GARDENING FOR PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH

Gardening is one of the very few activities which engages all the senses and which can give a decent amount of exercise, the level of which can be varied to suit your physical condition.  These days, very few people have large gardens at home, but those who have a craving to tend them can often join volunteer groups which manage communal gardens.  These can be anything from designated areas in city parks to grounds in stately homes. 

These days, however, many people focus on gardening in smaller space.  These can be anything from a tiny outdoor space with proper soil, to a balcony or terrace or even a window box or hanging baskets.  If you can find a space for a container of soil and you can access the container for watering, then you can have a garden for beauty, for food or to help out the local wildlife (especially the bees).

Even if you can’t, you can still have a garden, just bring it into your home.  At the very least you can grow some of your favourite herbs for the kitchen.

Gardening for Physical Health 

While a lot of the conversation around gardening revolves around its (many) benefits for mental health, there’s a lot to be said for its benefits for physical health.  It’s also worth remembering that although good physical health does not guarantee good mental health, poor physical health can have a serious impact on your mental health.  With that in mind, here are some ways gardening can help your physical health.

PROVIDES GENTLE CARDIO

Many times gardening can be as intensive or gentle as you want it to be. If you want it to be intensive, go for manual tools. If you want it to be gentle, use power tools, get help and/or design your garden so that it requires minimal effort to maintain.

KEEPS YOU (FAIRLY) FLEXIBLE

Gardening encourages you to keep using a wide range of movement, e.g. bending, stretching and turning, but lets you do so at your own pace, instead of having to keep up with a class.

GETS YOU OUTDOORS

If you can do your gardening outdoors, then you can benefit from being out in the fresh air and daylight. The latter is a useful source of vitamin D, which scientists have recognized as providing a number of health benefits, including helping to maintain calcium levels. This becomes increasingly important as we age and our bones become more brittle.

CAN HELP YOU SLEEP BETTER

After you’ve spent some time working in the garden, you’ll have burned off quite a bit of energy and also destressed. This combination is about as good as it gets when it comes to getting some decent sleep and scientists agree.

CAN IMPROVE YOUR DIET

If you can grow your own food not only do you not have to worry about needing to buy it but you know exactly what it is and under what conditions it was grown. You also get the ultimate in freshness, you can literally pick what you need, prepare it as you wish and eat it.

Gardening for mental health

Gardening is recognized as offering a wide range of mental-health benefits.  Here are just a few of them.

HELPS TO REDUCE STRESS 

Gardeners themselves have long reported that gardening helps relieve their stress, but up until recently, there was nothing in the way of scientific evidence to back that up.  A recent study in the Netherlands, however, has finally provided experimental evidence to support the belief.

HELPS TO COMBAT LONELINESS 

There’s a strong link between loneliness and poor health and so anything which reduces feelings of loneliness, isolation and exclusion generally has a health benefit.  While communal gardening brings obvious socialization opportunities, even those who do their gardening by themselves increase their opportunities to chat with others, whether that’s over the fence or just going online to chat with other gardeners.  It may not be as good as real-world interaction, but it can be a whole lot better than nothing.

HELPS TO REDUCE THE RISK OF DEMENTIA 

Dementia is a very complicated disorder, but lifestyle is known to be a factor in it.  Any form of exercise appears to be beneficial and according to a study in Australia, gardening is particularly beneficial.

The three fundamentals of gardening 

There are three big differences between gardening and many other activities.  The first is that it is super-important to familiarize yourself with the exact conditions in your garden before you make any changes to it.  The second is that you may have very little control over the key factors which influence how your garden grows and the third is that gardening is a slow process.  Let’s have a look at what this means in practice.

GETTING TO KNOW YOUR GARDEN

There are many factors which will influence what you can do with your garden, the most important ones include: soil type (pH and level of drainage), local climate, orientation and nature of landscape, local rules and safety considerations and size.  Note how size is last on the list.

It’s important to go through this process even if you hate something about a garden (for example, you’ve taken it over from someone who had very different taste).  This will help reduce the likelihood of you going through a lot of work to make a change only to discover that there was actually a reason why the previous homeowner did what they did and you will have to come to an alternative solution. 

WORKING WITHIN YOUR GARDEN’S LIMITATIONS 

With regular outdoor gardening, there’s a distinct limit as to how much control you will have over the key variables listed above.  If you’ve set your heart on growing a plant which really isn’t intended for your local area, then it’s very likely that your only option would be to put it in a container and you might even have to create a special environment for it, such as a cold frame or greenhouse.

You could make a very strong case for arguing that, in some ways at least, indoor gardeners have more freedom of choice as they have a greater degree of control over the environment in which their plants grow.

LEARNING THE VALUE OF PATIENCE

A lot of gardening activities proceed at a slow pace.  While the likes of mustard and cress grow at the sort of rate which can be easily seen and understood by children, plants grown from seed generally often take the better part of a year to show any meaningful results and some plants can take several years to reach their full glory.

Getting the most from your garden

With all that said, most gardeners will be able to create a garden they love, even if it’s only a small one, as long as they’re prepared to work at it (and be patient).  Here are some tips.

GET ORGANIZED WITH A GARDEN PLANNER 

Garden planners are far more than gimmicks.  They are a great way to keep on top of everything to do with your garden.  You could argue that they’re essential for managing larger gardens, and/or gardens which are meant for productivity, and they can be very handy for indoor gardeners.  If nothing else, they can provide an easy reference for anyone who needs to take care of your plants if you go away for a while.  You can buy them in paper and digital versions.  The latter can be very handy as they can integrate with useful data sources, like weather sites, or you could just make your own.

DECIDE WHAT YOU PERSONALLY WANT FROM YOUR GARDEN

If you want an outdoor “living space”, then you’ll want to prioritize an open space, like a lawn, and you’ll probably want some garden furniture even if it’s only a (storage) bench and perhaps a table.  If you add a bit of shelter, such as a canopy, plus a garden heater, you could potentially enjoy your living space at least from early spring to late autumn and possibly even in winter as well.

If you want a kitchen garden, then prioritize foods which are expensive and/or hard-to-find and learn how to preserve them effectively and healthily so you can avoid having to buy out-of-season foods, which are imported from overseas.  This can help your wealth as much as your health.  It’s good for the environment too.

If you want a garden purely for beauty and relaxation, then try prioritizing plants which are native to the UK and, ideally, found in your local area.  These will not only have the best chance of success in your garden, but will also be non-invasive and are more likely to be appreciated by the local wildlife. 

Whatever kind of garden you want, you can create it with the environment in mind.  This can mean anything from choosing your plants with care to adding extra shelters for creatures in need, such as bee houses.

Think about your lifestyle now and in the future

Deciding what kind of garden you want is part one.  Part two is being honest about your lifestyle, or, perhaps it would be more accurate to say, how much time and effort you can and will put into maintaining it.  Here are some questions to ask.

Are you really going to mow a lawn or would astroturf be a better option?  It’s not as good for the environment but you could take other steps to compensate for that.

How do you feel about bending?  Would raised beds help to make your life easier?  You don’t have to use them for everything, but it might help to use them for some parts of your garden.

Do you really have plenty of time for weeding?  If not, you might want to use plenty of ground-cover plants to stifle weeds. 

KEEP SAFETY IN MIND 

This isn’t exactly the world’s most exciting tip, but it is important.  Make sure people and animals can get around your garden safely.  Even if you don’t have children or pets, your neighbours will and there will be local wildlife.  You could say that none of the above should be in your garden, but, even so, it’s good to be a good neighbour (and also makes life easier).

Think about walkways and lighting in the key areas.  Be very careful to ensure that water features are either raised well off the ground (e.g. fountains) or that there is an easy way to get out of them if a child or animal falls in.  Sloped edges and netting is the usual approach for “natural looking” ponds.  Steep edges are to be avoided at all costs, unless they are really high so they can’t be climbed.  In the unlikely event you have a swimming pool, keep it covered out of use.

