Rental Property Do’s and Don’ts
The unsteady housing market in the United States has opened up new entrepreneurial opportunities in the rental market for many people who were once closed off from purchasing property at all. According to the National Multi-Housing Council (NMHC), about one-third of United States households live in rental properties, which means there is definitely money to be made as a rental property owner. The question is, are you up for the challenge?
Just as with anything worthwhile, there is a huge learning curve for anyone interested in delving into the world of rental properties. Here are some general tips and linked resources on where to find information on the subject of rental properties and the law, what to look for when selecting units for purchase, and how you can be sure that you’re within the law when choosing the right tenants.
Before you even begin your search for rental properties, educate yourself in the relevant areas of law surrounding renters and your rental property responsibilities. Is this an obvious tip? Sure, but do you know where to look for reputable tips and advice on how to enter the rental property market, and what to do once you get there?
The laws related to owning rental property are complex and cover everything from who’s responsible for car accidents on your property to how to legally evict a tenant. So, the importance of obtaining your information from official sources, such as federal and state governmental housing agencies, cannot be overstated. When you decide to become a landlord, your actions immediately fall under a new set of state and federal laws. If you follow advice from an untrustworthy source, you set yourself up for potential liability related claims on subjects including discrimination, wrongful eviction, and property repairs.
Where to Buy
If you’ve just started your search for rental properties, you already know that there are seemingly endless purchase opportunities available to you. So, how do you know where to begin? The internet offers a lot of advice on this subject, but, again, be cautious about which site you turn to for advice. Here are a few quick tips from the pros:
If you will be a hands-on landlord, look for properties that offer a relatively easy commute for you. As the owner, it will be your responsibility to handle inspections and repairs, and you’ll need to get them done in a timely manner.
Once you’ve closed on a property and are ready to rent it out, it’s time to find the perfect tenants. Here’s where it gets especially tricky for rental property owners who have decided not to hire property managers, but will be handling the screening process themselves. You have spent a lot of time and money on your new rental property, so it’s imperative that you properly screen applicants to find quality tenants who will take care of your investment. It’s just as important, though, that you follow the federal fair housing laws, and not inadvertently discriminate against a potential tenant. Keep in mind that, over and above federal law, some states establish their own housing laws that include protection for groups that aren’t covered under federal law.
Buying and renting out investment properties is a big endeavor for anyone, especially first time landlords. The key components of the process include educating yourself on the laws (both federal and state), determining the best areas to purchase property, and finding responsible tenants. If you cover all of your bases right, your new business venture could end up reaping rewards for you for years to come.
Air Quality Search and Destroy: Stealthy Indoor Pollutants You Need to Attack
When you consider that the majority of people spend as much as 90% of their time indoors you soon realize that we should pay a lot more attention to the quality of the air that we are breathing.
Many of the pollutants that are invading our air space are very hard to detect without specialist equipment as they are often invisible to the naked eye and often do not produce any clues to their existence by way of smell or other indicators that we would be able to pick up on.
Poor indoor air quality is ranked as the 4th largest pollution threat to Americans according to the http://www.epa.gov/.
There are many potential pollution threats that simply cannot be seen or smelt despite their pervading presence in your air space. The dangers to our air quality can come from a number of sources and the consultants http://landing.edrnet.com/vaporintrusion.html, suggest that cleaning products, chemicals used in dry cleaning, plastic products like keyboards, paint and even some types of furniture are just some of examples of how indoor pollutants could invade your space.
Indoor air pollution explained
Indoor pollution is caused by gases or particles being released into the air from some of the sources already mentioned or from a number of other potential contaminants. The level of pollution can vary dramatically from harmless to health but a cause of minor irritation, to potentially deadly and a threat to life.
The problem is that long-term exposure to polluted air will most likely increase your risk of suffering from respiratory diseases, heart problems and even the prospect of cancer.
