Home Reviews

Learn How Many Trees it Takes to Build a House?

There are many good reasons to take care of your home and saving trees is one of them. You would be surprised at how many trees it takes to build a house. Good maintenance helps protect the environmental investment that is made in your home. Sustainability folks refer to this as the embedded environmental footprint of the home. This footprint signifies that in addition to the monetary cost of your home, constructing it extracted a toll on the environment and removed value from our future natural resource bank account. Learn how much timber and future homes were lost in last years fires.

How many trees to build a home?
Big timber trusses from second growth forests

Land had to be cleared, prepared and dedicated to a house rather than the natural environment. Materials had to be mined and manufactured into useable components all of which took labor and energy to produce. The making of concrete, glass, petroleum, metals, plastics, fiberglass, paint, asphalt, appliances and wood products all extract costs on the environment and many of these are non-renewable. Let’s take a deeper look at just one example of the environmental costs to build an average home. The number of trees that went into its construction.


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There are many, many parts needed for a house and a lot of time, money and energy is expended. The carbon footprint for building a home from scratch is large.
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How many trees to build a home?
Old log barn from 1800’s in Yosemite National Park

You can save trees by taking care of your home.

Today lumber comes in pre-cut, ready to use pieces of wood that no longer resemble the trees from which they came. But that wasn’t always the case. Houses were originally built by hearty folks who had to actually harvest the trees themselves. Many log homes were built with minimal sawn lumber because cutting trees down, then sawing them up was hard and expensive. Knowing how many and of what size to cut was important. It is way too easy today to forget that lots of trees are needed to build our modern homes.


Preserving and Protecting Exposed Wood Beams

To extend their useful lives and preserve that premium value, big beams exposed to the weather need special help.
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Board footage

Learning about board footage is a simple forestry exercise. We can use it to determine the number of trees needed for the lumber to build our home.

The amount of wood in a tree is referred to as board footage. A board foot is 1”x12”x12”. Since there are 12 board feet in every cubic foot, you just need to determine the volume of a tree to understand its useful wood yield. Since most lumber comes from cylindrical shaped, coniferous trees, you can do this by measuring the height of the tree and multiplying by its average cross-sectional area.

How many trees to build a home?
Old growth trees

The height of a tree can be calculated very accurately from the ground by using a tape measure and basic trigonometry (yes, you finally get to use some high school math,) or more roughly by measuring shadows. Learning how to do this is a fun exercise and videos and descriptions can be readily found online. For our purposes we will simply use the average height of currently harvested trees which is eighty feet.

Next we need to determine the diameter of the tree. Foresters use a standard place to measure diameter at chest height, or about 4.5 feet above the ground. This following may sound complex but it is not.


Using a tape measure and the formula Diameter=Circumference/3.14 you can calculate the area of the diameter of the tree. You’ll need to divide the diameter by 2 to get the radius for the rest of the calculations, and you’ll want to divide this radius by 12 to put it in feet rather than inches! From this area we can figure out cubic feet using Cubic Feet=(Area x Height)/4, where 4 is used to account for the taper of the tree from the base to the top. With this volume known, all you have to do is multiply it by 12 to get board feet!

Now that we know how to figure out the amount of wood per tree, we just need to know how much wood we will need to understand how many trees we will need to cut down.

Mature Trees Needed Per Home

The precise amount of lumber required to build a wood-framed house varies slightly across the nation, but a good average would be 6.3 board feet for the structural framing materials in every square foot of house. According to the Census Bureau, the average American home built in 2013 was 2,600 square feet, meaning it would have required 16,380 board feet of lumber to build!

Homeowners should know the trees needed to build a home
An ancient, old-growth log. I lost count of the rings at 825. It started growing about the time the Magna Carta was signed.

So how many trees does it take to build a house? For the sake of discussion, consider an average mature fir or pine tree with a height of 80’ and a diameter of 2’. Using the calculation detailed above, you will find that its lumber yield is about 754 board feet. And if you require 16,380 board feet to frame the average home, almost 22 mature firs will be needed.

Another 22-24 trees will be needed for the rest of the house and its finishes. Hardwood floors, cabinets, siding, roofing, paneling etc. could more than double the number of trees needed to complete the home. In total, building a home today will consume forty-four mature trees for every 2600 square feet. Be sure to include the garage when adding up your square footage.

Trees take time to grow

The problem with trees is it takes a long time to make one. To put the environmental value into perspective, each 80’ tall fir tree takes about 6 decades to grow to that size. Forty-four of these beautiful trees represents 2,640 tree/years of growth. All this for just a single average American home. To be available today, these trees must have begun growing just after World War II.

