Escaping New York noise – soundproofing your apartment

 

Whether you’re relatively new to New York City or you’ve been living here for most of your life, it’s never easy to adjust to the daily (and nightly) grind. No matter how many floors you walk up, street noise, snow shoveling, garbage collection, your neighbors, traffic horns and other noises always seem to make their way into your apartment – particularly when it comes time to sleep.

Of course, “soundproofing” per se generally refers to completely eliminating sound. And for those of you living in NYC, you’ll agree that eradicating sound 100% isn’t exactly possible. That’s why we’ve pulled together 3 handy hints for minimizing the noise getting in to your apartment and dealing with the city sounds around you.

#1 Sealing is believing

 

Yes, that gap between the bottom of your door and the floor really might not seem like much, but it allows for the entry of a great amount of noise. Try using a door seal or draft guard to fill the gap! Not only will this help block extra unwanted noise, it’s a simple and cost effective way to add a little extra insulation to your apartment, helping to trap warm air in in the winter. You can pick up a draft seal from Bed, Bath & Beyond for under $10! 

Image: Bed, Bath & Beyond
Image: Bed, Bath & Beyond

 

#2 A win-win(dow) situation

Do you own your apartment? While upgrading your windows is a step up from purchasing a door seal in terms of the price tag, it’s certainly a worthwhile investment. Did you know with the appropriate glass thickness and the right insulation, some windows can block up to 95% of external noise?

If you’re not sure upgrading your windows is worth your investment, you can check in with an acoustic consultant, or soundproofing specialist, to get their advice. You might like to check out Brooklyn Insulation and Soundproofing or City Soundproofing in Manhattan.

Image: Brooklyn Insulation
Image: Brooklyn Insulation

#3 The quick fix: White noise

How does adding more noise to the equation work? Generally speaking, it isn’t the noise itself that keeps you awake or wakes you up during the night, but rather sudden changes in the consistency of noise that jar you awake. White noise creates a masking effect, evening out sudden changes and helping you sleep more comfortably. You can find an interesting read on White Noise by Marpac here

While there are plenty of apps on the market for white noise, a simple table fan will suffice. The hum of a window-unit air conditioner also works great – and will keep you at a comfortable temperature at the same time! 

Image: Marpac
Image: Marpac

Neighborhood etiquette: 3 tips for being a good neighbor this holiday party season

The holiday party season is one of the busiest times of year – you’ve got presents to wrap, dinners to plan and family and friends to cater for. But while you’re caught up in the events happening inside your house or apartment, do you ever stop to think about your neighbors and keeping the people outside of your apartment happy too?

Try these 3 simple steps to ensure you’re a good neighbor this party season.

#1 Provide a little warning

1elehOnce you’ve gotten the word out and invited your friends through Paperless Post or other organizer-friendly apps, it’s time to warn your neighbors too. You might like to include details on the time and size of the event. Your neighbors will likely be more comfortable with the whole scenario knowing you’ve taken them into consideration too, helping resolve issues before they even arise.

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#2 Be reasonable about the noise and the hour

While this might seem like a no-brainer, it’s easy to get caught up in the festivities of the night and forget the time and just how noisy you’re being. Most co-ops have a no-noise rule after 10pm, but given it’s the holidays, your neighbors are likely to be a little more flexible.

As a general rule, try and turn things down after midnight. If you have guests moving out onto a terrace or balcony, remember that voices tend to travel quite easily outside too, so it’s not just your neighbors you’ll need to consider!

taskrabbit-logoWhile we’re on the topic of time, you might like to think about timeliness too. If you’re in need of a little extra assistance for setting up or packing down, you might like to consider enlisting a little help to make sure things run smoothly. There are plenty of options for help. For example, you could hire an assistant from Task Rabbit to help keep you on track with setting up, during the event –keeping glasses filled, getting more ice, putting food out, and packing down – emptying the rubbish, cleaning up etc.

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#3 Contain your party

If you’re throwing a party, your neighbors will be thankful if it stays exactly that – yours. Keeping everything from your decorations to your guests and their belongings inside will help to ensure you’re not blocking the hallways and stairwells or cluttering common spaces.

It can be as easy as having a coat stand and shoe rack inside by the front door for guests to leave their belongings on. While you’re at the front door, you might also like to hang a “please close the door behind you” sign for your guests, to help keep the noise inside.klean-freaks

Containing your party extends to the day after too! Don’t forget to clean up both inside and outside your apartment – checking that the hallways and common areas are left as they were prior to your party. You can always enlist the help of cleaner like Klean Freaks to make the task even easier!

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How to Find the Right Real Estate Agent for You

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Photo courtesy of coryccreamer

Buying or selling your home can be a scary prospect but with the right agent, the process can go much more smoothly. Just a few easy steps can insure that you’ll have a qualified person with your best interests at heart to guide you along your way.

Find out the word on the Street(easy)

With websites like Streeteasy, Zillow, Trulia, and , you can quickly check what others have to say about your prospective agent. People usually only take the time to write an online review if they’ve had an extraordinary experience. If the agent has more than a couple five star reviews it can be a good indication that your working relationship will be a good one.

Put them to the test

Don’t be afraid to ask your agent about how long they have been in the business, how long they have been working in this neighborhood, and info about their license. If you didn’t find enough info about them  online, go ahead and ask them for references. A good agent will have no problem answering these questions if it will put your mind at ease.

Communication is key

If you notice early on in your working relationship that it takes hours for your realtor to respond to you, you might want to consider moving on the someone else (during the day of course, we don’t recommend texting your realtor in the middle of the night!). An open line of communication will help you to feel more comfortable with the process. Also a few hours can mean the difference between closing a deal or not.

Get your figures straight

You will often be required to pay a commission to your realtor (especially if you are a seller). Be sure that you are clear about what will be expected from you so you won’t have a costly surprise when it comes time to sign the papers.

Go with your gut

Above all, trust your instincts. Ask yourself,” Do I feel like this person really wants what’s best for me?”. You can usually get a good sense of a person after working with them for a short period of time.  Listen to the answer you give yourself!

You can start the search for your next realtor by browsing our qualified agents here!

Be Sure to Insure

There are so many things to organize when purchasing a new home, that home insurance probably isn’t the first thing you’ll think of. Your mortgage lender however, will probably require you to have homeowners insurance. Especially for first time buyers, you should take the time to research and be sure that you’re choosing a policy that will give you peace of mind and protect your investment. Here are some things to consider.

 

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You worked hard to find the perfect home, now you have to work hard to find the right insurance. Each provider has a different algorithm for determining customer premiums so the price of home insurance varies widely from carrier to carrier. It pays to shop around, compare and contrast rates. A U.S. consumer financial services company recently conducted a survey of home insurance costs from four companies. The survey, based on addresses in 15 cities nationwide, revealed home insurance rates ranged by as much as 188 percent depending on the location. Contact several companies to compare coverage but shop for value, not necessarily the cheapest price. Since you’ll mainly deal with insurance companies during times of disaster, be sure to find a company that is financially stable and has a high customer satisfaction rating and reviews.

 

More is More
Of course you’re looking to save money on insurance and don’t want to pay more than you need, however you need to be sure that you’re getting enough coverage. Standard home insurance policies offer protection from a variety of potential risks, ranging from liability to damage from weather-related perils. However, you may want to adjust or add coverage depending on your needs. Pay close attention to the part of your policy that protects the structure of your home – you should have enough dwelling coverage to rebuild completely in case the house is destroyed. That amount, however, is often different from the purchase price. Many homeowners buy only enough insurance to cover the amount of their mortgage, which may only be 80 or 90 percent of the value of the house, depending on the original down payment. Some homeowners insure an amount equal to the current value of their home but this figure may be less than the actual cost of rebuilding (including labor and supplies, which may rise sharply after a storm when there’s big demand and short supply). Be sure to notify your insurance agent whenever you make significant improvements to your property, which will affect your home’s replacement cost. To avoid calculating your home’s value every year, ask your insurer about an automatic inflation provision.

 

Comprehend Coveragehome-insurance
It is so important that you read the fine print of your policy and fully understand it, so that there are no surprises later and you’re home free. Understand the terminology, like deductibles, liability, premium, sub-limits and riders. Study the exclusions section of the policy and know what isn’t covered so that you can purchase additional coverage. For example, flood insurance is not part of a standard homeowners contract, and if you live near a river, the ocean, or area affected by hurricanes, you may need to buy additional flood protection. Consider additional living expenses if ever forced from the dwelling. If a house becomes uninhabitable due to a flood, fire or other disaster, you will need to pay for living accommodations and may need additional money for food and transportation, etc. This coverage is “additional living expenses” (ALE) and is a benefit that is usually worth about 20 percent of the home’s replacement value. Be aware of the benefits, limitations and exclusion. A mistake homeowners often make is believing they are covered for mold or sewage backup – many policies don’t offer this protection or have claim limits. Another is thinking that they have one, flat deductible – ask your agent if your policy has different deductibles depending on the cause of damage.

 

Where Credit is Due
Give yourself credit! You know that it matters when getting a favorable interest rate on your mortgage, but it also matters for home insurance. Providers use your credit report as part of the formula for assessing the risk you pose as a policyholder. Their models show that consumers with good credit are much less likely to file claims. Studies have found that people with poor credit may pay at least twice as much as people with excellent credit when it comes to homeowners insurance. So before you get too far into the buying process, assess your credit and take steps to improve your score. At the very least, make sure to correct any errors. There are many simple ways to improve your credit score, including paying your bills on time and keeping low balances on your credit cards. Improving your credit score can result in big savings on your mortgage and your home insurance premiums.

