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Construction Mold Mold Testing Real Estate Soil and Water Testing vs. Remediation

Building Your Future: The Essential Toolkit for New Real Estate Developers

Building Your Future: The Essential Toolkit for New Real Estate Developers

If you’ve ever envisioned yourself as a real estate developer, transforming visions into tangible structures, now is the time to understand the complexities and master the skills required for success. Real estate development combines strategic planning, detailed industry knowledge, and project management. This guide will help you navigate these areas effectively, setting you on a path to not just participate but excel in the real estate industry.

Elevating Your Education

One of the foundational steps in becoming a skilled real estate developer is enhancing your educational background. Pursuing a degree in relevant disciplines like business hones your expertise in critical areas like market analysis and strategic planning. This may help you acquire competencies in vital fields such as financial oversight and effective communication. Online programs offer the versatility to maintain your professional commitments while progressing academically, ensuring a practical application of theoretical knowledge in real-time scenarios.

Understanding Local Regulations

Knowledge of local regulations is crucial for any real estate developer. Before diving into any development project, familiarize yourself with the specific laws and ordinances that govern property development in your area. This ensures your projects comply with zoning laws, building codes, and environmental regulations, safeguarding your investments and avoiding legal complications that could arise from non-compliance. Being well-versed in these regulations also enhances your credibility and operational efficiency.

Budget Mastery

Setting a comprehensive budget is your roadmap to financial discipline in real estate development. It helps define the scope of your project, forecasts potential expenses, and manages funding allocations. A well-planned budget ensures you remain within financial limits while striving to maximize returns on investments. It also prepares you to face financial challenges that may surface during the development process.

Effective Contract Management

Creating clear and comprehensive contracts is fundamental for managing interactions with clients and contractors effectively. When drafting these documents, you might opt to use Microsoft Word, which allows for extensive text and format modifications—capabilities that are more restricted in PDF formats. After finalizing your adjustments in Word, utilize an online tool to upload your document, convert it, and save the new file in PDF format—here is how you convert Word to PDF.

Analyzing Market Trends

Staying updated with the latest trends in the housing market can significantly influence your success as a real estate developer. Understanding these trends helps you make informed decisions about where and when to develop, what kind of properties are in demand, and how to price them. This knowledge enables you to position your projects strategically, ensuring they meet current market demands and consumer preferences. Adaptability to these trends is key to maintaining competitiveness and profitability.

Site Analysis

The potential of a real estate development project is often determined by the characteristics of the site itself. Assess factors like location, size, accessibility, topography, and proximity to amenities. A thorough analysis of these elements can help you maximize the usability and appeal of the site, which in turn can significantly enhance the project’s marketability and profitability. Optimal site selection is fundamental to the success of your development endeavors.

Professional Consultations

Engage with professionals such as real estate attorneys and land surveyors early in your project. Their expertise is invaluable in navigating the legal complexities of property rights, land use, and contracts. Additionally, they can provide crucial insights into the physical and legal limitations of a property, which are critical to successful real estate development. Leveraging their expertise can prevent costly mistakes and streamline your development process.

Environmental and Safety Assessments

When considering the acquisition of commercial properties, it is crucial to conduct professional evaluations for the presence of environmental hazards such as mold, lead, and asbestos. These assessments help in identifying potential risks that could affect the health of future occupants and the overall safety of the property. Early detection and remediation of these substances are essential to safeguarding both your investment and legal standing. Ensure a healthy and safe environment for your real estate development with expert testing and consulting services from RTK Environmental.

The journey to becoming a successful real estate developer is multi-faceted, requiring a blend of education, legal knowledge, financial acumen, and strategic foresight. By diligently following these steps, you are well on your way to mastering the complexities of real estate development. Equip yourself with the right knowledge and skills, and embrace the challenges ahead as opportunities to build not just properties, but a remarkable career in real estate development.

