Dreaming of a gourmet kitchen?

Ask any architect to define a gourmet kitchen and you’ll likely get a definition that goes somewhat like this:

A gourmet kitchen is “… a state-of-the-art culinary setup that’s equipped with a large range of special features, appliances, and accessories that make cooking gourmet, exotic, and specialty foods from scratch in your own kitchen a reality.” (casedesign.com)

Homebuilders, on the other hand, think of a gourmet kitchen as a “… casual version of a high-end kitchen, designed for a serious cook who wants to prepare quality meals for the family and impress dinner guests with elaborate meals, but who does not need all the professional-level equipment that’s a must for a chef’s kitchen.”

Whichever way you look at it, if a gourmet kitchen is the stuff of dreams for you, read on.

Things to consider before you commit

The first thing you’ll want to figure out is how much you can afford to budget for the project. This is a longer process than it may seem, especially once you start getting quotes from contractors.

It’s shocking how much we underestimate what our dreams will cost.

Keep in mind that if you opt for a low-priced remodel, look at your current overall kitchen design. It’s not worth adding a couple of high-priced items to a low-priced remodeling job, as that only makes the rest of the kitchen look cheap.

Here are a few suggested considerations, offered up by the pros at designingidea.com.

  • Think about which appliances you use most frequently and which you prefer.
  • Are you a solo cook or is it a couple’s affair? If it’s the latter, you’ll want to consider leaving room for both of you.
  • Traffic flow should also be considered if you entertain folks in the kitchen while cooking. Consider a kitchen island with seating.
  • What types of special equipment do you use in the kitchen? For instance, some professional immersion blenders are built like jackhammers and will require a place to store in the kitchen.
  • How much room will you need for a pantry? This depends, of course, on the type of food that you cook.
  • Decide on the flow of the room. You’ll need to think about how you cook, how you move from one space to another and which of the spaces needs to be adjacent to the sink, stove, etc.
  • Finally, you’ll need to find out if the project will mess with your home’s value. There is such a thing as “over-improving” for the neighborhood and that’s money you will never recoup.

We’re happy to work with you on coming up with a ball-park figure of what your home will be worth after the work is finished and whether or not the project worth it as far as home value is concerned.

Will you actually use the features you have your eye on?

It’s oh-so-easy to be flipping through a home-related magazine and fall deeply, madly in love with the photos. While some features look appealing, however, you need to consider if they will work for you.

Take a wine chiller, for instance. If you don’t drink a lot of wine, or your guests don’t, it is rather useless and a space hog.

“Before you begin your kitchen renovation, seriously review how you use your current kitchen and set goals for your remodel,” suggests the editors at HGTV.com. Take a look at what doesn’t work for you in your current kitchen and what would be a suitable replacement.

Then, ruminate over whether or not you’ll truly use the features you are craving.

Hot Trends for Gourmet Kitchens

Although they’ve become a staple in a gourmet kitchen, double ovens remain trending. How many times have you wished you could cook more than two dishes at a time?

Yes, the Wolf range is still one you’ll most likely find in an American gourmet kitchen. But it isn’t the only top-of-the-line range. Viking and Miele professional-style ranges gain fans every year and 2022 has been no exception.

“Dual-fuel ranges are popular with serious cooks – gas for high heat and electric burner(s) for tasks requiring lower heat,” according to the pros at kitchendesignpartner.com.

How to Avoid Breaking the Bank

While many people want custom cabinets and features, some can’t afford them. A lower-priced option is to consider semi-custom cabinets, which do offer most of the same features. To cut the cost even further, take a look at stock cabinet options as well. They offer more options than ever before.

About half of the budget of the average kitchen remodel will go to the cabinets. With that in mind, it’s important to get cabinets that work for you and that will keep you happy, since it’s unlikely you’ll replace them a second time.

You may also want to ensure you’re getting cabinets that comply with industry performance and quality standards. The Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (KCMA) tests cabinets under rigorous conditions and certifies those that pass with a blue and white seal that can be found on the inside of the sink base cabinet.

Also, keep in mind that not all gourmet kitchen designs have to involve a complete kitchen remodel. Depending on the features you want, some updates can be done without the use of a kitchen contractor.

