Safety Advice For This Holiday Season

During this holiday season, it is expected that family members will visit and some of them will stay overnight or perhaps spend some days with the family.  Rooms are needed and the habitable space available becomes a bit too crowded. Many family home projects are done during this season to freshen up your home or to provide room needed for those out of town families.  If you are thinking along those lines, and you need extra space to shelter the relatives, waterproofing your basement before starting a basement remodeling project is one of the projects that will increase the value of your home while providing a cleaner, better living place for you.

For more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


Don’t Let Clogged Drains Ruin Your Winter

In the especially brutal winters that Toronto is sometimes host to, it is especially crucial that homeowners keep the drains clean, clear, and well maintained by a professional drain cleaning service. When pipes are clogged in freezing weather, not only does the water freeze within the pipes, so does whatever is causing the clog, which can be an especially annoying and costly mess during the winter months. Contrary to what many people may believe, even minor clogged drains can cause serious problems to the plumbing system, which is why it is very important that homeowners enlist the help of a professional plumber before the problem worsens, so the problem be fixed as quickly as possible.

Along with the obvious mechanical problems that can arise when plumbing issues are not taken care of promptly, there is the problem of gray water, a nuisance not often though about. Gray water is filled with harmful bacteria, which pose a great health hazard if the water backs up and drains out onto the floor or into the sinks. If you’re like most households and plan to host a few people for dinner of a gathering over the winter, it’s imperative you keep the number of emergency drain cleaning services handy, just in case something goes horribly awry.


Guidelines for a warm, safe home during the holidays

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) –

As the holiday season fast approaches, cooler weather can create potential hazards in your home.

While warm days are still a possibility, as the end of the year comes up, the weather will soon shift to cooler temperatures

The Amarillo Fire Department has released a list of actions one can do to keep your home warm and safe.

Following these actions can prevent accidents in your home or on your property:

  • Always keep a safety zone around heating equipment
  • Keep children and pets supervised
  • Never leave any form of cooking unattended
  • Secure all vacant or outbuildings on property
  • Be sure to check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

Space heaters and other warming devices are an effective way to heat your home while saving money. However, those devices can also create an extreme fire hazard.


Keeping Your Furnace Working Properly This Winter

The cold weather has taken its time lately, but it seems that is finally here to stay. As homeowners, we need to make sure the furnace is working properly and is ready to last through the winter.  A furnace, according to experts has a life expectancy of 18-20 years.  For you to get the most out of your furnace, a yearly checkup by professionals is recommended, and changing the filters regularly ensures clean air is circulating in your home.

Waiting to see snow on the ground to call the heating and cooling professionals may not be the best move for you.  If your furnace is old or is having “issues,” you need to be proactive and call a professional.  Waiting till the furnace stops working for you to call, may cost you more in the long run.

By changing the filters in your furnace regularly, you ensure your furnace will have a long life.  Another reason to change the filters regularly ensures the allergens that could be blowing through the vents won’t affect the people in your home that suffer from allergies or other respiratory health problems. There are a wide variety of filters to choose from.  30-day filters are available at your local Home Depot, Walmart or Lowe’s stores. From dust and pollen high-performance filters to cleaner air filters you will have no problem choosing the one that is right for you.

Carbon monoxide is one of the more scary issues you have to deal with if you have an old furnace.  The experts can detect if you have a carbon monoxide leak and can fix the problem before it becomes something fatal.

Efficiency is another reason why having an old furnace is expensive.  The newer furnace models can save you money over the long run and can keep your home safe and warm.

Top three actions you need to take to ensure a long life for your furnace:

  • Yearly check-up is recommended
  • change the filters monthly if you can
  • Make sure the area around the furnace is clear and dry

During the holidays, as we use more heating and put our appliances to work overtime, ensuring they are working properly can save us a lot of headaches and money in the process. 

Enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday!


Basement Waterproofing and Remodeling

Do you know if you have a water problem in your basement?  Many families across the country dream about having a fully functioning basement where they can enjoy with their families and friends.  A place where they cannot only store Christmas or other holiday decorations but and can spend time watching TV or playing with their kids.

What are some of the easy signs to look for in case you have water damage in your basement?

  • Water sitting on the floor of the basement
  • musty smell
  • condensation on the walls, ceiling or doors
  • cracks where the wall meets the floor
  • Rust in appliances you have in the basement
  • Dark spots on the walls or ceiling

Before starting with the basement remodeling, Do you know if there is a water issue you have to attend to first? Water problems in the basement of your home can come from two places only, the inside or outside of your home.  If there is a problem with the pipes of your home and the basement is getting water sitting on the floor, replacing the piping may be the only solution at your disposal.  If on the other hand, the water is coming from the outside, there may be different causes and solutions.