THINK ABOUT YOUR GARDEN’S SECURITY 

As a minimum, you want to ensure that any tools are kept away from thieves and ideally you want to think about how your garden can actively contribute to your security.  For example, motion-sensitive lighting can make intruders visible (as well as guide visitors) and gravel can make an audible crunch when someone is approaching.

Create a garden for all seasons 

Gardens don’t have to look bare and sad in winter.  You can use foliage plants and decorations to brighten them up.  You can even get some winter-flowering plants.  Being nice to nature can help too.  Stick out a bird table (and maybe a squirrel feeder) and you can not just bring life to your garden (literally) but get all kinds of entertainment too and maybe get the chance to teach children about the importance of protecting wildlife. 

MAKE THE MOST OF THE VERTICAL SPACE

This is particularly true of smaller gardens.  In fact, in some cases, vertical space may be all you have.  Remember to keep weight in mind, you absolutely must avoid overloading support structures, especially walls!  Sometimes you can add strength by means of extra structures such as trellises, but again, be reasonable about this.

You can also use vertical space to create more visual interest, for example, by placing plants at different levels to force the eye to move around and hence create the impression of more space.  This can be useful even in larger gardens, for example if you have a long wall and want to make it look more interesting. 

THINK ABOUT HOW PLANTS WILL GROW

Check the expected size of your grown plant and work to that so everything stays in proportion over the long term.  Over the short term, you might want to use visual tricks to compensate for your plant’s small size, for example you could buy a garden ornament to fill in the space while it grows.

Keep trees and bushes well away from any buildings, especially ones you value (like your home).  Their roots can do horrendous damage to a property’s foundations and can lead to subsidence.  Additionally, falling leaves can lead to drainage issues which can also lead to subsidence.

Last but by no means least, some spreading plants are only really safe to grow in containers.  Put straight into soil they can quickly overpower every other plant in the garden and become a real nightmare to control.  You can avoid this by doing thorough research before you do your planting. 

REMEMBER A LOT OF INTERIOR-DESIGN TRICKS CAN WORK OUTDOORS TOO

There are lots of “interior design” tricks, which work perfectly well outdoors, especially in small gardens.  For example, you can add mirrors to make the space look bigger and turn necessities (such as containers) into decor.  You can also look for opportunities to “blend in” attractive features from outside your garden.  For example, if your garden has a view of a landmark, try to use your planting to “frame” it.

APPRECIATE THE IMPORTANCE OF SCENT 

Gardens used to be renowned for their scents, but for a while seed banks largely abandoned it in favour of showier blooms.  Possibly this was connected with the development of mail-order sales and the need to produce gardening catalogues which were visually appealing.  Rather ironically, the internet seems to have encouraged gardeners to move away from this.  

Even though the internet can’t (yet) capture scent, it doesn’t suffer from the same space restrictions as paper catalogues and so it’s easier to describe scents and easier to promote the importance of incorporating them into your garden.  There’s also been a move away from imported flowers and back to native ones, which, again, may have been helped by the internet promoting them (and their environmental significance).

IN SHORT – “A GARDEN IS A THING OF BEAUTY AND A JOB FOREVER.” RICHARD BRIERS

A gardener’s job is never done, even after they die, they’ll be “pushing up daisies” and that’s probably just how most gardeners would like it.  If you really want to maximize both your garden’s productivity and the pleasure you get from it, then try keeping accurate records of how your garden grows.  These can be anything from practical statistics (so you can see how your techniques worked in practice) to sentimental recollections, such as by keeping a journal or taking photographs to preserve your fondest memories of it.

Guest Contributor: poshh.co.uk

Katie Mills

Katie is the Editor here at Poshh Living and is a well-respected voice in the world of design and home improvement. Katie has a first-class Hons degree in Journalism and is proud to say that she has written many leading entries in the biggest media outlets including Ideal Home, and Good House Keeping. Lover of the great outdoors and mother of two, Katie is ‘down to earth’, knowledgable and a great asset to the team

HOW TO DEODORIZE A ROOM: 11 NATURAL REMEDIES TO BEAT FUNKY SMELLS

Are you getting hit with bad smells as soon as you walk through your door? Whether you’re a landlord getting your unit ready for new tenants or a renter looking to freshen up your space, learn how to deodorize a room naturally to stop unpleasant odors in their tracks. If your former renters were messy, smoked, or had pets, there’s a chance they’ve left behind some unappealing smells.

Natural deodorizers are perfect for freshening up your space, plus they’re a perfect eco-friendly apartment hack. Ensure that future tenants won’t turn up their nose at your listing and try out these natural remedies.

Table of Contents:

Essential Oils for Your Home and Mood

Essential oils are biodegradable and all-natural. Many also can contain antibacterial, antiseptic, antifungal, and antiviral properties that can help freshen your rentals. Plus, various scents can help boost your mood.

Several studies have indicated that smells can have a positive effect on humans and can even encourage certain emotions — this is where essential oils come into play. Here are some of our favorite essential oils with both cleaning and mood-boosting properties:

  • Lavender: Lavender essential oils can help fight bacteria, viruses, and fungus. The scent can also help promote relaxation and sleep, which makes it the perfect deodorizer for bedding or clothing.
  • Peppermint: Essential oils containing peppermint have antiseptic properties which makes it a great cleaning agent. Plus, peppermint is known to revitalize and stimulate your mood — perfect motivation when preparing and cleaning an apartment for new tenants.
  • Orange: Orange essential oil has both antiseptic and antibacterial properties and is also a great degreaser for any stains previous tenants might have left behind on stubborn surfaces like countertops and stoves. Orange also has a very uplifting and refreshing scent — great for relaxing.
  • Tea tree: Tea tree essential oil is an all-around great cleaner and contains a number of antibiotic compounds, including terpinen-4-ol, that have been shown to kill certain bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Its herbaceous scent is also said to curb depressed thoughts and boost mental clarity.

Essential oils are great to have in your home and are a non-toxic alternative to traditional chemical cleaners. They also work well to deodorize your home when combined with other ingredients, like baking soda. As a landlord, you’re responsible for making sure your rental is safe and welcoming for future tenants. Using all-natural essential oil cleaners can help send the message that you care about your property.

11 NATURAL RECIPES TO DEODORIZE A ROOM

We all deal with home odors from time to time, and luckily there are simple and easy recipes you can make with ingredients that are probably already in your pantry. As a landlord, freshening up a unit space is equally important in attracting potential renters. Use the following recipes, tips, and tricks below to ensure your unit is ready for new tenants.

1. DIY BASIC ROOM SPRAY 

Instead of purchasing an air freshener, create your own DIY room spray using your favorite essential oils. With this recipe, you’ll have an easy way to quickly freshen up any room:

Room spray recipe:

  • 2 to 3 drops essential oils: for a seasonal twist, choose cinnamon or peppermint
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • Distilled water

Mix the essential oils, water, and baking soda. Add mixture to a spray bottle and shake well to create the perfect freshening spray for your space. You can even get into the holiday spirit by using cinnamon or peppermint essential oils.

To help the smell linger, feel free to add some witch hazel — this ingredient helps the oil and water combine better! This remedy is also great for cleaning units before a new tenant moves in. 

2. EASY CARPET REFRESHER 

Is the carpet in your rental smelling a little less than fresh? If you’re in the process of deep cleaning and getting your unit ready to rent out, reach for that baking soda in your pantry. Baking soda is a great non-toxic cleaner that does the job when it comes to busting bad odors. Here’s a simple and cheap recipe for an easy carpet refresher:

Carpet refresher recipe: 

  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1 shaker container

Mix these ingredients and throw in a shaker container — a clean parmesan cheese container is ideal. Sprinkle into the carpet and let sit for about an hour or so. Then, vacuum it up. To make the space smell as if you just baked a batch of snickerdoodles, add some ground cinnamon to your mixture — with the holidays right around the corner, this is the perfect scent to welcome guests to an open house!

