Archive for May, 2011

Residential Property Management Categories

Residential Property Management CategoriesBelieve it or not most people are concerned about someone breaking into their homes while they are away on vacation or business. The reality is that there is more danger of damage from a variety of other things than what you might not think of. One of the main ones is that your insurance company may require someone to check on your home every couple of days. They need to make sure that the furnace is running and that there is no leaking water. This could be a condition of insurability so we tell everyone to check with their insurance company. Determine what is actually required before they head off on vacation for a couple of weeks. They are all different.

Residential Property Management Categories

There are lots of reasons for hiring someone or arranging with a neighbor or family member to look after your home while you are away. These categories cover the occasional all the way through the full time professional. The following list comprises some of the main reasons why you may want to consider having some one do this on your behalf ( In all cases except for pets, we assume you are gone for a week or more):

  • Pets at home ( Have someone come in to feed and care for your pets)
  • Insurance requirements (24/48/72 hour intervals)
  • Landscaping ( including cut the grass, water the plants)
  • Water indoor plants
  • Make the home look lived in(lights on timers, move lights)
  • Pick up the mail ( hold or send to the homeowner)
  • Remove advertising and papers from front step
  • Check on the water, including sump pumps
  • Turn on the water to fill traps(if vacant for more than 2 weeks)
  • Check security of the home
  • Snow removal
  • Check on the home and report to the home owner
  • Monitor home improvement while the homeowner is away
  • Rent the home
  • Rental property management

There are probably many other reasons for having someone look after your home while you are away or if you plan to rent your home out to someone while you leave the country. It also may be a vacation property or an investment property. If you are reading this post and notice something missing please feel free to leave us a comment.

Additional Property Management Requirements

The requirements are also much different depending on whether you have a traditional home with a front and back yard, vs. a townhouse, a condo or a rental property. The time of year also is a factor since you must arrange for someone to cut the lawn and trim during the summer , while the winter requires someone to clear the snow from the walkway and driveway if you live in areas that receive snow. These all need to be taken into account if you planning on hiring a residential property manager, a house sitter or arranging for some one to look after you home while you are away.

We will be developing customized checklists for people in these various categories.  If they do not quite fit or you have a special situation that we have not covered, please leave us a comment and we will update our lists. We plan on issuing a new post every two weeks so stay tuned to watch for our latest post.

 


Use an Electric Chain Saw

Use an Electric ChainsawThere are many advantages to owning an electric chain saw, with the proper size motor, for consumers who have an occasional need for a chain saw. This post will look at the uses of a chainsaw, whether you should rent or purchase a chainsaw and whether an electric chain saw is a better deal for the average consumer. Having your own chainsaw can save you a great deal of money as well vs. hiring someone to come in and cut down trees and shrubs.

This is another savings opportunity for the average homeowner. However there are safety issues to be considered and if you are uncomfortable with using one of these powerful tools, then you are better off to hire someone to do the work for you, rather than take a chance with your safety. Chainsaws come in all sizes, the larger they are the more powerful they are and capable of doing some serious damage if they get out of control.

Electric chainsaws are quite inexpensive, with some of the smaller ones under $100, while gas powered chainsaws will cost much more depending on the size. If you only need a chainsaw for occasional use, you may want to consider renting one or purchasing an electric chainsaw provided that you have a power outlet close by.  For consumers dealing with trees in the yard, this is quite doable, while consumers with treed lots further away from a power source really need to consider a gas powered chain saw.

Some guidelines for Deciding to Rent or Purchase an Electric Chain Saw

If you need a chain saw for cleaning up trees in your yard every year, buy an electric chain saw, provided you have a power source nearby.

If you only need a chainsaw once every few years, renting a chain saw my be the right way to go. Do not buy a gas powered chainsaw for this application since the engine and the carburetor will require cleaning all the time due to stale gas in the system.

If you are cutting up trees a long way from a power source, either purchase a gas powered chainsaw or rent one from a local tool rental place.

Most electric chainsaws can perform as well as a gas-powered chainsaw, however there are pros and cons to each.

Maintenance

  • Chain saw sharpeners are needed to keep the chain sharp.
  • Gas powered chainsaws need regular engine maintenance
  • Electric chainsaws are pretty much maintenance free
  • All chain saws need the chain to be adjusted on a regular basis
  • Keep the chainsaw teeth in perfect condition
  • Don’t cut close to the ground
  • Always keep sufficient oil in the reservoir to oil the chain properly

Comparison

The weight of the a gas powered chainsaw vs. an electric chainsaw is comparable. They look nearly identical, and both saws have almost the same controls as far as operating the blade and shutting it down in an emergency.

