Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-8 of 8

Your Morning Cup of Fertilizer

by The Jana Caudill Team

This one is kind of fun: coffee as fertilizer.  Yep, coffee grounds (and tea grounds and tea bags for that matter) provide an excellent source of nitrogen for your indoor and outdoor plants, transplants, lawn, and vegetable gardens.  There are many ways to use it as well.  You can add coffee grounds directly to soil for a slow release effect, or mix them with a bucket of water prior to watering plants as a more fast acting fertilizer.  Coffee grounds can be mixed in with your composting material, as well as utilized for some if its pest deterrent qualities.  The rule of thumb out there is that plants that thrive in acidic soil generally prosper with this kind of additive.

What’s more, you can get coffee grounds from local restaurants and coffee shops to use at home.  Starbucks has made five pound bags of used grounds available to customers for free through its Grounds for Gardens program since 1995.  If you’re not close enough to a Starbucks (hard to imagine in the world today that anyone isn’t within a ten or fifteen minute drive) call around to your local Chesterton, Crown Point, or Hobart restaurants and ask if they save coffee grounds for their patrons’ use.

Stop the Moisture, Stop the Mold

by The Jana Caudill Team

The root of the problem with indoor mold is moisture.  When you find mold in your Cedar Lake, St. John, or Crown Point home, you clean it up, right?  But if you don’t find and fix the moisture issue the mold will return.  The source of moisture might be as easy to find as a leaking pipe under the sink or in the basement.  It may be a little more difficult to identify like a leaking pipe inside a wall.  And again, diagnosing the moisture problem is one thing, yet prescribing the correct and complete remedy may be the tricky part as with a cracked foundation wall in your basement or crawlspace.  One thing is certain, if you only treat the symptom (the mold) the illness (moisture) will continue to rear its troublesome head.

Once you discover mold in your home get to work on mitigating the source of moisture and the clean-up right away.  Don’t ignore it.  Call a plumber with a good reputation in the community if you need to.  Simply closing the cabinet door to the kitchen sink and pretending it’s not there doesn’t work.  The problem won’t just walk away on its own and neither should you.  And don’t simply paint over the stain of a recently cleaned patch or wall without mitigating the moisture.  You’re putting more energy into a problem that will continue to reoccur.

So the question is, Where to begin?  A great place to start if you’re unsure just how to get started is the Frequently Asked Questions on the website.  Stop the moisture, stop the mold.

Subtraction by Addition

by The Jana Caudill Team

Thinking about doing a large remodel or addition?  Are you justifying the expense with the belief that you’ll get that money right back out of the house when you sell it?  Be careful.  You might just discover you’re losing money – subtraction by addition.

There are many inexpensive fixes, updates, repairs, etc. you can do to your home and expect to get your money back after selling your house.  The key in today’s economy is fixing what you already have rather than adding.  Of course home buyers love more space, but that sun room addition or garage addition may not equate to the return you are expecting down the road.

Anytime you add onto a home, increasing the footprint of the structure, you should see dollar signs flashing before your eyes, and I don’t mean money going into your pocket.  Think about your reasoning for the addition.  Is this something your family needs?  Do you only have one bathroom for your family of five?  That expense might be justifiable.  But is a new master suite built off the back of the house a good decision?  How long are you going to be around to enjoy the new space?  Over-improving compared to the rest of the neighborhood is another recipe for diminishing returns.

Here are a couple resources for cost effective fixes for your Crown Point, Munster, or Lowell home, inside and out.

Leaking Gutters, Fascia, and Soffits

by The Jana Caudill Team

Obviously, if you walk around the perimeter of your Crown Point, Merrillville, or Hobart home inspecting the roof and spot physical damage or rotting, that’s your sign to call in a repairman and get your roof drainage issue resolved quickly.  Leaking and rotting soffits and fascia can become an expensive repair, and the sooner you address any issues you discover the lower the final total on your repair bill.

The problem is this is one of those home repair issues you often don’t notice until it’s too late.  So I’m going to give you a quick task that can potentially save you a bundle.  And watch this linked video to learn more on how to spot the warning signs of gutter, soffit and fascia leakage before it become too costly.

The easiest way to spot a potential problem area along your roof line is to go outside and watch for leaks while it’s raining.  This is not very practical as first it must be raining outside, and second, you’ll have to remember my little message here and do your inspection when it does.  So here’s the trick, go outside and inspect the perimeter of the roofline RIGHT NOW!  Go ahead, I’ll wait...

Here’s what you’re looking for: Evidence of leaking.  I’m not talking about soffit and fascia that’s already pealing, cracked, decaying and falling apart, and I’m not talking about gutters that are falling away from the side of the house.  If you have those issues you already know to call a repairman.  I’m talking about finding a little problem before it becomes a BIG problem.  Look along your gutters, and the underlying fascia, trying to spot dark vertical streaks that are residue of dirty water from your roof overflowing the gutters, or working in behind the gutter and soaking the fascia.  I refer you to this website for the sole purpose of giving you a photograph example of what to look for.  This is not a foolproof method for spotting all problems.  There are many little things that can contribute to leaking.  This is however a very inexpensive (because it’s free) inspection you can perform yourself that can keep your repair bill in the hundred dollar range and out of the thousands.  If you find these streaks, and your gutters are not obstructed with debris or tennis balls, call your handyman and set up an appointment.  The problem might be as simple as installing a drip edge inside your gutters.

