Archive for the ‘DIY Help’ Category

Top 5 Hardwood Flooring Options for Families With Children and Pets

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

A homeowner who has young children and pets and who’s decided to install a hardwood floor has a bit of a challenge. What type of hardwood floor can bear up to the sort of messes that automatically come with having young kids and pets running around the house? Fortunately, Go Hardwood has the solution. This article will describe five of the top hardwood flooring options for a rambunctious household.

Some Tips First
Though the following woods are tough and durable, even they need some protection in a house full of pets and little ones. The wood should be sealed with a polyurethane sealant. This can be done at the factory or when the wood is installed in the home. The homeowner should put down area rugs over these floors, especially in rooms that get a lot of traffic such as the den. Spills should be cleaned up immediately, and the floor should be damp-mopped once a week if it gets heavy traffic. Damp mopping can happen less often if traffic is light. Water should never be allowed to stand even on a floor that’s been sealed.

The hardwood floor should be vacuumed weekly with the vacuum on floor setting to pick up grit that can scratch its surface. If there is a mild scratch or two, it can be camouflaged with wax sticks the same color as the floor. White spots can usually be dampened then wiped up, while darker spots may require removal with a piece of fine steel wool or the application of a poultice. Hardware or big box stores should sell cleansers made for wood with a polyurethane finish.

If the hardwood floor has taken a bit of a beating over time, it should be sanded and refinished every few years. Ideally, a professional should do this, for it’s a messy and arduous job. Solid hardwood can be finished more times than engineered hardwood, which is made up of a veneer of high quality wood over layers of plywood that have been pressure-glued together.

Now, here are the types of hardwood for a busy household:

Brazilian Oak
Also called taurai, this hardwood is sold as both solid and engineered wood. It’s native to South America, specifically the Amazon basin. It has a lustrous, golden-red color that puts people in mind of red oak and takes stains well. Brazilian oak is fairly hard, weighs about 3 pounds per square foot, has a low shrinkage rate and resists dents and dings.

Brazilian oak is easy to work with both manual and power tools.

Brazilian Tigerwood
This wood gets its name for the beautiful, tiger-like stripes in the grain. Also called koa, the heartwood is salmon colored to orange brown and has a golden luster. It’s a very hard, tough and strong wood that has low shrinkage. Because it’s so hard and dense, Brazilian tiger wood is a bit hard to work with even though it glues and holds screws well. It weighs 56 pounds per cubic foot and has a coarse-textured, interlocked grain.

Black Walnut
Available as solid or engineered wood, durable black walnut is native to America and gets its name from its heartwood, which is deep, dark brown to purple-black. It’s a tough, hard wood with medium density and is easy to work with both power and hand tools. It glues well, holds both nails and screws securely and can be polished to a bright shine.

Hickory is a paler, straight-grained wood that dries rapidly without warping or twisting. It resists shocks and crushing well and is very strong. Though it stains and polishes well, hickory has a reputation for being a bit difficult to glue. It is best bought in solid wood planks or strips.

Golden Teak
This strong and beautiful wood is so tough that it’s frequently used as the decking for ships and for outdoor furniture. As the name implies, this type of teak is golden brown with no other markings. It is very stable, resists fire and acid and takes stains and polishes beautifully.


The 10 Best Songs to Accompany Your Spring Cleaning

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

Spring is here and it’s time for everyone’s least favorite task: spring cleaning. There are very few who enjoy this tedious chore, but it is necessary for most. One way to make things more enjoyable, or at least bearable, is to assemble a collection of music to clean to.

The important thing is that it should have a fast beat, from beginning to end. It should also be inspirational, to help create a positive mood to push you through the more menial tasks. Music that makes you want to get out of your chair and move is the best accompaniment to this annual responsibility. Here are the ten best songs for this purpose:

  1. Really Don’t Care, Demi Lovato

On the surface, this is just another break up song. But, if you look deeper, you’ll see that it’s really a celebration of individuality and personal power. It is about being yourself, no matter what anyone else might think, but it is also about letting go of the past and putting it away. This could be great inspiration for a job like cleaning out your old junk drawers and getting rid of all the clutter that tends to collect over the years.