 

 

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Environment Gardening Health Healthy Home Soil and Water

Five Things to Do To Make Sure Your Yard Is Eco-Friendly

Five Things to Do To Make Sure Your Yard Is Eco-Friendly

Becoming an eco-friendly homeowner is a trend that’s on the rise, with more homeowners adopting eco-friendly interior design trends and beyond. That being said, it’s not uncommon for some homeowners to struggle with figuring out exactly where to get started. One excellent place to begin your eco-friendly journey is your yard. Whether you’re just now becoming more environmentally focused or you’ve moved into a new home and you want to immediately focus on making it one that’s kind to the Earth, here are five things to do to make sure your yard is eco-friendly.

Why Is It Important to Maintain an Eco-Friendly Yard?

Isn’t a yard automatically eco-friendly if it has grass? It’s easy to equate greenery with being eco-friendly, but there are numerous issues caused by modern yards. Some major issues include the use of pesticides and other chemicals that can affect drinking water and personal crops, the use of plants or turf that take up too much water and eliminate biodiversity, and practices like turning or mixing soil that can contribute to air pollution. Maintaining an eco-friendly yard is important to counteract many of the negative effects we’ve had on the environment thus far with common yard practices.

Five Ways to Get Started

1. Focus on Native Plants and Ones That Attract Pollinators

Most yards try to eliminate any plants that are considered undesirable and incorporate plants that are extremely hard to grow in an environment they’re not accustomed to. Being more eco-friendly is as simple as doing the opposite of this. Find native plants that thrive in your area to make your yard look great and help you save water. You should also focus on looking for plants that attract pollinators to support biodiversity and your local ecosystem.

2. Upcycle Old Materials for New Yard Decor

Outdoor furniture isn’t the most eco-friendly, especially if you’re trying to spruce up your yard on a budget. The good news? You don’t have to settle for cheap plastic furniture. If you’re savvy enough, you can upcycle old items that you either own or find for free locally into new yard decor. For example, a few shelves and a ladder can easily become a planter for some of your favorite flowers, fruits, or vegetables. More complex projects may include turning old barrels into patio chairs or using old chair seats and backs to create a hanging porch swing. Upcycling is the best way to reduce waste and breathe life into old things that will have a purpose in your yard. Just be sure not to disturb anything with toxic lead paint.

3. Ensure You’re Using Clean Soil

Clean soil is crucial to the health and well-being of not only you but the community as a whole. Many believe they’re using clean soil because they’ve sourced their own soil for their yard. However, what few realize is that soil can be contaminated by chemicals that are introduced during flooding, tainted compost, or even home renovations that introduce compounds like lead into the surrounding soil and vegetation. The best way to make sure your yard isn’t poisonous to you and to wildlife is to test your soil for lead and take the necessary course of action if you find that it is toxic.

4. Turn to Organic Mulch for Yard Support

Mulch is something that homeowners either love or want out of their yards. But while mulch doesn’t contribute to that fully green look that some are going for, it is an eco-friendly addition you should consider incorporating more of into your space. Organic mulch serves to regulate temperature, retain moisture in the soil, and add nutrients to the soil over time. You can keep adding it instead of having to mix your soil regularly, reducing overall air pollution as well. If you don’t have mulch in your yard, see how it might fit into your space and what look you’ll want to go for when you do make mulch a highlight of your yard.

5. Consider Groundcover or Other Options If Turf Isn’t for You

Not all environments are going to be the right fit for what you might think a yard is supposed to look like. Fortunately, you can choose another direction, one that’s likely more eco-friendly. If you live in a dry, hot climate, you may wish to use rocks for decor and plant cacti and other plants that won’t perish in your yard. If you have a very shady yard that receives little sun or has massive trees that need more water and nourishment, you can replace traditional turf with groundcover. When there’s a will to have a yard, there’s an eco-friendly way!

An eco-friendly lifestyle is one that involves every area of your life, including the way you go about decorating your home and tending to its surroundings. If you want to get started, the tips above will help you focus on developing an eco-friendly yard that will continue to serve you and the environment for years to come.

