Gunning Daily News

Word of the Day

August 23, 2013 6:45 pm

Plat. Map or survey showing the location and boundaries of individual properties and how they have been subdivided into lots and blocks.

Q: What Role Might Engineers Play in My Remodeling Project? A: Soil and structural engineers can be particularly instrumental to a home remodeling project. An engineer can tell whether you can tear

August 23, 2013 6:45 pm

A: Soil and structural engineers can be particularly instrumental to a home remodeling project.  An engineer can tell whether you can tear down a kitchen safely or whether the walls can bear the load of a second or third story.  You can use an engineer to size interior supports, stamp a drawing for building department approval, design an appropriate structural repair, test structures to withstand such natural forces as earthquakes, create concrete foundation specifications, size deck supports, and inspect repairs during and after your remodeling job.  Engineers can also perform site preparation work such as an excavation and grading, fix foundation cracks or leaks, raise a settling foundation and test soil for structure support.  You can get a guesstimate of what the job you plan is likely to cost so you can show it to contractors once you start to take bids.


Elegant Outdoor Entertaining on a Dime

August 23, 2013 6:45 pm

(BPT)—Wish your soiree could have a bit more swagger? You don't need a celebrity budget and abode to throw a stunning celebration. With just a bit of creative vision and DIY savvy, you'll have an affair to remember in no time at all.

Sensational seating

The first step to ensure an enjoyable event is to provide enough seating for your guests to relax.

Elegant ambiance

Once your seating area is set, create an eye-catching centerpiece to set the mood. Turn forgotten pedestal candle holders into chic showpieces that will impress guests and inspire dinner table dialog. Simply spray paint each with a coordinating color of Krylon's Rust Protector Multicolor Textured Finish for an updated and elegant look. Once dry, add candles of various heights and decorate the bases with pebbles or decorative beads for subtle and sophisticated ambiance.

Let there be light

While your new centerpiece will illuminate the table area in the evening, be sure to light up the night with additional accent lighting. Tiki torches are an easy and inexpensive solution that provide excellent perimeter lighting and can even work double duty to keep pesky mosquitos at bay, ensuring your invited guests don't bolt because of uninvited ones.

Luscious libations

A signature drink can be a fun treat for your guests - but be sure the vessel is just as festive. An inexpensive and trendy way to keep guests refreshed and delighted is to serve your libations in the classic mason jar. Jazz up the jars by placing peel-and-stick chalkboard labels on the jars and provide chalk for guests to write their names. And as the final touch, offer mini umbrellas or nostalgic striped paper straws to allow guests to sip in style.

Heat it up

Why not enjoy your tasty refreshments around a fire pit when the sun has finally set? It's the perfect ambiance to relax and enjoy company.

You don't have to spend a ton of money to create an elegant gathering that will impress guests. By paying attention to small, inexpensive details, you can turn a bland backyard, patio or deck into a stylish spot for entertaining that won't leave you penniless at the end of the night.



News in Skylights: Let the Sun & Passive Solar Heat In

August 23, 2013 6:45 pm

In our previous two segments covering skylights, I have learned that a skylight installation project is not for casual DIY-ers. In this final report, we'll cover the few remaining issues to consider if you plan on letting the sunshine and its passive solar energy shine in this winter.

Our sources at the US Dept. of Energy say that in addition to following the manufacturer's guidelines, it's also important to consider slope and moisture control during installation.

The slope or tilt of the skylight affects solar heat gain. A low slope will admit relatively more solar heat in the summer and less in the winter, exactly the opposite of what is desirable.

As a general rule of thumb, you want to achieve a slope equal to your geographical latitude plus 5 to 15 degrees. At least one skylight manufacturer makes a prefabricated, tilted base that increases the angle of a skylight above the roof.

Water leaks are a common problem with improperly installed skylights. Avoid water leaks by:

  • Mounting the skylight above the roof surface
  • Installing a curb (a raised, watertight lip that helps to deflect water away from the skylight) and flashing
  • Thoroughly sealing joints
  • Following the manufacturer's guidelines.

It is also prudent to apply a layer of sheet waterproofing over the flanges/flashing of the skylight. This is generally installed under the finish roofing material as an aid in protecting against ice dams. Avoid water diversion devices such as roof crickets or diverter strips, as they often create more problems than they solve.

Again, the DOE experts say. Even the most energy-efficient skylight must be properly installed to ensure that it achieve its energy performance, so they say it's best to have a professional install your skylight.