  1. Single Ladies, Beyoncé

Although it has been overplayed at times, it’s difficult to stay in your seat while listening to this iconic song. It’s got sass and attitude that, some days, can be just what it takes to get you moving when you really don’t want to. The attitude of the lyrics point out the dangers of letting something great get away. This may be the perfect accompaniment to a task like cleaning out closets and getting rid of old clothes, perhaps as an excuse to shop for something new.

  1. Firework, Katy Perry

This song is all about self-empowerment and celebrating the things that make everyone unique. This is exactly the kind of attitude that might be needed when tackling a chore like dusting all those places that are out of sight and easy to forget. If you’re dusting those top shelves, appliances, fan blades, or anything else you rarely see, this could be the song for the job.

  1. Just Fine, Mary J. Blije

Some days, it’s enough to just appreciate the simple pleasures in life, and this song definitely has a beat that makes you want to move. It’s not always about the big events, some things we do simply because they need to be done. Keeping a positive attitude while deep cleaning floors and carpets would be much simpler to accomplish with this upbeat song playing in the background.

  1. Bad Romance, Lady Gaga

This is a fun song about wanting things, even when we know they’re bad for us. It’s a reminder that, sometimes, it’s the bad decisions that make life interesting. What better time to listen to a song with such a catchy tune that you can’t help singing along, than when performing a noisy chore? So, throw on the headphones and sing this song at the top of your lungs while power washing your house’s exterior.

  1. Heartbeat Song, Kelly Clarkson

Sometimes, the most difficult thing to do is to pick yourself up and just move forward with your life. That is the spirit of this song. Whatever you’ve been through, life goes on and keeping a positive attitude is essential to the process. The same concept can be applied when you are, say, touching up the paint on your walls. Or, better yet, find a new color to brighten up a room or two.

  1. Umbrella, Rihanna

This song is a celebration of people supporting each other through thick and thin. It’s a reassurance that, come what may, their partner can count on them to stick it out. This might be the perfect soundtrack for a chore like putting away all of those things that always seem to be left out after being used. This song is a good reminder that, even though it feels like you’ve done this task a thousand times, it’s really not a big deal.

  1. Stronger, Kelly Clarkson

This song is really an anthem about surviving life’s land mines and coming out the other side tougher and better than you were before. It is because of the obstacles we face, not in spite of them, that we become who we are. What better inspiration than this could there be for dealing with a task like washing down windows, walls, cupboards, or drawers?

  1. Roar, Katy Perry

One of the most inspirational songs in recent years, this one makes you want to get out there and tackle the anything and shine for the world to see. When you’re up against the ropes, it’s important to keep pushing your way through until you fight your way out. Who wouldn’t want to tackle a long, boring chore (like cleaning all the curtains, upholstery, cushions or bedspreads in their house) when this anthem for personal empowerment is blasting out the speakers?

  1. Born This Way, Lady Gaga

There are a few reasons why this song deserves to top this list. It is a powerful message of self-acceptance. Everyone has things about their lives that, perhaps, they wouldn’t have chosen to take on. It’s important to embrace those things about yourself and celebrate your uniqueness, rather than be embarrassed by it. This song would be the perfect accompaniment for a household makeover, to take on a boring room and make it a reflection of your personal style.

If these songs aren’t your cup of tea, you can certainly put together your own list. The most important feature the songs should have is the ability to inspire and encourage you to get to work!


Jessica Kane is a writer for SoundStage Direct, the number one choice on the web for vinyl records, turntables, and more!

10 Housewarming Gift Ideas

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

Whether it’s friends or family, moving into a new home can be an exciting time. Learning the tricks of a new place and filling an empty space with personalized belongings is an adventure in itself and a great chance to give loved ones a special gift. Here are the top 10 unique housewarming gifts you can prepare to show your friends and family that you care.

#1 Aerodrip Coffee Maker

A cup of coffee is a solid way to start your day. French press and typically coffee drip machines are common and nothing really special. You can spice up your friend’s mornings with an Aerodrip coffee maker. This handle little device doesn’t require power and makes for a unique coffee experience with stronger flavors and smoother taste.

