Gunning Daily News

Q: Does a Contractor Have to Provide a Warranty for the Work?

April 1, 2013 9:40 pm

A: It depends on whether one is required by state law. If your contractor offers a warranty, which ensures quality workmanship and required repairs if faulty products or workmanship is discovered, ask to see a copy of the written provisions to make sure you have sufficient protection from defective work. You may want to become familiar with your state law, if applicable.

Home Allergy Solutions: Dust vs. Dirt

March 28, 2013 10:56 pm

Living in an older 'historic' home, I believe that some of the dust that has settled on a few ledges and windowsills could be as old as the residence itself. So it was with some relief that the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (acaai.org) came to the defense of homeowners who are constantly fighting a seemingly losing battle against the dust bunnies.

So is dust allergy a sign of a dirty house? The ACAAI says 'no' - however, a dirty house can make a house dust allergy problem worse. And since many substances in dust cannot be removed by normal cleaning procedures, rigorous cleaning methods can actually put more dust into the air making symptoms worse.

The ACAAI offers the following tips for reducing house dust allergens:



  • Measure the indoor humidity and keep it below 55 percent. Do not use vaporizers or humidifiers. You may need a dehumidifier. Use vent fans in bathrooms and when cooking to remove moisture. Repair all water leaks.

  • Remove wall-to-wall carpets from the bedroom if possible. Use a central vacuum or a vacuum with a HEPA filter regularly.

  • If you are allergic, wear a N95 filter mask while dusting, sweeping or vacuuming. Remember, it takes over two hours for the dust to settle back down, so if possible clean when the allergic patient is away and don't clean the bedroom at night.

  • Keep pets out of the bedroom at ALL times. Consider using a HEPA Air Cleaner in the bedroom.

  • Encase mattresses and pillows with "mite-proof" covers. Wash all bed linens regularly using hot water.

  • Do not leave out uncovered food at night, and dispose of food wastes in a tightly sealed garbage can. And if it is an issue, schedule regular professional pest control utilizing integrated pest management (IPM) methods.

  • Install a high efficiency media filter with a MERV rating of 11 or 12 in the furnace and air-conditioning unit. Leave the fan on to create a "whole house" air filter and change the filter with the change of the seasons. Have your heating and air-conditioning units inspected and serviced every six months.

Source: http://www.epa.gov/mold

Q: What Questions Should Be Asked of an Architect?

March 28, 2013 10:56 pm

A: Ask questions that will give you a sense of the architect’s style, approach to design, and methods of work.  For example:  What is your design philosophy?  What important issues or challenges do you see in my project?  How will you approach my project? What will you show me along the way (models, drawings, or sketches) to explain the project? How do you establish fees?  What would be the expected fee for my project?  What is your experience/track record with cost estimating?  If the scope of the project changes later, will there be additional fees?  How will these be justified?  The Washington Chapter of the AIA offers an excellent consumer brochure that provides additional questions and useful information.

Word of the Day

March 28, 2013 10:56 pm

Loan servicing.  Task of collecting monthly payments, handling insurance and tax impounds, delinquencies, early payoffs, and mortgage releases.



An Illuminating Case for Motion & Solar Lighting

March 28, 2013 10:56 pm

One of the easiest and most economical ways to provide enhanced safety and security
is by adding lights to areas of frequent foot traffic, or the more secluded corners of your
property. So I went looking for a few ways to shed a little light on both wired and wireless
exterior lighting options.
 
Mark J. Donovan, who posted for homeadditionplus.com says the heart of a motion
activated light is an infrared sensor that detects infrared waves, or heat waves, that
radiate from moving objects.
 
Most models of the models available can adjust the field of view - including the detection
angle and detection range - to mitigate nuisance triggers like passing vehicles or
shrubbery being blown by the wind.
 
Donovan says when installing a motion activated exterior light it is best to locate it
approximately 6 to 10 feet off of the ground and in locations that are near egresses to
your home, for examples walkways, patios, garage doors.
 
So how much will you have to pay for a good motion sensing light? At $25 to $40,
bestcovery.com points to the Heath ZenithSL-5512-BZ 300-Watt Quartz Halogen for
motion-activated outdoor lighting, because it includes both a motion sensor and a
two-light halogen floodlight for added convenience.
 
It has a 240-degree motion-activated floodlight featuring a “pulse count” that reduces the
amount of times it's triggered due to wind and rain.
 
If you need serious lighting capacity and you want to add the energy-saving aspect of
solar power, look to ycasolarlightstore.com. This site offers a range of solutions starting
at around $50 graduating up to very sophisticated systems.
 
For instance, the Solar Goes Green SGG-F156-2R Industrial Grade LED Solar Flood
Light - with SMD (Surface Mount Diode) LEDs is more energy efficient and 17% brighter
than standard LEDs. And it includes a long life Lithium Ion battery for superior lighting
cycle time.
 
