Ellen McLaughlin - Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage



Posted by Ellen McLaughlin on 11/29/2020

Image by mnplatypus from Pixabay

Proper insulation not only helps you save on your energy bills. It reduces your energy impact on the environment and may create a great selling point for your home when the time comes. But knowing were to insulate an existing home can be a project. Here's what you need to know.

How to Do an Insulation Assessment

First, you'll need to turn off the power at the breaker box. Have your flashlights ready. 

Remove outlet covers around your home and look inside to see if you have insulation. You might not have to check every outlet, but do check them on multiple floors and one on each wall to understand how well walls are insulated. 

If you have a wall that gets hot in the summer or cold in the winter, you may want to dig deeper. Pull a little out to see what kind it is and how thick it is.

Next, check your attic, basement and crawlspaces. This insulation you can more easily see. Use a yardstick to measure its depth and look for areas that are thinner than others.

Additionally, you may consider insulating:

  • Around storm windows
  • On band joints
  • Around pipes that might freeze
  • Between the studs on a finished attic floor
  • What You'll Need to Install Installation

    There are many insulation projects you can DIY. For example, re-caulking leaky windows and sealing drafty doors can help tremendously. But you can also add insulation in the attic and basement with either loose-fill or blanket insulation. Here's what you need.

  • LED lamp clip-on. You need your hands, so flashlights won't cut it.
  • Insulation of choice
  • 1-2 3/4" plywood panels to stand on if there's no floor
  • Goggles and a mouth/nose mask to protect your eyes and lungs
  • Long sleeves and gloves to reduce residue settling on your skin. Some materials cause terrible itching and bleeding if scratched.
  • Staple gun (for rolls) or insulation blower (for loose)
  • Prep the Area

    Take this opportunity to look for leaks. If you see signs of active water damage, you need to repair it before laying insulation. Now, place your plywood so you have somewhere to stand safely.

    Lay Insulation

    Lay insulation in areas where it's lacking. You can staple it to roof beams and beams on the floor. Just cut it to size if needed. 

    Keep in mind that when you open a pack of roll insulation, it expands. So please don't open it until you have it in the general area where you want it.

    *Pro tip* To cut blanket insulation more easily to fit, lay a two-by-four over the place where you want to cut it. This temporarily compresses it there so that you have a thickness that's easier to cut through.

    If using loose insulation, power up your insulation blower and aim where padding is needed. Always, carefully rinse off after applying insulation to reduce skin and lung exposure.

    And you're ready for lower energy bills through winter and summer. For more tips DIY home maintenance tips, follow our blog.




    Categories: DIY  


    Posted by Ellen McLaughlin on 3/29/2020

    Image by Cristina Mantovani from Pixabay

    Whether you’re moving into a new home or getting yours ready for the market, remodeling your kitchen can help boost your home’s value. You don’t have to invest in major remodeling projects to spruce up your kitchen. The following minor remodeling options are cost-effective ones that can give your kitchen a brand new look.

    Refinishing Cupboards & Cabinets

    If you have older cabinets and cupboards that look dated or flawed, refinishing them can improve the way they look. If the cabinets are in good repair, a fresh coat of paint or stain can give your kitchen a new appearance without a large price tag. Consider refinishing with a modern neutral tone or select a color that complements the surrounding elements like countertops or floors. 

    New Faucet

    If you’re looking for a simple way to boost your kitchen’s appearance, consider replacing an older faucet with a shiny new one. Installing a new faucet doesn’t take long, and it can help your kitchen look more up-to-date. Keep in mind that there are many spout styles and shapes to choose from, as well as a wide range of finishes, including brushed chrome and antique brass. For a cohesive look, consider updating cabinet knobs and drawer pulls to match the finish of your new faucet.

    New Countertops

    Adding new countertops can have a major impact on the overall appearance of your kitchen. Countertops made of affordable materials like vinyl laminate, formica, ceramic tile, or similar material can help keep replacement costs down. However, if you’re able to invest more in your project, natural stone, such as marble or quartz provide more durability and elegance. 

    Energy-Efficient Appliances

    If your kitchen has older appliances, consider switching to more energy-efficient models. This is an easy way to improve your kitchen’s appearance while also lowering your energy costs. Whether you go with stainless steel models for a sleek look or black or white ones for a more contemporary style, having these new appliances installed can instantly give your kitchen a fresh new look.  

    New Lighting 

    Adding task lighting or under-counter lights can provide much-needed illumination in prep areas while generating ambiance. You may also consider replacing older light fixtures with more modern or contemporary ones to give your kitchen a more updated look. Seek out vintage or otherwise unique hanging fixtures to add something unexpected your room.





    Posted by Ellen McLaughlin on 3/15/2020

    Photo by Victor Freitas from Pexels

    Having your own home fitness center provides a convenient place to work out. You don’t have to worry about fitting in exercise during gym hours or having to wait your turn to use the treadmill or rowing machine. With your own gym, you can work out whenever you want and use your fitness equipment as needed. The following tips can help you design an upscale fitness center that allows you to exercise in the comfort of your own home.

    Location

    The first decision to make is where to put your fitness center, which depends in part on the layout of your home. You can put your home gym in your basement or a back area of your home if you prefer having it in an out-of-the-way place where your workouts won’t disturb family members. If your home is surrounded by nature, consider putting your home fitness center in an upper part of your home that provides inspiring views while you work out.

    Flooring

    The flooring in your home gym should provide shock absorbency and durability for safe workouts. Rubber tiles or rolls are highly shock-absorbent and durable, making them a common choice for home fitness centers. Foam tiles and soft PVC tiles are more comfortable to stand and move around on, but they do not offer as much shock absorbency to protect you from injuries if you do high-impact exercises.

    Equipment

    Choosing equipment for your home gym depends on the kinds of exercises you like to do. You can include larger pieces of equipment, such as rowing machines, treadmills, elliptical machines and exercise bikes. Other types of equipment to consider include a weight bench and weights, a yoga mat, a balance ball and resistance bands. Keep in mind that there are many brands of luxury home fitness equipment available.

    Adding a state-of-the-art sound system to your fitness center can provide you with an easy way to listen to music that helps you stay motivated during your workouts. For lighting, consider using a mixture of natural lighting from windows or skylights and artificial lighting, such as recessed lights or light fixtures with ceiling fans to improve air circulation in your home gym.

    Indoor Pool

    Your home fitness center doesn’t only have to include traditional gym equipment. If you enjoy swimming as a form of exercise, consider adding an indoor pool to your gym. You can include an indoor pool that’s specially designed for doing laps and add features to it, such as a heating system for comfort or underwater LED lighting for swimming at night without having to put overhead lights on.




    Categories: Home Design  


    Posted by Ellen McLaughlin on 1/19/2020

    When buying an older home, you might wonder how to get more livable space out of that low-ceiling basement. There are two ways to gain height: raise the foundation or lower the floor. Raising the foundation requires lifting the entire home off its current foundation, building a new foundation, and resettling the home. For most homeowners, the sheer number of things that can go wrong with a project of this magnitude makes it an unlikely option. An alternative is bench footing, a method of lowering the floor of the basement that results in a higher ceiling.

    Bench footing is a straightforward technique regarded by contractors to be an optimal approach for supporting your building while providing room for more structural support and depth. With bench footing, professional contractors do not need to dig deep into the home’s foundation. Instead, they can lower the basement floor and add structural support from there.

    How Is It Done?

    The process is straightforward, but don’t try to do this one yourself: Hire a professional contractor. Bench Footing costs less than other methods because it doesn’t require you to dig underneath the existing footings. Instead, a new floor is dug through the existing basement floor. A new foundation is laid inside the existing one, creating your new basement floor and an additional wall inside your existing basement. It is important to consider that the width of your bench footing is determined by the depth you want to add to your basement.  For every foot in depth that you add, you will need about a foot of width for your bench footing.  The floor space of the basement will decrease in area by the thickness of the new wall. 

    The result is a ledge or “bench” all the way around the outer wall of the basement. That’s why they call it Bench Footing. A savvy contractor can make use of the space above the bench by installing cabinets, reading nooks and other built-ins. Others simply inset the entire wall to the new location. 

    Why Choose Bench Footing?

    If you need to increase your usable space but you are unable to add another story or extend your home on any side, making better use of your basement is the most valid option. In addition to being less damaging to your existing home, bench footing is less costly to complete and doesn’t change the exterior aesthetic of your home. This is particularly important if your home is in a historic area or has a strict association.

    To get the best results with your bench footing, hire a professional contractor with several years of experience and with many positive reviews. Consult with your real estate agent for recommendations for a local contractor who can help you with your project.





    Posted by Ellen McLaughlin on 12/1/2019

    Image by Breadmaker from Shutterstock

    A fireplace is a cozy addition for a home that can add aesthetic value as well as warmth to your space. Whether you’re building new, retrofitting, or shopping for the perfect home there are options for most situations. You’ll find many design options as you start to shop but the initial consideration should be to determine a fuel source.

    Wood fireplace

    Wood-burning fireplaces offer the crackle of the fire, the fragrance of pitch, and the soft glow of coals. For some, there's nothing better than a perfectly lit wood fire. But along with the cozy flames and the perfect scent come some considerations. 

    Potential for smoke: If the flue does not open correctly or if there is a blockage within the chimney, you may find smoke coming into your room instead of out the flue.

    Chimney maintenance: The wood you burn and the temperature of your fire determines how clean your chimney stays. At least annually, have your chimney professional swept to remove the buildup of creosote that can cause house fires.

    Ashes: You will need a plan for disposing of the ashes once the fire is out.

    Natural gas

    A fireplace that burns natural gas can either be open or closed. An open hearth appears to be the same as a wood-burning fireplace and requires a chimney. These are called "vented" fireplaces. You can easily convert a wood-burning fireplace to a vented gas fireplace if you have access to a gas line. 

    An enclosed gas fireplace is a “ventless” unit. These require more intensive construction but are great to give you the “look” of an open fire without access to the flames. These can either operate on natural gas or propane.

    Gel system

    A gel fireplace doesn't require specialized installation. Canned gel burns in a special unit that does not need ventilation. Often available in modern, minimalist designs, these fireplaces do not need access to gas lines or electricity. They can be installed anywhere on any wall.

    Electric

    Outside of the gel unit, the most effortless option to incorporate is an electric fireplace. Rather than flame, they use heated coils to provide warmth and a fan to project the air into the room. They often include flickering lights and simulated flames. Electric fireplaces require no vents and can install anywhere within proximity to an electrical outlet.

    No matter which fireplace you select, take care to install it properly and operate it by the manufacturer's instructions. If a fireplace is an important feature to you, make sure your real estate agent knows it's on your "must-have" list.