Gunning Daily News

Word of the Day

November 15, 2013 6:21 pm

Cloud on title.  Defect in the title that impairs the owner’s ability to market the property.  This might be a lien, claim, judgment, or encumbrance.


Protecting Your Home from Electrical Hazards

November 15, 2013 6:21 pm

Family Features—What comes to mind when considering safety hazards around the home? Do you think of electrical safety, fire prevention and reducing the risk of electrical shock? Often times, our quest for new kitchen cabinets and hardwood floors takes priority, while the projects to increase home safety are put on the back burner. One project, however, that should not be put off is evaluating the electrical safety of your home.

“There is no time like the present to take a good look around your home and make the simple, yet necessary changes to eliminate electrical hazards and create an added layer of protection for your home and family,” said Tom Kraeutler, home improvement expert and syndicated radio show host of The Money Pit.

Kraeutler notes a good start is to take inventory of the outlets around your home. Take notice of any outlets that could benefit from being replaced by an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI), Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) or tamper-resistant outlet.

AFCI versus GFCI

AFCIs and GFCIs sound similar, but what do they mean? While AFCIs provide protection from arc-faults that may lead to electrical fires, GFCIs help protect homeowners from electrical shock due to ground faults.

Arc-fault protection is extremely important as arc-faults are often unseen and can occur anywhere in the home’s electrical system, including within walls as well as appliance cords.

AFCI receptacles are relatively new to the market and detect arcing electrical faults to help reduce the likelihood of the electrical system being an ignition source of a fire. They are perfect for a remodeling project or new home construction as the latest National Electrical Code® requires AFCI protection in a growing number of locations throughout the home.

GFCIs on the other hand are designed to reduce the occurrences of shock or electrocution due to ground faults. Many homeowners are familiar with GFCI devices as they are proven safety products that have saved many lives since their introduction to the market.

Whole house safety

Did you know the Electrical Safety Foundation International reports home electrical fires account for an estimated 51,000 fires each year, resulting in nearly 500 deaths, more than 1,400 injuries and $1.3 billion in property damage? Just as alarming, the Foundation reports that nearly seven children are treated daily in hospital emergency rooms for electrical shock or burn injuries caused by tampering with a wall outlet.

Recent technological advances in the AFCI, GFCI and tamper-resistant outlet market have made achieving whole home electrical protection simpler than ever. This is due to the creation of devices capable of providing necessary protection, as well as cost-effective and easier to install options.

“AFCI protection was once only available through the home’s circuit breaker,” Kraeutler explained. “Now, AFCI receptacles are available for a safe alternative for added home protection.”

In addition, GFCI options are available in slim design for added space in an electrical box to make installation simpler. They also offer a tamper resistant design for increased safety by blocking access to the contacts by most foreign objects, thereby reducing shock and electrocution incidents.

Take proactive steps to update your home’s electrical devices using the following tips:

  • Keep an eye out for electrical wiring damaged during installation or afterwards through over-stapling; crushing; bending; penetration by screws and nails; and through rodent or insect damage.
  • Over time, cabling may also degrade further due to exposure to elevated temperatures or humidity, eventually leading to arcing faults and potentially a fire.
  • Install AFCI receptacles in family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, bedrooms, sunrooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways or similar rooms or areas.
  • Use GFCI receptacles anywhere water may be present, such as kitchens, bathrooms, garages, basements, porches, pool areas and laundry rooms.
  • For added convenience, try a self-test GFCI that automatically tests itself to confirm that protected power is available.
  • Consider replacing standard outlets with tamper-resistant outlets which employ an automatic shutter mechanism designed to protect children attempting to insert foreign objects.

Source: Leviton

 


Four Quick Steps to a Guest-Friendly Home

November 15, 2013 6:21 pm

Having extra bodies in your home overnight can be stressful at any time, but house guests for the holidays – when you are already deep into shopping and preparing – can seem like more than you want to take on.

The home and style editors from Better Homes and Gardens offer four do-ahead suggestions that should help to make your guests feel welcomed and comfortable and calm your last-minute jitters about hosting:

Clear the clutter – Keep an eye out for any knick-knacks or furniture you can store in the garage or closet in order to provide extra space for your guests’ luggage and belongings.

