New Real Estate Rules Under Social Distancing

Buying or selling a home can be stressful even under ordinary circumstances. Unfortunately, the current state of the world is far from ordinary. The housing market is feeling the crunch, as fewer buyers want to get out and shop for a home, and fewer sellers want to take a risk with selling. This isn’t to say that nobody’s buying and selling, of course; the market is just going through some changes. One of the biggest changes revolves around how buyers and sellers are handling social isolation and social distancing. If you’re thinking of selling, or are in the market to buy, here are a few new “rules” to keep in mind when entering the real estate fray in the era of self-isolation.

Increasing Online Presence

One of the big changes to the real estate process is an increased dependence on online resources instead of in-person shopping. This includes lots of pictures and videos of properties being posted online, but many sellers are taking things even further than this. Recorded virtual tours, online conferences to allow buyers to ask questions about the property, and even livestream walkthroughs with a seller or agent showing the property are all increasingly popular options to supplement or even replace in-person showings and conferences.

Fewer Open Houses

Open houses are a popular way to show off a property to many potential buyers, but in the current crisis these events are a big no-no. In many locales, open houses aren’t even allowed under state and federal guidance. In states where they haven’t been specifically banned, many sellers are still hesitant to hold an event that would bring multiple people into close contact with each other. Online “virtual open house” conferences are popping up as one option to adapt to this, letting multiple potential buyers come together on Zoom or a similar video conference service at the same time to get a better feel for the property that’s being sold.

More One-on-One Time

As convenient as online access and virtual tours are during the current isolation period, few if any buyers would sign on the dotted line without getting a chance to see a property in person. To accommodate this, many sellers and agents are meeting with potential buyers by appointment only. This lets a potential buyer get a good look at the property in question while also restricting the size of the meeting as much as possible. Many of these appointments are made with the understanding that if any participant feels the least bit under the weather on the day of the meet-up, then it will need to be rescheduled for another time.

Respecting Social Distancing

Even when buyers and sellers do meet up, the process is usually a little different than it used to be. Social distancing rules are usually respected, meaning that everyone involved should stay at least six feet apart at all times to prevent potential infection. Discussions about the property and general Q&As are more likely to occur outdoors in the open air, and any greetings or introductions skip out on traditional handshakes. Masks, gloves, shoe covers and hand sanitizer are commonly available on site, and many sellers go through and open all of the doors and windows to both maximize airflow and to allow interested buyers access to the entire house without having to touch doorknobs or other surfaces in order to see inside.

Closing Remotely

Remote closing negotiations are becoming much more common, taking advantage of video conferencing to bring everyone together without actually having to be in the same room. There may be some instances where people have to meet up to actually sign paperwork, but digital signing is more common because it removes that point of contact. Even when people do come together for closing and signing, it’s much more likely that everyone will utilize social distancing and that both parties will use their own pens instead of sharing.
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At Home Entertainment for the Whole Family

One of the best things that we can do right now to protect both ourselves and our friends and neighbors is to stay home. Unfortunately, there are only so many times that you can watch Tiger King or listen to your kids sing along with Elsa on Disney+. You need something new to do, and it needs to be something that the whole family can enjoy while you’re all staying safe at home. There are some unique opportunities available right now that may never be available again once this is all over. They provide experiences that the whole family can enjoy that aren’t just the same old TV shows. Though this is by no means an exhaustive list, here are a few activities that you might consider that would give your family some new things to do.

A Virtual Reunion

With record numbers of people working and doing schoolwork at home, more people are using video conferencing services like Zoom, GoToMeeting and Microsoft Teams than ever before. These services aren’t just for work, however. You can use them to get in touch with family from around the country, and even schedule a “virtual reunion” to catch up and check in with each other. This can be a recurring event, letting you stay connected with loved ones throughout the pandemic. You may even grow closer as a family despite the distance.

