Diamond Certified Blog

Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Room of One’s Own: How to Create Your Own She Shed

she shed with garden

A she shed is a personal, private retreat where you can relax or explore a hobby. Photo: Landmark Landscapes (2016)

Why does it seem that every time you sit down, you get interrupted? The phone rings, the kids start fighting, your spouse can’t find the remote…inside our own homes, we can feel like we’re constantly forced to multitask or put someone else’s needs before our own. But what if there was a place where everything was different: a room of your own, made just the way you like it? Imagine a place where you could enjoy a respite from the distractions of daily life or pursue a hobby that brings you joy. And wouldn’t it be perfect if this room was just a few steps from your back door? If this sounds like a tempting proposition, then perhaps what you need is a “she shed.” Continue reading “A Room of One’s Own: How to Create Your Own She Shed” »

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Posted in Consumers, Home improvement, Home Tips, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

Creating a Fire-Safe Defensible Space

One of the most critical aspects of fire safety is creating a “defensible space” around your home: a 100-foot radius of property that’s specifically maintained to minimize fire risks. However, defensible space is often misunderstood—a lot of people think it merely consists of clearcutting all trees, shrubs and bushes within 100 feet of their homes, but this oversimplifies the matter. In reality, creating a defensible space involves a specific strategy.

A properly designed defensible space consists of two zones: Zone 1, which extends 30 feet from the house, and Zone 2, which extends 70 feet from Zone 1. In Zone 1, any dead vegetation should be removed or, in the case of grass and weeds, cut down to a height of no more than two inches. Don’t forget to remove dead plant materials that have fallen on the ground (leaves, twigs, pine needles). Additionally, Zone 1 should be free of firewood, building materials and other combustible items; these should be relocated to Zone 2 to maintain an adequate distance from the home’s structure.

In Zone 2, all weeds and grass should be mowed down to a height of no higher than four inches. Trees, bushes and shrubs should be well-trimmed, with the aim of creating horizontal spaces between them. Furthermore, space should be maintained between shrubs and any grass that surrounds them. Having these spaces between trees, bushes and shrubs will help prevent fire from spreading.

When combined, these two zones comprise a 100-foot defensible space around your home and make your property fire-safe. Keep in mind that maintaining a fire-safe property isn’t merely an optional precaution—it’s the law, as mandated by California Code 4291.

Lastly, in the course of creating a defensible space, make sure you’re performing the work in a safe manner. Sparks from landscaping equipment are a common cause of fire, so take precautions. Do the work early in the morning when it’s cool. Don’t do it on a windy day, and definitely don’t do it on a hot, windy day—that’s a good way to inadvertently start a fire while trying to prevent it.

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New Year, New Routines: How to Get Your Home Ready for School

It’s that time of year again: students in San Francisco go back to school in less than a week, and the rest of the Bay Area follows quickly behind. Whether you’ll miss the lazy, crazy days of summer or can’t wait for the structure of a school day, it’s time to (re)develop your “school’s in” routine. Last year at this time, we discussed four great ways to get your home ready for the school year. New year, same helpful tips. Here are four things you can do to jump back to school with panache.

Boy with backpack going back to school

A newly minted first-grader takes a final look back at summer. Photo: American Ratings Corporation, 2016

Create a family launch pad.
A launch pad can help soften the pain of school-morning madness…at least according to Cynthia Ewer, editor of Organizedhome.com. Using bookshelves, hooks and cubbies, you can create an area for all of the things your family needs to get out the door in the morning. A launch pad can be as simple as a cleared space on a bookshelf, but if you need a big solution for a big problem, consider hiring organizational help to create a functional, highly efficient system. Continue reading “New Year, New Routines: How to Get Your Home Ready for School” »

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Children’s Vision Care: Frequently Asked Questions

This summer, we’re scouting out answers to some of your frequently asked questions about children’s health. Earlier, we published Children’s Dental Care: Frequently Asked Questions. This week: children’s vision FAQs.

Children's vision care

Nutritional health and exercise will help keep a child’s eyes healthy throughout their life. Photo: American Ratings Corporation, 2016

How can I tell if my preschooler has vision problems?
The American Optometric Association (AOA) provides the following list of signs that may indicate vision problems among young children: Continue reading “Children’s Vision Care: Frequently Asked Questions” »

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Choose a Fabric that Performs (So You Don’t Have To)

Guest Post By Ron Smith, owner of J. Hettinger Interiors

choosing upholstery fabrics

Keep in mind that better fabrics will be priced higher. Photo: J. Hettinger Interiors, 2016

Ready for a makeover? Whether your old sofa needs a facelift or you’re redecorating your entire home, selecting fabrics will be a key part of the design process. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

First, when it’s time to select a fabric for your furniture, cost should be just one of the many factors you consider. A design professional can help you choose fabrics that wear well, clean easily and keep their color over time. Continue reading “Choose a Fabric that Performs (So You Don’t Have To)” »

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Posted in Consumers, Home improvement, Home Tips, Savvy Tips, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , ,

Children’s Dental Care: Frequently Asked Questions

Over the past few months, we’ve published a number of blogs concerning children’s health care—or, to be more specific, children’s dental and vision care. These posts have proven popular enough to warrant follow-up. So, just in time for summer, we’re scouting out answers to some of your frequently asked questions about children’s dental and vision care. This week: children’s dental FAQs.

Children's Dental Health

It’s never too early to start teaching your child about proper dental care. Image: American Ratings Corporation, 2016

When should I bring my child to his or her first dental exam?
The American Dental Association recommends bringing your child for its first exam by age 1 at the latest. Continue reading “Children’s Dental Care: Frequently Asked Questions” »

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Moving Up and Moving Out: 20 Questions to Ask Your Moving Company

how to choose a moving company

Before you schedule your move, make sure you know who is responsible for obtaining any necessary parking permits. Photo: You Move Me (2016)

For more helpful moving information, check out our Moving Resources Page. 

When it’s time to move, unless you’re planning to pack up your station wagon, you’ll need to select a moving company. As with all contractors, you should obtain at least three estimates before making a choice, but there are other factors to consider as well. Continue reading “Moving Up and Moving Out: 20 Questions to Ask Your Moving Company” »

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Posted in Consumers, Home improvement, Real Estate Tips, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Video: Tile Roof Maintenance

Earlier this week, we posted an article featuring expert tips on roof replacement and maintenance. One of the points mentioned was tile roof maintenance, which consists of several specific measures. To learn more about tile roof maintenance, watch this informative video by Diamond Certified Expert Contributor Tom Rhoads, owner of Roof-Life Construction.

To learn more from local top rated companies, visit our Diamond Certified Expert Reports at experts.diamondcertified.org.

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Consumer Response to the 2016 Diamond Certified Directory

2016 directory coverWe’re thrilled about the publication of our 2016 Diamond Certified Directory. (If you haven’t received your FREE copy in the mail yet, click here.) The 10 county-specific versions have been arriving in Bay Area mailboxes throughout April and we’re already seeing significant usage. We spend a lot of time getting the Diamond Certified Directory just right, so we love hearing from consumers who use it.

Barbara S. writes, “My husband and I keep the directory in a handy place because it’s our ‘go to’ resource when we need to find a service provider for our home and/or health.” Continue reading “Consumer Response to the 2016 Diamond Certified Directory” »

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Frequently Asked Questions about Real Estate Agents

Ready to dive into the deep waters of Bay Area real estate? Your first (and possibly most important) step is finding a guide, helpmate, champion and problem-solver: your real estate agent. Not sure where to start? Read on…

What does a real estate agent do?
What is the difference between a real estate agent, a Realtor® and a real estate broker?
Do I need a real estate agent?
How do I find a real estate agent?
How does a real estate agent get paid?
What are some of the qualities I should look for in a real estate agent? Continue reading “Frequently Asked Questions about Real Estate Agents” »

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