Category Archives for "DIY"

Building a Smart Home – Where Do You Begin?

Even though it didn’t get too popular and mainstream up until a few years ago, the concept of a smart home has been around for a good while. Initially, the goal was to save on electricity bills and if possible, make your day-to-day life a bit more convenient. Today, with the smart home integrating with home security systems and automation devices in various ways, it’s something a lot of people want a piece of.

The thing is, if you’re one of those people, you have quite a lot of options out there. Some are good, some aren’t, prices vary wildly, and compatibility isn’t guaranteed. If you’re good with tech and research, you should be able to find your way around things, but if not, you might end up buying the wrong things. Depending on your budget, that might be a costly mistake.

To make sure that doesn’t happen, below we’ll discuss a few things about the smart home. We’ll talk about where you want to begin with building yours, and how you should choose your devices. Without wasting too much time, let’s go.


Choosing an Ecosystem

Similarly to how things would look if you were choosing your new smartphone or computer, with a smart home you’ll need to decide on an ecosystem. Not all devices are compatible with each other, and since the goal of a smart home is to have everything work with everything else, compatibility is crucial. While things are expected to change rather soon, and we’ll get a universal way of connecting everything, at the moment there are a couple of options.



One way to go about things is to go for Zigbee or Z-Wave. Both are communication protocols, and if you make sure all your devices support the same protocol, the devices will be able to communicate with each other. You still might need multiple apps for multiple manufacturers, however, so this is something to keep in mind.

The other option is to go for a smart assistant hub and make sure all the devices you buy are completely compatible with that hub. This way, you’ll be able to use your voice to control all such devices when you’re at home, and you can use your smartphone when you’re outside.

If you want the easiest-to-use ecosystem, you should go for Apple’s HomeKit. On the other hand, if you want the best compatibility with the highest number of devices, Amazon’s Alexa is the way to go. Google Home is somewhere in between, so choose what works best for you.


What Devices Should You Get First?

This is the second difficult question you’ll need to answer, is what devices do you start with when you’re equipping your smart home. Whichever ecosystem you go for, you should first get the hub. It might be just that, a hub, or it might be a Bluetooth speaker with the assistant of choice. But since that’s going to be your main control point for all devices, choose carefully.

Next, you either go for convenience devices or security. While some only invest in the smart home concept for convenience, security is a big part of the industry, so we would actually suggest that you go for security-based devices first. Get a smart lock and a video doorbell. It’s a combination that will not only limit who can enter your home, but also one that will give you an overview of your front door – who came, at what time, whether it’s locked or not, and will let you remotely lock or unlock it. Following that, get a few smart cameras, too. Those will usually come with motion detectors, and they’ll be able to make use of your smart home system to send you notifications to your phone when something happens.

After that, you could get a few devices that make your living more convenient. Get smart plugs that you can control remotely, or add a smart thermostat: Best Wi-fi and Programmable Thermostats or a smart carbon monoxide detector: Best Carbon Monoxide Detector – our top pick even has Alexa built-in!


Connect Everything

Once you’ve decided on an ecosystem and bought the devices you need, it’s time to connect everything. Note that most devices will require a 2.4GHz network, which is still more common than a 5GHz one, but it’s something to consider. Since your router and network are a gateway to your entire smart home, make sure things are as secure as possible – unique usernames and passwords, no access for unknown devices, separate guest network, and two-factor authentication where possible. Once you’ve done this and connected everything, it’s time to enjoy your smart home!



10 Hot Tub Enclosure Ideas

Once you purchase a new hot tub you need to find a home for it, and in some cases, a hot tub enclosure is an answer. Arguably the best and most challenging thing about hot tub enclosures is how you’re going to decorate it. There are so many factors to take into account: how beautiful does it look? Does it help you relax? What will your friends and family think of it when they’re there?

Apart from being a nice relaxing home feature, spa enclosures are also best to impress. It’s one of your many rooms that you can decorate your own way, but still keeping a peaceful atmosphere. Hence, this makes decorating it’s far more challenging than designing other rooms in the house.

Apart from being the most visible feature of your home to outsiders, it’s also vital that whatever you do to decorate the enclosure, will help you relax. That’s the primary reason why it got the structure in the first place.

There are certain popular styles to adhere to, but in the end, it still has to help you keep calm and de-stress. Here are a few suggestions on decorating your spa enclosure.

What is the best Hot Tub Enclosure for April 2021?

If you’re in a hurry, take a look at these Amazon Best Sellers. Otherwise, keep reading!

This product was presentation was made with AAWP plugin.

Stick To A Theme

Sometimes, decorating anything can get too overwhelming. You’re suddenly bombarded with a lot of ideas that may or may not work against each other. When this happens, it always helps if you just choose a theme and stick to it.

It can be anything under the sun, from popular design aesthetics, adhering to your interests, or even inspired by your favorite movie or TV show. There’s nothing wrong with incorporating a bit of fun in your spa enclosure, and whatever theme you choose, it should always suit you.


Keep it Minimal

Even when you’ve chosen the most elaborate theme, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go all out. Whichever theme or aesthetic you end up choosing, always keep it minimal. Minimal in terms of distracting design pieces, interior furniture, and many more. Remember that the star of the room should always be the main spa amenity, be it a hot tub, a sauna, massage chairs, and more. If the decorations distract away from the overall purpose of the room, it’s safe to say that they’re not fit for your spa enclosure.


