5 Secrets Your Contractor Doesn’t Want You to Know
By: Oliver Marks
Published: July 5, 2012
You think of your contractor as an ally and partner — but he’s a primarily a businessman who may not reveal all. Here’s how to level the playing field.
1. He's desperate for your business
As tough as the economy has been overall, the construction industry has been in far worse shape. While the national unemployment rate has hovered around 8%, for construction workers it’s been a whopping 17% and higher.
What you should do: It doesn’t mean you should play hardball with your contractor on his price (because he might cut corners on the job if you do), but if you ask for an itemized bid, and explain that you're getting them from a few contractors, he's
8 Tips to Make Your Remodel More Energy Efficient and Your Home Healthier
By: Dona DeZube
Published: October 18, 2012
As long as you’re remodeling, why not cut your utility bill and make your home a bit healthier?
Saving energy wasn’t on the list of reasons we’re finally ripping out the kitchen in our mid-century home (green-veined, imitation marble laminate countertops figured much more prominently). But, a session at the recent 2012 Remodeling Show in Baltimore clued me in as to why adding a few simple tasks to our remodeling plan could lower our home’s energy bill, get rid of some of the annoying hot and cold spots in our house, and make our home less hospitable to mold and other allergens.
Lobbying for change in your homeowners association’s rules requires procedure, compromise, and perhaps joining the board.
Each HOA, a volunteer group of neighbors who manage common areas of a subdivision, creates its own covenants, conditions, and restrictions. These CC&Rs cover resident behavior (no glass containers around the pool), property management (no fences higher than 8 feet) and common responsibilities (fee schedules and fines for non-compliance).
Average annual dues for a homeowners association is $420, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And there's value in the fee. A 2005 study, which appeared in the Cato Institute's
How deep do you go when cleaning for holiday guests? There are some who take it to the extreme — but you can have a clean home without going overboard.
If you think wiping down countertops and fluffing a few pillows in advance of the guest onslaught will land you on Santa’s “nice” list this holiday season, check that list twice. The extreme cleaners (telephone buttons! vacuum brushes! remote controls!) featured in this New York Times article may make you feel like a slacker.
But you can bring your home to sparkling guest-readiness without going overboard. A few tips from the "Times" will keep your home merry, bright, and clean: