Marjorie Austin

Don’t Make These Landscaping Mistakes

Don't Make These Landscaping Mistakes

If you want to improve the look of your property then you start with your landscaping.  For commercial clients, good landscaping can attract good tenants and customers for the tenants in your property.  If you want to make the most of your curb appeal then good landscaping is where you start.  But do you have the time to be out there mowing your lawn every week, pulling weeds and planting flowers?  Probably not, that’s okay there is no shortage of landscape companies that will do the job for you.  The right landscaping company can take your property from ‘meh…it’s okay’ to ‘WOW’ in no time.

Hiring a landscaping company is a risk and if things don’t work out it can end up costing you money.  With that said, don’t make these landscaping mistakes when trying to get the right company.

Opting for the Lowest Price

Cheaper is rarely better and the old adage “you get what you pay for” holds true.  Yet, this is a common mistake that both residential and commercial clients make all the time.  Good landscaping is labor intensive and it requires specialized knowledge of plants and landscape designs.  Good quality services don’t come cheap, this is not some teenage kid trying to make a buck mowing your lawn.  Going with the lowest price landscaper may mean you need to hire another company in the future to fix their mistakes.  That doesn’t mean that the highest price is the best either, choose your landscaper based on their skills and the project you’re working on.

No Licenses or Insurance

One of the ways that landscaping companies can cut their prices is by not carrying the right licenses or insurance for their business. This is never a good idea, landscaping companies use heavy equipment and there is huge potential for accidents.  If an accident happens on your property and your landscaper isn’t insured then you can be held financially liable for damage to property or anyone that has been hurt because of their work.  In a nutshell if they make a mistake you can lose your shirt in a lawsuit.

Lacking Equipment

Bigger projects sometimes require heavy equipment like a backhoe for instance but not all landscape companies have such equipment.  That means that they will have to rent equipment while working on your property and that costs money.  They will pass that cost on to you and drive up the price of the work you need done.  If you have a big landscaping job or you are hiring for commercial property then you need a landscaping company that is big enough to take on the job.

Working with a Lawn Care Company

First there is nothing wrong with using a lawn care company…if you only want your lawn cut.  However a lawn care company doesn’t have the skill nor the equipment to handle actual landscaping.  Chances are no one on staff has a degree in botany or a related field, they have no experience with landscape design and aren’t up for the task.  Don’t waste your time or your money if they can’t handle the project you have.

Fixing Your Leaky Roof

Fixing Your Leaky Roof

There is nothing worse than sitting in the middle of your living room, reading a book while the weather outside is terrible but your snug in your warm dry house and then you feel a drip.  Then you feel another, before you know it you’re running to grab a bucket because it’s raining in your living room.  A roof leak is the last thing you want to deal with.  Don’t despair, fixing your leaky roof can be easier than you think, especially if you’re handy.

Finding the Leak

Having a leaky roof is not the end of the world, but it does need to be fixed. If you have a flat roof, where water can pool you need to fix it before you have a bigger problem.  The first thing that you need to do is find the leak.  You can start by looking for a missing shingle, it is usually pretty easy to spot.  If that isn’t the case then check and see if there is caulk missing, that will indicate where you need to begin your repairs.  Lastly, if you don’t see a visible problem then try and find the spot directly above where the water was coming in.

Fixing the Leak

Once you have found where the leak is coming in then you can replace the missing or faulty shingle.  Replacing the damaged shingle is always your best bet, but you can get away with a patch if it only the one. If you are repairing in the summer or spring then you should have no problems with the repair.  If you are trying to repair your shingle in the winter you are going to need some heat to make the repair a little easier for you.

When you are ready to put the shingle on your roof, you will have to pull back the other shingles so the new one blends in with the rest of the roof.  Just nail the shingle down.  At the same time make sure that you nail down any other shingles that might be sticking up.  Add some roofing cement to seal everything down and now your hole should be patched.  If after all this you still have leaks coming in when it rains then the patch may be beyond your skill set and it is time to call a roofing contractor to have a look.

Calling a Roofing Company

Calling a roofing company doesn’t mean that you have to spend tens of thousands of dollars replacing your roof.  A reputable roofing company will let you know when you can get away with a repair and when you really do need a new roof.  If you’re handy and confident in your abilities then always try and repair your roof first.  If the idea of climbing up on top of your roof to do any kind of repairs scares the pants off of you then call in a roofing company instead.  A small leak doesn’t mean you need a new roof, you may be able to get away with a repair.

Getting Your Air Ducts Cleaned

Getting Your Air Ducts Cleaned

Getting your air ducts cleaned will help keep the air quality in your home clean during the winter months.  Dirty air ducts make your furnace have to work harder during the winter months.  You can have a buildup of dust, debris and even mold in your ducts.  Cleaning the ducts is part of regular home maintenance and should be done in the fall, let’s look at what you need to know before you get your ducts clean.

Once a Year is Enough

There are tons of companies out there that are only interested in selling their services and not what your actual needs are.  If they tell you that you need to have your ducts cleaned every couple of months when in fact the EPA recommends having it done on an as-needed basis.  For most homeowners once a year is actually enough.

How the Ducts are Cleaned

Most companies will simply use an industrial strength vacuum to clean out the ducts, it will remove all of the dirt and debris from the HVAC system.  However, some companies will recommend that you also use an antimicrobial chemical to clean and sanitize your ducts. They consider this an easy upsell, especially in this era of Covid but this is rarely necessary.  If you don’t have mold in the duct work then sanitizing isn’t necessary for good air quality.  That being said, if you feel better using an antimicrobial agent in your ducts make sure it is EPA approved for residential use.  Here is an overview of how air ducts are cleaned.

