268 East Main Street, East Hampstead, NH 03826
603-489-9104 | swest@cocoearly.com



Posted by Stacey West (NH/MA) on 11/24/2017

Owning a home is expensive. Aside from your mortgage, you also have to pay for insurance, utilities, property taxes... the list goes on.

It may seem like there are few ways to cut back on the expenses of owning a home. However, one of the most effective things you can do to save money as a homeowner is to do your own maintenance. The cost of home repairs can add up, especially if you live in an older home or in an area where services like plumbers and electricians aren’t accessible or affordable.

With a little research and some hard work, however, maintaining your home can be a source of pride and of saving yourself money.

In this article, we’ll cover the basic home maintenance and home improvement knowledge that will save you money, and point you in the direction of some resources that will help you attain those skills.

Maintenance is key

To increase the longevity of appliances like refrigerators, washers and dryers, you’ll need to perform some mundane tasks regularly. That includes cleaning filters, fans, and going online to order new ones when necessary. In the same way that failing to change your oil filter will result in a much more expensive issue, so will failing to properly maintain your appliances.

In a world where companies are making it increasingly difficult for consumers to repair their own devices, it’s more important than ever to learn the basic skills needed to make simple repairs.

What you should do before repairing anything

There are some precautions you should take before repairing or maintaining things like appliances. First, always be sure the item is turned off and unplugged before working with its components.

Next, refer to the manual first, but if that fails, search for tutorials online such as on YouTube for your particular model. Always keep in mind that sometimes warranties are void if you attempt repairs yourself,  so make sure the repair you’re attempting is easy enough so that you don’t risk losing your warranty.

The right tools for the job

It might be tempting to go down to The Home Depot and fill a cart with power tools when you buy your first home. Remember, however, that certain tools are more useful than others. Find out which tools you’ll be using most often. Odds are they’re simple, inexpensive hand tools that will fit in a small toolbox. Some power tools, such as a cordless drill, will probably be worth the investment as long as you take care of the batteries.

Don’t throw out good materials

Ample storage space is a problem many homeowners face. But if you can spare the space, hold onto materials from previous projects that might come in handy. Some examples include:

  • Paint. You don’t want to have to go back to the store and mix a new can of paint just for a touch-up.

  • Nails and screws that come with your purchases. Sometimes the screws are designed specifically for whatever you’re building. Save your backups so you don’t have to buy a new bag if one is lost.

  • Wood. Having extra wood around can come in handy for any number of home improvement projects.




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Stacey West (NH/MA) on 1/8/2016

Take a drive down any residential road in your town or city, and you're bound to notice a neglected porch or two. Is your porch giving your home the best face it can have? Could your porch use a little spice? Here's how to get the most out of your porch, whether it is only a few feet, or a covered area spanning the length of your home. 1. - Replace things when needed. New welcome mats, address numbers, doorknobs and deadbolts can breathe new life into your porch space. All of these experience significant wear-and-tear in only a short time, and replacing them when needed shows passers-by and potential home buyers that you live in a house that is well taken care of...Even down to the last detail. 2. - Don't be afraid to paint. Often times, painted areas on a porch can be overlooked. If you are in the middle of a deck painting, then don't hesitate to touch up your porch as a part of your project. 3. - Bring a little life onto your porch. Consider buying a few weather-hardy plants that could complement the color scheme of your home. Tasteful plant window boxes installed on the windows closest to your porch can make your porch appear much bigger than it is, and is an optical effect that will definitely work in your favor. Just be sure to pick plants that don't run afoul of your home's outdoor color scheme, and you'll find that bringing a little plant life onto and around your porch is a very enjoyable investment. 4. - Lighting is not only important for looks, but for safety as well. Make sure that your porch light is always in working order, and be sure to choose quality bulbs that match the wattage of the outlet. Some homes have faulty porch wiring, and sometimes lack proper lighting. If you are in one of these homes, consider making a project out of it. Proper lighting will show off your porch at night in all the right places, and will be a welcome safety addition for your family and visitors.





Posted by Stacey West (NH/MA) on 11/20/2015

Are you considering a large-scale home remodel?  Whether you are looking for a project intended to increase your home's value, or you're splurging on a pleasure project for your family, many of you will be turning to contractors to carry out the work that needs to be done.  However, not all contractors are equal.  It is important for you to outline your priorities for the project.  You'll want a reliable contractor that can perform satisfactory work for a reasonable price.  Here's a few tips to help get you started. 1. - Find yourself an insured and licensed contractor.  Don't just pull a number from the classifieds and run with it without doing some proper homework.  Licensing ensures that the contractor in question is qualified to do the work being discussed.  To find out if your prospective contractor is licensed, contact your state license board and check up on them. Insurance is another matter.  Insurance protects the workers the contractor will be employing, and your home from accidents resulting in damages.  Ask your contractor to provide you with proof of insurance.  If they can't provide this, then move on to a new contractor. 2. - Referrals and reviews - Before you strike out on your own, ask your friends and family if they have anyone that they'd recommend.  Many times, the best contractors are found word-of-mouth.  Every contractor on the planet wants his clients to think that he's the best for the job, but results speak for themselves.  Again, make sure any referrals are licensed and insured.  You don't want to take the chance of incurring additional damages to your property due to negligence and accidents.  If no referrals can be found, then check online for reviews of local contractors.  Most reputable contractors will have solid online reviews that are easily accessible.  Contractors that operate their own websites are a plus. 3. - There's no such thing as a stupid question.  If your contractor acts annoyed with you for asking too many questions, then you should probably consider someone else for the job.  Questions to consider asking are - How long have you been in business? - How much will this project cost in total? - Have you performed this type of work before? - What is the protocol if the project goes over-budget? If you don't like the answers given, then continue looking for a contractor you feel comfortable with. 4. - Don't pay too much up front.  Paying up to a third of the total estimate up front isn't unheard of.  This initial payment will more than likely be used to hire employees and buy supplies.  However, be wary of giving the contractor any more money until after your project is finished.  Also, don't be afraid to get a rundown of how that initial payment will be spent.  Be thorough if you want to be.  The contractor should be able to give you a pretty good picture of the project in terms of cost and time. 5. - Get a contract - No matter the size of the project being undertaken, a contract should always be written up.  This will ensure a legally-binding agreement between you and the contractor exists in the event of the unforeseen.  Without a contract, there is no way to hold the contractor accountable in the event he performs an unsatisfactory job.  And trust me...Any hassles you may incur in securing a contract is nothing compared to going to court without one in the event something goes awry.  A proper contract should include the following information.

  • When the project will start and end
  • How and when you or the contractor is in default of the contract
  • How any disputes will be rectified
  • What happens if there is a delay due to weather, available materials, and so on.




Categories: Money Saving Tips  




Tags