How To Choose The Perfect Hardwood Flooring Finish For Your Floors

Benefits of Solid & Engineered Hardwood Flooring

When it comes to flooring, you have a lot of options at your fingertips. From carpet and tile to laminate and hardwood, there is a wealth of flooring options available. With an investment this big, you want to make the right flooring decision for your home.

They’re Safe.

Unlike carpet, these floors do not harbor harmful dust and debris. With just a quick vacuum, mop or sweep, you’ll have clean floors. You’ll also have clean air. Without fibers or grout to trap in allergens, such as pollen and animal dander, you’re able to breathe easier in your home. Hardwood flooring is the best choice for allergy sufferers.

They’re Easy to Clean.

If cleanliness is a top priority with you, than hardwood floors are a great option. Routine sweeping and occasional polishing with a wood cleaner will keep your floors looking beautiful. Just be careful of excess water with your cleaning! Find out more on how to care for hardwood floors here.

They Look Good.

You don’t just want clean floors – you want a beautiful home. Hardwood flooring is elegant enough to add a sophisticated look to any room and timeless enough to work perfectly with any décor. This versatile style makes hardwood flooring one of the most popular choices among homeowners.

They’re Durable.

It doesn’t matter how good flooring looks if the quality and durability doesn’t last. With hardwood, you don’t have to worry.

 

Ways to Use Recycled Old Hardwood Flooring

It certainly was a great selection of articles and in fact the first one, featuring a remodeled kitchen with an island unit made from reclaimed floorboards, inspired me to think about different ways to use old hardwood flooring on new projects. A few hours of Internet research later and I had discovered a whole world of incredibly great ideas for recycled wood flooring, from designer credenzas to simple kids’ toys!

Of course just about any kind of wooden object can be made from repurposed wood flooring, but there are two important factors that need to combine to really make something of beauty. First you need to have some pretty decent woodworking skills. The better your skill the more “finished” a recycled wood project is going to look, and don’t be fooled: even those shabby-chic distressed wooden items require some fairly solid understanding of how to properly manipulate, glue and finish wood

Reclaimed Hardwood for Cabinet Refacing/Cladding

Perhaps one of the most effective ways to recycle old wood flooring is by using it to reface or clad your kitchen or bathroom cabinets. Depending on how much reclaimed wood you use in your space you can create very different looks: if you want to go rustic then use repurposed wood flooring throughout, or use it on just one element of your space (like this kitchen island below) to create a more quirky, laid-back feel.

The type and nature of the old reclaimed wood will also dictate to certain degree what kind of overall style your room will have. This breakfast bar has been made with unfinished, paint distressed reclaimed floorboards and adds to the shabby-chic feel of the space; whilst the combination of old wood slats set on the diagonal with the metal frame on this kitchen island adds visual interest to an otherwise quite pared down design.

Reclaimed hardwood flooring doesn’t only have to clad cabinets. Many contemporary interior designers are using this unique material to clad feature walls. The key is to keep the cladding just to one focus wall of the space, using the most interesting pieces of wood to add texture. Wood clad walls can work with either rustic, minimalist or urban loft themes – it’s all about how you match the wood to the furnishings that makes the difference as the images below aptly demonstrate!

 

Hardwood Floors

Buying a rental home with a carpet already installed may give you a great surprise. Some homes have beautiful hardwood floors covered by the carpet. But should you let it stay hidden, or should you remove the carpet? There would be property owners that would benefit best with retaining the carpeted floors. It would be a more economical and efficient choice for them. Yet, there are others that would get higher rental income and better tenants if they decide to reveal those hardwood floors. The bottom line is not to rush to a decision but to consider both the pros and cons of exposing your rental property’s hardwood floors

it’s important that you think about some things. Hardwood floors can be an attractive feature in a rental home. They have beauty and durability that few carpets can match. However, this doesn’t mean that hardwood is always the best option for rental homes. You’ll need to look into the type of tenant you have, the resale value of the property, the neighborhood, and the cost of preparing and maintaining each flooring type. All of these things should be considered carefully before choosing to permanently remove your rental’s carpeting.

Not all tenants would respond to the upgrade of a hardwood floor the same way. There are many tenants that may appreciate the beauty of a hardwood floor, and many of them are conscientious enough that you feel safe giving them the responsibility to keep the floor clean and dry. However, there are also those who would only end up damaging the floor. For example, tenants with pets and heavy furniture can easily scratch or gouge a wood floor. Some tenants may prefer hardwood floors for other reasons aside from its beauty. For people who suffer from allergies, carpets make life more difficult. Hard floor surfaces are very much preferred since they are easier to keep clean and free of dust. But if the tenant doesn’t know how to properly care for hardwood and uses harsh cleaning products or scrubs it really hard, they could easily damage it.

Beyond appearance, rental property owners should make their flooring choices based, at least partly, on the property’s current and future value. Because value is often influenced by a property’s location and nearby homes, it makes sense to find out if the other homes in the neighborhood feature hardwood floors or if they have carpet floors. If most of the homes have carpet, then it may not be a good idea to remove yours. On the other hand, if the neighborhood is improving and undergoing a renewal, offering upgrades like a hardwood floor may be the key that would make your rental house better than the competition.

Finally, think about the costs when you’re considering permanently removing your rental home’s carpet. While you may save on the cost of replacing the carpet every five years, you will meet additional expenses when you remove the carpet and prepare the floor for your tenant. For one, newer hardwood finishes are very durable when compared to the old ones, but it’s likely that the floor under your rental’s carpet is not exactly new.

 

ESSENTIAL WOOD FLOORING ACCESSORIES YOU NEED TO INSTALL

Hardwood flooring creates an attractive, luxurious atmosphere in your living space. The rich colors, warm texture and solid durability come together to provide a foundation for any room. Consider how the right wood flooring accessories bring this combination to another level, and allow the true beauty of your hardwood floor to shine.

Flush-in Bull Nose Piece for Wood Stairs

Some homeowners hesitate to invest in wood flooring accessories, but these elements represent only a fraction of the overall budget. Check out this list of three essential accessories, including their cost, importance and availability.

Vent Covers

Mechanical ducts run through your home, with heating vents and fresh air vents in various locations. Floor vents do not need to break up the smooth visual created by your hardwood floors.

Transitions

Moving from hardwood flooring to carpets, tile or vinyl is inevitable, and transitions help to make this smooth and attractive. You can find a wide range of transitions on the market, but try to avoid the cheap, unattractive brands that create an eyesore.

Good quality transitions match the tone of your wood flooring, both in color and texture. You can find sleek threshold pieces that finish the edge of your wood floor and transition cleanly to carpet or another style of flooring. Ask your flooring retailer about the availability of these products in your preferred wood.

 

Your Easy Install Wood Flooring (No Experience Needed)

If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you don’t have much experience installing hardwood floors and you want to find the simplest way to do it. You’re interested in installing hardwood for your home as an upgrade, a sound investment, and because it looks good.

I’m Installing Hardwood Floors!

It’s an easy decision. Hardwood is practical. Wood has natural insulating properties. If you live in an area where cold weather is frequent, hardwood floors just feel better under your feet than other hard surfaces.

Hardwood is beautiful. Every board is as different as a snowflake with interesting wood grain patterns, making every room in your home unique. Hardwood floors are as cozy as they are elegant. They’re a blank canvas for your decorating ideas. With so many wood grains and colors from which to choose, it’s a designer’s dream.

The Hidden Values of Installing Hardwood Floors

By properly installing hardwood, it adds value and quality to your home should you decide to sell. they found that 54% of home buyers are willing to pay more for hardwood floors. Most buyers prefer hardwood floors, with “25% of buyers under the age of 35, and 28% of those between 35 and 54, considered hardwood floors “very important” when looking for a home.”

Hardwood is easier to clean than carpets. Solid hardwood floors may need to be sanded and refinished every ten years, depending upon traffic. However, hardwood is still less expensive when you factor the cost of replacing the carpet, plus all the additional carpet cleaning.

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Do Exterior Painting Yourself Or Hire A Pro

How do I choose a trim color?

If you’ve ever wondered what color to paint the molding and trim, you may automatically say trim is always white. But do moldings have to be white? No rule says that it has to be that way. But remember that white trim can act as a thread to tie together different colored rooms, because it keeps the eye moving through the space.

