Archive for September, 2013

Text Messaging Marketing Software

Text Messaging Marketing SoftwareOne of the biggest obstacles for small businesses such as restaurants, clothing stores and small retail shops to using text messaging as a marketing tool is how to manage the thousands of phone numbers that they might want to advertise to. Let’s assume you have 5000 customers, with 1000 of them interested in a special dish that you are planning to run a special on.

You know this because they have signed up to your news letter and also indicated their preferences in terms of meals that they have enjoyed at your restaurant. You may even have their contact information such as mobile phone number and email. You also requested their approval when they gave the information to you to allow you to send notifications to them advertising specials that you run from time to time.

Save Time

You wish you had some sort of text messaging marketing software that would allow you to sort the phone numbers based on your own personal criteria and then blast a text message out to your customers advising them of your special dish. You have already conveyed your message by email newsletter, but experience has shown you that not everyone reads their emails, a large number end up in the junk file and not everyone wants these emails.

Text message marketing programs will accomplish this and more for restaurants and retails stores and many others. You just need the list, with mobile phone numbers and a list of preferences as expressed by the customer which you can sort and your ready to go.

Sort Phone Numbers

With the proper text messaging marketing software, you could sort the phone numbers you have, and send targeted messages out to these customers. With a text message to a clientele who are expecting a text message from time to time, there is a far greater chance of them reading the message than there would be from a simple blast to a list of mobile phones to customers who have no idea of why you are sending them a message.

By using software of this type to send text messages, you can save yourself time and also have a far better take up rate than with other sources of marketing to mobile phones. Text messaging marketing software can be an excellent effective tool that can make a huge difference in your bottom line when used properly. If you have not started collecting names, phone numbers and preferences, it is time you started.

This database of information will be a key marketing tool for you to reach all of your customers and let them know that there are sales taking place at your retail store or have special meals at your restaurant. Data is the next big thing for all business owners and it is important to learn how to manage and use the data.

For more information concerning text messaging, click here.

 


Electric Car Advantages

Electric Car AdvantagesThe major disadvantage of electric cars these days is their price and the availability of charging stations. If you can get past these issues, there are quite a number of advantages that consumers might be interested in. They do not offset the price yet, but many consumers who are environmentally conscious are beginning to invest in electric cars with their pocket books.

Electric Car Advantages

The biggest advantage is that you do not have to buy gas and you really are not that interested in the price of gas as it goes up and down. Electricity is gradually converting to what is called renewable energy, which means wind, solar and hydro with no correspond pollution to be concerned about. The cars themselves are not polluters and are very quiet as they are driven around the city.

They are also excellent commuter cars provided that a two way trip is within the battery’s capacity. This is pretty much a necessity unless you have a way of recharging the batteries at work or wherever you are visiting. More and more locations are providing charging stations and this will expand over times as well.

Another advantage of these cars is that you are not burning gas or generating heat when you are stuck in traffic. If you live in a city that is prone to a lot f pollution, then every electric car that is driven is contributing to a decrease in pollution. This is one of the reasons that places like California have some of the most generous programs available to help people purchase electric vehicles and to also install recharging stations.

Electric Car Advantages – Tesla

Tesla’s model S has proven that high speeds are possible and that acceleration can also be very high as well on the 0 to 60 miles per hour category. They are driving the research and the experience curve right now and will continue to do so in the sport category. Other cars such as the Ford Focus and the GM Volt are aimed at the mass production version of the electric car. They are gradually increasing in sales and will become more popular as more and more people try them out as rental cars etc.

The electric vehicle does not need oil changes for the engine or for the transmission, saving each owner something in the neighborhood of $200 a year or more in operating costs in addition to the cost of gasoline that might be used. Add in the supporting electronics and you have a vehicle which many kids are used to that is effectively an operate by wire kind of car.

Let us know of other electric car advantages that we may have missed and should include in this post. We would be glad to see them and will place them on this post as comments.


Refinishing Hardwood Floors

Refinishing Hardwood FloorsRefinishing your hardwood floor can be one of the most rewarding things you can do. It can revitalize your home and can add thousands of dollars in value to your home as well. The best part is that you do it yourself and save hundreds if not thousands of dollars in labor by not having to hire a contractor to come and do the work for you. The downside is that you do the work and it may take longer than planned, especially if you are limited to week nights and weekends. But the end result is definitely worth it. Before you begin there are two things to make sure are ready.