Stay Neutral or Go for Pastels

It’s always a good idea to go for neutrals when it comes to spa enclosures. Medical institutions and professionals have stated that neutral colors are the most relaxing colors for the mind. They’re not too vivid and bright that they’s cause pain to your brain. If you’re not going to adhere to a specific theme for your backyard structure, then go for neutrals. For a daintier touch, pastels might also work. They’re also medically-proven to induce relaxation, which is why they’ll fit your spa enclosure as they do your baby’s room.


Color With Plants

When it comes to coloring the room, there’s one way to do so that will also freshen it up: putting in plants. Flowers of different colors, sizes, and scents make for a botanical bliss that’s good for the mind, body, and soul. The likes of lavender flowers and water lilies make for gentle touches of beauty while inducing some much-need aromatherapy for the relaxing part. And because of the oxygen that emanates from these living things, the air in the spa enclosure will be fresher and cleaner than ever before


Make Use of Curtains

Curtains will add a nice touch to your spa enclosure that’s both beautiful and luxurious. Some might even say that they also add a bit of exoticism. For your backyard structure, go for ones that are soft and semi-translucent. These are the ones that five-star establishments use for their own decorations. They’d block off too much sunlight without making it too dark for the enclosure. They also add a bit of softness to the ambiance, which is another feature that’s said to induce some relaxation.


Add an Exotic Touch

Speaking of exotic touches, it never hurts to add a lot to your spa enclosure. A Bonsai tree, for example, is a well-known Japanese plant that can also brighten up the enclosure with some botanical bliss. Some wooden carved dividers, on the other hand, from the likes of Southeast Asia, can ensure your privacy in the space but is also a nice decoration. There are loads of exotic touches, some specific to certain areas around the world, that you can add to your spa enclosure.


Incorporate Wood and Stone

Spa enclosures are usually in your backyard, outside your main house. Because of this, the decorations here are often of the woodsy and outdoorsy type. When it comes to materialization, wood and stone are the ways to go. Both are decorative mainstays in spas and resorts, and your spa enclosure isn’t any different.  Your entire structure can be made out of wood, while the floors can be stone for that relaxing walk. Additionally, you can also team the stones for a special spa-like treatment to really calm your nerves.


Save Space for Guests

Spa enclosures, while gaining in popularity, aren’t as common in many areas, For this reason, your friends and family might want to share in the experience of spending time in one. The structure is also a great place to host guests to a chill session of spa treatments or simply hanging out in your home. For such, you have to leave some space in your spa enclosure, don’t get too excited by decorating it with various pieces of furniture and what-nots that aren’t all that necessary.


Add a Fireplace

During winter, your spa enclosure can be another great room to stay warm in. And while the sauna or bubbling hot tub will help, it doesn’t hurt to install a fireplace there as well. Keep the backyard feature cozy and toasty for you, your family, and guests who’ll try it out. It doesn’t have to be big, just the right size for a pleasant rustic look while keeping warm in the winter.


Make It Homey

However, you choose to decorate your spa enclosure, always ensure that it stays homely. You may design it with the intent of impressing others, but at the end of the day, the structure is still an extension of your home. Keep it looking like an important part of your house and you’re sure to relax better in it.

Decorating your spa enclosure can be fun and easy. There are loads of ways into doing it, and you just have to know the right style for you.

Where is the best place to put a carbon monoxide detector?

Carbon monoxide poisoning kills thousands of people and is easily preventable! Maybe you’re moving into a new home, or you’ve gone through our review of the best carbon monoxide detectors and bought yourself a new unit. The next logical question is where is the best place to put a carbon monoxide detector? You want to find a place that will make sure the carbon monoxide detector is most effective, will keep you and your family safe, and won’t add an eyesore to your room.

Install carbon monoxide detectors in locations where you spend the most time

Ideally, you must have CO detectors placed in your home just like the number of smoke alarms you have installed. You must place a carbon monoxide detector in every major area of your house including the kitchen, dining/living room, office, and bedrooms. If you are living in a multi-story home, see to it that you place at least a carbon monoxide detector on every level.

Since people are most vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning effects while sleeping, it is crucial to place alarms near the bedrooms of your family. If you have one carbon monoxide alarm, place this as close to the sleeping area of everybody if possible. If you have elderly family members or children living with you, give extra protection near their rooms since they’re the most at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Install alarms in the highest risk areas

You’ll want to place carbon monoxide alarms near any sort of appliance that can leak or generate carbon monoxide. If your furnace is at the basement, see to it that you place a carbon monoxide detector there. If you have gas clothes dryers you should consider putting alarms in your laundry room. You should also place one in the garage if you always park your cars there. Wherever you have solid fuel-fired appliance, anything that might produce carbon monoxide must have a carbon monoxide detector

Avoid installing carbon monoxide detectors on the ceiling

Smoke and heat rise. This is the reason why people should place importance on installing smoke alarms on the ceiling or wall. However, carbon monoxide mixes with the air. Because it does not rise, it’s preferable to install carbon monoxide detectors or alarms at knee level, which is the right height of a sleeping person’s mouth and nose. For this reason, a carbon monoxide alarm with a single function is highly recommended. If you’re installing a dual smoke and carbon monoxide detector, place this on the ceiling so it may detect smoke. But we also recommend purchasing an additional single-function CO detector to place in your home and ensure you’re covered.

Find a place to avoid tampering

If you have pets or kids that could tamper with detectors, you can move these up to chest height. You may also place them in an area that is hard to reach where curious hands or overzealous tails would have a hard time reaching.

Keep the sensors unblocked

Keep in mind that a carbon monoxide detector must not be blocked by curtains, furniture or some objects because restricted airflow may affect its function.

