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  Jan
23
   

Spray Foam Insulation

I was sitting here thinking about how cold my floors are and what I could do about it.  I insulated my attic a few years ago, but as I sit here, I am constantly reminded that I forgot something.  My home is what they call “pier and beam” which means I have a crawl space beneath my home.  When the ground gets cold, so does my home!  Spray foam is the ONLY way to go.  It has many benefits, however, I was not aware that there is more then one type.  I thought foam was foam.  Wow was I wrong!  The two basic types are “closed cell” and “open cell.”  I have attached information from an article from Mike Holmes of Holmes on Homes.  By the way Mike, if you are reading this, I LOVE your show and what you are doing for the home improvement industry!  I have also attached a couple of links to videos as well that are very informative!  Education is “KEY” before you start or hire anyone to do a home improvement project.  And remember BEFORE you hire a contractor, do your homework and check them out completely!

What is the Difference between Open-cell and Closed-cell Polyurethane Foams?
This may be one of the most important pages on the website if your interest is in spray foam insulation. When it comes time to actually put the foam product in your home or commercial building structure, you must identify whether you will use 0.5 lb./cu. ft., open cell foam, or 2.0 lb./cu. ft. closed cell foam. This makes a big difference in cost, application methods, and performance.

With the open-cell vs. closed-cell issue, there are two major factors to understand and consider. The first is the nature of the foam. It is either open-cell foam, where the tiny cells of the foam are not completely closed. They are broken and air fills all of the “open” space inside the material. This makes the foam weaker or softer feeling than closed-cell foam.

Closed-cell foam differs in that all of its tiny foam cells are closed and packed together. They are filled with a gas that helps the foam rise and expand and become a greater insulator. These cells can be formulated to obtain many characteristics, the most common being size and density.

Density is measured by weighing one solid cubic foot of foam material. Open cell foams typically weigh in at 0.4 to 0.5 lb./cu. ft. Closed cell foam for insulation applications range in density from 1.7 lb./cu. ft. to 2.0 lb./cu. ft. Roofing applications typically use a 2.8 to 3.0+ lb./cu. ft. to support traffic and loads better. The higher the density the foam, the heavier, or stronger it becomes. Some polyurethane foams are molded into decorative interior molding and painted or stained for a simulated wood effect. These “higher density” foams are typically in the 30 lb./cu. ft. to 40 lb./cu. ft. density range.

The advantages of closed-cell foam compared to open-cell foam include its strength, higher R-value, and its greater resistance to the leakage of air or water vapor. The disadvantage of the closed-cell foam is that it is denser, requires more material, and therefore, is more expensive. Even though it has a better R-value, typically the cost per R is still higher than open-cell foam. The choice of foam can also be based on the requirements for the other performance or application specific characteristics such as strength, vapor control, available space, etc.  Open-cell SPF has an R-value around 3.5 per inch and typically uses water as the blowing agent.  Closed-cell SPF has an R-value of around 6.0 per inch (aged R-value) and uses high R-value blowing agents.

Both types of foam are commonly used in most building applications and the choice for which to use can depend on many of the factors discussed above. Some foams are inappropriate in specific applications. For example, you typically would not use open-cell foam below grade or in flotation applications where it could absorb water; this would negate its thermal performance because water is a poor insulator compared to air. Closed-cell foam would be a good choice where small framing sizes need the greatest R-value per inch possible. Closed-cell foam would be used for roofing applications.

Always contact your material supplier for performance and application data on their specific materials. What type of foam being used in your building or home is always a good issue to discuss with your spray foam contractor up front, before the job starts.

Why use Spray Foam Insulation?

Difference between Open Cell and Closed Cell Spray Foam Insulation

Part 1 Open Cell vs Closed Cell Foam

Part 2 Open Cell vs Closed Cell Foam

  Nov
13
   

TOO EASY CROWN MOLDING!

Posted under Home Improvements

 

What is crown molding? 

Websters definition:   molding that crowns a surface or structure; especially : molding that runs between the top of an internal wall and a ceiling

Crown molding gives any room a finished and regal look.  It also adds a custom feature to your home as well as value and is inexpensive and now a days OH SO EASY!   I found this website that even shows how to cut the corners and with professional results.  Better yet in preserving our natural resources, it is not made out of wood.  Take a look at http://www.sosimplecrown.com/foam-crown-molding.html and if you have any “before and after” pictures that you would like to share send them my way!

  Feb
6
   

Concrete….Its not just for driveways!

I am working with a couple of clients and a  builder in building a couple of custom homes.  In trying to keep costs down for my clients I did a little research on flooring.  My clients want flooring that will last and is extremely durable.  My first thought was tile.  Not saying tile is not a good thing as there are some beautiful tile floors out there, but it is expensive, especially if one is wanting their entire home done.  In my research I started to look at concrete.  I am amazed and excited about what is out there now.  I was in love with the colors and design elements available.   They also have cement floors that look like wood floors complete with nail holes!  I countinued my search and found countertops as well that look like wood as well as many other designs and styles.  It seems to be limitless to what one can do!  The color palette is endless.  The best part of it all is that they are cheaper then tile floors, but yet just as durable, perfect in wet areas such as kitchens and baths and will last and last!  My clients are excited as well.  I need to add that staining your concrete floors does not have to be done during construction.  They also can do existing homes.  I found a local company in my area that does this and I am excited and will keep y’all updated with pictures as construction commences.  Remember when choosing a contractor, be careful and do your homework.  Check their references, experience and the Better Business Bureau and read my post on ”Choosing the Right Contractor.”

  Oct
11
   

Great gaget to hang pictures

I have seen and tried other gagets to hang pictures, but this one I think out does them all!  It is so easy to use.  These are going to make great housewarming gifts for my clients!  You can check out their website at http://www.utrdecorating.com/about_hang_and_level.php

  Aug
13
   

Remodeling Questions?

Howdy y’all!  I want to say I have been receiving some wonderful emails from folks all over the globe!  I do appreciate the emails and want to thank those that read my blog.

When looking to remodel your home  there are a few things to keep in mind.  Materials and colors you use are important.  Unless you are staying in your home forever, keep colors neutral.  To increase the value of your home per square foot when doing your floors, use flooring materials such as real wood, tile, granite or marble.  There are so many great products out there so shop around.  As far as interior and exterior, paint is probably the least expensive, but can also add value believe it or not.  It gives your home a fresh look and makes it more appealing.  Take a look at the home below as an example.  The home was completely repainted to include the brick and shutters were added for curb appeal.  This home is in my market area and just by painting the exterior added at least $5,000 to the market price!  Big improvment I think!

Before exterior Painted

After painted

When looking to add a room or bedroom or make a larger bedroom into two bedrooms, it is best to seek professional advice in your area such as someone in home design and architecture.  I know it may cost a little more upfront, but it can save you literally thousands in the end.  More bedrooms is not necessarily better.  You want your home to flow and the more open it is the larger it will feel.  Research is important before you remodel.  You do not want to “over” improve and price your home out of the area.  Keep it in line with values and improvements in your neighborhood and read my article on “Choosing A Contractor.”  Keep the emails coming and if you have any “before” and “after” photos and want to show off your home, send them my way and I will be glad to post them and once again thank you for reading my blog!

  Jul
23
   

REALTOR OR NO REALTOR?

