Here in beautiful North Idaho, one of the most common past times in the summer is camping! Whether you pull an RV or rough it with a tent, it’s a hobby most enjoy. Although the first camping trip of the year can be exciting, it may also seem a little overwhelming. It’s been months since your last trip and you have nothing prepared. We’ve got you covered! Below are checklists, tips, cooking ideas and more!
Before Your First Trip
First thing on your to-do list in spring is to make sure your tent or RV and all gear is ready ready. Camping would not be very fun if you realized during your trip that something wasn’t working or missing and you weren’t fully prepared. These things can ruin any camping trip.
Tents are pretty easy, but still it is very important to make sure your tent is in top shape and ready to go. Here are a few things to remember when prepping you tent and gear:
- Inspect your tent and tarps for any holes. Apply waterproof sealant where necessary.
- Wash and fully dry all of your gear made of fabric, this includes any sleeping bags, pillows and blankets.
- Check all your fasteners and ropes. Replace any broken or frayed ones.
- Make sure all your tent poles and stakes are accounted for
- Make sure you have a hammer for the stakes and a hatchet for wood
- Be sure all your battery powered gear has new and fully charged batteries and works.
- Wash, dry, inspect, and check that all camping equipment is acceptable working order.
Now, RV‘s are much more complex to prepare. Although every RV is going to be a bit different, the items detailed below will fit most RV’s and will be need to be completed. Always best to check the manual for the specifics on your RV.
- Clean and inspect the inside and the outside of the RV.
- If you winterized your RV in the fall, steps will need to be taken to de-winterize the trailer. This is typically flushing the lines with clean water.
- Fill your water tank, run the water pump and check for leaks.
- Be sure your dump hose is in good and working order, with no holes or tears.
- Check all your fresh water, black and grey valves when at a dump station. Be sure they open and close property and these are no leaks.
- Inspect the caulking, tires, towing equipment, awning, appliances, lights, batteries and A/C Unit.
- Make sure all your safety equipment is on board along with a tool box with most often used items for small repairs
Things to Pack
Although everybody camps a little differently, there are several things we all need to bring on every camping trip. We’ll save you the trouble of writing your own list, because we did it for you. Here are just a few very important items to remember:
1. Bedding – includes pillows, blankets and sleeping bags
2. Clothes – Plan for all types of weather from swim suits to coats
3. Toiletries – includes soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, hairbrush, hair-ties, shaving items and deodorant
4. Lighting – lantern, flashlight and don’t forget the batteries or matches
5. Cook wear and utensils – Stove, dutch oven, griddle, coffee pot, knife, spatula and more
6. Don’t forget packing for your pups. Leashes, food bowls, water bowls, dog bed, dog food
7. First Aid Kit, Stuff to Bug Bites, Sunscreen, Ibuprofen etc.
That list is only scratching the surface. Need a more in depth list? Check out our Camping Checklist!
Cooking At Camp
Cooking while camping can seem like an overwhelming, difficult, and dreaded task. But, it can be easy and enjoyable if you follow some basic steps.
Step 1: Plan Ahead.
Seems a little obvious, but it is one of the most important steps. Creating a list of everything you’ll need, even the little things, will insure less forgotten items. Things to consider in this step: the space and weight the food will take up, how you plan to cook things (stove, dutch oven, cast iron skillet), and that you eat food that spoils first.
Step 2: Choose your Equipment.
This step will mostly depend on how you camp and the amount of work you’re willing to do. If you prefer not to have any work while camping, pre made meals and snacks would be your go to. That would mean more prep work before you went camping. If you’re willing to do a little cooking, foil meals would be a great idea, that would be a little less prep work before you left. If you can manage the extra weight and the extra work, dutch oven or a cast iron skillet would be a great way to prepare your food. Dutch ovens seem to be a popular choice in cookware these days. Check out a video about dutch oven cooking for beginners by clicking here!
Step 3: Know how to Store Food.
A little organization will help big time when storing your food. There is a science behind stocking a cooler or fridge to ensure no wasted space and easy access to items you will need most often. A few ideas would be to bring a separate cooler for drinks, remove items from bulky packages, pack ingredients you’ll be using last at the bottom, and fill every nook and cranny with ice. Others things to keep in mind in regards to storing food is to be sure to keep everything clean, never to leave food unattended, and be aware of the wildlife in the area you’re camping and plan accordingly. Example would be bear proofing.
Step 4: Clean Up.