By: Katherine Robinson, a writer for Microbial Insights

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Gardening Health Healthy Home Soil and Water

This Summer Make Sure Your Water, Air and Soil Are Safe

Home inspections 101

Summer is almost here, so now’s the time to make sure your season is safe and healthy.

Before you dive into the pool, crank up the air conditioner, or start that victory garden, you’ll want to make sure that your water, air, and soil are clean and safe. Let’s face it; the frigid temperatures, wild winter weather, and common wear and tear that are typically noticeable this time of year are all indicators of potential contamination.

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Gardening Health Soil and Water

How to Get the Healthiest Crop From Your Garden

 

Toxic Soil: Are Your Garden Crops  Safe?

Organic gardening is a wonderful way to bring fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables straight from your garden to your table. To ensure that your produce is perfect, start with a soil test to make sure you are not planting in a toxic terrain.

After taking the necessary painstaking measures to ensure that your garden contains non-GMO seeds, no chemicals and pesticides, and organic compost to enrich and fertilize the soil, your hard work may be fruitless. If you plant your produce in soil that contains lead, arsenic, petroleum, pesticides, these and other toxins will make their way into your harvest – and into your mouth.

Sources of Soil Contamination:

Lead in soil is a very common problem, especially if you live in a pre-1978 built home or in a neighborhood of older homes. How does lead get into your soil? Sanding, prior to painting the exterior of an older home, can spew lead dust through the air. Flaking paint chips can also infiltrate into the soil. Lead dust can also be released through open windows when sanding a home’s interior walls. Even more disturbing, simply opening and closing windowsills that contain lead paint can release lead dust into your home and yard on a daily basis.

Another possible source of contamination is tainted compost. If you use public compost, you may be exposed to dangerous levels of lead and other toxins. Here’s why: When municipalities pick up lawn clippings and organic debris for composting, they don’t test first to see if the clippings and debris are free from contamination.

Flooding may also contaminate soil. Storm surges and flooding from storms and hurricanes, like Sandy and Irene, can spread industrial toxic contaminants to residential areas miles away. The floodwaters from Sandy carried an unthinkable mixture of wastewater, sludge, and toxins into people’s pristine yards, where many of the pollutants remain today.

Effects of Toxic Soil:

The damaging effects of ingesting these toxins – chromium, lead, petroleum, solvents, and many pesticide and herbicide formulations, among others – are extensive. According to Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF), these contaminants can be carcinogenic, and cause disease or other chronic health conditions.

What Can You Do?

The first line of protection for you and your family is to have your soil tested. A certified environmental testing company, like RTK, can tell you if your soil is safe. If the test reveals the levels of lead or other toxins in your soil are too high, several options exist to fix the problem – including soil removal, raising pH levels and adding organic matter, or mixing in new soil. A certified inspector can tell you which may be the best option for your situation.

Click here for more information or to schedule a soil test today.

Categories
Lead Soil and Water

Common Pool Contaminants and How To Protect Yourself

 

Common Pool Contaminants and How To Protect Yourself

Summer is here, and the pool is open! Before you dive in, know what you’re jumping into. Pool’s can be contaminated with lead dust, bacteria, and other toxins.

Lead Dust

While the pool in your yard may seem like a very controlled and safe place for your family to play, it’s not always the case. More and more, we are seeing cases of lead dust contamination in pools. What causes this?

Improper Renovations of Homes Built Before 1978

The primary cause is improperly renovating any home built pre-1978, the year lead paint was banned. If a contractor doesn’t take proper precautions, lead dust from layers of old paint will escape when sanded. Even if your home was constructed more recently, lead dust can travel when a neighbor’s home is renovated.

Fireworks

Toxic Lead In FireworksWe all love a good explosion around the July 4th holiday. But some fireworks still contain lead, which then explodes in the air and can land in your pool. A good rule of thumb is to cover your pool when you know there will be fireworks to prevent lead dust from contaminating it.

