Discussing Payment, Costs, and Financing With Your Solar Contractor

First off: Congratulations. You have done the research, determined that solar paneling is a good choice for your home, and have chosen a solar contractor after sifting through three or four estimates. Now it’s time to plan out how you will be budgeting for your home improvement project. You will want to save on the initial investment and in the long term.

Just by searching online for payment options and educational materials, you’re on the right path and now you’re in the right place. A solar paneling installation is a costly, and worthy, investment—nothing and no one should push you to do anything you’re not completely comfortable with. When it comes to solar panel payment options, whether you do so in cash or through financing, you should understand your options and be comfortable with the path you choose. A trustworthy contractor will walk you through each step and be glad to explain anything you want clarification for, from the reasoning behind certain costs to the myriad financing options at your disposal.

Discussing the cost of and payment options for your project with your contractor is one of your most valuable venues to a successful solar panel installation, whether you take out a loan or sign a Power Purchasing Agreement. Use our guide to familiarize yourself with the solar panel installation financing universe and use it as a launching pad for conversations with your local contractor.

Solar Panel Payment: The (Solar) Ball Is In Your Court

You don’t have to feel like your contractor is doing you a favor. The cost of solar installation has dropped more than 70 percent since 2010, according to data from Solar Energy Industries Association. In response, therefore, contractors have stepped up their game to compete in an increasingly saturated arena. Further, it’s okay to expect the contractor to handle the bulk of the work in reducing costs before your solar installation project even begins—after all, one of their value propositions is expertise in the field and local knowledge about getting the most out of local, state, and federal rebates and incentives.

And in case you’re wondering: Yes, you should certainly negotiate. If you can pay a lump sum, your contractor might be open to giving you a discount. If you want to pay through a payment plan, your contractor might offer their own so you don’t have to go through a bank. And if you do need to go through a bank, be sure you first learn about all of the financial incentives available to you both directly and indirectly in the form of loans or tax credits. For example, the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, which applies to up to 30 percent of your installation (that’s hard and soft costs combined), is phasing out its value over the next several years. By 2022, that 30-percent figure drops to 10 percent, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Understand Your Home Equity and the Doors It Opens For You

Homeowners are often able to use their homes, whether mortgaged or not, as securities for loans to fund home improvement projects. Two common ways to leverage your home for credit from a bank or other financial institution include lines of credit and loans. If your budgeting puts these payment options on the table, run it by your solar installer. An experienced contractor will have both expert and valuable anecdotal advice regarding these methods.

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

A home equity line of credit, otherwise known as a HELOC, allows homeowners to borrow money against their home’s equity. HELOCs are generally flexible but limited by a home’s value, and they also carry the risk of foreclosure.

Home Equity Loan

In contrast to a HELOC, this loan allows a homeowner to borrow money against the value of a home over the amount of any or all mortgages levied against the property. Since the home itself is the security for the loan, it can result in large amounts of borrowed assets. For all intents and purposes, a home equity loan is a kind of second mortgage.

Whatever options you find suits you best, you may want to discuss it with your contractor. Their experience with other homeowners in the area and specifically as it pertains to solar panel installation projects will be very valuable in helping you determine the best path forward for your own financing.

Consider a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Loan

PACE programs are mechanisms by which private property owners —homeowners like you— can more easily finance energy-efficient and renewable energy improvements on their property and using private sources of income.

According to the Department of Energy, you can pay for home energy-efficiency specific improvements—solar panel systems among them—without a large up-front cash payment. You will then repay for the improvement costs over a set time period just like with a loan over a decade or two pending your finances—as always, be sure to run through option like this with your contractor to get guidance about your best option here.

The loan is tied to your home, not you, which means you can sell it along with your home if that day ever comes. Interestingly, the added value your home will gain as a result of your solar panel installation incentivizes both you and a potential homebuyer in the future. Most importantly, perhaps, a PACE loan incentivizes you to charge ahead with a home improvement project like a solar panel installation without having to wait for the resulting savings to specifically show a return on your investment.

You Can Save With Solar Without Buying a Solar Panel System At All

As you consider your solar panel system options, you should be aware there are other paths to saving on your utility bills by powering your home with solar that don’t necessitate purchasing a solar energy system.

There are two basic ways to reap the benefits of solar panels without buying them, a solar lease and a Power Purchase Agreement. Discuss both with your reliable contractor to get an idea of how each applies to you and which might be based for you based on your needs, budget, and finances.

Lease A Solar Panel System

For some homeowners, it makes more sense to allow a third party to pay for their solar energy installation and then either pay to lease the system or purchase the energy generated from it from the owner at a reduced rate. When they lease solar panel systems, homeowners don’t own the solar energy system itself. That means they are not responsible for the system’s upkeep, maintenance, and usually installation. Instead, you would pay a lease to use the solar energy system in one form or another. Of course, the applicable tax credits and financial incentives available, like the one mentioned above, do not apply to a lessee. While there is less risk, there is also less reward in that sense.

On the much brighter side, however, leases are sometimes available for little-to-no money down, making them much more budget-friendly. The terms of a solar lease will depend on many variables, from the solar system itself in terms of its expected output and down to you, the homeowner, and what your needs are. Discussing cost-related parameters of your project with your solar installer will give you a great start in determining a solar lease is worth your efforts.

Sign a Power Purchasing Agreement

A power purchasing agreement, or PPA,  is similar to a solar lease. Someone else pays to install a solar energy system on your home and assumes both the burden of maintenance and any tax credits associated with the system. However, instead of charging rent to use the system as in the lease model, the owner actually sells you the energy generated by your system at a greatly reduced rate.

PPAs are typically set for a certain term of time, usually somewhere between 10 and 25 years. After the agreement expires, the homeowner can choose to either extend the agreement, have the owner remove the system, or purchase the solar energy solar at a reduced rate. As with a PACE loan, the PPA is attached to the home, so if a homeowner chooses to sell their home, the new homeowner may take over the agreement.

Whichever direction you choose to fund your home improvement project, discussing costs and solar panel payment plans with your trustworthy solar installer will give you an intimate and specific foot up on saving the most both in the short term and the long.

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Home Updates You Can Do Over The Weekend

Weekends are fantastic for laying back and relaxing, getting away on a short adventure or tackling some of those to dos around the house! If your weekend plans involve tackling your home, here are a few affordable home renovations and updates that can be completed quickly but will have a major impact on the look and feel of your home.

5 Home Painting Hacks

A Little Paint – While painting your entire home is probably too big of a job for a single weekend, a fresh coat of paint in key places can update the feel of your home very quickly. Some great examples include your front door, a feature wall in your home or a piece of outdoor furniture that needs a facelift.

Editor’s Favorites, Spring 2019

Accessorize – Much like adding jewelry can take an outfit from simple to stunning, hardware and light fixtures can make all the difference in a room. If your cabinetry is in good shape, simply swapping out the hardware for a more modern style can really freshen up the room. Cabinet hardware, light fixtures, door handles and other hardware are easy to update with huge impact.

Linen Closet Organization Hacks

Get Organized – Well planned organization can make a huge difference in both the look and function of a room. This might mean adding cabinets and shelving to organize your garage or basement storage areas. Or, perhaps installing a closet organization system in the main bedrooms to improve use of space is on your list. There are many systems available that you can customize yourself to create the organization system that fits your needs.

Essentials for Outdoor Living

Move Outside – Prepare for the coming summer months by setting up an outdoor living space for yourself. This might include adding potted plants, planning out the living space and purchasing furniture to meet your needs, adding landscape lighting to improve the look and function of your outdoor space or repairing and refinishing an existing deck! You’ll end up with a beautiful space that you will enjoy for many weekends to come.

From updates big and small, or even just funding a weekend away, a home equity loan can be a quick and easy way to access the equity in your home, allowing you the extra funds needed to complete your projects and update the look and feel of your home! Talk to a Tribecca Home Equity Specialists today to find out who we can help you create your dream home!

The post Home Updates You Can Do Over The Weekend appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

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The 12 Biggest Downsides to Buying New Construction

Many prospective homeowners dream of buying a brand-new house, or having one built to their specifications. But a number of disadvantages come along with the excitement of owning a home in which no one else has ever lived. In fact, a brand-new house isn’t always better than one with a few more miles on it. Before you start interviewing contractors and looking at lots in new subdivisions, consider these downsides to buying new construction.
Bob Vila : Trusted Home Renovation & Repair Expert

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Your Accessory Style

In the rag trade we talk about three large categories of wardrobe items: clothing, footwear and accessories. Accessories are items like handbags, scarves, belts, jewellery, watches, hats, gloves, and eyewear. Footwear has its own category and is not lumped together with accessories. 

Accessories can be extremely powerful because they complete a look, often taking it from fine to fabulous. Accessories add personality to your outfit, dress it up or down, incorporate a playful element, add glam, amplify polish, add layering interest, make a statement, or strike up a conversation with a stranger.

More importantly, the right accessory is extremely practical. Winter hats, scarves and gloves insulate. Sun hats prevent sunburn. Sunnies prevent glare. Watches tell the time and more. Belts keep your pants up, and eyewear helps you see.

By all means sport many accessories at once if you have a maximal style, because there are no rules about how many accessories you should sport in one outfit. Gone are the days when it was best to sport one huge accessory at a time and make a statement with it. Sport two, three or more if that’s your preference. More can be more.

If you have a minimal style, less is more. This means you’ll sport few accessories or none at all. Or you can mix it up sporting as many or as few accessories that tickle your fancy on a day.

The accessory styles of my clients run the gamut. Here’s a sampling:

  • Client A is maximal and sports it all in one outfit. 
  • Client B wears nothing but a wedding ring or Apple watch, and doesn’t even carry a bag.
  • Client C wears simple outfits, and lets statement accessories do the talking.
  • Client D sticks to a few jewellery pieces and wraps up when it’s cold.
  • Client E changes their bag, earrings, necklace and belt daily.
  • Client F sticks to one bag a season, but goes to town with her jewellery. 
  • Client G makes a statement with scarves and belts.
  • Client H wears statement eyewear and big earrings.
  • Client I sticks to studs, rings, bracelets and contact lenses.
  • Client J wears arm candy and toe rings in the warm months.
  • Client K wears real jewellery only.

The accessories you choose are as personal as your style. You might feel like lots of accessories one day, month, season or year, and fewer the next. You might like bracelets one year, and brooches the next. There is no right or wrong accessory, as long as you’re happy with your look.

I adore accessories. I prefer accessories to footwear, and let them do the talking rather than the shoes I’m wearing. I wear accessories to add polish, dressiness, glam, shine, colour and interest to my outfits. Some accessories are extremely practical, and others an adorning necessity. Here’s my accessory strategy in order of importance. I wear #1 to #4 daily.

1. Eyewear

About seventeen years ago, I needed to wear prescription eyewear most of the time because I’m near-sighted. That’s when I decided that my specs would be the most important accessory of my style. I make a statement with them, and buy the very best that I can afford. Most of the time they’ve been non-neutral, and some style of cat’s-eye.

I wear sunnies regularly, but have few pairs because they need prescriptive lenses. Those have always been Modern Retro. At the moment, I have round tortoiseshell Ray-Bans, and a pearlized white vintage pair from 1960. Here’s my eyewear.

2. Handbags

I LOVE handbags. They are hands down my favourite accessory. I have 23, love them dearly, and swap them out daily. I prefer them dressy, structured, non-neutral, or white. Not too big, relatively classic, beautifully made, with minimal gold hardware, and with the option of a crossbody strap for travel. I have a large Italian family of Furlas. Here are my wardrobe pets.

3. White Pearls

I’m not a jewellery person, but what I have is very focussed, worn daily, real, and custom-made. Two chunky white pearl necklaces, two white pearl bracelets and and pearl wedding ring with gold metal. Occasionally I wear a very special gold and garnet vintage Yorkie brooch from 1961 that was an incredible gift from a client. I don’t wear earrings, although I have two holes in each ear.

4. Watch

I wear the same gold watch every day, and on the same wrist as my ring and bracelets. I would love to find another, but haven’t yet found a watch better than the one I have.

5. Scarves

I wear scarves to create colour complements with my bags and shoes, and to keep me warm. You have to wear a scarf in the Netherlands because of the nasty cold wind. In warm weather, I wear a gauzy linen or cotton scarf to keep the blazing hot sun off my neck.

6. Belts

I used to wear belts a lot more frequently with low and mid-rise jeans and pants. But now that 95% of my pants and jeans are high rise, I seldom wear belts. I’m keeping all of them in case I feel like wearing them again.

Finally, a smile is a great accessory. You can wear it daily, it always fits, and does not date. So are laughter lines, because they are evidence of smiles and laughter, which is good for the soul.

Over to you. What is your accessory strategy?

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Expert Advice for Your Home

Experts answer your questions to help better your home!

WHEN STARTING A HOME RENOVATION, WHAT SHOULD I PRIORITIZE FIRST?

Start with the outside and work your way in! What matters is what you don’t see. Is the roof in good condition? What’s behind the walls? Is it insulated properly? Those types of core issues need to be dealt with before you start on the pretty things inside. – Mike Holmes JR will appear in Season 4 of Home to Win, premiering on HGTV Canada this fall.

Watch This Full Segment And More On Demand At MarcAndMandy.com


What is a Passive House?

This is the most ecologically friendly and sustainable construction. The main cause of loss of energy in traditional homes are thermal bridges that allow the easy transfer of heat or cold energy. Passive Homes feature continuous insulation around the outside of the building with no thermal bridges, resulting in dramatically reduced energy costs, improved air quality and increased comfort. – Rick Stacey, www.rascomgreenbuild.ca

How do I ensure my glass shower enclosure won’t leak?

Choose a 3 Point Anti Leak system that includes hinges, side seal gaskets and a threshold. The hinges overclose by 5%, pushing the door against the gaskets for a nice, tight close. The threshold runs across the opening of the door with a slight slope to roll water back into the shower. – Tara Hreljac, www.doorsandmore.ca

What materials are available for kitchen cabinets?

Classic kitchen cabinetry is usually made from solid wood, painted wood, laminate or thermofoil. Modern kitchens are using more wood, glass, and synthetic materials or a combination of materials. Designs are also more convenient than in the past, offering more options for storage and customization! – Shinya Mikawa, www.canadoo.ca

What steps can be taken to ensure accuracy when framing a home?

One important step is to create in-depth shop drawings. They are created specific to our scope of work including supplier details of materials and structural items being used, issues unique to the site and the like. We essentially build the house on our software before commencing the project. This allows us to identify all irregularities before construction begins. These drawings allow construction to move quickly, minimizing errors and producing a high quality of work. – Wall-Up Carpentry, www.wall-upcarpentry.ca

I have a four bedroom house. Will combining a small bathroom and bedroom into a larger bathroom affect my home’s value?

This is an excellent decision as bathroom and kitchen upgrades add substantial value and reducing from 4 to 3 bedrooms won’t negatively affect your value. If you had fewer bedrooms, the opposite would be true. – Marcia Bergen, www.marciabergen.com

How can I ensure a quick sale in a competitive market?

Make sure your home is move-in ready, up to date and in good condition. Potential buyers can be very picky and finding one small hidden problem will actually lower their perceived value of your home overall. If funding is an issue, speak to a home equity loan specialist about using existing home equity to fund the repairs needed so you can sell your home for a higher value, faster. – Amit Anand, www.Tribecca.ca

Why is it important to survey for water before drilling?

Way too many homeowners spend thousands of dollars on drilling that results only in expensive dry holes or very low yields. Using research with Seismo-electric technology (Seismic Ground Water Detection) and equipment prior to drilling allows you to minimize risk and maximize yield. – Gary Kehler, www.waterfind.ca

What is involved in a truly sustainable build?

When building a sustainable home, we have to consider more than just energy efficiency. Truly sustainable building includes reducing waste during construction, building with healthy products with minimal chemical off-gassing, choosing local or recycled materials and investing in materials that will last longer and require minimal maintenance over time. Our goal is to reduce long term costs for heating and maintenance while reducing environmental impact. – Cal Dueck, www.dueckbuilders.com

How can I fit a tub and separate shower in a small space?

In this small bathroom, well placed lighting and a glass shower enclosure allows light to move so the space feels larger. The freestanding tub is placed at an angle which allows a larger tub to fit in the space and looks decorative at the same time! – Shawn Jones, www.thehomeimprovementstore.ca

The post Expert Advice for Your Home appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

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In coal we trust: Australia’s voters back PM Morrison’s faith in fossil fuel

Australia’s re-elected Prime Minister Scott Morrison once brandished a lump of coal in parliament, crying, “This is coal – don’t be afraid!” His surprise win in what some dubbed the ‘climate election’ may have stunned the country, but voters should know what comes next in energy policy – big coal.


Reuters: Environment

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Take Your Pick: The 20 Best Fruit Farms Across the United States

Nothing quite compares to that zesty burst of flavor that you get from luscious strawberries, juicy raspberries, tart cherries, succulent peaches, earthy greens, and crisp apples, especially when you pick them yourself. No matter where you live in the United States, chances are that there are some great “u-pick” farms right in your own backyard. There’s no need to head to a restaurant for farm-to-table freshness when you can try your hand at picking your own produce at some of these beloved locations across the country.
Bob Vila : Trusted Home Renovation & Repair Expert

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Trend Spotting: High Point Market Review

NATIONAL DESIGN EDITOR GLEN PELOSO SHARES SOME OF HIS FAVORITES FROM HIGH POINT MARKET.

