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(BPT) – With spring having officially begun, many eager homeowners and landscape professionals across the country will

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(METRO) – Technology has changed the way people live in the 21st century. Once ubiquitous, land lines anchored to kitchen walls have now given way to smartphones that can be taken anywhere. Bulky television sets that required at least two people to move have been replaced with high-definition offerings so light and thin they can be mounted on living room walls. It’s no great surprise that technology also is changing the physical places we call home. Smart homes are a rapidly growing trend. In a typical smart home, devices such as the thermostat, television and even the refrigerator can be controlled remotely through the internet. Converting an existing home into a smart home can seem intimidating, especially for people who don’t consider themselves tech savvy. But today’s user-friendly technology makes it relatively easy for anyone to turn his or her home into a smarter one. Before you get started,

recognize that there are certain must-have items to turn a home into a smart home.

Hub The hub refers to software or hardware that connects all of your devices and gets them to work together. Think of the various devices you have and then think of their manufacturers. Chances are strong you have devices manufactured by various companies, and enabling those to work together might seem impossible. A hub does that work for you. And because they can be connected to your smartphone, hubs also make it possible to control devices while you’re away from home.

WiFi router Some people rent their routers from their internet/cable providers, while others buy their own routers. Regardless of which category you fall into, you’re going to need a good WiFi router to get your smart home up and running. Determine which

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Devices You won’t necessarily need to upgrade your devices to get a smart home. In fact, if you control or can control any device in your home with a smartphone, you are already on your way to having a smart home. Upgrading to a programmable thermostat that’s compatible with your smartphone might be a great idea if your current thermostat is old and not internet-compatible. With a programmable thermoSMART

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How lawns benefit from aeration



type of WiFi your home currently has and then find a router that’s compatible with that WiFi. Request a list of routers that are compatible with your WiFi from your service provider, as not all routers will necessarily work with your internet connection. If possible, upgrade to the fastest WiFi your internet provider offers, as that will make your smart home that much more enjoyable and frustration-free.

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(METRO) – Compacted soil can have a dramatic effect on grass. Compacted soil blocks oxygen, water and nutrients from reaching the root systems of the turf. That creates a lawn with weak roots, which make grass more vulnerable to disease and compromising its ability to withstand harsh weather, such as summer heat. The buildup of thatch, which is a matted layer of grass clippings and other organic debris that collects on the top of the soil, is one indicator that a lawn could benefit from aeration, a process in which the surface of the lawn is perforated to break up compacted soil and allow oxygen, water and nutrients to reach root systems. Other signs that aeration may be necessary include patches of thin grass, brown spots and a high concentration of clay in the soil. When faced with a lawn that could benefit from aeration, homeowners may wonder if such as task lends itself to DIY or if it’s best left to professional landscapers. Aerating a lawn is not always easy, and typically it involves the use of one of three types of aerators: –Core aerator: A core aerator uses hollow tines to pull plugs of soil from the lawn. The plugs are left on the surface of the lawn. Homeowners can pick up the plugs or, according to the grass seed experts at Pennington, even leave them in the yard and allow them to break down. –Spike aerator: The experts at Pennington note that spike aerators employ solid, spike-like tines to poke holes in the soil. These aerators leave the spikes in the soil. Some people wear spiked aeration shoes while walking around the yard to mimic the effects of spike aerators. –Slicing aerator: According to Pennington, slicing aerators employ rotating blades that slice through thatch and down into the soil. These aerators leave the soil in the ground. Aerators can be operated manually, though professionals tend to use motorized aerators. The machines are often heavy, so homeowners should consider their health and physical ability before deciding to aerate on their own.



Home inspection services benefit buyers, sellers alike By STEVE NEWMAN


BESSEMER – Home inspections aren’t just for home buyers anymore. A home inspection can help a seller get their house sold, according to Tom Ruemenapp, owner of Big Moose Home Inspections, a Bessemer-based business that has a staff of 23 home throughout inspectors Michigan and Northern Wisconsin and is rapidly expanding. Ruemenapp stated that more and more home sellers are opting to have a pre-listing inspection of their homes. “I’ve done more pre-inspections the past year than the previous 14 years I’ve been in business,” he said. Pre-listing inspection can help sale go through While home inspections are not required in the state of Michigan, Ruemenapp said that pre-listing inspections have proven to keep problems from holding up a sale. “When sellers wait to have the inspection done at the time of the sale, they may find something that could have been fixed earlier, and the deal could fall apart as a result. “There may be problems the seller may not know about. It gives them a chance to do repairs and have the report amended or do a re-inspection later, rather than ending up with something they don’t want to repair and they can’t negotiate a settlement with the buyer. Prelisting inspection puts everything out in front.” Pre-listing inspections have other potential benefits. The seller may be able to work with their realtor to put a link to the inspection report in the real estate listing on line. “Links to an inspection report online can be a ‘winwin’ proposition for the seller and the realtor. It shows a proactive seller,”

Steve Newman/Daily Globe

BIG MOOSE Home Inspections owner Tom Ruemenapp shows a sample of a sign that shows a home has been pre-inspected to add to a real estate sign. Ruemenapp said. “More and more realtors are offering pre-listing inspections as incentives. It’s an advantage to the realtor. They know there won’t be any last-minute surprises. It keeps the deal from falling apart.” Another benefit from pre-inspection can be if the buyer chooses to use the same inspection service to do a “walk-through” before purchase. Ruemenapp offers the service to the buyer at a discounted price because the inspection has already been done, and the buyer can get the benefits of the completed report for their bank or insurance company. “We can show them what may need to be done, and what can be done to correct known problems.” Realtors can also benefit from preinspection. “We don’t always know if homes don’t close, but if they don’t, we can offer escrow cancel safeguards that give discounts if a deal falls through.” Realtors are required to ask buyers if they want an inspection, but the buyer can waive

inspection. “A good realtor will recommend inspection to protect the buyer, and will refer a good home inspector,” Ruemenapp said. Home inspection options Ruemenapp said that buyers and sellers are requesting more options in home inspections. Some added home inspections include well inspections and testing, radon testing, mold inspection and septic inspection. Such options require added equipment and training for home inspection services. In order to make sure inspectors are trained, Ruemenapp requires all inspectors for their service to obtain certification from the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. While home inspectors are not required to be certified at present in Michigan and Wisconsin, he feels that the training is necessary for his staff. “It’s important to me that we are certified if we are going to offer a service,” Ruemenapp said.

