Check Out Available Government Grants For Essential Home Repairs

Did you know homeowners with low incomes who need repairs to their homes might be eligible Rural Home Repair grants and/loans from USDA Rural Development? Any rural areas and communities that have a population of 20,000 or less are eligible. Types of repairs that can be done range from improving the safety or sanitary conditions of a home to correcting any safety or health hazards as well. However, grants are used for the removal and repair of safety or health hazards only.

The Purpose Of Loans And Grants

Grants are available only when the repairs or improvements will take away any safety or health hazards that have been previously identified. However, if the goal is modernizing or improving a home in addition to health/safety hazards being removed, then loan funds may be available. Also, the repairs made to a home with grant or loan funds do not have to meet the development standards of the agency, nor do all known hazards have to be removed as long there’s no further major safety/health concerns when the scheduled repairs have been done.

The work covered by authorized grants and loans includes, but isn’t totally comprised of, the following:

  • Sanitary Disposal Systems: repair or installation, including fixtures or plumbing, that are in line with the requirements of the area health department.
  • Needed Insulation

It is required, before filing the USDA Rural Development application, that the applicant is the owner and has been living in the home. A permanent foundation defined as either:

  1. A foundation that is a complete below grade, or
  2. The home sits on piers, blocks, or a similar foundation that has anchored tie-downs and skirting.

Maximum Amount of Grant or Loan

  • Rural Development rural home repair loans have a maximum limit of $20,000, either initial or subsequent, to any person.

Limitations On The Use Of Grant/Loan Funds

Grant funds or a home repair loan from Rural Development cannot be used for:

  • Help for the construction of a new home.

Limitations On How Grant Funds Are Used

Additionally, the grant funds from Rural Development rural home repair cannot be used for any changes made for convenience or cosmetic purposes unless those changes have a direct connection to the hazards that are being removed. The definition of convenience and cosmetic changes might include, but will not be limited to:

  • Any Painting

Requirements For Eligibility

Applicants for Rural Development rural home repair are expected to meet these requirements:

  • Must be a United States citizen.
  • Application is for only a Rural Development rural home repair grant.
  • Must be a minimum age of 62 years.

You can get additional information at any of the USDA Rural Development Offices, located in all the states, for Rural Home Repair Grant and Loan Programs.

Handyman and Home Repair Services

As a homeowner you are aware that something always needs fixing around the house. You may need a wall painted, a new appliance installed, or the roof fixed. If you don’t have the time or capability to do this on your own, you may need the home repair services of a handyman.

The home repair service business is now a major industry. That’s because many people prefer to call a handyman or skilled tradesman to do minor home repairs. Older or retired people living alone often require the services of a handyman. Of course, there are do-it-yourself who are perfectly capable of doing repair and maintenance work at home. However, even DIY enthusiasts may need the skills of a plumber or electrician for more complicated tasks.

Handyman vs. Home Improvement Specialists

A handyman and a home improvement specialist can both operate their own businesses but the home improvement specialist is required to have a contractor’s license. This is why hiring a contractor to do the same thing will cost more than if a handyman were to do the job. This is also why licensed professionals sometimes turn down smaller home repair jobs. If you need someone to paint a room, install new shelves or repair a dry wall, call a handyman. To build a new addition to your home or repair a staircase, you will need the home repair services of a licensed carpenter or contractor.

Home Repair Jobs for a Handyman

A handyman is a more affordable and convenient option for small household repairs. He is a jack-of-all-trades who can perform small maintenance and repair jobs that a carpenter, plumber or electrician would normally do, but at a lower cost. A handyman is good with his hands. He is usually self-taught, having gained his experience and know-how at his own home and by reading home improvement manuals.
Replacing your entire plumbing system or more complicated electrical wiring should be done by a licensed professional.

However, you can hire a handyman to perform simple tasks such as emptying storm drains, fixing a leaky faucet or putting up shelves. A handyman can also handle more complicated tasks such as installing a water heater or replacing roof shingles.

Where to Find a Handyman

Many handymen work on their own, setting up “office” in their own homes. People you know may be able to recommend a good handyman for home repair services. You can also search online for a handyman in your area. There are many businesses and franchises for handyman services. You can call on them if you need any repair or maintenance services at home.

Home Improvements on Your House

Home improvement projects are ways to make your home more beautiful, attractive, cleaner and more cozy and comfortable to stay and live in. They are not just ways to improve or beautify your home, they also assures security and protection. Improving your home offer many benefits, one thing is that it can also be a reasonable investment. Home improvements in addition, can make a house more livable and may even increase the value of your home.

Here are the top most important home improvement projects to help improve your homes:

Home repair involves the diagnosis and resolution of problems in a home. It also includes home maintenance to avoid problems. Most types of repairs are Do it-Yourself projects, where you can simply maintain and repair it by yourself in order to cut down your repair and maintenance costs. It is best that you handle your home repairs and maintenance because other types may be complicated and usually time consuming and risky because you need to hire professionals or handyman to the job. Home repair includes heating and cooling repair, plumbing repair, exterior home repair, electrical and plumbing repair.

Part of improving your home is energy saving. Normally, energy used in homes is responsible for over a quarter of all emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas causing climate change. That’s why making your home as energy efficient as possible will reduce carbon emissions and could also save you money on your fuel bills. Insulate your home to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels which add to the greenhouse effect. By doing so, you are actually helping the environment. Insulation is also an excellent sound absorbed and can assist in reducing noise transmission through walls, ceilings and floors making your home or your work environment quieter and peaceful.

The most important project in improving a home is security and safety. It’s undeniable that crime is increasing every year and is invading any home even those considered safe communities. Keeping your family safe is always the first priority. Install electronic devices such as home alarm systems for doors and windows. Attach motion detectors that sense movement or the heat given off by one’s body. The most common incident that could happen into your home is fire. That’s why it is necessary to be aware of fire safety measures. Be prepared by installing fire alarm systems, purchase fire extinguishers and smoke detectors.

Improving a home can make you spend hundreds of dollars, but the return on investment is all worth it. A beautiful, comfortable and safe home is what matters most. Anyway, it is a very rewarding feeling seeing the great results of your newly improved home.

How to Enhance Your Home Using Vinyl Shutters

You may have noticed that some people use vinyl shutters on their houses. Generally they are an excellent way of enhancing the look of the home and they really can help you to add a touch of elegance and warmth to the home without needing to spend a fortune.

How Vinyl Shutters Can Enhance the Home

The idea behind the vinyl shutters has been around for years and the ancient Greeks used to use them in their homes. Today the reasons for using them are generally the same, for privacy and security, though less focus is placed on the security as we now have alarms for that purpose.

Some vinyl shutters can be used to protect the home in case of a hurricane. These types are generally built a little study than the ordinary ones as obviously they will need to be able to stay put in all kinds of extreme weather. With indoor vinyl shutters they are a lot less sturdy, though they will still last for years. Hurricane shutters are excellent if you live in any of the various countries which suffer badly from them every now and again. It gives you that little added extra piece of mind as you will know that the house is a little more protected with the shutters than it was before.

One of the main advantages of using vinyl shutters over wooden ones is the fact that they are easier to maintain. They are extremely easy to clean and they generally just need a wipe down every couple of days. You can either just dust them or give them proper clean using soapy water. They last longer than wooden shutters too which means that they are not only less expensive to purchase but they are also more cost efficient too.

Finally one option you also have with vinyl shutters is whether to have them moveable or completely fixed to the wall. Most people prefer to have shutters which they can open and shut on their own accord but other like to have the shutters tightly put on and left there for as long as possible. It is entirely up to you and both will enhance the look of your home so it is all down to personal taste.

Overall vinyl shutters definitely make a big difference within the home. They can protect the house, they keep the sunlight out and they also give you more privacy when needed. They are inexpensive and cost effective and they come in a large variety of types and colors too.

Gutter And Downspout Cleaning – Helpful Tips On Cleaning Rain Gutters

Have you been dreading the job of gutter and downspout cleaning? It’s not hard to understand why. Going up on the roof and trying to get all the junk out of your rain gutters isn’t something that anyone looks forward to, but it is definitely something that is necessary for any homeowner to do at least once a year. Here are some tips to help make this job a little easier.

Obviously, keeping your rain gutters and eaves free from leaves, sticks and other debris will help prevent clogging and keep them from sagging or coming apart from the roof and creating a more serious water problem in the future.

We don’t often consider the fact that our rain gutters and downspouts really do protect our home from damage. They aid in preventing water from pouring off of your roof and getting into your foundation and eventually into your home, as well as preventing rotting of your roof.

When it comes to cleaning gutters and downspouts you have a couple of choices; having a gutter contractor come out and do it for you, or climbing up the ladder and doing it yourself.

Before you go to climbing that ladder be sure you are physically able and comfortable in doing it. My father fell from a ladder a couple of years ago doing this and broke his leg in the process. He could have easily had the work done for him, but chose to do it himself even though he knew he shouldn’t have. I urge you to give this some careful thought. Using the services of a guttering company is not out of the reach of most budgets and it will prevent any possible accidents.

For those who are going to do it themselves you will need a good ladder, a garden hose, safety glasses, gloves and pole or something similar to help get some of the leaves and sticks out with. It may be possible to go on the roof and use a leave blowing machine if your gutter is dry and doesn’t have that much in it. It’s another option.

Once you are on the roof, pick out the large areas of debris in the gutter before hosing them out. You want to avoid washing the leaves and everything else down into your downspout or you run the risk of getting it clogged up. Then, once you have the major junk out of the gutter you spray the channel with water and get them cleaned out.

Although this is not a tough task to accomplish it is vital to the upkeep of your home. Depending on how many trees you have around your home you may need to do this once in the spring and once again in the late fall in order to keep things flowing freely.

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7 Low-Cost, High-Impact Home Improvements You Can Do This Weekend

Whether you’re putting your pad on the market or just want to impress dinner guests, here are seven cheap, fast, and easy home improvements you can do on your next day off.

  1. Add shoe molding. You know that little rounded border that goes around the base of the trim? It costs about $3 for eight feet, and installation is idiot-proof. Head over to your local home-improvement store and pick some up.
  2. Paint your trim. It’s amazing how much a quart of paint and a little patience can brighten up a room. Grab a 1-inch angled brush and a quart of glossy paint, and touch up your baseboards, windowsills, and door trim to make the whole room look brand new.
  3. Shampoo the carpets. For about $30 and four hours, you can rent a rug shampooer from most local grocery stores and clean all of your wall-to-wall carpeting and large area rugs. Don’t forget to vacuum first!
  4. Remove overgrown bushes outside. If you don’t feel like digging (and, later, filling) an enormous hole to yank out your slowly browning shrubs, just grab a Sawzall and cut them off at ground level. Once you get the leftover branches out of the way, a bag of mulch is all you need to cover the evidence.
  5. Wash the windows. Clean windows make your home look newer while letting in more light. Don’t really do windows? Suck it up on the inside, but grab one of those hose attachments with window cleaner included for the outside.
  6. Cut the clutter. Want to make your house look twice as big? Get rid of half your stuff. No, seriously. Go through your closets, cabinets, and bookcases and gather up the things you never use and/or don’t particularly like. Donate or Free-cycle what you can, and throw out the rest. Found some things you don’t use often but can’t bear to part with? Pack them up neatly and stash the boxes in your attic, basement, or closet.
  7. Clean, clean, clean. Don’t just stop with the windows and the carpets. Break out the Soft Scrub and make your kitchen sparkle. Call on Mr. Clean to make your floors shine. Bust the dust on all your surfaces to make everything look new. It makes a huge difference.

All it takes is a few dollars and a couple of hours, and your house will be looking like a million bucks in no time.

Choosing The Right Fence For You

When it is time for a new fence you have many choices to choose from. Choosing the right fence is very important if you want one that will last for years to come. Read this article and learn about the different types of fences that are available.

The first type of fence and perhaps the most common is the common plank style privacy fence. You can find these fences in heights up to 8 feet and they have many advantages. For example they are affordable and they offer a great deal of privacy compared to other fences. The downside to these fences is that they are vulnerable to wind, insects and rot. To extend the life you can get them made with cedar or even vinyl and with posts made from metal.

Another type of fence is the chain link fence. This has the advantage of also being quite affordable and being very durable. The downside to chain link fences is that they offer no privacy whatsoever and that they may not quite fit in with your neighborhoods style.

Wrought Iron is another type of fence that you might be interested in. It has benefits and drawbacks similar to those of chain link fences. It is very durable and offers little in the way of privacy. They are however expensive compared to other fences but they are more likely to make your neighbors happy as they are quite attractive.

The last fence style I will talk about is the picket fence. They are available in wood or vinyl and are an attractive alternative. If made from wood, they are vulnerable to insects and rot but the gap between the planks makes them less vulnerable to wind damage. They also offer little in the way of privacy and are reasonably priced.

Hopefully this has given you something to think about. If you are having a hard time deciding you should consult a local fence builder. They will be able to suggest something that will fill your needs.

Water Damage Mold

The first thing created after water damage in a house is the mold. Mold creates a number of problems for the home owner. Fungi are common in nature and serve a central role as breakdown agents for organic matter. They contain fragments, or spores, which are found in virtually every home and building. Major mold that is found in water damaged homes is called Stachybotrys chartarum (atra), more commonly known as SC. It is a greenish black fungus that grows on materials like fiberboard, gypsum board, paper, dust, and lint. They become chronically moist or water damaged due to excessive humidity, condensation, and flooding.

