Gunning Daily News
April 26, 2012 5:56 pm
Q: What determines how adjustable-rate loans change?
A: They go up and down with interest rates, based on several esoteric money market indices that cause the cost of funds for lenders to vary. The most popular indices include Treasury Securities (T-Bills), Cost of Funds (COFI), Certificates of Deposit (CDs), and the Libor, which is the London inter-bank offering rate.
However, the interest rate and payment adjustments do not always coincide. There is usually a lag between the two.
A number of consumer protections have been built into these loans to keep them from fluctuating too wildly. But consumers will have to be cautious when reviewing advertising and other claims about ARMs made by lenders.
April 25, 2012 5:20 pm
The garden is a place of fun and relaxation during the spring and summer, but is also highly vulnerable to damage and theft. By taking a little time to make sure things are secure, you can save your home from thieves who may use your garden or yard to enter your house.
A shed is vital for storing expensive garden equipment, but could also attract opportunistic thieves. Check that the structure of your shed is sturdy, with two padlocked bolts fitted to the door. All windows should be also fitted with locks, while placing mesh across the inside will shield your tools and equipment from view. Larger items such as mowers and power tools can be further protected by a wall or floor anchor, but do remember that these will only be as secure as the surface they are attached to. Specialized shed alarms use either a door contact system or an infrared motion detector to warn you against intruders. If these are not an option, your home burglar alarm system could be extended to cover your yard and shed.
The rear boundary of your yard is the most vulnerable part of your entire house; 22 percent of burglars enter through the back door, according to uniform crime reporting program crime clock. Tall fences may deter them, and sharp plants are a natural alternative to unsightly barbed wire and can add extra height to your boundaries. A thorny trellis of roses, pyracantha or chaenomeles should help to stop a potential burglar in his tracks.
Garden lights are one of the best tools for night time security. Halogen floodlights can provide an attractive and subtle glow to your garden, or a passive infrared sensor can be used to trip brighter lights when motion is detected. Take care to angle the lights away from the road and neighboring houses, focusing on the entry points to your home. Sensors can also be used to switch garden lights on with sunset and off with sunrise.
Gravel can be used as a cheap warning sign of approaching thieves, while also making it difficult for them to make a quiet exit. Gravel is now available in a wide range of colors and sizes, with many types suitable for mixing with slabs and bricks.
April 25, 2012 5:20 pm
Springtime has arrived and it’s time to dust off the “to do” list. But how does a homeowner decide which projects should take priority? According to Mark Clement, host of MyFixItUpLife home improvement radio show, start by selecting projects that are the most important for enhancing the functionality of the home.
“National Home Improvement Month in May is the ideal time to shine the spotlight on annual home projects that should never be overlooked,” says Clement, a professional contractor in Pennsylvania. “Sure it’s great to work outside in the garden this time of year, but that task should take second place behind evaluating and fixing major components of the house. A home’s curb appeal is important, but working on the structural aspects of the home to safeguard a family should always take priority.”
Clement, who is currently renovating his own 100-year-old home, understands that all products in and on the house will eventually need to be replaced. “We just replaced the original wood door on our home with a fiberglass door,” says Clement. “That old door should have been removed a decade ago because it lost its functionality and was an energy drain on our home. The new Therma-Tru fiberglass door is energy-efficient, stylish and helps secure our home.”
According to Clement, there is a “must do” list of five items that homeowners should review every year during National Home Improvement Month. This list includes:
Check the roof. Use a ladder or binoculars from across the street to look for problem areas, such as missing or broken shingles, along with roofing tiles that may be “flapping” in the wind. These are all indications that a new roof may be in your future. If that’s the case, research the newer products on the market, such as polymer shake and slate roofing tiles. These impact-resistant tiles are man-made in a wide variety of colors. Some roofing tiles are fire- and hail-resistant.
Clean and assess the home’s siding. Pressure-washing works well for many homes to remove dirt and algae that can grow on siding, but remember never to pressure-wash windows or their screens. The extreme high pressure could crack or destroy the caulking around the units. While cleaning the siding, make sure to check for changes in the exterior from the previous year and be alert to buckling, warping or insect damage that may need to be fixed.
Evaluate the windows. If you find that windows in the home don’t operate easily, there’s air leaking in or out of the units, or there’s condensation between the glass panes, then it may be time to seriously consider replacement windows.
