Blog

Fall Maintenace

If you follow an annual maintenance checklist in the fall, you will save money in repairs, prevent damage from harsh weather and keep your home looking brand new.

Check your foundation for cracks and repair them. Even a hole the size of a pencil can let in a mouse, not to mention cold air.

– Inspect your roof for missing shingles. If you spot missing shingles, hire a roof professional to make the repairs. It’s so much easier to repair a roof in the fall than in freezing temperatures when roofers charge premium prices.

– Clean your gutters and downspouts and flush them with water. This small task is very most cost-effective in preserving the integrity of your home. If your gutters hold water, the water can freeze and build up, entering your home underneath the shingles. A simple clean will keep the water off your roof and out of your house.

– Caulk any openings: around window and door frames, between the foundation and siding and at points where pipes enter your home. This is another very cost-effective job, keeping valuable heat inside your house and water and wind outside so your home stays comfortable all winter.

– Make sure your decks are fully sealed and protected. If not, freezing water will widen cracks and harsh weather will dry out the wood, creating new cracks. If you see unprotected wood, power wash your decks and apply new sealant.

– Check for peeling paint on trim and siding. If you see peeling paint, scrape and paint those areas so wood remains protected.

– If you see cracks in your driveway, fill them with filler and seal your driveway. Regular driveway maintenance will add years of life to your driveway.

– Take care of your yard: clean out flower beds of all leaf debris and dead branches, plant fall bulbs, mulch any plants that need protection and remove all leaves from your lawn. It’s so much fun to see your yard come to life in the spring if you’ve taken care of it in the fall.

Following this checklist annually will save you many maintenance dollars, add years of life to the respective parts and keep your home looking fresh and new throughout the winter and into the spring.

If you follow an annual maintenance checklist in the fall, you will save money in repairs, prevent damage from harsh weather and keep your home looking brand new.

– Check your foundation for cracks and repair them. Even a hole the size of a pencil can let in a mouse, not to mention cold air.

– Inspect your roof for missing shingles. If you spot missing shingles, hire a roof professional to make the repairs. It’s so much easier to repair a roof in the fall than in freezing temperatures when roofers charge premium prices.

– Clean your gutters and downspouts and flush them with water. This small task is very most cost-effective in preserving the integrity of your home. If your gutters hold water, the water can freeze and build up, entering your home underneath the shingles. A simple clean will keep the water off your roof and out of your house.

– Caulk any openings: around window and door frames, between the foundation and siding and at points where pipes enter your home. This is another very cost-effective job, keeping valuable heat inside your house and water and wind outside so your home stays comfortable all winter.

– Make sure your decks are fully sealed and protected. If not, freezing water will widen cracks and harsh weather will dry out the wood, creating new cracks. If you see unprotected wood, power wash your decks and apply new sealant.

– Check for peeling paint on trim and siding. If you see peeling paint, scrape and paint those areas so wood remains protected.

– If you see cracks in your driveway, fill them with filler and seal your driveway. Regular driveway maintenance will add years of life to your driveway.

– Take care of your yard: clean out flower beds of all leaf debris and dead branches, plant fall bulbs, mulch any plants that need protection and remove all leaves from your lawn. It’s so much fun to see your yard come to life in the spring if you’ve taken care of it in the fall.

Following this checklist annually will save you many maintenance dollars, add years of life to the respective parts and keep your home looking fresh and new throughout the winter and into the spring.

If you follow an annual maintenance checklist in the fall, you will save money in repairs, prevent damage from harsh weather and keep your home looking brand new.

– Check your foundation for cracks and repair them. Even a hole the size of a pencil can let in a mouse, not to mention cold air.

– Inspect your roof for missing shingles. If you spot missing shingles, hire a roof professional to make the repairs. It’s so much easier to repair a roof in the fall than in freezing temperatures when roofers charge premium prices.