High Point Market, also known as the “World Furniture Market,” is a ten day event that showcases the latest and greatest from top furniture manufacturers across North America. As a designer, High Point always brings plenty of inspiration for upcoming projects and offers the perfect opportunity to scout out new products for Grafus Studio as well!

This year has been all about luxurious textures and finishes, improved performance and functionality and of course, bold color! Marble and stone finishes, both real and imitation, add a luxurious look to everything from backsplashes to dinnerware. Gold continues to be the finish of choice for glamorous, sophisticated spaces and this year, we’re seeing a lot of combined gold finishes, mixing a variety of gold shades from rose gold to soft golds for a more dynamic look.

Luxurious fabrics like velvet are also a popular choice, adding a classic touch to upholstery and accessories with high performance fabric options expanding to allow more options even for the toughest situations. Other hot trends at this year’s High Point Market included the use of the color green in various shades and the use of bench seating rather than chairs.

The post Trend Spotting: High Point Market Review appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

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Choose Classics When the Trends Don’t Work

V-necklines are prolific this season. They are all over tops, knitwear, dresses and jumpsuits. It’s high time fashion made a statement with them because they’ve been scarce at retail for years. I am THRILLED for those who enjoy wearing V-necks. They are visually fabulous on larger busts, shorter necks, shorter waists, broader shoulders and petites. No matter how often I see it, I’m regularly in awe at how magically a V-neckline can minimize the size of the bust and lengthen the neck.

The V-neckline trend might be great for you, but it’s not for me. I have the opposite of the body type that wears V-necks well: a regular bust, regular waist, narrow shoulders and a very long neck. My short hair makes my neck look even longer. The higher the neckline, the better it’s suited to my body type. I can wear a V-neckline when it’s a structured shirt collar with a few of the top buttons left open, because the collar adds coverage to my long neck and shoulder neck point, especially when I pop the collar.

As I’m refreshing my wardrobe for Spring and Summer, I’m rejecting all sorts of potentially fabulous on-trend tops and dresses because their V-necklines are deal-breakers (unless they are shirt collars). The V-neck trend is against me, so it’s on to plan B. Reverting back to classics.

I enjoy modern classics full stop. And many of their necklines work well with my body type. This season I’m back in classic silk and cotton blouses, body-con knit tops, and pullovers with polo collars — all of which I haven’t worn for ages as I favoured more trendy styles. I’m thoroughly enjoying my new classic tops because they’ve changed things up, and layer well under jackets in arctic air conditioning. The collection below shows the exact items I’ve bought to refresh my tops capsule with for Spring & Summer.

The fluid cotton and cashmere crew neck pullovers in the collection are classics I wear every season despite trends. These versions are shorter because that’s how fashion is at the moment. That trendy detail is fine because shorter tops work well with exposed high rises and skirts, both of which I wear and enjoy.

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The Modernize Glossary of Terms: Financing a Home Improvement Project

Welcome to the Modernize glossary of terms for anyone in the process of, or considering a home improvement project. It’s always advisable to discuss and check with your local contractor how various financing options and programs might affect your project but our guide is here to help familiarize you with some common terms you might encounter along the way. Bookmark this page and advise it whenever you are considering the next step of your project or signing paperwork that will inevitably include some of the terms below.

Modernize regularly updates this list so check back for new information.

Amortization

This term applies to the different allocation of loan repayment, wherein a portion of each mortgage payment, for example, pays partially for the comprehensive loan balance and partially pays for the accrued interest.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

When homeowners (or anyone, for that matters) finances a home improvement project (or anything, for that matter), the interest rate on their loan can be viewed in a yearly way, otherwise known as the annual percentage rate. A loan’s APR is a good measure by which to determine the cost of that loan over any given year but also over its entire lifetime. Homeowners can, therefore, calculate what it will mean to their budget to take out any given loan.

Cash-Out Refinance

Put simply, this type of refinancing replaces an existing mortgage with one worth more and the difference is immediately paid out in cash to the homeowner refinancing. Of course, then the homeowner owes than they did to begin with and carry the associated risks of increased debt. This type of refinancing requires built-up equity in a home before it can be used.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

In its own language, the CFPB is a US government agency designed to “makes sure banks, lenders, and other financial companies treat you fairly.” From answering people’s questions about personal finance to acting as a repository for complaints about unsavory practices, the CFPB is a great resource for any homeowner considering financing anything, but especially when it comes to large-scale investments in long-term projects like home improvement. The agency was erected as a result of the passing of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Learn more at consumerfinance.gov.

Closing Costs

Commonly known as settlement costs, these refer to the cost of securing a mortgage — closing the deal. According to finance site lendingtree.com, common items include

  • Title insurance
  • Escrow fees
  • Lender charges
  • Real estate commissions
  • Transfer taxes
  • Recording fees

Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act

Commonly known as Dodd-Frank, this 2010 law is named after its original sponsors, Senator Christopher Dodd and US Representative Barney Frank. Largely aimed at banks, the law serves to protect consumers from predatory lending and financing programs. One result of the law was the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

ENERGY STAR Program

This volunteer-based resource from the Environmental Protection Agency is designed to help homeowners save money on home improvement projects, as well as other endeavors, that aid in protecting the climate.

Learn more at energystar.gov.

Escrow

When money is being handed off between two parties like a contractor and a homeowner, for example, or a buyer or seller, escrow is often utilized. It is a third party that is not part of the transaction and who is, therefore, able to hold on to security funds until the process of the transaction is complete.

Equity

Simply put, this is the calculated difference between what a homeowner owes on their home or property and the appraised (or market) value determined for it. The more of a loan a homeowner pays, the higher that homeowner’s equity in the given property.

Home Energy Renovation Opportunity (HERO) Program

Part of the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Model, the HERO Program provides financing for energy-efficient, water-efficient, and renewable energy products in California and Missouri. Local municipal governments collect annual property taxes to pay for the loan program.

Home Energy Score

This Department of Energy-developed program helps homeowners seeking to improve their property’s or home’s energy costs or efficiencies with “directly comparable and credible information about a home’s energy use.” In other words, the program can help a homeowner compare apples-to-apples the worthiness of a product or service as it regards that homeowner’s energy use.

Learn more at betterbuildingssolutioncenter.energy.gov

Home Equity Line of Credit

A home equity line of credit, otherwise known as a HELOC, allows homeowners to borrow money against their home’s equity. HELOCs are generally flexible but limited by a home’s value, and they also carry the risk of foreclosure.

Home Equity Loan

In contrast to a home equity line of credit (or a HELOC), this loan allows a homeowner to borrow money against the value of a home over the amount of any or all mortgages levied against the property. Since the home itself is the security for the loan, it can result in large amounts of borrowed assets. For all intents and purposes, a home equity loan is a kind of second mortgage.

HomeStyle Energy Program

This program from loan provider Fannie Mae lets borrowers get loans valued at up to 15% of their home’s appraised value to finance “energy-efficient upgrades when purchasing or refinancing a home,” according to the Department of Energy.

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Model

PACE programs are mechanisms by which private property owners (or homeowners) can more easily finance energy-efficient and renewable energy improvements on their property and using private sources of income. Local municipal governments collect annual property taxes to pay for the loan program.

Private Mortgage Insurance

Commonly known as PMI, this insurance protects a lender against a possible default by a borrower. Borrowers in many cases are forced to pay for PMI when a lender deems the given loan as risky enough to merit it.

Preapproval Or Pre-Qualification

Given basic information about a homeowner, for example, a lender might determine that person to be appropriate for a loan. No actual paperwork or fact-checking has been done but a bank, as an example of a lender, is tentatively interested in lending that homeowner money.

Residential Property Assessed Clean Energy (R-PACE) Model

As distinguished from the commercial PACE programs, these are designed specifically for residential homeowners, yielding different allowances and results.

Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit

This financial assistance in the form of tax credit applies to up to 30 percent of a renewable energy installation, a solar paneling system, for example. It is important to note that this federal credit is for systems placed in service by Dec. 31, 2019.

Title I Property Improvement Loans

The federal government’s Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) helps insure private lenders against losses they might incur from loans they provide for property improvement. This insurance applies to “both large and small improvements,” according to HUD.

Learn more at hud.gov/program_offices/housing/sfh/title/ti_about.

The post The Modernize Glossary of Terms: Financing a Home Improvement Project appeared first on Modernize.

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Creating a Luxurious Outdoor Living Space

For most of us here in Canada, winters can be long and harsh and those precious summer months beg us to spend as much time outside as possible. It’s not surprising that outdoor living spaces continue to be an important part of our homes. Creating an outdoor space that you love to spend time in and can enjoy for as long as possible allows us to maximize our summer enjoyment and increase the equity in our homes. Here are a few tips to help you create the perfect outdoor living space!

Photo Source: HomeSense

Start With a Plan! Every outdoor living space, from a small balcony to a large backyard, can offer a place to sit back and relax. Ask yourself what activities you’d like to incorporate into your space and then create a plan that incorporates those functions. One big mistake homeowners make is adding a single detail – like a pool or a deck – to their yard without thinking about how it will work with future landscaping plans. Even if your budget does not allow you to overhaul your entire yard this year, start by creating a plan for what you’d like to final layout to be. You can always finish your space in stages but having a plan will ensure that you don’t have to make expensive changes later on because something doesn’t fit.

Consider Care & Maintenance! A beautiful outdoor living space that eats up all your free time to maintain over the summer defeats the purpose of having the space in the first place. There are plenty of options today for low-maintenance products, plants and materials that can be used to create a space that you can actual have time to just enjoy. Consult with a professional landscaper and fence/deck builder as you go to ensure you understand the maintenance requirements as you go. Some common outdoor living choices like hot tubs and pools come with maintenance requirements so ensure you understand the time and cost that will be involved in maintaining these features before you decide to add them into your plan.

Plan to Entertain! If you like to entertain, this will be a big consideration when planning your outdoor space. You will want to include places to sit and visit, places to prepare and serve outdoor dinners and the like. This may be as simple as a deck with a BBQ, dining set and conversation area or you may want to incorporate a full outdoor kitchen with all the conveniences of the indoors right at your finger tips.

Extend Your Season! The biggest reason our outdoor season is cut short is weather and while we can’t control the weather, we can prepare for it to ensure we can enjoy our outdoor time for longer. Things like well planned landscape lighting, a fireplace, outdoor heaters, gazebos, sunrooms and even movable walls can be incorporated into your plan, allowing you to enjoy the space on cooler evenings, on rainy days and longer into the fall season.

Plan for Future Growth! How long will you be using this space? How do you envision your lifestyle changing over those years? If you’re planning to move in the near future, you will want to focus on features that will add value to your home while avoiding high maintenance features that may make your home harder to sell later on. If you’re planning to have children or have small children who are going to become teenagers, considering their future needs and your future needs will ensure the yard is something you can still enjoy even down the road. A pool is a prime example: while an open pool may seem like a great idea now, it may be a nightmare down the road when you have little ones. Keeping this in mind, perhaps a plan that incorporates safety measures now can save you the headache of expensive changes in the future.

Get Started! Summers are never long enough so don’t lose those precious days to procrastination. If financing the updates you wish to make is the next step, consider a home equity loan which will allow you to access the funds you need to complete your updates and allow you to begin enjoying your new outdoor living space now! Talk to a Tribecca home equity specialist to find out what options are available to you today!

The post Creating a Luxurious Outdoor Living Space appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

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BEST DEAL UPDATE:

The Top 10 States for Residential Solar Installations in the US, Ranked

While solar panel installations are blossoming around the country and the solar industry as a whole has been swelling for years, there are ten states that have demonstrated a tremendous national lead.

The last quarter of 2018 saw more than double the solar installations than the quarter before, and kept solar as one of “the top two sources of new electricity generating capacity in the US,” according to the year’s annual Solar Market Insight Report from the Solar Energy Industries Association.

“2018 marked a year of rebound as the market grew by 7%. [The fourth quarter] was the largest quarter for the residential solar segment in two years, a sign that the residential market is stabilizing,” the report reads. “In total, 314,600 new residential PV systems were installed in 2018.”

At Modernize, we attempt to meet homeowners where they are in the journey to home improvement, whether through solar panel systems or other home improvement projects. And as a result of studies like the one above and our regular conversations with homeowners, we have compiled state-specific guides to help homeowners in 2018’s top states when it comes to solar installations. They’re listed below — in order of their ranking — with some of the most pertinent information about each and links to their more detailed profiles.

California Solar Installations

Ranking

SEIA ranked the state first in the country in the solar-verse, with solar energy powering more than six million California home, as well as ranking it first in growth over the next five years.

What Homeowners Should Know

Increased competition in the state since 2013—and the nature of the market on a national scale—means residents are primed for home value increases if they install solar panels in California. There are currently 188 incentives for homeowners to increase the value of their property by installing solar panels for houses in California. Find details about each program at the state’s Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) site.  

Trivia

California made solar energy history in 2018, announcing that in and after 2020, builders must include solar panels for houses they construct. The New York Times, labeling California “a leader and trendsetter in its clean-energy goals,” reported the state’s ruling “brings solar power into the mainstream in a way it has never been until now.”

Learn more about California solar at our state guide for residential solar energy there.

North Carolina Solar Installations

Ranking

As of the end of 2018, SEIA reported that nearly 5.5 percent of the state’s energy comes from solar. Additionally, SEIA ranks North Carolina fourth in the nation in projecting its growth over the next five years.

What Homeowners Should Know

Increased competition in the state since 2012—and the nature of the market on a national scale—means residents are primed for home value increases if they install solar panels in North Carolina. There are currently nearly more than 130 incentives for homeowners to increase the value of their property by installing solar panels for houses in North Carolina. Find details about each program at the state’s DSIRE site.

Trivia

In March 2019, the federal Energy Information Administration reported that North Carolina’s solar energy production grew by more than a third (36 percent) in 2018. That growth, according to local ABC affiliate 13 WLOS, “firmly” places the state as “the No. 2 solar-producing state in the nation.” It was in third place in 2018 based on its prior performance then.

Learn more about North Carolina solar at our state guide for residential solar energy there.

Arizona Solar Installations

Ranking

SEIA ranked the state third in the country — nearly 7 percent of the state’s energy comes from solar. Additionally, SEIA ranks Arizona seventh in the nation in projecting its growth over the next five years.

What Homeowners Should Know

Increased competition in the state since 2012—and the nature of the market on a national scale—means residents are primed for home value increases if they install solar panels in Arizona. There are currently nearly more than 115 incentives for homeowners to increase the value of their property by installing solar panels for houses in Arizona. Find details about each program at the state’s DSIRE site.

Trivia

The Arizona Supreme Court has made it much more affordable for homeowners to turn to solar paneling to power their homes. In a recent ruling that affects anyone leasing solar panels in 2019 and beyond, the court “spared tens of thousands of homeowners who lease rooftop solar panels from paying property taxes to the state on that equipment,” according to USA Today’s azcentral.com. Homeowners who bought or financed their solar panels haven’t had to pay taxes on those investments since 2006.

Learn more about Arizona solar at our state guide for residential solar energy there.

Nevada Solar Installations

Ranking

As of the end of 2018, SEIA reported that nearly 13 percent of the state’s electricity comes from solar. Additionally, SEIA ranks Nevada fifth in the nation in projecting its growth over the next five years.

What Homeowners Should Know

Increased competition in the state since 2014—and the nature of the market on a national scale—means residents are primed for home value increases if they install solar panels in Nevada. There are currently nearly 80 incentives for homeowners to increase the value of their property by installing solar panels for houses in Nevada. Find details about each program at the state’s DSIRE site.

Trivia

Nevada isn’t new to solar panels and the industry around them (nor to desert climes and lots of sun). And while it resisted the fundamental solar policy of net metering recently and for a few crucial years, in 2017 the state legislature voted “to resurrect this important state policy,” according to the SEIA. Otherwise, some of the state’s solar policy goes back to the late 1990s.

In its report on renewable energy programs in December 2018, the state’s energy department noted that “solar incentive program received 1,047 applications and completed 979 projects in December.” More importantly, Energy Nevada paid out more than $ 9 million in solar electric incentives in 2018 alone. Since 2010, the state’s shelled out more than $ 200 million in solar incentives alone.

Learn more about Nevada solar at our state guide for residential solar energy there.

Texas Solar Installations

Ranking

As of the end of 2018, SEIA ranked the state sixth in the country — less than a percent of the state’s electricity is derived from solar energy but the sheer size of Texas means that statistic is still resounding. Additionally, SEIA ranks Texas third in the nation in projecting its growth over the next five years.

What Homeowners Should Know

Indeed, increased competition in the state since 2013—and the nature of the market on a national scale—means residents are primed for home value increases if they install solar panels in Texas. There are currently nearly more than 115 incentives for homeowners to increase the value of their property by installing solar panels for houses in Texas. Find details about each program at the state’s DSIRE site.

Trivia

Texas is the third fastest-growing solar energy leader in the United States, according to the Houston Chronicle, which reported separately that Texas solar is “on a roll” in its projected growth over the coming decade.

Learn more about Texas solar at our state guide for residential solar energy there.

New Jersey Solar Installations

Ranking

As of the end of 2018, SEIA ranked the state fifth in the country — approximately four percent of the state’s energy comes from solar. Additionally, SEIA ranks New Jersey 11th in the nation in projecting its growth over the next five years.

