RE/MAX 440
Kathy B. Hayes
1110 North Broad Street
Lansdale  PA 19446
 Phone: 215-362-0800
Office Phone: 215-362-2260
Cell: 215-498-7058
Fax: 267-354-6839 
kathy@kathyhayesrealtor.com
Kathy B. Hayes

My Blog

3 Pitfalls to Avoid When Paying Your Kitchen and Bath Contractor

October 29, 2012 2:48 am

As the real estate market continues to stabilize, more homeowners are spending money on remodeling projects. If they are not careful, homeowners can end up paying more than they ever expected. Here are some valuable tips on how to avoid three of the most common pitfalls.

A homeowner makes a large deposit, then gets no work done.
This is one of the most common scams among unscrupulous contractors. They ask for a big deposit or to pay for all of the materials upfront, then the homeowner never hears from them again. To avoid this pitfall, homeowners should not pay for work or materials upfront and should avoid any large deposits.

Suppliers or subcontractors come after the homeowner for payment.
Homeowners are responsible for suppliers and subcontractors who do not get paid on their job. They can even put a lien against the home where they did the work. To avoid this pitfall, there are several strategies a homeowner can use:

Pay the supplier or subcontractor directly.
Issue joint checks to the contractor and supplier/subcontractor.
Get an unconditional lien release from suppliers/subcontractors.

The homeowner is liable for an injury on the job, including lost wages.
If the general contractor does not have valid insurance, the homeowner is liable for any injuries on the job. This includes paying lost wages, if someone gets hurt and cannot work for a period of time. To avoid this pitfall, check that the general contractor has valid liability and workman’s comp insurance.

Of course, the easiest way to avoid these and other potential pitfalls is to work with a reputable contractor who has a history of paying suppliers and subcontractors on time. Happy remodeling!

Source: Cornerstone Design & Remodel

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

Is Your Furnace Ready For Winter?

October 29, 2012 2:48 am

As temperatures cool down, homeowners are advised to inspect their home-heating appliances and perform any needed maintenance to avoid health or safety hazards.

Now is the time to perform maintenance on your home-heating appliances to check that they can be operated safely and efficiently. Customers are beginning to turn on their furnaces for the first time in months. Heating appliances should be serviced annually to keep them operating safely and efficiently. Failure to perform annual maintenance on gas appliances may result in exposure to carbon monoxide, which can cause nausea, drowsiness, flu-like symptoms, and even death.

Since home heating typically accounts for more than half of the monthly winter gas bill, the best way to keep bills lower is to get gas appliances serviced.

Here are some tips for a safe, warm and energy-efficient winter:

• Have natural gas furnaces checked at least once a year by a licensed heating contractor.
• Vacuum and clean regularly in and around the furnace, particularly around the burner compartment to prevent a build-up of dust and lint.
• Never store items in, on or around the appliance that can obstruct airflow.
• Most forced-air units have a filter that cleans the air before heating and circulating it throughout the home. Check furnace filters every month during the heating season and clean or replace the filter when necessary.
• When installing a new or cleaned furnace filter, be sure to re-install the front panel door of the furnace properly so it fits snugly; never operate the furnace without the front-panel door properly in place because doing so may create the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
• Check the appearance of the flame. If the flame is yellow, large and unsteady, the furnace needs to be inspected immediately by a licensed heating contractor to have the condition corrected.
• Never use your oven, range or outdoor barbecue to heat your home because these appliances are not designed for this purpose.

Source: SoCalGas

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

How-To: Take the 'Labor' out of Housecleaning

October 26, 2012 2:46 am

It's the stacks of dishes, piles of papers, and toys strewn everywhere that makes cleaning seem like an overwhelming chore for most homeowners. But once the clutter is removed, spaces look bigger, homeowners experience less stress and every room is easier to clean.

Below are five tips to make things easier:

Get organized
De-cluttering a home takes more effort and time than any other chore, but once it’s done, cleaning will be a snap. Start by tackling one room at a time. Go through the room and decide what to keep, what to sell or donate, and what items will go directly into the trash bin. Once that is finished, find a place to stow away all of the items you want to keep. Remember, the floor or the tops of tables, dressers or countertops are not storage areas. If you don't have enough storage space, invest in bookshelves, under-the-bed containers, or wicker baskets. Once your home is organized, don't bring in new items without eliminating something you already have.

