Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Location, Location.... Cute 1 bedroom Bank-owned home

5279 NE 21st Ave.
Portland, OR 97211

Location, Location - Cute 1 bedroom cottage with tons of potential. Walk to shopping, Alberta arts.
Bank-owned Fixer needs CASH or REHAB loan.
For more information and to view more listings, go to www.realtysolutionspdx.com

6 Tips for Reducing Your VOC Exposure

Article From Houselogic.com
By: Karin Beuerlein

Published: November 18, 2009

Simple, habit-forming strategies reduce your exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in your home.

Chronic exposure to the essential ingredients in hundreds of household products that you use every day, like air fresheners and paint strippers, has been linked to a broad spectrum of health problems from headaches to asthma and cancer.

The effects of these volatile organic compounds (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/your-guide-vocs/), or VOCs--solids and liquids that convert easily to gas or vapor at room temperature--depend on a number of variable factors, including how many hours you spend at home, your storage habits, and ventilation patterns in your living space.

But VOCs are so widespread, you can't eliminate your exposure entirely. To keep your home as free of unwanted VOCs as possible, eliminate sources when you can and increase ventilation when using products containing VOCs. These practical and easily habit-forming steps should have minimal impact on your time and wallet.

1. Buy only what you need. When it comes to household chemicals, break the habit of buying in bulk to save money. Stored chemicals are a major source of VOCs, even when the container appears to be tightly sealed. If you have leftover pesticides or paint, contact your municipal waste department to find out where you can dispose of them safely.

When possible, buy low-VOC versions of products. Some "green" brands are only slightly more expensive than conventional versions. Keep in mind though that low-VOC replacements for caustic chemicals such as paint thinner may require a bit more elbow grease.

Whichever products you choose, follow label instructions for storage and handling.

2. If you must store chemicals, put them in a detached shed if possible.

3. If detached storage isn't an option, eliminate open connections between the storage site and indoor air. Sometimes these connections aren't obvious--loose holes for ductwork can introduce garage air into, say, an adjacent basement with an air return duct that collects and disperses VOCs all over the house. Don't store chemicals next to air return and supply vents, or directly next to the door leading into the house.

4. Open windows and run fans when you're working with pungent chemicals. "In the indoor air quality industry, we have an axiom that's easy to remember," says Peter Frederick, principal scientist for MACTEC Engineering and Consulting in Lexington, Ky. "The solution to pollution is dilution." Trust your nose--keep a box fan on hand and ventilate whenever you smell chemicals. (Box fans start around $20 at home retail stores.)

That includes any time you bring vinyl or plastic items (say, a new shower curtain) or dry-cleaned clothes into the house. If weather permits, set items outside for a while to off-gas--at least until they don't smell.

Exercise moderation with open windows. Too much ventilation can introduce pollutants from outdoors and increase indoor humidity--particularly in humid climates when the A/C is running--which can lead to mold growth [LINK TO prevent mold article]. If you're doing a major task such as painting that requires opening windows to ventilate, consider using a dehumidifier in conjunction with your A/C.

Keep in mind that portable air cleaning units aren't effective because they don't remove gases and humidity. And some even produce ozone, according to The Daily Green(http://www.thedailygreen.com).

5. Use exhaust fans wisely. Bathroom and kitchen fans are great for removing VOCs from the air, especially because cooking and cleaning can release some potent, even carcinogenic, compounds. But if you run exhaust fans constantly, you create a zone of negative air pressure inside the house that draws outside air into the home.

For instance, that could draw VOCs from your attached garage, including stored chemicals and car exhaust, into the house. Rather, run fans until any chemical or smoke smell dissipates and then turn them off.

If you use your garage as a regular work area for VOC-generating hobbies, such as woodworking, consider installing an exhaust fan to the outside. Exhaust fans, available through online retailers, roughly range from $250 to $400.

6. Ditch air fresheners. The health evidence against plug-in and spray air fresheners is mounting; many emit chemicals and ultra-fine particulates that aren't identified on the label. Some also contain terpene, which reacts with naturally occurring ozone in the air and forms compounds that have long-term effects on the respiratory system (asthma, for example).

Your health is important. With increased focus on energy efficiency and weatherization, don't forget that fresh air can be an important component of a smart house. Karin Beuerlein has covered home improvement and green living topics extensively for HGTV.com, FineLiving.com, and FrontDoor.com. In more than a decade of freelancing, she's also written for dozens of national and regional publications, including Better Homes & Gardens and the Chicago Tribune. She and her husband started married life by remodeling the house they were living in. They still have both the marriage and the house, no small feat.

