Blog :: 03-2020

#StayHome: How to Create Functional Spaces in Your Home During the Coronavirus Outbreak

 

Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), many of us are spending a lot more time at home. We’re all being called upon to avoid public spaces and practice social distancing to help slow the spread of this infectious disease. While it can be understandably challenging, there are ways you can modify your home and your lifestyle to make the best of this difficult situation.

 

Here are a few tips for creating comfortable and functional spaces within your home for work, school, and fitness. We also share some of our favorite ways to stay connected as a community, because we’re all in this together … and no one should face these trying times alone.

 

 

Begin with the Basics

 

A basic home emergency preparedness kit is a great addition to any home, even under normal circumstances. It should include items like water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, first aid kit, and other essentials you would need should you temporarily lose access to food, water, or electricity.

 

Fortunately, authorities don’t anticipate any serious interruptions to utilities or the food supply during this outbreak. However, it may be a good time to start gathering your emergency basics in a designated location, so you’ll be prepared now-—and in the future—should your family ever need them.

 

Working From Home

 

Many employees are being asked to work remotely. If you’re transitioning to a home office for the first time, it’s important to create a designated space for work … so it doesn’t creep into your home life, and vice versa. If you live in a small condominium or apartment, this may feel impossible. But try to find a quiet corner where you can set up a desk and comfortable chair. The simple act of separating your home and work spaces can help you focus during work hours and “turn off” at the end of the day.

 

Of course, if you have children who are home with you all day (given many schools and daycares are now closed), separating your home and work life will be more difficult. Unless you have a partner who can serve as the primary caregiver, you will need to help manage the needs of your children while juggling work and virtual meetings.

 

If both parents are working from home, try alternating shifts, so you each have a designated time to work and to parent. If that’s not an option, experts recommend creating a schedule for your children, so they know when you’re available to play, and when you need to work.1 A red stop sign on the door can help remind them when you shouldn’t be disturbed. And for young children, blocking off a specific time each day for them to nap or have independent screen time can give you a window to schedule conference calls or work uninterrupted.

 

 

Homeschooling Your Children

 

Many parents with school-aged children will be taking on a new challenge: homeschooling. Similar to a home office, designating a space for learning activities can help your child transition between play and school. If you’re working from home, the homeschooling area would ideally be located near your workspace, so you can offer assistance and answer questions, as needed.

 

If possible, dedicate a desk or table where your child’s work can be spread out—and left out when they break for meals and snacks. Position supplies and materials nearby so they are independently accessible, and place a trash can and recycling bin within reach for easy cleanup. A washable, plastic tablecloth can help transition an academic space into an arts and crafts area.

 

 If the weather is nice, try studying outside! A porch swing is a perfect spot for reading, and gardening in the backyard is a great addition to any science curriculum.

 

In addition to creating an academic learning environment, find age-appropriate opportunities for your children to help with household chores and meal preparation. Homeschooling advocates emphasize the importance of developing life skills alongside academic ones.2 And with more meals and activities taking place at home, there will be ample opportunity for every family member to pitch in and help.

 

 

Staying Fit

 

With gyms closed and team sports canceled, it can be tempting to sit on the sofa and binge Netflix. However, maintaining the physical health and mental wellness of you and your family is crucial right now. Implementing a regular exercise routine at home can help with both.

 

We live in a community where you can safely exercise outdoors while maintaining the recommended distance between you and other residents, try to get out as much as possible. If the weather is nice, go for family walks, jogs, or bike rides.

 

Can’t get outside? Fortunately, you don’t need a home gym or fancy exercise equipment to stay fit. Look for a suitable space in your home, garage, or basement where you can comfortably move—you’ll probably need at least a 6’ x 6’ area for each person. Many cardio and strength training exercises require little (or no) equipment, including jumping jacks, lunges, and pushups.

 

And if you prefer a guided workout, search for free exercise videos on YouTube—there are even options specifically geared towards kids—or try one of the many fitness apps available.

 

 

Socializing From a Distance

 

Even though we’re all being called upon to practice “social distancing” right now, there are still ways to stay safely connected to our communities and our extended families. Picking up the phone is a great place to start. Make an effort to reach out to neighbors and loved ones who live alone and may be feeling particularly isolated right now.

 

And while parties and playdates may be prohibited, modern technology offers countless ways to organize networked gatherings with family and friends. Try using group video conferencing tools like Google Hangouts and Zoom to facilitate a virtual happy hour or book club. Host a Netflix Party to watch (and chat about) movies with friends. Or plan a virtual game night and challenge your pals to a round of Psych or Yahtzee.

