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Pillar To Post Newsletter Vol. 2020 No. 3

COVID-19 Update

During the COVID-19 health emergency, Pillar To Post remains open wherever possible. Our inspectors are taking precautions to help protect the health of agents, customers and their families as well as themselves. Please note that where allowed, we are able to do our home inspections without agents or clients present if they can’t or prefer not to attend. We are here for you!

Escape To Your Backyard


Escape To Your Backyard

Staying home doesn’t necessarily mean forgoing outdoor activity. Why not turn your backyard, patio or balcony into a space you can really enjoy? Here are some ideas to get you started.

Children in a field of flowers
  • Create an inviting spot to have lunch or dinner. Chairs and a table that can be moved easily let you enjoy your feast in or out of the sun.
  • A patio umbrella not only provides shade, it brings a welcome punch of color to your space. To prevent fading and stains, choose a fabric made specifically for outdoor use. With a huge variety of colors and patterns available you’ll have fun deciding!
  • Try container gardening. Kids will have fun growing cherry tomatoes, snap peas and herbs like chocolate mint or lemon thyme.
  • Flowering plants grown in eye-catching containers soften the space and add visual interest all season long.
  • Add battery-powered string lights for some evening sparkle.



Spotlight on Skylights

There’s something special about natural light from above. Skylights bring natural light where it would be difficult or impossible to add a window. Some examples:

  • Natural illumination of a stairway
  • Where privacy is required, such as a bathroom
  • Small lots where windows would look directly onto a neighboring home
  • Where an attic has been renovated into a living area

Ventilation – Openable skylights provide natural ventilation. Some fixed skylights also have a venting option. Light Shaft – This type of skylight is used where there is an attic above the space you want to illuminate. The simplest type of light shaft extends straight down from the skylight in the roof. A flared design will let more light in but are a bit more complicated to install. Heat – In warm climates, skylights will add considerable heat to a home especially if they face south or west. But choosing the correct skylight for your climate helps. Your installer should be familiar with the different options and heat ratings available. A low tech solution is a shade for the skylight. Leaks – The difference between a skylight that leaks and one that doesn’t is a good installer! They will know how to choose a quality skylight and how to install it properly so it sheds water. It’s important to know that moisture or stains on the inside could be a leak or could just be condensation. Consult with a professional installer to help determine the best type of skylight for your situation. Then let the sunshine in!

Curb appeal


Spring Curb Appeal

Try these tips to help keep your place looking its best this season and beyond!

  1. Keep shrubs and trees trimmed, removing any damaged or dead branches.
  2. Use seasonal accents such as flowering plants, brightly colored planting containers and a fresh doormat to create a welcoming entry for your family.
  3. Paint the front door in a bold accent color for maximum impact.
  4. Update the front door hardware and house numbers to a new style that suits your home.
  5. Make sure window and door trim is in good shape and give it a new coat of paint if needed.
  6. Concrete steps and walkways can be stained to coordinate with your home’s color scheme.
  7. Clean the windows so you can’t miss the sparkle from the street. It really makes a big difference!
Potted flowers

Modern backyard deck with pool
Woman painting the deck


All Hands On Deck!

Adding a deck to expand your indoor-outdoor living space? Before you build, it’s important to choose the right decking material for your situation and budget. Pressure Treated Wood This common decking material can last 20 years or more if properly maintained. Typically, pressure treated wood for the deck structure is rougher and less expensive than the higher-quality boards used for the decking surface. These boards look better both right after construction and in the long term. Wood Cedar is a premium decking material with a rich look and feel. It deteriorates slowly even if left untreated. Untreated cedar will naturally turn silvery gray in a short amount of time, so if you that’s not the look you’re after you’ll need to stain it soon after construction. In the Western U.S. redwood is a popular, long-lasting decking option that can weather naturally, but unlike cedar the original color can be restored. Composites Composite decking is more expensive than most hardwoods but requires little to no maintenance beyond cleaning. Popular brands include Trex, AZEC and TruOrganics and typically offer a 25-year warranty. Composite decking is usually very heavy and normally requires a strong support structure. It can also get very hot underfoot, especially darker colors. Most municipalities require a permit to build a deck to help ensure it’s safely designed and built. Be sure to check on local requirement before proceeding. Then sit back, relax and enjoy your new space! Back yard deck with tables and chairs Discover the Pillar To Post Difference. Schedule your next home inspection today!