Reprinted from HouseLogic (houselogic.com) with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS (R).
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Immaculate 1926 Cape Cod Home!

Reduced Price!

3719 NE 65th Ave., Portland, OR 97213

NE Portland, Cape Cod home-4bd/2ba, hardwoods, newer gourmet French Country kitchen w/pull out cabinets, pot filler, recipe holder, built-in spice rack, custom lights, stainless, Silestone counter tops. Fully finished basement w/Italian travertine tile floors, surround sound, 7.5' ceilings, large laundry, built-ins, newer roof & electrical, detached garage w/extra storage, fenced yard w/paved patio area, garden & more....Walk to shopping/park.
For more information go to: www.realtysolutionspdx.com.

April 2010 Marketing Statistics

Thursday, May 13, 2010

10 Ways to Prevent Costly Mold Damage to Your Home

Article From Houselogic.com
By: Karin Beuerlein

Published: November 18, 2009

Fixing mold damage can be one of the most expensive repairs you'll ever perform on your home, so here's how to prevent it.

It's no wonder homeowners fear a mold diagnosis: Besides the health problems mold causes, the cost of an extensive mold remediation project can reach five figures.

You can't totally eliminate mold from your home no matter how vigilant you are, because mold spores are always present in indoor air, particularly in more humid areas of the country such as the Southeast and Northwest. What you can control--by spending an hour or two inspecting key areas of your house and investing in a humidity monitor--is the moisture that allows spores to colonize.

Eliminate Clutter
1. Pare down your stuff. "Clutter creates microclimates where humidity is higher than the ambient humidity in the room," says Jason Yost, owner of Solutions Indoor Environmental Consulting in Terre Haute, Ind. "Mold develops because clutter blocks airflow, and your HVAC system can't process air properly."

2. Don't obstruct air return and supply grilles with furniture or draperies. Surfaces adjacent to grilles cool to temperatures well below your thermostat setting and well below the dew point for the room, meaning condensation is likely.

Control the Indoor Climate
Mold problems often emerge in summer, when outside air tends to be humid. (If you have a window air conditioning unit, baseboard heating, or other localized devices and suspect you have moisture problems, consult an HVAC or mold inspection professional for guidance.)

3. Keep the thermostat set at a moderate level in summer. Set it too high, and the air conditioner won't run often enough to dehumidify your air effectively; set it too low, and you create cold surfaces where water vapor can condense.

To maximize energy efficiency, most electric utilities recommend setting the thermostat around 78 degrees F; this setting is also optimal for preventing moisture problems.

4. Never keep windows or doors open while the air conditioner is on. This introduces humid outside air into a sharply cooler environment, which can cause condensation. When you go on vacation, don't bump the thermostat up to 85 degrees--or, worse, turn the air conditioning off entirely. That tiny utility bill savings would be dwarfed by the cost of a mold remediation if your indoor air weren't sufficiently dehumidified. (Eighty degrees is recommended; if you have a window unit, leave it on at the lowest setting.)

5. Make sure your air-conditioning unit is properly sized for your house. Some HVAC contractors recommend oversized units for quick cooling, but this might remove less humidity from the air. Consult Energy Star (http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=roomac.pr_properly_sized) to find out what size unit you really need.

6. Supplement an old air-conditioning unit that isn't removing as much moisture with a dehumidifier.

Monitor Moisture
To see if you need a dehumidifier, measure humidity--the amount of water vapor in the air compared with the total amount it can hold. Start with an under-$20 monitor from various online retailers, Yost says. More sophisticated and expensive models--ranging from $45 to $300--have remote sensors that simultaneously track several rooms all over the house, which is useful if you have basements, crawl spaces, or other areas that you don't visit often.

An ideal indoor reading is between 35% and 50% relative humidity; in very humid climates in the height of summer, you may get readings closer to 55%. But if you reach 60% relative humidity, it's time to look for the source of the moisture. Above 70% relative humidity, certain species of mold can begin growing on surfaces even if water isn't visible.

7. If you get a high humidity reading, check your air conditioner first.
• Is it set to the proper temperature?
• Is it cycling on and off periodically?
• Does it blow cold air when it reaches the set point?
8. Check that the condensate drain pipe (the narrow white pipe sticking out the side) is dripping regularly. If it isn't, the pipe is blocked, water may be accumulating inside the unit, or the unit isn't working correctly. If you suspect a problem, call your HVAC professional.

