Risks Buyers Bear Without Electrical Home Inspections

What Is an Electrical Home Inspection?

An electrical home inspection provides a thorough examination of your entire electrical system, ensuring all electrical wires, systems, and components (such as appliances) meet legal safety standards. The National Electrical Code (NEC) is the code that all electricians operate under when examining your home, and defines the parameters for minimum standards across the United States. Upon completion of your electrical home inspection, a Mr. Electric® inspector will provide a detailed, prioritized checklist including areas in need of immediate attention, recommendations for improvements, and potential upgrade possibilities.

When Do You Need an Electrical Safety Inspection?

There are specific times when homeowners should schedule an electrical home safety inspection. The Electrical Safety Foundation recommends that homeowners make an appointment for an electrical home inspection at these times:

  • When purchasing a home
  • When a home is 40 years or older
  • When adding an appliance
  • When a home has had a major renovation

AMPACITY – the LIMITING FACTOR – Summary

What is the limiting factor that determines the actual electrical service ampacity at a building?

Remember you’re looking for the limiting factor in determining ampacity. Finding the electrical component in this list which has the smallest capacity means that you have found the “weak link in the chain” of components bringing electrical service to the building.

Particularly when inspecting older properties, where there is the chance that someone has upgraded some but not all of the components in this list, there may be an inconsistency such as the installation of a larger electrical panel without upgrading the main disconnect.

  1. Electrical service entry cable or “SEC” size and amperage rating (we do not generally consider the overhead or service lateral wiring)
  2. Electric meter (questionable but may assist, especially if the item’s generation, age, and obsolescence can be determined)
  3. Electric meter base (questionable but may assist, especially if the item’s generation, age, and obsolescence can be determined)
  4. Main electrical power switch fuse/circuit breaker ampacity
  5. Electrical panel rated ampacity (and bus design may support only 120V)

Electrical Inspection Checklist

Before finalizing a home purchase, it is common to have a standard home inspection to check for structural problems and electrical, plumbing and mechanical defects. What you may not realize is that the standard inspection addresses surface issues.

A more in-depth inspection by an electrician can uncover electrical problems overlooked in the standard inspection and expose defects that could lead to a house fire.

Here are some areas you should have inspected by a licensed electrician before purchasing a new home:

Electric meter

The electrician should check the electric meter for defects such as insecure installation, broken meter seals and rust at the bottom of the box that could indicate the presence of water. Sometimes water can follow the service entrance cable from the meter box to the main panel.

Electrical wires

Outside wires should be inspected for fraying or other damage. An electrician will also look for unprotected wires anywhere inside the home, especially in attics, basements and crawl spaces. Wires resting on heat ducts or pipes present an unsafe situation and will be reported.

Circuit breaker

The electrical panel houses circuit breakers, which are designed to prevent electrical current from exceeding safe levels. An electrician will check for insufficient clearance, improperly sized circuit breakers, oxidation or corrosion, aluminum branch wiring, overheated components and the presence of moisture. Inspecting these panels can be dangerous, and you should never remove an electrical panel yourself.

GCFI outlets

GFCI outlets should be placed in basements, garages, kitchens and bathrooms. These outlets contain small circuit breakers that shut off when overloaded or if there is a short circuit. An electrician can ensure these outlets are correctly wired and test other outlets in the home for looseness or reversed polarity.

Electrical outlets

An electrician will test all wall switches for reversed polarity and ungrounded circuits, looking out for discolored, loose or damaged switch plates and unsafe wiring.

You should consider joining the electrician during the inspection because it will provide a great opportunity to gain valuable knowledge about your home’s electrical system, and you will be able to verify every item on the list has been inspected.

5 Year Fixed Wire Testing

Most standard workplace environments need an Electrical Installation Condition Report to be produced at least every 5 years. However, there should be regular routine inspections conducted at least annually.

Typical workplaces which require 5 Yearly Fixed Wire Testing include:

  • Commercial spaces such as offices and retail outlets
  • Hotels and restaurants (excluding spa hotels)
  • Schools, colleges and universities
  • Laboratories
  • Community centres, churches and public houses
  • Care homes and hospitals (excluding medical locations)
  • Halls of residence, houses of multiple occupancy

How you can help the during a home inspection

Bring any and all red flags about your real estate property to your inspector before he begins, so he’ll keep a sharp lookout for possible problems. If the seller has disclosed damage, give your inspector a heads-up about that, too.

Another smart move is to accompany the home inspector during his rounds. It’s in your best interest to understand this new home, its systems and potential problems. For instance, an inspector can introduce you to electrical panels, air-conditioning and ventilation switches, and shut-off water valves in the plumbing (which the seller may not know how to operate or forget to show you). If the inspector spots a problem, he can show you exactly how a system is malfunctioning, what it means, and maybe a way to fix it. And this info will serve you well not only before you buy, but afterward as well.

Move In Cleaning Service For A New Home

4 Issues to Address Before New Tenant Move In

Having a new tenant move into your property can be stressful for both the tenant and landlord. Having a checklist of items that must be addressed before the tenant moves in can help make the transition easier and ensure you do not miss any important steps. Here are ten things you should address prior to having a new tenant move into your rental.

Clean the Property

Cleaning is especially important if you are doing an apartment turnover, which means there was a previous tenant living in the unit. You will want to make sure the unit is thoroughly cleaned, especially areas such as the tub, toilet, stove, and refrigerator. Vacuum or sweep to remove any additional debris.

You should also have the property exterminated before tenant move-in even if there is no noticeable problem.

Look for Issues With Heat, Plumbing or Electrical

Before a tenant moves in, you must make sure all utilities are working. You will want to make sure the heat works in all rooms, that there are no clogs or leaks in the plumbing and that the outlets and overhead lights in every room are operational. These are necessities that a tenant needs to maintain their quality of life.

Review and Sign Lease With Tenant

You should go over the lease agreement with the tenant section by section so that they completely understand what they are agreeing to. Once you have gone over the entire agreement with the tenant and answered any questions, you and the tenant should sign and date the lease agreement.

Have Necessary Property Inspections Completed

Depending on your town’s laws, the unit may have to be inspected by a home inspector before a tenant can move in. This inspection is done so the town can issue you a Certificate of Habitability. Some towns only require this inspection the first time the unit is rented, some towns require it every five years and some require it every time a new tenant moves into the unit. Make sure you know your town’s rules.

Moving In – Understand The Terms Of The Lease

  • When you are renting an apartment, both you and your landlord have created a relationship in good faith. You must get the name, address and phone number of your landlord. If the person you are dealing with is a manager, make sure you know her/his name, address and phone number and find out who owns the property. Get their name and phone number as well.
  • Make sure you know what your rent is, where to pay it, and where to contact your landlord for repairs or problems.
  • You will probably be required to pay a security or damage deposit with the first month’s rent. THE DEPOSIT IS NOT RENT. If you have a written lease, it will generally state what your deposit will cover. If you don’t understand the terms, ask the manager to explain them clearly.
  • Ask the manager outright – “How much is usually deducted from the deposit upon move-out?” Surprisingly, they will usually tell you – if they do, have them write the amount on the lease and initial it.

Apartment Cleaning Checklist for Before You Unpack

You’ve been thinking about how great your mid-century modern coffee table is going to look in your new apartment since you saw the rental listing.

But here’s a hot tip before you go charging in with all your belongings: Your new apartment will never be easier to clean than when you’re holding the keys for the first time. Take advantage of the empty space and follow this easy cleaning checklist to make your place a tidy home for youself—and all your beloved stuff.

1. Start from the top.

When it comes to giving your new home a deep scrub, it’s best to clean each room from the top down. Because, gravity. Start by dusting the ceiling fan, ceiling corners, and overhead lights. (Globe-shaped light figures are notorious for collecting dust, so be sure to give them a good clean.) Then start working your way down—walls, baseboards, and finally, the floors.

2. Work toward the door.

Here’s another way to order your cleaning in a room: Start at the farthest point from the entryway. This is especially important when it comes to floors. You don’t want to trod over freshly-vacuumed carpet in your dusty house-cleaning shoes!

3. Deep clean the closets.

Once the closets are full of your odds and ends, it’s unlikely you’ll ever take them all back out to clean in there. Dust out the corners, and consider lining shelves with vinyl or decorative paper (just be sure it isn’t permanent). Shelf lining looks good, is easy to clean, and covers up mystery marks and gross stains left by previous tenants. It’s a win-win-win.

4. Replace the toilet seat.

You’re bringing your own recliner and couch, and those aren’t even as hard to keep clean. You’ll spend a lot of time sitting on your apartment’s toilet, and it’s arguably the most important seat in the house. Do yourself (and your guests) a favor by giving your toilet a fresh start.

5. Disinfect the bathtub.

You’re much more likely to enjoy a soak in the tub after you’ve disinfected away all trace of the last person who soaked there. For an easy cleaning hack, use dish soap and a sponge to wipe down the bathtub—though you may need to enlist a more convensional cleaner to fight tougher stains. Prefer a natural method? Equal parts baking soda, borax, and kosher salt make a great cleaning scrub without any impossible-to-pronounce chemicals.

6. Clean your appliances.

Yes, even your dishwasher needs help getting clean. Start by running a cycle with only a cup of white vinegar in the top rack—using the hot water setting if your dishwasher has one. Afterwards, sprinkle a cup of baking soda on the bottom rack and run a second hot cycle.

