Are you a new homeowner in New Jersey? Perhaps you have owned a home for the past 10 years, or owned 10 homes over the years? ? Whatever your homeownership background, stay tuned to REAL Story’s Homeowner page for information on what you, as a homeowner, need to know on such topics as home improvement, prepping for the holidays, saving money on insurance and more.

Wood Fireplace: 9 Tips for Safety and Efficiency

Ready for the colder months? You will be if you follow these simple guidelines to keep your wood fireplace burning brightly—and safely.

1. Only burn dry, cured wood—logs that have been split, stacked, and dried for eight to 12 months. Cover your log pile on top, but leave the sides open for air flow.

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6 Smart Ways To Splurge on Your Home Remodel

Every remodel should add value to your home; that’s our mantra. But HouseLogic knows that some luxuries just make your home life sweeter and easier — and there’s terrific value in that, too.

Here are some of our favorite remodeling splurges that are great for your life now and someday may pique a buyer’s interest.

What: A super-suction, built-in vacuum system that features convenient inlet ports throughout the house where you plug in 25-to-50-foot lightweight vacuum hoses. The collection bin is usually located in a basement or garage.

Why: No more dragging heavy vacuum cleaners up and down stairs and throughout the house. With central vacs all you need to schlepp is a lightweight hose fitted with a power brush.

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10 Ways to Avoid Outdoor Holiday Lighting Mishaps

Outdoor holiday lights brighten the long winter night, but installing them puts you at risk of injury. To keep your yard lovely and yourself healthy, try these 10 holiday light safety tips from Pacific Gas and Electric Company and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:

Before stringing outdoor lights, check for overhead power lines. Never place yourself or any object in a position that risks contact with a power line — the result can be fatal. Look up before raising ladders or other objects. Keep at least 10 feet away from overhead lines.

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Apps for Home Improvement

Evernote - Free

Available for iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, Palm and Web

While Evernote was not designed with home improvement in mind, it is an invaluable tool that allows you to create text, picture or voice notes, which are then stored in “the cloud” and are accessible from any other device(s). You can use this app to capture information about a room you want to remodel, or if you need to remember how something looks, snap a picture and save it for later reference.

Evernote also allows you to capture and store client lists or photos of listed properties. Images with printed or handwritten text, or scanned documents that are stored on Evernote’s servers are searchable and can be shared with anyone via e-mail.

Home Depot - Free

Available for iPhone

The Home Depot application has evolved from a simple display of the latest store circular to a full-fledged application designed to help the average homeowner get things done around the home. You can now build shopping lists, watch instructional videos, search for stores based on your location and purchase gift cards.

Handy Man DIY - $1.99

Available for iPhone

Handy Man DIY is a home improvement planner that is geared towards the general homeowner. It allows you to create projects based on different rooms within your home. Each project can store room dimensions, shopping lists, estimated costs and tasks associated with it. When the user enters in the room dimensions, Handy Man DIY will calculate the wall and floor square footage, room volume, and the total length of the walls. The app also features detailed instructions and videos on common home improvement endeavors.

BuildCalc – Advanced Construction Calculator - $19.95

Available for iPhone

BuildCalc is intended for a homeowner who needs to do complex calculations for home improvement projects. Need to figure out how much fencing you need to enclose a yard, or figure out the layout of a staircase and its stringers? With BuildCalc you can take the guesswork out of your home improvement projects.

Home 3D - $8.99

Available for iPad

Home 3D is intended to help you visualize what a home renovation will look like. Enter in some of the room dimensions and layout where windows, doors and furniture are placed, and this application will render a 3D layout for you.

Handy Construction Calculators - $7.99

Available for Android

With 26 easy-to-use calculators and estimators, this handy application is useful to both the do-it-yourselfer and the professional. Some of the calculations it can perform include: brick block, concrete & rebar, drywall, drop ceiling, framing, insulation, paint, flooring, etc.


Tips and Feature Articles

  • Tips for Brightening Winter Curb Appeal

    Nothing kills curb appeal like a drab and dreary winter. Since good landscaping can add up to 28% to the value of your home, try these ways to resuscitate your yard during the deadest part of the year. Read

  • Winter home repair jobs including a GFCI and wood flooring

    Check Maintenance Tasks off Your List

    Winter’s doldrums got you down? Grab a screwdriver and a hammer... Read

  • 10 Easy Ways to Stage Your Home for the Holidays

    As you begin to usher in the season (not to mention house guests, tempting treats, and a life-sized tree), try these 10 tips for creating harmony in your holiday home. Read

  • 9 Alternate DIY Christmas Tree Ideas

    If you believe nothing says Christmas more than a fresh cut evergreen, think again. Read