Preparing to Refinish Your Hard Wood Floor

First the family must be supportive. This may seem a meaningless item, however if this work is going to take a few days or weeks and the room you are working on is not going to be available for use during that time, the family needs to be supportive. There will also be more dust in the house than normal so your spouse must also be on board with a protracted work schedule. If they are not on board, then you may just want to hire a contractor to get the work done quickly with minimal disruption. There is still going to be disruption and dust everywhere but at least the job will be done quickly although it will be much more expensive.

The next item is to clear the room of all furniture and window treatments along with anything that is on the walls or in the closet. No use having to work around them and also getting dust on everything. You will also want to remove the corner round so that you can sand right up to the wall. If you are careful removing the corner round, you may be able to reinstall it when you are finished. If you are not that fussy about sanding right up to the wall then just leave the corner round in place and sand as close as you can to the corner round.

Assemble all of the Tools You will Need

Decide how your floor will be sanded. If you are using a power sander with an attached vacuum you will be able to at least capture the majority of the dust, but not all.  Do not use an orbital sander since this will cause scratches across the grain. Always sand in the direction of the grain to avoid this sort of scratched look. It will really show up when you varnish the floor or stain the floor. If  you make a mistake you will just have to do some more sanding until those scratches can no longer be seen.

Cleaning is paramount when you are finished sanding. You must remove all dust from the floor and the walls to avoid it showing once you varnish the floor. After each coat of varnish, you will need to do a very light sanding with extremely fine sand paper to remove all of the marks and rough the varnish up just a bit so the next coat will provide a nice smooth finish.

Old hardwood floors when they are refinished add character and value. If your floors are gleaming and looking brand new, your home will be worth thousands of dollars more than it would have without the floors being finished.  Many consumers will hire contractors to do the work for them while others will do the work themselves. It really comes down to support from the family, how much time you have vs. how much a contract will cost to do the work for you.

Take the time to learn how to do the job properly so that your time and work is not wasted! And you will have fantastic hardwood floors in your home.


Property Manager Qualifications

Property Manager QualificationsWhen you hire a property manager, property management qualifications must be taken into account, in addition to many other attributes. For example the cost is an obvious one, the experience level of the property management team is another and the services that they will offer to you are another. This assessment can sometimes be quite difficult and take a lot of time with competing interests and different opinions on the board, however the important thing is to do a thorough job and in the end everyone agree on the best company for the job. Ask for other properties that are being managed and interview the owners to confirm service levels etc and other areas that you may be interested in.

Condo Board Decisions – Property Manager Qualifications

If you are interviewing property managers for the job of managing your property, or condominium as part of a board decision, it is important to make sure that you list all of the criteria that you are going to use to rate each property management firm.  Before a request for proposal is even issued, the board must review and agree to the requirements. Everyone will have a variety of opinions and it may be difficult to reach a consensus, but better to do this before the request for proposal is issued than after. The board needs to make sure that all of the requirements are included that satisfy everyone otherwise it is back to the drawing board and a waste of everyone’s time.

Property Manager Qualifications

The property management qualifications include services offered, price for those services, experience levels and knowledge of the current conditions of your property as compared to the legal requirements in the jurisdiction where you live.

Some board members, and owners will prepare a spreadsheet listing all of the services and features and costs and attributes that they’re interested in terms of interviewing a property management company. They will write all of these requirements and they will rank the level of adherence to each of the criteria that they are looking for. Some will have more importance of others and these will also be given a high-ranking. It is much easier when everyone has discussed and agreed to the rankings ahead of time.

Most board members will be well served if they document everything and have a detailed list of criteria that they will use to rank and interview property management companies. This is protection for both the board itself, the property manager and of course the owners of the property. If the board does not take this step and the property manager they hire fails or does not perform, at least you can go back to the documentation to confirm where you went wrong and avoid the same mistake the next time around.

Services Included

The services that are included will depend on whether this is an owner occupied building, a rental building or a mixed use building. Each group has different objectives and it helps to keep them separate.

For example the condo board is responsible to the owners, whether they live in the building or rent their units out. They may need a separate company to manage the rental of the units and the maintenance of the interior of the units. It is not a good idea to have the same management company managing the condo and managing the rental portion of the business. Sometimes there can be some cost savings, however the job of managing a condo is much different from managing a bunch of rental units.

In mixed use buildings there will often be a condo board to manage the condominium corporation and another board made up of owners who rent their units. This second board will be responsible for managing the tenants and the property manager responsible for the interior of the rented units. This board may also represent this subset of owners on the condo board as well.

