Is your front entryway ready for Halloween visitors? Keep everything fun and accident-free with these seven safety tips.
Everyone loves a good scare on Halloween — as long as it’s just a trick.
To help you avoid any real-life scares — such as falls, fires, and traffic accidents — around your property this All Hallows Eve, play it safe while you’re setting up your Halloween lightsand decorations.
Here are seven simple precautions recommended by John Pettibone, curator of Hammond Castle, a Gloucester, Mass., mansion that draws thousands to its renowned 20-room haunted house every Halloween season.
1. Light the Scene
Providing plenty of illumination ensures that your visitors can see where they’re walking, helping to avoid missteps and falls. Pettibone suggests using the highest wattage bulbs youroutdoor lighting fixtures can safely take (check the label on the socket), and adding landscape lights every few feet along your front walk.
“We use the solar-powered kind because there’s no wiring needed,” he says. “Just push them into the ground, let them soak up the sun during the day, and they’ll light up the walk after dark.”
2. Secure the Footing
Clear your walk, steps, and stoop of any obstructions that could trip youngsters focused more on tricks and treats than watching where they’re going. That means moving potted mums and jack o’lanterns out of the way, and hammering down any nail heads protruding out of your steps.
If you have a concrete stoop, which can get slippery when wet, apply friction tape ($16 for a 60-foot roll of 1-inch-wide tape) to ensure stable footing, says Pettibone. He also stocks up on chemical ice melt ($20 for a 50-lb. bag) just in case of an early freeze.
3. Tighten the Railings
If your porch railings are wobbly or broken, family members and friends may know not to lean too heavily on them, but Halloween visitors won’t. So hire a contractor or handyman to fix the problem. It’ll make your home safer for guests all year round. Because more strangers come to your front door this night than the rest of the year combined, now is the time to take care of it.
4. Eliminate Fire Hazards
Don’t put real candles into your carved pumpkins or paper lanterns. “That’s a fire waiting to happen,” says Pettibone. Instead, pick up a bulk pack of LED-bulb faux candles, which emit a yellowish, flickering, battery-powered light that looks amazingly similar to the real thing — without the danger.
5. Secure your Property
To prevent burglaries and Halloween pranks — especially on mischief night the previous evening — make sure to keep all windows and doors (other than your main door) locked shut.
You might have an electrician add motion-sensor lights around your property, so anyone who walks down your driveway or around into the backyard will be discouraged from intruding any farther.
6. Set the Scene
In addition to spooky items like cotton cobwebs and half-buried skeletons, consider a few safety-related scene-setters. Pettibone suggests propping open the screen or storm door so it doesn’t get in the way when there’s a big group of kids congregated on your stoop. “We use yellow caution tape to tie open the door,” he says. “You can order it online and it works well with the Halloween theme.” A 1,000-ft. roll of 3-inch-wide caution tape is about $8.
You’ll also want a working doorbell, so if yours is broken, either hire an electrician or handyman to fix it — or install a wireless doorbell in its place.
7. Enhance Street Safety
Four times as many child pedestrians get killed on Halloween night than a normal night. So limit the danger as much as you can by clearing parked cars off the curb to allow better visibility and placing a reflective “watch for children sign” at the edge of the road. For for high-traffic roads in Halloween-intensive neighborhoods, consider posting an adult in the street with a hand-held traffic control light to help maintain safety.
Article From HouseLogic.com By: Pat Curry
Published: February 18, 2011
Here are eight ways to help your home put its best face forward.
Homes with high curb appeal command higher prices and take less time to sell. We’re not talking about replacing vinyl siding with redwood siding; we’re talking about maintenance and beautifying tasks you’d like to live with anyway.
The way your house looks from the street–attractively landscaped and well-maintained–can add thousands to its value and cut the time it takes to sell. But which projects pump up curb appeal (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/landscaping-gardening/landscaping-curb-appeal/) most? Some spit and polish goes a long way, and so does a dose of color.
Tip #1: Wash your house’s face
Before you scrape any paint or plant more azaleas, wash the dirt, mildew, and general grunge off the outside of your house. REALTORS® say washing a house can add $10,000 to $15,000 to the sale prices of some houses.
A bucket of soapy water and a long-handled, soft-bristled brush can remove the dust and dirt that have splashed onto your wood, vinyl, metal, stucco, brick, and fiber cement siding (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/clean-and-care-siding/). Power washers (rental: $75 per day) can reveal the true color of your flagstone walkways.
Wash your windows inside and out, swipe cobwebs from eaves, and hose down downspouts. Don’t forget your garage door, (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/garages/garage-doors-guide-options/) which was once bright white. If you can’t spray off the dirt, scrub it off with a solution of 1/2 cup trisodium phosphate-TSP, available at grocery stores, hardware stores, and home improvement centers-dissolved in 1 gallon of water.
You and a friend can make your house sparkle in a few weekends. A professional cleaning crew will cost hundreds–depending on the size of the house and number of windows–but will finish in a couple of days.
