Friday, November 30, 2007

Choosing new doors for your home.

Friday, November 30, 2007By Paul BianchinaInman News

If you wander down the aisles of any home center or door shop, you'll probably be surprised at how many different doors are available. Add to that the thousands of possible door styles, sizes and jamb combinations you find in the catalogs, and you quickly discover that there is an overwhelming number of choices.

If you're in the market for new or replacement doors for your home, here's a brief overview of some of the basics to help with your shopping.

1. Hollow Core: A hollow-core door has two flat or formed panels on the outside faces, which are attached to a wooden frame around the door's perimeter. Inside the door, between the perimeter frame pieces, are pieces of wood, cardboard or other material placed on edge to help stiffen the panels. Hollow-core doors are used for interiors only, and are less expensive than solid-core doors.

2. Solid Core: A solid-core door does not have any hollow voids inside it, and may be either flush or panel as described below. Solid-core doors are appropriate for both interior and exterior use, and help provide both security and sound-deadening qualities.

3. Flush Door: A flush door is one with flat sheets of various materials on the two outside faces, secured to an inner frame of wood or other material. Flush doors may be either hollow-core or solid-core, and the sheets may be paint-grade hardboard, veneer or steel, stain-grade hardwood or softwood, or fiberglass.

4. Panel Door: A true panel door is comprised of a framework of individual interlocking strips of wood, with solid wood panels inset into the framework. Because all the panels are solid with no voids, panel doors are considered solid-core doors. Panel doors are designated by how many panels they have, such as 4-panel, 6-panel, etc.

5. Simulated Panel Door: This is a door with two face panels of hardboard, fiberglass, steel or other material that have been formed under high pressure to create the appearance of a true panel door. Simulated panel doors may be hollow-core or solid-core, and are also designated by the number of panels they contain.

6. Louvered and Half-Louvered Door: A louvered door has a series of angled wooden slats set into a framework, and is commonly used inside where both ventilation and privacy are desired, as in a closet. In temperate climates, they are sometimes used as exterior doors as well. A half-louver door has a flush or inset panel on the lower half and louvers on the upper half, and may be hollow- or solid-core.

7. Swing: Doors with hinges are specified by which way they swing. The easiest way to remember this is to look at the door as it opens away from you. If the hinges are on the left, it's a left-hand door. If the hinges are on the right, it's a right-hand door.

8. Bi-Fold Doors: Bi-fold doors are made up of two or more narrower door units that are hinged to one another. The units closest to the jambs are attached to upper and lower pivots, and the units closest to the center of the doorway have a single upper roller that fits into an overhead track. The door units can be set up to open completely to one side of the opening, or to both sides for larger openings. When completely opened, bi-fold doors provide access to three-fourths or more of the entire door opening, which makes them a popular use for interior closets and storage areas. Virtually any type of door in any material, solid-core or hollow-core, can be used for bi-fold doors, and some types also have mirrored faces.

9. Bypass Doors: Bypass doors have rollers on the top, and are suspended from an overhead track that is attached to the upper door jamb. Bypass doors slide horizontally, with one passing to the inside or the outside of the other. Bypass doors are common for interior closets, and are available in different configurations and materials, included mirrored. Depending on the size of the opening, bypass doors may be made up of two, three or even four panels, and when open will provide access to one-half, two-thirds or three-fourths of the door opening, respectively.

10. Jambs: The three pieces of wood or other material that make up the finished framework of a door opening. The two long, vertical pieces are called jamb legs, and the shorter horizontal piece is the head jamb. In a doorway with a swinging door, the door is hinged to one jamb leg. With bi-fold and bypass doors, the track is mounted to the underside of the head jamb.

11. Casing: The trim that surrounds the doorway, and covers the gap between the back of the door jambs and the rough framing.

12. Prehung Door: A complete door and jamb unit, with the door already hinged to the jamb and ready for installation.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Tips on choosing a listing Agent in today's market.

Friends, associates can provide a wealth of referrals

Monday, November 26, 2007By Dian HymerInman News

It wasn't too long ago when it didn't matter as much which real estate agent you chose to sell your house if it was located in one of the many hot seller markets. Listings sold without much assistance; many soon after the for-sale sign went up. Today, choosing the right agent for the job can make the difference between a sale and no sale.

There are many factors to consider in selecting an agent today. One is that many of the agents working now entered the business recently. They've never seen a softer home-sale market before. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't use an agent who doesn't have decades of experience. But, it means you need to find an agent with a definite set of skills.

Most sellers in this market want and need an agent that will provide an aggressive and broad-based marketing plan. However, some sellers may not be aware of how important it is to hire an agent who is an adept communicator. Today's successful agents don't stop selling when they find a buyer for your home. They manage the transaction carefully and skillfully until the sale closes.
It's not enough for an agent to promise to hold your home open every weekend until it sells. In fact, this might do more harm than good. In a slow market, a listing can be overexposed to the market and become shopworn.

