Home Inspection Their Purpose And Process

Are Virtual Inspections in Your Future?

Fast-forward to late March 2020 and the onset of stay-at-home orders in light of the Coronavirus health crisis across most of the country, and that tune changed dramatically.

Keeping Residential Construction on Schedule

Nationwide, nearly 90% of residential construction work has been allowed to continue as an “essential” industry, but delays in getting necessary inspections to maintain progress has been slowed by social distancing and other health-related measures.

Virtual building inspections (VBIs) seemed like a logical solution, but that option was only available to about 4% of builders before the pandemic, according to a recent NAHB survey; since then, another 20% of municipalities have introduced some form of the technology (usually via FaceTime, Zoom, or a similar mobile device app), but that still leaves 75% of the industry waiting for in-person inspections.

had been thinking about offering virtual inspections for a few years and had conducted a couple of test runs of an in-house solution in the months before COVID-19. But when his office was forced by the state to close on March 18

The program uses a mix of relatively low-tech audio-video solutions, such as Microsoft Teams and Google Duo, to allow inspectors to work remotely and communicate effectively with contractors in the field.

Most Common Defects Found in Home Inspections

Nearly 55 percent of homes analyzed across the country had doors that needed adjusting, which could be an indicator of foundation issues, the report showed. More than half—or 54 percent—of the homes lacked exterior caulking and sealant, which could leave the home susceptible to extensive water damage. Furthermore, about 48 percent of homes lacked GFCI protection—this could pose a dangerous electrocution risk to homeowners around water-prone areas like the kitchen or bathroom.

“Home buyers and [real estate professionals] across the country should leverage these insights to better position themselves in the stressful negotiation process,”

for example, buyers may only be given three to five days to complete the inspection period, meaning they may only have 24 hours or less to make a decision. During this period, having clarity and insight into the cost of repairs listed in a home inspection report is critical to avoid leaving money on the table.”

The most expensive home defects—uncovered in 9 to 20 percent of the homes studied—ranged in repair prices from slightly more than $1,000 to less than $10,000.

Transaction Guidance During COVID-19

This is general guidance only. Members should consult their brokers, legal counsel, and government-provided public health information. In addition, check with your MLS for any changes to open house and showing fields, or other temporary rules in place due to local conditions.

In deciding how to address new issues that may come up in your day-to-day business, we urge you to find answers that will ensure first-class services to your clients, while also demonstrating care for the health and well-being of clients, agents, and the greater public welfare in reducing the risk of exposure to and spread of COVID-19.

My seller doesn’t want any showings, what should I do?

A seller generally has control over how their property is shown and has agreed to certain marketing activity in the listing agreement. If the seller desires to prohibit in-person showings, get those instructions in writing and consider an addendum to your listing agreement to extend the listing.

May I limit in-person showings to pre-qualified buyers?

Yes. Both listing and buyer’s agents may ask if a buyer is pre-qualified to purchase and limit showings to qualified buyers. Be sure to ask all buyers for a pre-qualification letter to avoid a potential Fair Housing violation. Keep in mind that it may be difficult for buyers just entering the market to obtain a pre-qualification letter given the current circumstances, as many mortgage companies have been impacted by the pandemic with high volumes of refinancing applications and other operational issues.

May an agent require an individual complete a COVID-19 screening questionnaire before showing an individual a property?

Yes, it is reasonable to screen individuals for COVID-19 prior to showing an individual a property, but be sure to require all individuals to complete the questionnaire to avoid fair housing issues.  Keep in mind that self-reporting may provide limited assurance, as some individuals with the virus are asymptomatic or do not realize they have symptoms. Therefore, even where a COVID-19 screening questionnaire is used, agents should be sure to take additional precautions, and continue to follow the CDC’s recommendations, including social distancing (maintaining a distance of 6 feet or more between individuals), requiring guests to wash their hands or to use an alcohol-based sanitizer immediately upon entry, and removing shoes/covering with booties, to avoid exposure to, and spread of, COVID-19. 

Coronavirus and Appraisers: Your Questions Answered

In response to the growing concerns about COVID-19, commonly referred to as coronavirus, The Appraisal Foundation is providing this assistance to help Appraisers respond to the coronavirus’s potential impact on the profession. Most important is to stay up to date on developments as they are occurring rapidly. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is providing daily, even hourly updates.

My state has declared a lock down for all non-essential services. Are appraisers in my state defined as an a non-essential service or an essential service?

Your state appraisal regulator is in the best position to answer this question. The Appraisal Subcommittee has contact information for all state regulators on its website

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued guidance that recognizes “Residential and commercial real estate services, including settlement services” as being part of the “Essential Critical Infrastructure” workforce

Will the continuing education cycle be extended and will distance education be expanded?

The Appraiser Qualifications Board and the Appraisal Subcommittee are working together to offer relief wherever possible during this unprecedented national emergency.

Appraisal Standards Board

The ASB provides updated guidance on interior inspections during a national health emergency. In addition, the ASB has issued guidance on completing  a desktop  or exterior-only appraisal, but reporting the results using a GSE form designed for an appraisal with an interior and exterior inspection.

How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?

How much does a home inspection cost? According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a typical home inspection costs $300 to $500. In most cases, it’s well worth it for buyers to hire a home inspector.

Home inspections, for you first-time home buyers out there, are a way to vet a home before you buy it. Let’s face it: Buying a home is a huge investment—and you can’t exactly read reviews to get a sense of any problems that might crop up after you’ve plunked down your money for the purchase price.

How much does a home inspection cost?

While the average home inspection costs for a single-family home will generally run $300 to $500, just keep in mind that the exact price will depend on the size of your home, where you live, and what you want inspected

An older home may also cost more to inspect. Or a home inspector may need to spend more time on a house with apparent defects, which may cost you more.

What home inspectors look for

A professional home inspector, certified by the NAHI, is trained to use a home inspection checklist to look at over 1,600 features of your home that can fall into disrepair (who knew there were so many?).

Why Use An Accountant Practice Mergers And Acquisitions Broker

Practical Ways to Create an Accountability Culture in a Company

Accountability is an odd concept. It has been defined as having the responsibility and authority to act and fully accept the natural and logical consequences for the results of those actions. Personal accountability is an admirable trait, one that everyone should strive to attain. But as a leader, or even as a high-functioning member of a team, it is essential to create an accountability culture for individuals and the group as a whole.

While some may attach a negative air to the word accountability, research indicates that holding people accountable for their results has very positive effects: greater accuracy of work, better response to role obligations, more vigilant problem solving, better decision making, more cooperation with co-workers, and higher team satisfaction.

But as it goes with all foundations, there must be a firm structure added in addition to having a complete building. Here are several additional tips to help build an accountability culture in a company:

Set expectations

It is important to set firm, clear, and concise expectations for any group. Accountability will not grow where team members are unsure of the group’s purpose and vision. Teams need to know what is expected of them before they in turn can be expected to be held accountable.

You can set expectations by:

  • Clearly communicating the team’s mission and vision.
  • Emphasizing the urgency and importance of whatever task you have assigned.
  • Laying out the standards that will be upheld throughout the process. Be specific regarding end results, time frames, and expected levels of effort.
  • Clearly and explicitly defining each member’s role and responsibilities.

The clearer initial goals and expectations are, the less time will be spent arguing when someone is held accountable because of ambiguous initial goals.

Invite Commitment

Although you may make these initial conditions and goals clear, it is important to have the team members commit to these standards and expectations. Work with your team to make sure that everyone commits to their role, understanding how it will benefit both the individual and the team. Be sure to put it in writing, too. This will give the commitment a physical representation that cannot be debated.

Accountability grows when this connection is made, and is enhanced when other people are aware of the commitment. Team members are further motivated to accomplish their tasks and will more readily welcome you holding them accountable for their actions or lack thereof.

Measure progress

Measure the progress of team members in alignment with the goals and expectations set out at the beginning. Goals can only be measured when they are quantified. Compare the measured results to the goals to find out where team members need the most improvement.

Provide feedback

After setting clear expectations, committing to set goals, and measuring progress, it is important to provide feedback to team members so that there can be improvement towards the goal. When creating an accountability culture in a company, make sure that the feedback that you do give highlights both the positive things that the team member has done and the areas where they can improve.

Set clear expectations

Accepting responsibility requires clarity in what is expected. Merely saying “complete the project according to the highest standards and as soon as possible” will always be unclear unless you provide specifics.

If you ask five people what “to the highest standards means,” you’ll probably get five different answers. For someone, the highest standard for a project may be defined as delivered with the greatest amount of detail and precision; someone else may find effectiveness and agility more important than perfection. It’s the same for “as soon as possible” — does ASAP mean in an hour, tomorrow, or next week?