Maintain your carbon monoxide alarms

Your carbon monoxide alarms are generally low maintenance, but they will need some attention. Thankfully when there’s an issue they’ll usually tell you! When they need attention they will chirp, when a carbon monoxide detector beeps it could mean a few things. First and foremost check the power supply. Your detector might be wired directly into the electrical system of your house, but most detectors have a battery that serves as a backup. These batteries will need to be replaced, in our home maintenance checklist we suggest checking the batteries quartly.

Another thing worth noting is your carbon monoxide detectors don’t last forever. The sensors used to detect carbon monoxide gas get less sensitive over time and can lose their effectiveness. Most detectors last 5 to 7 years, we recommend replacing anything older than 5 years old to ensure your family is protected in case of a carbon monoxide leak.


Home Maintenance Checklist

Your home is your biggest and most important investment. So, why wouldn’t you take proper care of it? Just like a car needs regular oil changes, keeping up with home maintenance tasks is a must. It is much easier to do your chores every now and then instead of having to pay for big repairs.

All these tasks can seem quite intimidating, especially if you are a new homeowner. Let’s face it; nobody wants to spend their day off pulling leaves out of a gutter. Or, even worse, nobody wants to spend the entire day figuring out how to drain a boiler. Good news is that you can do all the tasks on your own, even if you have absolutely no experience. If you get stuck, you can always use Google or call a friend.

In order to get all the tasks done and also maximize your efficiency, it is smart to create a home maintenance checklist. Start by writing down some regular tasks that you can do every weekend. To help you out, we’ve created a checklist that includes tasks that should be done monthly, quarterly, biannually. We also included some activities that can be done seasonally. Keep in mind that our you don’t have to strictly adhere to our checklist. You can take care of your home whenever you want and as often as you want. And, as long as you don’t forget to accomplish all of these tasks, your home will be in a good shape for years to come.

Monthly Home Maintenance Checklist

There are some tasks that should be done on a monthly basis. You can pick one weekend every month and turn home maintenance into a family activity by involving your children in some of the tasks as well.

  • HVAC filters – some experts say that HVAC filters should be changed every month. This is not absolutely necessary unless you have pets or someone in your family has allergies. In general, it is acceptable to change the HVAC filter every 2-3 months. However, what you should do is inspect the filter on a monthly basis. If the filter is dirty, change it. If it’s not, then leave it and don’t forget to check it out next month.
  • Kitchen sink disposal – even though this might terrify you, kitchen sink disposal should be cleaned every month. There are so many ways to do this, but the most painless one seems to be using vinegar ice cubes. All you have to do is put some vinegar in an ice tray and let it freeze. Then, simply run the ice cubes through the disposal. Not only will this freshen it up, but also sharpen the blades. Talk about killing two birds with one stone.
  • Fire extinguisher – let’s assume you have a fire extinguisher like every household should. Inspecting it doesn’t take much time. Make sure that it is easily accessible (and not block by boxes or something else), that the gauge shows proper pressure, and that the extinguisher is not damaged.
  • Range hood filters – if you’ve never done this before, then you’re in for a real “treat.” The best way to clean a range hood filter is by using a degreaser that can be bought from an auto parts store. Mix it with water, let it sit for a few minutes, and then rinse off.
  • Inspect all the drains for debris and unclog them if necessary.
  • Furnace filter – don’t forget to clean the furnace filter regularly. This will make it easier to regulate the temperature in your home and can even decrease utility bills.
  • Vents – make sure that no indoor and outdoor air vents are blocked. Also, check out the vacuum heat registers and heat vents.

Quarterly Home Maintenance Checklist

  • Common appliances – some appliances such as a smoke alarm or a carbon monoxide detector should be checked out on a regular basis. This is a fairly simple task since the majority of detectors have a “test” button. All you have to do is press it and wait for the alarm to sound. If it doesn’t, replace the batteries as soon as possible. If you get stuck, have a look at out our guidelines for checking your carbon monoxide detector.
  • Garage door – every now and then you should check your garage door, or, to be more precise, its auto-reverse feature. Start off by testing the photo-electric sensors. Place any object in front of them and see whether the door will go back up immediately. Then, place a 2×4 on the ground where the door should close. The door should reverse as soon as it hits the wood.
    • Water softener – you should check out the water softener on a regular basis and replenish salt when necessary.
  • Guest bathrooms – don’t forget to flush toilets and run water in guest bathrooms and other spaces that are not used regularly. The idea behind this is to prevent any form of buildup.

Annual Home Maintenance Checklist

  • Water heater – you should test the pressure relief valve on your water heater at least twice a year. Doing so will prevent any buildup and safeguard the unit against leaks. In addition, it will make your heater more efficient. If you’re not sure how to properly test your water heater, check out our hot water heater guidelines.
  • Smoke and carbon dioxide detectors – even though we mentioned that you should check on your smoke and carbon dioxide detectors regularly, we didn’t mention how often the batteries should be replaced. Majority of people assumes that the batteries should be changed out when the device starts giving you the low battery beeping sound. However, you shouldn’t wait for the sound. Instead, replace the batteries every six months.
  • Deep clean your home – you should pick one day every six months and deep clean your entire house with your family. This includes cleaning and dusting absolutely every nook and cranny, even in the basement. In order to keep your house in top shape, you shouldn’t allow the dirt and dust to build up. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our house cleaning checklist.
  • Refrigerator coils – this is a trick refrigerator repairmen might teach you. Your fridge can use up to 15% of the total power in your home. When the coils get dirty, your fridge requires even more power. So, in order to make your fridge as efficient as possible vacuum your refrigerator coils at least twice a year. This can help you save up to $100 a year.