I received a phone call today from a gentleman in New York who had a very good question.  He had contacted a Realtor® that showed him a few properties.  He did not have a “Buyer’s Agency” or agreement with the Realtor®.  A “Buyer’s Agency” is a signed agreement between you and an Agent or Realtor® that they will find you a home and they will receive payment or commission for their services once you close on a home.  He had found a home that was a “For Sale By Owner” or FSBO as is known in the real estate world.  He was appreciative that his Realtor® had shown him properties, but he found this one on his own and was not sure if she should receive some sort of compensation.  My advice is this…and I have done this.  I have had clients that have found a FSBO and I contacted the seller and we negotiated a deal.  I would write up the contract, handle inspections, survey, the buyer’s lender, coordinate the closing and make sure things went smoothly for a nominal fee.   The situation with my clients was a win-win for everyone, especially since the day before closing, someone broke in to the home, did some damage by kicking in a window.  I was there with my contractors, got the damage repaired and passed my contractor’s discount on to the seller.  Realtors® do provide a very valuable service when it comes to buying and selling real estate and I recommend working with one in all facets of buying or selling, even if it is a FSBO.

  Jun
14
   

The Importance of an Appraisal

The Importance of an Appraisal

An appraiser is a professional person who is licensed by the State and can tell you what your home is worth. The appraiser will come to your house and list the number and size of the rooms and any extras, such as a fireplace, porch, pool, or garage. The appraiser will compare your home and property to other homes that have sold recently with similar features. The appraiser then estimates that your home might sell for approximately the same amount of money as similar homes. This is called an “appraisal.” In short, an appraisal is the estimated amount of money your home may sell for.

What is a Real Estate Appraiser?

A real estate appraiser is an impartial, independent third party who provides an objective report on the estimate of value of real estate. The appraisal is supported by the collection and analysis of data.

A real estate appraiser values real property (land, houses, buildings, etc.), not personal property (cars, jewelry, furniture). The appraiser determines the physical characteristics of the property to be appraised and estimates value based upon three common approaches to value:

Sales Comparison Market Approach

Cost Approach

Income Capitalization Approach

A state licensed real estate appraiser meets nationally established standards for education and experience, and successfully passes a comprehensive examination. A state licensed appraiser conforms to national ethical and professional standards, which establish the standards for ethics, competency and confidentiality governing professional appraisal practices.

Home Inspections Are Not Appraisals

A property appraisal is a document that provides an estimate of a property’s market value. Lenders require appraisals on properties prior to loan approval to ensure that the mortgage loan amount is not more than the value of the property. Appraisals are for lenders; home inspections are for buyers.

The Federal Housing Authority (FHA), which is part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), requires lenders to obtain appraisals of properties securing FHA-insured loans. FHA requires appraisals for three reasons:

  1. To estimate the market value of the property.
  2. To make sure that the property meets FHA minimum property requirements/standards (health and safety).
  3. To make sure that the property is marketable.

The FHA appraisal process will note property deficiencies that are readily observable and found not in compliance with HUD’s minimum property requirements/standards. These deficiencies may not be the same as those items noted in a home inspection report.

 

When Should I Use An Appraiser?

You will likely need the services of a real estate appraiser whenever an estimate of the value of your real estate is required. Most commonly, this occurs when you apply for a real estate loan, either to purchase or refinance your home. You may also need a real estate appraiser to assist in the appeal of your property tax assessment, for insurance purposes, for probate and estate settlements or other reasons.

What’s My Property Worth?

It is common to ask the appraiser this question as soon as the appraiser has inspected the property. The truth is at that time the appraiser doesn’t yet know. The inspection is the first step of many that the appraiser must complete before a value is determined.

The appraiser measures the house from the outside to determine square footage. The appraiser takes notes concern- ing the features of your house such as room layout, number of bedrooms, baths, etc. The appraiser also makes a determination of the general condition, appeal and functional layout of your house. All of these items are taken into consideration in the appraisal report.

How Long Does an Appraisal Take?

The physical inspection of a typical property usually takes about twenty to forty-five minutes. Sometimes an inspection can take longer if the house is difficult to measure or has some unique features that require additional investigation by the appraiser.

