When Your DIY Projects Will Fail

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We love a good do-it-yourself project. There’s just something about improving your home all by yourself without the assistance of a professional that feels so darn good! (Heck, our blog is called The DIY Playbook, so obviously we are obsessed with all things DIY.)

But it may shock you that we firmly believe that there are many instances when you should not do a project yourself. (Ever heard of “nailed it”?)

Yep, we’ve outlined all the times when you need to call in a pro to get the job done below.

Time Will Inevitably Be More Valuable Than Money

Many people assume that just because a project is easy, they should do it themselves. However, even simple tasks take time.

Here’s a real situation we were both in recently. Painting a room only takes 1-2 days. The problem is that it takes an entire 1-2 days of your time, and we were moving.

If you have 1,000 things on your to-do list for a big move, then it may make sense to call in a pro to get it done quickly and efficiently. (Hiring help to move is another bright idea when that to-do list is bursting with items!)

It cost us each about $1,000 to hire this DIY out, but we weighed that against packing up one house to move to another, closing on a home, and finishing things up at your old pad. So yeah, painting a room will only take about 1-2 days and costs roughly $100 in supplies, but sometimes you don’t have an open schedule.

In our particular case, an additional $900 was a resource well spent, because hiring it out ensured that we could subtract our labor, plus have a crisp white trim and fresh paint on the walls as we moved our new items in.

Don’t worry DIY fans; as we’ve designed each room in our homes later on, we’ve re-painted a few spaces with new colors ourselves. From experience, what sounds like a great DIY project is only realistic after you have the time.

Some DIY Projects Have Sneaky Costs

People turn to DIY to save money. And it’s true, often times labor is the most expensive part of a large project. However, there are some sneaky costs that you need to keep in mind before you decide to handle a project by yourself. Here are the two biggest ones we’ve figured out are the worst.

Transportation: This line item is way too often overlooked when it comes to large-scale projects. If you need a lot of large materials for a project, figure out how the heck you’re going to get those supplies home before you consider it worthwhile.

DIY Playbook has lived it. We decided to add a large decorative wall treatment to a guest bedroom, not realizing that we would need 12-foot wooden boards from the home improvement store. We had to rent a truck on the fly (which cost about $75). It made us question the savings.

Tools and Supplies: The more you DIY, the more tools and general DIY supplies you’ll acquire, making this a thing of the past. But the first time you tackle a project, you’ll probably have to buy all.the.things.

We recently completed a large tiling project for the first time and that meant we had to buy trowels, sponges, and a wet saw for the job. That added up to a couple hundred dollars pretty quickly! Of course, the next time we do a tiling project we will be prepared (and won’t have to spend quite as much), but buying all new supplies is something you’ll want to consider.

However, by making that investment in purchasing and learning how to till ourselves, we saved about $2,500 in labor. (Granted it took us two months to get the bathroom done, but heck … that’s still some big saving!)

Think through a project carefully, jot down some numbers, and add everything up before you start a project on your own.

Be Honest When You Don’t Know How

As DIY’ers ourselves, we always encourage people to expand their skill. However, if you’re an average homeowner, there are projects that will be far too advanced for you.

For instance, while we think most people can easily learn how to install a faucet online, we’d advise hiring a plumber to move plumbing lines in a bathroom. Sometimes it isn’t just safety to you and your materials, but not knowing regulation and keeping things to code also matters. The project don’t necessarily have to be too advanced for you to need an expert opinion.

And of course, some projects are incredibly dangerous if you handle them yourself! Gas repairs or extensive electrical work are not DIY projects. Know your limits and hire out when necessary.

Don’t DIY “ASAP Projects”

As a homeowner, you’re bound to run into emergency issues that need to be fixed ASAP. Whether it’s a flooded bathroom or a busted hot water heater, you’ll want to have a professional on call immediately.

When we were renovating our bathroom, we accidentally bumped the toilet valve and it immediately started leaking. Not wanting to flood our new bathroom, we called in a plumber to swap the old valve with a new one. This set us back about $275, but the job was done correctly and in about an hour. Plus, we felt much more at ease knowing our new bathroom wasn’t going to flood from that pipe!

These urgent issues should be handled by a professional. When you don’t have the time to research and buy the correct supplies, you can make a mistake trying to do an extensive repair yourself. If it’s a home emergency, call it in.

Don’t Experiment If You’re Gonna Stare at It Every Day

If there are any perfectionists tuning in, this category is for you. You may be stuck looking at the results of your DIY for years, so if you are someone who may constantly critique minor (or major) mistakes, then DIY-ing a large project may not be worth the money saved.

We recently renovated our guest bathroom (more on that here!) and I stare at all of the tiles in there when I shower. I’ll always focus in on the corners where I know a tile is 1/8 of an inch off from our handiwork. It’s minor, but it really bugs me!

We know this question sounds like a silly one to ask yourself, but DIY-ing is never worth it if you’re not going to love the end result, or even worse, hate it more than when you started.

The DIY Projects We Recommend

There are lots of DIY projects that you can (and should!) tackle on your own. Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing…

  • Changing Doorknobs
  • Painting your Front Door
  • Changing a Faucet
  • Installing a Ceiling Fan
  • Swapping out Light Fixtures
  • Changing an Outlet
  • Adding Cosmetic Woodworking to Walls
  • Installing a Smart Thermostat
  • Fixing a Screen Door
  • Painting a Room
  • Changing out your Baseboard

To DIY or not to DIY? Sometimes the answer is crystal clear. But when you’re unsure, we hope you consult this list so you make the right decision for you (and your home!).

How to Best Unload Your Moving Truck

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Loading your truck is like getting ready for prom. You want everything to be perfect.

Unloading, on the other hand, is kind of the same way; take everything off, drop it on the floor and go jump in the pool with your friends, right?

Yes and no. Unloading a moving truck is definitely easier than loading one, but like jumping in the pool, there are good ways and bad ways to do it.

Below are some tips for safety and speed so you can not only do the job right but have plenty of time for the post-party. (And this all applies for moving containers too!)

How to Prepare Your Unload

Park on a flat, level surface

If you are renting a portable container like a PODS, you can expect it will be set on even ground. The same thing goes for a rental truck.

You’ll want to park in a similar level place, to make unloading both safer and easier. If you simply have to park on a sloped surface, point the front of your truck downhill. (You can imagine why.)

Apply the emergency brake

This applies even if you park on a level surface. It also doesn’t hurt to put chocks – or rocks or blocks of wood – under one or more of the wheels. 

Open the back of the truck slowly

Your stuff will have shifted around in transit, and the possibility of something tumbling out onto the ground, or on you, is very real.

If something is about to come tumbling out, you may feel and/or hear it pushing against the door as you open it. But not always.

Keep your eyes open and have an extra set of hands ready.

Ramps slide out quickly, be careful

Rental trucks generally come equipped with a loading ramp that slides right out from under the rear door. Unlatching it, sliding it out and locking it in place is simple. So is hurting yourself if you aren’t careful.

