Garage Storage and Organization

I’m going to give you a few hints and you guess what room in this Greater Oklahoma City home I’m talking about, ok?  Here we go.

There’s six basketballs of various sizes and various air pressure filling an old mini refrigerator’s empty cardboard box in one corner and a set of circa 1970 golf clubs your husband is unwilling to part with in another.  There’s a leaning forest of shovels, brooms, rakes, and lengths of two-by-four propped precariously in a third.  Along one wall you might find a toolbox, a couple parked bicycles, one of your children’s science experiments from years ago, and a broken-down snow blower.  Oh, and by the way, before you guess there’s a car parked in the center of the floor, guess again.  The car’s outside on the driveway because there’s no more available space in this room.

You’re right, it’s your garage.  Here are some quick tips for garage organization to help you free up some space and get your vehicle back inside where it belongs:

  1. Storage.  Use bins, hooks, and cabinets and shelving to get your garage gear picked up, put away, and off the floor.  Cabinets and shelves help you clear floor space and allow you to put belongings that you don’t use very often like camping equipment during the winter, or holiday decorations during the summer up and out of the way.  Hooks are great for hanging everything from tools to bicycles along walls.  There are even hook and lift systems for storage of bicycles directly overhead.  And remember the good old peg board system of storing hand tools?  It works as well today as it has for the last hundred years.
  2. Purge.  We’ve covered this one before.  The first step is to go through and throw out items that are garbage and really have no future use.  Why not have a garage sale in your, well, garage.  Talk your husband into getting rid of both the 40 year-old golf clubs and the snow blower that’s only good for parts.  You’ll be amazed just how much space you have after a garage sale.  Or better yet, make a donation!
  3. Label containers. Whether you’re using Rubbermaid plastic tubs, old tin Folgers coffee cans, or cardboard boxes label containers so when you’re looking for a deflated basketball it’s easy to find.

Interior Spring Maintenance Check

Last time we talked about the spring exterior home maintenance check for your Greater Oklahoma City home.  As with the checklist for the outside of the home, today’s interior checklist is designed to help you discover minor issues requiring attention before they turn into major, costly repairs.  Here’s our short checklist for your home’s interior.

  1. Attic.  Not just overlooked, but often forgotten is your attic.  Take more than a quick peak overhead to make sure there are no water spots or other evidence of leaks and roof damage.  Check also for bird nests, mouse droppings, insects or other signs that any critters have moved into the space.  If you’re seeing evidence of unwanted visitors find out how they’re getting in, seal off the ingress point, and call an exterminator if you need help in moving your unwanted guests out.
  2. Furnace/AC blower.  Just like it’s necessary to clean the air conditioner outside you want to clean/service the furnace and blower unit inside.  This helps keep cleaner air circulating through your home and contributes to a longer life for your furnace.
  3. Smoke detectors and battery backups.  Clean any dust and spider webs away from smoke detectors with a vacuum cleaner attachment.  Replace battery backups periodically according to the unit’s directions.  Plug your ears and test the system.
  4. Sump pump.  Make sure the sump pump is working correctly, and consider installing a backup, battery operated pump if power outages during rainstorms are common in your area.

Exterior Spring Maintenance Check

Now that spring is here in beautiful Greater Oklahoma City it’s a good time to send out a reminder to complete those regular home maintenance checks that often get overlooked and sometimes forgotten altogether.  Spring maintenance is always a great opportunity to review the general health of your home, inside and out, and to make sure everything is in proper working order for the year ahead.  One of the benefits of completing the spring maintenance check is you will often discover smaller, easily missed repair needs before they become larger, more expensive issues.  Here’s a quick spring-time home exterior maintenance checklist for the do-it-yourselfer:

  1. Clean air conditioner.  Cleaning the A/C unit will ensure not only cleaner air circulation inside your home, but it will help the unit run more efficiently while increasing its longevity.
  2. Clean out gutters and downspouts.  You have probably already taken care of leaves in your gutters back in the fall, that is if “leaves in the gutters” are a yearly issue for you.  If not now’s a good time to get the ladder out and double check there are no other obstacles obstructing water flow from your roof like tennis balls, Frisbees, etc.  Once clean, installing gutter guards is a great option to help keep your gutters debris free.  Check also to make sure water does not leak between gutters and soffits, an issue that can contribute to water damage, rot and mold.
  3. Check roofing for leaks, needed repairs.  Unless you’re replacing the entire roof, damaged individual roof shingles, wood shakes, or tiles are cheap repairs as long as they’re dealt with in a timely fashion.  Put the job off too long and you’re likely to discover leaks, water damage, and more costly issues inside the home down the line.
  4. Lawn drainage.  Ensure rainwater drains away from your foundation by checking that the surrounding ground slopes away from your home.  This one ties in closely with downspouts that may be tied into buried landscape drainage systems.  Check the entire system and clear away any potential clogs.

