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You bought your start-up home and have been living in it for a while now; it is everything you wanted to start your family, so you kept the yard nice, the lawn mowed, and the garbage picked up. You also cleaned the inside, organized and decorated it. However, now it’s time to move on and find a new home. However, before you sign on the dotted line, a home inspection should be a top priority.

Why Use a Home Inspector

Dangers are lurking everywhere, but your home shouldn’t be one of those places your family needs to be concerned for their well-being, and yet, many homes have trouble spots even before the owners move in, or well after. A comprehensive home evaluation or home inspection can alleviate unseen problems that can creep up years later, plaguing you with a financial burden that could have been prevented by having the home inspected. In addition, if you choose to sell your home in the future, having the home inspected is insurance for the new family moving in, and will go further in helping you sell the house.

What Does a Home Inspector Do?

A trained home inspector’s job is to examine the home, both inside and out, with a complete physical examination of the property, including major systems and components.  He/she then gives you an unbiased opinion about the current condition, including any water, structural or other damage that needs fixing, as well as any potential safety hazards, or any other issues that may require specialized inspection. A very comprehensive process requires a well-trained inspector, who may point out problems that may seem mundane to you, but that could end up costing money, time, and even your health.

How to Choose a Reputable Home Inspector

Just like any other profession, there are many professional home inspectors, probably some just a few minutes from your home, but how do you choose one that is sure to guarantee you a thorough inspection and not rip you off in the process? Here is a checklist of things you need to watch out for when choosing a reputable home inspector:

ü  Trainingthe inspector should be properly trained in all facets of home inspection and be up to date with all regulatory changes, including residential construction, techniques and systems.
ü  Certifiablethe inspector should be a certified by a reputable training institute and should be tested annually as set forth by the National Institute of Building Inspectors.
ü  Insurancethe inspector must have insurance, including, but not limited to E & O insurance—Errors & Omissions, as well as general liability and worker’s compensation insurance. If the home inspector doesn’t have any of these insurances, it is a strong indicator that the inspector has had no formal training, or has a poor track record in the industry.  For more information, visit the National Institute of Building Inspectors at http://www.nibi.com/
ü  Inspection Reportrequest a detailed, comprehensive written findings report, so you get a good idea of the depth and scope of the report you will receive, which will help you understand the findings.
ü  Just an inspectorthe home inspector should only inspect homes. Don’t choose an inspector who is also a contractor, thinking you will save money or the hassle of finding an inspector.  This is a conflict of interest, and most likely, the contractor will want to repair problems that he found, or in some cases, create problems that he can fix, which of course, will cost you more money in the long -run.
ü  Membership in associations—find someone that is associated with or backed by professional associations that you can verify, and find out what the requirements are for membership and certification. Having these credentials will ensure you get well-trained home inspector.
ü  References and reputation—get the names and numbers of at least a few recent customers that you can call and ask how satisfied they were with the home inspector. Find out if any problems surfaced or were overlooked after the inspection. Also, check with the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints had been filed against the company that the inspector works for.
ü  You get what you pay for—this is usually not the time to go with the cheapest home inspector out there. When it comes to something as important as the condition of your home, or the home in which you are about to buy, you want the best. Saving some money on an inspection is not worth the risk of overlooked repairs that could end up costing you a small fortune in the future.

What should be in the Home Inspection Report?

According to the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors, there are key things that should be included in your home inspection report:

·         Structural Elements—including construction of walls, ceilings, floors, roof and foundation
·         Exterior Evaluation—wall covering, landscaping, grading, elevation, drainage, driveways, fences, windows, domes, sidewalks, fascia, lights and exterior receptacles
·         Roof and Attic—framing, ventilation, type of roof construction, flashing and gutters
·         Plumbing—identification of pipe materials used for portable, drain, waste and vent pipes, including condition. Toilets, showers, sinks, faucets and traps. It does not include a sewer inspection.
·         Electrical—main panel, circuit breakers, types of wiring, grounding, exhaust fans, receptacles, ceiling fans and light fixtures
·         Appliances—dishwasher, range and oven, built-in microwaves, garbage disposal and smoke detectors
·         Garage—slab, walls, ceiling, vents, entry, firewall, garage door, openers, lights, receptacles, exterior, windows and roof
·         Systems and Components—water heaters, furnaces, air conditioning, duct work, chimney, fireplace and sprinklers

Other detailed things not in the report usually require a specialized inspection. They include testing of asbestos, radon, methane, radiation, formaldehyde, wood-destroying organisms, mold, mildew or fungi, rodents and lead. If you suspect problems with these hazardous chemicals, you can obtain a testing kit or call the Environmental Protection Agency.

Once you have made the decision to hire a home inspector and have any problems cleared up, congratulations, you can be rest assured that you’re getting the home you want, inside and out.

Choosing a Home Inspector, Ezine Articles, August 08, 2006
Hiring a Home Inspector, MoneyInstructor.com
Home Inspection Checklist,  About.com: Home Buying/Selling, 2007

Get That Special Someone in Your Life Something They’ll really Love This Valentine’s Day!

Valentine's Day is just around the corner and you're like most people you haven't a clue what to get your sweetheart. Although chocolate and jewelry for the ladies is a sure hit, a Valentine's Day teddy bear will be treasured, and better yet, doesn't cost a small fortune to buy.

What type of teddy bears are available for ladies?