Lack of specificity and unclear expectations create accountability gaps. To fill these gaps and reduce ambiguity, try to be as specific as possible. Try the following:

  • Define specific timeframes like “October, 3rd at 5PM your time”
  • State who is responsible for the project
  • Describe what the completed version of the project should look like
  • Provide examples

While a solid workplace culture starts with leadership and their initiative, your whole team is involved.

Discuss your organizational values with every single employee so they feel they’re part of it. Sharing your commitment to a social cause or stopping climate change is one thing, but these values should be a part of your branding, marketing strategy, and your day-to-day company life. That includes how your team works and what activities you commonly pursue.

Getting everyone involved in these common-cause tasks gives them a sense of fulfillment and will have them bragging about how cool their workplace is, turning workers into your most valuable advocates. The old ways of bad companies faking their care for employees no longer works. Future successful organizations need to be fully involved in building sustainable workplace cultures and activities that will support global causes.

Pre-existing work culture can be difficult to change. That’s why it would be best for you to take a systematic approach when it comes to developing it and integrate into your business strategy. This means you’ll need to designate a person who’s going to be responsible for the growth of your workplace culture and keeping it at sane levels.

Accept constructive criticism from your employees

Because merely giving feedback to employees isn’t enough. Maintaining an open and flexible relationship with your employees will make them employees feel comfortable, talking about your performance candidly with you.

As such, you will be able to understand the employee behaviors, spot negative habits, anticipate problems within the team, get to know what they expect from you as their leader. Not being immune to criticism yourself makes this a one-sided situation and discourages the employees from taking feedback seriously. Thus, it can be said that accountable leaders should seek feedback from the employees because feedback creates responsible people.

Consequences:

Most people see consequences and they immediately think of a negative connotation. We overlook that consequences can also be positive. Make results and consequences visible. Talk to your team strategically vs tactically, which is usually done through questions vs. statements. Secondly, for some reason, leaders are the first to let people know when something’s not right or if it’s gone awry. But when things go well, it’s almost as if the success is glossed over. The consequence of that, though, is that you help create a remedial culture. People are only noticed and given attention at weekly team meetings when things don’t go as expected. So work to give equal (or more) weight to what’s gone right. Celebrate!

Rules For Veterinarian Practice Success

What to Expect at Your Puppy’s First Vet Visit

Your Puppy’s First Vet Visit

The best veterinarians have busy schedules, so if you know exactly when you’ll be picking your puppy up, call in advance to get a convenient appointment. Don’t wait until the last minute.

You should also try to visit the clinic before your puppy comes home. Look around and see if you are at ease there, that the support staff seems friendly, and the facility is clean. Most vets will take the time to chat with prospective clients. This can be very helpful because it’s important that you are comfortable enough with this individual to ask questions. You will have lots of them when your new pup comes home and you want someone who will treat your concerns with respect.

Also, find out about the clinic’s after-hours setup. One great truth about life with puppies is that emergencies rarely pop up from 9 to 5. Know what to do in the case your puppy gets an ear infection in the middle of the night, and that includes making plans for transportation to the facility.

What Happens During The First Vet Visit

During your puppy’s first visit, the vet should:

  • Weigh the puppy;
  • Listen to heart and lungs with a stethoscope;
  • Take his temperature (note: pet temperatures are taken rectally);
  • Examine eyes, ears, nose, feet, and genitalia
  • Examine skin and coat;
  • Look at teeth and mouth;
  • Palpate abdomen and lymph nodes;
  • Examine feces (bring a sample) for the presence of worms (most pups have roundworms);
  • Discuss the puppy’s history and any questions you might have about feeding, medical issues, such as worm medications, and future care, such as microchipping, and spaying and neutering;
  • If you are going home with medications or treatments, make sure that you understand when and how they are to be given. Follow directions to the letter, and set up a schedule for follow-up visits and vaccinations.

Remember to bring any paperwork, such as medical records from the breeder or rescue, so the vet can include these in your dog’s file.

When to Take a Puppy to the Vet for the First Time

Many dog shelters and breeders start vet visits for puppies before they release their little ones to new pet parents. You should receive paperwork that clearly states what type of care has already been provided, when that occurred, and when you should schedule your puppy’s next veterinary visit.

But regardless of what the shelter or breeder has already done, it is always a good idea to schedule a new puppy vet visit within a few days of picking up your new canine companion. This will allow the veterinarian to review your pup’s records and quickly provide any overdue care. The doctor will also perform a complete physical examination and perhaps run some laboratory tests to identify any potential health concerns. It’s best to learn about problems as soon as possible before any health guarantees the breeder provides expires.

A typical vet schedule for puppies is for appointments to occur every 3 to 4 weeks starting when puppies are 6 to 8 weeks old and ending when they are 4 or 5 months old. Most puppies start their vaccinations when they are 6 to 8 weeks old. Puppies who receive their first vaccinations when they are older than 4 or 5 months of age can usually be caught up in two visits scheduled 3 to 4 weeks apart. Your veterinarian may adjust this plan based on your puppy’s particular history and needs.

Tips for a Puppy’s First Vet Visit

Now that you know what to expect, here are 9 tips to have a great first puppy vet visit.

Call ahead and schedule an appointment.

I know this seems like a duh, but is overwhelming when you have a new puppy, so take care of this right away. If you live in the Southeast, look for a vet with Southern Vet Partners. When you schedule, share with the receptionist of any special needs your pet has (afraid of other dogs, anxious at the vet, dislikes nail trims, etc), or other issues (lots of scratching, chewing paws, coughing, etc). You can also schedule online.

Write down any questions/concerns you have

Just like when you go to the pediatrician for your kids, it is a good idea to have a running list. Most people forget what their questions are when they arrive, so it is good to have a list at home.

Fill out paperwork prior to arrival

Have your previous vet (if applicable) send over any medical records. If no previous vet, send any paperwork you have, or if not able, bring with you to your appointment. We brought our folder of information about Zelda that we got from her breeder.

Bring puppy food and treats

If it’s close to feeding time, don’t feed at home. Instead bring your puppy’s food and/or favorite treats. They are more accepting to food rewards and distraction when they have their appointment. This is also helpful when going over your pet’s diet with your vet.

Bring anything that will make your pet comfortable

If your puppy has favorite blanket, toys, treats, laser pointer, etc., bring those to help make him or her comfortable.

Before an Appointment

Your vet will need some basic info on your animal pal, especially if you’re bringing him in for the first time. Take notes with you on:

  • The names and doses of all of your pet’s medications
  • The kind of food they eat
  • Their eating and drinking habits
  • Their toilet habits
  • Any recent travel or tick bites
  • Past medical records, including vaccine history
  • Your vet may also want a stool sample. Call ahead and ask. If you have a bird or small animal like a hamster, you might not need to collect one: Chances are your pet will provide one on the way to the appointment or while you’re in the office.

Visits to the vet can be stressful for your buddy. Bring along some of their favorite toys and a blanket. Ask if it’s OK for them to eat before the visit — some health tests require animals to fast beforehand. (Water is OK — you don’t want them to be dehydrated.) If food is OK, you could bring their favorite treats.

Cats, small critters like ferrets and hamsters, and birds should be in carriers when you bring them in. Dogs should at least be on a leash, although small ones may do better in a carrier.

If your pet doesn’t get along well with other animals, let the office staff know. It might be easier for it to wait in your car with you until the vet is ready for the appointment. Call ahead of time to see if the clinic is running on schedule so you don’t end up waiting too long.

Know what your budget is, too. This will help the vet know how extensive a checkup should be. Some people prefer for their pet to get routine bloodwork. Others are fine with the basics, like listening to the animal’s heart and checking their eyes, nose, ears, teeth, and poop. Figure out how much you’re prepared to spend if a test shows that your pet needs treatment.

What can I do to make the first visit a good experience?

The very first visit to the veterinary clinic should not be clinical at all, but rather a fun introduction to a new place. When scheduling your first visit, tell the receptionist that you want to introduce your dog to the veterinary clinic before his medical appointment. Ask if you can drop in when the clinic is least busy so that your dog is not overwhelmed by a multitude of strange dogs and cats, and so the receptionist has time to chat with you.

While in the veterinary clinic, have your dog on a short leash to keep him close to you. Small dogs can be held in your arms, but should still be on a leash in case they manage to jump out of your embrace. You may want to place a nervous dog inside a crate to limit his interaction with other animals and to make him feel secure. You can improve the homey atmosphere of the crate by lining it with a familiar smelling towel or blanket.

With your dog safely under your control, you can focus on making this first hospital experience a fun one. Veterinary staff members should be happy to give you a tour of the hospital, make friends with your dog, and offer a treat to make the first visit pleasant.

