Three Ways to Increase Property Values

Real estate investors live and die by their ability to add value. With no added value, there are no profits. This is true with any business, but what makes real estate such a great business and a great investment, is the number of ways you can add value and cash in on big profits. Here are three ways you can add value to your properties.

Upgrades and Repairs: OK, this is the obvious one and is the reason fix and flippers can make money. Some repairs add a lot more value than it costs to do. The more creative you are with the improvements, the more value you can add. For example, I have a client that adds square foot to every house he buys. He really likes the inner city properties because they are the hardest to add square footage. You either need to finish an unfinished basement, or add a second story. There is not typically sufficient land on the lot to add an addition by increasing the foot print of the property. This client does a lot of foundation finishes and "pop tops," but where he has made the most money is the basement that is only 5 or 6 feet deep. He will go in and dig out the basement to a full 8 or 9 foot height and then finish it. Something most investors would not think of, so he is able to get the deal most other investors pass on. I have also seen some investors find homes that do not really fit into a neighborhood and they make them fit. This could be limited bedrooms or bathrooms or funky floor plans. All of that can be changed. Obviously many cosmetic fixes like kitchens and bathrooms add a lot of value too. There is a lot more to it than this, but the idea is to buy a property at its true 'as is' value, (do not over pay), and then add value with the repairs and upgrades.

Owner Finance: I love this one because it is so easy to add value with very little to no work. You will need to wait to cash in on your profits, but it is a way to increase a sell price significantly. You can also use this strategy to defer tax gains over a few years, instead of taking a big hit all in one year. When you have a property for sale there are a limited number of buyers for the house, although right now that pool of buyers looks pretty big. If you can increase the pool of buyers, the demand for that one house increases, which forces the price to go up. Someone that can not qualify for an ordinary loan, limiting the supply of homes to choose from for that buyer, will likely buy your property. That also increases the price. You are adding value by giving them the chance to own a home that they normally would not be able to own. For this value, you should be compensated with a higher price and a decent interest rate on the profits, while you wait for the buyer to refinance and pay you off in full.

Shared Units: This is one area of ​​real estate that I have not dumbled in, but it is extremely inviting. The idea here is to sell your property to multiple buyers. You are seeing this a lot in resort towns. It is always a vacation or second home. Have you ever been to a time share presentation? They are pretty enticing are not they? About 13 years ago my ex wife and I were in Florida and got sucked into a time share sales pitch. We decided to go because they offered us free tickets to Disney. We sat there for about an hour and a half and then the hard sale came. They were very good at selling the "idea" of the time share and had my ex wife sold. She asked me to move forward with the deal, but I could not bring myself to do it. I told her that I was not comfortable with an emotional purchase and that we needed time to think it through. "Can I please have our Disney tickets?" was my response. As we rode back to the hotel that afternoon, I started looking about the math. Each unit can be sold to 52 different people because your purchase only gets you 1 week a year. Add that to the annual maintenance fees and the numbers are staggering. I know people who have flipped time shares successfully, because you can get them for free or near free on Craigslist, but it is not an investment I was interested in. With that said, I have considered doing a half or quarter share on a house in a ski town in Colorado. In this scenario, you are sharing a house with 1 to 3 other people so there is a ton more flexibility. You can use or rent out your weeks and you can be guaranteed valuable high demand weeks every year. It is a way to get a second home without the full expense. From the seller's point of view, it is a way to get more for the house. A a share of a house is going to cost the buyer more than of of the fair market value. I have seen business plans from investors that would buy a house and quarter share it out. The idea was that after they improved the property and sold of of the house to 3 different buyers, they would own the last free free and clear. Obviously this strategy will work best in areas where people want second homes. The downside is if there are any improvements or major issues. I can see there being disagreements, so this is something you would want, as a buyer, to work out with all the other owners in writing before you buy.

Five Ideas For Creating Fun Wooden Crafts Out of Dowel Rods

Five Ideas for the Simple Wood Dowel

When one looks at a wood dowel, often times they do not think much of it. A race of ideas and crafts do not often spring into most people's minds when they see a piece of wood. However, for a select few, these ideas do come and the knowledge of how to construct their ideas becomes easy to learn. These people are wood crafters. They are followers of the older ideas that one can create their own toys, decorations, and furniture. These people can create great things with a simple wood dowel and a little work.

When a wood crafter looks at a wood dowel, they see a million ideas. These people are wood working aficionados. They see wood not as just wood, but as a medium to bring their ideas into reality. These people are artists and workers at the same time. Here is a sample of those great ideas that a simple round, wood dowel has created.

1. Beaded curtains . These curtains have a fine thread running from the wood dowel to whatever length is desired. The fine thread is then used to thread beads, creating curtain of the beads, hence the beaded curtain. These beads can also be used to create designs in the curtain by matching colors to a certain pattern.

2. Flag posts . Home owners and some apartment renters tend to decorate their homes on the inside and out with flags. These can be everything from silly flags used for solely decoration to the patriotic, American flag. No matter what flags are hung, the thicker wood dowels are most often used because they have such great strength and beauty.

3. Toy wands . Every aspiring princess and wizard of the day has to have his or her own wand. To meet this need, the wooden dowel can be utilized and decorated to match the personalities of the children while still making the toy affordable. Ribbons, feathers, and glitter can all be added to the wand to add to the individuality of the piece.

4. Yoyo centers . Yoyos are one of America's all time favorite toys. The simple construction of the yoyo, paired with the ease of use and fun actions of the yoyo all make it a classic toy. The simple wood dowel makes the perfect center in which to construct the yoyo and to attach the string.

5. Shelf railings . Shelves are a necessary part of life. Some of these shelves hold precious ornaments and heirlooms. Many times these shelves have railroads on them. For those who are constructing their own shelves, the wood dowel can be used to make for interesting and unique railing on the shelf.

These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg of ideas for the wood dowel. Imagine what you may come up with using only a little creativity and a wood dowel. You just might have that perfect idea for that perfect piece of art. You also might have the beginnings of the next craze in ideas and wood crafting.

Guitar Chords – The Easy Way to Play Scale Tone Seventh Chords on Guitar

The scale tone seventh chords are created by stacking the major scale on top of itself in thirds (like a layer cake); for those of you who are familiar with modes another way of explaining this process would be …

Scale tone seventh chords created via modes:

Bottom notes = Ionian;
2nd note from bottom = Phrygian;
3rd note from bottom = Mixo-Lydian;
Top note = Locrian

Here's the process in C major:

Bottom note (Ionian Mode)

C – D – E – F – G – A – B – C

2nd note from bottom (Phrygian Mode)

E – F – G – A – B – C – D – E

3rd note from bottom (Mixo-Lydian Mode)

G – A – B – C – D – E – F – G

Top note (Locrian Mode)

B – C – D – E – F – G – A – B

Overlay these four modal scales and you have the diatonic scale tone seventh chords derived from the C major scale.

The chords created can be thought of as vertical structures named as follows:

1st structure: C Major 7th (C Maj7)

2nd structure: D minor 7th (Dm7)

3rd structure: E minor 7th (Em7)

4th structure: F Major 7th (FMaj7)

5th structure: G Dominant 7th (G7)

6th structure: A minor 7th (Am7)

7th structure: B minor 7th flat 5 also known as B half diminished (Bm7b5)

The eight harmonic structure is the same as the 1st.

The notes contained in each chord are:

C Major 7th (C Maj7) = C – E – G – B

D minor 7th (Dm7) = D – F – A – C

E minor 7th (Em7) = E – G – B – D

F Major 7th (FMaj7) = F – A – C – E

G Dominant 7th (G7) = G – B – D – F

A minor 7th (Am7) = A – C – E – G

B minor 7th flat 5 (Bm7b5) = B – D – F – A

The note sequence of each chord as shown above is called the root position of the chord and whilst this type of voicing is easy to play on the keyboard in most instances a significant finger stretch is required on the guitar.

To enable these scale chords to be more playable on the guitar it is necessary to invert them; in other words we want to alter the vertical sequence of the notes.

One of the ways we could do this is to take the second note from the bottom and place it on top of the chord ie, move the second note from the bottom up one octave.

Root position CMaj7

B (top note)

Inverted CMaj7

E (top note)

Inverting the chord does not change it's name: CMaj7 is still CMaj7.

Holy Cow – Smoked Ribs Recipe

Smoking ribs is an art form and the best rib smoker will tell you that there is not a better meal to be had. I've been smoking baby back ribs and pork loin ribs for eleven years and I have made plenty of mistakes. I've had to regrow my arm hair on three different occasions and have been introduced to the nice nurseries down at the emergency room twice. We will not discuss eyebrow hair.

I've used about every combination of ingredients in my rib rub and marinades only to realize that making the perfect smoked ribs is not so much dependent on the spices or marinades as it is on the method with which you smoke the ribs.

Having said that, I realized that submitting a specific recipe for smoked ribs is not necessarily what you need. Although I have submitted some recipes, I now want to just discuss how to smoke ribs instead of focusing solely on ingredients. Many different ingredients for rubs do well and it really just depends on your tastes. Some like their smoked rib quite spicy while others prefer a sweet or citrus taste. So, I will leave the experiment to you with regard to the seasonings; for now let's just talk about the how-to smoke ribs part.

One of the main keys to quality smoked baby back ribs or St. Paul. Louis smoked ribs is in the cooking method. Start by making sure that you have good quality wood to smoke your spare ribs with. This means untreated (no chemical treatments such as stains or pretreated, duh!) Wood. Look for wood pieces that do not have rotting bark, have not been burned before, do not have insects in them. Nice, clean pieces, regardless of size, work the best. Not too green either. Many rib smokers prefer to soak the wood in water or spiced water prior to using.

If you do not already have a smoker, please consider getting one. They can double as a charcoal grill so you will get plenty of usage out of it. For now, let's assume you have one.

Build your fire in the lower smoking section of the smoker. I start out with a normal charcoal fire before wasting wood on it. After the fire is ready, place your racks of babyback or spare ribs in the meat compartment of the! smoker. Make sure that the meat is as far away from the fire and heat as possible. If you smoke does not have a divider or some sort of heat diffuser between the fire area and the meat area then try to make one. You can use bricks or foil or just large rocks. The point here is to allow the smoke to get to the meat without allowing so much heat. We do not want to thoroughly cook the meat in this part of the process.

Shut your air valves (my wife has told me this on occasion. She is so nice to offer me smoking tips now and then), leaving only enough air flow to keep the fire at a low smolder. Rotate the ribs every couple of hours from rack to rack and turn them as well. Add wood as necessary to keep the fire alive. A note here about smoking meat and airflow: you should not shut the exhaust vent or smokestack part of your wood smoker or grill because this is the part of the smoker that allows the toxic part (carbon dioxide aka CO2) of the air to escape. Many of us are tempted to keep that smokestack valve closed thinking that it will force more smoke into the meat. While all meat is smoked with the product of the fire, you should allow the airflow to escape normally. You can counter the surge in the smoking fire from opening the exhaust lid by closing the air intake valve a bit more. Others have asked me about keeping a constant and consistent flow of air and how it can best be done. Well, the short answer is: when it comes to smoking meats, it can not be done. The fire is naturally going to get hotter and larger when you feed if more wood. And unless you have one of those giant meat smoking rigs that allows you to add in wood only once or twice, you're going to see some ups and downs in the airflow and smoke. The entire reason that more fuel is added to the fire is because the fire or smoke is becoming low; my only advice is to counter the high intense fire by closing the intake valve more and the as the wood burns down you can open the valve a bit more to allow more airflow when smoking. Smoked ribs will taste great even if your airflow and smoke exposure times are not perfectly consistent. The one thing that you do not want to do when smoking ribs is to let one fire completely die out and for the baby back ribs or spare ribs to cool down, only to be heated up again when you restart the fire source. You do not have to keep it consistent, but keep the fire going.

After about 3 to 5 hours of smoking, bringing ribs inside to cool. Double wrap smoked ribs with a quality foil. Seal them good. Wrap each slab individually. Refrigerate overnight or for several hours. The ribs should not be cooked at this point, but they should have about a quarter of an inch of smoke penetration on all sides. I have not disclosed what the experts know about smoking ribs yet, but I will.

These are not quite perfect yet, so check our website link below as we've got some great tips on how to finish these smoked ribs off so that they are perfectly smoked but still still tender as can be. Remember, we all like our smoked ribs to be tender, but not so tender that you can not pick them up. The old phrase 'fall off the bone tender' should be forgotten because nobody likes that much tenderness.