Museum and Zoo Tours

Even though museums and zoos are currently closed to the public, a number of high-profile museums and zoos have started offering virtual online tours for free. You can go online and view great works of art, watch animals relaxing during their downtime, and even see unique things like puppies getting to run wild in an aquarium. On top of these custom experiences, many zoos and similar facilities have webcams focused on specific exhibits that you can check out throughout the year.

Learn Something New

To help families pass the time, many online learning platforms are offering extended free trials so that people can pick up new skills or learn interesting things while in self-isolation. On top of that, some teachers and experts are streaming free courses on Zoom and other platforms as well. There is a wide range of content available for both kids and adults, meaning that there’s something for everyone to learn and enjoy.

Start (or Join) a Book Club

Reading is a great way to pass the time, and you can share that with the family by starting a family book club. The premise is simple: Everyone picks out a book, and once a week you get together and discuss what you’re reading. Even younger children can participate; let them pick out a book that they want you to read, and at the meet-up you can let them show off the book and tell everyone about it. If you want a bit more social interaction with your book club, you can also look into online book clubs that are a bit closer to traditional book club offerings. These can have members from across the nation or around the world. Some of them operate on dedicated websites, and others use social media groups. Either way, there should be options available for most readers.

Listen to a Story

Even if you don’t feel like doing all of that reading, there are a good number of authors and celebrities doing podcasts and videos in which they read a variety of books or stories. Quite a few of these are aimed at children, but some of them are more tailored to adults as well. Levar Burton (of Reading Rainbow fame) has even recently launched a video version of his podcast Levar Burton Reads with a wide range of content.

A Night in at the Movies

Under ordinary circumstances, you’d be able to take the family out to see some of the many movies that would be in theaters right now. But that’s not possible now that all the theaters are closed. So instead, movie theaters are adapting. Special digital rentals are now available for recent box-office hits that ordinarily wouldn’t be available for rental yet, so that a wider audience can enjoy them. And some movies that were scheduled for early summer release, such as Trolls World Tour, are also making their debut via digital rental. So pop some popcorn and enjoy these new and recent blockbusters all from the privacy and safety of your own home.
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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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Activities You Can Do With the Whole Family

With the current state of the world, people are spending more time at home than ever. This provides for some great opportunities to bond as a family, and also gives some of us a bit more time to get things done around the house. Spending more time with your family can lead to some questions, though. One of the biggest is “Exactly what are we supposed to do now that we’re together?” Without the breaks afforded by work, school and other activities, trying to come up with activities for the whole family can seem a bit overwhelming. If you need some ideas on how to spend that family time, here are a few suggestions to get you started. Not only will these ideas help you to spend some quality time together as a family, but some of them might help you with some of those tasks around the house as well!

Planning (and Planting) a Garden

Even though the year has gotten off to a rocky start, time waits for no one. We’re already getting into gardening season, so it’s time to start prepping the soil and starting your seeds. Since you’ve got the family all there at home, try to get everyone else involved as well. Plan out the size and shape of your garden plot and make a list of everyone’s favorite fruits and veggies to help decide what to plant. You can even get younger kids involved by letting them make row markers featuring pictures of everything you plan to grow.

Family Game Nights

Game nights are a classic, but sometimes it can be hard to fit them in. Timing isn’t as much of an issue these days, however, so let’s play some games! These could be anything from board games to multiplayer video games or even tabletop role-playing games. Let the family decide on the specifics and plan out a new game night every week to help keep everyone entertained.

Movie Time

Going to the movies is a popular family activity. Just because the theaters are closed doesn’t mean you have to give up on enjoying a film together, though. Make some popcorn, break out some snacks and cue up a favorite film on the TV. Several studios are releasing movies for sale or rental early, and some have even put new releases up for rental on streaming services even though they should still be in a theatrical run, so you can still catch some of the films that you might have planned on seeing as a family anyway.

