Gunning Daily News

Helpful Painting Ideas for First-Time Home Buyers

April 18, 2011 9:43 am

RISMEDIA, April 18, 2011-Prior experience is essential when tackling many home improvement projects, but if you are looking to paint the interior of your home, no experience is necessary. Even first-time painters can get great results when painting their newly purchased house, condo or apartment-and have a lot of fun in the process. Whether personalizing an entire new living space or updating one room at a time, paint is the do-it-yourselfer's best decorating tool.

Like building a wardrobe, selecting a paint palette for your living space is a great form of personal expression. But be aware that the shade of paint you see on a color card-or even in the paint can-may look a lot different when applied to an entire room.

To avoid surprises, follow these handy tips:

-Don't make your final color selection in the store; instead, take color cards home so you can see them in the space that will be painted.

-Evaluate the paint colors in daylight and under artificial light at night. Colors can change quite dramatically in different lighting conditions.

-Remember that colors tend to intensify when applied to a large area. To compensate, it is often wise to choose a lighter value of a color, rather than a darker one.

-When you go to purchase your paint, you will likely be asked which 'gloss level' you'd prefer. Paints come in a variety of sheen or gloss levels ranging from 'high gloss' (the shiniest) to 'flat' (virtually no shine). Those with higher gloss reflect more light, so they can make a room look brighter. On the other hand, higher gloss paints also tend to highlight surface imperfections, so if your walls and other surfaces are not in the best of shape, a flat paint might be the better option.

-Color and sheen aside, the most important decision you'll make in the paint store is the quality of paint you purchase. Top quality paints provide superior adhesion, offer better stain resistance and resist yellowing. They also are tougher and more durable than ordinary paints, so they'll keep a paint job looking great for a longer period of time. Bottom line: Don't skimp on quality.

-Before you leave the paint store, make sure you have the right tools and brushes to do the job. Here again, quality counts-high quality brushes and rollers apply the paint more smoothly and evenly than economy-grade equipment. In addition, quality tools apply a heavier coat of paint that will help hide the color below, be more durable and stand up better to cleaning and scrubbing.

-Once you have purchased all your supplies, you'll be tempted to start painting right away, but most walls and woodwork need to be cleaned first to help the paint adhere better. You can remove dust, dirt and grime with a simple detergent and water solution, after which you should rinse the surface clean and allow it to dry. If nail holes are present, they can be plugged with filling compound. Small cracks can be filled with a quality acrylic latex caulk.

-Applying paint to interior walls is as simple as 'framing' them by painting the outside edges with a brush, then filling in the center with your roller. An effective way to do this is to roll on the paint in a large "W" or "M" pattern, then fill it in, working in various directions.

-When you're done painting, protect your investment in brushes and rollers by cleaning and storing them properly.

-Always take safety precautions while painting. That means, among other things, not climbing a ladder any higher than the third rung from the top, making sure all stepstools are sturdy and locked into position before use and wearing the proper eye and skin protection while preparing the surface and painting.

For more information, visit www.paintquality.com.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Fountains Increase Aesthetic and Financial Value of Homes

April 18, 2011 9:43 am

By John Voket, RISMedia Columnist

RISMEDIA, April 18, 2011-Homeowners don't need to spend a fortune on a swimming pool or pond installation to enjoy the aesthetic and value-enhancing qualities of a water feature. The experts at Kinetic Fountains in Arden, N.C. recently published an article that helps consumers and homeowners understand the basics of installing water fountains, whether they are planning to use pros to do the job, or they are planning to do it themselves.

According to the folks at Kinetic, installing a working fountain is an operation that is slightly more difficult than hanging a painting on wall brackets. Most fountain projects do require a two-person team for installation, however.

It is ideal-and may be required by local building codes to install a GFI electric outlet in the wall where you are going to house the fountain. The outlet should be right behind the fountain center.

Keep in mind that the outlet for the hanging wall fountain should be behind the center of the piece, not toward the bottom or the hood.

And what if you cannot afford to do electrical work? One simple and pleasing way to hide those unsightly wires is to put a plant right by the wall fountain.

You can disguise the cord in this manner and still avoid cluttering up the area. As far as the type of wall goes, there really are no limitations.

Fountains can be easily installed on cinder block walls or even metal walls. If the feature is heavier, you will need some additional studs mounted on the wall for safe holding-do not try and hang a hanging wall fountain using just sheet rock or plaster.

When you are ready to hang your wall fountain, make sure you have these tools on hand: a Phillips standard screwdriver, a hammer, masking tape, a cordless drill, a pencil, a stud finder and a level.