The SGG-F156-2R Solar Flood light can be configured as a Dusk to Dawn Floodlight, or
as a Solar Powered Motion activated security light using the adjustable motion PIR
detector.

First-Time Home Buyer? Tips for a Smooth Sale

March 28, 2013 10:56 pm

 

Attention to detail and proper preparation can alleviate much of the stress and save time for first-time home buyers.

Coby Crump, President of the Lubbock Association of REALTORS®, says to keep in mind personal finances, the bigger picture, and professional assistance to make for a smooth sale.

Before even beginning to look at the first house, Crump said, it would behoove buyers to sit down and consider their financial situation.

"You can waste a lot of time if you view homes without knowing what you can really afford," Crump says.

In addition to monthly payments and a down payment, it is important to consider property taxes and insurance. A REALTOR® can be beneficial in assessing one's finances.

"When considering finances, ensure to get pre-approved for any loans," he says. "This allows the comfort to search for homes in a buyer's price range. It can also show a seller that he or she is interested and serious, and can allow for an offer to be made quickly."

Crump adds to keep in mind the bigger picture and ultimate goal when faced with annoyances or hiccups in the process. Be realistic and be prepared to make minor concessions.

"You don't have to set low expectations about your home purchase," he says. "Just know that you may need to give a little on one of your search criteria."

With all hiccups or potential problems, it is helpful to have professional assistance; and this includes a professional inspector and a REALTOR®.

A professional inspector can determine what needs to be repaired or replaced. A REALTOR® will prove to be an invaluable partner for the duration of your buying experience. A REALTOR® belonging to the National Association of REALTORS® is held to a high standard of ethics.



Make Spring Break Safe and Healthy

March 28, 2013 10:56 pm

It's that time of year again –bags are packed and people all across the country are on their way to a week filled with fun in the sun. Spring break is a good time for rest and relaxation, but vacation is also a time when many of us lose track of healthy practices including nutritious eating or common sense safety rules.   

"You can enjoy yourself and a few indulgences while still keeping your health a priority in the midst of spring break travel," says Kimbra Bell, MD, an internal medicine physician with Northwestern Memorial Physicians Group.

Below are Bell's tips to stay healthy during spring break vacations:


  • Protect your skin. If traveling to a sun-filled destination, wear sunscreen of at least 30 SPF and most importantly, do not forget to re-apply every two hours.  This will protect against the sun's harmful rays which predispose a person to skin cancer, including melanoma.

  • Eat healthy. A healthy diet is important – even while on vacation.  Be sure to include plenty of fruits and vegetables in meals and drink lots of water.  Nutritious food will keep the body fueled and well-hydrated, providing plenty of energy to engage in activities all day.  In addition, the foundation for any day is a healthy breakfast.

  • Stay hydrated. Oftentimes spring break can involve various days filled with strenuous activities from rock climbing to various kinds of sports; keeping hydrated is essential with any sort of physical activity.  Remember to stay well-hydrated with at least 48 ounces of water per day.  A general rule of thumb would be a minimum of three to four 16 ounce standard water bottles per day.  

  • Pick luggage wisely. If carrying a purse, wear one that can be strapped across the body and has a zipper, not a snap closure or an open closure. A secure zipper can thwart "pick pocket" attempts and decrease the chances of someone grabbing the purse and running away with it.

  • Get plenty of sleep.   A good night's rest is the foundation for renewing and refueling the body for the next day. Adults should strive to get six to eight hours of sleep each night; even on vacation where sleep can sometimes seem secondary to having fun.    

For college students and young adults who are taking spring break trips, Bell reminds that making smart choices and using common sense is one of the best ways to stay safe on spring break. She recommends the following safety tips:


  • Do not travel alone. While on spring break, always move about in pairs or groups.  Traveling alone increases your chances of being a victim of theft or other crime.

  • Take caution if consuming alcohol. If consuming alcoholic drinks (or nonalcoholic beverages) in a public space, never leave a beverage unattended; this can expose the risk of someone putting an unknown substance into the drink. Discard any drink that has been left unattended. Avoid overindulgence which can lead to serious injury or illness and never operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.

  • Protect yourself. For those engaging in sexual activity while on spring break, taking safety precautions is essential. Remember, consuming alcohol can cloud judgment and result in bad decision making; it's crucial to assure that both parties are consenting and capable of making decisions. Sexually transmitted infections (STI) are on the rise among young adults. While the only way to be 100 percent protected against STI is to abstain from sexual activity, condoms can prevent transmission of STI between sexual partners.

  • Check in back at home. While it's easy to stay disconnected while on vacation, vacationers should always keep contact with family or friends at home. Plan to check in with parents or other family members at least two to three times over the course of a trip, which will let them know that you are safe and having a good time. If someone expects to hear from you, an immediate red flag will be raised if you don't make contact.