Most of us are now aware of the dangers of exposure to asbestos and pesticides for example, but you should also exercise caution when choosing the household cleaning products you are going to use in your home.
Some of these cleaning products release pollutants as and when they are used whilst other items such as air-fresheners could actually be releasing pollutants continually if they are in constant use.
There are dangers from gas pollutants such as radon or formaldehyde and some products may release fine particles containing asbestos or mold spores, so check the credentials of cleaning products and related items that you intend to use indoors.
Measuring your indoor air quality
The problem with a number of indoor pollutant sources is that they represent a hidden danger and if you wanted to test for the presence of Radon for example, there is no way of doing this without using a specific device because Radon is colorless and odorless.
You can buy a device at many hardware stores that will enable you to measure the levels yourself or if you have a number of concerns and there are signs of poor indoor air quality through condensation, mold or mildew or you simply want to ensure that your air quality is adequate and not presenting a potential health hazard, it makes sense to contact a professional service who can check for a whole host of problems during testing and inspection.
Seeing as we spend so much time indoors, it makes sense to attack and destroy any pollutants that may be trying to attack and invade our air space. Click the image of the radon test kit to learn more.
Looking for more useful information? Click below:
About the author:
Peter Samuels is an experienced building manager. He enjoys blogging about his years on the job facing all sorts of common and unusual management situations.
This Indianapolis couple knew it was time renovate their master bedroom suite. The existing suite was typical for a traditional two-story home built in the 1970's, and although the space was adequate, the simple bedroom with two sliding-door closets and a small master bath lacked the features our clients wanted.
Now that the couple’s children were grown and out of the house, they had the opportunity to enlarge the room by utilizing an adjacent 11’ x 15’ bedroom to create a grander master suite that included an enhanced master bathroom and sizable walk-in closet (designed by California Closets of Indianapolis).
Let the Light Shine In
We first met this couple a few years ago when we built a sunroom addition for them, so we knew just how important natural light was to them. The home is surrounded by many mature trees, so getting natural light into the master bedroom has always been a challenge.
We set out to design a space that provided multiple solutions for this need.
The first change, and perhaps the most dramatic, was removing the existing flat ceiling and building a vaulted ceiling above the expanded space. A vaulted ceiling gives a space a lighter, airier feel.
Another unique design element we included involved the partition walls that separate the bedroom from the bathroom. Rather than building them to meet the height of the vaulted ceiling, we constructed them at only 8 feet tall. This allows more natural light from the skylights to cascade into the entire space.Additionally, we installed eight new Velux skylights with remote-control solar shades. This design element, inspired by the skylights we used in the sunroom, provides more natural light than traditional side-wall windows do.
Finally, we replaced the existing side-wall window with a new bay window. Not only does this provide a bigger window, but the built-in seat gives the homeowners an area where they can enjoy the beauty of their backyard.
Luxurious Bath, Tiled with Character
One of the more interesting and eye-catching aspects of this bathroom remodel project is found in the tile selection. Our clients have a love for interesting tiles. Prior to the start of this project, they researched tiles extensively and settled on handmade tiles imported from Turkey. The unique tiles truly bring a distinctive design element to the space.
Natural light flows into the newly renovated master bathroom as well, and the space incorporates thoughtfully chosen glass features. A glass door was chosen for the shower, and a frosted-glass pivot door provides privacy to the toilet. A frosted-glass side panel was also installed between the shower and toilet to further allow light to flow throughout the space.
The newly constructed walk-in shower features many enhancements such as a heated tile floor, hand-held shower faucet, rain head and exquisite Turkish tile embellishing two walls. The bath floor also features a heated tile floor with a decorative tile inlay. The bath vanity includes an arch soffit with recessed lighting, lowered make-up counter with drawer, marble countertops with under-mount sink bowls and an attractive tile backsplash.
To pull their vision together, our clients worked with an interior designer who helped facilitate their ideas and convey their vision to us. This project is the perfect example of clients doing the research to determine what they wanted and us following through to make their vision a reality.
Not everyone cares about being green, but everybody likes to save money. No matter what your motivation is, a home energy audit can do both for you. Both the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Alliance to Save Energy recommend a home energy audit to see where you could be wasting electricity. You can hire a professional to perform the audit or, you can do it yourself.
If you're a homeowner looking to go the DIY route, you'll have to inspect the insulation, look for air leaks, check your heating and cooling equipment and review your past energy bills. Here's help to get you started:
If your home is more than 20 years old, the insulation may not meet current minimum recommended insulation levels. Places to inspect insulation include the attic, the exterior walls, the basement, the crawl space, an attached garage and any utility closets. Give particular attention to the attic, because that is where most conditioned air is lost in older homes.
The DOE offers these suggestions:
- Check pipes, duct work and chimneys to see if they are sealed with foam caulk or some other sealant.
- Check to see if there’s a vapor barrier under the insulation, such as tar paper or plastic sheeting. Vapor barrier paint is acceptable as well.
- Check attic vents to make sure insulation isn’t blocking them.
- Check to see how deep the insulation is. If you can see floor boards or rafters through the insulation, it may not be thick enough. Use the DOE's zip code insulation calculator to determine if your insulation is thick enough.
- Check insulation in exterior walls by removing outlet covers. Insulation should be visible around the inside of outlets.
Air leaks account for up to 30 percent of energy loss per year, according to the DOE. Air commonly leaks around windows, doors, light fixtures (inside and outside), dryer vents and oven vents. First look for visible gaps, and then try this trick: Have someone stand on one side of the window or door with a hair dryer running around the frames. See if you feel air coming through, and if you do, weatherproof everywhere you feel the air.
Heating and Cooling Equipment
Perform regular maintenance on heating and cooling equipment to ensure proper operation, extend their life and save energy. Inspect equipment for dirty filters, rusted metal, dirty coils and vents and clutter on top of or around the base of equipment. Blocking equipment vents can cause motor and compressor burnout and create a fire hazard.
Review three to five years' worth of bills from your electricity provider. Look for trends and spikes in usage. Check your utility company's website for more tips on saving money and energy. Some utility companies offer free audit services and resources.
Ceiling fan direction: Does it make a difference?
I was told that I should change the direction that my ceiling fans spin in during cooler months. Since I’ve never done this I’m not sure in which they should be set to spin. - Ashley Leftwich
Hi Ashley. Thank you for your question.
Today, ceiling fans are a common fixture in most homes. Spinning counterclockwise, they move air around the room. Not all energy experts feel it's a good idea to use them in the heating season (doubters says they cool the air too much), but the fans do help bring heated air down to earth in rooms with cathedral or high-sloped ceilings. However, that's only if you slide the reversing switch on the side of the motor housing to the winter (clockwise) position. Then run the fan at its lowest speed. If you can't reverse the blade rotation or if you think the fan is cooling off the room too much, leave it off.
How to Protect Your Home While Renovating
Home renovations, whether done DIY or with a contractor, can be an especially exciting time. Finally, after months or even years, you’re turning that small, unused bedroom into an expansion of the living room, or you’re adding the sunroom you’ve been dreaming about since you bought the house. No matter what changes are being accomplished, you should double-check that your home will be protected before and during the renovations.
Minor renovations likely won’t affect your home’s overall security, but there are some changes you should think twice about before going right ahead. For example, you may be ecstatic about the possibility of a high, wraparound fence that gives you complete privacy from neighbors. However, high fences are one of the first features a burglar looks for, since they know that no neighbors or police driving by will be able to notice anything abnormal occurring at your home from the other side of the fence. For the same reason, if you’re considering heavy landscaping, any large shrubberies or trees should be kept away from the side of your house, otherwise they’ll provide the perfect cover for burglars.
