Diamond Certified Blog

Happy Returns: 5 Tips for Filing Your Taxes

Whether you’re doing your taxes independently or getting professional assistance, it’s helpful to know some basic guidelines. Photo: American Ratings Corporation (2016)

Whether you’re doing your taxes independently or getting professional assistance, it’s helpful to know some basic guidelines. Photo: American Ratings Corporation (2017)

With the holidays behind us, it’s time to get ready for the next seasonal milestone: tax season. While few would consider it “the most wonderful time of the year” (save for those expecting a substantial return), it doesn’t change the fact that tax season is something we all have to partake in. Anyone who has gone through the process knows that filing taxes can be difficult and frustrating, which is why it helps to know a few basics out of the gate. Whether you’re filing your taxes independently or having a professional handle it for you, check out these tips from industry experts on maximizing your return:

1. Get organized. One of the biggest challenges of filing a tax return is gathering all the necessary paperwork to report income, credits and deductions. Rather than waiting to see what shows up in the mail, Andreas Dleske of Davis & Company suggests getting ahead of the game by making a list of tax documents you should expect to receive. Continue reading “Happy Returns: 5 Tips for Filing Your Taxes” »

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Video: Giving a Cat Medicine

Earlier this week, we posted an article featuring expert tips on pet wellness care, including a detailed technique for administering oral medication to a cat. To see this technique demonstrated firsthand, watch this video by Diamond Certified Expert Contributor Dr. Donna Baird of Companion Animal Hospital.

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Diamond Certified Experts: Two Aspects of Pet Wellness

When it comes to having healthy, happy pets, there’s no substitute for proactive care. Photo: Paradise Pet Resorts (2017)

Owning a dog or cat can certainly be rewarding, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility. One of the biggest responsibilities is caring for your pet’s health, which includes both their physical and emotional well-being. To learn more about this, we’ve asked five Diamond Certified Expert Contributors to weigh in with tips for keeping your pet happy and healthy.

1. Physical health
Just like us, our pets require a regimen of regular exercise and proper nutrition to thrive. However, there are some finer points of pet health that are easy to overlook. Dr. Howard Schutzman of Antioch Veterinary Hospital points to dental hygiene as a prime example of this. “Periodontal diseases like gingivitis are commonly found in dogs and cats,” he says. “If left unchecked, these conditions can infect the deeper structures that support the teeth and even cause general health issues like kidney and organ damage. The best way to avoid these problems is to be proactive about your pet’s oral hygiene by brushing or wiping their teeth and gums daily.” Continue reading “Diamond Certified Experts: Two Aspects of Pet Wellness” »

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Are You Ready to Build a Custom Home?

custom living room

Consumers who custom-build homes will need to make hundreds of design decisions. Photo: Timeline Design (2017)

We can usually get the little things in life just the way we want them: our coffee can have the perfect amount of sugar; our pizza, the perfect toppings. Unfortunately, when it comes to the big things, we’re expected to compromise. We’re supposed to ignore the little flaws of our partners, muddle through the less-than-glamourous parts of our jobs and accept the fact that there’s no such thing as the perfect home…or is there?

Rather than deal with the continual maintenance of an older house or attempt to shoehorn remodeling plans on a pre-existing structure, some people choose to build a custom home from scratch. Continue reading “Are You Ready to Build a Custom Home?” »

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Five Tips for Healthy Vision

Regular eye exams are the cornerstone of good optical health. Photo: Mt. Tam Optometric Center (2017)

Whether or not you wear eyeglasses, you shouldn’t take your vision for granted. Here are five tips to maximize eye health and comfort:

1. Wear sunglasses. Sunglasses protect your eyes from the harmful effects of UV light, which lead to the development of cataracts, macular degeneration and other vision problems. To ensure protection from an early age, young children should start wearing sunglasses as soon as they’re able.

2. Treat dry eyes. This condition can be instigated by numerous causes (including a sustained lack of sleep) and may even come as a symptom of aging. In addition to getting an eye drop prescription from your doctor, consider taking omega-3 supplements, which can further help alleviate this condition. Continue reading “Five Tips for Healthy Vision” »

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Point of Entry: Getting Rid of an Uninvited Rodent

I named it Lucifer because it couldn’t help being evil. I’m talking about the rat I could hear scrabbling around beneath the heater vent in my kitchen every morning. It didn’t mean any harm, but the rustles and occasional squeaks were too much for me—it had to go.

As it turned out, my first move didn’t involve a pest control company. Before I could set traps, I had to deal with the brand-new front door dug directly beneath my front door.

Rats dig under stairs

Rats dug two new “front doors” underneath my front stairs. Photo: American Ratings Corporation, 2017

Before the rains came, these holes were caked with tufts of fur, eliminating any doubt that they were at least one major point of entry. Continue reading “Point of Entry: Getting Rid of an Uninvited Rodent” »

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How to Shop Online for a Home

When it comes to shopping online for a home, there are some common pitfalls you’ll want to avoid. Photo: Bower & Cole Group (2017)

If you’re like most home buyers nowadays, you probably started your search online, but what you found may have raised more questions than answers. This is because consumer-oriented portals (i.e. real estate websites like Trulia and Zillow) operate in very different ways and, consequently, can produce very different results. By gaining an understanding of how listings are published online, you’ll be able to avoid common pitfalls and shop for properties with greater accuracy and efficiency. Continue reading “How to Shop Online for a Home” »

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Video: Shower Door Options

Earlier this week, we posted an article featuring expert tips on bathroom remodeling. One of the aspects mentioned was shower enclosure design, which entails a wide range of options, as well as several practical considerations. To learn more about shower enclosure design options, watch this informative video by Diamond Certified Expert Contributor Joe Matthews, general manager of Schicker Luxury Shower Doors, Inc.

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Diamond Certified Experts: Bathroom Remodeling 101

When it comes to home remodeling, the bathroom is a perfect place to start. Photo: Bay Bathrooms and Kitchens (2017)

It’s a new year, which for many Bay Area homeowners means it’s time to start thinking about their next remodeling project. While there are several areas of the home to consider remodeling, an ideal place to start is the bathroom. Since the bathroom tends to be one of a home’s smallest spaces, it’s typically more affordable to renovate than larger areas like the kitchen. However, along with the kitchen, the bathroom is considered one the most lucrative areas of the home to remodel in terms of increasing resale value. Furthermore, since the bathroom is statistically considered the most dangerous room in the house (due to the increased chances for falls and other accidents), remodeling provides an opportunity to improve safety.

However, even though remodeling a bathroom offers many benefits, it can be a surprisingly complicated endeavor, which is why a successful result depends on a careful approach. To gain further insight into the process, we’ve asked six Diamond Certified Expert Contributors to weigh in on a few key areas. Continue reading “Diamond Certified Experts: Bathroom Remodeling 101” »

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How To Choose a Contractor

Here are eight steps you can take to hire a reputable remodeling contractor:

1. Obtain multiple bids (if possible). Getting multiple bids is a great way to ensure you’re making an informed choice. If you sign a contract, you have exactly three days to rescind in writing. Upon rescission, the contractor must return your deposit. If your area has been declared a disaster area, the three-day Right of Rescission extends to seven days.

2. Check license information. By law, anyone who undertakes to improve your home or property must have a contractor’s license if the cost from start to completion will exceed $500. You can check contractors’ licenses at cslb.ca.gov. Continue reading “How To Choose a Contractor” »

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