Category Archives: Repairs

No-Fuss Wallpaper Removal

Q: Do you know the best way to remove wallpaper that’s about 20 or 30 years old? I just bought a house that has old-time country wallpaper in the kitchen, and I really don’t like it. Besides, they didn’t do a very good job putting it up in the first place.

I’ve tried some over-the-counter spray that’s supposed to work, but it only succeeded in having me put a bunch of little holes in the wallpaper. My dad suggests I just cover it up with drywall, but then the wall would be sticking out beyond the kitchen cabinets and I would need to redo the trim.

I just want to remove it and put some paint in its place. The kitchen is not very big, and there’s not a lot of wallpaper to remove. Any suggestions?

A: Wallpaper of this vintage is probably vinyl on a paper backing. The vinyl prevents the spray you bought from penetrating the wallpaper to the glue. We assume the little holes in the wall are from your attempt to score the paper so the solution could penetrate.

Don’t abandon the job. You just need to tweak your method a bit. Follow these steps and you should have the offending paper off the walls lickety-split.

First, prepare the area. Shut off all circuit breakers that control the kitchen outlets and lights. Remove covers from outlets and switch plates, and keep them and their screws in a safe place. The job will require fairly significant amounts of water. You don’t want to fry your electrical system or yourself.

Put drop cloths over anything you want to protect. Old wallpaper and glue get everywhere. And once it dries on the floor, it’s a pain to get off. Tape plastic sheeting to the cabinets. Use cloth on the floors. The drops on the floor will move, so be careful.

Next, slide a metal putty knife under the edge of the wallpaper. Odds are some of the seams are loose. Take the edge of the paper and peel it back. The vinyl face should separate and expose the paper backing. Peel as much of the vinyl off as you can.

Fill a bucket with water as hot as you can stand. If you are using commercial stripping solution, mix it with the water according to package directions. You can also get good results with a 20 percent solution of vinegar in hot water or a 50-50 mix of fabric softener and water. Use a paint roller to get the hot-water stripping solution mix on the wall.

Apply the solution liberally. The idea is to saturate the paper and the glue holding it to the wall. Do an area only as big as you think you can strip in 15 minutes. Any longer and you risk the paper drying out.

The wallpaper darkens as it gets wet. Let the solution set for a few minutes to thoroughly saturate the paper. Now start peeling. We like to use a 4-inch drywall knife for this part of the job. It’s small enough to maneuver, yet large enough to take big pieces of paper off at a time. Have a big garbage can nearby to contain the paper.

Once all the paper is off, you’ll be left with little specks of wallpaper residue on the walls. A Scotch-Brite pad dipped in stripping solution will take care of the stragglers.

The solution mix will cool down or get contaminated with old wallpaper glue. When that happens, dump it out and make a new batch. Don’t dump it into a sink or tub, as this may make your drains go slower. Dump it down the toilet — don’t worry about clogging — or outside if you are using nontoxic substances.

For larger jobs, rent a wallpaper steamer. This is a metal plate connected to a tank by a rubber hose. The tank contains a heating element. When plugged in, water is heated to create steam that escapes through holes in the metal plate. The advantage is that the water never cools, making the job go more quickly.

With clean walls, a little spackling, priming and painting will make your kitchen look like new.

 Copyright 2009 Bill and Kevin Burnett

10 Steps Toward Low-Risk Landlording

Learn how to protect your rental property from common mishaps and risky situations.

Most rental property owners worry about protecting their investment. From physical damage to the property to insurance claims to lawsuits brought by tenants, there are myriad ways that you can lose money. Fortunately, minimizing risks in a rental business doesn’t require a ton of money or a staff of experts. All you need to do is learn where you’re vulnerable and then take commonsense steps to minimize that vulnerability.

Here are ten steps you can take to protect yourself against liability as a landlord. By acting now, you’ll enjoy a big payoff: reduced likelihood of lawsuits, harm to tenants and guests, damage to your property, and financial distress to your business.

Step #1: Get the Right Insurance for Your Property and Business

Don’t wait until a loss occurs before you determine whether you have the right insurance for your business and property. Review your current policy with your agent or broker, then discuss coverage options that fit your needs.