3. PET ODOR BUSTER

If a past tenant’s pet left behind stinky odors in your rental, make this recipe to spray on surfaces:

Fresh pet recipe:

  • 3 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol
  • 12 drops of lavender or spearmint essential oil
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 spray bottle

Mix these ingredients and spritz liberally on areas of your house that need some freshening up! Consider choosing essential oils from lavender or spearmint — these are safe for pets, however, it’s always a good idea to check with your veterinarian before using. 

Additionally, if your pet’s bedding requires some TLC, sprinkle it with some baking soda. Let this sit for a while and then vacuum.  

4. FRIDGE SMELL ELIMINATOR 

Did past tenants leave behind some odors in the fridge? If you get a funky whiff when you open the fridge, say goodbye with this natural remedy: 

Fridge deodorizer recipe: 

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 12 drops of essential oils
  • 1 jar

Place a cup of baking soda in a jar. Mix in 12 drops of your favorite essential oil fragrance — for the fridge we recommend using a citrus like lemon. Set the open jar of baking soda on a shelf and let the magic happen — baking soda is great for absorbing those bad fridge smells. Be careful not to add too much essential oil, though, you don’t want it to affect the taste of your fresh food. 

5. DE-MILDEW THE WASHING MACHINE

If previous renters have let gunk build-up in the washing machine, you might be looking for a solution to get rid of that mildew smell. Washers are a humid environment prone to a build-up of dirt, hair, and soap. To get rid of this problem, a simple mixture of common household products and essential oils should do the trick:

Washing machine cleaner recipe:

  • 3 to 4 cups of white vinegar
  • ½ cup of baking soda
  • 20 drops of essential oils

First, using vinegar, wipe down any debris that may be present, like in the rubber liner or gasket. Then, pour this mixture into the detergent tray and run a cycle on the hottest setting — without clothes! When the cycle is done, wipe down any remaining moisture with a cloth to prevent new mildew growth. To further prevent any funky smells, encourage the next tenant to leave the washer door open when they’re done to avoid trapping any moisture in the machine. 

6. MICROWAVE OVEN DEODORIZER

Bad smells from old soup stains, burnt popcorn, and other greasy foods aren’t ideal in the microwave. However, you can deodorize it just as fast as you can heat up today’s lunch: 

Microwave cleaner recipe: 

  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 microwave-safe bowl

All you need to do is fill a microwave-safe bowl with baking soda and mix with a cup of water. Place the bowl in the microwave and heat for three minutes. The hot baking soda steam will loosen up any grime stuck to the side or ceiling of the microwave. Carefully remove the hot bowl from the microwave and wipe down the steamy oven with a paper towel. To leave a fresh scent, wipe the microwave down with a drop or two of lemon-scented essential oil.

7. SEASONAL SIMMER POT AIR FRESHENER

As the holidays get closer and the weather gets colder, try a seasonal simmer pot air freshener. This long-lasting aroma will instantly create a homey and warm ambiance that you and any touring potential tenants will love. Try out this easy recipe, but feel free to mix and match your favorite seasonal ingredients for a unique scent:

Simmer pot recipe:

  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 bay leaf

Add all these items to a medium pot or a small slow cooker. Add water to fill about halfway. Turn the burner on to low and let this simmer all day. If you’re using a slow cooker, set on low and let it freshen the air. Periodically check the water level and add more as needed.

8. KEEP YOUR CLOSET CRISP

Closets are common culprits of stale smells as they’re often stuffed with piles of clothes, dirty laundry, and shoes. If you need to air out a closet from a previous tenant or you just want to keep the small space smelling fresh, use this simple scented sachets hack:

Scented sachet recipe:

  • Dried herbs or flowers of your choice
  • Small fabric sachets
  • Ribbon
  • Optional: essential oils

To make these DIY sachets, first, pick out your choice of dried herbs or flowers. For a more floral scent, choose lavender or rose petals. If you prefer something more earthy, go for rosemary. Fill up your fabric sachets with your dried herbs or flowers and tie off the bag with ribbon. To intensify the smell, add a few drops of essential oils of your choice. Also, feel free to stick these sachets in your dresser drawers to keep those socks smelling fresh.

9. FRESHEN UP YOUR BATHROOM

A small bowl of baking soda on an upper shelf will absorb odors without adding any chemical smell. You can also put a few drops of essential oil on cotton balls and place inside a roll of toilet paper which will release the scent every time the roll is turned. Fresh eucalyptus leaves are also very effective at deodorizing — place these in a vase above the toilet or in your shower for some added aromatherapy. 

10. GARBAGE DISPOSAL DEBRIS CLEANER

Are there bad smells creeping out of the sink? The source may be the garbage disposal. Little bits of food that got washed off past tenants’ dishes can get caught in the garbage disposal, creating a smelly odor that lingers long after they’ve moved out. Here’s a get hack to get rid of this problem: 

  • To clean the blades: Put a large cup of ice cubes down into your disposal, turn it on, and then add about half a cup of salt. The ice and salt will combine to scrub the built-up off the inside of your disposal.
  • To freshen up the disposal: To get rid of any odors, turn on the faucet and drop sliced citrus peels down into the disposal. As you run the disposal, the citrus peels will leave a refreshing scent behind as they get ground up.

11. CIGARETTE SMOKE REMOVAL

Removing cigarette odors from an apartment can cause a headache for landlords or new tenants. Cigarette smells seem to cling on to any surface they come in contact with, like carpet, your new drapes, or a precious armchair. Instead of masking the smell with commercial air fresheners, try a DIY method to absorb or neutralize it:

  • To absorb: Sprinkle baking soda on surfaces that smell like cigarette smoke, or fill several small bowls with baking soda and place around your space to absorb the smoke particles. If you have it on hand, activated charcoal is also very effective at absorbing these stubborn odors.
  • To neutralize: White vinegar is a common nontoxic household staple that works to neutralize odors. Its low pH content targets the high pH content of smoke particles and alters them slightly to reduce the smell. For a quick fix, boil a pot of vinegar on the stove — the steam will waft through the air and work to remove the smell. You can also use vinegar as a wash: simply wash clothes with it or scrub it on upholstery and walls.

If the methods above don’t work, try washing your windows, window coverings, and carpets. To get your unit ready for new tenants, consider also repainting your walls with odor-blocking primers or replacing fixtures such as cabinets. Also, to help prevent this in the future, encourage renters to keep things fresh by implementing a no smoking policy. 

BENEFITS OF USING NATURAL REMEDIES 

In addition to these natural remedies being super easy to make, as well as effective, they’re also much less harmful than using chemical deodorizers. Over 20 percent of the general U.S. population has reported having adverse health effects from air fresheners. 

Common household products like air fresheners can contribute significantly to indoor air pollution and can also stick to and be absorbed by furniture, walls and surfaces, carpets, and more. They can then be released and re-enter indoor air, even long after you’ve used the air freshener.

Although they may smell nice, cutting out chemical air fresheners from your cleaning routine will leave your home not only more pleasant for friends and family, but also safer for your health. As a landlord, using these natural remedies are great in case a future tenant may be sensitive to these chemical cleaners and can attract those that are eco-conscious. 

