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A Seamless Way to Remove Nails from Trim and Flooring

9/23/2021

A Seamless Way to Remove Nails from Trim and Flooring

 

The problem: You can save some dough by using salvaged materials like trim and oak flooring. But before you can install or even safely store them, you have to pull out any old nails — without damaging the wood.

The fix: Although you might be tempted to whack the nail from the back with a hammer and then yank it, don’t. That can mar the surface. Instead, pull the nails out from the back, says Peter Fazio from the site Dadand.

Tool list:

  • Pliers
  • Work gloves
  • Drop cloth

How to:

  1. Put the trim or floorboard face down on a drop cloth to protect the front surface.
  2. Using your pliers, grab the nail and gently roll onto the curved part of the tool until the nail pops out.

If the old filler used to conceal the nail on the front side pops out, it’s easy to fix. Refill the hole with color-matched wood filler (it’ll work for composite trim, too). Scrape the top of the repair gently with a putty knife to remove excess filler — otherwise you’ll leave a noticeable bump.

If you can’t find color-matched filler, repair the hole and gently sand the area smooth. Spot paint to match.

Victory on Eviction Moratorium

9/21/2021

In a 6-3 ruling, a majority of justices agreed that the stay on the lower court’s order finding the CDC’s eviction moratorium to be unlawful was no longer justified.

In their order, the justices wrote, “The moratorium has put the applicants, along with millions of landlords across the country, at risk of irreparable harm by depriving them of rent payments with no guarantee of eventual recovery. Despite the CDC’s determination that landlords should bear a significant financial cost of the pandemic, many landlords have modest means.”

The case was brought by the Georgia and Alabama Associations of REALTORS® and other property providers, with NAR’s help.

In May of this year, U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich for the District of Columbia had struck down the ban as unlawful, but she stayed her ruling pending appeal. The case wound up twice before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and Supreme Court.

In a statement, NAR said of the ruling:

“This decision is the correct one, from both a legal standpoint and a matter of fairness. It brings to an end an unlawful policy that places financial hardship solely on the shoulders of mom-and-pop housing providers, who provide nearly half of all rental housing in America, and it restores property rights in America.

“No housing provider wants to evict a tenant—it is always a last resort and reserved for the rarest cases. The best solution for all parties is rental assistance, and all energy should go toward its swift distribution. Nearly $50 billion of aid is now available to cover up to a year-and-a-half of combined back and future rent and utilities for struggling tenants—and every state has started a program to distribute the funds.

“With this rental assistance, now is the time to return the housing sector to its former, healthy function. NAR is thankful for the Biden administration’s new guidance to speed up rental assistance distribution, which includes many NAR recommendations. We will continue to work with all parties to make that assistance readily accessible to tenants and housing providers.”

NAR cautions housing providers that some state and local governments may still have their own eviction moratoria in place. 

Tips for summer maintenance and curb appeal

9/16/2021
Tips for summer maintenance and curb appeal

* Upgrade your house numbers. Get larger, more readable numbers at a home improvement store. Or visit houseofantiquehardware.com for interesting numerals in all sorts of fonts. Get some that are not only attractive but that can be easily read from a distance. Avoid frilly numbers.

* Remember to put up reflectors at the end of your driveway so visitors know when to turn in to your place. Reflectors help alert other drivers to a driveway.

* More expensive but very effective, replace a cracked or outdated walkways while it's still summer. Interlocking pavers make it easy to do the job yourself.

* Update your flower boxes. When fall bloomers, such as mums and autumn sage are finished blooming, cut back the plants and poke in evergreen branches.

Monochrome Interiors are Timeless and Rich

9/14/2021
Monochrome Interiors are Timeless and Rich
Your decorating style could be midcentury, Art Deco or minimalist, but the boundaries of black, white and gray will allow for vibrant flourishes. 
Going monochrome doesn't mean abandoning color. Grays can range from sea-green and lilac hues to brown tones that resemble pebbles. For brighter colors, it's easy to combine pale or bleached floors with hits of natural greenery. 
Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Interior stylist Hilary Robertson says that best of all, the decor is remarkably simple. You won't be seeing red from color decisions. No more figuring out how the pattern on an upholstered chair will go with the color of the walls.
With a limited palette, you can mix pieces from different decades, add patterns and layer textures. Robertson says it all works.
In her farmhouse, Finnish interior stylist and product designer Annaleena Leina-Karlsson makes no concession to "country style." Like the photographs on her blog, Annaleenas HEM, she has applied a simple but sophisticated, mostly white formula to her living room.
It has matte white walls and gloss-white painted floors. The scheme offers an effective way to show off the bold geometric accessories she designed. They include a long, rectangular gilt- metal box light that hangs across the ceiling and the gilt-metal inverted V, which serves as both sculpture and magazine holder on the coffee table.
Her wipe-clean, white-leather IKEA sofas are practical for a space that houses five children.

Your September Landscaping To-do List

9/9/2021
Summer comes to a close this month, and that means that it's time to get back to work in the garden. With a little time and planning each fall, you can enjoy better landscaping year after year.
  • Remove faded and droopy summer annuals and replace them with hardier flowers. Pansies can take a beating through a light frost and will provide a splash of color through the fall. Mums are also a great choice.
  • Plant any new evergreens during September and keep them well-watered until the ground freezes.
  • Plant any new deciduous trees and shrubs. Use root-stimulating fertilizer to encourage root growth.
  • Divide any overgrown spring blooming perennials and water them thoroughly after re-planting. After a hard frost, cut the perennials to the ground.
  • Plant spring-blooming bulbs. Make sure to consider color and height, placing smaller bulbs toward the front of your garden where you'll be able to see them in the spring.
  • If you have a vegetable garden, pull out the plants as soon as they finish producing and begin to wither.
  • If you have bare patches on your lawn, the cooler weather is a great time for re-seeding or patching with sod because of decreased weed competition.
  • Potted plants that go outdoors during the warmer months should come back inside. Use this time to remove damaged stems and leaves with yellowing, holes, or spots.
  • Plant the rosebush of your dreams. Fall is a good time to plant roses, just not hybrid tea-style roses, which will not establish sufficient roots before winter.

Stay Safe By Planning Outdoor Work

8/10/2021
August is a perfect time to prepare for safe work near overhead and underground power lines.
Underground lines - Whether putting up a fence, installing a deck, replacing underground piping or simply planting a tree, call the electric or gas company to have underground lines marked before you dig. The depth of utility lines varies and there may be multiple lines in a common area. Digging without calling can disrupt service to an entire neighborhood, harm you and those around you and potentially result in fines and repair costs. Call before every digging job so your underground utility lines can be marked to prevent undesired consequences. 
Overhead power lines - Precautions with overhead lines are just as important when trimming trees, painting or siding your home, installing a TV antenna or for a variety of jobs involving a ladder with extended reach near energized power lines. Your electric company cares about the safety of you and your family and urges you to contact them if an overhead line is getting in the way of your project. Coming into contact with an energized powerline could be fatal, so call your electric company for advice.

Raising Backyard Chickens

8/5/2021
If you're thinking about raising chickens in your backyard, you're not alone -- according to National Public Radio, backyard poultry has only grown in popularity since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when homebound families brought home chickens to supply meat and eggs, keep kids busy and bring a little happy noise into their backyards.

Before you bring any chickens home, check local ordinances and neighborhood rules to make sure that you're allowed to have chickens on your property. They may be prohibited entirely, or you may be limited in the number you can have or the type of coop you can build.

Once you know for sure that chickens are allowed, it's time to do a little homework. Take a class, read a book or find an online course. Chickens aren't difficult to keep, but you should take the time to learn about daily care, health issues, behavior and safety. During your research, you may realize that chickens aren't for you after all.

Next, figure out where you're going to keep them. Chicks usually require a heat lamp and a smaller enclosure, so identify a place where they can safely stay until they're big enough to go outside. Once outside, chickens require shelter and protection from predators, including family pets. You can purchase or download plans to build a coop yourself, or purchase kits or already-built coops from farm supply stores, hatcheries and other vendors.

Before you pick out what kinds of chickens you want to bring home, think about your intended use for the birds. Some chickens are prolific egg-layers, while others offer plentiful and tasty meat. Some birds can be used for both eggs and meat, while others, such as tiny bantam chickens, are mostly just fun to watch. Contact your local hatchery or farm supply store to find out when different breeds will be available so you can place an order.

Lastly, as the Centers for Disease Control has repeatedly admonished Americans, under no circumstances should you hug or kiss your chickens. Chickens are notorious salmonella carriers, so keep your lips away from your birds, and if you must touch them, wash thoroughly with soap and water after.
 

Here are some key numbers to watch:

8/3/2021

3,200 is the number of jobs added to Virginia’s economy between May and June 2021. While job growth has been steady for several months, Virginia has still not gained back all of the jobs lost last spring.

2,800 is the number of jobs added to the Accommodation & Food Services sector in Virginia between May and June 2021. This means that the vast majority of the job growth in June was driven by this sector, which was the hardest hit part of the economy during the pandemic.

4.3% is the June 2021 unemployment rate in Virginia. Unemployment in the commonwealth has declined steadily for the past 12 months, although the statewide unemployment rate is still above where it was prior to the onset of the pandemic.

5.4% is the percent change in Consumer Price Index (CPI) between June 2020 and June 2021. The annual change in CPI is a common measure of inflation in the economy. Inflation has been driven by higher prices for autos, airline tickets, and other consumer goods.

2.78% is the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage (FRM) rate during the last week of July, according to Freddie Mac. Rates have fallen somewhat in recent weeks with concerns about the Delta variant of the coronavirus and continued uncertainty in the economy.

Minor Kitchen Renovations Pay at Sale

7/29/2021
Here are some ideas to save money on that kitchen remodel:

  • Use open shelving. Open shelving costs less than wall cabinets.
  • If you want cabinet doors, consider slab door fronts or shaker style, which are typically less expensive.
  • Ask your neighbors for their stuff. Seriously -- if you know of someone doing a remodel, find out what they're doing with their old items. Chances are they'd love to see their cabinets, sinks or light fixtures being repurposed rather than thrown away.
  • Head to the discount appliance store. They'll have scratches or dents, but you can often fix those or find an appliance with an imperfection in an unnoticeable spot.
  • Visit secondhand shops and auctions. Get there early on the days they bring in new items and move fast -- you won't be the only one there!
  • Paint and new hardware. This one almost always works. A new coat of paint, some updated pulls and knobs and voila! A whole new look.
  • Keep things where they are. If you do opt for a more extensive remodel, keep the plumbing and gas lines where they are. It can add a lot to the cost when you change the footprint and move these around.

Is Buying a Home Still a Good Investment?

7/27/2021

As home prices escalate, some people are worried that buying a home at this time is not a smart financial move. But there is solid evidence that over the mid-term and longer-term, homeownership is a good investment and there are many financial benefits of homeownership.

In the first quarter of 2021, the median sales price in Virginia was $323,333. Five years ago, in the first quarter of 2016, the typical home in the state sold for $249,167, which means prices rose by 30% over the past five years.

If a family had purchased the typical home in 2016, five years later, that family would have accrued nearly $55,000 in housing equity. The profit accrued takes into account the out-of-pocket costs associated with buying and selling a home and also reflects changing interest rates.

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