Seasonal Home Maintenance Checklist

Spring Cleaning

Once the snow melts and the trees begin to bud, your home is ready for the spring clean and maintenance. Here are some tips that will help you prepare your home for the rest of the year.

  • Inspect the exterior of your home – check if there are any cracks in the foundation or holes in the bricks or see if there is any paint chipping. In general, take a close look at your house and see if there are any repairs that need to be done.
  • Roof – don’t forget to check if there are any damaged or missing shingles and leaks once the winter is over.
  • Drainage – sometimes springtime means lots of rain. And, you want to make sure that the rain water will flow away from your house. If you notice any puddles standing around your home for more than 24 hours, inspect your drainage. Start off with your gutters. Sometimes, they just may need cleaning.
  • Clean out gutters.
  • Inspect your chimney.
  • Door and window screens – the spring is the perfect time for cleaning door and window screens. If you notice any damage, make sure to repair or replace them. You don’t want any bugs crawling in.
  • Clean out gutters.
  • Change the air-conditioner filter and, if necessary, get your air conditioning system serviced.
  • Drain/flush your water heater.
  • Fertilize your lawn and clear any dead plants or shrubs. Believe it or not, dead plants can cause damage if they find their way into cracks and holes. If you have decorative vines, make sure to inspect them carefully.
  • Check sprinkler heads and remove insulation from outdoor faucets.



Summer is great for focusing on the exterior of your home, including your lawn and garden.

  • Garage – maintaining your garage should be your summer ritual. Start by oiling garage-door opener, chain, and all door hinges. Then clean all the dust thoroughly and throw away all the items you don’t anymore. Keeping your garage clean will definitely extend its life.
  • Deck/Patio – summer is a great time to take care of your deck or patio. Usually, it needs just a thorough wash. But, if you notice any loose boards make sure to repair them. Also, consider whether your deck needs re-staining.
  • Insects – bugs love summer. If you have an insect problem, you won’t have to look too hard to find it. Common insects such as ants, spiders, and moths are easy to take care of. Make sure to clean all the cobwebs, buy ant poison if necessary, and make sure that all your doors are shut tightly.
  • Window wells – do you have a basement? If so, then you should clean out window wells. All sorts of debris can get stuck there including leaves, trash, and even animals.
  • Plumbing – inspect your plumbing for leaks, including all faucets and toilets. If you notice that your water pressure is low, it is very likely that the aerator is the culprit. Luckily, it is very easy to fix it.
  • Vents – check all the exhaust vents on the outside of your home, including your clean dryer vent.  While the dryer is running, see if the exhaust is coming out. It should smell like fresh laundry. If you don’t notice much exhaust check for blockages or call a professional.

Check grout in bathrooms, kitchen, etc.; repair as needed. This will prolong the life of your tiled surfaces and just looks better.



Fall is the season during which you should finish all the tasks you didn’t have the time for so you could get your home ready for winter. Rain, snow, and cold weather can cause significant damage so make sure you are prepared.

  • HVAC system – one of the first things you should do is get your HVAC system ready for winter. Get it inspected by a professional and service your furnace if necessary. Make sure that none of the heating vents are blocked by furniture. Also, don’t forget to inspect fireplaces if you have any.
  • Chimney – Some people clean their chimney in fall, some in the spring. Choose whichever season you prefer, just don’t forget to do it once a year.
  • Hot water heater – flush hot water heater to make it more efficient and prolong its life.
  • Hoses and outdoor water faucets – flush your outdoor water faucets and hoses. If you have a sprinkler system, don’t forget to winterize it.
  • Wrap insulation around outdoor faucets and pipes.
  • Driveway/pavement – check if there are any cracks in your driveway or pavement and make sure to re-seal them before winter. Sometimes, water can freeze and expand in the cracks, causing damage.
  • Air conditioning systems – make sure to winterize your AC systems by storing the window units or, if you have central air, by covering the outside unit.
  • Buy winter gear – you never know when the first snow will come so make sure that you have good shovels and sidewalk salt ready.
  • Rake leaves from the lawn and remove debris from gutters.
  • Seal cracks in window and doors, if there are any.
  • Inspect your roof for missing or damaged shingles.
  • Clean the carpets, window and door screens.
  • Check for frayed wires.



There’s not much you can do outside during winter. Instead, focus on the interior of your home and check out all those little things you may have overlook or postponed for some time later. Also, if you have any interior DIY projects, winter is a great time to do them.

  • Check for icicles – even though kids love icicles, don’t let them grow when the cold weather comes. They are a danger to people but can also cause damage to your home since they are very heavy. Also, once they melt, they can even cause water damage. Keep in mind that you should also de-ice any cables that are at the front of the roof work well.
  • Tighten loose screws – and this includes absolutely every loose screw you come across, including those on handles, racks, knobs, etc.
  • Clean your basement – many people use their basement as a storage area and tend to forget about it. Winter is the right time to inspect your basement and deep clean it. Check the area for mold, dust everything up, and clean windows and furniture if there are any.
  • Test your electricity – working with electricity in wet weather is not a good idea. However, there are some simple tests you can do on your own, of course, while staying inside. For example, check if all the outlets in your home work. If not, then you can re-wire them on your own.
  • Clean drains in tubs, showers, sinks, and dishwashers.
  • Remove showerheads and clean sediment.
  • Inspect caulking around bathtubs and showers.
  • Replace any deadbolts or locks on doors and window that don’t work.


