Your Essential Moving Checklist

Map out everything you need to do, week by week, until the big day.

Editor’s note: For many people, spring kicks off prime moving season. Wherever you’re headed, being well prepared to relocate will help minimize the upheaval and ensure that you can get settled into your new place as painlessly as possible. Every day this week, we’ll be giving you the resources you need to get ready to move.

When it comes to moving, proper organization is the defining difference between ultimate success and complete failure.

Even if you’re already an excellent organizer, you might still feel overwhelmed by the number of relocation-related tasks you have to complete before moving day — unless you find a way to bring order to the chaos.

Here’s a moving timeline that will do the trick. It will help you organize your time, prioritize your tasks, track your progress, and reduce moving stress. What’s more, you’ll never forget anything important, because your week-by-week moving checklist will remind you of what to do every single day until moving day.

Eight weeks before moving day

Organizing a safe, efficient, and trouble-free relocation requires about two months of careful planning and hard work. So, start your moving preparations about eight weeks before the big day:

  • Start looking for an appropriate new home in your future area (you may have to start sooner if you’re moving to a particularly hot real estate market).
  • Inventory your possessions and decide what you’re going to take to your new home.
  • Research your moving options and decide if you’re going to move on your own or use professional moving services.

Six weeks before moving day

  • Contact a few trustworthy movers and request an in-house estimation of your relocation costs. If you’ve decided on a DIY move, contact several truck rental companies and compare their rates and conditions.
  • Review your finances and designate your moving budget.
  • Notify all the relevant people and institutions of your move: your landlord (if you’re a renter), employer, family physician, children’s school (if applicable), and bank, for starters.
  • Start looking for a trustworthy health provider and a good school for your kids in your new city.
  • Schedule your move and book your chosen moving company (or book a rental truck of appropriate size for the day of your move).

Four weeks before moving day

  • Obtain your and your family’s medical records and your children’s school records.
  • Take your pet to the vet for a complete checkup and get all the necessary papers: vaccination records, health certificates, etc.
  • Get rid of unwanted items. Organize a moving sale, sell items online, donate them to charity, or give them away to relatives and friends.
  • Obtain packing supplies and start packing the items you won’t need before moving day. Make sure you don’t pack any nonallowable items.
  • Cancel subscriptions to delivery services and memberships to clubs and organizations.

Two weeks before moving day

  • If you’re driving to your new home, have your car serviced to make sure your road trip will go as smoothly as possible. If you’re flying to your new city, book your ticket and find a trustworthy auto transporter to ship your car.
  • Change your address with the United States Postal Service.
  • Transfer utilities — arrange for services in your old home to be disconnected the day after your move. Contact service providers in your new city to have utilities running in your new home on move-in day.
  • Reserve a parking place for the moving truck (directly in front of the entrance to your home) and an elevator for the time of your move (if applicable).

One week before moving day

  • Contact your moving company and confirm that everything is going according to plan.
  • Say your goodbyes — organize a farewell party, spend some quality time with your closest friends, visit your favorite places in town, etc.
  • Check on your packing progress. Most of your belongings should be packed up and labeled by this point.
  • Prepare an “open first” box that contains all the essentials you’re going to need as soon as you arrive in your new home.
  • Hire a sitter to look after your children and/or pets on moving day (if necessary).
  • Check if you’ve paid all the bills, picked up your clothes from the dry cleaners, returned library books and borrowed items, etc.

Two days before moving day

  • Finish packing — leave out only a few items you can’t do without during the last couple of days in your old home, and the cleaning supplies you’re going to need to clean the place before leaving it for the last time.
  • Defrost and clean your fridge and get all your household appliances ready to move — empty them, clean them, and make sure they’re fully dry and safely wrapped for transportation.
  • Disassemble large furniture pieces and pack them for shipment.
  • Make sure you have all valuables and important documents with you.

Moving day

  • Have a good night’s rest and get up early in the morning to have enough time for last-minute moving tasks.
  • Double-check your home for forgotten items.
  • Meet your hired movers and provide them with all the information they need to perform a quick and efficient move.
  • Keep kids and pets away from the hectic moving procedures.
  • Carefully read all the paperwork you need to sign.
  • Prepare some refreshments for your movers and have some cash ready to tip them if you’re satisfied with their work.
  • Give the truck driver your exact new address and your phone number.
  • Clean your old home, lock it safely, and bid it farewell. The time has come to set foot on the road to your new life!

Even though most moving tasks are common for all residential moves, you can modify them to meet your personal needs and requirements. Certain aspects of your move will be unique and will require a different approach, so personalize this moving timeline checklist and make it work perfectly for you.

