RE/MAX What's Trending in Tampa Area Beaches
Courtesy of Dave Lewis

Start enjoying your deck after one day’s work

Start%20enjoying%20your%20deck%20after%20one%20day%27s%20workMost deck owners know that one of the keys to keeping their decks looking good is staining it every few years. However, while deck staining is a process that most homeowners are capable of doing themselves, finding the time to do it can be difficult. With the right approach and the right products, you can get everything done in just one day and spend the rest of the year enjoying your newly stained deck.
 
By perfecting your process, you can take staining from something that you dread to a simple one-day process. Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting your deck looking good in a day:
 
* First, choose the look you want to project on your deck. Do you want a clear, semi-transparent or solid finish? Do some research to see which type of wood stain would look best on your deck. Clear finish generally looks better on newer wood, while a solid finish might be used on older decks to hide imperfections. If you are looking for the solution that will allow you to accomplish your project in one day, you’ll need to choose a product like Flood OneCoat Waterproofing Finish, which can be applied within a few hours of cleaning the surface.
 
* Always know your deck’s square footage before heading to the store to buy stain. Don’t estimate, because nothing is more frustrating than having to stop your project because you ran out of stain - Flood.com offers a handy calculator so you can get an idea of how much you might need. Make sure you also have all the necessary supplies before leaving the store.
 
* Before the day you stain, examine your deck to see if there are any necessary repairs that should be done. If your deck is squeaky, it’s likely due to loose nails. Replace loose or missing nails with deck screws, as hammering a nail into the same spot won’t fix the problem.
 
* Once you have all the supplies, check the weather report and pick a day that’s good for staining. Required temperatures will vary but it should set for at least 48 hours without a threat of rain.
 
* Remove everything from your deck and use a wood cleaner to clean and prepare your surface. Decks that are in good condition can simply be cleaned before staining. But if your deck is peeling, has mildew growth or experiencing other surface irregularities, it’s best to strip it before staining.
 
* If you’re using Flood OneCoat Waterproofing Finish, you can begin staining a few hours after you prepped the surface. Quick tip: If you’re using multiple cans of stain, mix them together for color consistency and continue to stir throughout the process.
 
* Work the entire length of each board and make sure you are applying evenly throughout. If you are working on a vertical surface, start at the bottom and work up to avoid streaking.
 
* Take your time to do a thorough job, but make sure you use only as much stain as the directions call for. Especially when working with oil products, using too much can ruin the look of your deck.
It’s important to note that for larger decks, or decks that pose unique challenges such as numerous hard-to-reach areas, the process could take longer than a day. But by following these steps, you’ll ensure that your deck will be looking great in less time and with less hassle.
 
Once you’ve finished staining, dispose of any extra stain or cleaner as directed by the instructions on the can and let the deck dry for the prescribed amount of time before walking or placing items on it. In no time, you’ll be enjoying your deck for the seasons to come.

For more deck staining tips, helpful tools and videos and help finding a home improvement retailer near you, visit www.flood.com.


Courtesy of BPT

Home improvement tips that instantly lower your energy bill

(BPT) - It’s one piece of mail homeowners dread every month: the utility bill. Considering the average annual utility bill is $2,200, according to energystar.gov, it’s no wonder homeowners cringe every time it arrives. What if you opened your bill and, to your surprise, it was lower than expected? With a few simple steps, that is possible, even when the temperature drops.

Heating, cooling and water heating are the top three energy drains in a home, accounting for 60 percent of a home’s energy bill according to ENERGY STAR, so it’s wise to focus your home improvement efforts on those areas. A few simple steps and some strategic investments can lower your monthly bill significantly, plus you’ll reduce your carbon footprint. Here are some tips for giving your home an energy-efficient facelift:

Change your home’s air filter regularly

Smart homeowners will check their home’s air filter every month to see if it needs replacing. How can you tell if it’s time to swap in a new one? Look at the color - if it appears gray or brown, or you can visibly see particles or pet fur, it’s time for a fresh one. A filter helps keep air flowing in your home and takes out dust, dander and other microscopic debris floating in the air. A dirty filter slows air flow, making your heating and cooling system work harder, costing you more money. Air filters should be replaced every one to three months.

