Archive for November, 2013

Tips for Saving Energy

Computers and Office Equipment

Shut your computer down when not in use to save electricity and reduce wear on your system.

Electronic devices left plugged in, even when turned off, still draw power. That’s called phantom power or standby power, and it’s costing you money. Plug the following electronics into a power bar with a timer or auto-shut off and make sure they are off during periods of inactivity. For example: a television, home theater system, computer, monitor, printer, scanner, rechargeable devices (MP3 players, cell phones, battery chargers etc.), and game console al consume power when plugged in, even when they are turned off. By reducing this unnecessary power use, you could help save up to 15% of your electricity use and also prolong the life of your systems as well, since all electronics degrade over time if they are constantly in use.

When replacing your computer, look for an ENERGY STAR qualified model. Laptops typically will  use less energy than desktop models.

A screen-saver doesn’t save energy.
Make sure any computer you purchase has an automatic power-down function that will automatically switch the monitor into sleep mode (preferably a deep sleep mode) after a set period of inactivity. (A feature mandatory to bear the ENERGY STAR symbol). Applying a screen saver just turns the scree to black, however all functions are still turned on.

Tips for Saving Energy at the Office

Here are some more tips for saving energy at the office. Not surprisingly, the tips that apply at home also apply at the office as well.  As an owner you can reap the benefits by reducing your operating expenses. For employees it is about doing the right thing and helping your company stay profitable which means jobs are preserved. Something we all care very much about in these times of volatile economies.

  • Be sure to always turn the equipment and lights off after hours.
  • Unplug coffeemakers, toasters and microwaves before shutting the office down at the end of the day, weekends or holidays.
  • Take advantage of the sun. Open shades and blinds during daylight hours. Let the sun heat and light your space naturally; shade it when it’s hot. In the winter, close your blinds and drapes in the evening.
    Whenever possible, choose ENERGY STAR qualified products.
  • Take the time to set the energy-saving features on all of your office equipment to put them into sleep mode when not in use.
  • Dress comfortably for the weather. Adjust your layers before adjusting the thermostat.
  • Use revolving doors to access entrances. It keeps cool/hot air inside.
  • Keep entrance doors closed.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Cheap United States tires for Canadians

Cheap United States tires for CanadiansMany Canadians are heading to the US to purchase tires for their cars. The simple message is that tires purchased for the same car and the same kind of tire are often 32% cheaper than in Canada. Cheap United States tires for Canadians means that most can save a great deal of money. For example my own set of tires would’ve cost me approximately $1000 including taxes, installation and wheel balancing for my car in Canada.

The exact same set of tires purchased in the US would have been approximately $700. Many people view the savings of $300 as being typical. It is worthwhile for making a trip to the United States to purchase their tires. Particularly in border towns such as Cornwall, Niagara Falls, Windsor and Vancouver. Thousands of Canadians will head to the US just to purchase tires for their car. However the question is whether this upfront initial savings is really worth it or not in the long run?

Cheap United States tires for Canadians – Additional Points to Consider When Buying Tires

There are number of things to keep in mind when purchasing tires in the United States. If you need repairs to your tires, replacement tires, or have any difficulty with the balancing of the tire a trip back to the US will be required since no Canadian dealer will provide you with any kind of warranty support. For many people this is just not an issue and for $300 they will take the chance and purchase tires in the United States.

The writer has discovered though that if you deal with a national chain tire provider, one that is also operating in the US, such as Costco you can have your tires serviced at any Costco store in the United States or Canada. In fact Costco provides for one price the tire installation, tire balancing, tire rotation, and filling the up the tires with nitrogen which is a more stable gas and retains air pressure in the tire for longer periods.

Any Costco will service your cars tires as long as you have the receipt and the same set of tires. This is a good deal in my books. Tire rotation and balancing can cost as much as $15 or $20 per tire each time you have this done. If you have to pay for tire rotation, many people will forgo this step which means their tires may wear prematurely which lowers the overall savings.

Great Service

They will service the tires at any Costco in the United States or Canada, and the best part you get the price differential by buying your tires in the US as well. Even a set of tires purchased at Costco in the United States is between 20 and 25% cheaper than the same set of tires purchased at Costco in Canada. This is why many Canadians are heading south to the United States to purchase their winter tires, and summer tires and saving a great deal of money. Don’t forget that the tax is also usually much less than in Canada as well which provides added savings.

