Attic Insulating Tips

Insulating your attic retains conditioned air–that is, heated or chilled air–within the living spaces of your home, conserving energy and money. Additionally, it helps extend roof life in regions with cold winters, as an uninsulated attic will draw warmth from the home and get hot enough to melt snow on the roof. Since the water runs off the roof, it refreezes, creating an”ice dam” that allows water penetrate under the shingles.

Seal All Leaks

Insulation is made simply to prevent heat from moving through building materials, such as drywall, ductwork and ceiling joists. When air is leaking out of the conditioned areas of your home into the attic, insulation isn’t likely to prevent it. That is why it’s critical to seal all air escapes before placing in any insulating material. Use materials such as caulk, weatherstripping and expanding urethane foam to seal any leaks.

Get Enough R-Value

“R-value” is a measure of a material’s ability to insulate. The”R” stands for resistance, as in resistance to heat transport. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulation. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends that attic spaces be insulated to a minimum R-value ranging from R-30 in the southern United States to R-38 at the middle tier of their nation to R-49 in the cold climates of the upper Midwest and northern New England. Insulating products are tagged with an R-value per inch. Fiberglass batt insulation, as an instance, is about R-3.5 per inch, so to receive a worth of R-49, you would need a coating 14 inches thick.

Don’t Cover Vents

Most attics are vented so the temperature within the attic is roughly equivalent to the temperatures outside. Roofing life is prolonged by this. Air comes into the attic through vents at the soffits–the bottom of the eaves–and exits through other vents in the roof. When placing down insulation, be careful not to pay the soffit vents, or your attic will not be suitably ventilated.

Insulate the Hatch

The attic entrance, such as a hatch in the ceiling below, should be as well-insulated as the rest of the attic. When you’re working in the attic installing insulation, you’ll probably leave the hatch open, so it’s easy to overlook. But should you’ve got 14 inches of insulation on the floor of the attic, be certain to have 14 inches on top of the hatch.

Don’t Let It Get Wet

Check the attic ceiling–the bottom of the roof–for water marks and stains. It might be putting into the insulating material, if water is getting into the attic. Wet insulation is all but useless, as water conducts heat very effectively. Also make sure that any exhaust fans–especially toilet fans–port to the outside instead of into the attic. Moist air in the toilet can condense on the insulating material, destroying its ability to prevent heat transport.

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FHA Income-to-Debt Ratios

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). While neither bureau loans money, the FHA insures mortgages accepted by participating lenders. If a homeowner defaults in an FHA-backed loan, the federal government reimburses the lender. Due to this assurance, credit requirements, for example debt-to-income ratios, for FHA loans are generally less strict than for conventional mortgages, based on Tracey C. Velt of


Debt-to-income ratios are simple measures used to judge a customer’s ability to repay a mortgage loan or other debt. Since explains, lenders consider just two debt-to-income ratios. One considers mortgage debt relative to earnings. The other looks at how much overall debt–loan, credit card, auto and student loan debt–a customer has compared to his earnings. The greater a person’s debt-to-income score, the larger credit risk lenders consider them.


FHA debt-to-income ratios are somewhat more generous than the ones set by underwriters for conventional mortgage loans. Based on Velt’s report, FHA guidelines allow prospective homeowners to invest around 31 percent of their income on mortgage debt. Concerning overall debt, that amount sits at 43 percent, as of July 2010. When an applicant’s debt-to-income score are greater than 31 and 43 percent, respectively, they still might qualify for an FHA loan; it only gets tougher.


HUD advises lenders to include comments on software with high debt-to-income ratios explaining why they consider the applicant an”acceptable risk.” suggests that homeowners with high debt-to-income ratios request their lender to run them through HUD’s automated underwriting system. This procedure tends to permit greater debt-to-income ratios than manually-processed programs.


Homeowners whose debt-to-income ratios exceed HUD/FHA guidelines must prepare to support their case. suggests showing a record of on-time credit payments as well as the proven ability to fulfill a large mortgage payment. While FHA loans typically permit a down payment of as low as 3.5 percent, as of July 2010, Bankrate recommends increasing the ante to greater than 10 percent for a means to place lenders at ease.

