Doggie doors are ingenious devices. They can save homeowners thousands of dollars in cleanup each year as well as eliminating a lot of steps! They also make life more comfortable and enjoyable for our pets. They are easy to install and very cost effective too.

But, before you install that doggie door, give careful consideration to where you put it. Many homeowners place doggie doors at the door from their home to their garage and then from the garage to the outdoors. This is great for your pet, since they can get rid of dirty feet in the garage before coming into the house.

But, there are a few things you should know before you install that doggie door.

1. You may be creating a security breach to your home. Particularly if you have a large doggie door, you may be creating a hole that a human can use to break into your house.
2. Doggie doors between the house and garage breach your firewall. That door that allows Fido in and out of the garage could also allow a fire that starts in your garage to easily spread into your home.
3. Doggie doors between the garage and the home can let carbon monoxide into your home. If you do decide to install a doggie door between your home and garage, never let the car run with the garage door closed.

Deep fried turkey has become a very popular main dish for Thanksgiving dinner. Deep-frying has even been hailed by some celebrity chefs as one of the best ways to prepare a turkey.

There are two primary reasons to deep fry a turkey. The first is that deep-frying creates a crisp skin on the outside, but the inside stays moist. This is a feat that many cooks find it difficult to accomplish in the over. Deep-frying your turkey is also faster than roasting. A large turkey that would take three or four hours to roast in the oven can be deep fried in about 45 minutes.

But, before you decide that a deep fried turkey is going to be your Thanksgiving main course, there are some things you should know. Deep-frying a turkey is dangerous, and it’s important to take precautions before you start the process. Every single Thanksgiving in the US, someone manages to burn their house down with a deep fried turkey gone terribly wrong.

1. You need a turkey fryer. Nothing you currently have will do the job.
2. Fry the turkey outside; not in the house or garage. If you have a fire, it will be much easier to contain outside.
3. Don’t overfill the fryer with oil. You don’t want the hot oil to spill out when you add the turkey.
4. Be sure the turkey is dry to the touch when you submerge it into the hot oil. A wet turkey will cause the hot oil to splatter.
5. Fry your turkey at no higher than 350°F. At 375°F, the oil can ignite.
6. Be sure to have items nearby to contain a grease fire quickly, should one ignite. A fire extinguisher or large container of baking soda is a good idea.

Out of town guests can be a lot of fun. But, they can create some stress, too. During the days and hours just before they arrive, you’ll no doubt be busy buying last minute groceries and ensuring that the guest room is ready. So, it’s a good idea to take some steps to ready your home for guests early in advance, so that you’re not worried about these items at the last minute.

Many of us take lots of time preparing our home to ensure that it’s comfortable and beautiful, but we may not take the time to ensure that it’s safe. This is especially true if our guest quarters are located in an area of our home that we don’t use regularly. So, before those guests arrive for Thanksgiving, be sure to check out the following items in your home.

1. Handrails. Wobbly handrails on staircases can be dangerous, especially when Grandma and Grandpa come to visit. Ensure that bannisters are tight and safe.
2. Smoke Alarms. We may forget to ensure that smoke alarms are in working order and have fresh batteries, particularly if they’re located in an area of our home we seldom use. But you definitely want to have a working smoke alarm near your guest room.
3. Proper lighting. Remember that your guests are not accustomed to your home. They will need proper lighting, both inside and outside your home. Ensure that there’s a nightlight in the bathroom they’ll use, and good lighting to get them from the guestroom to the bathroom during the night. Outdoor areas like walkways should be well lighted for their safety, as well.

Take care of these safety items now, and you can be stress free when guests arrive. Well…..maybe.

When you’re building a new home, you’re likely looking to save money in every way possible. But, don’t make the mistake of trying to save money by foregoing the house wrap on your home. What saves you a little now may cost you a bundle in the future.

House wrap is a perfect way to prevent moisture intrusion in your home. When moisture gets trapped within studs or cavity walls, mold and rot can set in. This moisture will also cause your insulation to lose its R-value, meaning that you’re no longer getting proper benefit from the installation you’ve installed.

Mold and rot are two of the most costly and dangerous problems you can have in your home. The cost of using house wrap is far less expensive than the cost to repair rotted boards or mitigate mold. And, because the mold and rot that you may suffer because of failure to use house wrap will happen in unseen spots in your home, so you may not know that they exist until lots of damage is done.

So, talk to your builder about house wrap. He may be able to help you find other ways for you to lower your building costs, and he may be able to help you find a great deal on the wrap itself. But, regardless, this is not an area where you want to pinch pennies.

If you have a big home renovation coming up, you may be wondering whether you should move out of your home for the duration of the project or attempt to stay while the work is being completed. It’s a decision that many homeowners struggle with during a renovation project. Here are some pros and cons of living in your home during renovation.

The first question you should ask is whether or not your home will even be safe to live in during renovation, especially if you have children. Even small projects like new roofing can mean a garden littered with roofing nails, which is not the best playground for little ones. If your home will be safe, you can consider the pros and cons to make your decision

Pros

You’ll save money – In most cases, if you move out of your home, you’ll have to pay rent somewhere for the duration of your project. This can get expensive, and since you’re already spending quite a bit of money to complete the renovation itself, renting may not be in the budget.

You can oversee the project – You’ll be privy to every detail of your renovation if you’re living in the home during the project. You can keep a close eye on progress and point out any problems immediately.

Cons

You’ll be subjected to plenty of loud noise, work that begins at early hours and loads of dust.

