Carol Snider and Laura Snider Cooperman's Blog
If you work from home part or all of the time, chances are you have a specific place in your house where you go to work to be free from distraction.
Many people spend a lot of time thinking about the decor of their home office. They decide how much light they want to let in, what they need on their desk, and which distractions to keep out of the room entirely.
Surprisingly few people, however, consider the ergonomics of their home office.
What is ergonomics?
Simply stated, ergonomics is the study of people’s efficiency in the workplace. When it comes to office work or working at home, that means studying things like posture, desk height, eye strain, and much more.
In this article, we’ll talk about some ways you can improve the ergonomics of your home office to prevent injury and to make your office a more productive and less stressful place to work.
Choosing a desk chair
Let’s begin with one of the most common complaints in offices and home offices around the world: chairs.
You could spend several hundred dollars on an ergonomic office chair. But in reality it only needs to meet a few criteria that you can often find in inexpensive computer chairs. When buying a chair, look for the following:
Lower back support what will help you keep a straight spine
Adjustable heights for the chair, the backrest, and the arm rests
A firm, but comfortable cushion that you won’t slide down on
Picking the right desk
The most important ergonomic factor of a desk is that you can easily fit your legs under it and don’t have to crane over it to write.
Regardless of where you keep your keyboard, it will help if your arms can fall on it naturally and at a close to ninety-degree angle.
Screen height and distance
The vast majority of work performed at home is done with the use of a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet.
Ideally, the height of your screen should be adjusted so that you can view it straight on, and not have to look down or up at it. This will help protect your neck from strain.
For eye strain, it’s a good idea to keep the monitor a couple feet from your eyes and to adjust the brightness so that it’s easy to read but not too bright.
The best thing you can do to avoid headaches and eye strain is to set reminders for yourself to look away from the screen every twenty minutes or so or get up and go for a walk.
Take more breaks
Speaking of taking breaks; sitting in one position for too long can contribute to muscle and joint pain. If you’re working at home, it should be easy to get up and stretch or move around every half hour or so.
You don’t have to take a long break; even a minute or two is sufficient enough to help take the strain off of your tired eyes and stiff back and neck.
Home improvement to accommodate residents of all ages and physical abilities not only add convenience and safety to the home, but also make good economic sense. "Aging in place" guidelines have been formulated to assure that housing of the future is designed to meet changing needs. Open floor plans are not only trending, but offer better options for tailoring homes to individual needs.
Sustainability, energy efficiency and accessibility issues have become part of mainstream consciousness. The passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act brought sweeping changes in the realm of accessibility to public facilities and commercial buildings. It is now recognized that similar guidelines can, and should, be applied to residential development. Primary concerns focus on mobility issues, vision or hearing impairments, physical limitations and limited abilities.
Designers and builders acknowledge that homes can better serve the needs of all residents with relatively minor alterations. The current trend toward multi-generational households has driven the point home. Although toddlers and senior citizen have different requirement, minimal changes in home design will make life better for all.
Here are some basics to consider:
Minimize steps and level changes. While thresholds are necessary at exterior doors, it's important that at least one entry door is accessible to someone with difficulty walking or climbing stairs, for anyone using a walker or wheelchair, or for a resident with a vision problem. If there are interior stairs, consider an electric stair lift.
Maneuverability and Safety
Be aware of traffic patterns. Provide ample space to move about, even with a walker or wheelchair, particularly in kitchens and bathrooms. Eliminate interior halls if possible. Hallways and stairwells should ideally be at least 42 inches wide; 36-inch wide door openings are recommended. Fewer doorways mean fewer barriers in the home. Be aware of the hazards created by flooring changes.
Motion-controlled and voice-activated lighting is recommended both for home exteriors and for interior spaces. Pay special attention to safety lighting on stairs, in bathrooms, and in bedrooms. Also, note that placing electrical receptacles higher on the wall and lowering light switches is of benefit for young children and older adults alike.
Safety and Convenience
Rely on technology to create a safe home. Install security devices, smoke detectors and CO2 monitors, room-to-room communication, programmable thermostats, remote controls for blinds and window coverings, and temperature controls on faucets. Automate home systems as much as possible.
Sometimes, it's the little things that matter. Blade handles on faucets, door levers rather than round knobs, appropriate cabinets knobs and handles, comfort-height bathroom fixtures, multi-height kitchen counters, and numerous other modern home features can make for better living for all.
When building new, including universal design features typically adds great value but little or no cost to a project. Remodeling with an eye toward aging-in-place is also cost-effective and offers high ROI.
Putting your home up for sale can elicit a myriad of emotions from you and your spouse -- everything from excitement and anticipation to fear and sadness. It's only natural to feel a mixture of emotions, especially if your home represents years of memories, countless milestones, and stages of family growth.
A cautionary note to keep in mind is that it's easy to get caught up in emotion-based decisions that could derail your chances for making a fast sale.
A primary example would be pricing your home higher than it might actually be worth. Despite the fact that you've experienced great family memories there and spent tens of thousands of dollars to maintain, upgrade, and beautify your home, those factors usually do not translate into a sale price that exceeds the property's appraised value. Your perspective, which may be based on subjective criteria, such as all the "blood, sweat, and tears" you put into your house -- not to mention the "TLC" that went into it -- does not hold water in the minds of would-be buyers.
What Does Determine a Home's Value?