Go beyond tankless: consider an integrated heating and water heating system

Many homeowners have heard about the advantages of tankless water heaters, but now there’s a way to be even more efficient by using the Rheem Integrated Heating & Water Heating System, which uses a Rheem tankless water heater to heat both the air and water in your home with maximum efficiency. How does it work? The system matches a hydronic air handler with a tankless gas water heater.- When there’s a demand for heat, hot water is circulated through the air handler to produce heat and is then re-circulated back to the tankless water heater to ensure that no water is wasted. This pairing of products provides a soft, comfortable heat to the home while maintaining comfortable humidity levels regardless of the climate. Also, the heating function of the system operates at the same efficiency as the tankless water heater - which could be as high as 94 percent efficient.

Lower the temperature on your water heater

To lower energy costs, consider lowering your water heater’s temperature setting. Try somewhere around 120 degrees Fahrenheit and see if that is sufficient in supplying your home with hot water for showers, laundry, dishes, etc. Each 10 degree reduction in water temperature can save 3 to 5 percent, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. If you go on vacation, remember you can turn your water heater down to the lowest setting to save even more while you’re gone and it’s not in use.

Install a programmable thermostat

Adjusting your thermostat a few degrees during the day can have a big impact on your utility bill. For example, during cold months, turn your thermostat down when you’re away from the house, such as during work. Programmable thermostats work perfectly for this - you can set your preferred temperatures throughout the week to fit your schedule and it adjusts automatically. About one-third of American homes have programmable thermostats, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. If you turn back your thermostat 10 or 15 degrees for periods of 8 hours or more, such as when you’re at work, you can save 5 to 15 percent a year on your heating bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

From changing your air filter on a regular basis to selecting an integrated system to heat your home’s water and air supply, these changes can have a big impact on your utility bill, plus they’re environmentally friendly too.

Courtesy of BPT

Four hot, new-home trends that can work for your remodel

(BPT) - Builders are back in business, and new-home construction is up in areas across the country. So is remodeling, as plenty of Americans choose to stay put and upgrade their current homes rather than tackle the challenge of buying and moving into something new.

If you’re planning to renovate your home, you can tap some of the hottest trends showing up in new-home designs. Here are four new-home trends that offer strong returns on your time and money:

1. Creating a view - Americans continue to embrace all things green and that trend is showing up in new home construction in a number of ways, including an emphasis on energy-efficient windows that bring the outdoors inside with a great view.

If your home has older windows, they’re likely not as energy efficient as newer options, so replacing them can improve your heating and cooling efficiency. Window replacements typically provide a high return on investment at the time or resale, too - more than 73 percent for wood windows and 71 percent-plus for vinyl, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report.

While you’re replacing your windows, you also have the opportunity to open up your home more to outdoor views. Work with your architect or designer and contractor to determine where the best views are, and how much additional glass you can incorporate into your renovation to capitalize on those views.

2. Adding a bathroom - When it comes to renovations that improve resale value and enhance a home’s usability, adding a bathroom is at the top of the list for many homeowners. While today’s new smaller homes often have less square footage, demand for multiple bathrooms has not changed.

In existing homes, adding a bathroom can sometimes pose plumbing challenges. Up-flush plumbing can solve a lot of them. Up-flush systems pump waste and water from a toilet, sink or bathtub up and out, instead of into a below-floor sewage pit.

Up-flush toilets enable homeowners to easily and cost-effectively install a bathroom virtually anywhere without breaking through the floors - a special advantage when those floors are made of concrete. That means adding a basement bathroom doesn’t require cutting into a home’s concrete foundation, and you can easily add an attic bathroom without tearing up the first-floor ceiling. According to Saniflo, makers of up-flush plumbing products, adding a bathroom using this type of plumbing can cost about $5,000 less than one that uses conventional plumbing.

3. Defining the kitchen - Kitchens are another popular renovation that pays off in a number of ways. Architects are fine-tuning the popular wide-open floor plan concept, and the change is showing up in the kitchen. Favored designs now open the kitchen on one side to an adjoining room, such as the family room, but enclose the other three walls to create a more defined space, as well as more storage and cabinet options.

This trend works particularly well in older homes where you frequently find a completely separate kitchen. Now, rather than ripping out three walls to create an entirely open flow, you can tap the latest kitchen design trend by opening up just a single wall in the kitchen. This leaves the space well-defined, but also adds the open, social feeling that is so appealing in many new home designs.

4. Maximizing every inch of space - With smaller floor plans gaining popularity, making the most of every inch of space is vital. New-home design employs entertaining nooks, breakfast alcoves, built-ins, pocket doors and other tricks to use every inch of space wisely.

It’s a trend that also works well in older homes that may have smaller rooms and less square footage than the McMansions popular a few years ago. For example, it’s easier to add a built-in desk to a spare corner and create an office alcove than it is to add an entire office to your floor plan.

If you crave a fresh environment and the latest home design trends, you don’t have to give up your old home and tackle the hassles of moving into something new. With some planning and creativity, it’s possible to translate some of the hottest new-home design trends into your renovation project.

Courtesy of BPT

Ingenious gadgets keep smart gardeners playing in the dirt

Ingenious%20gadgets%20keep%20smart%20gardeners%20playing%20in%20the%20dirtGardeners who like things easy, have mobility issues or get muscle fatigue are always on the lookout for smart gardening gadgets designed to keep them playing in the dirt. This season some of the best gardening gadgets are ingenious and, often low-tech, doing the job they’re designed to do brilliantly without added fuss or bother.

* Make heavy lifting easier -With a nifty labor-saving sling device called Pot Lifter, two people working together can move big bulky items with ease. Just slip the sling around the object and lift.

* Stop weeds - Preen garden weed preventers cut down significantly on the onerous task of weeding by stopping new weed seeds from rooting and growing for up to three to four months per application. Now Preen offers a smart battery-powered spreader-applicator cap that makes it even easier to apply Preen pre-emergent granules atop garden soil or mulch. Gardeners who have tried the new applicator found it comfortable to use, providing a steady, even application rate. Quickly cover large areas and easily direct the granule flow into hard to reach places such as under shrubs and between plants. Weeds that don’t root, don’t grow. No weeds, no weeding.

* Spare knees while kneeling - Jolly Kneeler is a molded polyurethane knee-rest that is orthopedically designed to support gardeners comfortably while they’re on their knees planting, plucking or playing in the dirt. The simple one-piece kneeler has a handle for carrying ease. Its bright red color makes it hard to lose in green garden beds or grass.

* Water plants from the porch - Have a cool drink on the porch, then repurpose a soda, tea or water bottle into a remarkably low-tech garden container watering device. AquaCones from Achla Designs are super easy watering spikes that attach to plastic bottles. Just flip over and sink the spike into the soil. The water in the upside down bottle slowly drains to the plant roots, rewarding gardeners with more free time on the porch.

* Try raking in circles- Raking can be a pain, especially when moving heavy wet leaves or debris or mulch. The Ground Hog Circular Rake has a circular head with teeth. Its encompassing design minimizes raking labor by gathering and keeping raked materials together as it’s being pulled or moved. Less spillage means fewer strokes and raking jobs are quickly done.

For gardeners who like to get backyard tasks done efficiently, quickly, and easily, these smart, well-designed solutions make good sense.

Courtesy of BPT

Home remodeling tips for baby boomers entering their golden years

As America’s 77 million-strong baby boomers reach retirement age, one thing is absolutely clear — they are not going to quietly retreat into their golden years. The most active generation in America’s history wants homes that will support their active lifestyles, and homes that will accommodate the challenges boomers will face, from bad knees, to working from home, to taking on grandchildren.

That’s why building and remodeling homes for aging baby boomers represents one of the biggest trends in the home improvement industry today. It’s primarily in response to how baby boomers view themselves, many of whom don’t believe ‘old’ starts until a person turns 80, according to a Del Webb survey. While many boomers see themselves running, cycling, downhill skiing for many years to come, the reality is that aging creates physical challenges, ranging from arthritis to stiffness to balance issues that could result in debilitating falls. Expecting so much of themselves, many are starting to rethink the design of their homes to accommodate their changing lifestyles.

To meet the needs of this active generation, home builders and remodelers are developing new design and building techniques that incorporate universal design principles. Universal design means creating products and designing spaces that allow the widest range of people, of varying physical abilities, to use one space, from babies to 80-year-olds. Because the typical American home is designed for an active American family whose adults are in their 20s and 30s, many do not meet the needs of boomers who want to age gracefully in their own homes.

