Home improvement spending continues to decline

The home equity-financed home improvement boom of the first part of this millennium has come to a halt, and that wood paneling in the dining room is likely to stay there until the economy improves.


Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies reports that spending on home improvement projects will decline at annual rate of 12.1% in the third quarter of 2009, following a 4.5% decline in 2008.

There are a few factors behind the decline. Home equity loans are harder to get and the pace of home sales has slowed considerably — a lot of people remodel shortly after buying a home so fewer home sales means less remodeling.
But one other part of it may be psychological. Most Americans have watched their homes decline precipitously in value over the past couple years, and that’s leaving them less willing to pamper their properties. People used to love their homes for making them rich. Now we hate them for making us poor.

For homeowner’s finances, the decline in remodeling is good news. One of the popular myths of the housing bubble was that remodeling was

CPSC study confirms homeowner’s worst fears about Chinese drywall

A study of 51 homes released this week by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) found a strong association between homes with Chinese drywall and levels corrosive hydrogen sulfide, which gives off a smell similar to rotten eggs.


It was the largest investigation ever taken on by the CPSC, costing $3.5 million and involving 15% of the staff, according to the CPSC.

CPSC has received more than 2,000 complaints from homeowners in 32 states, reporting that their health had been adversely affected by odors given off by the suspect material. Victims also reported blackening or corrosion of metal in their homes, including electrical wiring, appliances and air conditioning systems. The complaints stem from homes built largely in 2006 and 2007, following an unexpected demand for building materials spurred on by the destructive hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005.

By confirming the corrosive effects of the Chinese sourced drywall, the CPSC hopes to develop protocols that will identify homes with the problem material and determine effective remediation methods. “Ongoing studies will examine health and safety effects, but we are now ready to get to work fixing this problem,”CPSC

Use energy-efficient windows and save more with energy tax credits

As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 recently signed into law, there are several energy conservation incentives for homeowners, including a never better opportunity to install energy-efficient replacement windows.


There are lots of good reasons to consider replacing windows. Energy-efficient windows can help lower your monthly energy bills, while making your home more comfortable to live in. High-quality replacement windows can also add to the resale value of the home and result in an immediate reduction of heating and cooling bills. Replacement windows also require little maintenance and can add to your home’s curb appeal.

Taxpayers purchasing replacement windows in 2009 and 2010 that meet specific energy efficiency requirements, they are eligible for 30% of the amount as a tax credit. This credit is capped at $1,500 for the years of 2009 and 2010.

To be eligible for the energy tax credits, windows purchased must be equal to or below a U Factor of 0.30 and a Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) of 0.30. U Factor is the amount of heat transferred through

How Much Can New Home Windows Save You

If you’ve ever had window salesmen knock on your door, you probably know that they like to make impossible claims with their sales pitches, for what you’re likely to save in energy — anything from 20% to 40%. Most people know that these numbers are exaggerations, and pay little attention.

If you have old, energy-inefficient single-glazed windows and you live in a part of the country that sees temperature extremes, you’re likely to save around $300 on average, switching all your windows out. If you have double-glazed windows to start with, you’ll save about $100 a year upgrading to triple-glazed windows. It’s important to understand, however, that these numbers do not adequately capture what energy-efficient windows can do.

They help make homes more comfortable

A home where the effects of any heating or cooling done constantly leaks out, can never be a comfortable one. No matter how much you may crank up the heater or the air conditioner, you will always end up feeling ill at ease. The body is never comfortable in leaky spaces. Thermal imbalance tends to be a disturbing feeling. When you switch to energy-efficient replacement windows, it can dramatically

13 Steps to Hiring a Contractor Who Won’t Rip You Off

With the economy stabilized and home prices rising in much of the U.S. market, homeowners who spent the recession watching home remodeling on TV may now be ready to do some real life work on their homes.

That can mean wading into a world both alien and expensive. The contractor you hire will make all the difference to the success and affordability of your project.

Rip-off artists and incompetents aren’t in the majority, but they are common enough that Spike TV has built a reality show, “Catch a Contractor,” around homeowners’ complaints of botched home construction and remodeling jobs.