However, for the low ceilings in contemporary rooms, painting the trim the same color as the walls (or a shade or tint that’s close) is usually better. This trick keeps the walls from being visually chopped up and makes the ceiling look higher. If you want your eye to travel to the trim or if your house needs a unifying thread, consider using white molding. Otherwise, match the color of your walls.

If you do decide on white trim and moldings, you might be surprised at how many shades of white are available. Choosing one can be maddening. If your rooms are painted different colors (for example: red dining room, yellow kitchen, sage green family room), choose a shade that will complement each color. If that’s difficult to do, then choose one based on the room where you spend the most time.

 

Here are some easy ways to do it:

  1. Blend or contrast as you see fit. One of the first things you should decide on is whether you want your trim color to blend with your interiors’ current scheme, or switch things up by picking contrasting hues. This makes deciding which colors to go for even easier.
  2. Pick a trim that’s the same shade as the walls. It offers a modern look and a soothing feel. Since it’s the same hue as the room, the artwork on the walls and more colorful items pop out more.
  3. Play it safe with white colors. White trim is a tried-and-true way to set off the look of your interiors. In fact, white makes everything look good when you use it effectively. For instance, it makes your double hung window in Waukesha look cleaner and neater if the room it’s in features softer colors. Walls with bolder colors will benefit from white trim, as well. It accentuates the striking hues in the room while providing visual relief. Just be sure to choose the right shade of white for this. There are choices available that offer a warmer or cooler look to your interiors. Warm, creamy-white trim works better with striking wall colors. Cooler white trim, on the other hand, is perfect for walls with muted or saturated colors.
  1. Go for black. A trim darker than the adjacent walls can easily serve as the focal point of your home. Black, in particular, is an elegant and brooding color. It works exceptionally well when your walls have paler hues, since it emphasizes the interesting contrast between dark and light. Renewal by Andersen of Milwaukee, for instance, offers black-trimmed replacement windows in Waukesha that you can pair off-white or cream walls. This adds warmth to your home’s interiors. Of course, you’ll need to consider the size of the room for this. Black trim suits larger spaces better.

 

Best Colors for Bathrooms

Because bathrooms are high moisture areas, the best bathroom paint colors tend to be lighter ones. Light colors tend to work better at hiding any accumulated moisture on the wall. Another clever way to hide moisture is by choosing a paint with a glossier finish. While satin and eggshell are the most common finishes in other areas of the house, you may want to use a semi-gloss in the bathroom. No matter what type of color you choose, you may want to invest in mildew-resistant paint. The extra money may be worth it to help avoid those steamy streaks running down your bathroom walls.

Best Colors for Dark Rooms

If you need to bring the sun into a dark room, what better choice than yellow? You can infuse a room with warmth and light even on a dreary day with this friendly color. For the color-shy, a light yellow, or white with yellow undertones would work wonders in an otherwise dingy room. For the color-confident, consider going sunny-side up with more vivid variations of this lively hue. Even the more subdued versions of this color lend a cheery outlook to any room. Yellow can’t help but look bright side of life.

 

Best Colors for Trim and Woodwork

While white is the obvious choice for trim color, choosing the perfect white trim color can be daunting. There are hundreds of shades of white paint, believe it or not. Again, you need to look at the undertones. White paint colors can have as many undertones as there are colors so look carefully. Compare the swatches to your existing colors. Bright white trim colors can anchor a high contrast, vibrant feel. Creamy or off-white paint lends a more antique, warm feel.

While white is most common, it certainly isn’t your only option for trim. To add a modern feel to the sometimes-overwhelming feel of wood wainscoting and trim, you can paint the walls and trim the same color. You create the illusion of a larger space, while maintaining the texture and depth of the woodwork. The effect is particularly punchy when used with a vibrant hue.

Want a classic look with a little bit of edge: go black. Black is the perfect contrast to subtle neutrals. Black doors also pair well with white trim. The classic combination dresses up any decor. Like whites, you’ll have several black options from which to choose. Again, pay attention to the undertone and the intensity of the color. More muted blacks can give you a sharp look without overwhelming a space.

 

Painting Your Trim White

White trim is by far the most popular choice amongst home owners as it can give any room a classic look that matches practically everything. Whether you have bright, soft, or pastel walls, white trim paint will work to create subtle contrast. And if your wall paint is bold or intense, white trim can bring a lighter look to the room. If you simply can’t decide on the perfect color for your trim, white is always a great fallback that won’t let you down. White on trim is timeless.

Painting Trim and Walls the Same Color

When choosing paint trim color for a small space, consider a color that is the same hue as your walls. Not only will this technique make the room appear larger, but it will also give it a modern look and the feeling of a more unified space. Be sure to choose a glossier finish for your trim so when the light hits, the trim can still stand out while up against walls of the same color.

Painting Trim Darker Than Walls

If you want to create a contrasted look or bring focus to your windows or door frames, choosing a trim paint color that is darker than the walls of a room can be an ideal choice. Try a dark hued paint that is several shades darker than your wall paint to create a sense of depth. Or if you have an older home, consider having professional painters paint woodwork in a dark mahogany or black-brown to bring out the intricate details.

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What You Need To Know About Family Law Attorney

FAMILY LAW ATTORNEYS

CHILD SUPPORT

The mandatory formula considers the income of the parent who will be paying along with the support provided by the other parent. Some of the expenses considered include how many minor children are involved in the case, the income of each parent, any alimony being paid along with the payment of support for any other children.

CHILD CUSTODY & VISITATION

Other types of custody which exist here include primary physical custody and other forms of visitation as determined for individual cases. Law will explain your custody arrangements to you and how they could impact your family.

PARENTING TIME

Parenting time schedules are set up by the court and are designed to find a balance for your child to have a relationship with both parents. The court will typically go along with an arrangement parents reach outside of court. However, if an agreement cannot be reached a judge will determine how parenting time is allocated.

PROPERTY DIVISION

you are allowed to keep assets you acquired prior to your marriage even if your spouse is trying to claim rights to it. Additionally, property inherited by one spouse, even during the course of the marriage, is considered personal property. In contrast, the property acquired during a marriage is equitably divided under state law.

INVESTMENT/RETIREMENT FUNDS DIVISION

attorneys are also ready to help in the division of your monetary investments. The types of investments and retirement funds considered by the court include, but are not limited to the following items:

Retirement accounts including 403(b)s 401(k)s

Pensions

Stocks, bonds and investment accounts

IRAs including traditional accounts and Roth IRAs

 

Things People Do Wrong In Child Custody Matters

Child custody can be one of the emotionally hardest things that a person can go through.  Fighting over child custody or access to a child sometimes has the ability to change what would normally be genuinely caring parents into to strangers who will do anything to win the battle.  In essence, I like to call it ‘seeing good people at their worst’.  The problem is that children are not pieces of furniture to be won.  Moreover approaching a child custody matter without your focus being solely on the best interests of the child can have disastrous consequences for the outcome of your matter.

Bad Mouthing the Other Parent to the Child

This is one trait that I see regularly, especially when people are deeply entrenched in legal custody proceedings for a long period of time.  It can be as simple as a slip of the tongue to a friend in the presence of the child about how the other parent is a bad parent right through to comments made directly to the children telling how the other parent doesn’t love the child and ‘abandoned’ the child or similar statements.

Doing or Saying things to make the Child feel sorry for you

This issue has similar consequences to those discussed in number 1 above.  This issue is referred to by the family court as attempting to align a child’s views to those of a parent or parental alienation.  When I have seen this behaviour arise it comes about for one of 2 reasons: 1. A parent doesn’t even realise that they are doing it or the consequences for the child, or 2. The parent wants the child to specifically know how bad the other parent as a justification for the parent’s behaviour.

Not trying to speak to the other parent

So you have separated from the other parent, and frankly he or she is the last person you ever want to speak to again.  Maybe they cheated on you, maybe they spent the last of your life savings without your knowledge, maybe they work too much.  The reasons people separate are as wide and varied as the stars in universe.  Any it is possible that you have a million reasons to justify why you won’t talk to him or her.  Fair enough.  But you chose to have children together and that means that regardless of the million reasons to not speak, you have but one reason that means you have to speak to the other parent: Your children.  This reason trumps all other reasons to not speak and so it should.