Clean as you go
Housework is easier, less intimidating, and less time-consuming if you integrate individual chores into normal, daily activities. In the kitchen, for instance, clean as you cook. Fill the sink with soapy water and wash items as you use them or immediately place them in the dishwasher. While you wait for food to cook, get out the broom and dustpan and sweep the floor, or go through the mail and recycle what you don't need. In the bathroom, wipe down the tub or shower stall immediately after you've finished your morning routine. Do the same after you've used the sink. Remember to wipe the adjoining counter, too. All through the day, as you move from room to room, keep an eye out for items that are out of place and give them a home.

Keep cleaning supplies close at hand
Keeping supplies in the rooms where you will use them saves steps and time, and you will be more likely to clean up a mess as soon as you see it. Store a whisk broom and dustpan, a sponge or cleaning cloth, as well as other necessary cleaning products in the kitchen. Place appropriate cleaning supplies in each bathroom, too. If your home has several levels, keep a vacuum cleaner on each level.

Follow a schedule
For most busy people, it helps to build time to clean into their schedules. Clean the toilets every Saturday morning, for instance, and do the laundry on Thursday nights. Or you might choose to focus on one room each day. Schedule small cleaning tasks throughout the week, too, to make chores less onerous.

Now, not later
It only takes a few minutes to do some chores, so don't put them off. Make your bed every morning, throw out the trash as you leave the house for work, wash and fold the clothes while you're watching television, and pick up toys every night before bed.

Source: The Maids

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

Take Steps to Scare Away Foodborne Illness

October 26, 2012 2:46 am

Halloween officially starts the holiday season, which means more get-togethers with family and friends and more festive meals prepared at home. But lots of people and little time can create opportunities for mishandling and improper cooking of raw food products.

It is always important to consistently follow certain safe food handling practices, whether making a meal for yourself or your family, or preparing a feast for 12. That's because all raw agricultural products – whether its produce, fruit, meat, or poultry – could contain bacteria that might make someone sick. But, there are steps people can take in the home to reduce their risk.

Four simple words – clean, separate, cook and chill – can serve as reminders to always handle and cook food safely to reduce the risk of illness to you and your family:

Clean
• Wash hands, kitchen work surfaces, cutting boards and utensils thoroughly with soap and hot water immediately after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry, including frozen and fresh products. Hands should be washed before handling food and between handling different food items.
• Wash cutting boards between preparing different cuts of raw meat or poultry.

Separate
• Avoid cross-contaminating other foods. Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs from other foods in your grocery shopping cart, grocery bags, your kitchen and in your refrigerator.
• Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry and seafood.
• Do not rinse raw poultry in your sink - it will not remove bacteria. In fact, it can spread raw juices around your sink, onto your countertops or onto ready-to-eat foods. Bacteria in raw meat and poultry can only be killed when cooked to a safe internal temperature.

Cook
• Cook poultry thoroughly. Poultry products, including ground poultry, should always be cooked to at least 165 °F internal temperature as measured with a food thermometer; leftovers should be refrigerated no more than two hours after cooking.
• The color of cooked poultry is not a sure sign of its safety. Only by using a food thermometer can one accurately determine that poultry has reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F throughout the product. Be particularly careful with foods prepared for infants, older adults and persons with impaired immune systems.

Chill
• Make poultry products the last items you select at the store. Once home, the products must be refrigerated or frozen promptly.
• After cooking, refrigerate any uneaten poultry within two hours. Leftovers will remain safe to eat for two to three days.
• Refrigerators should be set to maintain a temperature of 40°F or below.
• Thaw frozen poultry in the refrigerator — not on the countertop — or in cold water.
• When barbecuing poultry outdoors, keep refrigerated until ready to cook. Do not place cooked poultry on the same plate used to transport raw chicken to the grill.
• Always marinate poultry in the refrigerator, up to two days. Marinade in which raw poultry has been soaking should never be used on cooked poultry, unless it is boiled first.

