Category: PostNotes

Pillar To Post Newsletter Vol. 20 No. 5


September is Realtor Safety Month. The safety of Realtors is paramount to all of us at Pillar To Post, so this issue of Post Notes reminds brokers, agents and their teams how to stay safe, especially when day-to-day business activities return to normal.

Additional resources:

www.nar.realtor/safety

www.beverlycarterfoundation.org


Showing Empty Properties

Take these smart steps to protect and empower yourself against attack or theft.

  • Be sure to use the lockbox property–key procedure that has been established to improve real estate agent safety so that keys don’t fall into the wrong hands.
  • Show properties before dark. If you must show a property after dark, alert or bring along an associate, turn on all lights as you go through, and don’t lower any shades or draw curtains or blinds.
  • Check in with someone on your team once an hour to let people know where you are.
  • Prepare a scenario so that you can leave, or to encourage someone who makes you uncomfortable to leave. Examples: Your cell phone went off and you have to call your office; you left some important information in your car; another agent with buyers is on his way.
  • When showing a property, always leave the front door unlocked for a quick exit while you and the client are inside. As you enter each room, stand near the door.
  • Lock your purse in the car trunk before you arrive. Carry only nonvaluable business items (except for your cell phone), and do not wear expensive jewelry or watches, or appear to be carrying large sums of money.
  • Park at the curb in front of the property rather than in the driveway. It is much easier to escape in your vehicle if you don’t have to back out of a driveway. And while parked in a driveway another vehicle could purposefully or accidentally trap you.

Top 10 Tips for Personal Safety

  • Touch base. Always let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll return. Arrange for someone from your office to call you to check in.
  • Don’t get lost. Always know the exact address of where you’re going. If you use a navigation app, pull over and stop in a safe place if you’ve made a wrong turn.
  • Sense your surroundings. Is there questionable activity in the area of a property you’re showing? Is anyone loitering? Follow your instincts if you feel you should leave.
  • Don’t go it alone. Have an associate or other colleague host open houses with you.
  • Limit the view. If you’re working late, use window coverings so that you’re not visible to passersby or a potential attacker.
  • Go on the defense. Learn some self-defense skills. Many health clubs, martial arts studios and community colleges offer basic classes.
  • Choose flight over fight. While self-defense is a good idea, the primary goal in any threatening situation is to escape from immediate danger and call for help.
  • Park for protection. Always park in a well-lit, visible location whether you’re parking at your office, an open house, or an empty property.
  • Make calling for help easy. Program important numbers into your cell phone, including your office, roadside assistance and 911.
  • Know who you’re dealing with. Ask for ID, take a photo of a client’s license plate. A criminal won’t be comfortable with this and may be thwarted.

Office Safety Action Plan

Personal safety in the office is important to everyone. Here are some key elements for your office safety action plan.

Initial meeting with clients

Hold the first in-person client meeting in the office rather than at properties, out of doors, or at home. It’s also a good idea to introduce them to a colleague on site.

Client ID

All first-time clients must provide a driver’s license, state ID or other official photo ID. The office will retain a copy of the ID for security purposes. You can download a Client Profile Form at www.beverlycarterfoundation.org.

Distress code

Implement a verbal distress code—a secret word or phrase that can be casually worked into conversation if you feel threatened and the person you are with can overhear your conversation.

Buddy system

If you’re uncomfortable meeting with clients alone request another agent or employee to accompany you.

Privacy first

Keep personal information private. Don’t discuss where you live, or your after-work or vacation plans in front of prospective clients, new colleagues or anyone with whom you’re not comfortable.

Limit access

Make sure all doors other than the main entrance door are secured, and have a clear exit route from the front desk to the door.

Solo security

If you encounter a stranger while working late or alone, say something like “My supervisor will be right with you.” to give the impression you’re not there alone.

Be aware of surroundings

Get to recognize the staff of other nearby businesses and be aware of their schedules. This will benefit everyone.