After the initial inspection of the property the appraiser spends time examining or analyzing the neighborhood or area. The purpose of this is to search for other properties that are similar to the property being appraised that have sold recently and examine neighborhood influences. When the fieldwork is finished, the appraiser completes the report at his office.  Average time for an appraisal to be completed is 7-10 days after the inspection of the property.

What Does The Appraiser Need to Know?

To help the appraiser complete the appraisal, you can provide some information that is helpful. Please tell the appraiser of any previous sale on the property within the last 12 months. Indicate if there is a pending contract to purchase on the property. Does the property have any right of way or other easements? Is there structural damage, or water leakage in the house? Is the property in a flood zone? Basically, inform the appraiser about any hidden features or detriments to the property.

How Do I Choose an Appraiser?

Although federal and state laws usually require that the lender must hire the appraiser when the appraisal is to be used for a real estate loan, some lenders will allow you to select an appraiser from their list of approved appraisers. For all other appraisals, you are allowed to select your own appraiser.

Licensed real estate appraisers can be found on the internet or by talking to your friends who have previously used an appraiser. Be sure to interview the appraiser carefully to determine if he or she is licensed and experienced in appraising your type of property.

Most licensed appraisers will provide an advance estimate of the cost to perform the appraisal, and many will commit to a fixed fee for the appraisal. It is always wise to obtain a written contract for services which includes a description of what is to be appraised, the scope of the assignment, the anticipated delivery date, the fee and terms of payment.

 

 

 

  May
14
   

Time to update appliances? Save money!

ENERGY STAR’S TAX-FREE WEEKEND

SAN ANTONIO(San Antonio Express-News) — Homeowner’s, developers, landlords and anyone else wishing to buy energy efficient appliances will be able to purchase them tax-free Memorial Day weekend across Texas.May 23 through 25, taxes wil be deducted from Energy Star–qualified appliances.  This will include air conditioners under $6,000, washing machines, ceiling fans, dehumidifiers, dishwashers,light bulbs, programmable thermostats and refrigerators priced under $2,000.

The Energy Star label, developed by the Environmental Protection Agency, appears on appicances that use less energy or water than the industry standard to operate.

There is no limit on the number of Energy Star appliances that can be purchased tax-free.

Ad ditionally, San Antonio Water System customers who purchase the highest efficiency washing machines, known as Tier 3, can also qualify for a $100 rebate on their water bill.

  Apr
17
   

Ooops! I didn’t do it again!

Ok folks, I made an error and I am the first to admit it.  I received an email from a friend of a cute “silo” home.  I was told it was located in Canada.  I searched Canada far and wide.  I even contacted the builders association to no avail.  I think they must of thought I was crazy when I tried to describe this home!  Well so without being able to verify, I thought the home was too cute not to post.  Needless to say after doing more research, I found it!  It is right in my own backyard so to speak!  It is located in New Braunfels, Texas, only a couple hundred miles from me.  Now that I have wiped the egg from my face, I am going to give you the link.  It is actually an Inn.  It is called the Gruene Homestead Inn and it is a bread and breakfast.  They have several other properties there as well where you may stay, relax and enjoy peace and serenity.  I spoke to Donna at the Gruene Homestead Inn and she was very pleasant, helpful and friendly and I can only assume a nite or two here would be heaven.  Check it out on the web at http://www.gruenehomesteadinn.com/silo.htm and if you book a trip, be sure to tell them you saw it on my blog!  (I also posted the direct link on the left)

Kitchen/living room

Kitchen/living room

Kitchen

Kitchen

Entry

Entry

Bath Beautiful tile!

Bath Beautiful tile!

Bath

Bath

Bedroom

Bedroom

Moving day

Moving day

Silo2

Silo2

Amazing!

Amazing!

  Apr
7
   

Helpful hints

A friend sent this to me.  I have used the cola to remove grease in the driveway and it does work and  I must admit I spend 10 minutes squeezing bread….now I know why they have different colored ties!  Not sure about the others, but hope y’all might find some handy.

