Gunning Daily News

Question of the Day

June 22, 2012 5:04 pm

Q: Do Builders Provide Financing?
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.

Mud Tubes, Swarms, Piles—Oh My! Top Termite Warning Signs

June 22, 2012 5:04 pm

(ARA)—Termites live to eat. Their hunger causes $5 billion worth of damage each year in the U.S., damage most homeowner's insurance doesn't cover. In fact, a colony can devour a foot of 2-by-4 wood in only six months. And since termites are masters at going undetected, they can destroy entire support beams before you discover their presence. That's why it's so important to know what to look for.

The warning signs of termites

Most termite species like to stay underground and within walls, where it's dark and damp. Here are some signs to look for:

Mud tubes - The easiest sign to detect. These pencil-width paths lead from a nest directly into your home and make it easy for termites to avoid sunlight. Check the surrounding land, any crawl spaces and your basement.

Swarms - Reproductive termites grow wings and fly during spring and fall. Check for this type of termite and the wings they shed.

Piles - Drywood termites leave sawdust-like piles around windowsills and cracks in woodwork or beams. You might also see what looks like collections of dirt at the base of walls and in corners.

Weakened wood - Long, thin cracks and sagging can be signs that wood has been hollowed out by termites. (Holes in wood are not commonly caused by termites, and may be a sign of beetles or carpenter ants.)

What a termite control professional can do for you

Termite professionals have years of experience and expertise when it comes to using the right treatment method for your unique situation. Different techniques are required based on the location of termite activity, the type of foundation you have and even the number of porches and patios. And just because the obvious signs of an infestation aren't there, such as mud tunnels or splitting wood, it doesn't mean that termites aren't. There are a number of professional termite control products on the market today, including DuPont Altriset. It works by paralyzing the mouths of termites within hours of exposure, stopping further damage immediately.

Your risk and how to reduce it

Risk level varies, largely depending on where you live. However, there are common measures that will make your home less appetizing to termites.

Termites like moisture - Eliminate water in gutters and puddles or any other areas where water might gather on or near your home. Repair any plumbing or drainage problems. Laying down plastic barriers in crawl spaces, basements and attics will help keep them dry.

Don't provide termites with extra food - Remove lumber or freestanding wood from the base of your home. Don't plant trees too close and clip away any vegetation, such as shrubs, that might be touching the foundation or walls.

Damp spots and cracks are an open invitation - Check outdoor faucets and gutters for leaks and ventilate humid crawl spaces. Repair cracks and holes in the foundation with caulk, closing off termite entry.

Don't take any chances - Have your home inspected each year by a professional. It doesn't take long and can mean early detection - saving you time and money.

Plant-Based Perspective: Super Snacking

June 22, 2012 5:04 pm

According to a recent study on snacking trends, conducted by Symphony IRI Group, more than half of consumers said that when it comes to snacking, they opt for taste over health! This is scary news, as it can lead to overconsumption of processed foods high in salt and fat, and devoid of nutritional value. That’s no way to fuel your body.

However, there are signs of positivity peaking through here—the study also notes that 60 percent of consumers also say that they are trying to eat foods that help maintain or improve their health.
When snacking, I try and go for foods that have either a healthy fat/protein combo, or fruits and veggies high in nutrients, low in calories and full of water—important with the recent scorching temperatures!

One of my favorite go-to snacks are veggies dipped in hummus—which is chock full of protein and heart-healthy fats from tahini and olive oil. I also love unsalted nuts mixed with dried fruit, an apple with peanut butter or low maintenance fruit (read, no peeling! Just washing) like grapes or strawberries—which are just coming into season, folks!

Snacks high in protein and healthy fat are good for your heart, but your brain, too! Protect that noggin’, people! It’s the only one you’ve got!

Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia's Associate Editor, animal and plant lover and certified holistic health counselor.

