Don’t Freak Out if You Find a Crack in the Foundation of Your House

Yes cracks in the foundation can be signs of a problem; however it doesn’t mean you should automatically think of worst case scenario.  Believe it or not, there are a few perfectly normal reasons why cracks can appear in your foundation.

Of course you should have the issue looked into but hold off on assuming the worst until you determine whether there’s a problem worth worrying about.

There are several things that can cause cracks in your foundation. In some cases, the cracks are simply caused by the settling of your home over time or soil expansion if your home is built on land with a lot of clay in the soil. Other potential causes of foundation cracks include:

  • Drainage issues around the home
  • Insufficient reinforcement to support the weight of the house
  • Major home renovations or add-ons such as adding a second story
  • Tree roots under the soil
  • Earthquakes, sinkholes or landslides that have affected the area
  • Deep soil freezing during the winter

Despite the wide range of possible causes, it’s important to not freak out and get excited and worry over the cracks until you’ve figured out whether they actually indicate a serious problem.

When you first notice cracks in your foundation get a good look at them and where they appear. Taking photos may help with this since they’ll give you an easy-to-access reference later on. If possible, include an object of known size in the pictures to give you a sense of scale; coins, ink pens or other common objects are easy to use.

When looking at the cracks in your foundation, take note of the direction of the crack, how wide the crack is and whether it has a uniform width. If there is an obvious point of origin (a crack that starts at the corner of a basement window or foundation vent) then you should take note of this as well. If you have a crawlspace or basement under your home, go in and examine the foundation wall from the inside as well to see if the crack is visible. The more information you have about the crack, the easier it will be to determine whether there’s a problem.

Small, thin cracks in the foundation usually aren’t much to be concerned about; they typically form as the house and the soil beneath it settle into place. Likewise, small cracks that appear after a particularly harsh winter shouldn’t be a major concern since they are easy to seal before the next bout of cold weather comes around.

There are some cracks that you need to watch out for, though.  Horizontal cracks, straight vertical cracks and cracks that are wider at one end than the other are all signs of potential problems. These can indicate that the foundation is cracking due to a much larger problem than just settling or bad weather. Check the depth of the crack, especially if you have a crawlspace or basement; a crack that goes all the way through the foundation wall can be very bad indeed. You should also see if there are multiple cracks forming around the same area or if any of the cracked areas correspond with cracks or other issues inside the house.

If the cracks seem recent, clean up the area and place marks on the wall beside the cracks. This will let you look for new debris or changes to the crack length over the next several days. Large cracks or cracks that seem to still be growing need to be repaired before they can cause significant issues.

Even if you’re handy around the house, you might want to call a professional to examine the situation and foundation and take care of what is wrong.  Having a pro to do the work will certainly give you piece of mind.  Just give me a call I have a list of professionals that I can highly recommend to you.  I am after all your Realtor for life!!

Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail space? Are you ready to buy or sell a home? We can help you with that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day…..Jeff

Properly Mounting Things on the Walls of Your Home (pictures, decorations, etc)

Ok so you are in your new home or just adding a picture or mounting a television – anything that goes on your wall needs something to anchor it in place. Sometimes there is a stud in the wall that you can attach it to and you are good to go. You have well-supported wood to drive a screw into which will hold whatever you’re mounting in place.  However if you can’t find a stud where you need one, if the item has any real weight to it, you need some help. That’s where drywall anchors come in.

What is a drywall anchor? Drywall anchors are small pieces that are slightly larger than the screws you are using for this project.  Depending on the type of anchor you’re using it might be made of plastic or metal, with small fins sticking out from the outside of the anchor body and a hole in the middle that runs the length of the anchor.  You first put the anchors into the wall and then your screw goes into the hole. As you screw it in the screw digs into the anchor body in much the same way it would with wood to ensure that the screw won’t slip out.

The drywall anchors are designed to provide a tight fit for your screws. As the screw goes in, the anchor is forced to spread out and open up a bit. This pushes the body of the anchor against the sides of the hole you put it in, causing those little fins to dig into the surrounding drywall. The fins are positioned to go in easy but resist coming out, giving you a solid mounting even though there isn’t any wood or other solid material for your screws to secure to.