What Homeowners Should Know

Increased competition in the state since 2015—and the nature of the market on a national scale—means residents are primed for home value increases if they install solar panels in New Jersey. There are currently nearly 100 incentives for homeowners to increase the value of their property by installing solar panels for houses in New Jersey. Find details about each program at the state’s DSIRE site.

Trivia

Despite falling into a bucket of states that still largely rely on nuclear energy, New Jersey has been pushing serious legislation and incentives to promote its clean energy goals. In summer 2018, for example, the state signed into law “a suite of legislation” that “vaults it into the ranks of top US climate leaders,” reported Vox.com.

Learn more about New Jersey solar at our state guide for residential solar energy there.

Massachusetts Solar Installations

Ranking

As of the end of 2018, SEIA ranked the state seventh in the country — nearly 11 percent of the state’s energy comes from solar.

What Homeowners Should Know

SEIA ranks Massachusetts 13th in the nation in projecting its growth over the next five years. Increased competition in the state since 2011—and the nature of the market on a national scale—means residents are primed for home value increases if they install solar panels in Massachusetts. There are currently nearly more than 140 incentives for homeowners to increase the value of their property by installing solar panels for houses in Massachusetts. Find details about each program at the state’s DSIRE site.

Learn more about Massachusetts solar at our state guide for residential solar energy there.

Florida Solar Installations

Ranking

As of the end of 2018, for example, SEIA ranked the state eighth in the country since just about one percent of the state’s electricity came from solar energy. However, SEIA also ranks Florida second in projecting its growth over the next five years.

What Homeowners Should Know

Increased competition in the state since 2016—and the nature of the market on a national scale—means residents are primed for home value increases if they install solar panels in Florida. There are currently 100 incentives for homeowners to increase the value of their property by installing solar panels for houses in Florida. Find details about each program at the state’s DSIRE site.

Trivia

There is only one state with the perfect nickname when it comes to solar energy: Florida, the “Sunshine State.” Though in the last decade it “lagged in renewable energy use,” Scientific American recently reported, “solar is about to boom in the Sunshine State as the price of photovoltaic cells and related installation costs drop to all-time lows.”

Learn more about Florida solar at our state guide for residential solar energy there.

Utah Solar Installations

Ranking

As of the end of 2018, the SEIA ranked the state ninth in the country — more than six percent of the state’s energy comes from solar. Additionally, SEIA ranks Utah 15th in the nation in projecting its growth over the next five years.

What Homeowners Should Know

Increased competition in the state since 2015—and the nature of the market on a national scale—means residents are primed for home value increases if they install solar panels in Utah. There are currently nearly more than 80 incentives for homeowners to increase the value of their property by installing solar panels for houses in Utah. Find details about each program at the state’s DSIRE site.

Trivia

Almost out of nowhere, Utah has become one of the country’s leading states for solar energy. Jumping up on national rankings for its solar panel installations and output, an April 2019 report from Environment America Research & Policy Center lauded the city’s explosive growth in the solar sector.

“In addition to the national rankings, the report examined national solar power in major cities over the course of six years,” reported the city’s KUTV news station. “According to the report, solar energy capacity has more than doubled in 45 of 57 of the country’s largest cities and it has more than quadrupled in Salt Lake City from 2013 to 2018.”

Learn more about Utah solar at our state guide for residential solar energy there.

New York Solar Installations

Ranking

As of the end of 2018, SEIA ranked the state 10th in the country — 1.4 percent of the state’s energy comes from solar. Additionally, SEIA ranks New York sixth in the nation in projecting its growth over the next five years.

What Homeowners Should Know

Increased competition in the state since 2014—and the nature of the market on a national scale—means residents are primed for home value increases if they install solar panels in New York. There are currently nearly more than 100 incentives for homeowners to increase the value of their property by installing solar panels for houses in New York. Find details about each program at the state’s DSIRE site.

Trivia

In early 2019, New York state governor Andre Cuomo unveiled an ambitious plan to push the state into new clean energy heights, aiming to become completely carbon-neutral by 2040.

“This plan can bring massive economic and environmental benefits to communities throughout the state, spurring many new, well-paying jobs and cleaner air,” said Sean Gallagher, vice president of state affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) in a statement about the plan. And while jobs and development are great for the state, it’s been seeing dramatically positive growth in other aspects.

An April 2019 report from real estate site Zillow has found that homes with solar panels sell for 4.1 percent more than they would without them.

“Of the metropolitan areas included in the analysis, homeowners who stand to gain the most from solar panel installation include those New York,” reported CNN’s MONEY site, adding that the state saw a “5.4 percent, or a $ 23,989 premium on a $ 440,400 home.”

Learn more about New York solar at our state guide for residential solar energy there.

The post The Top 10 States for Residential Solar Installations in the US, Ranked appeared first on Modernize.

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BEST DEAL UPDATE:

Toe Cleavage: Yay or Nay

I last wrote about toe cleavage in 2008, so let’s revisit the subject. Toe cleavage is the partial exposure of the base of the toes in footwear with low-cut vamps, when the toe box of the shoe does not entirely cover the toe. 

Toe cleavage is inevitable when you have long toes and wear low-vamped footwear. This is precisely why I have toe cleavage in footwear like ballet flats and pumps despite the longer length of a pointy toe box. Toe cleavage also occurs when you have wide feet with short toes and wear low-vamped footwear.

I didn’t know toe cleavage was a thing until I started my style consulting business thirteen years ago. To my surprise I learned that some clients intensely dislike the look of toe cleavage and go to great lengths to prevent it. On the other hand, some think it’s cute and alluring. Others are indifferent. It seems the number of my clients who are concerned with toe cleavage is decreasing over time.

I’ve had toe cleavage all my life because of the shape of my feet and my preference for dainty footwear. I’ve never worried about it, or thought it was unattractive. It didn’t occur to me to be self-conscious about it, and that I should therefore prevent it. Toe cleavage is how a certain style of shoe fits my feet. Full stop. And I am more than okay with it.

Toe Cleavage

I’m a yay for toe cleavage if that’s how shoes can comfortably fit your feet. It’s neither right nor wrong, but simply a way a particular body type fills out a particular silhouette. What are your thoughts?

NOTE: Some rich content in this post was omitted because it isn’t supported by the feed. Please visit the post on youlookfab.com to see the additional content.


YouLookFab

BEST DEAL UPDATE:

12 Times Goo Gone Saves the Day

DIYers looking for that perfect go-to gunk, glop, spill, and stain remover for the home, laundry, workshop, and garage need look no further than Goo Gone, an amazing multipurpose cleanser that bills itself as “America’s #1 brand in adhesive removers.” Advertising hype aside, it is true that sticky, gummy, and, yes, gooey messes are no match for Goo Gone, which removes an astonishing number of household, automotive, and outdoor splotches and blotches, ranging from tape residue and glue to grease and gum. Goo Gone is safe for most finished surfaces, although it is always best to test the product in a hidden or inconspicuous area first. Read on to learn about the range of tough stuff that Goo Gone can help remove in a jiffy.
Bob Vila : Trusted Home Renovation & Repair Expert

BEST DEAL UPDATE:

How to Repair a Furnace Flue

If you notice your home is not heating properly, or your heating bill has recently increased, you may need to examine your furnace and flue. Your furnace’s exhaust stack, also known as the flue, vents fumes and carbon monoxide safely away from your home’s interior as you heat your home. Over time, the galvanized metal will rust and corrode. If you notice rust forming, this could be a sign that you need to replace your furnace flue. If left untreated, you can risk leaking smoke and dangerous gases into your home.

Replacing a flue is a complicated process that should only be attempted by an experienced handy worker. A mistake during the replacement process could result in toxic gases entering in your home’s interior. Modernize recommends using a licensed professional for the most critical and large-scale home improvement projects. However, if you are confident in your skill set, here is how to replace your furnace flue.

furnace repair

How to Tell If Your Flue Needs to Be Replaced

Rust and leaks are the most obvious sign of flue repairs, but it’s important to note that not all corrosion is immediately visible from the ground. Your exhaust stack extends above your roofline, and there may be damage that you can’t detect.

Flues benefit from an annual cleaning and inspection. During this yearly cleaning, a professional can alert you to problems. You should also inspect your flue prior to moving into a new home, or installing a new furnace. You can also perform a visual inspection yourself. (It’s important to follow best practices and safety measures when climbing on your roof.) In addition to normal wear and corrosion, flues can be impacted by weather, bird’s nests, and debris.

Examine the entire length of the vent. Pay particularly close attention to the seals around the rain cap (the rounded part on the top of the vent) and the storm collar (a round bulging piece that fits just above the roof). Look for damaged pipes, cracking, and rust.

Before You Begin Your Flue Replacement:

Before you begin replacing your flue, turn off your furnace so it stops producing gases and toxic fumes.

Materials You Will Need:

  • Work gloves
  • Ladder
  • Tape measure
  • Pliers
  • Snips
  • A cordless drill
  • Galvanized sheet-metal ductwork
  • Galvanized steel elbows
  • Sheet-metal screws
  • High-temperature silicon or flue glue
  • Caulk gun
  • Pipe crimping device

Heating Pipes

Removing the Old Flue

Unscrew each connection and pull the damaged piece out. Use a soft cloth to gently clean around the edges of the flue.

Cut a New Piece to Length

Use a tape measure to get the length of the old piece. Then use your snips to cut a matching length of flue pipe. Crimp one end of the pipe using the pipe crimper to smooth it down.

Push the Pipe into Place

Next, take the length of cut pipe and push it into place so that it lines up with the connections. Push the connections from the existing exhaust pipe over the pipe. Next, take your drill and secure the pipe into place at the connection points using three to four sheet metal screws.

Caulk Over the Connection

Using high-heat silicone caulk, completely seal the joint by squeezing the caulk out in a neat bead and then smoothing it over. This will keep gases from escaping when you run your furnace, so it’s important to completely seal the joint so that no exhaust is let out. Wait until the caulk has dried fully before turning on your furnace again.

If You Need A Contractor

After your project, if you notice that your furnace still isn’t working well, have a professional examine your flue and furnace. Additionally, if you begin this DIY, and realize you need assistance, don’t hesitate to call an HVAC professional. An experienced contractor can assist with your flue replacement and see if the corrosion has led to other issues.

The post How to Repair a Furnace Flue appeared first on Modernize.

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Sun, Patio or Life Room?

What is the difference between a sunroom, patio room and liferoom?

SUNROOM Essentially a sunroom is a room with lots of windows and a solid roof. It can be a seasonal sunroom or a year round heated sunroom.

PATIO ROOM This is a seasonal room generally used in summer or spring. These tend to be out of the box type kits, built on existing decks or patios and have single glazed windows or plastic glazing, limited design options and limited usability. They tend to become storage spaces in the fall and winter.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

LIFEROOM Essentially this is a patio cover or screen room on steroids. It has motorized screens that keep bugs and pollen out of your patio space. It comes with a misting system that makes it feel like an ocean breeze, it’s an outdoor entertainment space and can be designed with a projector to host all sorts of outdoor parties and even sporting events. Finally, it comes with mood lighting and optional radiant heating. – Matt Jacewicz, www.fourseasonssunrooms.com

The post Sun, Patio or Life Room? appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

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Link Love: The Met Gala 2019

The theme for this year’s Met Gala, which took place this Monday, was camp. W Magazine delves deeper into the meaning of the word.

If you missed the coverage, here’s an overview of what many celebrities wore to the “fashion event of the year.”

Janelle Monáe and Michael Urie were two of my favourites. Did you have a favourite look?

The Best Camp Culture References on the Red Carpet is worth a look too.

Fab Links from Our Members

Sal directs us to an article about the effect Marie Kondo is having on the resale market.

Brooklyn enjoyed reading about the history of the iconic Verdura-Chanel Maltese cross cuffs.

In light of Angie’s recent post on cleavage, but worthwhile on its own too, Shevia wanted to share this Guardian article.

The effect of fast fashion on the environment. As a volunteer in a thrift store, JAileen wondered why these garments weren’t donated to thrift stores in the first place.

La Pedestrienne finds Gucci’s ad campaign for their new lipstick line really interesting and provocative.

Since we’ve been talking about wrap tops and V-necks, suntiger thought Imogen’s post about 17 different necklines was timely.

She also enjoyed this Debbie Roes post about the importance of variety in life. Not style-related per se, but thought-provoking.


YouLookFab

BEST DEAL UPDATE:

Average Solar Panel Dimensions and Sizes

Solar panels used for residential projects generally come in a standard size, which meets the needs for most homeowners because they fit on most roof sizes and produce enough energy to considerably lower the electric bill each month. Of course, if your roof is irregularly sized, your solar contractor may be able to help you find alternately sized solar panels or install them on your land instead of your roof.

Below is a chart of ten of the most common brands of solar panels and their dimensions. Your solar contractor will be able to tell you the best solar panel model for your project.

Average Residential Solar Panel Dimensions

Average Solar Panel Dimensions

Different Solar Panel Sizes and Dimensions

The average dimensions for solar panels are 65 inches long by 39 inches wide, with the two exceptions:

  • Here you can see SunPower Corp’s E-series solar panels are smaller, making them a great choice if you have a smaller home or don’t need to convert as much solar energy into power for your home.
  • First Solar’s panels are a good option if you have more space to hold solar panels— like a large roof— or plan on installing solar panels on your land instead of your roof.
  • The depth dimensions vary a little more widely than the length and width because they are impacted by the base of the solar panels and any mounting equipment installed underneath the solar panels.

The reasoning behind having most solar panels be about the same size is that it creates an industry standard. That means that you’ll know what to expect, in terms of potential power, from a solar panel of a certain size. This also makes it easier to know how many solar panels you will need, or how many solar panels fit on your roof.

Find a Reliable Solar Installer

Finding a reliable and trustworthy solar installer is your first step in powering your home with solar energy. A knowledgeable contractor will help guide you through the process, answer questions about options, and ensure that you maximize both the immediate benefits of and future return on your solar panel installation.

At Modernize, we frequently speak to homeowners about their home improvement projects. In our recent interviews, 90 percent of homeowners requested a checklist to help them find and vet contractors. Modernize now offers homeowners a free, digital Contractor Checklist as a simple, step-by-step guide to assist with your solar panel project.

The post Average Solar Panel Dimensions and Sizes appeared first on Modernize.

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BEST DEAL UPDATE:

Utah: A Guide to Residential Solar Energy

Almost out of nowhere, Utah has become one of the country’s leading states for solar energy. Jumping up on national rankings for its solar panel installations and output, an April 2019 report from Environment America Research & Policy Center lauded the city’s explosive growth in the solar sector.

“In addition to the national rankings, the report examined national solar power in major cities over the course of six years,” reported the city’s KUTV news station. “According to the report, solar energy capacity has more than doubled in 45 of 57 of the country’s largest cities and it has more than quadrupled in Salt Lake City from 2013 to 2018.”

As of the end of 2018, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) ranked the state ninth in the country — more than six percent of the state’s energy comes from solar. Additionally, SEIA ranks Utah 15th in the nation in projecting its growth over the next five years.

The solar panel systems and installation market in Utah has exploded since 2015. Chart via the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Indeed, increased competition in the state since 2015—and the nature of the market on a national scale—means residents are primed for home value increases if they install solar panels in Utah. And when it comes to home value, researchers project the value of a home increases up to $ 15,000 on average, according to the Berkley Lab, one of the federal government’s national renewable energy laboratories. That doesn’t even take into consideration the massive savings solar paneling affords homeowners—or seasonal price fluctuations that make winter a possibly perfect time for your solar home improvement project.

Like every other state, Utah has a unique set of incentives, benefits, and challenges when it comes to investing in solar panels for houses. Read our residential guide to understand what you should know as a homeowner as you look for the best contractor to install solar panel systems in the many possible nooks of the Beehive State.

A well-informed and reliable contractor will go over each detail of your installation with you, from expected savings to increases in home value. At Modernize, we frequently speak to homeowners about their home improvement projects. In our recent interviews, 90 percent of homeowners requested a checklist to help them find and vet contractors. Modernize now offers homeowners a free, digital Contractor Checklist as a simple, step-by-step guide to assist with your solar panel project.

Salt Lake City, UT: Solar Energy Success Stories

Uniquely positioned to serve sun to many, myriad success stories come from homeowners who install solar panels in Utah.

Don and Mary Garner, for example, came back from a seminar at the University of Utah and decided it was time to go solar. Their solar panel system will pay for itself in less than a decade and is designed to offset 90 percent of their existing annual power usage, in order to take full advantage of net metering through Rocky Mountain Power.”

Elliot and Susie Hulet waited for a family member to show solid results from solar power before installing their own just outside of Salt Lake City, designed to produce 80 percent of their annual solar energy needs. Nancy Lombardo’s system is designed to produce up to 75 percent of her needs but she found that at its peak, her solar panels system was offsetting 93 percent of her summer electricity usage.

“They are practically invisible,” Lombardo said of her panels. “You can’t see them at all from the street. They’re very subtle.”

Indeed, solar panels have a sizeable effect on utility bills. Utah residents can expect to save nearly close to $ 17,000 over 20 years. This data serves as guidance for your journey to home improvement. Use it during your conversation with contractors in your area. Ask for this level of detail in your estimates and if jargon or complex wording seems confusing, ask for clarification.

A trusted contractor will be glad for the opportunity to explain what everything means and, more importantly, what it specifically means to you. When it comes to Utah’s solar energy, existing financial incentives (and policy) only make it more lucrative for you to sustainably increase your property value.

