Upgrading Your Home to a Smart Home


26 November 2018

Home Improvement

Smart Home

It seems like a thing of the future; something reminiscent of sci-fi films set on spaceships, complete with large, omniscient motherboard computers. But having a smart home controlled by virtual voice command technology is very much a thing of the present. With the release of Apple’s Siri technology in 2011, the virtual assistant game was changed. The ability to give commands verbally to an in-device personality, Siri, opened the door for easier, more productive living. Now with Amazon and Google joining the race, and other companies following suit, there’s suddenly a whole heap of new virtual assistant options.

Moving away from purely phone/tablet based assistants, the market now includes home-based alternatives. Google Home or Amazon’s Echo (complete with assistant Alexa) allows users to turn their space into “smart homes”, wherein with a simple verbal command, they can instruct their assistant to perform all kinds of tasks around the home, such as turning lights on and off.

There are also some things you should be careful about. According to Lendi smart home can be targeted by hackers since the whole house is connected via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

Some of the best things include While upgrading Smart Home:

  • Controlling lights
  • Changing a home’s temperature
  • Playing music
  • Opening/closing garage doors

There are loads more options you can choose from, and third-party capabilities you can put in place (Amazon’s Alexa can perform over 10,000 tasks!), like creating lighting sensors, or scheduling changes to your lights, alarms, and thermostat.

Virtual voice assistants also signal a massive change in the lives of people living with disabilities or illness. The chance to utilise voice commands to perform everyday tasks removes the barrier that mobility issues and physical impairment create. For able-bodied people, virtual assistants are a cool new way to increase productivity and promote convenience. Consider then the massive improvement this technology can make in the lives of people living and thriving with disabilities. The extra support can be life-changing. All in all, another point scored for the virtual assistants’ pros list.

So, the basic gist is that having your house properly set up as a smart home is awesome and opens you up to a heap of benefits. However, setting the system up can be confusing.

You’ll largely need to consider two things:

Choosing your assistant:

The main players that hold the monopoly on the smart home/virtual assistant market are Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Google’s Assistant. They all have their pros and cons, and your choosing which one suits you best is ultimately a matter of personal preference. They all offer easy-to-use voice commands, but there are several different things to consider when deciding on an assistant:

  • Price
  • Capabilities (what can you do/control?)
  • Compatibility with Android or Apple products
  • Ease of set-up (how long and difficult is it to get running?)
  • Ease of use (Is it perceptive and easy to talk to?)
  • Assistant’s intelligence (How easily and well it can answer questions.)

Choose your hardware:

After deciding on your virtual assistant, you’ll need physical hardware to support it. Each different assistant offers different options, like the Amazon Echo. They too have their pros and cons. There are also different models of each hardware device, so there are multiple cost, sound and utility options. Your hardware largely depends on which assistant you choose, so that will also narrow down your options.

The last important thing to think about when considering the purchase of a virtual voice assistant is your internet’s performance. If you’re having to use your phone’s personal hotspot at home because your connection is slow and temperamental, perhaps think about changing your home internet’s carrier or plan. You’ll need to choose a reliable broadband connection to run and use your assisting device, and you may need to research bandwidth, and how this affects how well your devices stream content and perform commands.

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I enjoy writing and I write quality guest posts on topics of my interest and passion. I have been doing this since my college days. My special interests are in health, fitness, food and following the latest trends in these areas. I am an editor at Content Rally.

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Remodeling Tips for New Homeowners

