Many families have made the decision to settle down with a real estate purchase in Oceanside over the years, but the residential needs of a family can change over time. For example, a couple may be fine in a smaller home before they have children, but a growing family may force them to look for more space or a different home layout.

Other families may simply have lived in a home for so long that the structure’s style or décor has become outdated. You may feel the desire to tackle some home improvements in your Oceanside family residence now, but you may also be wondering how you can make the process faster to complete and easier on your family.

There are a few key tips you can follow to enjoy excellent results from your project and place minimal stress on your family.

The right contractor

When you’re ready to get started on your Oceanside home improvement project, you’ll have to find a reputable general contractor as your initial step. The right contractor will probably be the one who has experience and a lengthy list of references.

Some builders have experience with smaller projects, and others have considerably more experience with larger projects. The best contractor for your needs is the one who has experience working on family homes and who can recommend strategies to minimize the inconvenience to your family.

The contractor may also have a solid reputation for completing work promptly, and that’s important because you don’t want your project drag out unnecessarily long.

Make a plan

Before you embark on a home improvement project in Oceanside, you would be wise to outline the scope of your project. This will help you to plan your project with your contractor and ensure that all parties proceed on the same page.

It’s also a good thing for you to define your own ideas, pick out supplies and materials, and think about smaller or side projects that you could have your contractor consider doing for you. Your plan may be rather basic, but you’ll find it’s more effective when it’s detailed.

Establish a budget

Another important step to take when preparing for your Oceanside home improvement project involves establishing a firm budget for your project. One of the events that can make your project take much longer to finish involves running out of funds or failing to budget properly.

When you create a detailed budget up front, you can ensure that you have all the funds necessary to complete the work in a timely manner. This will ensure that the project is performed in the most efficient manner possible.

The completion of a home improvement project in your Oceanside home will make your home more stylish and more functional, it is hoped, but the process of completing a project can be stressful on a family. You can take these initial steps to lay the groundwork for a fast and efficient home improvement job. These tips will help you to enjoy the end result of your efforts more quickly.


Follow these money-saving tips to beautify your home’s exterior without draining your wallet.

1. Turn your front door into a work of art

People’s eyes are automatically drawn to the front door. So adding a little pizzazz to it as well as the surrounding entryway is a great way to enhance curb appeal.

That doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy a new one. Try painting your front door in an exciting, trendy color that will complement the entire exterior of your home.

Ideally, the front door should contrast with everything else since it’s the star of the show. If the overall color of your home is fairly neutral, paint your door a bold contrasting color to set it off.

Add some unique, interesting numerals for the house address and beautiful potted plants, or update your exterior lighting, to enhance the appeal.

2. Wash your exterior

Once the inside is clean, you can start on the outside of your home. Grab your garden hose and turn the nozzle to its strongest setting.

Start blasting debris off the front of your home, driveway, and sidewalks. Don’t have your own power washer? No problem. You can rent one.

Also, be careful around windows and doorways if the pressure on the washer is particularly strong.

3. Make your windows shine

Washing your windows both inside and out will have a huge impact on your home’s appeal. Though it may seem like a lot of work, the end result might inspire you to maintain this level of clean.

Wash the outside windows with a garden hose in order to remove dirt and debris. Super-clean them with a sponge by using a mixture of vinegar and warm water, which will really make them sparkle.

4. Update your outdoor lighting

Little things like updating your light fixtures can really lift the look of your home and enhance its curb appeal. It might not seem like much, but little things like changing out a light fixture can make a huge difference.

If it’s not in your budget to buy new lighting, cleaning up what’s existing and painting the fixture may do the trick. Little touches like these speak volumes.

5. Tend your flower beds

Nothing says “home sweet home” like a well-groomed flower bed. It presents a lot of color, class, and appeal. However, if your beds are full of yard waste, weeds, or other unsightly debris, they quickly lose their charm.

Try adding a few bags of colorful mulch to your garden beds. Not only will that freshen up the beds, but it will keep the plant foliage moisturized as well.

6. Manicure your lawn

Maintaining a fresh-cut, well-manicured lawn is one of the top ways to boost your curb appeal. Take the time to fertilize and cut your grass properly on a regular basis.

If your home is on the market, and your yard is uncared for and full of weeds, it’s likely that any potential buyers will simply drive away. If the outside doesn’t look good, why would they care to look inside?