Value of a pre-listing inspection According to InterNACHI, an association of home inspectors based in Boulder, Colo., it’s likely that eventually, your buyers are going to conduct an inspection. The association encourages sellers to know what they are going to find by getting there first. According to InterNACHI, having an inspection performed ahead of time helps in many other ways, such as: –It allows sellers to see your home through the eyes of a critical and neutral third party. –It alerts sellers to immediate safety issues before agents and visitors tour your home. –It may alert sellers to items of immediate concern, such as radon gas or active termite infestation. –It permits sellers to make repairs ahead of time so that: won’t •Defects become negotiating stumbling blocks later. •There is no delay in obtaining the Use and Occupancy Permit. •Sellers have the time to get reasonably priced contractors or make the repairs yourself, if qualified. •It helps sellers to price a home realistically. •It may relieve prospects’ concerns and suspicions. •It may encourage the buyer to waive his inspection contingency. •It reduces seller’s liability by adding professional supporting documentation to your disclosure statement.


roughly one-third to onehalf less than the price of putting an addition on a home. Before remodeling a basement, homeowners should think about how they want to use the space. Homeowners also must focus on some potential obstacles in a basement that will need to be addressed so that the area can be as functional as possible. Basements can be chilly and damp. That means moisture issues and heating and cooling needs must be addressed prior to any

construction. Homeowners may have to consider the installation of a dehumidifier and run venting through the basement to allow for proper climate control. If a basement takes on water, either through the walls or a concrete slab, a professional waterproofing company can come in and fix these issues so they will not damage drywall and flooring afterwards. The presence of insects and pests also must be addressed. Exterminators can help homeowners figure out which insects are in their basements and how

to make the space less hospitable to these unwelcome guests so that the room will become comfortable for human occupants. Space is often at a premium in basements, which may contain HVAC units, water heaters, filtration devices, ductwork, pipes, and the other appliances. Qualified contractors can suggest solutions for cordoning off appliances and REMODEL

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Easy modifications can prevent bathroom falls

(METRO) – Homes should be safe havens. But each year injuries in and around the home contribute to millions of medical visits and many fatalities each year. Although anywhere in a home can be the scene of an accident, bathrooms tend to be the most dangerous room in the house. Slippery tile, the presence of water, stockpiled medications, and many sharp and hard edges in a small space pose several different hazards in the bathroom, particularly for young children and people age 65 and up. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says falls, which can result in serious injuries like hip fractures and head trauma, are the cause of 80 percent of all bathroom accidents. Many bathroom accidents are preventable with some easy modifications. –Reduce slippery surfaces. Wet tile is a recipe

for slick conditions. Bath rugs with rubber backing can provide traction in the bathroom, as can nonslip mats placed on the floor of the bathtub or shower enclosure. Water-resistant flooring made from recycled rubber is another option. It is softer, less slippery and more forgiving than traditional tile flooring. –Install lever-style fixtures. Round knobs in the bathroom can be difficult to grasp, especially for the elderly or those with arthritis. Lever-style fixtures are easier to maneuver and can help alleviate scalding from not being able to adequately adjust the water temperature. –Utilize transfer benches and shower seats. A transfer bench can help reduce injuries that occur when trying to climb over a tub wall. Benches are SAFETY

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Basement remodeling project can add value to home

A basement remodeling project can add valuable and usable space to a home. For many years, homeowners overlooked the potential of a basement remodel, perhaps thinking it would not be a smart return on investment. But that’s no longer the case. The latest “Cost vs. Value” report from Remodeling magazine says the average basement remodel can cost around $61,000 with a 70.3 percent recoup rate. In addition, HGTV says architects and contractors indicate the cost of redoing a basement is


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Establish ideal home gaming set-up

(METRO) – The majority of modern households are not home to at least one gamer. The Entertainment Software Association, in a survey of 4,000 American households, discovered that 64 percent of households own a device they use to play video games, with an average of two gamers in each game-playing home.

Gaming is so popular that The NPD Group says total consumer spending on the video game industry in 2017 equaled $36 billion. Avid gamers understand that having a dedicated and well-equipped setup can really improve the gaming experience. Here are some items worth considering for the ultimate gam-

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ing area. –Large-sized screen: A dedicated television screen will be needed for console gaming. Something at least 60 inches with Ultra High Definition and 4K capabilities is ideal. The high resolution enables crystal clear graphics and vividness. Most televisions now come with several HDMI ports, enabling people to easily connect gaming consoles and other peripherals to them. –Gaming headphones: The right headphones enable clear surround sound and include a directional retractable microphone to participate in social, multiplayer games. Wireless headphones are essential so that wires will not impede the action. –The right keyboard: PC gamers largely rely on keyboards and a mouse to control the action. A keyboard with backlighting and textured rubber feet to keep the keyboard securely planted will enable gamers to play in a darkened room. –Ergonomic chair: Gaming chairs come in dif-

ferent varieties. Some are like office chairs that can serve double duty at a desk, whether one is working on a school project or blasting through a first-person shooter’s tactical field. Other gaming chairs run the gamut of wired rockers that build sound and motion within, and top it off with comfortable arm rests. Above all, gamers should seek chairs with ergonomic features for

comfort and to avoid fatigue during long hours of play. –Speakers or soundbar: If a gaming room is doubling as a home theater, investing in a quality set of speakers or a soundbar can make sensory immersion even more intense. Soundbars or surround sound speaker systems will give ears a rest from headphones. Soundbars are a compact and often wireless

(BPT) – Nobody bats an eyelash when it comes to buying homeowner’s insurance, but many homeowners don’t apply that same logic to planning for home repairs – not what might happen, but what will happen. Only a fraction of the 120 million U.S. households today are protected by a home services plan, also known as a home warranty. That number is growing, as homeowners recognize the value of coverage when appliances go on the fritz, hot water heaters run

cold in the middle of winter or a leaky faucet drives up their water bill. Perhaps one reason more homeowners don’t have home service plans is because they think they are covered through their homeowner’s insurance policy.