HOW TENANTS CAN PREVENT ODORS 

Even though there are plenty of natural remedies you can create to deodorize your home, there are a few precautions to help you avoid these bad smells in the first place:

  • Do laundry often: Letting piles of dirty clothes sit in your laundry bins can quickly contribute to bad odors. Don’t let laundry linger for extended periods — it might be the cause of the smells like must and mildew. Get those washed ASAP!
  • Toss expired food: It may be time to check out those expiration dates. Old food like meat and dairy products can give off bad odors that seem to stick to your fridge forever. Go through and toss any expired goods to make sure nothing stinks as you open the doors.
  • Wash your bedsheets: While we’re all getting our beauty sleep, our beds are collecting fungus, bacteria, and dead skin cells which won’t smell good after some time. To avoid this, wash all your linens at least once a week. According to Joshua Zeichner, M.D., microorganisms like bacteria and fungi tend to thrive in moist environments — including your dirty pillowcase. Get rid of funky smells in your bedding by adding a few cups of white vinegar to your washer.
  • No shoes allowed: If you can, enforce a no-shoes allowed policy in your home so bad odors can’t get dragged onto your sparkling clean floors or fresh carpet.
  • Keep the sink clean: Do those dishes! Keeping the kitchen clean right after you cook and eat will help avoid scary sink and garbage disposal smells.
  • Clean vents & replace air filters: If you’ve cleaned every room and have tried these natural remedies and things still smell a little stale, try wiping down air vents and replacing your HVAC filter — be sure to check with your landlord before making this change. This quick-fix can quickly ventilate your room and filter out those bad smells.
  • Open your windows: Nothing can get more natural than simply opening up your windows. On days with good outdoor air quality, open up the windows to bring in new air to freshen up your space.From essential oils and baking soda to citrus peels and cinnamon sticks, these natural remedies will be the first things that come to mind the next time you’re wondering how to deodorize your rental — they’ll come in handy if you’re getting ready to list your apartmentor looking to create a more environmentally friendly rental. If you’re a landlord looking to fill an apartment, visit our rental application and tenant screening services to help find the perfect tenants. 

Guest Contributor: Sarah Stinson

Sarah is the Director of Content and SEO at TurboTenant where she leads a team of experts to provide valuable resources to help landlords and renters. With over 10 years of experience writing in various industries, she has been featured in many top tier publications and is an expert in the real estate tech space as well as the property management industry.

turbotenant.com

PLUMBING MAINTENANCE – WHO IS RESPONSIBLE, LANDLORDS OR TENANTS?

Plumbing maintenance - who is responsible, landlords or tenants (1).jpg

Ah, the famous age-old question: who’s responsible for plumbing maintenance? Landlords or tenants? Many generations have given their contribution to resolving this problem in the past. To quote an Allen Ginsberg poem: I saw the best minds of my generation… We’ll stop right there. This isn’t a boring poetry reading, and the question raised at the beginning certainly isn’t something great thinkers have struggled with for centuries. Although, since you’re reading this text, you might wonder: really, who’s responsible for plumbing maintenance? You might’ve encountered some problems in your new apartment, or maybe you’re checking out your options before you move in. Whatever’s the case – we’re here to help you out. Stay tuned for some helpful info.

FIRST THOUGHT – BEST THOUGHT (OR IS IT?)

Your first thought might be: well, the landlord is responsible for its tenants’ quality of living; therefore, he’s accountable for anything that goes wrong with plumbing. That could be the truth. But, there’s a catch. In most states, the landlord is responsible for hiring someone to take care of plumbing emergencies. Is a leaky tap an emergency? Probably not. What classifies as an emergency is a question to ponder (consider checking your state law). For example, if you notice there’s no running water, that’s undoubtedly an emergency. The landlord is definitely responsible for that one. In most cases, you’ll find these problems classified as emergencies:

 

  • Serious leaks in your bathroom or kitchen;
  • Damaged, non-working water heater;
  • Burst water pipes;
  • Toilet with an active overflow.
Landlords are definitely responsible for resolving a plumbing emergency. A leaking tap probably doesn't fit into that category. Check your state law.
Landlords are definitely responsible for resolving a plumbing emergency. A leaking tap probably doesn’t fit into that category. Check your state law.

Can the landlord also be responsible for minor repairs?

There isn’t a straight answer to this one. You might want to check the lease agreement and see if you can find the solution there. If the problem you’ve encountered is somehow listed in the agreement, and if the landlord’s responsibility is evident, you have your answer. Otherwise, if the issue isn’t a subject of the lease agreement, you’ll need to check state real estate laws. Some of them have repair and deduct statutes. These rules make the landlord deduct the repair cost (paid by the tenant) from the monthly rent. A quick tip: there are some repairs (even though they look minor) you shouldn’t try to do by yourself. For example, low water pressure is an issue that pros should handle.

ADDITIONAL INFO THAT MIGHT COME IN HANDY

Let’s say you’ve made a deal with the landlord. He’ll deduct the repair costs from the rent for the next month. Now imagine this scenario: your landlord’s antique kitchen table gets damaged in the process. We guess you know who’s responsible for that. To ensure this doesn’t happen, consider hiring experts such as those at golansmoving.com and see if they can do something to help you store valuable items during the process.

It's very important to store valuable things somewhere they can't be damaged while the renovation process enfolds. The best way, of course, is to rent storage space.
It’s very important to store valuable things somewhere they can’t be damaged while the renovation process enfolds. The best way, of course, is to rent storage space.

DIPLOMACY IS KEY

It might be better if we mentioned this earlier, but before you quote the law and everything, see if talking to your landlord can seal the deal. Keeping a good relationship with your landlord is something that will guarantee you peace of mind when plumbing issues (or any other issues with the apartment you’re renting) occur. Also, it really isn’t pleasurable to stay in an apartment where the owner acts indifferent. There’s no need to be super-formal or something. Of course, if talking doesn’t get you what you think you legally deserve, then quoting the law is the way to go. But, as we’ve noted at the beginning, it shouldn’t be your first option.

AN EXAMPLE: WHAT’S IT LIKE IN CHICAGO?

In this paragraph, we’ll pinpoint some of the rights tenants have when renting in Chicago. For example, the landlord can’t evict you without a judge’s order and must take care of a pest infestation when it occurs. Also, you shouldn’t worry that he will come unannounced. What about plumbing maintenance? Suppose the tenants (or their guests) are not responsible for the damage done. In that case, landlords are obliged to take responsibility in accordance with the City of Chicago’s Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance (commonly known as CRLTO). Make sure you check that out. In other words: be familiar with your rights. A well-informed tenant is a good tenant. As if you already didn’t know that, right?

Know your rights! Being well-informed is a must nowadays. If you're a Chicago resident, consult the CRLTO.
Know your rights! Being well-informed is a must nowadays. If you’re a Chicago resident, consult the CRLTO

SHOULD YOU SUE THE LANDLORD?

Hopefully, there won’t be a reason for that. Most landlords will quickly resolve the issue you’re dealing with. If, for some reason, the landlord ignores fixing the problem, you have all the rights in the world to mention a potential legal action (after you consult the lease agreement or the state law, of course). But, as we’ve already said, that scenario is really not so popular. You’ll rarely stumble upon a landlord who will make you want to take legal action. 

FINAL WORDS

That’s all, folks! Hopefully, we’re closer than ever to find the answer to the question of who’s obliged to hire professionals for plumbing maintenance. The best way to sum up this article is: know your rights! Make sure to check the lease agreement, consult the state’s real estate law, and before you start thinking about taking legal action – talk to your landlord. As we’ve mentioned, there’s a slim chance you’ll need to go to court because your toilet is overflowing. Being diplomatic and, at the same time, well-informed is a recipe for success!

Guest Contributor: Sophia Perry

HOW DO YOU FIX THE ISSUES WITH YOUR WATER HEATER’S PILOT LIGHT?

The pilot light is one of the most crucial components of your gas water heater. After all, the appliance can’t provide you with hot water if this component faces an issue. However, apart from being the most crucial component, it’s also probably the most troublesome one. Gas water heater users might come across problems, primarily associated with the pilot lighter, quite often. 

Now, you’d want to fix the issue as soon as possible. And, for that, you might usually want to hire a plumber. However, there are specific ways through which you can fix the issues all by yourself. Here, we have discussed some common pilot light issues and simple ways to fix them. Also, you do not need to have any technical skills to apply these solutions.

