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March 2020 A Special Supplement to

Benzie County Record Patriot

Home Improvement and Car Care


Useful tips for RV beginners

Keeping the Keys

When buying a leased vehicle makes sense



Spring Home Improvement and Car Care • March , 2020 • Benzie County Record Patriot

Home Improvement and Car Care 3

When buying a leased vehicle makes sense


Exterior renovations that can improve home value


Tips before buying a car online


Useful tips for RV beginners


Did you know? - RVing


Facts about teen drivers every parent should know


Affordable features to consider when revamping your kitchen


7 things to consider when buying a shed

Benzie County Record Patriot • March 2020 • Spring Home Improvement and Car Care

When buying a leased vehicle makes sense


onsumers in the market for new vehicles must make a number of decisions before getting behind the wheel of a new car. Some may debate whether or not to buy a new or preowned vehicle, while others may wonder if buying or leasing is best for them. People who decide to lease will likely have another decision to make when their leases reach maturity: should I return my car or buy it? Drivers who have never leased a vehicle may not even know that lessees have the option to buy their cars at the end of their lease agreements. The idea of leasing suggests drivers would always be better off turning their vehicles in, but there are situations in which keeping the car can benefit buyers.

• The buyout figure is less than the market value of the vehicle: Lessees who don’t drive much might find that their vehicles are worth more at the end of the lease than the buyout figure indicated on the agreement. That means lessees can buy the vehicle for less than its market value. They can then flip the vehicle and reap a profit or simply keep driving the

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3 vehicle. • The excess mileage penalties are steep: Drivers also may be better off buying if they significantly exceeded their mileage restrictions. Lease agreements typically include per-mile penalty fees for every mile drivers go past the mileage limits indicated in their agreements. These fees can quickly add up, but drivers won’t have to pay them if they choose to buy their vehicles at the end of their leases rather than returning them. • The condition of the vehicle: Drivers who took care of their leased vehicles and even those who did not may benefit from keeping their cars when their leases reach maturity. Keeping a leased vehicle that’s been well-maintained can save drivers money over the cost of buying new vehicles, as the buyout value on their lease is likely a lot less expensive than the cost of a new car or truck. But keeping vehicles that have enduring considerable wear and tear also may be wise, as leasing companies may charge hefty wear-and-tear penalties. Buying a vehicle at the end of a lease may seem unusual. But there are various instances when buying makes more sense than turning the vehicle in.

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Spring Home Improvement and Car Care • March , 2020 • Benzie County Record Patriot

71% of prospective home buyers

Exterior renovations that can improve home value

say a home’s curb appeal is an important factor in their buying decisions


enovating a home to improve its value can be a smart investment. Interior improvements, such as updating kitchens and baths, offer good return on investment, but there are plenty of exterior renovations that can add value to a home and give it that coveted “wow” factor.


Did you know?


hen planning spring landscapes, homeowners should always group plants with similar water needs together. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, grouping plants with similar water needs together helps to conserve water, which can be an especially useful strategy if or when drought restrictions go into effect in summer. Homeowners also can embrace additional strategies to landscape with water conservation in mind. For example, aerating soil helps to improve water flow to plants’ roots and reduces water runoff, helping to ensure that plants get all of the water they need while reducing the likelihood that homeowners will have to use excessive amounts of water to keep plants healthy. In addition, using low-water-using types of grass can help homeowners who live in areas prone to drought conserve water while still maintaining lush, green lawns.

color to add appeal. Remodeling magazine’s “Cost vs. Value Report 2019” indicates changing an entry door to a steel replacement can offer 74.9 percent ROI. Such a door provides visual appeal and added security — things buyers look for. In addition to the front door, make sure that the entryway has a level walkway, steps that are in good repair, accents that are free from rust or tarnish, and decorative plants.

Abundant and well-planned landscaping can instantly boost curb appeal. According to the landscaping company Lawn Starter, 71 percent of prospective home buyers say a home’s curb appeal is an important factor in their buying decisions. As buyers use the internet to look for their dream homes, there’s no denying a beautifully landscaped, nicely photographed property can entice buyers to click and read more about a house.

Outdoor lighting

Address insects and minor repairs

Repaint (or reside) the exterior

Improving home value may come down to fixing areas of the home that can negatively affect its appeal to buyers. Hire an inspector to look at key components of the house and recommend what needs to be fixed. This way it is discovered before home buyers come in and do their own inspections. Termite infestations, deteriorating roofs and hidden water leaks are some things that might need fixing.

Improve the entryway

The front door is the focal point of a home’s exterior. Invest in a new door or paint it a striking

Outdoor lighting can add to the ambiance of a property and serve as a security feature. Utilize different lights, such as a bright light by the entry, uplighting in trees and shrubs for drama, a lightlined path to the door to improve visibility, and motion-detection lights to improve the security of the property.