Incorporating a few of these budget-friendly projects will not only significantly enhance your curb appeal but add value as well.

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Thinking about selling your home this year or just want to spruce it up? Many homeowners address the inside but sometimes neglect the outside.

If your home is on the market, keep in mind that the first thing a prospective buyer sees is the exterior or facade of your home. So it’s a good idea to make a good and lasting first impression.

Here are some home improvement projects for you to tackle this year both inside and out.

1. Add a patio or deck

No matter what part of the country you live in, buyers are always looking for extra outdoor living space. Renovating your outside space can recoup as much as 70% of your investment, just by adding a beautiful wood deck.

Already have outdoor space? Try raising the ambiance by incorporating an outdoor fireplace, interesting water feature, or lush new landscaping.

2. Replace or refurbish your front door

Does your front door stand out and show off your home? A fresh, updated new door makes a lasting impression on neighbors, visitors, and potential buyers. You’ll likely recoup roughly 80% of your investment if you’re buying a new one.

If your budget is tight, consider painting it with a trendy color that complements the rest of your home.  Details such as new hardware can make a huge difference as well.

3. Remodel your kitchen

One of the first rooms a prospective buyer will look at is your kitchen. Kitchens can either make or break a sale, depending on how well they’re updated and designed.

If you intend to sell your home soon, it’s wise not to overspend. If you can only do a couple of improvements, they can be as simple as painting the cabinets or upgrading the light fixtures to create a better atmosphere.

4. Add more space

Adding on to your home will clearly depend on your budget and ultimate goals. However, adding extra space always increases the equity in your home, whether you renovate an attic or expand existing living space. Turning an unused attic into a bedroom will usually recoup as much as 70% of your dollars.

5. Replace your windows

Home buyers are not only interested in the visual appearance of windows but their level of energy efficiency. Replacing worn-out, old wooden or vinyl frames will significantly boost the overall value of your home, especially if they are Energy-Star rated.

6. Freshen up your home with new window treatments

Nothing lowers the atmosphere in a room quicker than outdated, mismatched, and ugly window treatments. The best window treatments complement the rest of the room while letting in as much natural light as possible.

Also, window hardware says a lot about the style and feel of a room in general. Many people overlook this aspect, but it’s very important as an expression of high-end design. Good design is always in the details.

Implementing some of the above ideas in your home will not only increase its value but make you proud to call it home.


People often complain about high utility bills. But with just a few home improvements you can save a great deal of money and energy. Here are the top 10 energy-saving tips for your home and wallet.

1. Seal your ducts

When it comes to forced-air cooling and heating systems, ducts have the job of transmitting cold or hot air to various areas of your home. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) estimates that nearly 20% of the air is wasted through leaks. This problem can be easily addressed by repairing leaks with duct sealant.

2. Insulate your upstairs

Adding insulation upstairs can steady the temperature of your home throughout the year. The Alliance to Save Energy’s president claims that nearly half of all the homes in the U.S. are under-insulated. This problem is easily corrected by insulating the areas that need it.

3. Call an energy professional for an audit

It’s hard to know where to save money and energy if you don’t know what needs improvement. An expert energy professional will help you figure out which areas of your home can be improved. An energy audit is a superb way for homeowners to determine which areas of their home need attention so they can take the measures to address them.

4. Install a thermostat you can program

A programmable thermostat is a great way to conserve energy. It can save as much as 10% on your cooling and heating bills and pay for itself in a matter of months. You can program it to adjust the temperature at night while you sleep, while you’re on vacation, or when you’re at work.

5. Install storm windows

Storm windows are less expensive than an entire set of new windows. Essentially, they are a cost-saving alternative. However, if your existing windows are in fairly good shape, adding new storm windows is a fast way to boost the overall energy efficiency of your home without breaking the bank. You won’t have to deal with the mess of a huge window renovation.

6. Install eco-friendly doors

If you want to change your door to a more energy-efficient model, avoid buying the hollow metal type. They’re awful for saving energy since air easily filters through them. Check with your local contractor or home improvement store on which doors have the best energy-efficient ratings.

7. Use a high-efficiency water heater

High-efficiency water heaters are great for lowering expenses. The cost to heat water is anywhere between 15 and 25% of your overall annual energy usage. Switching to a more high-efficiency model will save a great deal of money over time.