Next time we’ll talk about spring-time interior home maintenance.

Moore, Oklahoma Tornado

The devastation that happened Monday when a tornado swept through our friends, family, and neighbors in Moore, Oklahoma will have long term consequences.  Those affected by the storm have years of rebuilding ahead of them.  Many will be in mourning.  Please help the families impacted by the tornado by contributing to a reputable charity like the Red Cross.  Visit the Central and Western Oklahoma regional Red Cross page to make a donation and to learn other ways in which you can help the relief effort.

Sod vs. Seed

Money, time, terrain, variety.  These are the primary considerations when you’re debating whether to go with seed or sod for the brand new lawn you’re planning.  With money and time it comes down to which one you have more of.  Another way to look would be to ask yourself which one you’re more willing to part with to get that lush green lawn.  Terrain and variety?  Unless you’re also shopping for a new Greater Oklahoma City home to go with that new lawn then you’re going to have to work with what you got.  The last is simple personal preference.  Let’s take a look:

  1. Money.  It costs approximately $20 to seed 1,000 square feet.  To sod a like sized area will cost you $350 or more.  Advantage: seed.
  2. Time.  Do you want to spend a day up front installing your new sod, or three to four months waiting, closely monitoring and nurturing seed until it grows into your dream lawn?  Advantage: sod.
  3. Terrain.  Does your yard have hard to reach or navigate areas like steep slopes, or hills?  Do you have an irregular perimeter requiring puzzle placement of sod along curvy areas of stone, mulch, or other yard obstacles?  The advantage here is a wash if your yard is mostly right angles, but quickly leans toward seed the more numerous and creative your existing lawn features and terrain.
  4. Variety.  The easy edge here goes to seed.  There are many more varieties of seed available in any geographic location than there are sod.

Red Carpet Stains

Whether you own or rent, the three most common red carpet stains in your Greater Oklahoma City home are ketchup, red wine, and blood.  Three different stains, three slightly different methods of clean-up.  As with any stain removal strategy you need to know the material of the rug you’re working with.  Here we go:

  1. Ketchup, barbeque sauce, and tomato sauce all fall into the same category regarding clean-up strategy.  First you want to take a butter knife or similar utensil to carefully scrape up the excess sauce.  Next, use a clean kitchen towel to blot (not wipe) up any remaining excess sauce.  Mix ¼ teaspoon mild detergent with a liter of warm water to make your cleaning solution.  Dampen a clean cloth with the solution and set it over the stain.  Use a table spoon to massage the cloth over the stain, working from the outside in to prevent the stain from spreading.  Using a water sprayer rinse the stain and blot up excess liquid.  Place another clean cloth over the stain, then place a phone book or other heavy object on top of the cloth, and let set for a few hours to soak up any remaining moisture.
  2. Red wine.  Just like the ketchup or sauce stain, blot up any excess liquid.  Use a mixture of 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water to create a paste.  Apply the paste directly to the stain.  After the paste dries use a vacuum cleaner to pick up dried residue.  Should the stain persist use carpet cleaner and follow directions on the bottle.
  3. Blood.  Similar to the strategies above, blot up excess blood.  Mix one tablespoon mild detergent with water.  Alternate sponging stain with cleaning solution and blotting up excess liquid with clean cloth.  If stain remains use mixture of one tablespoon ammonia to one half cup water and alternate sponging and blotting.  Be careful not to mix ammonia with bleach as this creates harmful fumes.

If your red stain is on an area rug rather than standard home carpeting you probably want to test your cleaning solution on the back of the rug or in another inconspicuous location to be sure the solution itself doesn’t cause discoloration.  With antique rugs, rugs with no care label, or rugs with no materials label it’s better to be safe than sorry.  Call a professional.