Lead dust is dangerous. Even small levels of lead exposure can irreversibly influence children’s development, from ADHD and autism-like symptoms to brain damage and lower IQ.

Parasites and Bacteria

Chlorine-Resistant Parasites

Pool Related IllnessEven though we maintain out pools, there is a chlorine-resistant parasite called Cryptosporidium, which can survive for 10 days or more even in water that’s chlorinated to kill germs.

Under-Chlorination or Poor Maintenance

If a pool is not properly chlorinated, all sorts of organisms can start to grow, from bacteria to algae. Germs and inhalation of chemicals can cause a rash, diarrhea, and can develop into potentially serious illnesses.

To protect yourself and your family in pool water, CDC recommends:

-Don’t swim if you have diarrhea.

-Don’t swallow the water.

-Shower before and after you are in the water.

A pool should be a fun place to play and cool off during the summer, so make sure your water is clean and lead-free. If you think there is a chance that your pool may be contaminated, call a professional to test the water. You can never be too careful when it comes to your and your family’s safety.

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Healthy Home Asbestos Health Lead Mold Soil and Water

First Time Homebuyers: What You Need to Know About Environmental Toxins

First Time Homebuyers: What You Need to Know About Environmental Toxins

 

The coronavirus pandemic has urbanites fleeing the city in droves and moving into their first house. Many are snatching them up at a quick glance, not realizing that the house comes with more than just additional space and fresh air. Environmental hazards like mold, asbestos, lead and radon may be lurking in your new home, and without a proper environmental inspection, you may not know until health symptoms develop.

Homes, anywhere and at any time, can harbor mold, asbestos, lead, or radon, and contain poor indoor air quality, polluted water, or volatile organic compounds (VOCs), any one of which can threaten one’s health. That is why investing in environmental testing services prior to purchase or once you’ve made the investment is a good idea.

5 Environmental Hazards to Watch Out For:

Mold

mold behind cabinetsMold can be visible or hidden behind walls, ceilings, or floors, under carpets, and even in HVAC systems. Mold can cause serious health issues including trouble breathing, allergies, headaches and dizziness. Mold can also be present and affecting your health even if no symptoms present themselves – everyone if affected differently. Testing for mold can pinpoint the source of the problem so that proper steps can be taken to remediate the issue.

Lead

lead soilLead is found in most homes built prior to 1978, the year lead paint was banned for residential use. Lead dust is the most common cause of lead poisoning, as lead dust can spread throughout a home and even into the soil surrounding your home. Unfortunately, most of the time you cannot see lead in dust or soil, so unless you test for it, you may not even know that this hazard is present. Lead poisoning can cause serious host of issues including neurological and cognitive deficits, autism-like symptoms, mood swings, and violent behavior.

Asbestos

Asbestos is commonly found in older homes in pipe insulation, tile, and attic or wall insulation, among dozens of other places. Breathing in asbestos fibers can cause serious health implications. At the least, asbestos is a breathing irritant. At worst, asbestos can cause mesothelioma, a serious cancerous condition that can lead to debilitating health problems and usually death.

Radon

radon testingRadon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas, is extremely hazardous to your health. It’s the second leading cause of lung cancer in the US. It is an odorless, tasteless and invisible gas produced when uranium naturally decays in soil and water. Since 90 percent of the land in the Northeast is likely to have elevated radon levels, every home should be tested for radon.

Poor Indoor Air Quality

indoor air quality testingVolatile organic compounds, or VOCs, and mold make up almost 90% of indoor air quality issues. VOCs are toxic fumes that are off gassed from many building and everyday materials including new flooring or carpeting, paint, cleaners and detergents. Poor indoor air quality can cause headaches, nausea, allergies, difficulty breathing, and rashes, just to name a few.

A Traditional Home Inspection Isn’t Enough

Home inspections are obviously necessary for the sale or purchase of a home. But what many buyers are realizing is that these inspections usually do not take into consideration mold infestation, lead, asbestos, and water quality. Most home inspectors lack the knowledge and certifications necessary to test for potentially toxic substances.

What Is an Environmental Home Inspection?

renovation adviceMold testing, lead inspection, asbestos testing, water testing, and indoor air quality testing may all be performed during an environmental inspection. Environmental home inspections can vary depending on the age and condition of the home. Such inspections should be scheduled with a certified, independent testing company – even before your sign a contract. It’s important that the company you hire doesn’t perform both testing and remediation, as that is a conflict of interest.

Not all environmental hazards are obvious, and they can cause serious health issues. To detect them requires expertise, licensure, technology, and experience. If you would like more information on what types of environmental inspections may be right for you, please feel free to call us at 800.392.6468. Live well!

 

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Asbestos Gardening Health Healthy Home Lead Soil and Water

Is Your Garden Soil Safe?

Is Your Garden Soil Safe?

A home garden is a unique and hands-on way to connect with your food. But it’s not just which vegetables and herbs you’re planting, it’s what you’re planting it in that counts, too. The fact is that contaminants lurk in your soil, and can greatly affect what you eat, and ultimately your health. Soil can be polluted by harmful contaminants such as lead, asbestos, pesticides, herbicides, and heavy metals; so it’s important to test your soil before you even start your garden.

Lead is the most common pollutant, especially if your home (or surroundings) were constructed prior to 1978. Before that date, paint contained lead. So, every time the old paint is disturbed (whether renovating or sanding to repaint), lead dust is released. And that dust winds up in the soil and the air you breathe. Lead is highly toxic and can cause severe health problems, including damage to the brain and nervous system. Pregnant women and children are especially susceptible to lead poisoning.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fiber that was commonly used in construction before the 1980s. Again, if those fibers are disturbed and released into the air, you can be affected. Exposure to asbestos has been linked to severely increasing your chances of developing mesothelioma and other cancers.

There are other poisons that can be found in soil – the very solvents, pesticides, and herbicides that are available to the general public and can cause damage to plants, can also affect the soil surrounding your home, and can contaminate water runoff. Pesticides and herbicides can cause neurological poisoning and affect memory, coordination, and response times—especially in children.

Polluted water runoff poses a risk to soil conditions, local water sources, and residential wells. Polluted runoff can result in a variety of health problems and waterborne infectious diseases, especially when water remains stagnant.

So, plant those gardens, but be aware of the noxious elements that can spoil your soil! And remember to have your soil tested by a non-biased environmental company, like RTK Environmental Group, prior to starting any landscaping or gardening projects.

 

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Health Healthy Home Soil and Water Video

Video: Is Your Well Water Contaminated?

In recent years, testing revealed that 70% of wells in Stamford, CT were contaminated with uranium and arsenic. Wells from Boston to Washington, DC have tested positive for a variety of harmful contaminants. You may mistakenly believe that because your drinking water comes from a well, it’s pure and safer than water from reservoirs. But well water can contain a host of contaminants, including coliform bacteria, uranium, lead, arsenic, E. coli, nitrates, VOCs (volatile organic compounds) radon, pesticides, and MtBE (a gasoline compound), which can cause a wide variety of health problems, including skin problems; damage to the brain, kidneys, and neurological system; gastro-intestinal illness; hair loss; and immune deficiencies.

The only way to know if your water is harming your family is to have it tested by an independent testing service like RTK Environmental. If you are interested in learning more or setting up a test, call us at (800) 392-6468 or learn more about water testing here.

 

Categories
Asbestos Flooding & Water Damage Health Healthy Home Indoor Air Quality & Radon Lead Mold Mold Testing Soil and Water Weitz Advice

Storm Cleanup: After a Storm, Don’t let Mold or Toxins Take up Residence in Your Home

Storm Cleanup: After a Storm, Don’t let Mold or Toxins Take up Residence in Your Home

As massive cleanup efforts and power restoration continue throughout the region after a lightning-fast-moving storm, homeowners should be aware of the potential that flooding and water damage are causing.

