Showing posts from 2017

Last minute gift ideas for that DIY Homeowner in your life-

By Teris Pantazes of

Looking for a GREAT gift for the new homeowner, soon-to-be-homebuyer, or handyman in your life? Last minute crunch?

We asked some of our professional contractors and hobbyist what they would put on a list- here are the top responses:

1. Oscillating Saw:
This saw is not that common but is incredibly useful. It is basically a blade on the front end of a spear that vibrates incredibly fast in order to cut wood, trim, stripped, rusty nails, even that angry little nub that is left behind when you cut wood to fast and the last bit splits off. It's really awesome! A decent Oscillating saw starts around $60 and can go up from there. I have a 12v Milwaukee (pictured below) which was $80 and it has never failed me. You can also get attachments to make this a compact sander. Once in a toolbox, your loved handyman will wonder how they ever lived without this.

2. Heat Gun:  Like a hairdryer but hotter and more cooler. A heat gun will dry paint (or strip it), cure …

How Frost Can Tell You That It's Time To Insulate

Insulation and roof tips for homeowners AND something to look out for when buying a home. The 3 minute test that can save you a few hundred dollars.

(Baltimore, MD/ When I bought my first home, it was brand new. A "top-notch" builder's grade that I knew had a few areas in need for improvement. As a homeowner, I am a sucker for energy efficiency- almost making a game out of how low I can get my energy bills. I've admittedly bought into a few items that didn't have the promised payback however, I chalk that up as experience that I can share with you.

Over the next day or two (and probably throughout the winter), we will have what I call "snowlitts". These are small, cover the grass with slush kind of storms that excite school kids but never cancel schools (#FITF). Although mostly a short conversation or quick mention, these overlooked snow events can help you in a big way.

When a light snow, sleet, or even a hard freeze occurs- there is a trick …

When yelling "TIMBER" should not be required; anchoring your Christmas Tree

(; Baltimore, MD): With a majority of us now preparing to hang the old ornaments on the Christmas Tree, we must never forget the "lucky' few who get to do this job twice!

I'm talking about those unfortunate few who forget to anchor the tree and for some "usually comical reason" get to participate in the lovely task of counting broken Christmas Balls.

It actually makes perfect sense when you think about it. We cut a tree from the very roots which are designed to hold it down. We load it with fixins' and top it with a star to make it EXTRA top heavy (extra points for extravagant tree toppers, right?).

It's no wonder that each year Christmas Trees are responsible for killing countless keepsake ornaments that would otherwise survive entire decades of summer storage.

*On a serious note- A falling tree can be dangerous to your family and has caused injuries in the past. It also creates a fire risk if left unattended (like when you are out trying to …

10 tips for picking the perfect Christmas Tree

Load up the family wagon, grab some twine, and a saw- It is time to  make the annual pilgrimage for. . . THE CHRISTMAS TREE!!!!

As the mother of all holidays approaches you have to be prepared. After all, what good is a new PlayStation if the tree is not the pinnacle of treedom? the TREE is a signal of absolute perfection and it will make even the dullest tie SHINE.

This is my approach each year as my family dons buffalo check plaid shirts and we take our annual drive just into PA for a LIVE, you-cut-it-Christmas tree. It has served me well for years and, I have been known to keep the tree up well into January.

1. Live, Cut Fresh: There is no better way to insure a tree will last.
2. Measure BEFORE leaving your house: you can always go bigger and trim when you get home but a short tree is not as much fun.
3. Measure your tree stand: Make sure the tree is not too fat!
4. Ignore the bottom 2' of a tree: This area get beaten up by lawnmowers and animals all year- I always buy a tree tha…

Want To Waste $20,000? The maintenance item you forgot that may cost you.

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Baltimore, MD: As we approach winter there is one task that you may have overlooked and it will cost you!  I have personally seen the keenest of home buyers overlook this item only to be bitten a few years later (*often a missed negotiation point when making a home purchase!)


Repaving most driveways can cost at least $5k but they go up from there. It is important to keep up with maintenance and make repairs on an annual basis.

