The Lord of the Residence

Being in NYC, we know finding great housing can be a challenge to say the least. When you finally do find that perfect apartment (in Brooklyn, naturally), you don’t want to ever let it go! You might feel like the king of the (Boerum) hill, but the real lord of this land is the person you pay rent to, and if they are your best bud, you could be home sweet home forever. Here are some tips for fostering a flourishing landlord-tenant relationship.


8-Tips-to-Help-You-Get-Along-With-Your-Landlord-Say-HiNice Advice
This should go without saying, but pile the smile! Be friendly, be honest and be reasonable. Wave hi or stop for a quick chat when you see your landlord. Come holiday time, send your landlord a small gift. Report any problems as soon as possible, because small problems can turn into catastrophic ones if ignored. For minor stuff, DIY! Replace the light bulb or batteries in the smoke detector yourself. Be clean and respectful – be the kind of neighbor you would want to live next to, and the kind of tenant you would want to rent to.


Put on a Pro ShowWoman's hand holding a pen writing
How do you behave in the workplace? Are you courteous, efficient, a good communicator? Your relationship with your landlord is an investment, and you should consider your interactions in a professional context. Respect the rules set out in your lease and treat your landlord’s property with care. As with important business interactions, get everything in writing. Try to correspond via email when possible – this will protect both of you and reduce the risk of miscommunication. In the event that something goes wrong, be aware of your rights. There is legislation in place nationwide to protect tenants from discrimination, negligence and other issues that may arise.



Rent Well Spent
A day late really is a dollar short if you get in the habit of paying rent late. Just as a homeowner needs to pay a monthly mortgage, many landlords depend on rental income to fund their mortgages. Late rent is not only disrespectful but can result in late fees, or even eviction. Of course there are legitimate reasons for late rent, and having a positive relationship may mean your landlord is open to negotiation. It is essential to discuss any concerns regarding rent with your landlord ASAP. Always strive to pay your rent on time, if not early!



The Company You Keep
If you have a bad track record with landlords, it might be time to consider a building with a management company. Generally these companies have a good reputation and they require good reviews and positive ratings to stay afloat. Although this means living in a larger complex or building with more tenants, management companies usually have more organized and professional systems in place for maintaining and fixing your apartment. Oftentimes they’ll even give you a checklist when you move-in to make sure everything is satisfactory.




How D-I-Wise are you? 4 Skills to Brush Up On

There are some home repairs that we wouldn’t recommend – think asbestos removal and electrical, gas and roof repairs… For the smaller tasks though, why pay a pro when you can do it yourself? Having these tricks up your sleeve will save you money, give you the satisfaction of having done the job yourself, and give you the right to tell people you’re “handy”!


showerGet A(Shower)head
Let your worries wash away – replacing your shower-head is one chill skill! If your current shower-head is old, has poor water pressure, or maybe you want to install a filtered unit or save water with a low-flow variety, don’t put off updating it any longer. Remove your old shower-head using an adjustable 8-inch wrench. Remove any excess dirt, rubber gaskets or tape from around the pipe with a rag. Wrap the threads of the pipe with a couple of layers of Teflon or Plumber’s Tape. Hand-tighten your new shower-head onto the pipe clock-wise. Turn on the shower and if there are any leaks around the seal, hand-tighten more and test again.


drainNo Pain, Clear Drain
Some of those older Brooklyn buildings come with some sensitive pipes! Don’t go putting your plumber on speed dial just yet though. If water is backing up in your sink and a liquid drain treatment hasn’t worked, don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and unclog it yourself! If you have an attached drain plug or stopper that is controlled from a latch behind your sink, detach that first from under your sink. Then use needle nose pliers or a long piece of wire to pull up the hair or dirt clog creation, and voila! A skill that could save you a big bill!



Stained for Good
This is one stain that’s good for your reputation! Top-grade professional wood staining can cost big bucks. In most cases, this is a project you can do yourself. First mix up the stain until you get a consistent color. Dip a brush into the stain and paint the wood going along the grain. Let the stain set for 15 minutes – the longer you leave it, the darker the wood! After you’ve let it set, wipe the wood with a rag, again along the grain. Leave the wood somewhere cool and dry for at least four hours.


patch a hole

A Skill to Fill
Holes in your walls from hanging art, shelves, clocks, mirrors, photos? Guilty! Lucky there’s a quick, cheap fix to those unsightly spots. Purchase some lightweight spackle, a putty knife and some sandpaper. Use a corner of the putty knife to scoop out a small amount of spackle and fill the hole. Use the straight edge of the knife to smooth and even out the spackle. Let it dry for a few hours then sand the area lightly with your sandpaper, blending the spackle into the surrounding drywall.

