DIY Fence Installation Tips

A wood fence in a backyard

More and more people are making improvements to their homes during the pandemic, especially improvements to their outdoor space. With the price of lumber currently at all-time highs, many people have been thinking about doing a DIY fence installation to cut down on costs. Depending on the size of the fence you are installing it can take a weekend to a week or even more to complete, but there are some things you need to know before beginning. Keep reading to see if this is a project you think you can tackle on your own.

  • The first step is to determine if you need any building or zoning permits to build a fence on your property. Also, check your survey to determine exact property lines and find out about any easements. Do some research into your neighborhood bylaws as they may contain specifications for fence height, materials, or appearance.
  • Sharing a fence line across the edge of your property with a neighbor is a good way to share the cost. If you choose to go this route, be sure to have a written agreement in place before beginning any construction. Even if you aren’t going to be sharing a fence with your neighbors, it would be courteous to discuss your plans with them before breaking ground.
  • Always call 811 before you dig. Underground utilities need to be clearly marked to avoid a dangerous situation or a service interruption.
  • Choose your materials wisely. Wood fences are beautiful and economical, but they require regular maintenance. Cedar or redwood is typically used as these woods are more resistant to rot and decay. Always use pressure-treated wood for the posts as the parts that go into the ground are susceptible to insects and moisture. Composite, vinyl, or metal fence materials cost more upfront, but require much less in time and money for maintenance.
  • Mark the layout of your fence clearly with stakes and line. Determine the location of all the posts and mark those spots for digging. Fence posts should be installed a minimum of 36” into the ground. Adding gravel to the bottom of the hole will provide extra drainage that will prevent water from affecting the bottom of your fence posts. Use a level to ensure fence posts are plumb in both directions. The more secure your fence posts, the longer your fence will last. After securing the posts with cement, allow them to dry for 24 hours.
  • Installation of the fence panels will vary depending on the type of fence you choose. Be sure to use galvanized or stainless steel screws and nails as they are resistant to rust and corrosion.
  • Secure the gate. Gates are often the most difficult part of your fence installation as you have to be spot on with your measurements and you often need at least one additional pair of hands to hold it in place while you attach the hardware.
  • If using wood, protect it. Staining helps extend the life of a wooden fence by protecting it from elements that cause rotting.

Take advantage of the warm weather this spring to make some home improvements. We can deliver all-steel, weatherproof storage containers to you for all your home improvement storage needs. If you want a simple way to store your stuff, look no further than Zippy Shell

6 Ways to Make a Cozy Home

fire place

There is no place like a cozy home in the middle of a freezing cold winter night. Now that holiday and other seasonal décor has likely been packed up, have you made any design changes to make your home feel cozy and inviting? If not, take a look at some of our favorite ideas for adding a warm and comforting touch to your home for the winter season.

LIGHTING

If you are using daylight or cool lighting, switch to warmer tones for a more comforting and cozy atmosphere. Did you know you can purchase smart bulbs that connect to your wifi and you can control from an app on your phone? You can change the color, brightness, and even choose settings like “flickering candle” to give the appearance of a burning candle or fire. While these bulbs are a little pricier than your standard bulb, they are worth the extra money if you are looking for an inexpensive way to overhaul the atmosphere in your home this winter.

BLANKETS

Big, chunky, warm blankets are a must-have during the winter season. You can find affordable, oversized throw blankets at almost any retail store. Not only will you love curling up under a warm blanket at the end of a cold day, they look great draped over the side of a chair or couch.

SEASONAL SCENTS

Use a wax burner, candle, oil diffuser, or plug-in to showcase a seasonal cozy scent. There are scents like pumpkin spice, apple pie, bon fire, sugar cookies, and others that can make your home feel inviting and comforting.

ELECTRIC FIREPLACE

While not exactly cheap, if you don’t already have a fireplace in your home, an electric fireplace can copy the look and feel of one. These can be especially useful if you need extra heating in your home and already need to use something like a space heater. The cool thing about these electric fireplaces is you can put them almost anywhere, even your bedroom. Talk about fancy!

