Shipping Containers for Homes

Sep 18, 2017 by

Shipping Containers for Homes

You may have seen in magazines or websites people using shipping containers for homes. While it may seem rather gimmicky at first, there are definite advantages to using shipping containers if they are still solid and in good shape. A proper shipping container is large enough for most of your needs and easy enough to make the changes necessary to create your new home.

Purchasing a Shipping Container

You’ll want to use a reputable dealer who offers new and used shipping containers that are perfect for creating your new home. You may want to seek out a dealer that can do some modifications before they send you the container. Keep in mind that some dealers specialize in containers that are prepared for turning into a home, so they might be more expensive initially, but having the modifications completed may also save you money in the long run.


Shipping containers are mostly standardized for good reasons, but there are some variations that you may want to consider. For example, the “high cube” type is about a foot taller than standard versions and will make it seem less claustrophobic inside. The length will vary from 10 to over 50 feet, but most versions are 30 feet long, give or take 10 feet. Keep in mind that shipping the container to you will also be expensive if you choose a very large one. Plus, you may wind up choosing more than one container which adds to the expense.

Inspect Used Containers

If the shipping container is used, it’s going to have some dents, dings, and perhaps separations in the walls as well. The worse shape it is in, the more work you are going to have to do in getting it ready. So, be sure you inspect the container before purchase to see if it can work for your needs. A little rust is expected, but rust that creates holes should eliminate the container from consideration.

Keep in mind the wood flooring is loaded with pesticides, so you’ll need to seal it and the odor may not be to your liking as well. All in all, the container will need to pass inspection before you make the purchase. Do not expect perfection, but don’t eliminate a container from consideration if it has a few dings or small patches of rust.

Have a Plan in Place

You should have the final design ready long before you make the purchase. If you don’t know what you are going to do with the shipping container down to the final window, furniture placement, or location, then you should not be shopping for one. Remember that plans can change once you get the container, but you need a plan first so you can get what you want from the container.

The use of shipping containers for home is a phenomenon that shows no signs of slowing down. For those who are looking for a less-expensive alternative to building a traditional home, using a good shipping container offers many advantages.

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How to Build a Fire Pit

Sep 11, 2017 by

How to Build a Fire Pit

If you like cooking over a campfire, then adding a fire pit to your backyard will make it easy to cook hot dogs or make s’mores whenever you like. The good news is the learning how to build a fire pit does not take long and you can use it repeatedly for years to come. Here are the steps needed to create a permanent fire pit in your backyard that is safe and simple to use.

Get the Right Tools

You probably have picked out a spot which should be a good distance away from your home, shed, fence, and anything else that might be compromised. Check with local guidelines and ordinances to confirm the minimum distance from structures. The next step is getting the proper tools so you can create your fire pit.

  • Bricks and Gravel
  • Twine, Tape Measure, and Stake
  • Shovel, Tamp, Trowel, and a Level

The bricks should be strong like concrete pavers, wall bricks, or better yet fire bricks that are designed for fire pits. Your goal is to create two different layers to minimize heat penetration.

Make a Circle

Take your stake and plant it in the center. Tie a piece of twine to the stake that represents the size of the pit. Tie the other end to the trowel and dig the outer rim of the pit. Total circumference should be four to five feet.

Dig Out the Grass, Tamp Down the Dirt, and Make It Level

Now, dig out all the grass on the inside with the shovel to a depth of at least six inches, but 12 inches is recommended. Be sure there are no gas or utility lines below. Once the pit is dug, use the tamp to flatten the dirt. This will create a solid base for your fire pit. When tamping, use the level to ensure that it is even.

Add Gravel and Place the Bricks

Now that it’s ready, put in the gravel until it fills up the bottom two inches of the pit. Make sure that the gravel is relatively level as well, but you don’t have to be too precise. Once the gravel is done, place the bricks in circle just on the inside of the fire pit. The bricks should form a circle with a few inches of gravel on the outside to spare.

You’ll need three layers of bricks and perhaps an inner layer as well. Mortar is an option, but if the bricks are heavy and solid you will not need it. Still, adding fire-resistant mortar between the bricks provides for greater stability and peace of mind that flickers of flame or hot ask will not escape and set fire to the surrounding grass.

Learning how to build a fire pit will turn your backyard into a camping area that you can enjoy with family and friends. A proper fire pit is safe and prevents accidents compared to cooking over a standard campfire. If you love to cook outdoors or just sit by a warm fire, building a fire pit is the answer.

