What is Credit?

There are many legal definitions for credit, but the bottom line is that credit means borrowing money from a lender to pay for something. You may be borrowing from a bank, a retail merchant, or a mortgage company. The person you want to borrow money from extends credit to you.

This means that they are going to let you have a product now that you will pay for later. When you borrow money, you make an agreement with the lender on how you will repay the loan.

In addition, you will usually pay a loan back with interest. This is a percentage of the original money that you borrowed that is tacked on to the loan. Adding interest charges is how a lender makes money.

Credit can be both a blessing and a curse. Most people couldn’t afford to pay up front for a home that costs $150,000. However, many can budget monthly installments to pay a mortgage. The same is true for the purchase of an automobile. Credit can also help you in an emergency. For example, when your car breaks down and you need to put your car repairs on a credit card.

For many, though, credit seems like “free money.” You want a new outfit or some new sports equipment, but you don’t have the cash in your bank account. It’s very easy to whip out a credit card and get what you want now – but pay for it later. Unfortunately, if you consistently spend more money than you earn, you can get in over your head in debt.

While a home is usually considered a good debt, if you borrow money for a house you can’t really afford, you’ll be in the same boat. You can end up falling behind on payments or even foreclosing.

If you’re already in the position of having bad credit, then you know how easy it is to fall into the credit trap. You may feel overwhelmed and even feel like there’s no way out. What’s more, it’s hard to know where to turn to for help.

Talking about problems with your finances is usually not comfortable. In fact, many people who seem to be living high on the hog are really drowning in debt – but you’d never know it by looking at them.

To download your copy of “The Free Credit Repair Kit – Version 2006”, you can visit my website at http://www.fixitcredit.com.

How to Save Money – The 60-40 Rule

I have been living on the 60/40 budgeting rule for more than three years now. I had read on this subject in a magazine article and in a conversation with a colleague, I found out a simple system in which my colleague has been using for years.

The Rule (60%)

The 60/40 rule simply says that 60% of your gross income should go to Committed or Fixed expenses. These expenses are your Overhead expenses, meaning the basic things you need to pay to survive. They include:

• Basic food and clothing needs.

• Rent or Mortgage

• Utilities (electricity, water, internet, cable subscription etc.)

• Insurance premiums.

• Charitable contributions.

• Taxes.

It looks simple enough but in my experience putting all committed expenses into 60% of my income was a tough thing to do. But don’t give up as it is very possible to achieve this.

The Rule (40%)

The other half of the equation is the 40% which is divided into four 10% categories.

• Retirement: Money set aside into your IRA or 401(k) plans.

• Long-term savings: Money set aside for car purchases, major home repairs, or to pay down debts such as credit cards, mortgages, etc.

• Irregular expenses: Vacations, car repairs, new appliances, etc.

• Fun money: The great part! Do anything you want with this money! Just be sure that this category applies to your whole family such as dining out, a day in the mall shopping, your hobbies etc. But also remember that having fun with your friends, children and family does not have to be costly!

What to Ask Yourself

• Are you renting a place or have a mortgage that you cannot afford? Is it worth it move to a smaller place or farther place to save up? How much money will you save if you do so?

• Are your car payments too high? How is the fuel consumption of your car?

• Do you have too many paid subscriptions that you don’t really use? (Satellite TV, club memberships etc.)

• What is your lifestyle like? How much do you spend in a week, eating out, going on trips etc?

• Do you wear designer clothes? Where do you shop?

• Can you afford to get your coffee or lunch at a cheaper place?

How a Residential Locksmith Assists to Secure Your Home?

A residential locksmith exists in the industry for many decades providing different types of assistance. House owners require the help of these services at various critical stages. Over the past years, the services of home locksmiths have reached new heights with the development of the modern technology. Their services vary from duplication of the keys to programming sophisticated home security systems nowadays. In fact, without the help of a professional locksmith Expert, it will be practically impossible to assure the safety of your residence.

Mentioned below are some of the key services offered by locksmiths to assure the security of the houses.

Duplication of keys

Generally, key duplication is the most common and the basic service offered by locksmiths. Over the past decades, with the development of the technology, different types of locks are being introduced and the functionality of the keys has become complicated. However, a professional locksmith can duplicate any of these keys from basic ones to programmable keys.

Repairing locks

Or some other locks may get broken over the time and therefore a huge demand has arisen in the industry for lock repair works. Again modern home door locks have become exceptionally sophisticated; some of which even controlled over mobile apps. Therefore, it has become a prerequisite for modern locksmiths to know about these automated and programmable locks too. Thanks to the developments, modern vendors are capable of providing home door lock repair work from basics to hi-end security systems.

Lock replacements

Due to various reasons people may have to replace their locks. Moving to a new house, security upgrade or suspicious security vulnerability are common reasons for a house owner to look for a lock replacement. When a particular lock is used for a longer period, the necessity for lock replacement will arise. No matter how sophisticated the locking system, you may need to replace it once you have used it for a long time. Going beyond the simple home lock install process, modern residential locksmiths are capable of replacing the entire security system with programmable keys and locks.

Emergency lockout service

Due to busy life schedules, people get locked out from their residences and offices quite often. Upon such situation, only a locksmith can provide you the most effective service for the delight of the client and get him out of the situation. Most of the Home locksmiths rightly offer 24/7 emergency lockout service considering the demand.

Security enhancements

Modern residences need modern security strategies considering the advance threats available in the society. Conventional unsecure locks hardly can withstand the new level threats. As an effective way to face a new level of threats houses need advanced security options. Contemporary locksmiths are capable of enhancing the security systems to match the requirements of the modern society.

Apart from the house you live, you can enhance the security of the areas like garages and storage facilities too. Once the house’s security is strengthened, you can enjoy low insurance premiums as a great value addition. Before hiring a residential locksmith expert, however, it is wise to look for aspects like industry experience, skills, previous work records etc.

Fight Climate Change and Global Warming – Repair Your Television Set and Other Electronic Appliances

You heard it right. You can fight climate change and global warming by repairing your television set and other electronic appliances at home. You don’t have to throw them away or give those appliances to the garbage truck or stock them in your attic.

These things are not just to be discarded because they are useless. Or, say you have money, a credit card all ready to purchase a new appliance at home. You don’t need second hand appliances, or repaired ones. They just distract your viewing time.

But that’s not the point. The moment you purchase a new television set, or washing machine or dryer at home, you’re boasting the manufacture of new appliances. See, it’s not a question of disposing (although responsible disposal is one of our responsibilities); it’s a question of adding appliances or non-biodegradable things in our homes. Plus, the more businesses manufacture non-biodegradable materials, the more we emit carbon dioxide into the air. It’s a double whammy, hope you see it.

Here’s the catch, to our ‘kilometric’ title. If we repair our appliances at home, we won’t have an additional appliance to be manufactured by the appliance company, and we don’t have an additional non-biodegradable material at home. We don’t have an added burden of disposing this material.

So what do we do? You say you don’t know how to repair appliances.

Our point here is for you to learn these simple “how-tos”. There are more ways than one of shooting two birds with one shot. There’s no excuse for a willing home buddy who has a dream of becoming a true environmentalist, or a stay-at-home housewife who is more and ever creative when it comes to fixing every problem in the home.

Yes, I tell you. You can fix your television set, washing machine, dryer, and many other electronic appliances at home. These things are non-biodegradable materials that are really a problem to dispose of. Give them to the garbage boys and they just pile them up with the rest of the garbage. Pile them up, too, in your backyard and they become an eyesore, a real problem.

Air Conditioner Maintenance – The How to Do It Guide by Homeowners Insurance Folks

There is a science to anything that goes wrong: things gone awry usually do so at the wrong time!

Ask the property and homeowners – landlords and renters as well – and they will emphatically tell you that, yes, when the air conditioning system goes, it’s generally during a heat wave, during the hottest times of the summer season!

How can the sorry situation be prevented? Your surest bet is by “taking the bull by the horns”. Begin a maintenance program that is consistent as it is proactive, say the cooling experts who are in the know.

Of course, the insurance agent who helped your with your home coverage will nod his head about this in total agreement. That’s because even though your plan may cover AC equipment breakdown in general, air condition claims that arise due to a lack of care will never be covered! To the indemnity industry, if you don’t take care of your home AC, it’s your liability (aka your own fault) and you will receive no compensation.

So, here we go with the important care and maintenance guidelines.

Number One: Ramp up your air conditioner’s Crankcase heater BEFORE you actually begin using your system. This is called ‘energizing’, an act that helps minimize the likelihood of having the system’s refrigerant leak into the AC oil.

Number Two: Cleanse the AC outside coils at least two times per year – once before the cooling system commences and once right before the hottest time when your air conditioner will be doing overtime.

Number Three: Check the compressor’s motor starter. Watch for any repair needs and particularly for corrosive electrical contacts that need replacement.

Number Four: Examine your AC’s moisture filters. Should the indicator show that there is moisture buildup, summon a technician that will check the source for it and repair any leak. As per protocol, technician workers will vacuum up and as necessary replace filters and driers.

Number Five: Check the air conditioner’s refrigerant charge. If you have experienced a shortage of the refrigerant before, you will need to conduct checks on a regular basis and do any necessary repairs.

Number Six: Make sure to be on guard for any air condition unit leaks. For checking convenience, utilize refrigerant additives that make checking easier.

Number Seven: Clean the air condition vapors so that air flow passage channels are not blocked. In general, make sure to also install new air filters regularly.