There are multiple types of drywall anchors. Choosing the right one for the project you are working on helps to reduce unnecessary damage to your drywall and ensures that the mounting is strong enough for what you are hanging on the wall. To ensure that you have the right drywall anchor for what you need to support you should try to estimate of the weight of the load and check the packaging of different drywall anchors to find an anchor that can hold that much weight.

If the load of what you are hanging is relatively light you’ll most likely only need a plastic anchor. The most common of these are known as expansion anchors and are essentially plastic sleeves that you hammer into a drilled hole and that simply spread out as you insert a screw. There are also threaded plastic anchors that look like oversized screws -they work similarly, except you screw them into place instead of hammering them. Regardless of the type of plastic anchor you use, the purpose is still to dig into the drywall and hold a screw in place.

For heavier loads you will need a metal anchor. Though you may see some threaded metal anchors, the most common metal anchors are known as molly bolts and feature a metal sleeve with a screw already inserted into them. You hammer these into place as you would with an expansion anchor and then remove the screw. Once you are ready to mount you place the screw back into the anchor and start tightening – this causes a portion of the metal sleeve to pull toward the screw, expanding metal arms on the other side of the drywall to create a much more secure fitting.

For seriously heavier loads you’ll need to use a toggle bolt instead. These anchors consist of a metal bolt with foldable metal wings that the bolt screws into. You have to fold the wings so that they lie over the bolt and then insert them into a hole large enough that they can fit through to the other side. Once on the other side the wings will expand, preventing the bolt from coming back out. Make sure that there is a washer or something else that’s large enough to cover the hole, though, or the bolt head could slip through the hole and you’ll lose your toggle bolt into the wall.

If a drywall anchor fails then it simply wasn’t the right type of anchor for the job. Trying to use smaller or weaker anchors for heavier loads will often result in failure because they simply don’t achieve enough grip on the surrounding material to hold the load. In some cases, though, the drywall itself may be too weak or the anchor you use may have been intended for a different material. Be sure to match the anchor to the weight and the material to minimize your chances of anchor failure.

If you are still having issues, or just not comfortable doing it yourself, you’ll probably want to hire a professional. I always keep a list of reliable professionals around in just about every category that pertains to your home, so feel free to reach out to me for recommendations. After all, we’re neighbors.

Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail space? Are you ready to buy or sell a home? We can help you with that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day…..Jeff

 

Robotic Lawn Mowers

 

Over the years we have seen automation and robotics change the way that a number of things work in the home.   Did you know that robotics and automation work outside your home as well? Robotic lawn mowers are starting to change the way that people approach lawn care with modern robotic lawn mowers that were introduced in recent years, however the devices have a longer history than you might think.  If you have grass on your property you should keep reading.

Hard to believe the first robotic lawn mower was actually created and patented in 1969. Called the MowBot, the robotic device was self-propelled and capable of making random turns within an area defined by a signal wire that was used to create a boundary. The MowBot was a battery-powered device that was primitive compared to today’s robotic lawn mowers however its approach to lawn maintenance wasn’t that far off from how today’s devices work. It had some staying power and MowBot Inc. is still producing robotic mowers today that are more modern takes on the original MowBot functionality.

It wasn’t until the 1990s that the more modern style of robotic lawn mowers began to emerge. A solar-powered mower was developed and introduced in 1995 by Husqvarna, and it was followed for the next 10 years by other niche robotic lawn mower designs. The development of smaller-scale robotic mowers occurred in the United States and the UK in 2000, but it wasn’t until 2005 that the first widespread commercial release of a robotic lawn mower occurred. Interestingly, these mowers used the same sort of signal wire that the MowBot had; combined with a few more modern features.

Since then the use of robotic mowers has really taken off with a variety of solar-powered and self-charging robotic mowers hitting the market with innovations such as programmability, autonomous obstacle avoidance and even the ability to program or control the mower remotely from a smartphone or similar device. Some modern robotic mowers are even designed to only trim a small section of the grass blades at a time, opting instead to mow more frequently (often without any input from their owners) to keep the lawn in optimal shape.

Robotic lawn mowers offer a number of benefits over traditional push mowers or riding lawn mowers. A few of the benefits of these mowers include:

  • Electric-powered robotic mowers reduce fuel costs and carbon emissions
  • Smaller, more frequent cuts prevent excessive strain on your lawn that could result in browning or other damage
  • Lightweight units that use random movements while cutting the lawn prevent damage caused by mowing in the same pattern repeatedly
  • Electric units with smaller motors significantly reduce noise pollution while cutting
  • The mulching action of robotic lawn mowers recycles clippings to feed your lawn throughout the year
  • Using a robotic device gives you the benefit of more free time and consistent lawn heights, plus eliminating the danger of injury from traditional lawn mowers.

Robotic lawn mowers have seen a massive surge in popularity in recent years. Models can range in price from $400 to $3,500 or more, with higher-end models offering greater coverage and more programmability features. Robotic lawn mower sales are growing at a faster rate than sales of traditional mowers, with analysts believing that robotic mower sales will continue to increase by approximately 11 percent each year through 2024. Technology is moving at a rapid pace so expect more automation and other types of gadgets for you home – inside and out.

Are you ready to buy or sell a home? Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail space? We can help you with that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff

Optimize your 401K Planning

People are living longer, which has become a problem… in that we risk outliving our retirement income. Pensions are all but unheard of outside of heavily-unionized industries and the government, and both these entities have increasingly transferred more and more responsibility to the individual worker as far as their retirement account is concerned. When it comes to employer-sponsored plans like 401(k) s, it is vital for workers, savers and investors (and you should see yourself as all three) to make the most they can out of the plans. While there are some differences with other plans, like 403(b) s, most of this advice applies fairly well across the major plans in the United States. Below is a list of ways to get the most benefit out of your 401(k).

Work Backwards – For folks who have the ambition and the financial wherewithal to truly make the most of their 401(k), one of the best ways to begin is by working backwards. Take your maximum allowable contribution (your 401(k) plan documents should make this number relatively clear, or you can ask for help), divide it by the number of pay periods in a year, and see where that leaves you.

Make the Match – Fully exploiting employer matching is one of the most vital strategies in getting the most out of a 401(k) plan. Matching is pretty much exactly what it sounds like – subject to certain rules and limits, your employer will contribute the same amount of money you contribute, effectively doubling your retirement savings without decreasing your salary or increasing your tax burden. Many employer matches kick in at 3% of your pay (or higher), so try as hard as you can to at least contribute this much. Afterall, who doesn’t like free money?

Watch the Costs – As part of some employee retirement plans, workers can avail themselves of investment advice from independent professionals. Be advised that this advice is rarely free and it may cost up to 1 to 2% of your funds to get this help. It’s understandable that many workers feel overwhelmed when it comes to calculating their contributions, and then investing that money in a relatively fixed menu of investment options. However, if the advice really is from someone who does not stand to directly gain from the advice they give, and they are qualified to help you understand the options, it may be well worth it.

Consider Borrowing – For workers who save some funds in a 401(k) but find that they cannot contribute more, because they are saddled with expensive debt, there may be a counter-intuitive option. Most plans have provisions that allow employees to borrow funds from their own account. This money comes relatively free of strings ( as what the funds can be used for), and it is possible to use it to repay much more expensive debt, like credit card debt. This money does not come free, but the good news is that the interest charged is basically being paid to you.

Additional Options – What do you do if you have maxed out your 401(k) or you really hate the investment options offered? In most cases, it is allowable to have a Roth IRA and 401(k) and contribute to both in the same year. The Roth IRA contributions are not deductible, but the money put aside this way can still accumulate tax-free over decades.

Once you have contributed as much as possible to these tax-sheltered accounts, there are still other ways to save for retirement. People who are lucky to have maxed out their 401(k) or IRAs in a year can consider buying and investing in annuities. There are a lot of problems with annuities – they can carry high sales loads, they typically have high expenses and sponsors have continually transferred more risk to the investor. All of that said, money in an annuity can accumulate without year-to-year taxation, and it is a worthwhile option if protecting even more retirement savings from the taxman is important.

Additionally, you can invest in real estate. The gains are not calculated until/unless you sell, and your tenants pay your mortgage, adding to the wealth created by the appreciation.

Speak up 
– Notifying your employer about a deficient plan can be an effective means of improving your options (and those of your co-workers). If you do not like how a plan is organized or the investment options on offer, say so. Keep in mind that many employers choose 401(k) plans on the basis of what is cheapest and most convenient to offer, and they may not even be aware of its deficiencies. While it is true that many workers do not like to be a squeaky wheel, and some companies are certainly apt to be more responsive than others, doing nothing is a pretty good way to ensure that the plan will get no better.

Careful savings is not likely to be the gateway to becoming a millionaire or independently wealthy, but it can at least go a long way towards ensuring a more comfortable and desirable retirement. Whatever the specific plans being offer to you, be it a 401(k), a 403(b), an IRA and so on, make sure to contribute as much as you can afford and take full advantage of your opportunity to save money for the future.

Are you ready to buy or sell a home? Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail space? We can help you with that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff

 

UNLV report says economy will remain strong

Campus Beauty shotsFebruary 2, 2017(Josh Hawkins/UNLV Creative Services)

Dr. Stephen Miller, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at UNLV released his economic forecast report on Nov. 29 at Park MGM during a breakfast hosted in conjunction with the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance.  This event was attended by more than 400 business and community leaders

According to Dr. Miller’s report the Las Vegas economy will remain strong over the next two years with business optimism high, however the “softness in tourism” will continue when it comes to visitors and hotel occupancy. He was more subdued and concerned when speaking about in tourism.

“Based on our assessment of national and Nevada trends in 2017 and 2018, we believe that the Southern Nevada economy will continue to see improvement in 2019 and 2020,” Miller said. “The data are telling us a very positive story about the Southern Nevada economy. It’s on an upward trend, and the economy is on solid ground.”

CBER (The Center for Business and Economic Research) projects the economic growth in the Southern Nevada economy will generally outperform the national economy, since it started the recovery later and from a much deeper hole than faced at the national level, Miller said.

Miller went onto say that the economy has been bolstered by an increase in construction and will be aided in part by population growth, which will increase just above 2 percent in 2019 and 2020. Job growth will remain strong through 2020.

Dr. Miller also stated “On the negative side, the level of uncertainty as expressed in the gyrations of the stock market and the potential for policy errors by the Fed in responding to the expansion in economic activity promulgated in large measure by the corporate and personal tax cuts.  The Fed’s concern about an overheating economy could lead to pushing interest rates too high, too quickly and plunging the national economy into recession. The risk that this occurs seems small at the moment, but it is a risk all the same.”

Are you ready to buy or sell a home? Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail space? We can help you with that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff

UNLV and other organizations team up for free Christmas tree recycling

UNLV and community organizations will team up this holiday season to help turn Christmas trees into mulch. This free recycling service will be available at more than 30 locations around the valley beginning Dec. 26 and run through Jan. 15.

The recycled trees are chipped into mulch and used in public gardens and parks across the community, according to a service spokesperson. The trees will help conserve soil moisture, dust control and keep plants healthy.

UNLV recycling manager Tara Pike-Nordstrom stated “Recycling trees is a great way to give back to the community as they stay local and beautify our parks.” More than 15,000 trees were recycled last year into 136 tons of nutrient-rich mulch. Local landfill volume was spared the equivalent of ten school buses.

This community based program was started in 2001 and since then over 227,000 trees have been recycled. The organizers of this event suggest removing all non-organic materials such as lights, wire, tinsel, ornaments, nails, tree stands and any other items that are not part of the tree before recycling it.  Also, flocked trees cannot be recycled, and trees more than 5 feet tall should be cut in half.