8. Seal your leaks

Sealing leaks that allow cold air to seep in is one of the most important steps in creating an energy-saving home. When heat leaks out, it’s like throwing money out the window. Such leaks are typically found at doors and windows. But you can find them in the attic or basement as well.

9. Upgrade to energy-efficient windows

Replace your old leaky windows with energy-efficient ones. Contractors generally recommend wood.

10. Replace old heating and cooling systems

Consider replacing your old HVAC system with a more modern energy-saving model that will greatly reduce your energy bills. Before you do, make sure your home is well insulated and properly sealed.

Each of these home improvement steps will save you hundreds of dollars while boosting the overall value of your home.


A La Jolla, California property owner is continuing a longer-than-a-decade battle to keep a portion of his property off-limits to the general public, citing safety concerns. The property in question sits at the base of Princess Street in La Jolla, and a gate that once allowed public access to the adjacent beach is a part of that property.

Beach access advocates claim that it’s not right to bar access to the beach. The fight extends far beyond the current resident, however; it began in 1978.

The original construction

The property first belonged to Jane Baker, who built her home above the beach path. At the time, the construction of the gate and pathway to the beach was challenged in court, and no decision was reached about whether she was free to build her property on the land.

Before she moved away, Baker never signed a revised permit to allow public access, even though the California Coastal Committee (CCC) had reached a decision requiring public access once the pathway and gate’s building permit was granted. When Baker left the property, she notified the next resident, Chris McKeller, that he should observe the CCC’s requirement and allow access.

The lineage of legal issues

McKeller took ownership of the property in 1989, but he didn’t allow public access to the beach through the gate. While he didn’t fight the access requirement directly, he didn’t do as Baker had advised and honor the CCC’s mandate to keep the pathway open to the public.

In 1993 the current owner, Ure Kretowicz, acquired the property through a foreclosure. He has taken a dramatically different approach to the issue for the last decade, and choosing fought it head on.

However, Kretowicz claims that his concern is not primarily the property owner’s rights, but the safety of people who would use the path. Others in the community seem to agree that the path is not safe.

Who has a right to what?

Beach access advocates are currently fighting to have the gate open to public access, and the current owner has fought this for more than a decade. It does raise an interesting question, not only for residents but for real estate professionals in the La Jolla area, as well as homeowners everywhere.

It even raises legal questions of national import of who has a right to what. The local judge has already cleared the way for the path to be opened, but if the property owner’s safety concerns prove to be valid, will he be liable for injuries?

Does the public’s right to gain access to beaches and other public land take priority over a homeowner’s control of his property? Does a homeowner have the right to build on land that is under consideration as a potential site of government construction?

If the homeowner wins the legal battle, what will that mean for the future of public access cases? And if public-access advocates win, will that change other aspects of the rights of homeowners? Will it change how real estate is practiced and how properties are bought and sold?

These questions have all been stirred by the La Jolla beach access case. While the real estate in question is only one home in southern California, the precedent created when the case is finally settled could change home ownership (and the rights of homeowners) in California, and perhaps across the country.


The art of creating quality writing that will appeal to readers can be a long process that involves endless revisions and then marketing to promote the results. The traditional method of publishing involved going through either an agent or some other small agency that provided the means to contact a potential publisher.

Conditions for the writer have changed, especially because of the Internet, and a great number of not only beginning but experienced authors are tapping into the process of self publishing and technology. According to several seasoned, self-published authors, you have to consider two things: the channel of distribution and the format to which it is linked.

Bundling a print book with eBook formats that can be made available on most e-readers is regarded as the most promising basis for a strong reader market.

Art merges with technology

If you’ve been around a while, you might recall the early days of the eBook. Scouring through online text or reading variants of ASCII formats on dedicated black-and-white spaces was a common reader experience for years.

The current eBook has evolved into what can be a multimedia reading experience. Several recent advances have made digital publishing the method of choice for self-publishing authors from a variety of contexts.

Online referencing

Nonfiction pieces are beginning to use the power of strong HTML5 embedding technology to link the text to more thorough explorations of content. For example, a self-published gardening eBook may contain an interactive link in the text to customized charts and advanced gardening tool apps.