THINGS  TO  KNOW

 

  1. Budweiser beer conditions the hair
  2. Pam cooking spray will dry finger nail polish
  3. Cool whip will condition your hair in 15 minutes
  4. Mayonnaise will KILL LICE, it will also condition your hair
  5. Elmer’s Glue - paint on your face, allow it to dry, peel off and see the dead skin and blackheads if any
  6. Bee stings and fire ant bites - meat tenderizer
  7. Chigger bite - Preparation H
  8. Puffy eyes - Preparation H
  9. Paper cut - crazy glue or chap stick (glue is used instead of sutures at most hospitals)
  10. Stinky feet - Jello!
  11. Athletes feet - cornstarch
  12. Fungus on toenails or fingernails - Vicks vapor rub
  13. Kool Aid to clean dishwasher pipes. Just put in the detergent section and run a cycle, it will also clean a toilet. (Wow, and we drink this stuff)
  14. Kool Aid can be used as a dye in paint also Kool Aid in Dannon plain yogurt as a finger paint, your kids will love it and it won’t hurt them if they eat it!
  15. Peanut butter - will get scratches out of CD’s!  Wipe off with a coffee filter paper 
  16. Sticking bicycle chain - Pam no-stick cooking spray
  17. Pam will also remove paint, and grease from your hands!  Keep a can in your garage for your hubby
  18. Peanut butter will remove ink from the face of dolls
  19. When the doll clothes are hard to put on, sprinkle with corn starch and watch them slide on
  20. Heavy dandruff - pour on the vinegar!
  21. Body paint - Crisco mixed with food coloring.  Heat the Crisco in the microwave, pour in to an empty film container and mix with the food color of your choice!
  22. Tie Dye T-shirt - mix a solution of Kool Aid in a container, tie a rubber band around a section of the T-shirt and soak
  23. Preserving a newspaper clipping - large bottle of club soda and cup of milk of magnesia, soak for 20 min. and let dry, will last for many years!
  24. A Slinky will hold toast and CD’s!
  25. To keep goggles and glasses from fogging, coat with Colgate toothpaste
  26. Wine stains, pour on the Morton salt and watch it absorb into the salt.
  27. To remove wax - Take a paper towel and iron it over the wax stain, it will absorb into the towel.
  28. Remove labels off glassware etc. rub with Peanut butter!
  29. Baked on food - fill container with water, get a Bounce paper softener  and the static from the Bounce towel will cause the baked on food to adhere to it.  Soak overnight.  Also; you can use 2 Efferdent tablets, soak overnight!
  30. Crayon on the wall - Colgate toothpaste and brush it!
  31. Dirty grout - Listerine
  32. Stains on clothes - Colgate
  33. Grass stains - Karo Syrup
  34. Grease Stains - Coca Cola, it will also remove grease stains from the driveway overnight.  We know it will take corrosion from car batteries!
  35. Fleas in your carpet?  20 Mule Team Borax- sprinkle and let stand for 24 hours.  Maybe this will work if you get them back again.
  36. To keep FRESH FLOWERS longer Add a little Clorox, or 2 Bayer  aspirin, or just use 7-up instead of water.
  37. When you go to buy bread in the grocery store, have you ever wondered which is the freshest, so you “squeeze” for freshness or softness?  Did you know that bread is delivered fresh to the stores five days a week?  Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  Each day has a different color twist tie.  They are: Monday = Blue,  Tuesday = Green, Thursday = Red, Friday = White and Saturday = Yellow.  So if today was Thursday, you would want a red twist tie; not white which is Fridays (almost a week old)!  The colors go alphabetically by color Blue - Green - Red - White - Yellow, Monday through Saturday.  Very easy to remember. I thought this was interesting.  I looked in the grocery store and the bread wrappers DO have different twist ties, and even the ones with the plastic clips have different colors.  You learn something new everyday!  Enjoy fresh bread when you buy bread with the right color on the day you are shopping.