Home Improvement 101: Going Beyond Backyard Basics

home improvement concept The real estate market in the United States has been on a rebound since the dreaded 2008 recession which is good news for realtors, homeowners and home hunters! In fact, the latest REALTORS® Confidence Index report, published in June by the National Association of Realtors®, found that the real estate climate remained strong in many local markets. Also noted in the report, Realtors are strongly confident about the real estate outlook over the next six months.

However, homebuyers are facing a tight inventory on the market.  This is subjecting millennials (ages 25 – 34 years old), the largest portion of homebuyers accounting for 32% of all buyers, to a house hunting challenge. And interestingly enough, millennials make up 68% of first-time homebuyers which shows a generational shift. The reason as to why the market is tight and challenging for homebuyers may be due to the fact that current homeowners are opting to take on home improvement projects rather than selling their house.

Big Boxed Gains

Two national home improvement stores, Lowes and Home Depot, experienced an increase in their stock prices by 40% compared to last year’s numbers according to a recent article from US News. What does this mean? More people are hitting the stores to purchase supplies and materials for home improvement projects. And given the massive jump, home improvement stores took in revenue of $144 billion in 2014 which is safe to assume this year’s profits are expected to be more. But out of all the major chains and over 5,300 stores across the nation, Ace Hardware took the win for the highest customer satisfaction.

What Are Homeowners Improving?

backyard kitchen Statistics from a three-year period, 2009 to 2011, show that homeowners spent a total of $359 billion on home improvement projects. These numbers indicate that homeowners are willing to spend a few dollars to improve their houses and the improvement movement is booming; just in 2012, they spent $284 billion. But that’s not all – figures from 2014 were reported at $303 billion and 2015 is expected to exceed $320 billion according to the Home Improvement Research Institute. This begs the question: what projects are homeowners taking on?

For starters, the average amount spent on all home improvement projects came to $3,200 where 57% of owner-occupied housing units made improvements (43.7 million housing units out of 76.1 million). Of those homeowners who decided to take on home improvement projects, 37% were do-it-yourselfers and 63% hired professionals. While there were plenty of renovations that involved various interior updates, approximately 20 million projects that took place were exterior improvements. About 20% of those projects consisted of backyard upgrades such as patios, detached decking, outdoor kitchens, landscaping and more.

More homeowners are turning their backyards into year-round living spaces with things like fire pits, speaker systems, lighting and anything else you can imagine. Outdoor cooking spaces are among the most popular improvements that include high-end grills with grill covers, counters with storage, hidden mini-fridges and covered decking. It’s without a doubt that backyards are no longer that drab space behind your house because homeowners are taking them to the next level.

Not to mention, real estate experts agree that renovating your backyard will be a distinguishing factor if you decide to place it on the market. If two homes are for sale in the same area that are similar in size, the one with the stellar backyard can be expected to sell faster and first.

Are you ready to improve your backyard’s appeal and function with the above trends? Start designing your backyard paradise and let Creative Covers create a custom grill cover to protect your new investment!


 

Sources:

  • http://www.realtor.org/reports/realtors-confidence-index
  • http://www.ibisworld.com/industry/default.aspx?indid=1031
  • https://www.hiri.org/?page=Media
  • http://www.statista.com/topics/1732/home-improvement/
  • http://www.census.gov/how/pdf/home_improvements_text.pdf
  • http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2015/08/05/why-millennials-are-dominating-the-housing-market
  • http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/mutual-funds/articles/2015/07/27/why-lowes-and-home-depot-stock-is-soaring

3 Tips for Beating the Weather as an Outdoor Vendor

shutterstock_254989831The summer is in full effect and everyone everywhere is enjoying everything the season has to offer! This prime time is the perfect opportunity for outdoor vendors and merchants to capitalize on the influx of shoppers. Even though the sun may be shining, the weather can drastically change in a moment’s notice and that means you have to be prepared for anything Mother Nature throws at you. Whether you run your business under a tent or with a pop-up cart, protection from the elements is crucial because you can’t afford the risk of damaged or ruined merchandise. So what can you do to protect your outdoor business.

  1. Weather Check

One of the most important things you can do every day before you open up shop is check the weather! While the summer is generally a sunny season, it is also susceptible to precipitation that can vary from a light and quick drizzle to an intense and lengthy thunderstorm. Depending on the days’ outlook, prepare to be either opened or closed during certain times of the day. As a general rule of thumb, view hour-by-hour conditions and make the best judgement call before you set everything up.

  1. Custom Equipment Cover

Is your outdoor business operated on a cart, kiosk, table or tent? Whichever kind of set up you have, you must always be mindful of how your merchandise could be affected by a quick change in weather conditions. It’s a fact that the weather forecast can instantly change which makes it extremely important to have outdoor equipment covers to protect your business and products. By having equipment covers readily available, you can turn your business from open to close just as fast as the weather changes. This is very beneficial because you won’t have to run around with merchandise in hand to find it protection.

  1. Storage, Storage & More Storage

As another safeguard against unpredictable weather, make sure you have rainproof storage boxes, large plastic tubs (with lids) and plastic bags. In the event it starts to downpour while your outdoor shop is open, you can quickly place merchandise and products into these storage solutions. Additionally, the plastic tubs and boxes can act as display tables and overflow storage for products.

Stave Off the Cold With Winter Grilling

It may be winter, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be enjoying the outdoors. One of the most relaxing outdoor activities is firing up the grill and cooking up some mouth-watering, food-coma inducing food. Of course that normally happens in the spring, summer, and fall because you’re able to be outside when the weather’s a bit milder. However, a true grill enthusiast will even bear the brunt of the colder weather to enjoy cooking on the grill.

