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How to Create an Organized Garage for Fall

These six steps will help you get your garage organized and ready for cooler weather.

The following is a guest post from Andrea Davis of HomeAdvisor


As the warm breezes of summer give way to chillier temperatures, consider rearranging the items in your garage to ensure you’re ready for colder weather. Here are six steps to help you get your garage organized and ready for fall (and winter):

Step #1 Categorize Items

It’s hard to whip your garage into shape without taking inventory. Take a look at your possessions and divide them into categories based on use. Keep frequently used and important items close at hand and store everything else. Here’s a list of items to keep close by:

  • Recycling
  • Sports and recreational equipment
  • Automotive maintenance/repair tools
  • Seasonal décor
  • Garden and yard tools
  • Major equipment

You may find that storing some of the items — like decorations — indoors will free up space and make it easier to organize your garage.

Couple Clearing Garage For Yard Sale Laughing

Step #2 Group Similar Items Together

Next, pull everything out of your garage and group similar items together. This might seem like an unnecessary step, but it can actually help you later on when you start to reorganize these items. Additionally, it’s easier to purchase storage solutions when you know the amount and size of items you’re dealing with.

Step #3 Let it Go

Whipping your garage into shape is the perfect time to identify and dispose of any unused, broken or forgotten items. If you run across any items you haven’t used in some time, throw them away or donate them to make room for your more important possessions.

Step #5 Determine a Layout

There are a number of ways to organize your garage. But, no matter how you do it, it’s best to decide on a location for each item or group of items before you start putting anything back. It’s also important to consider factors like the frequency of use and available space during this phase.

Step #6 Install Cabinets or Purchase Storage Bins

Grouping items together will help you decide on the perfect storage solution for your garage. Once you’re ready, purchase and install cabinets or storage bins. Organizational tools help you keep similar items grouped together and within easy reach. This is especially important with tools and other items that help you keep your home in good shape during the colder months.

Perhaps the most important part of the process is giving yourself time. Don’t rush yourself or assume you’ll finish everything in a single day. Set aside an entire weekend to allow yourself plenty of time to go through all of your stuff, group it, clean the garage and then put everything back in its new home. If you have to, find some friends to lend you a hand with moving items around. You’ll have a clean, organized garage before you know it.

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How to Make Your Move Less Stressful

Make your move less stressful by taking these steps to protect yourself and your belongings

Houzz Contributor, Laura Gaskill

From horror stories of lost, stolen and broken items to surprise charges tacked on to an already high bill, moving is not for the faint of heart. And after recently pitching in to help my mom through a downsizing and a big move, I’ve learned a few things about working with professional movers. If you have a move coming up, read on for eight tips to help your move go smoothly.

1. Take the time to research movers thoroughly. We’ve all heard horror stories about movers stealing, losing or recklessly damaging belongings, but with a bit of diligence on your part you can make sure you’re choosing a reputable, licensed company with ample experience. Check reviews, Better Business Bureau ratings and references before committing to hire. It’s also a good idea to purchase appropriate insurance for your belongings, just in case.

2. Don’t wait till the last minute to book your movers. Moving companies do book up, especially during the busy summer months, so don’t leave this decision until the last moment. Start looking for a company early and get on its schedule.

3. Honestly assess your belongings before getting a quote. If you end up bringing more items than discussed with your movers, the best-case scenario is that you get a higher bill — but the worst-case scenario is that there isn’t room on the truck for everything you plan to bring. The reverse can also be problematic: If you pare down your belongings a great deal between the time of your quote and moving day, you may find yourself paying more than you needed to.

If you do require flexibility in truck space for your move, be upfront about it. Some companies allow you to pay by the foot, which means you pay only for the space you end up using. Usually this involves sharing space with another customer, in which case your belongings will be divided with a locked partition inside the truck.

4. Don’t assume that professional packers are also pros at labeling. If you’re planning to hire professional packers, it’s smart to ask about their policy for labeling boxes. If they don’t label (surprisingly common), plan to be present while the packers work (a good idea anyway) and make it your job to label each box as it’s completed.

Packing tip: Label your boxes with your last name as well as the name of the room in your new home where you want the box to end up. When labeling rooms, use language that will make sense to the movers: Instead of “Katie’s room,” you could label a box “Upstairs small bedroom.”

5. Block out close parking in advance to avoid long-carry fees. If your movers can’t park the truck close to your home, you’ll probably get stuck with what’s known as a long-carry fee — and the farther the movers have to walk to bring each item, the longer it will take. To avoid this, do whatever you can to ensure there’s a close place to park the truck at both your old home and new. You may want to notify neighbors in advance, park your cars in the closest spaces to hold them, or put cones and signs in the space in front of your house on the day of the move.

