5 Tip For Downsizing

In the real estate industry, the bigger the better. That does not always stand true. Sometimes moving to a smaller space can be just as rewarding. However, you need to be prepared and prepped up to ensure this transition is smooth with minor hiccups. Irrespective of the circumstances, when you decide to downsize to a smaller space, it is inevitable that you would have to say goodbye to some of your things – favourite pieces, memorabilia, even furniture, and clothing. Well, it’s natural to be stressed and worried about the process. But there is a lot you can do to minimise the stress. We’ve listed down 5 tips that could guide you in the process of downsizing and making your life clutter-free.

DECLUTTER

You’ve put your current property for sale and are now moving to a downsized space, it’s but obvious that space won’t be able to contain all your belongings. It’s good to get a realistic estimate of the space and the things it can contain seamlessly without looking cluttered. The key is to take only the essentials. Don’t toss any of your stuff, instead, you can hire a junk removal company, they will help recycle the junk. You can also donate it, or sell some of it or simply reuse some of your stuff by making some DIY alterations to it. If there are some items you absolutely adore and would hate to throw away, pass it on to your family or give it to charity. This will ensure that someone needy or within the kin will give it the care needed and cherish it.

GET HELP

Sorting out through your personal belongings is never easy. Make three piles – Keep, toss and maybe. Get a friend or someone objective to help you with the process. Don’t ever do this alone, you can also get your kids or family members to help. You can help each other, you can be objective about their belonging and they about yours. This will ensure the process is a lot smoother. Another tip is if there are some treasures that you absolutely must take along, but lack space to display them. You can rotate them monthly, this way you get a chance to display all the items at the same time giving a fresh look to the room. You can also invest in storage units if you have some essentials that you would like to keep around for future use. Here are 41 ways to sort your belongings.

PLAN AHEAD

Now that you have sorted all your stuff, don’t wait until the moving day to figure where each item goes. Take the dimensions of the space you have and your furniture and start preparing the layout in advance. Take only quality furniture you can multipurpose, as this can save a lot of space. The extra chair or study table will be of no use in your smaller space, it’s best to carry functional elements only. This will ensure only the best things make it to your new home, it can be a life-changing process both lifestyle-wise and psychologically.

PAPERWORK

It’s easy to accumulate a lot of paperwork when staying in a place for a long time. And it is essential to have them all in order so that you don’t misplace something important. Designate a small file cabinet or portable storage units to keep them safe and sound. Remember to declutter here as well, most of the times we have documents we don’t really need. Keep only the essential – important house documents, insurance papers, warranty documents, bank files and records, medical files and records. All these should be easy to access. Labeling the box clearly as ‘crucial’ or ‘very important’ can avoid it from getting lost in the clutter.

STORAGE & ORGANISATION

The best option is to get clear boxes, as you can quickly see what’s inside them. Boxes that stack over each other help save space and use it efficiently. Make sure you don’t stack a lot of them together as it might get difficult to get to the bottom ones. Also get easy-to-open lids for kids and senior citizens. A lot of time, items go missing in a move or are lost in the sea of boxes as they are not labeled well. A good practice when you start packing is to colour code the boxes so that the movers know where to put them, always it’s easier for you to unpack them later. Also marking things as important and fragile will make sure the movers are extra careful. Another useful tip is to get tall freestanding shelves to store all the boxes in and keep them organised. You can also use open bins for items that are frequently used and does not need dust –protection. This will make access to them easier.

SAFETY

Make sure when you move; all the hallways and pathways are free from boxes so that you don’t trip over it. Ensure that the items you would be accessing every day are stored at the bottom of the shelves and the ones not used that often can be stacked on top. A step stool is better than a ladder, make sure it has wider steps and comfortable handrails. Also, make sure all chords are tied up individually and kept safe. It’s not fun to sort out a tangled mess of wires at the end of the day.

We hope these suggestions come in handy when downsizing. Downsizing can be a great move to unclutter your life. Added bonus? You are also helping the environment by doing so!

