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How to Keep Your House Cool Without AC

by The Schnoor Team

Want summer comfort but hate the AC? Follow these tips on how to keep your house cool without frosty air conditioning.

You don’t have to switch on the air conditioner to get a big chill this summer.

These tips will help you keep your house cool without AC, which will save energy (and avoid AC wars with your family.

Block That Sun!

When sunlight enters your house, it turns into heat. You’ll keep your house cooler if you reduce solar heat gain by keeping sunlight out.

Close the drapes: Line them with light-colored fabric that reflects the sun, and close them during the hottest part of the day. Let them pillow onto the floor to block air movement.

Add awnings: Install them on south- and west-facing windows to reduce solar heat gain by up to 77%, says the U.S. Department of Energy. Make your own by tacking up sheets outside your windows and draping the ends over a railing or lawn chair.

Install shutters: Interior and exterior shutters not only reduce heat gain and loss, but they also add security and protect against bad weather. Interior shutters with adjustable slats let you control how much sun you let in.

Apply high-reflectivity window film: Install energy-saving window films on east- and west-facing windows, which will keep you cool in summer, but let in warming sun in the winter. Mirror-like films are more effective than colored transparent films.

Open Those Windows

Be sure to open windows when the outside temperature is lower than the inside. Cool air helps lower the temps of everything — walls, floors, furniture — that will absorb heat as temps rise, helping inside air say cooler longer.

To create cross-ventilation, open windows on opposite sides of the house. Good ventilation helps reduce VOCs and prevents mold.

Fire Up Fans

Portable fans: At night, place fans in open windows to move cool air. In the day, put fans where you feel their cooling breezes (moving air evaporates perspiration and lowers your body temperature). To get extra cool, place glasses or bowls of ice water in front of fans, which will chill the moving air.

Ceiling fans: For maximum cooling effect, make sure ceiling fans spin in the direction that pushes air down, rather than sucks it up. Be sure to turn off fans when you’re not in the room, because fan motors give off heat, too.

Whole house fans: A whole-house fan ($1,000 to $1,600, including install) exhausts hot inside air out through roof vents. Make sure your windows are open when you run a whole-house fan.

Power Down Appliances

You’ll save money and reduce heat output by turning off appliances you’re not using, particularly your computer and television. Powering down multiple appliances is easier if you connect them to the same power strip.

Don’t use heat- and steam-generating appliances — ranges, ovens, washers, dryers — during the hottest part of the day. In fact, take advantage of the heat by drying clothes outside on a line.

Plant Trees and Vines

These green house-coolers shade your home’s exterior and keep sunlight out of windows. Plant them by west-facing walls, where the sun is strongest.

Deciduous trees, which leaf out in spring and drop leaves in fall, are best because they provide shade in summer, then let in sun when temperatures drop in autumn. Select trees that are native to your area, which have a better chance of surviving. When planting, determine the height, canopy width, and root spread of the mature tree and plant accordingly.

Climbing vines, such as ivy and Virginia creeper, also are good outside insulators. To prevent vine rootlets or tendrils from compromising your siding, grow them on trellises or wires about 6 inches away from the house.

Speaking of shade, here are smart, inexpensive ideas for shading your patio.

Want more tips for staying cool this summer? Substitute CFL and LED bulbs for hotter incandescent lights.

Also, try insulating your garage door to prevent heat buildup.

Source: "How to Keep Your House Cool Without AC"

Mold. UGH. Soooo Gross. Here’s How to Kill It Forever

by The Schnoor Team

By the way, bleach doesn’t work. And don’t try to scrape it off, either.

Ugh. Mold. It’s ugly. It’s tenacious. It’s the uninvited guest that keeps visiting — no matter how rude you are to it. But, unwittingly, you may be setting up the perfect conditions for mold’s return: a food source, lots of moisture, and a pleasant temperature.

“You’ve got to eliminate one of those three legs of the stool so mold won’t grow,” says Pete Duncanson, director of system development for ServiceMaster Restore. “And it’s always easier to prevent than to remediate.”

Assuming you like warm showers and a comfy thermostat setting, there’s not much you can do about the temperature mold loves. But you can get rid of mold — and permanently prevent it — by controlling the other two factors: food and moisture. Here’s how.

Starve It Out

Mold is a horror flick cliché. It’s everywhere. It’s alive. It spreads by spores floating in the air. And it can grow on any surface — porcelain, plastic, copper, silicone — as long as that surface is coated with organic matter.