That ramp is heavy! And pulling it too hard can turn it into a battering ram with you being the one getting battered. Ease it out all the way and set it down on something not your toes. And remember to set those hooks at the top of the ramp securely in place!

How to Unload Safely and Quickly

Get off to a pretty slow start

That’s right! Even if nothing looks about to topple over, you still want to take it easy when you begin unloading your stuff.

Your stuff will shift and resettle in transit

This goes triple if you have a freight trailer!

The pedal of the bicycle you so carefully placed on top of all those boxes might now be stuck in between two of those cartons, and pulling too hard trying to free your bike can send a whole stack of stuff cascading down on top of you. 

Remember, if your truck was packed to the gills, you won’t have much room back there for your feet. Take your time. Watch your step. Ease those first items off the truck, always aware of how close your Nikes are to the edge of that deck. One misstep and there goes your stuff (and you).

Assign a ramp person

If you have someone (or a few people) helping you, assign one person to stay on the truck to break down the load and put everything at the edge of the deck where the others can grab it without having to climb into the truck.

Not only does this save time, it also eliminates a ton of bending over.

Working like this, it’s never long before the person on the truck gets ahead of the others. This is a good time for that person to nominate someone to help carry that sofa or dresser off the truck and into the house. In addition, jumping off the truck and helping get all the stuff they’ve set on the deck into the house is the obvious way to keep the process rolling.

Tackling the unload all by yourself? Try working in a similar fashion. As you break down your load, position as many boxes and other items as possible along the edge of the deck. Then you’ll be able to make a bunch of trips back and forth without having to walk up and down that ramp every time, saving both your legs and your back.

 

Form a box brigade

Building on above, if you are lucky enough to have two or more people helping you unload:

  • Keep one person working on the truck
  • One person carrying stuff from the truck to a staging area (usually the garage or the front door)
  • One person working inside carrying everything from the staging area to where it all belongs

Naturally, the person on the truck will start getting ahead of the person carrying stuff to the staging area, who will in turn probably get ahead of the person running back and forth inside the house. Periodically jumping off the truck or stepping inside to help your buddy catch up keeps everyone moving – and quickens the process of emptying out that truck or portable container.

Which, of course, leaves more time to enjoy the pool.

Use a dolly

When you are unloading your moving truck, a hand truck (also known as a dolly) is your best non-human friend.

Rolling heavy stuff means you don’t have to carry it. Rolling a stack of boxes means making one trip instead of three or four! The bigger your load and the heavier your stuff, the more you will thank yourself for having that hand truck around. It’s an essential item to rent of your moving truck doesn’t come with one, or if you don’t hire moving labor.

Make sure, by the way, to use that hand truck correctly. You should always be higher than the dolly when rolling stuff down that ramp. If you are hand-trucking something large and/or heavy, have an extra set of hands at the lower end to keep that thing moving steadily—and slowly!

Want to really learn how to use a dolly? Check out this post.

Center everything before it goes off the truck

It goes without saying that when you’re unloading major appliances and large pieces of furniture – or anything for that matter – you want to be doubly certain neither your feet nor the wheels of your hand truck miss that ramp.

But you also want your hand truck to hit the ramp squarely; if one wheel starts going downhill before the other your hand truck will start to tip to one side. Your buddy on the bottom end will naturally try to steady it, which can send one of his feet off the side of the ramp, and things will just keep going downhill from there.

Whether you are rolling or carrying that big heavy appliance or piece of furniture, you want to get centered on the back of the truck before you head for that ramp.

Again, when using a dolly, those wheels go down before you do. If you and a buddy are carrying that item, whoever is holding the bottom end needs to travel down first. In either case, the person on the lower end is responsible for maintaining a straight line of forward progress. 

Ready to unpack?

That’s a whole other thing, so make sure to read our unpacking guide too!

Protip: If you have to walk up a slope or up any stairs, it’s good practice to turn yourselves around so the person holding the top of that big bulky piece is again in a higher position.

Going upslope, however, the person on top takes over steering duty. The person on the bottom then will have the responsibility of providing most of the upward momentum. (This is especially true when going up a staircase.)

In other words, the person on bottom pushes while the person on top does their best to avoid banging into the walls and tripping up the steps. 

Get Some Quick Help

And if all else fails (or you realize you have more stuff than you thought you did after loading your truck), do yourself a favor and double-check unloading help prices.

Get Help Unloading Your Rental Truck

See prices for movers by the hour—instantly.

Read real customer reviews.

Easily book your help online.

 

From my decades of experience moving people, an unbooked mover is pretty motivated to come out, as opposed to sitting around doing nothing. Do a quick fly by on HireAHelper and see if there are any local movers available to lend you and your friends a hand.

I’ve saved plenty of people’s moving day who thought to check, even last second.

Illustrations by Emily Roberts

Your Life in Another Country

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Category: Long Distance Moving

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Where you grow up not only determines a lot of your personality (and what you like), but it can determine your overall quality of life too.

There can be drastic differences between someone who grew up in New York vs. Los Angeles … and the difference is even more striking if you grew up in a different country with a different culture. After all, a child in Bangkok will have a highly different experience than one growing up in Ireland.

Life Comparison Tool

Have you ever imagined what your life would be like if you moved somewhere vastly different from where you are now? Where would you choose to live? What would you spend your time doing? How would life be easier or more difficult?

Comparing things like life expectancy, unemployment rate, average purchasing power, median age and access to the internet can give you a better idea of how other cultures live. So we built this useful tool so that you can do just that!

Start by picking your “country of origin” by choosing it from the list below. Next, pick the country you’d like to compare it to and analyze the different statistics.

Feel free to mix and match as you choose—be curious!

  • United States
compared to
  • United Kingdom

You are years olderyounger.

You are % lessmore likely to have AIDS.

Your country would have % lessmore debt.

Your nation would spend % lessmore on education.

You would have % lessmore free time.

You would make % lessmore per year.

You would have % lessmore saved.

Your country would have % lessmore active internet users.

You would live a % shorterlonger life.

You would be % lessmore likely to be obese.

You would be % lessmore likely to be unemployed.

You would be % lessmore likely to be murdered.

 

Sources/Methodology:

CIA World Factbook, Unemployment |  CIA World Factbook, GDP | CIA World Factbook, Gross National Savings | OCED Data | CIA World Factbook, National Debt | CIA World Factbook, Educational Expenditures | United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime | CIA World Factbook, Obesity | CIA World Factbook, Life Expectancy | CIA World Factbook, Median Age | CIA World Factbook Internet Users | Free Time calculated by percent of OCED Hours Worked Yearly to total hours in a year

Outfitting Your House for a Child With a Disability

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Category: Home Improvement, Kids & Pets

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Are you outfitting a home for a child with a disability? The U.S. Census Bureau reports that around 12 percent of the population is disabled while the PEW Research Center puts that number even higher. That means while only 5.4 percent of children five to seven years old are disabled, they still comprise a pretty large part of the population.

