When you don’t have a lot of space or open ground around your home, planting a garden might seem impossible. After all, plants need room to grow and soil to grow in, don’t they? While this is true, there is more than one way to get a garden growing. If you have limited outdoor space or don’t have room for a large garden plot, one option is to set up a vertical garden instead.
While not every garden plant is feasible for a vertical garden, you might be surprised at all of the things that you can grow vertically. Of course, you’ll first have to get your vertical garden set up and ready for spring planting. You have a lot of options with how you do this, so let’s take a moment to cover the essentials of what your vertical garden should have.
The first thing that you need to take into account is exactly where you’re going to locate your vertical garden. Your options may be limited depending on where you live, but if you choose a suboptimal location, then you’re going to have a hard time getting your garden to grow. At a minimum, you’re likely going to want a location that gets direct sunlight for at least part of the day, and a full 6 to 8 hours of sunlight will probably be required for most plants. If you have specific fruits or vegetables in mind already, do a bit of research into their sun requirements to help determine exactly what you’ll need. A southern-facing view may help you to get the sunlight that your plants need.
Access to water is also important. While you can always water your vertical garden by hand, it can save you a lot of effort if the garden is located in a spot that will get watered when it rains. Having access to the ground soil may be beneficial as well, though it isn’t a hard requirement; if you live in an apartment or otherwise plan on establishing your garden on a balcony or other location that doesn’t have open soil, you can always create your own growing environment with containers.
Once you have a location, your garden is going to need a growth framework so that it can actually start growing upward. Trellises, wire cages, tripods, and even fences can all make solid support structures so long as they are sturdy and able to be secured. These can be attached to the exterior of your home or other buildings, connected to balcony railings, or even secured into the ground. The method of securing your framework isn’t that important. What is important is that it’s secured well enough to be able to stand the weight of growing plants and eventual fruits or vegetables.
With the support structures in place, it’s time to prepare your soil. If planting directly into the ground, you’ll need to till the soil and add compost or other nutrients. If setting up containers, choose a soil or potting medium that will encourage root growth to help ensure that your plants are secure as they start to grow up. The weight of the soil and the eventual fruits or vegetables will help to keep the containers in place, so you don’t have to worry as much about securing them as you do your supports.
Once you’ve got your vertical garden set up, you can plant a variety of beans, peas, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, and even melons and pumpkins vertically. You’ll likely need to tie down the vines early on and provide support for the fruits and vegetables as they grow, but the work will be worth it.
Additions can be a good way to get more functionality out of your home. Your addition might be an extra bedroom for your expanding family, a home office to provide you with a space to work from home, or even a sunroom or hobby area. Your add-on might even be a way to add more space to existing rooms, removing or extending walls to let your current kitchen, bedroom, or other area flow seamlessly into your new addition. There are just so many possibilities.
Regardless of what you plan to use the room for, though, adding on to your house is a big undertaking and may be kind of a big investment as well. Even relatively small additions can be a big project, so it’s important that you know exactly what your plans will entail before you start work on expanding your home. To help with this, here are a few things to consider when making plans to add on to your home.
Though you may have a good idea of where you want your addition to go, it’s important to spend some time actually planning it out. Consider details such as where the property line is located, whether there are any size or location restrictions based on state and local building codes, and whether there will be issues with the location of utilities or the slope of your property that could cause problems. Taking the time to rule out potential problems with your addition now will save you a lot of headaches down the road.
Another thing to keep in mind is how well your addition will combine with your existing home. While you obviously have a good reason to want more square footage, if you just have an added room tacked awkwardly onto your home, it can have a major impact on your home’s overall value. A good addition will blend seamlessly into your existing home, matching the exterior and making it difficult to tell that an add-on was made down the road.
Depending on the sort of addition you want to make, the budget for your add-on can fall within a pretty wide range. It’s very important that you spend some time researching exactly what it will take to make your expansion plans a reality. The time of year, materials costs, and factors such as the size and types of materials you choose will all affect how much you’re going to have to spend. Taking the time to do a bit of research and consult with your contractor about the options available to you can end up making a big difference in the final cost of your expansion.