If you’re considering adding a sunroom you should recognize that, with so many breakable windows, this room will be a main target point for intruders. Treat any sunroom like a back patio, and lock entryways between the sunroom and the rest of your house with deadbolts or automatic locks. Don’t forget to add exterior lighting, specifically motion lights, just as you would for the rest of your home’s exterior.
Don’t skimp on materials. If you’re adding new rooms, you may already be investing a hefty sum in building costs, but skimping on proper windows and doors (which should be shatter-resistant and steel, respectively) will only leave you with regrets later. That also means your window and door frames should be built from strong material that an intruder can’t wedge open with a crowbar. Chances are, your home insurance agency will help cut your costs if you inform them of any security updates by reducing your monthly bill.
If you haven’t already, install a home security system. During renovations, doors will be open, unknown people may be walking through your home, and you might not even be home to supervise as often as you should be. Luckily, most well-known, national security systems, like ADT Security offer the option of installing surveillance equipment. If yours doesn’t, you can always take the initiative and plant a few cameras yourself. Not only will this incriminate any thieves, it will also allow you to keep an eye on kids playing too close to construction areas, as well as any workers who may be taking advantage of your dime.
It’s important during renovation to keep the construction in one area of the house at a time. That way, if walls are coming down, or windows and doors are left vulnerable, you can lock up the rest of the house, so that any intruders won’t have immediate access to your entire home.
When replacing doors or windows, instead of leaving paper thin plastic to guard your home against weather and burglars, consider purchasing stronger door and window guards. These are usually used for vacant homes, but if you have open entrances to your home for more than a night, chances are you’ll want a little more protection.
One of the most important things to remember is to only acquire help from contractors with a well-known, positive reputation. After all, you’re letting a stranger (or strangers) into your home, and unless you’ve seen previous, positive, customer reviews, you shouldn’t consider them safe. It’s wise to go the extra step and call one or two previous customers, just to make sure no funny business occured. You may think you’re being paranoid, but any thief will tell you that they might act like professional repairman, then use the inside knowledge on your home later. This goes for any additional workers they may also hire.
Lastly, double-check that at the end of the day, everything is locked up, and your security system is set. This means that any open areas of your home are shut as best as possible and any equipment that needs to be left outside is tagged with an alarm to prevent theft.
Are you looking for a home remodel contractor in the Indianapolis area that you can trust? Call Gettum Associates
Since 1987 Gettum Associates has completed hundreds of projects in the Indianapolis area. And you can feel comfortable knowing they have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
There are many common mistakes homeowners make when rolling their sleeves up and tackling a home improvement project. To avoid making basic DIY errors, you can watch a Google Play funny video app — as a cautionary tale of what NOT to do — and pay attention to these common home repair blunders:
1. Buying Substandard Materials — One of the biggest home renovation mistakes is being cheap with materials. Over time, you will get what you pay for. Buy quality materials and products instead of scrimping.
Photo by Achmie Hering via Wikimedia Commons
2. Inaccurate Measurements — While half an inch one way or the other doesn’t seem like it can make a difference, when it comes to projects like installing flooring or molding, being off even a small amount can set your project up for failure. If in doubt, consult a home improvement website like Homedepot.com for instructions before beginning. There’s a reason for the phrase “measure twice, cut once”.
Photo by Evan-Amos via Wikimedia Commons
3. Not Doing Prep Work — It’s tedious, but proper prep work will save you time and money. Even a simple thing such as vacuuming your subfloor before installing flooring can be the difference between a flawless finish and a funky finish.
Photo by che via Wikimedia Commons
4. Using the Wrong Tool for the Job — When you use the wrong tool, you can end up wrecking the project, wrecking the tool or wrecking yourself. Before you begin a project, check out familyhandyman.com to find out exactly what tools you will need.
Photo by toolstop via Flickr
5. Applying the Wrong Paint Type — Choosing the correct type of paint for the application and finish is just as important as choosing the perfect color, according to HGTV.com. Using flat paint, gloss and semi-gloss on the proper surfaces will help avoid problems with wear, coverage and adherence.
Photo by Daniel Case via Wikimedia Commons
6. Ignoring Your Home's Style — Keep the style of your home in mind when planning remodeling projects. Installing stainless steel countertops in a Spanish style home will look just as out of place as shag carpeting in a Craftsman home. You bought the home because you liked its style, so continue the theme.
photo by Charles & Hudson via Flickr
7. Avoiding Permits — It might seem like an insignificant thing, but permits are important. You may be required to rip out improvements performed without the proper permits and, if something serious happens, such as a fire or water damage, your homeowner's insurance will not cover it.
8. Taking on More Than You Can Handle — Do your research. Make sure you know exactly what the project will cost, what materials will be needed, and the time frame necessary to complete the job. Then assess whether you can actually do the work, or if you need to call in a contractor. When you don’t know your own limitations, you’ll be more tempted to cut corners and take shortcuts.
Photo by Heather Elias via Flickr
Looking for a professional contractor for your next project? Click below:
Not Your Typical Exterior Project
On the shores of Cordry Lake stands an unusual home. At the front, it is a mere 8 feet wide, but it slowly expands to nearly triple its size to 22 feet at the rear. Yes, this vacation home on Cordry Lake is anything but typical … and it was our intention to keep it that way.
When our past customers contacted us to redo the exterior of their lake home, we were excited to see the home for ourselves because a verbal description simply wasn’t enough to completely understand how this 30+ year home was built and situated on the lot. The rear lakeside and left sides of the home provide a three-story vantage point of the lake, while the front and right sides of the house are nestled into the woods.
The exterior was in decent shape, but the homeowners wanted to enjoy their time at the lake – and not spend their weekends repainting the outside of the home every few years. They wanted a low-maintenance exterior and no more painting, so we recommended a high-quality, insulated vinyl siding and stone veneers.
The lake house’s original exterior was a fairly drab “goldenrod” color that did not highlight any of the characteristics of the home. To achieve interest and appeal, we suggested using a variety of finishes to accentuate the unique details of the home. We used both horizontal and vertical siding in complimentary colors, almond colored trims and stone veneer to increase curb appeal and break up the height of the home. This made the home look more like a family’s retreat and less like an odd-shaped box, particularly from the right side, where the home is almost four stories tall.
The biggest challenge of this project was the grading of the lot, which drops dramatically from front to rear. It may be perfect for a billy goat, but not so much for siding installers and masons! To safely install the siding, our team had to set up extensive scaffolding, which at spots was almost four stories high.
Structurally the exterior of the home was sound. Rotten wood and insect infestations can be expected with an old wooden exterior – especially one located on a lake – but we didn’t discover any. In fact, the wood was in such good shape, we were able to house-wrap and install the insulated vinyl siding over the existing wood exterior.
Perhaps the biggest enjoyment from this project, besides giving our customers a beautiful low-maintenance exterior, was being able to work in such a beautiful setting. It’s not often that our crew gets to work alongside of nature. From all vantage points, it certainly was not your typical exterior project.
Budget kitchen remodel ideas
The kitchen is referred to as the "heart of the home," and the "gathering place" for good reason. It's one of the rooms in your home that sees the most activity. If you're looking around your kitchen and feel like it needs something to bring it back to life, you're not alone. The kitchen is an oft-remodeled room, and with good reason. According to Realty Times, the condition of the kitchen impacts the overall appearance of your home, and can be the make-it or break-it feature when it comes to selling. In fact, US News and World Report says approximately 66 percent of the money put into updating your kitchen will be recouped if you do ever decide to sell.
Even if you have no intention of selling, updating your kitchen is the fastest way to change the vibe of your home. Remodeling on a budget is possible. It's all about putting your money into the right features.
Paint is the most cost-effective way of making a dramatic change to any room. If you want a color that stimulates hunger, think red. You can paint the entire kitchen a more soothing tone and use red accents if you'd like, or simply paint the entire room red. According to ThinkQuest, the color red triggers the pituitary and adrenal glands, and may stimulate the sense of smell and appetite.