The unvarnished truth is that the value of your home is mostly based on prevailing market conditions, the price at which comparable homes in your neighborhood recently sold, and what the market will bear. Effectively setting a price that will bring in the most money without driving away qualified and otherwise-interested buyers is a delicate balance. The homeowner rarely has the objectivity or the specialized knowledge to accurately set the right price. That's where real estate agents comes in, and why it's advisable to sell your home through a licensed agent, rather than attempting a "For Sale By Owner" approach.
Minimizing Bumps in the Road
A good real estate agent will work on your behalf to effectively market your home, collaborate with other agents in the area to schedule showings and spread the word about your listing, and advise you on ways to improve both the curb appeal of your home and its interior appearance. Your agent can also provide indispensable negotiating help, as well as guidance about seller disclosure requirements and other government regulations.
The bottom line is that real estate agents are well-versed in the intricate process of listing, marketing, and selling residential property. Since there are a lot of forms to sign, deadlines to meet, agreements to reach, and formalities to handle, those are among the many sound reasons to enlist the help of a professional.
Although the process of selling a residential property often involves delays, setbacks, and obstacles, most real estate agents are quite adept at solving problems and getting past difficulties. In addition to the marketing, networking, and strategizing they're doing on your behalf, a good agent can also be counted on to provide you with regular progress reports and boost your spirits when you're feeling discouraged.
When it comes to home improvement, renovations, upgrades and expansions, seek the assistance of a professional. Why do you need a pro? Unless you built your home yourself, you might not understand all the factors that combine to engineer a house such as the electrical needs to support the load and the cubic footage the HVAC must handle. Get one of these wrong, and your home becomes less efficient. In the end, that can end up costing you more than hiring the pro in the first place.
Here are some areas a professional touch improves the project exponentially.
Adding a Room
When creating an addition to your home, there’s more to it than building out the footprint and then connecting it. To pass code inspections, your addition needs to tie into all the systems in your home, including plumbing, electrical and HVAC. You want a contractor to oversee the addition, even if you complete some of the work. If the inspector doesn’t approve it, it’s on the contractor to fix it. On top of that, you want the addition to tie into the existing architecture. How often have you passed over a home for sale because of an ugly or obtrusive addition? For most people, the eye seeks symmetry and balance. Just because you have the space to add it doesn’t mean the addition adds value. Employ a designer or architect to draw out your proposed addition and suggest adjustments to help it blend in with the existing home. This includes remaining true to the existing roof slopes even if it costs more to build. When you go to sell, a properly incorporated extension adds value and improves salability over an expedient but less artistic change.
Installing a Pool
While adding a pool doesn’t always increase a home’s resale value, a poorly installed pool detracts from it. If the buyer believes they’ll have to tear out the pool to replace it, or fill it up to hide it, the prospect might scare them out of making an offer. When you install a pool, hot tub, pergola, outdoor kitchen or other exterior entertainment feature, visual appeal is everything. Even a buyer that didn’t think they wanted a pool might fall in love with a professionally installed pool nestled among the landscaping that offers the perfect outdoor entertainment venue.
Attaching a Garage
Many older homes have no garage or a detached garage that makes them less attractive to some buyers. That makes adding an attached garage an ideal improvement. But just like adding a room, when you attach any structure to the exterior, it needs to keep the same aesthetic as the original building. Throwing up a garage, covered patio or carport needs to follow the same design rules as adding a bedroom or family room. Hire a professional to design the add-on and engineer the roofline to match.
When you put your home up for sale, hire a professional as well. Your real estate professional knows the local market and will professionally market your home. For a consultation, reach out today.
Buying a condo may seem like an uphill climb, particularly for those who are browsing the real estate market for the first time. Lucky for you, we're here to help you take the guesswork out of finding the right condo.
What does it take to locate a high-quality condo at an affordable price? Here are three tips that every first-time condo buyer needs to know.
1. Explore a Wide Range of Condos
The real estate market is filled with many first-rate condos, and the sheer volume of properties that are available may feel overwhelming at times. Therefore, you should allocate the necessary time and resources to find a condo that suits you perfectly.
Don't be afraid to check out several condos over the course of a few days or weeks. By doing so, you can better understand what you'd like to find in the ideal condo.
Of course, if you fall in love with a condo, you should be ready to submit an offer. That way, you can avoid the risk of missing out on a great condo that matches or exceeds your expectations.
2. Determine How You'll Pay for a Condo
Many property buyers get pre-approved for a mortgage, and for good reason. With a mortgage in hand, you'll know exactly what you can afford as you review the real estate market.
Meet with a variety of banks and credit unions. These lenders will be able to provide you with multiple mortgage options and respond to your financing concerns and queries.
Also, keep in mind that the price of a condo may extend beyond your monthly mortgage payments.
In many instances, condo communities have homeowners' associations (HOAs) in place that will charge monthly fees. Learn about any HOA fees in advance, and you'll know exactly what you'll need to pay each month to live in a particular condo community.
3. Work with a Real Estate Agent
No one should be forced to evaluate condos on their own. Fortunately, you can hire a real estate agent to streamline the process of finding a terrific condo.
A real estate agent with condo experience understands the hurdles that may arise during a condo search. As such, he or she will do whatever it takes to ensure you can get the best results possible as you look for the perfect condo.
For instance, a real estate agent will set up condo showings and keep you up to date about open houses. This real estate professional will even negotiate with a condo seller on your behalf, which means you won't have to worry about breaking your budget to purchase a stellar condo.
Employing a real estate agent enables you to get expert advice at each stage of the condo buying process too. Thus, you can receive instant responses to your condo buying questions at any time.
Simplify the process of buying your first condo – use the aforementioned tips, and you can boost your chances of acquiring a superb condo at a budget-friendly price.