The Home 

10 home repairs to tackle this spring

Home repairs

Spring presents a dual opportunity when it comes to houses and home repairs:

  1. In areas where winter temperatures are subsiding, you’ll be able to get outside and survey any damage that storms and wind may have caused in the last months.
  2. By giving an in-depth look to your residence, you’ll have the chance to make any repairs needed early on, before they turn into major, expensive fixes.

Tackle these 10 home repairs in the warm days of spring and both your home and wallet will thank you this fall.

1. Check the paint.

If your home has gone through a season of snow and ice, the water could have damaged the exterior of your residence. After giving the outside an overview, you may need to scrape and touch up some sections. To make the process easier, ask your local hardware store if the current color of your home can be matched.

The bill is heftier for an entire paint job — the majority of homeowners spend between $1,715 and $3,675, according to

Fresh paint can also be a solid solution for a weathered front door. Simply put on a coat of primer, followed by a couple of coats of exterior paint.

2. Go for the gutters. 

A haven for debris and tree branches, gutters can easily become clogged. In addition to clearing them out, checking for leaks can help prevent future water problems.

If you’d rather not clean them yourself, go for a gutter cleaning service.

Expect to pay an average of $165 to have the gutters cleaned, inspected, repaired, and given preventative maintenance, according to Redbeacon.

3. Align storm doors.

Harsh weather can take its toll on the doors of your home. If you notice that a storm door isn’t closing easily – or at all – it may need some adjustments.

First, check that the screws are in place and tight on the hinges. You’ll often be able to repair the molding or frame, rather than replacing the whole door, to make it open and shut properly again.

In addition, if you have a door with glass and screen panels that can be switched, look over the screen for any small holes before installing it.

4. Have the roof checked.

Leaks in a roof can lead to water seeping into the walls and attic, eventually causing water damage and mold problems.

Start by walking around your attic or the top story of your home. Look for any signs of moisture or water spots. And if you feel a cool draft, you might have missing or damaged shingles.

The National Roofing Contractors Association recommends hiring a professional for any work that needs to be done on the roof.

A few costs to expect: $100 to $150 for a few broken shingles, and $300 to $500 to replace flashing or boots by chimneys, skylights, and vents, according to Houselogic.

5. Repair driveways and walkways outside.

If ice expanded and contracted in the cracks of your driveway, or salt hit the pavement, you may see signs of wear and tear in the warmer months.

For smaller repairs, a simple concrete filler may work to fill in gaps so they don’t get any bigger.

To get a driveway with extensive cracks back in shape, it could cost between about $800 and $2,000, according to

6. Trim trees near your home.

If you have branches from trees that are growing close to your home, it’s easier to cut them back in spring, before they have leaves.

While you can probably reach low branches on your own, limbs that are high-reaching will likely need a professional service to trim them back into place.

Most homeowners spend between $352 and $964 on tree trimming, notes HomeAdvisor.

7. Don’t overlook the windows.

Though not often the first on the list when it comes to home repairs, windows play an important role in keeping your place well insulated and running efficiently. They not only help keep warm air inside during the winter; they also keep warm air out during the summer.

If your windows are older or worn, they could have trouble insulating your home, resulting in higher energy bills. Before purchasing replacements, try caulking to seal shut any gaps or cracks that could be causing the problem.

8. Check on your air conditioner.

Another way to save on utility bills: have a well-tuned air conditioner.  Start by making sure the power to the unit is turned off. Then check the area around the setup for any debris that should be cleared away. Change the filter for the unit.

As a way to look for other potential issues, turn on the air conditioning unit. Listen for any unusual sounds when it runs, monitor if it creates cool air quickly, and check that it doesn’t shut off too soon.

If your test run reveals any red flags, you’ll want a professional to come and look it over.

9. Prep the deck.

The winter months can give your deck a beating. To give it a review, you’ll first want to clear the area of any furniture, pots and grill materials. Sweep away any dirt or leaves that have gathered. For a thorough cleaning, use a deck cleaner or power washer.

Check for any damaged boards or nails that have popped out. Then add another layer of sealant or stain if needed.

10. Clean the dryer vent duct.

The back of your dryer leads to a vent duct that goes outside of the house. Over time, it can get built up with lint, making your dryer work longer and harder and increasing your energy bills. Furthermore, it can become a fire hazard if too much lint accumulates in it.