Proper clean up after your meal is also important, no matter how little we want to do it, as it prevents the spread of bacteria and the arrival of unwanted guests. Be prepared with items you’ll need: 2 dish tubs, dish cloth, drying towel and biodegradable soap. Thoroughly clean, dry and store your items. Store your unused food in airtight containers. Make sure all your trash has been picked up around your camp site and dispose of it properly. Either in the designated receptacle or pack it up and bring it out of the woods with you. Remember, pack it in – pack it out. Leave your camp spot or location better than when you arrived.
Have a great camping season! Be sure you’re prepared, have fun, and always be safe!
Lifestyle: First thing you would want to consider, before ever looking at homes, is the lifestyle you lead. Think about the things you would need in an area that you couldn’t live without. Do you want to live in the city with a nightlife? Off the beaten path away from most people? Or somewhere in between? Making that decision first will help narrow down the area you look for homes in.
Crime: Researching the crime rates and statistics can help you narrow down an area to live. If you have already decided where you want to live, crime rates are always a good thing to check on. This is especially true if you have children or plan to have children. Call the local police department to get specifics about the area.
Culture: Some people need cultural stimulation regularly, so living in a larger city where that is accessible would be the best option.
Weather/Climate: The weather and climate have an affect on our mental health, daily activities, recreation, and sometimes our jobs. Picking a place that you like the weather year round is very important.
Job Market: The job market, salary, and opportunities will vary in every area. When thinking of finding a new area to live, look into your line of work to determine if it would be a good move. There may be more selection or higher salary in one area over another.
Housing Market: When buying a home it’s also good to get the most bang for your buck! Researching the housing market in an area will help to determine the property values and whether it’s a good place to invest. Things you would want to look into is how long homes are on the market, resale value, and current home prices, that will give you a good idea of the market.
Cost of Everyday Items: No matter how good your job is, or the value of your home, the prices of everyday items need to also be considered. The prices of groceries, gas, and utilities vary from place to place. It could mean the difference of living comfortably and within your means or living from paycheck to paycheck.
Taxes: There are 5 states out there with no sales tax, and 9 that don’t collect income tax. Not to mention that the property tax rate is different from city to city, even in the same state. Other states offer tax credits or exceptions. Taxes, although very necessary, could mean a big difference on the amount you spend each month on both your goods and your mortgage and is something that needs to be considered before moving.
Age: Is a neighborhoods historic or new developments? That’s something to consider, if that matters to you. Older neighborhoods bring character, but there may also be more to repair. New developments bring more of a modern feel but it typically suggests additional future growth, which could be viewed as positive or negative
Sounds & Smells: Listening to the area is important. Being close to a freeway/highway, train, etc could cause sleepless nights. Or, if there are any bad odors or poor air quality, that’s something that would affect your decision as well. Sounds and smells are not something you can detect on the internet. If you’re getting serious about a neighborhood, pay it a visit. Be sure to listen and smell, before ever making a purchase.
Schools: If you have or are planning to have children, be sure to check on the type of schools in the area. Look into the elementary, middle, and high schools. That can be a huge determining factor on the neighborhood to live.
Home Owners Association: HOA’s bring strict rules as well as typically an additional fee. Although they will keep the neighborhood looking clean, it may not be worth the extra cost.
Family & Friends: If being close to family and friends is important, that should always be considered when picking the place you live. Chose an area with a reasonable drive time or plane ride to them.
Commute: First thing to determine is how you’re going to commute. Will you be driving, are there public transportation options available, or are you close enough to walk? The next thing to consider is the time it takes to commute to and from both work and school. Be sure to look into the commute time during the peak travel times of the day. Will longer commute times affect your quality of life, taking away from time you could be spending with your family or friends.
Amenities & Conveniences: It’s good to identify how close you would be to things like hospitals, airports, parks, grocery stores, and gas stations. If the neighborhood you’re interested in is farther out, will you be willing to travel a greater distance to get your everyday needs or in an emergency? Another thing to consider is how far away you’d be to your hobbies. If you like to ski, being many hours away from the closest mountain wouldn’t be the best option.
Tourist Attractions: Being close to tourist attraction can seem great when you’re thinking about moving to an area. But consider what it would be like after years of living there. The busy season will bring more people in the area which could become difficult to deal with over time.
Everyone has an idea of their dream house. Maybe it has an elaborate built in shelf for your trading cards. Maybe there is a slide to go downstairs. While these are both awesome, they might not be part of the next owners dreams. When you are ready to invest some money into the house, consider this list of renovations that have the best return on investment (ROI).
