DIY Skills For the Real World – How to Equip Your Kids for the Future

When we think of DIY projects, we often jump to visions of electrical outlets, miter saws and plumbing wrenches. But we forget that Doing-It-Yourself is about life skills and problem solving – the ability to live in a home and manage the little day-to-day things with confidence and ease. Do you remember who taught you to hammer a nail or plunge a toilet? Well, there is no APP for that! Despite modern automation, our kids need to know some basic home care. It is our job as parents to teach them to be self-reliant, so let’s roll up our sleeves and make some DIY-ers.

Here are some common teachable moments to empower your kids. Teach them something at every stage of development to create independent, safe, and capable young adults.


• Teach them home safety: respect for electrical outlets, stove, fireplace, etc.

• Teach them about 911 and when to call

• Let them help you put together that “assembly required” furniture item

• Let them wear safety glasses and be a part of the action, handing you tools

• Buy them their own set of kid’s tools (remember the Fischer-Price workbench from the 70’s)

• Ask them how they think things work or are put together (get them thinking outside the box)

• Let them play in the box, big appliance boxes – support imaginary play and problem solving

School Age Children

• Show them how to drive a nail – give them partially started nails on a board and let them at it!

• Show them how to drive a screw – explain Phillips head vs. slotted, and let them drive screws into scraps of drywall or soft piece of pine for practice

• Give them various pieces of PVC pipe and see what they can create with duct tape

• When you are making home repairs, tell them what and how you are doing it

• Teach them some basic cooking/kitchen safety: no metal in microwave, no plastic or paper in toaster oven, no stove use without supervision, safe ways to cut/prepare/store food

• Caution them about water and electricity hazards


• Teach teens the basics of painting, repairs, yard work, unclogging drains, car care, etc.

• When leaving tweens and teens home alone for the first time, teach them about home safety: where the water shut off valves are, what to do if they smell gas or fire, what to do if power fails

• Teach older teens to check for a tripped circuit breaker or internet modem and how to reset

• Teach them fire/carbon monoxide safety and evacuation plans – they are often watching younger siblings and being prepared will give them more confidence when crisis occurs

Lastly, be an example to your kids. Be a confident, capable homeowner who follows home safety guidelines, wears personal safety gear and asks for professional help when in over your head. If you teach them while they are young, you won’t have to look after your home and their home 20 years from now!

Source by Beth Ann Allen

Where to Start When You Need a New Roof

Many homeowners will face a point in their lives when they need to replace their roof. The thought of having a new roofing system installed can be quite overwhelming at first, especially for those who like to do months of research before committing to any home improvement project or investment.

However, you can ease the stress of organizing a plan to replace your existing roof by following 3 easy steps. Mostly, it is important to choose a licensed and experienced company to help guide you through the process. Continue reading to learn which 3 steps to take toward replacing your roof with a new one.

1) The Roof Inspection

After you choose a quality roofing company to do business with, they will start the entire process with a full-service roof inspection. During this inspection, the contractors will be closely examining and assessing the condition of all roofing components, including the gutters, gutter screens, downspouts, flashings, skylights (if you have any), vents, and more. They will have their eyes open for storm damages, weakened or vulnerable spots, cracks, holes, water leaks, and more. They will even inspect all areas of the siding.

At the conclusions of your home’s inspection, the contractors will sit down with you to discuss their findings and propose a range of options. Often times, companies will take photos to show clients the damages they find. If you choose to move forward with their services, you will finish this step by signing an agreement that allows them to get to work, as well as, authorizes them to assist you with your insurance claim.

2) The Insurance Claim

For roofing systems with storm damage, you will need to contact your insurance company to file a claim. The insurance company will schedule a time for an adjuster to come to your home and perform an inspection of their own. Once the degree of storm damage is agreed upon by both contractor and adjuster, an estimate for the cost of repairs is finalized. From there, it takes anywhere from 2 to 3 weeks to receive literature in the mail regarding the estimate and agreement, as well as, the first of two payments.

For those with mortgages, it is common for the mortgage company’s name to be on the insurance check too. If this happens, you will need them to endorse the check, as well as yourself, before it can be deposited into your account. If rising costs occur during the roof repair or replacement process, either from missing something during the inspection or unexpected labor and material needs, you may need to file what is called a supplemental claim with your insurance company.