Utah Solar Panels: Incentives, Rebates, and Other Savings

There are currently nearly more than 80 incentives for homeowners to increase the value of their property by installing solar panels for houses in Utah. Find details about each program at the state’s Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE).

Solid contractors installing solar panels in Utah will be able to provide a list of applicable costs savings measures and help you navigate applying for and getting the most out of them. Learn enough to have a foundational understanding of these programs to best talk to your contractor about them once you’ve vetted and chosen one.

Renewable Energy Systems Tax Credit

Installing solar paneling for homes will increase property value for homeowners who have invested in their houses, and Utah is investing right back in them. Each year, Utah homeowners can get up to a $ 2,000 credit per residence, available to taxpayers who install solar panels for their houses. More specifically, you get 25 percent back on your purchase in the form of a tax credit, up to $ 2,000.

Find all the details at DSIRE’s profile for the program.

Other Utah-specific solar energy programs include:

Of course, you want to get the most out of local programs as well as federal ones, like the temporary Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, which applies to up to 30 percent of your installation. It is important to note that this federal credit is for systems placed in service by 12/31/2019. Solar Energy International reports that a typical five-kilowatt solar system installation in September 2018 would’ve dropped from $ 15,428 to $ 10,800 after the rebate is applied—but keep in mind its value is dropping and the credit could be completely gone by the early 2020s. Consult your contractor about this and other available credits and incentives to ensure your investment in the long-term value of your property is as easy on your current assets as possible.

That’s why you’ll want to find a contractor you can trust—a local professional who can get the job done and assist you with navigating local policy and regulation. The Modernize Contractor Checklist will help you vet a trusted contractor, so you can relax knowing your solar panel project is in good hands.

The post Utah: A Guide to Residential Solar Energy appeared first on Modernize.

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BEST DEAL UPDATE:

Five Warning Signs of Serious Plumbing Concerns

As a homeowner, you’ve probably handled your
share of inconvenient plumbing messes. From cleaning toys of the toilet
to waking up to a cold shower, there are plenty of situations that an
experienced repair person can resolve on their own. However, there are
several situations that should lead you to call in an expert. It isn’t
always the work that’s complicated but the potential for hidden dangers
that is the difference between DIY and professional repairs.

1. Slow-Moving Drains

These early warning signs could be an indication of a simple clog to
pipes that are full of buildup. There may even be trouble with the
grading of the drainage system. Don’t underestimate the amount of
trouble that could be hiding within your plumbing system. Worn pipes,
deeply buried clogs, tree roots, and similar situations could become
very expensive if they aren’t spotted in their early stages.

2. Frequently-Occurring Clogs

There are several drains throughout the home that are easily clogged
when hair, pasta, and inappropriate items are washed into the pipes. You
can avoid a lot of trouble by monitoring what goes into the drains and with consistent maintenance.
If, however, you are constantly working on a clogged drain in the
shower, it’s time to call a professional. It may be that you just aren’t
getting the entire clog, or maybe there is trouble further down the
line.

3. Multiple Drains Clogged at Once

If, one day, you realize that the kitchen sink is clogged and so are
the sinks and tubs in the bathroom, don’t waste any time in contacting a
plumber. These clogs indicate that something is going on deep within
the drain system. Neither plungers nor chemicals can reach that far, and
chemical drain cleaners may actually cause further damage.

4. Bad Smells

The unpleasant odors associated with sewer systems should never come
from any of the drains in your home. If you do notice any of these
smells, there may be debris and pollutants built up causing the stink,
or there could be broken sewer pipes. In a worst-case scenario, there
may be problems forcing sewage back into your home.

5. Overflows and Flooding

These are probably some of the worst situations you can face with
your plumbing system. Whether there’s standing water in the basement
near a floor drain or water gushing from a toilet, the potential for
damages is high. Act quickly to avoid contact with contaminated water.
First, turn off the main water supply to the home. Second, contact a
professional who is qualified to provide drain repair services.

There are plumbing situations you can probably handle on your own.
When you recognize early warning signs of trouble, don’t take chances.
Calling a professional at the right moment could help you prevent much
more expensive cleanup and repairs.

The post Five Warning Signs of Serious Plumbing Concerns appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

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The 6 Best Home Improvements You Can Make in Allergy Season

Prepare yourself for seasonally elevated pollen counts as well as all-year-long allergy triggers like dust and mold by taking care of a few home maintenance tasks and adding some useful equipment to your shopping list.

The following article is paid advertising created in partnership with SupplyHouse. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.

Bob Vila : Trusted Home Renovation & Repair Expert

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New York: A Guide to Residential Solar Energy

In early 2019, New York state governor Andre Cuomo unveiled an ambitious plan to push the state into new clean energy heights, aiming to become completely carbon-neutral by 2040.

“This plan can bring massive economic and environmental benefits to communities throughout the state, spurring many new, well-paying jobs and cleaner air,” said Sean Gallagher, vice president of state affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) in a statement about the plan. And while jobs and development are great for the state, it’s been seeing dramatically positive growth in other aspects.

An April 2019 report from real estate site Zillow has found that homes with solar panels sell for 4.1 percent more than they would without them.

“Of the metropolitan areas included in the analysis, homeowners who stand to gain the most from solar panel installation include those New York,” reported CNN’s MONEY site, adding that the state saw a “5.4 percent, or a $ 23,989 premium on a $ 440,400 home.”

As of the end of 2018, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) ranked the state 10th in the country — 1.4 percent of the state’s energy comes from solar. Additionally, SEIA ranks Massachusetts sixth in the nation in projecting its growth over the next five years.

The solar panel systems and installation market in New York has exploded since 2014. Chart via the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Indeed, increased competition in the state since 2014—and the nature of the market on a national scale—means residents are primed for home value increases if they install solar panels in New York. And when it comes to home value, researchers project the value of a home increases up to $ 15,000 on average, according to the Berkley Lab, one of the federal government’s national renewable energy laboratories. That doesn’t even take into consideration the massive savings solar paneling affords homeowners—or seasonal price fluctuations that make winter a possibly perfect time for your solar home improvement project.

Like every other state, New York has a unique set of incentives, benefits, and challenges when it comes to investing in solar panels for houses. Read our residential guide to understand what you should know as a homeowner as you look for the best contractor to install solar panel systems for yet another resource the Empire State is famously wealthy in.

A well-informed and reliable contractor will go over each detail of your installation with you, from expected savings to increases in home value. At Modernize, we frequently speak to homeowners about their home improvement projects. In our recent interviews, 90 percent of homeowners requested a checklist to help them find and vet contractors. Modernize now offers homeowners a free, digital Contractor Checklist as a simple, step-by-step guide to assist with your solar panel project.

Endicott, NY: Solar Energy Success Stories

In bad years, the solar panels on Terry Woodnorth’s 90-year-old home supply two-thirds of the electricity he needs. In a good year, it covers 96 percent of what he needs.

“This may be the only Endicott-Johnson home running on solar energy,” Woodnorth says about the virtual neutrality his electricity needs have reached. “This has to be one of the most energy-efficient houses around.” While he still pays a $ 16 service charge to his electricity provider, he told USA Today that his bills are “a mere fraction of what they were when he bought the house more than 30 years ago, even with the large demands of heating, cooling and his Honda Clarity plug-in electric hybrid car.”

Indeed, solar panels have a sizeable effect on utility bills. New York residents can expect to save nearly close to $ 17,000 over 20 years. This data serves as guidance for your journey to home improvement. Use it during your conversation with contractors in your area. Ask for this level of detail in your estimates and if jargon or complex wording seems confusing, ask for clarification.

A trusted contractor will be glad for the opportunity to explain what everything means and, more importantly, what it specifically means to you. When it comes to New York’s solar energy, existing financial incentives (and policy) only make it more lucrative for you to sustainably increase your property value.

New York Solar Panels: Incentives, Rebates, and Other Savings

There are currently nearly more than 100 incentives for homeowners to increase the value of their property by installing solar panels for houses in New York. Find details about each program at the state’s Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE).

Solid contractors installing solar panels in New York will be able to provide a list of applicable costs savings measures and help you navigate applying for and getting the most out of them. Learn enough to have a foundational understanding of these programs to best talk to your contractor about them once you’ve vetted and chosen one.

Residential Solar Tax Credit

Installing solar paneling for homes will increase property value for homeowners who have invested in their houses, and New York is investing right back in them. Each year, New York homeowners can get up to a $ 5,000 credit per residence, available to taxpayers who install solar panels for their houses. More specifically, you get 25 percent back on your purchase in the form of a tax credit, up to $ 5,000.

Find all the details at DSIRE’s profile for the program.

Other New York-specific solar energy programs include:

Of course, you want to get the most out of local programs as well as federal ones, like the temporary Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, which applies to up to 30 percent of your installation. It is important to note that this federal credit is for systems placed in service by 12/31/2019. Solar Energy International reports that a typical five-kilowatt solar system installation in September 2018 would’ve dropped from $ 15,428 to $ 10,800 after the rebate is applied—but keep in mind its value is dropping and the credit could be completely gone by the early 2020s. Consult your contractor about this and other available credits and incentives to ensure your investment in the long-term value of your property is as easy on your current assets as possible.

That’s why you’ll want to find a contractor you can trust—a local professional who can get the job done and assist you with navigating local policy and regulation. The Modernize Contractor Checklist will help you vet a trusted contractor, so you can relax knowing your solar panel project is in good hands.

The post New York: A Guide to Residential Solar Energy appeared first on Modernize.

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The Challenging Longevity of Pristine Knitwear

Knitwear that pills gets my award for most frustrating quality challenge. These days there is zero guarantee that knitwear won’t pill. I’ve bought designer and budget knitwear that pilled after a couple of wears. I’ve also bought designer and budget knitwear that’s pill-free after several years of wear. 

I used to think that a particular type of wool or fabric composition caused pilling, but threw that theory out the window after seeing too many exceptions. I’ve had 100% acrylic, merino, cashmere, cotton, and lambswool pullovers that haven’t pilled at all. I’ve had the same that have pilled awfully. I’ve bought fabric blends that have pilled badly, or not at all. It’s all terribly, terribly inconsistent. The only yarn that I can confidently say will pill after a couple of wears is cheap cashmere. Don’t buy it unless you don’t mind pilling.

Generally, most of my knitwear begins to pill a little after two to three years of wear. I take my wool-rich knitwear to the cleaners where they do a brilliant job of de-pilling the item. Items look pristine after their magic touch. I launder cotton and cotton-rich knitwear myself, and so far, the pills have been minor to non-existent.

I am extremely impressed with the following pullovers from my wardrobe that haven’t pilled at all. Not a hint of pilling, and I’ve worn most of them till the cows come home. Some of the items are new this year, and others are at least six years old. Most are at the two to four year mark, and looking good. My point is that the brand, price point, colour and fabric composition runs the gamut. From 3.1 Phillip Lim, Alexander McQueen and Bella Freud, to COS, Reiss, Boden, Ann Taylor, the Loft and the Gap. Fabrics range from 100% cashmere, merino and cotton, to polyester/cotton/nylon blends.

Bottom line: pilling involves more luck than wisdom, unfortunately. It’s important that my knitwear looks pristine for longer because it amplifies outfit polish and crispness. I wear a lot of knitwear and loathe pilling. So last year I came up with a personal knitwear purchasing strategy that’s working so far. I’m far less frustrated with quality issues, and can continue to enjoy my knitwear.

Here’s my strategy:

  • No more pricey designer knitwear despite how gorgeous it is because the possibility of it pilling after a couple of wears makes me too angry.
  • No cheap cashmere.
  • Purchase wool and wool-rich knitwear from a shortlist of brands who haven’t let me down in the past.
  • Freely purchase 100% cotton and polyester/cotton/nylon blends from a range of brands because the likelihood of them pilling is far lower.

I wish I could suggest a flop-proof way to purchase knitwear so that it won’t pill after at least a few years of wear – but I can’t. The best I can do is pass along info after I’ve road-tested the items and hope for the best. Taking good care of knitwear by laundering it properly also helps, but is no guarantee.

Over to you. Tell us about your knitwear pilling experiences.

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These 8 Home Makeovers Prove the Power of Paint

They say that first impressions are everything—and there’s no better way for your home to make a good first impression than with a fresh coat of paint. Better yet, a new paint job is a relatively quick and easy way to transform a space. If you need more proof of paint’s remarkable abilities, check out these 8 home makeovers in which paint played a starring role—then rush off to the hardware store to pick up some swatches and start planning your own home transformation.
Bob Vila : Trusted Home Renovation & Repair Expert

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Essentials for Outdoor Living

Our contributors share some of their favorite finds for outdoor living spaces.

Lights, Pottery Barn; Pots, CB2

I love a planter garden. This gives an opportunity to play with new ideas every season. Last year, I planted each pot with a different herb for a modern look. Of course, no garden is complete without string lights to set the mood for that backyard bash or intimate outdoor dinner. – Shirley Meisels

Light, Lumens; Pouf, CB2

Lighting can turn an ordinary outdoor space into something magical. In a garden or around a pool, this Pearl LED Lamp looks amazing when displayed in multiple sizes. I also love indoor/outdoor pouffes. They make great little side tables when you put a tray on top, or can be used as an extra seat if needed. – Christine Elliot

Keep your drinkware and cocktail supplies in one place with a bar cart that has a cooler/ice storage. Outdoor fabrics have also come a long way! Add color and interest to your outdoor space with pillows and cushions in interesting fabrics and textures. – Robbin Caskenette

Photo, Toja Grid

Protection from the elements is key! Enjoy the outdoors longer with covered lounging, dining and cooking areas. – Trish Knight

Stylish melamine plates that won’t break if a party gets too wild is a must. We also recommend stemless glasses that won’t tip on outdoor furniture which tends to be a bit less stable when placed on uneven ground pavers and grass. – Amanda Hamilton

I love to add a personal touch to my outdoor living space with decorative DIY projects that add a hint of whimsy. You can find some of my favorite DIY accents on the Marc & Mandy Show or online at www.MarcandMandy.com! – Marc Atiyolil

Treat your outdoor living space like a living room and don’t forget to add an area rug. I also love the look of palms and plants in an outdoor space to create an oasis. Put them in fun planters for a creative touch. – Karla Dreyer

A great feature in an outdoor living space is a concrete fire table. Available in gas or propane, these upscale campfires help you stay warm on cool summer nights and are ideal for after dinner lounging. When not ignited and combined with the cover, this table also functions as a coffee table. I also love a stylish insulated rolling cooler which allows guests to enjoy ice cold beverages outdoors! – Jillian Straky

The post Essentials for Outdoor Living appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

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Scrunchies: Yay or Nay

If you were a long-haired teen in the ’80s you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. A scrunchie is a hair accessory used to tie hair back into a ponytail, half bun, or full bun. It’s a regular hair elastic covered with scrunched fabric, which is how it gets its name. Scrunchies come in all colours and patterns. Some have decorative ties on them. Here are some examples.

I briefly had long hair in the late ‘80s and used scrunchies almost exclusively because they were easy to use, very comfortable, and didn’t damage my hair. You pulled them out with ease, and no ponytail headaches either. I occasionally sported a scrunchie on my wrist so that I could use it to tie my hair back at any time. One year, my favourite Christmas gift was a brightly coloured floral scrunchie. I loved scrunchies.

Scrunchies became passé in the ‘90s and ‘00s just because the so-called fashion-powers-that-be decided it was no longer hip to wear them. It’s silly really, since the scrunchie is nothing more than a very practical hair accessory. The oversized neon, polka dot and lamé versions of 1985 were a bit much, but a refined neutral scrunchie should become a timeless classic, much like a regular hair elastic.

I’m happy scrunchies made a comeback. I see long-haired men and women wear them fairly regularly in solid neutrals in my neck of the woods. It makes me smile because it strengthens the Individualism trend. In fashion and style, almost anything goes if you wear it with intention, confidence and verve. I have no use for scrunchies with short hair, but vote YAY all the way for others. Why not! How about you?

Slip Hollywood Hills Midi Scrunchies

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The 9 Easiest Plants You Can Buy on Amazon

Gardening is meant to be a relaxing activity that connects you with nature as you beautify your yard—yet crowded nurseries and finicky flowers can make the hobby feel anything but. To save you from frustration, we rounded up the easiest plants to care for that you can buy on Amazon. All are carefully packaged potted plants, so you can skip long store lines and cultivating seeds. The next time you’re stocking up on goods from Amazon add these foolproof plants to your shopping cart.
Bob Vila : Trusted Home Renovation & Repair Expert

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Exterior Lighting for New Homes

When it comes to custom homes, it is important to have a well thought out exterior lighting plan. You should enlist the help of an experienced electrician who can work with your landscaper to make sure your lighting plan is perfectly suited to your individual needs and lifestyle. When building a new home, you can save yourself stressful changes later on by having a plan in place for all your exterior lighting needs.