How does the Pilot Light Work?

The pilot light provides the igniting flame for the gas that the appliance releases through the burner. Only after that, the heater starts heating the water. Also, the pilot light should always stay lit when you ignite it. Otherwise, it will fail to ignite the gas coming out of the burner in turn. As a result, you won’t get any hot water while using the heater. 

Now, most of the issues you face with the pilot light are related to keeping it lit.  Other than that, it might sometimes fail to provide a properly sized flame to the gas. If there is an issue with its placement, then fix that first. You can simply reach out to Handyman Dubai for a quick and reliable solution. 

What to do when the Pilot Light’s Flame is too Small?

A small flame indicates that the pilot light isn’t receiving enough gas pressure. In that case, it would affect the functioning of your water heater. So, you must not ignore this issue and apply a solution for it. 

Now, this issue is mainly caused due to a clogged pilot light orifice. In that case, you can fix the issue by cleaning it. However, it’s more sensible to contact a certified professional if there are any other causes. 

Cleaning the pilot light orifice

The pilot orifice regulates the amount of gas released through the valve. So, you must clean it to improve the gas pressure. And, for that, you must stop the gas supply using the shut-off valve. 

Remove the orifice

You can’t clean the orifice as long as it’s attached to the appliance. So, you must detach it before proceeding with this task. And, for that, you must remove all the nuts that hold the orifice to the water heater. Based on the model you’re using, this might take a while. Moreover, you’d also have to detach the pilot tube and the thermocouple attached to the orifice. Once you’re done, you can simply proceed with the cleaning. 

How to clean the pilot orifice?

A can of compressed air would be one of the best tools for clearing out any dirt and debris. Apart from that, you should use sandpaper to clean its tip. You can also find a water heart cleaning brush available in the market for this task. Make sure to clean the orifice properly so that you don’t face this issue again anytime soon. Once you’re done, you must re-attach the components to the heater with the utmost care. 

Pilot Flame won’t Light or Keeps Going Out: Causes and Fixes

Many other users often report a failure to light the pilot flame. Apart from that, you might sometimes fail to light the pilot flame in the first place. Now, you must consider the following common causes behind both these issues: 

Dirty air vents

As you know, you need oxygen to light up the pilot flame or keep it lit. So, you must make sure that your appliance receives that in a proper quantity. Now, the air vents are the only means by which your water heater intakes oxygen. It might often get clogged by dirt and debris. 

In that case, the appliance may fail to light up the pilot flame. The air vents are located at the exterior of the appliance. So, you can clean them up quite easily. Also, make sure to do that regularly to avoid this issue further. 

Kinked flex tube

The kink tube is yet another exterior component you must examine for pilot light problems. As it happens, this tube might often get kinked to cause interruptions in the gas flow. In such cases, the pilot flame might keep going out or simply fail to light. 

So, you must straighten this crucial tube to fix the issue. It should work in case there aren’t any other problems with your water heater. 

Clogged pilot tube

In case, the previously mentioned fixes didn’t work, you must turn your attention to the pilot tube. This component supplies gas to the pilot light through the orifice. Sometimes, especially in old water heaters, this tube might get clogged. In that case, you simply need to clear it to fix the gas supply to the pilot light. 

So, detach the pilot tube from the heater and examine it for any blockages. You can simply use a thin wire or a needle to clear it effectively. Then, you must re-attach it to the appliance and try lighting the pilot flame. 

The sensor has bent away from the pilot flame

Apart from other parts, you must also take a look at the sensor. Do you find it bent away from the pilot light? If yes, then you’ve found the cause behind the problem. The sensor’s end should always touch the pilot flame. So, you can easily fix the issue by bending it to that position all by yourself. But, make sure to shut down the appliance before you do that. 

Dirty thermocouple

The thermocouple plays an important role in regulating the gas supply. It signals the appliance about whether the pilot flame is burning or is out. Depending on that, the heater supplies gas to the pilot light. Now, like other components, the thermocouple can often get dirt and debris on it as well. In such cases, it can mistake a lit pilot light as unlit and vice versa. 

As a result, it sends the wrong signal to the appliance. Now, if you’re wondering what should be your next step, then you simply need to clean the thermocouple to resolve this issue. 

Damaged thermocouple

Does the pilot light face issues even after you try the above-mentioned fixes? In that case, your water heater probably has a damaged thermocouple. So, you must make sure whether that’s the case. Test it with a multimeter and check whether it generates at least 20 MV voltage. 

What if it doesn’t supply the specified amount of voltage? In that case, you must replace the thermocouple. You can simply use a wrench to detach it from the water heater. Then, carefully attach the new thermocouple in its place. Also, make sure to turn the gas supply off before you proceed. 

What if these Solutions don’t Work?

In some cases, the problem might also lie with the flex tube. So, you must examine this component as well. Moreover, pilot light issues are also sometimes caused due to a broken main control valve. In that case, many service providers might offer you repairs for it. But, it’s better to get a new water heater in such situations.

Also Recommended:Plumbing Services in Dubai – Where to Book From?

Guest Contributor: Biler Charlie

4 TOP TIPS IN REDESIGNING YOUR LIVING ROOM AS YOUR WORKSPACE EXTENSION

You’re working diligently to finish your project by the deadline while your kids take a Zoom class in the other corner of the room—your partner walks in to bring them snacks while your dog follows the scent of food. You look around flustered, knowing that sharing the existing home office with your entire family just isn’t sustainable.

It’s okay—imagine this: the ample space in your living room gets redesigned for either you or the kids to work or study in peace. You can shift your furniture creatively, which allows for the inclusion of a workspace extension. Not only is it functional, but it also fits your overall aesthetic. Below, we share the top four tips for redesigning your living room as your workspace extension.

 

1. MAKE USE OF A CORNER

When the rest of your living room is already packed with furniture or you’re working with limited square footage in an apartment, make one corner your workspace extension—preferably by a window to invite natural light in while you work. By using a corner, you create an obvious separation between your living area and your working area.

 When choosing the desk for this space, ensure it matches the rest of your living room décor to create a seamless design. To top it off, create a gallery wall just above your desk, using elements from the rest of your living room—for example, if you’ve opted for a chic appearance throughout, use black and white prints in gold or silver frames. If you’ve opted for a more bohemian and artsy vibe, create a gallery of your favorite art prints in funky frames.

 

2. USE AN OPEN WALL

If you can rearrange your couches or if you have the budget to replace them altogether, you can create a workspace along an open wall. Before you jump the gun and buy a new desk or couch, take out your measuring tape. The best couches are the ones that fit perfectly into your available space. When you’ve mapped out where your furniture is going to be placed, you can begin working with the open wall.

 Using this redesign is ideal if you have multiple kiddos who need workspaces, as you can line the wall with a long desk and set up multiple workstations. Add floating shelves above each individual workspace to create a streamlined, balanced look and you’ll have a clearly divided, yet congruent appearance in your living room space. While you’re at it, make sure you’re incorporating mindful and comfortable touches that help to improve mood and keep energy levels up.

 

3. CREATE YOUR OWN CUBICLE

To create the feel of a separate office space in your living room, you can use makeshift walls that double as décor and storage space with the use of a tall cubby bookshelf. Open cubbies mean you can place books or other decorations facing either direction, which unites the two spaces, rather than appearing awkward and blocking off the natural flow of your living room.

 With this approach, you can create an entirely new office, rather than just an extension, and can use an L-shaped desk to create an open square within which you work. Incorporate additional design elements to complement the living area, like house plants of varying shapes and sizes. You’ll add life to the room neutrally, and it’ll feel inviting, both for work and for lounge time with friends and family.

4. USE THE SPACE BEHIND YOUR COUCH

If you’re dreading the thought of giving up a precious part of your living room for a practical addition that seems to cut into the space you share with guests, don’t worry. Try a modular sofa in an outdoor-friendly fabric to accommodate all of your guests. Simply use the space behind your couch to set up your workstation. By layering your furniture like this, you create a simple workspace that doesn’t interrupt the rest of your hosting area. You can still enjoy football watch parties without feeling cramped.