– Clean your gutters and downspouts and flush them with water. This small task is very most cost-effective in preserving the integrity of your home. If your gutters hold water, the water can freeze and build up, entering your home underneath the shingles. A simple clean will keep the water off your roof and out of your house.

– Caulk any openings: around window and door frames, between the foundation and siding and at points where pipes enter your home. This is another very cost-effective job, keeping valuable heat inside your house and water and wind outside so your home stays comfortable all winter.

– Make sure your decks are fully sealed and protected. If not, freezing water will widen cracks and harsh weather will dry out the wood, creating new cracks. If you see unprotected wood, power wash your decks and apply new sealant.

– Check for peeling paint on trim and siding. If you see peeling paint, scrape and paint those areas so wood remains protected.

– If you see cracks in your driveway, fill them with filler and seal your driveway. Regular driveway maintenance will add years of life to your driveway.

– Take care of your yard: clean out flower beds of all leaf debris and dead branches, plant fall bulbs, mulch any plants that need protection and remove all leaves from your lawn. It’s so much fun to see your yard come to life in the spring if you’ve taken care of it in the fall.

Garage Doors

Your garage entryway, especially if you enter your home through your garage, should welcome you home every time you arrive. The following tips and information will help you customize your garage door for your taste and lifestyle.

Styles

Choose a style of door that matches the style of your home. Windows in the top panels can add interesting detail to your home as well as light to your garage interior. You can choose plain panels if you like simplicity, or long- or short-raised panels which add depth. You can also use painted panels with contrasting colors on the sloped areas and flat areas of the panels to add drama to your home.

Garage Door Construction

Garage doors are made of either wood or steel. Steel doors can be single, double or triple layers. Single-layered doors, stamped out of a single sheet of steel, are the most economical. Double-layered doors, with a polyurethane core and a layer of steel, offer increased insulation and strength. Triple-layered doors give you the polyurethane core along with an additional interior layer of steel, so it will provide you with the highest levels of durability and insulation.

Insulation

If you heat your garage, you can and should choose an insulated door as there is a great variance in R factors (the ability of a material to maintain heat) in garage doors. One factor to consider is the material, but also consider the seals, both between the panels and at the bottom of the door. In areas of colder winters, such as New England, a gasket seal between the bottom of the door and the outside will preserve heat as well as keep out snow and rain water.

If you have questions about choosing a style or type of door, call Larlin’s Home Improvement. Larlin’s can help you both with a style that will match your home and the door that will best fit your needs and wallet. Garage door installation is simple and can be done in just a few hours – a small job that will dramatically change the look and feel of your home.

Garage Door Openers

What would make you feel more like the ruler of your castle than commanding your garage door to open and let you in? A click-and-go routine is a huge improvement over manually lifting your garage door, starting your car, moving your car out of the garage, getting out of your car and closing the garage door again, especially in inclement weather!

Considerations

– Choose a garage door opener that can handle the weight of your door.
– Look for a quiet door opener if your garage door opens near a bedroom.
– Look for dependability.

Drives

There are three types of drives that open garage doors. Belt drives use a rubber-like drive. They are very quiet and durable. Chain drives are more economical in the short-term, but require more maintenance in the long-term, as there are moving parts and the chain will loosen over time. Screw drives use a long, threaded metal rod to lift the garage door. Although not as quiet as a belt drive, a screw drive is quieter and more durable than a chain drive. If you enter your home primarily through your garage, make sure that you have access to your home in case of an electrical outage!

Safety Matters

All garage doors installed nowadays come with an infrared operating mechanism that prevents a door from closing when an object (such as your car) or a person interferes with the door’s path. Make sure your garage door and opener are professionally installed so that this very important feature works. Check once a month to ensure that interference of the infrared light beam will stop the door from closing.

Security

You can choose garage door openers with additional security features, such as one with “rolling code” technology. With this technology, each time you use your garage door opener, you select a randomly-generated code, making it virtually impossible to duplicate your code.

