Help Around The House

Fall Yard Care to do Now

Fall is here! The days are shorter, the temperatures are cooler, and the leaves are changing a little every day. And since the Red Sox are done for the season, you have a little more time to keep your yard looking its best year round with some easy fall yard care tips.

Beautify with New Tress, Shrubs, and Annuals

Keep your yard looking beautiful by removing wilted summer annuals and replacing them with cool-weather varieties (make sure to fertilize the soil first). You’ll also want to stop fertilizing perennials. This will allow them to rest during winter and be healthier come spring. 

Planning to add or relocate trees or shrubs? Fall is a great time to do it. Cooler temperatures and occasional rainfall will help to encourage root growth before it gets too cold. Choose native plants for best results. 

Adjust Your Watering

As temperatures dip, plants and grass need less water. Reduce manual watering and make sure to keep an eye on automatic systems, adjusting them as needed.

Fall is also an excellent time to start practicing water conservation techniques. Set up a rain bucket, if you don’t already have one. 

Take Care of Your Lawn

Lawns can take quite a beating in Western Massachusetts in the summer, especially if your community, like mine, had water restriction rules in place. So, managing your lawn is an important part of fall yard care.

As the weather cools, lawn growth will slow. Make sure to continue mowing your lawn (adjust the mower blade as needed) until it becomes dormant. A good rule of thumb is no lower than 2 1/2 inches in the fall and winter months. 

Whether you're planting a new lawn or working on your existing lawn, it’s time to overseed with cool season turf grasses such as bluegrasses, bentgrasses, fescues, and ryegrasses. Remove thatch from your lawn. This can be done by hand or the easier way of renting an aerator or dethatcher. Doing so will encourage healthy root systems, plus aerating allows water to penetrate deeper, helping to avoid runoff. 

Clean Up Debris

Of course, a big part of fall yard care is cleaning up debris, including dead plants or leaves.

First, there’s no need to remove a few straggling leaves from your lawn. Just mow right over them, and they’ll help to fertilize your lawn.

For yards with more trees, consider starting a compost pile. Compost can be used as mulch, and using it in your yard helps save on your water bills, reduces the need to fertilize (which is better for the environment), and saves you time (no bagging leaves). Simply add your yard waste to a compost pile instead of throwing it out.

 

Pamela Sclafani is the Marketing Manager for Coldwell Banker Upton Massamont. She lives in the Pioneer Valley and enjoys everything it has to offer, gorgeous scenery, hills and mountains for hiking, lakes for paddle boarding, the change of seasons, and the close proximity to Boston and New York.

Seller Tips to Interior Painting

Painting your home for staging purposes is a little different than painting your home for personal pleasure. While your daughter may love having her walls painted Barbie pink, a potential buyer may see this as a distraction. Choosing neutral colors will enable buyers to imagine themselves in your home much easier. And while a fresh coat of paint on your walls may initially seem to be a costly endeavor to undertake, consider that painting your home can increase the value of your home by a few thousand dollars in some cases. Below is a basic guide to what colors you should have in mind if you plan on painting your home for show.

The Kitchen - Kitchens do well with yellows, oranges, and reds. As long as the shade is neutral, these colors will serve to highlight home appliances, kitchen size, and overall comfort. Picking these food-friendly colors will definitely kick your kitchen up a notch.

Bathrooms - Bathrooms, because of their size, are best served by very light colors such as tan or pale yellow. The darker you go, the smaller your bathroom will look. In addition, Light colors will also give a sense of cleanliness to a bathroom. If you happen to have a bathroom that already boasts a robust color due to architecture or tile, then pulling colors from these may be an option. For instance, if you have a tile floor in the bathroom with a blue or red in it, then drawing from these colors and choosing a paler shade for the walls could potentially work for the overall flow of the bathroom.

Bedrooms - Bedrooms should always steer clear of bright colors, but other than that, you can have a bit more freedom here. Things to keep in mind include the color and style of flooring and fixtures, and whether or not your master bedroom has a master bathroom. Be sure to pick colors that compliment each other if so.

Hallways and the rest - Again, you get a bit more freedom here. Salmon-hued paints have a tendency to make people look lively and energized, while beige and blue tones can convey a sense of tranquility and calm. Beige with green tones can be energizing, so it may be something to consider once you reach the living room. Bright reds should probably be avoided in hallways, as they have a tendency to keep people from fully relaxing. This may sound a little crazy, but it's true.

Time to Clean the Chimney

The weather is colder and you may be thinking about firing up the wood stove or stoking up the fireplace. Before you do that you want to make sure your chimney is in good working order. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends hiring a certified, professional chimney sweep to inspect your chimney.

The CSIA has a list of questions you should ask your chimney sweep before hiring them:

1. How long has the chimney sweeping company been in business? 2. Does the company offer current references? 3. Does the company have unresolved complaints filed within the city or state consumer protection agency or Better Business Bureau? 4. Does the company or individual carry a valid business liability insurance policy to protect your home and furnishings against accidents? 5. Does the company ensure that a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep will be on the job site?