'Universal design is about balancing style with the functionality we need as we move from one stage of life to another,' says John Gardner for APEX Siding System, a manufacturer of low maintenance, high durability siding and trim. 'Universal design allows empty nesters to live in their homes longer, allowing them to pursue their goals and passions regardless of the physical abilities that aging may impose upon them.'

If you’re among America’s baby boomer generation, here are some tips offered by Gardner on how to design and remodel your home to meet your needs today and in the future:

Don’t wait until the last-minute - If you intend to live in your current home into your 60s, 70s and 80s, don’t wait until health challenges force you to make changes to your home. Create a master plan using universal design principles that can be implemented over time to spread out the costs of your remodeling investment.

Get an expert - Seek out builders and remodelers who have earned the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) age-in-place certification. These design/build firms are knowledgeable about universal design principles and in building and remodeling homes that meet the needs of aging boomers.

Plan for one-level living - As you remodel your home, create a plan so that everything you need is on one floor, easily accessible to your main entrance on the ground floor. This includes a bedroom, a bathroom with shower, washer and dryer, kitchen and dining area, and access to technology (TV, computer and phone).

Low-maintenance - High maintenance projects, like painting a home, cleaning the exterior side of windows, or sealing cracks and seams in your siding are physically challenging and time-consuming. For example, if your home needs to have the siding replaced, instead of wood or fiber cement siding, which requires re-sealing and repainting every few years, consider APEX pultruded fiberglass siding with Ultrex, a new type of siding that doesn’t need to be repainted or resealed when properly installed by a remodeling professional.

Zero-step entry - Whether you’re maneuvering a stroller through the front door, carrying a load of groceries, or navigating your mother’s wheelchair, invest in a new, wider front door system, featuring a low-maintenance fiberglass door frame, door and lever handle (not door knob) for easy entry.

Task lighting - Add more lighting for close-up tasks such as cooking, reading, hobbies (knitting, fly-tying) and working from home.

Remodel the bathroom - Create an accessible ground-level bathroom for guests of any age by installing a zero-entry threshold shower base, a handheld showerhead and shower rails. Don’t forget to give the shower a non-skid floor treatment and to add anti-scalding protection to the sink and shower.

Courtesy of BPT

Home remodeling for the long haul: Making your space work for you

(BPT) - As more people choose to stay in their current homes longer, Americans are diving into large remodel projects. Forty percent of homeowners plan to remodel or build an addition to their existing home within the next two years, with kitchen and bathroom projects remaining the most popular remodeling jobs, according to the Houzz and Home Survey.

Home remodeling for the long term can be challenging, as newer designs may clash with the existing style of the home. The key to a successful remodel is to choose elements that will create a cohesive design throughout, yet remain fashionable and functional well into the future.

“Whether it’s upgrading their existing home or renovating a newly purchased one to fit their long-term needs, homeowners are settling in and want quality products that will look great, provide design flexibility and perform well over time,” says Andy Wells, vice president of product design, MasterBrand Cabinets, Inc.

Here are a few tips to help make your remodel work for the long haul:

Keep your space flexible with neutral color choices

As homeowners stay in one place longer, they are passing on bright, bold colors, especially in the kitchen and instead choosing neutral colors and clean styles that work well with a variety of design elements. Many new earthy, neutral color palettes provide visual warmth while seamlessly blending with the rest of a house. Moreover, neutral hues can increase dramatic impact when carried throughout the kitchen in various textures, such as flooring, a backsplash or cabinets.

Decora Cabinets recently partnered with Sherwin-Williams to create a custom color-matching program for cabinets, which offers more than 2,000 shades of color to choose from, including a wide range of neutrals that can be easily adapted to specific design tastes. Give your kitchen a warm, cozy feel with Decora’s Down to Earth series of soft browns or create a trendy, elegant feel with the Quiet Sophistication line of blacks and greys in your cabinetry.

Complement existing design elements with transitional styles

Modern cabinets can clash with traditional elements in other rooms, especially when remodeling older homes. Choose cabinets with design elements that easily transition across differing styles and bridge the gap between your desire for a contemporary kitchen and the traditional reality of an older home.

Cabinetry manufacturers are offering many new styles that help create flow between old and new spaces within your home. Consider the new Aristokraft VanWyke Thermofoil cabinets or Omega Perrini cabinet door styles. These simple cabinet doors can adopt a contemporary feel in a kitchen or complement a traditional style in the bathroom, all while maintaining a continuous, polished look across your home.