Homeowner’s insurance doesn’t protect against natural home aging process Insurance kicks in when damage occurs from an outside force, like a busted sewer line or roof damage due to a major storm. While insurance covers you when Mother Nature strikes, it doesn’t protect you from the natural wear and tear that your home’s major systems and appliances go through during the aging process. Understanding how home service plans work and how they fit into your financial and risk-planning strategy allows you to be prepared for covered breakdowns,

without breaking the bank.

Home service plans Home service plans typically cover the repair or replacement of major home appliances, including refrigerators, washers, dryers, ovens or cooktops, and components of major systems like plumbing, HVAC and electrical. When your air conditioning system breaks, or your washer or dryer stops spinning, you want the

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confidence of having a home services plan in place that will help protect your budget. This is where the true value of a home service plan comes in. Home service providers such as American Home Shield accept service requests and assign professionals to diagnose the problem and offer a solution through its vast network of skilled and trusted contractors, which includes more than 15,000 licensed and qualified pros throughout all 50 states. Bottom line With a home service plan, you won’t pay the full cost of repairing or replacing items covered by your plan. Regardless of age, make or model, your contract helps cover the repair or replacement of items covered in your plan. For example, if your refrigerator malfunctions, your service provider will connect you to a quality contractor to diagnose and repair the problem. This can help reduce the hassle of repairing it yourself and help protect your budget.


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way to improve television sound and are usually less expensive and easier to install than surround sound systems. –Console: Gamers must decide if they prefer a PCbased system or freestanding consoles such as those sold by Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft. Gaming is as popular as ever, and a well-curated gaming setup can enhance the action.

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Think about future Service plans can come in handy when selling a home. The appeal speaks for itself: When buyers are making that final decision around one of the biggest investments in their lives, having a home service plan in place gives the new homeowner confidence that the home’s systems and appliances are protected, and they won’t bear the entire financial impact of repairing or replacing it if it breaks down. The choice seems obvious: Don’t fall victim to the financial risks and mental stresses associated with owning a home. Appliances have set lifespans, breakdowns are inevitable and repairs and replacements are costly. Make sure your home is covered, so you and your wallet can rest assured that your home is taken care of.


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stat, you can control the temperature in your home remotely. That ensures the home is a comfortable temperature when you arrive home and allows you to

turn off costly heating and cooling units when no one is home. Smart homes may seem futuristic. But chances are strong your home only needs some simple, inexpensive upgrades to join the smart home revolution.

Time to replace old wiring?

(METRO) – Old homes can be charming and contain architectural elements not often seen in many modern housing developments. But what older homes may have in design appeal, they may lack in updated features. While cosmetic changes are not necessarily difficult, one area of concern in historic homes – and sometimes even in houses built 40 or 50 years ago – is archaic wiring. Wiring provides power to every room of the home. In today’s electronics-driven society, electricity that works is an essential component of daily life. Over time, wiring can be compromised through simple aging, pest infiltration, weather, or other conditions. Deteriorated wiring can present a shock hazard and also a serious fire hazard, warn the home renovation experts at The Spruce. Furthe home thermore, improvement site This Old House advises that the amperage of old wiring may not be able to meet the needs of the devices used in homes – overpowering the circuits. This can cause breaker blowouts and other problems, such as overheated wires that may spark and cause fires from within the wall. Wiring often falls into the “out of sight, out of mind” category. Homeowners may make allowances for inadequate electrical systems, such as running extension cords or using

multiplug connectors to increase their wiring capacity. However, they may not be diligently keeping on top of upgrades needed to stay safe. Confirming that a home’s electrical system is safe is a necessary part of home maintenance. For those who haven’t already done so, schedule an inspection with a licensed electrician to go over the home’s wiring. He or she can determine if any areas pose a safety risk and/or do not conform to local code requirements and the National Electrical Code. Failure to meet code can lead to difficulty obtaining permits to make other home renovations, or difficulty selling a home later on. The electrician can also go over improvements that can improve safety and function. Additional outlets, including GFCI outlets in kitchens and bathrooms, may be part of the plan, as well as rewiring a fuse box or circuit panel to allow for better flow of power around the house. Frayed wiring or underinsulated wiring also may need to be replaced. Owners of old homes should recognize possible electrical system dangers that require attention. Plus, considering electrical codes change quite frequently, it is always in a homeowner’s best interest to work with a qualified electrician to keep wiring inspected and up to date.