A fresh coat of paint or new (or cleaned) siding can instantly give homes a facelift. Neutral, warm and inviting colors tend to have the widest appeal. Adding manufactured stone veneer to the home can offer a 94.9 percent ROI, says Remodeling. And after doing the front door and siding, investing in a garage door replacement offers the highest ROI of all exterior projects listed on the “Cost vs. Value Report 2019.” This improvement returns 97.5 percent when selling. Knowing which improvements add value to a home can help homeowners tailor their efforts to those that are most financially beneficial.


Benzie County Record Patriot • March 2020 • Spring Home Improvement and Car Care

Tips before buying a car online


ar buying has come a long way since automobiles were first made available to the masses. Over time, drivers’ options in regard to available vehicles have increased and the methods of paying for vehicles has changed. While many facets of the car buying process have slowly evolved over time, one relatively recent change has had a dramatic effect on how motorists shop for their vehicles. The internet has changed much about how products are bought and sold, and cars are no exception. A 2017 study from Root & Associates/CDK found that 53 percent of

consumers said they were “very” or “extremely” likely to conduct an entire car purchase online. Some

consumers feel there are advantages to buying vehicles online, but those who have never done so should keep a few pointers in mind as they shop for their next car or truck.

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• Comparison shop in person. Comparison shopping is a savvy move for consumers regardless of what they’re buying, and it can be especially beneficial to online car shoppers to begin doing so in person. According to the 2016 Beepi Consumer Automotive Index, 87 percent of Americans dislike something about car shopping at dealerships. In spite of that discomfort, visiting a dealership gives car buyers, even those who fully intend to buy online, a chance to test drive various vehicles and experience certain features for themselves. Buyers can then use these visits to inform their online buying decisions.

• Focus your search on local dealerships. The internet has connected consumers to businesses on the other side of the globe and vice versa. While buyers might find great deals on cars being sold by dealerships hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away, it’s often wiser to focus searches on local


dealerships. Dealers often offer incentives like free loaner cars or service discounts, but those incentives only benefit buyers if they live in close proximity to the dealerships where they purchased their vehicles.

• See the car in person. Looks

can be deceiving, and that applies to vehicles being sold online as much as anything else. If possible, buyers should see a car in person before buying it. Buyers who have found a car they’re interested in should email the dealership that’s selling the vehicle to arrange a test drive. Emailing tends to be the favored way to communicate, as buyers may find themselves inundated with calls if they contact dealers over the phone. Buyers who cannot see a car in person but want to buy it anyway should familiarize themselves with return policies if the car does not meet their expectations upon delivery. Savvy consumers can employ various strategies to make online car buying work for them.

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Spring Home Improvement and Car Care • March , 2020 • Benzie County Record Patriot

Useful tips for RV beginners Roughly 40 million Americans go RV camping each year.

Did you know?


oad trips are a unique way to travel that afford travelers the freedom to stop and take in sights and scenery on their own time. Traveling the highways and back roads gives people a chance to slow down and really enjoy an adventure. Such trips can be made even more special by traveling in recreational vehicles, often referred to as “RVs.”

The RV industry has been consistently growing for years. The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association says the RV industry creates $50 billion in economic impact in the United States, with roughly 23,000 businesses currently in operation. More than 504 RVs were shipped in 2017, and in Canada the industry is responsible for more than $7 billion in retail sales, states RVIA and Statista. Roughly 40 million Americans go RV camping each year, and millennials make up approximately 38 percent of campers, according to a report from CNBC. New RV enthusiasts are getting on the road every day, and such travelers can benefit from the wisdom and experience of those who have blazed trails before them.

• Budget for all RV expenses. It can be tempting

to overspend on the RV itself, but buyers should factor in other expenses like hoses, wheel chocks, levelers, navigation systems, campsite fees, and more.

• Consider the size of the RV. Buy the smallest

RV that is comfortable. Doing so opens up more options regarding places to stay. In addition, small RVs are morely easily maneuvered on the road than large ones, especially for novices.

• Add time to your ETAs.

The estimated time for trips that popular map and navigation software provide are customized to average car speeds. RVs generally move more slowly than cars, so allow for more time to arrive at your destination. This is an important consideration if you need to be at a campground by a certain time.

• Save condiment packages. When visiting

restaurants and carryout places, save any unused condiment packets, napkins and packages of disposable cutlery. These items take up much less room than full-sized packages, and space inside RVs is often at a premium.

• Invest in storage boxes.

Store belongings neatly and cleanly in plastic storage containers. Choose uniformly shaped and sized bins, which are more easily stacked and stored than bins of varying sizes.