5 Things That Don’t Actually Matter When Buying Your First Home, And 5 That Do!

Many say, “It’s a great investment”, “Property always goes up”, “It’s a step into adulthood”, “It’s great for the children, and they need a home”. “You have enough savings, now it’s time to invest”. “It’s better than any investment you’ll make”. If you are somewhere in your 30s with a family, it’s likely you have heard at least one of these. There are many reasons to buy a house, some matter, some don’t. Both sides need equal consideration; both are equally important. Buying a house is a huge investment, it is vital to get it right, you need to know factors that are negotiable and those that aren’t. Let’s set the record straight and get to them

5 THINGS THAT DON’T REALLY MATTER WHEN BUYING A HOUSE

Your furniture doesn’t fit

Replacing a sofa is much easier than replacing a house. If you have found a perfect house, don’t let minor things get in a way. Now sure, say your wardrobe or dining table is a family heirloom and has stayed in the family for generations, fine keep it. But if it’s something you picked up at a local store or IKEA and spend a weekend putting it together, the house trumps the furniture. You can always sell it, donate it or better still alter it. A house that is otherwise perfect comes around rarely, and it’s not something you should let go over furniture issues. That should be the least of your worries really!

Small details

If the colour of the house doesn’t go with your taste. It should be the least of your worries, now the good news is, three coats of paint, and voila you’ll have the colour of your choice!

The tiles are not right, the windows are too big, the garden is unkempt, the kitchen cabinets are an eyesore. Well, we agree, all these things may be disgruntling, but there is nothing that a little alteration won’t fix. You can always use basic alternations like window panels, tile change, a professional landscaper, different laminate types to fix all of the above-mentioned problems.

Most first time homeowners see the house for what it is and not for what it should be. As long as the house has its fundamentals in place, these smaller details can be overlooked.    

The theme is all wrong

Well, the decor may not be to your taste, the owner may be stuck in the 80s, whereas you like your home to be modern and minimalistic. Now the key is to remember when the current owner moves out, so will his stuff. This is a minor blip in the larger scheme. The costs that you should be worried about are the remodelling costs. If they are well within the budget, go for it!

You love some things, some things you don’t.

Now the bathroom may be exactly as you imagined or even better. The garden is something right out of your dreams. Well, all of that is good, but hold your horses. Buying a house is not like buying shoes. It should never be impulsive. Remember, this is just one aspect of the house, what about the others? How much cost are the renovations going to come up to? It should not be more than 50% of what you paid for the house. That is a really bad investment, the ideal would be somewhere around 30% or less.

Short-term vision

The proximity to the school, parks, don’t matter to you, as you don’t have/want kids. Same goes for proximity to community centres, public transport. You may have two cars, but the future buyer may not. Think about it from the resale value perspective. These things may not matter to you, but it will for some families, they will be the potential future buyers, so think long term.  

Now, 5 THINGS THAT DO MATTER

MORTGAGE QUALIFICATION

You have started searching for houses; there are a few steps that you should ensure to yield you a higher purchasing power. One of them is seeing how much mortgage/home loan you are eligible for, with a certified banker of the lender. This step is essential; it will give you an estimate of your financial situation for the years to come. While you are at it, also look for reputed house insurance companies and make a list of things you would need for passing the insurance check. Also availing conveyancing services would be worth your while, a good conveyance lawyer can make the process of passing on the property to your spouse or next in kin less worrisome in case something unfortunate should take place.

INSPECTION

You’ve liked the house,  it’s perfect. It fits your budget, everything is well. The next step would be to pre-purchase house inspection before you seal the deal. A home inspection will ensure all the fundamentals are in check and it will give you a clearance certificate which will only help with the resale value. Get mold testing, meth testing, and asbestos testing done while getting the house inspected. A qualified inspector will give you an estimated cost of potential repairs and replacements the house will need. Ask the right questions, if you aren’t sure what they are, use these list of questions put together by the National Association of Realtors, this will definitely help you out.

REALTOR

With a good realtor by your side, the home-buying process can get a lot easier. He will be with you every step of the way. Getting a knowledgeable realtor with vast experience behind him is essential. It is important he knows the area you are moving to and is honest and trust-worthy. Here are some tips on how to find the right realtor.

COMPARE

Don’t buy the first thing you see, always compare the price and amenities of different houses and get the price for a few, to survey the options available. Make sure the house you settle for is in a safe neighborhood, is hooked up with a good security system, has window security in place, if you have children – see if it is child-friendly and can be easily child-proofed. What are the amenities close by, the location matters! Will it yield you a good resale value? These are some of the things you should consider before finalizing one. The key thing to remember is scoping out the best house in the neighborhood, a one similar to what you have in mind, and one that is smaller than your expectation and getting the price for all three, this will give you a proper estimate of what your house is worth, what will be the resale value if you buy a smaller house and scale it up; you will have two frameworks for your reference.  