Disinfect the microwave (inside and out), then hit the fridge. Remove all the shelves you can, and wipe them down—you can even let them soak in the sink or bathtub. A solution of vinegar and water works great as a food-safe, all-purpose cleaner.

What happens if my Full Security Deposit is not returned?

You have moved out of your old apartment or rental house and are settling into your new place when part of your old security deposit shows up with no explanation for the deductions. What are you to do?

In many jurisdictions, if a landlord does not return all of your security deposit, or returns a portion of the security deposit without a written explanation of everything that was deducted for you may be able to sue. In California, for example, the landlord must provide receipts for any repairs or cleaning over $126. This action, allowed by security deposit laws, is generally called a Wrongful Withholding of Security Deposit or a Wrongful Retention of Security Deposit lawsuit. If you do decide to take legal action, you may be able to recover all or some of your security deposit.

Take Precautions Along the Way

In addition to the recommendations above, there are other tips and tricks to keep in mind throughout the term of your lease. Taking these small steps can make moving out and getting your security deposit back that much easier.

  • Move-In Inspection. Ask your landlord to inspect the apartment with you before you move in. While doing the walk-through, keep a list of any damages you notice. Inspect everything from top to bottom, including inside the drawers, cabinets, and closets. Have your landlord sign off on your damages list. If the landlord makes any promises to repair major damage you notice, get the promise in writing. Keep a copy of both documents so you can use them to prove pre-existing damage, if necessary, when you move out.
  • Take Photos. Before you move in your furniture, take clear photos of every room with a date stamp, including inside the closets as well as outside areas, such as balconies. If any damage exists, take close-up photos as well. A visual will help prove pre-existing damage should the landlord try to take it out of your deposit.
  • Move in Carefully. Take care when moving your furniture in for the first time and when rearranging pieces later. Bulky items can scratch floors, rip paint off of walls, and ding door jambs. Add pads underneath chair legs to keep them from scratching the floor when you move chairs in, out, or around.
  • Read the Lease Before You Make Changes. Some landlords will allow you to paint, while others request you don’t even use small nails in the walls. A change you might consider minor may be prohibited by your lease. If you want to make major changes, such as painting a room a new color, get the landlord’s permission in writing before you do so as it will help avoid a conflict later on.

Finding A Chiropractor Online For Back Pain

How To Choose The Right Chiropractor

It is estimated that Doctors of Chiropractic treat over 27 million Americans annually, with a chiropractic adjustment being performed around 1 million times every business day in the US

There are many known benefits of chiropractic treatment, which has made it such a popular treatment. However, when choosing the right chiropractor you can be overwhelmed with the options, and with the average session costing around $65, it’s an expensive decision to make.

To ensure you get the most from your treatment, take a look at our frequently asked questions. We hope they will help inform you, not simply about how to choose a chiropractor but most importantly, how to choose the right chiropractor.

Tips for Choosing a Chiropractor

A Personal Decision

If you prefer a hands-on approach to healthcare that promotes healing without medications or surgery, chiropractic care may be the prescription for you. Your chiropractor is your partner in spine, muscle and joint health. You depend on your chiropractor’s knowledge and expertise to help you stay healthy or recover from an injury or spine condition. How do you find the best chiropractor who is right for you? Here are some important factors to keep in mind.

Get Referrals

Start by asking your primary care doctor for a referral list of chiropractors. You can also ask family, friends and other healthcare providers for recommendations. Take the time to research the chiropractors’ credentials and experience on Healthgrades.com. As you narrow down your list, call each chiropractor’s office to see if he or she is accepting new patients. If so, ask for an appointment to meet and interview the chiropractor

Research the Chiropractor’s Credentials

Licensure is one of the most important factors to consider when you are choosing a chiropractor. It tells you that the chiropractor has the necessary training, skills and experience to provide chiropractic care. Also confirm that the chiropractor has no history of malpractice claims or disciplinary actions. You can find the chiropractor’s medical school, training hospital, certifications, and malpractice and disciplinary history on Healthgrades.com and state websites.

Consider the Chiropractor’s Experience

Experience matters when you’re facing musculoskeletal or spine health issues. The more experience a chiropractor has with a condition or procedure, the better your results are likely to be. Ask how many patients with your specific condition the chiropractor has treated. If you need a specific procedure, ask how many of the procedures the chiropractor has performed and find out about complication rates—complications the chiropractor has encountered as well as your own risk of complications.

Consider Gender

It’s important to feel comfortable with your chiropractor’s gender because you will need to openly discuss personal information. When it comes to chiropractic care, your own gender is also an important consideration. Chiropractors are becoming more skilled in caring for women and men differently. Ask the chiropractor about his or her recent training and experience specifically related to your condition and your gender.

How to choose a chiropractor

Though there are many great resources for obtaining valuable information to assist you in your search for a chiropractor, it can be overwhelming, particularly if you are new to chiropractic. To help guide you in making an educated choice regarding your health care professional, keep the following five points in mind as you sort through the mass of information.

Honesty and confidence

The first thing to look for in a chiropractic doctor is honesty. An honest doctor has both trust and confidence in each and every one of his patients, and that confidence is a reflection of his pride in providing proper treatment and getting successful results for the patient. A good chiropractor will recommend only the best treatment for your quickest and best results; not-so-good chiropractors will recommend you sign up for a package of long-term treatment even before seeing how you respond to treatment. If chiropractic is not the proper treatment for you, a good chiropractor will have no problem referring you to another health care professional to manage or co-manage your case.

Techniques

There are a variety of techniques and methods of treatment in chiropractic, with no two being exactly alike. Each specific technique can work well with a specific patient, but no single technique will work perfect and heal everyone. This being said, any chiropractor that states her particular technique is superior to others or that absolutely guarantees results should be avoided. Although her techniques may be effective with certain patients, guaranteeing results is actually against the Laws of Chiropractic. 

Word of mouth

This is always a great place to start. Positive word of mouth in every profession is a good sign. If you are considering chiropractic for the first time, or considering choosing a different chiropractor, listen to others in your community more than the ads in the phone book, on TV or placed on Facebook. It is easy to look good in a well thought out advertisement, but the right chiropractor for you may be more successfully found by listening to others around you that have experienced chiropractic practice firsthand.

Appropriate examination, diagnosis, and treatment

This is extremely important. Doctors of chiropractic have been through extensive training and education to become health care providers. This training included proper examination, proper diagnosis and proper treatment protocols. If a doctor lacks in any one of these three essential areas, he should not be treating you, period! What does this mean for you? If a chiropractor doesn’t talk to you about your health history and your current condition, doesn’t give you an initial physical examination (checking posture, reflexes, etc.), doesn’t give you a diagnosis regarding your condition, and won’t explain your treatment plan, find another chiropractor.

Helpful Tips for Choosing a Chiropractor

If you are looking for a health care provider that promotes healing without medications or surgery, Chiropractic Care may be the right fit for you. In the field of Chiropractic Care, our main focus in on the cause of your problem

Check Reviews

When deciding which Chiropractic Clinic will be the right fit for you, it is always important to look up reviews of the doctor and clinic before making an appointment.

Research the Chiropractor’s Credentials

Making sure the Chiropractor you are about to see has the proper licensure is a very important factor. It will tell you if the chiropractor has the proper training, experience, and skills to provide chiropractic care.

Ask About Experience

A Chiropractors experience matters when you are facing musculoskeletal or spine health issues. The more experience the chiropractor has with a particular condition or procedure, your results are likely to be better.

Schedule a Free Consultation

The majority of Chiropractors will offer a free consultation so you can meet with them and discuss your injury or pain condition. During your consultation, you will have the opportunity to ask any questions that will help you with deciding if they are the right fit for you

What to Look For When Choosing a Chiropractor

How To Choose The Best Chiropractor For You

Chiropractic is a profession with a wide range of practice philosophies and techniques, which can make it difficult to select the top chiropractor. Because the treatment process involved in chiropractic is a physical process, you should seek a doctor you feel is competent and trustworthy.

What to Look For Before Choosing Your Chiropractor

There are a variety of techniques and joint manipulation styles in chiropractic practice, with no two being exactly alike. Understanding the chiropractor’s spinal manipulation technique, education, and overall style, is vital to your treatment.

Potential Red Flags and Chiropractic Techniques

While on your search for your ideal doctor, it’s also important to look out for unsafe or risky techniques that you may come across while seeking potential candidates. There are a few chiropractor techniques that most chiropractors agree doubtful.

Seeking Medical Treatment at the Chiropractor’s Office

Now that you have criteria to evaluate potential chiropractors and the best corrective chiropractic care, the best thing to do is narrow down your choices. For example, pick around three chiropractic clinics you would like to try or feel you would like to try.

Set up the right time to meet each of the chiropractors (most clinics offer a free consultation,) and ask them questions about your problem areas, will they help with pain treatment, can they help with a slipped disc, and what treatment methods they offer.

Legal Tax Planning Aids Wealth Protection

How to Choose Your Tax Adviser or Accountant

Do I need a tax adviser or an accountant?

More often than not people will actually require both an accountant and a tax adviser, however, it is important to establish why you need them – do you need someone to manage your accounts and help you with your tax return? Or someone to give you sound advice that will legally save you money?

What does an accountant do?

Your accountant can manage your accounts, provide compliance work and some may even do tax planning.

