Construction and real estate
Homebuilders' Confidence Strongest in More Than 7 Years
Rate on 30-Year Mortgage Falls to 4.37%
Home Sales Slow in June
Sales of New Homes Rise to 5-Year High as Prices Soar
Average Rate on 30-Year Mortgage Slips to 4.31%
Renters Now Able to Afford More, Report Says
Today's Housing Market Making It Extra Tough on First-Time Homebuyers
Pending Sales of U.S. Homes Slip From 6-Year High
Home Prices Heat Up in May as Pace of Gains Cools
Demand for Mortgages Falls as Rates Remain Unchanged
Mortgage Rates Tick Up, Despite Fed Assurances on Stimulus
Good News for Homeowners: Fewer Foreclosures in June
Improving Market Pushes Home Prices Higher in June
Mortgage Rates Could Rise Should Fannie, Freddie Shut Down
Towns Where Housing Markets Are Turning Around
Freddie Mac 2Q Earnings Surge as Housing Market Improves
Homebuyers Get a Break as Mortgage Rates Edge Down
Tech Rebound Lifts Silicon Valley Home Prices to New Heights
Home Foreclosures on Track to End 2013 at 6-Year Low
Homebuyers in Luck as Mortgage Rates Remain Steady
Housing Recovery's Next Hot Spots
House of the Week: Los Angeles’ Petal House
Former Maroon 5 Drummer Ryan Dusick Buys Tarzana Home
Versace Mansion Goes to Bankruptcy Auction
5 August ‘Must Do’ Projects From Bob Vila
Sweltering August can sometimes feel like the cruelest month of all. But you can turn “cruel” to “cool” by creating a tech-smart home, a backyard water park, custom landscape edging and a super-efficient, small-size garden. If you’re looking to get even cooler, check out these nine top-rated window air conditioners.

No. 1: Get home-smart

Whole-home wiring systems — or “smart home” systems — have been around for decades, but it’s only since the proliferation of wireless that the advantages of being totally connected to your home have become so beneficial.

The term “home integration” finally fulfills its promise: From a single console in the kitchen, by your bed, or on your phone or tablet, you can control your music collection, set the scene with lighting, control the temperature and see who’s at the front door. Multi-room audio, lighting, intercom, thermostat and camera systems can even be integrated into one home system.

If whole-house integration is not something within your reach, there are enough self-programing, voice-activated and mobile app-operated appliances and devices on the market to let you easily improve your home’s tech IQ. For example:

Your refrigerator can now do more than just keep your food cool. Once Wi-Fi-enabled, you can access your apps on the LCD screen, check the weather, browse the Web for recipes and even maintain a grocery list to view on your phone when shopping.

TV is no longer just about viewing your favorite shows and movies. New smart models allow you to navigate seamlessly from movies to games to apps, and even help you stay connected with friends and family through Facebook, Twitter, and Skype.

Even your front door can get a quick “smart” update with door locks that can be controlled from your mobile phone or tablet, and a video/audio doorbell that allows you to see and communicate with any visitor, without leaving the comfort of your easy chair.

For more ideas for updating your home, consider these 11 ways to turn your house into a smart home.

No. 2: Create a water park — at home

Everyone knows the best way to beat the summer heat is to get wet! The good news is you don’t have to hit the beach or the pool to cool off; there are many fun and inventive ways to add water amusements to your own backyard. A heavy vinyl runner and garden hose is all you need to create a homemade slip ‘n slide. Water balloons suspended from a swing set or monkey bars can serve as water-drenching piñatas. Use those same water-filled balloons for some kid-friendly dodgeball, or create water bombs out of ordinary kitchen sponges. To find more ideas — and how-tos — check out these 10 ways to turn your backyard into a water park.

No. 3: Garden by the square foot

Somewhat overwhelmed by the thought of maintaining a full-size garden? Consider the benefits of gardening by the square foot. Popularized by author and PBS personality Mel Bartholomew, Square Foot Gardening centers around a 4-foot-square raised bed, divided into a grid of 16 squares, in which vegetables, herbs and flowers are densely planted. The smaller bed-size means that a gardener can easily reach plants from all sides, without stepping on and compacting the soil. It’s also super-efficient and ideal for those with space limitations: Gardeners can grow 100 percent of their crop in 20 percent of the space. The densely planted crops create a “living mulch” of sorts, preventing weeds from germinating or getting firmly established. And, like any raised bed, these small-size squares enable you to control soil nutrients, drainage and erosion.

