Tips For Living In a Wooden House In Winter

Wooden houses are pretty much made for Winter. Think about it: a nice, roaring fire in the fireplace. Snow falling softly outside. A twinkling Christmas tree in the corner. Everyone sipping on hot cocoa and singing carols. It is an image that is deeply engrained in the consciousness of many and for good reason.

But you don’t have to rent a ski cabin to get that feeling. You can find it in your own log cabin, a gorgeous and valuable bit of real estate that is perfect for anyone who wants that serenity and calm all year long.

Wooden houses take a bit more care through the year. So here is what you need to know before you buy your own log cabin, so it will be ready once the weather turns cold.

Take Local Weather Into Account

Not everyone has extreme weather where they live. If your Winters aren’t especially harsh then you can probably get away with minimal preparation and be fine. But if you live in an area that gets very wet or cold you will have to take extra care so you don’t damage the lumber, something that is very easy to do without proper wood treatment.

Heat is another factor, so if you live in a very hot climate make sure you are taking the same precautions every year. The sun can be just as damaging as the damp.

Don’t worry, even extreme weather can’t break down the strength and beauty of wood, as long as you take care of it. With proper intervention a wooden house can be passed down for generations.

Make Sure That Fireplace Works

That roaring fire in the image above? That can be your reality but you have to make sure you fireplace is in tip top order. Any improperly maintained fireplace is, of course, a risk. But in a wooden house you have an additional threat if sparks catch, so don’t skimp out!

Make sure your home is zoned for a fireplace. Keep the chimney cleaned and sweep it every year before the cold months when you are going to be using it most. Put a good dampener on that can be opened and closed easily. That will let you open it for use, but keep it closed when not in use so air doesn’t leap out. It also stops critters like birds, bats, arachnids, insects and small mammals from wandering inside and causing a major headache.

Be Ready To Stain and Seal

A log cabin has to be restained every three to five years to keep the wood in good condition. This is well worth the cost as your home is an investment that is worth a great deal more than what you put into the upkeep.

Failing to restain your house will lead to cracks in the wood, warping and even rot. Replacing logs is expensive and difficult, usually requiring a contractor experienced in woodwork to come and do it for you. The staining, on the other hand, is a DIY job most people can complete on their own. It can run you anywhere between $1500 and $5000 depending on the size of the house and any extensions (such as wooden garages), but for an expense every few years it is relatively low.

Weatherstripping Is Your Best Friend

Even without any gaps in the wood, leaks can happen in log cabins. Like any dwelling there are drafts around windows and doors, or in attics and basements. This can be frustrating for homeowners who want to keep the chill away from their abode, but worry about the high energy costs needed to do it. Some turn to firewood to keep the warmth up, but that does nothing if it is escaping through the cracks.

Weatherstripping is inexpensive and easy to do yourself. You can seal the windows and doors to keep air from leaking and keep that warmth in with your family. Most hardware stores have kits with full instructions and YouTube has great information videos showing the process.

It even helps once Summer comes, keeping that cool air inside!

Extra Insulation Makes For a Cozy Cottage

If you don’t mind a heavier project that takes a bit more time and expertise, you may want to consider adding some extra insulation to your home. Insulation helps to keep from air escaping the way weatherstripping does. It is especially helpful in wooden homes because of drafts pushing through the logs.

The attic is one particular area where extra insulation can completely change the way your house conserves energy. Warm air tends to move upward, so if you have a drafty attic space, even if it is a small crawlspace, it can let out a lot of it. Adding in some insulation will keep it trapped inside from the leakiest part of the house, which keeps it down in the rooms where you and your family live.

Heavy Curtains Make a Big Difference

If insulation isn’t possible, or if you just want an additional tool to keep your house warm, heavy curtains can do the trick. Thick enough to block out the light, these babies also keep heat from going through the window. The heavier the fabric, the better the warm air will remain where it is meant to be, in your house.

You can use a lighter weight curtain if you worry about reinforcing the rods enough to keep something heavier in place. Just make sure you add a layer or two to give the highest possible barrier around your windows.

Keep Those Critters Out

Finally, you have the critter problem. Insects, arachnids, small mammals like rats, mice and even raccoons… these are all possible hazards to your wooden home. Termites can eat right through the wood and other creatures might claw and gnaw in through the lumber.

Be prepared to seal your house every Winter and consider spraying for pests before the first snow hits. That will keep the problem at bay before it ever gets out of hand.

Green Homes – Ugly Ducklings Or Beautiful Swans?