There can be some conflict in these situations since rental unit owners do not have the same objectives at all compared to people who own their units and live in them. Some sensitivity to both parties is needed if you are going to make it work.

 


The Basics of Car Maintenance

Basics of Car MaintenanceCars are so complex these days that you pretty much need a computer to analyze them to determine what is wrong. The day when the average home mechanic could repair and tune up most of the things that go wrong with a car are in the past. Even mechanics are reduced to replacing modules these days. There are still a lot of mechanical things that can go wrong with a car. But today’s are really well built. They will last for many years and for many thousands of miles before needing any major repair. It helps to know the Basics of Car Maintenance. Still, it is a good idea to have everything checked when you have the oil changed in the engine for example. Most dealers have a complete checklist that they go through when they do an oil change.

Basics of Car Maintenance – What can the Average Person Do?

There are still some things that the average person can do to make sure that their car lasts even longer and runs well providing great service as well as the best gas mileage that your car is capable of. These are basic car maintenance things that every person should consider when they own a car and this is our list in no particular order.

  • Check the oil level in your engine once per week
  • Check the brake fluid level at the same time
  • Check the power steering oil level at the same time
  • Check all tires for wear and tear weekly
  • Check air pressure in your tires weekly
  • Use the proper gasoline for your car
  • Change the oil in your engine at the manufacturers recommended time
  • Change the windshield wipers once a year
  • Check all lights for proper operation and replace if needed

By doing all of the above consumers can expect their cars to last a long time and give them great gas mileage as well.

Jack Rabbit Driving

As part of car maintenance drivers who do the quick start and quick stop approach to driving will wear down both their tires and their brakes quickly as well as use a lot of gas with this type of driving. Coasting to a stop and applying the brakes just as you reach the stop sign might not be as much fun, but your brakes will last much longer than if you drive up quickly to a stop sign and then hit the brakes hard to come to an abrupt stop. This uses a lot more gas because these same people also hit the gas pedal hard when they leave a stop sign and accelerate quickly.

The cost of a brake job these days is incredibly expensive and the cost of gasoline is going up all of the time not to mention the wear and tar on the tires and the rest of the car. jack rabbit driving is hard on the vehicle and can actually be dangerous as well especially if someone else is following you closely and does not react in time to your quick stops. a jack rabbit stop is one of the best ways to cause an accident. Take your time. You will save money and you will probably get there just as fast.

Let us know if we missed anything that you also consider from a basic car maintenance perspective. We will be happy to add it to the list above.


Routine House Maintenance

Routine House MaintenanceEvery home needs home maintenance from time to time regardless of where you live and the size of your home. Completing this home maintenance work can mean the difference between spending a few dollars and some time vs. major repairs because you just did not address these issues fast enough.

This post was really originated by something that I observed that my neighbor is not doing. I have mentioned it to him several times, however he either forgets, ignores what I am suggesting or just does not care. I know that he does not like to do maintenance around the home and he will likely pay for it sometime in the future.

He spent several thousand dollars having his front yard landscaped. It looks great and he had the landscapers install shrubs and flowers in his gardens as well. The landscapers installed and underground drain from his down pipe from the eaves trough into the lawn. There is a reservoir under the lawn with an overflow tap that pops up in a situation where there is a heavy rainfall.

In the fall you remove the down pipe from this underground pipe and redirect the water out over the garden towards the lawn. We get very cold weather and this prevents a lot of ice buildup around his foundation in the winter time and helps dissipate the water away from his foundation.

In the spring you are supposed to reattach the eaves trough to the underground pipe so the water will once again flow underground out onto the lawn. He has done neither of these things and now the water just flows down the drain pipe onto the ground beside his foundation. This water has no where really to run so it filters down along the foundation and the weeping tile take this water away.

I am concerned that eventually the weeping tile will eventually become plugged or the water around the foundation will freeze and cause the foundation to crack sometime in the winter. His basement is finished and I am worried that this potential leak in the future will cause a lot of damage to his basement. This is one example of something that only takes a few minutes to correct which could prevent a larger maintenance issue for my neighbor sometime in the future.

Routine House Maintenance

There are many other things that are routine and should be completed every year during specific seasons. Cleaning the eaves trough of any debris that has built up will allow the water to drain away properly from the roof and prevent back leaks into the house. Changing the filter on your furnace is another that will provide you with clean air.