You will not see the veterinarian on this drop in so it should only take a few minutes, giving you an opportunity to get a head start on the real visit by setting up your dog’s medical chart. Bring along all medical records including previous immunizations, deworming treatments, heartworm/tick prevention, and medical concerns.

Commercial Scorpion Control Services

Scorpion Identification Guide

What are scorpions?

Scorpions have a segmented body and a long segmented tail that curves up over its body. At the end of its tail is a venom-filled stinger. Scorpions also possess large claws which they use to catch their prey. Their prey is then paralyzed and subdued after being stung by the scorpion’s tail.

Despite having poor vision, scorpions are fierce predators and exceptional hunters. Another interesting fact about scorpions is they give birth to live young. After being born, the young climb onto the mother’s back until the first molt. Scorpions can survive for long periods without food by slowing down their metabolism, but they require a constant water source.

Are scorpions dangerous?

Scorpions are dangerous. While their stings are typically not life-threatening to healthy individuals, they certainly are painful. A scorpion sting can pose bigger problems in small children, the elderly, and those with a compromised immune system. A reaction from a scorpion sting ranges from mild (localized swelling) to severe (anaphylaxis). Avoiding contact with scorpions is important to your health and safety.

Why do I have a scorpion problem?

As predators, scorpions are on the constant search for prey. Scorpions prefer to live in areas with a lot of insect activity. Our yards often provide scorpions with fertile hunting grounds. Most yards have gardens, trees, shrubbery, trash containers, and compost, which provide areas of shelter and food for insects. The more insect activity you have, the more likely there will be scorpions and other predatory pests like spiders to hunt them.

Where will I find scorpions?

Active mainly at night, scorpions hide during the day in sheltered areas that retain moisture. Spaces under rocks and logs, behind tree bark, and under mulch in garden areas are some of their favorite hangouts. If scorpions have moved inside while following their prey or to escape unsuitable weather conditions, they typically move to dark, quiet areas near moisture. Areas under sinks, within hanging clothes or folded towels, or in damp tubs or sinks are all places people may run into scorpions. Scorpions are also good climbers and are often found resting on both interior and exterior walls of a home or outbuilding.

Scorpion Identification & Prevention

What are scorpions?

Scorpions are predatory creatures that belong to the class Arachnida. They have four pairs of legs that end in claws. They also have a pair of large pincers and strong jaws that they use to hunt and hold onto their prey. Their long, segmented tails end with a stinger they use to defend themselves and capture their prey. Scorpions have poor eyesight, and rely on touch and vibrations to navigate.

The most common species of scorpion living throughout is the lesser brown scorpion. The lesser brown scorpion lives a long life, with most living between three and five years.

Are scorpions dangerous?

Scorpions have the potential to be very dangerous to people. Some species have very strong venom that causes serious and life-threatening health risks in people. The good news is the lesser brown scorpion’s venom is not very potent and does not pose a significant health risk to people. However, you should always be careful to avoid lesser brown scorpions as their stings are painful and swelling will develop around the puncture site.

Why do I have a scorpion problem?

The lesser brown scorpion thrives in the warm, tropical climate that Hawaii provides. Any outdoor space has the potential to become a home to scorpions as long as there is plenty of shelter and food. Scorpions feed on a wide variety of creatures, including insects, spiders, other scorpions, and mice. While scorpions mainly live outdoors, they do often find their way into homes, garages, sheds, and other outbuildings while hunting.

Where will I find scorpions?

Outside, lesser brown scorpions live and hide in a variety of places. During the day, these nocturnal creatures hide under boards, trash, rocks, fallen trees, and mulch. They also seek shelter under houses. Scorpions will move into homes and other structures through openings they find in the foundation or exterior walls while hunting, or to escape the heat. They also get in through open doors and windows. Indoors, they hide in crawl spaces, behind walls, in attics, and under sinks in kitchens and bathrooms.

Venomous Pests

What are venomous pests?

Venomous creatures inject their venom into their victims by biting (spiders) or stinging (scorpions). Some of the most common venomous creatures to pose health risks to people are brown recluse spiders, black widow spiders, and bark scorpions.

Bark Scorpions

Bark scorpions are light brown to brownish-yellow in color, with dark, lengthwise bands. Their slender tails are yellow to light brown in color. They also have elongated, thin pinchers.

Black widow spiders

Easily identifiable by an orangish-red “hourglass” marking on the underside of their abdomen, these spiders also have light red or white markings on their abdomen and backs.  They also have round bodies that are shiny black in color.

Brown recluse spiders

These spiders have a “violin-like” pattern found on the top of their bodies, and they have 3 pairs of eyes that are distinctly arranged in a semi-circle.

Are venomous pests dangerous?

Venomous pests are dangerous. Not all venomous pests have venom that is strong enough to cause health concerns for people, but many do, including brown recluse and black widow spiders, and bark scorpions. The venom from black widow spiders affects a person’s nervous system. The severity of symptoms depends on the location of the bite and how much venom is injected. A brown recluse’s venom causes the tissue around the bite to ulcerate.

Why do I have a venomous pest problem?

If you are experiencing a spider or scorpion problem in or around your home, it is because its environment is providing them with comfortable living conditions. Spiders are attracted to properties that offer them plentiful places to live and forage for food. Gardens, wood piles, heavy vegetation, and large populations of insects and other prey can attract venomous pests to properties. Bark scorpions are attracted to trees, walls, and objects with rough surfaces. Once on your property, it is usually only a matter of time until these venomous pests find their way inside while searching for food.

Where are venomous pests commonly found?

Outside, spiders are found living and creating their webs or burrows in gardens, shrubs, bushes, overgrown vegetation, tall grasses, between rocks and stones, and in woodpiles. These environments provide them with safe shelter and plenty of access to food. Spiders and scorpions often find their way inside homes, garages, sheds, and other buildings accidentally while out foraging for food. They may also intentionally enter homes and other buildings to seek a more hospitable habitat. Inside, spiders and scorpions prefer to hide out in dark, quiet places like in the corners of closets, in basements, in boxes, in clothing and shoes, under bedding and furniture, in attics, behind wall voids, in crawl spaces, and underneath sinks. Scorpions can also be found in bathtubs and scaling the walls of dark spaces.

Bark Scorpion

Description:

Generally between ¼” – 3” and light tan in color, this is the most common scorpion in southern.  The venom in this scorpion contains a potent neurotoxin.  It has two slender claws and a tiny black dot above its stinger.

Behavior:

The bark scorpion is an excellent climber.  This scorpion is commonly encountered running up walls or on ceilings in structures.  Some favorite resting areas for this scorpion is under tree bark or palm fronds.  The bark scorpion is nocturnal and is active in year round.  It will feed on many different soft bodied insects and arachnids including other scorpions.  Female scorpions give birth to live scorpions that stay on her back for a short period of time

Control:

A thorough inspection and integrated approach is required for scorpion control.  Scorpions are hardy creatures and pesticide applications only are not likely to eliminate their presence in or around a structure.  Sanitation is a key element in reducing the likelihood of a problem.  Some examples include cleaning up piles of leaves, wood, or other cellulose debris around the foundation of the home

Palm trees should be trimmed regularly and skinned.  Any trees touching the structure must be cut back.  Exclusion is also very important.  Cracks, crevices, gaps, and voids must be sealed off with caulking and fine screening.  Doors need to be tight fitting and vents screened.  The final step is food source reduction, minimizing the amount of general pest insects around the property that scorpions prey on.  When these steps are taken, scorpions are less likely to infest a home or business.

How Do Scorpions Get in the House?

When it comes to pests, scorpions rank high on the list of those to avoid. And although a scorpion’s sting is rarely fatal, it can cause a wide range of reactions. Scorpion control is one of the many services offered

Common Reasons Scorpions Invade Homes

Like most of the critters that prompt homeowners to call for professional pest control, scorpions tend to invade homes in search of food. The best way to prevent them from coming inside is to seal off points of entry. Sometimes, though, these pests hitch a ride in boxes, plants, and other items we bring into our houses. Check all items before bringing them indoors to avoid unpleasant surprises

Popular Points of Entry

Preventing entry in the first place is the best form of scorpion control. The following locations around your home are common ways that scorpions can gain indoor access:

Vents

Wall voids

Gaps under doors

Torn screens

Spaces around windows

Openings around plumbing

Inspect your home for possible scorpion entryways. Replace damaged weather strips, and fill in gaps, cracks, and holes with caulking. Place wire mesh over vents. In addition to providing preventive scorpion control

Other Types of Scorpion Control

There are many other precautions you can take to keep scorpions at bay. Keep your grass short, and avoid having plants or bushes within a couple of feet of your home. Eliminate or move firewood piles, rocks, tree limbs, and other debris or clutter that act as shelter for scorpions. Don’t forget to check your garage, shed, and any other outbuildings that could be harboring scorpion fugitives

What Does Engine Rebuilding Mean

What About Rebuilt Engines?