 

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Bundling your policies and sticking with one insurance company can help you save on your home insurance costs. Some providers offer discounts that commonly range between 5 to 15 percent off your premium of you obtain your home and auto insurance for them. You may save even more if you purchase multiple policies from them, for example if you have multiple vehicles or a boat. See if you can bundle all items with one carrier to save money. Some insurance companies also offer special discounts for long-term policyholders. You may be able to lower your home insurance premium by up to 10 percent if you stay with certain providers for six years or more.

The Perfect Productive Home Office

When you work from home it is easy to become distracted and lose focus. It is worth spending the time to create a home office that encourages productivity, comfort and concentration so you can work hard for the money. Here are a few tips for crafting a stylish and functional work-space.

 

dp_caicedo-living-room_4x3-jpg-rend-hgtvcom-616-462Light Bulb Moment
Let there be light in your home office! Draw back the curtains and draw inspiration from natural light. Don’t put your desk in the darkest corner of the room. Hit the bright spot and move your desk close to windows but parallel to the panes. Give yourself a view and try to position the desk where you can stare at something more interesting than a blank wall when you look up from the computer. A window’s natural light is ideal, and when you let the light in, it will cut down on eyestrain and headaches and improve mood, energy, alertness and productivity. Position your monitor so there’s no glare from windows or overhead lights – the object is to create balanced lighting. Even with great natural light you’ll still need additional lighting for darker hours. Put a small lamp with a nice soft glow on your desk for task lighting or a floor lamp that can give concentrated lighting to your specific work area.

 

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You don’t get to choose the perfect desk height and chair at an office, but you do have this option at home! You spend hours parked in your office chair every day, so don’t hurt yourself by sitting in a non-ergonomic position every time you work at your desk. Your comfort is worth every dime, so spend the money and invest in your health and a stylish, supportive, comfortable chair with an adjustable seat and backrest height. Ensure that the top of your computer screen is at eye level or a little below. As you scan down the screen, your eyelids will naturally close a bit and moisten, which reduces eye fatigue. Position your keyboard so your forearms are parallel to the floor. Adjust your chair so that your feet rest firmly on something. Even if you sit perfectly however, you shouldn’t do it all day long. Move regularly – set regular breaks or take a stroll around the block.

 

adcbe033aa7ad05e656df4fff60f5eeaa5b9af65Dream Design
If you’re going to be spending a lot of time in this space, you want it to be a space you enjoy. Don’t hold back – create your dream office and add personality to its aesthetic. Paint the walls a color you love and one that creates the right mood – perhaps a cheery orange or a calming shade of sea foam blue. Get a great rug. Personalize thoughtfully and inspire yourself with a piece of framed art, a scent that makes you happy, a special photo, or a few cherished knickknacks. Add greenery to bring what’s outside your window into your space. Get creative with storage – if filing cabinets don’t tickle your fancy, consider organizing vertically and horizontally. Hang floating shelves and use vertical file folders on the desk to keep important papers within arm’s reach. Consider magazine type racks, bookshelves or wooden cube storage. Choose accessories that enhance a comfy feeling in your home office and decorate in a style that energizes your space.


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You need the right tools to get the job done and being successful in a home office requires creating an office space that promotes efficiency in a non-traditional work environment. Master your technology and invest in the right equipment – a phone, a good desk with plenty of space, an ergonomic chair, computer with efficient memory and performance, a fast internet connection, a clock, and any specialized equipment, tools or software that are key for performance in your area of expertise. Take the time to organize your equipment properly – hide unsightly cords by running a power strip behind your desk and plugging everything into that. Tame the cord jungle on the floor with cord winders, tubing or an organizer that’s attached to the desk and lifts cords off the floor. Keep all your office supplies handy and stocked, so you don’t need to dart out of the office every few minutes.

Making Room for a Roommate

The reality of high rent costs in NYC means that many of us can’t afford to live alone, and often you’ll need to split rent with another person or several people. Roommates can offer cost and space efficiency and become great friends, or they can be messy, unreliable and noisy. So, before you enter a semi-long-term, committed relationship with a complete stranger, here are some screening tips.

 

1cd092b0-77ed-0132-1d4f-0a2c89e5f2f5Bills, Bills, Bills
People often say that one of the biggest sources of stress in marriage is money. The same can be said for roommates. Money conversations can be awkward but are best discussed first up. It’s a good idea to establish, before you move in or someone moves into your place – obviously, can they afford rent? Do they have a steady job or is their rent paid for by someone else? How will the bills be paid each month? Who is responsible for paying them? Who will be paying who back for what? It’s also a good idea to establish an expected timeline for payments. If you pay the full rent every first of the month, do you expect your roommate to pay you back that day? A day or two before? Or is a few days later ok?