Use a slender desk that tucks behind the back of the couch nicely, add an area rug to outline the workstation, and include a desk lamp for adequate lighting. Leave an open space for your laptop and layer additional décor on the other side of the desk, like a couple of books alongside an elegant orchid.

With the tips outlined above, you can have the best of both worlds—a workstation that gets you in the zone for ultimate productivity and a spacious living area that doesn’t feel crowded by the addition of a workspace extension. All it takes is a little imagination and creativity to envision a new design for your living room and once you’ve landed on just the right touches, you’ll be amazed by how great it all comes together. Tell us about your new vision for your living room! What tips do you plan to incorporate?

Guest Contributor: Kiley Morrow

7 SIGNS THAT YOU NEED TO RENOVATE YOUR HOUSE

Everything deteriorates over time and your lovely home is no exception. The deterioration of your home is unavoidable, no matter how well you maintain it. Renovations, on the other hand, can address a number of concerns that arise as a result of aging. We modify our homes to improve their appearance or make place for additional residents in some circumstances. Despite the fact that the process takes a lot of money, effort and planning, it also has a lot of advantages. The security, attractiveness, and comfort of your home can all be improved by renovating it. This is especially true in the case of old houses. Are you unsure whether or not your home needs renovation? I have written in this article a few signs that you can consider before you decide to renovate your home. 

THE ROOF HAS A LEAK 

When water starts flowing on the ceiling or walls, you know you have a leaking roof. Your roofing system may begin to leak for one of two reasons. It could happen if the roofing installer and service you hired did a sloppy job, or if your house’s roofing system is already old and decaying. Whatever the case may be, your roof needs immediate repair and improvement. Roof leaks should be addressed as soon as possible, regardless of how minor they are, as they may escalate to a larger problem. Roof leaks can cause a variety of problems. Corrosion, mold growth, and frame and ceiling damage are just a few of them.

THE PAINT HAS BECOME DULL AND IS BEGINNING TO CHIP 

When the inside or exterior paint starts flaking off, it’s one of the most obvious signs that your home needs to be renovated. It also means that outside influences like dirt and pollutants are already having a negative impact on your property. This incident also indicates that you should think about upgrading and cleaning your property. For people working at home, a dull and messy paint is awful to the eyes and can lessen productivity. Organize your home office whether you’re working from your dining room table or a dedicated office space because it is critical for both productivity and sanity. Refresh the paint in your home’s most vulnerable areas, such as the bathrooms, kitchen, and baseboards. Newly painted walls can give your home a fresh look and make it appear new. A bright white layer will do wonders for updating the look of your home if the whitewash is starting to yellow.

IT’S EITHER TOO CROWDED OR TOO EMPTY IN YOUR HOME 

Have you ever felt strange and uneasy as soon as you walked into your home? This is common if your home is overcrowded or has a lot of open space. The longer you stay in a house, the more filthy it becomes. Remodeling your home is a quick fix for this. All you have to do is reorganize your belongings within your house to enhance your home. By doing so, you are altering the appearance and feel of your home, giving you a sense of freshness.

THE WALLS BEGIN TO SHOW SIGNS OF DETERIORATION 

The first clue that your home needs remodeling is the appearance of cracks in the walls. Cracks might form on the walls or in the foundation. It could be the result of a little imperfection and not cause for alarm. Horizontal fractures, separation cracks, and gaping cracks, on the other hand, warrant special care. As a result, have it properly examined by a specialist. Severe foundation cracks have been discovered. To address the underlying issues and assure safety, the house must be renovated. Examine the areas near the breaks to determine the severity of the cracks.

WHEN TERMITES BEGIN TO WREAK HAVOC ON YOUR HOME 

The presence of bugs and insects within your home indicates that you have used low-cost materials. When termites infest your home, you must immediately rebuild the interiors to eliminate the pests and prevent them from spreading.

IT’S TIME TO REPLACE YOUR FLOOR 

Whether your floors are tiled, wooden, or carpeted, giving them some time and attention can dramatically boost the value of your property. Individual tiles in the bathroom and kitchen may begin to detach, so keep an eye out for lifting symptoms. Detached tiles and boards are not only ugly, but they can also be a trip hazard. Carpeted flooring has a 10-year life expectancy, although this will be reduced if you have indoor pets. Wooden floors are a long-lasting and sturdy flooring option, but they are also the most expensive and are prone to deteriorate over time. The good news is that rotting wood planks may be repaired without entirely replacing the flooring, as long as you act quickly before the rot spreads.

YOUR BATHROOM AND KITCHEN APPEAR TO BE OUTDATED 

You’ve probably heard that if you want to add value to your home, the kitchen and bathroom should be the major focus and even in these functional areas, the aesthetics take precedence. Adding new quartz worktops, gleaming fixtures by a great plumbing service and having a set of new sinks could make these rooms look more modern, but if you’re looking for a complete makeover, starting from the ground up is a fantastic strategy.

A remodeling and even unexpected home renovations is a major project but if you have a solid purpose for doing it, you’ll probably find it rewarding in the end. Small changes can make a significant difference, so whether you’re renovating for lower energy bills or more room, make sure the end result is healthier for you and your family.

Guest Contributor: Kat Sarmiento

4 BEDROOM COLOR SCHEMES TO INSPIRE YOUR SPACE

You probably know that colors affect a person’s mood. That’s why it’s very important to choose the colors right, especially when it comes to your bedroom. 

Needless to say, you want to achieve a comfortable, calming, and relaxing space that will help you achieve a good night’s sleep.

Whether you’re renovating your bedroom or building a new one, below are some of the best color schemes for your inspiration:

Black + White + Brass

There’s nothing as timeless as black and white. 

While some people will think this color scheme is quite too heavy especially if the dominant hue is black, these colors are actually remarkably serene when used together.

You can create an entirely different mood depending on how you style your room. 

If you want to further elevate the look of your room, consider incorporating brass. It makes the space inviting, elegant, and dazzling.

Bright Blue + Gray

Blue promotes calmness and relaxation, which makes it perfect for a bedroom. Meanwhile, gray is a neutral color so it goes nicely with other hues and accents.

Blue + gray is a great option since you don’t want your room to be overly colorful or vibrant.

Natural wood details make a wonderful accent for this color scheme.

Charcoal + Gold

If you love gold and would want to incorporate it in your room, go ahead. Just make sure to pair it with warm, deep-tone neutrals, such as charcoal gray.

This color combination helps you achieve an elegant and relaxing ambiance. When working on this palette, enough lighting is important so your bedroom won’t look too dark. 

This color scheme works well with well-lit rooms or those with larger windows that allow natural light in.

Aside from charcoal gray, gold also works with chocolate brown, rich olive green, and beige.

Navy + White + Yellow

Navy and white go beautifully together and a punch of yellow makes this color scheme much more exciting. 

You can set the tone with a deep hue accent wall or some navy blue furniture, decor, or cabinetry and a backdrop of crisp, white walls.

You can use yellow for the curtains or your mattress.

For an even more dynamic color scheme, you can pair navy blue with mustard yellow or soft butter yellow. Such color offers warmth and brilliance that stands out against the coolness of the navy color.

Emerald + Mint + White

Emerald adds cheerful energy and freshness to any room. It’s a little too bright for a bedroom but it makes a beautiful option when paired with a complementary shade of mint. To tone down the vibrance of emerald, make sure to incorporate white in your color palette.

For example, you can paint the walls white and add touches of emerald wall decals or cabinetry. Then, you can choose mint green for the curtains and accessories.

Emerald also works amazing with neutral shades, particularly earth tones like gray, charcoal gray, and beige.