This is important not just because of the immediate impact to your pocketbook, but also the overall difference that it makes on your home’s value. All the money that you put into your addition is an investment in your home, and you want to get the biggest return on that investment that you can. Making smart choices and not letting your budget balloon out of control will go a long way toward maximizing your home’s value in comparison to the cost of your add-on. It’s more work now, but you’ll be thanking yourself if you find yourself wanting to sell your home at some point down the road.
Choosing the right contractor is one way that you can affect the overall cost of your addition and maximize the return on your investment.
When you prequalify for a home loan, it means you’re getting an estimate of how much you may be able to borrow based on the information you provide about your finances and your credit check. While it isn’t as formal as being preapproved, getting prequalified is an excellent first step when you begin your home search, as it will help you establish your budget and know how much you may be able to borrow. This process will also introduce you to the various mortgage options you have to choose from.
Information needed for prequalification includes:
The prequalification can be completed online, over the phone, or in person. You’ll receive a prequalification lender, which you can use to show an agent or seller that you’re serious about buying. Although it can be helpful, a prequalification isn’t seen as being as serious as preapproval. The lender goes off the information you provided and does not verify everything you’ve given them is correct, up to date, and comprehensive. Meaning, while you may get a loan for the amount stated, it can also change when a lender does a more thorough check.
The preapproval process involves a lender investigating your income, assets, credit history, and debts before providing you with an amount they believe you can afford. Getting preapproved confirms to the seller that you’re serious about buying their home and that you can secure a mortgage, making you more likely to complete the purchase. Being preapproved can be extremely valuable in a competitive market, as it will help you stand out from the other homebuyers.
You don’t have to receive prequalification for preapproval. If you know you’re financially prepared to buy, you can decide to move ahead to the preapproval process.
Information needed for preapproval may include:
Additionally, if someone is helping you pay for the home, you’ll need a gift letter signed and dated by the individual assisting you.
Once you submit this information to a lender, you should receive their decision within ten business days. If you are preapproved, you’ll receive a preapproval letter informing you of the offer to lend you a specific amount for sixty or ninety days, along with the type of mortgage the lender is willing to offer. Since the lender verifies the information you provided, this is a much more serious step than prequalification.
While you may receive preapproval for a mortgage, it’s important to remember it does not guarantee a mortgage. If there is a change to your income, assets, or debt level before the closing date, a lender may decide to deny the loan.
Prequalification and preapproval are just a part of the mortgage application process. Check out this list of nine things to consider before and during this critical part of the journey to finding your next home.
Cottage-style kitchens are an increasingly popular option when it comes to creating an attractive yet functional kitchen layout. These cottage kitchens usually rely on an open layout so that everything is easily accessible regardless of what you need. In lieu of bulky cabinets and endless drawers, these kitchens make heavy use of open shelving and pegboards to hold everything. It can be a very attractive look for your kitchen and a pretty functional layout as well, but if you’re not careful, it’s also an invitation for chaos.
The ugly truth is that cabinets and drawers became popular because they keep all of the clutter and disarray hidden safely away and add a bit of built-in organization to the pandemonium of kitchen layouts. Do away with most of the cabinets, and all that clutter is left out in the open. Fortunately, there are ways to tame it. It does require a bit of thought in your approach, though.
One of the big traps that people fall into with cottage kitchen shelving is trying to maximize its display properties without thinking about how to maximize efficiency. The look of plates, glasses, and various other bits of kitchen must-haves arranged neatly on shelves is certainly appealing. If you’re not careful, though, you’re going to end up with at least some of your shelves being overcrowded and a pain to work with as you sort through them to find exactly what you’re looking for.
The key to successful shelving is to arrange everything so that it’s not only appealing to look at but also on the shelves for a particular reason. Before placing anything on shelves, stop and think about which shelves those specific items would be best on. Consider where in the kitchen you’ll use them the most, and install shelves in those areas so that your prep tools can be near your prep station and your baking tools can be near your oven. Supplementing your shelving with under-table drawers, cabinets, and other unobtrusive storage solutions can also aid with this without ruining the cottage aesthetic you’ve created with your shelving.