Pillar To Post Newsletter Vol. 20 No. 2



Create An Indoor Oasis

Indoor plants are having a renaissance, but there’s no looking back to dusty old macramé hangers from the 1970s. With so many different textures, shapes and colors—yes, even many shades of green!—you’re bound to find specimens to love. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Before you buy the first beauty that catches your eye, make sure you can provide it with the proper conditions. For example, a plant that requires bright light won’t thrive in a dark hallway or a north-facing room.
  • Likewise, some plants prefer low light conditions, and would be unhappy in the sunniest spot in your kitchen.
  • Be diligent about watering, but don’t overdo it. For many plants, too much water is worse than letting it go dry between waterings. Check to see what each plant needs.
  • Experiment with combinations of textures and tones to create additional visual interest.
  • A large, spectacular plant can become a focal point in the right spot.
  • Easy-care succulents are on trend and add textural interest on a table or counter.

Start by shopping at a reputable nursery to see plants up close. And don’t be surprised if you end up building quite the collection.



Your Spring Checklist

Keeping your home in good shape helps protect your investment. Here are our top tips to get your home ready for spring!

  • Check walkways and patios for cracks and any loose bricks or pavers, and have them repaired.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts of debris.
  • Walk around your property and check for damaged tree limbs and branches. Have a qualified professional address any big problems.
  • Inspect wood, stucco and other types of siding and have any damaged areas repaired and repainted for lasting protection.
  • If you removed window screens for the winter, clean them well before reinstalling.

Spring is almost here, at least on the calendar. Enjoy!



Protect Your Family From Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is caused by fuel-burning sources such as furnaces, water heaters, stoves generators, and even fireplaces, and can result in illness or death. Take these smart precautions to help prevent a tragedy in your home:

  • Install CO detectors and learn what to do if an alarm activates. This is the most important step you can take!
  • Don’t use your gas stove or oven to heat the home, even temporarily.
  • Never use camp stoves or charcoal grills indoors.
  • Generators must only be used outdoors and kept at least 20 feet away from windows, doors and vents. Do not use a generator in a garage.
  • Make sure furnaces, water heaters, gas dryers, stoves and ovens are properly vented to the outside.
  • Never start a vehicle in a closed garage.
  • Have the chimney swept and inspected annually by a certified professional.

Thousands of people are accidentally poisoned each year by carbon monoxide, and hundreds die. Be proactive and lower the risk to yourself and your loved ones.



Easy Updates For Every Room

Try these ideas to refresh your spaces without a full-on makeover.

LIVING ROOM – Swap out area rugs to add a new punch of color or texture. Replace lampshades with updated shapes and materials for an instant upgrade.

BEDROOMS – Change out bed covers for a new palette or pattern. Think crisp stripes for summer and cozy heathers for the colder months. Upgrade the dresser with new knobs or pulls.

BATHROOMS – A new faucet can update the look of your bathroom instantly. Paint a powder room in a color you’ve always wanted to try—it’s a fun way to experiment without making a big commitment.

KITCHEN – Get the clutter off the counters and corral cooking utensils in a pretty holder by the stove. If your budget allows, replacing cabinet and drawer hardware will upgrade the look and feel of your kitchen.

DINING AREA – Consider painting or re-covering dining chairs to completely change their look. Table linens can be swapped out seasonally and stored without taking up too much space.

PANTRY – If you’re one of the lucky ones with a pantry, take everything out, discard stale or expired products, and reorganize the space to suit your needs. Use bins and baskets keep things organized and easy to reach.



Q & A: Wood Flooring

Wood flooring has almost universal appeal, and no wonder. It’s attractive, durable, and feels nice underfoot. Here we answer frequently asked questions about wood and wood-look flooring.

What’s the difference between solid hardwood and engineered hardwood?

Basically, solid hardwood is exactly what it sounds like: Pieces of solid wood, generally ¾” thick, and available in a wide range of species, widths, and colors. Solid hardwood can be sanded and refinished many times and will last for decades.

engineered hardwood

Engineered hardwood is also 100% wood, but consists of a veneer of real hardwood fused on top of high-grade plywood. It looks like real wood because it is! It’s easier to install than solid hardwood and can be used in spaces more prone to moisture than solid hardwood. Some engineered hardwood floors can be sanded once or twice, but this is best left to professionals to prevent permanent damage to the veneer.