The sacrifice of trees is a big environmental investment in your home. Especially when they are used to make in a structure that perhaps through a combination of fickleness, change of fashion and poor care may only last 50 years. From a tree’s perspective every year a structure can be extended, counts–times 44!

Trees in history

In addition to habitat, trees furnish essential requirements like clean water, food and oxygen. As humans evolved and migrated around the globe, trees also provided additional necessities such as energy, shelter, medicine, tools and transportation in the form of wheels and ships. A primary motivation to explore the new world was to find more trees as they had become scarce on the European continent. Running out of trees, as happened on Easter Island can be devastating and have irreversible consequences.

Trees and climate

Trees contribute directly to the environment by providing oxygen, improving air quality, climate amelioration, conserving water, preserving soil, and supporting wildlife. During the process of photosynthesis, trees take in carbon dioxide and produce the oxygen we breathe.

Trees help to control climate by moderating the effects of the sun, rain and wind. Leaves absorb and filter the sun’s radiant energy, keeping things cool in summer. Trees also preserve warmth by providing a screen from harsh wind. In addition to influencing wind speed and direction, they shield us from the downfall of rain, sleet and hail. Trees also lower the air temperature and reduce the heat intensity of the greenhouse effect by maintaining low levels of carbon dioxide.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “One acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen. This is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people.” Trees, shrubs and turf also filter air by removing dust and absorbing other pollutants like carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. After trees intercept unhealthy particles, rain washes them to the ground.


Construct your wood deck to last a lifetime.

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Summary: Trees are high value asset

Catastrophic fires impact the availability of lumber for 200-300 years to come.

It took at least sixty years to grow each of the forty four trees needed for your average home today. Post-harvest replanting continues to increase and the industry is very conscious of sustainability of the yield. Still, trees are slow to grow and replace themselves. Combined with slow replacement, the destruction of thousands of forest acres that now burn up every summer lead me to wonder how many will be left for tomorrow’s homes? Check out how many homes could be built with the timber we recently lost.

The value of our forests are truly priceless. They are worth managing properly and protecting. Homeowners can help by making sure their home is well-maintained. As an example, the average wood deck will only last 10-15 years. Is it worth it to harvest 100 year old redwood trees to make a deck that will only last 15 years? With good design, construction methods and maintenance that deck could easily last 30 years. That is double or triple the life of an unmaintained deck and makes the calculation much more sustainable. Still, trading a 100 year old tree for a deck that only lasts 30 years still appears to me to be a poor trade.

Bottom line:

It takes more than 20 full-grown Douglas Fir trees to build every 1,000 square feet of structure. To find out how many trees would it take to build your house, go to Zillow.com, enter your address and add the square footage, (plus any garage footage) for the total. Then divide the total square footage by 120.33 to arrive at the number of trees needed for your home. Then multiply the total number of trees by 60 to find out the number of tree years it took to grow all those trees. You will be shocked?

So make sure you build your home to last, then maintain it properly. Even incremental improvements in durability can affect a big difference in sustainability. Make the most out of the trees we use… and the trees we have left. If you need help with improving your maintenance program, you can read more here at www.homepreservationmanual.com or contact the folks at HPS Palo Alto Inc. They can answer questions and point you in the right direction!

Study Confirms Stewardship is Strong Environmental Strategy

Finally, a formal study has confirmed what I have been advocating and putting into practice through my company now for over 25 years. Properly caring for and maintaining our existing home inventory results in enormous benefits to the environment compared to building new. Stewardship is proven to be a powerful and affordable environmental strategy.

The study looked at both commercial and residential buildings in Portland, Phoenix, Chicago, and Atlanta and revealed the potential for large carbon impact reduction by comparing the relative environmental impacts of building maintenance, reuse and renovation (Stewardship) vs. new construction over an assumed 75-year period.

“It makes sense that if you don’t have to replace something, you avoid having to use up labor, energy and raw materials to make it.”-Steve Spratt

Contrary to popular belief, the benefits of reusing and renovating buildings far outweighed the benefits of constructing new energy-efficient structures. According to the study, a new building that is even 30% more efficient than the average building takes up to 80 years to overcome the negative climate change impacts resulting from construction.

Even building re-use projects that produced carbon impact reductions that seemed small when considering only one building, showed substantial savings when large numbers went under the microscope. The highest returns came from simply maintaining existing structures properly. The returns came from reduced failures and increases in durability and life while maximizing operational efficiency. It makes sense that if you don’t have to replace something, you avoid having to use up labor, energy and raw materials to make it.

“…building reuse can avoid unnecessary carbon outlays and help communities achieve their near-term carbon reduction goals…”

“If the city of Portland were to retrofit and reuse the homes and commercial office buildings that it is otherwise likely to demolish over the next 10 years, the potential impact reduction would total approximately 231,000 metric tons of CO2 – approximately 15% of their county’s total CO2 reduction targets over the next decade,” so says the Preservation Green Lab, a division of the National Trust.

Roughly 82 billion square feet of existing space will likely be demolished and replaced between 2005 and 2030, representing about 25% of the existing building stock in the U.S., projects the Brookings Institution. Reusing these buildings and renovating them for higher efficiency – especially with renovations requiring fewer material inputs – have the potential to realize the greatest short-term carbon savings, the study authors note.

“Most climate scientists agree that immediate-term action is crucial to staving off the worst impacts of climate change,” the research stressed. “This study finds that building reuse can avoid unnecessary carbon outlays and help communities achieve their near-term carbon reduction goals.”

Bottom line, Stewardship is a better environmental strategy than building new. Maintenance matters.

Want to live better AND help the environment? Contact HPS Stewardship now!

Source: Preservation Green Lab, National Trust

How bad were Western fires in 2020?


As of the end of October, Six-million acres will have burned across Oregon, Washington and California.

The fires combined with the chaos of Covid-19 on mill production and distribution has caused lumber prices to skyrocket by 120% at the end of September.

An estimated 900 million* harvestable trees were destroyed plus approximately twice that number of immature trees. In addition, several lumber mills were destroyed along with all the inventory of previously harvested lumber. Many logging operations lost all of their equipment in the fires.

To give you an idea of the magnitude, we lost enough lumber to build 23 million homes which would have been enough to replace 1 of every four single family homes in the US.

A mature and healthy forest has less than 100 trees per acre. One of the many forest management problems we face today is that the density of trees has become as heavy as 300-400 per acre in some areas. This creates a thicket and fire hazard instead of a forest.

The good news (if there is any) is that as terrible as it is it lose 6 million acres of forest, it is still less than the 9-million acres lost in 2018, and the 10-million acres lost in 2017.

The total lumber lost in the last four years would have replaced every home, apartment and condo in the US.

*Let’s say the harvestable trees amount to an average of only 150 per acre, then this last summer in Oregon, Washington and California where six million acres have burned so far 900 million marketable trees have been lost. During the last four years nearly 30 million acres have been lost to fires.

Avoid being a real estate loser

How Homeowners Can Avoid Being Real Estate Losers

A strategy for maximizing the value of your home…and enjoying it more too!

If you’re thinking about selling your home and wondering what you should do to fix it up, I’m afraid I have bad news.  It may already be too late.  I hate to tell you that you are about to lose time, money, and any enjoyment the sprucing up of your home would have brought you.

It’s true, even if you rake in a ton of equity from appreciation, you are still losing out because you will not be getting anywhere near what you could and should have. The reason is simple and it’s a lesson that most homeowners learn too late.

The more marketable your home is kept, the more value it has.

Here’s the secret: Even if you do not intend to sell your home…having the ability to market it quickly makes it more valuable. In other words, the faster it can sell, the more it is worth.

Your home is not a “liquid” asset and getting money from one is not like cashing a check at the bank. Selling a home is complicated and takes time…and time is money.  Once you have decided to sell, you will need to hire a realtor, have the home inspected, perhaps fix it up, set a price, advertise, market, hold open house, entertain offers, open escrow, allow buyer inspections, repair problems, negotiate the price further and hopefully the buyer can secure their loan and finally, actually close the sale. All this can take months even if your home is in perfect condition…and it probably is not.

Today’s home buyers want homes that are in good, and preferably excellent condition. Fixer-uppers are not desirable and will be avoided or heavily discounted at best. If your home needs work the selling process will take longer, and there will always be more work than you expect.

Your home has to be exceptional as it will be competing with others for buyers and these days home shoppers are very sophisticated, more demanding and much less handy than in the past.  Buyers will be hiring professional inspectors who will pick your home apart if it is not in good shape. Splashing a little black paint on the front door and replanting a few dead shrubs is not going to cut it if you really want to get top dollar. And you do!

Waiting around till the last minute to fix up your home for sale is the worst possible strategy.

don't be a real estate loser

Bottom line, having your home ready to sell at any moment makes it more valuable. Conversely, waiting around till the last minute to fix up your home for sale is the absolute worst possible strategy.