We all know teddy bears are cute and even customizable, to suit your honey's personality, but did you also know there are giant teddy bears that are life-size? These are ones you carry around your shoulders, or ones that sit in a corner surrounded by other, smaller teddy bears? You can hug these bears or prop them up on a bed to admire. They also come in many sizes and colors, including blue, pink, plush tan color, and the more traditional black and brown. What's also great is these bears can hold pretty much anything, so presenting them as a Valentine's Day gift is sure to please, when one is carrying a heart-shaped box of chocolates or even a piece of jewelry wrapped around their huggable neck.

Planning on proposing to the love of your life? Giving a life-size teddy bear that's holding a jewelry box is both romantic and cute. If your honey is into comfort, a snow white bear holding a heart-shaped pillow may put a smile on her face and a smooch on your lips.

Choose a manly teddy bear for the guy in your life

Hey ladies, men like teddy bears too, especially if they're holding season tickets to his favorite team. How about a life-size chocolate bear that holds a soft pillow with the words, "I Love You" stitched on it, or two cuddly bears holding hands, cheek to cheek? Add a personalized Valentine's Day card and a yummy box of chocolates and you're set to spend a romantic Valentines with your sweetheart.

Planning on telling your sweetie you're expecting a little bundle of joy? Give a pink or blue life-size teddy with a pair of booties draped around its neck for a fun, sweet surprise, and watch his eyes light up. Feeling red-hot? A scarlet red teddy bear may be just the gift to heat up a cold, winter day. Slip on a red nightie and hand-deliver this bear to your man for an extra special treat.

Whatever gift you choose, be assured that you can never go wrong with a giant Valentine's Day teddy bear to cuddle up to or display lovingly through the years, and to keep those memories alive for generations to come.

Flowers Stand Out In Winter Even Among All the Glitter (Ghostwritten for FTD.com)

Flowers at any time of the year make for beautiful centerpieces for gatherings, weddings and other events. Flowers decorate tables, shelves and tops of dressers in master bedrooms. For a more festive look in your home, choose flowers you can buy at florists shops, stores and online sites, such as Christmas flowers at FTD.com and 1-800-flowers. These flowers can be made into any arrangement, and can transform your home into a winter wonderland. There are many holiday arrangements in which to choose, to give your home that perfect display for Christmas parties or for your family to enjoy during the holidays.

One such flower that seems to grace many a table is the Poinsettia, dubbed the Christmas plant because of its red color and festive look; they can be found in pretty much every department store, and are simple and beautiful, yet when displayed on decorative tables, stand out. In addition to dining tables, you can place poinsettias atop coffee tables, end tables, even atop counter tops and shelves for a festive look. They are also the chosen flower to give someone as a Christmas gift. They last a fairly long time if watered regularly, so your home keeps that festive look throughout the season.

Gorgeous roses are a must for a sweetheart, or again for a decorative display at your holiday get-together. Because roses come in many different colors, you can do so much with them. Red and white roses make for an elegant look. Couple them with amaryllis and they compliment each other nicely. When giving as a Christmas gift, pair them with candy canes and a sweet teddy bear, wrapped in a colorful gift bag.

If you're looking for big, bright flowers as a display, red gerbera daisies and white lilies are a perfect , stunning look that is sure to garner compliments from friends and family members. Place some holly berries and evergreen in-between, in a festive vase, and enjoy. If you love Christmas wreaths to adorn your door or wrapped around a porch light, evergreen is the popular choice, because you can stick pretty much any flower in the wreath, making beautiful creations for the holiday season.

Instead of the traditional red white and green Christmas colors, pick classy plum and burgundy carnations, with white roses littered throughout, in a matching square or oval vase. Carnations are a very popular flower, because they are inexpensive and last a long time. Plus, carnations come in many different colors and sizes, so you can create a stunning centerpiece. Also, you can stick carnations in wreaths, or even place in festive containers to give away as gifts.

You can also find Christmas flowers at FTD.com in an array of mini flowers that are nice fillers for the large lilies, daisies and roses. Mini hydrangeas and white campanulas make for a sweet decoration for a small tabletop Christmas tree, or intertwine with garland for a festive appeal. Mini roses are also striking when paired with attractive lilies or carnations.

When it comes to decorating your Christmas tree, it's not possible to decorate with live flowers because without water, they will die, but using silk flowers can have the same beautiful effect. Red roses, white lilies and carnations, holly berries, and many more silk flowers can really make a Christmas tree pop. For a Christmas dinner, place a simple, sweet carnation at each table setting, or a small, decorative vase, filled with mini roses. Your guests are sure to praise your creative efforts and decorative style.

Mothers and grandmothers love getting flowers from their loved ones, especially at Christmas time. A peppermint hydrangea plant that displays a burst of ice pink and white blooms is a perfect addition to their tabletop or sitting on a end table in a foyer. If they live in warmer climates, they can display a beautiful bouquet of white lilies and red roses on their porch or balcony. A variety of seasonally-arranged Christmas flowers at FTD.com, should last many weeks.

When decorating for the holidays outdoors, garland is always a favorite because evergreen doesn't fade. Place festive silk flowers inside the needles and string around a door or hang from a window. Garland can also be used with Christmas lights to light up your home. Inside, stick flowers in a garland and wrap around a railing or around a tree,

Decorating with tulips will also create a holiday look, and with these versatile flowers, you can arrange them in most anything for a festive display. You can use just tulips or couple them with roses and carnations, with babies breath, and place around your home. If you're decorating your home in a more non-traditional, elegant way, choose exotic flowers, such as orchids, lotus or anthurium, and sprayed silk flowers in your color scheme. You can purchase tulips and many other flowers from many different florist shops, such as teleflora.com, flowerdeliveryexpress.com, proflowers.com or Christmas flowers at FTD.com.


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