LIST THE NON-NEGOTIABLES

While there are some things, where it’s better to find a middle ground. Some things are simply a requirement and can’t be negotiated on. Make a list of things that you absolutely need in the house. Like an extra bedroom, a garage, proximity to public transport, proximity to a hospital, proximity to a school. Evaluate your lifestyle and make a list of things that you can’t absolutely compromise on and go back to it when you make your choice. The whole point of buying a house is that it makes your life better. If compromising on these aspects is going to make your life difficult, it’s not worth the investment.

We hope this list will come in handy in helping you with your house searching journey. If you follow these tips, we are sure you will sail through it without much trouble.

Rental Warrant Of Fitness: What Is It And Is It Working?

When we consider buying or renting a house, we always need to consider the legal implications that it may come with. In New Zealand the warrant of fitness is legislation put in place to ensure that landlord, sellers and buyers all adhere to the standards and regulations. It is often asked whether the warrant of fitness serves its purpose, so below we shall look at some of the areas in which the warrant of fitness covers and if it is effective in today’s climate.

What is the Warrant of Fitness

The warrant of fitness for rentals gives the landlord the best chance at promoting property that they own. They will be able to give the potential tenant information on how dry and warm the property is and highlight it by showing it meets all the relevant standards that are required. There are about 63 questions covering 29 areas of criteria.

What usually happens with the warrant of fitness is that an inspector comes out to visit the property and conducts the appropriate assessment. This covers areas such as:

–          weather tightness

–          if heating and installation has been adequately supplied

–          if fully functioning smoke alarms have been installed

–          whether cold and hot water is available in each property.

Once the property has been inspected, it will receive a pass or fail from the local council. This will happen on the spot and the landlord is then given the report so that they can see any areas that may need improving. The warrant of fitness is covered for three years and will need renewing after this time.

Letting your Property

Letting your property can be a great way of making more money on your assets. Real estate agents and property asset management teams are a great way to start looking at your investments. These organisations will pride themselves in knowing all the pros and cons of renting a property. Properties for rent are becoming more popular as buying property can sometimes be problematic. As mentioned above, the warrant of fitness will be the first thing that you have to undertake. After this property inspection has taken place, you will then be able to market your property accordingly. Property management companies will be on hand to help you every step of the way and this will alleviate some of the stress related to renting out your property. In some cases, you may be advised to get a professional house inspection completed before you try to go for your warrant of fitness.

The Standards

The standards that are required to rent property are quite stringent. House rental agencies will be able to assist you with the standards that are required. Things like meth residual testing may not be something that you will be aware of, but it is something that will be tested before you start to rent your property. This is a relatively simple test and it will ghttps://www.zippi.net.nz/about-us/ive the future tenant some piece of mind.

Marketing your Property

Once you have decided to rent your property and you’ve been through your warrant of fitness, you will need to check with local letting agents and property management companies of the viability of your future rental. If so, it will now be time to start marketing your property. This, if done by professionals, can be something that is very easy to achieve and succeed in. But if you are the type of person that likes a challenge, then consider marketing your own property. Renting out your property can be made much easier if you present a polished, finished package in the first place.

Marketing your property can be done with some simple steps. Below we will outline some of the steps that you could undertake:

  1.      Make sure the property reaches all the basic requirements to pass the warrant of fitness. This is vital if you wish to get the best tenants possible.
  2.      Make sure everything in the property works. If you have a television, central heating or any other product, make sure it is in full working order and it is in good condition. A prospective tenant will be able to see that you are the type of landlord that looks after your property and will be there for them in the event of any need in the future.
  3.     Cleanliness is an area that can often be overlooked but keeping the property clean and tidy for potential viewings is vital. Potential tenants want to see the property at its best so that they can really see themselves living there. It may sound like a cliché, but you must have that wow factor and a feeling of home for potential tenants. People who want to live there will need to feel like they can make it a home without too much work involved.
  4.     Price is one of the areas that you have to get right as you want to make sure that you are making enough money to warrant renting your property whilst at the same time you don’t want to charge too much where you put potential tenants off. Try charging a reasonable amount for your property to ensure that you get the right people renting it.

Conclusion

Renting your property is not something that is necessarily the easiest thing to do, but with the right help and the right information it is something that you could easily achieve a good yield from. Talking to others in the field is a great way to learn the pros and cons of renting your property. The warrant of fitness has proved itself to be something that does help tenants get a good quality property.

Preparing To Move Out – How Much Work Do You Actually Need To Do?

