Show Notes: Taxes and Insurance Tips – On the House

Show Notes: Taxes and Insurance Tips

By on February 12, 2016

The 2016 tax season will soon be upon us. Do you know what tax deductions are available to homeowners this year? When was the last time you reviewed your homeowners insurance? Seed planting for spring, gardening, cleaning jetted tubs and more this week.

Thank you to our guest:

 Ryan Larson – Dr. Drainage

NDS Inc.                                  


The Playboy Mansion Is Up For Sale

Playboy Enterprise announced Monday that the West Los Angeles estate, the backdrop of many film shoots and wild parties, has been listed for $200 million.

It’s one of the highest asking prices for a private residence in the United States, Reuters reports.

 The 5-acre property features 29 rooms, a game house, home theater, wine cellar and the famous swimming pool with a cave-like grotto where Playboy bunnies partied with celebrities.

The mansion also comes with a rare zoo license.

As a condition of the sale, magazine founder Hefner would get to continue living there as he has since the company bought the mansion 45 years ago for just over $1 million dollars.


A Simple Way to Plant Flower Seeds in the Spring

‘Flower Shell’ brings flower gardens through shotgun blasts

Ordinarily, firing your shotgun into the ground leaves nothing but an unsightly hole. Say goodbye to all that with the Flower Shell, which, thanks to its IndieGogo campaign, is changing the definition of the phrase “beautiful shot.”

Sure, it sounds like a joke—especially to a city plagued by roughly 250 murders this year. But Flower Shell creator Per Cromwell says his invention, which can result in a healthy cluster of daisies, sunflowers, poppies or meadow flowers following the initial fire, is completely serious.

Cromwell has created life from the barrel of a gun rather than destroying it—and, what’s more, it’ll only cost you $50 for four shells. How you’ll get them into the ground without alerting the police, though, is up to you.


How Often Do You Clean Your Jetted Tub?

 In a jetted tub, soaking in water that remained in the pipes after your last bath is not a happy thought. It’s the same as reserving a gallon (or more) of dirty bathwater from your last relaxing soak and pouring the stagnant water back into the tub the next time you use it.

Keep your jets clean to avoid the health hazards associated with filthy water in your jetted tub pipes. Knowing how to clean bathtub jets properly will keep you soaking in good health.

How to Clean the Jets

Now that I’ve got your attention on the importance of keeping the jets clean, here’s how to take care of the problem.

Flushing the Water in the Pipes

Flushing the pipes won’t prevent bacteria from growing inside them, but might delay the buildup of biofilm by reducing the level of debris in the remaining bathwater in the pipes after using the jets.

  1. Fill the tub with hot water.
  2. Run the jets for 10 to 15 minutes to reduce the levels of remaining soap scum, hair, body oils, dead skin, etc.
  3. Drain the tub.

If you have visible buildup inside the holes of the jet itself, it bight be easiest to simply grab an old toothbrush or a long-handled soft brush and gently scrub inside the jet with a bit of shampoo to remove any accumulated oils. Make a point to inspect the holes when you have your next bath and do a routine wipe down to avoid this from becoming a problem.

Regular Jet Cleaning

To clean the entire whirlpool system and tub exterior, follow this process every month or more frequently if needed. Don’t let dirt and grime build up or you’ll have more scrubbing to do to get the tub clean.

  • Fill the tub with hot water, approximately an inch above the highest jet.
  • Make sure the water temperature reaches at least 140º F (60º C).
  • Add 1/2 cup of laundry detergent or the amount used to clean 1 load of laundry as recommended by the detergent manufacturer.
  • Run the jets for 15 minutes.
  • Drain the tub and refill with clean lukewarm water.
  • Run the jets for another 15 minutes.
  • Drain the bathtub.
  • Dry the tub completely by wiping it down with a clean towel.
  • Deodorizing Your Bathtub Jets

Vinegar is a very effective odor neutralizer and cleaner. Vinegar is a mild acid that will help to kill mold and mildew but it’s not nearly as effective as chlorine bleach. Vinegar is less likely to irritate the skin as bleach will if not completely removed from the tub.

Because vinegar is an acid it reduces hard water spots left from minerals in the water and soften soap scum which will make cleaning the bathtub itself easier.

Do not add any soap, detergent, baking soda or any other solution when using vinegar. These substances are alkaline and at the very least will counteract the effectiveness of cleaning with vinegar to begin with. On the more serious side, certain cleaners may react with vinegar and produce toxic fumes which can be very harmful to your health.

  • Fill the tub with hot water.
  • Add 1 gallon of plain white vinegar.
  • Run the tub as instructed above under “removing mold and mildew”.


Is Your Home Properly Insured?

 Here are some tips to help you make the right choices about homeowners insurance.

Just as there are different home styles, insurers offer a menu of different policies. For the majority of single-family homeowners, the most appropriate policy is the HO-3, sometimes called the Special Form.  It insures all major perils, except flood, earthquake, war, and nuclear accident.

You’ll need deep coverage, up to and including 100% of your home’s replacement cost. By insuring at, say, 90%, you’re gambling that you won’t suffer a complete loss. To be safe, always insure at 100%.

Insurers generally cover a home’s contents between 50% and 75% of the home’s value.  Make a list of your home’s contents for a more accurate estimate of your needs.  That way, you’ll have a written record if you need to file a claim.  The industry-sponsored Insurance Information Institute provides useful instructions on how to put together an inventory.

You’ll also have to pick a deductible, which is the amount you will pay before the insurance kicks in.  Remember, the higher the deductible, the lower your premium will be.

Buy the guarantees

Traditional guaranteed replacement cost coverage promises to pay whatever it takes to rebuild your home, even if it costs more than the original limits you purchased. That’s crucial in the event that labor and building costs balloon after a major disaster. In many states, large insurers may cap the guarantee at 120% to 125% of purchased limits.  Several preferred carriers offer even higher coverage.  Speak to your insurance agent for more information.  Also, ask for replacement cost coverage for your home’s contents. Without it, you’ll end up with the depreciated value of any object that’s damaged or stolen.

Get these types of important coverage, too:

Inflation guard: This option annually increases your coverage at the rate of local building-cost inflation.

Ordinance-and-law coverage: This rider, which covers the costs of bringing your home into compliance with current building codes, is a must if your home is more than a few years old.

–Limit your liability:  Your homeowners policy protects against lawsuits for accidents that happen on your property. It also covers you if your dog bites someone. You might also consider adding an umbrella policy, which provides additional coverage over and above your regular homeowners liability limits.

Consider these options:

Displacement: Your homeowners policy also provides for living expenses if you need to secure other housing while your home is being repaired or rebuilt.

Other structures:  Replacement of structures such as garages, detached covered porches or patios, and sheds.

Medical Coverage: Provides coverage for medical expenses if someone is injured on your property.

Floods: Floods aren’t covered by ordinary homeowners insurance. Flood insurance is available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In California, you may need earthquake coverage; check with the California Earthquake Authority.

Home business coverage: Business property worth more than $2,500 isn’t covered by a homeowners policy, so buy a separate policy — also known as a rider — to fill the gap. Business liability coverage must be purchased separately, too.

Riders for valuables:  A standard policy provides minimal coverage for antiques, collectibles, furs, silver, jewels, cameras, computers, musical instruments, and firearms. For these, you may need additional or separate coverage.  Again, speak with your insurance agent about the proper coverage for your specific needs.

Content provided by:  CNN Money


  Top 10 Homeowner Tax Deductions

 It’s Not To Soon To Start Planning For Tax Season

Here are the top ten on the homeowner tax deduction list:

1.Mortgage Interest

You can find out more about these deductions by visiting IRS Publication 936, Home Mortgage Interest Deductions.


3.Equity Loan Interest

You can read more about this deduction by reading IRS Publication 936, Home Mortgage Interest Deductions.

4.Interest on a Home Improvement Loan

5.Property Taxes

 6.Home Office Deduction

 7.Selling Costs

 8.Capital Gains Exclusion

 9.Moving Costs

 10.Mortgage Tax Credit

For an overview of other items not listed here, please read IRS Publication 530, Tax Information for Homeowners; IRS Publication 523, Selling Your Home; IRS Publication 587, Business Use of Your Home; IRS Publication 521, Moving Expenses; and IRS Publication 936, Home Mortgage Interest Deduction.

See more at:


Have You Done Your Annual Insurance Review?

The benefits of an annual insurance review

Many homeowners purchase an insurance policy when they first move in to their home, but they may not understand the importance of periodically reviewing it or reassessing their needs. It’s an oversight that can ultimately lead to a gap in their coverage.

For instance, you may have insured your home for $200,000 when you first bought it. A decade later, your home may cost $300,000 to rebuild. That’s a $100,000 gap in coverage—which could leave you without the proper resources to rebuild in the event of a loss.

A home renovation or upgrade is another reason you may want an insurance review. It can help ensure that your home and belongings are fully protected, and that your coverage is keeping up with your current needs. Everything from new furniture to a kitchen upgrade can affect the value of your family’s home, and may even qualify you for additional discounts on your insurance policy.

One way to evaluate your needs is to conduct a home inventory, a detailed catalogue of all your possessions. There are tools and even smartphone home inventory apps, like Digital Locker, that can streamline the process.

Does your policy provide enough coverage to rebuild my home today?

Many homeowners are surprised to learn that their policy is outdated and does not provide sufficient coverage to rebuild their existing home. Changes in construction costs (they can vary from year to year), upgrades to a kitchen or bathroom, new kitchen appliances, or updates to a basement can all affect the cost to repair or rebuild your home. For example, new finishes in your kitchen can change your existing kitchen from “standard” to one that’s considered “semi-custom” or “custom.” Since insurance companies replace lost items with “like kind and quality,” it is important to estimate the full cost of replacing finishes, appliances, electrical systems and plumbing systems in determining your coverage.

How does a newly finished basement affect your policy?

A finished basement may not only increase the cost to rebuild your home, but it may also require additional coverage to protect items from water damage. For example, optional water backup coverage will help protect new furniture and carpet in your basement if a sump pump breaks or a drain backs up.

Does your policy provide enough coverage for landscaping or outdoor appliances?

Installing a new sprinkler system, a larger storage shed, a new pool or hot tub, or buying a substantial backyard grill or riding mower are outdoor changes that may require a homeowner’s policy upgrade. Updating landscaping and purchasing new lawn equipment or outbuildings can be significant investments that should prompt a coverage review.     


January Gardening Checklist   

 Repot houseplants as they outgrow current pots. If you see roots when you look at the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot, chances are it’s time to transplant.

Sketch garden plans, including what to grow, spacing, arrangement and number of plants needed.

Order seeds and plants from mail order catalogs or online retailers as early as possible for best selection.

Use your hand or a broom to gently brush away any heavy snow that may accumulate on shrubs before it freezes. Heavy snow can weigh down branches, causing them to break or become misshapen.

Fertilize spring-flowering bulbs as they break ground. Use an all-purpose granular fertilizer according to label directions, or apply a light dusting of compost.













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