Plasma Arc Welding Vs Plasma Transferred Wire Arc Welding

Engine remanufacturing is a precise science involving a plethora of engineering variables. Technology has evolved as engines have become more advanced. In recent years fuel reduction efficiency and emissions control have changed the way diesel engines have been designed and thusly remanufactured. In many cases, older once less fuel efficient models, are now being upgraded to better operating functionality. Oftentimes the engine is more powerful than day it originally left the factory 20 years before.

Ford Motor Company recently implemented a state of the art remanufacturing technique aimed at giving a new lease of life to engines that otherwise would have been scrapped for cost. Traditionally when automotive engines fail they are simply removed from the frame and replaced because remanufacturing techniques can be cost prohibitive to the consumer in relation to simply replacing the engine. A crack in the engine block or cylinder head usually meant one of two repairs: cold plug and stitch welding or using an expensive and time consuming process called hot welding where the entire block is heated up to 1400 degrees Fahrenheit, doing the weld in the oven and then letting the entire block cool down evenly in a sand pit for 3-5 days. Hot welding is more effective than cold stitch welding as the entire metal surface is structurally exposed to the heat thus not prone to weakness around the repaired crack.

Ford’s new adopted process is called Plasma Transferred Wire Arc coating technology. Different than traditional plasma arc welding processes, the new technology applies a thermal spray on the inside of a cracked or distressed engine block which molecularly bonds to divots in the metal structure. The surface of the block or cylinder head is honed properly to correct OEM specifications within.001 of an inch.

How Plasma Transferred Wire Arc Welding Works

Typically, remanufacturing a block requires iron-cast parts, custom welding and an intricate machining processes. Plasma Transferred Wire Arc technology works by using a traditional coating wire which is exposed at high pressure from atomizing gas mixed with plasma gas surrounded by a cathode. The cathode heats up electronically via the arc of the wire and the combination of both gasses are expelled via a

nozzle and released by a particle jet stream evenly over the engine block surface.

Plasma Transferred Wire Arc (PTWA) differs from traditional plasma arc welding techniques which are known as Wire Arc Spray Welding (WASW). PTWA relies on just the one wire for the metallic substance (feedstock) where as WASW relies on two metal wires which are independently fed into the spray gun. The charged wires create an arc and the heat of the two wires are melted to form molten material which is air fed by a jet to fill the weld. With PTWA welding the molten particles are then instantly flattened due to their high kinetic energy, then solidify upon contact to form crystalline and amorphus phases. With PTWA technology the plasma gas usually contains a higher amount of nickel which produces a gel like substance that bonds tight with cast iron or aluminum. It is possible to produce multi-layer coatings with PTWA welding. Using a different substrate in the feedstock can produce a base layer of particles that are primed for a secondary “sealer” layer of particulate matter that bonds on top of the first weld. This secondary coating makes for a highly wear-resistant coating. PTWA is typically used in engine components such as blocks, connecting rods, cylinder heads or bushings. With Transferred Wire Arc Welding either wire metal alloys can be used in the feedstock or a powdered form of a metal alloy. The most common powdered alloy to use is Cobalt #6 with a supplement of Nickel for better bonding strength at the substrate. In recent years companies have chosen to opt more for powered feedstock as it is at times 50% cheaper than traditional wire alloys.

The plasma generator or gun head consists of a tungsten cathode, an air-cooled pilot nozzle made of copper, an electricity conductive consumable wire which is the know as the anode. The head is mounted on a rotating spindle, which rotates up to 600 rpm. The wire is fed perpendicularly to the center orfice of the nozzle. The plasma gas is introduced through tangenital boreholes situated in the cathode holder to ensure a vortex is created. The entire process from creation of the arc to the delivery of the weld into the substrate happens all within .00050 seconds.

Plasma Transferred Wire Arc Weld Vs. Traditional Plasma Arc Welding

The advantages of Plasma Transferred Wire Arc welding versus traditional plasma arc welding are as follows:

Plasma Transferred Wire Arc welding is a high automated process and can be reproduced and replicated in large scale production and manufacturing facilities. Software can scan and automatically repair cracks or weak areas in the cast iron or aluminum. Plasma Transfer Wire Arc welding is simply a more precise method of welding over plasma arc welding processes. PTWA welding allows for detailed feeding of the metallic powder to the feedstocks. This allows for less waste and as a result a substantial amount of metallic feedstock quantity is saved for further use. One of the biggest advantages of Plasma Transferred Wire Arc welding is the precise control over important welding parameters. With PTWA amperage, voltage, power feedstock rates, gas flow rates and heat input can be controlled with a high degree of replication and consistency from unit to unit in a manufacturing facility. By controlling the heat input the welding operation can guarantee weld dilutions can be controlled roughly 7% in the vast majority of instances.

In addition to cost savings PTWA simply produces a better weld than traditional welding or even traditional plasma arc welding. Plasma transferred Wire Arc welding creates deposits of a particular alloy that are harder and more resistant to corrosion than alloys used in Gas Tungsten Arc Welding or Oxy-Fuel Welding. With Plasma Transferred Wire Arc Welding, deposits made into the substrate are categorized as having very low levels of oxides, inclusions and discontinuities. PTWA welds are very smooth overall due to the fact that the weld bonds on a molecular level to that of only the substrate and not the cast iron surface.

This significantly reduces the amount of honing needed post weld. Lastly, the biggest advantage of Plasma Transferred Wire Arc welding over plasma arc welding is the flexibility it offers to weld very precise cracks. The limits can be attuned to provide plasma deposits from 1.0 mm to 2.6 mm or higher as needed. With Plasma Transferred Wire Arc welding these minute welds can be precisely deposited in a single pass given the torch strength and powder used.

How Plasma Arc Welding Works

All plasma arc welding’s advantages comes from the energy produced from the plasma jet. The thermal energy output of the plasma jet is interdependent on the electrical input produced by the cathode. A normal temperature from Plasma Transferred Wire Arc welding can be upwards of 14,500 °F – 45,000 °F versus a typical electrical welding arc temperature of roughly 11000 °F. It is a common misconception that plasma arc welding varies from traditional electric welding however all welding contains partially ionized plasmas; the difference between the two is that during plasma arc welding there is one constricted volume arc of plasma.

