Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 41-50 of 54


by The Jana Caudill Team

Is your Crown Point, Hobart, or Dyer driveway sinking on one corner?  Or do you have a cement patio or walkway with one slab of concrete sunken below adjoining slabs?  Uneven driveways, patios, sidewalks, and garage floors are not only unsightly, they pose significant tripping hazards, and removing old concrete and pouring new takes time and can be very expensive.

Let me offer an alternative, more cost-effective solution: Mudjacking.  Whether you call it slabjacking, sandjacking, foam leveling or mudjacking, the process of concrete leveling has been solving the problem of uneven concrete surfaces for over 50 years.

First a small diameter hole is drilled in a slab of sunken concrete.  Then a hose and nozzle are attached to the hole, and any of a variety of mixtures (cement mortar, sand mix, expanding foam and others) are pumped in under the slab to fill in empty air pockets and raise the slab to its proper level.  This super short video does a great job of illustrating the process, and this longer video goes into much more detail showing examples of cement leveling at work.


by The Jana Caudill Team

In the United States, radon causes 20,000 lung cancer deaths annually.  By comparison, this is more than deaths resulting from drunk driving.  Radon is colorless, tasteless, and odorless, and occurs in the soils of every state in the nation.  It can get into your house through cracks in the foundation, through your water supply, gaps around service pipes, and gaps in service floors, etc. As radon is heavier than air it becomes trapped inside the home, and if improperly vented can reach toxic levels.

And now the good news.  Radon testing and mitigation are both easy and inexpensive.  There are several do-it-yourself testing kits available or you can hire a radon testing professional to do the job for you.  For self-testers, the EPA recommends starting with a short-term testing kit that takes only a few minutes to set up.  You will have results within 2 - 90 days depending on the kit.  If your results are 4 pCi/L or higher you should complete a second short-term test, OR a long-term test which is more likely to give you a more accurate year-round radon level reading.  At this point, if the second short-term or the long-term test are still at or above 4pCi/L than you need to proceed with mitigating your home of radon.  Here is a great resource page from the EPA on radon reduction in your home.

If you think you may have a radon issue get your Northwest Indiana home tested and protect your family.  It’s easy, and it’s inexpensive.

Toddlers on the Run

by The Jana Caudill Team

Ok.  You’ve baby proofed Cedar Lake, Crown Point, or Chesterton home. You’ve addressed sharp cornered furniture, choking hazards, exposed electric outlets, and more in every room.  You’ve installed baby gates to restrict movement to off-limit areas of your home.  You’ve secured top heavy furniture like bookcases and TV strands to walls.  You’ve put safety latches on cabinets and drawers, and even on the stove door.

Now it’s time to look ahead to when your infant becomes a toddler. The first step a baby takes as it works toward walking is to stand, which means using furniture to help pull himself up.  This is where I remind you, if you haven’t already done so, to please, please, please secure all top-heavy furniture like bookcases, wide-screen televisions, TV stands, plant stands and the like to a nearby wall.

Soon to be toddlers can use the wall as well to help them stand.  Accordingly, secure curtain and blind cords that are strangle hazards up and out of reach of your little one.  If you’re remodeling a room and window coverings are in the budget, consider purchasing cordless products.

Window latches, especially 2nd story and higher need to be safety locked.  Children are inquisitive by nature.  Once they learn to walk and can better maneuver about their environment it’s only a matter of time before they start testing doors and windows.  Avoid accidental falls by securing all home egresses.

Babies on the Move

by The Jana Caudill Team

Sharp.  Small.  Secure.  Start.  Think of these four S’s when baby-proofing your home for your soon to be crawling bundle of joy.

The best single piece of advice for our Crown Point, St. John, and Valparaiso parents baby-proofing their home in anticipation of their child starting to crawl is to approach the project from the baby’s perspective.  That is to say, get down on all fours and crawl around on the floor yourself looking for possible safety hazards.  Be sure to look for anything sharp.  Put smaller sharp items up high, and well out of baby reaching distance, or lock them up in a drawer or cabinet.  Add padding to sharp furniture corners, or consider moving that particular piece into another room restricted from access by the baby.  Complete your baby bird’s eye view in every room of the house.  You don’t know what you’ll find until you take a look.

Choking hazards are particularly worrisome especially if there are older children in the home who enjoy playing with smaller toys.  Restrict baby’s access to older brother’s and sister’s rooms that are already themselves a challenge keeping picked up and put away.  An old rule of thumb is “If it fits through a toilet paper cardboard tube it is a choking hazard.”

Electric outlet covers.  Tiny fingers can find small holes just as easily as tiny toys.  Cover up electric outlets.