The cutting action of the chainsaw is all about the weight of the saw, the speed of the chain and the sharpness of the chain saw teeth.  A powerful electric chainsaw will cut just as well as an equally powered gas chainsaw. Many people forget to sharpen their chainsaws teeth and are frustrated as a result with the cutting action. This applies to both gas and electric powered saws.

A big advantage of an electric chain saw is that it does not need gasoline to be stored around the home, it is always ready to go and there is little maintenance to do with the exception of keeping the chain properly tensioned and sharp. There is no engine maintenance to worry about. Gas chainsaws that are not used very often tend to have more problems with dirty gas and clogging up the carburetors. Electric chainsaws are better for occasional use.

Electric Chain Saw Safety

  • Read the Owners Manual.
  • Read and understand all the safety warnings.
  • Don’t cut logs or trees that are wedged or in a bind.
  • Wear all the recommended protective clothing, gloves, helmet, face shield, etc. when using a chain saw.

Safety while using a chainsaw cannot be stressed enough. Follow all of the safety recommendations that come with the chainsaw and if in doubt about any situation, back off and take a different approach. Powerful chainsaws can jump and cut into flesh in a fraction of a second causing serious injury and even death. Treat them with the greatest respect!


Is Your Vehicle Ready for Summer Vacation

Is Your Vehicle Ready for Summer VacationSummer is just around the corner. Many people are planning their summer driving trips to the cottage, to theme parks , to camping sites and visits to the family. The summer time is harder on tires than other time of the year. This is due to the higher temperatures and often heavier loads due to more people and luggage in their cars. Is Your Vehicle Ready for summer vacation travel?

Is Your Vehicle Ready – Check Your Car Before Travel

Before you go on any trip with your car and also on a weekly basis, have your car fully checked out to avoid any nasty surprises. Tires are the most important element of your car. check for proper tire pressure and that the tire lug nuts are on tight. Also check that there is sufficient tread on the tires to be safe in all kinds of conditions. However we also recommend that you check

  • All Fluid levels including
    • Power steering,
    • Engine oil,
    • Transmission oil and
    • Brake fluid levels
    • Antifreeze in the radiator
  • Check the windshield cleaner
  • Check your tires inflation levels
  • Check your cars alignment
  • Check your tires balance

Follow your cars instructions for checking all of these items in a safe manner or take your car to an auto mechanic or your dealer for a complete checkup.

Tire Pressure

Have your mechanic check your tires next time you go in for an oil change. If one is not due, it is easy to check the tire pressure yourself with a tire pressure gauge. Top up the air pressure to the vehicle specs if you find that the tires have low tire pressure.

If your car has a tire pressure monitor on it, don’t rely on this for optimum tire pressure. The alarm in your dash will turn on if your tire is losing air and drops several pounds of pressure. If your tire is down 2 or 3 pounds it will not show up on the dash of your car.

Recently some of the newer cars are more accurate and will even tell you when the cars tires are over inflated which can be just as dangerous as an under inflated tire. Both situations can decrease stability and cause the tire to over heat which may cause it to blow out. At high speeds a serious accident can easily take place.

Tire Alignment

If your car is out of alignment, you will notice uneven wear on your cars tires. This is dangerous and can lead to the car pulling on one direction or the other and your tires wearing out much more quickly. Have your alignment checked before you go on any further trips.

Tire Balance

Unbalanced tires or tires that have lost their balancing weights, will vibrate at various speeds. You can feel this vibration in the steering wheel. The tires will also wear unevenly making the situation even worse. In fact if you wait too ling, you will not be able to balance the tires properly and will need to  purchase new tires to fix the problem.

Preventive maintenance that we have discussed above will ensure that your car runs well, gets great gas mileage and that your family should have a successful trip. Why avoid or delay when failure of one of your tires could cause an accident and ruin your trip.

 


Tips on Sanding Hardwood Floors

tips 0n Sanding Hardwood FloorsSanding a hardwood floor is a noisy and dusty job but also a necessary job when you want to restore and replenish the beauty of your wood flooring. It is also much cheaper than installing a new floor. As with every home improvement project, it is important to make preparations ahead of time to avoid any problems. It is also important to use the proper equipment when you take on this project.  Here are some helpful tips for sanding hardwood floors to make them look their best. Hire or discuss the issues with a professional before doing this work as a do it yourself project.