5 HOME IMPROVEMENT When saying ‘I do’ means a move: 5 tips for combining households SATURDAY, APRIL 13, 2019

(BPT) – Getting married means a whole lot of changes, not the least of which could be moving to a new house or apartment. Whether you’re getting a brand-new place for the both of you or one of you is shifting all your earthly possessions to join your spouse, it’s a good idea to take proactive steps to make crossing that new threshold a little easier. Here are a few tips for taking some of the stress out of moving day – for both of you. –Declutter. Before moving, go through your possessions, as individuals and then as a team. Even if you’re moving to a larger space, it’s better to start fresh with items you know you like or need, and it will save you moving things you don’t really want to keep. After you’ve each discarded old, unused or disliked items, take inventory of common household items to see if you have duplicates. Do you both have toasters, blenders, a full set of silverware? Decide as a team which of them you prefer. If the other is still in good shape, donate, recycle, or if too old and damaged, discard –Plan ahead to save. Whether one of you is moving or you both are, you can save a lot of money by doing the move yourself. It’s remarkably easy to rent a truck, and you don’t need a commercial license. Driving a moving truck isn’t dif-

ficult, but it is different from driving a car. Be careful to use your mirrors to navigate turns, avoid sudden lane changes or stops and make sure to allow extra time. Plan ahead by reserving your truck at least two weeks in advance. –Pack smart. Nothing hurts more than moving your prized possessions, only to find them damaged when you arrive at your new digs. Your best bet is to pick up sturdy boxes, strong tape and bubble wrap at your truck rental store so that you know everything you pack will arrive at your new home in the same condition as when you packed it. You can also get labels to use on

your boxes so you know which items belong in the kitchen, the bathroom or the bedroom. –Be space conscious. You’ll need about 150 cubic feet of space for the furnishings of each room in your current home. In other words, a 12- or 16foot Penske rental truck should accommodate the contents of most small apartments or condos. When loading a moving truck, do what the pros do. Heavier items should be loaded in the back of the truck, while lighter items should be placed in front and on top. When in doubt, follow the helpful tips offered by Penske’s Truck Wizard.


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–Share the burden. Invite friends, family and members of your wedding party to help you move but be sure to make it a party! Ordering plenty of pizza and drinks for the post-move party will be a big hit. Perhaps you could pick out special items or photos as mementos of your friendships or family events during your decluttering to gift your moving helpers. These tips will help you and your new spouse handle the big move-in gracefully, economically and efficiently, so you can start your life together with as little stress as possible. Congratulations on the big day and the big move.

Create a safe, tick-free zone in yard

(METRO) – Despite their diminutive stature, ticks are a big concern for people, particularly those with pets. As the weather warms, ticks are out looking for a host to climb on and get a blood meal. Ticks are a significant concern because they can be infected with bacteria, viruses or parasites, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, and babesiosis are just a few of the many tickborne diseases. These pathogens can be passed to humans and pets via the bite of infected ticks. In 2018, at least one variety of disease-transmitting tick had been found in all of the lower 48 states, according to the CDC. In addition, researchers at Cornell University identified 26 species of ticks along

the East Coast alone. Preventing tick bites has never been more important. The process starts right in one’s own backyard. According to Consumer Reports and the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, controlling wildlife that enters one’s yard can help keep tick numbers down. Open access means animals can enter and so can ticks. Fencing and pest management solutions may help. Other ideas include landscaping techniques that can reduce tick populations: –Remove leaf litter from the yard. –Clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edges of the lawn. Mow regularly to keep the lawn short. –Create a barrier between wooded areas and the yard if it abuts a forest-


ed area. According to Consumer Reports, a three-foot-wide path of wood chips or gravel can prevent tick migration by creating a physical barrier that’s dry and sometimes too hot for ticks to tolerate. Such a barrier also serves as a visual reminder to anyone in your household to be especially careful if they step beyond the perimeter. –Bag grass clippings, which can serve as habitats for ticks. –Remove old furniture, trash and other debris that can give ticks places to hide. –Remember to use a tick-repellent product when venturing into wooded areas. Flea and tick products also are available for pets; consult with a vet. Ticks are problematic, but various measures can help control tick populations in a yard.

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Snow melt, rain can create basement issues By BRYAN HELLIOS


HURLEY – Snow melt plus torrential rain can equal one very wet basement. Ronald Hoeft III, of Hoeft Construction in Hurley, said removing sediment from the sump pit every year or two along with ensuring water runs away from the perimeter of the house are the first steps to keeping water out of your basement. “Anything you do to prevent it goes a long ways,” he added. If water has been a problem in

the past, having an extra sump pump on hand or installing an alarm which detects water can save a homeowner thousands of dollars, he said. When water finds its way in despite all precautions, Hoeft said it is imperative to address any standing water immediately. “The sooner you can address the situation the better chance you’ll have at minimizing the damage,” he said. As a member of the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration, Hoeft Construction

is certified to provide 24-hour emergency services for water, fire, odor control, anti-microbial and advanced structural drying. Water allowed to sit creates moisture and humidity which can result in secondary damage like causing drywall seams to “pop,” he said. By cleaning the water up quickly there is a possibility of saving everything, Hoeft said. Many items like electronics, carpeting and furniture can be restored, but said paper products

pose problems. Hoeft said for irreplaceable, or valuable paper items, his company puts them in a deep freezer right away to prevent any further damage and sends them off to a content cleaning company. One of the concerns Hoeft shares is people often don’t fully understand their insurance policies. “A lot of people don’t have the right amount of insurance coverage when they have a finished basement,” he said This results in homeowners