#2 Herb Infuser Jars

Herbal infusers are glass jars or bottles designed so that you can submerged various herbs into oils or other liquids. These handy little jars not only look great but allow you to make all kinds of unique flavored oils and vinegar for your kitchen. Simple to use, you just put your desired herb into the central strainer and submerge the entire thing into olive oil or vinegar. After a few days, you’ll have a tasty treat you can share with all your friends.

#3 Decorative Terrarium

House decoration has stepped up a few notches from simple pictures and paintings. Decorative terrariums can be filled with sand, live plants, and even little creatures to bring a bit of nature into your home. These little glass bowls can be shaped into nearly anything and will make your house really come to life. A decorative terrarium is sure to be a unique gift not to be forgotten.

#4 Scented Decorative Candles

Candles have become increasingly popular in recent years. Decorative candles are great gifts as they can be left alone as a great visual piece or lit on special occasions. Scented versions are even better as they fill the room with pleasant scents and add to the atmosphere. Candles also work in almost any room of the house, making them the perfect housewarming gift.

#5 DIY Welcome Mat

A great way to really personalize your home is with customized welcome mats. These mats are DIY friendly, so you can really make something special. Welcome mat kits usually come with a base mat, various paints, and stencils so you can make whatever you can imagine. Nothing says “welcome” to a new home like a customized mat at your front door.

#6 Voice Activated Smart Systems

New technologies are merging homes with smart devices. Voice-activated smart systems allow you to turn on or off lights, control your thermostat, change music stations, and much more by just saying a few keywords. Many systems are designed with security in mind with cameras and locks to help protect homes. These smart systems can even make older homes feel like you’re in the future and are the perfect types of gifts regardless of age.

#7 Robotic Vacuum

At the top of the list of smart-home devices is the automatic vacuum. There are several versions that exist that can both mop and sweep your entire house. These little vacuums can be programmed to run whenever you’re not home, so you always return to a clean house. Automated vacuums make great gifts as they are very low maintenance and who doesn’t like a clean home?

#8 Customized Silverware

A beautiful home can only be accompanied by elegant dining sets. This design “Louvres” is one of the most popular styles from Europe. It is made from 18/10 stainless steel and is a perfect balance between form and function. Sets are offered ranging from 5 to 60 pieces and additional place settings are available.

The Silver Superstore also offers engraving services which can add even more personalization to your gift. You can etch on a message of love, names, or simply something to remember the occasion.

#9 Clever Key Hiders

One of the worst feelings is being locked out of your house. Moving to a new home leaves people with many new keys they may forget or misplace. Clever key hiders can be designed to look like rocks, sticks, or other mundane objects that can be secretly placed outside your house in case ever lose your key. Magnetic versions can be discretely hidden under railings and siding making them easy to access, but hard for strangers to find. Not only are these key hiders functional, but they make great gifts as they come in dozens of fun designs.

#10 His & Her Bedding Sets

Housewarming gift giving can be tricky if you’re giving a gift to couples as they may have different tastes. Customized bedding sets are a great compromise as many are designed to accommodate both male and female tastes. These bedding sets are designed with fun and unique patterns that are not only creative, but give couples a nice piece they can both appreciate.

Whether you’re buying a gift for family or friends, giving them something unique and different is a great way to show them that you care. Traditional foods and wines are fine, but surprising someone with customized decorations, unique silverware, or smart home devices are all things they can continue to use for years to come.

Mailbox Installation and Postal Regulations 101

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Rain... sleet... gloom of night... no matter what the time or weather, one day your mailbox or post will require replacement.How To Repair or Replace A Damaged Mailbox Post

Rain… sleet… gloom of night… no matter what the time or weather, one day your mailbox or post will require replacement.

Thank you, snow plow… with an assist from the carpenter ants and termites!

The hardest part of a mailbox installation can be removing the old box or post! So I’m going to make the assumption that you wish to replace the box and the post. If I’m wrong, and you want to do just the box, I will have even less to tell you, but, if you scan down past the sweaty, smelly, earthwormy stuff, you may still pick up a few tips. I don’t exactly know where this tale is going, so follow along as best you can, and hopefully we’ll arrive at the end together!

Removing the old post… pray there’s no cement!