When shopping online, you might see a “rebuilt” engine available alongside other options. While the price tag is inviting, we advise you to stay away from a rebuilt engine as it’s not the same thing as a reman engine.

Remanufactured engines are built to be as close to new as possible and are rigorously tested to ensure their viability. Rebuilt engines are reconditioned by replacing only the worn or broken parts. Serviceable pieces are then reused if they fit within the manufacturer’s wear limits, and the quality varies from rebuilder to rebuilder.

Also, most engine rebuilders do not go to the same lengths as remanufacturers do in terms of inspection. Checking an engine block for microfractures is something that remanufacturers do, but most rebuilders to not.

Remanufactured: Better than New?

Because of the way remanufactured parts are sourced, they are often a better deal than new parts:

  • Remanufactured engines are built from parts sourced from broken down engines
  • All the parts are carefully inspected before they are used in new assemblies
  • Many of the bearings are replaced in a remanufactured engine, as are seals and other wearables
  • The engine is assembled in the same type of facility that builds new engines
  • When it’s all done, a remanufactured engine comes with a substantial warranty

How to check oil level in the engine?

While most young drivers had been acquainted with the procedure of checking oil level as part of their driving license courses and then the exams, not everyone remembers the individual steps. Each of these steps is important, though.

First of all, put the car on a flat surface. Any inclination, e.g. on the drive to the garage or car body inclination with two wheels on the pavement, may significantly distort the actual result. Also, note that the check should be conducted with a cool engine, e.g. a dozen or so minutes after switching it off. Checking the oil level with a hot engine may be dangerous. What is more, you should wait until the entire oil flows down to the oil sump.

The next step is to take out the measure (commonly referred to as “bayonet”) and carefully wipe it with a cloth or sponge to remove oil. Then insert the bayonet back to the same opening and again slowly take it out to check the position of the oil trace. The measure has two lines marking the minimum and maximum oil levels. It is best when the oil trace is roughly halfway between the lines. And what happens when the oil level comes close to or exceeds one of the lines?

How do You Know if Your Motor is Blown?

While a blown motor means your car is on its last limb – unless you fix it, of course – it’s not always easy to tell when failure has occurred. Thankfully, though, your car will give you some tell-tale signs that it’s time to retire.

Unusual Exhaust

Exhaust is normal. In fact, if your car doesn’t have any exhaust, you should probably be worried! However, if the exhaust is blue, or is a thick white cloud that doesn’t dissipate, then you should consider the fact that your engine has most likely failed.

Noises Inside of the Engine

Your engine is going to make some noise – after all, there are intense chemical reactions happening inside. If your car’s engine is making a loud knocking or rattling sound, though, it’s a sign that something within your engine has broken.

Coolant in the Oil

Oil and coolant aren’t supposed to mix. In fact, both of these are kept in sperate valves that are sealed. If you find these two mixed, then it’s a huge indication of an internal problem, such as a blown engine.

Failure to Start

Your engine not starting can mean a lot of things, but it’s important to not rule out a blown engine. If you’re experiencing any of the other signs, it’s more likely than not that your engine has failed.

What to Look for in Used Engines

Most resellers can provide at least some idea of mileage, service history, and overall condition, but whether you’re digging through eBay and Craigslist ads or picking up a parts car in town, there are some things you need to know about used engines before you take the plunge.

Some engines just aren’t worth it. There’s a reason everyone does an LS swap – it’s trusted. Even if you do a total rebuild at great expense, some used engines have inherent weaknesses or parts are hard to come by.

The rest of the car is important. Inspect bearings, bushings, and overall cosmetics to get an idea of whether the previous owners took care of things. Check for oil weeps and coolant residue on the block and heads and for signs that someone’s been in the engine bay before.

Don’t gamble – do a reseal. Plan on spending weekend and a few hundred dollars to pull the engine, take it apart, and have a look at what’s inside. You get peace of mind from having fresh gaskets, belts, and timing, and you can check out the internals.

Some of these used engines are more common than others, but the only real limitations are your wallet and your imagination. Consider how swaps work though – can you swap a gasoline rig with a diesel engine easily? Can this engine fit in that body? Will this engine or transmission mate together nicely? Are diesel engines a better choice? Ask yourself all these questions before jumping into a complicated swap job! Anyway, without further ado let’s dive in to some of the best used engines available, broken down by country of origin.

Car Problems That Are Not Worth Fixing

Sometimes it’s the driver’s fault; certain people still think that oil changes shouldn’t be mandatory and that a smoking tailpipe isn’t a bad sign. Other times, there is nothing that can be done — like when a deer jumps out in front of the car while you’re cruising at 70 miles per hour and in turn the entire front of your car gets rearranged.

But regardless of whose fault it may be, sometimes the best plan of attack is actually knowing when to surrender. Cars aren’t cheap, but neither are they inexpensive to fix, and knowing when to hang up your hat is half the battle when repairs suddenly seem too overbearing.

Road salt is basically a carcinogen to cars

Older cars in particular tend to rust out faster than most people can say the word “tetanus,” and in areas that get lots of snow this issue is expedited at an alarming rate. Surface corrosion quickly eats into quarter panels and wheel wells, while exhaust systems and fuel tanks get the brunt of the road grime underneath. Certain areas are also very expensive and difficult to repair, so if your car has a rear quarter panel or a large section of severe rust along its frame rails, it might be time to reconsider your daily driver.

Rod knock that wants to blow through your block

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this term, by watching the video here you can get a pretty good idea of what I’m talking about when someone says “rod knock.” Drive a car hard enough, or without fresh fluids in appropriate amounts, and chances are that you will eventually encounter this issue, as connecting rod bolts and bearings wiggle their way toward freedom. Some people may try to ignore the issue by adding additives, which works all the way until the day a piston rod frees itself and goes charging through one end of your block.

The bent frame of shame

If your car gets hit hard enough by another vehicle or you plow into something at speed, chances are that the frame of the car is going to take a beating. Sure, you could take it to a body specialist and cough up ungodly amounts of green, but even then, you aren’t entirely out of the woods. Even though the frame may be back to its original shape, it has been compromised and weakened by the strain that was placed on it during the accident and while getting bent back into shape. Avoid cars with frame damage folks, there’s just nothing good about them.

Electrical gremlins and varmints, oh my!

Newer cars may not be as prone to electrical issues as aging models, but that doesn’t mean that modern automobiles are off the hook in the wiring department. Tracking down electrical issues is a very tedious and expensive venture, but it pales in comparison to what happens when critters decide to make your engine bay their home. Pop the hood of any vehicle, and you’ll see a tasty farm filled with wires. So if for whatever reason a small rodent decides to claim this area as their nesting ground, you’re in for some serious issues. Mice, squirrels, and all manner of vermin have the tendency to gnaw on electrical wires, and even though it may not give them any form of sustenance, it will give you and your bank account a nightmare of a time. Replacing a single wire is one thing. Swapping in multiple sets, well, that’s just asinine.

Blown head gaskets and paychecks

When the gasket that separates the block from the head of an engine goes bad, all kinds of pricey problems come to the surface. Oil and water were never meant to mix, so when a head gasket goes, antifreeze and engine oil bump uglies and an emergency C-section needs to take place to save your “baby.” If this doesn’t happen, a cloud of abnormal smoke will form, and at that point you might as well throw in the towel and start looking for a fresh, low-mileage motor. Putting a new head gasket on is possible — and common — even though it is expensive, but heavens knows what else has gone wrong during the “birthing process.”

Balancing Style And Worth With Your Home Remodeling Costs

Key Measurements for a Dream Laundry Room

Laundry rooms rule. If you have the luxury of space, laundry rooms can be more than places to clean clothes; they can be welcoming, accessible places for more activities, such as caring for pets, sewing, doing DIY projects, wrapping packages, starting seedlings and more.

As with kitchens, there are a number of considerations and dimensions to be aware of during the planning stages for a multipurpose laundry room. Below are several functions you might want to consider and some basics for how to lay everything out

Primary Areas and Functions of Laundry Rooms

1. Entry and prep. If you install a laundry sink, you will probably want to place it where you enter the room and set down the items to be washed. Here you can sort, apply fabric treatments and soak stains if necessary.

2. Washing. It is good to have a countertop where you can place your sorted loads before putting them in the washing machine.

3. Drying. You’ll also want another section of countertop for items that need to be line dried, as well as space to fold dried laundry.