“Mold doesn’t live on your shower walls or the grout or caulk; it actually lives on the deposited skin cells and soap residues (which have your skin cells in them),” Duncanson says. So. Gross. So, yes, if you want to get rid of mold you gotta break out the cleaning bucket. There’s no way around it. But the good news is that you don’t need toxic cleaners. Soap and water works just fine with some elbow grease, says Bob Justewicz, a director at the National Association of Mold Professionals. But two warnings:

  1. Don’t bleach it. Online chat rooms and myriad websites might have you believe that bleach kills mold. Both professionals say it’s not true. “Bleach or peroxide removes the stain, but they don’t kill the mold,” Duncanson says.
  2. Don’t scrape it. Remember, mold is alive (it’s ALIVE!) and reproduces through microscopic spores. “If you brush [mold spores] with your hand, they just go into the air and look for new places to colonize,” Duncanson says.

What about those daily shower sprays? Will they work? They are of some benefit, says Duncanson, in that they help push mold’s food sources down the drain. But as a solo act, no, they won’t keep your bathroom clean.

Dry It Out

How? Use your exhaust fan. “Running the fan any time the bathroom is in use is a good idea,” Duncanson says. “Then leave it on for 30 minutes after or at least as long as the shower ran.”

But make sure your fan actually exhausts outside through the roof or a side soffit and not into the attic. “If it’s going into the attic, you’re causing moisture to go into an unconditioned space, and you can cause mold growth there.”

No exhaust fan? “Any movement of air will help dry out the bathroom,” says Justewicz. “Even a desk fan on the vanity will help.”

After a shower, use a towel or squeegee to wipe down shower walls. Open the shower curtain to let it dry. Mop any water spills on the floor and counters. Avoid piling in too many shampoo and body wash bottles. They’re a perfect place for moisture and mold spores to hide.

Make It Stay Away

Here are a few more tips if your bathroom mold seems especially strong-willed:

Re-caulk. Mold adores crevices — probably because it knows you can’t reach it there. If lots of mold has built up on your caulking, it’s probably because it’s spread deep into unseen spaces behind it. If so, re-caulking may solve the problem. Just be sure to follow these tips to keep the problem from getting worse:

  1. Once you’ve removed the compromised caulk, be sure to thoroughly clean and dry the area before putting down new caulk.
  2. Use caulk labeled specifically for the bathroom, which means it will be mold resistant.
  3. Let it cure for at least 24 hours (or as long as it needs to) before taking a shower or bath. If it’s not dry, it’ll allow moisture to creep back in, undoing all your hard work.

Check everywhere for mold. If it keeps coming back, it may have a colony somewhere you haven’t found. Check behind the toilet and under the sink. Moist drywall and wallpaper are tasty treats for mold.

Install a humidity monitor. Affordable at around $10, they can let you know when moisture is building before it turns into an indoor rain forest.

Know when to get help. If it keeps coming back, or you see areas of mold the size of a quarter or bigger you want professional help. “You’re dealing with excessive moisture or a food source that needs to be controlled,” Duncanson says.

How to Get Rid of Bathroom Mold

  1. Use soap and water, not bleach. Bleach only discolors it; it does not get rid of mold.
  2. Keep your bathroom as dry as possible. Use squeegees on shower walls and doors. Use an exhaust fan religiously. Wipe wet areas with dry towels.
  3. Recaulk your tile if necessary. Be sure to get caulk that is meant for humid and wet areas, like bathrooms.
  4. Get a humidity monitor to let you know when moisture is building up to mold-friendly levels.

​​Source: "Mold. UGH. Soooo Gross. Here’s How to Kill It Forever"

Kitchen Color Schemes: How to Avoid Kitschy Colors

by The Schnoor Team

The timeless beauty of versatile hues.

The kitchen is the heart of the household, a place where you prepare meals and make memories. So it only makes sense that your kitchen’s color scheme reflects your unique tastes and personality, right?

The answer to that is yes — and no.

Although there may be a special hue that gets your heart thumping, there are many reasons why it makes sense to opt for a neutral palette in your kitchen. Many design professionals agree that using shades like white, beige, or gray as the foundation for your kitchen not only open up a spectrum of colorful possibilities, but enhance the value of your home.

The Never-Regret Factor

“Timeless colors are perfect, whether for resale or for your dream home,” says Jackie Jordan, Dallas-based director of color marketing for Sherwin-Williams. “Your kitchen won’t suffer from this-looks-like-it-was-done-in-the-90s comments if you opt for a neutral palette.”

“It’s a space where potential buyers envision themselves spending a lot of time,” agrees Sue Pelley, spokesperson for Decorating Den Interiors in Easton, Md. Thus, although you may believe your purple cabinets are divine, others may think they’re dreadful. And that, she says, can be a real barrier to a sale.

