Improving Your Property’s MPG

energy efficency star ratingsThe metaphor often used in the commercial building industry is that a building is like a car.  It is a complex mechanical system that functions best when it receives regular care and maintenance that includes inspections and tune-ups.  But unlike buildings, new cars must have a sticker that states their fuel efficiency as MPG (miles per gallon), so prospective buyers can make more informed decisions.

If the metaphor holds and buildings are like cars, then there must be a way to judge a building’s fuel efficiency in order to, in effect, give it an MPG rating.  In fact, in the United States and Canada, there is way to learn your property’s PG and that is by utilizing the DOE Energy Star’s free, on-line system called Portfolio Manager.

In a previous post, we discussed how to benchmark your building or portfolio of buildings.  Benchmarking is simply recording the energy consumption of your assets over time.  Once twelve months’ worth of utility bills have been input into Portfolio Manager, you can print out your Statement of Energy Performance that includes the familiar Energy Star Rating, a number from 1-100 that represents a particular property’s energy efficiency, like car’s MPG sticker.

Once you have your building’s Energy Star Rating, you may be wondering how to improve it and the answer is, it depends.  The first thing to bear in mind is that the age of a property has been shown to have no correlation to its Energy Star performance, so whether your building is old or new, there is room for improvement.

Depending upon the complexities of your building’s systems, you may wish to contract with an energy auditor for a general or detailed whole-building energy audit commonly referred to as “retro-commissioning” for a large Houston corporate event venue.  Or for smaller building’s, you may be able to perform an informal, less detailed audit yourself.

What to Expect From an Energy Audit

An energy auditor will ask to see the utility bills associated with a property in order to assess energy performance and look for spikes or abnormalities in year to year consumption.  They will also take an inventory of all the systems to be assessed and how those systems may be inter-related.  They will consider how the building is operating as compared to how it was designed to operate – including analyzing costs and identifying opportunities to reduce energy consumption.

An experienced energy auditor will ask to tour the property at night also, in order to see what and how systems are running.  Recommendations for improving energy efficiency should be contained in the final report.

Recommendations for Common Area Savings

  • Replace all incandescents with Energy Star compact fluorescents or LEDs (light emitting diodes)
  • Install photosensors, occupancy (vacancy) sensors and timers in areas that receive periodic but not continued use.
  • Weatherize common areas, including caulking windows and weather stripping doors.
  • Consider installing Energy Star fans.  People feel cooler when there is air movement and you may be able to set back your thermostat for greater savings.
  • Install programmable thermostats and set the evening temperatures back by 10-15°F for 8 hours.
  • Create a maintenance schedule for major systems and stick to it, ensuring efficiency and longevity of your equipment.
  • Set the temperature on water heaters to 120°F and insulate the pipes and the tank.
  • Set the pool temperature to no more than 78°F and hot tubs to 96°F in the summer and to no more than 102°F in the winter.

Which Style of Carpet is Best?

different colors of carpetCarpet is one of the most popular flooring choices for new homes, re-modeling and commercial.

It’s popular because of the range of different styles, textures and colors that can bring warmth and comfort to any room in your home of office.

There are a number of assorted kinds of carpet like Saxony, Cable, Frieze, Texture, Loop and Pattern.

Each of these kinds of carpet is manufactured differently which adds to its distinctive qualities.

Cable – Cable carpeting has a bold, chunky look to it because it is made with a “fat” yarn system.

Because of this, it is very functional and durable especially in high traffic areas likes family rooms and dens. For a more modern look cable would be the style of choice.

Saxony – A Saxony carpet is a cut pile carpet with a smooth, level finish that has a rich, elegant look A Saxony is perfect for an area such as a formal dining room or living room.

Be aware that Saxony carpet will tend to show footprints and vacuum marks more readily than other types of carpet.

Texture – The most popular type of carpet is the Texture style. It’s popular because it fits any room in your house and it is easier to maintain because it doesn’t show vacuum marks and footprints. If you are looking for a great carpet for any room then a Textured carpet will definitely do the trick.

Frieze – Among the tighter weaves that are available is a Frieze style. The yarns utilized to create this style of carpet are more tightly twisted than other styles.

This makes it very resistant to crushing and matting which makes it more durable in high traffic regions like FIT Properties.