CHANGE OUT YOUR WINDOW COVERINGS

This is not exactly a design suggestion, but more of a functional change. If you use heavier drapes during the winter, you will be able to keep some of the cold air that can sometimes seep in around the seals of the window behind the curtain. Have you ever pulled back your curtains and felt cold air rush out? Heavy drapes can help your home feel warmer and even help you save a little money on your heating bills.

ADD SOME GREENERY

Adding some greenery, whether live or artificial, can help give your home a warm and cozy boost during the winter months. If you are getting live plants, be sure to do a little research on easy care plants for the types of lighting you have available in your home.

We hope these tips will be helpful to you as you give your home a winter makeover. We would love to hear your ideas on how to make the home feel warm during the winter season! Stop by our Facebook page and share your ideas with our Zippy Shell community. We look forward to hearing from you!

How to Prepare for a Winter Power Outage

house in snow

As the cold weather continues to set in, now is a good time to discuss how to prepare for a winter power outage. Below are some steps anyone can take to ensure that you and your family are prepared to keep warm and keep fed for at least 72 hours of a winter weather power outage. Hopefully, you will never have to use your preparations, but they can be a lifesaver if you do.

Power Outage Supplies

  • Water for drinking and cooking – Sometimes during a power outage, the water supplied to your home by your local water utility may no longer be safe to drink without additional treatment. Packages of bottled water are great to keep on hand because the water stays good for years as long as the seals are not broken.
  • Non-perishable food – During a power outage, eat food from the refrigerator first, then from the freezer, then from your non-perishable food stash. Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. The refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will keep the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed. Be sure to keep a manual can opener in your non-perishable food stash!
  • Emergency lighting – Stock your power outage supply bin with enough flashlights for everyone in your family and make sure to keep extra compatible batteries. Battery powered LED lamps are also helpful to place around the home, especially in dark bathrooms. Place LED lamps or flameless candles in front of mirrors to magnify the light to a larger area.
  • Portable battery bank – Keep a couple of portable battery banks regularly charged that can support your mobile phones and any other important electronic equipment.
  • Alternative source of heat – In addition to heavy blankets and sleeping bags, a fireplace or kerosene space heater will be your best solution if the temperature drops below the level of comfort or safety for you during a power outage. Be cautious as some portable heaters can cause fires or other safety hazards when not used as specified by the manufacturer. Be sure to review the safety specifications of your specific model before using it during an outage.
  • Portable camping stove – Having a way to heat food and water during a power outage is a necessity. If your regular stove runs off of electricity, consider keeping a portable camping stove that runs off of propane in your emergency kit. Store extra propane tanks so you don’t run out!
  • Generator – If it’s in the budget, a generator can provide emergency power to your home during an extended power outage. You can have peace of mind by keeping the lights on, keeping the food refrigerated, keeping the heat running, and keeping a fully charged phone to be able to receive updates. Take care to not operate a generator indoors or in an enclosed area such as a garage where exhaust fumes and the considerable amount of heat produced can cause accidents. Position the generator outside and use a generator specific tent or cover to keep it out of the elements.

For those of you who have weathered a winter power outage in the past, let us know what items were most helpful to you. Check What You Need to Know When the Power Goes Out Unexpectedly from the CDC and Winter power outages: Are you prepared from the Red Cross for more information.

6 Common Painting Mistakes

painting

The number of people working on home renovations, repairs, and DIY projects has already started to skyrocket as the outdoor temperatures plummet. As there is less to do outdoors, the indoor projects get some much-needed attention. One of the most common things people like to do in the winter months is paint. Whether it is painting the walls or painting old furniture, you are going to start to see the paint area of the home improvement stores get extra busy over the next few months. If you have some painting in your near future, take a look at some of the most common painting mistakes you will want to avoid.

SKIPPING THE EDUCATION PROCESS

Unless you are painting a lot throughout the year, a refresher course on how to complete painting projects is a must. You should determine how the specific surfaces you are painting should be prepared, what types of paints and primers are best for your project, and even brushing techniques should be reviewed. You can find free videos on YouTube that will help you feel prepared before you start your projects.