Tips for Sanding Hardwood Floors

Check out your Floors to Make Sure Sanding is Possible

Before beginning it will be necessary to carry out a little reconnaissance to see if your floors can be sanded. You should make sure that there is at least 1/8 th of an inch of wood above the tongue before you begin. Checking this can be done by removing a grate in the floor or door threshold and inspecting the boards. If you have sufficient wood above the tongue and groove, the floor can be easily sanded with a power sander which may remove up to an eight of inch of wood. On the other hand if you are limited by the thickness of wood, then hand sanding may be appropriate to avoid replacing the entire floor. This is a lot of hard work and should not be considered lightly.

Also, some boards may require more than sanding and refinishing. If a board sags, feels spongy or soft or is warped you should consider replacing it all together. Replacing a board is not a trivial exercise, however it may be necessary if there is a lot of damage to that area of the floor.

Preparation for Your Hardwood Floor Sanding Project

Now that you have determined that your floors are suitable, you can continue the sanding hardwood floor project. You should fill all gaps at the ends of boards or any other gaps you feel should be filled without taking away room for normal expansion of the wood.

Ensure you have the proper equipment including a drum sander, edge sander, buffer, shop vacuum as well as ear protection and dust masks for the messy procedure. Next prepare the room by removing everything and cover doorways with plastic sheeting. Some people find that fixing a fan in a window sill helps to send out a lot of the dust created. Before you begin, close the door and place a wet towel along the bottom of the door.

Turn off any central fans such as on your furnace and air conditioning. These will suck air into the circulation system and disperse fine sawdust throughout your house! Set any exposed nails and you are ready to sand.

Sanding Your Hardwood Floor

Sanding hardwood floor with the drum sander will take some getting used to, so try it at first in a hidden area such as under a couch. Begin with the most course paper (20-36 grit) walking forward and backward from wall to wall with the grain of the wood, then use progressively finer paper (60, 80, and 100 grit). Finish off sanding the hardwood floor by sanding the edges followed by a final buffing and you’re done!

Never sand across the grain of the wood, otherwise you will leave marks on your floor that will show up when you apply varnish or verathane to protect your floor. Sometimes you have to sand by hand to get at those tiny areas the sander cannot get to. It takes lots of elbow grease, but it is necessary to make a nice job if your floor.

Clean Up

Once you have finished sanding, you will need to clean up all of the dust. Start by vacuuming everything, the floor , the walls , even the ceiling. You want to get all of the dust out of the room. Next you need to use a tack cloth to remove any last remaining particles of dust off the floor before you begin to apply any stain or coating. Always do this just before you are ready to apply the covering and make sure you have lots of fresh air, since the chemical smell may bother some people.

The Finished Job

Once you are finished you will have what looks like a brand new floor! I once had to remove carpet from a hardwood floor and sand the entire floor. Why the previous owners ever covered the floor with carpet, I have no idea. Once the carpet was removed, the floor sanded and varathaned, the walls painted, the house really took on a new look and added thousands of dollars in value to our home as well.

Comments are appreciated regarding tips and tricks to finishing and sanding a hardwood floor.


The Right Tires For Your Car

The Right Tires For Your CarYou  have found the right kind of vehicle that suits your needs and that of your family. As well as features that are important to you such as power windows and steering, his and her temperature controls, an upgraded sound system, a sun roof and much more. Of course, making these selections, balancing them with your spouse and of course the price is one of the most difficult things you have to do. Buying the the Right Tires For Your Car is also important.

Buying The Right Tires For Your Car

Many people do not give a seconds thought to the tires, taking whatever the standard is for the vehicle you are buying. When it comes to choosing the right kinds of tires for your dream machine, there are just as many combination’s to choose from and they all will have an impact on your vehicles performance. If you live in a climate where snow is prevalent, you may also need to consider purchasing snow tires for your car and some people will go as far as buying an additional set of rims just for the snow tires.

When you purchase a vehicle, you need to know your car’s specifications  for tires. Specifications about the  right size, type, and thread of the tire are all very important. Most dealers can assist you with your selection and they can also tell you which tires will not work with your new vehicle and which ones will.

Tire Size is Very Important

The size of a tire for your car, SUV  or truck is actually specified on the car owner’s manual. If you have gone through the manual, you will have come across this information along with the correct amount of tire pressure that your tires should have. Any deviation from these specifications will change the intended performance of your new vehicle sometimes improved while with other tires they may actually make your vehicle unsafe.

