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A PSA for homeowners who have significant others…

portrait-loving-couple-smiling-front-their-house-cute-standing-home-laughing-47990268One way to ensure domestic bliss is to share the responsibilities of the adult world. One person might be in charge of paying bills and buying groceries, the other is in charge of home repair and doing the laundry. The problem is that when you get comfortable in your role, eventually you have no idea how to do the other person’s job.

I received a heart-breaking call today from a woman whose husband had recently passed away. She had just discovered a major termite infestation in her laundry room. “He always took care of things like this! I have no idea what to do.” I referred her to a pest control person that I trust and wished her good luck…but it got me thinking. How many other people out there are in the same situation?

If you are the person in your household who is NOT in charge of home repair, there are a few basic things you should familiarize yourself with, such as:
-How to shut off the water to the house if there is a major leak
-How to shut off the electricity to the house
-How to reset a breaker
-How and when to change the air filter

When it comes to the bigger things that require a professional, the best thing you can do is create a file that has information on repair people that have worked on your house in the past. Do you have a trusted plumber, electrician, exterminator? When did they last work for you and what did they do? Having all this information in one place can save some frustration down the road.

Or better yet, swap jobs every so often.

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A solution to an age-old question about old age.

Thanks to modern medicine, we are living longer that our previous generation. While this is a good thing, we are faced with the problem of the best way to care for Mom or Dad in their sunset years. What if they can no longer live on their own but are unwilling to give up their independence? What if you are unable to accommodate an aging parent in your home but are unwilling to put them into a nursing home? These are questions that more and more people are being faced with, and fortunately there are companies that are addressing these issues.
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Cool tips to stay warm

The best way to keep your house toasty in the winter is to make sure that your weatherstripping for your doors and windows are in good shape, and your heating unit is in good working order. But sometimes, that’s not enough. Here are some easy tips for staying warm this winter:

Before you reach for the thermostat, reach for a sweater instead! Or what about that Snuggie your great-aunt gave you last Christmas? Adding clothing indoors is the easiest (and cheapest!) way to feel cozy. Don’t forget about a good pair of house shoes, too! Your energy bills will thank you.
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Close off the vents in unused rooms and shut the door. No need to be heating the guest bedroom or game room when they’re not in use.
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On sunny days, open up the curtains on the windows that receive direct sunlight. Just remember to close them again when the sun goes down to hold the heat in.
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Reverse your ceiling fans so they rotate clockwise. There’s usually a switch on the fan that will reverse the motor. Since warm air rises, this will help push the warm air at the ceiling back down into the living space.
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Switch your regular bed sheets with flannel or jersey knit sheets. These are warmer to the touch, so your bed won’t feel chilly when you get in. Speaking of which, remember in old cartoons, they would show people sleeping in night caps like this?:
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It’s actually a really good idea! OK, maybe not an actual old-timey night cap, but a stocking hat works great!

Area rugs are your friend when it comes to keeping your house warm. The more surface area you can cover on your floor, the better insulated it is.
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And lastly, if possible, move your furniture toward the middle of the room and away from windows.
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If all else fails, just remember those blistering days of summer and know they’ll be back again before you know it!
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Your handy tape measure just got handier!

Every good DIYer out there has a tape measure, but did you know that there are features on it that you may not know about? Take a look at this video for some handy tips:

Now if you want to advance to Expert Mode, see if you can master THESE tricks!

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Is your mind in the gutter?

What’s up with all the rain we’ve been having lately?? Oh, I’m not complaining! Here in Texas, we need all the rain we can get. The only downside to it is that we will be battling more mosquitoes than ever this summer. You’ve heard about all the things you can do to minimize their breeding locations, like making sure there isn’t any standing water around your home. The usual places you look for this kind of thing is birdbaths, kiddie pools, planters, etc. BUT there is one major place that most people overlook! The gutters on your home.
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When we get lots of rain, leaves and other debris gather in the gutters and can stop it up. It’s always a good idea to keep your gutters clean so that they function properly, but they also become the ideal place for mosquitoes to breed. Think about it… standing water + organic material + undisturbed location = mosquitoes!
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So, when it stops raining, go get your ladder and clear your gutters. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it!

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After the inspection…

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OK, picture this scenario: You have found your dream home. You submit an offer on it. It’s accepted and you put a contract on it. You hire an inspector who does a thorough inspection of the home. What’s next?
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Well, since it’s extremely rare for a home to be in perfect condition, you will want to go over the inspector’s report and prioritize his findings. Most real estate contracts have an “opt-out period”–a set amount of time to negotiate repairs, price reductions, or to simply cancel the purchase. This is where things can get a bit tricky. If it’s a great house, chances are there are other buyers interested in it, too. Do you really want to quibble over the fact that the oven light is burned out? Of course not!
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An inspector’s report is not a TO-DO list for the seller; it’s simply a tool to help you make an informed decision once you are aware of all of the house’s issues. If there is a major problem with the foundation, roof, electrical, or plumbing then, by all means, get a quote from a professional for the needed repairs and use that as a place to begin negotiations with the seller.
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If the seller is eager to close, they may agree to do the needed repairs or reduce the price. Just remember–the seller is going to want to do the repairs for the lowest price possible, so you may be better off getting it done yourself so that you know it’s done properly!
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If there are plenty of other people interested in the property, your seller may just tell you that the house is “AS IS” and you’ll have to decide whether or not the house’s deficits are a deal-breaker.

Basically, the message is this: Don’t sweat the small stuff! Yes, your inspector has let your know that the air filters in the house are dirty. The fact that he is so thorough is the hallmark of an excellent inspector…but choose your battles wisely.

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A natural way to keep wasps away

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Have you ever had a backyard barbecue ruined by uninvited guests? I’m not talking about the annoying family that lives across the street, I’m talking about WASPS! If you have an area that seems to be a favorite hangout for these pests, I’ve got a really ingenious solution.
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Take a brown paper bag and stuff it with more paper. Twist the top closed and tape it shut. Then, squash the bag into an oblong, oval shape so that it mimics the shape of a hornet’s nest. Hang this up in the area that you want wasps to stay away from. Wasps are territorial, and if they see an existing nest, they will avoid the area. Pretty cool, right?

Whatever you do, DON’T swat wasps. When you kill a wasp, it will release a pheromone that sends out the call to their wasp brethren. They will then proceed to AVENGE THE DEATH OF THEIR FALLEN COMRADE! This can’t end well.
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