It is important to get your chimney professionally inspected annually. The proper care and maintenance of a chimney can help protect people from unnecessary fires and carbon monoxide poisonings.

Home Buyers Tips - Lead Paint

Paint Can-BrushDid you know that approximately three-quarters of the housing in the United States built before 1978 contain lead-based paint? That is about 64 million homes.  Lead paint can pose little risk, but it can also cause serious risks when it isn't properly maintained and managed.  The EPA has provided this pamphlet to help answer some of your questions about Lead Poisoning and why you should know.

There are approximately 1.7 million children that have blood-lead levels above safe limits. Lead poisoning can cause permanent brain damage and damage other organs. It can also cause abnormal fetal development for pregnant women. Lead comes into bodies by breathing or swallowing lead dust, soil or paint chips.

The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction ACT of 1992 directs the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure people receive information needed to protect themselves from lead-based paint hazards.

In 2008, EPA issued the Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule. It requires that firms performing renovation, repair, and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in pre-1978 homes, child care facilities and schools be certified by EPA. If you are a homeowner performing renovation, repair, or painting work in your own home, EPA's RRP rule does not cover your project. For information on the RRP click here.

For home buyers federal regulations require that home sellers provide lead disclosures to home buyers who are purchasing a home built before 1978. Buyers have 10 days to conduct a lead-based paint inspection or risk assessment at their own expense. The regulation does not require any testing or removal of lead-based paint by sellers.

 

Things to Do... When a Storm is Approaching

Snow DayToday is a Snow Day in the Pioneer Valley.... Just thought it is important to share a few tips to be ready for the storms....no matter the form they come in.

One thing is for sure you cannot control mother nature but you can control how prepared you are.  The weather can be unpredictable so it is important to prepare as best you can.

Here are some things you can do when you know a storm is coming:

1. Keep up-to-date on the weather conditions.

2. Charge your cell phone. Make sure to also have a car charger for your cell phone.

3. Charge your laptop computer and tablet devices.

4. Set your refrigerator and freezer controls to coldest settings.

5. Fill the gas tank in your car.

6. Have cash available.

7. Fill your bathtub with water.

8. Shop for bottled water and non perishables for quick and easy meals.

9. Make sure the tank on your gas grill is full.

10. Check flashlights and batteries.

11. Have a battery or hand crank-powered radio.

12. Have a hard-wired land line telephone available.

With just a few easy steps you can be storm-ready in no time.

Tips to Solve Everyday Problems

Why didn't I think of that?! There are simple and easy ways to make everyday tasks easier. Here are just a few ingenious little tips, tricks and ideas that solve everyday problems ... some you never knew you had!

Hull strawberries easily using a straw.

Clever ideas: hull strawberries with a straw
Via: amy-newnostalgia.blogspot.com

Rubbing a walnut over scratches in your furniture will disguise dings and scrapes.

Clever ideas: use a walnut to heal furniture scratches
Via: apartmenttherapy.com

Remove crayon masterpieces from your TV or computer screen with WD40 (also works on walls).

Clever ideas: WD40 for cleaning crayon off TV screens
Via: unplggd.com

Overhaul your linen cupboard - store bedlinen sets inside one of their own pillowcases and there will be no more hunting through piles for a match.

Clever ideas: store bedlinen sets inside their pillowcases
Via: marthastewart.com

Pump up the volume by placing your iPhone / iPod in a bowl - the concave shape amplifies the music.

Clever ideas: bowl as iPhone sound amplifier
Via: realsimple.com

Re-use a wet-wipes container to store plastic bags.

Cleaver ideas: wet wipe dispenser as plastic bag storage
Via: savvyhousekeeping.com

Stop cut apples browning in your child's lunch box by securing with a rubber band.

Clever ideas: keep a cut apple from going brown
Via: athomewithrealfood.blogspot.com

Plan to Sell your home over the next 6 months?

You have made the decision to put your home up for sale sometime over the next 6 months. With Fall here your plans will come to pass during the winter selling season.

While the weather holds and before you stick the sign in the yard there are a few things you will want to do.   First, it will be helpful to contact your Coldwell Banker Upton-Massamont REALTOR now to see what suggestions they may have to assist with the process.

Here are just a few of the basic repairs you will want to conquer before the first prospective buyer walks through the door:

1.Tackle the Entrance

This is the first thing people see when they come to your home. Paint the front door and trim surrounding the door. Repair sagging screen doors and replace any missing or corroded hinge screws and tighten the rest.

2. Spruce up the Perimeter

Walk the perimeter of your home, clear away dead plants, clip blossoms, and clear away leaves and other yard waste.

3. Recheck the roof

Any problem that has the word roof in it scares a buyer away immediately. Replace missing shingles and fix hanging gutters.  Remove any moss growing on the roof as this shows signs of neglect.

4. Clear and caulk gutters.

Clear all the debris out of the gutters and recaulk the gutter end caps.