How about wood laminate lookalikes?

Laminates have a particle board base below a printed image of wood. On top is a layer of thin, clear plastic material to protect the image. Quality varies widely — premium laminate flooring has a far less noticeable repeat pattern of the wood image, creating a better look. They are snapped or glued together to install.

While laminate floors are economical, easy to clean and maintain, they can’t be sanded or refinished.

What’s the best choice for kitchens and baths?

It depends! Engineered hardwood is considered a good option for areas prone to some moisture because the base material is less likely to warp or swell like hardwood or laminate. Solid hardwood has become very popular in kitchens to keep visual continuity with the rest of the home, but it’s important to clean up spills promptly and watch for plumbing leaks.

There are many factors that affect what type of wood flooring to choose. Research your options carefully before making your next flooring investment, and you’ll enjoy your new look for years to come.

Experience the Pillar To Post difference. Schedule your next home inspection today!

Pillar To Post Newsletter Vol. 20 No. 1

seasonal sense


Color Your World

Are your rooms looking blah? Tired of the same old, same old? Sounds like you might need some fresh paint to brighten things up! Winter is a great time for interior painting. Whether you hire a professional or make this a DIY project, these tips will help you get results you’ll love.

  1. Test sample colors in the room. The best way is to paint sample swatches onto the walls or on poster board. You’ll see how the appearance will shift as the light changes throughout the day and when room lighting is turned on at night. Sample cans cost only a few dollars each and are well worth the small investment.
  2. Choose paints labeled low- or no-VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) to benefit indoor air quality. These paints also have minimal to no wet paint odor.
  3. Sheen or shine? Higher gloss paints are easy to wipe clean and are good for trim, cabinets, doors and other areas that handle heavy traffic. Choose a lower sheen such as eggshell or satin for a softer look in bedrooms, living rooms and dining rooms.
  4. Don’t forget the ceiling. A fresh coat of paint on a dingy ceiling can make the room look instantly fresher and cleaner.

Start with one room at a time, or make it a longer-term project and tackle several. Either way, you’ll enjoy your new look sooner if you start right now!

safe at home


Radon: What You Need To Know

Colorless and odorless, radon gas seeps into homes from underground. Elevated levels of radon can be dangerous to your family’s health. Here are the facts:

  • Radon is the #2 cause of lung cancer after smoking.
  • Radon can cause cancers in pets, too.
  • An estimated 1 in 15 homes in the US and Canada has an elevated level of radon.
  • Any type of home can have a radon problem – old or new, drafty or snug, with or without a basement.

The only way to know if a home has excessive levels of radon is by testing. Your Pillar To Post Home Inspector conducts the test with continuous monitoring technology, then reports on results and recommends steps to reduce excessive radon levels if found.

For peace of mind, schedule your radon inspection today.

home trends


Is A Curbless Shower On Your Wish List?

Sleek, streamlined, stylish. What’s not to like about a curbless shower? If you’re considering a bath remodel that includes a curbless shower, also known as a zero-threshold shower, here are some considerations to keep in mind as you plan:

Proper installation is key. If the shower pan slope is insufficient or it isn’t installed correctly, you will end up with water all over your bathroom floor. Hire a pro who has extensive experience with installing these showers.

Door or no door? Some homeowners skip the shower door to keep the space visually open. Besides helping to keep the water where it belongs, a door will also keep you warmer in the shower – something to think about for those cold winter mornings.

What kind of door is best? If you decide to go with a door or partition, clear glass will keep the streamlined look you love, while etched or frosted glass provides some privacy.

Allow enough space. Curbless showers need to be larger than typical showers so the water can be contained in the splash zone. You may need to expand the shower square footage to accommodate this.

Can I use the same tile everywhere? A curbless shower is a great opportunity for creative design with shower wall materials and floor tiles. It’s important that the shower floor material has enough traction to be safe in a wet environment, so be sure to choose appropriately in consultation with a pro.

A qualified professional will have the knowledge and experience to create a curbless shower you adore.


Are You In The Know? Take Our Quiz!