For those children, having a home that they can feel comfortable in is very important. Outfitting your home for a child with a disability, however, can be a nuanced process. Each type of disability is different and each requires special modifications to the house. Home modifications for disabled kids can also be costly depending on the amount of work that needs to be done.

If your house needs modifications because of a disabled child, or you’re looking for ways to create a space where your child with a disability can lead a safe and happy life, this guide will help. We’ll discuss the most common impairments and adaptations that can be made for every situation.


Creating a Space Where Disabled Kids Can Thrive

Creating a Space Where Disabled Kids Can Thrive

Whether you recently acquired your new ability status, have moved into a house that needs updates or have a sudden need to make your home accessible, it’s important to assess the needs of your disabled child.

You will want to create a space where your disabled kid can feel at home, feel safe and free to be themselves. It’s important to consider the safety of each room, as well as the exterior of the house and common spaces. Consider your child’s unique needs and how you can make your house safer for them.

Adapting a Home to Medical Equipment

Adapting a Home to Medical Equipment

If your child will need medical equipment or medications, there are a few things to consider, such as safe storage for medical supplies and medicines. You may need to add outlets or additional power options if your child’s medical equipment is powered by electricity.

You must also consider whether your child’s equipment needs a backup power source. Would they need a generator during a power outage? If so, you should have one or two on hand. If your house has stairs and your child is mobility challenged, you may need a stair lift to ensure they have access to the whole house.

Staying in Budget when Modifying Your House

The cost for accessibility modifications can be anywhere from $1,600 to $14,160. Since there are such a variety of customizations, the gap is quite large.

Some children may struggle more than others. If you need to buy multiple pieces of equipment or make extensive modifications, it can get very expensive. When purchasing the equipment, consider which purchase is more important. Those that are life-sustaining or give your kid mobility will be the most important—prioritize these.

If you are having trouble affording the equipment you need, consider a loan. If you own your house, you may be able to use its equity to make modifications to it. The first step is to get a cost estimate from a contractor, then talk to your bank about acquiring the funds.

Staying in Budget when Modifying Your House

Undertake as many of the projects as you can on your own. Modifications such as grab bars and stepping stools can be easy to DIY. Contract out what you can’t do yourself with a local handyman or contractor and compare prices.

Since children grow fast, it can make more sense to buy secondhand equipment. Talk to your doctor first to discuss whether or not the items you need are safe to buy secondhand. If they are, you can look for used mobility equipment, therapy toys or adaptive furniture on Craigslist in your area. Medical equipment that must be sanitary is not a good choice for this option.

When to Move Instead of Modify

Modifying a house for a disabled kid can be difficult. Making renovations can get costly, so sometimes it makes sense to move into a house that is already accessible. If the costs to modify a house far exceed its worth, it may not be smart to modify.

If serious modifications are needed (like taking out walls or widening hallways), it can drive costs up fast, making it more affordable to move. If you live in a two-story house and your child cannot get up the stairs (or use a stair lift) on their own, it may be smart to move into a one-story house.

If the layout of your house does not allow for the necessary modifications or if the rooms are too small to accommodate your medical equipment, it may be time to move.

Talk to your real estate agent about new home options that are more fitting for your needs and compare costs of purchasing vs. modifying.

Modifications for Children in Wheelchairs

Modifications for Children in Wheelchairs

Your child in a wheelchair will have very different household needs compared to a child who is visually impaired or has cognitive struggles. Thought should be given into what modifications will make it easier and safer for your child in a wheelchair to get around.

Flooring

Throughout the house, flooring should be non-slip, which includes hardwood flooring, laminate flooring, most ceramic flooring and vinyl flooring with an embossed surface. Laminate flooring is a popular choice, as it is very durable and scuff marks are easily removed. If selecting carpet, low pile carpet should be used.

Exterior Modifications

Modifications will likely need to be made to the exterior of the house to make it safe and easily accessible for your child in a wheelchair.

  • The front door should be widened to at least 36 inches to follow ADA recommendations for doorways.
  • You will need to install an entrance ramp if there are stairs outside your house. The entrance will need to be step-free, meaning a level threshold, or have a small ramp to make it easier for your child to enter. There are many different options for wheelchair ramps.
  • Concrete and sidewalks outside should be level and outfitted with traction control.
  • There should be nothing blocking the entryway or path to the entrance. It’s best to have a five-foot square space in the entryway for the wheelchair to maneuver.
  • Motion sensored lighting will make it easy for your child to access the entryway at all hours.

Adapting a Home to Medical Equipment

Doors, Hallways and Stair Modifications

Again, it’s incredibly important for your child to be able to move around inside the house easily.

  • Hallways should be wide enough for a wheelchair to navigate through (at least 42 inches).
  • Doors throughout the house should be a minimum of 34 inches but preferably 36 inches.
  • In some situations grab bars on either side of the stairs will work, especially if it’s a small stairway. Larger stairways may require a stairlift installation.

Kitchen Modifications

Since your child will not be doing the bulk of the cooking, kitchen modifications don’t need to be as extensive as they would be for a disabled adult. But there are still a few modifications that can help your child feel welcome and at home in the kitchen.

  • If your child will be able to warm things up for themselves and get snacks, it’s important to have at least one low cabinet or pull out drawer that they can utilize. This should also house something to eat on and utensils.
  • If possible, have a wide open floor space so that your child can easily navigate the kitchen.
  • There should be a kitchen table of appropriate height so that your child can pull up and eat, work on homework or craft.
  • It would help to have a grabber device in the area so that the child can grab any snacks that are out of reach or light items they need.

Kitchen Modifications

Bathroom Modifications

The bathroom can be one of the most dangerous areas in the house due to slipping hazards and will likely require significant adjustments for a child in a wheelchair. Since each situation will be different, it can be helpful to watch your child maneuver the area and see where they are struggling. You can add grab bars and make modifications as they are needed. You will also want to:

  • Ensure your bathroom is large enough for a wheelchair to turn around in.
  • If possible, eliminate any edge or obstruction that would make it hard for them to get into the shower. Doorless showers can make it easy for a child to get in and out of the area to wash.
  • Install grab bars along all sides of the shower so that your child can get themselves in and out easily.
  • Place a seat inside the shower and position it so that your child can move easily from their chair to the bench.
  • Make sure the floor has a no-slip pad to prevent injuries associated with slipping.
  • Modify your sink for wheelchair access by either lowering it or reinforcing it to hold the weight of someone leaning on it.
  • Lower the mirror so that someone in a wheelchair can see into it.
  • Install grab bars by the toilet so that your child can easily maneuver onto it. The toilet area should be around 48 by 56 inches with at least 18 inches from the side wall.

Living Room and Bedroom Modifications

The living and bedroom areas should be positioned so that it’s easy for your child to move about.

  • Arrange furniture so that there is nothing obstructing pathways in the house. Keep electrical cords off the floor.
  • Designate a spot in the living room where your child can park their chair to join in on the activities.
  • Avoid having area rugs as these can obstruct a wheelchair.
  • Make sure there is ample room for your child to turn around and move freely in a wheelchair. Open-concept floor plans are great for this.


