No Picture
Home Maintenance

Are Home Appliances and System Insurance (Warranties) Worthwhile?

Homeowners have the opportunity to buy home appliance and system warranties that are also known as Appliance and System Insurance. But, these “warranties” are not insurance policies. They are service contracts that cover your home appliances and systems such as heating ventilation, air-conditioning, hot water, electrical and plumbing systems. There is a great deal of debate among financial advisors and consumer advocates as to whether or not the service contracts make sense. Frankly, the decision is highly personal depending on many factors the most important one being, how risk averse are you?

What Isn’t Covered

These service contracts do not replace homeowners insurance and will not protect you against fire, a tree crashing through your roof or other perils covered by your homeowners insurance policy. Service contracts do not give you any liability coverage in the event that someone is harmed on your property.

Most service contracts require that in order for an item to be covered it must be properly maintained. This means for items such as your furnace and hot water heater you may be asked to produce maintenance records should the system need major repair or replacement.

What is Covered

Homeowners can choose levels of coverage.

Level I may only cover major appliances such as refrigerators and stones.

Level II may offer more protection by covering appliances and heating ventilation and air-conditioning systems.

Level III may provide the most extensive insurance by covering all the items in level II as well as homeowner’s entire electrical system and plumbing system.

When Does a Home Appliance and System Warranty Make Sense?

First let’s discuss when a service contract doesn’t make sense.

Renters never need a service contract

Buyers of new homes where major appliances have warrantees and the structure is covered by a builder’sguarantee do not need to obtain a service contract at this time.

If you’re a homeowner who doesn’t fall into either of the two categories above you may want to consider purchasing a home appliance and system warranty. Assuming you get a full warranty, that is a level III contract, you can expect to pay between $350-$500 per year. If you have a service call you will also pay in the neighborhood of $70 as your deductible. So, if you’re $1600 stainless steel gourmet stove stops working the warranty company will fix it, and if they cannot fix it they will replace it, for a total cost to you of $70 (and of course whatever your premium for the year is).

The warranty company is betting that homeowners will not have major repairs or replacements of appliances or home systems. The homeowner of course is betting that they will. As with all gambling bets one party has the advantage, and in this case it is the home warranty company. Basically the homeowner is protecting himself from a catastrophic loss. The protective nature of the warranty program is often confused with a typical homeowner’s insurance program, again it is not.

Folks who don’t like risk may find comfort with a home warranty program. Homeowners who are not handy may also find peace of mind by obtaining a service contract for appliances and major home systems. Folks in older homes with older appliances have at least an even chance of having to use a home warranty.

If you decide you want to buy a home warranty remember:

It does not replace homeowners insurance

Shopping around is a must

Once you have narrowed your search to a few companies call and ask for references you can speak to–reviews of most home warranty companies are very mixed. If you have questions as to whether your homeowners policy covers certain risks that are duplicated by purchasing a home warranty speak to your independent insurance agent before you make any changes in your comprehensive home insurance policy.…

No Picture
Home Renovation

What is a Home Warranty?

For many people, landing your first real estate is one of the most fulfilling and yet most difficult things to undertake. The purchase of your first home is also one of the highlights in any person’s career because it is often seen as a proof that the person has already attained a sort of financial stability as characterized by the capacity to buy and keep a home. Because of this, one of the best practices is to purchase your first real estate with a home warranty.
Your money’s worth
A home warranty is a contract that is often provided by major real estate agents to ensure that you will get your money’s worth behind one of your most major purchases – your home. Here, a contract is signed between you and the agent or party where you bought your home. Any breakdown in the major systems in your house during the time specified in the warranty agreement will be replaced or fixed by the warranty insurance provider. Thus, the home warranty is one of the best ways to ensure that your real estate will be an investment worth the time and effort you have exerted to acquiring it.
For quality investments
The home warranty is often used in conjunction with the home inspector as a means for someone looking to invest in real estate to ensure the quality of the home to be purchases. In home inspectors, the basic idea is to ensure that the home is in a good enough condition to ensure that there will be no major breakdowns after the house has been bought. In the same way, the warranty works to ensure your safety in the case of a home system breakdown, but in this case, after the property has been bought. One of the first things that an experienced real estate buyer will tell the novice real estate buyer or investor is that with houses, what you see is not always what you get. With minimal costs laid out for a paint job, some houses may seem to look like absolute beauties. However, there are sometimes unforeseen and unwanted details that tend to show up only after the purchase. The warranty is a safety net against these.
Other important reminders
Some other important reminders when it comes to home warranties is that these contracts can be used in any number of times by the homeowner, as long as the home system breakdown occurs during the time frame covered by the insurance. Equally important to keep in mind, however, is that the coverage of the home warranty differs from one type of home warranty plan to the next. For this, it is important that you look into the fine print in your contract to see where your home warranty works and where it doesn’t. In general, however, the home warranty does not cover the home system breakdowns that occur as an effect of negligence or improper use of certain appliances. Also, the home warranty will not cover faulty or improper installation of basic home systems, as this will eventually lead to a breakdown.
Now that you know the various means to safeguard something as valuable as your real estate, the next step is to go about canvassing for you first real estate purchase.…