“Fixing up” will cost more than you think. It will also take longer than you want, and as a final insult, you will not get to enjoy the benefits from any of the improvements. Those will go to the lucky buyer.

Forget about enjoying the new paint, carpet, water heater, cooktop, oven and shower etc. …you waited too late.

Here’s my tip. The way YOU can get maximum value from your home is to do something almost no homeowner ever does…start planning for the eventual sale the minute you take ownership.

With my strategy, you can avoid falling into this money losing trap while enjoying a nicer home too, but you need to start now.   This is what I call the “live like royalty” strategy. Keeping your home in palace-like condition all the time.

Start living better!

And here’s the really good part.  In order to make your home more valuable you must start living better.  Yes, you have permission.  You must stop delaying repairs, stop avoiding replacing those aged appliances, stop deferring maintenance and start enjoying your home more while keeping it at top value at the same time. It means everything about the home is maintained proactively and kept in excellent condition. The way it must be to sell. And you get to enjoy living in it that way!

Why don’t most homeowners do this? Good question.  Many can barely afford to buy the home and perhaps do not have the resources to care for it. Some simply do not know how. Some have no time. Others are just misinformed and think that this big expensive home will never wear out.

It will.

I’m sure there are other reasons why homeowners don’t do this, and I am trying hard to inform them otherwise… but seriously who cares? As long as you know better… your home will be more valuable and more fun to live in… and that is what matters.

If you have $500,000 in cash, the best way to keep it from drifting away is to put it in a bank vault. Unfortunately, you can’t put your home in a vault, so the best way to maintain its value is to keep it in perfect condition… through a smart Stewardship strategy from HPS.

Want to know more?  Keep reading this website or go to www.homepreservation.com and learn how they can do it all for you. This year HPS is celebrating 25 years of service to Silicon Valley’s finest homes and smartest homeowners.


Wet wipes and baby wipes are NOT a replacement for toilet paper!

wipes are NOT a replacement for toilet paper

You’ve read my earlier warnings about using wet wipes and their damage to your plumbing and septic system, now listen to why a Surgeon Is Begging You to Stop Using them! Wet wipes were a go-to solution during the Covid-19 TP shortage and, from that experience, many have adopted them as the afficionado’s version of Toilet Paper. Some feel like wet wipes are fancier and more grown-up. In addition to the tush pampering factor, people who swear by them believe that the method is more thorough and leaves things cleaner than it would otherwise be.

Unfortunately, it appears those beliefs are misleading, and a rectal surgeon says it’s time to “can” those wet wipes for good.

“…wet wipes aren’t the best option for the health of your posterior.”

“People think if they can use a wet wipe on their baby, they can use it on themselves,” says Evan Goldstein, DO, colorectal surgeon and founder of Future Method. However, while wet wipes might make you think you’re getting your bum cleaner, they can actually cause myriad complications that you really don’t want to have to deal with in the long run. In addition to being a major environmental concern—which was discussed in our earlier article—wet wipes aren’t the best option for the health of your posterior.

Wiping away good bacteria

Just like the skin on your face, your anus and its surrounding skin is covered in good and bad bacteria. These work together to find homeostasis and keep your pooper in tip-top condition. “This is important, so when you start to augment that [microbiome] with wet wipes, what happens is that you’re wiping away the good bacteria and the imbalance becomes a problem,” says Dr. Goldstein. When there’s an imbalance, you can wind up with irritation, rashes, or fungal or bacterial infections. “With the homeostasis in the biome altered, bad bacteria starts to populate fungus or irritation, which I see all of the time,” he says, noting that a obvious signs of this are redness and overall discomfort. Even wet wipes that are “chemical-free” will do this.

Wet wipes can cause major problems for your home’s plumbing, the ecosystem as they can wind up in rivers and streams and now they are unhealthy to boot.

Another big risk with using wet wipes as a replacement for toilet paper is excessive moisture. “People tend to use wet wipes and then pull up their pants, so what happens is that the moisture sits there,” says Dr. Goldstein. “The moisture just festers, and it causes a change in bacteria and leads to irritation.” If this continually happens, he notes that people can feel as though they have fissures or hemorrhoids when really it’s just a buildup of irritation and bad bacteria. If you experience something like this, make an appointment with your doctor to see what’s going on.

Double danger

Wet wipes can cause major problems for your home’s plumbing, the ecosystem. They can wind up in rivers and streams and now they are unhealthy to boot. “This a major issue,” says Dr. Goldstein (a major Toto washlette and bidet fan) — so wet wipes should never, ever be used.

At this time, I think we have got to the bottom of this issue!

Taking quality real estate photos of your home or project is easier than ever.

Here are some pro tips to help you capture beautiful images.

Planning ahead

Make a site visit to inspect the property before the shoot. Be sure you have access to all the important areas. Try to identify lighting and composition challenges ahead of time.

Turn on the lights and open the blinds. Lighting is your most important tool. If the lighting is poor or the wrong color, bring some portable lighting equipment to properly set off the scenes. If there is a good view, take advantage of it.

Choose flattering elevations and compositions. Like people, every home or project has its best side. It could be an exquisite design, or an interesting shape or color. It could even be something with a dramatic backdrop. Get in close with a macro lens to highlight intricate details and workmanship.


Don’t spend much time or money worrying about equipment. The model and type of camera you use is of little concern. Any average digital camera will do. Much more important than the equipment is your knowing how to use it properly. In fact, really awesome project images can be captured using a cell phone. I especially like the iPhone 11 pro max because it is small, easy to use and it has an ultrawide (13mm) lens built in. It also compensates for poor lighting situations automatically and produces awesome colors.

Another great camera for this type of work is the six year-old Nikon D7000. See a full review including settings and use of this camera at my friend Ken Rockwell’s website. Mate this camera with a 18-300MM for outdoors and consider a 12-24MM lens for indoors. The 18-300MM zoom makes it possible to easily see flashing and roof details without a ladder.

Why have an ultrawide lens like the 12-24mm in your kit? Normal lenses that come with cameras usually only go wide enough to capture one part of a wall at a time. An ultrawide lens captures an entire room instead of part of a wall. As a bonus, an ultrawide-angle lens will make any room or structure look bigger. Realtors love this. Unfortunately, all but the most expensive ultra-wide lenses impart distortion. Distortion will show up in images with straight walls and flat horizontal roof lines that most homes have. The good news is that slight distortion isn’t a major problem unless you are trying to emphasize straightness or square mechanical aspects of the home.

Aerial images using drones equipped with cameras can provide access to exciting perspectives that would not normally be available. Drone images are well suited for showing off pools, landscapes and dramatic features.

©Steve Spratt 2019 All rights reserved.


Declutter the home and remove distracting flaws from your shots. Once you have decided on the composition and shot angles it’s time to scrub the area down. Remove any unsightly items or anything that distracts from the shot. Take a practice image and study it for things that do not belong, then remove them. Repeat till you get an undistracted image of the important subject material.

Choose good lighting for your shoot. Understanding how to properly light your subject is the most complex technical subject you will need to master. Most electric indoor lighting is terrible and difficult to work with. Be especially careful of bright light at the windows and dark shadows outdoors. Early mornings or evenings around sunset are best for the outdoor shots.

Focus on interesting subjects. A beautiful kitchen is just another beautiful kitchen so try to zero in on the things that make it beautiful. Is it color, texture, clever design, symmetry, fancy appliances or whatever?

Stage the shot

Take some practice snaps and look at the thumbnail images.  If the thumbnails of your practice images are lacking character or empty looking, your full size image will look bad too. If this happens, it’s time to refine the composition or maybe bring in the props. This is often necessary with new homes or additions that are still unoccupied. New landscapes and hardscapes can look much better with strategically placed outdoor furniture, teak tables, chaise lounges, BBQ’s etc. Even a couple of colorful floaties in an empty pool will help bring some life to the shot.

Use a tripod to take the final picture and get the composition just right. Avoid tilting the camera oddly or accentuating too much distortion. A tripod can help you get the best focus and can get the camera closer to the surfaces. This is especially useful around pools of water to get cool reflection shots. Use a tripod and set the ISO to its lowest setting. The tripod is stable and allows you take long exposures. Long exposures mean you can use small apertures for sharp focus and clean crisp images.

Before and after

Before and after images can tell very compelling stories. If you have an interesting project coming up, be sure to get great “before” shots. Take shots in good lighting from all directions and angles. That way at the end of the project you will likely have a decent image that will match up with some photo of your new work.

Make large prints  

Architectural images look their best in larger sizes. Images taken with the equipment described above will allow for truly huge enlargements.

Former SF Giants GM Bobby Evans named to lead innovative San Francisco Peninsula home services firm.

HPS Palo Alto, Inc (Home Preservation Services) has announced that Robert C. “Bobby” Evans has been named their new CEO. Bobby has a business degree from UNC at Chapel Hill and comes to HPS after a long, successful executive career in professional baseball. Home Preservation Founder Steve Spratt will remain as President.

After working for former commissioner Fay Vincent in MLB’s main office, Mr. Evans spent a quarter century with the San Francisco Giants before retiring in 2018 as General Manager. If you are a Giants fan, Bobby shares credit for some of the best baseball moments of your life. As director of player personnel and vice president of baseball operations, he had a significant impact on developing the players who would form the core of the Giants three  World Series wins in 2010, 2012, and 2014. In addition, Bobby was responsible for successfully recruiting, hiring and managing over 350 employees in the Giants organization and developing one of the most respected and loved baseball cultures ever produced.

Steve Spratt, Home Preservation Services founder and president comments that “HPS offers a unique home management service called Stewardship and is well positioned to be a disruptive growth agent in the home services and construction industry.Stewardship provides systemized, high quality and comprehensive preventive maintenance, repair and construction services that assist homeowners to better manage and care for their homes. Bobby Evans has been utilizing our services as an HPS client for many years and we are honored and excited to now have him as part of our executive management team. We look forward to Bobby’s help leading and expanding our culture of quality and high standards across the US. Bobby created feelings of great pride and accomplishment in our community that stick with us and will be passed down for many generations. We welcome Bobby to our HPS team and look forward to bringing meaningful and needed improvements to the home services world.”

HPS is an established and innovative home services company based in Los Altos CA, employing 45 people and currently serving nearly 300 homes and estates on the San Francisco Peninsula.

Your Home is Both Refuge and InvestmentThis Pandemic reminds us that home is both refuge and investment.

At HPS, we have always promoted the home as serving two valuable functions for the family. First, your home is a refuge. A trouble-free, safe, comfortable place where you and your family can retreat, reconnect and reenergize. Second, your home is a financial investment, an asset that should be protected and kept at its highest marketable value at all times.

Since most of us have been confined at home to help control the spread of this pandemic, the last seven weeks have offered a good opportunity to assess how your home is serving you. Has your home been a comfortable refuge? Do you feel the home is in its top marketable condition?

Make your home both a refuge and investment

If the answer is no to either of those questions, it is time to allow HPS to provide some more help. Here’s how we do it:

Getting the home into top marketable condition is a matter of inspecting the home, preparing a list of defects, repairs and worn out items and creating a prioritized plan to get them fixed as quickly as your budget allows. Once the repair list is fixed, our quarterly Stewardship maintenance will help to keep the home in top condition.

To turn your home into more of a refuge for you and your family requires a more personal approach. Bottom line, you should love being in your home, even after seven weeks. If you don’t, the solution is to make a list of things that you don’t like or that irritate you or make you uncomfortable. Then let HPS help you create a strategy to change those things.

It’s amazingly easy to implement change once you have developed a plan to make your home is a refuge and investment.  Just let HPS follow through with quality planning, estimates and repairs!

The last several weeks have given us all an opportunity to learn more about our home. Let’s use what we’ve learned to better care for it. Contact HPS and let us help you create and implement a plan to take better care of this most valuable family refuge… and investment.

The Doctor Who Helped Defeat Smallpox Explains What’s Coming

Epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, who warned of pandemic in 2006, says we can beat the novel coronavirus—but first, we need lots more testing.

he doesn’t have a crystal ball. But 14 years ago, Brilliant, the epidemiologist who helped eradicate smallpox, spoke to a TED audience and described what the next pandemic would look like. At the time, it sounded almost too horrible to take seriously. “A billion people would get sick,” he said. “As many as 165 million people would die. There would be a global recession and depression, and the cost to our economy of $1 to $3 trillion would be far worse for everyone than merely 100 million people dying, because so many more people would lose their jobs and their health care benefits, that the consequences are almost unthinkable.”

Read the full article at WIRED…

Originally published by Three Sixty HR – the HR experts, Menlo Park, CA

A Quick Guide for Employers Impacted by COVID-19 “Shelter-In-Place” Requirements

Note: this guide is California-centric. Check your local state rules for nationwide use.

Workplace disruptions and developments in response to COVID-19 are very fluid. There are some commonsense guidelines, augmented by modifications in government programs and requirements, that can help you and your employees. We have created this brief guide to help during this uncertain and unprecedented time.