Paying for home maintenance expenses

Home maintenance expenses can sneak up on your. Unlike a lot of the costs of homeownership, home maintenance is not included in your monthly mortgage payment and can add up to thousands of dollars per year. Expert recommendations differ,  but a general rule of thumb suggests budgeting $1 per sq/ft per year based on the size of your home or 1% of your total home value.

If you find yourself with a major maintenance expense and don’t have the savings to cover it, you could always consider a cash out mortgage to cover the cost of major repairs like a roof replacement. Enter your information below to see what you qualify for.

Home Inspection Checklist – 80+ things to check

You’ve finally found the home of your dreams and now you’re ready to sign the contract. But, there is one key step before making the purchase final – getting a home inspection. The freshly painted walls, hardwood floors, and granite countertops are simply superficial touches. What you don’t see is the dangerous wiring, ancient plumbing or foundation cracks. All these defects can be revealed if you hire a home inspector.


What is a Home Inspection

A home inspection is, basically, your chance to investigate a property thoroughly and reveal any serious flaws. People usually hire an expert that walks through the house and makes a report that lists the major components of the home, the condition they are in, and whether something requires maintenance once you move in.

If you sign a purchase agreement that has an inspection contingency, then you can walk away from the deal without any penalties if the home inspection reveals some serious flaws. You can also ask the seller to make all the necessary repairs, saving you money and hassle.

Even though you might hire a home inspector, it is wise to have your own home inspection checklist which can help you get the most out of the inspection report.


How to Find a Home Inspector

Finding a good home inspector might take some time. If you have a real estate agent, then it is very likely that he will recommend several inspectors. You should also do research on your own and ask for recommendations from your friends, colleagues, or family members. Keep in mind that licensing requirements for home inspectors vary from one state to another. For example, in some states, a home inspector must complete training, pass an exam, and demonstrate experience in order to get licensed. However, in other states, home inspectors are not required to be licensed at all. The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) provides an interactive map which lists home inspection license requirements in all states.

Once you find a home inspector, make sure to ask for a sample report before you hire him. Some reports might be 100 pages long while others only contain checkboxes. A longer report doesn’t necessarily have to be better. Make sure to check with the inspector what is included in the inspection. If there are certain concerns you want to have addressed, ensure that the inspector adds them to the list.


What a Home Inspection Does and Does Not Include

professional home inspection checklist for buyers

The scope of a home inspection depends on the inspector. However, there is one thing that is consistent – all inspectors focus on the physical components of a home. This certainly covers many things but doesn’t include absolutely everything.

A home inspector can only report what he can see, not what is inside the walls or underneath the furniture. However, if there are accessible crawl spaces in the home, the inspector will enter and check the foundation. In addition, the home should be vacant so that the inspector can inspect as much as possible.

A home inspection typically does not include:

  • Wood-destroying pests,
  • Rodents such as mice and rats,
  • Trees and landscaping
  • Lawn sprinklers and swimming pool equipment
  • Drainage
  • Sewer line
  • Chimney and fireplace
  • Floors covered by carpeting or spots where there is furniture
  • Roof covered by snow


What to Look for in Your Home Inspection Report?

There are some red flags you should look out for in every home inspection report. For example, a water leak can cause a lot of trouble to homeowners. However, locating the source of the leak can be a bit tricky. Make sure that this is included in the report and that the inspector checks the plumbing properly. The water should be turned on during the inspections and the faucets should run for a period of time so that leaks can appear.

Make sure that the home inspector pays attention to any structural issues. Even though a small crack seems innocent, it can cause larger problems. Inspectors should look for cracks between doors and windows, bulging walls, and sloping floors.

Even if your home has a concrete foundation, it doesn’t mean that it is immune to termites and other wood-destroying insects. They can crawl through small spaces and damage wooden structural supports and even porches and windows. It is recommended that your home inspector searches for these pests since they can cause thousands of dollars in damage.

Keep in mind that the home inspector typically only searches for problems and won’t estimate repair costs for you. If you have any questions, make sure to discuss them with your inspector and ensure that you are making a good investment.


Home Inspection checklist

Below we cover our 80+ point home inspection checklist. While we always recommend purchasing a home inspection prior to buying a home, you can use this list as a way to do your own DIY inspection while you’re house hunting and before making an offer.


Exterior Home Inspection Checklist

Before checking the interior of your new home, don’t forget to check what the exterior is like.

  • Driveway and walkway – do they need any repairs? Are there any large cracks?
  • Grounds – there should be no evidence of standing water or any leaks from the septic tank. House should have proper drainage. There shouldn’t be any branches or bushes touching the house.
  • Porch, deck, and railings – make sure that the boards are solid and that the supports are sufficient. Also, see if repainting will be necessary.
  • House exterior – the paint should be in good condition. There should be no crumbly stucco or flaking of bricks. The siding boards should not be cracked. It is desirable to have gutter extensions that take water away from the house.
  • Fences – are the fences in good condition or they started rotting?
  • Foundation – are there any significant cracks? Can insects reach the wood?
  • Roof – will shingles need replacing any time soon? Is there any sagging in the roof? Are there any gaps? Are shingles curling or splitting?
  • Doors and windows – you want them to be in good shape. This means that there are no cracks, decay, or rot. There should be no broken glass or damaged screens. Drip caps should be installed over windows. All locks should be working properly.
  • Sheds – the shed door should be working properly and the shed floor should be solid. There should be a source of light as well.
  • Propane tank – if there is a propane tank, it should be securely mounted. If it is near the driveway there should be some safety barrier.