Pegboards are another common sight in cottage-style kitchens, but they can become a messy array of items stuck up seemingly at random if you aren’t careful. It can take a little while to find an ideal layout of your spoons, tools, and other pegboard items, but once you have it then you should do everything you can to keep it. Even a few items placed incorrectly can throw off the entire arrangement and lead to your perfect organization falling into clutter.
A great option here is to get everything placed on your pegboard and then carefully trace around the various items lightly with a pencil. Once you have outlines of everything, remove it all and take the pegboard down. Carefully fill in those outlines with paint, using a variety of colors that match or accent the dominant colors in your kitchen. For added flair, paint a small stripe on the handles of your spoons and other tools that match the space you filled in for it on the pegboard to make it easy to see when anything is out of place.
The more thought you put into the design and functionality of your shelving and other cottage kitchen storage solutions, the easier it will be to avoid clutter in the future.
Having pets can enrich your life in a number of ways and can even improve your overall mental health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, not every home is really set up for pets. By making some improvements to your home and its layout, you can make it much more pet friendly, and help keep your furry (or scaly or feathery) friends safe and happy as you spend your time together.
Exactly how do you go about making your home more pet friendly, though? There are a few things you’ll need to consider, including the type of pet you have, its indoor/outdoor habits, and its size. While many of these things are specific to your individual pet, there are some more general changes that you can make to help make your home more pet friendly as well.
If you’ve got an older house, you might want to do a few interior updates to help ensure that your pets are safe from harm. Redoing the walls to remove old paint that could have lead or other unwanted compounds goes a long way toward this goal, while also giving you a way to significantly change the look of the inside of your home. Your floors may need an update as well, such as replacing old frayed carpet with new carpeting or installing new vinyl. This could also be a good idea if you’ve got old wood floors and are concerned about scratching or splinters as your pets go back and forth with heavy paws and claws.
There are other changes that you can make as well. Replace frayed curtains or broken blinds with something a bit more modern to not only keep your pets safe but also keep your home looking nice as well. Depending on your home, you might have additional projects in mind that will not only improve the look but also help to keep your pets much safer from day to day.
A big part of making a home pet friendly comes down to controlling access. The parts of the house (or outdoors) that your pet is allowed into should be easy for them to access. Areas where they aren’t allowed should be difficult for them to access, but ideally easy for you to get into. Home updates to accommodate this can include things like adding pet doors, installing new doors that latch easily, or hanging interior gates that you can use to block and unblock access to specific rooms or other areas with ease.
If you have pets that are allowed outside, these sorts of considerations apply out there as well. Installing a fence, adding a watering station, or making other exterior accommodations for your pets will help keep them safe while outside, even as they’re allowed more freedom than they would have gotten as an indoor-only pet. Just make sure that any exterior changes that you make don’t run afoul of local ordinances or HOA agreements before you start work, so you can avoid problems down the road.
In some cases, you may find yourself wanting to make some bigger changes to your home in order to better accommodate pets. Perhaps you want to change out some of your windows with larger ones so that your pets can more easily look outside. Maybe you need to update your HVAC system to better remove pet dander from the air. You might even decide to add on a small room or other area that’s designed specifically for your pets’ use.
Nobody wants to have to file a homeowner’s insurance claim. After all, filing a claim means that something has gone horribly wrong at home. Maybe it’s damage from a storm, or a frozen pipe that burst, or some other unexpected problem. Whatever the cause, the damage was severe enough that you need to make a claim on the policy that up until now you’d hoped would never actually have to be used.
Exactly what’s involved with filing a homeowner’s insurance claim, though? While the filing process is similar to that with other forms of insurance, there are a few things about homeowner’s insurance that might seem confusing if you’ve never really dealt with it before. To make sure that everything goes smoothly, here’s some advice on what to expect when filing a homeowner’s insurance claim.
The first thing that you need to do to file a homeowner’s insurance claim is to contact your insurance company. This doesn’t mean that you should drop everything and call your insurance, though. Depending on the situation, there may be a few other things that your insurance company tells you to do before they can actually start working on a claim, so you may want to at least get them started first.
