Friday, December 7, 2012

House Doctors featured on Cincinnati Business Talk

House Doctors CEO Jim Hunter recently appeared on a segment of Cincinnati Business Talk that aired November 9, 2012. The segment focused on Jim’s background, why he purchased House Doctors, and some trends like the aging in place solutions within the home improvement industry. Click below to listen to the segment or visit the show's site here.


Listen to internet radio with Cincinnati Business Talk on Blog Talk Radio

Thursday, November 15, 2012

House Doctors launches introductory video

House Doctor's is pleased to release a short video that will serve as an introduction of the brand for new customers. The video highlights many of the advantages of using House Doctors including professional service members and live phone support. Check out the full video below!

Friday, November 9, 2012

The 24-hour kitchen facelift: Renovations that don't have to be a pricy, prolonged pain


(ARA) - Is your kitchen looking a little worn? Or maybe you've grown tired of your decor? No need to call in the remodeling crew. Instead, turn your Saturday into Satur-DIY, and with a few simple updates you can spruce up your kitchen - and spirits - in no time at all. 

According to a recent Kitchen and Bath Business survey, 22 percent of U.S. homeowners are planning to remodel, but may be holding off for budgetary reasons. Small changes don't have to come with a hefty price tag. Here are a few ideas that don't take much time or money for a 24-hour kitchen facelift.

Fabulous fixtures
As the workhorse of the kitchen, start by upgrading your faucet - especially since an old or broken faucet can age your kitchen by decades. Pulldown faucets have become one of the most popular choices for their convenience and high-arc styling, and the new Benton pulldown kitchen faucet from Moen is a great example. The Benton faucet offers exquisite styling in today's most popular finishes - but it's what's inside that counts. Featuring Moen's unique Reflex pulldown system, Benton pulldown faucets offer smooth operation, easy movement and secure docking to keep the spray wand in place. Available at The Home Depot from between $199 and $219, you can make a big splash - even with a small price tag - at the kitchen sink. 

Walls that say "wow"
Are your current kitchen walls blah or boring? Spice them up with a bold new hue that will make your kitchen decor pop. Not sure where to get inspiration? Take a cue from the color experts and designers at Pratt & Lambert paints, who just released their 2012 color trends with a palette titled "Echo" that features classic, bold colors.

Luxurious lighting
New lighting can add life to any room - kitchens included. Shed new light on your kitchen by forgoing the fluorescent and replacing with stylish and functional pendant-style fixtures above task areas, such as the kitchen island or countertops. Chandeliers can be an ideal addition above table areas to create a focus point and dress up the entire room's decor. 

Add storage and style with shelves
Installing shelves in your kitchen is a great way to add more space, as well as create a new look. Install shelves over your sink or around the perimeter of your kitchen to hold items such as small appliances, knick knacks, cookbooks or framed photos to keep countertops clear and uncluttered. 

Customized cabinets
No need to splurge on new cabinets when you can very easily customize your own. With just a few materials and hours, you can refinish or reface your kitchen cabinets. The process is quite simple, just remove the old finish by sanding the fronts of the cabinets and then either stain or repaint them to achieve your desired look. Or, for another option, replace wood panels with glass inserts for custom-looking doors that will show off your favorite dinnerware pieces. 

Update appliance appearances 
A stainless steel finish can instantly transform and upgrade the look of your kitchen. If purchasing new kitchen appliances isn't in the budget, a coat of paint may be just what the doctor ordered. Krylon offers a stainless steel spray paint with real flecks of metal to offer an authentic match for an upscale look. Remember to remove handles from the appliance and place masking tape over areas you do not want painted, and the end result is a new look that tailors to your kitchen's color scheme. 

While it may seem like a daunting task at first, these easy, one-day kitchen picker-uppers can provide a refreshing expression that you - and your family - are sure to love.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Keep your home at tip top value

As a homeowner you are constantly looking at ways to make sure your home maintains the highest value possible. There are many things you can look out for to try and achieve this goal that you just might not know about, and who better to ask about this than real estate professionals. We came across this article by freshome.com that discusses 10 things real estate professionals say to keep in mind when considering the value of your home. Definitely a must read for homeowners. Click here to read the entire article.


Buyers have an upper hand when purchasing a home in a down market with limited inventory. As they survey the market, it’s important, as sellers to have the best possible product available. In order do to that, you need to avoid factors that will devalue your home. Many times, it is the buyer’s perception that influences whether they walk away or offer a seller less than an asking price. Before you decide to list your home for sale note these ten factors that will devalue your house and make changes as you can.


1. Lack of Curb Appeal

The first thing any prospective buyer will see as they approach your home is the front of the home. Everyone wants to live in a home that is beautiful on the outside as well as the inside. A poorly kept landscape, whether overgrown, or non-existent will turn a buyer off. They may fear the cost of redoing landscaping, or be overwhelmed at the thought of it. This undoubtedly will affect the perceived value of your home. By planting a few annuals, keeping the grass cut and weeding the flowerbeds regularly you will improve your curb appeal. Front landscaping that is welcoming and has good visual appeal will keep a buyer interested in your home.