Loop – If you are looking for a durable and casual look and feel to your carpet for your home or office then a Loop style may be right for you. weave of carpetsOne of the common names for a Loop style of carpet is Berber which is typically found in family rooms, offices and sometimes in kitchen areas.

This is very durable type of carpet which makes it good for these high traffic areas. If you are looking for new office flooring then you will definitely want to check out a commercial level loop.

This style will wear very well in your lobby, waiting room, office or reception area.

Pattern – If you are looking for a more formal style for a master bedroom, living room or dining room then you may want to look at a Pattern style.

Patterns can be cut pile or loop or a combination of both and come in bold or more subtle designs.

There are many different styles, colors, textures and price points of carpet on the market today.

Hopefully, this article has been able to at least narrow down your choices so that you can pick the right style for what your room requires.

The Horrors of Water Damage

water damaged houseI’ve seen all kinds of water damage. Simple things from flooring just getting a little warped all the way to full floor joists rotting away to dust due to all the water over the years.

Water damage is a pretty serious thing.

Water damage can literally destroy your home or at the least negatively impact the value of your house.

The problem is that there are all kinds of different avenues that allow for water damage.

For example, a pipe bursting under the sink can completely flat out your entire house. If you have a slab house it’s not the biggest problem in the world depending on your flooring.

But if it’s house with a full basement, not only is your first floor going to be damaged, but now the water is going to be dripping down into your basement as well and causing problems with whatever you have down there.

This kind of water damage is pretty obvious.

And calling in a water damage specialty company like water damage recovery Houston will definitely make your life a lot easier.

But the worst kind of water damage is the one that you really don’t see for years as it slowly decomposes the wood in your home without you even knowing it.

Small little leaks in your roof can go on for years and years unnoticed and do a ton of damage to your trusses and sheathing underneath your shingles.

Not only that a little leak that starts in one place can end up 15 feet away at another place making it even more difficult to pinpoint where the actual damage is.

And one of the worst parts about water damage is usually the mold or bacteria that grows afterword. This is just as damaging to your health as the water damages to your home.

One of the best ways to combat water damage is to make a yearly inspection of your home from top to bottom.

This includes getting up on the roof and making sure all your shingles are complete and lying down correctly. Also look at any flashing that may need to be tarred or caulked.

Then slowly work your way down.

Make sure your siding is nice and tight against the house and there are no obvious bubbles or bulges, especially if you have vinyl siding.

Check your Windows and all the seals between your house and the window frame itself.

If you see any cracks or anything, get some caulk and run a bead where you see the problem.

That inspect all the pipes in your home. All you have to do is just make sure that their dry and not everything looks good.

Again, look for any cracks or dryness or anything that looks out of the ordinary. And if you see any kind of leak immediately call your plumber.

And last but not least is the basement.

You need to physically look at the walls to make sure that there is no moisture on them or any sort of cracks or leaks.

You want to see a nice dry basement with no visible water stains on the floor or walls as well as mold or anything growing anywhere.

The inspection shouldn’t take you that long, perhaps a few hours.

And like I said it only needs to be done once a year. But something most people don’t think about. But you should, it’s important!

So get to your calendar now and make him date and time when you’re going to do your inspection, or even hire somebody else to do it for you if you don’t have the time.

But get it done, or you’re going to regret it!

What does a property management company do?

private property signUsually if you’re looking at a property management company, you either own multiple properties, or you’re looking to leave a property for a long time and need it to be well kept while you’re away.

So what actually can a property management company do for you?

Honestly the list of services can go on forever. It all depends on which company you choosing to take over your property or properties.

Although the actual company may not do the physical work, they usually have a fetid list of professionals that they will use in order to get whatever services you need for your home completed.

So basically a good property management company can do about anything.

For example, say you’re just going off to some great new job you just got in another country and your new contract requires you to be there for a year.

You probably don’t want to just leave your property unattended the whole time you’re away.

Using a property management company you can have the place looked after, all your lawn maintenance, any security issues and even repairs all done for you while you’re away.

Or perhaps your are real estate investor and you have multiple properties.

You’re starting to realize trying to stage a home to sell, or dealing with potential renters and all the vetting and contracts that go with it are getting to be just a little too much for you.

Again, this is what a good property management company is there to help you with.

In finding them is pretty easy as well.

Let’s say I was looking for property management companies in Houston.

All I would do is go to Google and type in “property management companies in Houston” and it would spit out a bunch of results.