Iron County sees early success in septic maintenance program By RICHARD JENKINS


HURLEY – Regardless of the actual weather, spring is quickly approaching and that means Iron County’s Comprehensive Planning/Land and Zoning Department is gearing up for a second round of reminders for residents to check their septic systems. In Wisconsin, septic systems are required to be inspected, and/or pumped, once every three years. Holding tanks have to be inspected annually. To help residents comply with this requirement, the department began a reminder program last year. “We have the county split up into thirds. So every year, roughly a third of the county gets notices so we don’t slam the

pumpers,” assistant zoning administrator Gerry Nasi. “Next year now, the southern part – Mercer and Sherman – will be getting the notices. Then the central part of the county the year after. Then three years from now, the northern part of the county (for the second time).” He estimated between 1,200 and 1,500 notices go out each year. “It’s a significant number,” he said, adding the first year probably had roughly 1,340 notices mailed to the northern part of the county. Of all those notices, Nasi said there are eight holdouts who haven’t complied at some point in the past year. For those people, there is the possibility of punitive legal action. However, Nasi said there were a num-


ber of steps a property owner had to ignore before it got to that point. “There’s a first notice we mail out, a second notice, a final notice, an abatement letter and then it’s taken to court,” Nasi said. “Ultimately if it gets done – if at any point if it gets done – then it’s dropped.” The initial year may have had some people reluctant to participate, but Nasi said it seems as if so far the second year is already going smoother. Nasi said the department may not be able to devote as much time dragging people into compliance in the future. “They’re going to have to start doing it on their own,” he said, adding that it will also likely take less work once people have gone through the process

once or twice and understand the importance of complying with the requirements. Along with being mandated by the state, Nasi said routine inspections are also a great way to prevent minor issues with a septic system from becoming major issues. “The inspection process can catch a lot of problems early, before they ruin an entire system,” he said. “A good example of that is, a modern septic system will have a filter in it. And if that filter isn’t cleaned regularly, it can allow the system to clog.” “... It’s a proactive program,” he continued. Those with questions about septic system maintenance or the county’s program can call the department at 715-561-

(BPT) – Do you own an older home, and are you looking to make upgrades that matter? Strategic enhancements not only increase a property’s resale value, but also its functionality. This is particularly important among young homebuyers. Sixty-eight percent of millennial homebuyers reported buyer’s remorse, according to a Bank of the West survey. Today’s high home prices in cities across the country mean that many millennials are buying older homes rather than newly built ones. Shortly after the purchase, these homebuyers feel disappointed with the dated features of their homes, unsure what and where to renovate. If you feel you’ve settled for your home, or perhaps you love the older property but want to give it a facelift, here are some leading home-improvement projects for older homes:


Technology additions Smart-home features are frequently requested in new construction. Fortunately, your older home can become a smart home too when you implement technology, such as home automation. Thanks to WiFi, there’s no need for

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and costly clumsy rewiring. Smart thermostats, smart music and programmable lighting are prime examples.

Tankless water heaters Tankless water heaters are ideal for older homes because they are easy to install, take up much less space and can reduce energy costs by as much as 60 percent. Because they heat water on demand, you never have to worry about running out of hot water. What’s more, longer warranties than what can be found with traditional storage-tank water heaters are now available. Check out the new 25-year warranty from Noritz on select tankless water heaters.

Wall removal Removing a wall between the kitchen and living room can enhance the functionality of the area and provide a modern open concept design. Cutouts in walls are another option if the wall cannot be completely removed. Remember to ensure any wall is not load-bearing before removal, so you don’t impact the structural integrity of the home.

Popcorn ceilings Once upon a time, popcorn ceilings were the top trend installed in every


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1. Don’t pour grease, fats and oils down any drain. 2. Don’t use a garbage disposal to get rid of meat bones, coffee grounds or other foods that are hard to biodegrade. 3. Don’t dispose of paints or chemicals down the drain. 4. Don’t put automobile fluids down the drain. 5. Don’t kill the beneficial bacteria in the system by rinsing pesticides, herbicides and other toxins down the drain. 6. Don’t flush non-biodegradable materials down the toilet. 7. Don’t let the water run while washing dishes or thawing frozen food. 8. Don’t run half loads in the dishwasher or washing machine. 9. Don’t use chemicals to “start up” or “clean up” a septic system. 10. Don’t attach a “clean water” source such as footing or sump pumps to a septic system. 11. Pump a septic tank at least once every two years. 5414. “Please call. We would rather speak to people, answer questions and work

things through,” Nasi said. “We’ll do that all day long rather than have a single problem.”

Top 10 value-enhancing home improvement projects for older homes


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being stuck with paying for repairs out of pocket, he added. Another issue Hoeft raised is if the insurance company discovers any mold they often will not cover any damages because it is viewed as negligence on the homeowners part. Hoeft said even if there is no visible growth, they spray the affected area with a biodegradable anti-microbial solution to prevent mildew from forming. “If you get to it right away you can save everything,” Hoeft said.

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house. Today, they distract the eye and make a home look old. Consider hiring someone to redo your ceilings or research how to scrape it yourself. Leave flat or add a knock-down texture, which is a popular modern drywall finishing technique.

New paint/wallpaper That ‘70s pea-green paint in the bathroom and the ‘80s floral wallpaper in the bedroom instantly date your home. By updating the walls, your house will feel more modern and you can customize to your personal tastes. Dedicate a weekend to painting the walls in your favorite spaces and you’ll be amazed at the transformation.

Painting old grout After years and sometimes decades, grout in bathrooms and kitchen spaces really takes a beating and turns a dirty color that’s impossible to clean. It can be time-consuming and tedious to replace grout, so to get a fresh look consider painting it instead. Specialty grout paint makes the process simple with easy application features that simply roll on. Update hardware Hardware throughout a home gets dingy and dated. To update a space without an overhaul, simply change out the hardware. Cabinet knobs, drawer handles, towel racks and more in a


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camouflaging pipes and wires so they won’t detract from the finished product. However, building access panels into the design will make it easier to service or repair features as necessary. Homeowners also may want to wrap pipes before drywall is installed to quiet noisy drainage pipes. Uneven basement flooring will need to be smoothed out and flattened before carpeting or

modern metallic hue can make a space feel fresh again without much investment. Don’t forget about air registers, which can also impact the visual appeal of a space.

Insulation There are many modern insulation options available today that weren’t around when older homes were built, and many of those homes have little to no insulation at all. In addition to insulation, remember to seal spaces for air loss, such as air ducts, doors, windows, pipe inlets and the attic.