So, how do you set up the best outcome for your job? Outside of TV, contractors come in all shapes, sizes and skill levels. Most are professionals who are trying their best to make a living doing work they can be proud of. A few, though, can’t be trusted to cross the street in a straight line. Follow these 13 steps to separate the pros from the bad eggs, avoid misunderstandings and expensive missteps from the outset and get the most for your money:

1. Get recommendations. The absolute best way to find a reputable and competent contractor is to ask friends, colleagues

Easy Ways To Improve Office Storage Space

Managing your office is one hell of a task and excelling in that happens only with the help of organizational skills. To keep extra hassles away from your work place it is necessary that you keep yourself and your work station very organized so that things are under control and in place. One of the most common problems that people face when in office is the lack of storage space and professionals are always on the look out to improve the present condition of their office to maximize the storage space that is available. The space to store your stuff or the lack of it are important factors that help in assessing the kind of work place you have. Many people often complain that the lack of storage area is a big problem affecting the work flow and that’s not all, it also plays a role in making things messy and complicated for people who are trying to put in all their focus to get their work done within a stipulated time frame. Hence, it is always advised to enhance the storage space and keep up a neat and sleek environment in office.

Tips to get

Effective Storage Solution While Staying in Small Apartments

There is absolutely no dearth of things that we want for ourselves and the list never ceases to stop. The list does not just end at wanting things for yourself, it even at times goes on for the things that you want for your room or for your home. When it comes to shopping, everything remains fine but the problem begins when there is no space to keep the things in your home and more so if your home is a tiny one. So what do people do when they have a small space for themselves but a lot of things to stack up. If this sounds like a serious problem then wait because the solutions are on the way for you to merge them in your home.

Tips to help you store things effectively

Your home is a small space but that should in no way stop you from stacking things and that too neatly without giving a look that you are just piling up things. So here are a few tips that will help you to manage effective and neat ways to keep things in store.

    • Sitting areas – the small and

General Contractor Or Subcontractor – Who Will Manage Your Home Renovation Better

If you are a DIY enthusiast then you might think it’s a good idea to take charge of your home renovation on your own instead of hiring a general contractor. You probably think that you might be able to manage a bathroom or kitchen renovation if you have the skills and the time. If there are any specific areas that you feel that you cannot manage then you could hire a subcontractor, you think. However, it is very important for you to know when certain issues are too large for you to handle. Go through the following points in order to get a better idea of what to do:

1. A general contractor is always a good choice because this person always looks at the big picture and is therefore able to plan the renovation project in the best possible manner. There are always many different jobs that go into a single project such as bathroom renovation and each of them has to be done by specialists such as plumbers, masons, painters, carpenters and electricians. All the aspects of the project have to be coordinated so that they can be completed quickly and smoothly.


Understanding the Nature of External Rendering

External rendering is the process of applying building walls with a smooth external finish. The buildings are those built from concrete blocks. The render is a bonding agent or mortar composed of fine aggregate and cement.

An external render is great wall protection. It can last long and resist weather. It offers good bond strength to your wall. Materials like earth must be rendered all the time while materials like stone and brick don’t need rendering but they can be rendered.

Materials for External Rendering

Originally, render was made from cement, sand and lime. It can also be made from a plasticizer, which is a substance that will improve the workability of the render. The render can be painted so that it will look attractive and can be protected from weather. However, you can also avail of self-colored cement renders.


External rendering can be applied to your exterior walls in order to minimize moisture which penetrates into your underlying masonry. This can also be utilized for improving the look of a plain masonry wall.

Things to Consider

In terms of external rendering, there are things to be taken into

Pools and Other Water Features That Bring New Life to Backyards

The best backyards serve as a getaway from everyday life. With the right planning and design, homeowners can transform the space into a peaceful and playful retreat. Whether it’s a private space where they rest and relax by themselves, or a hopping social scene that attracts neighbors and friends, the backyard is a place for celebration.

There are so many ways to make a space unique. Building a custom deck adds visual appeal and makes the space more functional for entertaining guests. A pergola, oversized flowerpots, or other landscaping features add an extra touch of beauty and may introduce new floral scents to the area. One of the best ways to enhance a backyard is to introduce one or more water features. These options are all excellent candidates to consider:

Ponds – In the 1990s, ponds surfaced as a backyard trend. Do-it-yourself home centers started selling all the components, and handy homeowners found that they could install the system themselves. Those looking for a more advanced pond can hire a professional, who will design a custom option that fits the space available and the desires of the homeowner. A pond can be filled with plants

Saving On Energy – 5 Types of Glass That Will Do the Trick

Tired of spending ridiculous amounts of money on utility bills? Looking for an option which allows you to save energy while adding to the aesthetic appeal of your home? Then forget about high-tech gadgets and simply pick the right glass for your window. You need to pick the glass based on three vital factors – thermal conductivity, natural light and solar heat gain. Here are 5 types of glass that will help you save energy.