Painting your windows on a regular basis will also help to prevent them from flaking and the wood rotting. Many of my neighbors have spent thousands of dollars replacing their windows because they were beginning to leak due to the seals giving way. A little paint would have prevented having to spend thousands of dollars replacing all of these windows.

Changing the oil on your lawn mower and your snow blower annually is another example which would make sure that these engines last a long time. Lubricating various items on these machines following the manual is another great thing to do to keep them running well.

Updating Your Roof

Another big item is replacing the shingles on your roof. Once they are over 15 years old watch for missing shingles or the ends of the shingles beginning to roll up. This is a sure sign of a problem waiting to happen. In both cases leaks can develop which can ruin the insulation underneath as well as ruin paint on walls and even your floors if it is bad enough. Any roof that has standing water on it is a potential problem waiting to happen.

Same goes for standing water around your foundation or on your lawn. If you have this situation make sure that you fill in the depression in such a manner that it drains away properly. This is easy to do and just part of the general maintenance activities that are needed around a home. Most people do not like mowing the lawn, or placing fertilizer on the lawn or grass seed on the lawn to thicken it up. A strong healthy thick lawn fights off weeds and looks healthy, while a lawn that is not doing well, has thin places etc is a perfect magnet for weeds. Keep it healthy to have a great weed free lawn.

Our site has a variety of posts about various tasks that should be followed that will cost little but can save you thousands of dollars in repairs.

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Renovate or Down Size

We have been struggling with the decision to Renovate or Down Size for years and as it turns out so have many of our friends. The more we talk about it the more we find people are struggling with what to do as they age and are looking for something different. Some want a life style change, while some consumers are just looking for less upkeep work and lower costs. In the city were we live condo’s are being built but they are far too expensive to purchase and they condo fees are out of site. Instead of lowering your costs, they would actually be going up. The city is also in on the act and have increased the taxes as well on these units so you do not save on property taxes either, even though you end up with less space to actually live in.

We put together a list of points that consumers can consider if they are thinking about moving. Compare and decide which is the better strategy financially and emotionally! Fill in your own data and make your decision based on where you live and your own personal situation. Based on information that we have heard on TV as well as read about, other cities appear to be treating condo’s differently from a price perspective as well as a tax perspective. Your situation could be significantly different from the one we are facing. We have pretty much concluded that we will stay right where we are for now!

Renovate or Down Size : Calculate your cost to move

  • Legal fees
  • Real estate fees
  • Land transfer fees
  • Moving fees
  • New furniture
  • Replace appliances
  • New window treatments

Just a note about the furniture costs, do not assume that everything will fit in your downsized home. You are going to need to get rid of some things because you do not have the space and it just does not fit the decor of the new home.

What will it cost to renovate?

  • Make ready for senior living
  • Major maintenance issues
  • Roof replacement
  • Furnace replacement
  • AC replacement
  • Driveway
  • New Windows
  • New Appliances

Modernize

  • Kitchen
  • Bathroom
  • Window treatments
  • Paint
  • New furniture

Emotionally Ties to existing home and area

  • Stress of moving

This last point is a really big issue for many people. With friends and family close by it can be difficult to move away or to a new location with strangers and new neighbors.

The decision to Renovate or Down Size is a very complicated decision and if you are going though these issues that we just discussed, then you are probably not going to move and it is best to renovate.


Mobile Text Messaging Marketing

Mobile Text Messaging MarketingText messages are one of the most effective ways for companies to market to people. They are one of the first things looked at by anyone carrying a cell phone or a mobile phone depending on how you refer to them. Smart phones are even more effective since the screen is larger and more information can be displayed.

Email campaigns are not nearly as effective since they usually get filtered out by the email spam filters and many people never see them let alone read them. If they are not in the spam filter, you must have a highly effective message to get someone’s attention to actually open the email on their screen and read it. The first sentence must be enough to catch their attention and read the rest of the message or they will just delete the message.

Spam filter engines can be very effective at filtering out emails and if the receiving individual does not like your email he or she can update the spam filter engine to always filter out your messages so that they do not need to ever look at them.

Mobile Text Messaging Marketing – Text Message Campaigns

The same guidelines apply to text messaging campaigns. Effective titles, effective messages that target something the reader is interested in. If the message is not effective or not of immediate interest the message will be immediately discarded. however there are no spam filters that we know of that are available to auto sort messages, so the client at least must open the message to decide if they want to read it or to discard it.

Some companies such as Izod for example have highly effective text messaging marketing campaigns. The first step is to find interested customers. They do this by advertising in their stores and offering $5 discount on purchases when customers signup to receive text marketing messages.