• Pack a paper map.

Navigation services that are powered by satellite or cell phone signals may not be available in inclement weather or when traveling through mountain ranges. Paper maps can fill the void and keep you on track.

• Check towing capacity.

Make sure you do not exceed the manufacturer-recommended towing capacity. This is usually found on a sticker in the driver’s door. Overloading the vehicle can cause transmission issues and/or burn out engines.

RVs can be a fun and relaxing way to travel, and novices can make such trips more enjoyable by following a few tips from seasoned road trippers.

Few things embody the spirit of the open road as well as recreational vehicles, or RVs. The mere sight of an RV traveling alongside them has inspired many motorists to plan their own road trips, and such road trips have only been made better by RVs. While they might seem like a relatively recent phenomenon, RVs actually trace their origins to 1910. According to Go RVing®, an online resource for RV enthusiasts, the first modernized campers were built in 1910. While those campers were downright primitive compared to modern RVs, the latter would not be possible if not for the development and success of the former. Go RVing® notes that the 1913 Earl Travel Trailer is an ancestor to the contemporary travel trailer, though people who see one today may mistake it for a modern horse trailer due to its appearance. Modern RVs come in all shapes and sizes, and travelers’ options in terms of amenities are endless. Basic RVs can be an ideal, no-frills choice for budget-conscious road trippers. For those who want all the amenities of home but the open road, too, luxury RVs, complete with high-tech indoor/outdoor entertainment systems and stacking washer/dryer units that can put an end to vacation time spent at the laundromat, can make for the perfect vehicle.

Benzie County Record Patriot • March 2020 • Spring Home Improvement and Car Care



Spring Home Improvement and Car Care • March , 2020 • Benzie County Record Patriot

Facts about teen drivers every parent should know


ew moments in lives of teenagers are as exciting as the moment they earn their driver’s licenses, which serves as an unofficial invitation to increased independence.

• Desjardins Insurance advises that young Canadians represent only 13 percent of the licenced driving population in Canada but account for approximately 20 percent of motor vehicle deaths and injuries.

As exciting as driving can be for teens, it’s often a source of concern for their parents. Young drivers do not have much experience behind the wheel. When coupled with teenagers’ propensity for engaging in risky behaviors, that inexperience can be a cause for anxiety for their parents. And parents aren’t overreacting, as these statistics indicate how precarious a combination teens and driving can be.

• Sixteen-year-old drivers in the United States have higher crash rates than drivers of any other age, notes the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States. In 2017, 2,364 teens between the ages of 16 and 19 were killed in motor vehicle accidents, and about 300,000 were treated at an emergency room for injuries suffered in crashes.

• The U.S. Department of Transportation notes that 229 teens were killed in distractionaffected crashes in 2017. • The majority of traumatic injuries to Canadian teens between the ages of 15 and 19 are suffered in car crashes. • Geico Insurance’s “Teen Driving Statistics” says one in five 16-year-old drivers is involved in an auto accident within their first year of driving. Inadequate instruction may contribute to the alarming accident statistics involving teen drivers. According to Carcontrol.com, the average 16-year-old soccer player gets 1,500 hours of coached practice. Conversely, only 50 hours of driving experience is required in Ohio for a driver’s license.

The following strategies can help keep teen drivers and the roads they traverse safe.

• Enforce seat belt use, as teens and young adults tend to have the lowest seat belt use rates, offers the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. • Encourage teens to slow down while driving. Insufficient distance between vehicles and driving over the speed limit increases the risk of being involved in an accident. • Even though alcohol consumption is illegal for people under the age of 21 in the United States, many teens have admitted to drinking or riding with others under the influence. Drinking alcohol slows reaction time and may loosen inhibitions, which is dangerous for any driver, and may be especially so for inexperienced teen drivers. Initiate a parentteen pact to always ask for a ride and avoid drunk driving. • Rally for stricter graduated driver licensing requirements. Many states have a GDL program with certain restrictions, but perhaps even more stringent restrictions can keep teens safer, longer. With support from parents, lawmakers, law enforcement, and teens themselves, teen driving accidents and injuries can be reduced.


Benzie County Record Patriot • March 2020 • Spring Home Improvement and Car Care

Affordable features

to consider when revamping your kitchen


itchens are popular gathering spots in many homes. That popularity is reflected in various ways, including how many homeowners choose to remodel their kitchens. A 2019 report from the home renovation and design resource Houzz found that kitchens were the most popular room to renovate in 2018. Homeowners considering kitchen remodels should know that the Houzz report also indicated that spending on kitchen remodels increased by 27 percent in 2018. Homeowners concerned by the cost of remodeling a kitchen should know that there are ways to give kitchens a whole new feel without breaking the bank.