Plan Some Redecorations

Were you hoping to redecorate this spring? You still can, and you can get the family involved in the process as well. Let everyone help pick out paint colors and decorations, especially in their bedroom or other rooms where they spend a significant amount of time. Even if you can’t get everything that you need for the project right now, this will let you plan things out in advance so that you’ll be ready to start once it’s go time.

Activities From a Hat

If you aren’t sure what to do, have everyone get together and make a list of three things that you’d like to do as a family. Once you’ve got the lists made, put them all on a hat or other container and draw one of the lists out. Look at the listed items and let the family vote on which activity you’d like to do from the list. If you’re worried that the same person might win too many times, the next time you do it, have the person who won sit out the suggestions and be the one to draw the winning list instead.

Time Alone, Together

Sometimes, one of the best things that you can do as a family is just relax and enjoy each other’s company. Don’t assume that you have to fill up every available moment with activities. Take some time to read books, give the kids some screen time or do some other individual downtime activities. You can take this downtime in the same room, spending casual time together without having to be “on” and actively doing things together all the time.
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Your Spring Landscape To Do List

As the last winds of winter blow and the days become longer, it’s time to start thinking about the spring. In addition to cleaning up around the house, there are several landscaping activities that you generally want to do in the springtime. The question is, where do you start? If you’re not sure how to tackle your spring to-do list, here are a few suggestions. These are some of the most common landscaping tasks that need doing once things start to warm up, and knocking them out early can make other landscaping tasks easier as the year goes on. Who knows, taking care of some of these items might even get you inspired to take on a larger landscaping project later in the year.

Clean Up That Winter Refuse

The winter can be rough on your lawn, with clumps of leaves that haven’t quite decayed, sticks and branches that fell in a winter storm, muddy spots where ice formed and thawed and formed again … it can all leave a bit of a mess behind. Spend some time cleaning up the mess left by winter before you get into any other tasks and you’ll find that the rest of your spring to-do list will be much easier.

Prune the Trees and Shrubs

Early spring is a great time to prune most of your trees and shrubs, since it’s before they get into a strong growth period. Early pruning allows you to shape them the way you want them to be and gives you a chance to eliminate unwanted overhangs and encroachment. If you wait until there’s new growth you can actually stunt some of that growth and make it harder to control how your trees and shrubs are forming.

Prep Your Lawn

If you want your lawn to look its best, you need to show it some love in the spring. Aerate the lawn to help break up soil packed by snow and ice in the winter, dethatch it to help it grow in thicker, and sow some seed to fill in bare spots once it’s warm enough. If your lawn has an uneven surface after the winter, bringing in a roller to go over the lawn wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

Clean Up Your Flower Beds

If you’ve got flower beds around your home, chances are they could use a bit of picking up after the winter. Get rid of any damaged plants, pull any weeds or grass that tried to get established during the winter, and tidy up any debris or other crud that might have found their way into your beds. You should also pull away the winter mulch surrounding your perennials and divide them to get your beds off to a good start.

Feed and Protect

While you’re working on your lawn and your flower beds, go ahead and take the time to prep them for spring growth. Add new mulch to your beds as needed, give your lawn a nice dose of fertilizer, and make sure that all your other plants are similarly fed and protected. Everything’s going to be doing a lot of growing in the coming months, so you want to make sure that they have everything they need.

Plan Your Summer

This is also a good time to prepare for late spring and summer projects as well. If you’re going to have a garden, take the time to start prepping it now by tilling the soil, working in compost and starting some of your spring seeds indoors. If you’re going to undertake a construction project or add new features to your lawn, go ahead and start clearing the area. The work you put in now will make things so much easier later in the year.

Ready to Get to Work?

Depending on what you have planned, you may need a bit of help to get your landscaping in tip-top shape. Luckily, HomeKeepr is here it help. Sign up for a free HomeKeepr account today to connect with landscaping pros who can help you design and implement the perfect landscaping plan for your lawn.
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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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Automatic Attic Vents: Healthy Venting?