  • Garage door – garage door and other doors should be in good working condition.
  • Firewall – there should be a firewall between the house and the garage.
  • Floors and walls – are they in good condition?



  • Flat roofs – are there any patches, cracks, or wrinkles?
  • Composition shingles – are there any missing or damaged shingles? Are there more than two layers of roofing? There should be no cupping or curling.
  • Wood shingles – watch out for mold, rot, decay, as well as cracked or broken shingles.
  • Chimney – should be straight. There should be no signs of damaged bricks or cracked joints.
  • Exterior venting – all vents should be clean.
  • Gutters – should be attached securely to the roof. All the joints should be sealed. There should be no decay or rust.



  • Insulation – is it properly installed and in good condition?
  • Ventilation – are there any vents? Are they properly installed?
  • Wires – is the wiring updated?
  • Roof – there should be no light coming in through the roof. Inspect for any black spots or patches that could be mold.
  • Pests – is there any sign of pests such as droppings or chewed wood?
  • Damage – the structure should be checked for any decay or damage.
  • Other – there should be no plumbing, exhaust or appliance vents.



  • Moisture – no evidence of moisture, water stains, or standing water.
  • Floor and walls – no cracks, discoloration, or bulging that indicate damage or evidence of water.
  • Foundation – no cracks or flaking.
  • Structural wood – no damage, decay, or sagging should be present.
  • Faucets, sinks, drains – should be in working condition.
  • Smoke/carbon monoxide detector – is there a smoke or carbon monoxide detector installed? Does it function properly?

Crawl Space

  • Size – is the crawl space big enough to crawl in?
  • Venting – is the crawl space adequately vented to the exterior?
  • Insulation – is there insulation on vent pipes, waste, and exposed water supply? Also, is there insulation between crawl space and heated areas?
  • Damage – there should be no evidence of moisture and insect damage.



  • Mast – is the mast (electrical connection) attached to the house?
  • Outside wires – are there any wires rubbing against the house? Are the lines more than 10 feet above the ground?
  • Breaker box – are there breakers instead of fuses? Are the breakers labeled? Is the breaker box covered?
  • Wiring – wiring should look normal. Exposed splices should be in junction boxes. Is there exposed wiring? Are there any wires with evidence of burning?
  • Outlets – outdoor outlets should have weather protection. All outlets should have undamaged covers.



  • Water pump – should be working properly and shouldn’t short cycle.
  • Pipes – there should be no damage, no sign of staining on materials near pipes, no evidence of leaks.
  • Water heater – should be vented properly and capable of producing an adequate amount of hot water.
  • Water temperature – should be between 118 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit.


Interior Home Inspection Checklist

  • Floors, walls, ceilings – there should be no stains. All should appear straight.
  • Walls – there should be no significant cracks nor damage.
  • Flooring materials – are they in good condition? Will they need replacing any time soon?
  • Windows and doors – do they operate easily and latch properly? There should be no broken glass or hardware nor any decay.
  • Paint and paneling – are they in good condition?
  • Lights and switches – do they operate properly? Should they be replaced soon?
  • Insulation – there should be evidence of adequate insulation in walls.
  • HVAC – every habitable room should have a heating/cooling source.
  • Fireplace – there should be no cracking, damaged masonry, or evidence of back-drafting.

Heating/Cooling System

  • Flues – there should be no open seams. Separate flues for propane/gas/oil and wood/coal should exist.
  • Air filters – they should be clean and working properly.
  • Ductwork – is it in good condition?
  • Cooling unit – is there rust around the cooling unit?
  • Pipes – there should be no asbestos on heating pipes and water pipes.


  • Structure – are there any cracks or gaps?
  • Damper – does the damper open and close easily?
  • Chimney – is the chimney in good condition? Is it pulling away from the house? Are there any bricks coming apart? Is there a chimney cap?

Living Room, Dining Room, and Bedrooms

  • Walls – are there any cracks or bulges? Is the paint or wallpaper peeling? Look out for water stains as well.
  • Ceiling – it should not be sagging. Check out for peeling paint as well.
  • Floor – look out for any stains or damaged areas. See if the floor is even. the carpeting should not be pulling anywhere.
  • Lights – make sure that all lights and light switches work.
  • Outlets – all outlets should be anchored firmly to the wall and working properly. Outlets should be covered. Make sure to test all outlets with an outlet tester.
  • Doors and windows – they should be opened and closed easily. If there are any blinds or curtains, make sure that they are functioning properly.



  • Appliances – make sure that appliances are working, if there are any included in the sale.
  • Cabinets – all cabinets should be in good condition; doors and drawers operate properly.
  • Exhaust fan – does the exhaust fan work? Is it vented to the exterior of the building?
  • Garbage disposal – there should be no excessive rust or deterioration.
  • Pipes – they work properly and there are no leaks in pipes under sinks.
  • Faucets, sinks, and drains – see if all faucets are working and watch the color of the water. How long does it take for hot water to get there? Does the sink drain easily? Is there any moisture under the sink caused by leaky drains?
  • Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter – should be within 6 feet from the sink.
  • Smoke detector – is there a smoke detector? Does it work properly


  • Sink, tub, and shower – do they work properly? Do the sink and tub/shower drain easily? Are there mineral stains in the tub/shower? Are the walls around the tub/shower damaged? The sink should show no sign of rust.
  • Toilet – flush the toilet to see if it operates properly. Is there any dripping? Is the toilet stable? There should be no stains around the base.
  • Tub/shower tiles – are they secure? Is the wall surface solid?
  • Flow and pressure – are the flow and pressure adequate at all fixtures?