What does a tax adviser do?

Tax advisers tend to focus solely on tax planning. They spend significant amounts of time keeping up-to-date with the latest tax legislation and tax cases to help make sure they provide their clients with great strategies that will help to reduce or eliminate tax – some of which your accountant may not even be aware of!

Example of the difference between an accountant and tax adviser

If we compare the accountancy profession with medicine, an accountant is the equivalent of a GP, and most of the time a GP is all you need for routine health care, but if you get seriously ill (compare with a dispute with HM Revenue and Customs) or you need surgery (tax planning), then you need a specialist consultant (a Tax Adviser)

What qualifications should my Tax Adviser / Accountant have?

As a client you want to be assured that your tax adviser / accountant is acting in both your best interest and within the law, which is why it is important to know what qualifications your tax adviser or accountant has, and when they were achieved and if they are relevant to you. Check that the qualifications they have cover the area of taxation or accounting that you require assistance with.

How to Find a Good Tax Adviser

Many unlicensed tax preparers with questionable credentials set up shop during income-tax season. Some disappear after the April 15 filing date, leaving you to deal with the IRS if there’s a problem with your return. The IRS recently cracked down on such rogue tax preparers by, among other things, contacting those whose returns have frequently shown to have errors. Plus, it is instituting stricter rules for anyone who charges a fee to prepare a tax return. See the IRS’s fact sheets about the new requirements for tax-return preparers. Most of the new rules do not take effect until the 2011 tax season, so taxpayers still need to be vigilant when hiring a tax preparer or adviser this year.

One good approach is to look for an enrolled agent. Enrolled agents are tax experts who must pass a rigorous test, meet annual continuing-education requirements, and who are licensed to represent clients in front of the IRS. Enrolled agents can prepare your income-tax return, and some provide tax-planning advice. You can also contact an enrolled agent if you need help after receiving a penalty letter from the IRS.

Enrolled agents work in a variety of settings: Some have their own firms, some work for tax-preparation chains, and some are also certified public accountants or certified financial planners. You can find an enrolled agent through the National Association of Enrolled Agents. They usually charge by the tax form to prepare a return (so the more complicated your return, the more you’ll pay) and by the hour for tax planning.

Tax Planning: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

When your clients come to you and wonder what they can do to save money when it comes to paying taxes, you can recommend tax planning services. Many taxpayers aren’t aware of how impactful tax planning can be.

Wise taxpayers plan out their upcoming tax year instead of hoping you can do something amazing for them once the year is over. Those that plan ahead have more control over their tax situation and increase their chances of reducing their tax obligations. It’s the first step toward a better financial future.

The Good: In-Person Tax Planning with a Professional

The best way for taxpayers to implement a workable tax plan is to meet with a professional. Like a doctor, tax preparers who offer tax planning services take time to look at their client’s financial health, then diagnose any areas where mistakes and poor planning actually cost them. It’s also a good way to look for any missed opportunities that the taxpayer may use in the future.

True tax planning is a formal assessment of a client’s tax situation, but not many people really understand that creating a plan, implementing it, and then maintaining and evaluating it over the years will really influence their tax burden. When you and your client have the opportunity at the beginning of the tax year to create a thoughtful and effective financial plan, they’ll be very happy when it’s time to file those tax returns.

The Bad: Generic Tax Planning Software

If a client is not convinced that hiring you for formal tax planning is something they want to do, they might at least consider some do-it-yourself tax planning using specialized tax software. From data management software like Microsoft Excel to programs and apps designed to help individuals and small businesses with tax planning, using available tools is better than no tax planning at all.

Tips for Choosing a Tax Preparer

It’s the time of the year when many taxpayers choose a tax preparer to help file a tax return. These taxpayers should choose their tax return preparer wisely.  This is because taxpayers are responsible for all the information on their income tax return. That’s true no matter who prepares the return

Here are ten tips for taxpayers to remember when selecting a preparer:

Check the Preparer’s Qualifications. Use the IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications. This tool helps taxpayers find a tax return preparer with specific qualifications. The directory is a searchable and sortable listing of preparers.

Check the Preparer’s History. Ask the Better Business Bureau about the preparer. Check for disciplinary actions and the license status for credentialed preparers. For CPAs, check with the State Board of Accountancy. For attorneys, check with the State Bar Association. For Enrolled Agents, go to the verify enrolled agent status page on IRS.gov or check the directory. 

Ask about Service Fees. Avoid preparers who base fees on a percentage of the refund or who boast bigger refunds than their competition. When asking about a preparer’s services and fees, don’t give them tax documents, Social Security numbers or other information.

Ask to E-File. Taxpayers should make sure their preparer offers IRS e-file. The quickest way for taxpayers to get their refund is to electronically file their federal tax return and use direct deposit.

Make Sure the Preparer is Available. Taxpayers may want to contact their preparer after this year’s April 17 due date. Avoid fly-by-night preparers.

Provide Records and Receipts. Good preparers will ask to see a taxpayer’s records and receipts. They’ll ask questions to figure things like the total income, tax deductions and credits.

Never Sign a Blank Return. Don’t use a tax preparer who asks a taxpayer to sign a blank tax form.

Review Before Signing. Before signing a tax return, review it. Ask questions if something is not clear. Taxpayers should feel comfortable with the accuracy of their return before they sign it. They should also make sure that their refund goes directly to them – not to the preparer’s bank account. Review the routing and bank account number on the completed return. The preparer should give you a copy of the completed tax return.

Ensure the Preparer Signs and Includes Their PTIN. All paid tax preparers must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number. By law, paid preparers must sign returns and include their PTIN.

Report Abusive Tax Preparers to the IRS. Most tax return preparers are honest and provide great service to their clients. However, some preparers are dishonest. Report abusive tax preparers and suspected tax fraud to the IRS. Use Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. If a taxpayer suspects a tax preparer filed or changed their return without the taxpayer’s consent, they should file Form 14157-A, Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit.

mistakes to avoid when choosing a financial or tax adviser

If you have the knowledge to do your own financial planning, tax preparation and/or investing, you can choose whether or not to do it yourself. Part of that decision is determining the highest and best use of your time. Doing the job of a financial or tax adviser, at least doing it well, requires a significant commitment of time and energy, both of which are limited and precious. Most people would rather spend that time on family, travel, hobbies, or volunteer work. If you’re in that camp, and need to find a financial or tax adviser, here are some common mistakes people make—and how to avoid them.

Not making a decision

Indecision—i.e., choosing not to make a decision—is like selecting “none of the above” on a test question, and can often be an impediment to financial success. This is as true when choosing an adviser as it is to sound investing. Many people let too much money sit in cash, or fail to rebalance their investment portfolios periodically, because they are waiting for the “right” time to make a change. Indeed, an inability to act (due to procrastination or indecision) is one reason many people choose to hire a professional financial adviser, who can eliminate the emotional element and use a disciplined approach to make decisions and take action as needed.

Not asking for referrals

If you are serious about hiring a financial professional, ask for recommendations from people you respect, such as work colleagues, friends, and professionals in related industries (e.g., an estate-planning attorney or insurance agent). If the idea of asking for a referral makes you uncomfortable, here are some questions to help you get the information you need

Assuming what a title or credential means

While no one can call themselves a “CPA” without considerable education and testing, literally anyone licensed to sell financial products (insurance, mutual funds, etc.) can call themselves a “financial adviser” or “wealth manager.” Similarly, certain credentials can be obtained by simply spending a few hours or a weekend taking a course, whereas others, including “CPA” (Certified Public Accountant) and “CFP” (Certified Financial Planner practitioner), require many months or even years of study, rigorous testing, and ongoing continuing education.

Not focusing on relevant experience

A common mistake is to only consider advisers who are older, rather than seeking an adviser with experience that is relevant to your situation and needs. It’s easy to assume that gray hair (or a lack of hair) equates to experience. However, it might just reflect age, with many of those years spent doing things other than providing the service you need.

Ignoring conflicts of interest

The investment industry is full of conflicts of interest, and they usually center around compensation. A registered representative (RR) or insurance agent can make 10 times as much commission if they get you to buy one thing versus another. Advisors with a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), on the other hand, get paid the same amount regardless of which investments they recommend, so they have no incentive to push one over the other.

Selecting Your Wedding Dj

Tips for Hiring an Awesome Wedding DJ

Your wedding entertainment is one way you can make sure your guests have a blast. It can also be another way of adding your own personal touch to the event. Your wedding is a party, after all! You want to make it a kick-ass party that your guests won’t soon forget. Whether your goal is to get people moving on the dance floor or to just have some great music accompanying the reception, hiring a wedding DJ can be a great option.

Know what to look for and where

The most common option is to go with a DJ whose primary business is weddings. These wedding DJs know the ins and outs of wedding receptions and may even be great at serving as an emcee to make announcements. To find one of these, do the usual web searching and asking for referrals from other vendors.

Ask to hear samples of the wedding DJ’s work

Once you’ve found a DJ or two that seems right for your wedding, ask to see examples of their work. This could be a video of a live performance, a mixtape, or sample playlists. The more important to you the quality of the music is, the more you should see and hear before hiring.