4. Storage and ironing. Following the typical sequence, you then need space to put things in preparation for ironing. (Note that ironing space may be less desirable in this room if you want to watch TV while you iron, or if the dry cleaner does much of your pressing.) Folded ironing boards measure about 14 inches wide, 60 inches long and 3 inches thick (36 by 152 by 7 centimeters).

5. Extras. Of course, some people with large spaces want to use their laundry room as a craft or sewing area, mudroom or dog washing station, or to hide the litter boxes. These are very specific to each of us; planning spaces with a little extra room for these functions lets individual habits dictate their use.

Note: Conversions to metric dimensions are approximately translated from standard U.S. dimensions. Each country can be unique in its standards. Investigate the customs in your locale or work with a design pro before committing to a plan.

Washing Machine and Dryer Configuration

Side by side. Washers and dryers placed side by side are typically designed to fit within 60 inches (152 centimeters) of width, but some manufacturers make more compact machines. If you place front-loading machines side by side, you will have a nice, broad surface on top of them.

If you have a top loader and want folding and work space, you can add counters next to the appliances or elsewhere in the room. It will help to have between 18 and 42 inches (46 and 61 centimeters) of free counter space on either side. The space above the machines can be used for a drying rod set at about 76 inches (193 centimeters) high. Some newer washers and dryers stand taller than a conventional 36-inch-high countertop, which can work to your advantage if you’re tall.

Key Measurements for a Dream Bedroom

We spend more time in bedrooms than in any other room in the house. Even though we are sleeping most of that time, we end and begin our days there. An organized and well-considered space can improve your mood when you need to get to sleep, and get your day off to a good start when you wake.

Planning bedrooms starts with learning standard bed sizes, which one you prefer and which one will work in your plan. Other bedroom furniture comes in all kinds of sizes. Once you determine your room and bed dimensions, you can make good decisions about dressers, chests, benches, chairs, nightstands and so on.

King-Size Beds

King-size beds provide lots of comfort for two people and extra space for those who tend to spread out while sleeping. All beds dominate a room, but the king-size bed especially demands aesthetic attention. They come in two sizes:

Standard, or Eastern, king-size bed: 76 inches wide and 80 inches long

California king: 72 inches wide and 84 inches long

Queen-Size Beds

Goldilocks might have chosen the queen-size bed. Being just right, it is a great size for two people and does not require a larger room, as do king-size beds. Queen-size beds measure 60 inches wide and 80 inches long and can also be found in an 84-inch length. Their scale works with traditional furniture, such as four-poster bed frames.

Full-Size Beds

The full- or double-size bed measures 54 inches wide and 75 inches long and can also be found in an 80-inch length. Full-size beds can be a snug fit for two taller people, so consider moving up to a queen size if you have the space and plan to use it frequently for yourself or guests. Still, the full size is also good for smaller bedrooms.

Inspired Ideas for Your Empty-Nest Makeover

While children are living at home, it can be hard to fathom a life without little ones (or not-so-little ones) underfoot. So when you do have the house to yourself, it may not be at all clear what to do. Should you keep everything as-is, renovate, downsize — or even upsize? Of course there’s no one right answer — but it makes sense to consider this an opportunity to reflect on what you want from this new chapter in your life and allow your reflections to inform your next step.

Cozy Up in a Couple’s Lounge

After their children left home, this couple tapped interior designer to help transform an underused sitting room into a cozy space to play games, read and watch TV. With a big, cushy sectional anchoring the space, good lighting, a soft wool rug underfoot and all of their favorite books and games at hand, this room has become a favorite spot to hang out in the mornings and evenings.

Get Fancy

While it’s certainly true that there are loads of stylish and kid-friendly decor options out there these days, the fact remains that certain modes of decorating just don’t make sense while kids are in the house.

Tackle a Long-Awaited Remodeling Project

Between saving for college and the general busyness that comes with having kids at home, it’s no surprise that plenty of empty nesters see their new situation as an opportunity to finally invest in the renovations they’ve been dreaming of for years

Create a Hub for Family Get-Togethers

wanted enough space to comfortably host their annual seder dinner, which regularly draws more than 20 guests. As recent empty nesters, they decided to do something a bit unusual: They let go of some bedroom and bathroom space and put it into a great room that can easily fit the large group gatherings they love to host.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Kitchen Designer?

If you’re looking to remodel your kitchen, working with a kitchen designer could be well worth the investment. These professionals can bring your remodeling project expertise and ideas that can result in a more beautiful and functional kitchen. But how much does it cost to hire one?

The answer, of course, is that it depends. A designer’s fees can vary based on the scope of your kitchen remodel and the price of materials and design services in your area. To get a sense of the range, we interviewed 13 kitchen designers across the country about what they do and how they charge.

What Do Kitchen Designers Do?

Kitchen designers take a kitchen remodel from the seed of an idea to completion. They:

Create design concepts. A kitchen designer will come up with a vision or design concept for a kitchen that looks, feels and functions right for you. They’ll likely ask about the problems with your existing kitchen as well as how you’d like to use your space. They may want to know who in your home cooks and how often. “If I have a client who uses an oven or a microwave a lot, I want to make sure it’s not on the outskirts of the kitchen,”

Create design plans. Kitchen designers can plan everything about your kitchen, from broad changes like a new layout to details such as where to place an electrical outlet on the island. They create drawings and 3D renderings to give you a realistic picture of how your new kitchen will look.

Confirm a realistic budget. Kitchen designers know the costs of products and materials, as well as the costs to make changes to your kitchen’s layout. When you share your initial budget with them, they can help you gain a realistic sense of what that investment will cover. “The budget is helpful so I’m not overdesigning for their space,”

Key Measurements for the Perfect Garage

Throughout the past century, garage dimensions have remained about 9 to 10 feet wide and 18 to 20 feet long per car, with a single garage door width of 8 feet. The difference in garage dimensions now is that we tend to want more space for storing our stuff along with the car.

It seems that car designers are always enlarging, shrinking and then enlarging their models again to adjust for the latest fashions and technologies, not to mention the price of gas. But there are common parameters that will help you in planning a new garage or remodeling an existing one.

If you have ever scraped your car alongside a garage door frame, you will sympathize with your ancestors, who may have driven even larger cars. Let’s take a look at the dimensions of most garage designs in the U.S. today.

Garage Door Dimensions

Width: Single-car doors begin at 8 feet wide (2.4 meters). You can also get 9-foot-wide doors (2.7 meters), which will lessen the chance of scraping the fenders on the door frame. You will sometimes see doors narrower than this in country club developments, but those are usually for golf cart garages; they can be as narrow as 5 feet (1.5 meters).

Height: The standard garage door height is 7 feet (2.1 meters), but an 8-foot (2.4-meter) height is also available. You can get a custom height for an additional cost.

Tips Concerning Roof Repair For Your Home

How do you repair an emergency roof?

Your roof is your stalwart defender. In the face of adversity—weather, pests, and intruders—it stands strong and protects all that you’ve built and acquired. It’s the first line of defense. But after a while, even the strongest roofing materials require repairs. Today’s roofing systems are vulnerable to stress, unexpected damage, and severe weather. We here in Texas know the curse of a terrible storm all too well. Your roof does, too.

What Qualifies as a Roofing Emergency

Many homeowners feel that a clogged gutter, damaged flashing, or a minor roof leak warrants emergency roofing repair. Often, they don’t. These situations, while surely troublesome, often require nothing more than short-term repairs to really resolve the trouble.

After a serious storm in Texas, damage to your roof that requires emergency roofing repair include:

  • Metal panels or sections of shingles torn off by high winds, with the underlying substrate enduring damage.
  • A tree limb falling on the roof, puncturing the roofing material and decking.
  • A direct lightning hit, with serious burn marks and damage.

Tarping Your Roof

The best option for emergency roofing repair is to tarp your roof in order to prevent further water damage to your home. Usually, this process involves securing a tarp over the damaged section of your roof with the help of a utility knife, measuring tape, a few 2×4’s, a hand saw, a staple gun, and 3 ¼” nails. However, while it might sound easy to carry out this kind of roof leak repair yourself, remember that working on your roof is dangerous, and you should never attempt to finish an emergency roof leak repair on your own. Instead, seek professional help from a qualified contractor.

Though every emergency roofing situation is unique, most tarp coverings will last about 90 days. That said, you should aim to finish your roof leak repair as quickly as possible, since not even the best tarp will protect your home as efficiently as real roofing materials.

Emergency Flat Roof Repair

Emergency flat roof repair is very different from a pitched roof leak repair, and can be executed during a storm. It involves applying a specifically designed sealing compound as a patch over the roofing. The sealing compound should work when wet, and should not interfere with a proper flat roof repair after the storm is over. If you have a flat roof, it’s best to purchase sealing compounds and other necessary products beforehand as a precaution.