From there what I would do is look at all of the reviews that I could find on each of the companies to see who actually took care of their customers and cared about my business.

Always look for reviews or at least references when dealing with any sort of management company regardless of where you are.

You’re just not going to know who’s good or bad just by meeting them are talking to them on the phone.

You really need to find out how they treat their customers and the only way to do that is to find their customers and either talk to them personally or read what they are written as a review.

And like I said at the beginning of this article, a good property management company can pretty much do anything that you need done.

For a fee of course!

Real Estate Terminology & Definitions You Should Know

real estate termsWhen it comes to dealing with real estate matters such as selling a house, you have a lot more to know other than pricing and staging.

The moment you come face to face with a real estate broker, you should be well prepared in the terms he will be using.

Ready, for your lessons? Here are some terminologies you might need to know from we buy houses Houston.

Papers and documents

Affidavit of title – this is a written statement that property sellers make under oath. It is to prove that they own the property and that there have been no problems and defects in the property title.

CMA (competitive market analysis) – a document often prepared by the agent or broker for the seller. It contains the price comparison of properties similar to what the seller owns. These cognate properties are those that are recently sold. The similarities may be in terms of amenities and style, location or both.

Closing statement – a document wherein all the real estate cash transactions are written in a detailed manner. It is a document that usually contains all the credits, cash received, cash paid and all other charges.

Terms about the property

BOM (back on market) – used to describe a property or listing that is placed in the market right after it has been removed temporarily.

DOM (days on market) – refers to the number of days that a particular property has been on the market and in a for sale status.
Curb appeal – the impact that a house or property can give to the viewers visually. This is also a description given to head-turner houses or those that can easily catch the attention of others.

Terms that involve cash

Depreciation – refers to the loss of value of a certain property. The loss of value is usually caused by functional or physical deterioration.

Appraisal – refers to the actual market value of the property in the market. The one who determines this is called an appraiser. The process of knowing the market value of a property is by comparing it to the recent sales of similar properties.

Escrow account – also called as a trust account. This is established by the broker and is used for keeping funds like earnest money for the advantage of the seller.

Commission split – the percentage of the commission that is split or divided between the broker or sales agent and the sales brokerage.

Other terminologies

Bidding war – used to describe a situation wherein two or more buyers battle for one property. The battle or competition is done through a bidding process wherein all participants give a higher offer that the others.

Buyer’s market – is a condition of the market wherein the supply of properties is higher than the demand. This is also referred to a market condition when the price of a certain kind of property is at the lowest.

Knowing these terms in advance is not to impress the real estate agent, more to that, it is to save you from being tricked especially that scammers are continually multiplying nowadays.

Plumbing tips – The Right Plumbing Part

plumbing pipesI’ve had a job stall for a week over a plumbing part! This is not an exaggeration, but also is not a doomsday or fear factor approach.

If you plan your project and take it step by step, the better chance is that your plumbing parts will fit and the job will get done in a timely, professional manner.

Plumbing parts include washers, hoses, fiberglass conduit,  tubes, connectors, drain lines, clamps and all the necessary fittings to complete a plumbing repair or replacement.

This does not include new replacement fixtures or units, such as a new toilet or vanity, but the impact can be the same – one missing part can prevent a bathroom form being usable.

Check To See If The Plumbing Part Is In Stock

Before I give my grand example, I will suggest that you make a list of what will be needed to complete the project at hand.

Now, I’ve been doing this for a few decades and still have to make two trips for parts about every third job.

The learning curve never seems to end in plumbing – at least for me.

Nevertheless, it helps to make a list of needed plumbing parts. Be specific when looking at things.

Small parts often look alike, but trying to use a right handed toilet flush handle on a left handed Model just won’t work.

And using incorrect parts will just result in leaks and water damage.

After you make your list, it often helps to call and ask if the plumbing parts are in stock.

If not, sometimes there is a substitute or another way of effecting the repair.

Find out before you make two trips for plumbing parts.

If In Doubt, Ask A Plumber

I often call my plumber buddy, not just to pick his brain but often enough that he suspects that.

We have coffee occasionally and I always offer to treat him.

If he does not have the plumbing part I need in his pocket, ninety percent of the time it’s on his truck and costs me less than I would pay for it.

Real plumbers know the shortcuts and the areas where you cannot afford to take a shortcut.