To come directly to the point, there is no such thing as an easy move. It is ranked alongside major life events such as job change/loss, the death of a loved one or divorce on the level of stress it causes. So the more you prep and plan in advance the easier it will be. Majority of leases terminate during summer, especially towards the end of the school year. Advance planning some weeks ahead can keep your on track and ensure you receive your deposit in full or as much as possible. Keep this 6-step essential checklist handy, refer to it to ensure a smooth move-out.

Give Written Notice

Handover a written notice to your landlord informing him of your intention to move out. The notice must be given well in advance, before the final termination date of your lease. The period of notification differs as per the terms and the duration of your lease, it can sometimes be required as much as 3 months in advance. Check your lease to stay updated on this clause. If your landlord or caregiver is available in the same premises, hand deliver the notice and get them to sign a letter confirming the receipt of the same. Another good option is to mail it with an extra copy, which can be requested to be signed and sent back, to be maintained for your records.

Book a professional

Either book a moving company or rent a moving truck. It is important to do this way ahead of time so that there is no last minute panic. If you are moving in summer, when the majority of leases end, or when the school year ends, you will have to compete with the extra crowd to book a professional. So plan in advance. It will be a major relief on the move day. If there is a gap between your move-in day and your move out day, book a storage unit to keep your belongings safe and ready to move when the day arrives.

Submit the new address

Giving a couple of weeks prior notice of your new address will erase or at the very least reduce any lag in service. Make sure you transfer your mail to your new address by visiting the local post office in your area. This can also be done online. Also notify banks, credit card companies and your landlord of the change in address and don’t wait until the very last minute to do this. Preparing in advance relieves some of the stress of the move. Also,  you may want to get in touch with the utility companies well in advance for the transfer of services if you are moving locally.

Pack

Before you move out, start packing non-essentials weeks in advance. Starting the packing early can provide enough buffer to go through items and see if you really need them, also to make a list and label them appropriately. Give away or throw away items that are no longer needed. You can use this time to declutter your life. Wrap your fragile items in bubble wrap and keep your cleaning supplies out as you would need them especially if you are hoping to get some of your deposit back.

Clean

It comes last on your priority list but is the most essential step, if you don’t want to put in the work hire a professional window cleaner, roof cleaners or even hire them to clean the entire apartment. This is one point that the landlord will bring up while returning your deposit. If you’ve done no damage to the apartment, it just needs a thorough cleaning to get your entire sum back. Turn on a cleanup playlist and get down and dirty. Do this way in advance, to avoid last minute stress. Here’s our handy list.

  •         Take out any nails and screws you have nailed in and fill holes with putty.
  •         Wipe down light switches, doors, windows and walls of any dirt or smudges. Do this step thoroughly
  •         Vacuum, mop, and dust all rooms and living areas. Remove any carpet stains that may have been ignored over the months.
  •         Mop and Vacuum all floor, and clean carpets well. Do this for all the rooms with special consideration for high traffic areas.
  •         Bath
  •         Clean down the tub, sink and remove all your toiletries from the area.
  •         Remove any liners used for cabinets and otherwise and check for hair or other grime. Clean it out.
  •         Clean the pot, mirror, and all other surfaces.
  •         Keep sweeping/vacuuming and mopping as the last step.
  •         Kitchen
  •         Clean out all cabinets and drawers for residual grime and gunk
  •         Clean the refrigerator, remove the shelves and give it a thorough wipe down.
  •         Scrub the oven and stove, also clean the burner, drip pan, and other attachments.
  •         Wipe down all cabinet door, counters, and other surfaces.
  •         Clean the sink and de-clog it.

Say Goodbye

And lastly bid adieu and hand over the keys to your landlord after you do a walk through or inspection with him or her. For additional safety take pictures of the apartment once vacant as further proof if needed. Be sure to ask the date you will receive your deposit back and mark it in the calendar and do a follow-up a week prior.

Now, for some of you, the reason to move out may be because you have bought your own house and are finally ready to start your life in it; setting it up is as essential as this move – getting home security systems, setting up a trust to gain tax exemptions are some of the initial steps you need to take when moving to a new house. Home security systems will ensure the safety of the house. And getting a trust lawyer can ensure your house is well protected and is passed on to your successor after your demise without any complications.

Pinterest Vs Reality Interiors

You’ve bought your house or are re-doing it, you’ve agreed on a budget; The next step is to agree on a theme for your interiors. You open the browser and type in ‘www.pinterest.com’ the haven of décor and DIY ideas. You browse through a multitude of images, numerous themes before creating a board of the look you want for your home. You’ve seen the images and decide, this is the look you will achieve. A picture says a thousand words, while this is true. The story behind the picture is often silent. While you see a well put together look on Pinterest and think, well this is easy; the reality of the picture is completely different. You don’t see the rigorous sourcing, the professional help, the haggling with contractors, the stretching of budgets and many such upheavals that come along with the task of doing up the interiors of your house. We are here to show you the other side of the picture, what does it really take to create a Pinterest-alike house? Let’s find out.

