Get Ready to DIY!

While everyone’s staying at home, a lot of people are hesitant to bring in outsiders for things like painting or smaller construction projects. This could be the perfect time to tackle some of those tasks as do-it-yourself jobs! There are many things around the house that you can do without having to bring in outside help. Or at the very least, you can get started and bring in someone else to finish later. One common pitfall for aspiring DIYers is not quite being prepared for the task at hand. Since the current goal is to limit trips out of the house to only the essentials, it’s a good time to take stock of what you have on hand and determine what if anything you might need for those DIY projects. Here are some common things that you should check so you’ll know if you need to make a trip to stock up.

Common Supplies

There are a few things that will come in handy for almost any DIY project. These are items like sandpaper, wood glue, cleaners, rags, tape and lubricants. While not all of these will be used for every project you might tackle, if you don’t have any of them on hand then you’ll likely need to restock before your tasks are finished.

Tools

It’s hard to do it yourself if you don’t have anything to do it with. At the very least you’ll likely need tools like a drill, a hammer, Phillips and flat-head screwdrivers, wrenches and other common tools. If you have specific tasks in mind that require specialized tools, then you’ll need to make sure that you have those on hand too. You should also check to make sure that your tools are in good condition; too much rust or other corrosion can cause serious problems and possibly even result in broken tools once you get to work.

Screws, Nails and Fasteners

Chances are, you’ll need to have some screws, nails or other fasteners for the work that you’re doing. Don’t just assume that whatever you have on hand will work for any job, though. Screws for example come in different lengths, materials and head types, and if they don’t match the job that you’re doing or the tools that you have then you’re not going to be happy with the results.

Brushes and Rollers

Will you be doing any painting, staining or other similar applications? Make sure that you have the right type of brushes, rollers and other application tools for the job. Different types of paints, stains and glues/pastes all apply differently, so you’ll need to match your tools to the type of material you want to put down.

Shovels and Garden Tools

Working outside is a pretty common DIY task, but make sure that you have the right tools for the job. Shovels, hoes and rakes are all common outdoor tools, but you may also need a tiller or other equipment as well. You should also make sure that you have the right type of shovel or rake for your needs. A flat-nose shovel is good for spreading gravel, for instance, but won’t do you a lot of good if you need to dig a hole to plant a shrub.

Getting Ready to DIY

Once you’ve taken an inventory of the supplies you have with you, make a list of the DIY tasks you’d like to tackle around the house. See how your current supplies will meet the needs of those tasks, writing down anything that you seem to be missing. Take your time to plan out your various DIY projects, prioritizing those things that you can do without any additional materials. If you absolutely must get additional materials for your projects, do your best to make a list of everything that you’ll need so that you can wrap up your DIY shopping with a single trip. Or, better yet, place an online order that’s shipped directly to your house.
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Look to the Helpers: Maintaining Your Mental Well-Being

Things are pretty scary at the moment. When you turn on the news, read a paper or just scroll through your social media feed, most likely you’re seeing one person or another talking about the COVID-19 pandemic. It can have a profound negative effect on your mental health, even if you live in an area where there hasn’t been any local sickness. How do you handle it, when it seems like there’s just so much to bear? For at least one possible answer, let’s look back a few decades. Fred Rogers, better known as the one and only Mister Rogers, gave some advice that had been passed down from his mother: “Look for the helpers.” We’re all in this together, and with a slightly different mindset you can remember this even in the darkest of times.

Look for the Helpers

Mr. Rogers is highly quotable, but his comment about looking for the helpers is probably one of his more famous quotes. Though there are a few different versions from different things he’s shared over the years, one of the most poignant and relevant to our current situation comes from a newspaper piece he wrote back in 1986: There was something else my mother did that I’ve always remembered: “Always look for the helpers,” she’d tell me. “There’s always someone who is trying to help.” I did, and I came to see that the world is full of doctors and nurses, police and firemen, volunteers, neighbors and friends who are ready to jump in to help when things go wrong. If you’re tempted to give into despair, just think of all the doctors, nurses, police officers, volunteers and everyone else who are still out there and still doing their jobs. Remember that they’re not doing it just because they need a paycheck; they’re doing it because friends and neighbors in their community need them to. They’re doing it to help.