Modifications for Visually Impaired Children

Modifications for Visually Impaired Children

Modifications for a visually impaired child should make it easier for them to navigate the house or evacuate in case of an emergency. Fortunately, modifications for the visually impaired can be done more easily and are often less expensive than modifications for the mobility challenged.

Exterior Modifications

The exterior of the house should be modified for safety when your child enters or leaves the home or spends time outdoors.

  • The areas around the house should be well-lit and free of debris or things your child can easily trip on.
  • It’s helpful to have grab rails available to your child if there are any stairs or steps up into the house.
  • Keep items like tools or toys stored in the same area.
  • Move fragile or dangerous items into a locked shed or garage.

Doors, Hallways and Stair Modifications

Any area that your child will be traveling through often will need to be cleared of debris and safe for them to move about.

  • Tack or tape down any rugs or runners. Add non-slip mats underneath if you are able.
  • Tape down any electrical cords or ensure they are not laying where your child can trip on them.
  • Keep hallways and stairwells well lit.

Doors, Hallways and Stair Modifications

Kitchen Modifications

The kitchen can be a particularly dangerous place for the visually impaired. These modifications can help reduce the chance of injury.

  • Food, drinks and anything consumable should be labeled very clearly. If your child is blind or has extremely limited vision, you will need to label food items with braille. Here is a website that goes into extensive detail about labeling food items for the visually impaired.
  • If your child will be heating up snacks or doing small cooking tasks, label the microwave or dials on the stove top. Make sure everything they will need is always in the same location.
  • Keep dangerous things like knives and medication out of reach so your child can’t grab them.

Bathroom Modifications

The bathroom can also be dangerous for children who can’t see well (or at all). You can prevent injury by making sure special modifications are in place.

  • Install a safety rail at the edge of the tub or in the shower.
  • Mark their toothbrush with a rubber band or piece of tape so that it is easily identifiable.
  • Buy towels and mats that have contrasting colors to the floors and fixtures in the bathroom. All mats should be non-slip.
  • Use non-slip surfaces on the floor of the shower or tub.
  • Purchase non-spill dispensers for soap, shampoo and other liquids.

Living Room and Bedroom Modifications

Your child should feel the most at home in your living areas and bedrooms. There are several modifications you can make to the room so that finding needed items becomes second nature to your visually impaired child.

  • Use textures whenever possible so that your child can distinguish between things more easily.
  • Keep all pathways clear of obstructions that your child could possibly trip over. Make sure other children in the house are aware that they will need to pick up after themselves consistently.
  • Avoid area rugs or install non-slip rugs in common areas.
  • Make sure everything your child would need has a “home” and try to remember to put it back after you’re done using it every time. Teach your children to do the same.
  • Remove low-lying objects like coffee tables and ottomans that your child could trip over.


Modifications for Children with Sensory Concerns

Modifications for Children with Sensory Concerns

Sensory processing issues like hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity can be caused by a number of reasons. For children with sensory processing issues, dealing with sensory information can be confusing and at times frustrating. They may exhibit resistance to change and trouble focusing, problems with motor skills, lack of social skills or poor self-control.

If you have a child with sensory needs, you will need to outfit your house so that it feels like a safe space for your child.

Throughout the House

Sometimes, even the normal hustle and bustle of a home is too much for a child with sensory issues. There are things you can to do tone down the intensity of your house so your child can function properly.

  • Paint the walls in your house with neutral, soothing colors and avoid bright, bold colors.
  • Install light dimmers so that you can dim the lights when needed.
  • Keep your home free from clutter and unnecessary decor to cut down on the distractions.
  • Avoid having candles or diffusers that may emit strong odors.
  • Use weighted blankets in your child’s bedroom so that they can sleep better.

Create a Safe Space

Create a Safe Space

It’s a good idea to have a safe space your child can retreat to if they need a moment to regroup. A “sensory corner” that is quiet and stocked with cozy, comfy things is a smart idea.

Pick a corner that is dim, quiet and warm. You could even consider building a little “fort”. They sell fort beds, but you can also get creative and make a DIY fort.

Fill it with blankets and pillows, quiet, imaginative toys, squishy seating like bean bag chairs, and books or some music they can listen to.

Provide for Sensory Input

While some children thrive with sensory avoidance, others actually need sensory input. If you have a sensory seeking kid, your home can become damaged as your child explores their surroundings seeking different sensations.

Create safe spaces for sensory experiences by adding things your child can play on like a trampoline for jumping or safe, padded spaces for jumping into. Noisy toys, seats that wiggle and bounce or any kind of toy where your child can create sensory experiences is helpful. Each child will be different, so keep an eye on your child to decipher their specific needs.

Modifications for Autistic Children

Modifications for Autistic Children

New studies report that around 1 in 68 children in the United States are on the autistic spectrum, with the majority of them being male. Cases can range in severity, so it’s important to assess your child’s individual needs and outfit your home accordingly.

Exterior Modifications

There are several things you can do to ensure that the exterior of your house is safe for your autistic child. It is common for autistic children to want to be outside and in motion, so leaving the home to go outside unsupervised is sometimes an issue.

Use locks and alarms on doors and windows so that you will be alerted when your child enters and exits the home. You will also want to make sure your yard is safe from dangerous items like yard-work tools or sharp objects.

Kitchen Modifications

Kitchen Modifications

The kitchen can become a dangerous place for an autistic child if the proper precautions aren’t taken. There are a few things you can do to make it safer and more difficult for them to injure themselves or others.

  • Install durable surfaces and keep breakables out of reach. If your child has an outburst or participates in exploratory behavior, they can be destructive in the kitchen.
  • Arrange kitchen furniture so that your child has an appropriate place to sit and work if they need to. Keep furniture away from shelves and anywhere else that they could possibly climb.
  • Label things to explain their function or enforce rules. Images that say “STOP” or “NO”  work well to deter your child from getting into things they shouldn’t. You can place these on doors that are not to be opened or containers that hold poisonous substances. Cleaning supplies should be locked away in these drawers or cabinets.
  • Put sharp items such as scissors, knives or any other sharp tools high up or secured in a place where your child can’t access them.
  • Keep lighters or matches locked up so your child doesn’t burn themselves while exploring their world.
  • Store things in cupboards or pantries as much as possible to cut down on clutter which can upset autistic children.
  • Buy appliances with safety features such as child locks or hidden controls.

Exterior Modifications

Living Room, Bathroom and Bedroom Modifications

In the rest of the house, you will want to use special precautions to make sure your autistic child doesn’t harm themselves or cause damage to your house.