Single pane glasses work great with fixed windows. They are cheap, functional and sturdy. However, these glasses provide limited protection against extreme heat and cold. If you have got a single pane window in your home, it is time to upgrade them. Even though the upgraded version costs slightly higher than the traditional one, you can easily recover the difference in price by saving on utility bills.

Insulated Glass

Single pane window is a thing of the past; now the focus is on being energy-efficient. Double glazed window does exactly that – helps you save you on the bills. The window consists of two glass panes separated by an air space. The space in between will contain

Choosing a Home Renovation Company

If you are planning a home renovation and you know you do not have the do-it-yourself skills to complete the job to your own satisfaction, you are likely considering hiring a home renovation company. The renovation process will almost certainly have ups and downs, and the end result can either be your dream or a complete nightmare. It is especially important that you carefully vet potential home renovation contractors to ensure you hire a qualified, experienced professional who will help make your renovation dreams a reality.

Ultimately, choosing a contractor is much like hiring any other tradesman, but when it comes to home renovations, the consequences of a poor choice can be disastrous. You want to work with a renovation company that is properly licensed and works with qualified trades-people. Ideally, you should start by making a list of potential contractors. You can find home renovation companies through online searches, a flip through your yellow pages, or even better, through conversations with friends, family, and colleagues. A trusted friend, family member, or coworker is likely to give you an honest and straightforward opinion regarding their experiences with contractors; this may help you to avoid under-qualified candidates.

Why Are Fly Screens a Must for Our Homes

It is a real pain to keep your doors and windows closed during the summer. You try to keep your house well ventilated and end up inviting insects to your house. They are very annoying and it is very difficult to get rid of them, you don’t know which corner of your house they’ve turned into their breeding zone? However, if you want to keep your doors and windows open without having to deal with these insects, try fly screens. They keep insects at bay and they are advantageous for many other reasons. Let’s take a look at some of those advantages.

Suffocation free

We all want to open our doors and windows to let the air in during summer. However, these insects prove to be impediments in the course of our plans. They disturb us to the extent that we keep our windows and doors closed. That however doesn’t provide much relief as it suffocates us during summer. Fly screens will keep insects away along with keeping your house cool.

Saves money

You reduce the need to use fans or air conditioners, when you allow cooler air to flow through your house.

The Facts About Above-Ground Versus In-Ground Pools

Families who are looking at pools and thinking about having one installed in their own backyard have a lot to consider. One of the first decisions they’ll need to make is whether to build above ground or in ground. There are pros and cons to both options, so it’s important to learn find out the facts before making a decision.

First, think about your budget. Above-ground pools are almost always priced lower than in-ground alternatives. Remember, the costs will not just be in the form of an upfront payment, but you’ll have to pay for ongoing maintenance as well. It will have to be cleaned regularly, chemicals will need to be purchased and added, and, depending on the area in which you live, you may end up paying a professional to winterize it.

Next, take into consideration the area of the country in which you live and how much use you’ll get out of your backyard swimming hole. If you live in a warmer climate and can swim outdoors year-round, you may feel more inclined to increase your budget or invest in an overall design that you really want to look at year round.

What You Need To Know When Raising A House

There are a lot of ways in raising a house depending on your purpose or reason for raising it. However, there are basic guidelines, rules and standards that you should follow in order for its foundation to be strong, stable and durable. Although there are a lot of other things that you also need to consider, these three are the most important.

In addition to these three standards, you also need to make sure that the area where you need to raise or restump is even. Unevenness may only result to sinkage and your foundation will be very unstable. This will be a great threat and risk for you, your family and everything that is inside your house knowing that this type of work can have a great impact on the stability and structural soundness of your home for the years to come. For proper house raising, it is extremely important to hire a reliable contractor that is thoroughly experienced in laying down the right stumping system for your property. It helps if you have a good grasp of the information relevant to this construction project that can help you make informed decisions and keep a

The Flooding Of Ruthin And St Asaph In Wales

Many of us will remember news coverage of the terrible floods which affected the towns of St Asaph and Ruthin in Wales last year. Over 500 buildings had to be evacuated, causing mass destruction to property, and even the death of 91 year old resident Margaret Hughes. November of this year marked the first anniversary of the devastating floods, but how have the local community taken steps to avoid anything like this happening in future?