USING LOW QUALITY SUPPLIES

The old adage “you get what you pay for” definitely applies to paint and paint supplies. It’s always important to stay within your budget, but you should also do some research on the reviews of different products and brands. There are affordable options that will work well for your needs, but be careful of buying the cheapest paints, brushes, rollers, and other supplies that you can find. What can happen is after you spend your money on these products you may find that they do not work well for your project and you have to go back out and spend more money on a different brand.

NOT PLANNING AHEAD

Like any home project, if you do not plan out your project, you are going to come across obstacles. Mentally go through the entire project in order to gather all the supplies you need, budget the approximate amount of money, and even the time needed for the project. We often underestimate how long a project will take and find ourselves stressed and rushed trying to finish.

WINGING IT

One of the hardest parts of painting is taping off the areas you are going to paint in order to keep paint off the ceiling, door frames, and baseboards. But this is an important step that can save you a lot of heartache in the end. Plus, those clean and crisp lines that are revealed in the end can be very satisfying!

NOT PROTECTING SURFACES

Not only should you use tape to protect your doorframes, ceilings, and baseboards, but you should use plastic sheeting to protect your flooring. It’s a common blunder to skip the purchase of plastic sheeting or drop cloths in order to save some money and time, but it rarely ends well. It is difficult to get paint out of carpet and even off hardwoods, so don’t skip the step of protecting your surfaces.

NOT LETTING EACH COAT DRY LONG ENOUGH

You may need to prime your surfaces or use multiple coats of paint, but usually, due to impatience, some do not let these different coats dry for long enough. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on drying times before painting the next coats.

We hope you can avoid these common painting mistakes this winter. If you have a home renovation coming up, give Zippy Shell a call at 888-947-7974 or contact us online for a free estimate on our mobile storage options. We look forward to hearing from you!

7 Ways to Prepare Before a Home Inspection

home checklist

During the process of closing a home sale, the buyer typically hires a home inspector to identify health issues, safety issues, or major defects in the home. Things like water damage, structural damage, roof damage, electrical issues, plumbing problems, pest infestations, and HVAC issues can come out in an inspection report. Home inspectors are typically not concerned with purely cosmetic defects in a home. The home inspection report offers a deeper understanding of whether the home has been well-maintained or needs major repairs. If a buyer is not satisfied with the home’s current condition, they can request the seller address the repairs or offer a credit toward the cost of repairs at closing. A home inspection is not a pass or fail situation, but there are ways you as the homeowner can prepare for the inspection and help it go as smoothly as possible.

  • Declutter and clear access areas. The home inspector needs to have easy access to everything on the property including the attic, basement, crawlspace, electrical panels, HVAC systems, and plumbing. The home inspector being unable to access an area due to clutter or for any other reason will send a red flag to the buyers.
  • Make sure your home is pest free. A pest inspection is a separate process performed by a licensed pest inspector who’s trained to look for signs of infestations, but a home inspector can recommend a pest specialist take a closer look based on their findings.
  • Repair any water related issues. Home inspectors definitely focus on leaks and water damage. Check for leaks under sinks, around faucets, around your toilets, bathtubs, showers, and under any appliances that may leak, such as dishwashers and refrigerators. After repairing the leaks, also repair any water damage that you find. While you are looking for leaks, do a little multitasking and also check and clear any clogged drains.
  • Look over the roof. Any damaged or missing roof tiles should be repaired before the inspection. You will also want to remove any roof debris, be sure your gutters are free flowing, and trim trees that are near or hanging over the roof line.
  • Test the functionality of items in your home where the inspector will be focused. Try all the light switches and replace any burnt out bulbs, flush all the toilets, open and close all the windows, run all ceiling and bathroom fans, make sure all pilot lights are lit, and replace the furnace filter.
  • Be prepared to show paperwork with documentation of all maintenance and repairs you’ve done on your home. If you’ve had an insurance claim on your house, include those papers as well so you can prove that you took care of the problem.
  • On the day of the inspection, make plans to be out of the house for several hours. Make arrangements for your pets to also be out of the way. Leave any garage door or ceiling fan remotes accessible and leave any keys needed for electrical boxes or storage areas. Empty any the dishwasher and washer and dryer if they are included in the sale.