Number Eight: Attach surge protection to your air conditioning system. Additionally, you can install a thermostat which will allow your compressor to delay starting over once it has turned off. This should help prevent a breakdown from overuse.

Number Nine: Learn how to detect abnormal operation. If something doesn’t sound right, smell right, feel right or look right call your repair car ASAP before the problem becomes a major one!

How to Make Money Online For Beginners – Step By Step Guide For 2020

In this article I will teach you how to make money online for beginners in 2020. This will be a step by step online money making guide that you can follow to achieve amazing results in your online business.

Here are the exact steps you need to take:

1.) Choose a niche. You’ll want to focus on the big niche topics that have lots of hungry buyers. In other words, if people aren’t buying products in the niche topic, don’t target those people.

Niche topics like internet marketing, affiliate marketing, pet care, home improvement, car repairs and insurance are great topics. They provide you with customers who are looking to buy products to solve their increasing daily problems.

If you can solve a problem, you can make as much money as you want online. I’m not kidding. This is the key to success online.

2.) Pick a product. Your product should have a residual commission or monthly recurring membership around it. This will increase your chances of making serious cash online. Choose a product that make you at least $25 per sale, or 75% commission monthly.

3.) Create a squeeze page. The purpose of the squeeze page is to offer something in exchange for your potential customers email address. This will allow you to follow up with them and even sell additional products online.

Make sure your squeeze page is very simple. An eye catching headline and a simple call to action to get the email is all you need. For example, if you are in the internet marketing niche topic, you could write “How to Create A Six Figure Internet Marketing Business From Scratch – Grab Your FREE Copy of Our Online Guide!”

This will give your visitor a reason for joining your newsletter. Make sure to offer quality training in exchange for their trust.

4.) Create an email marketing campaign. Write at least 7 follow up emails that will educate your potential client on how you can help them. These emails should offer tips, tricks and advice on how to solve the problem they have.

5.) Send emails to your list. Schedule daily emails to your list with some piece of content that they will LOVE. This is very important if you want to create a stable business on the internet.

6.) Scaling quickly. In order to scale your digital marketing business, you’ll need to take “Massive Action.” So keep a schedule in place for producing and distributing content to your ideal market.

How Car Mechanics Use Technology

Do you know why it’s important to find a good mechanic or a good repair shop to repair your car? The reason: it could save you hundreds of dollars in parts and labor! When we say a “good mechanic” or a “good repair shop”, we’re referring to mechanics who are equipped with the latest technology. You don’t want to entrust your car to a shop with outdated machinery and equipment because it will take longer to arrive at a diagnosis. And the longer a mechanic takes to make a diagnosis, the larger your bill for labor!

Remember that car mechanics charge by the hour.

Car repairs can cover any one or a combination of the following (note that this is not a complete repair list).

• Air conditioning checks

• Air bag checks

• Electrical wiring

• Cables

• Clutch service and repair

• Transmission repair

• Wheel Alignment

• Suspension

• Brakes

• Heating system

• Oil and lubrication

• Battery

• Power windows

Much of the troubleshooting that mechanics use to diagnose a problem is facilitated by car repair technology.

Ever noticed how some lights on your panel come on when something’s wrong? In most cases, an experienced mechanic will know immediately what the problem is, but there are instances where it will take sophisticated technology to lead to an accurate diagnosis.

Sophisticated technology comes in many forms and one popular one is troubleshooting software. Companies like Auto Tech have a software program that car owners can use to find out what is ailing their vehicle.

Most car owners who were cynical about software programs before should seriously consider purchasing a reliable car troubleshooting software program. For instance, some programs start out by asking you to input your car make and model number, the year of the car and what kinds of equipment it has. The software features a large database of information about all cars in the market and a car owner simply follows the steps when prompted. It employs what the industry calls a “tree diagnosis” where logical steps take you through the entire diagnosis process.

After you’ve keyed in your car’s profile, you use the drop down menu to choose the symptoms that your car is exhibiting. For instance, if you choose “squealing brakes”, the program mimics the squealing of brakes and if that’s the sound you hear, you confirm it and the program recommends a series of steps.

You may not really want to use a troubleshooting software, but imagine how much time and money you could save if you spoke to the mechanic intelligently, letting him know that you’re in the know.

Students who are studying towards certification buy certain tools of the trade. A couple of examples are Snap On and Mac Tools. These two are the most popular in the United States and Canada.

Mechanics now have a wide range of technology tools to help them understand car problems better: digital multimeters (electronic measuring), boroscopes (testing heat exchangers), fuel diagnostic testers (testing and balancing fuel injectors) and other such new technologies.

New car mechanic technologies help shorten the learning curve and speed up diagnosis so that the car owner isn’t saddled with too many labor hours.