Embrace the history Be sure to research the history of the home and neighborhood. Would pulling out that original wood built-in be a detriment to the home’s authenticity and value? Perhaps you can hire someone to update the original wood flooring, so it has the modern stain tone you like, but the planks still maintain the home’s original luster.

Light fixtures Light-fixture styles change through the years and can make your home appear older than necessary. Replacements can make a world of difference. For example, replace an old brass chandelier with a modern pendant design. Not only will it be a style update, but the light output can make the space more usable. tile can be laid down. A self-leveling underlayment can be applied to fill in gullies, while larger crack and holes will need to be patched. Once the structure of the basement is addressed, then the design work can begin. Many professionals advise against drop ceilings, which can take away from ceiling height and look cheap. Basements can be dark, so the addition of plenty of lighting can help brighten the room. Small basement windows can be replaced with larger ones to add more light as well.

7 HOME IMPROVEMENT Things to consider before building a greenhouse


(METRO) – Avid gardeners may be enticed by the idea of a greenhouse that allows them to explore their passion for plants year-round. While it’s true that greenhouses afford this luxury, there are important things to consider before erecting a greenhouse in your yard. Greenhouses require ample time to maintain. Greenhouses are not self-managing; they require heat, water, venting, electricity, and maintenance on the part of gardeners. Individuals need to determine how much time they have to devote to a greenhouse and then consider their options. Start by choosing the size of the greenhouse. Many experts, like those at the home and garden information site The Spruce, suggest getting the largest one you can afford and fit into the


yard. It is much easier to fill a large greenhouse than try to expand on a small one later on. Next, consider whether you want to build the greenhouse from scratch or utilize a prefabricated kit that can make easier work of the job. Kits typically contain all of the materials needed, and are easiest for someone who is a construction novice. Look for “grower greenhouses,” which are all-purpose options with adjustable shelving and space for growing plants full-term. The next step is deciding where the greenhouse will be located. The goal is to have a consistent amount of sunlight yearround. A south-facing locale is ideal, and structures should remain north of the greenhouse so they do not cast a shadow on it. The building, cars and technology resource Popular Mechanics

advises gardening enthusiasts to take into consideration the angle of the sun during all seasons

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before choosing a location. Doing so ensures that the sun is not obscured in the winter or fall.

5 smart ideas to refresh your deck

(BPT) – As seasons turn, your focus begins to shift to the outdoors. Your deck or patio becomes your new living room – an ideal setting for memorable moments with friends and family. If you look at these spaces and long for a refresh, the time to start planning is now. You have options, and many you can do yourself with minimal effort. To start, if you don’t have a deck or patio, research materials carefully before making an investment. One prevalent building trend involves making the smart choice toward natural, environmentally friendly materials that will never end up in landfills. As such, more homeowners are choosing Real Cedar because it is naturally resistant to rot, decay and insects. It’s low-maintenance and easy to work with, being durable yet lightweight, laying straight and taking fasteners easily. Plus, nothing looks, feels or smells quite like cedar. To refresh your deck with style and functionality, consider these five trending outdoor-living projects: Planter boxes: If you want to add beauty and functionality to your deck, construct planter boxes and put them in sunny spaces. From small boxes that house herb gardens to larger boxes that allow vegetables to thrive, you can have a bounty of fresh flavors right outside your

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door. No need for a garden plot! Planter box designs come in a variety of sizes and can be built low to the ground or at waist height for easy tending. Outdoor sectionals: Builtin sectionals are becoming a focal point and favorite hangout spot on the deck. Perfectly set into a corner, these multi-directional couches can be built as large or small as you desire. Use Real Cedar for your project because it is pitch- and resin-free, so accepts and holds a wide variety of finishes beautifully so you can customize the look to your tastes. Finish with cushions for that decorator touch and you’ll have your new favorite cozy outdoor corner. Water features: As homeowners look to make their decks and patios a true retreat from the stress of

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everyday life, they want to add elements of Zen, which is why fountains and water features are becoming so popular. New decks are often built to incorporate these features, including pathways where water a calm provides ambiance. If a pond is too significant an undertaking, fountains provide a more affordable alternative that can be used in any size space. Pergolas: These beautiful semi-shelters can be built in a number of useful configurations depending on how much shade you require, what you wish to situate beneath it (A dining set? Outdoor couches and chairs? Grilling equipment?) and whether you want to incorporate climbing plants. For complete project plans and instructions on how to make your

own pergola over a weekend, visit realcedar.com. Lighting: When the sun goes down that doesn’t mean the fun should stop. Add lighting to extend the functionality and enjoy special moments under the stars on your deck or patio. Stair, railing and pathway lighting add a necessary safety feature, while undertable lighting and deckpost sconces provide the perfect illumination for the space without being overwhelming. For a touch of twinkle, add a few outdoor string lights in white, or for a more festive atmosphere, go for the color of your choice. These five outdoor living ideas are sure to enhance any size deck or patio space. Make plans today so you can enjoy many seasons of fun outdoors with loved ones.


Select a spot that also has ample drainage, as you will not want water pooling up along the sides of or underneath the greenhouse. Raise the greenhouse on footings to alleviate flooding concerns. Consult with a gardening or agriculture expert about the best way to heat the greenhouse. Options abound with electric-, gas- and propane-powered heating sources. Some systems will require venting. You also will need to know what is available and legal in your area. Check to see if you need a building permit for the greenhouse and any accompanying heating elements. Once the greenhouse is situated, you can begin to add other items, like benches, additional shelving, hooks for tools, and even an automated watering or misting system.

Organize, declutter, room-by-room

(METRO) – Clutter can be a major source of stress that affects how individuals feel about their spaces. Psychology Today indicates messy homes and work spaces can contribute to feelings of helplessness, anxiety and overwhelming stress. Clutter bombards the mind with excessive stimuli, makes it more difficult to relax and can constantly signal to the brain that work is never done. Tackling messes no matter where they are lurking is not a one-time project. Much like losing weight and getting healthy, clearing a home of clutter requires dedication and lifestyle changes. With these organizational tips and tricks, anyone can work through their home room-by-room and conquer clutter.