 

There are safe ways to connect offline, too. Rediscover the lost art of letter writing. Drop off groceries on an elderly neighbor’s porch. Or organize a neighborhood “chalk walk,” where children use sidewalk chalk to decorate their driveways and then head out for a stroll to view their friends’ artwork.

 

Of course, there’s one group of people who you can still socialize with freely—those who reside in your home. Family dinners are back, siblings are reconnecting, and many of us have been given the gift of time, with commutes, activities, and obligations eliminated. In fact, some families are finding that this crisis has brought them closer than ever.

 

 

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

 

Even with all of the tools and technology available to keep us connected, many of us are still feeling stressed, scared, and isolated. However, you can rest assured that you are not alone. We’re not only here to help you buy and sell real estate. We want to be a resource to our clients and community through good times and bad. If you and your family are in need of assistance, please reach out and let us know how we can help. (978)664-3700

 

 

 

Sources:

  1. CNBC -
    https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/16/how-to-work-from-home-with-your-kids-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.html
  2. TheHomeSchoolMom.com -
    https://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/benefits-of-homeschooling-2/

Septic Systems-A Topic North of Boston Buyers And Sellers Need To Understand

 

Septic Systems:

A Topic North of Boston Buyer's And Seller's Need To Understand

A Septic System is defined as an on-site wastewater disposal system that treats wastewater - usually under 10,000 gallons per day.  Think of it as your own mini wastewater treatment facility.  By wastewater I mean what comes out of your household plumbing fixtures like your toilet, sink, shower, and laundry.  These are common when a community doesn't have a public sewer system like North Reading for instance.  Roughly 1 in 5 homes in the US have septic systems with the New England states having the highest proportion of homes served by septic system led by VT@ (55%).  The major components of a septic system are the tank, the distribution box (or D-Box) and the leaching field. 

In real general terms here’s how it works.... The wastewater leaves the house and enters a tank where the solids separate from the water and are decomposed there by bacteria.  Bacteria are good.  Bacteria are your friend.  The wastewater then leaves the tank, entering the D-Box which distributes it into a network of lines in a trench (or leaching field) where drainage holes in these lines allow the water to eventually seep into the ground after again being treated by a layer of gravels & soils. 

Mass adopted a regulation in 1975 known as Title V which was most recently revised in 2006.  This regulation is used to determine as to whether the on-site wastewater disposal system is adequate to protect public health and the environment.

From a seller’s perspective, the first thing you should consider doing once the decision has been made that you are selling your home is to get your septic system inspected.  If your system passes, you can move forward and concentrate on all the other aspects of getting your home market ready.  You’ll be issued a Title V certificate which is good for 2 years (or 3 if you have record of pumping every year).  Residential transactions between the following parties are exempt from Title V:  spouses, parents, children, siblings, or a trust.  Title transfer under any of these scenarios DO NOT require Title V.  Refinances are also exempt.  Weather conditions may prevent an inspection from taking place prior to sale.  If that’s the case, it must be completed within 6 months. 

If your system fails, you’ll now begin working with an engineer, a licensed installer, the local board of health and be required to pull a construction permit.  Anyone at Farrelly Realty can provide you with a list of preferred contractors to get the job done.  Installation of a new system could run upwards of 50K with the entire process realistically taking 3-4 months.  Therefore, it is critical to get this done immediately.  If you fail, this does not necessarily mean you cannot sell your home until its replaced.  The buyer’s lender may approve a holdback which means putting 1.5X the cost of the project into escrow for work to be done post close.  That money will cover the cost of installation with the remainder returned to the seller.  A holdback can also be used if you are selling in the winter months and perhaps your system failed, and installations have stopped for the season.  A cash transaction will also not require Title V, but the system will still need to be replaced within 2 years. 

Some of the more common reasons for failing are: too much water (which dilutes the bacteria which is needed to digest the waste), backup sewage, discharge to ground surface, system requires pumping more than 4 times per year, leaching field is not draining properly or within a certain distance from various water sources. 

You may also “conditionally” pass which means you only have to repair part of the system rather than replace the entire system.  Some of the more common repairs may be replacing the D-Box or a cracked tank. 

Not only is this an extremely pricey project but it may also be an unexpected one.  Homeowners looking for financial assistance to repair or replace their system can always apply for financial aid through the Mass Home Septic Loan Program found on the Mass Housing website. 