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Healthy Home Lead Soil and Water Weitz Advice

How Do I Know If My Water Is Contaminated?

How Do I Know If My Water Is Contaminated?

The tragedy that unfolded in Flint, Michigan has opened the public’s eyes to a dirty secret – the old, decaying water infrastructure in the United States is leaching toxic material into our water supply and poisoning us. Many other cities, from Cleveland to Newark, discovered that their water supply contains high levels of lead and other contaminants as well.

While we don’t have control over the public water supply, we do have control over our own homes. Buying bottled water to drink does not solve the overarching issue of contaminated water. Every day, we use our tap water to brush our teeth, bathe, wash clothes and dishes, water our vegetable gardens, and more. If your water contains lead or other toxins, your health is at risk. So what can you do? Here are 4 tips to help ensure your water is safe.

1. Have Your Water Tested By A Professional

A water testing kit is not going to give you accurate results or peace of mind that your water is safe, especially if the sample is not taken correctly, which happens often. Whether it’s your home, office, school, gym, or a public facility, only a comprehensive water test conducted by an independent testing company can produce reliable results by using state-certified (licensed) laboratories. Your local health department sometimes offers to test your water for free for bacteria or nitrates, but it’s far from a comprehensive test and involves some work on your part. Choose a professional service that performs only testing so that you get thorough, unbiased results. If they find a problem, they will help you determine what your next steps should be. Comprehensive water testing will confirm whether your water supply contains:

  • Lead or other heavy metals
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
  • Asbestos
  • Radon
  • Arsenic
  • Uranium
  • Pesticides
  • Bacteria
  • PCBs
  • E.coli
  • Coliform
  • Dozens of other contaminants

These environmental hazards can cause serious health issues.

2. Watch For Health Symptoms From Contaminated Water

Drinking and bathing in contaminated water can cause chronic health issues, including joint pain; body numbness; skin rashes and problems; damage to the brain, kidneys, and neurological system; gastro-intestinal illness; hair loss; and immune deficiencies. If you or a family member starts to have any of these symptoms, your water may be to blame.

3. Know If the EPA Regulates Your Water

water testing The EPA regulates public water systems, but it does not regulate private water wells. Yet, nearly 25% of private wells contain harmful contaminants, according to the U.S. Geological Survey Water Science School. In the New York tri-state area, high levels of arsenic, radon, and heavy metals are a major issue. Arsenic, radon, and heavy metals can seep into the water supply from rock, not just industrial pollution. Water in areas that have experienced flooding can also become contaminated.

Although the Connecticut State Department of Public Health does not require private well owners to test their water for known toxins, other communities are taking steps to protect us. Westchester County in New York implemented the Westchester County Private Well Water Testing Legislation, Local Law 7 – 2007, which requires that water testing be conducted upon the signing of a contract of sale for any property served by a private well. New Jersey also has similar testing laws.

4. Test Your Water Annually – From All Faucets

At a minimum, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) recommends that you check your well every spring to make sure there are no mechanical problems, and have it tested once each year for total coliform bacteria, nitrates, total dissolved solids, and pH levels. Every few years you should test for additional contaminants. If you get your water from a municipality, take the time to read the quality report on water, which must be published annually.

Unfortunately, even if the report is excellent, that does not mean your pipes or fixtures are free from harmful lead or bacteria. Pipes traveling from the road to your home can deteriorate, sometimes with parts disintegrating down to dirt, which the water flows through to get into your home. The only way to know for sure is to have a licensed professional test water from each faucet in your home. There may be a problem in one faucet, and not the rest.

For more information on water testing, click here. To set up a water test in the tri-state area, call RTK at (800) 392-6468 or click here.