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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.

Budgeting Basics for Homeowners

A new home often means making significant adjustments to how people spend their money. Expenses such as mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance, utilities, and maintenance add up quickly and can easily throw the best of financial intentions out of whack. Creating and following a budget is a great way to stay on track while cutting down on financial stress at the same time.

Having a budget gives homeowners a roadmap for their financial needs and goals. Yes, their monthly home-related expenses need to be met, but they’ll also need to consider much more: food, clothing, education, healthcare, transportation, and savings for both retirement and emergency expenses.

Homeowners will definitely have unexpected costs that arise at inconvenient times – the water heater needs replacing, or the roof needs repair right away. Having a way to cover these expenses is critical not only to the home but for peace of mind.

Homeowners should start budget planning by examining their household income against expenses. First, list the monthly income – take-home pay if they get a paycheck, self-employment income, and any other outside sources of income. This amount will form the basis of the budget.

Next, make a list of the monthly fixed expenses. These include the mortgage payment, car payments, phone and internet service, trash collection, etc. For expenses that are typically billed less frequently, such as property taxes, home insurance, and school tuition, divide the total yearly amount by 12. Fluctuating costs such as gas and electric bills can be averaged to a monthly total and added to this list as well. If there are carried balances on credit cards, those payments will need to be factored in, too. Importantly, savings should be considered fixed expenses – making this commitment to the future will pay off, literally, in the years to come.

Next, list the variable expenses. These are expenses over which homeowners have some control: food, clothing, cable or satellite TV, online subscriptions, gasoline, entertainment, gym memberships, and even haircuts are some typical examples. Track these expenses for a few months to arrive at accurate numbers to work with. It’s very important to be realistic about what is currently being spent, because once the overall expense budget is developed, they may need to look for reductions in these variable items.

Add the fixed and variable expenses together and compare them to the total monthly net income. If the income is enough to cover everything, homeowners can still look for ways to budget in their favor. Reducing some variable expenses and shifting the difference into savings, for example, is a great way to boost one’s financial situation without making major changes.

And if expenses exceed income?  If an increase in income isn’t on the horizon, they’ll need to reduce expenses so that they’re in line with what they can actually afford. First, go to the list of variable expenses and closely consider each line item. Is that upper-tier cable TV package really necessary? Can more meals be prepared at home? Go to the movies less often? Reducing expenses in these categories can really add up on a monthly basis.

If reducing the variable costs still isn’t enough, they’ll need to look at the fixed expenses. Consider trading down to a car with affordable payments and raising the deductibles on home and auto insurance. Check into cheaper plans for mobile devices. The differences can be significant over the course of a year.

No matter how careful the budget planning, it won’t work if the budget isn’t followed. Personal finance software can be helpful in tracking cashflow, and adjustments can continue to be made over time. By keeping to a budget, homeowners will come out ahead and sleep better at night, too.

Why Test for Radon? What You Need to Know

Any home can have a radon problem – old or new homes, well-sealed or drafty homes, homes with or without basements. Health Canada estimates that 1 in 14 homes in Canada has an elevated level of radon. Prolonged exposure to unsafe levels of radon can increase the risk of lung cancer; in fact, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Lung cancer caused by avoidable radon exposure is preventable, but only if radon issues are detected and mitigated prior to prolonged exposure in homes and buildings. There is real risk in not knowing if a home has a high level of radon.

WHAT IS RADON?

Radon is a naturally occurring odourless, colorless, radioactive gas formed by the ongoing decay of uranium in soil, rocks, sediments, and even well or ground water. While radon that escapes into the atmosphere is not harmful, dangerously high concentrations can build up indoors, exposing occupants to possible health risks.

HOW DOES RADON GET INTO A HOME?

Radon can migrate into the home in several ways. Openings or cracks in basement walls, foundations or floors are common avenues. Sumps, basement drains, and spaces between gas or water fittings can also allow radon into the structure. Other entry points can include gaps in suspended floors and cavities within walls.

HOW CAN I MAKE SURE MY CLIENTS AND THEIR FAMILIES AREN’T AT RISK?

We encourage homeowners to add radon testing to the home inspection process. Your Pillar To Post Home Inspector will set up the monitoring equipment in the home and report on the results. If an elevated level of radon is detected, steps can be taken to reduce the concentration to or below acceptable levels inside virtually any home. This can include a relatively simple setup such as a collection system with a radon vent pipe, which prevents radon from entering the home in the first place. Professional mitigation services can provide solutions for a home’s specific conditions.

Contact Pillar To Post to schedule radon testing when you book your next home inspection.

Carbon Monoxide: A Deadly Danger

With winter coming on to cool much of North America, it’s worthwhile to address a potential hazard that arises with increased use of fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces and water heaters: carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas produced by the combustion of fuels such as natural gas, oil, and propane in devices including furnaces, water heaters, and stoves. These items are normally designed to vent the CO to the outside, but harmful interior levels of CO can result from incomplete combustion of fuel, improper installation, or blockages, leaks or cracks in the venting systems. Very high levels of CO can lead to incapacitation or death, with victims sometimes never having been aware they were being poisoned.

Homeowners can take action against potential carbon monoxide poisoning by taking the following steps:

  • Never use gas stoves or ovens to heat the home, even temporarily.
  • Have all fuel-burning appliances professionally inspected annually, preferably before the start of the cold weather season when heaters and furnaces are first used.
  • These appliances include gas stoves and ovens, furnaces and heaters, water heaters and gas clothes dryers.
  • All such devices should be properly installed and vented to the outside.
  • If repairs are necessary, be sure they are performed by a qualified technician.
  • Always use the proper fuel specified for the device.
  • Have flues and chimneys for gas fireplaces inspected regularly for cracks, leaks, and blockages that may allow a buildup of CO to occur.
  • Do not start a vehicle in a closed garage, or idle the engine in the garage even when the garage door is open.
  • Gasoline-powered generators and charcoal grills must never be used indoors.
  • Purchase a CO detector (either battery operated, hard wired or plug-in) and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper location and installation. Installation of working CO detectors in residential properties is now required by law in most states.
  • Learn what to do if the CO alarm activates. If anyone in the home experiences symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, blurred vision, nausea, or confusion, everyone should leave immediately and seek medical attention. If no symptoms are felt, open doors and windows immediately and shut off all fuel-burning devices that may be potential sources of CO.

Enjoy the comfort and safety of home this winter and all year long.