Ways to LOWER your home insurance cost

27 07 2017

6 Ways to Lower Your Home Insurance Cost

According to the Insurance Information Institute, the cost of homeowner’s insurance can vary by hundreds of dollars, depending on the company you buy from. Below are a handful of tips to save you money when buying homeowner’s insurance.

  1. Shop Around

Ask your friends, check the web or contact your state insurance department.


The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (www.naic.org) has information to help choose an insurer in your state, and on registering complaints.


  1. Raise Your Deductible

The average homeowner makes an insurance claim once every nine years. If you raise your deductible on your homeowners’ insurance by $1,000, you only need to save about $120 a year in your premiums in order to create a net savings on average – and, likely, you’ll save a lot more than that

  1. Don’t confuse what you paid for your house with rebuilding costs

The land under your house isn’t at risk from theft, windstorm, fire and the other perils covered in your homeowners policy. So don’t include its value in deciding how much homeowners insurance to buy.

  1. Buy home and auto policies from the same insurer

Some companies will take 5 to 15 percent off your premium if you buy two or more policies from them. Just be sure the combined price is lower than buying separate coverage from different companies.

  1. Make your home more disaster resistant

You may save on premiums by adding storm shutters, reinforcing your roof or buying stronger roofing materials. In addition, consider modernizing heating, plumbing and electrical systems to reduce the risk of fire and water damage.

  1. Improve home security

Does your insurer give discounts of at least 5 percent for a smoke detector, burglar alarm or dead-bolt locks? Some companies offer to cut premiums by up to 20 percent if you install a sprinkler system, or a fire/burglar alarm that rings at a central dispatch or monitoring station. Before you buy a system, however, find out what the insurer recommends, how much it would cost and how much you might save on premiums.

Want to BOOST your curb appeal?

27 07 2017

Projects to Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Given the amount of time homeowners spend inside their homes, it’s no surprise that most remodeling dollars end up indoors. But neglecting your home’s exterior can leave it looking tired and rundown. Here are four projects that will boost your home’s curb appeal and ensure that the outside of your home looks as good as the inside.

1. Liven Up Your Landscaping

If you’re ready to spruce up your landscaping, you’ll want to do so when the temperatures are relatively cool. While you’re planning your project, be sure to take a look at the grade surrounding your home. Over time, it can become compacted and slope toward your house. Poor grading causes water to flow toward your home, putting your foundation at risk.

2. Touch It Up

If left untouched, your siding could start to rot, mold or warp. Thankfully, a little preventative maintenance can help you avoid any costly siding repairs. If you notice chipping or peeling paint, it’s time to break out the sandpaper, primer, paint and paintbrushes. Most of the time, painting is a project that you can accomplish in an afternoon. But, your project could involve more work than you have time for. If that’s the case, now is a good time to start talking to pros. Pro Tip: Pressure washing your home each spring removes dirt and can help prevent mold and mildew infestations.

3. Repair Your Roofing and Gutters

Missing shingles and sagging gutters do more than make your home look shoddy — they can cause seriously pricey problems. If you notice that your gutters are having trouble moving water away from your foundation, or if it’s been a while since you’ve had your roof inspected, it’s a good idea to have a roofing pro stop by for an inspection.

4. Fantastic Fencing

Has your fence seen better days? If so, taking the time to make repairs now could prevent you from having to replace your entire fence later down the road. In many cases, repairs are minor. Unless your fence is really worse for wear, you should be able to tackle the repairs in a weekend.

Top Home Renos for MAXimum ROI

19 06 2017

Top Home Renovations for Maximum ROI [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters Some Highlights:

  • Whether you are selling your home, just purchased your first home, or are a homeowner planning to stay put for a while, there is value in knowing which home improvement projects will net you the most Return On Investment (ROI).
  • While big projects like adding a bathroom or a complete kitchen remodel are popular ways to increase a home’s value, something as simple as updating landscaping and curb appeal can have a quick impact on a home’s value.
  • For more information about top renovation projects that net you the most ROI, you can check out the complete list here.

