Gunning Daily News

Maintain Your Deck for Years of Summer Fun

June 6, 2013 6:36 pm

A deck is a great investment. It increases your home’s usable living space at a fraction of the cost of adding an inside room. Remodeling magazine estimates a properly maintained deck will return about 77 percent of its original cost. But, no one wants to buy a home where they are going to immediately incur costly deck repairs. Pillar To Post is the leading home inspection company in North America, according to Entrepreneur Magazine. With more than 400 locations in the U.S. and Canada, Pillar To Post provides real estate agents and homeowners, the most professional inspectors and the most comprehensive inspection reports in the industry. Here are their tips for caring for decks:

Deep Clean: This is best done on a cloudy day before the weather gets too hot. Start by sweeping the deck and removing debris that’s trapped between the deck boards. A putty knife is great for this. You can attach it to a pipe or dowel rod so that you don’t have to bend over the entire time. Then, wash wood decks and all railings with a standard deck cleaner. You can also mix bleach and water at a ratio of one-to-one. If you have composite deck, make sure you use a cleaner specifically formulated for composite material.

Seal the deck: This should be done 48 hours after the deep clean. You can test if your deck needs sealing by splashing some water on it. The water should bead up. If it soaks into the deck, you need to reseal it. Most decks will need to be resealed annually.

Inspect and Repair: In the warm, dry summer months, inspect the deck for signs of rot. This is easily done by poking a flat-blade screwdriver into areas that look worn. If you can push the screwdriver more than a quarter-inch into the deck, you should repair it. Small areas, anything about an inch or smaller, can be chiseled out and treated with wood preservative. If the rot covers a larger area, you should consult a professional to evaluate the deck and recommend repairs. Also, you’ll want to tighten any screws that are loose on the railing and add galvanized lag screws to posts that need extra support.

Preventive measures: Before winter comes, secure or replace loose and missing nails. Trimming back bushes near the deck will prevent mold, moss and rot. Moving planters, chairs, tables and other items that are on the deck will prevent the deck from becoming discolored.

For more information, visit www.pillartopostfranchise.com.


TOP 5 RC - Steps to an Updated Outdoor Entertaining Space

June 6, 2013 6:36 pm

(BPT) - With milder weather finally here, it's time to start planning your outdoor projects. Is your outdoor patio or deck looking a bit dated and dingy? Does it reflect your home's personality? Whether you're planning to host outdoor festivities with friends and family or just grilling up gourmet creations, a few changes can really liven up your outdoor space and add value to your home. Follow these simple steps for an updated look that will create a more enjoyable area.

Clear it off

The first step when updating any patio or deck is to remove all items from the area; this includes furniture, planters and even the weathered layer of grime that sits atop the wood. Use a power washer to really remove any mildew and debris. By starting with a clean surface, you'll be able to see the current state of the wood. If the stain is faded or wearing away, consider re-staining it. Wood exposed to the outdoor elements should be coated with an oil-based finish, never a latex or acrylic paint. Paint is more susceptible to weathering, fading and flaking. Oil-based stains soak into the wood and result in better and longer-lasting results.

Mini-rollers are the perfect size for applying stain to railings, spindles and any other small areas of the deck. The covers are available in 4 1/2- and 6 1/2-inch lengths and come in all fabric types, including fabric that works well with oil-based finishes. If your deck is currently painted, be sure to scrape away any flaking areas from the deck flooring, the steps and handrails. 

Dress it up and add some color

Is your existing outdoor furniture looking a bit drab? Repaint it and dress it up with outdoor pillows and cushions. Change up the layout of the furniture for another fresh look. By moving furniture into a more square or circular shape, you'll increase conversations. If a focal point exists, such as a fire pit or great view, arrange furniture to face that. For a more embellished look to your railings, replace existing spindles and ball tops with more decorative ones. Repaint planter boxes and add in colorful accessories such as rugs, lawn ornaments and small plants. Flowers, herbs and many vegetables can be grown in planters, boxes and any other small space.

Lighten up your space

Many outdoor gatherings can carry on past sunset, so lighting your deck area is important. There are hundreds of options available to lighten up any outdoor area. You can create whatever atmosphere you prefer. Solar lamps are a smart, energy-efficient way to light the walk and seating areas, while Chinese lanterns hanging in the trees create a fun, party feel.

Lights lining railing walkways will direct attendees to and from the gathering areas safely, and an enclosed bonfire pit or portable fireplace is a great way to gather people for post-dinner carousing. Sufficient lighting will encourage guests to stay past dark and allow everyone to enjoy a warm summer evening.

By following these simple steps, you'll be spending more time outdoors and have a fresh space to enjoy with family and friends all summer long.

 


Word of the Day

June 6, 2013 6:36 pm

Tax credit.  An allowed deduction that can be subtracted from your income tax.  If you are entitled to a $1,500 credit, and your income tax would otherwise be $10,000, the credit would reduce the tax due to $8,500.


Q: How Long Do Bankruptcies and Foreclosure Stay on a Credit Report?