Create a functional, organized space

Functionality is essential to a kitchen or bath that will continue to meet the changing needs of your family over time, whether it’s ensuring there’s enough storage space for a growing family or making the home more accessible for family members of all ages and abilities. Remodeling for the long haul also means creating a planned, practical space and many new products are available that can help improve the organization in your home.

Diamond Cabinet’s Logix product line offers a wide variety of innovative organizational cabinet solutions for the kitchen. One original space-saver is the new Diamond Wall Pull Down Spice Rack, which brings items down to eye-level from three chrome basket racks inside the cabinets, putting your favorite spices and other items right at your fingertips for easy reach.

With these tips and a wide breadth of cabinetry, colors and styles designed for today’s transitioning homes, remodeling for the long haul has never been easier.

Courtesy of BPT

How to flip a house using project managers

With framing subcontractors coming in as scheduled, I all of a sudden realized that the floor that they would be framing over had some very serious issues.

Pounding on my cell phone to find someone… Anyone to help me on literally zero notice, I realized the only person I had that could do it… Was me.

So I dusted off the flooring toolbox, started pulling out the old flooring tools and began ripping up floorboards with my trusty Wonderbar.

Not having done this kind of work in a few years, one of the boards I ripped up broke loose and smashed me square in the jaw.

Dazed and bloodied… And luckily not having to call the emergency crew… I realized something…

When you’re first learning how to flip a house, there’s lots of different ways to do it.

Especially when it comes to the rehab, there are a number of different paths to take:

Some like to do all the rehab work themselves.
Some don’t want to do any of the rehab work themselves.
And some pick the middle path, doing some work and then having others do the rest.

Which way is best?
How to Flip A House – Do It Yourself?

Personally, I don’t mind doing some of the rehab work…just as long as I don’t have to do all of it.

Unless I feel the overwhelming need to pound a sledgehammer through a few walls in the demo… I’d much rather pay someone else to do it.

Personally, I’d rather spend my time looking for the next deal.

I used to be a flooring guy for years, so if I have to do some of the work on a rehab, I will. And if my experience this past week tells me anything, I think its best to stick to overseeing the rehab work instead of doing the rehab work.

However, when you’re learning the basics of how to flip a house, there’s no doubt that getting your hands dirty on your first house flip is a great way of really getting to know the business.

Doing at least some of the rehab work yourself to start off isn’t a bad idea… But then getting others to do it for you afterward is a great way to scale things… As well as limit potential trips to the Emergency Room.

The Pros and Cons of Hiring a GC to Do Your Flips

In an ideal world, hiring a general contractor (or “GC”) to do all your rehab work is the best possible way to go when you’re house flipping.

But that’s only if you can make the numbers work.

It’s certainly nice to have one single point of contact to do all the dirty work for your house flips and rehabs while you’re out looking for the next deal or rounding up potential buyers.

This way is far easier on you (and your chin), especially if you’re doing it part time or have other real estate deals to tend to.

On the flip side, in many areas of the country it’s extremely difficult to get a contractor to do the work for you and still stick to your 70% Rule in hopes of getting the ARV and profit margin to make the deal work.

The issue is that the really good general contractors out there tend to use the same subcontractors and don’t bid out each job they do. They have “their guys” who do the subcontracting and they’re oftentimes reluctant to try to negotiate with them.

On top of that, remember that a GC adds on 10-20% over what his subcontractors charge him. There’s nothing wrong with that because everyone needs to make a profit here.

And believe me, on many jobs, your GC really earns that wage!

A good tip here is if you are dead set on using a specific contractor, you might be able to negotiate a lower management percent or even none at all for a percentage of the profits on the deal. General contractors also can be good sources of potential funding as well.

If you are just learning how to flip a house…everything is negotiable in house flipping!

Should I Do The Rehab Myself?

To answer this question, it’s going to depend on a lot of different factors, but the biggest factor of all is you.

For me, it was a logical step to do the rehab on my first few house flips. As I said before, I was in the building trades full time and was used to being on job sites. I love construction and to me, turning a run-down shack into a beautiful place to live is one of the coolest things around.

So I went out and got my state contractor’s license, ready to GC my first house flip all on my own.