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Many people may write off cooking on the grill off as nothing special, or when they hear you’re grilling simply think of hot dogs and hamburgers. It’s always disappointing to hear others only think of that when they hear those words because there is so much more to cooking on a grill. Personally, we enjoy cooking on a charcoal grill because of the flexibility and type of options it provides for cooking and flavoring your food. You can use all kinds of woods, such as White Cedar, Golden Birch, Wild Apple, and many more for flavoring all kinds of seafood and meat. Each one has its own distinctive flavor which adds a unique flair to the food you’re preparing.

Caring For Your Grill

Regardless of what kind of grill you do decide to cook on, be sure you have a protective grill cover for when it’s not in use. It’s a shame to see a grill become damaged by the elements or sometimes curious animals.

 

Cooking With Wood
Now when it comes down to cooking with wood, there’s a couple ways to do it and it depends on how long you’ll be cooking for and what you’re cooking. If you are going to be cooking for less than ten minutes it’s best to use chips of your preferred wood because they will burn faster and give you the flavoring you need in a short time for whatever you’re cooking. If you’re planning to cook for a while then using larger chunks is preferable. The large chunks will be slower to burn and last the duration of that long cookout.

Adding Flavor

For those who are feeling really adventurous and want to try adding more flavors or uniqueness to their cooking then they can soak the wood in juice or brandy. Soaking the wood puts more flavors into it so that when the wood is smoking and burning that flavor gets released and absorbed by the meat or seafood. Cooking with wood is truly a rewarding and fun experience because of how customizable it is and how delicious the results are!

So don’t let the winter’s cold keep you away from that grill, and be sure to protect it with a grill cover, so that it isn’t taking a beating in the harsh weather.

Four Great Gift Ideas for Backyard Enthusiasts

December has finally arrived and has made no short work of turning our cool autumn into a blisteringly cold winter. Fortunately, we still have the promise of warm holiday cheer on the horizon. However your friends and family choose to celebrate, the season is best known as a time for selflessness and giving.

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If you’ve been starting a shopping list, but can’t quite seem to find something for that backyard warrior in your life, remember that your gift doesn’t need to be immediately useable. Sometimes the added suspense of receiving a gift that can be used in the future is a bonus. If this fits the description of someone you still need to shop for, consider the following great ideas:

Embrace the Comfort of Nature with a Hammock

If your gift recipient is the outdoorsy type, there’s a strong chance that they love spending quiet nights under the stars. Unfortunately, busy schedules can prevent us from packing up and traveling to the local camp grounds to capture that experience. The bright side, however, is that the stars are wherever you go – including your backyard! A hammock will give that special someone the opportunity to enjoy the night sky in their favorite surroundings.

Make the Backyard More Social with Furniture

Just because they like being outside doesn’t mean they want to be separated from everyone else. In recent years our culture has shifted the social space indoors, leaving those who enjoy being outside somewhat ostracized. Giving them a nice set of chairs or a lawn table might be the perfect way to invite your social circle into the recipient’s favorite hangout spot – his yard. Not only is this a considerate gift idea, but it’s also a perfectly practical one.

Keeping things Looking Fresh with Lawn Tools

If they’re proud of their backyard, they probably put a great deal of work into it. Slaving away under the hot sun can be detrimental to one’s wellbeing, however. To show them that you care about their health, a new pair of lawn tools will leave a lasting impression. Since there are many different types of tools to choose from, you’re sure to find something they have been wanting or needing.

Getting Great Grill Accessories

An American pastime that finds its home in the backyard is the traditional act of grilling. While a new grill may be a bit out of your price range, there are many accessories for grills that are useful and affordable. Outdoor grill covers, for example, help prevent damage from weather and ensure the machine’s longevity. Best of all, they come in multiple different sizes and colors, allowing you to select the perfect match for whomever will receive it.

Winter Protection Plans for your Grill

Nothing says summer quite like getting the family and friends together for an old fashioned home-style cookout. Sharing great food cooked on your own personal grill is a pride many men and women share every year, but the unfortunate truth is that it can only last so long. Invariably the temperature begins to plummet, dramatically decreasing the desire to eat – or cook – outside. While it might not be any fun to pack away the grill for several months, failing to do so properly may very well ruin your cook out plans for next year!

Grills come in various different sizes, shapes, and prices, but more often than not they are still an investment. Though you may need to put down a few hundred dollars or more right away, you have the opportunity of enjoying years of personally grilled food. To ensure the longevity of your purchase, however, you’ll need to know how to store your grill. The best solution would be to place the unit in a large garage or storage shed where it will be protected from the elements, and not in danger of collisions from external forces. If you are lucky enough to have this advantage, you’re already one step ahead of most grilling enthusiasts. If you don’t have a spacious, clean, and dry location that will suffice, you can still protect your grill with a little creative thinking.

First, ensure that wherever your grill is going to stand that it does not rest under a tree. Many people believe this will offer additional protection from rain and snow, but don’t be fooled. Seeds, leaves, fruit, branches, and even animals descend from trees on a regular basis year round. Even if a tree is bare, a limb may break off under the weight of snow and damage your grill. Instead, try to find a location that your roof covers and station it there. If you can’t find one, place the unit against one of the larger walls of your house. This will help offer cover from the elements, and also keeps the grill out of the way while not in use.

Regardless whether you plan to store your grill indoors or out, a grill cover is an essential piece of equipment. There are many different types, ranging from indoor to outdoor grill covers, but the added layer of protection provides a safeguard from limitless threats. Water, animals, dust, and much more can be dealt with by investing in the grill cover that best matches your needs. This alone will more than double the lifespan of any grill you wish to own. If you need assistance finding the right grill cover for your own personal grill, contact your local expert today.