2. Exterior of the House


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

House Doctors featured on U.S. Bank Business Watch

Jim Hunter CEO of House Doctors was recently featured in a piece on U. S. Bank Business Watch discussing the company. The piece talks about why Jim decided to take over the company and the home repair industry in general. It goes into detail about why Jim has such great faith in the company and why the Home Repair Industry is a great business option right now. Click below to view the segment.

 


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

House Doctors featured in Business Courier

House Doctors was recently featured in an article titled “Confident CEO buys out owner of House Doctors” that ran in “Business Courier”. The article discusses Jim Hunter's confidence in House Doctors and why he decided to purchase the company. It also discusses House Doctors current stance in the home repair industry and growth plans for the  company moving forward. Click here to view the entire article.

Confident CEO buys out owner of House Doctors
By: Tom Demeropolis

Jim Hunter, CEO of home repair and remodeling franchise House Doctors, sees so much potential in his industry, he decided that just running the company wasn’t enough.

He was brought in to lead Milford-based House Doctors in 2007, by company founder Paul Spires Jr. A month ago, Hunter purchased the company.

“I think I saw more of an opportunity than the owner did,” said Hunter, who wouldn’t disclose the purchase price. “It’s like Ray Kroc, who saw something more than the McDonald’s brothers did.”

House Doctors’ services range from building a deck to installing exhaust fans and light fixtures.

Click here to read the entire article.


Friday, October 5, 2012

National Home Renovation Month

It's National Home Renovation Month! In honor of this glorious occasion we wanted to take a look at some common home renovations and how they can impact your resale value. Instead of typing this all out we found this great infographic on Pinterest courtesy of Patricia Demmie that is a fun dynamic way of displaying this information. Enjoy!

What Renovations Have The Best Resale Value.








































Monday, September 24, 2012

House Doctors CEO Sees Industry Uptick, Seizes Opportunity to Buy Own Company


Over the last few years, less new homes have been built so existing homes have taken up the slack. There is a huge shift in property needs taking place as the “baby boomers” become the “seniors of tomorrow.” Smaller homes with bathrooms on the ground level are becoming more popular. “Aging in place” modifications to existing homes is the fastest growth part of the remodeling industry at the moment.

This “aging in place” remodeling trend helped create an uptick in the home improvement sector, according to Milford, OH-based House Doctors, a 17-year-old, 90-plus-unit professional handyman service. Company executives cite an increase in average jobs throughout the country and record franchise owner sales growth quarter over quarter. In fact, it was the reason CEO Jim Hunter purchased the House Doctors company himself.

Since September 2007, Hunter has been CEO and president of House Doctors (also known as House Medic in some areas). A veteran of the franchising industry from both the franchisor and franchisee perspective, Hunter performed exceedingly well since being recruited by Paul Spires, Jr., who founded House Doctors in 1995. Spires launched the company while still in his early 20s, but sought Hunter's franchising experience and knowledge to increase House Doctors' brand awareness and foster its growth.

Now, Jim Hunter has invested into the home sector by choosing to own the brand he ran as its CEO. House Doctors has enjoyed system-wide sales and growth success and will continue use its success and new ownership to expand more throughout the country.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

It's a Colorful Life Inside Your Home

How to liven up your home with color

The summer months are all about color. From flowers in bloom to vibrant beach towels and colorful dresses, summer brings with it a multitude of hues. As you look around, you might start to feel like your home is a little, well, blah. If so, just adding a little pop of color into your home can help.

Once you have an idea of the color direction you are heading for your home, the fun begins. Start by thinking about the colors you want to add, where color can make the most impact, and just how much you need to give your home a fresh look.

Here are a few tips to get you started on your adventure in color.

Explore color
More than likely, you already have a favorite color in mind and would be OK seeing more of it in your home. Or, maybe a little inspiration from the season's hottest hues would help. Either way, the first step is to explore color. Take a visit to your favorite clothing boutique, stop in at a paint store or flip through home design magazines. Choose the looks you are most drawn to or the colors that evoke a feeling of happiness or calm. These colors reflect your personal style and will make you feel most comfortable in your home.

Start small
After picking a color palette, don't go out and paint your whole house with it, start small. Just changing your accent pillows, throws, lampshades or accessories can make a big impact when you are first incorporating a new color. Remember to make sure the color flows well throughout the entire space, especially if your home has an open floor plan with rooms easily visible from one to another.

Accent with artwork
Another easy way to bring color to your home is by updating artwork and wall decor. Simply moving artwork from one room to another can give your home a refreshing look, and adding some newly purchased pieces to other spaces can breathe new life into your home.

