Donna Coffin - ERA Key Realty Services - Distinctive Group



Posted by Donna Coffin on 3/2/2018

Trying to successfully manage the many demands of a growing family, a high maintenance home, and a stressful career is no easy task, but most of us seem to get the hang of it after a while! With so many priorities to handle, though, things don't always work out as planned. Fortunately, there are measures you can take to help smooth out the rough spots and avoid some of the pitfalls of modern life. Here are a few miscellaneous ideas to help you accomplish that.

  1. Be security conscious. Even if you live in what you consider to be a safe neighborhood, all it takes is one incident to rob you of your sense of security -- not to mention any valuables that might be lying around. While there are a handful of small, close-knit communities out there where folks feel comfortable leaving their doors unlocked, it's still better to exercise a little caution. Unless you can depend on your neighbors to keep a close eye on your house when you're not at home, locking doors and windows before you leave is a smart safety practice.
  2. Get at least three estimates. Whether you're planning on remodeling your kitchen, repaving your driveway, or having the exterior of your house painted, you can often save thousands of dollars by getting and comparing three written quotes. When you talk to contractors and other service providers, you'll also get a sense of how easy or difficult they are to work with. If they're impatient with your questions or slow to respond to emails and phone messages, then you're probably seeing a preview of what they'd be like on the job.
  3. Get a dehumidifier for your basement. If your basement is dry and you don't have any drainage issues outside your house, then this suggestion may not apply to you. However, if your basement humidity level is approaching 60%, a dehumidifier may be necessary to help prevent mold growth, indoor air quality problems, and other issues. (Monitoring tip: Inexpensive humidity gauges are available at hardware stores and online.) Preventing mold growth before it takes hold can potentially save you thousands of dollars in mold remediation costs. If your basement is wet, musty smelling, or has visible signs of mold or mildew, consulting with a certified mold assessor or a basement waterproofing company can help you identify the extent of the problem, as well as what to do about it.
  4. Research dog breeds before choosing a family pet. All dog breeds have different characteristics, personality traits, exercise needs, and training requirements. Unfortunately, some families choose a puppy based on how cute it is, rather than how well it will fit into their lifestyle. Dogs generally need a lot of attention, especially when they're being housebroken and acclimated to daily routines. To help ensure a successful relationship with your new dog, it's important that every member of the family understand the responsibility that comes with pet ownership: It's a labor of love and a long-term commitment.
Whether you're a first-time home buyer or a seasoned property owner, there's always something new learn. Stay tuned to this blog for more homeowner tips, helpful reminders, and money saving strategies!





Posted by Donna Coffin on 5/22/2015

Old and dried out PointsetaAre you a plant killer? †If so, don't feel discouraged. †Many people looking to add a touch of green to their homes end up on the "most wanted" list. †Luckily for them (and perhaps you as well), plant killing isn't a crime. †Also, there are a few plants that can survive even the most neglectful of plant keepers. †If you think that keeping houseplants healthy is out of your league, then give these hardy friends a chance to shine in your home. Air Plants - Also known as Epiphytes, these plants derive most, if not all of the moisture and nutrients they need from the air. †They can be put almost anywhere in your home, and are virtually indestructible. †These plants don't even need soil. †At most, they'll need a light mist every few months. Succulents - These plants are known for their large, fleshy, unusual appearance. †A common misconception about Succulents is that they are cacti. †While it is true that most cacti are succulents, not all succulents are cacti. †They are relatively cheap to purchase, and once rooted, can be a beautiful addition to your home. †Given the abundance of varieties to choose from, odds are you'll be able to find a succulent that complements any home style. Aloe - Not only is aloe a succulent, it is one of only a few plants that can be kept for not only decorative purposes, but medicinal as well. †The gel in aloe vera plants has been used for skin irritations, such as cuts and burns. †The gel can also be processed into soaps. Jade - Jade is also a succulent, and can be a beautiful addition to your home. †Many jade plants are purchased as bonsai trees, and upkeep is minimal. †While not as hardy as the other plants on the list, this is a good plant to take a shot at after you've managed to keep a few air plants and hardier succulents alive. Golden Pothos - Not only is this plant incredibly hardy, it also qualifies as an "air scrubber", removing toxins from the air in your home. †Trimmings can easily be cultivated into plants, and the rate of growth can be incredibly fast. †Care should be taken to avoid ingestion by pets and children.





Posted by Donna Coffin on 5/8/2015

They say it's a silent killer. Odorless, colorless, toxic fumes with symptoms similar to those of having the flu. It can kill you and your loved ones without you even knowing its there. Are you safeguarding your home against this deadly threat? Step one is knowing where the threat comes from. The United States Environmental Protection Agency states carbon monoxide can come from "unvented kerosene and gas space heaters; leaking chimneys and furnaces; back-drafting from furnaces, gas water heaters, wood stoves, and fireplaces; gas stoves; generators and other gasoline powered equipment; automobile exhaust from attached garages; and tobacco smoke." (http://www.epa.gov/iaq/co.html) With winter upon us, and the possibility of power outages during large winter storms a reality, many homes have generators to help in these situations. But improper installation can cause carbon monoxide levels to rise, putting your family at risk. Ensure that generators are installed outside, away from your home, to ensure fumes aren't entering your home. Never install generators in your home, including your garage or basement. Another winter threat is fireplaces, wood or gas, and wood stoves. As you are snuggling up during a long winter night, you need to ensure that ventilation is sufficient. It's always best to have a trained professional inspect and clean your fireplaces and wood stoves on a yearly basis. So what else can you do? Buying a carbon monoxide detector is a cheap and easy way to ensure you are safe. For as little as $20, you can purchase detectors that will alert you if carbon monoxide levels get too high. And if they do, you can quickly evacuate the house and call the fire department for inspection of your home. Most states now require that when you sell your home, these detectors are already installed, just like fire and smoke alarms have been required for years. So be safe this winter season and take precautions as needed. It really could save your life!





Posted by Donna Coffin on 4/17/2015

If you have been packing on the pounds it may be your kitchen that is to blame. New research has shown that it could be your kitchen making you gain weight. Here are some tips on how to keep your kitchen from contributing to a growing waistline. No Media The TV in the kitchen is now a media snack station. Parking yourself in front of the TV with food all around you makes snack time a lot easier. Computers in the kitchen can also lead to mindless munching and web surfing. It's too easy to grab a bite when all the food is within armís reach. Stand Up Who doesn't love an island prep station? But all the handy seating around the island is an invitation to linger over snacks. So lose all the stools to help resist temptation to gather in the kitchen. Open Invitation The so-called great room isn't so great for your weight. Combination living/kitchen areas make your kitchen the focal point of the home. Add a few partition walls or screens to keep the fridge and cabinets out of sight when relaxing, and watching TV in the living room. Skimp on Storage Pantries, large cabinets are so appealing and offer a great place to stockpile food. They also offer lots of temptation. Too many trips to bargain bulk stores will have your storage full in no time and also create a mentality of surplus. More is always more especially when it comes to food.





Posted by Donna Coffin on 6/20/2014

Did you know that indoor air pollution is actually worse than outdoor air pollution? Indoor pollution can in fact be 2 to 10 times worse depending on the materials in your home. Many of the materials in your home omit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's). According to the EPA, VOC's are in the air that you breathe and can have long term health effects, including liver, kidney and central nervous system damage and cancer. Here is a list of some of the indoor air pollutants that you may want to reduce or remove in order to have a healthier home. Cleaning Supplies The things that clean your home may be making you sick. In fact, bleach is one of the biggest offenders. In order to have a truly clean home, remove all of these chemicals and start replacing them with natural ones. Check the labels of everything. Many sheets that are made for your dryer have formaldehyde in them. Some of the most dangerous cleaning products are corrosive drain cleaners, oven cleaners, and acidic toilet bowl cleaners. Corrosive chemicals can cause severe burns on eyes, skin and, if ingested, on the throat and esophagus. Air Fresheners Air fresheners may smell sweet but their effect can be anything but. Some air fresheners can send chemicals into the air that contain VOCs. The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology looked at plug-in fresheners and found more than 20 VOCs' and more than one-third were considered toxic or hazardous. VOCs can increase the risk of asthma in kids. At high enough levels, they can also irritate the eyes and lungs, trigger dizziness and headaches, and even lead to memory loss. Furniture Believe it or not the place where you sit or sleep could be harming your health. Furniture is such a big part of our life, we eat on it, sleep and sit on it. Furniture also can emit VOCs. Furniture is often made with flame retardants, finishes, adhesives and foam cushions that give off harmful chemicals. Paint You often hear about the dangers of lead paint. You should also be worried about the brand new fresh paint you just put on the walls. Paint, paint strippers, varnish removers and floor stains all emit VOC's into the air. These chemicals don't go away once the paint has dried or once it stops smelling. The harmful chemicals can last for as long as two years. New Flooring That new carpet smell is not good for you. As pretty as it may look new carpet, wood floors or even linoleum flooring give off VOCs. Purchase flooring produced from renewable materials such as linseed oil, rosins, wood flour and jute. Look for wood flooring that is FSC Certified (it came from a Forest Stewardship Council Certified Forest which helps protect old growth forests from being clear cut). For more information read about Sources of Indoor Air Pollution on the EPA site.