Mold, Termites and Your Home Insurance

Are you covered if one of these sneaky menaces invades your home?

By Samantha Alexander

Nothing’s worse than finding unwanted visitors in your home. A surprise appearance by a spider is enough to make you want to move out altogether. However, some house guests are even worse — you can’t crush them or spray them to get rid of them. Two chief culprits: mold and termites.

Silent intruders such as these can be costly to fix — not to mention a major headache to deal with. Even though standard home insurance policies cover a wide variety of perils, you may not have adequate protection for damage from certain pests.

While you should review your specific policy, here’s a quick breakdown of how mold, termites and other pests typically are covered (or not covered) by standard home insurance policies.

When mold moves in

It goes without saying that mold is not something you want in your home. Even in the most well-kept home, there’s often a little bit of mold somewhere. The problem is when mold is allowed to grow and spread unnoticed. Severe indoor mold infestations can lead to serious health problems, and should be addressed immediately.

Because it costs so much to get rid of mold and repair the damage it causes, some homeowners may hope to rely on their home insurance policy for help. This is where things get tricky. First, it’s important to know what causes mold.

Mold thrives on moisture, which means humid and damp areas are vulnerable. Mold spores can enter your home through doors and windows or can grow after a leak occurs. If the mold in your home is caused by a covered peril such as a burst pipe or leaky roof, repairing the damage it creates could be covered through your home insurance policy.

There’s a ‘but’ coming, of course: Most policies include certain mold exclusions. Many standard policies won’t offer coverage for mold that arises from poor maintenance, chronic or repeated water leaks, or failure to properly ventilate rooms.

There’s another circumstance in which damage from mold is not covered: when it’s caused by flooding from rising waters such as lakes, rivers or oceans. Flooding isn’t covered by standard home insurance, and neither is mold caused by flooding. For that, you’ll need a separate flood policy. Learn more at FloodSmart.gov, the website for the National Flood Insurance Program.

Curious about your level of mold coverage? Call your home insurance company and find out what your policy says. Many carriers offer add-on coverage for extra protection.

The truth about termites

Every homeowner, at one point or another, has wondered if termites are quietly eating away at the unseen parts of his or her home. It’s a very real fear. Termites can destroy the structural integrity of your home, if they go unnoticed. Unfortunately, termite infestation is something that isn’t often covered by standard home insurance policies.

Each year, termites cause more than $5 billion in property damage, according to the National Pest Management Association. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to prevent a termite takeover from happening to you.

Termite barriers, bait and monitoring systems, and soil treatment are all effective methods of preventing termites on your property. If you’re serious about prevention, you may even want to consider hiring a professional to check your property annually — many mortgage lenders will require this, in fact.

In addition to mold and termites, other unwanted visitors can wreak havoc on your home, including bed bugs and rodents. Most of the time, damage caused by or removal of these pests is not covered by standard home and renters insurance policies. The best way to avoid a costly run-in with a pest is by maintaining your home and conducting regular home maintenance checks. If you see a problem, deal with it before it gets out of control.

Termite damage typically isn’t covered, while mold can be, but only under specific circumstances. Home insurance, in general, is no substitute for proper home maintenance.

All homeowners should familiarize themselves with their insurance policy. If you have questions about your coverage or policy limits, a licensed agent is the best resource.

What If I Find Asbestos in My House?

Simply living in a home in which asbestos exists is not dangerous. It’s when asbestos materials are disturbed that you should become concerned.

Many homes built before 1980 contain asbestos, a heat-resistant fibrous mineral found in floor and ceiling tiles, roof shingles and flashing, siding and certain types of insulation.

We now know that exposure to asbestos fibers can lead to an increased risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma. Although asbestos-containing products can still legally be manufactured, imported, processed and distributed in the Country, the use of asbestos has declined significantly in recent decades, according to the Nigeria Geological Survey.

The good news is that simply living in a home in which asbestos exists is not dangerous. However, if asbestos materials are disturbed — during a remodel, for example — asbestos fibers may be released into the air. The risk of disease increases if those fibers are inhaled.

Friable vs. non-friable

Asbestos-containing materials are categorized as friable or non-friable. These terms indicate how readily they may release asbestos fibers when disturbed.

Friable materials can be easily crumbled. If friable asbestos material is damaged or disturbed, it presents an inhalation risk because the fibers can be released into the air easily. Any asbestos-containing material can become friable.