 

 

Big ideas for a small bathroom “remodel” on a dime

Large-bathroom envy. It’s common among homeowners in small homes with cramped bathrooms and most feel that they are stuck with what they have.

The truth is, there are plenty of remodeling/redecorating ideas to make a small bathroom feel and look larger than it is and they don’t require a single additional foot of space.

Follow these tips and start living large with a bathroom floor plan that might otherwise seem small.

Trick the eyes

High ceilings make rooms look larger and a few tricks can make yours soar.

Look up. See the spot where the walls meet the ceiling? Consider attaching some wood molding, tile or even a wallpaper boarder in those spots. Ensure that the product you choose is simple and thin.

“Wide, contrasting, and ornate molding will make a room with short ceilings appear smaller. Thin, color-matched, and simple molding will blend the walls into the ceiling in a smooth transition and make a room look bigger,” suggest the pros at homedecorbliss.com.

They also suggest that the molding be painted the same color as the ceiling.

Here’s another tip: Two mirrors placed opposite of one another will trick the eyes into seeing the bathroom as more palatial than it is. Or, you might want to consider placing a large mirror along one of the longest walls in the bathroom to add to the illusion.

“Decorating with mirrors is a must for making a small bathroom look bigger,” suggests Sophie Warren-Smith at homeandgardens.com.

Color

Soft color schemes are ideal for giving the illusion of more space in a small room. Cool colors reflect more light than warmer colors and should be used not only on the walls, but the trim and doors as well.

The editors at customtubandtile.net suggest sticking with designer-proven colors, such as:

  • White
  • Crème
  • Pastel blue
  • Gray

Then, lighten up the floor to make the bathroom appear more open and spacious. If you can’t afford to replace your flooring right now, consider using a light-colored rug to get the same effect.

Less is more in some cases

Go easy on the window treatments. In a small bathroom the general rule of thumb let in as much natural light as possible.

Consider ditching the window coverings altogether. “… natural light can make even the smallest bathroom appear larger,” suggests Paige Bennett at angi.com. “For added privacy without sacrificing light, install frosted glass windows,” she concludes.

If you have the budget, the installation of a solar tube or small skylight will allow even more light into the room.

Ditch the clutter

Even a little bit of clutter in a small space can make the room appear smaller.

Use your cupboard space wisely by storing all that clutter within in bins and baskets. Keep all countertops clear of anything that isn’t decorative.

Plumbing considerations

Oversized plumbing fixtures can make the room look cluttered and cramped as well. Consider ditching the bulky vanity for a pedestal sink. If you choose this option, however, you’ll lose the aforementioned storage option.

Swab out a rarely-used tub for a sleek, glass-enclosed shower.

A small bathroom doesn’t have to be cramped and dreary. You can make it cozy and intimate, with minimal effort and (very often) a minimal investment in time and cost.

How to get rid of fungus gnats in the home

According to the experts at Garden Media Group, the U.S. gained 18.3 million new gardeners during the pandemic.

Not all of these green-thumbers are playing in the dirt outside. In fact, houseplant popularity surged 18% while we were all snuggled down at home because of Covid, according to statistics published online at gardenpals.com.

One of the biggest challenges for the indoor gardener is the pest predicament. From “How did they get in my home?” to “How do I kill them,” garden groups on Facebook are full of tormented houseplant growers.

The most frustrating pest is the fungus gnat (Bradysia spp). A small winged pest, you’ll find them dead in droves near your potted plants, near the kitchen sink and flying into your face as you cross a room.

Lucky you, because we have a tried-and-true remedy to get rid of these nasty little bombardiers for good.

What you need to know about fungus gnats

“Fungus gnats are small flies that infest soil, potting mix, other container media, and other sources of organic decomposition,” according to scientists with the University of California Integrated Pest Management Program

They are especially fond of peat-based soil. The adult lays her eggs in the soil. When they hatch, the larvae gorge on any organic matter in the soil, “but also chew roots and can be a problem,” warns the experts at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Many gardeners rely on yellow sticky traps to trap as many adults as possible. These, however, do nothing to rid the house of fungus gnat larvae, which reside in the soil.

Forget those DIY recipes you’ll find online

There are lots of these recipes online. While people swear that theirs is the very best, most of them have been debunked via scientific research.

