Per Merriam Webster….Definition of Labor Day:  A day set aside for special recognition of working people celebrated in the US and Canada as a legal holiSee the source imageday the first Monday in September. At this challenging time, many working class people have been suffering reduced work schedule or been out of work all together while others have been called upon to work more deemed essential for maintaining daily living. Here at we wish to celebrate all our “Laborers”…Farmers, Police, Firefighters, Hospitality Workers, Retail and Grocery Workers, Doctors, Nurses, Hospital Workers, Dentists and their Workers, Teachers, Restaurant Owners and Workers, Janitors and Maintenance Workers, Nursing Home Workers ….Workers, Workers, Workers!!!! You have earned our respect and our wish that you take the time to enjoy a very relaxing Labor Day Holiday!!






Solar Panels…Worth the Money?!

You’ve heard the pitch, “Save thousands of dollars by going solar!”. But is that true for you and how can you get through the hype and determine the truth.

Below are a couple of things to consider when considering going solar:

What are you currently paying for your electricity?Image result for free image of home with solar panels

This is probably going to be the most important factor that you will be considering since your goal from installing solar is to lower the cost of powering your home. If you look at your current electric bill, you’ll see that your bill is based on the number of kilowatt-hour (kWh) you use. Costs per kWh can vary greatly based on where you live. Make sure when determining your savings you are using your actual cost per kWh and not calculating your savings based on a generalized article or ‘worksheet’ you’ve found online. Obviously those homeowners with the highest electricity rates will most likely save the most by switching to solar power.

What will a switch to a Solar Panel System Cost to Install?

When considering the solar company you will use for this major investment, going with the lowest bid just because it’s the least out of pocket, may cost you far more in the long run. You must consider both your short term and long term gains when choosing equipment and the company that will design and install your system. Take your time. Meet with multiple companies and don’t be afraid to ask very specific questions about them, their installation team, their warranties, etc.  With all the research and details available online, prepare for your meetings with the companies by creating a list of specific questions you need answers to in order to choose. Take notes. Get all your questions answered. If they are trying to rush through your appointment, rush them out your door!

Don’t be afraid to ask about any incentives or discounts they may currently be offering BUT don’t get pushed into making an immediate decision “or else lose today’s special price”. That’s probably the first company you should cross off your list.  note: Odds are pretty high that if you called them the next week and told them you would like to hire them but at the discounted price, they will say yes.

Speaking of incentives….check in your city, county and state to see if there are any energy incentives and rebates available. These can sometimes reduce your net cost by 50% or more. The federal government offers a 30% solar tax credit (search online for details and ask your tax professional for how you personally could benefit). Hard to believe but true…some utility companies even offer rebates to their customers to encourage their switch to solar power. Check your utility company’s website for details.

Only you can determine if the switch to solar offers you enough benefit to outweigh the initial costs. As in any big decision, due diligence is the key!



There are so many ways to make your home greener these days. You can install eco-friendly flooring, counters and appliances. You can repurpose old furniture instead of throwing it out to take up more space in a landfill. You can plant a garden that boasts water conservation.

Now even your roof can be green, both literally and figuratively. Green roofs, also known as “vegetated roof covers” and “living roofs,” are literally roofs made of thin layers of plants installed on top of conventional roofs and not just for those high rise flat rooftops.Image result for image of a "green"  roof

There are two types of green roofs, an extensive green roof and an intensive green roof.

Extensive green roofs are the thinner with only two to six inches of a growing medium, less expensive and lighter. They are low maintenance and are generally covered with low growing, horizontally spreading root plants with maximum heights of 16 to 24 inches.

Intensive green roofs look more like a lush natural roof garden with two to four feet of soil. They use a variety of plants and the maintenance is more involved. They are the more colorful and visually stimulating of the two types of green roofing. They can even incorporate features such as fountains.

Each roof contains a waterproofing layer, a drainage layer, a growing medium (like soil, peat and soil) and vegetation of some sort. The plants chosen for the green roof should be tolerant of extreme weather conditions and resistant to bugs and diseases. Succulents, mosses and grasses are typically the best choices and come in a variety of colors.

As with all home improvement projects, there are considerations you’ll need to make before you install a green roof. You need to consider the climate you live in and well as the rainfall patterns of your area. You need to find out the strength and support of your current roof to make sure it can hold up the addition of a green roof. If it’s not structurally sound enough, you’ll have to reinforce it. The size and slope of your roof needs to be considered. Flat roofs are probably best, but green roofs can be installed on sloping roofs too.

What are your personal aesthetic preferences? These will play a part in the design of your green roof, and so will the architectural style of your home. Budget is another consideration to be made, and it’s an important one. Like all projects, research first, then decide on a budget before you get started with any physical work.

This is not a DIY project or one that just any roofer can complete. DO YOUR RESEARCH to find companies that have a history of success installing green roofs. Something as important is this out of the ordinary product requires a contractor who knows all the ins and outs of such a project.

Not only do green roofs add visual interest to your home, but they can help reduce those pesky heating and cooling bills that show up like clockwork every month. In the summer, the green roof stays cooler than a traditional roof so less energy is used on air-conditioning. Similarly, in the winter the insulation of the green roof can help cut down those heating costs! Green roofs can also help improve water quality, extend the life of your traditional roof, help get more oxygen into the air!

Green roofs are stylish and unique while simultaneously helping the environment. What could be better?


INSPECTIONS – Private v Municipal

A municipal/city inspection may be required by the city or municipality of the home you’re selling/buying, where as a private home inspection is optional and it is up to the buyer and/or often their upcoming mortgage company whether they want or need to have one done.

The seller typically pays for a city or municipal inspection. A private home inspection is usually the buyer’s expense.

Both inspections may cover items like CO-2 detectors and smoke alarms but may differ greatly in other ways. The municipal inspector may check on permits history, zoning and possible parking issues, but typically do not include an inspection of the roof, electrical panels, plumbing systems, furnaces, water heaters, structural issues, termites etc. A private home inspection will typically cover all those items and more.

Both types of inspections benefit the buyer. It’s wise for a buyer to have a regular home inspection regardless of whether the city or municipality requires one of their own. Overall, the private home inspection will generally cover more items, be more through and is generally considered the most important.

Note: If you’re selling your home As Is, you are declaring you have no intention of making any repairs or further updates to your home. That does not mean however, that if you’re a buyer you shouldn’t be diligent and have an inspection done before you find yourself with a nightmare home of repairs vs your dream home of happy ever after!

NOTE: The state of WI has recently made it illegal for cities/municipalities to require a city inspection prior to selling your home.


Oh the Drama & Warmth a Ceiling Can Bring!!

Something that is a part of every home from the tiniest to those found in mega-mansions are ceilings. If you want to change, enhance or upgrade your home, one way to do it is by adding dimension, depth, lighting and/or wood to your ceilings.Image result for free images of residential ceilings

You can take an ordinary room and turn it into a showpiece that people will be inspired by and talk about when they leave.  Depending on the style of your home, you might choose wood to add a rustic ambiance.

Image result for free images of residential ceilings

Image result for free images of residential ceilings

Want something more elegant? Try coffered ceilings. Enhance them and your room even more by adding recessed lighting within the wood panels.Image result for free images of residential ceilings

Image result for free images of residential ceilings

Custom lighting can add drama and an eclectic look to any room.

Image result for free images of residential ceilings

Kitchen ceilings made out of tin or with defined insets with lighting can create that dream gathering place where your guests will feel like they’ve stepped into a French villa or the pages of Architectural Digest.

Image result for free images of residential ceilingsSee the source image


Time to Build Your Dream Home?!

Have you been wondering if you should build your dream home? Based on new stats, the answer to that question may be a huge YES! Of course, you can’t make the total decision based on market but if you have your credit in order and the funds to make it happen, you might want to explore all your options. Mortgage rates are at an all time low so that may also help you in your decision making process. Remember, waiting and waiting for the exact right time may cause you to miss out on the exact right time!    

  • U.S. homebuilding surged to a 13-year high in December as activity increased across the board.
  • The data suggested the housing market recovery was back on track amid low mortgage rates, and could help support the longest economic expansion on record.
  • Housing starts jumped 16.9% to an annual rate of 1.608 million units last month, the highest level since 2006.


WASHINGTON  – U.S. homebuilding surged to a 13-year high in December as activity increased across the board, suggesting the housing market recovery was back on track amid low mortgage rates, and could help support the longest economic expansion on record. 

Housing starts jumped 16.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.608 million units last month, the highest level since December 2006. The percentage gain was the largest since October 2016. Groundbreaking activity last month was likely flattered by unseasonably mild weather and probably overstates the health of the housing market.

Data for November was revised higher to show homebuilding rising to a pace of 1.375 million units, instead of advancing to a rate of 1.365 million units as previously reported.





Image result for free images of new years resolutions

It’s that time of year when everything we see and hear is telling us that we should be setting New Year’s Resolutions and begin the new year with a revived energy for making the changes in our lives that we want and perhaps need to pursue. Perhaps the last year was filled with challenges, disappointments and a sense of failure. On the other hand, perhaps it was filled with successes and more happy moments than disappointing ones. Perhaps you experienced life changes:  New Job/Job Loss…New Marriage-Relationship/ Breakup/Divorce, Expanded Family/Loss of Loved Ones. The list can go on and on.

Making New Years Resolutions to change the things you disliked about the last year or to expand on the good things can be good and bad. Setting unrealistic expectations can set you up for another year of failure/loss/disappointment. The key to setting goals is to make them a challenge to reach vs setting them so high they’re unattainable and thus set you back emotionally and possibly physically. Ex: To go from no exercise to bench pressing 300 lbs in 6 weeks is both unrealistic and dangerous…physically and emotionally. Expecting to go from an entry level position to top management within a year, again, can defeat you emotionally which will also affect you physically. Determine to sell your home Secret to Sellingfor top dollar in under a month can be possible in some markets but without the proper research, homework and exposure….this can set you back emotionally and financially.

New Years Resolutions need to stretch you to grow without destroying you due to unrealistic expectations. Determine the most important goals you have for the new year and focus on a few instead of creating a list of multiple resolutions causing you to not Image result for free images of new years resolutionsaccomplish any due to overload. Set one or two realistic goals and then once you’ve achieved that goal…determine the next and then the next and so on. Want to pay down your debt so you can buy your dream home. Create a realistic budget and payoff plan and then work at it daily.

The most important factor leading to your success or failure is to take time at the end of each day to celebrate the successes and fix what didn’t work. Then plan for tomorrow. A key to success in goal setting is to never start your day until it’s finished. In other words, at the end of the day after celebrate/fix set up your goals and plans to accomplish tomorrow. This way you don’t waste time at the beginning of the day saying, “should I do this or should I do that?” You’ll already know exactly what you need to do and have a plan for success. Work through that day and then repeat the process.


Experiencing little success and celebrations along the way give us the energy to keep on keeping on to a Happy, Healthy, Successful New Year!


Bring the Beauty of Winter Inside for the Holidays!

There’s nothing quite like an evergreen blanketed in fresh, sparkling snow or ruby-red berries produced from a bare branch. This holiday season, show your appreciation of outdoor beauty by re-creating it indoors! Acknowledging nature inside your walls is a fashionable trend this year. Buy dry or fake outdoor accents from a store or scavenge for the real items outside! Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Accent an elegant chandelier or noticeable light fixture with a strand of leaves or berries. If you want it homemade, all you need is thread and a pile of leaves or berries!
  • Create a table centerpiece with a bowl of outdoor décor. Fill a wicker basket or a glass bowl with pine cones, nuts, acorns, berries, pine needles and feathers!
  • Mold a wreath together using anything you want! Use rosemary to create a scented wreath, or string crabapple berries and leaves together for a colorful selection!
  • Collect a handful of evergreens into a vase or a bowl and place it on any table, mantel or shelf. Evergreens exhibit a vibrant color and are best used in subtle, neutral-colored rooms.
  • Incorporate magnolia leaves into golden fixtures or wall hangings. Magnolias have a long life span and accentuate subtle colors well.
  • Spread a thick layer of cotton over a windowsill or a mantel, or place it underneath a holiday decoration. Sprinkle glitter atop the cotton and it will appear as sparkly and fresh as the snow outside!
  • Fill a vase or a glass halfway with sugar or salt and place a pine cone or pine needles inside. This will confine the snowy scene outdoors into a tiny object inside!
  • Weave ivy through a wicker basket, through the ribbon on a wrapped present or through holiday decorations. Ivy can add natural appeal to an object that already exists.
  • Decorate any corner of any room with flowers that are remarkably in blossom during these winter months! Fill a basket or colored vase with hydrangea blossoms, white roses, topiaries or narcissus plants for a vibrant contrast in colors!
  • Light candles and surround them with greenery or glittery “snow” cotton. The peaceful candlelight will illuminate these natural wonders.
  • Hang greenery around windows and hang mistletoe from doorways. We all know what mistletoe leads to!
  • Instead of spending money on new ornaments, boost your tree’s appeal by hanging pine cones or pomegranates from the branches!