If your claim involves burglary, criminal damage to your property, or any other legal matter, you’re likely going to want to go ahead and call the police, because your insurance company will require a police report. You’ll also want to shut off the water or gas if necessary and take any other actions that are required to make your home safe. Take pictures (ideally with timestamps on) before you take any action, so that you can show the insurance company what the situation looked like before your intervention, then take additional pictures once you’ve shut things down. This documentation will be important to your claim once it gets started.
Once you contact your insurance company, you’ll need to go through the specifics of what happened in as much detail as you can provide. If you had to shut off the water or take any other action, be sure to describe exactly what you did and let them know that you have before and after pictures as well. Point out any safety concerns such as broken windows that need to be boarded up, or any other safety-related repairs that might need to be made, so that your insurance agent can make note of them before you take any additional action. Be sure to take before and after photos of those repairs as well.
After your initial call, and any temporary repairs or changes that your agent approved have been made, you’re going to have to fill out some paperwork and take additional pictures and videos to document everything you can about the claim. The insurance company will likely send someone out to inspect your home in person as well, and you may have to go over all of these details again with them. Make copies of all your pictures and videos, and save every receipt related to the incident, including both any materials that were needed for temporary repairs, and things like hotel receipts if the house isn’t safe to stay in until repairs are complete. It may seem like a lot of hoops to jump through, but once the company approves your claim, you’ll be glad that you documented everything.
When your claim is finally approved, you’re going to need someone to make the repairs that your home needs. While your insurance company may have some suggestions, in many cases you’ll be free to choose your own contractors and other pros that will work with your insurance company throughout the repair process.
There are a number of choices available to you when it comes to how you heat and cool your home. While many people choose electric means of cooling, heating is often a different story. The heating options for your home include things like gas heat, wood-burning heating, and even ambient heating solutions that use steam or hot water to pump heat through pipes in concrete flooring. Some homes even use a combination of these methods to heat different rooms in the house.
If you’re considering how you want to heat and cool your own home, however, there is something to be said for using an all-electric solution. While electric heat and air might not be right for every home or every homeowner, it’s at least worth considering if you’re in the market for a new home or are planning out a new construction project. If you’ve never really given an all-electric home much consideration, here are a few things that you should think about.
It seems like every year, the cost of heating your home is going up. There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is fluctuations in the cost of heating fuels such as propane and natural gas. Depending on where you live, using these fuels as a heat source can be pretty expensive over the course of increasingly harsh winters when you’re going to have to run the heat a lot. Supply issues can also make it difficult to get refills of fuels like propane when you need them, and if you are able to secure a refill for your tank, then the increased demand could drive prices even higher.
While the cost of electricity also sees periodic increases, electric power isn’t as prone to wild fluctuations as some other fuels are. This can create more price stability over the course of a season, even in the event of severe winter weather that might drive up demand and pricing for some other fuels. Given that your home is already wired for electricity, it also offers the convenience of giving you a single bill for your heating and cooling needs without the requirement of scheduling refills or making other provisions to secure fuel.
Another big potential advantage of going all-electric is that you can use solar energy as a means to offset or even eliminate your heating and cooling costs. By installing solar panels on your roof or near your home, you can offset your use of grid power, or even charge batteries that your home will draw some or all its power from. Depending on the size of your solar setup, this can result in a significant decrease in the amount that you pay to heat and cool your home (and run everything else, too) throughout the year.
The savings from going solar can extend beyond just your heating and cooling costs, too. Installing solar panels at your house may qualify you for certain tax breaks or other benefits, saving you money when it comes time to pay your taxes as well. If you have a large enough solar setup, you may even be able to produce more power than your home uses. Depending on where you live, this could give you an opportunity to sell some power back to the grid, actually making money off of your home’s power setup.
There are several ways that you can go all-electric, from buying a house that already has an all-electric setup to having a new electric unit installed to replace previous heating and cooling equipment. If you’ve already got an all-electric setup, you can also look at options such as solar to reduce your costs even more.