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Smart Home Ownership

Once you've bought your home, you can breathe a great sigh of relief. Take some time, put your feet up on the ottoman and while away the Sunday afternoons watching the Big Game. Proudly stir the coals when you have friends over for the odd summer barbecue (or is it have the odd friends over for the summer barbecue?).

Now that you've bought your home, you're actually going to have to live in it. That means, first, that you should enjoy it, and then that you need do all the things required to sustain life and hold nature at bay. Ever been in a house that hasn't been lived in for a while? Strange and scraggly creatures have a way of taking over (and we're not just talking about the neighbors), and things have a way of falling apart. You need to maintain your dwelling, and, if you like, improve it.

So we're talking upkeep, additions, and improvements. These subjects apply both to your current enjoyment of the place as well as to your casting an eye toward that hazy day in the future when the time might be right to sell. In the meantime, the more of yourself you put into it, the more you'll get out of it. It's like the aerobics instructors say: "No pain, no gain." Except, of course, that it can actually be enormously satisfying to put some work into your house.

What does it take to maintain and improve your home? What can you do yourself, and what are you going to be looking at when you decide to utter that fear-inspiring word, "contractor"?

We'll now take a stab at providing you with the information and resources you need to answer these and other vexing questions.

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