To clean it, unplug your dryer and if it is a gas dryer, turn off the gas. Then take off the outside cover of the vent. Use a lint brush with a handle that extends to clear out the inside.

 The Home 

Evil bedbugs will devour your blood, wallet

Bedbugs are gross, incredibly expensive to get rid ofIt starts small: waking up with a few itchy red bites on your skin, and maybe finding some of their empty shells in your bedroom. But a bedbug infestation can eventually get really, really bad, costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars to resolve and potentially torpedoing your home’s value in the process.
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 The Home 

How to Declutter Your House

Since I’ve started working from home, I’ve noticed how much stuff we really own. We have piles of books that won’t fit on our shelves, school supplies being stored until the new semester starts, and a bunch of family items lying around. In short, our offices are cluttered with a ton of items that we either need to sell, store, or toss. We are tackling this problem this weekend and over the next two weeks. If you have found that your home is packed to the brim with your stuff too, then you may want to simply your life like me.

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 The Home 

Most Profitable Backyard Garden Crops

My husband and I started our first raised garden in April.  We already have a couple of flower beds in the front yard, but we wanted a garden that could produce something we would actually be able to eat.  The idea of getting an edible benefit from maintaining a small spot of soil sounded fun.  In short, we wanted to grow plants with some extra value to us.  Here are some ideas for plants you may want to add to your garden to get that extra benefit too.

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 Frugal Living 

9 Quick and Easy Penny-wise Frugal Home Tips

PennyLast week, I wrote a post about how you shouldn’t work so hard to save very little. The basic premise is that there are a lot of things you can do to save money that, when you calculate the time and effort involved, aren’t worth it. In some cases, the tips are dangerous and, should your luck go south, will end up costing you more in the long run. The post seemed like one of those “don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish,” which is an idea I think we can all agree with, but that doesn’t mean I won’t take a second to pick up a penny.

That’s why I’ve put together a list of easy frugal home tips that don’t take a long time to complete and, while the savings won’t pay for a new Bentley, will cut out a bit of the waste in your life.
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 The Home 

How to Contest a Property Tax Assessment

In Maryland, home property tax assessments work on a three year cycle. Every three years your home is evaluated for property tax purposes and you have that one opportunity to contest the new assessment. The schedule for your area may be different but the process is the same. In another year or so, it’ll be our turn to be reassessed and we’re hoping that lowered home prices means lower property taxes.

Maryland also has a Homestead Tax Credit that caps the year over year increase of assessment value to 2-10% (depends on the county). Anything above 10% each year is given as a tax credit so that your cost doesn’t increase more than 2-10% a year. You have to be the owner of the property and live in it as your principal residence to qualify.

So every three years you get the opportunity to contest the property tax assessment and here’s a scenario in which you want your home value to go down. The cheaper they assess your property, the fewer dollars you pay in property taxes. It may make you feel good to learn your home’s value has increased but it hurts your wallet! The only solution is to contest their assessment and here’s how.

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 Frugal Living 

First Beg, Then Borrow, Then Buy

When we needed to replace the tile floor in our master bathroom, we went to Home Depot to buy all the necessary supplies. The hardest part about replacing a tile floor is cutting the tiles! You can buy an inexpensive tool that you can use to score and snap tile, but I found that it failed miserably (I wasted half a dozen tiles). That’s why they invented the wet ceramic tile saw!

The solution? I had to get my hands on one to cut about a dozen tiles. While all the other tools for the job were relatively cheap, ceramic tile saws run upwards of $500 on eBay, a handsome sum if you’re just looking to do a small job. That’s why I try to borrow tools if I can avoid buying them. If I have to buy them, I try to buy used rather than new. If all else fails, then I buy them new from the store.

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9 Year End Tax Moves to Make by Dec. 31st

1040 Bobblehead DudeAfter last week’s Thursday post on adjusting your tax withholding, I thought that we needed a full blown post on the best year end tax moves. So who better to turn to than prolific tax expert Kay Bell, author of The Truth About Paying Fewer Taxes? She was kind enough to list not one, not two, but nine tax moves you can make before the ball drops.

It’s time to make your year-end tax list and check it twice to ensure that you give yourself the gift of tax-savings. Here are 9 ways this month to help make your 2009 tax bill as small as possible.

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