Remodeling Tips for New Homeowners

Everyone has their reason for embarking on a home remodeling project, but the thrill remains the same, especially as a new homeowner. Perhaps, you want to improve the value of your home or want it to fit your style? Regardless, it's an exciting project that comes with a lot of work— sometimes more than bargained. It can be devastating to embark on a remodeling project only to realize halfway that it's unachievable. So, whether you will be getting the assistance of a remodeling company or you'll be handling this project alone, here are five tips you should know before starting. 1. Try to ask for help: It takes more than a pair of jeans and a well-equipped toolbox to produce quality work on a renovation project. First off, as an amateur, certain tools aren't suitable for you. Secondly, YouTube tutorials may not always have all the answers and solutions you need. So, except remodeling is something you have years of experience in, don't shy away from asking for help. A simple Google search should come in handy in this respect. For example, if you live in Houston, Texas, a quick search for Houston, Tx remodeling company should deliver some viable results. 2. Make a priority list: While some people can afford to stay in hotels during home renovations, you may not have that luxury and will have to keep living in your home during the renovation. The best way to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the home renovation process is to tackle time-sensitive projects first, like water damage or a leaking roof. Additionally, areas of the house you use frequently should be a top priority. That way, you can still go about your daily life even though your home is under renovation. 3. Set a budget: Contrary to what some TV shows make us believe, remodeling a house can run your account dry, especially if you don't have an accurate budget. So, the next step after drawing out a plan would be to determine your budget and financing. Although budgeting isn't the most fun thing to do (as it requires you to find a balance between the available finance and your dream design), it's an essential part of the remodeling process because it helps you gauge your expectations. Your budget should ideally include everything from the costs for permits to building materials, labor, painting, and cosmetic touch. It's easier to stick to your budget if it's accurate. So, make sure you get a contractor to review it or request cost estimates from professionals. You can look up companies in the Houston area that offer free estimate and consultation services to save costs here. 4. Remember the big picture: When taking up a remodel project, it's essential always to keep the big picture in mind. Remember that energy costs, water bills, and repair expenses can add up quickly in the future. So, make sure you include them all in your plan. Furthermore, since you're remodeling, you may want to invest in sustainable appliances that respect resources and support sustainable living. This is especially vital for a bathroom renovation. This area of the home can spike up your future heating and water costs. In a nutshell, you need to consider ways to save money both now and in the future; your bank account will thank you for these decisions in years to come. 5. Don't focus solely on design: Sure, many of us have a design that fits our style in mind before embarking on a remodel project. Perhaps, it's your kitchen, bedroom, or study that concerns you. However, you'll have to find a balance between getting the design you want and maintaining functionality. Many contemporary homes now blend functionality with design. For instance, if you have a small kitchen space, you may want to consider forfeiting some fixtures like the planning desk that no one really uses. That way, you save on space and maintain functionality. Read Also: Home Improvement Hacks to Add to Your Space Ideas for Modern Flooring Designs for Home Improvement Plans 6 Interior Design Tips to Make Your House a Home


Avoid these 4 Mistakes during Multi Family Housing Renovation

Given the volatile nature of the economy, the demand for affordable housing has increased by leaps and bounds. Consequently, multifamily housing investors are facing stiff competition. Multifamily housing investors are not leaving a stone unturned to turn a profit from their existing or newly acquired rental properties. Many of them are undertaking occupied property renovation programs to gain a competitive edge. Renovating a rental property not only adds value to the existing property but also plays a key role in influencing renter’s willingness to rent more for the property. That being said, when investing in any construction or renovation of occupied property, it is important to come up with a plan that helps you realize seizable returns from your investment. Read also: Kitchen Renovations Must be Done at Regular Intervals This blog post lists four common mistakes that multifamily housing investors/owners must avoid to make the most out of occupied property renovation program. Read on! Going for the Cheapest Bid Once you have decided to get your multi-family rental property renovated, the first thing you need to do is to approach several contractors and ask for their renovation quotes. Though the cheapest bid may sound enticing to many, choosing it may cost heavy on your pocket in the long run. A contractor may not be efficient in getting the job done or may cut corners and use poor quality material during the job. That being said, straight away going for an expensive bid is not a sensible decision either. To pull off a great deal, you must contact at least two to three contractors and get written estimates from each. Ensure there is no hidden cost involved in the project. Hiring the Wrong People Renovating a rental property is a complex process, and therefore, requires professional assistance. Before embarking on the renovation project, the professional contractor conducts due diligence to help control cost and eliminate potential obstacles down the lane. Nonetheless, as a property owner, you should not overlook the little details about the people you are hiring. There have been instances of fraudulent renovation practices in the past, which is why it is important to hire a reputable contractor and ask for their certification or record of their previous work. Bossing Around Though many housing contractors work in collaboration with property owners to provide customized renovation services, many property owners are in a habit of poking their nose in every step of the project. Making changes every now and then in the middle of the project can delay the renovation project, thereby stalling the rentability of the units. Always remember that you have chosen an experienced contractor with a record of successful projects in the past. It is important to let your contractor do what they think is best for your business. Having said that, it is also important to keep a check on what is being done so far and what is about to be done to complete the project. Setting Unrealistic Budget Budget plays an important role in the completion of your rental property renovation project. Before hiring professional multifamily, it is important to have contingent fund ready to meet unprecedented needs in the middle of the project. In projects as big as multifamily housing renovation, it is likely that you may want to spend a little extra to add value to your project. That’s when having a contingency budget in place ensures seamless renovation. Read also: Home Decor is an Art Itself – Things To Know Wrapping up A properly planned and executed multi-family housing program not only helps you gain a competitive edge, but also helps you achieve your ROI goals. Always hire a reputable contractor, known to provide quality services. Go through their work portfolio to get an idea of their previous work. Lastly, ensure that there are no hidden fees involved in the project, before you sign on the dotted line. Read More: Additional Ways To Keep Your Home Warm 6 Expert Tips For Finding The Right Home To Buy What Makes A Strong Foundation For Your Home 7 Ways To Reduce Common Allergens In Your Home

