Home Improvement

Published on Thu, Mar 20, 2003
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Home Improvement

Choosing windows that work
There's more to windows than the way they look or the way you look through them. To educate homeowners on what they should know before buying windows for a new or existing home, here are some helpful tips from the experts:
� Look for vinyl. Over the years, builders and homeowners have come to understand the inherent advantages of vinyl, which delivers quality at an economical price.
� Match the style of your home. Designed for classic beauty, today�s windows offer details such as a beveled exterior edge and a true-sloped sill that reflect the look of traditional wood craftmanship.
� Look for easy maintenance products. Some vinyl windows are designed and built for low cost, not for value. The best vinyl windows are maintenance free with no painting, puttying, staining or glazing needed. Ask about windows that tilt in for easy cleaning inside the home.
� Look for high efficiency windows for energy savings.
� Look for easy operation. Both the balance system and the tilt-in mechanism should be tested to guarantee decades of worry-free operation.
� Ask about the warranty. Not all products offer the assurance that they will be trouble-free as long as you own your home. Certain vinyl windows, for example, are backed by a lifetime limited warranty.

What�s in your utility closet?
If you�re like most people, you probably have a place for storage of frequently used household items, from a mop and bucket to a jar of nails. Many times, this closet contains so much junk that it can be hard to reach what you need. You can keep it organized if you take time to clean out old or useless stuff and replace it with the following 10 items that assist in any household chore:
1. Mop: Make sure that there is a fresh mop to clean up spills.
2. Bucket: A sturdy bucket with a good handle is essential. Cleaning is easier when you can carry cleaning agents and water from room to room.
3. Broom and dustpan: Broken glass and crumbs can be swept up easily into a dustpan using a hard-bristled broom. Plastic dustpans can help avoid scratching delicate flooring.
4. Fire extinguisher: Every home should have a fire extinguisher. In an emergency, it can mean the difference between minimal and maximum damage.
5. Shelf liner: It�s helpful to have a supply of multi-purpose, non-adhesive shelf liner. Use shelf liner in drawers and shelves to create a protective barrier between the items and the surface. It�s easy to clean and its non-slip backing helps keep it in place.
6. Duct tape: A staple item. When you need a quick fix, it�s helpful to have duct tape on hand.
7. Light bulbs: Stock up on a variety of light bulbs with various wattages to accommodate any lighting needs as they arise.
8. Extension cord: Many indoor and outdoor projects require power tools. Different length extension cords make getting around the yard and home easier.
9. Super glue: Broken objects can be repaired with heavy-duty glue.
10. Flashlight: Keep a flashlight in the closet so you know exactly where to find it in an emergency such as a sudden power outage.
Of course, everyone�s closet will be different, but these items will be useful in many situations and leave plenty of room for other necessities.

Building a better home office
The new buzzword in home offices is consolidation. That�s because many people working out of their homes face a similar problem�they have so little space, and so many office tools and gadgets to fit in.

The �space issue� is a significant one, as the Independent Homeworkers Alliance estimates 48 million people work out of their homes at least part of the time. It is believed many of those people have cramped workspaces that negatively affect performance, productivity and possibly even their level of professional success.

If you want to free-up space in your home office, try these tips from business experts:

Select a space: If you�re planning to work from home regularly, set aside a space, such as a spare room or quiet section of a room to use for a home office. Keep all work materials in your workspace to minimize business intrusions in your household space.

Create a focal point: While any table can be a home office workspace, consider purchasing a desk that will help organize supplies and paperwork, such as one with an integrated file cabinet, drawers for pens and pencils and adequate computer space for your terminal, scanner and other needs.

Combine products: Most home offices need a phone, answering service, fax and copier, but can valuable desk space be spared for each product? Consider buying an all-in-one product, which incorporates all the essentials.

Minimize costly expenses: With the right products, many tasks that are outsourced at high costs can be handled in your home office.

Spring is the season to sell your home
For some, spring is the season to fix up their homes. For others, it�s the season to sell.

People selling homes may be able to speed up the process and send their asking price through the roof by making a few small improvements. Here�s a few tips:
� Landscaping: Spending $400 to $500 on new landscaping can boost a home�s value as much as $1,800.
� Revive a tired exterior: Painting exterior doors and window trim can freshen your home�s look without the expense of a complete exterior repainting.
� Remove outside clutter: Get rid of anything that blocks pathways or clutters side yards or backyards.
� Clean your windows: You want your home to look as light and bright as possible. Dirty or spotted windows drag down a home�s appearance.
� Dig out the dirt: A deep cleaning is essential for a good first impression. It�s also key to keep on top of cleaning as long as your house is on the market.
� Banish bad smells: Air out your home by throwing open the windows at least once a day. Use potpourri or bake cookies before buyers visit to give your place a �homey� smell.
� Remove inside clutter: Stowing away knickknacks and family pictures helps depersonalize your home, which is actually a good thing. You want potential buyers to picture themselves living in your home instead of being distracted by your personal effects.
� Organize what�s left: Tidy closets and pantries look bigger and more appealing. Consider renting a storage space to help keep the areas clear.
� Fix your floors: Real estate agents say buyers really notice the condition of floors. Hardwood should be polished and carpets shampooed or, if they�re in bad shape, replaced. Repair any broken tile or linoleum.
may be able to get away with just washing your walls. Otherwise, consider repainting your rooms in neutral colors.

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