9. If the air conditioner isn't the issue, look for signs (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/7-signs-you-may-have-a-drainage-problem/) of standing water or chronically damp soil in your crawl space or basement or near your foundation.

10. If you have a crawl space, make sure you have a plastic vapor barrier covering the dirt floor and that it's intact. Moisture below the house affects the humidity indoors by infiltrating unsealed penetration points, such as where electrical conduits and plumbing enter the house. Water can even diffuse through plywood and finished flooring--and you won't necessarily see wet spots when this happens.

Find a Qualified Pro
If you can't find the moisture problem on your own, or you aren't sure how to correct a problem you do find, it's a good idea to call a home inspector or indoor air quality consultant. Look for credentials from a respected industry organization, such as the American Society of Home Inspectors (http://www.ashi.org) or the Indoor Air Quality Association (http://www.iaqa.org). A house call will likely run $250 or more.

Keep in mind the mold field is largely unregulated, so there are few industry norms for pricing.

Mold and Insurance
Mold remediation isn't necessarily covered by homeowners insurance, which typically pays only if the problem results from a sudden emergency already covered on your policy, such as a burst pipe. Insurance usually doesn't pay if the problem results from deferred maintenance or floodwaters (unless you have flood insurance).

Water Emergencies
A note about emergency situations: If you have a flood(http://www.houselogic.com/articles/what-do-first-24-hours-after-flood/) or a leaking or burst pipe, act immediately to remove the water and run a dehumidifier--don't wait for an insurance adjuster, inspector, or water extraction/mold remediation company to arrive. But take photos or video of any damage for your insurer.

The main thing to remember is to monitor moisture before problems develop--and if something seems wrong, don't hesitate to call for professional help.

Karin Beuerlein has covered home improvement and green living topics extensively for HGTV.com, FineLiving.com, and FrontDoor.com. In more than a decade of freelancing, she's also written for dozens of national and regional publications, including Better Homes & Gardens and the Chicago Tribune. She and her husband started married life by remodeling the house they were living in. They still have both the marriage and the house, no small feat.

Reprinted from HouseLogic (houselogic.com) with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS (R).
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

Start a Bartering Co-op

Article From Houselogic.com

By: Carl Vogel
Published: February 26, 2010

Want to exchange music lessons for help managing a garage sale, or any other number of tasks? A bartering co-op can help you find the right match in your neighborhood.

A barter co-op helps neighbors share their skills and talents with each other by trading tasks instead of money.

In communities around the country, homeowners have rediscovered the benefits of barter trade. By organizing a structured barter system, neighbors can go beyond an infrequent "I'll cut your lawn and you'll make me lunch" agreement. A barter co-op allows local residents to exchange with multiple partners, access a wide range of local services and goods, and help their neighbors.

Barter co-ops can be focused on one service (a babysitting club, for example) or include any service that participants want to offer. They can be limited to one neighborhood, be citywide, or even cross state lines. Barter systems can be run using a supply of simple paper money, or a sophisticated electronic spreadsheet.

In suburban Minneapolis/St. Paul, Donna Cullen has had her basement cleaned and her bushes trimmed, and she's been driven a few times to the airport through the local Hour Dollars barter program. For her part, she offers simple services like dog walking, gift-wrapping, and leaf-raking.

"The most popular categories are things like haircuts and massage, and people ask for a driver for when they need to do errands. But we have lawyers willing to do wills, too," says Cullen, an Hour Dollars board member. "Everyone has value and something to offer."

How It Works
Since a barter co-op allows members to trade with multiple partners, your program must have a system to keep track of things. Many groups use a currency based on hours. If it takes me an hour to shovel your snow, you pay me one "neighborhood dollar," which I may use next week with another member who is offering to tutor high school math.

Some co-ops say that every hour of work is worth the same, regardless of the tasks; others let participants negotiate-weeding a garden for an hour might be worth one neighborhood dollar, while a plumber might ask for three for the hour it would take to fix a leak.

It's easier to keep track of everyone's neighborhood dollars electronically than to print and issue barter co-op money. Just have both members email the cost and the transaction, and have a designated member keep track. A small group can get by with a spreadsheet on a coordinator's computer with email messages sent to members about their balance. For a system that can be accessed online by anyone in the co-op, a free database program can be modified by a tech savvy member.

An added benefit of the electronic system is that if a member wants a service that costs more neighborhood dollars than he has right now, he can run a deficit for a while, rather than having to wait until he's earned enough. Keep an eye on borrowers, though, and be willing to help them earn more neighborhood dollars.

A password-accessible website for members to check their hours is also a good spot for posting what each participant offers. A typical barter co-op member might use and return a half-dozen to 20 or so hours a year. Sending out a regular newsletter (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/condo-association-newsletter-helps-owners-feel-more-home/) -email or printed-lets everyone know what services are available, builds a sense of community, and keeps the co-op visible.

If you'd like to see exactly what's involved in starting a barter co-op, Timebanks USA (http://www.timebanks.org) offers a $65 start-up kit that includes six months' access to its barter co-op management software program, a manual, and online peer coaching.

Smooth Sailing
It's a good idea to pull together a core team to operate the program and set the ground rules. Here are some other key ideas for that team to consider:

Create clear parameters. A member might barter for just a few hours of service, but it's still an economic transaction. Treat everyone equally. Be sure the rules are fair and the system is transparent to avoid misunderstandings.

Issue hours to new members. Currency works best when there is liquidity. Give each new member a set number of hours when they join (two or three), and consider giving a member an hour when they bring a dish to share for a quarterly meeting or write the co-op newsletter. When people have a few hours in their account, they're more likely to use them and keep the system moving.

Keep members comfortable. Providing or receiving services from someone you've never met can be daunting. "Help everyone remember: Every transaction is voluntary, and the terms are negotiable," says Jon Hain, the board president of Madison Hours, a barter group in Madison, Wis. "You never want anyone to feel that having credits is a burden."

Explain the tax implications. The IRS considers bartering with unofficial money a taxable transaction. For a group of neighbors who are trading babysitting and car washes, you probably don't have to worry about this. However, if some of your members are businesses, they should consider any payment in "dollar hours" in the books as cash.

A community barter co-op takes some work to establish. Although it might take up to 150 hours to get one going, once it's running, it doesn't require that much time to maintain its progress. And, it can be more than a way to find someone to clean your gutters--it can be a great way to get to know your neighbors as well.

Carl Vogel, a Chicago-based freelance writer and former editor of The Neighborhood Works magazine, has written about public policy and community organizing and development for more than 15 years. He would trade some babysitting with someone willing to paint his garage.

Reprinted from HouseLogic (houselogic.com) with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS (R).
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Saving Money with Salvaged Building Materials

Article From Houselogic.com
By: Amanda Abrams

Published: March 08, 2010

Salvaged building materials allow you to improve your home inexpensively--but might require an extra investment of time and energy.

If you're looking to improve your home on the cheap, consider using salvaged building materials. Besides being less expensive than new materials, secondhand features can add character, quality, and value to your home. But note that the savings in dollars may require a greater investment in time and effort.

Remodeling with secondhand building materials has many fans. Some are owners of historic houses who improve their homes by adding period elements. Others follow green building practices and appreciate conserving resources and keeping materials out of landfills. And still others are looking for quirky elements that will break their homes out of cookie-cutter molds.

According to the Building Materials Reuse Association (http://www.bmra.org), recycling is becoming more common in the construction industry. That means reclaimed building elements like doors, windows, plumbing fixtures, and wood flooring are increasingly easy to find.

Habitat for Humanity's nationwide chain of ReStores (http://www.habitat.org/cd/env/restore.aspx) sells recycled items, and many cities have architectural salvage yards. Online, neighbors advertise unwanted items on community bulletin boards, such as Craigslist (http://www.craigslist.org/about/sites), and national directories of recycled materials, such as EcoBusinessLinks (http://www.ecobusinesslinks.com/recycled-building-materials.htm), can be great sources for hard-to-find elements. And the price is right: reused pieces can be 50% to 75% cheaper than their new counterparts.

Sounds terrific, right? But it's not that simple. Using recycled building elements is like shopping at a thrift store: You can't be certain you'll find exactly what you're looking for. Anyone interested in a good deal to spruce up their home-an ornate wood mantelpiece or a set of Victorian doors, for example-has to be willing to compromise on some of the details and commit some time to the endeavor.

If you live in or near a city and have access to a salvage yard, you're in luck. Many receive multiple new shipments daily, and some, such as Seattle's Second Use (http://www.seconduse.com/), post their offerings online.

