Gunning Daily News
July 12, 2012 5:06 pm
(ARA) - Does your home feel tired, worn or outdated? Do you walk into rooms and wish they looked more like the pictures in magazines? You're not alone. Many homeowners who have put off home improvement projects for some time have decided to turn their dreaming into reality - especially in the kitchen and bathroom.
Bathroom remodels have moved into the top spot as the most common remodeling project, according to Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value Report 2011-2012. What are most homeowners looking to accomplish first? According to a National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) survey, adding a linen closet, marble or granite double vanity and a shower with multiple showerheads top the list.
"It makes sense," adds Jack Suvak, senior director of market research and insights at Moen. "The bathroom is often the only room for 'you time,' so homeowners want to create a luxurious and relaxing retreat."
To add a bit of beauty and bliss in the bath, start with the countertop. Updating the current material with a solid-surface option will make an instant visual update.
Next, think storage. While a linen closet tops the "wanted" list, bath accessories are an easier and more affordable way to add additional storage and organization. The Boardwalk collection features towel bars, towel rings, robe hooks and paper holders in coordinating designs to complete the look of your new bath.
Finally, update your shower to create a relaxing and spa-like environment. Depending on your budget, you can create the ultimate retreat with a vertical spa… or simply upgrade your current showerhead. Whether you prefer a rainshower, handheld shower, wall-mount showerhead - or even a combination - there's an option in any price range.
Form and function in the kitchen
Once you've updated your bath; the kitchen, not far behind in appeal, is a rewarding home upgrade. Similar to the bath, upgrading countertops - which consume a large area of the kitchen - is an ideal place to start. While laminate is the most cost-effective choice, options such as solid-surface, marble or granite, offer an upscale look, added durability and functionality. In addition, these upgrades allow you to enhance your sink with an under-mount version for a seamless look.
Finish off the counter area with a high-end kitchen faucet.
Finally, flooring, as one of the largest surface areas in the kitchen, is an ideal upgrade that can set the tone of the room from the bottom up. And, today's flooring manufacturers offer resilient flooring in a variety of materials, colors and patterns to meet your functionality, style and price needs.
So, no matter what your vision, follow the trend like other homeowners, and soon you can turn your dreams of a new kitchen or bath into a reality.
July 12, 2012 5:06 pm
Maturity date. Date on which principal and interest on a mortgage or other loan must be paid in full.
July 12, 2012 5:06 pm
A: Yes. There is no standard commission. They are not set by law and vary depending on service, customer needs, and company policy. In general, agents charge between 4 percent and 8 percent for full service. Some agents prefer not to offer sellers’ the option of paying a fee for an individual service.
If you insist on overpricing your home, an agent may well insist on a higher commission to cover the added marketing expenses and time that are needed to sell it.
Think of a commission as a point you must negotiate and evaluate.
July 11, 2012 5:26 pm
Every family needs storage space, but if finding something in your garage is like making your way through an obstacle course, it’s time to make better use of space.
“There are many easy and inexpensive storage aids available out there that can make the most of garage space,” says big-box store lumber manager Randy Haig. “With a weekend and less than $100, you may be able to take garage space to the max.”
Haig offers ideas for three simple fixes:
• Look overhead – If there are exposed rafters, laying some planks across them will give you additional space for seldom-used items such as holiday décor, seasonal sports gear or extra luggage. You can also build hanging storage bins to hang from the ceiling joists if there is space beyond the garage door tracks.
• Deck the walls – They are prime real estate for shelving, hooks and hanging space. Simple brackets and sturdy shelves can do wonders for getting paint, garden tools, cleaning equipment and other things off the floor. Buy heavy duty brackets and shelves that can withstand some weight. Pegboard is versatile for hanging small tools and yard gear, like shovels, rakes, and drills, from sturdy hooks. A step up from pegboard is slat walls, like the ones used in many hardware stores. Cabinets, bins and shelving just pop right in and can be re-arranged as necessary.
• Clear the floors – Building or buying shelving units that hug the wall is one way to save space. Upright bins and storage tubes can holds yard equipment, sports gear and gift wrap supplies. Clear, stackable storage bins, clearly marked, provide see-through access to gloves, tapes, and other gadgets – and a rolling storage cart you build or buy can be stashed next to built-in or added shelving and moved around for convenience.
