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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.…

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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?…

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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…

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Home Maintenance

Wood Flooring – Types and Caring For Your Floor

Wood flooring has continued to be the most popular choice of flooring for a house. This is because it gives a feeling of warmth and adds value to ones home. There is a wide range of wood flooring options available for you to choose from.
You may use wood in almost all parts of your home except for the kitchen and bathroom where wood is not advisable to use due to moisture retention. If you are searching for the type of wood that you will use, you should consider the overall decor and theme of your home.
Choices in Wood Flooring
The most common choice of wood flooring is the hardwood. Some popular hardwood choices are hickory, oak, maple, cherry, Bella wood, and walnut. They come in different colors and shades. Cherry and walnut do not need to be applied with artificial colors as they have natural rich tone.
After you have chosen which type of wood you will use, you have to decide on the floor finish that you will apply. You may opt to buy pre-finished wood with clear coating as protection. Purchasing pre-finished may require you a huge budget but you will definitely save a lot of time and effort.
If you do not want to buy pre-finished, you may choose to do the finishing yourself. After installing the floor, you need to apply urethane as protective coating. You may need to apply several coats of urethane for a more durable floor. After every coat, you should sand the floor for a smoother surface. It takes several days for this process to complete.
Another option that you may consider is distressed or reclaimed flooring. Though this type of floor does not have smooth feel, it is naturally beautiful and has a unique character. One advantage of this type is that scratches do not easily manifest unlike in urethane flooring.
Aside from the traditional flooring choices, another option is laminate flooring. It looks like real hardwood and can be bought at cheaper price. Armstrong Flooring is one company that offers laminates of high quality. Bamboo and cork flooring are also other options.
Proper Care of Wood Flooring
Whatever type of flooring you choose to have in your home, you can make your wood flooring durable and last longer by giving it the proper care and maintenance. Below are some care tips for a long lasting wood floor.
1. Remove dirt and dust by regularly sweeping or vacuuming the floor. Do not let your floor accumulate dirt and dust as this may cause scratches on the floor.
2. Put mats at the entrance doors to minimize dirt from entering your house.
3. Gently clean the floor with mop when needed. Use a nearly dry mop instead of wet one. Water may be retained in the floor causing it to wear out over time. Molds may also grow in between the slats of the wood, which will eventually damage your floor.…

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Home Maintenance

How to Decorate Your House and Make It a Home

Do you want a makeover for your home? It is always very important to make sure that you make your home the best place to live in. this is the reason why you need to choose the best d?�cor for your rooms as well as other parts of your house.
These days you can select a special theme for your room and you can decorate your room based on that theme. You need to choose the color and design as well as the accessories based on that theme.
There are various companies which can help you plan about the home d?�cor. There are certain steps of choosing the accessories as well as colors and designs for your room. The first thing that you need to do is plan everything properly.
Planning is very important because it helps you decide your budget. You need to find out how much you are ready to spend on the decorations. You can then choose the company, the items as well as the decorations according to the budget.
When you choose a home d?�cor company you must provide them with your budget so that they can provide you with decoration plan on that budget. Always choose a one stop shopping center for these items. You can get decorative artwork for your room. You can also choose from a wide range of decorative candles.
You also have the option of choosing throw pillows and throw blankets. You must choose each of these items according to the color and style of your room. It is very important to match all the items present inside the room.
If you choose a d?�cor for your bedroom then make sure you pay attention to your bed sheet, quilts and blankets. They must match the color and other items present in your bedroom. If you check out the brochure of these home d?�cor companies you will find different kinds of themes available for d?�cor.
Some of the popular themes are classic d?�cor, ceramic decoration, and wicker decoration, tin and pewter decoration, storage d?�cor, fun and games d?�cor, fruit d?�cor and much more.
Other than the accessories and the colors you also need to make sure that you pay proper attention to the doors and windows. Door and window treatment can help you make your house look more beautiful and attractive. Choose the best wallpapers that suit the color and the accessories present in your room.
These wallpapers are available with these companies. Try to get a set of good curtains for your study because this will help you adorn the place. You can also choose contrasting colors for the walls of your rooms. This d?�cor is simple as well as cost effective.…

