My wife and I put our house up for sale in March 2018. Within a week, we had two offers. The first one fell through and the second one came two days after the first offer fell through. Our goal was not to pay on two homes. We built a house in 2017 and by early 2018, it was ready to move in.

What did we do to sell our house fast? Below are a list of steps that we took to make our home sell quickly.

Declutter, declutter, declutter – We spent weeks decluttering our home. We didn’t realize how much stuff we had collected in the 10 years. We went from room to room and packed up items in cabinets, closets, dressers, night stands. We depersonalized our home of family photos. We were very fortunate that we had another home to move our stuff. If you don’t have that luxury, you can rent a storage unit or this may be a good time to have a garage sale. You don’t want to show buyers how much stuff you can get into a space. You want to show buyers how much space they’ll have for their stuff.

Rearrange the furniture. Our living room had exercise equipment in it. We moved it to the new house. You don’t want people bumping into your furniture as they are walking around. Does your buyer see an open, yet intimate space that inspires conversation?

Clean, clean, clean – clean everything. Vacuum, make the beds, and wipe down the counters daily because you may have an unplanned viewing. Dust – dust the ceiling fans, clean the blinds. Dishes shouldn’t be in the sink. Bathroom sinks, toilets and showers should be cleaned. We kept our home nice and tidy. We cleaned the windows inside and out bringing more light into the house.

Set the table – Set a couple of place settings at the dining room table. Or place a centerpiece on top of a neutral table runner. Put neutral music such as classical or jazz on low in the back ground. Although we didn’t bake cookies or burn scented candles to make our home appear warm and welcoming, we did use a pleasing scented air freshener through our home. If the buyer can see that a family lives there, they can imagine their family living there.

Repair or replace broken items. We did have a little cash to spend and I spent it on mulching the front yard and painting window sills and freshening up worn out and chipped areas. Why? It’s important to give prospective buyers the notion that the property was taken care of well and they won’t have to spend a huge sum on repair work or fixing broken, malfunctioning items because that may be a big deterrent to getting good offers from potential buyers. Also buyers give you about six seconds to make the sale—three seconds from the curb and three seconds from the foyer.

Of course, every home is different. Before you spend a dime freshening your home up, ask a real estate agent you trust for advice. A true pro knows what buyers in your area want and can help you maximize your home’s appeal without busting your budget.

April is National Home Inspection Month. Home Inspections are critical!

A quality home inspection can be valuable and save you a lot of money later. For example, if you’re selling your home, a pre-listing inspection provides an opportunity to identify and make decisions about what repairs or updates you want to make before presenting your home to a possible buyer. This can add to the value of your home and allows you to enter in negotiations with self-confidence. This can provide you, the seller, with some peace of mind.

For most, your home is the biggest investment you’ll ever make. Home maintenance is important. Homeowners should get a home inspection every three to five years to avoid expensive repairs, identify problems and maintain their home’s viability. An inspection of the structural and mechanical systems will include the foundation, roof and gutters, exterior and interior walls, electrical wiring, plumbing, heating and central air conditioning systems.

If you’re remodeling or planning a major renovation, a renovation inspection can be done before and after the contracted work. This will give you the peace of mind that the work is well planned, executed, and done correctly.

Home Owners, First-time buyers and long-timers who want to “age in home,” homebuyers of a new home still under construction and parents concerned about the safety of their children all need home inspections by experienced professionals who will identify current or potential issues before they become serious problems.

If you plan to buy a home this year, you want to be sure it’s condition and functionality are in line with your lifestyle and plans for the building. All homes require some routine maintenance and most will go through some renovations or updates through their lifetime. Once you’ve found the home of your dreams, you want to know that it is the investment you think it is. A pre-purchase inspection is a good way to verify the house’s current conditions and develop a strategy for future maintenance.

In a nutshell, a home inspection can be priceless. It provides peace of mind. It’s relatively inexpensive. It uncovers safety issues. It can reveal possible pest and insect problems. It can find structural issues. It can forecast potential future expenses such as appliances, windows, roofing, A/C, electric, plumbing and heating systems. It can help with price negotiations and negotiating seller repairs. It can provide an “out.”

Equally as important as the purpose of a home inspection is the quality of the inspection. Working with an InterNACHI Certified Professional Inspector (CPI) is a customer’s best assurance of a thorough and professional inspection. To find a qualified inspector in your area, visit www.eagleengineer.com or call (865) 250-8983.