Expert Insight

Velt’s report points out that debt-to-income ratio standards for loans other than FHA products must be somewhat low. For example, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac use 28 and 36 percent thresholds as opposed to FHA’s 31 and 43 percent figures. Homeowners with surplus debt are not guaranteed an FHA loan. Based on Velt’s investigation, applicants for FHA loans accepted between January 2008 and August 2009 had moderate fico scores between 621 and 692. Additionally, FHA needs a comparatively sound recent–the last two years or so–credit history and evidence of reliable income.

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The Way to Acquire a Subprime Mortgage

According to AARP,”The subprime mortgage market consists of companies that loan cash to home buyers who would not otherwise qualify for conventional mortgages because of a subpar credit report or deficiency of money for a downpayment–or both.” Oftentimes a mortgage is used as a temporary vehicle to facilitate a house purchase. Mortgage loans are also used to obtain money from home equity. A frequently overlooked advantage of loans would be # 039 a homeowner & ability to procure an interest rate with the intention of consolidating higher interest debt.

Speak with a financial advisor about tax-advantaged utilization of loans. Get advice. A financial advisor may offer advice that gives you several methods for allocating your proceeds, versus your usage of the money. Additionally, an advisor can explain the tax advantages of paying things, to buy down your interest rate, when buying your house.

Contact subprime mortgage lenders to locate programs that fulfill your requirements. Some subprime lenders specialize in purchase money mortgages, while others are famous for applications that require income documentation that is restricted. A comprehensive search may be necessary to locate subprime loan applications which you require (see Resources).

Utilize the services of a mortgage agent to find your subprime loan. Mortgage brokers have. Save time by informing a mortgage agent of your specific loan needs. Your mortgage broker will examine a loan database to locate lenders that meet your requirements.

Apply for a loan. Entire a mortgage application, as well as state and national disclosures. You will be informed by A mortgage originator of the loan requirements. Typically, you’ll need to provide a 12-month housing payment history.

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What's an FHA Inspector Look For?

Though some realtors might tell you that the Federal Housing Administration doesn’t even need an inspection of the house you wish to buy, this is not exactly true. If you would like to get a house and receive an FHA loan, the house and construction must meet certain appraisal criteria determined by the FHA. However, an FHA appraisal is vastly different than a conventional house inspection, and shouldn’t substitute a typical home inspection–particularly as it is not as thorough.

Inspection Procedure

The FHA requires that an expert appraiser or inspector use an FHA checklist during the inspection process of the house you plan to purchase. The checklist can help to ensure the house you buy is safe for the occupants and sound for underwriting functions. An FHA loan approval is determined by the house passing this inspection.

FHA Criteria

An FHA appraisal estimates the value of the house, ensures that it meets minimum property standards and determines that the residence will be marketable. An FHA inspector looks for 12 requirements of home and their house. Minor wear-and-tear or cosmetic problems, including missing handrails, worn or cracked countertops, broken windows and damaged plaster, don’t need to be mended to pass an FHA inspection. But well contamination, structural damage that poses a hazard or active termite infestation has to be mended before the FHA will undersign your mortgage.

Property Deficiencies

The FHA inspector walks around the house searching for site hazards, soil contamination, and drainage and grading problems that can generate standing water or flooding of the house. The inspector takes images from angles that clearly portray the grade of the property and its drainage. An FHA inspector assesses the septic and well for deficiencies to make sure both work well and that no contaminants are present.


If the house shows active evidence of wood-destroying insects, like termites, the FHA requires a broader inspection, “mandated by local or state authority and if termite activity is customary/prevalent” in this region, according to the national Department of Housing and Urban Development. A extensive termite inspection ensures that the house is structurally sound. Active infestation has to be treated in front of a house meets the standards on the FHA checklist.

Interior and Exterior

The inspector ensures that mechanical systems in the house that contribute to its value–like an HVAC system and appliances–are in good working order. The FHA also requires that the construction of the house, the roof and the foundation are free of major deficiencies, for example poisonous foundation settlement.