Legal Matters: Purchasing a Timeshare

June 22, 2012 5:04 pm

Numerous factors should be taken into account prior to purchasing a timeshare. A review of the background of the seller, developer, and management company, along with a review of the current maintenance budget, will assist the prospective seller in making an informed decision. Local real estate agents, Better Business Bureaus, and consumer protection offices also are good sources of information. While many reputable builders do exist, purchasing an undeveloped property carries additional risks. One means of protection is to hold money in an escrow account in case the developer defaults. The commitment from the seller that the facilities will be finished as promised should be written into the purchase contract with a date certain.

Practical Factors

Timeshares provide the convenience of prearranged vacation facilities, but keep in mind that future circumstances may alter future planning ability. Timeshare plans typically do not include recession provisions for poor health or job loss. Vacationing tastes and favored activities may also change over time. These factors should be considered in evaluating a purchase.

Investment Potential
Timeshare resales usually are difficult and often sold at a loss to the seller. Therefore, timeshares are typically not considered an investment as a second or vacation home might be. There are many investment options in the property area, but investment should not be a major factor when purchasing a timeshare. Renting is also difficult and many time-share owners pay advance fees to rental agencies, which may not be able to find any renters for a given time frame.

Total Costs
Total costs include mortgage payments and expenses, as well as travel costs, annual maintenance fees and taxes, closing costs, broker commissions, and finance charges. Annual timeshare maintenance fees can be high depending on the amenities of the resort. The larger and more upscale the resort, the higher the fees. These fees cover all of the costs of operation but are typically several hundred dollars a year. These fees can and do rise over time. All of these expenses should be incorporated when determining the overall cost of purchasing a timeshare.

Document Review
Purchase documents for any type of real estate transaction are binding legal contracts and should be reviewed by an attorney. The contract may provide for -- and some states require -- a set "cooling-off" period during which the timeshare purchaser may cancel the contract and obtain a refund. The contract may include a non-disturbance clause and/or a non-performance clause. A non-disturbance provision ensures continued use of the unit in the event of default and subsequent third party claims against the developer or management firm. A non-performance protection clause allows the purchaser to retain ownership rights, even if a third party is required to buy out the contract. All promises made by the salesperson should be written into the contract. If not, such provisions will almost certainly be unenforceable in a court of law.

Foreign Properties

Timeshares and vacation club memberships in foreign countries are subject to the law of the jurisdiction in which the timeshare is located. A contract outside the United States for a timeshare located in another country will not be protected under U. S. (federal) or state contract property laws.

Source: Findlaw.com

Summer’s Hottest Window Trends

June 22, 2012 5:04 pm

(ARA) - Windows do a lot more than just let the light in and keep the weather out. They're both key elements in your home's overall design and in the unique look of each individual room. If you're redecorating for warm weather, updating your window treatments is a great, cost-effective way to completely change the look of a space.

"People often switch their window treatments when the seasons change, but may only think of replacing heavy winter drapes with some frothy sheers," says Lauren Foster, a home design consultant with Blinds.com. "Today's versatile window shades offer ample opportunities to create a truly unique, seasonally appropriate look quickly and easily."

When warm weather arrives, it's time to open windows and let the sun shine in. Leaving windows curtain-free, and decorating with window shades instead, allows you to welcome the season into the room and show off the window's intrinsic beauty. Foster points to the window shade treatment trends that will be hot this spring and summer:

Prints and patterns - Long gone are the days when window shades were drab solid white or cream. Today, you can find a plethora of colors, patterns and even textures. Websites like Blinds.com stock a huge inventory of options, from Roman shades in passionate purple and energy-efficient cellular shades in celery green, to roller shades in sprightly floral patterns. Brands like Laura Ashley, Bali and Graber literally offer dozens of color, pattern and style combinations, making it possible to find a window shade to complement virtually any design theme.

Bringing the outdoors in - Wood blinds have been a design staple for decades, and with good reason: they're durable, beautiful and practical. This year, wood blinds play to the trend of bringing the outdoors in. Woven roller shades that feature bamboo, sisal, grass, jute and straw are versatile enough to create both rustic and sophisticated effects in any room.