We also want to mention that this is not an advertisement for Cosco. Do your research and look for the best deal that meets your situation. You may not have a Costco near you or you can get a better deal closer to home based on a negotiated price for the kind of tires you are looking for. Investigate and compare, then make your decision.

For more about tires and tire sales, click here.

How Much to Budget for Home Maintenance

Budget for Home MaintenanceBudgeting for home maintenance is difficult to be exact, however to make sure that you have close to the right amount set aside for home maintenance so that it is not a burden to you when the time comes, is relatively easy.  As your home gets older, there is always going to be something to replace or repair. Take a look at the things that are nearing their end of life. Obtain quotes for replacement and / or repair. Decide if you will do the work yourself or hire someone. This makes a huge difference in terms of how much you will need to budget for home maintenance.

Budget for Home Maintenance – Assess your home

The first step is to asses your home. Look at all of the big items that will need some sort of work done in the next 20 years. These typically include the following items – roof, driveway, furnace, water heater, air conditioner, windows, flooring, window treatments and garage door.

The next step is to figure out the cost of replacing all of these items and timing of when each item will need replacement. We are talking about average years to replace and the cost today to replace the item. You can allow for inflation as well. Which is a good step to take especially if the item in question will last for another 20 years.

Some work will be do it yourself jobs. But many of the larger jobs must be completed by skilled professionals or businesses with the right kind of equipment. E.g. replacing your driveway. Decide which jobs will be done by yourself. Which ones will not, make sure the full cost of material and installation is included.

Repairs and replacements don’t always happen as planned. For example a furnace that should last another 10 years might only last 10 years. While the water heater will last for 20 years. At least if you are setting money aside you will have some of the money saved if the furnace for example quits early.

Divide the cost to replace the item by the number of years that you expect them to last. The result is the amount that you need to save every year.

Upgrades, renovations, improvements

These items are another area to include since they are more discretionary. They can also involved big bucks. For example if you are planning to replace your carpet flooring with hardwood, the cost will be in the thousands of dollars. Again decide when it will be done, ask for several estimates and then decide how much you need to save to ensure you have sufficient funds to pay for whatever you are improving.

Improvements can include new floors, landscaping, adding a pool or hot tub and so on. The more you can do yourself the more you will save and reduce / control your overall cost.

Once you have all of the estimates and the cost for each item, the timing of each item figured out, you can arrive at a total number that will indicate how much you need to save for all of your plans and home maintenance costs. Depending on your income, there may be a need to make adjustments to your plans. For example the landscaping you planned may need to be delayed for a couple of years until you have enough money saved.

Cheap Hardwood Flooring for Sale

Cheap Hardwood Flooring for SaleHardwood floors really add a lot of value to a home both in monetary terms as well as in the comfort and warmth of a home. More and more people are installing hardwood floors instead of carpeting these days because it is so much easier to keep clean and collects far less dust. If you suffer from allergies investing in a hardwood floor may be the right solution for you to limit the amount of dust in your home. While you are at it install a central vacuum with the exhaust outside. This will ensure that any micro pieces of dust that are exhausted through the vacuum are distributed outdoors in the garage or car port instead of back into your home. regular vacuums just circulate these small particles which can really be difficult for any one who suffers from allergies to dust and mites. Enough on allergies, back to cheap hardwood flooring.

Cheap Hardwood Flooring for Sale

When you are buying hardwood flooring there are many issues to consider. We have listed some of the major ones to give consumers something to think about and act on before they place their order regardless of whether they are installing it themselves or having a professional install the floor for them.

Our List for Hardwood Flooring

  • Material
  • Installation
  • Taxes
  • Save money
  • Do it yourself
  • Look for sales
  • Look for same lot
  • Pre finished
  • Stairs and curved stairs
  • Save on taxes

Consider each of the above items and decide how much money you want to save when you install your hardwood flooring.

Material – purchase high quality material always. It needs to last a long time and you do not want to replace the floor any time soon.

Installation – who will install the floor for you? do they have good reviews? is the installation included in the price?

Taxes – don’t forget to add in the tax to get to the total price when comparing to your planned budget

Save money – by waiting for a sale, doing some or all of the work yourself

Do it yourself – there are training courses offered by many companies which are often free and cover the basics of installing hardwood floors along with Youtube videos.

