Gunning Daily News

Q: Should the Architect and Contractor Have a “Vested” Interest in One Another?

August 22, 2013 4:54 pm

A: It does not hurt to have a situation where the architect and contractor already have an existing working relationship.  In fact, such an association could benefit a project by ensuring the smooth integration between the design and implementation.  In a residential project, there is sometimes a triangle of tension between the architect, the contractor and the homeowner in terms of finger pointing and assigning blame.  There is greater coordination of efforts, and generally less stress, with a design/build firm where the architects and contractors are accustomed to working together and are knowledgeable about construction costs and can fit design plans and specifications to your budget.


Where the Deals Are in September

August 21, 2013 5:48 pm

School supplies and back-to-school clothing and accessories are on sale all over the place right now – and there are good deals available on 2013 model cars as dealers prepare for the arrival of 2014 models.

But, says Lifehacker, a website dedicated to making positive lifestyle changes, there are other good buys to be made in the month of September. At the top of the list:

  • Bicycles – Cars are not the only wheels with new models due out in September. Manufacturers are lowering bicycle prices now as the summer cycling season comes to a close.
  • Grills, mowers, and patio furniture – It’s a no-brainer that these summertime accessories are on sale right now at home stores everywhere to make room for snow blowers and fireplace accessories.
  • Holiday airfare – The best airfare deals come eight weeks before you travel, which means September is the month to start buying plane tickets for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other end-of-year holiday travel.
  • Wine – Harvest is in full swing in September, and many winemakers release their new offerings now at attractive prices. It’s a good time to stock up for the holidays.
  • TVs and home appliances – With back-to-school sales slowing down, and the Christmas rush still months away, many retailers offer deals on HDTVs and home appliances, especially if you are willing to “bundle” your purchases, buying two or three items at one time.
  • Bed and bath – For the same reason, bedding and towels – especially leftover beach towels – may be available at discounted prices during Labor Day sales in September. Save even more by clipping coupons offered by Bed, Bath and Beyond and other home goods stores.
  • Summer fruits and veggies – Of you’re into canning or preserving, you can take advantage of the last of summer’s bounty with great buys now on all summer produce, but especially berries and tomatoes.

Autumn Edibles: Tips for Fall Gardening and Second Plantings

August 21, 2013 5:48 pm

(BPT)—People choose to garden for many reasons: Food is fresher and tastes better. It's a healthy hobby that exercises the body. It saves money. Numerous reports show an increasing number of homeowners are growing their own fruits, vegetables and herbs.

As summer's end nears, you may think gardening season is over. The good news is with a few strategic tips, you can keep your green thumb going and enjoy a plethora of autumn edibles for months to come.

Step 1: Select second plantings

Second plantings are the plants you use for the latter part of the gardening season. Late summer is typically the best time to plant these varieties. Call your local extension offices or access information online to find regionalized planting schedules and recommended plant varieties.

The length of the fall season and when the first frost will likely hit are important considerations when selecting second plantings. Keep in mind that fast-maturing vegetables are ideal for fall gardening and they should be planted early enough to reach maturity before the first frost arrives.

Popular second plantings that yield a delicious late fall/early winter harvest include broccoli, lettuce, turnips, collards, carrots, peas, radish, spinach, leeks and beets. Some people even claim root vegetables and cole crops like kale and turnips taste better after the first frost.

Step 2: Prepare your garden space

If you plan to use your current garden space for second plantings, remove the early-season plants that are done producing. Add those plants to your current compost bin or create a new compost pile with easy-to-use, stylish options from Outdoor Essentials. Wood-slate bins blend well with the outdoor aesthetic and the design allows oxygen to circulate and facilitate the composting process.

Next, prepare your garden space. Elevated garden beds are growing in popularity because they look great anywhere in your yard or on your patio, and are easy to move if necessary. Raised garden beds from Outdoor Essentials elevate the plants so gardeners don't have to bend over and risk injury. They are ideal for fall because gardeners can regulate the temperature of raised beds with ease. On hot days, move or add a shade netting to protect plants from the heat; when frost is a threat, cover the entire bed for protection.

While you're getting your hands dirty, fall is the perfect time to plant spring flowering bulbs. A little outdoor work now and you'll be rewarded with beautiful flowers when spring arrives next year.

Step 3: Enjoy the harvest

Tend your garden daily for the best results - it may just need a quick check for pests and proper soil moisture. Typical benefits of late-season gardening include fewer bothersome bugs and the soil has better water retention.

As plants grow, pick the fruits and vegetables and enjoy Mother Nature's bounty. If your plants become crowded, pluck a few out to help remaining plants grow roots and increase the harvest yield. You may be surprised just how many cool months your plants provide you with fresh, delicious produce.

Fall is a great opportunity to keep gardening momentum alive. So get started and decide what second plantings are best for your space. In as little as 30 days you could be eating the freshest, most flavorful vegetables you've ever had, all while under the gorgeous autumn sun.

 


Moving Tips for Those Heading Back to Campus

August 21, 2013 5:48 pm

Between tuition costs, everyday school stresses, and decreasing job opportunities for graduates, college-bound students have enough to focus on without having to stress about moving their belongings from home to college.