This applies to plumbing parts and materials as much as installation labor.

Now for my story about an eclectic friend and NASA scientist.

He built his bathroom walls to resemble a ship. None of the standard bath fixtures fit right and everything took double the labor to install.

Last I heard he was three years into the project and waiting for a plumbing part from Japan to finish.

Plumbing tips – Antique Plumbing Fixtures: For The Inside of Your Home

When you think of antique plumbing fixtures, you are probably thinking about pipes, and fittings that go under your home that are antique.

However, there are so much more to fixtures than just what will go under your home, and lay in the ground. Sinks, bath tubs, faucets, and toilets can all be referred to as fixtures as well.

There are so many different kinds as well as brands, you should be glad that you know of a great brand to choose from for your fixtures.

You will find many styles to choose from, that will suit all different decor that you might have in your home.

Choosing your fixtures will be a lot of fun, and you will have lots to choose from, but where are the best places that you should look to purchase these?

Tip! Now this is where I really appreciated plumbing. We, of course, being among the blessed elite, had normal’ plumbing in our house with running water.

The first place that you can look for antique plumbing fixtures would be your local home improvement store.

You will find that they sell fixtures in all shapes and sizes, no matter what it is that you might be looking for.

You will get a great variety to choose from, and the color choices as well as finishes will blow you away.

You should make sure that you know what you are looking for as far as design and colors when you go shopping sop that you will not feel over whelmed, and have to much to choose from.

Another great place to look for antique plumbing fixtures will be your local plumbing supply store.

You will see that they will have the fixtures as well as the pipes and the fittings that you might need.

You will find that there are many for you to choose from, and the variety here will be nice as well to choose from.

You might even find that the prices are a little cheaper because a plumbing supply store does specialize in everything that you need for plumbing.

This will mean that you might even come out with a great deal, and that would be nice to be able to cut some corners on your fixtures as well as the pipes and the fittings.

Tip! A remodeling project might include new plumbing design or new plumbing installation.

You will want to meet with the plumber and all contractors involved and develop a timeline, so everyone works together and the project goes smoothly.

Searching online will bring you to many antique plumbing fixtures.

However, when you buy something such as fixtures online, you will need to be sure to that sizes that you need.

This will ensure that you get the right sizes that will fit your water works, and when you get the fixtures or parts in the mail from buying online, you will be able to use them.

As you can see, there are many places that you can find antique plumbing fixtures.

Whatever kind you might be looking for, you are going to see that there are plenty to choose from and you should have no problems at all finding what it is that you will need.

Plumbing – 5 DIY Mail Order Plumbing Books To Buy

Too often when we need some plumbing done we pick up the phone and call the local plumber and there are times when that’s just fine but there are also times when you can save money and do it yourself. So why not check out these 5 DIY Mail Order Plumbing Books?

1. Collins Complete DIY Manual

This book has become a best seller internationally. It’s a trusted reference book for homeowners who want to undertake their own projects and for professionals too. It’s an authoritative source that covers just about every aspect related to home improvements, not just plumbing. The revision has some great new photos and diagrams.

2. Readers Digest DIY Manual – Revised

This book has had an entire facelift from cover to cover with new photographs, new artwork, and a fresh new design layout but it still has all that great material that the original held.

This book is filled with useful information from decorating to renovating, to fixing, to building. So whether you need to install a new set of taps or you need to construct a bedroom this book can help. It’s revised so it has some updated text and revised practices for accomplishing the job. There are also updates to materials to use.
Tip! How much plumbing changes you will need to make will depend on what is occurring in your bathroom. If fixtures are in the same place as the old ones your biggest plumbing job will be hooking up the new taps and the toilet.

There is even a new section on assembling furniture, adding a deck, and wiring your home entertainment center. You can save a lot of money using this book as a guide.

3. Home Improvement 1-2-3 Expert Advice From Home Depot

This is a real classic! There are 350 projects and 3,500 photographs in this book and more than 100 illustrations and charts. There are chapters on plumbing, wallpaper, painting, electrical systems, floors, doors, windows, shelves, cabinets, insulation, exteriors, heating, air conditioning, ventilation, and so much more.

You get very explicit directions no matter which project you choose. And there are projects designed for every skill level. You’ll also find some great short cuts.
Tip! DIY plumbing isn’t that difficult if you know what you are up against. When you understand your options you can choose the best repair and get busy.

