Category: postnotes

Pillar To Post Newsletter March 2019

Spring cleaning

SEASONAL SENSE

Your Spring Cleaning Checklist!

Get your home ready for spring with these top tips. Tackle one space at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed.

  • Declutter your kitchen drawers and cabinets. Give away or donate any unneeded items that are in good condition.
  • Check the pantry and discard expired items and stale spices.
  • Clean the shelves and install fresh shelf liner.
  • Vacuum nooks & crannies in upholstered furniture.
  • Air out throw pillows outside, weather permitting.
  • Dust or vacuum window blinds. Have drapes cleaned per the instructions.
  • Check outside your home for damaged or missing caulk around windows and doors and repair any problem areas.
  • Have the fireplace and chimney cleaned and inspected by a professional.
  • Clean the windows inside and out for sparkle and shine.
  • Place a pot of bright spring flowers by the door to greet your guests and brighten the neighborhood.

Last but not least, pat yourself on the back for a job well done!


GETTING PERSONAL

Take a Time-Out Just For You

personal time

Need to create some space in your life for yourself? Check out some of our favorite tips for sneaking in some peace.

EARLY RISER:

Try getting up earlier than the rest of your family and use the quiet time for yourself, especially on the weekends.

TAKE TURNS:

If possible, designate another family member to prepare dinner at least once a week. They’ll learn a lot – and you’ll enjoy the results.

TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME:

Drive a different route home from work or errands. You’re bound to notice something interesting along the way.

TURN OFF:

Shut down your devices way before bedtime and avoid social media all night. You won’t miss a thing.


home air quality tips

HOUSEWISE

Indoor Air Quality

Improve your home’s air quality by limiting pollutants, allergens, and other irritants that can harm your family’s health.

HOLD THE HUMIDITY

High humidity promotes mold and dust mite growth. Keeping indoor humidity below 50% will help prevent further infestation. To reduce humidity, use ventilation fans in kitchens and bathrooms, make sure the dryer is properly vented to the outdoors and address any water leaks or condensation issues. Use a dehumidifier in any especially humid locations such as the basement.

COLLECT THE DUST

Reducing dust can also improve air quality. Dust can be composed of pollen, mold spores, lint, animal dander and even bacteria. It’s impossible to completely rid a home of dust, there are ways to control it. Regular use of a HEPA filter vacuum should help. Change or clean the furnace filter regularly. High-quality furnace filters are more expensive than ordinary types, but are more effective at filtering dust, pet hair, and other particles.

WIDE OPEN

Opening doors and windows whenever possible can also help with indoor air quality. Your home will have better air circulation and “breathe” more easily, and you’ll get to enjoy the fresh air on a nice day.

CHEMICAL SENSE

Use less-toxic and environmentally friendly cleaning products. Dispose of old paint, garden chemicals and other products that could leak fumes. Check with your trash collection provider on how to properly dispose of such items.

Taking these simple steps can help give your home a breath of fresh air


HOME SMARTS

Test Your Know-how: Take Our Quiz!

  1. True or False: It’s a good idea for home buyers to attend the home inspection.
  2. Which statement is correct about radon?
    1. Radon seeps into homes from underground.
    2. It’s the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.
    3. Radon is colorless and odorless.
    4. All of the above.
  3. True or False: GFCI and AFCI receptacles are different names for the same thing.
  4. True or False: Foundation cracks can only mean bad news.
  5. Which of these is NOT recommended for a home to be inspection ready?
    1. Updating faucets and fixtures.
    2. Putting fresh batteries in smoke detectors.
    3. Having the furnace and air conditioning serviced.
    4. Making sure there’s clear access to the water heater, electrical panel and main water shutoff.

home inspection quiz

ANSWERS:

  1. True! Attending the inspection is a great way to learn about the home and offers the opportunity to ask questions along the way.
  2. D. Request radon monitoring to determine if your home has an elevated level of radon.
  3. False. In short, GFCIs help prevent electrical shock. AFCIs help prevent electrical fires.
  4. False. Some types of cracks are common and aren’t always structurally significant. A professional evaluation can determine if cracking is a problem.
  5. A. For inspection purposes, outdated faucets and/or fixtures don’t matter as long as they work properly.

asbestos information

INSPECTION INSIGHTS

Asbestos: What You Need To Know

Maybe you’ve been told your home has asbestos. Do you need to worry? We’re here to educate and inform!

For years, asbestos was widely used in wall and ceiling insulation, vinyl flooring, insulation for heating ducts, pipe wrap for water heating systems, roof tiles, acoustic ceiling tiles and much more. Many of these materials are still present in thousands of homes. Breathing asbestos fibers over a long period of time can lead to asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Is it always a problem? Asbestos poses a health risk when the fibers become airborne, which can happen if materials are crumbling or damaged. If there is minor localized damage, it can be professionally repaired by encapsulating the asbestos fibers with a specialized sealant. If the asbestos-containing material is in good condition, the best course of action may be to simply leave it alone.

The biggest risk is when homeowners and other non-professionals attempt asbestos removal themselves. Disturbing asbestos usually makes it dangerous. If it must be removed, it’s a job for an expert who will also properly dispose of it. In some cases, such as a home renovation, asbestos removal is the only option.


gardening season

HOME & GARDEN

Gear Up For Gardening

The start of the gardening season fills everyone with optimism and energy. Use these ideas to jump-start this year’s pride and joy:

  • As soon as weather allows, rake up winter debris and old mulch from planting areas.
  • Remove any plants that have died over the winter. But first make sure they aren’t just dormant!
  • Have pruners, loppers, hoes and other cutting tools sharpened.
  • Pulling weeds when they’re still small makes the job much easier.
  • Add compost to planting beds for better soil and healthy plants.
  • Check the irrigation system for leaks and broken sprinkler heads and emitters.
  • Sketch out your planting plan for summer crops and blooming plants.

Now you’ll be ready to plant, grow and enjoy the beauty and bounty of your garden!

Pillar To Post Newsletter January 2019


Small home, big storage

PLACES AND SPACES

Small Home, Big Storage

While “tiny houses” take storage strategies to an extreme, accessible, well planned storage will make daily life easier in any smaller home.

The Drop Zone

Most people use a back or garage entrance more often than the front door. These entryways can incorporate drop zones where everyone can unload their backpacks, shoes, outerwear and more. Baskets under benches provide both seating and storage. Some drop zones incorporate a dedicated shelf or cubby for each family member’s gear.

Beyond the Office

These spaces are often used not only as an office, but for homework, projects, and more.

Repurpose closets by replacing hanging rods with shelving and drawers. A dresser can be used to store project materials for easy access. With multiple users, this multi-function room, like the drop zone, needs to have a workable system that everyone can follow.

Pantry Solutions

The smaller kitchens found in smaller homes need to at least accommodate kitchen staples and big, bulky items such as large mixing bowls, seldom-used small appliances and serving pieces. Pantry shelving for food items should be relatively shallow so that everything is easy to find and reach. This type of shelving can even be added to a niche in the wall between two studs.

Smaller homes aren’t going away, and continue to be especially popular as starter homes and with downsizers. With efficient and practical storage solutions, even a smaller home can accommodate the needs of most families.


HOME & LIFE

Easy Ways to Boost Your Home’s Cozy Factor

cozy home

Try these surefire tips to warm up your home in the New Year and beyond.

  • Set up your own hot cocoa bar with cinnamon, peppermint and marshmallow add-ins. Don’t forget the whipped cream!
  • Keep a basket of soft, warm slippers or socks inside your entryway for guests.
  • Candles, scented or unscented, will add instant visual warmth.
  • Simmer cinnamon sticks, cloves and orange peel in a pot of water. Reheat to keep your home filled with fragrance all day.


zero clearance fireplaces

HOME MATTERS

Zero Clearance Fireplaces

There’s nothing like enjoying a crackling, wood burning fireplace on a chilly evening or weekend. But what if your house didn’t happen to come with one? Enter the zero clearance fireplace.

Zero clearance refers to a prefabricated fireplace unit that can be installed against combustible surfaces such as walls or floors. A prefab chimney is then run up the inside or outside of the home.

Use a Qualified Installer

Not all types of zero clearance fireplaces are suitable for every situation, so consult an expert if you consider getting one. This is not a DIY project.