Below are easy-to-follow tips to simplify the move to college:

  • Use the right supplies – It's worth the small investment. Don't make the mistake of using grocery store boxes, garbage bags, or laundry baskets. Boxes that once stored food items often carry bugs, and garbage bags and laundry baskets are not dependable. Instead, buy moving boxes and use packing tape. Sturdy boxes can easily fold up, be stored for the entire school year, and are ready to use again for summer break.
  • Pack like items together – Moving back to school can be a little overwhelming so the more organized the better. Label boxes clearly – there's not a lot of room in campus housing, so organizing boxes can prioritize unpacking without the huge mess.
  • Pack smart – Don't make the mistake of overstuffing boxes. Too many items can cause the box to collapse and it may be impossible to lift. Just remember: the heavier the object, the smaller the box.
  • Try to use original packaging for large electronics – A new computer, TV, mini-fridge, and microwave all come with packaging to keep them secure and protected. It's much more likely that these items will arrive unharmed if they remain in manufacturers' packaging.

Source: Two Men And A Truck®

 


Word of the Day

August 21, 2013 5:48 pm

Variance. A permit granted as an exception to a zoning ordinance that allows a property owner to meet certain specified needs.


Q: What Should I Consider when Remodeling the Bathroom?

August 21, 2013 5:48 pm

A: Don’t jump too quickly to discard reusable fixtures.  If your tub is in relatively good shape, consider having it re-glazed instead of replaced, according to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.  As for the walls around the tub, cultured marble sheets are cheaper to install than marble tiles and also easier to clean.  Fiberglass is also less expensive than tile.  If space is extremely limited and you cannot “steal” it from other areas of your home, purchase a jetted tub and shower combination or install a pedestal lavatory instead of a vanity cabinet with a sink.  Remember, installing a large jetted tub can overtax your water heater, so consider adding a water heater that is dedicated to the tub to prevent problems later.


Skylight Workshop: Things to Consider

August 20, 2013 7:00 pm

As kids and their parents get back into the swing of school, it's important to keep traffic safety in mind.

Drivers should remember that as the new school year begins, kids will be walking, crossing streets and maybe even horsing around a bit on their way to school. Parents should also talk to their kids about getting to and from school safely.

Here are 10 tips for adults and children on back-to-school traffic safety:

Adults

  • Don't text while driving. Don't talk on your phone or send text messages while you're driving. Apart from the safety concerns, it's important to practice what you preach -- don't text and drive.
  • Watch out for hot spots. Keep an eye out for those child "hot spots" like marked school zones, as well as areas near bus stops and bike lanes.
  • Yield to school buses. Don't try to overtake the bus (like one impatient driver in Ohio who was sentenced by a court to wear an "Idiot" sign around her neck) -- it's a moving violation (and rude, too). If a bus has a flashing, alternating red light, you are legally required to stop and wait for the light to turn off.
  • Expect the unexpected. Children can dart out unexpectedly. Follow the speed limit, yield to crossing guards and be vigilant.
  • Budget extra travel time. School areas are congested, so allow for more time to get where you're going. The extra time will help you avoid bouts of road rage and avoid accidents.

Children

  • Exercise crosswalk safety. Tell your kids to cross streets only at crosswalks or stoplights and to always looks both ways before crossing.
  • Use the buddy system. Make sure you have the contact information of your child's walking buddy and know their walking route. If the children are under 10, an adult chaperone may be necessary.
  • Avoid danger zones. Tell your children to avoid walking or riding bikes behind school buses and other dangerous blind spots.
  • Practice school bus safety. Train your kids to be very careful when exiting the bus. School bus fatalities can occur when kids run out in front of the bus or get struck by passing cars.
  • Wear bike safety equipment. Children who bike to school should wear helmets, light-colored clothing and reflective devices.

Source: FindLaw.com

 


Stay Safe: Child Identity Theft Cases on the Rise

August 20, 2013 7:00 pm

As children head back to school, parents will be filling out forms with personal information and sending their kids off with information in their school bags. Children make a tempting target for identity thieves as theft of a child's identity may go undetected for years—with possible serious consequences—including damaged credit.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, more than 19,000 cases of child identity theft were reported in 2011, up from about 6,000 in 2003.

To help safeguard your child's identity, TransUnion recommends the following to parents:

  • Be mindful of the personal information that your child is carrying. Make sure their information is kept in a safe spot and not just tossed in the bottom of a school bag. Help your child memorize their personal information.
  • Remind your child that they should never give out their personal information, especially to a stranger, and it should only be given to a teacher or other person they trust and know.
  • Consider hand-delivering directly to the school any forms with personal information or medical records instead of sending them with your child.

Possible warning signs of child identity theft include:

  • The child begins to receive suspicious mail, like pre-approved credit cards and other financial offers normally sent to adults, in their name.
  • The parent tries to open a financial account for the child, but finds one already exists or learns the application is denied because of a poor credit history. A credit report already exists in their name. If the child has one, they may have been targeted already, since typically, an application for credit, a credit account, or a public record starts the compilation of a consumer credit file.

Source: www.TransUnion.com.

 


Word of the Day

August 20, 2013 7:00 pm

Rent control. Government-imposed restrictions on the amount of rent a property owner can charge.


Q: Can I Deduct Improvements Made to My Home?

August 20, 2013 7:00 pm

A:  Yes, but only after you have sold it because improvements add to the basis of your home. Remember your gain is defined as your home’s selling price, minus deductible closing costs, minus your basis.  The basis is the original purchase price of the home, plus improvements, less any depreciation.

The IRS defines improvements as those items that “add to the value of your home, prolong its useful life, or adapt it to new uses” – such as putting in new plumbing or wiring or adding another bathroom.