They now know that they have interested customers who will read messages sent by their marketing people and just won’t auto erase these messages. They are in effect willing recipients. They have to provide a $5 discount to a customer, however they know that they have an actual customer when someone signs up via text message.

It is also important not to abuse the privilege of sending messages to willing customers. If you abuse it and send too many messages there is a good chance that those customers will either sign out of the service or they will begin ignoring the text messages. Both are equally bad for text messaging advertising and marketing campaigns. Too many messages just irritate the customer and drive him or her away from the message itself and perhaps your business.

At all times marketing managers must deliver something the customer is interested in and at the same time not make it so common that they begin ignoring the messages. Keep your text messaging marketing campaigns highly effective, offer value to the customer, something that they can use, can save money, something that rewards them for the effort it takes to read the message as short as it is.

For more information on text messaging today, click here.


Affordable Electric Cars

Affordable Electric CarsUnfortunately there are not any affordable electric cars just yet even with all of the government subsidies. Case in point is the Ford Focus which comes in at $39,995 compared to the gasoline model that is priced at $16,995. Even with government subsidies of say $7000, the price for an electric vehicle of this type is nowhere close to the comparable gasoline model. Even if you get past the purchase price and expect to make it up on gasoline savings, experts have indicated that the price of gas has to go up to at least $6 per gallon which is a very hefty price from recent prices such as $3.50 per gallon in the US.

Affordable Electric Cars – Cost of Gasoline

In other countries, where gas is a lot more expensive, the push to electric vehicles may be moving faster, but not in the US or Canada. The car companies are trying to position themselves to be in a position to mass produce electric cars when the big conversion comes, but right now they are still focused on producing cars that are very affordable for the average consumer.

In addition there is a lot of pressure on car companies to make their gas guzzling cars more fuel efficient which makes it even tougher for the electric vehicles to compete. It is going to take either a significant increase in the cost of gas to move this forward or the car companies to mass produce their electric cars to really get the conversion of the public going towards electric cars.

The number of cars sold that either use a hybrid technique or all electric is growing. Between January and May of this year, 32,705 cars have been sold. This can be compared to only 14,226 last year for the same time period. If gas prices surge, this will increase the trend. It will also help the needed installation of infrastructure to charge these cars that depend on batteries only.

This is a push pull kind of situation. Gas must go up to drive electric vehicles. The sales of electric vehicles must go up to drive down prices which in turn will make them more attractive. In addition the construction of charging stations and the general availability of locations to charge these vehicles will increase. They will figure out the business case once there is more demand for charging of electric vehicles.

Affordable Electric Cars – Timing

It will be a few more years before we really see a general increase, but make no mistake it is coming. California is leading the way. This will be the first state to really prepare and drive the manufacture of electric cars into the consumer marketplace. For me right now, the Toyota hybrid is the way to go. You really have the best of both worlds. There is no need to be concerned about charging stations! Even these cars will be interim technology solutions. Once the auto makers solve the battery issue of longevity and charging, electric vehicles will take off in sales. Demand for them will increase dramatically.

It is going to be a few years yet before this happens.


Gasoline Use and Your Tires

Gasoline Use and Your TiresWith gas prices going up as we write this it is ever more important to save money by using less gasoline! Better to have the cash in your pocket v.s. the big oil companies! Gasoline use and your tires condition can play a huge factor in how much you save. The following are a short list of suggestions that drivers may want to consider when trying to save money on gasoline purchases for their cars and trucks. Following these guidelines can save several hundred dollars a year depending on the amount of driving you do each year for commuting to work and leisure driving.

Gasoline Use and Your Tires – Suggestions

Keep Tires Inflated – tires with the proper air pressure wear better and provide better gas mileage. They will last longer too and provide better stability on the road.

Replace Old Tires – old bald tires can cause tremendous accidents and limit your gas mileage. Replace them with new tires for safer driving and better gas mileage.

Get an app for your phone – use GasBuddy’s, AAA’s TripTik and the YP Yellow Pages and Gas Prices, all of which are free. Others that cost money include SmartFuel, Gas Cubby and Cheap Gas. These apps will tell you what stations are selling gas at what prices. You can select the station closest to you that has the lowest price.

Drive less – consolidate errands to keep driving to a minimum. Plan your trips and try to do several things that are on the route that you will be taking. If something can wait until tomorrow when you will be heading past the places you need to go, delay them. Most things can wait a day.