Is It Allowed?

Make sure you check local regulations to see if new wood burning fireplaces are approved in your community.

Glass Doors

Most zero clearance fireplaces have glass doors. In some models the doors can be closed while the fire is burning and in others the doors must be left open.

Maintenance

Like its traditional wood burning cousins, a zero clearance fireplace can have dangerous creosote buildup in the chimney flue and must be cleaned regularly to avoid a chimney fire.

GENERAL TIPS

  • Burn only seasoned hardwood
  • Load the logs near the back of the firebox
  • Use a spark screen
  • Make sure your smoke and CO alarms are functioning
  • Never leave a fire unattended

Relax and enjoy!



Is radon on your radar?

INSPECTION INSIGHTS

Is Radon on Your Radar?

Radon is a naturally occurring odorless radioactive gas that seeps into homes from underground. Excessive levels of radon can be dangerous to your family’s health. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.
  • An estimated 1 in 15 homes in the US and Canada has an elevated level of radon.
  • High levels of radon can be found in any type of home – new, old, snug, drafty, with or without a basement.
  • Testing is the only way to determine if your home is affected.

A qualified radon inspector will:

  • Test for unsafe levels of radon inside your home.
  • Analyze the data and report on results.
  • Recommend steps to reduce excessive radon levels if found.

Get peace of mind for you and your family. Schedule a radon inspection today!



Feel better every day

LIFE LESSONS

Try These 5 Favorite Tips and Feel Better Every Day

No matter what time of the year, these easy-to-fit-in ideas can make a difference every day – and not just for you.

  1. Reach out to a friend or relative. Even a quick text to touch base will do.
  2. Put your to-do list in writing to help clear your thoughts, especially at night.
  3. Make a cup of coffee or tea and just listen calmly to the sounds around you.
  4. Take a quick walk, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
  5. Greet everyone with “How’s your day going?” You may be the only one who asks.

Feel better



All about garage doors

HOME MATTERS

All About Garage Doors

Overhead garage doors may be the largest and heaviest moving object in most homes. For safety and reliability, make sure it’s up to date and kept in proper working order.

Safety First

Older garage doors can lack some of the safety features required in newer installations. Automatic openers must have sensors, usually a pair of electric eyes, that will stop and reverse the door if a person or pet moves across its path.

Power Out?

What about getting the door open during a power outage? Use the manual release – in most cases it’s a short red cord that hangs down close to the center of the door, inside the garage. Practice how to operate the release in case you need to get a car out of the garage during a power outage.

Smooth Sailing

Maintaining the door is important for safety and for quiet, smooth operation. A garage door specialist can provide periodic maintenance, or you can do much of this yourself, including lubricating the springs and hinges. The track where the wheels run should never be lubricated for safety reasons. A professional can also check the door balance and alignment and make any necessary adjustments.

Controlled Access

When moving into a new home, change the remote control code immediately for security purposes, just as you would re-key or change the home’s door locks. If the remote can’t be reprogrammed, chances are, it’s an outdated system, and should be upgraded for safety reasons.

A garage door and opener, with proper maintenance, will help ensure safe operation and should last for many trouble-free years.

Pillar To Post Newsletter November 2018


Keep calm through the holidays

SMARTER LIVING

“Calm” for the holidays

Feeling anxious about the holidays? Try these tips to bring on the calm:

  • Don’t feel like you have to say “yes” to every invitation, menu demand or gift request.
  • Ask others to pitch in on tasks such as shopping, baking and wrapping. And if someone offers help, accept it!
  • Set a budget for gift purchases and stick to it. A mountain of new debt is no way to start the new year.
  • If you’re hosting a meal, ask guests to bring side dishes or desserts. If they ask to do dishes, hand them a sponge!
  • A 15 minute walk each day will leave you refreshed and help clear your head.


Living right at home

LIVING RIGHT AT HOME

Brighten Up Your Living Space in Winter

The shorter days will still be here for months to come, and spring can seem a long way away. But winter doesn’t mean your home needs to feel drab for months on end. Here are some easy ways to bring some springtime into your home and life right now.

