August 7, 2012 7:00 pm
A: Yes. For example, if you decide to sell your existing home first before buying another one, you can make the sale of your home contingent on finding a replacement home. Some sellers opt for this contingency to avoid a double move, such as moving to a hotel or rental until a new home is found and made available.
However, there is one problem with this type of contingency: it can inconvenience the buyer, particularly if his own home is in escrow. He may not be willing to wait for you to move.
This strategy has a better chance of working when the market is relatively strong, your home is a rare find, the price and terms of the transaction are very favorable for the buyer, or the buyer is in no hurry to move.
August 6, 2012 6:58 pm
On several occasions over the years, I have featured reports promoting the advantages of composite versus wood materials for porches, decks and balconies.
But a recent blog from a New England home inspector offers a few words to the wise – whether you already have composite features, or are considering adding or replacing existing deck or other structures with composite materials,
Jason Horn is one of the lead inspectors at Stonehollow Inc. (stonehollow.com). He was recently inspecting a decade-old home, specifically two decks constructed of a composite, maintenance-free materials.
He discovered several issues including boards cracking and splitting along the edges caused by incorrect spacing during installation. He also found deterioration of the wood joists under the composite decking because while wood decking absorbs moisture and releases it, composite does not.
So, moisture trapped under the decking and on top of the joists can keep joists from drying properly - becoming more susceptible to rot and decay. Some other issues to consider according to Horn, are:
Cost: Traditional wood decking goes about $15/ sq. ft., while composite decking material is $30-$36/ sq. ft. And labor cost tends to be higher due to additional steps that are required during composite installation.
Scratching: Composite decking combines wood and plastic, but the material is not indestructible. The surface of the boards can be scratched rather easily, and composite decking can’t be resurfaced.
Stains: One of the most common complaints about composite decking is mold. Horn says composite decking requires special cleaning chemicals to kill the mold and remove some of the finish. But this leaves decking more porous and susceptible to future mold growth.
Color fade: Horn knows wood decking can fade too, but you can re-stain wood. He also says there are products claiming to restore stained composite decking, but did not speak to their effectiveness.
August 6, 2012 6:58 pm
Homeowners needing to re-roof want low-cost, attractive options that will last the best part of a lifetime.
“That won’t happen,” says roofer Joe Anastasio. “There are several reasonably priced and attractive options in the roofing industry today. But despite claims by some product manufacturers, many roofs will need to be replaced again – or repaired – within 10 to 15 years.”
However, he adds, by choosing the right roof, having it installed properly, and doing a little regular maintenance, most homeowners can look forward to a worry-free twenty years or more.
Anastasio recommends these roofing materials:
• Composition shingles – Versatile and easy to install, composition shingles offer a clean look at the most affordable price. Higher quality options made of asphalt or fiberglass are easy to install, may be laid over an existing roof, and offer Class A fire protection. They may be walked upon without damage. On the negative side, shingles may be blown off in high winds, and they do not have the dimensional look of tile or wood shake.
• Wood shake – Wood shake roofs offer lots of natural character because of variances in the cut and thickness of the wood, generally cedar. They are energy-efficient, insulating the attic and allowing the house to ‘breathe.’ But they are more expensive and will not last as long as fiberglass or tile because they are subject to damage by mold, rot, and insects. Today’s pressure-treated shakes are impregnated with fire-retardant that meet national fire standards, but they require regular maintenance.
• Clay tile – A good choice for houses of Southwestern or Mediterranean design, clay tile roofs are attractive, won’t rot or burn, and comes in many colors and styles. They will last a long time, but they can be very heavy and may require extra roof support to hold the weight. Proper installation is important, and maintenance is minimal, but tiles are fragile and could break if walked upon.
• Slate – An expensive choice selected for upscale homes, slate roofs provide a natural look in a variety of patterns. They offer a very long lifespan, good fire protection, and low maintenance, and are not vulnerable to rot or insects. Like tile, slate can be very heavy, sometimes requiring expensive extra support. It is also breakable enough that walking on it is difficult for a non-professional, complicating such tasks as maintenance and gutter cleaning.
August 6, 2012 6:58 pm
(ARA) - Backyards have always been places where families can get away without actually going away. Outdoor areas connect people with their favorite natural treasures while providing a place to relax. Whether it's adding an outdoor kitchen and replacing your old picnic table with a truly impressive dining set, or outfitting your patio with a desk space so you can bring your work outside, you can expand your living area by focusing on what's outside the home.