6. Remember to measure openings at your new home. After one harrowing experience attempting to get a giant sofa through a narrow stairway (our movers eventually gave up), I now know the value of measuring doorways and stairwells in advance. If bulky furniture doesn’t fit, you may be forced to leave treasured pieces behind, or — if you simply can’t do without an item — you may need to ask for hoisting services, which aren’t cheap and may not be available right away.

7. Take the time to read the fine print. Before the movers leave at the end of the day, you’ll be asked to sign off on the inventory sheet and bill — and you’ll be exhausted when this happens. It’s easy to breeze through these last steps and just sign whatever papers they thrust in front of you, but it’s important that you take the time to actually read what you’re signing.

Double check that everything that went into the truck has actually arrived. Look over the bill carefully and be sure there are no extra charges. Especially if you were sharing space, belongings can get missed quite easily, so it’s a good idea to take a look inside the truck before it pulls away. And look close: Tiny (but necessary) items like drawer knobs and shelf brackets can easily get overlooked on the floor of a big truck.

8. Just get the big stuff into position; the rest can wait. Think rugs and major (read: heavy) furniture pieces — anything you can’t easily move on your own — are the things that should be put into position by the movers. Ideally, you’ll already be armed with a floor plan of the new space with furniture positions marked out. But if you didn’t get anything that elaborate organized, no worries. Just station yourself in the new place as early as possible before the movers arrive and make some decisions about where things will go.

Then locate the box with your bedding, because you’re going to be ready for a good night’s sleep!

Tell us: Have you moved recently? Share your tips in the Comments.

Read more stories about moving

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Smart Upgrades That Will Help Sell Your House

Upgrading your home with smart devices no longer an option — it’s a must.

Guest post by Jon Snyder

It’s official: smart home upgrades are HOT. A 2016 survey cited in the Washington Post says that 65 percent of buyers, especially millennials, are willing to spend more on homes that are equipped with smart devices.

Moreover, today’s definition of a move-in ready home has shifted. It’s not just about fresh paint and refinished hardwood floors anymore. An increasing amount of buyers don’t consider a property “move-in ready” until it’s equipped with smart gadgets. Combine this with the fact that a Coldwell Banker survey found that 71 percent of buyers desire a move-in ready home, and you’ll understand why upgrading your home with smart devices no longer an option — it’s a must.

But which upgrades are worth your time and money? Here are some low-cost, high-ROI smart gadgets to install when you’re ready to list your home.

What Buyers Want

The most desirable upgrades have these features:

  • Temperature control
  • Security and safety
  • Convenience
  • Compatibility with mainstream voice control devices and smart speakers

In addition, buyers prefer upgrades that stay with the home when you sell it. They want permanent gadgets that can be integrated with any voice command unit they bring when they move in.

The Best Investments

You don’t have to spend a fortune to make your listing more appealing. In fact, you can find many of these “quick win” devices for under $300 each, with plenty hovering around $100.

Thermostats. One of the most popular features in a smart home is the Wi-Fi-connected thermostat. This device allows you to not only program the temperature changes throughout the day for energy savings, but also to control the temperature by voice or even through an app when you’re away from home.

Smoke, Gas, and CO Alarms. Common threats to your safety require prompt notification. Imagine being able to know if your house is on fire or experiencing a gas leak even when you’re away. With smart alarms, it’s possible. Connected alarm systems notify the owners of any safety issues within the home, wherever they are.

Security Systems. There are plenty of smart-home security systems on the market that can be controlled by phone or voice command. That means homeowners can arm and disarm the system without fiddling with a complicated keypad. They can also view video streams and notify police of an emergency from their phones. These systems can even include window sensors, motion detectors, and much more.

Lighting. Smart lighting allows homeowners to dim or turn lights on and off with a simple voice command. Plus, if they ever forget to turn off the lights, they can easily do so from their phones — even if they’re at work.

Connected lights can also act as a de facto security system. By simply setting the lights to a randomized pattern, it can create the appearance that the home is occupied, potentially scaring off any would-be intruders.

Garage Door Openers. Garages are a popular point of entry for homeowners, but they’re also a common security breach. That’s where smart garage door openers come in. These devices can notify homeowners when the garage opens and closes and allow 24/7 monitoring of the garage. The doors can also be opened and closed remotely through a smartphone.

Video Doorbells. Your home’s new owners won’t even need to get off the couch to find out who’s at the door with this smart upgrade. Video doorbells are equipped with motion detectors and 24/7 surveillance, which will notify occupants that someone’s at the door, even if no one rings the doorbell.

A Smart Home Sells

If you’re ready to put your house on the market, you’ll need to make sure your property stands out from the competition. Investing in a few low-cost smart home devices can help you do just that, and it could pay dividends when your home sells.

Jon Snyder is a Product Manager at Esurance. He oversees countrywide design of property insurance products. Jon has over 25 years of industry experience in product management, design and management roles, as well as claims roles at Esurance and other major industry carriers. You can find out more about how smart home products can help you save on home insurance by visiting Esurance.com.