Painted Surfaces

The inspector looks for deteriorated paint. However, chipping paint or “defective paint surfaces” on houses built after 1978 don’t need to be mended unless the harm leaves the surface exposed, according to HUD. Defective paint on houses built prior to 1978 needs repair because of the safety risk associated with direct, which has been used in paint before it was banned in 1978.

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Mortgage Originator FAQ

Mortgage originators help home buyers qualify. They do this by gathering the financial information that helps loan underwriters determine if potential buyers have the fiscal capability to repay their mortgage loans. Working as a loan officer requires an ability to be both a sales man –effective mortgage originators must constantly find new customers and earn referrals from present ones–along with also a numbers person.

The Salary

Loan officers can make a sizable annual income or a little one; it all depends on how many customers they property and how many referrals they can convince these customers to provide them. New loan officers have to work hard at establishing their business, while seasoned mortgage originators have to constantly remain consistent with their community of past and current customers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the median salary of mortgage loan officers stood at $54,700 in May 2008.

The Function

Mortgage originators help consumers use for the mortgage loans that they'll use to pay for their new homes. To try it, originators obtain a wealth of financial information from their customers: They have to learn these clients' annual incomes and monthly debt commitments. They need to also obtain information about the debtors ' savings, financial assets and their previous, especially if they've had foreclosures or bankruptcies. Mortgage originators must also find out how long borrowers have been employed at their current job. Loan officers order credit checks of their clientele. This pulls up clients' three-digit fico scores, which lenders rely on to determine if customers are older or reckless borrowers. Originators finally pass this information to loan underwriters who determine if borrowers meet the lending institution's demands to qualify for mortgage loans. If loans are approved, the loan officer generally attends the closure. At this time, home buyers signal their final records and make any payments necessary to close the real estate marketplace. Loan officers attend in case their borrowers have some queries.

Training, Education

Many countries now require that loan originators obtain a permit before practicing. Individuals usually need to complete a certain number of course hours and pass an exam to earn the permit. Originators in many states have to also complete a specific number of continuing education hours each year to ensure that they keep up to date with new financing regulations. Two associations, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors and the American Association of Residential Mortgage Regulators, have established the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System, an online database of state accreditation and continuing education requirements for mortgage originators (see Resources).

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Saving Facades: Modern Gems Merge Old and New

Contemporary structure is the misunderstood, trouble-making child of the constructed world. I found exactly how much trouble modern structure makes for people following writing this article for , at which the Comments section quickly filled with strong opinions — my own included.

The current perception of contemporary architecture is one of steel, glass and museum-like space. I feel that contemporary architecture is a greater thought — one that represents how we live now. The dictionary definition of contemporary is “Of, relating to, or characteristic of the present or the immediate past rather than the distant past.”

That said, how do we tackle the aging population of historical buildings? If they just be torn down because they signify a previous age and lifestyle that’s no longer relevant to the current homeowners? Might it be feasible to accomplish a contemporary work of design while maintaining an aged historical facade?

Listed below are several projects that have achieved exactly that — ancient structures made relevant by merging the old and the new.

Vinci | Hamp Architects

1. Mid North Residence, Vinci | Hamp Architects

This masonry building in Chicago was a dairy distribution center, but has been renovated into a beautiful, contemporary home that wraps around an interior courtyard. The intricate masonry detailing of the front facade (which is so hard to replicate now) was maintained, while the interior was rethought and redesigned.

Vinci | Hamp Architects

The recently designed living area within this former warehouse opens into the courtyard with big glass doors, filling the space with light and views. It’s a contemporary space that represents the lifestyle of its occupants.

Vinci | Hamp Architects

I adore this home’s beautifully comprehensive toilet vanity. It’s simple and beautiful. A mirror matched by extraneous lights mounts into the wall, with the lights woven into the mirror design.

The detailing of this bath vanity complements the exterior aesthetic as a contemporary contemporary upgrade.

Watch more of this home’s design

Vinci | Hamp Architects

2. Wicker Park Residence, Vinci | Hamp Architects

Here is an Italianate mansion and coach house conversion by the same architect as the previous project. Part of the home, for example, entrance and living area, was restored while other spaces were remodeled at a contemporary aesthetic.