June 6, 2013 6:36 pm

A: They can remain on your credit record for seven to 10 years.

However, a borrower who has worked hard to reestablish good credit may be shown some leniency by the lender. And the circumstances surrounding the bankruptcy may also influence a lender's decision. For example, if you went bankrupt because you were laid off from your job, the lender may be more sympathetic. If, however, you went through bankruptcy because you overextended personal credit lines and lived beyond your means, it is unlikely the lender will readily give you a break.

 


5 Frugal Habits of the Rich

June 6, 2013 4:58 am

It stands to reason that people who live modestly and invest wisely are on the surest pathway

to wealth and financial freedom. Frugal shopper Kyle James, who operates a website called

RatherBeShopping.com, makes a habit of tracking the ways wealthy people spend their

money.
 

From his observations, here are five widespread frugal habits endorsed by many of the rich

and/or famous:

1.Drive a modest car – Some people allow the car they drive to define their character or

image. But Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg drives a $30,000 Acura sedan, the kind

of decision seconded by many wealthy people who know the purpose of a car is simply

to get us from place to place.

2.Buy a modest house – As many people know, Warren Buffett still lives in the Omaha,

Neb., home he bought in 1958 for $31,500. Taking his cue, and not undertaking a large

monthly mortgage payment, will allow you to use the money you save to build up a

savings and retirement fund.

3.Don’t carry a full wallet – Walking around with a wallet full of cash, or a credit card or

two, can make it tempting to buy more than we need.  Texas oil executive T. Boone

Pickens still shops with a grocery list and carries only enough cash to buy what he

plans to buy.

4.Don’t pay full price – Actress Hilary Swank, who has a net worth of more than $40

million, is frequently seen using coupons at the grocery store – and First Lady Michelle

Obama often opts to shop at Target. Looking for bargains leaves you with more money

to save or invest.

5.Have an action mentality – Almost all self-made millionaires are people of action.

They do not have a “lottery mentality,” waiting for something good to come their way.

Rather, they take appropriate risks, are always looking to improve themselves, and

seek knowledge as the best way to gain a competitive financial advantage.


Think Outside the Fuse Box: Unique Energy-Saving Home Improvements

June 6, 2013 4:58 am

(BPT)—You've replaced your home's 20-year-old windows with new, Energy Star-rated models, upgraded to electricity-sipping appliances and there's not a single incandescent light bulb to be found anywhere in your house. You may be wondering what more you can do to further reduce your home energy bills.

When you've covered the basic and obvious ways to trim energy use at home, it's time to start thinking outside the fuse box. Here are three unique home improvements that can help make your house even more energy-efficient.

1. Put a stake through the heart of vampire power - Even when they're turned off, electrical devices draw power as long as they're plugged in. "Vampire power" or "standby power" refers to the electricity wasted in this manner. In developed countries, standby power probably accounts for 5 to 10 percent of residential energy use, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Fortunately, vampire power is a relatively easy problem to solve. In many cases, simply unplug the power cord - a great solution for your cellphone charger or the coffee pot. When an appliance gets frequent use, however, constantly unplugging and replugging it may not be convenient. In those situations, a simple home improvement may be in order.

Connect outlets to wall switches that make it easy to turn the device off or on at the outlet. Or, you can plug appliances into a device that, in turn, plugs into the outlet and stops electricity leakage.

2. Add motorized shutters to windows - People add motorized rolling shutters to their homes for a variety of reasons, from enhancing privacy and security by making it harder for burglars to break in through windows, to protection against intense sunshine and hurricane winds. But did you know shutters can also boost your home's energy efficiency?

In winter, motorized shades or rolling shutters maximize insulation of windows - a significant point of heat loss in many homes. In summer, they can reduce heat gain, help maintain a more comfortable indoor temperature and protect furnishings from damaging UV rays. Automating motorized shutters with a sun sensor allow you to further improve energy efficiency by raising or lowering shutters throughout the day to fine-tune heat retention.

3. Open the door to energy savings - Your home's front door is the first impression visitors get when they arrive on your doorstep, but it's also a potential source of heat and energy loss. Replacing an old, inefficient or poorly insulated door with an Energy Star-qualified door can pay off with significant heat retention and energy savings.

When looking for a replacement door, insulated doors made of fiberglass or steel, filled with an insulating core such as polyurethane foam, are more energy-efficient than traditional wooden doors. Doors should also fit well into the doorframe, and use weather stripping to block drafts.

Doors wear out, lose efficiency and need to be replaced, according to the Residential Energy Services Network. Replace your old front door with an Energy Star-qualified one, and you may qualify for a federal tax credit of up to 30 percent of the cost of the door, according to EnergyStar.gov.

Improving your home's energy efficiency is the right thing to do - for both the environment and your wallet. With a bit of creativity and the right home improvements, it's possible to maximize your home's energy efficiency.


5 Things to Do with Your Family This Summer

June 6, 2013 4:58 am

Summer is a great time to enjoy the outdoors, whether you stay close to home or take a quick trip nearby. Here are some ideas to help you stay active and healthy and spend some time with your family.

