5 Ways To Afford The Home Improvement You Need

Your home never stays still. Whether it’s time start heavy maintenance works, such as changing the roof, or whether you need to babyproof your property, every home needs home improvement. The problem with home improvement is that while it’s a great way to increase the value of your property, it can be quite tricky to find the necessary funding. In fact, unless you’re an avid DIY-er with a keen eye for home projects, it’s best to always pay for professional work. There are 5 easy ways to pay for home improvement.

Home Improvement
Image credit: Jamie – https://flic.kr/p/9PHzgt

1. Use your savings

If you have the cash to hand, the best thing you could do is to invest it in your home. With the right improvements, you can increase the value of your property exponentially. According to momentum.co.za, investing regularly means that you can afford the lifestyle you want, from home extension to care-free retirement. Using a tailored saving portfolio also means that you can plan your budget, increase your interest return and have access to cash when and where you need it. So if the improvement you’re planning is not urgent, why not save for it first?

2. Use your home

If you’re planning on heavy home improvements, it might be worth checking with homeequitylineof.credit if you can borrow against the owned value of your property. However, there is no guarantee that the funds will come at the same rate than your mortgage, so you need to check the conditions and the time period too carefully.

 home improvement

3. Get a personal loan

If you’re planning major improvements – we’re talking a loft conversion or home extension –, then it’s likely that you will be spending at least 1/10th of your home value. Consequently, a personal loan might just be the way to do it. However, you need to research the different loan options carefully, and especially to calculate your repayment period if you’ve got other loans to repay too. For instance, some low APR loans need to be repaid quickly, which can be difficult for some families.

4. Put it on a 0% purchase credit card

Some credit cards, such as the American Express Platinum card, offer a 0% interest period for up to 18 months before introducing a representative APR. For small to medium improvement works, you can use the credit card and gradually clear the cost during the 0% period. Besides, paying with a credit card means that you can claim the money back from your card provider in case of problems, such as faulty work for instance.  

5. Pick interest-free purchases with cashback value

If you’re keen to clear your credit card debt as soon as possible, you might want to be looking for a card that offers an introductory 0% interest period and an advantageous cashback on all purchases. In other words, you can spread the cost of your home improvement, and you can also get money back on it. It’s a win-win for small projects!

From using your savings to borrowing, via letting the house raise money for its own improvements, there are many ways to make your home a better place. But all home improvements start in the same way: Planning and budgeting first, only then can you decide on how to raise funds.

 

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Essential Travel Tips for St Martin

St Martin is split between St Martin (French) and St Maarten (Dutch) offering an eclectic combination of European and Caribbean cultures. Dream vacations don’t always go to plan so follow these tips to make sure your vacation to the Friendly Island is perfect.

St Martin

Get an Awesome Place to Stay:

What could be better than waking up and seeing the ocean from your bedroom window? Tourists have the choice between luxury St Martin vacation home rentals and resorts. Do your homework and choose a nice place to stay with an even better view. If this is a dream vacation, make sure you stay somewhere perfect.

Rent a Car:

When arriving at the airport, get yourself a car. Driving is the fastest and most convenient way of seeing the island on your own terms. Several companies will try to give you extra things, but you don’t need anything apart from the vehicle itself. The roads are relatively clear and driving is a pleasure on both parts of St Martin. Clear road signs and efficient maps help tourists get around without any problems.

Avoiding Theft:

Compared to other destinations in the Caribbean, St Martins is a safe island. But this doesn’t stop opportunistic thieves from operating on unsuspecting tourists. Car theft isn’t unheard of along the beach, which can lead to a miserable experience. And then there are the extra fees you may need to pay at the rental company to repair the damage. The solution is easy. Don’t leave anything inside the car and keep the windows down on a clear day. Potential thieves won’t even look twice at the car as you’re showing that nothing valuable is inside.

Avoid the Tourists:

St Martin has always been a typical stop on cruise ships around the Caribbean. Vast numbers of liners and ships pull up in Philipsburg, the capital of Dutch St Maarten, and hordes of passengers disembark. Front Street and the Boardwalk are their first calling point, which makes it very crowded during the daytime. This area is worth visiting to enjoy the sites and duty-free shopping. But, don’t spend too much time here as there are other much better places. And it’s advisable to avoid the area after nightfall when a few dodgy characters come out.

Explore Both Sides of the Island:

The Dutch Side attracts visitors looking for a touristy experience. St Martin on the French Side has a more natural, laid-back atmosphere. Visitors can freely pass between the two administrative regions without needing to show their passport or face other bureaucratic complications. And both have something different and unique to offer tourists. The island itself is small (87km2) making it easy to get around. Take advantage and explore the island. However, the signs are in different languages and calling someone from one side to the other is actually an international call!

Spending Money:

Tourists tend to rely on their credit cards more often when they take a vacation. St Martin is no different. However, it’s not uncommon to encounter problems with the card machine in shops and restaurants for one reason or another. If you’re carrying a limited amount of cash, it’s advisable to check with the restaurant before you order to make sure your credit card will work. Another point worth mentioning is that some of the receipts may have the entire card’s number rather than blanking sections out. Make sure you check before throwing it away.