PAINTS

While the shade/swatch card is a great start, the reality of the colour will only show once it is on your wall. The card does come close but ultimately lighting, the whitewash quality and other factors weigh in on the final outcome. The easy way is to narrow down on 3 to 5 colours, buy a quart of each and test it on your wall. This is not convenient but in the long run, will save you from picking the wrong colour; for more of such tips click on the guide by HGTV to pick the right paint.

KITCHEN BENCH TOPS

When it comes to kitchen benchtops, the choices are aplenty. Marble, Granite, Quartz, Stainless Steel, Laminates, Butcher Block, Solid Surface and many more. These are the popular choices amongst homeowners. Each comes with a set of benefits and drawbacks. Which one to opt for will depend on the factor around which the decision is based, for instance, style, dependability, availability etc and as it always does, it finally comes down to the cost. Let’s quickly give you an overview of each. Marble while sturdy is high on maintenance as it easily stains and gets scratches, to know more about do and don’t for marble countertops click here. Granite comes in on top when one thinks of counter tops, it has a great finish and unlike marble is not high on maintenance. It’s a good starting point, to know more about the pro and cons click here. Quartz is an easy-fix alternative to granite and marble, albeit expensive, it doesn’t need sealing or regular maintenance like other stones, to know more click here. A stainless steel is once again a good option, which is super durable but avoiding scratches and smears is difficult, the pros and cons are weighed here. These are the popular choices; other choices for kitchen countertops and its pros and cons are listed in this article by Popular Mechanics

FLOORING

Flooring, once again the choices are baffling, narrowing down on a choice of flooring can seem like a daunting task. Once again you have to take into account, what is it that you want to go for – style, durability, ease of maintenance etc. Carpets, Tiles, Hard Wood, Cork and Wood-Look Laminates are popular choices. Keep in mind to research the dos and don’t of flooring before you make a choice. Talk to friends who have recently renovated their houses, call your parents or simply go to a trusted interior decorator to get professional advice. To summarize, go for hardwood or wood look laminates for the style. For durability look at concrete flooring. If you have babies or toddlers who spend a lot of their time on the floor, go for the environmentally friendly option of Cork flooring.

CABINETS

Cabinets are vital to defining character and structure for your kitchen, while other structural components make take precedence over cabinets, it still is an integral part as it covers more than a quarter of your total kitchen space. Functionality trumps style when it comes to picking out cabinets. Architizer helps you pick the right material for cabinets based on the style and functionalities you are looking at.

BEDROOM ESSENTIALS

Pinterest perfect bedrooms don’t happen just like that. It takes meticulous planning and organization, there are many factors at play – such as the flooring, the wall colours, the lighting, the furniture and finally the décor items. When it comes to picking the right wardrobe/cupboard for your bedroom, we have a 4-step guide to make the choice a tad bit easier. Getting the essentials – bed and headboard are crucial, here’s a guide to help you make the right choice. Once the basics are taken care of, you can move on to the aesthetics, Elle Decor shares 25 décor tips for the bedroom.

UPHOLSTERY’

It may not seem like it but the cost of the chair and other upholstery can be significant, and the choice isn’t easy. There are tons of material and patterns to choose from. Picking a material that can be easily cleaned and maintained is essential. When it comes to patterns it can make or break the look and feel of a room. It’s essential to weigh the pros and cons while picking the right upholstery for your home, this upholstery 101 article makes the journey easier.

BATHROOM ESSENTIALS

Function and feel need to go hand in hand while designing or remodelling your bathroom. The layout is of foremost importance and should take precedence over décor. Once the foundation is laid out right, move on to the fixtures. This is one place you don’t want to skim out on. Picking quality fixtures can save repair costs in the future. Lastly, pick a theme and get décor items to achieve the look and feel without compromising on utility. This do’s and don’t list will come in handy when undertaking this task.

Pinterest pictures are perfection, your house can be too. Research is the key. Finding a trusted interior decorator can help make the journey a lot smoother. If you are on a budget, finding inspiration online and diligent planning can help you achieve your vision. Equipped with the information mentioned above, you will make your Pinterest dream board a reality.

How To Create A Serene Space In Your Home

If you are thinking about updating your garden so that you have a place where you can relax and unwind then you have come to the right place. We will provide you with some tips and ideas on how to create a calm garden which will become a serene space for you to relax in whilst at home.

To Begin With…

Before you do anything, you need to consider your budget and the space that you have in order to create a garden which will work for you:

  • The Terrain

What is you space like? Is it hilly? Does it have a slope? Is it flat? Is it largely soil or grass? You need to consider these aspects so that you can work with them in order to create a place of serenity.

  • Size

An important aspect is the size of space that you have. If you don’t live alone then you need to factor in which part of the garden you will use to create your serene space. How will you separate this from the rest of the garden? You could use fences, benches, plants etc.

  • The View

Take a look at the view you have from your garden. How will you incorporate this into your design? If you have a nice view such as a set of trees you may want to leave the view as it is. If, however you don’t have much of a view then you could add a bamboo fence to hide the view i.e. if you can see your next-door neighbours dustbins or a row of garden sheds this is a view that’s distracting and far from serene.

Inspiration from Around the World

An aspect that you need to think about is how to create a place where you can feel relaxed and rest in with seclusion. You need to think of your garden as an extension of your home. You want to create a room outdoors which evokes feeling of peace and comfort and not a room which conjures up the opposite image e.g. a room which is messy cluttered and has

carpet water damage or ripped wallpaper. To create this idealistic outdoor room, it is worth taking inspiration from gardens from around the world. For example:

  • Chinese Gardens

A Chinese garden could include a pagoda, a pond and small bridges as well as pathways and trees that hang over.

  • Japanese Gardens

Japanese gardens tend to be minimalistic in terms of their geometry. You could consider adding Japanese maple or cherry blossom trees and aspects related to Zen philosophy. Finally, think about patterns which include sand or small gravel.

  • North American Gardens

This kind of garden would include lots of wooden aspects such as oak, birch and fir trees which produce a multitude of colours in the Autumn season. You’d also need to add lots of aspects which suit birds for feeding such as plants and stands.

The Surfaces

A very important aspect of this type of garden is the surfaces. You need to create surfaces that you can relax in, walk on, lie in and sit on where you are comfortable. The things to consider are:

  • Soft Surfaces: You need to create these from grass or lawn. If you have the time then use growing grass. If on the other hand time is of the essence you may need an instant lawn laying down instead. Always remember to factor in lawn maintenance as part of the general upkeep of your serene space in the long run.
  • Mosaic: if you are looking to splash out and have the time on your hands then mosaics can be a wonderful feature in a garden. Mosaics are a great way of adding a personal touch as you can create a pattern that appeals or means something to you.
  • Other Options: if you want to go for different kinds of surfaces then you could

consider brick, pebbles stones, gravel, slate, garden bark or wood.

Features

In order to make your garden a serene space you need to consider adding items which will enhance this feeling. Some examples are:

  • Water Features

We all know that water brings calm and helps us to feel relaxed regardless of whether the water is still or whether it is moving. In order to add a water related element to your garden you could consider a fountain, a pond, a water bowl or a feature which trickles water.

  • Statues

When it comes to choosing a statue, you need to choose something that creates a sense of serenity and space to you for example a statue of Buddha. This only works however if you take something from the statue that you choose and it does create a feeling of relaxation for you.

  • Blank Spaces

These are areas in your garden that are empty and don’t need to have anything in them and therefore are naturally relaxing.

Plants

If you pick the right plants you will create an outside space which becomes that serene retreat that you are looking for. if you’re not green fingered then you may need to seek some advice of an expert in this area. We will however provide you with a few ideas to think about. For instance, whether you chose to pick plants that would suit an English cottage or you prefer to go for a minimalistic look, you have to pick the plants that make you feel comfortable and relaxed. Consider plants which are tropical or even native, herbal, scented or flower. Think about the shapes, patterns and lines that the plants make and the colours that they create.

Once you have factored in all of these elements in to your new space, you will soon begin to see it take shape and you will be left with that serene space in your home that you can head to at the end of a long, hard day to relax and unwind.

How To Keep Your Home Safe And Secure

We all know that we have to shut our windows, lock our doors and check before we open the door to someone, but what other aspects should we take into account in order to make our homes safe and secure? We will provide you with some advice on how you can make your home even more secure in order to protect your home and yourself from burglary.