The Versatility of Neutrals

But does going soft and natural mean you have to stifle your inner Van Gogh? Not a chance.

“A neutral kitchen is the perfect canvas to personalize as your tastes change,” says Jordan. “It gives you the opportunity to accessorize with fun rugs, dinnerware — even just a fresh vase of flowers to liven things up.”

“I love being able to change moods with colors, often inspired by the changing seasons,” says Wendy F. Johnson, a certified kitchen and bath designer based in Manchester Village, Vt. “Neutrals can provide the base for a huge range of related or contrasting colors to be used with them, from bright and saturated to peaceful, muted hues.”

Texture also adds enormous impact to a neutral kitchen. A combination of materials from rough to smooth and matte to high gloss creates visual contrast and reflects light differently throughout the day, says Johnson. “For example, you can mix barn wood walls and satin painted drywall, white oak cabinetry with glass insets, lustrous concrete countertops with a stone tile backsplash. These might all be in the same tones, but there is nothing boring here.”

Using Color to Complement Your Kitchen's Size

Your kitchen’s square footage is another important factor to consider when choosing a color palette. If the space is small, opt for paler hues for cabinets, walls, and countertops. Shades of white, bone, or cream reflect light and help a tiny kitchen feel brighter and more spacious.

Neutrals are also a great choice for kitchens that open up to other rooms, notes Pelley. “If your kitchen is part of a great room design, remember that any new paint will need to work with the color schemes in those rooms, too.”

Non-Permanent Ways to Add Pops of Color

Rather than committing to a single color scheme, a neutral kitchen lets you sample the rainbow. One option is to choose coordinating window treatments and chair cushions to liven up the space, says Johnson. An eye-catching poster, multihued area rug, or a collection of pottery displayed on a shelf all add personality to your kitchen and are easy to change when you’re ready for something new.

Paint is another low-cost way to incorporate a pop or two of color into a neutral room. You can grab a brush and paint your kitchen chairs or counter stools, or add a bright hue to the interior of a glass cabinet. Ready for something bigger? Consider rolling a bold shade on a single wall to create lively contrast in an otherwise single-color space.

Top Neutral Color Schemes

Neutrals may be timeless, but there are some combinations that look especially fresh. “I love warm grays and whites — always have,” says Johnson. “There are so many natural materials available in these tones that mix together beautifully, and all colors look gorgeous against this type of palette.”

Sherwin-Williams’ Jordan also favors white and light grays in a kitchen. “It’s a sleek and modern combination that works perfectly with the ever-popular stainless steel appliances and subway tile.”

When it comes to a big-ticket item like a kitchen, it makes sense to choose a palette that will endure for the long term, says Johnson. “Those of us who thrive in colorful surroundings will groan at this, but even we need some soft, peaceful environments sometimes.”

Source: "Kitchen Color Schemes: How to Avoid Kitschy Colors"

5 ‘Gotta-Dos’ In April for a Worry-Free Summer

by The Schnoor Team

 

Battle bugs before they bite (or sting!) you — and check the attic for problems.

Tackling five simple tasks now gives you a head start on spring.

That leaves you plenty of worry-free time to enjoy the warmer weather.

#1 Tell Insects to Bug Off

Early spring warmth awakens insects, so start to protect your home now. Seal openings in eaves, decks, and other structures to keep out carpenter bees.

Nix mosquitoes by eliminating standing water or treating it with larvicide. Call a pro to destroy wasp and yellow jacket nests, unless you’re experienced enough to engage in a bee battle.

#2 Prep Tools for Lawn Care

Ladies and gentlemen, start your mowers. April’s the month to get this vital piece of equipment ready to roll. An unmaintained machine can cost money, slow you down, and leave your lawn vulnerable to disease. So, before you pull the starter rope:

Replace spark plugs and the air filter.

Change the oil and sharpen blades.

Fill the tank with fresh gasoline.

While you’ve got your gloves on, clean, sharpen, and repair your garden tools. When your azaleas are ready to prune, you’re not going to want to keep them waiting.

#3 Tune Up the Air Conditioner

With flip-flop weather comes another summer tradition: cranking up the air conditioning. Tune your AC in April, before the mercury and service rates rise.

Ask your HVAC company if they have a twice-a-year maintenance plan. Often, you can get discounted rates if you join, and you don’t have to worry about finding someone to do it each spring and fall.

Now you only have to worry about which pair of Havaianas to wear.

#4 Check the Attic (and Garage)

How long has it been since you looked in the attic? Yeah, us too.