Minor Bathroom Update
You’ll see a trend throughout the list. There is a breaking point where an investment will start to cost more than you will get back. That’s why there are lots of items that are a “minor” remodel or update. These are that happy medium ground that still makes an updated room scream that its shiny and new, but it will cost you less in the long run.
To replace tubs, tile and caulk in a bathroom might run a little over $1000 and you can expect a return rate of about 102% (at current market values).
I’m 100% certain that when you walk up to someones front door, you take notice of their grass or the plants growing, if their siding is dirty or if their walk is swept. Everyone does. So when buyers are shopping for homes, you want their attention to be focused on your yard. You want it to yell at them and tell them to come check out the rest of your awesome home! DIY landscaping can be cheaper than paying a professional, but it can take longer and you might accidentally find the sprinklers with your shovel like I definitely didn’t do. There is no right answer when you decide if you want to pay a pro or be a weekend warrior. There is, however a good payoff for your investments when you sell your home, like 100%-good.
Major Kitchen Remodel
If your home is like ours, the kitchen is the absolute heart of it. Maybe because we love food, but that is besides the point. Consider updating your dated appliances, cabinets from circa 1990 and the flooring. Tile is amazing, but even quality vinyl will really lift the rooms appeal. Most of our clients head straight for the kitchen to try and picture themselves slaving over the stove. You try it. Are yo able to picture plenty of work space and uncluttered counters? If not, think about pairing down some of the obstacles. The average ROI for kitchen remodeling is about 91%. Not quite as high as the other projects, but definitely one of the BIGGEST selling points.
Just like the landscaping, a fresh coat of paint or updated shutters and fresh siding can really draw people in. And since you are taking the time to improve your home, do the things that will get you the most in the long run. Current market trends predict a ROI for exterior improvements at about 95%. And let’s be honest, that particle compressed siding the color of avocados… has to go.
If you’re like us, on the first day of spring you’re still waiting for the snow to melt so you can get on with enjoying spring proper. We’ve provided for you, a quick home maintenance checklist of things to look over after a long winter.
Fall loves to dump leaves all over your roof and winter likes to cement them in your gutters. In early spring the freezing and thawing can cause the watery leaf dam to expand and crack your gutters and down spouts. Keep this frost heaving in check by cleaning out leaves as soon as you can. If you didn’t catch it in time, the spring is a great time to inspect for damage and get it replaced. Remember, water that isn’t directed away from the house properly can permeate into your foundation causing loads of problems down the road.
Chimneys stick out like a sore thumb on the top of your house. That means they’re especially vulnerable to the wind and inclement weather of North Idaho winters. There are some chimney features that really need to be inspected after a winter. Check for obvious problems like bricks that look out of place or… if it’s fallen down. That’s a good indicator of a problem. Check the flashing at the base of your chimney. That’s the thin sheet metal that keeps the water from puddling and directs it down the roof. Furthermore, a periodic cleaning of the inside bits will make it firstly, more efficient. And secondly, safe as heck.
After a damp fall and winter your siding will most likely accumulate mold and mildew and dirt like its going out of style. You can easily fix this with a pressure washer. If you don’t own one, they cost maybe $30 to rent for a day. When you hose your house down, two magical things will happen. You will experience the oddly satisfying pleasure of pressure washing and your house will look brand new. Seriously.
Some of the worst areas are under eaves and near downspouts. Any stains and mold in these places definitely indicate that there is a problem with how your gutters are handling roof water.
Remember when we said that water can permeate into your foundation and cause problems? Ground water is no joke and can completely compromise your home’s structural integrity. Concrete is porous and readily holds water that water will cause the concrete to break down over time. If you live in areas that get cold, you also run the risk of frost heaving. Both of these scenarios will cause your foundation to crack, or your home to be unsettled and shift.
The spring is your first opportunity to check your foundation for any problem areas. We recommend checking near downspouts and areas that tend to be waterlogged.
As below, so above. Shingles, slate and other roofing materials are not indestructible. While you’re topside checking out the smokestack and gutters- give the roof a good look over. Look for out-of-place shingles, sagging spots or raised shingles. Water will get in any way it can. Your vigilance will keep your roof at the apex of its abilities.
Additionally, check for moss or other organic material. Moss holds water like a pro and the last thing you want is water perched on your roof waiting to find a way in.
We have tons of leafy beautiful deciduous trees in our yard. Every spring, without fail, we find clumps of leaves we missed before the snow fell. When the snow is gone go clean them up, debris that is left on turf for too long will suffocate and deprive grass of valuable sunlight. This is also a perfect opportunity to rake and fertilize your lawn and give it the best fighting chance of yard of the month (instead of those Smith’s who have won it for the last 5 years).