Give the DJ your playlist and your “do not play” list

If you’re already set on a playlist, discuss it with DJs and make sure they are willing to follow it. You may also want to create a “do not play” list and share it to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

Ask how they get the crowd going

If you want your DJ to be really involved in making your reception fun, make sure to ask about how they engage a crowd

Questions to Ask Before Booking Your DJ

Is this your full-time business? Are weddings your primary focus? What clubs, lounges, and corporate clients have you performed for in addition to weddings?

Determine whether they are a well-rounded, successful entertainer who can bring a level of expertise and versatility to your event. “You want to ensure that your DJ isn’t a one-dimensional part-timer, but a true performer whose had varied and extensive experience performing in front of different (and tough) audiences,” said DJ Kev Sakoda. It’s fine if your prospective DJ mainly focuses on weddings—DJ Vito Namio performs at well over 100 per year—as long as they squeeze in some time for other types of parties as well.

How do you customize the music experience for each couple? Can you help with song lists and providing suggestions?

Find a DJ who will create a soundtrack for your wedding that is based on your style, taste, and vision for that day. “One size does not fit all—if your desire is to have a mosh pit at your wedding, then you will need to deliver that and anything else you want, for that matter,” said Sakoda.

How do you get the crowd pumped?

There are all kinds of incentives that DJs use to encourage guests to storm the dance floor, whether it’s asking couples to join the newlyweds for a good-luck dance or playing a meaningful throwback song from the bridesmaids’ college days.

How do you handle song requests?

“There could be instances where the client directives are diametrically opposed to the guest requests. How a DJ strikes a balance to deliver on the couple’s desires—while still satisfying the guests’ requests—determines the skill and experience of the DJ,” said Sakoda.

Can I hear some examples of mixing and blending different tracks?

When mixing is done correctly, you probably aren’t even aware of it. The DJ should be able to blend between songs seamlessly; you don’t want guests to become bored by a ten-minute long Queen rendition! However, when this technique is performed incorrectly, you’ll be able to discern it instantly: “When there is no mixing or blending, there is awkward silence between songs (it’s the same thing as your iPod),” said Sakoda.

How to choose the right DJ for your wedding party

Once the vows have been made, the wedding breakfast has been eaten and the speeches have received rapturous applause, all that remains to do on your big day is to take your first dance and celebrate with an amazing wedding after party. As with all aspects of your wedding day, the best way to ensure your wedding party goes without a hitch is to leave it to the professionals. If you’re choosing a professional DJ service to keep your wedding dance floor filled until the early hours, there are many considerations to make… it’s not just about the music.

To better understand how to choose the right DJ for your wedding party, Danny Costello, managing director of award-winning DJ hire company DJ2K, is perfectly placed to advise on the winning formula. With more than 20 years’ experience as a wedding DJ, Danny leads a team of hand-picked DJs who strive to deliver unforgettable wedding parties across Surrey, London and the Home Counties.

Experience and pricing

Don’t be fooled by start-up companies with little to no experience who are offering cheap deals on wedding entertainment and discos. Take note of how long a wedding DJ has been in the business; experienced DJs will have extensive knowledge about timings, equipment and logistics and clients should feel that they are in safe hands. DJ2K couples usually spend between £600 and £2,000 which can include a photo booth, selfie mirror, dance floor, giant illuminated letters, among other things – dependent on the couple’s budget and requirements

Recommendations

Danny says: “DJ2K is recommended by a number of top wedding venues in the UK. It is always worth considering a venue’s recommended suppliers and having a chat in the first instance. However, if your chosen supplier isn’t recommended or hasn’t worked at your venue before, don’t worry – they have the potential to bring a fresh approach to proceedings.”

Reviews

Online reviews made by other couples will tell you all you need to know about whether a wedding DJ is good or great and will provide a professional and reliable DJ service. Browse the DJ’s website and social media; if the DJ has been given exceptional reviews, they’ll certainly want to share them.

All the Questions You Need to Ask Your Wedding Band or DJ

Let’s be honest here: The music can make or break a party, which means the band or DJ is one of the most important factors of your reception. And you definitely don’t want to hire someone without thoroughly vetting them first. Ask the below questions when you meet with any potential musicians to find the right fit for you.

How would you describe your style?

You need to figure out if their style will work with the vibe you’re going for. If you want an elegant cocktail party with lots of casual conversation, a band that describes itself as “rock and roll with a whole lotta edge” is a music mismatch. (And if you’re having trouble determining what kind of band or DJ you want, do some research on The Knot Marketplace or GigMasters—both can help you find exactly what you’re looking for.)

Can we come listen to you perform?

Seeing them perform live will give you the best idea about what your wedding entertainment would actually sound and feel like. While most musicians and the couples that hire them mutually agree in advance that the wedding is closed to prospective clients, some will have mini “concerts” for the public to attend and see whether they’re a good fit or not.

Do you know our reception space and its acoustic, power and amplification requirements? If not, will you check it out beforehand?

Your musicians may need an extension cord, backup generator or other supplies, and it’s important to know this beforehand. If they don’t want to check out your venue, cross them off your list.

Can you play the songs that are important to us (such as a traditional Jewish hora tune or a favorite pop hit)?

The band or DJ should be able to play, learn or download any tune you’d like. If a band says “yes,” but they’ll need to learn and/or arrange it, ask them if they’ll charge for that.

How did you pick your DJ?

We ended up going with the more expensive one, because his personality was outgoing. He was so much fun to talk and our meeting ended up running longer than anticipated. We were looking for someone outgoing and confident in what they did. We sa down and talked to 3 different DJS. Make sure you talk to them on the phone or in person. The DJ sets the tone for everything at your wedding you want to make sure they are good at it.

This is going to sound corny, but it will just feel right. I spoke with a few DJ’s, I even booked one, then canceled because he and I just did not connect as far as what my vision was, etc. The DJ I ended up finding was extremely personable and knowledgeable. He took the time to go over every detail and explain his cost compared to the industry, etc. He also gave me great tips on finding a photographer and made suggestions on how to cut back cost. I trust that he will make my wedding day run as smooth as possible.

He picked us. He said “you guys look like a cool couple. I wanna dj your wedding” we told him we weren’t planning on having a dj and he said he’d do it at a discount. He has 20+ yrs experience and we vibed well.

I picked 5 DJs based on their reviews and pricing and made a spreadsheet. I listed what they were offering, how long they would be there, extra fees (set up, traveling) and the cost of each one. It really helped me to see all the options laid out and I was able to narrow it down to two. I contacted both and figured out which one would work best for what we needed/wanted.

They’re not corny, cheesy, they don’t dance, they don’t have plasma TV’s, uplighting or photobooths, they are always there early, they don’t dress like slobs, they don’t put giant ugly banners on the DJ booth (which always looks neat). They don’t do games, they don’t miss ceremony cues, they don’t mispronounce names and they actually have the processional order and the entrance details down before they are going to happen. We live in an area with very busy airwaves; they bring backup equipment in case the frequencies are a problem (Hudson river area, flight path, marinas….). They play well with others. They have interesting music suggestions beyond 1000 years and I think I wanna marry you. If I have couples that need international music, I have two DJ’s that shine in that area.

Brushed Nickel Kitchen Faucet

What to Look for When Searching for Your Next Kitchen Faucet

Your Kitchen is Your Command Center

Prepping for spaghetti night. Bathing the baby. Watering the plants. It should come as no surprise that you spend more active time in the kitchen than any other room in the house. And from selecting a finish to starting installation, there are plenty of things for you to consider when choosing your next kitchen faucet.

Think About What Goes on in Your Sink

When it comes to taking care of business in the kitchen, you need a faucet that’s built to handle everything you throw at it. Think about your everyday experiences and then see how the right combination of features — including handles, spout height, and sprayers — can help you create a space that works your way.

Hands-Free Convenience

Touchless Kitchen Faucets with MotionSense™ feature touchless activation, allowing you to easily turn water on and off with the wave of a hand.

Keep Everything in Reach

Whether you’re rinsing down the corners of your sink or cleaning fresh veggies from the garden, a faucet with the right sprayer helps make quick work of your kitchen tasks

Get Smart About Arcs

Have you ever shimmied a large pasta pot under a low spout or had your window view interrupted by a high spout? if so, then you understand how important it is to have a faucet that’s just the right height.

How to Choose the Perfect Kitchen Faucet for Your Kitchen?

Buying Considerations

Going head first into buying a kitchen faucet can be a costly venture for the unprepared. Beyond the pitfalls that could lead to you calling in a plumber, is getting it installed only to see it’s not really what you want. The kitchen faucet decision should be treated with care since you’re dropping so much on one item. Every kitchen has its own little theme so tailoring your wants and needs to a specific type is vital in the search, as what your neighbor has may be completely different than what you need. Below are some of the main considerations when looking for a kitchen faucet that you can use efficiently. After reading the 5 sections you should have a better overall idea of what it is that would work best in your kitchen, and you may even get some ideas for some of your friends. Don’t be afraid to spread the word or even do some Christmas shopping! There is always someone that could use a great kitchen faucet.

How to Install Faucet?

Take a good look at the area that you will be installing your new kitchen faucet into. Is there a faucet already there that needs to be replaced? Is this a completely new build that doesn’t have the hoses in place? And do you have a specific theme?

These are the questions you should be asking yourself when you want to purchase a kitchen faucet. And since not every brand is created equally, you’re going to need to decide on what install you want to do.

What Type of Sink Do You Have?