During Plasma Transferred Wire Arc welding, the plasma arc is created when the negatively charged electrode comes into contact with a positively charged piece of metal. In more simplistic terms the arc is transferred from the cathode to the piece of metal that is being worked on. The in transit arc contains high plasma jet velocity and high density.

The velocity and speed of the arc makes traditional plasma arc welding perfect for cutting and melting metal materials where an oxyacetylene torch fails. The velocity is created by interrupting the circuit with a restrictive resistor which only allows a current flow of about 60 amps. This disruption of the circuit creates the transferred arc between the nozzle of the spray gun and the electrode and the preliminary arc is established between the electrode and nozzle. Once the preliminary arc touches the surface of the metal that is being welded the current flows between the electrode and metal surface thus igniting the transferred arc which is mostly a flammable powder. The final stage of ignition happens when the preliminary arc initiating unit becomes disengaged from the metal being welded. The preliminary arc becomes extinguished once the transferred arc has engaged between the electrode and the metal job site. The most common metals that can be welded using Plasma Transferred Wire Arc welding are Aluminum, Copper, Copper Nickel, Inconel, Monel, Nickel, Precious Metal Groupings, Low Carbon Steel, Low Allow Steel, Medium and High Carbon, Stainless Steel, Alloy Steel, Titanium and Tungsten. The metals that are not recommended for Plasma Transferred Wire Arc welding include Bronze, Cast, Malleable, Nodular, Wrought Iron, Lead and Magnesium Alloys.

New Plasma Arc Welding Technologies

Other types of welding that are in development or are in use by the major auto manufacturers:

Rota Plasma: This plasma arc welding process was created by Sulzer Metco and consists of a rotating powder atmospheric plasma spray system. This technology is currently in use by Volkswagen.

Twin Arc Wire: This is the most common and cost effective use of plasma arc welding consisting of two rotating feedstock wires. This technology was developed by AMG Corporation and in use at Daimler AG.

High Velocity Oxygen Fuel: General Motors has developed a high velocity oxygen fuel welding systems which incorporates more oxygen into the plasma substrate. This system also uses the traditional single wire feedstock system.

Plasma Transferred Wire Arc was in invented in 2009 by Flame Spray Industries and further perfected by the Ford Motor Company. In fact Plasma Transferred Wire Arc Welding received the 2009 IPO National Inventor of the Year award. PTWA technology is currently in use by Nissan in the Nissan GTR, the Ford Mustang GT500 as well as Caterpillar in heavy duty engine remanufacturing.

Representatives at Ford have stated the technology delivers a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions when comparing the cost of producing a new engine. Using recycled materials requires less downtime for the customer and reduces manufacturing costs. It will be interesting to see how precise welding gets as technology continues to improve efficiency, durability while reducing costs in coming years.

Archery – The Splendid Hit and Win Game

Age recommendations

There is no upper age limit defined for Archery. You would even see people continue it and perform very well into their 80s. However, several studies reveal that children less than 7 are not fully able to comprehend the safety instructions and requirements. Where as, 10 years of age can be considered as a sensible lower limit; when the child is physically strong enough to handle the bow and arrow.

Health disclosure

While being a popular social sport, Archery has a number of health benefits involved and the most significant feature is that it can be equally enjoyed by able bodied and disabled people. Even the most severely disabled and even the blind can get involved in Archery using special tactile equipment. A few other elated benefits are listed below;

i. Benefits

  • Strengthening of muscles and shoulders
  • Boosts hand and eye coordination
  • Strengthens the hands and fingers
  • Enhancing the ability to focus the target
  • Develops efficient arms and upper body

ii. Associated Syndromes & Injuries

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome -this usually occurs when the players continue to grasp something, stressing their wrists
  • Charcot Marie Tooth disease (CMT) -when the muscles of the hands and legs weaken occasionally, while the others retain their strength
  • Wallenberg’s syndrome – a condition related to neurology; caused by a stroke in the vertebral. It can be caused due to rapid movements of the neck


The idea of pulling an arrow and achieving your target takes you back to the mythical age. It gives you a sense of pride and arrogance; just like carrying an attitude of your own. Archery, with the passage of time has undergone several changes and the equipment used, has been assigned various codes for making it easier to select; according to age and size. There are a number of clubs and associations linked with Archery nowadays. They not only conduct classes for the passionate to learn but also provide relevant assistance for buying proper equipment. The experts in the field recommend the learners to use equipment provided by the clubs; for a small fee, until they are well experienced.

Archery has been assigned various codes depending upon the type but the most commonly practiced form is the target and field.

  • The Target archery is usually carried out in a flat field and requires archers to shoot a specific number of arrows at targets; priory established values. This is the type you would also have seen in the Olympics where the players try to shoot at a bull’s eye.
  • Field archery involves shooting at different targets of varying distances. This type is usually arranged in woods making the archers follow a prescribed course; negotiate various terrains including hills, bushes and trees, slopes, etc. the archers are normally allowed to shoot a maximum of 3 arrows at each target.

Along with requiring a lot of skill and practice, Archery needs a player to be patient and focused at the same time. However, you can never expect to shoot right in the centre at a very initial level. Hours of training and preparation is needed to achieve perfection, it is best if you join a club and take regular classes. Again, as mentioned earlier, you must be very particular about the equipment that you get. It’s important to buy a bow that’s properly sized and matches your physique. In simple words, choose the one that is easier to pull and requires less effort. The arrows too, should be long enough to pull and set the bow at rest.

Archery helps you achieve mental toughness aside from physically grooming yourself. It has proven to be a very good exercise and wonderful time pass. Practice can make you perfect over time and also lead to vast improvement. However, being patient is the key to success! Joining a club for the game helps you expand your social circle and meet-up with people with similar hobbies.