Sorry… I can’t make this easy! Wiggle it, pray for no cement, and pull like heck!! Then again, if you are pretty sure there is no cement, there is a strategy that can work, especially if you have a broken post with only a few inches exposed. Nail or screw a piece of 2×4 or larger lumber to the post at or within a few inches of ground level. Then, using a big pry bar or the mason’s bar, pry the post straight up, using another board, toolbox, or significant other as a fulcrum.

 Caution: don’t use a significant other as a fulcrum… if you expect your relationship to move to a higher level!!

A post set in concrete creates a whole new problem. If I found one of those foundation-like clumps of rocks and gravel mix when the digging started, my first choice was always to choose a new location for the box!

Occasionally, there just isn’t an option and the cement must be removed or moved. Yes… moved. Sometimes, it’s easier to dig the hole a little wider and muscle the ball of concrete aside. Install the new post next to it.

US Postal regulations regarding mailbox location and height

US Postal regulations regarding mailbox location and height

In order for the safe and efficient delivery of mail, the US Postal Service has issued regulations regarding curbside deliveries. However, the local post office has the final say in mailbox placement. The “old guidelines were:

Vertical height from road surface to bottom of mailbox: Between 41″ and 45″.

Distance from outside edge of curb or edge of road surface to front of mailbox : 6-8″

In order for the safe and efficient delivery of mail, the US Postal Service has issued regulations regarding curbside deliveries

This requirement dates back to February of 2001. However, the more recent requirements (12/9/2004) are less specific and do not refer to specifics of height and location. Instead, they require the post to be approved by the local post office and 2) accessible from the vehicle for curbside delivery such that the carrier does not have to leave his vehicle. That means that any obstruction, including parked cars, snow piles, etc. , give the carrier the option of withholding delivery until the obstruction is removed. 
If you are installing a post with an extending arm, figure the position based the final position of the box, not just the arm! Note that the arm will need to be much higher up if you plan to hang the box. (More on mounting the box below.)
If you feel your situation is unique or would like an exception to the rules, talk to your postmaster or ask your friendly postal carrier for suggestions. (This is when that little bag of Christmas cookies or envelope makes all the difference!)

Creating your own mailbox? Be careful...

Creating your own mailbox? Be careful…

If you plan on making a mailbox yourself, you should check with the postmaster or letter carrier to get approval before you spend time and money on it! A poorly designed mailbox can halt your mail delivery!


Choosing your new mailbox post – wood or “other”?


There are a number of choices for mailbox posts. The most recent addition is molded plastic. Some make no pretence about being plastic, using flowing shapes, interesting colors and unique designs with integrated features such as newspaper holders. Others are made to look like painted cedar mailbox posts but for a fraction of the price and without the durability problems. As a whole, plastic mailbox posts are extremely durable and will outlast any wood or metal post.

Aluminum and galvanized steel

Metal posts are available in galvanized steel and aluminum. Both are durable, but the nod goes to aluminum. Because it doesn’t rust like steel, the finish stays looking good longer. However, aluminum posts tend to be more expensive.


Wood mailbox posts are the traditional choice, especially for do-it-yourselfers looking for economy. The cheapest and simplest post is a simple 4×4 or 6×6 post of any wood variety. A 3/4″ – 1″ thick pine, plywood or cedar wood base is attached to the top of the post and the mailbox is screwed onto it. The base should be sized to fit into the recess under the mailbox. On many boxes, you will need to leave some space at the door end of the base to prevent rubbing. Test the operation of the door before making the final box installation.
If you have more money to spend or want a more interesting look, you can buy a fancy-schmancy wood posts with a horizontal arm, complex supports and other ornamentation (or you can build one yourself). These are available in redwood, cedar and various untreated and pressure-treated woods.

Each type of wood has its advantages and disadvantages:


• Cedar and redwood are both very insect resistant, but are quite expensive and will eventually rot if buried. For the maximum “bang for the buck”, they require an underground preservative (see next section for details) applied right to ground level.

• Untreated woods such as Douglas fir and pine can be used for mailbox posts but require preservatives both above and below-grade. They have the shortest lifespan of any post, regardless of the preservative used since they have no inherent resistance to insects or rot.
• Pressure-treated wood has high resistance to rot and insects due to the infusion of a powerful preservative and will last longer underground than any other wood product. However, pressure-treated wood does need to be coated with a protectant above ground or may crack, twist and split rather dramatically!

