There are so many horror stories about disreputable or incompetent home improvement contactors that television shows have been made about them. Unless you want to be a guest on one of those programs, take steps to ensure you find a good contractor.

Here are some tips that will help:

  • Ask for references. Speak to the references.
  • Get a detailed written estimate of the work to be done, and make sure you understand all the terms and conditions.
  • Be wary of contractors who insist on large payments upfront. The payment plan should be reasonable and tied to work as completed.
  • Ask if the contractor is a member of any professional associations.
  • Don't deal with a contractor who offers you a no-tax, cash-only deal.
  • Ask the contractor to get the…

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There are few things more traumatic than a home burglary. That's why it makes sense to invest in good locks and, if necessary, a good alarm system.

There are also ways to work with your neighbours to prevent these crimes from occurring. In fact, police say that watchful eyes are one of the best ways to deter burglars on the prowl.

Police recommend that you know the names of all the neighbours adjacent to your property. Get in the habit of watching each other's homes. Stay alert to cars and people lingering around that don't seem to belong.

Another strategy is to set up a community Facebook page. That way, when someone sees something suspicious in the neighbourhood, they can immediately notify everyone by posting a Facebook message.

Finally,…

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There are several reasons why you may need to sell your home quickly. For example, a job change may require a speedy relocation to another city, or you may have purchased another property and don't want to be stuck too long with two mortgages.

Here are some tips that can help get the sold sign on your front lawn sooner.

  • Be realistic with price. If you set the listing price higher than the current market value of your home, then you're not going to get many, if any, viewers. You want the list price to be attractive, which means listing at the current market value.
  • Get things fixed. You probably don't have time for a major renovation. So just make sure everything in your home is in good working order. Deal with any obvious maintenance issues,…

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Have you ever watched those TV shows where some lucky homeowner gets a room redecorated by a professional? To have something similar done in your own home you would have to make a serious investment, or become a TV show guest!

However, there are ways to re-decorate a room and make it look great – even spectacular – on a budget.

Say, for example, you want a living room makeover. If your sofa is worn you can buy a fitted sofa cover that will make it look almost new. Table cloths on worn end-tables and other surfaces can have a similar affect.

Don't forget the most economical redecorating trick of them all: Paint! A fresh coat of paint can bring a room to life!

Hanging a few new pictures can also have a dramatic impact on the look of a room. You…

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If you're planning on finding your next dream home, then you're probably going to view several homes on the market that meet your criteria.  

You will want to make the right purchasing decision for you and your family. So, it's wise to be savvy when viewing properties for sale. Here are some ideas on how to do that.

• Bring a notepad. Take notes, not only of the home's characteristics, but also of how you feel. For example, can you imagine yourself happily cooking up a storm in the kitchen? Do you see yourself entertaining family on the back deck?

• Bring a measuring tape. Will the furniture you plan to bring fit? Your dining room suite? Your home fitness equipment?

• Ask about maintenance. Is the property in a good state of repair? Will anything…

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Finding storage space in the home is becoming increasingly challenging. These days, we all just seem to have more stuff!

Fortunately, you don't necessarily need to rent a storage locker or add a new room to your home to fit everything. There are many innovative ways to increase the capacity of the storage space you're already using.

For example, there are storage bins you can buy that are designed to fit neatly under a bed. Some have wheels, making the bins easy to pull out and access.

You've probably seen closet organizers at your local home improvement centre. These can easily double the storage capacity of a closet, while making the space look neater and more organized.

Finally, there are storage units available that are camouflaged as…

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If you're listing your home for sale, then of course you’ll want to make the best impression possible on potential home buyers. But, just to have a little fun, say you don't want to sell your property. What could you do to discourage those who view your home?

Well, you could have your pets in the home during viewings. That will certainly make it uncomfortable for some buyers – especially those with pet allergies.

You could also leave personal items around, such as family pictures and trophies. That will make it more difficult for a buyer to imagine himself and his family living there. It might even make him feel a bit like an intruder!

Clutter in bedrooms, closets and other areas of the home will make those spaces feel less spacious than they…

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Do you have stuff in your home that you need to sell? Perhaps you have some suits or dresses that no longer fit, an older living room set that you've just had replaced, or a vinyl record collection you've been hanging onto for years.

If a traditional garage sale is not an option for you, there are other ways to sell those items.

For example, you could rent a stall for the weekend at a local flea market. This is relatively inexpensive and can be a fun activity for the whole family.

Another option is to advertise in your local community newspaper.  Advertising rates in local publications are often much lower than in major newspapers.

You can also advertise on the internet. There are several popular sites, such as Craigslist.com and…

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When you’re looking for a new home, you want to find one in a great neighbourhood – or, at least, in a neighbourhood that is on the upswing. How can you tell if a particular area is improving? Here are some common indicators:

  • Pride of ownership. Take a walk around the neighbourhood. Do you get a sense that people take good care of their homes? Are the lawns mowed? Is the landscaping trimmed? Are flowers planted? Homeowners are more likely to look after their properties when they like where they are living.
  • Home improvements. Are people investing in their homes? Are they getting their driveways re-done? Their windows replaced? Are there signs of home improvement projects? If so, this is a clear indication that homeowners like the area enough to…

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Many people order an espresso or reach for an energy drink when they need a boost. However, there are other foods that can give you a similar increase in energy and are, arguably, a lot healthier. Here are a few examples:

  • Coconut oil. It contains high quantities of medium chain fats, which are a quick source of energy.
  • Honey. It tastes sweet because it's a natural form of sugar. As we all know, sugar gives you a quick boost.
  • Iron containing foods. Lack of iron in your diet can leave you feeling sluggish. Adding more beans, spinach, and lentils to your diet – perhaps in salads – can help boost your iron levels.
  • Nuts. Almonds, cashews and other nutrient-rich nuts are the ideal quick snack for an energy boost.
  • Dark…

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