Drive slower – Shave 10 to 15 miles per hour off your speed and you can save up to 15% in fuel consumption. Just give it a try. You will see how much of a difference it makes on your gasoline consumption. If you drive to work everyday, you will save hundreds of dollars a year this way.

More Ways to save Gasoline

Keep your windows closed – at highway speeds, air racing through your car will increase its drag and burn up to 10% more fuel. AC will increase your gas usage. If you do not need it, turn it off until it is too hot to be comfortable.

Go light on the brakes – slow and steady acceleration and braking can save as much as 20% in fuel. Coast into stop signs and stop lights and you will save gasoline as well as your brakes. Brake jobs can be very expensive, so the longer they last, the less you have to spend.

Shut Off your car when stopped– restarting the car when you’re idling for more than one minute will cost you less in fuel than restarting the car. Even the Toyoto Prius engine shuts off at stop lights to conserve gasoline.

Turn your A/C off. – the air conditioner is a big drag on your car’s engine and gas efficiency. If you do not need it, turn it off and let air from outside cool you off.

Keep your car healthy. — clean dirty air filters, replace aging spark plugs, keep tire air pressure and fluids at recommended levels . Tires that are not at their recommended tire pressure will increase the drag on the car and increase the gasoline consumption.

By taking these steps consumers can optimize their cars consumption of gasoline and lower your overall cost of gasoline energy use. As gas prices continue to rise, you can save even more money by following these suggested guidelines.


Refinish Hardwood Floors

Refinish Hardwood FloorsMost consumers should consider refinishing their hardwood floors before replacing them or worse covering them up! You can save thousands of dollars in work and materials by refinishing the floors instead of replacing them or buying carpet to cover the floors because they do not look great. Another tactic that many people will use is that they will purchase area rugs that cover the worst areas and the high traffic areas. Not only do you not see the worst of the wear and tear on the floors, you add protection for the floor and you add warmth to the room.

Purchasing a nice area rug to under a coffee table, down a hallway etc is a great addition to your home and will compliment your furniture and décor. Area rugs can be purchased inexpensively and after a year or two changed to something else if you get tired of it or just want something different. They are not expensive and they make a room look great. But we are getting off the topic of refinishing hardwood floors.

When to Refinish a Hardwood Floor

Other than the obvious observation i.e. the floor looks warn and tired looking so it is time to refinish it, there are some practical considerations to take into account about deciding when to refinish a hardwood floor.

For example a friend of ours just moved into an older home that they purchased. The home has hardwood floors throughout with the exception of the kitchen and the bathrooms. The floors are in average shape. They are not in terrible shape, nor do they exhibit severe stress in high traffic areas. However they certainly do not have that high gloss brand new look that everyone strives for when they move into a brand new home or have the floors refinished.

Their initial plan was to have all of the floors refinished before they moved in so that they would have pristine high gloss hardwood floors. The job would be easy to do without the furniture in the rooms and the dust to contend with while living in the home. Once they saw the floors after the previous owner had moved out, washed and cleaned then they realized that the floors were ok, not great but ok. Combined with the fact that they have a cat and they have a young daughter with her toys and friends coming and going, they felt that it might be better to wait until she got a little older and there would be less chance of a brand new floor being scratched the day they move in.

With the existing floors in their present condition, which is really not that bad, they can be much more relaxed in their home and they can have the floors completely refinished sometime in the future. Instead they will judiciously use area rugs under the coffee table, beside their beds and in higher traffic areas at entrances to rooms. They are having fun picking out these rugs and decorating their home together.

Refinishing One Room at a Time

Consumers can do the work themselves by renting the appropriate equipment and working evenings and weekends. By closing the doors, taping up the vents they can prevent dust from getting into the rest of the house and complete one room at a time. While they have no definite plans at this time to start on any of the rooms this is a good approach to take when they are ready to get started. In the mean time they can enjoy their home and look forward to decorating their home while not stressing about scratching the hardwood floor.

If you are unsure of how to do some of the work, talk to experts or review some videos. There are many other posts on this web site about how to refinish your hardwood floors as well as tips about refinishing floors. Comments are welcome.


Dead Tree Removal Service

dead Tree Removal ServiceWe recently had a tree removed from our property which was alive and healthy. Unfortunately it was getting too big and it was too close to the house. It had to go. We reflected on what it would be like to have someone remove a dead tree. Dead tree removal service would be a lot more dangerous for the tree removal technicians. Once a tree has died, many of the branches become brittle. They will fall down from time to time when there are gusts of wind or when the tree is shaken by someone climbing it.