Prep the sleeping space – Whether it is a guest bedroom or a pull-out sofa in the den, place a basket nearby with extra linens, a few magazines or books, and a small alarm clock. If your guests will be spending some time on their own, include a map and/or guidebook for the local area. Try to make sure there is adequate reading light, and – somewhere on a small table or dresser top, place a small plant or a vase of fresh flowers with a welcome note propped up against it.

Prep the bathroom – Clean the guest bathroom, or a shared one, thoroughly, and consider replacing a tired-looking shower curtain or towels. Find a spot for a basket containing spare towels and personal items, such as lotion, shampoo, and toothbrush, or other items that might have been forgotten. Plug in a nightlight to help light the way from the sleeping area.

Prep the kitchen – Before your guests arrive, ask them about any food or snack preferences or other items they would like to have on hand. On a tray near the coffeepot, or on a counter, place a selection of coffee, tea and cocoa along with sugar and creamer so your guests don’t need to rummage through the cupboards. You may want to include some cookies or fruit for impromptu snacking anytime the mood strikes.


Word of the Day

November 15, 2013 6:21 pm

Closing statement. Written account of all expenses, adjustments, and disbursements received by the buyer and seller when completing a real estate transaction.


Q: What Should I Know about Mechanics’ Liens?

November 15, 2013 6:21 pm

A:  A mechanic’s lien is a “hold” against your property that provides contractors and suppliers legal recourse to assure payment for services.  The liens vary from state to state and allow for a cloud on the title of your property and foreclosure action.  Also, if you paid the contractor, but he failed to pay the subcontractors and laborers – who do not have a contract with you – then the workers may file a mechanic's lien on your home.  This could result in a double payment by you for the same job.  You can protect yourself from unwarranted liens by selecting your contractor carefully and managing your construction project responsibly.  Also, most construction lenders will specify a payment distribution process that involves the securing of lien waivers.  The remodeling contract should address this as well, assuring that the general contractor is responsible for all payments as well as any costs required to remedy lien disputes that may arise.


5 Tips for Winter Tire Safety

November 14, 2013 9:57 pm

Safety on the road is important all year-round, but winter weather calls for extra caution behind the wheel to keep you and your passengers safe. That's why many auto safety experts including Discount Tire, the world's largest tire and wheel retailer, urge motorists to keep road safety top of mind this winter and switch to tires specifically designed for cold weather driving.

Winter tires are designed for driving in temperatures 45 degrees or below. If there's any chance you'll encounter snow, ice, slush, black ice or wet roads on a consistent basis you should prepare your car for these conditions.

Often, drivers aren't aware that commonly used all-season tires have a rubber compound that gradually hardens when temperatures dip below 45 degrees. When this happens, braking and turning is compromised as there is decreased road traction and less grip. It's also important to note that snow and ice often pile up in the tire grooves and tread blocks on all-season tires which can impact your vehicle's performance.

Winter tires are made with higher silica compounds. This allows the tire to deliver much better traction which reduces skidding and improves braking. In fact, in temperatures below 45 degrees, winter tires can provide 25 to 50 percent more traction than all-season tires. In addition, the tread block design includes thousands of very small interlocking slits—known as sipes—to provide extra road biting edges for improved winter traction.

"Every aspect of a winter tire has been engineered to provide the best performance in winter conditions and temperature fluctuations while maintaining traction on any surface," said Mark Marrufo of Discount Tire. "The winter tire advantage will maximize your safety and provide piece of mind during the winter months.”

5 Tips for Winter Tire Safety

  1. Replace your all-season tires with winter tires for driving in temperatures 45 degrees or below. Make sure to replace all four tires with winter tires to avoid an unsafe traction mismatch.
  2. Don't forget the wheels when switching to winter tires. Having a set of wheels specifically for your set of winter tires will save money in the long run.
  3. Check tire inflation pressure regularly and don't forget the spare. Under-inflated or over-inflated tires may result in poor handling, uneven tread wear and poor fuel consumption.
  4. Rotate your tires at least every 6,000 miles or earlier if irregular or uneven wear develops.
  5. Make sure the tire shop that gets your tires ready for cold temperatures torques the lug nuts to the proper specifications for your vehicle.


Source: www.discounttire.com.


5 Things You Shouldn't Include in Your Will

November 14, 2013 9:57 pm

Having a will and other estate plans are essential to ensuring your assets pass on to their intended recipients when you pass on.

However, there are certain provisions that don't belong in your will, as they simply can't be enforced under the law.