This may come as a surprise to some people, but there is a variety of kitchen sink types other than stainless steel. Stainless steel makes up the bulk of the industry and is clearly the leader. It is installed in more homes than all the other sink types combined, a statistic that won’t be changing anytime soon.

What Design Does Your Kitchen Sink Suit?

The design of a kitchen faucet will come into play when deciding if you are comfortable with the two lever or single lever system. As a reference, the two lever system is considered to be dying out, as the advantages of having it have been trimmed down to simply being able to use if one of the handles go out.

Our New Kitchen Faucet and 8 Easy Tips for Choosing the Right Faucet

It may seem like a strictly functional piece of hardware in your kitchen, but the truth is that your faucet is often a major focal point to the space. Usually sinks and stoves are the focal points in a kitchen. And a beautifully designed faucet not only complements a newly designed kitchen, but can also be the perfect finishing touch to a DIY-renovated-on-a-budget kitchen makeover as well.

Think about your the general style of your kitchen as well as the style of the sink that you have selected. Pairing a cast iron farmhouse sink with a super modern faucet may not work together unless you are going for a very edgy or eclectic look. Similarly, a strongly modern stainless sink would not suit a traditional bridge style faucet

Faucets generally come in three main finishes: chrome, nickel (or other brushed metal), or bronze. Consider the nearby cabinet hardware, as well as lighting and other metal finishes in the space. It doesn’t all have to match exactly, but choose a faucet whose finish works well with the other finishes in the space. Because I chose chrome and nickel finishes throughout the space in the cabinet hardware and lighting, I selected a chrome faucet to complement these finishes.

Faucets with a high arc are very on trend these days… but you need to consider the amount of space you have above your sink. If you have low cabinets or shelves above the sink, you may not wish the arc to be too high. Another thing to consider is the size of your sink…. a large sink may require you to select a faucet with a larger reach. The farmhouse sink that we selected is quite wide and deep, so choosing a faucet that had a spray option that would reach all the corners of the sink easily was critical.

A sprayer on a faucet is an amazing tool… a good sprayer can remove all kinds of gunk and mess for you, and it also can help to keep your sink cleaner. Often faucets with a separate side spray are not as convenient or effective as a sprayer that is built into the faucet itself. Some faucets, such as the one we chose, even have a little button on the faucet head to turn the spray on and off making this feature super convenient and easy to use.

How to Choose Your Kitchen Sink Faucet

As one of the most used features in your home, choosing the right kitchen faucet is not a decision to take lightly. This comprehensive guide gives you all the information you need to make a good choice. Find comprehensive tips on faucet mount, number of holes needed for installation, picking the right faucet style, finish, and features and how to measure for kitchen faucet size and reach. This guide also includes a comparison of pros and cons for kitchen faucet finishes.

Measuring For Kitchen Faucet Size and Reach

It’s important to check every aspect of the size of your faucet before you order. First, you need to address size as it relates to functionality. Second, to look balanced, your faucet should be in proportion to the sink. A large faucet would visually overpower a small prep sink, while a small faucet might look odd in a large sink and countertop area.

Height

You may find height expressed as deck to top of faucet and/or deck to aerator. Make certain you are choosing a faucet with adequate height to accommodate the items you’ll be washing or filling. The higher the spout, the easier it is to fit tall pots under it for filling or cleaning. If you have a shelf above your sink or a wide window ledge, a tall faucet may not fit.

Reach

This important (and often overlooked!) measurement refers to the horizontal distance from the faucet spout to its point of connection with the sink or countertop. In other words, how far the faucet extends into the sink. This measurement determines how large an arc your faucet can cover within the sink basin. This aspect of your faucet also needs to be coordinated with your sink size so the water stream does not hit too far back or forward within the basin.

Clearance to backsplash

Let’s say you fall in love with a faucet whose single handle controls temperature by rotating back. You bring it home and install it, and it looks fabulous. Then you turn it on…and find out that the handle hits your backsplash before it’s fully extended. Check the product specifications to see if there is a minimum recommended clearance to backsplash. Make sure the space between your backsplash and the handle allows for the recommended measurement, or select a faucet whose handle(s) have only forward motion to operate.

How to Buy a New Kitchen Faucet

Buying the right kitchen faucet depends largely on the existing plumbing. Choosing a new kitchen faucet can be easier than you think once you consider three important details before you begin shopping.

Start With the Sink’s Faucet Holes

There are many different kitchen faucet and sink designs available, but they’re not always compatible. Start by taking a look at your kitchen sink to determine how many pre-drilled faucet mounting holes are available. This applies if you’re installing a new faucet in an existing sink or buying a completely new faucet and sink.

The location of the sink mounting holes is another thing to keep in mind. Often, the faucet is located close to the center of the sink, but this is not always the case. If the faucet will be mounted on one side of the sink, the spout needs to be long enough to reach the opposite basin for it to be of use. A tall spout with a pull-down spray nozzle is another option for a sink with corner mounting holes

Where’s the Mount?

There are top-mount and bottom-mount faucets. Top-mount faucets attach from underneath the counter. The screws are screwed in through the bottom of the faucet. Bottom-mount faucets attach from the top of the counter. The screws are installed through the top of the faucet piece.

Check the Water Lines

Make sure the new kitchen faucet you want is compatible with the water supply lines. Look under your sink towards the bottom of the cabinet and note the size of the existing water line and the shutoff valves.

Hardwood Flooring Selection Made Easy

How to Choose & Install Hardwood Floors: A Complete Guide

The choice of flooring is one of the most basic yet important decisions a homeowner has to make when undertaking a renovation, as it underpins everything else. While there are plenty of different options, from carpet to terrazzo, one material is the acknowledged standard: hardwood.

But not all hardwood flooring is created equal, and selecting a product isn’t simply a matter of choosing a preferred color. A range of other factors can have an impact on both aesthetics and performance

To explore the many options available, we spoke with three experts: Scott Jones, director of product management at Carlisle Wide Plank Floors; James Caroll, principal of LV Wood; and Mara Miller, partner at the AD100 firm Carrier and Company Interiors. Once you find the perfect fit for your space, you’ll need to think about installation. While may choose to hire a professional to install their floors, some intrepid homeowners go the DIY route. If you’re ready to tackle the project yourself, Tony Pastrana, installation systems developer at Armstrong Flooring, shared his advice on how to install your own flooring.

Select Solid or Engineered Flooring

Traditionally, hardwood flooring came in thick planks of solid timber. Today, solid hardwood is still widely available, but many companies also offer engineered flooring—planks made with a thinner top layer of hardwood, bonded to other layers designed to prevent the floor from shifting during expansion and contraction cycles. “All wood moves in three directions: There’s tangential, radial, and longitudinal movement,” says Jones. “With engineered products, you’re creating opposing forces within the board to try to restrict the natural movement of the wood.”

Choose Prefinished or Site Finish

Hardwood planks can be purchased with a raw face that gets finished by a professional after installation, or prefinished, which arrives with the stain and topcoat already applied. The advantage of prefinished wood is that “you know exactly what you’re getting,” says Caroll, noting that once you select a product, you’ll have an exact sample to use in coordinating your home’s color palette and choosing other design elements, such as textiles, wall coverings, and cabinetry. Prefinished flooring also takes less time to install, because there’s no need to apply color or sealant. “When you choose to do a site finish,” he adds, “you’re rolling the dice a little bit, and relying on the skills of the flooring contractor to get it right.”

Choosing Hardwood Flooring

Board Widths. Select from narrow strips (less than three inches), wider planks (more than three inches), parquet squares, and—a new option—squares and rectangles. The traditional choice, strips give the illusion of more space, while planks impart a rustic look. Parquet floors, with the distinctive geometric design, suit formal spaces.

Wood Species. Hardwood species vary in durability, grain patterns, and color. Oak, maple, and cherry are among the most common species due to their hardness. Exotic woods like mahogany, and Brazilian cherry aren’t as durable, but are prized for their striking appearance

Colors. Hardwoods run the gamut from blond to black, depending on species and finish.

Textures. You can get hardwood floors that look shiny and new, or you can buy brand new wood that looks like an antique and adds timeworn character to your room Many manufacturers offer distressed and hand-scraped hardwoods that will disguise heavy use over the years and give the floor an appealing timeworn appearance from the moment it’s installed.

Hardness. For busy households with pets and kids, it’s a good idea to choose the hardest wood species possible. Hard species, such as red oak, will withstand wear and tear, while softer species, such as pine, tend to show scratches. The choice between engineered and solid hardwood will most likely be determined by location, subfloor, and preferred installation method. But if you’re on the fence, keep in mind choosing solid hardwood means scratches from a puppy’s claws or dings from a toddler’s toy can be sanded out and refinished over and over. Whichever you choose, preventive care and proper maintenance can keep your floors looking good for years.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Wood Floor

With the variety of woods, colors and finishes available today, shopping for a wood floor can be a bit overwhelming. Here are five things to know and consider when choosing the perfect wood floor for your home.

Homeowners evaluating new flooring owe it to themselves to consider the benefits and beauty of wood. Wood floors are comfortable, durable and surprisingly affordable, and nothing quite compares to the character and warmth they bring to every room in the house. While there is a myriad of choices available, not every type of wood flooring is suitable for every application. If you are shopping for a wood floor, here are five things to keep in mind.

Type of Wood Flooring

There are primarily two types of wood flooring products—solid hardwood and engineered hardwood. Solid wood flooring is milled from solid wood logs and is joined with a traditional tongue and groove along both the long and short edges. Solid wood is available prefinished or unfinished, in strips and planks ranging in thickness from 5/16 to ¾ inches. Strips are 1½-inch- to 2¼-inches-wide and planks are 3 to 8 inches wide.

Choice of Wood Species

There are many different types of woods used in flooring, but some are harder and therefore more durable than others. “Day to day wear and tear is what concerns most people when shopping for a wood floor,” says Schlegel, “and the benchmark for hardness in the U.S. is Red Oak.” While Red and White Oak are the most common domestic wood floors, Hickory and Maple (harder than oak) and Walnut (softer) are also popular choices. Top-selling exotic woods such as Brazilian Cherry, Brazilian Koa, and Cumaru are among the hardest species available. “Naturally, the harder the wood, the better it will be for wear and installation in high-traffic areas of the home,” Schlegel notes.

Grain, Color, and Appearance

Because wood flooring comes in so many different species, styles, and finishes, it is fairly easy to select a floor to match any room décor. If you have a country-style interior, wide plank floors with highly defined wood grains and a distressed appearance will be a good fit.  For Colonial homes, consider wide, random plank width flooring in Oak and Maple. For traditional interiors, hardwood flooring in widths of 2¼ to 3¼ inches in Oak, Maple, or Walnut, or parquet flooring, will be smart choices. Virtually any type of wood can be used in a contemporary setting, depending on what stain or finish is used—for example, pewter, dark charcoal, or whitewash finishes can transform any wood species into a modern masterpiece.

How to choose the best wood flooring

Looking to update your flooring and don’t know where to start? Wood flooring should be your first port of call. Why? Wood flooring creates a great backdrop to any contemporary interior, while functioning as a key aspect of a period home’s historic character.

WHICH WOOD COLOUR IS BEST FOR YOUR ROOM?

One of the many advantages of a timber floor is that the look of natural wood works well with many decorating styles, allowing versatility when you redecorate. But the wood flooring’s colour choice should be based on more factors that just your decorative scheme.

White and pale grey wood floors are perfect for low-traffic rooms, and their light colour will enhance space in a small room brilliantly. Contemporary and light-reflecting, they will however show up dirt and dents pretty quickly.

Warm, honey-toned wood floors will disguise dirt and create a welcoming feel, ideal for a large, open-plan space that you want to feel cosier. Less contemporary than paler wood floor finishes, mid-toned wood is perfect for creating a relaxed, more traditional finish.

Dark wood floors will create a more formal, intimate feel in a room, but can also be used in industrial-style spaces for a smart, contemporary finish, especially if used as a backdrop to show off light-coloured furniture.

Your Guide to the Different Types of Wood Flooring

If you’re thinking of putting in wood floors, you can’t go wrong. All types of hardwood floors have unmatched natural beauty and go with any decor — modern, traditional, country, you name it. Hardwood flooring goes in any room, although kitchens and basements warrant special considerations.

Unfinished or Finished?

Unfinished hardwood flooring is a good option if you want a custom stain applied before the final finish, or if you want to match the color of existing flooring. After hardwood flooring installation and staining, the flooring is given several coats of protective finish. If you’re thinking of adding hardwood flooring in your kitchen, unfinished flooring is a good choice because the finish will penetrate and seal the seams between boards, helping to prevent water from seeping between boards

Solid or Engineered?

Solid hardwood flooring is all wood and comes 5/8 to 3/4 inches thick. Because it’s solid wood, it can be sanded and refinished many times. However, it’s susceptible to changes in humidity, and isn’t recommended for below-grade basements

What Species Is Best?

The best hardwood floors are made with wood species that are readily available and — you guessed it — very hard. Oak flooring, maple flooring and cherry flooring are all good choices. Other species include bamboo (which is actually a grass), walnut, ash and mahogany. You’ll pay a premium price for more exotic species, such as teak, jarrah and mesquite. Check to make sure the hardwood flooring you choose comes from sustainably harvested forests.

Another option is reclaimed hardwood flooring, which you can find at salvage yards. It likely has some signs of wear and age, but you’ll pay about half what it would cost for comparable new flooring. If they don’t have what you’re looking for (and you have the time), ask to be put on a waiting list. Salvage flooring is an especially good choice if you’re renovating an older house.

The Factors That You Want To Understand About Outdoor Electrical Lighting

Outdoor Lighting Buying Guide

Add beauty and security with outdoor lighting. Our guide helps you understand outdoor lighting fixture types and functions so you can choose the best and safest accent lighting, post lighting and deck lighting for your home.

What Is Outdoor Lighting?

Outdoor lighting includes a variety of light fixtures that address and improve exterior home security and safety. Additionally, these outdoor lighting fixtures highlight landscaping and architecture at night and come in a variety of styles and finishes

Power and Performance

With options ranging from hardwire flood lights to plug-in dusk-to-dawn lights to even solar motion lights, you can find the perfect outdoor flood lights for your landscape and the exterior of your home.

Solar-powered outdoor lighting draws the energy it needs to make the lights operate from sunlight. Though this option can cost more for the initial purchase and setup, you can ultimately save on your energy bill. Be sure to install the solar panels in areas that receive sufficient sunlight, and avoid dark and shadowy areas of your home.

Security and Flood Lights

Security and flood lights are broad-beamed, high-intensity lights designed to flood large areas with light. As a result, these fixtures are often used as a preventive measure to reduce criminal activity and increase feelings of safety, especially when equipped with a motion sensor that causes the light to illuminate when movement is perceived

DIY Outdoor Lighting Tips for Beginners

No Electrical Experience Necessary

Since most outdoor lighting is low voltage, it’s safe and easy enough for any DIYer to install. In fact, the only special tool you’ll need is a wire stripper. Find out what’s trending in outdoor lighting before embarking on your project.

Install Underground Wiring After Planting

To prevent accidental cutting of wiring for ground-level fixtures, install wiring after your landscape has been planted. That way you won’t accidentally chop through it with a shovel. Also, don’t install wiring in digging areas like garden beds, and be sure to bury low-voltage wire at least 6 in. below the surface.

How It All Fits Together

A low-voltage system has three parts:

The transformer plugs into a nearby GFCI-protected outlet and reduces 120-volt current to 12 volts.

The low-voltage cable carries current between the transformer and the light fixtures.

The light fixtures get connected to the cable with wire connectors made specifically for outdoor use.

Keep Your Fixtures; Upgrade Your Bulbs

For decades, halogen lights reigned supreme in low-voltage outdoor lighting systems, but LEDs have all but replaced them because they cost less to operate and last much longer. But you don’t have to tear out all your old halogen fixtures to enjoy the benefits of LEDs—retrofit bulbs are available. Just be sure to replace each halogen bulb with equivalent wattage and the same base type. Expect to pay about four times more for an LED bulb, but they use less energy and you’ll get up to 20 years of life from one compared with only two or three years from a halogen

Don’t Overlap Pools of Light

The purpose of most deck lighting is ambience, and professional outdoor lighting designers say it’s best not to create overlapping ‘pools’ of light on decks and patios. So avoid mounting fixtures too close together. For decks, choose fixtures that cast a 4- to 5-ft. pool of light. Keep them 30 in. up off the deck’s floor and space them up to 10 ft. apart. Overlapping lights on deck stairs and walkways can be a good thing, however, by providing enough light to help people avoid tripping. You might want to consider one of these cheap landscaping ideas to really make your yard pop

The Best Ways to Light the Backyard

Darkness needn’t put a damper on backyard activities like swimming and barbecuing. By installing backyard lighting, you can keep the party going long after dusk, boost outdoor ambiance, and protect your property from unseen threats.

The three main types of backyard illumination are safety lighting to deter prowlers and improve navigation, landscape lighting to accentuate garden features, and accent lighting to put the focus on the hardscape. Ultimately, you’d want all three types in your backyard to achieve different lighting levels for different needs—and within each of these categories, there’s a variety of lighting choices. So let us shine a light on the best backyard illumination options, so you’ll know what to put in your outdoor space

Security Lighting

Security lighting, generally the brightest backyard lighting, is safety lighting to illuminate large areas and scare off would-be burglars or destructive animals. Powered by standard, 120-Volt current, this lighting is installed high spots such as the eaves or above a garage to cast wide beams of light down onto main walkways or the backyard fence entrance.

Security Lights

blends in with your home’s trim when positioned on the eaves or the underside of a covered patio. But you’ll know that this wired light is there when you approach: Its three optical LED lights produce a powerful 2400 lumens to light up your landscape as bright as day for up to 100 feet for as long as you choose. And, when placed at the corner of the eaves, the rotating optics on the Revolve can be adjusted to light up two sides of the house.

Path Lighting

Path lighting is soft to moderately bright safety and landscape lighting designed to help you navigate walkways while attractively highlighting them. Install it on the ground along both sides of main walkways from the back door to your fence door, along stepping stones from the main walkway to a backyard feature like a fountain, and/or around flower beds to emphasize their contours.

String Lighting

String lighting is soft, low-voltage accent lighting used to evoke a warm, intimate ambiance that’s especially desirable for entertaining. Hang string lights wherever the activity is—be it on the eaves of the home to brighten an outdoor kitchen or from the posts of an outdoor pavilion or gazebo to illuminate patio furniture.