Kitchen Fires

Home fires most often occur in the kitchen, but not all kitchen fires are created equal – or at least they’re not all put out in the same fashion.  Rent or own, there are three distinct types of fires that occur in your Greater Oklahoma City area home with three equally distinct methods for extinguishing them:

  1. Wood, cloth, or paper fires should be extinguished with water or a Class A fire extinguisher.  These types of fires most often occur in the trash, where someone disposed of something hot enough to have the potential to start a fire like cigarette ashes from an ash tray.
  2. Grease fires often occur in a frying pan, or on a dirty stovetop.  If the fire is in a pan cover the pan with a lid to suffocate the fire, or you can also use baking soda or a Class B fire extinguisher whether the grease fire is in a pan or on the stovetop.  Never use water to put out a grease fire as you’ll splash the grease and spread the fire to other surfaces.
  3. Electric fires need a class C fire extinguisher or baking soda.  Just as with grease fires, never use water to put out an electric fire.  You risk electrocution.

Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you go out and purchase three different kinds of fire extinguishers.  There are extinguishers on the market that are multi-rated A, B, and C for all types of fires.  Just be sure to mount your extinguisher in the kitchen and well away from the stovetop and oven.  A note on safety:  If your clothes catch fire immediately drop to the floor and roll back and forth to put them out, and if the fire is spreading uncontrollably don’t waste time trying to put it out.  Evacuate the home right away before calling 911.  If you do have a kitchen fire, DO NOT turn on the oven hood.  This can help a fire spread into the walls.

2 Quick Spring Staging Tips

Spring has sprung – at least on the calendar.  Staging your Edmond or Greater Oklahoma City area home for sale during the season of April showers and May flowers can be difficult if you’ve been considering a new paint job (inside or out), or many other do-it-yourself projects to help your home gain an edge on the “For sale” competition.  Since spring weather is so unpredictable here are a few low and no cost tips for staging your home whether you have spring fever or cabin fever.

  1. Clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere.  That’s a line from one of the children’s songs parents have sung to their little ones for decades, and it holds true for home staging during any season.  Life happens – so does dirt, but today’s buyers may have a hard time looking past the grit and grime of everyday living and seeing the true features and benefits of your home.  Invest some time and elbow grease by detailing the kitchen and bathrooms, washing floors, vacuuming and shampooing carpets, and wiping away tiny fingerprints.  And remember, the best companion to a great (clean) looking home is a great (clean) smelling home.  That means clean cat boxes often, especially just prior to showings.
  2. De-clutter.  Think about it this way: pick up, pack away, donate, sell.  Make sure rooms are picked up and put away.  If you have space in the attic or even in the basement pack up a few extra boxes of the children’s toys or other belongings that you intend to keep but are simply adding to the claustrophobic feeling of your clutter.  And consider this: is it time to make a donation to Goodwill or another charity, or maybe even to have a garage sale to help relieve pressure in the home.  Clutter can kill a buyer’s interest the same way a dirty home can.  Pick up, pack away, donate, and sell!

What (Not) to Expect on Your Home Inspection

You’re moving out of your rental, and you’re under contract to purchase your Greater Oklahoma City dream home, and it’s time to order a home inspection to make sure the house is in the shape you believe it’s in.  Your home inspector will inspect the structure and foundation; the plumbing and electrical he can gain access to; windows, doors, siding, driveway and decking on the exterior; walls, flooring, counters and cabinets, and garage door and opening mechanism on the interior; the heating and air conditioning systems, and the roof; fireplaces and insulation…

You get the idea.  It’s true, there’s a lot of important ground covered by a good home inspection, but it’s just as important to know what is NOT covered.  Understand this list is not set in stone anywhere, but is generally the accepted regarding exclusions of the scope of the inspection:

-Radon
-Mold
-Asbestos
-Lead
-Termites and mice

The reason for the exclusion of these items from the standard inspection is they require additional specialized training and licensing and/or specialized equipment and will also require an additional fee.  If any of the issues above are a concern, or if they are prevalent in your area (like mold in predominantly wet climates) be sure to request the appropriate individual inspection.

In addition to this list there are a couple expectations of your inspection you need to manage.  Your home inspection is not a warranty against future problems, like a furnace or water heater that breaks down.  If you’re concerned about mechanical breakdowns down the road consider purchasing a home warranty.  Neither should the inspection be confused with an appraisal of the home’s value.  The inspection helps determine the condition and functionality of a home at the time the inspection takes place.  Accordingly an inspector is concerned with safety not necessarily construction to code.