April’s the time to inspect this oft-ignored space — before it gets too hot. Look for signs of animal activity (raccoons love attics), and repair or replace damaged insulation or wiring.

Ensure stored items are still secure; tighten container lids and dust covers and replace moth repellants.

While we’re talking storage, how’s the garage? If soccer balls, bikes, and luggage have taken prime parking space, regain control with a storage system. Your car (and your partner) will thank you.

#5 Clean Up Bird Feeders

Besides spreading diseases to birds, dirty bird feeders attract rodents and hurt curb appeal. Gross.

Give your bird feeders a deep clean — not just a rinse-out.

Empty them, take them apart, and wash with a solution of one part bleach to nine parts hot water. Rinse well to remove all traces of bleach, air dry, and refill with seed.

Clean under feeders, too, because moldy or spoiled seed on the ground can make pets sick. Don’t forget the bird bath.

A pretty yard that’s a healthy haven for birds makes a good impression — one that says “this is a well-cared-for home.”


Source: http://pexels.com/search/home organization/

KELLEY WALTERS

is a Southern writer and editor. She focuses on interior design and home improvement at outlets from HGTV to Paintzen. She lives in Italy a month every year, drinking Negronis and writing in internet cafes.

5 Awesomely Easy Landscaping Projects

by The Schnoor Team

 

It’s your yard — yours to do with as you wish. And while that’s great, that doesn’t mean you have to be one of those people who spends every spare moment in their yard, sprucing it up.

But, still, your landscaping could use a little something. But something easy.

Here are five totally doable projects that your budget will barely notice, but your neighbors definitely will:

#1 Add Some (Tough) Edging

Tell your grass who’s boss with edging that can stand up to even the crabbiest of all crabgrasses.

But don’t make the mistake that many homeowners make of buying the flexible plastic stuff, thinking it will be easier to install. It’ll look cheap and amateurish from day one.

Worse, it won’t last. And before you know it, you won’t be able to tell where your garden bed ends and your “lawn” begins.

Instead buy the more rigid, tough stuff in either fiberglass, aluminum, or steel.

Tips on installing edging:

Lay out a hose in the pattern you want.

Sprinkle flour or powdered chalk to mark the hose pattern.

Use a lawn edger (or spade) to make an incision for the edging.

Tap the edging into the incision with a rubber mallet.

The cost? Mostly your time, and up to $2.50 a square foot for the edging.

#2 Create a Focal Point with a Berm

Berm built in front yardImage: Jon Jenks-Bauer

A berm is a mound of gently sloping earth, often created to help with drainage. You can also build them to create “island beds,” a focal point of textures and colors that are so much more interesting than plain ol’ green grass.

Plus, they’ll give you privacy — and diffuse street noises. What’s not to like about that? Especially if you live in more urban areas.

For most yards, berms should max out at 2-feet high because of the space needed to properly build one.

They need a ratio of 4-6 feet of width for every foot of height. That’s at least 8 feet for a typical 2-foot high berm. So be sure you have the room, or decrease the height of your berm.

Popular berm plantings include:

Flowering bushes, such as azaleas

Evergreens, such as blue spruce

Perennials such as periwinkle

Tall, swaying prairie grasses

Lots of mulch to keep weeds away

The cost?  Usually less than $300, depending on how big you make it, how much soil you need to buy to get to your desired height, and what plants you choose.


#3 Make a Flagstone Wall

Aim to build a wall no more than 12 inches tall, and it becomes a super simple DIY project — no mortar needed at all!   

How to build an easy flagstone wall:

Dig a trench a couple of inches deep and wide enough to accommodate the flagstones.

Fill with pea gravel and/or sand and tamp to make level.

Lay out the flagstones to see their shapes and sizes.

Stack the smaller stones first.

Save the largest, prettiest flagstones for the top layer.

Backfill with gravel.

Choose a stone of consistent thickness. Flagstone might be limestone, sandstone, shale — any rock that splits into slabs.

The cost? About $300 for stones and sand (a ton of 2-inch-thick stone is enough for a wall 10 feet long and 12 inches high).

 #4 Install a Path with Flagstone or Gravel

There’s something romantic, charming, and simply welcoming about a meandering pathway to your front door or back garden — which means it has super-huge impact when it comes to your home’s curb appeal.

You can use flagstone, pea gravel, decomposed or crushed granite, even poured concrete (although that’s not easy to DIY).

A few tips for building a pathway:

Allow 3 feet of width for clearance.

Create curves rather than straight lines for a pleasing effect.

Remove sod at least 3 to 4 inches deep to keep grass from coming back.

If you live in an area with heavy rains, opt for large, heavy stones.