Tips for Safe Outdoor Lighting

Most of us have some lighting outside our home that belongs to us, and that we control. Porch lights or security lights, for example. A lot of people also like to add outdoor lighting as part of decorating for the holidays — some at Halloween and even more at Christmas.

We all like to be safe too, and to keep our house, our family, our pets, and our guests safe too — even if they’re only staying long enough to pick up some candy or sing a carol. That means that we want the lights, power cords, controls and everything else associated with our outdoor lighting to be done with safety in mind.

Install Outdoor-Rated Fixtures

If you’re installing a lighting fixture outdoors, it must be designed and built to be there. For two quick examples, a light that’s under your porch roof and never gets wet needs to be rated for damp locations, or say “outdoor” on it, because it will still get damp, cold and hot, and it needs to be able to take that.

Use Outdoor-Rated Light Bulbs

In an exposed fixture such as an outdoor flood light, most of us think of this. But it’ll pay you in terms of the life of the bulb and the ease of replacing it to do the same with your porch light. If you’re having trouble finding a standard bulb that’s rated for outdoor use, check the fine print on some appliance bulbs. If it can survive in a freezer or an oven, it can probably survive outdoors

Don’t Overlamp a Fixture

Most fixtures, indoor or outdoor, will have a sticker or label that says “Maximum Wattage: 60W”, or 75W or 100W. Whatever it says, respect that. It’s there to keep you from putting in a light bulb that will overheat the wiring in the fixture, which will damage the insulation on the wires. What matters most is the actual wattage of the bulb — not the “incandescent equivalent.” If you’re putting a CFL bulb in a fixture with a 60W rating, for example, you can use one that draws any amount of power up to 60W (which would put out more light than a 200W incandescent bulb)

Outdoor Lighting Guide: Rating, Sizing, Placement, Finish & Style

Outdoor lighting is growing in popularity as an addition to many homes as it not only increases the curb appeal, but helps with security and ensuring the safety of guests. From the gorgeous outdoor pendant that greets you at the front door, to the modern post lighting that guides your way through the back yard, outdoor lighting can help enhance all exterior areas around your home

While of course there is no law which says you must hang and mount your outdoor lighting fixtures according to our specifications, we have provided a guide of the best practices for sizing and placing various types of outdoor lighting. These practices have been developed not only for aesthetic appeal, but for safety as well. You will find that many frequently asked questions regarding the sizing or placement of particular lighting types will be addressed within the text, tables, and infographics throughout our outdoor lighting guide.

HOW TO CHOOSE BETWEEN A WET OR DAMP RATED LIGHT FIXTURE

When it comes to choosing the perfect fixture for your outdoor area, one of the most important factors is the UL (Underwriters Laboratories) rating that the fixture carries. UL wet and UL damp ratings are both indicators that your fixture can be installed outdoors. However, these different ratings indicate which outdoor areas are suitable for your fixture. While wet-rated lighting fixtures can stand up to the elements, some damp rated fixtures may only hold up to a certain level of moisture and indirect weathering.

DETERMINING THE SIZE & PLACEMENT OF YOUR LIGHTING FIXTURE

The main goal when determining the size and placement of your outdoor lighting fixtures is to enhance the curb appeal of your home. While it’s certainly fun to get creative with lighting placement around the home, there are safe and effective ways to measure and place your lighting fixtures in various outdoor locations.

GARAGE DOOR LIGHTING

Outdoor garage lighting is not only an attractive addition for the exterior of your home, but it is also a functional fixture to consider. Not only can you install wall mount fixtures on the sides of the garage door but you can also install lighting above the garage door to help light the surrounding driveway and areas. Below, you can see the best practice for installing garage lighting above the garage door. To see how to place lighting on the sides of the garage door, please refer to the outdoor wall lighting instructions.

How To Keep Squirrel Away From Your Bird’s Food

Tips To Keep Squirrels Away From Your House

If you have a squirrel problem at your house, you’re just a phone call away from help from professional pest control specialists, who will be necessary if you have discovered a squirrel inside your home. Many people insist on trying to get rid of squirrels that have invaded their home without the help of trained exterminators, and this is just not wise because of the danger involved with these animals.

If you have a squirrel problem, our first suggestion is to avoid squirrel repellents you see in home goods stores because they simply don’t work. While these products may serve as a temporary deterrent for the squirrels around your yard, they will not get rid of them for good. Squirrels are extremely determined little pests, and once they choose your home as their new hangout, they are very hard to get rid of, but there are steps you can take keep them out of your yard, garden and home for the time being.

First, remove any food and water provided for your pets from the decks, porches, and yard surrounding your home. With colder temperatures upon us, it’s time to keep your animals indoors as much as possibly anyway. Those bowls of food and water are invitations to the squirrels in your area to hang out near your home, so the sooner you remove the bowls of food, the sooner your squirrels will be forced to look elsewhere for their next meal.

Next, take a thorough walk around the exterior of your home and check for any holes or spaces that these critters can enter your home through, and patch them up immediately. Make sure you close holes and spaces with durable materials that will last such as metal, glass or aluminum. Squirrels can gnaw their way through plastic, wood and similar lightweight materials, so choose the toughest stuff on the market to protect the interior of your home from these pests.

If you have bird feeders in your yard, move them to the farthest corners and as far away from any doors or windows to your home as possible. Squirrels are big fans of bird feeders, so if the feeders are close to your home, the squirrels will be close to your home, also.

Squirrels

Squirrels are probably one of the most common species of wildlife the average city dweller runs into (outside of pigeons). Most of the time, they are running around lawns, trees and bushes and around wooded areas. They are famous for grabbing acorns and nuts and hiding them in the ground as well as running up trees and across electrical wires, rooftops and other areas.

For the most part, squirrels are generally not a nuisance, but the act they live in such close proximity to homes and other buildings which means they can sometimes get inside walls, attics, basements and other areas. It’s then that squirrels can become a destructive nuisance and may require contacting a squirrel exterminator.

Where do squirrels live?

Squirrels usually live in trees. They build very large nests high in the trees to give birth, hide food and raise their young. The nests are made from leaves and other debris, but they run up and down trees on a constant search for food. During certain parts of the year, they hide food in trees, bury it in yards and find other places to hide food so they can get to it during the winter months.

Squirrels live all across North America. They are highly adaptive and live in warmer climates and climates where there is severe winter, snow and cold. They are also found in all corners of the world, except for Antarctica and the Arctic Circle. They survive in rural areas but also adapt well to urban areas.

Are squirrels dangerous?

In general, squirrels just want to be left alone, so they are not usually dangerous. They are sometimes a nuisance, however. Plus, if cornered or sick, squirrels will bite to fight their way out of a situation. Finally, their tendency to gnaw on objects can also be a problem.

SQUIRRELS

About Squirrels

Since we continue to invade wildlife’s natural habitat with our buildings and homes, we leave them no alternative but to enter our homes.

Squirrel populations are expected to continually rise due to the plentiful food supplies and mild climate patterns.

Humane Squirrel Removal

Envirotech’s strategy is to use humane methods to remove the squirrel(s) as safely as possible. Typically, we try to establish a strategy that forces the animal to leave your home without return, (one-way exit). This way the squirrel(s) are able to leave and find shelter on their own terms, along with bringing their pups if any are present.

Exclusion

After we safely remove the squirrel, we find and secure entrance points, such as holes, wires, cracks, and beams – anything they might use to reenter the structure. We make sure that your house is 100% nuisance wildlife proof.

Sanitize

Our squirrel pest control experts will then complete a proper cleanup to ensure the animal’s harboring area and feces are cleaned up and thoroughly sanitized. This provides safe living conditions for your home after the critter has been driven out.

Squirrel Control

The incessant scratching, gnawing and chattering of squirrels in the attic or ceiling voids of your home or cottage can make you crazy. Squirrels are active throughout the year and gain access to your home or cottage through tiny holes in the soffit, facia or even through compromised vents. Squirrels are a species that can cause a lot of damage to a home – insulation, (In severe cases the damage to attic insulation, substantially reduces it’s R value and requires replacement) electrical system, wood beams – and they not only let themselves in, but their entry points easily lead the way for other wildlife to enter. Squirrels can squeeze through small holes and cracks, and if they can into a home through one, so can mice, bats, skunks, rats, and sometimes even raccoons. The longer you wait to take control of your squirrel issue, the higher the chance you’ll be paying more out of your pocket.

Squirrels carry quite a bit of nesting material into the attic of your home or cottage which could be disease ridden of full of gnats, ticks and flees. They urinate and defecate all over your attic which develops into a terrible odour which is toxic and can cause damage to your ceilings. Squirrel feces can spread Salmonella and their bite transmit rabies to humans and pets.

Inspection and Assessment

During this step, our expert wildlife technician will gather information from the home/cottage owner or resident and conduct both an interior and exterior assessment of you home or cottage, this service will take up to an hour depending upon the individual needs of your Squirrel situation.

Gathering information, the information gathered from you is beneficial in your technician being able to focus his/her attention on the key areas and situations specific to your experiences and needs.

