Gunning Daily News

Q: Do Builders Provide Financing?

June 20, 2013 4:41 am

A: Many builders offer financing incentives to help move more buyers into a project. In fact, major building companies often have their own mortgage brokerage subsidiaries, while many other builders routinely refer buyers to "preferred" local lenders. If it is a buyer's market in your area, you can be sure developers will offer incentives such as low-down-payment financing or interest rate subsidies.

 

It's Cool to Have a Safe Pool - Tips on Barriers, Alarms & Covers

June 20, 2013 4:41 am

It's June and that means tops are coming off - residential pools. But it's serious business when outdoor pools pose a hazard to your loved ones or others who live close by.

I want to bring pool owners up to speed on the latest advice from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which has devoted an entire website to the subject - poolsafely.gov.

CPSC’s Pool Safely campaign recommend pool owners employ not one, but multiple safety systems to safeguard children in and around the water.

Since no safety system is foolproof, the Pool Safely campaign suggests that each protective measure be used in conjunction with adult supervision and other types of safety systems, according to the CPSC.

No matter how safe a pool owner may feel, adding additional protective measures contribute to the overall safety of a pool or spa. Added safety systems to consider include:

  • An outdoor swimming pool barrier - a physical obstacle that surrounds a pool or spa so that access to the water is limited to adults. Barriers give parents additional time to locate a child before the unexpected becomes a reality.
  • Alarms for doors, gates, windows and pools or spas - these safety features designed to alert adults when unsupervised children enter the area of the pool or spa. There are a number of different types of alarms that can be used, which emit an audible sound when triggered by opening, moving, or by motion in the water.
  • A pool or spa safety cover - is a manual or motorized barrier that can be placed over the water’s surface, and is easily opened or closed. When a safety cover is properly in place over the pool or spa, it provides a high level of safety for children less than 5 years of age by inhibiting their access to the water.
  • The CPSC also advises to maintain a higher level of security, remove ladders and slides when using covers on pools.

For specifics about these pool safety measures, click here.

 


Four Simple Steps to Help DIYers Get Pro-level Painting Results

June 20, 2013 4:41 am

(BPT)—When it comes to simple, low-cost home improvements that can add value and completely change the look of a room, you just can't beat painting. From giving a room a whole new look to protecting the walls and boosting the value of your home, painting delivers many benefits - all at a fraction of the cost of other improvements.

Tackle the job yourself, rather than hiring a professional painter, and you can save even more money.

"Any do-it-yourselfer can achieve professional-looking painting results when they follow the right steps and use the right painting tools," says Arti Lyde, a product director with Wagner, manufacturer of painting products. "Painting can dramatically improve the look and style of your home."

Follow these four guidelines and you can achieve professional-looking results with your own hands:

Prepping is paramount

Professionals know that properly preparing their work space is a key factor in achieving a good end result. Before you crack open that paint can, take these preparatory steps:

* Gather all the tools you will need in one place.

* Protect surfaces such as baseboards, woodwork and windows by taping off with a good quality painter's tape.

* Completely cover carpets with a good quality drop cloth that will resist punctures and rips.

* Some jobs require a primer before putting the final color on the wall. Primer preps the surface and helps the final coat adhere better.

Pick the right paint

The quality of the paint you choose will directly affect how good the job looks when you're done. For a good quality finish it is important to select quality paint, which adheres better, gives a uniform finish and will last longer. Also, look at the latest color trends and select a color that will meet your style.

Before you buy, research the brands available at your local home improvement store. Check out consumer review websites, giving particular attention to those that feature reviews from homeowners who've actually used the products. These independent, real-life reviewers can offer valuable insight into how well a paint might work.

Use the right tools

Many professionals use paint sprayers to achieve smooth, fast results. Now homeowners can achieve professional results. The sprayers allow you to cover an 8-by-10-foot surface in just two to six minutes, and they can be used inside the house or outside on decks, fences, sheds or any other surface you need to paint quickly and easily.

Pay attention to the details

Details such as painting baseboards, woodwork and ceilings are the crowning touch on any paint job. Professionals know it's these finishing touches that pull together the look of a room.

With the right tools and professional approach, you can save money by doing your own painting - and enjoy the pride and satisfaction of a job well done.

Source: Wagner

 


DIY Magic to Transform Your Kids' Rooms

June 20, 2013 4:41 am

(Family Features)—It's no surprise that kids want unique, colorful bedrooms that reflect their personalities and give them a space to call their own. Parents, though, may find that overwhelming and worry about having to sacrifice cleanliness and organization.  