The cost? Anywhere from a couple of hundred bucks to upwards of $500 depending on the material you use, with decomposed granite being the least expensive, and flagstone (also the easiest of the bunch to install) the costliest.

#5 Build a Tree Surround

Stone tree surroundImage: Clean Green Landscape

Installing a masonry surround for a tree is a two-fer project: It looks great, and it means you’ve got less to mow. Come to think of it, it’s a three-fer. It can work as extra seating when you have your lawn party, too!

All it takes is digging a circular trench, adding some sand, and installing brick, cement blocks, or stone. Just go for whatever look you like best.

The trickiest part is getting an even circle around the tree. Here’s how:

Tie a rope around the tree, making a loop big enough so that when you pull it taut against the tree, the outer edge of the loop is right where you want the surround to be.

Set your spade inside the loop with the handle plumb — straight up and down. Now, as you move around the tree, the loop of rope keeps the spade exactly the same distance from the base of the tree, creating a nice circle.

Then build the tree surround:

Dig out a circular trench about 8 inches deep and 6 inches wide.

Add a layer of sand.

Set bricks at an angle for a saw-tooth effect or lay them end-to-end.

Fill the surround with 2 to 3 inches of mulch.

The cost? Super cheap. You can do it for less than $25 with commonly-available pavers and stones.

Source: https://www.houselogic.com/by-room/yard-patio/easy-landscaping-projects/?site_ref=mosaic

 

Spring Cleaning Guide If You Love, Love, LOVE Houseplants

by The Schnoor Team

An outdoor shower and dirt massage will do wonders.

You like having a clean house, and you LOVE having a green house. But a trail of dead leaves on the floor isn’t a good look no matter what.

This plan will help keep your home clean and green, while helping your plants stay healthy, too.

Give Plants a Spring Check-Up

Use a magnifying glass to check for bugs. Look for the marks they leave, like scarring, a cotton-like “fluff,” or webbing. (Hint: The undersides of leaves are a favorite hiding spot.) A few applications of a standard houseplant insecticide should take care of the critters.

Trim yellow and dead leaves. ”Aesthetically, plants look nicer without dead or dying leaves,” says Liza Wheeler, an “interior landscaping artist.” And creating a clean, green slate will make it easier to spot new problems as they arise, she says.

Massage the dirt to break it up. “The soil can get kind of cruddy from watering, so breaking it up makes it look cleaner,” Wheeler says. “It also helps aerate the soil slightly.”

Give them an outdoor shower. A little fresh air and a drizzly spring day — or a gentle spray from the hose — will help plants shake off the dust and cobwebs of winter. Don’t forget to wipe off the saucers and exteriors of pots.

Clean the Areas in Your Home That Your Plants Cover Up

Moisture and dirt can find their way out of pots and onto your floor, countertop, or shelf.

While your plants are drying outside after their shower,

clean the spots where they sit, checking for any damage, which could be caused by a cracked pot. Also clean any walls and baseboards that your greenery hides.

Clean the Windows

Crystal-clear windows allow more sunlight to reach plant leaves, fostering photosynthesis and respiration, freshening your indoor air. Besides clean windows make the entire home feel fresh and bright.

Organize Your Plant Supplies and Tools

Make lovin’ on your plants easier with some simple organizing solutions:

  • Do some organizing and purging to clear space in a cabinet or on a shelf to keep all your supplies together and easily accessible.
  • Stow frequently used items like a spray bottle and fertilizer in an easy-to-carry cleaning caddy.

Source: https://www.houselogic.com/organize-maintain/cleaning-decluttering/house-plant-care/?site_ref=mosaic

AMY HOWELL HIRT

has written about home design for 13 years. Her work has been published by outlets including “The Home Depot,” “USA Today,” and Yahoo! Homes. She previously served as home and garden writer and columnist for “The Cincinnati Enquirer.”

5 ‘Gotta-Dos’ In April for a Worry-Free Summer

by The Schnoor Team

Battle bugs before they bite (or sting!) you — and check the attic for problems.

#1 Tell Insects to Bug Off

Early spring warmth awakens insects, so start to protect your home now. Seal openings in eaves, decks, and other structures to keep out carpenter bees.

Nix mosquitoes by eliminating standing water or treating it with larvicide. Call a pro to destroy wasp and yellow jacket nests, unless you’re experienced enough to engage in a bee battle.

#2 Prep Tools for Lawn Care

Ladies and gentlemen, start your mowers. April’s the month to get this vital piece of equipment ready to roll. An unmaintained machine can cost money, slow you down, and leave your lawn vulnerable to disease. So, before you pull the starter rope: 

 

Replace spark plugs and the air filter.