Credit Cards and Your College Kids: Tips for Those Entering the World of Credit

August 23, 2013 6:45 pm

While parent’s mail boxes are filling with credit card bills from summer vacations and back-to-school shopping, their college-aged child is likely receiving offers for credit cards of their own.

Due to the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (CARD Act), young adults under the age of 21 applying for credit now must demonstrate the ability to pay or have a co-signer in order to be approved.  Thus, the 21-year-old college student has replaced the entering freshman as the likely target for credit card marketing.

“Building a positive credit history while in college can certainly help the young professional move on with his or her post-graduation life,” says Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). “On the flip side, abusing credit can work against a person when trying to land a job, lease an apartment or buy a vehicle.”

The NFCC’s 2013 Financial Literacy Survey found that 33 percent of respondents indicated they learned the most about personal finance at home. Although at first glance this can appear as positive, problems often arise if the parents have poor financial habits which the children observe and subsequently carry into their own financial lives.

Further, the survey revealed that only five percent attributed their personal finance knowledge to what they learned at school.  This number is not surprising, as many states do not include a personal finance course as a requirement for graduation from high school.

Stepping into the world of credit without adequate personal finance training is asking for trouble, as responsibly managing credit is critical to building a solid financial future. The NFCC recommends that young adults consider the following tips for successfully navigating credit:

• Start slowly. Don’t apply for more credit than is needed. A little plastic can go a long way, particularly in the wallet of someone new to credit.

• Don’t act like a kid in the credit candy store. It can be tempting to splurge on music downloads and late-night pizzas, but small purchases can add up quickly.

•   Never, ever charge more than can be paid in full when the bill arrives. This is the cornerstone to successfully managing credit. Use this financial trick: Record each charge in the check register and deduct the amount from the balance just as though a check had been cashed. This method guarantees that the funds will be available when it’s time to pay the bill.

•  Choose the right card. New homework assignment: Research what’s behindthe credit card offers. Fully understand the terms, interest rate, fees and credit limit, as these features will impact the final decision.  Some student cards also offer rewards such as miles or points that can be redeemed, but read the fine print before signing on the dotted line.

• Think long term. Negative marks on a credit file can follow a person foryears. Evaluate charging decisions in light of tomorrow, not today.

• Protect the card. Identity theft is rampant on campuses, and a credit card lying on a desk is as good as gold to a thief. Since studies show that identity theft is often committed by someone the victim knows, don’t be naively trusting.

• Don’t allow others to use the card, as regardless of who runs up the debt, payment remains the cardholder’s responsibility.

• If things get out of control, remember that businesses still accept cash, and a debit card can be used for payment in most locations. Don’t hesitate to put the credit card away if things get out of hand.

“The college student potentially has 50 years or more of credit life ahead of him or her, making it critical that sound financial habits are established at a young age,” continues Cunningham. “Credit can be a friend or a foe. That outcome is determined by whose hand is holding the plastic.”


Word of the Day

August 23, 2013 6:45 pm

Planned Unit Development (PUD).  Individually owned houses with community ownership of common areas, such as swimming pools and tennis courts.

Q: What Basic Services Can I Expect an Architect to Provide?

August 23, 2013 6:45 pm

A:  Most projects require a set of basic services.  They are as follows:  preliminary, or schematic, design; design development; preparation of construction documents (drawings and specifications); assistance in the bidding or negotiation process, and the administration of the agreement between you and your builder or contractor, if needed.  Some projects will require other services, such as pre-design work, which includes budgeting and financing packages, as well as planning and zoning applications.  Projects may also include special cost or energy analyses, models and tenant-related design.


Help Is Here: Streamline Your Mortgage

August 23, 2013 5:45 pm

If you are headed into rough waters with your mortgage, or the storm has already hit, you might want to check out, a site operated by Fannie Mae.

According to the website, even if you haven’t missed a mortgage payment, but are worried you might fall behind soon, now is the time to take action. Homeowners in this position may be eligible to refinance or modify your mortgage loan, lowering your payment and making it more affordable.

Or, if you’ve missed payments and find yourself buried under late fees and past-due amounts, the site says you may qualify for a temporary (or permanent) solution to help you get your finances back on track and avoid foreclosure.

If you are preparing to qualify for assistance, just keep in mind this information from a recent Fannie Mae survey.

During the application and modification evaluation process one in three delinquent borrowers have difficulty providing income documentation (like paycheck stubs). Often, it’s because some of their income comes from non-traditional sources, such as from tips, side jobs, or subletting.

In fact, while the majority of borrowers surveyed by Fannie Mae believed they had provided all necessary documents required as part of their modification application, in reality, only 6 percent met the existing requirements for a completed package, he says.