Landscape Drainage – The Do’s and Dont’s

Many home owners are overwhelmed with problems of proper drainage. When the heavy rains come their yards become lakes causing many issues such as, grass and plants dying from too much water, water entering their homes through weep holes or other areas where there is access, and just not being able to enjoy their property until the water dissipates and even then it is a mud hole. These situations become tiresome and many of the owners look to contractors for a solution to fix the problem. In a perfect world where everyone is honest and all the people that have companies are experts in their field this would work out fabulous. Unfortunately we do not live in a perfect world and their are landscape contractors that either one do not know proper drainage techniques or two try to do the job cheaper because the customer wants a better price or the drainage contractor is trying to make more money. This article is to inform you so you will know the consequence and try to avoid them First and foremost you must have positive grade on your property meaning that if you are putting a drainage system in your backyard then the backyard must be higher than where you want the water to drain (most of the time the street). How much higher the backyard needs to be depends on the length of the drain system because to have proper slope you must have one inch of drop per ten feet of drainage pipe so if you are installing a hundred foot of drain pipe than you need the street to be ten inches lower than where you place the first drain box (Catch Basin). If you do not have the slope needed than this is when you must look in to other options such as, bringing in soil and raising the backyard (only when you have enough foundation showing, you do not want to raise the ground higher than the foundation you need at least one inch showing at all times), draining into a sump pump box and pumping the water out (this option requires electricity and a much larger drain box where the pump will be located), and the final solution that I will mention is installing a series of 30 gallon landscape drainage basins and having the drains throughout the yard drain into them. The last option requires a hole twice the size of each drain basin that you will be installing because to ensure proper landscape drainage you must install pea gravel around the drain basin so the water can seep out.

These solutions are usually only used in worst case scenario situations but I wanted you to know the true options that are available that work. In most cases where there is a landscape drainage problem and let’s say there is only five inches of slope when you need ten inches a good drain expert can install a drain that will work by creating slope from the back yard to the front then leveling out to the street because water that is level still flows but not as fast. They will also be able to incorporate your downspouts from your gutter into the system so that the head pressure (the water pouring down the downspout from the roof) will help push the yard drainage water out. These are options that a good drainage contractor will be able to see, and then he will be able to let you know which drainage option will work best for you.

Now let’s say you have enough slope to do a regular drainage system in your yard. The question than is what does a regular drainage system consist of? A regular drainage system consists of catch basins, fittings and pipe. Let us look at drainage catch basins first there are many type of catch basins that drainage contractors use and all but a few are in accordance with good landscape drainage practices.

One approved type is concrete basin which these are used in residential and commercial applications the residential will usually start out as 10 inches by 10 inches and normally have metal grates. They are well constructed but can be an eyesore in a beautiful landscape. Next you have the plastic drainage basins these are made by a number of different companies and most of them are built to last a lifetime. These Drainage basins come in many different shapes and sizes but we would not suggest you go any smaller than 9 inches by 9 inches for the yard drainage basins and 6 inch round for the garden drainage basins. This type of landscape drainage basins are normally the ones used by the drain experts because they are more versatile and easier to work with. These drainage basins come with different grates (Tops) for different applications flat green grates for the grass and black flat grates for others in stone or flower beds. The grates also come in atrium grates which are grates that are built higher like a dome shape to allow water to flow if the bottom of the grate gets clogged. If you clean around the grates after each storm there will be no need to install atrium drainage grates as they are unsightly in the landscapes because of domed shape but you might want to consider them if using them directly in the flower beds to keep mulch from clogging drains. Some drainage experts but very few prefer to build their own catch basins out of brick and mortar this too is an acceptable practice and sometimes can be used to get slope on the pipe in cases where every inch counts because the slope of the land is very minute because this will allow the pipe to be raised to where they need it and a few inches at this point can mean the difference between a successful drain or unsuccessful drain. Always make sure that the drainage contractor is using actual drain catch basins and not sticking a four inch grate on the end of a fitting.

This brings us to proper fittings to be used in backyard drainage systems. The more fittings used in a drainage system or as many know as French drains (which we will discuss in this article and more in-depth in a future article soon to follow) will slow down the water so an ideal system is using the least amount of fittings as possible. The fittings used in a drainage system include a 90° long and short, 45°,22½°, Y’s, and T’s all these fittings come in different material for the different types of pipe which we will discuss next. Even though they sale short and long 90°’s the long 90° is the only one that should be used and is the only one a drain expert will use. I myself prefer to use two 45° separated so to slow the water flow as least as I possibly can. The suppliers also sell T’s but they are not an approved fitting in a lawn drainage system unless they are being used as a clean out access which is only needed if you have an extremely long run without a drainage basin for access. The Y’s are the only proper fitting to be used by the drain expert to connect another pipe into the main drainage system. All of the other fittings can be used but always try to find the straightest route possible.

The Final material in a system which is also one of the most important is the type of drain pipe. There are several types of drain pipe that are used in drainage systems such as Schedule 40 (The thickest), SDR35 (The next step down), and Sewer pipe (Thin Wall), and corrugated pipe. The only two that are considered correct installation practice by the drain experts are schedule 40 and SDR35 all others are the cheap way out and come with expensive consequences later on. The SDR35 pipe is the norm and followed by all of the drain experts because schedule 40 is considered overkill. If you choose to do a drainage system and not use the approved pipe a few years from now you may have to redo the whole system. The first of the unapproved options sewer pipe is thin and very easy to crack under pressure from roots or future digging. Once the pipe breaks dirt and roots can get into the pipe and cause the system to get clogged and no longer function as it should. Corrugated pipe which is a black flexible pipe can and will hold dirt in the ridges and after the years will get clogged with dirt slowing down or stopping the whole drainage system or another problem that can occur is a root can grow underneath it and since it is flexible will cause the pipe to raise and stop the flow of the drainage system. All of the above scenarios will cause the system to be dug up and redone which can become very costly.

Installing a drainage system is a big project and one must research the correct procedures to pick a drain expert that will do it right the first time and stand behind his work. I pray that this article has helped you in your quest for knowledge so that you can be informed.

How to Do Simple Plumbing Repair and Maintenance

Plumbing problems are some of the most common household issues that we could encounter. Usually, we would call out a professional plumber to take care of those issues, but there is a simpler way. If you know the basic steps that are needed in order to fix the most basic plumbing problems, then that would be much better.

Why is it better to fix plumbing problems on your own?

1. You can save more money if you do not have to pay a professional plumber.

2. You can fix the problem right away as it happens, since you do not need to wait for anyone.

3. You can ensure the quality of the fix if you will be the one to do it.

These are just some of the reasons why it is really advisable for you to have some understanding on how to do simple plumbing repairs. So if you would like to learn to do that, here are some basic steps that you can try on your own:

1. One common problem with home plumbing are leaking pipes. Before you can undertake any DIY repair for pipes, the first thing that you have got to do is to turn off the main so that the leaking will stop and flooding will not occur. Familiarize yourself with the location of the main valve in your house.