From decluttering, to preparing for a home inspection, to packing, to moving, Zippy Shell is available for all your moving and storage needs. We are ready to partner with you for an easy and stress-free move.

Common Winter Pests and What to do About them

winter pests

It may not be officially winter just yet, but it sure feels like it is. The autumn festivals and pumpkin carving with the kids feels like ages ago now that the frigid temperatures have set in. All most of us want to do is get warm and cozy in the house until it warms back up again. Unfortunately, there are quite a few pests that feel the same way. While some pests, like the ants and mosquitos, have disappeared with the appearance of cold weather, we are going to see some other ones trying to sneak into the comfort of your heated home. Take a look at some of the most common winter pests and what you can do about them.

RATS AND MICE

It is not uncommon to spot a mouse or a rat in the home throughout the winter months. They are looking for warmth, food, and water and will take up residence wherever they can find it. They can, unfortunately, carry diseases that can make humans very sick so if you suspect your home is being visited by rats or mice in the night or when you aren’t around, you should take steps to make sure they are caught. You can find a variety of solutions, including live traps, at most stores. Also important is determining the entryway point for the rodents so you can seal them. For extra assurance, keep the food in your pantry in sealed containers.

COCKROACHES

There are many different types of cockroaches, but I think we all can agree that they are pretty icky. They too look to your home for food, water, and comfortable temperatures. These little critters can get out of control very quickly, especially if they have found a treasure trove of resources. Be sure you are keeping your home clean of food, and even debris like papers and cardboard. You can try to use store-bought solutions like bait traps, but if the infestation gets too out of hand, you may need to call in a pest control specialist to rid your home of these guys.

BROWN RECLUSE AND BLACK WIDOW SPIDERS

We can sometimes see an influx of spiders in the home during the winter months, but most are often harmless. There are two spiders, in particular, that if you see in your home should cause some concern—the brown recluse spider and black widow spider. Thankfully, both of these spiders have distinct markings that make them easy to identify. The brown recluse has a violin-like shape on its back, hence the nickname “fiddleback”. The black widow spider is black with a red hourglass shape on its abdomen. Neither one of these spiders like to be around people, so take care when you disturb dark corners of the garage or rarely used areas of the house. If you were to find multiple spiders, this is another case where we would recommend a professional pest control company to treat your home. These spiders are highly venomous and should not be left in the house.

Have you had to deal with any of these pests during the cold months? Stop by our Facebook page to share your stories with our online community. We look forward to hearing from you!

How to Use Less Water in Your Home

save water

It’s always a good thing to use less energy and water in the home. Last month, we talked about ways to be more energy-efficient and to save money. This time, we will go over some ways you can decrease your water usage.

MAKE SURE NOTHING LEAKS OR RUNS

If you have a leaky faucet or toilet, you can be using far more water than you realize. There are different ways to determine if you have something leaking. First, pay attention to your toilets after you flush them. Once they refill, they should not make any noise. If it continues to run, this is using unnecessary water. You can check for leaky faucets by putting a cup under the faucets at night and checking if there is water in the cups when you get up in the morning. Don’t forget to check around the outside of the house for unexplained water or soggy ground that could be explained by a leaking exterior pipe.

INVEST IN WATER EFFICIENT APPLIANCES

This is not a cheap solution, but if you are using old appliances, you may want to consider investing in newer, more efficient appliances. New dishwashing and washing machines are made to use much less water and energy. You can also swap out your old toilets for the newer low flow or dual flush toilets to help save water.

SWAP OUT YOUR SHOWER HEADS AND FAUCET AERATORS 

If you are still using the shower heads that came with the house, you can purchase and install newer, water restricting or low-flow shower heads. An easy way to choose a water-saving shower head is by looking for a “WATERSENSE” label. This is a program run by the EPA so you know you will be choosing an efficient product. Changing out the aerators on your faucets is another DIY change you can make to use less water when using your faucets. These work to reduce the flow of water by mixing air with the water to use less without creating a noticeable change in water pressure.

