Category Archives: Housing

Home repairs

Annie was telling me how her son has spent a small fortune renovating his house in Houston. They had a problem with severe storms and flooding in his neighborhood, so the insurance company has helped with some of the repairs. Of course, that is never enough and they have done a lot of work out of pocket.

They just finished replacing the siding with a new product he heard about at a home show. If you’ve ever been to Houston, you know how humid it is, and the humidity causes a lot of problems with mold and mildew. This new siding helps fight that. He searched for a Houston pergolas contractor on the internet and got lucky – they did a great job.

Surge Protectors

We have a variety of surge protectors scattered around the house and don’t usually give them much thought. I have felt like I did my part – buying not the cheapest but reasonably priced equipment and protecting my electronics.

All of this expense and effort on my part was completely wasted this morning when lightning hit my house. It burned a hole by the front door, attracted by a tiny finishing nail that was holding the trim onto the wall. The lightning made the doorbell ring and then everything that was plugged into a wall socket came on for a brief instant and then everything went permanently dark. The computers, the printer, the TVs, the surround sound speakers, my fairly new rex speaker, the component stereo, the Playstation, the Wii, the telephone, the DVD player – all are dead.

All my electronics fried, even though they were plugged into surge protectors. I guess the lightning was too big of a surge for them to work. I don’t know what else I could have done to protect my electronics other than completely unplugging them from the wall every night before bed. Who wants to do that every night?

Passive Income

Two of my favorite words are “passive income.” That loosely means money you make without having to work for it. Almost everyone understands the concept of interest bearing savings accounts.That’s a good example of passive income, although in today’s world you aren’t going to make much money on bank accounts The next baby step to earn interest on your money is to buy a CD, which has lots of rules about how long you have to keep it, penalties if you cash in early, etc. Most people understand that, too, and it’s a great introduction to investments.

So if you understand those basics and come into a windfall of cash, you are suddenly faced with a lot of other investment options. That’s when you need to find a good investment counselor and have a professional go over your whole financial picture with you and plan out a future based on risk levels, comfort levels, time you have to oversee your investments, how quickly you can get it if you need it, and market conditions.

A relatively new investment tool for real estate, called Tenants In Common, or TIC. This is similar to a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) that become quite the fad about 10 years ago. REITS are formed when a group of investors pool their money together to buy commercial properties as investments. The money they put in becomes shares of stock and as their property makes money the investors get paid dividends on their shares. A lot of community shopping centers are owned by REITS.

A TIC is also a way to pool your money together with other people, but you don’t get shares of stock, you own a share of the deed on the real property that you buy. Of course there are rules about buying and selling TIC property, and you have tax benefits and financial risks, just like other investments, but this might be an attractive investment option for you. If you are interested in learning more about TIC, check out this website by Cardea Commercial and talk it over with your financial planner.

Landscaping Project

We only have a couple more weeks of winter, according to the groundhog. I’m so ready for the sunny days of spring and color coming back to the yards. Everything has been grey and brown for months, and I need to see some pastels soon!

I want to have more plants this year, but since I am limited to the deck they will have to be in containers. I plan to have both flowers and vegetables sprouting from clay pots by April 15th. For now, at least I can brighten up everything with some LED lights. Ever since I saw the way the owners of the B&B in Tampa put LED lights around the patio and in the trees of their backyard, I’ve wanted to replicate that effect here at home.

I found a really cool website that is more like a blog than a traditional website, and it gives you a bunch of helpful information about LED landscape lighting lamps and all the new developments in the lighting industry that I never knew until I read about it here.

The articles are short and easy to read, and I learned a lot by just scanning through the first page of and also reading their forum.

For instance, did you kow that LED lights are being used in stop lights in some cities, like Knoxville? LED lights are more energy efficient and easier to see than traditional traffic lights.

Forget about the old halogen lights – you will want to switch to the new LED lights because they not only look better but they are more efficient, last longer and cost less to operate and maintain. I bet you’ve noticed some people in your own neighborhood who have installed LED landscaping lights and you can really tell the difference, can’t you?

And, there was an episode on “This Old House” that shows how easy it is to install LED lights in your yard with a step-by-step guide. The website has a link to that if you want to watch it or read the guide. I love that show – it has given me lots of good ideas over the years and he always give me the confidence I need to take on a new project.

Can’t wait for Lizard Lighting to launch their online catalogue of lighting this spring so I can buy what I want from them!

Rowdy Neighbors

My condo building is one block off the busiest street in uptown Nashville and very close to the Vanderbilt campus. Not to brag, but it is an upscale area and we hardly every hear police sireins and any loud noises. The neighbors are just too well bred and polite for all that drama.

For some reason, last night there was drama just down the street. When I got home all was quiet, but right before the late night news we heard a lot of shouting and banging. My first thought was that someone was trying to warn neighbors of a fire or something bad, and I was reluctant to go outside but then again I couldn’t really tell what was going on and I was curious.

Across the street, the house on the corner has some Vandy students living there. Not really a fraternity house, just a private residence that the owner rents to students. Well, I guess it was a dispute among those guys over a parking situation. One guy was blocked in the driveway and he yelling at another guy and revving the engine loudly. The other guy would not get in his car to move it out of the way, so the first one got out by driving across the grass, bashing the trash cans that were still at the curb and hitting another car that was parked on the street.

Both Metro cops and the Vandy police were on the scene in a flash, but the guy did drive off, tires squealing, and I’m sure they will catch up with him before long. At least no one was hurt and it was over pretty quick. I also suspect the neighbors will be in touch with the owner of the house with some kind of nasty threats. Ahh, can’t say yesterday was boring anyway!Â