Nobody Is Alone

Everywhere we turn, the message seems to be about social distancing and self-imposed isolation to try and slow the spread of COVID-19. This is good and noble advice, but it can also be very lonely. Even if you have a family there with you at home, seeing only the same people day in and day out is difficult when you know that you’re not supposed to interact with others. It’s okay to feel that way, though… everyone else does. It’s easy to forget that other people are feeling the same fear, the same sense of isolation and the same uncertainty. They are common emotions that unite us all, even if we don’t realize it. A great way to fight these feelings is to reach out over the phone or a video chat and check in on friends in town, across the country or around the world. Talk about what you’re feeling and encourage your friends and family to talk about it as well. Confronting this fear is the first step in overcoming it.

Everyone Is Enough

If you watched Mr. Rogers on TV as a child, you’re familiar with his recurring mantra that “you’re special just the way you are.” In the current situation, this means acknowledging that you still have worth, even if the best that you can do right now is to stay indoors. You don’t have to be a doctor or deliver meals to the elderly in your neighborhood; if all that you can do is stay out of the way and ensure that you aren’t spreading the virus, then that is more than enough. Not everyone has to give their all with each part of this: You’re special just the way you are, doing just as much as you’re able to do. Take care of yourself and encourage others to take safe steps as well. If you can get out there and help firsthand then do so, but don’t despair if you can’t. Look for the helpers, and you’ll remember that there are a lot of ways to help. We can do this together, and you’re an important part of that effort.
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Ways to Support Local Businesses

Without mincing words, times are scary. People are afraid, and beyond that there is a significant amount of uncertainty about what is to come. In times like these, it’s important to pull together as a community and support each other in any way possible. This includes the small businesses in your community, since they are an essential part of what keeps your community going; without your support during the darker times, some of them may not survive to see the sun come out again. How are you supposed to do that in a limited-contact or social isolation scenario, though? Fortunately, there are still several options available that will help you to help those local businesses that keep your community running.

Buy Gift Certificates

One great way to support local businesses is to buy gift cards and gift certificates even if you don’t need them right now. This allows you to make a simple purchase that minimizes potential contact while giving the business that issued the certificate some much-needed income. Once things improve, you can then return to the business and take your time using the gift cards you purchased. As an added bonus, they’re also easy to give to others if you know someone who’s in need.

Buy Branded Merchandise

Another good option is to buy branded merchandise such as t-shirts or coffee mugs that advertise the business. On top of the usual benefits of making a purchase, these items help to advertise the business as well. As an added bonus, buying branded merchandise helps you to show the business owner that you’re there to support the business specifically.

Order Online or On the Phone

Can’t get out? Check and see which businesses in your area offer online ordering and make use of that feature. If you can’t order online, give them a call and inquire about placing an order. You can even make arrangements for delivery or pickup while you’re on the phone.

Tip for Deliveries and Carry-Outs

A lot of people are relying on delivery and carry-out orders these days, especially from local restaurants. Unfortunately, a lot of people tip very little if at all for these services. Remember that a lot of employees are facing reduced hours in this stressful time, and every dollar helps. Be sure to tip even if you normally wouldn’t, and be generous when you do.

Spread the Word

There are many types of support. Financial support is definitely important for local businesses trying to stay open, but not everyone can help out financially. If you can’t afford to shop right now, try to get the word out on social media and other platforms. Share posts, talk about the businesses that you’d like to support and even post pictures of yourself wearing some branded merch. Every little bit helps, and someone might see your post and decide that they need to support local shops as well.