Rooms of blooms
Choose a bouquet of colorful fresh flowers or a flowering plant to display in the kitchen, family room, or wherever you spend a lot of time. Or divide a large bunch of blooms into several smaller vases that you can place in a bathroom, by the kitchen sink, and on your nightstand.

Cheers!
If you live in a mild climate, a pot or two of bright flowering plants outside your front door provides instant cheer. Your neighbors (and the mail carrier) will appreciate it, too!

Punch up the color
Give your powder room or laundry area a lift with a fresh coat of paint in a fun new color, or create a bigger impact with an accent wall in any room.

Give it a spin
Whirl chunks of pineapple, mango, and banana with plain yogurt in the blender to bring a taste of the tropics to a dark morning. This healthy treat will give your day a delicious jump start and bring a smile to your face.

Be a quick change artist
Try new throw pillows or pillow covers in bright, fun fabrics to liven up your sofa and chairs. There are so are many great-looking, inexpensive options available you won’t have to splurge to give your room a fresh look.



Wind damage

SEASONAL SENSE

Before and after the storm

No matter where you live, winter storms can wreak havoc on property. Preventive steps can reduce the chance of serious damage to homes and lives.

Before the storm

  • Outdoor furniture, grills, toys, birdbaths and the like should be stored away. Secure and anchor large objects such as prefab sheds and play structures to prevent them from falling or blowing over.
  • Trees can look like they’re in good shape but may be diseased or have other problems that can cause them to fail unexpectedly. Trees stressed by drought or that are rooted in saturated soil can be more susceptible to problems when storms hit.
  • Local ordinances may require that trees be trimmed a minimum distance from driveways, structures and power lines. For safety’s sake, a qualified professional should perform this work.
  • Using binoculars, check your roof for missing or damaged shingles. Flying shingles can damage structures, while missing shingles can allow water to leak into the home. Any roofing repairs should be done professionally to ensure the work is done safely and correctly.

After the storm

  • Look for downed or sagging power lines and report them immediately to your utility company. Always assume a downed power line is live, and never approach or touch it.
  • Check around for fallen branches or other damage to trees and structures. This is also a good time to reinspect the roof for storm damage; any repairs should be made as soon as possible to prevent further problems and leaks.
  • Note any areas where water may have infiltrated siding, the foundation, or windows and have repairs done before the next storm hits.

INSPECTION INSIGHTS

Why get a pre-listing home inspection?

A pre-listing inspection can uncover previously unknown problems – major and minor – allowing the opportunity to make repairs, updates, or replacements as needed or as the seller wishes. Addressing these issues before the home goes on the market can result in cleaner offers and a smoother transaction for both parties. Having well-informed sellers and buyers will work to everyone’s advantage.

Be sure that the home inspection is comprehensive and that you’ll get the report immediately upon completion of the inspection. This will allow sellers to get the information they need right away, so they can decide on their next steps prior to listing. Photos should also always be part of a professional report so that the full documentation of conditions is available to both the sellers and potential buyers. This is especially important when it comes to issues that might not be addressed or repaired prior to sale.

Home inspection are important

Having a pre-listing inspection in hand is a great way to inform potential buyers and give them peace of mind once the home hits the market, leading to a faster sale!



Keep your family safe with home security

HOUSEWISE

Home sweet home security

We all love coming home at the end of the day to a place we feel safe. Here are some tips for keeping your home and valuables secure.

Secure Entrances – Thoroughly evaluate all entry points to your home. Make sure all doors have a secure lock and reinforce the door frames. Windows should be closed and locked at all times when you are away.

Secure Lighting – Lighting is a basic but important burglar deterrent. Indoor and outdoor lights can thwart intruders by making it look like the house is occupied when you are not home, and minimize the places burglars can hide at night.

Secure Garage – Garages are a favorite target for thieves because they contain easy to sell valuables like bicycles, tools and sports equipment. Garages can also provide easy access into the home. Keep all garage windows and access doors securely locked. Look into installing tempered glass in windows, or cover the inside of the windows with a sheet of durable Plexiglas.

Security System – There are lots of options available for homeowners who want to take this extra precaution. The latest systems can be operated using a mobile device or speaker-based “assistant,” allowing you to arm the system and remotely monitor indoor and outdoor security cameras. More conventional alarm systems include third-party monitoring, and unmonitored alarms that simply make a loud noise when triggered.