Tip #2: Freshen the paint job
The most commonly offered curb appeal advice from real estate pros and appraisers is to give the exterior of your home a good paint job (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/10-steps-perfect-exterior-paint-job/). Buyers will instantly notice it, and appraisers will value it.? ?Of course, painting is an expensive and time-consuming facelift. To paint a 3,000-square-foot home, figure on spending $375 to $600 on paint; $1,500 to $3,000 on labor.
Your best bet is to match the paint you already have: Scrape off a little and ask your local paint store to match it. Resist the urge to make a statement with color. An appraiser will mark down the value of a house that’s painted a wildly different color from its competition.
Tip #3: Regard the roof
The condition of your roof (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/home-thoughts/inspecting-and-maintaining-your-roof/) is one of the first things buyers notice and appraisers assess. Missing, curled, or faded shingles add nothing to the look or value of your house. If your neighbors have maintained or replaced their roofs, yours will look especially shabby.
You can pay for roof repairs now, or pay for them later in a lower appraisal; appraisers will mark down the value by the cost of the repair. According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2011-2012 Cost vs. Value Report (http://www.remodeling.hw.net/2011/costvsvalue/national.aspx), the average cost of a new asphalt shingle roof is about $21,200.
Some tired roofs look a lot better after you remove 25 years of dirt, moss, lichens, and algae. Don’t try cleaning your roof yourself: call a professional with the right tools and technique to clean it without damaging it. A 2,000 sq. ft. roof will take a day and $400 to $600 to clean professionally.
Tip #4: Neaten the yard
A well-manicured lawn (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/lawns/lawn-maintenance-calendar/), fresh mulch, and pruned shrubs boost the curb appeal of any home.
Replace overgrown bushes with leafy plants and colorful annuals. Surround bushes and trees with dark or reddish-brown bark mulch, which gives a rich feel to the yard. Put a crisp edge on garden beds, pull weeds and invasive vines, and plant a few geraniums in pots.
Green up your grass with lawn food and water. Cover bare spots with seeds and sod, get rid of crab grass, and mow regularly.
Tip #5: Add a color splash
Even a little color attracts and pleases the eye of would-be buyers.
Plant a tulip border in the fall that will bloom in the spring. Dig a flowerbed by the mailbox and plant some pansies. Place a brightly colored bench or Adirondack chair on the front porch. Get a little daring, and paint the front door red or blue.
These colorful touches won’t add to the value of our house: appraisers don’t give you extra points for a blue bench. But beautiful colors enhance curb appeal and help your house to sell faster.
Tip #6: Glam your mailbox
An upscale mailbox, architectural house numbers, or address plaques can make your house stand out.
High-style die cast aluminum mailboxes range from $100 to $350. You can pick up a handsome, hand-painted mailbox for about $50. If you don’t buy new, at least give your old mailbox a facelift with paint and new house numbers.
These days, your local home improvement center or hardware stores has an impressive selection of decorative numbers. Architectural address plaques, which you tack to the house or plant in the yard, typically range from $80 to $200. Brass house numbers range from $3 to $11 each, depending on size and style.
Tip #7: Fence yourself in
A picket fence (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/fences/fencing-guide-options/) with a garden gate to frame the yard is an asset. Not only does it add visual punch to your property, appraisers will give extra value to a fence in good condition, although it has more impact in a family-oriented neighborhood than an upscale retirement community.
Expect to pay $2,000 to $3,500 for a professionally installed gated picket fence 3 feet high and 100 feet long.
If you already have a fence, make sure it’s clean and in good condition. Replace broken gates and tighten loose latches.
Tip #8: Maintenance is a must
Nothing looks worse from the curb–and sets off subconscious alarms–like hanging gutters (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/roofing-gutters-siding/replacing-rain-gutters-and-downspouts/), missing bricks from the front steps, or peeling paint. Not only can these deferred maintenance items damage your home, but they can decrease the value of your house by 10%.
Here are some maintenance chores that will dramatically help the look of your house.
•Refasten sagging gutters.
•Repoint bricks that have lost their mortar.
•Reseal cracked asphalt.
•Replace cracked windows.
Fax: 419 891-1092
VM: 419-897-2700 ext. 215
Visit Tadd’s website, by going to wellesbowen.taddkeiser.com
By: Andrea Nordstrom Caughey Published: March 18, 2010
A broad selection of patio pavers accompanies increased demand for outdoor living spaces.
That variety is driven by considerable consumer demand. A 2009 Outdoor Living Trend Report by Researchandmarkets.com says that sales of outdoor living products accounted for more than 5% of all purchases at Lowe’s home improvement centers, and a whopping 29% of sales—about $2.1 billion–at Home Depot.
And there’s value to be had in a patio, too. Mack Strickland of Strickland Appraisal Services, Inc., in Chester, Va., pegs patio recovery costs at anywhere from 30% to 60%, depending on the region of the country and material choices.
Getting on base
Choosing patio paving materials begins with a decision about what kind of base to install. The base—the material that supports the pavers—must be firm, strong, and designed to stand up to years of foot traffic and weather.
