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Jan 19 17

Turn Your Snow Fort Into an Impenetrable Snow Palace

by Sherriff-Goslin

Cute girls playing the snowballs on a winter's dayThe average snow fort consists of a long wall or two, a small stockpile of snowballs and maybe a tunnel. All a determined enemy needs to do is to wait patiently, just out of range, for that stockpile of ammo to be spent. Once your intrepid team runs out of snowballs, the opposing force will rush in like a tidal wave of white rage and your precious snow fort will be no more.

However, with a little foreknowledge and planning, your next snow battle could make your revenge sweet and comfortable from within the ramparts of a reinforced snow citadel. Following a series of professional snow fort building techniques will certainly tip the balance of the next engagement in your favor.

Location, Location, Location!

Choose a spot near a building, wall or another physical barrier. Build your fortress facing outward from that location, which makes any attack from behind an exercise in futility.

Also, if you want your fort to remain intact for an extended period, you ought to avoid building in an area where your mighty fortress will be flagged for removal by local authorities.

A Strong Foundation

Unless you are building on a concrete slab, the chances are good that an uneven terrain full of hazards and obstacles will need to be properly prepared in order to support your fortress.

First, plan exactly where the walls will be built. Assemble your entire team into a huddle and design the ramparts around them by drawing an outline in the snow with a stick, shovel or sword. Make sure that you will have enough room in your completed fortification for your entire army of snow warriors.

Next, pat some snow down to even out the ground and to create a strong, smooth plane for the foundation of your fort walls. A strong foundation will make for better footing and traction for your troops as they hurl carefully aimed snowball grenades over the wall and into the advancing enemy lines.

Build a Wall Worthy of Song

Only an amateur would simply pile up snow and attempt to chisel out a wall-like shape. Instead of showing your enemies a weakness to be exploited, find some large plastic storage bins and pack them full of snow. These will form snow bricks that you can use to build a stronger, thicker, sturdier and taller wall.

Place them the way you would place normal bricks, with each row overlapping the row beneath. Either find or make some slush to use as mortar between the bricks. When you’re finished, your impenetrable wall will be ready to withstand the Mongols and the Persian Empire together at the same time.

Some of the more serious snow soldiers prefer to make their fort bricks out of pykrete instead of snow. Pykrete is essentially sawdust and ice, and it will stand up to almost anything, from a concentrated hail of snowballs to a bullet. However, if you’re fighting a snowball war with bullets you’re going against the Geneva Convention, so be forewarned.

The Final Touch

Once your snow fort is finished and ready to stand the trial of combat, you must complete one more step before the enemy arrives at your gates. Take buckets of water and douse the entire fort with water.

Once it freezes, the frozen water will create an extra solidifying barrier to your snow fortress. Nothing short of an actual tank – or, well, summer – will bring your walls down. All you’ll need is a large stockpile of ammunition and the will to ceaselessly crush your opponent to the point of surrender or annihilation.

Advanced Warfare

Depending on where you decide to build your snow fort, you may also be able to tunnel through a high snow drift or mound of snow to make a secret snowball munitions armory or to join forces with a nearby ally by connecting your fort to theirs. (Never tunnel alone. Make sure there is someone with you at all times in case the tunnel collapses on top of you.)

You can also follow igloo construction techniques to close yourself off to aerial attacks. An enclosed fort area can also be used as a munitions cache, as a makeshift infirmary to tend your wounded or as a throne room for you, the supreme ruler of your army.

Other advanced techniques are primarily aesthetic in nature. You can use food coloring in the snow to add a little panache to your structure (there’s nothing like a brightly colored skull and crossbones to make your enemies think twice about attacking). Some snow fort architects even add lighting to their palaces – but be wary of wires and electronics around water, even when that water is frozen.

You can tip the odds of the next snowball engagement in your favor with a little knowledge and preparation. Evolving out of the stone age of snow fort construction will give you a distinct advantage over most of your opponents as they attempt to hide behind their simple, pathetic piles of snow. Your reinforced frozen walls will intimidate the prehistoric sensibilities of your enemy!

Make Your Roof As Strong As Your Snow Fort

If you want your roof to be as strong and indestructible as your snow fort, Sherriff-Goslin offers a free roofing inspection and roofing estimate for your home. Contact a customer service representative today to schedule an appointment.

Jan 2 17

BBQ Brrrrrrr!

by Sherriff-Goslin

BBQ during the winter timeDo your friends and family call you the grill master? Are you willing to strap on a parka and boots in the dead of winter so you can barbecue the perfect cut of meat? Well, according to a survey conducted by Weber GrillWatch, you’d be in good company: More than half of American grill owners cook outside all year round, while 37 percent continue to BBQ even when the temperature drops below 32 degrees F.

For those of you who have yet to venture into the wonderful world of winter BBQ, follow these strategic steps for firing up the grill even when the weather forecaster advises you to stay inside.