Universities have studied using a layer of sand on the top of the soil to discourage the gnats from laying eggs in the soil.

It didn’t work, although it’s one of the most popular suggestions from amateur gardeners. The research in fact found that when sand dries, it creates crevices, through which the female gnat can gain access to the soil.

Hydrogen peroxide, bottom watering the plant and a mixture of apple cider vinegar and several drops of liquid dish detergent in a bowl next to the plant are likewise pure myth.

So, how do you get rid of those creepy hordes of fungus gnats?

The one we’ve found works the best, without resorting to the use of toxic chemicals, is Mosquito Bits, a product usually used to kill mosquitos.

Mosquito Bits contain Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti), “… a biological or a naturally occurring bacterium found in soils,” that is non-toxic according to the EPA.

The various Bt strains contain spores that produce toxins that specifically target and only affect the larvae of specific pests. For instance, Btk (Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki) targets caterpillars.

It’s important that you ensure you’re purchasing the proper Bt strain (in this case, israelensis).

Mosquito Bits are available online at Amazon.com, Lowes.com and Homedepot.com, among other retailers.

Since gardeners love to try their own methods, the two we’ve heard have met with the best results are to:

  • Sprinkle the Mosquito Bits onto the top of the soil and water the plant.
  • Follow the package instructions which suggests that you mix the bits with water, allow them to sit for a period of time and then water the plant with the solution.

You may need to repeat the application in a week or so to ensure that you get all the larvae.

Follow ALL precautions on the label and use only as instructed.

Garden flowers that thrive in summer sun

If you have a garden patch of soil that gets six or more hours of sun per day, consider yourself very fortunate; you have your pick of a vast array of flowers that will thrive in your summer garden.

As an added bonus, most sun-loving flowers are also easy-care and somewhat drought tolerant. From tropical to woodland flowers, the full-sun gardener will have no problem finding color for her garden.

Coreopsis (Coreopsis spp.)

This plant lives for sunshine. The coreopsis is, after all, related to the sunflower. The yellow and red flowers look a bit more like daisies than sunflowers, attract butterflies, and grow on stalks that can reach 4 feet in height.

Coreopsis loves warm weather and is generally drought-tolerant. It is hardy to USDA zones 3 to 9.

Lavender (Lavandula spp)

Growing lavender, either in the garden or in pots on the patio, is like living next door to a perfumery. Lavender boasts a highly fragrant flower, and the more alkaline the soil, the stronger the aroma will get.

Lavender thrives in full, warm sun, isn’t particular about the soil and, once established, it is drought-tolerant. You can grow lavender in USDA zones 5a to 9b.

Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

When you plant black-eyed Susan you will also get the bees, butterflies and birds who are highly attracted to this plant. The yellow, daisy-like flower has a dark, almost black center.

The black-eyed Susan needs full sun, will grow to 36 inches in height and blooms profusely in mid-summer to early fall. Hardy to USDA zones 5a to 10b.

Canna lily (Canna spp.)

If you long for a more tropical-looking vibe for your garden, you can’t go wrong with a canna lily or two.

With banana-like leaves and an abundance of tropical colored flowers from which to choose, the canna is a true showoff. And, by the way, despite its name, it is not a true lily.

In regions with cold, icy winters, canna rhizomes  are typically planted in the garden after the last frost date. Gardeners in warm regions often leave them in the soil over the winter.

Canna lilies thrive in USDA hardiness zones 8 through 11.

Marigold (Tagetes spp.)

The term “marigold” covers a diverse array of plant sizes and shapes. Plant height can range from 6 inches to 3 feet and flowers can resemble pom-poms, anemones or daisies.

Marigolds grow well in USDA planting zones 2 – 11.

Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)

No list of sun-loving flowers would be complete without mentioning the sunflower. It’s name says it all, right?

Native to North America, the sunflower’s ideal climate is arid with temperatures between 70 and 78 degrees. Yes, you can grow them in the heat of summer, but they won’t be at their best unless given lots of water and protection from burning sun during the hottest part of the day.

Most sunflower varieties are hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9.

While all of these flowers are tolerant of the sun, if you live in the desert southwest or other areas that experience extreme heat in the summer, they may need shade during the hottest part of the day and extra moisture in the soil.