Be brave
If you're ready to go all out with color, it's OK to make a dramatic change. The kitchen is a great place to go big with color and is usually the gathering place in the home. One of the best ways to bring bold color in the kitchen and set a tone for your entire home is to change your cabinetry. In addition to traditional wood-toned cabinetry styles, there is also a growing selection of on-trend paint and stain colors like KraftMaid's new Slate and Midnight finishes. Take it a step further by choosing glass front doors and adding a contrasting back panel inside the cabinet in colors like KraftMaid's serene Aegean or energetic Envy. Cabinetry colors can bring whimsy and personality to the kitchen.

"Colorful cabinetry can be a big commitment, but it also can set your kitchen apart in a sea of design sameness," says Sarah Reep, director of designer relations and education at KraftMaid Cabinetry. "This year's cabinetry trends are colorful yet timeless and work with just about any design style. The KraftMaid Style Finder on KraftMaid.com is a great way to see what cabinetry colors might work best for you."

The beauty of adding hints of color into your home is that with just a few thoughtful touches, it can feel as though your home has been completely made over. Be sure to carry elements of the color from room to room for maximum effect.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Heat Is On Outside, Keep Cool Inside

As summer heats up, air conditioning bills can rapidly rise. As homeowners feel the heat, many are looking for ways to save and stay cool.

Many U.S. consumers strive to conserve energy at home. Forty-seven percent of Americans say they try to conserve energy all or most of the time, according to researchers at Iconoculture.

One way to help lower utility bills in the summer and year-round is to replace drafty or leaky old windows with new, energy-efficient products.

According to ENERGY STAR, replacing single-pane windows with ENERGY STAR qualified windows can save up to $126 to $501 a year on utility bills depending on your location.

For example, the Pella 350 Series vinyl windows provide durable, triple-pane insulating glass window options. These highly energy-efficient windows help keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

Vince Iturbe from Salt Lake City replaced a westward-facing kitchen window and immediately noticed a difference in the temperature inside his home.

"The window faces the sun the better part of the day, and it was just plain miserable during the summer," he says. "I'm so glad to be done with the heat."

Cool tips
Once energy-efficient windows are properly installed in your home, try these inexpensive, easy ways to help keep your house cool.

  • Provide shade for east and west windows.
  • When possible, delay heat-generating activities like baking or dishwashing until the evening on hot days.
  • Use ceiling fans to circulate air to help make the house more comfortable without over-using the air conditioning. Seal air conditioning ducts and insulate ducts that run through unheated basements, crawl spaces and attics.
  • Install white window shades or mini-blinds. Mini-blinds can reduce solar heat gain by 40 to 50 percent, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
  • If you like energy savings, but dread cleaning blinds, consider windows and doors with optional between-the-glass blinds or shades. Since they're between glass, they accumulate less dust and dirt than traditional roomside window treatments. Plus, they can be closed when you are away to keep the heat out and opened when you are home to let the light in. With their outstanding energy-efficiency and built-in window treatments, it's a winning combination.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Top Seven Home Improvements

These projects are proven winners, but be in the know before you get started. Which home improvements give you the most bang for your buck, come selling time? The answer has to do with the term "ROI," or "Return on Investment."

In other words, what you will get out of what you put in. ROI is important because you want to recoup at least the same amount of money you put into your home when you sell it, or as close as possible. But it's not a simple equation to work out how to best maximize your payoff.

The Seven Best Home Improvements

According to Remodeling Online's 2006 survey of nearly 2,200 real estate professionals in 60 cities across the country, the home improvement with the highest return nationwide is a mid-range siding replacement. Other top projects include replacing your windows with either wood or vinyl one, both major and minor kitchen renovations, a bathroom remodel and a two-story addition. These are nationally averaged prices and percentages.

Watch Out for "Over-Improving"

Before you start tackling that high-yield improvement, know that there's a chance you could "over-improve" your home. That might sound crazy, but it happens most often when the project just doesn't fit the neighborhood or the home's value. For example, if you own a $125,000 home in a neighborhood full of three-bedroom, two-bath homes, and you decide to add on another garage or another floor, you might never recoup the cost of that work.

Why? If the project costs you from $25,000 on up, then you'd have to sell your home for at least $150,000 or more just to break even. Are like homes in your neighborhood selling for that? If not, you're out of luck, because your expensively remodeled home might not fit in with the value of other homes in the surrounding area. Thus it may not be as valuable to potential buyers, since house prices are often ruled by location, and who's to say they might not inherit your quandary when it's time for them to sell? Drop That Toolbox

You might be willing and able to do just about any home improvement project around your house, but before you tackle any major work, consider two things. First, ask yourself if you can do the job right. Saving money is one thing, but are you knowledgeable enough about the task at hand so you don't encounter major (and costly) problems?

Second—and perhaps more importantly—put yourself in the shoes of a potential buyer, even if you're not likely to sell for years. You might be proud of all your home improvements, but the homebuyer may ask lots of questions about the work. Like it or not, there is an inherent skepticism about homegrown handymen, no matter your talents. Professionally done work, on the other hand, tends to have a certain "seal of approval" that assures the job was done properly. Plus, most pros guarantee their work for an extended time, which gives buyers even more confidence.