JUST USE LESS WATER

This sounds obvious, but there are ways to conserve water just by making some simple changes to your daily habits. Sometimes it can take a few days to train yourself to make and stick to these changes, but we know you can do it. You can start by making sure you are never letting a faucet run when it doesn’t need to be. If you are brushing your teeth, turn the faucet off until it is time to rinse off your toothbrush. When you are shaving, you can use a cup of water to dip your razor in between shaves. Don’t handwash dishes under a running faucet; instead, fill a sink with soapy water to wash all your dishes. You can also challenge yourself to take shorter and faster showers. You can even purchase a shower timer to assist in making this difficult change.

We hope you find these tips helpful and are successful in your goal of saving water in the home. If you have any other ideas on water conservation in the home, stop by our Facebook page and share with our ZIPPY SHELL community. We would love to hear from you!

If you need flexible moving and storage solutions, give us a call at 888-947-7974 or contact us online. We can help!

5 Safety Checks for the Home

home checklist

Have you checked your home for potential hazards as we get ready to enter the winter season? Take some time this week to do a run through of these important safety checks to make sure your household has a safe and enjoyable holiday season.

  1. ENSURE YOU HAVE SAFE WALKWAYS: Not only do you want to make sure you are keeping your walkways clear of debris, you want to make sure you have everything you need to clear snow or de-ice the walkway if you live in an area where snow and ice is an issue. One of the most common injuries during the winter season is slip-and-fall accidents in the driveway or walkways.
  2. HAVE YOUR FIREPLACE AND CHIMNEY INSPECTED: It is important to have your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned each year before use. Soot and built-up creosote can cause fires that can quickly spread to the rest of the home. This can be devastating. Hire a professional to come out to your home to make sure your fireplace is safe to use this winter.
  3. REPLACE BATTERIES FOR ALL ALARMS: You should make sure that all your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms have fresh batteries and that they have all been tested to ensure each one is working properly. Working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms can be the difference between life and death in a dangerous situation like a house fire or a carbon monoxide leak.
  4. BE AWARE OF POTENTIAL WINTER HAZARDS: The winter season comes with hazards that are not an issue the rest of the year. We tend to use things that increase the risk of a house fire during the winter. Space heaters, in particular, is something that many of us use but don’t always pay attention to the warning labels. Never leave space heaters running unattended. Turn them off when you leave the house. You should also be aware that Christmas trees can be a potential flammable item in your home this winter and turn the lights off when you go to bed or you leave the house.
  5. CREATE A SAFETY PLANS AND KITS FOR POTENTIAL EMERGENCIES: Create safety plans for potential winter emergencies that everyone in the family understands. You should have escape routes in case of a fire. You should have supply kits stocked in the case of a winter snow or ice storm that could have you trapped in your home. If you have a generator that you use when the power goes out, make sure everyone understands how to safely use it. The most important thing is that everyone, including the children, know what they are supposed to do during an emergency situation.

We hope these tips help as you get ready for the winter season. If you have a move coming up, give Zippy Shell a call at 888-947-7974 or contact us online through our website. We have a variety of moving and storage options that will you flexibility for a stress-free move. We look forward to hearing from you!

5 Easy Home Enhancements

home improvement

The fall and winter season is a great time to work on the interior of your home. While it is a little cold for outdoor work, the inside can get some updates and enhancements before the new year. You don’t have to do a big remodel to see some drastic improvements in your home. Take a look at 5 of our favorite home enhancement ideas!

UPDATE YOUR FIREPLACE

If you have a fireplace in your home, you probably get a lot of use out of it throughout the winter season. Why not give it an update to create a brand-new aesthetic in your home. You can give it a new coat of paint or even add brick or stone. If you don’t already have a mantle on your fireplace, this is an easy and inexpensive way to give it an entirely new look. You will have a great place to hang your stockings this holiday season as a bonus!

