Archive for May, 2013

Oklahoma Officials Call for Groups to Tackle Proper Storm Safety

Oklahoma Officials Call for Groups to Tackle Proper Storm Safety

The storm that hit Oklahoma last week caused millions of dollars in damage to residential properties and commercial buildings.  Sadly, in addition to that, several people lost their lives.  That is why state officials are looking for ways to enhance safety within the state, especially in schools and residential areas. Officials are forming discussion groups and task forces to tackle ways in which to better prepare for future natural disasters and save lives.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin is calling for state discussions concerning the safety of schools. Gov. Fallin stressed the need for safe rooms that will better protect students and teachers during possible storms. In addition, schools need to implement practice drills in order to better educate the students and administrators on what they should do in case of storms or other dangerous incidents.

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett is also forming a task force to address the issue of safety in the city. The task force will discuss the recent storms and lessons learned as ways to determine what to do in future. The city task force will consist of state leaders and members of the business community. They will discuss the need for storm shelters, safe rooms, and other precautionary measures that can help save lives in future natural disasters.

Heather & Alan Davis
Oklahoma City Realtors

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How to Prepare Your Home for the Summer

How to Prepare Your Home for the Summer

Summer months are nearly here, and it is the perfect time to have parties at home, relax under the sun, and enjoy the warm weather. Though there is a lot of fun to look forward to, your home needs to be prepared properly in order for you to fully enjoy the hot days.

During the hotter months, you will be turning on your air conditions, which means you will experience a rise in our energy bills. By taking control and preparing our home now, however, you feel more comfortable during the summer months and also reduce the amount of energy you use.

  • Prepare your deck. Fix any items that need to be repaired.  Check for dents, cracks, sagging, or protrusion that may cause a threat when you plan to your use deck. By feeling safe, you will utilize your deck more, which means more time outside and less of a need to keep your house as cool when you’re not in it.
  • Repair your windows. Allowing fresh air to circulate inside your house is a great way to keep it cool without using any energy. Have your windows checked for cracks, damage, or leaks, so you can fully utilize them and let in the cool breeze.
  • Install solar panels. This is the perfect time to make use of a free and natural source of energy – the sun. Since summer offers more sunlight and hotter days, it is a great time to maximize solar energy.  Once you invest in the initial panels, your energy is free, which save a lot of money on bills.
  • Insulate your house. Summer months mean hotter days for you. To keep your home cool and comfortable, make sure that it is properly insulated, so the cool air does not escape and the hot air does not enter.
  • Change your window treatments. Winter months require you to install heavy and dark curtains. When summer comes, it is time to take them down and install something bright and light to help promote better air circulation around the house when your windows are open.
  • Have your home appliances ready. Be sure your refrigerator, freezer, and blender for mixed drinks are in top condition and functioning properly.
  • Prepare your air conditioning system. When the hot days arrive, you will be turning your air conditioner on, so make sure that everything is operating properly, so it will work at maximum efficiency and avoid unnecessary over use.

Heather & Alan Davis
Oklahoma City Realtors

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Useful Tips for Properly Cleaning Windows

cleaning a window

Clean windows allow you to enjoy views of the lovely outdoors and also add to the overall appeal of a room .  You can have all the natural light you want without the obstruction of dust and dirt.

Achieving clean windows, however, can be a tedious task.  Sometimes you have to clean them more than once to remove all of the specks of dust and dirt on them.  That’s why knowing some tricks for how to properly clean your windows can help reduce the time and effort required.

  • Clean from top to bottom. This prevents dirt and other residue from circulating or spreading around the way they do when you start from the middle or bottom. It also prevents dirty water from dripping on areas you already cleaned.
  • Use quality cleaning tools. Sometimes you cannot achieve a fully clean window if the tools you use are not good quality.  Investing in good cleaning supplies can help you clean our windows more thoroughly in less time.
  • Polish scratches on your window with toothpaste. It only requires a small amount.
  • Wipe your squeegee clean after every stroke in order to avoid visible lines.
  • Do the washing on a cloudy day. If you wash your window on a hot sunny day, the tendency is for your cleaning solution to easily dry up before you are done wiping.  Cloudy days make things easier and faster.
  • Protect woodwork. Drips from your window cleaners can easily cause damage to your windowsill. Try to protect woodwork by laying a towel down before cleaning.
  • Clean corners using a small toothbrush or a cotton swab.
  • Clean the screens. While cleaning your window, take the time to clean the screen as well. Dust, dirt, and other reside  become trapped in screens, which will obstruct your view. In addition, the residue on your screens will simply transfer to your clean windows if they are not cleaned also.

Heather & Alan Davis
Oklahoma City Realtors

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Help Comes to Tornado Victims in Oklahoma

Help Comes to Tornado Victims in Oklahoma

Oklahoma has experienced great devastation in the wake of the massive tornadoes that hit Moore and Shawnee earlier this week.  Thousands of people lost their properties and were injured and some even lost their loved ones. The tornadoes that plagued the state have brought tremendous grief and suffering to those who were directly affected.

With hundreds of people losing their homes and everything they own, every bit of help is significant. That’s why, a number of organization, universities, and the state governments are offering relief to tornado victims.

The Oklahoma House approved the use of the state’s constitutional reserve fund to help with the recovery process.  The Senate and the House unanimously voted to use $45 million of the state’s Rainy Day Fund for tornado relief.

The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management also announced the reopening of several emergency centers to accommodate those who are in need of help.

Oklahoma universities are also taking part in relief operations through fundraising. Three universities are working together to gather more funds to help the relief operations of the United Way. The University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, and the University of Tulsa will be selling disaster relief t-shirts, with proceeds being donated to the United Way.

Big stars from Oklahoma will also be showing their support through fundraising concerts. Blake Shelton and Toby Keith, both natives of Oklahoma, are planning to hold a benefit concert for the tornado victims. Both stars will do a separate concert, but dates have not yet been determined.

Heather & Alan Davis
Oklahoma City Realtors

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Why Oklahomans Don’t Like Basements

Why Oklahomans Don't Like Basements

When Randy Keller moved from Texas to the Oklahoma City area seven years ago, he couldn’t find the house he was looking for.

“I was moving from Texas, where there are also a lot of tornadoes,” says the professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Oklahoma who experienced the . “But I just couldn’t find one.”

He didn’t know it at the time, but Keller, who is also the director of the , says he later discovered that the soil and water conditions in the central part of the state turned out to be the reason for the shortage of basements.

“We’ve got a high water table and red clay that expands and contracts depending on how much moisture there is in the soil,” Keller says. “That expansion and contraction causes cracks in basement wall, and cracks mean leaks.”

He isn’t the only prospective buyer to have noticed the paucity of below-ground residential accommodations.

“I’ve always been told our soil is not good for basements,” says Russell Benson, an Oklahoma City real estate agent asking why basements were so rare in Oklahoma. “I have sold a few older homes that had basements, but they were never in that great of shape.”

A realty agent friend told Keller that because basements in Oklahoma have such a reputation for leaks, they can actually be a barrier to resale.

The that swept through the region Monday, killing at least 24 people, missed Keller’s basement-less home by only a few miles.

For John Hole, the president of contractors, which operates in the Oklahoma City area, it was an even closer call. The twister hit just a mere six blocks from his house. But he and his wife weren’t there at the time. They don’t have a basement and decided instead to shelter at a nearby church, which does have one.

As the name of his company implies, Hole does foundations — but not many basements, especially in single-family homes. It’s that shifting red clay that’s the problem, he says, mostly for the central and northeastern parts of the state.

“Red clay is susceptible to water and heat. It moves; it causes cracks,” he says. “So, you’re going to need pumping systems and backup power to run the pumps because eventually the water’s going to get in.”

“For most homeowners, it just doesn’t make sense, moneywise,” he says.

According to , the frost line and Oklahoma building codes also might be a contributing factor:

“In the northeastern U.S., building codes generally require homes to be built with their footing below the frost line, which means that builders already excavate enough earth during construction to create a basement.

“In the southern U.S., however, building codes don’t require this.”

Adding a basement then would require more excavation than a contractor would normally be required to do.

Mike Hancock, president of Basement Contractors, says basements don’t have to leak. In fact, on his company’s website, there’s a prominent link to a section called “.”

“There’s an old stereotype that you can’t build basements in Oklahoma,” says Hancock, whose business is one of a few in the area that will even build residential basements.

His theory is that basements are out of many contractors’ comfort zone, so it’s easier for them to say it’s impossible than to admit they can’t do a leakproof job.

Basements are so rare, Hancock says, that the listings service for local residential real estate doesn’t even have a box to check for a basement. But the fear of tornadoes is a “prime concern” of many of his customers who do want a basement in their home, Hancock says.

“It’s always in the back of their minds, what am I going to do if there’s a tornado,” Hancock says.

He says that a lot of times, he’s asked to put a safe room inside the basement itself, with “extra-thick interior walls, FEMA-approved doors and concrete supports instead of wooden joists,” which can splinter and become razor-sharp shrapnel during a tornado.

At a news conference Tuesday, Albert Ashwood, the director of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had funded similar safe rooms for more than 100 schools, but that the two schools flattened by Monday’s tornado were not on the list. At least nine students were killed at the two schools.

Safe rooms, Ashwood said, are a “mitigating measure. It’s not absolute.” However, any safety measure could have helped the kids survive, he said.

One alternative, he said, is a small shelter dug under a garage that can fit perhaps six people. Hancock says his company doesn’t do that kind of work, but he thinks it’s a good idea.

“The only problem is that they’re small and with debris piled on top, it could take rescuers some time — perhaps days — to reach the survivors,” he says.

Keller, the geology professor, still puzzles over the basement thing.

“I guess it’s not considered a plus,” he says. “But, a few more of these situations like what happened yesterday and maybe people will change their tune.”

Heather & Alan Davis
Oklahoma City Realtors

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Creating an Extra Bathroom at Home

Creating an Extra Bathroom at Home

Most homeowners would like to have a little extra space in their house. Even if you have all the basic amenities, it’s always nice to be able to extend the space a little to accommodate more amenities such as an extra bathroom.

Even though you may already have one or more fully-functional bathroom, it is also nice to have a guest bathroom or at least a basic powder room. That way, guests can have a separate space to use that does not interfere with your family’s normal bathroom and that makes them feel like they have a private space.

What is the difference between a powder room and a bathroom? Why would you want to add a powder room to your home?

A powder room is simply a half-bathroom that contains a sink and a toilet, but not a shower or bathtub. Most homes have powder rooms so guests can freshen up without having to use a full bathroom. In addition, powder rooms are usually smaller than bathrooms.

Many homes find a powder room effective especially if their own bathrooms are located upstairs. Powder rooms are located downstairs so guests do not need to go up to the host’s private bedrooms just to use the bathroom. They are more convenient to both the homeowners and the guests.

There are extra spaces inside your house that can be ideal for adding a powder room without having to build an addition.  The hollow space under your stairs is one possible location for a powder room. Although the space may currently house your coats and linens, you can make use of the space more efficiently by turning it into a powder room and storing those items somewhere else in the house.

Some homeowners transform their old pantry into a powder room.  The idea is to find a less used spot inside the house, where you can fit all the necessities of a powder room and your guests can easily access it.

Planning a powder room also requires the same considerations as a fully-functional bathroom. Consider proper ventilation inside your powder room because the space is very limited. In addition, plan your plumbing well to accommodate the sink and toilet. Lastly, decorate. Make it visually pleasing to your guests and add special touches like nice scents,, soaps, and towels.

Heather & Alan Davis
Oklahoma City Realtors

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Design Don’ts for Your Kitchen

Design Don’ts for Your Kitchen

Remodeling your kitchen to make it more functional and attractive can be fun, especially if you have a lot of ideas in mind. You may have found new, interesting ideas in magazines or on the internet and you can’t wait to implement them.

However, the truth is, not all ideas may work perfectly for a kitchen. There may be designs that look good, but are not functional at all. There are also other concepts that may hamper efficiency inside the kitchen. So, how do you properly design a beautiful, yet functional kitchen?

Knowing the different design do’s and don’ts for a kitchen can help you avoid making mistakes in your remodeling project. Here are a few you might want to avoid:

  • Improper Ventilation – An effective ventilation system is one of the most essential parts of a kitchen design. Whether it is a state-of-the-art range hood or a bigger window to let bad air escape, proper ventilation keeps the kitchen smelling fresh and clean.
  • Obstructing the Kitchen Triangle – The busiest part of the kitchen is centered in three areas: the sink, stove, and refrigerator, also known as the kitchen triangle. Blocking the efficiency of these areas with a cabinet or a counter can make things slower around the kitchen.
  • Upper Cabinets That Do Not Go Up to the Ceiling – Avoid the impression of floating cabinets in your kitchen. Instead, make your cabinets go all the way to the ceiling to avoid having an empty space between them. This will prevent dust from collecting, which is not sanitary, especially if near the area where you prepare food.
  • Poor Drainage – Kitchens need a working sink at all times. Unfortunately, there are kitchen designs that lead to leaks due to the improper placement of the sink. When designing your kitchen, always consider working with a good plumber.
  • Inadequate Counter Space – When preparing food, it is important to have ample counter space to work on. Unfortunately, however, there are many kitchen designs that do not have enough counter space. Always consider your kitchen activities and the space where you will need to work. Consider having a place to put your small appliances and a place to prepare your meals.
  • Overdoing – Never overdo your kitchen design. Not all designs are meant to be included in one kitchen plan. Try to finalize a few of your good design ideas and avoid overcrowding your kitchen. Leave more room to breathe. Sometimes, a simple kitchen is more beautiful than a trendy one.

Heather & Alan Davis
Oklahoma City Realtors

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