 

Experience Necessaryfriends-cast
Just like hiring someone for a job, you want to find a roommate who has been there, done that. Ask the potential candidate about the best and worst roommate experiences that they’ve had. You can learn a lot about a person by hearing about the troubles they’ve encountered and how they dealt with them. The more you talk with the potential roommate, the more you’ll get a feel for whether or not you actually get along. Do you enjoy their company? Or can you just not wait to get out of the situation? Taking the time to talk to the person and discovering if they’re the right person, could be the difference between a friend for life that you look forward to seeing at the end of the day, or horror stories that you’ll tell at dinner parties for years to come.

 

61324c703423de5f59050915a700d9b615cf1d81Shared Space
Consider the space you’ll be sharing. Apartments where autonomy is possible (e.g. having large bedrooms or two common spaces) work best in roommate situations, however this is not always possible. If you’re moving in with a friend or your roommate will never be home, it may not matter that the space is small and intimate. Think about if the space will work with your respective lifestyles. Do they have a pet? Like being alone? Watch a lot of TV? Determine how you’re going to decorate. Who will be responsible for contributing which items to the common areas? If you or they are particular about décor, let it be known up front. Talk about things you might be confronted with within your shared space – bedbugs, bad neighbors or an unresponsive superintendent for example, and how you would deal with these together.


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Once you’ve found the perfect roommate, it’s a good idea to come up with some rules together. Talk about how often you like to have friends over, if you expect the house to be spotless and tidy all the time, if they plan on getting a pet or how often a significant other is allowed to sleep over before they have to start paying rent. Even though it’s early days and these conversations may seem premature, it’s better to have an open discussion and maybe even put the decision in writing, that way if there are problems down the line, you can refer back to what you both once agreed upon.

 

While we can help you find the perfect home in Brooklyn, check out the below services to help you find the perfect soul/roommate!

 

Move it, Don’t Lose it!

Summer is the busy season for the rental market in Brooklyn and throughout New York and as if finding a new home isn’t stressful enough, the move has the potential to break you! If moving is in the cards for you, here are some tips to help the process go as smoothly as possible.

 

Picture1Declutter to Destress
Holding on to almost empty shampoo bottles, expired medicines, worn washcloths, clothes you never wear? Now is the time to let go! Decluttering will help make your move easier and your new home easier to set-up. Start with the bathroom where there is less sentimental attachment and discard any products you don’t use regularly. Donate anything worth donating. Don’t try to declutter every room at once – getting rid of excess stuff in even just one room will make your move shorter and less expensive. When in doubt, take pictures of clothes you no longer wear but which still have sentimental value – a photo takes up a lot less space!

 

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Move a Muscle
Now is the time to look at your family and friends verrrry closely. Are they strong? Do they work out? Do they owe you one? If not, you’re going to need some professional help. Don’t put off lining up movers. Get estimates and lots of them! The more research you do, the better deal you’ll get. Ask friends if they recommend any movers in your area, compare prices and look for a reputable company that’s bonded and insured. Check out local Brooklyn companies like JP Urban Moving, Get There Moving, Lightning Van  and Sweet Lou Moves You.

 

Picture12pngWise to Organize
Save your sanity and make your move smooth, short and sweet by preparing, organizing and packing! Start with the virtual move by backing up all your data. Next, label cords so you know which device each cord goes to – this will make setup easier later. Gather important papers like birth certificates, passports and financial documents in a fireproof lock box, and make sure this stays with you on moving day. Streamline your DVD and CD collections and save a lot of space by moving discs into binder sleeves and discarding empty cases. Come up with a labeling system – color-coding or numbering and keeping a record of the contents of boxes. Then when you are unpacking, you can simply check your master list to see which box you need. Keep a moving binder with info including your moving company, to-do lists, master packing list etc. Start a stash of essentials like toilet paper, trash bags, basic tools, bath towels and sheets, so that when you arrive you don’t have to go through boxes just to get through the first night.

 

Bust a Move
Picture13Okay so it’s time to move! If you’ve prepared properly, unpacking shouldn’t be too overwhelming. Start with assembling furniture. Items like your bed are best transferred in disassembled form. If you don’t remember how to put things back together you can often find manuals online or by calling the manufacturer. Clean and dust items before bringing them into your new, clean home. If you can manage, fill your closets first, even if it’s only temporary. Keeping clutter out of the way will leave you more room to unpack the important stuff. When you’re all done, you can get rid of boxes on Craigslist or trash/recycling, but best to check with your building’s management – some have policies that you might not be aware of yet.