5. Patch nail holes and repaint.

Patch up nail holes in the walls of your home. Use a lightweight putty to fill the holes and paint the repaired spots.

6. Clean the Grout

Deep clean tile grout with bleach.  Regrout tiles where needed and recaulk cracks between sinks, tubs, toilets, counters and floors. This will give your tile a whole new look.

7. Stop Dripping Faucets

Fix leaky faucets before the buyer notices them.  You may need to call in a plumber to do this task. Before you do that you can shut off the water supply and check for moisture on the wall around the valves and on the floor of the sink cabinet. Many hardware stores carry faucet rebuild kits that contain the 6 to 12 parts most likely to fail, including the metal ball, O rings, springs and gaskets.

 

 

Smoke Detectors: What You NEED to Know

Smoke detectors save lives and in the state of Massachusetts you must have an inspection of your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detector before your home may be transferred.  Whether you are buying a home or selling a home this is important information for you to know.

Mass.gov has a nice booklet (pdf) with important state and consumer information about Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors-Click HERE.   Then, be sure to check with your local fire department for details in your town.

Here are a few tips on what you need to know about buying, installing, and maintaining your smoke detectors:

What should I buy?

The National Burn Institute recommends only buying smoke alarms tested by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). You will also want to make sure the smoke detector has a battery backup. Smoke detectors that don't work in a power outage are no good. Buy a combination smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector, they may be more expensive, but well worth the money.

There are two main types of smoke alarms, which are categorized by the type of smoke detection sensor used in the alarm. They are ionization and photoelectric.

Ionization smoke detectors

Ionization detectors respond quickly to flaming fires with smaller combustion particles. They contain a chamber with two plates that generate a small, continuous electric current. When smoke enters the ionization chamber, the smoke particles disrupt the current flow, which triggers the alarm.

Photoelectric smoke detectors

Photoelectric detectors respond more quickly to smoldering fires. They use a light beam and light receptor. When smoke is present between the light and receptor, the photocell sensor triggers the alarm.

Combination smoke detectors

The best smoke alarms can sense both types of fires (flaming and smoldering). For the highest degree of safety and preparedness, there are combination smoke alarms also that combine ionization and photoelectric detectors into one unit, called dual sensor smoke alarms.

Check with your local fire department to see what kind of detector they recommend.

Installation and Maintenance

Smoke detectors should be installed on each floor, outside of every bedroom and sleeping area and near any air vents. Detectors should also be installed high on walls or on ceilings because smoke rises. Avoid installing detectors near windows, doors or where there are openings where smoke can escape.

Check with your local fire department for specific regulations on the placement of detectors.

Smoke detectors have a lifespan of about seven to 10 years, and it's important to replace old detectors according to the model's recommendations. Test your alarm's batteries monthly and remember to replace all batteries at least once a year. Clean and vacuum the grill of your detector to get rid of dust and debris. Other maintenance includes a monthly testing of the alarm and cleaning with a vacuum hose about once every month.

First Impressions: Your Front Door

445 Shays Street, Amherst, MA 01002

Nothing makes more of a statement about a home than the front door. The front door is the first thing people see when they go to your home. Since the front door is a key focal point when people go to your house it is important to make a good impression. Remember first impressions may end up being lasting impressions.

According to the latest research, it takes just ten seconds to decide whether or not you will buy a house. Four of those ten seconds will be standing at the front door. According to designer Ceciia Neal, "Your front door reflects what you think about a house. A door can sell a property." You never get a second chance to make a good impression, so why not get it right the first time?

There are many ways to make a front door and entry way more appealing without breaking the

445 Shays Street, Amherst, MA 01002

bank. If you have an open porch, spruce it up, add seasonal decorations, a basket of flowers. Use window boxes or hanging baskets. Put down a new door mat, nothing to crazy. Make sure the front door is not in need of any repairs, and give it a good cleaning. Create a welcoming entrance leading to your front door with flower beds and big pots of flowers.

Consider painting your front door to an eye catching color that makes a statement. Change your door knob, maybe try decorative hardware. You will be surprised how these few changes can transform your front door into an inviting entrance

Ready for the Spring Market?

The snow is almost gone up here in the hilltowns and I am sure the Pioneer Valley is drying out.  Time to start that yard clean up before the leaves and flower gardens start blooming.  If you are in the market for selling your home this is a crucial time to spruce up for the Spring Market.

With first impressions as important as they are, Coldwell Banker Blue Matter shares "3 Affordable Ways to Spruce Up Your Front Porch For Spring".  Coldwell Banker created a board for those interested in their front door wreath idea, check it out!

Here is an article from "This Old House" about spring clean up.  The blog posted this article in March, which probably was good timing for many but we are just passing the "squirt" test up here.

ehow Home shares tips and instructions about cleaning up your yard after a long winter.

AND, for the Pinterest fans the pins are unlimited with ideas, instructions and more for your Spring Clean Up Projects.  We just started our own boards on Pinterest, check out our progress.

Hope everyone enjoys this Spring weather....