Location, Location, Location

When looking at the numbers, you might find that they seem either too high or low for your given area. Remodeling Online attributes that to the leveling effect of averaging. "High demand for remodeling services in some parts of a given metro area may drive prices up, but this is often countered by lower demand—and lower prices—in another part of the same city," the report says.

Quality and differences in size and scope also account for differences in a project's cost. This is why, especially if you know you'll be selling your home within a year or two, it pays to consult a REALTOR® before you pick up a hammer.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Uptick in remodeling activity a sign of the times

Mary Ellen Podmolik | Chicago Tribune | May 20, 2012

The weakest part of the housing industry is single-family home construction, but home remodelers are in line for an upbeat year.

After rising 3.5 percent last year, to $107.4billion, homeowner spending on remodeling projects is expected to increase 12 percent this year and an additional 8 percent next year, says a recent forecast by the National Association of Home Builders and Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies.

That doesn't include spending by investors purchasing distressed properties and fixing them up either to resell or to turn into rental units. Add that in and the total spent was close to $300billion last year and is expected to increase.

Credit the anticipated spending to some of the same factors that have helped weigh down the housing market. The percentage of people who moved from one home to another in 2011, 11.6 percent, was at its lowest rate since the Census Bureau began tracking mobility in 1948. Because of declining home values, 26 percent of homeowners plan to stay in their homes at least 16 more years, and an additional 23 percent said they plan to stay put six to 10 years, according to a recent poll by the National Institute of the Remodeling Industry.

Also, homeowners in areas where the local housing market seems to have bottomed out may be more willing to invest in their properties again, taking on projects they deferred.

Consumers buying foreclosures or homes sold through short sales typically need to make improvements and repairs that last year translated into average spending of $7,300 during the first year of homeownership.

And finally, even homeowners with equity in their homes may decide that in the current market, trying to sell their home isn't worth the effort, so they'll tailor the home to their changing needs instead.

"The mix is going to change," said Kermit Baker, a senior research fellow at Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies. "It's not going to be driven by these upper-end projects. It's going to be driven by these smaller-scale activities and it's been deferred. There's a lot of folks who are not underwater or not that significantly underwater and aren't planning on moving anytime soon."

That's not good for would-be buyers who are waiting for choice inventory to come on the market. It's not good for homebuilders, either. But it's welcome news for remodeling professionals so long as homeowners have saved up enough for the projects or have the creditworthiness to borrow money.

Last year, the five most common remodeling jobs were bathrooms, kitchens, window and door replacement, repairing property damage and whole-house remodeling.

"Remodeling is (now) not driven by price appreciation or preparation for sale — by a lot of the things you'd normally thought of — but rather by simply good old-fashioned 'This is what I want. I want a place that is newer, has all the gizmos and is nicer to live in,'" said David Crowe, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders. "It's a return to the real value of a home as a place that I will use rather than trying to gain appreciation."

Baker continues to believe that much of the remodeling industry's growth will come from changes made to homes to allow baby boomers to age in place. "That's going to be one of the really strong markets over the next decade," Baker said. "I'm really not sure the remodeling industry knows how to sell that population really well."

Lower rate and shorter terms: With interest rates on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages that hovered under 4 percent, it's little wonder homeowners who refinanced their mortgages during the year's first quarter were eyeing more stable products and shorter loan terms.

According to Freddie Mac, 31 percent of borrowers who refinanced during 2012's first three months traded in their 30-year loans for 20-year, 15-year or shorter-term mortgages. Meanwhile, 68 percent of borrowers who had hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages refinanced by moving into fixed-rate mortgages, the highest share in a year. Mortgage refinancings accounted for 81 percent of mortgage applications during the quarter.

mepodmolik@tribune.com

Twitter @mepodmolik

Friday, June 29, 2012

Prioritize backyard safety for a sweeter summer


Most of us view our backyard as an extension of indoor living space where we can relax and entertain, where no harm will come to us, our children or our pets.

However, from a practical and statistical standpoint, this is an incorrect assumption. Accidents can happen anywhere at any time, and just like you childproof your house, you need to childproof your backyard.

Keeping your backyard childproof begins with your fence. A yard without a fence is a little like a house without walls. Fences help protect children from danger, keeping toddlers out of swimming pools, hot tubs and ponds or keeping them in the yard, away from busy traffic or strangers. Fences can also help keep your own pets in your yard, and other animals out. They can reduce your liability by preventing injuries to uninvited guests on your property, or damage or injury caused by escaped pets.

"A good weekend home improvement project should be ensuring that your fences and gates are functioning properly and are protected from rust, a destructive force that can render gate hardware useless or dangerous," says Jim Paterson, senior vice president of D&D Technologies, which manufactures gate latches and hinges made of ultra-strong engineering polymers. "In our research, we found that when homeowners consider their fencing needs, rusty metal gate hardware that no longer functions properly or becomes a threat to children was their No. 1 concern. Most homeowners are not aware that rust-free and adjustable gate hardware is available."