Keeping your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter is one of the big goals of most homeowners. There are a number of ways to do this, including upgrading the windows to more energy-efficient models and performing seasonal maintenance on heating and cooling systems to keep them operating at peak condition. One thing that’s often overlooked however is the influence that attic temperatures can have on the temperature of your whole house. You may have seen suggestions about installing automatic attic vents to help regulate the temperature in your attic. Is there something behind this, or is it just another upgrade to your home that provides very little benefit? You might be surprised at how effective automatic attic vents can be.

Hot Attic, Cold Attic

It’s pretty common knowledge that hot air rises. The question is, where does all that hot air go? If your attic isn’t well vented, it can build up within the attic itself and increase the temperature of your attic space significantly. The problem with this is that future hot air won’t really have anywhere to go, causing it to linger in the house itself for longer. This is great if it’s the middle of winter and you’re trying to keep your house warm, but you can see how it might be a problem during the heat of summer. You can run into the opposite situation as well if you have open vents in the attic. Heat can escape more easily, but if it’s cold outside you’ll find all that heat escaping much faster than you would like. This in turn causes heat within your house to escape faster, making it harder to stay warm in the depth of winter’s chill. Regardless of the situation you find yourself in, the end result will be the same: higher energy costs to keep your house cool in the summer or warm in the winter.

Proper Attic Venting

Attic ventilation is part of the key to solving this issue, but there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. During the summer, you want open attic vents to expel heat and keep your attic as cool as possible. In winter, you want attic vents to be closed to hold heat in for as long as possible. You can open and close these vents manually as part of your seasonal preparations, of course, though this won’t be a perfect solution. The truth is, unless you open or close the vents to account for all the temperature fluctuations during the year, you’ll still be losing money to unnecessary heating and cooling.

Automatic Attic Vents

This is where automatic attic vents come into play. These vents are connected to thermostats (and sometimes even humidistats) to monitor the condition of your attic and open or close the vents as needed based on what things are actually like in the attic. If the temperature goes too high during the summer or if it becomes too humid, the vent opens and lets that unwanted heat and humidity escape. If temperatures drop, the vents close to prevent outside heat from coming in. The opposite happens during the winter, keeping the vents shut to keep warm air in your attic. Some automatic vents function as simple ventilation units, possessing little function beyond opening and closing. Others include connected fans to force air in or out of the attic to even greater effect. Regardless of the vent type you choose, however, adding one to your attic can make a notable difference in how warm or cool the attic air gets during the year.

Installing New Vents

If you want automatic attic vents but aren’t sure where to start, HomeKeepr has your back. Sign up for a free account today to connect to pros who can install the automatic vent unit that will be the best fit for your current attic setup. All you have to lose is all of that unwanted energy waste.
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Insulation 101

Insulation is an essential part of your home. Not only does it help keep the home warm during the winter, but it also plays an important part in keeping you cool during the summer. Once you start looking at the different insulation options that are available, though, the whole thing can get a bit confusing. To help you make sense of it all, here are some of the basics you need to know about home insulation.

How Insulation Works

Insulation works by providing a physical barrier to the transfer of heat through parts of the home such as the walls, ceiling and roof. Depending on the type of insulating material used, it may simply provide a barrier to heat transfer, or it could actually reflect some of the heat back in the direction it came from. In the summer, this means that heat is prevented from entering from outside; in the winter, the insulation stops heat from moving out of the house.

Understanding R-Values

Insulation effectiveness is measured by R-Value. The higher a material’s R-Value is, the more resistant it is to heat penetration. Insulations that have a higher R-Value tend to be thicker or made of denser materials able to resist greater amounts of heat transfer than thinner insulations. Some forms of insulation may have a lower R-Value but are still effective; an example is aerosol can spray foam, which can’t be placed very thick, but seals out air. So keep in mind that R-Value isn’t the only measure of how effective insulation is.