Realizing the value of spending time outside in a comfortable and attractive setting - and that money spent on an outdoor space can go even further as opposed to a new addition to your home - many homeowners are choosing to focus on improving their outdoor spaces.
According to a recent survey by HGTV and Casual Living magazine, 87 percent of the roughly 5,000 Americans interviewed said an outdoor room in their homes was "important or very important," and more than half had one. Derek Stearns, a craftsman with Derek & Dean, Inc. and co-host of DIY Network's "Indoors Out," believes this interest is as much sentimental as it is value-driven.
"An outdoor space is really all about relationships - it's about creating memories with your family and nature," Stearns says.
Stearns and Kerry Burt, a Dallas-based landscape architect and winner of HGTV's Landscapers' Challenge, offer a little inspiration to create your perfect outdoor retreat:
*Plan with a purpose
Before you determine the layout, consider how you will use the space to create memories. Do you like to cook and entertain friends? Are you seeking a private escape to spend more time with family? Or do you desire a backyard office space? Stearns recommends focusing on your wish list without budget constraints.
"Stress comes from thinking you have to edit your plans, so start with the top item on your wish list," Stearns says. "You can edit later within the budget."
Use this focus to establish a focal point - an organic garden or gorgeous view - and create a plan to design around it. To maintain the flow from indoors out, use natural materials for deck or patio space that complement the outdoors. Try durable woods, like Western Red Cedar, that instantly brings an exceptional aroma and beauty to outdoor living spaces.
*Add backyard flavor
Heat up your backyard retreat by adding a kitchen to create tasty family dinners outside, a popular request for Burt. Depending on the size of your space, a kitchen may include a variety of appliances and offer seating options ranging from vintage tables to sofas.
"With the economy people want to spend money on something they can use over and over, a purchase aside from a vacation," says Burt.
*Create privacy and shade
To create the most comfortable space on hot summer days, Burt recommends pergolas and arbors to provide shade. The structures will also create privacy for quiet conversations and can easily offer pops of color when decorated with bright flowers. As more homeowners are looking for low-maintenance products, build with natural materials that are easy to use and can stand the test of time. Materials like Western red cedar contain natural preservatives that resist moisture, decay and insect damage, and can save you money over time. You can instantly warm up the space with these materials by adding a stain for rich tones.
*Bring indoors out
Add the finishing touches to your outdoor retreat by truly bringing the indoors outside. Stearns recommends bringing indoor rugs outside and adding a clock in the kitchen to give the space a more intimate feel. For a simple touch, buy three different size pots in the same style and plant a mix of flowers in each.
"What's really hot right now is outdoor lighting - not just wrapping lights around trees - but hanging a chandelier over a dining table," suggests Stearns.
Social media sites like the Real Cedar Facebook page can be a great place to find ideas - and offer a chance to win prizes to stretch your resources. Finally, remember time spent in your outdoor space can leave a lasting impression.
"Having a well-maintained outdoor living space and garden shows confidence to potential buyers," explains Burt. "It shows the homeowners care."
August 6, 2012 6:58 pm
(ARA) - Starting a business is a huge endeavor for entrepreneurs, especially when larger expense items are on the required equipment list. During a business's first few years of operation, renting equipment, rather than purchasing it outright, can allow the company to save money and invest toward becoming established.
Entrepreneurs started more than 550,000 small businesses in 2009, the most recent year with data available, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA). Most of those businesses were financed through owner investment and bank credit, to the tune of about $80,000 a year, the SBA reports. That dollar figure doesn't stretch far when larger cost items like vehicles and office space are part of the picture. This is where renting equipment comes in handy. Some business items frequently rented include:
* Office space - Location is an important factor of doing business, but so is the cost of doing business in that location. Running a business out of your home is always the least-expensive option, and renting an office space or warehouse space - depending on the business - is usually the next best option for saving money. Renting also gives you flexibility to move if the rent goes up, or another space in a better location becomes available. However, because of low interest rates available for loans right now, it is a good idea to compare annual rent payments with potential mortgage payments, just to make certain that you're finding the best work environment for the best price.