Cleaning Your Home

Cleaning Your Home with Pets – The Most Common Problems

For most of us, pets are a part of the family, we love them, talk to them and generally pamper them. However, they don’t always return the favor by behaving as we would want them to – after all, they are animals and different species, so some of their habits and instincts may clash with our ideas. Professional maids and cleaners from That’s Clean Maids share some of the most common issues that pet owners come across and how to deal with them in terms of cleaning your home. Hairs, Hairs Everywhere Probably one of the biggest concerns for people who live with pets are hairs; no matter how long your pets’ hair is, they will shed, and you will need to clean it out of your carpets and furniture. This can become even more problematic if a member of the family develops an allergy to animal hair. One way to ensure a reduced amount of hair needs to be cleaned out of your furniture is to groom your pet regularly. The frequency of grooming can depend on the species and breed of your pet, as well as the season and other factors. One thing is certain, though – with proper grooming, your pet will shed less on your carpet and furniture, making cleaning so much easier. Air Quality Concerns Another related issue is the air quality in your home. There are numerous things that can affect the quality of air in your home, and pet hair and pet dander are a part of it. Animals, just like humans shed skin cells and hair, and it is not much you can do about it. What you can do, however, is change your cleaning routines and habits to counteract the problem of pet dander and hair. Once again, this issue is not a big problem for most people, but particularly cleanliness-oriented people, as well as those with allergies, may be interested in this one. Keeping your pets away from areas where you sleep is a good start, but you should also make sure to vacuum the house regularly, as well as keep the air conditioning unit in good condition. That means cleaning the vents and changing the air filter as often as the manufacturer recommends. Ensure Your Pets Don’t Bring In Dirt If you have a dog, you need to walk them regularly, and that means going out. Cats can be strictly indoor animals, or they can have access to the great outdoors. With both dogs and outdoor cats, there’s one thing you should be wary of – dirt they can bring in on their paws. Dirt is seldom just dirt, it can also be full of pathogens that you would rather not have in your home. When it comes to dogs, the issue can be quite simple – wipe their paws with a wet wipe (one suitable for pets, of course), and you are good unless they rolled around in the mud or something. On the other hand, cats are much more independent and come and go as they please. Still, you can put a little disinfecting tray in front of the cat flap (once again, make sure that the solution is not harmful to your pet). Scratches on the Floor and Furniture Cats need to scratch things as a part of their instinct. If you don’t provide a scratching post, chances are that your furniture will suffer for it. Similarly, dogs whose claws are not trimmed can do quite a lot of damage to your hardwood floors. In order to mitigate those problems, keep your pets’ claws trimmed, and give your cat plenty of things to scratch. Read Also: Top Home Cleaning Tips Home Maintenance Plans And Cleaning Tips During Covid-19 How Cleaning Helps Us Feel Better and Why We Don’t Do It