PLACES AND SPACES

The right tree in the right spot

One of the most common problems with home gardens is plants, particularly trees, that grow too large for their location.

The right tree in the right spot

Here are keys to avoiding this:

  • Research how tall and wide a particular kind of plant or tree will be at maturity. That cute sapling at the nursery could grow up to be a giant you don’t have space for.
  • Avoid planting a tree too close to the house. At full size it may damage the roof and gutters and need to be cut back.
  • If the tree is deciduous (loses its leaves each fall), will the winter sun cause the rooms nearby to be too bright?
  • Trees with aggressive and/or shallow root systems shouldn’t be planted near the house, pavement or other surfaces as they can potentially cause serious damage to the foundation.

Pillar To Post Newsletter September 2018


Get your home ready for fall!

SEASONAL SENSE

Get your home ready for fall!

The days are getting noticeably shorter, and maybe there’s a nip in the air – sure signs that fall is on its way. Now is the perfect time to put these ideas on your to-do list and get your home in shape before winter rolls in.

  • Seal it up: Caulk and seal around exterior door and window frames. Look for gaps where pipes or wiring enter the home and caulk those as well.
  • Look up: Check the roof for missing or damaged shingles. Although you should always have a qualified professional inspect and repair the roof, you can do a preliminary survey safely from the ground using binoculars.
  • Clear it out: Clear gutters and eaves troughs of leaves, sticks, and other debris. Consider installing leaf guards if your gutters can accommodate them – they are real time savers and can prevent damage from clogged gutters. Check the seams between sections of gutter, as well as between the gutter and downspouts, and make any necessary adjustments or repairs.
  • No hose: In climates with freezing weather, shut off outdoor faucets and make sure exterior pipes are drained of water. Faucets and pipes can freeze and burst, causing leaks and potentially serious water damage.
  • Warm up time: Have the furnace inspected to ensure it’s safe and in good working order. Most utility companies will provide basic inspections at no charge, but there can often be a long waiting list come fall and winter. Using a clean filter will help the furnace run more efficiently, saving you money and energy.
  • Light that fire: If you enjoy the crackle of a wood-burning fireplace on a chilly fall evening, have the firebox and chimney professionally cleaned before lighting a fire this season. Creosote, a byproduct of wood burning, can build up to dangerous levels and cause a serious chimney fire if not removed.


5 Tips to de-stress at work

WORK WAYS

5 Tips to de-stress at work

Stressed out? Learning how to manage work stress can help restore calm, productivity and job satisfaction.

  1. Recognize what’s causing your stress. Deadlines? Conflict? Work/life balance out of whack? Then work on tackling the issue(s) productively.
  2. Try to understand your specific reactions to those stress triggers. How can you better control your response? It’s not always easy to do this but it can be very effective.
  3. If you work at a desk, take short breaks to stretch and breathe. If you’re on your feet all day, find a comfortable spot out of the way to sit for a bit and relax.
  4. Have too much on your plate? Don’t agree to unrealistic deadlines if at all possible. If this happens regularly, you should consider your commitments more carefully in the future.
  5. If possible, take a short walk outside to stretch your legs and remind yourself that work isn’t all there is!


How to hire a handyman

Photo credit: Bidvine

HOME MAINTENANCE

How to hire a handyman

Whether it’s a big project such as a bathroom remodel, something small like putting up shelves, or repairs and routine maintenance, many homeowners turn to handymen to get the job done. Here are some tips to ensure that you choose the right person for the job:

  1. MAKE SURE THEY ARE QUALIFIED
    Certain projects require specific skills that all handymen may not have. Professional licenses may be required to perform certain work. Electrical and plumbing often fall into this category.
  2. ASK FOR REFERENCES
    Online referral sites can give you a good indication of overall customer satisfaction. You can also ask the handyman for references from previous customers. Ask about the quality of the work, timeliness, professionalism, and how satisfied they were with their project.
  3. CHECK ON INSURANCE COVERAGE
    Ask for evidence of liability insurance coverage before agreeing to any work. If the handyman or another worker is injured while working on your property, you may be held liable for medical costs.
  4. GET WRITTEN ESTIMATES AND A CONTRACT

Ideally, ask three handymen for written estimates for the work you have in mind. Be sure that each estimate contains enough detail so that you can make an accurate comparison. Read all contracts carefully and be sure to ask about anything that you are unsure of.