• Masonry mailbox posts or enclosure of granite, concrete, stone and brick must conform to both local or state code as well as postal requirements. Though the postal service is silent on the post’s material, “rigid structures” at the curbside of busy roads may be considered a “safety hazard” by your state or town, so check with them before building one. (A customer of mine built a large brick mailbox enclosure on a main state road without consulting anyone. In the end, she had to pay for construction and destruction of that structure when the state ordered her to remove it. Let the builder beware!)

Pressure-treated wood has high resistance to rot and insects due to the infusion of a powerful preservative and will last longer underground than any other wood product.

Prepare your mailbox post for burial with the correct underground preservative. There was a time when this was a no-brainer. My father used to put good ol’ creosote on everything, except for my mother’s tulip bulbs. (Or did he?) It rivaled his use of Mobil red and blue paint! Anyway, it went without saying that the old timers expected the wood to rot, so they prepared for it with crosote… the only available solution.
Today, most wooden fence and mailbox posts are made from either pressure-treated wood or cedar. Somehow, in popular thought, cedar has been compared to pressure-treated wood for rot resistance. Nothing could be further from the truth.


I have replaced untreated cedar mailbox posts less than 5 years old, cedar lamp posts less than 3 years old that were totally rotten, full of ants and all sorts of other awful creepy wormy things. In my neck of the woods, a fine 6×6 cedar mailbox post costs well over $200.00 installed. Expensive ant food, if you ask me!
Pressure-treated mailbox posts do not rot under most circumstances. (I’ve never seen it happen in 30 years of installations.) They are more likely to die from snow plow or garbage truck injuries! However, I have heard rumors that, under some unusual conditions of extreme moisture, they may rot after many years. So if you have some underground rated preservative around, slap some on that pressure treated post. Otherwise I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it!

What type of preservative should be used underground on my post?

Good old creosote, a staple wood preservative for generations of do-it-yourselfers, has become extinct… joining the dodo bird, 30¢ cigarettes and the $1.00 gallon of gas! However, there are still quality underground preservatives available. A brand I have used for decades is Termin-8 by Jasco. Its dark-green color means you won’t mistake it for a wimpy deck sealer! Termin-8 is oil-based and can be painted after 2-7 days when thoroughly dry.
Another, somewhat newer product that works quite well is Woodlife Creocoat from Wolman. Unlike Termin-8, Woodlife is water-based and is not designed to be overcoated.

Since the end of your post is most vulnerable to water damage, pour some of the preservative in a small pail and set the post into it to soak as long as you can… overnight if possible. Cut off a few inches from the end of the post immediately before to soaking it for the best results. Of course, you should also coat the rest of the post right up to ground level for the best results.

DO NOT install a mailbox post in cement unless absolutely necessary!

Or a fence post, for that matter! Think about it. 160 pounds of rock-hard concrete mix, buried 18″ into the ground, in the only place the mailman can reach from his truck. Tough luck! So, using the secrets of the Pyramids, you manage to get this now useless clump of lime, gravel, and sand up to ground level. As you marvel at your improvisational skills, there is a lesson to be learned here and it doesn’t only apply to mailbox posts.

If you think that you may have to redo a job again sometime in the near future, design your repair so that the next time it will be easier… not harder! After all, do you really think a couple of hundred pounds of cement means as much to a moving vehicle (or the the carpenter ants) than it does to your poor overworked back? Hmmm?

NOTE: If you are installing one of those fancy ornamental iron posts, which generally don’t stand upright very well in soil despite what it says on the box, you can use cement… but just enough to stabilize the post, not enough to anchor the Queen Mary!

Digging the hole the easy way… but not too deep!

I was joking. There isn’t an easy way. But we’re not quitters, right? Buy or rent a post hole digger so you disturb the minimum amount of soil. The hole should be no more than 18-24″ deep. You do not have to bury the post down below the frost line! We’re talking mailbox post here, not a house’s foundation!

If you have particularly rocky soil, you may need a long mason’s bar, a rounded heavy steel bar from 4′ to 6′ long, flattened to a wedge-shape on one end. This can be used to pry out rocks and the flattened butt end can be used for tamping.On the graphic of the post hole digger (left), notice the black lines on the handles. They are improvised depth indicators… far better than dirtying up your tape measure! If you rent one and it’s not already marked, apply pieces of black electrical tape at your desired depth.