  • Avoid using fluorescent lighting as these can tire autistic children out. Choose incandescent lighting whenever possible.
  • Build a playroom or safe play space where they have free reign. Create an environment where it’s easy for your child to focus on you or their learning activities and explore the world around them.
  • Reduce visual stimulation by coloring the rooms neutral or soothing colors and keeping the home clutter-free.
  • Make electrical outlets safe by placing plastic covers over them when they are not in use. You will want to ensure that wiring for electronics is concealed in a way that the child can’t access the wires.
  • Appliances can be made safe by using plastic child-proof knob covers for doors, faucets, ovens and stove burners. Lock the door to rooms that house the washer and dryer or power tools.
  • Organize functional items in see-through plastic bins so that your child knows where everything is. Use visual labels like symbols or photos to mark these bins.
  • Use visual signals to help your child understand limits and set expectations. Using colored tape to designate boundaries on carpets, floors and walls can visually remind children where their bodies should remain.
  • Make fire safety a priority and always keep matches and lighters out of reached or locked up. Supervise your child closely when there is a fire in the fireplace or a barbecue with open flames. Make sure smoke detectors are always working properly.


Resources for Parents of Special Needs Children

Resources for Parents of Special Needs Children

There is a wealth of information available for parents of special needs children on the internet. Whether you’re interested in learning more about the needs of your child, gaining financial assistance or looking for emotional support, there is something available. We’ve listed some of our favorites below.

General Information and Support

  • Care.com has a number of helpful resources for parents of children with disabilities.

Financial Resources

The Best Type of Packing Tape to Use When Moving

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Packing tape is an item you probably don’t give much thought to until you really need it, after which it’s the only thing that really seems to matter.

If you’re painting a room, you’ll want to find the perfect painter’s tape to get the job done right. If you’re in the midst of moving your “to buy” list probably includes boxes, moving blankets, packing material, and yes, packing tape!

But what type of packing tape is best to use when moving?

It depends on what you are taping, so first you need to know a couple of things.

After moving lots ourselves, we’ve concluded that not all tape is created equal. Some tapes are not right for moving boxes and will make packing a heck of a lot harder. Not only that, but only having one type of tape won’t work well for each step in your moving process.

So knowing what we know now, let’s chat about how the tapes you’ll find at the store are actually different…

Tape Factors

There are lots of factors that differentiate each type of tape. Here are things to keep in mind when choosing the right tape for your packing needs.

  • Temperature: Some tapes are better than others when it comes to standing up to certain temperatures and humidity levels. You’ll want to take the environment into account when deciding on a tape so it stays sealed even in a humid storage unit or on a chilly moving truck.
  • Grade: The grade is a fancy word for the stickiness and strength of the tape. The higher the grade, the thicker and stronger the tape.
  • Adhesive: There are a few different kinds of adhesives for different stuff you’re sticking together. Most notably, hot melt adhesive and acrylic adhesive.
  • Width and Color: How wide is the tape, and is it wide enough to cover the gap in your boxes? What color is it? Color is something to think about when it comes time to organize and sort all of your boxes during the unpack.

Okay now that we got the technical jargon out of the way, let’s figure out what tape is best for you and your move!

Best Tapes for Moving

#1: Shipping Tape

Shipping tape is going to be your best bet for your move. This tape is often a hot melt adhesive and thus is strong enough to withstand the handling of your moving boxes as you get from point A to B. You’ll also want to grab a handheld tape dispenser so it’s easy to cut and apply to boxes quickly. (Plus, this makes you feel pretty cool knocking out boxes like a pro.)

You can buy this tape and the tape “gun” at any home improvement, office, or moving store—it’s often clear and comes in 2-3 inch widths. Shipping tape also lacks a cloth backing, so it’s easy to undo from your boxes when it’s time to unpack.

Use For: Building and sealing moving boxes.

Price: ~$9-12 on Amazon

#2: Storage Tape

This special tape should be used for boxes that are going into your storage unit with no plan to get them out any time soon. We’re looking at you, boxes of Beanie Babies from 2nd grade. Because it’s a heavier acrylic adhesive, this stuff can last up to 10 years in any type of temperature or humidity. So you can leave those boxes in your storage unit knowing that they’ll stay tightly closed.

Use For: Boxes going into storage for the long-haul.

Price: ~$15-20 on Amazon

#3: Masking Tape

Most of us have used masking tape … it’s that thin beige tape that you may use for random tasks around the house. While this tape comes in handy during the moving process, it shouldn’t ever be used for sealing. It’s really just not that good at it. But it’s still a worthwhile tape to pick up when packing because you can use it to bundle kitchen utensils or even label boxes.

Of course, it’s really great tape to write on, so grab that permanent marker and start labeling, baby!

Use For: Labeling and bundling packing items.

Price: ~$10 for 4-pack on Amazon

#4: Washi Tape

Washi tape is quite possibly our favorite tape on the list because it has so much personality. Plus, it’s way cuter than tapes #1-3. You used to only be able to find this tape at craft stores, but now it’s popping up all over the place because people can’t seem to get enough of the cute patterns and colors. This tape comes in handy if you want to have an organized move and color code all of your boxes.

We especially love this idea to make sure your boxes stay organized by room and end up in the right place on moving day!

Use For: Organizing boxes.

Price: ~$5-15 for wide varieties of patterns and colors on Amazon

Tapes You Shouldn’t Use for Moving

If you stick to our top four tapes for your move, then you should be good to go. But just to make sure you stay on track, we want to mention the tapes that you should avoid for moving.

  • Electrical Tape
  • Plumber’s Tape
  • Medical Tape
  • Cellophane Tape (aka Scotch tape)

Time to Get Taping!

So are you feeling a bit more informed about your taping needs for your upcoming move? Who knew there were so many varieties to choose from? But if choosing the perfect tape for your move makes the process a tiny bit less stressful, then we think it’s worthwhile to spend the time buying the right stuff to get the job done! Go on that tape shopping spree and load up your cart with all of your taping needs.

What’s a Moving Container? A Guide for Everything You Need to Know

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If you’re planning a move and have done the slightest bit of research, you might be wondering, “What’s a moving container?” Most of us can understand rental trucks, which we often see passing by us on the highway.

Well if you’re still confused, think of moving containers as the younger, hipper cousins to rental trucks.

Basically, moving containers are portable storage units. They are metal or wood containers in which you can store your stuff.

Because they are portable, they can be loaded onto a truck for transport down the block (or across the country!). Moving containers make it ultra-convenient for people to load, pack and transport their stuff.

They can be delivered to your home or office, where it remains on the grounds while someone loads it up with your stuff. When you’re ready to move, you can call the company to have a professional driver pick it up and deliver it to the next location. There, you unload the goods and move in! You might have seen them on the grounds of your neighbor’s home or local businesses.

Once you know what they are, you’ll start spotting them everywhere.

What Do They Look Like?

It varies, but by and large, moving containers just look like big boxes. Container sizes vary. Some are as big as 16 feet long, while others are as small as 7 feet long. Their heights differ, too. Some are skinny and taller to take advantage of the height to pack in more stuff. Others are shorter, which is really convenient for loading but, of course, might not allow you to fit as many things.

Where Do I Go to Get a Moving Container?

