Fall Home Maintenance

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.

 

 

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InteriorImage result for insulating pipes for winter

  • Windows & Doors ~Install cool weather storm windows & doors, repair and/or replace loose or damaged window or door frames and insert weather stripping or caulking around windows & Image result for inserting weather strippingdoors. This will all keep your house better insulated through winter.

 

  • Heating Systems ~ Replace the filter in your furnace and clean your ducts to help your furnace’s efficiency and help save money

 

  • Plumbing ~ Be sure your pipes are well insulated to help avoid freezing. You’ll also want to know where the water shut off valve is in case your pipes do freeze.  Be sure to remove hoses from hose bibs on your home in colder weather so that your bibs and frost fee bibs don’t freeze in the low temperatures, causing leaks in the warmer months.  

 

  • Ventilation ~ Check the eave vents to be sure it’s clear of insulation and other debris to prevent mold.  Clean out your dryer vents to protect from possible ignition.  Close your foundation vents durning the fall and winter to keep pipes in your crawl space from freezing. 

 

  • Safety Devices ~ Now is a good time of year to check all your safety devices to be sure you can make it through winter. Check the expiration date on your fire extinguishers, test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors (changing the batteries if necessary) and test your home for radon.

 

Exterior

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  • Gutters & Downspouts ~ Clean our your gutters and downspouts of debris to put a stop to any possible rot and to keep your gutters in proper working order

 

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    Chimney & Fireplace ~ Have a professional inspect & clean your chimney  to help avoid chimney fires. Test your fireplace flue for a tight seal when it’s closed to prevent water getting into your chimney.

 

  • Landscaping & Outside Work ~ Trim any limbs that are close to power lines, cover or store your patio furniture, check your walkways, stairs and driveway for easier winter navigation. To help promote yard growth, you could fertilize and reseed your lawn as well as prune your trees and shrubs.

 

  • Air Conditioners ~ If you have a window AC unit, be sure to remove it and store in a dry play before winter. Or cover your AC unit with a piece of plywood held down by bricks. This will help protect the unit from falling debris but also continue to allow airflow. You don’t want to put a waterproof cover over it during winter because it creates a warm environment which attracts unwanted guests.
Posted on September 11, 2019 at 9:48 pm
John and Tracey Tindall | Category: Helpful Tips, Home & Projects, Keeping it Real - With John & Tracey | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fire Safety

As fire season continues, it’s good to take a moment and review some fire safety tips for both in the home and while outdoors. Having the basic knowledge may help prevent a home fire or a wildfire.

 

 

Outdoors

Below are 3 steps to follow when you have a fire outdoors:

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  • Picking Your Campfire Spot: Be sure you follow any rules or regulations if planning to build a pit in a campground. Ensure you pick a level spot and you are approximately 10-15 feet away from anything that could catch fire. This includes low hanging branches, trees/shrubs, and your own gear. Take the weather into account as well, for example if there will be high wind and which direction it’s going in. Make sure rocks line the pit so your fire stays within the boarder.

 

  • While You Maintain Your Fire: Once your fire is going, do not add dangerous items such as aerosol cans, pressurized containers or aluminum cans. This items could explode, cause harmful fumes or shatter. Keep your fire at a manageable size. If it gets too large it could easily become out of hand with no way to put it out on your own. Also, always watch it. This is especially true if there are pets or children nearby. As a safety precaution, always have water close by.

 

  • Extinguishing Your Fire: If possible, let you fire burn down to ash. Then, pour water over all the embers, not just the red ones, until the hissing sounds spots. You could also put dirt or sand over the fire, if water isn’t available. Continue adding the water or dirt/sand, stirring around with a shovel, until everything is cool. Never walk away or go to bed when your fire is still warm.

 

General Safety Tips to Help Prevent a Wildfire:

 

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  • Be careful while camping and using & fueling fueling lanterns, stoves, and heaters. Make sure it’s cool before refueling. Do your best not to spill flammable liquids and store appropriately.

 

  • Do not dispose of your cigarettes, matches or any smoking material out of a moving vehicle or anywhere near an area that could catch fire. Always put your cigarette out before disposing of it.

 

  • When burning yard waste, avoid burning in windy conditions. Have a shovel, water and fire retardant nearby and avoid all flammable materials from your yard. Follow all fire rules, such as not letting the fire get out of hand, ALWAYS keep an eye on it and put it out completely before walking away.