Secure.  Use safety latches on all cabinets and drawers, keeping household chemicals, knives, and all other safety threats securely out of little hands.  Use baby gates to restrict baby’s access to not only older siblings’ rooms, but stairways, laundry rooms, etc.  Keep furniture like TV stands, dressers, and bookcases from toppling by securing to walls.

Start before the baby is born.  Your hands will be plenty full when you come home with your newborn.  Implement your safety plan well before that glorious day.  Here’s another great video on the basics.

The In-Law Suite

by The Jana Caudill Team

Time goes by so quickly many of us are long passed raising children, having seemingly leap-frogged years forward where we now have to help plan for the care of our aging parents.  If you’re lucky enough to still have your parents around you undoubtedly want them to enjoy their retirement years in comfort.  So you plan, and you budget…Kind of.

It’s the economy, and it’s hitting all of us.  It has become more difficult to sock money away than in years past, and like many Americans your own savings and retirement plans have taken a beating just like good old Mom and Dad’s.  So how can you help your folks without burdening your own children when your silver years arrive?  Consider moving them in…or moving them out!

There are many options for creating or renovating space in your Crown Point, St. John, and Northwest Indiana homes to accommodate Mom and Pop, all of which have positives and negatives attached to them you should consider.

Basement, garage, and attic conversions put everyone under the same roof.  Potential issues are dampness, natural lighting and constant climbing of stairs.  There is also the carve-out, which is re-purposing a room/rooms in the main living area of a home.  As always there is the potential issue of shared walls and privacy.  How about converting a detached garage into an apartment and turning your in-laws into OUT-laws?

Obviously the best economic choice is to convert existing space, though there is always the option to add space with a bump-out or building a separate cottage on your lot.  My best advice here is first learn what your local zoning and housing code options are, as well as HOA allowed modifications.  Second, sit down and write out a list of what would be a best case scenario for your family AND for Mom and Dad.  Third, be sure to include your folks in the process so they feel like they are a part of the solution.  Then all you have left is to choose the option that makes the most sense for everyone.

Wall Finishing Textures

by The Jana Caudill Team

You’ve seen some of those attractive textured finishes on interior walls.  You may have even heard some of the terms to go along with those textures: knock-down, orange peel, popcorn, etc.  As these textures are better understood visually than by reading a description, today’s blog directs you to multiple resources that will help you differentiate between the different textures with some videos and pictures culled from the internet, and will hopefully show you just how easy adding and removing some of these textures during your finishing projects really can be:

Knock-down: Popular, easy to apply, great for covering wall imperfections.

Popcorn: Here’s a great video on how to easily remove a popcorn texture with a safety note on asbestos.

Orange Peel: Here are some helpful tips for application, also illustrating the difference between orange peel and knock-down.

Some of the textures like orange peel are also available in spray cans.  This makes it easier for application, but the larger your application area the quicker your project costs will skyrocket.  These spray can varieties are better for smaller projects and repairs like when your child surprises you with a hole in the wall after hanging like Tarzan from the bathroom towel rod.  As well, your Crown Point, Hobart, or other Northwest Indiana painter can consult with you on your project and give you an estimate you can weigh against doing the job yourself.

Storage Options in the Kid's Rooms

by The Jana Caudill Team

We often have to remind our children to take care of their responsibilities.  Brush your teeth; do your homework; take out the trash.  But the sound of one reminder echoes louder than the rest when you’re considering putting your Northwest Indiana home up for sale:  Clean your room! 

So you do your best to help support this request of the youngest members of your family.  You de-clutter the house.  You pack some items away in anticipation of a quick sale and a timely move.  You’ve even completed your garage sale.  Yet there still seems like there’s just too much stuff in your children’s bedrooms.  Maybe all the action figures, matchbox cars, dress up clothes and art supplies aren’t the problem.  Maybe it’s not all that stuff.  Maybe the real issue is the lack of neat and tidy places to tuck everything away in.

Here are a few helpful tips to increase bedroom storage for the kids:

  1. Hanging, behind-the-door, shoe bag.  Get shoes, sandals, cleats, slippers, and flip flops out from underfoot or lost under the bed.  And here’s a bonus, these hanging shoe bags are not just for shoes anymore!  Here’s a fun place to keep toy cars and superheroes, and anything else shoe-sized or smaller.
  2. Under the bed storage bins.  Great for all sorts of loose toys, off season/winter clothing.  Helps keep the mess at bay by organizing this often forgotten space.
  3. Corner cabinet.  Besides under the bed or the floor of the closet, the favorite place where kids the world over love to toss their stuff is simply in the corner of the room.  Banish that mound of clutter once and for all!  So whether you’re in Chesterton, Valparaiso, Crown Point, or St. John, install a corner cabinet that is your catch-all solution for that unexpected short-notice We have a buyer who wants to see your home right now showing call.

Window Blind Slat Repair

by The Jana Caudill Team

You’re getting ready to put your home in Crown Point, St. John, or Hobart on the market.  You call your Northwestern Indiana Realtor to stop by to do the paperwork, with the notion you ought to ask her whether or not to replace the carpet, paint the kids’ bedrooms, patch the fence, replace the blinds…You want to get the most you can for your home without spending too much up front on the repairs that have been mounting up, but there are two other homes right there on your block already listed for sale.  Can you get your asking price?  Are you going to be able to stand out from the competition?  And how much is it going to cost? 

The price tags on some fixes are generally worth it down the road in the form of a better sales price, and/or your home selling faster.  These are repairs like flooring, paint, kitchen appliances and cabinets.  The key to keep in mind here is the average buyer doesn’t want to move into a new home that has mounting deferred maintenance they know they will end up having to deal with.  There is one easy home repair you can do prior to listing your home for sale that won’t cost you anything but your time.  And if you’ve ever had a child throw a football or kick a soccer ball indoors this article is probably for you.

Do you have mini blinds with unsightly bent slats?  You know what I’m talking about, most of the slats line up, overlapping nicely to let in or keep out sunlight, or maintain privacy.  Then one Saturday your son, or daughter, or grandchild, (or husband) was playing with the football indoors.  One bounce against the delicate slats is all it takes to bend or break multiple slats.  And attempting to bend aluminum slats back into shape often makes things worse.

Repairing window blinds with bent or broken slats is much simpler than it looks.  Because most mini blinds are manufactured to fit different sized windows by adding extra slats at the bottom, this repair is almost as easy as threading a needle.  This video shows you how to shorten mini blinds, and to replace broken or bent slats you will follow this same procedure with the added step of replacing damaged slats with extra slats from the bottom.  Many repairs like restringing, broken continuous or end controls, and replacing tilters on vertical and mini blinds, and pleated shades are easy to tackle with help from this short video that illustrates solutions for the most common problems encountered with blinds.

So fix your blinds, save your money, and tell your husband to take the football outside.

Combating Lead-Based Paint

by The Jana Caudill Team

Most homes built before 1960 contain paint with dangerously high levels of lead.  Many homes built as late as 1978 contain some level of lead in their painted surfaces.  This doesn’t mean only interior and exterior painted walls though.  Other common areas for lead-based paint in older homes are window frames.

There is a significant health threat by ingesting particles of lead-based paint, most often by inhaling dust from dry-scraped lead-based painted surfaces.  The danger is compounded for infants, children, and even unborn fetuses as the growing body more readily absorbs and is damaged by the lead.

If you are undergoing a remodeling or refurbishing job and have old lead-based paint to deal with, here are a few safeguarding tips and links going into greater detail to help you mitigate the potential negative impact on your family’s health.

  1. Seal off and ventilate remodeling areas separately from the rest of the living areas in your home.
  2. If it is in good condition, leave lead-based paint alone!  Lead paint in good condition poses little threat.  It is a surface that is worn, potentially from rubbing against itself like in a window frame that creates the harmful dust.
  3. Keep work areas clean, and avoid tracking paint dust through the house on your clothing or work boots.
  4. Read the EPA’s pamphlet titled “The Lead-Safe Certified Guide to Renovate Right” here.

If your home was built in 1978 or earlier (really, if your builder’s permit was issued in 1978 or earlier) you owe it to your family to observe these safety tips before beginning any project that could expose them to potentially lethal levels of airborne lead through lead-based paint.

Check out our blog for more how to tips for Do-It-Yourselfers.

The Cost (And Benefit) of Home Ownership Today

by The Jana Caudill Team

Everyone generally knows one of the great benefits of homeownership is the mortgage interest write off come tax time every April.  The question is how does that benefit translate in real dollars?  Tough question.  The answer is, “It depends.”  Whether you saved a couple hundred or a couple thousand dollars with the write off this past year there are many more factors involved for the home-renter considering becoming a home owner if you want a true picture of the bottom line benefit of homeownership.  Some of those factors already have dollar signs attached to them: current monthly rental payment, purchase price of home, mortgage interest rate, length of loan, etc.  There is a buying versus renting tool available here at the Ginnie Mae website to help you factor in all those numbers for a better picture of your specific situation.

Here’s a great article discussing those hard number factors as well as some of the more subjective dynamics like pride of ownership, dealing with landlords, long term plans, and the volatility of the real estate and mortgage markets.

Check our blog page for more informative personal finance articles, and happy house hunting!

Displaying blog entries 41-50 of 54