Look for same lot – always by wood that has the same lot number to make sure that the stain and the finish are exactly the same

Pre finished – hardwood is by far the easiest and least dirty in terms of dust. It is much faster as well. Once the floor is installed, it is ready to be used.

Stairs and curved stairs – are more difficult to install especially curved stairs. Take your time or hire an expert for this portion of the job

Drive Your Tesla from Tijuana to Vancouver

Monitor electric car charging spotsTesla motors is continuing with its planned cross-country network of friendly electric charging stations to enable their all electric Model S roadster sales and customer experience .  They have just announced in the fall of 2013 that Tesla model S owners can Drive Your Tesla from Tijuana to Vancouver. This is along the entire West Coast of the United States. They can take advantage of their free supercharger network which is now energized.  As a result Tesla drivers can now drive from Vancouver  all the way to Tijuana. They can count on being able to recharge their cars quickly at a number of charging stations.

Drive Your Tesla – Charging Stations

Charging stations have been installed along Highway 101 and also on Interstate 5. A full charge takes about one hour while  half the charge in 20 minutes.  The stations are free for Tesla drivers and covers major highways on the East Coast of the United States. As a result you can stop to charge your car and grab a quick bite. Also visit the washroom and your car is just about fully charged.

Over the next two years every superhighway and every state will have charging stations. They will support Tesla Model S drivers on cross continent trips. An Amazing Objective!  Hence as volume picks up more and more stations will be installed. They will support the increasing number of electric cars on the road. The plan is to have a super charger station every 80 miles along major highways. With more and more companies getting into the act, there will be added stations in small towns. Also along less traveled roads over the next 5 years. The construction of this charging network will be the catalyst that enables electric vehicles. It could make it possible for them to really gain a foothold in American car culture.

Battery Swapping

A Tesla battery can be swapped out in as little as 90 seconds and replaced with a fully charged battery. The cost is planned to be about the same as a full tank of gas. The driver can be on his way quite quickly. It is not clear how many stations will have this capability at the present time. Or how many drivers would be willing to pay this extra amount vs. taking a break while their car recharges. Drivers will need to decide on whether they want convenience. Or are willing to wait for more economic recharging of their batteries.

Changing Condo Board Members

Changing Condo Board MembersCondominium board members are usually elected for one year terms or sometimes two year terms. They usually rotate through positions such as president, treasurer, vice president and secretary. Changing Condo Board Members is usually very difficult. Most people are reluctant to become members of the condo board. They may be frightened about the responsibilities. They may be concerned about the amount of work that they will encounter.

Many people may just not want to deal with the hassles that they feel a condominium board must deal with. They simply might not be interested enough to get involved. The condo is running properly and no one is too upset. Most people are satisfied to let someone else do the work.  When there are issues, it can be time for changes to the condo board. The single biggest issue for most condo owners is when a special assessment is levied for some major repair work. As a result this usually gets everyone interested and attending meetings. If people feel there is mismanagement involved or things could be done better, they sometimes will be upset enough to get involved.

The bottom line though is the condo needs volunteers to fill these positions. They assume responsibility to manage the condo building. The condo board is also responsible for managing the  the property manager and all issues that may arise from time to time. Issues can be raised by either the owners or the residents or the property manager.

Do Board Members Overstep their Boundaries

Occasionally some condominium board members overstep their boundaries becoming too dictatorial. Sometimes they avoid or not take into account other owner requirements and generally not doing the job they are supposed to be doing. This is the time for changing condo board members. Other owners must step up and run against them to become members of the board through the democratic election process.

If you do not get involved and deal with some of these issues then you really have nothing to complain about. A condo board member must also be a an excellent communicator to get their ideas across other wise they risk being perceived as overstepping their boundaries or not listening to the complaints of the owners who are not on the board. It can be a very political position at times.

Changing Condo Board Members: Something to Think About

The following is a summary of points the condo board members need to take into account. This is doing the job of managing the condominium building. Take a look at these and ensure that your are not over stepping your  boundaries.

  • Elected for one or two year terms
  • No one wants the job
  • Usually volunteers
  • Some on a power trip
  • Sometimes need to be changed
  • Need to be competent
  • Must be able to listen
  • Need to be responsive
  • Be professional

Another point is that we recommend that all decisions are documented including proper motions. Also who seconded the motions and how many people voted in favor of the motion. If these decisions are properly made, then it is pretty tough to disagree after the fact.

