Gunning Daily News

Q: Is It Possible to Refinance Following a Bankruptcy?

September 4, 2012 5:14 pm

A: It can be difficult to do after a bankruptcy, unless you are willing to pay very high interest rates and fees. However, if you are contemplating bankruptcy, first talk with your lender and explain your situation. If your mortgage payments are current, the lender may be accommodating and refinance your loan, thereby helping to ease your financial burden.

Three Easy Project Ideas for Indoors and Out

September 4, 2012 5:14 pm

In the continuing quest to find something to do around the house and yard during that transition period between late summer and early fall, I ran across an item at build.com, penned by Sean from Chico, Calif.

He took a fresh look at some of the easier things to accomplish ahead of fall and winter's wrath - that could enhance your property as well as your family's health.

Here they are in a nutshell:
1. Seal ventilation leaks: Houses with leaks and gaps are harder to keep cool than those that are tightly constructed. The hot air seeps in while the cool air conditioning rushes out, or cool winter air seeps in while expensive heat leaks out. Discover where you have leaks in the home (the most common spots are around the doors, windows and garage) and seal those leaks.
2. Improve your IAQ - indoor air quality: This can make the difference between a healthy household and one that has danger lurking in the air. Recovery ventilators and air exchangers (Sean recommends Broan‘s AE60 air exchanger) are roughly the same size as an air conditioner and offer constant filtration, humidity control and general home ventilation.
3. Install outdoor lighting: Sean says providing proper lighting can make walkways safer, add a layer of security and highlight your landscaping. Outdoor wall sconces, chandeliers, pendants, and path and post lights can also prolong the life of your outdoor party and instantly add to your home’s curb appeal.

Build.com reports that Low-voltage landscape lighting does not require an electrician or inspection, and, unlike some other electrical work, is safe to install.

Consider creating a silhouetted effect or front lighting to showcase single plants or trees. If you have a tall tree, place a light at the base and shine it up through the branches, or hide a tree mount fixture and have it shine down on a lawn or garden.

You may consider lighting other objects of interest like a birdbath or bench. It’s generally a good idea to spread your lighting out to create even illumination throughout the yard, but don't over-light your landscape, since too much light might prove unattractive.

Protecting Your Hard Wood

September 4, 2012 5:14 pm

(ARA) - No matter what the setting, the good looks and durability of hardwood floors can be maintained with minimal effort. It’s simply a matter of proper care and maintenance.

The American Hardwood Information Center, www.HardwoodInfo.com, in conjunction with the National Wood Flooring Association suggest the following care and maintenance guidelines to keep hardwood floors looking beautiful today, and for years to come. Here’s how to begin.

General maintenance guidelines

All hardwood floors should be cleaned regularly to remove dirt and grit from between the floor boards. Avoid using a wet mop which can dull the finish. Instead, sweep with either a dust mop or broom that features exploded tips, or vacuum the floors using a vacuum with special hardwood floor attachments or one with the beater bar turned off.

Wipe up any spills immediately, using a soft, dry or slightly damp cloth, starting at the edges of the spill and working toward the center. Allowing spills to remain on hardwood floors could damage the finish, as well as the wood.

Avoid walking on hardwood floors with sports cleats or high heel shoes in disrepair. These can scratch the finish, or even dent the floor. Placing felt pads on the bottom of furniture legs will also minimize scratches.

Further minimize scratches by placing scatter rugs at all entrances to help keep small stones and debris out. But choose wisely. Scatter rugs with rubber backs can discolor wood floors. Special rug mats can be purchased from a wood flooring retailer to protect the floors from discoloration.

You’re not "finished" just yet

Knowing which type of finish applied to protect the hardwood floor is important. Different flooring finishes require different kinds of care, so if or when in doubt, contact the flooring manufacturer or a wood flooring professional in your area.

There are three major types of wood flooring finishes available— surface finishes, wax and acrylic impregnated –and the experts at the National Wood Flooring Association stress that using the right maintenance products will protect and prolong the life of the floor.

Surface finishes, also referred to as urethanes or polyurethanes, are practical and very popular. They remain on the surface of the wood and form a protective coating that is water-resistant, durable and requires minimal maintenance.

For cleaning purposes, use products recommended by the flooring manufacturer. If the floors were finished or refinished on site, contact the installer. If neither is known, use a generic hardwood floor cleaner which can be purchased at a retail flooring store. Never use wax-based or petroleum-based products on a surface finish floor, as they will damage the finish.