* Vehicles - Many small businesses, from bakeries to flower shops, occasionally need larger vehicles for delivering products or transporting their equipment. Instead of purchasing a cargo van or refrigerator truck, contact Penske Truck Rental about commercial truck rentals for individual dates or on a repeated basis as the best solution for your business needs. Get the commercial truck you need when you need it, either with a guaranteed reservation or Penske's Rental Express program just for business that includes 24/7 roadside assistance. It's a great way to save money not only on the purchase of larger vehicles, but also the maintenance and upkeep.
* Phone and computer systems - With the speed at which technology is constantly updating, it's a good idea to review renting phone and computer equipment, rather than purchasing it. This works well for companies that have the potential to grow quickly - needing additional equipment - as well as companies where phones and computers are needed, but aren't an integral part of the business. The good news about renting is that as the latest updates happen with technology, you can easily update your equipment as well.
* Office furniture - If your business is a one-man shop run out of your home, it's probably a better idea to use the furniture you have on hand. But for entrepreneurs venturing into business with a small number of employees and office space, renting furniture is a great way to provide your workers with office furniture like desks, chairs, filing cabinets and even shelving units needed to go about business.
Careful management of budgets and expenditures helps small start-up businesses succeed. If you're considering becoming an entrepreneur and starting up your own company, look into the option of renting equipment to save money that could be better used in other areas of the business like client acquisition, supplies or marketing.
August 6, 2012 6:58 pm
Promissory note. A written promise to repay a debt on demand or at a stated time in the future.
August 6, 2012 6:58 pm
A: You can reject, accept, or counter any offer that is presented to you. Most offers include contingencies, which protect the buyer in case something goes wrong.
The two most common contingencies deal with financing, which makes the sale dependent on the buyer’s ability to obtain a loan commitment from a lender within a stated time period, and an inspection, which allows the buyer to have a professional inspect the property to their satisfaction.
There really is no reason not to consider these contingencies because they are quite reasonable and standard.
However, think twice about a contingency that is predicated on you making expensive home repairs, such as a kitchen renovation. Now, if the roof is caving in, that is an entirely different story. You may need to spend money to replace it or lower the asking price of the home.
August 3, 2012 3:52 pm
Let’s face it: Most of us don’t exactly look forward to doing laundry. As a result, it’s one of those chores that are easy to put off until later. But putting the laundry off until later can have a downside. Hidden dirt can build up in your clothes, and it may be harder to get visible stains like chocolate or grass out of clothing.
A national survey by Wisk revealed that four out of five people admitted to at least one dirty laundry secret. Top secrets include:
• Going more than a month without changing bed sheets. In fact, only half of those surveyed wash sheets once a week.
• Taking dirty items out of the laundry basket to wear.
• Repeating underwear -- nearly one in three women admit to wearing the same bra for several days in a row, while close to one in three men admit to having worn the same socks or underwear for several days.
Most people say they "just know" when an item needs to be washed, but what they may not know is that the average wash load contains 20 times more body oil and sweat than visible stains. These hidden soils can get trapped deep in the fabric of clothes and build up over time. Leaving the laundry until later also means it becomes harder to remove visible stains. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to get rid of common stains:
Adhesive (tape, chewing gum, rubber cement) - Apply ice or cold water to harden surface; scrape with a dull knife. Saturate with prewash stain remover. Rinse, then launder.
Beverage - Soak stain in cool water. Treat with pre-wash stain remover, liquid laundry detergent, or a paste of powder detergent and water. Launder with fabric safe bleach.
Blood - New stains should be soaked in cold water for 30 minutes. Rub detergent into any remaining stain. Rinse, then launder. Dried stains should be pretreated or soaked in lukewarm water with a product containing enzymes, then laundered.
Chocolate - Gently scrape off excess chocolate. Treat the stain with a prewash spray. Follow up with an enzyme detergent to remove residue before washing.
Cosmetics - Treat with prewash stain remover, liquid detergent, a mixture of detergent and water, or rub with bar soap. Work into dampened stain until outline of stain is gone, then rinse. If greasy stain remains, soak in an enzyme product. Rinse and launder.
Grass - Treat with prewash stain remover, or soak with an enzyme product. If stain remains, launder in hottest water safe for the fabric, with a fabric-safe bleach.
Mud - Let dry, then brush off as much mud as possible. For light stains, pretreat with a paste of dry detergent and water, liquid detergent, or a liquid detergent booster; launder. Pretreat heavy stains by presoaking with a laundry detergent, a product containing enzymes.