Your interior assessment, during the interior assessment the technician will require access to your attic as well as any other area where you have experienced Squirrel sightings, noises or have found droppings, excrement and or damage. In these key areas he/she will be investigating to determine both the level of infestation as well as ascertaining that it is a Squirrel that is the invader. Attention will be paid to possible nesting sights, runways (Squirrels often use wall voids, between ceiling to move throughout your home or cottage), damage incurred, accumulation of droppings, location of droppings and the presence of wildlife babies. This information is necessary in the strategic removal of unwanted Squirrels from your home or cottage

Squirrel

Squirrels have a tendency to chew on edible and non-edible objects. Because their teeth grow continuously, their constant gnawing helps maintain sharp teeth and prevent overgrowth.

Diet

Generally, squirrels feed on tree bark, seeds, walnuts, acorns, other kinds of nuts, and the various fungi that are found in the forest region. They are an opportunist in searching for food, and therefore can adapt to a wide variety of habitats. Squirrels change their diet based on the current season and eat whatever is available. They feed on buds of hardwood trees in spring, winged seeds of maple in summer, along with some other berries and other wild fruits. During autumn, their diet comprises mostly of hard nuts, hickory nuts, beechnuts, pine seeds, and butternuts. During this time of year, they are also working hard to stock up their supplies for winter.

Habitat

Often seen scampering from branch to branch, squirrels are seen in all kinds of environments, including parks, neighborhoods and wooded areas. The ideal habitat for a squirrel has an abundance of nut-producing trees and a diverse selection of other food sources available during different seasons

Life Cycle

Gray squirrels breed in mid-December or early January and again in June if food is very abundant. Most females begin their reproductive life at one year old. Males usually are sexually mature by 11 months, but maturity can be delayed by as much as two years if the young males are around a dominant adult male. During the breeding season, noisy mating chases take place when one or more males pursue a female through the trees. When not breeding, the gray squirrel is solitary. Pregnancy lasts about 44 days with one to eight pups in each litter. The young are cared for by the mother and are weaned after they are two months old.

Diseases

The gray squirrel is a host to many diseases and parasites, including lice, worms, and ticks.

Are Car Dealer Websites Important For Used Car Dealers

Top Tips for Choosing the Best Car Dealer

When looking the car dealer to do business with, you should check the types of cars that they stock. First of all, you should identify a car dealer that sells and buy both old and new cars. This way you will be sure that you are covered. You should also make sure that they deal in a wide range of cars that you can choose from. It is essential to make sure that they are stocking the latest cars especially if you wish to purchase a new one. Here you should look for vehicles such as Kia cars, SUVs, sedan, limousine, minibus among others that you may need

Apart from that, you should also choose a full-services auto dealer. This means that apart from selling cars, they should also be selling their parts, offering repair services as well as maintenance services among others. One good thing about buying a car from these people is that you will not have to be worried about where you will repair your car or get the replacement parts.

The other thing that you should check is the other services that they are offering. For instance, you should check if they are offering towing services or delivery services. You should also confirm if they allow trade-in. This is where you have a used car that you would like them to take plus some cash in exchange for a new car or a different one. Not only that you should also confirm if they offer financing services. One thing that needs to know is that buying a new car is not easy and you may need some loan of which you will pay in installments.

Besides, you should also check if they provide you with a warranty. It is not wise to choose a car dealer who does not have a warranty. Make sure that the potential car dealer provides a written warranty that lasts for many years on their vehicles and parts. This way you will be able to enjoy free or affordable repair, replacement and maintenance services when the warranty is on. It is also true that dealers who offer warranty have the best quality cars and services.

Lastly, you should also check their pricing. In this case, you are required to choose a dealer who will provide you with the best quality cars at competitive rates. Here you will be able to save a lot of money on your next car

How to choose a good car retailer

Before the average person buys a car, they spend 11 hours doing online research to find just the right model. Do they think about where to buy it from, though? Probably not. But they should… In the UK, there are three main types of car dealer – franchised, independent and supermarkets – and, as you can see from our film above, you can have a good experience at any one. You just have to find the one where you feel most comfortable and happy.

Before you start, remember you’re not looking for the impossible. What you want are things all legitimate retailers can show. Our film will give you more details, but we recommend three things to help you find the right retailer: find independent reviews and ratings; look through the company’s website; and, see if they are members of any recognised industry organisations.

Thankfully, the days of dodgy dealers are swiftly becoming a thing of the past, as customers start to buy cars from ‘retailers’, who offer a good-quality car with great customer service. What’s more, the internet has made the whole market much more transparent. Both you and the retailer can check similar cars for sale all over the country, so you can be sure the one you’re interested in is priced fairly.

In other words, you can find the car you want, turn up at the retailer, and feel much more confident you’re buying the right car at the right price. In many cases, you can also turn up with an independent valuation of your part-exchange, so you know the whole deal is fair.

Top Tips To Choose A Car Dealership

It is fact that the consumers looking for cars are not down with the scarcity of car dealers in the market. There are thousands of car dealers to choose from but then it is a fact that your car shopping experience completely depends on the kind of the dealership you go for. People have good experience with some dealerships while they are disappointed by others. Your experience does not come as a luck rather it is the result of the steps you follow to make the choice.

Price: When purchasing a car no one wants to pay more and everybody wants to be sure that they have made the best deal. Its human nature, there is no solution for this!

Service: To keep the car moving, people need people and most of the dealerships gain a good amount from customer service. Right service works to strengthen the root of the relationship between the consumer and dealership. You will be able to find the right solution for your car without having to spend on unnecessary expenses.

Availability: Availability plays a very critical role as you want to have the car of your choice available in the stock. In case the dealership does not have much choice then they will have to get it for your from the manufacturer or you will have to buy from what you find. In both the scenario the shopping experience is affected. So you will need to find a dealer who has enough choice to offer you

It is not possible to hide poor services anymore and you will easily find a review about a dealership on the internet. It becomes important for the dealership to follow transparency and it will help the consumers to evaluate the dealership

How to Choose the Right Pre-owned Car Dealer

Cars are an essential part of our lives. They not only complete our transportation needs, but also become our companion for long journeys. Buying a new car is not an easy task. Whether you buy a budget hatchback or a premium SUV, choosing the right car is not everyone’s cup of tea. After all, it involves a lot of your hard-earned money. That is why the best decision to make is to consider buying a pre-owned vehicle. But to bring home the best pre-owned car, you need a trusted and transparent dealership.

Since the pre-owned vehicle market is now an immensely diverse niche, a lot of new players and business entities are trying out their luck in the field. But with so many sellers and dealership, it is hard to make out which one’s genuine. A lot of innocent buyers often find themselves trapped in a fraudulent or scam transaction. However, to protect yourself from getting scammed, here are a few things you must look out for in a pre-owned car dealer

A diverse inventory

One of the most defining features for any pre-owned dealership is it’s inventory of cars. Whenever you go out to look for your next pre-owned vehicle, make sure to transact with a dealer that offers a diverse inventory. This way you can be assured of finding the perfect car that matches your budget and other key preferences. Ask your dealer to show you cars based upon your budget, type, colour or any other preference. This way you will know that the dealer is genuine and does not deal in cars that could potentially be stolen or acquired without a good title

Non-Accidental Cars with a Good Title

Another thing you must make sure while transacting with a pre-owned car dealer is that each car you inspect must have a non-accidental history and a good title. To make sure you are safe from any kind of fraud/scam ask your dealer to show you original copies of documents like Registration Certificate and Insurance History. Transacting with a dealer that provides you with original/authentic copies of title papers and insurance history, can prevent you from getting scammed

Fair and Competitive Pricing

Since buying a new car involves a substantial amount of your savings, make sure you transact with a dealer that offers competitive pricing. A good and fair dealership often removes middlemen to offer you a huge price advantage. While comparing prices offered by the various dealerships, make sure you keep in mind factors such as current and past market trends, demand and availability of the model you prefer, condition of the car and its interiors and future resale value. This way you tone down dealership options to ultimately chose a dealer that offers fair and competitive pricing.

things you need to know before buying a car

Buying a new or used car can be an intimidating experience.

Many car salespeople may pressure you to leave the lot with a purchased vehicle, so it’s crucial you’re armed with information about the cars you are interested in, the budget you can afford, and the value of your trade-in — if you have one. With these details, you have all the tools you need to negotiate properly.

Think about financing

Prior to visiting any dealership, have a sense of what kind of deposit you can put down and what monthly payment you can afford. It also helps to do some research on available auto loans to get a sense of what you qualify for. Or try a service like AutoGravity, which allows you to select rates and terms that fit your budget and then obtain offers from lenders.

Check your credit score

Knowing your credit score can be helpful as well. Justin Lavelle, chief communications officer for BeenVerified, says, “Having a good idea of your credit report and credit score and the interest rates available can help you negotiate a good deal and save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.”

Shop around

Research the cars you might be interested in before you head to a dealership, rather than going in unprepared. To determine what kind of car you want, use resources like US News Best Cars, where you can search anything from “best cars for families” to “best used cars under 10k.” Another resource is Autotrader, which can be used to search new and used cars in your area by make, model, price, body style, and more.

Compare prices

Lavelle also stresses getting detailed pricing info in advance: “Price the car at different dealerships and use online services to get invoice and deal pricing.” A reliable tool is Kelley Blue Book. Use the site’s car value tool to find out the MSRP and the dealer invoice of a car as well as a range of prices you can expect to see at dealerships. TrueCar is also helpful to use. You can search for and request pricing on any make, model, or year of car. You may get a slew of phone calls, emails, and texts from dealers immediately after, but having information from different dealerships can help you negotiate prices. You should also visit dealer sites to look for rebate offers.