You can also look for the label inside the glove box or on the driver’s side door post. These are locations where the proper tire size is usually located. Make sure that you purchase the right size.

Purchasing the Wrong Tire Size

If you buy an oversize tire, it can actually rub parts of your car and wear these parts down earlier than it should. On the other hand, an undersized tire could make your vehicle overheat. An over or under sized tire will also change the actual speed that your vehicle travels. The speedometer records the speed based on your transmission, however if you have a larger tire than specified, you will actually be going faster than indicated on the speedometer. If you are not careful this could also mean an expensive speeding ticket!

Performance & Specialized Tires

There are various types of tires available in the market. It should be important that you know just what type of tire would fit your vehicle best. If you have a performance vehicle, then you will want to get performance tire. Other tire types include winter tires, all season tires, run flat tires, all-terrain tires, and mud tires. Consult your car owner’s manual regarding this. Typically specialized tires, such as low profile tires are more expensive.

Sufficient Tire Tread

The tread of your tire is responsible for keeping your vehicle on the road despite various conditions. Mud and snow tires are seasonal tires. This means that it could be used in various types of roads even those that have snow, slush, rain, or mud. However, for most vehicles, the standard highway treads do the trick of keeping the vehicle on the road. You also want to make sure that there is always sufficient tread, regardless of the type of tire, to avoid skimming or sliding on wet roads. Tires with little tread cannot disperse the water and will float on the road which is very dangerous.


Tips on Installing Hardwood Floors

Tips on Installing Hardwood FloorsInstalling hardwood floor is a great way to improve the look of any room. Installing hardwood floors will also increase the value of your home as well when it comes to selling your home since many buyers are looking for hardwood these days instead of carpet. The natural look of hardwood is a beautiful addition to any home that can be enjoyed and cherished for many years, but installation of new flooring requires some work.

With organization and planning along with some carpentry skill, you can succeed in installing hardwood floor and begin to enjoy everything hardwood flooring has to offer. If you are not skilled in this area, it is often best to hire a professional, take a course or get a friend who knows what they are doing to help you. Better to get help than make a mess of your new floor. You can save a great deal of money by doing it yourself, all we are recommending is that you invest in the proper training and purchase the right tools before you begin your work. This will pay off big time with a perfectly installed floor that you and your family can be proud of, will add a great deal of enjoyment and will increase the value of your home as well.

Installing Hardwood Floors – Preparation

Before you begin to lay down the new floor boards it is important to store them indoors for a few days to expand or contract and adjust to the new environment.

Ensure that you have all the necessary tools for installing hardwood floor, including a floor-nailer along with miter and jamb saws. Remove the old flooring, clean any loose material from the floor, make sure there are no nails sticking up and that the floor is flat.  You may even want to put a sub floor down and / or nail down the existing sub floor to avoid any squeaks etc on your new floor. Many installers will use screw nails instead of nails to nail down the sub floor. They feel there is less chance for the floor to move.

Make Your Measurements

Begin the project by covering the clean, level sub-floor with a layer of asphalt felt and overlap the edges by a few inches. Fix the felt down with a staple gun, keeping the surface as smooth as you can.

Then make measurements at various points in the room to draw a chalk center line parallel to the starting wall. It is also helpful to mark the position of floor joists on the felt as well. Another line should be marked out about ½ inch from the starting wall to set the edge of the first row of flooring.

Installing the Hardwood Floor

Actually installing hardwood floor now begins at the starting wall with the widest planks or longest boards. Drill pilot holes for 1 ½ inch finishing nails where the nail-heads will be covered and face-nail the first row into the floor joists and recess the nails with a nail set.

For the next 3 rows drill pilot holes at 45 degree angles in the tongues at 10 inch intervals and at the joists and ends. Again fasten with finishing nails and set them with the nail set after ensuring the board is tight against the previous row.

For the remaining rows you can use the floor nailer while being careful not to damage the floor. The final row should be wedged tightly into place while drilling pilot holes at the edge where the nails will be covered and set the nails below the surface.Installing hardwood floor in your new and improved room is now complete.

Add the Finishing Touches

The last step is to install the corner round around the edges of the room. This adds decor to the room, but also hides the gap you left at the edges for expansion. Apply some paint to the corner round and you are finished with your rooms new floor.

You can now enjoy all the natural beauty and durability of hardwood.


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