Enhanced eBook technology is quickly becoming a widely used format for creating a rich learning experience. According to UX Magazine, newer textbooks may be able to embed self-tests in chapters that include more authentic scoring methods for students.

Fast simplicity

One of the greatest appeals of a self-published eBook is the sheer simplicity of the uploading process. Many cost-effective measures are available through self-publishing platforms that allow any writer to enter the market quickly.

The cost-effectiveness of being able to upload material in the native manuscript format has become a boon for novice writers. The flexibility of fast uploads allow users to experience what the book will look like before publication.

In the past, authors were constrained by the time lags associated with an agency or direct book publisher. Many authors also want to learn new publishing skills for themselves, especially from a marketing standpoint.

Self-publishing authors now find themselves wearing multiple hats to juggle the challenging yet liberating experience of marketing words and ideas to the general public. Authors are quickly having to become experts at social media and optimizing content for both bibliophiles and tech gurus alike.

Responding to global demand

The global demand for non-print material has grown exponentially over the past few years. Several reader platforms are gaining an international audience with the merging of multiple languages on eBook-capable reader devices.

In fact, self-published eBooks are quickly coming to dominate the market on bestseller lists. Independent authors and stores within niche sub-markets are particularly popular with eBooks.


In the past year, have you made any changes to your home? Those upgrades might qualify for tax credits so you should learn how to cash in on these benefits.

Here are several home improvements that could make a difference on your tax bill this year.

Tax breaks for energy efficiency

Certain energy-efficient upgrades can get you tax breaks. The Nonbusiness Energy Property Credit is worth up to $500 and should be claimed on your 2013 tax return.

You file the Form 5695 to take advantage of this opportunity. There’s a credit valued at $150 for a high-efficiency furnace or boiler. You can claim $300 for an air conditioner, HVAC system, or heat pump upgrade.

Replacing the windows is valued at $200. These credits are only available for your primary residence.

Modification for a loved one

If you have modified your home to make the space more comfortable for a loved one, that might be deductible from your taxes. This deduction might qualify as a medical expense.

The qualified medical expense must be justifiable as necessary and appropriate for the condition or illness. The improvements should be reasonable.

Upgrade your home with solar panels

This benefit is for new construction and existing homes where solar panels are installed. You can take advantage of this credit valued at 30 percent.

There is no maximum limit for this particular credit. The credit can be counted toward labor and installation. The caveat is that the credit must be deducted during the year the project took place. The option is available through December 31, 2016.

Build a home office

If you build a home office, it can qualify as a deduction. The office has to be used primarily for business purposes. There must be a legitimate business in operationvin order to claim the available deduction.

You can collect up to 100 percent for this project. You can also assign a percentage of your home as business and capitalize off this deduction. If 45 percent of your primary place of residence is used for business, you can deduct that from your return.

How do I know if it’s a home improvement or a repair?

The general rule of thumb is that a repair is done to make the home suitable to continue living in as a primary residence. If the repair extends the life of the property, this is viewed as an improvement that is not eligible for a credit or a deduction.

Property improvements that change the purpose of the room altogether are no longer considered improvements that are deductible. If it adds significant value to the home, then it’s regarded as a simple home improvement project.

Adding bathrooms and finishing spaces may add living space to the home, but the investment can only be recouped in the form of sale. If no sale is made, then it’s generally hard to capitalize on any home improvement if it’s not related to operating a business or energy efficiency.

You might consult with a tax professional to discuss the ins and outs of real estate as it pertains to deductions and tax breaks.


Our world runs on electronic devices today. People can no longer leave their homes without their cell phone, or go longer than an hour without checking their email accounts.

Cell phones and iPads aren’t the only electronic devices people are hooked on, either. There are many different types of electronic tools, yet the world still demands more.

Supply and demand

Not only does the world demand more electronics, but it also expects better ones. The instant one version comes out, developers are busy putting the finishing touches on the next.

Everyone wants the best of everything, and the industry answers consumers’ demands by always looking for ways in which to develop and improve newer electronic devices.

Perhaps that’s why graphene, a material that was intended for use in many electronic devices, may be on its way out in favor of other materials.

Are scientists saying farewell to graphene?

The fact that graphene could be abandoned in favor of other, supposedly “better” materials is surprising, especially since the substance was only discovered in 2010. At the time, its development was so miraculous that the two scientists who discovered it won a Nobel Prize!