The stress level of selling can be intense, particularly if property values are declining. Buyers can be demanding. You need to have confidence that your agent is representing your best interests and negotiating on your behalf in a professional manner.

Negotiating a purchase contract in this market can be an arduous endeavor. It may take multiple counteroffers back and forth to hammer out a deal. And, the fall-out rate is higher today than it was a few years ago.

Selecting an agent who is a good negotiator, who is patient and who will explore all options before letting a deal fall apart gives you a leg up. It helps if your agent has a good working relationship with other agents in the area. One of these agents is likely to represent the buyer for your home.

HOME SELLER TIP: Many agents, and real estate brokerage companies, will leave the business when they discover that they can't make enough money in the current market. Real estate agent ranks swelled immensely in recent years. For example, in California there are now 50 percent more real estate agents in the business than there were five years ago. Make sure that you work with an agent and a brokerage firm that is in the business for the long term.

Ask any agent you consider to provide you with a detailed marketing plan to let you know how he or she will accomplish the sale of your home. Don't even consider listing with an agent that doesn't market extensively on the Internet. Studies show that Internet buyers discount listings online that don't have photos. They assume that something must be wrong with the property. Check a sample of an agent's Internet marketing before signing up.

You may find that agents want longer than 90-day listing periods if sales are very slow in your area. This is understandable; agents typically pay for the marketing, and it's generally taking a lot longer for most homes to sell. Keep this in mind when you select your agent. You could be working with this person for some time.

THE CLOSING: A reliable source of agent recommendations is friends and associates who sold recently in your area, and would hire their agent again.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Don't let suprise defects deter buyers, waste marketing time

Negotiating a purchase agreement is just one step among many in the home-sale process. Before the transaction closes, buyers usually have the property inspected to check for defects. If inspection issues crop up, the contract can be subject to renegotiation, which can derail the transaction altogether.

Real estate law and practice vary from one area to the next. Sometimes the buyers complete their inspections before they enter into contract to buy a home. But regardless of how homes are sold in your area, it's generally thought to be a good idea for sellers to conduct presale inspections before they put their home on the market.

Some sellers do pre-inspections to make sure that they completely disclose defects that may affect the value of the property. Others inspect so defects that might detract a buyer can be repaired before the property goes on the market.

Even if repairs aren't made before marketing, presale inspection reports can help you by making any bad news about the property known to a prospective buyer before he makes an offer. You can lose precious marketing time if you take your home off the market for a buyer who then backs out after he sees a home inspection report.

HOME SELLER TIP: In addition to obtaining presale inspections, consider contacting reputable contractors to provide repair estimates for significant defects that are noted in your inspection. Inexperienced home buyers often have no idea how much it will cost to replace a roof or remove asbestos from the heating system. Fear of the unknown is intimidating. A reasonable repair estimate may assuage the buyer's concern.

Also consider that a buyer whose experience with home maintenance is limited is more likely to estimate on the high side to be safe. Often actual repair costs are less than a buyer might imagine. Asbestos abatement is a good example.

Finding a contractor who will give you a realistic opinion of the condition of your property can be an issue. Many contractors would rather replace than repair. You want contractors who will do the job correctly for a reasonable price. Ask your real estate agent and acquaintances who recently had a good experience with a contractor for recommendations.

Unless you have the expertise to know if an estimate is reasonable, you should plan on getting more than one estimate. Estimates vary widely depending on variables like the contractor's workload. Recently, a homeowner who was preparing his home for sale was told that his tile roof needed replacing. The first bid he received was for more than $75,000. The second estimate was for $20,500. Both estimates were from reputable, licensed roofers.

If the estimates you receive vary significantly, as in the example above, think about having the work done before you put your home on the market by the contractor who issued the more reasonable bid. This way you are in charge of how much you spend on the repair. Just make sure that the contractor will warrant his work for the buyers.

In a hot seller's market, sellers can often sell "as is" regarding property defects. In a buyer's market, like we are currently experiencing in most parts of country today, you could find it difficult to sell your home if there is a lot of deferred maintenance.

It is a good idea to have as much repair work as possible done before you market your home. This will put you in a much better negotiating position. Your home will also appeal to more buyers, which should result in a timelier sale for a higher price.

THE CLOSING: Sellers who are unwilling or unable to complete repair work before they sell should be prepared to discount their list price accordingly.

Publised by Dian Hymer - Inman News

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Snow Satety Tips to Survive the Winter Weather

The cold winter weather shouldn't limit time enjoyed working on the home outdoors. Before venturing outside, ensure proper safety precautions are taken to avoid an accident or injury. Consider the following snow safety tips from The Home Depot Canada to help keep warm and safe all season long.

- Dress for outdoor success. Whether at work or play, bundle up in layered clothing to allow for better evaporation of perspiration. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Wear boots or overshoes with non-skid soles to avoid slips and falls.