No matter what color you choose, make sure you purchase a scrubbable paint finish, so messes can easily be washed off the walls.
Another inexpensive way to update the look of your kitchen is to add new hardware to the cabinets and drawers. You'll be surprised by how much this little change helps set the tone of the room. For example, if your old hardware was ornate, new clean lines can modernize the room.
Think of window treatments as the personality of the room. It's easy to spot a country kitchen by a set of gingham curtains, whereas a simple blind can accentuate an industrial kitchen. The roller shades at justblinds.com have incorporated the many different styles of kitchen decor into their shades and blinds, making it easy for you to choose one that speaks to the overall mood of your kitchen.
While curtains were once a nice, flouncy touch, many people found they collected dust and had to be frequently laundered. A roller shade or blind not only addresses the decorative elements of your kitchen, but can also be wiped down when needed for ease of cleaning.
Switching out old tired kitchen lights for something new and exciting will give your kitchen an automatic face lift, suggests Better Homes and Gardens. You may be surprised by the options available online and at your local home improvement store. Unless you're installing something complicated, replacing a light fixture is normally a task you can take on yourself.
If stone countertops are not in your immediate future, take note. Tiles of all types make for a beautiful countertop surface, and you can easily learn to install them yourself. Call your local home improvement store to ask about their classes on tile installation. All that's left to do is choose a style that works with your overall design scheme.
Flooring options have never been so wide open or so reasonably priced. If you've always wanted tile or hardwood floors but couldn't afford them, consider one of the new laminates that mimic the look with surprising detail.
Curb Appeal: Landscaping That Boosts Your Home's Value
They say that first impressions count and that is certainly true when it comes to houses. If you can create an instant curb appeal for your home then you are pretty likely to boost its value, as well as enjoying the fact that you live in a great looking property.
Money well spent
The National Association of Home Builders has reported that many homeowners are spending a lot more money on the outside of their houses than ever before, a trend supported by statistics that strongly suggest that a property with good landscaping will command a higher sale value.
Real-estate agents love curb appeal
A study carried out by Arbor National Mortgage concluded that an overwhelming 84% of Real-estate agents believed that a property with an abundance of trees and shrubs would fetch as much as a 5% higher premium on the sale value compared to a similar property that had not had any landscaping done.
The big question for many homeowners looking to improve the outside of their property by landscaping is how much to spend and what are the best things to spend your money on. You need to set a realistic budget and try to be as creative as possible with what you buy, but bear in mind that transforming the look of your garden is a work-in-progress and you don’t have to do it all at once.
Getting some ideas
There is nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from other gardens that you like the look of and looking through books and magazines to see which plants, trees and also what style of decking and fencing might be best suited to your property.
You may find that some local nurseries as well as some of the major garden retailers offer a design service to help you create the perfect look and some of these offer their design service for free if you are buying the plants from them.
If you are on a tight budget then you might want to consider making an instant impact by planting a large-caliper shade tree which will instantly give your front yard a more established garden look which might otherwise take a lot longer to create.
Remember that small plants and shrubbery can quickly grow so when planting your beds and borders make sure you allow enough room for them to reach maturity and to avoid suffocation which can kills some of the plants off if they are too close together.
Keeping bushes trimmed
A border of bushes and trees helps to create curb appeal and smartens the overall appearance of your property but just remember to keep them trimmed to a reasonable height. Home security companies such as selecthomesecurity.com say that screening your property from view by letting the bushes and trees grow too tall will present a potential security risk as an intruder could be able to break-in undetected if their actions are covered by overgrown foliage.
Other simple ideas to consider when landscaping your garden include using mulch to tidy up bedding areas and use some planted tubs on the decking area or patio if you have one.
With a bit of creative thinking and even if you are on a tight budget you can quickly add to the curb appeal of your property with some attractive landscaping.