Vinyl framed windows have the highest growth rate in the country due to their energy-efficiency, aesthetic appeal and durability. Plus, maintenance hassles are so low you’ll forget the horrors of rotting frames, scraping and repainting that come with wood windows.
Check on the gutters. Don’t underestimate the importance of the gutter system on the home. Each year homeowners should check to make sure their gutters are unclogged and remain sloped for proper drainage. Plus, make sure the water running off the roof doesn’t cause damage to the building structure, landscaping or property below the roof.
Spend time with the main entry door. If homeowners can see light around the door from the inside, the door is hard to close or lock, or the door itself is warped, it’s time to consider a new door. Think about the weather conditions that a home’s door faces along with the energy bills. If either run to the extreme, consider replacing an entryway with a high-performance fiberglass door (which can have up to four times more insulation value than wood doors).
For more home improvement tips, visit http://www.myfixituplife.com.
April 25, 2012 5:20 pm
A hot home trend arriving just in time for spring is a green roof system—a roof covered with a layer of lush plants. These green roofs provide sustainable benefits, extend the life of the roof, and improve storm water management.
“A green roof acts like a natural sponge and reduces the volume and velocity of storm water runoff,” says Andy Sudbrock, plant ecologist, Southeast Green Roofs, LLC. “Green roof plants and soil also provide a protective shield for the roof itself. The roof will last much longer.”
Green roof systems also conserve energy by moderating rooftop temperatures, while supporting fragile ecosystems and lending unique beauty, especially if installed in urban spaces. Look for this eco trend popping up on the rooftops of buildings and homes across the country.
April 25, 2012 5:20 pm
(ARA) - With summer on the horizon, families will be heading to backyards across the country for picnics, sports games and to simply soak up the sun. A lush green lawn is the perfect setting for these activities and will be the envy of the neighborhood. How does one achieve that well-manicured, stadium-style lawn?
Many homeowners think a professional-looking lawn requires a stringent water and fertilizer regimen. While both water and fertilizer play their part, neither is the stand-alone key to a perfect lawn. The following five tips offer homeowners simple solutions to achieving a great yard.
Know your region. Grass seed is not one size fits all. Select the right grass seed or sod based on where you live. It's also important to consider how you plan to use your lawn. Do you have children and pets that will be playing on it regularly, or will the purpose be primarily curb appeal? To determine the right grass, talk to your local garden center or contact the turf grass specialist at your state agriculture school.
Only feed as needed. According to Grass Seed USA, a coalition of American grass seed farmers, many homeowners over water their lawns, which does more harm than good. A simple trick to determine whether your lawn needs watering is to stick a screwdriver into the grass. If it enters the dirt easily, your lawn has plenty of water already. If you have trouble getting the screwdriver into the ground, it is time to give the grass a drink. It is also recommended to fertilize your lawn at least once a year. However, putting your lawn on a quarterly schedule will help achieve optimal health.
Break out the ruler. The maintenance crews for professional sports fields are meticulous about the height of their grass because it ensures a uniform look. Grass Seed USA recommends maintaining a lawn height of about 2 inches. It's important not to cut more than one-third of the grass height at a time to minimize damage, so aim to mow when your lawn is about 3 inches in height.
Arm yourself with the right tools. The proper equipment can take a lawn from looking well-manicured to professional. When selecting a mower, don't jump straight to those that pick up the grass clippings. Allowing the clippings to decompose in the lawn will add to the overall health of your yard, and when you mow often, the shavings are small and less noticeable. Adding an edger to your arsenal is another great trick for cleaning up the lines and defining your yard.
Replenish as necessary. Grass is a natural carpet that cleans and repairs itself. It's equipped to withstand a number of elements yet is impacted over time. If you've noticed that your lawn is sparse in areas, or not as full and lush as you'd like, it may be time to add more seed. The best time to plant new seed is in the fall when the temperatures are more temperate. But reseeding may be done throughout the year. The important thing is to avoid drastic temperature changes and water regularly, yet moderately, to give the seed time to absorb moisture and build roots.
Growing and maintaining a lush green lawn doesn't have to come with a backache. Basic planning and these five quick tips will have you well on your way to a backyard prime for the summer season.
