How Should You Gauge Your Home for Hazards and Disasters?

By Susanne Dwyer

Do you know how disaster-prone your home or community really is? Smack in the southern end of California—one of the nation’s most disaster-weary states—bloggers at inscenter.com started reaching out to clients years ago to share important data regarding residential risk assessment.

In 1992, University of Colorado’s Dr. William Gray accurately forecasted Hurricane Andrew, and predicted a sharp rise in the number and severity of hurricanes in the near future. The website also flags eerily accurate predictions about floods, tornadoes, and earthquakes, too.

While many states and localities have adopted building codes aimed at reducing damage caused by wind, flood and earthquakes, those codes may not always be enforced. Take Hurricane Andrew, for instance.

Construction industry experts found that Andrew’s posted losses could have been reduced by 30-40 percent had existing building codes been properly enforced.

Did you know that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) maintains a Building Science Branch for developing and producing guidance on creating disaster-resilient communities? They conduct post-disaster engineering investigations for both man-made and natural hazard events.

These building scientists take a lead in developing publications, materials, tools, technical bulletins and recovery advisories incorporating the most up-to-date building codes, floodproofing requirements, seismic design standards, and wind-related requirements for new construction, and the repair of existing buildings.

For property owners, FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance or HMA grants provide funding for pre- and post-disaster mitigation with a goal of reducing the risk of loss of life and property due to natural hazards.

The agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) assists in implementing long-term hazard mitigation measures following Presidential disaster declarations, and its Pre-Disaster Mitigation or PDM initiative provides funds on an annual basis for hazard mitigation planning—and the implementation of mitigation projects prior to a disaster.

The goal of the PDM program is to reduce overall risk to populations and structures while reducing reliance on federal funding from actual disaster declarations.

Source: FEMA.gov/protecting-homes

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

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Nancy Wey
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Do You Have the Right Tools to Dig Into Spring Gardening?

By Susanne Dwyer

As sure as winter will turn to spring, before too long folks will be looking forward to planting gardens and digging into landscaping projects around the yard. So we turned to research from gardenoid.com, which gathered 34 gardening experts to find out their opinions on the top must-have tools for making your garden look stylish in 2018.

Among the most popular tools touted for gardeners is a mattock, which is used for clearing the ground, removing stones and digging out deep roots that create roadblocks.

Composting is another way that homeowners can promote environmental responsibility. Making compost can now become much easier when you make use of a chipper shredder. While a leaf shredder can be used primarily for shredding small-sized leaves and twigs, if you want to chop and shred branches, then gardenoid.com recommends buying a chipper.

At Gardendesign.com, Jennifer Nelson says gardening can turn into a thorny and splintery hassle without the right pair of gloves.

Madaline Sparks at Realsimple.com agrees that while one good pair of garden gloves can be as essential a tool as a shovel or a rake, owning three pairs will make a multitude of tasks easier:

Washable synthetic gloves – For general maintenance, such as deadheading, weeding in dry soil, and handling seeds, the thin fabric and snug fit allow fingers maximum dexterity.

Latex-coated cotton gloves – For dirty, wet jobs, like picking up leaves or planting shrubs, and for working with thorny plants (the latex coating is puncture-resistant)

Heavy-duty leather gloves – For tough jobs, like digging holes, clearing brush, and carrying firewood

Brendan Huggins of Moore Farms Botanical Garden (moorefarmsbg.org) says pruners are one of the most used tools in the garden, and are often one that people skimp on, but a high-quality set of pruners can last a lifetime.

Huggins suggests looking for replaceable blades, a sturdy lock, a replaceable spring, and a place that you can readily purchase replacement parts from when deciding what pruners to buy.

Moore Farms’ Kirk Laminack, on the other hand, says a Japanese planting hoe is an ideal addition to your gardening arsenal when it comes to loosening soil and removing weeds.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
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All You Need to Know About Garage Security

By Susanne Dwyer

According to SafeBee.com, recent reports and social media posts are advising homeowners to use a zip tie to secure their door release mechanisms on the emergency latch present on automatic garage door openers. Although the advice is meant to help reduce burglaries, SafeBee.com says the practice can put homeowners in danger.

Using a zip tie to “lock” this mechanism basically removes this safety feature from the door operator system, putting homeowners and others at risk, as the safety function may not work when needed.

Although reports recommend the addition of the zip tie to avoid garage break-ins, those reports leave out the important safety function that may be disabled by doing so.

To enhance the security of your home while helping to ensure the safe operation of your garage door, SafeBee.com shares these tips from UL and the Door and Access Systems Manufacturer’s Association (DASMA):

  • Never interfere with or defeat the manual emergency release mechanism on your garage door operator.
  • Check with your garage door opener dealer or retailer to see what other safety or security features are available for your particular opener or door model.
  • Consider adding an automatic lock, if available, for your opener.
  • Always lock the entry door between the garage and your house, and any other door or windows that may be in your garage.
  • Consider arming your home or premises with a security system.
  • Do not leave valuables, such as bicycles, tools and equipment, visible from an open garage.
  • Do not leave the garage door transmitter visible in your car, and keep car doors locked if a transmitter is inside the car.
  • For garage doors with windows, use a frosted glass coating, if possible.
  • Finally, if your garage door operator has this feature, enable “vacation mode” when leaving home for an extended period of time, which locks out remote controls from activating the door.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
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3 Ways to Throwback Style

By Susanne Dwyer

(Family Features)—When it’s time for a bathroom or kitchen upgrade, some of the greatest inspiration may come from another time entirely. Some of the most on-trend styles of today are actually throwbacks to bygone eras.

Learn how to make your updated spaces pay tribute to re-emerging trends and add your own modern touches with these three new-again looks.

Retro-Modern
A retro-modern design is unique in every way, with elements transitioning from the historically unfitted 1920s to 1950s charm and eccentricity. The result is a space that represents many eras and design styles, and the kitchen is the perfect space to bring this look to life.

Start by establishing a focal point for your retro-modern design, such as a functional nod to the past. Long before modern refrigeration, iceboxes were used in many of the homes in the early 20th century to keep foods fresh. It’s possible to mimic this look with the Wellborn Cabinet Premier Series, to achieve an icebox look that actually functions as storage space.

Use contrasting finishes, colors and textures to uniquely define a small space. For example, a modern cabinet scheme in a dark stain or paint contrasts beautifully with stainless steel hardware and a pop of color to break up the cold nature of stainless steel.

Then bring some uniformity with an option like Shaker decorative legs, which adds to the multi-era design feel. Deriving from the Shaker lifestyle and tradition, the tapering effect offers a beautiful yet simple design feature. Integrate the look across multiple elements, such as a wooden-style tapered leg icebox, along with stainless steel tapered legs on wall and peninsula cabinets, which can pair nicely with stainless-steel hardware and a 1950s Malt Shop grooved countertop.

Accessories are an important part of kitchen design, which is why they should be kept top of mind when building or designing that dream space. Features such as removable under-sink baskets and a double wastebasket kit lend ultimate practicality.

No matter the era, lighting is a must for a functional kitchen space. A carefully crafted, multi-layered lighting design is an essential component of a dream kitchen. An option like Hafele lighting, now offered through a partnership with Wellborn Cabinet, makes it possible to illuminate cabinetry, delivering ambient, accent, task and decorative lighting to create the right mood for any space.

Elegant
A beautiful, ornate bathroom with plenty of traditional features can truly be an interpretation of elegance in design. Plan for an abundance of luxurious, spa-like elements to achieve this look. Incorporate features such as warm hickory covering every inch of the walls and built-in lighting to set the tone for a relaxing atmosphere. Then incorporate antique-styled mirrors and glass hardware to create contrasts among the rich tones and texture.

You can create a distinctive alcove effect by situating the sink vanities directly between matching cabinet ends and recessing two mirrors into the wall. A decorative arch valance can add beauty and function, as this is an ideal place to tuck away lighting that provides depth and visibility.