New homeowner? Common home repairs and what they cost

There’s an old saying among boat owners: “A boat is nothing more than a hole in the water into which you throw money.”

The same can be said for some homes, especially older homes that haven’t been updated.

Regardless of how old a home is, it will require some sort of repair during the time you own it. In fact, a Hippo survey found that 77% of new homeowners will experience some sort of “… unexpected issue …” that needs repair during the first year of ownership.

Some repairs will be minor and, perhaps, DIY-able. Others are of the “OMG, I’m going to be sick” variety.

Today we’ll take a look at the less-cardiac-inducing and most common home repairs and how much you can expect to pay for them.

Common home repairs and how much they’ll set you back

We’ve combed the various home repair sites to come up with an average cost for some of the most common repairs.

Remember, we are currently experiencing inflation, supply chain issues and more, so these prices may increase by the time you need to make any of the repairs.

But, at least you’ll have a ballpark figure to work with when it comes to setting up your home repair fund.

Electrical problems

Electrical problems top the list of most common repairs needed after a home purchase. The most common problem seems to be insufficient Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) installed in and around the home.

“A GFCI should be used in any indoor or outdoor area where water may come into contact with electrical products. The National Electrical Code currently requires that GFCIs be used in all kitchens, bathrooms, garages, and outdoors,” according to the experts at the Electrical Safety Foundation International.

Unless you are very familiar with electrical work, you’ll need to hire a professional electrician. Plan on spending between $7 and $25 for the outlet itself.

Then, you’re looking at between “. . . $125 to $250 per outlet depending on if you’re replacing an existing or adding a new location,” claims Lauren Lloyd at forbes.com.

Water heater repair or replacement

Consider yourself lucky if your home inspector finds the water heater problem so that you can negotiate with the seller to make the repair.

Otherwise, you are looking at paying nearly $600 for repair. This is the national average cost, according to HomeAdvisor.com. “The typical range for repairs is between $220 and $958,” they claim.

If you need a new water heater you’ll pay between $600 to $1,800.

Plumbing problems

Leaky, dripping faucets and pipes are one of the most common plumbing problems encountered by the new homeowner. Thankfully, they are also among the cheapest to remedy.

If you feel that your DIY skills aren’t up to the task, however, call a plumber.

“The average cost [nationwide] for labor and parts to repair a dripping faucet is $200 to $330, with most repairs costing $270,” according to research performed by the pros at homeadvisor.com.

Leaking pipes can be a bit pricey to fix, especially if the plumber needs to find the pipe that’s leaking.

According to homeadvisor.com, sleuthing may tack on $100 to the average cost of $150 to $350 to repair the pipe and another $250 to $750 to repair the drywall after the repair.

How will you pay for these repairs?

“Money expert” Clark Howard suggests that you create a Fix-It Fund to help save for unexpected home repair expenses. He urges homeowners to put “. . . the equivalent of two monthly mortgage payments aside in a maintenance and repair fund for your home.”

With the prices of most everything skyrocketing, this is easier said than done. But it’s not impossible. Although Howard suggests that you save this money over the course of a year, right now you may want to be more flexible with the deadline.

Just start saving, whatever you can, every month in a dedicated account and don’t touch it for anything but home repairs.

To learn more about how to start your Fix-It Fund, visit clark.com.

3 Big To-Do’s Before You List Your Home

When it comes to its value, both financially and sentimentally, a home is really in a league of its own. Regardless of size and amenities, a place to live will always carry importance and the process of selling or buying is not to be taken lightly. Instead of starting with no gameplan, make sure to employ the services of a real estate agent to guide you through the process.

It would certainly be ideal to be able to plan a sale beforehand and to give yourself enough time to figure out every detail. Unfortunately, many transactions happen out of need and are caused by an important event in the life of a family, like bringing a child into the world, marriage or in some cases, the death of a family member.

Even without the luxury of premeditating your every move, here are a few pointers in case you want to sell your home:

Make Sure You Really Want To Sell

As stated above, selling a home is a big step. Before starting the process you’ll want to make sure that this is really what you want and that it will have the desired effect for you. Think ahead and plan accordingly. Did you settle on a new home already or at least made sure you have narrowed down your choices? If not, take a step back and think it over.