SC was first noted as a disease when it contaminated cereal grains. When people ate that grain, they started feeling burning sensations in their mouth, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and pain in their abdomen. Then it was found that if its pores are released into air, then there was more probability of developing these symptoms. Few reports of scientific literature stated that there were places where people had to leave the place due to spreading of molds like SC and other molds too. When the spores are released into air, they may be inhaled and can get into lungs causing severe airborne diseases.

To save houses and buildings from mold, some precautions need to be taken. Buildings should be inspected routinely for evidence of water damage and visible mold. Conditions causing mold such as water leaks, condensation, or flooding should be corrected. After water damage, books and papers should be immediately discarded. Water from the carpets and rugs should be immediately removed. Ceiling tiles, if damaged, should be removed and replaced. Remove the water from upholstered furniture with the help of water extraction vacuum. Remove moisture immediately and use dehumidifiers and fans for drying.

For the removal of mold, the simplest and most expedient remediation should be used. After cleaning, try to ensure that there are no such conditions again for these hazardous materials to grow. A professional restoration company should be called to fix or repair any problems.

Common Sense Home Improvements

In more prosperous markets, the mention of home improvement ideas meant double-sink vanities, stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops and spa baths. Today, upgrades have come down to earth with the focus on money saving, practical improvements meant to not only appeal to a prospective buyer’s sense of style, but their wallet. Here is a top 10 list inspired from Forbes.com and their “10 Recession-Proof Improvements”.

1. Cork Floors – This Eco-flooring is not only economical, but practical as well. It provides good sound insulation, is much more comfortable for standing on than ceramic or slate, and has allergy resistant properties.

2. Bamboo Counter-tops – Also an Eco-friendly alternative to standard counter-tops, bamboo can be harder and denser than maple. It comes in various vertical or parquet grain designs, and in a selection of colors.

3. LED Lighting – LED lighting systems use far less energy than standard bulbs. Although initially more expensive, they pay for themselves over time. Lower electric bills can be a great selling feature in any market.

4. Garage Doors – Gone are the stark white, plain, windowless doors we were so accustomed to. One of the most popular exterior features of an up-to-date home is a new garage door in one of the current designs such as a carriage style with a row of small windows.

5.Energy Star Windows – If your home needs new windows, then ensure that you choose energy star rated models. Not only will you save on heating costs, but you’ll provide an extra incentive for a prospective buyer.

6. Tank less Hot Water Heater – Tank less hot water systems have become a popular, energy saving alternative to conventional hot water heaters. Their initial cost is a little higher, but they save 30-40% more in energy, are made to last 20 years or longer, and are designed to allow multiple water flows at once. This means two of the kids can be having showers at the same time the dishwasher is running.

7. Water-Saving Toilets – The demand for water-saving toilets has grown over the last couple of years and technology has improved to the point where these units use less than half the water of their older counterparts.

8. Nicely Landscaped Gardens – You can’t beat good old curb appeal when selling a home. Your yard is often the first thing a buyer sees when house shopping, and the opinion they form can make or break a sale before they even set foot in your home.

9. Door-less Showers – Door-less or walk-in showers with sleek chrome trims are replacing large spa tubs by leaps and bounds. It’s become a popular feature in most high-end condos and apartments.

10. Painting – A fresh coat of neutral paint on your interior walls can make a home feel like new. Paint or stain touch-ups can brighten up an otherwise worn home exterior, making it appear updated and well cared for.

Home Improvement Tips to Help You Get Started in the Right Place

You know you need some home improvement, but you don’t know where to start. This is a common problem that most homeowners go through at least once in their lives. Don’t let a little indecision stand in your way of improving your home.

The first place to start is creating a budget it will help you to choose what you can or can’t do. You should also check your local building codes to see what type of permits you’re going to need before you begin any big renovations.

Once you know where you’re at you can start to figure out what needs to be done.

I find watching home improvement shows can give you a lot of ideas on what you can do and how to do it. The one place most people look at improving is the kitchen because it is the one place that is easy to improve.

By simply changing your hardware or painting or refinishing your cupboards you can make a big difference in your home. One thing that I don’t see too often that works well is painting your appliances. I suggest finding a good heat resistant paint for the stove and going with a silver to make it look like you got yourself a new set of stainless steel appliances.

You’d be surprised at how big a difference it can make without spending a fortune. If you have money to spare replacing old appliances with new ones is going to go along way at improving the look of your kitchen. Counter tops are an item that makes a big difference. With so many types and styles to choose from I suggest going over your options with a professional and then looking into what options you have with the amount of money you have to spare.

Lights are a big thing adding the right type of light to your kitchen will finish it up perfectly.