Front Door

The front door on your property is very important. You need to have either a steel or a solid wood front door and avoid lightweight doors. To ensure that no one can kick your door open, you can purchase a 4-screw deadbolt strike plate. Screws need to be 3 inches long to ensure that the plate is attached properly to the frame on the door.  Many burglaries tend to take place in the day when people are away from the home at work. Homes that are dark on an evening are also targeted by burglars, so it is worth setting up a system so that lights, a radio or the TV automatically switches on and burglars are fooled into thinking somebody is home.

Sliding Glass Doors and Windows

It is possible to lift some sliding windows and doors off their tracks and these therefore need some form of additional protection. In the track, it is worth placing a heavy shower curtain rod so that burglars are unable to slide the door or window open even if they manage to get past the lock. Another option would be to put in a window sensor alarm. If a window in your home has been opened you will be notified by text or email. You will then be able to get access to a video feed at the location or respond by switching on some lights.

Warning Signs

Burglars want an easy target and won’t want to enter a property where there may be a dog. You may not even have a dog but it is still worth having a ‘beware of the dog’ sign placed in your garden. To take this a step further you could place a dog bowl near a door or install fake security cameras to scare away any burglars.

If you choose to install residential security systems such as an alarm then make sure you have signs on display to show this. If you don’t want to pay a fee each month that’s attached to some burglar alarms in your Wellington home, then you could buy a security sign and display it anyway.

Light

Ensure that the outside of your property is well lit as this will discourage burglars from your home. Install motion sensing lights at doorways and entrances, set external lights on timers or turn a selection of lights off and on remotely using your mobile phone.

Inside your home, place light timers near windows but make sure that you close any curtains so that burglars cannot see these. Make sure that you use these light timers every day and not just when you are away on vacation for instance.

Vacations

Vacations should be a time to switch off and take your mind off everyday stress, the last thing you want to be thinking about is if your home is safe whilst you are away. Burglars try and spot any signs that indicate a homeowner maybe on vacation i.e. flyers which are laid at the front door. If you are away for more than a few days then it’s worth putting a temporary stop of anything that delivered regularly i.e. newspapers, perhaps arrange for a friend or neighbour to collect your mail and see if someone can deal with your rubbish on collection day.

Avoid announcing your vacation on social media and don’t post any pictures whilst you are away. Addresses can be easy to locate online so you don’t want to give any burglars information about your home being empty. If you really want to post pictures on social media, then do it once you are back home.

Valuables

You need to be clever when it comes to disguising any valuables. Purchase blackout blinds which you need to keep closed as you don’t want to display all the amazing stuff that you have inside of your home.

If a burglar manages to get inside your property, it’s likely that he will go for those valuable items that are easy to get a hold of and take. Its known than burglars always check medicine cabinets, bedside tables and dresser drawers. So, don’t keep valuables in these places.

Look Around

In order to keep your home and yourself safe you need to be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye open for any changes in your area. Look out for new people that maybe driving or walking around in your neighbourhood. If you are mindful of your surroundings, you are more likely to spot anything that seems unusual and out of the ordinary.

Minor Security Improvements

Pre-purchase building inspections in Wellington have been done but before you get any closer to moving into a new property make sure that you take a good look at the entrance, locks, lights and the fire escapes. Ensure that locks on the windows work and existing locks need to be re-keyed. If you consider how many people have had access to the property in the past e.g. past tenants, a window cleaning company, handymen etc who may still have a key to your new property. Make sure that the front door has a deadbolt lock and it also has a chain lock if it doesn’t have one already. If you choose to have a safe to store valuables, then make sure that it has been bolted to a floor or a wall so that a burglar cannot just pick it up and carry it away with them.

Be sure to take this advice into account to make sure that you keep your home as safe and secure as possible.

Sort to save waste, cash

We don’t even have to give up on stuff that’s going in the bin. Switch the skip for one from recycling specialist Green Gorilla. This firm will sort and recycle up to 75 per cent of skip contents. The costs are the same, if not cheaper, than a standard skip.

Does ‘green building’ pay back?

“Good solar design and insulation reduces the amount of energy required for space heating so you can go for smaller and more cost-effective heat pump options. This in turn informs the adequate size of solar system for your home, which will then pay back within a reasonable period.”

Beyond that there are undeniable health and peace of mind benefits in using “eco-friendly” non-toxic materials and less impactful methods of building. Selecting those means putting other elements in your cost/benefit analysis than simple dollar signs.