Visit a national park. There are more than 400 national parks to choose from, and each one has something special to offer. You can enjoy some time with Mother Nature or sign up for organized hikes, go fishing, horseback riding, or rock climbing. End the day camping and resting next to a campfire.

Cool off at the beach or community pools. If your family likes to spend time in the water, you can always plan a trip to the beach. Make sure to plan ahead and take what you need to build sand castles or play games on the beach. If you live far from the ocean and prefer to stay close to home, you can go to a public pool. Make sure to visit Poolsafely.gov to learn about how to keep your family safe while enjoying the water.

Take a bicycle ride. There are lots of options when it comes to riding your bicycle. You can go around your neighborhood or explore your local parks or beaches. Make it a family routine and teach your children the importance of exercising and staying active. Don't forget to put on your helmet and follow the basic safety rules of riding a bicycle.

Attend local events. Many federal properties host community events where you can enjoy different activities with your family, including farmers' markets, art galleries, concerts and other live shows. Check your local community calendar to see what's coming up.

Organize activities in your home. You don't need to spend money or get out of town to stay active. There are lots of things you can find in your own home to keep your family entertained. You don't need much space to plant a garden.

Source: GobiernoUSA.gov/USA.gov

 


Word of the Day

June 6, 2013 4:58 am

Maintenance fees.  Paid by a condominium unit owner to the owners’ association for upkeep of the common areas.


Q: When Is the Best Time to Refinance?

June 6, 2013 4:58 am

A: Many people flock to refinance while mortgage interest rates are low, particularly when rates are about two percentage points below their existing home loans.

Other factors, like when to finance, will depend on how long you plan to hold on to your home and whether you have to pay considerable fees to refinance. It also will depend on how far along you are in paying off your current mortgage.   

If you expect to sell your home relatively soon, you are not likely to recoup the costs you incurred to refinance.  And if you are more than halfway through paying your current mortgage, you probably will gain little by refinancing. However, if you are going to own your home for at least another five years, that is probably long enough to recoup any refinancing costs and realize real savings as a result of lowering your monthly payment.

In fact, if it costs you nothing to refinance, you can gain even more.  Many lenders will let you roll the costs of the refinancing into the new note and still reduce the amount of the monthly payment. Plus, there are no-cost refinancing deals available.

Contact your lender, and its competitors, before you refinance.

 


Find the Perfect Retirement Destination

June 3, 2013 6:02 pm

Searching for the perfect active adult community to enjoy during retirement creates all sorts of questions. Do you want to live somewhere else? If so, where? Do you want warmth and sunshine? Do you want to stay close to family? Do you want a condo or single family home? With questions like these, doing your homework is important, and so it's best to start early.

According to research conducted by ProMatura, a global market research and advisory firm specializing in 50+ consumers, active adult home buyers visit an average of 4.6 active adult communities before making a final purchase decision, and they visit the community that they ultimately choose an average of 3.8 times before making that final decision. Unless you’re Lori Rust and her husband Kevin Jordan.

Lori and Kevin began their search for the best retirement location at age 50. Six years, six states and thirty-five communities later, they believe they have found “home.” The two, living in Denver, Colo. at the time their search began, thought about the longevity of their careers  and what they wanted to do with the rest of their lives.

“We’re both analytical people,” says Jordan, who is now working in real estate sales. “We needed to take the emotion out of the process and focus on things that would enhance our lives, and so we created a list of important characteristics and applied a weighted score.”

It wasn’t an easy process. Kevin, a New York native, wanted to be close to the action with cultural and retail offerings, while Lori, who grew up in Montana, wanted open spaces, beautiful views and clean air. “We started with a blank canvas,” says Kevin. We were willing to consider most everywhere in the country. We looked at the Carolinas, Florida, Texas, California and Arizona. We had to decide what areas would we enjoy, and then drill down to what state, what area, what community, and then the home. It ultimately has less to do with the house and more to do with everything else,” he notes.

Also among their many considerations were a warm climate, access to quality golf and the ability to get on the course during peak season. Plus, they wanted a good value that allowed them to live within their means and still enjoy the extras. And, they wanted to be in an area attractive to fellow baby boomers.

For this couple, as they looked ahead to the next phase of their life, being in an area appealing to aging baby boomers was important. They knew they wanted to be working and interfacing with this huge demographic, the first of the 78-million boomers began turning 65 last year. Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964 and 10,000 a day are now turning 65.

“When researching communities, one of the most illuminating things you can do is talk to the people who live there. You’ll learn more than you can imagine,” says Lori.

Below are some more important things to go over when searching for the perfect retirement destination:

  • What are your weather and climate preferences?
  • If interested, is there quality golf and the ability to get tee times in peak season?
  • What is the average age of the residents?
  • What is the proximity to commercial services, culture and restaurants?
  • Is the cost of living reasonable?
  • How well-built is the home?
  • Do the onsite amenities, if any, match your lifestyle needs?