Things That Go Bump in the Night

Haunted_house Your haunted house is the prefect place for a Halloween party.  Other parties have to spend lots of money creating the illusions of ghosts and ghouls.  It takes lots of wires, motors, and smoke machines.  You, however, were lucky enough to end up with a truly haunted house.  Sure the spirits keep you up at night, but all your friends say you have the best Halloween parties.  I mean, no one is willing to spend Christmas at your place.  But once a year, October 31st, it's all worth it.

But now, you decided to take a job in Salem and you have to sell your home.  Do you advertise that it's haunted?  Perhaps people will pay a premium for poltergeist.  Or do you paint over the bleeding wall and keep it all a secret? 

I'm not going to tell you what to do, but you should familiarize yourself with the law.  The state of Minnesota requires a nine page disclosure.  In which, it is necessary to disclose any material facts that would affect the normal use and enjoyment of the home by any future buyer.  But you are in luck.  There are a few exceptions to this rule.  And one of them is haunted houses.

Page 9, lines 39-42:  There is no duty to disclose the fact that the property…was the site of a suicide, accidental death, natural death, or perceived paranormal activity.

But I assure you, after the new owners move in and meet the neighbors, they'll learn all about your paranormal parties.  And expect their lawyer to come knocking, regardless of duty to disclose.

Stock Market vs. Real Estate Market

Heard any news about the real estate market lately?  It’s for real. Prices are lower. Homes are being foreclosed on. The bad mortgages are affecting everything in the financial markets. But are houses really the worst investment you could have made?

Since 2001, the average price of a single-family home in Nokomis has gone from $170,066 to $222,542. In Longfellow, the average price was $155,226 in 2001 and $192,772 today. And that number doesn’t consider that many foreclosed homes in rotten condition are skewing the numbers lower. In the same time, the Dow ended up right where it started. Simply, your investment did better in the housing market than it did in the stock market.

But that’s not the whole picture. How many memories have you made in your home? How many have you made in the stock market? Remember that time that you had your entire family over to your stock portfolio for Thanksgiving? Remember your first Christmas tree in your stock portfolio? Remember watching the snow fall out the window of your stock portfolio? No matter how cold it got, your stock portfolio always kept you warm at night.

You don’t have to invest in the stock market. But you do have to live somewhere. And in the long run, it’s better to own that home than to rent it. That doesn’t mean you should buy a home you can’t afford, or buy any home before you can afford it. But the dream of owning your own home is still a valid one. But if you treat it like the stock market and think that you can buy and sell at will as you try to build your fortune, your dream will return the favor just as reliably as the stock market. But put your dream of family and love into that home, and it rarely disappoints.

More Fall Maintenance – this time inside!

Ok, here are some more good tips – this time inside the house!

1.  Check all faucets, valves, and water pipes for leaks and/or corrosion.

2.  Check all waste pipes, toilets, and sinks for leaks and/or loose fittings.

3.  Shut off water supply to exterior faucets and remove hoses.

4.  Change or clean all forced air furnace filters monthly!

5.  If you have a humidifier installed on your furnace, check operation and clean.

6.  Check hot water systems for leaks around boiler and pipe fitting, check each radiator for heat, bleed as needed.

7.  Have pumps and fans lubricated according to manufacturers’ specifications.

8.  Check fresh air intake tubing, making sure outside area is cleared of debris.

9.  Know the location of the circuit breaker panel/fuse box, label all circuits.

10. Be sure you have not stacked flammable items too close to closet light fixtures.

11. Replace regular light bulbs with energy efficient CFB’s or LED’s.

12. Buy and install at least one fire extinguisher.  And learn how to use it!

A dozen useful fall home maintenance tips.  Surely you can check these off your list in a weekend?!

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

I’m sure I put this list out last fall, but it’s worth looking at again every year.  With the cooler weather, it’s got me thinking about winter (gasp!) and what to do to get prepared.  Here are a few outdoor items:

1.  Clear leaves and debris from gutters.

2.  Check to be sure the gutter extensions are firmly attached and carrying the water a good distance from the house.

3.  Study the grading around your home. Is is adequately slanted to carry water away?  Fill in the low areas.

4.  Spray water on the roof to see if there are any leaks, loose or damaged areas, or disconnected downspouts.  Check to see that water doesn’t overflow the gutters and that it channels away from the house.

5.  Caulk around windows and doors where water could get in, especially at the top.  Use acrylic caulk if you would paint the area, or silicon if you don’t need to paint.  This will give you good savings on heating bills.