 

  • If you notice an unattended or out of control fire, contact your local fire department or 9-1-1.

 

  • If using fireworks, consider wetting down the grass and surrounding areas before lighting them. Always have a bucket of water, garden hose or fire extinguisher ready nearby. Avoid lighting fireworks on a windy night.

 

 

At HomeImage result for home smoke detector in a fire

Below is 6 ways to prevent a fire in your home and help to avoid injury:

  • Smoke Alarms: Be sure you have the correct number of smoke alarms installed in your home. Test them once a month to ensure they are still is working order. Have spare batteries in your home so if the batteries die, you can replace them right away. Replace them at least once a year. Learn more about smoke alarms by clicking here, such as how many and where to install in your home.

 

  • Fire Extinguishers: They are a good idea to have to put out a small fire in your home or garage. Go over the 5 different types of fire extinguishers to be sure you have the correct one. Be sure your fire extinguisher is checked and tested regularly by a professional. Also, make sure you know how to use the fire extinguisher by following the P.A.S.S. rule below:
    • Pull the pin. Hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you and release the locking mechanism.
    • Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
    • Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
    • Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.

 

  • Teach Your Children the Basics: Don’t let them play with matches, candles or fire and teach them that it can be dangerous. Show your child what the smoke alarm sounds like and what to do when one goes off. If your child is old enough teach them not to touch a door knob if it’s hot, how to stop drop & roll, to crawl on the ground when they see smoke, and not to hide under a bed or in a closet if there is a fire. And if you have the opportunity, go to a fire station and have them meet a firefighter so they can be familiar with what they do and their gear.

 

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  • Create A Fire Escape Plan: Draw your home’s floor plan that shows all the windows & doors. Make a plan of escape and go over it with your family, be sure there are at least 2 ways to get out of ever room, if possible. Have a spot you meet your family once outside. And be sure to practice the plan at least twice a year. Click here for a printable sheet to draw out your escape.

 

  • Create A Family Emergency Communication Plan: Be sure every family member knows who to contact in case they can not find one another. This goes for any type of emergency, not just a fire. Also, be sure everybody know how to properly use 9-1-1.

 

  • Stay Safe When Grilling: Do not use your grill unless it’s away from siding, decking or anything that could catch fire. Make sure your children and pets remain at least 3 feet away from the grill when it’s in use. Always stay with your grill when using it and clean it regularly.

 

 

Although it’s impossible to guarantee a fire will never get started in your home or your camp fire never gets out of hand, taking the precautions and steps above can help avoid it from happening. Always stay safe!

 

Credit: American Red Cross, Safety.com, U.S. Fire Administration, SmokeyBear, Active.com, FEMA, National Geographic

Posted on August 9, 2019 at 2:24 pm
John and Tracey Tindall | Category: Helpful Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Boating Safety

One thing you can almost be sure of is at some point you will find yourself on a boat during the summer here in North Idaho. With the numerous amount of lakes and rivers, it’s near impossible not to enjoy boat life, even if it’s only for a day. Whether you’re an avid boater, only enjoy it every now and then or are just getting into boating, it’s always a good idea to know the basics of boating safety before leaving the dock.

 

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1. Check the Weather Before You Leave

Be sure to check the weather of your route and destination, including the water conditions, before you depart. You can’t always tell a storm will roll in just by looking outside.

 

2. Have the Proper Gear Onboard

You never know if or when you’ll have an emergency. Being sure you have all the proper gear onboard will help avoid additional issues and will ensure you’re prepared for every type of situation. Check out a full checklist here!

 

3. Be Aware of Carbon Monoxide

Always maintain fresh air circulation in your boat and be sure you and others on the boat are aware of carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms. Click here to learn more about CO & CO poisoning.

 

4. Take a Boat Safety Course & Know the Rules

There are several different courses you can take online for boat safety that you can receive certification for them. Check out the list here.

Knowing your rules will ensure you and other boaters safety. Check out the navigation rules here.

 

 

5. Get your Boat Checked

You can receive a free boat check! The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadrons both offer that service. These checks make sure you have the proper safety equipment and that they are in the proper condition per state and federal regulations. Find out how to get your check scheduled by clicking here.