Las Vegas Cub Scout Pack 219 and Boy Scout Troop 96 will be collecting trees to recycle for residents who want to recycle but are unable to drop off their trees. The scouts earn a conservation badge and raise funds for their organizations.

The Southern Nevada Christmas Tree Recycling Committee is a partnership of local businesses and community agencies, including UNLV’s Rebel Recycling program and the Springs Preserve.

Check here for the closest available locations.

Also, mulch from the trees will be available for free to community members at several valley locations from Dec. 28 to Jan. 14. These spots include Pecos Legacy Park, Acacia Park, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, North Las Vegas Research Center, Demonstration Orchard and its Lifelong Learning Center in Las Vegas.

Pickup times vary, and residents are encouraged to call UNCE’s Clark County office at 702-222-3130.

Are you ready to buy or sell a home? Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail space? We can help you with that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff

Why are you still having packages delivered to your front door?

Do you also still leave your house and car unlocked? Do you leave your purse or wallet on the front porch too? Come on people! There are pirates out there (and I’m not talking the Pirates of Penzance or the Pirates of the Caribbean) Being a porch pirate has become as trendy and cool as the Keto diet and many of you are still hoping you won’t be next, instead of doing something intelligent about it. I regularly see posts on Nextdoor and Facebook about packages being stolen… with a video of the thief! For Pete’s sake, people, stop being a victim!

When it comes to having packages delivered, here are some DO’s and DON’Ts;

DO mail it to a neighbor/friend who is home during the day (make sure you check with them first)

DO use an Amazon Locker [use this link for the words Amazon Locker https://www.amazon.com/primeinsider/tips/amazon-locker-qa.html%5D

DO mail it to your job (make sure you ask permission first – this will not work for every employer – I’m sure the casinos, for example, do not have the resources to allow for this – but smaller business might).

DO get a mailing address at a local UPS Store or Postnet (you can also get a PO Box, but understand that only the US Postal service can deliver there, so that will eliminate deliveries from FedEx, UPS, DHL, etc.)

DO look for other options – I assure you they exist! I can’t remember where I was recently (I think in a grocery store) – they had an advertisement “Have your packages delivered here… safely” and the reason I don’t remember where I was is because when I read the sign I thought to myself, “I already get my mail at a UPS store, so that is not important for me to remember”

DON’T think your video camera will thwart the attempts – it’s such a low impact crime, the police don’t really have the resources to chase after them and (based on what I see on social media) it’s not slowing anyone down… probably because they know the police do not have the resources. Plus, let’s be honest, if you would just choose a different way to get your packages, the police would have more time to devote to other, less-preventable crimes.

DON’T just build a fence and put a lock on the gate… I have seen many videos of fence-jumping-porch-pirates.

If you feel you MUST have a package delivered to your house when you are not going to be there, at least create some kind of visual barrier for the delivery person to hide the package behind or in… this will at least ensure that the package is not super visible from the street like a neon sign that says “I got this for YOU”. It’s not a great solution, but it will improve your chances, at least slightly. Have you ever heard the saying “locks keep honest people honest”? Do you know what that means? It means, that even a weak lock will protect your items from people who are opportunists, but not career thieves. When the package is visible on your porch, like it or not, you are actually tempting people who might otherwise be reasonably respectable to grab an easy opportunity.

DON’T whine about your missing packages… seriously… if you are not willing to take steps to prevent porch piracy in 2018, then,  you’re basically asking for it (I know I’m gonna catch heat for saying that, but),  you wouldn’t leave your wallet on the front porch would you? And if you did, you really couldn’t be surprised that someone took it.

One last DON’T… DON’T booby-trap your packages… as much as I completely feel that the porch pirates (and all thieves) should feel consequences, in this country, you can be held civilly & criminally liable for hurting these people… that means they could sue you (and win) and you could end up with jail time. It’s just not worth it!

AND… if you want me to, I will accept your packages safely at my office near Summerlin… just call me in advance so I know to expect them and I can call or email you when they arrive!

Are you ready to buy or sell a home? Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail space? We can help you with that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff