Spring Cleaning Checklist

There are few rites of spring more satisfying than the annual clean. For many people, however, the pleasure comes only after the work is finished. Your spring cleaning may never become effortless, but you can make the project more manageable --  and even enjoyable. This printable checklist offers an overview of everything you need to know -- including information on cleansers, stain removal, fabric care, and storage -- to zip through the process and arrive at a happy end.

After you read through the tips and techniques, tailor the list to your home and yard. Create a realistic schedule, keeping in mind that a single weekend won't suffice, as you'll need several days for more involved projects, such as shampooing carpets and organizing closets. Whether you prefer to proceed from the attic to the basement or start outdoors and wind your way inside, focus on one task at a time. And be sure to enlist the help of family members.

The information on this checklist was excerpted from "Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook" (Clarkson Potter/Publishers; 2006).

Source: Martha Stewart

If You Could Renovate One Room Only... Which would it be? Which would have the best return on investment?

According to Cathy Morrissey, of The Reno Chick, the answer is a no-brainer.

“If I had to say what gets people in the door, it is the front yard, your outdoor room,” says Morrissey, who has managed seven renovations since 2012. Each has returned a six-figure sum.

“That’s because if you can’t get them (prospective buyers) in the first 10 seconds, if you can’t make a good impression, you will never have a chance.”

If I had to say what gets people in the door, it’s the front yard.

Morrissey says her own daughter is currently looking to buy a home and already has decided not to stop and inspect 20 houses because she hasn’t liked the front yard.

“Investors don’t care so much because they are thinking about what they can do to improve it themselves but for owner occupants it’s their home so spend a little if that is all you have and it will bring the best return on your outlay.

“Make that positive first impression and you don’t need to spend a lot of money to do it.”

If you have less than $500, Morrissey suggests you:

  • Buy some new plants and flowers
  • Mow the lawn
  • Clean the concrete
  • Remove rubbish
  • Prune existing foliage
  • Add some fresh mulch
  • Paint the front fence

She recently spent $6,000 cosmetically refreshing the front of an investment property in Sydney. She says the 35-day paint-and-gardens project made her $105,000 profit.

“Paint the fence if you can and get the front yard looking really neat because that will get people in your front door.”


Kitchen a sure winner

The kitchen of almost any property will return the best bang-for-your-renovation bucks when it comes time to sell, he says.

“I would say it is probably one of the most expensive (rooms) to do but for returns I would have to say the kitchen,” Hall says.

“If a buyer comes in, it really looks like a lot of money has been spent and a lot of hard work when they are confronted with a new kitchen but it actually doesn’t have to be expensive.”

Hall’s tips for saving money on your kitchen include:

  • Shopping for a package of appliances including range-hood, oven and cook-top
  • Buy flat packed kitchens and install yourself if you can
  • Buy a mainstream brand of appliances suitable to your target market
  • Don’t over-capitalise

“If you do have a bit of cash to spend, while it is the bigger ticket investment it will bring the biggest return on spend because it is your home’s highest traffic area and everyone really wants that open-plan flow to an impressive-looking kitchen.

“You will pay $15K-$20K for a top end kitchen, $10K-$15K for a very good kitchen but you could expect a return of three times minimum on that spend.

“In this current market you can sometimes get up to five times your investment on your kitchen reflected in your post-renovation valuation price.”

Cherie Barber of Renovating for Profit also thinks a kitchen is the most important room as “buyers love a smartly renovated, modern kitchen and, done well, you’ll always get a good return on investment.”

“Between $7,500 to $12,500 is a reasonable ballpark to budget for an average kitchen reno; obviously a lot more for a luxury fit out,” Barber says.

“I always say your kitchen reno budget should be no more than 2% of your property’s current value.

“The other really important room, for the same reasons, is the bathroom …”

Don’t forget the wet areas

Experts, including Justin Lilburne from JPP Buyers Advocates who renovates in his spare time, say updating a bathroom can potentially add sizeable value provided its bath, shower and toilet remain in their original locations.