3) The Renovations

The final step following the inspection and insurance claim process is the actual renovations. A roofing company generally provides homeowners with a checklist of what to expect during the process, including time lines, landscape protection, the construction process, and more. A trusted roofing will fix your roof according to manufacturers’ warranty specifications and NRCA standards, and implement a thorough cleanup once the job is complete. They will even provide post-service checkups and warranties.

Source by Sarahbeth Kluzinski

My Rug (Carpet) Shows Vacuum Cleaner Marks – Will it Go Away?

Almost all Cut-Pile (Plush or Saxony) Rugs or Carpets will show vacuum tracks and footprints. It is the inherent nature of this type of rug. This style of rug has fiber bundles that almost stand straight up, and you essentially walk on the tops of the twisted bundles. Cut-Pile rugs in solid colors will tend to show more than a multi-color, but they all will show to some extent. I am always mindful of this when I consult with a client, and I will generally ask them if tracks and footprints bother them. If it does, I will show them another style of rug or carpet.

Texture styles are a little better as each fiber bundle has a kink in the pile that makes it less likely to show, but even this style will still show some marks, mostly in solid colors. If you absolutely hate vacuum marks, choose a different style of Rug. Available in solid and some multi-colors.

Cut-Berber, or Frise a modern (and shorter) cousin to Shag, is great choice due to the fact that the fiber bundles lay over to the side. As you walk on the sides of the fiber bundles instead of the tops of the bundles, these will hardly show vacuum and traffic marks at all. If they begin to flatten in traffic areas, a regular vacuuming will spring the fibers back to life. This style of rug is available in solid and multi-colors.

High-low (Sculptured or cut-and-loop) style rug or carpet was the most popular style from the 1970’s to the 1990’s. The construction of these rugs leaves trails or patterns of looped carpet throughout the cut-pile. This style of rug (or carpet) usually comes in multi-colors. Although this style of carpet does not usually show vacuum trails and foot prints, it is no longer in vogue. Therefor the choices are quite narrow for this style. Over the past few years, most of my clients that choose this style, will choose it for a rental property.

Berber is a looped style rug or carpet. Since the construction of this style of rug is all loops in continuous lines, there is very little chance that it will show vacuum marks and footprints. Looped style rugs and carpets are generally favored in high-traffic areas and no matter what fiber they are made from, they will generally clean very easy. The only fallibility of continuous loops is their tendency to run (like panty-hose) if a loop gets snagged and a pet or the vacuum pulls on it. If your Berber rug gets a snag, be sure to trim it even to the pile or apply some latex adhesive and glue the loop back into place. If you buy a rug with low and tight loops, you will have less trouble with snags.

Although cut-pile rugs and carpets will show vacuum tracks and footprints, they reflect light in such a manner as to give the flooring a very luxurious effect. You can recognize a true plush by the frosted sheen across the tops of the fibers. This luxurious look comes at the cost of footprints and vacuum trails. Most affordable area rugs are machine-made, cut-pile or Plush style. You can decrease the appearance of vacuum trails and footprints by choosing a patterned or multi-color rug. Most high-end rugs are hand-made. Hand-woven rugs will show less trails than hand-knotted rugs. Since the average person usually buys a machine-made rug, I will leave off the virtues of hand-made rugs for another occasion.

Choosing your rug by Style rather than just color and pattern can assure that you will minimize the appearance of vacuum trails and footprints. However, this minor inconvenience is a small price to pay for the luxury and beauty of a true Saxony area rug.

Source by Charles Beason

Painting A House Exterior: 5 Tips For Perfection

When guests arrive at a house, the first thing that they notice is the outside appearance of the house. They will notice if a yard is unkempt, or if a home looks like it is leaning. People even notice when a roof looks dirty.

The first thing that most guests notice is the paint job, though. They see the color, and they notice whether it is chipped and unsightly or looks like it was handled by the professionals.

This is why many homeowners take the exterior paint job on their home so seriously. Follow these tips to guarantee that a home looks picture perfect.

  1. Hire Professional Painters

Professional exterior painters are a hassle free way to guarantee that a home looks it’s best. Hiring exterior painters means that a homeowner can enjoy a professional look without having to lift a finger.