Donate Your Refunds

A major problem that small venues face is the refunding of canceled events. They’ve already spent money on advertising and racked up other costs, and now they’re losing their portion of ticket sales. If you have tickets for an event that was canceled and unlikely to be rescheduled, call the box office and inquire about donating your refund instead. While not all venues will do this, donating your ticket price lets those that do recoup some of what they spent and may even help them to stay open in the face of additional cancellations.

Be Considerate

Local businesses are a part of your community, and as such they want to see the community thrive. Situations like this are very stressful for business owners and employees alike, and the last thing that they want to see is people fighting over merchandise or those in need having to do without because someone else hoarded all the toilet paper. When shopping at local businesses, be courteous to other shoppers, maintain a safe distance so no one is crowded, and avoid the temptation to grab everything when you just need one or two items.

Shop Local

If you need to find local businesses and professionals to support, check out HomeKeepr. Not only can you open an account for free, but it will help you to find locals who need your support as well.
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Is Wallpaper Making a Comeback?

Wallpaper has been around for thousands of years in one form or another, with wallpaper-like wall coverings being used in China in 200 B.C. Modern style wallpaper with repeating patterns on continuous sheets was created by Jean-Michel Papillion in 1675, and it has remained a popular option ever since. With that said, wallpaper hasn’t been consistently loved since its invention; like most home décor trends, its popularity has waxed and waned over the years. In the past couple of years, it’s been looking like wallpaper is poised for a comeback. As more and more homeowners turn to wallpaper as an element in their home decoration plans, new trends are starting to emerge. Does that mean that wallpaper is really making a return? It certainly looks that way, and modern wallpaper is definitely leaving its own mark on interior design.

Wallpaper Textures

Textured wallpapers are nothing new, but there are several newer wallpapers that take texture to an extreme that would make older wallpapers clutch their pearls. Embossed designs, brick or wood textures, faux bamboo and even delightfully smooth and satiny wallpapers are changing what people think of when they consider what wallpaper feels like. Not only does textured wallpaper give your walls a novel tactile sensation, but some textures can even change the way the wallpaper looks by creating a 3D effect.

Gradients

Most people think of wallpaper as having a more or less consistent repeating pattern. This doesn’t have to be the case, however. Many modern wallpaper designs incorporate gradients that let the colors on your walls change from floor to ceiling. Sometimes this effect can be subtle, but other wallpapers incorporate transitions between bold colors that really stand out. These can be a great way to accent specific colors in your décor or help direct attention to key pieces of furniture.

Bold Prints

In the past, wallpaper has run the gamut from subtle coloration to full-on tackiness. Some manufacturers are now inching as close to the latter as possible without crossing the line, offering up some bold prints that really capture the eye. Complex florals, colorful graphics and even wallpapers that create volumetric effects might seem like they’re too much, but in the right room they can really bring the décor to life.

Metallics

Wallpaper that incorporates metallic tones isn’t new, but some modern wallpaper is taking it a step further. Instead of simply using metallic tones as accents or working with flat metallics, modern wallpapers use metallic coloring along with texture and design to create effects like brushed steel, metal plating and other metal-like designs. This can let you capture the look and to an extent even the feel of metal without the substantial cost and hassle that can be involved with installing actual metal plating on your walls.

Combining Wallpaper Styles

One trend that’s really coming to the forefront with modern wallpaper is combining different wallpaper styles within the same room to really make the room stand out. Similar effects were created in the past using paint and wallpaper, but the modern trend uses contrasting wallpaper styles to better incorporate the textures and other features of wallpaper within the room. This can profoundly change both the look and feel of the room, transforming it from just a basic living space into an experience that really has to be seen to be believed. Even if you don’t take things quite that far, you can use this same technique to help match that couch that never really seems to go with anything.

