What’s your biggest challenge at home? For many of us, it’s a lack of space.
So how can you carve out an extra bedroom, a home office or a study nook for a school-age child? The answer may not be as out-of-reach as you think.
Here are four solutions for a range of spaces and budgets.
1. Transform the Garage
Are you wishing for a home gym, an artist’s cottage, an office, a family room, an in-law suite or a rental apartment? Your garage may be the answer.
Both attached and unattached garages can be converted into an extra room. To get started, research local building codes and zoning ordinances. If you belong to an HOA, you’ll need to check their rules, too. If you’re doing more than small cosmetic changes, it’s also a good idea to consult with a professional architect, engineer and contractor.
2. Consider a Prefab Shed
Modern and inviting, a prefab shed is an easy way to add a room if you don’t have a garage to work with. And unlike with a garage remodel, you may not need a permit for installation.
3. Convert the Attic or Basement
As with a garage, an attic or basement could be remodeled into an inviting living space for a variety of uses. Consider adding a half-bath and/or kitchenette if you have the budget and want to create an in-law suite or apartment.
4. The “No-Remodel” Option
Finally, there are less expensive and invasive ways to create more space in your home. With more people working remotely, closet offices have become popular. Scan your space for any closets and corners where clutter has accumulated. How could these nooks be put to better use?
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This may sound obvious, but selling a house sometimes comes down to just how appealing your home is to potential homebuyers. The attributes that make your house attractive to buyers can include price, the condition of your home and its curb appeal, as well as details like the number of bathrooms, bedrooms and whether the home appears dated. Discerning buyers typically want to walk into a house and immediately feel at home. How quickly you sell your home ‒ and at what price ‒ may depend on your ability to create that I’m-already-at-home feel.
Here are 10 easy home remodeling ideas that can help transform your home sweet home to the gotta-have-it house of your buyer’s dreams.
1. Replace the garage door.
The surprise most home sellers discover ‒ often too late ‒ is that most sellers won’t fully recoup the cost of a renovation when they sell their home. When it comes to getting some bang for your renovating buck, however, the garage door is one suggestion to consider; it also can give a boost to your home’s curb appeal.
2. Upgrade the front door.
A relatively inexpensive yet effective home improvement idea is a new front door ‒ one of the first things a home shopper will notice when they view online photos or arrive for a showing. For example, a new steel door can be both eye‒catching and energy efficient ‒ a boon for cost-conscious buyers-to-be. Or you could consider the pricier installation of a grand entrance ‒ perhaps a new front door with dual skylights ‒ which can help increase the attraction from upscale buyers.
3. Re-face the house.
Another way to help increase your home value is by improving the exterior of your home. A good pressure washing may cost a few hundred dollars and can reduce or remove the unsightly dust, grime and mildew that often clings to exterior siding. For a house with more exterior wear, new siding is a pricey project but one that can help add a dramatic boost and take years off your home’s exterior appearance.
4. Maintain your lawn and refresh landscaping.
You only have one chance to make a great first impression ‒ which is why renovations affecting curb appeal make our list. Home improvements that help add value and appeal to buyers include standard lawn care and landscape maintenance. Consider it a smart investment that can eventually turn out to be money well spent when you’re prepping your house for sale.
5. Refresh the kitchen.
For many homeowners, the kitchen is where guests and family gather, making it one of the top house renovation ideas that come to mind when preparing a home for sale. Still, a major kitchen renovation may not be worth the cost when it comes time to sell; however, smaller, cost-effective upgrades can help make the kitchen more attractive.
Consider replacing laminate countertops with granite and replacing a sink and faucet, for example. Leave cabinet boxes in place but replace out-of-date doors and hardware ‒ or hire a professional to give doors and drawers a fresh coat of paint. Finally, you can replace older appliances with slide-in, energy-efficient, stainless steel models. It’s your call as to whether spending money on these kitchen redo’s is feasible; think about your individual circumstances and what your goal is for selling your home. It also may be helpful to contact your homeowners insurance representative, to make sure that any renovations you’re considering will be covered.
A savvy refresh doesn’t have to include all kitchen elements. Instead, to help save on cost, pick and choose the features that can make the greatest impression within your space.
6. Deep clean and declutter.
When it comes to selling a home, you want to make a great first impression. Messy playrooms, cat or dog odors (even if Fido isn’t home), or an unmade bed can all be a turnoff to potential homebuyers.
That may be why many real estate agents suggest their clients declutter and deep clean before listing their house for sale. While the main living spaces should take center stage, potential homebuyers may open your cabinets, drawers and refrigerator, so be sure to give them a good once-over, too.
7. Hire a professional home stager.
When it comes down to it, the buyers who can envision themselves living in your home are the ones most likely to buy. That’s why staging your home to sell is such a popular tactic. A professional home stager will suggest removing personal items like photographs and excess furniture. Many professionals suggest storing or removing a quarter to half of your possessions, including sofas, bookcases, knickknacks, books and even clothes in your closet.
Still, removing excess stuff is just the start. Stagers may rearrange furniture to highlight features like the fireplace, a view or unique architectural details. They may even suggest that you use a rental service to bring in items to dress up your home and will arrange for that service if you decide to take that advice.
A professional home stager will often cost several hundred dollars, but the investment can help a home sell faster ‒ and often at a higher price than similar homes. To get the biggest bang for your staging buck, stagers recommend focusing on the living room, master bedroom and kitchen, in that order.
8. A fresh coat of interior paint.
Paint has the power to entirely transform a home, particularly if it’s been a while since you upgraded your color scheme or if you happen to love eclectic colors. Neutrals are typically a safe bet ‒ they can create that clean slate feel that give home shoppers a greater ability to see their own belongings in your space.
9. Optimize lighting.
High-quality lighting can help make a room feel larger, more modern and more inviting to potential homebuyers. For daytime showings, open curtains and blinds to bring in as much natural light as you can. Take advantage of accent lighting throughout the day and evening to emphasize art, a reading nook or any other interesting features in your home. If your home still feels dark, try strategically placing a mirror to reflect light and help make a room appear brighter. Alternatively, you can help brighten your space by bringing in a stylish floor or table lamp.
If your fixtures are dated, new dining room and foyer chandeliers can bring a more modern vibe to your space.
10. Make small repairs.
You may be accustomed to the inconvenience of that torn window screen or leaky showerhead but, to a new potential homebuyer, they may be red flags, prompting them to stay alert for any other necessary but unmade home repairs they’ll have to consider when it comes time to make an offer.
Help get ahead of potential problems by doing a walkthrough, looking for any damage or necessary repairs. Then, consider hiring a handyman for the day. To really head off problems, consider hiring your own home inspector to help alert you to unexpected issues you can repair before homebuyers start walking through your home.
Before You Move, Review Your Homeowner’s Insurance Coverage
Selling your home is a good time to review your homeowners coverage. Learn more with us at:
Maybe you’ve heard that people who drive red cars get pulled over more, so insurers charge them higher rates. Or that if you let someone else drive your car, their policy will cover an accident.
Well, when it comes to auto insurance, you shouldn’t always believe what you hear.
Get the facts about common car insurance myths, and reach out to make sure you have the coverage you need.
Myth #1: A ticket automatically increases your rate.
A moving violation doesn't have to increase your insurance rate unless it's a frequent occurrence. You may be able to take a driving course to maintain your rate and even pay less for your ticket.
Myth #2: Car color affects your insurance rate.
The truth is that the color of your vehicle most likely doesn’t affect your premiums. However, there are special cases where color can raise the value of your car — like a custom paint job — which could potentially increase your rates.
Myth #3: Older cars need less coverage.
If you don't have a loan on your car, you may not have to carry comprehensive and collision coverage, only the liability coverage required by the state. But you may not want to drop or lower your optional coverage if your car still has significant value, as it would be pricey to repair or replace.
Myth #4: Someone borrowing your vehicle is covered by their own insurance.
Laws vary by state, but usually the insurance covers the vehicle. Before you drive someone else's car, verify that it's insured. Don't assume that your own policy will cover an accident.
Myth #5: You only need the auto liability insurance that's required by law.
It's smart to buy more than the minimum, because personal liability for an at-fault auto accident can be expensive. Adding a personal umbrella policy for additional coverage can be a wise decision, especially when you have assets to protect.
Get in touch today with any questions you have about your policy.
Even a perfectly planned budget can be thrown off track by a surprise expense. That's why you've carefully set aside savings in your emergency fund.
But what kind of situation can warrant dipping into that fund? Since you've dedicated that money to emergencies, you owe it to yourself to make sure you spend it wisely.
From unexpected car repairs to home maintenance, here's when you should use your savings.
If you unexpectedly lose your job, you still need to pay the bills. Your emergency fund provides you a cushion to keep up with your expenses as you decide what's next for your career.
What happens if your car breaks down? First, you'll need to pay your car insurance deductible and figure out any additional expenses related to repairs and a rental. Then, your savings can keep you on the road while your vehicle is in the shop.