Here are five of the most common things you shouldn't include in your will:

1. Funeral Plans.

Although it may seem fun to memorialize your wish to be cremated and turned into a well-cut diamond, your will isn't the best place for burial preferences.

Your body technically isn't property, so it cannot be a part of your estate. You can try to include burial preferences in your will, but because your body isn't under your estate's control, your wishes may not be carried out according to your plan.

A good alternative is to discuss funeral plans ahead of time with your executor and arrange for services to be paid out of your estate -- this can be done in your will. But be wary of pre-paid funeral plans.

2. Your 'Digital Estate.'

If you died today, you would likely leave behind a sizeable amount of "property" in your digital estate. This includes iTunes purchases, eBooks, and items in other cloud-based online accounts.

This area of law is likely to be more sophisticated in the future, but for the moment, your digital bequests are unlikely to be enforceable. You may, however, choose to bequeath your account info and passwords.

3. Jointly Held Property.

Pretty much the defining feature of a joint tenancy is the right of survivorship, meaning that when you or the other joint tenant dies, the survivor automatically owns the property in full. So putting your interest in a joint tenancy in your will is meaningless, as when you die, that interest disappears.

4. Life Insurance and Retirement Funds.

Life insurance and retirement plans require you to designate a beneficiary of the plan upon your death. When you die, the assets associated with your life insurance or retirement fund will immediately transfer to the intended beneficiary, so they can't be distributed by your will.

5. Illegal Gifts and Requests.

You may be literally dying to unload a cache of illicit drugs or to have your relatives burn down a building in honor of your death, but the law frowns upon wills containing those kind of illegal requests.

Source: Findlaw

 


Word of the Day

November 14, 2013 9:57 pm

Quit-claim deed. A conveyance by which the grantor transfers whatever interest he or she has in the real estate without warranties or obligations.


Q: Is Private Mortgage Insurance Always Required on Low-Down Payment Loans?

November 14, 2013 9:57 pm

A: Lenders require private mortgage insurance (PMI) on most loans with less than a 20 percent down payment.  They believe there is a correlation between borrower equity and default.  They have found that the less money borrowers put down, the more likely they are to default on a loan. PMI guarantees the lender will not lose money if this happens and a foreclosure is necessary.

A growing number of private lenders, however, are loosening up their requirements for low-down payment loans. In fact, the Homeowners Protection Act states that PMI must be dropped on any loan originated after July 29, 1999. Borrowers can request that PMI be canceled when they pay down the principal balance on their mortgage loans to 80 percent of the purchase price. Lenders must automatically cancel PMI when the balance hits 78 percent.


Are You Ready to Downsize Your Kitchen

November 14, 2013 8:57 pm

In our last segment, I dove into the subject of downsizing kitchens. Whether it's simplifying arrangements of cabinets and appliances as we age in place, or a desire for a modern or minimalist cooking zone, there is no shortage of good advice on how to get started and get through it.

Mariette Mifflin, a housewares and appliances writer at about.com says a large number of baby boomers are eyeing moving to low maintenance apartments or condos, while others will plan to retire to their smaller cottages or vacation homes to age in place.

Mifflin says consider the many more compact appliances that offer energy saving options, like an economy dry settings on dishwashers, 1 and 2 hour auto shut-off on coffee makers, and low water features on washers.

According to Mifflin, delay start has now become a great energy saving option for those areas that pay for electricity based on when they use it, with peak and off-peak rates. You can set a dishwasher with this feature while you're loading it, but it will only start later in the evening when energy off-peak rate is lower.  

Cambria Bold design and lifestyle editor for The Kitchn (thekitchn.com) says don't be afraid of using darker colors - done right a darker color scheme can actually make a smaller kitchen space appear bigger.

At cultivate.com, Susan Serra writes that visual tricks will be actively incorporated to create a more open feeling. For example, backsplashes that are more simple in design than ever before, such as single sheets of glass (a hot material), engineered stone or other seamless surfaces, such as stainless steel.

The reason this works: A seamless backsplash has a huge effect on a kitchen's "visual clutter", is a natural complement to the modern kitchen and a practical solution for small kitchens where appliances are in close proximity to surfaces.

Serra says large interesting nooks and crannies decoratively illuminated in the kitchen can create new focal points as well as adding a spacious look. And she says appliances will largely disappear from view in 2013, allowing even high-end, chef's style appliances to be seamlessly incorporated into any kitchen space.