The options include, sand, gravel, and concrete. Sand and gravel perform equally well, and cost about the same to install. Both sand and gravel bases are relatively easy do-it-yourself projects.
Both sand and gravel bases feature “dry set” paver installations—the paving materials are set in place, and then fine sand is swept into the joints between the materials to secure them. Every two or three years, fresh sand must be swept into the joints to replace sand that’s settled out, and pavers that have become loose must be reset. Expect to pay $2 to $3 per sq. ft. for a DIY job, and $3 to $5 per sq. ft. for a professional installation of the base alone.
A concrete base offers greater longevity and stability, with less potential for settling. On a concrete base, the paving materials are set permanently with mortar, and ongoing maintenance is minimal. Expect to pay $5 to $8 per sq. ft. for a professionally installed concrete base.
Brick pavers offer warmth and the possibility of intricate patterns. Thinner than typical “builder bricks” used on home siding, they’re formulated to hold up under heavy foot traffic. Brick pavers come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and finishes, and can look old or new. Because they’re often smaller than other paver sizes, installation costs can be higher. Depending on budget, they can be installed in sand, granite, or over concrete.
Brick pavers: $14 to $20 per sq. ft., professionally installed.
Concrete is now available in numerous finishes (brushed, acid washed, scored, and stamped) and many hues. Its long lifespan and relatively inexpensive installation make it a popular choice. “For colder climates, consider adding $1 to $2 per sq. ft. for a specialized base preparation and concrete additive,” says Chris Fenmore, principal with Garden Studio Landscape Design.
Stamped concrete can add a pattern to your patio, simulating slate, brick, or stone, but also adds an additional installation expense of $1.50 to $2 per sq. ft. and can be prone to cracking. Concrete can also be scored to create patterns or borders.
Concrete: $6 to $12 per sq. ft., depending on finish and color.
Concrete pavers come in countless shapes and sizes, and can be fashioned to look like real stone. Unlike other materials, the concrete is molded, not cut, making them more cost effective, uniform, and stronger than many natural paver varieties. They’re readily available at home improvement centers and are well-suited to DIY patio projects.
Interlocking pavers, a variation of concrete pavers, have gained popularity in recent years for their relative affordability, minimal maintenance, and quick installation.
Concrete pavers: $13 to $20 per sq. ft.
Interlocking pavers: $15 to $20 per sq. ft., $20 to $35 installed.
Stone, slate, & marble
Although almost any stone can work as a paver, cost and practicality typically focus on sandstone, limestone, slate, and granite. The materials you select can be especially cost-efficient if they come from locally operated quarries; check your local stone supplier before looking at national home improvement chains. Avoid coating stones with sealers that will peel or chip over time.
Sandstone, slate, granite: $17 to $28 per sq. ft., professionally installed
Decomposed granite and pebble surfaces
Decomposed granite is comprised of very small pieces of granite, ranging in size from ¼-inch to the consistency of sand. Although an affordable option, decomposed granite patios may need to be replenished periodically as the surface can erode with time, presenting higher maintenance costs. This application may be a poor choice in climates with lots of rain and snow.
“Budget $1 per sq. ft. for maintenance costs every two to three years,” suggests David McCullough, landscape architect and ASLA board member. Also, decomposed granite isn’t solid and furniture legs may sink into the surface. Adding stabilizers that help bind particles together can strengthen the surface.
Decomposed granite and pebble surfaces: $1.50 per sq. ft. without stabilizers, $2 with stabilizers
Recycling hardscape materials, such as cast-off concrete sections from a neighbor’s old driveway or sidewalk, is a cost-effective and eco-friendly alternative to new materials. Check nearby construction sites for old materials (and be sure to ask permission before hauling anything away).
Although the materials are usually free, you’ll need to enlist helpers and the use of a pick-up truck to transport everything to your patio site. Expect to save $500 to $800 on a standard 12×12-foot patio versus newly purchased pavers, and you’ll be building a one-of-a-kind creation. Look for materials that provide uniform thickness.
Combining different materials—such as brick and concrete, or stone and rock trim, can create an interesting and customized feel. “Too much hardscape can be tedious,” notes Southern California designer Chris Fenmore. “I often like to use four-inch troughs separating masonry from concrete that can be filled with gravel, beach rocks, or ground cover. They provide a bit of relief from the hardscape and nice detail, adding to the custom look of the yard.”
Keeping maintenance low
Most paving options, with the exception of decomposed granite or gravel, require little maintenance. The key is a solid foundation, installation experts say. A poorly built base can cause your patio to become uneven and the stones or concrete to crack. “If your backyard is especially uneven, it may be easier to add a few steps than to level everything out,” advises McCullough.
“Be sure your paving product can withstand weather conditions in your area,” notes S. Penny Triplett, a real estate and appraisal expert with Pissocra Mathias Realty in Ohio. Also, because some minimal cracking may occur over time, especially around paver joints, “consider purchasing 10% more of the product you install, including grouting in the chosen color, in case you need to make repairs,” says Fenmore.
Fax: 419 782-0989
VM: 419-782-0978 ext. 136