July 11, 2012 5:26 pm
There's nothing more traditional about a summertime party or even a small family gathering, than crafty and patriotic decorations and food. So on a recent gander at midwestliving.com, I saw these cool and patriotic summer ideas:
Put a patriotic spark in the middle of your serving table by combining weathered croquet balls and baseballs. You can place colorful balls in a bowl for a simple look, or nestle them in wheatgrass for an effective centerpiece.
First, cover the bottom of a bucket, basket or woodbin with a plastic sheet and fill with crumpled newspaper as a base. Then add a layer of fresh wheatgrass with roots attached - trays of wheatgrass are available at grocery or pet stores.
Cut to fit your container; the grass should stay fresh five or six days. Arrange baseballs and red, white and blue croquet balls on top. To finish, stick several small U.S. flags into the grass.
How about a tray of Firecracker-Red Cupcakes with Coconut Filling? These red, white and blue dessert stars are moist and gooey, and extra easy to prepare according to midwestliving.com
Or try Red, White and Blue Parfaits. Pour asyrup of honey, sugar and crystallized ginger over watermelon, blueberries and strawberries, then top with a swirl of sweetened whipped cream and a fruit star for a patriotic finish.
July 11, 2012 5:26 pm
As college students prepare to return to cozy, shared dorms and not-so-spacious apartments in August, Rent.com has some cohabitating tips to minimize stress for renting roomies that just might be the key to success. Rent.com surveyed renters about their worst roommate ever to better understand what renters look for in a co-tenant and discover what pet peeves drive them to the edge. The must-do for roomies who can’t seem to get along—set aside their differences and clean!
Clean Up Your Act
According to the survey, about half of respondents (45 percent) admitted to having particular pet peeves with a current or past roommate, and the largest group (20 percent) said the problem resides in cleanliness, or lack thereof. While a messy roommate was the most popular grievance, other pet peeves include a roommate who doesn’t pay bills on time (10 percent) and a roomie who uses things without asking (nine percent). Following closely behind in roommate complaints, no one enjoys a roomie who constantly has visitors—especially a live-in significant other—which six percent of respondents selected as their primary peeve.
Make Up Before You Break Up
Finding the right roommate is almost like realizing you are in a perfect relationship. Everything just fits. However, some relationships aren’t meant to be and suffer from lack of communication, pent up frustration or selfishness; and, likewise, many roommate relationships fall victim to the same cohabitating vices. Yet, there is hope! Here are a few reliable roomie tips that could hold the key to making up before you break up.
• Make it Known. Don’t skirt the issue when it comes to describing your day-to-day activities. Before you sign a lease, it’s important for your roommate to understand your schedule to avoid conflicts later. If you are an “early to bed, early to rise” kind of person, a roommate who works on mixing his DJ tracks at night may not be your best bet, no matter what kind of parties you could get into.
• Talk It Out. Working to communicate your needs and expectations to one another is crucial for a happy roommate relationship. For example, if your roommate is a student and wants to use the kitchen table to study, decide not to watch TV loudly in the same room during study hours. Likewise, if you’re hosting a small Bachelorette season finale party at your apartment, give your roommate fair warning to make other plans.
• Give a Little. As the adage goes, “Sometimes you have to give a little to get a little.” This saying is spot on when it comes to cohabitating. By speaking with your roommate about both of your priorities and interests, you can find the greatest common ground and meet somewhere in the middle. Giving a little on both sides shows mutual respect, which makes for an ideal living situation.
• R-E-S-P-E-C-T. One secret to roommate success is creating boundaries between public and private space. Bedrooms should generally remain off limits to the other roommate, and personal items should not be borrowed without permission. Make sure to talk with your roommate about what is meaningful to you and set clear boundaries together.
• Clean Up Your Act. As indicated by Rent.com’s survey, keeping clean is a must. While some people are naturally tidier than others, it’s important to divide cleaning responsibilities so the burden is shared. Be sure to discuss expectations for cleaning before you sign on the dotted line. Talk about who will clean what and how often, and what’s acceptable in terms of daily and weekly up-keep.
• Bills, Bills, Bills. Make sure you decide on when and how bills and rent will be paid for before making the roommate bond permanent. For instance, if one person is in charge of utilities, make the other in charge of submitting the rent check each month. Designating bills as a shared responsibility helps foster timeliness when it comes to deadlines.