Sources: NAR, Beverly Carter Foundation


A Note for Our Times

Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is always committed to the health and well-being of our clients. This is especially true during this time of Covid-19. We remain committed to provid-ing the highest quality home inspection while adhering to the strict safety and cleanliness guidelines provided by the CDC and local governments.

  • Inspectors are prepared with PPE to keep everyone safe
  • Home Inspection Reports can be presented virtually or printed on-site
  • Your clients can choose not to attend or only attend the last hour of the home inspection
  • Online and/or contactless payment options available on request

While our processes may have changed, our commitment to ensuring confident home ownership has not. Our job is not complete until you no longer have questions concerning the home you have asked Pillar To Post to inspect.

Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is pleased to provide this information for the safety and well being of Realtors. We hope you find this Special Issue useful for yourself and your team. Please stay safe.


Experience the Pillar To Post Difference. Schedule your next home inspection today!

Pillar To Post Newsletter Vol. 20 No. 4

COVID-19 Update

Pillar To Post is always committed to the health and well-being of our clients and homeowners, as well as our inspectors. This is especially true during this time of Covid-19. We remain highly focused on providing the highest quality home inspection while adhering to the strict safety and cleanliness guide-lines provided by the CDC and local governments.

While our processes may have changed, our commitment to Ensuring Confident Home Ownership has not. Our job is not complete until you no longer have questions concerning the home you have asked Pillar To Post to inspect.


Sunset dandelion closeup

MAINTENANCE TIPS

Your Summer Checklist

A well-maintained home is enjoyable in any season. Tackle a few of these tasks each week and reap the rewards!

Woman in sundress sitting on outdoor patio

OUTDOORS

  • Decks and patios are much more inviting when they’re clean, so get out that pressure washer. Be sure to follow directions to prevent damage.
  • If house or trim paint is peeling, cracked or chipped, repair and repaint now to prevent damage to the underlying materials.
  • Remove window screens and clean them with a soft brush and soapy water. Rinse well and allow to dry in the sun before reinstalling.
  • Repair any holes in the screens or replace the screening material.
  • Have the air conditioning system serviced. Promote good air flow by keeping plants trimmed back from around the condenser unit.
  • Seal cracks in the driveway and walkways.
  • Replace broken sprinkler heads and/or emitters in the irrigation system. Check for proper water coverage and adjust if necessary.

INDOORS

  • Change the rotation of ceiling fans to the summer setting and give the blades a good dusting.
  • Close the chimney flue to keep insects out and cool air in.
  • Clean out the ashes from wood-burning fireplaces and inspect the firebox for cracks or other damage. Scheduling needed repairs in the summer means you won’t be on a waiting list come fall.
  • Hang area rungs over a deck or porch rail to air out.
  • Swap out heavy bedding for lightweight summer fabrics. Have comforters and duvets cleaned before storing them away for the season.
  • Repot houseplants to help promote growth and plant health.


Grilled meat and vegetable kebabs

SUMMER SAFETY

Time To Get Grilling!

Ahh, it’s grilling season. Here are our top tips for a safe (and delicious!) experience.

  1. Keep young children and pets away from the grill during and after cooking. Especially with charcoal grills, the exterior can remain hot long for a long time.
  2. Do not use a grill under an overhang, carport, deck, or in a garage.
  3. Make sure the grill rests on a stable surface and can’t be tipped over. If the grill has lock-ing casters, make sure they’re engaged.
  4. A propane/gas or charcoal grill should not be used indoors.
  5. Periodically check hoses and connections on propane grills. Replace any cracked or brittle hoses before using the grill. Don’t store pro-pane tanks in a garage or other structure at any time.
  6. Start charcoal fires using a chimney starter instead of charcoal lighter fluid. Not only is a chimney starter safer, your meal will taste better.
  7. To help prevent grease fires in a gas/propane grill, remove accumulated grease and residue from drip pans every few uses. Use baking soda, not water, to safely extinguish a grease fire.

Now grab that spatula and a cool drink. You’re all set!



Pillar to Post inspector checking under kitchen sink

INSPECTION INSIGHTS

Should you get a pre-listing home inspection?