If you don’t have to move these fixtures’ pipes you could save a lot of money and get maximum return on your renovation.

“A quick update could be done for $5,000-$10,000 and the return on investment would be$30,000-$40,000,” Lilburne says.

“However, adding an additional bathroom will increase the number of potential buyers and this will increase the gain; keeping mind it will depend on the type of dwelling and location of the existing plumbing along with ease of access.”

Source: Real Estate Australia (Caroline James)

2016 Interior Design Trends - WOW

2016 Has shown us some pretty awesome interior design trends. Take a look at the list below courtesy of ELLE Decor!


6 Things Everyone Should Do When Moving Into a New House

new home.jpg

Skip potential trouble by doing these 6 things.

When I bought my first house, my timing couldn’t have been better: The house closing was two weeks before the lease was up on my apartment. That meant I could take my time packing and moving, and I could get to know the new place before moving in.

I recruited family and friends to help me move (in exchange for a beer-and-pizza picnic on the floor) and, as a bonus, I got to pick their brains about what first-time homeowners should know.

Their help was one of the best housewarming presents I could have gotten. And thanks to their expertise and a little Googling, here’s what I learned about what to do before moving in.

1. Change the Locks

You really don’t know who else has keys to your home, so change the locks. That ensures you’re the only person who has access. Install new deadbolts yourself for as little as $10 per lock, or call a locksmith — if you supply the new locks, they typically charge about $20 to $30 per lock for labor.


2. Check for Plumbing Leaks

Your home inspector should do this for you before closing, but it never hurts to double-check. I didn’t have any plumbing leaks to fix, but when checking my kitchen sink, I did discover the sink sprayer was broken. I replaced it for under $20.

Keep an eye out for dripping faucets and running toilets, and check your water heater for signs of a leak.

Here’s a neat trick: Check your water meter at the beginning and end of a two-hour window in which no water is being used in your house. If the reading is different, you have a leak.


3. Steam Clean Carpets

Do this before you move your furniture in, and your new home life will be off to a fresh start. You can pay a professional carpet cleaning service — you’ll pay about $50 per room; most services require a minimum of about $100 before they’ll come out — or you can rent a steam cleaner for about $30 per day and do the work yourself. I was able to save some money by borrowing a steam cleaner from a friend.  


4. Wipe Out Your Cabinets

Another no-brainer before you move in your dishes and bathroom supplies. Make sure to wipe inside and out, preferably with a non-toxic cleaner, and replace contact paper if necessary.

When I cleaned my kitchen cabinets, I found an unpleasant surprise: Mouse poop. Which leads me to my next tip …

5. Give Critters the Heave-Ho

That includes mice, rats, bats, termites, roaches, and any other uninvited guests. There are any number of DIY ways to get rid of pests, but if you need to bring out the big guns, an initial visit from a pest removal service will run you $100 to $300, followed by monthly or quarterly visits at about $50 each time.

For my mousy enemies, I strategically placed poison packets around the kitchen, and I haven’t found any carcasses or any more poop, so the droppings I found must have been old. I might owe a debt of gratitude to the snake that lives under my back deck, but I prefer not to think about him.


6. Introduce Yourself to Your Circuit Breaker Box and Main Water Valve

My first experience with electrical wiring was replacing a broken light fixture in a bathroom. After locating the breaker box, which is in my garage, I turned off the power to that bathroom so I wouldn’t electrocute myself.

It’s a good idea to figure out which fuses control what parts of your house and label them accordingly. This will take two people: One to stand in the room where the power is supposed to go off, the other to trip the fuses and yell, “Did that work? How about now?”


You’ll want to know how to turn off your main water valve if you have a plumbing emergency, if a hurricane or tornado is headed your way, or if you’re going out of town. Just locate the valve — it could be inside or outside your house — and turn the knob until it’s off. Test it by turning on any faucet in the house; no water should come out.