Many pests and critters breed in spring. You can help keep them in check by cleaning the places they would typically habituate. Basements, window sills, under cabinets, behind appliances and ceiling corners are a good place to start. Prevent unchecked population growth by getting rid of the dust and debris that would typically provide shelter. Keeping your counters and trash bins clean will offer less food to the critters. If you’re more concerned with poisonous spiders or the bugs are taking over, call for reinforcements! (pest exterminators)
This winter, we found tons of drafts and cold places throughout our house. This is not good. Remember, air is small and goes wherever it wants. Including your bathroom windows and under your front doors. You get the idea, and just think of all the dollars you are literally letting slip through the cracks. My dad always used to yell “Close the door! We’re not heating the neighborhood!” Turns out that if you don’t repair the seals and weather strips, you are- in fact, heating the neighborhood.
Also. Bugs are small, they too come through the cracks. See paragraph above.
Your furnace was crucial during the winter and fall. Your AC will probably be a close friend during the summer. Take care of your friend before its in the triple digits. There are some really easy preventative maintenance tasks that you can do, or if yo don’t feel confident- call an HVAC technician to service and inspect it.
Some easy things you can do; Clean and/or replace your air filters, check hose connections for leaks, dust/blow off/ vacuum dirt from fans and electronics and check drip pans. Not too painful, right?
Tax season is upon us! That means we not only need to file taxes by April 15th, but also to file for the homeowners exemption.
If you’re not sure if you qualify or where to file, we are here to help!
What Is The Homeowners Exemption
This exemption is provided by Idaho state law, for the purpose of reducing the taxable value of your home up to $100,00 or 50%, whichever is less. For example, if your home is worth $400,000, you may only pay tax on $300,000. As a result, this exemption will save you money and reduce you property taxes!
A home owner can file the exemption if they are an Idaho resident and they occupy the home for more than 6 month out of the year (Primary Residence). It can only be filed on the primary residence, it can not be put on a second home or a rental.
When To File
New Construction you must file within 30 days of purchasing the home.
For Existing Homes, the deadline to file for the homeowners exemption is April 15th for THIS year’s exemptions.
File one time per house. After you file, the exemption stays with the house until you sell the house. Then you will need to file it again on your next home.
Where To File
Filing must be done at the county’s assessors office where the house is located. Every county does it a little differently, but you have to file each one in person, it can not be done online. Below are a list of the addresses of nearby counties:
Kootenai: 451 Government Way, Coeur d’Alene
Shoshone: 700 Bank St #100, Wallace
Boundary: 6452 Kootenai St, Bonners Ferry
Bonner: 1500 US-2 #205, Sandpoint
Benewah: 701 College Ave # 7, St Maries
Do Not Share Sales Price
Idaho is a non disclosure state. That means you do not disclosure the purchase price of the home with the county or on any external sites like Zillow because it is not required. This is a good thing! If the county has the home assessed at a lower value than what you purchased it at, you will continue to be taxed at the lower rate. If you share the higher purchase price with them, they will start taxing you at that higher level.
Below are a few other exemptions you can file on your property. Click on the links to learn more about how it works in Kootenai county. You would file each of the below exemptions the same way as a homeowners exemption, at the county’s assessor’s office where the land is located.
Agricultural: This program will reduce the taxable value on agricultural land.
Timber: This program will reduce the taxable value of the private land used to primarily harvest timber.
Property Tax Reduction Program (Formally known as Circuit Breaker): This program reduces property taxes for individuals who meet age and income requirements.
If you have any questions, concerns or confusion, never hesitate to contact us! We are here to address any roadblocks you have and point you in the right direction so that you can save some money on your taxes.
Check out our video below regarding important tax information for home owners. Also, subscribe to our YouTube page to keep up with all things real estate!
Home Maintenance for Fall/Winter
The purchase of a home will likely be the biggest invest anybody will make in their life. Our homes are the centers of our lives because they hold everything and everyone important to us. Our top priorities are taking care of that invest. Winter is a harsh season here in North Idaho as a result it can cause some damage to our homes, properties, our loved ones, or even our wallets! It can be avoided if we take extra steps this fall or start of winter to prepare.
The next question is where do I start? Not knowing can be overwhelming and stressful. Below is just a small list of some important home maintenance ideas. Included is the reason you should do them. It can make a huge difference on your home and property this year.
For a full list of maintenance ideas as well as a printable checklist, go to our website by clicking here!