The ideas below will help you create fun, innovative rooms and make everyone in the family happy.  Plus, they are easy to create.

Go Team!

One of the most enduring bedroom themes for boys and girls revolves around sports. Whether your little athlete plays or just watches soccer, football or basketball, this is an easy look to achieve. Select two shades that match their favorite team's colors. Paint the bottom half of each wall in the darkest color then coat the top half with the other. Create a polished look by dividing the two colors with a wide, horizontal strip of paint. Posters, pennants and memorabilia complete the look.  

Fit for Royalty

Give your little prince or princess a dreamy bedroom inspired by Disney's most cherished icons. Select the perfect color from the new line of Disney Paint by the makers Glidden Paint (r).  It comes in 112 exclusive colors designed to give kids inspiration at every stage - from infant to tween.  Add matching bedding and other accessories to complete the look. For a truly show-stopping finish, put a splash of glitter on the walls. Disney Paint, "All That Glitters," is a new clear topcoat that creates a shimmering glitter finish over any painted surface.

Just Beachy

All it takes is the perfect color of blue paint to transform any bedroom into a tropical oasis. Carry the theme throughout the room with white curtains, bedding and furniture. Then trim the windows by draping lengths of grass skirting along the top and placing several clear jars of sea glass along one ledge. Prop a surfboard or two in the corner or hang them from the ceiling to complete the look.

Space Out

Glow-in-the-dark paint makes it easy to create an out-of-this-world bedroom. After all, every budding young scientist should have lots of encouragement to reach for the stars. Paint the walls a deep space blue. Then create celestial bodies around the room using planetary stencils that you can see even when the lights go out. Disney Paint has five new specialty finishes, including "Ready, Set, Glow!" This translucent, ready-to use yellow paint allows any surface to glow in the dark. Use it also to stencil stars on the ceiling, turn off the lights and let your child dream up a bright future.

Tips to Help Complete the Transformation

* Use a room's fifth wall - the ceiling - to help spice up a room

* Stencil fun shapes, like tiaras, jewels, cars, boats, etc., to help complement your kids' personalities

* Add an extra punch to small spaces, like bathrooms or window seats, with a fun and dynamic finish

* Jazz up one piece of furniture, like a nightstand, chest of drawers or wooden chair, to bring extra personality to a room

Source: www.DisneyPaint.com.  


Word of the Day

June 20, 2013 4:41 am

Mortgage broker.  Individual or company that brings borrowers and lenders together; a loan broker.


Q: What Is a Variance?

June 20, 2013 4:41 am

A:  A variance is a request made to your local jurisdiction to deviate from current zoning requirements.  If granted, a variance will allow you to use your land in a way that is normally not permitted by the zoning ordinance because it waives a certain requirement of the zoning ordinance.  For example, it may allow the owner of an odd-shaped lot to reduce slightly the setback requirements in order to accommodate a building, or permit the building of a gazebo in the backyard.


Q: Once I Choose a Contractor, What Items Should Be Covered in the Contract?

June 16, 2013 7:34 am

A: According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, a well-written contract should contain the following information:

  • The contractor’s name, address, telephone and license number, if applicable;
  • Details about what will and will not be done;
  • A detailed list of materials for the project, including model, brand name and color.
  • The approximate start date and substantial completion dates.
  • A written notice of your right to cancel a contract within three business days of signing, without penalty – provided the contract was solicited at some place other than the contractor’s place of business or appropriate trade premise.
  • Financial terms that are spelled out clearly, including payment schedules and any cancellation penalties.
  • A one-year minimum warranty identified as either “full” or “limited” to cover materials and workmanship, as well as the name and address of the party who will honor the warranty.
  • A binding arbitration clause, in the event a disagreement occurs.

You may also want to include a statement that you will not be responsible if payment to the contractors’ subcontractors and suppliers are not made.  You may also want to establish that the contractor should obtain all the necessary permits and that all blank spots in the contract be filled in with phrases like “does not apply.”