Having gutters clogged by debris and blocking the water passage could be the problem with an easy solution and a prompt fix.  If on the other hand, the foundation is the one with the problem, you may need to contact a basement waterproofing expert to look into it and offer a solution that makes sense to you.

If you know you have a basement problem and want a professional opinion, calling a contractor can be the only option you have.  Finishing a basement by yourself is a project worth doing, and one you may know how to tackle, but having a professional handling a basement project may the right  answer for you. Do you know how to hire a professional to handle your home remodeling project? If not, here is a link for you to check and see what are the right questions to ask before you hire a contractor.


 

Can You Spot Foundation Problems in Your Home?

According to a recent study conducted by Harvard University, 40 million Americans live in a house they cannot afford.  The cost of a mortgage, insurance, and taxes are more than they can afford.  The decline in homeownership in the United States has declined for the 12th.consecutive year, while rent prices keep outpacing inflation in this country. The upkeep of a house is a direct correlation between what you pay for your house and the amount you need to save for the upkeep of your home. If you pay $300,000 for a home, $3,000 dollars should be used to keep up with the upkeep of your home.

The upkeep of a house is a direct correlation between what you pay for your house and the amount you need to save for the upkeep of your home. If you pay $300,000 for a home, $3,000 dollars should be used to keep up with the maintenance of your home yearly.

The foundation of your home may not be your priority when thinking about the upkeep of your home, but remember the structural integrity of the foundation is one of the most important parts of your home.

Do you need answers? Contact us, we will be happy to offer a solution to you.


Can You Identify These Common House Foundation Issues?

How many times have you heard someone dismiss foundation cracks as simply an old house that’s “settling”? Ignoring foundation problems such as cracks and uneven floors can lead to serious – and expensive – problems down the road.

Homes are built on dirt and, over time, that dirt will shift and settle. Clay, for example, will contract and expand depending on the moisture. Sand will erode after significant rainfall or flooding. Plus, the average home weighs 160 tons so that’s a lot of pressure on the dirt underneath your home, explains Michael Connolly, marketing manager for Lowcountry Basement Systems, which recently moved into the Charleston market.

“Problems don’t get better, they only get worse, and the worse they get the more expensive they will be to fix,” Connolly says.


Foundation Danger: 5 Things Buyers And Sellers Need To Know

The foundation might not be the most exciting part of the house, but it is arguably the most important.

When you’re buying a home, there are plenty of fun things to focus on, like putting in an outdoor fire pit, chilling a bottle in that fancy new wine fridge, or relaxing in a soaker tub, to name a few. But before you start envisioning organizing your clothes in that fabulous walk-in closet, drop your eyes down a bit to focus on the home’s foundation. It holds up the house, after all. If what lies beneath isn’t good, it can cause lots of headaches (and cost you big).

Whether you’re a buyer with concerns about your potential new home’s foundation or a seller who has noticed some cracks, you’ll likely need to take some kind of action to resolve the issue (or at least know what you’re dealing with). Here’s what to do.


Signs of Foundation Problems

Homeowners often wonder how to identify the different signs of foundation problems. It’s definitely a good question to ask. Here’s why – the longer you wait to treat visible signs of damage, the more severe the damage can become. Left untreated, minor cracks and leaks can turn into serious structural issues that compromise the value and overall health of your home.

Your home’s structural integrity depends on the strength of your foundation. It supports everything else – walls, windows, floors, doorways, roof – so when your foundation is damaged, it can cause serious problems throughout your home.

Like most things in life, your foundation is subject to environmental stress. Expanding and contracting soil, excessive moisture and inadequate drainage are some of the most common threats to your home’s foundation. Over time, environmental stress can cause the foundation to shift, crack or settle unevenly. And homeowners can often miss the early warning signs of foundation damage.


 

Mold in The Basement

Mold and mildews are both common problems indoors and outside your home.  Humidity in your home can be an indicator that you have water seeping into the walls and floor of your basement.  Humidity is a key component to the mold growing in your basement and causing eye irritation, stuffiness, and more serious respiratory problems.  If you have a family member suffering from asthma or other respiratory problems, the mold growing in the basement could be making their symptoms much worse.

What are some of the reasons you have water sitting on the floor of the basement of your home?

Clogged gutters

If the gutters of your home are full of debris, the water may not be finding the correct pathway and overflowing.  Ensuring the gutters are unobstructed to allow the water to flow to the right spout is just common sense, and can save you some headaches along the way.

Cleaning the gutters of your home does not take long if you do them every year.  Try to have someone to help you with the ladder and make sure you follow safety precautions before you start climbing.

Drainage

If water is just gathering around the foundation of your home with no place to go, it may be a major reason why you have water on the basement floor, and seeping through the walls.   The drainage should be taking the water about ten feet from the foundation of your home.

Flower Beds

The flower beds should have the soil sloping away from the foundation to ensure the water doesn’t find a way to your basement.  Bushes and other types of greenery should be kept trim and away from touching the walls of your home as well.

Mulch

Mulch should also be laid flat close to the foundation to avoid gathering water pools and eventually seeping into the walls of the foundation.

Driveways

Even if this is not as common, unleveled driveways can allow the water to run towards the foundation instead of away creating pools of water to seep into the walls and basement of your home.

Leaking Pipes

Indoor water leaking is also a problem if you have leaking pipes without knowing where they are. Before this problem gets any bigger, replacing those leaking pipes can be the solution to the humidity and water problem in the basement.

If you need to find a solution to the water in the basement of your home, contact us, we will be happy to talk to you and offer a solution to your problem that makes sense.


Basement Waterproofing and Other Home Repairs You Can’t Ignore

It is difficult to budget for a home problem when you don’t know if you have one.  An emergency fund can help you solve that problem, but if you have a basement waterproofing issue you may need a bigger emergency fund than you thought.

How do you know if you have a basement waterproofing issue? One of the first and most obvious ones is whether your basement has damp walls. If you have marks around a  specific area on the walls, that may a sign water is getting into that area. If you notice mold or mildew growing on the corners or any other part of the basement, that means you have a lot of moisture and possible water leakage in some parts of the basement.

Don’t wait too long to take care of those problems.  Ignoring them can bring you bigger more expensive problems in the future.  Call waterproofing companies to give you an estimate, and find out whether they have financing available.

For more about this and other problems, follow the links below.


Ask the Carpenter: Tips for dealing with a wet basement

Q. I get water in part of my unfinished basement. I can’t determine whether it is coming in from the outside or up from the water table. I installed a dehumidifier, but I’ve been told that this actually draws in more water if the problem is the water table. What are your thoughts?

A. You may be getting water in your basement for any of the following reasons: lack of gutters, improper ground sloping, clogged perimeter pipes, or hydrostatic pressure.

Your dehumidifier is not causing the water table to rise. Water is seeping in at the wall and floor joint, and oftentimes that can mean hydrostatic water pressure is present. During wet weather, the soil outside your basement becomes saturated. Exterior footing drains aren’t very effective at relieving water pressure, because they usually become clogged with silt or plant roots. With no place to go, hydrostatic pressure continues to build up, and the water will eventually seep in. You have options:


8 Home Repairs You Should Never Put Off

Or you might have a bigger problem in the future.

Hate to break it to you, but ignoring that ugly water spot on the ceiling is the wrong move. Lingering issues around the house can get worse—much worse—if you don’t address them ASAP. Here’s how to identify and fix seemingly small problems before they morph into expensive repairs.

The basement is damp. A musty basement can lead to mold and mildew. Plus, it stinks. Many times, grading the yard encourages the water to run away from the house, rather than leaking into the basement. Installing gutters and downspout extensions channels rain water away from the foundation, which can help keep the basement dry. The worst case scenario is you’ll need to place drain tile around the footings. This job typically requires a pro and costs several thousand dollars.


Three Ways to Ensure Effective Repair Management

After the hottest July on record for the Salt Lake City area, during which my air conditioning unit worked overtime, I noticed a performance slump along with wet carpet in my basement. So, I turned off the AC and called a repairman. He showed up Monday afternoon and simply removed an internal panel, cleaned the drip tray that captures the condensation from the evaporator coil, and unclogged the ¾” drain pipe. I paid a $120 service fee and realized: Had I taken a few extra minutes, I could have saved myself $120, multiple phone calls, and two days of no air conditioning.

Of course, effectively managing repairs for numerous homes across different cities, counties, or even states is much more challenging than doing so for one’s own home. That’s why many lenders and investors hire a vendor partner to develop and execute a successful repair program for their REO or SFR assets. So, what should you look for in a repair management vendor to ensure your repair dollars are maximized?

Understand the Scope of the Repair

Had I really understood what it took to repair my AC unit, I could have done it myself. Similarly, many lenders and investors want to fully understand the scope of repairs, including all the deficiencies of the asset compared to the comparable properties that are available in the neighborhood. Having dedicated, trained vendor partners in the field that are in tune with the local market is essential. Without their input, including photos, descriptions, and their commitment to the best strategy for the asset, you won’t be nearly as effective as you could.


