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Jennifer Ratcliff's Blog

By Jennifer Ratcliff | Agent in Knoxville, TN
  • Get ready to enjoy your home's exterior beauty

    Posted Under: General Area in Powell  |  June 4, 2013 11:19 AM  |  318 views  |  No comments


    (BPT) - It's time to make your home's exterior shine with some added summer curb appeal. You can quickly do the easy stuff - wash your windows, plant annuals, install pathway lights - to spruce things up. But you should also consider those projects you've been avoiding.

    * Is your wood deck cracked, gray and seen better days, but still structurally sound? Do you have a concrete patio that is patched, cracked and just unsightly? Instead of replacing it, resurface your deck, patio or sidewalk. This isn't a back-breaking, time-consuming job anymore. RESCUE IT! Wood and Concrete Resurfacer is easy to use with standard paint and stain supplies. The 100-percent acrylic formula fills in cracks up to a quarter-inch wide, according to manufacturer Olympic. Choose from 110 colors to match your current color scheme or create a new one. The resurfacer creates a mildew- and slip-resistant finish that provides waterproofing protection. This product is available at select Lowe's stores. For more information, go to Olympic.com.

    * Banish weeds from your landscape. Of course, this isn't easy. Dandelions seem to pop up overnight. Weeds arrive in nursery containers, packaged grass seed and even your pet's paws. You need to be diligent in removing them, especially before they have a chance to seed and spread. If you apply an herbicide, remember that these products are non-selective, which means they'll destroy anything green, from weeds to grass. Talk to an expert at your favorite nursery or garden store about solutions.

    * Refresh your wooden fence and deck furniture. Give them fresh, new looks or just refresh the current finish for your next summer get-together. Olympic Exterior Stains will go a long way in extending the life of your exterior wood, providing durability throughout the years. They provide a waterproof and mildew-resistant coating that will help your wood stand up to all the seasons. You'll find products for all wood types, applications and budgets available at your local Lowe's stores. For more information go to Olympic.com.

    * Make sure all your hoses and sprinklers work. Before it's time to water your landscape, test all of your hoses. When you run water through them, do you see water spraying through cracks? Attach your sprinklers to your hoses and turn on the water, to see if all the holes in the sprinkler send out adequate supplies of water. It could be time to buy some new hoses or sprinklers.

    * Get your mower ready for the season. Put in some gas and turn on the engine. How does it sound? You might need to buy some new gas, too - don't depend on gas left over from last year. If you haven't had your mower tuned by a professional for several years, this might be the time for it.

    Get the jump on these outdoor chores, so that you'll be able to enjoy many months of relaxing fun in the sun.

  • Clearing the air: What an HVAC cleaner should really do in your home

    Posted Under: General Area in Powell  |  September 5, 2012 4:42 AM  |  101 views  |  No comments

    (ARA) – Those statistics about indoor air pollution and it’s relation to respiratory problems convinced you it was time to get your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC) cleaned. You were even looking forward to the increased energy efficiency that a clean system can provide. But $49 and one very noisy service call later, you’re still sneezing and you haven’t seen any dip in your energy bill.

    What happened?

    “A very low service charge may indicate the service provider isn’t performing a thorough cleaning and maintenance of your home’s entire HVAC system,” says Matt Mongiello, president of NADCA, the HVAC Inspection, Maintenance & Restoration Association. “He or she may have done nothing more than blow air through the ducts and clean off vent grills inside the home. A cleaning performed to NADCA standards – which are cited by the EPA as a best practice – encompasses much more than just the ductwork.”

    HVAC companies are among the top 10 industries with the most complaints, according to the Better Business Bureau. So how can a homeowner know if a service provider is doing a good job, or just blowing hot air?

    The EPA recommends you interview companies to ensure they have experience working on your type of system, that they will take steps to protect your home and everyone in it from contamination, and that they comply with NADCA’s air duct cleaning standards.

    NADCA members carry general liability insurance, have at least one person on staff trained and certified as an Air Systems Cleaning Specialist, and clean and restore heating and cooling systems following the association’s standards and guidelines. A job done to NADCA standards should include:

    * A thorough inspection of the HVAC system before doing any work, and full disclosure of any problems discovered during the inspection.

    * Examination of metal ductwork at several random sites to ensure the interior surfaces are free of visible debris.

    * Cleaning of both the supply and return air ductwork.