2. The easiest way to do a temporary solution for a leaking pipe is to use clamps. There are several types of clamps that you can use for this purpose and they are inexpensive and you can buy them anywhere. You can use those to stop the leaks temporarily.

3. There are also specialized tapes that you can apply on most holes so that they can cover the leak. These tapes will bond with the pipe material.

4. Another common issue when it comes to house plumbing is a running toilet. This kind of issue should be taken care of right away because it can waste a huge amount of water in a short time. To fix this kind of problem you just have to understand how the regular toilet works.

5. If you live in an area where the temperature goes down way below the freezing point, you should open the faucet just a little to ensure that the water does not freeze. Frozen water is one of the most common reasons for damaged pipes.

6. You should have the basic tools for doing the simplest of plumbing repairs. Tools like plungers and snake should be basic ones that need to be found in each and every home. If you want to do more complicated repairs then you can get additional tools such as those used by professional plumbers.

7. You should be ready to handle plumbing problems that might happen to your place. No house is immune from those issues, no matter how well made they are.

These are simple guidelines that you can follow if you want to be ready to do your own plumbing repairs. You should bear in mind though that there is a limit to what you can do. More complicated plumbing problems would need professionals to take care of it.

Post and Beam Construction

How to build your own pole barn or post and beam barn or home. Want to learn how to build something your neighbor does not have? Something unique that reflects your style, not a cookie cutter barn, but a real eye pleasing timber frame or post and beam barn.
Let's get into the nuts and bolts of building your own post and beam barn.

Here is how it works, step by step.

You will see just how easy it is to build your own timber frame barn. These steps assume that you already have your foundation done and are ready to start building. These steps are designed to show you just how easy it is to construct your barn.

Step One
Assemble your bents (the frame of your barn). This is simple to do. First look at your plans and determine which timbers need to be placed where. The plans will show where they go in the framework of your barn. Using a fork lift place all your timbers in there proper locations according to the plans. Lay them out on a level surface and bolt them together with bolts and steel plates.

Step Two
Raise your bents. Using a heavy telescoping forklift raise your bents and place them on the foundation. Nail 2×6 braces to your posts and anchor them to the ground or foundation. Then bolt them in place using brackets and foundation bolts.

Step Three
As your bents are raised tie each of them together with 2×6 girts and 3×6 purlins. Nail them in place with at least 16 penny nails or 3 to 4 inch deck screws. This will secure the framework of your barn while you continue raising the bents.

Step Four
Nail your roof sheathing and board and batten siding in place. Use at least 8 penny ring shank nails or 2 to 3 inch deck screws. An air powered framing nail gun works great for nailing these boards in place. The air gun will make short work of an otherwise tedious job.

Step Five
Install your roofing. It is important to get your barn weather proof as soon as possible. Install shingles or steel roofing just like you would on any other building. Fiberized asphalt panels also work great on this style of barn. They are made with recycled asphalt so they make a great eco-friendly solution for roofing. The corrugations add to the traditional look of your barn.

Step Six
Hang your doors and install your windows. Hanging your doors is easy. You simply bolt your track and hardware in place. Then simply slide your doors rollers into the track. Install the end blocks and your done. Windows are easy to. All you need to do is cut the rough opening, frame with 2×6's and install your window in the frame. Then trim the windows with some 1×3 battens. The great thing about a post and beam barn is that you can put windows almost anywhere. No need to add headers, a timber frame is self supporting. It does not rely on the walls for support.

Step Seven
Build your loft and stairs. Nail your loft joists 16 inches on center. Then cover them with 1×8 loft decking and nail it in place. Now build your stairs. Cut notches in your 2×10 stringers and nail 2×10 treads in place.

Step Eight
Enjoy your barn and celebrate. Invite friends and family over for a good old fashioned barn rising party. Take lots of pictures and share them with your friends. Upload your pictures and share your story with the world on the web.

Building Your House – The 2×4 Vs 2×6 Framing Debate

When I started building houses, I did not realize there was a difference in building the frame of the house. I always assumed they used 2×4 lumber to frame a house. I was mistaken, and found there really is a difference in framing with 2×6 studs. What is 2×6 construction? It is the 2×6 stud, usually 8ft long, which are used for framing the exterior walls around the whole house. 2×4 studs are used for interior walls. It is something you must think about and decide when deciding to build.

When building your dream house, there are various opinions on 2×6 construction. You can ask the contractor if someone else is building your house, or if you are building it yourself, research it on your own. Some would say, that it is cheaper to build with two by four’s instead, because it is cheaper and requires less insulation. One builder I heard from stated ” two by six construction may add an increase in ‘thicker’ insulation but this insulation alone will not insulate a home ‘better’ than a 2×4 wall with proper treatment… “

I would disagree. When building your dream house, the benefit of more insulation is long-term. It increases energy efficiency, and if combined with a two by six with a 24-inch center, instead of a 16 inch, it can reduce labor costs, allow for more spacing for insulating around piping, wiring and duct work, and also allow more room for R-19 or R-21 wall insulation. It is far more economical in houses that are in a more cold winter environment, or homes in which windows are doors occupy 10 percent or less of the total wall area.

There are some significant costs to 2×6 construction, the window and door jambs must be wider, requiring the purchase of a door jam extender which can increase the cost by $12 to $15 per opening. The cost of 2x4x8′ studs is 40% less than a two foot,by four foot, by eight foot studs. On top of that, there are the bottom and the two top plates. Then there is the added cost for the extra insulation, as well as, deeper windowsills.

Some contractors will say that 2×4 construction is structurally as good as 2×6. They can easily support the house structure and weight. Most would agree, the main reason is insulation and the energy benefits. I prefer 2×6, and most Realtors and buyers ask about this, and prefer it as well. Is it necessary? It’s debatable,. All of my houses that I built were 2×6, and I think the costs paid off.

The Truth About Vintage Board Games

Back in the day, one of the most enjoyable past-times was playing board games. Vintage board games used to be as big to families as color television when it was first introduced. They brought friends and families together, and most of all, they taught everyone lessons. Nowadays though, with the advent of the personal computer and hand-held consoles, board games have become a lot less popular. However, there are still people who collect these types of games. So one may ask this question: Why collect old game boards when there are other, more diverse games for the computer/consoles? There are indeed many reasons why these types of games are still worth the investment.