On one board that we are familiar with, the president of the condo board has been in place for 17 years. This is far too long for many reasons. It is clearly time for changing condo board members so that the president along with other members are changed. They can become stale and outdated and even burned out. The task of changing condo board members may not even be that difficult. Owners must be willing to step up to their responsibilities.

Text Message Campaigns

Text Message CampaignsOr previous post discussed the basics of text message campaigns. In this post we wanted to dig a little deeper into setting the goals and objectives of these campaigns. We feel that this is the most important part of the job or tasks for a number of reasons. We will discuss some of the reasons why setting goals and objectives can be so important in no particular order. Most people just want to get the program started, but hut this approach can mean that your campaign delivers a poor performance, something you do not want to explain to your boss. Do the job right up front and get better results.

Text Message Campaigns –  Managing Expectations

Managing expectations is one of the objectives of your goals and objectives. Your boss and management team needs to understand what the company is going to get out of this campaign for the money that they are spending. If your objective is 100 units sold and you sell 90, your almost their and might be considered successful, however if your objective is 1000 and you sell 90 units you’re a bum and probably will get fired.

Setting your objectives is critical to managing expectations and your perceived success. It is important for the company from a budgeting perspective to manage the cost of the campaign and the response to the campaign. It is also important to your personal career to set the right expectation so that you are considered successful and not someone who missed their objectives.

Text Message Campaigns – Setting Goals

Setting goals also drives preparation for success. Preparing for success also means that you have sufficient product to ship. You must have staff ready to help meet that need. Your associated budget is critical. If you cannot meet demand, your customers may shrink if you cannot meet their expectations rapidly.

Your suppliers must also be on board to produce and deliver sufficient product to meet your customers needs. Long delays can occur if you get it wrong. As well as if you have too much product to ship and not enough sales.

On the other hand it is a problem if you have a great deal of product available and ready to go with no sales or limited sales. The company has spent too much money and now you are faced with an inventory that will need to be discounted in order to move it.

Think about your goals and objectives carefully. Set them in such a manner that you must stretch to meet them. Also have a reasonable chance of success with your text message campaigns. You also need to be able to measure the results. Assess the results, and improve on your next campaign. Also explain to your boss or your customer how the goals and objectives were met.

For more about text messaging and how to use it, click here.

Importance of Car Maintenance

Importance of Car MaintenanceThe importance of car maintenance cannot be emphasized enough. It can mean the difference between life and death. A major accident, and someone you love being hurt or killed by a car that has not been well-maintained. In addition bad or poor car maintenance can cause accidents with people being hurt or killed. In addition to major damage that takes place.

Then there is the cost of fixing a car that has not been maintained. It is pretty much recognized that you can spend some money on regular maintenance. Such as oil changes, brakes, muffler, fluid flushes and tune-up. Or you can spend a great deal more money on repairs on your car that have been made worse because they have not been maintained.

Then there is the cost of the breakdown on the road. The subsequent towing that is required and finally the repair. Consumers can expect to pay more than $100 for a tow. Especially if you are stuck on the road and cannot move your car. There is no opportunity to negotiate. There is no choice but to accept the charges that the tow operator offers. Unless you have a towing package from one of the major travel companies like CAA or AAA. Just the cost of towing a poorly maintained car can make a huge difference in what the overall cost of the total repair costs and money you spend on your car. Preventative maintenance can save you money in the long run and save your life. Here are a few things that should be considered under car maintenance.

Tips for Regular Car Maintenance

Check your tires on a regular basis. This is one of the most common issues to cause accidents because tires do not have sufficient inflation and the car becomes unstable at high speeds.

Have your brakes checked on a regular basis. The brakes can mean the car will not stop as fast as possible or may fail altogether. Squealing brakes indicate that the pad is worn through to the metal and should be replaced immediately.

Failure to have adequate engine oil in the engine can cause premature wear and tear on the engines mechanical parts and cause the engine to fail earlier than the manufacturer warranties. Always make sure that it has sufficient oil in it. Also have your engine oil and filter changed at the proper times as per the manufacturers guidelines. Old engine oil will also cause your car to fail environmental testing that many states and provinces have enacted. Even oil as old as six months can cause a car to fail the emissions test and cost you more money.

If the tires are wearing prematurely or unevenly it is time to replace them. At the same time have new tires and rims balanced and the front end aligned for your car to make sure that you your car will handle properly at high speeds. This can mean the difference between life and death.