Consumer Reports notes that luxury home buyers expect high-end features, including professional ranges and

built-in refrigerators that match the surrounding cabinetry. However, many mainstream brands offer “faux pro” features that can equal more expensive alternatives. Consumer Reports even notes that many budget-friendly faux pro appliances outperformed their high-end counterparts in terms of reliability.


Countertops tend to capture the eye’s attention when walking into a kitchen. Outdated and/or damaged countertops grab that attention for all the wrong reasons, while updated countertops made from today’s most popular materials provide that wow factor homeowners seek. If granite is a must-have, Consumer Reports notes that homeowners can save substantial amounts of money by choosing granite from remnants at the stone yard. If marble is your ideal countertop, save money by choosing a domestic product

as opposed to one imported from overseas.


Custom-built cabinets may be a dream, but they tend to be a very expensive one. Such cabinets are designed to adhere to the dimensions of the kitchen, and Consumer Reports notes that they can cost tens of thousands of dollars. If that estimate would bust your budget, examine the current layout of the existing cabinets. If the layout is fine but the cabinets need work, you can give them a whole new look by refinishing them. If the cabinets must go, stock units or semi-custom cabinets can provide a new look without busting the budget. Kitchen remodels can be expensive. But there are many affordable ways to revamp a kitchen.

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Spring Home Improvement and Car Care • March , 2020 • Benzie County Record Patriot

things to consider when

buying a shed

1. Check your local building codes first.

Before you accumulate building materials or order a shed, be sure to know the ins and outs of shed codes. The codes may impact the shed’s placement, construction, the materials used, size, and numerous other factors. It’s much easier to amend plans beforehand than to face the hassle and expense after learning you did things incorrectly.

2. Choose placement wisely. Spend several

days assessing the yard and thinking about the uses for the shed. If you plan to store pool floats and chemicals inside of the shed, it should be located close enough to the pool to be convenient. Look at the lay of the land. If there is a soggy patch of land that can turn swampy under the shed’s foundation, that is a poor location choice. If you need access to electricity, placing it far away from the house could necessitate running expensive wiring.

3. Consider the design. Just because a shed is for


ackyard sheds can be useful assets. Sheds can create storage space in the garage, basement or other areas of the house that have become gathering spots for gear typically used outdoors. Sheds are ideal for housing mowers, tools and even pool-care equipment. But they can be put to other uses as well, such as being key spots to engage in hobbies or even as a child’s clubhouse. Various factors should be considered before building or buying a shed. A storage shed can be a significant investment. Once placed, sheds may remain in their dedicated spots for years to come. That means careful thought should go into the planning process.

storage doesn’t mean aesthetics should be overlooked. Choose a shed style that complements your home. You may also want to match certain architectural features, like arched doorways or dormers. Design also may relate to practicality. For instance, storing a riding mower inside may necessitate dual doors that open widely.

4. Invest in quality materials. Spending a little

more and using quality materials can ensure it lasts long enough to be cost-effective. The right materials will be resistant to splitting, cracking, decay, and insect damage.

5. Prepare the site well. A proper foundation for

the shed is almost as important as the shed itself. You cannot just drop the shed on the lawn and leave it, as the shed can sink or structural issues may arise if it is placed on a weak base.

6. Blend into the environment. Surround the

shed with shrubs or plants so that it blends into the yard and complements the space.

7. Deck out the interior. Use every storage tool

at your disposal to maximize floor, wall and even rafter space for storage. Plan where items will be kept and customize the storage options around those locations. Sheds can be an asset and improve storage capability in the backyard.


Benzie County Record Patriot • March 2020 • Spring Home Improvement and Car Care

Did you know? Improved performance and reliability has increased the life expectancy of many vehicles. As a result, many drivers are keeping their cars and trucks in excess of 10 years. According to an IHS Markit study, the average age of vehicles in the United States is a record 11.6 years, with the average length of ownership at 79.3 months, or nearly seven years. Even after an owner has relinquished his or her new vehicle, that used car or truck can go on to provide many more years of utility for its next owner. Certain models top the charts among the longest kept vehicles, according to iSeeCars, an automotive industry group. These include the Toyota 4Runner, Chevrolet Corvette, MercedesBenz SLK, Porsche Boxster, and the Toyota Land Cruiser, which is the longest kept vehicle and also is the automaker’s longest-running SUV. This vehicle is held onto for an average 10.6 years after being bought new. To hold on to their vehicles as long as possible, drivers should follow maintenance schedules, keep their cars and trucks clean and make repairs promptly. When it comes time to get a new vehicle, upkeep can go a long way toward improving resale value or getting back more on trade-ins.

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2020 Spring Home Improvement & Car Care  

2020 Spring Home Improvement & Car Care  

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