Without a clear notion of what you want, you might be tempted to just test the waters. That usually involves over-evaluating your home and placing it on the market with a much higher price than it should have. This is something no real estate agent would ever recommend. Since living spaces are expensive, buyers will, much more often than not, be informed and have at least a ballpark idea of how much your home is really worth.

There’s little room for trial and error in real estate, and that’s because you’ll carry your history with you. Even if you later drop the price for your home, the listings will show the previous entries and potential buyers will interpret the change badly, either by assuming there is something wrong with the property or by thinking that the seller is not being straight-forward with them.

Plan Ahead & Know The Market

Some changes sneak their way into your life and compel you to take action, but others give you enough time to prepare. The addition of a new family member or a change in the place of employment are such fortunate cases that allow you to do your research and make the most out of the sale.

Don’t just throw your home out there the moment you realize you’ll have to sell, not unless you have to. There’s always something to be done around the house to increase that property’s value and net you more money once you do sell, from a new coat of paint to replacing bathroom tiles to the shingles on the roof.

A real estate agent can come to your aid in regards to watching the market, see what the competition is up to and when is the ideal time for you to place the home on the market. Keeping an eye on other sellers can also give you a good idea on just how many buyers are out and about looking for a new place to live.

Remember That The Demand Is Always There

While you may dread the idea of moving in the winter, especially if you live in areas with a harsh climate, selling your home then could be more profitable. That’s because the number of buyers does not drop drastically, however there aren’t nearly as many sellers. If able, try to assess the situation and the market as bet as possible. Professional help really comes in handy here. And most importantly, don’t sell in a hurry.

In real estate, slow and steady wins the game. If you rush the sale and don’t get your property in decent enough shape, you will miss an opportunity of getting more money from it.

If you let feelings get a hold of you and dictate the price, you’ll not only miss the chance to sell, but also have that mistake follow you for the future, possible transaction. Be patient and cerebral, make a plan and stick to it, the desired result will be just around the corner.

DIYs for instant impact in your garden

Passionate gardeners wait month after dreary month for spring. But poring over seed and plant catalogs, on and offline, can only help so much.

Now that spring is in full swing, the soil is warm, the temperatures are climbing, it’s definitely time to celebrate your garden.

Today, however, we’ll take a look at some non-plant ideas to consider for your landscaping. Known as “hardscaping,” it can completely (unlike plants that take time to grow to maturity) transform your garden instantly.

Adding hardscaping to your garden can not only be a cheap way to make a statement, but present a creative outlet as well.

Create curiosity with a pathway

Where does it lead? What will I see along the way? These are just two of the questions we subconsciously ask ourselves when we see a pathway.

You don’t have to bust your landscaping budget, however. Pathways can be created from items you may have lying around the home, including wood, pebbles, sand, gravel and mulch. Find cheap pathway ideas online at familyhandyman.com.

If you prefer pavers, “Bluestone, granite, limestone and slate are all popular choices,” according to Jeannie Matteucci at hgtv.com.

Add creative lighting

Consider lighting for your new pathway, as a spotlight on a feature planting, on the patio, strung from a fence or one of the many ideas you’ll find online at apieceofrainbow.com.

Oh, and for a really easy DIY solution, check out solar-powered landscape lighting.

Install a water feature

“Sounds like birdsong and flowing water may alleviate stress, help lower blood pressure and lead to feelings of tranquility,” claims Brian Handwerk, science correspondent with smitsonianmag.com.

What better way to achieve these benefits than in your own backyard? Water features to consider include a birdbath with a fountain, a waterfall, DIY vases and urns turned into bubblers and more. Check out additional ideas (including links to DIY instructions) at earthdevelopment.com.

Separate the lawn from landscape plants

Sometimes, hidden garden edging isn’t enough. If you have a particularly striking tree or other plant in the landscape, consider adding edging around it.

Whether you choose a circle, square or freeform shape, materials for the edging can range from bricks, rocks, ready-made short fences in metal, wood, bamboo and more.

Get DIY tips and inspiration on youtube.com and pinterest.com.