When in doubt, Bell recommends that young adults follow their instincts and make choices that feel best to them. "Remember, you are your own person and if the group that you are with chooses to engage in an activity that you are not comfortable with, do not be afraid to decline participation," said Bell.  "It's better to be safe than sorry.  Find someone who can escort you back to a safe place, such as your hotel room, and then grab your iPad or a good book and relax by the pool."

Source: www.nmh.org.



Word of the Day

March 28, 2013 10:56 pm

Loan-to-value ratio.  Relationship of a mortgage loan to the appraised value of a piece of property.  Usually expressed to the buyer in terms of how much the lender will lend, i.e. – 75 percent financing.



Q: What Guidelines Are Useful for Finding an Architect?

March 28, 2013 10:56 pm

A:  Start by finding out who designed the projects that you like in your community. Get referrals from people you know, or the local American Institute of Architects (AIA).  Interview three to five firms to get a range of possibilities for your project.  But only select firms that specialize in residential designs, preferably remodeling, and review their portfolios and talk with past clients.  Insist on meeting the key people who will work on your project and ask questions until you’re comfortable and confident about your decision.  Ultimately, select a firm based on its design ability, technical competence, professional service, and cost.  Then, enter into detailed negotiations about service and compensation.  The AIA offers standard-form owner-architect agreements that can help you begin this process.    

Tips to Simplify Your New Home Purchase

March 28, 2013 9:26 pm

Buying a home is a huge step. Learning to maintain and improve it is a long series of baby steps, sometimes painful and sometimes rewarding.

To help get new homeowners off on the right foot, the editors at The Family Handyman –some of the sharpest DIY Veterans around—offer their best tips for choosing, maintaining and improving a home.

These hints include:

1. Scout the neighborhood: Ask questions. When you are checking out your future home, try going on separate occasions and different times of the day. Ask neighbors about the area, schools, etc. This will give you a real indication of what the people and place is really like. You’ll feel more confident with your decision to move in once you have done all the proper research.

2. Check crime stats: Before buying, get a report of police calls in the neighborhood. A bargain price may be due to the crime rate in the area.

3. Verify everything: Get the house history and insist on full written disclosure from the seller about remodeling, repairs, old damage, leaks, mold, etc. Check with the city or county, and get—in writing—the property's permit history, zoning, prior uses, homeowners' association restrictions and anything else you can find out. Forget “location, location, location” and think “verify, verify, verify!”

4. Get a licensed home inspection: This is extremely important. Don't let your real estate agent choose the inspector. Hire someone who works for you without any conflict of interest. Inspect the inspector before you hire. Ask to see a sample home inspection report. Comprehensive reports run 20 to 50 pages and include color photos showing defects or concerns. Also ask about the length of the inspection. A thorough inspection takes a minimum of three to four hours. You should walk through with the inspector, you’ll learn a lot about your house. You may pay more for a certified inspector, but in the long run, it’s worth it. For a list of certified inspectors by the American Society of Home Inspectors, visit ashi.org.

5. Get a home warranty: Piece of mind is important. A home warranty can save you from faulty appliances and you can get the brand new items you need.

6. Make a homeowner’s journal: Buy a ring binder and keep insurance papers, repair receipts and all other paperwork pertaining to the house in it. Storing all your house information in one handy place makes life easier for the homeowner and can be a sales “plus” when selling the house later.

 

7. Get to know your house before making big changes: Live in your home for 12 to 18 months before undertaking any major renovations such as additions or knocking down walls. What you initially think you want may change after you've lived there for a while.

8. Tackle one project at a time: It’s important to take it easy, one project at a time. If you tear right into the porch, kitchen remodel, and outdoor fence replacement at the same time – you’ll have the whole house and yard torn up at the same time. It might come together, but having everything going on at once will just add a lot of stress.

9. Check the furnace filter: Look for clues when it comes to the furnace. This can give you some insight into whether the previous owner took care of regular maintenance.

10. Don’t be afraid to DIY: Ninety percent of a DIY project is having the guts to try. Worst case—you mess up and then bring in the professional. Best case—you save money, learn something new and feel a great sense of accomplishment. 

11. Finish projects . . . now: Don't learn to live with incomplete projects. If you do, the last couple of pieces of trim can linger for years!

12. Budget for trouble: The worst will happen sooner or later. As long as you’re prepared, it will just be an expense rather than a financial shock.

13. Ask neighbors about pros they trust: If you're looking for plumbers, electricians or other pros, ask your neighbors. You tend to get decent advice if you get it from people who live near you.

14. Offer to buy the tools too: You can always use more tools. If you buy from a couple that's downsizing, you might get a great deal if you purchase their garden tools, tractors, snow blowers and tools in general.

Source: www.familyhandyman.com