In non-friable asbestos products, the asbestos fibers are bound into the product and are not so easily released. These products present a risk only when they’re disturbed, by sanding or cutting for instance. Vinyl asbestos floor tiles and acoustic ceiling tiles that are in good shape are examples of non-friable asbestos products. If those tiles would begin to deteriorate, they could become friable.

How do I know if I have asbestos?

You can’t tell whether a product contains asbestos simply by looking at it. When in doubt, proceed with caution and leave the material alone.

If you are planning a remodel or your home has damaged building materials such as failing drywall, you should have your home tested by a trained and accredited asbestos professional who will take samples for analysis. If it’s determined you have asbestos in your home, the inspector will help you understand test results and provide information about next steps: repairing or removing.

What’s involved in repair?

With any type of repair, the asbestos material stays in place and is either sealed or covered.

Sealing (also referred to as encapsulation) involves using a sealant to coat the asbestos material so that toxic fibers are not released. Covering (also known as enclosure) involves placing something over or around the material that contains asbestos to prevent release of fibers. Exposed insulated piping, for example, may be covered with a protective wrap.

Can I remove my own asbestos?

There is no federal mandate concerning accreditation for those who inspect, repair or remove asbestos in residential settings. Twenty-five states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have Occupational Safety and Health Administration-approved standards and enforcement policies. In many of those states, your only legal options for having asbestos removed from your home are to hire a certified abatement contractor or to do the work yourself. These laws prohibit you from hiring anyone other than a certified asbestos contractor to perform asbestos removal work. Family members and friends can help, as long as they’re not paid. Be sure to check with your city and state to learn about requirements, including permitting and waiting periods, where you live.

It should also be noted that, while most states allow DIY-asbestos removal from private residences, most health and environmental organizations caution that it can be a dangerous proposition.

What should I know about hiring an asbestos pro?

Avoid a conflict of interest by hiring a testing professional who is not associated with a firm that does asbestos abatement.

Insist that workers provide current proof of training and accreditation. Also check with local pollution control boards, the local agency responsible for worker safety and the Better Business Bureau to see whether the company has any safety violations or legal action filed against it.

What happens during abatement?

Those doing the actual removal will protect themselves from breathing or spreading asbestos fibers by wearing appropriate respirators, disposable coveralls, disposable gloves and boots. The work area will be isolated from the rest of the house using plastic sheeting and duct tape, and the heating or air-conditioning system should be shut down to prevent further distribution of asbestos fibers.

Before, during and after removal, asbestos materials should be thoroughly saturated with water in order to keep asbestos fibers out of the air. The asbestos-laden materials — along with all disposable equipment and clothing used in the job — will be placed inside leak-proof plastic bags. The sealed bags should then be placed in cardboard boxes to prevent them from breaking open, and they’ll be disposed of at a permitted landfill. The area from which asbestos was removed should also be thoroughly cleaned with wet mops, wet rags, sponges and high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum cleaners. Some removal firms will retest for asbestos when the job is complete. If yours doesn’t, you may want to invest in a new test yourself.

Is Your Home Trying to Kill You?

Is your home trying to kill you ?

Here is How to detect and avoid five of the most common household hazards.

Home is where you feel comfortable and safe. It’s where you tuck your kids into bed and lazily watch hours of Netflix on the couch.

Without your care and vigilance, however, your home may develop conditions that can make you severely ill — or even kill you.

Here are five ways your home can potentially harm you, and expert advice on preventing them from affecting your household.

1. Mold

Though mold isn’t a pathogen (a disease-causing agent), it’s still an allergen that you don’t want hanging around your house.

“When people say they have a mold allergy or they have a mold condition, it’s an allergic reaction,” says Peter Duncanson, director of business operations for disaster restoration specialists ServiceMaster Restore. “[Molds] generally considered toxic are ones like stachybotrys, which are black in color — but not all black molds cause the same reactions.”

Molds, including black molds like stachybotrys, form if moisture concentrates in an area where a food source is present, such as skin cells or paper. You know you have mold growing in your home if you smell an earthy, musty scent. Though mold exposure won’t severely harm the average person, repeated exposure is not advised for your health.

“The buildup [of mold] causes a more violent reaction, and those reactions are generally respiratory in nature and pulmonary, so you have trouble breathing,” Duncanson explains. “A very severe reaction to mold, like a bee sting, can be anaphylactic — you can’t breathe, and you go into an anaphylactic shock.”

Luckily, you can prevent mold by keeping your home dry, running the exhaust fan when taking a shower, and purchasing a dehumidifier for the basement in the summer.