These men know the best colors to use, already have the tools for the job, and they are full of useful tips about how to keep a paint job looking new.

  1. Check Out the Company Before Hiring

One of the biggest mistakes that homeowners make is hiring the cheapest company in town. While this might save money at first, it doesn’t mean that it is a good idea. If they do a bad job, a homeowner may wind up spending more money to hire another company to fix the paint job.

They may also use cheap paint, or inexperienced professional that do not know how to properly paint the outside of a house.

Overall, it can lead to homeowners spending thousands of extra dollars to get a high-quality paint job.

Instead of dealing with that, check out the painting company before hiring them. Ask friends and family members for references, and ask the company if they have references that can be contacted.

  1. Pick a Neutral Color

Exterior painters may be full of advice, but color preference is so diverse among clients that this is usually left up to the clients. Most professional exterior painters will recommend going with a neutral color though.

Neutral colors are more socially acceptable, and they are easy on the eyes. This makes this an ideal choice for residential units, especially if the home is being rented out. Tenants will never balk at the thought of living in a home that is painted a bright color, and a nice shade of light brown will not show dirt as easily as a lighter color, like white.

  1. Don’t Forget the Trim and Doors

Most professional exterior painters will paint the trim when they paint the rest of the house, but the door may be something extra. Often, clients think that everything is included. This could mean that the entire house will look brand new, except for the door.

Before hiring a company, make sure to clarify that the trim and doors will be painted as well, and don’t forget to pick coordinating colors for both of them.

  1. Wash the Surface

It is a well-known fact that paint will not stick as well to a dirty surface. This is why professionals usually wash the walls before applying the first coat.

The thing is, not all paint companies wash the surface as well as they should. Some companies have their own powerwashers that they will use, and other companies simply rinse off the house real quick before they get started on the job.

To make sure that the new paint job lasts as long as it should, homeowners might want to give the house a good power wash before the painting crew arrives to get started on the job.

Painting the outside of a house can turn out beautiful or a disaster. Follow these tips to make sure it turns out beautiful.

Source by Josh Berner

Are Property Taxes Fair?

Property tax is probably the fairest tax collected by municipalities. However, it is also probably the un-fairest tax collected by municipalities.

The state where an individual lives determines how much they pay, which may be higher or lower. An individual’s economic status can also be a factor in how this type of tax impacts their pocketbook.

In fact when it comes to the decision on taxes and renting versus owning, this may be the only time renting is the best option. States collect property taxes on:

  • Land
  • Improvements to land such as additions to property
  • Man made objects that are not stationary structures

It is usually assessed by individual county tax collectors in each state. Land and property are mailed tax payment notices that are the result of appraisals of the property’s value. Notices of assessments can be disputed by contacting the tax collector in the land owner’s county, and the tax bill is typically paid from a homeowner’s escrow amount on their mortgage.

As mentioned, property taxes can disproportionately affect some homeowners. Increases in a state’s tax rate can often double or even triple a homeowner’s tax liability and often leave them with no option but to sale their residence or land.

Critics of this form of taxation have also decried the fact that it does address the situations of some individuals. Although it is ordinarily paid as part of an escrow account, increased property tax means they would have to pay more into escrow.

Senior citizens on a fixed income have been identified as a group sometimes hit hard by taxes on their property. Such individuals may have high taxes due to an increase in the value of their property, yet find them selves unable to pay because of a reduced income during retirement. This mandatory tax, in some cases, does not take into account factors that may impact someone’s ability to pay, such as personal tragedy or acts of nature.

Property tax has also been criticized because of the difference individuals must pay between states. Alabama has the lowest rate at 1.3 percent on property value, while New Hampshire has the largest at 4.9 percent. The average percentage among is somewhere in the range of 2.3 percent.

While Alabama has a tax rate of 1.3, which would seem to make it an attractive location for a home or business owner, someone with property a few feet away in neighboring Georgia would have to pay 2.6 percent, and more than double in Florida with a tax rate of 3.1 percent.

Just how to spend the revenue (or waste it, as is the case with many governments) generated by taxing property values is determined by state legislatures. A state’s legislature also has say over reducing or raising the tax rate along with determining how often it should be collected. Additionally, there may also set limits on how much increase, if any, there can be every year.