Before You BBQ

  1. First things first: Dress accordingly. Just because you’re cooking like it’s summer doesn’t mean you should be wearing shorts and sandals when it’s snowing outside.
  2. Avoid clothing that could come in contact with the grill, such as scarves and tassels. Fingerless gloves are a wise choice as well because properly gripping tongs is an all-important task.
  3. Plan ahead. Have all cooking utensils, trays, seasoning and meats at your disposal to save time. Also, recipes that only call for one flip are a wise choice.
  4. Find a primo spot for the BBQing to take place. No, that doesn’t mean you should bring the grill indoors – rather, identify a space that is protected from the wind. Just be sure to avoid cooking under porches or near vinyl siding or other potential fire hazards.
  5. Clear a path back and forth from the grill and be sure to remove all snow from the grill long before you fire up the starter.
  6. Choose smaller cuts of meat and quick-cooking vegetables, which will take less time to thaw, season and cook.
  7. If you plan on cooking with propane, choose a grill with a high BTU to maintain maximum temperature.
  8. To prevent food from sticking to the grill, coat the grill with oil.
  9. Start warming up the grill at least five minutes sooner than you normally would during summer.

While You Grill

  1. According to grill company Crown Verity, a good rule of thumb for BBQing meat when it’s frigid outside is to add 20 minutes of cooking time for every 5 degrees below 45 degrees F.
  2. Whether you’re using charcoal or propane, keep reserves nearby. You’ll likely burn through more briquettes and gas than when it’s warm outside.
  3. Keep the lid closed as much as possible to further maintain the correct cooking temperature.
  4. Use a meat thermometer to make sure meat is grilled properly.
  5. Using ceramic cookware will insulate food not only on the grill itself but as you transport it back inside to enjoy eating.

After You Grill

  1. While the grill is still warm, use a grill brush to gently remove build-up.
  2. Frozen fat is no fun to clean up, so keep a bowl of warm cloths just inside the house for a quick wipe-off.
  3. Protect your grill with a high-quality, non-flammable, all-weather cover.
  4. Work safely and quickly so that you can warm up inside and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Have a favorite grilling recipe? Find us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to share it.

Nov 21 16

Three New Year’s Resolutions For A Safer Home in 2017

by Sherriff-Goslin
Snowfall on home

It’s that time of year again where we all make our resolutions for the new year. Hitting the gym more, losing that holiday weight, starting a journal, traveling more and so many more are very popular resolutions you hear from friends and family. But how about some resolutions for your home? Here are some New Year’s resolutions for your home in 2017:

Check your dryer for lint.

Did you know that 15,000 building fires a year are attributed to dryer lint, according to the U.S. Fire Administration? It’s a scary statistic, but the good news is that the danger is easily prevented with simple but regular maintenance. Check and empty the lint screen in your dryer after every load, and if you can access the vents and ducts behind the dryer, remove any lint you find with a cloth, brush or shop-vac every six months. If you can’t get to these areas by yourself, hire a professional service provider (or talk to your landlord if you rent) for help with this crucial step. Lint seems innocent, but is highly combustible. Don’t let it spark trouble for your home!

Have your roof inspected.

We trust our roofs to protect and perform, year after year, and they will if quality materials have been installed and regular inspections are conducted. To prevent unwanted surprises, such as water leaks and missing shingles, have your roof inspected by a licensed professional. The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) recommends homeowners have their roof inspected at least twice a year. Roofing contractors have the skills and the knowledge to thoroughly inspect and mitigate any potential issues they find while scaling your roof deck. Plus, they can help you handle minimal repairs before they turn into major problems, a huge money saver! Sherriff-Goslin can help you find a roofing professional in your area — simply click here.

Install a radon gas detector.

Regardless of where you live and what type of home building you live in, you could be at risk from radon gas. This invisible and odorless contaminant is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is formed during the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. Radon gas exits the ground and can seep into your home through cracks and holes in the foundation — and it can be deadly. But inexpensive and easy-to-install radon detectors are available at home improvement stores, hardware stores and online. Buy and use one in your home to keep you and your family safe from this potential hazard.

Nov 9 16

Upgrades Can Sell Your Home

by Sherriff-Goslin

You’ve decided to sell your home, but you have some repairs to do. Or maybe you’re wondering if a quick renovation will pay off. You need to know which repairs will bring the best return on your investment.

home improvement renovations

Simple fixes tend to work in your favor, while extensive makeovers may actually diminish your selling price. You likely won’t get your money back from major home improvements completed right before the house goes on the market. Which projects are worth spending money on and which ones should you leave for the new owners?

Fix It Up

First impressions matter. Potential buyers judge your home before they even walk through the door. As impressive as the interior may be, the exterior is what sets the tone.

Spending money on curb appeal is a good investment. Brightly colored annuals, shrubs and mulch are relatively inexpensive and improve the look of your home. Even bigger-ticket items such as sod (as much as $1,500 for a 5,000-square-foot lawn) and trees (about $200 for a 7-foot Colorado blue spruce) can put a buyer in the mood to pay more.

Replacing the garage door also boosts your curb appeal. You might spend nearly $1,600, but experts estimate that you’d recoup more than 88 percent of your investment at closing.