What about seal coating? There is so much horrible information floating around that most well intentioned homeowners follow the wrong advice and never get the full benefit of the effort and money put in.

So, what hurts your driveway to begin with:

The winter! Unless you regularly perform burnouts with your muscle car or …

The New and Improved EFynch Rating System

Online ratings are something which we obsess with. They are something any good homeowner will research and review prior to hiring any handyman. Reviews (and referrals) are extremely important for new homebuyers alike, who, are just getting their "feet wet" in the home ownership lifestyle.

That is why we at EFynch wanted to make something better. Currently, you can find online ratings, reviews, and recommendations from a host of other sites. However, many of these are unchecked, unverified, and often come from conflicting sources. As far as we can tell- 99% of online reviews have not gone through any filtering process (this effects most sites that supposedly post "trusted reviews").

Not to be negative, but this sucks- we wanted to create something better.

The new EFynch Handyman rating system is revolutionary- we promise.

1. Instead of a simple 5 start rating which you can make on anyone listed in that site's directory, we have a 10 point rating system that uses…

How To Handle A Project Gone Wrong- What to do when a Pro doesn't perform.

Baltimore, MD: At EFynch, we are doing out best to give all homeowners and homebuyers the tools to properly locate, and research the contractors they want to hire*. Too many other sources online only give you the "advertised choice", and asking for a recommendation on neighborhood websites does not guarantee you are getting non-biased results (a growing problem).

However, even with the toughest verification procedures, you can find online, there is still the chance that a hired Pro or Handyman may not meet your expectations. Problems happen, humans are humans, and sometimes things just don't "click".

So, here is our advice when something goes wrong:

Step 1: Document and mention the issue to the contractor/ handyman as soon as possible. In addition to carpentry skills, a home improvement project is equal parts logistics and identifying any issue that must be remedied as early as possible will help.

----- SIDE NOTE -----
*If handled properly, clearly, and calmly, it …

Maryland Realtors can once again refer licensed Contractors and Handymen in Baltimore (new service)

Baltimore, MD: Starting in 2011 and amended several times since then, Maryland Realtors have been unable to refer home improvement contractors (handymen) unless they followed a strict set of protocols prior to, and during the course of the referrals. 

These set of rules have inhibited many Realtors in providing the full service and discuss past experiences that help many Maryland Homeowners and Homebuyers. Can you imagine asking for handyman and your Realtor responding with "sorry, I can't tell you who I know?". This has caused a lot of anguish in the community. . .

Until now. . .

Baltimore Startup and App (Web, iPhone, Android) EFynch has come up with a solution and is currently testing the system with Long & Foster as an approved vendor in the Home Service Division.

EFynch initially launched in October 2016 and after several strategy sessions with L&F Team Members in Chantilly, Virginia, the group developed a product that not only helps Real Estate Agents refer…

10+ Immediate Actions to Prevent House Fires- A simple guide for new AND experienced Homeowners

Home Fire Safet; Tips from EFynch
Post #2

A house fire is a tragedy. No matter how large or small, they effect our very sense of security.

In high school, I was a junior volunteer firefighter. During this time I was only able to help on 1 active housefire but it changes my life. It was Christmas Day 1997 and I still remember seeing the family in tears as their entire home was obliterated by the time we arrived. It is a sight you never forget and never want to see again.

Below we've compiled a quick list of fire prevention actions you can take TODAY. This is not a complete list but, in our opinions, they are the items that if you have not already completed- should be handled with urgency.

Maintenance/ Actions:

1. Test Smoke Detectors and change batteries twice per year (daylight savings), replace complete units every 10 years.

2. Clean and inspect your Chimney and Fireplace once per year (even gas).

3. Clean dryer vents AT LEAST once per year. HVAC ducts should be cleaned at least once …

Change your clocks- CHECK YOUR BATTERIES. Save a life w/ SMOKE DETECTORS

When we burn dinner and the alarm goes off, we act instantly waving towels and blankets but, what happens if it were to remain silent? We should treat a quiet detector as important as a buzzing one.  U.S. Fire Deaths have decreased in the past 10 years and now cities like our hometown of Baltimore have programs that give away and install FREE smoke and CO2 detectors (click here for more info). Yet, last December many of us had to fight back tears when we read about a fire that killed 2 children just days before Christmas.  Then in January- a TRAGIC story was told of 6 children dying in a single house fire. 