Storm or flooding destruction to your home may require repairs as soon as possible. Your emergency fund is there to cover your home insurance deductible and any additional expenses related to the damage.
Where Not to Spend Your Emergency Fund
Remember: Not every unexpected expense counts as an emergency. For example, if you have the opportunity to go on an exciting trip or decide you want to upgrade your phone to a new model, it probably doesn't make sense to pay for those purchases from your emergency fund.
In addition to your savings, you have insurance to help protect your belongings and your financial security.
Get in touch to talk about your car and home coverage. Together, we can discuss your benefits and any potential updates.
How clean is your car? If you don’t wash it regularly, you could end up with costly maintenance and safety issues.
You might occasionally run your vehicle through a car wash. But there are benefits to doing the job yourself — including preserving the paint and being able to get into every nook and cranny.
Ready to get started? Follow these five tips to wash your car thoroughly and correctly.
What is the deductible for flood insurance?
A flood policy comes with separate deductibles for the building and its contents. You typically get to choose the deductible amount. Common flood deductibles range from $1,000 to $5,000.
As with other types of insurance, a higher deductible on your flood policy will result in a lower premium; however, if you have a mortgage, your lender may not allow you to increase your deductible beyond specified limits.
What does flood insurance cover?
Flood insurance covers losses directly resulting from flooding or flood-related erosion caused by heavy or prolonged rain, snowmelt, coastal storm surges, blocked storm drainage systems, levee dam failure and similar events.
Flood insurers reimburse policyholders for structural damage, including:
The FEMA flood insurance guide is also a helpful resource that provides details on claims, coverage and costs.
Flood insurance coverage limits
The NFIP lets you insure your house for up to $250,000 and your personal property (contents) for up to $100,000. If you rent, you can buy up to $100,000 in coverage for your belongings. For non-residential property, you can buy up to $500,000 of coverage for the building and contents.
Tips for buying hurricane insurance
Follow these tips to be sure you have adequate hurricane protection for your home.
What does hurricane insurance cover?
There is not a type of insurance specifically called “hurricane insurance.”
So, does homeowners insurance cover hurricane damage?
Most standard homeowners policies will cover damage caused by hurricanes except for flood damage and, in some areas, wind damage.
Those who live along the East Coast or Gulf Coast, which is where hurricanes most often occur in the U.S., may need to buy an additional windstorm coverage policy.
You would also need to buy a separate flood insurance policy. A common misconception is that a homeowners policy covers flood damage. It doesn’t.
What hurricane damage doesn’t cover
Wind damage. Wait, what? Isn't wind practically the definition of a hurricane? And you're telling me that my insurance may not cover me if there's a hurricane?
Well, yes, you may not be covered if there's a ton of wind - and you live in an area that gets a lot of hurricanes.
Now, suppose you live off the beaten path of a hurricane, in, say, Ohio and Indiana, which, believe it or not, can occasionally get the remnants of a hurricane plowing through the neighborhood. In that case, you probably are covered for hurricane winds. But some insurance policies won't cover wind in a hurricane - again if you live in a hurricane zone. If you live in such a place, you may need to buy a separate windstorm insurance policy.
Talk to your insurance agent, though. It's never good to assume anything with insurance.
Flooding. Many insurance policies don't cover flooding unless you have purchased a separate flood insurance policy. If you live anywhere - hurricane zone or not - that sees a lot of flooding, you really should look into purchasing flood insurance.
Mudslides. So, a hurricane created a mudslide, and your house is under that, and your insurance won't cover that? Yeah, you almost certainly aren't covered. Sorry. Insurers have this weird thing about "earth movement." They won't cover you for earthquakes or any time the ground shifts under your house for some reason, and a mudslide is considered, well, the earth moving.
But you might be covered for a mudflow, where a flood brings mud into your home.
Sure, it seems crazy, and you're probably now thinking that this is why some people drink heavily. But insurance companies become very exact when it comes to how they define coverage and natural disasters.
Power failure. Insurers get very exact and weird here, too. Let's say that you have a freezer full of ribs and steak and seafood. You're about to throw a big party. Anyway, the power goes out, and you lose all of that food and are out a lot of money. If this is a one-off incident, where your house lost power, and nobody else did, your policy probably covers that.
Renovating your property has some serious perks, such as creating more space or updating your amenities.
Some upgrades, such as a new roof or security system, can even reduce home insurance costs. While others — like a pool — can have the opposite effect.
Before you take on your next home improvement project, here’s what you should know about how renovations might change your premiums.