Tips to Keep Your Guests Entertained This Summer

June 16, 2013 7:34 am

Family Features--When planning outdoor gatherings, don't let your guests lounge for too long. Get them up and interacting with a few fun games and activities provided by planning expert Katie Brown. Plan an assortment of activities designed to engage all ages with these tips:

  • A bubble refill station: Engaging activities are fun for kids -- they can blow big bubbles in the yard while the parents watch and mingle.
  • A cookie decorating station: Create a theme for the party and have guests colorfully decorate cookies to reflect the party theme.
  • Classic picnic games: What outdoor gathering is complete without a round of croquet, horseshoes or bocce ball? Consider a classic race game, such as the three-legged race, potato sack race or wheelbarrow race.
  • Photobooth fun: Hang a large vintage picture frame from the branch of a sturdy tree. Supply a bucket of props and disposable cameras so guests can create a memento that will last a lifetime.
  • Water balloon toss: Have guests take turns throwing water balloons in bowls set up at varying distances. The winner is the person who lands the most unbroken balloons in the bowls.
  • If you plan to give guests more than just the thrill of victory as a prize, aim for a fun summertime theme. Give out beach towels, pool toys, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, kites, coolers or beach bags. These also make great party favors.

4 Things Parents Should Know before Paying for College

June 16, 2013 7:34 am

From $20,000 to $65,000 a year—that’s the tuition cost for one year of college, says John McDonough, a money expert who helps retirees and parents plan for their families’ futures.

“For the 2012–2013 academic year, the average cost for an in-state public college is $22,261. A moderate budget for a private college averaged $43,289,” says McDonough, CEO of Studemont Group College Funding Solutions, www.studemontgroup.com. “But for elite schools, we’re talking about three times the cost of your local state school. Either way, your kid’s higher education can easily shoot into six figures after four years.”

Along with worrying about rising tuition prices, parents also fear for their own futures if their retirement savings are drained by children’s college costs, McDonough says. Only 14 percent, for example, are very confident they’ll have the money to live comfortably in retirement, he says, citing a 2012 survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

“Families feel they’re faced with conflicting goals, but there are numerous ways to pay for college while investing in your future retirement,” says McDonough, who offers insights for parents to keep in mind while planning for their child’s education:

• The ROI of a college education: At a time when so many American families are financially strapped, college is an especially stressful topic because parents know higher learning will help their kids succeed. College graduates earn 84 percent than those with only a high school diploma, according to Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce. Here is how earning breaks down over one’s life time, based on education: a doctoral degree-holder will earn $3.3 million over a lifetime; $2.3 million is estimated for a college graduate; those with only a high school diploma can expect $1.3 million.

• Move retirement assets to qualify for grants: Most parents know about the 529 savings account, but that’s not necessarily the best or only option. Reallocating your retirement assets, such as 401(k)s, can better position a child to qualify for grants and scholarships. This legal and ethical maneuvering may be the single most important factor when considering how to pay for college.

• Know your student’s strengths and weaknesses: Consider independent and objective analysis of your future college student. Assessment might include a personality profile and a detailed search for a future career. Also think about a more nuts-and-bolts approach, including scholarship eligibility, SAT and ACT prep courses, review of admissions essays and an in-depth analysis of chances for enrollment in a student’s top four choices of colleges.

• Make a checklist of financial aid forms: In order to maximize a fair price of higher education, remember there is plenty of data to review. McDonough recommends a checklist with a timeline and notable deadlines. Be ready to troubleshoot the “alphabet soup” of data forms: FAFSA – Free Application For Federal Student Aid; CSS profile – College Scholarship Service; SAR – Student Aid Report; and more. Think about this process as a second job, or find professional help you can trust.

John McDonough is the managing member at Studemont Group, which is primarily focused on helping retirees gain peace of mind with unique market rescue and recovery programs. He is also founder, president and CEO of Studemont Group College Funding Solutions.


2013 Summer Travel Trends and Tips

June 16, 2013 7:34 am

Looking to book a last minute summer vacation? Here are some guidelines to help get the most out of your summer vacation:

There's still time to book
For those who don't start to think about summer travel until it's actually summertime, that's ok too. Stay informed for such deals by subscribing to travel alerts and newsletters.

Be flexible
If you don't have a timeframe for travel in mind, sometimes last-minute tickets can be a cheaper alternative to planning far in advance. Being flexible about flight dates and airports can also help with itinerary options, as well as reduced prices.

Beating the crowds
With many families on summer break and people utilizing their vacation time, summer crowds can be hard to avoid. The key to enjoying the popular attractions and getting to see the sights without never-ending lines is timing. Arriving early or visiting later in the day will be the least crowded times, and usually a bit cooler temperature, which can be more comfortable. Explore streets and towns around the major tourist attractions to still capture the essence of a destination's culture, history and cuisine, but without the grueling foot traffic. Or, if you have the time, take a train or airbus to explore nearby cities and countries.

Source: www.vayama.com.