Board games, unlike computer or console games, build people’s character. People can learn many things from playing it. Also, people don’t just learn skills from them, but also values. Here are some of the most important things one can learn from the game:

• It teaches people social skills. Unlike with computer and console games, people are encouraged to interact with others when playing games in board. People develop interpersonal and interaction skills, which are very helpful in the real world. Moreover, vintage board games help family and friends bond, making the social unit more cohesive and stronger.

• It will develop and enhance a person’s logic. Unlike many digital games today, these games help make your brain smarter. Old game boards put you in situations that help you develop your critical thinking. Examples of such games are Monopoly and Clue. Tidbits from these games can help a lot as they are easily applicable to real-world situations.

• It teaches people discipline. Unlike digital games, board games are actual, physical sets of items. This means they have to be taken care of as they can get damaged. Since board games need to be stored and used with care, people who play with them learn to be disciplined when it comes to keeping things.

As you can see, one can learn so much more from board games than if one just played on a computer or console. Yes, there are many PC-based board games available today but nothing beats the real thing. With computer games, there are so many things going on, like graphics and story line and game play, the true essence of playing a game is lost and that is to learn something practical. Sad thing is, vintage board games are becoming rare nowadays. While there are still a lot to choose from in the market, but as toy collectors, it’s the vintage ones that are preferable, and not the new versions or releases of the same games.

These games are indeed worth the investment. Now, not many people know this, but these games can actually earn you some money. Vintage board games that are decades old are the most valuable types of game boards. If you have one of these, you can make a decent profit by selling them to collectors. The older and more mint they are, the higher they will sell.

If you want to learn more about making money from it and other toy collections, all you need to do is find a good resource for this hobby. It may not be as big as they were a decade or two ago, but they are definitely here to stay. They are definitely worth every penny!

Building Tips For Screened In Porches

Sitting out on my porch or in my backyard as the sun sets is one of the most pleasant activities that I enjoy in the summer. The temperature has cooled down during this season so I can enjoy being outside without feeling like I am burning up. However, being outdoors in the summer also has its share of downfalls.

For instance, I have to deal with the amount of mosquitoes and bugs that hang out in my yard. They seem to be more numerous than ever during this season. These insects can really make sitting outside at dusk an unpleasant experience. Fortunately, screened in porches can remedy this problem. I hope to have one soon myself before my body has been drained of blood.

Do you want to have the protection that screened in porches can offer? You can have people to build it for you or you can just screen a porch you already have. Doing it by yourself can be tricky because it does take some skill to get it right. If you do not have enough skills to build screened in porches, then contacting a contractor might be the better option. Ask how much such an endavor might cost, and how long it would take them to complete it. However, you may not get your porch finished for weeks because they may be busy. You should look into screened in porches the early spring so that it will be done by the time the bugs come out to play and the sun gets hot.

You can also use kits to build your own screened in porches. However, the resulting project may not be very durable or reliable. You can sit on your porch and enjoy the weather without getting bit if it is reliable. Use your common sense when you are trying to determine if a kit will work on your particular porch. Perhaps you need something that is custom built. Some people want to match their screened in porch to their own personalities so they prefer custom built porches.

You can also order a DVD from companies that specialize in scanned in porches to see what they have to offer. You can examine examples of screened in porches from these DVDs. You can also view what they have done in the past and the colors and sizes that they can do from the video. Ask about a final price if you decide to order. The final price will depend on how much work has to be done on your porch.

Garden Drainage and Some Problems

Choose the area on your property where you want to plant a garden and check your garden drain. One of the best ways to check for the drain is by digging a hole 2 feet deep or larger, and fill it with water from your garden hose. If after 24 hours water still remains in the hole, your garden drain is poor.

Poor garden drainage can be as simple as composted subsoil or hardpad, in which the soil particles have been cemented together by a collection of minerals. By using a deep cultivator to break up the subsoil and adding some compost or porous material should solve this problem. If you may not want to check another area of ​​your yard.

If the problem still exists you may want to try creating slopes and / or hills in your garden by simply adding more soil to the area. If your soil is very hard or has a large amount of clay content you can replace a few inches of the hard soil with a top quality topsoil. If after all this is, it is still not working, you will probably need to install a garden drain system.

There is also a possibility that your water table is too high, in which case you can plant shallow rated plants, elevate your garden or lower your water table. Your water table could only be inches from the surface or it can be hundreds of feet down. If you are in a low lying area you can dig trenches above your garden to divert the water or by installing a drain system. Always making sure that the excess water is draining away from any structures.

If the area that you tested for garden drainage is a relatively small area, you can still use the area by choosing plants that can tolerate plenty of moisture. Some areas of the South have swamp like conditions and you will find that some plants, such as a variety of iris, love the area to show off their beautiful vibrant colors.

When installing a garden drain system, make sure your pipes are at the right level and the direction of the water flow is away from your house or any other structure on your property. You do not want to cause any other problems such as structural damage to any of your buildings. If you are having a problem figuring out how to install a drain system you may want to consult a professional. A landscape designer or a lawn care service company may be a good place to start.

Porcelain Kitchen Floor Tiles

Porcelain tiles are a fantastic product for home and work. With the advances in technology over the past 10 years we have witnessed a huge growth in the ultimate flooring. From Polished to matt modular to glazed, porcelain is the flooring to have in 2012. Or even why not use it on your walls in bathrooms and kitchens?

Porcelain tiles are sourced worldwide coming from Italy, Spain, China, Middle East, and Eastern Europe. The whole world has gone porcelain mad !! And why not, as I said previously it is the ultimate covering.

Here are some porcelain options:

Polished porcelain : With its highly polished finish will give any room a high class finish whether it's on the wall or floor. Use it on bathroom walls or bathroom floors polished porcelain is easy to clean and maintain. Kitchen floors will sparkle with a polished porcelain on the floor. Bouncing your light back into the room, seeing is believing

Modular porcelain: With its mixed size cobbled effect will re create that farm house, country cottage feel. Use in Kitchens, halls, living areas, conservatories the modular porcelain will work in modern as well as older properties. Glazed finish means no sealing and little maintenance.