It is dangerous enough to be climbing a tree to remove branches with a chain saw. You do not want to worry whether the trunk of the tree is sturdy enough to support you. Or whether branches are going to come down on your head from time to time. This can create a very dangerous situation which most dead tree technicians are not willing to consider.

Using a Crane to Remove Dead Trees

The only real answer to this question of dead tree remove services in a safe manner is to use a crane with a bucket on the end of it. Much like the type you see being used by electrical companies, these cranes can suspend the operator beside the tree and they can then cut off branches and the trunk of the tree in sections without being in danger from the trunk collapsing on them and flinging them to the ground.

This process is probably more expensive since in addition to the grinder to grind up the limbs and the tree trunk and a truck to carry away all of the ground up chips, a bucket truck must be on site to support this sort of tree removal service.

It is far better to be safe than sorry in situations such as this and although there is a higher cost, most consumers would rather have the tree come down in a controlled manner instead of being blown down in a storm on top of their home. This situation can cause a great deal of damage and cost far more than removing the tree will cost.

Clean up after the Dead Tree Removal Service is completed

In fact this service is part of their overall service. They will sweep up all small branches and sawdust to provide a clean place after the work is done free from broken branches and piles of sawdust. There should be no cleanup work at all needed to be done by the owner.

Before you decide to proceed with the removal of a dead tree, consumers will want to discuss the process for removing the tree, safety of surrounding plants and of course safety of your home. No one wants a tree coming down on their home while it is being removed. The clean up aspect should also be confirmed to ensure that everything you need completed will be done for you.

Consumers should avoid doing this work themselves due to the possibility of broken branches crashing to the ground and hitting them. If you must do this work yourself follow proper safety precautions, were a hard hat and check the tree first for any broken or weak branches.

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Qualifications for Property Management

Weekend House WatchersThe qualifications for property management are pretty loose. Just about anyone can set themselves up as a property manager. The big companies and the serious companies will have trained professionals on staff and people with lots of experience. Some of the smaller companies will hire just about anyone who has had some experience. You need to have experience dealing with tenants. Someone who is handy at looking after property or is available for the job.

Smaller companies and startup property management companies may be light on both experience and qualifications. In addition the board or owners of the property may also not have a lot of experience. They are depending on the property management firm to have the qualifications. They need experience to help them  keep everything legal as well as run the property efficiently and cost effectively.

What are the Qualifications for Property Management to Look For?

The questions most owners of rental buildings and condo board members ask themselves is what should we look for when we hire a property manager. What prices should be paid for the services that are being provided. What services should we expect. On the other hand these companies have an objective to keep everything running smoothly since that maintains their income. But at the same time they want to keep their costs to a minimum.

Many condo or apartment management companies will charge a flat rate per apartment to rent out the unit, to manage the unit and collect the rent. This will include miscellaneous reporting, tax reports, rent rolls and comparison to budgets that have been set up. Some will charge a finder’s fee for renting a unit while others will include this cost as part of their per door fee.

Attending board meetings or owner meetings may be included in the per door fee or they may be extra. Collection services and attending court proceedings may also be included for those situations where tenants skip town and do not pay the rent.

It is important to delve into all of the services that are provided as part of the regular fees and what exclusions are not included. Your property manager’s expertise and qualifications may be a factor in this equation.

Qualifications for Property Management – Government Requirements and Restrictions

Some government jurisdictions are also planning on enacting laws requiring boards and owners to take courses to train them in these areas. This is intended to protect condominium owners who are not on the board and do not always have much of a say in many decisions. The idea is to educate the board, investors and property managers on the functions of a condo board. this includes regulations regarding renting of units and the functions of property managers. The objective is to help everyone avoid costly mistakes and misunderstandings that could cause difficulty for many owners.

Rent increase legislation is popular in many jurisdictions by politicians who are going after the popular vote. Since more people rent than there are owners, these laws often are passed by politicians who are going after votes. They do not really care about the investment needed to maintain a building. Rents will be allowed to increase by a calculated percentage each year based on many factors. Rent controls and rent legislation is another area that property managers need to have expertise in or at least access to.

The smaller companies may not be able to afford to have someone on staff who is familiar with the methodology of how rent increases are calculated. As a result this could be another additional cost. The last thing a landlord wants to encounter is a charge by a tenant that rents have been raised too high and have to rescind some of the rent increases. It is costly and looks bad for the landlord and usually means less maintenance work is completed around the building.