No Picture
Home Renovation

Laminate Flooring: An Attractive Alternative To Hardwood Floor

Explore the maximum range of contemporary flooring solutions before you make up your mind to go for a type. For example, they may be wood flooring, hardwood flooring, bamboo flooring, and laminate flooring, among several other varieties. Choose the one that is a better fit and trendy at the same time.
Durability, suitability, adaptability, and, of course, affordability are the primary concerns for the persons who are planning to give their floors a modern and divine look. If they keep focusing on only hardwood flooring, or bamboo flooring, it is necessary for them to look into the worth of laminate flooring too that can precisely value their investment. This flooring variety has proven to be incredibly durable and bears similarity in terms of looks with hardwood. Most interestingly, making a difference between them from their apparent visibility is next to impossible.
Despite the fact that laminate looks like hardwood, this flooring product does not involve any wood component! It is manufactured by mixing several materials under high pressure. This production process gives them a durability and resilience that actual hardwood is simply devoid of. Most laminate floors have a moisture resistant layer too and this enhances the longevity of the floor. So, if durability is your primary concern, then you could find no better flooring option than that you find in laminate variety. Does it sound to be disbelieving? Then, try it for a smaller space first and check the difference!
Again, when it comes to the construction of the top layer, laminate type excels other types too. A resin-coated cellulose compound is applied over their photographic representations and that helps protect surface appearance. This makes cleaning much easier as opposed to the cleaning process required for the hardwood floors. To clean the latter type of flooring needs their owners to be aware of the cleaning process to the full. Otherwise, the chances of damaging floor finishes like getting scratches, or water moistness, are quite higher. Flooring experts, therefore, suggest buyers to go for the laminate flooring solutions when they intend to install such floors in a high traffic area or on the floor of a bathroom or of a kitchen. In such places, laminate flooring products would fit most suitably.
Budget is a big factor for interior decoration. Affording to an unforeseen budget can be an absurd idea for most of the people who desire to get their commercial or domestic places renovated or decorated with modern flooring products. To the great relief for all of them, laminate type might give them the solution to cut the bills without bringing any major changes over the overall appearance. Everyone must agree with that laminate is simply much less expensive than solid hardwood floors. Furthermore, such products do not require refinishing when other types do once in a while.
If you are a do-it-yourself (DIY) fan, you will be enthused to learn that laminate flooring is the easiest way to get it done. Such products snap easily together while providing you with a cheaper alternative that offers you a great sense of pride. Installation of such a floor with both below grade and above grade is possible all the more.
In the midst of growing penchant for green and concerns for preserving eco-friendly options in all fields, be it even in interior and exterior renovations or decorations, this flooring solution can indeed be a bit more environmentally sound, because it needs less wooden fiber in its construction. And, the amount of fiber it does use is used in efficient manner.
Indeed, it is the laminate only that can give the buyers effective, attractive, less expensive and incredibly durable flooring solutions. In addition to them, the eco-friendly aspect is duly maintained. So, when it comes to choosing a flooring solution, explore the flooring market thoroughly so that you can install the one that may continue to respect your value investment.…