Additional precautions to take when childproofing your backyard:

  • Cover any protruding bolts on swing sets and do not attach ropes or cords, which could become strangulation hazards.
  • Remove old tree stumps and rocks, level concrete footings to avoid tripping.
  • Seal wooded items such as decks, swing sets and picnic tables yearly and remove and sand any rough areas to avoid splinters.
  • Completely fence pool and spa areas with self-closing latch and self-latching gates, with latches out of the reach of children such as the MagnalatchTM Safety Gate Latch. Eliminate access to lawn equipment and chemicals. Put these items completely out of the reach of children.
  • Keep a first aid kit accessible, and a rescue kit for those backyards with water features, as well as your mobile phone.

Your backyard can be one of the most exciting places for your children this summer, a little prevention along the way will keep it safe and provide wonderful memories for your family.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The 24-hour kitchen facelift: Renovations that don't have to be a pricy, prolonged pain

(ARA) - Is your kitchen looking a little worn? Or maybe you've grown tired of your decor? No need to call in the remodeling crew. Instead, turn your Saturday into Satur-DIY, and with a few simple updates you can spruce up your kitchen - and spirits - in no time at all.

According to a recent Kitchen and Bath Business survey, 22 percent of U.S. homeowners are planning to remodel, but may be holding off for budgetary reasons. Small changes don't have to come with a hefty price tag. Here are a few ideas that don't take much time or money for a 24-hour kitchen facelift.

Fabulous fixtures
As the workhorse of the kitchen, start by upgrading your faucet - especially since an old or broken faucet can age your kitchen by decades. Pulldown faucets have become one of the most popular choices for their convenience and high-arc styling, and the new Benton pulldown kitchen faucet from Moen is a great example. The Benton faucet offers exquisite styling in today's most popular finishes - but it's what's inside that counts. Featuring Moen's unique Reflex pulldown system, Benton pulldown faucets offer smooth operation, easy movement and secure docking to keep the spray wand in place. Available at The Home Depot from between $199 and $219, you can make a big splash - even with a small price tag - at the kitchen sink.

Walls that say "wow"
Are your current kitchen walls blah or boring? Spice them up with a bold new hue that will make your kitchen decor pop. Not sure where to get inspiration? Take a cue from the color experts and designers at Pratt & Lambert paints, who just released their 2012 color trends with a palette titled "Echo" that features classic, bold colors.

Luxurious lighting
New lighting can add life to any room - kitchens included. Shed new light on your kitchen by forgoing the fluorescent and replacing with stylish and functional pendant-style fixtures above task areas, such as the kitchen island or countertops. Chandeliers can be an ideal addition above table areas to create a focus point and dress up the entire room's decor.

Add storage and style with shelves
Installing shelves in your kitchen is a great way to add more space, as well as create a new look. Install shelves over your sink or around the perimeter of your kitchen to hold items such as small appliances, knick knacks, cookbooks or framed photos to keep countertops clear and uncluttered.

Customized cabinets
No need to splurge on new cabinets when you can very easily customize your own. With just a few materials and hours, you can refinish or reface your kitchen cabinets. The process is quite simple, just remove the old finish by sanding the fronts of the cabinets and then either stain or repaint them to achieve your desired look. Or, for another option, replace wood panels with glass inserts for custom-looking doors that will show off your favorite dinnerware pieces.

Update appliance appearances
A stainless steel finish can instantly transform and upgrade the look of your kitchen. If purchasing new kitchen appliances isn't in the budget, a coat of paint may be just what the doctor ordered. Krylon offers a stainless steel spray paint with real flecks of metal to offer an authentic match for an upscale look. Remember to remove handles from the appliance and place masking tape over areas you do not want painted, and the end result is a new look that tailors to your kitchen's color scheme.

While it may seem like a daunting task at first, these easy, one-day kitchen picker-uppers can provide a refreshing expression that you - and your family - are sure to love.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Quick Tips for Sprucing Up a Kitchen in Need

Kitchens are no longer just for serving meals. For many families, this area of the home serves as a social spot for family gatherings, a home office or a study area for their children. Unfortunately, kitchens can also be the most expensive spot in your house to remodel. With that in mind, we have suggested some simple projects that you can do to spruce up your kitchen, without breaking the bank.

Add a little color and light
Add some flair to your kitchen by replacing your light fixtures with a stylish new chandelier or ceiling fan. This will help you update your kitchen, without spending a lot of money. Another way you can liven up your kitchen is with a new coat of paint. With so many new colors out there, you’re bound to find one that fits your style perfectly.

While you’re at it, consider replacing your light switches and vent covers – this will help freshen up your walls’ overall appearance.

Jazz-up your Kitchen Cabinets with some fun new accessories
Your cabinets are the focal point of your kitchen, so you need to make sure they’re always looking their best. An easy way to do this is by changing your cabinets’ hardware. Many hardware stores offer a variety of styles and colors, so you can easily find a set that embellishes your overall d├ęcor.