Factors To Consider When Choosing the Bedroom Colors

The above color schemes are just ideas. There are so many color combinations that are perfect for bedrooms. It can be a challenge deciding what colors to use for your room. To make the process easier, here are the most important factors to consider:

Start With a Mood Board

Every interior design starts with a mood board. 

A mood board lets you visualize your ideal bedroom and helps you organize your ideas for the style, mood, and colors of your dream room.

Your mood board should incorporate different elements, from the overall feel of your bedroom to the accessories, window treatments, and furniture pieces.

Don’t Forget About the Floor Color

Floor color is an important element to consider because it helps create a cohesive layout with your chosen color palette.

When choosing the color of your flooring, consider the mood you want to create, how much natural light you get, your room size, and your furniture’s color and finish.

Gray is the most popular flooring color because it’s the ultimate neutral, but you can always choose something else as long as it matches your interior design.

Pay attention to what carpets and rugs to use. Carpets should always be clean and fresh. If you can’t manage to wash your carpets deeply, there are lots of budget-friendly yet professional carpet cleaning services that will have you covered! Remember, carpet color should match your whole bedroom style. 

Consider the Orientation of Your Bedroom

Another important factor to consider when choosing paint colors is room orientation.

For example, a north-facing bedroom will have cooler light so it works well with warmer shades like pinks and yellows.

Meanwhile, a south-facing room is naturally bright so it can take cooler tones like blue or grey.

Make it Personal

Bedrooms are deeply personal spaces. Thus, you want to make sure it fits your lifestyle. If you’re a morning person, choose clean, light, and energizing paint colors.

If you’re an evening person, opt for dark, womb-like shades.

Conclusion

Creating a relaxing bedroom starts with choosing the right colors. Keep in mind that a color scheme doesn’t just involve the walls, but also the floors, accessories, and furnishings of your bedroom.

More importantly, it should reflect your personality and lifestyle.

Guest Contributor: Leila Amber

7 TIPS TO PREPARE FOR THE UNEXPECTED DURING HOME RENOVATIONS

You set your sights on your dream house renovations this year, but the problem is you do not know where and how to start. You are not alone because several homeowners go into the entire process clueless of what to expect. It is only at the end of the project and has suffered through renovation mishaps that you regret not planning for it. This article will help you prepare for the unexpected when you push through with your home remodeling.

Why Renovate Your Home

Homeowners always want to have their homes in tip-top shape. It is not surprising that many of them prefer to have home renovations for several reasons. If you are thinking of the whys of home improvements, you can continue reading to find out.

Increase Your Enjoyment or Comfort of Your House

Your comfort and enjoyment are your top priorities. However, you may have overlooked these factors because your ultimate desire is to increase your home’s future sales price. If it is your primary reason, you will end up living in a showroom and not a home. You can design your house improvements around your comfort and enjoyment.

Correct a Safety Issue

You cannot put off home renovation projects that involve roof leaks, electrical problems, or foundation cracks. Fixing them can prevent catastrophic loss and keep you and your family safe.

Boost Your Home’s Value

You can plan on renovating your home if you wish to sell it in a few years. You may decide to update the bathroom or kitchen, replace the front door, and open up the primary living space. 

Enhance Your House’s Function

Your growing family may need a second bathroom or more living space to make life easier for everyone. You may prefer to have a patio or deck for outdoor entertaining. Renovating can help increase home functions; as long as your planned upgrades do not decrease usable space or hurt the home’s value.

Make the Home More Efficient

Your house may need added insulation, a heat pump, or new windows. Some improvements reduce energy costs. Efficient homes attract more buyers if you wish to sell yours because they know that these fixtures will lower their electricity costs once they live in your house.

Refurbish Your Home’s Style

An outdated home is less attractive to buyers. Some homeowners decide to update their home’s style on a whim, but you can opt for timeless styles that evoke sophistication.

Prepare the Home for Selling

If your primary goal is to sell your home, you must make the appropriate choices to make it more saleable. Your upgrades must add value and fix any functional or cosmetic issues. You may choose neutral colors to prepare your home for resale.

Preparing for the Unexpected in Home Renovations

Home renovations are expensive, messy, and time-consuming. You may face an unexpected setback that will increase the remodeling costs even higher. These problems can put a big dent in your budget and cause you headaches. As a homeowner, what will you do these problems creep up? Here are the top seven tips to help you.

Ask for Recommendations and Have Rules

Setting and sticking to your budget is vital, and you must tell your contractor that you do not have any wiggle room. You may talk to them about your expectations. It may be challenging to find a contractor, so you must ask for recommendations from friends, family, neighbors, and local real estate agents. You must ask about the contractor’s experience, costs, and timelines.

Create a Plan and Set a Buffer

Remodeling projects tend to go over budget because homeowners change their minds or do not know what to do when unexpected issues arise. You must have at least a 10% contingency fund in your budget for emergencies. Moreover, you must know what you want and relate it to your contractor for a closer estimate of costs before construction begins.

Be Prepared

A 20% – 30% buffer on top of the final bid can avoid any budgetary issues. Setting an unachievable low-budget project will only force your contractor to cut costs that may cause the quality to suffer.

Include Benchmarks

Homeowners must have clear timetables for each project step and add them into the contractor’s standard contract. You must ensure that your contractor follows them and penalize them if they fail to meet the schedules.

Be Patient and Disciplined

If you plan to have home renovations, you must ask for bids from three contractors and add them to get the total cost. Some contractors want to get you as a client, but a lack of discipline and patience can result in many issues. You must create a well-defined scope of work, pick a reputable contractor, choose the specifications or materials upfront, and you may reduce the cost by one-third. You will only add two bids to compute the total amount of money you must spend on your project.

Be Definite

Home renovations will cost more than the original contractor’s quote; thus, you must be specific about your requirements. The contract must include everything you want, including the materials. Buying an expensive tile may cause you thousands of dollars more. Moreover, you must be confident about your decisions to avoid adding minor projects along the way that can delay completion and increase costs. 

Research, Plan and Minimize Changes

Home improvements require appropriate preparation. If you do not prepare for it, you will experience financial pain and heartache. It is better to spend time on research and planning. Common issues include no-show subcontractors, price fluctuation for materials, city code surprises, and omissions. You must know your preferred materials and reduce the changes you want midstream because they will be your source of budget busters.

Final Thoughts

Whatever your reason for home renovation, you must prepare for the unexpected occurrences that may wreak havoc on your project and budget. However, with the tips highlighted in this article, you can better prepare for any issue or problem.

About the Author

Charlie Svensson is one prolific and engaging freelance writer providing an assignment writing service service for Essaymama. He is fast becoming a favorite because of his skills in blogging and content writing. Charlie writes about education, marketing, motivation blogging, social media, SEO, and self-growth. He can adapt his skills in writing a case study efficiently to reach diverse audiences.

SIX HOUSEPLANTS THAT ARE GREAT FOR BATHROOMS

Six Houseplants That Are Great for Bathrooms

You might think your bathrooms aren’t good candidates to grow indoor plants seeing as they typically don’t have much in the way of natural lighting and experience dramatic shifts in humidity and temperature, but did you know there are still plants that can easily thrive in these conditions with a minimum of maintenance?

Even small indoor plants continuously add fresh oxygen to your space and absorb carbon dioxide. They also tirelessly work to purify the air by removing toxins like formaldehyde, benzene, xylene and others. Some plants even become more adept at eliminating indoor pollutants with practice.

Just about any common indoor plant offers benefits both aesthetically and to the overall health and wellness of your household. But some are easier than others to maintain, especially in the tricky environmental factors that go part and parcel with a bathroom.

But it’s worth the extra effort to make sure that the enclosed, somewhat claustrophobic spaces bathrooms inevitably represent are decorated with the invigorating and lively presence of living species. And as you read on, you’ll come to find that with the right selections it really isn’t much extra effort at all.