A fountain is a great way to increase the aesthetic value and financial value of your home, not to mention improve your health by providing the soothing and stress relieving sound of babbling water in your yard, or on your deck or patio.

For more information, visit www.kineticfountains.co.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


5 Tips Every Home Buyer Should Know

April 18, 2011 9:43 am

By Barbara Pronin, RISMedia Columnist

RISMEDIA, April 18, 2011-So you've saved up some money, worked on your credit score and diligently kept track of the marketplace. But buying a home remains the single most important financial decision most people will make, and what's most important in a home for one family may not fill the bill for another.

If you think it's time to get serious about choosing a home and buying, here are five tips from the National Association of REALTORS to help you settle on the right home for you:

Know what you want Write down the housing characteristics that are most important to you. Is it the number of bedrooms and/or bathrooms? Overall condition? Proximity to shopping, schools or public transportation? As you house shop, keep a careful list of the pros and cons of every house you see.

Browse online first There are many websites that list homes for sale. Browsing online will help you compare neighborhoods, price ranges, trends and characteristics that you should know before you get in your car.

Work with a pro A real estate professional will represent your best interests, and can make a real difference in locating your dream home, negotiating the price and working with you through the closing process. Get recommendations from friends and choose a full-time agent with a good website and experience in your neighborhood of choice.

Search out the details An online listing only tells you so much about a house. Check with police and school districts in the areas that interest you before you make a final decision.

Stay on top of the market You need to know when a property has a price cut or when a new listing comes on the market. Email alerts from Realtor.com and/or your agent's website will help keep you up-to-date so you can act quickly when the time comes.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Tips for Safe Spring Cleaning

April 16, 2011 9:43 am

RISMEDIA, April 16, 2011-Now that spring has officially arrived, homeowners are taking the time to take stock of what is in their homes and do a thorough spring cleaning. While it's a great thing to do, it's important to stay safe while you're doing it, especially from falls and poisoning-two of the top causes of home injuries.

The following tips will help you stay safe while cleaning your home:

-When cleaning out closets or re-organizing things, always keep stairs, steps, landings and all floors clear.

-When hauling items from room to room, carry loads you can see over, and keep one hand free to hold banisters and railings.

-Five gallon buckets are often used while cleaning and present a serious drowning danger to young children. Never leave a bucket or any standing water unattended and be sure to store buckets empty and upside-down.

-Follow safety recommendations when using harsh products, such as wearing gloves and masks. Do not mix products together because their contents could react with dangerous results.

-Never use gasoline to clean something and never use or store gasoline in your home, even in tiny quantities. Gasoline vapors can explode with just a spark. If you must keep some, use a special safety container and store it in an outside shed.

-When you clean out your cabinets, look at the labels on the products. If you see the words "Caution," "Warning," "Danger," "Poison," or "Keep Out of Reach of Children," be very careful. These products should be locked up when you are not using them.

-Remember to put things away so people cannot trip on them. Safely tuck away telephone and electrical cords out of walkways. In homes with children, make sure toys and other items are always safely put away when not in use.

-If you need to climb to clean something, use a stepladder or ladder. When using a ladder, stand at or below the highest safe standing level. For a stepladder, the safe standing level is the second rung from the top, and for an extension ladder, it's the fourth rung from the top. Before using, make sure the rungs are dry.

For more information, visit www.homesafetycounci.org.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Word of the Day

April 16, 2011 7:13 am

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.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Q: Are there routine steps I can take now to avoid major home improvements later?

April 16, 2011 7:13 am

A: Get in the habit of taking an annual inventory of every single space in your home to check for potential problems. Examine the roof, foundation, plumbing, electrical wiring basically everything. Try to fix trouble spots as soon as you uncover them. This proactive approach will help you avoid major repairs to your home later.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


5 Ways to Reduce Stress in Your Environment

April 16, 2011 7:13 am

RISMEDIA, April 16, 2011-Studies show that one in three people in the United States are living with extreme stress, with an estimated 67% of all doctor visits being stress related. The best way to reduce the stress in your life is to evaluate your environment. Reconsider these five areas and see how you can lessen the stress in your world.

Sounds

Too many background noises can contribute to the stress and tension of your day in the office it might be ringing phones, workplace chatter or copy machines. At home it could be television volume, computer games, or children playing. If the sounds at work or home are causing you stress, take control. Begin by turning down your own sounds and noises like cell phones, chatter and radios, and kindly ask others to do the same.

Sights

Poor lighting can cause eye strain and increase fatigue. Better lighting can be an instant mood booster. Be sure your work environment has adequate lighting. Experiment with full spectrum bulbs at your desk or try working by a window, if possible. Also, try to get some daily exposure to the sun.