Safety and security are both important concerns to consider when planning your exterior lighting. Motion lighting for security, or pathway lighting to allow you to see where you are walking at night are examples of safety and security lighting. Of course, outdoor lighting can be both functional and aesthetically pleasing. For example, driveway, entrance, pool, cabana and pathway lighting can be designed for added safety while also illuminating architectural details. Accent lighting can also be used for purely decorative purposes, highlighting masonry and other exterior features of your home or garden. – Hotwire Electric, www.hotwire-electric.com

The post Exterior Lighting for New Homes appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

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Massachusetts: A Guide to Residential Solar Energy

New England might be in a region of the US less prone to sunlight ‚ but that doesn’t preclude it from being a great place for homeowners to install solar panels. As of the end of 2018, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) ranked the state seventh in the country — nearly 11 percent of the state’s energy comes from solar. Additionally, SEIA ranks Massachusetts 13th in the nation in projecting its growth over the next five years.

The solar panel systems and installation market in Massachusetts has exploded since 2011. Chart via the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Indeed, increased competition in the state since 2011—and the nature of the market on a national scale—means residents are primed for home value increases if they install solar panels in Massachusetts. And when it comes to home value, researchers project the value of a home increases up to $ 15,000 on average, according to the Berkley Lab, one of the federal government’s national renewable energy laboratories. That doesn’t even take into consideration the massive savings solar paneling affords homeowners—or seasonal price fluctuations that make winter a possibly perfect time for your solar home improvement project.

Like every other state, Massachusetts has a unique set of incentives, benefits, and challenges when it comes to investing in solar panels for houses. Read our residential guide to understand what you should know as a homeowner as you look for the best contractor to install solar panel systems under the sun keeping global educational powerhouses like Harvard and MIT universities enlightened.

A well-informed and reliable contractor will go over each detail of your installation with you, from expected savings to increases in home value. At Modernize, we frequently speak to homeowners about their home improvement projects. In our recent interviews, 90 percent of homeowners requested a checklist to help them find and vet contractors. Modernize now offers homeowners a free, digital Contractor Checklist as a simple, step-by-step guide to assist with your solar panel project.

Gloucester, MA: Solar Energy Success Stories

Once John Livermore to reduce his carbon print on the planet, he began a journey that would end with his house becoming “the first net-positive retrofitted home in Massachusetts and broadened the possibilities of household energy efficiency.” The massive success he found with his home led him to speak about it around the US.

“The difference in comfort, and energy performance, is phenomenal,” Livermore told Solar Is Workng. “We’ve never experienced such high levels of comfort in any house before … ever. It’s warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.”

Relying on state and federal financial incentives, Livermore lowered his solar system’s cost to less than $ 10,000. This system, along with other clean energy retrofitting, would come to save Livermore $ 2,500 a year in utility bills. But it’s not all about the money.

“Now we all breathe fresher air, it’s easy to keep good relative humidity levels in the house, and we get fewer colds and viruses -we’re all healthier,” he said.

Indeed, solar panels have a sizeable effect on utility bills. Massachusetts residents can expect to save nearly close to $ 17,000 over 20 years. This data serves as guidance for your journey to home improvement. Use it during your conversation with contractors in your area. Ask for this level of detail in your estimates and if jargon or complex wording seems confusing, ask for clarification.

A trusted contractor will be glad for the opportunity to explain what everything means and, more importantly, what it specifically means to you. When it comes to Massachusetts’s solar energy, existing financial incentives (and policy) only make it more lucrative for you to sustainably increase your property value.

Massachusetts Solar Panels: Incentives, Rebates, and Other Savings

There are currently nearly more than 140 incentives for homeowners to increase the value of their property by installing solar panels for houses in Massachusetts. Find details about each program at the state’s Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE).

Solid contractors installing solar panels in Massachusetts will be able to provide a list of applicable costs savings measures and help you navigate applying for and getting the most out of them. Learn enough to have a foundational understanding of these programs to best talk to your contractor about them once you’ve vetted and chosen one.

Residential Renewable Energy Income Tax Credit

Installing solar paneling for homes will increase property value for homeowners who have invested in their houses, and Massachusetts is investing right back in them. Each year, Massachusetts homeowners can get up to a $ 1,000 credit per residence, available to taxpayers who install solar panels for their houses. More specifically, you get 15 percent back on your purchase in the form of a tax credit, up to $ 1,000.

Find all the details at DSIRE’s profile for the program.

Residential New Construction Program

Since 2014, home builders could receive up to $ 4,500 in financial incentives if their constructed home met energy-efficient features that made it “more efficient than the typical home in Massachusetts.”

Find all the details at DSIRE’s profile for the program.

Other Massachusetts-specific solar energy programs include:

Of course, you want to get the most out of local programs as well as federal ones, like the temporary Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, which applies to up to 30 percent of your installation. It is important to note that this federal credit is for systems placed in service by 12/31/2019. Solar Energy International reports that a typical five-kilowatt solar system installation in September 2018 would’ve dropped from $ 15,428 to $ 10,800 after the rebate is applied—but keep in mind its value is dropping and the credit could be completely gone by the early 2020s. Consult your contractor about this and other available credits and incentives to ensure your investment in the long-term value of your property is as easy on your current assets as possible.

That’s why you’ll want to find a contractor you can trust—a local professional who can get the job done and assist you with navigating local policy and regulation. The Modernize Contractor Checklist will help you vet a trusted contractor, so you can relax knowing your solar panel project is in good hands.

The post Massachusetts: A Guide to Residential Solar Energy appeared first on Modernize.

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Peek Inside the Most Expensive Hotels in America

For some travelers, price is of paramount importance when it comes to booking a hotel. For others, money is no object; it’s luxury and pampering that count. If you’re in the second group, or if you just want a glimpse into the glam life that could be yours for upwards of $ 800 per night, you’ll enjoy this roundup of 10 of the most expensive hotels in the United States. While rates vary depending on category of room, level of amenities, and time of year, even the off-season is pricey at these luxury digs. The rates quoted here reflect the price of an overnight weekend stay in mid-June.
Bob Vila : Trusted Home Renovation & Repair Expert

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Fashion News Roundup: April 2019

Rent the Runway expands into children’s clothing, several new initiatives from H&M, and other style news that caught our attention this month.

Interesting Fashion Quote

I like what Katie Sturino of The 12ish Style says in her Week of Outfits post on Cup of Jo:

“As you can see, I like my colors BRIGHT. Fashion often pushes women — especially plus-size women — to wear black. Like we’re supposed to hide inside that lack of color. I have plenty of friends who do prefer to wear all black or all grey, but that’s just not my vibe. There is no destination when it comes to size. So often women live as if life will start when they lose 10 pounds or if they achieve a certain pant size. The truth is that if you don’t accept your body as you are, you will never get off the merry go round. I just wear what makes me happy.”


YouLookFab

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Low-Maintenance Ponds and Landscaping

In today’s housing market, a well planned landscape is pure gold; offering improved curb appeal and setting your home apart. Water features are a popular choice for new homes but it is important to keep maintenance in mind when designing a pond or water feature for your home!

Creating a low-maintenance pond and landscaping design ensures you will be able to enjoy the features without a lot of extra work. It also protects your future home value as high-maintenance features can make a home harder to sell. A well designed pond will be easy to clean and user friendly, reducing the work and costs needed to maintain it down the line.

Plan your landscaping around plants that can last from season to season and focus on greenery and rockscape to keep maintenance to a minimum. A shallow pond with gurgling rocks and not water plants is a great choice if you want a streamlined, modern look with very low maintenance! If you are going for a more lively pond with fish, take the time to invest in a design that accommodates the needs of the fish and offers the right filtration to ensure longevity and low maintenance. – Jordan Ninkovich and Robert Anderson, Fraser Valley Ponds/Cambie Water Gardens, www.fvponds.com

The post Low-Maintenance Ponds and Landscaping appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

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Not so fast: Trump’s Alaska drilling study slammed by U.S. wildlife regulator

The Trump administration failed to adequately consider oil spills, climate change and the welfare of polar bears in its expedited study of proposed drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, according to comments published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week.


Reuters: Environment

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Here Are All The Ways You’re Accidentally Ruining Your Tile

Durable, easy to clean, and available in many colors and shapes, it’s easy to see why tile is such a popular option for kitchens backsplashes, bathroom walls, and floors throughout the home. But before you get carried away on your next reno, take note that tile, a relatively low maintenance addition, does require some attention. Read on to learn some of the most common tile maintenance mistakes, and how to avoid them.
Bob Vila : Trusted Home Renovation & Repair Expert

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Weekly Roundup: Better than Basic

These items have been winners on my casual and smart casual clients recently. They are simple, but with design detailing that makes them more interesting than a simple essential. Most of the items are neutral, but some offer colour options.

  • &.LAYERED Tie Front Sweatshirt: This knit top looks cuter in person. Better than a simple tee, and less sporty than a sweatshirt. A little flirty and very comfortable. Available in neutrals and stripes. Might run a little big.
  • Frye Women’s Billy 70750 Shootie: A fab Spring shootie to lighten and brighten outfits. Great quality and comfy for regular volume feet. After a little breaking in, your feet will thank you.
  • Karen Kane Asymmetrical Twist Front Dress: A flattering and very comfy dress on those who can fill it out. Easy to launder and fab in motion. Comes in black and plus sizes.
  • Rag & Bone Mason Stripe Top: A nice ribbed pullover for cobalt lovers. Despite the stripes and high neckline, it works well on a larger bust. Lovely quality and fab under jackets. Comes in another colourway.
  • Finn Comfort Ikebukuro: An extremely well made and comfortable sneaker for high-volume feet and bunions that need arch support. The chunkiness has a ’90s integrity. Available in colours and patterns.
  • Boden Arabella Sweatshirt: A crisp and dressier sweatshirt with a rainbow party on the back as well as on the sleeves. Check out the back! Lovely fluid fit with a curved back hem. Better than basic. It earned a place in my wardrobe because it’s quite structured and crisp. It became an instant wardrobe workhorse with my tomato red jeans for very casual days. Comes in other neutrals and a polka dot.
  • Boden Sara Denim Dress: Dress this beauty up with heels and ballet flats, or down with sneakers and slides. Works on a straighter and curvier figure. Elegant length. It’s 100% cotton denim with no give or stretch, but it IS quite soft. Runs a size big, so might need to size down.
  • Boden Leonie Ponte Midi Dress: Super soft and traditionally flattering. Gorgeous on a curvy body type. I saw this dress on a US18 with a large bust, and it took my breath away. Elegant and playful. Comes in green. Easy to launder.
  • Boden Wren Biker Jacket: This item was restocked up to a US16 because it flew off the shelves the first time round. It’s a 100% cotton moto in a tailored fit with subtle hardware and BLUE. Unique, versatile, well made and flattering. Replaces a denim jacket.
  • Caslon Luna Pointy Toe Flat: A classic flat with rave reviews that can work on a higher volume foot. Lots of colours and patterns, of which the suede versions are the most comfortable.
  • Everlane The Chore Jacket: A trendy chore jacket with a good fit and at a good price. It’s more refined than the average workwear topper, thanks to fab fabric, flat patch pockets and streamlined fit. Comes in neutrals. Read the rave reviews.
  • Donald J Pliner Britini Sandal: A comfy ’90s sandal for regular volume feet. If you wear a lot of black and want a Summer update – try this sandal.
  • Madewell Flower Statement Earrings: Flower Power Statement Earring Fabness.
  • Madewell The Brady Block Heel Bootie: These are a repeat style because they’re very comfortable, hip, and look great on the foot. Best on regular volume feet. A great way to update for Spring and Summer.
  • Madewell Gingham Peplum Button Down Shirt: A masculine shirt with frilly charm. Lovely quality, fluid fit, and best on a straighter body type. Fun with white bottoms.
  • Topshop Tortoiseshell Long Sleeve Mesh Midi Dress: Mesh dresses are crease-resistant, lightweight, easy to launder, comfortable, and great for travel. This silhouette is structured yet fluid. Quite fitted on the torso and sleeves so you have to be okay with that. A little earthier in person. The lining does not go all the way down the dress, which makes it quite breezy, Might need to size up.
  • Madewell Hillside Daisies Peekaboo Sleeve Midi Dress: A fab ’90s inspired dress that works well on a curvier body type. Add combat boots, tough topper or long cardi, and Bob’s your uncle.
  • Boden Ayla Jersey Top: Super cute boho-lite jersey top that’s 100% cotton and super breezy, easy to wear, and pretty. Dressier and more interesting than a basic tee.
  • SCOTCH & SODA Scotch & Soda Smocked Shirt | Nordstrom: This is the best tie-front top I’ve seen and fitted so far. The fabric is gorgeous, and the fit is flattering on most body types. Substantial, and a quality piece.The diagonal sleeves work well on a larger bust. Great with skirts. Comes in white on the Scotch & Soda website.
  • SCOTCH & SODA Ruffle Sleeve Tie Front Cotton Dress: Emerald Green Shirt Dressy Fabness. The exuberant sleeves and front yoke detailing make it more than basic. Fab length and nice gently curved hem. 100% cotton.
  • SCOTCH & SODA Midi Wrap Dress: Gorgeous wrap midi with more coverage than the usual wrap dress. It has interesting gathering and ruching detailing that is more streamlining than you expect. Works on both a curvier and straighter figure.
  • Loft Peplum Open Hoodie: Super cute open hoodie with a peplum party at the back. Comes in olive and grey.
  • Loft Floral Embroidered Sweater: Chilly Spring Sweater Fabness. Runs a size big.
  • Boden Arabella Sweatshirt: A well made and ultra crisp sweatshirt that can be worn as a fun casual top with jeans. It has a longer, curved back that’s flattering.
  • Boden Isabella Lace Back Top: Much more interesting than a basic tee, if you enjoy wearing a pretty top. Check out the eyelet party at the back. Comes in colours on the Boden website. White is quite opaque.
  • J.Crew Garment-dyed hoodie sweatshirt: The tapered hem on this hoodie makes it look a lot more crisp and tidy than a regular sweatshirt. I styled it with white pearls, a pastel floral raincoat, cropped jeans and pink sneaks for a client last week, and she loved her refreshed look. We pulled the hood out and draped it over the collar of the raincoat. Looking casually swish in 2019.

Go to the collection page if you would like to see the images alongside my descriptions.

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Transform Your Backyard

Why didn’t I think of that? We’ve compiled some ideas to help transform your backyard into an outdoor oasis!

We love the advancements in design and patterns in outdoor rugs. We are now finding exterior area rugs that reflect the styles, colors and prints that we have been enjoying for years indoors. – HomeSense, www.homesense.ca

A great way to organize your gardening tools is with the addition of a bar cart in your backyard. It creates a movable work surface where you can work on your potted plants without having to bend over. – HomeSense, www.homesense.ca

If you are looking for an architectural feature in your backyard, look no further than this low-maintenance pergola. The ten feet by ten feet structure never needs to be stained or painted and makes a great centrepiece for your backyard. – The Home Depot, www.homedepot.ca

Give your concrete balcony a makeover with this RUNNEN Decking from IKEA! It’s a great way to personalize your balcony area and give it a warm, backyard feel. – IKEA, www.ikea.ca

We love these Porcelain pavers as they offer a trendy interior-looking alternative to stone or concrete. They are the perfect blend of style and function and are a great addition to any backyard. – The Home Depot, www.homedepot.ca

The post Transform Your Backyard appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

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Rental Regret: What Real Homeowners Wish They’d Known Before Renting Out Their Properties

There are plenty of good reasons to rent out your home rather than sell. Maybe you’re upgrading to a bigger house and are counting on reliable rent from your existing one, or maybe you’re taking on a job in a new city but aren’t yet ready to commit to a permanent move. Whatever your reasons for renting out your house, be sure you understand the potential pitfalls—and how to avoid them—before you assume the role of landlord. Take a few lessons from these homeowners who rented out their houses and are eager to share what they learned along the way.
Bob Vila : Trusted Home Renovation & Repair Expert

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Outfit Formula: Long Shorts and Sandals

Shorts in all sorts of lengths, fabrics, colours, patterns and silhouettes are more on-trend than ever. In my experience with my clientele and what I see on the street, most enjoy wearing shorts that are mid-thigh length or shorter, especially in the US. Personally, I prefer the look of shorts when they’re a little longer, with lengths ranging from right above the kneecap to just below the kneecap like in the outfits shown here. Some call these longer shorts bermudas.

There is no right or wrong length, but simply your preferences and comfort levels. Shorter shorts might be your thing, or you may enjoy showcasing your legs. For those who like to wear longer shorts, there are plenty to choose from this season.

Here are some casual and dressy looks with longer shorts and Summer sandals. The leg silhouette can taper or flare out. Feel free to use any colour palette.

1. White Shorts & Denim Jacket

White denim looks great with pastels and blue denim. Combine a pastel top with white shorts in cotton or denim and top things off with a blue denim jacket. Finish off the look with white, metallic, tan, or pearl grey sandals.

Lane Bryant Chino Bermuda Short

2. Bermudas & Blazer

Crisp and dressy blazers can create a fun juxtaposition with denim shorts, which can be mildly or hectically distressed. Add a layering top and sandals, and you’re done. Here the white sandals pick up the white of the tops, but you can sport any colour.

Frame Le Vintage Bermuda

3. Elegant Fluidity

I adore the combination of fluid top with dressier shorts. The dainty flat sandals are the crisp cherry on top, thereby adding to the relaxed and breezy elegance of the outfit. They also pick up the white of the top.

Adam Lippes Stretch Canvas Bermuda Shorts

4. Dressy Charm

Combine a pair of dressy long black shorts with a dramatic and dressy top, and see what happens. The shorts are dressy because of their fabric, length and silhouette. The sheerness of the black top breaks up the expanse of the black, as does the embroidery. Finish off the look with a dressier sandal, slide, or mule.