Don’t Call It a Comeback

While wallpaper may have been less popular for a while, it never really went away. If you’re ready to embrace some of the modern wallpaper trends that are emerging in interior design, HomeKeepr can help. Sign up for a free account today and find a painter or other wallpaper expert you need to help you create that unique look that you’re searching for.
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What You Need to Know About Cleaning for Coronavirus

There has been a significant amount of concern raised recently about COVID-19, a relatively recently discovered disease caused by a type of virus known as a coronavirus. A lot is still unknown about the virus and the disease that it causes, and this is causing some people a great deal of anxiety about it. Major conferences and events are being canceled, people are buying up supplies (even if they shouldn’t), and the internet is filled with memes teaching people how to wash their hands. COVID-19 has the potential to be a serious illness. Here’s some info that can help you to protect yourself, especially if you’re confused by some of the contradicting advice that you might have seen online.

What Is COVID-19?

Even though it’s mostly referred to simply as “coronavirus”, the virus that causes COVID-19 is actually a novel coronavirus that’s been designated “SARS-CoV-2” and sometimes referred to as “2019-nCoV.” COVID-19 itself is a potentially severe respiratory illness that typically presents with fever, cough and difficulty breathing. While most people who become infected with COVID-19 recover, the disease can be severe and even fatal. Those at greatest risk from COVID-19 are individuals older than 60 years of age and those with preexisting conditions such as heart disease or diabetes.

Decluttering to Prevent Illness

If you want to clean up to try and prevent coronavirus infection, a good first step is to declutter your home. This will eliminate surfaces where the virus could linger, making it easier to disinfect your home and keep it clean. Decluttering can also have a positive effect on mental health and anxiety levels, which can improve your overall wellbeing and even provide a bit of a boost to the immune system.

Disinfecting Surfaces

The US Centers for Disease Control recommend disinfecting surfaces with regular household disinfectant wipes and sprays. While many of these have not been tested specifically for use against SARS-CoV-2, they are effective against some other common coronaviruses and are likely to at least reduce infectiousness if not kill the virus completely. Other household cleaners and disinfecting practices are also likely to be at least partially effective.

Handwashing Stations

One of the best defenses against COVID-19 is good handwashing practices. As such, make sure that you have soap available by every sink and clean towels ready for use after washing your hands. Printing out a guide to proper handwashing and placing it near your sinks can also be a good idea, especially if you have young children who are still learning how to wash their hands properly. If you have any, having hand sanitizer accessible for times when you can’t wash your hands is also helpful.

Don’t Panic

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t panic. Don’t stockpile supplies that you don’t need, buy sensible amounts of the things that you do need, and take reasonable steps like avoiding large crowds and not shaking hands. One of the best ways to stay safe from COVID-19 is to keep yourself clean, keep your home clean and apply some common sense to your preparations for the disease.
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Stranded Without a Kitchen Island?

When it comes to home improvements, there are few things that are requested more often than kitchen islands. Having a kitchen island can totally change the way that you work in your kitchen, and in some cases they can even add new functionality that you might not have had before. Because they’re such a hot commodity in a lot of homes, having a kitchen island in place can even increase the value of your home if you decide to put it on the market! So what makes for a good kitchen island? Long gone are the days when a kitchen island was just an additional surface to set things on while working in the kitchen. If you’re thinking about installing a kitchen island of your own, here are a few things you could consider adding to it to make it a modern, functional island.

Cooking Surfaces

Many modern kitchen islands contain burners, full stove tops or other cooking surfaces. Some even contain griddles or electric grills, giving you cooking options that your standard cook top might not offer. This both allows you to cook in different ways and gives you more surfaces and heat sources to work with when you’re fixing a large meal. Depending on the design of the kitchen island and the specific cooking surfaces added, you can either give the island an electric connection or hook it up to an existing gas line.

Island Appliances

Cooking surfaces aren’t the only things that people include in kitchen islands. You might also see appliances such as ovens, mini refrigerators or dishwashers included in the island as well. In some homes you might see less common appliances included as well such as a steamer, warming bin or wine cooler. If there are electrical outlets built into the island, you might also include countertop appliances such as a stand mixer, toaster or can opener.