Since its discovery, graphene, an excellent heat and electricity conductor, has been marked for use in a wide variety of electronic devices. Plus, research has continued to this day to find more uses for it.

Despite the popularity of graphene, it appears that many scientists are giving up on it as their new “miracle material” and are shifting their sights to other substances, such as thin sheets of molybdenum disulfide.

Some researchers think that other material, which has a similar structure to graphene, may be better for use in electronics because it can work as both a conductor and an insulator. Graphene, on the other hand, is only useful for conducting.

Researchers are theorizing that molybdenum disulfide would not only be easier to use than graphene, but would also allow for design of more energy-efficient electronics.

Other options

As if graphene didn’t have enough competition from molybdenum disulfide, other researchers are looking for still other materials that might be suitable for use in the manufacture of electronic devices. To make matters worse, some researchers are even attempting to develop their own graphite substitutes.

The closest that scientists have come to creating a new substitute for graphene is a material called “phosphorene,” made from phosphorus. Like molybdenum disulfide, phosphorene can do double duty as both a conductor and insulator.

Plus, it can be isolated in a lab, unlike molybdenum disulfide, which is only amassed through mining.

What does the future hold?

Just a few short years ago, nearly every scientific researcher or electronics manufacturer was singing the praises of graphene and calling it “the next big thing.” Now, however, it stands a good chance of being outclassed by molybdenum disulfide and/or phosphorene in electronics manufacturing … and that’s only if some newer material isn’t discovered.

The only way to know for certain what will become of graphene — whether or not it will have a major, lasting impact — is to wait and see.


What happens when ordinary people are thrust into extraordinary situations? Heineken wants to find out. In their newest social experiment, Guest of Honor, regular people are thrust into the spotlight for a night of crazy and wild adventures. Could you be that brave? Join the conversation at #guestofhonor and #openyourworld.


When cellular manufacturers embraced Bluetooth technology and created wireless headsets, businesses and professionals responded with enthusiasm.

Recently, manufacturers such as Samsung have taken that technology as the basis for smartwatches that integrate with the user’s mobile phone. This has been lauded as a similarly significant breakthrough.

Now it appears that Samsung is poised to take the next step: moving from its Galaxy handset-integrated Gear to a standalone version of the device. This new iteration of the Gear will have its own independent cellular connection to allow its operation in the absence of a mobile phone.

Work is underway in South Korea

According to reports from the Korea Herald, Samsung and SK Telecom — both companies based in South Korea — are working together to produce and release to SK Telecom subscribers an early version of the device that would have wireless connection capabilities.

Success of such a device in South Korea would likely lead to its release elsewhere, particularly given Samsung’s broad global presence.

Benefits of a stand-alone smartwatch

Like Google Glass, a stand-alone Gear product should open up novel possibilities for consumers. Considering the popular current use of smartwatches as an accessory for fitness tracking, the new Gear product would allow even more flexibility in fitness pursuits: it would allow runners, bikers, and others to leave their phone at home while continuing to receive progress reports and stay in touch during training.

This kind of use would seem suitable for even early releases of a Samsung smartwatch or similar technology from any other company, because the limited use would not be overly taxing for a small device, and would not require any of the advanced features that are at least currently possible only on a smartphone.

Where would smartwatches fit into our digital arsenals?

Given the early state of smartwatch technology, it would be unreasonable to expect that such devices, even with stand-alone cellular and wireless connectivity capability, would be suitable replacements for mobile devices.

One major obstacle cannot be remedied in any practical way. Most people enjoy the large amount of screen real estate provided by the latest smartphones, and any smartwatch that attempted to replicate the screen size of a phone would be comically large and unwieldy.

However, if the capabilities of wearable technology expand and can replicate at least some of the smartphone experience, people may feel more comfortable keeping their smartphones at home or out of sight. Additionally, sleek smartphones might become secondary to tablets (or at least tablet-sized smartphones).

Manufacturers and users would be more likely to embrace larger screens and less portability on such devices. Users would more likely lean on their smartwatch for daily use and reserve phones and tablets for more intense activities such as business projects, marketing and management, website creation, or reading long articles, as opposed to scrolling through Twitter, texting and messaging, and speaking to friends and family.

One thing is certain: The price of such devices will have to decrease before they can become more widely embraced, particularly while their capabilities remain comparatively limited.


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