Although flat roof repair is safer than working on a pitched roof during nasty weather, remain cautious. Never attempt to patch your roof during a thunder or lightning storm.

Roof Repair After the Storm

Once you’ve finished an emergency roof repair, the next step is to contact a qualified roofer for a permanent fix. Do not attempt a roof leak repair yourself, as the consequences of doing it improperly are too costly and dangerous.

What Is A “Semi-Emergency” Roof Repair Need?

Every leak is serious and calls for immediate attention, but some leaks are more urgent than others. A slow, small leak may call for immediately making an appointment with a roofing contractor but may not need same-day response and a patch job and tarp like full emergencies could require.

The danger of procrastinating on semi-emergencies until they turn into real emergencies is very real. It’s just human nature – you are able to “get by for a while longer”, so you do. The better course of action is to contain the problem while scheduling a roof repair visit as soon as possible.

What Are The Least Urgent Roof Repairs?

Relatively speaking, roof repair needs are among the most urgent (perhaps THE most urgent) on your whole house. But there are some roofing needs that are less urgent than the others.

For example, hail damage would require a quick visit from your home insurance agent and a roof inspection. Then, damaged shingles may need to be replaced because hail impacts weaken their long-term durability. But it’s not usually an emergency need.

Also, if your current roofing is showing signs of its age and is in need of replacement, it doesn’t have to be done tomorrow. But, the sooner you replace old roofing, the sooner you eliminate its inherent risks and gain important benefits like a long warranty, renewed curb appeal, and a more effective water barrier that will stay low-maintenance for years to come.

Checking your roofing for signs of leaking

It makes sense to periodically check flat roofing so that any issues can be spotted and dealt with before they become more serious problems.

Carry out visual inspections regularly, every few weeks to make sure you know your roofing. This way, when things begin to go wrong, you will know. Look for signs of bubbling or cracking in old felt coverings or membranes as this will be a giveaway sign of something going on underneath the roofing. Ponding water on the roof surface is also a sign of potential damage.

Calling in a professional roofer

An emergency roof repair often calls for professional attention, but this can prove costly for homeowners. Often, an emergency call-out incurs an additional fee, as your professional roofer may have to reschedule his current clients and projects to attend. Out-of-hours fees can be even more expensive, so bear this in mind before you call someone out.

Steps to take during an emergency roof leak

During the spring season, heavy rainfall can cause significant damage to your roofing. If your roof shingles blow away and your roof springs a leak, it is important to act fast to stop water damage from spreading to the rest of your home. A contractor that offers emergency roof repair near Bergen County can provide you with storm damage roof repair after a major weather event occurs in your area. By building a relationship with a roofer that offers emergency services, you will know who to call after the next big storm. Let’s take a closer look at some essential steps to take during an emergency roof leak.roof – leak

Minimize Water Damage to the Inside of Your Home

The first step to take when you discover that your roof has sprung an emergency leak is to do the best that you can to minimize the amount of water damage that is occurring on the inside of your home. Once you have identified where the water is leaking, you can use buckets or other receptacles to collect the leaking water.

Determine Where the Damage Has Occurred

Depending on the scope and nature of your roof damage, you may be able to pinpoint where the leak has occurred. Your safety is of the utmost importance, so do not attempt to locate a leak in a roof that has experienced extensive structural damage. If you are able to identify the leak from the ground, you will have a better idea of how to stop the leaking water until help can arrive.

Apply a Tarp to the Damaged Section

In certain cases, you may want to minimize the leak while you are waiting on your roof repair services. A household tarp can be used to temporarily cover up the damaged section of the roof. In order to secure the tarp to the surface of your roof, you can place heavy boards around its perimeter. Once your roofers arrive, they can remove the tarp and start repairing the damaged section of your roof.

Simple Touch-Up Solutions For Your Damaged Interior Painting

How do you hide uneven walls when painting?

Uneven walls can add considerably to the charm of a house or they can drive the owner to distraction.  Which it is depends on the style of interior décor you are trying to achieve.  A modern, minimalist home calls for crisp plaster and smooth paint, to bring light and airiness into the room.  In an old cottage or barn on the other hand, rough textured walls, exposed stonework, beams and cheerful fabrics look cosy and inviting.

Turning Uneven Walls into a Feature

If you want to turn your uneven walls into a feature, or even achieve the ‘cottage’ look in a modern home, try the following:

  • Use textured plaster and apply with a roller or float in broad sweeps for an old-fashioned look.  Textured plasters come in a variety of ‘graininess’, from fine to coarse.
  • For an even more authentic look, add a dash of buttermilk or cream paint to the plaster, and leave the wall unpainted.
  • Alternatively, paint the plastered wall in your chosen shade: Mediterranean colours like bright blue, orange or a dull red can make a feature of one wall or transform a small room, such as a bathroom or a kitchen.

Using Paint Effects to Disguise an Uneven Wall

Disguising unevenness is more economical and less drastic – but you need a little skill with paints.  The easiest way to minimise the effect of uneven plaster is to use paint effects:

  • Repair the biggest cracks and imperfections using filler or plaster
  • Sand the wall using a block and paper or an electric sander.  This is a slow and very dusty job.  Make sure you wear a goggles and a facemask while sanding to protect yourself.
  • When the wall is smooth, wash it down carefully and leave to dry.
  • If the plaster is old and very porous, apply a primer.
  • Paint the wall in your chosen colour, and then apply a lighter shade of the same colour over the top using a sponge, dabbing in a close, irregular pattern.  This works better with a darker base colour.
  • Alternatively, blend shades of grey, yellow, and pink to imitate sandstone.  Shade in shapes of large bricks or blocks with dark grey tones.  If done well, this looks stunning as the backdrop to a sitting or dining room.

Painting Techniques to Hide Flaws in Drywall

Repaired or patched drywall or walls in older homes have scars you can hide by adding textured paint or a faux Tuscan paint finish. Other methods involve adding a secondary glaze coat by color washing, dry brushing, ragging and more. Each of these methods adds at least two colors to the walls to make them appear textured and suede-like or give them an Old World look — while hiding the wall’s defects. Decorative wall painting techniques can actually turn a wall’s flaws into benefits, by helping create an antique and distressed or shabby chic-style look.

Wall Prep

Make needed repairs on the drywall, and sand after the repairs are dry. Wipe down the walls with a moistened cloth to remove drywall dust and any other debris. To hide large imperfections, you may want to add a texture coat of drywall mud to the wall to create a more dramatic effect, but you can also simulate the textured look by using faux painting techniques. Cover baseboards with painter’s tape or remove them altogether, and lay dropcloths to catch paint spills.

Ragged Walls

Hide drywall imperfections and flaws by using the paint ragging technique. After your repairs, add a primer coat to the wall with a roller. When the wall is dry, apply a base coat of, for example, sky blue by roller and then a cloud-white glaze coat ragged onto the walls for a soft cloth-like effect. Once the base coat dries, prepare the glaze mixture and apply it with cheesecloth, a rag or microfiber cloth. Lightly dab paint across the wall with the rag, avoiding too much paint — you want to see the original color through the glaze coat. The ragging technique gives walls a two-toned color density, creating the look of leather or faded, mottled soft cloth on the walls.

Tuscan Faux Finish

The Tuscan faux finish simulates the look of walls in old villas from the Tuscany region of Italy. It’s similar to the rag and dry-brush techniques — once the base coat is dry, add a top coat in a slightly different color to create the look of timeworn stucco. For instance, paint the walls a light warm copper, and add a second coat in a teal brushed on in a crisscross dry-brush technique or applied with a sponge. This color combo gives the wall an aged copper patina look. You can also apply colors in the same family or a muted wheat color overlaid with a sponged pale yellow.

Create texture with old paintbrushes.

Old brushes can add to your existing paint brush or roller work and create a rich texture that hides minor wall flaws like scrapes and chips. In the end, you’ll likely have fun by using your brushes to add extra texture to your wall. Start by gathering different sized brushes from around your house.

  • Wash your brushes so there is no dirt or other debris attached to them.
  • Take your brushes and brush texture in all over your wet paint. Leave enough brush marks so the wall damage blends with your newly created texture.
  • If you need more paint, feel free to use it.
  • Try to complete one small section of wall at a time. For example, paint and texture one 8 foot (2.44 meter) by 10 foot (3 meter) section before moving on to another.

Hang an art piece on a swing arm.

For an even simpler but equally artistic way to cover a thermostat or other infrequently used wall gadget, try hanging an art piece on a swing arm, or hang it from a standard hanger and nudge it out of the way when you need to get at whatever is behind.