No Picture
Home Repair

Simple Steps To Redesigning Your Home

The idea of overhauling the design of your home completely is one that horrifies some homeowners; the potentially huge costs, the amount of work involved and the state of the home whilst work is ongoing are just three of the potential stumbling blocks. Another, perhaps more overlooked factor, is people’s fear of interior design.
Interior design is often seen as a bit of a closed shop, what with various designers being paid millions for their work. This is somewhat of an assumption however; with a bit of basic knowledge, some help from a specialist and interior design software, planning your ideal bedroom, bathroom or kitchen is simple and more importantly, fun.
The first step to good interior design is having a decent idea of what you have to work with, and what you will be using it for. Be realistic about the amount of space you have and use it creatively; as much as you may love a particular set of units, if they’re going to overwhelm the room then there is no point in having them.
Consider what you’re going to be using your rooms for – the bedroom, for example, will require a bed, storage space for clothing and other items and whatever else you may have (televisions, weights, etc). Kitchens will usually have a cooker, a microwave and a sink as well as other appliances so think about what you’re going to need before you go ahead and plan your rooms.
The fun part of interior design is choosing a decorative theme for your home. Bedrooms are particularly great to plan, with potential influences ranging from Edwardian classic style to space-age futuristic designs! Kitchens and bathroom design tends to be more conservative but still, be expressive – you want your home to reflect the personality of the people living in it.
Come up with a few rough ideas and designs for your home – these won’t be of a professional standard but at this point it doesn’t matter. Measure out your home and draw up some rough floor plans. From there, you can go as wild as you like! Experiment with placement of items, taking measurements into account, until you have a layout you like.
Another good idea is to draw some pictures visualising the design as you see it in your head. Whilst this may sound like a futile task if you aren’t particularly artistic, working from a visualisation is far easier than trying to describe a visual task in words.
The final step is to go along to a specialist store or call a designer to work out your design using home design software. This may seem like a bit of a step backwards considering you’ve done a lot yourself but the benefits of home design software are massive and should help flag up any design issues. Generally this software is expensive and requires training, so working with a specialist is recommended.
Interior design software allows you to create 3D visualisations of your dream designs by placing objects in various positions and playing around with designs and furniture. It actually goes beyond this too, going as far as to show where shadows would be cast and reflections on floors and surfaces. Using interior design software is the only way to truly see what your design would look like in practise before going ahead with it.
After you’ve finalised the design of your rooms and finished playing around with the software (it can be a lot of fun!), the final step on your path to the perfect home is to get quotes on the redesign and finalise the furniture and items that’ll make up your dream design. Happy designing!…

No Picture
Home Maintenance

2011 Home Design Color Trends

As a Designer it’s so important to be well versed on all upcoming home design and renovation trends – from building trends to paint colors and everything in between. Benjamin Moore’s 2011 Color Forecast was released to Architects and Designers last month – and I wanted to share their findings with you.
Each year the color expert team at Benjamin Moore declares their predictions for the upcoming year by tracking the more recent social, cultural and political conditions and how they directly impact fashion and design trends. What they discovered was an overwhelming desire for a sense of balance coupled with four underlying themes: The Farm, Order, Escape and Tribe.
1. The Farm
There is a major focus on hearth and home for obvious reasons and most are anchoring themselves within a new reality. Earthy colors straight from the farm will be dominating interiors this year. Just take a look at your local Farmers Market for inspiration. From earthy browns, buttery yellows and milky whites – to tomatoes, pumpkins and greens.
Also look for handcrafted fabrics, burlaps, tea-stained materials, and all types of petrified, bleached and natural woods – which suggests a return to life’s simpler things.
2. Order
We are craving a sense of balance and order from the chaos of the past couple of years. This is interpreted by infusing red, blues, yellows and greens to juxtapose with more monochromatic variations of black, white and gray. Geometric patterns with crisp stripes, dots and spirals uplift our spirit and improve our mood. These days it’s all about making ourselves feel happy.
3. Escape
The world has been a little harsh lately so escaping into a dream world full of hope and optimism for the future- is extremely appealing at the moment. The dreamy glamour of sheer draped fabrics, metallic finishes and softened textures coupled with a more pale, frosted and opalescent color palette can be just the remedy for overcoming adversity.
4. Tribe
A focus back to our ethnic communities and much like the farm, we are aching to return to the simpler things in life yet in a more soulful way. The spicy color palette of the land such as rich berry, cinnamon, saffron and fire orange are anchored with bronzes and charcoals. There is a huge focus on patterns, stencils, hand embroidery and beading,
So how will you seek that order and balance in your life? Will you be returning to the hearth, escaping into your dreams or focusing on your community when gathering your home design inspiration for this year?…