Types of Insulation

Insulation isn’t exactly a one-size-fits-all product. There are different types of insulation available to meet different needs. Though the specifics of different insulation types may vary, these are the most common types of insulation you’ll see:

  • Batt Insulation – This is what most people think of when they picture insulation. Batt insulation comes in rolls of material such as fiberglass or cotton that is applied in walls, floors, ceilings or other areas where large amounts of insulation is needed.
  • Spray Foam – As the name implies, this insulation comes in the form of a liquid foam that is sprayed onto the surface where insulation is needed. The foam expands and hardens, providing a layer of insulation that can fill gaps, cracks and other areas that other insulation types often miss.
  • Blown-In Insulation – Similar to spray foam insulation, blown-in insulation is applied by a blower instead of coming in rolls. Instead of originating as a liquid, however, this insulation is made of small bits of fiberglass or cellulose and fills in the area where it is blown. It provides excellent heat retention and creates a sound barrier where applied as well.
  • Radiant Barriers – A specialty insulation generally made of layers of perforated aluminum, this insulation is applied in the attic walls and rafters in areas with warm climates. The insulation reflects radiant energy from the sun, reducing attic temperatures and making heating and air conditioning more efficient.
  • Window Insulation – This can come in the form of films applied to the window surface, plastic sheeting applied over the windows or even insulation built into the windows themselves.

You may encounter other types of insulation as well, though they are typically intended for more specialty uses than those listed here.

Air Sealing

Even high-quality insulation can’t do much if there are cracks and gaps in your walls or foundation that let air flow in and out freely. Finding and filling cracks with a sealant is an important part of insulating your home. There are different sealants available for this purpose, though spray foam insulation works as both an insulator and an air sealant.

Insulation Installation

Making sense of different types of insulation and figuring out which is best for your needs isn’t always easy. Fortunately, HomeKeepr can help you find a professional installer who will match you to the best insulation for your home and seal up any air leaks as well. Sign up today for a free account so you can get to work on insulating your home.

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Are Smart Homes Here to Stay?

There’s been quite a bit of hype about smart homes in recent years. These aren’t the top-to-bottom smart homes that were envisioned by science fiction for years, of course. Those were houses that had a central artificial intelligence that controlled everything and inevitably went rogue at some point. Instead, modern smart homes are usually traditional homes just like the one that you live in. They’ve simply been enhanced with sensors and devices and the occasional digital assistant. Some people are thrilled with how technology is changing the way we interact with our home environment. Others aren’t quite so happy with the direction that this trend is heading. Love them or hate them, though – there’s one thing that you need to accept: The smart home isn’t going away.

What Makes a Smart Home?

A smart home is one that has a variety of sensors and controls within it that give you additional information or functionality when it comes to your home. This can range from information like whether you left the front door unlocked or what the temperature is in your living room to functions such as controlling your lights with your voice. Some smart homes use a central hub or device to control everything, while others use components that connect via wifi and are controlled by your phone. Some smart homes feature appliances or other major fixtures that have “smart” capabilities while others just use devices or sensors to make day-to-day life more convenient. Because of the device-based nature of modern smart homes, homeowners can choose exactly the components they want to help make the smart home installation meet their specific needs.

Smart Home Devices

There are a wide range of smart home devices available for homeowners. Some of these are fairly well known, such as smart thermostats that feature programmable temperature controls that “learn” how best to keep you comfortable. Others are less common but very handy, such as leak sensors that alert you when your pipes leak or window sensors that let you check to see whether your windows or locked or unlocked. You can get smart lighting that can be controlled remotely and can even change colors, smart locks that you can lock and unlock with your phone or a key fob, smart smoke and CO2 detectors, motion sensors that activate security cameras but that are able to ignore pets and small animals… the list is quite extensive. Most of these devices are programmable so you can automate specific tasks, or can at least be paired with things such as a digital assistant (like Amazon Echo devices or Google Home) to schedule automation and even voice control.