In a word, yes! A pre-listing home inspection can uncover previously unknown issues — major and minor — so you’ll have the opportunity to make repairs, updates, or replacements as needed or as you wish. Addressing these issues before the home goes on the market can result in cleaner offers and a better selling price.

Make sure the home inspection is comprehensive and that you’ll get the report immediately upon completion of the inspection. Having this information right away is helpful when deciding on next steps prior to listing your home.

Photos should always be part of a professional report so that full documentation of conditions is available to both you and potential buyers. This is especially important when it comes to issues that are not addressed or repaired prior to sale. Make records available of any repairs or upgrades completed after the inspection so that buyers can see that the work was done.


HOME SMARTS

Controlling Indoor Humidity

High relative humidity (RH) in your home encourages mold growth and dust mites, can make your house smell musty and potentially damage your home and belongings. Here’s what you need to know:

MEASURE IT

Use an inexpensive hygrometer from the hard-ware store to measure humidity levels in several locations. 50% RH is normal for summer; in winter it depends on the outdoor temperature—it may be less than 30% on colder days.

CONTROL IT

If your whole house is humid, it could be due to:

Lack of ventilation. Without fresh air circulation humidity can build up indoors, especially in newer, well-sealed homes. Consult an expert on ventilation.

Oversized air conditioner. Central air is an excellent dehumidifier, but if the system is over-sized for the home, the on-cycles are too short to effectively remove humidity.

A gas-fired appliance that isn’t venting properly. If you suspect this, contact a qualified heating contractor to investigate.

Localized high humidity can be caused by over-cooling a particular area, not using bath-room fans, or basement/crawlspace dampness. Correct these conditions to resolve the problem.

In some cases, a dehumidifier may be the only way to control moisture in a damp area. Be sure to use a unit sized appropriately to the space. An undersized unit will not reduce moisture effectively. But be aware that dehumidifiers use quite a bit of energy, even as much as a small window air conditioner.

Woman reading in bay window

Discover the Pillar To Post Difference. Schedule your next home inspection today!

Pillar To Post Newsletter Vol. 2020 No. 3

COVID-19 Update

During the COVID-19 health emergency, Pillar To Post remains open wherever possible. Our inspectors are taking precautions to help protect the health of agents, customers and their families as well as themselves. Please note that where allowed, we are able to do our home inspections without agents or clients present if they can’t or prefer not to attend. We are here for you!

Escape To Your Backyard

HOME TIME

Escape To Your Backyard

Staying home doesn’t necessarily mean forgoing outdoor activity. Why not turn your backyard, patio or balcony into a space you can really enjoy? Here are some ideas to get you started.

Children in a field of flowers
  • Create an inviting spot to have lunch or dinner. Chairs and a table that can be moved easily let you enjoy your feast in or out of the sun.
  • A patio umbrella not only provides shade, it brings a welcome punch of color to your space. To prevent fading and stains, choose a fabric made specifically for outdoor use. With a huge variety of colors and patterns available you’ll have fun deciding!
  • Try container gardening. Kids will have fun growing cherry tomatoes, snap peas and herbs like chocolate mint or lemon thyme.
  • Flowering plants grown in eye-catching containers soften the space and add visual interest all season long.
  • Add battery-powered string lights for some evening sparkle.

FORM & FUNCTION

FORM & FUNCTION

Spotlight on Skylights

There’s something special about natural light from above. Skylights bring natural light where it would be difficult or impossible to add a window. Some examples:

  • Natural illumination of a stairway
  • Where privacy is required, such as a bathroom
  • Small lots where windows would look directly onto a neighboring home
  • Where an attic has been renovated into a living area

Ventilation – Openable skylights provide natural ventilation. Some fixed skylights also have a venting option. Light Shaft – This type of skylight is used where there is an attic above the space you want to illuminate. The simplest type of light shaft extends straight down from the skylight in the roof. A flared design will let more light in but are a bit more complicated to install. Heat – In warm climates, skylights will add considerable heat to a home especially if they face south or west. But choosing the correct skylight for your climate helps. Your installer should be familiar with the different options and heat ratings available. A low tech solution is a shade for the skylight. Leaks – The difference between a skylight that leaks and one that doesn’t is a good installer! They will know how to choose a quality skylight and how to install it properly so it sheds water. It’s important to know that moisture or stains on the inside could be a leak or could just be condensation. Consult with a professional installer to help determine the best type of skylight for your situation. Then let the sunshine in!