Place for everything Clutter creeps up as people accumulate possessions over the years. Over time, failure to regularly go through belongings and thin the herd can lead to the accumulation of clutter. But clutter also can accumulate if people fail to find a place to put

items. Racks for garages, organizational systems for closets and furniture with storage capacity, such as storage ottomans, are some storage solutions that can help people find a place for their possessions.

Utilize vertical space Getting items up and off the floor can maximize square footage in a home. Bookshelves, hanging wall shelves, hooks, cabinetry, builtins, and other storage solutions that rely on walls and ceilings are simple and effective storage solutions. Unused space behind cabinet or closet doors are some additional places to store belongings. Hang razors or toothbrushes on medicine cabinet walls and curling irons and other hair tools on the interior of cabinet doors in bathrooms.

Create a system Home offices can be some of the more disorganized rooms in a house simply due to the volume of electronics and paperwork within them. HGTV suggests using a color-coded system for important files to keep them organized. ORGANIZE — page 10

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The art of buying art for your home

(METRO) – Designing a home’s interior can be fun. Whether furnishing a first apartment or a newly purchased family home, many people feel that the art they put on the walls of their homes is an expression of their individuality, and that a home isn’t truly a home until its interior reflects their personalities. Furnishing a home with art can be intimidating, especially for people doing so for the first time. But a few tricks of the trade can help men and women turn the interiors of their homes into spaces that reflect who they are. –Embrace your personal taste. Don’t hesitate to decorate your walls with art you like. When buying furniture for a home, it can make sense to follow certain rules. For example, parents of young children might want to purchase dark-colored furnishings that can hide stains. But no such rules should govern your choices of artwork. Art reflects the person who made it, but it also reflects the person who buys it, so buyers should embrace their personal taste when furnishing their homes with art. –Shop around. Thanks to the internet, billions of pieces of art, from tapestries to photographs to paintings, are at your fingertips. Comparison shopping can be fun and help novices discover their personal tastes. It also

can be a great way to support artists. For example, 90 percent of all image royalties on art purchased from YourArtGallery.com goes directly to the artist, ensuring much of buyers’ money is going toward supporting the people responsible for the art they plan to hang in their homes. That can give people a greater sense of pride in their home’s decor. –Seek inspiration. If you’re unfamiliar with art, don’t hesitate to seek inspiration. Art is everywhere, from the hotels you stay in while traveling to the billboards you pass while driving to work to the local art museum near your home. If you’re uncertain of what you like, make a concerted effort to recognize the art you see but may not stop to notice each day. As you expose yourself to more and more art, you will gain a greater knowledge of what you like and dislike. Use that knowledge to inform your decisions when buying art for your home. –Switch things up. Your entire home does not need to follow a theme. If your taste in art is eclectic, embrace that and have different rooms throughout your home reflect your different tastes. This can give each room its own unique feel and make for a colorful home. The art people hang in their homes is a personal choice, and the process of finding that art can be fun and eye-opening.

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8 ways to refresh your kitchen without a major renovation Update cabinet hardware One of the easiest ways to refresh your kitchen cabinets and drawers is to switch up the hardware. Warm up your space with brass finishes or opt for another on-trend finish and shape.

(BPT) – The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in your home. From cooking and eating to spending time with your family, most kitchens are well lived in and loved. But when it comes time for an upgrade, the kitchen is also one of the most expensive rooms to remodel. A full kitchen remodel can take months to complete, and the cost can add up quickly. The good news is there are plenty of budget-friendly fixes to help you rejuvenate your space without a total overhaul. Here are some top tips: Choose custome features What if your kitchen sink could perfectly match your counter or backsplash? Customizable features like Kohler’s Tailor Customizable Farmhouse Sink allow you to choose your own material for the apron front

Add open shelving Adding shelves is the perfect solution for a large blank wall. Once the shelves are installed, use them to display your glassware collection, beautiful china or colorful cookbooks. Shelves add storage and style to your kitchen.

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to match your existing countertop or backsplash or choose one of Kohler’s designed inserts. Easily change up the look of your kitchen simply by switching out the material in the apron of your sink.

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Upgrade your fixtures Bring out your inner chef by selecting fixtures like Kohler’s Semi-Professional Kitchen Sink Faucet, which features a pulldown sprayhead with functions for rinsing, cleaning and fast filling of pitchers. Simply upgrading

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5 ways to create an inviting room using tile

(BPT) – Today’s tile trends extend so far beyond their traditional use as a staple of bathroom design that you may not recognize them. While once the most attractive and innovative tiles had to be imported, contemporary handcrafted tile and stone products for home design are now being made right here in the United States. Homeowners and interior designers alike are always seeking distinctive visual touches to make each home special. Here are five ways tile design can enhance a room. Elevate small spaces. Use tiles interchangeably to create a unique design. The Ann Sacks Radius Collection by designer Barbara Barry has five distinct modular designs that can be used independently, or combined to create patterns to delight the eye. Creative use of a variety of tile shapes like these can easily elevate small spaces such as baseboards, fireplace surrounds or backsplash areas in a kitchen. Make a color statement. Whether you choose a single color or mix colors to create a pattern, the choices can overwhelm. “I enjoy the soft juxtaposition of watery blue tones, soft green tones and the neutral colors of gravel,” explained Barry. While Barry is known for her love of soft colors, you may choose colors that best complement