Surroundings

A cluttered, messy or disorganized work or home space can be stressful and distracting. Take the time to develop a system that works for you. Try to create a relaxing, inviting and pleasant vibe in both places. This will not only keep you calm, but will be welcoming and tranquil for any guests.

Systems

We all know that systems and technology can make life easier, but often offer too many interruptions, information overload and stressful accessibility. Make sure to give yourself a technology break on a regular basis- take a walk outside, chat with a friend or co-worker or practice some quiet meditation. Log off and disconnect whenever possible. Create a system or schedule for reading e-mail, responding to text messages and checking voicemail to eliminate overload and response time stress.

Space

Find a space at home, work or in between where you can breathe deeply, mediate, visualize or practice other stress management techniques. Spending time in nature, even looking at nature pictures, has been shown to reduce stress levels.

For more information, visit www.highmark.com.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Electrical Safety Tips to Keep in Mind This Spring

April 16, 2011 7:13 am

RISMEDIA, April 16, 2011-Spring's warm weather is a great time for yard work, swimming and many other outdoor activities. At work or at play, it's important to keep electrical safety in mind. Tucson Electric Power (TEP) offers these tips to help you stay safe around electricity when you're outdoors this spring.

-Look up and look out for overhead power lines. Be mindful of any nearby lines before you climb a ladder or extend the handle of a pool-cleaning tool.

-Keep materials, tools and all parts of your body at least 15 feet away from any overhead power lines at all times. If you plan to get any closer, state law requires you to make arrangements with TEP that will allow your work to proceed safely. Keep this in mind when installing or repairing an antenna or satellite dish or preparing your evaporative cooler for summer use.

-Before you trim tree limbs and shrubs, watch out for power lines that could be hidden by foliage.

-Inspect power tools and electric lawn mowers for frayed power cords, broken plugs and weathered or damaged housings before every use. Don't use damaged equipment until it has been repaired properly. Keep tools unplugged and stored in dry areas when they are not in use. And always use an insulated extension cord designed for outdoor use with the correct power rating for that equipment.

-Always keep power cords and electrical equipment away from water, wet grass or other wet areas. Keep this in mind when using electric-powered mowers or other lawn equipment.

-Never fly kites or model airplanes near power lines. If a kite does get tangled with overhead lines, don't try to get it down yourself, as a kite string can conduct electricity.

-Keep vegetation and permanent structures away from the large, green ground-level boxes that house components of underground electrical systems.

-Treat all electric lines with caution and respect. Even low-voltage electric lines and cords can be hazardous if damaged or improperly handled. And if you Ever see a downed power line, call 911 immediately; don't get near it.

For more information, visit www.tep.com.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Insurance Questions Potential Homeowners Should Ask before They Buy

April 16, 2011 7:13 am

RISMEDIA, April 16, 2011-Insurance Information Institute says insurance is often the last thing people think about when buying a home, but it should be a key factor.

When it comes time to buy that dream home, the cost to insure it is often overlooked. The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) says there are two questions every potential homeowner should ask before they buy: How much will the home cost to insure? And, will separate coverage be needed for certain disasters, such as flood or earthquake?

Insurance is an expense you will have for as long as you own the home. Before purchasing a home, there are important factors to consider that will affect the cost of insurance. The I.I.I. has created the following checklist to help:

-How far is the home from the fire department? Houses that are near a fire station with professional firefighters usually cost less to insure.

-What is the condition of the plumbing and electrical systems? Poorly maintained, unsafe and/or outdated systems can cost more to insure.

-Is the home vulnerable to wind damage? Find out if private insurance is available, or a state-run insurance program. Is there a windstorm deductible, and how high is it? A home on or near the beach may be more costly to insure than one inland.

-Is the house at risk from flooding? Flood insurance is not covered under a standard homeowners insurance policy. However, it is available from the National Flood Insurance Program which is serviced by private carriers and from a few specialty insurers.

-What about earthquake risk? Earthquake insurance requires an endorsement or a separate policy.

-Is the house well built and well maintained? Homes built by reputable builders using disaster resistant materials and designed to meet current building codes are likely to better withstand natural disasters.

A knowledgeable home inspector and your insurance agent can be helpful in answering these questions. The home's loss history report can also provide useful information about its claims history of water damage, fire and other losses.

For more information, visit www.iii.org.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Word of the Day

April 15, 2011 10:43 am

Right of survivorship. A feature of joint tenancy giving the surviving joint tenants the rights, title and interests of the deceased joint tenant. Right of survivorship is the basic difference between buying property as joint tenants and as tenants in common.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.