 

What To Ask A Contractor

Are you planning a home project that requires you to hire a contractor?  Do you know what to ask before you begin?

Five questions you must ask a contractor:

  1. How long have you been doing this kind of work?
  2. Are you Insured?
  3. Will you provide a written estimate and warranty?
  4. Are you a licensed and registered contractor with the state?
  5.  Can you provide references I can contact?

Many honest, long time contractors won’t hesitate when you ask them these questions.  They probably expect them and would be more than happy to answer them.  A long history in the community doing the job you are hiring them to do speaks volumes and build trust between the parties.  If the company you are trying to hire has a long history in your community doing great work, the references request you are supposed to ask won’t be a problem for them.

Now, if you call the references they provided, what are some of the questions you may ask?

  1. Are you satisfied with the work they did?
  2. How long ago was the job completed? Is the job holding up?
  3. Was the price agreed upon the final price, or were there other expenses not specified in the contract?
  4.  Were they clean and orderly? Did they arrive on time?
  5. Would you work again with this contractor or company?

The secret to finding a great home contractor

Right now, renovating a home is much, much easier than it was during the real estate bubble. So how do you pick a contractor?

I recall back during the bubble how often I’d get calls from homeowners complaining they couldn’t get a call back from contractors. The frenzy around housing values going up and up and up drummed up plenty of business for contractors at that time.

During the bubble, I even heard of contractors who were so successful that they wouldn’t even give price quotes. The price would just be whatever it would be and you’d have to be in a position to pay it when the bill came due.


 

 

 

 

 

Flood Insurance Coverage; Do You Have It?

 

If hurricanes Irma and Harvey have taught us anything is the fact that natural disasters can occur quickly, and with disastrous consequences.  Hurricanes in the United States are commonplace, specially in Florida and the coastal regions of the country. 

With the hurricanes or heavy rains, flooding is a natural disaster that can occur to any of us.  Flooding can affect people in  every state, and is one of the most common natural disasters in the country.

As homeowners, we cannot control the occurrence of hurricanes, nor  predict the severity or the financial implications that come along with those disasters, but we can help our homes and our financial stability  by ensuring that we do have flood insurance for our homes.

If you have homeowners insurance, it does not mean you have flood insurance.  Make sure you buy it separately through your home insurance agent, so you know you are protected.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) one inch of water in your home can cost you more than $20,000 in damages, why risk not having flood insurance coverage?

For more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


What Flood Insurance Does and Does Not Cover

Hurricanes Irma and Harvey puts renewed attention on the policies. Here’s what you need to know.

The devastation from Hurricane Irma is far from over, but property owners in Florida—as well as those who faced Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana—are already facing the daunting task of rebuilding.

Beyond the human tragedy, the widespread flood damage caused by the storm serves as an important reminder to homeowners in the region—and around the country—about what is covered by insurance and what you need to know about protecting yourself.

As most property owners know, homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flood damage. But even in Florida, Texas and Louisiana—where many people live in coastal areas—only about 20 percent have flood insurance, according to a study by the Washington Post.


About 80% of Hurricane Harvey victims do not have flood insurance, face big bills

NEW YORK – Homeowners suffering flood damage from Harvey are more likely to be on the hook for losses than victims of prior storms — a potentially crushing blow to personal finances and neighborhoods along the Gulf Coast.

Insurance experts say only a small fraction of homeowners in Harvey’s path of destruction have flood insurance. That means families with flooded basements, soaked furniture and water-damaged walls will have to dig deep into their pockets or take on more debt to fix up their homes. Some may be forced to sell, if they can, and leave their communities.

All these people taken out in boats, they have a second problem: They have no insurance,” said Robert Hunter, director of insurance at the Consumer Federation of America.


What You Need To Know Before Buying A Home

Buying or selling a home? There are different reasons why people buy or sell homes.  If this is your first home, buying one seems like establishing ownership and perhaps equity in a home.  If this is not your first home, maybe upgrading to a bigger one seems like the thing to do.  Regardless of the reasons why you are thinking of buying a home, there are many pitfalls you have to be aware of before you commit the though to the actuality. 

Even if a home inspection is done, it does not mean you won’t encounter issues with the home you are buying.  Home issues that are undisclosed by the seller can be fought over in a court of law, but it is better to be prepared before you get to that point.

For more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


How to determine if you have a case against a home seller over an inaccurate disclosure form

I have a question about disclosure. My sellers gave me a disclosure statement that said there were no defects in the home. After we moved in and took down some drywall we found big cracks in the basement foundation. We also found major dry rot.

