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Pillar To Post Newsletter Vol. 20 No. 6

Covid-19 update


Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is always committed to the health and well-being of our clients. This is especially true during this time of Covid-19. We remain committed to providing the highest quality home inspection while adhering to the strict safety and cleanliness guidelines provided by the CDC and local governments.

  • Inspectors are prepared with PPE to keep everyone safe
  • Home Inspection Reports can be presented virtually or printed on-site
  • Your clients can choose not to attend or only attend the last hour of the home inspection
  • Online or contactless payment options are available on request

While our processes may have changed, our commitment to ensuring confident home ownership has not. Our job is not complete until you no longer have questions concerning the home you have asked Pillar To Post to inspect.

SEASONAL SENSE

Home For The Holidays?


If you’re sticking close to home this holiday season, that’s even more motivation to create a cozy and festive feeling. Try these ideas for a dose of holiday cheer!

  • There’s nothing like freshly baked cookies to fill your house with the scent of the holidays. Freeze cookie dough in portions so you can bake up a batch anytime.
  • Winter-flowering bulbs like amaryllis and paperwhites are easy to grow indoors. Place them throughout the house to enjoy the color and fragrance at every turn.
  • String holiday lights indoors around door frames and archways to add sparkle to your evenings. Color-shifting types are optional!
  • Group battery-powered pillar candles on a table or mantel for a soft glow without the flame. Many flicker realistically and some can even be controlled remotely.
  • Simmering mulling spices on the stove will add a homey touch and a fragrance that says “holiday!” Cinnamon sticks, cloves and orange peels are a classic combination.

Now you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your holiday home.


SAFE AT HOME

7 Tips For Holiday & Winter Fire Safety


Taking some simple precautions around the home can help keep your family safe during the holidays, especially when it comes to decorating.

  1. Always use non-flammable decorations both indoors and outdoors.
  2. Check holiday light strands for damaged or broken wires and plugs. Enjoy indoor lights only while someone is at home and turn them off before going to bed.
  3. Live Christmas trees should be kept in a water-filled stand and checked daily for dehydration. Dried-out trees are extremely dangerous and should be discarded immediately.
  4. Candles add lovely ambience to your holiday home. Place them in stable holders and keep them away from flammable items, drafts, pets and children.
  5. Children should not have access to or be allowed to use matches, lighters or candles.
  6. Keep space heaters away from bedding, curtains, paper—anything flammable. Never leave a space heater unattended while in use.
  7. Busy with holiday cooking and baking? Kitchen fires are a leading cause of house fires. Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher within easy reach and know how to use it.

Here’s to enjoying
a happy and safe
holiday season!

KNOWLEDGE BASE

Smoke Alarms 101


Smoke alarms are an important defense against injury, death and property loss in house fires. Nearly two-thirds of home fire fatalities occur in homes with non-working or missing smoke detectors. An early warning can save lives!

  • Smoke alarms should be in installed every bedroom, outside every sleeping area, and on each level of the home.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement. High, peaked ceilings have dead air space at the top, so smoke alarms should be placed no closer than 3 feet from the highest point.
  • Near the kitchen, use an alarm with a “hush button” that will silence nuisance alarms reacting to cooking smoke or steam. Or install a photoelectric alarm which will not be triggered by cooking. Never remove the unit’s battery to stop or prevent nuisance alarms.
  • Test each unit monthly. Put a reminder in your calendar to do this on the first or last day of the month, for example. This is also an ideal time to dust off the unit so that it continues to work properly.
  • Replace the batteries at least once a year. A common rule of thumb is to do this when changing to or from Daylight Saving Time in fall or spring. Many alarms now come with 10-year lithium batteries that eliminate the need for new batteries, but the unit itself must be replaced after its lifespan.


HOME IMPROVEMENT

Pillar To Post Cost Guide


Spending more time at home has lots of homeowners eyeing new projects and home improvements. Sound familiar? Whether you’re considering an upgraded bathroom, new flooring or replacing a fence, our popular Cost Guide provides estimated cost ranges for repair and/or replacement of the major systems and components in a home. It also includes general guidelines for the life expectancies of those systems.

Request complimentary copies of the Cost Guide from your local Pillar To Post Home Inspector or download it at pillartopost.com/cost-guide.