As I look back on it, despite the challenges, it was great experience. Primarily because I could see firsthand how the whole operation runs. This on the job experience has really helped me in my house flipping career - so much so that when I hired the job out in the future, I knew exactly how to set the rules and how to follow the whole house flipping process.

There’s nothing like firsthand experience to teach you that.

In House Flipping…Know Thyself

Do you absolutely need to do it this way?

I don’t think so. But think of general contracting your first house flip as a bit of “on the job training”. It’s not necessary – but it’s surely an experience you’ll refer back to many times in your house flipping and real estate investing career.

If you have a full time job and are rehabbing one house at a time, then you may very well have the time, but this largely depends on the kind of job you have as well.

If you have a fair amount of flexibility with your job hours, then perhaps it may work.

If you’re tied to a desk all day and an hour commute away from the geographic area you do your flip in, then perhaps not.

However, only you can answer that.

Do understand this though; in order to effectively manage any real estate investing rehab, you will have to be available to manage the sub-contractors by phone, early in the mornings or in the evenings. And if you have other things on your plate, like a job, a wife, kids… This gets tiresome.

There will be times when you’ll need to go on site and if you are on a business trip a thousand miles away at the time, it might be tough to pull this off.

For me, my flooring business allowed me the flexibility to stop in on the job site and check on things whenever I needed so I was fortunate enough to have the flexibility.

You on the other hand, may not.

Ideally, if you have enough money saved up to quit your day job and become a full time Real Estate Investor then this will be much easier for you to manage. Plus at that point, it IS your job!

So if you’re not sure if being the general contractor is right for you, then you may want to try it to see if you like it.

But if you’d rather play it a bit safer, then there is another choice that may be right for you.

Behind Door Number 3: The Project Manager

Short of hiring a full blown general contractor, you could use a project manager instead. We’ve found this to be a very effective way to rehab house flips, especially where hiring a GC is cost prohibitive.

For example, you could approach a smaller, hands-on type of licensed carpenter who has experience working with other subcontractors. You could then negotiate a fee based on his involvement in the project.

I’ve found carpenters and other subs very receptive to this arrangement. On top of the money they make doing the other work on the property, he’s getting paid an override on how well he manages others.

Like I said before, everything is negotiable in real estate investing and house flipping, so be creative here. And remember it’s about “win-win”.

For example, you could do any number of these financial arrangements:

    Flat Fee: Simple enough. Pay a flat fee to oversee the job. No real creativity here.

    Partnership: Work out a partnership or an equity stake in the property. This is a very creative way to handle things. I wouldn’t suggest this strategy on your first flip, but its one to consider.

    Percentage: Pay a percentage of the overall job that may be smaller than a typical general contractors cut. If he’s good, this could really save you.

    Flat Fee and Performance Bonus: Pay the project manager a project management fee of around $2,000 and then assign bonuses for meeting timelines and budgets. The bonuses really keep the project manager motivated because he has a skin in the game. You pay some money upfront, but even more when they hit performance metrics.

Whatever you do though, do your best to establish a fee that works for the both of you. The fee you pay is largely dependent on your location and the going rates that project managers are typically paid.

You can get this kind of information from your real estate investment mentors, from other real estate investors in the area, or at your local REIA meetings.

Where to Find Project Managers

We’ve found that finding someone young, hungry and motivated is the best profile for success. It may differ for you, but these are the kind of guys (it’s usually guys here ladies) who will put in the extra hours and get things moving in the right direction. Young, ambitious and smart is always a good profile to look for.

There may be some ideal project manager candidates in our backyard at technical colleges. These newly graduated students are typically hungry and have a good background that could be ideal for your project. In some cases, if you find a good one and your budget allows it, put them on your payroll and keep them working for you full time.

More often than not, freshly minted students for what they may lack in “real world experience” may more than make up for it with all the background knowledge from school in addition to the computer and technical knowledge for running budgets and keeping things humming smoothly.

Of course, before you go and hire a full time person to manage your flips, make sure you’re in the position to afford it as well as have enough projects going on to keep him or her busy on a regular basis.

So whether you do the rehab on your own, hire a general contractor or get a project manager, you can do well and make money any of these three ways.

Author: Mike LaCava

Mike’s Website: http://www.houseflippingschool.com

Learn the details of counter depth refrigerators

If you are unsatisfied with the space in your kitchen, but need lots of room in the fridge, you should consider counter depth refrigerators. This kind of appliance does not stick out any farther than your kitchen cabinets, which means that it takes up less room than a traditional fridge. However, it is often a bit taller than most refrigerators so that you do not lose much space when it comes to storing your food. Think about the details to consider before you start browsing counter depth refrigerators.