Let a large soaking tub take center stage between the sink vanity and a custom makeup area. While you can rely on cabinetry for functional features, it’s also a way to continue adding elegant touches, such as a beautifully crafted tub skirt and arch that complements the vanity area.

No luxury bathroom is complete without a standalone makeup alcove outfitted with unique features like drawer dividers (perfect for hair accessories) and countertop hideaway cabinets. Consider creating a focal point using rounded spindles to create depth and allow the custom makeup section to stand out in the design. Lastly, embellish the distinguished look with molding options that highlight the feature areas and create a defined line around the room.

An elegant, spacious master bathroom is luxurious and functional, proving that practicality can be used in a glorious way.

Retro
Going to the extreme with your aesthetic with a retro design is all about fun, with features such as pops of color in the tile behind the vanities or fun and whimsical wallpaper. A 1950s-style bathroom lets you play on your childlike senses. From bright colors to mixed metals and textures, this unique design style pays respect to the era of carhops, Airstream Travel Trailers and Lucille Ball.

The key to making a throwback-styled design work for your contemporary needs is all in the modern elements. Think along the lines of illuminated drawers and cabinets and base pull-out wire baskets. These fun twists of technology paired with retro-styled elements make for a winning solution.

When it comes to the vanities and cabinetry, remember that both style and color can bring your retro design together. Don’t be afraid to step outside more traditional wood tones, and use unexpected colors, such as the pink hue available in Wellborn Cabinet’s ColorInspire program. For the woodwork, look for details such as conical-styled, slender legs that add to the 1950s feel.

Reminiscent of days past, a fabulous ’50s bathroom is the ultimate definition of an eccentric design.

There’s no time like now to begin planning your on-trend home upgrades. Explore the latest styles and home design options at wellborn.com.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

5 Interior Design Details for Winter

By Susanne Dwyer

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Are you interested in adding a little seasonal oomph to your space? Below are a handful of cozy—and inexpensive—winter updates.

Cozy blankets galore. Nothing is better than a snuggly blanket on a cool winter evening. Drape heavier blankets over sofas, chairs or reading nooks, and even fold one up by the fireplace for stretching out on the floor. Just make sure it’s safely away from the flames!

Gray space. The color gray is a winter staple. Swap out your fiery fall throw pillows for a gunmetal shade, unroll a deep gray rug in the living or dining room, or update your window coverings to a gentle ash tone.

Candle craze. Soft lighting in winter can create a romantic, warm effect. Place candles around the house and ditch the harsh overheads as you settle in with that evening glass of wine.

Bring out your book lover. Stacks of books offer an inviting way to spend those chilly winter hours. Create attractive assemblies on side tables, shelves, inside your unused fireplace, or even in corners on the floor.

Wooden wonders. Adding wood accents to your home in the winter makes you feel like you’re living in a ski lodge. Pile logs in the corner for fire (or simple aesthetics) and add a rustic wood table by the sofa for setting that warm mug of tea. No table? Try a large, seasoned stump for some real rustic vibes.

Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia’s senior content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at zoe@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Ask the Expert: How Can I Guide Clients Through the Home Inspection Process?

By Susanne Dwyer

Today’s Ask the Expert column features Adam Long, president of HomeTeam Inspection Service.

Q: What can be done to guide clients through the home inspection process?

A: After being in business for 25 years and performing over a million inspections, HomeTeam Inspection Service has identified the top ways to ensure a smoother home inspection, contributing to happier clients and a better outcome.

Make It Convenient
The home inspection process—from scheduling to report delivery—should be convenient for everyone involved. Online scheduling, text messaging and electronic delivery of reports make convenience possible when it comes to the home inspection. If a home inspection company isn’t providing this, clients are missing out on the best possible experience.

Don’t Keep Them Waiting
Ten years ago, it was commonplace to wait five days or more for a home inspection, but today, consumers want it now. Plus, consumers are busier than ever today. They not only want a home inspection that can be performed soon, but also one that can be performed in half the time of the traditional three- to -four-hour inspection. That’s a large part of what makes HomeTeam successful. Our team approach allows for a faster inspection and more appointment slots each day.

Give Them Options
Clients only want to pay for services they need. While most home inspection companies offer a wide range of services, client needs vary, and the leading home inspection companies allow clients to schedule individual services like pest, mold and radon.

Ensure It’s Educational
A home inspector will not give a pass/fail grade on a home, but will give an objective assessment on the condition of the home during the inspection. Educating the client on their new home and how to maintain it is a sign of a professional inspector. Communicating information in a non-alarming manner is critical to helping clients absorb information and make prudent decisions. An inspector that’s accessible to answer questions onsite and after the inspection instills peace of mind in clients and makes them more confident in their purchase decision.

Deliver Accurate Reporting
In addition to a verbal report that the client receives onsite, the most professional inspection companies will furnish a narrative, electronic report that’s emailed to the client and agent. A narrative-style report is more detailed than a checklist-style report, putting forth a clearer picture of the home with less room for interpretation. Including photos and a summary helps the client easily identify any safety concerns or areas that warrant attention.

For more information, please visit www.hometeam.com.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Need a New Mattress? Read This First

By Susanne Dwyer

Thanks to a myriad of ads, promotions and persuasive marketing ploys, buying a new mattress can be confusing. But when you get right down to it, there are basically three common mattress types:

Innerspring – Composed of steel coils in various configurations, these are the most traditional and most widely sold mattresses. Most have between 600 and 1,000 coils, and some may have foam layers or pillow-top cushioning added. More coils do not guarantee superiority, though, because they may be made of thinner-gauge metal.

Memory Foam – Mostly made of polyurethane or latex foam, these are favored by people with back pain because the foam softens and molds to your body when you lie on it and springs back when you get up. Some owners say it “sleeps hot,” but newer variations infuse gel to keep it cool.

Adjustable Air – These are inflated with a pump at your bedside to suit your desired firmness. Foam layers are added for more comfort, and each side can be adjusted to suit the comfort of bed partners.

Because choosing the right mattress is an individual choice, Consumer Reports recommends five important tips to keep in mind while shopping:

Take Your Time – Spend at least 5-10 minutes on a mattress in each of your favorite sleeping positions—and don’t let the salesman pressure you. (If you are shopping somewhere where trying them is not an option, be sure there is a generous return policy.)

Know the Return Policy – Most stores offer a full refund or credit toward another mattress for a couple of weeks to 120 days from purchase, although some will require a re-stocking fee—but you’ll be responsible for the return and any damage.

You Can Haggle – While some warehouse stores and other low-price leaders are pretty firm on price, most retailers will come down a bit on the price.

Understand the Warranty – It may range from 10-25 years, but coverage is sometimes pro-rated, decreasing over time.

Do You Need a New Box Spring? – If you’re switching to a foam or adjustable air bed from an innerspring, you’ll need a boxy foundation that lacks springs and wire. Otherwise, if your box spring isn’t broken and is still structurally sound, consider keeping it and saving money.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Cleaning House on the Quick and Cheap

By Susanne Dwyer

We once met a woman who loved to clean house. She said it gave her a feeling of accomplishment. For many, however, it’s a thankless chore, and the sooner done, the better.

Consumer editors at Woman’s Day Magazine and the DIY Network offer seven ways to save time and money and still keep your home sparkling clean:

All-purpose cleaners – No need to buy cleaning solutions for a single purpose. Fill a squirt bottle with four tablespoons of baking soda and a quart of warm water. Use it to clean kitchen counters, appliances, inside the fridge and more—or add one-third cup vinegar to a quart of water to clean glass, countertops and even floors.

Burnt food on burners – Remove burnt-on food from stove burners by soaking them overnight in a zip-lock bag filled with a cup of ammonia.

Burnt food in pans – No need to throw out or replace that badly burnt pan. Heat a cup of white vinegar in it until warm. Remove from the heat and mix in two tablespoons of baking powder. After 15 minutes, rinse with warm water and voila!