Source: National Chicken Council

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

Choosing Between Big-Business Retail or a Custom Solution

October 26, 2012 2:46 am

Every homeowner at some point has struggled with the furniture buying process. "Where should I go to find the item I need?" "Will this item match the other item from the last store?" "How long will this item really last?" Overwhelmed, these are often the questions that people ask themselves before exploring a custom solution. In addition to solving the common problems above, here are five important reasons to consider choosing custom furniture:

1. Your dining room looks exactly like your neighbor's – scary.

• "Keeping up with the Jones's" does not mean copying shopping at the same furniture store, and buying the same items. Having custom-made furniture means creating something that's unique and not settling for the same items you see elsewhere.

2. You don't actually believe that furniture should be disposable.

• The most expensive items are the ones that are never used. Instead of filling attics and landfills with items you thought were "good enough" but that ended up being no good, it's far more practical and less wasteful to have something custom made for your purposes.

3. Humans are better than machines.

• Whether you have a rustic trestle table, chair, or a home accessory custom made, you can and should develop a relationship with the artisan. The maker is not nameless and faceless; he or she is a real human being.

4. You want more than just a piece of furniture, you want a conversation piece.

• Custom-made items have a story behind them and you'll want to remember and share that story time and time again. The next time someone asks, "Where did you find that?" you'll never be at a loss for words. Specifically, no furniture has more history than that which is made from American barn wood; reclaimed wood from American barns 100-150 years old.

5. You want to commission tomorrow's antiques today.

• Do you see the value in a piece that lasts for generations? Your sense of style and personal touch will go into a custom-made piece of furniture that will be valued for years to come - how amazing will it feel to know you helped in its creation?

Consider these five factors for future home purchases as well, as the reasons for going custom are not limited to the world of furniture.

Source: eCustomFinishes

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

'Tis the Season to Use Mobile Apps to Save Money for the Holidays

October 25, 2012 2:44 am

Mobile shopping continues to grow with more than 110 million smartphone users in the U.S. and thousands of shopping apps available to consumers free of charge. As the holiday season approaches consumers are looking for ways to improve the shopping experience using mobile devices. According to a recent survey, 31 percent of consumers already have shopping-related apps on their smartphone, and 82 percent of those consumers plan to use those apps to help save money when purchasing holidays gifts. With the ever-increasing shopping app marketplace, it's no surprise that 32 percent of respondents with smartphones said they plan to download new shopping apps in preparation for the upcoming 2012 holiday season.

Shoppers plan to deck their phones with apps to find coupons and deals

When consumers were asked what types of shopping apps they plan to download for holiday shopping, coupon apps were the most popular with 70 percent of the vote. This was closely followed by 66 percent of shoppers who said they will download comparison shopping apps; 63 percent plan to download price check apps with the ability to scan barcodes; and 54 percent of respondents will download apps dedicated specifically to searching Black Friday deals. Forty-three percent of consumers plan to download deal-of-the-day apps from daily deal websites such as Groupon® and Living Social®; 32 percent selected price calculator apps to determine discounts, tax and total cost of purchases; and 30 percent plan to download a gift list app to manage their shopping lists.

Consumers plan to purchase gifts at every price point from their mobile device

As tablets and smartphones have increased in popularity, shoppers are not only using their money-saving apps to compare prices and look for coupons, they plan to follow through with purchasing products at every price point. Forty-two percent of consumers said they plan to purchase both big- and small-ticket items with a mobile shopping app; 41 percent will purchase small-ticket items under $100; 10 percent plan to purchase all of the holiday gifts on their list using shopping apps; and 7 percent will purchase big-ticket items over $100.

Almost half of shoppers plan to reduce trips to retail stores this season

Saving money, time, or just for fun, holiday shoppers are turning to new shopping apps to complement their in-store buying this year. When survey respondents were asked how many trips they plan to make to retail stores for holiday gift purchases this year, 45 percent of consumers said they plan to make the same amount of trips, 7 percent indicated more trips, and 48 percent said less trips this year. Of those respondents, 57 percent of consumers said they plan to make between one and five trips to retail stores to purchase holiday gifts. Thirty-three percent plan to make six to 10 trips; 8 percent of shoppers plan to take 11 to 20 trips; and 2 percent plan to make more than 21 trips to brick and mortar stores.