Exterior shades - Sometimes, the inside of windows isn't the only spot where you could use some shade. Exterior shades will be "in" this season, as homeowners seek to maximize the appeal and design impact of their outdoor living spaces. Exterior shades not only provide much-needed protection from the sun for patios and porches, they can help underscore an outdoor space's status as an important element of your home's overall design.

Cordless - Cordless shades have been available for a while, but their popularity is growing among homeowners and interior designers for a number of reasons. Cord-free blinds and shades create a clean, uncluttered look, allowing the beauty of the shade to shine without visual distraction. The cord-free adjustment mechanism holds blinds and shades securely in position, eliminating the need to constantly adjust them, and making it easier to raise them evenly. Finally, eliminating cords improves safety for children and pets, making cordless shades and blinds a must for children's bedrooms and play areas.

"The arrival of warm weather is a great time to redecorate, and few updates make it easier to freshen a room than changing shades and blinds," Foster says.

Word of the Day

June 22, 2012 5:04 pm

Lessee. Someone who rents under a lease; the tenant.

Q: Should I Hire a Home Inspector for a New Home?

June 22, 2012 5:04 pm

A: You would think not since it is new and the developer has to adhere to local construction guidelines. However, err on the side of caution – always hire an inspector, whether the home is old or new.

You can ask the builder to provide copies of any inspection reports on the property, architectural plans, surveys and pertinent construction documents for your inspector to review.
The inspector should either be a professional home inspector, an engineer, an architect or a contractor. When hiring a professional inspector, look for one who belongs to a home inspection trade organization, such as the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).

This group has developed formal inspection guidelines and a professional code of ethics for its members. Membership in ASHI is not automatic. Proven field experience and technical knowledge about structures and their various systems and appliances are required.

As for rates, they vary greatly. Many inspectors charge about $400, but costs increase based on the scope of the inspection.

Take Charge of Your Financial Health

June 21, 2012 5:18 pm

Stress over financial matters can affect both your health and your family's well-being. To ease stress, take charge of your financial health with the following tips.

Gather your documents and store them safely. Over time, you accumulate all sorts of important papers from medical histories to bills and insurance information. It's a good idea to keep all these important documents in a safe place, such as a safety deposit box or fire-proof strong box. Here are some things you'll want to store safely and be able to retrieve quickly:

• Insurance plan information - life, health, dental, home owners, renters, auto, boat, etc.
• Mortgage information
• Tax information - returns, purchase and charitable contribution receipts
• Investment paperwork - savings, stocks, bonds and retirement records
• Will and trust or health care directives

Keep ATM receipts for a month, and paycheck stubs, bills, credit card, bank and investment statements for a year. Hold on to tax returns, medical bills, mortgage and home records longer -- up to three to seven years.

Set a monthly budget. It's important to keep track of your finances and what you're spending money on in order to determine where you can cut back. Keep an accurate account of your finances for several months, then start trimming expenses where possible. There are excellent software packages available to help you keep your income and expenses balanced.

Set a savings budget and stick to it. Whether it's for your children's college tuition, a home down payment or for retirement, it's important to make your savings goal part of your monthly budget. Set aside a regular amount -- starting as early as you can.

Keep an emergency fund. Financial emergencies can happen when you least expect them. Instead of adding to your debt through a credit card withdrawal or bank loan, keep an amount equal to six months expenses on hand. Get started by arranging a bi-weekly or monthly automatic transfer into your savings account.

Stay on top of your credit score. Good credit opens many doors -- auto and home ownership, backup credit lines, even co-signing your child's student loans can be influenced by your credit score. In addition, spotting fraudulent accounts -- such as credit cards opened via identity theft -- is much easier when you're managing your credit score. Free credit report services with email alerts are available online.

Look to life insurance to help protect your family. If the unexpected happens, you want to know your family is safe, and that includes your finances. Talk to a life insurance professional for help in selecting the coverage and life insurance provider.

Source: www.foresters.com.