Spring is around the corner. Daffodils, tulips will be blooming
soon. For those who’ve been stuck inside to stay warm, will
find it’s time to rediscover the great outdoors. Since it can’t
be all fun, it’s time to think about home maintenance that will
help you avoid big repair bills later. Here are some things you
can do to get or keep your home in good shape.

 Inspect your roof – Your roof is your home’s first line
of defense against water damage. If you delay
repairing spots on your roof that need fixing, you
could find yourself facing water damage inside your
home the next time a storm hits.

 Clean your gutters – Gutters direct rain away from
your roof and home, protecting both in the process.
Clogged gutters open your home to water damage.

 Clean or replace HVAC filters – You need to do this
more than once a year. A dirty filter forces your
heat, ventilation and air-conditioning system to work
harder, which in turn drains your wallet.

 Clean your dryer vent – Not all lint gets caught in the
lint trap; some makes its way into the dryer vent. A
clean vent will save you money by reducing the time
your dryer has to run. A plugged vent wastes money
but, also, could cause a house fire.

 Check the washing machine fill hose – You want to
look for cracks that could become leaks. A leaky hose
under pressure can cause major damage in a short
period of time.

 Clean and repair your screens – Trying to reduce your
electric bills this summer? Gently scrub your screens
on a flat surface with soapy water. Also, patch small
holes as needed.

 Clean decks, driveways, fences and other outside
surfaces – A pressure washer makes this job easier.
While you’re cleaning, inspect for damage.

 Fix cracks in your walks, driveway and the outside of
your home. Fortunately, most of these repairs are
fairly easy if taken care of early.

 Repair any cracked or peeling paint. – A good paint
job makes your home look nice, while providing a
protective barrier from the elements. Touch-up
painting is easy to do and inexpensive.

 Vacuum your refrigerator coils – The coils you’ll find
on the bottom or back of your fridge conduct the
hot air from inside the unit. If they’re coated with
dust, they do the job less efficiently and cause your
refrigerator to work harder; that means a higher electric
bill for you. Use a vacuum cleaner hose or a
brush on the coils.

 Test the batteries in your smoke detectors – During
the month of October, you should have changed out
the batteries. However, if you didn’t, it would be
wise to do it now. Sometimes it’s a matter of life or
death, so take the time to change the batteries now.

 Prepare your lawn mower for summer – Change the
engine oil and sharpen the cutting blade; you’ll
lengthen the life of the mower and improve the look
of your lawn.

 Check seals around windows and doors – Winter
weather can crack and harden caulk and other
weather seals. Inspect them and repair or replace as
needed. You’ll reduce your air-conditioning bill and
prevent water from entering your home and causing
damage.

 Clear vegetation around your AC compressor – To
work efficiently, the compressor needs good airflow.
To ensure it has breathing room, prune any plant
growth that could block it.

 Drain your water heater – Sediment builds up in your
water heater tank. Use the spigot near the bottom of
the heater to drain it. By doing so, you’ll prolong its
life and reduce your electric bill.

Source: https://money.usnews.com/money/personalfinance/slideshows/15-spring-home-maintenance-tips

Come February 2nd, Punxsutawney Phil will tell us whether we can expect 6 more weeks of winter or not.  While we are waiting to transition from winter to spring, there are some things we can do to keep our homes toasty warm that are in general inexpensive.

Recently, we built a new house and hadn’t weather stripped basement door until December.  By doing this, we noticed that there wasn’t a cold spot in our house anymore.  Often, doors and windows are an overlooked source of air leakage.  Weather stripping will keep warm air in and cold air out.

Thermostats that you can move the bar between 50 and 90 degrees are outdated.  Usually, you’ll find these in older homes. These thermostats regulate heat inefficiently compared to programmable thermostats. Recent innovations in the technology allow you to control newer thermostats with your mobile phone and input lower temperatures for certain times of day — saving you money on your utility bill while ensuring a warm house when you walk in the door.

Especially in the South, burst and frozen pipes are a major driver for winter home repairs. Freezes are unexpected and pipes are ill-prepared to handle. Pipes should be wrapped in heat tape and insulated with fiberglass or foam-rubber to prepare for any kind of freeze.

An alternative source to stay warm and reduce running your heat is using your fireplace.  Creosote is an oil that comes from coal and wood and it builds up making it highly combustible and flammable. We would highly recommend chimney professionals to clean your chimney of creosote and check for signs of leaks and other hazards. You can hire a professional for about $300. This is an extensive job; inexperienced homeowners are not advised to do it on their own.