No Picture
Home Contractors

Design Your Dream House With a Purpose

There are well over a million new housing “starts” in the United States each year, but only a small fraction of those houses are custom designed. It’s a sad thing. Your house is the largest single investment most people make in their lifetime. Your house has a major impact on you and your family. It’s not just an object, it’s your home. It’s the environment you occupy and interact with during a larger portion of your life than anywhere else. And we are all shaped and influenced by our environment.
“But I can’t afford a custom house design,” you say. Well that may be so, but even if you are selecting from standard plans or picking out a plan from a book of house designs, you can make better choices and understand what your perfect house can be by learning a little about what constitutes good design. You need to raise your level of awareness.
As an architect I am often asked, what is the most important consideration when you design a house? In my opinion, the single most important quality is that there needs to be purposefulness to the plan. In order to achieve this, your home plan should have a main theme or concept as the core of the design plan. This should lend organization, as well as flow, to your house plan.
The most direct and simple methods of organizing a plan is often the best. One that I have used as a basis of many plans is the classic “four square plan.” The main shape of the house is a square, with an axis that acts as a connector. This is the idea used in the classic “Georgian Style” house. The main rooms of the home are in each of the corner squares, with a hallway and stairwell as the center acting as a connection between rooms on the same floor. The upper floor would also have a similar pattern with bedrooms in the corners, bathroom at the end of the hall. As you walk through a home like this, the spaces feel right since they are organized in a way that makes sense.
Take a look at a typical house plan. It will probably have some of this purposeful organization as the underlying concept. Perhaps the center hall is wider in one area, such as in the foyer. The stairwell may curve, or go off to the side of the center axis. You may find larger room in the rear that still fits in with the organized plan. Try to think about how you want your rooms to fit together and make the spaces flow in an orderly way.
Other organizing concepts are more complex, and may be the right one for you. Thoughtful planning will help you arrive at a meaningful, and purposeful floor plan. No matter what, your house design requires a plan that fulfills your needs. A house may be elaborate and expensive, but without a plan with integrity and unity, it will not feel right. You want to feel settled, content and happy in your home. Design your home with a purposeful plan so that your home becomes a perfect fit for your family.…

No Picture
Home Maintenance

Trends in Public Space Refurbishments

Refurbishments of public spaces can be major issues. They tend to be big budget, and facility managers have to look for cost effectiveness as well as good designs. This is particularly the case in flooring, where large areas have to be managed. Finding the right commercial floor covering is the answer to dealing with these often demanding situations.

Public areas- big spaces and design

One of the most difficult types of public space refurbishment is the typical situation with very large spaces to be redesigned and upgraded. The need is to achieve good long term value, as well as design values. The most effective way of approaching these issues is to use a visualisation system which can explore different flooring options.

Best practice using visualisation technology is to compare a series of design options against the public space setting to get a clear idea of the design factors. You can also compare pattern options, and get a clear idea of the overall space. The additional advantage of visualisation is that you can compare a range of design modes across a big range, allowing a wide range of choices.

Note: The great advantage of visualisation technology is that at the planning and recommendation stages it provides a clear picture of the design options. This both simplifies the description process and provides a clear audit and estimate track for the various choices.

The cost factors- Maintenance, product life and repairs

These public areas are also long term maintenance issues and often have significant budget costs. Durable flooring is a natural issue, because real cost is defined over the life of the product. Maintenance and repairs can add significantly to the cost over time.

Carpets for public spaces need to be easy to maintain. Repairs should be possible using in-house resources, rather than requiring full service for minor issues. This is a cost factor that can’t be ignored, because heavy usage and wear and tear naturally create the possibility of added costs in these areas.

Modular carpet flooring- An all round solution

Modular carpet tiles are the solution to all these issues in one package. This type of carpet is very heavy duty, designer carpet tiling with a huge range of design choices. These are the new generation sustainable carpets, which are based on a new manufacturing paradigm incorporating a full environmentally responsible product life cycle.

There are many major differences with modular carpeting:

Repair and maintenance are very easy, and tiles can be replaced in minutes if required. This drastically reduces real cost over time.

These carpet tiles have individual backing, making them much stronger than old style conventional carpeting.

Design options include a vast range of different styles, including pattern, plain, multiple colours, and variable mixes of design. (This is where you can really appreciate the visualisation process, and look properly at design possibilities.)

Modular carpeting approach has been a big success in universities, commercial flooring, hospitality, retail, health care and education, creating the public spaces of the future…