Tesla Model S Consumer Rating

Tesla Model S Consumer RatingWhile Tesla is scoring points by expanding its charging network along the west coast of the United States all the way from Tijuana to Vancouver, it is gaining points in another area as well. See previous post for more information on this topic.

Now Consumer Reports has listed the Tesla Model S as one of the most reliable cars on the road. They gave it a score of 99 points out of 100. It missed out on the one last point due to it needing to be recharged on long trips. Minor problems have been reported for things like squeaks and rattles or locks that did not operate properly. However, when it comes to performance of the car and its battery pack it is off the charts.

Tesla Model S Consumer Rating – Range

The range can vary between 208 miles to 265 miles on a full charge depending on the model. Also of course how the car is driven. It takes about 6 hours to recharge on a 240 volt connection. However it can be charged in about one hour at a super charger station. A half a charge takes 20 minutes. A battery can be swapped in 90 seconds for the price of a tank of gasoline for those in a hurry. Tesla is arranging for more and more charging stations to be installed in California. Also across the US along major interstate highways. This will overtime by 2019 allow an electric car to travel across the US in all directions. They will be able to charge at these charging stations.

When Will they Come Out with A less Expensive Car?

Currently the Model S is sold for prices in excess of $100k which not many people can afford. Tesla is rumored to come out with a SUV version of this vehicle next and then a less expensive car in the future. When they do , this is when it will get really interesting as the mass market begins to pick up on these cars and demand soars.

They are currently building a manufacturing plant for car batteries to power electric cars and they are developing an electric vehicle which is rumored to be more affordable for people in the middle class.

First time using Siri dictation

Text Message SystemThis is the first time I have use the Siri dictation system in iOS seven with Apple iPhone 5.

I really am trying to figure out the best way to write blogs using the dictation system compared to typing all the blogs by itself. this could be a huge time saver for me, even though I am a relatively fast at typing! But there is no comparison to speaking and having a system auto convert to text in terms of speed as long as it is accurate.

My previous experiences been with Dragon naturally speaking and I have found it to be problematic in its accuracy in terms of interpreting my voice and coming up with the right structure and grammar etc.

First time using Siri dictation – Experience

This is the first time I’ve used the Siri system for dictation and in finding it to be almost 100% accurate and I’m sitting in the middle of a mall all kinds of external noise distraction around me, yet it seems to be working really well.

I have not corrected this particular post show you how accurate the Siri system is for dictation. I think there are probably five or six errors that I would’ve corrected had I gone through this post and done so manually. But I am very impressed with the accuracy of the system and I think I will be using it from now on.

I came across or was aware beware of the Siri system for dictation by reading an article from Feedly which is the news processing service that I received. Note that with the update to IOS8.2, the dictation function using Siri is much improved. It is more accurate, gives you real time results instead of having to wait for a response and it seems less impacted by spurious noise that may be in the background. Still, for best results you still need to enunciate clearly, articulate each word clearly and speak at a regular speed to achieve the best results.

Even with this requirement, using Siri for dictation is far superior to typing by hand on your iPhone or iPad.  The writer uses this function a great deal and it saves time as well as improves the amount of material I can post. Accuracy is approximately 98%, so there is a need to go back and proof read.

First time using Siri dictation – Summary

This is definitely an improvement over dictating to Dragon Naturally Speaking and then copying it directly over to WordPress. Now I can dictate directly into WordPress. This will save me some time as I’m writing these blogs. Let’s face it if you have the gift of the gab, speak clearly and articulate clearly, Siri will do a great job for you in terms of saving time.

This is a huge efficiency gain for anyone who writes a lot, whether you are doing blogs like I am, composing emails, sending text messages and generally developing content for your daily work.


States Boosting Electric Car Business

There are two major things that are holding back the increase in the electric car business.  The first is the cost of the cars to consumers.  The exact same car with a gasoline engine is often $5-$10,000 less than an electric car of the same model.  As a result even with subsidies the electric car is still more expensive than its gasoline counterpart.  The second thing that holds back consumers from buying these cars is the distance you can go on a full charge. Also locations to recharge your batteries.

Electric Car Business – Reduce Pollution

Several states in the United States have decided to give the electric car business a boost.  Their objective is to reduce pollution and improve the general well-being of the population.  As a result by reducing gasoline driven cars they hope to make a major contribution in the war against pollution.

Eight states are involved. They represent nearly a quarter of US auto sales. They have agreed to increase the number of electric and hydrogen fueled cars, trucks and buses on the roads.  Their goal is to have 3.3 million vehicles by 2025.  California is leading the way with an announced goal of 1.5 million zero emission vehicles in the next 12 years.

They are going to accomplish this goal by ensuring there are more points along the highways to recharge vehicles.  They’re going to continue with subsidies and increase subsidies to ensure that the consumers are more willing to spend money on electric vehicles.  Even with $10,000 subsidies some electric vehicles are still more expensive than their gasoline counterparts.  As a result the savings will come from the reduced cost to operate the vehicle using electricity instead of gasoline.

Practical Issues

The practical issue of being able to drive your car and  recharge it at a convenient location is of paramount importance. This issue needs to be solved in the near future if these objectives are going to be met.  The majority of trips made by consumers are less than 40 miles every day.  With incentives to install charging stations at employer locations. Along the highways and even at consumers homes.

Would provide more posts on the subject is more information comes along.  We recently wrote a post about 20 new electric charging stations being installed along the 401. This is between Montreal Quebec and Windsor Ontario.  This is a start and we will see a lot more in the years to come.

Average Home Maintenance Costs

Home Maintenance CostsCondos have condo fees for a reason. There is a lot of maintenance and upkeep that needs to be done for any building. Whether it is an apartment building or a town house style of home or a regular single family home. The difference with condo’s is that you are paying a management fee to someone to manage the building. You are paying labor costs for all of the work that needs to be completed. Much of which most people can do themselves e.g. cutting and trimming the lawn.

Management fees are a set fee that the management company will charge just to manage the property. Their job is to collect the money, hire contractors and make sure that the work gets done. The work should be completed according to the instructions they receive from the condo board. When you are in your own home, no one needs to pay management fees. You are the owner and the manager and you get to do the work, providing a huge savings.

Labor Fees

Labor fees are another factor that come into play when you have your own home vs. a condo. In a condo you get to pay labor costs for everything at the going rate. While in a home there are many things that home owners can do themselves. From raking leaves to planting flowers to fixing leaking faucets to name a few. This is a huge savings for anyone who can do the basic level of work. The larger jobs you can contract out or hire someone to help you.

Before this post begins to sound too much like a condo vs. single family home post, we just want to say one thing more. A homeowner can shop around for materials. They can take advantage of sales for material. While a contractor buys material and may get a discount for quantity. They may or may not pass the savings along to the condo!

Home Maintenance Costs

Maintenance is regular things you have to do every year while repairs are something that needs to be fixed after it has broken or stopped working. Keeping your lawn healthy and trimmed looking is maintenance. Fixing broken fences or fences that have lasted beyond their age is something that needs repair. All of these things most people can do themselves as long as they are not afraid of a bit of hard work.

Set aside money for big jobs

There are a number of large jobs that you will have to contend with particularly if you stay in a home for any length of time. We suggest that you set aside money for these things because they can cost a great deal and most people do not have that kind of money just sitting around. Here are a few examples of some of the things that people may want to consider saving for.

New roof – $4000 to $10,000 or more depending on the size of the home
Furnace Replacement – $3000 to $6000 again depending on the size of the furnace and features
New windows – $15,000 to $40,000 depending on how many windows and the type of windows
New driveway – $4,000 to $20,000 depending on size, asphalt or interlock
Upgrades – kitchen upgrades, bathroom upgrades, family room, basement etc can be high
Renovations – usually smaller jobs, but still expensive such as rug replacement, hardwood floors etc

A rule of thumb is to take the job you are going to do, figure out the cost of the job, decide when it will be done and divide by the number of years to get the amount you need to save each year. For example if your roof is already 10 years old and has another 15 years of live, and th estimated cost to replace it is $5,000, then you need to save $5000 divided by 15 each year in order to have enough saved when the roof needs replacement. Apply this approach to all of your items and you should end up with enough money in your maintenance pool to pay for all of your repairs!


How to Refinish Hardwood Floors Yourself

How to Refinish Hardwood Floors YourselfThe following are the concise steps that you need to follow when  planning on how to refinish hardwood floors yourself. We also suggest that consumers speak to a professional before they start to make sure that they are using the right tools and materials. Cleanliness is next to godliness when it comes to refinishing hardwood floors. Do it yourself consumers must remove all dust specks before applying finishing coats.