By decorating the indoors with outdoor attractions, you can still enjoy the beauty of nature while relaxing in your warm, cozy home. Use your imagination to recreate a wild, winter wonderland for a festive atmosphere!


Create Front and Back Curb Appeal

Image result for Homes with Spring LandscapeSome homeowners exert tremendous time, effort and money creating a wonderful first impression for buyers to view as they pull up to their home. That is a good thing. What is not so good, is using your entire budget and effort in the front while ignoring the side and back portions of your home. You may draw them in with your beautiful front yard, flowers and swing under your covered front porch BUT if they walk out your back door to a moldy deck, trash cans, overgrown weeds and a yard that looks like the NFL just practiced there; well, the front yard is no longer at the forefront of their minds.

It is important to create all around curb appeal so that no matter where they are looking, they are excited about what they see. You wouldn’t think of just painting the front of your Image result for Homes with Spring Landscapehome and leaving the sides and back chipped and revealing rotting wood, would you? (Ok, now I know some of you said yes to this, but that would be the wrong answer so please continue on).

Before you head to the garden center or big box store, develop a plan on paper that includes cleaning, painting and planting needs for all exterior portions of your home. If you are not an avid gardener (as many of us are not) ask questions and learn which plants will offer the longest blooming life, most vibrant colors and require the least maintenance (this is at the top of my list!). If you don’t have a lot of yard, create potted plantings. You often see beautifully detailed flower pots on either side of a home’s front entry. Do the same at your side and back entry doors, too.  A simple thing that will yield great rewards!  See your home as a total exterior package and use your budget to maximize the entire picture.

Don’t like to garden or too overwhelmed to attempt it on your own? (I am so with you here) Have a “Curb Appeal Party”. Invite your friends over one Saturday, hand them a hoe, garden shovel, flat of flowers and a hug to say thanks for coming. (Of course they’re going to want food and beverages to go along with that hug!) I guarantee you know a man who would jump at the chance to power wash your deck! (Yes, ladies they do consider that a power tool!) Or, hey, feel the power yourself….it’s not difficult and you see instant results! Very gratifying.  (ps: this should NOT be a surprise curb appeal party….ask so your friends can gracefully bow out if they are not in any way interested….and if they’re not make sure they know that it’s completely ok!)

End the day with a relaxing barbecue sitting on your clean deck amidst your beautiful plantings.  Everyone will feel refreshed and satisfied with the results of their efforts.  Now, here is the key.  Make sure and be ready to reciprocate when they schedule a Curb Appeal Party of their own!


It’s Not Closed Until It’s Closed!

You’ve been shopping for weeks or maybe just a few days and you believe you have absolutely found the home of your dreams. Then, sadly, you discover the property has a pending contract. Before you walk away completely deflated, remember these important words, “It’s not sold til it’s closed!” BUT does that mean you can still make an offer on it?

Typically, once a home has a pending sale, you won’t be able to place your bid because both seller and buyer have agreed on the terms of the sale and signed the contract. But real estate deals have been know to fall apart for multiple reasons. Again, until it’s closed, it’s not a done deal!

Though you can’t submit an offer, you absolutely can contact the listing agent or if the home is being sold by owner, the seller, and make them aware of your interest and ask to be notified in the event something happens and the home is going to go back on the market. This way, you have the possibility of putting your offer in before others even know the home is once again available.

Now, it’s important not to get your hopes up that the deal will fall through or tell yourself this is the only home for you. Keep shopping with an open mind and heart. You may discover that not getting that home was a blessing in disguise as you step forward into a different home that makes you even happier!

An important note: If the other deal does fall through, before you jump in gleefully and with reckless abandon, keep in mind, there might have been a reason it fell through that might cause you to want to run away from it too!