Safety and Privacy

There are a number of advantages to using smart devices, including saving money and increasing convenience in your daily life. However, some people have security and privacy concerns as well. Some smart devices have been exploited in the past, allowing hackers to listen in or speak through the devices to people in a smart home. Some devices featuring video also raise security concerns as people worry that others will be able to record them going throughout their day. While these are valid concerns, security breaches and flaws are taken seriously by manufacturers. The majority of cases where unwanted access has occurred were either due to flaws that have since been patched or due to someone gaining access to the password that secures the devices. This is why it’s important for those who buy smart devices to use strong passwords on their accounts and to make sure that their devices have up-to-date software, as these two actions will mitigate the majority of security concerns.

Get Smart

Whether you already have smart home devices installed or you’re just curious, there are installers and consultants who can help you determine exactly how your home could be a little smarter. If you’re interested, HomeKeepr can help you connect with a consultant in your area that can help you along your way. Sign up now for your free account and get ready for your home to be that much smarter.
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Are You Sure You Own Your Fence?

As Robert Frost (somewhat facetiously) said, “Good fences make good neighbors.” While many people have much better relationships with their neighbors than the saying implies, there is something to be said for a good fence on your property. Not only can fences add some visual appeal to the property, but they can also be functional. Fences are often a godsend if you own animals and don’t want to keep them chained up outside, and a fence around your backyard can afford you some privacy with your family or friends as well.Sometimes, though, fences need to be updated, removed or replaced. At these times, homeowners have found themselves in conflict with their good neighbors over the question of who actually owns the fence between their properties. While this might seem like an odd question, if the fence was already there when you moved in, are you completely sure that it belongs to you? Just whose side of the property line does it really fall on?

Figuring Out Ownership

Before you start tearing down an existing fence, it’s important to figure out if you actually have legal ownership of the fence itself. Friendly neighbors can become bitter enemies pretty quickly if you start tearing down a fence that belongs to the people living next door. You can also cause some hurt feelings if you start taking the fence down and accidentally tear up gardens or other plants that grow next to or on the fence. This is why it’s essential to determine ownership before you make any move on the fence. Not clearing things beforehand can not only cause hurt feelings and ruin a neighborly relationship, but in some cases a neighbor might even get the police or lawyers involved.

A Neighborly Conversation

One of the first things that you should do if there’s any question about the ownership of the fence is go over and have a chat with your neighbor. Explain that you want to replace the fence, provide your reasoning on why the fence has to go, and ask if they know whose property the fence falls on. If the fence is on your property, the neighbor should tell you; if it’s on theirs, then you can open up a larger conversation about replacing it. This also gives you an opportunity to talk about any plants or other features that might be disturbed during the process and make accommodations for pets or other animals that gaps in the fence might put at risk. Be sure to approach the topic casually and with a friendly tone; if you come across as too aggressive or seem defensive about the question then it can cause the conversation to head south pretty quickly.

Checking That Property Line

Unless your conversation with your neighbor sorts things out neatly, it’s a good idea to get a survey done to settle the matter of where the fence lies. A surveyor will ensure that the property line is clearly marked so you can see exactly where the fence lies on the property line. In some cases, it will clear the matter up readily, since the fence will obviously fall on one property or the other. In other cases, you might find that the fence actually straddles the line or moves from one property to the other. In this case you may need to discuss the issue more with your neighbor or consult the property deed or other official description of the property to see whether the fence is mentioned. Regardless, knowing where the property line falls gives you a lot of leverage in solving the issue.

Solving Your Fencing Woes

Whether you’re in need of a surveyor to help you figure out ownership or a contractor to replace the fence, HomeKeepr is here to help. With a free HomeKeepr account you can connect with professionals in your area that will assist you in getting your fencing issues cleared up in no time. Sign up for a free account today so you can get started on your fencing project tomorrow.
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