SIMONE ROCHA Belted Feather-trimmed Wool-blend Shorts

I don’t wear shorts because I prefer to wear midi skirts, dresses and cropped pants when it’s hot. That said, if I were to venture back into wearing shorts, I’d wear the longer lengths that cover the kneecap. How about you? Do you like to wear long shorts, or do you prefer then mid-thigh and shorter?

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An Inside Look at Community Living

Photo Source: osoyooscottages.com

For an expert look at the benefits of community living, we sat down with Jody Curnow of The Cottages on Osoyoos Lake. The Cottages recently released their last hillside view lots and with home prices ranging from $ 517,900 to over $ 1.4 million making The Cottages Okanagan’s most affordable waterfront community. Jody not only helps future homeowners find the perfect lot for their new home, she is also a homeowner at The Cottages as well!

CANADIAN HOME TRENDS WHAT IS COMMUNITY LIVING?

JODY CURNOW Community living is a fairly broad term used to describe a variety of living arrangements but the one thing they all have in common is that they are based on the idea of a shared lifestyle and amenities. The Cottages is a gated community, designed to be the perfect mix of detached living and community living. Homeowners live in private, detached homes but enjoy a wide variety of shared amenities and community social events.

Wine Tasting Event at The Cottages

CHT WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE BIGGEST DRAW WHEN IT COMES TO COMMUNITY LIVING?

JC Community living offers the perfect mix of privacy and access to amenities. The Cottages is a gated community that offers its homeowners access to a private beach and marina, two pools and two hot tubs, a 7,000 square foot community center, a fully equipped exercise room as well as lush lawns and play areas that are maintained for you. These amenities are all located within the gated community. They offer a much quieter and more private environment than public facilities would, but they are maintained by the community staff, allowing you to simply enjoy them without the stress of maintenance and upkeep.

Photo Source: osoyooscottages.com

CHT WHAT SHOULD HOMEOWNERS CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING A COMMUNITY?

JC While the amenities and lifestyle of the community itself are key to choosing the right community, you should also consider the local area and what is available there in terms of shopping, health care, schools and entertainment. The Cottages feel like a private getaway and yet it is just minutes away from shops, schools, health care, hiking and biking trails, golf courses, snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing, a world class motor sport track, restaurants and wineries. Community members have easy access both to a variety of fun experiences but also to daily necessities like groceries or health care. These are important things to consider to ensure you can enjoy your new home without concern or inconvenience.

The post An Inside Look at Community Living appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

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Things I Never Knew Before Becoming a Realtor

Home buyers and home sellers often comment that real estate agents are overpaid, believing that they do little more than show potential buyers through houses, help them write contracts, and then collect large commission checks at closing. Many of today’s Realtors (members of the National Association of Realtors) had their own misconceptions before they started working in the field. Click through to learn a few realities about the real estate business that caught these Realtors by surprise.
Bob Vila : Trusted Home Renovation & Repair Expert

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Designer Space: Complementary in the City

Photography by Larry Arnal

DESIGNER, MARISA LUPO, OF LUMAR INTERIORS, TOOK THE COLOR WHEEL INTO EFFECT WHEN REDESIGNING A THREE-STORY TOWNHOME IN THE SUMMERHILL AREA OF TORONTO. The 3,100 square foot home features vibrant pops of orange and blue, against a backdrop of pragmatic neutrals. It includes four bedrooms, three bathrooms, and an elevator access to the uppermost floors. The homeowners, Tracey and Kathleen were drawn to this property for a number of reasons, including its likeness to a New York City brownstone. According to the designer, the recent empty-nesters were ready to embark on their next phase of life in the big city.

When Tracey and Kathleen first approached Marisa, they requested a contemporary look with a fresh color palette. “We wanted that wow factor,” explains Tracey. “Décor that flowed from one room to the next, leading guests to want to explore and enjoy the house with us.”

As such, the color palette was freshened up via new paint, and much of the pre-owned furnishings were reupholstered. “It was the homeowners’ idea to go minimalistic on the walls. This was on-trend and a great idea for smaller quarters,” says Marisa. “The pops of color came from their personal art collection, pillows, ottomans, and accents. Also, they had accumulated gorgeous artwork full of color over the years so this allowed the art to really pop.”

In the first family room, colorful throw pillows catch the eye, and eventually draw the gaze upwards to the stunning artwork, which encompasses similar hues. In the second family room, a gold-plated nesting table steals the spotlight. “The nesting tables fit together like a puzzle and are moveable – great for a small space,” says the designer. “I also love to mix metals, so the house is a combination of gold and antique silver metals. This makes things more dimensional.”

The theme of mixed metals carries on into the bedroom, where an antique silver chandelier with gold accents is suspended overhead. Besides the sporadic metallic elements, the rest of the room is subdued, featuring shades of white, cream, and light green to create a calming palette. Says Tracey, “Katheen wanted a master-bedroom oasis, where she could decompress at the end of the day after teaching a classroom full of Grade 6 kids.” He also notes that the master bedroom is Kathleen’s favorite room, while he’s partial to the kitchen and family rooms.

When asked where they saved and splurged in the space, Tracey cites the family room cabinetry, rebuilt mudroom, and garage as necessary splurges, given the property’s lack of basement and built-in storage. The couple saved by incorporating demo pieces from Lumar’s showroom, and by restoring many preowned furniture pieces.

Marisa goes on to note that, though Tracey and Katheen designed with their empty-nester status in mind, it was important for the home to remain family friendly. Nevertheless, the finished product is chic, urban, and perfect for the new chapter in their life.

The post Designer Space: Complementary in the City appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

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Weekly Roundup: Assorted Items

Spring and Summer collections are in full swing, and I’m happy to see longer length dresses, skirts with movement, and tops that don’t drown the wearer. Here are this week’s picks across an assortment of items, lifestyles and price points. 

  • 1901 Pleated Polo Midi Skirt: The most streamlined pleated skirt I’ve seen so far. It wowed me when a client combined it with an assortment of navy and white striped tops and white sneaks. SUPER cute and comfy.
  • 1901 Longline Cardigan: This long line cardigan has a uniquely voluminous back, and sharp white piping. Lovely fabric. Read the rave reviews.
  • ATM Anthony Thomas Melillo Pull-On Silk Skirt: This skirt looks better in person, and works best on a curvier figure. It can be dressed up tor down, and looks luxe no matter what. Gorgeous fabric and length. Elegant in motion.
  • Rag & Bone Felix Stripe Silk Wrap Top: A fab blouse for a curvier figure with a larger bust, shorter waist, and shorter neck. Wear it over slim or flared bottoms. Runs big and is very lightweight. Comes in solids.
  • Rag & Bone ‘Boyfriend’ Leather Belt: Teal Belt Fabness.
  • 1901 Tie Front Poplin Shirt: A shirt that works well over flared or straight skirts, or bottoms with higher rises. Fluid yet structured, and forgiving on midsection bits. Suits a range of body types.
  • Zella Ella Satin Bomber Jacket: Sporty Bomber Fabness. Fun back ruched sleeve detailing, and comes in bone.
  • Boden Silk Shirt: I’ve been off silk blouses until I tried this one because it’s a cut above the rest. Gorgeously luxe fabric and fit. The armholes aren’t too low, and the shape is fluid but flowing in a way that I don’t look like I’m wearing a tent. The curved hemline helps too. I’m wearing this blouse OUT and untucked over tomato red jeans which is atypical. The vertical integrity of the colour blocking is striking, and makes all the difference. Comes in a few patterns, and the length is quite long.
  • Gentle Souls By Kenneth Cole Lavern: Extremely comfortable and on-trend slides for regular volume feet.
  • PIKOLINOS Mykonos W1G-0757CL: The Sporty Sandal trend is alive and well in this less athletic version. Chunky in a refined way on the foot. Very comfortable and works best on regular volume feet.
  • Dansko Susie Platform Sandal: A fab slip-on sandal for wider and higher volume feet. Lots of arch support. Comes in black and tan.
  • Dansko Adrianne Sneaker: Lilac sneakers fabness for those who like cushioning insoles with lots of arch support.
  • Dansko Lou Ankle Strap Sandal: Teal Ankle Strap Fabness. Comfy and lots of arch support. Works best on regular and higher volume feet.
  • Reiss Joanne Check Stretch Cotton Blend Pants: Fun pants to dress up or down for work or play. Gorgeous quality and fabric in an unusual earthy Spring/Summer check. Lightweight. Nice mid-rise. Crease-resistant, and fab with cream, black, navy and mustard. Luxe fabric.
  • Vince Satin Silk Tee: This blouse looks better in person and on a figure that can fill it out. Good on a shorter waist, and works well on a fuller bust. The front slit detailing creates an architectural integrity that does not come through in the photo. Comes in four colours. Lovely fabric. Excellent dressed up with ankle pants and accessories. Drapes like a dream. Luxe fabric.
  • Vince Tossed Poppy Pleated Blouse: This blouse looks better in person and on a figure that can fill it out. Good on a shorter waist, and works well on a fuller bust. Crease-resistant and architectural. Comes in cream.
  • Boss Ivala Stretch Silk Blouse: This looks less tent-y and better in person IF you can fill it out with broader shoulders and a larger bust. Good on a shorter neck too. Comes in ivory. Sleeves can easily be shortened.
  • Reiss Colleen Polo Pocket Sweater: Gorgeous crisp and pretty piece that is badly styled here. It’s quite long and has a substantial welt, so it looks GREAT worn over slimmer pants and jeans. It’s not supposed to be tucked! More cream in person, and might run a size small.

Go to the collection page if you would like to see the images alongside my descriptions.

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5 Tips To Hire the Best Roofing Replacement Contractor

After a severe storm, filing an insurance claim to repair or replace your roof can be challenging. The goal is to repair or replace your roof as quickly as possible, but care should still be taken to find the most reliable and trustworthy roofing contractor for your project. This helps ensure that your home is restored to its original condition as quickly as possible.

At Modernize, we frequently speak to homeowners about their home improvement projects. In our recent interviews, 80 percent of homeowners found a contractor for the job through referrals. But it’s important to properly vet and research contractors before choosing your perfect fit, even if a friend or a family member personally vouched for them.

Here are some tips to keep in mind while you make the pick.

Understand Your Roofing Needs

A trusted contractor will be able to assess, identify, and explain potential improvements or upgrades to your home’s roofing. The type of roof you plan to have installed on your home makes a big difference in how it performs, what it looks like, and how long it will last. While you may want to repair or replace your roof with your existing shingle type, this is a good time to evaluate roof types.

Homeowners have multiple roofing materials available to them today with varying lifespans. Aside from their longevity, the different roofing materials each have their own characteristics—both positive and negative—that can have a significant impact on your investment.

Aim for the Most Reliable Roofing Contractor

To ensure a swift repair or replacement, a reliable contractor is key. There’s a lot to consider under the umbrella of reliability. In recent interviews, 90 percent of homeowners requested a checklist to help them find and vet contractors. Modernize now offers homeowners a free, digital Contractor Checklist as a simple, step-by-step guide to assist with your roofing project.

Here are some things you can do to ensure you find the best roofing contractor.

Ask for Referrals

A strong majority of homeowners approach all home improvement projects by first gathering referrals. Some of the most common approaches are:

Vet Your Options

One of the most important parts of your search is vetting different contractors and comparing their work.

  • Request quotes from three to four contractors in your area.
  • Visit the website of each contractor.
    • Is it updated and professional looking?
  • Explore the customer reviews for each contractor.
    • Are they mostly positive? Consider negative reviews and responses.

Talk to Your Favorites

Once you have a short list of your top choices, get them on the phone. A trustworthy contractor will appreciate an opportunity to discuss your project further, and a conversation allows you to get to know them. While you know best what you want to learn in the conversation, here are some questions we recommend you ask:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • How much experience do you have with roofing repair or installation?
  • What is your project estimate?
  • Can you provide a list of references?
  • Can you provide proof of insurance for personal liability, worker’s compensation, and property damage coverage?

Meet the Finalists

Meet in-person with your top contractors to review project-specific details and expectations. You can use Modernize’s free worksheet for homeowners to compare contractors. Be sure to bring up the following with each contractor:

  • Ask to see proof of insurance, which should provide their insurance company name, policy number, and policy limits.
  • Discuss who will manage warranty details and responsibility.
  • Make sure to get a fixed price before signing a contract.

Don’t Wait Until Your Roof Needs To Be Replaced

You certainly don’t need to wait for an emergency before creating a meaningful relationship with your local roofing contractor.

If you have a trusted contractor who has perhaps offered you an assessment of your roof or helped you learn the needs of your home, you will have less work to do when an emergency does arrive. It is always preferable to meet professionals and discuss the advantages of shingle types on your own time instead of under the stress of an emergency.

The right time to find a reliable contractor is now.

Be Aware of Warning Signs and Avoid Hidden Costs

As with contractors for any home improvement, some are not honest professionals. Before choosing your contractor for a fast roofing repair or replacement, be sure you can trust them and that their estimate is transparent and complete.

The best way to avoid scams is to choose a local, trusted contractor—someone whose reputation and reliability are central to their success. You can confirm this by checking their physical business address and validating their licensing.

Here are additional warning signs that can protect your roof replacement budget:

  • Avoid contractors who request the entire project cost, or large cash deposit, up front.
  • Avoid anyone who pressures you to sign a contract immediately.
  • Be wary of any outliers in your quotes. All estimates should be relatively similar unless the material type is significantly different.

When it comes to a roof replacement project, there are some hidden costs homeowners could be surprised with down the line. The best way to avoid these is to ask the contractor about them. Here is Modernize’s full review of the possible hidden costs in roof replacements.

Evaluate Roofing Contractor Quotes the Right Way

The best contractor is not always the cheapest contractor. And the best roof replacement quote isn’t always the lowest.

A recent Modernize survey revealed 63 percent of homeowners compare three to four contractor estimates ahead of a home improvement project. Evaluating multiple quotes helps homeowners scope their budget and encourages contractors to be competitive with their pricing. It’s important to understand your roofing estimates and why quotes may vary from each other. Before comparing your own set of estimates, see our guide Evaluating Contractors’ Roofing Replacement Quotes.

Comparing contractors is easy and effective with our free worksheet to help homeowners find the best roof replacement contractor.

No matter what you use to determine who will replace or repair your roof, it’s important you keep in mind that saving money today could cost you much more money later if the repair isn’t completed correctly. Quality, especially when it comes to your home, is a lifelong investment.

The post 5 Tips To Hire the Best Roofing Replacement Contractor appeared first on Modernize.

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Easter Inspired Planting Ideas

To honor both the Easter holidays and the onset of springtime, we’ve rounded up some buds and blooms that are perfect to decorate your brunch table with, to give out as favors to your guests or to use as decor. 

 

Plant-able Confetti 

This innovative idea makes for adorable place settings when sprinkled on your Easter brunch table, and creative party favours for guests to take home afterwards. Each piece of biodegradable confetti is embedded with seeds, so your guests can plant their pieces later and reap the rewards all spring and summer.   

Photo Source: botanicalpaperworks.com

Click here for more details and instructions.

 

An Eggshell Herb Garden 

Green thumb or not, this mini herb garden is simple to start even for the most amateur of gardeners. Eggshell halves provide the perfect pot to tuck your soil and seedlings into and so long as the shells are crack-free, you can be sure that no moisture will seep through onto your countertop.  

Photo Source: foodmatters.com

Click here for more details and instructions.

 

A Teacup Succulent  

These itty bitty succulents in itty bitty teacups will bring more than itty bitty joy to whoever sees them. Make them into place card holders by sticking tiny flags with names on them into the soil and distributing them on your table.  

Photo Source: yourhomebasedmom.com

Click here for more details and instructions.

 

Bunny Succulents 

While we’re on the topic of succulents, how about these bunny rabbit succulents?

Photo Source: marthastewart.com

 

Plant them in little wine corks for the perfect, pocket-sized party favour to send home with your guests.  

Photo Source: upcyclethat.com

Click here for more details and instructions.

The post Easter Inspired Planting Ideas appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

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Outfit Formula: Full-Length Flares & Sneakers

Cast your minds back to the ‘90s when bootcuts and wide legs were the look in bottoms for both dressy and casual. Flared silhouettes were full-length and worn with flat sandals, slides, mules, combat boots, square toe pumps, cowboy boots and chunky platform sneakers. It’s flares with sneakers that I’m highlighting today, because flares look fresh, and sneakers are the shoe of our fashion era. 

I like full-length dressy and casual bootcuts, bell-bottoms and wide legs with extra long hems that skim or almost skim the surface of the ground. I prefer the look with a front break line, especially when the footwear is flat. All pant lengths here look perfect to my eye. Luxurious, intentional, elongating, comfortable, and practical as long as it doesn’t rain.

Here are four ways to combine flared bottoms with sneakers. The sneakers are white because that’s the trendy benchmark, but feel free to sport refined or chunkier athletic sneakers in a colour that’s more to your taste. Use any colour palette.

1. Relaxed and Pretty

Combine FULL-LENGTH denim bootcuts or wide legs with a pretty top like an eyelet, ruffled or boho blouse, or girly cardigan or pullover. Finish off the look with sneakers and a dressy bag. Here, the white zips of the top pick up the white of the sneakers, which pulls together the look.