Summer is the perfect time for a road trip. Whether you’re getting away to the nearest lake or crossing state lines to visit friends or family, you want to get there safely.
Here’s a quick refresher on how you can prevent common driving mistakes and make sure you have a smoother trip.
3 Mistakes to Avoid
1. Not inspecting your tires. If you drive a newer car, the instrument panel might notify you when your tires need air. If not, use a tire pressure gauge to check. Low pressure plus hot weather can cause a blowout, especially under the added weight of luggage and passengers.
Equally important, check your tires’ tread depth. Worn tires make it harder to brake, especially on wet roads. Better yet, ask your mechanic to make sure your car is in top shape before you leave.
2. Forgetting to pack a car emergency kit. Even with a recently tuned-up vehicle, things can happen that may leave you stuck on the road longer than you planned. A car emergency kit can help you handle these incidents with less stress. Include plenty of food and cold water for people and pets, plus items like jumper cables, a functional spare tire and a working flashlight.
3. Skipping a traffic check before you head out. An app like Google Maps can tell you if there’s a major traffic jam in your way. Be prepared to plan an alternate route or adjust your schedule if necessary. After all, no one likes getting stuck in bad road conditions
Another common driving mistake is not having enough insurance coverage. Before you hit the road, reach out to make sure you’re fully protected.
Homeowners insurance may provide limited coverage amounts for lost jewelry or valuable items based on the type of item and cause of loss. Valuable items coverage may provide the protection you need for your valuable possessions in the event of covered loss from, for example, theft or fire.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Engagement Rings and Wedding Rings?
Homeowners insurance alone may not sufficiently cover your engagement rings and wedding rings. People who own valuable possessions may need broader coverage than a basic homeowners policy provides. The good news is that there is additional protection available that may help cover the cost of a lost or stolen engagement ring or wedding ring.
How to Add Engagement Ring Insurance or Wedding Ring Insurance
You can add engagement ring insurance or wedding ring insurance through two options that Travelers offers: You can purchase a “Valuable Items Plus endorsement” or a “Personal Articles Floater (PAF).”
With a Valuable Items Plus endorsement, your homeowners insurance coverage is expanded to protect your valuables from loss caused by additional perils (subject to a few common exclusions). For jewelry, paintings and other fine art, you can purchase up to $50,000 of coverage; for silverware, you can purchase as much as $20,000 coverage. The maximum payment for any one item is either $10,000 or $20,000, depending on the state. You pay no deductible.
If you own valuable, rare or irreplaceable items, such as collectibles or antiques, you may want to consider the comprehensive protection offered by a PAF. In case of a covered loss, this coverage allows you to recover the value of an item (based on a recent bill of sale or appraisal). This policy provides coverage for fine art and jewelry at an amount you and your agent agree upon. For other items, the policy provides either actual cash value, cost to repair, cost to replace or up to the insured amount, depending on the cause of loss and its current value.
What Does Jewelry Insurance Cover?
Jewelry insurance covers valuable items from jewelry to collectibles, if they are stolen or damaged in a covered event. A typical homeowners insurance policy may not cover, or provide enough coverage for, those valuable items. Jewelry and valuable items coverage can help give you peace of mind.
How to Insure Jewelry and Other Valuable Items
Step 1. Tell us what jewelry or valuable item you need to insure.
Step 2. Fill out a brief form to tell us about yourself and your jewelry or valuable item and how much it is worth.
Step 3. Once you’ve obtained the coverage you need, enjoy your jewelry or valuable item, knowing that you’ve protected these items with insurance coverage.
1. Personal Articles Endorsement or Floater
This itemized coverage can give you some peace of mind knowing your belongings and jewelry may be covered at the time of a loss. Offered as protection for valuables, policies can be purchased separately. There is no deductible for most classes or types of property and the coverage insures against many risks.
Consider a Personal Articles Floater policy for:
2. Adding Jewelry to Homeowners Insurance
Available as an add-on coverage to homeowners insurance, a Valuable Items Plus endorsement can offer higher limits on certain types of valuables, and expanded protection. Unlike the PAF where items are individually listed, the Valuable Items Plus endorsement provides blanket coverage that affords protection for a class of property collectively, such as jewelry insurance coverage, up to a certain amount. This coverage insures against many risks, such as lost jewelry.
Protecting your valuables from loss may be an affordable option depending on your needs. Whether you just need coverage for your jewelry or want insurance for multiple valuables, Travelers offers multiple options. You can add on and choose the coverage that fits your needs. Find a Calfee Insurance agent near you to get an insurance quote for your diamond, wedding or engagement ring, or any other valuables you may want to protect.