    * Removal, cleaning and resetting of all supply registers, return air grilles and diffusers.

    * Cleaning of the supply and return air plenums.

    * Inspection and/or installation of access panels.

    * Cleaning of the air-stream side of the heat exchanger and cleaning of the secondary heat exchanger.

    * Removal, cleaning and reassembly of the blower motor.

    * Cleaning and inspection of the blower blades and blower compartment.

    * Cleaning of the evaporator coil, drain and pan. If the cooling coil is clean, light should shine through it when you point a flashlight at the coils.

    * Inspection and repair of the coil fins if needed.

    * Replacement of air filters.

    * Washing of the air cleaner.

    While some companies may tout “duct-cleaning” for very low prices, be wary of these offers,

    Mongiello, advises. “A cleaning typically costs between $450 and $1,000 per heating and cooling system, depending on the services offered, the size of the system, how easily accessible it is, the climate in your region and how dirty it is,” he says.

    Many of those variables will influence how long the job takes, too. Before you hire a contractor, contact at least two NADCA member companies to provide you with a time estimate for the job. “You’ll get an idea of how long the job should take,” Mongiello says. “But in general, a service provider who’s in and out of your home in an hour or less may be leaving out some steps that are necessary to do the job right.”

    Finally, Mongiello advises, feel free to stick around while the technicians do their job. “As long as the homeowner’s presence isn’t compromising anyone’s safety, there’s no reason a consumer can’t observe how a job is done,” he says.

    To find a NADCA-certified HVAC cleaning company in your area, visit www.nadca.com.

  • Tips for a secure home and peace of mind

    Posted Under: General Area in Powell  |  December 22, 2011 4:24 AM  |  309 views  |  No comments

    Tips for a secure home and peace of mind

    (ARA) – Homeowners often worry about keeping their homes safe and secure for their families. And it’s no wonder: nearly 70 percent of home break-ins are in the form of kick-ins to a door, according to the U. S. Department of Justice.

    You have many easy and affordable options for ensuring a safer home, and ultimately, greater peace of mind. Here’s a home security checklist to get you started.

    Assess the perimeter. Walk around your yard at different times of the day to judge lighting and shadows. Think about how family members enter and exit the home from different doorways. Do you have sufficient exterior lighting to ensure that they can enter your home, can see and can be seen? Install better lighting near every entrance. Take a look at your landscaping from an intruder’s point of view. Plant some thorny or prickly shrubbery below the windows and next to entrances so there’s no place for someone to hide in waiting.

    Add an alarmed lock. Most alarm systems trigger after a door has already been opened. However, if you don’t have an alarm system, an alarmed lock is a great alternative, and will allow you to instantly hear what’s happening at your door. For example, Schlage, a leader in home security, offers a first-of-its-kind Keyed Entry With Built-In Alarm. It’s an alarmed lock with the added safeguard of a sensor alarm that lets you know when it is being tampered with. It has three alarm modes, which can be set to alert you to different types of activity at the door – when it’s been open and closed, when it’s been tampered with and when there’s been a forced entry.

    “An alarmed lock provides an added layer of security that many homeowners’ are looking for and can put their minds at ease,” says Chris DeSchamp, Schlage portfolio leader, electronic security.        

    The battery-operated units, which can be seen at www.alarm.schlage.com, costs around $99 and are easy to install and are available at select The Home Depot stores, homedepot.com, lowes.com, amazon.com and build.com.

    Safeguard the windows. Make sure your windows are also set up for security. Install quality window locks that keep windows in a closed position, to avoid giving criminals an open invitation to enter. Manufacturers offer a variety of options to safeguard different types of windows including double-hung and casement windows.

    Enhance security of glass and wooden doors. Make sure all your sliding glass and patio doors have at least one of the following to prevent them from being opened: a track lock, a hinged door bar, an insertion pin lock or a metal or wood dowel inserted into the track that allows it to be opened only when you wish. It’s also a good idea to equip each wooden door with a wide-angle eye viewer so you can identify who may be at the door before opening it.

    Monitor home security while you’re away. With today’s technologies, it’s easier and more affordable than ever to monitor and control your home’s security even if you’re not home. For example, the Schlage LiNK System lets you use any computer connected to the Internet or Web-enabled cell phone to turn lights on and off, check the status of the door, grant entry into the home, open and close blinds, and many more functions.  

    By making these easy steps to upgrade your home’s security, you’ll not only gain more protection for your family, but you’ll also gain the best security of all – total peace of mind. For more home security ideas, visit www.schlage.com.

  • Know Your Neighborhood

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Powell, Home Selling in Powell, In My Neighborhood in Powell  |  April 16, 2011 7:49 AM  |  315 views  |  1 comment
    When you buy a home, you're investing in a community. You'll spend a significant amount of time and money supporting the schools, community organizations and commercial centers in the surrounding areas. Before you make the final decision, take a good look at the location and make sure it fits your needs.

    •  Evaluate the properties proximity to other important locations in your life. How long will your commute time be? Is there a hospital or doctor's office nearby? What about schools, childcare, shopping, family and friends?

    •  Consider all of your transportation options. A new home could lend itself to public transportation options or car-pooling. Depending on the type of community, you may be able to find alternative methods of transportation. Take the time to drive from the new home to your commuting destinations to understand the impact it will have on your lifestyle.

    •  Visit and understand the school district you'll be moving in to. Even if you don't have children in the school system now, you may some day. The district reputation could positively or negatively impact the selling price as well.

    •  Make sure you feel comfortable in the area. Drive around the neighborhood at different times of the day and night on multiple days of the week to observe activity/noise levels. Discovering that barking dog next door or noisy road conditions will eliminate unneeded stress from a hasty decision.

    Contact me for a list of schools, shopping centers, parks or other important amenities. Buying a new home is about more than the structure and property. It's about your new lifestyle as well.

    Information taken from Century 21 eCampaign
  • Things to Consider When Searching for a Home

    Posted Under: General Area in Powell, Home Buying in Powell, In My Neighborhood in Powell  |  April 8, 2011 8:56 PM  |  289 views  |  1 comment

    Before deciding which house to buy, think about your lifestyle, your current and anticipated housing needs, and your budget. It’s a good idea to create a prioritized list of features you want in your next home – you'll soon discover finding the right house involves striking a balance between your "must-haves" and your "nice-to-haves." To start, consider your lifestyle. If you love to cook, you'll want a well-equipped kitchen. If you're into gardening, you'll want a yard. If you're planning your office at home, you may want a room for a separate library or work space. If you have several cars, you may require a larger garage. Use this list as your search guide. Next, think about what you might need in the future. As you consider your housing needs, it's important to consider how long you may live in your home. If you're newly married, you might not be concerned with a school district right now, but you could be in a few years. If you have aging parents, you may want to look at homes that offer living arrangements for them as well as you. It’s important to think about your new home’s location just as carefully as you do about a house’s features. Location is a huge part of any move. In addition to considering the distance to work, you need to evaluate the availability of shopping, police and fire protection, medical facilities, school and day-care, traffic and parking, trash and garbage collection, even recreational facilities. Perhaps the most important decision is deciding on the type of home you want. Do you want a condominium or a co-op? A town house or a detached single-family home? Do you want brick, stone, stucco, wood, vinyl siding, or something else? Do you prefer a new home or an older one? Through all of this, make sure to talk to your real estate professional about where you want to live. While more buyers now use the Internet to gain access to listings, or available properties for sale, it is still a good idea to use an agent. The agent brings value to the entire process: he or she is available to analyze data, answer questions, share their professional expertise, and handle all the paperwork and legwork that is involved in the real estate transaction. CENTURY 21 professionals have the expertise to help their clients narrow down their choices by sharing market trends and local information. (Century 21 News)

    Call me, Jennifer Ratcliff, to help you find the home of your dreams!


    Posted Under: Home Buying in Powell, Home Selling in Powell, In My Neighborhood in Powell  |  April 8, 2011 8:46 AM  |  261 views  |  No comments

    The CENTURY 21 Real Estate Mobile Search is the ultimate field tool for homebuyers!

    Looking for a new home? The CENTURY 21 Real Estate Mobile Search can help! By utilizing any phones’ location technology, the app allows users to get a sense of place and community within the areas of their home search.

    Click here to get your mobile app now!!

    Jennifer Ratcliff, Affiliate Broker, REALTOR, Historic Homes Specialist

    (865) 531-2121   CELL: (865) 387-7799   jenniferratcliff.com

     ”Jennifer is the most helpful and patient person I have ever met. It took us almost a year to find a house and she never quit working around the clock for us. I know that when we buy our next home she will be the first person we call!” – C. Bird, Knoxville

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