This kind of fridge usually has different measurements than most types, as it usually sticks out into the walkway a few inches less than most, but is a few inches taller. This means that you need an appropriately high ceiling in order to fit this fridge into your home, so be sure that you measure the height as well as the depth. Of course, you should also consider the width like you would before buying any fridge, but the width of most counter depth refrigerators is typically the same as other types.

If you want to add style to your kitchen while adding space, you should consider counter depth refrigerators that blend into the cabinetry. If you go this route, you will need a custom fridge company, but the results are often worth it since having matching cabinets and appliances is certainly unique. Keep in mind that many of the popular counter depth refrigerators on the market come in the French door style, adding to the classy appearance that most homeowners crave.

Of course, you can expect to pay a little more for this kind of fridge than most others, as the style is unique and up-to-date. Consider how important your kitchen’s image is to you. If you rarely use it or show it off and want to save money, you might be better off sticking to traditional top freezer or side-by-side styles. However, homeowners who spend a lot of time in their kitchen and enjoy showing it off to guests will likely find this a worthy investment in their home.

Counter depth refrigerators are not for everyone, and if this style does not appeal to you, remember that there are several other types of fridges on the market. Before you browse counter depth refrigerators, you should first decide if this is the style you really want and can afford. The next step is to measure your kitchen and make sure that it will fit, and then determine whether you want a counter depth fridge from the store or from a custom refrigerator builder. Thinking about these details first can ensure that you are satisfied with this major purchase.

by: Heather Mills 
http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_7259.shtml 

Retirement planning crucial for small business owners

retirementPlanning for retirement is crucial for everyone, and it is especially critical for small business owners, the business leaders many cite as the life blood of the American economy.

Indeed, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small business owners employ half of all private sector employees, pay 44 percent of total U.S. private payroll, and have generated 65 percent of net new jobs over the past 17 years.

The challenge before American small business owners is keeping their companies financially healthy long-term. This is so that small business owners do not over-rely on the sale of their business alone to take care of them in retirement, and so the business will continue to remain a viable employer in the communities it serves.
 
Because small business owners and entrepreneurs are busy every day working to keep their businesses running strong, their schedule can often interfere with planning for the future. But in this economy, planning is a must in any business strategy. Without it, business owners may be surprised to find that the ultimate sale of their business may not leave enough for them to live on. This is because the sale timing might be off, or their finances are not strong enough to cover a full retirement.
 
"Setting a target number - or dollar figure of what is needed to live on for the rest of your life - is important, and it should be determined at least 10 years before you’re ready to retire," says Tara Reynolds, corporate vice president with Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). "And as you approach retirement, it’s also a good idea to re-calculate what the business is worth with a proper business valuation to determine how you will need to fund your non-working years, if the value has changed. Having this plan and expectation in place can help you determine the best way and time to retire from your business."
 
Retirement%20planning%20crucial%20for%20small%20business%20ownersThe average business owner expects to retire at age 68, according to a survey conducted by GfK Custom Research North American for MassMutual this year. Yet only one-third of the respondents had a sound retirement strategy to ensure income for life, having access to income when needed, managing potential health care expenses and leaving a legacy to the next generation.
 
MassMutual financial professional Katheigh Degen of  Kansas City offers the following tips to help small business owners stay financially secure during the run up to retirement.
 
* Anticipate needs - Traditionally, most people need about 70 percent of their current annual income to live comfortably in retirement. Know what your business is worth - both as one entity, and also broken down into smaller parts. Only about 10 percent of business sales involve the entire business as one lump sum.
 
* Save on the side - You’ve probably heard about diversifying your portfolio, and the same is true with diversifying your retirement plan. Put aside 20 to 25 percent of your gross income in savings outside of the business. This provides you with flexibility as you plan your exit from the business. For example, if you have an heir or employee interested in purchasing the company, they might not be able to afford it all at once, but could take over the helm with smaller payments over a period of time. Having additional savings can help you tide over in retirement while you also receive payments for the business.
 