From a buyer’s perspective, there really isn’t too much you need to do.  You’ll want to review the Title V report.  Be sure the local board of health is on board and has also approved the passing inspection.  Both need to happen - passed by a licensed inspector & approved by the Board of Health.  This is typically handled by a buyer’s agent. 

In order to get the maximum life expectancy out of your system of roughly 30 years, here are some tips: don’t dispose of any hazardous chemicals into the system, don’t dispose of grease, gas, paint, paint thinner, pesticides, antifreeze, etc., practice water conservation by installing low flow toilets & shower heads, turn water off when not needed (i.e., brushing teeth), avoid using drain cleaners that might dilute the valuable bacteria, divert roof drains & surface water from over the system, don’t park or drive over it, and ONLY flush toilet paper down your toilet. 

A few of the biggest myths regarding septic systems include: 

I can’t have a Garage Disposal - Not true.  You may have one but if you do, you should pump annually rather than once every 3 years.  It should also be used as if it’s not there just allowing tiny pieces in the drain to go down.

I shouldn’t use Bleach - Not true.  Yes, bleach breaks down bacteria which is needed to successfully break down waste in the system, but the ordinary household amounts of bleach used for laundry for instance is not going to be enough to wreak havoc on your system.

I should regularly treat my system with Rid-X- Not true.  Or maybe better stated, not necessary.  The human body itself uses many enzymes to breakdown food in our bodies which in turn end up in our septic systems.  Get it?

 

Any specific questions, please call or text me directly at 617-285-7117 or via email at john@farrellyreallty.com

Money-Saving Strategies That Will Teach Your Kids Responsibility

Money-Saving Strategies That Will Teach Your Kids Responsibility

 

When you’re a parent, getting your finances together isn’t just about affording a night out or saving up for a big vacation. Spending responsibly protects your whole family from the many hardships financial instability causes. Moreover, it allows you to provide the best life possible for your loved ones.

 

In addition to securing stability, spending wisely can also help you to teach your children responsibility. Not just with money – although that’s important. There are several money-saving strategies that are also great opportunities to teach your kids vital lessons they can use their whole life long.

 

Environmentalism

 

Overconsumption and excess waste is one of the leading causes of environmental strife facing our world today. There are tons of ways you can teach your children to care for the planet while saving money as a family. For example, you can start a compost pile in your yard. This allows you to make use of food scraps and paper waste that would have otherwise wound up in a landfill, and save money on mulch for your garden.

 

It’s also a great opportunity to teach your children about decomposition. Consider giving them an age-appropriate task for the compost pile, such as turning it occasionally. Join them in their work, and ask them what they notice about the pile over time. This will help them come to understand how organic items break down and become useful, giving them a strong foundation for both biology class and ethical environmental consumption throughout life.

 

Other ways family members can reduce waste include being mindful of water consumption and turning out the lights when you’re not in the room. 

 

Cooking

 

Often when people evaluate their budget for unnecessary spending, restaurants stick out like a shockingly pricey sore thumb. An easy way to cut back on this expense: Eating at home. Not only will making your own foods save you money, but it will also make your meals healthier and more nutritionally dense.

 

As an important bonus, it also gives you the chance to teach your children how to cook. As soon as your child is old enough, they can help out in the kitchen. Take a look at different kitchen jobs you can assign to your child while you’re making meals. Keep your kids involved, and thoroughly explain each step in the process. As they gain a better knowledge of cooking, you can give them more tasks, independence, and creative freedom – before you know it, they might be making dinner for you!

 

Budgeting

 

When it comes to taking care of your finances, making and sticking to a budget is vital. It’s almost impossible to spend money responsibly if you’re not paying close attention to how you’re spending in the first place. Tracking every transaction allows you to take control of your money and make it work for you.

 

This is an important skill to pass on to your kids as well. Few schools require financial education as part of the core curriculum, and, as a result, many young adults (and older adults) have no idea how to manage their money. Get your kids involved in the budgeting process early so that it’s a normal, everyday part of their lives. For example, you can put them in charge of a single category, such as groceries. By having them keep a running tab of how much you spend on food each week, they can practice addition and subtraction, build good money habits, and develop a sense of how finances move in a responsible household.

 

Every decision you make as a parent is an opportunity to teach your children how to grow into capable adults. Focus on ways you can spend less while sharing valuable lessons with your children, and you’ll see returns in more ways than you could count.

 

Photo Credit: Pexels