  1. True or False: Your home has asbestos! You should definitely have it removed ASAP.
  2. How is a pre-listing home inspection different from a buyer’s inspection?
    1. A pre-listing inspection takes less time.
    2. A pre-listing inspection doesn’t include photos.
    3. A buyer’s inspection costs more.
    4. None of the above.
  3. True or False:Water quality can be affected by fixtures and pipes within your home.
  4. Which of these issues is the one most commonly found in older homes?
    1. Serious foundation cracks
    2. Energy inefficiency
    3. Bad wiring
    4. No garage

home smarts


  1. False. Asbestos poses a health risk if the materials are crumbling or damaged. If asbestos-containing material is in good condition, it may be best to leave it alone. Consult a professional for advice.
  2. D. A Pillar To Post Home Inspection provides the same comprehensive evaluation and written report whether the home is about to go on the market, or if a prospective buyer requests an inspection.
  3. True! Even if the water delivered to the home is perfectly fine, conditions such as old galvanized pipes and lead solder can diminish water quality. Water quality testing will help determine if the water in your home is affected.
  4. B. Old windows, insufficient insulation and drafts are the main culprits affecting energy efficiency in older homes. Addressing these issues will help make the home more comfortable and will save energy, too.

tools you can use


Repairs And Upgrades: How Much?

Your clients will certainly ask about upgrades and recommended repairs when buying or selling a home. And their number one question will usually be “How much will that cost?”

With the latest edition of our Cost Guide you’ll have loads of information at your fingertips. It includes cost ranges for hundreds of systems and components, from roofing and flooring to water heaters and windows. It also provides guidelines for the life expectancy of systems and major appliances.

Ask your local Pillar To Post Home Inspector for complimentary copies or download it at pillartopost.com/costguide.

clean living


Keeping Inspiration Close At Hand

They go by various names: vision boards, mood boards, inspiration boards. No matter what you call it, creating one (or more!) is a great way to focus on goals, dreams, and improving your everyday life.

  • A vision board is a way of bringing together and organizing things that inspire you – photos, favorite quotes, drawings, colors, fashion, you name it.
  • The idea is that if you have a visual reference to your inspirations, you’re more likely to act on reaching your goal.
  • Whether you put items on a cork board or go online for templates, make sure it’s something you’ll see every day. Remember, out of sight, out of mind!
  • Keep your vision board focused on how you want to feel. It isn’t about making a wish list of things you want to buy or have (you can do that in other ways!).
  • Having more than one board could work well for you. For example, one board could focus on your career, another on fitness or other interests.
  • Above all, remember that this is about what YOU want.

There are many online resources available for getting started and learning how to use your vision board effectively, so do check around. Have fun, be inspired, and enjoy the journey!

Experience the Pillar To Post difference. Schedule your next home inspection today!

Pillar To Post Newsletter September 2019

Special Realtor Safety Issue!

Realtor ready to show a home


Inside This Special Issue

September is Realtor Safety Month. The safety of Realtors is paramount to all of us at Pillar To Post Home Inspectors, so this special issue of PostNotes is dedicated to actions and strategies brokers, agents and their teams can use to stay safe in their day-to-day business activities.

Additional resources:

Please visit these websites for additional safety information, tools and resources:



Realtor showing kitchen


Tips for Holding a Safe Open House

Safety during open houses is a concern for all real estate agents and their teams. Use these tips to stay safe:

  1. Always try to have at least one other person working with you at the open house.
  2. Check your cell phone’s signal strength on the premises before the open house. Program emergency numbers on speed dial.
  3. Upon entering a house for the first time, check all rooms and determine several “escape” routes. Make sure all deadbolt locks are unlocked to facilitate a faster escape.
  4. Make sure that if you were to escape by the back door, you could escape from the backyard. Yards with swimming pools or hot tubs often have high fences.
  5. Have all open house visitors sign in with their full name, address, phone number and e-mail.
  6. When showing the house, always walk behind the prospect. Direct them; don’t lead them. Say, for example, “The kitchen is on your left,” and gesture for them to go ahead of you.
  7. Avoid attics, basements, and getting trapped in small rooms.
  8. Notify someone in your office, a friend or a relative that you will be calling in every hour on the hour. And if you don’t call, they are to call you.
  9. Inform a neighbor that you will be showing the house and ask if he or she would keep an eye and ear open for anything out of the ordinary.
  10. Don’t assume that everyone has left at the end of an open house. Check all rooms and the backyard before locking the doors. Be prepared to defend yourself, if necessary.