Next, consider the house. A new door ($200 and up at the home improvement stores) or a fresh coat of paint (less than $20 a gallon) for the existing door can work wonders on buyers. If the house numbers and mailbox (anywhere from $15 to nearly $650) look tired, replace them too.

A fix that doesn’t cost a dime: keeping the walkway swept and clear of debris.

Inside, fix anything that doesn’t work, including leaky faucets, worn or missing door handles or closet doors that are not on track. Outdated plumbing or light fixtures need to go too, as does any wallpaper that’s still hanging around. Also, consider removing popcorn ceilings. At $1 to $2 per square foot, the total price can climb to more than $1,000 pretty fast. But buyers who see popcorn think, “what a lot of work!” and lower their bid accordingly.

A fresh coat of paint on the walls can spruce up the interior. However, stick to basic white. Buyers like neutral, especially if they plan to decorate with their own colors. Wash the window curtains or hang inexpensive new ones.

Other projects to consider:

  • New wood floors – the price tag can be more than $5,000, but you’d recoup about 91 percent of the cost. Refinishing existing hardwood (about $2,500) also can be a good investment, though you also could leave the project for the new owners.
  • New insulation – it can cost more than $2,000, but about 95 percent of the cost would come back to you.
  • New exterior paint – a gallon covers 400 square feet and the higher sales price will more than cover your costs.

Leave It For The Next Guy

Buyer can have very specific tastes, so spending to update major appliances can backfire. Stick with your current appliances and just give them a good cleaning. If carpet on your floors was laid over wood, remove it. Buyers these days are more likely to be impressed with the wood.

Replacing old windows with new energy-efficient ones requires a five-figure investment. Since you won’t be reaping the benefits of lower electricity bills, your return on the project would be negligible. Better to leave this improvement for the buyer.

Other projects better left for the new owners include:

  • Full bathroom remodel – updating the fixtures or installing new tile can work in your favor, but a whole new bathroom will set you back big bucks that you’ll never recover.
  • Fiberglass front door – while a new door will spiff up the look, a fiberglass version can set you back $1,000 or more and won’t pay off for you at closing.
  • Full kitchen remodel – cosmetic updates are fine, but people can be picky about what they want in their kitchen. Install the “wrong” color granite countertop and you could end up losing a good bit of money.
  • Adding a pool – in warm-weather states pools are expected, but in cooler climates buyers often see them as more of an expensive hassle than an asset.

Is It Ready To Show?

If your house needs too many costly repairs, consider selling it “as is” – but remember that buyers looking for a fixer-upper will expect a sizable discount to compensate them for the hassle and cost of repairs. Your real estate agent can help you determine what others are asking for fixer-uppers in your area.

What sells your house best is having it “show ready” at all times. You never know when the right buyer will walk through the door and you want to be ready for the opportunity.

Oct 31 16

How to Prepare for the Real Estate Appraisal

by Sherriff-Goslin

Property value on a small blackboard propped on booksWhat is your home worth? Is it worth what you think it is? When it is time to sell, the appraisal will determine the fair value of your abode – and you better be ready.

If the value is less than your buyers’ offer, they won’t be able to get the funding from their lender and the deal may fall through.

As the homeowner, you want to make sure the home receives the highest appraisal possible, which justifies a higher price on the market. But to get the very best evaluation, you have to prepare for the appraisal.

You Never Get A Second Chance To Make A First Impression

Curb appeal, curb appeal, curb appeal! Part of the appraisal process is to compare your home to recently sold homes in the area that are similar to yours. If the lawns at those homes consist of well-trimmed hedges and edged sidewalks and your yard has weeds in the flowerbed and dandelions blowing in the wind, you are, by comparison, already looking subpar. Plus, if the outside looks bad, the appraiser will undoubtedly have a negative impression going inside.

Upgrade Please

If making sure the outside of your home looks clean and well taken care of is important, then it almost goes without saying that the inside should too. But an appraisal is about more than just cleaning the dishes and putting away the dirty laundry. A home with new and improved features makes a better impression on the appraiser.

Look around and figure out what small changes will make the biggest impact. The answer typically starts in the kitchen. Replace your old faucet with a fancy new one. You can easily upgrade to a sleek, contemporary faucet for well under $100. Look around again. What other quick fixes can you make? Maybe it’s time to swap out your old electrical outlets for outlets with USB connections, add crown molding and add a backsplash in the kitchen.

Repair, Replace, Repeat

Take inventory of everything that is broken or flat-out missing in your home. Examine your list and highlight anything that would cost more than $500 to fix – these are your priorities.

The appraiser will value your home in $500 increments. Any damage worth $500 or more will count against your home. You have to fix the big issues before the appraiser arrives so that you can receive the highest possible valuation – which means taking care of leaks, broken air conditioners, faulty circuits and every big issue you come across.

Be Prepared

The appraisal process is a big deal. To fully be prepared, you have to put in some effort and fix up your home. Not only will your attention to detail make your home more attractive to prospective buyers, but you will get a higher valuation as well. For more useful tips to help you can get the most out of your home, explore