Use chalkboard paint.

If a wall has been seriously dented or otherwise damaged, painting over it with a typical eggshell paint won’t help much. The more gloss in a paint finish, the more it will highlight imperfections. On the other hand, matte chalkboard paint gives a great non-glossy texture for hiding blemishes, and writing a fun message on it will further camouflage any dings or dents.

Wall Painting Techniques For Imperfect Walls

Old and damaged walls require special wall painting techniques in order to cover up the surface imperfections – be it loose and cracking plaster or gouged and peeling drywall. Wall flaws can be a real eyesore, but drywall installation or replacement is not the best or only solution available. In fact, the right wall painting techniques offer you a faster, cheaper and easier way to handle the problem, and one of the following 3 options will surely work for your situation.

Fix It Up – With Proper Surface Prep

Even if the walls look really bad to you, chances are they can still be restored and made smooth – don’t underestimate the power of a good, thorough surface preparation. Old and damaged walls can look like new with proper surface preparation

Depending on the extent of the damage (for example, walls with decades of accumulated neglect), some walls may need to be skim coated entirely, to create a new surface.

Cover It Up – With Wall Paint Textures

If your walls are really ugly but you are not married to the idea that they must be flat and smooth, using a textured paint may be a better alternative to skim coating (you’ll still need to patch up deeply gouged spots first but you won’t have to make it perfect). Textured wall paint can camouflage many surface imperfections

With textured wall painting techniques, not only can you hide many surface flaws, but you will also add a decorative value to your home at the same time. And if you’ve seen some wall texture styles and didn’t care much for the look, think again – there are dozens of ways to texture a wall, so no matter what your preferences are, you are bound to find the look you’ll like.

Play It Up – With Faux Painting Techniques

What if you could use those unsightly wall flaws to your advantage? Well, with decorative wall painting techniques, you can! Faux painting finishes can make wall flaws look decorative

With faux painting, you can deliberately highlight and enhance any surface “defects” and turn them into benefits, where they will now look intentional, and play an important part in creating a lived-in, distressed or antique look and feel. And unless you have some major holes in the walls, you don’t even need to do any repairs to the walls, because when incorporated into a faux finish pattern, all the dents, scratches and uneven spots will actually add to the chic and authenticity of the finish. The best techniques for this purpose are those that use at least 2 colors for an effective play on textures: color-washing, lime-washing, glazing, rubbing and sponging.

Why Wedding Couples Should Use Wedding Photographer

Wedding Photography Prices

Wedding photography can be jaw-droppingly expensive. You found your dream photographer, but they come with a hefty price tag. You may be wondering how you can book them, but without emptying your bank account in the process.

WELL, HERE’S THE DEAL…

Knowing all the little details and information about wedding photography prices, will help you make an informed decision and allow you to stay within your budget.

Wedding Photography Prices

The average cost for a wedding photographer from all of these sources was around the between $1380 and $1630 mark. It is recommended to spend about 5-10% of their total budget on their wedding photography. That is a big range but is consistent with the pricing indicated by “Your Perfect Wedding Photographer”

Local Wedding Photographers Prices By Region

Prices vary greatly within local regions for wedding photographers. Your Perfect Wedding Photographer has cited from their 2019-2020 survey some of the differences in regions throughout

I took a closer look at different wedding photographers to get a regional average and found some discrepancies that produced. I looked at different wedding photographers in all of the regions and took an average of each region’s local prices of the photographers that had them listed on their site for all day wedding packages

HOW TO BECOME A SUCCESSFUL WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER

No sugar coating it

In meetings with photographers new to the business, the question I get asked the most is, ‘How do I become a successful wedding photographer?’ I decided to write this to help you succeed in your business. This is based shooting weddings over the last eight years. Perhaps the following will shed some light in a very competitive industry that seems to have gone through a huge creative spurt in the last 15 years. Let’s get on with it, shall we? Feel free to add your comments to the conversation below.

The fast track

The first point to get across is there are no fast tracks to becoming a successful wedding photographer. OK. That’s it! Just kidding. But seriously, I hope you haven’t come here after a google search looking for a quick and easy fix. There isn’t. Still with me? It takes immense time, passion, dedication, self determination and, like any successful business, discipline and perseverance. Some talent is needed no doubt. And this talent has to be nurtured, developed over years. I’m still a work in progress and that is the humbling attitude that I suggest you keep in mind

How do you start shooting weddings for a living?

Just don’t do it for the money. You probably won’t make that much anyway for the first few years. Do it for the love of photography. Yes, once full time, it is a business and you have to make a net profit at the end of the month. But right now, at this moment, how do you get started? How do you know you will like it until you try it?

Second shooting

First. I wouldn’t shoot a wedding without getting some experience. Most likely, the preferred start will be a gradual up-the-ladder approach as a second or third shooter. I do not recommend shooting a wedding without doing this first. I say this with peace and love. I wouldn’t even shoot a friend’s wedding, just because, well, you’re a friend or family member and things could go south. I’ve seen too many situations arise that go horribly wrong on the day or after a wedding. You’ve seen those news stories.

The right attitude

Weddings are high intense and super challenging. Having the right attitude, being courteous, deliver what you promise and then over deliver. It would seem that anyone can shoot a wedding, right? Especially if you just do a quick google search for wedding photographers. It would also seem that almost every guest at a wedding has a camera. Speaking from experience, it would also seem that there is a certain ‘uncle’ with a superior camera to mine. And it has a very very long zoom on it with an equally sized flash gun. Wow, he must be good with the camera set to ‘P’ for professional.

Pointers for Picking the Perfect Wedding Photographer

Wedding preparation is both exciting and full of challenges. You have time-sensitive decisions and investments to make, from choosing the perfect location to agreeing on which vendors to set as your wedding day team. These professionals will be part of many special memories of your wedding day.

One of your most important vendor choices is who will capture the events of your wedding. A friend or relative may own a DSLR camera, but you should hire a professional photographer to ensure the day is properly documented.This simple guide will help you decide how to hire the perfect wedding photographer.

As a professional wedding photographer, I have been interviewed by and have consulted with countless couples preparing for their big day.  I have also interviewed dozens of photographers, both from my own wedding and as a portrait studio manager, and believe I’ve narrowed down the most important factors for great wedding photographers.

Portfolio

An artist’s body of work is your window into their styles, skills, and stories. While looking at the images, you can evaluate each photograph using the same elements the Photographic Exhibitions Committee (PEC) of PPA uses as their “gold standard.” These elements are Impact, Technical Excellence, Creativity, Style, Composition, Presentation, Color Balance, Center of Interest, Lighting, Subject Matter, Technique and Story Telling.

Every photograph can be measured or graded on all twelve elements, but you may want to simplify by picking the most important elements to you and your partner. Score each photograph, and keep track of your highest rated works.

THINGS TO NOTE WHEN SELECTING YOUR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER

Wedding photography has become one of the key highlights to a perfect memory of a couple’s marriage. Everyone’s excited for your marriage and you can’t wait to see your wedding photos. But lets take a step back into the planning stages where deciding on a photographer became the biggest headache to begin with. But freight not for those who just began their wedding planning

PHILOSOPHY

For certain wedding vendors, you really don’t need to care about their philosophy. Wedding photography is not one of those places. Chances are, you’re going to spend more time with your actual day wedding photographer than with your bridesmaids and groomsmen on your wedding day, so you want to make sure they’re someone you’ll click with. The simplest way to start is to sort through the vendor listings of a wedding website or scroll through instagram hashtags to see who vibes with you. Once you’ve found photographers you’re interested in, look at their About pages. Those pages are carefully constructed to give you a sense of who the photographer is and how they work. Look for written philosophies that feel like they just click, and then see if that feeling continues when you meet with the photographer in person or talk to them on the phone

DO YOU LIKE THE PHOTOGRAPHER?

Once you’ve narrowed down photographers whose work you like, and whose philosophy you seem to click with, arrange for a meet up with your photographer. Then, figure out if you LIKE them. If you don’t, please don’t hire them. You spend enough time with your photographer on your wedding day that you should find them generally pleasant at minimum, possible-BFF-forever at maximum. (Only you know how much you care about love-loving them, but make sure you like them.)