See What’s Trending in Tile

26 05 2017

Is Subway Tile Out of Style?

Article from HomeAdvisor

Classic, clean white subway tile has been a top kitchen and bath trend for years.

Sometimes, even the classics demand a refresh. And subway tile — long favored for its practicality and clean aesthetic — is no exception. With a renewed emphasis on color, pattern and texture in 2017, we’re seeing some departure from the simpler subway tile looks we’ve come to know and love. This year, designers and homeowners are gravitating toward bigger, bolder tile options —and even putting some new twists on the old subway tile classics.

Here’s a look at what’s trending in tile now. Plus, some exclusive tips and tidbits from tile industry experts!

Walker Zanger’s 6th Avenue line features a wide selection of shapes, moldings and mosaics — from floor-ready hexagons to modern, organic inspired shapes. Pictured: Curved Chevron Mosaic in Ice Blue.

A New Twist on an Old Classic

“Subway tile will always have a niche in the design market,” says Jared Becker, vice president of design and marketing at Walker Zanger, “but now we’re seeing designers utilize texture, color and unique glazes for an elevated subway aesthetic.”

Walker Zanger’s 6th Avenue collection can be installed in bright colors such as Grass, for example, to create a vibrant backsplash that draws attention to the space without seeming overwhelming. And the designs “Wave” and “Otto” from Walker Zanger’s Robert A.M. Stern Collection add new shapes and textures so that homeowners can feature a classic subway tile look with a twist.

“Subway tile is timeless,” agrees DeeDee Gundberg, ANN SACKS’ director of product development. “But we encourage our clients to get creative with color and texture so that they have something a little different; a bit more special, but still safe.”

Large-format hexagon tiles, like these found in Walker Zanger’s new glazed terra cotta collection, Andalucia, are growing in popularity.

Large-Format Wall Tiles

Bigger is better when it comes to wall tile. This year, designers are ditching standard sizes in favor of larger planks and slabs. And, they’re citing diminished easier maintenance, elongated spaces and a more dramatic aesthetic as their reasons for making the switch. “Format is changing,” says Gundberg. “Long and thin is more popular than the standard 3″x 6.”

“One trend highlights large-format hexagons, which provide a visual platform to display modern aesthetic through detailed geometric pattern,” says Becker. What’s more, “by using flat and textured tile in tandem, the layered patterns create a balance between delicate filigree-like details and larger-scale tile to create a timeless, traditional look in a fresh modern shape.”

ANN SACKS’ Gotham field tiles in esther and tropic add a pop of color and pattern to this otherwise all-white kitchen.

Bold Colors and Patterns

Vibrant colors and bold pattern options are one the rise, allowing homeowners greater freedom to express themselves in their tile designs. “We’re seeing designers move away from classic white and more so toward bold colors for their custom design spaces,” says Becker. “White isn’t necessarily out of style, but homeowners are often looking for ways to create an eye-catching accent within their space, and they are doing so through refreshingly unique colorways.”

“The look of the all-white kitchen has definitely had its time,” concurs Sally Bennett, principal of Mirth Studio. “You can still use plain white Subway tile, but I see a lot of people wanting to put pattern on their backsplash to create a personalized focus wall — almost like artwork.”

ANN SACKS’ back-illuminated Itai Bar-On KWA 16” x 16” concrete tile creates a dramatic feature wall.

Texture, Dimension and Concrete:

More and more, designers are using texture and dimension to add visual interest to interior spaces. Done dramatically, this can create a feature wall or focal point, says Gundberg. Or, done in a more refined and subtle manner, it can create a beautifully neutral backdrop.

“Textured and dimensional tiles work wonderfully as showcased art in a home,” adds Becker, “and we’re seeing designers use them on a bold statement wall to give the room impact.” Homeowners can use 3D concrete tile such as Walker Zanger’s Kaza collection, for example, to create various patterns and color combinations that may not cover the entire wall but are instead designed to be on display like a home art gallery.