  1. If you temporarily close and send employees home without work to do…
    • Your employees may use accrued vacation or PTO to continue their pay for as long as possible.
    • Employees may apply online for Unemployment Insurance (UI). CA has waived the seven-day waiting period, but it may take a few weeks for payments to start. You don’t have to terminate employment for employees to be eligible for UI. (edd.ca.gov/Unemployment)
    • Consider augmenting UI, if possible. Remember that UI will only provide partial pay replacement.
    • Continue employees’ medical insurance and other benefits during their absence.
    • Stay in touch with your employees. This is important!
  1. If you temporarily close and send employees home with work to do…
    • Be sure employees have the tools to work from home. If they do not have some or all the tools, you are responsible for providing them.
    • Reimburse employees for use of their personal services (e.g., cellphone, internet) needed to work from home.
    • If employees are in nonexempt (hourly) positions, be sure to reiterate in writing the requirements to take meal and rest breaks, and to accurately record their time worked.
      Be sure to state your policy regarding overtime and checking email and voice mail. Employees may use your automated timekeeping system if they can access it from home. If you don’t have an automated system, we have attached a manual form. Tell employees when and to whom time reports are due. Collect the signed time reports when employees return to work.
    • If employees are in exempt (salaried/management) positions, they will most likely need to be paid a full week’s pay if they do any work during the workweek, including checking email and voice mail. If they request in writing a full day off work, they may use accrued vacation, PTO or sick leave for that day. Otherwise, they need to be paid for a full workweek if they do any work during the workweek, including checking voice mail and email.
    • Continue employees’ medical insurance and other benefits during their absence.

1There is a state notice requirement concerning mass layoffs of 50 or more people during a 30-day period in a facility that employs 75 or more people within the preceding 12 months. An employer who meets this threshold should consult with counsel.

— Stay in touch with your employees. This is important! —

  1. If your business is open but you send an employee home, or s/he self-quarantines, due to exposure to the virus…
    • Will they work from home? follow #2. 
    • They will not work from home, or will reduce their hours while working from home, follow #1 except the employee may apply for State Disability Insurance (SDI). CA has waived the seven-day waiting period. It may take a few weeks for payments to start, but SDI will provide partial pay replacement. Then follow the rest of #1. (edd.ca.gov/Disability/Disability_Insurance.htm
    • If exposure to the virus occurred in the workplace, an employee may file a Workers’ Compensation claim instead of SDI. Employers are responsible for providing the paperwork to employees who need to file a Workers’ Compensation claim.
    • Do not require a doctor’s note confirming the beginning/end of a temporary disability.
  1. If your business is open but your otherwise healthy employee can’t work due to caring for a family member who is ill, or for a child whose school has closed…
    • Your employee may use accrued sick leave, vacation and/or PTO to continue pay for as long as possible.
    • If they do not work from home or work reduced hours while working from home, follow #1 except the employee may apply for Paid Family Leave (PFL) for partial pay replacement. (edd.ca.gov/Disability/Paid_Family_Leave.htm)
    • Follow the rest of #1.

Delivery Services: If your business is such that your employees can be converted to delivery drivers or are delivery drivers (e.g., drivers for restaurant take-out orders), ensure employees have a current driver’s license and proof of insurance. Make sure your company liability policy will cover them as drivers for the business. Have a clear written policy regarding distracted (cell phone, text, email, GPS) driving. Contact us if you don’t have a policy. Track and reimburse mileage, tolls, etc. Ensure employees follow CDC safety guidelines when interacting with customers.

Retaining Staff: Business will resume and employees will go back to work. Your ability to retain valued staff may hinge on how well you communicate with employees and mitigate their financial hardships. If employees sense that you are trying to do everything you can for them and the business, you are more likely to retain staff.

Employees: are concerned about pay, benefits and keeping their jobs. Encourage employees to use all their accrued benefits as well as take advantage of state income replacement programs. Jobs should be held open for employees who held them before the mandatory shelter-in-place and before they missed work due to COVID-19. Keep employees’ benefits in force for as long as possible. (This may be mandated.)

Government: Intervention. Federal, state and local governments are working hard to find ways to lessen the financial impact of COVID-19 on employers and employees. These ideas include everything from cash payments to payroll tax credits to prohibiting evictions. Stay alert to legislation, announcements and news stories. Coordinating multiple relief/benefit programs will be another issue entirely. It is going to take a while to sort all this out.

There may be additional forms of relief offered to individuals and businesses through CA’s Work Sharing Program. It is designed to address a temporary reduction in hours where regular pay is augmented by UI. (edd.ca.gov/unemployment/Work_Sharing_Program.htm)

Bottom line. Be careful, patient and thoughtful. We must do the things we can to help each other. Please understand that things are changing rapidly and that some of this information could be outdated by the end of the day. We hope this information helps.