Microwave magic – To degrease and clean the inside of your microwave, cook one half-cup of water mixed with one half-cup of vinegar in it for two minutes. A clean rag should wipe the mess right off.

Forget paper towels – They’re expensive and they often leave a residue. Buy a pack of micro-fiber cleaning rags that will clean better and can be used over and over again.

Zap the sponge – It’s a breeding ground for bacteria. Disinfect it often by squeezing it out and microwaving it on high for a minute. No need to replace it until it is shredding or smelly.

Shower curtain bath – If mold or mildew are attacking the shower curtain, throw it in the washing machine with a few towels, which will help scrub it, then hang it back up to dry.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

5 Ways to Power Through Procrastination

By Susanne Dwyer

Whether it’s cleaning out the basement or redesigning your website, nearly all of us have something lingering on our to-do list that we just keep pushing off. Below are a handful of ways to stop procrastinating and improve your overall productivity.

Do it first. If you’re dreading it, do it first. There’s nothing worse than a lingering aura of dread over a task, so by tackling it head on, you eliminate both the project and the anxiety around it.

Set small daily goals. If it’s a larger task (like that big basement clean-out), set small daily goals to keep you on track. For instance, choose one small corner to clean every evening, working in 15-minute increments. After two weeks, the project will be off your shoulders and it will have felt like a smaller deal.

Ask for accountability. An accountability partner is one of the best ways to slash procrastination—but choose carefully. You need to find someone not afraid to dole out a little tough love.

Remove temptation. Do you know that social media or Netflix feeds your procrastination demon? Cut those things off completely until you can get your to-do done.

Reward yourself. Kids and dogs aren’t the only ones who love a treat for a trick! Choose an affordable, healthy reward, like a massage or tickets to a play, to help keep you motivated to bump that item off your list. Or, if you’ve removed a few beloved temptations, simply adding them back in may do the trick!

Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia’s senior content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at zoe@rismedia.com.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Ask the Expert: How Should I Prepare a Home to Sell in the Fall?

By Susanne Dwyer

Today’s Ask the Expert column features Dan Steward, president of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors.

Q: What are your top tips for preparing to sell a home in the fall?

A: First and foremost, use the beauty of the season. If you’re lucky enough to live in a region that experiences changing seasons, take advantage of everything the season has to offer by incorporating autumnal flowers, plants and floral arrangements into the mix. Whether it’s colorful mums or adding intense color and drama to the home’s exterior with perennials, feature a variety of fall floral arrangements both inside and outside the home.

Next, be sure to check the roof and gutters. While a roof’s drainage system diverts thousands of gallons of water from a home’s exterior and foundation walls, it’s important to keep the process moving in order to avoid water damage. In addition to taking the time to unclog and clean the gutters, now is also a good time to inspect the roof from top to bottom. In addition to looking for damage to metal flashing in and around vents and chimneys, check ridge shingles for cracks and wind damage.

While outside, take the time to check driveways, walkways and steps for any noticeable damage. Fixing any problem areas during the fall is critical in order to prevent little problems from becoming expensive headaches down the line. Look for cracks that are more than 1/8-inch wide, uneven sections and loose railings on steps.

Before the bitter temperatures of the winter season move in, take the necessary steps to ensure that outside faucets and in-ground irrigation systems don’t freeze and burst. Close any shut-off valves serving outside faucets, then open the outside faucet to the drain line. If you don’t have shut-off valves, or freeze-proof faucets, you can buy faucet covers at your local home improvement store.

Moving inside, check the home for air leaks, as gaps in caulk and weather-stripping can account for 10 percent of a home’s heating bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. While weather-stripping is the most cost-effective way to control heating and cooling costs, it should be checked and replaced as needed every six months.

And last, but not least, bring in a professional to inspect the home’s heating system to ensure it’s working properly before the cold weather arrives.

For more information, please visit www.pillartopost.com.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893