July 11, 2012 5:26 pm
Master plan. Long-range, comprehensive guide for the physical growth or development of a community.
July 11, 2012 5:26 pm
A: This is a tough decision, but the answer will depend on your personal situation, as well as the condition of the local housing market.
If you put your home on the market first, you may have to scramble to find another one before settlement, which could cause you to buy a home that does not meet all your requirements. If you cannot find another home, you may need to move twice, temporarily staying with relatives or in a hotel.
On the other hand, if you make an offer to buy first, you may be tempted to sell your existing home quickly, even at a lower price.
The advantage of buying first is you can shop carefully for the right home and feel comfortable with your decision before putting the existing home on the market.
On the flip side, the advantage of selling your existing home first is that it maximizes your negotiating position because you are under no pressure to sell quickly. It also eliminates the need to carry two mortgages at once.
Talk with your agent for advice. Discuss the pros and of each and whether certain contingencies written into the contract can ease some of the pressures.
July 10, 2012 5:44 pm
From the box-office smash “The Avengers” to the summer hit “Madagascar 3” reigniting the 3-D craze, movie lovers are more enthralled than ever with film magic, and many fantasize about becoming a part of it. Their annual Westward migration from every film and acting and writing school in the country is as active as ever as they seek their chance to wield the Hollywood wand.
In such a competitive and crowded circus tent, how can a person ensure they catch that elusive trapeze?
Here are five tips from film director Guy Magar, picked up over 30 years making movies and TV shows and teaching through Action/Cut Filmmaking Seminars, the educational course he founded. Magar is also the author of the new Hollywood memoir and love story, Kiss Me Quick Before I Shoot, about his years in Hollywood which is a must-read for all who love movies.
• Find out if you really love it. “The movie business demands passion and dedication; the work is difficult and exhausting, the journey fraught with disappointments and financial stress,” he says. “So you better find out if this is truly something you want and you’re ready to sacrifice whatever it takes.” The best place to do that is at a film school or a university filmmaking program. “This is where I fell in love with the cinema and forged my commitment to the craft,” he says.
• Find out if you’re any good at it. When you discover that less than 5 percent of the 125,000 actors in the Screen Actors Guild ever make a livable wage in any one year, the reality check about how competitive this business is can be quite intimidating, Magar says. So it’s not enough to love it – you have to have an aptitude for the craft if you want a chance at bat. “You better be one of the very best directors or writers or cameramen or actors wherever you’re studying and developing your work, so you can gain the self-confidence to throw your talent in a very crowded ring,” he says.
• Get your showreel ready! No one is going to hire you unless they can see what you can do. For a director, you better have an award-winning “wow” short. If you’re a writer, have some dazzling, unique screenplays. Actors need a great reel with diverse scenes showing range from comedy to drama. Cameraman? You need a reel that sizzles with cinematic visuals. Don’t come to Los Angeles without a reel. It shows who you are, what you can do — and why you’re worth paying to do it.
• Networking! Networking! Networking! “The movie business is first and foremost a people business,” Magar says. “Regardless of your talent, you better be good at schmoozing and an extrovert at heart.” It’s all about who you know, who can introduce you to whom, who likes you, who is willing to help you move forward, he says. If you’re a great networker, you have a better chance at a career than if you’re talented with no social skills. Introverts do not apply!
• Enjoy your journey or the dream will be a nightmare. Don’t put off having a life until you “get there,” he says. The big secret is to enjoy the journey and to have a life in the industry, regardless of the amount of work and accolades that may or may not come your way. You must commit to making a fulfilling life for yourself if you’re to find happiness in Tinseltown. Family, friends and a soulmate are as important and fulfilling as career gains. “They will sustain you in much deeper emotional ways than winning a spot on a softer toilet paper commercial,” he says.
Magar says his career in Hollywood was an exciting, gratifying one. “Between the words ‘action’ and ‘cut’, I get to make my magic … my visual storytelling,” he says. “I fell in love with making movies and have continued loving it for more than 100 production credits in my career.”
“If you share that passion to make film, have a terrific sense of humor to balance the obstacles, and can manage the five tips above, then welcome to Hollywood. Break a leg!”