No. 4: Check that air conditioner

If you are finding it hard to stay cool, even with air conditioning, it may be time to see if your unit needs to be serviced — or replaced. While the cost of replacement may seem daunting, the payback in reduced energy costs and improved comfort will definitely be worth the investment. If your central air conditioning unit is more than 12 years old, replacing it with an Energy Star-qualified model could cut your cooling costs by 30 percent. Room air conditioners with the same rating will use about 10 percent less energy than conventional models. If you are in the market for a room air conditioner, here are nine of the best rated.

No. 5: Create your own landscape edging

You will find many landscape-edging products at your local home store and garden center, but if you have the time and desire, you can easily make your own. With some concrete mix, plywood (to create straight forms) or flexible hardboard (if you want to make a curved border), and some basic tools, you can create garden edging that will last for years. Follow this how-to guide to get started.
Shakira’s Miami Home for Sale
Update: $2M Price Jump on Ellen & Portia’s Thousand Oaks Ranch
House of the Week: Babe Ruth’s ‘Home Plate Farm’ in Sudbury, MA
Pamela Anderson’s Malibu Home Returns to the Rental Market
Investing in Real Estate With Cash? Why You Might Want to Reconsider
Steve McQueen’s Former Idaho Ranch for Sale
Is Homeownership Still the American Dream?
5 August ‘Must Do’ Projects From Bob Vila
For Rent: ‘Superbad’ Producer Evan Goldberg’s Home
Mark Hoppus Renting Out Beverly Hills Home While Living in London
Luxury Meets Sustainability in Seattle’s First Certified ‘Passive House’ Zillow
‘Workaholics’ Star Blake Anderson Buys Rob Dyrdek’s Hollywood Hills Home
For Sale: ‘Jeopardy!’ Host Alex Trebek’s Former Home
Flip the Switch on Better Kitchen Lighting
For Sale: Bel-Air Home Leased by Latin Music Star Luis Miguel
Oh Yeah. Iconic ‘Ferris Bueller’ Home Back on the Market
House of the Week: DC Mansion Occupied by President Calvin Coolidge
Dallas Cowboys’ Orlando Scandrick Lists Hollywood Hills Home
Live Like a QB: Kurt Warner’s Former Home for Rent
Steven Hilton Relists Malibu Home for $2.695 Million
Robert Redford’s Former Malibu Home Hits the Market for $15 Million
Celebrity Hairstylist Sally Hershberger’s Beverly Hills Home for Sale
Buy Taylor Swift’s Childhood Home in PA for $799,500
Choosing the Best Refrigerator for Your Home
House of the Week: Nabisco Ovens Turned Penthouse
‘Star Trek’ Commander and ‘General Hospital’ Star Buy in Woodland Hills
No Painting Allowed! 6 Tricks for Adding Color When Living With White Walls
Turnkey mansion for sale, Bentley and toilet brushes included
‘Sons of Anarchy’ Star Buys Woodland Hills Home
What Really Influences Your Credit Score?
Why This May Not Be the Best Time to Buy a Home … For You
Country Star Ronnie Dunn Buys in Nashville
Sold: Goldie Hawn & Kurt Russell’s Malibu Home
David Spade’s Malibu Home Sells for $10.225 Million
Shoe Designer Vince Camuto Lists Historic Hamptons Estate
‘Flipping Out’ Designer Jeff Lewis Lists Los Feliz Home
Michael Jackson Producer Brian Malouf Lists Sherman Oaks Home
Most Expensive House in Orange County Hits Market at $65 Million
Richard Gere Lists $65 Million Hamptons Estate
Ryan Reynolds Relists Hollywood Hills Home
Malcolm Forbes’ NJ Estate Listed for $3.4 Million
‘Without a Trace’ Star Enrique Murciano Sells Home
Tennis Great John McEnroe Buys Another Malibu Home
Producer Antonio ‘L.A.’ Reid Lists Hamptons Estate for $18.9 Million
House of the Week: Former Jail Turned Residence for Sale
Housing by the Numbers
Report: Miami Heat’s Shane Battier Buys Coral Gables Home for $3.2 Million
Chicago Property Once Part of Original Playboy Mansion for Sale
How to Fix a Running Toilet
Home of Michael Clarke Duncan Listed for $1.299 Million
What Is a Home Warranty, and Do You Need One?
Linkin Park’s Joe Hahn Relists Brentwood Home