A “green” home is a home that is highly energy efficient, has excellent indoor environment, and is built to exceed local building codes. So are they ugly then? Look like the Jetson’s space-age house? So obvious they would stick out like a sore thumb? No. No. and No. A green home looks just like conventional construction inside and out.

The beginning of a green home is a set of plans that starts with a conventional floor plan and elevations. Then an experienced green home building will modify the systems of the house to accommodate green home features and energy saving devises – A geothermal system rather than air conditioning; in-floor heating rather than a conventional natural gas forced air system; a grey water recapture system; energy efficient windows, doors, appliances, and water heater; and high quality, high ‘R’rated insulation.

The best part is that these systems work very different from their conventional counterparts, but are invisible to the homeowner and their guests. The home will be quieter and cleaner without the dust and noise of conventional forced air heating. And the energy cost savings are substantial, depending on your particular situation.

Energy Star appliances sip electricity but are similar or identical to your current appliances. And cabinets and trim can be identical to conventional houses or use recycled material or earth-friendly woods for a more eco-friendly alternatives.

The cladding and shingles on the outside of the home are no different than a conventional home making the home blend in to its neighborhood seamlessly. However, the market value is probably higher than the surrounding homes due to its energy saving advantages and tax incentives.

So a green home is a beautiful swan, not an ugly duckling, at all!

11 Tips for Stripping Wallpaper: How to Get Rid of Ugly Wallpaper!

I broke my promise to myself and stripped wallpaper again. The only reason I did this is for $100,000 profit. My family and I did not have time to wait for professional help. We sold our investment property before finishing the work and needed the home ready for appraisal.

While stripping the wallpaper, I realized that many homemakers get wrong advice for this horrendous task. After years of experience on over 30 houses, I offer my tried and best tips:

1. Use a clothes steamer or rent a professional steamer

2. Soak a large section of the wall

3. Run a “Paper Tiger” scoring tool across the damp section

4. Steam the section again

5. Spray the section with fabric softener and hot water

6. Score the section with the paper tiger again

7. Steam again

8. Remove any curling edges (sometimes large areas peel off)

9. Scrape with a six inch sheetrock blade

10. Repeat the above steps on the section until most scrapes off easily

11. Scrub with hot water, TSP, and a sponge with a scratchy surface

Cautions: Use the Paper Tiger gingerly so you don’t scratch or gouge the walls. Use gloves with the harsh chemical TSP.

Don’t live with ugly wallpaper any longer!

P. S. Please email me if you have any additional tips on stripping wallpaper that would help others!

Copyright © 2005 Jeanette J. Fisher. All rights reserved. (You may publish this article in its entirety with the following author’s information with live links only.)

Ten Tips for Caring for Your Betta Fish

Betta fish, also called Siamese fighting fish are one of the most popular types of fish found in homes across the world. Their vibrant color and active lifestyle seems to draw in fish fanatics as well as those who have never had fish before. Betta’s are relatively easy to care for and their low maintenance is particularly appealing to people who would like to have fish but don’t have a lot of time to care for them.

Once you bring your Betta’s home you should begin to familiarize yourself with their movements and typical behavior patterns. When you look at your fish after you’ve had them for awhile you’ll know if something is wrong, if they are not feeling well, or if the water in their bowl is not in the best condition simply by being observant.

1. Make sure the jar or bowl that you keep your Betta in is big enough so that he can swim around and not bump or tear his fins or scales. Also be sure there is plenty of surface area so that he can get enough oxygen.

2. Your Betta will thrive in the cleanest water that you can provide for him. He does not require a filtration system, but you should change out a third of his water every three days so it stays fresh and clean and keeps your finned friend from getting bacterial or fungal infections. Aged water (water that has set out for twenty four hours) is what should be used to replace the old water.

3. Do not put your Betta fish with other Betta’s. They are called Siamese fighting fish because they are, in fact, fighting fish. They will tear at one another, often causing the death of at least one fish before they stop. Betta’s can be coupled with algae eaters, guppies, or corydorus catfish safely.

4. Use a turkey baster to clean small particles of uneaten food or debris from the bottom of the bowl or jar. Allowing this debris to sit at the bottom of the jar will cause the water to become cloudy, unsanitary, and to smell awful.

5. The PH of your tank should be at exactly 7.0. You can get a PH testing kit at your pet store along with solutions to minimize or increase the PH of your water.

6. When you clean the plants, rocks, or decorations in the bowl you should never use soap on them. It’s very hard to completely rinse all soap from these items and the soap residue can harm or even kill your Betta. Instead, use warm water and an abrasive brush to clean his things.

7. Keep your Betta tank, jar, or bowl covered! Your Beta will jump and you don’t want him to end up flopping on the tabletop! Keeping the water level at least two inches from the top of the tank should also cut down on this problem.