Wax finishes soak into the wood, harden to form a protective penetrating seal, and when needed, are maintained with additional thin applications of wax. Only solvent-based waxes, buffing pastes or cleaning liquids made specifically for wax-finished wood floors should be used.

Use cleaning products, available at retail flooring stores, made specifically for wax finishes. Follow the directions carefully to determine how long the cleaner should remain on the floor. Once the floor is clean, apply a new coat of wax to restore luster.

Acrylic impregnated finishes are injected into the wood to create a super-hard, extremely durable floor. These finishes most often are used in high traffic areas of malls, restaurants and other commercial settings.

Cleaning an acrylic impregnated floor depends on the finish. If the floor has a urethane-based finish, follow the same procedures suggested for surface finished floors. If the floor has a nonurethane-based finish, use a spray and buff system, as recommended by the manufacturer.

Source: www.HardwoodInfo.com.

Remodeling? Follow These 5 Steps First

September 4, 2012 5:14 pm

Having the flexibility to turn your home into your dream house is an amazing feeling, and remodeling can be fun. But imagine being halfway through your kitchen remodel only to realize the money you budgeted isn't enough to cover completing the project. This is a perfect example of why proper home remodeling planning is so important. Below are five steps everyone should follow before the remodeling process takes place.

Draw a plan to define a clear idea of what you want the end result to look like. Write down any and all thoughts you have in regards to the desired room design. Draw where you think furniture pieces may go; describe how certain elements will be incorporated. The plan can change throughout the remodeling process, but having that visual at the start will help guide the project as things progress. If you are having difficulty formulating a remodeling plan, call a professional handyman or designer to help with direction and give you more ideas.

Research the various elements involved in your plan. Oftentimes, other people have carried out the same projects themselves and can offer valuable advice. Save time by learning from others' experiences, rather than by your own trial and error. If you find your kitchen remodeling, for example, is beyond your capabilities, a skilled handyman may offer expertise that can enhance your plan beyond your expectations. Once you have done your research, you will have a better idea of how much money and time are required to complete the plan.

Create a budget that you are comfortable devoting to your project. Before you begin purchasing materials and securing labor, you need to set a limit to ensure that spending does not get out of control. At this point, your plan may need alterations to fit within your budget restraints. Proper budgeting ensures your plan can be carried out to completion. In order to complete the kitchen remodeling, however, you will most likely need some professional help.

Gather help from experienced craftsmen to ensure your success. While some handy homeowners may opt to remodel alone, having others help will make the process a smoother experience. In some cases, that can be as simple as collecting friends and family to share the labor. Unfortunately, this type of help does not always give you the professional results you hope to achieve. Sometimes it may be best to bring in a professional.

Get the appropriate permits required by your local government to make sure your project complies with local building codes. Make sure to apply at your local town office for any necessary permits involved in your remodeling project. If you are unsure of how to go about this or which permits you require, handyman services can be extremely helpful.

Source: www.handymanconnection.com

Word of the Day

September 4, 2012 5:14 pm

Sales contract. Contract that contains the terms of the agreement between the buyer and seller for the sale of a particular parcel or parcels of real estate.

Q: What Is APR?

September 4, 2012 5:14 pm

A: The annual percentage rate, or APR, is an interest rate that differs from the loan rate. It is the actual yearly interest rate paid by the borrower, including the points charged to initiate the loan and other costs.

The APR discloses the real cost of borrowing by adding on the points and by factoring in the assumption that they will be paid off incrementally over the life of the loan. The APR is usually about 0.5 percent higher than the loan rate and is commonly used to compare mortgage programs from different lenders.

The Federal Truth in Lending law requires mortgage companies to disclose the APR when they advertise a rate. The APR is usually found next to the mortgage rate in newspaper ads.

Fall Gardening 101

August 31, 2012 1:38 pm

Can you really start a garden in fall? It’s not too late to begin planting certain lettuces, cabbages and cauliflower if you choose the right variety.

A column on late summer gardening at extremehowto.com also advises that you can also plant fast-growing varieties of carrots, peas and beets. And many leaf vegetables and salad crops are hardy enough to last well into autumn, including kale, Swill chard, lettuce and arugula.

Another source for you folks in the south eastern part of the country is Louisiana State University AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Tom Koske, who assures that many varieties can be planted at this time of year.

It is also good times to plant seeds for broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage, collards, mustard, turnips, squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, lima beans and southern peas, bulbs for green shallots and Irish potatoes. Also, in late August and early September, transplant broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.

Insects are a worse problem, Dr. Koske says. This late in the season, gardeners often find several generations of insect pests, each one larger than the previous.

Fall gardeners must be more observant and prepared to battle insect pests. The good news is that fall is generally dry, and diseases could be less of a problem unless they are insect spread.

Other fall crops will need to be planted during the second part of the fall gardening season, which begins in September-early October. Seeding for these include carrots, endive, lettuce, onion, parsley, English peas, bulbing shallots and radish.

And you can plant garlic as late as October in the southern regions that hold on to warmer weather, or generally stave off frost well into December.

3 Pitfalls to Avoid When Paying Your Kitchen & Bath Contractor

August 31, 2012 1:38 pm

With the stabilizing of the real estate market, more homeowners are spending money on remodeling projects. If they are not careful, homeowners can end up paying more than they ever expected. Duane Wilson, owner of Cornerstone Design & Remodel--a San Diego-based Kitchen & Bath Contractor--provides valuable tips on how to avoid 3 of the most common pitfalls.

A homeowner makes a large deposit, then gets no work done
This is one of the most common scams among unscrupulous contractors. They ask for a big deposit or to pay for all of the materials upfront, then the homeowner never hears from them again. To avoid this pitfall, homeowners should not pay for work or materials upfront and should avoid any large deposits.
In California, it is against the law for contractors to ask for more than 10 percent or $1000 (whichever is less) for a down payment. They cannot legally ask for upfront payment for materials or work. The one exception is if the contractor is ordering customer-requested custom materials. In that case, they can ask for payment upfront.

Suppliers or subcontractors come after the homeowner for payment

Homeowners are responsible for suppliers and subcontractors who do not get paid on their job. They can even put a lien against the home where they did the work. To avoid this pitfall, there are several strategies a homeowner can use:

Pay the supplier or subcontractor directly
Issue joint checks to the contractor and supplier/subcontractor
Get an unconditional lien release from suppliers/subcontractors

Homeowner is liable for an injury on the job, including lost wages

If the general contractor does not have valid insurance, the homeowner is liable for any injuries on the job. This includes paying lost wages, if someone gets hurt and cannot work for a period of time. To avoid this pitfall, check that the general contractor has valid liability and workman’s comp insurance.
Of course, the easiest way to avoid these and other potential pitfalls is to work with a reputable contractor who has a history of paying suppliers and subcontractors on time. Happy remodeling!

Source: Cornerstone Design & Remodel

Five Shopping Tips for Navigating Labor Day Sales

August 31, 2012 1:38 pm

With Labor Day weekend upon us, retailers are luring consumers with promises of end-of-summer savings and inventory blowouts. The founders of Deal Décor have leveraged their retail expertise, derived from years of experience at Home Depot, Target, Gap and Williams-Sonoma, to arm shoppers with the best practices to get the merchandise they want, at the best possible price.

Read these tips before tackling Labor Day sales:

Carry a smartphone.
There's no better way to judge value than to price-compare an item on the spot while at the store. Retailers with both brick-and-mortar locations as well as an e-commerce site will often display a lower price on their online store. Share your research with the salesperson, and get a better price instantly.

Check for fine print on “Price Guarantees.”
Many retailers claim that they will price-match an item, but when pressed, they will often find a loophole to wiggle out of it. For example, a consumer may buy a sofa from a store, and later find it online at a lower price. When he or she goes back to the store, the retailer may argue that the competitor’s product is named differently and therefore classified as a different product. Consumers should clarify the limitations on price comparisons before buying under the terms of a price-match guarantee.

Closeouts are long-term commitments.
At the end of a season, as is the case with Labor Day, stores are trying to closeout certain items to make room for inventory appropriate for the next season. Consumers may believe they’ve discovered a great deal, but they don't realize that what they are buying isn't returnable. Before buying, inspect the product. Deal Décor recommends opening the box before walking out of the store.

Broadcast your voice through social media.

Use your social network and influence to demand accountability from retailers. Comment on the retailer’s Facebook page when you have a poor experience or feel that they have misrepresented something. Some retailers go out of their way to make amends for mistakes.

Almost everything is negotiable.
Most consumers don’t hesitate to negotiate for a car. This is also an option for furniture, mattresses and many other products. Do not hesitate to ask for a discount, even on sale or clearance items. You won’t get it if you don’t ask!

Source: http://www.dealdecor.com.

Word of the Day

August 31, 2012 1:38 pm

Right of first refusal. A person’s right to have the first opportunity to either lease or purchase real property.