5 Tips to Save Money on Your Home and Garden Purchases

Everyone likes to have a beautiful home and garden; however, paying for all the best decorations and extras is not always easy. There are many things you can do to save money on home and garden items; you just have to know where to look and what strategies to use. Consider the following five tips when you are planning your next purchase.

  1. Mix It Up – When you are designing your home and garden area, use a variety of colors and patterns. Consider using a theme for the room or garden area and then all you have to do is shop for items along that theme. This is a great way to save money on clearance racks and closeout sales. While you may not find six matching linen napkins, you can probably find six green linen napkins. You can also mix up your plates. Instead of a matching set that costs hundreds, buy individual plates along the same theme.
  2. Shop Exclusively – Forgo the department stores and shop at stores that exclusively have what you are looking for. While everyone knows large retail stores are known for cheaper prices, it is often easy to find even better deals at a specialty store. Consider the bedding you need for your home. When you shop at a bedding store, you will have a larger selection and there will be more markdowns and clearance items as well.
  3. Compare Prices Online – Use comparison tools online to find the best prices on your must- have items. These sites will crawl through the web and find every site that is offering the item you are looking for. This can save you a lot of time and money in your search. You might even check out online auction sites to look for a specific item; many businesses list their inventory online.
  4. Shop Out Of Season – For garden items, you can find great deals if you shop during the winter months. Garden furniture and decorations are often marked down up to 50% off. Buy items that need to be put together and save them for great spring projects. Many plants can be bought in the off season as well. Since these items are less popular in the off season months, you can find great deals.
  5. Coupons Are Worth Their Weight in Gold – While it can be a pain to use coupons, you can save hundreds on a project if you will take the time to use them. Look for coupons that are a set amount off of purchases or coupons for free shipping if you are ordering online. There are many great sites online that offer coupons for many different stores. You can download or print coupons for many different stores all in one place.

Take Your Time – Impulse buying can cost you a lot more than you will pay if you take your time. If you take the time to shop around, you can often find items at much better prices. You might even be able to find a similar item to the one you saw in the store for a much better price online.

How to Find a Good Home Inspector

Buying a home, to most of us, is often an expensive, scary endeavor. Even for seasoned, experienced home-buyers, the process is typically not without some degree of trepidation and apprehension. Much of that apprehension has to do with the physical condition of the property…whether or not the house is in reasonably good condition…whether the house is really as good as it looks or is a money-pit just waiting to steal your money away in the form of unanticipated repairs and expenses.

Enter the Inspector…the guy, or gal, that will give the home a thorough assessment and report to you on its physical condition so that you can make an informed purchase decision. How are you going to effectively track down and choose a good, professional Inspector? Well, there are a few time-proven strategies:

  • You might ask your family, friends, and neighbors if they’ve had any really positive experience with any particular Home Inspector. If they have, they’ll likely share that with you…and if they’ve had a bad experience, well, you’ll probably learn about that. too.
  • You could ask your real estate agent for some referrals…but don’t rely on a single recommendation. I suggest asking the agent who they might hire to insect a home if they were the buyer. Or who they think is the most picky inspector; that’s the one you want to hire.
  • Do some on-line research…ask questions in local forums. Check out on-line reviews; if a company has a large number of legitimate and positive reviews, they might be a good potential candidate. But beware, as in other fields, some inspectors write their own reviews; you can usually tell which one those are and they should be avoided.

Some other general tips are:

  • Don’t rely on the fact that an individual possesses a state license or local business permit as any proof whatsoever that they are either overly professional or at all competent…often, that means almost nothing.
  • Look for an individual that’s affiliated with a prominent and leading national Home Inspector organization…one that maintains high entry and membership standards such as the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI); active membership in such an organization is, often, a good indication of a Home Inspectors commitment to professionalism.
  • Search for complaints against the Inspector and their company…Consult the Better Business Bureau to determine if the potential Home Inspector is an accredited member company and whether or not they have any unresolved complaints against them

Once you’ve narrowed your selection down to 3 -5 potential candidates, you need to contact each of those and ask them some direct, and pointed, questions. And here is where you don’t want to shy or timid in your approach.

  • Please, will you talk to me? If a Home Inspector doesn’t answer their phone or return your initial phone call in a timely manner, then move on. If an inspector can’t, or won’t, make and take time to answer you questions now, then there is good likelihood they can’t, or won’t, answer them later.
  • How good are you and how long have you been doing this? If an inspector doesn’t exude confidence, move on. Likewise, if an inspector doesn’t have a significant amount of experience under their belt, you might better keep searching. Everyone has to learn sometime…but maybe you don’t want them gaining their basic experience on your home.
  • What kind of report will I receive?…Look for an answer that suggests a narrative style report…or at least a combination narrative/checklist type of report. What you need is a good Home Inspection report that clearly identifies any issues in readily understood language presented in complete and grammatically correct language.
  • How soon will I receive your report? Most professional Home Inspectors will provide their report to you, electronically, within 24 hours of the completion of the Home Inspection and this is what you should expect.Can I be there…with you? It’s important that you be able to attend every moment of your Home Inspection should you desire to do so; the inspection should be a time during which you are able to learn about the house and to get your questions answered. An Inspector who discourages your presence should be avoided at all cost.

Following some basic guidelines, doing specific research, and asking some pointed question of potential Home Inspectors will go far in helping you find a good Home Inspector and, hopefully, a good experience with that Inspector.

Happy Hunting!

Home Inspection Tip – Move Your Clutter!

When any self respecting housewife invites company for dinner, she cleans the house to impress her guests. If you’re selling your home and are having it inspected, as you should, you’ll need to do some house cleaning, too. That’s not so you can impress your home inspector, but so he can do his job.

Many times home inspectors can’t fully do what they’re supposed to do because certain areas of the home are inaccessible, due to clutter. When it’s time for your home inspection, you want to get your money’s worth. You don’t want the report to say, “Inspection limited due to the excess possessions blocking access and view.”

This isn’t about being a neat freak. The American Society of Home Inspectors ASHI┬«, Standards of Professional Practice, says inspectors are not to report on components or systems which are not observed. Your inspector isn’t required to disturb insulation or move personal items out of the way. If you’ve got furniture or plants in places your inspector needs to see, like the doorway to a utility closet, you’ll have to move that stuff. Clear off any snow and ice if necessary as well.

What if the water heater, electrical panels, or attic are places your home inspector can’t get to? Those are areas he must check if your home is to be inspected properly, and if you’re going to get the report you need. The bottom line: Don’t let junk ruin your home inspection.

In some homes water heaters are found in utility closets or garages. If the water heater is surrounded by clutter, your inspector can’t tell if there are possible problems, such as a fire hazard. If an electrical panel has been improperly installed, but is hidden from view, your inspector won’t know that, and neither will you. What if that panel causes a fire for the next home owner?

Walk through your home before your home inspection is to take place and make sure all doors and passageways are accessible. Move stored items out of the way or elsewhere altogether. If the home being sold is vacant make sure that the power, water and gas remain on so that all systems are operable and can be inspected. If items on the report can’t be inspected, you as the seller may be asked to have the home inspected again after areas in question have been cleared out. Similarly, if you’re the buyer, you can ask for another inspection. Another option is to request that the seller pay for a warranty if a certain component is not inspected.

Granted, if a home to be inspected is being lived in, there will be personal possessions throughout the house. Some areas will be less accessible as a result. If you’re the seller, make sure things can be moved out of your inspector’s way.

Show some common courtesy and make sure key areas around your property can be seen by your home inspector. You may not be trying to impress him at a dinner party, but you’ll make his job easier, and you’ll get a more complete report. That, after all, is what you’re paying for.