Prevent the Other Parent from having Access to the Child

To not allow the other parent access to a child (whether Court Orders exist or not) is one of the most common and yet worst things any person could do in a Custody dispute.  Now in saying this, there will be times when Preventing access to a child is not only in the child’s best interest but is in fact essential to protect children from being physically or emotionally harmed.

 

Lawyer

A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate, attorney at law, barrister, barrister-at-law, bar-at-law, canonist, canon lawyer, civil law notary, counsel, counselor, counsellor, solicitor, legal executive, or public servant preparing, interpreting and applying law, but not as a paralegal or charter executive secretary

Working as a lawyer involves the practical application of abstract legal theories and knowledge to solve specific individualized problems, or to advance the interests of those who hire lawyers to perform legal services. The role of the lawyer varies greatly across different legal jurisdictions

In practice, legal jurisdictions exercise their right to determine who is recognized as being a lawyer. As a result, the meaning of the term “lawyer” may vary from place to place. Some jurisdictions have two types of lawyers, barrister and solicitors, whilst others fuse the two. A barrister is a lawyer who specializes in higher court appearances. A solicitor is a lawyer who is trained to prepare cases and give advice on legal subjects and can represent people in lower courts. Both barristers and solicitors have gone through law school, completed the requisite practical training. However, in jurisdictions where there is a split-profession, only barristers are admitted as members of their respective bar association.

In most countries, particularly civil law countries, there has been a tradition of giving many legal tasks to a variety of civil law notaries, clerks, and scriveners. These countries do not have “lawyers” in the American sense, insofar as that term refers to a single type of general-purpose legal services provider; rather, their legal professions consist of a large number of different kinds of law-trained persons, known as jurists, some of whom are advocates who are licensed to practice in the courts. It is difficult to formulate accurate generalizations that cover all the countries with multiple legal professions, because each country has traditionally had its own peculiar method of dividing up legal work among all its different types of legal professionals

Often, lawyers brief a court in writing on the issues in a case before the issues can be orally argued. They may have to perform extensive research into relevant facts. Also, they are drafting legal papers and preparing for an oral argument.

 

Family Law

Why Family Law Clients Feel at Home

strive to guide clients through the process as smoothly as possible. educate our clients, both individuals and family offices, about their options, learn their objectives, and work to resolve the legal issues with our client’s goals in mind.

Adoptions

Adoption is a golden opportunity for all parties. A child is placed with a family who needs him, and parents who are not quite ready for the experience of raising him can give another couple their chance. However, while an adoption can be a joyous event, there are many legal issues that can stop the proceeding in its tracks. Working with an experienced adoption attorney is important in any type of adoption. The laws governing the adoption process are complex. There are specific requirements and limitations on what attorneys and prospective adoptive parents can do. This is especially true in interstate adoptions because there are at least two states involved and the laws may differ and even conflict. If the wrong legal documents are used, or if state or federal statutes are violated, the adoption could be challenged at a later date or a court may refuse to finalize the adoption.

Asset Protection

Asset protection is nothing other than the use of legal instruments for the preservation and accumulation of wealth. In essence, asset protection planning revolves around the minimization of risk and careful analysis of all client exposure. When implemented by a qualified, competent attorney, asset protection is a powerful legal tool that can protect clients from future unforeseen risks

Child Support

attorneys are considered experts in negotiating child support payments in high-income cases. When the parties are unable to resolve child support issues, can explore alternative ways of reaching a settlement such as mediation and arbitration, and collaborative law. attorneys are experienced with collection of past due support, defense of county Child Support Enforcement actions, and other arrearage issues.

Collaborative Law

Collaborative law is a relatively new way to resolve divorce issues such as asset division, child custody and support, and maintenance out of court. Like mediation, the outcome of the collaborative law process is not binding on either party unless and until a final agreement is signed. The entire process is confidential information exchanged in collaborative law is not public record or admissible in court. This may be appealing to public figures or persons of high net worth.

 

DIVORCE AND FAMILY LAW ATTORNEYS

WHAT DOES GETTING A DIVORCE REALLY MEAN?

“A Divorce is the legal process required to end a marriage or domestic partnership. It is an actual lawsuit. Unlike other types of legal actions, however, no one needs to have done anything wrong in order to file.

All a spouse has to allege is that the couple cannot get along. Legally, this is called “irreconcilable differences.” There is no requirement that these differences be proven. Any spouse can decide to file a divorce even if the other spouse does not want to get one. The only thing the family court is interested in is helping spouses reach a fair agreement concerning all of the issues in their case. These issues can include child custody, child visitation, child support, spousal support, restraining orders, the division of property, and attorney’s fees. For a thorough explanation of each of these divorce law issues, please review our respective sections on each of these topics.”

The family court encourages parties to resolve their cases by agreement and gives those cases priority on its calendar. Couples who can amicably resolve their cases do not even have to appear in court to get a Divorce. The court will allow them to agree to almost anything as long as the legal formalities are met. These include the preparation and service of preliminary and final disclosure, joinder of all retirement plans to the case, the filing of all required forms, and notarization of required signatures, to name a few. Reaching an agreement is also the best way to reduce attorneys fees and stress on the family. Unfortunately, the emotions in divorce often make it very difficult for spouses to reach agreements. Divorce is a complex area of law and can take an extended period of time to resolve if the parties are either unable or unwilling to reach agreements. In such cases, the court will be the one to make the final decision. When this occurs, the parties will be forced to pay a substantial amount of attorney’s fees and costs to have a trial. In addition, a judge will not necessarily decide the case the way either party wants and may just pick a solution neither party likes or could have anticipated.

have very limited resources and the completion of a marital action can take a very significant amount of time and money. Alternatives to litigation include private judging, mediation, and collaborative law. These non-litigation alternatives can result in a substantial cost and time savings and should always be considered. After the divorce is completed, the parties will be single again and can each remarry should they choose to do so. However, they will still be required to abide by any obligations imposed upon them by the Family Court, e.g., pay support. Failure to comply with orders made by the Court will trigger a plethora of legal enforcement remedies available to the aggrieved party, including, but not limited to, contempt proceedings, wage assignment, and seizures of property.

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Payroll Service Outsourcing Tips And Tricks For Small Businesses

Why would a company outsource payroll?

What is payroll?

First and foremost, let’s clear up the most basic issue. Many business owners start off small, perhaps as just a one man band, realise their business’s potential, and then quickly have to take on employees. After which, the process of managing your finances becomes slightly more difficult, and as you take on more and more people, you need to find a way to organise it.

A company’s payroll is simply their list of employees. That is everyone who they employ and pay to work for them. Business people often also use the term payroll to refer to the following:

The total amount of money which a company pays to its employees.

This refers to every employee, their full wages or salary including any bonuses, and not including any deductions. These amounts will all be added up, totalled and the amount will be used as part of the accounts records.

The company’s list of employee’s salaries and wages, bonuses and taxes.

The details of all money paid to each and every employee must also be recorded. For some this may involve totting up the hours they have worked, their hourly wage or salary and any additional payments which have been made to an employee. Many companies use time sheets, rotas or clocking in machines to keep records on times and hours that have been worked in a week. It is also highly advisable to take note of how many sick and holiday days your employees have taken. Taxes also have to be calculated for each employee.

The department in the company which calculates and pays employees.

Some companies have a specific department within the business which organises the payment of employees. Within a company, this department is often also referred to with the term ‘payroll’.

 

The Benefits of Outsourcing Payroll

Outsourcing payroll has many advantages. Handing over this essential part of business to an external partner can save time, money, and compliance headaches, making it a wise move for multinational companies of all sizes. This is why an increasing number of enterprises and small business owners are turning over their payroll function to professional providers who offer specialized, fully managed payroll services. To discover whether outsource payroll is a good fit for your organization, consider the following benefits.

Save on time and cost

When you are running a business, time is, quite literally, money. Processing payroll in-house is time-consuming and requires lots of attention to detail, and that demand increases as staff numbers grow. Time spent on payroll, managing considerable amounts of data and ensuring no miscalculations are made, is time taken away from the core tasks of your business. Many of the cost savings associated with payroll outsourcing reflect the time a company can win back by not doing these duties in-house. By outsourcing payroll processing, which can include everything from calculating payroll taxes and statutory filings to handling payroll enquiries, your organization could be much better off financially.

Improve data security

In-house payroll comes with a lot of risk, including identity theft and embezzlement. Even if you are be confident that your payroll software is secure, there is also the safety of the server or network to consider. Quality outsourced payroll providers protect and store data on highly secure cloud-based servers and use cutting-edge encryption technology to ensure your critical information is safe. They also use electronic payment methods so that if an error occurs, it can be easily traced, helping to protect you against potential losses. This is all included in the outsourced service they provide, while attempting to do the same in-house would be very expensive.

 

COST

Big businesses can afford to maintain big payroll departments. For small businesses however, an in-house payroll service is a money burner. If you calculate the hours your employees spend on payroll-related activities, plus payroll software costs, training costs, printers, printing and distributing payslips, creating tax documents etc, you could be surprised by the result when you compare that amount to the cost a payroll service provider can offer.

RESOURCES

The payroll function can consume a large proportion of your staff resources, especially if the staff in charge of the payroll are not trained specifically to deal with it or have the payroll function as a smaller part of their overall responsibilities. The benefits of outsourcing the payroll include freeing up these resources allowing your staff to concentrate on more essential tasks. You may even be able to reduce your staff’s size. Outsourced functions also give you better scope for expansion of your company with scalable services suited to your business.

 

Avoid Losing Payroll Expertise

By outsourcing the functions of your payroll department, you can eliminate the need for costly transfer of information between former and new employees. Outsourced payroll services can be relied on to maintain a consistent approach to payroll management. There’s no need to induct employees on logic or how technology platforms operate. Role transfer can be reduced to the functions and outputs of the payroll service.

Simplify Reporting

With complete transparency and immediate access to accurate information that doesn’t need to be verified, management can more effectively plan for growth and predict changes to staffing needs.

Reduce Redundancy

With less data inputs by fewer people, task management and delivery can be managed with greater consistency while eliminating redundancy.

 

Pay your employees on time:

Besides having payroll software, Third Party Payroll Services provider will also take care of paying salary to all your employees on time, fill their income tax, form 16, etc. helping you to avoid any penalties related to late payment.

Be in compliance with evolving regulations:

Third-Party Payroll Services providers have a team of professionals who continuously stay updated with the regulatory changes introduced by the state and federal government related to tax payments. As your business expands, you need to establish new offices across various geographies and be in compliance with local as well as national compliances.

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Car Buying Tips From A Car Dealer

Professional juggler

A professional juggler once told me that the only way to learn to juggle six balls at the same time is to try to juggle seven. In today’s retail environment, the position of general manager requires specialized expertise and diversity of knowledge. It is not uncommon for a qualified GM to command an annual income north of $500,000 and into the seven digits; they can virtually write their own pay plan.

I know what you’re thinking right now: “What in the hell is Ziegler smoking?” You know plenty of general managers who make good money, but not that kind of money. The truth is that most GMs are not executives. They are glorified general sales managers. Are you among them?

There is a reason some of the large public companies struggle with acquisitions of new dealerships and expansion of their brands: There is a huge shortage of executive general managers who can successfully run a large-volume dealership or dealer group

Get to Work Early.

I am one of the first to arrive at the dealership, every morning. My day begins before normal business hours.

Drive the Lot.

One of the primary responsibilities of the executive GM is the condition of the overall facility — cleanliness, display and safety. My first task is to drive the dealership from both directions, then slowly weave through the inventory. I am looking for uneven rows and obvious “lot rot” — especially in pre-owned — as well as litter, loose equipment and other safety hazards.

 

ways to haggle a lower car price

Maybe that’s because, unlike in other cultures, we don’t do it very often, so we haven’t gotten very good at it. I’m here to tell you that it’s worth it to learn, given that the two things we do have to negotiate for are the most expensive things we buy: our homes and our cars. In fact,

New cars sell for just over $34,000 on average, according to Kelley Blue Book, so that’s a potential savings of about $5,000. How often in life do you have an opportunity to save four figures? “You work hard for your money and therefore have a right — and a responsibility — to reduce your costs,”

Get outside financing first: Car dealers don’t make money just by selling cars. They make money selling financing. It’s another moving part that complicates your negotiation. That’s why it’s essential to get preapproved for a loan at a bank or credit union before you ever talk to a dealership. After you’ve negotiated a price for the vehicle, you can see whether the dealership’s financing is any better than your own.

Choose either in-person or online : You know what it’s like to do it the old-fashioned way and visit the dealership. But there is another way. In the 1990s, dealerships created “Internet departments” to respond to online shoppers. These departments interact with customers via phone and email and are often quicker to reveal their best price for a vehicle. Plus, they frequently strive for volume sales rather than milking each transaction. This can make for a lower-pressure experience. Choose the method that suits your personality, then proceed to the next step.

Know what to pay: How can you set your opening offer and maximum offer and know you’re getting a fair deal? I like to use Edmunds’s “True Market Value” pricing because it’s free and based on actual prices people in your area are paying for the same car. TMV pricing is available for new and used vehicles. Let’s take a three-year-old Ford F-150 pickup as an example, because it’s the most popular vehicle in America. Edmunds gives you four TMV levels of pricing for a used vehicle

 

Ways to Avoid Car-Buying Gotchas

New car sales jumped 17 percent last month, to 1.5 million, the highest level since the beginning of the Great Recession. Consumers are buying cars even while they remain reluctant to spend on other big-ticket items, and it makes sense – drivers can only put off buying a new car for so long. The average age of cars on the road today is 11.4 years, a record. So as millions of Americans trudge for the first time in years into dealerships during this, the traditionally best time of the year to get a deal on a new car, it’s time to remember this hard truth — the house (almost) always wins.

Buying a car is still an inherently risky process, full of mine fields and booby traps that work only one way — in the house’s favor. The Internet, once seen as a great equalizer for consumers in the car-buying process, is now a part of those booby traps, and can hurt as much as it helps.

Never forget: Dealers are much better at selling cars than you are at buying them. They are professionals and do it every day. You do it once every 5-7 years. Start from this humble, skeptical angle and you’ll avoid getting screwed.

only to overpay for car registration or some other tack-on. It’s about getting a fair deal. Many people think they are good at buying cars, but like a good wrestler, dealers are very good at using their alleged strength against them. Not long ago, I had to counsel a friend who called me bragging, “every single salesperson was shaking their heads saying I’d taken them for a great deal,” but when I did the math on his monthly payments, and I had to tell him something was wrong. He’d agreed to a $2,000 extended warranty without realizing it, and about $30 extra had been snuck onto his monthly payments right under his nose! (I’ll explain how to get out of those).

The world is now full of consumers who think they’ve scored a great deal by getting “invoice price” off the Web, only to get screwed by tack-on delivery fees, expensive financing or back-room shenanigans like window etching. So here is a guide to the gotchas of car sales you might not see anywhere else.

 

Buying A Car From One Dealership, Servicing It At Another

but it was quite a distance in heavy traffic. She didn’t mind the drive to get a new car, but servicing was going to be a real problem. Besides helping people with auto advice on Car Pro Radio Show, I also recommend good dealerships from which to purchase. I handpick these, and I only have one or two dealers per brand, per market. That means that often, my listeners have to drive to get a great deal and have a good experience.

The truth is that dealers make a lot of money servicing vehicles. In fact, their service departments are way more profitable than their new vehicle departments in a huge majority of dealerships. Dealers don’t advertise their service departments often, commissions and salaries are much less than sales commissions, and overall, the expenses in a service department are much lower than on the sales side. That means that for every dollar of sales in service, or in warranty revenue, much more of the sales dollar goes to the bottom line of the dealership.

What does this mean for the consumer? It means that a dealer has a lot of incentive to keep you coming back for service. Think about it, a dealer could see you dozens of times for service, but maybe once every five to ten years to purchase a vehicle.

Make no mistake, dealers are paid handsomely for doing warranty work. The factory usually pays the dealership its customary retail labor rate for performing warranty services, and also gives it a nice markup on any needed parts. The dealership is on your side when you take your car in for warranty work since in some markets, it is being paid $150 per labor hour to perform the work.

Smart dealers also know that if they take care of you on service, there is a chance they might sell you your next car. Dealership service departments are usually busy places, and most pay no attention to where you bought your car, they just want to take care of you and see you again. They also want to make sure that if you are sent a survey from the factory, you can honestly give them good scores.

 

Things to Know When Buying a Used Car

Buying a new car, or a car that is new to you, can be an exciting (and exhausting) experience. It’s a lot to take in—going for test drives, comparing different options, and picking out the car that is right for you. However, a lot of people rush into to purchasing a vehicle without making sure they are getting a good deal and that they are buying a car that will last them for years to come.

You may have heard that you have a 30, 60, or 90-day grace period to return a used vehicle after you have purchased it. This is a myth! Unless you have it in writing that you are being given a grace period or warranty of some kind, once you sign the paperwork, that vehicle belongs to you.

There are two, free resources online where you can look up the current market value of used vehicles.

You’ve heard the commercials on the television, “ask to see the CarFax!” Although there are several different companies that offer this service, asking to view a used vehicle’s history report can tell you if the vehicle has ever been in an accident, what service has been done to the vehicle, and if the vehicle has a good title or a salvage title.

If possible, always have a mechanic look at and drive any used car that you are considering purchasing. Many times a good mechanic can diagnose possible future problems with a vehicle simply based on its condition, the way it sounds, or the way it drives. This could literally save you thousands of dollars in the long run!

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How To Be A Pro Wedding Dj

Can you have a DJ in your backyard?

When you’re throwing an at-home wedding, one detail that’s often overlooked until pretty late in the wedding-planning process is obtaining the necessary permits. Because every county and municipality has different requirements, you’ll want to get onto this task as soon as possible so you can get a clear understanding of what your wedding’s requirements will be. This could have implications for your end time, whether you can have a band play at your wedding, and so forth. Here’s what you need to know about permits and regulations.

Check with your county.

The big three restrictions to look out for are parking, noise, and fire. Kelsey Sheofsky, event planner and owner of outdoor events and tenting company Shelter-Co., says, “There’s usually information on your county website about noise ordinances and other regulations. Generally speaking, a party at your own home shouldn’t be a problem if you follow the rules of your community regarding parking, noise, and fire.”

Find out if the regulations are different if you’re using a tent.

Depending on where you live, there may be different rules for events involving tents as they’re considered a temporary structure. Sheofsky says, “The fire department will require you to pull permits for any party tents and open flame, but the vendors you hire will be able to assist in identifying these needs and pulling the permits.” Depending on your county’s rules, your local fire department may send out a fire marshal to visit the tent once it’s setup for your wedding. They’re looking to see that all exits are carefully marked, there’s a fire extinguisher on the premises, candles are all appropriately enclosed, and more. The company that’s installing the tent typically manages this process, and you may not even be aware that it’s happening.

Talk to the health department.

It’s fairly uncommon that you’ll need to pull permits from the health department, but there are some counties that require this if an event is bringing in portable restrooms. This is something the company you’re renting the restrooms from will likely advise on, so no need to worry too much about this.

 

Backyard Wedding Dreams: Pros and Cons Worth Considering

Sentimental? Yes. Simple? Not always. Here’s what you may not know about planning a backyard wedding celebration. There really is no place like home. Whether it’s your childhood backyard, your partner’s parents’ lakehouse or your grandparents’ country cottage, planning an at-home, backyward wedding is an amazing idea—but remember, it’s not an actual wedding venue (yet). Basically, the average home isn’t quite prepared for 150 wedding guests, 75 cars and 20 tables needed for a full-on backyard wedding.

Home Weddings Can Save Cash

Budgetary restrictions often drive the choice to host a home wedding. While traditional venues may seem expensive at first glance, it’s worth doing your research into what it might cost to bring in everything you’ll need for a wedding in your actual backyard. Since you’re so accustomed to your home, hiring a wedding coordinator will give you a fresh perspective on the property and what you can and can’t do. You’ll also need pros to cover all the basics: setting up, cooking, serving, parking cars and cleaning up (hiring a cleaning crew may be the best decision you’ll make). In the days leading up to your backyard wedding, the last thing you (or your parents) want to have to do is a massive house-scrubbing.

Your Backyard Wedding Will Demand Serious Space

You need room to say “I do.” Does your setup have enough space for all your guests? If not, you’ll have to start trimming the list. Don’t mistake overcrowded for cozy. If you plan to use a combination of indoor and outdoor space, know that if the weather takes a turn for the worst, everyone might need to fit indoors if you don’t have a tent. Will there be enough space in, say, the living room to set up white folding chairs with a wide enough aisle? The general rule is 6 to 10 square-feet of floor space per guest for row-seating.

Guests May Try to Crash

Slumber parties are fun, but adding house guests to your home wedding will only further complicate an already detail-driven day. Try to dissuade them from this idea. Unless you’re marrying at a 25-room estate, the only people who should be staying at the wedding site are the homeowners and their immediate family (the couple and any siblings, for example). You don’t want to be fighting your cousin for shower time the morning of your wedding. What you should do is recommend a hotel that’s as close to the wedding property as possible.

Outdoor Maintenance May Take Months of Advance Preparation

With your entire backyard will be on display, you’ll probably need to give the space a more manicured look. Whether that means dragging out the lawn mower or hiring a landscaper, you’ll want your lawn to be in peak form. If you’re planning a spring backyard wedding, start preparing in the fall (yes, really). Talk to your professional landscaper about reseeding, replanting and sodding.

 

Outdoor weddings

Outdoor weddings are the best! I might be biased because I run a wedding venue in my backyard, but hey. We all know weddings are, or can be, expensive. And, while many families go the wedding venue route, you might not want too.

I have experience in both circles. My two daughters were married in our backyard before there was even a thought of a wedding venue business on our property. Both were very DIY and lovely. While there are many things to consider, let’s cover the basics. The guest list will be a big factor, you will need to know approximately how many will attend so you can plan wisely.

Guest Parking:

This could require a big area if many are in attendance. People will need to park safely! There will be car doors opening and guests will need room to back out. It’s a nice idea to let the neighbors know what is going on. Also, keep a parking area open close to the reception for your vendors (cake, food, DJ, photographer, officiate, etc.) to drop things off at.

Dressing Areas:

Be sure to designate rooms for the bride and bridesmaids, grooms and groomsman, parents and grandparents to change clothes in. A lot of the wedding party will dress before coming to your property. Just be sure everyone knows the plan. We don’t want confusion on wedding day… did I really say that, lol!

Rentals:

Will you rent tables and chairs? What about linens, will you rent or use plastic ones you can throw away? Will you be expected to pick up the rentals yourself or will you have them delivered? Are you responsible for returning things? Where will things be stored, before and after the event?

Restrooms:

Will guests be allowed in your house to use the restroom or will you rent portable restrooms for the event? And, if you do rent, where will they be at? You don’t want them to far away, but you don’t want them in the photos either.

Guest Seating:

Remember, give each guest table room for chairs to move in and out, without disturbing their neighbor. If there is to be a dance floor in the middle of the tables or even off to the side, be sure to get the dimensions so you can mark off the area before setting up the tables.

 

Backyard Wedding and Reception Tips

If you’re thinking about hosting your wedding and/or reception in your backyard, we have some great tips Elegant Backyard Wedding Ideas for you.

Plan it.  Backyard weddings are a great way to save money on the venue space, although you must remember that you’ll need to consider many things before you can commit to this idea.  First question:  Do you or your parents have a backyard big enough for your wedding?  To answer this, you must think about your guest list and about what type of reception you would like to have. Do you envision a plated dinner or a buffet?  Passed hors d’oeuvres and cocktail bar or grilled picnic food?  Each type of reception comes with different capacities.  Will you also be hosting your ceremony in the backyard, or just the reception?  You’ll need even more space if you’re hosting both.

Tip:  Talk to a rental company or a catering company—yes, we can help answer these questions!—before you make this decision.  They will know how much space you will need to set up tables, booths and a dance floor to accommodate your guest count, and will likely suggest different catering options that best meets your visions and space constraints.

Prep it.  If you have at least 8 weeks’ time, you should be ready to prep the backyard.  If you’re hosting a backyard wedding in the summer, great!  Nature can take care of most of your décor costs—although you’re going to have to help it along.  Plant your gardens this year with your event design and layout in mind.  It will be difficult, though, to get your gardening in order without knowing where everything will go.