Change the oil and sharpen blades.

Fill the tank with fresh gasoline.

While you’ve got your gloves on, clean, sharpen, and repair your garden tools. When your azaleas are ready to prune, you’re not going to want to keep them waiting.

#3 Tune Up the Air Conditioner
   
With flip-flop weather comes another summer tradition: cranking up the air conditioning. Tune your AC in April, before the mercury and service rates rise.

Ask your HVAC company if they have a twice-a-year maintenance plan. Often, you can get discounted rates if you join, and you don’t have to worry about finding someone to do it each spring and fall.

Now you only have to worry about which pair of Havaianas to wear.

#4 Check the Attic (and Garage)

How long has it been since you looked in the attic? Yeah, us too.

April’s the time to inspect this oft-ignored space — before it gets too hot. Look for signs of animal activity (raccoons love attics), and repair or replace damaged insulation or wiring.

Ensure stored items are still secure; tighten container lids and dust covers and replace moth repellants.

While we’re talking storage, how’s the garage? If soccer balls, bikes, and luggage have taken prime parking space, regain control with a storage system. Your car (and your partner) will thank you.

#5 Clean Up Bird Feeders
   
Besides spreading diseases to birds, dirty bird feeders attract rodents and hurt curb appeal. Gross.

Give your bird feeders a deep clean — not just a rinse-out.

Empty them, take them apart, and wash with a solution of one part bleach to nine parts hot water. Rinse well to remove all traces of bleach, air dry, and refill with seed.

Clean under feeders, too, because moldy or spoiled seed on the ground can make pets sick. Don’t forget the bird bath.

A pretty yard that’s a healthy haven for birds makes a good impression — one that says “this is a well-cared-for home.”

Source: https://www.houselogic.com/organize-maintain/home-maintenance-tips/when-to-spray-for-bugs/

KELLEY WALTERS
is a Southern writer and editor. She focuses on interior design and home improvement at outlets from HGTV to Paintzen. She lives in Italy a month every year, drinking Negronis and writing in internet cafes. 

How to Rent Your Home

by The Schnoor Team

 

Step-by-step directions for getting the highest possible rent and the best tenants when you rent your home.

Whether you plan to turn your home into a rental property, or if you purchased a property specially as a rental property, the steps for finding a tenant are the same. You’ll need to:

  • Check local laws.
  • Get yourself the right paperwork.
  • Price the property to appeal to renters.
  • Vet the people who want to move in.

Regardless of whether you manage the rental yourself or hire a professional real estate manager, you’ll earn top dollar from your investment property by following these 10 steps:

1. Make sure you’re allowed to rent the property.

If you live in a homeowners association, check for rental restrictions and find out if local government requires a rental license or inspection. A professional property manager will know the local laws, but may not know your HOA’s rules.

2. Know the local eviction laws.

Talk to a real estate attorney or your professional property manager to find out how the eviction process works in your area. In some places, you can remove a non-paying tenant within a month, but in others, it can take months and months — during which you’re not being paid.

3. Establish the rent.

Do market research to set your rental price. See what similar homes are renting for on Craigslist, in the local newspaper, and on the local multiple listing service. If you allow pets, compare pet-friendly properties’ prices. If you have a REALTOR® managing your rental, she will show you comparable prices.

4. Do your rental home paperwork.

You’ll need to set up these finance and legal items before you rent your home:

Apply for any rental licenses your local jurisdiction or community association requires.

Open a savings account to hold the security deposit. Most states require deposits be held in a separate account rather than an account where you keep your own money.

Purchase a landlord’s insurance policy.

If you’re doing your own property management:

Open an account with a company that does credit and criminal history background checks on prospective tenants.

Have a local real estate attorney draft a lease and a rental application for you.

Set the minimum credit score, credit history, and income you’ll take. In an upscale community, you can demand a credit score of 720 or higher and no late payments (that’s stellar credit), but in a low-income area where tenants are often unskilled laborers and therefore more at risk of unemployment, expect to reduce that to 620 and no late-rent payments.

The tenants should have income of about three times the rent. So if your place rents for $1,000 a month, look for at least $3,000 a month in income.

5. Photograph your home with your furniture in it.

Stage and take pictures of the rooms before the first tenants move in. That way, if your current tenants have awful decorating taste or are clutter bugs, you can use your pictures to show your house in its best condition when searching for new tenants.

6. Advertise everywhere you can.

If you’re in a college town, contact the university’s housing office.

If there’s a large employer within walking distance of your home, contact its employee relocation division to see if it posts rental listings.