Kitchen Prep Areas

One common reason for installing a kitchen island is to add a prep station to the kitchen that is separate from other kitchen surfaces. This can involve adding additional features, such as a small refrigerator to keep prepped items cold until you’re ready to cook. Some must-haves for a prep area on your kitchen island include a sink and some form of cutting surface. Ideally the sink should be deep enough to wash vegetables and other food items and should have both hot and cold running water. The cutting surface can take a variety of forms, though butcher block is a popular option. Having a rack or storage for cutting boards and possibly a built-in knife block are also popular options.

Additional Storage

If there’s one thing that almost every kitchen needs, it’s more storage. Your kitchen island can help with this, giving you a place to add additional drawers, shelves or cabinets. Spice racks or other ingredient storage is also a popular option to add. If you want to make the most use of your kitchen island space, you can also add a hanging rack above your kitchen island for pots, pans and other cooking items.

Stow-Under Seating

Some people want to be able to use their kitchen island as a place to enjoy a quick meal, especially at breakfast or lunch. Stools or other small seating options that store under a lip on the kitchen island can make this happen, providing easy access seating that stores out of the way when not in use. A seating space can be added on top of other features, typically by letting the side of the island that faces away from the main kitchen be used for seating while the interior-facing side is more functional.

Ready to Build Your Island?

If you want to find a pro to build your kitchen island or hook up your various fixtures, trust in HomeKeepr. Sign up for a free account today and start connecting with the professionals who can make your dream kitchen island a reality.
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Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Flipped Home

Buying a flipped home may seem daunting, but our easy guide makes it surprisingly simple.
If you’re in the market for a new house, you’ve probably already looked at a flipped home. A flipped home is an older home that’s purchased on the cheap, then updated for resale. Usually, this is done by an individual real estate agent who is also a licensed contractor. Most home flippers find a formula that works in their area, and duplicate it in almost every home they buy. Usually, they create an interior and exterior that will appeal to the majority of home shoppers. In most cases, that means stainless steel appliances, fresh granite countertops, and an open concept floor plan. Sometimes, bathrooms are retiled, and plumbing is updated. Add in new faucets, cabinets, and paint, and you’ve got an updated home that’s ready for sale. But is a flipped home right for you?

Should You Buy a Flipped Home?

There is absolutely nothing wrong with purchasing a flipped home. But before you do, make sure that you stop long enough to consider why the home was flipped in the first place. In most cases, the home is simply cosmetically outdated, and the former homeowners were not in the position to update it to sell. In this case, a home flipper can do a great job with beautiful cosmetic finishes and a few minor repairs. However, many flippers get a great price on a particular home in a neighborhood that backs up to an apartment complex, a retail outlet, or a busy street. Take a close look at the house before you buy: many homes that have been flipped were bought by an investor for a reason.

Location, Location, Location

Pay attention to the actual location of the house, and be sure it is situated in a good spot in the neighborhood. Home flippers love houses just blocks from colleges, as they can command a higher rent for investors, and turnover is very good. If you work at the college and this is your scene, it may be a great place to buy. But, if you are a family looking for a serene setting, use caution when purchasing a home near a university. Is there a stealth dorm next door? Is the neighborhood overrun with college kids at night or on weekends renting homes throughout the area? Do you want to live next door to the annual fraternity crawfish boil involving hundreds of students? The same caveat goes for homes located on major thoroughfares, or very near to apartment complexes or retail locations. Think about what the neighborhood will look like in five years. Consider noise from neighbors and traffic. Ask around about who lives nearby, and notice what surrounds your potential dream home.

Check the Home’s History

The house’s history is also a good thing for you to know, since so much has happened before you came into the picture. Did the home flipper get the proper permits to do the work they did on the house? Does the title need any remediation work? Have all of the house’s systems been updated to current code? If not, you could be facing expensive or dangerous problems that you’ll need to fix before you can get insurance. Checking the house’s Home Report is a great place to start, but you can also visit your local department of buildings and safety to check for previous permit applications, and make sure to look at a complete title report.