Another way that isn’t often used during the winter is your ceiling fan.  You can use your ceiling fan to keep the cold air out of a room by changing its rotation. Most homeowners forget about utilizing the ceiling fan during the winter, but it can cut monthly heating costs by almost 10%. There is a reverse switch above the blades; when activated, the fan’s blades push cold air up into the ceiling and the warm air down into the room. This project saves you money and costs just a few minutes of your time. (Just remember to hit the switch again in spring so the hot air starts going back towards the ceiling.)

While watching the snow blanket the yard can be peaceful and pretty, the walk to the car the next morning can be perilous. Keep sidewalk salt handy to prevent slips and falls. And keep a shovel in the garage or near the front door to cut a clear path for your family and neighbors.

Most of this can be done as a do-it yourself and materials can be purchased at your local hardware store.  However, if you’re not up for a do-it yourself, consider hiring a licensed and qualified handyman or professional that can help you.  May you and your family stay toasty the rest of the winter and let’s hope Punxsutawney Phil won’t see his shadow.

Now, the holidays are over with and New Years’ resolutions have been made and in some cases already broken. The Christmas tree and decorations are packed up and placed in storage in preparation for the 2019 Christmas Season. It’s time to get back to having a healthy and trouble-free home.

January is National Radon Action Month. The EPA recommends radon testing. It’s easy and inexpensive. If your level of radon is 4 picocuries per liter or higher, it’s recommended to fix your home. Radon levels less than that still pose a risk and in many cases may be decreased. Radon is estimated to cause approximately over 20, 000 deaths per year as the second leading cause of lung cancer. Smoking still causes more lung cancer deaths.

Radon, like CO2, can’t be seen, smelled, or tasted. It’s found all over the United States and comes from natural radioactive breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, water, and gets into the air you breathe. It can get into any type of building.

How do you know if you have radon? Testing is the only way. It’s inexpensive, easy, and only takes a few minutes. Fixing a radon problem is not costly and radon reduction systems work.

New homes can be built with radon resistant features. By installing them at the time of construction, it makes it easier and less expensive to reduce radon levels. For more information about radon resistant construction techniques, check out epa.gov – Building Radon Out: A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Build Radon-Resistant Homes.

How does radon get into our homes? It moves up through the ground to the air above and into our homes through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Radon gets in through cracks in solid floors, construction joints, cracks in walls, gaps in suspended floors, gaps around service pipes, cavities inside the walls, and the water supply if you have a well.

There are two ways to test for radon. One is short-term testing and the other is long-term testing. What’s the difference you may wonder? Short-term tests remain in your house for two to ninety days. Long-term test remains in your home for more than 90 days. This long-term test is more likely to tell you your home’s year-round average radon level than a short-term test.

Where can you get a test? You can purchase a do-it-yourself test through the mail, hardware stores, and other retail outlets. Or you can hire a qualified tester to do the testing for you.

Now, you’ve done your testing and have learned what your radon level is, what’s next? You need to reduce the levels by using a vent pipe system and fan which pulls radon from beneath the house and vents it to the outside. This system is known as a soil suction radon reduction system and doesn’t require major changes. Other fixes is to seal foundation cracks and other openings. You may also hire a contractor who is trained to fix the radon problem. For more information check out https://www.epa.gov/radon/find-radon-test-kit-or-measurement-and-mitigation-professional.

Once your problem is fixed, retest again to make sure the radon levels are reduced. And retest your home once every two years. Most soil suction radon reduction systems include a monitor that indicates whether the system is working properly.

In closing, may 2019 be a happy, trouble-free, and healthy home year for you and your family.

Reference – www.epa.gov

Did you know more than 150 people in the Unites States die every year from accidental non fire-related CO poisoning associated with consumer products, including generators? Other products include faulty, improperly-used or incorrectly-vented fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, stoves, water heaters and fireplaces.

November 5th-12th is National CO Poisoning Awareness Week.

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide, also known as CO, is called the “Invisible Killer” because it’s a colorless, odorless poisonous gas which is undetectable to the human senses.