 

6. Use Common Sense

Many of the rules on the water are consistent with the rules on the road. Stay alert, operate at a safe speed, make sure passengers are following safety measures, avoid alcohol use when driving and stay clear of the engine are examples of just a few.

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7. Follow Proper Procedures

Knowing and following proper docking & anchoring procedures are an important part of boating. Depending on the type or boat you have and the weather conditions, the procedures you need to follow could be different. Be sure you know what to do.

 

 

Credit: Discover Boating & Nationwide

Posted on July 30, 2019 at 10:05 pm
John and Tracey Tindall | Category: Helpful Tips, Life on the Lake, Things to Do and See in North Idaho | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Camping Preparation

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:

  1. Inspect your tent and tarps for any holes. Apply waterproof sealant where necessary.
  2. Wash and fully dry all of your gear made of fabric, this includes any sleeping bags, pillows and blankets.
  3. Check all your fasteners and ropes. Replace any broken or frayed ones.
  4. Make sure all your tent poles and stakes are accounted for
  5. Make sure you have a hammer for the stakes and a hatchet for wood
  6. Be sure all your battery powered gear has new and fully charged batteries and works.
  7. 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.

  1. Clean and inspect the inside and the outside of the RV.
  2. 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.
  3. Fill your water tank, run the water pump and check for leaks.
  4. Be sure your dump hose is in good and working order, with no holes or tears.
  5. 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.
  6. Inspect the caulking, tires, towing equipment, awning, appliances, lights, batteries and A/C Unit.
  7. Make sure all your safety equipment is on board along with a tool box with most often used items for small repairs

 

Image result for making a listThings 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.

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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.Image result for cleanup after meal in camp

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.

Image result for washing dishes in campStep 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! 

 

Credit: Camping for Foodies, Camping with Gus, Chow Hound, National Park Service,

Posted on May 23, 2019 at 4:14 pm
John and Tracey Tindall | Category: Helpful Tips, Things to Do and See in North Idaho | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Choosing the Right Area to Live

Things to think about when choosing the right place for you and your family to live

 

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.

 

The Area

Demographics

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.

 

Affordability

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. 

 

The Neighborhood

 

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.

 

Distance

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.

 

Sources: U.S.News, Money Crashers, HGTV, The Spruce, Livability

Posted on April 16, 2019 at 4:28 pm
John and Tracey Tindall | Category: Costs and Spending, Helpful Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How To Get The Most From Your Home Renovations

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).

Image by Jean van der Meulen

Landscaping

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.

Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians

 

House Exterior

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.

 

 

Image by Kelly Alpert

Posted on April 4, 2019 at 7:55 pm
John and Tracey Tindall | Category: Helpful Tips, Home & Projects | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Spring Checklist

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. 

Gutters

roof gutter home house water investment

Your rain gutters are designed to direct water away from your house. A yearly inspection for damage and improper drainage will help you keep your home from dreaded water damage. Image by Felix Ulich

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. 

 

 

 

Chimney

chimney roof break broken diy investment inspection

Lots of snow and strong winds can compromise your chimney and other brick work your home might have. When you can safely get on the roof, inspect for water intrusion or any misplaced and ill fitting bricks. Image by AxxLC

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. 

Siding 

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. 

Foundation

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. 

 

Roof

roof house moss mold investment diy clean

Unless your roof moss problem is a wild animal, a simple gentle scrub with soap and water should fix your fuzzy roof. There are chemicals available at home improvement stores to make this process easier. Image by RitaE

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. 

 

 

Lawn

grass lawn green landscape landscaping home yard

Feed your lawn with a fertilizer of your choosing to give your turf a head start this summer. Image by Hans Braxmeier

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).

 

 

 

Pests

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)

Energy Rating

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.

Climate Control 

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?

 

Posted on March 21, 2019 at 3:22 am
John and Tracey Tindall | Category: Helpful Tips, Home & Projects

Homeowners Exemption

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!

 

Who Qualifies

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

Real Estate Concept

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.

 

Other Exemptions

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. 

 

Contact Us!

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.

John: 208.818.2456

Tracey: 208.818.2365

 

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! 

