    15 Ways To Give Back This Holiday Season

    When you’re ready to donate during the holidays, the question is often where to start. If you have time to volunteer at a soup kitchen or organize a toy drive for foster kids, that’s great! But there are other ways you can give even when your holiday schedule is tight. Here are 15 simple ideas that can make a world of difference.

    Teach Your Child About Charity

    Teaching your children the importance of charity and volunteering can help them grow into kind and empathetic people. But how do you teach kids about charity in a way that really sticks with them, instead of just adding a task to to their seasonal to-do list? This article from Today’s Parent dives into the challenges of volunteering and offers strategies to make giving back part of your family values.

    Why You Shouldn’t Donate Canned Food To Charities

    Canned food drives are huge around the holiday season. Some companies even offer discounts to customers who donate a few cans of food. It’s great to see so many people who want to give back, but the truth is that donating canned foods isn’t as helpful as is may seem. Watch this clip from the TruTV series “Adam Ruins Everything” to learn the trouble with canned food drives and discover the best way you can support your local food bank.

    Make A Difference: Top-Rated Charities

    The trouble with donating to a charity is that you are never sure if your donation is really going to people in need. Charity Watch is an organization that monitors the behaviors of charities and determines if they help people as much as they claim. Here are some top-rated charities you can feel good about donating to this year.

    Here’s to doing good during the season of giving,

    Tim

    Tis The Season To Be Stressed Out?

    For a time of year that’s supposed to be about joy and generosity, the holidays sure can be stressful. Between family gatherings, social obligations, and the demand to make the season magical for the kids, you might start to wonder why you even bother. But the holidays should be a time of joy, and with some tried-and-true stress management strategies, they can be again.

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    6 Simple Practices To Handle Holiday Stress

    The best way to reduce stress is to avoid stressful situations. During the holidays, this isn’t always an option. But that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the holiday spirit. This article from the University of California, Berkeley, examines the psychology of stress and offers science-backed solutions to make your holiday season more enjoyable.

    Foods That Fight Holiday Stress

    Stress eating is usually a bad thing, but what if you could combat your stress with tasty, good-for-you foods? Plenty of research shows the direct influence food has on your mental health and well-being. Chamomile tea is a go-to for stressful days, and eating oatmeal for breakfast can lead to more positive mornings. Snacking on a blood orange can help you get through a taxing meal with the in-laws. Check out Health.com to read about all the snacks you need to have a stress-free holiday.

    Stay Active During The Holidays

    If you already struggle to make time for exercise during the rest of the year, working out during the holidays may seem impossible. But it’s important to stay active. A lack of exercise will do a number on your health, and realizing you haven’t exercised in a few weeks will only add to your seasonal stress. What’s more, staying active has been shown to improve mood and reduce stress overall!

    Just For Fun: 32 Things You Didn’t Know About The Holiday Season

    There are a lot of reasons the holidays can be stressful, but there are also a lot of reason to celebrate! Remember what’s fun about the holidays with these seasonal fun facts.

    Here’s to a more relaxing holiday season,

    Tim