Give your windows a well deserved makeover
Over time, dust and dirt can collect on your window treatments causing them to look dingy and dull. By replacing your blinds or draperies with new ones, you’ll help rejuvenate your windows and enhance your kitchen’s look.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Pointers for prepping your deck and backyard for summer fun

Pointers for prepping your deck and backyard for summer fun

Warm weather is here to stay, which means people everywhere are spending more time outdoors. If the sunshine, gentle breeze and chirping birds are calling your family outside to enjoy some fresh air, it's time to get your outdoor space ready for fun activities. With some smart home improvements, you can easily prep your patio and deck for a full season of enjoyment.

1: Tricks for properly cleaning patio furniture

Today's patio furniture can be as comfortable and stylish as indoor options, and similarly, it needs to be periodically cleaned. Resin, resin wicker or metal furniture can typically be cleaned with mild soap, water and a sponge or nonabrasive brush. Metal pieces can be polished with a light coat of car wax to bring back shine and protect it from rusting. Insider tip: If you live in an area with a lot of pollen, you may want to wait to clean outdoor furniture until it is done dropping.

Wood pieces can benefit from a quick cleaning also. For finished wood, use an oil-based soap and a soft brush or cloth. If you have a treated wood deck, picnic table or Adirondack chairs, use a pressure washer and deck cleaner to remove dirt. Remember to use the low-pressure tip so you don't damage the wood. If you have questions, visit www.lowescreativeideas.com for educational articles, videos and additional tips.

2: Get the grill ready for a season of tasty treats

Every warm day is better when you enjoy the succulent flavors of food cooked on the grill, but to keep the food tasting its best, the grill needs to be kept clean. At the start of the season, it's wise to do a thorough, deep cleaning on your grill. If you have a gas grill, remove the propane tank, flame guards and disconnect the igniter wires, removing the igniters. Move the grill over a drop cloth and clean the inside with dish soap, water and a scrub brush. Grates may need to soak in a bucket before getting scrubbed. Once dry, reassemble and get cooking.

In addition to the deep cleaning, remember each time you cook to scrape the grates to get rid of any food residue from previous uses. Simply light the grill and after a few minutes, the heat will have loosened the residue and you can do a quick scraping with a wire brush before putting on your tasty meats and vegetables.

3. Prep the deck in half the time

Staining and sealing your deck is an important maintenance step so its beauty and integrity last for many years, but it's also something most homeowners dread because it can be a lot of work. The good news is there are some new innovations that are making the process much easier. Before you start this project, look for new products that both stain and seal at the same time, simplifying the project and saving you a lot of time. Staining and sealing simultaneously waterproofs, protects and beautifies your wood. Plus, if you do encounter unplanned precipitation in the middle of the project, your deck is still protected. 4. How to grow beautiful plants to enhance your space

With your deck prepped and your patio furniture and grill clean, now it's time to dress the area up with some plants. You can easily incorporate splashes of color by adding containers full of your favorite varieties. Why not make it a family activity and visit your local Lowe's nursery to pick out plants and supplies together? When shopping, keep in mind the color of your deck and furniture and pick plants in a complementary color scheme. You might also want to plant some fruits, vegetables or herbs for your own family garden. Ask a Lowe's garden specialist for advice on what varieties thrive in a container environment.

Once home, spread out your supplies and let your entire family's green thumb come alive. After your plants are nestled into pots and containers, place around your outdoor living space in clusters which provide a better visual look than a single plant standing alone. Remember to water regularly and monitor sun exposure so the plants aren't getting too much or too little.

These few steps can help get your deck or patio ready and beautiful for months of enjoyment. From playing outdoor games to grilling traditional summer fare to relaxing as the sun sets, you'll get a lot of use out of your outdoor space.

Courtesy of ARA Content

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

House Doctors featured on KARE 11 News @4

House Doctors of Minneapolis’ Derek Stoeckel was featured on Minneapolis/St. Paul’s KARE 11 News @4 in a segment about important spring home checks homeowners should make, and Derek’s expertise on the topic. Derek Stoeckel appears on site at a home to point out checks homeowners should make on their homes as spring and summer approach. View the video on KARE 11 News' site, or watch it below.



Friday, April 20, 2012

Spring to it: Cleaning tips for creating a healthy home environment

If your cleaning routine doesn't specifically focus on allergen removal, you may be only moving dust around, sending allergens and irritating cleaning chemicals into the air. To maximize your cleaning efforts to reduce allergens, consider these simple tips from the asthma & allergy friendly Certification Program, the healthy home initiative of the nonprofit Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA):

* You may think dusting your home will help reduce allergens, but if you use a feather duster that simply lifts the dust off surfaces and into the air, you will actually increase airborne dust particles. Instead, use moist cloths or special dry dusters designed to trap and lock dust from hard and soft surfaces.

* Certain cleaning products can also contribute to airborne irritants, especially if they contain harsh chemicals, strong odors or volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Choose products that contain none of these irritants, but also beware of "green" labels, as some of these solutions may be made with natural allergenic ingredients, such as lemon, coconut or tea-tree oils.