Starting July 1, mortgage companies can offer eligible borrowers a more affordable payment without requiring them to provide income documentation using Fannie Mae’s Streamlined Modification product.

With a Streamlined Modification, more borrowers will benefit from a simple, straightforward process to modify their existing loans, he notes.

The Federal Housing Finance Administration says to be eligible, the loan must be owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Homeowners must be 90 days to 24 months delinquent, and have a first-lien mortgage that is at least 12 months old with a loan-to-value ratio equal to or greater than 80 percent.

Loans that have been modified at least two times previously are not eligible. Click on these links to see if your loan is owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

The Streamlined Modification program will expire December 31, 2015.

Incorporating Green and Eco-Friendly Materials into Kitchen Updates

August 23, 2013 5:45 pm

(Family Features)—Whether it's energy-efficient appliances or the best materials for sustainable countertops—use this guide to help create the eco-friendly kitchen you've always wanted.

Dreaming of a fresh, modern kitchen that is also eco-friendly and strikingly beautiful? Achieving this transformation is more attainable than you may think. Environmental lifestyle expert Danny Seo provides these helpful tips on how to add earth-friendly updates to your kitchen:


When searching for a new refrigerator, be sure to look for more than just the Energy Star label to ensure maximum energy efficiency. It is also important the new appliance fits your needs and the size of your kitchen. A larger refrigerator uses more energy. If the one you select is too big for your needs, you will be wasting energy and money.

Blocked wood countertops

With their rugged durability and timeless style, butcher block countertops are making a huge comeback. Though typically made from cherry, walnut and oak, greener options like high pressure laminate can contribute to US Green Building Council LEED accreditation as an eco-friendly material to use in your home.


For a more sustainable approach to kitchen flooring, there are several options available. If you love the hard, classic appeal of wood, look for reclaimed, recycled or sustainably sourced materials. Bamboo is also a beloved choice among eco-conscious remodelers for its biodegradable nature and high renewability.

"Going green at home can be overwhelming, so I always advise people to not sweat the small stuff and focus on the one room of the house where it matters the most: the kitchen," says Seo. "Being kind to the planet in the kitchen can also be kind on your wallet over time, so it's worth it to invest in sustainable upgrades."


Recycled materials are the star of the show when looking to add green touches to your backsplash. There are three main types of recycled materials: ceramic, metal and glass. Old bottles and windows make up the materials in glass tile; old plates and clay vases are recycled to become ceramic tile; and those old soda cans become aluminum metal tile. All of these materials come in a variety of shades and styles to fit the look of your dream kitchen.


According to the Environmental Protection Agency, using an Energy Star labeled dishwasher is the most efficient use of energy and water, even more so than hand washing. When looking to update your dishwasher, pay close attention to the EnergyGuide labels, which include the annual estimated costs to run them. This valuable information can help you compare models to find the best fit for your family's needs.

A dream kitchen that is both eco-friendly and chic is easier to attain than you think. With a few changes not only will you be smiling, but so too will Mother Earth.

Skylights: Positioning for Energy Efficiency

August 22, 2013 4:54 pm

In this post, I continue to look at the great end-of-summer home improvement project -- installing a skylight.

The U.S. Dept of Energy says when homeowners consider adding a skylight they need to determine what type of design will work best, and where to place it to optimize its contribution to their home’s energy efficiency, daylighting, and ventilation.

So the DOE experts suggest selecting your skylight based on the local climate and your home's design. For labeling energy-efficient skylights, Energy Star has established minimum energy performance rating criteria by climate.

As a rule of thumb, a skylight size should never be more than 5 percent of the floor area in rooms with many windows and no more than 15 percent of the room's total floor area for spaces with few windows.

You should also consider a skylight's position if you want to maximize daylighting and/or passive solar heating potential. Those on east-facing roofs provide maximum light and solar heat gain in the morning, while west-facing skylights provide afternoon sunlight and heat gain, the agency says.

South-facing skylights provide the greatest potential for desirable winter passive solar heat gain than any other location, but often allow unwanted heat gain in the summer. But you can prevent unwanted solar heat gain by installing the skylight in the shade of leaf-shedding trees or adding a movable window covering on the inside or outside.

Without this seasonal natural cover, skylights can result in unwanted seasonal heat gain or loss. So manufacturers offer heat-absorbing tints, insulated glazing, and low-emissivity (low-e) coatings, or install a translucent insulation material between several glazing layers to create a more thermally efficient assembly.

In our final report, we'll take a look at other important considerations if you're planning to tackle a skylight installation.