Sources: Washington Real Estate Safety Council; City of Mesa, Arizona; Nevada County Board of REALTORS®; Georgia Real Estate Commission

Woman on phone


Office Safety Action Plan

Personal safety in the office is important to everyone. Here are some elements to include in your office safety action plan.

Initial meeting with clients

Hold the first in-person client meeting in the office rather than at properties, out of doors, or at home. It’s also a good idea to introduce them to a colleague on-site.

Client ID

All first-time clients must provide a driver’s license, state ID or other official photo ID. The office will retain a copy of the ID for security purposes. You can download a Client Profile Form at www.beverlycarterfoundation.org.

Distress code

Implement a verbal distress code—a secret word or phrase that can be casually worked into conversation if you feel threatened and the person you are with can overhear your conversation.

Buddy system

If you’re uncomfortable meeting with clients alone or hosting open houses alone request another agent or employee to accompany you.

Privacy first

Keep personal information private. Don’t discuss where you live, after-work or vacation plans in front of prospective clients, new colleagues or anyone with whom you’re not comfortable.

Limit access

Make sure all doors other than the main entrance are secured, and have a clear exit route from the front desk to the door.

Solo security

If you encounter a stranger while working late or alone, say something like “My supervisor will be right with you.” to give the impression you’re not there alone.

Be aware of surroundings

Get to recognize the staff of other nearby businesses and be aware of their schedules. This will benefit everyone.

Sources: NAR; Beverly Carter Foundation

Realtor shaking hands outside a home


Showing Empty Properties

When you are showing an empty property, take these simple steps to protect and empower yourself against attack or theft.

  • Be sure to use the lockbox property-key procedure that has been established to improve real estate agent safety so that keys don’t fall into the wrong hands.
  • Show properties before dark. If you must show a property after dark, alert an associate, turn on all lights as you go through, and don’t lower any shades or draw curtains or blinds.
  • Try and call the office once an hour to let people know where you are.
  • If you think it may be some time before a property sells (and you may, therefore, be showing it often), get acquainted with a few of the immediate neighbors. You will feel better knowing they know your vehicle, and they will feel better about the stranger (you) who frequently visits their neighborhood.
  • Prepare a scenario so that you can leave or encourage someone who makes you uncomfortable to leave. Examples: Your cell phone went off and you have to call your office; you left some important information in your car; another agent with buyers is on his way.
  • When showing a property, always leave the front door unlocked for a quick exit while you and the client are inside. As you enter each room, stand near the door.
  • Lock your purse in the car trunk before you arrive. Carry only non-valuable business items (except for your cell phone), and do not wear expensive jewelry or watches, or appear to be carrying large sums of money.
  • Park at the curb in front of the property rather than in the driveway. It is much easier to escape in your vehicle if you don’t have to back out of a driveway. And while parked in a driveway another vehicle could purposefully or accidentally trap you.

Sources: Louisiana REALTORS® Association; Washington Real Estate, Safety Council; City of Albuquerque, NM; Nevada County Association of REALTORS®; City of Mesa, AZ

Two people standing in a kitchen


Top 10 Tips for Personal Safety

  1. Touch base. Always let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll return. Arrange for your office to call you to check in.
  2. Don’t get lost. Always know the exact address of where you’re going. If you use a navigation app, pull over and stop in a safe place if you’ve made a wrong turn.
  3. Sense your surroundings. Is there questionable activity in the area of a property you’re showing? Is anyone loitering? Follow your instincts if you feel you should leave. Leave!
  4. Don’t go it alone. Have an associate or other colleague host open houses with you.
  5. Limit the view. If you’re working late, use window coverings so that you’re not visible to passersby or a potential attacker.
  6. Go on the defense. Learn some self-defense skills. Many health clubs, martial arts studios and community colleges offer basic classes.
  7. Choose flight over fight. Self defense is a good idea, but the primary goal in any threatening situation is to escape from immediate danger and call for help.
  8. Park for protection. Always park in a well-lit, visible location whether you’re parking at your office, an open house, or an empty property.
  9. Make calling for help easy. Program important numbers into your cell phone, including your office, roadside assistance and 911.
  10. Know who you’re dealing with. Ask for ID, take a photo of a client’s license plate. A criminal won’t be comfortable with this and may be thwarted.

Source: NAR Realtor Safety Resource Kit.

Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is pleased to provide this information for the safety and well being of Realtors. We hope you find this Special Issue useful for yourself and your team. Please stay safe.