Step #2: Make Your Property Physically Sound

Keep your property safe so that people don’t get hurt. To do this, learn the basic legal requirements for repairing and maintaining your property, and then follow them.

Implied warranty of habitability. Virtually every landlord must comply with a legal rule known as the “implied warranty of habitability.” This means you must make sure your rentals are in a “fit” and “habitable” condition when tenants move in, and you must maintain this condition throughout the tenancy. Get familiar with your state and local health, building, and safety codes, and strive to keep your property compliant.

Take steps to prevent injuries and losses. In addition, take other reasonable steps to prevent injuries and other losses. For example, take all tenants’ repair requests seriously and fix problems promptly. Inspect your property yourself for hazards. If you can’t address a hazardous situation immediately, warn tenants and visitors about the danger. (For example, put traffic cones around a pothole, or post signs and safety tape near a spill on the floor.)

Step #3: Make Your Rental Property Accessible to Disabled Tenants

Make your property accessible to tenants with mobility impairments and other disabilities. Check whether structures on your property must follow the Fair Housing Act’s “design and construction” requirements. (Generally, multifamily buildings that were designed and constructed for first occupancy after March 13, 1991 must comply.)

Regardless of when your buildings were constructed, seriously consider all requests from a disabled prospect or tenant to modify your building in order to meet that person’s needs. Review each request on a case-by-case basis and grant it if it’s reasonable. For example, a prospect’s request to install grab bars in the bathroom or lower kitchen cabinets is probably a reasonable modification request.

Step #4: Remove Environmental Hazards from Your Property

Removing environmental hazards is often trickier than removing other physical hazards. Environmental hazards often can’t be seen, and they may not become apparent until they cause injury or property damage. For example, a landlord might not learn of lead paint dust on her property until a family gets their child’s blood test results showing elevated levels of lead. What’s more, in some cases environmental hazards remain invisible even once they’ve caused damage, as in the case of carbon monoxide or radon.

Do your best to address environmental hazards before they cause serious damage. Here are some ways to do so:

  • Require tenants to report all leaks and flooding to you promptly so that you can take quick action to prevent mold.
  • Maintain your heating systems and appliances, and install carbon monoxide detectors in order to prevent carbon monoxide build-up.
  • Comply with federal testing requirements when employees or contractors work on asbestos-containing building materials, such as sprayed-on ceilings. These tests will reveal to workers what’s in your building, and you can use this knowledge to protect your tenants, too.

Step #5: Prepare for and Handle Disasters and Emergencies

Take steps to safeguard your business and protect your property, tenants, and employees in an emergency. For example:

  • Back up your computer files and keep important documents (such as a mortgage, note, and management contract) in a secure and fire-proof off-site storage facility.
  • Report suspicious objects, activities, and mail to the police, and take bomb threats seriously.
  • Document the location of utility shut-off valves, a step that can save lives and minimize damage if a fire or other disaster occurs.
  • Create an emergency procedures manual with an evacuation plan that’s tailored to your property.

Step #6: Lower the Risk of Crime at Your Property

In recent years, courts have increasingly found landlords partially responsible for crimes on their properties because they didn’t provide adequate security.

To prevent problems and keep your property and tenants safe, comply with state and local laws concerning security measures on rental properties. Screen your applicants and employees carefully — don’t just look for experience and know-how when it comes to filling a position on your staff. Adopt a smart key policy so that keys don’t fall into the wrong hands, and make sure your intercom system doesn’t link tenants to their apartment numbers. Answer prospects’ questions about security candidly, and deliver on any promise you make to increase security.

Step #7: Avoid Fair Housing Complaints When Choosing Tenants

If a prospective tenant believes you violated her civil rights, she may take legal action against you. Even if you win, defending yourself takes time, money, and energy.

To avoid problems, learn the basics of fair housing laws. The key to compliance is treating everyone the same. Some ways to do this include:

  • putting your screening criteria into a written tenant selection plan and giving a copy to applicants
  • rejecting applicants for legitimate business reasons, such as poor credit or negative references from prior landlords, and letting applicants know your reasons for rejecting them, and
  • keeping an updated log of apartment availability, and granting prospects’ requests for reasonable accommodations. For example, if you have a “no pets” policy and a prospect needs a guide dog to accommodate his disability, let him keep the dog as an accommodation.