We called our buyer’s agent and she went to the seller’s agent. Apparently, they gave us the wrong disclosure statement. The old disclosure statement in the file mentioned the cracks. We didn’t get any of that. Should the listing agent pay for repairs?

When we usually get these questions, there is lots of smoke but no smoking gun. In this case, it seems you just found one. A seller is supposed to be truthful when answering the disclosure statement for the buyer. The buyer is entitled to rely on that disclosure statement in buying a home. And, if a seller lies, the buyer is entitled to go after the seller for damages sustained because of an omission in the disclosure statement given to the buyer.


First-Time Homeowner Mistakes

When you own a home, repairs and improvements are inevitable, but keep in mind not every job is DIY. Before you head to the home improvement store, check out these common first-time homeowner mistakes.

Using Bleach for Everything

Bleach is a heavily corrosive material that can eat through sealant on stone surfaces like granite. It can discolor laminate and colored grout, fade enamel and acrylic tubs, and corrode seals within your disposal. It is the often the “go-to” for removing mold, and while it may be successful in some areas, it can actually feed mold growth on absorbent and porous materials, such as grout.

Good ole’ water and vinegar are really all you need for most household cleaning jobs. However, heftier mold or mildew issues, may require a commercial anti-fungal product.

Improper Caulking

Caulking seems like an easy enough job, but there are a million different products out there and choosing the right caulk is critical. The final choice depends on the project. Is it interior or exterior? Does it involve concrete, gutters, roof, moulding, windows, plumbing, etc.?


Yes, You Can Sell a Fixer-Upper As Is, but Should You?

So your home has foundation problems and you just got an estimate for fixing it. Ouch! Or maybe a leak in your roof has led to the discovery that the entire thing needs to be replaced. Or termites have been eating their way through the wood frame of your home, and you’re just now catching on. Whatever the calamity, you always have the option of selling your home even if it needs major repairs. But does it make more sense to sell your house  as is, or put big bucks toward a renovation?

Selling a fixer-upper—even without fixing the major issues

The good news is you can, in fact, sell a fixer-upper. (Let’s not forget where Chip and Joanna Gaines get those dumps to renovate on HGTV’s “Fixer Upper”!) Deciding to sell a home with foundation problems, for example, depends on your financial situation, your equity in the property, and the potential sale price for it, says David Long, a real estate agent with Ebby Halliday Realtors in Plano, TX.


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Home Improvements For The Fall

There are many home issues to keep mind when buying or remodeling  a home.  The biggest home tickets are the roof, a foundation stabilization problem, basement waterproofing and the installation of an Air condition and heating system.

A roof in need of repairs can be visible from the outside.  Loose shingles or other issues like water getting into some parts of your home are visible to you and do not need a home inspector to tell you that.  A new roof is an expensive project for the homeowner, but one that cannot be postponed.

For the foundation of your home, there are two types of foundation problems: cracks that are visible to you and can become a bigger issue if ignored.  And the  displacement from unstable soil, faulty construction, old concrete , tree roots that are too close to the foundation, or the foundation has been exposed to too much water through out the years and has deteriorated over time.  Some of the early signs that you have a problem with the stability of your home are: Uneven flooring, cracked tiles or windows, and windows and doors not closing properly.

Like the roof, a foundation repair can be costly.  And if you had problems with the foundation and ignored the issues, the problems likely got worse, and so will the price.  The roof and the foundation are issues that if ignored can be costly later on.  The damage will be more and the work and material needed to solve those issues are going to cost you more.

The air conditioning and heating system is an expensive addition  to any home, but the financing is almost always available through the same companies that offer you the system.  Nowadays, the refinancing for a heating and cooling systems is about three years.  After that, you only need to maintain the upkeep of the system. With a new system, it is only a yearly checkup for the AC and the furnace in the home .

You can follow the link below to read more about home repairs.


Home Improvement May Be More Affordable Than You Expect: 3 True Stories

Would you love to upgrade or repair your home? Is there a home improvement project you’ve had simmering on the back burner for ages … but never got around to because you assumed you couldn’t afford it? Well, think again. Home repair and upgrade may be more affordable than you thought. You just need to be a little flexible, do your homework, and find a contractor who’s right for you. Read 3 true stories of homeowners who discovered that high-quality home improvement didn’t have to bust their budget.

WE GOT THE “NEW DECK” LOOK WE WANTED AT A PRICE WE COULD AFFORD

When we bought our home a year ago, we really wanted to rip out the ugly old deck (which was splintered, with loose boards and peeling paint) and do brick pavers instead. However, we couldn’t afford everything on our “to-do” home repair list all at once.