Curb appeal

HOME SENSE

Spring Curb Appeal

Try these tips to help keep your place looking its best this season and beyond!

  1. Keep shrubs and trees trimmed, removing any damaged or dead branches.
  2. Use seasonal accents such as flowering plants, brightly colored planting containers and a fresh doormat to create a welcoming entry for your family.
  3. Paint the front door in a bold accent color for maximum impact.
  4. Update the front door hardware and house numbers to a new style that suits your home.
  5. Make sure window and door trim is in good shape and give it a new coat of paint if needed.
  6. Concrete steps and walkways can be stained to coordinate with your home’s color scheme.
  7. Clean the windows so you can’t miss the sparkle from the street. It really makes a big difference!
Potted flowers

Modern backyard deck with pool
Woman painting the deck

MATERIAL WORLD

All Hands On Deck!

Adding a deck to expand your indoor-outdoor living space? Before you build, it’s important to choose the right decking material for your situation and budget. Pressure Treated Wood This common decking material can last 20 years or more if properly maintained. Typically, pressure treated wood for the deck structure is rougher and less expensive than the higher-quality boards used for the decking surface. These boards look better both right after construction and in the long term. Wood Cedar is a premium decking material with a rich look and feel. It deteriorates slowly even if left untreated. Untreated cedar will naturally turn silvery gray in a short amount of time, so if you that’s not the look you’re after you’ll need to stain it soon after construction. In the Western U.S. redwood is a popular, long-lasting decking option that can weather naturally, but unlike cedar the original color can be restored. Composites Composite decking is more expensive than most hardwoods but requires little to no maintenance beyond cleaning. Popular brands include Trex, AZEC and TruOrganics and typically offer a 25-year warranty. Composite decking is usually very heavy and normally requires a strong support structure. It can also get very hot underfoot, especially darker colors. Most municipalities require a permit to build a deck to help ensure it’s safely designed and built. Be sure to check on local requirement before proceeding. Then sit back, relax and enjoy your new space! Back yard deck with tables and chairs Discover the Pillar To Post Difference. Schedule your next home inspection today!

Pillar To Post Newsletter Vol. 20 No. 2


GOING GREEN

GOING GREEN

Create An Indoor Oasis

Indoor plants are having a renaissance, but there’s no looking back to dusty old macramé hangers from the 1970s. With so many different textures, shapes and colors—yes, even many shades of green!—you’re bound to find specimens to love. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Before you buy the first beauty that catches your eye, make sure you can provide it with the proper conditions. For example, a plant that requires bright light won’t thrive in a dark hallway or a north-facing room.
  • Likewise, some plants prefer low light conditions, and would be unhappy in the sunniest spot in your kitchen.
  • Be diligent about watering, but don’t overdo it. For many plants, too much water is worse than letting it go dry between waterings. Check to see what each plant needs.
  • Experiment with combinations of textures and tones to create additional visual interest.
  • A large, spectacular plant can become a focal point in the right spot.
  • Easy-care succulents are on trend and add textural interest on a table or counter.

Start by shopping at a reputable nursery to see plants up close. And don’t be surprised if you end up building quite the collection.



HOME SENSE

HOME SENSE

Your Spring Checklist

Keeping your home in good shape helps protect your investment. Here are our top tips to get your home ready for spring!

  • Check walkways and patios for cracks and any loose bricks or pavers, and have them repaired.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts of debris.
  • Walk around your property and check for damaged tree limbs and branches. Have a qualified professional address any big problems.
  • Inspect wood, stucco and other types of siding and have any damaged areas repaired and repainted for lasting protection.
  • If you removed window screens for the winter, clean them well before reinstalling.