Source: PriceGrabber.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

A Winning Kitchen Remodel Recipe: 4 Secret Ingredients for Success

October 25, 2012 2:44 am

For the first time since 2008, kitchens have become the number one remodeling project for homeowners, according to the "Fall 2012 U.S. Remodeling Sentiment Report" from RemodelorMove.com. But before you join the rush to remodel your kitchen, you should carefully consider whether the project is a good idea for your finances and family.

To help you make the right decisions there are new and free tools available online to help you decide if remodeling is a good decision; estimate how much it will cost to remodel your kitchen, find, save, categorize, and share kitchen design ideas and pictures, and get answers to your remodeling questions.

Here is some sage advice to help you get started the smart way on your kitchen remodel:
First, decide if remodeling is right for you. You should consider a multitude of variables, such as: Can we comfortably pay for this remodel? Is my family emotionally ready to deal with the disruption? Would it be easier or less expensive to move instead?

Next, get a cost estimate. Remodel cost calculators are available to give you an instant estimate. It's important to get an estimate early in the planning phase to give you plenty of time to arrange your finances, compare prices on everything from appliances to countertops to cabinetry, and make sure your kitchen remodel is as budget friendly as possible.

Make organization a top priority. You'll be dealing with a thousand tiny details, ranging from paint colors to cabinets to floor plans. Letting any one of these details fall through the cracks could mean extra expense and delays.

Bring in the experts for answers. You may find that talking with a real estate agent, interior designer, architect, mortgage banker, or remodeling contractor can help you understand the true costs and benefits of remodeling.

If you approach your kitchen remodel with an eye for cost-effectiveness and organization, not only will you have a gorgeous new space to cook in, you can even increase the value of your home.

Source: RemodelorMove.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

Plan Now for Home Winterization

October 25, 2012 2:44 am

With winter rapidly approaching, homeowners are urged to consider winterizing their properties to potentially lower energy costs, increase comfort in cold months and possibly improve resale value.
"This is the perfect time for consumers to consider making seasonal updates to their homes," said Appraisal Institute President Sara W. Stephens, MAI. "Not only do these types of home improvements enhance living environments in winter months and possibly lower energy costs, but most can provide an above average return on investment in resale value."

Homeowners should focus on three main updates for the winter: windows, exterior and furnace.
Adding energy-efficient vinyl windows to the home can have an average payback of more than 69 percent, according to the Remodeling 2011–12 Cost vs. Value Report, published by Hanley Wood. Vinyl replacement windows offer a higher return on investment than wood replacement windows and also have a higher projected return on investment than many other home improvement projects, including a kitchen or bath remodel, addition of a master suite or new bathroom, or a roof replacement.

Replacement windows also can be especially valuable to homes built before 1978, due to the importance of reducing lead-based paint in older homes, according to the Hanley Wood research.
That same study found exterior replacement projects retained the most value in home improvements. For example, updating and replacing fiber-cement siding returned 78 percent of homeowners' original investment.

A furnace doesn't just provide heat and comfort during cold months, but proactively tuning or replacing a home's furnace can alleviate issues when considering resale. According to Consumer Reports, the average lifespan of a furnace is 15 to 18 years. Homeowners should keep this timeframe in mind when debating servicing versus replacement.

Homeowners should also contact an appraiser on the front end of their winterization projects. "Beyond the typical valuation services, an appraiser can be a valuable resource when consulting on home improvements," Stephens said. "A qualified, competent appraiser can make recommendations about which updates will provide the most impact on resale value, as well as what is the norm for the local area."

Homeowners can also make updates now to see an immediate saving in their energy bills.

1. Clean the gutters – Remove leaves and debris so rain and melting snow can drain, preventing backed up water or ice that can clog drains and allow water to seep into the house.

2. Add insulation – Most homes need a minimum of 12 inches of insulation in the attic, regardless of climate conditions. If ceiling joists are visible, the insulation needs to be beefed up because these are typically 10 to 11 inches.