But in most cases, there's no substitute for regularly showing up in person to check out what's available. If you've got something particular in mind, plan on spending a few afternoons at the salvage yard trying to track down what you're looking for. The same is true if you're exploring online: locating the right piece may take longer than you'd expected.

Before beginning your search, make sure you've got measurements in hand. It's useful if you can allow for some wiggle room: unlike big home improvement stores, the items on sale are usually one-of-a-kind pieces. So while a recent truckload might have dropped off a beautiful old mantelpiece, the size might not be an exact fit; know in advance if you can manage with a slightly larger or smaller size.

Some old items need to be treated with serious care. Ruthie Mundell of Community Forklift (http://www.communityforklift.com/), a salvage yard in Edmonston, Md., says that the staff tries to flag items that appear to be lead paint hazards--that is, anything painted prior to 1978, when the Consumer Product Safety Commission (http://www.cpsc.gov/) (CPSC) banned lead in paints.

Nevertheless, buyers of old painted items need to be aware of the potential hazards. Older paint doesn't mean the pieces are unusable, but the paint must be thoroughly removed or sealed-never scraped or sanded. The CPSC offers guidelines (http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/5054.html) for treating lead paint in the household.

Some salvaged pieces are better deals than others. The best is often flooring: careful shoppers can find used floor boards from quality old wood that's difficult to come by these days. Sat Jiwan Ikle-Khalsa, a green living consultant in Takoma Park, Md., scoured a local salvage yard and found maple, white oak, and rare heart pine flooring at a low price for his renovated 1940s-era home. He estimates he saved more than $2,000 over the cost of new flooring.

Other useful finds are doors, particularly those already on a frame, and plumbing elements. Antique light fixtures can be a great bargain, but check whether they've been recently rewired before you buy; otherwise, you may have to do it yourself, or pay an electrician for the service.

Windows are common, but many older widows are single-pane and not energy efficient. These are better used for interior walls to add light and air flow between rooms. Stained glass panels are relatively common at salvage yards and cost from $50 to $500.

Salvaged oak flooring:
$1 to $3 per sq. ft.

New oak flooring: $4 to $10 per sq. ft.
Average savings for 12x16-foot room:

Salvaged interior solid panel door (basic): $20 to $50
New interior panel door:
$200 to $400

Average savings:

Secondhand pedestal sink: $20 to $250
New pedestal sink: $100 to $800
Average savings: $315

Recycled crown molding: $.30 to $1 per lineal ft.
New crown molding: $.90 to $3 per lineal ft.
Average savings for 12x16-foot room: $72.80

Don't forget to add in transportation costs. Not all salvage yards deliver, and those that do aren't necessarily cheap: the cost of getting materials across town could be $100 or more. It might make more sense to borrow or rent a truck on your own.

Salvaged elements may not add to a home's appraised value, according to Chicago appraiser Tim McCarthy, president of T.J. McCarthy and Associates. An appraiser probably won't include a home's reclaimed heart pine beams in the kitchen or the bathroom's antique plumbing fixtures when calculating the house's value.

But that doesn't mean the seller can't use those amenities as selling points and boost the asking price accordingly. "It's very market-specific," McCarthy says. In higher-end neighborhoods, home-buyers may be willing to pay more for authentic elements that give a house personality.

McCarthy recommends talking with a local Realtor before making changes; they'll have a good sense of the housing market's current demands and should be able to tell you whether a vintage element will boost your home's market value.

To effectively integrate salvaged items, Arne Mortensen, owner of Mortensen Design/Build in Seattle, recommends choosing a contractor who has a particular interest and experience in working with recycled building materials. Salvage yard staffs may be able to recommend someone; other sources for 'green' contractors include online sites like Angie's List (http://www.angieslist.com/angieslist/).

Nonetheless, the time-consuming legwork of finding good pieces generally falls to the homeowner. To make the process easier, spend time thinking about and researching online what you want before you begin to shop. And be prepared to be persistent; happy hunting takes patience.

Amanda Abrams is a Washington, D.C.-based writer who spent years as a policy analyst improving people's access to decent housing. Her interest in salvaged building materials and all things secondhand originated 15 years ago with a chance visit to Urban Ore, a vast warehouse of used treasures in Berkeley, Calif., where she was attending college at the time.

Reprinted from HouseLogic (houselogic.com) with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS (R).
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

March 2010 Marketing Statistics