Category: PostNotes

Pillar To Post Newsletter November 2019

SAFETY SENSE

Holiday & Winter Fire Safety

Help keep your loved ones and your home safe during the holidays with these smart precautions.

  • Check holiday light strands for damaged or broken wires and plugs. Enjoy indoor lights only while someone is home and turn them off before going to bed.
  • Keep live Christmas trees in a sturdy, water-filled stand and check daily for dehydration. Dried-out trees are dangerous and should be discarded immediately.
  • Always use non-flammable decorations both indoors and outdoors.
  • Be sure to keep space heaters away from bedding, curtains, paper — anything flammable. Never leave space heaters unattended while in use.
  • Children should not have access to or be allowed to use matches, lighters or candles.
  • Candles add lovely ambience to your holiday home. They need to be placed in stable holders and kept away from flammable items, drafts, pets and children or use an LED candle for peace of mind.
  • Busy with holiday cooking and baking? Kitchen fires are the leading cause of house fires. Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher within easy reach and know how to use it.

We hope you enjoy a happy and safe holiday season!



Energy boosing tips

LIFE SMARTS

Feeling Blah? Top Energy- Boosting Ideas

Try these tips to keep your energy up throughout the day.

  1. If you’re a morning person, try getting up extra early to get a jump on the day, or to just get some extra time for yourself.
  2. Morning stretches help your body get off to a good start, and help with flexibility, too!
  3. Instead of that afternoon cup of coffee, opt for a brisk walk outdoors.
  4. Sitting at a desk all day? Be sure to get up to stretch for a couple of minutes at least every half hour.
  5. Avoid caffeine later in the day. It will just keep you up late and you’ll feel tired in the morning as a result.

Here’s to a great day!



Man cleaning out gutters

MAINTENANCE MEMO

Your Roof & Drainage Checklist

You may not think about your roof and gutters very much, if at all. But it’s important to give them a checkup and some TLC to prevent big problems down the road.

  • Clean leaves and other debris from gutters to prevent clogs and pooling water. You may need to do this more than once a year if you have very heavy leaf fall.
  • After cleaning the gutters, run water through them from your garden hose to make sure the downspouts are clear and the water is channeled away from the foundation.
  • Check gutter sections for alignment and adjust them if necessary. Make sure seams between the sections are watertight.
  • Downspout extensions, available at hardware stores, can be used to carry water away from the home. Use these only where they won’t pose a tripping hazard.
  • Use binoculars to check the roof for missing or damaged shingles and flashing. If you notice any issues, have the roof inspected and any repairs made by a qualified professional before the snow!


Woman looking into a fridge

HOUSEWISE

Cold Comfort

Keeping your refrigerator in top shape will help it last longer and run more efficiently. Here’s how to do it!

CLEAN THE COILS

Dust or vacuum the condenser coils every few months. Depending on your specific model, they may be located under, behind or above the unit.

SUPER SEAL

Clean dirt and debris from the door gasket on all sides. Check for cracks or other damage and replace the gasket if necessary to keep a tight seal.

FILTER IT

Change the water filter for the ice maker and water dispenser as recommended by the manufacturer. No one wants dirty ice!

TAKE THE TEMP

Use a refrigerator thermometer to make sure the temperature stays below 38°F /4°C. The freezer should be at 0°F /-18°C.

FILL ‘ER UP

Keep both the fresh food storage and freezer sections at least half full if possible. Cold or frozen food help maintain the temperature inside, much like a portable cooler stays colder longer when it’s full of cold items.

TIME TO GO?

If your fridge is over 20 years old, it should probably be replaced. An aging refrigerator might be using up to 3 times the amount of electricity compared to current energy-efficient models. Appliance delivery usually includes removing and recycling your old (faithful) unit.

Following these steps will help your refrigerator last longer, perform at its best, and will save on energy costs, too.



Woman baking with her children

HOME SMARTS

Smoke Alarms 101

Smoke alarms are an important defense against injury or death in house fires, so make sure your smoke alarms are in good shape to help warn your family in case of emergency.

  • Location is key! Smoke alarms should be installed in every bedroom, outside every sleeping area, and on each level of the home. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement.
  • The two primary types of smoke alarm technology are ionization and photoelectric. Ionization alarms are more responsive to flames, while photoelectric alarms are more sensitive to smoldering fires. For the best protection, both types or combination units should be installed.
  • Never remove the unit’s battery or disconnect the alarm to stop or prevent annoying alarm bells such as those caused by cooking.
  • Replace the batteries at least once a year. Test each unit monthly using its test button and replace the battery if necessary. Many alarms now come with 10-year batteries that can’t be replaced, but should still be tested monthly to make sure they work.
  • Smoke alarms that are wireless or hard-wired to the home’s electrical system should be interconnected. If one alarm is triggered, all of the others will sound as well. Hard-wired alarms, interconnected or not, should be installed by a licensed electrician for safety and proper operation.

Remember, a non-working smoke alarm is no better than no alarm at all!



Bright laundry room with white cabinets and appliances

CLEAN LIVING

Laundry Room Ideas

Whether you’re looking to improve your existing setup or re-doing your laundry area, consider these ideas for making the best of laundry day.

  • Have a place to hang clothes that can’t go in the dryer. If you have the space, use a folding or pull-out drying rack.
  • Store detergent and other laundry products where you can reach them easily without bending or climbing.
  • Fold clean laundry on a bed if you don’t have counter space in the laundry room.
  • Consider a washing machine leak detector that will give you an early alert to a water leak.
  • Add some fun framed photos or kids’ artwork to the space and make the chore less of a bore.

Laundry hanging

Experience the Pillar To Post difference. Schedule your next home inspection today!

Pillar To Post Newsletter September 2019

Special Realtor Safety Issue!

Realtor ready to show a home

Inside This Special Issue

September is Realtor Safety Month. The safety of Realtors is paramount to all of us at Pillar To Post Home Inspectors, so this special issue of PostNotes is dedicated to actions and strategies brokers, agents and their teams can use to stay safe in their day-to-day business activities.

Additional resources:

Please visit these websites for additional safety information, tools and resources:

www.nar.realtor/safety

www.beverlycarterfoundation.org



Realtor showing kitchen

Tips for Holding a Safe Open House

Safety during open houses is a concern for all real estate agents and their teams. Use these tips to stay safe:

  1. Always try to have at least one other person working with you at the open house.
  2. Check your cell phone’s signal strength on the premises before the open house. Program emergency numbers on speed dial.
  3. Upon entering a house for the first time, check all rooms and determine several “escape” routes. Make sure all deadbolt locks are unlocked to facilitate a faster escape.
  4. Make sure that if you were to escape by the back door, you could escape from the backyard. Yards with swimming pools or hot tubs often have high fences.
  5. Have all open house visitors sign in with their full name, address, phone number and e-mail.
  6. When showing the house, always walk behind the prospect. Direct them; don’t lead them. Say, for example, “The kitchen is on your left,” and gesture for them to go ahead of you.
  7. Avoid attics, basements, and getting trapped in small rooms.
  8. Notify someone in your office, a friend or a relative that you will be calling in every hour on the hour. And if you don’t call, they are to call you.
  9. Inform a neighbor that you will be showing the house and ask if he or she would keep an eye and ear open for anything out of the ordinary.
  10. Don’t assume that everyone has left at the end of an open house. Check all rooms and the backyard before locking the doors. Be prepared to defend yourself, if necessary.

Sources: Washington Real Estate Safety Council; City of Mesa, Arizona; Nevada County Board of REALTORS®; Georgia Real Estate Commission



Woman on phone

Office Safety Action Plan

Personal safety in the office is important to everyone. Here are some elements to include in your office safety action plan.

Initial meeting with clients

Hold the first in-person client meeting in the office rather than at properties, out of doors, or at home. It’s also a good idea to introduce them to a colleague on-site.

Client ID

All first-time clients must provide a driver’s license, state ID or other official photo ID. The office will retain a copy of the ID for security purposes. You can download a Client Profile Form at www.beverlycarterfoundation.org.

Distress code

Implement a verbal distress code—a secret word or phrase that can be casually worked into conversation if you feel threatened and the person you are with can overhear your conversation.

Buddy system

If you’re uncomfortable meeting with clients alone or hosting open houses alone request another agent or employee to accompany you.

Privacy first

Keep personal information private. Don’t discuss where you live, after-work or vacation plans in front of prospective clients, new colleagues or anyone with whom you’re not comfortable.

Limit access

Make sure all doors other than the main entrance are secured, and have a clear exit route from the front desk to the door.

Solo security

If you encounter a stranger while working late or alone, say something like “My supervisor will be right with you.” to give the impression you’re not there alone.

Be aware of surroundings

Get to recognize the staff of other nearby businesses and be aware of their schedules. This will benefit everyone.

Sources: NAR; Beverly Carter Foundation



Realtor shaking hands outside a home

Showing Empty Properties

When you are showing an empty property, take these simple steps to protect and empower yourself against attack or theft.

  • Be sure to use the lockbox property-key procedure that has been established to improve real estate agent safety so that keys don’t fall into the wrong hands.
  • Show properties before dark. If you must show a property after dark, alert an associate, turn on all lights as you go through, and don’t lower any shades or draw curtains or blinds.
  • Try and call the office once an hour to let people know where you are.
  • If you think it may be some time before a property sells (and you may, therefore, be showing it often), get acquainted with a few of the immediate neighbors. You will feel better knowing they know your vehicle, and they will feel better about the stranger (you) who frequently visits their neighborhood.
  • Prepare a scenario so that you can leave or encourage someone who makes you uncomfortable to leave. Examples: Your cell phone went off and you have to call your office; you left some important information in your car; another agent with buyers is on his way.
  • When showing a property, always leave the front door unlocked for a quick exit while you and the client are inside. As you enter each room, stand near the door.
  • Lock your purse in the car trunk before you arrive. Carry only non-valuable business items (except for your cell phone), and do not wear expensive jewelry or watches, or appear to be carrying large sums of money.
  • Park at the curb in front of the property rather than in the driveway. It is much easier to escape in your vehicle if you don’t have to back out of a driveway. And while parked in a driveway another vehicle could purposefully or accidentally trap you.

Sources: Louisiana REALTORS® Association; Washington Real Estate, Safety Council; City of Albuquerque, NM; Nevada County Association of REALTORS®; City of Mesa, AZ



Two people standing in a kitchen

Top 10 Tips for Personal Safety

  1. Touch base. Always let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll return. Arrange for your office to call you to check in.
  2. Don’t get lost. Always know the exact address of where you’re going. If you use a navigation app, pull over and stop in a safe place if you’ve made a wrong turn.
  3. Sense your surroundings. Is there questionable activity in the area of a property you’re showing? Is anyone loitering? Follow your instincts if you feel you should leave. Leave!
  4. Don’t go it alone. Have an associate or other colleague host open houses with you.
  5. Limit the view. If you’re working late, use window coverings so that you’re not visible to passersby or a potential attacker.
  6. Go on the defense. Learn some self-defense skills. Many health clubs, martial arts studios and community colleges offer basic classes.
  7. Choose flight over fight. Self defense is a good idea, but the primary goal in any threatening situation is to escape from immediate danger and call for help.
  8. Park for protection. Always park in a well-lit, visible location whether you’re parking at your office, an open house, or an empty property.
  9. Make calling for help easy. Program important numbers into your cell phone, including your office, roadside assistance and 911.
  10. Know who you’re dealing with. Ask for ID, take a photo of a client’s license plate. A criminal won’t be comfortable with this and may be thwarted.

Source: NAR Realtor Safety Resource Kit.


Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is pleased to provide this information for the safety and well being of Realtors. We hope you find this Special Issue useful for yourself and your team. Please stay safe.

Pillar To Post Newsletter July 2019

HOME SENSE

Exterior Upkeep To Do Now

Try these essential tips to keep your home’s exterior in good shape and to help preserve its value.

ROOF AND SIDING

  • Use binoculars to check the roof for missing or damaged shingles. Flashing should be tight and secured to prevent leaks. Have any problem areas repaired by a licensed, qualified roofing contractor.
  • Repair any cracks or gaps in the siding and around windows. Make sure these are repaired before you decide to paint.
  • No need to paint? Power washing makes quick work of removing built up dirt and mildew and will brighten your home immediately. You can hire a professional to do this, or rent the equipment by the day or half day.

GUTTERS AND DRAINAGE

  • Clean debris from gutters and evestroughs, then flush with a garden hose.
  • Check all downspouts to make sure they direct water away from the house.
  • Clear basement window wells of debris, weeds, and other materials. Don’t use window wells to store items such as garden hoses or tools. Obstructing the wells’ drainage system can cause water to leak into the house.

WALKWAYS AND DRIVEWAY

  • Repair gaps and cracks using materials appropriate for your specific surfaces, such as concrete, asphalt, etc.
  • On walkways and steps, repair uneven or heaved surfaces that can create a tripping hazard.

A well-maintained exterior not only looks good and can help prevent big problems down the road, it will make you feel good about coming home every day.



Child riding bike with her parents

HOME & FAMILY

5 Ideas For Summer Fun

While school’s out, try a few of these activities to fill your days (or nights!) with fun.

Head out to explore a local park that’s new to you. Don’t forget to pack a picnic!

Visit a museum on discounted or free admission days. You’re sure to learn something new.

Check out organized volunteer opportunities the family can do together, from trail cleanup to helping at the local food bank.

Take advantage if your town offers outdoor movie nights. A blanket and snacks are about all you need.

Play tourist without leaving town. Take in a local historic attraction, a theme park or another place you’d normally skip.



Question mark

HOME SMARTS

What Do You Know? Take Our Quiz!

  1. How can you help improve your indoor air quality?
    1. Keep indoor humidity below 50%.
    2. Use a HEPA filter vacuum.
    3. Open doors and windows whenever possible.
    4. Use less-toxic cleaning products.
    5. All of the above.
  2. True or False:

    A home either passes or fails a home inspection.

    • True
    • False
  3. Which statement is incorrect?
    1. It’s a great idea for buyers to be present at the home inspection.
    2. There’s no good reason to have heating and cooling serviced before the home inspection.
    3. Sellers should keep pets crated or out of the home during the inspection.
    4. It’s a good rule of thumb to allow 3 hours for the home inspection, more if the home is very large or old.
  4. True or False:

    Caulk and grout are different materials with different purposes.

    • True
    • False
question mark box dividerquestion mark box dividerquestion mark box divider

ANSWERS:

  1. E. These steps can help to limit pollutants, allergens and other irritants in the home.
  2. False. A professional home inspection provides an unbiased evaluation of a home’s systems and components to inform buyers and sellers about its condition. There is no scoring or grading involved.
  3. B. Heating and cooling that’s in good working order is important for a clean home inspection.
  4. True! In short, grout is used to fill spaces between tiles and to keep them in place. Caulk is used as a sealant, usually around where tile meets tub. Outdoors, caulk is used to prevent leaks around doors and windows.


Minimize your energy consumption

HOUSEWISE

Eco-smart The Easy Way

Try these simple tips around the house to minimize energy consumption, lower your utility bills and reduce your carbon footprint.

  • LED bulbs are big energy savers and can last many years. And LED light doesn’t have to be cold and harsh. LEDs are now available in warmer, more flattering tones that look great.
  • Connect computers, TVs and other electronics to power strips that can be turned off at night. Even when these items aren’t in use, standby mode can draw more power than you think. For the most flexibility, look for power strips that allow some outlets to stay on while others are shut off.
  • Use the dishwasher! Newer dishwashers typically use about one-sixth the water needed to wash the same amount of dishes by hand. Skip the heated dry cycle. The rinse cycle water will be hot enough to evaporate quickly if you open the door and let the dishes air dry instead. Always run full loads for the best cleaning results.
  • When you’re home, set the thermostat to 78°F/ 26°C or higher in the summer. Installing a programmable thermostat is inexpensive and can further your energy savings all year round.
  • Schedule your heating and cooling system for a checkup every two years. Be sure to clean the filter or coils monthly on your air conditioner and refrigerator. These appliances work more effectively and efficiently when they’re clean.


Backyard patio string lights

SEASONAL SENSE

“Summer-ize” Your Home!

Making your home feel and look like summer will reward you and your family with comfort, fun and ease. Here are some easy tips you can try right now.

  • Love cooking and eating outdoors? String up some fun patio lights to enjoy as evening settles in. There are hundreds of styles and colors available, so you’re bound to find something that will reflect your personal style.
  • Try an outdoor area rug for the patio or deck. Rugs made specifically for the outdoors resist fading and mildew, and can be hosed clean. They’re more comfortable underfoot than wood, concrete or pavers, too.
  • Plant easy-care annual flowering plants near the patio or in pots – it’ll put a smile on your face. Check with your local garden center to find out which plants will thrive in full sun and which ones will need some protection from strong summer rays.
  • Have some great flowers in your garden for cutting? Look around your home for forgotten pitchers, glassware and other unusual containers that can showcase your favorite blooms.
  • Change out throw pillows or pillow covers for bright stripes and patterns that complement your rooms. It’s an easy and inexpensive way to bring a colorful change in an instant.

Your home in summer is a great place to be. Make the most of it!



Sunroom

INSPECTION INSIGHT

Spotlight On Sunrooms

Sunrooms are all about connecting with the outdoors by bringing the sun in, and they can add value to a home. Here we take a look at some important factors to be aware of when considering adding a sunroom:

Heat Gain / Heat Loss

While heat gain and heat loss are real issues, high-quality sunrooms will be tightly sealed. High-quality glass will minimize unwanted heat transfer and should be selected according to your climate.

Condensation

Interior condensation is a common problem in full glass sunrooms. During cold weather, it forms on the inside of the glass and trickles down, and can look like a roof leak. A well-designed and constructed sunroom system will channel the condensation to the exterior.

Water Leakage

Water leakage tops the list of complaints about sunrooms. Water leaks can have several causes. The glass roof can leak as gasket materials break down. Roof and wall joints are susceptible to leaks due to improper flashing. If a sunroom is added to a house and the existing wall removed, that flashing may be a vulnerability.

Safety Glass

Tempered glass is the usual choice for overhead glass. Also used in auto glass, it’s safer than regular glass because it breaks into small, rounded pieces instead of shards. Some local codes may require laminated glass instead, which will hold together when shattered. It’s important to use an installer who is familiar with the local requirements for sunroom construction and materials.

Pillar To Post Newsletter May 2019

seasonal sense

SEASONAL SENSE

Top Tips for A Summer-Ready Home

Spread tasks over a few weeks to be set for a worry-free, enjoyable summer.

INDOORS

  • Close the chimney flue to prevent insects from entering and to help keep cool air in.
  • If possible, take area rugs outside and hang them over a deck or porch rail to air out.
  • Change the rotation of ceiling fans to the summer setting. Give the unit a good dusting to avoid blowing dust around the room.
  • Switch out heavy bedding for lightweight summer fabrics. Have your winter bedding cleaned before storing it away for the season.
  • Repot houseplants to give their roots a fresh start for the summer.

OUTDOORS

  • Power wash decks and patios and seal surfaces as appropriate.
  • If paint is peeling, cracking, or chipped, repair and repaint now to limit damage to the underlying materials.
  • Remove window screens and clean them with a soft brush and soapy water. Rinse well and allow them to dry in the sun before reinstalling.
  • Have the air conditioning unit serviced to ensure peak operation. Promote good air intake by keeping plants around the unit trimmed.
  • Clear dirt and debris from gutters and eaves.
  • Seal cracks in the driveway and keep walkways clear of debris and overgrown plants.
  • Test irrigation and sprinkler systems and replace any broken sprinkler heads or emitters. Check for proper water coverage and adjust if necessary.