Tipping Etiquette:

Check your receipts carefully after ordering a meal as some will include an additional 15% tax or service charge. Some places add this whereas others don’t. Unsuspecting tourists who don’t check their bills end up paying the service fee and an additional tip. St Martin is an expensive island to visit and leaving an extra can equal 30% of the total cost of the bill. It’s entirely up to you and more research is needed on your behalf. But, wouldn’t you rather spend the extra money taking a day trip to Prickly Peak or renting snorkelling equipment?

Drinking Water:

The tap water is safe to drink in St Martin. Locals drink from the tap and many tourists do too. Bottled water is expensive on the island, especially when you’re eating at a restaurant. If you ask for water, specify that you want tap water (free of charge) rather than a small bottle that costs several dollars. The feeling of paying for something, albeit at a low cost, when you can get it for free isn’t ideal for a perfect vacation.

Take a Day Trip to One of the Islands:

St Martin is surrounded by a number of smaller islands, which make for a good day trip. Some have an active infrastructure for tourists whereas others are completely unpopulated and have quiet, secluded beaches. Popular trips are to Saba, St Barths, and Prickly Pear. The first two have a number of restaurants, bars, and lodging whereas Prickly Pear is completely uninhabited. Activities on the islands include snorkelling in the reefs, sunbathing, and water sports.

If you want to travel a little further afield, take the ferry and visit Anguilla. This British Overseas Territory offers a different vibe and experience to St Martin. Regular ferries depart every day between Marigot and Anguilla every 20 minutes or so from 7.30 am until 7 pm. Remember to bring your passport.

Trip of a Lifetime:

St Martin makes for a great and diverse travel destination, but unsuspecting tourists can get caught out. Follow our tips and avoid the mishaps to make sure your perfect vacation stays perfect.

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Taming Textures: Creativity Through Composition

Home decor and interior design are very complex subjects. People spend many years studying in this area, and will often go to school to learn everything they need to. This makes it very hard for people to start doing this work for themselves. The little tips, tricks, and methods which a normal designer knows won’t be available to you. One of these tricks is texture, and the power it has to change the look and feel of a room. To help you with this, this post will be going through some of the most popular materials found in modern homes, and how their qualities can impact the rooms you put them in.

textures

  • The Soft

Over the last few years, memory foam products have become a lot more popular than they were in the past. As time moves on, this sort of material is getting a lot cheaper, making it easier for everyday people to have it in their home. The beauty of foam isn’t necessarily it’s texture, though, and people often choose this material for its versatility. Foam can be cut into blocks, have curved edges, and will always go back to its original form. Tempur memory foam mattresses are getting more and more affordable. But, of course, this isn’t the only software stuff you have at home.

Feathers and animal fur have had a lot of bad press in the past, as it usually takes extreme cruelty to get the materials from the creatures which grow them. Nowadays, though, new methods have been devised which make the process much kinder. This means that you can enjoy feathers and fur, without the guilt of their origins. This sort of material will make your home feel alive while adding natural colors which most homes lack.

Of course, there are loads of natural materials out there which cause absolutely no harm to those which make them, like wool and cotton, which can be used to add some softness to your home. These sorts of options will make a room feel homely and comfortable, adding warmth and coziness. Along with this, these sorts of materials tend to be very light and breathable, along with being nice and cheap.

  • The Hard

A lot of the materials you’ll want to have around your home won’t be soft, as most people will want to have solid seating and other furniture to use. The most common material for this is wood and has been for a very long time. Wood is an incredibly versatile material, offering loads of different color options and chances to make little changes. Along with this, wood is cheap and easy to change and mold. A lot of people like wood for its charming character and natural feel.

Metal is less popular than wood but offers a range of benefits which aren’t found in other options. For example, metal is extremely easy to clean, and will usually look good for many years if it’s kept correctly. Along with this, metal can provide a variety of textures to your home, from smooth and slick to diffuse and discrete. The varying options which come from metal make it very attractive to those looking for a modern feel to their home.

Stone is the last hard material to think about, and is one of the oldest construction materials around. Different types of stone and rock offer different textures, and most can be worked on to achieve something entirely new. For example, polished granite looks very clean, but you could also have some unpolished edges to add another texture to the mix. This gives you a huge range of options when you’re working with this sort of material.

There are a lot of different materials and textures which can be used to enhance to look of a home. In most cases, these sorts of options are so appealing because they are nothing like the things people are used to. So, achieving this goal in full will require some creativity, and you might have to do some hunting for inspiration. Websites like Instagram and Pinterest are perfect for this, and will make it nice and easy for you to find new ideas. Of course, though, it could also be very helpful to visit somewhere with different styles on display.

Hopefully, this post will inspire you to start working harder on the textures you use in your home, not just the colours. This sort of effort can have a huge impact on your interior design, giving you new elements to work with and styles to explore. But, of course, most of the real work will come from you.