Your workers may favor loud music while they work and you may find yourself very aggravated by having people constantly in and out of your home.

You’ll have very little privacy or quiet for the duration of the project. This is fine for some homeowners who are rarely at home during the business week anyway. It proves to be a bit of a nightmare for those who work from home.

The single most important choice you make when building a new home is choosing the right builder. After all, it is this builder who has your brand new home under his control and he can make your new home a dream or a nightmare. Here are three tips for choosing the right builder.

1. Take a look at other homes he has built – Be sure to visit other homes he has built, making sure both to look at the work and to talk to the homeowners to see how happy they are with the end result as well as how happy they were with the process of building. You can learn a lot from homeowners who have already been through the process with the building.

2. Pay attention to how he conducts business- When you have an appointment with him, does he show up on time? Does he deliver estimates when promised? Does he call you to inform you of delays? When you meet with him, is he prepared for the meeting? Is he willing to provide detailed estimates and designs? If you have to keep calling a potential builder or you have to keep asking for things you need, move on. If a builder acts this way before you’ve signed a contract, it’s sure to get worse afterward.

3. Read the fine print – Your builder should provide detailed quotes, including materials and a schedule for your project. If a builder hesitates to provide this information or won’t commit to a begin or end date for the project, he’s probably someone you want to avoid. Read your potential builder’s contract thoroughly so that you understand exactly what he is – and is not- promising.

Halloween is right around the corner, and most of us are excited to have the little goblins coming to our door. But, while you’re busy carving jack-o-lanterns and buying candy, don’t forget to take some basic precautions around the house to ensure the safety of your trick-or-treaters. Here are a few tips to help you.

1. Spooky should not mean pitch black. We all like to have a little Halloween ambience at the front door. But, our pathways and porch steps need to be well lighted to prevent trips and falls.
2. Handrails are helpful. Those little Disney princesses in their plastic high heels will appreciate the steadiness a handrail can provide as they’re climbing your porch steps. If you already have a handrail, now is a good time to ensure that it’s sturdy. You don’t want a nine-year-old Incredible Hulk to be able to knock it over.
3. Don’t get too creepy. Let’s face it; some of us just love Halloween more than others. But, if you have little ones trick-or-treating in your neighborhood, it’s a good idea to avoid over the top, scary decorations. If you completely terrify a neighborhood child, you may be ensuring that you’ll have no trick-or-treaters at all next year. But, you may also have some serious repercussions from the neighbors, too.

Preparing for Halloween is one of fall’s most enjoyable rituals. Just be sure you’re prepared to keep all your little goblins safe while they’re having fun.

We’re all aware that these are tough times for home sellers. The market is saturated with homes for sale, many of them at rock bottom prices. Traditional home sellers are competing with foreclosures and bank owned properties, so they may not be able to put a lot of money into getting their home ready for sale, if they want to be able to set a competitive price.

Many home stagers focus on outdoor touches in the spring, which is traditionally the most popular time to sell a home. But, don’t forget that fall is a great time for outdoor touches, too. Staging your home beautifully from the outside is a great way to make your home memorable in the minds of buyers. And, there are plenty of ways to make your home look fall fabulous without spending a lot of cash.

Start by making sure everything is clean. Pressure wash the house and driveway. Ensure that windows are sparkling. If your front door looks weathered or worn, give it a new coat of paint or stain. And, be certain that it doesn’t squeak or stick when opened.

Be certain to pull out any spent summer annuals right now. Those petunias are usually looking pretty ragged by September, so it’s a good time to replace them with fall flowers like mums or pansies.

Create a beautiful fall scene on your front porch with pumpkins, hay bales and potted mums. If you choose items that are more geared toward autumn, themes rather than Halloween themes, you’ll be able to leave them in place through Thanksgiving.

These few simple steps can make your house look gorgeous for fall without costing a fortune. It’s a simple way to ensure that your house is one potential buyers will remember.

Waste of money or wise investment…
2.23.2010 By Farren West~~ Founder~~Key Inspection Services
Many people feel there isn’t a need to inspect new construction because the home has been “Code” inspected by the city. And, to a certain degree this inspection could be accurate but here’s my take as a home inspector and as a potential buyer.

As a buyer, purchasing a home and scheduling a move is stressful enough without having to worry about potential structural issues. The cost of a new construction home inspection runs with median home prices in the Puget Sound area. So, with a median price around $400,000, a new home inspection runs approximately $400 (condos inspections are generally priced lower than single family homes). Thus, you’ll gain additional peace of mind for roughly a tenth of a percent of the price of the property for an inspection.

Now here’s my impression as an inspector. I have been inspecting properties for over 8 years and haven’t found a single one without a problem. Small or large, most need some sort of attention to prevent a safety hazard or a potentially significant financial investment if not tended to in a timely manner. With new construction a list of corrections can be just that, a simple punch list with photos to assist the buyer and contractor to ensure all details were corrected by the time of the final walk through. Also, since the home is new, systems and appliances haven’t been thoroughly tested or used to ensure they’re functioning properly before you move in.

Here’s a sample list of items that would be tested during the inspection: run water throughout in the home, flushing toilets, test appliances for proper installation & function, test the furnace and heat distribution, the fireplaces, review in the attic/roof and crawlspace areas (single family homes).

If you have any questions, or if you’d like to view a sample new construction report, feel free to contact me. #206.931.0506 Farren@YourCondoInspector.com