Get a Written Quote

HVAC or air duct cleaning companies often run promotions advertising that they will clean your whole home for $99 or some low promotional price.  You need to examine the fine print, there are usually addons or extras that run the cost up pretty quickly.  Get a written quote that outlines the services and their exact cost.

Vet the HVAC Contractor

Double check online and take a look at the reviews and testimonials to see what other customers have to say about the company you are potentially doing business with.  Don’t just look at Google but check with the local Better Business Bureau and sites like Yelp or Angie’s List.

You also want to ask about the amount and type of training that the company has had.  Hiring an unqualified company can end in disaster, your best case scenario is that you spend money and the ducts don’t get cleaned.  The worst case scenario is that they actually damage your HVAC system and you are left with thousands of dollars in repairs.

License and Insurance

Never ever do business with a company that isn’t licensed and insured, it will come back to bite you in the long run.  No company should ever have a problem with showing you their documentation.  Make sure they have adequate coverage in the event they damage your HVAC system.

During the winter months when you are spending the most time in your home, with all the windows closed, you want to have the best air quality possible.  Getting your air ducts cleaned will keep your home healthy.

Inspect the Plumbing When You Buy a Home

Inspect the Plumbing When You Buy a Home

There are key steps to follow when buying a new home, one of the most important ones is getting your home inspection done.  Even people who have never bought a home before can spot big issues like cracked foundations or creaky flooring but it is things like furnaces, water heaters, and plumbing that will end up costing you big bucks if something goes wrong.  You need to inspect the plumbing when you buy a home and here is the how and why.

Look at the Sewer Pipes

A functioning plumbing system has two functions, to bring you clean water and to remove the dirty waste water.  Your sewer pipes are what takes away the dirty water away from the home.  If there are problems with your sewer lines, such as a clog or broken pipe then you run the risk of having raw sewage back up into your home and that is a headache you don’t want.  Fixing them can entail digging up your yard to get at the broken pipe.

Video Inspection

Today plumbing companies and home inspectors rely on video technology to see if there are any problems with your pipes. In the past when there was a problem the yard had to be dug up so a visual inspection could be done.  Today a fiber optic cable with a camera at the end can be put down the pipes to give you a thorough inspection.  You can know exactly what is wrong and more importantly where in your pipes the problem lies.

Looking for Tree Roots

If you have trees on your property then you have tree roots.  Tree roots go through the soil and they search for water, guess what your pipes are full of…water.  Tree roots can destroy your underground pipes, they can actually rip into the pipe itself and cause thousands of dollars in damage.  Small roots can actually bend the pipe and slow the flow of sewage coming from your home.

Look for Clogs

Big clogs will stop the flow of water all together and cause sewage to back up into your home. Small clogs slow down the flow of water and you may find your bathtub or shower slow to drain.  You get clogs from buildup and debris in your pipes, small clogs are actually pretty easy to remove they can actually be flushed out with hydrojetting.  Bigger clogs may require parts of the pipe to be replaced, it is best to know ahead of time if there are any issues.

Checking for Old Pipes

Just touring a potential home doesn’t really tell you how old your pipes are, only a thorough inspection will do that.  Once you have the entire sewer line inspected then you know what you need to repair and what you need to replace. That way the price you offer for the home reflects any repairs you need to do or you can negotiate with the homeowner to have it fixed before you take possession.

How Good Lighting Can Impact Your Home

One of the most important yet overlooked aspect of home renovations or décor is the lighting that you put in your home.  Lighting isn’t just there to create a mood it serves a purpose.  In smaller homes lighting can make the home look bigger.  When considering lighting you need to consider both inside your home and exterior lighting as well.

Lighting isn’t just choosing which bulbs to put into the sockets you also need to consider the purpose of the room, the layout and today you want to also think about energy consumption as well.  Let’s look at how good lighting can impact your home and how to make the best use of it.

The Purpose

The lighting that you want in your bathroom isn’t the same kind of lighting you want in a media room or man-cave.  The rooms in your home that are functional such as the kitchen, home office and the bathroom need enough lighting so that there is no eye strain.  In rooms like the living room, family room, bedroom or even the dining room then you want to be able to dim the lighting.  In rooms where you have dimmer lighting like the bedroom you can compensate with lamps to brighten the room when you need to.

Outdoor lighting serves another purpose it is there to keep your home safe and secure.  You want your outdoor lighting to light up walkways, porches, door steps and any other place where you or your guests come and go from the property.  It also deters criminals from coming onto your property when your property is well lit.

Working with Your Design

Not only should the light compliment your décor so should the light fixtures you choose.  Here’s an example, if your kitchen and dining area are styled in French country kitchen then a modern chandelier is going to look hideous.  Instead you want to find lights that work with the theme of the room, check out a lighting store and talk with one of the sales rep to see what type of lighting works with your rooms.

Layering the Light

In many of the rooms in your home you want to have the option of having the room dim or bright when you choose.  In the living room, family room and even the kitchen you can layer the lighting to suit your needs.  If you are having friends over dinner then you may want soft ambient lighting but if you’re helping a child with homework at the dining room table then you want bright light.  You can have an electrician install dimmers so you can go back and forth.

Energy Efficient

Energy costs are constantly rising and it pays to save energy whenever and wherever you can.  Investing in lighting fixtures that will save you money and look good is definitely worth it.  That goes for inside as well as outside. You can set your outdoor lights to work with a motion detector so you’re not lighting up the neighborhood if you forget to turn them off.  In your home you can switch to energy efficient LED lights and timers that will turn your lights off at a certain time.  There are lots of ways that good lighting can make a huge impact on your home.