Home Inspections – A Question and Answer Guide

A home inspection is an evaluation of the visible and accessible systems and components of a home (plumbing, heating and cooling, electrical, structure, roof, etc.) and is intended to give the client (buyer, seller, or homeowner) a better understanding of the home’s general condition. Most often it is a buyer who requests an inspection of the home he or she is serious about purchasing. A home inspection delivers data so that decisions about the purchase can be confirmed or questioned, and can uncover serious and/or expensive to repair defects that the seller/owner may not be aware of. It is not an appraisal of the property’s value; nor does it address the cost of repairs. It does not guarantee that the home complies with local building codes or protect a client in the event an item inspected fails in the future. [Note: Warranties can be purchased to cover many items.] A home inspection should not be considered a “technically exhaustive” evaluation, but rather an evaluation of the property on the day it is inspected, taking into consideration normal wear and tear for the home’s age and location. A home inspection can also include, for extra fees, Radon gas testing, water testing, energy audits, pest inspections, pool inspections, and several other specific items that may be indigenous to the region of the country where the inspection takes place. Home inspections are also used (less often) by a seller before listing the property to see if there are any hidden problems that they are unaware of, and also by homeowners simply wishing to care for their homes, prevent surprises, and keep the home investment value as high as possible.

The important results to pay attention to in a home inspection are:

1. Major defects, such as large differential cracks in the foundation; structure out of level or plumb; decks not installed or supported properly, etc. These are items that are expensive to fix, which we classify as items requiring more than 2% of the purchase price to repair.

2. Things that could lead to major defects – a roof flashing leak that could get bigger, damaged downspouts that could cause backup and water intrusion, or a support beam that was not tied in to the structure properly.

3. Safety hazards, such as an exposed electrical wiring, lack of GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters) in kitchens and bathrooms, lack of safety railing on decks more than 30 inches off the ground, etc.

Your inspector will advise you about what to do about these problems. He/she may recommend evaluation – and on serious issues most certainly will – by licensed or certified professionals who are specialists in the defect areas. For example, your inspector will recommend you call a licensed building engineer if they find sections of the home that are out of alignment, as this could indicate a serious structural deficiency.

Home Inspections are only done by a buyer after they sign a contract, right?

This is not true! As you will see when you read on, a home inspection can be used for interim inspections in new construction, as a maintenance tool by a current homeowner, a proactive technique by sellers to make their home more sellable, and by buyers wanting to determine the condition of the potential home.

Sellers, in particular, can benefit from getting a home inspection before listing the home. Here are just a few of the advantages for the seller:

· The seller knows the home! The home inspector will be able to get answers to his/her questions on the history of any problems they find.

· A home inspection will help the seller be more objective when it comes to setting a fair price on the home.

· The seller can take the report and make it into a marketing piece for the home.

· The seller will be alerted to any safety issues found in the home before they open it up for open house tours.

· The seller can make repairs leisurely instead being in a rush after the contract is signed.

Why should I get a home inspection?

Your new home has dozens of systems and over 10,000 parts – from heating and cooling to ventilation and appliances. When these systems and appliances work together, you experience comfort, energy savings, and durability. Weak links in the system, however, can produce assorted problems leading to a loss in value and shortened component life. Would you buy a used car without a qualified mechanic looking at it? Your home is far more complicated, and to have a thorough inspection that is documented in a report arms you with substantial information on which to make decisions.

Why can’t I do the inspection myself?

Most homebuyers lack the knowledge, skill, and objectivity needed to inspect a home themselves. By using the services of a professional home inspector, they gain a better understanding of the condition of the property; especially whether any items do not “function as intended” or “adversely affect the habitability of the dwelling” or “warrant further investigation” by a specialist. Remember that the home inspector is a generalist and is broadly trained in every home system.

Why can’t I ask a family member who is handy or who is a contractor to inspect my new home?

Although your nephew or aunt may be very skilled, he or she is not trained or experienced in professional home inspections and usually lacks the specialized test equipment and knowledge required for an inspection. Home inspection training and expertise represent a distinct, licensed profession that employs rigorous standards of practice. Most contractors and other trade professionals hire a professional home inspector to inspect their own homes when they themselves purchase a home!

What does a home inspection cost?

This is often the first question asked but the answer tells the least about the quality of the inspection. Fees are based according to size, age and various other aspects of the home. Inspection fees from a certified professional home inspector generally start under $300. An average price for a 2,000 square foot home nationally is about $350-$375. What you should pay attention to is not the fee, but the qualifications of your inspector. Are they nationally certified (passed the NHIE exam)? Are they state certified if required?

How long does the inspection take?

This depends upon the size and condition of the home. You can usually figure 1.2 hours for every 1,000 square feet. For example, a 2,500 square foot house would take about 3 hours. If the company also produces the report at your home, that will take an additional 30-50 minutes.

Do all homes require a home inspection?

Yes and No. Although not required by law in most states, we feel that any buyer not getting a home inspection is doing themselves a great disservice. They may find themselves with costly and unpleasant surprises after moving into the home and suffer financial headaches that could easily have been avoided.