- Master the right shoveling technique. Before shoveling the walkway or driveway, ensure you are physically able. Arm yourself with a quality shovel that will last the entire winter. Lift with your leg muscles, not your back and remember, pace yourself and take frequent breaks.

- Blow it away. If shoveling is not your fancy, consider using a snow blower to push the white stuff away. Maintaining the blower will enhance performance and increase longevity. Check areas such as the engine oil levels, blower system chute positioning and tire pressure on a regular basis.

- Light the way. Since visibility is reduced in snowy weather and the winter brings darkness earlier, make sure you have well-lit walkways around the outside of the home.

- Roof clearing. If you need to clear the roof, try using long-handled snow rakes or poles. Should you require a ladder, make certain that the base is securely anchored. Ask a friend, family member or neighbour to hold the ladder while you climb.

- Winter warm-up. After spending time outdoors, snuggle up with a loved one and drink warm beverages like hot chocolate, coffee, tea or soup.

For more snow safety tips, visit The Home Depot store in your community.
~ News Canada

Friday, November 2, 2007

Choosing a quality kitchen range hood.

Besides removing odors, best units get rid of moisture -- quietly

Friday, November 02, 2007By Paul BianchinaInman News

In most kitchens, there is a simple appliance situated above your range or cooktop that often seems to be mistaken for nothing more than a big light fixture -- and in fact, the "builder's grade" range hood in many new homes really is little more than that. But your range hood serves a couple of very important purposes in the kitchen, and selecting the right one is something that warrants some comparison shopping.

Range hoods come in several sizes, finishes and designs, and that's where most people start when they're shopping for a new one. First of all, it needs to be the correct size to match the width of the opening in the cabinets above the range, and to match the width of the range or cooktop itself. Hoods come in a couple of standard sizes, including 30, 36 and 42 inches in width, with the depth being designed to fit with standard 12-inch-deep upper cabinets. There are some variations available in many of the higher-end models, so knowing the size you're looking for is the first step.

Typically, the next consideration is one of aesthetics. There are several finishes available, the most common being white, almond, black, stainless steel or some combinations of those colors. Then there's the design of the hood housing, which can range from the traditional rectangular box with the sloping front that is commonly see in kitchens of all types, to some very sleek, slender models that almost disappear into the cabinets.


Size and aesthetics aside, it's time to take a look at what really makes the range hood function in the capacity that it's designed for -- exhausting air. Range hoods utilize a fan to draw air up and into them, through a filter, then through a duct to -- hopefully -- the outside. That air movement serves to remove cooking odors from the kitchen, and that's when most people will turn it on.

But the range hood has an even more important and often overlooked role as well, which is to remove moisture right at the source where it's being generated. Like a bathroom fan, the range hood lives to draw warm, moisture-laden air out of the home's interior and exhaust it to the outdoors before it can do any harm. For that reason, there are three additional things to pay very close attention to when buying and installing a range hood.

First of all, since the hood needs to remove moisture from the room, you want to avoid the temptation of purchasing a recirculating hood. Recirculating hoods do not require an exhaust duct, so they are considerably cheaper and easier to install. But since all they do is recirculate air through a filter to remove some of the grease and odor, they fail completely in their primary task of removing moisture.

Second, the hood has to be vented all the way to the outside. This is now a building code requirement in today's homes, but in years past range-hood ducts were often run into the attic and no further. As many homeowners have found to their shock and dismay, pumping all that warm, wet air up into the attic can cause a whole host of problems, including dryrot, mold, degraded insulation, and even severe structural damage.

Finally, the range hood needs to have adequate power to effectively remove the air. As with all types of ventilation fans, range hoods are rated in cubic feet per minute (CFM) of air movement. The higher the CFM rating, the more effective the fan is at drawing in room air and pushing through the duct. Larger rooms and larger ranges need more CFM to more an adequate amount of air for ventilation, but even small rooms need a greater amount of CFM if the exhaust air needs to be pushed though a long run of duct, or one with a large number of elbows and other fittings.

At their least expensive, hoods utilize a tiny plastic rotary fan on a vertical shaft, sort of like the propeller on an old beanie cap. Even though a massive 42-inch hood looks powerful enough to handle any ventilation chore, if it's equipped with an anemic motor and fan blade, the resulting air movement will be inadequate.

Better range hoods utilize a multifinned horizontal fan called a centrifugal fan, commonly known as a squirrel cage fan for its resemblance to a common animal exercise wheel. Centrifugal fans are much more efficient at moving air, and offer a higher CFM then a rotary fan with the same size motor.

The final consideration with your new range hood is its noise level, because even the best of hoods won't get used if it sounds like a Boeing 747 is headed for a landing on your kitchen counter. Range hoods are typically rated in sones, and the lower the sone rating the quieter the fan. As a means of comparison, one sone is about the noise that your refrigerator makes, and normal conversational levels are about four sones.