Add gravel, level the mailbox post and fill the hole in steps…

It’s recommended to put a 4-6 inches of gravel in the bottom of the hole to improve drainage and to keep water from pooling at the bottom of the post. My judgment is that it may not be a bad idea for cedar posts, but for pressure-treated wood it is optional. If you don’t have a bag of gravel handy (or prefer not to steal it from elsewhere in your yard), a bunch of small stones will do as a substitute.

To keep the mailbox post vertically level, I found a nifty little device that straps right onto the mailbox post. However, an ordinary level will do fine, too. Check the level every time you tamp down the dirt. You don’t want your mailbox to become another “leaning” tourist attraction! Don’t put the level on the top of the post… the top might not be square! Always check the level from the side.Some people screw or clamp boards to the post to hold it upright. You can also wedge a few rocks around the post in the hole for temporary support. Or just hold the new post fairly level as you begin filling, making minor corrections as you fill. (A helper wouldn’t hurt, either, if one is available to share the joy!) Filling the hole around the post should be done in steps, packing or “tamping” down the soil as you fill around the post, 6-12″ at a time. If you wait until the hole is full before packing, the post may always be loose. You can use most anything that will fit into the hole to pack the soil… a shovel handle, the but end of your masons bar, 2×4, etc. Keep checking that level!!

Installing your mail box on the post Dutch Touch contracting REO

Installing your mail box on the post

If you wish to mount your box directly atop the pole or onto the top of an extended arm, you will use method (1). If you want to hang the box beneath the extended arm, use method (2).

Whichever way you choose, don’t ever nail the mailbox to it’s support… use galvanized or stainless-steel screws. If your mailbox does not outlive your post, you want it to be easy to remove. I have found galvanized square-drive decking screws to be a great choice.

(1) Mount a board directly on the mailbox post or on the arm extending from the post

If you don’t have a board for the post, you must cut a piece of ¾” plywood or pine that will fit into the base of the mailbox. It should be a tight fit widthwise so the box doesn’t bend when you screw it on, and short enough in length so the box door doesn’t hit the board when the door opens. Position the board as you like it on the post or arm and secure it with at least 4 wood screws. I personally use #8 or #10 galvanized square drive screws, 2½” -3″ long. If you are using a post with an arm, you may want to let the board overhang the end of arm for clearance of the door.

(2) Hanging the mailbox under an arm extending from the post

You can purchase a special set of bolts designed for hanging a mailbox at most hardware or home stores. The hardware consists of an eye bolt and an screw eye, interlocked and ready to use. The eye bolt is screwed into the underside of the post arm and the bolt is attached to the top of the mailbox. It may or may not come with a rubber washer to seal the outside of the hole.

If your hardware store doesn’t carry these parts, you can either (1) use an eye bolt on the mailbox and a hook on the post arm, or (2) use an eye bolt and screw eye of the same size and bend either open to allow you to hook them together… then bend them closed. For each eye bolt, you should get two nuts, one for inside and one for outside the box, and a small rubber washer (a faucet washer will do) slightly larger than the nut, for the outside to prevent leaks.

Determine the location of the eye bolts on the box first. Some mailboxes have indentations or raised areas to indicate the suggested location for the eyebolts. Locate and drill the holes in the mailbox. Hold the box up under the arm in the position you want it, and use a pencil to transfer the location of the front-most hole you just made to the underside of the arm, being sure to center it along the width. Measure between the holes on the mailbox, and use this measurement to locate the second hole on the arm. Predrill both holes and install the screw eyes.

Put one nut on each eye bolt, and then push on the rubber washers. Bore out the centers of the washers with a drill if they are too tight for the bolts. Then put the eye bolts through the holes in the mailbox and secure them with the remaining nuts, tightening securely.

NOTE: You can use a dab of caulk instead of a rubber washer. The washer, however, will probably last longer.

mailbox numbers and other interesting facts Dutch Touch Contracting REO

Last but not least… mailbox numbers and other interesting facts

•The post office requires your street address number on the side of the box or post facing your approaching mailman. This is required even if you have your number on your home.