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Essential Home Improvements When A Baby Is On The Way

There are times during pregnancy when you can feel quite overwhelmed by the ‘nesting’ instinct. This might happen quite early on in your pregnancy, or you might end up in a panic in the last few weeks. Either way, your home might indeed need a few minor changes to ensure everything is ready for your new arrival.

The first change might be to the layout of your bedroom. Many parents prefer their newborns to sleep in their room with them overnight. This makes sense, as it is unusual for tiny babies to make it through the night without at least one feed! Once your baby is weaned, you will probably be more happy for him to sleep in his own room. This is usually several months to a year away. Make space for the cot next to your bed.

Within just a few weeks, your little one will be enjoying tummy time and those first efforts at crawling. Once they get going, be ready! Babies can be quite speedy, and they might be up on their legs cruising around the furniture after just seven months.

Home Improvements When A Baby Is On The Way

Because bumps and falls are quite common, it’s worth investing in a carpet for the living room and playroom. Stores like Carpet One have a selector tool to help you find the right quality of flooring that you need for the home. It can also be a good idea to take out coffee tables while your little one is finding her feet.

The nursery is one of the first rooms you want to work on when you find out you’re pregnant. Of course, your baby won’t be using it much at first. Still, it’s worth taking the time early in your pregnancy to get everything ready, because as you grow, it becomes physically more challenging. Painting the ceiling and skirting boards are certainly trickier in your last few weeks of pregnancy! Some of the furniture you might need to buy will likely need two people to lift and assemble it. You might also want to invest in soundproof windows in baby’s room and your bedroom. You will both be quite sleep deprived in the first couple of months.

The last room you need to focus on is the kitchen. Make sure all the countertop items are pushed to the back or put away. When your baby is ready for a high chair, they can reach further than you might think. Put childproof closers on all the cupboards well ahead of crawling. Babies are usually ready to try small amounts of mushy foods after six months. You might want to invest in a hand-held blender. That way, you can all enjoy the same foods.

If you live in a two-storey house without a downstairs toilet, you are about to wish you had one. Taking baby through stair gates, up the stairs and settling them for just a moment of convenience is hard work! This is a big home improvement to take on, so consider starting sooner rather than later. It is also very handy when you’re toilet training in a couple of years! Sometimes things happen in a hurry and climbing stairs at the age of two is never easy. Is your home ready for a newborn?

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What Every Car Owner Needs in their Garage

If you own a car, you are bound to own some tools. If you own a garage, you need to own extra ones. Here’s a list of useful items that you’re going to need if you want to be able to perform at least some sort of work on your car.

garage tools

1.      Car buffer

If your car is more to you than just a method for getting from point A to point B, you probably want to make sure it looks amazing at all times. A car buffer can be of huge help here, as it is used for giving the perfect finish to your vehicle, bringing it back to its original shine. A quality buffer is even capable of removing scratches and minor scrapes from the outside layer of your four-wheeled friend, giving it that polished look.
The pneumatic buffer relies on air as its main power source, while the electrical one uses electricity as its power source.

2.      Garage vacuum

Every owner who takes care of its car’s outside look will also want the interior experience to be as impeccable as possible. The garage vacuum is the most efficient way to clean both your car and your garage properly, which is hugely important, seeing as how a motor vehicle is capable of creating quite a mess. There are two types of garage vacuums out there:

Wall-mounted vacuum is installed on the wall (doesn’t take up too much space) and comes with a long hose that can reachdifficult-to-access places.

Handheld garage vacuum, on the other hand, is a budget-friendlier option and it does the job quite quickly. The downside here is that it has a small capacity.

3.      Jack + jack stands

Your garage might not have a hole in the floor for the purpose of doing check-ups on your car’s bottom side, but there are other ways of doing this. Use a good jack and a quality set of jack stands to lift your car and you’ll be able to do anything your local mechanic can, but without spending a ton of money (depending on how serious the potential issue is, of course). Most importantly, though, make sure to learn how to safely jack up your car!

4.      Magnet

This might sound weird, but you’d be amazed at how useful a tool this can be. If you’ve ever done engine maintenance, you’ve definitely had a screw fall deep into the engine bay. Now, while the fact that some car manufacturers charge a hell of a lot for ridiculous items such as screws is irritating, forking out the unnecessarily high amount of money for a borderline trivial item may not be the worst part of losing a screw in the engine – you’ll be thinking about it constantly, wondering when your car might break down on you, as a result of the screw ending up god knows where. This is exactly why a magnet is an excellent tool to have in your garage. In fact, even if you drop your key in the gutter, a magnet can help!

5.      Fluids

Your engine oil levels should be checked on a weekly basis and there should always be some of it in your garage – never drive without acceptable engine oil levels. In addition, there are many other fluids that your car may need: brake fluid, clutch fluid, antifreeze (especially for older vehicles), de-icer, screen wash, glass cleaner – all of these are extremely useful to have in your garage. We recommend Castrol for maximum reliability, no matter which car fluid type you might need.

Finally, don’t even think about not having some WD-40 lying around!

These five items are incredibly useful for every car owner, especially if you have a garage. So, make sure you have all the tools for keeping the car both clean and well-maintained!

 

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