Spring is almost here, at least on the calendar. Enjoy!



YOUR HEALTHY HOME

YOUR HEALTHY HOME

Protect Your Family From Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is caused by fuel-burning sources such as furnaces, water heaters, stoves generators, and even fireplaces, and can result in illness or death. Take these smart precautions to help prevent a tragedy in your home:

  • Install CO detectors and learn what to do if an alarm activates. This is the most important step you can take!
  • Don’t use your gas stove or oven to heat the home, even temporarily.
  • Never use camp stoves or charcoal grills indoors.
  • Generators must only be used outdoors and kept at least 20 feet away from windows, doors and vents. Do not use a generator in a garage.
  • Make sure furnaces, water heaters, gas dryers, stoves and ovens are properly vented to the outside.
  • Never start a vehicle in a closed garage.
  • Have the chimney swept and inspected annually by a certified professional.

Thousands of people are accidentally poisoned each year by carbon monoxide, and hundreds die. Be proactive and lower the risk to yourself and your loved ones.



DÉCOR MAGIC

DÉCOR MAGIC

Easy Updates For Every Room

Try these ideas to refresh your spaces without a full-on makeover.

LIVING ROOM – Swap out area rugs to add a new punch of color or texture. Replace lampshades with updated shapes and materials for an instant upgrade.

BEDROOMS – Change out bed covers for a new palette or pattern. Think crisp stripes for summer and cozy heathers for the colder months. Upgrade the dresser with new knobs or pulls.

BATHROOMS – A new faucet can update the look of your bathroom instantly. Paint a powder room in a color you’ve always wanted to try—it’s a fun way to experiment without making a big commitment.

KITCHEN – Get the clutter off the counters and corral cooking utensils in a pretty holder by the stove. If your budget allows, replacing cabinet and drawer hardware will upgrade the look and feel of your kitchen.

DINING AREA – Consider painting or re-covering dining chairs to completely change their look. Table linens can be swapped out seasonally and stored without taking up too much space.

PANTRY – If you’re one of the lucky ones with a pantry, take everything out, discard stale or expired products, and reorganize the space to suit your needs. Use bins and baskets keep things organized and easy to reach.



MATERIAL WORLD

MATERIAL WORLD

Q & A: Wood Flooring

Wood flooring has almost universal appeal, and no wonder. It’s attractive, durable, and feels nice underfoot. Here we answer frequently asked questions about wood and wood-look flooring.

What’s the difference between solid hardwood and engineered hardwood?

Basically, solid hardwood is exactly what it sounds like: Pieces of solid wood, generally ¾” thick, and available in a wide range of species, widths, and colors. Solid hardwood can be sanded and refinished many times and will last for decades.

engineered hardwood

Engineered hardwood is also 100% wood, but consists of a veneer of real hardwood fused on top of high-grade plywood. It looks like real wood because it is! It’s easier to install than solid hardwood and can be used in spaces more prone to moisture than solid hardwood. Some engineered hardwood floors can be sanded once or twice, but this is best left to professionals to prevent permanent damage to the veneer.

How about wood laminate lookalikes?

Laminates have a particle board base below a printed image of wood. On top is a layer of thin, clear plastic material to protect the image. Quality varies widely — premium laminate flooring has a far less noticeable repeat pattern of the wood image, creating a better look. They are snapped or glued together to install.

While laminate floors are economical, easy to clean and maintain, they can’t be sanded or refinished.

What’s the best choice for kitchens and baths?

It depends! Engineered hardwood is considered a good option for areas prone to some moisture because the base material is less likely to warp or swell like hardwood or laminate. Solid hardwood has become very popular in kitchens to keep visual continuity with the rest of the home, but it’s important to clean up spills promptly and watch for plumbing leaks.

There are many factors that affect what type of wood flooring to choose. Research your options carefully before making your next flooring investment, and you’ll enjoy your new look for years to come.

Experience the Pillar To Post difference. Schedule your next home inspection today!