GIVE YOUR FLOORING A BOOST

Whether you have carpet, tile, hardwoods, or linoleum—give your floors some extra care and attention this fall and winter. They have seen a lot of traffic over the year and could use some love. If you have a lot of carpet, hire a professional to come in and give them a good clean. Hardwoods need to be polished on occasion to restore them to their original shine. It would be a good time to go through and fill or repair any noticeable scratches as well. If you have linoleum that has seen better days, you can try to repair the worst areas or even put down some new flooring yourself.

FRESH COAT OF PAINT FOR WALLS AND TRIM

Giving your home a fresh coat of paint on the walls and trim is a dramatic way to completely revamp the look and feel of your home. It can be a big project, however, and if you don’t have time to do every room at the same time, consider tackling your most used rooms—like the living room.

RENEW YOUR CABINETS

There are a lot of ways you can renew your cabinets but painting them is an easy and affordable way to update the appearance of your kitchen. Some of our favorite cabinet colors this year are dark blues and grays.

CHANGE OUT OLD AND DATED HARDWARE

For a quick update in your home, you can change out all the doorknobs and replace the hardware on all your cabinets, drawers, and dressers. This is a fairly easy job that can probably be completed in one day, but will give your home an instant update.

How are you updating your home this fall and winter? We would love for you to share your home improvement plans with us and our online community.

If you have a move or remodel coming up, give Zippy Shell a call at 888-947-7974 or contact us online. We have a variety of moving and storage services that can fit any need.

Top 3 Fireplace Questions Answered

fire place

Nothing feels better in cold weather than the whole family curling up around a wood burning fireplace, especially during the holidays! Get ready for the snap, crackle, and pop of a cozy fire after reading the answers to these top fireplace questions.

What are the best safety practices when using a fireplace?

  • The National Fire Protection Association recommends both your chimney and fireplace be inspected for safety and cleaned annually. It is important to check for creosote build-up or blockages that could prevent smoke from escaping.
  • Make sure the area around the fireplace is clear of all flammable items such as furniture, drapes, books, or magazines.
  • Always use a fire screen or fireplace doors to contain sparks from your fireplace.
  • Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Make sure it is completely out before going to bed or leaving the house.
  • Install both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Test them monthly and change the batteries at least twice a year.

What is the best way to clean out a wood burning fireplace?

In addition to the annual heavy duty cleaning of the chimney, you will want to regularly clean out your fireplace to keep it burning cleanly. Wait at least 12 hours after your last fire before attempting to clean a fireplace in order to give the ashes and embers a chance to fully cool down. Wear old clothes, gloves, a face mask, and protective eyewear to keep the soot from irritating your lungs and skin. Lay a plastic tarp or old sheet in front of the fireplace to catch the mess. Using a handheld broom, sweep any soot and ash from the floor and walls of your fireplace and collect it into a dustpan. Dump the ash into a heavy duty paper or plastic bag as you work. Do this gently to keep as much dust as possible from flying around. Vacuum the area to catch any remaining dust, but don’t forget to clean the vacuum brush attachment afterwards – you don’t want to spread soot around the rest of your home! Now it is time to scrub. Water and hearth cleaner work well for the brick and iron parts of your fireplace. But if you have brick front or facing that’s more than 50 years old, just use water with a light scouring. Old brick is more susceptible to crumbling. For marble and stone, scrub with water and dishwashing detergent. Use old rags to wipe each area after scrubbing. The glass doors can be cleaned with a 50-50 solution of water and vinegar.

What is the best method for building a fire in a wood fireplace?

The first step is choosing the right wood. Use seasoned hardwood that has been split and dried for at least six months, but preferably for a year. Burning new wood is not recommended as it can cause more creosote buildup in your chimney. To prevent smoke from billowing into your home, be sure the damper is open. Next, crumble balls of newspaper and place them underneath the grate. Lay some dry kindling in a criss-cross pattern on top of the grate to ignite from the newspaper. Finish the stack by securely resting one to three dry logs over the kindling. Prime the flue by tightly rolling up a sheet of newspaper and holding it toward the open damper for a minute or two until you see the smoke going up the flue. Now light that glorious fire from the bottom! We hope answering these fireplace questions will help you get cozy this fall and winter. If you have a move coming up, contact us at Zippy Shell. We would be happy to discuss our storage and moving services and provide you with a free estimate.