Sites such as Craigslist offer free ads, but watch out for check scammers who answer your ad along with the legit renters. A REALTOR® can help you post your property in the local multiple listing service.

These last four steps apply if you’re showing the property yourself, rather than having a REALTOR® find tenants for your rental:

7. Group showings into one or two days per week.

When you respond to prospective tenants, showing the house every day wastes your time and annoys your current tenants. Having multiple groups viewing the property at the same time will make prospective tenants realize they could lose the place if they don’t make an offer.

A Friday night showing gives you a jump on the landlords doing Saturday showings. Follow up with a Sunday showing to catch everyone who couldn’t make Friday night.

8. Get your deposit ducks in a row.

Get an application, a deposit check equal to at least one month’s rent, and a signed lease from everyone who wants to rent your place. Process them in the order in which you received them. You’ll cash the check and sign the lease back to them only after their background and credit checks come back clean and you’ve verified income and employment.

Anyone who won’t give you a deposit check isn’t a serious applicant, so don’t waste your time vetting them.

9. Verify everything the tenant says on the application.

You’ll definitely want to weed out prospective tenants who give you a cell number that’s answered by a friend pretending to be the applicant’s employer or landlord.

Look up the phone number for the employer and verify employment and income with someone in human resources.

If you can, call your prospective tenants’ previous landlord — not the one they currently have. If they’re bad tenants, their current landlord may tell you they’re wonderful — just to get rid of them.

Call the bank branch listed on the deposit check and verify that there are sufficient funds in the account to cover the check.

10. Take the first tenant that meets your income and credit requirements.

If you don’t, you risk violating Fair Housing Laws. The credit checking company will give you the paperwork you must send to anyone who fails the credit check. Call everyone else who wanted your house promptly so they can move on.

Source: https://www.houselogic.com/home-thoughts/how-rent-your-home/

DONA DEZUBE

has been writing about real estate for more than two decades. She lives in a suburban Baltimore Midcentury modest home on a 3-acre lot shared with possums, raccoons, foxes, a herd of deer, and her blue-tick hound.

Spring Cleaning List

by The Schnoor Team

 

Don’t you just love that feeling you get when you check items off a list? Get that adrenaline going with our spring cleaning list.

Spring cleaning isn’t quite the ritual it once was, but there’s still a basic human need to open up and spruce up our homes when the weather gets warmer.

To help you scratch your itch to spring clean, we’ve put together a spring cleaning list for those pieces and parts of your home that are most neglected throughout the year. Plus, we’ve added tips to make the chores easier.

Before you begin: Turn up the tunes with our Spotify spring cleaning playlist. Now you’re ready to tackle your spring cleaning list:

Walls: Dust your walls with your vacuum brush attachment, then clean using an all-purpose cleaner and rinse. Repair your walls by patching holes and dings and touching up paint.

TIP: Don’t use a spray cleaner, which will only leave streaks on your walls. Soak a cloth in cleaner, then wipe. To rinse, follow up with a clean cloth soaked in plain water.

Baseboards: Dust with a microfiber cloth or use your vacuum brush attachment, then spray with an all-purpose cleaner and wipe clean.

TIP: Clean your baseboards after you clean your floors since cleaning floors tends to kick debris up onto baseboards.

Windows: Use a microfiber cloth soaked in a solution of ¼ cup vinegar, ¼ to ½ teaspoon dish soap, and 2 cups water.

TIP: Don’t be tempted to use more vinegar. Too much can make windows appear cloudy.

Window screens: To deep clean your window screens, you should remove them. Place outside on a tarp or other clean waterproof surface, then use a garden hose, an all-purpose cleaner, and a soft brush (gently on the screen) to clean. Repair any torn window screens.

TIP: When removing your screens and hardware, label their location as you go to make re-installing them a breeze.

Shelves: Remove all items from shelves, and dust both the items and the shelves.

TIP: Use museum putty to secure items that tend to fall over, especially if you live in earthquake-prone areas.

Driveway: Use a pressure washer to give your driveway (and garage floor) a good cleaning. It’s amazing what a difference a sparkling driveway makes to your home’s curb appeal.

TIP: Try using Coke or Pepsi to remove oil and grease stains. It’ll take a little elbow grease, too, but the acidity of dark colas helps remove oil stains, as well as other tough stains, such as rust.

Siding: Using warm, soapy water and a soft-bristled brush attached to a long handle, clean your home in sections small enough to keep soapy water from drying before you can rinse.

TIP: Pressure washers can make the job go easier, but if you’re a power-washer newbie, you risk stripping off paint or damaging your siding. Try one of the newer, lighter, electric power washers, which are easier to handle, or stick with the old-fashioned method. Either way, wash from the bottom up to help prevent streaking.

Upholstery: Vacuum your sofas and chairs. Spot clean or steam clean as needed. Freshen dusty pillows, throws, and curtains by tossing them in the dryer on low or no heat. Or, take them outside on a nice day to fluff and bask in the sun as an energy-saving alternative.

TIP: To spot clean, use “whipped detergent” — a mixture of half dish soap and half water. Beat to a froth. Soak a cloth in the mixture, wash the stain, then rinse with a cloth soaked in fresh water.

Ceiling fans: Spray the inside of an old pillowcase with cleaning solution, then slip the bag over each blade and wipe clean.

TIP: Before you go up a ladder to clean your ceiling fan, check to see if the fan is turning in the right direction to keep your home cool. If you feel a breeze underneath the blades when turned on, your fan is set for summer. If you don’t feel a breeze, change the direction.

Air conditioners: Change your air conditioner filter, or clean it by soaking it in a vinegar-and-water solution for 1 to 4 hours (depending on how long it’s been since you last cleaned). Let dry completely before replacing.

TIP: Let the filter dry outside in bright sunshine to kill bacteria and to help remove odors.


Source: https://www.houselogic.com/organize-maintain/home-maintenance-tips/spring-cleaning-list/

LARA EDGE

has bought four homes, sold three, and downsized into an urban home less than half the square footage of her old one. She has 20 years of editing experience, most recently at HGTV, which inspired her to do some DIY, and to know when it pays to hire a pro.

How to Spring Clean If You’d Rather Play With Your Kids Instead

by The Schnoor Team

 

The key is to focus on the things your kids touch. Oh, and throw a party.

Ah, the guilt of parenthood: Your kiddos deserve real QT, but also a clean home.

Since there are only so many hours in a day, this spring cleaning plan hits the hot spots that tiny ones tend to find, so your fam can get back to the fun in a clean (if chaotic) space.

Clean Soft Surfaces

Kids are all over carpets, couch cushions, pillows, and duvets, and somehow even curtains (is that … peanut butter?).

These dirt-collecting materials need a deep-cleaning to get rid of allergy-causing dust, food particles, and all the general eww that little hands smear around.

Wash throws, pillow covers, and (most) pillows in the washer. Use a steam cleaner (or hire a pro) for carpet and upholstery. Some curtains may require dry cleaning (always a good idea to check the tag to see what the manufacturer recommends).

Then notice how your whole home feels and smells infinitely cleaner.

Involve Kids in a Purge Party

Kids can accumulate a staggering amount of toys and doodads. Help them sort through what they can donate: They’ll learn the value of decluttering, helping others, and taking care of a house. Also: less stuff.

“The benefit for parents is that they can spend more quality time with their children because they aren’t spending all of their time cleaning and organizing,” says Alyssa Trosclair, a professional organizer with Centsibly Organized.

Hit the Undersides of Tables, Counters

Wipe off the bottoms of high-chair trays, the dining table, and the underside of countertops ledges, where sticky stuff often festers, missed during daily wipe-downs — but easily accessible to tiny hands.

While you’re at it, pull apart any tables with leaves and wipe down the cracks. You may find enough crumbs to make the grossest loaf of bread ever.

Clean Low-Lying Surfaces

The track of a sliding door is a sterile place to stash your pacifier, right? Little ones sure think so.

Cleaning door thresholds, baseboards, as well as the lower portions of doors, walls, and furniture is important when you’ve got crawling and toddling hands in the household. Oh, and don’t forget the floor registers.

Do a Size Check on Winter Clothing

Puffy coats, wool hats, scarves, gloves, and ginormous snow suits practically need their own house. And that’s not counting those 2-inch-thick sweaters. Purge the items you know won’t fit a fast-growing child next year, and clean the rest.

Because when the first big snowfall hits, kids won’t want to wait while you wash their crusty hat from last season.

Don't Forget Door Knobs, Light Switches, Etc.

Light switches, door knobs, cabinet handles, and remotes are some of the germiest places in your house. Cleaning them might be the most consequential to-do on your spring cleaning list.

Source: https://www.houselogic.com/organize-maintain/cleaning-decluttering/cleaning-with-kids-in-the-house/?site_ref=mosaic

AMY HOWELL HIRT

has written about home design for 13 years. Her work has been published by outlets including “The Home Depot,” “USA Today,” and Yahoo! Homes. She previously served as home and garden writer and columnist for “The Cincinnati Enquirer.”

 

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