Film and TV director/writer/producer Guy Magar has worked for more than 30 years in the motion picture industry. He recently published his Hollywood memoir, “Kiss Me Quick Before I Shoot: A Filmmaker’s Journey into the Lights of Hollywood and True Love.”
July 10, 2012 5:44 pm
Was your home damaged by a recent storm? Are you unsure of what steps to take next? Before you start stomping those puddles in your basement, review the following steps to help ease the process of dealing with your damages, and insurance.
Document Damage. The first step should be to carefully document all damage with photographs. These will be necessary to prove the extent of the damage, both to home insurance adjustors and the IRS if the homeowner is eligible for tax deductions as a result of uninsured losses.
Contact Insurance. At the same time, homeowners should contact their homeowners insurance company to make sure they understand what is covered and what is not. For example damage caused to your home by a falling tree is usually covered. However many policies do not cover the removal of a tree that fell into your yard but didn’t damage your home.
Are You Covered? Flood coverage is another area that is often misunderstood. Most standard flood insurance only covers damage caused by rising waters from a river, creek, lake or pond. It doesn’t cover such things as water backups caused by overflowing drain pipes, or when the drain in a basement stairwell gets clogged with debris, causing water to fill the stairwell and come in under the basement door.
“That once happened to me during a big storm,” says AHF President Bruce Hahn. “After I learned that the extensive damage to our finished basement was not covered by our insurance policy, I reconsidered how much I could afford to spend out of my own pocket to repair the damage.” Homeowners shouldn’t commit to expensive repairs until they learn what is covered and what isn’t, and the terms of the coverage of things that are.
Bring in a Professional. Finding a qualified contractor after a major event is another challenge. In the real world of supply and demand, reliable contractors often quickly get booked well into the future, and their rates often go up as well. At the same time, con men and amateurs start coming out of the woodwork. An amateur may be a decent carpenter, but that doesn’t mean he’s a good electrician, plumber, or roofer. The risk to homeowners of being ripped off by a dishonest contractor or receiving shoddy work that might not pass muster with the building inspector increases dramatically.
Homeowners should take the same steps to protect themselves that they would if they were planning a major home remodeling project. Check the contractor’s credentials carefully. Are they licensed and insured for workers compensation, property and personal liability? If in doubt, ask to see their insurance certificate. Do they belong to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, the National Association of Home Builders Remodelers Council, and/or any of the more specific trade associations in the remodeling sector? That's not a guarantee, but it is a sign of commitment to their trade and to professionalism. Ask for recent references on similar jobs (employee and subcontractor turnover is often fairly high, so recent jobs is the indicator of their current capability). Check their record with the Better Business Bureau while you're at it.
Make sure you get a comprehensive bid. It should detail as many of the specifications as possible. Try to get bids from three or more contractors, which is sometimes difficult to do when demand is high. If one of the bids is unusually low, make sure that they have included everything.
If the bids are higher than expected and too much for you to afford, you might be surprised how much money you can save if you’re at least semi-handy and can do some of the work yourself. Things that come up near the end of the job, such as painting, trim carpentry, etc. are good bets since the other parts aren't dependent on their completion. Some finish work can even be done after the home inspector’s final approval of the work. But make sure you're not getting into something you don't have time to do.
One of the most important suggestions is to use a comprehensive written contract. It will greatly reduce the likelihood of disputes with your contractor. Make sure the contract covers the description of the project, timetable, payment schedule, etc., and has general provisions defining the responsibility of the contractor and the subcontractors, defects and correction, change order procedures, warranties, right to termination, and alternative dispute settlement mechanisms (since many of the costs of lawsuits are for legal fees, homeowners and contractors will almost always be better off with mediation, conciliation, and/or binding arbitration clauses should a disagreement arise). Some contractors use their own standard contract forms, but read the provisions carefully before signing them. If you feel some of the provisions in their contract are unreasonable, ask them to make reasonable modifications.
Never hire a contractor by signing a brief proposal or worse yet, on a handshake. You can also hire an attorney to draw up a contract that includes the aforementioned provisions to protect you. Another alternative is to use the American Homeowners Foundation’s standard six page remodeling and repair contract, which is available on the AHF website. It contains these protections and fill in the blank areas for the specifics of your job.
If you take all the right steps, you can make the best of a bad situation. If you don’t, you’ll be asking for headaches and trouble.