Should I be at the inspection?

It’s a great idea for you be present during the inspection – whether you are buyer, seller, or homeowner. With you there, the inspector can show you any defects and explain their importance as well as point out maintenance features that will be helpful in the future. If you can’t be there, it is not a problem since the report you receive will be very detailed. If you are not present, then you should be sure to ask your inspector to explain anything that is not clear in the report. Also read the inspection agreement carefully so you understand what is covered and what is not covered in the inspection. If there is a problem with the inspection or the report, you should raise the issues quickly by calling the inspector, usually within 24 hours. If you want the inspector to return after the inspection to show you things, this can be arranged and is a good idea, however, you will be paying for the inspector’s time on a walkthrough since this was not included in the original service.

Should the seller attend the home inspection that has been ordered by the buyer?

The seller will be welcome at the inspection (it is still their home) although they should understand that the inspector is working for the buyer. The conversation that the inspector has with the buyer may be upsetting to the seller if the seller was unaware of the items being pointed out, or the seller may be overly emotional about any flaws. This is a reason why the seller might want to consider getting their own inspection before listing the home.

Can a house fail a home inspection?

No. A home inspection is an examination of the current condition of your prospective home. It is not an appraisal, which determines market value, or a municipal inspection, which verifies local code compliance. A home inspector, therefore, cannot not pass or fail a house. The inspector will objectively describe the home’s physical condition and indicate which items are in need of repair or replacement.

What is included in the inspection?

The following list is not exhaustive. Not all of these may be in the inspection you get, but the inspector will be following a standardized checklist for the home:

· Site drainage and grading

· Driveway

· Entry Steps, handrails

· Decks

· Masonry

· Landscape (as it relates to the home)

· Retaining walls

· Roofing, flashings, chimneys, and attic

· Eaves, soffits, and fascias

· Walls, doors, windows, patios, walkways

· Foundation, basement, and crawlspaces

· Garage, garage walls, floor, and door operation

· Kitchen appliances (dishwasher, range/oven/cooktop/hoods, microwave, disposal, trash compactor)

· Laundry appliances (washer and dryer)

· Ceilings, walls, floors

· Kitchen counters, floors, and cabinets

· Windows and window gaskets

· Interior doors and hardware

· Plumbing systems and fixtures

· Electrical system, panels, entrance conductors

· Electrical grounding, GFCI, outlets

· Smoke (fire) detectors

· Ventilation systems and Insulation

· Heating equipment and controls

· Ducts and distribution systems

· Fireplaces

· Air Conditioning and controls

· Heat Pumps and controls

· Safety items such as means of egress, TPRV valves, railings, etc.

Other items that are not a part of the standard inspection can be added for an additional fee:

· Radon Gas Test

· Water Quality Test

· Termite Inspection (usually performed by a separate company)

· Gas Line Leak Test (usually performed by the gas company)

· Sprinkler System Test

· Swimming Pool and Spa Inspection

· Mold Screening (sometimes performed by a separate company)

· Septic System Inspection (usually performed by a separate company)

· Alarm System (usually performed by a separate company)

We recommend getting a Radon Test if your prospective home falls into an area of the country with known Radon seepage, since Radon gas produces cancer second only to cigarette smoking and can be easily mitigated by installing a vent system. We also recommend a water test to make sure you do not have bacteria in the water supply. Water can also be tested for Radon.

What is not included in the inspection?

Most people assume that everything is inspected in depth on inspection day. This misunderstanding has caused many a homebuyer to be upset with their inspector. The inspections we do are not exhaustive and there is a good reason for this. If you hired someone with licenses for heating and cooling, electrical, plumbing, engineering, etc. to inspect your house, it would take about 14 hours and cost you about $2000! It is much more practical to hire a professional inspector who has generalist knowledge of home systems, knows what to look for, and can recommend further inspection by a specialist if needed. Your inspector is also following very specific guidelines as he/she inspects your home. These are either national guidelines (ASHI – American Society of Home Inspectors, InterNACHI – International Association of Certified Home Inspectors) or state guidelines. These guidelines are carefully written to protect both your home and the inspector. Here are some examples: We are directed to not turn systems on if they were off at the time of the inspection (safety reasons); we are not allowed to move furniture (might harm something); not allowed to turn on water if it is off (possible flooding), and not allowed to break through a sealed attic hatch (possible damage). The downside of this practice is that by not operating a control, by not seeing under the furniture, and not getting into the attic or crawlspace, we will might miss identifying a problem. However, put into perspective, the chances of missing something serious because of this is quite low, and the guideline as it relates to safety and not harming anything in the home is a good one. There are other items that 95% of inspectors consider outside a normal inspection, and these include inspecting most things that are not bolted down (installed in the home) such as electronics, low voltage lighting, space heaters, portable air conditioners, or specialized systems such as water purifiers, alarm systems, etc.

What if there are things you can’t inspect (like snow on the roof)?

It just so happens that some days the weather elements interfere with a full home inspection! There isn’t much we can do about this either. If there is snow on the roof we will tell you we were unable to inspect it. Of course we will be looking at the eves and the attic, and any other areas where we can get an idea of condition, but we will write in the report that we could not inspect the roof. It is impractical for us to return another day once the snow melts, because we have full schedules. However, you can usually pay an inspector a small fee to return and inspect the one or two items they were unable to inspect when they were there the first time. This is just the way things go. If you ask the inspector for a re-inspection, they will usually inspect the items then at no extra charge (beyond the re-inspection fee).

Will the inspector walk on the roof?

The inspector will walk on the roof if it is safe, accessible, and strong enough so that there is no damage done to it by walking on it. Some roofs – such as slate and tile, should not be walked on. Sometimes because of poor weather conditions, extremely steep roofs, or very high roofs, the inspector will not be able to walk the roof. The inspector will try to get up to the edge though, and will also use binoculars where accessibility is a problem. They will also examine the roof from the upper windows if that is possible. There is a lot the inspector can determine from a visual examination from a ladder and from the ground, and they will be able to tell a lot more from inside the attic about the condition of the roof as well.

Should I have my house tested for Radon? What exactly is Radon?

In many areas of the country, the answer is a definite yes. You can ask your real estate agent about this or go on to the internet for a radon map of the country. Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas that’s formed during the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. Radon exits the ground and can seep into your home through cracks and holes in the foundation. Radon gas can also contaminate well water.

Health officials have determined that radon gas is a serious carcinogen that can cause lung cancer, second only to cigarette smoking. The only way to find out if your house contains radon gas is to perform a radon measurement test, which your home inspector can do. Make sure the person conducting your test has been trained to The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) or The National Radon Safety Board (NRSB) standards.

What about a newly constructed home? Does it need a home inspection?

Yes! In fact, we find far more problems, some quite serious, in newly constructed homes than in homes that have been lived in for years. This is not due to your builder’s negligence – he/she has done the best job they could with subcontractors and planning – it’s just that there are so many systems in a home, that it is close to impossible to inspect everything, and correct it before the Certificate of Occupancy is issued. Then, for some reason, the subcontractors no longer want to work on the home, and final jobs and details are missed. We recommend getting several professional home inspections near the completion stages of the home to discover everything that should be corrected. If the house is still new but sitting for a while before sale, it’s even more important to get a home inspection. We have seen water lines not hooked up, plumbing lines not hooked up, sewer lines not hooked up, vents not hooked up, and a variety of other serious but easily correctable problems!

I am having a home built. The builder assures me he will inspect everything. Should I have an independent inspector make periodic inspections?

Absolutely yes! No matter how good your builder is, he/she WILL miss things. They are so concerned with the house, they get so close to their work, as do the subcontractors, that important items can, and will be, overlooked. Have a professional inspector make at least 4-6 interim inspections. They will be worth their weight in gold.

What is the Pre-Inspection Agreement?

Most service professionals have a service agreement, and home inspection is no different. In fact, there is enough confusion about what a home inspection should deliver that the agreement is even more important. Some homeowners who get a home inspection expect everything in the home to be perfect after the repairs. This is not the case! Imagine getting a call from a homeowner a year later who says the toilet is not flushing – remember that the inspection is a moment in time snapshot. In the inspection agreement the inspector is clear about what the inspection delivers and the things that are not covered, as well as what you should do if you are not pleased with the services. We really think that by reviewing this before-hand you will understand much more about the inspection and be happier with the results. A home inspection does not guard against future problems, nor does it guarantee that all problems will be found.

What kind of report will I get following the inspection?

There are as many versions of a “report” as there are inspection companies. Guidelines dictate that the inspector deliver a written report to the client. This can range from a handwritten checklist that has multiple press copies without pictures and 4 pages long to a computer generated professionally produced report with digital pictures that is 35 pages long and can be converted to Adobe PDF for storage and emailing. Be sure to check with your inspector about the report he or she uses. We recommend the computer generated report, since the checklist is more detailed and easier for the homeowner/buyer/seller to detail out the issues with photographs. In this modern age, we feel the reports must be web accessible and e-mailable to match the technologies most of us are using.

There are some great things you can use the report for in addition to the wealth of information it simply gives you on your new home:

· Use the report as a checklist and guide for the contractor to make repairs and improvements or get estimates and quotes from more than one contractor.

· Use the report as a budgeting tool using the inspector’s recommendations and the remaining expected life of components to keep the property in top shape.

· If you are a seller, use the report to make repairs and improvements, raising the value of the home and impressing the buyers. Then have a re-inspection and use this second report as a marketing tool for prospective buyers.

· Use the report as a “punch list” on a re-inspection and as a baseline for ongoing maintenance.

Will the report be emailable or available as an Adobe PDF file?

Yes. As discussed in the last question, you will probably want your inspector to be using the latest reporting technology.

What if I think the inspector missed something?

Inspectors are human, and yes, they do miss items. However, they routinely use advanced tools and techniques to reduce the possibility that they will miss something. This includes very detailed checklists, reference manuals, computer based lists, and a methodical always-done-the-same-way of physically moving around your home. That is one of the reasons that an inspector can miss an item when they get interrupted. The inspector will have a set way of resuming the inspection if this happens. If, in the end, something IS missed, call the inspector and discuss it. It may warrant the inspector returning to view something that you found. Remember, the inspector is doing the very best job they know how to do, and probably did not miss the item because they were lax in their technique or did not care.

What if the inspector tells me I should have a professional engineer or a licensed plumber or other professional contractor in to look at something they found? Isn’t this “passing the buck”?

You may be disappointed that further investigation is required, but, believe us, your inspector is doing exactly what they should be doing. The purpose of the inspection is to discover defects that affect your safety and the functioning of the home; the inspector is a generalist, not a specialist. Our code of ethics as well as national and state guidelines dictate that only contractors that are licensed in their specialty field should work on these systems and areas. When they tell you that a specialist is needed, there may be a bigger, more critical issue that you need to know about. If you move into the home without getting these areas checked by a qualified specialist, you could be in for some nasty and expensive surprises. The inspector does not want to cause you any more expense or worry either, so when they do recommend further evaluation they are being serious about protecting you and your investment.

Will the inspector provide a warranty on the inspected items?

Most inspectors do not give the homeowner a warranty on inspected items. Remember, a home inspection is a visual examination on a certain day, and the inspector cannot predict what issues could arise over time after the inspection. However, some inspectors are now including a warranty from the largest home warranty company in America – American Home Warranty Corporation, as well as others, on the inspected items for 60 or 90 days. This is a very good deal, and the agreement can be extended after the initial period for a relatively small amount of money.

Do most inspection companies offer money back guarantees?

Most inspection companies do not offer a satisfaction guarantee nor do they mention it in their advertising. It’s always a good thing if you can get extra services for no additional cost from your inspection company, and of course a satisfaction guarantee is an indication of superior customer service. You usually have to call your inspection company right after the inspection and viewing of the report to tell them you are not satisfied. If you are not happy with the services, you should talk to your inspector first and let him/her correct the issue(s) you are unhappy with first, as the inspector is trying to make an honest living just like the rest of us, and is not failing you on purpose.

What if my report comes back with nothing really defective in the home? Should I ask for my money back?

No, don’t ask for your money back – you just received great news! Now you can complete your home purchase with peace of mind about the condition of the property and all its equipment and systems. You will have valuable information about your new home from the inspector’s report, and will want to keep that information for future reference. Most importantly, you can feel assured that you are making a well-informed purchase decision.

What if the inspection reveals serious defects?

If the inspection reveals serious defects in the home (we define a serious defect as something that will cost more than 2% of the purchase price to fix) then pat yourself on the back for getting an inspection. You just saved yourself a ton of money. Of course it is disappointing, even heart wrenching, to find out that your well researched house is now a problem house, but you now know the facts and can either negotiate with the seller, or move on. You may want the home so much that it will be worth it to negotiate the price and then perform the repairs. Imagine, though, if you had not gotten the inspection – you would have had some very unpleasant surprises.

Can I ask my home inspector to perform the repairs?

You can, but if your inspector is ethical, he/she will refuse, and correctly so; it is a conflict of interest for the person who inspected your home to also repair it! Inspectors are specifically barred from this practice by licensing authorities, and it’s a good practice – an inspector must remain completely impartial when he or she inspects your home. This is one reason you should have a professional home inspector inspect your home and not a contractor – the contractor will want the repair work and you are likely to not have an objective inspection from this person even though they mean well and are technically competent.

Does the Seller have to make the repairs?

The inspection report results do not place an obligation on the seller to repair everything mentioned in the report. Once the home condition is known, the buyer and the seller should sit down and discuss what is in the report. The report will be clear about what is a repair and what is a discretionary improvement. This area should be clearly negotiated between the parties. It’s important to know that the inspector must stay out of this discussion because it is outside of their scope of work.

After the home inspection and consulting with the seller on the repairs, can I re-employ the inspector to come re-inspect the home to make sure everything got fixed?

You certainly can, and it’s a really good idea. For a small fee the inspector will return to determine if the repairs were completed, and if they were completed correctly.

What if I find problems after I move into my new home?

A home inspection is not a guarantee that problems won’t develop after you move in. However, if you believe that a problem was visible at the time of the inspection and should have been mentioned in the report, your first step should be to call the inspector. He or she will be fine with this, and does want you to call if you think there is a problem. If the issue is not resolved with a phone call, they will come to your home to look at it. They will want you to be satisfied and will do everything they can to do this. One way to protect yourself between the inspection and the move-in is to conduct a final walkthrough on closing day and use both the inspection report AND a Walkthrough Checklist to make sure everything is as it should be.

Copyright 2010 by Lisa P. Turner

Great Books – How-To Wisdom Resides in Books

Learning how to do things is the way we all grow and develop as humans. Using guidebooks helps shorten the learning curve of acquiring knowledge.

With the amount of information available today, you can learn and do just about anything- from how to build a deck to finding your dream home in another country.

How-to books teach you with the printed word, pictures, graphs and give you the option to return to the page before if your memory is failing you in a moment of need.

Shopping for these printed knowledge volumes is easy and available in a number of ways for purchase. Checking through thrift stores, garage sales, and online for new and used books is a great way to start. Some projects are timeless and even nostalgic and for this one of the old how to books will be filled with information in the old ways and sometimes the best ways to complete a project.

Be sure to choose wisely for your project. If updated information and material is available with the progress of technology and information, you will need to buy a newer book. With updated information you will find the healthiest, easiest and best way to grow plants, paint, or do your own medical research.

Information is continually changing and improving. As the books and learning tools become available you can begin a new project with the right look for you or the best way to construct something new in your life. Book stores carry the newest books available and if they do not have one you need they are willing to special order in most any category.

Some topics are classics. How to sing, or make soap, or darn a sock can be learned from older books.

If you are looking for lessons on car repair and maintenance, check with your local auto parts dealer or online for information about your model of vehicle. You will need to know the model, make, year and many time engine size and design. Once you find the book you need you can order it online or place a special order at the parts department.

For information regarding gardening, plants, herbs and sustainable living some book stores will have a special section. Updated information and old ways are now combined in many newer books. You can choose from larger farming income projects to specialized growing techniques for a certain flower such as roses or iris.

Books for herbal medicine are written for the local grower for raising herbs in pots or small gardening areas to promote good health. You can learn how to mix herbs for best results or what each herb by itself is good for. Herbs can be used to fight headaches, stomach problems and improve general health.

These DIY (do it yourself) books are a great way to learn something new. Don’t be afraid to teach yourself. You have many teachers who have gone before you and now impart their wisdom in the form of how-to books.

Fixing Bathtub Chips and Scratches

There’s nothing quite like being able to ease back into a hot bath at the end of a long and exhausting day. You might like to read a book or listen to some relaxing music, or you might just like to do nothing at all and let your mind forget the worries of the day. The bath is not only a wonderful place in which to relax, it is also an attractive fixture in your bathroom and so it is good to know that it is easy to fix most chips and scratches that may ruin its appearance.

You may have a beautiful old acrylic bath, one that you have treasured for years, and that you thoroughly enjoy. Now if it gets a scratch, it will be the same as if your car got a scratch. It is an obvious flaw that will eat away at your patience with every glance you take. So, just like a car, you can apply car polish and gently apply it to the surface using a soft cloth.

This is great news, but if you get a small chip, this can look a lot more serious, and you may be worried that this is the end of your beautiful bath’s appearance. But no, again just like a car, you can fix it with a two-part car repair filler. This may seem very odd, but it works a treat and is a lot cheaper than having a specialist come and fix the bath. Mix the filler as per the instructions, just as if you were applying to a car, and mix in a small amount of acrylic paint so that it is the same color as the bath tub. Apply the filler and leave it to harden, then use a very fine wet and dry sandpaper, keeping it wet while you sand. Just make sure that you do this very carefully as you don’t want to scratch another part of your bath.

Sadly, if a big piece is missing from the tub, a professional is needed. When they come, make sure that you get a quote for the repair as this can be quite expensive.

The answer for tiny scratches in a traditional bathtub is more intriguing. You can use nail polish. Yes, it’s true, everyday nail polish. Even though enamel is very hard and has a surface like glass, you’ll find that if it is hit, it can chip. If this results in a larger chip, then you’ll need to use an epoxy resin repair kit, but make sure that there is no rust first as you will need to get rid of this using a rust remover. Then after applying and wiping away any excess, you’ll need to leave the bath for an hour before smoothing with a fine sandpaper, again taking great care not to damage other areas of the bath tub. You can then use enamel paint, sanding in between each application until you have achieved the same color as the rest of the bath tub.

If your tub requires a new surface, it is possible to do it alone. However if you are new to plumbing, it is suggested that a professional handle the problem. Make sure that you talk about whether the contractors will work on site or if they will take the tub away with them. If you decide to do the job alone, be sure to have on appropriate clothing and use sealing material on every air opening in the room to prevent bugs and dirt from ruining all of your hard work.