Monday, August 12, 2013

Where am I going to put it all?

      Storage. It seems like there is never enough of it and not just for the people featured on the TV show 'Hoarders'. You have to make do with the space you have and there are ways to do this. Do you have too many clothes and not enough dresser and closet space for them? Shelves and baskets are a way to store excess clothing and still keep an attractive room while stealing no space from your room because it is up and above everything.
The same method can be used for other spaces where furniture is not an option and your best efforts to de-clutter still left you with things you don't wish to part with and no place to put them. I like to read and after filling the only bookcase I owned I was left with a lot I wanted to keep. Here is a re-purpose for the shelves I built in the bedroom.
 Furniture can also pull double duty sometimes even triple duty. I built a coffee table that looks good. It is built well so it doubles as seating when you throw a cushion on it. Since it is on casters it will roll away from the sofa to create separation. And the top comes off to reveal all of our old photos and mementos stored inside. Since I am a builder it was constructed stoutly enough to take all the punishment a family can dish out and it was built using mostly recycled material from job sites. I recommend dumpster diving at construction sites where they are using appealing material (get the superintendents permission and don't do it after hours since trespassing on a job site is a no-no)
There are other ways to make seldom used items work for you instead of just taking up space. We have a dining table that features two leaves to expand it for increased seating at family gatherings. Well the leaves were taking up space and gathering dust. They were also seldom used. So we put them to work and reclaimed the closet space they occupied.
 In this way we gained space, dressed up an otherwise unremarkable doorway and found a perch for various knick knacks. I used the same idea in our previous home but they were used as book shelves. You don't need excess table leaves laying around to make use of this idea. The same thing can be accomplished easily with a pair of decorative brackets and a pre-finished board from your local home improvement store. So there you have it. Extra storage doesn't have to be ugly or take up living space if you get creative.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Back to school for your security degree!

      Well it is back to school time and your house will find itself alone for much of the day. Kids are off to school and mom and dad are off to work. Even if one parent doesn't work outside the home this is the time of day they have to themselves to get stuff done. Then there are the extra-curricular and after school functions to take up evenings. Your house hates this time of year cause it can get kind of lonely and it feels vulnerable. Well it should feel vulnerable and it is. This is also the time of year when crooks come out to do their work in the daylight. And if Mom ( or Dad..The times they are a changing.) are at home alone they are vulnerable as well.
       We know the basics about how to secure your home in your absence. Lock the doors and windows and set the alarm when you leave. The times we live in have changed and the criminals after an easy payday have changed with them. It has been more than a few years since they developed the technology to open your garage door with their own remotes after intercepting your frequency when you use it. This means the only feasible way to secure the garage was to close the door then go back inside to manually lock it leaving your vehicle vulnerable unless you locked it while you went to lock the garage. And going through all this meant your garage opener wouldn't work when you came home pretty much making it obsolete so nobody did it and a lot of people got robbed as a consequence. Garage door opener manufacturers have since corrected this problem and I haven't heard of many problems lately.
       My point is that technology is rapidly evolving. You can use this to your advantage but so can crooks. However here are a few things you can to to give yourself and your family peace of mind. Some vehicles have keyless entry systems with a keypad that you can use to punch in a number or letter combination to gain entry. Well now they have deadbolt door lock systems that operate the same way. If you have kids that get home before you they just have to enter a code to gain access to the home and not carry a key which they WILL lose. They are products of the digital age anyhow and are much more likely to remember a pass code than they are to remember where they put their key. And that is if in their adolescent half awake state they remembered it in the first place. The beauty of this is you don't have to leave a spare key under a rock or mat since that's where they are always found. Every child I know of any means has a cell phone and if they forget the pass code you can always text it to them. If for some reason they can't then they can do like I had to do and sit on the porch and do their homework till you get home or instead of leaving a spare key with a trusted neighbor like old times you can leave the code. Since you have the ability to change the code whenever you wish it is like being able to re-key your lock without the benefit of a locksmith and they still have the old school key for the Luddites out there.
        Most home security systems have different levels of security packages available to you. If you have and use a home security system then you should fork out for a good one. You don't need some of the bells and whistles that come along now like being able to change your thermostat temp from your phone. That is why you got the programmable thermostat remember? What you need is protection for every entry in your home and a reliable monitoring service that will get emergency services to the house if there is an alarm. You should have fire and smoke detectors wired to this service so emergency services can be dispatched in your absence. You should also have an instant notification of any alerts so you can head off false alarms.
       These are just a few of the things to consider there are more. You can get a breakdown of costs and charges from your security system provider usually for free if you are considering an upgrade. The times they are a changing and you should change with them. Stay safe and secure the threat is real but don't quiver in your boots. Do the best you can and maintain adequate insurance. Obtaining the best in security will get you a break on the cost of the insurance.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Rock you like a hurricane!