STELLA MCCARTNEY Wide Leg Jeans

2. Belted and Complemented

Combine a pair of dressy bootcut or wide leg trousers with a fluid tee or pullover. Tuck or semi-tuck the top, and add a belt that works with the palette of the outfit. Add white sneakers. Here the pattern on the sneakers matches the pattern of the belt, which creates a fun complement. Add a denim jacket, moto or blazer as a topper.

Boden Exeter Wide Leg Pants

3. Casual and Comfy

Combine a pair of casual bootcut or wide leg chinos with a pullover and sneakers and Bob’s your uncle. Wear the pullover untucked or semi-tucked. It’s that easy!

Anthropologie Sanctuary

4. Sporty Luxe

Combine a bootcut or wide leg trouser suit with a tee or top, and finish off the look with sneakers. The white top picks up the white in the sneakers, but you can wear any colour top. A patterned top with white in the patten would work well too. Or colourful sneakers with white soles. Add jewellery, watch, eyewear and handbag as desired.

ASOS DESIGN Tailored Check Slim Flare Pants

I started sporting bootcuts with white sneakers last year and like the combination because it looks different amidst a world of skinnies and leggings. I bought the toffee Sanctuary chinos and they’ve become excellent travel pants for long flights. I also pulled out my nine-year-old charcoal pinstriped Theory suit which is in immaculate condition, and had the trousers shortened to wear with sneakers. So I’m doing #3 and #4 already, and hope to do #2 , since I have my eye on those pants. Here are the exact items from my wardrobe. It’s wonderful to repurpose an old suit!

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Understanding Solar Warranties

You have done your research and have decided that solar panels are an excellent way to improve your home’s value and efficiency. But how do you protect this major investment? In the event of a product malfunction or a mistake in the install process, a solar warranty will keep you covered.

The solar installation, and the panels themselves, will come with several types of warranties working in tandem to protect your home and your investment. Here’s everything you need to know:

Manufacturer vs. Solar Contractor Warranties

The good news is that solar panels are well-known for being durable and reliable, and will generally function flawlessly throughout their lifespan. But in the unlikely situation of a problem, there are two broad solar warranty categories that will typically come into play: manufacturer warranties and contractor warranties. Together, the two categories should entirely safeguard your solar installation, from installation to parts and labor.

Manufacturer Warranties: Most manufacturers guarantee their solar panels will produce electricity and operate free from defects for 25 years. That includes the guarantee that their panels will be free of defects, and that they will cover replacement and labor should a product-end problem arise. However, be aware that those warranties differ from solar panel manufacturer to manufacturer.

Contractor Warranties: This type of warranty comes from your solar contractor, and it guarantees their workmanship on the installation. In essence, these warranties guarantee that a solar contractor’s work will cause no roof leaks or damage to your new solar panels. Both manufacturer and contractor claims are usually handled via your solar contractor, who will take the hassle of handling any warranty claims off your shoulders.

Also of note: more so than manufacturer warranties, solar contractor warranties are often negotiable to better meet your unique needs. And even if problems of workmanship arise after the solar contractor warranty has lapsed, a trusted contractor will usually provide certain support.

The Elements of a Solar Warranty

All applicable warranties should be available in detail for your review. These documents should list the problems and remedies that are covered in the agreement, the duration of the warranty, and how problems with your solar panels will be addressed. Though the exact terms of your solar warranties will vary based on your contractor and manufacturer, here’s a brief list of terms you can expect to see.

Equipment Warranties:

Each component of a solar installation will include a separate manufacturer warranty. Here’s what you need to know about each component:

  • Solar Panels- Should your panel fail due to faulty wiring, corrosion or warping, the equipment warranty will make sure it’s replaced at no cost.
  • Inverters- A solar inverter transforms the electricity your panel produces to be used within your home. In general, your inverter will be covered to last for about half the lifespan of your solar panels.
  • Batteries- Depending on your situation, your solar installation may include a battery system. Manufacturer warranties for a home battery system typically last for 5 to 10 years.

Power Production Warranty: Your panels will also be guaranteed to generate power throughout their lifespan. If your production rate isn’t what it should be, this warranty will kick in and the manufacturer should repair the panel.

Panels may be guaranteed on a linear scale, meaning they should produce an expected amount of power parallel to the same day on the previous year. Or, they may be covered under an annual warranty, meaning your panels will produce a certain percentage of their rated power by the end of each year after installation.

Installation warranty: The their trusted solar contractor can be extensive, with many steps for your contractor and their installation crew. Your contractor’s installation warranty will cover any roof penetrations or other damage to your roof caused by the installation crew.

Evaluating Solar Warranties

How do you know if a warranty option is right for you? The first step in evaluating a solar warranty is to read it carefully. As shown above, there are many aspects of a solar warranty, so it’s understandable to feel daunted. At Modernize, we encourage homeowners to review warranties with their trusted solar contractor, who can utilize their experience to answer questions, help explain the differences in warranties from manufacturer to manufacturer and explain any language that you don’t understand.

Here are a few questions to help guide the conversation as you evaluate your solar warranties:

  • How long is the warranty valid for? The scope of warranties often differs between brands and contractors. Find one that makes you comfortable that you’ll be getting all the bang for your buck in the long term.
  • What components does the warranty cover? Be sure to ask what parts are covered in your solar installation warranty. Ideally, all parts (including power production) will be protected.
  • Does the warranty cover labor? Similar to covering the various parts of a solar panel, a manufacturer’s warranty may not cover the labor costs of replacing a defective product. Your solar contractor may also have special fees related to labor in their warranty.
  • What situations would void the warranty? Solar system warranties can be voided if your system is mismanaged. Be sure to know what actions you can take to avoid that, such as making repairs yourself or failing to properly trim nearby trees.

As with many home renovations, finding the right contracting partner will be a big help in nailing down the specifics of your solar warranties. Let Modernize help you find the right solar contractor who can help you take the first step of your solar journey.

The post Understanding Solar Warranties appeared first on Modernize.

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Tips For Negotiating Cost with Window Contractors

Congratulations: You have done the research, the best windows for your home, and have chosen a window contractor after sifting through three or four estimates. Now it’s time to make your choice official and sign a contract with that window contractor, meaning it’s time to negotiate the cost of your final project price.

Replacement windows are an investment for homeowners. chosen a window contractor, depending on the type and brand. Homeowners can find the best budget for their project by negotiating the final contract price and terms with their window contractor. In the article below, learn helpful tips for negotiating cost.

Compare Multiple Window Quotes

Modernize recommends comparing three to four quotes ahead of your windows project. Be transparent about getting multiple bids as you meet contractors. Many businesses are willing to lower their bid or match competitor pricing. To ensure this is a fair process, provide each contractor with the same project details and chosen a window contractor to make sure you are making proper comparisons.

chosen a window contractor will ensure you find the most reliable window contractor for your project. Check their licensure and make sure they are accredited through the chosen a window contractor.

You may find a lower price with a less experienced contractor, but if something feels off about a contractor or business — go with your gut and be aware of scams. If a bid is too good to be true, it probably is.  

To help homeowners easily vet and find a trusted window contractor, Modernize has created a Contractor Checklist.

Purchase Your Own Window Supplies

Depending on the size of your window project, you may be able to save some money by researching and negotiating the cost of project supplies. Your quote should include the cost of all materials, and you can compare these prices to your own research.

Contractors usually use and leverage their supplier relationships to secure the best price on materials. While this has advantages for homeowners, if your preferred brand is outside of your contractor’s network you may want to shop around for the best pricing. If you find cheaper materials, purchase them yourself.

Get Clarity on the Warranty, and Ensure It’s Part of the Price

Warranties will also impact your quoted cost. Most installers offer manufacturer’s warranties that protect you from faulty equipment. Some might offer additional guarantees for the installation, as well, covering potential damage to your house.

Be sure the quoted warranty is clear in what it covers—and what it doesn’t. Additionally, use the warranty as a bargaining chip. A lower price should elicit a short length warranty and a higher price one that is longer. The particulars of your window type, brand, and your installation needs dictate these numbers more than anything else. Discuss them thoroughly with your contractor.

Take Advantage of the Off Season

Window replacements and repairs are highest in the spring and fall when the weather is nice. If your project is not urgent or an emergency, negotiate the timing to take advantage of “off-season” rates. Wait to have your windows installed in the summer chosen a window contractor when window contractors are typically less busy. Contractors may also offer additional discounts and savings during these slower seasons.

Your biggest friend in a window replacement negotiation could be a service like Modernize. chosen a window contractor to find out how we can help you.

The post Tips For Negotiating Cost with Window Contractors appeared first on Modernize.

Modernize

BEST DEAL UPDATE:

4 Tips for Having an Vegan-friendly Easter

 

Unfortunately, mainstream holidays tend not to cater to those with dietary or lifestyle restrictions, vegans being one of those marginalized groups that the holidays traditionally don’t consider. For vegan families celebrating the Easter holidays animal and animal by-product free, we’ve rounded up some alternative ideas. 

 

Opt for EggNots

Made especially for kids with food allergies, EggNots are ceramic, egg-imitations that can be dyed and decorating just the same as regular egg can. Also, they’re non-perishable, re-usable, and no animal products were used in the making of them. If you don’t want to splurge for this novelty egg replacement, plastic, wooden, or Styrofoam eggs could also work. 

 

Prepare a Vegan Menu 

Okay, so you won’t be having that notorious Easter ham but that doesn’t mean your meat-free meal won’t be delicious. Find some creative, animal and animal by-product free recipes here for your salads, sides, and entrees. If deserts are what you crave, find some scrumptious recipes here.

 

Shake Up Your Easter Egg Hunt 

Who says you have to use real eggs for your hunt – chances are, your little ones care less about what they find and more about the process of finding them. Thrill of the chase, right? Hide anything from toys, to non-dairy chocolates, to stickers or the above mentioned egg alternatives.  

 

Put Together Ethical Gift Baskets 

The PETA website is a great place to find animal-friendly ways to celebrate the Easter holidays, and there’s even a PETA Kids site that caters to your little ones. If you’re planning on throwing an Easter brunch or get together of some sort this April, send your guests home with a gift basket that has kind intentions towards animals. Some gift basket ideas include vegan lip balm, cruelty-free clothing, and accidentally vegan candy. Find more ideas here.

 

 

The post 4 Tips for Having an Vegan-friendly Easter appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

Home Trends Magazine

BEST DEAL UPDATE:

Understanding Solar Permits

Many homeowners expect to need a permit for large scale home improvement projects such as replacing a roof or adding an addition to a home. But in fact, obtaining permits for residential solar panels is just as important. When it’s time to add an energy efficient solar plan to your home, here is what you need to know about the process:

Permits Are Important To A Solar Panel Project

Substantial home additions almost always require permits, and solar panels are no exception. Solar panel permits, along with other residential permits, exist to keep you safe.

As noted by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, solar panel permits ensure that the installation meets safety standards, but they also serve as a paper trail for local governments to see what communities are solar powered.

Pulling a solar panel permit for impending work helps ensure that the work will be done according to code. In fact, most of the country requires it. Local jurisdictions usually require building or electrical permits before installing photovoltaic systems. Some regions will require both. It’s important to check with your local building department to make sure you apply for what you need before any work begins. Homeowners can also connect with trusted solar panel contractors for more questions through Modernize.  

With an ever-growing industry like solar energy, compliance rules are constantly changing. It’s important to pull a permit every time, even if a home already has existing solar panels.

Solar panel installation requirements vary depending on the state, local government, the system being installed and other factors — you can find out more about your state’s requirements by talking to one of Modernize’s recommended solar contractors.

If you want to know more about the solar panel options and the solar panel permit process, Modernize encourages you to visit the following resources:

Discuss Necessary Solar Permits With Your Contractor

The best way to make sure codes aren’t being violated is to have a professional solar panel contractor come in, assess the project, and figure out what permissions you will need.

This discussion should be had during your final contractor meeting, as noted in the Modernize Contractor Checklist. During that meeting, the contractor should be able to provide paper trails for their:

    • Project plans
    • Proof of permits
    • Proof of insurance

If You Are Attaining Solar Permits, What To Do

Because solar technology is still a new residential permit acquisition, the type of permit you’ll need to attain depends on the state you live in. In Nixa, Missouri for instance, the city council is looking to take solar panel permits out of the “miscellaneous” permit category and give it its own permitting category.

It is important to make sure you know what kind of permit you need in your city and how much it will cost. You can confirm what’s needed, file, and submit for solar panel permits with your local building department.

The Consequences Of Not Having A Solar Permit

Installing solar panels on your home without a permit can create larger issues down the line.  Projects lacking the proper authorization and documentation can lead to potentially dangerous situations. Permits ensure every step of the installation is uniform and documented.

As the solar industry continues to grow, it’s important to be vigilant in getting every planning stage right. Pre-planning the right way now might mean saving a lot of money later. Modernize encourages homeowners to discuss what permits are necessary for meeting local and countywide standards with their preferred contractor. This will ensure projects are completed carefully and safely.

The post Understanding Solar Permits appeared first on Modernize.

Modernize

BEST DEAL UPDATE:

The Components of Your Signature Style

The most important trend of our fashion era is Individualism. Fashion is a melting pot of sartorial choices, trends are no longer seasonal, and fads no longer exist. Fashion is more diverse, and more accepting than ever of all sorts of styles. Trends are becoming harder to define, and at some point they will be irrelevant. That’s why developing and milking the signature components of your style is as current, modern, and 2019 as it gets.

A signature style is a set of sartorial preferences that are recognizably “your look” and consistently represented in your outfits. They make your style distinctive. They amp up the PERSONAL in personal style, and make your outfits your own. A signature style can evolve over time, but might have elements that stay the same for most of your life.

A signature style is not to be confused with a style rut. When you’re in a rut you’re bored, tired and unhappy with your style and desperately want to change things up. The components of a signature style continue to spark joy, so you keep them anchored in your look for a long period of time. There is no need to change up your signature style unless you’re tired of it.

A signature style develops quite intuitively. Often it’s a case of building onto the same set of sartorial preferences organically over time until they become a strong part of your style. You can nurture a signature style so that it’s an overt part of your look, or you can keep things subtle. It’s all good as long as your signature style makes you happy.

Developing a signature style is an exercise in learning and self-discovery that has practical benefits. Style is a celebration of individuality that emanates from within, so the more you are in tune with yourself and your needs, the happier you will be with your signature style. The more closely your signature style reflects you as a person, the easier it is to maintain, and sport with confidence and verve. Identifying your signature style helps you edit and review your wardrobe, and plan future purchases so that you shop for the right items.

This type of self-assessment can be confidence-boosting and fun, so give it a go in the comments section. I’ll go first. Here’s how I describe my signature style:

Short blonde pixie, statement eyewear, white footwear, white pearls, and flats are probably the most distinctive parts of my style. White jeans, white tops, solid items in sour brights, colourful clothing combinations, Furla handbags, lace, gold watches, denim jackets, high necklines, longer sleeves, midis, naked nails, and a good dose of trendy classic are the other elements that I consider “signature” to my style. They anchor my look and make me happy. All of that is remixed with a strong desire to emulate a polished appearance with movement, and create dressier crisp outfits with ample structure that are still soft and pretty.

Over to you. Describe the elements that are signature to your style in the comments section. If you’re unsure, feel free to post the question on our forum and we’ll get you started. I’m excited to hear you describe your signature styles. Don’t be shy.


YouLookFab

BEST DEAL UPDATE:

12 Companies That Are Making It Easier to Produce Less Trash

It’s official: The world has a trash problem. Landfills are filling up, recycling is becoming more expensive and less attractive to municipalities, and a lot of trash is finding its way into our parks, rivers, oceans—even our drinking water. When trash is dumped in the landfill, it emits methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change, and when trash is incinerated it emits carbon and toxins that cause health problems. Many regions are running out of space to store all their trash, so they’re shipping it to far-off locations around the country and around the world. That method of trash disposal has worked relatively well for the regions dumping their trash, but it’s caused problems for the people who live where the trash ends up. Yes, whichever way you slice it, that ever mounting pile of trash will keep causing problems if we don’t take charge of the situation. For decades, municipal ordinances and business practices have made it difficult for ordinary consumers to effectively and easily reduce the amount of waste they generate. Convenience products and tempting time-savers have flooded the market and it’s understandable why they’ve become popular fixtures in the average American home. Unfortunately for the health of humans, animals, and plants, those convenience items come at an environmental cost. But the tides are turning: More than ever, consumers are eager to simplify their lives and explore sustainable living that brings health, balance, and cost-savings to their lives, while at the same time minimizing waste. And there are a number of companies making it easier than ever to live a sustainable life. Scroll through to learn how several companies are helping ordinary people make healthy choices for their home, their family, and their planet.
Bob Vila : Trusted Home Renovation & Repair Expert

BEST DEAL UPDATE:

5 Tips to Hire the Best Siding Contractor

Adding new siding to your home can significantly increase your home’s curb appeal and resale value while protecting your home from the elements. Home siding comes in an array of materials that offer varying benefits, all at various price points.

At Modernize, we frequently speak to homeowners about their home improvement projects. In our recent interviews, 80 percent of homeowners found a contractor for the job through referrals. But it’s important to properly vet and research contractors before choosing your perfect fit, even if a friend or a family member personally vouched for them.

Here are some tips to keep in mind while you make the pick.