Step #8: Adopt Careful and Consistent Business Practices

Many landlords create risks just by the way they go about their business. Be a careful and consistent landlord by using a written lease or rental agreement with tenants and by enforcing lease clauses consistently. Create house rules for tenants to follow (for example, regarding pets or children’s health and safety) and enforce them. Don’t let a friendship with a tenant interfere with your professional relationship. Also, to prevent identity theft, don’t use tenants’ Social Security numbers any more than needed.

Step #9: Avoid Problems When Hiring Help

Hiring help brings the promise of efficiency, savings, peace of mind, and profitability to your business — but it also brings risk. To lower your risk, determine whether you must classify a helper as an employee or an independent contractor.

For employees, be sure to withhold the appropriate payroll taxes and create a zero-tolerance policy against sexual harassment.

When using contractors, make sure they have insurance and sign a written contract with you.

If you’re considering hiring a management company or need to hire a lawyer, ask questions until you’re satisfied you’re choosing the right one.

Step #10: Taxes: Stay on Good Terms with Uncle Sam

Take steps to avoid a tax audit and to maximize your deductions. For example,

  • Establish a recordkeeping system for your business so that you keep track of every document that will substantiate your claimed income and expenses.
  • Understand how your choice of business structure and tax year affect your taxes.
  • Find out what deductions you’re entitled to claim, and then claim them.
  • Finally, hire the right type of tax pro for your business, and review your past returns for evidence of trends or problems.
Information obtained from nolo.com

For more help regarding these issues please visit:

https://helpforlandlords.com/landlord-state-guide-assistance/

How Plumber Services Can Save you Time and Money

How Plumber Services Can Save you Time and Money

Today, most of us lead such busy lives that we barely have time to complete all of our daily responsibilities. When unexpected personal projects come up, it can be a big strain trying to find the time to complete them. One such unexpected home repair project that can cause stress is when a serious problem with the plumbing system occurs.

When the problem is more than a simple clog, it can be a real headache coming up with a way to fix the problem in an inexpensive way. When you have a serious situation that involves the repair of a part of the plumbing system, it is important to consider hiring a professional plumber instead of trying to fix it yourself. Enlisting the services of a professional plumber can save homeowners and businesses both time and money.

Repairing a serious plumbing problem can be a time consuming and messy project, especially if you do not have the skills to do the repair. The plumbing system is a very delicate and complicated system that can easily be damaged if you do not know what you are doing. Also, if you start trying to repair the problem yourself and you cause more damage, you will be looking at a much more expensive plumber’s repair bill as the plumber will not only have to make the original repair, but also repair the new damage. Plumbers are equipped with the tools, equipment, qualifications, and skills to make a fast, professional, and quality repair.

Most people may think they are saving money and time doing their own repair, however, if they do not understand the plumbing system, they will spend a long time attempting the repair which will likely result in a bigger problem, especially if they do not have the tools, equipment, and ‘know-how’. Plumber services ensure that you are getting quality service and the right repair job. The repair will only be done once, much faster than if you did it, and there will be only one bill that will include itemized list of the repairs, components replaced, and service fee.

An unexpected plumbing problem can be a very frustrating experience, especially if your time is limited. There are many benefits to hiring a plumber instead of attempting the repair yourself. A fully licensed professional plumber has a wealth of experience from fixing broken pipes to the installation or repair of gas components and dealing with sewerage system lines. You will save money because the service will be done efficiently, quickly, and competently.

As well, when you hire a reputable professional plumber with a proven track record of quality service, you will receive high values of honesty regarding price quotes and actual charges, as well as a commitment to competitive prices, strict compliance to plumbing codes and safety codes, and providing excellent customer service, giving customers great value for their money. Plumbers are indispensable when there is a plumbing emergency. Whether it is a home or business, the services plumbers provide are priceless.

Looking for a local plumber to fix your plumbing problems? Then contact the plumbers in Toronto experts at Mr.Rooter, offering plumbing Vancouver and plumbing Toronto services as well as plumbing services all across Canada.

For services within the United States, check for vendors here. Or you can also try Free Shipping at PlumberSurplus.com

Brought to you by a Real Estate Author from http://www.realestatelocalexperts.com, a multi-authored blog about real estate.