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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
If you’re in a hurry, take a look at these Amazon Best Sellers. Otherwise, keep reading!
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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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 in mind that a carbon monoxide detector must not be blocked by curtains, furniture or some objects because restricted airflow may affect its function.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Summer is great for focusing on the exterior of your home, including your lawn and garden.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Before checking the interior of your new home, don’t forget to check what the exterior is like.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Includes hallways, stairs, etc.
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.
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
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.
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.