As a franchisee of Garage Experts, Larlin’s gives you a lifetime warranty with all garage door openers. Larlin’s also offers you top safety and security features. Call them to ensure maximum ease of operation, dependability and safety with your garage door installation.

Mold And Mildew Problems

Mildew and mold can occur inside and outside on all types of buildings, whether residential, commercial or municipal. The causes include flooding after a storm, a season of high rain and humidity levels, shady and damp locations, and leaking pipes or spills.

On exterior surfaces, mold and mildew spots can make a home appear dirty and in need of paint. In addition, mold and mildew can affect the interior of your home in hidden areas, which need to be detected and eliminated for health purposes. For example, on the back of wallpaper, inside closed cabinets, near exterior doors, on window surfaces and on roofs.

It’s important to consult a home improvement professional who can correctly identify mold and mildew and apply the appropriate cleaners to kill the mold and mildew before applying paint to a surface, In addition, depending on the specific cause and location of the problem, it may be necessary to apply caulking or other types of sealers to prevent reoccurrence of the mold and mildew.

Potential health-associated symptoms of mold exposure include respiratory problems, asthma and allergic reactions. Thus, it’s important to eliminate mold and mold spores inside the home by professionally cleaning the affected areas and irradiating the source of the moisture.

Once the source of the moisture has been identified and corrected, it may be necessary to take additional measures to maintain a mildew/mold-free environment. Such measures may include increasing ventilation in a kitchen, bathroom or basement, using a dehumidifier, installing an exhaust fan or adding insulation. By consulting an expert, you will receive the correct advice to ensure that the problem will not only be eliminated for the short term, but will not return for the long term.

Mold can grow on a variety of surfaces including wood, carpeting, paper, food and more.

In people who already have asthma, the presence of mold has been found to trigger asthma attacks. Therefore, an individual with asthma should avoid exposure to molds. When excess moisture exists in a home, there is cause for concern about indoor air quality, since excess moisture provides an ideal breeding ground for the presence of microorganisms; that is, mold spores.

The medical reactions to mold exposure may vary from one individual to another. Some people are more sensitive to mold than others. If a person is sensitive to mold but does not actually have asthma, exposure can cause nasal congestions, coughing, throat irritation, headache, sneezing, wheezing itching and redness of the skin or eye irritation. More severe reactions may includes shortness of breath or fever. A person who has been diagnosed with chronic lung disease could develop obstructive lung disease or an actual mold infection of the lungs if exposed to mold.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “one-third to one-half of all structures have damp conditions that may encourage the development of pollutants such as mold and bacteria, which can cause allergic reactions – including asthma – and spread infectious diseases.” And they have further determined that “moisture control is the key to mold control.”

Therefore, the inspection of your home for signs of mold, moisture, leaks or spills is considered of key importance by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and they recommend that the source of a water problem should be fixed and that prevention measures should be taken to eliminate the potential for growth of mold.

To obtain a professional consultation concerning the identification, remediation and prevention of a mildew or mold problem, you may contact Larry Grenier of Larlins Home Improvement at 203-387-0482 or larry.larlins@gmail.com.

Insurance Claims RCV vs ACV

When you file a claim, you will receive an estimate from the claims adjuster of your carrier to bring the property back to the condition it was previous to the loss. You will also receive an estimate to return lost items to you in the condition they were before the loss as well.

This is the ” standard” of insurance practices. Within this, there are two methods of compensating you to bring you to a ” pre-loss condition” . One is to pay you Replacement Cost Value (RCV) and the second is to pay you Actual Cash Value (ACV). What’s the difference between the two? A nasty little insurance word called depreciation.

Almost everything loses value over time. We take advantage of this when we depreciate property at tax time. It also comes to bite us when we file a claim and the insurance company takes advantage of this. Though the ” real estate” itself may actually appreciate – the building components used to construct the building are deteriorating from age and thus lose value a.k.a. depreciate. The same thing happens to contents within the building – for landlords this is mostly appliances.