PODS claims to be the founder of this niche in the industry, and it is arguably the best known of the container companies. But there are other big names, including 1-800-PACK-RAT, Smartbox, and Go Mini’s, to name a few. Even U-Haul has gotten in on the act with U-Box.

What Are the Differences Between Companies?

PODS offer customers the chance to rent up to three different sized containers based on their needs. Others, such as Smartbox, rent out just one size container. (In their case, it’s 8 feet wide and 7 feet tall.) Containers are also made of different materials, depending on which company you choose. PODS are steel-framed. U-Pack’s containers are made of “weatherproof metal.” Some others are made of wood and usually include some weatherproof type of covering instead.

People frequently debate the merits of each type of container. Some say the metal containers – the likes of which can be found at PODS and 1-800-PACK-RAT – are best because of their sturdy construction and ability to stand up to any kind of weather. Others argue they lack air circulation, which can potentially cause mold, mildew, or at the very least, musty smells. The wooden containers, such as the pressure treated plywood ones that U-Haul/U-Box rents, might allow for more ventilation, but they are not necessarily as weather resistant.

If you really want to dig into all the pros and cons of each company, including average prices, reviews, pictures and more, check out the moving container page at Moving101.

How Much Do Moving Containers Cost?

Moving containers can be pretty affordable relative to other moving services. They are especially good for those moving to and from smaller homes and apartments. 

Prices can range between around $500 (to move stuff to and from a small home or apartment in a local move) to $5,000 (for multiple containers making a long-distance move with many items from a large home). The cost really depends on the amount of stuff you plan on transporting and the distance the driver will be traveling.

How do you figure out exactly how much your containers would cost? These are the questions to ask:

How Big Is My Place I’m Moving Out From?

When you have a bigger home, you generally need to rent more containers, which of course elevates the price.

In addition, you have to be able to park these containers somewhere without violating local ordinances; with multiple large containers, you might have trouble—especially in a city where parking can be challenging. Sometimes, more containers also require more drivers or trucks. This all matters when gathering estimates.

Where Am I Moving To and From?

As you might imagine, the cost also depends on which company you choose, based on which container is better for your stuff and if they’re available in your area.

For example, PODS typically charges a little more than $600 for a local move and more than $3,000 for a long-distance move. On the other hand, Door to Door charges about $1,700 for local moves and more than $2,300 for a longer move. (UPDATE: Door to Door has been purchased by U-Haul and absorbed into their U-Box service.)

Moving101 Container Price Comparison

Clearly, all the prices are more than you would spend on a rental truck that you would drive yourself. That makes sense if you think about it. Companies are baking in the costs of the professional driver, their moving trucks, maintenance and fuel. (The cost will also rise the longer you keep the container for storage, as well as the more stuff you have to pack.)

Generally, moving containers remain economical for many of those planning a move and looking for a little more convenience and storage. It will cost more than a full-fledged DIY Move that includes renting a moving truck, but it won’t break the bank in the way a Full-Service Move would cost.

When Would I Use a Moving Container?

Moving containers are a good fit for people who want to conveniently load and unload their stuff in a specific location, on their own schedules. (There’s also no question it’s a better fit for those going a shorter distance and moving less stuff.) But there are plenty of times a portable storage is your best option.

Let’s say you can’t get the key to your place until the 25th of the month, but your lease ends on the 14th. What do you do? You call a moving container company.

How Does Booking a Moving Container Work?

Then typically, you go online or get on the phone, pick out a container, then schedule a date to drop it off wherever your stuff is. A sales representative will help you schedule based on how long you plan to keep the container for loading. You might ask about keeping it longer for storage purposes, in which case you can keep it on the grounds of the old place, or have it transported to the new place if you can get permission from owners or those moving out. Or you could even keep the container in one of the company’s storage facilities if they offer one.

You might need the container a few days to load it up. This is one of the differentiating factors between moving containers and trucks (and sales reps love to point this out). After all, rental trucks usually lock you into a schedule with little to no wiggle room.  

But there’s a catch with that flexible schedule. Sure, you can keep the container for long periods of time. However, if you keep containers longer than one month, you will pay much more than the original estimate because moving container companies generally charge by the month.

That means you have one month to load your stuff, schedule a pickup and delivery at the next destination, unload, and finally plan for the final container pick up.

About that pickup: usually, the container company sends out a driver to load up your container onto a big truck and drive it to where it needs to go. Another reason people might find containers appealing is the fact they don’t have to drive a van or big rig themselves. You leave the driving to professionals. Anyone hesitant to maneuver one of those big trucks on a highway or a long distance could see this as a major selling point.

Can My Movers Help Me with Moving Containers Too?

Yes! Professionals can load and unload containers just as they would a rental truck. You just have to ask!

Moving containers can be a smart choice for people who are looking to make a Full-Service Move at a fraction of the cost, or especially to pull off a Hybrid Move. It’s also a great option for those who need storage. Getting professional help moving can make the move actually not stressful. If you want to save your back and your relationships (by not having to ask family and friends for help), then they’re worth consideration.  

Where Should I Start?

  • The first step is learning about the different companies and types of containers they have. Check out Moving101 for all the info you’d ever possibly need. Since every moving container company’s reviews and prices are gathered there in one spot, you can easily find your best option for you, based on your budget, availability and type of container.
  • The second step is to call up the sales representatives to get the low down on their availability, find the best fit for you, and book it!
  • The last step is to decide if you’re going to hire professionals to help you complete tasks like loading and unloading the container. Remember, don’t feel boxed in. You have the power to choose how long they work for and what items they move for you.

Get Help Loading Your Container

See prices for movers by the hour – instantly.

Read real customer reviews.

Easily book your help online.

 

With a little planning, moving containers fit nicely into any Full-Service Moving hack or Hybrid Move. You can keep your stuff somewhere while you’re moving, or have someone drive your stuff to wherever you need it. If you’re moving, you’d be a little silly to not compare prices and see if a container could save you a lot of money, or if using one would just be way more convenient.

15 Quotes From Pop Culture on a Fresh Start

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According to a Gallup survey, nearly one in four people moved in the last five years. That’s about 24 percent of the population! People move for a variety of different reasons including work opportunities, family obligations or simply for a change of scenery.

But even if the relocation represents a positive change, it can be a nerve-wracking experience. Whether you’re moving to a new city or a new country, it’s both exciting … and a bit scary.

With that in mind, it’s important to look at a relocation as an opportunity to move forward. If you’re feeling nervous, remind yourself that moving is a chance to have a fresh start in a new environment, likely surrounded by new people. Move with the knowledge that you are going to put your best foot forward and face any challenge that awaits you.

Overcome Change

Even the most confident people can feel a bit apprehensive about a relocation. We’ve put together some “moving” quotes from your favorite pop culture characters to provide a little inspiration. Whether these characters are overcoming adversity, setting out on a journey or making the best of a bad situation, their advice is perfect for anyone embarking on their next adventure.

moving quotes

How Moving Helped Me Pay off $107,000 in Student Loans

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Student loan debt is higher than ever, with 44 million Americans owing $1.48 trillion on their student loans. In fact, the average Class of 2017 graduate left school owing $39,400.