  • Entrance – is the entrance well lit? Is there any noticeable damage to the walls or the floor?
  • Stairways – are the stairs safe for walking on? Are there any loose steps or broken edges? Do all stairways have handrails?
  • Furnace – Is the furnace working properly? Is the flame blue or orange? Does the fan sound smooth? Is there any smell of leaking gas?
  • Water heater – is it in good condition? Is the water hot enough? Are there any stains that might indicate leakage?
  • Air conditioning – does it work? Does the condenser unit run quietly? Are the cooling fins of the condenser unit in a good condition?


Wrapping it up

Getting a home inspection is only one part of the home buying process. If you’re interested in learning more about buying a home we recommend reading our article about what to look for when buying a home. If you’re ready to buy a home we recommend checking your rate below to make sure you’re getting the best deal on your mortgage:


And if you’ve made your purchase, we definitely recommend downloading our new house checklist to make sure your home is move-in ready on day one!

4 ways to transform that spare bedroom

When building or moving into a new home, it’s always nice to find that you have a bonus room. This is effectively an extra room that can serve any purpose you like, be it as a makeshift guest room when you have overflow during the holidays, a space for kids to play, or a special place for you to practice whatever hobby might interest you. Or at least, that’s the idea. All too often however, we allow these rooms to go more or less unused, such that they wind up primarily as storage spaces and places to put a guest on an air bed in a pinch.

We have a few ideas, however, on how to get more out of a bonus room and turn it into a great asset for your home.

Make A Modern Game Room

By game room, we’re referring in this case specifically to video games. This has always been a popular use for bonus rooms, though in the past it basically meant having a couch, a TV, and a gaming console set up in whatever way makes the most sense. Now, however, there is so much more possible equipment that can be purchased so much more affordably, it’s possible to actually design the whole room to revolve around gaming. For instance, dark paint or wallpaper can be used to “shrink” the room from the eye’s perspective, and help the eyes zero in on the games. Comfortable couches can be customized to make the environment more appealing. Surround sound can be achieved with a few speakers rather than some elaborate system hooked up in every corner. And nowadays some people even set up space for virtual reality, which is fast becoming a popular version of in-home gaming. It requires some spending, but ultimately you can make a spectacular bonus gaming room with relative ease.

Design A Classy Poker Den

This is another form of game room, though naturally a more old-school version of the concept. A poker room can easily be somewhat tacky, but there are ways to design one that’s quite classy as well. You’ll want to start by furnishing the room more like a study or lounge than some basement den. That means soft carpet, lamps instead of overhead lights, paintings instead of posters, and uniform furniture instead of mismatched loungers.

We’d also suggest one or two additional touches.  You can find rankings of different hands or overarching rules of poker online and arrange them as a poster or plaque to hang in the room. Others can be art-based. You could also find any famous painting involving cards or poker and hang framed replicas. Little touches like these intensify the poker atmosphere and make the room that much more unique. Then all that’s left is a table suitable for card games and perhaps a small bar counter setup if there’s space.

Go For The Home Cinema

Much of what we’d specifically say for a home cinema overlaps with the game room concept above. Though it should be mentioned that people these days can build home cinemas on the cheap. The extreme high-end TVs are easily skipped (you don’t need a “smart” TV for an extra $400), projectors are unnecessary, and in some cases your smartphone can serve as a universal remote, for instance. Here as with a poker room you can add a few personal touches, such as framed posters for famous or favorite films. But the core concept is fairly straightforward and, with good strategizing, can be surprisingly affordable \.

Make It A Creative Space

A creative space can be all kinds of things. But whether you’re a part-time writer who needs a desk and a few materials on hand to be at your best, a crafting enthusiasts who tends to make a mess through the process, a painter who likes to have canvases spread out, or whatever else, a bonus room can be a perfect creative studio of sorts. Because this can mean so many things we won’t point to specific tips. But generally speaking if you have good lighting, a few surfaces, some open space, and a closet, chest, or set of drawers of some kind for supplies, you can design this sort of room any way you like.

House cleaning checklist

Nothing feels quite as good as a squeaky clean house. Our house cleaning checklist has 144 tasks and we promise, if you or your housekeeper complete all of them, your home will feel brand new. This checklist goes room by room to help you clean your home, and we even included a bonus spring cleaning checklist at the end for those times when you want a deep cleaning.

House cleaning kit & required supplies

Before we dive into the list, it’s worth calling out some of the supplies we think you’ll need to complete the job. We try to keep toxic chemicals out of our home, so we prefer natural & eco-friendly cleaning supplies.