I don't want to feed you more stories but, I don't want to spout off "fire death statistics" treating each of these cases as a number. 

As a Father I can only recommend we swallow the lump in our throats and take the inititive to help our families and neighbors.

Please join me in spreading the word:- November 5th, 2017 is daylight savings. 

Change your clocks/ Check y…

What makes Tree change their color? Why are they sometimes dull?

Do you ever wonder what makes leaves change color in Autumn? What about why some years they are bright,  others. . . not so much- We explain this actualy simple reason below: 
Every fall we marvel at the bright colors. This change signals the “most satisfying season” according to psychological studies but some years the “marvel” is less than others.

First, why do leaves change? (*non-technical) The intensity of leaf color in the fall is mostly due to weather patterns throughout the summer and early fall. A good “growing season” with ample moisture, and plenty of sunlight make for a healthy tree (thus brighter color potential). Drastic changes, drought, and other weather patterns can effect the tree’s health causing a blander leaf in the fall. Once the tree starts changing (September), the tree is in an especially sensitive period.

The Red/Orange/ Yellow colored chemicals are actually in the leaf all summer. However, they are hidden behind the green color we see (Chlorophyll). The tree sto…

You cannot afford to have a dirty DRYER VENT!

Possibly the most overlooked home maintenance issue I find is your dryer vent. It is very easy to forget this annual service but can have a pretty big impact if ignored for too long.

We remember to clean the lint trip after each load but what about the little dust bunnies that escape the dryer but don't quite get to freedom? There is a pipe that connects your dryer to the outside air and is needed to let heat escape and keep lint out from back-flowing into your home.

Here are our top (and pretty strong) reasons to keep this chore on the top of your fall checklist:

1. SAFETY: Over 15,000 fires each year are started because of dryers. 80% of these are reported to be from heat buildup in dryer vents. Lint and/ or animal nests can collect in your vent and cause this hazard.

2. AIR QUALITY: It is hard to argue a risk of fire one minute then mold in another however, for dryers this is a real problem. When clogged, the dryer releases enough hot air to dry trapped lint close to the appli…

Prep Your Veggie Garden For Winter: Enjoy benefits next summer.

Baltimore, MD: As we approach winter and I picked my final veggies from the summer stock, it is a good time to develop the game plan for winter. Know when to clear out your garden and do "prep" work prior to the next growing season.

Here are a few easy steps to put your summer vegetable garden to bed for the winter season:

1. Remove all annual plants after they have completed harvest: Pull them up by the roots - do not just "cut". Surprisingly, dying vegetation can host bacteria and disease that can stunt next year's growth. Leaving your plants in place do not act as compost instead, you risk them rotting and stunting next year's harvest.

2. Wait until the first good frost, then cut or prune perennials back.

3. Lightly till the ground. This exposes some of the fungus/ bacteria and will ultimately kill it.

4. Consider adding a finished compost to the dirt prior to tilling.

4. Keep fall foliage clear from the area and make sure to not let leaves gather/ rot…

Regular Homeowner Disaster Preparedness: Simple lessons from a prepper for everyday families.

(Baltimore, MD)- After watching Hurricane Harvey rip through Texas (still ongoing as I write), it is reminder of the simple steps we can take at home to protect our families. Although the Mid-Atlantic has not experienced a storm of this magnitude, we have to remember  30"+ snowstorms that leave even the heardiest of adventures stuck for a few days.

You do not need to be a "prepper" in order to prepare. Having a storm or natural disaster plan is simply responsible and we want to help make it easy.

1. Have supplies
2. Have a Plan
3. Stay Informed

Below is a list of items we recommend. We broke this into 2 categories then discuss the benefits of "staying informed". The first are necessary and not having this in your home AT ALL TIMES is simple irresponsible.  The 2nd are items will make life at home easier and help you in the worst of times.


Absolutely Necessary Items:
 - Prepare this as a kit. Have set aside in your home at all times, only to …