When your adjuster comes out to settle your claim, they will prepare an estimate of damages and an estimate of value of your contents, then deduct your deductible and deduct the value of depreciation. Depreciation value is often determined by the Property Loss Research Bureau – a third party organization that performs all research related to insurance claims and loss. Typically insurance companies follow their standards.

Here’s where the important part comes in. If you have an ACV policy, you get your check and that’s it. Once depreciation is deducted and you get the actual cash value the claim is settled. You have to come up with the actual amount to do repairs on the property and replace contents. This can be hard as in my experience when I was adjusting – many landlords often have older properties because they often cashflow better than the newer ones. Also, you would be surprised how quickly some contents items depreciate in value…. This leads to greater depreciation and thus a greater amount of cash the investor has to come up with out of pocket to do repairs or replace contents.

However, if you have an RCV policy – you’re in a much stronger position. In an RCV policy, you typically get your actual cash value check when the adjuster first comes out….then you get another check that covers the difference between ACV and RCV after your contractor completes repairs on the property. I have seen RCV checks in excess of $20,000.00 so this is not something to take lightly.

That being said, most landlord policies I have seen are RCV on the actual building and ACV on contents, outbuildings (including detached garages) and fences. This seems to be the best compromise of coverage and cost of insurance for most investors as they can get the RCV coverage on what’s most important and contents are more easily replaced at a lower cost. However, there are occasional insurance policies out there that are ACV on buildings. Consider this a warning of what could happen should you have this kind of policy and suffer a catastrophic loss to your building.

Mold

MOLD REMEDIATION

In a market with many foreclosures, home buyers see more and moremoldy houses on the market. During the foreclosure process, a bankwill typically turn off the water, electricity and gas services tosave money. If the house has depended on a sump pump to keep it dry,water could fill the basement and even rise as high as the firstfloor!

You will see a similar problem when a house is not winterized; pipeswill freeze and burst, allowing water to pour into the house. Withouta source of heat to dry up the water, condensation will form on and inthe walls and stay there – a prime growing condition for mold. Withina few months, mold will appear on the drywall and on the wood insidethe walls. Many buyers will see mold or smell it and walk away fromthe house, if they don’t run from it. They’ve heard stories of blackmold and related health problems and don’t want anything to do withit.

But this could be good news for you. If you’re a rehabber, mold shouldmake you very happy. In fact, you can get very excited about a housewith mold. Why? Because most buyers stay away from a house with mold,you can often get deep discounts on moldy homes. Also, mold isn’t asdifficult to remediate as you might think.

Here’s why

1. Mold is easy to kill. Once the source of moisture is gone, a simplesolution of chlorine bleach will destroy mold and prevent it fromre-appearing.
2. Mold is rarely toxic.

If the area affected by moisture is small, less than ten square feet,you can repair the damage quite easily with these steps.

1. Repair the source of moisture.
2. Remove all moldy porous materials: drywall, carpet, wall paper.
3. Make sure there is no “hidden mold.” Check inside the walls ofareas that have been wet as well as under linoleum.
4. Remove all warped wooden floor boards.
5. Treat all affected wood with wood floor cleaner.
6. Damp wipe all non-porous surfaces with a solution of water anddetergent or water and chlorine bleach.
7. Replace materials you’ve taken away.

When mold is extensive or toxic, either hire a professional to containand remediate the moldy area, or research safety methods to protectyour health while you do the work. These methods include containment,breathing masks and wet vacuum cleaning.

For further questions about mold or a free estimate on repairing amold problem, contact Larry at ( 203 ) 387-0482

The Handyman

A man walks into a building site’s foreman’s office. He says “The sign outside says you need a handyman.”

“That’s right,” replys the foreman.

“Can you lay bricks?”

“No, I can’t do that.”