Kitchen cleaning checklist

  • Clean dirty dishes
  • Put away clean dishes
  • Scrub kitchen sink
    • Disinfect sink strainer
  • Dust blinds
  • Wipe clean kitchen appliances
    • Refrigerator
    • Oven
    • Stove
    • Microwave
  • Disinfect & wipe clean kitchen counters and backsplash
    • Be sure to remove & replace all items
  • Wipe clean cabinet faces & hardware
  • Wipe clean tabletop and chairs
  • Disinfect light switches
  • Disinfect door knobs
  • Wipe clean electric plates
  • Wipe clean all woodwork
    • Baseboards
    • Window sills
    • Door frames
  • Empty trashcans & replace trash bags
  • Vacuum floors & rugs
  • Mop floors (tile & linoleum only)

Bedroom cleaning checklist

  • Change bed linens
  • Make the bed
  • Put away clean laundry
  • Put dirty laundry in hamper
  • Dust the room, including:
    • Lamp & lampshade
    • Picture frames
    • Blinds
    • Windowsills
  • Disinfect light switches
  • Disinfect door knobs
  • Wipe clean electric plates
  • Wipe clean furniture, including:
    • Top of dresser
    • Desk
    • Bedside table
  • Wipe clean all woodwork
    • Baseboards
    • Window sills
    • Door frames
    • Door panels
  • Clean mirrors
  • Throw away any trash
  • Empty trashcans & replace trash bags
  • Vacuum floors & rugs
  • Mop floors (tile & linoleum only)
  • General straightening

Bathroom cleaning checklist

  • Dust the room, including:
    • Blinds
    • Windowsills
  • Scrub, disinfect & rinse tub and shower
    • Wipe clean tile grout
  • Disinfect toilet inside and out
  • Scrub, disinfect & rinse bathroom sinks
  • Clean sink faucets & handles
  • Disinfect & wipe clean countertops
    • Remove & replace all items
  • Disinfect light switches
  • Disinfect door knobs
  • Wipe clean electric plates
  • Wipe clean any furniture
  • Wipe clean cabinet faces & hardware
  • Wipe clean all woodwork
    • Baseboards
    • Window sills
    • Door frames
    • Door panels
  • Clean mirrors
  • Throw dirty towels into the laundry hamper
  • Fold & hang clean towels
  • Throw away trash
  • Empty trashcans & replace trash bags
  • Vacuum floors, rugs, and bath mats.
  • Mop floors (tile & linoleum only)

Living room & other common areas

Includes hallways, stairs, etc.

  • General dusting
    • Ceiling fans
    • Blinds
    • Windowsills
    • Furniture on top, front, and underneath
    • Picture frames
    • Lamps & lampshades
  • Disinfect light switches
  • Disinfect door knobs
  • Clean windows
  • Clean mirrors
  • Wipe clean electric plates
  • Wipe clean all woodwork
    • Baseboards
    • Window sills
    • Door frames
    • Door panels
  • Throw away trash
  • Empty trashcans & replace trash bags
  • Vacuum upholstered furniture
  • Fluff & straighten cushions, pillows, throw blankets
  • Vacuum floors
  • Mop floors (tile & linoleum only)
  • General straightening

Spring cleaning checklist

Every so often you’ll want to go above and beyond your normal cleaning routine. We think this is the perfect spring cleaning checklist. But that doesn’t mean you have to wait until April! In some cases we’ll go through these tasks every 3-6 months.


  • Clean refrigerator and freezer interior
    • Remove & replace all items
    • Throw away any expired items
  • Dust top of refrigerator
  • Clean oven interior
  • Clean microwave interior
  • Clean pantry interior
    • Remove & replace all items
    • Throw away any expired items


  • Move bed & vacuum underneath
  • Launder blankets and heavy linens
  • Turn mattresses
  • Vacuum mattresses and box springs
  • Wipe clean bed frames
  • Machine wash or dry-clean comforters


  • Clean out cabinets
    • Remove & replace all items
    • Throw away any expired items


  • Clean shades & curtains
    • Remove, launder, and replace all items
  • Machine wash or dry-clean all area rugs
  • Shampoo carpets
  • Wash and wax wood floors
  • Clean book shelves
    • Remove & replace all items
  • Clean upholstered furniture
    • Machine wash or dry-clean any slip covers
    • Vacuum
  • Test smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors
    • Replace batteries if necessary
  • Wash windows
  • Remove & spray clean window screens
  • Clean or replace air filters
    • Furnace
    • Air conditioning
  • Clean out closets
    • Donate any clothing items that you no longer wear
    • Rotate seasonal wardrobe

Carbon Monoxide Detector Beeping? 5 Things You Should Do Right Now

A carbon monoxide detector and an alarm are designed to alert users about the unsafe level of carbon monoxide.

These work through making flashing lights and noise.

Nevertheless, they also make flashlights and noise under some conditions.

The noise that they make was described as chirping, beeping, and squeaking.

The majority of carbon monoxide detectors make sounds a much shorter chirp and beep.

The beeping noise is used for alerting you to unsafe CO levels. Usually, this can be in the form of four beeps.

This pattern is continuously repeated until the CO level drops or until pressing the mute button.

If you have heard the sound from your carbon monoxide detected, don’t just ignore it and consider taking action immediately. Read More

How to Install a WiFi Thermostat Without A C-Wire

Imagine buying a new WiFi thermostat, patiently waiting for that Amazon box to be delivered. You open it up, read the instructions, maybe watch a video that tells you how to install the device.

You remove your existing thermostat to find that things aren’t quite right – you don’t have a C-wire. A C-wire or common wire is a power supply that is required for your smart thermostat to work properly.

You can learn more about the C-wire and why it’s important in our article here. Unfortunately, most of the older thermostat models didn’t require one and that is the reason why many homes do not have a C-wire installed.

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NVR vs DVR – What’s the difference between them?

If you are contemplating about getting a video surveillance system, there are actually two types of security systems you can find in the market right now. These are the NVR security systems and the DVR security systems. As you probably know by now, the NVR or network video recorder and the DVR or digital video recorder come in a plethora of features, types and models. Understanding their unique functions and the difference between NVR and DVR (NVR vs DVR) is very important for you to choose the system that best suits your needs, requirements and budget.

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