elements already in the room. If you’re not working with a designer, consider traditional complementary color pairs when making decor choices, such as redgreen, blue-orange or yellow-purple. Create a calm mood. The latest trends in interior design reflect the desire for homes to be sanctuaries. Inspired by the clean lines, appropriate scale and exacting proportion prevalent in Midcentury Modern architectural design, Barry describes her collection as “soft modern, defined by a curved edge for a sensual feel.” Barry adds, “In this busy world, I want to come home to calm rooms and quiet spaces.” Choosing colors, lines, shapes and scale with simplicity in mind can help contribute to a feeling of calm. Personalize your space. Find what appeals to you, and work with a designer or manufacturer who can meet your requests. In her collection, Barry provides tools for consumers or designers to customize patterns. Designed to spark the imagination, five distinct patterns in varying scales punctuate interiors with personality. Smaller manufacturers can personalize your project with their flexibility, customizing color choices and resurrecting a retired pattern or color, or even by recreating tiles present in a home refurbishing or renovating project. Make your space

your own. Create visual interest. Choose different textures through materials like wood, glass or tile to break up an otherwise ordinary surface in a room. Radius is available in all Made by Ann Sacks matte and gloss colorways, which can be installed as a singular color statement or mixed to evoke a unique, personalized design, whether to create a captivating statementmaking wall or to cover an entire floor. The choice of tile adds a textural element to a room that can’t be duplicated by any other material. Ann Sacks fell in love with tile while on a family vacation to Mexico when

she was 13, and later used that passion to create a business inspired by those Mexican tiles. She hired gifted artisans to grow her business into a true American success story. Ann Sacks, founded in 1981 in Portland, Oregon, draws talented craftspeople to


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Transform bathroom into wellness retreat

(BPT) – When you think of your bathroom, what comes to mind? A place you’re in and out of quickly while getting ready for the day or winding down for the night? Your bathroom can be more than just a utilitarian space. By adding certain bathroom amenities, you can transform your bathroom into a calming oasis that serves as a retreat from everyday stressors. Consider these five ideas that provide a spa-inspired experience in the comfort of your own home: –Tantalizing tub features provide a peaceful paradiseWater has many therapeutic benefits, and with the right tub, you can enjoy any time you’d like. Relieve sore muscles and calm the mind with an air bath, a soothing bathtub option that uses thousands of tiny air bubbles to melt away the day. The DXV Aqua Moment Drop-In Airbath with Waterfall provides a gentle shoulder massage that helps release tension, while the waterfall transports the mind to a peaceful paradise. Activate the chromatherapy to complete the ambiance; for example, choose purple to reduce anxiety or orange to boost energy. –Create coziness using heated elementsWarmth brings relaxation, so make sure your bathroom has all the features to keep you toasty. Consider adding heated elements underneath your flooring. Just imagine being able to adjust the temperature on a knob and warming the floor to your preferred level of comfort. A heated towel rack is a must-have and easy accessory to add. Flip the switch at the start of your shower or bath and by the time you get out, your towel will be warm as if you just pulled it out of the dryer. –Delight the senses with a distinctive shower experienceA shower can be much more than an opportunity to get clean.


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placed outside of the tub and a person sits and then swings his legs over the ledge. Transfer benches also can be used in conjunction with shower seats. This is a chair or bench that allows people to sit while they shower. –Discard old medications. Clean out the medicine cabinet of old or expired medications, including both prescription and over-the-counter drugs. This reduces the likelihood of medication confusion, and does not put potentially harmful pills and syrups into the hands of children.

Organize From page 7

Label important items, whether they’re paper or digital files, in accordance with your system.

Put it away When you finish using an item, return it to its stor-

Modern showerheads offer an experience to delight the senses. For example, the Spectra eTouch showerhead from American Standard allows you to choose from four distinct spray patterns with the simple tap of a finger on the wall-mounted remote. Select your spray pattern to jumpstart your morning and another to relax at night after a busy day. –Enjoy a luxurious, clean feelingIt is important to pause and take time for yourself – you’ve earned it. Choose bathroom products designed to offer you superior cleansing and improve your well-being. Bidet features like self-cleaning nozzles to thoroughly and hygienically cleanse front and back are a great investment. Consider options like the AT200 LS SpaLet integrated electronic bidet toilet from DXV, which includes luxury features like a heated seat. If you can’t install a full bidet, you can easily retrofit a bidet seat like the Advanced Clean SpaLet bidet seats from American Standard. These are especially great for moms-to-be and new moms, and are a soothing way to stay clean and eliminate bacteria. –Complete the experience with pampering accessories Add the extras you need to your bathroom to make it feel like a true spa retreat. Invest in a plush robe and slippers to make you feel relaxed. New loofahs and sponges, along with scented bath products, can make the experience extra calming and luxurious. Don’t forget to pick up some new, lavish towels that will wrap you in softness.After a long day at work, there’s nothing better for your body and mind than the ability to experience your own “five-star� spa treatment. Even better? You don’t even have to pack a bag or hop in the car now that you have a calming oasis right at home. –Install grab bars. Properly installed grab bars around the shower and toilet area can provide leverage and stability. AARP says many injuries to seniors occur when they are attempting to sit or get up from the toilet. Grab bars or an elevated toilet seat can help. –Install motion-detecting lights. These lights turn on automatically upon detecting movement, making them beneficial for people who routinely visit the bathroom in the middle of the night. Adequate illumination also can help reduce fall risk. Bathroom safety should be made a priority. Various modifications can make bathrooms safer for people of all ages.

age location. This eliminates piles of belongings strewn around the house – and hunting and pecking for missing things. If you can’t put it away immediately, have a few baskets on hand labeled for the different rooms in the house. Pop the items in the requisite baskets and then routinely take each basket

around the house to return the items. Investing in custom cabinetry and organizational systems also can help people organize their belongings. Tackle rooms such as the garage, basements, bedroom closets, and pantries, or those areas that tend to accumulate clutter the fastest.

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Spring Home Improvement 2019  

Spring Home Improvement 2019