Photo by James Balensiefen via Unsplash

An outdoor entrance that provides an attractive, welcoming appearance not only has the ability to enhance the curb appeal of your property, it also makes household residents and visitors with a warm visual reception to your home. You probably already know that hanging baskets and planters brimming with blooming flowers provide vibrant accents from spring through autumn, but entryways need more than flowers, particularly during late autumn, winter, and early spring. Here’s what you can do to keep your outdoor entry area looking pulled together and appealing no matter what the season.

Plant Evergreens

Whether you place a dwarf spruce or Norfolk pine in a planter or plant arborvitae or another upright conifer tree in the ground near your steps, some kind of greenery is usually necessary to make an outdoor entryway look fully dressed. It also helps keep a bit of color going during the cold season. As an added bonus, you can decorate your evergreens with holiday lights and other embellishments during the celebratory season.

Create a Small Seating Area

Even if all you’ve got is a set of steps leading to a tiny landing, try to find room for a chair or a bench. This is functional as well as welcoming because it provides a place for people to sit and remove outer footwear before entering the home or to simply sit and relax for a minute or two before going inside after a long day at work. If you’ve got the room, a small bistro set made from weather-resistant materials adds a nice touch and provides a fun way to enjoy a casual family meal or round of beverages.

Install an Exposed Aggregate Walkway

Exposed aggregate walkways do double duty by serving as a highly attractive introduction to your home and providing a slip-proof surface that helps keep household residents and guests safe from potentially harmful slip-and-fall accidents. You can get as creative as you like with these and use aggregates in a variety of colors or simply stick with an understated, monochromatic look. For instance, you can use agate aggregate for a multicolored effect and oyster shell aggregate for a lustrous look. Add ground-level solar lights along the sides to show it off after dark.

Other ideas for creating a fabulous outdoor entryway include hanging a decorative door with features such as carved floral accents or stained glass, putting down rustic outdoor rugs  in front of the door, and placing accent items such as basketry or statuary on each side of the door. Have fun with it and don’t be afraid to put some personality into it.

Please feel free to reach out to us for more advice on making the most of your home’s appearance.

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Photo by RTImages via Shutterstock

Buying raw land with the intent to build can be exciting, but there are many things to consider before you make the purchase final. Building requirements: From soil type, building setback requirements, electrical accessibility, well drilling, sewer placement and everything in between, learn what needs to be done and planned before beginning the project ahead.

Soil Type

The type of soil can have a huge impact on the cost of excavation. Sandy or rich soil will make for easy excavation; however, if your ground is Rocky, or bedrock is present, it will be more challenging and likely require heavier equipment to complete the task at hand. Setback: City, county and state setback means the structure you are building will need to be set back a certain distance from the property line. It’s always best to check with the county and learn the requirements before you begin your excavation.

Electrical and Other Utilities

Check with your local power company to understand the means and requirements for connecting your electricity.

The power company will send an employee to look over your project and inform you of your best options for hooking up power. Will a new pole need to be set? (If so, will this pole obstruct a view you were looking forward to having?) Will electricity be brought to your land underground? Be sure to check with your power company at the beginning of your project to secure a spot on their calendar to keep your project moving in a timely fashion.

Well Drilling 

You will need to get ahold of a drilling company to discuss the location for drilling your well. Your well will need to be a certain distance from your sewer system and land setbacks. The well company will give you an estimate of how deep your well may be due to neighboring wells; however, they won’t be able to guarantee a certain depth. Well cost is based on how deep they need to drill to get the needed gallons-per-minute that will be suitable for your particular needs.

Sewer Perk Test

The ground type will determine what sewer system will be needed for your project. The sanitation department will dig a hole on your property and, after examining the soil (perk test), they will decide what system is suitable for your project. If your structure is residential in nature your system size will usually be determined by how many bedrooms you will have as well as the soil type.

Other Tips

If you visit your county office and inquire about your upcoming building project, they can give you guidance as to what you’ll need to be aware of and who to get in contact with as you begin your project. You’ll need a file or folder to keep all building-related paperwork together. Staying organized will be key as you proceed. Typically, the beginning of a project will be full of many delays, so take a deep breath, and do your best to enjoy the satisfaction of each task as you see it come to completion.

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Shrewsbury, MA:

This Single-Family in Shrewsbury, MA recently sold for $625,000.
This is a Colonial style home and features 9 total rooms, 3 full baths, 1 half bath, 4 bedrooms, 0.65 acres, and was sold by
Chuck Joseph – RE/MAX Executive Realty

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One aspect of house hunting that some prospective home buyers overlook is security. Perhaps it’s because they’re looking at homes in “nice neighborhoods, where you shouldn’t have to worry about that sort of thing happening.” Maybe another reason they’re paying little or no attention to security issues is that they’re more preoccupied with the layout of the kitchen, the size of the backyard, and the condition of the master bathroom.

Even though there are dozens of details to compare and think about when you’re house hunting, security features are important enough to include in your checklist. By letting your real estate agent know that home security is a high priority for you, they’ll hopefully point out security features that they notice and perhaps ask the listing agent for any additional information on things like installed alarms systems, deadbolt locks, or security lighting on the property.

As a side note, if the present owner has recently installed an extensive security system in the house, you can also use that as an opportunity (excuse) to inquire about crime in the neighborhood and whether there have been any recent incidents in the area. Additional research may need to be done to ferret out that information.

As you check out different houses that your buyers’ agent shows you, here are a few security-related checkpoints to keep in mind:

  • Do the doors look solid and are they secured by deadbolt locks?
  • Do first-floor windows have functional and securely locking mechanisms?
  • Are there any outside floodlights, lamp posts, and/or other forms of illumination around the house?
  • Are there any overgrown bushes next to the house that could conceal a burglar’s attempt to enter the house through a window?
  • Are there any fences on the premises that might discourage a burglar from entering the property?
  • Do the main entrances have locking storm doors that provide an extra layer of security?
  • Are there any other security vulnerabilities that you or your real estate agent think need addressing, either now or in the immediate future?

While that list may not include every possible security feature and potential weakness to look for when touring homes for sale, it will hopefully heighten your awareness about the need to prioritize home security — even before you actually close on a house and move in.

When you do find the ultimate house for you and your family, it’s always a good idea to change the locks on all external doors as soon as possible. You never know how many duplicate keys have been circulated over the years to contractors, neighbors, cleaning people, pet sitters, house sitters, and family members. One way to take control of your new home’s security situation is to make sure there are no extra house keys floating around in the hands of people you don’t know.

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