Here’s a great tip:  talk to your wedding planner, rental company or caterer about the event layout before you do any work.  Sometimes there are tables and prep areas that our clients forget to take into consideration or new layout ideas we come up with to maximize the space when we visit the site.

Theme it.  Whether you’re looking for a simple backyard wedding or an elaborate, elegant wedding design, your theme will drive most of the aesthetic decisions from here on out.  Sophisticated country?  Vintage?  Rustic?  Whimsical?  Every theme comes with different flowers, photo frames, centerpieces, chairs, linens, catering choices and more.

Tent it.  This is one of our biggest recommendations.

 

Dance floor it.

What’s a backyard wedding reception without a dance floor?  Lots of holes in the grass, that’s what.  Be kind to all those women in high heels and those poor blades of grass growing in the danger zone, and rent a dance floor for guests to use in lieu of just a grassy area or even a patio or deck.  You’ll want something flat and smooth.

Light it up.

A huge perk of a backyard wedding is that you can light up this space with as many (or as few) beautiful strands of lights as you could possible want—and you can begin the stringing as early as you need to since no one else is renting your event space.  We suggest stringing lights throughout the ceiling of the tent and wrapping them around trees.  Consider hanging or placing even more lights, Chinese lanterns and candles on chairs, tables, trees and other natural shrubbery.  Wedding lighting is worth the upgrade almost every time.  Take a look at these photos.  What would they look like without such exquisite lighting?

Rent it.

Rent your tables and chairs from a rental company—or through your catering team, who will either rent the equipment themselves or know with whom you should speak for the best styles for your budget.  When you rent your equipment, you won’t have to worry about the setup or take down.  You just show up, sign on the dotted line and the entire reception will be constructed for you.

Huge tip: you will not regret this help on your wedding day.  Also worth considering is the temperature.  Are you hosting your wedding on the hottest day of the year?  Consider renting equipment that will help cool down your guests so that no one gets too hot and uncomfortable.  If you’re hosting a late fall backyard wedding and the evenings are known to cool down, there are plenty of attractive looking heater options you can also rent from your rental company.  Another big tip: temperature controlling equipment is always a good idea.

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Free Commercial Roofing Profit Maximization Tips And Tricks

Should You Repair or Replace Your Roof?

Making the right decisions about your roof ensures your home’s optimal performance and safeguards your peace of mind.

The first decision is whether to simply patch leaks and damaged areas or whether partial or complete reroofing is in order. If you choose the latter, you’ll also have to decide whether to roof over your existing roof or whether to remove it. There are cost consequences either way.

Going the Repair Route

Replacing shingles due to wind damage or a fallen limb is a relatively easy and inexpensive. Torn or damaged shingles can be removed, and new ones can be slipped in place. The downside is that unless your roof is relatively new and you happen to have saved some spare shingles from the job, your patch job may not match the existing roof. But that is a small price to pay if the repair would extend the life of your current roof for another 10 or 15 years! However, if you plan to sell your home in the next few years, ask your contractor to order shingles that match as closely as possible. A roof with a prominent patch is unattractive and will not inspire a potential buyer’s confidence.

 

Partial Reroofing Is an Option Too

If the damage is more significant but confined to one side of the roof, partial reroofing is an option that will cost thousands of dollars less than doing the entire roof. Repairing a section of roofing will also make it easier to blend new with old, because slight color differences will be less noticeable.

Counter to intuition, partial reroofing jobs are more expensive on a cost per square (a 10′ x 10′ area) basis. They can create added problems, too. For example, if an asphalt roof already has two or more layers, all layers will have to be removed in order for the partial re-roofing to proceed. So in addition to increased labor and disposal costs, you may face the possibility of a lopsided effect at ridges, with the old roof ending up a couple of inches higher than the new one. Even when built up with a course of shingles and covered with a ridge cap, the hump may still be noticeable.

 

Repairing Vs Replacing Your Roof

Certainly, there are pros and cons to each approach. To help you make the best decision, here is a list of questions you should answer first:

  • What time constraints are you under? If there aren’t any, you can choose either option. But if you need to fix a leaky roof by next weekend or you’re leaving on vacation in a couple weeks, you may not have time to wait for a contractor to schedule a roof replacement.
  • How old is your roof? If it’s relatively new or even in the middle of its life cycle, a repair might be okay. But if it has a 20-year warranty and it’s 18 years old, replacing the whole roof may be the way to go.
  • How big of an area is currently in need of repair? If you only need to fix one or two small areas, you can probably have a roof repair man out there that day to fix the problem. If it’s more than, say, 30 percent of your roof, you might strongly consider a roof replacement.
  • What’s the additional cost to replace your entire roof? For example, it might cost you $4,000 to repair the front side of your roof — but replacing the whole roof might only run you $6800. In this case, a roof replacement is a better value. You can also consider going through insurance. If your roof is damaged enough to get approved, the insurance company will pay for the roof replacement while you are only responsible for your deductible.
  • How important is it that your roof remains the exact same color? Any new shingles will not precisely match the same hue as your existing ones because of weathering from the elements. If your roof is highly visible and you don’t want mismatched shingles, you’d better replace the whole roof.
  • Do you have any moisture damage to your roof deck? If the underside and supports of your roof show significant moisture damage, shingling over them won’t solve the problem. Roof replacements can include fixing these areas, so that’s likely your best option.
  • Do you need to replace your gutters as well? If it’s time to install new gutters, it may be more convenient for a contractor to just rip off the old guttering, lay down a new roof, and put on a new gutter system all at once.

 

Common Roofing Material Choices

For residences, the five most common roofing material options are asphalt, metal, slate, tile, and wood. Each of these materials can be either repaired or replaced when damage occurs, but their individual characteristics and life expectancy will play a huge role in which is the most cost-effective route for you!

  • Asphalt Shingles are easily the most popular roofing material choice in the nation. While cheap, dependable, and easy to install, asphalt shingles are also one of the least durable options on the market.
  • Wood Roofing is not near as popular as it once was. Though its aesthetic appearance is second to none, wood roofing materials are more expensive than asphalt and require more maintenance than most other roofing materials.
  • Metal Roofing is gaining popularity as a roofing material. Though older metal roofing was rightfully accused of being noisy during rain showers, subject to rust, and a poor insulator, today’s metal roofing provides homeowners with an excellent balance of affordability and durability.
  • Tile Roofing is extremely popular in certain areas of the country. Very expensive and very durable, tile roofing is an investment that will not only make your home more attractive, but raise its value, as well.
  • Slate Roofing is pretty much the alpha and omega of roofing material options. When it comes to durability, nothing can match it; its appearance isn’t for everyone, and whole it has been known to last for more than 100 years, its incredibly high price tag makes slate a material that most homeowners find cost-prohibitive.

 

Factors To Consider In Deciding Whether To Repair Or Replace

  • You roof’s age is one of the most important considerations. Most asphalt shingles have a lifespan of about 15 – 30 years. If the roof is damaged but most of it is still in good shape, a spot repair may make sense. But, if the roof is approaching (or past) 20 years old, replacing it may be the better way to go long-term.
  • If there’s a leak somewhere, an inspection will help you determine how widespread it is. Often, roofs will leak along flashing points. If this is the case, and the leak is isolated, a quick repair may be all that is necessary. If the roof is leaking in several places, a roofing replacement may be in order.
  • Give some thought to how long you intend to be in the home. If you’re planning to sell in the next few years, and the roof is in generally good condition, it may make more sense to have repairs done.
  • If you opt to replace your roof, you may be able to incorporate environmentally-friendly features that qualify for local or federal tax credits to offset the cost. Also, new materials are generally more energy efficient, last longer, and perform better so an upgrade is desirable long-term.
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Safe Clean Up Methods After Mold Remediation

What Happens If You Paint Over Mold?

When you paint over mold, you could be putting the health of your home and family at risk. Painting over mold will not kill mold or stop new mold from growing. According to the CDC, mold can cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, skin irritation,  and more severe reactions in immune-compromised people.

Keep in mind that:

  • Paint does not kill mold.
  • Paint that is mold-resistant only works proactively, not reactively.