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Lowering Your Electric Bill

Sep 4, 2017 by

Lowering Your Electric Bill

It seems that everyone is interested in reducing electricity and lowering their energy bill. The good news is that there are some simple, inexpensive ways to save money by lowering your electric bill by consuming less electricity. Here are a few ways you can cut down on the energy you are using and have lower electricity bills to pay.

Air Conditioning

One of the biggest users of electricity is your air conditioner. The less you use it over the summer months, the more you will save. An easy way to save money is by installing blinds or heavy drapes on windows that face the sun, such as the south side of the home. By blocking out the heat of the sun, the house will take longer to warm up.

A quick way to save is adjusting your thermostat by a couple of degrees upward for the summer and downward in the winter. Just a degree or two will not be noticed by you or your family, but it can save you money on every bill.

Another way to save is by adding a ceiling fan. While this will cost money initially, it will save you money by circulating the cooler air downward so that your air conditioner runs less. By reversing the direction of the blades, you can also save money in the winter as warm hair is distributed better throughout the home.


You can start saving by replacing all your incandescent bulbs with LEDs which use but a fraction of the electricity. Another way to save is one of the oldest, shutting the lights off whenever you leave a room. Get you and your family into the habit of shutting off all lights and checking before you go to bed.

Another way to save is by installing timers in rooms which are used intermittently throughout the day, such as the bathroom. By putting in a timer, the light will go off even if you forget so you continue to save money.

Heating Water

The less hot water you use, the less your energy bill will be. Consider washing your clothes in cold water which will save you every time you do your laundry. Another area where you can save money is by only using your dishwasher once per day or only when it is full. The less you use your dishwasher, the less hot water will be used.

By lowering your hot water heater to 120F, you can save a considerable amount on your electricity bill. This is because heating water takes considerable energy, so even just shaving off a few degrees can save you money each month. Plus, you reduce the risk of accidents with scalding water.

Simple methods in reducing electricity means paying less each month which over time can make a real difference. When you consider that most of these methods cost little to no money, it makes good budget sense. Lowering your electric bill is one smart way to put more cash in your pocket and take more control of your expenditures.


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Hidden cost of Home Ownership

Aug 28, 2017 by

Hidden cost of Home Ownership

Being a home owner for the first time means facing costs that you may not have expected such as maintenance, insurance, and other expenses. Over time, the costs can really add up if you are not careful which means it becomes more difficult to pay off your home mortgage. You will need to account for the costs that you will need to pay for your home to be properly maintained and covered so you can maximize the value of your investment.

Creating a Budget

Perhaps it’s not surprising, but up to one-third of all home buyers woefully underestimate the budget needed to cover the cost of home ownership. This means that about 33% of home owners will find themselves struggling to pay the bills because they underestimated the expenses that came with owning a home.

Before you purchase a property, you will need to create a budget based on your current income and additional expenses that includes your vehicle, kids, food, and other payments that you need to make in addition to the following basic costs of owning a home.

Basic Costs

However, it pays to know just what hidden costs you will be facing as part of your home ownership. The good news is that there are several websites that can help you assess the costs before buying a home. sites such as Thumbtack and Zillow will list out all the expenses you can expect to face as a home owner and even narrow it down to your part of the country.

For example, Indianapolis residents pay roughly $4,700 per year in terms of annual expenses, give or take utility costs while San Francisco residents pay upwards of $13,000 per year. This is based on the price or value of the home and the cost of insurance, taxes, and certain other expenses.

A big part of home ownership is the unavoidable costs that you will need to consider before making your purchase. The average home owner pays just over $6,000 annually on property taxes and homeowner’s insurance. This can be a considerable chuck of money from your paycheck, so you will need to consider the costs before buying a home.

The average home owner will pay around $9,000 per year on utility costs. Of course, utility costs may seem obvious, but depending on where you live it may be higher than expected. Sites such as UtilityScore offers estimates based on your location which considers the rates that average home owners are paying. This can be quite helpful if you are looking at monthly costs when paying for your residence.

Keeping Up the Property

One of the most overlooked expenses of home ownership is basic maintenance costs along with paying for upgrades. Some of the expenses that you may charge professionals to do include, but are not limited to the following;

  • Cleaning Gutters, Yard Work, and Landscaping
  • House Cleaning, HVAC Maintenance, and Pressure Washing
  • Carpet Cleaning and More

Depending on where you live, the cost of paying others to do these jobs range from $2,000 to $4,000 per year. Add up these expenses and you’ll have a rough idea of the cost of home ownership.