Get a Great Inspector

A house can look amazing with just a few cosmetic upgrades like a new kitchen, a new bath, and a few layers of paint. But these finishes may be covering up problems associated with old homes that haven’t been properly maintained. Get a great inspector to rule out unpleasant surprises like termite infestations, ancient plumbing and electrical systems, substandard HVAC systems, damaged foundations, moldy walls, rotted subfloors, leaky roofs, rusty gutters, and a host of other issues that no one wants to deal with. Don’t forget to ask for a separate inspection on any detached buildings, such as garages, as these structures usually aren’t inspected like the rest of the home. Remember that the home was flipped because its owners hadn’t updated it in a while, and inspect accordingly.

Your New Flipped Home

It’s a huge relief to walk into a home that has been beautifully updated and is move-in ready. That’s the advantage of a finding a home in your favorite area that has been flipped: it feels brand-new, without new-construction prices. Most resale homes will need a little work before you can move in. If you don’t want to live in the rubble of a remodel, then a flipped home may be a great option for you–as long as you do your homework. Before you fall in love with the snazzy new backsplash and shiny wood floors, check out the location, get the home’s history, and verify the home’s true condition with a very thorough inspection. It just may be that you’ve found your new flipped dream home.
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Top Repairs to Tackle Before Listing Your Home

When you put your home on the market, you obviously want to get as much as you can for the property. A lot of things can affect your home’s value, including many items that are largely out of your control. That’s not saying that you can’t do anything to bring the value up before listing your home, however. In fact, there are some things that you absolutely need to do before you even think about sticking that “For Sale” sign in the yard. Depending on what city, county and state your home is in, there may be code requirements you need to address before you’re allowed to list or sell your property. On top of that, however, here are five fixes that you can make to help get the most from your home when you sell.

Water Stains

If you’ve got water stains on the ceiling or walls, they tell potential buyers that there are leaks somewhere. It’s possible that you already took care of the leak, but a buyer isn’t going to know that, and will likely assume that there’s still a nasty surprise waiting for them somewhere. You obviously need to track down the leak and repair it, but after that’s done you should do something about the water stain as well. Don’t just slap a thin coat of paint on them and call it a day, either; take the time to do it right so that the stains don’t reappear.

Slow Drains

If you have slow drains in your home, this can be a big red flag for some home buyers. They might ask about the plumbing, or even want to run more water to see what the water pressure and drains are like everywhere else. To head off potential problems it’s important to do your best to take care of the issue. In many cases it’s a relatively easy fix, though there are some causes of slow drains that will take a plumber to straighten out. Still, the effort you put into it now can result in a higher selling price once someone buys the house.

Switches and Outlets

People don’t want to buy houses that have electrical problems. If your switches or outlets look discolored or beaten up, this can lead people to assume that there are problems even if there aren’t. Take the time to replace any damaged, discolored or malfunctioning switches and outlets, along with any non-working fixtures or “mystery switches” that you might have around the house. Even if it’s not a very big job, it can have a major impact on how potential buyers view your home.

Trip Hazards

Are there any loose bits of carpet or wood on your floor that you’ve learned to just step around? Fix them before you have people in to look at the house. You might have gotten used to them, but a potential buyer won’t be. They’ll see potential tripping hazards as something they’ll need to fix, and they’ll negotiate the price down as a result.

Walls and Ceilings

Are your walls drab, dull and damaged? Take the time to fix any holes or dings before you list the house. A little bit of drywall repair can go a long way, and this can be a perfect time to update the look of your rooms with a fresh coat of paint as well. Don’t neglect the ceiling either, since those little issues that you’ve learned to overlook will stick out like a sore thumb to potential buyers.

Need Help?

If you have some repairs to make before listing but don’t know where to start, HomeKeepr can help you find the pro you need to get your home in tip-top shape. Sign up for a free account today to find pros in your area that come recommended by people you know and trust. They’ll get your home ready to sell and won’t cost you an arm and a leg to do it.
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Home Detective of Minnesota Home Inspection Services

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Home Detective of Minnesota Home Inspection Services

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