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Home Maintenance

How To Make The Most Of Your Septic Tank

Disposal of sewage has been a problem for hundreds of years – ever since man ceased to be nomadic.
From outside privies to earth toilets to septic tanks and now, sewage treatment plants. Our first house was an old house with an outdoor earth toilet. Even my primary school had outside earth toilets and that was as recent as 1964. Many drained the liquid effluent directly into ditches and caused massive pollution. Even London did not have a sewer system until 1869
Common sense can maintain a septic system very easily
Here are some of my tips for septic tank care.
Don’t flush anything that is non-degradable or anti-bacterial.
Spread out the laundry over several days of the week.
Use the correct amount of water and detergent for each load of laundry.
Don’t have your rain run off, guttering and drainage drain directly into the septic tank.
Scrap food scraps into the waste bin or compost instead of down the sink.
Don’t overload the water supply into the system.
Or don’t use the washing machine, dishwasher and drain a bathtub all at the same time. Soakaway field failures are incredibly common and can cost thousands to replace.
Being kind to the septic system keeps it healthy and relatively maintenance free.
Avoid planting trees in the leach field. Roots will block drainage system.
Be very careful of the chemicals and additives you add to your system. If you have a problem, read the labels and make sure you are using the correct additive for the problem.
Regular emptying will remove the solids (and is usually more frequent on systems with unhealthy or dead bacteria) this allows you a chance for an checkup of the condition of the tank.
One of the things to avoid is allowing grease and fabric detergents to accumulate in my septic system. This is easy to do. Grease and fats are disposed of in the rubbish bin. Detergents are another matter. If you are going to use a laundry detergent, read the label and use the correct amount. Clothes do not get cleaner with two scoops. The alternative was my discovery of the laundry product ‘Eco-Balls’, this eliminates the need for any laundry soap or detergent, also a side benefit is you don’t use hot h2o any more (a significant saving).
Should you have problems with your septic tank, consider installing a sewage treatment plant instead. These can discharge directly into a ditch, stream or river and are a far cheaper alternative to installing a new soakaway.…

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Home Maintenance

Are You Worried About Your Roof? Get Great Tips Here.

Your roof is your first and best line of defense against the elements. This is reason why you must keep it maintained properly. Many people do not bother to take care of their roofs, only to experience major problems later on. Make sure your home’s roof stays strong by applying the tips that follow.

Don’t hesitate to replace shingles. Waiting can just allow the damage to worsen. Replacing or repairing shingles immediately can save money and stress later. Prevention is key.

It is crucial that you make repairs right the first time. That means you don’t stop with the first spot you find which has a problem. Look at the whole roof and you might see that several areas are causing the leak.

When choosing a roofer to work on your home, be sure they have liability insurance. Insurance is a sign of a reliable contractor. Secondly, the insurance will cover any damage to your roof that is caused by the roofer.

Unless you are required to, do not pay up front. You may have to pay around 25% of the amount to get the job started, but try not to pay more than that. If the job is paid for in full, the roofers may not do their best work.

Be certain your roofing contractor is properly licensed. If you don’t know what’s required, find out for yourself. Contact your local building department and ask them what is needed.

The age of your roof is a good indication of whether it needs replacing or not. Most roofs only have twenty years or so before they must be replaced. If your roof was installed on top of an old roof, you really have no choice once twenty years has passed but to replace it.

Don’t buy cheap roofing materials. The initial cost savings of low priced materials cannot outweigh the cost of the damage and repairs that substandard materials lead to.

When replacing the roof, consider shingles that are architectural. These are much better-looking than regular shingles and last longer, too. Buyers love these shingles, so they can even add value when you choose to sell your house.

Always be sure that you inspect your roof after there has been a lot of wind in your area. You need to be able to see if there are any damaged shingles quickly so that you don’t have to deal with leaks. Do a quick, safe check every time.

Ask a ton of questions when hiring a roofer. You do not want to leave a question unasked and have the issue get out of hand down the road. If your potential contractor waffles on any questions, look in another direction.

Get several quotes before you pick a contractor to replace or repair the roof. Some of them are looking to scam customers and get all the money they can from you. Don’t let yourself get taken advantage of. Do some research before you make any hiring decisions.

As you can see, properly maintaining your roof is essential if you want to keep yourself and your property safe. Make sure you apply the advice found above to keep your home in good shape. The time and money you spend will definitely be worth it.…