8. Your Betta is a meat eater and likes live foods, such as brine shrimp the best. Frozen bloodworms are also a good choice for your meat eater. Most Betta fish will happily eat the Betta pellets sold at most pet stores. For a special treat every now and again you should offer some live food! You’ll have fun watching him eat it up!

9. Do not decorate your Betta bowl with rocks or marbles that may cause your Betta to get stuck between or under them. Be sure that they are a flat smooth surface that provides no risk to the health of your fish.

10. Remember that your fish is a living, breathing responsibility. You need to feed, clean, and care for your Betta just like you would any other pet. If he’s sick take him to the vet, if he’s hungry feed him, if his home is dirty, clean it.

That’s it! These ten tips for caring for your Betta fish will have you well on your way to keeping a healthy fish. Internet Betta Groups or library books can be a great source of information should you want to learn more about your finned friend!

The FSBO Seller’s Top Ten Tips For Selling Their Home For Sale By Owner

If you’re considering selling your home by owner, congratulations! You’re part of a growing trend toward FSBO property sales. If you’re worried that going the FSBO seller route means that you’ll miss out on all of those great agency sales tactics, you’re wrong. You can do the same things that any real estate agent would suggest. To get you started, here’s a list of the top ten things you can do for your home when you’re trying to sell your home by owner.

1. Create multiple means of exposure. Houses sell when they’re exposed to potential buyers. The more exposure you create, the more likely you are to sell. “Multiple means of exposure” means listing it on a FSBO site, providing pictures, tours, and information buyers want to know. Advertise your home in the newspaper. Print flyers that list the details of your home and be available to show home. Some buyers have turned to television ads for sale on real estate channels to attract buyers. The more exposure you provide, the easier it is for potential buyers to find.

2. De-clutter rooms and closets. A home looks nicer and shows better when it isn’t cluttered. Remove magazines, books, furniture, stored items and things you no longer want. You’ll have to pack all of this stuff before you move, so why not get an early start?

3. Fix peeling paint and other minor imperfections. Peeling paint can be a sign of deferred maintenance, bad painting or water damage. All of these things will turn off a buyer. Putting a fresh coat of paint on your walls and ceilings is easy and inexpensive.

4. Consider staging and research some ideas on the internet. Staging involves making your home visually attractive to potential buyers. It may involve re-arranging the furniture, renting new furniture, repainting, re-carpeting or minor redecoration to show off your home’s best qualities. Staging doesn’t have to break the bank, but a home that shows well sells. Whatever you can do to improve the look of your home will help your buyer see its potential.

5. Price the home right. Check recent sales in your neighborhood for an idea of what your home is worth. Do not overprice your home because if your price is substantially higher than other homes in your neighborhood. You will not be able to sell because overpriced homes whether Fsbo or MLS do not sell. Buyers want to feel as though they’re getting value for their money. If your home is the most expensive one in the area, buyers will focus on finding a comparable home that’s priced lower than yours.

6. Always have a yard sign and flyers. When potential buyers visit your neighborhood to see a particular home, they’ll look for other homes that are for sale. If visitors don’t know your home is for sale, you may miss potential sale opportunities.

7. Fsbo sellers need to create an online listing for their home on the internet and may consider using the FSBO marketing services that are available on the web. The key to selling your home is proper exposure and your chances of finding a buyer are greater when you make it highly visible to potential buyers.

8. Answering your phone is paramount as a Fsbo seller. It sounds simple, but many people who are selling their homes Fsbo miss potential buyers who are calling to inquire. Make absolutely certain you or someone else is available to take calls. Don’t assume that an answering machine or voice mail service is sufficient because many potential buyers won’t leave a message when they call.

9. Spend some time on landscaping. Making the outside of a home look appealing and fresh is just as important as making the inside look nice. Remove or trim bushes. In the summer, plant attractive flowers, cover beds with wood chips or mulch and keep things weed free. Mow the lawn frequently. If you don’t know anything about landscaping, check with a local nursery, gardening club or even a nearby university with a botanical program. Students are often willing to take on landscaping projects.

10. Partner with a bank or lender to offer potential financing sources for prospective buyers. Local banks, credit unions and mortgage brokers may be able to offer financing deals that can help a buyer get into your home. Offer all visitors financing information from your local bank or lender when they tour your home. You want to make sure any potential buyer is qualified to buy the home.

These are just a few of the things you can do to help your home stand out. In current market conditions, selling a home is about pricing, location and exposure. If you have all three of these elements in place, there is no reason to think you won’t sell your home as effectively as any real estate agent.