Otherwise you will have lots of dust specs that will show up in the daylight. This will cause your floor not to look as great as it should. You will also need to sand between coats of varnish or whatever you use to finish your floor. The last coat must be applied to a completely clean floor to avoid any possibility of dust specks leaving marks on your floor.

How to Refinish Hardwood Floors Yourself: Steps to Take

Good luck and follow these steps to refinish your hardwood floors yourself:

  • Remove all furniture & window treatments
  • Tape all vents
  • Open windows
  • Turn furnace fan off
  • Close door and seal
  • Rent power sander with vacuum
  • Sand in direction of wood grain
  • Use progressively finer sand paper
  • Vacuum dust
  • Use tack cloth on floors and walks
  • Treat with appropriate finish
  • Light sanding between coats

How to Refinish Hardwood Floors Yourself: Additional Thoughts

Let it dry for a few days and then move your furniture etc back into the room. This is a lot of work and many consumers must do this work in the evenings and weekends since they must also go to their day jobs.  The job can take several weeks depending on how focused you are in getting the job completed, which means you must also have the support of your family as well.

The room you are refinishing cannot be used during this time period and no matter how hard you try there will be lots of fine dust, that will find its way into just about everything. If someone comes in to do the work for you, the job should be completed within a few days in most cases. Many consumers consider this to be a huge benefit and even though it will cost a lot more money they will hire a handy man to complete the job for them.

This scenario is definitely something to think about. If you hire someone, discuss how they will minimize the dust in the rest of the home. Exhaust fans to the outside, taping the door shut and closing return air vents to avoid dust being sucked into the forced air heating system are examples of steps to take to avoid the dust being circulated throughout the home.

Condo Boards Role in Property Management

Condo Boards RoleThe condo board has the primary responsibility for managing all aspects of the condo on behalf of all of the owners. The condo board is usually elected for one or two years. Board members are rotated through the positions of the condo board. The condo board positions usually include a president, vice president, treasurer, secretary. Also any other special board members that may be required. An odd number of board members usually works best when it comes to a vote.

Their responsibilities are quite varied. However the main ones are to set a budget for the upcoming year for both the operating expenses of the condo and the reserve fund. Which is money to be set aside for all major construction and all major repairs. The timeline is over the next 20 years for the condo property and the building.

Additionally they have the responsibility to manage and hire the property manager. The property manager will implement and carry out all of the operations of the building. They also are responsible to report back to the owners collectively at an annual board and condo meeting. They report the status of the budget, the actual operating expenses. Also any special needs or issues that must be addressed or raised by any and all of the owners.

Condo Boards Role – Summary List of Responsibilities

The following is a partial summary list of all of the responsibilities that the condominium board will be accountable for:

  • Set a budget
  • Manage property manager
  • Monitor spending
  • Determine priorities
  • Call AGM
  • Resolve owner issues
  • Set reserve fund budget
  • Special assessments if needed
  • Gain approval for major projects
  • Interface with Owners and property Manager
  • Meet legal requirements for condo

Condo Board Size and Other Practical Issues

At a minimum there needs to be at least three members on the board. In addition the members of the board from a practical perspective need to hold the positions of President, Treasure and Secretary. The board members hold their positions for at least one year. They often will rotate through the positions if they are on the board for longer periods. Some condo boards will have added members on the boards. They will be there to represent various factions and have a variety of responsibilities on the board. There should always be an odd number on the board so that there is never a stalemate on a vote.

From a practical perspective it is often very difficult to get people to go on the boards of condos. As a result some people will remain on the board for years. This provides for lots of experience and for entrenched positions on various topics. Owners participate. Ensure that their investment is being properly managed. Occasionally new people will offer their services on the board. Elect new board members to replace the board.

Rotation of Board Members

Rotate board members on a regular basis. But never all of the board members at the same time. It is very helpful to have experience on the board. Particularly on large complex properties with a combination of rental units and owner occupied units. These situations represent a more complex arrangement. Sometimes require unique solutions for various issues that manifest themselves between tenants and owners. Often there will be two sets of property managers as well. Which further complicates the situation. One Property manager is responsible for the building and all of the common elements. While the other is responsible for the tenants and the interiors of the rented units.