4. The Complete Photo Guide to Home Improvement: Over 1700 Photos, 250 Step-by-Step Projects

This is truly one of the best home improvement books on the market. In fact it is more like a manual. No matter what your project is this book will have the solution.

Whether you are planning to install a bathroom, build a laundry room, install a new set of shelves, or build that fabulous deck out back this book will take you through the steps from start to finish.

5. New Complete Guide to Home Repair & Improvement

This is actually the largest DIY manual on the market with more than 600 pages and 500 projects. It’s got plenty of colorful illustrations to help you through the steps and it is organized into 4 large sections based on subject.

No matter what the project that you want to undertake you’ll find it in this book. In fact it’s like having your very own tutor right beside you.

Doing it yourself can not only save a bundle of money it can actually be a lot of fun. And a great way to get into the role of doing your own home repairs is to get a couple DIY mail order plumbing books online. So what are you waiting for?

What Colors Suite your Bedroom? A Guide to Choosing the Colors of your Bedroom

bedroom color stylesWhen altering bedroom design, carefully assess your color options. Correct decor strategies use colors to build on a bedroom’s spirit and balance. Room walls and bedding colors can significantly alter a bedroom’s mood and ambiance.

The next time you’re in your bedroom, take a moment to see the colors surrounding you. Is the room in need of a makeover?

If so, keep these color tips to transform your bedroom’s moods into a more relaxed and livable environment.

White is commonly linked to innocence and purity. It provides the best color to use as a background due to its simplicity. This simplicity provides a good backdrop to bring out other aspects of a room.

Utilize white bedding and wall colors if you want to highlight other areas of your bedroom. Be careful when choosing a specific hue of white, as stark white often appears blue.

To add intensity and mystery to your bedroom, consider black. Black is frequently associated with intensity and masculinity. Using black correctly can add intrigue to your bedroom’s ambiance. If you paint your room black, be careful not to overpower the lighter tones of your room. Because black is associated with the somber, you should be cognizant of this mood creeping into your decor. Overusing blacks makes a room cramped and subdued.

Modern interior designers use a lot of gray in their bedroom decor. Like white, gray is a nice neutral color that complements framed artwork. Consider grays if your room has large windows and adequate lighting. Gray should not be the only color used while redesigning your bedroom. Too much gray will make a bedroom feel dull. Complement your gray bedroom colors with warmer hues.

Evoking passion, red and pink can be a striking addition to your bedroom. Darker reds produce earthy tones that are a prettier striking substitute to brown. For a calmer alternative to red, use pastel pink. Pink’s lighter hues evoke a softer mood. This delicate ambiance makes pink a popular bedroom color. Pink is good at promoting impressions of calm.

Green is undeniably linked to the outdoors for most people. It is also a well-balanced color on the RGB color spectrum. These two qualities make green a color evocative of tranquility, harmony and peace. Green is also highly adaptive. Lighter tones of green provide a calming neutral background, while darker greens are good at absorbing glare.

Blue and purple are colors conveying peacefulness, introspection and quiet. When most see blue, they think of water. People believe this serene evocation is helpful for sleep. Purple is associated with art and thought. Lavender tones provide subtle qualities of quiet and calm, while lightly adding a hint of passionate red.

Blue and purple are also colors that can make a dark room darker. If your room lacks adequate lighting, avoid choosing a hue of blue or purple because these colors can also add gloominess to your room.

Representative of the sun, the colors yellow and orange denote energy and life. Yellow is the more energetic of the two colors. Warm paleused western saddles yellows and oranges can be inviting if used on your walls. Orange’s vitality is closely associated with health and well-being. Add some optimism and light to your darkly lit bedroom by including some tones of orange along your walls.

Choosing bedding and wall colors can have an enormous impact on the ambiance and mood of your bedroom. Though most colors evoke the general qualities described above, your response to them may be different. Be aware of this when choosing what colors to use in your bedroom. You’ll find the right bedroom colors will provide more relaxation to your nights, and balance to your days.

The same goes with what you add to your room to accent wall colors. Things like colored glass objects can bring coolness (blue glass) or warmness (amber glass) to a room and even offset other trends. Objects that are made from natural materials like a stained bed frame or used western saddles can bring further warmth and calm to your bedroom.