* Use a vacuum that has a HEPA filter with tight seams and seals to prevent particles from leaking out while you vacuum. Also, choose a style that requires minimal exposure during canister emptying or bag changes.

* Rodent dander and cockroach particles are common household asthma triggers. However, some pesticides may do more harm than good for people with asthma and allergies. If you have a pest problem, look for an exterminator with expertise in integrated pest management and experience treating homes of people with asthma.

* Whether you have a cat or dog, pet dander is present in most U.S. homes. Your cleaning routine should include frequently washing linens in your bedroom, where cat or dog dander can settle. Place mite-proof bedding on your mattresses and pillows. Wash your bedding at least once a week in 130-degree hot water to kill mites and their eggs.

* Mold, a common allergy trigger, can grow anywhere in your home where moisture is present. Look for cleaning products that help kill and prevent mold from returning. Also, keep household humidity below 50 percent and fix leaky pipes and cracks to reduce standing puddles of moisture where mold can prosper.

* Gather stuffed toys, where dust mites, mold and pet dander can accumulate, and wash them in hot water and dry completely before using again. Place stuffed toys that can't be washed in the freezer for 24 hours, then rinse in cold water to remove dead mites, and dry completely. Do this monthly.

* Lots of air passes through window areas, and airborne dust and allergens accumulate on all types of window treatments - which are rarely cleaned. In the family room and throughout the home, replace big, heavy linen drapes with more sensible window treatments such as wood blinds or flat screens that are easy to wipe and keep clean.

Keep in mind that while consumers spend nearly $18 billion annually on asthma and allergy medications, they also spend more than $20 billion on nonmedical consumer products marketed for people with asthma and allergies such as room air cleaners, bedding, vacuums and more, according to AAFA. While demand for such products continues to grow, there is little regulation governing product claims, the Foundation notes. AAFA's asthma & allergy friendly Certification Program helps consumers evaluate and verify the allergen-reducing effectiveness of a variety of products, from cleaning supplies, air cleaning devices and vacuums to toys, bedding, home improvement products, paints, clothes washers and more. You can learn more at www.AAFA.org/certified.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Franchisee Profile: Michael and Dana Donohue of Colts Neck, NJ

Name: Michael and Dana Donohue

Opening Date: January 16th

Market: New York City/Newark

Location: Colts Neck, NJ

Phone Number:   (732) 778-5306

Q: Where did you grow up?
A: Michael: Bronx, NY
Dana: Staten Island

Q: How did you learn about House Doctors?
A: Mike: I started looking at other opportunities. I looked all over the place and just happened upon House Doctors online. I started to look at the whole franchise opportunity and slowly but surely happened upon House Doctors and continued to look harder at it.

Dana: He did a lot of the research and then we talked about it. You consider doing the business on your own or with a franchise and after looking into it myself, I really thought the franchise was the way to go.

Q: How did you conduct your background check on House Doctors?
A: Mike: I spent a lot of time on the phone with the Vice President of House Doctors that’s charted with the mission of bringing in new franchisees. I did a full and lengthy legal review with my attorney. I put the test out there to many colleagues and close friends that I’ve had over the years and sought their opinions. I had my accountant take a look at it as well. When you do that, you get all different types of feedback and then it’s up to you to filter it all and make a decision.

Dana: It was really mostly internet-based. I looked at their website, who they work with, how their business is run. Once we went out to Ohio for the actual training is when I got kind of an actual feel for them.

Q: Why did you decide to open your own business?
A: Mike: There are pros and cons with working in a corporate environment. You get a lot of stability, a lot of structure and you also get a lot of structure. In some cases there is not a lot of room for an entrepreneurial type of spirit. You’re not really going to change the way the company is set up. It was a long 25 years in the elevator industry as well. I worked a lot of hours per week. My commute invariably was a minimum of an hour and a half each way. I worked 10-11 hours each day and then you add the commute on top of that, it got old. I started to hate it. My friends and colleagues encouraged me to open and run my own business. I was in a position to do it but I said if I was going to do it, I was going to open one right in my backyard. This territory I’m in right here was available. It’s a good territory, it’s a nice size and it’s a great community. It will afford me the opportunity to spend more time with my kids, watch their games, see their plays, which, I missed a lot of that in the last 5-6 years. I feel like I could be my own boss and run an effective business on my own.

Dana: One thing that is nice about having your own business and working from home, there is someone to share the household duties and parenting. He’s now there to do some of the extracurricular activities that he was never able to do. He left at 5 in the morning and got home at 8, 9 o’clock at night. That’s the major advantage is that he’s more accessible to me and the children.

Q: What was most appealing to you about joining a franchise system as opposed to starting your own business?
A: Mike: Once I made a decision to go into business on my own and into this particular business, the only remaining decision was do I do it on my own or do I do it within the franchise? I gave it a lot of thought. I consulted with my wife and friends and so forth. Anytime you go into a new business, whether it’s your own business or a franchise business, you enter that business with a lot of trepidation, you second guess everything. I also put myself in the place of the consumer as well. I asked myself how I make consumers comfortable. I wanted to align myself with something that was more structured, maybe had a bit of a brand to it so it would ease that transition. House Doctors has a well-developed structure including Discovery Day where you go out and meet the corporate team and find out what it is they can do for you. They don’t completely disclose everything. When I left that experience, I remember going to the airport and telling my wife “this is the right way for us right now. I feel more comfortable with the House Doctors franchise team than just doing it on my own and making it happen overnight.” You pay for it, but at the end of the day if the brand does what it’s supposed to do, the cost becomes inconsequential.

Dana: I really liked the corporate support. They have a proven track record. They have everything from the financials to the marketing, everything they have set up. The corporate support is really excellent.

Q: With regard to your previous experience, what skills do you feel helped you in your business?
A: Mike: I believe in taking a look at the whole picture, understanding everything, not just taking a knee-jerk reaction because that’s how people make mistakes. I’m very cognitive of the customer experience. I’ve had hundreds of customers over the years and you really need to be sensitive to their needs. The customers I dealt with in Manhattan are absolutely the toughest customers you’ll ever come across. I always felt that if I could lick this New York thing, and I did for many many years, I could succeed anywhere.

Dana: I was a recruiter for ten years. I really dealt with people in human resources and that’s what this business is all about is building a customer base and putting the customer first. I’ve dealt with employees so that will help with the employees that we hire as well as dealing with the public.

Q: What are your hobbies? What do you like to do for fun? What activities do you enjoy on weekends?
A: Mike: We have four kids that keep us very busy. I have three girls and a boy ranging in age from 6 to 10. They keep us very busy with various activities and so forth. I love to fish, anything that’s really related to the outdoors. I also really love to play golf but I feel like I haven’t played in such a long time, so that’s something I want to get back into. Swimming, anything that’s beach related, that sort of things.

Dana: I’m an avid tennis player. I play locally and competitively. It’s my physical outlet and my social outlet aside from my kids.

Q: How many jobs is your location going to create?
A: Mike: Initially it’ll create two full-time jobs in the first 60 days. I’m going to hire a full-time technician which will be the person we hire to do our fixing out in the field. I’m also going to hire a full-time customer service person. That person will work solely in the office and handle all the phone calls, scheduling and day to day office tasks. I’m hoping that within the first year I add at least another two full-time jobs. By the end of the year, I want to have 2-3 FT technicians and one customer service.

Q: How does your business connect with the local community?
A: Mike: It’s another area that I’m new at. Once we launch, we will be out there networking. I’ll be joining local organizations like the business network, the Better Business Bureau, and as a result of becoming familiar with and involved with those groups. As a result of that, I’m expecting to be more involved in the community. I’m involved in Boy Scouts with my son. I envision that to just continue to grow, those kinds of relationships.

Dana: We’re basically servicing the members of the community. We are a local business, we want to support our local businesses as well as our local families. We live in a small tight-knit community.

Q: What are some of your achievements (professionally or personally) that you think will help you along the way in your business?
A: Mike: I didn’t get my college degree out of high school. I went to college while I was working for my first employer in the elevator industry. I went at night and got a full four-year degree in five years while working full-time. I can tell you I killed myself to do it. I just never let anything slow me down. When I believe in something and make a decision to do it, I go out and do it. My wife and I don’t look back, we move forward, we support it and we make it happen. I never complained about the work, you just get out there and you do it. I’m expecting to grow it to where I can some day pass it on to my kids. We’re not taking this business on to struggle. I’m expecting to grow this so that the community sees a House Doctors van every 2-3 days. I want to be a household name locally because when people in the area have a problem, they call us and we take care of it.

Dana: I think that my personality is a good fit in terms of networking. Accomplishment-wise, kind of being part of the community and staying on top.

Q: What are your expansion or development plans?
A: Mike: I would like to have ten technicians within 5-7 years. I think it’s doable. We’re starting in the slow months and I’m not that disappointed in that because I want to get out there, I want to grow the business at a slow rate right now. Now is when we’re going to make our mistakes. I want to make my mistakes now, I want to understand what went wrong and fix it right on the spot. The more I do that over and over, when the business starts to ramp up and now I have a business model that continues to get stronger. You combine the business model with great networking and advertising, the business grows.

Dana: Right now we’re focusing on Monmouth County. Once that is developed and running well, we’ll move into Ocean County, NJ. After that, the sky’s the limit. We’re hoping that Monmouth and Ocean Counties become really successful. We have four children and one of them could take over the business 20 years.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

House Doctors featured on WISH-TV Indy Style

House Doctors was recently featured in a segment on WISH-TV Indy Style. House Doctor Franchisee Erik 
Prock of Hamilton County gave demonstrations on how to correctly caulk around the tub and weather strip your doors. Erik also brought in samples of a dirty dryer filter and incandescent light bulbs designed to help home owners save money. Click here to view the segment or watch it below.
 

 
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