* Explore options - As you near retirement, selling off your business in one setting would make everything easy. But as mentioned earlier, it doesn’t always work that way. Knowing your business’ value can help you evaluate offers that come your way, so you can make an educated decision on whether to sell and live comfortably in retirement, or keep working and pursue a better offer.
 
* Don’t wait too long to find a buyer - Within three to five years of retirement, business owners should start to find a buyer for the business. Of course, this plan demands that the owner set an expected retirement date and stick to it. By waiting too long, owners may begin to experience poor health and low energy, which could affect productivity and potentially the profitability of the company.
 
Planning for retirement is so crucial, and owning a business can often add complications in timing the retirement perfectly.
 
"Business owners put so much hard work into building the business and making it strong and viable in the market," says Degen. "With additional planning in retirement strategy, a good business owner can retire and see the business continue to succeed even after it has been transitioned over to new owners."


Courtesy of BPT

Five tips for kitchen redos

(BPT) - Feel the need to renovate? If so, you’re not alone. Fifty-three percent of homeowners believe that now is a good time to remodel, according to a recent survey by Houzz.com. When deciding on where the makeover begins, look no farther than the kitchen. Kitchens are a major selling point for homebuyers, so a kitchen remodel is good for the home-selling price. Even if you have no plans to move, the kitchen gets more traffic than any other area of a home and serves as the family hub, so it deserves the attention. To ensure a successful project, keep in mind these kitchen-remodeling tips:

* Add color and light. Splashes of color and artwork can transform a kitchen from a workspace to a fun, vibrant family-gathering spot. To show off those dazzling colors, choose window treatments that let the sunshine in. And take a look at the windows themselves. High-efficiency replacement windows and patio doors can not only save you money over their less-efficient predecessors from the second they are installed, but they often retain most of their value should the home be sold, according to industry statistics. Simonton Windows offers a variety of types, sizes and styles across a number of collections, and can help you find the right windows for your remodeling needs. For detailed window options, visit www.simonton.com.

* Add appeal and ease. Stainless steel continues to be the most popular finish for kitchen appliances, sinks and fixtures. Besides its modern, sleek appearance, stainless steel cleans easily and resists wear and tear. That is especially true for kitchen sinks, which receive the brunt of abuse. New lines of stainless-steel sinks, in a variety of styles, configurations and sizes, are available from Moen. To ease renovation, the new styles feature an updated drop-in deck design. These drop-in sinks include Moen’s refreshed sink-deck design, a minimal, transitional style that coordinates with a variety of decor and faucet designs. The new recessed deck allows sponges or other wet items placed on the deck’s inner ledge to drain back into the sink, and not onto the countertop. The sinks’ wear-resistant, uniform, brushed finish offers durability and resistance to chipping, cracking, staining or peeling.

* Go bold with fixtures. For topping off a kitchen-remodeling project, nothing beats bold and functional fixtures. The new STo collection of stylish, modern faucets from Moen encompass a slim, sleek design, including the innovative, integrated pulldown wand which neatly docks inside of the spout. The rounded, high-arc spout of the STo faucet features a tubular design that unites with a cube-shaped base. Adding the finishing touch is a rectangular lever handle. Available in both single-handle pulldown kitchen and bar/prep pulldown models, STo faucets also feature Moen’s Reflex system, which offers self-retraction of the wand, as well as an exceptional range of motion, generous reach and secure docking retraction. Choose the Spot Resist Stainless finish, with Chrome and Matte Black as other finish options. For more information about Moen products, visit www.moen.com.

* Store in style. Kitchen storage can be practical and stylish. After determining what you don’t like about your current cabinetry - consider location, storage capacity, storage flexibility, material and finish - find out what options you have. MasterBrand offers a spectrum of cabinetry products ranging from standard to custom, with solutions for every budget and lifestyle. For more on cabinetry products from MasterBrand, visit www.masterbrand.com.

* Freshen the flooring. While design, color and surface appeal are important considerations, you’ll also want kitchen flooring that can live up to your lifestyle and provide the comfort and durability you need, according to bobvila.com. Natural stone and ceramic tile are high-end products that ooze taste and elegance. If selecting these hard surfaces, also invest in mats for areas where you’ll be standing for longer periods of time. Linoleum and vinyl offer the look of tile or wood in a more economical, easy-to-clean package. Hardwood has made great strides as a flooring option for kitchens, due to improved product quality and sealing technology.

Courtesy of BPT


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