Vinci | Hamp Architects

The marriage of the old and the new could be clearly seen here. A decorative wood stair handrail immediately converts to a more contemporary stainless steel style. The stair leads to an open and sky-lit playroom.

Vinci | Hamp Architects

After seeing the exterior, you could imagine a dim and spooky attic area, akin to your favorite horror film, at the peak of this home. Instead, the architect provided a beautifully open and light-filled multifunctional playroom.

Watch more of this Home

Schwartz and Architecture

3. Buena Vista Residence, Schwartz and Architecture

Historical homes often fail to provide for contemporary amenities — such as a practical kitchen. This isn’t surprising, given how we now cook far differently then if the homes were originally constructed. This San Francisco Victorian was no different, necessitating an upgrade to its kitchen.

Schwartz and Architecture

In this photo, you may see the juxtaposition of the new and the older as the wood from the new cabinetry climbs over the old hardwood flooring. The kitchen is comprehensive in a contemporary, clean aesthetic. The architect took good advantage of the present windows to fill the kitchen with lighting.

Watch more of this Home

Jenn Hannotte / Hannotte Interiors

4. Parkdale Victorian Renewal

Occasionally, a contemporary renovation into a historical home isn’t in the details, but at the role of the space. This three-story Victorian in Toronto would fall into that category. The house didn’t work with the couple’s style, so they went through a year of renovations to open up the six bedroom home to a more contemporary, family space.

Jenn Hannotte / Hannotte Interiors

Here, the kitchen opens into the dining area — a contemporary idea. The kitchen faucet is updated in its function, but visually nearer to the home’s original Victorian style.

Jenn Hannotte / Hannotte Interiors

The designer used a small window to bring light and airiness to the bathroom — a room that is typically under consideration in older Victorians. See more of this house.

These projects indicate that new can marry with the historical — functionally and aesthetically.

We’d love to understand your mixture of old and new. Please show us your house in the Comments section below.

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How to Refinance a Lease

Rental properties can offer a steady stream of residual income for an investor who oversees his possessions well. You can use the property equity in an investment property, by way of instance, to fund developments and also to improve cash flow, according to the Quicken Loans site. Using a portion of your equity at a rental house may allow you to obtain extra rental units.

Review your goals for assessing your rental house. A term and rate refinance may decrease your monthly payment or convert an adjustable-rate mortgage to your fixed-rate loan. A refinance loan that offers cash-out from the property’s equity could be used for repairs, taxes or maintenance.

Order your credit report online using the Annual Credit Report site. Mortgage lenders impose stricter credit requirements for land owners who refinance second homes and rental properties. Increasing your credit score could help you secure much better interest rates. Dispute items which are reported. TransUnion, Experian and Equifax will investigate erroneous data that appears on your credit file. Ensure any past-due items are solved prior to applying for a mortgage refinance.

Contact your present mortgage lender to refinance your lease house. Your lender already has information about the house that you own. Having an acceptable payment history on your present loan could help you qualify for a refinance with your existing lender.

Go on the internet to locate other lenders which can refinance your rental home. Apply online to get several speed quotes to choose from.

Provide the creditor with information regarding your rental property that you choose. You will need to furnish information about your rental property, such as the amount of units which are rented or vacant, copies of leases, tax returns and proof of your present income.

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Can We Bounce Some Great Recycled-Rubber Ideas Off You?

Tires are among the world’s biggest and most sources. But as long as we drive cars, we’ll probably need rubber. So till we find an alternative to this modern-day essential, recycling and reclaiming rubber is vital to reducing our landfill waste. While tires and other rubber products have been recycled for sport surfaces and rubber shoes, they have seldom been applied in large quantities — till lately.

Today recycled rubber can be found in everything from furniture to flooring. Keen to decrease landfill? See here how you can use recycled rubber around your property.

Marc Grañén

The basics: The significant commercial source of natural rubber latex is that the para rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis). This tree is native to South America and was the most important source of rubber throughout most of the 19th century. Now Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia account for more than 70 percent of all natural rubber manufacturing.

Natural rubber is removed from the trees via a tap and hauled to factories. Synthetic rubber is created through a petroleum manufacturing process called polymerization.