HOUSEWISE

Home On The Range


Your kitchen range is one of the hardest-working appliances in your home. Taking care of it might not make you a four-star chef, but it will perform better and last longer. Here’s how:

  • Wipe up spills from the cooking surface and around the burners daily.
  • Clean the inside of that grimy oven window with a paste of baking soda and a small amount of dish soap to dissolve grease. Do this when the oven is cold.
  • Check the oven seal and replace if it’s damaged or very dirty. Source the replacement part online to make it an easy DIY job.
  • If you regularly use only one oven rack, store the others in a pantry or closet to keep them clean.
  • Remove the control knobs and clean them in hot, soapy water, using a gentle brush to remove tough spots. An old toothbrush works well for this.
  • On gas stoves, make sure the burner channels are clean and clear for best performance. Leveling the stove will help the burners flame evenly.
  • Make sure the anti-tip mechanism is properly in place to avoid possible injury.

Experience the Pillar To Post difference. Schedule your next home inspection today!

CARBON MONOXIDE: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

CO is an odorless, colorless gas produced by the combustion of fuels such as natural gas, oil and propane in devices including furnaces, water heaters and stoves. These appliances are designed to vent the CO to the outside, but incomplete combustion of fuel, improper installation, or blockages, leaks or cracks in the venting systems can cause CO to reach harmful levels inside the home. Dangerously high levels of CO can lead to incapacitation or death, with victims sometimes never having been aware they were being poisoned.

Homeowners can take action against carbon monoxide poisoning by taking the following steps:

  • Never use a gas stove or oven to heat the home, even temporarily.
  • Have all fuel-burning appliances professionally inspected annually, preferably before the start of the cold weather season when heaters and furnaces are first used.
  • These appliances include gas stoves and ovens, furnaces and heaters, water heaters and gas clothes dryers.
  • All such devices should be properly installed and vented to the outside.
  • Have flues and chimneys for gas fireplaces inspected regularly for cracks, leaks, and blockages that may allow a buildup of CO to occur.
  • Don’t start a vehicle in a closed garage or idle the engine in the garage even if the overhead door is open.
  • Gasoline-powered generators and charcoal grills must never be used indoors.
  • Install a CO detector (either battery operated, hard-wired or plug-in) and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the proper location. Working CO detectors in residences are now required by law in most states.
  • Learn what to do if the CO alarm activates. If anyone in the home experiences symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, blurred vision, nausea, or confusion, everyone should leave immediately and seek medical attention. If no symptoms are felt, open doors and windows immediately and shut off all fuel-burning devices that may be potential sources of CO.

Enjoy the comfort and safety of home this winter and all year long.

WATER HEATING SYSTEMS

Given that as much as 25% of household energy costs go to heating water, it makes sense to evaluate various systems with an eye toward saving both energy and money. Here we take a look at some of the water heater options for homeowners to consider.

Storage (Tank) Water Heaters – These are by far the most common type of residential water heater. Once the water in the tank reaches the desired temperature, the heater cycles on and off to maintain the temperature of the water. Most of us know the phenomenon of running out of hot water after family members take one shower after another; this will happen if the tank’s storage capacity is insufficient to meet demand. Whether water is being used or not, the heater must still fire on and off to keep the contents of the tank hot. While tank heaters are an affordable option, it is quite inefficient to keep a tank of water hot all day.

Tankless (Demand) Water Heaters – Rather than being stored in a tank, water is rapidly heated by gas or electricity when the faucet is turned on. Because it reaches the desired temperature so quickly, much less water is wasted while waiting for hot water to flow through the faucet; however, the results are not truly instantaneous. Tankless systems normally cost more up front than a conventional storage water heater, so homeowners should take that into account along with what type, size, and location makes the most sense for them.

Solar Water Heating – This uses the sun’s energy to pre-heat water for the home. The pre-heated water then flows into a solar tank that monitors temperature. Then it’s piped into the regular hot water system, usually a storage water heater. If no water is turned on within a brief period of time, the water circulates through the system again, making it unnecessary to keep a large tank of water constantly hot. The pre-heating is done by one or two solar panels, usually installed on the roof.

With efficiency and decreased energy use as a goal, the best choice of water heater depends on what pencils out in any given home.

Pillar To Post Newsletter Vol. 20 No. 5


September is Realtor Safety Month. The safety of Realtors is paramount to all of us at Pillar To Post, so this issue of Post Notes reminds brokers, agents and their teams how to stay safe, especially when day-to-day business activities return to normal.

Additional resources:

www.nar.realtor/safety

www.beverlycarterfoundation.org


Showing Empty Properties

Take these smart steps to protect and empower yourself against attack or theft.