April 25, 2012 5:20 pm
Discount points. Added loan fee charged by a lender to make the yield on a lower-than-market-value loan competitive with higher-interest loans.
April 25, 2012 5:20 pm
Q: When do foreclosure proceedings begin?
A: Usually after the borrower has missed three consecutive mortgage payments. The lender will record a notice of default against the property. And unless the debt is satisfied, the lender will foreclose on the mortgage and proceed to set up a trustee sale, where the property is sold to the highest bidder.
April 24, 2012 5:32 pm
I know I have 'tapped' the knowledge of the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) in the past in order to bring you the best information about tree safety and care. However, I was recently contacted to help the organization promote a critical safety message for home and property owners requiring tree and brush clean-ups this spring.
Tchukki Andersen, a Board Certified Master Arborist, Certified Tree Safety Professional and staff arborist for the Tree Care Industry Association wants property owners to appreciate that tree work, while appearing fairly straightforward and simple, is actually extremely complicated and technical.
Andersen says there is so much to understand about removing live or hanging tree branches, and it is not at all like cutting up firewood on the ground.
He always hopes anyone requiring tree work will consult with a qualified tree professional who is trained to look for and take special precautions against trees or branches with decay, cracks or unbalanced weight; working near overhead electrical wires; preventing falls; and removing portions of or entire trees without causing property damage, or bodily harm to themselves or others.
Andersen has seen too many cases where inexperienced and well-meaning do-it-yourselfers have been hurt trying to cut their own trees, and makes these recommendations to help keep you safe:
• Find a sturdy ladder that will reach at least 5 feet beyond the branch you lean it on. When a large branch is cut from a tree, the loss of the weight will cause the rest of the limb to suddenly lurch up. According to Andersen, many unaware homeowners have been severely injured, some fatally, when the ladder they are standing on falls out from under the branch they are cutting. The biggest danger is taking too big or too unwieldy of a piece at one time.
• Be sure tools are properly sharpened or maintained. Andersen says a dull chain forces you to use too much pressure, causing you to lose control. This can lead to numerous problems, many of them potentially resulting in a hospital visit.
• Be aware of where you are cutting. Andersen knows trees are mechanically complex organisms that need to be cut in a certain way to remove pieces safely. Cutting off a large section of limb to save time will usually cause the branch to fall before the cut is finished. The cut end will often tear into the branch all the way back to the trunk. This action can cause damage to the tree (and to the person cutting) as it swings out of control.
For more information, locate a local TCIA Member by calling 1-800-733-2622 or by doing a ZIP Code search on treecaretips.org.
April 24, 2012 5:32 pm
Clay brick is currently percolating in the hot home trend circuit. In hopes of meeting high green building criteria, architects around the country are incorporating genuine clay brick throughout the house for sustainable design that also helps save on energy costs.
Consumers are learning that brick exteriors boost sustainability and performance over their main competitors, like vinyl. Plus, clay brick is free of volatile organic compounds. For an added green bonus, clay brick often uses recycled content, and if the brick is locally sourced, it reduces the use of fossil fuels for a double win.
How else can clay brick help your home? Brick homes use 1 to 2 percent less energy than vinyl-clad homes, and the natural siding helps to regulate interior temperatures by soaking up the sun in the winter to keep heat inside. Offering a 100-year lifespan, as compared to vinyl siding with a 25- to 50-year life span, genuine clay brick exteriors also offer low- to no maintenance and moisture resistance—not to mention natural beauty.
Sources: www.gobrick.com, www.greenbrick.com
April 24, 2012 5:32 pm
The summer months are fast approaching, and if you are one of the over 8.5 million swimming pool owners in the U.S., you are looking forward to making many family memories in the backyard. Once overnight temperatures remain above freezing and daytime temperatures remain above 60 degrees, it is time to start opening the pool.
Follow these simple steps to open your pool with ease:
1. Remove pool cover and drain any accumulated water away from pool.
2. Fill your pool to the middle of the skimmer opening to allow for proper circulation.
3. Check your pump, skimmer basket and filter.
4. Test sanitizer and pH routinely.
5. Routine maintenance is the best way to keep your pool sparkling.
If you are still unsure, consider seeking a local pool retailer, who can offer products and systems that make caring for the pool a snap.