Sweat Safe in Summer Heat

June 21, 2012 5:18 pm

With a heat wave spanning most of the country this week, those of us who love outdoor exercise should take precaution. The following tips can help you exercise safely when temperatures soar.

Stay safe when working out in the heat by taking the following precautions:

1. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids. The rule of thumb is usually “8x8” – eight 8-oz. glasses per day, but consider upping your intake during a heat wave to avoid dehydration.

2. Wear appropriate clothing. Choose lightweight, loose-fitting and light-colored clothing for outdoor exercise activities.

3. Schedule outdoor activities carefully. Plan your daily outdoor exercise routine for the early morning or late evening when the temperature is considerably cooler.

4. Step it down a notch. Consider cutting your routine time, distance or exertion in half to alleviate strain.

5. Take precautions. Use the buddy system, let somebody know your exercise path and schedule, or bring your phone along.

6. Go indoors. If possible, escape the heat and utilize indoor, air-conditioned workout facilities.
There are many exercise opportunities for outdoor spaces during the summer months. Just remember to listen to your body and take the appropriate safety precautions.

Source: http://www.healthquest-fitness.com

Tips for Enjoying Your Backyard This Summer

June 21, 2012 5:18 pm

Summer is the season for sun and fun. The following tips, from pool maintenance to safety suggestions, can really help you enhance your outdoor enjoyment this year.

1 – Safety first. Follow a few commonsense rules in the backyard and around the pool: keep each child within arm’s length at all times; designate an adult as water watcher; ensure that the pool’s fence is always locked, and install both gate and pool alarms to alert you to unsupervised pool use.

2 – Use plants to dress up the landscape. A bit of backyard greenery can be both pretty and functional. Use shrubs for form, foliage-heavy plants for color, and sturdy perennials for reliability. Plenty of pretty perennials, such as coneflowers and black-eyed Susans, require little tending and offer cheery blooms throughout the growing season.

3 – Add years to backyard furnishings. If mildew spots appear on outside chairs and tables, wash the fabric according to manufacturer directions and dry in the sun. Then mix together equal parts lemon juice and salt; spread on the stain. Dry in the sun again and rinse thoroughly.

4 – Organize backyard toys and tools. Two simple storage rules for keeping backyard clutter to a minimum: air out wet things by storing them in big mesh bags or open-weave crates; toss all the little bits – sunscreen, dive toys – into a clear plastic shoe organizer hung on the fence where everyone can easily find them.

5 – Stay healthy with a water workout. According to the Centers for Disease Control, just 21 minutes a day of exercising in a pool can decrease your risk of chronic disease. If swimming laps doesn’t excite you, there are other great ways to get moving. Try kickboxing using water as the resistance and enjoy the benefits of strength, endurance and balance. Depending on intensity, a typical water exercise session of 40 to 50 minutes can burn up to 600 calories.

6 – Maintain a perfect pool. A pool filled with cloudy water equals no fun. Fortunately there’s a pool-care strategy – Circulation, Filtration, Cleaning, Testing and Chemistry – that equals a stellar pool season. Maintaining a pool, its equipment and beautiful water requires proper water treatment.

7 – Soak in a sensational spa. A backyard spa can offer the same soothing effects as a professional spa with a few easy, affordable ideas. Place flameless LED candles around the edge of the spa. Take tunes into the spa with a floating speaker that connects wirelessly to an MP3 player. Add a soothing scent to the water with single-use aromatherapy packs.

8 – Make a smaller footprint on the Earth. In order to be more environmentally friendly, make sure to always keep pool chemicals properly balanced. Overworked filters and motors waste energy and hike utility bills.

9 – Help pets swim safely. It may seem like fun to let the dog paddle around, but before you let a pooch jump in, make sure he can get out without damaging the pool or hurting himself. Also check with the vet - swimming in a pool should be appropriate for the breed. Finally, make additional time to monitor the pool’s water. A typical dog can be the equivalent of about 50 swimmers in the pool, meaning extra vigilance is needed to maintain the chemical balance.

Source: http://www.bioguard.com.