Source: Wisk Deep
August 3, 2012 3:52 pm
So maybe you’re already monitoring your own nutrition, adding in more fruits and veggies and sipping plenty of water. But don’t forget your furry friends!
When it comes to caring for your pet, you do everything you can to ensure they stay happy and healthy. And while there are a variety of pet foods on the market boasting recipes made using wholesome ingredients, if pets aren't digesting that food correctly, they may as well be eating the inexpensive fillers you've been trying to avoid.
In fact, many pet owners don't know their dogs and cats have sensitive stomachs, which may make it hard for them to properly digest their current food, and could lead to a host of problems. "Pets need consistency, they need to eat the same food every day to avoid digestive upset," explains Dr. Al Townshed, staff veterinarian with Holistic Select natural pet food, "If pets can't absorb the nutrients in the food they eat, it can lead to malnutrition, lethargy, frequent vomiting and worse."
The good news is there are pet foods on the market that offer well-balanced, easily digestible nutrients. With this in mind, Dr. Townshend shares these tips for choosing the right food for your pet:
Check the Label
Look for natural, wholesome ingredients and avoid fillers. Remember, while proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals all play an important role in the health benefits of your pet's diet, there are other ingredients to consider to help ensure your pet is properly absorbing these key nutrients.
Your pet's digestive tract requires a careful balancing act of bacteria. Probiotics -- or good bacteria -- help keep your pet's immune system healthy. Cat and dog foods like Holistic Select natural pet food contain live probiotics that are added to the food after it has been cooked and cooled. This process assures maximum survival of the probiotics, so that your pet reaps the full benefits of their food.
Prebiotics stimulate the growth and maintenance of good bacteria, like probiotics, in your pet's digestive tract. Examples of prebiotics include beet pulp and inulin, which is a fructose found in plant roots and is believed to aid in the absorption of calcium and magnesium, according to a 2005 study published by the National Institutes of Health.
Just as fiber plays an important role in human digestive health, it also plays an integral role in your pet's digestive health. Fiber-rich foods such as oatmeal and flaxseed promote digestive regularity. Flaxseed, for example, helps with the movement of food through your pet's digestive tract, is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, and offers benefits for your pet's cardiovascular, endocrine and immune systems.
Easily Digestible Enzymes
Several organs such as the pancreas help break down food within the digestive process by producing enzymes. Adding enzymes to pet food actually helps with this process by ensuring your pet is getting the nutrients from their food, while reducing stress on their organs -- this is especially crucial for aging pets.
When it comes to choosing a pet food for your dog or cat, keep in mind that more than just the main ingredients matter
August 3, 2012 3:52 pm
Summer is the time of year when many people get the urge to entertain just a little more frequently. Interior design expert and TV personality Genevieve Gorder says the best approach to summer entertaining is to make your space shine with a comfortable, approachable style. Genevieve has partnered with Mirassou Winery® to help brighten up entertaining spaces for sharing good times and making good memories. Try one of her easy entertaining ideas to make your home feel warm and welcoming -- putting your guests at ease as they raise a glass to your hosting skills:
• Create a home bar on any surface of your home. Arrange beautiful wine bottles on a vintage silver or brass tray, add wine glasses and two taper candle holders. With a bit of mood lighting, glassware and beverages, a bar is just that simple and guests know they can pour their own wine.
• Put every surface to use when entertaining large groups, such as stacking coasters on the mantle to expand your typical entertaining space. Add a pop of color so guests know they can use the mantle as a gathering place.
• The next time you have guests over for wine and cheese, create a buffet table that works your guests along the line visually. Start at the highest point with flatware and rolled linen napkins in tall vessels, then use cake tiers for flatbreads and crackers, followed by cutting boards for cheeses and accompaniments at the lowest point in the middle. Move the eye line back up again at the finish with vases of nuts and bottles of wine.
• Don't be afraid to mix elements on your dining table to make your presentation really shine. Think about mixing metals like brass and silver with white glass to create a powerful triad. Then use mismatched plates and chairs to bring a homey and casual feeling to a gathering.
• A fun activity for simple summer entertaining is hosting an at-home wine tasting. Ask guests to bring a bottle of wine from the same region -- such as California -- and then spend the evening trying different wines and learning which you like best.