Shades Of Green Landscape Architecture

Both natural and synthetic rubber products can be recycled to form new products or to repair damaged ones. Fortunately, recycling rubber uses far less energy than producing new rubber, reducing the demand for new merchandise and preventing rubber tree plantations from expanding into sensitive ecosystems.

InsideStyle Home and Design

Uses: Rubber’s elastic, durable and nonslip surface works nicely for flooring and tile products. Rubber can be used for garden mulches, landscaping, paving, sinks and even furniture.

The rubber coffee table in this picture looks great and keeps coffee mugs from sliding around also!


Experts: Recycled rubber is a hardworking antislip material, perfect for kitchens and bathrooms. Now’s manufacturing techniques produce recycled plastic in a range of colors and textures, which makes it an easy match for virtually any design. Its ability to absorb and deaden seems makes it great for children’s playroom flooring and roof gardens, also.

Recycled rubber’s insulating properties make it perfect for landscaping; as a ground cover it can protect plants from frost. Softer than stone and concrete, it’s a good selection for child-friendly places.


Exterior rubber pavers have a lower embodied energy and absorb force much better than standard concrete versions. They usually contain a very high percentage of recycled plastic and require no glue or other chemicals to put in.

Anne Kunzig

Disadvantages: Most firms who manufacture and sell recycled tire mulch for gardening condition that it’s completely nontoxic. However, some environmental groups — for example Environmental Human Health — have concerns about toxins leaching into the earth and impeding essential microbes from breaking down the ground for healthy plant growth.

Recycled rubber can also smell unpleasant if it’s hot, and certain applications can be costly.

Ogawa Fisher Architects

Factors: the total amount of postconsumer recycled content in plastic flooring fluctuates greatly depending on the manufacturer. Some use both recycled and natural rubber, so pay attention to content labels and search for a high percentage of recycled content that is locally produced.

Lisa Designs

Upcycling: Should you find yourself with a leftover rubber tire in your hands, consider using it outdoors for a planter or some good old-fashioned tire swing. Obviously, it’s not merely tires which are made of rubber. Fantastic planters can be made by those older gardening Wellies!

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A Modern Garden Pavilion Sprouts Up on an Ex–Pot Farm

After agents captured an old 1940s house in East Dallas and its neighboring bunch during a marijuana raid, the land landed on a national auction. The site was ideal for a local avid gardener (a more legal one), that snatched both the house and the next-door whole lot for approximately $120,000 ($60,000 for each parcel).

Wanting to maximize the yard area, the owner tapped TKTR Architects to create a small, budget-friendly house that felt connected to the leafy whole lot — then rented out the old house near it. Main designer Thad Reeves, now of A Gruppo Architects, created a design that successfully anchors the house to the eclectic, bohemian area and determines the website as exceptional — and for much better reasons than its shady past.

in a Glance
Who resides: An avid gardener
Location: Little Forest Hills area of Dallas
Size: 1,450 square feet; 2 bedrooms, 21/2 bathrooms

A.GRUPPO Architects – Dallas

Reeves worked with the client to come up with the idea of a garden pavilion house with lots of glass and sliding doors. The small footprint, about 1,450 square feet, meant there wasn’t too much design freedom for him to perform with the design; he was made to make a stubby structure. However, Reeves smartly extended the shape with overhangs along with a large pavilion-style cedar roof which extends for colour and also makes the structure feel bigger.

Triangular windows help highlight the idea of a floating roof and allow light into the second-floor bedrooms.

A.GRUPPO Architects – Dallas

Reeves estimates that the entire cost for the project was approximately $100 per square foot. The original owner has since moved, but the new homeowner, also an avid gardener, snatched up the house after considering building a small glass box of his own. Reeves’ design was just what he wanted.

The present homeowner uses different bins to make a vegetable garden where he develops leafy greens (although nothing smokable), tomatoes and peppers. He’s also a beekeeper. His yellowish bee box is near the metallic fence.

A.GRUPPO Architects – Dallas

A.GRUPPO Architects – Dallas

A metallic walkway leads to front garden. The aluminum subway grate in addition lets light through so plants could grow underneath. Overhangs help divide the massiveness of the structure.