Why Smaller Homes Are The Future

All of us dream of owning a house, a place to return to and unwind from the day’s work. Now, when you think of a house, generally a spacious, mammoth structure comes to mind. Equipped with four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a guest room, entertainment room and a garage by the side. What we fail to see is the huge mortgage, the high energy bills, laborious cleaning and last of all, a major environmental impact that comes with it. Recently a lot of families have realized these shortcomings and are opting for smaller houses. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to own a big house, there are certain benefits that smaller houses bring that the big structures simply cannot compete with. To make our case, we are listing top 10 reasons, why you should opt for small houses.

  1. Less Expensive: It goes without saying, the smaller the place, the bigger the savings. Small houses come with lower expenses in all aspects of home maintenance. Lower power bills, lower insurance, lower taxes, lower heating and cooling bills and lastly, if you are renting a house, low residential security deposit. This blog post further elaborates the savings that come with a smaller house.
  2. Home Security System: You put your sweat and blood and sometimes tears into your new home, it is but natural you would want to secure it with the best residential security there is. Now the benefit of smaller houses is that you don’t have to splurge on security, as the area to cover your bases is small hence the total cost of installing a home security system reduces automatically. There are key things you should remember while going for a home security system, this article sheds further light on this topic.
  3. Lower Carbon Footprint: We all know our planet is in dire need of conservation of its precious resources. Also, pollution is on a rise and so is global warming. In such circumstances, a smaller house reduces your carbon footprint significantly. Small houses consume less energy. When it comes to architectural expenses, lesser raw resources go into building it; hence it great for your ecological footprint!
  4. Less Cleaning and Maintenance Required: Smaller houses require less cleaning effort and in turn less maintenance. Since space is smaller you have smaller area-base to cover. Seasonal maintenance practices such as roof cleaning, gutter cleaning, checking insulation, weatherproofing all consume lesser time. If you employ gutter cleaning services or professional interior and exterior cleaners, the cost is lowered as they charge you based on time and the area they have to cover. Since the space is smaller, so is the bill. This article explores ways to clean and maintain smaller spaces.
  5. Up and coming neighbourhoods: Most densely populated cities have ‘hot’ neighbourhoods with smaller row houses, so as to accommodate its growing number of residents. Smaller houses eliminate certain costs such as – laundry room, pantry and gym room as these amenities are easily available in the form of public laundry rooms, corner markets and gyms just a few blocks away if centrally located. This can be a major plus in saving money as well as space.
  6. Remodelling, Repairs and Decorating Costs: As smaller houses have limited space, so does the opportunity for decorating, remodelling and repair costs. The more rooms you have the larger the expensive in doing them up. Smaller houses have lesser room hence require lesser furniture, paint, home décor items, etc. This way you end up saving a lot more money than you would be doing up a big house. This article explores best ways to decorate and make the most of smaller spaces.There is one more by Country Living on how to maximise space in smaller living quarters.
  7. Minimalism: Smaller house gives you the chance to declutter. Small spaces force you to take in only the essentials hence giving up the excess. In a consumerism driven society, this can be a boon when it comes to mental health. Also, leading a minimalistic lifestyle by default comes with lower living costs as your utility and consumption of energy and resources goes down.
  8. Encourages Family Bonding: Since the family is forced to use smaller space, the social interaction between members increases. Close quarters present an opportunity for more quality time.
  9. Lesser Debt and Risk: If you go online and search for ‘New House Calculator’, a dozen of links will show up. These help you calculate the percent of mortgage one should pay on a house. It is calculated based on your annual income, savings, current debt and current mortgage. Most sites will advise you to spend 28% of your net income on monthly mortgage instalments. But purchasing a smaller house can bring that percent down to as low as 15%, this significantly frees up your assets, which can be used for the education of your kids, travel and other important everyday expenses. Bankrate and Zillow help you calculate how much house can you afford.
  10. Lower Property Tax: Smaller houses come with lower property tax. For instance, in New Zealand, one would end up paying around $508 as property tax on a large house per quarter, whereas a smaller house will bring down the amount to around $380 per quarter. This gives you leeway to invest that sum in repairs or other household expenses.

As you can see, small houses come with a host of benefits, apart from personal gain, they have a significant impact on the environment. They give you more leeway to invest in other avenues such as travel, education etc. It also allows for more freedom and better familial bonding. A house is more than just a brick and mortar structure, it is where you spend most of your time, resources and energy. A smaller house lowers usage of all three. Going for a smaller house depends on a lot of factors– income, the willingness of the family members, creativity and perseverance. Once all these factors are aligned opting for a smaller house is definitely worth it. It can be a liberating experience not only financially, but also mentally.