If you do find black mold (or what’s commonly referred to as toxic mold) in your home, don’t panic. Contact a professional who can safely remove the mold and eliminate the water source feeding it.

2. Exposed asbestos

Asbestos was a commonly used building material up until the mid-20th century, when it was determined to be a very dangerous carcinogen that causes mesothelioma cancer. Though builders aren’t legally allowed to use asbestos in building materials and other products anymore, traces of it are often found in older homes.

“Asbestos is not harmful to you if you don’t disturb it,” Duncanson says. “The problem arises when you start cutting or doing demolition and asbestos becomes airborne.”

It may be tempting to DIY an open-concept living space in your vintage bungalow, but if your home was built before the 1980s, seek the advice of a professional before you start knocking down any walls. The latency period of mesothelioma cancer can be years, so problems may not arise until much later in your life.

Handling asbestos is a dangerous task, and professionals have the equipment to remove it safely without risking your health.

3. Carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon monoxide poisoning, which kills thousands of people each year, occurs when there’s too much carbon monoxide in your blood, resulting in tissue damage or death.

Improperly ventilated appliances like stoves, water heaters, or gas appliances release carbon monoxide. Andy Kerns, a home maintenance researcher with Digital Third Coast, says that improperly cleaned chimneys cause smoke to circulate throughout the home, which can also give you carbon monoxide poisoning.

Properly ventilating appliances and cleaning heat sources like wood-burning stoves every year before use should protect you from carbon monoxide poisoning. Call a professional if you have any doubts about the safety and security of your appliances or ventilation within your home.

4. Fire

Seven people in the U.S. die each day from house fires, according to the National Fire Prevention Association. Most of these house fires are caused from normal, everyday use of appliances, candles, and cooking equipment. The most surprising fire starter, however, lives in the laundry room.

“Dryer lint can collect in the dryer and become an electrical fire starter,” says Kern. “Dryers are the number one cause of house fires.”

To prevent house fires, ensure that your appliances have the right rating before you plug them into outlets. Also, always blow candles out after usage and carefully watch the stove when cooking.

5. Slippery bathroom surfaces

The bathroom is often ranked as the most dangerous room in the home. Wet, slippery surfaces often lead to falls that result in anything from embarrassment to a fractured hip.

“Bathtubs, especially, are an area where you can fall and hit your head,” notes Kern. “A lot of people get pretty severely injured in the bathroom, particularly when they’re older.”

As we get older, bathroom safety gets more pertinent, so install things like a grab bar or a walk-in tub for ease of use as you age. Be sure to also wipe down any wet surfaces, and place a bath mat by the sink and the tub to prevent bathroom falls.

Keep tabs on your home

Taking the time to slow down and keep your home safe is essential for any homeowner. Give your home a monthly, semiannual, and annual checkup to keep it in tip-top condition for years to come.

“Given how busy our lives are, and all the different things we have to keep track of in our digital environments, it’s harder and harder to keep some of the physical maintenance issues top of mind. I think a lot of people tend to let things go until there’s a problem,” says Kern. “Don’t leave it up to your memory. Have a good, reliable organizational system that keeps you up to date.”

What add value to your house? Not what you might be thinking

You probably have to find out what add values to your house from those in the know, and not trying to guess what might works….

Not all home improvement projects add value. Some can make your property more saleable (quicker and easier to sell), but they won’t necessarily increase its sale price.

Put simply, the amount you spend on a project won’t necessarily add the same amount to its value. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you think about improving your home.

Don’t overdevelop

The main thing you need to bear in mind when trying to add value is to avoid overdeveloping. All properties have a ceiling price and, no matter what you do to it, your property can’t command an asking price that’s too much higher than other properties on your street.

Potential buyers with a #500,000,000 budget are unlikely want to live on a street where all the other houses are worth #250,000,000.

Keep proportionate

If you have a small two-bedroom house, excavating a mega-basement will make the property bottom-heavy, so remember that any additions should remain in proportion to the original structure. Look at the other houses on your street to understand what projects your neighbours have been granted planning permission to carry out. You’ll then realise what’s likely to be possible with your property.

Stay put in your current home

In many cases, it’s more cost effective to turn a two-bedroom house into a three-bedroom house than it is to invest in a new property with an additional bedroom.

There are two options if you want to create more rooms;

  • Reconfigure the floor plan (the cheapest option)
  • Add more living space with an extension or conversion

Reconfiguring: Reconfiguring the existing upstairs floor plan is a cost-effective way of creating more bedrooms. A good builder will be able to re-design the floor plan to make the most of the space available. You can hire a builder to install a partition stud which, as a benchmark, might cost you thousands on Nairas additionally.