What to do
|Clean gutters and downspouts throughout fall||A build up of leaves and other debris could lead to wood rot, pest issues, and ruined gutters.|
|Change summer screens to cool weather storm windows & doors||Removing screens stop snow from getting trapped between the window and screen. That avoids damage to the sill and frame as well as lets in more light. Installing storm windows & doors helps keep your home insulated through the cold months.|
|Replace the filter in your furnace||This helps the lifespan of your heater, reduces energy bills and improves air quality.|
|Flush and insulate your hot water tank||Flushing removes sediment which in turn could extend the life of your tank. Insulating can help conserve energy, in turn saving you money.|
|Place a sheet of plywood held down by a few bricks on top and your AC, not a waterproof cover||Plywood can stop falling icicles and other debris which in turn would cause damage to the unit. Waterproof covers creates a warm environment for unwanted guests to stay for the winter.|
|Trim limps that are close to power lines or the roof of your home||Avoids heavy snow/ice building up causing damage.|
For a full list of maintenance ideas as well as a printable checklist, go to our website by clicking here!
Here in beautiful North Idaho we are lucky to have 4 very distinct seasons. Everybody loves the warmth of Summer, the freshness of Spring, the colors of Fall, and the coziness of Winter.
With winter comes SNOW and that can mean snow storms! Driving in the snow and knowing how to be prepared for winter driving can be a bit stressful.
Knowing what to do or even where to start preparation can be one of the biggest hurdles. There are simple preparations that can be done to your vehicle and with your family to get through the longest and coldest season. Check out the below tips to help avoid winter from sneaking up on you and those you love.
Preparation Tips for Successfully Surviving the Winter:
Get a Vehicle Winter Maintenance Check-up Before Winter Hits:
~ Don’t wait to check your battery, belts, hoses, radiator, lights, brakes, heater/defroster and wipers ~
~ Tire shops and mechanics are busiest just before and during winter storms, so get your check-up scheduled NOW ~
Keep a Basic Winter Survival Kit in Your Vehicle:
~ Flashlight ~ Batteries ~ Blanket ~ Snacks ~
Water ~ Gloves ~ Boots ~ First-aid kit ~
Load Your Car with Basic Travel Gear:
~ Tire chains ~ Ice scraper/snowbrush ~ Jumper cables ~ Road flares ~
Keep Your Fuel Tank Full:
~ Don’t let it fall below half a tank ~
Plan With Your Family
~ Create a plan that works well with your family ~
~ Practice it each year before the snow falls ~
~ Be sure to find your local station for traffic reports and emergency messages ~
~ Know the weather approaching so you are prepared for its arrival ~
Check Your Tires:
~ Make sure your chains fit before the first winter storm ~
~ Check tire pressure during cold weather ~
Click on the Checklists Below for More Information:
AND REMEMBER TO ALWAYS BE SAFE OUT THERE!!
Washington State Dept of Transportation https://www.wsdot.com/winter/emergencykit.htm
Take the Winter by Storm https://takewinterbystorm.org/
Is that beautiful time of year again here in Coeur d’Alene… Fall!
With Fall comes all of the beautiful and colorful leaves that we love and enjoy for about the first 2 weeks. After they have fallen off the trees, the fun begins with leaves all over our yards and driveways. We then being the clean up as we ready our yards for winter. The raking of those beautiful leaves into piles and then scooping them into bags to take to the landfill to throw way.
DON’t BOTHER with that this year! Spend more time inside this year enjoying your hot cocoa and cozy PJ’s! Our City of Coeur d’Alene is not only beautiful but they are also awesome! One of the benefits of living is Coeur d’Alene and our Leaf Pick Up program and its absolutely FREE for you!
Leaf Pickup! Starting Friday November 13th
Click the link here for leaf pickup map. Find your zone – leaf pickup will happen in alphabetic order.
Some things to keep in mind:
- You may start putting your leaves out Friday November 2nd.
- Please move cars out of the street if at all possible during leaf pick-up.
- Keep the leaves about one foot off the curb line to facilitate storm water flow.
- Be alert for leaf pick-up equipment traveling through your neighborhood.
- Keep a safe distance away from leaf pick-up heavy equipment.
- Recognize that we have a tough job to do in a very short window between when the leaves fall and when the snow flies.
- Understand that city and private trucks are exempted from covering loads during the leaf pick-up period. Sweepers will follow city trucks to collect remaining/excess leaves.
- Place bagged leaves in street.
- Mix branches, rubble or other refuse in with the leaves.
- Miss the deadline… we only have time for one pass!