6.  Check the chimney for loose bricks, gaps in the mortar, or other damage. Pull out those binoculars!

7.  Trim tree branches growing near the roof.  This will not only help keep them from wearing on the shingles, but keep animals off the roof or from nesting in the chimney.  Remove small trees and seedlings growing beside the foundation.

8.  Clean leaves and debris from around the air conditioner.  Turn the power off.  Don’t fully cover, as this provides a nesting place for rodents.

9.  Check the garage doors for good fit and operation.  Lubricate if needed.  Adjust auto reverse if needed.

10.  Check the caulking around the pipes, vents, and other wall penetrations.  Check dryer vent to make sure it’s not blocked and the outside flapper is working.

11.  Clean out window wells.  Consider adding window well covers for water control.

12.  If you have a sidewalk that butts up against the foundation, check to make sure the gap between the house and sidewalk is filled to avoid water penetration.

Preventing Ice Dams

How do ice dams occur?  They start when attic heat melts the snow next to the roofing.  The water then flows to the eaves, where it freezes and forms the ice dam.  As the process continues, the water/ice backs up under the roofing, causing damage.  Ice dams are common on houses with moderate roof slopes, limited insulation, and little ventilation.

Ice dams do not occur on unheated buildings, so the idea is to have a cold roof.  How to do this?  Make sure you have adequate ceiling and/or roof insulation and air flow in and out of the attic.

Insulation:  Ceiling or roof insulation of R-38 or more is the best.  Any gaps in the ceiling around wires, pipes, chimneys, etc. should be sealed before insulating.

Ventilation:  Most attics need about a square inch of ventilation for each square foot of ceiling, and vent areas should be placed low and high.  Plastic or cardboard air chutes can be installed between rafters near the soffit to prevent the insulation from blocking the air flow.

Temporary and Emergency Measures:  You can remove the snow with a "roof rake."  Don’t chop the ice or use a torch to get rid of the snow, you could damage the roof.  You can also use water from a garden hose or heater cables to make channels through the ice dam.

Of course, see your contractor for more detailed information and make sure you educate yourself before tackling any of these to avoid damaging your roof.  With snow and ice melting and refreezing this time of year, it’s a good idea to check it out!

Thanks to Inspeca-Homes, St. Paul.

Super Target or Neighborhood Store?

Target_carts_2 I admit it!  I was looking forward to the convenience of having a Super Target near by.  I was driving to Target and Rainbow every week anyway.  I might as well cut down on the mileage.

However, the new Super Target has been nothing but a disappointment.  It’s the most poorly run Target I’ve seen.  The don’t carry all the products that other Target’s carry, and they’re out of stock for half the items they do carry.  Every time I go, I leave more frustrated.

Then my friend said, "Why are you surprised?  It’s not a grocery store.  It’s a convenience store." 

Huh?  No it’s not.  They have lot’s of great stuff.  Right?  Well maybe not.  Now every time I go, I compare it to a convenience store.  He’s right.  It’s just bigger.  They have some food, but not everything you need.  They have some clothes, but not everything you need.  They have car supplies and sporting goods, but only the very basics.  And they have every possible salty or sweet snack that you don’t need in abundance.  It’s a convenience store.

Only it’s way more convenient to go to Oxendale’s. 

Sorry neighborhood stores.  I strayed.  But I’m back now.  I’ll leave my trips to Target for when I need cheap soda for a party.  If they have it in stock!

Fall Maintenance Tips

Here are a few things to do outside before it gets TOO cold:

1. Clear the gutters.

2.  Make sure the gutter extensions are attached securely and taking water a good distance away from the house.

3.  Make sure the grading around the house is sufficient.  Fill in low areas and make sure it’s slanted well to carry water away from the house.

4.  Look for gaps around windows and doors where water or air could get through, especially at the top.  Caulk those areas.  This will save on heating bills!

5.  Check the chimney for loose bricks, gaps in the mortar, or other damage.  Use binoculars!

6.  Trim branches of trees growing near the roof.  This will not only keep them from rubbing on the shingles, but will help keep animals off or nesting in your chimney.

7.  Clean leaves and other debris from around the air conditioner.  Turn the power off.  Don’t fully cover it so rodents can’t make a nest there.

8.  Check garage doors for good fit and operation.  Lubricate if needed.  Adjust auto reverse if needed.

9.  Check the caulking around pipes, vents, and other wall openings.  Check the dryer vent to make sure it’s not blocked and the outside flap is working.

10. Clean out window wells.  Consider adding covers for water control.