Providing the rooms created are of adequate size, and the space in the original ones hasn’t been overly compromised, a well thought-through reconfiguration can add value to your property.

Conversions: Converting loft space is also a relatively cheap way to increase the number of bedrooms, as well as the living space in your home. In many cases a loft conversion is considered permitted development so you won’t require planning permission.

However, listed properties or those in conservation areas will require permission and local interpretation of the regulations can vary, so it’s worth clarifying with your local planning authority before you commence work.

According to Rated People, you’ll need a minimum ceiling height of 2.3 meters to make a loft conversion viable, typically the steeper the pitch of the roof the better suited it is to converting. Loft spaces are best used for extra bedrooms if you choose to install bathrooms the cost will be pushed up.

You should consult a builder about the configuration, especially if you plan to include bathrooms as locating these close to existing plumbing will reduce the cost of the project. A basic loft conversion with Velux windows will cost you thousands of nairas for a more complex project with Dorma windows.

 

Extensions: Any project that adds square footage is likely to add value and recently the trend for open-plan living has increased the popularity of single-storey kitchen extensions.

Kitchens sell houses so this is a good value-adding area to spend money. Rates People estimates a basic single-storey extension will cost around #100,000. And in most cases this type of home improvement falls under permitted development, so planning permission isn’t required.

If you also want to increase the number of bedrooms you could opt for a double-storey extension.

Prices start from #200,000 which, when you look at value increases between a two-bedroom and three-bedroom house, could make it a lot cheaper than the cost of a bigger property. And that’s before you add on the costs of moving.

While reconfigurations may solve the financial problem and hassle of moving up the ladder to increase the amount of bedrooms, if room size is compromised this type of project can’t guarantee increasing the sale price. On the other hand, adding living space with a well thought out conversion or extension nearly always adds value to a property.

How to easily sell a home and stand out from the crowd

There are now a greater number of properties coming onto the market than there have been in recent months, which is good news for the health of the sector in general.

However, it means that those of us looking to sell in summer, the busiest period of the year, are witnessing increased competition.

So do you know the best ways to make sure you remain at the top of the wanted list and ensure you find a buyer in a market that is set to be more challenging than ever?

Get the decorating right

The interior of the house sells it more than anything, so it is important to get the basic decorating inside the house right.

If you have any garish colours in any rooms, get rid of them and replace with creams and beiges. Bright and striking rooms will attract attention, but they will be far more likely to turn buyers away.

Similarly, get rid of any large pieces of furniture that make the rooms look cluttered. Space sells, and the fewer items you have in the house, the more spacious it will look.

Marketing is key

As much as the interior of your house will sell it, getting the marketing right will attract the buyers in the first place – you can’t sell a home if no one comes to see it.

Make sure you get the property online and ensure that it is well described and photographed in order that people can get a good idea of what they are coming to see. The more they know, the more likely they’ll book a viewing.

Kerb appeal

We all know the importance of first impressions when meeting new people, and it is no different when you are selling your house. The first impression people get will be all important to them.

Make sure your garden is clean and tidy and well pruned. Fences should always be painted and in a good state of repair. Anything out of place is a negative in the eyes of buyers, and it is important to minimise these to increase the chances of selling.

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First time buyer deposit

As a general rule of thumb, the larger the deposit you save to buy a home, the better the mortgage deal you will be offered from a lender.

So if you can save a 20 per cent or 25 per cent deposit, you are likely to be offered better terms and rates than if you can only save a five per cent deposit.

It means saving as much as #50,000 for a home costing #250,000 if you are seeking lower monthly mortgage payments.

Banks and building societies apply such lending criteria because a larger deposit means you are a lower risk borrower.

The lender will be less exposed to a financial loss if you default on your mortgage payments and the property value dips, falling into negative equity (where the value of your home is less than you debt you owe on it).

Lenders imposed heavy penalties for those with smaller deposits following the credit crisis as repossessions rose sharply on the back of financially over-stretched borrowers being unable to meet their loan payments.

And for a period immediately after the crisis, lenders stop offering mortgages altogether to those with smaller deposits as lenders deemed the risk too high.

But confidence is returning and the government supports lenders in offering loans to those wishing to borrow a greater percentage of the value of a property, with initiatives such as the Help to Buy scheme. As a result, competition is significantly improving among deals for those with a small deposit.

 

While every effort has been taken to ensure the above information is up to date, some inaccuracies may occur. All information was correct at time of publication and is provided in good faith.

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