Understand Your Siding Needs

Like any home renovation project, the siding installation process will vary depending on your home’s unique attributes. A trusted contractor will be able to assess, identify, and explain potential improvements or upgrades to your home’s siding. The type of siding you plan to have installed on your home makes a big difference in how it performs, what it looks like, and how long it will last. While you may want to simply repair or replace your siding, this is a good time to evaluate all siding types.

Homeowners have multiple siding types available to them today with varying lifespans. Aside from their longevity, the different siding materials each have their own characteristics that can have a significant impact on your investment.

Aim for the Most Reliable Siding Contractor

To ensure a swift repair or replacement, a reliable contractor is key. There’s a lot to consider under the umbrella of reliability. In recent interviews, 90 percent of homeowners requested a checklist to help them find and vet contractors. Modernize now offers homeowners a free, digital Contractor Checklist as a simple, step-by-step guide to assist with your siding project.

Here are some things you can do to ensure you find the best siding contractor.

Ask for Referrals

A strong majority of homeowners approach all home improvement projects by first gathering referrals. Some of the most common approaches are:

  • Asking trusted sources (friends, family, and neighbors).
  • Contacting your local Better Business Bureau.
  • Connecting with trusted siding contractors in your area with Modernize.

Vet Your Options

One of the most important parts of your search is vetting different contractors and comparing their work.

  • Request quotes from three to four contractors in your area.
  • Visit the website of each contractor.
    • Is it updated and professional looking?
  • Explore the customer reviews for each contractor.
    • Are they mostly positive? Consider negative reviews and responses.

Talk to Your Favorites

Once you have a short list of your top choices, get them on the phone. A trustworthy contractor will appreciate an opportunity to discuss your project further, and a conversation allows you to get to know them. While you know best what you want to learn in the conversation, here are some questions we recommend you ask:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • How much experience do you have with siding repair or replacement?
  • What is your project estimate?
  • Can you provide a list of references?
  • Can you provide proof of insurance for personal liability, worker’s compensation, and property damage coverage?

Meet the Finalists

Meet in-person with your top contractors to review project-specific details and expectations. You can use Modernize’s free worksheet for homeowners to compare contractors. Be sure to bring up the following with each contractor:

  • Ask to see proof of insurance, which should provide their insurance company name, policy number, and policy limits.
  • Discuss who will manage warranty details and responsibility.
  • Make sure to get a fixed price before signing a contract.

Don’t Wait Until Your Siding Needs To Be Replaced

You certainly don’t need to wait for an emergency before creating a meaningful relationship with your local siding contractor.

If you have a trusted contractor who has perhaps offered you an assessment of your siding or helped you learn the needs of your home, you will have less work to do when an emergency does arrive. It is always preferable to meet professionals and discuss the advantages of siding types on your own time instead of under the stress of an emergency.

The right time to find a reliable contractor is now.

Be Aware of Warning Signs and Avoid Hidden Costs

As with contractors for any home improvement, some are not honest professionals. Before choosing your contractor for a fast siding repair or replacement, be sure you can trust them and that their estimate is transparent and complete.

The best way to avoid scams is to choose a local, trusted contractor—someone whose reputation and reliability are central to their success. You can confirm this by checking their physical business address and validating their licensing.

Here are additional warning signs that can protect your siding replacement budget:

  • Avoid contractors who request the entire project cost, or large cash deposit, up front.
  • Avoid anyone who pressures you to sign a contract immediately.
  • Be wary of any outliers in your quotes. All estimates should be relatively similar unless the material type is significantly different.

Evaluate Siding Contractor Quotes the Right Way

The best contractor is not always the cheapest contractor. And the best siding replacement quote isn’t always the lowest.

A recent Modernize survey revealed 63 percent of homeowners compare three to four contractor estimates ahead of a home improvement project. Evaluating multiple quotes helps homeowners scope their budget and encourages contractors to be competitive with their pricing. It’s important to understand your siding estimates and why quotes may vary from each other. Before comparing your own set of estimates, see our guide Evaluating Contractors’ Siding Replacement Quotes.

Comparing contractors is easy and effective with our free worksheet to help homeowners find the best siding replacement contractor.

No matter what you use to determine who will replace or repair your siding it’s important you keep in mind that saving money today could cost you much more money later if the project isn’t completed correctly. Quality, especially when it comes to your home, is a lifelong investment.

The post 5 Tips to Hire the Best Siding Contractor appeared first on Modernize.

Modernize

BEST DEAL UPDATE:

How To Ensure a Quick Sale in a Competitive Market

Spring is the busiest season in the real estate market and in some areas, it can be quite a competitive time to sell your home with more homes on the market and more buyers looking to purchase. With more buyers, this season can mean a faster sell and a higher selling price provided you take the steps to ensure your home is in move-in-ready condition to attract the right buyers and encourage higher offers!

Get a Professional Opinion

No matter how objective you try to be, the reality is that your view of your home is colored by your own experiences, your personal style and your lifestyle needs which may not match the needs of your prospective buyer. Enlist the help of your realtor and a professional home stager. They can give you insight into the type of buyer that will be interested in your neighborhood, suggest updates and styles that will appeal to that audience and point out flaws that you may have overlooked but that potential buyers will notice.

Focus On Key Areas

There are some areas of the home that will affect the resale of your home more then others. Curb appeal – or the exterior of the home – is a good place to start. If your home looks outdated, dirty or in need of repair, you likely won’t make it past the initial drive-by, let along score a viewing with most buyers. Replace or repair damaged siding, windows, shingles and the like. Clean up the yard and outdoor living spaces. Apply a fresh coat of paint in a modern color to the exterior and any outbuildings, decks, fences or other structures if needed.

With your curb appeal intact, the next step is to ensure the interior of your home is ready to impress as well. It is important to stage each room: a fresh coat of paint in a neutral color, de-cluttering, proper furniture placement and the like can make a huge difference without a huge cost.

The two rooms in the house that should get the most of your attention and budget are the kitchen and bathrooms. If these areas are out of date or need repairs, potential buyers will see that as a major expense and a lot of work. Ensuring these rooms are up to date with modern styles and popular features is an important step to ensure your home stands out and receives top offers. If funding those types of updates out of pocket isn’t an option, a home equity loan can allow you to access the funds to complete the updates and then pay back the balance once the home sells.

Don’t Hide… Repair

It can be tempting to hide defects instead of repairing them. From placing a potted plant over a stain in the carpet to hiding structural issues from potential buyers, it’s always better to do the work in advance. Hiding larger problems like a cracked foundation or a broken central air unit can result in legal action and huge costs for you later on and hiding smaller things like stains or broken items is often ineffective. Potential buyers can be very picked, looking inside drawers, closets, cabinets, under furniture and more. Finding one small hidden problem will tell that that they may find many more that they haven’t seen yet and will actually lower their perceived value of your home. It is always better to repair before you list and if funding is an issue, this is another situation where a home equity loan can be the answer, allowing you to sell your home for a higher value and potentially saving you from legal issues down the road.

Avoid High Maintenance Features

Not all updates are considered equal. While updating your kitchen or bathroom to a more modern style will help increase the value of your home, here are some updates that will actually make it harder to sell. In particular, updates that require a lot of time or cost to maintain and aren’t common to the neighborhood should be avoided. For example, if you live in a neighborhood where every home has a pool, chances are potential buyers will be looking for one. But, if you live in a neighborhood where a pool isn’t common place, potential buyers may be turned off by the cost of maintaining a pool and this can actually hurt the ability to sell your home quickly! If you’re not sure, speak to your real estate agent or home stager before undertaking costly updates to ensure they will offer a good return on investment.

The post How To Ensure a Quick Sale in a Competitive Market appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

Home Trends Magazine

BEST DEAL UPDATE:

Understanding Roof Permits

Whether you decide to opt for metal, asphalt, or solar shingles, all roof installations share this commonality: the work will need a permit. Whether it is time to do a repair or a full-blown replacement, roofing permits are a crucial step in the roofing process. Here’s what you need to know ahead of your project.

Permits Are Essential To Roof Work

Roofing permits exist to keep you, as well as others involved, safe. Any home renovation project that alters a building’s structure, use, or could create a hazardous working condition will require a permit. And roof work is no exception.

Here’s a look at what home improvement projects need and don’t need roof permits:

Project Do I Need A Permit?
Roofing a new home Yes
Replacing an old roof Yes
Altering a home’s roofline (ex. changing a slope) Yes
Changing the material to tile a roof Yes
Large roof repairs, exceeding one roofing square (100 square feet) Yes
Small roof repairs, less than one roofing square (100 square feet) No

As noted in Modernize’s Roofing Contractor Checklist, homeowners should verify if their roof project requires a permit or not with their contractor before any work is done.

If you still have permit questions ahead of your home improvement project, we encourage you to:

  • Ask trusted sources (friends, family, and neighbors) if they’ve been through a similar process.
  • Contact your local permitting office.
  • Connect with trusted roofing contractors in your area with Modernize.

Discuss Necessary Roof Permits With Your Contractor

As noted in our Modernize Contractor Checklist, it is important to discuss what roofing permits are being acquired during your final contractor meeting. Your contractor should be able to provide paper trails for their:

    • Project plans
    • Proof of permits
    • Proof of insurance

Ask your contractor about state and local laws surrounding roofing permits. Often, contractors are required to be licensed or registered with the state to pull permits on the homeowners’ behalf. You can check on a contractor’s license through the Better Business Bureau. Modernize always recommends that homeowners use a licensed and vetted contractor for their home improvement project.

If the homeowner chooses to file for roofing permits themselves, the best place to start is by going to their city or county’s local building department.

The Consequences Of Not Having A Roof Permit

Permits are a crucial part of the home improvement process, and moving forward in a roofing project without the proper documentation can result in penalties down the line. If code enforcement officials find work has been done without following due process, it could lead to fines and fees that the homeowner is responsible for paying.

Additionally, if you sell your home, home inspectors may see the gaps between a new or replaced roof or roofline and raise concerns to the lack of correlating paperwork. This could result in backtracking, hiring additional contractors, and (if necessary) fixing the work: this time with the appropriate permits.  

Whether it’s repairing a leak or giving a home a whole new look, roofing permits are an important piece of the roof work process. Make sure your home improvement projects follow local and county permits to ensure your home improvement investment is completed with the utmost care and safety.  

The post Understanding Roof Permits appeared first on Modernize.

Modernize

BEST DEAL UPDATE:

Thirteen Years of YLF

I was 35 when I started YLF, and I turn 50 next year. I can’t believe we’ve come so far, and I can’t imagine doing anything else. Helping people to find their personal style, solving style challenges, keeping up with an evolving industry, lifting people up when they’re down about their style, and striving for more diversity and acceptance in fashion, all feels like a calling. I feel I can do this forever because my experience and opinions evolve with each passing year. That keeps things interesting, and the topics fresh.

After 27 years of experience in the international rag trade, I have a lot to say! We haven’t missed a working weekday of posting in thirteen years. But YLF is not about me and my style — it’s about YOU and YOUR style. I do use myself as an example, and I have posted outfits in the past, but I’m not an outfit blogger. It took me two years before I even showed myself on YLF.

You are what makes YLF exceptional. You graciously share your wit and wisdom in blog comments and forum posts. Your thoughtful, compassionate, intelligent and insightful contributions enrich my life, make me grow as a person, and provide me with daily inspiration. From the bottom of my heart THANK YOU for the support. And thank you for helping me to spread the word that style is not an age, dress size or budget. It’s an energy and confidence that is expressed through what you wear and how you wear it.

I’d love to hear how you found YLF, and how long you’ve been lurking or participating. It blows me away when I think that some have been participating on YLF since its inception thirteen years ago. WOW.


YouLookFab

BEST DEAL UPDATE:

Understanding Siding Permits

Installing new siding on a home is a significant home improvement project— not just aesthetically but for a home’s preservation. As noted in Modernize’s Siding Replacement guide, the job is labor intensive and shouldn’t be taken lightly. This is why getting a siding permit is a crucial step in the process. When it is time to replace your home’s siding, here is what you need to know.

Permits Are Important To A Siding Project

Permits exist to keep you, and anyone else involved in a home project, safe. They signify that work is being done on your home and that it needs to be approved as structurally sound once completed. With siding permits, it’s more than just a fresh coat of paint or a new type of material — it’s about ensuring that your home is well protected from natural elements.  

Projects that alter a building’s structure, use, or could create hazardous working conditions require a permit. Of course, that doesn’t mean every home improvement project you tackle will need paperwork.

Do I Need A Permit? Answer
Replacing siding Yes
Replacing doors without altering the building’s structure No
Installing a new air conditioning system Yes
Replacing a sink’s faucet No
Repairing siding No
Installing a furnace (gas or electric) Yes
Covering existing siding No
Cosmetic siding changes No
Ductwork Yes
Changing a countertop No
Change in the design of heating, air conditioning or electrical Yes

Besides ensuring safety, filing necessary permits for home improvement projects means the homeowner will have a paper trail to break down the work that occurred. This is especially important if the homeowner plans on reselling their home.

With siding permits, a building department will want to confirm that new or replaced siding can withstand the weather and natural elements that face your location. Inspectors from your local building department will likely also look at how the material under the siding is being prepared. This helps ensure moisture won’t penetrate and potentially cause hazards like mold or rot.

If you still have siding permit questions ahead of your home improvement project, we encourage you to:

  • Ask trusted sources (friends, family, and neighbors) if they’ve been through a similar process.
  • Contact your local permitting office.
  • Connect with trusted siding contractors in your area with Modernize.

Discuss Necessary Siding Permits With Your Contractor

As noted in our list of 5 Tips For Negotiating Cost with Siding Contractors, it is important to discuss what permits are being acquired during your contractor meeting. Your contractor should be able to provide paper trails for their:

    • Project plans
    • Proof of permits
    • Proof of insurance

Ask your contractor about state and local laws surrounding siding permits. Often, contractors are required to be licensed or registered with the state to pull permits on the homeowners’ behalf. You can check on a contractor’s license through the Better Business Bureau. Modernize always recommends that homeowners use a licensed and vetted contractor for their home improvement project.

Consequences Of Not Having A Siding Permit

Permits are a vital part of the home improvement process, and proceeding without the proper documentation can result in penalties down the line. If code enforcement officials find work has been done without following due process, it could lead to fines and fees that the homeowner will have to pay for.

Additionally, if you sell your home, home inspectors may see the gaps between a new or replaced unit and raise concerns to the lack of correlating paperwork. This could result in backtracking, hiring additional contractors, and (if necessary) fixing the work: this time with the appropriate permits.  

Whether you plan on eventually selling your home or just want that peace of mind, pulling permits is crucial. It could also save you a lot of money down the line. Modernize encourages homeowners to discuss the work they want to do with a contractor and evaluate what siding permits should be pulled to meet local and county standards. This will ensure projects are completed with the utmost care and safety.

The post Understanding Siding Permits appeared first on Modernize.

Modernize

BEST DEAL UPDATE:

Understanding Window Permits

Replacing or adding new windows can be an exciting time for homeowners. But the process can also lead to a list of questions like “when’s the best time of year to do this?” or “is a permit necessary?” When it’s time to put in new windows, permits are an important step. Here is what you need to know.

Permits Are Important To A Window Project

Building permits exist so that you, and everyone else involved in the process, are kept safe. Window permits guarantee that a home has proper ventilation, that the window is accessible by first responders in case there’s an emergency, that a home’s weather barrier is maintained, and that the windows and installation are energy efficient.

Many state codes are mandating that new window installations meet energy efficiency standards. But besides minimizing a carbon footprint, those windows can save a homeowner money, too. The Department of Energy estimates that you can save up to $ 465 a year by upgrading to Energy Star rated windows.  

Pulling a window permit for your home’s installation ensures that the work will be done to code. If you’re replacing your doors or windows without altering the structure, you may not need a window permit. Whether a home improvement project requires a permit or not depends on a multitude of factors. Here’s a quick review:

Project Do I Need A Permit?
Replacing windows/doors without altering the structure Most likely no
Installing new floor coverings No
Installing new windows bigger than the old ones Yes
Altering a home’s roofline (ex. changing a slope) Yes
Changing a countertop No
Adding a skylight Yes
Installing windows in a new spot Yes
Small roof repairs, less than one roofing square (100 square feet) No

A good rule of thumb is anything that requires a hole to be cut is going to need window permits. This applies to skylights and new doors with windows as well. If the structure isn’t going to be altered, you probably don’t need a permit, but Modernize recommends discussing with your preferred contractor— just to be safe.

If you’re still not sure whether your project will need a permit, we encourage you to:  

  • Ask trusted sources (friends, family, and neighbors) if they’ve been through a similar process.
  • Contact your local permitting office.
  • Connect with trusted window contractors in your area with Modernize.

Discuss Necessary Window Permits With Your Contractor

As noted in our Modernize Contractor Checklist, it is important to discuss what window permits are being acquired during your final contractor meeting. Your contractor should be able to provide paper trails for their:

    • Project plans
    • Proof of permits
    • Proof of insurance

The Consequences Of Not Having Window Permits

There’s too much on the line when it comes to safety with window installation, and permits play a big role. Besides providing natural lighting, properly installed windows are vital for a home’s ventilation and accessibility. If a window is retrofitted the wrong way, it could lead to an ill-maintained weather barrier, which protects from water seepage, mold, and structural damage.

And of course, properly installed windows mean the chance to save money down the line when they’re energy efficient. Modernize encourages homeowners to discuss window permit options and procedures with their contractor to ensure safety.

The post Understanding Window Permits appeared first on Modernize.

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