Unlike an accidental fire or other disaster stemming from human error, floods are usually the result of natural occurrences, and not our behaviours. As such, it would be impossible for the residents of St Asaph to prevent something like this ever happening again. Just as we cannot control the UK’s often miserable weather, we cannot prevent Mother Nature from sending more floods in the future. However, all hope is not lost.

Residents of St Asaph and Ruthin have been working with Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to provide advance warning of future flooding, and develop safeguards for future flood prevention. Efforts have been pooled from the emergency services, water company officials, flood wardens and community groups to ensure another disaster does

Different Types of Waste Water Treatment

Have we ever given thought about what happens to all the water that we use in our day to day life? If your property is not well connected to the main drainage system, then it’s time for you to look for alternatives to take care of the wastewater from your house or your commercial property. There are number of options that one can opt for:

Septic Tanks: The residential septic system consists of 2 or 3 chambers which are used to separate the liquid and solid waste. The sewage is held in the septic tank for long enough which allows the sludge formation of the solids at the tank’s bottom. Using the anaerobic digestion, the sludge is partly broken down and the left out liquid is passed to the soak away system through the inlet. The liquid is then dispersed into the drainage trench where nutrients, organic materials and pathogens gets dispersed in the gravel and removed. The remaining of the tank needs to be cleaned on a regular basis.

Cesspits and cesspools: A cesspool is nothing but a holding tank that stores the wastewater from your house and holds it until it is removed.

Five Benefits of a Wood Fence

The wooden fence is one of the most loved and commonly used fencing options in America today. It symbolizes America’s heritage as far back as the settlers and farmers having to fence their barns, homes and farms using wood and they come with many wonderful advantages. The five main reasons to have of a wooden fence are:

1. Eco-Friendly

One of the many benefits of a wood fence is that it is very friendly to the environment as compared to its vinyl and aluminum counterparts. Wood is obviously a natural material that matures synergistically. Trees used for making wooden fences can be grown in large scale and old fencing panels can be disposed of without the risk of harming the environment.

2. Easy to Install

Unlike other types of fences such as vinyl and wrought iron, a wood fence is very easy to install. If a post is taller than the rest, it can easily be cut to the required length even after the concrete footing has been set. Vinyl and metal posts are fabricated, meaning that their heights are not easy to adjust.

It is also easy to affix fence panels

Save Cash By Getting Your HVAC Work Done The Right Way

It can be difficult for many homeowners to understand where to go when the HVAC system begins to fail. To prevent the situation from becoming disastrous, it pays to spend some time getting familiar with the topic. This article will help any conscientious homeowner hire the HVAC.

Check your HVAC’s filters on a regular basis. When were they replaced last? If you can’t remember, you should replace them and make note of it on a calendar. This will help you establish a good routine. A clogged filter can cause extreme and sometimes irreparable damage to an HVAC system.

Clean your condenser’s fan and coils when the weather begins to warm. Clean off any leaves or debris from your external condenser unit regularly.

Clean any debris that accumulates on your condenser units. You never know when things can pile up, especially after a windy or rainy storm, and that can ruin your system. It will damage the system to malfunction by overheating.

Turn the power off first so you don’t get hurt or break something. Next, pop off the grill, put the blades out and start to gently clean them along with the unit.

Developing A Solar Powered Home

Solar energy homes are slowly becoming common because they have many benefits including saving money and low carbon emissions. It is a free and clean source of power. It can be used to perform many functions because you can generate electricity from solar system. Houses can be kept warm with efficient use of solar energy and can also heat water for day-to-day use. To do so, you need a home capable of harnessing solar energy. Homes can be developed with a solar power system or it can be added later on. There are many types of green energy systems available. Each of them has their own benefits and advantages. You can develop a solar powered home which either runs completely on solar power or has provisions for use of a traditional power source when needed. Many appliances capable of running on solar power are readily available on the market nowadays. These appliances can even store energy in batteries and function at night using the stored energy.

Factors to consider before building a solar powered home

There are certain factors to consider which may prove beneficial for a solar powered home. It is important to choose