  • Be sure to use the lockbox property–key procedure that has been established to improve real estate agent safety so that keys don’t fall into the wrong hands.
  • Show properties before dark. If you must show a property after dark, alert or bring along an associate, turn on all lights as you go through, and don’t lower any shades or draw curtains or blinds.
  • Check in with someone on your team once an hour to let people know where you are.
  • Prepare a scenario so that you can leave, or to encourage someone who makes you uncomfortable to leave. Examples: Your cell phone went off and you have to call your office; you left some important information in your car; another agent with buyers is on his way.
  • When showing a property, always leave the front door unlocked for a quick exit while you and the client are inside. As you enter each room, stand near the door.
  • Lock your purse in the car trunk before you arrive. Carry only nonvaluable business items (except for your cell phone), and do not wear expensive jewelry or watches, or appear to be carrying large sums of money.
  • Park at the curb in front of the property rather than in the driveway. It is much easier to escape in your vehicle if you don’t have to back out of a driveway. And while parked in a driveway another vehicle could purposefully or accidentally trap you.

Top 10 Tips for Personal Safety

  • Touch base. Always let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll return. Arrange for someone from your office to call you to check in.
  • Don’t get lost. Always know the exact address of where you’re going. If you use a navigation app, pull over and stop in a safe place if you’ve made a wrong turn.
  • Sense your surroundings. Is there questionable activity in the area of a property you’re showing? Is anyone loitering? Follow your instincts if you feel you should leave.
  • Don’t go it alone. Have an associate or other colleague host open houses with you.
  • Limit the view. If you’re working late, use window coverings so that you’re not visible to passersby or a potential attacker.
  • Go on the defense. Learn some self-defense skills. Many health clubs, martial arts studios and community colleges offer basic classes.
  • Choose flight over fight. While self-defense is a good idea, the primary goal in any threatening situation is to escape from immediate danger and call for help.
  • Park for protection. Always park in a well-lit, visible location whether you’re parking at your office, an open house, or an empty property.
  • Make calling for help easy. Program important numbers into your cell phone, including your office, roadside assistance and 911.
  • Know who you’re dealing with. Ask for ID, take a photo of a client’s license plate. A criminal won’t be comfortable with this and may be thwarted.

Office Safety Action Plan

Personal safety in the office is important to everyone. Here are some key elements for your office safety action plan.

Initial meeting with clients

Hold the first in-person client meeting in the office rather than at properties, out of doors, or at home. It’s also a good idea to introduce them to a colleague on site.

Client ID

All first-time clients must provide a driver’s license, state ID or other official photo ID. The office will retain a copy of the ID for security purposes. You can download a Client Profile Form at www.beverlycarterfoundation.org.

Distress code

Implement a verbal distress code—a secret word or phrase that can be casually worked into conversation if you feel threatened and the person you are with can overhear your conversation.

Buddy system

If you’re uncomfortable meeting with clients alone request another agent or employee to accompany you.

Privacy first

Keep personal information private. Don’t discuss where you live, or your after-work or vacation plans in front of prospective clients, new colleagues or anyone with whom you’re not comfortable.

Limit access

Make sure all doors other than the main entrance door are secured, and have a clear exit route from the front desk to the door.

Solo security

If you encounter a stranger while working late or alone, say something like “My supervisor will be right with you.” to give the impression you’re not there alone.

Be aware of surroundings

Get to recognize the staff of other nearby businesses and be aware of their schedules. This will benefit everyone.

Sources: NAR, Beverly Carter Foundation


A Note for Our Times

Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is always committed to the health and well-being of our clients. This is especially true during this time of Covid-19. We remain committed to provid-ing the highest quality home inspection while adhering to the strict safety and cleanliness guidelines provided by the CDC and local governments.

  • Inspectors are prepared with PPE to keep everyone safe
  • Home Inspection Reports can be presented virtually or printed on-site
  • Your clients can choose not to attend or only attend the last hour of the home inspection
  • Online and/or contactless payment options available on request

While our processes may have changed, our commitment to ensuring confident home ownership has not. Our job is not complete until you no longer have questions concerning the home you have asked Pillar To Post to inspect.

Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is pleased to provide this information for the safety and well being of Realtors. We hope you find this Special Issue useful for yourself and your team. Please stay safe.


Experience the Pillar To Post Difference. Schedule your next home inspection today!