Now, on to summer!


LIFE SMARTS

Moving?

life smarts

Be sure to pack these items in your car to make the first few days in your new home easier.

  • Medications that you will need right away.
  • A couple of pots, pans, cups and plates so you don’t have to rummage through those kitchen boxes when it’s breakfast time.
  • Clothes for the first few days, whether for work, school or just unpacking.
  • A few activities, toys, books, or games for the kids.
  • Pet food and medications, litter boxes, leashes and treats.
  • Towels, shampoo and soap, so you’re set for that first shower.
  • Sheets, pillows and blankets so you’re ready for the first night. Sleep tight!

inspection insights

INSPECTION INSIGHTS

Central Air:
Too Much or Too Little?

You want your home to be cool and comfortable when the temperatures soar. But an air conditioning system that’s oversized for the house isn’t the best way to go. “Oversized” doesn’t refer to the physical size, but rather the system capacity. An oversized system is sized to operate optimally on the hottest day of the season, but the rest of the time that capacity isn’t needed. Yes, it will cool the house very quickly, using short “on” cycles. However, this is inefficient and won’t dehumidify the house adequately, wasting energy and leaving the air feeling cold and clammy.

If you want peak efficiency and dehumidification without worry that your system can’t keep up in the hottest day, choose a system that will operate at two capacities. It’s like having two AC systems in one – an undersized mode that will have very long “on” cycles and a larger capacity mode to keep you comfortable even on the hottest days of the year.

If you’re considering a replacement air conditioning system, be sure to ask your installer about these two-stage compressor systems. You’ll be ready to beat the heat efficiently and comfortably.


paint3

CREATIVE HOME

How To Use That Extra Paint

Have some paint left over from a recent project? Don’t just store it away. Put it to good use with some of these creative ideas:

  1. Paint the inside of a linen or coat closet.
  2. Use it on shelves or cabinets in your garage or shed.
  3. Refresh a patio bench or table with leftover exterior paint.
  4. Paint picture frames to create a unified look for your photo gallery.
  5. Add a quick coat to the inside of a bookshelf for a pop of color.
  6. Paint the outsides of flower pots in a solid color, or get creative with a design.
  7. Transform a yard-sale table or chair into a one-of-a-kind find.
  8. Customize a canvas tote with water-thinned latex paint.

paint1 paint2


pet1 pet2

HOME & LIFE

Pet Project: Hot Weather and Your Furry Friends

Pets can overheat when the temperature and humidity climb. Some simple precautions to take include:

  • Have plenty of clean, fresh water available indoors and out.
  • Provide a shady spot so your pets can get out of the sun.
  • Avoid walking or running with your dog during the hottest part of the day. If you must walk, remember that paved surfaces can burn your dog’s paws.
  • Never leave your pets alone in the car, even with the windows open. Cars heat up very quickly, even if it’s not that hot outside.
  • Keep older or overweight cats and dogs indoors as much as possible.
  • Dog and cat breeds with flat faces are particularly susceptible to heat-related issues.
  • Know the warning signs of overheating. Your pet may pant excessively, have an increased heart rate or find breathing difficult. Check with your veterinarian for more information.

home sense

HOME SENSE

Treat Your Windows Right

Choosing window treatments can be a bewildering task. Here’s an overview of the most popular types of window coverings.

SHADES

Shades are available in many styles, including roller and Roman types. Room-darkening materials are great for bedrooms, while light-filtering fabrics afford privacy and sunlight. Solar shade material lets you enjoy the view while keeping out glare.

DRAPES

Drapes can go formal or casual, depending on the fabric and style. Hang drapes at ceiling height to make the window and room look taller, and make sure the fabric

extends all the way to the floor for a stylish look.

SHUTTERS & BLINDS

Crisp and clean, these give a polished look to any room while offering flexible light and privacy control. Either can be opened or closed completely, and the slats are adjustable for just the right amount of light and view.

Start by thinking about what you want the window treatment in a room to do, then you can narrow down the options that meet your needs and budget.