The Countertop Choice Checklist

Before chopping, mixing and beating your first culinary creation in your new home, some of us will have the opportunity to slice and dice the family budget to consider fresh countertops. Here are our top tips for choosing the kitchen countertop for you.

If you’re in the market for a new countertop, visit locals Italian Tile NYC, Express Brooklyn and galactic tiles.


Gorgeous granite

The number one natuRULE option is granite thanks to its unique variation compared to manufactured tops. Granite countertops have gone from rare to readily accessible as an increased number of fabricators has led to affordable variations in slabs, colors and edgings. Mavens for mottlings will love granite’s unique look and its durability against splashes, knife nicks, heat and other wear and tear. On the other hand, it must be sealed every so often to avoid stains and its heaviness requires sturdy cabinet boxes to support the weight.

Expect to pay $75 to $125 per square foot, installed.


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The blank canvas

The magic of the man-made is on full display when it comes to these mostly acrylic and polyester surfaces with a plethora of colors and patterns to choose from. In addition to creating a Picasso for the kitchen with turquoise or tomato canary yellow experiments, they can be formed into nearly any shape and size; sinks can be undermounted; and joined sections, when installed correctly, leave a modern clean finish.

Solid surfaces often trump the field when it comes to the election of countertops because it’s nonporous (not affected by water, air or other fluids) and is low maintenance. While sealing or special cleaning is not required, light sanding may be needed when subjected to burns or scratches. However solid surfaces can look blatantly artificial and may be jarring when in contrast with other furniture in your home.

Expect to pay $45 to $75 per square foot, installed.


The quartz compromise

Bringing together the beauty of stone and the low maintenance of solid surfacing, quartz countertops are crafted of resin and quartz chips tinted with color. This man-made product is engiNEAR to the real thing as like genuine stone, quartz is an extremely hard surface, which is excellent for durability but also slippery and cold to touch. Because it is engineered, there’s a wide range of colors and patterns to choose from. Connoisseur of countertops however may notice quartz lacks the variegation of granite and at times can appear ‘fake’. While it can be pricey, its durability can be worth the investment.

Expect to pay $65 to $85 per square foot, installed.



Handy Halloween Hints for Fall Craft

Looking for cost-effective gall decoration ideas the whole family can enjoy making? Freak, and you shall find.

Here are our top 4 easy DIY decorating picks.

Show some local love and get your supplies from EconoCrafts and Michaels.

Ready, set, ghost!

151027 - ghostSave time and dimes with this tricky display that’s sure to be a treat. All you need is a liter soda bottle, starch, cheese cloth, an old towel, scrap piece of felt, Styrofoam ball (preferably white), scissor and wire.

After covering your work area with a towel (starch washes off easily!), place the foam ball on top of the clear bottle. Use a wire to create the ghost’s arms, lay the cheesecloth over your display and spray it down with starch.

You can even use a hair dryer to speed up the drying time. Once the starch is dry, pull it off and glue on some felt eyes. It’s dead easy!

Knock knock. A mummy’s there!

Before the doors are opened to unlimited candy, give the kids a scare.

As you date your front door by thousands of years, take your own step back in time by running your childhood fingers through good ole fashioned crepe paper streamers! You’ll also need 2 circles of white printer paper and two slightly smaller circles of black paper (or use black contact paper for a real throwback that’ll stick directly on!).

Then it’s time to wrap, wrap, wrap it up. Use double-sided tape to keep each strip in place and criss cross your strands in various directions for the best effect.

Eye spy

151027 - eyesJust toilet paper rolls and glow sticks go a long way.

Simply draw eyes onto the toilet paper roll, most effective with lashes or slits so they’re not just plane oval shapes. Cut the eyes out and leave a cracked glow stock inside.

For those of you lucky enough to have front and back yards with lush trees (like some of our huge homeowners in Madison and Gravesend!), hide these glowing eyes among the bushes and shrubs to terrorize the trick-or-treaters.

A handy tip redy to scare

Mixing Elmer’s glue with red food coloring will give you a bloody great time. It’ll cling to just about any smooth surface. The insides of windows are an obvious choice. Our tip? Cover your chosen area with clear plastic wrap first so that the post-party clean up is just peeling it off – no scrubbing!