OK, you’re not perfect. Join the club. But your home and property deserve your best behavior. Here are the 7 deadly sins of home ownership you should avoid — and how to put the shine back on your halo if you’ve strayed.
1. Envy: You covet your neighbor’s grass
Don’t just admire your neighbor’s thick, lush lawn: Turn the tables. Proper lawn care will make your grass greener than a St. Patrick’s Day beer.
- Aerate your lawn in spring and fall to power up grass with oxygen, water, and nutrients. In addition, lawn aeration controls thatch buildup, reduces water runoff, and creates holes in your turf that lets grass roots spread and grow.
- Eliminate brown grass by making sure your sprinklers are properly adjusted and that common weeds are under control. Also, check for lawn grubs that feed on grass roots. Persistent drought might make your lawn go dormant; when temps drop and rains return, your lawn will green up again.
- Clean your mower to limit lawn diseases that kill grasses. Also, sharpen your mower blade to prevent shredding the ends of grass blades.
2. Gluttony: You’re letting your kitchen make you fat
If you’re having a devil of a time losing weight, it just might be your kitchen that’s making you fat. Don’t succumb to temptation. Get rid of these kitchen design faux pas and you’ll resist those subliminal messages that say, “Eat!”
- Lose the tube. A TV and a stool makes for a pound-packing snacking station.
- Hide the food. Open shelves are stylish, but all those goodies at eye level are bound to weaken your will power. Opt for closed cabinets instead.
- Lighten up. Low, indirect lighting is great for setting the mood, but studies show that bright lighting suppresses the appetite. Turn on the high beams with energy-saving, weight-lowering LED lights.
3. Lust: You want it bad
So you really, really want that six-burner, industrial-style stove? That exotic Brazilian hardwood floor? Don’t let your wandering eye trump your common sense. Fabulous low-cost alternatives let you indulge your passions while keeping a lid on expenses.
- Laminate countertops have come a long way in the realism department, and do a great job mimicking natural stone and concrete countertops at less than half the cost. The latest edge treatments for laminate hide telltale edges, too.
- Vinyl bathroom flooring is tough, waterproof, and easy on the budget. Today’s versions have the look and feel of expensive tile, wood, and stone. Bonus: Vinyl isn’t as labor-intensive to install as high-priced materials — saving you even more.
- Salvaged building materials offer unique styling, excellent quality, and low cost compared with new products. You’ll find flooring, sinks, windows, doors, fireplace mantels, and more.
4. Wrath: Those #!@? noisy neighbors!
Neighbors! You love ‘em; you loathe ‘em. Either way, you’re not getting rid of them and their barking dog or weekend parties any time soon. Keep your cool and (hopefully) restore a little community peace and quiet with strategies for dealing with a noisy neighbor.
- Talk to your neighbor and explain your point of view. If that doesn’t work, document your POV in a polite letter to them, and cc: your attorney.
- Take your complaint to your HOA or whoever has jurisdiction over noise ordinances in your town. Make sure they’re aware that the noise violates local ordinances. Your HOA or a noise control officer should act on your behalf (and the behalf of all your neighbors) by issuing a warning or citation.
- Get defensive by soundproofing your walls. Unfortunately, it won’t do too much good when windows are open.
5. Greed: Now that you’ve got energy savings, do you want more?
You’ve installed an Energy Star appliance, and now you want more! more! more! energy savings. In this case, to borrow from Gordon Gekko, “greed is good” because you really need to do several things to see a difference in your home energy bill.
But how you go about saving energy is important — spending money on expensive upgrades isn’t necessarily the best decision. The best things you can do are really the easiest — and least expensive. Here are 3 good ones:
- Prevent air leaks by caulking and sealing all cracks, exterior molding, and wall penetrations such as holes for plumbing pipes and electrical wiring. An 11-ounce tube of exterior caulk is $4; a can of expansion foam sealer is $7.
- Research shows many people neglect to program their programmable thermostats. Repent! Get out the little instruction booklet and learn to set your thermostat so it’s not heating or cooling in off hours, such as when you’re asleep or away.
- Give your HVAC a tune-up. This is a DIY project that’ll cost you $10-$25 for a new furnace filter every 90 days, plus a few bucks for a new battery in the carbon monoxide detector once a year. Make sure no more than 20% of your registers are closed at any time to avoid straining your HVAC system.
6. Sloth: You disorganized, cluttered, messy, and disarranged person, you
It’s a proven fact that clutter makes you crazy. So how about you restore some sanity by getting organized?
- Need a space-saving hack for your small home? Suspend wrapping paper and other stuff from your closet ceiling — convenient and out-of-sight. Or install a high shelf at the end of a narrow hallway for stashing books and little-used items.
- Yes, you’ve got space for storage solutions — classic Murphy beds and other tricks can help you unlock your home’s storage potential. Try adding shelving between wall studs to eke out storage.
- It’s not just clutter that gets out of control; neglected maintenance could cause messy — and expensive — repairs. Keeping the soil around your foundation properly sloped (at least 6 inches per 10 feet) helps keep water away from your foundation, preventing cracks. A badly cracked foundation might mean a $15,000 to $40,000 repair.
7. Pride: Hey! Look at you!
You get a pass on this one — pride of ownership is a beautiful thing.
It’s a place where you can express yourself in your remodeling projects, let your DIY flag fly, and keep a garden. Plus, home ownership contributes to civic involvement, higher educational attainment, and the economy. In fact, housing represents 15% of the country’s GDP.
Support home ownership and the American dream.