Property tax definitely helps states with revenue. But while much needed, property tax can also be a deciding factor in where an individual lives or their ability to retain the American Dream of owning land.

Source by Frank Mather

10 Top Reasons Why I Have to Upgrade My Computer

The rate at which technology is improving is very fast and in the time you get comfortable with the computer hardware you have bought, several new and improved models appear in the market. While some people prefer to keep their computers state of the art, most of us have a ‘If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’ attitude when it comes to upgrading or replacing our computers.

This is a strategy that could prove expensive in the long run. It is always better to upgrade your computer on a regular basis, especially if you have had it for over 2-3 years. Even if your computer has had a largely trouble-free existence, you really need to consider periodic upgrades and here are the reasons why you must dos so:

1. Increase in Processing Speed – This is one place where you really get to notice an improvement in performance. If you are upgrading from a Celeron 433MHz processor to a Pentium 4 1.6GHz, you would really notice the difference in performance!

2. Faster Memory Access – Improvements in CPU speed are usually accompanied by improvements in the speed at which data transfer occurs between the CPU and RAM. This is another area that provides an improvement in performance.

3. Size and Capacity improvements – Technology drives a reduction in component size coupled with an increase in storage capacity. This means that a RAM card or Hard disk of the similar size as the older ones in your computer could have double the capacity!

4. Software Compatibility – Many of the new software packages you may wish to use in order to improve your productivity or entertainment experience may not function well on you old computer. It is better to upgrade your computer to enjoy the benefits of new software fully.

5. Obsolescence of Hardware – As your hardware gets older; getting a replacement will get more difficult once manufacturers begin phasing out the production. With improvement in technology, the older hardware becomes cheaper initially and becomes expensive as supply dries up.

6. Technical Support Issues – Many manufacturers stop providing technical support for older components as they cease production. The older your computer gets, the harder it is to find help in fixing it when it malfunctions.

7. Development of New Hardware – New hardware products appear in the market frequently that revolutionize your computer experience and are based on newly developed technology. The chances of your old computer supporting new devices are very low.

8. Faster Devices – Your old computer may not be in a position to accommodate the speed at which the new devices communicate.

9. New, Fast Communication Protocols – You may not be able to implement newer or faster communication protocols in your old computer because the hardware is unable to support them.

10. Operating System and File Format – Your old hardware may not be able to run newer operating systems and some of the file formats may not be supported.

Source by Pinky Maniri

Cost to Build – Surprise! Hidden Costs to Improve Land Prior to Building Your Home

It’s easy to overlook things when preparing to build a home. The cost of land improvements (utilities) is a good example of that. Land owners are often shocked to find out how much money is needed just to ready their lot for building. Land purchasers should take stock.


Buying a parcel of land to build on requires a bit of homework to avoid unnecessary or unwanted fees. Sometimes it can still be a shot in the dark.


2000 and Counting …


Some two years ago I had people in my office who had a dilemma. They had spent $85,000 for their parcel of land to build on and it didn’t have any access to utilities. Okay, not the end of the world in most cases but, imagine this: they had already drilled a 2000 foot well and still no water!


They knew the area was hit and miss as far as well depths but they figured they would chance it. How would that affect you? Probably not your best strategy unless you’re willing to pay the extra money to gain other advantages that you may greatly value.


Water, Power & Sewer


Livability and resale values are dependent on the three main services of water, power, and sewer. They can be provided by the local government or they can be independently accessed.


It’s easy to figure the cost when provided by the local government agencies and rather nebulous when you go looking for them yourself! And, as far as an overall homebuilding budget goes, you can’t afford to estimate this cost too low. You can easily spend upwards of 5-10% (or more!) of your building budget on self-provided utilities.


Let’s break it down:

  • Water: What would you do in the above scenario? Drill deeper? Drill another well? Sell the lot? Who would buy it now? Certainly a situation you would want to avoid.
  • Power: Another example came with clients who ended up having to spend $80,000 just to bring in power and power poles to their land. This was way more than they imagined when they purchased the land years before.
  • Sewer: If your land is not on the city sewage system you will need to install a septic system. Normally this is not too big of a problem but in certain areas, the system needs to be specifically engineered due to soil percolation problems. This can increase the usual cost by five times or more!

Fore-warned is Fore-armed


No one likes to be the barer of bad news but it is critical that you do your homework before you purchase your building lot. If you own already, thoroughly assess your situation before you get too far in your planning.


Sometimes it’s better to purchase your second choice in land or sell the land you have if it turns out that you can’t build the home you want. Do your homework … make some calls. You’ll be glad you did. And you might even thank me later! 

Source by Mel Inglima

Elements Of A Well Designed And Functional Kitchen

Your kitchen is the most multifunctional room in your house. Of course, you cook in it, and probably eat in it; you store food, wares and utensils; it’s probably where you spend the most time with your family – the family schedule is on the fridge; and when people come over, no matter how much you want them to see the new entertainment centre, they will end up in the kitchen. Even while it is such a popular place, sometimes you just need to pass through quickly because you’re late.

It’s a lot of responsibility for one room to handle. A good kitchen design needs to consider everything that will go on there; it needs to be functionally efficient, comfortable and really good looking too.

There are a number of elements that conspire to make a well-designed, functional kitchen:

Layout – The layout is the map of your kitchen design and, just like a road map, it needs to show where everything is and how you get there. To start, you will need to know how much space you have, not all designs are suitable for all spaces. It will also help to consider your family’s activities – does anyone need to get through with large sports bags? Once you have answered these sorts of questions, there are four basic designs from which to start:

L-shaped – This layout works in small or large spaces and an island can be added for extra counter space.

U-shaped – Better suited for larger spaces, this layout offers lots of counter space within easy reach.

Single Wall – Everything in a row; this works for smaller spaces or an open concept kitchen with an island.

Double Wall or Corridor – Also for small spaces with the ability to pass through easily.

Lighting – Nothing else can change the mood or functionality of a kitchen as quickly as lighting. Wrongly placed and simple tasks become difficult; or well balanced and a dull room becomes an inviting space. There are three basic types of kitchen lighting:

Ambient Lighting – This is the overall light in the room. Kitchens need to be well lit and solid ambient lighting will make sure this is the case at any time of day or night

Task Lighting – Even with good ambient light, sometimes you need more light in certain places to help you see better to prepare food, etc..

Accent lighting – Use accent lighting to highlight certain areas of the kitchen, objects, cabinets, etc..

Cabinetry – It’s just where you keep your stuff, but it’s the dominant feature of your kitchens and – like the kitchen itself – your cabinets must be practical and look great too. A new look for your cabinets does not have to be expensive; they can be re-faced for a fraction of the cost of replacement. The basic decision you need to make, whether you are re-facing or replacing, is the style of cabinet you prefer. Options abound with a variety of wood finishes, glass doors, raised or flat, polyester or plastic laminates and even stainless steel.

Counter-tops – Like cabinets, this is mainly a matter of personal preference, but there are more practical considerations. For instance, granite is very popular and looks great, but it can absorb stains and you need to keep it sealed – and it’s a little more expensive. Ceramic tile does not require sealing, but the surface is uneven. Concrete is a flat surface, but it might crack. So, you need to find out what your choices are, the pros and cons of each and determine which counter-top will work best for you.

Flooring – It’s underfoot, but it should be front of mind. Flooring is an area of kitchen design that is often not given enough consideration. Before choosing the right kitchen floor, consider how you use your kitchen. Those who enjoy long cooking sessions might find ceramic tiles uncomfortable because they are hard and unforgiving on your feet and legs. If your kitchen has high traffic and lots of spills, vinyl tile might not be the best choice because the tiles can lift and dirt can collect between them. Try not to be seduced by looks, but think about your lifestyle and which option will fit it best.

Take the time to carefully consider all your choices and it will pay off in the increased value and enjoyment you will get from your new kitchen!

Source by Mike Digirolamo

Why Are Customers Important? 5 Sources of Value From Customer Relationships

You likely understand that keeping customers is less expensive than getting them. It is. And at least intellectually, you understand how painful attrition. Its negative impact on profitability, even if you can’t measure it. Well worn, well accepted truisms. So, why doesn’t your marketing plan include a CRM strategy? It should. Customer Relationship Marketing is an important and rarely exploited opportunities.

Why are customers important? There are five reasons why loyal customers are an important profit drivers:

  1. Keeping customers, and especially best customers, allows you to recoup your acquisition cost. The longer you keep them the more positive your ROI.
  2. Loyal customers are more likely to buy more things from you. They don’t have to be sold on your product or service. They understand your value proposition. They have a relationship with you so they are more likely to see your marketing. These factors increases revenue and profit, and reduce sales costs.
  3. Loyal customers will pay a higher price. They understand your product and its value. You don’t have to bribe them to buy again. This further improves the profitability of loyal customers.
  4. Experienced customers cost less to service. They know how your product or service works. They need less hand holding, make fewer calls to customer service, and need fewer visits from the sales rep. All this reduces your cost, which improves profitability.
  5. Now here comes the kicker, loyal customers are much more likely to be advocates. They will tell their friends and associates about your product. This brings in more great customers with limited to no acquisition cost.

I first learned about this concept, I call it the profit fan, from Fred Reichheldd’s book, The Loyalty Effect. If you haven’t read it I recommend you do. If you have read it, you should read it again.

To take advantage of the multiplying affect of customers your first step is to identify your best customers. Understand what they see in your product and how they view the category you compete in. Find out what your best customers are worth.

Then develop your customer marketing objectives and strategies. Design it to increase your business’ value to them and their value to your business. Set a budget based on customer lifetime value. Use both to determine the best tactics.

The final step is test, measure, and then test some more. Customer Relationship Marketing isn’t easy. Getting good at it is an iterative process that will, like all worthwhile pursuits, take time. But with patience, the ROI can be spectacular.

Source by James Hipkin

Mice and Rats Are Moving Inside Soon – It’s Time For Your Fall Rodent Pest Control Inspection

As I cleaned out a storage unit a couple days ago I sensed movement in my peripheral vision. I turned my gaze toward the area of motion just in time to spot a long, slender tail disappearing into a hole. The incident alerted me to the fast approaching seasonal invasion of mice and rats.

Soon the rodents will move to their winter residence in homes everywhere. Are you ready?

I haven’t seen the signs of rodent activity in my house yet, and thinking about that I find myself slightly surprised because temperatures lately are colder than normal. I turned my furnace on around two weeks ago. Most years I wait until the end of October or early November before I do that.

With temperatures so far below the usual upper 60s early rodent signs in the house wouldn’t surprise me. A few always seem to find their way inside no matter how many preventative steps I take to block their entry.

You can take action to keep the majority of mice and rats out of your house, though if you live in an area where their numbers are large you’ll still need to deal with a few. Especially if you live next to a field where farmers just harvested their crops. Those little rodent critters have food dropped from the machines to last them a while, but soon that colder weather will drive them into nearby buildings.

Most often you only need concern yourself with invasion from mice.

Walk around your house paying particular attention to the foundation, and look for any openings. Remember that a mouse only needs a small crack to get in. They squeeze through spaces where you wouldn’t think an insect could pass through.

Seal off all those openings you find with metal. Steel wool works fairly well for this. Mice easily chew through softer materials if they sense an opening.

I once turned on my dishwasher and flooded my kitchen floor. After a couple hours of mopping and clean up an inspection revealed a hole in my dishwasher drain hose that a mouse chewed in order to get to the other side of a cabinet wall the hose passed through.

I widened that hole with a jigsaw before replacing the hose just to makes sure I didn’t run into that problem again.

Inside the house always watch for those calling cards that mice leave behind. You know what those are don’t you? They’re the little black droppings with the pointed ends that mice expel from their bodies as waste.

By the way, if those droppings are blunt on the ends you have cockroaches, not mice. Roaches have no sphincter to squeeze the droppings out so the ends won’t have points.

If you find mouse droppings it’s time to catch those little pests before they start multiplying (which doesn’t take long).

Pest control techniques for eliminating rodents include setting traps, putting down glue boards, and/or positioning poison baits. Whichever method you use make sure you place the catch tool near, but not directly on the mouse’s path of travel, they shy away from new items that suddenly appear.

If you use baits remember that after the rodent eats it he’ll run back into his hole, and die inside the wall. That means you’ll suffer through a smell that lasts three days to a week (for mice), longer for a rat.

Rodent control isn’t difficult, and their habits never change. Once you learn those habits, and keep an eye out for rodent signs, you’ll quickly get control of infestations.

The key is to start your mouse and rat pest control inspections early.

Source by Joseph Jackson