Rectified Porcelain : Has a square cut edge to replicate real cut stone but without the hassle of sealing and maintenance. This will give a minimal high spec look and works well on both walls and floors. small joints will limit the grout and give a fine flat finish.

Unglazed porcelain : Tends to have a good anti slip finish. Along with looking great, this will give peace of mind in wet areas like kitchens, bathrooms, pool surroundings and changing areas.

Glazed Porcelain: Will simply look fantastic and last a life time. Glazed porcelain is a very hard wearing floor covering. In wide range of designs, colors and sizes they can be used on bathroom walls, kitchen floors, halls, living areas, conservatories.

Working with porcelain can be tricky, when recently laying my own kitchen floor tiles I used a glazed porcelain tile. The tools are key to fixing porcelain, a good flat bed cutter for your straight cuts is essential, the amount of tiles that I wasted using an inferior cutter was criminal. Also motored wet wheel comes in very handy for cutting around thresholds.

Another lesson I learned, make sure you have the correct adhesive and grout for your floor and sub straight. A 1 part flexible adhesive is the most common and ideal for concrete floors and pre strengned floors and a flexible grout will fill your joints and protect the adhesive underneath from moisture.

I did a great job on my kitchen floor if I do say so myself, however it did take a while to complete! Next time I will get a professional in, who knows exactly what to do and tools to use, and do not even ask about trying to drill them! That's a story for another day.

To summaries easy to clean and maintain makes porcelain tiles the best covering for your floors. Whether is polished, glazed, rectified, non rectified it's the ultimate covering. Make sure you have the right tools and adhesives and if you can get the professionals in!

Comparing Models of Woodburner Stoves


There is such a bewildering array of models in the wood burning stove market that it is hard to know where to start.

Fortunately we have assembled a very representative range of stoves of all shapes and sizes, covering all the bases from contemporary to classic styling and from wood burners to multi-fuel stoves, using only top-quality manufacturers.

The Westfire range from Denmark is representative of the modern design style that uses steel for the main stove construction and finishes it off with a cast iron door. The result is an attractive ‘face’ which also has the function of retaining heat for longer. The total weight is less than for all-cast models. Westfire also use lightweight vermiculite fire bricks for added heat insulation.

The steel legs and overall design of this range also allows some of them to keep the floor heat below 100 degrees, thus permitting the use of a thin 12mm hearth/floor plate. This aids installation and opens up the possibility of an attractive glass plate, or other designs in granite or resin. Steel can be used, but it has to have a base layer of non-combustible material under it. You can shop for pre-made shapes of plate – square, rectangular, curved-corner, teardrop or semi-circles are available according to taste and the available space.

Some Westfire models also carry DEFRA approval for use in smoke control areas. And the Uniq 23 model has an unusual side glass feature for added fire visibility.

Pevex offers traditional cast iron styles, 9 of which are on offer here, from the little Bohemia 30 that is ideal for narrowboats, holiday homes and summerhouses, to the very popular 50 and 60, both with a choice of single, double or cast door. The Suffolk range includes the big-selling Orford, with a riddling grate which allows the use of other fuels: unusually it has a small 4″ flue outlet which will need an adapter to step up to a larger flue. It is approved for 12mm thick hearths. Like all of the stoves stocked by the website, it features the modern airwash technology that aids efficient burning and keeps the glass clean.

Wolverton’s stoves are distinguished by the fact that they are all designed for multi-fuel use. The range starts with the Kinsale, which at only £82 is comfortably the cheapest stove here. A traditional ‘pot belly’ cast iron stove, it is great for residential boats, huts, garages and small nooks. Despite its old-fashioned charm, it has a thoroughly modern 91% efficiency.

The larger Wolverton stoves are traditionally styled and claim an amazing 93-95% efficiency. This is all the more creditworthy given that some other manufacturers compromise their efficiency by trying to offer multi-fuel capability. The clever design feature of having a cast iron-lined firing chamber is perhaps the secret of Wolverton’s success.

Firebelly is proud to offer a British hand-made range of stoves with an unfussy appeal that fits in with most interiors. They use Teknilite fire bricks for added heat retention. Another good design feature is their stay-cool door handle. The FB1 is offered in 2 colours and has an attractive arched-top door.

Particularly noteworthy is their FB2 double-sided 12kW model with glass windows that create a very special ambience. It is the obvious choice if you want or have to have a chimney set in the middle of a room.

Saey’s Belgian stoves are traditional cast iron in construction. Their unusual point of difference is that most models include an extra side door. Not much use if you intend to set it back into a recess but if you have space all round, you can load up long logs more easily. The 94 model has a full riddling grate, while the big 96 has a very powerful 13 kW output. Its equally heavy-duty weight of 164kg needs to be carefully considered before you commit to buying.

The largest range being offered is that of the French manufacturer Invicta. When you see their fascinating range of styles, including some unique contemporary stoves, it is not surprising. The excellent quality of the manufacturing is also evident. They have brought something fresh and original to the UK market since their launch here in 2008. They are cast iron and carry the ‘Flamme Verte’ seal of approvak for having CO emissions of below 0.3% and at least 70% efficiency (although the latter figure is also met by all other stoves mentioned here).

Among the many noteworthy Contemporary designs (out of no less than 14 on offer) is Poele, with a quirky-shaped glass in its door. Note that its metric outlet, like all those from Invicta, requires an adapter to fit an imperial-measure flue, so budget for an extra £50 or so.

The Oxo model is egg-shaped, and as a result has a rear-only exit. The Oracle and Chamane stoves are upright, which may suit narrow openings, or maybe you like the look, but the drawback is that you have to cut all your logs down to 330mm or less. The same restriction applies to the amazing wigwam-styled Tipi.

Pharos and Antaya both have a single pedestal foot, one being vertical the other horizontal in layout.

Weighing in at a super-heavyweight 225kg is the Odysee. You have to check the strength of your footing with any of these cast iron models, but the Invicta models do not skimp on specification and they are particularly chunky. The biggest models are expensive at over £2000 but these are mostly well below the normal price when bought from the website.

Traditional models from Invicta (11 models offered) start with the tubular Sologne, which like many traditional styles is a rear-only exit type. (Do bear this in mind if you are restricted by the location of the stove relative to the chimney). Several of their traditional types are enlivened by colour options, with 7 hues on offer in the case of the Modena model. This is a good manufacturer to choose if you want to break away from the conventional.