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Where to List Vacation Rentals

Aug 21, 2017 by

Where to List Vacation Rentals

You have fixed up the property and made it the perfect vacation rental for those looking to stay in your community. Now all need to do is market your property in the right places so you can draw in the visitors. Of course, before you start looking where to list vacation rentals, you should check the local, state, and federal regulations to see what is allowable and what is not when adverting your property. If your property falls in line with the regulations and you have the proper insurance, the next step is getting it out on the market.

Build Your Own Site

You might start by considering building your own website. It will need to provide all the necessary information, provide valuable info on the nearby events or locations that draw in potential renters, and offer everything needed so that someone can book the dates they want and pay for them online. The better the website, the better your chances at filling your vacation home with eager renters. The only downside is that you will have to do the marketing which may be quite time consuming.

Instead of building your own site, you might want to consider the following sites to place your vacation property.

Rent Like a Champion

This is a site dedicated to areas of the country that have popular events that take place during the year, such as college football games, races, or similar competitions. This is the perfect site to attract those who are traveling to the big game as there are no annual fees, it’s perfect for niche vacation rentals where no other popular attractions are around, and everything is done on the site itself. However, there is a high service fee for each use, so keep that in mind.

Popular Vacation Rental Sites

This includes online locations such as HomeAway,, and VRBO which are designed specifically to reach out to those seeking vacation properties in your area. The biggest drawback is the high annual fee, but if you live in a popular area it certainly is worth getting your vacation property listed on these sites. They all have fast booking systems in place, calendars to check availability, and most importantly a wide net to reach out to potential renters. Of course, expect a lot of competition when using these sites.


This is one of the most popular places to list vacation properties for many good reasons. First, there are no annual fees and if you live in a popular area, you may find that the home stays rented during the entire season. It’s cheap to list your home and it reaches a very large audience. However, keep in mind that there is no booking calendar that is available, so you will have to keep track yourself and sometimes the fees charged to the tenants may turn some away.

Understanding where to list vacation rentals will help you find the right one for your needs, providing an excellent experience for the renter, and maximizing your profit potential while fulfilling the needs of those who rent your property.

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Home Improvement Projects with the Highest ROI

Aug 14, 2017 by

Home Improvement Projects with the Highest ROI

It’s common for homeowners to improve their property in some fashion to boost its chances of selling at a higher price. However, not all home improvement projects are alike and many of the most expensive ones prove to be little to no value in terms of their Return of Investment (ROI). So, here are a few home improvement projects with the highest ROI so you can choose the ones that really work.


Remember, the first thing that people notice about your property is the front yard. So, the better it looks, the more curb appeal it offers. Properly cut grass and trimmed trees and hedges add real value to the sale because of their attractiveness. However, you can do a little more to set your home apart by adding a little landscaping. Consider adding low maintenance plants and a simple rock garden which both beautifies your property and tells potential buyers that they need only do a little work to keep it up.

Remember to keep things simple and straightforward when landscaping your property so that you get the most ROI.

Bathroom Remodeling

If there is any one place that potential buyers check out in the home, apart from the kitchen, it is the bathroom. There are two basic reasons, the first being the overall condition of the bathroom which is subject to moisture levels that cause mold and mildew to form. The second is their fixtures, which if out of date will not go over well with buyers.

So, you’ll want to address both issues if your bathrooms need remodeling. The good news is that many of these projects are relatively inexpensive and will boost your ROI.

  • Resurface or Repaint Tubs, Showers, Sinks, and Countertops
  • Resurface or Replace Tile on Your Own
  • Purchase Your Own Fixtures

Resurfacing can save you up to 50% compared to replacing tile, tubs, showers, sinks, and countertops while providing the same effect. By purchasing new fixtures and replacing them yourself, you can save even more money. However, for electrical fixtures you’ll want to use an electrician or electrical contractor.


Your kitchen cabinets are, next the bathroom, arguably the one thing that most potential buyers will hone in on when viewing the inside of your home. Naturally, the entire kitchen should be clean and looking like new, but you can do more by renovating your kitchen cabinets which will have the most impact.

If they are old, out of date, and in need of repair, then consider having them replaced even though this is the more expensive option. Replacing them with new cabinets means that your kitchen gets an entirely new look. However, for cabinets that are still in good shape, consider repainting or refinishing them instead. Another option is to add laminate or wood veneer over the drawers and cabinets to provide them with an entirely new appearance for a fraction of the cost compared to replacement.

Using these home improvement projects with the highest ROI means that you can boost the value of your home while not having to spend a fortune.


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