LIGHTING SITUATION FOR YOUR WEDDING

Before we get too far into this idea of, “Just hire someone whose work makes you feel happy inside,” let’s have a quick reality check. The easiest wedding to shoot is a wedding in the daytime, with a ceremony under shade and great natural light. If that applies to you, ignore the rest of this paragraph. If, however, you’re getting married in a dark church or an outdoor evening or in a warmly lit ballroom for your wedding reception, it’s really important that you specifically look for a photographer that’s skilled with those lighting environments. Don’t assume that experience equals skill in low lighting. Look for weddings shot in similar lighting environments in your photographer’s portfolio, and ask them specifically how they would handle your particular situation. (Some photographers use external lights for dark receptions, while others may rely on their camera’s ability to see well in the dark.) If you notice that after it gets dark, every wedding photos in the portfolio are processed in black and white, that’s a hint that the photographer may not be super comfortable in darker situations. Don’t get me wrong, but a few black and white photos are totally fine to give some photos the added mood, but every photo in black and white? Red Flag! (Please note: Your wedding in a Dark Lit Church is not going to look like a wedding in a sunlit field, no matter who you hire, so don’t expect magic tricks.)

REVIEWS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Every photographer is going to have their strengths and weaknesses. It’s pretty easy to get a sense of what someone’s strengths are (let’s assume taking stunning photos is one of them). The trick is to get an accurate sense of what a given photographer’s weaknesses are, and then decide what you can live with. You can do this by a robust conversation with a photographer. (Just ask them flat out what their weaknesses are. A professional will tell you. Run away if they say they have none.) Or you can ask to chat with a past client. Here are a variety of weaknesses I’ve observed in various photographers (most of whom are kick-ass people and artists): not super good time managers on the wedding day, slightly socially awkward, slow delivery of photos, slow or poor client communication, not cheerful and outgoing with the couple, don’t take direction well.

Wedding photography tips on wedding shot lists, equipment recommendations, and more.

Wedding photos are only part of the equation.

They call it “The Big Day” for a reason. Weddings require a massive amount of planning. And those logistics don’t just apply to the ceremony, the cake, and the conga line.

“I respect the hell out of wedding photographers,” says editorial and portrait photographer. She doesn’t normally do weddings, but shooting a recent destination wedding gave her a new perspective on the genre. “It’s really tough. You have to embody fashion, documentary, event, portrait — every field of photography — into one day where you have seven hours to create a huge body of work.”

With so much to juggle, from lengthy shot lists and multiple locations to wrangling a large wedding party, and a finite amount of time to get your photos, it’s a tall order for even the best wedding photographers. Putting together a strategy is essential, and that preparation can save you when the best-laid plans fall apart.

Schedule and shot list

With just one day to get it all done, you don’t want to miss a thing. Meeting with the wedding couple in advance to go over the schedule and develop a shot list means you won’t have disappointed clients.

This not only lets her get the day’s schedule down on paper, but it also provides a way to address potentially unrealistic timing. Helping a couple realize they won’t go straight from the ceremony to the reception when they have to greet 300 people in the receiving line will ensure you’re scheduling the proper amount of time to capture the shots that are most important to the bride and groom, or brides and grooms.

How To Pick A General Contractor For New Home Renovation Or Remodeling

Weird things during renovation

Home renovations are just a part of life, right? Not for these cases, where people started digging down or opening walls and found things they would have never imagined.

Witches Potions

It’s said that witch’s bottles full of things such as finger nails, urine and the likes were hidden in the walls of homes to fight off witch’s curses!

Inside the bottle was some urine, finger nail clippings and a small heart shaped piece of leather that was pierced with a nail. Researchers even managed to discover that the urine contained traces of nicotine!

A living board game

Beneath the carpet was a giant monopoly board, and not some artists creation but an actual replica of the board with everything from the Pass GO sign to jail. There were a couple of extras though, can you spot the naked women silhouette – hey, like we said, no judgement

A Mummified Cat?!

We’re not actually the superstitious kind here at STORED, but these findings have got us thinking. Okay, this one isn’t strictly renovation (or not at all) but we couldn’t resist including it!

Renovation Nation: Things to Consider When Making Changes to Your Home

There are a lot of reasons you might buy a home. Maybe you love the kitchen or the feel of the master bathroom. It could be the big backyard that gives your golden retriever a lot of room to run. And the schools could be great as well.

As many great reasons as there are for loving any particular home, they’re almost never perfect. Maybe you’d like to knock out a wall between the living room and kitchen to create a more open floor plan. Maybe it’s a matter of putting a skylight in the bedroom so your kids can sleep under the stars. You might want to redo that ugly, lime green bathroom that’s straight out of the ’70s

Goals

You really need to determine your goals at the onset, because it’s going to drive everything else you do. The first thing to figure out in terms of goal setting is who this is for.

Budget

One of the first remodeling considerations should be what you plan to spend. This determines the scope of the project. It may also help with determining if the renovation is cost effective compared to other options.

Cost of Materials

Once you know how much you want to spend, it’s time to budget in the cost of the materials. The hard part can be getting an accurate estimate of what’s required for the job. How much hardwood or wallpaper will be needed for your particular project?

Tips When Renovating An Older Home

I’m in the renovation business and business is booming. Everyone is renovating, which is one of the reasons it’s so tough to find a good contractor. Consider the age of your house when deciding on kitchen renovations, bathroom renovations, home improvement renovations and house additions.

Asbestos & Home Renovations

Many older homes and buildings today still contain asbestos. When we started demo on the River House on Holmes+Holmes, we realized that there was asbestos. When asbestos fibres are disturbed they get released into the air, and if they’re inhaled they can get trapped in the lungs and cause serious health issues, including cancer.

Get To Know Your Wiring

If you are using about the same amount of electricity as people used in the 40s and 50s, then there may not be any issue with your wiring. But that is rarely the case. Old wiring was designed for different amperage, when people just didn’t use as much electricity. Most insurance companies won’t even insure houses that have knob and tube wiring.

How Can You Tell If The House Has Knob & Tube Wiring?

In older homes, one plug was usually all you got in a bedroom. If there are two or three outlets, you can bet there is old and new wiring patched together.

New plugs installed with new wiring to make it look like the entire wiring was replaced. Sometimes it could be attached to old knob and tube about four inches away inside the wall.

Any time you find surface wiring run along the top of the baseboard and around the door casings, it’s likely you have new patched into old.

Other Problems In Older Homes

When budgeting for a home renovation, I always recommend getting a pre-reno home inspection done. A home inspection can alert you of safety issues prior to starting work, so you can budget appropriately. It will point out deficiencies in your home. Here are some other issues with older homes:

Rusting pipes

Rotting beams

Mould and termites

Water damage

Hazardous framing

Uninsulated walls and ductwork

Undermined foundations

Damaged exteriors, such as cracks in plaster

Smart ways to pay for home renovations

Let us guess: Your dream house has Pinterest-worthy landscaping, a modern kitchen, 2.5 spacious bathrooms, gleaming wood floors, and enough room to give everyone in the family a little privacy when they want it. And, unfortunately, that’s not the home you actually own.

Homeowners are very busy renovating and improving these days, according to a HomeAdvisor survey. The homeowners surveyed had spent an average of more than $6,600 on improvements in the last year, and almost half of them were thinking about doing more.

What’s driving all this home improvement? Part of it is that, with home prices so high, a lot of us are buying places that need work. And with too few homes to choose from, we’re remodeling instead of moving when we want more or better space.

Consider this if you:

Also have a separate emergency fund saved

Can save what you need before repairs become critical

If you had a pile of cash, you probably wouldn’t be reading this post! But still, we have to say it: the best way to pay for a renovation is with cash, so you can keep your overall debt to a minimum. Put yourself on an automated savings schedule and take the opportunity to cultivate that virtue called patience.

Of course, patience can wear thin when core rooms like the kitchen and the bathroom are way past their prime. And waiting until you have cash isn’t always realistic — or even smart. Case in point: don’t delay critical repairs for too long. A leaky roof would fall into this category. Neglect a problem like that, and it might turn into a bigger, more expensive one.

Renovating My First Home — Here’s What I Learned

The first time I walked into the quaint white colonial house with black shutters, I knew it was going to be ours — despite the overgrown landscaping, butter-yellow hardwood floors, and retro pink-and-blue bathroom.

It was going to take a serious amount of work and several large-scale renovations to turn it into our dream home, but we were ready.

PAYING IN CASH CAN PAY OFF

We tried to pay cash whenever possible and ended up getting some great discounts in the process. The savings is real, people!

THINGS WILL GO WRONG, SO BUDGET ACCORDINGLY

This goes for time and money.

For example, we hired a general contractor to do several smaller jobs around the house for a great rate. Then his wife went into labor early, and we had to work around a new baby-dictated schedule. (Ironic, we know.) In the end, it took an extra month to finish the work.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO BARGAIN

Despite all its troubles, our new master bathroom is easily my favorite room. It now has white and gray herringbone marble floors, a spacious double vanity and the biggest shower we could fit. At $15,000, it was also our most expensive room.