“Can you mix concrete?”

“No, never done that.”

“Know any plumbing?”

“Not really.”

“Are you an electrician?”

“No.”

“Well,” says the puzzled foreman, “You can’t do much, so what makes you so damned handy then?”

“I only live around the corner.”

Should You Always Hire From The Cheapest Quote?

Most contractors can tell your stories of the times they’ve repaired other contractors’ shoddy work. The last thing you want when remodeling your home is completing the same project twice!

If a contractor’s bid is much lower than the other bids you receive, that contractor may employ one or more tricks. They may

order the cheapest materials;cut on labor costs by working hastily, which can often translate into carelessness;hire inexperienced, inexpensive labor orignore a problem when something unexpected comes up.

It may take some checking around to make sure you hire an honest and reliable contractor. But if you want quality work and you want it completed within your time frame, your sleuthing will pay off. These tips will help you find the best contractor for the job:

  1. Set up appointments with at least three contractors and ask for quotes that itemize labor and materials.
  2. Ask for references and contact these references. Ask them if they were satisfied and if the contractor completed the job on time.
  3. Check the Better Business Bureau for reports from other customers. Sometimes even the best contractors receive complaints, so if you do find a complaint, find out if the contractor resolved it.
  4. Ask for the type of insurance the contractor holds and the name of the carrier. Verify whether the policy is sufficient and current.Ask to see the contractor’s license.
  5. Have the contractors give you their quotes in writing.

Your detective work will reward you when your contractorcompletes your home remodel project on time, within budget and to your satisfaction.

Minor Home Repairs or Installations

Often, minor home repairs that are needed are left undone because of lack of time or skill on the part of the homeowner. And although the homeowner gets used to living with things that need to be repaired or installed, frequently, with wear and tear over time, these small projects become large if they are left unattended.

Where to Start . . .

A good place to begin is to walk around your home, room by room, with a pad and pen, and list every small item that needs repair or updating. This list is commonly called a “Honey-Do-List”. The name originated from wives making lists for their husbands who they called “Honey”. But in today’s busy lifestyles, most husbands don’t have the time to get to the repairs.

The next thing to do is to find the right contractor to take on the “Honey-Do-List” for you. The right contractor will be a person with a variety of skills, both indoor and outdoor, and many years of experience.

Examples . . .

The types of projects that wind up on a “Honey-Do-List” may include any of the following examples, or others that may be particular to your unique home.

• Replace old worn doorknobs with new doorknobs

• Install kitty or doggie door

• Replace old worn door hinges with new door hinges

• Install smoke alarms

• Install chandelier

• Install recessed lighting

• Install track lighting

• Replace old kitchen cabinet handles with new handles

• Replace broken window glass

• Paint wood trim, doors, walls and ceilings

• Repair broken slats in louvered doors

• Install bathroom medicine cabinet

• Install bathroom vanity

• Install bathroom or kitchen countertop

• Repair or replace rotted windows or trim around windows

• Install banister on stairway

• Install or repair exterior fencing

• Clean or re-stain exterior decks or porches

• Hang mirror and pictures on walls

• Build shelves in closets

• Install new sink

• Install new faucets or shower heads

• Install storm door

• Repair wooden decks and walkways

• Refinish flooring

• Replace cracked tile

• Caulk leaking tiles in shower and tub

• Install hardwood flooring

• Install ceiling fan

• Install backsplash in kitchen and bathroom

• Refinish fireplace trim

• Power wash exterior of house and deck

Setting Your Priorities . . .

If your “Honey-Do-List” is lengthy, it’s important to go over it carefully to determine which items need immediate attention and which items can be scheduled for the future. And be sure to discuss your list with your contractor, explaining any details that are important to you, and obtaining cost estimates for the work to be done. The right contractor will possess the skill and experience to complete all the items on your “Honey-Do-List” in an organized and efficient manner. So start now before the small projects become large because they were left unattended.