Assuming a 4.45% interest rate and a 10-year repayment plan, a balance of that size would require a monthly payment of $407.

That’s a serious burden for new graduates, let alone anyone facing today’s sluggish wage growth and sky-high rent.

So here’s an out-of-the-box idea for conquering your student loans: Move to another state. I moved from New York City to Austin, Texas, and it helped me pay off $107,000 in student loans.

Here’s how this decision helped my finances, along with surprising reasons why relocating could help yours, too.

Moving seriously lowered my cost of living

Andy Josuweit, CEO of Student Loan Hero

I attended Bentley University and majored in managerial economics. My degree helped me start my business, Student Loan Hero, but it also left me saddled with $74,000 in student loans.

In total, I had 16 different loans from four different loan servicers, none of which helped me understand my repayment options. I put some of these loans into deferment, only to watch my balance balloon to $107,000.

Between the stress of carrying all this debt and the challenges of starting a business, I realized that living in New York, one of the country’s most expensive cities, might not be the best idea for my finances.

In 2015, I decided to move to Austin. I’d heard the quality of life there was great, and I loved its mix of urban culture with outdoor activities. Having grown up in rural Pennsylvania, I was drawn to a city that still had trees and nature.

Plus, the cost of living in Austin was a lower than in NYC. In New York, the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $2,070, according to Apartment List. But in Austin, the median cost is just $1,120, nearly half that of New York.

Overall, Numbeo found that rent prices in New York are 97.6% higher than in Austin. Even groceries are 47.26% higher in the Big Apple!

Besides enjoying more affordable rent and food, I also saved money by not owning a car my first two years in Austin. I mainly relied on my bike to get around.

Of course, this might not be an option for a lot of Americans, especially for those who don’t live in cities with many options for public transportation.

In my case, though, giving up my car helped me reach my financial goals.

Relocating could help you save on state income taxes

Decreasing my cost of living wasn’t the only reason I saved money by moving to the Lone Star State. My tax bill also decreased significantly, since Texas doesn’t have state income taxes.

It’s one of seven states that don’t have an income tax. The full list includes:

  • Alaska
  • Florida
  • Nevada
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

Additionally, New Hampshire and Tennessee only tax interest and dividend income, which is money you make from stocks or mutual funds.

Between lowering my cost of living and eliminating state and municipal income taxes, I saved over $15,000 by relocating to Austin. Thanks to these savings, I was able to make extra payments on my student loans.

“If you put those savings toward your student loans, you could get out of debt 67 months earlier and save $7,193 on interest.”

As a result, I started to see my student loan balances go down. Not only did I save money on interest, but I also watched my six-figure balance return to a manageable level within a year.

I had been tackling my balance as aggressively as I could since 2013, and moving to Austin helped me pay it off even faster. In August 2016, I made my last payment on my student loans.

How much you save

Since my move helped my finances so much, I was curious about what impact a similar strategy could have for other Americans. To find out, Student Loan Hero conducted a study on the financial impact of relocating to a state with no state income taxes.

Student Loan Calculator

We learned that moving to a state with no income tax would save the average person $1,977 per year. We also found that nearly one out of three people said they would move to an income tax-free state if it meant they’d save money.

Although this number seems fairly high, it’s not all that surprising that debt, taxes, and finances affect where people choose to live.

If you’re interested in how moving could affect your finances, check out the state tax savings calculator in the study. It compares costs between two states and reveals how moving would impact your student loans.

If you’re considering a move, be sure to compare the cost of living between your current and prospective cities. But if you’re focusing on state income taxes, the calculator reveals how much you could save year to year.

For example, let’s say you’re living in Oregon and making $60,000 per year. You only have one exemption, and you owe $25,000 in student loans at a 5.70% interest rate. By moving up to Washington, you could save $4,777 per year on state income taxes.

If you put those savings toward your student loans, you could get out of debt 67 months earlier and save $7,193 on interest.

Should you move to pay off your student loans faster?

Although I’ve been discussing how much you can save by moving to another state, there are expenses involved in relocating. For one, you have to pay for the move itself. Plus, you must make sure the new destination has job opportunities in your field unless you’re capable of working remotely.

If you’re considering a move, ask yourself these essential questions:

  • Can I find a job in my line of work?
  • Can I work remotely in my current role?
  • How much in moving expenses will I have to cover?
  • What will my new cost of living look like?
  • Is the new state a good fit for me in terms of climate, culture and other factors?

You might also estimate your moving costs with HireAHelper’s moving cost calculator. This tool gives you a quote based on your old and new zip codes so you can prepare for the expenses of your move. The great news is that there are many moving options to considerably lower your moving costs, which you can read about here.

Moving Cost Calculator at Moving101.HireAHelper.com

As long as you’ve done your due diligence, moving could be a smart financial move. With the money you save by choosing an affordable city over an expensive one, you could pay off your student loans ahead of schedule and move closer to a debt-free life.

Saving money, by the way, might not be the only perk in moving. In Austin, I now enjoy 228 days of sunshine, not to mention some of the best tacos I’ve ever had.


Andrew Josuweit Bio: Andrew Josuweit is CEO and Co-Founder of Student Loan Hero. After he graduated with $107,000 in student loan debt, he realized he wanted to help others become debt-free and financially independent.

How to Sell a House: A Guide from A to Z

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If you’ve ever sold something on Craigslist, you probably know how much work even just that can be involved. You’ve gotta take photos of the item, figure out a good price, and then post it online with a descriptive caption and details about the piece. Afterward, you’ve gotta field the emails and calls, then wait for a random stranger to come pick up your item.

Now, take that process and multiply it by 100 … that’s what it’s like to sell a house!

We’re not gonna sugar coat it; there is a lot of work and serious effort involved in selling a home. That’s why we wrote this post to outline the entire process for you. Understanding what you’ll be doing is the first step towards slapping “SOLD” on the sign in your front yard.

Craft a Selling Gameplan

Once you decide to sell your house, you probably would like if it all happened pretty quickly. But nothing good happens without a plan. So the first order of business is to make a selling gameplan. This is what that looks like.

Agent or No Agent?

The first major step in the selling process is figuring out if you’re going to hire a professional real estate agent or sell your home yourself. If you go the “For Sale By Owner” route, you could, in theory, save some money. But if you’re new to the home selling process, you may be way over your head if you DIY it. Ask yourself if you have the time, knowledge and marketing skills to sell your house all by yourself. If you come away with a resounding yes, it could be the right move for you!

Though if you decide to go with an agent, take the time upfront to find a good one. Ask friends for referrals, read reviews online and interview more than one agent before you hire the winner. A good agent should educate you throughout the process, and it ultimately should be someone you deeply trust.

This post outlines tips on who to contact, when, and how to do it.

Choosing the Right Time

The best time to sell is March through June. That leaves parents an entire summer to get their kids adjusted and ready for the new school year. So if you can wait until the spring and early summer months, do it! It’s always best to avoid selling during winter and the holidays, as most people aren’t looking to buy homes during that busy time of year on average.