• If your box location is on another street (for example, if your home is on a corner), regulations require that both the house number and street name be on the box or post.

• You do not have to put your name on the mailbox unless you want to.

• Placing offensive graphics, caricatures or effigies intended to ridicule or disparage an individual or group of people is prohibited. People, huh. I guess the cats and cows haven’t started complaining yet!

• Advertising on mailboxes is also prohibited.

Again, this regulation can be waived by your local postmaster for the appropriate consideration. (Only kidding!) So it goes.

For more information, please visit our website:

Bank Owned (REO) Contracting and Cleaning Tips

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Bank Owned (REO) Contracting and Cleaning Tips

REO foreclosed homes are left vacant with items still inside them. Previous owners who became delinquent and behind in their mortgage payments end up leaving all their personal belongings behind. Business is booming for those who see an opportunity to be the one cleaning out these foreclosures.  

How to get started in debris cleanup.

Some have suggested that all that one needs to get started is to advertise on the free classified sites letting others know of your services. Charge an hourly rate or a flat rate. It has also been mentioned that you will need to include the cost of the dumpster rental as well as any man power you will need to help you with moving items out and painting if necessary. Print up flyers and contact realtors who sell REO properties, so that you can get repeat referrals. The types of businesses that will need your services are Homeowners, Property Managers, Realtors, REO Agents, Property Investors, Landlords, Tenants, Bank Foreclosures. So look at ways to contact them directly with your price. 
How much should you charge to clean up a trashed out foreclosure home?

How much should you charge to clean up a trashed out foreclosure home?First you should do some research and find out what the going rates are in your area, be competitive and try to get as many clients as possible and then as they say the snowball will start rolling and getting bigger from their. Real Estate investors will have a list of foreclosed homes that need to be cleaned contact them and let them know you can help them out, find out how much they were quoted in the past. Most pricing is based on cubic yards and weight ot the junk. The going rate is $500 or more depending on what is needed to be done. It can range upwards of $1000 dollars. 

How to get started in debris cleanup.

Starting a cleaning business can help people who do not have the time or the resources to do it themselves. REO’s are not the only places to clean up, people who are moving or those who has a family member die or those who are going through divorce may not want to go through all the stuff in the house and would rather someone come and remove the debris or junk.

Garages are another place people store many items that just ends up collecting dust. Collectibles, antiques and valuables can be saved and put into storage, but most other items will have to go to the dump. Declutter and organization services can be offered as well.

Some of the more popular services include: clean-out service. Included is the clean-up of all interior and exterior trash and debris, carting and disposal of all unwanted items. Professional overall cleaning, including sweeping, countertop and window cleaning.

For more information, please visit our website:

Contracting and REO Renovation Tips 101

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Contracting and REO Renovation Tips 101

REO stands for real estate owned, and it refers to homes that have been foreclosed by mortgage lenders and are now owned by the financial institutions that foreclosed. Foreclosed homes may also be listed as “bank owned.”

REO homes are typically priced lower than prevailing market price, and sellers may offer incentives including favorable mortgage terms for financing the purchase of an REO home.

First time buyers REO properties provide first time home buyers an opportunity to buy a home and get an affordable mortgage. They may also qualify for state, county, and local home buyer funding and assistance.

Real Estate Investment In spite of today’s market fluctuations, licensed contractors and investors can buy a damaged REO property for pennies on the dollar, rehab it, and rent of sell it at a profit. “Flipping” is not recommended unless you’re experienced and knowledgeable about home renovation and local real estate markets.

REO bad news Dutch Touch Contracting Services 101

REO Bad News Foreclosed homes can be damaged by former owners, squatters, and vandals. They may be little more than shells, and can attract crime and vermin. Don’t buy an REO property you haven’t inspected.

Neighborhood BlightForeclosed homes may sit vacant and damaged for months. This invites further damage and can result in citations by city building departments and health agencies. Be prepared to start work on a damaged REO as soon as you buy it.

Negotiate with SellerBanks and mortgage companies are overloaded with REO homes. Feel free to negotiate with sellers; you may be pleasantly surprised.

Getting a MortgageMany lenders selling REO properties can also provide a purchase money mortgage. Ask about this when considering an REO property; you may receive very good terms on a fixed rate mortgage.