Winning the Debt Game

by The Jana Caudill Team

Debt, like most things, is okay in moderation.  Too much and an unpleasant conversation with a bankruptcy attorney might just be in your future.  Too little or none and you might be hampering your ability to get a college loan or a mortgage for your new Crown Point, Dyer, or Schererville home.

Here are a few debt tips with links where you can get more information:

  1. Cash cushion.  Have a little extra cash on hand, in the bank, under the mattress (no, not really under the mattress).  This is for emergencies, not for that little black dress or movie tickets.  Life happens.  Cars break down, water heaters break down – things break down.  Have some emergency cash available so your finances don’t go into a tail spin when the unexpected happens.
  2. Know your spending habits, then break bad habits.  Do you really know where your money is going?  Really?  Are you stopping by Starbucks once a week or is it really closer to every day of the week?  How often do you eat out?  What does the final tally on your Friday and Saturday nights look like?  Take a look at that monthly credit card bill.  You might be surprised.
  3. Pay down debt with highest interest rates first.  Makes sense.  Whatever money you have to pay down debt should go toward the credit card with the highest interest rate.  Once that is paid off, start paying extra on the next highest, and so on.  This is the best way to shrink those ugly credit card balances.  But remember, minimum payments are not your friend.  You’ll have to do more to get rid of that debt.
  4. Learn more.  Start at the CNN Personal Finance web page for great ideas on improving all aspects of your financial life.

Preventing Falls at Home

by The Jana Caudill Team

Okay, first I’ll state the obvious:  the better you manage risks in your Hobart, Munster or Crown Point home that contribute to falls the less likely someone will suffer a fall resulting in an injury. 

Makes sense, right?  It should.  Any family member can have an accident, it’s true.  But just for the moment let’s take into special consideration our seniors?  Children’s toys scattered about the floor, even pet toys like the dog’s bone can twist an ankle and send Grandma or Grandpa for a tumble.  Rugs and doormats without the no-slip backing can do the same.  In fact, getting rid of rugs altogether in homes with seniors is the best idea.  There are power cords, or standing liquids like water from a leaking pipe that can trip or slip.  No skid strips in the tub are a must.  Adding handrails in the tub and seats in shower stalls are great.  Now we're talking...

Now I’ll ask you to consider something beyond just the fall and the injury.  I’ll sum it up in one word: comfort.  The safer we can make the home for seniors, the longer a senior can stay in the home.  Put another way, There’s no place like home.  Have you ever heard Grandma say, “I can’t wait to move into assisted living!”?  Never!  Seniors want to be at home, where the heart is – where it’s comfortable.  Of course, there might come a time when the only realistic alternative is the retirement home, but there’s always something more we can do to help our seniors live longer and where they’re more comfortable.

Summer Blankets - Home Insulation

by The Jana Caudill Team

Insulation isn’t just a winter blanket for your Crown Point, Cedar Lake, or St. John home.  Did you know the energy savings benefit of insulation during summer months can be as much as the savings during colder winter months?  Of course your savings is dependent on the local climate, and the size and age of your home, among other things.  Homes in the south don’t deal as much with the cold as those in the north do, but have you ever spent a blistering summer in Houston or Baton Rouge?  Insulation not only keeps the heat in during the winter, it keeps the heat out during the summer.  The bottom line is, anytime your heater or air conditioning is running is prime time when proper home insulation will help you save energy.  Here’s a great article on insulation basics, as well as a short video.

Saving energy means saving money, and who isn’t interested in keeping more of what you make and spending less?  Here’s the caveat.  You all have heard the expression, “You have to spend money to make money.”  Well, with insulation you have to spend money to save money.  It just doesn’t take as long as you might think to recoup the cost  you paid up front to add insulation to your home.  Let’s not forget your heating and air conditioning units will not have to work as hard with proper insulation, which means your units will last longer, and that’s less out of pocket in maintenance and replacement costs.  Even when the insulation has paid for itself in reduced energy bills you will continue to save every month you’re in the home, and that is as comfortable as a nice cozy summer blanket.

Unclogging the Bathroom Sink

by The Jana Caudill Team

Okay, okay.  So you’re wondering why we’re taking the time to cover an issue as simple as a clogged bathroom sink.  You say to yourself, “What’s the big deal?  Get a bottle of Drano and go!"

Hold on a second.  Sometimes the simplest solution is not always the best solution, though in this case it could turn out to be the most expensive one.

It’s generally pretty easy to figure out what’s clogging a bathroom sink.  Hair, hairspray, gel, and daily grease and grime are the usual suspects.  Sometimes one of the kids’ toys gets down there, and that generally accelerates the accumulation of all the gunk listed above.  First, be certain the problem is localized to the one sink in the bathroom, and that the issue does not in fact include, let’s say, the bathtub or any other areas of plumbing in your DeMotte, Merrillville, or Hammond home.  If you’re not certain if a plumber needs to be called in please refer to this quick “When to” guide.  If you’re good to go, then start with this how to guide on unclogging the problem sink.  Take the time to read through the entire article first.  The last thing you want to do is pour a gallon of boiling water down the drain if you have plastic pipes, although this might be all you need with steel pipes.  That’s why you need to take the time to read up first.  You can save some money by doing it yourself, AND keep from turning a small problem into a big one.

Displaying blog entries 1-8 of 8