Find the Right Price

The first 30 days of activity are crucial when it comes to selling your house, so price matters. You may assume that you should start high and then lower your price if you don’t get any attention, but if it sits on the market for too long, your listing can become stale. Buyers may stay away if you price too high or assume that you’re not serious about selling. Price it right from the start and you’ll probably sell your home much faster.

If you’re using an agent, they will work with you to figure out the best price for your home. You can also research other comparable homes in your area, and maybe even attend some open houses. Plus, there are many online resources that will help you track down the perfect number for your area. These things will all get you a good feel for the market and how your home compares.

Prep Your Home

Painting the House

Before you can officially get your home on the market, you need to get it looking it’s very best. If you fail to make your home look presentable, then you may not get the asking price you’re looking for, or even worse … it could sit on the market for far too long. You need to showcase your home in its best light, and the only way to do that is with some hard work and effort. Here’s how to prep your home for the market:

De-Clutter and De-Personalize In Six Steps

This first task will cost you literally zero dollars. Yep, you can already make your home look 10 times better without spending a dime. Here’s how.

  • Find a spot where you can store items out of sight. That could be an attic space, shed, or even a storage unit that you rent while you’re selling.
  • Remove excess bulky furniture. The more space to walk around, the better.
  • Try to pare down at least 10% in each room. Gather extra accessories and items that are taking up space.
  • Permanently clear all counters in your kitchen. And try to get rid of most items on surfaces (i.e., desks, dressers, etc.).
  • Donate everything you clear. (Or add them to your designated storage spot.)
  • Remove any personal items from around your home. This means things like picture frames and family knickknacks.

These six steps will have your home looking so much more sellable. Your space will be lighter and brighter for the photography and showings later on! Don’t forget about closets and drawers too. Buyers are nosy, and they’ll be checking out every nook and cranny in your house.

Make Small Home Upgrades

You don’t necessarily need to renovate your kitchen or bathroom to sell your house, but there are small upgrades you can make to improve your home. Here are some ideas that will instantly improve the look of your space (and potential home value!).

  • Give your walls a fresh coat of paint. Be sure to consult this list of paint colors with the best resale value first!
  • Upgrade your kitchen on a dime. Swap cabinet hardware, replace your faucet, and add new pendants for a quick and budget-friendly new look!
  • Boost curb appeal with a painted door. This post will help you pick the perfect hue. (Also helpful is a cleaned up yard and fresh flowers.)

Finally, if something has been broken (and on your to-do list for years), now is obviously the time to fix it!

Clean From Top to Bottom

There’s another essential (but free) task you’re going to be doing to make your home look a lot better: cleaning everything! Grime and dust can quickly deter buyers from truly considering your home, so get every nook and cranny sparkling. These posts will help you channel your inner Mr. Clean.

Marketing Your Home

If you’ve gotten to this step, your home is in tip-top shape from all of your hard work and it’s ready for its debut to the world! Marketing your home is by far the most important step of the home selling process. You can have the most gorgeous house on the block, but if no one sees the listing it’s never going to sell.

Stage and Photograph Your Space

You’ve already prepped for the staging when you got rid of personal items and removed clutter. Good work, that’s 90% of the battle. Now it’s time to add the finishing touches before your home’s photo shoot.

Make sure every room is clean, all beds are made, and blinds are open to let that natural light in! (Natural light is ideal for photos.) It’s important to keep accessories to a minimum, but if you do want to add a few we suggest opting for plants and flowers. This post has lots of tips on how to do it right.

Pictures are the most important part of a home listing, so it’s crucial to get these right. If you don’t think you can DIY it, then hire a pro! Investing in a professional photographer could potentially be the biggest money spent to money gained ratio in the entire process. If you’re using an agent, often times they will pay for this service. A professional is always a good idea because they will know how to photograph your home to make it look its best.

If you’re selling your house yourself (or just want to save some money), it’s possible to take your own pics. We suggest using a wide-angle lens, shooting during the daytime, and using a tripod. For more DIY photography tips, check out this post.

Promote Your Sale

Don’t solely rely on your agent to promote your listing. You can take some of the marketing efforts into your own hands and broadcast your sale to the world! Put your listing on social media sites, email your friends and family, and let neighbors know that you’re selling. You never know who might be looking to buy, so it’s worth it to use your own network to get the word out. Here are some of the most common sites people use for listing and/or real estate research:

Bring on the Showings

Simply put, homes that don’t get shown don’t get sold. So the first order of business is to make your home available for showings. That could mean a few open houses on the weekends and availability during the week. We highly recommend that you leave the house during showings so buyers can really feel comfortable checking out your space. It may be an inconvenience for you and your family, but remember that it’s only temporary!

You’ll also want to do these 10 things before any open house to get your home looking (and smelling) its best!

Keep It Clean

It’s hard to live in your home like a normal person and keep it ready for showings at all times. But you’ve gotta do your best to keep your home clean and organized. Whenever you leave the house, tidy up and wipe down all of your countertops. That way if you need to have a last-minute showing, your home is ready to go.

Get Everyone Out of the House

It’s important for buyers to check out an empty house. So that means that you, your kids, and any animals should make a plan to high-tail it out of there. That could mean taking the dog for a long walk or heading over to a friend’s house for the day. But no matter what, come up with a plan for where your family will go when those last-minute showings happen. And if you do have pets, be sure to remove their items (e.g., dog bowls, cat litter, etc.) from the home before buyers come in.

How To Get Ready For Closing

If you’ve made it this far, then congrats! You’re almost to the finish line. Here’s what happens now:

Appraisal and Inspection Time

After the listings and showings, you will (hopefully!) get an offer on your place. After you’ve accepted an offer, most buyers will do an inspection of your place within a week. You won’t need to be there for the inspection, and you’ll usually have the results within a few days. At that time, you’ll know if all went well, if you need to fix a few items yourself, or if you’ll offer the buyers a credit to fix things themselves.

Here’s our full guide for how to deal with a home inspection.

Next, it’s time for the appraisal. Appraisals usually happen within a week of the home inspection. You can do some homework before the appraisal to improve the chances of getting a higher price. Provide a list of recent home improvements and receipts to explain the value you’ve added to your home.

The results of the appraisal may take a few weeks. If your home appraises, you’re good to go! If not, you’ll have to negotiate with the buyer to find a price that works for all parties.

Prep to Move

After the appraisal, you’ll be on track for closing day. You can finally start to pack things up and get ready to move out of your home. This would be a good time to think about hiring some help for moving day. It’s also time to start packing! This handy checklist will keep you on task so you stay organized and on top of your move.

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Saying Goodbye to Your Home

Congrats, you sold your house! All that’s left to do is say goodbye and toast to all of the memories made in your place. As a bonus, you can also leave your buyers a little gift as you head out (like a booklet of your favorite restaurants or just a note with tips on their new house). It’s a great way to hand off your past experiences to the new homeowners. Onward!

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