Painting over mold is a quick-fix many homeowners or landlords jump to because it’s cheap, or at least they think. If you paint over mold, it will return in its original form or the form of chipping, bubbled or cracked paint. In the long run, this could cost more than it would have been to receive mold remediation services in the first place.

Steps to Take Instead of Painting Over Mold

When you choose to not paint over mold, you are choosing safety and a quality environment. When you go with proper mold remediation services instead, your paint will last longer and you will have the peace of mind knowing you found and eliminated the root cause – and the likelihood of more future mold issues.

How Do I Prevent Mold After Remediation?

After professional remediation, you’ll want to do everything you can to prevent the problem from returning. There are a variety of ways to prevent mold. They will require continued diligence and maintenance. Ultimately, the work put into your home to keep mold away will keep yourself, family and household safe.

  • Mold-resistant primer

Before embarking on your painting journey, be proactive and use a mold-resistant primer. This is especially important for rooms where moisture is prevalent, like the bathroom or kitchen.

  • Take control of your humidity

By making sure your home stays dry and well ventilated, you are helping to prevent the development of mold. Dehumidifiers can help in the prevention of mold, as well.

  • Properly dry and clean spaces where leaks or floods have occurred
  • Making sure all spaces are completely dry is a huge step toward preventing mold. If you have spaces in your home that are notorious for leaking or flooding, regularly check in on them and dry the area with a towel, as needed.

 

Moisture Problems That Cause Mold Growth

It is quite difficult to prevent mold growth without proper moisture control. Water intrusion or high levels of humidity can cause mold issues. Surface or groundwater may enter your home because of poor foundation drainage. Rainwater can get into a home through leaks in the roof, windows, or walls. It can also seep through the cement floor in buildings that have a slab construction, causing mold to grow on carpets, drywall, or furniture.

Mold can also grow on damp materials or rooms with poor ventilation since there is no free circulation of air. If the relative humidity indoors is maintained below 60 percent, and there are no cold-condensing surfaces, then there will be no enough moisture for mold to grow. However, cutting off any sources of moisture may dry out mold and prevent it from multiplying but they do not die easily.

 

How do I know when professional mold removal is complete?

There are two different ways to know when mold is removed.

  • Visual: You might see that all mold is gone is away, but hidden mold colonies and mold spores can linger in hidden places and in the air. So visual inspection is not the best way to insure complete removal.
  • Third party testing is usually the best way to test for complete mold removal verification.

Your mold removal company should not test as this is a conflict of interest and State Of Maryland residents be aware that there is a law that states that a mold removal company must have certain certifications and cannot test at the same time as the remediation. Please also beware that there are different kinds of testers ranging from home inspectors to industrial hygienists. Please ask your independent tester if their tests, in writing, will stand up in court.

 

How to Avoid Having a Mold Damage Claim Denied

There are several things you can do to prevent mold and/or improve the odds of having your claim approved if you incur mold damage.

On the prevention side, you can:

  • Install dehumidifiers in areas that are prone to dampness
  • Regularly check plumbing pipes and fittings to look for leaks
  • Adequately ventilate bathrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens, and other areas of your home where mold may have an opportunity to grow
  • Keep gutters clean to prevent the formation of ice dams in winter, which can lead to leaks
  • Regularly inspect your roof—and around windows and doors—and caulk cracks that could allow water to leak in
  • Properly insulate interior and exterior pipes in winter to avoid breakages or leaks
  • Routinely check appliances and hot water heaters for signs of leaks

If you have to file a claim for mold damage:

  • Properly document the damage with photos and/or video
  • Provide up-to-date maintenance records if you have them
  • Follow any and all instructions the insurance company gives you to process the claim
  • Contract approved mold removal companies to clean up the damage

 

Using Your Mold Fogger for Optimal Effectiveness

How you use your mold fogger affects how well it can do its job. Correct use varies by equipment, so always follow the manufacturer’s directions. The basics are simple:

  • Prepare the area by removing or covering electronics and items that might be damaged by moisture, such as paper and delicate textiles.
  • Add the mold fogging liquid to the fogger tank and adjust the settings. The finer the mist, the less risk of damage.
  • If you’re using a handheld fogger, hold it 18 to 24 inches away from the surfaces you want to treat. For a stationary fogger, place it a minimum of 18 inches away from any surface.
  • Let the fogger run for around 10 minutes. For a stationary fogger, turn the equipment by a one-quarter turn every two or three minutes to prevent run-off.
  • Turn the fogger off, leave the room, and let the fog dissipate for around half an hour.
  • Dry the area by opening windows or turning on fans. Leave again until the area is thoroughly dry.
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Tips For Getting Rid Of Wasps

How To: Make a DIY Wasp Trap

Save yourself and your family from stings this season by crafting this homemade wasp trap from your kitchen recyclables.

Nothing can ruin a summer barbecue or evening by the pool like the threat of a wasp’s sting. Mind you, wasps aren’t all bad—the adults are nectar-eating pollinators, and they kill other insects (often those harmful to crops) to feed their carnivorous larvae. Still, a nearby nest can be dangerous, especially to those who are allergic to their sting. Should you find an infestation around your own home, you have a few options: call a pest-control company, kill them yourself with sprays, or trap them. While wasp traps are available for purchase, save yourself some money and get rid of your buzzy problem by crafting this hands-off solution using items you most likely already have sitting in your house.

STEP 1: Cut up a 2-liter plastic bottle to create the trap.

Dig through your recycling to get the materials you need to make this trap, and get crafting. First, remove the bottle cap and cut the 2-liter soda bottle just under the neck, where the bottle becomes a straight cylinder. Invert the top portion of the bottle to serve as a funnel, and fit it inside the bottom half of the bottle. Tape the two pieces together around the cut edge so the funnel stays in place. Finally, poke two holes on opposite sides of the rim and attach some string to make a handle for hanging.

STEP 2: Prepare the bait for your trap.

You’ll never catch any wasps without the right kind of bait—and the perfect lure is wholly dependent on the season. In early spring, when wasps are reproducing, they are looking for protein; later in summer, they want sugar.

STEP 3: Position your trap off the ground.

You can set your traps out on the ground, but hanging them about four feet high will probably attract and catch more wasps. Find a good tree limb or fence post on your property—one that is at least 10 yards away from your family’s play, work, and gathering spaces—and hang up the homemade trap by its string handle

 

Things You Need to Know About ‘Murder Hornets’

If you haven’t been paying attention to the news over the past few weeks, you may not have heard about these huge hornets with massive stingers. The concern is legitimate, but just how worried about the hype should we really be? We’ve been getting a lot of questions about Murder Hornets

What is a Murder Hornet?

The name “murder hornet” was drummed up through social media to evoke fear and intrigue; the scientific name is vespa mandarinia, but it is more commonly known as the Asian Giant Hornet.

They can typically be found building subterranean nests by digging or by taking up residence in small burrows that rodents or other critters have already made. Nests will generally range anywhere from a few inches deep to approximately two feet down.

As it is primarily an insectivore, we believe the “murder hornet” name partially stems from how aggressive this hornet can be towards other bees, wasps and hornets. It only takes a small handful of these hornets roughly an hour to kill off a bee hive, slaughtering the entire hive in an effort to feed.

How big is a Murder Hornet, and what does it look like?

The Asian Giant Hornet is the biggest hornet on the planet, big enough that residents of Japan have referred to it as a “great sparrow bird.” Most are approximately two inches long, with a wing span of around three inches. The sheer size of this hornet makes its “buzz” so loud that you will often hear it coming before ever seeing it.

 

Telling apart the ‘murder hornet’ from hornets

“It appeared similar in size and markings,” said Terrill. “The discovery seemed uncanny. I had just read about the arrival of the Asian giant hornet in the Pacific Northwest the same day I found this giant hornet in my house.”

Terrill’s European hornet was unusually large because it was probably a queen, according to Scott Famous, local beekeeper and queen breeder, who examined the specimen. “She was probably looking for a place to start a new colony,” he said.

With the weather warming up and sightings of hornets sure to swell, I thought it would be useful to explore how the hornets common to the D.C. region differ from the Asian giant — or “murder” — hornet making news.