Plant vines on a trellis or arbor

Although the trellis and/or arbor are the workhorses of the garden, they can be as attractive as they are functional.

If what you’ll grow on them will cover the structure, the arbor or trellis’ beauty isn’t a consideration. Get DIY tips for these online at youtube.com.

If functional and gorgeous is your aim, check out these beauties at Pinterest.com.

Garden décor

Patios are the perfect place for garden décor, but do consider letting it spill out onto the backyard as well.

  • Statuary
  • Decorative wind chimes
  • Wall art

Simple ways to save money on cooling costs this summer

Scorching. That’s the type of weather the folks at almanac.com say we can expect this summer. “On average, we’re predicting summer temperatures to be hotter than normal across most of the country, ranging from the Atlantic Corridor south to Florida, across to the West Coast, and almost everywhere in between.”

Add to that the very sad but real fact that in 2021, electricity rates rose faster than they have since 2008. Summer won’t be just hot, but expensive as well.

We scoured the internet for tips from experts on how we can all keep comfortable at home without breaking our budgets. Let’s take a look at a few of these tips.

Tune it up

Every year as we approach late spring, air conditioning contractors ramp up their advertising about the importance of annual maintenance.

They have a point.

“An air conditioner’s filters, coils, and fins require regular maintenance for the unit to function effectively and efficiently throughout its years of service,” explain the experts at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)

“Neglecting necessary maintenance ensures a steady decline in air conditioning performance while energy use steadily increases.”

Researchers at homeadvisor.com suggest that you plan on spending between $75 to $200 for a “simple tune-up.”

Sounds crazy but …

Raise the thermostat on your AC system. “The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be,” claims our pro at the DOE.

Experiment with various temperature settings to find one that you can live comfortably with all summer. Seventy-eight degrees Fahrenheit while you are at home is what most of the pros recommend and 85 degrees if you’re leaving home and won’t return for at least four hours.

Need some incentive? You can realize a 1% to 3% savings on your energy bill for each degree higher that you set the AC system’s thermostat.

Wind chill in the summer?

Consider purchasing several circulating fans and using your ceiling fans. “These fans create a wind chill effect that will make you more comfortable in your home, even if it’s also cooled by natural ventilation or air conditioning,” say our friends at energy.gov.

Because they tend to amplify the feeling of cooler air, you may be able to bump that AC thermostat a notch or two higher.

In fact, the folks at energy.gov say that “If you use air conditioning to cool your home, a ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort.” That’s money saved, right there.

Additional tips

  • Turn off the AC and open the doors and windows when the air outside is cooler than that inside the home.
  • Do some gardening. Shrubs and trees in the landscape not only help raise the value of your home, but, if placed strategically, they will shade the home, cooling it off naturally.

Clean energy company Constellation offers a list of ways to cool your home with strategic landscaping. Surprisingly, they claim that “The net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to 10 room-sized air conditioners that operate 20 hours a day” and “Just three trees, properly placed around a house, can reduce energy use by up to 30%.”

  • Consider installing window film and block-out curtains to keep the summer sun from heating up your home. The curtains are available at many retailers, including bedbathandbeyond.com, target.com and amazon.com.

Check out heat-blocking window film at homedepot.com, amazon.com and lowes.com.

 

A new roof is expensive. Take care of the one you have

As a roof ages, problems with it are inevitable. Even new roofs, however, are susceptible to the forces of nature, whether they include high winds that send trees crashing down, ice dams or pelting hail.

Of course, these roof repair emergencies are unavoidable, but routine maintenance can help stop smaller problems from becoming catastrophic. The experts at HomeAdvisor.com suggest that most roof leaks stem from these common problems:

  • Inadequate roof pitch – low-slope or flat roofs are a bad choice in areas with lots of rain
  • Missing shingles – even heavy material can lift and blow away
  • Ice dams – Snow that melts and refreezes can build up, damming all the water behind it
  • Faulty step flashing – common in older roofs
  • Faulty pipe flashing – rain and snow can corrode the sealant, allowing moisture into the home
  • Valleys – these are the channels that carry rainwater and if they’re damaged, the water won’t flow

“Minor repairs range between $150 and $1,500,” according to Chauncey Crail and Lexie Pelchen at Forbes.com.