Know the symptoms of CO poisoning

Because CO is odorless, colorless, and otherwise undetectable to the human senses, people may not know that they are being exposed. The initial symptoms of low to moderate CO poisoning are similar to the flu (but without the fever). They include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • High level CO poisoning results in progressively more severe symptoms, including:
    • Mental confusion
    • Vomiting
    • Loss of muscular coordination
    • Loss of consciousness
    • Ultimately death

What can you do to protect your family from the dangers of CO?

Install and maintain CO alarms inside your home to provide early warning of CO.

Install CO alarms in a central location outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of your home.

Make sure you have carbon monoxide alarms in your home and test them monthly.

Use portable generators outdoors in well-ventilated areas away from all doors, windows, and vents.

Do not use a generator in a wet area. This can cause shock or electrocution.

Make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace are clear of snow and other debris.

Connect appliances to the generator with heavy-duty extension cords.

Do not fuel your generator when it is running. Spilling gas on a hot engine can cause a fire.

Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission

Source: https://www.usfa.fema.gov/prevention/outreach/carbon_monoxide.html

 

October is Fire Prevention Month

Following these simple tips could potentially save your life or the life of a loved one. Pass this list on to your friends and family and make this fire prevention month count!

Did you know that the U.S. Fire Administration reports that fires kill more than 4,000 Americans each year and approximately injure 20,000 more? U.S. fire departments respond to nearly 2 million fires each year, with three-quarters of them occurring in residences.

A home is often referred to as a safe haven. This month, make sure your home is protected from (and your family is prepared for) a fire. Here are 10 simple tips to help you avoid fires and reduce the risk of injury should one occur:

1)     Smoke Alarms – These are still a very important addition to your home. Smoke alarms are widely available and inexpensive. Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home and test it monthly. It’s recommended that batteries are replace annually. Since October is fire prevention month, October is a good month to replace your smoke alarm batteries.

2)     Prevent Electrical Fires – Don’t overload circuits or extension cords. Cords and wires should never be placed under rugs or in high traffic areas. Avoid loose electrical connections by checking the fit of the plug in the wall outlet. If the plug loosely fits, inspect the outlet right away. A poor connection between the plug and the outlet can cause overheating and can start a fire in minutes.

3)     Keep Plugs Safe – Unplug all appliances when not in use. Follow the manufacturer’s safety precautions and use your senses to spot any potential disasters. If a plug is overheating, smells strange, shorts out or sparks – the appliance should be shut off immediately, then replaced or repaired.

4)     Alternate Heaters – Make sure there is ample space around any portable heating unit. Anything that could catch fire should be at least three feet away. Inspect your chimney annually and use fire screens to help keep any fires in the fireplace.

5)     Fire Safety Sprinklers – When combined with working smoke alarms, home fire sprinklers greatly increase your chance of surviving a fire. Sprinklers are affordable and they can increase property value and lower insurance rates.

6)     Develop An Escape Route – Practice your escape plan with your family from every room in the house. Practice staying low to the floor and checking for hot doors using the back of your hand. It’s just like a routine school fire drill – but in your home.

7)     Position Appliances Carefully – Try to keep TV sets, kitchen and other appliances away from windows with curtains. If there is a wiring problem, curtains can spread a fire quickly. Additionally, keeping your appliances away from water sources (like rain coming in from windows) can help prevent wiring damage which can lead to a fire.

8)     Clean Dryer Vents – Clothes dryers often start fires in residential areas. Clean the lint filter every time you start a load of clothes to dry or after the drying cycle is complete. Make sure your exhaust duct is made of metal tubing and not plastic or foil. Clean the exhaust duct with a good quality dryer vent brush to prevent blockage & check for lint build up behind the dryer at least twice a year.

9)     Be Careful Around the Holidays – If you fill your home with lights during the holiday season, keep them away from anything that can easily catch fire. Check all of your lights prior to stringing them up and dispose of anything with frayed or exposed wires.

10)   Do not store flammable liquids such as paint near heating units.

11)   Keep flammable objects such as dish towels, curtains and aprons away from stoves and don’t wear loose fitting clothing while cooking.

12)   If a pan catches fire, cover it with a lid and turn off the heat.

13)  Have your wood burning fireplace inspected, cleaned, and repaired to prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.

14)   Conduct Regular Inspections – Check all of your electronic equipment and wiring at least once a month. Taking a little time to do this each month can really pay off.

You’ve heard the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This especially applies to your home. If you set up a regular schedule of preventative home maintenance, it can help prevent expensive repair problems and keep your home in good shape.

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