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.

9 Tips To Restoration And Clean-Up After Smoke And Fire Damage

A recent wildfire in Herriman, Utah (20 miles south of Salt Lake City) caused well over 1400 families to evacuate their homes. It took firefighters several days to bring the blaze under control and only 4 homes were actually lost. The families who were able to return to their homes were faced with a daunting task. Even if their homes didn’t suffer actual fire damage, many homeowners were completely unprepared for the huge job of restoring and cleaning up the smoke, ash and carbon residue that covered every inch of everything they owned in their homes and around their property.

Here are 9 tips for cleaning up your home and property after a fire.

  • Pressure wash or scrub all exterior surfaces including walls, walks, drives, decks, windows and screens.
  • Wash all interior walls and hard surfaces with a steam cleaner. Don’t forget inside cabinets, drawers and closets. Steam undersides of furniture, tables and chairs.
  • Launder or dry clean all clothing, linens and bedding.
  • Wash all movable items, including picture frames, knick-knacks with a steam cleaner and a soft microfiber cloth.
  • Disinfect and deodorize all carpets, window coverings, upholstered furniture and mattresses with steam.
  • Upholstery, fabric window treatments, etc. can be spray-treated with deodorizing products available at most supermarkets, but do not use odor-masking sprays – it just covers up the problem and doesn’t last long term. Steam actually melts the tar and neutralizes the odor and carbon film left by forest fire, cigarette smoke or wood burning fireplaces and stoves.
  • Have heating, ventilating and air-conditioning units and all ductwork professionally cleaned to remove soot, ash and smoke residue. Change filters when you first return to the premises and at least once a month for the first year.
  • Vacuum up dry aerial fire retardant or firefighting foam residue from inside the house or car. Pressure wash the home/car exterior and use a steam cleaner to remove the stuck on residue from inside surfaces.
  • Ash and soot on the ground and in your landscaping will continue to generate smoke odors and airborne particles when the wind blows so water it down regularly. Until the ash and soot are diluted and absorbed into the environment, run an indoor mechanical air filtration system to help minimize the uncomfortable and potentially health-threatening impact of these pollutants.

Most of these tips can be completed with a few power tools – an outdoor pressure washer for the outside of your home and a steam cleaner, dishwasher or washer/dryer for the inside of your home. If you’re new to steam cleaning, you’re going to be pleasantly surprised how fast, easy and effective it is at getting into all those nooks and crannies that regular cleaning chemicals and techniques can’t.

You may not get all these tips finished in one day but once you’ve laundered, steamed or pressure washed from rooftop to foundation and from floor to ceiling, you and your home will no longer smell like a camp fire.

Tips taken from FEMA’s website and elaborated on.

Important Tips to Consider When Selecting a Real Estate Agent

The ample amount of online information regarding how to hire a real estate agent can be helpful for homebuyers and sellers, but finding the right one can still be a challenge. Professional agents should have the necessary skills and expertise to help find exactly what the client desires. These four qualities can clue in buyers and sellers that a real estate agent is a great choice.

Suggests Realistic Prices

When planning to sell a house, it is recommended to get listing presentations from several agencies. They will provide the market prices of comparable homes, as well as the amount of time it usually takes to sell similar properties. Working with professionals to ensure that a home is priced appropriately will make the process less time consuming and stressful.

Works Full Time

Some real estate agents connect home buyers with sellers as a part-time job; however, it is wise to choose one who works in the industry full time to get the best results. Such professionals are in a better position to provide accurate recommendations and tips as they have more experience and a deeper understanding of the industry. A full-time agent will likely spend more time scouting for a home on various listings or showing prospective buyers the house to ensure that the clients acquire or sell a property quickly and at the right price.

Charges an Appropriate Commission

In most states, the commission ranges between five and seven percent and is split between the selling and buying agents. Ask agents about commission rates when putting a home on the market or beginning a new home search. This is an ideal method to ensure that all parties understand the agreement. Also, be sure to ask about any offered rate rebates, as some companies actually pass on a percentage of the commission to the seller or buyer.

Has Experience in the Area

A buyer who is interested in purchasing a full-time residence should pick an expert who specializes in selling such properties in the area. On the other hand, people who are looking for investment properties are better off working with someone who has been facilitating such deals with other investors for years. It is also important to note that most professionals in this industry have multiple specialties.

Even if a candidate meets these four qualities, organize a face-to-face meeting with the home expert to get a full picture of his or her skills and expertise. Most professionals are more than happy to speak with potential customers to answer questions. Finding a real estate agent by following these guidelines will make the entire process of buying or selling a home far simpler.