3. Check the ducts – Ensure ducts are not exposed and are well-connected. Otherwise, homes with central heating can lose up to 60 percent of heated air before it reaches the vents, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Homeowners should also check for gaps and pinches in pipes and repair them to make sure heated air flows easily into the home.

4. Keep drafts out of windows – If replacing windows isn't in the cards this winter, insulating them with plastic and double-sided tape is extremely effective and much less expensive.

5. Tune the furnace – Clean and tune a furnace annually to increase efficiency and the life of the furnace. Check the furnace now to make sure it does not produce a smell, which will require attention before continuous running in the winter.

Source: The Appraisal Institute

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

Tips for Dressing Up Your Kitchen With a Cool Stool

October 24, 2012 2:44 am

Breakfast on the run, snacks after school and dinner in shifts to accommodate the softball, Boy Scout and PTA meetings. It’s great if everyone can sit down at the table together but often times it’s just not possible. Bar and counter stools are some of the most useful pieces of furniture in your home.

First things first, a counter stool is the proper height for a counter and bar stool…well, for a bar! But how to do you know which is best? Basically you want your seat to be 12″ below your eating surface. So here’s the rundown on the most common measurements:

- A dining table is 30″ high and a dining chair has a seat height of 18.″
- A countertop is 36″ high and a counter stool has a seat height of 24.″
- A bar is usually about 42″ high and a bar stool has a seat height of 30.″

So now that you have the basics down, it’s time to search for a super cool stool that will take things to a whole new level. This is an opportunity to pick something really special. Here are a few guidelines:

1. Measure before you shop. Stools with arms take up a lot more space. You want at least 6″ between stools. A space that accommodates 3 stools with arms, can usually allow 4 stools without arms.

2. Accentuate the positive. Consider bringing a new material into the mix with metal, bamboo or plexi-glass. Please do not choose the stools that match your dining chairs!

3. Don’t let the fabric distract you. Some bar stools have slip seats so if you love the stool but the fabric is lacking, you can always replace it.

4. Looking back. Most times you are going to be admiring your new stools from behind so the back and leg design should be your priority. If you want to simplify an already-busy kitchen design, then go backless.

Source: www.mydesignsecrets.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

Get Into the Halloween Spirit Without Spending a Fortune

October 24, 2012 2:44 am

The 7-out-of-10 Americans who will celebrate Halloween this year are expecting to spend an average of nearly $80 dressing trick-or-treaters, feeding goblins and ghosts, and decorating their haunted houses, according to a recent survey. The largest portion of the holiday spend will be on costumes ($28.65), followed by decorations ($23.56) and candy ($23.27). Total consumer spending for this spooktacular holiday is expected to reach $8 billion.

You can still get into the spirit of the holiday without breaking the bank by employing these few simple tips:

Make, don't purchase, your costume – Who said you need to buy your costume? Remember how much fun it was rummaging through your parents' closet to create your customized outfit when you were a kid? With a little planning and creativity, you and your little ones can win the costume contest using items you have on hand. Turn a cardboard box into a life-size laptop, TV, or robot. With a few folds of a sheet you can become a shepherd, Roman royalty, or the ever-familiar ghost. Need more costume ideas? The Internet has several websites with inexpensive and last minute ideas for everyone from the baby to the family pet. Just search "inexpensive Halloween costumes."

DIY decorations – Pumpkins are plentiful and fairly inexpensive this time of year. It's easy to turn your yard into a graveyard by cutting out cardboard headstones from old boxes, painting them gray, adding your favorite saying, attaching a stake to the back, and placing throughout your yard. Change the color of your porch light to create an eerie glow. Check out lighting stores for inexpensive colored bulbs and blacklights.

Save on your treats – Hold off purchasing your candy until the last minute when many retailers will put it on clearance. Additionally, kids will get enough treats, so stick to bite-size candy bars that are easier on your wallet.

You can have an enjoyable holiday without spending a fortune. Keeping your costs down eliminates the stress and allows you to enjoy this fun family time.

Source: BMO Harris Bank

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags: