Shelf Life

If you’ve got stuff, then you need storage. And when you have run out of closet space, shelves are a great way to get the storage you need and make use of the wall space you probably have plenty of. Choosing among the endless array of decorative and functional shelf options might seem like the hardest part. But hanging them can be tricky, too – it’s not as easy as drilling holes. Keep the following in mind to avoid running into problems.

Tool Smart. For almost any shelf-hanging project you will need a pencil, a level, a tape measure, a screwdriver, a drill and a stud finder. It’s also wise to have – and wear – protective safety glasses.

Weight Watcher. Books weigh more than knickknacks. Be sure to keep this in mind as you purchase shelves; some kinds are sturdier than others. Also consider buying brackets to accommodate extra weight, if needed.

Anchors Aweigh. Just putting a screw in the wall usually is not enough to properly mount a shelf. In most cases, you will need to use an anchor. There are different kinds of anchors for various wall materials; the kind you use for drywall is different from the kind you use for plaster walls. Know what your walls are made of before you head to the store.

Space Station. Make sure you allow enough space above each shelf so there’s no height restriction on what you place on the shelves.

Ball Game. After you have completed hanging your shelf, test it out by placing a tennis ball or golf ball right in the middle. It should stay perfectly still.

Happy shelving . . . and don’t call me if you run into problems . . . I hire other people to add shelves to my walls!

Good on Paper

There’s so much to consider when doing construction or renovating your home, from picking the right contractor and the best materials to managing costs and making design decisions. But don’t forget one very important detail: building permits.

Whether you need to obtain one depends on your locality and the type of work you you’d like to do to your home, but in many cases, you risks fines, penalties or additional construction costs if you don’t get one. Selling your home might also be more difficult if a building official determines you remodeled without a permit and demands you bring it up to code.

How do you know if you need a permit for your project? Before beginning a project, ask yourself these questions:

  • Will my remodeling change the footprint of the house?
  • Will I have to move a load-bearing wall?
  • Will the roofline be altered?
  • Will any new doors or windows be constructed?

If you answered “yes” to any of these, a building permit will likely be required. Other aesthetic projects, such as installing new flooring, replacing sink hardware or countertops, or replacing windows, but not altering the structure, don’t generally require one. If you are uncertain or require more information, call your local permit office; someone there should be able to help you assess your project and determine if you’ll need a permit.

Housing News: Top 11 Trends from 2011

The National Association of Realtors® surveys homebuyers and sellers each year to uncover housing trends and monitor changes taking place in the industry. This year’s report highlights a number of trends that haven’t been seen in years. Here are the top 11 highlights from the 2011 report.


  1. In 2011, 37% of homebuyers were first-time buyers – which was down from 50% in 2010.
  2. Last year, 88% of homebuyers used the Internet to search for a home. That number was down slightly from a high of 90% in 2009.
  3. The typical homebuyer searched for 12 weeks and viewed 12 homes.
  4. The number of buyers who purchased their home through a real estate agent or broker climbed to 89% – a share that has steadily increased from 69% in 2001.
  5. Nearly 1 out of 4 buyers said the application and approval process was “somewhat more difficult” than expected…and 16% reported it was “much more difficult” than expected.
  6. About half of home sellers traded up to a larger and more expensive home…and 60% traded up to a new home.
  7. The top 3 factors influencing neighborhood choice were: the quality of the neighborhood, the convenience to job, and the overall affordability of homes.
  8. The typical seller lived in their home for 9 years. That number has increased from 6 years in 2007.
  9. Although 61% of sellers said they reduced their asking price at least once, the average home sold for 95% of the listing price.
  10. Only 10% of sellers sold their homes without the assistance of a real estate agent. Of those people, 40% knew the buyer prior to the sale.
  11. The typical “for sale by owner” home sold for $150,000 compared to $215,000 for the average agent-assisted home sale.

Check Your Environmentally Friendly I.Q.

1. True or False? Greywater is wastewater that doesn’t contain sewage, such as water from laundry or bathing, that can be reused for irrigation.

2. True or False? Reclaimed lumber is wood taken from the deconstruction of a building.

3. True or False? “Engineered wood” refers to building materials made of plastic and  vinyl that mimic the properties of wood but last longer, saving thousands of trees.

4. True or False? “Greenwashing” means retrofitting a home with environmentally friendly upgrades.

5. True or False? Household appliances that achieve the highest standard of sustainability are called “green monsters”

6. True or False? A dual-flush toilet uses wastewater from a nearby sink to fill its tank.

7. True or False? The R-value of insulation indicates its resistance to heat flow, with a high R-value meaning greater insulation effectiveness.

8. True or False? “Passive solar” refers to solar panel that doesn’t follow the sun across the sky.

9. True or False? The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) rates a home from 0 to 100 with 100 being the most energy-efficient rating.

10. True or False? ET irrigation uses technology developed in the Andromeda Galaxy.


Crafty Ideas For Winter Curb Appeal

During summer months when gardens are in bloom and the sun is shining bright, curb appeal comes naturally to many homes. But when the autumn chill turns to winter cold and the sun sets earlier in the day, it becomes more difficult to create that inviting exterior look that grabs buyers attention from the curb. Fortunately, it is possible to create striking winter curb appeal without expensive or complicated exterior changes. It just requires a little creativity:

 1. Add splashes of green and purple. Plants, grasses, and evergreens can liven up a home’s winter landscape. Experiment with tall grasses, such as fountain grasses, that survive harsh winters. And in late fall and early winter, plants from the cabbage family add a vibrant purple color. Make the front door the focal point with a large wreath adorned with a colorful ribbon. To finish the look, place large, colorful planters filled with evergreens beside the front door.

2. Give it seasonal sparkle. Transform an unused bird bath or fountain into a seasonal display by adding twigs with red berries. Or fill frost-resistant urns with twigs, winter greenery, and sparkly baubles which is sold at most craft stores. For extra sparkle, roll twigs in glitter and incorporate a gazing ball – a mirrored glass ball available in various colors – into the display.

3. Make the garden statuesque. Roman or Greek-themed outdoor sculptures can add class and elegance to a garden in winter. Be sure to use frost-resistant statues so they don’t crack. Place the statues strategically throughout the garden to draw buyers’ eyes around the outdoor space.

 4. Light it bright. During the winter, it’s more likely that buyers will be viewing home after sunset. Use clear flood spotlights to focus on the home’s architectural features. Keep exterior lighting fixtures at maximum wattage and clean them regularly. When snow covers the ground, use exterior home pictures at night with all of the interior lights on – the light bounces off the white snow to create a warm, inviting glow. For the best results, turn off the flash, and use a tripod to avoid blurring.

5. Show off the lifestyle. Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you can’t use the deck. Shovel and mulch your backyard sitting area, and leave your grill uncovered so buyers can envision themselves using the space. If the home has a hot tub, leave that open and running during showing as well.

6. Make the deck an extension of the house. Set up your outdoor tables and chairs just as you would in warmer months. Home owners often cover their furniture and place lawn objects haphazardly on the deck, where-as weatherproof cushions and pillows can play off of interior accent colors and make the indoor space feel larger and more interesting.

 7. Create a photo display of sunnier days. Show buyers what the outside of the home looks like during other seasons by displaying some landscape photos in frames or using a digital photo frame with slide show images. This will give a sense of what the property looks like other times of year. If the home has a garden, make a list of what’s planted where. Perennials can be expensive and should be treated as a selling feature.

8. Don’t forget to clear a path. If the ground is covered in snow, the simplest and the most important thing you can do is shovel the driveway and sidewalks and keep the home’s patios and decks as clear as possible so buyers can get a sense of their true size.