Check out the qualifications for property management carefully before you hire a property manager. Take the appropriate educational courses to set yourself in a good position.


Easy Home Repair Jobs

Easy Home Repair JobsSome of the easiest upkeep projects require less time than it takes to grill a steak. Most people don’t think to do these things. Yet anyone can knock them out in minutes for virtually no cost, even if you don’t have a basement workshop. Compared to hiring a handy man at $20 or more an hour and $50 just to show up, these jobs can be completed by most consumers with a little thought and a few tools.  The way the writer looks at this is that the money I save by doing some of these jobs myself can easily pay for any tools I might need. These tools can be used over and over.

Easy Home Repair Jobs

Clean your air conditioner’s condenser. That move alone could knock 10% to 15% off your cooling costs.

Slide your clothes dryer forward, pull off the vent hose, and vacuum out the built-up lint and around the base of the dryer. That can cut the laundry-related portion of your electric or gas bill by as much as 25% to 30%,

Windowsills are extremely prone to rot, for instance, check each window for any cracks in the sill paint. Use a few dollar’s worth of exterior caulk to seal any fissures that you find and keep rain and moisture out. If the paint damage is extensive, the problem has unfortunately moved beyond a quick fix: Hire a pro to scrape and repaint them or do the job yourself.

Similarly, pruning back shrubs to leave a foot of air space around your building

Checking your lawn irrigation system to ensure that the spray isn’t hitting the house or garage — will help delay your next $6,000 to $10,000 paint job.

Keep your garage door tracks, casement window gearboxes, and balky doorknobs working smoothly — and without annoying creaks and groans — spray them with WD-40.

Use it or lose it.

Like muscles and gray matter, your home’s mechanical equipment will age a lot more gracefully if you put it through its paces now and then.
“If you tend not to use your garbage disposal, for example, running it occasionally will help prevent it from freezing up when a guest or caterer — or home buyer — tries to turn it on someday

Do the same with forgotten Jacuzzi pumps, the plumbing fixtures in a rarely used attic bathroom, and the emergency shutoffs for your water and electrical supply lines. Find the valves under your sinks, behind your showers, and on the mains in your basement, and gently turn them closed and then open them again to help ensure they will work when you really need them someday. (One caveat: If your plumbing is more than 50 years old, don’t touch the valves. Hire a plumber to check and replace them, if needed; likely cost: about $100 to $200 apiece.)

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How to Get rid of Aphids

How to Get rid of AphidsYour wondering how to get rid of aphids. One of the best ways to get rid of aphids that have infested your flowers next to using a pesticide of some kind  is to use soap spray. The picture that is included with this post is from our garden and the flowers and the leaves were just infested with aphids by the thousands. Not only is it not a pretty site, the flowers and the plants will quickly show signs of stress if something is not done quickly. By stress we mean they will begin to turn brown and eventually die  if something is not done about all of these aphids. If the leaves begin to curl you probably have aphids on the inside of the leaves. Just uncurl the leaves to check them out and confirm what you already know is attacking them.

When you first notice the aphids on your flowers, it can be a bit sickening to see so many of these insects crawling around on your flowers and on the leaves.  While it is not nice to look at, they will not hurt you in any way and you just need to get on with the job if removing them.

How to Get rid of Aphids – Use a Soap Mixture

We tried using soap with some success. They were reduced but not totally eliminated and we had to use several treatments before we really made an impact on the number of aphids on these flowers. You will want to use a spray bottle that is left over from some other liquid. Make sure you clean it out and rinse it thoroughly before using it for the flowers. You do not want to accidentally kill your flowers by spraying Windex or some other liquid on them which would be harmful to the plants. Once you have your spray bottle follow the directions outlined below and be prepared to apply several applications of the mixture to the flowers to get the best results.

Mix the following in a spray bottle:

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 drops of liquid dish soap
4 cups warm water

Shake well, and spray the leaves and steams of infected plants and surrounding plants to get rid of a current aphid problem. Spray weekly to keep new ones away. Also try to make sure that you spray the top side of the leaves and flowers as well as the underside. There are just as many aphids on the under side of the flowers and leaves and you need to get rid of all of them to ensure that they do not harm the plants.

Safety tip: The first time I made this solution I used way too much dish soap and it burned the leaves of my flowers. You really only need a couple of drops of soap in the spray bottle. You may also need to apply the soap mixture several times and soak the leaves each time.

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