Condo board members are never paid for their services. However any expenses that they might incur as a result of their duties is usually paid after submitting an expense form covering the cost and explaining what the charges are for. This is a pretty standard procedure with most condo boards.

Text Message Campaign

Text Message CampaignThe basics of setting a text message campaign is really quite simple. The difficult part is capturing all of the data you need to make the campaign successful. Anyone can send a lot of text messages to random numbers. But you should target customers who have expressed some interest in your product or service. Then your text message campaign will be much more successful. It will deliver the results you’re looking for.

The first step is to decide who your target customers actually are. How you will collect their mobile numbers? What products or services they are interested in? Hhow you will track results once you send out your messages to these customers?

Can you confirm someone actually read the message? Can you confirm that they responded to your message and are you able to report on the success of the messaging campaign. These are tough questions to answer, but your management team is going to want to know the answers before they approve future expenditures in this area.

Text Message Campaign – Develop the Message

The second step is to develop the message that will appeal to the most customers while getting the message across to your target audience in a price effective manner. There are numerous companies on the Internet that will provide you with the software capability to send text messages to your customers.

Establishing goals and objectives helps to establish expectations for yourself as well as your management team and is the third step.  They drive budget, they drive staffing and they drive the overall cost of your text messaging campaign. You also compare results against these goals and objectives and explanations regarding any differences in results versus goals and objectives. This is something that your management team will be very interested in reviewing.

Text Message Campaign – Customer List

A customer list that is finalized and developed hopefully from interested customers is probably the best use of your money. This is the fourth and a really critical step in determining your success.

Handling the response is the last step in the process. While this is the kind of problem you want to have, there is no use having a great marketing campaign unless you have the company infrastructure to handle the demand and deal with customers. Keep them happy with a great product and great service and they will keep coming back.

Failing to meet their expectations will drive customers away and give you a black eye with respect to customer service and recurring business. This is the time when your business can become profitable and can drive further campaigns that lead to further success.

For more information concerning text messaging, click here.

Most Important Car Maintenance

Basics of Car MaintenanceThe proper car maintenance of your car is one of the things that will ensure that you always will be safe when driving a car at high speeds as well as on local streets. The majority of accidents occur within 5 miles of a person’s home. Most people will have an accident at one time or another. Make sure that your car is in top shape from a maintenance and safety perspective. It will help you avoid those accidents and protect you from injury. Here is the following list of important things that you should always look for when you are driving your car.

Car maintenance

Check the air pressure of the tires. Glance at the tires whenever you go to get into inside the car. If they look a little low, check the tire pressure with a tire pressure gauge. Pay attention to your tire pressure warning system if you have one in your car.

Check the oil in the engine to make sure it’s at the proper level once per week. change your oil every three months or 5000 kilometers or 3000 miles.

Check all fluid levels including brake line level, power steering fluid level and window washer fluid level. Also any other fluids in your car such as the radiator fluid. Top up if needed with the proper fluid.

Whenever you start your car listen to the cars engine and whether it is making any strange noises. Also when you’re driving your car listen to the noise the car makes as it travels down the road. Listen for anything that is out of the ordinary and different from what you’ve experienced in the past. If you hear something, investigate before you drive your car further or have a mechanic look at it.

Check your lights, headlights, tail lights, signal lights, and your brake lights to make sure that all are in proper working order. You will need someone to observe the lights while you change them in the car, e.g. signal lights, brake lights, etc

Confirm that your license plate is on the car at the front and rear if applicable.

Oil changes

Have the oil changed in your engine at least once every 3000 miles or 5000 km.

Also check your tires for signs of abnormal wear and tear. If one side of the tire is wearing faster than another it could be an indication of front end alignment being required or tired not installed properly. You may want to have this checked out. Your tires should also be rotated and balanced on a regular basis, usually every 12,000 kilometers.

Also have the brakes checked on a regular basis to make sure that there’s sufficient lining on the brake pads. If you ever hear squealing coming from the brakes when the brake is applied, make sure you have your brakes serviced immediately.

Finally have your car fully maintained by a mechanic who verifies all of the things that are in the check list provided by the car manufacturer. This will ensure that your car is well-maintained and safe for your travel. You can never tell when you will need to avoid an accident and making sure that your car is always safe to drive will help to ensure you survive that accident.

Doing these basic things for your car maintenance routine will help ensure that you car lasts longer and avoid emergency break downs that can become very costly.


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