How can you tell the two apart? The Asian giant hornet, about 1½ to two inches long, is substantially larger than the European hornet, which tends to be a little over an inch long, as shown in the chart below. The Asian giant hornet has a head that is almost entirely yellow compared with the European hornet, which has a reddish-brown head that transitions to yellow around the face.

The Asian giant hornet is capable of destroying entire bee colonies and inflicting terrible stings with its quarter-inch stinger. The stinger is so powerful it can penetrate beekeeper suits. And the sensation of being stung is compared to a searing-hot thumbtack piercing the skin.

 

KEEPING WASPS AND HORNETS AWAY FROM THE HOUSE

Wasps and Hornets have created chaos for humans since the beginning of time.  Despite being annoying and sometimes scary with their belligerent behavior and tendency to sting when provoked, wasps and hornets can also be very beneficial to have around. These flying insects are predators and feed on many other unwanted insects you can find in your backyard, offering free pest control. On the other hand, wasps and hornets can be dangerous as well. Unlike many varieties of bees, they can sting you repeatedly when angered; their painful stings can provoke allergic reactions — even venom anaphylaxis in some people —  and can invade your personal space by building a nest in places like attics, eaves, and garages.

Sometimes, they can sneak in through your window and surprise you, buzzing around aggressively. These are unwanted guests you would never want in your home and often encourage panicking to find ways to get rid of them. In most towns and cities, you can call pest control services to deal with an infestation of hornets or wasps. These services are generally equipped to provide you with protection for a long time, months or whole season. On the flip side, these services can be quite expensive and not everyone can afford them. For those of you who prefer not to pay for an exterminator, here are a number of simple techniques that are inexpensive and can save your house from an infestation of wasps or hornets and you from being attacked by them.

Clove-Geranium-Lemongrass Oil Blend

What’s better in this world than using natural, organic blends to keep away hornets and other nasty flying insects? The excessive use of aerosols has its downfalls, most notably the ability to damage to our environment, and some pesticides are extremely dangerous as well.  They not only have the ability to hurt people as well as plants, bees, and animals, so by using this natural blend you are not only fighting wasps and hornets but doing your bit to help conserve our environment.

Plain Old Soap + Water

Another eco-friendly way of keeping wasps and hornets away is by using soap and water in a spray bottle. This is one of the oldest methods to keep away such insects. Spraying a mixture of soap and water into their nests kills them instantly. This occurs because soap clogs the breathing pores of insects. As a result, it becomes very difficult for them to breathe and therefore, they eventually die.  This is also a great mix for killing other nuisances such as boxelder bugs and some types of ticks.

Wasp repelling plants

Many people aren’t aware of this but some plants can actually repel pests. Plants such as citronella, thyme, and eucalyptus naturally deter insects like wasps and hornets. Growing these plants in your backyard will not only keep away these pests but also add beauty to your garden. It is a very effective as well as ongoing method of wasp control.

 

Selfless, Helpful and Intelligent: the Wasp; Yellow Jackets Much More Than the Evil Guests at the Picnic, Scientists Say

It is late summer, which means it is time to grit one’s teeth, get outside for a little family picnic, and practice that ever-fashionable dance routine, the Yellow Jacket Jive.

Yes, August is official yellow jacket month, as a number of entomologists have proclaimed on their Internet Web pages, and as anybody within range of a public trash can will attest. This is the season when the wretched little biblical plagues boil forth in force, bobbing and weaving like drunken marionettes, poking in fruit stands, crash-landing on soda cans, and haughtily, viciously, perniciously stinging any human who dares to protest

I’m better now. Sure, I’ve been stung a couple of times by yellow jackets, and, sure, both times I thought my leg had spontaneously combusted, but it turns out that yellow jackets are not the mean-spirited vermin their victims assume them to be. They are not nasty for nastiness’ sake. They are proactively defensive, family-values types that struggle selflessly to support and defend their kin. They may crave the same junk food we do, but they are not base freeloaders, and sometimes will even pitch in by hunting caterpillars, aphids, flies and other garden pests.

And to the entomologists who are beginning to piece together a portrait of their society, yellow jackets are fascinating insects, with all the sophistication of behavior found in bees, ants and other elaborately social insects.

Yellow jackets are not preprogrammed automatons, but learn from experience, including where and when to crash the best parties. They can communicate with one another, conveying their intentions, work assignments, the location of a hot new outdoor restaurant. Exactly how they communicate, though — whether through chemical signals, touch, sound or a kinetic language like bee dancing — is not understood.

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Avoid Common Kitchen Remodeling Mistakes

SIGNS THAT SHOW IT’S TIME TO CONSIDER A KITCHEN REMODEL

The two most used and most valued areas of your home are your kitchen and your bathroom, and keeping these spaces updated is crucial to the enjoyment you’ll get from the space. signs that show it’s time to think about a kitchen remodel are:

Leaks

If your sink, garbage disposal, or pipes leak, it’s high time to seriously consider what a kitchen remodel will do for you. Leaks happen when the plumbing in your kitchen begins falling to the tests of time, and this moisture will quickly lead to mold growth within one of your home’s most important areas. Having mold around food and food preparation can be hazardous to your health, but fixed simply with a kitchen remodel.

Your layout is impractical

A kitchen with an impractical layout is a kitchen that won’t be used nearly as often as needed. Homeowners with such kitchens often find that cooking and meal prep becomes more of a hassle than its worth, and they opt for going out more often than eating in. The money saved by eating in can pay for the remodel that transforms the kitchen into a functional, working, and happy space.

 

The appliances need replacing.

Because appliances are expensive and a hassle to replace, many homeowners continue to use the appliances they have, even if the work poorly or incorrectly. Waiting for an appliance to break down completely before replacing it may sound like the logical thing to do, but this could be a serious threat to your home! An older gas stove, for instance, could have a gas leak and pose the risk of a fire. A faulty dishwasher could cause flooding and lead to water damage or dangerous mold growth. Aside from the risks, it’s best to replace dated items in order to maintain a working and functional kitchen.

It’s difficult to host guests.

As food and beverages are the hub of every get-together, the kitchen is referred to as the heart of the home. This means that there is often more than one person in the kitchen at a time. Many older homes have floor plans in which the kitchen is separated from the dining or living room – a big offense against today’s trend of open-concept living. One of the most common remodeling requests we get is to open up the kitchen to the main part of the home. Opening the kitchen to the next room allows guests to mingle with the cook without crowding the workspace.

 

You Need More Space

Your kitchen may have been roomy enough when you first moved into your home. However, your family has grown over the years. These days, you always find yourself short on counter or storage space. If you keep rearranging your shelves, trying to fit everything in, a remodel can make your life easier. Talk to your contractor about adding storage options.

You Want a Change

If your kitchen is stuck in the 90s, upgrading your kitchen is one way to transform that space. If your cabinets are still in excellent condition, though, think about resurfacing them instead of buying new ones. You still get the upgrade you want while keeping your remodeling costs low.

 

Cabinets

Cabinets can be some of the first kitchen features to show their age. They’re used so often that it can’t be helped. Their finishes wear down, their hinges get loose, their doors warp, their shelves bow, and their hardwood suffers. Sometimes this can be improved with a paint job, but sometimes cabinets need to be replaced. This can be especially true if the cabinets have gone through grease damage near the stovetop.

Kids

Some older kitchens can be dangerous for young children. Things like sharp wooden corners, low-placed microwaves, drawers that can easily be pulled out of their cupboard, or cabinets that don’t have a way to be child-proofed are all hazards. If your kitchen has anything that could be a threat to a child, it’s time to remodel.

 

YOU’RE STAYING IN YOUR HOME

Taking good care of your home is one of the soundest investments you can make, but it is an investment. One of the first things to consider is how long you’ll be staying in your home. If you’re planning on moving or downsizing in the near future, this will impact the extent of which you remodel. Your design & build expert will be able to go over the details of your budget and specific returns on investment.

SIGNS OF WEAR & TEAR

Your kitchen and bathroom have seen better days. The floors look dingy, the counters are chipping, some of your cabinets or drawers don’t even work properly anymore. Maybe your windows are becoming drafty, or you have more serious structural issues. At some point, all homes begin to deteriorate and need some refreshing. Left neglected, these issues will lead to more expensive problems down the road. If you can’t look at your home without noticing all the areas that need improvement, that’s a sure sign it’s time to remodel.

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