CDC’s Guidance for Businesses: 

cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/

DLSE FAQs on Sick Leave and Time Off: 


EDD FAQs and Wage Replacement Assistance: 

edd.ca.gov/about_edd/coronavirus-2019/faqs.htm www.edd.ca.gov/about_edd/coronavirus-2019.htm 

i4cp Resource Center: 


Leadership in Uncertainty 


How to Prepare for the Coronavirus

Face masks? Gloves? Hand washing? What is the best way to protect yourself from the growing threats of  the new coronavirus? At HPM we’re committed to keeping our team and clients healthy and safe. To do this, adopted the a number of practices and precautions within our organization for the duration of the problem.

From the eminent pathologist Dr James Robb:

I, as many others do, hope that this pandemic will be reasonably contained, BUT I personally do not think it will be. Humans have never seen this snake-associated virus before and have no internal defense against it. Tremendous worldwide efforts are being made to understand the molecular and clinical virology of this virus. Unbelievable molecular knowledge about the genomics, structure, and virulence of this virus has already been achieved. BUT, there will be NO drugs or vaccines available this year to protect us or limit the infection within us. Only symptomatic support is available.

How to Protect Yourself:

  1. NO HANDSHAKING! Use a fist bump, slight bow, elbow bump, etc.
  2. Use ONLY your knuckle to touch light switches. elevator buttons, etc.. Lift the gasoline dispenser with a paper towel or use a disposable glove.
  3. Open doors with your closed fist or hip – do not grasp the handle with your hand, unless there is no other way to open the door. Especially important on bathroom and post office/commercial doors.
  4. Use disinfectant wipes at the stores when they are available, including wiping the handle and child seat in grocery carts.
  5. Wash your hands with soap for 10-20 seconds and/or use a greater than 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer whenever you return home from ANY activity that involves locations where other people have been.
  6. Keep a bottle of sanitizer available at each of your home’s entrances. AND in your car for use after getting gas or touching other contaminated objects when you can’t immediately wash your hands.
  7. If possible, cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue and discard. Use your elbow only if you have to. The clothing on your elbow will contain infectious virus that can be passed on for up to a week or more!

What to stock in preparation for the pandemic spread to the US:

  1. Latex or nitrile latex disposable gloves for use when going shopping, using the gasoline pump, and all other outside activity when you come in contact with contaminated areas. Note: This virus is spread in large droplets by coughing and sneezing. This means that the air will not infect you! BUT all the surfaces where these droplets land are infectious for about a week on average – everything that is associated with infected people will be contaminated and potentially infectious. The virus is on surfaces and you will not be infected unless your unprotected face is directly coughed or sneezed upon. This virus only has cell receptors for lung cells (it only infects your lungs) The only way for the virus to infect you is through your nose or mouth via your hands or an infected cough or sneeze onto or into your nose or mouth.
  2. Stock up now with disposable surgical masks and use them to prevent you from touching your nose and/or mouth (We touch our nose/mouth 90X/day without knowing it!). This is the only way this virus can infect you – it is lung-specific. The mask will not prevent the virus in a direct sneeze from getting into your nose or mouth – it is only to keep you from touching your nose or mouth.
  3. Stock up now with hand sanitizers and latex/nitrile gloves (get the appropriate sizes for your family). The hand sanitizers must be alcohol-based and greater than 60% alcohol to be effective.
  4. Stock up now with zinc lozenges. These lozenges have been proven to be effective in blocking coronavirus (and most other viruses) from multiplying in your throat and nasopharynx. Use as directed several times each day when you begin to feel ANY “cold-like” symptoms beginning. It is best to lie down and let the lozenge dissolve in the back of your throat and nasopharynx. Cold-Eeze lozenges is one brand available, but there are other brands available.


AS of January 1, 2020, all General Service Lamps (home light bulbs) are subject to the 45 LUMENS PER WATT (“LPW”) requirements and any product that does not meet this standard is subject to “stop sell” restrictions prohibiting the sale within the State of California.  This means that any light bulb that does not provide at least 45 lumens per watt may no longer be sold in California.

The lamp groups below had been exempt but are now included:

  • Many decorative lamps (Torpedo and Flame tip)
  • Globes (G16.5, G25, and G30)
  • Three-way or multi-watt lamps (any)
  • Reflectors – R20, BR30, BR40 and Halogen PAR20, PAR30 and PAR38

Previously labeled as “stop sell”

  • PAR16 and MR16

What this means is that replacements for the above bulbs will only be available in LED versions.  Sometimes the color renditions of the new replacement LED’s do not match that of the existing bulbs. If you would like a uniform appearance we recommend replacing all non-conforming bulbs at once with replacement LED versions.

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