Bigger jobs, they go on to say, may cost anywhere from $1,500 and $7,000 and this cost doesn’t include that of any permits you may be required to obtain.

If the roof is beyond repair, plan on forking out “… between $5,434 and $11,151,” for a new one according to Meghan Wentland at Bobvilla.com.

Roof Emergency Prevention

No, you can’t prevent wicked weather, but take certain steps and you’ll prevent ancillary damage.

Roof maintenance is the “single most important factor (after proper installation) for determining the life span and cost of a roof system,” according to the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA). William Good, the group’s executive vice president adds that “too often, roofs are ignored until they leak — and often, at that point, they have to be completely replaced.”

Professional roofers offer these maintenance tips:

  • Inspect your roof twice a year, in fall and spring. Look closely at the shingles to ensure none are buckled, curled, cracked or missing. These need to be replaced immediately.

Then, inspect the area around the chimney, pipes and anything else that is attached to and extends from the roof. Look for looseness or wear.

Finally, when you clean the gutters, look for large amounts of shingle granules that have been blown off or worn away from the shingles. These granules add weight to the shingles and finding large amounts in the gutters is a sign that some of the shingles may need to be replaced.

  • Inspect the ceiling in the attic, looking for signs of moisture intrusion. These include a musty odor, mold and damp insulation.
  • Cut back tree branches that extend to within 6 feet of your roof.
  • Routinely remove leaves that fall on the roof. These trap moisture and may rot the roofing material beneath them, according to Werner & Sons Roofing in Grand Haven, MI.

No, the inspection doesn’t sound like fun. But, trust us, it’s a lot more fun than writing a check for the cost of a new roof.

Why is my smoke detector making noise?

Did you know that your chance of dying in a home fire is cut by 55% if the home contains working smoke alarms? According to the National Fire Protection Agency, maintaining the smoke alarm in your home is critical.

Pay attention if the unit beeps or chirps for no apparent reason. Typically, the batteries are dead and need to be replaced. When it’s a hardwired alarm that’s driving you nuts with noises, you’ll need to investigate the cause.

How old is the smoke detector?

The average life span of a smoke alarm is 10 years. If yours is older, it may be chirping to let you know it’s time to replace the entire unit.

There should be a date stamped on it somewhere, sometimes on the back of the unit so you may need to remove it from the ceiling. If it’s older than 10 years, buy a new one.

Dirt and grime are the enemies

Smoke detectors require routine cleaning to remain reliably operable. As well, “Most people don’t realize that the batteries should be replaced TWICE a year,” according to the cleaning pros at maidbrigade.com.

They go on to suggest that an easy way to remind yourself to perform this task is to plan on doing it when “… we change to daylight savings time and daylight standard time.”

You’ll not only want to change the batteries, but clean and test the smoke detector unit as well.

If the detector’s sensor is covered in dust or grime, the noise it’s emitting may be trying to alert you that it needs to be cleaned.

The best way to do this, if it’s just a film of dust, is with compressed air such as that you use to clean your computer.

If it’s grime that is causing the problem, use a microfiber cloth to wipe it clean.

You’ll find a walkthrough of how to clean a smoke alarm online at kidde.com.

Power outage

Even a momentary power outage can cause the smoke detector to chirp. It may also be chirping in response to a power surge. A professional electrician is required to remedy this problem.

When your smoke detector begins chirping, don’t ignore it and don’t put off investigating the cause. The detector is an important safety feature in the home so its maintenance requires immediate attention. If you can’t determine the reason for the chirping, call the manufacturer for assistance.

Additional smoke detector considerations

Safety experts suggest (and some state laws demand) that homes have working smoke detectors on each level of the home and in each hallway and bedroom.

Ceiling mounted detectors should be placed 4 inches from the wall and, “If your alarms are on the wall, they should be 4 to 12 inches from the ceiling,” according to the experts at the Texas Department of Insurance.

They also caution against placement near windows and vents and in areas with lots of drafts.

It may be challenging to figure out why a smoke alarm is all of a sudden making noise. If all else fails, replace the alarm. They aren’t terribly expensive and the peace of mind it will provide is well-worth the price.

You’ll find more help in figuring out why your alarm is chirping online at bobvilla.com.