      Well as we approach the height of hurricane season it is time to get the kit together again. You know, the kit. It is the one that has all the stuff in it. All the good stuff you need to throw in the car to sustain you when it is time to get out of Dodge in a hurry. Remember when you get where you are going to tough it out at that there will be a lot of like minded folks doing the same as you. This is a bonanza for merchants but a nightmare for shoppers. The stores will be full of people picking over empty shelves and you don't want to be one of those stressed out people fighting over the last tin of overpriced Vienna sausages at some neighborhood gyp joint. My point is the kit should contain food necessities to sustain your family for at least a week. Ditto with water. Don't go crazy you still need to put that aforementioned family in the car too.
      You are going to want the important papers too. Do yourself a favor. With today's technology you don't have to lug a filing cabinet to the car. All of the family photos and important documents should be scanned and loaded onto an external hard drive that will fit in the glove box so you can reproduce them at any office center if and when the need arises. You only need to pack documents for which the original is needed and a reproduction is not acceptable. Birth/marriage/death certificates, Social security cards, Mortgage and insurance papers and so forth. For most people these will fit in a shoebox. I referenced hurricane season but it is best to have the kit ready year round no matter where you live. We know any coastal area can be struck by a storm and inland you have wildfires, mudslides, avalanches, tornadoes, etc. Any of these can prompt an evacuation even if it is dragging the kit to the basement to take shelter from a tornado. Pack the kit in plastic tubs and waterproof the paper work and electronics. The way it has rained lately the river is always rising somewhere and you may be leaving by boat or pickup truck.
        Bottom line is I see way too many horror stories of people wailing that they lost everything after a disaster. There is no need to be caught flat-footed when you have time now to get ready.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Insure it!

     Today I want to talk about insurance. We've all seen the nasty weather and the bad things that come out of storms. Don't be caught lacking when it happens to you. Odds are no matter where you live the increasing frequency of bad weather events will one day catch up to you. This is why we have insurance. Now I will come right out and say something most people already know and that is insurance companies work for insurance companies and not for you. I don't care how touchy-feely the commercials are or how nice the guy that sold you the policy is. The fact is that the nice guy/gal that sold you the policy will not be the one coming out to determine how much if any recovery is made after a claim. Insurance companies make their money by collecting as much in premiums as they can while paying as little in claims as they can get away with.
      Protect yourself and put together a paper trail that is indisputable. If you are insuring a home then make sure the level of insurance covers EVERYTHING you will need to replace should disaster strike. Here in Florida windstorm coverage is typical but it only covers structures and dwellings. If a flood come along with that hurricane (They usually do) and you didn't get flood insurance all the insurance company will do is put a new roof on a ruined home. What about your stuff? Is the personal property provision adequate to replace it? Can you prove it? Did you take pictures, Did you save receipts and serial numbers? Do you have them stored in a waterproof fireproof lockbox with copies on file with your agent? How about clothes? All the stuff you don't think about until you need it needs to be inventoried and covered. Do you have mature specimen trees in your yard? They have value, insure them. If you can't live in your home who pays for your living arrangements? There is insurance for that. Even if you are renting you can't count on the landlord. If disaster strikes you can be out of a home and have no stuff left and no recourse to get it replaced. Make sure you are insured and make sure the lease that nobody ever reads doesn't legally obligate you to continue payments if the home becomes uninhabitable. Sure a judge would probably toss any demand for payment in court but you don't want it to get there.