A.GRUPPO Architects – Dallas

The interior materials are fairly subdued — Reeves used brown Masonite panels and doors to keep things cheap and easy — therefore the architect thought the floor deserved some texture. It’s concrete polished with a grinding wheel to expose the aggregate.

Dining table: custom by Sean Springer; chairs: Crate & Barrel

A.GRUPPO Architects – Dallas

Reeves left the trusses from the second floor vulnerable to save money but also to bring a raw feel to the house. “Usually people insure that with Sheetrock,” he states. “However, I wanted the juxtaposition of glistening and unfinished.”

Sofa: Crate & Barrel; rug: Design Within Reach

A.GRUPPO Architects – Dallas

Reeves calls the area the lightbox. Polycarbonate panels insure a laminate veneer timber frame. Not only would glass have been pricey, but also the light could have been too intense and created too much heat gain indoors. The panels help diffuse light and provide much better insulation than clear glass “We travelled with diffused light rather than perspectives,” he states.

Because there aren’t external plywood panels to maintain the structure from changing, X-bars offer lateral bracing.

The treads are more laminate veneer timber.

A.GRUPPO Architects – Dallas

The kitchen counter top is stainless steel on plywood.

Tile: Home Depot

A.GRUPPO Architects – Dallas

The floor on the second floor is polyurethane plywood to help keep down cost. Reeves states that the sheets came out to approximately $1 per square foot for materials and labour.

To split up the light-diffusing panels, a glass window captures a few outside views.

A.GRUPPO Architects – Dallas

“In a house so small, you have to actually think about where to set the windows,” Reeves says. “In a small area, sometimes you only get one.”

Triangular windows and a screened-in porch in the principal bedroom help bring light in, while a strategically positioned wall window extends directly out from the hallway to capture a sliver of a view, which makes the room feel bigger.

A.GRUPPO Architects – Dallas

The homeowner converted a spare bedroom into a music space, with a grand piano, guitars a banjo and a seating area.

Paint: Antique Tin, Behr

A.GRUPPO Architects – Dallas

The cedar trellis roof extends to the rear of the house, in which a wraparound deck leads to a rolling green yard. The outside panels are gray Hardie boards, one of which can be painted lime green.

A.GRUPPO Architects – Dallas

Reeves says the biggest challenge was making the compact house feel spacious. Connecting the house to the leafy whole lot by sliding glass doors, smartly placed windows and the diffused lightbox created the winning solution.

A.GRUPPO Architects – Dallas

More: See hundreds more Tours full of design ideas

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8 Remodeling Touches That Make a Big Difference

After we did our remodel, our contractor suggested a million things I had never really thought about. They were not necessarily design concerns; they were more quality-of-life concerns — just small things you didn’t know you were missing until you had them.

Listed below are eight small touches I didn’t know I couldn’t live without until I lived together. What are yours?


1. An integrated dish soap dispenser. Because I really don’t care how nice the jar is; it’s only one more thing cluttering up your countertop.

2. Soft-close hinges. It is not possible to slam a drawer or cupboard in my kitchen. Each closes with a small whisper. It’s relaxing.

Chang + Sylligardos Architects

3. Huge kitchen drawers. Looking right into a well-lit space is much better than looking deep into a dark cupboard. In this kitchen large drawers have completely replaced cabinets. Just make sure they’re soft near.

Echelon Custom Homes

4. Undercabinet lighting. I know this seems like no-brainer, however before I had it I never knew just how useful it might be for task light and mood light. But spring for LEDs. We opted for fluorescent to save money, and we regret it.


Maestro Incandescent Smart Light Dimmer by Lutron – $41.50

5. Dimmer switches. Because there are several thousand stops involving off and on.

Site lines architecture inc..

6. A garage keypad. You’ll never be locked out of your home again.

Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

7. A motion-activated porch light. You’ll never fumble in the dark for your keys.

Land Design, Inc..

8. An automated drip system. Folks told us they did. But we didn’t listen, and due to that we killed a great deal of plants over 12 years. This past year we finally had an irrigation system set in. The yard is nicer, the crops are healthier and life is simpler.

Your turn: What small fixes are you glad you additional — or sorry you didn’t include?

More: 100 Contractor Tips Every Homeowner Should Read

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