Do you need a home inspection?

REAL ESTATE SMARTS

Do you need a home inspection?

A home inspection is the perfect opportunity to really get to know the property you’re considering – an unbiased evaluation that can prove extremely useful and help you avoid unpleasant surprises.

A professional home inspection includes a visual assessment of the home’s systems and structural components, including heating/cooling, plumbing, electrical, roof, foundation, walls, chimneys, doors, and windows. In addition to undergoing visual inspection, appliance systems, heating/cooling and plumbing are tested to ensure proper operation. The report will include detailed findings and indicate any recommended repairs based on the inspection results. At that time, your agent may recommend that the seller complete needed repairs, or if not, that the cost of doing the repairs be reflected in the selling price.

However, in many of today’s overheated real estate markets the home inspection contingency is often waived in order for an offer to be considered at all. In these cases, a home inspection is still extremely important because it allows you to learn about the home and gives you a comprehensive picture of the home’s condition. This is invaluable in planning for future repairs, upgrades, or addressing other issues.

To get the most out of the home inspection, accompany the home inspector during the process. This allows you to ask questions on site and get any needed clarification about potential issues that come up along the way. It’s a great way to get to know the property and locate key items such as key shutoff valves, the breaker panel and more. Attending the inspection will also give you a better understanding of any repair recommendations.



Budget-friendly updates for kids' rooms

DESIGN WISE

Budget-friendly updates for kids’ rooms

From food and clothing to their bedroom decor, children’s likes and dislikes are ever changing. Here are some ideas on how to pull off a stylish bedroom re-do using some imagination and not a lot of money.

  • Paint is your friend! Nothing transforms a room like a new coat of paint, especially if you go with a bright or trendy color selected by your child. If she is old enough, get her involved in painting the walls or trim. Be sure to keep some extra paint for those sure-to-be-needed touchups. Complement the color scheme with inexpensive throw pillows or pillow covers.
  • Instead of investing in lots of themed décor, consider using just a few relatively inexpensive elements to recognize your kids’ interests. Posters and collages are just a couple of ways to include a theme without going overboard. Garage sales can also be a good source of well-priced themed items.
  • For dressers, bed frames and other furniture, see if your community has a website that lists items for sale or trade. A quick coat of paint and minor repairs may be all that’s needed to transform an inexpensive (or free) piece into a real find.
  • Shelves and bookcases make great places for children of any age to create ever-changing displays that reflect their interests. The flexibility of these spaces will be appreciated by small children to teenagers for years to come.


Curb appeal: It's not just for sellers

HOME & GARDEN

Curb appeal: It’s not just for sellers

Curb appeal. It’s all about how your home looks to people walking or driving by. If you’re selling, you can boost that first impression by making sure your home looks great before it hits the market. If you’re staying put, making your home more beautiful is never a bad idea!

Cleanup and Repair – Clean windows and siding, stow away yard tools and equipment, and clean up dead branches and leaves. Make sure fences, walkways, and the driveway are in good repair, too – a home that looks well taken care of is always more attractive.

Landscaping – Trim any overgrown shrubs, remove weeds, and tidy up planting areas. If the season is right, add some colorful flowering plants to brighten up around walkways and at the front entrance.

The Entrance – If replacement is cost prohibitive, consider revitalizing a tired, faded door with a fresh coat of paint in a great accent color and swapping out the hardware. Updated house numbers are another impactful but inexpensive addition.

Paint It New – Brighten up the exterior with new, neutral paint. If the existing paint is in good shape, have the exterior pressure washed to get rid of dirt and grime. Have the windows washed inside and out to brighten the overall appearance of the home.
There’s nothing worse than home “lookers” who drive by – and keep right on going because they’ve already decided a home doesn’t appeal to them based on looks alone. With these tips in mind, chances are your home will catch the eye of more potential buyers. And for those of you not selling, you’ll love your home even more.