Bank Owned (REO) Buying Tips

Properties that have been taken back by the bank through the foreclosure process are known as “real estate owned” or REO. Buying these bank owned homes can result in some real cost savings, however, there are some different procedures and contractual terms that a buyer should understand. It is very important that a buyer work with a seasoned and experienced professional that understands the REO buying process.

Finding bank owned properties is best done through the multiple listing service (MLS). Banks generally list their properties with real estate brokers just like most Sellers. The bank wants to expose the property to as many potential buyers as possible, and this is best done through the MLS. Locating and making an offer on a property before it is listed is very difficult, and most banks will not entertain pre-list offers.


It is absolutely imperative that the buyer be pre-approved for a loan BEFORE, viewing available bank owned properties. Banks take into consideration when evaluating offers: the amount of any down payment, the type of loan and the borrowing strength of the buyer. Some banks may consider a lower purchase price if the buyer will be obtaining a loan through the same bank that currently owns the property. This is especially important when there are multiple buyers making offers on the same property. It is also important to be pre-approved so that as a buyer you’re only evaluating and considering homes that you could actually afford to purchase.

Making an offer on a REO begins with the same contract that a buyer would use when placing an offer on a regular house. In addition to the California Association of Realtors (CAR) Residential Purchase Agreement (RPA), almost every bank has their own set of addendums. Some banks prefer to have the terms all completed on their own forms when making the initial offer, while others prefer to evaluate the offer on the RPA only, and then provide the counter-offer terms on their addendum. Each bank is different on these procedures. Knowing how an individual bank works, and then proceeding along their desired system will increase the likelihood of your offers acceptance. Banks generally take longer to accept an offer than a normal seller. This is especially true when the home is priced low for the area and there are multiple offers. Buyers need to be patient, and understand that when there are numerous people bidding on the same house, that only one will “win”. Having the “Best” offer is not always the highest price. Knowing what the risks are to a bank is very important in a multi-offer property.


When your offer is accepted, the clock for your Due Diligence period starts ticking. Due Diligence is that period of time that the Buyer has to confirm that this is in fact the property he wants to buy. The banks enforce the timeframes very strictly, and most will only extend the time limits for a fee. The Buyer will have between 5 days and 21 days to complete all of the property inspections, review disclosure reports and confirm that their financing is in place. These dates are usually shorter than the time frames contained in the standard RPA. Banks have different time frames that they follow, so it is very important to understand them and make sure you complete each task on time. Working with a Realtor that knows the time limits is crucial to a successful closing. Most banks do NOT want to fix or repair the properties before they are sold. Be sure that the contracts are very clear about who will be paying for Termite inspection and repairs, or who will handle any of the Buyer’s Lender required repairs.


One of the biggest differences between a traditional sale and a REO purchase deals with the deposit. The Earnest Money Deposit is the initial money that is placed into escrow by the Buyer. It is intended to show that the Buyer is “serious” about buying the property. Under the standard RPA, the deposit is usually returned to the Buyer if the home does not close because of a financing or other problem that causes the Buyer to change their mind about closing on the home. When buying a bank owned home, the bank’ contract usually allows the bank to keep the deposit once the timeframes for the various contingencies pass per the contract addendum. It is absolutely critical for a Buyer to understand the timeframes, and for them to comply with the dates listed in the bank’s contract. The amount of deposit may also have an impact on the banks evaluation of multiple offers on the same house.


Escrow companies that are hired by larger banks with a lot of inventory are usually paid a lower than market fee. This has resulted in a low level of service from these escrows. Patience is a must when going through a REO purchase. Be ready to move very quickly when the bank asks you as the Buyer for paperwork or information. Also be prepared for the bank as the seller to take a long time with no real reason for them to get back to you with information or signatures. Remember that the bank is dealing in some cases with thousands of properties in the system, so responses from them can take some time. Be patient.


Once you close escrow, you get to move into your new house. Do not discuss in detail the GREAT deal you received with your new neighbors. Be courteous and realize that your “Great Deal” probably just lowered the value of your neighbor’s home. Make exterior repairs like front lawn and weed abatement as quick as you can after you move in. Be a good neighbor, and enjoy your HOME!

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