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July 22, 2019

5 First-Time Building Mistakes to Avoid

 

Designing your own home can be exciting, but it's a lot more work than buying an existing house. With so many moving pieces involved, knowing what works and what doesn't is key. Protect your home's long-term value by sidestepping these five avoidable pitfalls of building a new home.

 

1. Forgetting About Storage Space

From seasonal items to extra bedding, everything requires a temporary home when not in use. For that, you'll need plenty of storage space. Some simple solutions might include a few extra closets, a sizeable garage space or built-in cabinets and shelving.

 

2. Skimping on Materials

Anything worth doing is worth doing right, and new home construction is no exception. Even if you're watching your pennies, try not to scrimp on quality, especially when it comes to important things like flooring. The materials you choose can have a huge impact on your home's overall value.

 

3. Overlooking Energy Efficiency

For an energy-efficient home design, make sure to use earth- and wallet-friendly features like well-sealed windows and green materials during the build. These are your strongest assets in keeping heating and cooling costs down long-term.

 

4. Losing Sight of Current and Future Needs

Design for your current needs, but keep the future in mind, too. For instance, do you plan to have children? Are you going to pursue a specific hobby, such as woodworking, when you retire? Whatever the future holds, work with your builder to create a dream home that will support your evolving needs.

 

5. Letting Someone Else Decide

You don't need to keep up with the Joneses to have an ideal space. Only you and your family know what you need most in a new home, so choose and upgrade according to your preferences alone.

 

 

In the end, building your ideal home is about identifying both what you want and what you don't want. Choose wisely so your new abode will be comfortable, efficient and attractive to future buyers.

Posted in Home Design
July 19, 2019

Seasonal Home Maintenance Checklist

Your home is an investment that requires ongoing maintenance to stay in tiptop shape. If you neglect annual and quarterly tasks, however, you risk overlooking potential issues that could lead to expensive repairs down the road. Stay on top of preventive maintenance tasks with a seasonal checklist and the reminders below.

Winter -- To prevent pipes from bursting, drain and insulate exposed outdoor pipes and leave the water dripping inside on cold nights. Also check your boiler's water level every now and again to make sure it doesn't get too low.

Spring -- Winter can leave a layer of grit on your home's exterior. Get it ready for spring by cleaning windows, doors and siding with a garden hose or power washer. And while the weather is mild, have your HVAC systems serviced by a professional to keep them running at optimal efficiency.

Summer -- Inspect your sprinkler system for clogs or malfunctioning heads. Keep an eye out for damaged pipes or pooling water to avoid a larger issue. Review or establish your family emergency plan and restock your disaster supply kit if necessary.

Fall -- Get ahead of winter by having your chimney professionally inspected and cleaned. Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning properly and have fresh batteries. And keep your gutters clear of leaves and debris to protect your roof and foundation.

These are just a few maintenance items to stay on top of around the house. Keep up with all of your annual, monthly and seasonal to-do's to preserve the value of your home and avoid potential headaches down the line. You'll be glad you did!

 

Posted in Home Tips
July 17, 2019

Weekend Events

This Weekend in Wisconsin:  

ARTISAN FOOD & CRAFT BEVERAGE TOUR, EDGERTON CLAY DAY & ART FESTIVAL, AND  OPERA IN THE PARK 2019!

 

ARTISAN FOOD & CRAFT BEVERAGE TOUR

 

Old Sugar Distillery - VIP Tour

931 E Main St - Madison, WI 53703

Information: 608-628-8927

Event Date Detail

Jul 19, 2019. 6-9pm. 

 

Event details

Common Wealth Development! Tour Madison Enterprise Center and Main Street Industries! Eat food from Graze and Slide! Sample artisan foods and drinks from Hidden Cave Cider, WM Chocolate, Roth Cheese, Lush Life Vegan Bakery, Just Bakery, Quince & Apple, Potter's Crackers and more!!

VIP Experience: $139; General Admission: $69.

Check out more events in Wisconsin.

 

July 19, Art on the Town, Appleton

July 19, Artisan Food & Craft Beverage Tour, Madison

July 19, Cemetery Walking Tour, Wisconsin Dells

July 19, Kids from Wisconsin in Walworth, Walworth

July 19, Music on the River, Amery

July 19, Rotary Lobster Boil, Sheboygan

July 19, Summertime Southern Ball, Chippewa Falls

July 14-20, Flavors of Wisconsin Bicycle Tour, Fitchburg

July 17-20, Watertown Maxwell Street Days, Watertown

July 18-20, Country Jam USA, Eau Claire

July 18-20, Moon Dance Music Festival, Gleason

July 18-20, Paper Fest, Kimberly

July 18-20, Rock Fest, Cadott

July 18-20, Rock USA, Oshkosh

July 19-20, Annual Gem and Mineral Show, Minocqua

July 19-20, Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival, Elkhart Lake

July 19-20, Endeavor Broiler Fest, Endeavor

July 19-20, Gallery Night & Day, Milwaukee

July 19-20, Hatfield Carp Fest, Hatfield

July 19-20, La Crosse Story Telling Festival, La Crosse

July 19-20, Village Green Beer Garden, Oconomowoc

July 19-20, Vintage Cars Concours d’Elegance, Elkhart Lake

July 20, Acoustic Fest, Manitowoc

July 20, Art A Rama, Eagle River

July 20, Baraboo Big Top Parade & Circus Celebration, Baraboo

July 20, Beer Cupboard Run, Minocqua

July 20, Cranberry Country Quilters Show, Eagle River

July 20, Dodge County Flea Market and Craft Fair, Beaver Dam

July 20, Edgerton Clay Day & Art Festival, Edgerton

July 20, Fish Day, Port Washington

July 20, Karner Blue 5K-10K Half Marathon Run/Walk, Black River Falls

July 20, Lake Mills Arts Festival, Lake Mills

July 20, Lake Superior Day, Port Wing

July 20, Mardi Gras Arts & Crafts Fair, Ladysmith

July 20, Marketplace Dayz, Cottage Grove

July 20, Mid-Continent Margarita & Taco Train, North Freedom

July 20, Motorhead Mafia Car & Bike Show, Neillsville

July 20, Opera in the Park 2019, Madison

July 20, Park to Park Paddle, Appleton

July 20, Pulling for Youth Truck & Tractor Pull, Colby

July 20, Sidewalk Sales, Manitowish Waters

July 20, Southwest Music Festival, Platteville

July 20, Square Fare, Oshkosh

July 20, Scroll Through Arts in the Park Craft & Gift Fair, Edgerton

July 20, Summer Series Cruise-In Car Show, Chippewa Falls

July 20, Taste of Manitowish Waters, Manitowish Waters

July 20, Wisconsin Football Association’s All- Star Game, Oshkosh

July 16-21, St Croix River Fest, Hudson

July 17-21, Barron County Fair, Glenwood City

July 17-21, Fond du Lac County Fair, Fond du Lac

July 17-21, Waukesha County Fair, Waukesha

July 18-21, Country Thunder Music Festival, Twin Lakes

July 18-21, Dane County Fair, Madison

July 18-21, Marquette County Fair, Westfield

July 18-21, Northland Mardi Gras, Ladysmith

July 18-21, Small Town Baseball World Series, Minocqua

July 18-21, Wisconsin State Water Ski Show Championship, Wisconsin Rapids

July 19-21, Bay Days Festival, Ashland

July 19-21, Colby Cheese Days, Colby

July 19-21, EVP Coolest Coast Professional Volleyball, Two Rivers

July 19-21, Festa Italiana, Milwaukee

July 19-21, Maxwell Street Days, Madison

July 19-21, Tribute Island Music Festival, Kenosha

July 19-21, Two Rivers Fish & Derby Festival, Two Rivers

July 20-21, American Girl Benefit Sale, Middleton

July 20-21, Maxwell Street Days Flea Market, Mukwonago

July 21, Appleton Old Car Show & Swap Meet, Appleton

July 21, Boat Jam 2019, Green Lake

July 21, Car & Motorcycle Show, Racine

July 21, Locust Street Classic Car & Custom Motorcycle Show, Hudson

Posted in Community Events
July 10, 2019

Summer Selling Tips

 

One of the most popular times to sell a house is during the summer months. There are a lot of reasons for that. People may be taking advantage of their kids being out of school to help move, curb appeal is at its peak since flowers are blooming and trees are full of leaves, and more people are simply outside during the summer months. With all the other houses on the market, you will need to make sure yours stands out. Here are some tips on how to sell your home during the summer.

 

Keep it Cool

Nothing feels better than getting out of the hot and humid weather by walking into a cool home. Make sure you keep your house air conditioned during showings so that potential buyers are comfortable while they look around your home. Sure, your bill for running your air conditioning will be higher but it is a small price to pay when it comes to selling your home.

 

Clean Up and Declutter

This is an obvious one but is definitely very important. You want to make sure your home is spotless during showings. You also don’t want your home to look cluttered so remove anything that doesn’t need to be out in the open. This will make your home appear more spacious.

 

Decorate for Summer

Use summer colors in your decorating scheme! You should also plant flowers both outside your home as well as place flowers inside your home.

 

Take Advantage of Natural Light

Open up those curtains! Letting the sun shine into your home is an easy way to make your home more appealing. It’s the perfect way to avoid the interior looking dimly lit.

 

Show Off the Outside

 

The outside of your home is arguably just as important as the inside. You’ll want to make sure you mow your lawn regularly, so it looks it’s best. Take advantage of using patio furniture to create a homey environment outside. It doesn’t take too much effort to create an inviting environment outside of your home.

 

July 9, 2019

7 Ways to Save Energy

 

Find out how you can reduce your household's energy consumption this fall while preparing for the seasons ahead.

Reducing Home Energy Use
The average U.S. household consumes tens of thousands of kilowatt hours of electricity each year, and much of it is completely unnecessary. Making changes as simple as adding a few energy-efficient appliances and turning off gadgets when you're not using them can save you a significant amount of money while also reducing your carbon footprint.

Don't fret if new Energy Star-labeled appliances aren't in the budget. Instead, try working in a few small changes from this Home Energy Checklist to help you save throughout the year. Here are a few more ideas:

  • Unplug electronics, gaming consoles and chargers when not in use.
  • Insulate your water heater with a blanket and turn the temperature down to at least 120 degrees.
  • Replace bulbs with LED or CFL bulbs and turn them off anytime you leave a room.
  • Schedule an energy audit and replace your thermostat with a programmable unit.

 

Prepping Your Home for the Cold
During cooler months you can save additional money and energy with simple, inexpensive fixes like:

  • Using insulating drapes to help diffuse winter chill. Just make sure to open any south-facing drapes to take advantage of the sun's natural heating capabilities.
  • Finding and sealing air leaks. Check your windows, doors and pipes, and use weatherstripping or caulk to stop cool air from seeping in.
  • Closing fireplace dampers when not in use. You can also have the entire flume completely sealed off if you use your home's heating system exclusively.

 

Reducing your energy consumption not only makes a positive contribution to our planet, it also leaves money on the table for fun fall pastimes. With just a few of these small changes, you can get more from your energy budget.

Posted in Home Tips
July 4, 2019

Affordable Ways to Update Your Home

 

Tired of your home looking off-trend and out of touch? Or investing in an older home and want to update it? You don't need deep pockets to do either. In fact, upgrading your home can be quite affordable with the right projects.

Here are five ways to make a big impact without spending a lot:

Repaint. Paint trends come and go, so if your walls are still the same color or have the same wallpaper from 1950, they're likely out of date. Consider giving the walls a new look with a more modern tone.

Change light fixtures. It's time to kick out-of-style light fixtures to the curb. Pendant lighting, Edison bulbs and simple recessed lighting are what's hot with today's designers and buyers.

Update your hardware. You'd be surprised at how easily doorknobs, drawer pulls, locks and handles can start to look aged. Take a good look at your existing hardware, and consider upgrading to newer models. And don't forget the hinges.

Reface your appliances. Have an old, yellowing appliance but don't want to replace what's not broken? Just use peel-and-stick stainless steel or marble contact paper, and reface those appliances instantly.

Install a kickplate. If you want to upgrade your curb appeal but can't afford a new door, consider installing a kickplate. It's an instant, affordable way to add visual appeal to any existing entryway.

These upgrades may seem minor, but when done properly, they can have a serious impact on your home's aesthetic.

If you're considering more extensive updates, let's get together to discuss ways to increase your home's marketability and long-term value.

Posted in Home Design, Home Tips
June 28, 2019

Signs You Have Outgrown Your Home

 

For most homeowners, this is inevitable. You may love your current home, but at some point, it may not fit your needs. Maybe your family is growing, or you have picked up new hobbies that your current home doesn’t accommodate. Here are a few signs you have outgrown your home.

Your Family Has Expanded

You may have bought your current home with your spouse when it was just the two of you. Now you have kids and your kids are growing but there is no longer enough space in your home for you all to live there comfortably. Whether you need a bigger space inside or a bigger yard, it’s time to upsize!

Items Continue to Pile Up

When your family grows, typically the amount of stuff you have increases as well. The kids have toys and sports equipment everywhere. You may have picked up a new hobby or acquired souvenirs from family vacations. All of your life experiences since you’ve bought your home have generated more items. You can try to purge your closet or get rid of things you no longer use, however, sometimes that is not enough and upgrading to a larger home is the only option.

Unable to Host Gatherings

Who doesn’t love to spend time with friends and family? Maybe it’s your time to host a holiday dinner but you can’t stop stressing over it because you don’t know how you’re possibly going to fit everyone around the table or in the living room. Even if you don’t love to host gatherings, you still want to have a space big enough to have a few people over without it feeling cramped.

Long Commute to Work

Outgrowing your home doesn’t always mean you no longer have the physical space to live comfortably. It can also mean it doesn’t fit the needs in your life anymore. You finally landed your dream job but now you’re dealing with a painfully long commute. This is cutting into the time you get to spend with your loved ones, and you don’t want to continue to sacrifice that precious time any longer. You may want to move to a home that is closer to your office to cut down the hours you spend on the road.

Thoughts of Getting a Bigger Home

Are you already sitting on your couch or even at work and thinking about searching for a new home? Chances are it is definitely time to make the upgrade. Be proactive and begin your search! 

Posted in Real Estate Advice
June 27, 2019

EASY LANDSCAPING DIY PROJECTS

 

Ever get the itch to do a DIY project? Whenever we do, our favorites involve getting outdoors and mixing up our landscaping features.

 

Whether it's as simple as installing some lighting or a little more time-consuming like re-plotting plants, a fresh look for the lawn always gives your home a fresh look as well. Here are our top five easy landscaping projects!

 

Create a pathway.

 

To guide you and visitors throughout your yard and link different areas together, install a pathway. You can use materials from a variety of materials, including reclaimed pallet wood, flagstones, gravel, and more to add texture and color.

 

Add a wall or border.

 

Installing a flagstone, rock, or brick wall around flower beds or trees adds a sleek, clean look to your landscaping and helps separate different sections of your yard.

 

Install a water feature.

 

Nothing says zen quite like the sound of trickling water as you relax in your backyard. You can start simple with by purchasing and installing a small feature powered by a solar panel or create a larger focal point in your yard by installing a waterfall wall or small pond.

 

Light your way.

 

An easy way to transform your yard is to strategically use lighting. Place cool-colored lights high in trees to recreate a moonlight feel, use pathway lights to naturally guide the eye, or highlight objects or plants.

 

Plant upwards.

 

 

Expand your yard space by drawing the eye to the sky with a trellis fence or screen made of wood or metal. Once you install your trellis, select your climbing plants and vines and get to planting!

 

Posted in Home Tips
June 25, 2019

Frequently Asked Mortgage Questions

 

 

Does the term "amortization" leave you perplexed? Are you unsure how preapproval differs from prequalification? If so, you're not alone. Here are some mortgage basics to help you become more familiar with the process.

What's the difference between prequalification and preapproval?
Getting prequalified is often the first step when searching for a home. You supply basic financial information, such as your income, assets and debts, and the lender then provides a preliminary estimate of the amount for which you may qualify.

Preapproval involves an in-depth look at your finances and usually requires an application fee, but this process brings you closer to determining your potential interest rate and monthly payment. Being preapproved also puts you in a better position in a competitive market because it shows you have your finances in order.

What is amortization?
Amortization is the process of paying off a home loan's principal and interest over time within a consistent, planned repayment schedule. In the beginning, a large portion of each payment goes toward interest, but as the loan matures, larger amounts go toward paying down the principal.

What types of loans are there?
Fixed and adjustable rate mortgages operate as their respective names imply. The former has a rate that stays the same for the life of the loan. The latter's rate may start low, but it can increase after a predetermined period or depending on market conditions.

Government-guaranteed mortgages include FHA and VA loans. These are usually easier to qualify for and typically require lower down payments than other types of loans.

 

Posted in Home Buying
June 11, 2019

Kitchen Remodel Ideas

 

There is good reason why kitchens are one of the most commonly remodeled rooms in a home. It’s a place that often has gatherings such as family dinners, get together with friends or simply a place to enjoy your morning coffee. Now that you know you want to remodel your kitchen, you will have to decide what changes you want to make. We have a few ideas on what you can do to create a space in your home that is perfect for everything from mingling to eating your meals.

 

Use Some Color

Adding some color to the walls in your kitchen as an easy way to alter the vibe of the room. You can do this by simply painting a wall a new color. There are a lot of different colors to choose from, but you will want to make sure the color you choose goes with your kitchen cabinets and other parts of your kitchen. This is a relatively inexpensive way to upgrade!

 

Give Your Kitchen Cabinets an Upgrade

Speaking of cabinets, it may be time to give them a makeover or swap them out entirely! Again, you want your cabinets to go with your newly painted walls. Changing your cabinets doesn’t always require you to tear them off the walls and install brand new ones. Instead you can paint them to give them a fresher look. Swapping out the knobs or handles on your cabinets is another low-cost option to change the style you currently have.

 

Add an Island

Installing an island is a great idea because it can serve multiple purposes. You can use it as a place to eat a meal, prepare your food and store dishes. Not only are islands functional, they look great as well!

 

Upgrade Your Appliances

Replacing your appliances during a kitchen remodel is one of the best times to do it. You can get new appliances that match each other and go with the style of your new kitchen. A few of the popular options for appliances are all white, black, stainless steel or even a retro look.

 

Make a Splash

 

Create a new look in your kitchen by updating your backsplash! There are plenty of designs to choose from so you will definitely be able to find a look that fits you. Tiles, artificial stone and wallpaper are some of the popular styles that are used.

 

Posted in Home Design