 

 

 

Posted on March 12, 2019 at 11:04 pm
John and Tracey Tindall | Category: Helpful Tips, Home & Projects | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Rules for Saving & Paying Down Debt

Saving money can be such a challenge for most of us.   When it comes time to buy a home or invest in real estate it can become even more of a struggle.   With mortgage financing, we must be sure to keep our debts low, while having  enough assets on hand to get our loan approved.  We will need to consider the budget for new mortgage payments while paying of credit card or consumer debts each month.  AND we must be mindful about putting money away into a 401K or other investments and maybe having a little extra to enjoy life. 

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Below are 7 simple rules for saving your money and paying off debts. Following these rules will make it easier to get where we’d like to be financially before taking the steps to get your dream home. 

 

1. Automate It! 

Most places of employment offer direct deposit. Use that to your advantage. Set your direct deposit up for a portion of your paycheck to be deposited into several different accounts. One for your 401K, another into a savings account for the purpose of emergencies, also an account to save for home projects, vacations, etc. Then, set up your bills to be paid automatically. It would be beneficial to check with your loan holders to see if that would be an option. Ultimately, it comes down to this: if you can’t see the money then you won’t have the temptation to spend it.

 

2. Know How to Prioritize

Should you start paying down debt or saving first? Which debts should you start with? You need to know how to prioritize and compare the numbers. First, start by checking the interest rates on your loans and credit cards. The higher the interest rate, the more of a priority that should be to pay off. Save any extra money you get. Tax return? Put that into savings! Get a raise at work? Automatically deposit that extra percentage into savings each month. Eventually, you will have enough in that account for a nice down payment on your home. 

 

3. Imagine Your Future Self

Where do you want to be in 5 years? 10 years? 20 years? Owning your own home? Not drowning in debt? Studies show if you imagine where you’d like to be in the future that will motivate you to take the necessary steps for the purpose of achieving those goals.

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4. Stop Unnecessary Spending

Take a good look at your finances and what you spend money on regularly. Do this with the intention of determining what can be dropped or scaled back on. Maybe a gym membership that you pay for monthly and only go once every 3 months or so. Another common unnecessary expense is cable TV; streaming services are cheaper, and they have a great selection. Additionally, rather than getting a coffee at Starbucks every day, make your own coffee at home. You may be surprised to know that could save over $100 a month. Also, eat meals at home instead of going out to eat. Even dropping one expenditure mentioned will make a huge difference on your bank account. 

 

5. Reward Yourself

You can’t live your life to save and pay down debt. Every now and then you need a reward for all your hard work. Use that as a motivation to save. Got a bill paid off? Get yourself something! Reached your goal on an amount of money you wanted to save? Treat yourself! Be sure to make these rewards sensible, but you could be getting perks while saving and paying off bills.  

 

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6. Take Advantage of Bank & Credit Cards Offers & Rewards

Take a good look at your credit card rewards, it may surprise you what they offer. There may be an opportunity for you to receive a percentage of what you spend in cash back. Who wouldn’t benefit from that? Make sure your bank account doesn’t charge you a monthly maintenance fee. If it does, research how to waive it or get a different account.

 

7. Start Young (Its never early or late to Start)

If this applies to you, pay attention. Starting off at a young age will set you up in the future. Even if you’re working at your very first job, you can start taking the necessary steps. Apply the rules above and your savings will grow faster than you could ever anticipate.

By following these rules, you can save, pay off debt   Whether your goal is to save for a home or prepare for the future, it’s all possible with a little hard work and knowledge on your side.

Think that your credit is hopeless and that you may never be in a position to buy a home? Don’t!  There is always a way with a good plan and a good team.  We have helped so many buyers get into homes when they thought it would never be a reality for them.  We have a great team that can help you build the roadmap to get there.  Want to know more about how to get started?  Let’ Connect

Credit: NPR Public Radio – https://www.npr.org/2018/12/12/676120025/get-started-saving & http://time.com/money/4266906/save-for-new-home-tips/

Posted on January 3, 2019 at 6:23 pm
John and Tracey Tindall | Category: Costs and Spending, First Time Home Buyer, Helpful Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Home Maintenance

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!

 

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What to do

Why

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.
Image result for pruning trees and shrubs in fall Image result for air conditioners in the winter

 

For a full list of maintenance ideas as well as a printable checklist, go to our website by clicking here!

 

Posted on December 27, 2018 at 6:24 pm
John and Tracey Tindall | Category: Helpful Tips, Home & Projects | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,