Did you know that formaldehyde is a carcinogen that is found in virtually every household where synthetic materials can be found? Even if you carefully choose what household products you bring into your kitchen and bathroom, it turns out formaldehyde is outgassed even by many building materials, which means that it is almost impossible to avoid. Fortunately, plants can minimize the impact of formaldehyde by filtering it out of the air. Other plants can reduce odors by working as nature’s air fresheners.

Let’s take a look at some of the plants that make the best additions to your bathroom:

CAST IRON PLANT (ASPIDISTRA ELATIOR)

The cast Iron plant is an excellent choice for most bathrooms. This plant thrives in a low light setting and can tolerate a stingy watering schedule. It can do well with both higher and lower temperature settings. The plant should be kept in an area with indirect sunlight.

The plant comes in both small (18 inches) and full size (2-3 feet high) varieties. Leaves may vary from dark green to yellow striped or dotted.

To care for your Cast Iron Plant, water it thoroughly when the soil becomes dry.

The Aspidistra does well in the humid conditions

The plant is also a great air purifier that effectively removes formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene from the air.

FERNS

Ferns do very well in bathrooms because they like humid environments. Different types of Ferns such as Bird Nest, Boston Fern and Staghorn Ferns do well in low light settings.

Ferns need regular watering and misting. However, with too much water they will develop yellow or droopy fronds – a sign of root rot.

Ferns can tolerate significant temperature fluctuations characteristic of most bathrooms. However, if a bathroom is kept cold to the point that humidity is reduced, the fern may begin to struggle. Try misting them more frequently or move them to a location where the air isn’t as dry.

Note: some ferns and fern-like species can be mildly toxic. If you have pesty pets who are likely to munch on whatever they come across (or babies who do the same… you know who you are) then you may want to do some research on the species you have or look for an alternative.

DRAGON PLANT (DRACAENA)

Dracaena comes in more than forty varieties. It has long spear-like leaves which range in width from a few millimeters to a couple of inches wide. The available colors range from solid green to greenish-maroon and variegated. The leaves of the plant emerge from the stem.

The plant works as an excellent air purifier for the bathroom. It grows well in artificial light and indirect light. Direct sunlight should be avoided.

Dracaena is a drought-resistant plant and doesn’t need a lot of watering. Water it only when the soil feels dry and then pour lukewarm water generously until water trickles through the holes in the pot. Empty the drainage receiver pan after about an hour and never allow the pot to stand in water. The plant thrives in rich soil with plenty of organic material.

SNAKE PLANT (SANSEVIERIA)

Sansevieria also known as “Snake plant” or “Mother-in-Law’s tongue” is very suitable for bathrooms. It is one of the most low-maintenance plants you can grow.

The plant filters out formaldehyde from the air which is commonly found in cleaning materials and cosmetics.

The plant would grow well in light levels ranging from low to bright indirect sunlight. It will also thrive well under fluorescent light.

Water the plant only when the soil is almost completely dried out, which should be ever two to six weeks depending upon the temperature, light and humidity of your home. The plant does well at most humidity levels. Choose a soil which drains freely, and use a terracotta pot to make sure that water doesn’t accumulate in the pot.

PEACE LILY (SPATHIPHYLLUM)

The white flowers of the Peace Lily make a great complement to the décor of most bathrooms. The plant does well in low light conditions and is easy to take care of.

Don’t let the Peace Lily’s delicate appearance fool you: it is a hard working plant when it comes to air purification. The plant also reduces the mold spore levels in bathrooms.

Peace Lily does well in low light during summer and spring but in order to grow well, it will need exposure to indirect sunlight during the rest of the year.

Peace lily requires consistently moist soil, but like other low-maintenance plants, it doesn’t like to sit in standing water. Water it when the top inch of the soil is dry, and keep watering until the overflow of water starts from pot’s drainage holes. Return the pot to its regular place once drainage has stopped.

ENGLISH IVY (HEDERA HELIX)

Ivy is one of the easiest indoor plants to keep. The plant enjoys warm and humid conditions which makes it perfect for greening up the bathroom. Ivy can give a very good display if the aerial roots of the plant are trained to climb a moss stick or trellis.

Ivies grow well in the medium light, but will also thrive in bright light. They are generally less tolerant of low light conditions than the other plants listed here.

Ivies prefer drier soil, so let the soil dry out before watering it again.

The plant can effectively remove traces of airborne mold spores – making it a perfect addition to bathrooms, the kitchen or anywhere else mold or mildew can loom.

Guest Contributor, Ryan from Fast Partitions

FAVOURITE OUTDOOR DESIGN TRENDS OF 2021

Spending most of the time outdoors has become the new normal for many. Following the rules of social distancing, homeowners with large backyards made the most of their gardens with a variety of trendy furniture, privacy solutions as well as an array of tech solutions. From having fire pits in their garden to enclosing the property with fencing solutions, homeowners have made a lot of effort in turning their gardens into their favourite hangout spot. Want to know more about the outdoor trends that we loved in 2021? Keep on reading. We may just let you know what’s coming in 2022 too.

Furniture to die for

Multipurpose furniture gives you a full spectrum of possibilities and uses. Having a comfortable sofa to sit on while also having a spacious storage space underneath is very beneficial. Modular tables are another favourite trend of ours. Who wouldn’t like a table that can be pulled apart to accommodate seating and social distancing? How about a table with hidden beverage compartments? All of those sound perfect and have been very popular among homeowners everywhere in 2021.

Outdoor kitchens

Taking the indoors outdoors is another trend that many followed. Instead of cooking delectable meals inside, homeowners decided to have outdoor kitchens and do all the work in the yard. The convenience of preparing food outdoors allows you to spend time with everyone as you cook. A satellite kitchen features several additional cooking elements, including pizza ovens and grills. Another option is an independent kitchen that features prep space, a sink, storage, and refrigeration. On top of that, you’ll also have cooking elements to complement the rest of the kitchen space.

Added privacy

While lounging outdoors tends to be very enjoyable, it can be rather uncomfortable if you have neighbours’ prying eyes on you. That’s why they need for secluded spaces in the garden skyrocketed. Whether you want to lounge with friends, practice yoga or sunbathe, having an outdoor drapery panel or an outdoor screen. You can also consider various fencing products to enclose your property and make it both more secure and private as well. Having a fence will increase the net value of your property too, so if you ever consider selling your house, that will be a good investment in the long run.

Making the most of the outdoors with technology

The more time you spend in the fresh air, the more you realise what you could use to entertain yourself. When hanging out and landscaping finishes, you can easily continue on with streaming movies. You don’t have to go inside, just to watch your favourite film. All it takes is a Wi-Fi booster to allow you to have a strong signal in your yard and enjoy your favourite flick whilst kicking back in the garden. Bring along outdoor music speakers or portable sound systems and have a full-on cinema-like experience. Incorporate LED lights for added comfort and ambience by stringing them across your fence or the privacy structure you chose. As announced by trendsetters, in 2022, designer metal sconces and floor lamps in the garden and at the corners of the terrace or balcony will be another huge trend that will allow you to make the most of the outdoors and extend your time in the garden.

Fire pits for added warmth and ambience

You can never have too much cosiness. That’s why adding a fire pit to your yard is one of the most popular outdoor trends in 2021. Whether built-in or freestanding, they’re breaking records in popularity in 2021. Making you feel maximally cosy at any time of the day is the goal. Once the sun has set, you won’t have to go inside to be warm. Just decide on having a fire pit between your outdoor sofas and chairs to keep you warm and comfy. Heat lamps will do a similar thing, making you prolong your outdoor times by keeping you warm. For cooling down, consider misting systems and fans.

With 2021 being in its final quarter, we thought we could sum up some of the biggest outdoor design trends for you. Some of them announced the arrival of 2022 trends, while others may prolong their ruling and stick in the year ahead of us.

Guest Contributor: Diana Smith