“Anything concrete is hot right now,” agrees Gundberg. “This includes the encaustic style concrete with its bold, geometric patterning as well as molded concrete.”

Walker Zanger’s Stardust tile in Twilight Cosmos features twinkly silvers, deep-space blacks and heavenly whites in a sleek, modern pattern.

Tactile Metallic Mosaics

Some of the year’s hottest mosaics pay homage to the art deco era, cosmic interfaces and 1970s glam. Think sophisticated tile with gold Gatsby-styled detailing; tributes to glam rock, foil wallpaper and mirrored surfaces; and all-out celestial themes. “We are seeing a definite trend toward using texture and metallic in design,” says Becker. “With Walker Zanger’s Stardust line, we fully embraced a modern aesthetic by using highly textured lava stone with a metallic glaze that accentuates the stone’s tactile depth.”

Metallic mosaics will add visual interest in any room. And, because you can find them in all shapes, colors and sizes, metallic mosaics lend themselves beautifully to the mixed materials trend — an eclectic, mix-and-match approach to interior design. “Stuffy and staid interiors are out, while relaxed and eclectic interiors are in,” says Gundberg. “Mixing styles and genres allows you to bring in elements that you love and want to live with every day.”

Mirth Studio’s 12” x 12” Centro hardwood tile in ebony and cream creates a bold kitchen backsplash.

A Personal Touch

This year’s tile styles offer a number of fresh and interesting options. But designers agree that choosing a tile you love is more important than choosing a tile that is topping the trends list. Here’s their advice to you:

“Explore your options and then pick what you love, you’ll be living with it for a while.”

— DeeDee Gundberg, director of product development, ANN SACKS

“Follow your gut. If you really like something, it’s going to work within the rest of the design. Your style will come out in the finished product. There’s a big trend in eclectic decorating. Don’t be afraid to make a statement; just go for it.”

— Sally Bennett, principal, Mirth Studios

“It can be difficult to decide which tile to use during a remodel, so we suggest visiting a local showroom to see your options in person. Also, there are nonprofits such as our partner Renovation Angel that offer homeowners recycling and reclamation options during luxury residential remodels. By recycling through Renovation Angel, homeowners receive a full tax deduction as well as free, professional insured removal, pack and transport of products.”

— Jared Becker, vice president of design and marketing at Walker Zanger

2017 Summer Camp Guide

29 03 2017

2017 SummerCampGuide

2017 camp

Spring Cycling Guide

14 03 2017

Check out information about cycling events, organizations, supply outfitters and repair shops.  Click here for details.



The Market will Spring Forward

10 03 2017

Housing Market Expected to “Spring Forward” | Keeping Current Matters Just like our clocks this weekend in the majority of the country, the housing market will soon “spring forward!” Similar to tension in a spring, the lack of inventory available for sale in the market right now is what is holding back the market. Many potential sellers believe that waiting until Spring is in their best interest, and traditionally they would have been right. Buyer demand has seasonality to it, which usually falls off in the winter months, especially in areas of the country impacted by arctic temperatures and conditions.

That hasn’t happened this year.

Demand for housing has remained strong as mortgage rates have remained near historic lows. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently reported that the top 10 dates sellers listed their homes in 2016 all fell in April, May or June. Those who act quickly and list now could benefit greatly from additional exposure to buyers prior to a flood of more competition coming to market in the next few months.

Bottom Line

If you are planning on selling your home in 2017, meet with a local real estate professional to evaluate the opportunities in your market.

Cost versus Value…What are the best home projects?

28 02 2017

Cost vs Value Remodeling Projects 2017 <- full list here

The top mid-range projects in the Austin area that recoup the most money:

1. Adding attic insulation

2. Adding Stone Veneer

3. Entry Door Replacement, Deck Addition and Basement Remodel

2016-17 Football Bowl Season

5 12 2016

2016-17 Bowl Season: Every Bowl Game’s Date, Time, Location

It’s bowl season!

Here’s a list of every bowl game this year, in order of when they’re happening.

Saturday, Dec. 17

New Mexico Bowl: New Mexico vs. UTSA, 2 p.m. E..T on ESPN

Las Vegas Bowl: Houston vs. SDSU, 3:30 p.m. E.T on ABC

Camellia Bowl: Toledo vs. Appalachian State, 5:30 p.m. E.T. on ESPN

Cure Bowl: UCF vs. Arkansas State, 7 p.m. E.T. on CBSSN

New Orleans Bowl: Southern Miss vs. UL-Lafayette, 9 p.m. E.T. on ESPN

Monday, Dec. 19

Miami Beach Bowl: Tulsa vs. Central Michigan, 2:30 p.m. E.T. on ESPN

Tuesday, Dec. 20

Boca Raton Bowl: Memphis vs. WKU, 7 p.m. E.T. on ESPN

Wednesday, Dec. 21

Poinsettia Bowl: BYU vs. Wyoming, 9 p.m. E.T. on ESPN

Thursday, Dec. 22

Idaho Potato Bowl: Idaho vs. Colorado State, 7 p.m. E.T. on ESPN

Friday, Dec. 23

Bahamas Bowl: Eastern Michigan vs. Old Dominion, 1 p.m. E.T. on ESPN

Armed Forces Bowl: La. Tech vs. Navy, 4:30 p.m. E.T. on ESPN

Dollar General Bowl: Ohio vs. Troy, 8 p.m. E.T. on ESPN

Saturday, Dec. 24

Hawaii Bowl: Hawaii vs. Middle Tennessee, 8 p.m. E.T. on ESPN

Monday, Dec. 26

St. Petersburg Bowl: Mississippi State vs. Miami (Ohio), 11 a.m. E.T. on ESPN

Quick Lane Bowl: Boston College vs. Maryland, 2:30 p.m. E.T. on ESPN

Independence Bowl: NC State vs. Vanderbilt, 5 p.m. E.T. on ESPN2

Tuesday, Dec. 27

Heart of Dallas Bowl: Army vs. North Texas, noon on ESPN

Military Bowl: Wake Forest vs. Temple, 3:30 p.m. E.T. on ESPN

Holiday Bowl: Minnesota vs. Washington State, 7 p.m. E.T. on ESPN

Cactus Bowl: Baylor vs. Boise State, 10:15 p.m. E.T. on ESPN

Wednesday, Dec. 28

Pinstripe Bowl: Pitt vs. Northwestern, 2 p.m. E.T. on ESPN

Russell Athletic Bowl: Miami vs. WVU, 5:30 p.m. E.T. on ESPN

Foster Farms Bowl: Indiana vs. Utah, 8:30 p.m. E.T. on FOX

Texas Bowl: Texas A&M vs. Kansas State, 9 p.m. E.T. on ESPN

Thursday, Dec. 29

Birmingham Bowl: South Carolina vs. USF, 2 p.m. E.T. on ESPN

Belk Bowl: Arkansas vs. VT, 5:30 p.m. E.T. on ESPN

Alamo Bowl: Colorado vs. Oklahoma State, 9 p.m. E.T. on ESPN

Friday, Dec. 30

Liberty Bowl: TCU vs. Georgia, noon on ESPN

Sun Bowl: UNC vs. Stanford, 2 p.m. E.T. on CBS

Music City Bowl: Nebraska vs. Tennessee, 3:30 p.m. E.T. on ESPN

Arizona Bowl: Air Force vs. South Alabama, 5:30 p.m. E.T. on CampusInsiders

Orange Bowl: FSU vs. Michigan, 8 p.m. E.T. on ESPN

Saturday, Dec. 31

Citrus Bowl: LSU vs. Louisville, 11 a.m. E.T. on ABC

TaxSlayer Bowl: Kentucky vs. Georgia Tech, 11 a.m. E.T. on ESPN

Peach Bowl (CFB PLAYOFF): Alabama vs. Washington, 3:30 p.m. E.T. on ESPN

Fiesta Bowl (CFB PLAYOFF): Clemson vs. Ohio State, 7 p.m. E.T. on ESPN

Monday, Jan. 2

Cotton Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Western Michigan, 1 p.m. E.T. on ESPN

Outback Bowl: Florida vs. Iowa, 1 p.m. E.T. on ABC

Rose Bowl: Penn State vs. USC, 5 p.m. E.T. on ESPN

Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Auburn, 8 p.m. E.T. on ESPN

Monday, Jan. 9

College Football Playoff National Championship Game: Alabama/Washington vs. Clemson/Ohio State,

Holiday Home Hacks -> Easy Holidays

3 12 2016
Tis the season for decorating, entertaining and — if you’re like the rest of us – stressing out. To offset some of that holiday strain, here are 12 home hacks that will lighten your load (and save you some money). Put them to good use and you’ll be singing through the season like a partridge in a Pinterest-perfect pear tree!
1. Buckle lights with binder clips.

Plastic light hangers tend to bend and break easily. Ditch the over-promisers and use office binder clips to easily – and evenly — attach holiday strands to your roof instead.
2. Dry boots with a DIY drip tray

Wet shoes can warp floors, track grime through the house, and cause slips and falls – especially when you’ve got a lot of guests. The solution? Fill a simple tray with river rocks (find them at garden centers or the dollar store). The moisture will drip right through.
3. Save money with creative storage.

Opening last year’s organizers to find broken ornaments and tangled lights is a real bummer. Take a cue from the experts and skip the expensive organiz
ers. Instead, store ornaments in egg cartons and wrap Christmas lights around clothes hangers. This way, you’ll start every season on a good note. And you’ll save money too!
4. Prolong the life of your tree with Aspirin.

Getting a real tree? Some say that adding some crushed Aspirin to its water can prolong its life and keep its needles intact. With or without Aspirin, be sure to give your tree at least one quart of water a day to keep it green. And if you have small kids or pets, be sure to place tree-preserving mixtures out of their reach.
5. Use a stool to create the ultimate wrapping station.

Use an old stool to create the ultimate giftwrapping station, complete with pockets (or hooks) for scissors, tape and trimmings. Then, add wheels or glue it to a skateboard to make it mobile. Voila! Wrapping presents just got a whole lot easier.
6. Give glitter the heave-ho with a lint roller.

Glittery bows, crafts and holiday decorations have at long last met their match. A lint roller will remove glitter from everything from your floor to your clothes to your cat. Why didn’t we think of this sooner?
7. Gain tire traction with kitty litter.

Live in a cold and snowy climate? Keep kitty litter handy in your garage and in your car. If your car gets stuck in the ice or snow, spread some litter under your tires for instant tire traction.
8. Use green garland to fill out the tree.

Is the old Christmas tree looking a little sparse? Wrap green garland or tinsel through any empty spaces for an easy and inexpensive fix.
9. Pick up broken glass with white bread.

The inevitable broken glass presents an opportunity to wow your guests with some Christmas magic: Dampen a simple piece of white bread and use it to sponge up the shards. It will pick up even the tiniest pieces!
10. Zap sap with toothpaste.

Picking a real Christmas tree is fun, but getting the sap off your hands afterwards is a different story. Fortunately, there’s a quick and easy solution: Scrub your hands with abrasive toothpaste!
11. Use tinfoil to keep your fireplace clean.

Ever place tinfoil on the bottom of your oven to make after-dinner clean up a breeze? You can do the same with your wood-burning fireplace. Just place a double layer across the bottom before you light a fire. Then, after everything’s cooled the next day, simply fold the ashes into the foil and discard it.
Nothing brings the holidays to life like the smells of apple-cinnamon, orange spice and vanilla — and there’s no easier way to fill your home with the scents of the season than a simmer pot on the stove. Just fill a saucepan; bring it to a boil; and add sliced apples, orange rinds, cinnamon sticks, and anything else you’d like to include. Then, reduce the heat and turn it down to simmer, adding more water as needed.